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Archive for August, 2017

Aug
31

788 Tricks of the Press Photographers

Filed Under Digital Photography Tips

Let’s look at how a spaghetti strainer can help you learn about photography. There are three new and probably a bit exotic lenses on the horizon and Chris explains what they are good for. He also looks at the tricks of the press photographers to help you take better hand-held low light shots.

RECEIVE EMAIL FOR NEW EPISODES

Photo tours with Chris Marquardt:
» May 2017: Svalbard — Arctic (sold out)
» Oct 2017: Bhutan — The Happiness Kingdom (only 1 spot open)
» Jan 2018: Ladakh — Chadar Trek
» Aug 2018: Ireland — Giant's Causeway
» Sep 2018: Norway — Lofoten Fantastic Fjords
» Oct 2018: Morocco
» all photo tours

The post 788 Tricks of the Press Photographers appeared first on PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS FROM THE TOP FLOOR.

Aug
31

788 Tricks of the Press Photographers

Filed Under Digital Photography Tips

Let’s look at how a spaghetti strainer can help you learn about photography. There are three new and probably a bit exotic lenses on the horizon and Chris explains what they are good for. He also looks at the tricks of the press photographers to help you take better hand-held low light shots.

RECEIVE EMAIL FOR NEW EPISODES

Photo tours with Chris Marquardt:
» May 2017: Svalbard — Arctic (sold out)
» Oct 2017: Bhutan — The Happiness Kingdom (only 1 spot open)
» Jan 2018: Ladakh — Chadar Trek
» Aug 2018: Ireland — Giant's Causeway
» Sep 2018: Norway — Lofoten Fantastic Fjords
» Oct 2018: Morocco
» all photo tours

The post 788 Tricks of the Press Photographers appeared first on PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS FROM THE TOP FLOOR.

Aug
31

Motorola Moto X4 brings a dual-cam with super-wide-angle to the mid-range segment

Filed Under News: Digital Photography Review

Lenovo has introduced the Motorola Moto X4 at its IFA 2017 event and closes the gap in its line-up that was created after the Moto X series went into hiatus with the launch of the Moto Z models last year.

The Moto X4 is an upper-tier mid-ranger that slots in between the Moto Z and Moto G series and aims to offer a comprehensive feature set at an attractive price point. 400 Euros (no US pricing has been revealed yet) get you a 5.2" 1080p IPS display, a sleek metal body with glass back, IP68 water-resistance, Snapdragon 630 chipset, Amazon Alexa integration and a dual-camera.

The latter combines a 12MP main camera with an 8MP 120-degree super-wide-angle, a similar concept to what we've seen on more recent LG high-end devices. The main cameras features a 12MP sensor with 1.4um pixel size, F2.0 aperture and PDAF. The super-wide angle has a smaller sensor with 1.12um pixels and F2.2 aperture. Bokeh effect and 4K video recording are on board as well.

The front camera specification looks quite impressive for a device in this class as well: a 16MP sensor is accompanied by a F2.0 lens and a front LED flash. A 4MP low-light mode uses pixel-binning for reduced noise in dim lighting conditions.

We are having our hands on a test unit and first impressions are promising. The device feels very solidly built and, as always with Moto devices, the lean Android implementation feels smooth and responsive in operation. The super-wide-angle lens looks like a useful addition to the main camera but we'll have to do some proper testing before commenting on image quality. The Moto X4 will be available in Super Black and Sterling Blue this fall worldwide.

Motorola #motox4 with dual-cam and glass-back, looks like a contender in the upper mid-range #ifa2017

A post shared by Lars Rehm (@larsrehm) on

Key specifications:

  • Dual-camera with 12MP main camera and 8MP 120 degree super-wide-angle
  • 1.4um pixel size, F2.0 aperture and PDAF on main camera
  • 1.12um pixel size and F2.2 aperture on super-wide-angle
  • 4K video
  • 16MP / F2.0 front camera
  • 5.2" 1080p IPS display with Gorilla Glass
  • Snapdragon 630 chipset
  • 3GB RAM, 32GB storage
  • 3,000 mAh battery
Aug
31

Photographers face three felonies after climbing bridge for cityscape shot

Filed Under News: Digital Photography Review

Benjamin Franklin Bridge at night by Jeffrey Phillips Freeman

Breaking the law to get the perfect shot can have serious legal consequences, a harsh reality currently facing photographers Martin J. Romero-Clark and Andrew Lillibridge, who were arrested after climbing onto the Ben Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia.

According to local news site Philly.com, police received an alert at 12:50AM on July 25th about a potential jumper on top of the bridge; this prompted a response from the Philadelphia Police marine units, port authority police, and the Philadelphia Fire Department. Upon arriving at the scene, authorities reportedly discovered the two photographers with camera gear. By the time the two were arrested at 1:20AM, the incident had drawn 36 firefighters, eight port authority officers, and seven port authority rescuers.

Statements from authorities to local news indicate that the photographers' climb onto the bridge had tripped security alarms and was captured on security cameras. In addition, the bridge had to be shut down for 103 minutes.

In a statement to Philly.com, Delaware River Port Authority CEO John Hanson said the two had worn black clothing and climbed the bridge on a wet night, putting both themselves and everyone on the ground at risk. "They could have fallen, they could have been injured in the process of apprehending them, and they put the heroic men and women of our police department and the Philadelphia Fire Department at risk," Hanson said. "We’re going to prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. I am not amused, and I am very angry."

The pair now face two third-degree felonies, one fourth-degree felony, and their photography equipment has been confiscated.

Aug
31

Is Shooting RAW+JPEG the Best of Both Worlds?

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Photography Tips and Tutorials

For a long time in photography, there has been somewhat of a debate between shooting in RAW versus JPEG. Well, maybe debate is the wrong word. Usually, it is a matter of experienced photographers encouraging beginners to start shooting in RAW and stop shooting JPEG. There isn’t much question that RAW files are superior. Those who don’t edit their files probably don’t really see the point of RAW files though. Therefore, there are plenty of people who shoot both RAW+JPEG

RAW+JPG - The Best of Both Worlds?

Usually, this question gets presented as an either/or proposition. In other words, you have to make a decision, looking at the pros and cons of shooting RAW files and JPEGs. But if you could have the advantages of both, however, wouldn’t that be the way to go? You can, actually!

Take a look at your camera’s Quality or Image Quality setting in the menu. Most cameras will allow you to set you to put that setting on both RAW and JPEG. By doing so, aren’t you getting the best of both worlds?

Let’s take a look. But first, let’s review the advantages of RAW files versus JPEGs.

RAW+JPG - The Best of Both Worlds?

RAW+JPEG settings on Canon system.

JPEGs

When you take a picture, your camera is actually taking the data that it receives from the image sensor and creating a file. In the early days of digital, a group of experts got together and agreed on a file format everyone could use. It is called JPEG and stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group. The idea is that everyone would use the same format and thus it would be easily shareable. And you know what? That has worked out pretty well. JPEGs are more or less ubiquitous. If you just pick up your camera and start shooting, you are creating JPEGs. It is the default of virtually every camera. It is also the format of virtually every picture you see online.

But when your camera creates a JPEG, a few things happen. The first is that the camera compresses the picture data so that the file size is smaller. A JPEG will only use about a quarter of the data that your camera captures. That means that a large chunk of data is actually discarded. Some of that is color data, which is done by reducing the number of available colors (there are still a lot of colors available in JPEGs though). Where you’ll see the biggest impact is in the highlights and shadows, where some detail may be lost.

In addition, the camera will add some processing to the picture. The camera manufacturers know that you want your pictures coming out of the camera looking sharp and colorful. Therefore, they will add some effects, like sharpness, contrast, and saturation to them at the same time that the JPEG file is being created. That is nice in that the pictures generally do look at little better, but the downside is that you aren’t in control of the process.

And that brings us to RAW files.

RAW+JPG - The Best of Both Worlds?

The RAW advantage

In most cameras, you can go into the menu and change the file format to something called RAW. No, there isn’t really some sort of universal file format called RAW. Rather, each camera has its own way of bundling the data that it receives from the image sensor when you take the picture and creating its own proprietary file (NEF for Nikon, CRW or CR2 for Canon, RAF for Fuji, etc.), which is called a RAW file. Right away, you can see an issue with this, in that these files are not easily shareable. In addition, these files are huge, typically 3-4 times the size of JPEGs.

So why does nearly everyone recommend shooting RAW then? Because they are simply superior files. Whereas JPEGs discard data in order to create a smaller file size, RAW files preserve all of that data. That means you keep all the color data, and you preserve everything you can in the way of highlight and shadow detail.

In addition, whereas the camera adds processing when it creates JPEGs, that doesn’t happen when you create RAW files. That means you are in control of the process. You can add whatever level of sharpness, contrast, and saturation (and other controls) you want. The camera isn’t making those decisions for you.

Sure, these files are bigger, but they are way better. Further, you can always create a JPEG from your RAW file later, which you can use to share online while still preserving all the underlying data of the RAW file.

RAW+JPG - The Best of Both Worlds?

RAW+JPEG in the Sony system.

Shooting both RAW files and JPEGs

So RAW files are the way to go, right? I mean, you are preserving all that color data and highlight and shadow detail. And you are in full control of the processing of your picture. But what about if you are not going to process your photos at all? Wouldn’t it make sense to then shoot JPEG since it is the file that looks best coming out of the camera? Or what if you need to send the photo from your camera right away?

Why not take both? Your camera will likely have a setting allowing you to do both so that every time you take a picture the camera is creating a RAW file and a JPEG. That would allow you to have all the advantages of both file types. How might that benefit you? Here are a few ways I see:

  • You can use a JPEG immediately: First of all, you can use JPEGs immediately.  Let’s say you have Wifi in your camera or want to otherwise share the photo immediately. JPEGs make sense for this. RAW files don’t. They aren’t easily shareable and they don’t look the best coming out of the camera anyway.
  • Future-proofs the photo: What if you are creating RAW files with your Canon camera and in 10 years Canon goes out of business? Will your RAW files lose support over time? This seems unlikely, but it is enough of an issue that Adobe has been pushing its own cross-platform solution called DNG (digital negative). However, if you have a JPEG, this will never be an issue. Everyone is shooting JPEGs and they aren’t going anywhere.
  • You can see how the camera processes: If you have a JPEG sitting next to your RAW file on your computer, you can see how your camera decided to process your photo. In other words, you can see how much sharpening, contrast, and saturation was added and, if you like it, mimic that effect when you do your own processing. This can be helpful when you are just starting out and trying to decide how much processing to add to your photos.
  • LCD preview: When you look at a photo on your LCD, you are seeing the JPEG version of your photo. You can add different processing via the Pictures Styles. That includes things like Black and White. So if you want to see effects while maintaining the integrity of the RAW file, then taking both can be beneficial.

Why not shoot only RAW?

But wait a second, you might think. Surely these are really minor advantages. Why bother with all that? Why not just use the RAW file?

Yes, these are really minor advantages, but at the same time, what is the cost? Virtually nothing. Over time, data has gotten cheaper and cheaper. Adding a JPEG costs virtually nothing. Memory cards these days hold hundreds or even thousands of pictures, and they are now pretty cheap. You can now get a 64GB card for about $35. You can get hard drives that store terabytes of data for under $100. These prices continue to come down as well. Compared to the RAW files you are shooting, the JPEG just takes up a tiny bit of data. So while I agree that adding the JPEG doesn’t add a lot, it also doesn’t cost a lot.

There is one other aspect I haven’t mentioned though and that is speed. Remember that your camera has to write all this data to your card. If you are just taking a few pictures at a time (or one at a time), this will not be a factor. But if you are someone shooting sports or wildlife with a serious need for the maximum frames per second, then there will be an additional cost. The time to write the additional file will slow you down a little bit. In that context, I could definitely see foregoing the extra file. But for most of us, this won’t apply.

RAW+JPG - The Best of Both Worlds?

Why not shoot just JPEG?

At the same time, there are some photographers who will think to themselves, “Well, I don’t process my pictures, so I might as well just shoot JPEGs to get the best looking file I can straight out of the camera.” To those that don’t process their pictures, I would first say, “You should be.” You don’t need to make dramatic changes or make them look surreal, but you can do wonders with some tweaks.

In any case, just because you don’t do any processing of your pictures now doesn’t mean you won’t ever process your pictures. In a year or two, you might change your mind. When that happens, you don’t want to be kicking yourself for not having obtained the best files possible.

Best of both worlds

I have been shooting RAW+JPEG for several years now. Do I actually use the JPEGs? Admittedly, almost never. I always edit the RAW files and usually don’t touch the JPEGs. As mentioned, however, the JPEGs don’t cost me anything so I am sticking with this setting. In addition, there were few times when I was on the road and wanted to send photos straight from my camera so having the JPEG turned out to be useful.

So that’s how it works for me. But ultimately the decision on what type of files you want to create is up to you. What do you think? Is shooting RAW+JPEG the best of both worlds of a waste of space?

The post Is Shooting RAW+JPEG the Best of Both Worlds? by Jim Hamel appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Aug
31

DIYer creates ‘Polaroid’ camera that ‘prints’ instant animated GIFs

Filed Under News: Digital Photography Review

It sounds like Harry Potter magic, but it's not. Industrious DIYer Abhishek Singh recently took to Reddit to show off his own version of an instant camera, one that 'prints' animated GIFs instead of photos. Singh built the Instagif Camera himself and based it on the Polaroid OneStep SX-70 camera, though it uses a special hardware cartridge rather than a packet of film.

Singh detailed the entire build process in an album on Imgur, explaining that it features a Raspberry Pi 3 (camera) and Raspberry Pi Zero W (cartridge), PiTFT display, PowerBoost 1000C charger, momentary switch, and LiPo battery... among other things. After designing a 3D model of the camera, the individual components were 3D printed with a Project 7000 SLA printer, painted, and assembled.

The GIF, as demonstrated in the video above, fades into view in a way similar to a Polaroid photo, and the cartridge connects to the camera itself directly, no external WiFi network necessary. Singh has provided the software, a parts list, and instructions for anyone to download and build their own Instagif Camera. All the links are available in the Imgur album and the code is available in GitHub.

Aug
31

Spekular is a modular LED lighting system you can reshape to suit your needs

Filed Under News: Digital Photography Review

Spiffy Gear, the company behind the Light Blaster strobe projector, is back with another accessory for photographers and videographers who want a lighting solution that can conform to every shooting situation. It's called Spekular, and Spiffy is calling it "the Swiss army knife of LED lighting."

Spekular consists of four ultra-bright, color-accurate LED strips that can be arranged in whatever configuration suits your shooting needs. Each of the four LED lights boasts a dimmable, flicker-free 14.5 watts of power (~150W halogen) with color accuracy guaranteed (94+ CRI and 96+ TLCI).

Here's a quick intro video so you can see the lights in action:

And here are a few sample shots, all captured with the Spekular arranged in one of its various configurations (Note: the star shape requires an additional four-light 'expansion kit' and star adapter):

Spiffy is branding the Spekular as 'the only light you need,' and while we're always a bit skeptical of grand claims, the modular design and attention to technical detail certainly make it a unique lighting option.

You can find out more about Spekular on the Spiffy Gear website, where you can order the standard 4-light kit for $650, the 4-light extension for $130, a battery adapter (in case the power goes) also for $130, and that Star Adapter for, you guessed it, $130.

Press Release

Spekular from Spiffy Gear is the Swiss army knife of LED lighting for photo and video.

SUMMARY: Spekular is a modular LED lighting system for videographers and photographers. It is a collection of light bars with high brightness and unparalelled color accuracy. The system drastically reduces the number of accessories needed to create professional lighting setups.

31 August 2017 – Today, Spiffy Gear launches the $650 Spekular, a flexible, modular LED lighting system for videographers and photographers. Spekular adapts into different lighting modifiers, such as light strips, soft boxes or shaped lights for creative effects.. This reduces the amount of gear needed to be carried to shoots. Spekular can be configured as a ring, a square, a strip, a star, a "standard" panel, and many more configurations.

Using the attachment options in the Spekular kit, discerning lighting artists can configure the light into different shapes to create different looks, adapt to different situations, and add flair to portraits by adding eye-catching catch lights.

Spekular is extremely bright. Each of the LEDs sections provides 14.5W of light (the equivalent of around 150W of halogen light). And there are four of them. This kit delivers as much power as four “standard” LED panels, so you have to carry less to light more.

Spekular is fully dimmable for further lighting flexibility, without any of the flickering typically associated with dimmable LED light sources. The LED bars do all of this while maintaining a perfect color rendition to save you time in post-production. (94+ CRI and 96+ TLCI).

The kit is extremely sturdy and hard-wearing. It can withstand the hard, unrelenting abuse of a typical professional photo or video shoot. Its aluminum sections and tough ABS connectors will keep going, day after grueling day.

"Spekular will enable photographers and videographers to tell their stories while paying less, carrying less and having more lighting options, says Udi Tirosh, CEO at Spiffy Gear.

The Spekular Ecosystem

At launch, Spekular is part of an extendable kit, with accessories to add even more flexibility.

The Spekular kit is the core kit to get you started with Spekular. It consists of four LED light sections, four hinged connectors and mounting gear, all packed in a handy carrying case. This kit provides more than 5,000 luminous flux of light.

The optional Spekular Star Adapter enables you to configure the Spekular kit into an eight-section star with a hole in the middle. The hole is big enough to shoot through, making some creative lighting options possible.

The optional Spekular Extension Kit unlocks even more ways to use Spekular. It enables using one kit as a three points lighting system, create complex lighting schemes, and create long seamless strips.

The Spekular Battery Adapter makes the Spekular kit usable anywhere in the world. Use any DTAP-enabled battery to power the kit - no need to be plugged into a wall socket. The battery adapter includes a mounting bag that connects to a light stands for easy access.

Pricing and Availability

Spekular is available starting today at http://www.spekular.com/ and at selected photography retailers.

  • Spekular kit: $650
  • Spekular Star Adapter: $130
  • Spekular Extension Kit: $130
  • Spekular Battery Adapter: $130
Aug
31

Photonicz One is the first ever compact weather-sealed LED strobe light

Filed Under News: Digital Photography Review

Photonicz, a California-based company founded by photographer Alex Munoz, is seeking funding for the new Photonicz One: the first ever compact LED strobe light that is weather-sealed. Due to this weather-sealed design, the Photonicz One can be used outdoors in snow and rain without risking damage... not bad.

oining that durable construction is a light weight of just 1.5kg / 3.3lbs, and compact size measuring in at just 4.9 x 4.7 x 3.5in (or 124 x 119 x 89mm for you metric types).

The Photonicz One strobe light offers a maximum power output equivalent of 2500 watts, is capable of speeds as fast as 1/50,000 of a second, and can fire at full power at speeds up to 30fps from battery power. The built-in battery is capable of powering 'thousands' of full-power flashes per charge, according to the company.

Users have two options for controlling the Photonicz One: a built-in touchscreen display, or the remote control with OLED display. The remote control can be paired with an iPhone or Android mobile device for use with an app that lends even more control options. Finally, the Photonicz One can also be wirelessly synced with other lighting devices, or can be triggered individually from distances of up to 0.6 miles / 1km.

Here's a quick intro to the new strobe:

The Photonicz One's design is still a work-in-progress; the Kickstarter campaign, which is offering backers the chance to get the device at $750 USD, offers images of the device prototype. The final design may have a different look.

Assuming Photonicz is able to successfully fund the strobe, the Photonicz One will begin shipping to backers in March of 2018.

Aug
31

DJI releases Mavic Pro Platinum with better battery life and quieter flight

Filed Under News: Digital Photography Review

Like everybody else today, DJI took advantage of IFA in Berlin to announce a few new products. In addition to an 'Obsidian' version of the Phantom 4 Pro and a new shooting mode for the DJI Spark, DJI revealed the Mavic Pro Platinum: a longer-lasting, quieter version of the popular foldable DJI Mavic Pro.

In DJI's own words, the DJI Mavic Pro Platinum "takes all of the advanced features of the Mavic Pro which revolutionized personal flight and builds on them." The drone is targeted at travelers, amateur photographers and outdoor sports enthusiasts who want a little bit more performance than the original Mavic can offer.

To that end, the new Platinum version improves the battery by 11% for a total per-charge flight time of 30 minutes. It also decreases flying noise by a whopping 60% (4 Decibels), making it a little easier to remain inconspicuous while capturing aerial footage. Plus it looks a bit 'fancier' than the original too:

To learn more about this drone, click here. And if you're already interested enough to buy, the drone is available to pre-order on the DJI website for $1,100.

Aug
31

The Sandisk iXpand Base is an iPhone dock that backs up your phone while it charges

Filed Under News: Digital Photography Review

Unlike many Android phones, Apple's iPhones don't come with microSD slots or other expandable storage. iPhone users who do not trust the cloud can therefore have a hard time backing up photos, videos, contacts and other types of content from the their devices.

To make local backup easier on iPhone users, Western Digital has introduced a creative solution: The SanDisk iXpand Base. This iPhone dock enables users to automatically back up their files while their phone charges. The device combines a 15W charger with a built-in harddrive and offers up to 250GB capacity.

Simply plug the iPhone in and leave it on the rubberized surface while charging. Data is backed up automatically and can be restored via a dedicated app. This works with previously set up iPhones, but also brand new devices, making it a useful option for data transfer when you're upgrading to a new iPhone model.

Prices start at $50 and go as high as $200 depending on capacity.