Thoughts and Field Test: Leica X-U Underwater Camera

The post Thoughts and Field Test: Leica X-U Underwater Camera appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Suzi Pratt.

leica-x-u-underwater-camera-review

When it comes to waterproof cameras, you’re likely to think of GoPro or a similar action camera first. But what if you wanted a waterproof camera with full manual control? There aren’t many options on the market unless you’re willing to splurge for an underwater housing for a DSLR or mirrorless camera. But there’s a less-known option made by the venerable camera brand, Leica. In 2016, Leica introduced the Leica X-U – a rugged, waterproof compact camera. It didn’t seem to get much fanfare as it was completely unbeknownst to me until I browsed Borrowlenses.com in search of a camera for my upcoming whitewater rafting trip.

So how did it perform? Read on to find out!

Leica XU underwater camera

Technical specs

The Leica X-U is considered a point and shoot camera. It has a 16.2 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor and a fixed Summilux 23mm f/1.7 lens (equivalent to about 35mm in 35mm format). The camera can shoot both RAW and JPG photos and record full HD video (1080p).

Some dials allow you to take full manual control of the camera and set the ISO, shutter speed, and aperture. You can even manually focus the lens.

Taking into consideration all of these specs, this is essentially a pro-level camera that has the added benefit of being dustproof, shatterproof, waterproof (up to 15 meters for 60 minutes), and shockproof (from heights of up to 1.22 meters). It has a pro-grade camera price tag retailing at $2,999 USD.

Look and feel

There’s no escaping the fact that the Leica X-U is a chunky camera, especially when compared to other waterproof point-and-shoots on the market. It weighs in at 1.32 lbs and doesn’t float or come with a floating strap. Thus, you’ll want to make sure it is always strapped tight to you, or find a floating strap for it.

The camera exterior, made of anti-slip rubber, feels good in the hands. In front is a manual focus fixed lens with a built-in flash on top. There’s also a hot shoe on top of the camera for adding a larger flash or extra accessories.

Leica also includes a rubber lens cap with a small strap, but it fits very loosely and is prone to falling off. I recommend looping the lens cap strap to the camera for extra security.

Leica XU underwater camera

Ease of use

This was my first time using a Leica camera. Up until this point, all I knew about Leicas was that 1) they were expensive, 2) they’re very solid in construction, and 3) their user interface is relatively simple and straightforward. All of these assumptions are true in the Leica X-U, but it is the third point that I appreciated the most.

The bulk of the camera’s controls are in the top two knobs and the lens’ focus ring. If you’ve used a film camera or Fujifilm mirrorless camera, you’ll feel right at home. Any other camera settings are controlled using buttons on the rear end of the camera, where there is also a large, brightly-lit LCD screen. Buttons were decently responsive, and the LCD was fast and accurate.

The one thing I wish Leica included is a touchscreen LCD. Menus are laid out simply, and it was easy to adjust settings. A rechargeable battery powers the camera, and it easily lasted a full day of shooting.

Leica XU underwater camera

Performance in the field

I extensively researched this camera before renting it for my rafting trip. Unfortunately, most of the camera reviews swayed toward the negative. Many claim the Leica X-U’s autofocus is too slow, and its overall features fall behind when compared to what modern cameras (and smartphones) can achieve.

When shooting with this camera, I brushed off those negative reviews. Shooting with this camera was an absolute joy. I loved the ability to shoot in manual without having to worry about water splashes. And it is very easy to go from shooting still photos to video since the video record button is right next to the shutter.

Leica-X-U-underwater-camera

Best of all was the ability to shoot photos of the night stars, which was my main reason for wanting this camera. My rafting trip frowned upon bringing non-waterproof cameras, so I didn’t want to risk bringing my expensive mirrorless cameras.

However, we would be spending the night in the pitch-black forests of Southern Oregon with stars shining bright every night, and I wanted the ability to snap photos of them.

With its fast aperture and the ability to shoot in manual focus, the Leica X-U had the capability of pulling off star photography, and it did so pretty well.

Leica XU Underwater Camera

At the end of each day, I reviewed the photos and videos on the camera and marveled at what I was able to capture. Those negative reviews seemed completely wrong – that is until I reviewed everything on my computer.

Image and video quality

It’s a classic mistake to review media content on a tiny device screen and think that everything is working well. The real quality test is to review them on a big screen. Doing this showed that those reviewers were 100% right.

The Leica X-U’s image quality is quite good when shooting a static or slow-moving object. However, the camera absolutely blew the autofocus when shooting anything in movement.

This is an odd shortcoming for a camera that seems built for action, but it happened on a very consistent basis.

Leica XU Underwater Camera

For fast-paced scenarios, the autofocus simply wasn’t fast enough, leading to many unfocused shots like this.

Leica XU Underwater Camera

The video quality was downright atrocious, and I’m ashamed that I put so much trust in this camera when shooting videos. My Samsung Galaxy S10, in its waterproof case, took far better video.

So…should you use this camera?

Handling this camera was an absolute joy, but I can’t commend its photo or video quality.

If you’re seeking a waterproof camera with manual controls, this camera might work for you, but it depends on what you’re shooting. In fast-paced action scenarios, this camera’s autofocus performance won’t keep up. But if you’re shooting static landscapes or astrophotography, this camera will likely meet your needs.

For videography, don’t even bother.

Leica XU Underwater Camera

Leica XU Underwater Camera

Leica XU Underwater Camera

Leica XU Underwater Camera

Leica XU Underwater Camera

Leica XU Underwater Camera

Leica XU Underwater Camera

Leica XU Underwater Camera

Leica XU Underwater Camera

The post Thoughts and Field Test: Leica X-U Underwater Camera appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Suzi Pratt.

Sigma 45mm f/2.8 Lens for Sony Review

The post Sigma 45mm f/2.8 Lens for Sony Review appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Suzi Pratt.

The Sigma 45mm f/2.8 DG DN (sony, Leica) is the latest addition to Sigma’s Contemporary lens line. Launched in July 2019, this lens is available as Sony E-mount or Leica L-mount. The latter mount is of particular interest as the new L-mount is compatible with Panasonic and Leica full-frame cameras, plus Sigma’s own forthcoming L-mount mirrorless cameras. I got my hands on an E-mount version and tested the lens with my Sony A7RIII. Here are my thoughts.

Sigma 45mm f/2.8 Lens for Sony E Mount

Specs

The Sigma 45mm f/2.8 lens has a maximum aperture of f/2.8, which may be a disappointment for photographers used to having at least an f/1.8 on their prime lenses. It also is a fairly expensive lens given its $549 price tag. However, this lens makes amends when it comes to size and the build quality.

Size

Compared to other Sigma prime lenses such as the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art (Nikon, Canon, Sony), this lens is significantly smaller and more lightweight. It weighs 7.5 ounces (half of the aforementioned 35mm) and comes in at less than 2-inches long. This makes the 45mm much more portable and discreet when compared to Sigma’s other Art lens primes that all have an f/1.4 aperture, but are significantly larger and heavier.

This compact size is closer to that of the Canon 50mm f/1.8 and 40mm f/2.8 pancake lens. Both were my longtime favorite prime lenses when I shot with Canon DSLRs. The beauty about this size is that it feels very balanced when attached to a full-frame camera, whether it be my old Canon 5D Mark III or my new Sony A7RIII. With that said, this lens puzzles me when I compare it to other similar lenses that I’ve owned.

Sigma 45mm f/2.8 Lens for Sony E Mount

Sigma 45mm f/2.8 (left), Fujifilm 35mm f/2 (center), and Sony 55mm f/1.8 (right).

Build quality

It’s hard to ignore the design of this lens, which is both visually eye-catching and functional. There are two physical rings – the outermost ring controls the focus and the innermost ring selects the aperture, similar to how a Fujifilm lens performs. Choosing the aperture via the lens can take some getting used to, but it’s a wonderful way to interact with your camera. There’s also a switch to toggle autofocus or manual focus. The lens itself is made mostly of metal, and it includes a lens hood that is also made of metal. There is also weather sealing on the mount of the lens to keep dust and dirt at a minimal.

Shooting experience

45mm is an interesting focal length. It sits comfortably between two of the most popular focal lengths out there: the 35mm and 50mm. Not too wide or too narrow, 45mm gives you a range that feels natural, yet intentional. Autofocus on this lens is fast, accurate, and very quiet thanks to a fast-stepping motor.

If you shoot on a Sony full-frame mirrorless camera, you may also be familiar with the feature of flipping between shooting in full-frame and APS-C mode. While the latter does crop and shrink your images, it gives you the ability to shoot at a slightly zoomed-in focal length. This, in turn, gives you at least two focal lengths to shoot from, and it is one of my favorite features of my Sony A7RIII.

Sigma 45mm f/2.8 Lens for Sony E Mount

Image quality

The images captured by the Sigma 45mm f/2.8 lens result in very consistent color, tones, and sharpness. This lens has a rounded seven-blade diaphragm that renders a smooth, shallow depth of field. There is a minimum focusing distance of 9.4 inches, giving this 45mm decent macro capabilities.

In Conclusion

Overall, I had a very positive experience shooting with this Sigma 45mm f/2.8 lens. The compact size complemented the Sony A7RIII perfectly, making it a very portable unit. I usually have a 24-70mm f/2.8 or 55mm f/1.8 glued to my camera when shooting in low lighting scenarios. Thus, the 45mm’s f/2.8 aperture did not hinder me much. However, there is something to be said about having a faster aperture, especially in low light conditions.

If you enjoy shooting with a versatile prime lens that is reasonably fast but very portable, this Sigma 45mm f/2.8 lens might be the lens for you.

What are your first impressions of the Sigma 45mm f/2.8 lens? Would you purchase it? Why or why not?

Sample photo gallery

Sigma 45mm f/2.8 Lens for Sony E Mount

Sigma 45mm f2.8 for Sony E Mount

Sigma 45mm f2.8 for Sony E Mount

Sigma 45mm f2.8 for Sony E Mount

Sigma 45mm f2.8 for Sony E Mount

Sigma 45mm f2.8 for Sony E Mount

Sigma 45mm f/2.8 Lens for Sony E Mount

 

Sigma 45mm f/2.8 Lens for Sony

The post Sigma 45mm f/2.8 Lens for Sony Review appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Suzi Pratt.

Thoughts and a Field Test: The Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Lens for Sony

The post Thoughts and a Field Test: The Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Lens for Sony appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Suzi Pratt.

Sony lenses are notoriously expensive, so it’s a welcome relief that third-party manufacturers have been making solid E-Mount lenses. The Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 is one such lens. It is the highly anticipated follow-up to the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8, which was announced in 2018 and is almost always on backorder due to its popularity. After testing the Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8, I have no doubt that this lens will be equally popular.

Read on to find out why.

Tamron 17-28mm for Sony E-Mount

The Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 tech specs

First off, 17-28mm is indeed a niche and unique focal length. No other manufacturer makes a lens with this range. The closest comparison is the 16-35mm f/2.8, a focal length made by Sony, Canon, and Nikon.

If you’re disappointed about having less reach with the Tamron, consider that if you use this lens with a Sony full-frame, you can always shoot in APS-C mode, which gives you more range. This is one of the most useful features on my Sony a7R III.

Why Tamron went for this slightly more limited focal length is puzzling, but it likely explains how they kept the lens to such a small size. In the comparison photo below, you’ll see that the 17-28mm is essentially the same size as the original Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 and the Sony 24-70mm f/4. Weight-wise, the Tamron is the lightest, coming in at 420 g (0.93 lbs). That is quite a bit lighter than Sony’s own 16-35mm f/2.8, which weighs a whopping 680 g (1.5 lbs).

Since we’re on the subject of comparisons, let’s talk price. Sony charges $2,200 USD for their 16-35mm f/2.8 lens. While their lens offers more solid construction and a more flexible focal range, this is still a chunk of change. On the other hand, the Tamron 17-28mm is priced at $899 USD, which is quite reasonable for an f/2.8 lens.

Tamron 17-28mm for Sony E-Mount

Size comparison of the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 (left), the Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 (center), and the Sony 24-70mm f/4 (right).

Image stabilization

The Tamron 17-28mm lens does not have optical image stabilization (OIS). However, it’s so lightweight that it’s still pretty easy to shoot stable photos and videos handheld. In fact, its size goes well with the Sony a7R III and the Sony a7 III.

Autofocus

The Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 is equipped with a smooth and quiet autofocus (AF) system. It pairs well with modern Sony mirrorless cameras, and all AF modes are available, including Eye AF. In practice, I found Eye AF to be a bit sluggish and hit or miss. But then again, I don’t consider 17-28mm to be my ideal focal range for portraits anyway, and I would rather reach for a midrange zoom or a standard 50mm lens.

Best uses for the Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8

A wide-angle lens like the 17-28mm is ideal for capturing landscapes, interiors, and real estate. Those are the types of photography I focused on while testing this lens. The portraiture I did was minimal, and it was mainly for the purpose of shooting at an aperture other than f/11 to see how the bokeh performed (it did very well).

doors off helicopter view of city

A handheld shot taken from a doors-off helicopter ride.

Image quality

For my first test shooting with the 17-28mm, I took it on a doors-off helicopter ride. If you’ve ever been on one of these, you know how incredibly windy it can be in the main cabin and how difficult it is to get any shots in focus. This is very much a “spray and pray” kind of photography scenario. To my surprise, the 17-28mm did incredibly well.

From the moment I started shooting with the Tamron 17-28mm, I almost immediately forgot it was a third-party lens. Autofocus was snappy (I wasn’t using Eye AF), there was zero lag or miscommunication between the lens and the camera, and the image quality was stunning. Photos were tack sharp, there was no distortion, and the colors even seemed to pop a little more than usual.

view of shopping people

Physical construction

Since this lens is so compact and lightweight, don’t expect all-metal or polycarbonate materials like Sony uses in their GM lenses. However, the build quality of the Tamron 17-28mm still feels very solid in the hands, and I think it would hold up well over time.

Tamron says the 17-28mm is equipped with “moisture-resistant construction” and a hydrophobic fluorine coating to repel dirt and fingerprints. Not much else is said about weather sealing, and I wouldn’t feel comfortable subjecting this lens to extreme weather conditions.

long staircase and escalator

6-year Tamron warranty

One of the biggest benefits of buying a Tamron lens is their generous 6-year warranty. Effective for six years from the date of purchase (in the USA only), Tamron lenses are “warranted against defective materials or workmanship.” Meanwhile, Sony provides 1 year of warranty on their lenses.

A match made in photographer heaven

Based purely on specs, this lens pairs beautifully with the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8. In fact, Tamron claims the combined weight of both of those lenses equates to less than 1 kg (2.2 lbs), which is incredibly light for two f/2.8 lenses. Both lenses also take the same filter size of 67mm, making it easy to swap polarizers and ND filters. This feature alone makes it very compelling to invest in both lenses.

photo of a barbershop

Conclusion

During the reigning days of DSLRs, many photographers scoffed at third-party lenses, saying that “you get what you pay for.” Perhaps back then they had a point.

But today, third-party lenses have really stepped up their game, and the Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 is one of the best examples of superior third-party glass. If you’re in the market for a wide-angle lens for your Sony body, you can’t go wrong with this lens.

For more information on the Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 lens for Sony, check out this video I filmed, along with some additional sample photos below:

interior shopping center

person close-up

leaf hanging down

 

Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Lens for Sony

The post Thoughts and a Field Test: The Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Lens for Sony appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Suzi Pratt.

10 Cheap Photography Accessories that will Make Your Life Easier

The post 10 Cheap Photography Accessories that will Make Your Life Easier appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Suzi Pratt.

Camera gear is notoriously expensive, but there are some cheap photography accessories out there. Here are 10 affordable gadgets that you should seriously consider adding to your camera bag, no matter what kind of photography you do. They can help make your photoshoots run smoother and your workflow more effective.

1. Camera cleaning supplies

10-cheap-photography-accessories

No matter how careful you are with your camera gear, it is bound to get dirty. Thus, it is essential to always have your camera and lens cleaning supplies on hand. Luckily, these items are pretty cheap, so there’s no excuse for not having them around. Here are a few cleaning tools in particular:

  • Lens cloth: microfiber cleaning cloths remove dust and smudges from filters and the front of your lens.
  • Rocket blower: also known as a bulb blower, use this rubber device to blow the dust off your camera sensor and the front of your lens. If using it on your camera sensor, be sure to point your camera downward so the dust will fall to the ground.
  • Lens pen: these have a similar function to lens cloths, but they are easier to keep clean and target problem areas.
  • Lens cleaning liquid: when a lens cloth or pen isn’t doing the trick, cleaning liquid will often give you the best results.

2. Rain sleeve

Even though many cameras and lenses are touted as weather-resistant, it’s still a good idea to carry rain gear with you. This is helpful not only for downpours but for shooting in other wet conditions such as riding on a boat or sitting in the first row at Sea World.

There are all kinds of rain cover options out there, including regular plastic shopping bags and Ziplock bags.

If you have a relatively small camera, a DIY home version might be just fine. But for those with larger cameras and lenses, it’s best to invest in dedicated camera rain sleeves, such as these made by OP/TECH. They are pretty cheap and reusable, and they have custom sizes to better fit your camera setup than what a regular plastic shopping bag can offer.

3. Foldable reflector

No matter what kind of photography you do, you should own a reflector. These flexible devices are great for adding a kiss of light to any scene. Reflectors come in many sizes and shapes.

The most versatile ones are 5-in-1, offering white, silver, gold, black, and translucent surfaces.

The latter surface is one that I use often to filter light and make it softer. This is where the LED flashlight can come into play if you filter its light via the translucent part of the reflector. Size-wise, reflectors can be pocket-sized, or human-sized. Get the size that makes the most sense to you or stock up on multiple ones.

4. Bubble leveler

Although many cameras have built-in digital levelers, sometimes it is easier to have a physical bubble leveler that you can always refer to. These cheap bubble levelers fit on the cold shoe mount of your camera and help you get a straight and level shot.

As an added bonus, you can also use these to level other items such as prints of your pictures when mounting them to a wall.

10-cheap-photography-accessories

5. Battery holder

Most photographers have several spare batteries for their cameras. But do you have a method for keeping your batteries organized? If not, you need a battery holder. Think Tank makes battery holders for different capacities, such as 4 spare batteries or 2. They even have one for AA batteries. When I use these battery holders, I put them in facing the same way and replace them upside down as they drain and need to be recharged. That way, I know not only where all of my batteries are, but which ones need to be charged.

Cheap camera accessories

6. Memory card wallet

Similar to battery holders, it’s also a good idea to have a memory card wallet.

When I first started out in photography, I was a staunch believer in having as few memory cards as possible so that I didn’t accidentally misplace them. While this might be an okay practice for some, the truth is that camera file sizes keep getting larger. That means you’ll likely need to carry more memory cards.

If you use more than one memory card, you should have a system for keeping them organized. That’s where a memory card wallet is helpful. Use them not only to keep track of your cards, but also to know which ones are empty, and which are full (i.e. by turning them upside down when full).

Cheap camera accessories

7. Silver Sharpie

Have you ever noticed that a lot of camera gear tends to be black in color? Everything from batteries and memory cards, to camera bodies and lenses, they all seem to be the same color. This can make it tricky for labeling them with your name or indicators to tell them apart. Enter the silver Sharpie.

This is one of those tools I never knew I needed until I started using it. The main thing I use it for is to write my name and a unique number on each of my memory cards. I have 13 of them, so I need a way to tell them apart. I do the same for my camera batteries, external hard drives, and all kinds of items.

8. LED flashlight

This is an item that is so small and easy to slip in your camera bag that you might as well carry one. Portable light sources have a variety of uses, namely helping you find gear in your camera bag in dark lighting scenarios. Flashlights can also help you make a creative image via light painting, or adding a bit of extra light to a scene, especially when paired with the next item on the list.

9. External battery pack

These last two items might be arguable in terms of their “cheapness,” but they have a relatively low investment price considering how long they can last. An external battery pack is especially helpful today since many modern cameras can be charged via USB input.

You can also juice up your cell phone on the go, which is probably very helpful for photography since there are many smartphone camera apps out there to help you take better photos.

I’m a fan of Anker battery packs, such as the Anker PowerCore 10000, which goes for about $30.00 USD. I’ve owned the previous version of this battery pack for over 5 years, and it is still going strong.

Cheap-photography-accessories

10. Joby Gorillapod

These flexible tripods have been around forever and they are still incredibly useful. Think of those awkward places where a regular tripod won’t quite fit, and the Gorillapod is your answer for anchoring your camera to grab those unique shots.

Admittedly, Gorillapods aren’t the cheapest accessories out there, but it does depend on which size you buy. Smaller Gorillapods (for smaller cameras) can go for under $30 USD, but the larger ones will go for upwards of $40 USD. This may seem cheap to you, or it may seem expensive.

Either way, know that these Gorillapods are built to last. I have one that is over 7 years old and it still holds up both my Canon DSLRs and Fujifilm mirrorless cameras just fine.

Cheap camera accessories

Over To You

There you have it – 10 (relatively) cheap camera accessories that all photographers should have.

Would you add any items to this list? Let me know in the comments below!

 

10-cheap-photography-accessories

 

The post 10 Cheap Photography Accessories that will Make Your Life Easier appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Suzi Pratt.

The Sony 100-400mm Lens Thoughts and Field Test

The post The Sony 100-400mm Lens Thoughts and Field Test appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Suzi Pratt.

The Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 lens was announced in 2017 along with the Sony A9. Both the camera and lens were highly anticipated by many professional photographers because they offer features that were long lacking in the Sony E-mount lineup. In particular, this lens with its far-reaching focal length appeals to sports and wildlife photographers. But with a price tag of just $2,500, this lens is pretty accessible to amateur and hobby photographers as well. In this post, I’ll give an overview of specs for this lens plus my thoughts after using it to photograph birds.

Sony-100-400mm-lens-with-Sony-A7rIII

Lens Specs

The Sony 100-400mm lens is a variable aperture lens for Sony full-frame cameras. You can use it on Sony crop-sensor cameras, but its physical size might make it awkward to shoot with, especially if used on a tiny camera like the Sony a6000. There is optical image stabilization (OIS) that provides a degree of stability when shooting handheld photos and videos with this lens.

Size-wise, it has a diameter of 3.7 inches and a length of 8.07 inches. The lens weighs approximately 49.2 ounces or 1395 grams. If those numbers don’t mean much to you, the 100-400mm is a very similar size and weight to the Sony 70-200mm f/2.8. Some might consider this lens to be big and bulky, but for the focal range, I think its size is reasonable and comparable to similar lenses made by other manufacturers.

One thing is for sure: you’ll get the best quality if you use a monopod with this lens.

In terms of physical buttons, there are two that are particularly helpful. One button is a focus range limiter that restricts the range of distances the camera will attempt to lock focus on. This boosts the speed of focus as well as focus accuracy, preventing focus hunting. The other feature is the ability to adjust zoom smoothness to prevent the lens from sliding out when carried.

Sony 100-400mm Lens

Best uses

With a variable aperture of f/4.5-5.6, this isn’t a particularly fast lens, so it is best used in ample lighting conditions. Think broad daylight scenarios such as sports, nature, and wildlife. Portraiture may even work well with this lens, although most swear by the 70-200mm f/2.8 for people shots.

For the field test, I paired the 100-400mm with the Sony A7rIII. Using a camera with more resolution (42.4 megapixels) is especially beneficial as the extra megapixels allow you to crop in. You can also take advantage of shooting in APS-C mode on the camera, which effectively doubles your focal range. The A7RIII can also shoot at up to 10 frames per second, and has the newly added animal eye autofocus tracking, making this camera very ideal for wildlife photography. Both the camera and lens have weather sealing. However, I did not test this feature on this shoot.

Sony-100-400mm-lens-with-Sony-A7rIII

Size comparison of the Sony 100-400mm to the Fujifilm 100-400mm.

Lens alternatives

If you plan to shoot in low lighting, the Sony 300mm f/2.8 or 400mm f/2.8 lens will be more appropriate. However, those lenses are $5,800 and $12,000 respectively, so you’ll need deep pockets. Considering these prices, $2,500 for the 100-400mm is quite reasonable. You may even want to consider the newly announced 200mm-600mm f/5.6-6.3 lens, which is just $2,000, but considerably larger in size.

So how was it?

I took the 100-400mm on a weekend trip to go birding in Eastern Washington.

Birds were aplenty, and this lens excelled at shooting them in daylight conditions at every focal length. Its size and weight made it possible to shoot handheld. But for extended periods of time and for optimal performance, it was best used when mounted on a monopod.

Performance-wise, autofocus was fast and accurate. Animal eye autofocus (new to the Sony A7RIII and several other camera bodies) was hit or miss for birds, but I’ve heard that it currently works best on dogs and cats.

Would I buy this lens?

If I was an avid wildlife and birding photographer, I absolutely would. The price of $2,500 is more than reasonable for a lens with this focal range. Although, third-party lens makers such as Sigma and Tamron are producing some stellar pieces of glass lately and I would love to see them make a version of this lens for Sony E-mount.

Sample images

Image: 1/1000 sec, f/5.6, ISO 320 at 400mm (in 35mm: 600mm)

1/1000 sec, f/5.6, ISO 320 at 400mm (in 35mm: 600mm)

Sony 100-400mm on Sony a7riii

1/1000 sec, f/5.6, ISO 400 at 400mm (in 35mm: 600mm)

Sony-100-400mm-lens-on-Sony a7riii

1/1000 sec, f/5.6, ISO 400 at 400mm (in 35mm: 600mm)

Image: 1/160 sec, f/6.3, ISO 800 at 139mm (in 35mm: 208mm)

1/160 sec, f/6.3, ISO 800 at 139mm (in 35mm: 208mm)

Image: 1/250 sec, f/7.1, ISO 500 at 400mm (in 35mm: 600mm)

1/250 sec, f/7.1, ISO 500 at 400mm (in 35mm: 600mm)

Sony 100-400mm on Sony a7riii

1/2500 sec, f/5.6, ISO 320 at 100mm

Have you used this lens? If so, what are your thoughts? Please share with us in the comments below.

 

Sony-100-400mm-Lens-review

The post The Sony 100-400mm Lens Thoughts and Field Test appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Suzi Pratt.

Don’t Lose Your Photos – How to Store Photos While Traveling

The post Don’t Lose Your Photos – How to Store Photos While Traveling appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Suzi Pratt.

Travel photography is one of the most fun and rewarding things to do while away from home. But whether you’re a hobbyist or pro, it’s important to have a solid backup plan for your photos. After all, it’s all fun and games until someone loses a memory card; or has a camera stolen; or accidentally formats a card. Catch my drift? There are countless ways to lose your images while traveling. In some cases, there’s a chance for data recovery, and in other cases, it’s pretty much hopeless. So it’s best to plan ahead for the worst case scenario with a backup plan.

How to store photos - travel photography workflow backup

Having just returned from several international trips that involved both travel photography and videography, I have a workflow that has kept my data safe. In this post, I’ll share how to store photos with my travel photography workflow.

It’s worth noting that I was traveling for a paid job that lasted three weeks, and I used four different cameras, so my workflow may seem like overkill to some.

However, consider this: there are a plethora of camera devices out there, such as drones, smartphones, mirrorless cameras, and waterproof point-and-shoots. Thus, I don’t think it’s unreasonable that some of you might also travel with multiple recording devices, even if just for a vacation.

What I bring with me

Memory cards

You can never have too many memory cards. Some photographers advocate for bringing one memory card for each day that you are traveling, but that can be tough if you’re away for more than 2 weeks. My rule of thumb, especially if I’m recording 4K video, is to bring enough cards to fill my memory card wallet. In my case, I use a Pelican 0915 case that holds a total of 12 SD cards, so I bring 12. When one card is filled, I have the label facing inwards so I know not to use it. If I can help it, I never format or delete a memory card when I’m on the road. Thus, my memory cards are one layer of data protection.

Two portable hard drives

I also bring at least two portable hard drives with me. One is a 1TB Samsung SSD hard drive, which I consider my secondary backup. It’s a bit pricey as far as hard drives go, but considering that it is a compact SSD hard drive, it is fantastic for doing photo and video editing on. I also bring a 4TB LaCie rugged hard drive. Its high capacity storage means I should never run out of space while on a trip. Also, in the case of both the SSD and rugged drives, they can take a bit of a beating, which is also important for travel. Don’t skimp on quality and bring a non-rugged hard drive with you. All it takes is a light blow to destroy them.

how to store photos - backup drives

Laptop computer

Try as I may, I can’t find a viable travel photography workflow that doesn’t involve bringing a laptop computer, especially if I’m shooting for a client. It’s too important to be able to carefully review all of my work each night and sometimes churn out quick edits on the go. However, if you’re dealing with smaller files or simply lower volumes of media, an iPad could work for you, as long as you can connect your hard drives and memory cards.

Why multiple hard drives?

The thing about hard drives is that they will inevitably crash on you. Sometimes, it’s for an obvious reason (ie. dropping it), and other times it will happen for seemingly no reason at all. Plus, there’s also the danger of losing a hard drive or having it stolen from you. Thus, you want to have at least two hard drives, each with a copy of your photos and videos on it. When traveling, put the hard drives in different bags. That way, you’ll still have a copy if a bag goes missing.

how to store photos - travel photography workflow

My travel photography backup workflow

Before shooting

I almost always use multiple cameras these days including my primary Fujifilm X-T3, DJI Osmo Pocket, GoPro Hero 7 Black, and Samsung Galaxy S10. All four of these devices are capable of capturing high-resolution photos and videos, which is both a blessing and a curse. They all take the same type of memory card (SD card, or microSD with SD card adapter), so the first thing I do is label each memory card with a silver sharpie. I write my last name and a number so I can tell each memory card apart.

I also go into each camera device and make sure the date and time are accurate and synced across all devices. This is especially important if you are on a long trip and are shooting with multiple cameras. If my camera allows for it, I also customize the folder name where the media is recorded to. This helps for distinguishing what media comes from which camera at the end of the day.

how to store photos - travel photography workflow backup

After shooting

At the end of each day, I sit down with my laptop and review the day’s media from each camera. I create folders on both hard drives and name the folders based on the date of the shoot, what camera the media is coming from, and how many total items there are (ie. 30 May_Fujifilm XT3_130 Items). Folder name structure is again very important if you’re shooting with multiple cameras on multiple days. It helps you keep your media organized and easy to find.

Going over this process is helpful not only for feeling more inspired to keep shooting, but also to ensure that my gear is clean and working properly. You can only see so much detail from a camera’s LCD preview screen. I make sure that if one memory card is full, I place it label facing down in my memory card wallet so I don’t delete it.

travel photography workflow backup

What about cloud backups?

I know some of you will wonder about backing up your photos to a cloud service, and this is certainly a possibility. However, this is highly dependent on two things: 1) what format are you shooting in and how large your files are, and 2) how fast is your Internet upload speed? Personally, cloud backups are not reliable for me mainly because I shoot RAW photos and 4K video. Each is too large to upload to the cloud unless I happen to have ultra-fast Internet speed. However, in a perfect world (i.e., my Gigabit Internet that I have at home), I do cloud backups of my photos and videos on both Google Photos and SmugMug.

In Conclusion

The key to the best photography workflow is to have one in place and do what works for you. Mine is based on my particular needs and shooting style, but it doesn’t have to be what you choose. What’s most important is to recognize that things do go wrong and it’s incredibly easy to lose your photos or videos.

So make sure you have a backup plan in place both on the road and when at home.

What does your photography workflow look like? Let me know in the comments below!

 

how to store photos while traveling

The post Don’t Lose Your Photos – How to Store Photos While Traveling appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Suzi Pratt.

6 Ways to Save Money on Camera Gear

The post 6 Ways to Save Money on Camera Gear appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Suzi Pratt.

It’s no secret that camera gear is expensive, but there are several very easy ways to save money on gear. So before you buy your next camera body or lens, read up on these money-saving tips.

save money camera gear

1. Look for discounts or deals

This one might seem like a no-brainer, but always be on the lookout for sales or discounts. Follow photography blogs or websites such as Canon Rumors or Nikon Rumors (or whichever Rumors sites corresponds to your camera brand of choice). They will often alert you of upcoming deals on camera gear and accessories. Another tip is to wait for holidays such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Amazon Prime Day. These are holidays that almost always result in massive gear discounts.

2. Study camera product cycles and buy just before or after a new release.

Most camera manufacturers have a fairly regular product release cycle. For example, the Fujifilm X-T series releases every 2 years, the Canon 5D series every 4 years, and GoPro Hero every year. Purchasing a camera right after release to the public won’t save you money. However, you could look at buying the previous model since there are likely to be many camera owners selling theirs, or camera stores looking to empty their stock.

Depending on how well a new camera sells, you could wait six months to a year after its release and start to see deals come up. Not only will the camera price likely drop, but camera stores are also likely to add product bundles that throw in extra goodies such as Adobe Photoshop subscriptions, memory cards, camera bags, and more.

save money camera gear

3. Consider third-party options

This tip applies mostly to camera lenses and accessories since there aren’t many “third-party” camera body brands out there. For a long time, third-party lens options were looked down upon as inferior products. However, companies such as Sigma and Tamron have really upped their game and are producing high-quality lenses that are starting to rival the price and quality of those made by original camera companies. So the next time you’re looking for a new piece of glass for your camera, definitely consider any third-party options out there to save some money.

4. Buy used or refurbished

Cameras and lenses are made to last. As long as they have been cared for, they hold their value and can sell easily.

If you’re on the market for camera gear, definitely consider buying a used or refurbished product. This process can seem intimidating, and there are several ways to go about it with varying degrees of risk.

One option is to buy locally via an online marketplace such as Facebook or Craigslist. This is the riskiest option since you will have to evaluate the product in person and there’s often little chance of a refund if the product is defective. However, this method also gives you the most wiggle room for negotiating a lower price.

save money camera gear

Another way to buy used or refurbished is to do so via an official online store. Nearly all major online camera stores such as B&H Photo, Adorama, and Amazon have a Used section with discounted gear. There are also websites such as Keh.com that specialize in only buying and selling used gear.

The benefit of using a site like this is security. In most cases, your purchase is covered by the store, and you have some reassurance in terms of returning the item in case of a defect. However, there’s no room for negotiation, so the price you see is what you’ll have to pay.

5. Rent gear

Before you buy your next piece of camera gear, ask yourself, “do I really need to own that?”

If the answer is no, it could be more worth your while to rent the gear temporarily.

This is especially true for specialty lenses such as super telephoto zooms that retail for upwards of $10,000 to own.

Look around for your local camera store and see if they offer gear rental services. Or there is also Borrow Lenses, a website that specializes in renting out camera gear in addition to selling used gear.

save money camera gear

6. Use credit card rewards

If you’re diligent about paying off your credit card each month, consider getting a credit card with a good rewards system. There are camera-specific credit cards such as B&H’s Payboo that reimburses you for sales tax. Or there are more general credit cards that allow you to get points or money back on a wider variety of purchases.

Personally, I’m a fan of the Amazon Prime Store card that gives you 5% back on all purchases, plus the option to finance big purchases (ie. cameras!).

Either way, do your research to find a card that suits you and be sure to pay it off, otherwise, it’s no longer a money-saver.

Over to You

There you have it! Six ways to save some money on camera gear and accessories. Do you have any tips to add to the list? Let me know in the comments below.

 

6 ways to save money on camera gear

The post 6 Ways to Save Money on Camera Gear appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Suzi Pratt.

Food Photography – When to Use Natural Light (and When Not To)

The post Food Photography – When to Use Natural Light (and When Not To) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Suzi Pratt.

Food photographers, professionals and amateurs alike, know that natural lighting is among the best tools to take drool-worthy photos. However, there’s a time and a place to use natural lighting, and times when you won’t want to. In this article, we’ll discuss what natural lighting is and how it affects your photos – for better or for worse.

What is natural lighting?

Simply put, natural lighting is light produced by the sun. Another related term is ambient light, which refers to the available light in an environment. Ambient light could also be considered natural light if the photographer’s equipment is not producing it. In most parts of the world, natural light is abundant and can be used at no charge. This is one of many reasons why it is preferred by many photographers.

Two types of natural lighting

Generally speaking, there are two different kinds of natural lighting that you might want to utilize for photography. If you plan to utilize natural light for photography, it’s wise to learn about the different patterns of sunlight. Depending on where you live, you might have more of one than the other. You may have to adjust your style accordingly.

Direct light

Natural light - direct light

Direct sunlight that results in a look with harsher shadows.

A cloudless environment with full sunlight in the middle of the day produces direct light. This light is very intense, resulting in high contrast and very sharp shadows. The color of the light will vary depending on the time of day. In midday, it will be a neutral white color and a warmer tone of gold in the late afternoon. Depending on your photography style, you may prefer direct light if you wish to emphasize dramatic shadows and high contrast.

Diffused light

In a cloudy or overcast environment, natural light will appear diffused. This results in a soft, low contrast look with little to no shadows. Most photographers tend to prefer this lighting as you can make just about anything look good with it. If you have lots of direct light, you can also turn it into diffused light by using something like a shoot-through reflector.

Natural light_Food Photography 01

Natural sunlight that has been softened with a diffuser.

What about artificial lighting?

The opposite of natural lighting, artificial lighting is produced by gear such as speed lights or strobes. If the idea of flash photography intimidates you, consider this. Most forms of artificial lighting strive to recreate natural lighting. For example, a bare flash with no diffuser is akin to direct light, while a flash with a softbox results in diffused light. Even if you plan to use artificial light, it helps to understand natural light and how it affects your creative style.

Natural light_Food Photography 01

Natural light or artificial light? This is natural…

Natural light_Food Photography 01

…this is artificial light. It adds some dimension to the background but isn’t drastically different than the naturally lit image.

When to use natural light for food photography

Before determining what kind of lighting to use, consider your intended creative output. Do you want food photos with punchy colors and clearly defined shadows? If so, you want direct light and a cloudless, full-sun day is what you want. But if you want soft, diffused light for an evenly lit photo, a cloudy day will suit you best (or a sunny day with a reflector).

After you figure out your preferred creative style, take a look a the weather. You may have to plan your photo shoot around weather patterns if you want a particular quality of natural light. Alternatively, you’ll have to bring extra gear with you to compensate for it.

Natural light_Food Photography 01

Food photographed in natural light during the daytime, when the light is neutral in color.

When you may not want to use natural light

There are two times of the day when natural lighting may not be your best friend. Those are the blue hour and golden hours of the day. These times of day are cherished by landscape photographers as they provide the most dramatic lighting in the sky. However, this may not be ideal for food photography. That’s because both blue and golden hours emit different colored light. A dish shot at blue hour may have more blue tinges to it, while the golden hour will cast it in a warmer tone. Some of this can be fixed in post-production, but most food photographers prefer shooting with neutral daylight so that the food retains its natural color.

Natural light_Food Photography 01

Food photographed in natural light during blue hour, just after sunset. Natural light at this time of day distorts colors all around. Great for landscapes, not for food.

In Conclusion

Generally speaking, using natural light is the simplest solution for photographers. It’s rather straightforward to use natural lighting, although adding tools to your kit such as reflectors and diffusers will help you take it to the next level. Also helpful is a general knowledge of lighting patterns throughout the day so that you don’t end up planning a natural light shoot during golden or blue hours (unless you want that colored light!).

What do you think? Are you a natural light photographer, or do you prefer artificial light? Let me know in the comments below!

Food Photography Light

The post Food Photography – When to Use Natural Light (and When Not To) appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Suzi Pratt.

5 Camera Accessories You Shouldn’t Buy Cheap

The post 5 Camera Accessories You Shouldn’t Buy Cheap appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Suzi Pratt.

With each passing year, it seems that camera gear and accessories get progressively cheaper. Third-party brands now offer everything from lenses and flashes to batteries and tripods. This gear is typically priced at a fraction of the price of name brand manufacturers and the quality is often on par. Photographers have often said that “you get what you pay for” when it comes to camera gear, implying that cheaper goods offer less quality. But is that still true today?

In this article, I’ll highlight 5 camera accessories you shouldn’t buy cheap and should consider paying full price for. This isn’t to say that there aren’t cheap, third-party brands offering solid quality for less. But these are items that you’ll want to research extra hard to make sure you’re buying the best product for your camera.

Camera Strap

1. Camera strap

All cameras come with a stock camera strap that you can use to secure your camera on your shoulder. However, the quality and long-term durability of these camera straps are often questionable. Thus, it’s becoming more commonplace for photographers to purchase their own camera straps. Peak Design and Black Rapid are two popular brands offering sturdy and stylish camera straps. These straps are on the pricey side with the Peak Design Slide coming in at $64.95 and the Black Rapid Breathe at $68.99. Each strap also attaches to your camera differently, but their main benefit is being able to detach on demand if you need to remove the strap (ie. for use on a tripod or gimbal).

Are there cheaper camera strap alternatives? Certainly. But consider the fact that you are trusting the camera strap to hold hundreds or thousands of dollars of equipment and be sure to buy a camera strap that you can trust.

Manfrotto tripod

2. Tripod

Along the lines of keeping your valuable camera gear safe, it’s also wise to invest a little extra into a high-quality tripod. I’ve spent years buying cheap, compact tripods for travel only to have them fail on me sooner than expected. As a result, I’ve amassed a pile of broken tripods. Last year, I finally took the plunge and bought a more expensive Manfrotto tripod. Solid and reliable, I now wonder why I didn’t just buy this tripod in the first place.

When purchasing a tripod, it’s also important to buy a quality tripod head. Ball heads are popular and are often the default tripod head that you’ll receive. However, they tend to loosen over time. Luckily, there are many other tripod heads out there that offer more stability and precise control over your camera movement. My personal favorite tripod head is the Manfrotto MH804-3W, which I now use for all of my architecture and real estate photo shoots.

Camera batteries

3. Camera batteries

When buying a new camera, it’s always important to budget for a few extra camera batteries. You’ll always want spares just in case, and authentic spare camera batteries are generally not cheap. For example, a spare Sony Z-battery for the A7III costs $78. Similarly, a spare Fujifilm battery is $65. Third-party brands such as Wasabi Power offer cheaper battery knock-offs, but there’s a risk in using these.

Battery knock-offs may or may not offer the same amount of power as the original batteries. I’ve used third-party batteries for certain cameras such as my Canon DSLRs and not seen any difference in their power. However, camera brands are getting smarter and will sometimes detect knock-off batteries. For instance, my Fujifilm X-T3 flashes a warning sign if Wasabi Power battery is inserted, and it definitely does not last as long as an authentic Fuji battery.

It’s also said that using third-party batteries can void your camera’s warranty. I’m not sure how the camera brand would know if you were using a knock-off battery, but it’s still something to look into.

Memory cards

High-megapixel cameras come at a price as they eat up storage on your memory cards and hard drives.

4. Memory cards

All of your photos and videos are recorded onto memory cards, so it is very important to select quality memory cards. SanDisk is one of the biggest and most reputable memory card makers. There are other brands such as Lexar and PNY that also make quality memory cards. But I’d be wary of buying memory cards made by any other brands. With that said, even the most reputable memory card brands tend to fail and malfunction, so also be sure to use multiple memory cards if your recording device offers multiple card slots.

Hard drives

5. Hard Drives

Related to memory cards, hard drives are also important for storing and backing up your photos and videos. If you’ve ever had a hard drive fail, you know the importance of choosing a quality hard drive and making sure you have a backup for your backup.

Similar to memory cards, even the most high-quality hard drives can fail, so the best brand names are up for debate. Western Digital and Seagate are generally good hard drive brands, even though I’ve experienced hard drive failures from them both.

Lately, I’ve had the best luck with Samsung SSD hard drives. I use a 1TB Samsung T5 as my main working hard drive and a 4TB LaCie Rugged Mini as my secondary backup. This combo is great for working on the road, as well as in the office.

Conclusion

There you have it – 5 camera accessories that you’ll want to consider splurging for because in some cases, you still get what you pay for. Are there cheaper, high-quality alternatives for these items? Certainly. But when it comes to these 5 items, take the extra time to read customer reviews and make sure you’re buying the best gear for your camera.

Would you add or remove any items from this list? Let me know in the comments below!

The post 5 Camera Accessories You Shouldn’t Buy Cheap appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Suzi Pratt.

Which Crop Sensor Sony a6000 Series Camera Should You Buy?

The post Which Crop Sensor Sony a6000 Series Camera Should You Buy? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Suzi Pratt.

If you’re on the market for a high-quality compact camera, you can’t go wrong with the Sony a6000 series. Ever since the original a6000 debuted, this camera has topped multiple best-seller lists and remains popular among enthusiasts and professionals alike. With the recent release of the Sony a6400, there are now four cameras in this series to choose from. This article will explain some key differences between all camera models with recommendations on which camera is best for you.

Sony a6000-Which Camera-01

History

Sony debuted its first high-end mirrorless camera in 2010. However, 2014 was the year that the Sony a6000 was introduced. This compact crop sensor mirrorless camera has been a hit among consumers and professionals alike. Over the last few years, Sony has released several updated versions of this camera that include features such as 4K video recording, IBIS (5-axis in-camera image stabilization), and better low light performance. Interestingly, Sony has not discontinued any previous models. So right now, as of early 2019, you can still buy any of these cameras brand new, directly from Sony.

What’s the same

Despite some key differences, these four generations of Sony crop-sensor mirrorless cameras have a lot in common. Namely, they have almost the exact same camera bodies. There are a few minor differences in size and weight, with the a6500 weighing the most at 16 ounces. All four cameras also come with a 3-inch LCD screen and a 1-centimeter OLED viewfinder. All cameras capture images of approximately 24-megapixels in size at 11 frames per second. Finally, battery life is also about the same, lasting about 300-350 shots.

Still photography differences

We start to see noticeable differences when looking at key photography specs such as:

ISO performance

With every new release, Sony ups the limit in terms of ISO range. The a6000 has the smallest range of ISO 100-25600, while the a6400’s high range ISO is the most at 102400. Both the a6300 and a6500 have the same ISO range of 100-51200.

Sony a6000-Which Camera-02

Sony a6300 shot at ISO 3200

Autofocus Points

Another key difference is in the number of autofocus points. The a6000 sits at the bottom of the pack with 179 phase-detection AF points and 25 contrast-detection AF points. Both the a6300 and a6500 have 425 phase-detection AF points with 169 contrast-detection AF points. Finally, the a6400 offers the best autofocus with 425 phase-detection points and 425 contrast-detection points.

Silent Shooting

One of the biggest perks of shooting with mirrorless cameras is silent mode shooting that truly is silent. When enabled, silent shooting allows you to shoot stills in stealth mode without the telling snap of the shutter going off. It’s an ideal feature for shooting weddings or events that frown upon extraneous noise. Silent shooting is a feature lacking on the a6000. The a6300 and a6500 can shoot in silent mode at up to 3 frames per second (fps), while the a6400 is at 8 fps.

Video Features

Which camera should you buy?

Best for beginner photographers on a budget

If you’re a beginner photographer on a budget, the Sony a6000 is still a fantastic deal. For about $500 for the body-only or $600 with the kit lens included, you can get one of the most popular mirrorless cameras on the market. The main features you’ll be lacking are ultra fast and accurate autofocus, the very best low light photo performance, and key video features such as 4K video recording and in-body stabilization. However, you can still shoot up to 1080p video if you choose, and the still images are decently crisp. Bottom line: get this camera if you are a casual still photographer on a shoestring budget.

Sony a6000-Which Camera-02

Best for intermediate photographers or budding videographers

If you happen to have the extra budget, consider the Sony a6300 as the ideal intermediate camera of the bunch. There are many improvements for both photography and videography. This camera got a major sensor upgrade with faster and more accurate autofocus including 425 phase detection points. Low light photos and videos are also vastly improved.

Video features also got a major boost with the ability to record in 4K, or 120 fps for 4x slow motion at 1080p. The a6300 also allows for shooting in S-Log, a flat video profile that allows for easier color grading in post-production.

Finally, the a6300 also debuted with a more solid, magnesium alloy camera body as opposed to the a6000’s mostly plastic build.

Bottom line: there are big autofocus and low light performance enhancements to make this a much improved still photography camera. But the biggest reason to buy this camera over the a6000 is if you’re in need of modern video features.

Best for intermediate photographers or advanced videographers

A few months after the a6300 came out, Sony pulled a strange move and released yet another camera: the a6500. This camera is essentially the a6300, but with 3 key new features. First, they added 5-axis in-body camera stabilization. Also known as IBIS, this feature stabilizes the a6500 so you can shoot steady handheld video or low-light photos no matter what lens you are using. In contrast, the other a6000 cameras offer only 2-axis stabilization when using a stabilized lens. Unfortunately, battery life shrinks when IBIS is on.

The a6500 also adds a touch screen rear LCD and slightly faster in-camera image processing.

Bottom line: If you absolutely need IBIS for video or ultra-fast image processing for say sports photography, get this camera. But if you don’t need either of those features (and most hobbyists or beginning photographers won’t), save the extra cost and put it towards a lens instead.

Sony a6000-Which Camera-01

Best for Vloggers or pro videographers

This year, Sony pulled another strange move by releasing the a6400. It sits right in between the a6300 and a6500. This camera features a new image sensor and processor that work together to enhance autofocus performance and speed. There are also significant upgrades in video. The a6400 allows for high dynamic range capture, plus interval recording for time-lapse video. Also, Sony finally delivered a rear LCD screen that can flip up 180-degrees. This is ideal for vloggers or those who want to monitor footage while in front of the camera.

However, there are a couple of flaws with the a6400. First, the flip screen stands directly in the way of the hot-shoe mount. If you’re trying to use the flip screen with a light or microphone on the camera, forget it. Second, the a6400 omits 5-axis in-body camera stabilization (IBIS), offering only 2-axis stabilization if you use a stabilized lens.

Bottom line: The a6400 offers a new sensor, processor and other features. But these things are more important to professional photographers and videographers. Unless you need IBIS, a flip screen, or ultra fast camera performance, you’re better off with another camera in the a6000 line.

Sony a6000-Which Camera-04

No matter which camera you choose…

Remember that any of these cameras can be purchased used or sold if you decide to upgrade in the future. If you take care of your camera gear, these cameras retain their value and are fairly easy to sell.

The post Which Crop Sensor Sony a6000 Series Camera Should You Buy? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Suzi Pratt.

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