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Jun
20

Four Common Myths About Full-Frame Cameras Dispelled

Filed Under Cameras and Equipment, Digital Photography School

One of the beautiful things about modern digital photography is the astronomical degree of choice that is available to us. No matter whether you’re a professional photographer, a weekend warrior, or a casual enthusiast who just likes to take snapshots of your kids, your food, or your feet – there are dozens, even hundreds, of camera models and options to suit your needs. There are specialty cameras for recording extreme sports, underwater cameras for photographing the deep blue sea, and a slew of lenses available for DSLR and mirrorless cameras to suit any situation in which you might find yourself.

There are also some clear differentiating factors between these various options that make some cameras better suited to certain situations. One of the most common issues I see discussed is that of full-frame versus crop-sensor cameras. To help clear the air regarding this particular question I’d like to address four common myths about full-frame, with the goal of helping you choose a camera that suits your needs.

Four Common Myths About full-frame Cameras Addressed

Taken with a 10-year-old crop-sensor Nikon D200 and 50mm f/1.8 lens.

Myth #1: full-frame is better than crop-sensor

I see this myth being perpetuated all the time, particularly in online forums but also when talking to people in person. It’s a shame because it’s just not true. full-frame is certainly better in some aspects compared to crop-sensor cameras, but to declare that they are universally better is colossally misleading.

One analogy I like to use here is that of vehicles, particularly pickup trucks. A beast like the Ford F-150 is a fantastic and phenomenally well-rounded truck that excels at hauling, towing, and all the usual heavy-duty jobs for which one would typically buy such a vehicle. By comparison, the Toyota Tacoma is a smaller truck and not quite as powerful or capable, but actually beats its larger counterpart in some regards such as better gas mileage, smaller turning radius, and greater overall agility in a more urban environment.

Four Common Myths About full-frame Cameras Addressed

Taken with a full-frame Nikon D750 and 85mm f/1.8 lens. A crop-sensor camera would have worked, but would have required me to be farther back in order to get this same composition and there was simply not enough space in the room to do so.

Different not necessarily better

Neither truck is objectively better; both are well suited to the specific needs of the people who purchase them. The same is true for cameras in that full-frame cameras work very well in many regards. But to say they are better negates some of the unique advantages of smaller crop-sensor cameras.

full-frame models, as a rule, have strengths like greater high ISO capabilities, improved dynamic range, and improved build quality. If these things are important to you, then a full-frame camera might suit your needs. However, smaller and less expensive crop-sensor cameras have some unique advantages as well such as:

  • Autofocus points that reach farther out to the edges of the viewfinder.
  • Faster shutter sync speeds.
  • Longer reach—a 200mm lens on a crop-sensor camera is basically like shooting with a 300mm lens on a full-frame camera.
  • Generally less expensive.

These are all generalizations, of course, and there are always exceptions to the rule. But suffice it to say that just because full-frame cameras exist doesn’t mean you need to get one.

Four Common Myths About full-frame Cameras Addressed

Taken with a crop-sensor Nikon D7100, 50mm lens, and +10 close-up filter.

Myth #2: Shooting full-frame will improve your photography

This is a myth that’s closely related to GAS, or Gear Acquisition Syndrome – a condition that plagues many photographers and often causes them to continually buy more cameras, lenses, and accessories in the hopes that these things will help improve their photography. Getting a full-frame camera will certainly allow you to take advantage of the unique benefits that they offer, but it will by no means do anything to actually improve the quality of your photographs.

No matter what camera you have, whether it’s a mobile phone, pocket camera, or crop-sensor DSLR, the best thing you can do to make yourself a better photographer is to learn more about photography, not spend money on new gear. In fact, sticking with the gear you have and learning to work within its limitations can have a profound impact on your photography and go quite a long way towards helping you improve.

Four Common Myths About full-frame Cameras Addressed

Taken with a full-frame Nikon D750 and 50mm lens, but it was years of learning about composition, lighting, and other photographic principles that helped me get this shot.

To extend the vehicle metaphor just a bit, buying a Formula 1 car will not automatically make you a better driver. Certainly, it will allow you to have access to the unique capabilities of such a fine automobile. But simply parking an F1 racecar in your driveway will in no way upgrade your own ability to operate a motor vehicle. Some photographers mistakenly think that purchasing a full-frame camera will give their photography a boost. But in truth, it’s the day-in-day-out work of practicing the fundamentals of photography like composition, lighting, color, contrast, etc., that will lead to improvements.

Myth #3 Full-frame is too expensive for casual photographers

If you do decide that you want to invest in full-frame gear, you can take solace in the fact that price is no longer the barrier to entry that it once was. The first full-frame camera was the Canon 5D, which came out in August 2005 and cost about $3500 USD, which made it prohibitively expensive for all but the most dedicated professionals and ardent enthusiasts. Crop-sensor cameras were far cheaper, making them the default solution for many photographers around the world. To this day they remain a perfectly viable option for almost any type of photography.

However, as prices have gone down over the years it is now much more feasible to purchase full-frame gear compared to days gone by. New full-frame cameras such as the Nikon D610 or Canon 6D are about $1400-1500 (at the time of writing this) and can often be found on sale, which is a steal compared to just a few years ago. And while more expensive models such as the Canon 1DX Mark II or Nikon D5 can easily cost as much as a used car, you certainly don’t need those high-end models to take advantage of many of the benefits of shooting full-frame.

Four Common Myths About full-frame Cameras Addressed

Taken with a full-frame Nikon D750 and 70-200 f/2.8 lens. I could have taken a similar shot with a crop-sensor camera and different lens, but I specifically wanted the wide aperture of this lens and the control over depth of field offered by the D750.

Another benefit of the passing of time is that full-frame cameras which were cutting-edge a few years ago are significantly cheaper in price now that they have been replaced by newer models. Consider the Canon 5D Mark II, a camera which is so good it was used to film the season finale of the TV show House in 2010. While it can’t match the blistering high ISO performance and other tricks of its newer counterpart, it’s still a phenomenal camera and can be found used online for much cheaper than the shiny new models.

Myth #4 All serious photographers will eventually go full-frame

Friends and family members often ask me for advice when it comes to buying cameras and camera gear, and this used to be somewhat precarious territory due to the understanding that real photographers always ended up buying full-frame cameras. Thus, advising someone to buy a crop-sensor camera was to tread on dangerous ground because in a few years that person might realize his or her gear is a second-class citizen in the world of photography and it would have been better had a full-frame model been purchased from the start. Thankfully nowadays, as Princess Leia said to Han Solo at the end of Return of the Jedi, “It’s not like that at all.”

Four Common Myths About full-frame Cameras Addressed

Taken with a crop-sensor Nikon D7100 and 50mm f/1.8 lens.

Sensor technology in cameras today is so good that you can shoot professional photos whether you have full-frame, crop-sensor, medium format, micro-four-thirds, or in some cases even just a mobile phone. Camera gear is not the limiting factor it once was. So while many professionals certainly like to shoot full-frame, there is a growing number who prefer the features, size, convenience, and price of smaller models especially in the world of mirrorless cameras like the Olympus OM-D EM1 Mark II or Panasonic GH5.

If you have specific needs that are not being met by your crop-sensor camera then it may be a good idea to consider a full-frame camera. But otherwise, the gear you have is probably good enough and you’d be better off investing your money in lenses, lighting, and education rather than a new camera body.

Four Common Myths About full-frame Cameras Addressed

Taken with a full-frame Nikon D750 and 50mm f/1.8 lens. Why that particular setup? Honestly, I just like how that camera feels in my hands and I enjoy using it.

Conclusion

I’d like to hear from you, the DPS community, on this one. What type of camera gear do you shoot with, and is there any way in which you find it to be limiting? Do you shoot with full-frame and if so, what do you like about it? Are you content using crop-sensor cameras?

For the record, I personally use both crop-sensor and full-frame cameras and have specific purposes for both. But it’s always interesting to hear from other photographers on subjects like this. Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

The post Four Common Myths About Full-Frame Cameras Dispelled by Simon Ringsmuth appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Jun
18

Quick Review of the Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art Lens

Filed Under Cameras and Equipment, Digital Photography School

In this quick review of the Sigma 135mm f1.8 Art Lens, I will go over some of its features and give you my overall impression of this lens.

Photographers like gear

I belong to several photography groups, both online as well as within my local area, and often times when we meet, we end up talking about our gear. Conversations typically revolve around the gear we have, what we would like to have, and what we want to sell off. On several occasions, I have heard my fellow photographers talk about the Sigma Art series of lenses. They always start the conversation with, “Oh, I absolutely love my Sigma Art lens. The bokeh is so dreamy!” Now, I am a Canon shooter – always have been and always will be. But that does not mean that every once in a while, I don’t like to test out gear from other companies to compare performance, specifications, and price.

Quick Review of the Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art Lens

The Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art Lens comes with a case and a lens hood.

So when I had the opportunity to test out the Sigma 135mm 1.8 DG HSM Art lens, I jumped at the chance. I spent about three weeks with this lens and used it for a variety of photography assignments – both indoors and outdoors. Here is my review based on my personal experiences with this lens.

Technical Specifications

As per Sigma’s website, the Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art is a medium range telephoto prime lens designed for modern high-megapixel DSLRs. A new large Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) delivers ample torque to the focusing group for outstanding speed, ensuring exceptionally stable performance even at lower speeds. This state-of-the-art prime lens touts a dust and splash proof mount for guaranteed performance in any condition and its large 1.8 aperture allows for more creative control over imagery.

Quick Review of the Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art Lens

The Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art Lens attached to my Canon 1V film camera.

My telephoto lens of choice is my Canon EF 70-200L lens. It’s heavy and bulky but gives me some of the best picture quality in its class. Compared to that lens, the 135mm felt lightweight and comfortable to carry around all day. Being a fixed lens, there are no moving parts, unlike the zoom ring on the 70-200mm. While this meant that I had to move around to get shots at various distances, it was not an inconvenience. I just used pretended to have a zoom lens by moving my feet!

The lens looks very sharp and clean. The smooth matte black finish of the lens gives it a certain visual appeal. The build quality is very clean and it feels like a solid piece of glass. The lens is a little heavy (at about 2.56 pounds or 1.2 kg) but if you are used to walking around with other telephoto lenses, it’s not any different compared to using those.

Sharpness of the Sigma 135mm F1.8 Art Lens

The legendary quality of having the dreamiest bokeh is very true with this lens. It is super sharp even when shooting absolutely wide open. I typically shoot very wide opened with all my Canon L-lenses which fits my style of photography. The aperture of f/2.0 is my personal sweet spot – the one that I really trust to give me a shallow depth of field and dreamy bokeh (blurry background). This lens did not disappoint at my favorite f-stop.

But even at f/1.8 (the widest aperture on the Sigma 135mm), the lens was tack sharp with very shallow depth of field. Once it was stopped down to f/16, there was some softness on the edges of the frame but it’s not very prominent. With a lens of this quality, the best aperture would be between f/1.8 to f/4 (in my opinion) to get the best of the shallow depth of field and bokeh that we all love.

Quick Review of the Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art Lens

Shot at ISO 200, f/1.8 – wide open – look at that dreamy bokeh.

Quick Review of the Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art Lens

ISO 200 at f/2.0

Quick Review of the Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art Lens

ISO 200 at f/9 – more of the entire scene is clear and visible – with a wider (deeper) depth of field here.

Vignetting

The Sigma 135mm at f/1.8 Art Lens showed slight edge vignetting when shot wide open. But for my style of photography, it’s minimal and nothing I could not fix in post-processing. I was very impressed with the number of tack sharp images that I could keep even when I used the lens completely wide open at f/1.8.

Quick Review of the Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art Lens

The image above left was shot at ISO 200, f/2.0 and on the right, the same scene was shot at ISO 200, f/9. There is no visible softness or vignetting at either aperture. The bokeh at f/2.0 is so dreamy (shallow depth of field) and at f/9 more of the background is visible.

Autofocus

The Sigma 135mm has an electronic hypersonic motor. This makes the autofocus very fast and smooth. I found that the lens locked focus easily and did not hunt while focusing. The AF motor was also relatively quiet and smooth as compared to other telephoto lenses like the Canon 85mm f/1.2L II USM that is really slow while hunting for focus in the AF mode.

Quick Review of the Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art Lens

While hiking my two boys decided they would lead the pack. I really wanted to capture this independent streak and both images are shot less than 2 seconds apart. The Sigma 135mm had no problems tracking focus as they moved up the trail. Both images were shot at ISO 200, f/2.0 and both have the subjects tack sharp and in focus in spite of the movement.

Macro capabilities

While the Sigma 135mm is not described as a macro lens, it did offer 0.2x magnification with a minimum focusing distance of just under three feet. Since I have a dedicated macro lens that I use for my detail shots, I did not pay much attention to this feature. However, in a pinch, this lens could be used to provide some magnification.

Karthika Gupta Memorable Jaunts DPS Article - Sigma 135mm lens review-11

The 135mm zoom was a little tight when I had to take in-studio headshots but once I got the focus locked, it turned out beautifully. Both images were shot at f/2.0 ISO 640, 1/125th.

Summary

Overall I was really very impressed with the Sigma 135mm 1.8 DG HSM Art lens. It is a superbly built piece of gear that was incredibly fast, easy to carry, handle, and use.

The only thing I needed to get used to was the fact that it was a prime lens and not a zoom, unlike my favorite 70-200mm telephoto lens. This meant I had to move around to get shots at different angles and different focal lengths, but I don’t consider that a con. Instead, I feel that shooting with a prime lens makes you more careful and thoughtful about your compositions since you have to physically move around to get a diverse range of shots.

The Sigma 135mm lens is definitely something to look into if you are in the market for a good quality telephoto lens.

The post Quick Review of the Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art Lens by Karthika Gupta appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Jun
13

How to Understand the Differences Between Full-Frame Versus Crop-Sensor Cameras

Filed Under Cameras and Equipment, Digital Photography School

I remember how excited I was to get my first DSLR several years ago. My wife and I had a newborn and wanted to get better shots of our little baby than what a pocket camera could provide. So we soon found ourselves with a new-to-us Nikon D200 that produced stunning images of our precious little boy. The pictures wouldn’t win any prizes, but they were leagues beyond what we could get with our pocket camera or cell phone and that was fine with us.

However, the more I learned about cameras in the coming months, the more I started to think we had made a mistake because our camera was, I discovered, a crop-sensor model. Unbeknownst to us, we had spent hundreds of dollars on what was clearly an inferior camera! Or so I thought at the time. The truth, as is so often the case, is much more nuanced. I’ll explore it a bit in this article so you can understand the practical differences between these two types of cameras and hopefully decide which one is right for you.

How to Understand the Differences Between Full-Frame Versus Crop-Sensor Cameras

This duck is rushing to get the latest full-frame camera he read about on the internet.

Different, not better

Before I get too deep into this article I want to make one thing clear; neither crop, nor full-frame, nor medium format, nor micro-four-thirds are any better than the others. All of them are different, and each format has its strengths and weaknesses (yes, even full-frame cameras have weaknesses!) and each is ideally suited to different types of photography. Moreover, all types of cameras are capable of taking great photos. Even mobile phones, which are basically super-duper-ultra-crop sensor cameras, can take breathtaking award-winning shots that grace not only social media feeds but billboards, walls, and pages of magazines across the world.

The term crop-sensor or full-frame refers solely to the size of the imaging sensor inside a camera. A full-frame sensor is the same size as a piece of 35mm film which was, and still is, the most widely-used type of film in analog cameras. The most common size that the term crop-sensor refers to is known as APS-C, which is the same size as a piece of film from the mid-1990’s Advantix format (also called the Advanced Photo System or APS) invented by Kodak.

How the smaller sensor affects your images

Using a smaller sensor has interesting effects on things like depth of field and apparent focal length of lenses, but it’s not a subjective measure of how good or bad a camera is. Think of it like going to an all-you-can-eat buffet with different sized plates. Shooting with a full-frame camera is like taking a normal size plate to the serving area, whereas using a crop sensor camera is like using a plate that is about 30% smaller. Both will get the job done, and both are great for different types of people. So what’s all the fuss about? Understanding some of the practical differences between these two types of plates…er…cameras will help you know which type is best for you.

So what’s all the fuss about? Understanding some of the practical differences between these two types of plates…er…cameras will help you know which type is best for you.

How to Understand the Differences Between Full-Frame Versus Crop-Sensor Cameras

Crop-sensor versus Full-Frame…it’s not about which is better, but which will suit you better.

ISO performance

For years one of the immutable truths about shooting with a full-frame camera was that it automatically gave you better performance at high ISO values. While this is still mostly true today, it’s also safe to say that for a majority of practical scenarios crop-sensor cameras have picked up the slack and can hold their own fairly well when pitted against their large-sensor counterparts.

If you are looking for the ultimate in high ISO performance though, you might want to ditch that Canon Rebel and start shopping around for a 5D Mark IV or a 1DX. The reason for this discrepancy is due to physics. The pixels, or tiny individual light-sensitive bits on a camera imaging sensor, are usually larger on a full-frame camera.

Bigger buckets

For example, pretend it’s raining and you want to collect some of the water that’s falling freely in your front yard. To do so you set out 24 large buckets (so big you call them mega-buckets) next to each other and wait a few minutes for them to start filling up. Your neighbor, meanwhile, sees your plan and rushes to do the same thing but uses 24 ultra-mega-buckets that are about 30% larger than yours. When the sun comes out and the birds start to sing, who will have collected more water? I’ll give you a hint, it’s not going to be you.

How to Understand the Differences Between Full-Frame Versus Crop-Sensor Cameras

Even though you and your neighbor were both harvesting rainwater with 24 mega-buckets, hers were larger in size and therefore able to collect more water. It’s kind of the same with cameras in that a model like the Nikon D5500 has a 24-megapixel image sensor which is the same as a full-frame Nikon D750. However, since the pixels on the D750 are bigger they are more sensitive to light. So, when there’s not much light available, such as a situation where you may need to shoot at ISO 6,400 or 12,800, they do a better job of collecting the light.

How to Understand the Differences Between Full-Frame Versus Crop-Sensor Cameras

ISO 6400, crop-sensor Nikon D7100. Note how grainy much of the dark areas look, and the somewhat desaturated feel of the bright colors.

How to Understand the Differences Between Full-Frame Versus Crop-Sensor Cameras

Shooting the same scene with a full-frame Nikon D750 yields much better results, with less overall noise and cleaner colors.

Technology advances

This analogy quickly breaks down when you consider the advances in modern technology. Most crop-sensor cameras today significantly outshine their forebears from just a few years ago when shooting at ISO 3200 or 6400. The Fuji X-T1, a modern crop-sensor camera, is about equal to the full-frame Canon 5D Mark III in terms of high ISO performance. Granted the latter is a few years old and has since been bested by other full-frame cameras, but still, the point remains that today’s crop-sensor cameras are no slouch when it comes to shooting at high ISO values.

However, if you want the absolute best in terms of high ISO sensitivity, a modern full-frame camera is usually going to be your best bet. It’s not a zero-sum game though, and there are many other practical considerations to think about. Lastly, just because a camera can shoot at ISO 25,600 doesn’t mean it’s the right one for you.

Cost and Size

There is a principal of mathematics known as modus ponens which is used as a way of showing a certain thing to be true because it follows a logical progression. Basically, it’s a formal way of saying that one thing P naturally implies Q. If P is true, then Q must also be true.

Camera Size

When we apply this rule to photography we can immediately see one disadvantage of cameras with larger sensor sizes. It goes like this; full-frame sensors are larger than cropped image sensors (i.e. condition P). Larger sensors need larger camera bodies in order to compensate for the increase in sensor size (i.e. condition Q). Therefore, cameras with larger sensors are larger than cameras with smaller sensors. Quod erat demonstrandum.

How to Understand the Differences Between Full-Frame Versus Crop-Sensor Cameras

The sensor in a full-frame camera is much larger than the sensor in a crop-frame camera. Therefore, the camera itself needs to be larger too.

Price – $$$

Thus, we can see another key difference between cameras with various sensor sizes, and it’s something to keep in mind when considering which type of camera to buy. Image sensors range from the size of a tic-tac breath mint to that of a postage stamp, to a potato chip, and even larger when you consider highly specialized imaging devices like those used at NASA. These image sensors are not cheap to manufacture, which is why full-frame cameras can easily cost twice as much as their crop-sensor counterparts. If you go all the way up to medium format, with sensors that are significantly larger than full-frame, you can easily spend $10,000, $20,000, or more on the camera alone, without any lenses.

How to Understand the Differences Between Full-Frame Versus Crop-Sensor Cameras
Crop-sensor cameras like the Nikon D3300 or the Canon Rebel T6i are smaller, less expensive, and also more portable than their full-frame counterparts. If you’re shopping for a camera, don’t need crazy-high ISO performance, and also don’t want to empty your pocketbook in the process, then a crop-sensor or micro-four-thirds camera (which has a sensor that’s about 25% as large as a full-frame camera) will suit you quite nicely.

However for many photographers, the size of their camera is of little concern, and they don’t mind the increase in size, weight, and cost that comes with venturing into the full-frame territory. Just know that bigger isn’t always better, especially because along with bigger sensors comes bigger lenses that are required to fit on them as well.

Lens Size and Selection

When considering a camera system, whether crop-sensor or full-frame, it’s not just the size of the camera that you will need to keep in mind but the size and price of the accompanying lenses as well. Lenses designed for smaller sensors are generally smaller and less expensive than lenses for full-frame cameras. A 70-200mm f/2.8 lens for full-frame cameras, which is fairly standard for many photographers, can easily cost upwards of $1500. Whereas a similar piece of glass like the Sigma 50-100mm f/1.8 lens for crop-sensor cameras will set you back about $1000. It’s even better when you look at the micro four thirds system, where lenses are significantly smaller and often less expensive than comparable full-frame models.

How to Understand the Differences Between Full-Frame Versus Crop-Sensor Cameras

The classic 70-200mm f/2.8 lens. Designed for full-frame cameras, it’s a fantastic lens that will give you great photos but it’s also expensive and heavy. Similar lenses for cameras with smaller sensors are smaller, lighter, and often cheaper.

However, one advantage of going with a full-frame system is the sheer quantity and variety of lenses that you have available at your disposal. Since all 35mm film cameras ever made are full-frame, you can use most of those lenses on modern cameras and sometimes you don’t even need an adapter. Many modern full-frame cameras are capable of autofocusing with older lenses too, making it easy to find high-quality glass that will suit your needs if you don’t necessarily need to buy brand-new. There is a growing selection of lenses for crop-sensor cameras, particularly in the micro-four-thirds ecosystem. But if you need access to the largest possible array of lenses than a full-frame camera might just be your best bet.

Lens Performance: Depth of Field and Focal Length

At this point, it might sound like I’m less than enthusiastic about full-frame cameras, but I promise you that’s not the case. I shoot with both crop-sensor and full-frame gear. There is a reason why full-frame cameras and lenses are highly sought-after despite their larger size, heavier weight, and greater cost. Most glass made for full-frame systems costs more and weighs more because it is higher quality. They also produce superior results compared to some of the cheaper lenses for smaller cameras. (Note that I said most, not all. Certainly, there are many outstanding lenses for APS-C and micro-four-thirds cameras. But it’s safe to say that lenses made for full-frame cameras are, for the most part, going to produce outstanding results.)

There’s also the fact that when shooting full-frame you get the benefit of a shallower depth of field. For example, portrait photographers often prefer shallow depth of field. When shooting with a large sensor and a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens you can get results that are difficult to replicate with crop-sensor gear. The math is a bit tricky, but shooting a subject at 200mm with an aperture of f/2.8 on a full-frame camera gives very different results than using a crop-sensor camera.

Examples

How to Understand the Differences Between Full-Frame Versus Crop-Sensor Cameras

Shot with a 200mm lens on a full-frame camera.

I shot the photo above at 200mm with my full-frame camera, but it would have been quite different if I shot it on my crop-sensor camera. A 200mm lens behaves like a 300mm lens when mounted on an APS-C camera. That means I would have had to move much farther back to get this same composition and therefore would have significantly increased the depth of field. The background would not have been as blurry, and the pillar behind the boy would have been more in focus as well.

85mm lens on full-frame versus crop-sensor

Here’s a photo that I took with my crop-sensor D7100, using an 85mm lens at f/4.

How to Understand the Differences Between Full-Frame Versus Crop-Sensor Cameras

85mm lens at f/4 shot with a crop-sensor camera.

After I took that picture I put the same 85mm lens on my full-frame D750 and while standing in the same spot, took the following image:

How to Understand the Differences Between Full-Frame Versus Crop-Sensor Cameras

85mm lens at f/4 on full-frame, same physical position as the first picture.

It looks like I zoomed out, but in fact, I was using the exact same lens but on a full-frame camera. To get a picture like the one I shot initially, I had to move forward which then changed the background elements and also gave me a shallower depth of field with a background that was more out of focus.

How to Understand the Differences Between Full-Frame Versus Crop-Sensor Cameras

85mm lens at f/4 shot on a full-frame camera.

The reason this happens is that with the former you are getting a picture that accurately reflects a lens’s true focal length, whereas on a crop sensor camera you are seeing a cropped version of what the lens sees.

Wide-angle

This picture of the Edmond Low Library on the Oklahoma State University campus was taken with my 35mm lens on my Nikon D7100 (crop-sensor).

How to Understand the Differences Between Full-Frame Versus Crop-Sensor Cameras

35mm lens at f/4 on a crop-sensor camera.

I took the next picture sitting in the exact same spot on the library lawn, using literally the exact same 35mm lens mounted to my full-frame Nikon D750.

How to Understand the Differences Between Full-Frame Versus Crop-Sensor Cameras

35mm lens at f/4 on a full-frame camera.

Nothing changed here except the camera on which the lens was mounted. The shot of the library on my crop-sensor camera is, in a very real sense, a cropped version of what you see on a full-frame camera. The implications of this are profound since it means a 35mm lens on a crop-sensor body actually behaves more like a 55mm lens. (The exact value varies just a bit depending on whether you shoot Nikon or Canon, which each use a slightly different crop factor.)

Implications – how it affects you

So what are the practical implications of this phenomenon? It means that if you are primarily interested in landscape, architecture, or other shots that are suited for wider focal lengths, a full-frame camera will generally be a good choice. However, if you like to shoot wildlife or sports, a crop-sensor camera can give you a lot of extra reach with your lenses and effectively transform a 300mm telephoto lens into a 450mm birdwatching, goal-scoring powerhouse.

How to Understand the Differences Between Full-Frame Versus Crop-Sensor Cameras

I like to do close-up photography on my full-frame D750 not because it’s objective a better camera, but because there are specific features about it that I like for this type of photography.

The Final Word

After examining various differences between crop and full-frame cameras, I hope it’s clear that neither one is inherently better. Both are uniquely suited to different types of photographic tasks.

I’m always eager to hear from the dPS community on topics like this though, and if you have thoughts you would like to share on this issue please leave them in the comments below. Which system do you use and why? Are you satisfied, or are you considering switching from one format to another?

Do you have any questions after reading this article? Post a reply and in the meantime, no matter what type of camera you have, remember to get out there and use it to take pictures you enjoy.

The post How to Understand the Differences Between Full-Frame Versus Crop-Sensor Cameras by Simon Ringsmuth appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Jun
11

How to Evaluate and Purchase Your Next New Lens

Filed Under Cameras and Equipment, Digital Photography School

It’s a day that comes for of us all at one time or another. You have to take the plunge…the big leap…go all in, take a chance. The decision can make or break you and your photography…or at least it can seem that way. It’s the day you invest in a brand new lens or one that’s new to you. Regardless, purchasing a fresh piece of glass can be confusing, frustrating, and painstaking. I’m here to tell you that we photographers who operate on limited funds (most of us) share in your anxiety when it comes to laying down what is usually a lot of money on something that we hope will improve our work and help us transcend to the next level.


How do you make the right choices? How do you choose the right lens to fit your particular needs? Well, there is both good and bad news for you. The bad news is that only you can finally determine the right lens to fit your own craft.

The good news, though, is that there are many ways you can lessen the anguish of lens buying and make sure that you find the right investment. In this article, you will learn how to look beyond just the obvious when shopping around for that new lens, so that you can ensure you make an informed and hopefully less painful decision. Lens reviews can become confusing in their own right. While there are infinite considerations, following these guidelines will help to make more sense of all those lens reviews.

Optical Performance

Sharpness

This is one of if not the most often encountered reasons for buying a new lens. We need better sharpness. But that sharpness, of course, comes at a price. So when evaluating the sharpness of a new lens it’s important to consider all the elements of the equation.

Are you looking for a lens that zooms or does not zoom? Prime lenses (non-zooming) are often cheaper and faster (have a larger maximum aperture) than zoom lenses of the same speed (more on this later). So, ask yourself if you need a lens that can change focal lengths quickly, such as for events or sports shooting? Or do you need a lens that can cope with more static scenes such as landscapes or posed portraits?


Sharpness is so subjective that it often takes looking at many sample images to see the actual results from real-world tests. Be sure to note the camera each image was made with and the source of the sample. Pay special attention to the entire frame especially at the corners to judge the overall sharpness. Speaking of corner sharpness….

Edge Softness

When we talk about edge softening the reference is to the deterioration of sharpness at the corners of an image. This is brought about by many variables but usually, it is due to the composition and quality of the glass elements within the lens. As you approach the wide or short end of the aperture range of your particular lens this softening almost always become more apparent.

Shot with the Rokinon 14mm at f/2.8. Note the more prominent loss of sharpness at the far edges and corners of the frame.

While shopping for a new lens, of course, you want the least amount of “softening” at the edges of the frame. Make a point to inspect the aperture at which each test photo was shot because different apertures carry with them inherent differences in edge sharpness. If you know you will be shooting wide apertures (low light, shallow depth of field) or small apertures (landscapes, large depth of field) pay special attention to test photos shot towards the wide or narrow f-stops.

Lens Distortion

Lens distortion is fairly self-explanatory. It is anything that alters the spatial appearance of lines within the frame. There are two main forms of distortion; “barrel” and “pincushion”. Barrel distortion is common with wide-angle lenses and appears as a bulged effect; with the straight lines within the images appearing to bend outwardly.

An example of “barrel” distortion often encountered with extremely short (wide) focal length lenses

Pincushion distortion is the exact opposite of barrel distortion. This type of image distortion occurs most often when telephoto lenses are zoomed to their maximum magnification. The appearance is a slight bending inwards of the photo towards the center. However, it’s not nearly as apparent (hardly perceivable at times) as barrel distortion.

A case of uncorrected pincushion distortion…

…and now corrected. As I said, almost in-perceivable….

If you’re in the market for a quality wide angle lens, make it a point to find one with little or relatively little barrel distortion. Keep in mind that the shorter the focal length the more prevalent barrel distortion becomes, even in high-grade lenses. The same is true for pincushion distortion. The higher the telephoto range the more often you will encounter pincushion distortion at long focal lengths.

Chromatic Aberration

Chromatic aberration is a technical term for the unsightly discoloration that sometimes occurs around high contrast areas in a photo.

It is evident to some extent in all lenses no matter the quality, but it is more perceivable at wide or small apertures. The key thing to look for is the least amount of chromatic aberration present at the extreme ends of the aperture range. Much like edge softening, aberrations can be controlled albeit not eliminated.

Autofocus and what is Image Stabilization anyway?

Autofocus

Ah yes, autofocus. Having the ability to focus on subjects by merely pressing a button is a gloriously underappreciated benefit modern photographers share. You probably owe your camera and lens a long overdue “thank you”. Go ahead and thank them…I’ll wait.


However, the question remains, how important should autofocus (AF) be to you? It all comes down to what type of photos you will likely be shooting. Back when I did location wedding and event photography, I could not have imagined operating without a fast and accurate AF lens. Now that I shoot primarily landscapes and nature photography, AF has become less of a priority for me.

That’s not to say that AF doesn’t have its uses even now for me and my work. The reason I share this is to demonstrate the priority that you should place on the quality of AF in whatever lens you might be looking at buying depends on your own needs.


If you shoot sporadic, fast-moving, or otherwise unpredictable subjects, place a fair amount of emphasis on AF performance in the lens you seek. However, if you’re a landscapist, shoot still lifes, or otherwise find yourself making photographs of static subjects, AF becomes less important.

That being said, if you find yourself requiring AF, look for a focusing system which consistently focuses accurately and is able to lock onto a subject. Granted, the type of camera you use plays a key role here as well.

Image Stabilization

There’s somewhat of a split in opinions when it comes to image stabilization. Some shooters swear by it, some say it isn’t worth the trouble. As for me, I’m a blend of the two factions.

For the majority of my work, which involves a tripod and slow moving/non-moving scenes, I seldom use a stabilizer even when it’s available. Still, there are times when I find myself saying, “Man, this stabilizer is awesome!” So as with many aspects of choosing a lens, it depends on you and your needs.


The truth is that the longer focal length lens you use, the more image stabilization will come in handy. It provides an exposure “cushion” when shooting handheld. I’m happy to say that the technology seems to be improving each year. If you shoot the majority of your photos without a tripod, for whatever reason, you will have the use of a stabilizer. The very bottom rung of modern image shake reduction systems can give you two to three stops of exposure latitude (to be able to use slower shutter speeds and maintain sharpness) which can go a long way depending on your camera.

Some final thoughts on lens evaluation

Hopefully, with any piece of gear you buy, you choose to analyze and find every scrap of information you can before taking the plunge. The tips here come from someone who has reviewed, tested, and used camera lenses from virtually every leading manufacturer on the market today. These lessons are simple, applicable, and most importantly, easy to understand so that you can make an informed choice.

Today we find ourselves fortunate to be able to select from a pool of increased quality when it comes to our camera lenses. Unfortunately, this means choices are nearly infinite. Be smart and be savvy. Don’t spend time and money on new glass that does more or less than what you need.

The post How to Evaluate and Purchase Your Next New Lens by Adam Welch appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Jun
6

Think Tank Signature 13 Camera Shoulder Bag Review

Filed Under Cameras and Equipment, Digital Photography School

There are certain features most people would expect to find in any camera bag, such as spacious areas for holding gear, a shoulder strap, and pockets in and around the bag for carrying smaller items like memory cards, a flash, or even car keys. Judged by those standards, the Think Tank Signature 13 Shoulder Bag excels admirably. But handing out that kind of compliment for a camera bag is like giving kudos to a car company for including seats and a steering wheel on one of their latest sedans.

Pick nearly any camera bag on the market and you’ll find options and features similar to what you might see in Think Tank’s latest creation. But evaluating a bag like this by talking about a bulleted list of features kind of misses the point. This is one case in which the whole truly is much more than the sum of its parts, and the result is a capable and refined camera bag that will suit the needs of most photographers quite well.

Think Tank Signature 13 Camera Shoulder Bag Review

The Think Tank Signature 13 Camera Shoulder Bag

I have owned and used many camera bags over the years, from freebies that were included with a camera to expensive models uniquely suited to specific purposes. In my closet right now I’ve got backpack-style bags, messenger-style bags, over-the-shoulder bags, sling-style bags, and even one small little oddity whose purpose I can’t even articulate clearly. The Think Tank Signature 13 easily rests at or near the top of this relatively crowded consortium. Not necessarily because it has one single standout feature, but because it does many things so well and with a level of craftsmanship and refinement that I don’t often see especially on less expensive bags.

Design and appearance of the Think Tank Signature 13

The first thing I noticed when I got this bag, which held true for everyone to whom I showed it, is that the Signature 13 looks fantastic. Not that a nice-looking bag will help you take better photos or protect your gear, but if you value style then the Signature series is definitely worth a look. I have the Slate Gray version. It also comes in a greenish color called Dusty Olive, which I didn’t see in person although online it seemed a little too dull for my taste.

Bold leather accents and thick metal clasps made some heads turn when I brought the bag to my office. But these flourishes could also send a message to would-be camera pilferers that inside the bag is a lot of gear worth stealing. It’s not a drawback of the Signature 13 per se but is a reality of using a nice-looking camera bag. It’s also one of the reasons my father continues to keep his camera gear in what’s basically an old padded lunch sack. I do think even he would be tempted by the Signature 13 though, and it’s certainly a cut above some of the black and gray monochromatic nylon bags in my closet.

Details

Small, but significant, design touches abound, and you’re not likely to find a zipper, clasp, or velcro that isn’t a cut above what you’re used to seeing. The material from which the bag is made feels quite soft and yet surprisingly durable. My wife remarked that it felt a little bit like wool even though it’s actually a blend of nylon and polyester. In terms of overall appearance I like the way the fabric is accented with thick leather trim, hefty and durable clasps, and a generously-padded shoulder strap that distributes weight quite nicely. One of my coworkers stated that this bag would easily be suited to a professional environment such as business travel or public presentations, even though its primary function is to hold camera gear.

Think Tank Signature 13 Camera Shoulder Bag Review

Detail of the Think Tank Signature 13

Size

The Signature series comes in two sizes. A smaller Signature 10 is designed for mirrorless systems or those without a lot of camera gear, and the larger Signature 13 which can accommodate more equipment and even a 13″ laptop. I have the latter version which I found more than adequate for my camera kit on any given day of shooting. Although if I wanted to put all my gear inside it probably wouldn’t fit.

A bag like this is not really comparable to something like my Everyday Backpack 30L whose cavernous compartments can swallow up cameras, lenses, laptops, batteries, and a myriad of other accessories all at the same time. The Signature series takes a more measured and thoughtful approach to gear transportation. Instead of lugging everything you own, it’s ideally suited for the times when you want a bag that is small enough to hold the essentials, yet large enough that you can take what you need without having to worry about trade-offs.

Think Tank Signature 13 Camera Shoulder Bag Review

Practicalities of the Signature 13

In terms of regular daily usage there are lots of little details that make the Signature 13 bag pleasant to carry, with a couple of small nagging items that cast a shadow on an otherwise outstanding product.

Shoulder strap is a cut above

The main shoulder strap is, and I hope I don’t come across as overly effusive, exceedingly comfortable and ideally suited to carry a bag of this size with whatever gear you choose to put in it. Plenty of the bags in my collection seem to treat the shoulder strap as an afterthought, with basic nylon construction and perhaps a small sliding pad to keep your shoulder from hurting too much. The shoulder strap on the Signature 13 bag is almost worth the price alone, with thick luxurious (I’m serious, it’s really nice) padding running a full 20 inches throughout the length of the strap and a classy leather accent to boot. It’s a huge improvement over most other shoulder straps and makes carrying the bag an easy and pleasant experience.

There’s also a traditional handle for times when you want to grab the bag with one hand. While that isn’t generally how I use my camera bags I did find it to be sturdy and comfortable.

Think Tank Signature 13 Camera Shoulder Bag Review

These clasps fasten securely but I did sometimes have trouble opening them quickly.

Bag flaps

Inside the bag are other equally thoughtful considerations that are quite well suited to the needs of photographers. The main protective flap closes securely with two metal clasps on the front of the bag. They work just fine but did leave me frustrated a few times when I needed to open the bag quickly or close it without looking down.

The flap opens to reveal a front pouch with a dual-position strap to hold it shut, and an additional zipper pouch behind it for thin items like a cell phone, memory cards, shot list, etc. I did find myself fishing around in both of these front pouches a bit more than I thought I would, but it’s not really a design flaw so much as it’s a result of the pockets being so deep. There’s also a zippered top for the main storage compartment that acts as a second layer of protection if you’re a bit nervous at the thought of only using the main flap to keep your gear from tumbling out. But fortunately, this flap can be either buttoned to the top flap or tucked away altogether so it stays out of your way unless you really need it.

Signature 13 interior

The main cavity of the Signature 13 bag is, in many respects, standard fare for this type of storage device. Look inside and you will see a deep and well-padded chamber with plenty of velcro-style dividers that you can customize and reposition to your heart’s content. Some people like this style of bag and others don’t, so I can’t say whether this will specifically work for every photographer. But if you are the kind of person who likes to use velcro dividers to separate your gear then the Signature 13 will certainly work very well for you.

It’s not so much the functionality of this bag that differentiates it from others on the market, but the thoughtful construction and design choices made when creating it. One example is the quilted nature of the inner pocket and dividers which help them feel strong, sturdy, and quite durable. I found the dividers just as easy to use and reposition as any bag of this type, but they did have a more solid, confident feel than most others.

Detail inside the Signature 13

Detail inside the Signature 13

Bottom of the Signature 13

Rounding out the design of the Signature 13 is a massive leather base that extends the length of the bag and wraps about an inch up on either side as well. I don’t know if it’s because of this leather base or the sidewall construction, but I never had issues with the bag tipping over when I set it down regardless of whether it was empty or stuffed with cameras and lenses. Combine this with the nicely padded exterior and I would feel quite comfortable taking this bag on an extended trip, knowing my gear would be safe whether tossed in an overhead luggage bin or sitting among suitcases in the trunk of my car.

The Verdict

It probably sounds like I’m heaping compliments on this bag and to some extent that’s true. But I feel like praise is best given when it is well earned and that is certainly the case here. Still, I do have a few issues with the Signature 13 and would be remiss in not pointing them out for other buyers.

Con – the bag is not waterproof

For one, the bag is not entirely waterproof which could be a major drawback for some photographers who carry their gear in all kinds of weather. I do believe it would keep things dry well enough (though I must admit I am loathed to take it out in a rainstorm to test this out) but even so, the copious amounts of leather accents would likely get damaged or at least discolored in heavy amounts of rainfall. According to Think Tank the polyester/nylon shell is water resistant, so in theory, it should keep your gear safe and dry. It also comes with a collapsible nylon shell if you do find yourself caught in a downpour.

Think Tank Signature 13 Camera Shoulder Bag Review

The Signature 13 easily accommodates a DSLR body, 70-200 f/2.8 lens, external speedlight, and an iPad with some room to spare.

Con – clasps can be a bit clunky to use

I also think the dual front clasps are a bit impractical, and at times I found myself getting a little frustrated when trying to release or secure them in a hurry. They work just fine for what they are, but I tend to prefer magnetic or snap-based closure mechanisms that are easier to use with one hand or without looking.

Con  – large price tag

One other potential drawback is the price which, at $249 for the Signature 10 and $279 for the Signature 13, is not exactly cheap. For that price, you are certainly getting a high level of quality, but you are also paying for some of the appearance and design elements that just might not matter to some photographers. If the price is your primary consideration you might want to look elsewhere as there are certainly less expensive bags which perform most of the same functions as the Signature series. But you are also not likely to get a bag with such pleasantly pervasive flourishes and design touches.

Think Tank Signature 13 Camera Shoulder Bag Review

A sturdy leather base helps the bag sit upright whether empty or stuffed with gear.

Overall I have found the Think Tank Signature 13 Shoulder Bag to be outstanding and a fine addition to my carrying collection. It’s not revolutionary in any one single way, but it takes the concept of a shoulder-style bag with velcro dividers and enhances it to a level of refinement and craftsmanship that I don’t see in a lot of other bags. If you’re the kind of photographer who likes this type of bag, I heartily recommend the Think Tank Signature 13.

Rating (out of five stars)

  • Design: 5
  • Ease of Use: 4.5
  • Comfort: 5
  • Durability: 4.5
  • Functionality: 5
  • Overall: 4.5/5

The post Think Tank Signature 13 Camera Shoulder Bag Review by Simon Ringsmuth appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Jun
4

Overview of the Intuos Pro Wacom Tablet and the MobileStudio Pro for Post-Processing

Filed Under Cameras and Equipment, Digital Photography School

Around 15 years ago we were visiting my brother-in-law and his family. While there I saw his computer and it had this strange flat thing with a pen on the desk. I asked my husband what it was and he said it was a Wacom Tablet. You use the pen on the flat part, the tablet, and it works just like a pen, or pencil. I said I wanted one, he said I didn’t need one.

So I waited, and one day while trying to do fine detail work in Photoshop and screaming because the mouse wouldn’t do what I wanted, I finally said: “I’m getting one”. In 2011 I got my first Wacom Tablet, the Intuos 4. I haven’t looked back and now consider it a vital part of my photography gear.

wacom tablet the Intuos Pro

The Intuos Pro from above, image courtesy Wacom Australia.

What is a Wacom Tablet?

Wacom Tablets come as two pieces, the tablet, and the pen. The tablet sits flat on your desk and you use it like a piece of paper. So when you put the pen, or stylus, on it the tablet communicates with the computer.

The pen is similar to a mouse in that as you move it over the tablet, the cursor onscreen follows. The active part of the tablet covers the whole screen, but unlike a mouse, you have to lift the pen from the surface to move the cursor. When you want to click on something you just touch the pen to the surface of the tablet.

What do you use it for?

Have you ever considered how good it would be to be able to draw on your computer like you can on a sketch pad? The Wacom Tablets allow you to do that. The pen becomes your drawing instrument and the tablet part your paper or sketch book.

wacom tablets Intuos Pro medium

The Wacom Intuos Pro medium, image courtesy Wacom Australia.

Getting starting using a tablet

There is no doubt that a lot of people have trouble using a tablet when they first start. The pen can be a hard concept to get your head around. It does not work the same way a mouse does. It works more like a pen, and you need to think of the tablet like a piece of paper. When you want to move from one part to another you lift the pen up and move it. The pen talks to the tablet and knows where you are going.

Getting used to it

After you have been using a tablet for a while it becomes second nature. You just move instinctively with it, and in many ways, more so than with a mouse because pens have been around a lot longer.

Wacom tablet

The Wacom Intuos Pro from the side, image courtesy Wacom Australia.

The Wacom Intuos Pro Tablet

After having the Intuos 4 for a few years I decided that it was time to get a slightly bigger one, and I opted for the Intuos Pro Medium. It is larger than my previous one but has some options which were not available with the older model.

The Pro series allows you to use the tablet wirelessly. Which is really good for people who don’t have a permanent place for it and what to move it around. You have the choice of having it sit on your desk plugged in, or if you want to move it you can remove the plug and not have to worry about connecting it. Mine sits permanently on my desk and so I tend to keep it plugged in.

The tablet part can also be a touchpad. So if you find you are used to using your fingers to move around on the computer then the touch pad area may suit you. This feature certainly helps people that use your computer and don’t know how to use the pen. The touchpad can easily be turned on and off as you want it. The top button on the tablet is set as the default switch for the touchpad feature.

There is also a stand that holds the pen when you aren’t using it. In the bottom of the stand, you will find a storage area for more nibs for the pen. You can purchase them separately, many options are available or both the stand and extra nibs.

I have the older model of the Intuos Pro. The new updated version includes Bluetooth. The pen that comes with it now, the Pro Pen 2, has over 8192 levels of sensitivity with pressure and tilt response. The one I have only has 2148 level of pressure sensitivity. The tablet part is also much thinner on the newer model.

The Wacom Intuos Pro Medium retails for $349 at B&H, or you can shop for it on Amazon.com as well.

leannecole-wacom-tablets-08

St. Kilda Pier long exposure taken at sunrise and processed with my Wacom Intuos Pro.

Using the Intuos Pro Pen

The Intuos Pro comes with a lot of default settings, but you can change them so the tablet and pen will work the way you want. There are four buttons on the pen. Clicking the nib is like doing a regular left-click. I have changed the settings on my pen, so the two buttons on the side now do a right-click (the bottom one) and middle-click (The scroll wheel on a PC mouse is also a button you can click. If you middle-click a link it will open it in a new tab. If you middle-click a tab it will close. It is very handy, and one I use a lot.). The one at the top of the pen has the factory default setting of erasing, but I’ve changed mine to double-click.

You can change how fast to double-click, or how much pressure you can use. It is all there for you to set up exactly how you want. It is good to play around with it so you can try different things. As you get used to using it you may find that you want to change other things as well.

I’ve been using a tablet for years now and when I purchased the Intuos Pro I decided I would use it for everything, so I threw away my mouse. I now use my tablet as my mouse whether I am processing or not. I have gotten very used to typing with the pen stuck between my thumb and hand. In fact, I almost find it difficult to type if it isn’t there. It has become like an extension of my hand and I will often find myself in the kitchen making a coffee with it still attached.

leannecole-wacom-tablets-09

This image of the Seafarers Bridge has lots of fiddly bits and the Intuos Pro just makes it much easier to edit.

My family don’t like it because they can’t use my computer with it. I have a mouse in a drawer for them now.

Why use a tablet and pen?

If you get frustrated by trying to do details with a mouse, then the Intuos Pro could be exactly what you need. A tablet and pen allow you to do fine detail work that you can’t do with a mouse or your finger unless you are really good with them. A mouse frustrating for me and would shout a lot, which, in the end, was why my husband agreed that I needed a tablet. I haven’t looked back. Now with the pen, I can trace around curved lines, or get into small spots to change things easily. I couldn’t live without a tablet and pen anymore.

Wacom come into their own for post-processing work on the computer. Whether you are using Photoshop or Illustrator, or another program where you require a lot of control over what you are doing, you will find the tablet is perfect.

 

leannecole-wacom-tablets-05

A cityscape of Melbourne one of many images that I have used the Intuos Pro to edit.

Wacom MobileStudio Pro 13 512GB

The Mobile Studio Pro another tablet style unit from Wacom except it looks more like what we have come to expect from a tablet. It has a screen and you can use it independently from your computer. It is a computer itself, and you can run Windows on it as well as Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. This model has Wi-Fi and works just like a regular tablet.

wacom tablet

You can use it as a tablet or as a laptop, although you would have to get an external keyboard if you don’t like the keyboard on the screen.

With Bluetooth capabilities you can pair other devices with it easily as well. So getting a Bluetooth keyboard is a really good option, especially the one by Microsoft that folds in half and is easy to carry around.

wacom tablet

Taking the MobileStudio Pro out for coffee and a bagel.

It doesn’t have the usual ports for connecting devices and uses USB-C. That will soon become the standard, but for now, you will not be able to connect any others to it. You can get adaptors for USB > USB-C.

Pros and cons

PRO: Without a doubt, the best thing about this particular model is that it is exactly like drawing in a sketchbook. You are working straight onto your image. It is great to be able to move it around and work the angle that is needed for your image. Your hand can get in the way sometimes, so being able to turn it is a definite bonus.

leannecole-wacom-tablets-03

A long exposure of the Seafarers Bridge in Melbourne. The MobileStudio Pro was fantastic for processing this image.

PRO and CON: It does have touchscreen capabilities, and that can be great for browsing the internet and using other programs. However, for processing images with the pen it was very frustrating with the touchscreen on. You put your hand somewhere and then something else would go off, or get deleted. In the end I turned the touchscreen feature off when I was processing the image, but turned it back on when I was doing everything else.

leannecole-wacom-tablets-06

Getting out of the house to process an image is such a luxury, the MobileStudio Pro makes it to easy, it even goes well with a latte.

CON: You do have to think a bit differently when using a tablet, especially if you are used to using keyboard shortcuts. I use them all the time, so when working on an image I have one hand on the keyboard, and the pen in the other. You have to find other ways of doing delete, save, etc. I was told by Wacom Australia that you can set up shortcuts on the tablet. For the short amount of time that I had the MobileStudio tablet, I didn’t worry about it, but it’s good to know. As previously stated, you are also able to use an external Bluetooth keyboard if you wish.

leannecole-wacom-tablets-07

The final image.

PRO: The Wacom MobileStudio Pro 13 512GB is perfect for anyone that travels a lot and wants to work on their images on the go. You can take it anywhere and with a battery life of 4-6 hours, you have plenty of time to do what you need. I took it with me when I met friends for coffee so I could work if they were late. It’s small, isn’t very heavy, and will fit anywhere most laptops do. I also used it to edit images while I was watching TV.

CON: It does come with a hefty price tag as it retails for $2499 at B&H (with the 512gb hard drive, smaller ones are available for less as well – 256gb is $1999 and 128gb is $1799). If you want the larger 15″ model, then you will need to pay an extra $500.

leannecole-wacom-tablets-04

One of the first images that I edited using the MobileStudio Pro.

Different tablets available

Wacom offers a wide range of tablets so you can choose from a small one, up to very large ones. Most of them work as mentioned here. They aren’t as expensive as you may think (they start at about $199 for a small one) so if you want to try one out you should be able to find one that fits within your budget.

The new ones have screens built-in and work like similar to other tablets (like an iPad). You use the pen directly on the screen so you can see exactly what is happening to your image real-time. They are a lot more expensive, but if you really want to get serious it could be just what you need.

There is another version for those that want to process on the go. So if you are traveling a lot, you can use it as your laptop and for processing your photos. There are also much bigger ones that sit on your desk and work in a similar way.

Whatever level you are at, they have a tablet for you.

Finishing up

If you are serious about your photography, or more so if you are serious about editing your photos, then a Wacom Tablet is an essential tools that can help you to make fantastic images. They have a massive range available, so you will have to decide which one is right for you.

The post Overview of the Intuos Pro Wacom Tablet and the MobileStudio Pro for Post-Processing by Leanne Cole appeared first on Digital Photography School.

May
30

Thoughts and Field Test of the Sigma 12-24mm F4 DG HSM Art Lens

Filed Under Cameras and Equipment, Digital Photography School

In November 2016, Sigma introduced the world to its widest zoom lens offering to date: the Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art lens. This is actually Sigma’s third version of the 12-24mm DG (full frame) lens, but it is the first to have the “Art” designation and a constant aperture. Previous lens versions share the same focal length but differ in maximum aperture, weight, size, and price.

Priced at $1,600, this isn’t the cheapest lens, but it is a steal compared to Canon’s EF 11-24mm f/4L USM, which runs just under $2,700. Here are some more details on the Sigma 12-24mm lens and reasons why it may or may not be for you.

Sigma 12-24mm Art Lens

Thoughts and Field Test of the Sigma 12-24mm F4 DG HSM Art Lens

Sigma 12-24mm mounted on a Canon 6D.

Specs of the Sigma 12-24mm

  • 12-24mm focal length
  • Maximum aperture of f/4
  • Minimum focusing of 0.24 m (9.45″)
  • Available in Canon EF, Nikon F (FX) and Sigma mounts
  • Ring-type hypersonic motor
  • Item dimensions of 3.3 x 4.7 x 3.3 inches
  • Item weight of 1.5 lbs
  • Weather sealing, dust and splash proof
  • Comes with a solid lens cap and a zippered carrying case with shoulder strap
Sigma 12-24mm Art Lens

A phenomenal lens for architecture and interiors. Shot at 12mm.

Pros of the Sigma 12-24mm

Solid build quality

The build quality of the Sigma 12-24mm is impeccable. Constructed mostly of metal and glass, this is a solid and rather heavy lens. It takes up quite a bit of space in your bag and can make it difficult to travel with (more on that below). On the plus side, I would expect it to hold up well over time. Also, it is dust and splash proof as well as being weather sealed.

Thoughts and Field Test of the Sigma 12-24mm F4 DG HSM Art Lens

Excellent distortion control

Ultra-wide angle lenses often suffer from distortion, where straight lines may appear more curved, and proportions may seem off. This can often be corrected in post-processing. Shots that were taken with my previous wide-angle lens, the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8, often needed quite a bit of Photoshop post-processing to straighten lines and correct distortion. The Sigma 12-24mm, however, does an outstanding job of keeping photo subjects pretty free of distortion, no matter what focal length you’re using.

Sigma 12-24mm Art Lens

Interior image shot at 12mm.

Sigma 12-24mm Art Lens

Same photo subject from above, but shot from a slightly closer angle at 24mm.

Things to consider

Not for everyday shooting situations

Shooting with an ultra-wide angle lens takes a certain eye for composition. Not everything will photograph well at 12mm due to perspective distortion. People, for example, may end up with body parts that appear much larger or longer than they should be when they are photographed at wide focal lengths. Thus, it’s important to manage your expectations with a wide-angle lens and realize that not everything will photograph well with it. Generally speaking, ultra-wide angle lenses suit the needs of architecture and landscape photographers. Portrait and product photographers, not so much.

Thoughts and Field Test of the Sigma 12-24mm F4 DG HSM Art Lens

Not a great image due to poor composition and distortion of shooting at 12mm.

Sigma 12-24mm Art Lens

With better composition and positioning, 12mm can work in certain situations, like landscape or cityscape photos.

Curved front lens element

The Sigma 12-24mm f/4 has a bulbous, curved front lens element that makes it impossible to use standard, threaded filters. This might be a hindrance to landscape photographers needing to use circular polarizers and neutral density filters, or the average photographer who likes to stick a UV filter on for added lens protection. There are other filter solutions such as slip-in rear gel filters, but those can be quite large and cumbersome to deal with.

Heavy lens

While a solid lens is great in terms of being reliably built, the weight and bulk of this lens are undeniable. Combined with the aforementioned con of not being able to add a protective filter to the glass, the Sigma 12-24mm becomes very unfriendly as a travel lens. If you do travel with it, you’d need to be extremely careful to avoid damaging the glass.

Thoughts and Field Test of the Sigma 12-24mm F4 DG HSM Art Lens

Other Lens Options

Since this is the third iteration of Sigma’s 12-24mm lens, there are two previous models to consider if you are looking for alternatives.

This Sigma lens is also going up against the Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM lens ($2699), the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G ($1899), and Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 ($1199). Focal lengths, apertures, and prices all vary, so it really depends on which features are most important to you.

In Conclusion

In terms of image quality, I found the Sigma 12-24mm to be incredible for shooting architecture and interiors in particular. However, its weight and fragile, bulbous lens make it tricky to travel with.

Would you pull the trigger on investing in this lens? Let me know in the comments below!

The post Thoughts and Field Test of the Sigma 12-24mm F4 DG HSM Art Lens by Suzi Pratt appeared first on Digital Photography School.

May
23

Overview of the New Canon 5D Mark IV

Filed Under Cameras and Equipment, Digital Photography School

Canon’s 5D Mark line has embedded itself deeply in the heart of photographers. Although the price generally keeps this camera in the hands of professionals, hobbyists have equally drooled over its capabilities and power. It comes as no surprise that the newest edition to the line, the Canon 5D Mark IV, sparked a lot of excitement and interest. But does this model really live up to the expectations it has set itself?

Review of the Canon 5D Mark IV

Subject: Rusty the Golden Retriever

As a Canon camera enthusiast myself, having gone through many different cameras in my career (and currently working with four), I have been pleasantly impressed by the new model. Each camera has its high points and its low points, but the Canon 5D Mark IV lends itself to being an excellent piece of machinery with more pros than cons. In comparison to its predecessor the 5D Mark III, beloved features have been better optimized and improved while adding new capabilities that were previously missing.

Review of the Canon 5D Mark IV

Review of the Canon 5D Mark IV

Physical Specs of the Canon 5D Mark IV

In terms of the camera’s physicality, the Canon 5D Mark IV weighs at 28.2 ounces, versus its predecessor which weighed 30.4 ounces. Although this doesn’t sound like a significant difference, your arms will thank you for the lighter weight of the Mark IV after several hours of shooting. Lighter equipment weight is an aspect that many photographers consistently request from their beloved camera companies, as heavy gear often leads to various body aches.

The body feels sturdy and comfortable. The fact that Canon found a way to decrease the weight of their newest 5D camera shows that the brand was certainly listening. Alongside this, the camera’s weather sealing shows quite an improvement over the previous models. I have taken the camera out to the snow, beach, heat, and rain with no trouble.

Otherwise, The 5D Mark IV feels almost indistinguishable to the 5D Mark III. They have virtually the same ergonomics, buttons, and menu layout. The camera continues to have the dual card slots, much like the Mark III; one slot for a compact flash card and one slot for an SD card. The settings allow you to write on either both simultaneously or switch over to the secondary card once the main card is full.

Review of the Canon 5D Mark IV

New feature – touch screen

Possibly the most noticeable new feature is the inclusion of a touch screen, the first of any of the 5D models. The touchscreen has been present in several of Canon’s other models, and this was highly requested as an addition to the new 5D lineup. In Live View Mode, the touchscreen allows you to tangibly tap the screen to adjust the focus or the exposure settings. This is a significant benefit to video shooters, as tapping the screen allows you to silently make your adjustments without adding noise to your rolling video.

The touchscreen is also customizable, similar to the live view features of the 1Dx Mark II. It can be programmed so that the touch of the LCD screen actually takes the picture. The rear LCD on the 5D Mark IV is an improved 1.62 million-dot 3.2-inch screen, unlike the 5D MK III’s 1.04 million-dot LCD. Although Canon did not include a swivel LCD screen as wanted by many shooters, the touchscreen is a welcome addition.

Review of the Canon 5D Mark IV

Megapixels – big increase

Although both are full-frame cameras, the Canon 5D Mark IV sports a whopping 30.4 megapixels versus the 5D Mark III’s mere 22.3 megapixels. 30.4 MP offer a solid 17% linear resolution increase. In addition, the new camera features Canon’s DIGIC 6+ image processor. Pair the processor with the increase in megapixels, and the 5D Mark IV officially has a better dynamic range (an aspect of the Mark III that often gets criticized).

ISO range – not much change

Review of the Canon 5D Mark IV

The Canon 5D Mark IV at ISO 25,600 shutter speed 1/500th.

The Canon 5D Mark III at ISO 25,600 shutter speed 1/500th.

The ISO range for the 5D Mark IV is ISO 100 – 32,000, versus the Mark III’s 100 – 25,600. However, both models offer the same expanded ISO range of 50 to 102,400. The high ISO and low light performance continue to be quite excellent, as is to be expected from a full-frame Canon DSLR. However, there is no real significant difference in higher ISO performance from the Mark III to the Mark IV.

Canon does have significantly better low light cameras in its highest end models (such as the ID X series), but the 5D holds its own very well for the price point. A big change in the ISO aspect of the camera, however, is the move to on-sensor analog-to-digital circuitry (ADC) that results in noteworthy improvement in base ISO dynamic range. Canon DSLRs prior to the 1D X Mark II and 80D were very well known for poor shadow recovery. This is not an issue in the Mark IV.

Review of the Canon 5D Mark IV

Subject: Kiss the Border Collie

Frames per second burst rate

The Canon 5D Mark IV has a 7 FPS burst rate, about one frame per second faster than the 5D Mark III. Not a huge difference in hindsight, but where the 5D Mark IV really excels is the buffer performance. Continuous JPEG shooting is essentially unlimited; the camera will shoot until the memory card is full, whereas the 5D Mark III’s buffer filled after about 63 JPEG images. Still an impressive feat, but the unlimited is certainly better.

21 RAW frames can be captured before the buffer fills and the camera comes to a halt, which is fantastic considering that each RAW frame is from a 30.4 MP sensor. Wildlife photographers will really enjoy the 7 FPS burst rate and increased buffer performance.

Review of the Canon 5D Mark IV

Subject: Valkyrium

New Dual Pixel Raw Mode

On the topic of RAW, the Canon 5D Mark IV includes a very powerful new Dual Pixel Raw mode, which advances upon the Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology. This makes use of the split-pixel design to capture two images at once. The outcome allows you to be able to make subtle adjustments and changes to focus/sharpness, bokeh, and ghosting. The downside is that the file sizes of Dual Pixel Raw images are nearly twice as large, and the burst rate and buffer capacity are reduced while in Dual Pixel Raw mode.

Review of the Canon 5D Mark IV

Canon 5D Mark IV with Canon 70-200mm F/2.8 L IS USM II

Autofocus

The autofocus in this model is downright incredible. While the 5D Mark IV offers the same 61 AF points as in the 5D Mark III, the new model uses an upgraded AF system. Now all 61 points can focus down to f/8 and they can cover much more of the frame. The 5D Mark III only offered f/8 autofocusing at the center point. These changes are very similar to features inside the EOS-1D X Mark II, Canon’s high-end model. Photographers that use super-telephoto lenses and teleconverters are sure to appreciate this improvement.

21 of these points also remain cross type for extra sensitivity. Unfortunately, there is no way to link spot metering to a chosen AF point. One of the big changes to autofocus on the 5D Mark IV is the use of the infamous Dual Pixel CMOS AF, frequently touted by Canon. Equally, the model has inherited the AI Servo AF III with EOS iTR AF from EOS 7D Mark II and EOS-1D X Mark II. This AF feature truly shines when using the camera to photograph sports or action.

The AF system’s detection range has also been broadened, from -2 EV on the EOS 5D Mark III to -3 EV, and this drops down even further to -4 EV when using Live View. As well as this, there’s also now an AF Area Selection button on the back plate.

WiFi!!

Review of the Canon 5D Mark IV

Another brand new feature to the Canon 5D line is the presence of WiFi capabilities and NFC technology. This new aspect of the model allows the camera to be controlled remotely from a smartphone or tablet and have images transferred wirelessly to a multitude of other devices. The camera utilizes the same Canon Camera Connect app as other WiFi models, which is available for both iOS and Android platforms. This feature was also widely requested from Canon users and allows photographers to bypass the need to purchase wireless triggers for their camera.

Self-portrait photographers rejoice! GPS/Geo Tagging continues to be included in this upgrade to the Mark III.

Review of the Canon 5D Mark IV

Subject: Jessica Bari

Video features – pros and cons

Arguably the most marketed aspect of the Canon 5D Mark IV is the ability to film in 4K. This model is one of the first DSLRs to allow you to shoot in 4K and showcases Canon’s interest in shifting high-quality videography to DSLRs. The benefit to shooting footage with these smaller cameras is maneuverability, portability, and other such size benefits. The videography portion of the camera does sport very accurate autofocus, the touch screen allows you to switch focus points and exposure levels silently, and it is all-around a smooth piece of filming equipment. Due to its on-sensor

Due to its on-sensor phase-detect system, Live View AF on the Mark IV is super-quick, smooth and precise. By comparison, the 5D Mark III offered only contrast-detect AF with Live View, which was slower and had a tendency to hunt, making for distracting wobbling as focus adjusted.

Much like Canon’s other 4K models, the EOS 5D Mark IV allows you to extract JPEG frames from the 4K footage. The images have a resolution of 8.8MP, as opposed to the lower 8-8.3MP resolution of images extracted from cameras recording the slightly lower resolution UHD 4K footage.

That being said, being one of the most marketed features also opens the doorway to major scrutiny. Videographers have mentioned the 4K video being limited to Motion JPEG, the 4K/30p video requiring the use of a CF card, the 1.64x crop factor in 4K video limiting FOV, the HDMI-out limited to 1080 video, and the lack of log gamma, focus peaking, or zebras for video as all major cons to this feature.

Review of the Canon 5D Mark IV

Canon 5D Mark IV with Canon 16-35mm F/2.8L USM II

Special features

As far as built-ins go, the 5D Mark IV has a movie time-lapse mode, an intervalometer, HDR and multiple exposure capabilities, mirror vibration control, and a “Fine Detail” picture style. The camera also has an anti-flicker feature that was originally introduced in the 7D Mark II and 1D X Mark II, in which the camera can be set to adjust the moment of exposure to compensate for flickering electric lighting.

Subject: Desiree Perkins

Summary

In conclusion, the Canon 5D Mark IV keeps itself familiar and sentimental, while improving upon features that attracted photographers to the 5D line in the first place. Although not every desired feature was implemented in this model, Canon certainly showed that the company listened to its customers and took their feedback into strong consideration. The product that resulted is a well-rounded, functional, and incredible piece of equipment. On the value-for-dollar front, the 5D Mark IV is absolutely worth its price tag.

The post Overview of the New Canon 5D Mark IV by Anabel DFlux appeared first on Digital Photography School.

May
16

Review of the Interfit Fluorescent Ring Light INT812

Filed Under Cameras and Equipment, Digital Photography School

What is a ring light?

Interfit Fluorescent Ring Light

Even if you don’t know what a ring light is, it is probable that you have seen photos made using them. As the name suggest, they are a light source in the shape of a ring, often, your camera is mounted on the light so the lens points through it. This on-axis lighting provides even, shadowless illumination on the front of your subject. It is a very distinct style most often seen in fashion photography.

In the past, ring lights were expensive or required a solid set of DIY skills to build your own.

The effect is not to everyone’s taste, and that’s fair enough. Sometimes, the light can appear flat and lifeless, which puts some people off. Also, a lot of photographers don’t like the distinctive ring-shaped catch-lights. That is also fair. If, however, you do like what can be achieved with a ring light, but you’ve been put off by price in the past, then the Interfit Fluorescent Ring Light may just be for you.

Pros of the Interfit Fluorescent Ring Light

Interfit Fluorescent Ring Light

There are a lot of things to love about the Interfit Flourescent Ring Light. In no particular order, they are:

Cost

At $100, the Interfit Fluorescent Ring Light is cheap. No, it’s not a strobe, but when you compare it to, say, Bowens’ dedicated Ringflash Pro (listed for $2021 on B&H), the Interfit is close to $2000 cheaper. This makes ring lights accessible to almost every photographer who wants to use one.

Weight

The unit itself is quite large, but at 1.3 kg it’s light enough to carry anywhere without much trouble. If you often shoot in a studio or space that isn’t your own, throwing the Interfit ring light in the back of your car is not going to be a logistical issue.

Size

Interfit Fluorescent Ring Light

The ring light itself is rather large. But because you are not attaching the lens to the light, it gives you a lot of space to move around with the camera while still being able to see your subject through the light’s aperture. It also means that you can use a longer lens, such as 200mm while keeping the light really close to your subject.

Continuous

Interfit Fluorescent Ring Light

With the Interfit INT812 being a continuous light source, you gain a few advantages. The first of these being that replacement bulbs are cheap, despite the size, they are only around $14 each.

Another is that after being on for about an hour, the bulb never gets particularly hot. This is great if you’re photographing people as you don’t have to worry about that aspect of your subject’s comfort.

Finally, there’s the matter of your subject’s pupils. With strobe lighting, you are usually in dark environments with periodic bursts of bright light. As we all know, our eyes adjust to the dark and our pupils dilate to allow us to see. In bright light, such as this ring light offers, it’s the reverse and your subject’s pupils contract, revealing more of the color in their eyes.

Bendable arm

Thanks to a bendable arm, the Interfit INT812 is able to be put in almost any position, making it a very versatile light.

The real beauty of this light is the bendable arm that it is mounted on. This arm, combined with the fact that the light is not mounted to your camera, means that you are not limited to using it as a traditional ring light. You can use and position it as you would any other light source. It’s also possible to point it straight down, a feat usually reserved for boom arms.

At one point I found myself using it as a hair light, alongside a softbox fitted to a strobe as my key light. The versatility all of this provides is more than worth the price tag, even if you never use it on-axis as a traditional ring light.

Interfit NG-65c ring light

Placed at a 45-degree angle, the narrow edge creates interestingly shaped highlight and shadow areas.

Interfit NG-65c ring light

Positioned straight down and a few inches above, the Interfit Ringlight provided some much-needed fill on an all black subject.

Cons of the Interfit Fluorescent Ring Light

As much as I like this light, it does have a few problems as outlined below.

Build quality

As I’ve mentioned already, the Interfit Fluorescent Ring Light is not an expensive piece of equipment. In terms of build quality, it’s reasonable to not expect too much from it. The entire casing is made out of lightweight plastic and does feel a bit flimsy at the best of times. That said, both the bulb and the bendable arm seem to be of good quality. So far, I’ve used it about a dozen times and I have yet to have an issue.

Low intensity

Because this is a continuous light at the cheaper end of the market, the intensity of the light isn’t exactly the brightest. Because of this, you will be limited to working with large apertures and high ISO settings. Depth of field is unforgiving at apertures like f/1.8, so I would encourage using a tripod and taking your time focusing.

At the other end of the scale, it is very bright to look directly into from less than a foot away. This may be uncomfortable for your subjects if you have them in front of it for a long period of time.

If you’re used to using high powered strobes, you need to keep an eye out for other light sources that may affect your images. As the ring light isn’t very high powered, any ambient light around will add unwanted color casts to your images.

Chromatic aberration

When used on axis, chromatic aberration appears around the catch-lights in almost every photo. This isn’t much of a problem as Lightroom will make short work of the aberrations, but it is important to know about.

Chromatic aberration appears around the catchlight from the Interfit INT812; however, this easily fixed in Lightroom.

Color temperature

In terms of mixing multiple light sources, The Interfit INT812 does pose a few problems. It is not daylight balanced, nor does it match the fluorescent light balance preset in camera or in Lightroom. If this is the only light source present, you can eyeball the sliders in Lightroom or use a simple grey card to solve the problem.

Interfit Fluorescent Ring Light

The Interfit Right Light works well as a fill/hair light, although it does take some time to fix the resulting color casts.

However, when you’re mixing light sources, for example, if you use the ring light in combination with studio strobes, you will have to overcome unwelcome color casts. With the white balance set to flash, the color from the ring light is an unpleasant green. It’s an easy fix with all of the color correction tools in Photoshop and Lightroom, but it’s a problem easily avoided if you’d rather not spend the time correcting it. Of course, you could just use this as an excuse to shoot in black and white.

Interfit Fluorescent Ring Light

Extra equipment

So far, I have only come across one real problem while using the Interfit ring light. Because it is so light, I was happy to put it on one of my cheaper light stands. When I started using the bendable arm to put the light at weird angles, it became top-heavy and off balance and started to fall over. Putting it on a heavy duty light stand solved the problem. However, watching one of your lights start on its way to the floor is not an experience that I recommend anyone replicating.

The problem here is that good quality, heavy-duty light stands can start at around half the price of the ring light. If you don’t already have a good light stand before you consider purchasing the Interfit INT812, please be sure to include that into your pricing considerations.

Overall Impressions

Interfit Fluorescent Ring Light

For $100, I love this thing. No, it isn’t perfect, but it does add an awful lot of versatility to my toolkit. I like it so much, that as long as there’s a place to plug it in, I will be going out of my way to take it with me from now on.

It might be obvious, but I do like the ring light effect a lot. However, even if you hate ring lights, the Interfit Fluorescent Ring Light INT812 brings a lot to the table and does so in a price range that doesn’t make it cost prohibitive to give it a try.

The post Review of the Interfit Fluorescent Ring Light INT812 by John McIntire appeared first on Digital Photography School.

May
14

Review of the Benro Ranger 400 Pro Backpack

Filed Under Cameras and Equipment, Digital Photography School

Ask most photographers and they will tell you that one of the hardest things to find with respect to photography gear is the perfect camera bag. One that will suit your every need. We search and search, but in the end, we all come to the realization there isn’t one bag that will be great for every situation. Though, sometimes you can find one that comes close, for me it was the Benro Ranger 400 Pro backpack.

Review of the Benro Ranger 400 Pro Backpack

Lots of options

One of the things to look for in a bag is one that gives you lots of options when using it. One that can handle most photographic situations that you might encounter.

I was looking for a bag that would hold my camera, my filters and holder, plus up to three lenses. Also ideally one that would take my laptop from time to time. It was also very important that it would hold my tripod.

The Benro 400 Pro backpack is lightweight and has a lot of protective elements. The outside of it measures 14 in (35cm) wide, by 19 in (50cm) high, and 8 in (20cm) in depth. It isn’t a large bag, but it’s big enough for most people. The inside is 12(W) x 17(H)x 6(D) inches, or 30(W) x 42(H) x 15(D) cm.

Review of the Benro Ranger 400 Pro Backpack

Sitting next to the Benro Tripod.

Space in the bag

The bag has three separate ways to enter it. The main zipper, that allows full access to the inside of the bag. There is a side zipper to allow easy removal of the camera with the lens attached. There is also a small zipper on the back near the top to help you get to your lenses faster for quick changes.

Review of the Benro Ranger 400 Pro Backpack

The side entrance to get your camera.

Inside the bag, you can move the dividers around to suit your needs. It is like most camera bags in that respect. It will take the camera, and more importantly large cameras fit easily. There are plenty of sections for your lenses, and  it will also allow you to take up to three others (besides the one on the camera), filters, and other smaller accessories you may need for your trip. You do need to be careful that you don’t carry too much, think of your back.

Review of the Benro Ranger 400 Pro Backpack

The inside of the bag.

The bag is deep and you can put your lenses in length ways, unlike other bags where they need to lay down and take up more room. For most lenses you can put them in this way.

There are also places to keep memory cards and batteries. If you want to carry your laptop it will take up to a 14-inch one. A 13-inch Wacom MobileStudio Pro also fits into it fine.

Review of the Benro Ranger 400 Pro Backpack

The area at the back so you can easily reach your lenses.

Materials

The Benro 400 Pro backpack is made with a black water-resistant nylon. It has a hard bottom, so for a backpack it will stands up really well when you put it down. When moving around you can just place it down and not worry about it falling over as many other bags do. It is very hard and gives the bag a lot of support with the structure of the bag as well.

Comfortable to wear

It is very comfortable to wear and the smaller size makes it a good bag for most people. The straps are thick and provide a lot of padding which make it good to carry on your shoulders. When the bag is full of gear you can carry it with ease.

Review of the Benro Ranger 400 Pro Backpack

The bag sits well on the back and is comfortable.

Waist band strap

It does come with a waist strap that you cannot remove from the bag. The sides that come around your waist to sit on your hips also have small compartments with zips. When you get the bag, one of the pockets holds the strap for the tripod and the other side has the rain cover. You can remove both and use them as pockets for easy access. I use one to store my car keys. The zip means they will be safe there.

Tripod attachment

The strap that is found in the side waist strap pocket is used to put across the front of the bag, and another pocket from down the bottom at the front pulls out so you can attach your tripod. The strap is fiddly and can take a bit to put your tripod on it.  I found it frustrating, and instead, choose to attach it a different way.

Review of the Benro Ranger 400 Pro Backpack

How the tripod fits to the front of the bag.

You can also attach it on the side of the bag as well, There is a strap at the bottom of the side that doesn’t seem to have much purpose, and then the strap that is used to keep the front section to the back section, extra security at the top of the side. You can use them to hold the tripod onto the bag. It is, in some ways, a much easier way to attach it. It is nice that you get a couple of choices.

Review of the Benro Ranger 400 Pro Backpack

The tripod attached to the side.

In the end

Since getting the Benro Ranger 400 Pro Backpack I’ve used it continuously. The only time I change bags is when I want to use one on wheels. It has been to many places and has not let me down so far. It has been comfortable to wear for hours and the tripod is easy to get on and off. For me it is almost the perfect camera bag.

The post Review of the Benro Ranger 400 Pro Backpack by Leanne Cole appeared first on Digital Photography School.