Canon May Produce an Unprecedented 50-80mm f/1.1 Lens

The post Canon May Produce an Unprecedented 50-80mm f/1.1 Lens appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Canon May Produce an Unprecedented 50-80mm f/1.1 Lens

Are you a Canon user?

If so, you’ll be happy to know that Canon continues to push the boundaries of camera gear innovation.

Because earlier this month, a Canon patent was published, one that detailed plans for a new lens: a 50-80mm f/1.1 zoom.

Yes, you read that right.

According to the Canon patent, the lens would have a fixed maximum aperture across its entire focal length range, maintaining its f/1.1 maximum aperture from 50mm to 80mm.

A fixed-aperture f/1.1 Canon lens would certainly make waves. None of Canon’s recent lenses have an f/1.1 aperture. The closest lens is the Canon 50mm f/1.2. So this lens will certainly appeal to those who enjoy unique equipment.

The f/1.1 aperture would be ideal for portrait photographers. The wide aperture would allow for stunning background bokeh. And it would also allow for photography in low light, which is perfect for those who shoot indoors or at night.

Plus, the 50-80mm focal length is great for portrait photography of any kind. At 50mm, portrait photographers can get some standard shots. At 80mm, you can go in for a tighter image.

Street photographers will also be a fan of 50-80mm, given how 50mm is often considered the fundamental street photography focal length.

A zoom lens such as this one would likely exist as part of Canon’s RF lineup, which is rumored to expand over the course of the next year.

Note that some patents never actually amount to anything. In other words, just because Canon patents the designs doesn’t mean that they will send the product to market. But it’s interesting to see Canon thinking about such incredible new equipment.

So keep your eyes peeled, Canon users.

And even if the Canon 50-80mm f/1.1 lens is never produced, it’s certainly piqued consumers’ imaginations!

Would you be interested in a lens like this one? What do you like and dislike about it? What would you use it for? Let me know in the comments!

The post Canon May Produce an Unprecedented 50-80mm f/1.1 Lens appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Sony 35mm 1.8 FE Lens Review [video]

The post Sony 35mm 1.8 FE Lens Review [video] appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

In this video, Chris Turner reviews the Sony 35mm 1.8 FE lens.

Sony 35mm 1.8 FE

This is what Chris thinks of the lens:

Build quality

  • While the build quality is quite good, it feels a step behind the 55mm 1.8 Zeiss lens. It’s about the same as the 85mm 1.8. It doesn’t feel high-end.
  • Has the function button on the lens which you can use to focus hold or eye focus. You can program it to a heap of different stuff.
  • It also has the AF/MF switch to change from auto to manual focus easily.
  • It is small – just slightly smaller than the 55mm 1.8 – with about the same thickness. It’s compact for travel unit.
  • Focus is speedy and performs flawlessly. It also works well in low-light and backlight situations. The video focus is also fast and accurate.
  • The lens isn’t weather sealed.

Image quality

  • The Sony 35mm 1.8 takes high-quality images. While the 55mm 1.8 has some really weird flaring in certain situations, the flaring in the 35mm is well controlled with a nice glow. If you’re backlighting an image, it’s going to look really nice with this lens.
  • Chromatic aberration is definitely present. It’s not great in terms of aberration control. It’s quite bad at f/1.8
  • The lens is incredibly sharp. It is easily sharper than the 35mm 1.4 zeiss, especially wide open. If you stop it down, it just gets better and better. If you are putting something in the edge of the frame, it still is quite sharp.
  • The colors are very nice and have plenty of contrast.

Overall, the 35mm 1.8 is an impressive lens.

Chris says while the 35mm is a great lens, it won’t replace his favorite lens, the 24mm G-master.

 

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The post Sony 35mm 1.8 FE Lens Review [video] appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

6 Important Considerations Before You Change Camera Brands

The post 6 Important Considerations Before You Change Camera Brands appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

Important-Considerations-Before-You-Change-Camera-Brands

I have finally started to change camera brands. I’ve been shooting Canon since my first ever SLR I got back when I was 16. I wanted to stay with Canon, but their current bodies do nothing for me. Also, the lens prices of the new R-mount system are insane. After spending a lot of time researching, as well as some hands-on time with the cameras I was considering (Sony, Panasonic & Fuji), I ended up moving towards Fuji.

I’ve purchased a Fuji XT3 with the kit lens and a 35mm f2. It has been a decision that I made on several factors, and so far I am really enjoying the images I am getting out of the Fuji. I haven’t sold off my Canon gear yet (nor will I likely do so in the immediate future) but I can definitely see me moving a lot of my kit in Fuji’s direction.

However, the move has thrown up a few surprises, which I wanted to share with you in this article. So without further ado, here are six things to consider before you change camera brands.

1. Know why

The question you must ask yourself is, what are you trying to achieve by moving camera brand? Changing brands is a long, sometimes painful experience that can be as frustrating as it is fun. It is also certainly going to be expensive. However, if you are considering a full-blown brand swap, there has never been a better time. The big two (Nikon & Canon) have changed mounts. This means, even staying with your current brand, you will eventually be changing your whole kit. So for many people, if you are going to move, the time is now.

Why did I move towards Fuji? Three reasons; the weight, the size, and the video functions.

I shoot weddings, and the appeal of lighter gear hanging off me all day is huge. Secondly, as I shoot in a documentary style, the size of the Fuji means the camera is not as intimidating as my 5DMkIV when in close situations. I have noticed in my son already that he is much more himself with the small Fuji camera, as opposed to my DSLR. This is what I see on paid shoots too. When shooting with the Fuji up close on a recent engagement shoot, the couple seemed to relax more. It is hard to put into words, but there is definitely something about the smaller form factor.

Lastly; video. Canon is purposefully, it seems, not putting the video features into its DSLR’s that Sony, Fuji & Panasonic are. I want to shoot more video and am starting to offer it to clients. Fuji beats Canon hands down here and was the deciding factor.

That’s not to say that other things such as Eye AF, a flip-out screen and 100% coverage with AF points are not things I want, they are, but they alone were not enough for me to make the switch.

A king on a chess board with a young player in the bokeh

You will find yourself shooting more to test your new gear out. Here I am testing the bokeh of the 35mm f2, whilst teaching my son to play chess. The smaller size means he acts more natural than when I point my DSLR at him.

2. Be prepared to start again

Unless you are willing to sell off all of your gear to fund your new purchase, you will no doubt (like me) dip your toe in the water first. As a professional, I simply cannot just go all-in on a new system. So it will be a switch over time. The lack of kit is in some ways quite refreshing. It is also making me think about what kit I will need as I begin to build up my new system. However, sometimes I do find myself reaching for my Canon as it has the lens option I want.

A change of system will be expensive and, in the interim at least, you will probably have less gear than you previously had. Remember, it is more than cameras and lenses – you will need to change things like flashes and flash triggers as well.

Little side note here. Pixapro (rebadged UK version of Godox) triggers for Fuji & Canon look identical. The method I’ve used to differentiate them is to color the little quality control sticker red on the Fuji trigger. A quick, simple way to overcome an annoying little problem.

Changing brands and starting again can definitely have a positive impact. As you begin to build a new system, you will think more about what gear you don’t use as well as what you find yourself missing. This means you can save some money in the switching process and lighten the load of your gear bag at the same time.

Important-Considerations-Before-You-Change-Camera-Brands

This was my new kit for 3 weeks. No high-end primes, no myriad of lens options. Just a kit lens. Frustrating, but it did make me think about photography in a way I hadn’t in some time.

3. Retraining the muscle memory

There is nothing worse than the downright dread of coming to grips with a new menu system. Trying to remember which button is the one you mapped for changing autofocus is somewhat frustrating. The remapping of your brain to work with your new camera system is one of those things that is initially fun and exciting.

However, that initial joy soon gives way to frustration. It is surprising how difficult it can be to move systems and retrain your brain to work with the new menu system. It gets easier quite quickly, but you will initially miss shots you would have got, simply because you forgot which button you needed to press.

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This has been my workhorse for years. I can operate it in the dark without thinking. I will get there with the Fuji, but it will take time.

4. The cost of switching

It is easy to get carried away in thinking that if you sell off your gear, you will be able to switch systems without a huge outlay. Unfortunately, that isn’t usually the case. Moving camera system will come with a financial cost, and it will probably be more than you think. To move system and a new body and a set of lenses (24-70mm f2.8, 70-200mm f2.8, and a fast prime) you will be looking in the ballpark of £1000-£4000. You can reduce the costs of this by buying secondhand glass. However, with the new mirrorless systems by both Nikon & Canon, the price of secondhand glass is still incredibly high and hard to find.

To give an example, I own the Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS I lens. I could look to get around £700 for this secondhand at current value. To move to the new Sony G Master of the same focal length, I would need an extra £1700. To pick up a secondhand copy, I would still need £1000, and that is simply for one lens.

When you look at the numbers like that you have to ask yourself, will a change of system for this function be worth £3000? Is eye autofocus, in-body stabilization, and 100% AF points coverage really worth that much? For you, it may be, but do not think there will not be a cost involved in getting the features you need.

Many of you (like me) will be considering a move to a mirrorless-based system. Even changing to the same brand is now going to come with considerable costs as both Canon & Nikon have new lens mounts. I know that you can adapt existing glass for both these systems, but it will not work as well as the new glass designed specifically for the new mounts.

In both cases, the lenses for these systems are commanding top prices. Over time, these will drop, and there will be a larger secondhand market. But at the moment, switching to a Canon or Nikon mirrorless system, complete with native lenses for the system, is no cheaper than a complete change of brand.

I think the mirrorless camera revolution will see many people taking the plunge with different brands. Switching from a 5D Mk IV to an EOS-R is, in reality, the same kind of investment you will make moving to Sony or Nikon.

Again, most brands now have good quality adapters to use glass from other systems, so it does help you take those baby steps. However, the native glass will always give the best performance. Unless you have a great relationship with your bank manager (and/or partner), you may need to transition slowly to cushion the financial impact.

A cow in a field at sunset

This was meant to be shot on my Fuji. However, the battery died and I had no spares. Luckily, my trusty Canon (and 4 spare batteries) to the rescue.

5. Will the grass be greener?

There is the honeymoon phase in any relationship. I am currently in it with my Fuji. No matter what the sensible part of your brain says, having new gear makes you get out and use it. The more photos you take, the more your photography improves. So, therefore, changing camera gear will make things better right? Well, maybe. If you changed for a specific reason and your new gear addresses it, then, yes, it may be better.

What is more likely, though, is that after the honeymoon phase, your camera will get used no more than your current kit. Your photography will not improve simply because of your choice to change systems. You will again find things that you don’t like about your new system and things you miss about your old one. This is simply because there is no perfect camera.

6. Could you spend money more wisely to advance your photography?

The biggest reason to pause and think about changing systems is whether you could make a different investment that will improve your photography more than a change of brand. It is well documented that lenses are a wiser investment than a new camera body. I have seen countless photographers move towards a full-frame camera, rather than invest in lenses, which is definitely a mistake. Lenses hold their value, will instantly give you better results and will last you way longer than a new camera body.

If you look at a minimum of £1000 to change camera brands, then think of what else you could invest that money in to improve your photography. Portrait photographers, that could buy you a great off-camera flash system with modifiers that will take your portraits to a new level. You could invest in new lenses for your current camera that helps you shoot better in low light, or give you more reach as a wildlife photographer.

However, look beyond gear. What could £1000 worth of education do for your photography? How about spending £1000 on a trip to locations that you have always wanted to photograph? In many cases, changing your camera system is possibly the least likely thing to advance your photography.

For most of us, we simply got caught in the hype and Facebook chatter about a new camera. We think it will be a magic bullet that makes us take more photos or better photos. But in reality, it won’t. You will have a shiny new toy that you love, until the Mark 2 comes out and you will convince yourself again that you need to upgrade.

There are lots of legitimate reasons to change systems. There is also absolutely nothing wrong with switching to a new camera system simply because you want to. Just beware of the hype that it will make your photos better because it won’t.

A tipi near a pond with a tree growing out of it.

The Fuji will make me money. Will I make more money than if I had kept my Canon? No. My back, however, will thank me for the lighter weight.

I’m not trying to convince you either way (you probably wouldn’t listen if I did). I am just giving you some things to think about if you are looking to move from your current camera system. Happy shopping.

Have you made the switch to a new camera system or considering it? Share with us in the comments section below!

 

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The post 6 Important Considerations Before You Change Camera Brands appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

Your Canon DSLR Might Be Hacked; Here’s What You Should Do

The post Your Canon DSLR Might Be Hacked; Here’s What You Should Do appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

canon-dslr-ransomwareDo you use a Canon DSLR?

If so, watch out. Because hackers can exploit your camera and hold your images hostage.

Seriously.

Let me explain:

Ransomware is malicious software that hackers can use to infect your camera. Once the ransomware gains access to your camera, it encrypts your images, making them completely inaccessible to you.

That’s when the hacker makes a demand:

If you ever want to see your photos again, you must pay a sum of money. In return, the hacker will give you an encryption key, which allows you to break the encryption and access your images.

In other words:

The hacker holds your images hostage. And if you want them back, you have to pay the ransom.

For some, ransomware might not be news. Ransomware attacks have been going on for decades.

Except it was only this year that a company called CheckPoint demonstrated the hackability of Canon cameras. CheckPoint realized that Canon’s Picture Transfer Protocol (PTP) could be easily exploited by hackers through a USB connection or, more disturbingly, over Wi-Fi.

Then CheckPoint carried out a ransomware attack on a Canon 80D, and they did it over the camera’s Wi-Fi connection. The attack required absolutely no interaction with the camera owner.

CheckPoint shared their findings with Canon, prompting the company to produce a security advisory that warns consumers of the dangers of a “third-party attack.” Read the full security advisory on the Canon website.

Canon is now working hard on a patch for this vulnerability and has already produced a firmware update for the Canon 80D.

Meanwhile, Canon has released recommendations for other camera users:

  • Ensure the suitability of security-related settings of the devices connected to the camera, such as the PC, mobile device, and router being used.
  • Do not connect the camera to a PC or mobile device that is being used in an unsecure network, such as in a free Wi-Fi environment.
  • Do not connect the camera to a PC or mobile device that is potentially exposed to virus infections.
  • Disable the camera’s network functions when they are not being used.
  • Download the official firmware from Canon’s website when performing a camera firmware update.

So for owners of the Canon 80D, I suggest you update your camera. You don’t want to remain vulnerable.

And for anyone else with a Canon camera, keep an eye out for Canon firmware updates. This is especially critical if your camera features a Wi-Fi connection, which can be exploited much more easily than a USB connection.

Do you own a Canon with a wif-fi connection? Will you be updating your firmware?

The post Your Canon DSLR Might Be Hacked; Here’s What You Should Do appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Ways to Modify Your Flash for More Controlled Lighting

The post Ways to Modify Your Flash for More Controlled Lighting appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Flash can be a confusing addition for many new photographers. But there’s really only one way to gain experience. Learning to use your flash well takes practice.

Using your flash without modifying its output often produces unsatisfactory results. These can be very discouraging. With little modification, you can achieve more acceptable results pretty easily. Controlling the output of your flash based on the style of light you want for your photos is not hard to do.

Ways to Modify Your Flash for More Controlled Lighting Northern Thai Sausage

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Your unmodified flash is a small light source

The smaller your light source is in relation to your subject, the harder the light will be. An unmodified flash produces strong light and high contrast for most subjects. This creates a hard-edged shadow which is often undesirable. The only difference is with macro photography because the light source will be larger than the subject.

Modifying the output of your flash by using a diffuser softens the light which falls on your subject.

Using a diffuser does a couple of things. It subdues the output, so less light hits your subject. It also spreads the light, effectively making the active light source larger. The light falling on your subject will be softer. So will the shadows they create.

Ways to Modify Your Flash for More Controlled Lighting Young Woman in the Park

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

The benefits of using modified flash

Diffusing the light from your flash will produce more flattering results when taking portraits. Soft light falling on the skin reduces the appearance of texture and gives it a more even tone. There are a number of techniques and accessories you can employ to diffuse the light from your flash. I will discuss some of these in the next section.

Hard light from an unmodified flash is more likely to show up skin blemishes. It also produces unsightly hot spots.

These bright patches occur with all but the most light absorbent surfaces when using an undiffused light. The more reflective the surface, the more light from a small light source will reflect.

Using some method of scattering the light from your flash will help end these problems.

Another option to modify your flash is to do the opposite of spreading the light. Narrowing the dispersion of the light produces a completely different look. You can better control what area of your composition the light from your flash will affect. This is usually achieved by the use of a snoot or honeycomb grid.

Ways to Modify Your Flash for More Controlled Lighting Rabbit Time Costume

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

How to control your flash using modifiers

The most simple way to alter the light from your flash is to turn your flash head so it’s not pointing where your lens is focused. Indoors you can point it up to the ceiling. The light will reflect off the ceiling and scatter. You can alternatively point your flash towards a wall beside or behind you.

Ceilings are often white or light neutral colors, so your photo is not likely to be affected by an odd toning. Bouncing your flash off a colored wall or other surfaces can cause that color to affect the light.

Depending on how close your flash is to the surface you’re bouncing it off will determine how much it is diffused. The closer you are to the surface, the less diffusion there will be.

When you turn your flash head to bounce it off another surface, the light and shadows it creates will be softer. Shadows may still be evident. You need to be careful of shadows under people’s chins and around their eyes when you bounce your flash off a ceiling.

Using a piece of whiteboard, plastic or a fold-out reflector to bounce your flash off will give you more control. You can move your reflector further away or closer and determine the best position for it.

Ways to Modify Your Flash for More Controlled Lighting Young Woman in Red

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Clip-on hard diffuser

Most flash units come with a clip-on hard plastic diffuser. This is a small attachment that fits over the front of the flash head. It scatters and softens the light when the flash is fired.

Because this attachment is small, about the same size as your flash lens, it will not do a lot to soften the light. It is often better than nothing if you have not other option and it is small and convenient.

ways-to-modify-your-flash-for-more-controlled-lighting-Clip-on-Diffuser

Flash with a clip-on diffuser © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Bounce cards and other compact modifiers

A white piece of cardboard about 20cm (8 in) square with a tab on one edge and a couple of good strong elastic bands. This was a standard kit for photographers when I worked in newspapers. It was back before the proliferation of flash modifiers were available to buy.

Adding a bounce card to a flash pointed at a ceiling or wall spreads and softens the light even more. This will help further reduce the strength of the shadows.

Nowadays there are so many types of bounce cards and other diffusers available. They’re all designed to modify your flash in slightly different ways. Kits of modifiers can include:

ways-to-modify-your-flash-for-more-controlled-lighting-Bounce-Card

Flash with a bounce card © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Snoots and grids

Most accessories which modify flash output are designed to soften the light. Snoots and honeycomb grids are two pieces of kit which can help you control the direction of the light.

Each works to narrow the spread of light from your flash. This allows you to control which part of your composition is most affected.

Ways to Modify Your Flash for More Controlled Lighting Snoot Lighting

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Gobos and colored gels

Two more accessories which modify flash output are gobos and gels.

A gobo is a stencil or template placed in front of your flash head to create a shadow of a shape or pattern.

Any color gel can be used to affect the color of light which emits from your flash. This can be used for creative effect or to balance your flash with the ambient light.

Electric light sources often emit a colored light that is not as white as the light from your flash. Tungsten light is a warm tone. Fluorescent is often quite cool. Using the correct color gel can produce the right color to balance with an existing light source.

Small flash softbox

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Small Softbox © Kevin Landwer-Johan

My favorite flash modifier is a small softbox. It’s not the smallest or most convenient, but it produces a soft, pleasant light.

Mine’s about 60cm (2 ft) square and has a bracket to mount the flash at the back. The biggest drawback in using it is that you need to place it on a stand or have someone hold it for you.

I find I like the results best when using it as a fill light.

Ways to Modify Your Flash for More Controlled Lighting Temple Tourist Sunset

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Controlling the amount of light

Whichever method you use to you modify the light from your flash there will always be a reduced output. You must compensate for this.

Using the TTL setting your camera and flash should calculate the correct amount of light. This should also be true with the auto settings.

In some circumstances, you may notice not enough light from your flash is illuminating your subject. At these times, you must adjust your compensation. This can be done by opening your aperture more or increasing your ISO.

Ways to Modify Your Flash for More Controlled Lighting Rag Doll Girl

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Conclusion

Unmodified flash is not often the best light source. Modification allows you to control its output to suit the style of photograph you are making.

Experimentation and practice are required to master the type of lighting you want.

A practical exercise to help you understand and see what you can achieve is worth spending some time with. Set up a still life composition or find a willing model to work with. In the same setting, take a series of photos using various modifiers so you can compare the way the light looks with each one.

 

ways-to-modify-your-flash-for-more-controlled-lighting

The post Ways to Modify Your Flash for More Controlled Lighting appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Lensbaby Omni Creative Filter System Review

The post Lensbaby Omni Creative Filter System Review appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Anabel DFlux.

Omni-Creative-Filter-System

I don’t know about you…but I like getting creative with my photography. Anything that helps make my work stand out against the myriad of photographers in the world (let alone in my very saturated city) is a must-have. However, what I enjoy the least is having to let my imagination soar solely in the editing room. If there is a practical way to do something unique, I’ll take that method.

Luckily, there is a company called Lensbaby that understands this on a deeper level. Home to some of the most unique lenses in the world (fondly called “art” lenses), Lensbaby pride themselves on developing equipment that gives you a slew of unusual in-camera effects.

Their lenses range from distortions like the ‘Burnside’ that swirls your bokeh and darkens the edges, to the more subtle ‘Velvet’ lens that simply softens the edge of the frame. Unfortunately, this comes at the price of relinquishing autofocus in their built-in-effects lens product arsenal.

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But now, instead of having to rely on purchasing new lenses, Lensbaby has launched a product to help you turn the glass that you currently own into an effects lens. Best part? No more dealing with manual focus! Say hello to the OMNI Creative Filter System.

So… What is the OMNI Creative Filter System really? 

Lensbaby Omni Creative Filter System Review

Shoot through crystals and other objects specifically engineered by Lensbaby to create professional and compelling in-camera effects. Designed to work with your existing lenses, OMNI offers control and repeatability without having to change your gear. The system comes with unique Effect Wands that attach magnetically and distort the light as it enters the lens – creating a myriad of magical in-camera effects.” writes Lensbaby. 

The Omni Creative Filter System is a ring that holds various effect wands in front of the glass to produce an effect. These effect wands come in the form of crystals, panels, and other doohickeys that open a world of possibility when used. The awesome thing about this product is that you can sort-of ‘make a Lensbaby’ out of any existing lens that you own.

The Pain Pack

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The main filter system comes with the filter ring and various step up and step down rings, three Effect Wands, a long arm to hold the Effect Wand, a short arm to hold the Effect Wand, two magnetic mounts (each mount holds up to two Effect Wands), and a small carrying case to tie it all together. OMNI is available in Small and Large versions and includes step-up and step-down rings to fit a range of filter thread sizes.

Lensbaby Omni Creative Filter System Review

The three effects wands are known as the “Crystal Seahorse,” “Stretch Glass,” and “Rainbow Film.”

Crystal Seahorse uses its edge scallops to aid in producing complex flares, light redirection, and radiant reflections.

The Stretch Glass can mimic a light flare by creating streaks and reflections.

The Rainbow Film, one of my personal favorites in the set, is a diffraction panel that creates beaming reflective rainbows offset from any bright light source.

The Expansion Pack

Lensbaby Omni Creative Filter System Review

If those three wands aren’t already enough, Lensbaby has an expansion pack that adds three more crystals to the mix. The new additions are titled “Crystal Spear,” “Triangular Prism,” and the “Scalloped Window.” 

Lensbaby Omni Creative Filter System Review

The Crystal Spear reminds me of a kaleidoscope and can create dream-like flares similar to such. The Triangular Prism mimics what some creative photographers are currently doing when holding up prisms to their glass (except, in this case, you don’t have to sacrifice a hand to hold it up!). The Scalloped Window is similar to the Seahorse of the main pack, but with a larger surface area that allows you to shoot directly through the center.

How to use the OMNI System 

Lensbaby Omni Creative Filter System Review

Whether or not you care to look at the instruction manual, the filter system is pretty self-explanatory in terms of use. There is a large-ringed, donut-shaped disc that holds the magnetic arms that in turn hold the effects wands. This disc, depending on your lens filter thread, can either be screwed on directly or use a step-down/step-up ring to attach to your lenses’ glass element.

It is key to note that when using the 82mm step-down ring, vignetting will occur at focal lengths wider than 50mm. I personally like vignetting, but some do not.

Lensbaby Omni Creative Filter System Review

I was actually able to attach the OMNI Creative Filter System on to both my variable ND filter from Tiffen (to see if I could) as well as any old regular glass filter you may have in place to protect the glass. So for the record, filter stacking is totally possible here (but as to whether or not it’s recommended…that’s at your discretion).

The OMNI Creative Filter System is designed to fit most prime and zoom lenses on the market. But in my usage experience, the wider view lenses bring about the most prominent effect. That said, my 85mm lens did some really cool stuff with a few of the wands.

Build quality? 

Sturdy, sturdy, sturdy – and did I mention sturdy? Nothing about this system feels flimsy. For the price point, it definitely needs to feel solid and inspire confidence. All of which it definitely does. 

How much weight and size does it add to the lens? 

Omni-Creative-Filter-System

My immediate first worry was how much weight and size the system would add to my equipment. I hold my gear for very significant amounts of time. Many of the types of shoots I do run well into the 6-hour range without much pause. As well as this, some of my shooting conditions tend to be tumultuous and take place in tight spaces. As such, the amount of bulk or discomfort something may add to my current kit is a pretty big deal.

Lucky for me (and for us all, I’d say), the OMNI isn’t such a nuisance. The system is lightweight, and I very seldom noticed a difference with the filter on my lens than with it off. The only lens I felt a difference on was my $100 cheap 50mm much-around-lens whose weight is equivalent to that of a feather (metaphorically speaking, of course), but on all of my L glass and G-Master lenses, a difference in weight was difficult to notice.

Lensbaby Omni Creative Filter System Review

The system does add minor bulk and thickness to the front lens element, as the disc does protrude a wee bit, but it wasn’t a big deal. It didn’t impede my workday or any of the photo sessions!

The effect wands do stick out. However, in situations where I needed a flatter system (such as a live concert setting), I simply pushed the wands down.

But is it comfortable? 

Drumroll, please…

YES! 

Omni-Creative-Filter-System

I found the system very comfortable to use. Depending on how dextrous your fingers are, I was actually able to consistently shift the effect wands and their magnetic arms into position without ever taking my hand off of the lens itself.

Once you get a grasp on the actual distance between the front of the lens and the filter, you can easily make necessary adjustments without needing to take your eyes off of the viewfinder.

Though the magnets are very sturdy and keep the wands from flying off, the metal balls are still easy to spin and maneuver around. So much so, that just the use of one finger was honestly fine for me.

Review in practical use

Lensbaby Omni Creative Filter System Review

“That looks a bit like a steampunk contraption,” said one of my clients when I first attached the OMNI to my 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. On the first impression, all those individuals that I began using the creative filter system on were very intrigued. Client intrigue can open fun and useful dialogue – an unintentional benefit.

Attaching the system is quick and simple, and takes very little time. I enjoyed the fact that it didn’t look like I was fumbling or struggling in front of a client. That’s always a good sign. If anything, the more wands I pulled out, the more interested I noticed my subjects were.

Omni-Creative-Filter-System

It did take me a few minutes of finagling and experimenting to get the most out of each wand. So I would suggest everyone who purchases the system take a day to become very familiar with each effect. Even then, I still find myself discovering new uses for each wand with every photoshoot I use them on! A very exciting thing, indeed.

There is a very significant difference between using the effect wands in a controlled indoor situation and using them outdoors. When paired with studio lighting inside, most of the wands brought out very bright and striking results. They often pulled colors I didn’t even know were present! When used outside in natural light, the effects became a bit more muted and more natural in nature.

This is a great difference depending on the look you are going for.

Omni-Creative-Filter-System

You should really experiment with this equipment to see what works best for you. However, I found that the trick to getting the most out of the system is to shoot at a wider millimeter lens and a wider aperture.

The wide frame allows the effect to really bleed into the image while the shallow depth of field produced by the wide aperture helps blend the effect.

I took my OMNI kit to both easy-peasy, no-fuss photoshoots and chaotic and intense situations. The simple sessions were flawless, as expected, but the spontaneous and more chaotic shoots were where the real test was.

When taking the system on tour with me working with a band, I did run into the issue of the system not being sturdy enough in a live concert setting. Granted, if the venue has a photo pit and the band does not encourage crowd-surfing, the system can work brilliantly. However, in my situation, I was shooting in dive bars with no photograph barricade, and the music definitely brought about more than one crowd surfer. Alas, this system was a no-go on that front.

However, this is a very specific and niche issue to have, so I don’t fault the system whatsoever on that front!

Lensbaby Omni Creative Filter System Review

The Omni is very much a “what you see, is what you get” product. In practical use, this is simple and easy. Just the way we like it.  

Pros: 

Omni-Creative-Filter-System

  • Turn any lens into a practical-effects system! Step-down rings are included.
  • Well-built and lightweight.
  • Very simple to customize.
  • Easy to use, ready right out of the box.
  • A good variety of effect wands to create all sorts of interesting looks.
  • The ability to create repeatable and consistent effects.
  • Comes with a carry case that helps keep everything very neatly organized.

Cons: 

Lensbaby Omni Creative Filter System Review

  • You need to disassemble and reassemble for most camera cases and packing situations.
  • There may be some vignetting with the step-down rings.

 

Conclusion

Omni-Creative-Filter-System

Yes, it is possible to achieve similar effects by simply holding up a prism or other such geometric crystal to your lens, but that can be a nuisance. Instead, why not have something that simply attaches and holds firm?

As such, the OMNI Creative Filter System is a worthwhile and lasting product. It helps give the equipment you currently have an extra edge (without any permanent modification).

Have you tried the OMNI Creative Filter System? Let me know your thoughts (or any questions) in the comments!

 

lensbaby-omni-creative-filter-system

The post Lensbaby Omni Creative Filter System Review appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Anabel DFlux.

Trump’s New Tariffs Could Drive Up the Prices of Cameras and Lenses

The post Trump’s New Tariffs Could Drive Up the Prices of Cameras and Lenses appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

President Donald Trump made waves last week when he announced new tariffs on Chinese goods via Twitter.

Trump writes:

“Our representatives have just returned from China where they had constructive talks having to do with a future Trade Deal…Trade talks are continuing.”

Trump goes on to explain that “the US will start, on September 1st, putting a small additional Tariff of 10% on the remaining 300 Billion Dollars of goods and products coming from China into our Country.”

In other words, certain goods will be taxed before arriving in the US.

For photographers, this is an especially painful blow.

Up to this point, photography equipment had largely managed to avoid any import taxes. But the new 10% tariff will be largely levied on electronics, including computers, phones, and camera gear. And it may cause serious consequences for American consumers of photo equipment.

You see, prices of camera products exist in a delicate balance. When the cost to import the gear goes up, prices go up with it, in order to offset the cost paid by resellers. This cost is often felt by consumers.

While companies like Canon, Nikon, and Sony are based in Japan, a significant number of their imaging products are made in China. It’s these products that will be hit by the tariffs, and it’s these products consumers should be worried about.

Trump does promise that his administration will work toward a trade deal with China. However, you should note that these new tariffs follow on the heels of previous tariffs, which left camera gear largely untouched. If the trend continues, things are likely to get worse before they get better.

Of course, this news is only relevant to American readers. Prices in countries other than the US will remain unaffected. But for photography-lovers in America, you may want to purchase any China-made camera gear now, while you can still get it for cheap.

President Trump’s tweet indicates that the new tariffs will come into effect on September 1st.

So pretty soon, prices will be on the rise.

What do you think about the tariffs? Will they stop you buying new camera gear? Let me know in the comments!

The post Trump’s New Tariffs Could Drive Up the Prices of Cameras and Lenses appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

10 Cheap Photography Accessories that will Make Your Life Easier

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

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

1. Camera cleaning supplies

10-cheap-photography-accessories

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

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

2. Rain sleeve

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

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

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

3. Foldable reflector

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

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

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

4. Bubble leveler

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

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

10-cheap-photography-accessories

5. Battery holder

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

Cheap camera accessories

6. Memory card wallet

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

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

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

Cheap camera accessories

7. Silver Sharpie

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

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

8. LED flashlight

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

9. External battery pack

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

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

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

Cheap-photography-accessories

10. Joby Gorillapod

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

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

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

Cheap camera accessories

Over To You

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

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

 

10-cheap-photography-accessories

 

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

The Sony 100-400mm Lens Thoughts and Field Test

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

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

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

Lens Specs

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

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

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

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

Sony 100-400mm Lens

Best uses

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

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

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

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

Lens alternatives

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

So how was it?

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

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

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

Would I buy this lens?

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

Sample images

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

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

Sony 100-400mm on Sony a7riii

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sony 100-400mm on Sony a7riii

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

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

 

Sony-100-400mm-Lens-review

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

Photographers, Are Robots Coming for Your Jobs?

The post Photographers, Are Robots Coming for Your Jobs? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

robot-photographers

Square has just announced a new service, which allows businesses to get product photos for cheap – just $10 USD for a set of three product photos.

The only caveat?

The product photos are all taken by a robot.

Yes, you read that correctly. Square, a company known for its credit-card transaction tools, built a $20,000 USD robot that takes simple product photos with a white background.

Here’s how it works:

You send your products to Brooklyn, where the robot lives. Staff arranges the products on a table surrounded by lights and a white background.

Then an arm moves around your products while holding a Nikon DSLR, snapping away with a single robotic finger.

Square staff then select the best three product photos. They do a bit of post-processing before sending them along to you, the owner.

If you’re a small business owner who doesn’t have product photography skills and can’t afford to spend on a photographer, this may be just what you need.

But if you’re a product photographer who relies on basic product setups for your income, this news doesn’t bode well. If the Square Photo Studio robot is successful, it’s likely that the idea will spread, fast, edging professional photographers out of the more basic product photography markets.

And news of a robot photographer isn’t only relevant to product photographers. It matters to shooters of all stripes.

Automated photography may start with product images, but where will it stop? Will robot photographers expand? What could be the next target for automation?

For instance, might we see robots enter studio portrait photography? How about automobile photography? Sports photography?

They may seem like silly questions, but they’re worth asking.

That’s why this story is so important. It gets at a question that many of us have ignored thus far:

Ten years from now, will most photography be done by humans? Or by robots?

What do you think about robot photographers? Do you think that a product photography robot will catch on? Let me know in the comments!

The post Photographers, Are Robots Coming for Your Jobs? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

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