Nikon Releasing 900 Dollar Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera?

The post Nikon Releasing 900 Dollar Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

According to Nikkei, Nikon plans to release a mirrorless camera before the 2019 fiscal year is out.

And it’ll likely be a budget option, one that comes in at about half the price of the Nikon Z6.

Here’s the direct (translated) quote from Nikkei:

Nikon will introduce a new mid-price mirrorless camera product in fiscal 2019. The same interchangeable lens can be used in the product that corresponds to a sister model such as the high-end model “Z7” launched by the company in the autumn of [2018]. It is expected that the price will be in the 100,000 yen range, which is easier for the general consumer to pick up than the leading 200,000 to 400,000 yen model. The aim is to develop the demand of users other than existing enthusiasts.

Regarding price: 100,000 yen falls around 900 dollars, which would be a dramatic reduction in price compared to the Z7 and even the Z6, Nikon’s two current full-frame mirrorless models.

A 900 dollar full-frame mirrorless option would likely be welcomed by those DSLR shooters who just can’t afford the current Nikon mirrorless prices, but are looking for something lighter than their current DSLR setup.

But we also have to ask:

What Z-level features will Nikon leave behind in order to cut costs?

First of all, we can’t be sure the new mirrorless option is full frame. The original report doesn’t say this outright. But the claim that the new product “corresponds to a sister model such as the high-end model ‘Z7′” suggests the new camera won’t be fundamentally different. And an APS-C Z mirrorless body would be fundamentally different.

But even if the camera is full frame, other important features might be dropped.

For instance, might we see the loss of an EVF? Personally, I would see this as deeply frustrating. Mirrorless EVFs are one of the strengths of mirrorless systems. I wouldn’t like to see it go.

What do you think? What will this new mirrorless camera be like?

And would you be interested in purchasing it?

The post Nikon Releasing 900 Dollar Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

6 Ways to Save Money on Camera Gear

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

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

save money camera gear

1. Look for discounts or deals

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

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

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

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

save money camera gear

3. Consider third-party options

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

4. Buy used or refurbished

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

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

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

save money camera gear

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

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

5. Rent gear

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

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

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

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

save money camera gear

6. Use credit card rewards

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

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

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

Over to You

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

 

6 ways to save money on camera gear

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

3 Lenses Every Beginner Photographer Needs [video]

The post 3 Lenses Every Beginner Photographer Needs [video] appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

In this video by MiketheMathMan, he outlines what he believes to be three lenses that every beginner photographer needs.

3 lenses every beginner photographer needs

In the video he lists the following:

1. Wide-Angle Lens

The “see everything lens” because of their ability to capture a wide field of view. These lenses are handy for shooting landscapes, interiors, cityscapes and anything where you need to capture a wide field of view.

2. Telephoto Zoom

They are great for capturing details from a distance for better detail.

3. Fast Prime Lens

A fast prime lens has a wide aperture. These are great for use in low-light and for creating beautiful bokeh with shallow depth of field. Prime lenses are fixed focal lengths, for example, 35mm, 50mm or 85mm. They are great for portraits/headshots, milky way photography/astophotography.

What lenses would you add to this list? Share with us in the comments below.

You may also find the following helpful

 

The post 3 Lenses Every Beginner Photographer Needs [video] appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

Why You Need a Digital Photo Frame

The post Why You Need a Digital Photo Frame appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

One of the unsung heroes of modern photography is the tried-and-true digital photo frame. These simple devices have been around for years, and yet they are rarely discussed in photography circles. With huge televisions adorning our walls, and smartphones stuffed into our pockets, one might wonder why there is any reason to own a digital photo frame. In the past few years, I have grown to greatly appreciate these devices, and I have realized how valuable, useful, and downright practical they are. If you or someone you know needs a good solution to viewing photos, a digital frame might be just what you’re looking for.

When digital frames first came on the market back in the mid-2000s, they were a great idea severely hampered by bad technology. Bezels were huge, the screens were small, and the images were dim and blurry. Setting up frames required toiling through a myriad of menus with nonsensical buttons and on-screen context clues.

Adding images to a digital frame was an exercise in frustration and required many steps on the part of the user. Plus, transitions between pictures were garish and often unbecoming of the memories on display.

It’s no wonder most people have stopped thinking about digital frames!

If this sounds like you, you’re not alone.

I was in the same boat until recently. However, the more I investigated what modern technology offers, the more impressed I became. In contrast to their counterparts from a decade ago, today’s digital frames have bright displays, show large high-resolution photos, are thin and sleek, and cost less than you might think. They often have cloud-based interfaces, offer companion smartphone apps, and can even show video clips.

The Nixplay Seed Wave has a large screen and wi-fi connectivity.

One-Trick Pony

One of the best reasons to get a digital frame isn’t because of what they can do, but what they can’t do. It seems silly to have yet another device in a world where screens already surround us, but the digital frames eschew the traditional idea of a computer screen by turning it on its head. They follow the adage of doing one thing and doing it well.

Most digital frames don’t let you do anything but view pictures. And this is precisely what makes them so great. They don’t run thousands of apps, let you surf social networks, or make video calls. They don’t play games, won’t let you binge-watch Netflix or YouTube, and don’t bombard you with notifications.

Digital frames sit there, passively doing only one thing: showing your pictures.

The Aura Digital Photo Frame has facial-recognition built into its companion app and a touchscreen for navigating options.

In an era where every device and gadget continually begs for our attention, digital frames are like an oasis in the middle of the desert. It’s downright refreshing to see a bright digital frame sitting on a shelf, knowing you can’t do anything with it other than look at pictures.

You don’t have to worry about software updates, and your viewing experience isn’t cluttered with dozens of icons and bubbles vying for your attention. In a media-saturated world, digital frames are a great way to slow down and enjoy, appreciate, and reflect on your pictures without distraction.

Some smart appliances like the Amazon Echo Show and Google Nest Hub act as photo frames, but I prefer the simplicity and focus of a dedicated frame. Other devices like that are nice, but the features they offer can often distract you from just enjoying your photos.

Advanced frames like the Google Nest Hub Max do lots of things, but I prefer simpler frames that don’t have built-in cameras, digital assistants, or alert bubbles begging for your attention.

To print or not to print

Like many people, my wife and I have struggled for years with the question of what to do about getting prints made of our pictures. We’ve made yearbooks that adorn our end tables, mounted framed snapshots on dressers, and festooned our walls with large prints and canvases. These are great, and we enjoy them a great deal, but every one of them eventually grows old over time.

When that inevitably happens, we have to consider what to do next. Do we keep the old prints around? Do we put up new images in place of what was once there? There are also practical concerns, like where to get prints made, what size to make them, and what happens when our favorite photo book publisher goes out of business?

We enjoy seeing prints as much as anyone, but the logistical hassles have added layers of stress and indecision onto what should be an enjoyable process.

The Pix-Star 15-inch frame lets you see your photos without printing them.

A digital frame solves almost all of these problems. Our 8×10″ Nixplay Seed sits in our living room showing a massive assortment of images without any effort from us. In the course of a single day, we see photos of family vacations, our kids when they were infants, and old slides that we scanned from negatives. We don’t have to think about switching photos out, spend entire evenings trying to decide which images are worth printing, or wonder whether a particular photo is worthy of being displayed for all to see.

Of course, there are still plenty of reasons to get pictures printed. But if you want a simple way to enjoy your pictures without the hassle of making physical copies, a digital frame might be right for you.

As is the case with most digital gadgets these days, storage space is not the same constraint as it used to be. Many frames have internal storage of at least 8GB, which is enough for almost 10,000 images. If that’s not enough, you can look for one with a removable memory card slot to add even more space.

Modern digital frames have more than enough storage space for your pictures. Unlike your walls and bookshelves, which can quickly fill up with physical prints.

Image quality

If you think that displaying your images on a digital frame means sacrificing overall quality, think again. This might have been true in 2005, but now, frames are leaps and bounds beyond where they used to be. As recently as a few years ago, many frames had resolutions of about 72 or 96dpi – similar to that of older computers.

This resolution is fine if you’re viewing your images from a distance, as often is the case when using frames in a household setting. However, frames today often have much higher pixel densities or anywhere between 150-300dpi that put them on par with most laptop screens and even that of some mobile phones.

This means that your images, even when viewed up close, are as crisp and sharp as you would see if you got them printed and you’ll be able to make out every detail from wisps of hair to blades of grass.

Aura makes a 9.7-inch frame with 2048×1536 resolution, which shows your memories in crisp, clear detail.

Most modern digital frames use bright screens that are now viewable from any angle, unlike older versions which required you to stand in the right spot to see your images. Your pictures appear bright and colorful, and some digital frames even let you show video clips alongside your images.

Worry-free sharing

With all the recent problems regarding data privacy on social network sites like Instagram and Facebook, it’s no wonder so many people are deleting their accounts! If you, or your friends and family, are limiting your social media usage but still want to see pictures of the important things in your life, a digital frame is just the answer. To illustrate this, I’m going to use my in-laws as an example.

My wife’s parents aren’t on any social media at all, and they prefer to spend their time reading, gardening, walking the dogs, and going out with friends. This means they don’t get to see any pictures of their grandchildren unless we send them physical prints, which they have to find a spot to display. A few months ago, my wife and I bought them a digital photo frame and have since populated it with well over a thousand images of us and our kids.

Do you have friends or family members who aren’t on social media? Get them a digital frame and fill it with photos for them to enjoy.

We shared their frame information with other family members who have also sent pictures to the frame. My wife’s parents love it! The frame sits in their living room, showing photos of the people they love without any effort on their part. And, they didn’t have to join a social network or share any personal data.

If you have people in your life who are concerned about data-mining and privacy, consider a digital frame as a happy medium. It allows you to share pictures on a more limited and intentional basis than sites like Instagram or Flickr. But the tradeoff is, you are in full control of the images, and none of your personal information is sold to third-parties for advertising.

This simple Tenker 7-inch frame, and others like it, won’t send your photos off to be analyzed for advertising.

Tips

Here’s a few more tips that might help you with digital frames.

  • Set your display to change pictures less often. Every hour or less is much better than every 30 seconds. It will seem slow at first, but you’ll get a lot more enjoyment in the long term. You won’t feel like you’re seeing the same images over and over.
  • Export your photos to the resolution of your frame to save on storage space. Sending a 24-megapixel image to a 3-megapixel frame won’t do you any good at all.
  • Set your friends and family up with sharing permissions so they can send you photos. Then make sure to return the favor and send photos to their frames too.
  • You can build your own photo frame with a cheap Android tablet and some software, but I recommend getting an off-the-shelf model. It’s just easier and will probably make your life a lot simpler in the long run.
  • Most modern frames have built-in memory but also sync with cloud storage options like Dropbox and Google Drive. You might have to configure a few settings, but it can make the already-easy process of sending pictures even simpler.

Do you use a digital photo frame? Or, are there reasons why you don’t? Feel free to share with us in the comments below.

 

why you need a digital photo frame

 

The post Why You Need a Digital Photo Frame appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

Landscape Photography Accessories You Need to Own

The post Landscape Photography Accessories You Need to Own appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Nisha Ramroop.

Every photo genre has its arsenal of accessories. Portrait photographers choose light modifiers; macro photographers have extension tubes and sports photographers walk with monopods to support heavy telephoto lenses out in the field. Similarly, landscape photographers pack a few accessories to help them work with the natural environment, time of day and elements to maximize their time. Here are a few key accessories that you will want to leave in your camera bag.

1. Filters (Polariser, ND, GND, UV)

Filters are a great way to shape your available natural light and there are many different kinds. The most common ones used for landscape are the polarizer and the graduated neutral density filters.

Polarizer / Circular Polarizing filter (CPL)

Some landscape photographers never leave home without this accessory. The major pros of CPLs include the way they enhance your colors (think blue skies) and also cut glare/reflection. In contrast, there are situations when you will not want to use a polarizer.

Adding a polarizer to the previous scene cuts the glare on the water and enhances the colors of the ocean

Neutral Density (ND)

This filter is basically a darkened piece of resin/glass that reduces the amount of light that enters your lens. Furthermore, in a proper ND filter, the color of the light is not affected (neutral). It is most useful in bright conditions, where you want to use a longer/lower shutter speed or wider aperture. ND filters come in different increments, which vary the amount of light that you block.

Graduated Neutral Density (GND)

Also known as a split neutral-density filter, GNDs selectively transmit light. Therefore it is essentially an ND where only part of the filter is darker, which allows you to reduce the brightness in part of your image. As a result, it is particularly useful in a contrasty scene with a bright sky.

A Graduated Neutral Density filter helps balance the sky

Ultraviolet (UV)/Haze/Clear

While these filters do little to affect your image, their main purpose is to protect the front element of the lens from dust and scratches. That being said, compromising on the quality of a UV filter may degrade the quality of your images. The best reason to add a UV filter would be for lenses that need a filter in place to complete its weather sealing.

2. Remote shutter/Intervalometer

So by now, you know that when capturing an image, minimizing vibrations goes a long way towards the eventual sharpness. It is one of the reasons that most cameras have a built-in delayed shutter function (usually 2 or 10 seconds). A remote shutter release gives you even more control over this functionality and comes in wireless/wired options. Some remote shutter releases (or cable releases) have basic or expanded options.

One of these options, available in advanced remote shutters, is interval timing. An interval timer (interval meter or intervalometer) gives you the option of automatically taking images at preset intervals for a defined period. Hence the intervals can be small (seconds) or long (hours). This feature allows you to capture light as it changes over a period of time and is more commonly known as time-lapse photography. Consequently, the lines between advanced remote shutter controls and intervalometers became blurred over the years, as each now has similar functions. Most of the recent ones are now easier to use as they are integrated into phone apps.

Fun with an Interval Timer

Some camera models come with built-in interval timers. If your camera already has this, you need an intervalometer only when the more advanced features are required. This includes setting the timer to wait more than 10 seconds before shooting or more time options before/between each image. Another good reason is if you want to tweak your settings between your images. When using the built-in function, the interval timer locks your camera for too long before you can make adjustments.

3. Rain protection

Even if you have a weather-sealed camera, large amounts of water can still damage it. As a landscape photographer, you have to be prepared for weather changes. Alternatively, it may be your choice to shoot in the rain or snow. If either is the case, you are better off playing it safe and protecting your camera body, lenses and any connected electronic accessories.

Protection can be a simple or expensive solution, which ranges from shower caps or plastic/garbage bags with holes cut out or a purchase option. Camera rain protection (ponchos, sleeves, jackets, raincoats) are all variations of customized plastic solutions, tailored for shooting easier in inclement weather. Therefore, they are usually heavy duty or thin enough to maintain access to your controls, but more durable than your everyday plastic bags.

A Neutral Density filter allows you to shoot longer exposures during the day.

Ponchos/Sleeves are thicker plastic capes that fit snugly over your camera and usually have a drawstring to securely cover the lens body. Jackets are made from a similar weatherproof material as raincoats, which are usually more breathable material. These have cinch straps for medium and larger sizes and slip on and off quite easily. Thus jackets and raincoats for your camera are more durable (and pricier) than ponchos and sleeves. Whichever solution works for you, most take up very little space and should own a place in your camera bag.

4. Flashlight

Considered an essential pack for night photographers, this small tool comes in handy when you least expect, so keep one in your bag. If you are a sunset chaser, a small reminder that night follows closely. A flashlight can be useful to do a quick sweep of the area to ensure you do not leave anything behind. Furthermore, if you are a night shooter, these come in handy to focus or light paint a subject in the dark.

Pro Tip: Choose a tough and lightweight flashlight and store it in an easy to reach outer pocket of your camera bag.

5. Tripod feet

Chances are you already know the importance of having a good tripod. In some conditions, such as mud, snow, uneven terrain or wet sand, adding tripod feet elevates your stability. Additionally, you can buy a one fit for all, although most of the top-rated tripods customize their tripod feet by terrain.

Conclusion

Some of the accessories you take with you can make the difference between a successful expedition and an average one. Choose what you pack wisely or customize it based on location. Either way, some accessories should just be part of your everyday bag, just in case.

Which accessories do you always have with you?

The post Landscape Photography Accessories You Need to Own appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Nisha Ramroop.

How to Make a DIY Photography Softbox [video]

The post How to Make a DIY Photography Softbox [video] appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

In this video by DIY FixMan, you’ll learn a cool, easy way to make a DIY photography softbox!

Materials and tools

What you will need to make your own DIY Photography Softbox:

  • A lamp
  • A cardboard box
  • Knife
  • Hot glue
  • Aluminum foil
  • Spray Paint (optional)
  • an hour of your time

Steps to making your DIY Photography Softbox

  1. Cut out your cardboard to a size that will fit your lamp.
  2. Ensure you cut the angles of the sides so they are the same so that they will piece together.
  3. Get your foil and cut it to the size of your cardboard pieces (use your cardboard as a template to trace around.
  4. Attach your foil to the individual pieces of cardboard. Masking tape works fine for this.
  5. Attach one of the longest sides to a short side using the hot glue gun. Then attach the other sides – holding in place until set.
  6. Once set, take your lightbox frame to a well-ventilated area and use your spray paint to paint it.
  7. Once dry, fix in your long lamp.
  8. Attach to a stand using a bracket.

Editors Note: You could also cut a piece of white material and attach it to the front of the softbox with velcro so you can diffuse the light.

 

You may also find the following helpful:

 

The post How to Make a DIY Photography Softbox [video] appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

Gear: AFIDUS ATL-200 Time-Lapse Camera Introduction

The post Gear: AFIDUS ATL-200 Time-Lapse Camera Introduction appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Sime.

I don’t know how many of you have looked into long-term time lapse before now, but I’m renovating my house and I scoured the web for a solution that was simple to setup and use, and more economical than the ones I found.

Skip forward a few months and this is something we spotted at NAB this year!

An amazing little time lapse camera that is very big on features, but remains very economical on price – The AFIDUS ATL-200.

I wanted to write up an overview of this product for any of you that might be interested. A Macro Time Lapse of a plant growing, or your house being renovated, the possibilities are mostly limitless…

 

The camera was pointed out to me by my friend and filmmaker buddy, Lee Herbet. And then it went and won itself NAB Product of the Year! (Congrats!) To me, as a photographer first, what makes this little camera so appealing is its feature set.

Specifications at a glance

  • Full HD Sony Sensor 1080p
  • Optical zoom equiv. of a 16-35mm lens
  • Wifi App controlled
  • IP65 weather resistant
  • System timer
  • Motion Detection
  • Pinch Zoom
  • MP4 Video output
  • Macro function
  • One Touch Autofocus
  • Wild battery life – weeks to months!

(Full spec here)

Features at a glance

  • The lens has a macro capture feature. With the camera inches away from your subject, you can fill the frame with perfect clarity.
  • Sony Exmor IMX sensor with HDR. Select the HDR amount within the app for great contrasts between bright and dark areas of your scene.
  • Built-in PIR motion detection. This is a great feature. Capture animals, traffic, pedestrian movement and more.
  • One tap autofocus with manual tap precision. If focus is off, manual saves the day and there is a focus calibration feature in the app.
  • 16-35mm DSLR equivalent, optical zoom lens. Yes, the lens zoom actually moves within the camera.
  • Full Wi-Fi app control. Press the camera button, connect to it with the Wi-fi signal on your phone and open the app. In seconds, you have complete control of your camera on your phone. IP65, which means dust protected and water splashing will have no effect on the camera. There is no need to purchase an optional housing with the ATL-200.

I was looking around for a solution to capture my home renovation a few months back. While there are a handful of different systems on the market, for me, they were quite cost restrictive. Whereas, the ATL-200 comes in at $389.00, which is much easier on the bank account.

There are a couple of the system’s features that really appeal to me. One is the system timer, which means you can set it up so that it captures your time lapse during the day while the workmen are on-site. It doesn’t fill your card with all the overnight photos where nothing is happening.

The ATL200 has a macro mode, too. So it can do some really creative things (I’m thinking of things like watching little critters in a garden). Also, it’s weather resistant, so just sit it in the dirt and off you go! Alternatively, capture a plant growing, or that sort of thing!

One of the real highlights is that the camera takes regular batteries. A set of four AA batteries will last you 45 Days at the 1-minute interval, 80 days at the 5-minute interval (8 hours a day). This is really quite amazing and great for long term time lapse. No special batteries required, and you can use rechargeable batteries, of course.

Here are a couple of example videos:

While we don’t have our own video made in-house just yet, we’re looking forward to trying the ATL-200 camera on a project very soon! For such a feature set at this price, this could be a really great addition to your content creation toolbox.

Find out the full tech spec and details here.

 

The post Gear: AFIDUS ATL-200 Time-Lapse Camera Introduction appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Sime.

How I Found Inspiration Using a Telezoom

The post How I Found Inspiration Using a Telezoom appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Christian Hoiberg.

I’ll admit something to you – something that I haven’t really talked about with too many. Something that might sound strange coming from someone who makes a living from photography…

I’ve had close to zero inspiration for doing landscape photography for several months – despite being out in the field most of the winter season.

There are many reasons why I’ve lacked inspiration, but most of them come back to the urge to creating something different, which I keep asking myself is possible at all. Has it all been done already? Aren’t we all in one way or another influenced by the photographers we admire? For years, my work has focused on wide-angle landscape photography. While I still enjoy it, I’ve become more fascinated with the intimate views offered through the use of a telezoom. This is how my inspiration blossomed again.

Zooming in forces you to slow down

One of the great things about using ultra wide-angle lenses is that it’s relatively easy to get a decent shot. Find a foreground, get close to it, smack on a filter or two and, hello, nice image. It might not be portfolio-worthy right out of the box, but it will certainly impress your friends and family.

Working with a telezoom is quite different, though. Simply zooming in on something isn’t going to create an interesting shot. You need to find that special something hiding within the grand landscape. Also, you’re even more dependent on having the right light and weather conditions.

When I first picked up a telezoom many years ago, the fact that it forced me to slow down was one of the best benefits. It changed my approach to photography and the world in many ways. Prior to that moment, I’d go out photographing but not really do much observing.

That’s different now.

In fact, I often do more observing than photographing.

I quite often return home from outings without the camera leaving my backpack.

It’s not just about being out there taking as many images as possible. It’s about enjoying the time you spend out there. This is something that came back to me again when, late last year, I started playing more with my Fuji 100-400mm again.

Create more unique work

Well, I’m not sure if simply zooming in is going to help create more unique work, but I think that, in many cases, it’s possible to show well-known scenes in an entirely new light. Up until now, “trophy hunting” has typically taken place in wide-angle landscapes. I think this has a lot to do with the fact that the overall landscape doesn’t need to be stunning when working with a telezoom. You can get stunning images anywhere you look.

The type of images captured at a focal length of, for example, 400mm are often what I call “no-name landscapes.” What I mean by this is that it doesn’t matter exactly where you take that shot; it’s simply beautiful, and you can just enjoy the image.

Challenge your creativity

When I’m guiding photography workshops, I often notice that many of the participants tend to stick with one lens, regardless of what we’re photographing and what the weather is like. This is despite the fact that they often have a wide selection of lenses to choose from in their backpack.

Now, I’ve been there, and I’m willing to bet that you’ve been there too. The reason is that we tend to have a favorite lens and quickly forget about all the others. My go-to lens for many years was the Nikon 16-35mm. Looking back at it now, I know that I missed a lot of great shots because I had taught myself to view the world within that focal length.

Conclusion

Mixing it up and taking out the telezoom forces you to break that bad habit and view the world at an unfixed focal length. When I’m standing at a location today, I’m continually analyzing my surroundings looking for both wide-angle and telezoom images.

Maybe I’m just rambling and making no sense. I ultimately believe that any artist is free to do whatever they want with their work. Who am I to tell someone what to do or not to do? The only thing I know for sure is that focusing more on working with a long focal length gave me a much-needed boost of inspiration and has led to me now enjoying working on several new and interesting projects.

Have you been getting into taking photos with a telezoom? We’d love you to share them with the dPS community in the comments section below.

The post How I Found Inspiration Using a Telezoom appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Christian Hoiberg.

K&F Concept TC2335 Carbon Fiber Tripod Review

The post K&F Concept TC2335 Carbon Fiber Tripod Review appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Adam Welch.

I’ve worked with a quite a few products from the folks over at K&F Concept in the last couple of years. Quality has ranged from great to average to the not so spectacular. When I was asked to have a look at their TC-2335 carbon fiber travel tripod, my expectations were at most cautiously optimistic. That being said, I’m happy to report that this little carbon fiber tripod from K&F Concept offers a lot in terms of performance. So, lets talk about K&F Concept TC-2335 carbon fiber tripod; what I liked, what I didn’t like and what you need to know if you happen to be in the market for a lightweight travel tripod.

First appearances

When the box first arrived my immediate reaction was “this is tiny…really tiny.” Not only that, but the entire package was alarmingly lightweight. After opening up the box I realized the logical reason for this: the TC-2335 is really tiny and incredibly lightweight. In fact, it is the most feather-like, compact tripod I have ever evaluated. The tripod itself is housed in its own padded carrying bag.

After removing the TC-2335 from its carrier, I was met with a surprisingly attractive carbon fiber tripod.

In terms of aesthetics, the TC-2335 proves to be one of the better-looking tripods I’ve entertained from K&F Concept. The carbon fiber is well done and is a default matte gray. This particular model comes with a matching orange color scheme, which looks great, But it is also available in an unlikely “thunder” version which features blue lighting graphics on the leg’s of the tripod…yes, really.

All leg locks are the twist type and are rubberized. I was honestly surprised with just how cleanly the leg locks are executed and would compare them to some higher-end tripod models I have handled.

Overall, the appearance of this tripod looks fantastic. But how would it perform in the field? Let’s find out.

In operation

Before we get rolling with how the TC-2335 performs, let’s have a look at a few specifications that you will want to know.

Practical technical specifications

  • Folded Height: 13.6 inches (34.54cm)
  • Maximum Height: 53.1 inches (134.9cm)
  • Minimum Height: 12.9 inches (32.8cm)
  • Weight: 1.85lbs (839g)
  • Maximum Weight Supported: 26.5lbs (12kg)

Stability

For such an admittedly small form factor, the TC-2335 is very stable. The terminating leg sections are quite small in diameter and this would lead one to assume that the legs are flimsy. But this is not the case. When locked down, this little tripod is reasonably stable even in high wind and awkward positions.

Speaking of the legs, I’ve mentioned already how impressed I was with the leg lock mechanisms, but there’s more. I was concerned, given the slender legs, that the overall stability would be compromised. However, the leg locks do an excellent job of arresting almost all leg movement.

The leg angle locks are something that I dislike about this tripod. They are not spring loaded; meaning that after you pull out on the locks, you must manually press them back into place to lock the legs. Again, I’m sure this is a weight saving measure, but the added convenience would have been worth the small amount of bulk, in my opinion.

The ball head

I used this tripod with three separate camera’s, ranging from lightweight crop-sensor mirrorless to full-frame DSLR. The ball head had no problems supporting the weight placed on it throughout my tests. K&F states that the tripod is capable of supporting virtually fourteen times its weight. While that may be extreme, I do not doubt that the ball head mechanism could support a camera system upwards of five to six pounds should the circumstances present themselves.

The ball head itself sports only a single adjustment knob which controls both panning and the ball head articulation. I’m sure this is a weight saving measure but can lead to complications when adjusting your camera at times. While panning is silky smooth, the ball head seems to be somewhat rough and quite audible when moved. A small amount of lubrication may help in this area. I feel I should also note that the ball head features not only a bubble level – which is quite useful – but also a magnetic compass.

Again, yes…really.

What’s great

In terms of packability, the TC-2335 from K&F Concept is superb. It’s extremely lightweight and doesn’t take up much room anywhere. It would be ideal for those who do a lot of flying or for anytime space comes at a premium. It looks great and is more than capable of supporting most camera systems that you’ll likely want to be carrying around. The twist locks on the legs also secure with extreme solidity. Overall, for a tripod of this size, the entire platform is oddly stable.

What’s not so great

I can’t get past the angle locks for the legs not being spring loaded, and this is the major gripe I have with this tripod. Granted, this is the first tripod I recall using which doesn’t have this feature. At the same time, I’m sure this would be something that could be a personal preference. Also, the quite serviceable ball head is not exactly smooth in operation, and I would have liked to have seen a secondary knob for panning.

Final verdict

For a tripod which is intended to be a travel companion for the highly mobile photographer, the K&F Concept TC-2335 is a wonderful low-cost option if you are in the market for a compact carbon fiber tripod. It’s good looks and solid stance will be completely adequate for most shooters who understand it’s uses and limitations.

Don’t look for a workhorse tripod here. Rather, I would suggest you view the TC-2335 as a wholly capable shooting platform that will come in handy when weight, size, and portability take precedence over the subtle functionalities found in larger, more dedicated camera support systems.

 

The post K&F Concept TC2335 Carbon Fiber Tripod Review appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Adam Welch.

Are Early 2000s Digital Cameras Secondhand Bargains?

The post Are Early 2000s Digital Cameras Secondhand Bargains? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Glenn Harper.

Today, digital photography is ubiquitous, but there is still a demand among enthusiasts for classic film cameras. By all accounts, the analog medium has made a comeback over the last 2-3 years. What you don’t often hear of is people hankering for older digital cameras, even for the sake of nostalgia. Technology has moved on, but has it moved on so much that they are obsolete? Or are early 2000s digital cameras secondhand bargains? We’ll find out.

film cameras - Olympus OM10

There is still plenty of love out there for old film cameras. This is an Olympus OM10 (c. 1978-87).

Inescapable truths

Those of us that have been shooting digitally for over ten years probably don’t miss the early days of post-processing. The sensors were noisier and there was no in-camera dust removal. One way or another, a lot of time was spent trying to clean things up. Less advanced, too, was the software we used to process photos. Trying to recover highlights or remove noise, for instance, was harder than it is today. Photos were abandoned that might be saved with modern editing.

Canon EOS 5D sensor dust

The original Canon EOS 5d (c. 2005) had no dust-cleaning capability. Neither did I. Whenever I had the sensor cleaned, dust spots quickly reappeared.

Aside from noisier, dirtier sensors and editing limitations, exterior hardware on cameras was also inferior in the early days. LCDs were smaller with a lower resolution, and electronic viewfinders weren’t as clear. The benefit of a bright viewfinder shouldn’t be underestimated, and it’s still a feature of higher-end cameras today over entry-level models (e.g., pentaprism vs. pentamirror optical viewfinders).

Sensor resolution

With camera age comes the question of sensor resolution. Modern cameras have high-res sensors. More resolution gives you more freedom to crop pictures after the event and still end up with a decent-sized print. It’s like having an extra lens. Many photographers prefer not cropping pictures, but it’s a luxury that didn’t always exist. In the “old” days of low sensor resolution, there was more discussion among photographers on interpolation methods. People wanted to make their digital files bigger so they could create larger prints. That subject is now almost archaic.

Panasonic FZ-28 CCD sensor

The CCD sensor of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28 (c. 2008). Despite having a smaller sensor than the earlier FZ30, the FZ28’s resolution was higher. Advances in sensor technology are frequently used to increase resolution rather than substantially decrease noise.  Photo: Thomas Bresson [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Glimmer of light

Despite the drawbacks of using old digital cameras, some had useful features that are rare or even extinct today. And the minuses are mostly surmountable. Let’s examine three cameras that are all 10+ years old and see what we can do with them. All of the following are eminently affordable on the secondhand market: more so than many classic film cameras.

Old camera #1: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-R1

Even by today’s standards, the 2005 10.3-megapixel Sony DSC-R1 is an innovative camera. It never sold well, but it had a unique combination of a fixed 24-120mm Carl Zeiss lens, an APS-C sized CMOS sensor, full-time live-view LCD display (a first at that sensor size), and live histogram. The technical quality was/is excellent.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-R1 - early 2000s digital cameras

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-R1 is a bridge camera with a large APS-C sensor. It was unusual in 2005 and remains so today.

The main limitation of the Sony R1 is a sensor that gets noisy above ISO 400 combined with an absence of image stabilization. This is not a camera you can easily use for high-quality interior photos without a tripod. You have to employ old-school sturdy shooting methods with controlled breathing, a good stance, a steady hand, and a camera braced against pillars or posts if necessary.

Sony R1 JPEG and fill flash

This is a Sony R1 JPEG with a bit of fill light from the built-in flash. I persist with the raw files despite their slowness in writing.

At ISO 160-200, Sony R1 pictures are clear with great color. At ISO 400 they’re still good. When viewed at 100%, the images are satisfying with lots of detail. On the minus side, raw files take a long time to write on the R1 (several seconds, typically). This was never a rapid-fire camera for those aiming to pull the most quality from it. The R1 takes CF cards or Sony memory sticks – no SD cards.

The quality of the R1’s Carl Zeiss T* 24-120mm lens doesn’t disappoint. Exposure: 1/160th sec, ISO 160, f/8, approx 40mm equivalent focal length.

The R1’s WLF (waist level finder)

The flip-out 2″ LCD of the R1 didn’t appeal to everyone as it swivels upwards, effectively making the camera bigger. It’s already quite a bulky bridge camera. Personally, I love the fact that the LCD screen can slot flush into the top of the camera, turning it into a waist-level finder. That’s great for candid portraits or street photos, even if you have to wait for those big Sony raw files to write (you can shoot JPEGs). The camera has an electronic viewfinder that’s dimmer and lower resolution than you’d expect from today’s cameras, but it’s usable.

Sony R1 waist level finder

I’m not aware of any other digital stills camera that allows this. The LCD is only 2″ wide, but that allows it to slot neatly into the top of the camera like a WLF.

Of all the digital cameras I’ve used, the Sony R1 is one of the few that I haven’t sold over time. I can’t bring myself to get rid of it because of its quirkiness and quality. For those familiar with him, well-known US photographer and blogger Kirk Tuck was still singing the praises of the R1 just a few years back. This is a secondhand bargain if you can cope with the cons.

Old camera #2: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ30

The main problem with the 2005 Panasonic Lumix FZ30 is the noise from its 8-megapixel CCD 1/1.8″ sensor. Even at ISO 80, it’s there. That aside, there are many appealing features. The 12x Leica-branded optical zoom lens with image stabilization is sharp across its whole range. Despite its age, the electronic viewfinder in this camera isn’t bad, even if the dioptric dial nudges out of place too easily. I tend to use the EVF more than the 2″ flip-down LCD.

The 12x optical zoom of the Lumix FZ-30 is fairly modest by today’s standards and isn’t very wide at the wide end. But still, you get good long-lens versatility that doesn’t seem to exceed its Mega O.I.S. ability (Optical Image Stabilization).

Offering all the exposure control you’d expect from an SLR, the Lumix FZ30 also allows raw shooting – a strong point in its favor. With today’s processing, and by restricting your photography to base ISO where possible, you can achieve good results. Limiting? Yes, but you get 36-432mm versatility for your trouble. The stabilization is effective, allowing you to make use of that long zoom at relatively low speeds with good technique.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ30 controls - early 2000s digital camera

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ30 feels well made and gives you as much control as you want. Aside from allowing raw files, it captures modest VGA res video (typical for its age).

This is a camera that yields detailed pictures, is quick to handle, has long battery life and doesn’t hold you up with big raw files. One frustrating aspect is the need for 2GB SD cards to run it, which many people will not have in this day and age. It doesn’t accept SDHC cards (4GB+).

This is a 100% section of an FZ30 file with Adobe’s “enhanced details” and some basic masked capture sharpening applied in Lightroom. The detail isn’t at all bad at base ISO and unsharpened noise is unimposing. (Best viewed full size @ 1500 pixels.) Exposure: 1/500th, f/5, ISO 80.

Although noise is an issue with the Lumix DMC-FZ30, that is less important now than 14 years ago when the camera came out. Software like Topaz AI Sharpen, though not perfect, is good at suppressing noise and bringing out detail. The tools in Lightroom and other programs have also improved no end. Old cameras become more viable as processing technology advances.

Panasonic Lumix FZ30 - Early Digital Cameras

Exposure: 1/160th @ f/4 – ISO 80. The focal length is 52mm, equating to around 250mm in 35mm terms. Image stabilization is probably helping a little here.

Old camera #3: Canon EOS 450D/Rebel XSi

I wouldn’t recommend early digital SLRs to anyone based on dust problems alone, but that becomes a non-issue four generations in. The Canon EOS Rebel XSi (450D in Europe) came out in 2008. It was an entry-level DSLR offering many benefits over previous models. Among them were a sizeable 3″ LCD, Live View with phase and contrast detection AF, spot metering and a bigger, brighter viewfinder.

Canon EOS 450D - Rebel XSi

The lightest camera among the three even with its lens is the EOS Rebel XSi (450D). The kit lens is good, but a cheap 50mm f/1.8 would make even more of the camera’s excellent sensor.

The Rebel XSi is small and light by SLR standards and won’t give much satisfaction to metal-loving traditionalists. It doesn’t feel substantial. However, it’s understated and functional, and lets you go about your work stealthily. No-one is going to think you’re a pro, no matter how well you hold the camera. The most noticeable flaw is some wacky white balance results from time to time, especially under artificial light. Shooting raw, that’s not a deal-breaker.

Caanon EOS 450D - eary 2000s digital cameras - bargains

This 100% view (with capture sharpening) shows good detail from the 18-55mm Canon kit lens. A 50% view creates more of a real-world impression, so this is okay at full size.

As you might expect from a Canon CMOS sensor, noise levels are low with the EOS Rebel XSi (lower than the Sony R1, for instance). Obviously, they’re not as impressive as a high-end camera from today or even yesterday, but you can risk ISO 800 or even max ISO 1600 images for some indoor shots and polish them up later. Better still, you can make use of live view, manual focusing and a tripod if circumstances allow.

Canon EOS 450D - Topaz Sharpen AI

Topaz Sharpen AI is good at sorting out detail from noise, though you have to check over the result for artifacts. This is an ISO 800 shot viewed at 100% with Topaz sharpening and noise suppression. This type of software is only going to improve.

A question of balance

If you’re using heavy “L” series lenses, they may not sit well on the Rebel XSi. It doesn’t have any heft. The original 18-55mm kit lens is sharp, lightweight and has good image stabilization. A modern equivalent of the Rebel XSi would give you more resolution, more advanced processing (a little quicker, less noise at high ISOs), a higher res LCD and video. All this was available in the camera that superseded it in 2009 – the EOS Rebel T1i (500D). But the stills photographer looking for a bargain DSLR might find an answer in the Rebel XSi. It has just enough and a bit more.

Canon 18-55mm IS kit lens - EOS 450D - bargain early 2000s cameras.

This 50% crop gives you a good idea of what the 2008 18-55mm kit lens can do, albeit through a compressed JPEG. There’s not much to complain about quality-wise, even if the sensor promises more.

Conclusion

With modern processing at our disposal, digital cameras from the early part of this century have more potential now than they had when new. Especially those that shot raw files. Yes, you’ll find it hard to go back to them if you’ve spoiled yourself with ultra-high-res LCDs and mega-bright EVFs. But some of the downsides in old cameras have upsides of their own: less brightness and resolution means better battery life. Low-res sensors mean not editing football-pitch-sized files.

You wouldn’t use old cameras if your living relied on the best high-ISO performance. Still, any of the three models I’ve discussed can easily produce a publishable, high-quality photo if you accept their constraints and process the files carefully. Other than the Sony R1’s slow write times, the cameras are quick and easy to handle.

So, with one or two caveats, I’d say early 2000s digital cameras can definitely be bargains.

Do you use any of these cameras, or have any to add to this list? Please share with the dPS community in the comments below.

 

The post Are Early 2000s Digital Cameras Secondhand Bargains? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Glenn Harper.

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