Review of the Nikon Z6 Mirrorless Camera [video]

The post Review of the Nikon Z6 Mirrorless Camera [video] appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

In this review of the Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera, Tony and Chelsea Northrup test out this camera in different scenarios to see how it performs.

It has a few issues that you may want to know about, but are they serious enough to steer away from this camera?


  • Ergonomically, it feels good to hold.
  • Autofocus is an issue. While shooting wildlife, the camera hunted for focus and caused many missed shots. Even during a portrait shoot, the Z6 sometimes narrowly missed focus. As a result, they had to over-shoot to ensure they got at least one shot in focus.
  • Autofocus also failed in backlit scenarios, so manual focus was used.
  • The camera advertises shooting at 11 frames per second, but when shooting moving objects such as birds, you will need to drop that down to around 5 frames per second.
  • Because the sensor doesn’t close when changing lenses, there is more possibility of getting dust on the sensor (an issue with mirroless cameras in general).
  • There are no native lenses for the Z mount so you need an adapter.
  • White balance is the worst they have seen in any camera, and it had to be set manually.
  • Exposure compensation had to be constantly adjusted to get the right exposure. The camera would often underexposure backlit portraits – often by a number of stops.

If you are a photographer, you may be better off buying a used Nikon D750 with the same lenses, with no need for an adapter. You’ll get the same image quality, without the focusing issues, plus two card slots.


  • When using video, rolling shutter is prevalent.
  • The image stabilization isn’t good when shooting video, so often needed to be switched off. It was jarring when walking, which is problematic due to the native lenses not having image stabilization either.
  • Focusing points go all the way to the edge of the frame.
  • While the Z6 doesn’t have eye detection focus, Nikon has promised it in a future Firmware upgrade.
  • While the Z6 has the best video autofocusing of any Nikon camera, they are still way behind other competitors.
  • The video looks great when shooting in low-light scenarios. So much so that it outperforms it’s competitors in this area, including the Canon EOS R, Nikon Z7, Nikon D850, and Sony A7R III. This makes it one of the best low-light video performance cameras ever made.
  • Auto White balance can be very problematic and often required setting it manually.
  • No flip screen for filming yourself.

If you already own the Nikon D750 or D850, you already have the best Nikon cameras, so save your money and stick to those.

If you must go mirrorless, perhaps try competitor brands such as Sony and Fuji.


You may also find the following articles helpful:


The post Review of the Nikon Z6 Mirrorless Camera [video] appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

Aerial Time Lapse Basics with DJI Mavic Pro 2 Drone Specific Examples

The post Aerial Time Lapse Basics with DJI Mavic Pro 2 Drone Specific Examples appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Peter West Carey.

Drones can capture images and footage you might have only dreamed of in the past. Now that ability is easily extended to time lapse photography.

I prefer to refer to my drone as a flying camera. While there is certainly some fun to be had in the simple joy of flying around and looking at stuff from high up, I use my drone primarily to create images and footage with an eye toward cinematic appeal. Time lapse imagery can convey a sense of place that still images and videos lack.

The Basics

This post is written based on experience with the latest model DJI Mavic 2 Pro. While manufacturers differ how they handle time-lapse creation, the tips below are meant to introduce you to what’s available. Some tips will be specific for this model but I will also offer more tips for aerial time-lapse creation in general.

Some drone manufacturers will compile the time lapse video for you while others simply record each individual photo, allowing you to compile the video yourself.

It’s important to note that all experimentation and practice should be done in an open space, away from people, buildings, pets and in accordance with all laws and regulations for your location. I practiced over land many, many times before I felt confident using the automatic modes for time lapses over water.

Tips Before Getting Started

Check exposure and anticipate

Changing exposure during a timelapse shoot, be it on land or in the air, is often a tricky endeavor. I suggest, when getting started, to anticipate your lighting situation and not attempt to change exposure during a timelapse shoot if your drone allows it.

It can be difficult to make exposure adjustments depending on your brand of drone (and some don’t allow it at all) – it’s hard enough to safely fly a drone while shooting. Try not to add too much complexity on top of that.

Try different interval timings and drone speed, 2 seconds is a lot different than 10 seconds

The speed of your drone, distance to objects and the length of your interval will have a large impact on your time lapse. There’s a reason DJI limits the speed of the drone in certain modes (explained below) to 4.5MPH. Anything faster than that and the video shows way too much motion to be palatable.

But if you’re flying slow, a 10-second interval might be ideal for helping show the movement of slow-moving clouds or shadows.

Let me show you the difference between a 2-second interval (at 1.6MPH) and a 5-second interval (at 4.5MPH) while a drone circles me.

It’s going to take some experimenting to get it right.

Look at your total time to create 

DPS writer, Ryan Chylinski, explains the importance of shoot length in this helpful post. When flying a drone, it’s even more important to make sure you don’t run out of card space and that you judge the movement of your drone compared to the total time it will take to shoot your time lapse.

Will you cover too much ground? Will your drone still be in line-of-sight (which most countries require as part of drone flying regulations)? What obstacles might your drone encounter when flying that long?

Plan ahead to avoid simple mistakes.

Point one way, film another

Facing one direction while flying another can offer a dynamic look to your video, rather than simply flying straight ahead. You can use a backward facing drone to get a typical pull-back shot or point slightly off of perpendicular for a dolly shot, such as the sunrise below.

Leave yourself time to return home

Do you have enough battery to shoot and return?

This is one of the most important question to ask. Some drones will warn you, but some won’t.

I had a frightening experience when I misjudged distance and return time while shooting a time lapse over water and nearly lost my drone (and polluted the environment). Midway through the flight I aborted the shoot and returned with a safe margin of battery, but I lost the shot.

Work altitude shifts into your scene

Altitude shifts are a like using a typical slider, but on steroids. You’re not limited to the four or 10 feet of a ground-based slider so the changes can be over a much larger distance. You also don’t need to stay moving parallel to the ground the whole time.

Here’s a simple example of a pullback that covered about 1000ft over land/water while steadily climbing 140ft in altitude.

Fly smooth

Using a pre-built, computer-controlled mode, like the ones mentioned below, help ensure smooth flight and operation. If you are controlling your drone manually while shooting a time lapse, ensure that your movements are slow and steady, allowing for your camera to shoot enough photos for a smooth video.

Here’s an example of what happens when I panned down then up too fast while shooting.

Result: Ruined video. Also, to my liking, the pan left and right are too fast.

DJI’s different methods – What do they mean?

DJI fits all of their time lapse modes into a section it calls Hyperlapse. Hyperlapse is just a cool sounding phrase meaning a moving time lapse. The Hyperlapse modes will all shoot and compile the video for you, typically in 1080p and 25 frames per second. You can also choose to save the individual RAW files if you wish to use your own time lapse software.

Safety Note: While the drone uses its side, front, rear, top and bottom sensors to detect objects, it still requires your attention at all times. If it finds an object in its path, it will stop shooting. It is very important to remain in control of the drone and ready to intervene. In Course Lock and Waypoints modes, if you make any adjustment to the controls of the drone, it will exit those modes and stop shooting.

Course lock

Course lock is the mode I use most often and it’s the one I’m going to start with. It allows you to aim the drone in one direction for flight and then either point the camera any way you like, or choose a subject to be tracked.

You start by setting course and then the interval, video length and speed. Each item is set by first tapping it and then moving the slider accordingly.

Setting the course is as simple as pointing the drone in the direction you wish to go and tapping the lock icon next to interval, video length and speed. In this case, I pointed the drone directly at the sun. The little image of a lock means my course is locked.

Next, you’ll want to point the drone’s camera in the direction you want to film. Then adjust the shooting settings.

In this example, I left the interval at 2 seconds but then set the video length to 15 seconds.

With that change to video length and interval, the app shows me how many photos it will take and the length of shooting.

After that I set the speed to 3.4MPH.

All that is left is to hit GO and watch the scene unfold! (Notice the course lock section still shows the drone’s intended direction toward the sun.)


Free Mode is straight forward and gives you the most control. After setting the shooting interval and video length as you would in Course Lock Mode, you are free to fly any which way you please. Up, down, backward, forward, left and right.

But be warned: fast course changes or high speeds will cause your video to be anything less than smooth.

At any time you can press the C1 button (on the underside of the controller) to lock course and speed.

As Free Mode can be used while the drone is on the ground, you can actually use it as a still camera for time lapse.


As you saw in the videos up top, choosing your speed and interval is important for Circle Mode.

Start by setting the distance from your subject for your drone. Ensure the circle your drone will subscribe in the sky does not encounter any obstacles. If need be, adjust your drone’s height or distance from your subject to achieve the framing you desire.

Next, select Circle Mode from the Hyperlapse options.

Now set your interval, video length and speed as described in the Course Lock Mode. Then select the direction your drone will fly; either clockwise or counterclockwise.

Above these settings, the program will tell you how long the shoot will take and how many frames will be shot. In the example, that will be 5 minutes and 48 seconds to take 175 frames.

Most importantly, choose your subject! You do this by drawing a box on the screen by pressing and dragging until it highlights your subject.

Press GO and your drone will start snapping and moving. When it is finished, you will see a screen as the drone creates (synthesizes in DJI speak) the video.

In the example above, you will notice the path the drone took, which is a very pretty circle (with my initial flight path to get the drone in place mixed in). All Hyperlapse modes require this video synthesizing and the length of time depends on the number of shots. Until video creation is complete, you cannot take any photos or video, but you can fly the drone as normal.


Waypoints Mode is a bit trickier to work than the others, but offers a lot of control and unique results.

After selecting Waypoints Mode you will set your interval and video length as the other modes. You will then set the waypoints your drone will fly. You can set up to five waypoints and a minimum of two.

To do this, fly to the first waypoint, orient your view as you like and press the + symbol in the Hyperlapse tray at the bottom of the screen to lock that waypoint. Continue this method, flying to each waypoint and pressing +.

In this example, I have set two of my five waypoints and will continue adding until all five are set. The map on the left side shows each waypoint with a number and the direction the camera will face.

When you are finished plotting each waypoint, you have the choice to fly the waypoints in order marked or in reverse. If you choose “In Order”, the drone will fly itself to the first waypoint and begin. Otherwise, the drone will begin at the last waypoint selected and fly backwards (but will pay attention to your selected camera orientation for each waypoint).

While the drone flies, you will see the waypoints on the map along with a timer showing how long the drone has been flying and the total time it will fly the route. Next to that is the number of images taken followed by the total images to be shot.

More Examples

Course Lock while facing perpendicular to flight path

Course Lock while flying backward

Course Lock while flying backward with an upward pan for clouds


Time Lapse videos from a drone offer a unique and sometimes challenging option. They take planning not only to consider the subject matter and lighting, but also for the safe operation of your drone while it is taking photos.

Each mode offers different options and it’s best to play with them in a safe environment to get the hang of what you can accomplish.

Have fun and post some examples as you try out this technique. I’d love to see them!

The post Aerial Time Lapse Basics with DJI Mavic Pro 2 Drone Specific Examples appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Peter West Carey.

Review: DJI Mavic 2 Zoom

The post Review: DJI Mavic 2 Zoom appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Adam Welch.

Photography is an ever evolving medium. New gear, new technology and new ways of seeing the world make it an extremely exciting time to be a photographer right now.

Over the last year or so I’ve become more and more interested in aerial photography and getting new perspectives for my work. And wouldn’t you know it, DJI just released another brand new tool for aerial photography in August of 2018. So when I had the opportunity to test it out, I didn’t hesitate. I give you…

…wait for it…

…the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom.


Out of the box

Sleek, compact and understated; that’s how I would describe the appearance of the Mavic 2 Zoom. DJI has chosen a color scheme that should be familiar to those who have experienced the previous model upon which they have based the Mavic 2 Zoom upon – the Mavic Pro. The drone itself is dark gray with a silver belly and matching silver accents. You’ll notice that while the overall lines have been maintained, the Mavic 2 Zoom is a completely different animal when compared to its predecessor.




The gimbal cover of the Mavic 2 has also been updated to protect the camera during transport. While easy to remove, I have to admit reattaching the gimbal cover was slightly confusing the first time I attempted it. Luckily, DJI has included a quick diagram to help with this.


Who knows, maybe it was just me being clumsy? In any case, once you get the hang of the new gimbal cover, reattaching it becomes essentially like riding a bike.

The Mavic 2 Zoom has incorporated a set of legitimate landing and take-off lights to aid in low-light situations when the bottom-facing obstacle sensors may have difficulty discerning where the ground may be. Speaking of sensors, DJI has enhanced the Mavic 2 Zoom with Omnidirectional Obstacle Sensing technology (more on that later) for side, front and rear obstacle avoidance. These sensors are readily visible throughout the breadth of the aircraft yet somehow the body of the drone doesn’t appear overly cluttered.


The controller for the Mavic 2 Zoom has received a light makeover as well. I was happy to see the addition of the fantastic “stow and go” joysticks present on the Mavic AIR controller to this new iteration of Mavic controllers. When not in use, the joysticks can be packed away beneath the folding wings of the controller.

This makes stashing your controller in your bag much easier and less likely to snag or less ideally, break.


Shown with joysticks attached

Most of the contact surfaces are rubberized, and the controller feels great even when using a larger smartphone like my Samsung S8 Active.

Speaking of phones, an incredibly cool feature of the Mavic 2 Zoom controller is that it charges your phone should your phone’s battery level drop to below 40% during flight. How cool is that?

Thanks for having our backs, DJI.

With that said, you will almost certainly need to remove your phone case (should you have one) to make everything fit within the controller. Of course, you might not have to, but keep that in mind before you fly.

Another feature, albeit possibly not as overtly impressive for some as it was to me, is the addition of an integrated charging cable built right into the included battery charger.

This controller is also identical and interchangeable with the controller for the Mavic 2 Zoom

This enables the user to always have a way to charge their controllers should they misplace or not have another cable to charge the controller.

With the introductions complete, let’s get down to business and see how well the Mavic 2 Zoom performs in the air.

Flight performance

In comparison to the Mavic Pro, it’s safe to say that DJI has improved virtually every area of flight performance in the Mavic 2 Zoom. They have increased the maximum speed and the overall flight time and distance capability. Even though descent/ascent speeds have remained the same as the Mavic Pro (impressive in its own right), it’s easy to see that the Mavic 2 Zoom is very much an upgrade in terms of its ability to fly further faster and with more confidence.

  • Dimensions Folded: 214×91×84 mm (length×width×height)
  • Dimensions Unfolded: 322×242×84 mm (length×width×height) with 354mm at diagonal
  • Weight: 1.99 lbs(905g) with battery and propellers attached
  • Maximum flight time: 31 minutes at constant 15.5 mph(25 kph)
  • Maximum hover time: 29 minutes(no wind)
  • Operating temperatures: 14° F to 104° F(-10°C to 40°C)
  • Maximum speed: 44.7 mph(72 kph) (S-mode)
  • Maximum ascent speed: 5 m/s (S-mode), 4 m/s (P-mode)
  • Maximum descent speed: 3 m/s (S-mode), 3 m/s (P-mode)
  • Maximum altitude: 19,685ft above sea level (6000m)

The Mavic 2 Zoom is about 2g lighter in total weight but all other performance statistics regarding speed, dimensions and flight are precisely the same as the new DJI Mavic 2 Pro drone. In fact, it’s safe to say that the Mavic 2 Zoom and Mavic 2 Pro use the same drone body. The only difference being their respective camera systems.

Don’t believe me?

Here is the Mavic 2 and Mavic 2 Zoom side by side. If you can’t tell, why should I?


In flight, the Mavic 2 Zoom is nimble with great response time. The propellers have been redesigned to make them quieter when compared to the Mavic Pro. Unfortunately, this also means that the propellers are not interchangeable between the two aircraft. So, you won’t be able to buy a set of Mavic 2 props to quiet down your older Mavic. Sorry folks.

Acceleration is quite impressive, with stops being not overly abrupt. Of course, many of these observations depend on how you have the responsiveness of your controller configured. Speaking of that, DJI has placed the three main flight modes for the Mavic 2 Zoom on the right side of the controller. These modes are Tripod (T), Positioning (P) and Sport (S).


When in T-mode, the speed of the drone becomes greatly reduced as well as the acceleration and deceleration making it great for slow and controlled pans. Also, all of the Mavic 2 Zoom’s Omnidirectional Obstacle sensors are enabled.

P-mode could be called the “standard” flight mode. In P-mode, all of the Intelligent Flight modes are available.

Lastly, we have blazing-fast S-mode. In sport mode, all obstacle avoidance is disabled which means you’re entirely on your own. The fun part? The Mavic 2 Zoom can then hit a top speed of nearly 45mph (72.4kph). The Mavic 2 Zoom can also allow the pilot to select from pre-programmed intelligent flight modes which are great for obtaining footage that would otherwise be difficult for the average user.

Intelligent Flight Modes

  • ActiveTrack 2.0(with improved 3D subject tracking) Capable of identifying up to 16 subjects and track 1
  • Cinematic Mode (dampens the drone’s movements for increased stability) Softens the breaking period for increased video smoothness
  • Hyperlapse Moves the drone through out the acquisition of time lapses
  • QuickShots (outlined below)
  • Points Of Interest (POI 2.0) Allows the user to choose a subject and instruct the drone to keep it in frame based on a predetermined altitude and speed while circling
  • Waypoint Navigation The Mavic 2 Zoom will fly to a series of locations chosen on the map
  • Tap-to-Fly Select a map area and the drone will automatically fly to that spot

QuickShot Intelligent Flight Modes

  • Dolly Zoom An interesting cinematic zoom effect…Hitchcock style
  • Asteroid Essentially contorts your scene into spherical illusion
  • Boomerang The drone will fly in an ellipse around the subject and automatically start and stop filming in the same place
  • Rocket The Mavic 2 Zoom will take off vertically with the camera flowing your subject
  • Circle Enables the drone to fly in a circle around the subject at a predetermined altitude and distance
  • Dronie Pre-programmed upward flight with the drone moving backward all the while tracking the subject
  • Helix The drone will upward and away while maintaining view of your subject

Zoom Zoom

If you’re like me, then I figure you’re extremely interested in the camera of the Mavic 2 Zoom. After all, unless you just like flying a drone around the sky (which is fun too), the real reason you’re doing it all is to get awesome aerial photos and videos.

The elephant in the room is, of course, the zoom feature which is the Mavic 2 Zoom’s namesake. It has a 2x optical zoom plus an additional digital zoom capability (which DJI reports being lossless) when shooting video in FHD 1080p. DJI also reports the Mavic 2 Zoom to be capable of producing images with 13-stops of dynamic range. That’s impressive.

Here’s a rundown of the major camera features from the DJI website:

  • Sensor: 12MP 1/2.3″ CMOS
  • Focal Length: 35 mm equivalent of 24-48 mm
  • Maximum Aperture: f/2.8 (24 mm) – f/3.8 (48 mm)
  • Shutter Speed Range: 8–1/8000s
  • ISO Range: 100-3200 for video, 100-1600 (auto) 100-3200 (manual) for photo
  • Internal Memory Storage: 8GB
  • Image Formats: JPEG / DNG (RAW)
  • Video Formats: MP4 / MOV (MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, HEVC/H.265)
  • Video Resolution: 4K: 3840×2160 24/25/30p
    2.7K: 2688×1512 24/25/30/48/50/60p
    FHD: 1920×1080 24/25/30/48/50/60/120p

The camera of the Mavic 2 Zoom also incorporates some flashy new in-camera functionalities. It’s “Super Resolution” feature is incredibly interesting. It is essentially an onboard image stitching tool which can create images with a total resolution of approximately 48MP.

Not only that, but the Mavic 2 Zoom also sports DJI’s new “Hyperlight” mode for increasing image quality during extremely lowlight flights.

Here are a few test images made with the Mavic 2 Zoom.




To give a better understanding of what that 24-48mm focal length actually brings you in terms of zoom capability, here are two frames for comparison. The first shot at 24mm….


24mm at f/2.8

…and the second at 48mm


48mm at f/3.8

Why not two more? Each one is a 1-second exposure which speaks to the stabilization of that 3-axis gimbal.


24mm at f/2.8

Then zooming in to 48mm on that tower the distance.


48mm at f/3.8

I feel it’s worth mentioning that those last two nighttime images were made in a well-known and open area with the drone constantly in site. Be extremely cautious should you operate any aircraft in dark conditions.

Lastly, here is a quick bit of video footage shot using the Mavic 2 Zoom and a few of its features.

Final thoughts on the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom

The ability to zoom with the camera of the Mavic 2 Zoom adds in a new flavor of excitement to an already exciting drone. The aerobatics of the DJI’s latest entry to the Mavic lineup is impressive for any drone. Especially one marketed as a “consumer grade” aircraft.

With a camera capable of all sorts of high-end feats of imagery, it’s hard to draw the line between consumer and professional performance. From the Intelligent Flight features to the increased flight time and speed, refined obstacle avoidance system and compact form factor, the Mavic 2 Zoom is very much a welcome breath of fresh air to the aerial photography and videography community. Not only does it produce excellent still images and video, but the overall experience of operating this little aircraft is an absolutely enjoyable experience.

Have you used the Mavic 2 Zoom yet? Let us know in the comments how you like it and how it compares to any other drones you might have piloted.


review of the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom Drone

The post Review: DJI Mavic 2 Zoom appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Adam Welch.

Manfrotto Super Clamp: More than a Tripod Alternative

The post Manfrotto Super Clamp: More than a Tripod Alternative appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Joey J.

As a cityscape enthusiast photographer primarily shooting long exposures at blue hour (twilight and dusk), tripods are something I can’t live without. That said, we occasionally come across places where a full-size tripod is prohibited or there is no appropriate space to set one up.

In such situations, I used to rely on a mini tripod like Gorillapod (I own the “5K Stand”, their top end model with a load capacity of 5kg). However, mini tripods are a bit shaky and don’t always hold the camera weight too well. This is especially problematic when using it for long exposures, where the images end up with somewhat “soft” (i.e., not sharp enough).

How to set the Super Clamp up

LEFT: Plug a camera mounting platform adapter into a Super Clamp socket and secure it with a double-lock system. RIGHT: Mount a tripod head with the camera on the mounting platform adapter, just like you do with your regular tripod.

This is where a clamp tripod like Manfrotto Super Clamp comes in very handy. I own the Manfrotto 035 Super Clamp without the Stud and use it with the separately-sold Manfrotto 208HEX 3/8-Inch Camera Mounting Platform Adapter, as described below.

Avoid standard stud

By the way, Manfrotto also has a Super Clamp that comes with a so-called standard stud (Manfrotto 035RL Super Clamp with 2908 Standard Stud), but I recommend avoiding it because the standard stud is a bit too long. Thus, the tripod head sits about an inch out of the clamp, making the setup vulnerable for heavier camera/lens combos.

Besides, the standard stud only comes with 1/4″ screw. If your tripod head uses 3/8″ screw (most tripod heads do), you’ll need a screw adapter to convert 1/4″ screw into 3/8″ in order to screw your tripod head in.

LEFT: The Super Clamp with the standard stud inserted (a silver screw adapter is attached to convert the default 1/4″ screw into 3/8″). RIGHT: Due to the standard stud being too long, a tripod head doesn’t sit flush with the Super Clamp, leaving the camera setup rather unstable.

Reversible Short Stud

Therefore, I recommend photographers get the aforementioned Manfrotto 208HEX 3/8-Inch Camera Mounting Platform Adapter, or opt for Manfrotto 037 Reversible Short Stud (cheaper alternative). In fact, this reversible short stud is handy as it comes with both 1/4″ and 3/8″ screws. Like the mounting platform adapter, this short stud also allows a tripod head to sit flush with the Super Clamp, giving much better stability to mount a camera.

LEFT: The reversible short stud comes with both 3/8″ (top) and 1/4″ (bottom) screws. RIGHT: The reversible short stud fits perfectly into the Super Clamp (3/8″ screw on top).

With the short stud used, a tripod head sits flush with the Super Clamp. This setup can be as strong as the Super Clamp + Manfrotto 208HEX 3/8-Inch Camera Mounting Platform Adapter mentioned earlier.

Super Clamp in action

Note that a clamp tripod cannot be used anywhere you like, as it needs a rail or something similiar to be clamped onto. However, where possible, this setup is rock solid (with a load capacity of whopping 15kg), and the resulting long exposure photos are appreciably sharper than those photographed using a mini tripod or even a regular tripod.

Clamping onto a road railing.

Here we have clamping onto a thick tempered glass (clamping from the top).

You can also clamp onto things like a footbridge railing (by using short stud, instead of camera mounting platform adapter).

In addition, a clamp tripod also comes in handy at crowded photography spots that attract a lot of tourists. Setting a regular tripod up at such locations takes space on the ground and always has a risk of someone accidentally kicking tripod legs. It’ll be a catastrophe if that happens in the midst of a long exposure. With a clamp tripod that takes no space on the ground, there is no such worry.


I hope this post helps you consider a clamp tripod as a tripod alternative. Indeed, Super Clamp is like a game changer and more than just a mere alternative to a mini tripod, etc. Last but not least, be extra vigilant and tighten wherever must be tightened when using a clamp tripod somewhere high up. If the camera or any part is dropped, it could seriously injure people or break your gear.


Manfrotto Super Clamp

The post Manfrotto Super Clamp: More than a Tripod Alternative appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Joey J.

Which Crop Sensor Sony a6000 Series Camera Should You Buy?

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

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

Sony a6000-Which Camera-01


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

What’s the same

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

Still photography differences

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

ISO performance

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

Sony a6000-Which Camera-02

Sony a6300 shot at ISO 3200

Autofocus Points

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

Silent Shooting

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

Video Features

Which camera should you buy?

Best for beginner photographers on a budget

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

Sony a6000-Which Camera-02

Best for intermediate photographers or budding videographers

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

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

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

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

Best for intermediate photographers or advanced videographers

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

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

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

Sony a6000-Which Camera-01

Best for Vloggers or pro videographers

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

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

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

Sony a6000-Which Camera-04

No matter which camera you choose…

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

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

Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Sport Review

The post Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Sport Review appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Anabel DFlux.

Sigma has made a significant name for itself via its famous ART line of lenses. But did you know Sigma also has a Sport line? Lesser known than the ART lenses, the Sport lenses are the incredible workhorses of the photography world (and deserve recognition). The Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Sport (Canon and Nikon Mount) is the newest addition to the Sport line, featuring a loved focal length. A big contender in the telephoto field, this lens may just be the top dog you didn’t see coming.

This lens focal length is so splendid, that the Digital Photography School even has an article on why you need a 70-200mm lens!

Lens build


I have tried many different 70-200mm F/2.8 lenses in the past, and currently own the newest one from Canon’s L line. This version of a favorite millimeter stands out. Before we even get into the construction, I can tell you that this lens is not the heaviest by far as compared to other brands like Tamron, and Rokinon, and older versions of the Canon and Nikon. As someone who tends to shoot sporting events for a good 12 hours at a time, my back is bowing in thanks at the decreased weight. Weighing in at a teeny bit less than 4 pounds, this is by far a more useable weight. The lens size is customary for this focal range at 3.7 inches in diameter by 8.0 inches in length.


The body is constructed out of a clever mixture of a very durable form of plastic, metal, and a new compound known as TSC (short for Thermally Stable Composite). The lens feels durable, and I found it to be more shock resistant than many of my other lenses. The glass itself is a high-grade glass mixture – 24 Elements in 22 Groups. I like the tactile feel of the focus and zoom rings, and it is very comfortable to use.

Weather sealing

This lens is built to work, and as such, its weather sealing is incredible. I feel very confident taking this lens out for a spin in whatever situation I find myself in. With the recent rains and odd weather in Southern California, I was still able to take this lens out in ease at a local outdoor sporting event. The weather sealing is a testament to a highly effective dust and splash proof structure with special sealing at the mount connection, manual focus ring, zoom ring, and cover connection.

That said, do use your best judgment to determine whether the weather is good enough to go out and shoot or not… weather sealing is not equivalent to weatherproof! As for the glass, the forefront and rear lenses incorporate water and oil-repellent coating that allows water to be wiped away easily. It prevents oil and fat from sticking to the surface, even in challenging shooting conditions, making lens maintenance easy.

The only downside I find with the lens construction is that you cannot remove the customary tripod foot (that many 70-200mm lenses have). This lens is also still technically heavier than the latest Canon or Nikon versions, but I’d argue this is a fair trade for how shock resistant and durable it is.

Lens features

As is customary for the Sigma lenses, the Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Sport features a slew of unique and useful features. Before we even get into them, it is worth mentioning that at this time, this lens is available only in Sigma, Canon, and Nikon mount. Sigma does offer a mount conversion service in case you want your lens to fit onto a different camera brand.

Sigma has gone the extra step to make sure that the mechanics of their lenses work as well as Canon and Nikon native lenses. The Canon mount version is compatible with Canon’s internal chromatic aberration control, and the Nikon version works with Nikon’s electromagnetic diaphragm.

Focus range limiter switch

A nice added feature for any telephoto lens is the focus range limiter switch, which restricts the range of distance your lens can focus. I use this feature myself when I photograph dog agility shows to make sure that the lens doesn’t focus on any obstacles near me but remains locked on a running dog that is far away.

Hyper Sonic AF Motor (HSM)

As the name suggests, this lens uses HSM (Hyper Sonic AF Motor) for its focusing. HSM uses ultrasonic vibrations to drive the focusing group. This motor benefits an internal focusing system.

You can easily override the HSM for manual control via a finger switch on the lens. A feature that goes along with this aspect is the Manual Override (MO). With MO, a photographer can continue using autofocus as usual, before making any final manual adjustments using the focusing ring around the lens. The lens can focus as close as 1.2m away from the subject unless restricted by the focus limiter.

The lens comes with a locking lens hood, which is superb considering the number of times the hood on my other lenses go flying off because they get bumped! The lock is sturdy, but still very easy to use when you need to get the hood off in a flash.


With a sport and action lens like this one, strong autofocus is the key to success. I photograph a slew of canine athletes, and you’d be surprised how incredibly fast those small champion papillons are! Additionally, to ensure the dogs are not distracted by the sound of my camera or lens, quiet autofocus is pretty high up on my list of needs too.

Lucky for me – and anyone else interested in this telephoto model – the Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 checks all of these boxes. The HSM motor keeps the autofocus noise to a minimum or nonexistent, which allows me to get a wee bit closer to the dogs as they make their impressive jumps and leaps.

The autofocus is rather accurate – even on small moving subjects like an Italian greyhound dog, through to bigger canines such as the border collie. The lens allowed me to capture the agility competition with ease. The focus was very smooth too, with little focus hunting, even when the clouds took over and the location became quite dim. No manic focusing movements either, like I’ve experienced with Tamron’s equivalent of this lens last year at a tradeshow.

In comparison to my Canon 70-200mm F/2.8 L IS USM III lens, this one performed just as good, and I would certainly consider it as an additional.


Although zoom lenses may never be quite the same level of sharpness as fixed focal lengths, this one still performs brilliantly despite this fact. Sharpness and contrast are excellent, even when shooting wide-open, throughout the entire zoom range. Centre sharpness at 70mm is excellent and just fine at all other focal lengths. Corner sharpness is high at 70mm, but at 100mm and beyond, corner sharpness takes a significant downturn at larger apertures. If you want to get the entire frame sharp, you’ll probably have to switch over to F/11 or so. That said, this isn’t unusual for zoom lenses. The contrast it produces is also excellent.

Depth of field

The F/2.8 wide aperture gives a nice subject separation and bokeh (the out of focus areas in an image). The depth of field is creamy and smooth, and very pleasing to the eye. The 11 diaphragm blades help to keep bokeh looking natural.

There is some vignetting on the edges. Some people like this, others don’t. I enjoy the natural vignetting that is contrary to popular opinion, but for those that find it a nuisance, keep this in mind.

Image Stabilization

The image stabilization system in this particular 70-200mm is superb. This lens incorporates Intelligent OS, which is the latest algorithm to deliver image stabilization. The intelligent OS works horizontally, vertically, or diagonally – whatever direction your lens is being held or used. The mode can be adjusted by a switch on the side of the lens and has two modes from which to choose.

The optical stabilizer was effective up to four stops – fantastic for a telephoto lens. The panning stabilizer was equally impressive, allowing me to track my subjects with ease while handheld. I took this lens out for a swing at a local concert as well. The F/2.8 aperture paired with stabilization, allowed me to expose my shots quite well.

Flare resistance & chromatic aberration

The glass coating on this lens does a fine job decreasing flaring and ghosting – an annoying issue that plagues photographers when the light hits the lens at a bad angle. The chromatic aberration control is quite good as well, with the optical array comprising of 24 elements spread across 22 groups. This includes nine FLD pieces of glass and a single SLD lens, all of which are used to help control chromatic aberration.

The Canon mount versions of this lens also benefit from compatibility with a full set of in-camera corrections for lens aberrations (a big yippee for me as a Canon user).

Pros and Cons of the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG Sport


  • Durable, comfortable, solid lens build.
  • Superb weather sealing, as well as dust and moisture resistance.
  • Water and oil repellent coating on the glass.
  • The Canon mount version is compatible with Canon’s internal chromatic aberration control and the Nikon version is able to work with Nikon’s electromagnetic diaphragm.
  • Various switches built into the lens for professional use such as the focus limiter, modes, and image stabilization.
  • On the topic of image stabilization, the IS is superb.
  • HSM for quite and reliable autofocus.
  • The addition of an Manual Override mode for focus.
  • Locking lens hood.
  • Good flare and ghosting resistance.
  • Excellent chromatic aberration control.
  • Good center sharpness.
  • Very nice, creamy, natural bokeh.


  • Tripod foot cannot be removed.
  • Vignetting on the edges.
  • Sharpness suffers in the corners at 100mm and more.
  • Weight


At a price tag of US$1,500, while this may seem hefty to some, it’s actually much more affordable than equivalent lenses of this caliber. There is a lot of bang for your buck. Moreover, it’s a very worthwhile investment for those shooting outdoors or in questionable conditions, as this lens is built to be the perfect workhorse.

I genuinely loved this model. It was very easy to use for my athletic needs!

Have you used this lens? What are your thoughts? Please share in the comments below.

The post Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Sport Review appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Anabel DFlux.

Thoughts and Field Test: DJI Osmo Pocket

The post Thoughts and Field Test: DJI Osmo Pocket appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Suzi Pratt.

In December 2018, DJI released a revolutionary product: the Osmo Pocket.

DJI basically took the same camera sensor found in their popular Mavic Pro and Mavic Air drones and put it in the Osmo Pocket. The result is a tiny, pocket-sized camera that can capture high-quality 4K video and 12-megapixel still photos. Given the presence of the 3-axis gimbal, this camera is widely marketed as an ideal compact video camera. But how is it for still photography? Read on to learn more!

DJI Osmo Pocket

Video features

Standing at just about 4.8 inches (12.19 cm) tall and weighing 4 oz (113.4 g), the Osmo Pocket looks more like a toy than a camera. This makes it ultra stealthy. Despite its size, this camera comes packed with pro features. The tiny camera sits on a full 3-axis gimbal to give you stable video. You can shoot at up to 4K 60fps, remarkable for its 1/2.3-inch sensor. There are dual built-in microphones with noise canceling to capture high-quality audio.

The Osmo Pocket has many more video features including ActiveTrack to follow subjects, FaceTrack to automatically recognize faces, Slow Motion shooting, Timelapse and Motionlapse.

Photography features

Based on features alone, this is clearly a camera for those interested in shooting video. But there are notable features for still photography as well. The camera has a fixed lens of about 26mm (35mm format equivalent) and a fast f/2.0 aperture.

It also has panorama photo mode, which is brilliant on a camera with a built-in gimbal. When shooting a panorama, the camera automatically pans and shoots 4 images in sequence. This is much more accurate than precariously handholding your camera while panning or having to lug a tripod around. The only downside is that the camera won’t stitch the pan together automatically unless you shoot with a cell phone attached (more on this below).

DJI Osmo Pocket

Osmo Pocket LCD screen

A camera this tiny has its challenges, especially when it comes to seeing what you’re shooting. The built-in LCD screen is tiny and can be quite hard to see if you don’t have the best eyesight. I found it a challenge to not only compose my images but also to see if my shots were in focus. Luckily, DJI has a solution.

There’s a port next to the LCD to connect a smartphone via USB-C (or Lightning connector for iPhones). When using the free DJI Mimo app, a connected smartphone becomes an extension of the LCD screen.

This makes shooting with the Osmo Pocket an entirely different experience. It is much easier to compose your images and even unlock more photo and video features, such as stitching panoramas together automatically.

However, this makes the camera rig significantly bigger. It’s also much harder to shoot one-handed with a cell phone precariously attached to the Osmo Pocket via a USB-C connection.

Shooting with the Osmo Pocket

Using a camera this small is fun, but challenging. Its design is very different than cell phones or traditional cameras, so that can take some getting used to. When using the Osmo Pocket by itself, it is a one-handed device. There are just two buttons and a tiny touchscreen LCD that you swipe up and down to control the gimbal, and left and right to activate various features. Attaching the phone turns the Osmo Pocket into a two-handed camera, which can feel more ergonomic and natural.

When shooting with the smartphone, my instincts were to use the device as I would a smartphone camera. Instead, I had to use the DJI Mimo app, which has a very different interface than most smartphone apps. It also doesn’t let you zoom, and you instead have to physically move forward to zoom in.

Also, it was difficult to remember where my camera was. I usually shoot with my smartphone cameras on the left, and in this case, the Osmo Pocket camera is on the right since it is plugged into the phone’s USB-C port. This made composing images a challenge as I struggled to remember my main camera location.

DJI Osmo Pocket

Osmo Pocket photo quality

If you’ve shot photo or video with DJI drones, the photo quality that comes out of the Osmo Pocket is very similar. Colors are pretty natural, and the images are sharp (almost too sharp, depending on your taste). While the fixed lens is definitely not a macro, you can get reasonably close to your subject and capture photos with pretty good bokeh. Osmo Pocket is slow to focus (tap on the LCD to focus), which can be frustrating if you’re trying to shoot action.

Who’s this camera for?

Osmo Pocket isn’t aimed at a professional crowd, although it certainly could be used by a pro to capture B roll (supplemental footage). However, the size of this camera plus some of its limitations suggests that this is for casual camera users.

If you’re wanting to dabble in videography without investing in large and expensive camera stabilizers, the Osmo Pocket is a great option to consider. Keep in mind that it isn’t waterproof and definitely not a tough action camera like the GoPro; in fact, this camera is somewhat fragile given the loose nature of the gimbal.

DJI is slowly releasing accessories to add on to the Osmo Pocket such as 3.5mm external microphone adapter, mount, extension rod, and WiFi module. There are also polarizers and ND filters that you can get to mount to the front of the camera. These little accessories add to the cost of the already pricey camera and also point out some of the seemingly basic features that are missing from this camera.

Bottom line

If you want an ultra compact and stealthy camera for capturing smooth, high-quality video footage, the Osmo Pocket is a great option to consider. However, in most cases, this isn’t a do-all camera and is instead a supplemental device for capturing very specific footage.

Sample Photos

DJI Osmo Pocket

DJI Osmo Pocket

DJI Osmo Pocket

DJI Osmo Pocket

DJI Osmo Pocket

DJI Osmo Pocket

DJI Osmo Pocket

DJI Osmo Pocket

DJI Osmo Pocket


The post Thoughts and Field Test: DJI Osmo Pocket appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Suzi Pratt.

Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Lens Review

The post Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Lens Review appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kunal Malhotra.

The 24-70mm is undoubtedly one of the most desired lenses because of obvious reasons. The focal length range in a single lens enables you to capture multiple genres of photography such as street, landscape, portraits, and travel.

Recently, I got my hands on the Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Lens, and I have been using it for more than a month now. I also made a comparison with the Canon variant, which I talk about at the end along with sample images.

This lens is available in both Canon and Nikon mounts designed for FX and EF format cameras. It can also be mounted on DX/EF-S bodies.

Build quality and ergonomics

Talking about the construction of the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 G2, it consists of 17 elements in 12 groups and 9 rounded diaphragm blades. This lens has moisture-resistant construction, and the front element has fluorine coating which protects against dust, dirt, and smearing.

The moment I held the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 G2, my first impression was that this lens feels premium. With the new SP series, Tamron has revised the design of their professional lenses and made them more sturdy. The AF/MF and VC ON/OFF switches are of superior quality, and the rubber grips for focus and focal length adjustment feel comfortable.

One thing that impresses me on this Tamron lens is the placement of the focal length ring. I have been used to the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens which features the focal length ring placed near to the camera. Whereas, the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 G2 lens has it placed near to the front element. After using both the lenses, I feel that the focal length ring placement is much more user-friendly on the Tamron lens.

In regards to technology advancements, the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 G2 lens is compatible with TAP-in Console (to be purchased separately) for fine-tuning focus adjustments and also to update the lens firmware.

Focus speed and accuracy

The lens features an Ultrasonic Silent Drive auto-focus motor which is designed to provide quick and accurate focusing performance. After using the lens for a month, I feel the focus is precise and swift, even with fast moving subjects. As a street and travel photographer, my priority is to nail the focus, and this lens compliments my camera very well.

I also took the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 lens for a spin in low light conditions, and I was happy to see how fast it locked the focus. Even in continuous focus mode, it hardly hunted for focus. Overall, this lens is a charmer in the focus speed and accuracy department.

After using the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens for almost 3 years, the Tamron lens did not make me feel that I was using a slower lens. It was almost the same experience for me. With the closest focusing distance of 1.25ft or 15inches (same as the Canon variant), I was also able to shoot some close up shots.

Sharpness and Image Quality

There is one highlighting feature in this Tamron zoom lens which the Canon variant is missing, and that is VC (Vibration Compensation) or Image Stabilization. VC helps in minimizing the camera shake by up to 5 stops, which can be effective in low light conditions.

The VC on this lens helped me shoot at slower shutter speeds such as 1/10th -1/15th sec and lower ISO values without introducing shake in the images. Practically, I was able to achieve 3.5-4 stops of Image Stabilization performance with this lens, which I could not from my Canon variant.

Canon vs Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8

From f/2.8 to f/4 the Canon is slightly sharper at the center and has better contrast performance. But as I tested, these lenses at f/4 and narrower, both started generating similar results in terms of sharpness and contrast.

Overall, the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens scores better in terms of image quality. Whereas, for me, the Tamron is a winner considering its price-to-quality ratio and the build quality.

LEFT: Shot at 1/15th sec with VC OFF. RIGHT: Shot at 1/15th sec with VC ON


At a good price point, the Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Lens seems like a great choice for travel, street, wedding, and even landscape photography. The image quality is superior, and the focus speed and accuracy is spot on. If you are looking for a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens which is slightly cheaper than the Canon//Nikon variant but still performs very well, this could be an ideal choice.

The post Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Lens Review appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kunal Malhotra.

MIOPS Mobile RemotePlus Review – Taking Control of Your Camera in Ways a Cable Release Never Can

The post MIOPS Mobile RemotePlus Review – Taking Control of Your Camera in Ways a Cable Release Never Can appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Peter West Carey.

MIOPS Mobile RemotePlus is a handy device and app to help you take control of your camera in ways a simple cable release never can. Sleek and stylish, the unit sits on your camera’s hot shoe and can provide a variety of functions through the easy to configure app for iPhones or Android phones.

What is it?

The MIOPS Mobile RemotePlus has three main components:

  1. The remote trigger that sits on your camera’s hot shoe
  2. A release cable specific for your camera type
  3. The MIOPS Mobile app

The app works with the unit via Bluetooth, sending and receiving information constantly while in use. It is important to note that the unit can continue on its own, after being sent a command, if you close the app or you lose connection. So if you start a 500 image time-lapse, you can effectively let the unit continue working without babysitting it.

The RemotePlus will set your shutter speed for the various modes explained below, but you will still be in charge of ISO, Aperture, White Balance and any other setting you choose. Some RemotePlus modes work better with Manual mode on your camera while others, such as the Long Exposure Timelapse, will need Bulb mode.

Getting Started

After unpacking the RemotePlus, you’ll need to connect it to your camera’s remote port. This process is different for each camera. Hook the other end of the cable into the side port on the RemotePlus, which has both a receptacle to attach to a camera hot shoe and a standard tripod threaded hole.

The app can be downloaded from either Google Play or Apple Store.

The app has a demonstration mode if you want to download it before you buy the unit to see how easy it is to use.

You will need to register your device with MIOPS if you want to upgrade your firmware. After signing on, you will see a screen like this one:

Choosing the MobileRemote and the app will scan for nearby remotes:

Clicking on the only unit available brings up a full menu of options:

Whoa now! There’s a lot there to parse through, so let’s take them bit by bit.

What can it do?

Cable Release Modes – 6 Varieties

Let’s start with the basics.

While connected to your camera and smartphone, the RemotePlus functions as a shutter release for your camera in six modes:

Cable Release

This mode is straightforward and perfect for those who don’t want to stand with their camera while taking a photo. Pressing the large button on the screen (see below) will trigger the shutter in whatever mode you have set on the camera. For instance, this mode is great for sitting at a campfire while your camera is set to take photos nearby.

Press & Hold

Press & Hold take things up a notch and is perfect to use when you are waiting for some action. It’s the same as pressing and holding the shutter release on your camera in Bulb mode. The longer you press, the longer the exposure.

Results will vary with duration and here is one simple example of eight seconds on a freeway overpass.

Press & Lock

Don’t want to bother holding the button on your screen while waiting? Press & Lock is where it’s at. Same as above, but now you have to tap the main button on the screen a second time to stop the exposure. There is a timer shown at the bottom of the screen for your convenience.

Timed Release

Going one step further, if you know you want a 10-minute exposure, Timed Release is the correct mode for you. Just enter in the appropriate shutter release time on the screen, set your camera to Bulb mode while adjusting the ISO and Aperture to your liking. Once you press start, it’s all taken care of for you.

On the display are places for hours, minutes, seconds and decimals of a second. In this example, I chose 12 seconds for another overpass shot.

Self Timer and Timed Release & Self Timer

The Self Timer mode is just like the self-timer on your camera, but you can set the delay, up to 99 hours in the future.

Lastly, the Timed Release & Self Timer combines the last two sections to allow for a delay and then a long exposure.

In each of these modes the command is sent from the app and then stored in the unit, so you don’t need to be present or within range for the unit to take action.

Timelapse – 4 Main Varieties

While the RemotePlus will not create the final video file for you, it will greatly simplify your ability to create fun and unique timelapses in a few different modes. More information on compiling the timelapse can be found here on DPS.

Basic Timelapse

The Basic Timelapse mode will take care of all your simple timelapse needs. It’s there for you to point, focus, and create with ease.

On the first screen you set the interval between photos, and on the second, you set the number of photos you want to take. It’s that easy! Press Start and away your camera goes.

The two screenshots above show the app screen while the camera shoots. The circle around the interval counts down until the next shot, while the current frame and remaining time display on the bottom. Up top are the overall settings.

The app has a nice feature to help reduce accidental stops; you have to press the lock button before you can click on STOP. It’s possible to still stop the app on accident, but the extra step helps.

It’s up to you to set your camera on your preferred mode. Manual Mode with the White Balance set often gives the best results for consistent image quality.

Long Exposure Timelapse

Long Exposure Timelapse is where things become more complex but also more exciting as far as the results. Here you will again set the interval between shots and the number of shots, but you will also set your camera to Bulb mode and set the shutter speed in the app.

After pressing Start the screen will change, as with the Basic Timelapse, but now two countdown circles will appear.

These circles will show you the amount of time left in each interval and exposure.

You can use the Long Exposure Timelapse for a variety of subjects. Below are two examples I shot of the same subject, but with slightly different settings for varied effects.

The first had settings of ISO 100, f/7.1 and 1/100th (Standard Timelapse Mode) while the second had settings of ISO 100, f/22 and 1/5th (Long Exposure Timelapse Mode). The difference is apparent in how blurred motion from the cars can impart more motion.

Here are three more tests at 1/10th second shutter speed, .6 seconds and 1.2 seconds. All timing set from the app in Bulb Mode.

Bulb Ramping Timelapse

Bulb ramping is a manner of shooting while the lighting changes. This is most often performed at sunrise or sunset and can cover an extended period, such as an hour. While the camera is in Bulb Mode, the shutter speed is gradually adjusted to keep the overall exposure consistent, so the timelapse does not change from very dark to very bright.

It’s important here to understand some limits and to plan for them with this mode.

Most cameras are limited to 1/30th of a second in Bulb mode with a cable release. Check with your owner’s manual to see what limits Bulb Mode and using a cable release may put on your photography.

This mode also requires planning ahead to know – or at least make a good guess – which exposure settings to use at the start and end of the ramp. The ramp is linear in its progression, so you will need to choose a time of gradually increasing or decreasing light. If the sun suddenly shines brightly on your scene once above the horizon, but then ducks behind some clouds, the effect might be rather jolting.

To use this mode:

The Bulb Ramping mode has four settings.

The first is the interval between shots. The example below shows 30 seconds.

The second screen sets the shutter speed of the first image. Because I am using a Canon, I set it to 1/30th of a second above (the fastest Bulb will handle, even though the screen shows a decimal of .01, or 1/100th of a second).

The next screen is the final shutter speed. This is where math, planning and scouting help. You will need to calculate how long you want your bulb ramp to run, from start to finish, and know what the lighting will be at the start and finish. In this case, I picked 20 seconds for an end shutter speed (left, below).

The last screen asks for the number of frames to shoot. Here, it will shoot 60 frames, one every 30 seconds.

That will make for a total time of 30 minutes from start to finish. It’s important to plan ahead to make sure these shutter speeds will work for the given lighting. While you can adjust aperture and ISO to help compensate, if the end time of your timelapse is too long, your images will become blown out. Too short and you’ll be left in the dark.

Planning is crucial to this mode.

HDR Timelapse

An HDR Timelapse is the same as a normal timelapse, but the mode does all the shooting for you if your camera doesn’t have this ability built in. It can shoot a sequence of 3, 5 or 7 shots, for each step of the timelapse, but it does have the limitation mentioned in Bulb Ramping above; that you can not shoot faster than 1/30th of a second on most cameras. This does limit its abilities.

The brackets are set around a central time setting, such as one second (in the example below). Below that the exposure shift, in terms of EVs, is set, followed by the number of frames. The unit will keep you in check if you pick settings that won’t work with Bulb mode, such as choosing 1/15th of a second, seven frames and 2-stops of EV shift in each image.

Lastly, set the Interval between shots and the number of frames. If you don’t know the number of frames you want to shoot, simply pick the infinity setting and stop the sequence when you have enough.

More information on using bracketing can be found in this DPS article.

Road Lapse, A Special Kind Of Timelapse

Road Lapse is a fun tool to use, not only while driving but also on a train, boat, hot air balloon or anywhere else you have a GPS signal. The app uses that signal then asks you how often you want to take a photo, be it in feet or meters. You also set the number of photos or just set it to infinity which allows you to stop the Road Lapse when you are finished.

What’s different about this mode as compared to a standard timelapse is there is no perceived slowing and speeding, such as when a car comes to a stop sign. Because the mode is distance-based, a rough calculation can be made with regard to timelapse length when the driving distance is known.

For instance, one mile is 5280ft. If you set the device to shoot every 40ft, that will net you 132 images. At 30 frames-per-second, the timelapse would turn out to be 4.4 seconds long. It won’t matter if it takes you 60 seconds or 15 minutes to travel that distance, the video will be the same length.

It does make things appear sped up. In the examples below, the first shows a regular timelapse in a car at night. The second video shows the Road Lapse. In the second video I stopped at four different stoplights, but you don’t even notice them. I think each mode has its strengths and weaknesses and it matters what you want to create.

For a unique test, I set my camera up on a Washington State Ferry, shooting off the back with the distance set to 40ft.

HDR Bracketing

HDR shooting uses the same functionality as mentioned above with HDR Timelapse. You can take a series of shots, offset by specific stops and then combine them in the computer later for an image with more dynamic range than a single image.

It has the same limitations mentioned above.


The Sound Mode is triggered by sound and you can choose the threshold via the app.

You will set your camera’s exposure either on Manual or another mode of your choice and leave shutter release up to the MIOPS trigger. I made some attempts at dropping (fake) ice into a glass to catch the splash. You can stop any action that makes a loud enough noise in motion with this mode.

The mode can be set to take just one photo or continuous photos until the sound drops below the threshold. You can also input a delay. Activation of the shutter will happen from 10 milliseconds to 99 hours.

A better example can be seen in Erik Lindegren’s photo, highlighted on Miops’ Instagram feed.


Like Sound, Vibration relies on your phone to trigger the unit. And like Sound, you can set the sensitivity so small bumps won’t set off the unit, but large ones will.

Again, a delay can be set and continuous shooting can also be chosen.


Most lightning photos in the past were taken by leaving the shutter open for a length of time, maybe 30 seconds. The overall exposure was balanced for this and fingers were crossed, hoping for great bolts.

The problem with this method is shots during the day were difficult with long exposures without the use of a neutral density filter. Even then, a vast multitude of images had to be taken, and the frame had to be clear of other moving objects (trees, for instance) or they could blur.

The Lightning trigger simplifies capturing images and can offer better exposures of daylight and dusk images. Your camera will need to be in Manual Mode where you can set the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO to your liking. Compose the shot with anticipation of where the lightning will strike.

You will set the sensitivity, and that’s it. A higher sensitivity number means any small flash will trigger the unit, while a lower number means much more light (larger bolts) is needed.

Then press the “Go” button and sit back to enjoy the show while your camera does all the work.

As luck would have it, a thunderstorm rolled by in the distance while I had the unit for testing. The lightning was about 10-12 miles away, and I ended up using a 10-22mm lens, with some cropping for the final images. All images shot at ISO 800, f/5, 1.3 second and 22mm.

TIP: If you are curious about where the lightning is striking and which way a storm is moving, check out for real-time updates. While watching this storm, I found the delay from the time of strike to it showing up on the map was about 5 seconds. Often the map would update before the thunder made it to me.


Switching to Motion requires the use of your phone as the ultimate trigger. You can make the settings for your camera manually, or in any mode you desire, while the shutter will trigger when the view from your phone’s camera notices motion.

The advantage here is that the phone can be set up remotely from the camera (within Bluetooth range, however) and made to cover a specific area.

In this example, I set my camera on a tripod with a long lens to capture birds coming to my bird feeder. I prefocused on the feeder and then moved the field of view just off to the side. I then switched to manual focus to lock focus.

I set the camera with a fast shutter speed and the ISO with a shallow aperture so I could capture the fast movement of the birds (ISO 1250, f/7.1, 1/1250th). I then set up my phone with an adjustable, gripping tripod, on top of the feeder, looking down. The field of view of the phone would cover the side of the feeder, where my camera was focused.

That’s the view on the phone screen while setting up the shot. As you can see, much like other modes, you can set a delay after the app notices movement (handy if you put the phone somewhere on the approach to your camera) and the number of frames the camera will snap each time.

Below the screen is the Accuracy Rating. Moving it left means any little movement will set off the unit while moving it right requires a lot of movement before triggering.

The results, as you can see, were easy to capture while I sat inside enjoying the action.

If the rains hadn’t started, I would have captured more. While I could have taken the shots above manually, more birds showed up when I went inside and let the camera do its thing. For skittish subjects, the RemotePlus is a definite benefit.

You can use Motion in this manner for any number of moving subjects where their path is predictable. It will be a drain on your phone’s battery, though, as the camera and screen are on the whole time.


The Laser trigger mode is handy if you have a laser and expect the beam to be broken at a precise location. You will need a laser source, but just about any constant-on laser can be used, such as a presentation pointer or even a laser level.

Point the laser at the sensor on the front of the RemotePlus, and set your camera’s focus and mode accordingly. It’s similar to the motion feature above, but a bit more specialized for more precision.


This review was harder than I believed it would be because of the number of features packed into the small unit. Also, during the review, I had access to MIOPS staff for questions and found them not only responsive to feedback but updating the app as I wrote. In a company and product, I like to see that nimbleness and desire to improve.

After the testing I put the Miops Mobile RemotePlus through, I would purchase one for my own photography. While it had some room for improvement (the manual sometimes lags behind the quick pace of upgrades, and the Motion feature does have a limit when it comes to Bluetooth connectivity, but that is inherent in the protocol.), I do enjoy updates of the unit, both software and firmware, regularly.

The two big plusses for me are the timelapse features (including the HDR one in specific cases) which add timing capabilities that my current Canon intervalometer lacks, and the lightning shooting, especially for daytime shots.


Disclaimer: MIOPS is a paid partner of dPS

The post MIOPS Mobile RemotePlus Review – Taking Control of Your Camera in Ways a Cable Release Never Can appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Peter West Carey.

Sony FE 135mm F/1.8 GM Lens Review

The post Sony FE 135mm F/1.8 GM Lens Review appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Anabel DFlux.

Sony is here to turn your photography world upside down with its absolutely incredible technology and equipment. A name that is now leading much of the industry, Sony’s G-Master series of lenses have become big contenders in the photography game. As such, Sony has released approximately 30 G-Master lenses for their full-frame cameras. The newest addition to the collection is the Sony FE 135mm F/1.8 GM lens, which is now arguably the sharpest lens in the collection! I had the pleasure of testing this lens out fully at the Wedding and Portrait Photographers International (WPPI) show in Las Vegas late last month before the lens is even released to the public.

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Image courtesy of Sony

To get the basics out of the way, the Sony FE 135mm F/1.8 GM is intended for full-frame cameras and is only mountable on the E-mount cameras. This lens has similar specifications to the other lenses in the G-Master line such as the Sony patented XD linear motor, Super ED glass, and Sony Nano AR (all of which we will get into later).

My primary experience with this lens was taking it for a test run at the WPPI convention in Las Vegas at the end of February and it was a pleasure to try it out before the general public.

Lens build

Upon first glance, I was immediately smitten with the aesthetic of this lens. Clean, sharp, and a beautiful black – this lens looks phenomenal (as even noted by a few of my photography clients). This lens measures at about 3 5/8th inches long and 5 inches tall, and is a very decent and comfortable size for its focal length – even when held by someone like me (small hands, yikes). The lens isn’t very heavy either, clocking in at only 33 ounces (2 pounds).

For a master telephoto lens, this one is quite easy to take on travels! Comprised of magnesium alloy, the lens is lightweight yet durable. The build feels incredibly solid, and I would not hesitate to bring it to difficult or uncomfortable shooting situations such as live concerts or the beach on a windy day. The lens is rather wide, which may be a downside to some, however, you must keep physics in mind. The lens must be wide to accommodate the F/1.8 aperture.

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Image courtesy of Sony

The Sony FE 135mm F/1.8 GM features excellent weather sealing to help prevent wind, rain, dust, and dirt from entering important mechanical components. Alongside this, the lens is touted to be dust and moisture resistant. The lens glass has a pretty impressive build in its own right too. The glass has a fluorine coating on it to resist fingerprints, dust, water, oil, and other contaminants. If these do end up on the lens, cleaning is easy. That said, I do still suggest purchasing a glass filter – being resistant to fingerprints is not beneficial to dropping or a significant bump!

Aperture ring & additional lens features

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Image courtesy of Sony

All of the buttons on this lens made me a very happy photographer. Designed with professionals in mind, this lens features manual buttons and features such as the aperture ring, an aperture ring silencer, the focus range limiter switch, custom focus hold buttons, and an AF to MF finger switch.

As an avid Canon DSLR and EF lens user who had recently added a Sony mirrorless to the collection, the aperture ring was something a bit new to me. Intended to be beneficial during cinema work, instead of adjusting the aperture on the camera body, you have the option of adjusting its width on the lens. This ring can be adjusted to either be silent or make little clicks to indicate it is turning – very useful for silent shooting. For those that prefer to adjust the aperture on the camera body itself, you can set the dial ring to ‘A’ for automatic.

The focus ring features Linear Response MF, which gives you instantaneous and sensitive response (a big bonus if you’re brave enough to use manual focus to capture something that moves)!

A nice added feature to the Sony GM 135mm F/1.8 is the focus range limiter switch which restricts the range of distance your lens can focus. I use this feature myself when I photograph dog agility shows to ensure the lens doesn’t focus on any obstacles near me but remains locked on a running dog that is far away.

Alongside this, the lens also has customizable focus hold buttons on the side and top which let you control focus via buttons on the lens rather than just the camera. Extremely useful in low light situations where lenses tend to naturally ‘hunt’ for focus.


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Where the Sony line particularly shines in the mirrorless game (if not the camera game as a whole) is in its Autofocus. For many of their mirrorless cameras, advanced algorithms provide high AF precision, and infrared technology allows autofocus to be achieved even in extremely low or difficult lighting situations. As well, various autofocus features such as “Eye Tracking” makes these kits superb pieces of machinery. Pair this with the autofocus of the lens, and you have a masterpiece.

This lens has two unique actuators called Extreme Dynamic (XD) Linear motors. These motors not only silence the autofocus but also allow the lens to focus significantly faster than many other motors.

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The autofocus is speedy and constant. I can attest to this as a sports photographer. When continuous autofocus is enabled in the camera, the lens holds onto the subject of your choosing like its life depends on it. The lens won’t hunt very much (if at all) and can keep following even a spontaneously and erratically moving subject.

When I took this lens out for a spin at WPPI, I can attest that the focus was incredibly fast and sharp, and was able to follow a human subject throughout the entire range of movement, regardless of the obstacles in front or behind. Even when the subject walked into a crowd of people, the lens was able to figure out who I was photographing.


The sharpest lens in the G-Master lineup. Hands down. A bold statement, but I stand by it!

For most lenses, they are only very sharp in the center. Sony GM 135mm F/1.8 is sharp everywhere. From the corners to the center, allowing you the versatility of any composition under the sun.

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The sharpness is also very consistent from shot to shot. I have had many instances in which I capture a sequence in a portrait and only the first or second shot is very sharp and the rest drop off a bit. Of course, to most photo viewers, this discrepancy isn’t very noticeable. However, the photographer’s eye can see it glaringly.

Another big bonus is that this lens does not have a vignette, which can be a common problem with wide apertures.

There is absolutely no reason to add sharpening in post-processing either.

The clarity and colors this lens produces are impressive. I found the images required significantly less retouching too.

Depth of Field

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Image courtesy of Sony

“Wide aperture” is my favorite phrase to hear. Truly. My photographic aesthetic dwells heavily on shallow depth of field. With my work as a concert photographer, the low light capability brought forth by wide apertures is a must-have. The F/1.8 aperture of this lens is terrific (although my obsession with my Canon 50mm F/1.2 L lens makes me wish this lens was an F/1.2). Even if you’re not one to shoot shallow, my rule of thumb is to always invest in lenses with a lower aperture number, so you have the option to shoot at all ranges.

The bokeh produced by this model is right on par with Sony’s unique look to out of focus areas. This is thanks to the unique lens build. To start, the XA element in the glass is developed using an exclusive glass molding process which makes it smoother than conventional aspherical lenses. Conventional lenses are rougher, which can cause rings to appear on your shallow depth of field (a pain to Photoshop out, though Gaussian Blur can do the trick if you mask it right). Secondly, Sony’s camera system aids in creating effortless-looking subject isolation. Third and final, the 11 circular aperture blades inside of the lens create a circular bokeh that maintains its shape no matter what.

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Image courtesy of Sony

I find the depth of field (DOF) looks more dreamy and a bit artificial from other similar lenses, but it has an authenticity and liveliness to it. The shallow DOF has a subtle, calmer rotation that creates a very natural look to the images (or in the least, as natural as this shallow of a field can be).

Pair that with the fact that this lens has a focal length of 135mm and you have some great subject separation. There is a typically unmentioned benefit to telephotos used for portraits. Because of the length of this lens, there is a nice separation of subject from the background and foreground. This happens because of the compression inside the lens.

Flare resistance

As someone who photographs live concerts often, I find that flare resistance is an important factor in deciding whether to purchase a lens or not. Although some prefer the stylistic look, many of my music clients don’t want an image that is heavily washed out by colored light and lacks contrast. Flare resistance tends to stem from the glass coating of lenses, and some are better resistant than others.

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Lucky for all of us, Sony’s patented Nano AR Coating is applied to reduce flare. Most of the time you can just shoot directly into the sun and you will neither have problems with a huge loss of contrast nor ghosting. This is brilliant for natural light photographers, especially during the beloved golden hour.

As previously mentioned, my primary experience with this lens was at the WPPI convention. Despite the lighting conditions being very difficult in the convention center, this lens outperformed many of the other lenses that I had tested on the same week- notably the flare resistance and overall quality. There was no real issue with the glaring back lights on any subject I had photographed.

Chromatic aberration

Chromatic aberration, also known as ‘color fringing’ or ‘purple fringing,’ is a common optical problem that occurs when a lens is either unable to bring all wavelengths of color to the same focal plane, or when wavelengths of color are focused at different positions in the focal plane. This issue plagues fast lenses the most, as the shallow depth of field tends to bring the optical problem forth. With this lens being an F/1.8, many are concerned about fringing issues in backlit portraits (when the light source is behind the subject).

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Sony’s Super ED element reduces chromatic aberration. Some aberration does exist – it isn’t foolproof – but luckily this issue tends only to affect the off-center portions of the frame. They are very minor in comparison to similar lenses and is easy to remove in post-processing programs such as Lightroom or Photoshop.

In comparison to my other Sony lenses, this one has the least chromatic aberration (as I found my 85mm was plagued with it, unfortunately). However, the Canon L lenses I have seem to have significantly less chromatic aberration all around.

Pros and Cons of the Sony FE 135mm F/1.8 GM Lens

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  • Wide aperture at F/1.8.
  • Professional lens build.
  • Lighter than most alternatives.
  • Very accurate autofocus, especially paired with the mirrorless autofocus system.
  • Sharp throughout the entire frame, not just the center.
  • Silent autofocus due to the XD linear motor.
  • Convenient features physically built into the lens, such as the aperture ring, an aperture ring silencer, the focus range limiter switch, custom focus hold buttons, and an AF to MF finger switch.
  • Weather sealing and dust resistance.
  • Flaring and ghosting resistance Sony Nano AR coating on the glass.
  • Reduced chromatic aberration due to Super ED element.


  • Pricey investment.
  • The lens is quite wide in physical build. Understandable for the wide aperture.  


This lens is a bit of a hefty financial investment, clocking in at about $1,900. However, considering the build quality, features, and incredible final output, I’d consider the value of this lens to be worth its asking price. I am also predicting that the lens will not depreciate much overtime.

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In conclusion, this lens is a stunner in its own right. For those that find a use for the 135mm (like myself), I’d go as far as to say this may be a must-have on the mirrorless list.

We had a fun jest at the WPPI show stating that you can just purchase the 24mm G-Master, 85mm G-Master, and this 135mm G-Master lens and that’s all you need for your kit! Arguably the absolute sharpest lens in the lineup, the 135mm is worth every penny for the immense amount of features included in this great lens.

The post Sony FE 135mm F/1.8 GM Lens Review appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Anabel DFlux.

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