Best Fujifilm X-Series Kit for Urban Portraits

The post Best Fujifilm X-Series Kit for Urban Portraits appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Matt Murray.


With a range of feature-packed cameras that are fun to use, and a line of stunning lenses, a Fujifilm X-Series kit is the ideal companion for urban portrait shoots.

I have been shooting with the X-Series for four years and love the system and the results I get from it. However, with so many good options available, one problem you may have is choosing a lens or kit to shoot with!

In this guide, I discuss what you need to consider when choosing a lens for a shoot, and a list of my favorite Fujifilm lenses for shooting urban portraits.

Advantages of using a Fujifilm X-Series Kit

There are a few key advantages that the Fujifilm X-Series has for urban portrait shoots. Being a mirrorless system, it’s generally smaller and lighter than DSLR kits. In practice, though, my camera bag probably isn’t much lighter because I usually fill it with more of the excellent Fujinon lenses.

Image: Fujifilm’s X-Series is ideal for urban portrait shoots for so many reasons.

Fujifilm’s X-Series is ideal for urban portrait shoots for so many reasons.

Excellent ergonomics and usability is a hallmark of the system. I love that I can change aperture on the lens instead of via a menu – in fact, I could never move back to a system where I have to change aperture via a menu now. The camera bodies feature shutter speed and ISO dials on top of the camera, so you have all the elements of the exposure triangle at your fingertips without a menu in sight.

Live view is another feature I couldn’t live without – it’s amazing seeing what your exposure will look like before pressing the shutter button. This is particularly useful in low light situations that you often encounter in urban shoots. Another dial on top of the camera is exposure compensation – you can easily adjust the exposure as you look through the viewfinder, which is perfect for the way I shoot.


Using live view on my Fujifilm X-T3, I could see exactly what adding extra exposure compensation would do when photographing Anne.

Another big advantage of Fujifilm cameras is their stunning color rendition – the best of any digital camera manufacturer. Fujifilm has used their decades of knowledge to produce JPG simulations that bear the names of class film emulsions: Provia, Astia, and Velvia, to name three.

The images in this article are JPGs (Provia simulation) with only small edits made in Adobe Lightroom. You can, of course, shoot in RAW alongside JPG and add your own looks or presets in post-production.

Camera bodies

I prefer to take two camera bodies with me on my shoots: the Fujifilm X-T3 and X-T2.

You can pretty much substitute any of the excellent X-Series lineups into your urban portrait kit, from the X-T series I use to the X-Pro line and the X-E line. I’ve even shot urban portraits with the X100 line of fixed-lens compact cameras.

If you only have one camera body, that is workable – you just need to be careful if you plan on changing lenses in urban environments to minimize the possibility of dust ending up on your sensor. The last thing you want on your mind during a shoot is the feeling of dread that you just let a whole lot of dust bunnies inside your camera.

Image: Choosing a lens for an urban portrait shoot is a balancing act between a focal length that fl...

Choosing a lens for an urban portrait shoot is a balancing act between a focal length that flatters your subject, but still allows you to be close. This image of Bailey was taken with a Fujinon 23mm f1.4 lens.

Lenses for urban portraits

The Fujifilm X-Series boasts a stunning range of superb lenses, with more being added every year. Fujifilm regularly updates a lens road map to let photographers know what new additions are coming. Portrait shooters have many fast primes available to them, as well as weather-resistant primes and a fantastic range of zoom lenses.

When choosing a lens for a shoot, I consider the following things:

Focal length

How flattering is this focal length for portrait photography? The images should flatter your client or model and make them look amazing.

Working distance

What’s the practical working distance of your lens? Ideally, for urban portraits, it’s good to have a lens choice that flatters your client for portraits, but without you being too far away. For me, this rules out some options such as the Fujinon XF 90mm F2 R LM WR lens.


In low light, I often find myself shooting at, or close to, the maximum aperture of the lens (the smallest number). In this image of Natasha, I was using the Fujinon 56mm f1.2 lens at f1.6.

Maximum aperture

The maximum aperture of the lens determines how wide it can open. The smaller the number, the ‘faster’ the lens is, allowing you to take images at high shutter speeds in lower light. ‘Slower’ lenses will not be able to shoot at the same shutter speeds unless you crank up the ISO, which can affect image quality.

During the middle of the day, this may not be important, but with less light after the sun goes down, fast lenses are important for sharp images and to keep the ISO lower. The X-series lineup has a range of very fast prime lenses with many maximum apertures at F1.4 and even F1.2.

Weather resistance

If planning a shoot in the rain or snow, a weather-resistant lens and body are a must. This is generally something I don’t need to think about – if it does start raining during a shoot, I usually move to an undercover location. Usually, clients don’t want their hair, makeup, and outfits ruined by a downpour.

Listed below are my choices for urban portrait lenses.

Fujinon XF 35mm F1.4 R


I love this lens – there is real magic to it. It’s my number one choice for urban portraits. The XF 35mm F1.4 is the closest Fujifilm has to the full-frame equivalent angle of view of 50mm – a classic focal length used by photographers for decades.

One of the three original lenses in the X-Series lineup, it has a fast maximum aperture of F1.4, making it perfect for images with a shallow depth of field and night shooting.

Featuring stunning optics and pleasing bokeh, this lens gives you a relatively short working distance for portraits. Best of all, it’s a lot cheaper than most of the other lenses in this guide.


I love this shot – so much fun! Alyssa in a phone booth, Brisbane, Australia.


The 35mm F1.4 lens has a magic quality. I love that the lens is flattering for clients, yet it allows you to get quite close to them while shooting.

Fujinon XF 16mm F1.4 R WR


The next choice on my list is arguably one of the best lenses Fujifilm has ever produced – the stunning Fujinon XF 16mm F1.4 lens.

With a full-frame equivalent of 24mm, you may think this is an odd choice for a portrait session, but it’s a perfect lens for wide-angle environmental shots. With a minimum focus distance of just 15cm, this lens is the perfect option when working in confined spaces.

The excellent build quality of the lens is also matched by its stunning optics. Although any distortion is corrected in-body by the camera, you still need to be careful when shooting with it. Place your model or client towards the center of the frame for the best results.

Image: Sasha sitting on beer kegs in a Brisbane laneway. There wasn’t much room in the laneway...

Sasha sitting on beer kegs in a Brisbane laneway. There wasn’t much room in the laneway, so the 16mm F1.4 was a perfect choice for this shot.

Image: The short working distance and wide angle-of-view enabled me to take this image of Natasha in...

The short working distance and wide angle-of-view enabled me to take this image of Natasha in front of some metal shutters.


Fujinon XF 56mm F1.2 R


The XF 56mm F1.2 R lens is perhaps the jewel in the crown of the X-Series lineup. Stunning image quality and beautiful bokeh make it a winner in anyone’s book.

This is the lens that all Fujifilm portrait photographers either have in their kit or on their wishlist. With a full-frame equivalent of around 85mm, it is substantially lighter than full-frame equivalent lenses for DSLRs. It boasts a super-fast F1.2 maximum aperture, is tack sharp, and has the most pleasing bokeh in the X-Series lineup.

For portrait work, this lens is fantastic. Just bear in mind that in urban environments, it’s not always a suitable choice, as you need a greater working distance when using this lens.


Sasha in Brisbane, Australia. I love how sharp she looks in this frame, and how the out-of-focus lights have rendered in the background.

Image: Natasha in a laneway, Brisbane. With a bit more working distance, full-length portraits are a...

Natasha in a laneway, Brisbane. With a bit more working distance, full-length portraits are also possible with this lens.


Fujinon XF 60mm F2.4 R Macro

Best Fujifilm X-Series Kit for Urban Portraits

Perhaps the most underrated lens in the entire Fujifilm line up, the XF 60mm F2.4 R Macro, was another of the original three lenses released for the system. It had a reputation for being slow to focus, but improvements to the firmware for this lens have made a big difference. I have no hesitation in using it on shoots.

Although it has the word macro in its name, the lens can only shoot at a 1:2 magnification ratio. (Generally, a 1:1 magnification ratio is regarded as true macro.) With a maximum aperture of F2.4, it’s not as fast as other lenses in this article, but the lens still provides excellent image quality and has a very good bang for your buck.

Image: Alyssa at dusk, Brisbane. The XF 60mm F2.4 is an excellent option if the XF56mm F1.2 is out o...

Alyssa at dusk, Brisbane. The XF 60mm F2.4 is an excellent option if the XF56mm F1.2 is out of your budget.



Alyssa in Brisbane. The XF 60mm F2.4 is stunningly sharp.


Fujinon XF 23mm F1.4 R

Best Fujifilm X-Series Kit for Urban Portraits

The Fujinon XF 23mm F1.4 R is another lens often mentioned as the best in the X-Series lineup. With the 1.5 crop factor, it’s Fujifilm’s closest lens to the traditional full-frame 35mm angle of view. This angle of view makes it perhaps the most versatile lens in the lineup for any given range of shooting scenarios – a big plus.

Another fast lens with a maximum aperture of F1.4, the lens is optically stunning and produces sharp images and beautiful bokeh.

Although I love this lens, I often leave it at home and take along the XF 16mm 1.4 and the XF 35mm 1.4 instead. However, it still deserves a place in this guide as it’s an excellent choice for urban portrait shoots.

Image: Bailey, Cleveland, Australia. The XF 23mm F1.4 lens is super-sharp and produces beautiful bok...

Bailey, Cleveland, Australia. The XF 23mm F1.4 lens is super-sharp and produces beautiful bokeh.


Bailey, Raby Bay Harbour, Australia. It was quite dark when I took this shot, but with a higher ISO and some exposure compensation, Bailey looks fantastic – as do the pretty lights in the background.



The Fujifilm X-Series lineup is ideal for shooting urban portraits. The range features a range of compact, feature-packed camera bodies, along with optically stunning fast prime lenses.

Although you could invest some serious money in this system, there are many excellent value-for-money options, including the X-E line of camera bodies, as well as the X-T30 and the X-T20. In terms of lens choices, two of the original X-Series lineup – the XF 35mm F1.4 and XF 60mm F2.4 lenses – represent excellent value for money, blowing the competitor’s budget lenses out of the water in terms of quality.

If you have a bigger budget, also consider the X-T3, the new X-Pro 3, and the excellent XF 16mm F1.4, XF 23 1.4, and XF 56mm 1.2 lenses.

I’ve been using the system for four years and love the images the system produces straight out of the camera, thanks to the magic of Fujifilm’s JPG film simulations. The beautiful rendering of colors makes post-processing work a breeze.

What Fujifilm X-Series camera bodies and lenses do you use for urban portrait shoots? Let us know in the comments below.



The post Best Fujifilm X-Series Kit for Urban Portraits appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Matt Murray.

The Canon 1D X Mark III Will Debut With 20 FPS and Enhanced Autofocus

The post The Canon 1D X Mark III Will Debut With 20 FPS and Enhanced Autofocus appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.


Canon-1D-X-Mark-III-debutJust last week, Canon announced the long-awaited 1D X Mark III, a flagship DSLR tailored to action and wildlife photographers. The new camera comes as a successor to the Canon 1D X Mark II, which set the tone for sports photographers everywhere.

But what can you expect from the Canon 1D X Mark III? Is it a camera worth purchasing?

First, the Canon 1D X Mark III is a professional action photographer’s camera. So while it will undoubtedly offer the latest and greatest technology, this will come at a price that most enthusiast photographers will be unwilling to pay. The Canon 1D X Mark II debuted at an MSRP of $5999, so you can expect something similar (if not more) for the Canon 1D X Mark III.

That said, for those who can afford it, the Canon 1D X Mark III is looking to be one of the best action cameras money can buy. Let’s check out its specifications:


According to the Canon press release, the 1D X Mark III will offer incredible autofocus capabilities. This includes “exceptional precision, reliability, high-performance…and subject tracking.” For any photographer who shoots moving subjects, the Canon 1D X Mark III’s tracking is bound to be better than any previous Canon DSLR.

And these capabilities extend into Live View, where the 1D X Mark III’s Dual Pixel autofocus features 525 AF areas for lightning-fast focusing and accuracy.

Of course, no action camera is complete without a high continuous shooting rate. Here, the Canon 1D X Mark III won’t disappoint; using the optical viewfinder, you can expect up to 16 frames per second of continuous shooting. In Live View, you can shoot up to an incredible 20 frames per second.

Also, the 1D X Mark III promises “more than five times the RAW burst depth of its predecessor,” thanks to a new DIGIC processor and dual CFexpress card slots. Considering the deep buffer of the 1D X Mark II, you can expect extraordinary capabilities that will please any action photographer.

Unfortunately, Canon has not yet announced the sensor details on the Canon 1D X Mark III. We don’t know its resolution (though rumors indicate it may be around 28 megapixels). However, Canon has announced the addition of the HEIF file format, which should allow for better colors and enhanced dynamic range over JPEGs.

Finally, the Canon 1D X Mark III is designed for high-speed transfers and flexibility in the field. The camera features Wi-Fi and Bluetooth LE, as well as a built-in Ethernet connection and an optional wireless file transmitter. This is a nice set of features for pros who need to quickly transfer photos.

There is currently no set release date for the Canon 1D X Mark III. However, you can expect it sometime before mid-2020, and possibly as early as February (if it mirrors the path of the Canon 1D X Mark II, which debuted in February of 2016).

That should give you plenty of time to decide if the camera is right for you.

What do you think about the Canon 1D X Mark III? Does it meet your expectations? Will you be purchasing it? Share your thoughts in the comments!

The post The Canon 1D X Mark III Will Debut With 20 FPS and Enhanced Autofocus appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Canon Reveals the RF 70-200mm f/2.8L and the RF 85mm f/1.2L DS Lenses

The post Canon Reveals the RF 70-200mm f/2.8L and the RF 85mm f/1.2L DS Lenses appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.


Canon-reveals-RF-lensesCanon has announced two new lenses for its mirrorless lineup:

The RF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM and the RF 85mm f/1.2L USM DS.

Let’s take a closer look:

The Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8L Lens


The Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8L offers a classic focal length that’s useful for pretty much everything.

You’ll find a 70-200mm in practically every landscape photographer’s bag for those tight shots that require a longer focal length. Portrait photographers like 70-200mm lenses for their headshot capabilities. Sports photographers love the focal length for powerful action shots. And event photographers appreciate the way a fast 70-200mm zoom lets them shoot without getting in the way.

Up until now, Canon hasn’t produced a lens in this focal length range, unless you count the RF 24-240mm, which is nowhere near as fast as the RF 70-200mm f/2.8L, nor does it have the ‘L’ lens designation. Therefore, many of Canon’s serious mirrorless shooters will jump at the chance to add such a powerful lens to their bags.

Note that the RF 70-200mm f/2.8L seems specially designed for low-light shooters: A combination of an ultra-wide f/2.8 aperture and Canon’s image stabilization technology makes this a formidable piece of kit for any low-light shooting scenario.

The Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8L will debut in November 2019 for $2699 USD.

The Canon RF 85mm f/1.2L USM DS Lens


Canon already offers an RF 85mm f/1.2L lens, so what makes this lens stand apart?

The new RF 85mm lens is designed with a brand new DS coating, known as Defocus Smoothing. The DS coating promises a smoother bokeh effect when shooting at wide apertures by darkening the edges of lens elements. While this serves to create a beautiful background quality, it also decreases light transmittance, so you do lose a bit of the light-gathering capabilities that you generally expect from an f/1.2 lens.

That said, the RF 85mm f/1.2L DS is bound to be appreciated by portrait photographers. With the DS coating, you’ll be able to capture some of the creamiest bokeh you’ve ever seen, while the f/1.2 aperture is perfect for creating a beautiful shallow depth-of-field look.

The Canon RF 85mm f/1.2L USM DS will debut in December 2019 for $2999 USD.

Do these lenses excite you? Will you add them to your line-up? Share with us in the comments below.

The post Canon Reveals the RF 70-200mm f/2.8L and the RF 85mm f/1.2L DS Lenses appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

5 Questions to Ask Before Buying Used Camera Gear

The post 5 Questions to Ask Before Buying Used Camera Gear appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Questions to Ask Before Buying Used Camera Gear

I’ve bought a lot of used gear over the last decade.




And more.


A lot of those purchases turned out great. Some of them I still use to this day.

But a large chunk of the used purchases I made?


In fact, in my more naive years, I was forced to return over 50% of the gear that I purchased. There were just so many problems: sand in focusing rings, stains on the front element, shutter buttons that couldn’t communicate with the shutter. (Oh, and my least favorite: Fungus inside the lens. Doesn’t that just make you shiver?)

And here’s the kicker:

I bought all of this gear through respectable buyers, who described the equipment as in “excellent condition,” “flawless,” “perfect,” “like new,” – you name it.

It got so bad that I considered leaving the used market entirely and just buying new. But I resisted.


Used camera gear is a real bargain – if you buy carefully. This is why I took all of my negative gear-buying experiences and turned them into a process for making sure I purchased good used gear.

At the core of that process is a series of questions. Questions that I’m going to share with you today. Some of the questions are for you, the buyer. Others should be posed to the seller before you put any cash down.

Are you ready to discover how to buy used gear effectively?

Let’s get started!


Question 1: Are you buying from a reputable seller with a money-back guarantee?

This is the number one most important thing that you should do when buying used gear.

Purchase from a seller that you trust – and that gives you an enforceable money-back guarantee. You don’t want to purchase a camera online, only to find that it’s full of water damage and sports a cracked LCD.

This means that buying used through Amazon is fine. All of their products are backed by Amazon month-long guarantees.

Buying used through eBay is also fine. Ebay’s buyer protection ensures that you’re not going to get ripped off in such an obvious fashion.

5 Questions to Ask Before Buying Used Camera Gear

But this makes most forums (if not all forums) off-limits. If the forum doesn’t have a serious money-back guarantee that’s honored by the site itself, then stay away.

This also makes in-person sales off-limits, such as those done through Craigslist. Sure, you can inspect the item upon receipt, but what are you going to do when you get home, put that lens under a light, and realize it’s filled with an army of fungus?

It’ll be too late, and your seller may not be so receptive to a return.

So just don’t do it. Instead, use sites like Amazon, eBay, B&H, or KEH, which all have clear money-back guarantees.

Question 2: Does the seller include actual pictures of the gear?

Sellers not including pictures is a big warning sign, especially on a website like eBay, where pictures are the norm. It should make you ask: Why doesn’t the seller want to show off their “excellent condition” item? Is there something they’re trying to hide?

Another red flag is only showing a stock photo. These are easy to spot; they look way better than anything that a casual, eBay-selling photographer would have taken, and there tends to be only one or two of them.

5 Questions to Ask Before Buying Used Camera Gear

If you like the price and everything else checks out, then go ahead and shoot the seller an email, asking for in-depth pictures of the item. If the seller refuses, then it’s time to look elsewhere.

You might come across some sellers who are offering many units of the same item (e.g., five Canon 7D Mark II’s). In this case, they likely have shown a stock photo, or a photo of one item, because they don’t want to go through the effort of photographing each piece of kit.

In such cases, you should message the seller and ask for pictures of the exact item that you’ll be purchasing. It’s too easy, especially with these big sellers, to end up with an item that you’ll have to send back.

Question 3: How many shutter actuations has the camera fired?

(Note: This section is for buying cameras.)

First things first: A shutter actuation refers to a single shot taken with a camera.

Every camera has a number of actuations its shutter is rated for. Once the shutter has reached around that point, it just…fails. While you can get the shutter replaced, it generally costs enough that you’re probably better off buying a new camera body.

5 Questions to Ask Before Buying Used Camera Gear

If you want to know the shutter actuation rating of any particular camera, you can look it up through a quick Google search.

Of course, the shutter rating isn’t a hard and fast rule. There are some cameras that go far beyond their predicted shutter count, and there are some cameras that fail far sooner. The shutter count is just an average.

Now, when you look at camera listings online, you’ll see that shutter actuations are reported about fifty percent of the time.

But the other fifty percent of the time, there will be no mention of them.

This is for three possible reasons:

  1. The seller doesn’t know about the importance of shutter actuations.
  2. The seller can’t figure out how to determine the shutter actuations for their camera.
  3. The seller doesn’t wish to share the shutter count because it won’t help the sale.

I would never buy a camera without knowing its shutter count. Therefore, I recommend reaching out to the seller and asking.

If the seller refuses to share the count, then let the camera go. If the seller claims they don’t know how to view the shutter count, explain that they should be able to find it easily, either within the camera itself or through a website such as

If they still won’t give you the count, then don’t buy. It’s not worth risking it.

Question Four: Does the lens have any blemishes on the glass, fungus, scratches, haze, or problems with the focusing ring?

(Note that this is for purchasing lenses.)

This is a question to ask the seller, and I suggest you do it every single time you make a purchase.

5 Questions to Ask Before Buying Used Camera Gear

Yes, the seller may be annoyed by your specific question. But this is a transaction; it’s not about being nice to the seller! And I’ve never had someone refuse to sell to me because I annoyed them with questions.

In fact, what makes this question so valuable is that it often forces sellers to actually consider the equipment they’re selling. Up until this point, the seller may not have really thought about some of these things. So it can act as a bit of a wake-up call and make the seller describe the item beyond “excellent condition.”

When you ask this question, make it clear that you want a detailed description. You genuinely want the seller to check for scratches on the glass, fungus in the lens, problems with the focusing ring, and more. You don’t want a perfunctory examination.

Unfortunately, there will still be some people who don’t do a serious examination, or who lie in the hopes that you won’t notice the issues (or be bothered enough to make a return). But asking the question is the best you can do.

Question Five: Has the seller noticed any issues with the item in the past?

This is another question to ask the seller before you hit the Buy button. It’s meant as a final attempt to determine whether the item has any issues.

In this case, by asking about the item’s past.

5 Questions to Ask Before Buying Used Camera Gear

Unfortunately, there will be sellers who have had an item break repeatedly – but, as long as it’s working at the moment they take the photos, they’ll give it the “perfect condition” label. Fortunately, many sellers will still be honest with you. If they’ve had a problem with the item, they’ll say.

So it’s definitely worth asking – just to be safe.

5 Questions to ask before buying used camera gear: Conclusion

Now that you know the five most important questions to ask before buying used camera gear, you’re well equipped to start buying gear online.


Yes, you’re still going to run into the occasional issue, but if you’re careful, and you think about these crucial questions to ask before buying used camera gear…

…the number of issues will be far, far lower.

And you’ll be able to effectively take advantage of used camera equipment!


The post 5 Questions to Ask Before Buying Used Camera Gear appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Diversify Your Gear Options With Old, Manual Focus Lenses

The post Diversify Your Gear Options With Old, Manual Focus Lenses appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.


Photographers like to talk about gear. Discussion about the latest and greatest camera equipment is common. That’s fine to focus on if you think you can improve your photography, or if you like talking about new shiny things. And you have the money to satisfy your desires.

Image: Taken using a 55mm Micro-NIKKOR-P manufactured in about 1970 © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Taken using a 55mm Micro-NIKKOR-P manufactured in about 1970 © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Photographers who can’t afford to keep upgrading their gear tend not to talk about it so much. It can become depressing. Some of them also understand that purchasing the latest camera gear may do very little to improve their photography. Sometimes using older gear invokes more creativity.

What is it about old, manual focus lenses?

I’ve been taking photos for a long time. It was years before I had a camera capable of autofocus, let alone any autofocus lenses. I had to learn the old fashioned way.

This was my first camera and lens – a Nikkormat FTN with a 50mm f/1.4 attached. I continued to use this lens for 27 years until it finally was not in focus all the time. I think it’s worn out; the glass elements are slopping around inside.


Taken with my phone 🙂 © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Manual focusing is not so difficult. It’s like learning to drive a manual shift car. It takes some practice. Once you can, you never forget how. You may get a little rusty if you haven’t done it for a while, but before long, you’ll be driving along and not thinking about it.

Old lenses were built more solidly and feel different in use. Because of their build quality, they can last longer. Many of them are as sharp, if not sharper, than modern lenses.

Take a look back at some of the famous photographers of the last century. Photographers including Sebastião Salgado, Don McCullin, Henri Cartier-Bresson and others did not rely on modern autofocus lenses.

Image: Taken using my Nikkormat FTN and 50mm lens. Scanned from a slide. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Taken using my Nikkormat FTN and 50mm lens. Scanned from a slide. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Using manual focus lenses can help you improve your photography

You have to slow down and think more about what you are doing while using a manual lens. Well, initially, you do. After some practice, you’ll find manual focusing comes pretty naturally.

So much attention in photography is on doing things fast. Manual focus has a bad rap because it’s slower than autofocus. I don’t perceive that this always has to be a negative thing.

Slowing down can help you see more and to think more about what you are doing. Using a manual focus lens can encourage you to become more engrossed in your photography. Without relying on autofocus technology, you have to use alternative means of capturing the photos you want.

Image: Taken using a manual focus 20mm. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Taken using a manual focus 20mm. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Creative thinking becomes more to the fore when you do not have autofocus lenses to use. You must consider more carefully what you want to focus on. This is never a bad thing to master.

Learning to prefocus so your subject will be sharp when it’s time to take the photo is a great skill to have. With a manual focus lens, this becomes less optional.

Any of these methods, when practiced enough, will become second nature. You’ll find yourself using them no matter what lens you have on your camera.


20mm Nikon Lens © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Diversifying your lens options doesn’t have to be expensive

Old lenses are available secondhand almost everywhere at reasonable prices. If you have a new camera with a kit lens and want to add another lens or two, consider buying used.

Picking up an older 50mm lens will not set you back as much as a brand new lens. Depending on what brand camera you have, you may also need to purchase an adapter. This will allow you to mount older lenses to your digital camera. Nikon users have the advantage here.

I was able to keep using my original lens on each camera I upgraded to because Nikon never changed the lens mount. Any older Nikon lens will attach to every Nikon camera. Some very old lenses may lose some metering functionality but otherwise, work very well. Some may also need slight modification.

Adapters are available for just about every camera and lens combination. Once you’ve bought your first old manual focus lens, it may pay to stick to buying the same brand. That way you can use the same adapter.

Image: Taken with a 105mm manual focus lens manufactured around 1973 © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Taken with a 105mm manual focus lens manufactured around 1973 © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Manual focus lens structure and build are much less complicated than autofocus lenses. The higher quality older lenses are sturdy and robust. There are three main things to look out for in second-hand lenses:

  1. Indications that they have been dropped or otherwise mistreated. Dings and heavy scratches on a lens are not a good sign.
  2. Fungus in the lens is another thing to watch for. Dirt on the outside is easy enough to clean off. A lens with fungus on the outside or any of the inner lens elements can be expensive to clean and may well be damaged beyond repair.
  3. Thirdly, the focusing ring can become stiff and hard to turn, particularly if the lens has not been used for a long time. You can repair it, but repairs can become expensive, depending on where you live.
Image: Taken using a manual focus 85mm. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Taken using a manual focus 85mm. © Kevin Landwer-Johan

I picked up a bag of camera gear at a general household auction years ago. In it was a Nikon FM2 body with an MD4 motor drive. I knew I could sell the drive for $400. The camera had a 135mm lens on it with so much mold you couldn’t see through it. That was worthless. Also in the bag was a 55mm micro Nikkor in lovely condition.

I bought the lot for $250, then sold the camera and motor drive and kept the lens. I made around $350 on the deal, plus I got to keep the lens, which I still love using. If you know what you are buying you can be lucky enough to end up with another lens and it not cost anything.


Taken using a 55mm Micro-NIKKOR-P manufactured in about 1970 © Kevin Landwer-Johan

Main drawback of older lenses

Build quality and glass are not often a problem in good-quality older lenses. Coatings of lenses have improved over time. Modern lenses have coatings developed for use with digital cameras.

Chromatic aberration, also known as purple fringing, is more prevalent in old lenses. This is because the lens coatings are different. However, post-processing software can often fix the problem pretty well.

Lack of sharpness at wide apertures can sometimes be an issue with older lenses. Avoiding using the widest aperture setting can often alleviate this problem.


© Kevin Landwer-Johan


Diversifying your gear options with older manual focus lenses is worth considering. If you’re a student on a budget (or anyone else on a budget!), picking up a second-hand lens or two will help you in a number of ways:

  • You’ll be saving money
  • You will have to learn to use manual focus
  • Second-hand lenses keep their resale value more than new lenses
  • Working more slowly will help your photograph in other ways too

When looking to buy older lenses, it’s best to do your research carefully first. There’s no point buying a lens that won’t work with your model of camera. Get on the internet and specifically search for the camera and lens you want to combine. If it can be done, someone has likely blogged about it or posted a video to Youtube already.


Do you use old, manual focus lenses? What is your experience with them? Share your experiences and images with us in the comments!

The post Diversify Your Gear Options With Old, Manual Focus Lenses appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Thoughts and Field Test: Leica X-U Underwater Camera

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


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

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

Leica XU underwater camera

Technical specs

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

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

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

Look and feel

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

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

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

Leica XU underwater camera

Ease of use

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

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

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

Leica XU underwater camera

Performance in the field

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

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


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

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

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

Leica XU Underwater Camera

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

Image and video quality

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

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

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

Leica XU Underwater Camera

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

Leica XU Underwater Camera

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

So…should you use this camera?

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

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

For videography, don’t even bother.

Leica XU Underwater Camera

Leica XU Underwater Camera

Leica XU Underwater Camera

Leica XU Underwater Camera

Leica XU Underwater Camera

Leica XU Underwater Camera

Leica XU Underwater Camera

Leica XU Underwater Camera

Leica XU Underwater Camera

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

Has Wescott Out-Godoxed Godox with the Westcott FJ400 Strobe?

The post Has Wescott Out-Godoxed Godox with the Westcott FJ400 Strobe? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

The FJ400 flash and trigger

Wait? How Much? Did Westcott just outdo Godox?

Westcott has just announced the FJ400 Strobe, which on first glance is not that exciting. Then you see the price, only $569! That is $80 cheaper than the ultra-popular Godox AD400. That’s before you get to the universal trigger system. Has Wescott done the impossible? Has Westcott out Godoxed Godox?


Let’s get this stuff out of the way. If you want the headline numbers, here they are:

FJ400 Strobe

  • 400 watt-second AC/DC strobe
  • 9 F-stop range in 0.1 and 1.0 increments
  • Mains power adapter included
  • 0.9 recycle time at full power
  • 480+ full-power flashes per strobe
  • 0.05 second recycle time at the lowest power setting
  • 20 watt LED modeling lamp (Daylight balanced)
  • High-Speed Sync up to 1/8000th second, TTL and rear curtain sync
  • Bowens Mount
  • Series of gels (full CTO, has CTO, window green and diffusion) included. These attach by magnets
  • Color Screen

X2-M trigger

  • Universal wireless radio trigger for FJ400 strobe
  • Compatible with many Canon, Nikon, Sony (with adapter), Fuji, Panasonic Lumix and Olympus cameras (more are being tested by Westcott)
  • Integrated long-lasting lithium-ion battery
  • Up to 200,000 flashes per charge cycle
  • Wireless communication range of up to 985 feet (300m)
  • Bluetooth compatible with free mobile app
  • USB Type-C to USB-A cord for quick charging and firmware updates
  • 6 groups and 16 wireless channels
  • Color LCD screen

This is a serious specification list that clearly shows that Westcott is after potential Godox users. 

The Flash

westcott-fj400-strobe-Wescott FJ400 flash with bag and filters

The headline specs on this are huge. Not only is the flash cheaper than the Godox AD400, but it has a larger battery allowing for more flashes (480 for the Westcott vs. 390 for the Godox). This is at the expense of size, with the Westcott being slightly larger than the Godox. I would personally happily trade the size (and accompanying weight) difference for the extra flashes. 

The other really impressive feature is that the Westcott includes a mains cable, allowing you to plug in the Westcott FJ400 Strobe and use it as a standard studio strobe. For the Godox this is an additional extra. 

Lastly, the mount is Bowens (as is Godox), which allows you to use several different modifiers at all different price points. It also has an adapter for the Rapid Box system, meaning you can easily use the excellent Westcott modifiers

The Trigger

westcott-fj400-strobe-Westcott X2-M Trigger

The universal trigger is something that is going to be incredibly useful to many people. I shoot both Canon and Fuji and currently have two triggers that I have to remember each time I shoot. The fact that this system has a universal system is really exciting for those of us who shoot different brands. 

I also like the movement in the trigger. The fact that I can flick it up when setting my lights, then flick it back down to keep a more compact footprint is exciting. The LCD screen size is nice and big meaning it will be easy to change settings. The included Li-Ion battery is good for 200,000 flashes. This is great, but I do like using AA batteries on my triggers. It’s the peace of mind that I can get batteries no matter where I am. 

For those of you who use Sony cameras, you will need to buy an adapter. However, this is only $20. 

Isn’t this just a rebadged Jinbei?

It certainly looks like these strobes are based on the Jinbei. It is not totally surprising that the FJ400 Strobe has been based around an existing system. The price point Westcott has brought this unit out at would be incredibly difficult if they had to create the whole system from scratch. 

I am not an expert on electronic engineering, so cannot comment on the exact differences, but I have a hunch that the Westcott FJ400 will be built to a slightly higher specification. How much, however, is to be determined. The filter system included with the Westcott is more practical than those I have seen included with the Jinbei system. 

Also, Westcott has excellent customer service. You get to talk to a real person on the phone and things are US-based.  For many photographers, and especially professionals, great customer service is worth its weight in gold.

When can I get it?

Westcott expects to be shipping the FJ400 Strobe for the end of October. 

If you want to get yourself more excited, you can check out the announcement video below.

So, are you excited by the FJ400? Is it enough to persuade you to look at the switch from Godox? As always, let me know in the comments! 

The post Has Wescott Out-Godoxed Godox with the Westcott FJ400 Strobe? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

The Fujifilm X-Pro 3: Marvellous or Mistake?

The post The Fujifilm X-Pro 3: Marvellous or Mistake? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

Image: A marvelous innovation or a stupid mistake? Whatever your opinion, the new Fuji X-Pro 3 defin...

A marvelous innovation or a stupid mistake? Whatever your opinion, the new Fuji X-Pro 3 definitely has people talking.

Cameras are pretty similar these days. We all want the same things. Better dynamic range, better high ISO performance, and better autofocus. 

Really, if you look at the majority of cameras out there at the moment, there are few things that set them apart. That was until Fuji dropped the X-Pro 3. 

They did what with the screen?

In an incredibly bold move (or stupid, depending on which blogs you read), Fuji has done away with the standard rear LCD screen of the camera. They’ve replaced it with a much smaller screen.

It simply displays the key exposure information, or in a nod to the film cameras of days gone by, an image of the film simulation you are using.

The rear screen is not entirely gone though (although they apparently considered it). Instead, it is hidden from view and accessed via flipping it down from the rear of the camera.

Fuji claim this is to stop photographers spending time “chimping” and spending more time with the viewfinder to their eye instead, concentrating on making images.

Pure photography

Fuji launched the camera at the recent Fuji Summit where the Fujifilm X-Pro 3 was announced with a theory of Pure Photography.

The 3 elements of pure photography are:

Carry and access

You need to carry the camera and access the subject. This stated the camera has to be small, light and discreet. They state the camera should be an extension of your eye. This is then followed by talking about the durability of cameras.

Find and frame

You need to find the subject and frame it to get the best composition. Fuji stated that the viewfinder is the most important part of finding your composition.

Shoot to express

This is simply pressing the shutter and capturing the photograph. You don’t need to check a rear screen or distract yourself, you simply need to press the shutter. 

This concept is definitely summed up in the Fujifilm X-Pro 3. Personally, the idea of removing distraction is appealing, and I’m sure I’m not alone. However, whether this camera has mass-market appeal remains to be seen. Fuji’s X-Pro line (including the x-Pro 1 and X-Pro 2) has always been a favorite of street photographers, and this is how Fujifilm are marketing the camera and the pure photography concept. They are marketing to those who want discretion and to focus purely on making the image.

I can imagine many wedding photographers loving this camera too. Not only for the discretion it offers when shooting, but for the fact that you will be thankful for the lack of a screen every time a tipsy relative asks, “give us a look.” It may even suit travel photographers.

OK, they killed the screen, but what else?

The Fujifilm X-Pro 3 had a couple of other things that are worth mentioning – starting with the choice of materials.

The use of titanium is something that Fuji has surprised many with. Titanium is more durable and lighter than the alloys seen in most modern cameras. Titanium is also notoriously hard material to work with, so we should applaud Fuji by the use of this in the X-Pro 3.

This means that the XPro 3 should stand up to the beating a working professional will give it.

Not only is it made of titanium, but it gives you three color options. You can get the X-Pro 3 in black, DURA black and DURA silver. DURA is a special type of coating that is ten times stronger than stainless steel in terms of scratch resistance.

It feels like Fuji built this camera for war zones.

Image: Available in 3 different finishes, two of which are designed to make the titanium body even m...

Available in 3 different finishes, two of which are designed to make the titanium body even more resistant to wear and tear.

The X-Pro 3 has Fuji’s hybrid viewfinder system. Fuji has upgraded this for the new model. It is set to be clearer, with a wider field of view and less distortion than previous models. The electronic viewfinder is also upgraded (as you would expect) to offer a higher frame rate, higher contrast, and a wider color space – finally, a set of specs that fit into the traditional camera upgrade.

The lack of a screen is something that differentiates the X-Pro 3 in Fuji’s camera lineup. In fact, this differentiates them from the camera market as a whole right now. Fuji has aimed this camera at a specific type of photographer. It remains to be seen whether there are enough of their market to allow this camera success.

If you want to watch the whole of the XSummit announcement, you can view it below. If you’re just interested in the X-Pro 3, skip to about 1:10 or so.

What are your thoughts on the Fujifilm X-Pro 3? Is it something that you are intrigued by? Or, did Fuji just make one hell of a mistake? Let me know in the comments below.


The post The Fujifilm X-Pro 3: Marvellous or Mistake? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

Canon 1D X Mark III: Includes IBIS, Increased Resolution, and More

The post Canon 1D X Mark III: Includes IBIS, Increased Resolution, and More appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Canon 1D X Mark III: Includes IBIS, Increased Resolution, and More

The Canon 1D X Mark III may be the last of its kind, but it won’t go down without a fight.

Information has leaked regarding the Canon flagship camera, predicting a 2020 release. This follows on the heels of Nikon’s D6 announcement and its claim that the D6 will be Nikon’s “most advanced DSLR to date.”

The Canon 1D X series and the Nikon D6 series have been longtime competitors, aimed at professional photographers in need of rugged, high-performing camera bodies. Hence, it’s no surprise that the 1D X Mark III should come out in 2020, most likely in time for the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

The leak also suggests that the Canon 1D X Mark III will have in-body image stabilization (IBIS), a feature traditionally offered by mirrorless models but kept out of DSLRs. This will be appreciated by low-light shooters who need to eke out every bit of stability they can get.

The Canon 1D X Mark III is also said to feature significantly increased resolution “for an EOS-1 series camera.” Note that Canon’s EOS-1 line is short on resolution but high on autofocus capabilities and shooting speed, which explains why the 1D X Mark II tops out at 20.2 megapixels, despite its ‘flagship’ label.

What would count as significant?

My guess would be a jump in the 4-megapixel range, to put the 1D X Mark III at 24 megapixels. But it could be less, considering the low bar for 1D X resolution.

Apparently, the Canon flagship will also include 6K video (without a crop) and an upgraded DIGIC processor, as well as dual CFExpress card slots.

As of now, the 1D X Mark III is looking on par with the Nikon D6, which is rumored to drop in 2020.

Both cameras will undoubtedly be pricey; the Canon 1D X Mark II retails at $5500 USD, and the Nikon D5 sits at nearly $6000.

But for the professional action photographer, the cameras will undoubtedly be worth the cost.

Are you looking forward to the Canon 1D X Mark III announcement? What specs are you hoping to see? Share your thoughts in the comments!

The post Canon 1D X Mark III: Includes IBIS, Increased Resolution, and More appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

Equipment Versus Photographer – Which Matters More?

The post Equipment Versus Photographer – Which Matters More? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.


Flatlay image: Jeff Hopper. Photographer image: Alexander Andrews

Equipment versus photographer, which matters more?

It’s a common question without an easy answer. It’s one that pretty much every photographer has asked themselves at one time or another.

In this article, I’m going to start by identifying the ways in which the equipment matters. And then I’m going to cover the ways in which the photographer matters.

Finally, I’ll address the main question:

Which is more important?

So let’s dive right in.


How does equipment change your photography?

Here’s the thing:

As much as photographers hate to admit it, equipment does matter.

If it didn’t, why would professional photographers spend $5000+ on a camera setup?

It’s not a question of whether equipment matters, it’s a question of how much it affects your photography.

So here’s a list of the key reasons equipment matters:

Why your equipment matters

Continuous shooting speeds

Cameras with high continuous shooting rates make it possible to capture amazing action photos without leaving much to chance. A camera that can shoot 12 frames-per-second is going to maximize your chances of getting a gorgeous image in the thick of the action.

Autofocus capabilities

Cameras with more autofocus points, greater autofocus coverage, better tracking, and better autofocus points (e.g., cross-type points) will make it easier to quickly lock focus on your subject and track them as they move. This is useful for any genre of photography that is fast-paced.

Equipment Versus Photographer – Which Matters More?


Metal cameras with weather-sealing can handle much more difficult conditions than cameras made of non-weather sealed plastic. You can shoot for longer in the rain, snow, and freezing temperatures without your camera failing, which increases your chance of capturing a once-in-a-lifetime shot.

High-ISO capabilities

Cameras with the most advanced sensors are able to capture noise-free images when shooting at high ISOs. This makes shooting at night without a tripod a much more feasible option.


The greater your camera’s megapixel count, the more you can crop your photos. This gives you additional flexibility in post-processing and helps you compensate for a shorter lens.

Equipment Versus Photographer – Which Matters More?

High dynamic range

Cameras with a high dynamic range maximize the amount of detail you capture in a scene. This gives you more latitude when selecting an exposure. It also allows you to photography high dynamic range scenes without resorting to HDR techniques.

Accurate previews

Mirrorless cameras with high-quality electronic viewfinders (EVFs) give you fairly accurate previews of your images before you press the shutter button. This allows you to get your exposure and depth of field correct, right from the beginning.

Size and weight

Smaller and lighter cameras are easier to carry on long treks and on travel expeditions. And the easier your camera is to carry, the more likely you are to have it with you when a once-in-a-lifetime scene happens right before your eyes.

Image stabilization

Cameras and lenses with some form of image stabilization make it possible to handhold at low shutter speeds. This increases your shooting opportunities in low light and allows you to increase your depth of field during the day.

Optical quality

Higher-quality lenses are sharper and have fewer problems (such as color fringing and distortion). This makes it possible to get tack-sharp shots that look great straight out of the camera.

Equipment Versus Photographer – Which Matters More?

Focal length

Lenses with different focal lengths allow you to capture different types of shots. If you want to capture sweeping landscape images, you’ll want an ultra-wide lens on hand. If you want to capture a detail shot of a perching eagle, you’ll want a 500mm or 600mm lens. Therefore, different lenses give you different photo opportunities.

How do you, the photographer, change your photography?

Now that we’ve covered the ways in which equipment affects your photography, it’s time to talk about you, the photographer.

What impact do you have in the photo-making process? How do you make a difference in your photography?


Why you matter

Focusing skills

Even if you have the best autofocus system in the world, it won’t matter if you don’t have the capabilities to use it. It takes serious skill to track fast-moving subjects, and it’s something that takes lots of practice to master. If you want to capture gorgeous action shots, you can’t just press the shutter and hope for the best. The autofocus system is part of the equation, but so are you.

Handholding skills

Your ability to handhold is often the difference between a sharp photo and a blurry photo. You’ve often got to keep your hands steady while in the thick of the action, never an easy task. Image stabilization helps, but if your technique isn’t sound, you’ll end up with blurry photos anyway.

Exposure skills

Cameras are pretty good at identifying the right exposure for the scene. But there are plenty of times when the camera’s choice just doesn’t look good. That’s when you have to step in, as the photographer, and take control of your camera’s exposure.


Working with light

As great as modern cameras are, they still can’t tell you how to find good light, and they definitely can’t tell you how to use the light for great shots. That’s all up to you, and it’s something that photographers spend their whole lives studying. Expertly used light can be the sole difference between an amazing photo and a mediocre photo.

Compositional skills

I’m putting this under a single header, but it’s a big one. Composition isn’t something that’s innate, and it’s definitely not something that your camera can control. It’s something that you learn through practice and hard work. And if you don’t bring composition skills to your photography, it’s going to look plain bad. There’s no way around it.

Working with aperture

Choosing a composition is a skill. It’s also a skill to be able to pull off that composition – to be able to use camera settings to your advantage. That’s where you have to leverage your knowledge to choose the aperture and shutter speed you need to capture the perfect shot.

Post-processing skills

This is another huge factor as post-processing skills allow you to take a shot and really turn it into something incredible. Post-processing is how you put the finishing touches on your photos, and it’s how you give your photos that professional flair.

Equipment Versus Photographer – Which Matters More?

Equipment versus photographer. And the winner is…?

Now that you’ve read this far, you and I can surely agree that both the equipment and the photographer matters.

However, if you look over the two lists, you’ll notice that there are certain aspects of photography that the gear can barely contribute to such as working with light, choosing a composition, putting the final touches on a photo in post-processing, and more.

These are huge aspects of being a photographer. If you can’t do these things, your images will be consistently poor. There’s no other way to say it.


But if you can do these things well, you’ll get amazing photos. Yes, high-quality gear will help. It will increase your chances of getting beautiful shots – if you’re already very skilled. However, while the equipment is important, gear will never get you an amazing photo. At best, gear will get you ultra-sharp, well-exposed, in-focus snapshots – and that’s all. At worst, gear will get you blurry, poorly-exposed images.

In other words, you don’t need incredible gear to get incredible photos. But you do need to be an incredible photographer to get incredible photos.

Equipment Versus Photographer – Which Matters More?


Which is more important, the equipment or the photographer?

The photographer.

No doubt about it.

What are your thoughts on equipment versus photographer? Do you agree that the photographer matters more than the equipment? Share your thoughts in the comments!



The post Equipment Versus Photographer – Which Matters More? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jaymes Dempsey.

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