877 Smaller Cheaper Sharper Lighter

We’ve been making lenses for thousands of years, but someone just now discovered the formula to let you make lenses that have zero (ZERO!) spherical aberration. Will this be the miracle cure to make super lenses for cheap?

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2019/2020 Photo Tours with Chris Marquardt
» Feb 2019: Arctic: Fantastic Fjords Tour 1
» Feb 2019: Arctic: Fantastic Fjords Tour 2
» Jun 2019: Silk Road Kyrgyztan
» Oct 2019: Romaina Fall Colors
» Feb 2020: Lake Baikal, Siberia
» Feb 2020: Lake Baikal, Big Ice Journey
» Mar 2020: Ethiopia, Omo Valley
» Apr 2020: Bhutan, The Untouched East
» Jun 2020: Kyrgyz Republic - Unbelievable Landscapes
» Sep 2020: Cappadocia
» all photo tours

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841 Mirrorless Full Frame

Chris revisits the ethical exif discussion by looking at a sea eagle safari. Ryan wonders about lens resolution and Tom has questions about the new full frame mirrorless lens mounts, and about what their bigger diameter and reduced flange distance mean for future lenses.

Photo by Marc-Olivier Jodoin

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Photo Tours with Chris Marquardt
» Aug 2018: Ireland — Giant's Causeway
» Sep 2018: Norway — Lofoten Fantastic Fjords
» Oct 2018: Morocco
» Feb 2019: Arctic: Fantastic Fjords Tour 1
» Feb 2019: Arctic: Fantastic Fjords Tour 2
» Jun 2019: Silk Road Kyrgyztan
» Oct 2019: Romaina Fall Colors
» Feb 2020: Lake Baikal, Siberia
» Sep 2020: Ireland, The Wild Atlantic Way
» all photo tours

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837 AF or MF?

Will storing your lenses horizontally or vertically degrade their sharpness over time? And what’s better, autofocus or manual focus?

Photo by David Travis

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Photo tours with Chris Marquardt:
» May 2017: Svalbard — Arctic (sold out)
» Oct 2017: Bhutan — The Happiness Kingdom (only 1 spot open)
» May 2018: New York Tilt-Shift
» Aug 2018: Ireland — Giant's Causeway
» Sep 2018: Norway — Lofoten Fantastic Fjords
» Oct 2018: Morocco
» all photo tours

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772 Lens Resolution

Kade asks about lens resolution (is there such a thing?), Chris discusses the Lab Box for film development, Gerald wonders which lens to buy and Chris gives some general lens buying advice.

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Photo tours with Chris Marquardt:
» May 2017: Svalbard — Arctic (sold out)
» Oct 2017: Bhutan — The Happiness Kingdom (sold out)
» Jan 2018: Ladakh — Chadar Trek
» Aug 2018: Ireland — Giant's Causeway
» Sep 2018: Norway — Lofoten Fantastic Fjords
» Oct 2018: Morocco
» all photo tours

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How to Protect Your Camera in Extreme Weather

If you love to photograph nature, you surely know how unpredictable, and often hostile the elements can be. While we may get a sniffle or a chill from bad weather, the electronics inside our cameras are much more sensitive.

A little water, some sand, or extreme temperatures can cause your camera to temporarily malfunction or even suffer permanent damage. When the storm clouds roll in, it’s important to know how to take good care of, and protect your camera gear.

Foggy trees by Anne McKinnell

Moisture

Whether it’s full-on rain or just intense humidity, moist conditions are your camera’s number one enemy. Not only can the wetness seep into the electronic elements of cameras, flashes, lenses, and other accessories and short them out, but it can get trapped inside the casing, causing condensation and eventually mold.

To prevent this, consider purchasing a protective rain cover for your camera. You can find these in both disposable and reusable versions. In a pinch, a non-biodegradable plastic shopping bag will do the trick. Make sure all the rubber doors covering your camera’s inputs are sealed, and keep a clean, dry cloth handy to wipe away any water that condenses on the outside of the camera.

Rain drops on flowers by Anne McKinnell

In the event that your camera does get wet inside, remove the lens and set all the affected pieces next to a warm (not too hot) radiator. Remove the battery and memory card, open all the doors and gaskets, and place the camera face up and the lens face down to allow water to evaporate through the openings. Less sensitive accessories can be placed in a bag of dry rice, which will absorb the excess moisture.

Tip: Throw some silica gel (the little packages in shoe boxes, etc., that read “DO NOT EAT”) in your camera bag to protect against humidification in storage.

Intense Heat or Cold

Most cameras are rated to work between -10 and +40 degrees Celsius (14-104 degrees Fahrenheit). This is generally not because of the camera itself, but because of the batteries – the chemicals inside of them cease to work properly when they get too cold, or too hot.

Palm Canyon Sunburst by Anne McKinnell

To avoid this problem, keep an extra battery in a temperature-controlled place. If you’re shooting in the cold, keep one in your pocket to be warmed by your body heat. In the heat, your camera bag should provide adequate shade to keep a battery cool enough to function.

Never place your camera face up in direct sunlight. The lens works both ways, and can act like a magnifying glass to focus the rays into your camera and burn a hole in your shutter, and eventually, your image sensor. Remember that even magnesium-alloy cameras contain plastic components, so if you shoot in really extreme places such as near volcanoes or among raging fires, use common sense and keep your camera well clear of the flames.

Frozen Fountain by Anne McKinnell

Sand

Other than moisture, this is probably the most common cause of equipment malfunction. Everyone wants to take their camera to the beach (or maybe to the desert), but as anyone who has ever tried to picnic in the surf knows, sand gets anywhere, and everywhere. At best, it can become stuck inside the lens and cause spotty pictures. At worst, it will get inside the gears and severely damage moving parts such as the shutter or auto focus motor, or scratch the lens or image sensor.

Ormond Beach by Anne McKinnell

This applies to compact cameras too – sand in the lens will cause it to grind and prevent it from extending, turning your little point-and-shoot into an expensive paper weight. Even tripods aren’t safe from this effect. Grains of sand inside the fastening screws can destroy the threading and keep them from tightening properly.

Again, make sure the rubber gaskets on your camera are tightly sealed and always tuck your equipment away inside a sealed camera bag when not in use. A protective rain cover can also help keep your camera clear of debris. If sand does get on or in your gear, don’t wipe it with a cloth which can embed it deeper, or worse, scratch the glass elements. Instead, get a hand-pumped air blower to puff the grains away. Avoid compressed air canisters, which are too strong and contain chemicals that can cause damage. If you have no other option you can use your lungs, but be very careful not to project little spit particles into your camera’s insides.

Mesquite Sand Dunes by Anne McKinnell

Wind

A stiff breeze won’t hurt much on its own, but it can easily blow over a tripod and send your camera crashing to the ground, causing untold damage. On a windy day, anchor your gear using sandbags, or simply hang your camera bag from the tripod’s centre column to weigh it down (a sack full of rocks will also work). Keep in mind that wind combined with sand creates a natural sandblaster which can scratch up your lens quite badly if you aren’t careful.

Stormy Day at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument by Anne McKinnell

Bad weather can often make for good photographs, so get out there and make the most of it. Just make sure you are taking care of your equipment at the same time.

The post How to Protect Your Camera in Extreme Weather by Anne McKinnell appeared first on Digital Photography School.

A Practical Review of the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens

The Nikon 24-70mm F2.8 Lens

The Nikon 24-70mm F2.8 Lens

You will hear this from many photographers – “invest in your lenses”. Camera bodies will come and go, but a good lens can last a very long time. This was the advice that I first received when I started taking my photography seriously. Initially, I thought it was a bit hyped. I bought a cheap 70-300mm lens and used it at the first wedding I shot. I thought the images were fantastic until I bought a better lens a year later. I then realized how much difference a good lens can make.

This review is not going to be a technical review of the lens. You want to know how this lens performs, what the strong points are and what the weak points are – I will cover that. You will see images taken with the lens, many will be edited in Photoshop, some will be straight out of the camera, I will point out to you which are which.

About this lens

This lens is regularly praised as the best midrange zoom lens that Nikon has ever made. That sounds like a crazy statement, but when you look at the image results from this lens you can understand why. The lens is a high spec lens with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 and a minimum of f/22. Here is a quick look at the technical specs:

Focal Length: 24-70mm
Format: Full Frame – 35mm, can be used on a DX body, but will be cropped
Maximum aperture: f/2.8
Minimum aperture: f/22
Dimensions: 83mm (diameter) x 133mm (length)
Weight: 900g
Zoom ratio: 2.9X
Minimum focusing distance: 38cm

This lens is a perfect “all rounder” lens. You may find that you keep the lens on your camera most of the time. It has a really good focal range for everyday photography. It is a good travel lens too. Many photographers have said that this lens was the only lens they went on vacation with and it worked really well.

Photographic Genres that it can be used for:

1. Landscape Photography

This is not considered a super wide angle lens, but at 24mm on a full frame sensor, you will get a viewing angle of of 84 degrees which gives a pretty wide angle of view. This lens can be used for landscape photography for a few reasons. Firstly, it has really good glass elements that handle light beautifully. There is some distortion at 24mm, but this is easily corrected in Photoshop. Secondly the lens is really sharp, it makes an image seem almost too sharp. You may find that you won’t need to sharpen your image as much if you use a tripod and are properly focused. The colour rendition on this lens is really good too, colours are true and vibrant. This lens is good for landscapes, not necessarily as a dedicated landscape photography lens (you may want to look at some wide angle lenses) but it can certainly perform well for this type of photography.

This seascape image was shot at 24mm. The clarity and colour was amazing, this has been edited in Photoshop

This seascape image was shot at 24mm. The clarity and colour was amazing, this has been edited in Photoshop

2. People Photography

This lens can work well for people photography as well which can encompass portraiture, weddings, and even street photography. This lens will do a really good job in any of these genres. In people photography, you will want to have a lens with minimal distortion. If you are using the 24-70mm for people photography, you will want to be shooting at 50mm and upwards. With a wide open aperture at f/2.8 you will be able to isolate your subject easily and have a soft out of focus background. The bokeh on this lens is good, but more on this later.

A scene in a coffee shop, taken at 24mm. Converted to B&W and edited in Photoshop

A scene in a coffee shop, taken at 24mm. Converted to B&W and edited in Photoshop

3. Close-up and Macro Photography

While the 24-70mm is not a macro lens, it has a 37 cm (14.5″) minimum focusing distance. That sounds like a long way, but at 70mm you can get pretty close to your subject. If you are shooting on a high resolution sensor (16 megapixels and above) you will be able to crop in quite a bit and so you will be able to get some good close up images. Bear in mind, this is not a macro lens, but if you want to get in close to a subject, really nice and close, this lens can do that. The sharpness and clarity is amazing, and it is good to have this ability on this lens.

This badge on the hood of a car was taken at 70mm and handheld. The clarity and sharpness is good and the close up shot isolates the badge

This badge on the hood of a car was taken at 70mm and handheld. The clarity and sharpness is good and the close-up shot isolates the badge

4. Street Photography

Most street photographers will traditionally use a prime lens for their work. You will often find a 50mm f/1.8 or and 85mm f/2.8 on their cameras. Sometimes though, it is good to have a little more flexibility and the 24-70mm is perfect for this. You can shoot at 35mm, 50mm, or 70mm and you will get great results. Based on your creative desire, you can shoot at f/2.8 or up to f/8 depending on your scene. The beauty of the lens is that it can focus really quickly and easily. It has a SWM (Silent Wave Motor) which means the autofocus is quick and quiet, really useful in street photography. There is some vignetting when the lens is wide open at f/2.8, but this adds some depth and contrast to street photography images.

This lens gives you flexibility when shooting street photography.

This lens gives you flexibility when shooting street photography.

5. Travel Photography

When you are planning to travel, there is always the consideration of what lenses to pack. Weight is always a challenge and of course, space. Many photographers have found that the 24-70mm is a prefect travel lens. At the low end, you can capture some great images of wide open spaces and the interiors of  churches and cathedrals easily. Zoom in and you can get pretty close to your subject, step in closer and you can do some wonderful cameo and detail shots. The 24-70mm is almost designed for travel photography. Yes, it lacks a little in the zoom category, 70mm is not a huge zoom, but you will come home with bright, sharp, colour-filled images.

The magnificent Peyto Lake in the Canadian Rockies, made with the 24-70mm lens

The magnificent Peyto Lake in the Canadian Rockies, made with the 24-70mm lens

Performance

The Nikon 24-70mm has amazing optics. It is sharp throughout the zoom range and has a fixed aperture of f/2.8 which means you can get a very shallow depth of field throughout the entire range.

1. Autofocus

This lens focuses quickly and accurately. I use it on a Nikon D800 and it works really well on that camera. You can of course manually focus, but I would only suggest doing that when you are shooting landscapes or close-up photography. If you have a subject that is moving, autofocus is necessary.

2. Colour rendition

The lens produces good colour, which is vibrant and rich.

3. Distortion

If the lens is zoomed out to 24mm you will see some barrel distortion. Once you zoom in though, the distortion goes away, so be aware of the distortion when shooting at 24mm. It is easily fixed in Photoshop or Lightrooom, so don’t be too overly concerned about that.

4. Handling

The lens is quite large and heavy, mostly because the lens has all glass elements and the body of the lens is metal. It is a hardy lens and can take some rough handling, but be careful with it as it is an expensive lens and you wouldn’t want to repair it unnecessarily. When mounted on a Nikon D800 without a battery back, the combined weight of the lens and camera body will be at least 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds). Thats a fair amount of weight to carry around at the end of your hand, so be aware if you plan to buy this lens.

5. Bokeh

Many lenses are judged not only on how sharp they are, but how smooth and creamy are the out of focus areas (bokeh) of the image. In this area, the 24-70mm does okay. The bokeh on this lens is not a wow, but it is smooth and soft. On a lens that offers so much, the bokeh is not perfect, but it is acceptable.

Overall Conclusion

This lens has been praised as one of the best lenses Nikon has ever made. It is a great addition to any photography bag. You will find that you may keep it on your camera most of the time. It really is a sharp lens and is a perfect “all-round” everyday lens. Its specifications make it a “pro-spec” lens which means it’s not cheap (just under $2000). Remember though, it is recommended to invest in your lenses. Generally they will outlast your camera bodies and you will have them for many years if you look after them. This is one of those types of lenses, it will last well and produce great images for many years.

The post A Practical Review of the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens by Barry J Brady appeared first on Digital Photography School.

tfttf612 – Disposable Lenses

Dave from Atlanta tells us about his love for analog photography, Antonio from Brazil plugs his podcast, Simon from Farnborough tells us how to find Tips from the Top Floor on a Sonos system and George from Barrachia Colombia has … Continue reading

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Why a 50mm Lens is your new Best Friend

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You may have heard the term Nifty Fifty before.  If you haven’t, it is usually a reference to the Canon 50mm f1.8 lens. But for the purpose of this article I’m going to use it synonymously with any prime 50mm lens.

What’s the best “next” lens to buy?

I get asked all the time by my students about what lens they should buy next after the basic kit lens that came with the camera. I almost always recommend picking up a simple 50mm prime lens. Let’s look at some reasons . . .

Reasons why this lens should be in your bag

  •  GREAT FOR LOW LOW PHOTOGRAPHY - with the wide aperture of f1.8, especially going from your typical kit lens which is usually f5.6, this lens gives you 3 stops or EIGHT times (2x2x2) more light coming through the lens opening. This allows you to use either a faster shutter speed and avoid camera shake, or a lower ISO and avoid the noise you get from higher ISOs, or a combination of both.

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    Shot at ISO 1600, 1/50th a f1.8. Without the 1.8 aperture I would have needed a much slower shutter speed or even higher ISO.

  • GREAT VALUE, LOW COST - at a price range of $100-200 for most popular brands this lens’ low price tag makes it affordable as a good first lens investment
  • LIGHT WEIGHT - ranging from only 4.3 oz to 6 oz (Pentax, Canon, Nikon, Sony in order of lightest to heaviest) there is no reason to leave this lens at home. That means even when you don’t want to haul a whole bag full of stuff around, you can easily grab your camera and the Nifty Fifty and go. No excuses!
  • KILLER BOKEH - prime lenses typically produce nicer bokeh (how the lens renders out of focus areas) than most zooms, and with the f1.8 aperture you can make some really nice bokeh. Bright lights, off in the background, twinkle with this little lens! DrinkClickDec2012-0021-600px
  • SUPER SHARPNESS - prime or fixed focal length lenses are usually inherently sharper than zoom lenses, partly due to there being less moving parts inside the lens, and less lens elements. You will also experience increased sharpness due to the wider aperture which allows, as I mentioned above, being able to shoot at faster shutter speeds and lower ISO.  Being able to get a fast enough shutter speed to eliminate camera shake, or freeze a moving subject has a lot to do with getting sharper images as does minimizing noise.
  • IT’S VERSATILE - the 50mm lens is a great street shooting lens, not too wide, not too long. On a cropped or APS-C sensor (any non full frame camera body) it is also a great portrait lens, just long enough to remove distortion from your subject’s face and flatter them a bit more, not so long you need to stand across the street.
  • GREAT FOR TRAVELING - because it’s light weight, and is a fast lens (big aperture f1.8) the 50mm is a great addition to your bag for trips. Usually I take along a good wide zoom lens (my 17-35mm), a good long zoom (70-200mm) but I never forgot my little Nifty Fifty.  Even if you have two kit lenses that cover that focal length, say an 18-55mm and a 55-200mm, the 50 f1.8 fills the bill for low light photograph that the other two can’t because of their aperture limitations.  Plus it weighs practically nothing, you don’t even know it’s in there.Latinfest2010-00333-600px
  • HELPS MAKE YOU A BETTER PHOTOGRAPHER - whoa, what?!
    I’ve been thinking a lot lately about “the good old days” when I all my lenses were prime or fixed focal length, and how we’ve come to be dependant on using zoom lenses for convenience. They absolutely have a place in photography especially if you’re photographing things like sports or weddings. However, I also think they can make us lazy as photographers.  Instead of walking two feet to get the crop we want, we can just zoom in.  But what if that angle of view two feet closer makes for a better image?  We’ll never know because we have our feet planted, so use your feet and walk around your subject and see different views. I believe using a prime lens challenges you to think more about composition before you press the shutter, which often makes for better photos in the end. If you want more challenges, you might want to read my free ebook 10 Challenges to help you take better photos without buying any new gear.
Fun bokeh at a wedding using ambient light. Almost impossible to get this shot without the big aperture.

Fun bokeh at a wedding using ambient light. Almost impossible to get this shot without the big aperture.

Summary and action plan

Like I tell most of my students, I highly recommend you have a 50mm lens in your bag.  If you can afford a fancier one go for the f1.4 or even the f1.2.  However they do come with much bigger price tags, and are a lot heavier.  So keep that mind if you go shopping for a 50.

Here’s some of these 50mm lenses listed on Amazon:

Then think outside the zoom lens box and see what other prime lenses might be perfect for the kind of photography you do. I love my 85mm f1.8 as well, it’s great for portraits (I use a full frame camera so will be similar to the 50 on a cropped sensor).  If you like macro work perhaps a 60mm macro or 100mm will do the trick for you.  Either can also double as a nice portrait lens.   Take on my 10 challenges if you dare!

Lastly – show me your Nifty Fifty photos!  Share some images you’ve done with your little 50mm lens. Let’s see what it can do!

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

Why a 50mm Lens is your new Best Friend

LowePro S&F Camera Exchange AW Bag 100 [REVIEW]

I see a lot of bags and packs that look like gimmicks trying to be passed off as something the average consumer can’t live without. Often they are toured as such. Few of them live up to the concept of making photography easier.

And that is why I eyed the LowePro S&F Lens Exchange 100 AW with a skeptical eye. “Look!” I imagined the PR rep shouting from on high, “You can change lenses more easily!!” I’m not a fan of individual lens cases and I usually only carry one extra lens not on my camera when I travel. But with my recent need to test a Tamron 90mm Macro, I decided to see if the small bag could deliver when I used it in conjunction with a Canon EF 10-24mm.

Specifications

  • Internal Dimensions: 11 x 11 x 17 cm (4.33 x 4.33 x 6.69 in)
  • External Dimensions: 14 x 14 x 19.5 cm (5.51 x 5.51 x 7.68 in)
  • Weight: 0.4 kg (0.88 lbs)

In The Real World

The concept is simple: When opened, this bag has holders for two lenses. It can’t hold them both when closed, but the idea is you open the bag, expand it out, drop one lens into the empty holder, swap end caps and put the first lens on your camera. It’s meant to make things easier for one handed operation when you don’t have a place to set your second lens during a swap.

And it works! I’ve been using the under-the-arm technique for a while and it frankly frightens me. I’m not the steadiest of hands at times and dropping a $1500 lens is a bad idea. This bag actually cures that problem.

What’s more, this bag doesn’t try to be everything to everyone and I really like that. It holds a smaller lens (like a 16-35mm, 50mm or even 90mm) well and has space for another. I didn’t try it with a 16-35mm and the wide lens hood, but it should fit as well. It can’t handle a 70-200mm but for that it has a big brother, the 200 model.

There are a couple of elastic pouches on the sides to hold lens or end caps. Beyond that, the bag isn’t larger than it needs to be to accommodate extra stuff. No pockets for keys or extra cards or cell phone. Just a lens bag.

There is a nice belt loop velcro attachment on the back built in the normal, rugged LowePro fashion. The zipper pulls on the top are smooth, as I’ve also come to expect from LowePro and the use of a single handle is astonishingly easy. I’ve tried binding it up and it keeps on working properly. Very well designed for being so dang simple. There’s also a snap on the back (when both of your hands are free) to help secure the bag.

A shoulder strap is supplied and there is a rain cover. The rain cover seems a bit silly to me especially since it has holes form the shoulder strap. There is no way to get into the bag with the shoulder strap attached and the rain cover on. I have to remove the shoulder strap then take the cover off, which obviously requires more than two hands and a place to set the bag, most likely. If the rain cover were not attached to the bag (a long time gripe of mine about LowePro rain covers in general) I could flip the rain cover the opposite way and still work the system with one hand.

Conclusion

The LowePro S&F Lens Exchange 100 AW works and despite me not wanting to like it (or lens pouches in general) I will be using it with my other bags when I want a slimmed down kit. I can attach it to the hip belt of a f-stop bag or the outer loops on a smaller camera/lens bag. I can also just loop my belt through it and forget about the bags altogether.

It also works better for me than the standard LowePro lens cases. With this bag, the case opens wise (I find those single lens bags have a lid that likes to flop closed when I don’t want it to) and the opening with a handle is just easier.

Get a price on the LowePro S&F Camera Exchange AW Bag 100 at Amazon.

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

LowePro S&F Camera Exchange AW Bag 100 [REVIEW]