Tag: camera

How to Make Your Own Ring Flash for Less Than $20

Ring flashes are used for macro photography we have seen them on the CSI series, or you can use it for shooting portraits. You can get one on eBay which will cost from 50$ up to 250$. Have in mind that most of the cheapest are not the full circuit. Forget that we want to be full, and what’s the best it will cost you 20$ or less. These ones will fit your camera perfectly- it will no shake or be loose, it will not put stress on your camera hot shoe, it will be light weight, and it is unbreakable. So let’s begin, the only thing you will need is a cobra flash.Needed materials:

  • So the next thing you will need a plastic bowl whose bottom diameter is not less than 8 cm. Try to find one that is not too thick or too firm.
  • A pipe that is 5 cm long and 8 cm wide. PVC material will be the best choice in terms of weight and toughness.
  • Aluminum foil
  • Duct tape
  • A cutter
  • And glue

make your own flash ring for less then 20$

Making the ring

Put the pipe on the bottom of the bowl, and use a pen to draw a circle. Take the cutter (or if you have a very sharp knife you will cut the costs for the fabrication) and remove the circle that you previously were drawn. This can be tricky, try to preserve your fingers and do not push very hard if it is a firm plastic it will eventually crack and you will have to go over again. After this process put the head your flash on the side of the bowl and draw it, then you cut a perfect rectangle that you have just drawn. Now we are down to the aluminum foil. Take the foil and cut some sheets from it and glue them inside in the bowl. Read the specifications of the glue in case you are not sure that will keep together the aluminum foil and the plastic that the bowl is made of. Repeat the same for the PVC pipe wrap the outside with the foil and put it in the hole low the bowl. Glue it together so it wants to come off. Now you are going to have to put all of the components together. It might get tricky because the aluminum foil is not a material that is rough resistant so be extra careful not to tear it apart. Here is what I did, and it works great. Put the pipe inside the bowl, and then put pieces of the duct tape from the inside to the outside of the rear of the bowl. This will prevent the pipe to move, and it will support its own weight, plus the weight of the pipe. Take a good look of it because you are done. But don’t be disappointed, it’s not a beauty but it will do the job. Plus you have a flash ring that it will keep your food in the fridge (lol), and how many of the rings bought from eBay or a store can do that?make your own flash ring for less then 20$So how we are going to use it? Put the flash in the rectangle hole, not too far inside. Use a remote wire, or use the wireless TTL for your flash. Or you can insert your lens inside the bottom of the bowl.For those of you that don’t owe a cobra flash there is another solution that will raise the price of your flash ring, but not for the price of a cobra flash. For this kind of ring flash, we are just going to add a tape of led lights which will cost additional 5 dollars (if you get a good one), a battery adapter for 4 AA or AAA batteries, and a wire to connect them. So what we are going to do? We are going to put the led lights in the middle of the PVC pipe and the bowl, creating a perfect circle, and connect them with the batteries to have a source of energy. This way we are going to have constant light. You can put the adapter in your pocket, just be sure that you have enough cable to operate without limits. Remember that the aluminum foil remains in the same place to have a better reflection. If electricity is not something that you know, maybe you should find somebody to make the connection for you. I don’t want you to electrify yourself beside it’s not that much of an electrical power in 4 batteries.   Now that we are done, all you have to do is to enjoy the magical effect of the macro photography and especially the portraits taken with the flash ring.Hope that this tutorial will come handy. Warm regards.

Old DSLR vs. New DSLR Cameras

In this post, I want to address one of the decisions that people buying a new DSLR camera will have to face at some point or another. I will focus on Canon DSLRs because some of the current models have the particularity of not being replaced by new models but simply by new ‘versions’ of themselves.

The issue with new versions (labeled by Canon as Mark X with the X indicating the version number) is that they are usually significantly more expensive than their predecessors. Take, for instance, the workhorse of Canon’s full frame cameras, the EOS 5D. So far, there have been 6 different versions of the 5D with the Mark IV being the last one to use the ‘Mark’ versioning system (the last two versions were called 5DS and 5DSR).

Cologne Cathedral

If you compare the prices of the four last versions (Mark III, Mark IV, 5DS and 5DSR) you will see that they range (for the body only) from about $2500 for the Mark III to about $3700 for the 5DSR, with the Mark VI and the 5DS being priced at about $3500 each.

Since there is no price difference between the Mark IV and the 5DS and given the small difference between them and the 5DSR, I will focus here on the differences between the 5D Mark III and the 5D Mark IV, putting special emphasis on whether those differences justify the price gap or not at the moment of considering buying a new camera.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III vs. Mark IV

Probably the first noticeable difference between these two cameras is their resolution in terms of number of pixels. While the Mark III has 22.3 MP, the Mark IV has 30 MP. This might already look like a good argument for paying the extra money for the Mark IV but, the truth is that the number of pixels of a camera is an overrated feature.

Unless you are planning on shooting without paying any attention to composition and relying on cropping during post-processing to get the scene you wanted on the first place, a larger number of pixels is useful only when it comes to printing your images. In that sense, with both 22.3 and 30 MP you can make prints with sizes of up to 40″ x 60″ (that’s about a meter on the smallest side!) with good quality. That said, for most photographers, the difference might not actually be worth the extra $1000.

Athens

According to the DxO scores, another specification where the Mark IV surpasses the performance of the Mark III is the dynamic range, with values of 13.6 for the former and 11.7 for the latter. These numbers are exposure stops and basically measure the range between the maximum and minimum exposure that contain useful information on them. The difference here means that the Mark IV will provide you with almost two extra stops which is something noticeable and can make a difference when working under certain difficult light conditions. Once again, though, and given that you can easily compensate two stop values by performing bracketing and exposure blending, I can imagine that most users will get away just fine with a value of 11.7 and save the extra money.

There are a few other small differences between both models but in most cases, they are rather small. For instance, in terms of continuous shooting, the Mark III provides 6 fps while the Mark IV provides 7; not a remarkable difference even if you are shooting fast-moving subjects. Another important aspect to take into account when buying a new camera is the auto-focus (AF) system and the number of AF points. In this respect, both cameras possess 61 AF points, although the Mark IV system is a bit more sophisticated.

Prague

If you use your camera to take not only photos but also videos, this might be a point where finally paying the extra $1000 might make sense. The Mark IV, unlike the Mark III, provides 4K video and also provides an AF system while taking videos. If you ever tried to make a video with a DSLR that does not provide AF while filming, you know how necessary this feature is!

As with pretty much everything in photography, the final decision of whether it is worth it to pay more for a camera like the Mark IV instead of going with the older model will be a very personal one and will depend mostly on what you use the camera for. Still, for most photographers who care more about photography than technological advances per se, it might be a wiser choice to go with the older model and spend the extra amount on a good lens.

In any case, before buying a new camera (which usually represents an important investment), take your time to evaluate the different models out there in the market and pay special attention to the features that you really need. After all, do you really need a touchscreen camera if that means that the price of two equally capable cameras will differ because if that?

If you have any question related to this article, please leave a comment below and I will be happy to answer and, whatever camera you get I hope you have a great time with it!

Histograms: get to understand them and improve your photography

Today I want to talk about one of the most helpful features of the camera- the histogram. Don’t think I always liked histograms. When I started, I found them complicated to understand and in fact, I totally ignored them for a while.  However, once I saw the point of the histogram, I started checking them on the screen of my camera every time I was taking a shot. Trust me; the time invested in understanding histograms is totally worth it. They will become one of the best tools you will have, both in the field and in post-processing.

Histogram

What is a histogram?

The histogram is a graph that shows the range of tones in your photo, in other words, it tells you which shades you have in the photo you just took.

Check the histogram in the field

You can set your camera to show you the histogram in its screen each time you take a photo. This is quite handy, especially at the beginning when you are still not used to checking it and you might forget to ask for it. In my Nikon camera, in order to see the histograms in the playback, I needed to check the Histogram in the menu of the Display mode. If you have another type of camera, have a look at the Manual and check how you can set it. It will probably be something similar to what I explained for the Nikon.

Most cameras also have the option to show you the RGB histogram. In fact, this is a group of three histograms, each one showing you the histogram of colors Red, Green and Blue. Today I am going to focus in the general Histogram, but I just want you to know that you have the option to use it by the 3 colors as well, should you choose to do so.

Histogram

Check the histogram in Lightroom

Once you import a photo to Lightroom, you can automatically check the histogram from the Library and Develop modules.

Histogram

Getting familiar with the histogram

Histograms can look a bit scary at first, but once you know what to look for, they are quite friendly. The histogram is a graph with a horizontal axis which represents the shades you have in your photo. On the left edge you have the pure blacks and as you go to the right on the axis you have lighter and lighter tones until you reach to the pure white in the right edge. I have a little trick to remember where are the blacks and whites in the histogram. I always think the histogram is like “B&W photography”, black is first (in the left) and whites after them (in the right). For this trick to work you have to think from a left-to-right writing mode.

OK, so now we know what the horizontal axis means. What about the height of the histogram? It tells you how much of each shade you have in the photo. The basic principle of reading the histogram is the same; the more peaks you have in one area on the horizontal axis and the higher they are means that these are the tones and shades that are the most dominant in the photo.

Histogram

Let’s see this in a real photo:

Histogram

 

The histogram is a great tool for getting well-exposed images. A general rule of thumb is to have the histogram stretched all over the horizontal axis and avoiding having strong peaks (spikes) at the extreme left and/or right of the axis.

Histogram
This photo is quite balanced, you can see that the histogram stretches almost all over the horizontal axis, the most dominant colors here are bright and for that reason, we see higher peaks on the right side of the histogram (but not at the edge)

A photo with too many picks in the blacks means that it is too dark or underexposed. To correct the exposure, you will need to increase the light of your image by, for example, using a wider aperture or increasing the ISO.

Histogram
This photo was under-exposed, that is why it is so dark and the histogram stretches only over the left-hand side of the axis, and we see that the peaks (which are high enough to be called spikes) are concentrated at the left-hand edge

On the other hand, if the photo has a lot of high picks in the white, it means that it is overexposed or even burnt. This time, to correct the exposure, you will need to decrease the light of your image by, for example, using a smaller aperture or a lower ISO.

Histogram
This photo has been over exposed and parts of it are even burnt, the histogram shows just that; we see the graph is very low the most part of the axis and only towards the right-hand edge of the axis the histogram rises sharply

 

Now you know! If you see that your histogram is too much in the blacks or in the whites, this means that you MIGHT need to correct the exposure of the image. Notice that I said MIGHT. Why? Because as photography is a creative craft, it might happen that having a underexposed or overexposed photo is exactly what you are aiming for. You need to think what do you need in your final image and then see if the histogram you have matches what you are looking for. I will show you with a little game!

Let’s play the histogram game!

I am going to show you a histogram and you need to decide which kind of photo might correspond to it. Spoiler alert! Don’t scroll down too far or you will see the answer! Let’s see the first one:

Histogram 1

 

 

histogram-correfocs

Options:

  1. A boiled egg on a white table
  2. A night photography of a street event
  3. A chess board
  4. A multi-color chicken

Solution: Number 2! In night photography you will get histograms with a lot of pick in the blacks area. But this is normal because night is dark and black is what we expect to find in the frame.

Histogram

Histogram 2

 

histogram-egg-white

Options:

  1. A boiled egg on a white plate
  2. A beach at night
  3. A chess board
  4. A gray cat on a brown sofa

Solution: Number 1! We got a histogram with a lot of whites because the image is mostly white!

Histogram

Histogram 3

histogram-egg-black

Options:

  1. A polar bear in the snow
  2. A groom in black sitting in a black car
  3. A multicolor bouquet of flowers
  4. Eggs in a white plate on a black table

Solution: Number 4! Here the histogram shows picks in both blacks and whites and almost no middle tones because the photo has high contrast: white and black are the main colors.

egg-in-black-1

Histogram 4

Histogram

  1. A cat in the middle of the night
  2. A bride in the snow
  3. A colorful house with a sunburst
  4. A colorful patchwork blanket

Solution: Number 3! The beautiful Gaudi House and the most part of the photo is well exposed, so the histogram has a lot of middle tones. However, the sun-star makes the whites in the histogram quite high. Exactly what I wanted!

Histogram

What do you think about histograms now? Still scary? I hope not! It takes a bit of practice to get used to them, but believe me, it is totally worth it! Grab your camera and tell me how it goes! Have a happy shooting!

How to Photograph Water – Water Photography Tips

Water is a wonderful part of nature that everyone can appreciate looking at. Whether you want to photograph a river, an ocean, a lake, or a waterfall you’ll need to know how to set up your camera for the perfect shot. Water photography is a tricky subject. However, by changing a few camera settings, you can get an excellent shot. Once you know how to set up the shot beforehand and properly change your settings for the type of picture you want, you’ll be a water-shooting pro in no time.

Water Photography Tip #1: Protecting Your Camera

One of the most important things to keep in mind when doing water photography is the safety of your camera. Just like any other electronic, your camera will not fare well when wet. Shooting near water can harm your camera and even make the photos come out looking splotchy and hazy.

photographing-water-1

To protect your camera from falling in the water during water photography sessions, always use a tripod that is steady. Not only will the tripod protect your camera, but it will also make the image steadier. Sometimes you’ll want a slower shutter speed for your camera, and if you’re holding it in your shaky hands, the photo may come out blurry.

When in a place where water spray is likely, such as the beach or a waterfall, be sure to cover your camera. Enough light drops on a camera can ruin it. When you are ready to set up your shot, be sure to cover your lens up until you’re ready to shoot. An old camera filter or a plastic bag will not only protect your camera lens during your water photography, but it will also prevent watermarks from getting on the glass and ruining your photo.

photographing-water-2

Water Photography Tip #2: Setting up the Shot

Water photography is mostly a game of composition. Even with wrong camera settings, a nicely composed picture can turn out great. But no amount of fancy settings or filters can take a horribly framed photo and turn it amazing. With water, the placement of your camera is of the utmost importance. You can create amazing scenes using curves and natural objects such as rocks and vegetation.

Generally speaking, lines are what attract the eye. When someone looks at a photo, their eyes follow the lines created by the objects. A good photo uses these lines to draw the eye to the important aspects of an image. Being out in nature, you’re going to have to find these eye-catching lines yourself.

photographing-water-3

The best spot to take pictures of water isn’t always the most convenient. You may have to walk along a river or climb to a certain part of a waterfall to get the best shot. Generally, you want to find curves. Waterfalls and ocean waves have plenty of these. When looking to shoot rivers, try to find a bend or a handful of swerves to help get the attention of your audience.

A picture of just water isn’t going to be all that astounding. Try and think of a photo you’ve seen that shows the river without the bank, the ocean without the beach. There aren’t many. A lot of the attraction to water images is the nature that surrounds them. Keep this in mind when you’re preparing your shot. You want to include the rocks, the sand, and the vegetation that surrounds your water. Use the natural landscape to frame your shot or divide it into neat lines. It may take some time searching, but eventually, you’ll find the perfect spot to shoot.

Water Photography Tip #3: Setting Shutter Speed

Once you’ve found where you’re going to shoot, you need to figure out how you’re going to shoot. When it comes to water there are two main types of effects you can make. You can either produce an image with still water or one that’s moving. Both of these types of effects create stunning images, and it is easy to get both in one shot.

Creating water effects comes down to shutter speed. Shutter speed is how fast or slow your camera takes a picture. When you hear a camera click, that’s the shutter closing on the image, capturing it. If the shutter speed is slow, the image is revealed for longer, letting the camera pick up more light and movement. When it’s fast, the image is revealed for a shorter period and the camera can’t pick up on everything.

photographing-water-4

If you want to create still water images, you’ll want to set your shutter speed to a faster setting. Faster settings do allow you to hold the camera (use a strap so it doesn’t fall in). Because the picture doesn’t have a lot of time to capture the image, it will only catch a fraction of what’s going on, leaving you with the illusion that the river or waterfall wasn’t moving at all.

However, if you like the idea of showing motion, and want a streaming-like effect on your images, then use a lower speed. This is where your tripod will come in handy, so the image doesn’t shake. As the image is revealed for a longer period, the camera can pick up on the movement of the water, and track it as it goes along. This allows for the final image to have movement in it.

photographing-water-5

Photographing water can be tricky and dangerous to your camera. But as long as you take proper safety precautions, your camera can help you get the perfect image. Just remember to spend enough time scoping out the perfect shot. And don’t forget to change the shutter speed as you go to get some different effects in your pictures.

Abstract photography – Playing around with your camera

Most of the people start with photography by getting a camera (no matter what type), going out and trying different things. It usually takes a while until one finds what topics or types of photography are the preferred ones and, once that happens, it takes even longer to develop the technique to a relatively good level. What takes even longer, probably a lifetime, is to develop our own vision of that type of photography that we enjoy the most. Making good photos can be difficult, but making unique photos is what makes good photographers stand out and it is indeed the most difficult step of all.

In terms of learning curve, a common problem that arises once we acquired a good technique is one of stagnation. It usually comes a moment in our life as photographers (both amateur and professional) when we find ourselves satisfied with the results we achieve, but where our production rate falls steeply. In fact, for most people, the better one gets as a photographer, the fewer photos one takes and, I think, this is a perfect combination to get us to that stagnation point I mentioned. To get out of that situation it is necessary to find ways to motivate yourself, and trying out different things can be a great idea.

Now, while simply taking a trip or trying a style of photography you are not used to (like, for instance, making some portraits for a landscape photographer) can help you find motivation, today I want to focus on different ways of perceiving and capturing the world with your camera that can be considered as abstract. Some of the ideas I explore in this article are alternate ways of using your gear, while others are just related to the way you look at the world around you. That said, the abstract is a very broad term and creativity has no limits, so don’t be afraid to try different things with your cameras and always be careful with sensitive parts (especially the sensor) when doing so.

Zoom blur

This is probably the easiest way of using your camera in a non-standard way. In fact, you may have probably already tried this but if not, it is worth a shot. You basically need a camera with a manual zoom lens. By manual here I simply mean that you can control the focal length with your hand in contrast to using a motor like in compact cameras. You then compose your image and, while taking the photo, move your zoom (either in or out) so that the movement is captured by the camera. For this, you need a relatively slow shutter speed (about 1/10 should do it) and the trickiest part is to actually move the zoom while taking the photo, not before and not after. Also, since the motion of your hand will surely affect the stability of your camera, you might want to try this with your camera on a tripod. Although the technique is very simple, if you carefully choose your subject it can provide an interesting and visually appealing effect.

abstract02

Leave your lens out

A camera can be clearly divided into two parts: body and lens. The body is simply the interpreter of the incoming light (through a sensor in the case of a digital camera and through the film in the case of analog cameras) and the lens is the part responsible for focusing the incoming light so that the final image makes some sense. Something you can try is to replace the lens of your camera for some other focusing mechanism.

If you take a photo simply without any lens, you will get an almost completely white image without any information on it. However, if you put some type of focusing object between the camera and the subject and play with your exposure times, you can capture the world under a completely different light. As a focusing object you might try things like glasses (crystal works pretty well), narrow apertures (mimicking a pinhole camera) or even liquids; in general, anything that diffracts the light on some way.

abstract01

Be very careful with this experiment and do it only under conditions you can control (preferably indoors). When you take a photo without a lens, for the exposure time you are actually exposing the sensor to the surrounding environment and this can lead to a dirty sensor in the end. In fact, even before exposing the sensor, any dust particle flying around can end up deposited on the mirror of the camera and from there it doesn’t take much until it reaches the sensor!

Abstract compositions

A simpler way to experiment with your camera is by going out and looking at normal subjects from different angles and perspectives. Instead of looking at the global scene in front of you as you usually do, concentrate on small details and, when taking the photo, position yourself in different ways than you normally would. The idea is that, in the end, the photo doesn’t resemble the subject you were capturing, being simply unrecognizable or difficult to identify.

abstract03

These are just three ideas and I am sure you can come up with much more. The main aim is to avoid repetition and routine to prevent you from practicing your skills. Simply go out and play with your camera and your subjects and you might end up pleasantly surprised!

Best 8 Pentax Cameras for Photographers

Well, here we are, it’s time to talk about Pentax. I’m sure it’s a brand name that everyone with any knowledge of photography has heard of but it’s still not nearly as popular these days as some other brands. Some may believe that they have nothing compelling to offer over the competition, others may only remember it as a relic from the past and leave it there and some just don’t care at all and have grown to like the most popular brands and stick with them. The aim of this article is to prove that Pentax is still alive and kicking and that they still possess the tools to make their mark on today’s market.

Our Top 3 Picks

 
Pentax K-1img
  • Pentax K-1
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Professional image quality
  • Price: See Here
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Pentax 645D
  • Pentax 645D
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • 40mpx resolution sensor
  • Price: See Here
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Pentax 645Zimg
  • Pentax 645Z
  • 4.3 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Staggering 51.4mpx sensor
  • Price: See Here
img

Best 8 Pentax Cameras

 

Pentax K-1Go to Amazon
The wait is finally over for a new full-frame DSLR under the Pentax name. This is surely the camera that should put the Pentax name on the lips of many photographers once again and rightfully so.
Watch video review
Overall rating:
79
Features:
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95
100
Image Quality:
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82
100
Performance:
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60
100
Design:
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80
100
Pros
  • Ergonomic Design
  • Improved ISO
  • WiFi capable
  • Great image quality
Cons
  • Pricey
  • Slower than other models of the brand
  • Small LCD display
  • Limited number of lenses available
Click to read the full Review
Pentax K-1 is one of the latest full-frame DSR cameras to have hit the market. The professional camera offers some key features which photographers will find unique including a 36.4MP 35mm sensor. The camera is also equipped with Pixel Shift Resolution equipment capable of delivering super-high-resolution pictures with higher color reproduction accuracy, less noise and finer details. Additionally, it features a 14-bit RAW-uncompressed image recording (PEF or DNG) and innovative prime IV image processing engine.

The camera features a magnesium alloy body and it’s comprehensively sealed. However, despite the many top of the range features, the camera is available at a relatively low price which makes it a great deal to consider. Other features offered by this full-frame DSLR cam include 5-axis image stabilization, 33-point AF system, 100 percent penta-prism viewfinder that has 0.7x magnification, 1/200 flash synchronization speed and AA filter simulation among others.

The Pentax K-1 DSLR camera has a built-in GPS with Astrotracer function and electro-magnetic compass, Wi-Fi and 6.5 fps when in Advanced Photo System type-C crop mode (4.4 fps continuous shooting). K-I also has a lock button, a new feature that helps to lock different dials and control buttons temporarily. Can shoot full HD 1080 videos at a speed of 30 per second.

Flexible and user-friendly

If you are familiar with the K-3 II camera, you will find a lot of similarities especially when it comes to the outward construction. However, the Pentax K-1 is much heavier (1010 grams) when without a memory card or battery and also has bigger dimensions (110(Height) x 136.5(Width) x 85.5(Depth). It is therefore the largest in the family or Pentax DSLR cameras so far.

The DSLR camera is also resistant to dust, water and cold as it is built with 87 special sealing system. It can be used under temperatures reaching -10°C. The K-1’s core photographic capabilities are a noteworthy feature which previous Pentax camera users will find irresistible. The camera has a number of time lapse options and exposure modes but the image mobilization, high resolution sensor, large viewfinder and well positioned dials definitely do stands out when it comes to the functionality. If you are after quality images and ease of use, the Pentax K-1 is the camera to beat.

Dustproof, weather resistant and cold-resistant construction will ensure us the versatility of applications, and can operate at temperatures of up to -10 degrees Celsius.

Pentax 645DGo to Amazon
The less expensive of the two from the 645 lineup, although bearing a quite limited 1.1 fps continuous shooting speed, limited 100-1600 ISO range and no video recording option it still brings a medium format sensor camera in the hands of photographers at the price that is much easier to swallow than some offerings from other competing brands.
Watch video review
Overall rating:
73
Features:
0
65
100
Image Quality:
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100
Performance:
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83
100
Design:
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100
Pros
  • Ideal for Landscape Photography
  • 40mpx Resolution Sensor
  • Dual SDHC card slots
  • Comfortable controls
Cons
  • Really Expensive
  • Issues with Aliasing
  • Produces very large sized RAW Files
Click to read the full Review
If you are looking for a digital medium format sensor with a massive resolution, then Pentax 645D will be a good bet to consider. The camera has a resolution of 40MP and the price is impressive especially considering the quality you get as far as tone capture and details are concerned. Much of the 645D’s handling is close to the one you get from the Pentax K-7 DSLR camera thus making it an ideal cam for landscape photography.

It is however worth noting that this system like a DSLR uses a vertical-run shutter thus denying you the higher flash sync which is achievable with leaf shutters from many other cameras within the competing range. With the CCD sensor, Pentax 645D has an output of 7264×5440 pixels which are captured in 14-bit Raw or JPEG. The camera has a dimension of 44 by 33mm thus making it 1.7 times bigger than the full-frame (35mm) sensors and smaller than the actual 6 by 4.5cm frames. The 645D’s lens has a crop factor of 0.79x.

Ease of use

As with Pentax DSLRs, the 645D has a Prime Engine II processor which provides a conventional ISO 100-1600 range. The model has a 77-segment metering system plus it gives users a choice of partial, spot and evaluation modes, as well as +/-5EV exposure compensation. Another noteworthy feature you get from the model is the new SAFOX IX+ autofocus that offers 11 optional AF points out of which nine are cross-type sensors.

There are many different presets for white balance plus color temperature and manual settings, all with alteration. There is an array of options for the shooting mode with PSAM complemented by a Bulb mode, shutter and Aperture (Tav), sensitivity, user settings and flash sync. On the rear of the camera you’ll find a green button which allows for quick auto setting by pressing once. The Dynamic expansion, in-camera HDR settings and a succession of digital filters are easily accessible from the menus.

Another advantageous feature found in the Pentax 645D is a much larger viewfinder (compared to DSLRs) which makes manual focusing much easier. It also has a 3-inch LCD rear screen with 921k-pixel resolution for displaying digital level or shooting information.

Pentax 645ZGo to Amazon
Compared to it's predecessor it  brings a myriad of necessary improvements like the new 51.4 megapixel sensor, faster 3 fps burst rate, a lot better 100-204800 ISO range, high resolution articulated screen and 1080p video recording and all that at the price point that makes it very competitive in the medium format camera market.
Watch video review
Overall rating:
78
Features:
0
80
100
Image Quality:
0
92
100
Performance:
0
75
100
Design:
0
66
100
Pros
  • Impressive 51.4mpx Sensor
  • Tiltable LCD monitor
  • Full HD and 4K Video Compatible
  • Medium Format DSLR camera
  • Weather Sealed Body
Cons
  • Amazingly Expensive
Click to read the full Review
The Pentax 645Z is a camera with staggering resolution. However, the 51.4M pixel medium-format digital sensor has much to offer beyond the pixels and every professional photographer will find it to be a suitable match for their studio work. The digital sensor has some amazing features but its dimensions are the same as those found in the Pentax 645D at 44 by 33 mm. it therefore goes without saying that the camera has a 35mm lens with 0.8x focal length multiplier.

But while the 645D employed a CCD sensor, the new model has employed a CMOS sensor which is a technology worth noting in addition to the resolution increase. This means that photographers will enjoy the advantage of increased sensitivity up to ISO 100-204,800 from the ISO 100-1600 offered by the 645D. This admirable increase makes the Pentax 645Z much more resourceful while making it ideal not only for landscape and studio photography but also for other types of photography.

The 645Z sensor can capture videos at a resolution of 1920 by 1080 pixels in Full HD at either 24p, 30p or 60i frames per second. The camera doesn’t have AA filter thus making it possible to capture the maximum resolution from the sensor. AA filter simulator feature offered by the camera can however be used in case moiré patterning does become an issue.

The 51.4-million-pixel sensor uses a 3.2-inch, 1.04-million-dot LCD Screen which can be tilted for greater usability thus making it a great tool for landscape images especially when partnered with the live view. When the camera is used with 75mm lens, the magnification of the optical viewfinder reaches 0.85x with 98% view field.

The camera is compatible with Flucards which offer Wi-Fi connectivity thus supporting large image transfer and remote camera control as well. Pentax 645Z has a weather sealed construction thus making it a good investment especially if you are a field photographer. With 14-bit RAW files, the camera is a real deal especially when it comes to potential image malleability during post processing.

Pentax K-70Go to Amazon
Most of the potential camera buyers are always looking for a way to get the most of their hard earned buck and this DSLR is the one that could bring them just that.
Watch video review
Overall rating:
66
Features:
0
55
100
Image Quality:
0
65
100
Performance:
0
70
100
Design:
0
72
100
Pros
  • WiFi capable
  • Image stabilization
  • Articulating Screen
  • Anti-Aliasing filter simulator
  • External microphone port
Cons
  • Low battery life
  • Heavy body
  • No touchscreen
Click to read the full Review
A midrange DSLR camera, the Pentax K-70 is one of the best cameras for outdoor photography. The camera has a 24 megapixel CMOS sensor and it’s the first Pentax DSLR to feature the new on-sensor phase detection. The K-70 can utilize the sensor-shift IS technique for pixel shift mode thus enhancing resolution and reducing color noise. The IS system is also be used to replicate an anti-aliasing system thus enabling users to select whether to use less moiré or maximum resolution.

One of the selling points of the K-70 is its weather-sealed body which has large optical viewfinder plus a 3-inch fully clear LCD offering night vision operation for astrophotography. The K-70 has integrated Wi-Fi and can capture full HD videos 1080p/30p. The DSLR camera also features a hybrid autofocus system that gives contrast-detection and phase-matching focus plus 1080p continuous video focus.

It doesn’t have an anti-aliasing filter but has an AA filter simulator. In addition, it has a special motor for easy aperture adjustment for videos, a tilting and rotating LCD which can be concealed, 1/6000 shutter speed and in-built anti-shake system. There are over 200 lenses compatible with the K-mount.

Pentax K-70 has 100 sealing parts which makes it both weather resistant and dustproof but weather resistant lenses are required if you are shooting under rainy conditions. It can be used in temperatures as low as 14° F (-10° C). Its top ISO of up to 102,400 makes it an ideal camera for capturing images in low light and at night without any disappointments. You can say goodbye to blurry images thanks to the sensor-shift shake reduction system which takes away the need for lenses stabilization.

The K-70 also provides a 4.5 shutter steps compensation effect due to the high-precision gyro sensor. Pentax K-70 is available in silver and black color options.
Pentax K-3 IIGo to Amazon
This is the most advanced camera with an APS-C sensor that you can currently get from Pentax.
Watch video review
Overall rating:
69
Features:
0
80
100
Image Quality:
0
95
100
Performance:
0
40
100
Design:
0
60
100
Pros
  • Solid design
  • Weather-sealed
  • Superb detail quality
  • Compatible with a good amount of lenses
Cons
  • Lacks WiFi
  • Pricey
  • Omits in-camera Flash
Click to read the full Review
For people looking for semi-professional DSLR cameras, the Pentax K-3 II could be a good option to consider. The camera features some striking technologies with the 24MP APS-C sensor standing out as the key feature in this camera. It has an anti-aliasing simulator and pixel Shift Resolution technology capable of delivering excellent high-resolution pictures with less noise, accurate and quality color reproduction, and finer details. K-S II also offers diffraction correction and features a built-in electronic compass, GPS system, 27-point Safox XI-AF element which can be operated at as low as -3EV and enhanced shake-reduction mechanism.

The newer Pentax K-3 II has a faster focus speed and superior autofocus tracking precision in the AF.C mode. Other great features offered by this semi-professional camera include 86,000P RGB light-indicating sensor, full HD 1080p 60fps video, ISO range of ISO100-200, integrated digital filter effects and 8.3fps continuous shooting. The camera also has a cold-resistant, weather-resistant and dustproof construction, 3.2-inch LCD screen with 920k dots, USB 3.0 port, dual SD-card slots and built-in dust removal. Unlike other Pentax DSLR cameras, the K-S II is only available in black body and can be purchases with a 16-85mm WR lens.

Ease of Use

K-3 II is a little bit lighter that its predecessor K-3 camera but fractionally bigger. It weighs roughly 700g without a memory card or battery fitted and has a dimension of 102.5(H) x 131.5(W) x 77.5(D). It offers more than 30 controls externally with most of them having different functions. It’s a bit complex when it comes to functionality but doesn’t feel intimidating or too jumbled despite the many switches and buttons.

On its right-hand side, Pentax K-3 II offers deep, curved handgrip which is coated with rubberized composite for better grip. You can easily reach the shutter buttons with the right forefinger while holding the grip of the camera with three fingers. The RAW.FX button is situated on the front thus enabling for easier setting og image quality to either Adobe DNG or Pentax’s PEF format. The button is also customizable to optionally control digital preview, exposure bracketing, composition or electronic level adjustment.

The autofocus mode button is located underneath the Pentax K-3 II with three different modes (AF-C, AF-A and AF-S). There is also another switch underneath for auto-focusing and changing between manual. In place of the pop-up flash which was in the K-3, the new K-3 II has built-in GPS unit.
Pentax KS-2Go to Amazon
One of the cheapest DSLR camera models we can find from Pentax, but that doesn't mean its quality becomes somewhat disappointing.
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Overall rating:
68
Features:
0
70
100
Image Quality:
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72
100
Performance:
0
80
100
Design:
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50
100
Pros
  • WiFi capable
  • Compact design
  • Mobile LCD screen
  • Weather-sealed
Cons
  • Lacks touchscreen
  • A bit pricey in comparison to competitors
  • May experience some intereference with the shutter in WiFi mode
Click to read the full Review
The Pentax K-S2 is a compact DSLR camera featuring lighted camera controls, LED indicator lights and an eye-catching design. However, beneath this flamboyant exterior are some of the greatest features which make it a unique camera for photography lovers. The DSLR camera is both intuitive and compact with an 18-55mm lens which makes it a friendly tool for different photography genres. The PRIME M Split image processor and 2-MP APS-C CMOS sensor are at the core of Pentax K-S1’s performance enabling users to capture clear and high-detailed pictures with perfect performance at speeds of up to ISO 51200.

The camera also features a number of technologies such as sensor-shift Shake Reduction mechanism that helps take sharp images in shooting conditions that are less than ideal. Although the sensor doesn’t have an anti-aliasing filter, you can put it into simulation mode to reconstruct the effects for use under certain conditions. The DSLR camera is highly responsive with an 11-point SAFOX IXI+ autofocus sensor plus the capacity to capture 5.4fps. The K-S2 can also record full 1080p HD videos.
Other unique features offered by the Pentax K-S2 include HDR shooting and in-body RAW data development. The camera also has enhanced creative filters and modes for improved shots. The K-S2 is compatible with FLUE and Eye-Fi cards thus giving the camera more capabilities.

The camera is packaged with a multipurpose 27-82-5mm corresponding in 35mm format. When shooting in normal out-of-focus areas, the cam uses 6 diaphragm blades. The K-S2 can be operated or stored under temperatures ranging between 0 to 40°C (32 to 104°F). It also features enhanced scene modes, creative modes, auto picture modes and filters which allow for easy adjustment and modification of the general visual look of images in-camera.

The lightweight design of this camera allows for greater portability while the featured SP coating is highly effective in repelling water, dust and grease from the lens elements. With the aspherical lens elements, the K-S1 reduces the chromatic aberrations during the zoom scope while also contributing to produce sharper and clearer images.
Pentax K-50Go to Amazon
Another fine model by Pentax: a 16mpx DSLR camera up to meet most of the challenges you may encounter in your daily life.
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Overall rating:
77
Features:
0
97
100
Image Quality:
0
80
100
Performance:
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60
100
Design:
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70
100
Pros
  • Weather sealing
  • Excellent features
  • Image quality
  • Available in different color combinations
Cons
  • AF loses precision with some lenses
  • Fixed LCD screen
Click to read the full Review
The Pentax K-50 is feature packed, despite the fact that it comes at a unique price. Some of the key features found in the mid-range DSLR camera include 100-51200 ISO range, cold-resistant, weather-resistant, and dustproof construction, Full HD 1080p video recording at 6, 24, 25 and 30 frames per second continuous shooting, series of integrated digital filter effects and SAFOX IX+ AF system with 11-point. The mid-range DSLR camera also features High Dynamic Range system and in-body image stabilization.

Ease of use

With almost 100% viewfinder frame coverage, 100,000 shutter releases, and 920k pixel 3-inch LCD monitor, the K-50 is undoubtedly top of the rank when compared to most other competitors. It also features a matrix meter of 77-segment, automatic lens distortion compensation, live-view plus face recognition, and shake reduction mode. The Pentax K-50 is compatible with Eye-Fi card that supports wireless transmission not to mention that it also comes with lateral chromatic aberrations along with DFA and DA lenses.

The control layout of the K-50 is similar to its predecessor, the K-30, but with the usual appearance and feel instead of the new and more excessive styling found in the K-30 model. The DSLR weighs 590 grams without memory card and battery and has a dimension of 96.5(H) x 129(W) x 70(D). The camera feels pretty solid despite that fact that it is constructed of plastic. It can be operated under at temperatures reaching as low as 14°F (-10°C).

The different buttons of the Pentax K-50 are strategically position for easier reach and this is made even uncomplicated by its smaller size. The mode dial is situated on the top part of the camera body next to the handgrip thus making it easy to make any changes using your right thumb when shooting while at the same time getting a comfortable grip of the camera. With your thumb and forefinger, it will be easy to access the rear and front dials used for aperture and shutter setting changes respectively.

The K-50 comes in three different colors, black, white and red but the color-to-order services from Pentax allows for a wide selection of 120 color combinations.
Pentax Q-S1Go to Amazon
If you thought that a big clunky DSLR or a more manageable mirrorless camera with a large sensor are needed to get the flexibility of changing lenses and manual controls you might be surprised to hear that it’s not the case.
Watch video review
Overall rating:
82
Features:
0
80
100
Image Quality:
0
84
100
Performance:
0
70
100
Design:
0
92
100
Pros
  • Compact format
  • Near silent shutter
  • In-body stabilization
  • Quick and efficient menu
Cons
  • Small sensor
  • ISO values over 1000 add lots of noise
  • Pricey
  • LCD hard to see in sunlight
Click to read the full Review
It has a reputation of being the smallest compact structure camera in the world but there are many other things which make the Pentax QS-1 a unique choice for many photographers. The most amazing thing with the camera, however, is that the lenses are interchangeable with 8 difference lenses available for this mount. The QS-1 features a 3-inch TFT LCD, 12.4MP 1/1.7-inch backlit complementary metal-oxide semiconductor sensor (CMOS). Other features include 1080p Full HD video recording, 460,000 dot color monitor, and an ISO range of between 100 and 12,800 and SD card compatibility. Both the QS-1’s lens and body are available in a wide range of different colors which creates a blend of 40 different colors.

Ease of use

One of the major pluses in the Pentax QS-1 is the decent range within which the dials and buttons are positioned. The key controls are within a modest reach with the mode dial being located on the top part of the cam to help switch between various exposure modes including movie mode, shutter priority, fully automatic and aperture priority.

The camera’s shutter release button is also found along the mode dial but it is raised a little bit from the body of the camera for easier access. You will also find a second dial used for performing multiple tasks based on your shooting mode and an on/off button button on top of the camera body
Other buttons available with the Pentax QS-1 include the playback button and flash pop-up switch. The hotshoe is also found on top of the QS-1 camera and this can be used to attach external accessories such as viewfinder or flash in case there is need.

Other buttons can be found on the back of the camera and in a well-organized manner. One of the buttons include the +/- exposure compensation push button to help in the adjustment of exposure compensation whenever you are shooting in semi-automatic or automatic modes. The switch can also be used to switch between aperture priority and shutter speed when using the camera in manual mode. Unless you are using the Pentax QS-1 camera under extremely bright sunlight, the screen allows you to enjoy a good view since it is both clear and bright with limited amount of glare or reflection.
Pentax KPGo to Amazon
This camera is the newest edition to Pentax’s lineup of midrange DSLRs.
Overall rating:
82
Features:
0
86
100
Image Quality:
0
71
100
Performance:
0
89
100
Design:
0
80
100
Pros
  • Excellent image quality
  • Great low light performance
  • 100% viewfinder
  • Magnesium alloy body
  • Weather sealing
  • Fast AF system
  • Wi-Fi Capable
  • In-body image stabilization
Cons
  • Subpar video quality
  • Unimpressive battery life
  • No 4K recording
  • No touchscreen
  • Average screen resolution
Click to read the full Review
It comes equipped with a new 24-megapixel APS-C sensor which promises improved low-light performance over the older sensors and also ups the maximum ISO sensitivity to 819200. It’s also one of the first DSLRs to feature an electronic shutter which gives it the ability to shoot at an impressively high shutter speed of 1/24000 sec.

As is the case with most Pentax cameras, the KP also features a body that’s made to high standards, and that’s also weather sealed. Other features include a 27-point phase detect AF system, sensor-shift image stabilization, 100% accurate pentaprism viewfinder, 7 fps burst rate, Wi-Fi and a microphone jack.

It also features the Pixel Shift Resolution mode which combines multiple photos into one cleaner photo with more accurate colors and less noise. The KP is also able to record videos at 1080p resolution and at 60 fps which are a step up from the usual 30 fps mode, but still not as good as having the ability to record 4K footage.

Selection Criteria

There are a lot of important factors to consider when complaining a list like this one and picking the best cameras out of the bunch isn’t always an easy thing to do. The first thing we had to do is to figure out the most logical way to separate each camera into a set number of points that perfectly describe its feature set and overall capabilities. After a long though process, we decided on a list of nine most important factors that will allow us to easily differentiate one camera from another and let you choose the best one for you with more ease. Let us examine each of those in more detail, so you can get a better understanding of how we decided what cameras deserve to be on this list.

Design – While it may sound like something that is purely subjective and only relates to how good are the looks of a particular camera, it is also something that relates to how its built and is it comfortable to use. It’s important to find a camera which has the right balance between an attractive design and comfort, but since your camera is primarily a tool for taking photos and videos we will always favor functionality over good looks in our reviews.

Price/Product rate – It’s true that there is a number of professional users out there who aren’t worrying too much about the asking price for their cameras because they need the best of the best for their work and can’t satisfy with anything less. Most of the users, however, are always on a look out for a product with a great price to features ratio and we will gladly help them in making the right decision. When choosing a camera to feature on a particular list, we are always looking for a product that offers enough compelling features no matter its price point, so the end user ultimately feels happy about their purchase and that they are sure that their hard-earned money was well spent.

Weight – While it’s not the most important factor when choosing a new camera, it certainly is when you’re buying one that you’re planning to carry with you often or if you’re, for example, travelling a lot and you don’t want to be burdened by the weight of your camera too much and enjoy your trip instead. This is especially important in the case of a compact and mirrorless camera, where portability is one of their main selling points. You also need to take into account the build quality, which will also add some grams to the total weight of the camera. So, you’ll need to decide if you want a camera that’s lighter and easier to work with or you want a more durable and substantial camera that will be slightly less portable.

Waterproof capabilities – Protection from the elements may not be the first thing on someone’s mind when buying a device with electronics inside of it, but many advanced and professional users who are always shooting in different weather conditions find this an important factor when buying a new camera. To keep things in the right perspective, we usually won’t judge an entry-level or even a mid-range camera on the account of its water or dust proof capabilities, but we certainly will for a more expensive one where it’s expected that it has enough protection to be able to withstand any shooting scenario you throw at it and work its magic any time of the day.

Grip – One of the most important things to consider about your new potential purchase. It’s of utmost importance that the camera is designed in a way that it fits comfortably and securely in your hand without any chance of being dropped while you’re shooting with it or simply holding it while walking or taking a look at the scenery. This is where some manufacturers drop the ball when designing a camera with all metal or all plastic construction, but without the necessary parts that provide a good grip like some rubber or faux leather accents on the front and the back of the camera. What’s also important, especially with larger cameras, is that it has a deep enough grip on its front and the one that allows for your fingers to comfortably wrap around it and allow you to hold your camera with confidence and without the fear of dropping it.

Image quality – This is possible one of the main reasons to why someone decides to buy a dedicated camera. While there are many other benefits to buying a camera, as stated on this list of different metrics, image quality may be the one that takes the cake. It’s true that our smartphones have become very capable in taking decent looking photos and videos, but a lot of them still haven’t come close to most compact cameras in terms of image quality, let alone more advanced ones. So, there’s a big chance that you’re looking into buying a dedicated camera to get even better quality photos or videos and you’ll want to know how capable each model of camera is in this regard. When examining image quality of a particular camera we are always taking into account things like sharpness, color balance, noise performance, dynamic range, JPEG algorithms, lens quality and sometimes even of features that allow you to tinker with the look of your photos directly from the camera itself like different filters and picture styles. You can rest assured that you’ll easily be able to pick a camera from our list if image quality is one of your most important factors when buying a new camera.

Adaptability – The importance of adaptability varies from one type of camera to another and so does its importance as a factor to take into account when purchasing a new camera. So, it depends if you’re buying, for example, a compact camera which usually isn’t very expendable and are made to work out of the box and with almost no input from the users aside from using the camera. On the other hand, mirrorless cameras and DSLRs are a completely different story. It’s important that they don’t come with proprietary, but with universally compatible connectors for accessories like flashes, microphones, headphones or memory cards, so a lot of choices can be given to users in choosing the right one for them. Even more important is the choice of lenses that are given at your disposal. While most of the camera manufacturers offer a decent selection of first-party lenses, some of them don’t offer much in terms of alternatives coming from third-party companies. We will certainly take something like into account when choosing the right camera for you and make sure you’ll be covered as much as possible in this regard.

Ease of use – Making an intuitive user interface that’s easy to navigate and a control layout that won’t require you to re-learn everything you already know about using a camera should be a top priority for every camera manufacturer out there; yet, it isn’t. For this reason, we will always carefully examine each and every camera and make sure that using it won’t become a chore no matter if you’re a beginner or an advanced user. We will also see how much the camera offers in terms of customization and how well it can adapt to your certain needs. This is especially important for mid-range cameras and above, where having a lot of programmable controls and different quick menus is always a desirable thing to have. If we’re talking about a beginner’s camera, we will make sure it has enough modes and features that will help you learn your way around photography and figure out how a particular camera works. No matter the camera type, this is certainly one of the most important things to look for and we’ve certainly got you covered.

Availability – Since we are always dealing with products that come from very respectable and globally familiar brands, availability often isn’t a big issue, except in the case where the camera becomes outdated and it stops being manufactured. When that happens, we’ll make sure to update our articles to bring you the newest models possible, so this potential problem can be avoided in its entirety. Other than that, all of our cameras can easily be purchased online and so can every important piece of gear that they can be equipped with.

FAQs

What’s the best Pentax camera on this list?

That would be the K-1. It’s the latest full-frame offering coming from Pentax and offers a lot in terms of image and build quality and also in terms of useful features like in-body image stabilization, Pixel Shift Resolution and weather sealing. If you’re looking for a Pentax camera to cover all of your needs, this is the one.

Which one of these cameras could be considered the best buy product?

There are a lot of cameras coming from Pentax that would fit very well into this category, but our pick would be the K-70. It is one of the one most well-rounded cameras on this list that you can get. It offers a very capable 24-megapixel sensor, built-in image stabilization, a 100% accurate viewfinder, rugged body and decent performance. In a nutshell, it’s hard to beat such a camera at its price point.

I’m looking for a camera with excellent battery life, which one should I pick?

While the Pentax K-1 offers a slightly better endurance, if battery life is something you’re after, then it makes much more sense to invest in the K-3 II. You’ll be able to get around 720 per charge if you’re primarily shooting through the viewfinder, which is an excellent endurance for any DSLR.

I need a compact camera that will easily fit in my pocket or my purse, which one should I get?

Well, the only camera on this list that fits that description perfectly is the Pentax Q-S1. Not only is it one of the smallest cameras we’ve seen in the last couple of years, but it also comes with one very unique feature and that’s the ability to swap lenses just like on any other mirrorless camera or a DSLR. It also offers larger than average sensor, good build quality, a respectable amount of control and it even comes in a variety of different colors so you can easily pick a color combination that speaks to you the most.

I need a camera that provides great image quality and that’s also rugged and weather resistant, but I don’t have the budget to pay the premium price that these types of cameras usually carry with them. Is there a camera for me out there?

Well, luckily for you, there is. Pentax has made the KS-2 especially with users like you in mind. It comes at a very competitive price point, but it also offers a capable 20-megapixel sensor, sensor-shift image stabilization, a big, bright and accurate viewfinder as well as having weather resistance. It sports a unique design among all the other DSLRs, which is also to be appreciated if you care about your camera’s looks.

I’m currently using a compact camera as my main photography device and I’m looking to make an upgrade to a DSLR, but without having to spend too much money. I’m also what can be considered a beginner in photography, so I want it to be simple to use as well. What model would you recommend me?

That certainly has to be the Pentax K-50. It’s an entry-level DSLR that is catered both to those users who are just learning about photography and want to enter into the world of DSLRs as well as those who need a camera that takes good photos, but without all the hassle of it having to be set up each time you want to take a picture. Interestingly enough, despite its low price it still offers better than average image quality, weather and dust resistance, a 100% accurate viewfinder, in-body image stabilization and a respectable burst rate of 6 fps. It’s a camera that clearly tries to punch above its weight in some of its aspects and that’s something that’s always commendable.

I’m currently doing some research about medium format cameras and I’m trying to decide if they are worth of the hefty investment over something like a full frame camera. I’m curious of how the two offerings from Pentax stand in regard to how much they offer for their asking price and do they really offer enough in terms of features over a regular camera. Can you clarify it for me a little?

Well, the first thing you should know is that medium format cameras aren’t the types of cameras that were imagined as mainstream products and that they are only meant to be used for certain types of jobs. They are catered to those situations where having a lot of megapixels is a desirable thing to have and sharpness and detail in your photos is of utmost importance. So, they are especially appreciated by portrait and landscape photographers, as well as those who are used to making very large prints for their photos. The Pentax 645D and 645Z aren’t the best medium format cameras on the market, but they are unbeatable in one important regard; their price. You really can’t find any other cameras on the market that offer all the benefits of having a medium format sensor, but with such a low asking price (for a medium format camera anyway). So, if you see yourself as a photographer that fits well into everything we’ve said about medium format cameras, that you should seriously consider investing in one. If not, then get a full-frame or an APS-C camera and you’ll still be able to get some great looking photos, but for a lot less money.

Is Pentax really back in terms of being competitive on the camera market once again or is Ricoh just trying to sell unimaginative products under a familiar name to try to appeal to those who were urging for a new Pentax camera for all these years?Pentax is certainly back and in full force. They are competing well at every price point and trying very hard to prove their worth to you once again. We are very impressed with all the cameras they have to offer, from the little but powerful Q-S1, to a competitively priced powerhouse such as the K-70, to their latest and greatest full-frame offering the K-1. Each of these cameras and ones in between them offer great image and build quality as well as some unique features of their own and each of them is fairly priced for what they have to offer. Pentax has even gone that far to use their expertise to make two unique medium format cameras, like the 645D and the 645Z, which is something that not many of the current camera manufacturers can brag about. There is one area where their cameras still need some noticeable improvement and that’s video recording. We hope that Pentax will improve on that in the next iteration of their cameras, so they will really make all-around great products that are worthy of such a familiar and well-respected brand name.

How To Pack Your Photography Gear For All Means Of Transportation When Traveling

The most important thing before traveling abroad for a photographer is the packing. And the packing, though it might seem simple, largely depends on the means of transportation you are going to use. If you want to take proper care of your gear, you must be aware of things that you should and shouldn’t do when packing for your trip.

The way different means of transportation affect your packing is basically determined by regulations, convenience, and safety.

Traveling By Plane

We will start off with the most complicated means of transport for a photographer. This is due to the fact that traveling by plane means loads of regulations for your baggage and loads of risks for it too. Not to be ranting, but airlines basically don’t care about convenience when it comes to baggage. Nor do they care about photographers in general. There are cases where a rocket blower (that rubber thingy you use for blowing off the dust from the lens and sensor) can be confiscated because supposedly you can turn that into a real rocket.

Anyhow, one thing that I strongly advise against is packing your gear for off-cabin baggage. Airlines don’t handle those carefully – the bags are tossed from and to the plane, basically risking loads of damage if there is anything fragile inside, like camera gear for example.

Kata R-102
Photo by Khedara ආරියරත්න 蒋龙, on Flickr.

Next thing to have in mind is that you should pack your gear in the cabin bag (whether you choose small or large is up to you). However, the cabin bags are limited by dimensions, so make sure your camera bag fits ALL of them, or else they will force you to repack, or pay the premium for a larger cabin bag (if you have chosen to use the smaller one).

Traveling By Bus Or Train

Unlike air transport, bus or train usually don’t have luggage limits. The only limit is your capability of carrying the baggage since you’ll have to do it manually. The things you should consider in these scenarios, however, are gear damage and gear theft. Buses tend to have a rough ride, therefore having your gear in a suitcase and tossed in the trunk of the bus kind of comes out of the question, since it is not really safe. Then again you can pack it in a carry-on bag and have it on you at all times. This works for trains as well, with the difference being that the suitcase will be with you as well.

In the training scenario, you’ll have two bags to worry about, which makes you distracted. This helps thieves rip you off more easily, so in this scenario, you’ll have to make sure that the bag with the camera gear is secured well enough that it can’t be accessed without your knowing. My camera bag, for example, opens from the inside, meaning that as long it is on my back, it can’t be opened.

An additional note: make sure that you aren’t obvious about the value of the gear you are hauling. In fact, if possible get a bag that doesn’t say it is a camera bag by the looks of it. There are camera bags with camera prints on the design, and they are too obvious for their value. Subtle, efficient, and functional is what you are after.

Traveling By Car

This one is basically the simplest one of them all. Pack as much gear as you want. Better said, pack as much gear as your car can handle. However, bear the following things in mind. Cars are easy to break into, therefore if the gear is still in your car – don’t leave it unattended. Cars get hot quite fast if left in the sun, your gear will probably be fine if it’s turned off, but the batteries don’t handle the heat that well. An overheated lithium battery can set your whole car on fire. Not to raise any panic here: lithium ion batteries are quite stable, and it takes a lot to set one on fire. Car temperature probably won’t cook a battery past the critical point (if the battery is healthy), however, it can be a risk with third party batteries, or a battery that has already been damaged (and you can’t always notice the damage). So, take heed.

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Photo by Sean Yu, on Flickr.

Additionally, when traveling by car, make sure your gear has some damping material around each piece. Camera bags usually have enough of it, but it doesn’t hurt to add some more if you have space. I usually tend to use old t-shirts for this purpose, as I can wrap them around a lens and pack it inside the bag. Make sure the bag is secured enough in the trunk so it doesn’t move around, or bounce and collide with other things. Keep the car servicing tools on the opposite side of the trunk. You don’t want a crowbar hitting the camera bag now, do you?

Summary

Your gear will last as long as you take care of it. Traveling can be pretty harsh on your gear, therefore being smart about packing can make a huge impact on the life of your gear, and thus your pocket. You should be the most careful in planes and trains, since they are hardest to manage when it comes to packing and traveling.

Why Film Camera Photography is Making a Comeback

We may have all thought that film was dead with the advent of digital photography. Millions of people switched over to digital and many film companies went out of business. However, like vinyl records, there are those who still use film, and they swear by it. Now, more and more people are going back to analog because it has a unique style to it that they want. Call it a hipster trend if you want, but the truth is that film isn’t going anywhere.

Why Film?

Digital photography is a product of our instant oatmeal society. We take a picture and we delete it, put it in a folder and forget about it, or put it on Facebook. There is no reason to keep anything. You can take 1,000 pictures and choose one great one. The laws of averages dictate that is going to be the case. With analog, you have to be choosier. You have to really want that image because you only have so much film. There are no duck-faced selfies here, just planned out photos that are a step above the rest.

In addition, film just happens to feel better. Like a vinyl record, with the scratches serving as part of the experience, film is slow, it feels different, the cameras sound different and the lighting is captured differently. Like vinyl, there’s a real retro feel – not just in the image, but in the process. Sure, you can edit digital images now to create a retro look in post production, but there’s a romanticism with film.

It forces you to think of things in a whole new way. To shoot analog, you have to throw out everything you know about digital, and learn a new skillset that could make you a better photographer all around.

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The Advantages of Film

There are many advantages that film has over digital cameras. For one thing, with digital, the sensor determines your resolution. The better the sensor, the better the image itself. With film, you don’t have pixels and you don’t have resolution. You have pure images captured in beautiful, crisp reality. Yes, the type of film and the camera will dictate the image quality, but overall what you capture is what you get. No pixels getting in the way. Depending on the film, you are going to get between four and 16 million pixels. One study found that medium format film – the kind most people use because it is middle-of-the-road – has 400 MP resolution. That is by far more than any digital camera on the market today.

Another advantage is that your analog image is going to be unique because of the film grain, which is the chemical particles that did not receive enough light. Unlike digital noise that looks awful, film grain can really add to the image and give it something unique, like a fingerprint.

The dynamic range of the film camera is another advantage over a digital camera, although less so now. Most film cameras have 13 stops of dynamic range, while most digital cameras are slightly below that.

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Lastly, when you are shooting in low light conditions with a digital camera, you may get a great deal of digital noise. This can make the picture look simply awful. It is something that must be avoided, but it can be hard to if you don’t have a top of the line camera.

Old school, analog cameras tend to have better sensors for this type of scenario without sacrificing any of the movement speed you may need.

Should You Switch?

The short answer is that no, you should not. Digital cameras have many advantages and are really great machines to have at your disposal. When you need a lot of pictures and don’t want to waste a lot of time on them, go with digital. That being said, there is nothing wrong with having a film camera at your disposal. This can help you begin to appreciate how pictures were taken in the past, but it can also get you to think about new ways to get images. You will learn how to develop images, how to position things for the perfect setting. In many ways, film cameras are a great way to learn how to take pictures because everything needs to be right so you don’t end up wasting any film. In that regard, they are a training tool for the new photographer.

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No, film is not going to overtake digital cameras. With every cell phone now having a camera inside, there is no chance of that happening. That being said, film is still holding on and it is not going to disappear completely. There are far too many people who want to use these retro-style cameras to capture unique images that will stand out and really make your images snap. Embrace the future of photography, but also don’t forget about the past. Take a turn with a film camera and you will be happy you did, because they are something truly unique and truly special to use.

11 Tips for handling camera-shy models

The photo session day has arrived. You organized everything carefully. You feel confident. Everything is going to work well. You are going to rock it! You meet with your client at the scheduled time. It is a couple session. You have been talking with her these last 2 weeks and got everything set. But you don’t know him. And it is right now, just some minutes before the photo session starts, that you discover that he is camera-shy and he hates photos!! Oh no!!! He is not cooperating… he looks as lively and happy as a salted fish and his skin tones are even paler… Your confidence vanishes. How are you going to take nice photos when he doesn’t even want to be there? You are supposed to take photos of the couple showing that they are happy!! What can you do now? Sessions including camera-shy models can be challenging, but they are not impossible. Keep in mind these tips for handling camera-shy models. They can truly change the mood of the photo session.

Handling camera-shy models
This is Avraham, my husband. He agreed to be my model for this photo session.

#1 Don’t jump the gun (or the camera)!

Spend some time talking with them before you get down to business, even before you take out the camera, if possible. Get to know them a little before taking the camera out of your bag and let them to get comfortable with you. Try to ask them about things that put them in a good mood: what they like to do in their free time, about travelling, their favorite restaurant… As a photographer your responsibility is to keep a relaxed atmosphere along the photo session. In fact, the best thing for you to do is to make the photo session not to feel like a photo session at all. It should be more like a friendly meeting.

#2 Explain to them how the photo session is going to be

Shy people usually don’t like the feeling of not knowing what is going to happen next. Give your client an explanation about the photo session. Make them feel like they don’t have to worry about anything. Let them understand that the experience should be fun and that they are not being judged by anyone and that they are not obligated to do anything they don’t want to do.

#3 Ask them not to look at the camera

Looking straight at the camera can be intimidating, and it is not necessary in order to get great photos. They can look to the infinite or at somebody else and the results will be awesome.

Handling camera-shy models
Looking at the camera can be intimidating. For that reason I always tell my models that they don’t have to do it all the time. Photos like this one of Avraham looking at the side have a more candid look and they are also interesting. What was he looking at?

#4 Take out stress about posing

Tell them that you have a list of poses (even better if you show them the poses briefly using a tablet, a phone, or even a folder with prints) and they don’t have to be imaginative or creative about the poses. Even if they don’t know how to do, you can rescue them with your poses list. However, make clear that they don’t have to copy the poses. They are just an inspiration and they can adjust them to their taste. This is kind of magic. You will see that they check the poses’ list at the beginning, but soon they won’t need them anymore. It is like a placebo. If they get to the point of proposing you some poses, let them do it, even if you don’t like their ideas. First of all this will bust their confidence and second, you might be surprised of the result. Never underestimate the ideas of your clients.

#5 Pose with them

I do the poses with them and I tell them my experiences posing. I like trying the poses I prepare for my clients because then I can understand what they will feel. Honestly, there are some poses that look awesome but you feel pretty stupid while you are doing them. Have you ever tried posing? It is not so easy! Do it and you will have an insight of your client’s perspective. Joke about this. Make them understand that you relate with them.

#6 Start the photo session with easy poses

Make it easy at the beginning and keep more complicated poses for when the client feels at ease. Easy poses are those in which they are doing something (fixing their clothes, talking with somebody, and holding a prop they like…), sitting or leaning on something (a tree, a wall or a fence). There is nothing worse than leaving a camera-shy person posing doing nothing in the middle of an empty space. They will feel like running away from you and your camera.

Handling camera-shy models
If you just tell your model to stand in an empty space, in front of the camera without anything to do, they will feel uncomfortable for sure. Look at Avraham’s face in this photo. I was sure he was going to tell me that he was done with the photo session.
Handling camera-shy models
If you give the model something to do, things will get better. Here I just told Avraham to sit down and the improvement from the previous photo is clear, isn’t it?

#7 Make them move

This tip is related with the previous one. Standing still can feel awkward. But tell people to start walking towards you or far from you and good mood will start flowing again. A fun one is making them walk away from you and at some point you tell them: Look at me!! This is the moment when you take the photo. People usually like this strategy: easy, they don’t have to be looking at the camera (or you) for long and have good results.

Handling camera-shy models
Tell your model to move. Just a simple walk will give them something to do that feels natural.

#8 Make them do something silly and do it with them

There are a lot of silly things you can make them do. The idea is to take photos of all the process and especially of the laughs after! Some things you can try are: make them show emotions like happiness, sadness, madness, disgust… You can have a list ready and go from emotion to emotion fast. The faster the better. At some point they will start laughing and here you will have your best shot! You can also make them fake their laugh. This will make them laugh a lot after it.  Remember you are making them being silly. It is important that you will be silly too!! Making one person to look silly meanwhile you look wonderful is not fair. You are all in the same boat!

Handling camera-shy models
I told Avraham to be silly! And he did!! Here he was exaggerating his facial expressions so much that even I was laughing. Is this picture good? Of course not!! But I was not aiming for having this photo. I was aiming for the photos after the silly face.

Handling camera-shy models

After doing some silly faces, models can’t hold their laugh any more. You can see here Avraham laughing after all the silly things he did. He is showing a beautiful and natural smile. Note that he is kind of blurry. I was laughing so hard from the silly faces that I was not able to hold the camera without shaking it. Be aware that this can happens and wok with fast shutter speeds!

#9 Encourage them along the photo session

Show them the photos you are taking and tell them how well the photo shoot is going. Positive feedback encourages people and keeps them in a good mood. Let’s face it. We all like to know how well we are doing!

#10 Create an ice breaker

It can be useful to have something ready to make people laugh and relax. If you are good telling jokes, go for it!! I am not so good on that, so I use a toy as an ice breaker. Yes, you read well: I use a toy. It is mostly for family sessions, but I use it for both kids and adults. My toy is not a common one. Besides being a photographer, I am a biologist. For that reason, a friend gave me a plush Herpes Virus doll as a birthday present. It is in fact lovely Herpes. For kids it looks like a sun. Adults can’t stop laughing when I explain to them the story of the toy “A friend gave me Herpes for my birthday” and I say things like “Eihhh everybody…look at my Herpes”. I guess it is so unexpected that it is fun. You don’t need specifically a Herpes toy, but it is good to have something that will make your clients relax a little”

Handling camera-shy models
Here is my Herpes. Isn’t it lovely? It is great for kids because it looks like a sun and also for adults because it gives a humoristic relieve.

#11 Ask in advance if there are camera shy people in the photo session

Knowing if you will need to work with a camera-shy person will help you to organize a more appropriate photo session.

I hope you find these tips useful. Although they are mostly for camera-shy people, I admit that I use them on all my clients. They are helpful even just to create a good vibe. They also help when your client is stressed (for their own problems) or tired. Making your clients feel relaxed and laugh a little is always a good thing. It doesn’t matter if they are camera-shy or not.

Let me know if you tried some of these tips and how it turned out! Have a happy shooting!!

The Evolution of Mobile Photography

The term “Mobile Photography” has gained more popularity since the past 2-3 years as technology continues to advance in smartphone cameras. Back in time we held smartphones from Nokia/Siemens/Sony Ericson or may be Samsung that had VGA cameras or even basic cameras. In those times, having a camera in itself was a big deal for us. As it gave us the advantage of capturing moments and keeping those memories. Today, our cameras have advanced tremendously that we can even earn some money from Mobile Photography.

The term “Photography” was slightly restricted and specific to only Digital Cameras and DSLRs has now evolved into Mobile. Many photographers who are used to carrying their heavy DSLRs have started to use more and more of their iPhones or other smartphones to shoot.

India Gate - Nokia N97 India Gate – Nokia N97 Yellow Rose - iPhone 3GS Yellow Rose – iPhone 3GS

The quality seen in images today in comparison to olden days is huge. Sometime in April, an instagram account and app @doyouskrwt asked a question on Instagram “Mobile Photography is shifting – more and more people are going for a bigger camera. Do you think mobile photography will be a thing the next years or is it going to decrease drastically in near future?” Many people including myself agreed that it definitely will keep increasing considering, “technology advances – smartphones advances – camera in smartphone advances” (Jonathan @kennedyirl). The responses also discussed the quality of images. There is no denying that the DSLRs quality still reigns far superior to smartphones but, having a smartphone nowadays for those who enjoy photography is an asset. Like Florian @flori_anz_enk put it nicely saying “I guess it will be a combination of a great smartphone and an advanced camera. I am using two Sony Alpha 7/a7s for portraits, events, and weddings and for everything else my iPhone 6s. Smartphones are so versatile and you can go into stealth mode when it comes to discrete street photography. I love both and use it for completely different styles of photography.”

Hongkong - iPhone 3GS Hongkong – iPhone 3GS Flower Market Hongkong - iPhone3GS Flower Market Hongkong – iPhone3GS

Taking photos with our mobile phones has not just become a matter of passion but a trend. Although, many times our Instagram feeds are filled with unlimited and unnecessary selfies and a display of personal activities. Keeping aside the unnecessary, we come across many talents with wonderful feeds not forgetting the various hubs that have cropped up to expose Mobile Photography. Many of these photographers have started a business, gained partnerships with famous companies and achieved recognition. However, this creates a tough competition between Photographers using DSLRs. The popularity of mobile photographers can remain inconsistent as many times their interest in photography is only for a short time span or to gain fame.

Seattle - iPhone 4S Seattle – iPhone 4S by Bridgette Shima (@bridgette.xo)

Personally for me, having the iPhone handy to capture whenever I like has made me enjoy capturing moments even more. I do use a semi-pro-Canon camera which allows me to use manual controls and gives more satisfaction in terms of image quality. The availability of various apps with impressive editing features allows me to capture, create and instantly share on social media platforms. Some platforms like Eyeem allow us to sell our photos which are a great feature for budding photographers.

Fresh Vegetables - iPhone 5 Fresh Vegetables – iPhone 5 Landscape - iPhone 5 Landscape – iPhone 5

There is a vast difference in the quality of photos that can be seen through the Nokia N97 to iPhone 6S. You will notice with the Nokia N97, the image captured was pretty crisp and clear. The iPhone 3GS has improved the quality of images with more details in the capture. In some instances, the clarity depends on the lighting and exposure. For macro shots simply using iPhone 3GS, as you can see in the Yellow Rose above, it has a perfect composition defining the rose beautifully without needing any major edits. The image quality and composition balance continues to evolve with every iPhone (mobile phone). What I have noticed is from iPhone 3GS to iPhone 6S some of the elements in the camera are stable but, crisper and the noise is far lesser in the current iPhone 6S. Zooming was not encouraged in previous smartphones, however, as you see below, the zoom feature in the current iPhone 6S works well for a mobile phone as it doesn’t compromise the quality of the photo.

Museum Proklamasi Indonesia (Jakarta) - iPhone 6S Museum Proklamasi Indonesia (Jakarta) – iPhone 6S

Over the years, the pixels have increased to improve image quality and to allow larger size printing. The noise has been reduced to a greater extent enabling us to create spotless images. This allows photographers to be able to have the convenience of capturing without having to carry their heavy gears. Currently, smartphone companies are starting to create smartphone cameras with dual cameras whereby one camera would have higher specifications enabling to take even greater quality photos. Some mobile phone companies also use Carl Zeiss Lens like the Nokia Lumia. The Nokia Lumia is known to have a very good camera despite its limitations as far as editing apps are concerned. An article on Nokia Lumia was written by a good friend Bridgette Shima can be read here.

Raindrops - iPhone 6S Raindrops – iPhone 6S

In conclusion, I would say it has been quite interesting to see how mobile photography has progressed and continues to evolve. I wouldn’t say it can reach DSLR quality in a short span of time but having the option of using a smartphone is a big deal for all photographers. Photography is not just a passion or hobby but a profession for many people. Hopefully, mobile photographers can also walk hand in hand to learn from Professional Photographers and inspire all photographers everywhere to keep clicking.

70-200mm Lens – How to Avoid Blurring?

It’s very common among the professional Canon users to grab our 70-200mm lens for indoor as well as for outdoor shoots. The lens is one of the top choices for portraits and product photography due to its versatility and interesting zoom range.

Lens Overview

Speaking of this versatile and powerful Canon lens, we can start to say that it was launched in 2010 as an update of the EF 70 – 200 mm F2.8 L IS USM from 2001. With a gap of 9 years and considering the advances in the technology of DSLR cameras, Canon redesigns this powerhouse by improving both the stabilization and optics, as well as autofocus and its design.

Optics consists of 23 elements in 19 groups, including more than 5 of them with the Ultra-Low Dispersion technology (UD), plus one with Fluorite Coating. The reason? Reducing the Chromatic Aberration of the lens.

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Built-in metal, we are not talking about a light lens; however, it compensates for the weight with its excellent image quality and enhanced protection in regards to dust that can enter our camera, in addition to being weather sealed.

The Autofocus motor belongs to the technology of Canon Ultrasonic Motor (USM), being extremely agile while maintaining a silent profile.

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Photo courtesy of Eric Schaffer

The price is something to consider in this lens since we are talking about high-end equipment for what should not amaze us that its initial price is higher than $1500.

The only difficulty that photographers face while using the lens is its weight. A Canon 70-200mm [ f 2.8 IS II ] lens weighs approximately 1600 gms. So, this lens when mounted on a full-frame camera like Canon 5D Mark III weighs almost 2.5 kilograms.

When weight matters

So, how do you take a sharp photograph while holding so much weight in your hand? You might use a tripod to bring in the extra support, balance, and stability. But do tripods work during all circumstances? Not really. How far does ‘Image Stabilisation’ in your lens, help? Not very much. True, it provides the minor stabilization features that you need and but that’s not all.

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The way you hold your lens plays a major role. It can sometimes be the ‘break-it’ or ‘make-it’ factor for your photographs.

We are assuming here that you will be using the kit (Canon 5D MK III + Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens) handheld and not by tripod mounted. The first thing to do is to rotate the tripod collar from the bottom side of the lens(while mounted with the camera) towards the top side. This way, the tripod collar won’t obtrude and disturb your grip with the lens.

Kindly note: Indoor shoots are tripod-mounted most of the time. So this article may not be applicable to you. But for those who shoot by hand-held devices, this article might be helpful.

A quick but effective solution

So, like I mentioned earlier, the way you hold the lens while shooting may affect your photograph, for good or for worse. Most of the time, we tend to hold the lens somewhere on its collar ( really close to the body of the camera). I used to do this too in my earlier days as a photographer. This helps us control the zoom ring better while composing the photograph. True, but it also indirectly affects the balance in your focus. This sometimes results in blurred images and lesser sharpness. This is because of improper positioning of your palm by the lens. By supporting the lens at the collar location by your palm you are letting more weight towards the front side of the lens which leads to improper balance and with blurred photographs.photographer-1191562_1920This can be overcome by slightly shifting your palm position towards the front side of the lens, which means you need to place your palm almost on the zoom ring. As soon as you shift your palm towards the front end of the lens, you immediately feel the perfect balance of weight while holding. But this situation restricts the zooming ability immediately before you press the shutter button. You have to be prepared in advance, as you cannot zoom as you used to before. Get your frame right, compose what you need and then click away!27010607034_afe1fb94d0_k

Photo courtesy of Pengcheng Pi

We hope this article helped ease your discomfort while shooting using the 70-200mm lens.

Please leave your comments below and let us know about your experience. 🙂

Header photo courtesy of Francesca Pippi

Fujifilm X-Pro2 In-Depth Review of the Mirrorless Camera

Fujifilm X-Pro2Go to Amazon
If there’s one adage that reigns supreme in user interface design, it’s “don’t mess with success.” In other words, if a design works well, it’s far better to keep it consistent and familiar than change it up simply to create the illusion of improvement. This is where Fujifilm truly goes above and beyond any other camera brand. The Fujifilm X-Pro2 not only draws heavily on previous Fuji camera designs, but all of those designs are based on the tried-and-true layout of classic film cameras. The X-Pro2 keeps the same rangefinder look and layout as the X-Pro1, but with improvements across the board, making it one of the best performing and best designed cameras to date.

Here, we’ll give you a thorough review of the $1,699 X-Pro2, divided into Hardware Design, Software Design, Shooting Experience, Image Quality, and Lens Options, with ratings out of 10 for each category. We’ll also add in some other, non-rated sections to give you a better feel for the camera overall, including some pros and cons and suggestions for similar cameras.
Overall rating:
91
Hardware Design:
0
97
100
Software Design :
0
88
100
Shooting Experience:
0
98
100
Image Quality:
0
94
100
Lens Option:
0
79
100
Final Score:
0
91
100
Pros
  • Best shooting experience I’ve had
  • Brilliant rangefinder layout
  • Wonderful look and feel
  • Weather resistant (with WR lenses)
  • Tons of customization options and Fn buttons
  • Intriguing OVF/EVF viewfinder
  • Wireless shooting for incognito street photography
  • Great color rendering and film simulations
  • High-ISO noise actually looks good
  • Quality, inexpensive prime lenses
Cons
  • Poor battery life compared to DSLRs (about 180 shots per charge)
  • Occasionally wonky menu system
  • Smartphone app needs work
  • Small lineup of lenses
  • No 4K video
  • Expensive for a mirrorless/APS-C camera
Click to read the full Review
KEY STATS

- 24.3MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS III Sensor
- X-Processor Pro Engine
- Advanced Hybrid Multi Viewfinder
- 3.0" 1.62m-Dot LCD Monitor
- Full HD 1080p Video Recording at 60 fps
- Built-In Wi-Fi, SHARE Printer Compatible
- 273-Point AF with 77 Phase-Detect Points
- Up to 8 fps Shooting and ISO 51200
- Weather-Sealed Design, 2x SD Card Slots
- Film Simulation and Grain Effect Modes

ALTERNATE PICKS

- Fujifilm X-T1/X-T10
- Sony a6300
- Canon 80D
- Pentax K-1

Initial Impressions

There’s no getting around it, one of the strongest appeals of the X-Pro2 is the retro charm. Though this camera doesn’t hide its modern technology, it borrows heavily from the rangefinder design made popular by Leica in the 1960’s and 70’s. Luckily, it doesn’t wear a layer of faux leather around its midsection, but gives a similar visual affect with a rippled metal body. The optical viewfinder window and rectangular body are clear indications that its not an DSLR, which is a simply brilliant move for not only Fuji but mirrorless cameras in general. Just as SLRs and rangefinders had their own, unique areas of expertise in the days of film, Fujifilm is saying that a mirrorless camera can also live alongside current DSLRs in harmony, serving different functions. While a (D)SLR is the ideal option for studio and otherwise contrived work, a mirrorless/rangefinder camera is far better for spontaneous, real-world shooting. Fujifilm also makes DSLR-inspired mirrorless cameras (like the X-T1), but for the most part they function like rangefinders.

Holding the X-Pro2 is almost as beautiful as seeing it. The thumb grip is beefy yet slim, the weight is significant enough to evoke quality without being cumbersome, and the button layout gives all but the largest and smallest hands the perfect amount of room. It just feels right.

Fujifilm X-Pro2 Review HERO

Hardware Design – 9.7/10

If you haven’t noticed yet, I love the design of this camera. It centers on what is possibly the greatest feature of the X-Pro2: the shutter speed/aperture/ISO dial layout. This may seem like an oddly non-technical feature to call “the greatest,” but it’s what separates the X-Pro2 from the crowd and informs the design and functionality of the entire camera. You see, film cameras got it right. Most of them had a shutter speed dial on top, an aperture control ring around the base of the lens, and an ISO dial within the shutter speed dial (or separated out like on the X-T1). This allowed you to hold a camera naturally and have all the most important settings right at your fingertips, controlled by both hands. The X-Pro2 utilizes this old-fashioned design rather than the thumb and forefinger digital dials and menu-accessible ISO of basically every other modern camera. Once you go back to the on-lens aperture ring, you’ll never want to give it up.

While it has a classic layout for the most important settings, the X-Pro2 takes elements of a modern day DSLR for a large portion of its body. It has no less than 3 levers, 6 dials, and 18 buttons (6 of them customizable). Given how much negative space is on this fairly small camera, it’s astounding how many control mechanisms they’ve crammed in there. On the back alone, you have a quick menu, regular menu, a D-pad, playback, trash, display, view mode, AE-lock, AF-lock, and even an AF selection joystick. That joystick is new to the X-Pro line, and boy is it helpful. Previously, you had to sacrifice the quick-functions of the D-pad to enable AF point selection, but now the joystick makes everything easier. I found myself using the joystick basically wherever I could, especially in the menu systems.

Fuji-X-Pro2-2

 

The top of the camera has a beautifully refined shutter speed dial, with full stop increments from 1 second to 1/8000 of a second, including an auto setting. By lifting the outer ring, you can turn the inner ISO dial to reveal the desired setting through a small window – just like on the film cameras of old – with an extended range from ISO 100 to 51,200 available, along with an auto setting. Some people find this dial within a dial to be a slow and cumbersome method of ISO selection, but I disagree. While it does take two fingers to change this setting, I still find it easier than hitting a button or two and digitally selecting the ISO, which is the standard method these days. The top also features a dedicated exposure compensation dial, which I rarely use but Fujifilm insists is quite important, a Fn button that is best used for video recording, the shutter release (complete with a retro thread-style cable attachment), and the on/off switch. In addition to these dials, you also get the standard thumb and forefinger ones (which are themselves pressable buttons), which control shutter speed or aperture in 1/3 stop increments.

The front of the camera sports a lever that switches between the optical viewfinder (OVF) and the electronic viewfinder (EVF), with another customizable button imbedded in it. We also get a lens release and a focusing method selection lever (with manual, continuous, and single options) right where your left hand wants them. Depending on the lens you get, you’ll likely have aperture control on the lens itself in 1/3 stop increments. If your lens doesn’t have this, the camera will know and allow you to completely control the aperture through either right-hand dial, your choice. There are also dual SD-card slots on the right, a battery slot on the bottom, and an HDMI, micro-USB, and mic/remote inputs on the left. Those dual SD slots have a helpful feature that lets you save JPGs on one card and lossless compressed RAW copies on the other, which can really come in handy.

Fuji-X-Pro2-1

And did I mention that this is all weather sealed? Like I said, the X-Pro2 is truly a modern design marvel.

This camera is tough. Its magnesium alloy body gives the rock solid feel you’d expect from a pro-level camera, and the textured finish gives it a sense of quality. Some parts are smooth, some parts are bumpy, but all parts are metal, which is truly refreshing. There’s no way a photographer wouldn’t feel confident holding this camera.

My only design complaint, aside from the pointlessly over-sized exposure compensation dial, is the screen. While it looks crystal clear at 1.62 million dots, it’s fixed. I’ve come to expect an articulated LCD these days, especially on mirrorless cameras that perform equally well with the viewfinder or screen engaged. I’ve found a lot of unique shots by framing an image with an oddly titled screen, and it’s a shame I can’t do that with the X-Pro2. I assume they didn’t include this feature because it lacks a certain premium/retro finish, but it’s a disappointing exclusion.

X-Pro2 Menu

Software Design – 8.8/10

Remember how I said Fujifilm doesn’t mess with successful design? Well luckily, they also understand the flip side of this philosophy, and do mess with unsuccessful design. The most common complaint on the X-Pro1 was the wonky menu system, so the X-Pro2 has a completely new menu. It’s divided into 6 fairly logical categories – Image Quality, Focusing, Shooting, Flash, Movie, and Setup – plus a clever My Menu section that allows you to gather your favorite settings into one place. While the structure of the menu is sound, some of the actual option are in slightly confusing places. The worst culprit is the My Menu Setup, which is found in the User Settings menu, which is itself found in the Setup menu. This means that to add, remove, or order the options in your My Menu, you have to dig through a completely different settings tab, which just doesn’t make sense. It’s a small thing, but it’s indicative of the frustration some users feel with Fujifilm menus in general.

However, once you find your way around, the sheer number of customization options you have is on par with any camera of this price, which is to say there are a lot. The 6 function (Fn) buttons can each be set to any of 25 options, or nothing at all. The thumb and forefinger dials can be set to control shutter speed or aperture, levers can be turned on or off, the focusing ring can be set to turn in either direction… there’s simply a lot that you can do to make this camera your own. I’d suggest using the camera for a day or two, then thinking long and hard about all of your options as you do your initial customization, then leaving everything the same for at least a month. The key is learning which setting is where, and only changing it up in small doses so that you don’t have to constantly look at your camera and fumble with the controls while the perfect shot passes you by.

X-Pro2 WiFi App

While the menus and options are generally good, the X-Pro2’s wireless connectivity leaves something to be desired. It’s certainly nice that it has WiFi at all, since this feature gives you some great modern options like wireless shooting and mobile photo transfer, but basically every mirrorless camera has this tech. The  X-Pro2’s WiFi allows you to automatically move your photos to your PC via your home router, but I unfortunately couldn’t get this function to work. Granted, I wasn’t too interested in using this transfer method so it’s possible some further troubleshooting would have solved my issues, but the process is definitely not intuitive. Additionally, the Fujifilm app (above) that links to the camera for all things mobile is just bad. It looks out-of-date and it creates connectivity issues that I don’t believe come from the camera itself, but from poor app design. But there’s always hope that the mobile app will be updated and fixed, so this isn’t a big deal, just an annoyance. While the WiFi options are only so-so, geotagging works exactly as it should, so no complaints there.

When Shooting with the X-Pro2, the software generally gets out of your way and lets the hardware bring you back to the act of photographing. You can display exactly the information you want in the EVF, OVF, and back screen, and even have the ability to see different info shown in each viewing mode. This setup keeps your experience distraction-free, but it can also make it hard to find info that isn’t set to display on the current screen. For example, I set one of my Fn buttons to change between the audible mechanical shutter and the silent electronic shutter, but there was zero indication of which shutter mode was selected or even that I had changed from one to the other. This forced me to take a test shot, then hit the Fn button and take another test shot to hear if the shutter mode was actually changed. Every other Fn setting I tested had a visual indication of its use, but the shutter mode is another example of occasional oversights in Fuji’s software design.

X-Pro2 OVF

Shooting Experience – 9.8/10

As soon as you bring this camera to your eye, you’ll know if it’s for you. I’m guessing that most people will instantly fall in love, since the X-Pro2’s clever design is all based on the actual act of shooting. The shutter speed/aperature/ISO layout allows Fuji to completely eliminate the shooting mode selection dial that’s found on every DSLR. Instead, if you want to shoot in fully automatic mode, you just put the ISO, shutter speed, and aperture to Auto. For full manual, just select the settings you want instead of Auto. Basically, you can set any dial to any setting and the camera will simply be in the shooting mode you want by nature of your selection. For example, I generally select my ISO and aperture and let my shutter speed stay on Auto, but if I want to select a specific shutter speed I can just do it, without worrying about what mode I’m in. It’s the most natural shooting experience I can think of, and it reinforces why the shutter speed/aperature/ISO layout is this camera’s best feature.

While the button layout – including the highly customizable Fn buttons – will be appreciated by every photographer, the dual viewfinder is definitely a polarizing feature. The X-Pro2 has a combination OVF and EVF that can quickly and easily be switched back and forth with a lever on the front of the body. The OVF (pictured above) keeps with the rangefinder style, completely skipping the lens and acting as a simple window to frame the image. However, there’s a plethora of lines and settings that get magically projected onto the natural field of view, overlaying the scene with most of the information you would want. You’ll see a white, rectangular box that approximates the final frame with a fair degree of accuracy, but it’s not always spot-on. You can also add a pop-up window that will project a digital feed of the focus area (shown in the image above), allowing you to more accurately judge your focus accuracy, which is otherwise impossible in this setup. Though I rarely found myself using the OVF, there are two main advantages to this setting: better battery life and constant availability. Because the OVF doesn’t need to keep an high-res screen on, you’ll get slightly improved battery life over the EVF. And because the OVF is essentially just a window, you don’t have to wait for the camera to turn on to start framing your image. I often found myself whipping the camera up to my eye and roughly framing a shot before even turning the camera on, and if I liked what I saw I would simply flip the switch and click. Overall, the OVF is certainly interesting and a great option for someone who hates EVFs but still wants a mirrorless camera, but most photographers will favor the EVF.

X-Pro2 EVF

The EVF (above) functions essentially like any EVF out there, offering a completely accurate preview of the final image. This is ultimately why I favored the EVF; I just want to know what I’m actually shooting and an EVF is even better than a DSLR’s viewfinder in this regard. The most common complaint with most EVFs is that they introduce a visual lag that’s unsightly or even nauseating. The EVF on the X-Pro2, however, has a refresh rate of 85 frames per second, so there’s almost no lag at all. I even kept my camera set to Economy Mode in an attempt to save battery life, which lowers the refresh rate to 54 frames per second, and I still had no trouble with lag. Granted, the EFV isn’t as large or bright as that on the X-T1, but you’ll almost certainly prefer the EVF’s accurate preview and display options over the OVF. Still, it’s nice to have an optical option to complete the rangefinder experience.

While the X-Pro2 can perform admirably in almost any shooting situations, it has a clear slant towards candid street photography, which is unfortunately not my personal strong suit. However, in my experience testing the X-Pro2 on the streets of New York and the countryside of Connecticut, I quickly saw the benefits a camera like this could lend a street photographer. Its un-intimidating, simple, black form makes it easy to go unnoticed compared to a large DLSR with a zoom lens attached.  Add to that the ability for a completely silent electronic shutter and you can take some fairly incognito shots if you’re up for it. However, I was particularly drawn to using the camera remote through the app and WiFi while the X-Pro2 was still slung around my shoulder. This setup let me see a live feed and adjust all the settings on my phone while I framed the shot from my hip, hands-free. Using this system, I could go completely unnoticed and still maintain plenty of control, though the regular lags and hiccups from the app made me miss some crucial moments, which got very frustrating very quickly.

Fuji X-Pro2 Review-038 small_mini

Adding to the street photography appeal is the ability to select various film simulations that each imitate a specific type of actual Fujifilm brand film. These are easy to adjust on the fly, but I mostly stuck to Provia/Standard, Velvia/Vivid, and Acros/B&W, though others may enjoy some of the more stylized options. There are even helpful descriptions next to each film simulation that tell you what it does to the image and when it should be used, with many film types geared towards better skin tones than the standard setting. The only reason these film simulations actually work instead of looking like cheap Instagram filters is because Fuji knows what it’s doing. The sensor in this camera has a random color filter array that looks a lot more film-like and natural than the grid layout from every other brand. Combine this unique sensor design with Fuji’s long history and prowess in color rendering and you get extremely effective Film Simulations that essentially act as high-end scene select modes, giving your photos that desirable Fuji look.

Even if you aren’t a street photographer, you’ll likely find this camera great all around, though there are some niche drawbacks to its design. While focusing is extremely quick and accurate in single shot mode, it’s a bit too slow in the 8fps burst mode for sports or action, though still good enough for casual sports photography. It’s also not the standard option for studio and portrait shoots and will therefore have less accessories available for this type of work, which may or may not be an issue depending on your studio setup. It also takes 1080p video at up to 60fps, which isn’t on par with the 4K video of many mirrorless cameras from Sony and Panasonic, but again, it will work in a pinch and is much improved over the rest of Fuji’s line. This camera can do nearly everything well enough, but it’s certainly best as an everyday shooter.

Fuji X-Pro2 Review-066 small_mini

Image Quality – 9.4/10

This is the category that most people skip to when reading a camera review, but it really shouldn’t be. That’s because basically every camera these days has astounding image quality that is all but indistinguishable from every other camera. Seriously, if you hold up two 8×10 prints of the same scene shot with the same lens and the same settings, one of them with a $6,000 pro camera and one of them with a $400 entry-level camera, you’d be hard pressed to find any difference, let alone a difference that actually matters. A camera you’re comfortable with and enjoy shooting will enables you to take better photographs than a camera with slightly higher resolution or dynamic range. But still, everyone wants to know if a camera’s IQ is up to snuff, so here we are.

In short, yes. The X-Pro2’s IQ is easily up to the standards of the industry and perhaps even better. Its 24.3MP APS-C sensor (the first of its kind from Fuji) offers plenty of resolution for all but the largest prints, and the sharpness will be far more defined by the lens you attach than the camera itself. The color rendition and noise control, however, are all native to the actual camera.

Fuji X-Pro2 Review-010 small_mini

As mentioned above, Fuji is known for their gorgeous colors thanks in part to years of research with analog film. While other brands may claim to have more accurate colors, the X-Pro2 is able to make better use of its colors. This camera has come closer to getting the “full-frame look” than any other APS-C camera I’ve used, thanks in large part to its amazing color rendition. Look, for example, at the photo above (which is completely unedited). Fuji has this way of finding those soft yet vibrant pastel colors that instantly give a photo a luscious, tactile appeal. That photo was take in mid-afternoon sun, yet it almost has a golden hour glow to it. It’s not that the X-Pro 2 has inaccurate colors either, they just give their colors a slight Fuji spin that lends itself to beautiful imagery. Certainly, you’ll find almost no color difference in a raw file that is processed the same from the X-Pro2 and, say, a Canon D80; they’ll both give you accurate colors. But the way Fujifilm balances the scene in-camera outputs far more satisfying results than any other brand, though this is obviously a matter of personal taste.

Noise control on the X-Pro2 is also excellent, with completely unnoticeable noise up until ISO 6400. Here’s a comparison of various ISOs (though not all of them, since the X-Pro2 has ISO settings in 1/3 stop increments):

Fujifilm X-Pro2 ISO 1600-002 smallFujifilm X-Pro2 ISO 3200-003 smallFujifilm X-Pro2 ISO 6400-004 small Fujifilm X-Pro2 ISO 12800-005 small

Here are a few 100% crops to give you a better idea of the noise control:

ISO 3200 crop ISO 6400 crop ISO 12800 crop

As you can see, noise is almost non-existent up until ISO 6400, where it starts to become slightly noticeable. However, Fuji cameras have this unique quality of fairly pleasing noise that looks an awful lot like natural film grain, thanks yet again to the sensor’s random color filter array. You even have the option to set the Grain Level to Strong, Weak, or Off, and I kept it off for these test images. Below is a comparison of these grain settings at ISO 6400:

Fujifilm X-Pro2 Week Grain-007 small Fujifilm X-Pro2 Strong Grain-008 small

I personally am comfortable with the noise present in all native ISO settings, since the grain effect gives an image a low-light rather than low-quality feel. Again, this is a matter of taste, but even if you want to avoid noise all together, the X-Pro2 performs admirably for an APS-C camera.

Overall, the X-Pro2 has very good image quality, as good as any other APS-C camera on the market. Personally, I consider it’s IQ to be better than any such camera, since I’m such a fan of its color and noise rendition when compared to the more sterile look from the competition. I can also say that the X-Pro2 has excellent dynamic range, especially when implementing their unique DR extension. This setting essentially sets the ISO to different values for different portions of the image, adding an impressive amount of detail to shadowy and bright sections alike, without even hinting at the ISO transition lines. Of course, a higher resolution camera will give you higher resolution images, and a full-frame camera will give you better low light and noise performance, so the X-Pro2 isn’t the best on the market by any means. However, for a high-end APS-C mirrorless camera, it’s images are of the upmost quality.

Fuji X-Pro2 Review-142 small_mini

Lens Options – 7.9/10

This may seem like an odd category for a camera body review, since the lenses aren’t what we’re discussing. However, experienced photographers know that the lens is far more important to the quality and look of the final image than the body itself, so having good lenses to choose from is an important factor in any camera body purchase. Like all X-Series cameras, the X-Pro2 basically only takes lenses made by Fuji, which is unfortunate.

There are two major factors to lens selection: quality and quantity. While Fuji exceeds in the quality of their lenses, they lag far behind in the quantity. Not many people realize that Fuji has been researching and manufacturing super-high precision lenses for the U.S. military, broadcast and cinema camera systems, and even NASA space shuttles for the past half century. This has put them in a position where they can make excellent camera lenses for excellent prices. Image quality is almost a non-factor for Fuji lenses, if the stats are what you’re looking for you can be confident the lens will perform well. However, as of June 2016 there are only 20 lenses available for the Fuji X-Series line of cameras. Compare that to the literal hundreds that fit a Canon or Nikon DSLR and the X-Pro2 is at an obvious disadvantage. However, all mirrorless cameras suffer from lens scarcity to some degree.

Fuji X-Pro2 Review-100 small_mini

On top of offering less lenses, Fuji also focuses largely on prime lenses. While some people love the quality, large aperture, and compact stature of a prime lens, others love the versatility of a zoom lens. If you’re in the latter category, I’d suggest you skip any X-Series camera, because there are only nine zoom lenses available, and only three with f/2.8. Granted, you don’t really need more than the top-of-the-line 16-55mm and 50-145mm “red badge” lenses, but most photographers want way more options. Additionally, the one macro lens Fujifilm makes is their least impressive, so macro photographers should also steer clear.

While the Fuji selection isn’t great, individual lenses are. I shot every photo here with the same 35mm f/2 R WR lens, which has amazing image and build quality, is weather resistant, and costs less than $400 (and is often on sale for under $300). It’s a truly unbeatable lens at this price-point, however, I would have preferred a shorter focal length than the roughly 50mm equivalent of this lens. If I had the 16mm f/1.4 R WR and the 56mm f/1.2 R APD in my bag as well, I’d have been a very happy camper.

Fuji X-Pro2 Review-076 small_mini

Conclusion

There’s a lot to love about the X-Pro2, and it’s undeniably one of the most sought-after cameras of 2016. While there are many small elements that add up to make this camera great, almost every bit of its success can be traced back to its firm roots in rangefinder design. From the button layout to the viewfinder to the film simulations, this camera is meant to be the solution to a DSLR’s drawbacks. In truth, there’s only one thing the X-Pro2 can do that a similar DSLR can’t, and that’s make photography fun.

Ok, so photography is already fun, but the X-Pro2 makes it funner. Shooting with the X-Pro2 is fun like a modern day DSLR is fun – by taking super high-res, instant feedback, top-notch quality images tuned exactly how you like them; but it’s also fun like a retro film rangefinder is fun – by being stylish and spontaneous, gorgeously nostalgic, and oh-so-good to the touch. The X-Pro2 is truly the perfect blend of old school and new school, combining the best of retro design with the best of modern technology to make a camera unlike any other.

Capturing images with less Digital Noise

In this blog post, I would like to take the opportunity to talk about an issue with which all photographers are well familiar, or they should be – if they capture their images under high ISO settings and low light conditions.Digital Noise – What is it, and best practices for reducing the effect of it. Let’s first talk about what Digital Noise is. (please follow the links for more in-depth technical reading)As you may already know, today’s cameras come equipped with two different sensors – CCD and CMOS. Although they function differently from each other, both of them produce digital noise. The CCD, the more expensively produced sensor, handles noise slightly better, compared to the CMOS, which is cheaper to produce. However, the CMOS requires around 100 times less energy to operate. In order to keep the technical part short, as it can take a long time to cover this topic in depth, I will just mention that – both types of sensor accomplish the same task – capturing light and converting it into electrical signals. During this process, varying under different conditions and settings, different types of digital noise is produced.By the way, I did not begin this post with the intention of showing you how to use Photoshop actions or filters, but instead to show you a practical way of working around this issue well before it is time to start editing your images.So, what steps do we need to take towards capturing images while reducing digital noise?Camera: full frame cameraHaving already mentioned the types of sensors found in today’s modern cameras, the very first thing I would do if I was just getting into photography, is to think about buying a full frame camera (more expensive option – but if your goal is to become a professional photographer, it is a must have). If you click on and read some of the info contained in the links provided above, you’ll find out that the size of the sensor makes a world of difference to the overall image quality – not the pixel count, as many people think. File Format: RAW file format opened in Adobe BridgeThe next step will be – setting my camera to capture images only in the High-Quality RAW format. If you are serious about the photography you do, the best way to go is shooting in RAW – this way you’ll have significantly more data captured on your files, to work with later in Adobe Bridge or Lightroom. Camera Mode: manual settings cameraNow, after we have purchased our cameras and have them set to capture images in RAW format – the very next thing we need to start getting into the habit of is to not use our cameras in Auto mode. You, as a photographer, need to be in full control of the camera when taking pictures, not the camera taking control and leaving you with whatever it thinks were the best settings for the particular situation, especially regarding the use of ISO, aperture and shutter speed.Tripod: tripodNext up is, have your tripod or monopod handy for situations where it would be most useful. Depending on the subject and style of the photography we do, very often we’ll need to use tripod or monopod for longer shutter speed, instead of cranking up our ISO settings. This is particularly helpful if the subject of our photographs is static scenes or objects. However, when we need to capture scenes with moving objects and capture them sharply, not in blurred motion,  then we really can’t avoid using higher ISO settings.Speedlights: speedlightSpeedlight – If the scene you’re photographing is too dark, especially with regards to the level of ambient light, the proper use of Speedlight will help you lift up the shadow areas, overall illuminating the scene. This will result in a lot less visible noise. You can perform your own small experiment by photographing the same scene with the same ISO settings, once without a flash, then again with the flash, comparing the results. Lenses: lensesUsing fast lenses, with a wide aperture, can also be added to our arsenal in the fight against the digital noise. Fast lenses will allow you to capture the image in low light situations with lower ISO settings. For example, you can set up the aperture of your lens to F/2.0, or less if you have this option,  which will allow more light to come through the lens and be recorded by the sensor.

 

And finally, at this point, we are ready to open our images in Adobe Bridge or Lightroom. We use these two versions of software as our main portal in accessing all of the data that we managed to capture in RAW format and then move on to making further refinements in Photoshop.

I have provided two snapshots bellow of how the Sharpening/Noise Reduction options work, which is a very simple but powerful way to edit your uncompressed RAW images. I won’t be going in depth over what every slider does, as it is quite self-explanatory.  However, I will say that when playing with the sliders in an attempt to reduce noise, make sure to double check your changes by zooming in on a specific region of the image. For example, zooming in on an area of shadows, where noise is very noticeable, using that as the main point for your adjustments.


Image with heavy digital noise – Default RAW settings, inside Adobe Bridge.

noise image bridge

Image with heavy digital noise – Noise reduction applied.

noise reduction

 

Digital Camera Modes Explained – Photography for Beginners

Assuming you take photography a bit more seriously than simply taking snapshots during your holidays (and most of you probably do, since you are reading a specialized website), you might have noticed that your camera has different modes that usually come in the form of a dial. This is pretty standard nowadays not only for DSLR but also for many compact cameras, except for the most basic ones.

If you still have a camera that only has automatic modes, you are missing a huge part of what photography means like taking advantage of the manual mode, so I would really encourage you to go out and get a new one.

In any case, what I want to address here is the meaning and usefulness of each of the different modes that are usually available in modern digital cameras. While the available modes might vary slightly from one camera to the other, I will be using as a guide the dial of an entry-level Canon DSLR (EOS 500D or Rebel T1i). This should cover most of the modes that you will find out there.

modes1

14 Digital Camera Modes

In total, 14 modes are available of which only one is really manual. The rest of the modes (apart from the video mode, which is of course intended to make videos) are designed to imitate adjustments that you would make in specific situations. But let’s look at each of them individually in the order shown in the image.

A-DEP

This mode is intended to keep all the objects in a scene in focus. Its name stands for Automatic DEPth of field and while in this mode, your camera will automatically select the aperture and will then adjust the exposure time accordingly. You still keep some control over other features such as ISO, exposure compensation and white balance.

M – Manual Mode

The reason why you buy a good camera on the first place: the manual mode. Even though a great amount of technology is behind each of the other modes of your camera, I would say that still nothing compares to the traditional manual mode. In fact, except for really special occasions, many photographers rarely use any of the other modes.

modes7

In manual mode you have control over everything that can be controlled in your camera. Even though it might be a bit intimidating at first and that it might indeed take a while to get used to it, it is definitely worth the effort. In the end, you will most probably find yourself shooting in this mode most of the time.

Av – Aperture Priority

One of the most used modes after manual or full automatic. When the dial is in this mode, using the main dial you can adjust the aperture and your camera will adjust the exposure time accordingly to achieve a well exposed image.

This mode is ideal if you want to get control over your depth of field but want to speed up the process of capturing your photo a bit. As with the A-DEP mode, you can still control many of the other parameters such as ISO, exposure compensation and white balance.

modes2

Tv (or S) Shutter Priority Mode

This mode is something like the complement of Av. It is usually called shutter priority and here you can set the exposure time and your camera will take care of the aperture.

This mode is often used when dealing with fast-moving subjects such as in wildlife or sports photography. Once again, you keep control of most of the features.

P – Programmed mode

When using this mode, the camera will automatically select both the aperture and the exposure time in order to get a proper exposure, but with the main dial you can change the combination of both and in general you still keep control over most of the other features.

modes5

CA – Creative Auto

This is very similar to the full automatic mode (see below). CA stands for Creative Auto and, while in this mode, you can control, in a user-friendly way, the exposure or the depth of field. The rest of the features are controlled by the camera.

Full Auto

This is the green square in the mode dial. This mode is the equivalent to a point-and-shoot camera. Your camera will take all the decisions for you so under non ideal light conditions it can be pretty difficult to get the image you want. Additionally, if you have a DSLR, you should definitely move away from the full auto mode!

Portrait

Depicted with a head silhouette, this is an automatic mode intended for portrait photography. Since portrait photography benefits from a shallow depth of field, what your camera does when this mode is selected is set the widest aperture that your lens allows and adjust the exposure time accordingly. Once again, you loose control over all the features of your camera.

modes3

Landscape

This mode is something like the complement of the portrait mode. It is depicted by the shape of a mountain and a cloud. In contrast to portrait photography, landscape photography usually benefits from a wide depth of field, so in this mode your camera will set the narrowest aperture allowed by your lens and adjust the exposure time accordingly. No control over any feature.

Close up

Usually indicated with a flower, this mode is similar to the portrait mode in the sense that it is intended for producing blurred backgrounds (shallow depth of field). However, the aperture setting is not strictly set to the widest value, so it can produce images that keep a full object (like a flower) in focus. It can also be used as a quick approach to macro photography. No control over any feature.

Sports

As mentioned before, sports photography can benefit from fast shutter speed, so this mode, symbolized with the silhouette of a person running,  prioritizes setting a fast shutter speed and adjusts the aperture accordingly to produce the right exposure. No control over any feature.

modes6

Night portrait

Depicted with the silhouette of a person within a black square and a star, this mode is intended for, as the name says, night portraits. While in this mode, your camera will combine the use of a flash with a wide aperture in order to get a somewhat illuminated by diffuse background. In any case, the result will end up not as nice as one would expect, mostly because a nice night portrait is a rather technical photo to make and you would usually require more sophisticated equipment such as external flashes. No control over any feature.

Flash Off

This mode, the last one before the Video mode, is the same as Full Auto but prevents the in-built flash from being released. Since the camera does take into account the use of the flash when compensating the exposure, these two modes will give different values for exposure time and aperture, even when shooting the same scene. No control over any feature.

Video

The last mode, symbolized with a video camera, is self-explanatory. It will automatically adjust all the settings while capturing video, meaning that the aperture will change dynamically if the light conditions do the same. You keep control over some features such as the exposure compensation and, some cameras (not the 500D though) will also adjust the focus. In any case, if you capture videos with your DSLR, you will want to have a lens with a silent focus system (like STM or USM for Canon cameras), since any noise produced by the autofocus will be recorded.

I hope this post was helpful to get an idea on the different possibilities that your camera can offer and, if you have any question, just send me an email!

3 Rules for Budgeting Your Photography Gear

So, you’re either looking to get into photography or you’re looking to upgrade your equipment. Or you’re like me and you’re a little obsessed with scouting out the gear you want to get but will probably never pull the trigger and actually buy it. Fair enough.

Whether you’re an Instagram loving amateur looking to bump the quality of your posts or a seasoned fashion photographer who needs the latest gear to keep up with the crowd, there are some basic rules to budgeting your photography purchases. The guidelines below will help you get the most bang for your buck.

Copyright An Mai
Copyright An Mai

1. Actually have a budget (or two)

Regardless of your situation, you’re gonna need a budget (even if it’s a hypothetical one). It’s all too easy to purchase one camera and get roped into buying tons of supporting gear to match your fancy new shooter, and before you know it you’ve sunk thousand of dollars that you didn’t want to spend into your setup. Do not do this. Instead, come up with two numbers, one that is the best case scenario low budget you’d love to get away with, and the other being the high budget total that you’d still be comfortable spending on all of your gear, then aim for the low one and you’ll probably end up at the high one.

Depending on your situation and photographic needs, your numbers will probably range anywhere between $500 to $10,000 or more, only you can figure that out for yourself. But keep in mind that the gear doesn’t make the image, the photographer does. No camera and lens, no matter how expensive, will make you a good photographer, and the best photographers can make amazing photos using just about anything.

Copyright Peter Zuco
Copyright Peter Zuco

 2. Keep what you can

If you’ve already invested $3,000 in Canon lenses, don’t switch to Nikon. This should be obvious but many people jump to whichever system has the best looking gear at the moment and completely abandon the often significant financial investment they’ve already made in another system. But guess what, no camera company makes anything significantly better than all the other camera companies. Every camera on the market takes good photos, some take great photos, basically none of them take mediocre photos. The difference between a $400 camera and a $4,000 camera is minuscule at best, and the difference between Sony’s latest offering and Panasonic’s best gear is even less significant. You are far better off keeping your budget down by utilizing as much of your current gear as you can than selling it for a loss just to get into a different (but rarely better) camera system.

If you don’t have any gear yet, then this rule is even more important for you. THINK LONG TERM. For all the reasons listed above, whatever photo equipment you get first will likely decide what type of equipment you buy from then on. So if you buy a Canon Rebel body and a couple Canon lenses right now (a great long-term choice) then you probably won’t want to buy a Fujifilm camera next because then your Canon lenses will be useless (don’t expect to rely on converters). Before you know it, you’re entirely entrenched in the Canon system and it will cost thousands of dollars to get out of it. You can read up on which camera brand is right for you in this helpful Sleeklens guide.

Copyright Kieth Williamson
Copyright Keith Williamson

3. Trust the 2-1-1 rule

This is easily the biggest mistake any new photographer makes when buying photography gear. Most people spend all of their money, or close to it, on the camera. WRONG. If your budget is $1,000 don’t spend it on a Canon 70D with a kit lens, in fact, you should almost never buy a kit lens at all. (For those who don’t know, a “kit lens” is the zoom lens included with a camera body that usually covers a large focal range, like 18-105mm, but is almost always very low quality.) So what exactly is the 2-1-1 rule? It’s a ratio: 2 parts of your budget on lenses, 1 part on the camera, 1 part on everything else.

This may seem crazy to new photographers, but you should be concentrating on the lenses you’re getting, not the camera body. Why? Most camera companies use the exact same Sony sensors. While there are other factors that go into the quality of a camera body, the sensor is easily the most important one. Even companies that don’t use Sony sensors (like Fujifilm) use the same technology and produce almost the same images. The camera body really doesn’t matter that much, it’s mostly a personal preference. The only truly important elements of a camera body that affect the final image are the sensor size, technology, and megapixel count. Even then, there are pros and cons to all possibilities and they don’t have a huge affect on the final photograph.

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Copyright G M

Lenses, on the other hand, all but decide the quality of your images. Camera companies make their own lenses, all of which have some stellar options, and many third part companies like Sigma make some great lenses too. While, like cameras, there is little difference from one brand to the next, there is a significant difference from one “tier” to the next. It’s really difficult to get those stunning photos with micro-contrast, a low depth of field, and beautiful color and tonal gradations with a cheapo zoom lens. It might be impossible. Compare that to a Canon L lens, for example, which can make virtually any snap look decent, and you’ll see why the lens is the key.

The last 25% of you budget should be reserved for supporting gear like bags, UV filters, strobe lights if you need them, that kind of thing. If you already have equipment you’re planning on keeping (which you’d be wise to do) then you should follow the 2-1-1 rule for your total set of equipment, not what you’re buying right now.

Finding the right photo gear may seem like an impossible task, but as long as you keep those three rules in mind (especially the 2-1-1 rule) you’ll end up with a kit you can be proud to call your own.

Full Frame vs Crop Sensor– Which Camera Sensor Works Best?

 

Welcome to the Full Frame vs Crop Sensor debate! It’s important to remember how many different ways we can shoot nowadays and that one format is not better than the other, just simply better suited for certain styles!

Lets first start with some background.

So, what is a full frame camera? We need to know what this camera is if we are to understand what crop sensor camera is. The term full frame camera has its origin in the olden days when they used to shoot films. The 35mm film was typically used and so Canon was the first manufacturer to come up with a digital sensor that was the size of 35mm film. That was kind of considered to be a full frame camera those days. So, when you think of a full frame camera, you just kind of think of a 35mm equivalent of film. That’s what the term full frame stands for.

On the other hand, a crop sensor camera is basically a different variation of crop size inside a camera. What this does is that it makes the sensor smaller so it can fit in a smaller body so you can have a smaller, more compact version of a full frame. There are advantages and disadvantages of this but we will look into that as we progress.

Normally, if you are Canon user, the crop factor ranges between 1.3 and 1.6 depending on the make and the model. If you are a Nikon user, it is easy to figure out because it is usually around 1.5. Looking at our visual demo, you will see a photo that was taken with a full frame sensor. This is what we see using a 17mm of distance through the lens. When this is shot with a crop sensor as shown in the second visual demo in our video, a lot of information will be lost shooting at the same focal length. This gives you a basic demo of how small the sensor is if you think on the inside of the camera. The full frame sensor or camera has the size of the big box while the crop sensor has the size of the smaller box, so to say.

However, “full frame” is not really full. It is just the equivalent of the previous sensor standard so hypothetically a bigger sensor could be implemented. This would call for a new name for sensors.

If we’re being technical, a full frame sensor should really be called 35mm equivalent sensor and the crop frame should be referred to as an APS-C sized sensor.

So what are the advantages of using this kind of sensor?

Full Frame DSLR camera benefits

Full frame cameras perform better in low-light situations; the reason behind this logical statement relies on the fact that they actually have more photosites, which allows them to capture more light and perform with less noise at high ISO values than common compact camera’s sensors. To think of working at ISO values nearing 12000 on nonfull-frame cameras may seem as insanity, whereas for full frame models it’s actually a not so common adjustment for night photography. Hence the reason why full frame bodies are known for their ISO performance.

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If you are doing a lot of landscape stuff and want to have a lot of wide-angle shots, you can get a full frame camera and a regular 24mm and you will likely have the same 18mm or a little bit less of what crop sensor would shoot. So, you kind of get a wider angle used. It is therefore really useful obviously and real estate photography where you need to get the whole huge room and you don’t have a 10mm lens or something like that, you can shoot with a 16mm or 17mm lens and get the whole room.

In general, full frame cameras are way more expensive than cropped frame ones, along with their accessories. For putting this into a countable example, Nikon FX cameras are valued around 1.8x the value of DX cameras; the same comparison can be applied to Canon ones – also lenses and other accessories are that much expensive as they are considered cameras for professionals and not for amateur users. On the other hand, you can expect the viewfinder of these cameras to be brighter.

Another good reason to pick a full frame vs a crop sensor is the opportunity to experience (and fall in love) the 35mm film out of a 35mm lens. One of the most commented aspects that digital photography lost is the possibility of creating blurry backgrounds with ease. Well, putting aside DOF technique discussions, 35mm lenses on full frame body can give you that feeling and much more if you come to terms with working digitally. The shooting experience of film meets no rival, but for photography these days, working with a quality 35mm lens paired with a full frame DSLR body is a blessing (especially if we compare it with the APS-C counterpart).

This brings us to the drawbacks of Full Frame sensors.

Their higher cost effects lens availability. Most cropped sensor cameras will take a full frame lens but it doesn’t work like that vice versa. This means that inventory for full frame lenses isn’t as large as you can expect it to be. Therefore, you should take this into consideration, mostly if you aim to take a huge jump between an entry level DSLR to a Full Frame camera model.

Because the full frame sensor is bigger than the cropped frame, it affects the field of view. For photographers that need more zoom, the smaller sensor is the more compatible option.

The depth of the field is kind of a negative though when it comes to full frame sensors. Usually, depending on the make and model, the full frame cameras are capable of giving you as much depth of field as you want. So, even if you shoot at f/22 on full frame, the whole image may not be as sharp as you like and you may have to do some focus stacking and stuff like that. But on a crop sensor camera, you will be able to get a lot of depth of field since the size of the sensor is so small. Everything from front to back on f/22 and sometimes even at f/32 will be extremely sharp. All in all, this helps for image quality.

The benefits of a crop sensor (APS-C sensor)

Crop sensors open up a much larger variety of lenses that are often times smaller too making them more portable and ideal for certain types of shooting. If you’re a videographer, crop sensor sizes are the way to go as they are much more conducive to moving images and rich videos.

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Moving back to the previous point on lenses, imagine that you are a travel photographer – how much pricey is it going to be to be using a full frame DSLR or mirrorless camera + telephoto lens combo instead of working with a crop-based camera and a good, professional telephoto lens?. If you are on the budget for your photography work, the answer is pretty obvious.

A lot of people would want to shoot sports using crop sensor DSLR cameras (APS-C sensor) because they offer more crop factor so you get a more zoomed-in look for your image. Let’s take for instance where you want to shoot a football game and I am all the way across the field with a full frame camera and I don’t have an 800mm, 6000 dollar lens, it will be a lot harder to get that reach. However, on a crop sensor camera, you get more reach even with half that sensor even with less desirable or less telephoto lens for your photos. Keep in mind you will sacrifice ISO performance in the process.

But how do you choose which one is right for you?

For the average consumer with a kit lens and a consumer grade body, stick to the crop sensor. For simple family photos and a light camera to have around for photography events, a crop sensor will get the job done just fine. Camera companies have been really hard for many years to provide consumer level cameras that produce beautiful images which they absolutely do.

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For working photographers and folks entering the professional arena, I encourage you to invest in a full frame DSLR camera. The image quality and wide angle options are necessary to make good photos deemed professional. If you like shooting with natural light and low light settings, again, a full frame camera is better because it has more photosites and noise reduction capabilities. It’s all on how you come to terms with the setups in general, but certainly, it makes an impact on low-light and night photography work.

Once you’ve chosen your camera, though, move on! Focus on mastering lighting, composition, white balance, OCF which will leader to better photos regardless of your sensor size! Remember, gear is supposed to help us, not to condition the way we perform our job.

If you feel ready to take the leap towards a full frame body, then congrats as you are taking the first step into becoming a professional photographer. If not, it’s okay as well, as no gear can perform as good as a talented photographer that knows the tricks and techniques behind scenes. Yes, full frame lenses may seem like a hefty investment to make, but there are some other options like used lenses or even open box lenses that considerably reduce the price tag by a big margin.

We hope this guide has given you an insight into what’s best for your current working conditions and the eternal full frame vs crop frame debate. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Finding the Goldilocks Zone of Megapixel Count

This one’s too big. This one’s too small. This one’s just right. Photographers constantly make compromises in everything we do. Whether it’s choosing an ISO that will allow fast enough shutter speeds without introducing unpleasant noise; setting sharpness to give clarity without a fake look; or simply setting the size of your JPEGs, there’s something gained and something lost in each decision.

Deciding how many megapixels you need is no different. While most of the choices above can be made by simply looking at your image, megapixel counts take a bit of technical knowledge and foresight. Ultimately, your ideal sensor resolution is a matter of choice like any other, but knowing what’s at stake and what options are available can make this important decision much easier. Before we begin, you may find it helpful to read our article on choosing the sensor size that’s right for you, which is a separate issue to consider altogether.

3 Bears
Momma Bear, Papa Bear, and Baby Bear

The name of the game is image size versus file size. While there are many other consequences to consider, this balance is the heart of what’s at stake when choosing a megapixel count. More megapixels means higher resolution, but much larger files. But what exactly is necessary when it comes to resolution and what is superfluous? The answer to that question depends on your needs. For example, a good quality physical print is usually 300 dpi (dots per inch), meaning if you wanted to print an image 8 inches wide and 6 inches high, you would need a resolution of 2,400 x 1,800 pixels or 4.32 megapixels. So if you use every pixel of a camera, you only need a 4.32-megapixel camera to make a good quality image of this size. However, if you know your photo will be viewed on the web, where resolution is locked at 72 PPI (pixels per inch), then the same 4.32mp camera could be viewed on a screen that’s 33.3 inches wide by 25 inches high. That’s a pretty big computer screen.

But some high-end cameras have resolutions of 50mp or higher. While this seems completely ridiculous at first, it’s not as crazy as you’d think. Because the number of pixels needed to make a larger print increases exponentially, a 50.3mp image is actually a resolution of 8,688 x 5,792 pixels. That yields a 300 dpi print of 29 inches wide and 19.3 inches high, a lovely size to the frame on a wall. But with an increased print size comes and exponentially increased files size as well. If you’re taking photos in high-quality RAW format (which you usually should), each of these 50.3mp files is up to a whopping 75.5 MB (megabytes) as compared to the 6.5 MB of the 4.32mp camera. To put the high-res file size into perspective, if you spent an afternoon shooting  200 photos, you’d have 15.1 GB (gigabytes) of images. That kind of data builds up fast. Most people never consider the cost and difficulty of storing large files when buying a camera, but it’s definitely important to keep in mind. If you’d like to see what file, print, and web size results from different image resolutions, I’d suggest using this megapixel calculator tool.

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Some other considerations to make when picking a resolution size is how this impacts the camera overall. A camera’s megapixel count interacts with its sensor size. More megapixels in a smaller sensor means each individual pixel is smaller and therefore absorbs less light for any given photo. This tradeoff will typically result in a noisier image, though modern camera software goes a long way to resolving this. So if low light performance is important to you, you may want to stick with not only a larger sensor size, but also a lower megapixel count. It may be counterintuitive, but in many cases having fewer megapixels creates better images. There are of course other factors that relate to a camera’s mp stat, such as battery life, price, and ISO range, but the print/web dimensions, file sizes, and low light performance are the most direct results of any given megapixel count.

To wrap things up, we’ll briefly look at three major megapixel groups, discuss their capabilities and limitations, and give some example cameras.

Canon 5d Mark I, 12mp

1. Low-Res (Less than 16mp)

Typically, cameras in this range are 12mp, which not too long ago was very impressive. If your photos are only ever going to be seen online, then this is plenty big enough. However, if you want to have decent sized, decent quality prints then you’ll want more than this, but honestly, this is more than enough resolution for most people. Cameras in this category include the full-frame Canon 5D Mark I, the full-frame, mirrorless Sony a7s II, and the iPhone 6s.

12mp camera yields:

  • 300 dpi prints of 13.3 x 10 inches
  • RAW files up to 18 MB
  • JPEGs up to 2.5 MB

Nikon D3200, 24mpNikon D3200, 24.2mp2. Medium-Res (16-30mp)

While there are many excellent Micro Four Thirds cameras that have 16mp sensors, the staple size in this segment is 24mp, though 20mp is also common. These offer plenty of detail to meet almost anyone’s needs without going overboard or being too expensive, which is probably why it’s such a popular resolution. Some medium-res cameras include the Sony Alpha a6300, the Canon Rebel T6i, and the Olympus EM-5.

24mp camera yields:

  • 300 dpi prints of 20 x 13.3 inches
  • RAW files up to 36 MB
  • JPEGs up to 3.6 MB

Sony a7R II, 42mp © Dongheon ShinSony a7R II

, 42mp © Dongheon Shin

3. High-Res (30-50mp)

These are professional grade. There aren’t too many different cameras sold at this level of resolution, though the ones that offer it are extremely popular. This amount of detail is only necessary for pros who need to make large prints (or sometimes just impress clients) and who have the equipment and know-how to manage large files. Cameras like this include the Canon 5D SR, the Sony a7R II, and the Pentax K-1.

42mp camera yields:

  • 300 dpi prints of 26.5 x 17.7 inches
  • Raw files up to 63.3 MB
  • JPEGs up to 4.4 MB

Anything above high-res is considered ultra-high-res and is only available in medium format cameras. That kind of resolving power is only necessary for the rarest of occasions, but it can certainly make for some amazing shots. While these cameras can easily make prints over 3 feet wide, they can also take raw photos over 150 MB in size. Like every other camera decision, the megapixel count you choose is a matter of taste and should be decided based on your individual needs. But if you keep in mind the tradeoffs between maximum image dimensions, files sizes, and the rest of the camera’s performance, you’ll be able to find the resolution that’s just right.

Choosing the Sensor Size that’s Right for You: Bigger isn’t Always Better

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or an aspiring amateur, your choice of the camera goes a long way to defining and reflect who you are as a photographer. While a sports photographer will likely lust at the low-light, quick shooting behemoths, a street photographer will want a quiet, compact, one-handed companion. There are a ton of factors that go into choosing the camera that best fits your needs and style, and one of the first decisions that should be made is what sensor size to go for.

If you aren’t familiar with the concept of sensor size, it is literally the physical dimension of the electronic sensor that records the light and thereby makes the image. The sensor size is not only built into the camera but has a direct effect on the lenses and image characteristics as well. From the days of film, when the sensor size was simply the type of film the camera accepted (35mm, 120mm 4×5, etc.), this has been a key factor in choosing a camera and ultimately a shooting style that fits the photographer’s needs. Today, most camera companies offer at least two options through different camera lines, with some offering even more. It’s important to note that when choosing a camera and the sensor that’s in it, you’re also choosing what lenses and accessories that will be available to you, so do your research on the entire system that surrounds the camera as well.

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A CCD sensor (© Matt Laskowski)

Before we dive in, a basic explanation of how sensor sizes relate to the actual photo is in order. It’s helpful to think of an image sensor as a water bucket and light as rain. A larger sensor (larger bucket) can collect more light (more rain) than a smaller sensor in the same situation. So a camera with a larger sensor will perform better than a camera with a smaller sensor in a low-light scenario because it can collect more of the light that’s available. This means faster shutter speeds, lower ISO, and overall nicer images. Another major factor of having a large sensor is the shallower depth-of-field (more background blurriness) it creates. Because of optical math, we needn’t worry about, a larger sensor produces a shallower depth-of-field than a smaller one shooting the exact same image. The last important element of a larger sensor is simply the advanced technology it requires. Because larger sensors are simply harder to make, they often come in overall better (and more expensive) cameras. Because companies put their best tech in their most expensive cameras, larger sensor sizes nearly always come with better and more recent technology. These three factors— low-light performance, shallow depth-of-field, and cutting-edge technology— are why most people assume bigger sensors are always better. However, amazing images can be made with any sensor size out there, it just depends on what you’re shooting and how you shoot it.

Here, we’ll go through the pros and cons of the four major size options available for interchangeable lens cameras, with some examples for each size mentioned.

Taken with Medium Format Camera (© Takuma Kimura)

Taken with a Medium Format camera (© Takuma Kimora)

1. Medium Format (~44x33mm to ~54x40mm)

These are super expensive, high-end studio cameras from companies most people have never even heard of such as Phase One, Mamiya, and Hasselblad. While they’re unwieldy, slow shooting, and a rental-only option for most people, they also produce the highest quality images available. With amazing dynamic range (range of brightness to the darkness that can be recorded in the same image), extremely fine detail (up to 100mp), and great bokeh (quality of the out-of-focus area), these cameras are perfect for many types of art, fashion, and archival photography. However, they are difficult and unnecessary for most other types of shooting and serve as a specialty option.

  • Pros:
    • Best Image quality available in favorable situations
    • Instantly gives any image a high-end look
    • The shooting experience is unlike anything else
  • Cons:
    • Extremely expensive
    • So difficult to manufacture that high ISO and other recent technology isn’t available
    • Large and clunky
  • Examples:

Taken with a Full Frame camera

Taken with a Full Frame camera

2. Full Frame (~36x24mm)

While in the days of film, this size was thought of as too small for any self-respecting professional photographer, digital cameras make this the go-to size for most professionals today. This is what the flagship cameras for many companies utilize, as it offers a great balance between superb performance and acceptable price. Many people believe that a 10-year-old camera with this sensor format (such as the Canon 5D Mark I) is still better than any new camera with a smaller sensor inside. However, with the improved high-ISO performance of modern cameras and tons of great lenses available for almost any mount, there’s not much supporting this way of thinking.

  • Pros:
    • Often sports the best technology available
    • Amazing low light performance and high-quality look
    • Best lenses and accessories available are for these professional-grade cameras
  • Cons:
    • Still pretty expensive
    • Fairly large bodies and lenses
    • The industry may start to favor smaller formats soon
  • Examples:
    • Canon 5DSR ($3,600, 50mp of raw power)
    • Sony a7R II ($3,200, mirrorless that’s fairly compact and critically acclaimed)
    • Pentax K-1 ($1,800, amazing quality for half the price of its competition)

Taken with an APS-C camera

Taken with an APS-C camera

3. APS-C (~23x15mm)

This is what you’ll find in most cameras that aren’t point-and-shoots, and for good reason. While for a long time this format has been aimed at amateurs, more and more pro-quality cameras are coming out with this size thanks in large part to the introduction of mirrorless cameras. If you’re not already invested in a camera system, you should strongly consider getting an entry-level APS-C mirrorless camera and going from there. While Canon and Nikon have been sticking with the same DSLR formula for over a decade, companies like Sony and Fujifilm have bet big on mirrorless APS-C cameras and it looks like it will pay off. The absolute best cameras that won’t break the bank are of this variety. Because recent technological advancements allow them to accommodate high-res sensors with clean images at high ISO— and there are now many amazing lenses built for this format— some APS-C cameras can go head-to-head with all but the best full-frame competition.

  • Pros:
    • Much more affordable options available
    • Some are both compact and still high-quality
    • Next generation of popular cameras will be APS-C Mirrorless
  • Cons:
    • Still, can’t match the performance of the best full-frame cameras in demanding situations
    • Some of the amateur options aren’t worth buying (looking at you Nikon and Canon)
    • Still thought of as unprofessional in some circles
  • Examples:

Taken with a Micro Four Thirds camera

Taken with a Micro Four Thirds camera

4. Micro Four Thirds (17x13mm)

This is a very interesting option that deserves serious consideration from almost any photographer. About five years ago, many people believed this format to be the future of all photography. While it hasn’t yet lived up to that hype, it has quietly grown into a robust segment that can offer superb image quality for very low prices, but definitely, sacrifices some flexibility. Unlike all other image sensors, Micro Four Thirds (MFT) cameras are standardized across manufacturers. So a lens that fits a Panasonic MFT camera will also fit an Olympus MFT camera, which can be very helpful. Also unlike all other image sensors, this option is mirrorless only, no DSLRs here. But even the cheapest MFT cameras can offer image quality that often out-performs popular, entry-level DSLRs. While this sensor size is a little too small to work well in low-light settings, the bodies are so compact that it might be worth the sacrifice. One thing to note is that most if not all MFT cameras lack the premium build quality available in other formats.

  • Pros:
    • Cheapest option available
    • More nice lenses than you’d expect thanks to universal standards
    • Some extremely small options out there
  • Cons:
    • Poor low-light performance
    • Generally not acceptable for professionals
    • Not many studio accessories available
  • Examples:

There are amazing cameras made using every sensor-size, so choosing a size is really just a matter of taste. If you want to be able to take incredibly detailed images for large prints that are dripping with quality, then a Medium Format or Full Frame camera is probably your best bet. If you want a decent shooter that won’t be noticed when you’re taking close-up street portraits (or if you just want to save your wallet), then an MFT camera may be right for you. And if you’re looking for a jack of all trades that can create amazing images in favorable light and perfectly acceptable images in almost any situation, then maybe go for an APS-C sensor. Before deciding on a specific camera or even one brand, it’s best to weigh your options and consider what your expectations are, then you can find the camera best suited to capture the images you want.

Photo Master Class: Finding the light

A beautiful atmospheric glow; a sense of depth and dimension; a reduced color contrast that flatters a subject’s natural beauty…Artists have long sought to capture the magic that nature provides in the golden hour. It’s what can set a photograph apart and make it truly special.

What is the golden hour?

Simply put, it is that time of day (whether exactly an hour more or less, depends on the season and how far away from the equator you are) in which the sun has just crossed the horizon at sunrise or will soon pass over the horizon at sunset. At these hours, the sun’s angle creates an indirect light, traveling at a greater depth of atmosphere which makes it appear soft. Shadows are longer, so interesting dimension is created. There is a concentration of the warmer yellow/red wavelengths as the blue ones are more scattered, creating a beautiful glow and background color that flatters people’s skin tones and makes landscapes pop. In short, it is the preferred natural lighting for photography and the one I use almost exclusively to create meaningful and beautiful images.

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When finding the light, it’s always best to be prepared ahead of time. Go out location scouting around the time of day you want to shoot. It’s best to do this, so you can get a better idea of where the sun will sit in the sky during the golden hour. If you are shooting in an urban location, remember the light and the direction of your light source. Whether you are next to a building or out under some trees, you always want to direct your subject towards the light. Not only will you create some beautiful catchlights, you will have beautiful fallen light in all the right places on your subject. The creative possibilities are endless and definitely not limited to just portrait photography. It’s a wonderful time to explore landscapes too. For stunning effects use a wide aperture and make sure you don’t overexpose your photos.

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Rim lighting

This involves a thin line of light outlining your subject. In this case…the little girl in this photo was enhanced using rim lighting while the background is darkened. This illuminates and pops your subject. When using a light source such as the sun, you must be at a low angle at either mid-morning or late afternoon. This allows the light to evenly distribute the light around the hair. Place your subject right in front of the sun or just a little off center. The sun must be in the same direction as your dark background.

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Sun Flare

This is beautiful and there’s really no wrong way of doing it. When the sun hits your lens it produces different effects. These effects are really cool techniques that are really easy to achieve without any special processing. It’s important to remember to use a narrow aperture, which means bigger number settings. Starting out in AV or A mode while setting your aperture to f22 and your ISO around 100-200. Your camera will choose a proper shutter speed for you.   Just remember. This is a good start. If you aren’t happy with your results, switch over to M mode, dial in your same settings then slightly increase or decrease your shutter speed depending on the look you are going for.

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Silhouette photography

This is one of the best times of the evening to create those gorgeous photos. When your subject becomes the shadow, throwing all textures aside…you are left with an outline of what you are shooting. When a person is your subject, remember to angle them to accentuate their shape rather than shooting them head-on. Remember to have your light source in front of you. It doesn’t necessarily need to be behind the subject, just the best angles to outline your subject properly. In the photo below, I chose a few different subjects with a prop. I set my camera in M mode and dialed my aperture to around f8. I wanted the US flag to be lit enough so people could see it

I hope you enjoyed this article and this helped you to find the light! Photography is all about creating art and having fun doing it!