Posts Tagged ‘Best’

DxOMark: Samsung Galaxy Note 8 ties iPhone 8 Plus as best ever smartphone camera

07 Oct

News that Apple’s new iPhone 8 Plus had suddenly taken the top spot on DxOMark’s smartphone camera rankings was met with the expected range of praise and critique—everything from “of course, iPhone’s are awesome cameras” to “how much did Apple pay DxOMark for this result!?” But it turns out the iPhone 8 Plus’ ranking as the best smartphone camera DxOMark had ever tested didn’t last very long.

As of today, the iPhone 8 Plus has been tied by the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, which significantly bested its Photo score and only tied the iPhone 8 Plus overall because Apple’s smartphone does so much better in the video category.

The full breakdown of the results can be found on DxOMark, but this comparison between the two phones’ scores speaks volumes:

The Photo categories where the Note 8 really outperformed the iPhone include Autofocus (94 vs 74) and Zoom, where the Note 8 got a score of 66 to the iPhone’s 51. DxOMark’s conclusion is appropriately praiseworthy:

When all the tests are verified, the scores calculated, and the perceptual analyses discussed, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 comes out as an outstanding choice for the smartphone photography enthusiast, matching the top overall score of 94 points of the iPhone 8 Plus. Dual-cam setups offering a second telephoto zoom for portraits are a real step forward for high-end smartphone photography, and the implementation on the Note 8 is exceptional, making it the best smartphone for zoom shots we’ve tested.

Read DxO’s full thoughts and see all of their sample and test photos at this link. And if you’re an Android user in need of some serious photography power from you smartphone, the Galaxy Note 8 should definitely make it to the top of your list.

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The Nikon D850 is the best camera DxOMark has ever tested, first to hit score of 100

07 Oct

Forget all of those DxOMark Mobile scores, it’s time to talk about “real” cameras again. DxOMark just completed their review of the Nikon D850 and, not entirely surprising, it is officially the best camera DxOMark has ever tested. In fact, it’s the first camera ever to reach a score of 100, pushing the Sony a7R II into second place with its score of 98.

As it stands now, the camera rankings put the Nikon D850 and its predecessor, the D810, in the number 1 and 3 spots.

While the D850 isn’t the best camera DxO has tested across the board, it nevertheless put in top notch performance in every category. “The D850’s key strengths are its outstanding color and dynamic range at base ISO, where it again ranks as the number one among all commercially available cameras we’ve tested for these attributes,” explains DxOMark. If it falls even slightly short in any regard, it’s in the low-light ISO category where its higher resolution starts to sting.

That said, you can’t help but go wide-eyed reading DxOMark’s conclusion. As they say, this camera is “in a class of its own for image quality.”:

The introduction of the first BSI sensor in a full-frame Nikon DSLR with a super-high 45.7Mp resolution puts the Nikon D850’s image quality on par with, and often better than, medium-format cameras. The first DSLR to hit 100 points — rather apt for Nikon’s hundredth anniversary year — puts the Nikon D850 in a class of its own for image quality. At base ISO, it’s unrivaled for color in the DSLR class, and its headline dynamic range score is outstanding, too.

To read the full conclusion—the full review, for that matter—and see how the D850 compares to the competition from Sony and Canon, head over to DxOMark.

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Google Pixel 2 trumps iPhone as ‘best smartphone camera’ with highest DxOMark score ever

05 Oct

It’s been a couple weeks of amazing camera phone tests over at DxOMark. First the iPhone 8 Plus beat all former phones with a score of 94. Then the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 came in and earned the same overall score, beating the iPhone 8 Plus in the Photo category but falling short in Video. And now… now we have a new proper king.

After testing the brand new Google Pixel 2, DxOMark has awarded the flagship phone its highest ever marks for a smartphone camera with an overall score of 98.

As usual, you can read the full review over on DxOMark’s website, where they pit the Pixel 2 against its main rivals in a few head-to-head challenges, but the overall score results can be seen below:

In the Photo category, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is still the best phone out there, besting the Google Pixel 2’s score of 99 by a single point. But when it comes to video, the Pixel 2 is totally and completely unmatched. Its Video score of 96 makes Samsung’s paltry 84 seem a bit weak, and even Apple’s respectable 89 is nowhere close.

Ahead of doing our own tests with these phones, we’ve been looking closely at the results in the DxOMark tests, and we are very intrigued to say the least. Some of the numbers themselves are rather subjective, and we don’t entirely agree with DxO’s assessment in every category.

For example, in their outdoor bokeh comparison, the new Pixel 2 fares the worst:

Google Pixel (original) Portrait mode: 5MP sRGB JPEG.

The original Pixel simulated lens blur well (note the circular appearance of out-of-focus highlights), but did so at a resolution cost (you only got 5MP files). You also had to move the camera upward while taking the photo – problematic for moving subjects. There are artifacts present if you look closely.

Google Pixel 2 Portrait Mode: 12MP sRGB JPEG.

The new Pixel 2 fares the worst in this comparison, with multiple aritfacts throughout the image. At least it’s instantaneous (no need to move camera) and a full 12MP now though. Hopefully Portrait mode fares better in other situations.

iPhone 8 Plus Portrait Mode: 12MP DCI-P3 HEIF (10-bit).

The iPhone 8 Plus uses dual cameras to create the most artifact-free blur. It’s more Gaussian in nature than like a true lens blur (whichthe original Pixel simulated quite well). It’s also worth noting Apple is encoding images in higher bit-depth wider color space using the High Efficiency Image Format.

Something else overlooked by the DXO assessment: Apple now saves images in a new image format: HEIF, which allows for a wider color gamut (DCI-P3) and higher bit-depth (10-bit). That means the potential for more vivid images with less posterization compared to the conventional 8-bit sRGB JPEGs even the new Pixel phones (and most phones / cameras) continue to use today. In fact, even some of the colors in the iPhone 8 Plus image above are outside of the sRGB color space. Point: Apple.

Another point of contention we have: the sometimes overly tonemapped (flat) images HDR+ renders may or may not suit your taste. The Pixel 2 vs. HTC U11 high contrast scene demonstration shows the Pixel 2 preserving more overall detail in shadows and highlights, but doing so at the cost of global contrast. With the display capabilities of wide gamut, high brightness/contrast OLED displays that are technically capable of HDR display, that may not always be the optimal result. The iPhone X will likely be first device to show how good photos can look when you pair HDR capture with HDR display. We’re a bit disappointed that Google didn’t even mention HDR display, despite the devices’ displays clearly being capable of it.

Still, DxOMark’s conclusion doesn’t skimp on the superlatives… except that they’re running out of them:

We’re in danger of running out of superlatives when describing the major image quality attributes of the Google Pixel 2. That makes sense for a device that tops our scoring charts —up from the 94 of the Apple iPhone 8 Plus and Samsung Galaxy Note 8 to a record-setting 98. So for just about any Photo or Video ” href=””>use case, it recommends itself as the phone camera with the best image quality.

To read the full review for yourself, head over to the DxOMark website by clicking here.

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Adobe unveils Photoshop Elements 2018: Can open closed eyes, find your best photos and more

04 Oct

A before and after of Photoshop Elements’ new Open Closed Eyes featured at work.

While the professional photography market waits with bated breath to see what Adobe has in store for us at AdobeMAX, the company behind Lightroom and Photoshop unveiled something that appeals to a bit broader of an audience today: Photoshop Elements 2018 and Premiere Elements 2018.

The new, user-friendly versions of Adobe’s photo and video editors come with some really creative and easy-to-use features that the company says are aimed at “memory keepers.” The idea was to create two programs that make finding, enhancing and sharing the precious memories hidden away inside random memory cards, hard drives and (most likely) smartphones almost totally automatic.

Photoshop Elements 2018

Photoshop Elements 2018 tackles the same problem that everyone—Google’s Photos App, Apple Photos, etc.—is trying to tackle: how do you help the typical shutterbug find their best images out of the thousands they take every week on their smartphone, and enhance those images so they look ‘professional’ and worth sharing on social media?

As with everybody else, Adobe is leaning heavily on machine learning and computer vision (different types of ‘AI’) for this trick.

It starts with an easy-to-use Organizer view and something called Auto Curation, which uses computer vision and some nifty algorithms to guess (because it can’t REALLY know, can it?) which of your images are the best. So if you have a group of 200 images, you can ask Photoshop Elements to cull those down automatically to just 15.

Once you’ve selected your shots, you can use the program’s new Guided Edits and a new feature called Automatic Selection to do things like drop in a new background, create a double exposure effect using two of your images, or add ‘artistic’ overlays.

The coolest feature, though, has to be Open Closed Eyes, which allows you to select two frames, and replace the closed eyes in one with the open eyes from another. The results are incredibly lifelike given that whole thing can be done in a matter of seconds.

Premiere Elements 2018

Like Photoshop Elements, Premiere Elements 2018 also leans heavily on AI-powered features to make video editing as automatic and pain-free as possible.

Smart Trim does for videos what Auto Curate does for photos, namely: it asks you what ‘style’ of video you want to create, tries to intelligently find the best clips that match this style, and tosses out the rest to create a coherent clip.

Another interesting addition is a feature called Candid Moments, which tries to find the best candid ‘photo’ hidden within a video clip and pull it out for you. With new smartphones like the iPhone 8 Plus shooting gorgeous 4K 60p, we could see this feature being a huge hit with those ‘memory keepers’ Adobe is all trying to target.

Admittedly, neither Photoshop Elements 2018 nor Premiere Elements 2018 are really targetted at more professional photographers out there (read: many of the people who enjoy reading DPReview). But as these beginner-focused programs get more and more powerful, amateur photographers who are allergic to the subscription model and don’t like to do much post-processing anyhow might actually enjoy using Photoshop and Premiere Elements 2018.

Of course, that’s not to say we won’t be keeping a very close eye on AdobeMAX this year.

To learn more about Photoshop Elements 2018 and Premiere Elements 2018, head over to the Adobe blog by clicking here, or visit their dedicated landing pages by clicking on the program names above. Both programs are available now for $ 100 new or $ 80 as an upgrade. You can also buy them together for $ 150 new or upgrade both programs at once for $ 120.

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Video Tutorial – How to Work a Scene to Find the best Light and Composition

23 Sep

In this short video tutorial, photographer Mike Brown takes you on a photo walk looking for images. Watch as he scans the scene and finds the best camera angle, waits for the right light, and frames the shot for the best composition.

Go on a photo walk and see how Mike goes about working a scene, before quickly snapping a photo and moving on. Take your time, look around. If you see something interesting explore the scene a little. Have patience as well.

Some key points you can learn from this tutorial include:

  • Sometimes you need to wait for the light to change.
  • Simplification is often a good thing.
  • Move around the scene, and put things in the foreground as well.
  • Use shadows for more creating more dramatic images.

The post Video Tutorial – How to Work a Scene to Find the best Light and Composition by Darlene Hildebrandt appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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The iPhone 8 Plus is the best smartphone camera DxOMark has ever tested

23 Sep
Photo: Apple

Apple fans who were hopeful the iPhone 8/Plus would represent a big step up in camera quality over the already-respectable iPhone 7/Plus have something to celebrate. DxOMark just released the results of its iPhone 8 and 8 Plus tests, and the new Apple smartphones represents a significant improvement over the previous versions.

In fact, the iPhone 8 Plus is now the best smartphone camera DxOMark has ever tested, and the iPhone 8 comes in a close second, pushing the Google Pixel down from the top stop into the #3 position.

You can read full iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus reviews by clicking on the respective links, but the conclusion from DxOMark’s review of the Plus just about tells you all you need to know:

Overall, the Apple iPhone 8 Plus is an excellent choice for the needs of nearly every smartphone photographer. It features outstanding image quality, zoom for those needing to get closer to their subjects, and an industry-leading Portrait mode for artistic efforts. It is at the top of our scoring charts in nearly every category — and in particular, its advanced software allows it to do an amazing job of capturing high-dynamic range scenes and images in which it can recognize faces.

‘Nuff said? Now we wait to see how much better (or not) the iPhone X is… and what Google’s response will be when the company reveals its new smartphone on October 4th.

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This simple web tool helps you find the lenses you like best

10 Sep
Photo by Brandi Redd

If you’re having trouble deciding what lens to buy next, and diving into the technical details isn’t helping (we have no idea what that’s like… but we hear it happens), a simple web tool called What the Lens might be able to help. Created by photographer Willie Chik, the tool reveals your lens preference by having you pick your favorite photos from a gallery.

The site pulls images from 500px, automatically sorting them by brand—so you can use What the Lens to find your favorite Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Sony FE, Sony A, Olympus, or Panasonic lens. Then, once you’ve selected your brand, you can further break down the gallery by category—selecting either Landscapes, Macro, Animals, Travel, People, and City.

Finally, once you’ve done all that, it’s time to pick your favorite 20 photos. You can scroll down as far as you’d like, loading more shots until you find 20 you really like, and once you’re done the site will reveal what lens suits you best. In my case, after selecting 20 canon portraits, it came up with this:

Of course, we prefer a more technical approach here at DPReview… one that’s not liable to be skewed by your post-processing preference, what kind of landscapes you like best, or the variety of other issues that come up when you really start to think about this tool as a buying guide.

But if you’re looking for a simple and possibly even fun way to determine what lens deserves to go next on your to-buy list, What the Lens might be worth a go. Just be careful with the “People” category… that one can get a bit not safe for work (NSFW).

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Is Shooting RAW+JPEG the Best of Both Worlds?

06 Sep

For a long time in photography, there has been somewhat of a debate between shooting in RAW versus JPEG. Well, maybe debate is the wrong word. Usually, it is a matter of experienced photographers encouraging beginners to start shooting in RAW and stop shooting JPEG. There isn’t much question that RAW files are superior. Those who don’t edit their files probably don’t really see the point of RAW files though. Therefore, there are plenty of people who shoot both RAW+JPEG

RAW+JPG - The Best of Both Worlds?

Usually, this question gets presented as an either/or proposition. In other words, you have to make a decision, looking at the pros and cons of shooting RAW files and JPEGs. But if you could have the advantages of both, however, wouldn’t that be the way to go? You can, actually!

Take a look at your camera’s Quality or Image Quality setting in the menu. Most cameras will allow you to set you to put that setting on both RAW and JPEG. By doing so, aren’t you getting the best of both worlds?

Let’s take a look. But first, let’s review the advantages of RAW files versus JPEGs.

RAW+JPG - The Best of Both Worlds?

RAW+JPEG settings on Canon system.


When you take a picture, your camera is actually taking the data that it receives from the image sensor and creating a file. In the early days of digital, a group of experts got together and agreed on a file format everyone could use. It is called JPEG and stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group. The idea is that everyone would use the same format and thus it would be easily shareable. And you know what? That has worked out pretty well. JPEGs are more or less ubiquitous. If you just pick up your camera and start shooting, you are creating JPEGs. It is the default of virtually every camera. It is also the format of virtually every picture you see online.

But when your camera creates a JPEG, a few things happen. The first is that the camera compresses the picture data so that the file size is smaller. A JPEG will only use about a quarter of the data that your camera captures. That means that a large chunk of data is actually discarded. Some of that is color data, which is done by reducing the number of available colors (there are still a lot of colors available in JPEGs though). Where you’ll see the biggest impact is in the highlights and shadows, where some detail may be lost.

In addition, the camera will add some processing to the picture. The camera manufacturers know that you want your pictures coming out of the camera looking sharp and colorful. Therefore, they will add some effects, like sharpness, contrast, and saturation to them at the same time that the JPEG file is being created. That is nice in that the pictures generally do look at little better, but the downside is that you aren’t in control of the process.

And that brings us to RAW files.

RAW+JPG - The Best of Both Worlds?

The RAW advantage

In most cameras, you can go into the menu and change the file format to something called RAW. No, there isn’t really some sort of universal file format called RAW. Rather, each camera has its own way of bundling the data that it receives from the image sensor when you take the picture and creating its own proprietary file (NEF for Nikon, CRW or CR2 for Canon, RAF for Fuji, etc.), which is called a RAW file. Right away, you can see an issue with this, in that these files are not easily shareable. In addition, these files are huge, typically 3-4 times the size of JPEGs.

So why does nearly everyone recommend shooting RAW then? Because they are simply superior files. Whereas JPEGs discard data in order to create a smaller file size, RAW files preserve all of that data. That means you keep all the color data, and you preserve everything you can in the way of highlight and shadow detail.

In addition, whereas the camera adds processing when it creates JPEGs, that doesn’t happen when you create RAW files. That means you are in control of the process. You can add whatever level of sharpness, contrast, and saturation (and other controls) you want. The camera isn’t making those decisions for you.

Sure, these files are bigger, but they are way better. Further, you can always create a JPEG from your RAW file later, which you can use to share online while still preserving all the underlying data of the RAW file.

RAW+JPG - The Best of Both Worlds?

RAW+JPEG in the Sony system.

Shooting both RAW files and JPEGs

So RAW files are the way to go, right? I mean, you are preserving all that color data and highlight and shadow detail. And you are in full control of the processing of your picture. But what about if you are not going to process your photos at all? Wouldn’t it make sense to then shoot JPEG since it is the file that looks best coming out of the camera? Or what if you need to send the photo from your camera right away?

Why not take both? Your camera will likely have a setting allowing you to do both so that every time you take a picture the camera is creating a RAW file and a JPEG. That would allow you to have all the advantages of both file types. How might that benefit you? Here are a few ways I see:

  • You can use a JPEG immediately: First of all, you can use JPEGs immediately.  Let’s say you have Wifi in your camera or want to otherwise share the photo immediately. JPEGs make sense for this. RAW files don’t. They aren’t easily shareable and they don’t look the best coming out of the camera anyway.
  • Future-proofs the photo: What if you are creating RAW files with your Canon camera and in 10 years Canon goes out of business? Will your RAW files lose support over time? This seems unlikely, but it is enough of an issue that Adobe has been pushing its own cross-platform solution called DNG (digital negative). However, if you have a JPEG, this will never be an issue. Everyone is shooting JPEGs and they aren’t going anywhere.
  • You can see how the camera processes: If you have a JPEG sitting next to your RAW file on your computer, you can see how your camera decided to process your photo. In other words, you can see how much sharpening, contrast, and saturation was added and, if you like it, mimic that effect when you do your own processing. This can be helpful when you are just starting out and trying to decide how much processing to add to your photos.
  • LCD preview: When you look at a photo on your LCD, you are seeing the JPEG version of your photo. You can add different processing via the Pictures Styles. That includes things like Black and White. So if you want to see effects while maintaining the integrity of the RAW file, then taking both can be beneficial.

Why not shoot only RAW?

But wait a second, you might think. Surely these are really minor advantages. Why bother with all that? Why not just use the RAW file?

Yes, these are really minor advantages, but at the same time, what is the cost? Virtually nothing. Over time, data has gotten cheaper and cheaper. Adding a JPEG costs virtually nothing. Memory cards these days hold hundreds or even thousands of pictures, and they are now pretty cheap. You can now get a 64GB card for about $ 35. You can get hard drives that store terabytes of data for under $ 100. These prices continue to come down as well. Compared to the RAW files you are shooting, the JPEG just takes up a tiny bit of data. So while I agree that adding the JPEG doesn’t add a lot, it also doesn’t cost a lot.

There is one other aspect I haven’t mentioned though and that is speed. Remember that your camera has to write all this data to your card. If you are just taking a few pictures at a time (or one at a time), this will not be a factor. But if you are someone shooting sports or wildlife with a serious need for the maximum frames per second, then there will be an additional cost. The time to write the additional file will slow you down a little bit. In that context, I could definitely see foregoing the extra file. But for most of us, this won’t apply.

RAW+JPG - The Best of Both Worlds?

Why not shoot just JPEG?

At the same time, there are some photographers who will think to themselves, “Well, I don’t process my pictures, so I might as well just shoot JPEGs to get the best looking file I can straight out of the camera.” To those that don’t process their pictures, I would first say, “You should be.” You don’t need to make dramatic changes or make them look surreal, but you can do wonders with some tweaks.

In any case, just because you don’t do any processing of your pictures now doesn’t mean you won’t ever process your pictures. In a year or two, you might change your mind. When that happens, you don’t want to be kicking yourself for not having obtained the best files possible.

Best of both worlds

I have been shooting RAW+JPEG for several years now. Do I actually use the JPEGs? Admittedly, almost never. I always edit the RAW files and usually don’t touch the JPEGs. As mentioned, however, the JPEGs don’t cost me anything so I am sticking with this setting. In addition, there were few times when I was on the road and wanted to send photos straight from my camera so having the JPEG turned out to be useful.

So that’s how it works for me. But ultimately the decision on what type of files you want to create is up to you. What do you think? Is shooting RAW+JPEG the best of both worlds of a waste of space?

The post Is Shooting RAW+JPEG the Best of Both Worlds? by Jim Hamel appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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How To Pick the Best Camera For Your Photography Needs

04 Sep

What is a good camera for me? Everyone might have a different answer to this question. At  the end of the day, the best camera is subject to someone’s photography needs. Sometimes you don’t need to buy the most expensive one just to take that simple shot. And of course, you can’t just use your point and shoot if you Continue Reading

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7,000 Free Photography Tutorials – Here’s our Best 20!

26 Aug

This week on dPS we published our 7,000th post here on the Digital Photography School blog.

7000 photography tutorials

I started this site back in April 2006 because my friends – who had all just bought new DSLRs – kept asking me the same questions about how to use their new gear to its potential.

Instead of answering them one by one I decided to write down my answers on a blog – not really knowing that 11 years later I’d have created a resource that:

  • is read by millions of people every month!
  • employs a team of writers, editors, developers, producers, customer service reps, marketers from around the world
  • has millions of social media followers on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest
  • has published over 20 eBooks, 6 courses and 3 Lightroom Presets Packs
  • has close to 1,000,000 newsletter subscribers.

The mind boggles a little at the crazy journey we’ve had here at dPS and we’re excited about the future.

To celebrate the milestone today I thought it’d be fun to dig into our analytics and take a look at which posts got the most traffic. As I looked over the list I realised many are deep in our archives and may not have been seen by our newer readers and so I thought it’d be useful to some of you to list them here.

Our 15 Most Popular Posts

Each of these most popular 15 posts has been read by millions of people since they were published. Some were published quite a few years ago but most have been updated and are still 100% relevant today.

  • 10 Ways to Take Stunning Portraits
  • Understanding ISO in Digital Photography
  • Long Exposure Photography – 15 Stunning Examples
  • The Rule of Thirds
  • Wedding Photography – 21 Tips for Amateur Wedding Photographers
  • An Introduction to Aperture in Photography
  • Popular Digital Cameras and Gear (regularly updated)
  • An Introduction to Shutter Speed
  • DIY: How to Make an Inexpensive Light Tent
  • Posing Guide: 21 Sample Poses to Get You Started Photographing Women (plus 7 more posing guides for photographing kids, men, couples etc)
  • 7 Photography Projects to Jumpstart your Creativity
  • How to Photograph Fireworks
  • 11 Surefire Landscape Photography Tips
  • 21 Settings, Techniques and Rules all New Camera Owners Should Know
  • The Ultimate Guide to Learning How to Use Your First DSLR

5 More Ultimate Guides

Over the last year we’ve been rolling out a new type of blog post – our ‘Ultimate Guides’. These are longer, deeper and more comprehensive tutorials that we offer both as a blog post but also as a free downloadable guide.

While these are not in our most popular of all time (because they’re new) we’re very proud of these guides and are excited to have plans for numerous more in the coming months.

Here are our first 5 Ultimate Photography Guides:

  • The Ultimate Guide to Photography for Beginners
  • The Ultimate Guide to Landscape Photography
  • The Ultimate Guide to Street Photography
  • The Ultimate Guide for Getting Started in Lightroom
  • The Ultimate Guide to Photography Terms


7,000 free blog based tutorials would not have been possible without an amazing team – particularly our editorial team led by Darlene and with over 100 writers over the 11 years. So thank you to our team.

Also a massive thank you to our readers, followers and customers. Your support helps us keep this site running and inspires us to keep creating the best tutorials we can.

If you’re new to dPS, there’s so much more to see than what I’ve listed above. Dig around in our archives and you’ll find some amazing free content. We also regularly share posts from our archives on our Facebook Page so follow us there to see more of our older posts.

Lastly, make sure you’re subscribed to our newsletter to get notified weekly of the 14 new articles we publish each week.

The post 7,000 Free Photography Tutorials – Here’s our Best 20! by Darren Rowse appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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