Posts Tagged ‘Camera’

Gcam: the story behind the Google Pixel camera software

28 Mar

Google’s now independent X research division, which calls itself ‘the moonshot factory,’ has been publishing a collection of stories about the group’s graduated projects and where they stand today. The latest article in the so-called Graduate Series offers a closer look at Gcam, the software behind the class-leading cameras in Google’s Pixel devices. 

The blog post outlines how the Gcam team was set up back in 2011 to find a solution for the Google Glasses smart goggles’ most pressing challenge: providing a high-quality camera in a very small device. As using bigger hardware wasn’t an option, the Gcam team developed a method called image fusion, which uses multi-frame-stacking techniques to create a single, higher quality image with lower noise levels, better detail and increased dynamic range. 

The technology, which is now called HDR+, quickly grew beyond Google Glass and made it into the Nexus 5 and Nexus 6 cameras and eventually became the default camera mode in the Google Pixel series. The Gcam team now works across a range of imaging-related technologies, including Android, YouTube, Google Photos 360?Virtual Reality projects. If you are interested in more detail you can read the full blog entry on the X blog or find our full Google Pixel XL camera review here.

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Panasonic likely to scale-back camera division

28 Mar

Panasonic is likely to significantly scale-back its camera business, according to a report by Japan’s largest business newspaper. The Nikkei Asian Review says the move is one of the proposals of a report prepared by the company’s business planning department.

Like all large electronics makers, Panasonic has found it hard to make profit in an industry with increasingly tight margins. The report puts forth ways to rationalize the business, sell or close loss-making groups and focus on the company’s areas of strength.

The paper identifies three businesses: ‘digital cameras, private branch exchange telephone systems and optical disk drives,’ which, it says: ‘will be dismantled. Each will be scaled back and placed under the umbrella of other operations, with headcount to be reduced.’

With the number of compact cameras being sold having fallen precipitously and the interchangeable lens camera market stagnant, the digital camera division is an obvious target for cuts as part of the company’s restructuring.

The Nikkei also says that ‘In the chip business, the company is weighing unloading shares in a joint venture with an Israeli enterprise,’ presumably a reference to the TowerJazz Panasonic Semiconductor joint venture that builds CMOS sensors, amongst other things.

Panasonic’s financial year ends on March 31st, so we’ll be watching the announcement of its 2017/18 plans for signs of the report being implemented.

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DIY Hack 2-for-1 Luggage and Camera Roller Bag

23 Mar

Can we really have enough camera bags? In this article, I will show you a DIY hack to easily convert a small travel bag with wheels into a camera roller bag. Basically, you get two bags for the price of one.

DIY Hack 2-in-1 Luggage and Camera Roller Bag

A piece of luggage with wheels on the left and with a padded camera insert on the right – and voila it’s now a camera roller bag!

The one main drawback to being a photographer is the amount of gear you have and what type of bag to store your equipment in. This is especially true whether you are a professional, semi-professional or hobbyist photographer. There is no getting around it, once you invest in any type of camera with interchangeable lens, the add-on extras are similar to lego…you just keep building!

And herein comes the next must-have for any photographer, the camera bag.

DIY Hack 2-in-1 Luggage and Camera Roller Bag

A very inexpensive luggage bag on wheels H54.5 X W34 X D20cm

So much choice

peak design everyday backpack

Courtesy of Peak Design – Everyday Backpack.

With such a plethora of camera bags on the market, it can become a bit of a quandary to know which bag to choose. For me, the one that proves the most comfortable in hauling around gets my vote. Although that said, I do love to see what company is launching the next must-have-camera-bag.

Peak Design’s marketing campaign video for their Everyday Backpack was just brilliant. I had to physically sit on my hands to stop myself pressing the buy button. Oh, I was so tempted!

Assess your needs

My main focus when going to a location shoot is to try and limit the amount of gear I bring. At the same time, I can’t afford the risk of not having that one extra bit of kit that may be crucial to a shot. As I do a lot of location shooting, there have been many occasions where I had to improvise and change the direction of the shoot. This was only possible as I had the extra camera gear with me in my bag. It is about good planning and being professional.

I also find it’s the non-camera gear that is really useful to have with you on a shoot. Even an elastic band comes in handy.

Look at options in non-camera stores

I was at my local shopping center recently and browsing at travel luggage bags. I was on the lookout for one of those carry-on size bags with wheels. Whoever thought of putting wheels on a travel case is a genius.

DIY Hack 2-in-1 Luggage and Camera Roller Bag

This bag from itLuggage proved a great solution for my dual combo – a travel bag that converts into a roller camera bag!

My thinking was two-fold. I needed a small travel bag for trips away, plus I could use the same bag as a camera roller bag. I have always loved the idea of dual functionality with one product, especially when it’s not marketed as such. Plus, storage space in a house can be a premium, so the idea of doubling up on my bags to save space seemed an obvious solution.

The average camera roller case is expensive. One can range from €250 – €500 ($ 265USD – $ 530USD) here in Ireland (Europe). If you are a hobbyist photographer, this price tag may seem pretty high and way above your budget range.

DIY camera roller bag

The simple idea of turning a travel bag into a DIY camera roller bag is just brilliant. What I really liked most about this hack is there is no DIY or customization to be done to the actual bag and it looks great.

travel bag with wheels - DIY camera roller bag

An in-expensive travel bag from itLuggage.

I first saw the concept of turning a luggage bag into a DIY camera roller bag on Fstoppers a few years back. So, I’m in no way claiming this as my idea. However, it is so simple and easy that it is worth sharing the idea again in case you missed it.

This bag which caught my eye was ridiculously cheap at €39, approximately $ 41 USD. It is extremely lightweight and the size was perfect. H54.5 x W34 x D20cm (21.4 x 13.8 x 7.8”). Plus, this size of the bag meets the strict dimension requirements of European budget airlines.

Customize or DIY the bag

I was able to source this padded camera divider with an egg crate foam from B&W International. Even with the Sterling conversion to euros plus shipping. It cost me €50 ($ 53 USD) and in my opinion, was well worth it.

The dimensions of this padded camera divider were perfect for my travel bag:  H43 x W30 D12.5cm (with the egg foam 15cm). (16.9” x 11.8” x 4.9”). Do a search on Amazon for padded dividers by B&W or Pelican to find more size options to fit your bag snugly.

DIY Hack 2-in-1 Luggage and Camera Roller Bag

Inexpensive travel bag with wheels with a padded camera insert and egg crate foam from B&W International. DIY camera roller bag. 

I was impressed with the overall quality and robustness of the material. The dividers are all easily removable and can be configured to your own setup.

padded camera insert

Padded camera divider insert with modifiable velcro attachments, typical of most camera bags.

DIY Hack 2-in-1 Luggage and Camera Roller Bag

Quality padded camera insert from B&W International.

The whole camera bag insert fits snugly into the travel bag with ease.

Try it out

I brought my new roller camera bag to a local event recently and it worked a dream. More importantly, my shoulders were not screaming at me the next day, as those little wheels did all the work.

DIY Hack 2-in-1 Luggage and Camera Roller Bag

Camera gear packed into the padded camera insert with lots more room to spare.

Now, I can’t wait to go away on a trip and use my new travel bag with wheels. I’ll keep you posted!

Have you already done this DIY camera bag hack? Would you consider doing it? If so, please leave your comments in the section below.

The post DIY Hack 2-for-1 Luggage and Camera Roller Bag by Sarah Hipwell appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Midwest Photo camera store thieves reportedly cut hole in roof to steal gear

23 Mar

Midwest Photo, a retail store in Columbus, Ohio, has been the subject of a reported theft that the company president Moishe Appelbaum describes as ‘Mission Impossible style.’ On Wednesday, March 15th, an unknown thief or multiple thieves broke a hole through the store’s roof and used that hole to gain access to a pipe, which was then used by the thieves to slide down into the shop.

Once inside, the thieves stole a cache of items from Midwest Photo’s storage area, including cases, cameras, and lenses. A surveillance camera was able to capture at least part of this theft, though the store says it has now rolled out additional security crews. Speaking to local news affiliate FOX 28 Columbus, Appelbaum said, ‘[It was a] really professional crew that knew what they were doing.’

Appelbaum goes on to state that this may be the work of a professional burglary ring that is targeting camera shops across the Midwest and possibly the nation. ‘This is the third camera store burglary overnight we’ve seen in the Midwest in the past week-and-a-half,’ he said. ‘This is a crew I believe is making their way across the country.’ The company is encouraging anyone with info to contact Midwest Photo or the Columbus police department.

As DPReview previously reported, California lens company Veydra suffered a similar theft a couple days prior to Midwest Photo’s burglary. In that case, thieves broke into Veydra’s California headquarters on Sunday, March 12, and made off with more than 200 lenses. Whether the two incidents are related is unknown. At this time, it doesn’t appear the stolen items in either case have been recovered.

Via: FOX 28

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What are the Best Street Photography Camera Settings and Why

21 Mar

Did you ever wonder how the photographers of the past did it? All they had were manual cameras and yet somehow they had a method that beats even the latest technology in autofocus! Wonder what it was? Let’s find out first what it was and discuss what most call the best street photography camera settings.

The best street photography settings

Now, before getting into this, let’s get something straight. If you are doing something in your street photography and it works for you, then by all means, you’ve found the settings that fit you best and you probably want to stick with them. What I am presenting here are the tried and true ways that not only past photographers used, but most street photographers prefer today. But it’s not magic by any means. With that being said, let’s start with focusing on street photography.

What are the Best Street Photography Camera Settings and Why
What’s faster than autofocus?

I know you are probably wondering how something can be faster than the latest autofocus, especially when every new camera wants you to believe they have the fastest AF in the world. The answer is – pre-focusing. What photographers of the past did was to pre-focus their camera onto a certain zone and simply shot, paying attention so that their subjects were within that area.

If you look at the example below, the photographer could either pre-focus on the blue or red area. Then anything or anyone that came within the blue or red area (depending which they chose) would be in focus.

What are the Best Street Photography Camera Settings and Why

Pre-focus zones.

Autofocus also comes with certain issues, because even if you have the fastest autofocus in the world, it can only guess WHERE you want it to focus. When you have people coming at you, it will most likely focus on the person that is closest to you. You could change your focus points, put if you wanted to shoot outside of that point, you would have to focus and recompose. That is not a luxury you often have in the street. Zones eliminate that problem. They are like a forcefield that you have in front of your camera, whoever enters that force field will be in focus. Those fields usually require smaller apertures, hence street photographers usually rely on f/5.6 or f/8.

Setting up your forcefield

In order to set up your own forcefield, you will need to know what kind of shots you want. Do you want to make images of your subjects up close, or further away? That will determine where you need to focus. Let’s say you want to take a few shots with your subject at less than one meter. All you need to do is to put your lens like so:


My aperture is at f/16, so I would put the marking on the left to 0.7, and look at the other marking on the right. That would tell me that everything between 0.7 to 1.2 meters will be in focus. The way aperture works, the further away you are, the larger the depth of field, so putting it at one meter would have had a lot of space in focus.

But, “my lens doesn’t have those marks”, you say! That’s where a tool like DOFmaster comes in:

Say you have a Canon 7D, for example. Select it from the camera dropdown menu and put in the lens focal length (say 35mm). If you focus at one meter, everything from 0.89m to 1.14m will be in focus. But the tool also tells you how to get the greatest zone of all, it tells you what your hyperfocal distance is. So if you focus at 8.09m, everything from 4m to infinity would be in focus at f/8.

Most street photographers I know set it to the hyperfocal distance. But when the light starts dropping, if they want some part of the image not in focus, or if they want their subjects really close, they use smaller zones (and larger apertures) and switch between them.

But what if your camera doesn’t even tell you where you are focused? Then you just need an app for that. You can download EasyMeasure (iOS) or Smartmeasure (Android). Then stand in front of a wall to get your distance to it, go back and forth until you get your desired distance, then focus on the wall and voila your zone is set!

What are the Best Street Photography Camera Settings and Why
The other settings

Once you have your focus and aperture set, what about your other settings? You’ve got a few choices. First of all, you can leave them all on manual (shooting in Manual mode) and adjust them on the fly. Or you can put the shutter speed on automatic (camera in Aperture priority mode) and deal with ISO manually.

A good choice is to keep the shutter speed above 1/125th because stuff usually happens fast on the streets and below that there is risk of camera shake. Of course the same applies for when you are shooting manually too, better to not go below 1/125th, but that might be different for you if you shoot slowly.

The other setting that is left is ISO. You could also put it on auto-ISO, but put a cap on it. I think most modern cameras that are adjustable should be okay with a cap of 1600. But you’ll have to watch out, some cameras don’t have great auto ISO and will go to ISO 1600 in broad daylight.

What are the Best Street Photography Camera Settings and Why
The Semi-automatic Settings

The settings below will help you to focus on the image and only worry about if someone is in your focus zone or not:

  • Set your aperture to f/8
  • Focus at the hyperfocal distance
  • Auto shutter speed, do not go lower than 1/125th
  • Auto-ISO set to not go higher than 1600

One of the strengths of this system is that it accounts for transition time. Imagine you are walking out of a building, from which the inside was darker than outside, which is super sunny.

If you are in manual shooting mode for your ISO and shutter speed, you may have to adjust the exposure by three stops if an image suddenly appears in front of you. While you’re changing the shutter speed you might not have time to change the ISO and may mess up the exposure. However, if at least one of them was auto, this would have been done for you automatically.

What are the Best Street Photography Camera Settings and Why


There you have it, the street photography settings that the photographers of the past used (sans automatic modes of course) and that many street photographers still use today. But what’s most important is to find out what works best for you and your style of shooting. Try these out. They are tried and true, but nobody said you HAVE to use them. Do what works for you! Be yourself, stay focused, and keep on shooting.

The post What are the Best Street Photography Camera Settings and Why by Olivier Duong appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Sony Digital Filter camera app merges parts of three images into one

19 Mar

Sony has announced the release of a new camera app called Digital Filter, giving photographers a way to merge parts from two or three different images into a single photo. It adds greater flexibility to a similar existing app called Sky HDR. Digital Filter is priced at $ 29.99 or $ 19.99 as an upgrade to Sky HDR.

Though they offer similar functionality, the biggest feature difference between Sky HDR and Digital Filter is that the new app supports merging sections of up to three different images, whereas Sky HDR only allows for two exposures. Sony merely states that, ‘The Digital Filter application offers functionality, ease of use and image quality that go beyond the features of Sky HDR.’

Digital Filter supports the following camera models:

  • Alpha a7
  • Alpha a7 II
  • Alpha a7R
  • Alpha a7R II
  • Alpha a7s
  • Alpha a7s II
  • Alpha a6000
  • Alpha a6300
  • Alpha a6500
  • RX100 III
  • RX100 IV
  • RX100 V
  • RX10 II
  • RX10 III
  • RX1R II

Sky HDR supports certain camera models Digital Filter doesn’t, including the a5100 and three NEX models.

Via: SonyAlphaRumors

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Insta360 Air 360-degree camera for Android quick review

17 Mar

Insta360 Air
$ 129/£139 | | Buy Now 

The Insta360 Air is a smartphone add-on that turns your Android device into a fully-fledged 360-degree VR camera. It’s capable of capturing still images and video, and comes with a live-streaming function. It only weighs 26.5 grams / ~1oz, comes with a protective rubber case and attaches to your phone either via the microUSB or USB Type-C port. We got our hands on the latter version and have tried it out on the Huawei P10 and Motorola Moto Z Force.

Key specifications:

  • Phone Compatibility Android phones
  • Dual-fisheye lenses
  • F2.4 aperture
  • 3008 x 1504 (3K) still image resolution
  • 2560 x 1280 video resolution (3008 x 1504 with some smartphones)
  • 30 frames per second
  • Real-time stitching
  • 37.6mm / 1.48in diameter
  • 26.5 grams
  • Available with microUSB or Type-C connector 
The Insta360 Air is small and lightweight enough to always be carried anywhere. A rubber case provides protection on the go.


The capture screen offers a good range of features, including filter effects. Optionally images and videos can be exported in ‘tiny planet’ format.

Using the Insta360 Air is very intuitive. Plugging the camera into your phone’s USB-port launches the Insta360 app which lets you capture images, record video or live-stream to YouTube or a web-address. When shooting images or video you can apply exposure compensation or Instagram filters, which are applied to the preview image. 

The integrated viewer allows you to create albums and see your recorded content in all its 360-degree glory. There is also a range of sharing options which let you choose between sharing full 360-degree photos/video or ‘tiny-planet’ style images or animations. Overall the app is nicely designed, works reliably on our test phones and reacts swiftly to user input. 

The Insta360 Air can also be used as a 360-degree webcam on Skype and other video-chat applications after connecting to a PC’s USB 2.0 or 3.0 port. 360-degree webcam support for Mac should be provided soon via a software update. 

 The Insta360 Air can also be used as a 360-degree webcam.


In still image mode the Insta360 Air captures photos with a size of 3008 x 1504 pixels. That’s less still image resolution than you’ll find on cameras like the Samsung Camera 360, the LG Cam 360 or the Ricoh Theta SC and when viewed in 360-degree mode on a large screen the levels of fine detail aren’t great. That said, images usually show good color and exposure, and the stitching algorithm that joins the two halves of the images does a very good job. Very occasionally, minor ghosting can be visible but otherwise images taken in good light are relatively free of artifacts.

To view this image in the Google Photos 360 degree viewer click here.

When sharing images, you get the option to export them in a ‘tiny planet’ style format which can, depending on the subject, make for interesting effects. The radius of your ‘planet’ can be adjusted by pinch-zooming. The image below is the ‘tiny planet’ version of the photo above.

This is another image in bright light. Up-close the images can look a little soft but still provides a very immersive experience when viewed in a 360-degree viewer. We also like the way the area right below the camera is slightly darkened to make it less intrusive in the image.

 To view this image in the Google Photos 360 degree viewer click here.

The Insta360 Air deals well with well-lit interior scenes like the one below. There is some luminance noise in shadow areas but given the relatively low image resolution it is not very intrusive.

  To view this image in the Google Photos 360 degree viewer click here.

The image below has captured a good impression of what’s going on in this busy scene at MWC 2017. The camera white balance deals very well with the many different sources of illumination and image detail is not significantly reduced from outdoor images. There is no EXIF-data reported but the shutter speeds are fast enough to avoid most motion blur in indoor scenes.  

  To view this image in the Google Photos 360 degree viewer click here.

Image filters can be applied at the point of capture, like I did for the image below, or in post-processing.  

 To view this image in the Google Photos 360 degree viewer click here.


In video mode the Insta360 Air can record 2560 x 1280 video resolution, which is more or less in line with other entry-level 360-degree cameras. Insta360 says that with some phones a resolution of 3008 x 1504 pixels can be achieved but neither the Motorola Moto Z Force or the Huawei P10 which I used for this test offered this option, despite start-of-the-art chipsets. 

2560 pixels wide is more than Full-HD resolution but stretched across an entire 360-degree circle the it’s actually not that impressive and at screen size videos look a little soft. They are great at typical social media size though, with good exposure and color and smooth motion. As with the stills, occasionally some ghosting is visible. 

The 1280p low-light clip below is clean but again pretty soft. Nevertheless, the clip offers a good impression of the interior space it was recorded in. 

The camera also offers a 960p video option which saves you some space in your phone’s storage, but as you can see in the clip below, compared to the 1280p footage detail is noticeably reduced. If you’re not about to run out of space, 1280p is definitely the better option. Still, the clip below shows that, thanks to the super-wide angle lenses, Insta360 Air footage looks quite stable, even when captured hand-held from a fast-moving bike.

The 960p video below shows that the Insta360 Air is capable of capturing a usable exposure even at night but image quality is suffering quite a lot, making this clip only watchable at small output sizes.

Like in stills mode, you get the option to share videos in the ‘tiny planet’ format. It’s a great way of displaying your entire surroundings in a standard video format and can be a fun effect.


The Insta360 has a lot going for it. It is one of the most affordable 360-degree cameras we have seen, and perfectly integrates with your Android device. It’s ready to shoot a few seconds after plugging it into your phone and doesn’t require a microSD card as it is using your device’s built-in storage. The small dimensions mean you can always carry it with you and inside its rubber carrying case the camera is well protected.

The USB-connector means there is no need for a potentially flaky Wi-Fi connection to your mobile device but it does look a little fragile – disconnecting the camera when using your smartphone for other things is wise. In terms of still image resolution the Insta360 Air is not quite on the same level as some of its rivals in the entry-level segment, but images are well-exposed and mostly free of stitching artifacts. 

Overall, the Insta360 Air is a great introduction to the world of 360-degree imaging that offers a good variety of features and functions to play with. And at $ 129 it doesn’t break the bank either. More information is available at

What we like:

  • Compact dimensions
  • Intuitive app control 
  • Generally good stitching quality
  • Price

What we don’t like:

  • Still image resolution lower than some competitors
  • USB-connection to smartphone feels a little fragile
  • No tripod mount

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10 Must-Use Bird Photography Camera Settings for Beginners

09 Mar

With an overwhelming number of settings on the new DSLRs, it becomes increasingly hectic to know which ones to use. Then it takes an incredibly steep learning curve to understand how these settings work. It is much worse for a bird photographer, isn’t it? Bird photography is extremely challenging and a wrong setting might mean ruined photographs. It took several years for me to identify, practice, and stick to some of the key settings for bird photography.

Let me assure you that these settings are not reached in a philosophical way. They are tried and tested methods of achieving extraordinary results. These settings are the ones I teach to my photography workshop students as the first step towards making better bird photographs.

Set it and forget it

The key to making successful bird photographs is to select the settings and forget about them. Yes! Forget about them. Have only one or two variables so that you can focus primarily on making great bird photographs. Which is the art of photography.

In this article, I will give you 10 must-use camera settings that will help you improve your bird photography. These tips will relieve you of the persisting tension of changing the settings when the action unfolds. Remember, there are no retakes in bird photography. You have to be ready before the action unfolds.

So, let’s jump right in to find out how you can improve your bird photography with these 10 settings.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Please note that it’s not possible to give every step (for every camera) to configure a particular setting. I have given only just a few steps to show you the setting I have described. This is due to the constraint of space and the medium used.

bird photography camera settings

1. Shoot in RAW format

Always shoot in RAW format. If you have never used RAW, then make it a point to use it right now. Pick up your DSLR and set the Image Quality as RAW. Another option is to use RAW + Fine JPEG (or Basic JPEG) if you are unsure that you can handle a RAW file immediately. But, one day you may have to start working with RAW files. So, why not start shooting RAW from this day forward.

RAW Camera Settings for Canon DSLRs:

31 Canon 10 Must Use Bird Photography Camera Settings for Beginners

32 Canon 10 Must Use Bird Photography Camera Settings for Beginners

RAW Camera Settings for Nikon DSLRs:

01 Nikon 10 Must Use Bird Photography camera Settings for Beginners

10 Must Use Bird Photography camera Settings for Beginners

A RAW file holds all the data that your Camera Sensor captures. This means you are utilizing the sensor’s complete capacity. JPEG format, on the other hand, is an image compression standard. It compresses the data to reduce the size of the file, by throwing some of the data away. You don’t want to lose what your sensor captured, right?

Some of the key advantages of using RAW files are:

  • You can modify your White Balance settings during the post-processing stage.
  • The highest dynamic range that the sensor is capable of is stored in a RAW file. More data means more detail in both the shadow and highlight regions of your images.
  • You can bring back phenomenal detail in the shadow regions in the post-processing stage.
  • You can work on getting the perfect contrast and color in your image.
  • And much more.

Have you switched to RAW format yet?

bird photography camera settings

2. Use the Auto White Balance (AWB) Setting

The Auto White Balance (AWB) setting is a boon to every digital photographer. This is especially true for bird photographers. Imagine setting the white balance every time the light changes. On top of that, birds are constantly moving which means it’s almost impossible to set the white balance on the fly.

Even if you say, you can set the White Balance, remember that the light is changing throughout the day. Choosing just one standard white balance might yield wrong colors. Instead, the AWB setting will keep adjusting as the light changes. With newer DSLRs, the AWB setting does a tremendous job of getting the right colors, almost every time. Most often, it’s not necessary to change the white balance settings that the camera chooses for you.

So, use RAW format, set your camera on AWB mode, and then forget about it.

Auto White Balance Settings for Canon DSLRs:

10 Must Use Bird Photography camera Settings for Beginners

10 Must Use Bird Photography camera Settings for Beginners

Auto White Balance Settings for Nikon DSLRs:

10 Must Use Bird Photography camera Settings for Beginners

10 Must Use Bird Photography camera Settings for Beginners

Important Tip: If you use RAW format, you have complete control over the white balance during the post-processing stage. You can set it to any value you want. Tweak it to get the right colors.

3. Use semi-automatic modes like Av/A or Tv/S

It’s a common tendency to shoot in Auto mode as a novice bird photographer. But, you’ll have no control over the resulting exposure. Instead, start using the semi-automatic modes.

They are extremely simple to use and will give you incredible results. Start with the Aperture Priority (Av/A) mode. Most of the pros use this mode, including me. It allows you to choose the aperture (which will define the resulting depth of field), while the camera chooses the shutter speed for you. Combined with the Auto ISO setting (discussed next), it’ll ease your tension of worrying about the right settings.

bird photography camera settings

If you are unable to get the required shutter speed, in the case of low light, choose Shutter Priority (Tv/S) mode. It allows you to select the shutter speed (which helps you to either freeze the action or blur it), while the camera chooses the aperture for you. Combined it with the Auto ISO setting (discussed next) for ease of use.

Semi-automatic Camera Settings for Canon DSLRs:

10 Must Use Bird Photography camera Settings for Beginners

10 Must Use Bird Photography camera Settings for Beginners

Semi-automatic Camera Settings for Nikon DSLRs:

10 Must Use Bird Photography camera Settings for Beginners

10 Must Use Bird Photography camera Settings for Beginners

If anyone has told you that you should use Manual Mode to get the best bird photographs, forget about their advice. It’s not about which mode you use, it’s about how you use it. Forget about these petty talks. Instead, concentrate on making your life easier by using a semi-automatic setting. You’ll thank me, for sure.

4. Use the Auto ISO setting

The Auto ISO setting, if used properly, can solve a lot of problems in bird photography. Most often, you need higher shutter speeds to freeze the action in bird photography. This means you must use higher ISOs. Using higher ISOs, especially on the cropped sensors (like Canon 70D, 7DMarkII, Nikon D500, D7200, etc.), can result in a lot of noise, yielding an unusable photograph.

Most often you would have to work with ISO in the 400-800 range. Instead of setting the ISO to be at 400 or 800, it’s wise to set it to Auto ISO and select the Maximum Sensitivity to be 800. If you are using a full-frame camera (like Canon 1DX, 5DMark3, Nikon D4, D810, etc.), you can set the maximum sensitivity to ISO 1600 (or even 3200 depending on noise levels).

Auto ISO Settings for Canon DSLRs:

10 Must Use Bird Photography camera Settings for Beginners

10 Must Use Bird Photography camera Settings for Beginners

10 Must Use Bird Photography camera Settings for Beginners

Auto ISO Settings for Nikon DSLRs:

Bird Photography camera Settings for Beginners

Bird Photography camera Settings for Beginners

When you use Auto ISO instead of using a static ISO, you are allowing the camera to decide the ISO based on the changing light. Cameras are designed to keep the ISO value as low as possible, at all times.

Say you are working during the early morning when the light level is lower. The camera may start with ISO 800. But, as the light gets brighter and brighter, the ISO values will be smaller and smaller to compensate for the excess light. This means, your photographs will be much cleaner.

5. Use Auto ISO Combined With Minimum Shutter Speed

Many DSLRs allow you to choose the Minimum Shutter Speed in Auto ISO mode. This will ensure that the camera chooses the lowest possible ISO to achieve the Minimum Shutter Speed value. This gives you the best of both worlds. For instance, if you set the Minimum Shutter Speed to be 1/1000th of a second, the camera will alway try to select the lowest possible ISO value to meet your requirement.

bird photography camera settings

NOTE: If there is not enough light in the scene to achieve the required shutter speed despite choosing the maximum ISO, then the shutter speed will drop. So, keep an eye on the resulting shutter speeds.

Auto ISO and Minimum Shutter Speed Settings for Canon DSLRs:

Bird Photography camera Settings for Beginners

Bird Photography camera Settings for Beginners

Auto ISO and Minimum Shutter Speed Settings for Nikon DSLRs:

Bird Photography camera Settings for Beginners

Whenever you are unable to meet the minimum shutter speed that you need, just switch to normal ISO mode and set it to a higher value. But, I don’t recommend higher than ISO 800 on cropped sensors as the results will be too noisy and unusable. There are a few exceptions like the Nikon D500 and Canon 7D Mark II DSLRs that seem to work fine at higher ISOs. My suggestion: Test it. See how far you can push the ISO on your camera before the result looks too noisy.

6. Use the Evaluative/Matrix Metering Mode

The Evaluative (for Canon) and Matrix (for Nikon) options are default metering modes. But there’s a common belief that Spot Metering works best for bird photography. Although it’s true to an extent, it has too many limitations. It’s beyond the scope of this article to discuss it here.

bird photography camera settings

While Spot Metering mode considers just 3-5% of your image frame, Evaluative/Matrix metering mode considers many aspects such as; the subject in focus, other objects in the frame, the background, and uses a weighting system to arrive at the right exposure value. It’s more intelligent than Spot and Center-weighted metering.

When you combine the Exposure Compensation technique (discussed next) with Evaluative/Matrix metering mode, you can get perfect exposures. With recent DSLRs, I have seen that the default metering modes give the best results in the majority of situations. They are sufficient if the dynamic range of your camera is high enough.

Metering Mode Settings for Canon DSLRs:

Bird Photography camera Settings for Beginners

Bird Photography camera Settings for Beginners

Metering Mode Settings for Nikon DSLRs:

Bird Photography camera Settings for Beginners

Bird Photography camera Settings for Beginners

7. The Histogram is your best friend, learn to use it.

Yes, the Histogram is your best friend. If you are not using the Histogram, then you are missing a lot of image potential. There is enough material written about the subject, go ahead and embrace yourself with the knowledge. (Read: Histograms for Beginners)

Every time you take a photograph, you must check the Histogram. Don’t rely on the LCD monitor, check the Histogram. Why? LCD brightness and the ambient light can fool you into believing that a photo is under or overexposed. But, the Histogram gives you a clear cut exposure reading.

bird photography camera settings

Simply put, the Histogram is a graphical representation of the exposure. By looking at the graph you’d be able to see if the photograph is properly exposed, underexposed, or overexposed. Typically, if the graph is skewed towards the right-hand side of the Histogram, your image is overexposed (washed out whites or pure white areas with absolutely no detail).

Bird Photography camera Settings for Beginners Histogram

And if it is skewed towards the left, your image is underexposed (crushed blacks or pure black areas with absolutely no detail).

Bird Photography camera Settings for Beginners Histogram

You want to the Histogram to have the distribution not touching either the left-most end (underexposure) or the right-most end (overexposure). Typically, you are okay as long as the distribution is mostly in the middle.

The Histogram for Canon DSLRs:

Bird Photography camera Settings for Beginners Histogram

The Histogram for Nikon DSLRs:

Bird Photography camera Settings for Beginners Histogram

However, don’t expect the Histogram to look like a Gaussian curve. It needn’t be. Imagine an egret flying against a blue sky. Your Histogram will likely have two pillars on either side of the Histogram. One pillar (towards the left) would indicate the blue sky as it’s close to mid-grey and the other pillar (towards right) would indicate the egret. It’s a perfect exposure.

8. Enable the Highlight Indicator (Blinkies)

This is another useful and practical bird photography tip. The Highlight Indicator, widely known as Blinkies, clubbed with the Histogram and Exposure Compensation (discussed next) can assure you the best exposure at all times. Make sure you start using it from today.

bird photography camera settings

Make sure you keep detail in white feathers by using the histogram and highlight indicator.

The Highlight Indicator indicates any overexposed areas in your image. It’s very hard to know if you have overexposed your image or not, just by looking at the LCD monitor. I would say, never depend on the LCD monitor to review your image for exposure. The LCD monitor should be used for the sole purpose of checking your composition.

Check the Histogram for the exposure. Sometimes, it’s hard to find out if there are any overexposed areas on the Histogram. This is especially true if there’s just a slight overexposed area. That’s where the Blinkies comes in handy. You will see blinkers in the overexposed areas when you Enable Highlight Indicator or Blinkies.

In Canons, blinkies show up in the first screen itself, whereas you have to check RGB Highlights screen in case of Nikon. In any case, make it a point to check the Blinkies every time.

Highlight Indicator Settings for Canon DSLRs:

Bird Photography camera Settings for Beginners blinkies

Bird Photography camera Settings for Beginners blinkies

Bird Photography camera Settings for Beginners blinkies

Highlight Indicator Settings for Nikon DSLRs:

Bird Photography camera Settings for Beginners blinkies

Bird Photography camera Settings for Beginners blinkies

Bird Photography camera Settings for Beginners blinkies

If you develop this habit of checking the Histogram and Blinkies after every exposure, you are sure to improve your bird photography. Combine it with the Exposure Compensation technique you’ll see the improvement in leaps and bounds. Why not decide to use them from today?

9. Use Exposure Compensation (+/- Ev) to Tweak the Exposure

Here’s the best bird photography tip that I can offer: If you want to achieve the perfect exposure, then start using the Exposure Compensation technique right now. You’ll see a drastic improvement in your bird photography once you start using it.

The metering modes can only give you the exposure values based on some algorithms. It’ll never know what the subject is and how it should be rendered. For instance, it might render an egret in gray rather than white, and render a cormorant extremely dark. Because all the metering modes work on a concept called 18% Gray. I recommend you to read about it.

bird photography camera settings

Tweak exposure compensation to keep black feathers looking black.

It’s almost always necessary to tweak the exposure to record all the details in the scene. It’s especially important to render the subject in as much detail as possible. Simply put, expose for the subject.

By using Exposure Compensation technique, you can tell the camera to either underexpose or overexpose the scene by a particular value. Say, you chose -1 Stop Exposure Compensation using +/- button (as shown) on your camera. Then, the camera will underexpose the scene by 1-stop. If you select +1 Stop, then it will overexpose the scene by 1-stop.

Exposure Compensation Settings for Canon DSLRs:

Bird Photography camera Settings for Beginners

Bird Photography camera Settings for Beginners

Exposure Compensation Settings for Nikon DSLRs:

Bird Photography camera Settings for Beginners

Bird Photography camera Settings for Beginners

So, start using Exposure Compensation to improve your bird photography. You’ll see phenomenal improvement with just an exposure tweak of +/- 1/3 stops. Try it and you’ll see.

10. Learn to use AE/AF Lock or the AF-ON Button

One of the biggest issues that a bird photographer faces is to switch between AF-S (or One-Shot AF) to AF-C (or AI-Servo) mode. Normally you would need AF-S (or One-Shot AF) for the birds which aren’t moving (or perched birds) and AF-C (or AI-Servo) mode all other times.

bird photography camera settings

It’s quite easy now-a-days to fix this issue. If you have AF-ON button at the back of your camera, it’ll solve the issue. AF-ON button is used for back-button focusing (also known as rear-button focusing). Instead of half-pressing the shutter button to start focusing, you can use the AF-ON button to trigger autofocus functionality.

When you are using the back-button focusing, make sure you have set the shutter button to only take photos and to not autofocus. This will leave the focus only for the AF-ON button. Now, all that you have to do is, always use AF-C (or AI-Servo) mode so that you are ready for the action.

Whenever you release the AF-ON button it’ll automatically lock the autofocus, which means, it’ll work as AF-S (or One-Shot AF). If you don’t have AF-ON button, you can likely configure any other button, say the AE-L/AF-L button to do the same thing.

Focus Settings for Canon DSLRs:

Focus Settings for Nikon DSLRs:

Bird Photography camera Settings for Beginners

Bird Photography camera Settings for Beginners

Bird Photography camera Settings for Beginners

Bird Photography camera Settings for Beginners

Here’s when you use back-button focus:

For example, say a bird is currently perched. You want to make few compositions while it is static, but at the same time, you would like to be ready for any action like flight. All that you do is, be ready in AF-C (AI-Servo) mode, press the AF-ON button to achieve focus, and release it to lock the focus. Then start taking photos as if you are in AF-S (One-Shot Focus) mode. If you see any slight movement, press the AF-ON button and you are already in the AF-C (or AI-Servo) mode. It’s the best of both worlds, isn’t it?

This is one of the advanced bird photography techniques I have described here. It might take a while to understand but try it. You’ll love it.

bird photography camera settings

IMPORTANT NOTE: Please note that it’s not possible to give every step to configure a particular setting. I have given only just a few steps to show you the settings I have described. This is due to the constraint of space and the medium used. Consult the user manual for your camera if you need more help.


If you can bring these 10 camera settings into practice in your daily bird photography, you’ll see a drastic improvement in your images. But remember, settings and equipment can only take you so far. They are just the means to an end, not the end itself.

I strongly recommend you to read my most popular article 10 Incredible Bird Photography Tips for Beginners.

Remember, your goal is to make your life easy with the right camera settings. The fewer settings you have to deal with, the better. Don’t get bogged down by settings as such, concentrate more on making better bird photographs. If you know what you want, you’ll find a way. I would recommend you to find an easy way.

Another suggestion is to take it easy. Don’t try to pressurize or overwhelm yourself with the information. Take one tip at a time and practice it. As always, practice makes perfect.

Everything can be mastered over time. With the right mentor and right practice, you’ll eventually become an excellent bird photographer. Just keep at it.

Think Photography. Think Simple.

The post 10 Must-Use Bird Photography Camera Settings for Beginners by Prathap DK appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Adobe Lightroom CC 2015.9 arrives with new camera and lens support, loads of bug fixes

09 Mar

In addition to its Camera Raw update, Adobe has released Lightroom CC 2015.9, adding support for additional cameras and lens profiles, as well as nearly two dozen bug fixes. The update is available now; existing users can download the latest version by selecting ‘Help’ > ‘Updates’ in the application’s menu.

Adobe Lightroom 2015.9 adds support for the following cameras:

  • Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II
  • Casio EX-ZR3200
  • Fujifilm GFX 50S
  • Fujifilm X100F
  • Fujifilm X-A10
  • Fujifilm X-T20
  • Leica M10
  • Olympus E-M1 Mark II
  • Panasonic DC-FZ80
  • Panasonic DC-GF9
  • Panasonic DC-GH5
  • Panasonic DMC-TZ82
  • Phase One IQ3 100MP (“S” compression mode not supported)

In addition to the new camera support, Lightroom 2015.9 has gained support for more than two dozen lens profiles, including for lenses from Nikon, Canon, Apple, Sony, and DJI. The full list of lens additions can be found here.

Lastly, the new Lightroom CC update corrects 21 different bugs and issues as detailed in the following changelog:

  • Upright error where the “Update” button was incorrectly enabled when Upright is unable to find a correction.
  • Lens Profile Auto Matching was not working for Zeiss Batis 85mm lenses.
  • Cursor movements on Point Curves were erratic
  • Issue related to abnormal Lightroom exit when using Full Screen mode. The issue only occurred on Mac OS 10.12 (Sierra)
  • Develop Module Locked after deleting images while using two displays
  • Live Photos created on iPhoto caused the JPEG to be treated like an XMP sidecar file
  • Instead of deleting currently selected photo, deletes face tag from previous viewed photo
  • Images from Canon EOS G7X MK II sometimes had a green color cast
  • Unable to change the image after deleting a rejected photo in develop module
  • Export was taking longer than expected.
  • Unable to import compressed raw files from Fujifilm XT-2 and X-Pro2
  • iPhone video Capture Time is shifted upon Import
  • Slideshow Export as JPG text overlay issue
  • If using 2-byte characters for catalog path, unable to backup
  • Problem with map module (Windows)
  • Cannot access Auto Import Settings form File menu
  • The zoom does not work properly after the update
  • Lightroom 6.8: Memory Leak
  • Keyboard shortcut X for rejecting an image in Library not available (French)
  • Erroneous warning message on Catalog Backup
  • Messing up file ordering with panoramas

Via: Adobe Blog

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Field Test: The Hasselblad True Zoom Camera and Moto Z Smartphone

09 Mar

It’s impossible to ignore the fact that camera phones are becoming increasingly better. With impressive image quality and the ability to add on and shoot with mobile phone lenses, the case for replacing your dedicated camera with your cell phone is becoming more compelling by the day. However, one aspect of camera phones really hasn’t seen much improvement: ergonomics. Shooting with a camera phone is for some still pretty awkward and difficult to get used to. Here’s where the Hasselblad True Zoom comes into play.

Below are some notes and observations from a week-long experiment of shooting with the Hasselblad True Zoom and Moto Z smartphone.

Field Test: The Hasselblad True Zoom Camera and Moto Z Smartphone

What is the Hasselblad True Zoom?

The Hasselblad True Zoom makes your smartphone feel and function like a point-and-shoot camera. It is one of many Moto Mods available to add extra features to Motorola Moto Z smartphones, so all mods are limited to use on the Moto Z phones only. All Moto Mods attach to the phone via extra strong magnets, and can easily be detached.

To be perfectly honest, the Moto Z smartphones have superb native cameras. The Moto Z Force Droid, in particular, is very impressive and it even outperforms the Apple iPhone 7. This is to say that image quality is great with or without the Hasselblad True Zoom mod, but it is certainly nice to have some of the mod’s extra features.

Field Test: The Hasselblad True Zoom Camera and Moto Z Smartphone

Hasselblad True Zoom Specs

  • Compatible phones: Moto Z Droid, Moto Z Force Droid, Moto Z Play Droid
  • Dimensions / Weight: 152.3 x 72.9 x 9.0 – 15.1 mm / 145g
  • Sensor resolution: 12MP
  • Video resolution: 1080p Full HD at 30fps
  • Sensor size / Pixel size: 1/2.3-inch / 1.55 um
  • Aperture: f/3.5-5.6
  • Zoom: 10x optical/4x digital
  • Flash: Xenon flash
  • Capture modes: Photo, panorama, video, professional, night landscape, night portrait, sports, day landscape, back light portrait
  • Storage Internal phone: 32GB-64GB microSD
  • Price: $ 250
  • Carrying case included

best smartphone photography camera

The good

By far the best part of about the Hasselblad True Zoom is the fact that it allows you to use a phone (somewhat) like a real camera!

Physical camera controls

For those of us who despise having to pinch to zoom on a mobile phone, the Hasselblad True Zoom is a welcome relief. The mod is complete with a physical shutter release button and a physical zoom switch to operate the mod’s 25-250mm-equivalent range. There’s also an on/off button to turn the camera off and on without having to first unlock the phone.

Field Test: The Hasselblad True Zoom Camera and Moto Z Smartphone

Ability to control the camera via a touchscreen

After the mod is attached, the phone’s stock camera app switches over to “Professional mode.” This mode allows for manual camera control via the phone’s touchscreen. While you don’t have true manual control over every aspect of the camera (more on that below), you can adjust certain features such as ISO, capture mode (e.g. Action, Portrait mode, etc.), and choose to shoot in RAW or JPG format.

Field Test: The Hasselblad True Zoom Camera and Moto Z Smartphone

Professional mode options.

Comes with a carrying case

While you can operate your phone as usual even with the mod attached, you’ll probably want to remove it occasionally. Luckily, a solid carrying case with a wrist strap is included so you can keep your mod safe when you aren’t using it.

What could be improved

For every positive feature listed above, there’s an aspect that could be improved.

Limited manual control

Manual camera control on the Hasselblad True Zoom mod is still pretty limited. While it’s nice to be able to adjust the ISO, it’s not possible to adjust aperture or shutter speed. It’s a real shame, considering the native f/3.5-5.6 aperture available.

Field Test: The Hasselblad True Zoom Camera and Moto Z Smartphone

Extra physical features missing

The addition of a physical shutter button and zoom toggle is very welcomed and makes it easier to operate your phone like a true camera. However, two key features are missing.

First is a wrist strap that attaches to either the phone or camera. Considering how expensive the devices are and how bulky they can get, a strap would add a sense of security.

Second is a tripod thread. Since you don’t have full manual control over the camera, many low lighting shots revert to settings with incredibly slow shutter speeds, resulting in blurry images when shot handheld. Also, trying to take advantage of the mod’s 10x zoom feature while also holding the camera steady is incredibly tricky. There are some sample images below that demonstrate these focusing problems. The ability to shoot with a tripod would greatly enhance the resulting images.

Field Test: The Hasselblad True Zoom Camera and Moto Z Smartphone


It’s impossible to ignore the allure of being able to shoot and carry a Hasselblad camera that fits into your pocket. The only problem is this camera won’t quite fit in your pocket unless you’ve got exceptionally large ones. While the bare Moto Z phone is slim enough to be tucked into most pockets, the camera mod adds just enough bulk to make the device difficult to carry. The carrying case is nice for protecting the mod, but it’s an awkward size that won’t fit into most pockets or purses.

Uncertain future

Moto Mods are a brand new concept for Motorola, a company recently taken over by Lenovo. Thus, the future of the Moto Z phone line and Moto Mods as a whole is pretty uncertain. No one knows if the next generation of Moto Z phones will be compatible with the Hasselblad True Zoom, or if the Moto Z line will continue at all. As a result, this can be a risky investment.

In Conclusion

The Hasselblad True Zoom is a step in the right direction for mobile photography. Having physical controls to better control smartphone cameras are welcome additions, but there is certainly room for improvement in future iterations.

What do you think about the idea of the Hasselblad True Zoom? Would you pick one up to try for yourself?

Hasselblad True Zoom Sample Images

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