Posts Tagged ‘Lens’

Our Favorite Photos by YOU, Photojojo-ers + A Lens Sale!

23 May

This week only, take 30% off all phone lenses in our shop!

Yup, our universal Magnetic Phone Lenses, fancy-pants iPhone Iris Lenses and the super sneaky Spy Lens. Even our multi-lens sets (that already save you some moola) are on sale.

Want to see just what these puppies can do? Check out our favorite snaps from your fellow Photojojo-ers.
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2017 Roundup: Semi-Pro Interchangeable Lens Cameras

20 May

What do we mean by Semi-Pro?

Within this category, you’ll find some of the most capable cameras the industry has to offer. The Semi-Pro name doesn’t indicate that they’re below the consideration of professionals, though. Quite the opposite: it means that their price and performance makes them attractive to a range of enthusiasts, photographers who make some money from their shoots and professionals who earn their livelihood with their camera.

Due to the fuzzy line between semi-pro and pro, we’ve made the decision to not include very high-end full-frame (e.g. Nikon D5, Canon 1D X Mark II, Sony a9) and medium format (e.g. Pentax 645Z and Fujifilm GFX 50S) cameras in this roundup.

All of the cameras in this price range use full-frame sensors. And while most of them are DSLRs, there are also several mirrorless options as well. Simply put, there is something here to satisfy just about everyone who is willing to pony up the requisite funds. Read through to see what makes this segment so cut-throat, and what innovations are driving this tier forwards at a remarkable pace.

The models covered in this roundup are:

    • Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
    • Canon EOS 5DS / 5DS R
    • Leica M10
    • Leica SL
    • Nikon D750
    • Nikon D810
    • Sony Alpha a7R II
    • Sony Alpha a7S II
    • Sony Alpha a99 II

Read on to see which cameras we chose as best-in-class!

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AI-powered Google Lens can identify types of flowers, give info about restaurants

19 May

At Google I/O 2017 the company showed off its new Google Lens technology. This AI-powered capability uses visual recognition to provide information about whatever your smartphone’s camera is pointed at. Examples given by the company include identifying a type of flower or providing reviews and other information about a restaurant.

You will also be able to point the camera at a concert sign and have the opportunity to buy tickets, or get connected to a Wi-Fi network by aiming at the router’s ID ‘setting sticker.’

Google Lens will be incorporated into the company’s Photos and Assistant apps, but specific release dates aren’t given.

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Which DSLR Lens Should You Choose?

15 May

Nothing gives you more creative control over your photo snapping, than venturing into the world of DSLR photo-ing.

You can trick out your camera with new lenses, lights, tripods, and more to get just the photo-style you’re looking for. But, figuring out what lens to pick up first can be daunting.

So, we asked our Twitter followers (that’s you! Or … it could be) what lenses they first bought (or wish they had) after their kit lens – and we got lots of great answers and advice!

We’ve put these tips into this helpful guide so buying your first lens will be easy-peasy.

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Shiftcam is a 6-in-1 lens case for the iPhone 7 Plus

15 May

The dual-camera of the iPhone 7 Plus with its 28 and 56mm equivalent lenses, offers more flexibility in terms of focal length and framing than most smartphones. The Kamerar attachment we tested some time ago increases this flexibility even further by adding more tele reach, macro capability and a fish-eye lens. 

The new Shiftcam camera lens case that is now on Kickstarter takes things one step further by adding even more lens options. The concept it similar to the Kamerar, with a system that is built around a shock-proof case that comes with a camera grip and an optional wrist strap. A snap mechanism and sliding lens module allow for quickly switching between telephoto, wide-angle, fisheye and macro options. The current prototype design includes the following lenses:

  • 120 Degree Wide-angle
  • 10X Macro
  • 20X Macro
  • 180 Degree Fisheye Lens
  • 2X Telepho

The makers of the Shiftcam are currently collecting funds for finalization of the design and mass production on the Shiftcam Kickstarter page where you can also secure a Shiftcam case by pledging $ 59. Shipping is planned for August 2017. We are hoping to get our hands on a review unit soon for a more in-depth look.

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Can you build a cheaper X100 with a mirrorless body and pancake lens?

15 May
One of the ones to beat: the Fujifilm X100F offers excellent image quality in a relatively compact and, dare I suggest, quite attractive package.

As a bunch of (perhaps above-averagely tech devoted) photographers, one of the unifying factors in the office is our love of larger sensor, fixed prime lens cameras. Obviously there are still arguments about whether they should be 28mm or 35mm equivalent and whether the compactness and lower price of APS-C outweighs the image quality benefits of full-frame, but that’s because we’re an awkward, opinionated bunch. We’re broadly agreed that they’re a great concept.

But is there another way of getting the same result? Of putting together a small mirrorless camera and one of the newly prevalent pancake primes, and ending up with a cheaper and more flexible combination?

There’s always something enticing about the prospect of doing something your own way, of cleaving from the path prescribed by the marketeers, and coming up with a better solution.

So what are your options? Let’s looks at the lenses available and then see if there’s an appropriate body to match.

The lenses

First it helps to decide what focal length you want. I’ve mapped the most common pancake lenses on a graph, showing equivalent focal length and equivalent aperture. This lets us compare field of view, depth of field and, to a reasonable approximation: low light image quality. I’m not going to argue about this, it just does.

As this chart shows, you broadly speaking get to choose from roughly 24, 28, 35 or 40mm equivalent lenses. I’ve included a couple of our favorite fixed-lens prime cameras on for reference.

Looking at the chart, you might think: ‘great, I’ve got lots of choices.’ But please let me ‘manage your expectations,’ if you don’t mind me using one of the most loathsome phrases I’ve ever encountered.

Why don’t I want you to get your hopes up too much? Well, mainly because some of these lenses just aren’t very good. The precise reasons for my skepticism vary but a recurrent concern is that far too many of these lenses use ‘unit focus’ or ‘group focus’ design, where a most, if not all of the lens groups have to be moved around to focus the lens. This is probably the worst way to design a lens that’s going to be used with contrast detection AF: accelerating lenses in one direction and then the other rewards the lightest of focusing elements. By contrast, trying to heft multiple groups around takes rather longer. On the other hand, this design can give good optical results. Eventually.

Then you’ve got the lenses that are optically iffy. The Sony 16mm F2.8 E may stand out because it’s the only 24mm equivalent option here, but there’s the slight downside that it’s legendarily indifferent. In fairness, there may be examples that don’t have corners or whole sides of the lens that are a bit mushy, I’ve just never encountered one.

28mm equiv.

28mm equivalent lenses allow you to shoot slightly wider-angle scenes. Or this picture of a train.

There are two stand-out choices here: the tiny but seeming end-of-life Panasonic Lumix G 14mm F2.5 II Aspherical II and the not-really-a-pancake at all Sigma 19mm F2.8 DN for Sony E-mount. Both are fast-focusing and, at around $ 280 and $ 200 respectively, are rather keenly priced. And, to add to the appeal, the main camera they’re likely to have to face down is the Ricoh GR II, which has only a moderately fast F2.8 maximum aperture (and unit focus, would you believe), so either of these lenses should be able to offer a credible alternative.

35mm equiv.

At 35mm equiv, again there are two obvious choices. Personally I’d prefer the Olympus 17mm F1.8 over the Canon 22mm F2, just on the basis that it uses a single, internal focus element. This means it’s much faster than the Canon, whose group focus design holds it back a little, even on the latest EOS M bodies with their clever Dual Pixel AF.

That said, the Canon is a jolly reasonable $ 250, rather than the $ 400 that the Oly will set you back. Also, the Olympus is again a little stout to really class as a pancake lens. But, given it can be paired with some very small bodies and because I like its snap-back manual focus ring, I’m keeping it in the running.

40mm equiv.

The GX85 isn’t as small as the GX850 (which makes us mourn the end of the GM line all the more), but it still pairs rather well with the 28mm equiv 14/2.5 or the 40mm equiv 20/1.7.

40mm equiv used to be a fairly standard lens for fixed prime lens cameras. It doesn’t really have the hint-of-wide-angle charm of a 35mm equiv, but some people like it. It’s Panasonic’s 20mm F1.7 that’s the obvious choice here. It’s the same old story: ‘first pancake design? let’s use unit focus,’ but it’s a pretty reasonable $ 270 and it’s fast enough so long as you don’t have ambitions of using it in AF-C mode all the time.

Fujifilm’s 27mm F2.8 is a little slower, in equivalent terms, but it’s really the combination of this and a $ 450-odd price tag that puts me off.

The cameras

So, what are the best cameras to pair these little lenses with? Personally, I’d argue that the perfect pancake-shooting camera will carefully balance three key properties: size, price and a degree of external control. I don’t expect all three to be optimal, but those are the things I need, if I want to get anywhere close to the experience of something like a Ricoh GR or a Fujifilm X100 series.

I’m not going to insist on a viewfinder, since Ricoh, Fujifilm, Leica and Sony have sold prime lens cameras without them and presumably they’ve done some sort of market research before committing hundred of thousands of dollars to that decision. But it’s a nice thing to have.

There’s more to this than lens depth. A 60mm equiv camera with a full-depth SLR mount and single control dial isn’t quite what I’m talking about.

Sony E-mount

This one’s easy, I reckon. The Sony a6000 is small, it offers a degree of external control plus a little bit of customization, has a viewfinder and is available for $ 500. Even though I have mixed feelings about the small, convenient and frequently slightly wonky 16-50mm power zoom, you can pick it up as part of a kit for just one hundred extra dollars. And, in doing so, take some advantage of the extra flexibility that comes from going down the ILC route.

The a5100 is also worth a look. It’s essentially the same hardware but with fewer controls and less scope for customization so would seems to fall foul of my rules almost immediately, but the flip-up touchscreen is going to appeal to some people.

I wouldn’t, personally, try to save money by picking up an NEX-6, at this point. On paper it doesn’t look that different from an a6000 (it was slightly higher spec in a couple of respects), but having got used the to improved menus and customizable function menu of the a6000, I couldn’t go back. Especially not for a camera I actually want to enjoy.

Canon EF-M

Canon has bounced around all over the shop in terms of who it’s targeting with its EOS M cameras. Whether this is an attempt to protect its DSLR sales or a sincere belief that only entry-level users want mirrorless cameras, it’s meant there aren’t many options if you want an enthusiast level of direct control.

The Canon 22mm F2 isn’t the fastest focusing lens but it’s better on the company’s more recent cameras and makes a great ‘world as I see it’ documentary lens.

The EOS M3 was the first model to include both a command dial and a dedicated exposure comp dial, so is one of the few I’d consider for this task. You can pick one up for around $ 430 at the moment, so it’s pretty well priced, too.

Like the Sony a5100, the EOS M10 is a simplified, primarily touchscreen-controlled model, which isn’t really my thing, but might be yours.

Sadly, both of these models are built around the company’s last generation Hybrid AF CMOS sensors. It works reasonably well but it’s not a patch on the Dual Pixel AF that arrived with the M6. The M6 would be a much better fit for this role than either of the bodies I’ve mentioned, but sadly it’s currently around $ 900, which significantly undermines the aim of putting together a cheap kit. If the price drops, though…

Micro Four Thirds

The Micro Four Thirds system has two great advantages, here: as the world’s first Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera system, both Olympus and Panasonic have had enough time to develop some inexpensive bodies with a good level of control. Then, of course, its slightly smaller sensor allows the camera bodies and lenses to be that bit smaller, too.

The Panasonic 20mm F1.7 pairs well with a small camera body, meaning it’s with you when a stranger unexpectedly throws straw at you.

This leaves you with a good choice of bodies. On the Panasonic side of things, there’s the GX850/GX800, which is currently the company’s smallest body. Sadly it’s not quite as small as the ‘GM’ series it replaces. The GM5 would be perfect for this application, but it’s only going to get harder to find one at a decent price, now. The slightly larger GX85/GX80, which gives more direct control. If you’ve spotted anything of a trend so far, you won’t be surprised that this is the one I’d go for.

The Olympus rival here would be the E-PL8 (or the PL7 if you can find one). With a little bit of button reassignment and customization, the PL8 makes a pretty good hands-on shooter and also offers a flip-up touchscreen. The JPEG color is lovely, too, which is a bonus if that was one of the factors pushing you towards the X100F.


28mm equiv:

  • Sony a6000 + Sigma 19mm F2.8
    ~ $ 700 ($ 800 with kit zoom)

As I say, this one’s easy. It’s a capable camera at a fiercely competitive price. The Panasonic GX85 + 14mm lens will be a bit smaller, feels a bit better in the hand and offers 4K video, but it ends up being around $ 900 and you don’t even get the kit lens for that, so I’d go with the Sony/Sigma combination.

35mm equiv:

  • Olympus E-PL8 + 17mm F1.8
    ~ $ 950 ($ 1050 with 12-32mm kit zoom)
  • Fujifilm X-A3 + 23mm F2
    ~$ 1050 (including 16-50mm kit zoom)
  • Canon EOS M6 + 22mm F2
    ~$ 1020 ($ 1150 with 15-45mm kit zoom)

As you can see, you get plenty of choices if you prefer the 35mm equiv focal length (which, as right-thinking people, you should). The Olympus is both pretty and pretty small, the Canon is the most expensive but fits more honestly into the Mirrorless+Pancake definition and requires much less reconfiguration to adapt it to the task.

But, since this is an opinion piece, not a review, I’m going to cheat and choose something that I’ve not even mentioned yet: the Fujifilm X-A3 and 23mm F2. Sorry to spring it on you like that.

He just came out of nowhere! Grabbed shot with the Fujifilm X100F

Clearly I’m not sorry, though. The X-A3 isn’t as well built as the Canon, and the Fujifilm 23mm F2 doesn’t fit any sensible definition of a pancake, but it’s the closest you’ll get to the capabilities of the X100 series. On top of this, the X-A3 has twin control dials, a 24MP sensor and a sensible price tag, so it’s in. And, just to add to the appeal, it is part of a system with the best range of circa-$ 500 prime lenses I can think of. So there.

Fixed lens or ILC?

Swings and roundabouts: there are advantages and disadvantages to each solution, but both these 35mm equivalents have a lot going for them, whether as main or secondary camera.

Ultimately, going down this route, whichever brand and combination you choose doesn’t buy you such an photographer-focused camera as the likes of the Ricoh GR II or the Fujifilm X100F. You usually have to settle for a darker lens and significantly less control. Worse still, you don’t even necessarily save that much money.

However, the clear benefit of slapping a pancake (or something vaguely like it) on a little mirrorless camera is flexibility. Because, as soon as you want to expand your horizons beyond the pancake’s field of view, you can can put on another lens and do just that. So please think carefully about which other lenses are available and, whatever you decide, I hope you enjoy the prime lens shooting experience.

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2017 Roundup: Interchangeable Lens Cameras around $500

14 May

Entry-level interchangeable lens cameras have never been so affordable or more capable. There are plenty of choices around the $ 500 mark that will take better pictures than most cameras ever made.

They don’t always have the very latest sensors or the premium build quality of their more expensive midrange siblings – and their controls tend to err on the side of simple, rather than extensive – but they tend to be excellent value and comparatively easy to use.

All of these cameras – both mirrored and mirrorless – produce good image quality, offer respectable performance and can record Full HD video. The majority have Wi-Fi to make it easier to share images to a smartphone. Many of them are targeted toward beginners, with ‘help’ systems that point out the best settings to use for various shooting situations.

Those unfamiliar with DSLR and mirrorless cameras may be wondering what advantages and disadvantages each brings to the table. DSLRs are larger cameras, with a more ‘traditional’ shape and control layout, as well as an optical viewfinder. While they’re great for shooting stills, they’re not as well suited to video capture, and focusing using live view tends to be sluggish. Mirrorless cameras are typically smaller and are very capable video shooters, and live view focusing is much faster than most DSLRs. Two negatives about mirrorless cameras are that battery life isn’t nearly as good as a DSLR and – especially true in this class – they often lack a viewfinder.

Let’s take a look at several entry-level ILCs, with US MSRPs in the $ 500 region, kit lens included:

  • Canon EOS M10
  • Canon EOS Rebel T6
  • Fujifilm X-A3
  • Fujifilm X-A10
  • Nikon 1 J5
  • Nikon D3400
  • Olympus PEN E-PL8
  • Sony Alpha a5100
  • YI M1

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Comparing a 50mm Versus 85mm Lens for Photographing People

12 May

As a writer for Digital Photography School, one of the most frequently asked questions I receive from beginner and intermediate photographers is, “If I have to choose just ONE lens to buy right now, which one should I choose?” We’ve previously discussed the differences between a 24mm lens and a 50mm lens for photographing people, and in that same vein, it’s time for another lens showdown!

lens photographing people

In this article, we’ll be discussing the differences between an 85mm and a 50mm lens for photographing people. Once again, I’ll walk you through several sets of similar images taken with each lens so that you can easily see the differences between the two. Hopefully, you can walk away with a better understanding of which lens might be the best upgrade for you.

To keep things consistent, all images in this article were taken with a Canon 60D, and either the Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens or the Canon 85mm f/1.8 lens. The Canon 60D is an APS-C sensor (cropped sensor) camera, so in order to determine the functioning focal length of these lenses on this camera, multiply the lens focal length by 1.6 (multiply by 1.5 if you use Nikon). So on a cropped sensor camera, the 50mm lens functions roughly as an 80mm lens, and the 50mm lens functions as a 136mm lens.

1. Differences in Depth of Field

lens photographing people

This image was taken with Canon 85mm lens at f/1.8.

One of the biggest differences between the 85mm lens and the 50mm lens is the distance that you’ll need to stand from your subject. With the 85mm lens, the minimum focusing distance is 2.8 ft, and with the 50mm lens, the minimum focusing distance is 1.15 ft.

This means that in general, you will be standing further away from your subject with the 85mm lens, than you will with the 50mm. In turn, this decreases the depth of field, which means that images shot with the 85mm lens tend to have much blurrier bokeh than images shot with the 50mm lens, even when using the same aperture.

lens photographing people

This image was taken with a Canon 50mm at f/1.8.

You can see the difference clearly in the cherry blossoms in the background of the two images above, both of which were shot at f/1.8. The cherry blossoms are fairly well blurred in both images, but the shape of the blossoms is more defined in the image taken with the 50mm lens, and the blossoms are significantly more blurred and creamy in the image that with the 85mm lens.

Of course, everyone has a different preference when it comes to bokeh. Some prefer the more uniform creaminess that the 85mm lens offers, while other photographers prefer to have a little more definition in the background.

lens photographing people

Left: 85mm lens | Right: 50mm lens.

You may even find that you prefer different approaches in different applications! For example, I usually favor the more uniform bokeh of the 85mm lens. However, when I’m photographing in the grass, I prefer the bit of texture which the 50mm lens provides (see the examples above).

This is purely a matter of preference, so start making mental notes about which type of images you tend to prefer when you look at other photographers’ work. If you find that you are always drawn to the creamier texture, then the 85mm lens may be a better fit for you. If you prefer a bit more texture in the background, you may want to consider the 50mm lens instead.

2. Differences in Framing

lens photographing people

This image was taken with 50mm lens.

In addition, spend some time thinking about the content of your backdrops. Using an 85mm lens will result in an image that is more closely framed on your subject. On the other hand, shooting with the 50mm lens will result in an image that includes more of the background (though not nearly as much as shooting with the Canon 24mm lens).

Do you happily hike up to the top of a mountain for a photo session? You might want to consider the 50mm lens in order to more fully capture the trees and vistas in the background behind your portrait subject(s).

lens photographing people

This image was taken in exactly the same place as the previous one, only using the 85mm lens instead of the 50mm.

On the other hand, do you often find yourself trying to disguise the background in your images? Do you shoot on location with backgrounds that are sometimes out of your control and/or unpredictable?  In that case, you may want to consider the 85mm lens.

When you combine the decreased depth of field of the 85mm lens with the closer framing of your subject, the 85mm lens is stellar at creating beautiful portrait images at almost any location.

3. Differences in Shooting Distance

lens photographing people

This image was taken with 50mm lens.

Remember when I said that when you’re using an 85mm lens you’ll be standing further away from your subject than you would be using a 50mm lens? Here’s another reason why that’s important to know, I almost never use my 85mm lens inside our home.

Our house is just over 1,000 square feet, and depending on the room, sometimes I physically cannot back up far enough to use my 85mm lens. Aside from official photography business, it’s important to me to be able to capture little day to day moments of our family, and so having a fast lens that I can use indoors is a must-have for me.

As much as I love my 85mm lens, it just isn’t a great fit for that purpose given the size of our home. Your mileage may vary.

Lens photographing people

This image was taken with 85mm lens.

On the other hand, when we’re outdoors I often prefer my 85mm lens. In that situation, standing further away from my subjects is a good thing. I can let my kids play and have fun without being all up in their business. Having a bit more space between them and the camera means that they’re able to relax more easily, which in turn leads to more genuine expressions and candid smiles.


As you can see, both of these lenses are great for capturing portrait-style images of people – I personally keep both in my camera bag and use them with near equal frequency.

That said, if you’re only able to purchase one lens right now, both lenses have situations in which they outshine the other, so it’s important for you to think realistically about your preferences and the way you’ll use a portrait lens most often in order to get the most bang for your buck!

If you have one of these lenses – which do you use the most for people photography?

The post Comparing a 50mm Versus 85mm Lens for Photographing People by Meredith Clark appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Sigma releases updated firmware for 30mm F1.4 APS-C lens for Sony E-mount

12 May

Sigma has released an updated firmware version for its 30mm F1.4 APS-C lens for the Sony E-mount. Firmware version 0.2 brings the following improvements:

  • Improved peripheral brightness correction when an aperture value of F1.7 is selected on the Sony a6300 camera.
  • Fixed the AF operation when using focus points in peripheral areas of the frame with the Sony a6300 camera
  • Fixed freezing and not properly operating touch focus feature on the Sony a5100 camera 

Firmware Version 0.2 for the Sigma 30mm F1.4 APS-C lens for Sony E-Mount can now be downloaded from the Sigma support website. 

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Viltrox launches lens adapters for Sony E-Mount and Micro Four Thirds cameras

10 May

Hong Kong based manufacturer Viltrox has announced three new electronic lens adapters for Sony E mount and Micro Four Thirds cameras. The NF-E1 model lets you use Nikon Nikon F mount lenses on Sony E mount cameras. The EF-M1 and EF-M2 models let you connect Canon EF and EF-S lenses to your Micro Four Thirds camera.

The latter comes with with four optical elements in four groups. According to the manufacturer this design results in a, compared to the EF-M1, one stop faster aperture and a focal length multiplier of 0.71x.

All adapters are made of metal and come with a USB port for firmware updates and gold-plated electronic contacts. Autofocus and aperture-adjustment from the camera are supported and Viltrox says the EF-models are compatible with all Canon EF lenses. Pricing and retail information have not yet been released. 

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