Posts Tagged ‘Next’

Expect twice the resolution and speed from the next Fuji GFX and Hasselblad X1D

17 Nov

It’s hard to say much about the next generation mirrorless medium format cameras at this point—even the rumor mill has been quiet—but if you look at Sony’s recently updated sensor roadmap, you can confidently assert one thing: the next-gen Fujifilm GFX and Hasselblad X1D models will contain a 100MP backside illuminated sensor with twice the readout speed of the current models.

This is a BIG deal.

It seems like just yesterday (it wasn’t) Sony released the a7R II, the first camera with a full-frame BSI sensor. But they’re already planning to scale that tech up to medium format in 2018. In fact, their 2018 sensor lineup includes two new MF sensors: a 100MP BSI 44×33 sensor and a 150MP BSI 55x41mm sensor.

These sensors first appeared on the roadmap back in April, but they only received their official announcement on Sony’s Semiconductor website on November 9th. That’s when Sony revealed the readout speeds of the new sensors, which is what really caught our eye.

The IMX161 is the chip (with some modifications…) that you find inside the current stock of 44x33mm medium format cameras—the X1D-50c, the GFX 50S, and the Pentax 645Z. That sensor’s max readout is 3.3 fps, and it offers 50MP of resolution. The upcoming IMX461 that you’ll very likely find in the next-generation models of these same cameras not only doubles the resolution to 100MP, it also nearly doubles the max readout speed to 6fps at 14-bit.

For the next Pentax model, that might not make a huge difference, since it’s a DSLR. But for the next Hasselblad X1D and Fujifilm GFX models, which are mirrorless and require on-sensor AF, that will make a huge difference in performance. Plus, the new sensor can record video at both 4K/30fps and 8K/18fps at 12-bit, which means it should comfortably capture the 8-bit and 10-bit flavors we’re more accustomed to seeing.

For fans of ‘real’ medium format digital (55x41mm sensor), keep an eye out for the IMX411 to show up in a PhaseOne camera of the future. That sensor is also backside illuminated, ups the resolution to 150MP, and can shoot 12-bit 4K/30fps and 8K/16fps.

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How to Plan and Take Killer Sunset Photos on Your Next Vacation

31 Oct

Who doesn’t love a good sunset photo? There’s something about that colorful, ethereal time of day that strikes a cord with just about every person. But as appealing and ordinary as sunsets are, the ability to capture that magical time of day as a photo can be surprisingly difficult.

Sunset Photos

Photo by Martin Genev

Yes, gear and camera settings are important. However, the ability to be in the right place at the right time of day is arguably the most important factor to photographing a sunset. Below, I’ll highlight several tips for planning

Yes, gear and camera settings are important. However, the ability to be in the right place at the right time of day is arguably the most important factor to photographing a sunset. Below, I’ll highlight several tips for planning

Find the best sunset location

How to Plan and Take Killer Sunset Photos on Your Next Vacation

If you’re visiting a new town and searching for an ideal sunset spot, your best bet is to do some online searches. Do a Google image search for “[location] sunset” and see what pops up. Better yet, visit stock image sites and enter similar search queries.

In most cases, you’ll see sunset photos taken from one or two popular locations. It might take some digging to find out exactly where those spots are, but once you have the answer, you’ll know where to shoot.

What time is the sunset?

A simple Google search will tell you exactly when sunset happens in the location of your choice. Keep in mind, however, that the hour or so before sunset is the ideal time of day for most photographers, so you’ll want to show up at your chosen sunset location closer to Golden Hour.

To really hone in the ideal times of day to shoot in a new location, the PhotoPills app is a handy tool. It’s packed full of information that can help you plan and execute outdoor photo shoots.

PhotoPills Sunset Planner - How to Plan and Take Killer Sunset Photos on Your Next Vacation

Image courtesy of PhotoPills

Camera settings for sunset photos

Your ideal camera settings for shooting a sunset depend on a variety of factors, but generally speaking, these are some rules to go by.

Shoot in RAW

When it comes to shooting the sunset, one of the biggest challenges is making sure your camera captures the same warmth and vibrancy that your eyes are seeing. You can typically make White Balance and Picture Style tweaks in camera (more on those below). But just in case, it’s also a good idea to shoot in RAW to give you greater creative control when you post-process the image.

Set White Balance

Leaving your camera White Balance set to Auto might suffice. However, if the color cast of your image is looking too cool or slightly off, try setting your White Balance to Daylight or Cloudy to warm up your shot.

Shoot in Aperture Priority

What shooting mode you should use is certainly debatable, but Aperture Priority will give you greater control over the depth of field. Shooting with a small aperture (f-step of f/16 or higher) will give you a large depth of field. This is ideal if you want more of your scene in focus.

How to Plan and Take Killer Sunset Photos on Your Next Vacation

Keep ISO Low

To avoid excessive noise in your image, maintain the lowest possible ISO for the amount of light you have available. If it happens to be a cloudy sunset or you’re shooting a scene with lots of shadows, you might have to increase your ISO unless you use a tripod.

Composition tips for unique sunset photos

After you’ve got your ideal sunset spot secured, it’s time to start thinking about what kind of sunset image you want to capture.

Keep this in mind: the way that most people photograph a sunset is to whip out their camera at hand, point it directly at the sunset and start snapping away. There’s nothing wrong with capturing the sunset this way, but it doesn’t always make for unique images.

If you’re trying to think outside of the box and get an interesting sunset photo, try some of these tips.

Zoom in

How to Plan and Take Killer Sunset Photos on Your Next Vacation

For most spontaneous sunset photographers, the camera at hand is their point and shoot or cell phone. These cameras are usually equipped with wide-angle lenses. Set yourself apart from the crowd by picking an interesting feature and zooming in.

Shoot away from the sun

Instead of shooting directly into the sun, consider pointing your lens in the opposite direction. The bright and often vibrant colors generated by the sunset can make the scene in the opposite direction equally alluring, without having to compensate for shooting directly into bright light.

Wait for Blue Hour

Every photographer has heard about Golden Hour, that magical time of day just before sunset. Lesser known is Blue Hour, that brief time of day that begins roughly 10 minutes after the sun has set (and before it has risen at dawn).

Blue Hour Photography - How to Plan and Take Killer Sunset Photos on Your Next Vacation

This image was taken just after sunset during Blue Hour.

The sky isn’t as obviously colorful during Blue Hour as it is during sunset or Golden Hour. However, Blue Hour still offers a window of time when it can be best to shoot cityscapes or landscapes with deep blue tones in the sky. You will almost certainly need a tripod to shoot during Blue Hour as it is significantly darker without the sun. But the lesson here is that many more photo opportunities exist even after sunset.

Over to You

Do you have any tips for shooting sunset photos? Share your photos and tips below!

The post How to Plan and Take Killer Sunset Photos on Your Next Vacation by Suzi Pratt appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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From Mundane to Magical: Tips on Taking Your Photos to the Next Level

05 Oct

You may be at a point with your photography where you are comfortable operating your camera and are capable of taking a good picture. You can work with exposure, you understand composition, and can even enhance your photos in post-processing. You should be pleased with this, as this puts you ahead of the vast majority of other photographers. But at the same time, perhaps you are not seeing the elevation in your results that you expect. You are beginning to wonder why you aren’t getting more stunning pictures. Are you doing something wrong? Is there some part of this you’re not getting?

From Mundane to Magical: Tips on Taking Your Photos to the Next Level

We all go through a phase where we feel like we know what we’re doing but are frustrated by a lack of great results. In fact, for some of us, it always feels like this. You’ll never go through a time where you’re hitting magical shot after magical shot. It just doesn’t work like that. You are after something extraordinary, and by definition that is rare.

How do you maximize your chances of finding these great shots? The short version is, “through a lot of effort,” and – while true – that isn’t very helpful. So here are some areas where I focus my efforts and perhaps they will help you too.

1. It Starts with Location

We all seem to want to take our cameras down to the local park or take a stroll around a nearby lake and then come home with stunning pictures. For the most part, it just doesn’t work like that. You typically need a great location in order to end up with a great picture.

You have likely heard that “you can take a great picture anywhere” – and that is true. But just because it is possible doesn’t mean it is probable. Magical lighting or sheer genius may allow some to get great shots in ordinary places, but it is extremely unlikely. To put the odds in your favor, you need to start with an extraordinary location.

How to Scout Your Photography Locations

From Mundane to Magical: Tips on Taking Your Photos to the Next Level

Everyone from tourists to photographers, to the producers of the Game of Thrones use this location as the background for their shots. Dark Hedges, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

How do you find such a location? There are lots of ways. If you are going to a well-traveled place such as a large city or a national park, some enterprising photographer has likely done the work for you. They will have written a book on how to photograph that particular place. These guides are invaluable and often all you will ever need. Beyond that, there are a plethora of online resources. I personally start with the 500px World Map and look at where great shots have been taken. I also like to check out the work of photographers who specialize in whatever I am going.

These resources will help you pick out good places to go. But they will also help you pinpoint specific spots to head to once you are in the area. None of this is to say you should slavishly copy any of these people, but rather that you should let their work inspire you and give you an idea of great locations that might serve as a backdrop for your upcoming stunning picture.

2. Getting that Magical Lighting

A great location alone will not result in a stunning picture. I’ve been to countless areas of great natural beauty or stunning urban environments only to walk away empty-handed. To create the stunning picture you are after, you are also going to need great lighting.

Some of you will create your own lighting through the use of flash. In that case, you’ll be able to create your own stunning lighting – and the whole thing is up to you. But that doesn’t work for me since I am always out and about photographing scenes, which aren’t as conducive to using flash.

Assuming you are like me and are relying on natural lighting, you just cannot guarantee great lighting. We all have to deal with bad weather and occasionally things don’t work out. That said, you can put the odds more in your favor.

Photograph at Sunrise and Sunset

From Mundane to Magical: Tips on Taking Your Photos to the Next Level

When you are photographing the outdoors, the sky is often a big part of the picture. A great sunrise or sunset, therefore, goes a long way toward helping you create a great picture.

The first thing to do is make sure you are photographing around sunrise or sunset. I cannot tell you the number of times people have asked me how to elevate their photography and when I look at their pictures I find that they were all taken in the middle of the day. Usually, that’s just not going to work.

Photographing at sunrise or sunset has a myriad of advantages. The sky will often be very colorful. You will also not have to deal with the extreme contrast created by bright light and dark shadows. The diffuse rays of the sun are more pleasing as well. Think about it this way: there is a reason people sit outside and watch the sun come up or go down. Take advantage of that.

Don’t Overlook Bad Weather

Keep in mind that bad weather can often lead to the best shot. It is very much a risk/reward situation. Most of the time, cloudy hazy conditions result in failure. Sometimes, however, the sun might peek through or do something interesting such that you get magical rays in your photo. Typically, nice weather will result in nice pictures. Dramatic weather can result in dramatic pictures, and that is what you are going for.

From Mundane to Magical: Tips on Taking Your Photos to the Next Level

Even an average marina can become a great shot when there is a storm approaching.

3. Creating the Composition

A great scene does not necessarily make a great photo. You’re probably familiar with rules of composition such as the rule of thirds. That is great, but this alone won’t result in the stunning photos you are after. To get there, you need something more. Here are some ideas to think about.

Start with a Center of Interest

The first thing you need is a subject or center of interest. Again, simply capturing a scene in front of you might create a nice picture, but not the shot that will cause people to say “wow” that you are after. You need something to hold the picture together. I cannot tell you exactly what that is since there are so many different things to use in this world, just be on the lookout for that.

Lead the Viewer’s Eye

Another thing that will help you is if you think about leading the viewer’s eye. You might immediately leap to the concept of leading lines, but it goes further than that. Think about where you want the viewer’s eye to start in your picture and then the route you want them to travel around it. Many times this is done in the post-processing phase. Remember that the eye is attracted to areas of brightness and sharpness. You might darken areas where you don’t want the viewer to concentrate while sharpening areas where you do want their eyes to go.

From Mundane to Magical: Tips on Taking Your Photos to the Next Level

A nice view made more interesting by the path leading the viewer’s eye into the picture.

Concentrate on the Foreground

While you’re setting up your picture, be sure to think hard about the foreground. Think of your pictures as consisting of a background, subject, and foreground. The background is already largely set by your choice of location and lighting. The subject might be the thing that caused you to raise your camera to your eye in the first place (or in any event, you will already have thought about it). That leaves the foreground as the final variable. Don’t give it short shrift. Very often, getting low to the ground gives a sense that the viewer can walk into the picture and really enhances the image.

Add Mood and Emotion

Finally, be sure to think about the mood of your picture. A great picture stirs some emotion in your viewer. Therefore you’ll need to think about the emotion or mood as you are creating it. In the field, you might underexpose a bit to add some drama to your shot. Later, when you are on your computer, you will have time to consider this further and tweak your photo with an eye towards setting this mood.

4. Enhancing the Shot with Post Processing

There are photographers who shun the use of post-processing and devote all their time and energy to getting the shot right in the field. I’m not one of them. I have never taken a shot that I didn’t think could be improved with the use of post-processing.

From Mundane to Magical: Tips on Taking Your Photos to the Next Level

Of course, there are a million things you can do to enhance your photos in post-processing. It is not my intent to walk through them all here. Rather, I just want to stress the importance of taking your time and thinking about what you want to accomplish with your picture when you sit down with it at your computer. When you are sitting down in front of your computer, you have time to think it through and work on it. In the field, you may have been rushed – dealing with a moving subject or fleeting light. Now you have as much time as you want.

Think about what your picture is about. If a part of your image does not support that idea, crop it out. Use some selective sharpening and brightening/darkening to lead the viewer’s eye. Set the mood of your picture using brightness values.

The point is not to take a mundane picture and try to post-process it into some masterpiece. Rather, selectively take a few shots and enhance them with an eye towards both (a) what you were trying to accomplish and (b) what you want the viewer to think/feel when they are looking at your photo.

From Mundane to Magical: Tips on Taking Your Photos to the Next Level

5.  Have Realistic Expectations

Finally, it is important to have realistic expectations. You aren’t going to go out and come home with a stunning picture every time. I fail all the time, and to avoid getting frustrated about it, I think about the words of Ansel Adams. He once said that he got about one great picture a month. Only one a month! If this master of photography was forced to settle for that kind of hit rate, then who am I to think I can do better? I ought to be happy with one shot a year.

From Mundane to Magical: Tips on Taking Your Photos to the Next Level

Creating the Magic

This all takes time and effort. In a lot of ways, it is like waiting for the stars to come together. There is no magic formula for going out and getting a stunning picture every time. If there were, we would all do it. Again, the whole idea is that you are looking for the extraordinary – and that doesn’t happen all the time.

Of course, these factors all work together somewhat. You can have magical lighting at a mundane location and end up with a stunning picture. Or the right post-processing can take a B+ picture and turn it into a winner.  The point is not to get you to wait around for perfect conditions. Rather just to keep moving forward with the mindset that it isn’t always going to work, but when it does it is magic.

These are the things I look for in trying to create a great photo. But that’s not to say there aren’t other – even better – ways to go about it. What do you look for in trying to elevate your photos from the mundane into something magical? Please let us know in the comments below.

The post From Mundane to Magical: Tips on Taking Your Photos to the Next Level by Jim Hamel appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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How to be Better Prepared for Your Next Photo Shoot

21 Sep

Greater success with your event, street, travel or any other genre of photography can depend a lot on how prepared you are before you leave the house and how observant you are at the location you are making pictures. Here are some tips to help you be better prepared for your next photo shoot.

senior Thai woman taking part in a street parade holding a painted parasol - How to be Better Prepared for Your Next Photo Shoot

A participant in the annual Chiang Mai Flower Parade enjoys having her photo taken.

I’ve based this article on street and event photography so I can use my photos to illustrate specific situations.


Planning your photography session in advance can make it a much more rewarding experience. You don’t necessarily need to start making spreadsheets and contingency preparations if you’re going out to photograph a local farmers market or craft fair. But a little groundwork can make times you are out with your camera significantly more enjoyable.

Having some prior knowledge of your subject, the location, and the type of activity that happens there (if any) will increase the opportunities you have to capture better photos. Even the way you dress and the footwear you choose can potentially have an influence on your photos. Certainly, the amount and type of camera equipment you choose to carry will have an effect on the outcome of your photography excursion.

Women in traditional Thai costume prior to the start of the Flower Parade in Chiang Mai, Thailand - How to be Better Prepared for Your Next Photo Shoot

Girls talking before a parade starts.

For example

Performers rest prior to the start of a Chinese New Year parade in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Performers rest prior to the start of a Chinese New Year parade.

Before heading out to photograph the Chinese New Year Parade I checked so I knew the starting time, location, and the route it would take. I arrived at least an hour early for some behind the scenes moments when the morning light was rich.

Some prior knowledge of the type of subjects and activity I would encounter enabled me to anticipate the flow of action. So I was able to capture the dragon as it moved through the streets and received cash gifts from locals in its mouth.

A woman places money in the mouth of a Chinese New Year dragon during a street parade in Chiang Mai, Thailand. - How to be Better Prepared for Your Next Photo Shoot

A woman places money in the mouth of a Chinese New Year dragon during a street parade in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Prepare yourself too

I was wearing a good pair of sports shoes as I knew I would need to run at times to keep ahead of the parade. With many parades and festivals in south east Asia, there are often few restrictions for photographers assertive and considerate enough to just go with the flow of things.

I traveled light, without an abundance of camera gear. There’s always a choice between carrying more and having it weigh you down and making your movements more difficult and not having the right lens with you. I typically prefer to take two lenses so I have one on the camera and the other in a small belt bag. This way I am free to move and can often get closer to the action than if I was weighted down with a shoulder bag or backpack full of gear.

Chinese New Year parade and photographers - How to be Better Prepared for Your Next Photo Shoot

Photographing the dragon during a Chinese New Year parade.

Researching is easy these days. So planning and being prepared before you head out with your camera takes very little effort but can make a huge difference to the photos you’ll make and how much you enjoy your experience.


Once you’re on location it pays to take a little time to observe and anticipate how you can obtain the best photos.

  • Walking around, watching people, and considering what you think will be the best spots to take photos from is an important first step. Think about lighting and composition.
  • How many places will you be able to clearly see your subject?
  • What will the background be like?
  • Will the lighting work for the style of photo you want to make?
  • Are there any vantage points that allow you to get above your subject?
  • Is there some place safe to get down and lie on the ground for a low perspective?
Chinese New Year parade with a ceremonial dragon - How to be Better Prepared for Your Next Photo Shoot

Try to position yourself where there will be a good background.

Find a good vantage point

Once you’ve found a good location it can often pay to stay there for some time. Consider the flow of the action and if you can get a good variety of photos from your position, don’t rush off. This is particularly relevant when you have a pleasing combination of good lighting and a background you can incorporate into strong compositions.

If you are constantly changing locations you may find that you have to adjust your exposure frequently and your background is different which will require more attention to your framing.

Sometimes moving around is necessary to follow your subject. It’s good to be aware of your surroundings and considerate of who else is around you, especially if you are on the move a lot. At events with a lot of spectators, you don’t want to block their view but you also want to make sure you and your equipment are safe.

How to be Better Prepared for Your Next Photo Shoot

Watching dancers practice prior to the start of a parade I observed the pattern of their movement and positioned myself so the background and light were best, and then made a series of photos. The image on the left illustrates reasonably well what’s happening. But because I had paid attention to the dance I knew the girl would arch her back and I would be able to photograph her face and a more interesting pose.

Get out of the flow of traffic

Putting yourself in position a little away from the traffic flow, when there is one, will allow you to work more freely also. I made this series of photos of cheese vendors at Istanbul’s spice market by standing in between two of the stalls where there were no other people. I got the nod from the men selling the cheese nearby that I was okay to be there and was even offered a slice of very tasty cheese to try.

Vendor selling cheese at the Istanbul spice market - How to be Better Prepared for Your Next Photo Shoot

It’s good to get out of the traffic flow so you can take photos without being bumped or disrupting business.

As I savored the flavor of the cheese I observed the action of the vendors offering cheese to passers by and got a feel for the rhythm of activity.

close up of cheese being sold in a Turkish street market - How to be Better Prepared for Your Next Photo Shoot

Once you find a good location make a series of photos.

Being out of the flow of foot traffic (which was very busy) allowed me to take my time without being bumped and jostled. I made a series of photos that illustrate this part of the market better than I could have with a single image taken as I was just passing by. This series of photos were made with my 50mm prime lens.

Istanbul spice market cheese - How to be Better Prepared for Your Next Photo Shoot

A few tips for taking the photos

  • Concentrate. Don’t hesitate or be distracted from your task. Stay focused and single-minded about getting the photos that you have come to make.
  • Don’t worry about making mistake. These will help you learn. Keep all your photos on your card so you can compare them once you have them loaded to your computer.
  • Choose your moments carefully. Machine gunning your subject will result in an overwhelming number of bad photos which can be discouraging.
  • Use a narrow aperture and a fast enough shutter speed to avoid blur. You might need to raise your ISO even if you are working in bright conditions.
  • Use manual focus and zone focus to ensure greater success.

Kebab Seller, Istanbul, Turkey - How to be Better Prepared for Your Next Photo Shoot


With a little research and planning, you’ll be better equipped mentally to approach your chosen subject with confidence. Observing your surroundings and the flow of activity once you’re on location will help you find the optimal spots in which to position yourself to obtain the best photos. Then, employ some solid photographic technique to ensure you make some great photographs.

The post How to be Better Prepared for Your Next Photo Shoot by Kevin Landwer-Johan appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Humans of New York is turning into a TV series on Facebook, debuts next week

25 Aug

Brandon Stanton, the photographer behind the wildly successful website-turned Facebook page-turned Best Selling Book “Humans of New York” surprised everyone today with a bombshell announcement. For the past 4 years, he’s been quietly filming over 1,200 personal interviews with his portrait subjects, and he’s turning those interviews into a HONY TV series starting next week.

The series was created in conjunction with cinematographer Michael Crommett, and the official announcement and trailer went live just 20 minutes ago on the Humans of New York Facebook Page.

“Early on I realized that video would add a deeper layer to Humans of New York. At the heart of all these posts are the conversations themselves,” writes Stanton. “I’m often deeply moved by the people I meet. Or they make me laugh. Or they make me think. And I always do my best to recreate the experience through photos and words. But I always knew that video would provide the closest thing to ‘actually being there.’”

Inspired by this realization, he began filming interviews… many many interviews. But instead of posting them one day at a time as he has been doing with his photos, he held onto them in the hopes of creating something special down the line. Down the line has finally arrived.

“My goal was not to make a television show based on Humans of New York. I wanted the television show to *be* Humans of New York,” explains Stanton. “I think I came pretty close. And I think/hope you will love it.”

Watch the trailer for Humans of New York (The Series) at the top of this article, and then head over to the HONY Facebook Page for more info. The Series premiers next week on Facebook Watch.

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The next iPhone may record 4K 60fps video with front camera

05 Aug

A firmware leak for the Apple HomePod has already revealed that the upcoming generation of Apple’s iPhone might use ‘SmartCam’ AI to adjust to different scenes on the fly. But that’s not the only gem developers have managed to dig out of the code. Further analysis of the source code has now found that at least one of the new models might also be capable of shooting 4K video at 60 frames per second on both front and rear cameras, making it the first smartphone to offer this video specification.

The function is mentioned in a section of code related to the HEVC, or H.265 video codec that will be included in both iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra, both due out this fall. HEVC is capable of maintaining high levels of image quality while using advanced compression algorithms to keep the file size down. This allows for 4K video capability to be installed in devices with limited storage or processing power.

Considering Apple’s current FaceTime front cameras only offer a 7MP stills resolution and 1080p video this would mean a huge jump in performance. The image sensor would need a bump in resolution, but presumably Apple’s new chipset will provide enough processing power to crunch the large amounts of data generated when shooting video at 4K resolution and fast frame rates.

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How to Evaluate and Purchase Your Next New Lens

15 Jun

It’s a day that comes for of us all at one time or another. You have to take the plunge…the big leap…go all in, take a chance. The decision can make or break you and your photography…or at least it can seem that way. It’s the day you invest in a brand new lens or one that’s new to you. Regardless, purchasing a fresh piece of glass can be confusing, frustrating, and painstaking. I’m here to tell you that we photographers who operate on limited funds (most of us) share in your anxiety when it comes to laying down what is usually a lot of money on something that we hope will improve our work and help us transcend to the next level.

How do you make the right choices? How do you choose the right lens to fit your particular needs? Well, there is both good and bad news for you. The bad news is that only you can finally determine the right lens to fit your own craft.

The good news, though, is that there are many ways you can lessen the anguish of lens buying and make sure that you find the right investment. In this article, you will learn how to look beyond just the obvious when shopping around for that new lens, so that you can ensure you make an informed and hopefully less painful decision. Lens reviews can become confusing in their own right. While there are infinite considerations, following these guidelines will help to make more sense of all those lens reviews.

Optical Performance


This is one of if not the most often encountered reasons for buying a new lens. We need better sharpness. But that sharpness, of course, comes at a price. So when evaluating the sharpness of a new lens it’s important to consider all the elements of the equation.

Are you looking for a lens that zooms or does not zoom? Prime lenses (non-zooming) are often cheaper and faster (have a larger maximum aperture) than zoom lenses of the same speed (more on this later). So, ask yourself if you need a lens that can change focal lengths quickly, such as for events or sports shooting? Or do you need a lens that can cope with more static scenes such as landscapes or posed portraits?

Sharpness is so subjective that it often takes looking at many sample images to see the actual results from real-world tests. Be sure to note the camera each image was made with and the source of the sample. Pay special attention to the entire frame especially at the corners to judge the overall sharpness. Speaking of corner sharpness….

Edge Softness

When we talk about edge softening the reference is to the deterioration of sharpness at the corners of an image. This is brought about by many variables but usually, it is due to the composition and quality of the glass elements within the lens. As you approach the wide or short end of the aperture range of your particular lens this softening almost always become more apparent.

Shot with the Rokinon 14mm at f/2.8. Note the more prominent loss of sharpness at the far edges and corners of the frame.

While shopping for a new lens, of course, you want the least amount of “softening” at the edges of the frame. Make a point to inspect the aperture at which each test photo was shot because different apertures carry with them inherent differences in edge sharpness. If you know you will be shooting wide apertures (low light, shallow depth of field) or small apertures (landscapes, large depth of field) pay special attention to test photos shot towards the wide or narrow f-stops.

Lens Distortion

Lens distortion is fairly self-explanatory. It is anything that alters the spatial appearance of lines within the frame. There are two main forms of distortion; “barrel” and “pincushion”. Barrel distortion is common with wide-angle lenses and appears as a bulged effect; with the straight lines within the images appearing to bend outwardly.

An example of “barrel” distortion often encountered with extremely short (wide) focal length lenses

Pincushion distortion is the exact opposite of barrel distortion. This type of image distortion occurs most often when telephoto lenses are zoomed to their maximum magnification. The appearance is a slight bending inwards of the photo towards the center. However, it’s not nearly as apparent (hardly perceivable at times) as barrel distortion.

A case of uncorrected pincushion distortion…

…and now corrected. As I said, almost in-perceivable….

If you’re in the market for a quality wide angle lens, make it a point to find one with little or relatively little barrel distortion. Keep in mind that the shorter the focal length the more prevalent barrel distortion becomes, even in high-grade lenses. The same is true for pincushion distortion. The higher the telephoto range the more often you will encounter pincushion distortion at long focal lengths.

Chromatic Aberration

Chromatic aberration is a technical term for the unsightly discoloration that sometimes occurs around high contrast areas in a photo.

It is evident to some extent in all lenses no matter the quality, but it is more perceivable at wide or small apertures. The key thing to look for is the least amount of chromatic aberration present at the extreme ends of the aperture range. Much like edge softening, aberrations can be controlled albeit not eliminated.

Autofocus and what is Image Stabilization anyway?


Ah yes, autofocus. Having the ability to focus on subjects by merely pressing a button is a gloriously underappreciated benefit modern photographers share. You probably owe your camera and lens a long overdue “thank you”. Go ahead and thank them…I’ll wait.

However, the question remains, how important should autofocus (AF) be to you? It all comes down to what type of photos you will likely be shooting. Back when I did location wedding and event photography, I could not have imagined operating without a fast and accurate AF lens. Now that I shoot primarily landscapes and nature photography, AF has become less of a priority for me.

That’s not to say that AF doesn’t have its uses even now for me and my work. The reason I share this is to demonstrate the priority that you should place on the quality of AF in whatever lens you might be looking at buying depends on your own needs.

If you shoot sporadic, fast-moving, or otherwise unpredictable subjects, place a fair amount of emphasis on AF performance in the lens you seek. However, if you’re a landscapist, shoot still lifes, or otherwise find yourself making photographs of static subjects, AF becomes less important.

That being said, if you find yourself requiring AF, look for a focusing system which consistently focuses accurately and is able to lock onto a subject. Granted, the type of camera you use plays a key role here as well.

Image Stabilization

There’s somewhat of a split in opinions when it comes to image stabilization. Some shooters swear by it, some say it isn’t worth the trouble. As for me, I’m a blend of the two factions.

For the majority of my work, which involves a tripod and slow moving/non-moving scenes, I seldom use a stabilizer even when it’s available. Still, there are times when I find myself saying, “Man, this stabilizer is awesome!” So as with many aspects of choosing a lens, it depends on you and your needs.

The truth is that the longer focal length lens you use, the more image stabilization will come in handy. It provides an exposure “cushion” when shooting handheld. I’m happy to say that the technology seems to be improving each year. If you shoot the majority of your photos without a tripod, for whatever reason, you will have the use of a stabilizer. The very bottom rung of modern image shake reduction systems can give you two to three stops of exposure latitude (to be able to use slower shutter speeds and maintain sharpness) which can go a long way depending on your camera.

Some final thoughts on lens evaluation

Hopefully, with any piece of gear you buy, you choose to analyze and find every scrap of information you can before taking the plunge. The tips here come from someone who has reviewed, tested, and used camera lenses from virtually every leading manufacturer on the market today. These lessons are simple, applicable, and most importantly, easy to understand so that you can make an informed choice.

Today we find ourselves fortunate to be able to select from a pool of increased quality when it comes to our camera lenses. Unfortunately, this means choices are nearly infinite. Be smart and be savvy. Don’t spend time and money on new glass that does more or less than what you need.

The post How to Evaluate and Purchase Your Next New Lens by Adam Welch appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Beastgrip launches Kickstarter to fund next generation DSLR lens adapter for smartphones

31 May

Beastgrip has created a Kickstarter campaign to fund its latest series of adapters that allow smartphone photographers to shoot through SLR lenses and achieve the associated shallow depth of field. The company has not only officially launched the Mk2 model of its existing DOF Adapter but is also offering the new Pro Series 1.33x Anamorphic Lens and the Beastrail to attach focusing aids when using cinema lenses.

Beastgrip says that it has redesigned some of the build and handling aspects of the DOF MK2 but has also given it new optics that are said to reduce the occurrence of aberrations while at the same time making the system compatible with a wider range of lenses – including zooms.

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The new anamorphic lens compresses a wider view onto the smartphone’s sensor which can then be worked in post-production to create videos with a 2.4:1 aspect ratio and stills in the 16:9 format. The lens has a 58mm filter thread on the front and is prone to ‘cool horizontal lens flare that you get when the lens is pointed towards a bright light source.’

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The Beastgrip DOF MK2 will cost $ 269.99 on its own or $ 409.98 with the Beastgrip Pro housing, while the 1.33x Anamorphic Lens will cost $ 175 or $ 314.99 with the Beastgrip Pro. The Beastrail will be $ 159.99. Each of the items, and various kit combinations, will be offered at a discount on the Kickstarter page for ‘early bird’ investors. 

For more information see the Beastgrip DOF MK2 Kickstarter page or the Beastgrip website.

Press Release

Beastgrip is Releasing New Gear to Turn Your Smartphone Into a Pro Camera Rig

Beastgrip is proud to announce the DOF Adapter MK2, the next generation of the best-selling DOF Adapter that allows photographers and filmmakers to mount a real SLR or DSLR lens to a smartphone for a stunning bokeh, shallow depth of field and manual focus control.

“Smartphone cameras are great, but they have substantial limitations. Without true depth of field, larger sensors and/or the option to add lenses or camera gear, most photos/videos that are shot with one all look the same,” said CEO Vadym Chalenko. “We’re here to change that.”

“Using lenses and depth of field adapters with your smartphone give you an entirely new look, by changing the focal length, perspective, and emotion of your shot so you can focus the viewer’s attention on what’s most important,” VP of Business Development Sean Lawrence explains.

The original DOF Adapter has been a monumental advancement in “phoneography.” Since it was released on Kickstarter back in 2015, professional filmmakers have been pushing it to its fullest potential with films like Ghost Digital Cinema’s “MALTO,” Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ “No Love Like Yours,” National Geographic’s “Wasfia,” and Boat Magazine’s “Of Land and Sea.”

“We couldn’t be happier to be a part of these projects, but we knew that the DOF Adapter could be – and should be – better, so that creators of any skill level can harness its power in their workflow,” added Chalenko.

New Features for the DOF Adapter MK2

  • The new design dramatically improves the image quality from the first version and provides a simple, user-friendly experience. The MK2 also boasts the following new features:
  • Custom optics that dramatically reduce vignetting/hotspotting, chromatic aberration and distortion.
  • Compatibility with a much wider range of full-frame SLR/DSLR lenses, such as zoom lenses.
  • Sealed focusing screen and components for a maintence-free user experience.
  • Durable, black anodized aluminum casing with a rotating barrel that aligns the focusing screen and bayonet mount in one simple motion.


Beastgrip also created a rail support for attaching additional accessories like a follow focus to the DOF Adapter MK2 for a complete filmmaking system with the same features found on professional camera rigs.

Pro Series 1.33X Anamorphic Lens

Following the recent release of the Beastgrip x Kenko Pro Series .75X Wide Angle lens, Beastgrip is adding a 1.33X Anamorphic Lens to the Pro Series Lens Collection as well. This lens transforms videos into a widescreen 2.4:1 aspect ratio and adds a more dramatic perspective without the need to crop, resulting in a high resolution, cinematic look and creative lens flares like seen in Hollywood film

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7 Tips to Get Professional Results on Your Next Outdoor Fashion Photography Shoot

28 Apr

Many photographers like to take portraits or fashion outdoors, as it does not require any huge investment such as owning a studio space and lights. Though it might look like an easy task, there are few things that you need to be aware of before and while doing fashion photography outdoors.

Outdoor fashion photography 01

You might have a good-looking model and expensive camera and lens, but you still may not be able to capture professional results. You need not worry, as the tips mentioned below would help you drastically improve your results during your next outdoor fashion photo shoot.

1. Know the location well

The location is one of the first things you should finalize while planning an outdoor photo shoot. Scout the location at least once before the day of the shoot to ensure that you do not waste time on the final day. It is even better if you take some photos of the places that you feel could be perfect for your images, and simply browse through them on the day of your shoot.

If you follow these practices for your next outdoor photo shoot, you would surely save a lot of time as you would have already pre-planned and pre-visualized your frames.

Outdoor fashion photography 4

2. Choose the right time of the day

Once you have finalized the location for the fashion photo shoot, you need to make sure that you choose the right time of the day to captured desired results. There is no fixed time of day that you should be shooting, it all depends on the weather conditions and how you want to use the ambient light.

Try and avoid the time when the sun is at its peak as it would create hard shadows on your model’s face. The safest time to shoot outdoors is either just after the sunrise or a couple of hours before the sunset. During a cloudy day, the light would be soft and there would be less contrast in the background (depending on the backdrop) but it all depends on your choice. I you wish to capture photos with diffused light, you can go ahead and shoot during a cloudy day.

Outdoor fashion photography 5b

3. Choose the right background

It is important to spend some time thinking about the background in your photo. You might see a beautiful location and simply pick up your camera and get started taking photos, without even visualizing whether the background will make or break your photo.

You need to think, visualize, and then frame accordingly, making sure that the colors in the background and the colors of the model’s clothes are not getting merged. The colors in the background should not overpower the model, which is the main highlight of your photo.

Outdoor fashion photography 05

4. Try mixing ambient and flash light

Go out of your comfort zone and do something different by using both ambient light as well as flash. This gives an extra dimension to your photos. You can use the sun as the key light falling on the subject and place the flash at the back of the model to give a rim light effect on their face or hair. Or you can use the sun light as the rim light or the kicker and the flash as the key light source, this allows you to control the shadows on the face.

Outdoor fashion photography 02

5. Make the model comfortable: Talk and Compliment

Expressions and body language of the model are key ingredients in fashion photography. You need to make sure that your model is comfortable shooting outdoors, as sometimes there may be other people surrounding you as you work. If it’s possibility that you are shooting with a model who is not professional or has just started his/her career, you as a photographer have to make your model feel comfortable.

You can do so by constantly interacting with your model, compliment them while he/she is posing and make them feel confident. You need to tell your model whether they are posing right, you must direct and get the best out of the model in the friendliest way possible.

Outdoor fashion photography 08 Outdoor fashion photography 09

6. Get the best possible exposure in camera

Never shoot with the thought that the exposure can easily be adjusted during post-processing. You can adjust the exposure later during the post-processing stage but you might end up losing details in your photo, depending on the camera that you are using. If you have taken a photo which is 2-3 stops over/under exposed, adjusting the exposure during processing will not give details as good as a correct exposure would.

If you adjust the exposure of an underexposed photo, remember that you may also be introducing noise. Similarly, if you adjust the exposure of an overexposed photo then you will not be able to retain as much details in the highlights as you would have in a correctly exposed photo.

To ensure that you are capturing correctly exposed photos during the shoot, you should refer to the histogram in your camera.

7. Shoot in RAW format

Never be afraid of shooting in RAW. It may take up space on your memory card but it is really for your benefit. Shooting fashion in RAW format allows you to capture much more details as compared to the JPEG format, which helps in retouching the image during post-processing.

Outdoor fashion photography 6

Another benefit of RAW format is that it contains the maximum dynamic range possible from your camera and can be used to recover an overexposed or an underexposed image during the processing, as discussed in the previous point. You can also edit the same RAW file multiple times, without losing any details. Whereas, a JPEG file loses its quality every time you edit the image.


Being a photographer, you need to plan and stage the photo shoot so that you get the best possible results out of your model. From choosing the apt location to scheduling the shoot at the right time of the day, it is your job to get the things planned in advance to save time and energy. Try and get out of your comfort zone by adding more light sources such as the flash lights or strobes, this will help give you more professional results.

You might be using the best possible camera and lens, but if you are not able to get good expressions and body language, your photos will not stand out. So, the next time you plan an outdoor fashion photo shoot, do keep these tips in mind to achieve the best possible results.

Share your fashion photography tips and images below.

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Panasonic’s new organic CMOS sensor won’t be in your next camera but it’s cool anyway

10 Feb
Organic chips, but not the kind with sea salt. On the left the sensor is used in plain old visible light mode. By changing the electric charge applied to the chip, visible and near-infrared light are captured simultaneously, shown on the right.

Panasonic has been developing organic sensors for a while now and has just announced a new breakthrough: an organic CMOS chip that can capture visible and near-infrared (NIR) light simultaneously without sacrificing resolution.

There are sensors available now that can image both near-infrared and visible light, but they sacrifice one out of every four pixels to NIR capture. As a result, resolution of the final image suffers. Panasonic’s new chip makes use of two organic layers: the top layer is sensitive to visible light and the bottom layer is sensitive to near-infrared light. By changing the voltage applied to the layers, it’s possible to choose whether the lower layer is active or not. This means it can switch between visible and visible+NIR imaging frame by frame, which is useful in machine vision applications where subjects may be moving quickly.

The image on the left is recorded with color imaging mode, the right shows the scene in NIR imaging mode. The new sensor could be used for night vision and surveillance.

Alternatively, it allows for the creation of security cameras that capture visible light during the day then switch to visible+NIR for a full-resolution ‘night vision’ mode after dark.

It’s great news too if your job relies on checking things that aren’t visible to the human eye, like checking things on an assembly line that are out of sight, but this sensor is unlikely to ever be used in a consumer digital camera. Still, it’s promising to see that Panasonic’s experiments in creating chips made of something besides silicon are paying off.

If nothing else, separating the capture medium from the readout mechanism makes it easier to implement a global shutter design, since the light-sensitive layer can be switched on and off independently, rather than being constrained by the (sequential) read-out process.

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