Archive for August, 2018

Real World Test: Using the Sony A7R III with Canon Lenses

31 Aug

Here’s a review from Julia Trotti who has been testing the Sony A7R III mirrorless camera alongside Canon lenses. With mirrorless technology coming to the forefront, but the number of native Sony lenses available being limited, using third-party lenses like this is not far from a necessity.

Trotti has spent her entire 10-year photography career shooting with Canon, but recently got the Sony A7R III and wanted to integrate that camera into her workflow with the Canon glass she already owns. This is a similar boat to that which many photographers moving from DSLR to mirrorless may find themselves in. By using an adaptor (and making sure you keep the firmware for it up to date) you are able to use your DSLR glass on mirrorless bodies.


While adaptors are great, Trotti does point out their shortcomings. She found some issues with focusing while testing the combination, meaning that her workflow was slowed down by having to wait for the lens to catch up with her (thanks to the adaptor).

Trotti loves the Sony A7R III, as well as her Canon glass, but advises that you should be aware of the limitations of the adaptation when it comes to shooting situations where you might only have one chance to get it right, such as weddings.

Check out the full video above to see all of her thoughts and some example photos from the shoot.

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What you need to know about Nikon’s new entry-level D3500

31 Aug

Everything you need to know about the Nikon D3500

Let’s face it: Entry-level DSLRs aren’t the most exciting cameras out there. That said, Nikon’s D3000-series have traditionally been very easy to use, very affordable and offered excellent image quality. Despite not having the latest and greatest technology, cameras like Nikon’s newest model, the D3500, serve a variety of purposes quite well.

Before we get into what’s new, here’s what’s not. The D3500 uses the same 24MP DX-format (APS-C) CMOS sensor as the previous-generation D3400 (and several other Nikon models) which has excellent resolution and Raw dynamic range. Its Expeed 4 processor allows for a top ISO of 25,600 and 5 fps burst shooting. The 11-point autofocus system is pretty dated, though it does offer Nikon’s 3D Tracking system. Just don’t expect D500-style performance.

Even more compact

The D3400 was already a small DSLR and the D3500 is even more compact. That’s because it uses almost the same body shell as the D5600, which is 6mm (0.24″) thinner than the D3400. We like the D5600’s design because it doesn’t sacrifice a decent hand grip as a trade-off for being small, which is the case with some of its peers. With the bundled AF-P 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 kit lens, the D3500 is almost as portable as the smallest Micro Four Thirds cameras.

While we’re looking at this view of the camera, it’s worth mentioning that the D3500 no longer supports the ML-L3 wireless remote, since there’s no infrared receiver. You can, however, use your smartphone for the same purpose.

Buttons for everything

One area in which the D3500’s design differs from that of the D5600 is the LCD. Where the D5600 has a larger, fully articulating touchscreen, the D3500 uses the same fixed 921k-dot non-touch display as the D3400.

The D3400 had five buttons that sat to the left of its display (playback, menu, zoom in, zoom out, i), and those have all been relocated to the opposite side. The D3500’s rear control layout is a little cluttered as a result, but everything you need is close at hand. Being an entry-level camera, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that there’s only one control dial.

The optical viewfinder on the D3500 is unchanged. It still offer 95% coverage and a magnification of 0.57x equiv., which is actually a bit larger than the D5600’s OVF.

Improved battery life

Despite using the same sensor, processor and display as its predecessor, the D3500’s battery life has increased by 30% (CIPA) compared to the model that it replaces. With a CIPA rating of a whopping 1550 shots, you should be able to go for days without replacing the battery. Nikon includes an external charger for keeping a spare topped up. The camera doesn’t support USB charging, unfortunately.


The D3500 continues to offer a Bluetooth-only version of Nikon’s SnapBridge wireless system. With it, the camera can automatically transfer 2 Megapixel versions of photos to your smartphone as they are taken (since there’s no Wi-Fi there is no option for transmitting full resolution images.)

New to the D3500 is the ability to use the SnapBridge app as a remote shutter release.

Guide mode

Something that makes the D3500 one of the easiest-to-use cameras on the market is its Guide Mode, which is accessed via the mode dial. Guide Mode gives you basic options – essentially scene modes – and ‘advanced operations,’ where you can adjust shutter speed, aperture, white balance and exposure compensation without having to know what any of those are.

In ‘easy operation’ mode, you can select something like ‘moving subjects’ and the camera will do the rest. In ‘advanced operation’ mode you can, for example, choose from freeze motion (people), freeze motion (vehicles) and show water flowing. Once you’ve picked one, the camera will let you adjust the shutter speed, but with a detailed explanation of what the effects are. Once you’re happy just choose from shooting through the viewfinder or live view and off you go.

Truly advanced settings (by D3500 standards,) such as ISO sensitivity and Picture Controls are still available in Guide Mode, should you wish to access them.


The Nikon D3400 was our favorite entry-level DSLR and the D3500 looks like it might supplant the older model in our affections. Unlike some of its competitors, it’s small, light, and very easy to use, without sacrificing ergonomics or image quality. The D3500’s 24MP sensor isn’t new, but it’s still one of the best APS-C sensors around.

The D3500 is a camera that beginners who pick it up from a big box store can take home and use immediately, simply by turning on Guide Mode and choosing something like ‘Moving Subjects’. When they want to dip their toes into manual controls they can use the ‘Advanced Operation’ half of the Guide Mode, which allows them to adjust the shutter speed with a helping hand. And, when these users are ready to take full control over the camera, the D3500 has everything the casual shooter needs.

The D3500’s 24MP sensor isn’t new, but it’s still one of the best APS-C sensors around

Nikon will be selling the D3500 in two kits: one with the collapsable AF-P 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 VR lens ($ 499) and another with that lens plus the un-stabilized AF-P 70-300 F4.5-6.3 tele-zoom ($ 849, though current street prices are below $ 600). As mentioned about, the D3500 is almost certain to appear in places like Costco during the holiday season, usually with a bag, extra battery and memory card thrown in.

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Tamron introduces 2nd-generation 15-30mm F2.8 full-frame lens for Canon and Nikon

31 Aug

Tamron has updated its SP 15-30mm F2.8 Di VC USD lens with new elements and coatings, a more powerful autofocus CPU and an enhanced Vibration Correction system.

The use of XGM (eXpanded glass-molded aspherical) and low-dispersion elements reduce distortion and lateral chromatic aberrations, according to Tamron, while an AX (Anti-reflection eXpand) coating handles ghosting and flare. The lens is weather-sealed and has a fluorine coating to keep water and oil off of the front element. The 15-30 F2.8 has nine rounded aperture blades.

A Dual Multi-Processing Unit and new algorithms have boosting AF speed and precision, and the VC system now corrects for up to 4.5 stops of shake. The 15-30 has a minimum focus distance of 28cm (11″), a magnification of 0.2x and support for rear gel filters on the Canon model. It supports Tamron’s TAP-in Console for making fine adjustments to autofocus and Vibration Correction.

The Nikon FX-mount lens will ship first on September 21st, with the Canon EF-mount version coming about three weeks later. The Tamron SP 15-30mm F2.8 G2 will be priced at $ 1299.

Press Release

Tamron Announces A New Advanced, Super High-Quality, Fast, Ultra-Wideangle Zoom Lens

SP 15-30mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 (Model A041)

August 31, 2018, Commack, New York— Tamron announces the launch of a new high-speed ultra-wide-angle zoom lens, the SP 15-30mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 (Model A041), for full-frame DSLR cameras. The new model will be available in Nikon mount on September 21st and in Canon mount October 12th at a suggested retail price of $ 1299.

With a well-established reputation for ultra-high-quality wideangle zoom lenses with its Model A012, Tamron carries on the tradition of high optical performance with the new SP 15-30mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 (Model A041). By incorporating an XGM (eXpanded Glass Molded Aspherical) lens element, as well as multiple LD (Low Dispersion) lens elements, the distortion and lateral chromatic aberrations so common in wideangle shooting have been greatly minimized. Furthermore, a newly developed AX (Anti-reflection eXpand) Coating has been applied to reduce ghosting and flare more thoroughly than ever before. The optical performance in this high-speed F/2.8 ultra-wideangle zoom lens is outstanding. In addition, the built-in Dual MPU (Micro-Processing Unit) enables vastly improved AF speed and precision and image stabilization. This is a next-generation super high-quality, high-speed ultra-wideangle zoom lens with first-rate optics and a wide range of features that serve to revitalize the user’s shooting experience. With the release of this model, three of Tamron’s high-speed F/2.8 zoom lens with VC (Vibration Compensation) are now G2 (Generation 2).


1. Super high-quality high-speed ultra-wideangle zoom lens
The Model A041 is an F/2.8 ultra-wideangle lens with a focal length starting at 15mm that offers high resolution even in the peripheral area of the image. By incorporating an XGM (eXpanded Glass Molded Aspherical) lens element and multiple LD (Low Dispersion) lens elements to curtail distortion and lateral chromatic aberrations, Tamron has achieved a degree of resolution throughout the range that is just as good as a fixed focal length lens.

2. Newly developed AX Coating
The AX (Anti-reflection eXpand) Coating, especially effective for wideangle lenses that tend to let in harmful light from peripheral areas, was developed to control rays that affect image quality. It is a revolutionary new proprietary coating developed in-house by Tamron using specialized deposition technology. The new coating keeps the reflection factor for peripheral areas at the same high level as that for the center area, not only overcoming standard curvature issues, but even overcoming the problems of conventionally produced convex surface with large curvatures for which uniform deposition has always proved difficult to achieve. Furthermore, the Model A041, along with eBand (Extended Bandwidth & Angular-Dependency) Coating utilizing nanotechnology, and BBAR (Broad-Band Anti-Reflection) Coating, makes effective use of three different types of coatings, thereby enabling unsurpassed curtailment of ghosting and flare and consequently enabling superlative, exceptionally clear image quality edge to edge.

3. High-speed, high-precision AF
Superb AF speed and precision is delivered by equipping the lens with a Dual MPU (Micro-Processing Unit) system and employing an enhanced AF control algorithm to improve performance. The AF drive uses proprietary Tamron technology, USD (Ultrasonic Silent Drive), enabling high torque, high response, and silent operation. And because it comes with a Full-time Manual Focus override system, manual focus adjustments can be made on the fly.

4. VC promises sharp images for all varieties of shooting
Tamron released the first high-speed F/2.8 ultra-wideangle zoom lens in the world equipped with a VC (Vibration Compensation) mechanism, the original Model A012. The new Model A041 has been further improved with a newly developed VC mechanism that surpasses former versions and reaches 4.5 stops , according to CIPA standards. This makes it possible to shoot sharp photos over a wide range of photographic scenes, including indoor and outdoor shots as well as handheld shots at stopped-down aperture settings for landscape photography.

5. Rear filter holder
The Model A041 made for use on Canon (EF-mount) cameras comes with a filter holder as a standard feature that lets you insert gelatin and other sheet filters into the rear side of the lens. This makes photography using filters much easier and simpler by overcoming the problem of the curvature of the front lens elements that made shooting with filters so difficult in the past.

6. Vastly improved highly durable Fluorine Coating
Abrasion resistance capability has been vastly improved on the new Model A041. The front surface of the lens element is coated with a Fluorine Coating based on a newly developed fluorine compound with high water- and oil-repellent properties. The lens surface is easier to wipe clean and is less vulnerable to the damaging effects of dirt, dust, moisture, and fingerprints, and enabling your important lenses to be continually protected on a long-term basis.

7. The new design provides greater operability and design consistency
With the new SP design applied, Model A041 shares the same feel of high quality and operability as the other two models in this series, SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 (Model A032) and SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 (Model A025). Tamron has merged beautiful craftsmanship with intuitive design in this new high-speed ultra-wideangle zoom lens. Even details like the shape of the switch box, distance-scale window, and the precision and stability of the metallic mount reveal a commitment to functionality, as well as design. The result is a next-generation lens that’s easy to use yet loaded with cutting-edge technology.

8. Compatible with TAMRON TAP-in ConsoleTM, an optional accessory
The new Model A041 is compatible with the TAMRON TAP-in Console, an optional accessory product that provides a USB connection to a personal computer for easy updating of the lens’s firmware as well as customization of features including fine adjustments to the focus position of AF and VC control.

9. Moisture-Resistant Construction
Seals are located at the lens mount area and other critical locations to prevent infiltration of moisture and/or rain to provide Moisture-Resistant Construction. This feature affords an additional layer of protection when shooting outdoors under adverse weather conditions.

10. Manufacturing innovation with thorough attention to details based on the rigorous quality standards worthy of the SP series
Tamron has enhanced the SP series lenses to fulfill high-level photographic requirements and provide the pleasure of ownership. While introducing a new exterior design, Tamron reviewed the SP series standards. The new SP series has been developed by setting rigorous standards for design, manufacturing and quality that apply to the optical design and mechanical design as well as such wide-ranging areas as the product’s robustness and improvements in a variety of individual functions. This has helped to achieve a more consistently superb optical performance, making it a lens that fulfills the demand for higher image quality that is compatible with the latest high-pixel cameras. To maximize the optical performance of the SP series, Tamron will continue to enhance the accuracy of the component parts of each lens element unit and improve the mechanical precision of the entire lens, thereby achieving a high overall performance.

Tamron SP 15-30mm F2.8 Di VC USD G2 specifications

Principal specifications
Lens type Zoom lens
Max Format size 35mm FF
Focal length 15–30 mm
Image stabilization Yes
CIPA Image stabilization rating 4.5 stop(s)
Lens mount Canon EF, Nikon F (FX)
Maximum aperture F2.8
Minimum aperture F22
Aperture ring No
Number of diaphragm blades 9
Elements 18
Groups 13
Special elements / coatings 2 eXpanded glass molded aspherical + 1 molded glass aspherical + 3 aspherical elements, Anti-reflection eXpand + BBAR + fluorine coatings
Minimum focus 0.28 m (11.02)
Maximum magnification 0.2×
Autofocus Yes
Motor type Ring-type ultrasonic
Full time manual Yes
Focus method Internal
Distance scale Yes
DoF scale No
Weight 1110 g (2.45 lb)
Diameter 98 mm (3.86)
Length 145 mm (5.71)
Sealing Yes
Colour Black
Zoom method Rotary (extending)
Power zoom No
Zoom lock No
Filter notes Canon version accepts rear gel filters
Hood supplied Yes
Tripod collar No

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Sony launches the Xperia XZ3 high-end smartphone

31 Aug

Sticking to its usual 6 months cycle, Sony has launched a new model in its high-end XZ smartphone line. The Xperia XZ3 follows on from the XZ2 which was released earlier this year. The new device is more evolution than revolution and the major differences to the XZ2 are an updated screen, a bigger battery and a slightly modified body design.

The new 6-inch OLED display supports HDR and comes with a 2880 x 1440 pixel resolution. It is protected by Gorilla Glass 5 that is curved at the edges to integrate smoothly with the aluminum body. The bezel dimensions have also been reduced, allowing for an improved display/body ratio.

Probably thanks to the marginally larger device body Sony has been able to use a beefier 3330 mAh battery which, compared to the XZ2’s 3180 mAh unit, should deliver a slightly improved battery life. Sony has also improved the S-Force front speakers, offering better base and treble as well as a 20% increased overall volume.

At 1/2.3″ the sensor is comparatively large for a smartphone camera and is combined with a 25mm equivalent wideangle lens and F2.0 aperture

Other specs include a Snapdragon 845 processor, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, all wrapped up in a IP68 water and dust resistant body. At least on paper the rear camera specification has not changed for the new model and the XZ3 comes with the same 19MP camera module as the XZ2. At 1/2.3″ the sensor is comparatively large for a smartphone camera and is combined with a 25mm equivalent wideangle lens and F2.0 aperture. Predictive PDAF, laser AF and 4K video recording are on board as well.

The front-facing unit has been updated, however, and now comes with a higher 13MP resolution and faster F1.9 lens. The Xperia XZ3 will b available from October 17 for $ 900. More information is available on the Sony Mobile Blog.

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4 Tips for Photographing Fog to Create Mystical Images

31 Aug

There’s nothing that I’ve seen so far that compares to the ethereal and mystical beauty of capturing long exposure and photographing fog. There’s something so compelling about the soft silky texture that results from it. So much so, that photographers all over the world are constantly chasing it.

4 Tips for Photographing Fog

In fact, where I live in the Bay Area, we call these people “fog-chasers,” and they spend their days in popular local spots waiting for it to make an appearance just so that they capture this mystical geological phenomenon. The fog can create mystique and drama. It can add mood, be a soft blanket over a scene, a floor, or a wall. It can take many forms in shapes and create some very compelling photographs.

The main challenges in capturing these fog shots are:

  • Focus issues for getting a sharp image.
  • Preventing camera shake.
  • Preparing for the shot.

4 Tips for Photographing Fog

Tip 1 – Finding the fog

This is the most challenging aspect of doing this type of shot since as a photographer you, unfortunately, have no control over the weather. So, what I do is scour the web for weather sites that can provide me with the information I need.

I also check out the weather on the local news religiously as well as follow weathermen on Twitter and Facebook. Once the word is out that fog is on its way, webcams are the best way to monitor it on the day you want to shoot. You can see what the fog looks like and if it’ll be cooperative for the type of shot you have in mind.

4 Tips for Photographing Fog

Tip 2 – Composition

Fog, in general, has a way of turning an ordinary scene into something spectacular. For fog waves, wide landscapes with forest treetops make an interesting subject. So do iconic structures or monuments.

4 Tips for Photographing Fog

Here in San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge is a local favorite. At certain times during the year, the fog gets so low that it flows beneath the arches. It serves as the perfect opportunity to cream a soft blanket from these types of long exposures.

Another local favorite is Mount Tamalpais, which consists of long ranges of hills adorned with redwood trees. The way the fog flows over the treetops creates these spectacular waves as it flows through the peak’s ridges.

4 Tips for Photographing Fog - Golden Gate bridge in the fog

Tip 3 – Use an ND Filter

Neutral Density filters are an absolute necessity for smoothing out fog and making it appear almost silk-like. The time of day will dictate the density of the filter needed. If it’s bright daylight out you’ll need something quite dark while if you’re shooting at twilight you’ll need something lighter or you may not need a filter at all.

When using an ND filter, make sure to first set up your shot using autofocus, without the filter. Then set the camera to manual focus and add the filter. This way you’ll assure the proper focus for your shot. Alternatively, you can also use back button focus.

4 Tips for Photographing Fog

Most of the time if the filter is too dark the camera will not be able to focus on a specific focal point. Also, because fog is a moving entity and puts a veil on any element in your composition the camera’s autofocus will most likely fail. Fear not and simply find something in the frame that’s sharp enough to focus on, then lock focus on that spot.

Tip 4 – Experiment with shutter speed

There are two types of fog shots that be taken from the techniques above that will produce different results based on your shutter speed.

4 Tips for Photographing Fog

A shorter shutter speed will give the fog more texture while a longer exposure will make it look silkier and smoother. You’ll need to experiment to see what looks better to you. Sometimes keeping the shutter open too long will result in the fog looking too messy and it could lose its lines and consistency.


Hopefully, these tips are helpful and will inspire you to get out there and experiment photography fog. The most difficult aspect of this type of photography is first finding it, then capturing it in a way that’ll showcase it as well as the scene it should be complementing.

4 Tips for Photographing Fog

In order to achieve this ND filters will help you soften the fog flow and turn it into waves. After that experimenting with shutter speeds will create various results.

In the end, it’s your aesthetic as the photographer that will dictate what is most pleasing to you. I hope that the photos that I’ve captured from the years of shooting the fog will inspire and get you on your way to becoming a fog chaser too!

4 Tips for Photographing Fog

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Polaroid launches Mint digital instant camera and mobile printer

31 Aug

Polaroid has launched the Mint 2-in-1 digital instant camera at the IFA trade show in Berlin. The Mint camera (not to be confused with the Instax-mini-compatible Mint InstantFlex TL70) comes with a 16MP image sensor, a microSD-slot for cards of up to 256GB capacity, a built-in selfie mirror, and a self-timer. A smartphone-like LED-flash is on board as well.

Polaroid says the camera “makes it easier than ever to capture and print instant photos that last a lifetime” and the built-in printer, which uses the inkless ZINK-technology can produce color, black-and-white or sepia prints in less than a minute. Before printing, users have the option of adding a frame to the image. The Polaroid Mint instant camera is available in black, white, red, blue and yellow and will set you back $ 99.99.

The Mint Instant Digital Pocket printer is Polaroid’s second new product at the trade show and meant to be used in conjunction with mobile devices. The pocket-sized printer uses the same ZINK technology as the Mint camera and lets you print any photo from your smartphone or tablet via the Polaroid Mint app and a bluetooth connection. The app features many common editing functions, including filters, frames and stickers.

The printer can be charged via a USB port and is the battery is good for 50 prints. The Polaroid Mint printer is available in black, white, red, blue and yellow and retails at $ 129.99. More information on the Mint camera and printer is available on the Polaroid website.

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Updated firmware for Fujifilm X-T100 and X-A5 include two new filters, square capture mode

30 Aug

Fujifilm has new firmware updates for its X-A5 and X-T100 mirrorless cameras. The updates include new and updated features in addition to a number of bug fixes.

First up is the Fujifilm X-A5. Firmware version 1.20 adds two new Advance Filters called ‘Rich & Fine’ and ‘Monochrome [NIR].’ The ‘Rich & Fine’ filter is made for food and still life photography, with an emphasis on saturated colors and a slight vignette. As the name suggests, the ‘Monochrome [NIR]’ filter simulates the look of a near-infrared camera through selective toning of the scene.

Also included in the update is a new Square Mode, which enables 1:1 format capture and improved autofocus accuracy in AF-C mode when the shutter is half-pressed. A bug that caused the highlight warning not to show in the Info display has also been squashed, alongside a few others.

Onto the X-T100, firmware version 1.10 adds the same two new Advance Filters, Square capture mode, improved autofocus accuracy in AF-C mode present in the X-A5 firmware update. Fujifilm has also made the default ISO setting when switching between P, S, A, M, Adv modes ‘Auto.’

Fujifilm also fixed an issue with the autofocus frame shifting when zooming in on the focus position display. Other bug fixes, including the aforementioned highlight warning issue, have been included as well.

You can download firmware version 1.20 for the X-A5 and firmware version 1.10 for the X-T100 on Fujifilm’s website. Installation instructions are found on the bottom of the respective update pages.

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Raw conversions added to Nikon Z7 pre-production gallery

30 Aug

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Ever since getting our hands on a pre-production model of the new Nikon Z7 mirrorless camera, we’ve been very eager to play with the Raw files. Now, our wishes (and maybe yours) have finally come true: click through for a large selection of Raw conversions made using a beta version of Adobe Camera Raw 11.

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5 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Starting Nature Photography

30 Aug

5 Things I Wish I'd Known Before Starting Nature Photography - rose macro

How do you, as a beginning nature photographer, go about improving? How do you ensure that you gain useful skills as rapidly as possible so that you can start shooting professional quality nature photography?

5 Things I Wish I'd Known Before Starting Nature Photography - flower macro pink

In reality, it’s often difficult for the beginner to recognize how they should learn nature photography.

But I myself am a nature photographer, and looking back the answers to these questions are clear. So I thought I’d make a tutorial that discusses several things I wish I had known at the beginning of my nature photography journey.

Read on. The sooner you know these things, the sooner you’ll begin to take consistently stunning images.

1. Photograph every day

The first thing I wish I had known when starting nature photography is extremely simple,

Photograph every day!

I cannot emphasize this enough.

5 Things I Wish I'd Known Before Starting Nature Photography - flower close up

If you’re truly serious about improving as a nature photographer, you should try to take at least one photograph of nature, every single day. It doesn’t matter if you take it with your DSLR or your iPhone. Just get out and shoot.

You’ve likely heard that practice makes perfect, and this is part of that. But there’s more to it. By photographing every day, you’ll ensure that your artistic eye remains strong.

5 Things I Wish I'd Known Before Starting Nature Photography - yellow flower poppy

What do I mean by that? If you photograph every day, thinking about light, color, and composition will become second nature. You’ll start to see photographic opportunities everywhere.

This is exactly where you want to be as a nature photographer.

2. View the type of photography you want to create


This is a huge one, as well. If you want to create great nature photography, you have to view great nature photography.

When you view amazing photography, you develop an eye for light, color, and composition without even realizing it.


This is an essential skill for a budding nature photographer. Plus, there’s an added bonus – it’s really fun!

Start by looking up the type of photographs that you’d like to create. You can use a well-organized site like 500PX. Or you can just use Google. The important thing is that you find photography to look at for inspiration.

For instance, if you’re an up-and-coming macro photographer, try viewing the portfolios of photographers such as Mike Moats and Kristel Schneider.

If you’re a beginning landscape photographer, look at the work of Ian Plant and Thomas Heaton.

If you’re a budding wildlife photographer, look to photographers such as Marsel Van Oosten and Matthew Studebaker.

5 Things I Wish I'd Known Before Starting Nature Photography - flower extreme close up

Then expand from there.

The purpose isn’t to memorize their images so that you can copy them in the field. Rather, the goal is to appreciate great imagery, while recognizing (if only subconsciously) what makes it great.

The goal is also to get inspired.

3. Light matters more than you think

I’ve emphasized the need to practice photography every day, and that truly is essential. However, when practicing, there’s something extremely important you need to consider. That is the light.

I’ll state it plainly. Photograph the two hours after sunrise, the two hours before sunset, and during midday only if it’s cloudy.

Otherwise, stay indoors.


This generally takes some retraining of the brain. It’s easy to think to yourself, “It’s such a nice sunny afternoon; I should get out and photograph!”

But you need to resist this thought. Because photographing during a sunny afternoon will result in harsh, contrasty images that are almost never desirable in nature photography.

Start spending time observing the quality of the light. Notice how nicely illuminated your subject is when the sun is low in the sky. Notice how lovely and soft the light is on a cloudy afternoon. Notice how harsh the light is under the midday sun.


As a beginning photographer, I often forgot about this rule. So my photographs paid the price. I have thousands upon thousands of photographs that are simply unusable because of the harsh sunlight.

Memorize the rule. You may not be able to see such a difference in your images at present. But in a few years, you’ll thank me!

4. Gear matters less than you think

While light is more important than you think, gear is also less important than you may imagine.

You might think that gear is essential. You may ask me, “Jaymes, if my gear really isn’t important, then why do you spend so much time reading gear reviews and upgrading your equipment?”

But my response is this: gear does matter. High-quality lenses will allow you to capture the detail on a singing bird or the movement of sparring polar bears.

5 Things I Wish I'd Known Before Starting Nature Photography - flower extreme close up - daisy

High-quality cameras will allow you to photograph a wolf under the cover of twilight or a hawk flying directly above.

Yet gear is nothing without the photographers that wield it. A good photographer can get stunning images with any equipment. Whereas a bad photographer cannot create stunning images, regardless of their gear.


So focus less on making sure you have the right equipment. Instead, practice using the equipment you do have. Try to eke out as much as you can from it.

Eventually, if you work hard enough, you will get beautiful images, high-quality gear or not.

5. Most of the images you take will be terrible

Beginning nature photographers often have a dangerous misconception about nature photography. That is that the best photographers rarely take bad images.

This belief can lead to discouragement on the part of the budding photographer.

5 Things I Wish I'd Known Before Starting Nature Photography - flower extreme close up abstract

This type of abstract photograph comes amid a huge number of deleted images.

After looking through your memory card, to find that only you’ve managed to nail a single image (out of a hundred!), you may want to give up.



Because most of the early images you take will be terrible, and that’s okay. This is true for nature photographers of all levels. Of course, at the higher levels, the nature photographer’s standards are higher, but the tip still applies.

5 Things I Wish I'd Known Before Starting Nature Photography - flower extreme close up

This is true for me, as well.

I go on dozens of photo shoots each month and take around 600 images per shoot. Yet I’m happy if I get a single image with which I’m really pleased.

Because uncertainty, guesswork, and reaction are part of the game. This is the nature of nature photography.

So let me reiterate. Don’t get discouraged. Most of your shots will be terrible, but it’s the good ones that count.

5 Things I Wish I'd Known Before Starting Nature Photography - flower extreme close up tulip

In Conclusion

Starting nature photography can be daunting for a lot of people. It can be difficult to know how to improve. You want to take stunning images as soon as possible, but you just can’t figure out how.

5 Things I Wish I'd Known Before Starting Nature Photography - flower extreme close up

By understanding the lessons above, you’ll be well on your way to creating beautiful nature images.

Just remember:

  • Shoot every day.
  • View the type of photography you want to create.
  • Light matters more.
  • Gear matters less.
  • Finally, don’t be discouraged if most of your images are terrible.


Someday soon, you’ll be a great nature photographer.

What are some things you wish you had known when first starting out as a nature photographer? Let me know in the comments area below.


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Nikon Z6 vs Sony a7 III, which is the better buy? Hint: it’s too close to call

30 Aug

Battle of the ‘budget’ full-frame mirrorless

The Nikon Z6 and Sony a7 III are two cameras with much in common including 24MP full-frame sensors. If you’re looking to sink your teeth into the world of full-frame mirrorless, these two represent the most-affordable current models on the market, with body-only MSRPs of around $ 2000.

But the Z6 is a first-generation product for Nikon, while the a7 III is Sony’s third go at a ‘budget’ full-frame offering. How much does this matter? Let’s dig in!

Note: Our impressions on the Z6 are largely based on limited experience of using (but not shooting with) a pre-production model, plus significant time spent shooting with pre-production samples of the higher-resolution but operationally very similar Z7.

Nikon Z6 vs Sony a7 III: Image quality

Both of these cameras make use of 24MP full-frame sensors. The Sony a7 III’s sensor offers excellent low-light image quality, excellent dynamic range and best-in-class JPEG noise reduction. Our full review also notes improvements to color – specifically skin tones – over past Sony full-frame cameras.

We’ve yet to test the Z6’s sensor, but if past Nikon 24MP full-frame sensors are any indication, we also expect excellent image quality. Generally speaking we prefer Nikon colors to Sony colors but the Sony may have an advantage when it comes to retaining detail while reducing noise at high ISOs. Still, it’s too soon to tell which camera will end up with the upper hand, so for now, it’s a toss up in the IQ department.

Nikon Z6 vs Sony a7 III: Video

Neither of these cameras is a slouch when it comes to video. In fact, the two have more in common than not, including: over-sampled 4K/24p video using full sensor readout, useful tools such as focus peaking, microphone and headphone jacks, in-body stabilization for hand-held shooting and a 1080/120p mode for slow motion work.

For more experienced filmmakers, there are some important differences though: The Z6 can output 10-bit log over HDMI, while the a7 III cannot. On the other hand the a7 III can record 8-bit HLG and S-Log2 in-camera, while the Z6 cannot.

Another area where the two cameras might vary is AF tracking in video. As noted in our a7 III review, the tap-to-track function uses Sony’s old Center Lock-on AF algorithm, which is somewhat unreliable and requires a combination of unintuitive button presses to engage. Conversely, based on our impressions shooting video with the Z7, Nikon’s tap-to-track is both easy to use and very reliable. Whether that proves true in use (bearing in mind that the Z6 features a slightly different AF system to the Z7) is something we’ll establish once we receive a reviewable camera.

Overall, both the a7 III and Z6 offer compelling video packages, but provisionally, we’re going to give the Nikon the nod for what’s likely to be more usable video AF.

Nikon Z6 vs Sony a7 III: AF

Both the Nikon and Sony offer impressive on-sensor autofocus point coverage. The Z6 has 273 PDAF points covering 81% of its sensor, the Sony has 693 PDAF points covering 93% of the frame. In terms of usability, both have AF joysticks making point selection painless. But the Nikon AF points are illuminated in red, making them substantially easier to see than that of the Sony’s (which only illuminate slightly when focus is confirmed).

Face detection modes are offered in both cameras, but only the Sony offers Eye AF which locks focus on a subject’s eye with incredible precision. For stills mode, we also prefer the Sony’s through-the-viewfinder subject tracking, which is easy to use and very reliable. The Z6 on the other hand does not inherit Nikon’s excellent 3D Tracking. Tracking through the EVF is clunkier than it is on Nikon DSLRs and requires pressing the OK button to reset and switch subjects – this is annoying and can cost you shots.

We’re calling it in favor of Sony when it comes to autofocus through the EVF. If Nikon manages to squeeze 3D Tracking into the Z6 via firmware, we’ll reconsider. Until then, the Sony’s seamless tracking, excellent Eye AF and more precise AF point spread give it the advantage.

Nikon Z6 vs Sony a7 III: Usability

We realize that a camera’s usability or lack thereof depends on the photographer operating it and their needs. But there are some notable UI differences between the Z6 and a7 III.

The a7 III has Sony’s latest menus, which have been cleaned up over previous versions, but we still find them a bit confusing and redundant. The camera offers a good level of customization, but requires a decent amount of time spent setting it up to really get the most out of it. The touchscreen is a disappointment: it has limited use when it comes to changing camera settings/navigating the menu and is overall, unresponsive.

The Z6 inherits its (also pretty complex and often confusing) menus from Nikon DSLRs and largely functions like a Nikon DSLR except for its AF modes, which are inherited from the Coolpix line. Like the a7 III, it also offers a good level of customization, but in our opinion it’s an easier camera to simply pick up and shoot with. The Z6 also offers a top plate info panel – the a7 III does not. And unlike the Sony, its touchscreen can be used to change camera settings and navigate the menus.

Overall, both cameras are very usable, but the Nikon’s better touch operation makes it the winner.

Nikon Z6 vs Sony a7 III: Body design

The Nikon Z6 and Sony a7 III are remarkably similar in terms of size and weight – the Sony is 25g lighter, 7mm narrower, 5mm shorter and 6mm thicker. And while both cameras are weather-sealed, the Sony lacks proper sealing on its bottom battery door (the Nikon battery door is well-sealed) which is something to consider if you shoot in wet conditions.

Grip preference is obviously very subjective, but as a staff, we prefer the Z-series grip to that of the a7 III. However, the Sony offers dual SD card slots, (only one is rated for faster UHS-II memory cards), while the Nikon offers a single XQD slot (but will support CFexpress media in a future firmware update). Does this matter? That depends on how and what you shoot. Judging by the comments on our Z7 launch content, for a lot of you it’s a deal-breaker.

Overall, we really like Sony’s dual slots, but appreciate the Nikon’s comfier grip, top plate info panel and more robust sealing. Still, we’re calling this one a toss up.

Nikon Z6 vs Sony a7 III: Lenses and mount

At launch, the Nikon Z6 will have three available native lenses, shown above.

Nikon’s new Z mount is larger than Sony’s E mount by a good margin (55mm vs 46.1mm) and has a shorter flange distance (16mm vs 18mm). So what does this actually mean? Well, in theory it means that Nikon will be able to put out faster glass because their lenses will be less constrained by the limitations that the E-mount’s comparatively narrow throat imposes. This also means the Nikon Z might become the most adaptable camera ever, since it has the shortest flange distance we’ve ever seen.

On the other hand, right now there are only three native Z lenses available for the Nikon Z6 whereas the a7 III can make use of 25+ native Sony lenses as well as an ever growing list of third party lenses. Then again, thanks to the $ 250 FTZ adapter ($ 150 for a limited time if bought with a Z camera) the Z6 will work with most F mount lenses, autofocus and all.

Again, though, this one is also a toss up. The Nikon clearly has the more versatile lens mount for those looking to invest in a system today – the Sony has more native glass to offer, sans adapter.

Nikon Z6 vs Sony a7 III: EVF & LCD

The Nikon Z6 has a a 3.68M dot electronic viewfinder with 0.8x magnification, compared to the Sony a7 III’s 2.36M dot EVF with 0.78x magnification. That difference in EVF resolution gives the Nikon a crisp and clear advantage. It’s also worth noting the Nikon doesn’t appear drop its EVF resolution when in shooting mode, while the Sony does.

And while both cameras have tilting LCDs, the Nikon has a larger, higher-res screen: 3.2″ and 2.1M dots compared to 3″ and 922k dots. Overall, Nikon is the winner when it comes to EVF and LCD.

Nikon Z6 vs Sony a7 III: Performance

In terms of speed, both cameras offer solid burst rates for anyone wishing to capture sports or action. The Sony a7 III can shoot up to 10 fps with AF compared to 12 fps on the the Nikon Z6. But the Sony has the Nikon beat when it comes to battery life, pumping out 710 shots per charge (CIPA rated) compared to a measly 330 shots per charge (CIPA rated) on the Nikon. We assume that like the Z7, the Z6 will be able to shoot for a great many more photos than that on a single charge for most people’s normal use, but so does the a7 III.

Due to the better battery life Sony gets the nod in the performance department.

Nikon Z6 vs Sony a7 III: Conclusion

It’s almost as if Nikon developed the Z6 intending to match the a7 III spec for spec. Of course, we know this isn’t true since the Z system has been in development for years. Still both cameras make a compelling case for your cash – such a compelling case, in fact, that picking a winner is far too difficult until we’ve fully tested the Z6. Until then, here’s a quick recap of how they stack up:

Both cameras should be capable of excellent image and video quality. But the Nikon Z6 has a better EVF, more responsive/high-res touchscreen, probably better video AF and a more versatile lens mount, including excellent near-native support for legacy F-mount lenses. On the other hand the Sony a7 III appears to offer a better autofocus experience for stills shooters, better battery life and obviously far more native lenses at launch.

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