Archive for October, 2018

Lens Rentals calls the Z7 the ‘best built mirrorless full-frame camera we’ve taken apart’

31 Oct

In case you were wondering what’s packed inside the Nikon Z7 and how well constructed it is, Lens Rentals has kindly cracked one open so you don’t have to, as promised in its EOS R teardown.

The camera equipment rental and repair business, famous for its camera teardowns, has documented the process of taking the Z7 apart, showing pictures of the weather sealing, electronic design, internal structure, and component layout of Nikon’s flagship full-frame mirrorless camera.

Roger Cicala, the man behind the teardown and founder of Lens Rentals, praises the extensive weathersealing protection from ingress of dust and moisture in the camera’s construction, and says the joints in the body are overlapped, screwed together and then covered by adhesive and rubber. He’s also impressed with the neatness of the electronics and the way the boards are packed into the body without leaving much space between them, especially with the in-body image stabilization.

“[The IBIS] noticeably more compact, has less travel than the Sony system, and seems more robust,” says Cicala. “From our focus on repair, we see this as a good thing – early Sony IBIS systems would sometimes move enough to jam and/or break. (To be clear, that’s not an issue with newer Sony cameras. I point this out just to show that the manufacturers have been watching each other.)”

Cicala’s only concerns seem to be that the diopter adjustment knob might not stand being pulled out and pushed in multiple times in rental models, and that the tripod screw isn’t as deep as some, so runs the slight risk of a long thread busting through it.

In conclusion Cicala says “I’m impressed by the very solid construction of the chassis and IBIS unit. I’m impressed with the neat, modern engineering of the electrical connections […] I’m not here to tell you which camera is best to use or has the best performance. I’m just here to say this is a damn well-built camera, the best built mirrorless full-frame camera we’ve taken apart.”

Go to the full teardown on Lens Rental’s website to see more photos and a more thorough take with all his comments. And remember, don’t try this at home!

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5 Tips for Using Continuous Lights in Your Photography

31 Oct

Lighting is an essential building block of photography. Learning how to use light to your advantage can transform an ordinary photo into an extraordinary one. Many photographers begin their journey working with natural light and I firmly believe this is is a great place to start. But depending on the circumstance, artificial light may be needed.

When it comes to artificial light, there are many options to choose from. Speedlights, strobe lights and continuous lights are all at your disposal, not to mention the various light modifiers. But while it’s nice to have this variety, trying to work out which light source is best for your shoot can become overwhelming.

Tips for using continuous lights in your photography

The Difference Between Speedlights, Strobe Lights and Continuous Lights

Tips for using continuous lights in your photographySpeedlights are portable, battery operated lights that can attach to most cameras through the hot shoe mount. They can also be used off-camera by attaching them to a light stand and then activating them via wireless triggers.

Strobes are larger (and typically more powerful) lights that are attached to light stands and activated through wireless triggers. Both speedlights and strobe lights emit a powerful burst of light when fired.

Continuous lights emit light the entire time you have them on. Years ago these lights were commonly used in video production. After using them they’d be physically hot, and you had to wear special gloves to break them down. (I remember those days.)

Thankfully, continuous lights are now more powerful, more portable, and cool to the touch.


When to Use Continuous Lights

Tips for using continuous lights in your photography

Continuous lights are often overlooked in the world of photography. But sometimes they’re the best choice. If you’re an event photographer, you may find yourself shooting in a venue that doesn’t allow flash photography. In these cases, continuous lights may be permitted. Even if flash photography is allowed, you may still opt for continuous lights to avoid being a distraction. If it’s a sensitive event, setting continuous lights and leaving them on may be a better option.

Continuous lights are also a viable option for portrait photography, especially for beginners. When using strobe lights, you can’t truly evaluate your lighting situation until they’re fired. Because of this, they often take more time to set up and adjust. (You need to keep taking photos of your subject and adjusting the lights until they’re right.)

With continuous lights, you can see the lighting situation in real time, which helps you learn to see the best lighting situations and achieve your aesthetic goal. They generally emit an even stream of light onto your subject, allowing you to set them up once and then forget them.

And many strobe lights need a moment to power up between shoots. Those few seconds could bethe difference between a perfect shot and a mediocre one. If you’re taking photos of a subject that might move around a lot such as children or pets, continuous lights may be the answer.

Here are five photography tips to make using continuous lights easier and more effective.

1. Get stronger lights

Because of their design, continuous lights generally aren’t as powerful as strobe lights. To ensure you get a nice light source, opt for more powerful lights. I recommend an LED with at least 1000 bulbs. If it’s too strong, you can always dial it back. Better to have more than you need in these situations.

2. Soften the light

Tips for using continuous lights in your photography

We want a soft light on our subject to avoid unwanted harsh shadows. Continuous lighting is no different. Use light modifiers to soften your light as much as possible, especially if you’re taking portraits. Whether you use softboxes or umbrellas is up to you. (I like using softboxes or scrims.)

3. Check the color temperature

Unlike most photography lights, some continuous lights let you change color temperature. In most cases you’ll want to make sure they’re set to daylight (around 5600k), which will give you the most natural look. Check your lights to make sure they’re set to the right color temperature.

4. Turn off all other available lighting

Because color temperature is so important, chances are the current lighting in the space will interfere and mix the color temperatures. Turn off all other light sources in the space to ensure the only light your camera is working with is the light you’ve provided.

5. Use a three-point light system

If you’re taking portrait, I suggest using a three-point light system, especially with continuous lights as they aren’t as powerful. The two front lights will be your key and fill, while the back light can serve as a hair light or be used to separate your subject from the background.

Ready to Try Continuous Lights?

I hope you consider using continuous lights next time you’re in the studio. The results may surprise you.

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Making Photoshop Luminosity Masks Easy with Lumenzia

31 Oct

As you advance with your photography, you may want to edit your photographs with more precise control. In this article, I discuss how to use Lumenzia Luminosity Masking Panel to easily edit sections of your image using Luminosity Masks in Adobe Photoshop.

These masks allow you to control different aspects of your image without affecting others. You can manually create these luminosity masks, or you can use a product such as Lumenzia to make them for you automatically, as well as applying many commonly used adjustment layers in Adobe Photoshop.

Making Photoshop Luminosity Masks Easy with Lumenzia 2

Hoar Frost on a River Stone after Using Luminosity Masks

Lumenzia is a luminosity masking panel that is an add-on application that works within Adobe Photoshop. It allows you to quickly create and efficiently use a wide range of luminosity masks for your image editing. To understand how Lumenzia works, because it is a little technical, you need to understand how Photoshop layers work.

Lumenzia, in its most basic terms, is used within Adobe Photoshop to allow you to manipulate images with layer masks. For this article, all the references and images are for Lumenzia V6.0.  Lumenzia appears as a panel within Photoshop.

Making Photoshop Luminosity Masks Easy with Lumenzia 3

Lumenzia Panel

Luminosity Masks

Luminosity masks, also known as Luminescence masks, are a way of making advanced selections in Photoshop based on luminosity values. This method is particularly useful for images with a high dynamic range.

For example, let’s say we are looking at the hoar frost ice ball image. It is a bright object on a dark background, where the exposure is likely to have been selected for the darker areas rather than the ice ball, making the ice ball more gray than white. The image is uneven because the white section (the ice ball) is underexposed. We could make a second exposure, this time exposing to account for the ice ball and then smoothly blend the area of the ice into the darker background.

Making Photoshop Luminosity Masks Easy with Lumenzia 4

Underexposed Original Hoar Frost Ice Ball

There are many ways to make selections in Photoshop, but in this particular example, Luminosity Masks would allow us to select the over-exposed area because it targets luminosity values (i.e., the brightness of an area), and smoothly blend in the darker exposure. The image below shows the luminosity histogram for this image.

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Ice ball histogram

Luminosity masks are incredibly powerful because you can manipulate specific parts of your image. As with all masks, the key to remember is that white reveals and black conceals. There are multiple uses for these types of masks including fine-tuning images, highlight recovery, HDR images, black and white imagery, and general masking uses.

Lumenzia is an add-on product for Photoshop CC that allows for the automation of using Luminosity Masks. The limits of what you use this tool for is related to your imagination and how far you want to manipulate images.

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Bonavista Harbour at Night – High Dynamic Range

What is a Luminosity Mask?

In general, there are two fundamental characteristics of the data contained in the photographic information in digital form: Chromatic (color, hue, and tint) and Luminosity (brightness). Luminosity masks focus on using the brightness of the information contained in the image data to allow you to manipulate portions of the image selectively.

There are some other great articles on dPS regarding Luminosity Masks. This being a fairly advanced concept, understanding how layers work in Photoshop is vital, or you may not understand much of this article.

Why use Luminosity Masks?

In times past and to this day, many photographers use techniques such as a white seamless background behind a portrait subject to allow for the background to be changed in post-production. Some other photographers use color to allow the background to replaced.

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Cute Puppy on White Seamless Background

The distinction between the two backgrounds is that the white background has different luminosity levels, making it easier to mask out the background manually. Colored backgrounds can create problems due to the color of the clothing worn and color from the background affecting the edges of the subject in the foreground. The lighting on the subject can also affect this. The colored background is a chromatic mask rather than a luminosity mask. Luminosity masks are used to solve this issue.

Again, layer masks always work on the premise that white reveals and black conceals.

Let’s look at three masks for the Ice Ball image:

  • ‘Lights’ (L2) Mask (just from the high end)
  • ‘Mid-tone’ Mask (just from the middle)
  • ‘Darks’ mask (just from the darker end)

It’s the same image using the different masks. By using these masks, you can modify the image in those specific areas. The white areas are the selected areas of the histogram and the further you get from the selection, the darker the mask is. For the ‘Highlights,’ only the light values are white. For the ‘Mid-tone’ selection, only the mid-range values are white, making the highlights dark as well as the dark range. Finally, the ‘Darks’ selection shows the dark range in white.

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Lights 2 Mask

Making Photoshop Luminosity Masks Easy with Lumenzia 8

Mids 2 Mask

Making Photoshop Luminosity Masks Easy with Lumenzia 9

Darks 2 Mask

How do you create Luminosity masks?

There are three ways to create luminosity masks. Firstly, you could create your own (time-consuming) and then automate this process. Secondly, you could purchase Lightroom or Photoshop presets that have someone else create an automated process for you. The third way is an add-in product that works within Photoshop. Lumenzia is an add-in product that works well.

There are two issues with the first two methods of generating Luminosity Masks; the time it takes to set up and automate them and the size of the files that have them applied with layer masks. Using presets or actions to generate Layer Masks can significantly increase the size of the files within Photoshop because each layer is effectively an image. This process takes up hard drive space and can place extra processing power on your computer.

Lumenzia uses Vector Masks instead of Layer Masks to rapidly create the Luminosity Masks. It allows for the rapid manipulation of images and discarding of masks is easy. All while keeping the image size smaller and more flexible.

How does Lumenzia work?

Lumenzia is an exciting product on its own as it allows you to efficiently control and automate many tasks related to Luminosity Masks. It integrates into Photoshop CC as a panel with simple button commands – many of which have instructions as you hover over them.

It is a powerful tool, and while the initial concepts are simple, the learning curve for using the product efficiently may be steep for some. Luckily, there are also integrated video tutorials that are launched from within Photoshop directly from the panel (you require an internet connection for these to function). The purpose of this review is to give you a bit of an overview of how it works so you can see if it’s right for you.

The Lumenzia Panel

The majority of the panel shows the selections of the luminosity ranges you need – once you understand how to select the various luminosity levels. To illustrate, consider a standard histogram for an image.

The RGB histogram shows the distribution of all the luminosity levels from pure black on the far left and pure white on the far right. The Lumenzia panel is divided up into sections. The top portion of the panel is the luminosity mask selection and preview area that allows you to see what you have selected.

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Selection Portion of Lumenzia Panel

This top section divides up the luminosity ranges based on the ranges you are looking to use. Visually, the buttons give you a clear idea of the luminosity range that the buttons select. The buttons can be combined and inverted.

Once you press a selected range, a temporary selection appears and the layer buttons show.

Look at the luminosity histogram and notice the buttons visually show (on the same horizontal line) an approximate distribution of the luminescence values being selected.

The line of numbers (0-10), just above the bottom, is the zone values that Ansel Adams made famous as part of his processing technique.

Once you select a range, a preview appears with a set of orange tabs. These are just temporary to show you how the mask looks.

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Orange Preview Tabs

The second section is the ‘Apply Panel.’ This panel allows you to use the mask on a common set of adjustment layer commands within Photoshop, such as curves, levels, contrast, brightness, HSL, and selective color. It applies the masks you have selected by creating an adjustment layer with the layer controls set up from the mask. The properties of the adjustment layer can then be modified.

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Lumenzia Apply Panel

The third section is the ‘Refine Panel’ for refining the mask you have selected. It allows you to group and combine your selections as well as work with edge refinement. This section of the Lumenzia panel is suited for more advanced users.

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Refine Panel


Once you get familiar with Lumenzia, creating adjustment layers that work on your images with precision is fantastic. The online tutorials provide a wide array of examples of how to control all aspects of your images. The panels mentioned come with the full add-in program ($ 39.99 US), but there is also a basic free panel that helps you get a feel for how it works. The Lumenzia website can be found here.

Using Lumenzia to control your images can help you produce dynamic results for your images.  Happy processing!

Have you tried Lumenzia? What results have you had with it? Please share with us in the comments below.

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Wansford Bridge


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DJI unveils Mavic 2 Enterprise, a commercial-oriented drone with modular accessories

31 Oct

DJI has unveiled the Mavic 2 Enterprise, a modular version of its Mavic 2 Zoom drone designed specifically for businesses, governments, educators and other professionals.

At its core, The Mavic 2 Enterprise is effectively a Mavic 2 Zoom drone with a few tricks up its sleeve. It has the same 4K video capabilities, 2x optical zoom and 3x digital zoom, and 31-minute flight time. But in addition to the standard features, DJI has added a few unique features that will help it perform in more demanding environments.

The battery inside The Mavic 2 Enterprise is “self-heating,” which DJI says will enable it to operate at much cooler temperatures than your run-of-the-mill Mavic 2 Zoom. DJI has also beefed up storage, adding 24GB of storage, three times what the Mavic 2 Zoom offers. There’s also new security features, including a GPS timestamping feature and a new password protection feature that will make users type in a code every time the drone is activated, accesses the onboard storage, or connect with the controller.

To help with various needs such as search and rescue operations and inspections, DJI has also created three add-on accessories: The M2E Spotlight, the M2E Speaker, and the M2E Beacon.

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The M2E Spotlight is a 2,400-lumen dual spotlight designed to help “operators in carrying out missions in dark or low-light areas.” The M2E Speaker is a 100-decibel loudspeaker that can have up to ten customized recordings for blaring in emergency situations. The The M2E Beacon is a strobe build with the FAA’s Night Waiver standards in mind, meaning the drone will be visible up to three miles away, be it for other drone operators or pilots of manned aircrafts.

The DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Universal Edition includes the drone, a remote controller, one battery, all three mountable accessories, and a protector case with flight tools. It’s set to retail for $ 1,999 USD and is available through DJI Enterprise resellers around the world. To find out more information, head on over to DJI’s product page.

There is also an optional “Fly More Kit” that includes two batteries, a battery charging hub, a car charger, a USB connector, a soft case, and two propellers for $ 419 USD.

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Samsung announces two new 1/2-inch sensors likely destined for future Galaxy devices

31 Oct

Recent flagship smartphones have shown the newest arms race in the world of mobile photography is how many lenses you can stick on a device, but Samsung isn’t giving up on the megapixels yet. Samsung has announced a new pair of half-inch image sensors destined for future smartphones: the 48-megapixel GM1 and 32-megapixel GD1.

Both the 48MP ISOCELL Bright GM1 and 32MP ISOCELL Bright GD1 have 0.8?m pixels and are backside illuminated (BSI) CMOS sensors that use Samsung’s latest pixel isolation technology, nicknamed ISOCELL Plus. They also use Samsung’s Tetracell technology, which merges four pixels together to create a single pixel that’s more effective in low-light environments. Samsung claims “the GM1 and GD1 can deliver light sensitivity equivalent to that of a 1.6?m-pixel image sensor at 12MP and 8MP resolution, respectively.”

Both sensors support gyro-based electronic image stabilization and the 32MP GD1 supports real-time HDR image capture.

Samsung expects the ISOCELL Bright GM1 and GD1 to be in mass production by the end of 2018, which would likely pave the way for an appearance in future Samsung Galaxy devices in 2019.

Samsung Introduces Two New 0.8?m ISOCELL Image Sensors to the Smartphone Market

Ultra-small pixel size combined with ISOCELL Plus and Tetracell technologies enhance sharpness and detail in smartphone photos

Samsung Electronics, a world leader in advanced semiconductor technology, today introduced two new 0.8-micrometer (?m) pixel image sensors – the 48-megapixel (Mp) Samsung ISOCELL Bright GM1 and the 32Mp ISOCELL Bright GD1.

“Demand for ultra-small, high-resolution image sensors are growing as smartphones evolve to deliver new and more exciting camera experiences for users,” said Ben K. Hur, vice president of System LSI marketing at Samsung Electronics. “With the introduction of our cutting-edge 0.8?m-pixel Samsung ISOCELL Bright GM1 and GD1 image sensors, we are committed to continue driving innovation in image sensor technologies.”

As cameras are becoming a key distinguishing feature in today’s mobile devices, smartphone makers are faced with the challenge to fit multiple cameras into the sleek designs of their latest flagships. At a reduced pixel size, the new sensors provide greater design flexibility, enabling camera module manufacturers to build smaller modules or pack more pixels into existing designs, and consequently allowing smartphone makers to maximize space utilization in slim, bezel-less smartphones.

The GM1 and the GD1 sensors are based on the company’s latest pixel isolation technology – the ISOCELL Plus* – which optimizes performance especially for smaller-dimension pixels, making them the ideal solution for today’s super-resolution cameras. In addition, thanks to Tetracell technology, where four pixels are merged to work as one to increase light sensitivity, the GM1 and GD1 can deliver light sensitivity equivalent to that of a 1.6?m-pixel image sensor at 12Mp and 8Mp resolution, respectively. The sensors also support Gyro-based electronic image stabilization (EIS) for fast and accurate image capture.

A real-time high dynamic range (HDR) feature is added to the GD1 to deliver more balanced exposure, richer color and detail when filming selfie-videos or streaming live video content even in low-light, high-contrast environments.

The Samsung ISOCELL Bright GM1 and GD1 are expected to be in mass production in the fourth quarter of this year.

*Samsung first announced its ISOCELL technology in 2013, which reduces color-cross talk between pixels by placing a physical barrier, allowing small-sized pixels to achieve higher color fidelity. Based on this technology, Samsung introduced the industry’s first 1.0um-pixel image sensor in 2015 and 0.9-pixel sensor in 2017. In June 2018, Samsung introduced an upgraded pixel isolation technology, the ISOCELL Plus.

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Apple unveils new 2018 iPad Pro, MacBook Air, Mac Mini, and Apple Pencil

31 Oct

Today, Apple announced updated MacBook Air, iPad Pro, Mac Mini, and Apple Pencil models at its event in Brooklyn, New York. Both the iPad Pro and the MacBook Air received considerable design changes, including the addition of Touch ID to the latest MacBook Air model and an elimination of the home button from the new 11″ and 12.9″ iPad Pros. This follows last month’s iPhone event.

The 2018 iPad Pro swaps Touch ID for Face ID, the face-scanning security technology first introduced with the iPhone X. Both the 11″ and 12.9″ 2018 iPad Pro models feature an all-screen design with Liquid Retina displays, rounded corners, flat edges, and a 5.9mm thickness, making them the thinnest iPads to date.

The new iPad Pro features Apple’s A12X Bionic chip with four performance cores and four efficiency cores, as well as a new performance controller that Apple says allows all eight cores to be used at once. This is joined by Apple’s own seven core GPU, which the company claims offers “console-quality graphics.” As rumored, Apple has replaced the Lightning connector with USB-C.

Apple is offering the new 2018 iPad Pro tablets in space gray and silver with 64GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB configurations; both WiFi-only and WiFi+cellular options are available. Prices start at $ 799 USD for the 11″ model and $ 999 USD for the 12.9″ model.

Full details on the new iPads are available here.

The two new iPad Pro tablets are joined by an updated Apple Pencil, the stylus that originally launched as an iPad Pro exclusive. The new Pencil model charges wirelessly and attaches magnetically to the iPad Pro’s edge. This eliminates the highly criticized Lightning connector found on the bottom of the original Apple Pencil. The updated model likewise packs a touch sensor that can detect taps, which Apple describes as a new way to interact with apps.

Joining the new iPad Pro models is the fabled MacBook Air update, which brings Touch ID to the Apple laptop, as well as a 13″ Retina display, faster SSD options, a Force Touch trackpad, an Apple T2 Security Chip, Thunderbolt 3, and wide stereo audio. Other features include a FaceTime HD camera, the ability to display 48% more color than the previous Air generation, an 8th-generation Intel Core i5 processor and Intel UHD Graphics, up to 13 hours of battery life, and a new “wedge-shaped” design.

Apple is offering the 2018 MacBook Air starting at $ 1,199 USD. More information on the laptop can be found here.

Joining the MacBook Air is a new Mac Mini with quad-core and six-core processor options, up to 64GB of RAM, the Apple T2 Security Chip, Thunderbolt 3 ports, and what Apple says is five times faster performance than the previous model. The updated model boasts 10Gb Ethernet, all-flash storage in capacities up to 2TB, HEVC video transcoding up to 30 times faster than before, and an enclosure that’s the same size as the previous model.

Apple says it used entirely recycled aluminum for the enclosure and increased its use of post-consumer recycled plastic for parts. The company claims these two things combined reduce the Mac Mini’s carbon footprint by almost 50%.

The 2018 Mac Mini is available from Apple now starting at $ 799 USD. More information on the model can be found here.

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How to Choose the Right Tripod for Landscape Photography

31 Oct

A tripod is an essential piece of equipment for a landscape photographer. Sure, you won’t always need to use it. But you’ll find yourself in situations where it can help you capture a high-quality image you wouldn’t be able to get otherwise.

But how do you choose the right tripod? There are hundreds (if not thousands) of options out there, with prices ranging from $ 10 to more than $ 1,000. How do you know which one will best suit your needs? Should you just go for the most expensive tripod you can find? It must be the best, right?

Not necessarily.

Why You Need a Tripod

Before we get into the best options for you, I want to go over a few key reasons why you need a tripod.

Tripods are essential for capturing razor-sharp images, especially in low-light situations where you want to keep your ISO low.

While increasing the ISO lets you use a quicker shutter speed, it can introduce unwanted grain/noise and reduce the overall quality of your image. But keeping the ISO low means you’ll need a longer shutter speed. (Yes, you can adjust the aperture. But I won’t be talking about that here).

Capturing a sharp image using a shutter speed of 1/10th of a second or slower with a handheld camera is almost impossible. It’s very difficult to avoid any camera movement which, with such a slow shutter speed, means you’ll introduce some blur into the image.

How to Choose the Right Tripod for Landscape Photography

Mounting the camera on a tripod lets you use slower shutter speeds and still capture sharp images. The camera sits still on the tripod, so you don’t have to worry about the motion of you holding it.

Using a tripod also allows you to use even slower shutter speeds and capture long exposures (i.e. images that make use of extra slow shutter speeds).

What to Consider Before Buying a Tripod

The first tripods I bought were cheap $ 20 aluminum models from the local electronic shop. While most photographers start with such a tripod, I strongly advise you not to buy one. For landscape photography, they simply won’t do a good job. In some situations, they may even do more harm than goods. These also break more easily than something of a higher quality.

So what should you consider before purchasing your next tripod? Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Price and quality (i.e. what does your budget allow?)
  • Flexibility
  • Weight (aluminum vs carbon)

Taking these topics into account before you buy will make it easier to find the best one for your needs.

1. Price

The first thing most of us consider is the price. Photography equipment is rarely cheap, and if you want quality you need to pay for it. As I said earlier, a tripod can cost you anything from $ 10 to several thousand. But are more expensive tripods necessarily better?

In general, yes. A $ 1,000 tripod will outperform a $ 200 tripod in most tests. But that doesn’t mean it’s the right one for you. Ask yourself what you need. What type of photography do you do? Do you need the most expensive model? For most people, the answer is no.

Chances are a mid-range ($ 200) tripod will be more than adequate and perform perfectly in most scenarios.

2. Flexibility / Height

What about the specs? Should you choose a short one or a tall one? Can the legs spread wide, or are they locked into a fixed position? Flip-lock or twist-lock?

Let’s start with the height. In most situations, you won’t need a tall tripod. But there may well come a time where you need that extra leg length. Is it worth paying extra for? If you often find yourself in rivers, rocks or rugged seascapes, then yes. But if you’re not into extreme landscape photography and mount your tripod on flat and stable ground instead, I wouldn’t bother.

While a tall tripod is nice, it’s also nice to have one that lets you get close to the ground. For this image, the tripod held my camera just a few centimeters off the ground, which allowed me to get extra close to the flowers.

How to Choose the Right Tripod for Landscape Photography

So what’s more important to you? Having a tall tripod, or being able to take photographs from a low perspective?

The good news is that some of the more expensive tripods can give you both. While they can stand close to two meters tall, they can also lay more or less flat on the ground for those extremely low perspective shots. 

3. Weight

The final thing to consider is the tripod’s weight. This is important, especially if you head out on long hikes to reach particular destinations. Your backpack can get quite heavy once you add all the gear you need, so the last thing you want is unnecessary weight from a tripod.

Now, a lightweight tripod doesn’t necessarily mean a low-quality tripod. In fact, some of the best tripods out there are lightweight. You just need to make sure they’re sturdy and can support the weight of your camera. However, these tripods are rarely cheap and are often found in the higher end of the price range.

If you’re an avid hiker and tend to go a long way to photograph your subjects, I strongly recommend looking into a lightweight carbon-fiber tripod. These tripods are just as sturdy (if not more sturdy) than the heavier aluminum alternatives.

How to Choose the Right Tripod for Landscape Photography

But if you’re not into hiking, weight might not be such an issue. In fact, if you photograph in rough conditions you may prefer the extra weight. When photographing beaches in Arctic Norway I depend on having a sturdy tripod that won’t break when hit by waves or move when the waves are receding. In these situations, a low-quality travel tripod is far from ideal. Even strong winds can make these tripods vibrate, leading to blurry images. A heavy and solid tripod is a much better option.

What types of landscapes do you normally photograph? And what do you need to capture those scenes?

Which Tripod is Best for You?

Unfortunately, I can’t answer this question for you. It really depends on who you are and the kinds of photographs you take. But when you’re ready to buy one, consider what I’ve talked about and ask yourself what you need. Do you need a light tripod you can easily bring on long hikes? Do you need a sturdy tripod that can handle wind and rough conditions? Perhaps you need a combination of the two.

And what about the price? Do you really need the most expensive model, or will a medium-priced alternative do the job?

Answering these questions should help you narrow down the options, and help you find the tripod that is best for you.

Personally, I have two tripods: a lightweight travel tripod I can bring on long hikes, and my main tripod that’s a little heavier (and more expensive) but solid enough to use in even the roughest Arctic conditions.

Let us know what tripod you ended up choosing. We’d love to hear about it.

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MS Optics has developed the Sonnetar 73mm F1.5 FMC, a lightweight lens made for portraits

30 Oct

MS Optics, a niche optics manufacturer that operates in the basement of Miyazaki san’s Chiba, Japan home, has developed yet another custom lens for Leica M-mount cameras, the Sonnetar 73mm F1.5 FMC.

Inspired by his love for Zeiss’ Sonnar lenses, Miyazaki san created this medium telephoto lens with a unique aesthetic and lightweight design that’s perfect for portraiture. It’s handmade with five elements in four groups and features a multi-coating on every surface for a 97.5% transmission rate.

The lens measures in at 50mm/1.97in in diameter and 56.4mm/2.22in in length, and weighs just 197g/6.95oz. It uses an M49 filter and hood thread size and can focus from infinity to 0.8m/31.5in.

Below are a collection of sample shots graciously provided by Bellamy Hunt of Japan Camera Hunter, shot with the Sonnetar 73mm F1.5 FMC on his Leica M6 with Japan Camera Hunter’s own Streetpan film and filmed with a Canoscan 9000F.

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Bellamy Hunt has also shared a few digital images captured with the Sonnetar 73mm F1.5 FMC.

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Japan Camera Hunter says the lens is still in development and will be available “from the end of October.” As with all MS Optics lenses, numbers are very limited and delivery times are long due to the handmade nature of the lenses.

Japan Camera Hunter is currently selling the Sonnetar 73mm F1.5 FMC for ¥140,000/USD$ 1,252 and says “this is [effectively] a pre-order for the lens with expected delivery around the middle of November.”

Articles: Digital Photography Review (

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Hasselblad XCD 80mm F1.9 sample gallery

30 Oct

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The Hasselblad XCD 80mm F1.9 isn’t just the fastest lens for the medium-format system, it’s Hasselblad’s fastest lens ever. It provides a view equivalent to 63mm on full-frame, making it a solid candidate for portraiture. DPReview contributor Damien Demolder put it to work recently – take a look at the results.

See our Hasselblad XCD 80mm F1.9
sample gallery

Articles: Digital Photography Review (

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Opportunity Knocks

30 Oct

As Halloween approaches, a timely story about a little prank available to any lighting photographer. All you need is a remote flash trigger, a clueless friend and the maturity level of a 12-year-old.

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