Archive for June, 2019

Uwe Moebus of Hasselblad – “We have learnt that we should launch products when they are fully developed”

30 Jun
Uwe Moebus, Hasselblad’s head of sales for Europe and MD of Germany. Photograph by Damien Demolder.

It has been interesting watching Hasselblad’s fortunes over the last couple of decades. When I began writing about cameras the V system wasn’t called the V system, and the company’s medium format film bodies were very popular with high-end amateurs as well as with professional photographers. I suspect that even in those days it was amateurs that contributed the majority of Hasselblad’s income, and the company was revered for quality, craftsmanship and very high standards. It seems Hasselblad is aiming to recapture that valuable amateur market once again and the X1D II 50C is the camera the company hopes will bring droves of non-professionals back to its door. The company’s product catalogue has been dominated by very high priced digital medium format models for quite a period of time, which has kept the majority of non-professionals away.

During the launch event for the X1D II 50C in London I got to speak to Hasselblad’s head of sales for Europe and MD of Germany, Uwe Moebus, to ask him how this relatively low-cost model came about and to find out what Hasselblad aims to achieve in the future.

‘We have learnt that we should launch products when they are ready and fully developed’

I asked Moebus what the company has learnt since the launch of the original X1D, and how that learning has been implemented in this new model and the way the company operates. ‘We have learnt that we should launch products when they are ready and fully developed for the market. We have also learnt a lot from our customers over last three years about what should be improved and we tried to bring this into the new camera.

Start-up time was an issue from the beginning – this is improved now – frame rate needed to be improved – everybody wants faster frame rates, though this is difficult with medium format because of the amount of data – and some people weren’t happy with the previous viewfinder. These things were okay in the first camera, but now they are much better and enhanced in this mark II version.’

Attracting amateurs again

We chat about how it had been some time since Hasselblad had dealt with the amateur market when the X1D came out and how things had changed since the days the film bodies were at their height. ‘Everybody thinks that the V system Hasselblad were only for professionals. The camera was about £5000 at the time, and actually almost two thirds of users were amateurs. So, working in this market is not so new to us. But in between, when medium format went digital, things became so much more sophisticated, complicated and expensive that our whole market turned around to the point that over 90% was professional. The number of cameras we made dropped a lot and the price went up a lot – and we had a much smaller customer base.’

‘There are fewer professional photographers and it is getting harder for professionals to make money’

‘Now though we will be turning that situation back again. There are fewer professional photographers and it is getting harder and harder for professionals to make decent money. So Hasselblad needed to look to the future and ask if those customers would continue to use expensive medium format cameras, or would they look at full frame cameras? We decided that ‘no’ many wouldn’t continue to spend on high priced medium format systems and that we needed to take a different route. We will continue to develop our H system, which is very high-end and for pros, but the new X1D will open a new market for us. Maybe we can go back to [how things were in] the 80s and have a lot of amateur customers.’

‘The purpose of this new model and its lower price is to broaden our market, to put the company on solid ground. We can do this by having more products: this X series, the H series, having a new V series with the CFV attached and the new 907X – this will allow us to develop our position in the market. Looking back ten years we only had the H system. Now though we can attract a new customer group. £5500 is still a lot of money but it is a lot less than these cameras used to be, and you can have a camera and a lens for below £10,000. This is a much bigger market for us.’

New electronics

The main changes in the new body are centered around performance and speed of operation, all of which have been achieved using a new faster processor and a whole new electronics system. Moebus wouldn’t say exactly how much faster the new processor is, but it has cut start-up time almost in half, has produced reduced shutter lag and black-out time between frames. It can also run the 60fps EVF while also adding 30% to the maximum frame rate – though 2fps to 2.7fps doesn’t sound all that impressive until you think of the data that is being moved. To cope with this new processor the camera has had a complete electronic make-over inside with an entirely redesigned system.

The new processor also helps the auto focus run more quickly, speeding up acquisition and tracking. Moebus said the system only has to read the area of the sensor beneath the AF points rather than reading from the whole sensor, so it is efficient and operates quickly.

‘We have further optimized the power management and the heat management systems’

‘New firmware also helps to run the camera more efficiently’, says Moebus, ‘and new systems are used to deal with the heat. We fixed the firmware in the original X1D to change the way the camera was always running all its systems all of the time, so that then only systems that were needed would be on while they were in use. The same is true in the X1D II but we have further optimized the power management and the heat management systems to make the camera work even better.’

The body is almost exactly the same on the outside other than the slightly remoulded grip and the much bigger rear screen, and it uses the same materials in its construction.

Evolution, but the same camera

I asked Moebus why this model is called a mark II and not X2D, for example. ‘There is more to come’ he joked. ‘This is an evolution of the original camera. There are some significant changes but it still looks like an X1D. It is not a completely new camera, which is why it has the same name.’ He wouldn’t be drawn on what would have to change to make it a revolution and thus completely new camera, rather than an evolution. I tried!

Hasselblad was never tempted to use a higher resolution sensor in this model, according to Moebus. ‘This camera was designed to have a 50MP sensor, and we were clear on this from the start. The X1D is a portable tool that captures high end images while maintaining is size and low weight to make it the most compact medium format camera on the market. The sensor we have used in the X1D II 50C is exactly the same one as is used in the original model.’

I was surprised at first that Hasselblad has placed so much emphasis on being able to record JPEG images – and that were was so much demand for more JPEG options. Moebus tells me that many Hasselblad users want to be able to shoot JPEGs and not have to spend time processing them afterwards. ‘Most professionals need raw data of course, but there is a market that requires JPEG only, so we have included the ability to shoot one file type or the other, or both at the same time. With the more accessible price of the camera we expect more amateurs to use it, and some of them just want to produce wonderful images straight from the camera. The X1D II 50C immediately delivers very nice JPEGs.’

I suppose that Fujifilm has also gone to some lengths to cater for the JPEG market in its medium format bodies, but it does too in the X series models. I was just curious that anyone would pay for a Hasselblad X1D and lenses and then record JPEGs, but having just seen the photo staff from luxury department store Harrods at the press briefing it clicked for me that I might not be their typical customer. Like Leica, Hasselblad has many wealthy fans who want a nice looking camera for their holiday snaps. Nothing wrong with that I suppose.

Cost reduction

Even though the X1D II 50C costs a good deal more than the average amateur camera, its price is significantly lower than the launch price of Mk I version – and the price of the Mk I version the day before the Mk II was announced. So, how was this price arrived at?

‘We have optimized production processes and our supply chain’ explains Moebus. ‘When we began making the X1D we were buying in lower quantities, but now we are buying more and in bulk. Buying more brings the unit cost down, so now we can make an even better camera for a lower price. These changes have not come about suddenly because the Mk II is an easier camera to make, but as a progressive journey since the beginning of the X1D.’

‘The whole organization has had to migrate to a situation where we are making many more products’

Hasselblad was caught out by the demand for the X1D and really struggled at first to produce enough units to meet its orders. Since then though the company has boosted its production line, its manufacturing processes and assembly to deal with much larger volumes than it had expected. ‘This hasn’t happened in a split second’ says Moebus ‘but the whole organization has had to migrate to a situation where we are making many more products. We had to do this without dropping quality as that would undermine the company and the brand. At Hasselblad image quality is everything. Everyone wants a fantastic picture. If you sacrifice this you aren’t going the right way. It was a stretch, but now we can make better cameras at a lower price.’

‘We are now in a position to be able to meet demand for the X1D II 50C. We are assuming it will be a popular camera, because of the features and the price, so we are prepared. We employed more people to meet demand for the Mk I so we are already in a good position. We will also be able to make the 907X and CFV II 50C on the same premises and cope with demand when the time comes. We are used to making digital backs, as we have been doing so since the merger with Imacon and also for the H system. The CFV II isn’t a new challenge for us to make, so we will be able to cope. The 907X is a nice slim camera with some mechanics and electronic connectors. We will be able to make an appropriate amount to feed the market. That shouldn’t be too complicated.’

Moebus isn’t prepared to discuss the price of the CFV II 50C or the 907X unfortunately, and argues that the original CFV wasn’t expensive – it was $ 15,000! We might hope though that with efficiencies in production and supply chain the cost of the CFV II 50C might synchronize with the drop we’ve seen in the X1D II 50C.

Moebus points out that the 907X camera and the CFV II 50C will have a whole system waiting for them once they are launched. ‘Often manufacturers have only a few lenses when a new camera system is introduced but the 907X already has nine native X lenses, and will also be able to work with H, V and XPan lenses – we have a complete line-up.’

Half an eye on the competition

We’d already discussed how Hasselblad reduced costs in the making of the X1D II 50C, but I wanted to know if the camera’s new lower price was a response to Fujifilm’s activities with its GFX series. ‘We are both in the medium format mirrorless market, so of course we look at what other people are doing in the same field. Primarily though we are looking at ourselves and thinking about what we need to bring to the market. We aren’t interested in copying and we don’t strive to make cameras that match others. That’s why the X1D is the way it is. The current price of the X1D II 50C reflects that we wanted to make the camera accessible to a larger audience, not because of Fujifilm’s pricing.’

‘We will listen to our current customers’

Hasselblad has been quite good at offering trade-in programs to encourage its H system users to move up the ladder to the newest equipment, but Moebus says there are no similar programs in place for the X series. But, he says ‘We will listen to our current customers’ meaning perhaps that if there is enough demand the company might consider it. The issue for some is that the new body costs less than the original did the day before the launch of the upgrade, so if you’d bought the original model the week before you might feel a bit annoyed. Moebus said the company was aware that this might be an issue, but that the most important thing was to make the new model accessible.

The best lens ever

After speaking to Moebus I was able to chat to other technical staff about the new 35-75mm F3.5-4.5 zoom lens. Hasselblad claims it is the best lens the company has ever made, so I asked what it was in particular that made it so. The answer it seems is MTF. Charts were produced that show the lens to perform to the sort of standard you’d expect from a prime lens – and much better in many cases.

Comparing the MTF at various focal lengths with the prime versions the company makes it is clear to see, in theory at least, that the 35-75mm will provide a prime-lens experience for those who don’t need super-wide maximum apertures. Even at the long end though the maximum F4.5 aperture is comparable to moderate telephoto lenses from past medium format systems – though with the X1D’s smaller sensor the ability to achieve differential focus will be a little more limited.

On its own the lens seems very expensive, but taken in the context that it really could replace three or four prime lenses it might begin to sound like a very good deal. In full frame terms the angles of view offered by the zoom are those we’d expect from a 28-60mm, so it encompasses 28mm, 35mm, 50mm and 60mm lenses. Our only quality measure at the moment is just the manufacturer-provided MTF of course. How that and the other characteristics will translate into real life image quality we will have to wait and see.

Forward to go backwards

This clutch of product announcements from Hasselblad creates a very positive air around the company and its future. Even with the original X1D the company seemed in a much more precarious position as the shock at the size of the order book generated so many issues of its own. But the company survived that and has grown, and now seems on a much better footing – production is sorted out, buying can be done in more efficient volumes and Hasselblad is geared up for meeting its new enlarged market with popular products that more people can enjoy. Are the good old days back I wonder? Perhaps not just quite, but things are looking rosy for the future.

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3 Photo Editing Mistakes to Avoid

30 Jun

The post 3 Photo Editing Mistakes to Avoid appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Lily Sawyer.

If you are a photographer who shoots in RAW, then you know that editing is a must!

Editing is a lot of fun. Personally, I enjoy seeing a blah photo turn into a good one by manipulating the details in the image. It’s almost like magic. However, editing doesn’t come without caveats.

In this article, we’ll look at three basic editing mistakes to avoid. They are easy to do, especially when you are new to editing and are overly enthusiastic about transforming your photo into something magical!

When I was a novice, my photos were over-edited (cringe). I looked at other photographers’ work with awe, and I wanted my photos to look like theirs. I got lured into using actions and using them too heavily for that color-pop, scroll-stopping, jaw-dropping impact a photo can have.

It was awful; as I later discovered. It was when I learned how to distinguish between a good photo edited correctly and a photo decimated by actions or over-editing that my images dramatically improved and my confidence as a photographer grew.

Let’s dive in and look at the three basic editing mistakes to avoid. The photos I used in this article are ordinary snaps, taken without the use of any lighting and on a normal bright morning. You don’t have to set up amazing sessions and shots for an excuse to edit your photos. Even the most ordinary of photos could do with a bit of magic.


1. Not shooting in RAW

The first mistake in editing is not shooting in RAW format. Editing and RAW are best friends. Editing a RAW file is the best combination you can use because RAW is a lossless format. That means it retains all the information in the image for you to play around with during the editing process.

RAW is untouched, unprocessed, and unedited. The raw information in pixels is all collated without any interference from the camera. On the other hand, JPEGS (whether that be fine or basic), is a format which allows the camera to process the raw information and compress it by discarding pixels. It does away with some of this raw information before saving the image to your memory card. As a result, you get a smaller image that has already been edited by your camera.

This means the colors and contrasts are already different from the original information. When you edit a JPEG image, you are further fiddling with the remaining information and processing an already processed image. This is not an ideal starting place, as it’s often difficult not to overedit from this point.

For more detailed articles on RAW vs JPEG, read here.


2. Incorrect white balance

This may sound basic to some of you, but many of you might not have heard of the term white balance. When I first had a DSLR, I shot on portrait mode. I didn’t know how to shoot in Manual and didn’t feel I needed to learn it. I relied on the camera modes until I realized I could not achieve the style and type of images I wanted. Until then, I did not know – let alone understand – what White Balance meant.

To put it simply, white balance is making sure white objects appear white. Many lighting factors can affect the whites in your image. These are called color cast. Color casts happen when whites look like different colors depending on the ambient light. A very common color cast occurrence is from incandescent light which, if the white balance is left unadjusted, will render white objects a yellow color, for example.

There is a thing called color temperature measured in Kelvins which offers a range of numerical values to which you adjust your white balance to get your white balance correct. When shooting outdoors in natural sunlight, for example, the color temperature is usually in the 5500K range. You want your camera’s white balance to match that so your white looks white. Conversely, indoors usually has a warmer color temperature. When there are tungsten lights involved, the Kelvins are around 3500K. You need to match this too to ensure your white looks white.

Sure the camera can do this by itself using Auto White Balance, and it does it really well too. The trouble I find is that it still varies quite a lot even though the variations might be minimal. For me, this proves a problem when editing thousands of images, especially when batch editing. My preference to counteract this is to shoot in Kelvin which gives me a pretty constant white balance, though not an absolute science, that I can tweak when editing.

Read more about demystifying white balance here.


3. Over editing

There are a hundred and one ways you can over-edit your images. I will touch on a few favorites, especially because they are the ones that affect the image the most.

a. Heavy vignette

I love vignettes. I apply vignetting to most of my images and love the way it draws the attention to the middle of the image by way of overall contrast: darker around the edges and lighter in the middle. However, it is so easy to be heavy-handed with it so that your image looks like “a moth to a flame” effect: black spherical shape on the outside and a very bright central area. The key word is subtle.

A good trick of knowing how much vignette to add is to slide the bar across both extremes and then you can see the effect of each stage and decide what looks right.


b. Over and under-saturation

Have you heard of the term “pop” in photography?

Photographers love using it! Add a color pop to make the image pop etc. Often, saturation is not the way to achieve this “pop”! I would advise against fiddling with the saturation slider. Only use it if the photo is so undersaturated that a saturation boost is necessary to make the colors get closer to a natural look.

The danger of using the saturation slider is making the colors look ‘neonesque’! A classic ubiquitous example of this is green grass. NO grass looks neon green yet often we see them in photos. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn the saturation slider is the culprit when I come across those images.

It is better to use the vibrance slider if you want to add some life to your color. Here is an article that explains the difference between vibrance and saturation.

Undersaturation is just as bad. This is when you strip the image of color so everything looks deathly pale or rather steely and cold. I have made this mistake before when I was starting out. Avoid it! Better yet, do not even attempt to do it.


c. Extreme contrasts

Contrast is simply the difference between the whites and blacks in the image or, if you like, the light areas and dark areas. Three sliders affect contrast: whites, shadows, and blacks. Move those sliders to see what effect they do to the image.

The best advice I can give is to choose a natural contrast where the blacks are just right, and the whites are not blown or overexposed. Keeping an eye on the histogram helps to ensure you are not clipping blacks and whites and are staying within the proper range of values when it comes to contrast.

So there we are – three easily made editing mistakes. I hope you have learned something from this little article.

Any more valuable tips? Do share in the comments below.


3 photo editing mistakes to avoid

The post 3 Photo Editing Mistakes to Avoid appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Lily Sawyer.

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Is Photography Becoming too Easy?

30 Jun

The post Is Photography Becoming too Easy? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

Is Photography Becoming too Easy

The autofocus on the Sony A9 is amazing! Set it to eye AF, point in direction of the subject and let it do the rest. It’s almost too easy.

Everyone is a Photographer these days. It has never been easier or cheaper to create good quality photographs. People sincerely believe that the camera is what takes these amazing images. I am sure you have heard this as many times as I have; “You take beautiful photos, you must have a great camera.”

With the technology we see now though, I sometimes wonder, do they have a point?

We now have cameras in mobile phones, that not long ago professional photographers, paying thousands for their cameras would have dreamed of being able to use. Look at the ‘shot on iPhone’ campaign, and look at Instagram daily. People can take amazing photographs, with a couple of clicks and minimal effort.

Has modern technology democratized photography, or does it mean photography has become easy?

Technology continues to make things easier. But that didn’t start with digital!

Technology has always pushed to make things simpler. Be that the TV remote control or the digital camera. The digital camera was simply the technology industry’s answer to the market forces. Consumers wanted a camera that could take endless photographs. Businesses, noting this need, used the emerging technology to answer their customer cries. Thus, creating digital cameras and changing the face of photography forever.

Let’s get this out of the way early. There was no comparison between shooting digital and shooting film. After the first generations with their inevitable teething problems and huge price tag,  photography became incredibly easy with digital. Instant feedback told you whether you had the shot or not. You were not limited by 24 or 36 exposures (or less if you shot medium format). Lastly, after the initial outlay, photography became much cheaper as there were simply no processing bills.

Depending on whom you ask, the digital evolution is either the moment someone got into photography or the beginning of the decline. However, let’s think back a little. If you had shot wet plates, imagine how easy those punks using 35mm film had it.

Imagine when autofocus cameras meant you no longer needed the skill of manual focus? Well, that is just ridiculous! Imagine a flash that didn’t need the incredibly dangerous use of flash powder for goodness sakes. The ability to refocus after the photo is in its infancy, but I can see it being a mainstay of every camera in less than ten years.

Technology helps make life better for humans. The most common way to make things better is often making things easier. In the modern world, we adapt quickly and then quickly rely on the new tech we use. It becomes part of our lives and frees up vital brain space. Every photography innovation, from the first camera onwards, has been about making it easier to preserve a moment in time.

Remember when we only had 18 megapixels, or 12, or six! How did we manage with only nine autofocus points rather than focus points over the entire sensor? Focus points that you don’t really need to use because the camera finds the eyes of humans (or animals), locks on, and all you need to do is decide which eye you want in focus.

I mean imagine how photojournalists in the ’80s would react to a modern digital camera? Moving even further back, imagine telling painters in the 1500s that one day there would be a box that captured the image of the person in minute detail and all you needed to do was to allow light into a box?

I remember the first 0.5MP digital camera I ever used. It was like magic. You could see the photograph instantly, and you never needed to pay for the processing. I was hooked instantly. Even though I had a crappy job, I saved hard for a digital point and shoot and began capturing photos again. I occasionally shot on an SLR camera, but could rarely afford to buy film and process it. I even took a night school class to get access to a darkroom and shot everything in black and white.

The Pentax 3-Megapixel camera I had been saving for months to own, changed my world. The quality wasn’t as good. I had no control over the shutter speed or aperture, but I could take photos. Hundreds of them. All the time. It was life-changing. I had moved more into film making, but this digital camera brought me back. I got hooked again. If it were not for that 0.5 Megapixel camera I got to use in my job, I would probably not even be writing this.

Is Photography Becoming too Easy - Lancaster bomber coming inn to land

The right place, the right time, but only a phone and no DSLR. Yet I still get an image like this.

Does gear make you a better Photographer?

We are photographers, and we love to lust over gear. The newest this, the better that. Camera companies spend millions trying to persuade us that we need new gear. Will the latest Sony with the mind-blowing eye autofocus really make your photos better? No. Will it make them easier? Undoubtedly, yes.

But, thanks to another wonderful technological invention – the internet – many of us spend more time talking about megapixels than actually using them.

We are as guilty as the influencers who “don’t even use a real camera” because we are the opposite. Instead, we sit pixel peeping the corner sharpness at four million percent and then badmouth how a manufacturer could release such a piece of crap.

A phone camera can take the most breathtaking image, worthy of an art gallery. Conversely, a multi-megapixel medium format camera with the best lens can take a snapshot.

Is Photography Becoming too Easy 3

50 years ago this photo was shot on a modified film camera. Gear does not matter as much as you think. Image courtesy of NASA.

Digital makes it easy, but so much harder to stand out

Estimates suggest that over one trillion photographs were taken in 2018 (if you want to see the zeros, one trillion is 1,000,000,000,000). Ninety-five million photos get uploaded to Instagram every day. Add to that the three hundred hours of footage uploaded to YouTube every minute and the number of photographs and videos we are producing is simply staggering. Now whilst you cannot deny that digital made this possible, digital has also made it much harder to stand out.

Camera manufacturers are great at making people believe that they are artists – that everyone has an amazing movie. In the same way that everyone has a great novel, song, or painting inside of them begging to get out. In reality, that isn’t the truth. Photography (to me at least) is art. And art is, for better or worst, elitist.

Some people are not great artists and some are not great songwriters. And many people are not great photographers.

The problem is, with so much poor and average stuff out there, how do you get to see the good stuff? In some cases, you don’t. There are photographers out there, who are taking photographs that are simply some of the best ever taken. However, we will never see them. There are filmmakers out there creating short films that should see them breaking down the doors of Hollywood, but they don’t. Instead, our feeds are filled up with yet more cat memes and average photos we have seen thousands of times before.

We are drowning in content.

It is to the point where photography seems to be a popularity contest, rather than about artistry.

Look at how Canon treated Yvette Roman because she didn’t have 50,000 followers or more on YouTube. Let that sink in. A photographer whose style they loved for a job, who they agreed to hire, was replaced simply due to her lack of numbers. That shows you how companies want to hire photographers who can use their social channels to add to the marketing campaign.

We live in the influencer age, where amazing photographers are turned down for jobs due to not having followers. On the flip side of that, someone who only uses their phone for photography can be given thousands for merely showing that they use a particular piece of gear. They travel the world for free simply because they are popular on Instagram.

This system makes perfect sense when looked at from a marketing perspective. However, these platforms are where most of us spend our time and where we discover new content. Therefore, algorithms now control the amount of photography we get exposed to.

An algorithm doesn’t care about quality; it cares about metrics. The aim is to find popular content and put it out there for more people to find. Does this mean that photography is being reduced to likes? In many ways, yes, but it also shows the power of a story.

Is Photography Becoming too Easy 4

My 6-year-old took this photo. Sharp, well exposed and decent color. Not even a DSLR, just a compact.

A camera does not know how to tell a story yet

We live in an age where you can throw your work out for all the world to see. The level of photography has never been higher. I can give my six-year-old a camera, and he can take sharp, well-exposed photos, telling the stories of his lego figures. But a camera, in fact, no technology, can yet create an image that tells a story.

A great photograph always tells a story. It makes us want to know more about the moment. It allows us to create our own story based on what we see in the image and our world view. The story I see in a photograph will be different from yours. In fact, you may hate a photograph I love and vice versa.

This is simply not possible with even the greatest camera. There is no Ai that will pick the perfect moment for you to click the shutter button. Yes, cameras may do 20 frames per second or more, but even then, you cannot continually record every second of the day. You need to find the angle, frame your subject in the way that tells your story and then press the shutter. Really, the technical aspect (no matter how much the camera companies persuade us otherwise) is not where the photograph is made. It is not in the corner sharpness – many great photos are not sharp. It is the story you tell.

The story is what you need to learn. Telling a story is hard. It has always been hard, and technology is nowhere near being able to do it for us.

You make the decisions before you press the shutter. You use the light, the subject, and find the angle. Then you open a box and let in some light for a little bit. It has always been the same. It’s just that technology over the years has made it easier to let the light in the box and get the image sharp if that is important to you.

Is Photography Becoming too Easy - Guitarist playing solo

No matter what the camera, knowing the moment to press the shutter is still a skill that is not computer controlled, yet.

The future

I am sure you all saw it? It finally happened – a couple hired a robot to shoot their wedding! Yes, I know it is just a photo-booth style alternative for now, but it does hint to the future. Are we going to be used to weddings where drones automatically take photographs that are better than a human can capture? Photographs that can then be instantly customized by the bride and groom at the touch of a button (or voice command)? Will this mean that people will become obsolete in many photography fields? Will they only need a device; a robot?

Will my future as a photography business owner involve owning several robots? The ten-year-old version of me prays that this is true.  Alternatively, will people not need to hire anyone? Perhaps photography will be built into their daily devices? Will we become so vain that a device follows us around capturing our daily lives and then picks the best moments via an algorithm to share on social media for us? (Let’s hope not! – Editor)

What do you think? Share your comments with us below.

is photography becoming too easy 6

The post Is Photography Becoming too Easy? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

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Synology launches DS419Slim miniature NAS

30 Jun

Synology has introduced a new network-attached storage device that is designed to take up less space than usual NAS units and which is suitable for photographers away from home. The DS419Slim is a four-bay case that accepts 2.5in drives and which has a maximum capacity of 20TB.

The enclosure measures only 120x105x142mm and weighs 660g empty, so is very portable. It is also very power efficient, drawing only 20 watts when in use and 7 watts in standby. This helps it run cool, and a single fan built-in to the base is claimed to be enough to regulate its temperature.

Compatible with 2.5in HDD and SSD media the DS419Slim has dual Gibabit LAN ports for link aggregation when you need to shift large amounts of data quickly – at up to 220MB/s read speed and 94MB/s for writing. USB-3 ports are located one and the front and one at the back for connecting additional devices, and the NAS can run on Mac, PC and Linux operating systems. The CPU used is the Marvell Armada 385 dual core 1.33GHz and 512MB of DDR3L RAM is installed.

The usual implementation of Synology’s DiskStation Manager runs the device and offers over a hundred specialist apps to help with specific tasks, such as scheduled back-up, photo/video sharing, webhosting and remote access via smartphones and tablets for all files. The DS419Slim is designed for less heavy-use environments as a personal cloud, as a back-up device in a home office, simply as a small storage unit on the desktop or to be taken on location with traveling photographers and videographers.

As there are four bays the hot-swappable drives can be configured in Basic, JBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 6 and RAID 10, as well as Synology’s own Hybrid RAID.
The Synology DS419Slim is available now, comes with a 2-year warranty and retails for $ 329.99 / £320. For more information see the Synology website.

Press release:

Synology® DS419Slim Brings Big Data Management in a Small Package

Mini in Size, Versatile in Features

Synology® Inc. launched DiskStation DS419slim, a highly versatile, 4-bay NAS which is a great data solution for the dorm room, home office, or a traveling professional.

“Nowadays, many people are still struggling with managing files scattered across public clouds, USB drives, or personal computers. As a clever and reliable personal cloud, DS419slim helps keep your precious photos, videos, and documents in order, bringing everything under control with its powerful file management capabilities,” said Katarina Shao, Product Manager at Synology Inc. “Not only can you easily access, share, and synchronize all your files across multiple platforms, but you can also own a multimedia library where you can stream digital content on your mobile devices on the go.”

Key Features Include:

  • Large Capacity, Small Footprint: A discrete NAS, less than 15cm cubed, that weighs 700 grams, with a maximum storage size of 20TB
  • Excellent Performance and Backup: Dual 1GbE LAN ports allow for failover and Link Aggregation. Secure your data by configuring your NAS with a RAID setup to realize redundancy
  • Black Box, Green Energy: DS419slim consumes only 20 watts during data access and 7 watts during HDD hibernation, giving you an energy-efficient device to serve as a 24/7 personal storage server

Your Personal Multimedia Library

DS419slim helps you easily manage your multimedia content and share it across Windows, macOS, and Linux platforms. You can organize your personal digital video library, listen to Internet radio, and lossless audio via DLNA and AirPlay® devices. Synology Moments promises users a modern browsing experience by offering mobile photo backup, photo sharing, image recognition and similar photo detection.

Data Storage on Your Terms with DiskStation Manager

DiskStation Manager (DSM) is an intuitive web-based operating system for every Synology NAS, designed to help you manage your digital assets across home and office. Easily access your files from computers and mobile devices, or sync your files between multiple users, servers and public clouds. You can also stream your personal media collection to various devices to provide you with a non-stop entertainment experience.


This release is available worldwide immediately

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DPReview TV: Jordan buys a phone

29 Jun

It’s time for Jordan to buy a new phone, so he compares the cameras on the iPhone X, iPhone XR, and the Google Pixel 3a with the help of fellow photographer and filmmaker Tyler Stalman. Is the Google phone good enough to draw Jordan out of Apple’s walled garden? Tune in to find out.

For more great content visit Tyler Stalman’s YouTube channel, where you can watch his videos about photography, cinematography and tech, or watch his podcast.

Get new episodes of DPReview TV every week by subscribing to our YouTube channel!

  • Introduction
  • Jordan's options
  • Displays
  • iPhone exposure preview
  • Depth of field simulation
  • iPhone X minimum focus
  • Video test
  • Pixel 3a exposure preview
  • Pixel 3a HDR modes
  • Pixel 3a Nigth Sight
  • Video conclusions
  • Image quality comparisons
  • Buying a phone
  • Wrap-up

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Prime Lens Comparison – 24mm vs 35mm vs 50mm vs 85mm vs 135mm

29 Jun

The post Prime Lens Comparison – 24mm vs 35mm vs 50mm vs 85mm vs 135mm appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

In this video, Julia Trotti does a prime lens comparison with portrait photography.

You’ll learn about focal lengths, background-to-foreground separation and compression, and distortion.

Take a look.


In this video, Julia compares the following lenses using her Canon 5D MkIII:

  • Sigma 24mm f1.4
  • Canon 35mm f1.4
  • Canon 50mm f1.2
  • Canon 85mm f1.2
  • Canon 135mm f2

Julia first tests the lenses shooting full body photos with her model, Maralyn, from the same standing position to show how much background compression each lens shows, as well as the bokeh.

Then she does shots where her model fills more of the frame. To do so, she moves closer and further away to get the model in roughly the same position in the frame but showing what happens to the background in each shot.

The Sigma 24mm has the least background to foreground compression (shows more of the background) when doing full body shots.

The 85mm and the 135mm have great compression, and large background to foreground separation, with no distortion. The 135mm has the most background to foreground separation and compression of all these lenses.

Be sure to watch the video to see the photo examples that detail how the background compression is effected by each lens.


You may also find the following helpful:

How to use Focal Length and Background Compression to Enhance Your Photos

5 Important Focal Lengths to Know and the Benefits of Each

Get Your Creative Juices Flowing with Different Focal Lengths

8 Focal Lengths Illustrated


prime lens comparison

The post Prime Lens Comparison – 24mm vs 35mm vs 50mm vs 85mm vs 135mm appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

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Weekly Photography Challenge – Sport

29 Jun

The post Weekly Photography Challenge – Sport appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

This week’s photography challenge topic is SPORT!

Travis Yewell

Go out and capture sporty photos. It can be the kids playing sport, adult sports, animals playing sports, cycling, motorsports and action shots, or even sports related items. They can be color, black and white, moody or bright. You get the picture! Have fun, and I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

Kolleen Gladden

Thomas Schweighofer


Check out some of the articles below that give you tips on this week’s challenge.

Tips for Shooting SPORT

Top 5 Tips for Extreme Sports Photography

Tips for Doing Better Indoor Sports Photography

How to Photograph Agility Events and Other Dog Sports

Tips from the Sports Photography Pros to Help You Get the Money Shots

3 Tips for Taking Better Motorsport Photos

Tips and Tricks to Help You Take Better Youth Sports Photos

Weekly Photography Challenge – SPORT

Simply upload your shot into the comment field (look for the little camera icon in the Disqus comments section) and they’ll get embedded for us all to see or if you’d prefer, upload them to your favorite photo-sharing site and leave the link to them. Show me your best images in this week’s challenge.

Share in the dPS Facebook Group

You can also share your images in the dPS Facebook group as the challenge is posted there each week as well.

If you tag your photos on Flickr, Instagram, Twitter or other sites – tag them as #DPSsport to help others find them. Linking back to this page might also help others know what you’re doing so that they can share in the fun.

The post Weekly Photography Challenge – Sport appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Caz Nowaczyk.

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Think Tank Photo releases Digital Holster 150, a waist holster for super-tele zooms

28 Jun

Think Tank Photo has released the Digital Holster 150, a top-loading waist holster designed specifically for use with super telephoto zoom lenses.

Think Tank Photo says the holster was built to replace a backpack for times when you’ll only be carrying around one super telephoto zoom lens and an attached camera body. Like Think Tank Photo’s other holsters, the Digital Holster 150 is designed to be used with a belt system, such as the Pro Speed Belt V3.0 or other belt system.

The holster features an integrated seam-sealed rain cover, a front pocket that’s large enough to hold a 150mm lens filter, an internal pocket for memory cards or lens cloths and an attachment point for monopods or other modular components. There’s also an additional divider included so you can pack another smaller lens or accessory if your camera setup doesn’t require all of the internal space.

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Think Tank Photo has provided two example setups that would fit inside the Digital Holster 150:

• Nikon D5 with 200–500mm F5.6 VR II attached
• Canon 7D Mark II with Sigma 150–600mm F5–6.3 Sport attached

The Digital Lens Holster 150 is available to purchase from Think Tank Photo for $ 109.75.

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Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm F4 Macro OIS sample gallery

28 Jun

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The Lumix S 24-105mm F4 Macro OIS is Panasonic’s standard zoom and kit lens for L-mount cameras including the Lumix DC-S1R and Lumix DC-S1. We’ve been using this lens a lot lately, and though it doesn’t carry the ‘Pro’ designation like Panasonic’s other two L-mount lenses, it’s still a solid performer. Let us know if you feel the same in the comments below.

See our Panasonic S 24-105mm F4 gallery

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Why Hiring an Assistant at Weddings Makes you a Better Photographer

28 Jun

The post Why Hiring an Assistant at Weddings Makes you a Better Photographer appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

It’s no mistake that many wedding photographers have assistants and even second shooters at weddings. The reason being is that photographing a wedding longer than 5 hours on your own can be very challenging, especially since there are many important wedding details and moments that need extra coverage.

Hiring an assistant means you have help carrying your gear and keeping distractions at bay so you can photograph the important moments smoothly.

What is an assistant?

A photography assistant is not to be confused with a second shooter. While sometimes used interchangeably, the two terms are actually different, and it’s really important to know the difference.

An assistant is an extra pair of hands available for you during the wedding day.

They may be in charge of carrying the equipment, helping with setting up additional cameras and being available for any need that the photography may have during the wedding day.

Assistants can help gather details during a wedding day and help with styling as well.

Many assistants are aspiring wedding photographers or seasoned wedding photographers. It can vary in the level of experience. This is something that you should look into while interviewing or hiring an assistant.

Assistants can also help with styling certain shots like the wedding rings, or help to gather flowers. They can also help with posing families during that portion of the wedding day.

Assistants also offer a second point of view. They offer ideas to get better shots or additional photos that perhaps you had not thought of previously. They are also helpful when you need an opinion and also someone to talk to as weddings can run up to 12 hours or more depending on how much you are covering.

What is a second shooter?

A second shooter is a second photographer. Usually, the second photographer is solely responsible for taking photos of the event alongside you, the main photographer.

A second photographer can get those in-between candid moments that happen when the main photographer is busy photographing something else.

The second shooter helps to get a different angle of the same setup. Or perhaps they can be trusted to photograph a portion of the day alone while you cover another. For example, if you’re photographing the bride and her bridesmaids, the second photographer may cover the groom and his groomsmen.

Also, if you’re photographing the bride and groom together, the second photographer can shoot from a completely different angle. This gives the final images more variety of the same moments throughout the wedding day.

Having a second photographer can get images from a different angle.

Sometimes the assistant can also be a second photographer during certain parts of the day but perhaps not the whole day. For example, you can hire a second photographer and an assistant so that the two jobs don’t overlap during the day. That way, you have both a second pair of photos taken while having someone help carry your equipment and to help you set up.

Be clear about expectations

This brings me to this very important point; be clear about expectations when you’re looking to hire an assistant. Make sure that you outline what their responsibilities are.

An assistant can help carry gear when the terrain is less than ideal for your gear to be in. Like a sandy beach near the ocean.

Perhaps you’re only looking for an assistant? In that case, be sure to outline that their responsibilities will not include photographing the event at all. They will only be there to help with setting up, carrying equipment, and helping the main photographer during the event.

If you’re looking for a combination of the two, outline that from the beginning. Make sure to advise them to bring useful equipment if you will have them use their own. Also, specify which parts of the event they will be covering. Perhaps you need them to be an assistant during most of the day but will need them to be a second photographer during the ceremony only.

Why Hiring an Assistant at Weddings Makes you a Better Photographer 5

Be clear about what your assistant should help you with. For example, posing the family or helping to fluff out the wedding dress.

Also, be aware that it is very difficult to be a second photographer and an assistant simultaneously. You will need to be very clear about what you need from the person helping you at the event.

Be a team player

All photographers work and handle their businesses differently. However, when you are photographing a wedding, it’s best to make it clear that you and your assistant are a team. You are both there to work at the wedding together.

This creates an openness for the assistant to help with styling, and to offer their opinion or aesthetic input. This can be really helpful during the wedding day. Working together rather than bossing or ordering the assistant around can be really helpful since the assistant will feel included and part of a team.

Keep in mind the level of experience the assistant may have, which can also help you immensely during the event. Most seasoned wedding photographers have, at some point, been second photographers or assistants themselves. They are eager and accommodating on wedding days. If they are seasoned pros and are helping you out, consider their input.

Why Hiring an Assistant at Weddings Makes you a Better Photographer 4

When you are hiring someone who is just getting started, it’s important to talk with them before starting the photography. State your expectations, where gear is in your bag, how you approach the wedding day, and what you’ll need from them.

Some assistants are barely getting their feet wet and may need extra coaching. If this is the case, approach them with the mindset of being a team. They will work harder for you and be more willing to anticipate your needs.

Assistant contract

It is very important to have a contract drafted for the assistant position. Too often does it happen when images get published, used, sold, or otherwise from assistants who weren’t the main photographer.

Why Hiring an Assistant at Weddings Makes you a Better Photographer 3

A contract can outline image delivery expectations if they helped photograph a portion of the event, and what their pay is to be.

The contract can help you set boundaries, and outline their responsibilities, as well as set the pay for the event. Don’t skip on this tip! All too often we hear horror stories of assistants that never returned the equipment, didn’t deliver images and got paid what was due!

Why Hiring an Assistant at Weddings Makes you a Better Photographer 2

Having a contract is good to have for all parties involved.


Even though you can hire someone who is just getting started in the wedding photography business, this doesn’t mean that you can pay them less than you would expect to be paid if you were assisting.

They give you a pair of extra hands and help you for hours carrying most of your equipment, so pay them accordingly. Some more seasoned wedding photographers may have a going rate. However, it’s good to research your area for the going rate, either hourly or a set rate for the entire event.

Take into consideration the following:

  • The amount of time they will be hired to assist
  • Will they also be using their photography skills to photograph certain parts of the event?
  • Will they be using their own equipment or your own? If they are using their own equipment, then factor that into the payment.
  • How much will they be carrying in equipment?
  • Milage, gas, or extra costs

If the assistant will be there with you during the dinner portion of the event, make sure you let the bride and groom know. That way, they will know you have an assistant also eating at the wedding, even if it’s a vendor meal. If they aren’t going to stay for dinner, make sure you state what meals you’ll be covering or if you will be paying for their meal at all.

An assistant can help make a first look go smoothly by helping with positioning the bride and making sure to be available to switch lenses, cards, batteries, etc.

It’s also really important to state how the assistant will be getting paid. Will they be paid by bank transfer, deposit, invoicing, or any other method? That way they know when and how they will be getting paid for assisting at the event.

Having an assistant makes you a better photographer

The reason to have an assistant at a wedding is that it ultimately makes you a better photographer. It frees you up from carrying your equipment so that you can focus on taking important photos rather than checking to see if your camera bag is within reach.

Assistants can help with lighting, adjusting extra cameras, or even helping style the bride’s veil during the portraits. Having an extra pair of hands makes it easier for you to focus on getting the shot without having to do it all on your own.

Also, having someone there to help with making sure that the wedding photography goes smoothly and quickly will help you to focus on what really matters – getting the shot.

Moreover, having someone to talk to during the long wedding day can help you stay focused and in the present moment.

In Conclusion

Hiring an assistant during a wedding event can help you be free to really focus on photographing each and every special moment of a wedding day.

They can help by carrying your equipment, be a teammate and help with lighting or offer ideas. An assistant can be an extra pair of hands and eyes during the day too.

Have you hired an assistant before? If so, what additional tips would you include?


Why Hiring an Assistant at Weddings Makes you a Better Photographer

The post Why Hiring an Assistant at Weddings Makes you a Better Photographer appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Jackie Lamas.

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