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Updated: 12 min 37 sec ago

Behind the shot: Praia da Adraga at blue hour

Sat, 07/16/2016 - 8:00am

If you recognize Nicolas Alexander Otto's name, it may be because we featured some of his work a while ago. The Germany-based landscape shooter has graciously agreed to share the story behind one of his images, titled 'The Living Infinite', a shot he captured on a trip to Portugal's Praia da Adraga beach. He walks us through everything that went into making the image – from planning the trip to his post-processing technique. 

By Nicolas Alexander Otto

To explain my process, I should start with a little bit of background information. When I have a timeframe set and know that I will be on the road during that period I dive into the planning phase first, trying to make the most of the time I have available. I then try to organize my shooting itinerary accordingly, checking for all the different options available for good light: sunrise and sundown times, same goes for the moon, the tidal schedule and the position of the milky way.

In this particular case I knew I was going to be at the ocean and the moon would set in the western skies during blue hour for three successive days. Hence, I knew I had to be at the Portuguese coastline by then, originally starting from Germany and driving all the way through France and Spain to get there.

My main focus on the trip was a beach called Praia da Adraga, located near Sintra. I planned to get my shot in the early morning hours, knowing the blue hour would provide me with the gentle light necessary and the moon would add that little something to the sky, keeping it from falling flat, although much would depend on cloud coverage.

Knowing my goal I looked up the tidal schedule next and noticed that the waves should be splashing around the famous sea stacks on the beach right around the time the moon would enter my frame. It's important to note that I had been at that location two times prior to planning this, but tools like Google Earth and the Photographer's Ephemeris make pre-visualizing shots fairly manageable without prior visits – I highly recommend using them. I checked the weather upon arrival and had to sit out a night of drizzle, already fearing I might not get the shot I had imagined. Luckily, it stopped once I woke up and grabbed my gear.

On Location

The evening before I had already scouted the location and taken some test shots looking for the right composition so I knew I didn't need much time, just a short break in between showers to reel in my desired shots.

During my third trip to the beach I noticed huge differences compared to my previous visit. A fellow photographer whom I met while walking towards the sea stacks told me that severe winter storms had altered the appearance of the beach, washing away quite a bit of sand rendering the sea stacks much higher than I remembered them, and revealing more rocks in the foreground as well. However, when I looked at where the moon would enter the frame on Photographers Ephemeris I saw that almost none of them would be in my composition.

I knew I had to battle against the rising tide and might face issues with camera shake, especially with my 36MP Nikon D800, so I utilized my heaviest tripod: a 3.4kg Slik 780 DX Pro. If burrowed in the sand a little, it's almost completely resistant against the incoming surge as long as it's not much more than knee high.

Composition-wise I went for a classic, dynamic two thirds setup with the waves' receding flow drawing the viewer's gaze into the image, right past the sea stacks out onto the ocean and the moon looming overhead in the left third of the frame. I tried to leave at least a little bit of separation between the rocks as their dark surfaces can be heavy and distracting if clumped up, drawing too much of the viewer's attention to a single area.

It took me some time to get an incoming wave to create those leading lines I had imagined. Sadly, the image ended up being a bit too dark, so I would need to brighten the exposure a little in post processing and work on the contrast. To blame was the fact that dawn had already kicked in and I had to readjust my camera settings each minute, and at that moment I tried adding a ND filter. When an especially promising wave came in, rather than adjusting my settings, I pressed the remote shutter and got exactly the wave patterns I was imagining. No other subsequent exposure came even close to it, unfortunately, thus I had to choose this one despite its technical shortcomings.

It can be quite difficult to capture waves because the shutter speed has to match the their force to shape beautiful streaks of spume, without them stopping or clumping up at a rock, breaking the rhythm of the lines. Oftentimes a shorter exposure doesn't create any dynamic addition to the image and a longer one would render most of the wave motion invisible.

Here are the settings used for my shot:

Camera: Nikon D800
Lens: Nikkor AF-S 18-35mm F3.5-4.5 G ED
Focal length: 18mm Shutter speed: 3,5 sec
Aperture: F5.0
ISO: 100
Filter: Haida ND64


Exposure adjustments made to brighten the image.

I knew I needed to brighten the image overall, however I did not not want to alter the colors in any way to preserve the natural hues that the magical blur hour light supplied. Also, I knew I had to make local adjustments to the micro contrast, which is why I did not use clarity just yet because I wanted to keep the clouds nice and smooth.

At this point some adjustments to sharpening are made, along with correction for vignetting but none for distortion.

I rarely ever sharpen my whole image which is why I used a mid-range mask here to cover only the stronger contrasted edges of the rocks and sky. Even though I do use lens corrections I almost always dial down the distortion; on the one hand because the Nikon 18-35mm G ED has almost no distortion to begin with and on the other because a little distortion, in my opinion, adds to the dynamism of the image, especially in landscape photography. And for the most part I keep the standard noise reductions settings as is.

Next I imported the image into Photoshop and here you already can see all the different adjustments I made to the image on the right (first switched off so you can see the difference). Before I start working on anything else, I usually get rid of dust spots - thus the base layer is renamed to "clean", indicating I've already cleaned up the image.

As a second step I used Nik Color Efex Pro 4 here for some more global adjustments, and afterwards I used luminosity masks to target specific tonalities of the image, adding more contrast selectively to the sand and sky. Due to the very even overall exposure (not taking into account the rocks), most of the masks are not altered after the tonality selection.

In Color Efex Pro 4 I first used the Pro Contrast and Detail Extractor with these settings:

At this point I wanted to add a bit more contrast to the sky and the foreground without darkening the rocks to prevent having to brighten them up again later in the processing, since that is never a good idea to begin with. The rest of the image benefited from a little more punch overall, though. I also balanced out a little bit of the cyan toning with the 'Correct Color Cast' setting, because at this stage I felt like it might be deviating a bit too much from what the scene looked like in my recollection.

The detail extractor is an incredibly powerful filter, which is why I seldom use it at more than 5%. I would also recommend painting the effect in rather than using control points for masking in more complex situations. But in this case, the selections that the program generated suited my needs and I went with it. I tried to prevent the detail extractor from brightening the waves and sky, as it tends to brighten darker parts of the image recovering information in the dark tones. Furthermore, longer exposed skies and waves looking too crisp, for me at least, often kind of defeat the purpose of taking long exposures in the first place. However, the dark rocks were already brightened up a little bit which was a desirable result in this case.

After these adjustments the image already had more punch, but still lacked some differentiation in the narrow tonalities of the sand and the incoming surf – something common with blue hour shots. Additionally, I wanted the sky to be just a bit more dramatic. For this I added different curves layers with various luminosity masks generated with Tony Kuypers famous TK Panel.

First, with a 'Lights 3' and a 'Lights 1' mask, I emphasized the waves in between the rocks, both grouped together and masked with a gradient in order not to affect the sky (you can see the gradient masks in the first screenshot).

The same procedure was then used to get more detail out of the immediate foreground waves by using a 'Midtones 3', and again for the rocks, and foreground using a 'Darks 2' mask (this was actually applied later in the workflow and is called 'contr5' in the image above).

Next I wanted to introduce a bit more drama to the sky, so I used a 'Midtones 3' mask in order to select a wide tonal range in the sky, and darkened them only a small amount to make the undersides of the clouds stand out more.

In the end I darkened the rocks a little – just a tiny amount because I love images with prevalent darker tones – using a 'Darks 3' mask (this would've also simply been achieved by painting out the detail extractor added earlier).

As a last step I added a minor dodge and burn alteration to call attention to the small water splashes on the right sea stack: a very subtle, almost unnoticeable effect.

My final actions, as per usual, included resizing and converting into RGB color space. Usually I choose 900px for the web, but in this case I chose 1200px for this DPR article, so you can see more of the details.

I hope you enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look at my process!

Categories: Equipment

Samyang teases 'summer blockbuster' lens announcements

Fri, 07/15/2016 - 3:07pm

Korean lens manufacturer Samyang has announced that it intends to enjoy a summer of new lenses in what it is calling a ‘Samyang Blockbuster’, starting on Monday 18th July and running until 15th August.

The ‘5 NEW Samyang Lenses will be released on every Monday for the next five weeks’ promotion was placed on the company Facebook page with no clues about what those lenses will be. There is some ambiguity, too, around whether Samyang intends to release five lenses a week for five weeks - making 25 in total - or (probably more likely given the accompanying graphic, above) one lens per week, for five weeks. 

Samyang makes lenses for still and movie photographers, with a relatively new ‘Xeen’ range of dedicated large-scale cine lenses. Autofocus is also quite new for Samyang lenses, with only one lens (AF 50/1.4 FE) available and one more in the pipeline (AF 14/2.8 FE) – both of which are designed for the Sony fully frame FE mount.

For more information see the Samyang website, and the promotion on the company’s Facebook page.

Categories: Equipment

Apple planning to open imaging research lab in France

Fri, 07/15/2016 - 2:42pm

It seems Apple is determined to stay at the forefront of smartphone imaging. According to French newspaper Dauphiné Libéré, the iPhone-maker is planning to open a dedicated imaging research laboratory in Grenoble, France. The focus of the new facility will be on image sensors and technology for iOS devices. 

The reports say that an Apple team has been working on imaging at the Minatec European research center in Grenoble for over a year, but now the company wants to establish its own lab and has recently signed a lease for a building that offers 800 square meters of floor space. This will provide space for a team of approximately 30 engineers and the equipment needed for sensor development.

The Dauphiné Libéré article also says that work on iPhone and iPad sensors will be undertaken in collaboration with STMicroelectronics, which previously has been an Apple supplier. It's good to see smartphone manufacturers investing in imaging, and we may find that the upcoming iPhone 7 generation will come with some technology that has been, at least partially, developed in France.

Categories: Equipment

DPReview is partnering with USA Landscape Photographer of the Year 2016

Fri, 07/15/2016 - 2:11pm
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USA Landscape Photographer of the Year was founded in 2013 by Charlie Waite, one of the world's most respected landscape photographers, and this year, the competition is bigger than ever. With a top prize of $15,000, the contest spans five main categories, 'Environmental Value', 'My USA', 'Black & White', 'Classic View', and 'Urban'. 

In addition to these five categories, DPReview is partnering with the competition to create a new award - 'Life in the Landscape', which will be judged by DPReview's editors and writers. An additional special award, 'Wild Landscape' is sponsored by Future Publishing.

The competition is divided into two main classes -  the USA Landscape Photographer of the Year Award and the Young USA Landscape Photographer of the Year Award. To enter Young USA Landscape Photographer of the Year, you must be 18 or under on the closing date of September 15, 2016. There are 7 categories within each of the two classes and up to 20 images may be entered across some or all of these categories, and photographers can enter the same image in more than one category and / or special award.

To enter a single image costs $10, while $30 allows you to enter up to 5 images, and $45 allows you to enter up to 20 images. Entrants for the Young USA Photographer of the Year Award pay a flat fee of $10 for up to 20 images.

For more information about the USA Landscape Photographer of the Year Award, visit www.usapoty.com.

Categories: Equipment

Sony 35mm FE lens firmware update improves manual focus reliability

Fri, 07/15/2016 - 11:45am

Sony has issued firmware updates for its 35mm full-frame primes which claim to improve focus point reliability when using manual focus for long periods of time. The new firmware is offered for the FE 35mm F1.4 ZA and FE 35mm F2.8 ZA Zeiss-branded lenses.

Categories: Equipment

Magnum and LensCulture announce inaugural Photography Award winners

Fri, 07/15/2016 - 8:00am

Magnum and LensCulture Photography Awards 2016 winners

Harrodsburg © Dougie Wallace / Institute. Street Series Winner, Magnum and LensCulture Photography Awards 2016.

The winners of Magnum's first photography competition have been announced, honoring a total of 44 photographers from around the globe. Twelve photographers took top honors for series and single image entries in Street, Portrait, Photojournalism, Fine Art, Documentary and Open categories. The competition was open to anyone over 18, and submissions came in from 127 different countries. See above for a look at some of the winning entries and visit LensCulture for more.

Magnum and LensCulture Photography Awards 2016 winners

Six Degrees of Copenhagen © Jens Juul. Portrait Series Winner, Magnum and LensCulture Photography Awards 2016.

Magnum and LensCulture Photography Awards 2016 winners

Kajol with a customer. She thinks she is 17 years but does not know her exact age. She was married at 9 years old. Her aunt sold her to the Kandapara brothel. © Sandra Hoyn, Photojournalism Series Winner, Magnum Photography Awards 2016.

Magnum and LensCulture Photography Awards 2016 winners

C.E.N.S.U.R.A. © Julián Barón, Open Series Winner, Magnum and LensCulture Photography Awards 2016.

Magnum and LensCulture Photography Awards 2016 winners

Dad & Josephine © Aaron Hardin. Fine Art Series Winner, Magnum and LensCulture Photography Awards 2016.

Magnum and LensCulture Photography Awards 2016 winners

Horgos, Serbia, August 30, 2015. At dusk, Roujin Sheikho, on the left, carries her daughter Widad followed by her son Nabih, on the right. This group walks among other refugees from Syria, who are allowed to cross the barbed wire in the dark into Hungary, on their long road to Sweden. © Mauricio Lima. Documentary Series Winner, Magnum and LensCulture Photography Awards 2016.

Magnum and LensCulture Photography Awards 2016 winners

Passover preparations, Mea Shearim. Passover is a holiday in which the Jewish people commemorate their liberation, by God, from slavery in Egypt as well as their freedom as a nation under the leadership of Moses. Passover preparations are very chaotic. There are large centers, scattered in different locations across the neighborhood, where each group of residents burn their old bread to make room for something new. This type of bread is made especially for Passover and is named "Matza."

I took a large amount of pictures that day and I was exhausted from the weather and heat from the bonfires. The picture presented here is the last picture I took that day, after climbing a small hill to get my shot. © Ofir Barak. Street Single Image Winner, Magnum and LensCulture Photography Awards 2016

Magnum and LensCulture Photography Awards 2016 winners

This photo was shot in a dying coal-mining town, St Charles, which is situated in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains behind the fog. © Hannah Modigh. Portrait Single Image Winner, Magnum and LensCulture Photography Awards 2016.

Magnum and LensCulture Photography Awards 2016 winners

Civilians escape from a fire at a house destroyed by an air attack in Donbass, a village in Luhanskaya, eastern Ukraine, on July 2, 2014. © Valery Melnikov. Photojournalism Single Image Winner, Magnum and LensCulture Photography Awards 2016.

Magnum and LensCulture Photography Awards 2016 winners

Ahmad, a young man in his early twenties, is a member of ISIS (The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria). In February 2015, Kurdish YPG militia arrested him after he was seen and revealed in their territory in the northeastern part of Syria. © Asger Ladefoged. Open Single Image Winner, Magnum and LensCulture Photography Awards 2016.

Magnum and LensCulture Photography Awards 2016 winners

Palm Wine Collector, Kunene Region, Namibia. 2015. © Kyle Weeks. Fine Art Single Image Winner, Magnum and LensCulture Photography Awards 2016.

Magnum and LensCulture Photography Awards 2016 winners

Israeli soldiers shoot tear gas during a demonstration against Israel's controversial separation barrier in the West Bank village of Nilin. © Cris Toala Olivares. Documentary Single Image Winner, Magnum and LensCulture Photography Awards 2016

Categories: Equipment

Globell launches Kickstarter campaign for new screen calibration device

Thu, 07/14/2016 - 6:39pm

Globell, a software distributor and the company behind Meyer-Optik Gorlitz lenses, has announced it plans to introduce a new screen calibration device if it gets enough support from the Kickstarter campaign it has just begun. The company claims its proposed globellColorMeter can calibrate almost any computer monitor in three steps that take less than five minutes, and that the device will remain accurate for years.

The meter uses a lens developed with Meyer-Optik and a glass cover that won’t dis-color, according to Globell. Designed and built in Germany, the company says its device offers an alternative to calibration systems that are ‘technically ambitious but complicated and expensive to use‘ or ‘easy to use and affordable, but unable to function at a sufficiently high standard‘. Globell describes the globellColor, which comes with software for PC and Mac, as ‘affordable‘ and ‘the most precise, easy-to-use product in its price range‘.

The company expects the product to retail at $250, but is offering early-bird deals from $99. For more information see the Kickstarter page.

Press release:

globellColor: Color management on Kickstarter

Color management made in Germany: leading color management company Globell is launching a Kickstarter project for its new globellColor product range at www.globell.com/kickstarter.

Tegelen, July 2016 – Natural colors on all monitors and in printed photos: the globellColor product range makes color management simpler, better and faster. In order to get the word out to an international audience, Globell has started a worldwide Kickstarter campaign at www.globell.com/kickstarter.

This Globell solution is 100% made in Germany and delivers accurate calibration for all major monitor types and other display devices for both Mac and Windows. This benefits private users, photographers, design agencies and gamers.

True colors on all display devices
globellColor is affordable for everyone, easy to use and delivers professional quality calibration. To ensure this, the company developed its own colorimeter based on the latest technology and drew on expert knowledge and the optical expertise of lens specialists Meyer-Optik-Görlitz. The durable glass filter of the globellColorMeter will always provide accurate and consistently correct calibration and profiling - even after several years of use. The solution also includes powerful and user-friendly software for both Windows and Mac.

"We combine modern sensor technology and durability with sophisticated software to create an ideal tool for any professional or amateur photographer," explains Thomas Kuligowski, globellColor Product Manager. "As a long-standing innovation partner for digital image processing, we are pleased to launch globellColor, a complete color management solution that is made in Germany. On completion of the successful Kickstarter project, we will expand the globellColor product range further to include more products.”

The Kickstarter campaign launches today (July 13, 2016) and ends on August 14, 2016. Supporters have the unique opportunity to acquire the innovative globellColor technology at an exceptionally low price starting at $99, with the RRP expected to be $249. After the products are delivered to campaign supporters this fall, they will be launched on the market.

globellColor features
- Fast and accurate calibration and profiling
- Easy to use: no experience required
- Can be used immediately: predefined calibration settings
- Also for professionals: customizable calibration settings
- Ability to examine results: before/after comparison
- Can be used with almost all monitor technologies
- Measure multiple monitors in a workplace
- High-quality glass lenses powered by Meyer-Optik-Görlitz
- Non-ageing glass filter
- View of the representable color space as a 3D model
- Many hardware-calibratable monitors supported
- Software also supports some third-party sensors
- Compatible with Windows and Mac

Technical requirements
Minimum RAM: 512MB, min. 150MB of free hard disk space, Windows (32-bit and 64-bit): XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8.X, Win 10, Pentium or AMD K7; Mac OS: Mac 10.6, 10.7, 10.8, 10.9, 10.10, 10.11, Intel Hardware, Mac processors: Intel only. PowerPC not supported, USB connection

Categories: Equipment

Zenmuse Z3 is DJI's first aerial zoom camera

Thu, 07/14/2016 - 1:31pm

Drone maker DJI has today announced its first aerial zoom camera, the Zenmuse Z3. The new model is optimized for still photography and combines a 3.5x optical zoom with 2x digital magnification, resulting in a 7x overall zoom factor, covering equivalent focal ranges from 22-77mm. Aperture ranges from F2.8 at wide angle to F5.2 at the long end of the zoom. Inside the 262-gram camera body images are captured on a 12MP 1/2.3-inch Sony sensor that can also record 4K video at 30fps and save DNG Raw files. 

 Drone shot at 22mm equivalent focal length
 Done shot at 77mm equivalent focal length (7x zoom)

The camera can be used on the DJI's Inspire 1, Matrice 100 or Matrice 600 drones and the company's dedicated HD video downlink allows for transmission from a distance of up to 3.1 miles (5km) away. The zoom is operated via the DJI GO app or the Drone remote control. DJI says it has refined and improved image stabilization, as any camera movement is magnified at the longer end of the zoom lens.  The Z3 also comes with an upgraded gimbal. The camera will be available from July 28th and retail for $899.

SHENZHEN, July 14, 2016 - DJI, the world’s leading aerial-imaging company, on Thursday announced the Zenmuse Z3, DJI’s first integrated aerial zoom camera optimized for still photography.

The Zenmuse Z3 will offer up to a 7x zoom. The camera incorporates DJI’s leading gimbal technology, which has been upgraded to work optimally with its zoom capabilities.

“The Zenmuse Z3 pushes the possibilities of use for industrial applications,” said Senior Product Manager Paul Pan. “Before this camera, the only way to zoom in on a subject or object was to fly closer to it. Now, pilots in a search-and-rescue situation, or conducting surveys or inspections, can maintain distance and still zoom in for sharp, detailed images.”

The zoom camera is aimed at providing new capabilities for industrial applications, such as inspection and surveying.

The Zenmuse Z3 is compatible with the Inspire 1, Matrice 100 and Matrice 600 drones and uses the company’s dedicated HD video downlink, Lightbridge and Lightbridge 2, providing up to 3.1 miles (5.0 kilometers) of HD transmission range.

The Zenmuse Z3 is fully integrated into the DJI GO app and provides a seamless user experience, including a live feed from the camera and the ability to change camera settings, swipe to zoom in and out, capture photos or video and to activate intelligent flight modes. Users may also choose to employ camera controls, such as capturing photos and video and zoom, through their drone’s remote controller.

The Zenmuse Z3 weighs 262-gram and achives up to a 7x zoom via a 3.5x optical zoom, combined with a 2x digital zoom. This gives the Zenmuse Z3 an effective zoom range of 22 millimeters to 77 millimeters. It has a maximum aperture of F2.8 and F5.2 at 22 millimeters and 77 millimeters, respectively.

When the camera zooms in, the smallest movements are magnified. Adding an additional layer of fine-tuning to the yaw control of the Z3 is a custom-designed reaction wheel. This works in tandem with the normal yaw motor to allow for more refined and controlled movement and greater stability.

The Zenmuse Z3 features the same highly refined Sony 1/2.3-inch sensor that is found on the Inspire 1 and the Phantom 4, leading the class in image quality. It can shoot still images at 12 megapixels with additional Adobe DNG Raw Support for maximum editing options in post-production. The camera also shoots video at up to 30 FPS in 4k resolution.

Flight time with the Zenmuse Z3 is up to 19 minutes on the Inspire 1. Pilots can extend flight time up to 30 minutes with the dual-battery-equipped M100 and up to 39 minutes with the M600.

The Zenmuse Z3 is priced at USD899 and will start shipping after July 28, 2016.

For more details please visit:

Categories: Equipment

'Our goal is to satisfy everyone': an interview with Fujifilm execs

Thu, 07/14/2016 - 12:50pm

Following the launch of the Fujifilm X-T2 last week, we sat down with senior executives from Fujifilm.

  • Yuji Igarashi, general manager of Fujifilm's Electronic Imaging Division.
  • Takashi Ueno, manager of Fujifilm's Electronic Imaging Group Sales and Marketing and Optical Device and Electronic Imaging Products Divisions.
  • Ryouichi Takamoto, Optical Device & Electronic Imaging Products Division, Sales and Marketing Staff.

We talked about the X-T2, Fujifilm's plans for lenses, and why the company is putting a lot of energy into video. 

The following interview is taken from on-record portions of our conversation, and has been edited slightly for flow and clarity. 

Fujifilm now has two flagship product lines - the X-Pro and the X-T. How do you see these two lines as being distinct?

We think that the character of the two cameras is completely different. The X-Pro series are special cameras for snapshooting, reportage and so on. But the X-T2 is a multipurpose camera, so we’re trying to sell the X-T2 to DSLR users, compact camera users - all photo enthusiasts and professional photographers. That’s the target with the X-T2.

The X-Pro 2 doesn’t have a 4K movie function, because we see the X-Pro 2 as being a stills camera. But the X-T2 needed 4K movie.

The X-T2 is compatible with a new 'Vertical Power Booster Grip' which can accomodate two batteries, making a maximum of three in total. This takes the X-T2's endurance to a CIPA-rated total of 1000 shots.  

Apart from the 4K movie function, what other features differentiate the X-T2?

Durability. And that doesn’t just mean toughness, but also battery consumption. That’s why we made the Power Booster grip for the X-T2. And autofocus performance. We want the X-T2 to be able to capture all subjects. The X-Pro 2 doesn’t need such fast AF, because for snap-shooting and portrait shooting it’s not necessary. But our target users for the X-T series include sports photographers.

If you look at the body shape and balance, we have the booster grip for the X-T2 which works well if you’re using telephoto lenses, whereas with the X-Pro 2 it’s designed to be more discrete, and for use with prime lenses. The body style itself is different.

Some of our readers have expressed disappointment that the X-T2 costs more than the X-T1. Why is this?

It’s a combination of two factors. One is the exchange rate, of course [editor's note: the value of the yen relative to the dollar fluctuated significantly from 2014-16] and the other is the features included in the camera. We’ve added 4K video, a new 24MP sensor, a new shutter and so on. These factors have resulted in an increase in price.

In the X-T2, is the autofocus system different to the X-Pro 2?

Yes, the algorithm is completely different. But we’re planning to add this [improvement] to the X-Pro 2 in FW 2.0, in October. But the AF-C custom functions will only be available in the X-T2.


 The X-T2 offers several Canon-style AF 'sets', which allow the camera's continuous autofocus performance to be tweaked depending on the subject. Although the X-Pro 2's autofocus will be updated with firmware this autumn, these AF sets will remain unique to the X-T2.


Why did you choose to include 4K video in the X-T2?

The movie function is one of the most important functions of digital cameras. Many of our competitors had offered 4K, but we didn’t. Fujifilm is a popular company in the broadcast industry, because we’ve developed so many lenses for broadcast cameras. So we are familiar with the industry, we just been able to utilize that knowledge [until now].

Video has long been a weak area in the X-series…

Yes. Our X-Trans color filter array is more complicated than that of bayer array, but we have developed a new, very powerful processor - the X Processor Pro. This can read data faster than the processor in previous X-series cameras, which means we could add 4K movie recording to the X-T2. But we don’t think that the X-Pro 2 necessarily needs 4K.

Could 4K movie recording be added to the X-Pro 2 with firmware?

No. Because of hardware issues. We’d need to add a heatsink, which the X-Pro 2 doesn’t have because we wanted to maintain its body size.

Does that explain the slight weight increase from the X-T1 to the X-T2?


In adding 4K video to the X-T2, were you responding to existing X-series users’ demands, or to market expectations?

People are taking more movies now. In the past, maybe it was OK for us to release video that was not great, but now, the movie specification is one of the most important reasons why someone might buy a camera. Even if someone takes primarily stills. So the importance of video has grown and grown and we’re trying to make improvements. Hopefully video will be one of our strengths in the future. Every day our X-series photographers are asking us to improve movie quality.

Despite having an articulating rear LCD screen, the X-T2 is limited to physical dial and button-based controls. It seems that touch-sensitivity is still some way off, in high-end X-series cameras.  

Why did you decide not to include a touchscreen on the X-T2?

One reason is that a key feature of the X-series is dial operation. And dial operation and touch operation are completely different, so combining them could be confusing. The typical way of shooting with X-series cameras is with your eye to the viewfinder, and to use a touchscreen you’d have to take your eye away from the finder.

Our priority for the X-T2 for now is to focus on the viewfinder. We’d like the user to use the finder primarily, with dial operation. But the X70 for example we introduced a touch sensitive screen, because that camera doesn’t have a viewfinder.

Will future X-series cameras continue to look much the same, or will you experiment with ergonomic changes?

Dial operation is part of our identity. This concept and style of operation will be maintained in order to distinguish our cameras from competitors. We also think that this design is the most intuitive for general photography.

A lot of our readers continue to be a little disappointed by the AF speed of some of the X-mount lenses. Is this something you’re working on improving?

Lenses like the 35mm F1.4 and 60mm F1.4 use DC coil motors, and the focusing elements are very heavy. For example the weight of the focusing group in the XF 35mm F1.4 is more than 100g. It’s almost unbelievable compared to most current autofocus lenses. On the other hand, in the XF 18-55mm zoom lens, the weight of the focusing group is only around ten grams.

Because of the weight of these groups in this fast prime lenses, we cannot make them focus faster. But that’s why we’re making new F2 lenses. Our 35mm F1.4 is designed for the best image quality, whereas our 35mm F2 - while we also care about image quality - is designed for fast autofocus and lighter overall weight.

Most autofocus lenses have only one focusing element, but our 35mm F1.4 for example, all of the elements in that lens move [to achieve focus].

Still on the topic of lenses, where do you see the biggest gaps in your XF lens lineup, right now?

Long focal length prime lenses, fisheye lenses, and tilt/shift lenses. Of course, the demand for these lenses is very small, and we have to prioritise. Currently we are prioritizing lenses like the 35mm F2, 23mm F2 and 50mm F2.

 Hasselblad's X1D is a relatively compact medium-format camera. Exactly the same kind of camera, in other words, that Fujifilm used to be known for, back when a roll of Velvia was the memory card of choice for enthusiast photographers.  

Hasselblad just released the X1D - a relatively compact medium format camera. Do you think there is an opportunity for Fujfilm in this market in the future?

We’re keeping our eye on that market, and the full-frame market too, but we’re still focusing on our APS-C range.

Are you interested in attacking the full-frame market in the future?

We’re attacking this market with our X-series. And with X-Trans III, we think that when people actually see what our cameras can deliver, we think there’s a good chance that photographers will use our X-series in the future.

The question of sensor size depends on what the user wants, as an output. If you’re using a medium format camera and you definitely need that for the work you’re doing, maybe APS-C is too small. But for general use, I think our [current] APS-C sensor is comparable to full-frame image quality. I think we can satisfy most people. But in future our goal is to satisfy everyone.

Is Fujfilm committed to the sub-APS-C market anymore, or are you focused now on APS-C?

We still do well with tough cameras. Because smartphones haven’t been able to replace them. So we’ve not completely abandoned that market. As long as there’s opportunity we’ll continue to look into it.

Some manufacturers are moving into virtual reality imaging with products like the Nikon Key Mission, the Samsung Gear and so on. Is this a market segment that Fujifilm is interested in?

At the moment we don’t have anything planned.

When a photographer thinks about Fujifilm as a brand, what kind of qualities do you want them to associate with the company?

Image quality. We are a photography company - not a camera company. That’s what our boss is always saying to us (Toru Takahashi - interviewed in January). That’s very important. We are still a film maker. So image quality and color reproduction. 

Editor's note:

In many ways, the on-record portions of this interview offer a message consistent with that delivered by Mr Takahashi and Mr Iida when I spoke to them earlier this year. Fujfilm is committing to two flagship APS-C platforms, X-Pro and X-T, and with the release of the X-T2, this strategy has reached a degree of maturity.

The similarities between the two cameras are arguably less interesting than the differences. The X-T2 is the faster of the two, and is designed to appeal to a wider audience. Not necessarily a more professional audience, but perhaps a more commercial one. Several times, the executives I spoke to stressed the importance of satisfying the needs of sports photographers and the inclusion in the X-T2 of Canon-style AF 'sets' is clearly intended to ease the hypothetical transition for prospective DSLR defectors. Meanwhile, 4K video (and from what we can tell at present, pretty good 4K video) is of course, a feature that is currently unavailable to most DSLR photographers, regardless of brand.

Whether or not the X-T2 can actually attract these dyed-in-the-wool DSLR shooters is of course another matter altogether. Ironically, I get the sense that it is the rangefinder-style X-Pro and X100-series that have attracted more attention among traditional enthusiasts, possibly because they are so un DSLR-like. Fortunately, the X-T2 is an excellent camera. Both ergonomically and in terms of image quality, the X-T2 continues to impress us in studio and real-world testing, and as we'd expect from a product with this kind of lineage, it's a pleasure to shoot with. I like how the X-Pro2 looks, but I must say, I greatly prefer how the X-T2 handles.

Publicly, Fujifilm is fully committed to its APS-C system, with its twin flagships, but I'd be very surprised if some of the company's engineers aren't looking jealously westward to Sweden, where Hasselblad recently announced the X1D. This, after all, is precisely the kind of medium format camera that Fujifilm used to be known for, back in the film days. Lightweight (ish), easy-to-use, and relatively affordable next to more traditional SLRs.

One of the gentlemen I spoke to last week said that 'in future our goal is to satisfy everyone'. Only he knows exactly what he meant by that, but it's fun to speculate. What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

Categories: Equipment

Photographer captures the ruin of Fukushima's exclusion zone

Thu, 07/14/2016 - 7:00am

Inside the Fukushima exclusion zone

An abandoned supermarket in Fukushima. Photo by Keow Wee Loong

Much of the area around Japan's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station has been closed to the public following the disaster that struck the region over five years ago. The earthquake and subsequent tsunami of March 11, 2011 caused a meltdown at the plant, and some 170,000 people were evacuated immediately from the Prefecture. The area closest to the plant has remained closed since then as the lingering radiation contamination continues to pose a health risk, but one curious photographer would not be deterred.

Keow Wee Loong, a Malaysian photographer currently based in Thailand, snuck into the zone with his fianceé to document the current state of Fukushima's abandoned towns – and what was left behind. From a supermarket picked over by wild animals, forgotten laundry at a laundromat and a wall calendar forever frozen on March 2011, his photos show the eerie remains of daily life brought to an abrupt halt.

You can see more of his Fukushima photos and his photography on his Facebook page.

Inside the Fukushima exclusion zone

Structure collapse resulting from the magnitude 9.0 earthquake. Photo by Keow Wee Loong

Inside the Fukushima exclusion zone

Abandoned video rental store. Photo by Keow Wee Loong

Inside the Fukushima exclusion zone

CDs and videos still on the shelves. Photo by Keow Wee Loong

Inside the Fukushima exclusion zone

Merchandise litters the floor of an abandoned bookstore. Photo by Keow Wee Loong

Inside the Fukushima exclusion zone

Overgrown parking lot of an abandoned convenience store. Photo by Keow Wee Loong

Inside the Fukushima exclusion zone

Residents left laundry and 100 yen coins behind in this Fukushima laundromat. Photo by Keow Wee Loong

Inside the Fukushima exclusion zone

A calendar page showing the month of the disaster. Photo by Keow Wee Loong

Inside the Fukushima exclusion zone

A mall in the town of Tomioka. Photo by Keow Wee Loong

Inside the Fukushima exclusion zone

An abandoned supermarket that has likely been visited by wild animals in the area. Photo by Keow Wee Loong

Categories: Equipment

Adobe boosts Lightroom Mobile with Raw editing for iOS

Wed, 07/13/2016 - 5:19pm

Adobe’s Lightroom Mobile apps for Apple and Android mobile devices have both been given significant updates that allow users a much wider range of controls when editing and shooting. The company has quite different apps for the two operating systems, and while Android users have been able to edit Raw files for some time the facility is now offered to iOS users via version 2.4. Owners of Android devices can now install version 2.1 which offers what Adobe calls a ‘Pro’ shooting mode that allows much more detailed control over the way pictures are recorded.

Adobe says the version 2.1 for Android has a completely new Lightroom Camera function that features a mode that gives the photographer access to shutter speed, ISO, white balance and focus so that they can all be adjusted manually. Aperture isn’t listed as few mobile cameras have significantly variable apertures. The company also says it has improved the app’s ability to export high resolution files.

Apple iPhone and iPad users get Raw Technology Preview, which effectively allows photographers to import files from all the cameras supported by the main desktop version of Camera Raw. These Raw files can be edited using a wide range of tools to control contrast, exposure and white balance, and marked with star ratings and flags – all of which can be synched with Lightroom on the owner’s other devices. The company says it has edited 50MP images from the Canon EOS 5DS on an iPhone 6 to demonstrate how powerful the application is.

iOS users can also now make radial and linear selections that allow local editing of particular areas of the image.

Both the Android and iOS versions of Lightroom Mobile are free to download and use, but to enjoy the new features iOS users need to have a subscription to Creative Cloud.

For more information see the Adobe blog

Photograph by Elia Locardi of the valley in Meteora, Greece. Shot in raw on a Fuji XT-2 and edited on location with an iPad Pro with Lightroom for iOS.

Manufacturer's information:

Two big updates for Lightroom for mobile are now available for download

Lightroom for iOS 2.4
In version 2.4, two major improvements have been added: a raw technology preview and the addition of local adjustment tools. In addition to these major improvements, we’ve also added the ability to use keyboard shortcuts with physical keyboards connected to iPads, the ability to add your copyright to all imported photos, functionality to turn on lens profiles (if your camera and lens combination are supported), as well as the usual bug fixes and improvements.

Raw Technology Preview
We’re sure it’s happened to you before: you’re out taking photos (in raw of course) and you capture a real stunner that you can’t wait to share with the world. Until now, you had to either transfer a JPEG version of the file over or you had to wait until you got back to your desktop or laptop. With the raw technology preview, you’ll be able to import raw photos immediately to either your iPhone or iPad, edit them, and then share them, anywhere you’ve got a connection. Our goal with Lightroom for mobile is to make it an indispensable part of your photography workflow, providing the tools that you’re familiar with and the quality you expect in a product that can be with you, no matter when inspiration strikes. With this technology preview, we want to push the boundaries of how photographers around the world work with their mobile devices.

You get all of the benefits of raw, such as the ability to change the white balance, being able to recover blown out highlights, access to the full range of color information, as well as editing an uncompressed file, all using the exact same technology that powers Lightroom on your desktop. An added benefit is that the raw file that you’ve imported into Lightroom for iOS will be synced with Lightroom on your other devices, such as Lightroom for desktop or Lightroom on the web, along with any of the edits, star ratings, or flags that you added.

Lightroom for mobile supports all of the same raw files that Lightroom for desktop as well as Adobe Camera Raw support, with the full list available here.

To transfer photos to your mobile device, you need to use either the camera connection kit or the lightning to SD or USB kits from Apple to transfer your raw files over to your device, which will bring up the Import tab within the iOS Photos app. Importing the files will add them into your camera roll, where you can then access and load in any raw file directly into Lightroom mobile. It’s important to keep in mind that raw files are significantly larger (3-5 times larger) than JPEGs, meaning the raw files will take longer to import, upload, and take up more space on your device. Even as such, we found that the added control and quality that the raw files afforded were so useful that it outweighed the negatives.

Just as when working with raw files that were synced from Lightroom for desktop or Lightroom on the web, you’ll be able to perform raw-specific enhancements, such as changing the white balance with greater control and recovering clipped highlights, but unlike when working with raw files synced from Lightroom for desktop, you’ll have access to the full resolution file AND you can do it anywhere in the world, even from your iPhone! 

We’ve run Lightroom for mobile through its paces on a number of different files, including the 50MP Canon 5DS running on an iPhone 6, proving that you really can edit nearly any photo anywhere. After playing with the app for a few months, we’ve found that it’s a really great way to take a few of your favorite images from the day (or even that you just captured), review to make sure you captured what you saw, edit, and then share them, all right away, and with all of your edits carried through the rest of the Lightroom ecosystem.

We had the pleasure of working with a number of photographers while creating the raw technology preview, take a look at how travel photographer Elia Locardi was able to put the technology to use while shooting on location in Greece.

You can read more about the images that were created for this release through an article about Elia on Adobe Create as well as on Elia’s own blog.

Linear and Radial Selections
In addition to the raw technology preview, we’ve also added in the ability to perform local adjustments with linear and radial selections, the two most requested features after raw support.

Lightroom for iOS Availability
Lightroom mobile 2.4 is available immediately for iPhone and iPad from the iOS App Store for free. Both of these improvements are available only for members with a creative cloud subscription or or if you start a free Creative Cloud trial.

Lightroom for Android 2.1

While the iOS team was working hard on the raw technology preview, the Android team doubled-down on the unique end-to-end DNG capture experience first announced in Lightroom for Android 2.0 and created a brand new capture experience. Our goal is to create the best mobile photography experience available, and with the amazing quality possible on Android devices, especially thanks to DNG raw capture, we wanted to provide all of the controls and functionality needed.

Now, the built-in camera has a new Pro mode that lets you control the shutter speed, ISO, white balance, and focus all manually, in a brand new interface.

You can access the camera directly using the new Lightroom Camera widget. This new widget will launch the Lightroom camera directly, making it faster for you to get in and start taking pictures.

In addition to the new built-in camera, we’ve also improved the app’s ability to export full-resolution files. If the files are available somewhere within the Lightroom ecosystem, Lightroom for Android will now download the full resolution version and enable you to export them.

You can download Lightroom for Android 2.1 here now for free.

Categories: Equipment

Peak Design launches Everyday backpack, tote and sling bags on Kickstarter

Wed, 07/13/2016 - 2:10pm

Peak Design has launched four new bags in its Everyday product line: the Everyday Backpack in 20L and 30L sizes, the Everyday Tote, and the Everyday Sling. All four bags are offered in two different configurations, one Charcoal in color with black trim and red accents, the other Ash with black trim, blue accents, and leather accents. 

Peak Design says its new bags, while ideal for photographers, 'ain’t just camera bags,' hence the Everyday moniker. The array of bags are made from weather-resistant materials and integrate protective design elements including both ultra-thick felt and high-density compression-molded EVA materials. The Everyday bags can be customized via the removable FlexFold dividers, are 'loaded' with storage spaces, and offer expanding internal structures with a system for attaching items to the bags’ exteriors.

The new Everyday bags are currently being funded on Kickstarter where the campaign has reached nearly double its $500k funding goal with 58 days remaining. Peak Design estimates it will deliver bags to backers this coming December.

Via: Kickstarter

Categories: Equipment

Polaroid Swing is a new take on Apple's Live Photos

Wed, 07/13/2016 - 1:49pm

Apple didn't invent the concept, but ever since the company launched its Live Photos feature it has been en vogue to add a touch of motion to still images – just enough to give you a better idea of the atmosphere at the time and place of capture.

The latest new app to slightly vary this theme is Polaroid Swing. The app captures 60 frames in a quick burst and combines them into an animated image. When viewing you can trigger the 1-second animation by twisting your device or swiping across the screen. This works in both directions. Below are a couple of samples for you to try, just move the mouse across the images:

As you would imagine, final results can be shared via Facebook, Twitter and other means. The effect is pretty neat but, as we've seen many times before, there is danger of the novelty factor wearing off pretty quickly. That said, the owners of the legendary Polaroid name seem to firmly believe in Polaroid Swing's success. They have not only licensed the Polaroid name but also invested in the app. Polaroid Swing is available as a free download from the App Store now; an Android version is still in the works.

Categories: Equipment

A photographer's intro to the world of video

Wed, 07/13/2016 - 12:00pm

It took me a long time to recognize the appeal of video shooting. Even in a job where I have to use a camera’s video features, it was only fairly recently that I moved beyond just taking short clips (essentially stills with a little bit of movement in them) and started to think in terms of using video and editing to tell stories.

Given that most modern cameras offer at least rudimentary video tools, I wanted to share my experiences and perhaps encourage others to start thinking about shooting at 24 or more frames per second.

The good news is that a lot of the things you learn as a photographer are immediately useful as you take your first steps in video shooting. But, as I discovered, at almost every stage I encountered differences and additional factors to consider. Many of which I wished someone had told me when I started…

Stop shaking the camera, you’re making me feel sick

The first thing that became apparent when shooting video for the first time was the need to keep the camera steady. I remember my Dad teaching me how to keep my camera steady and be aware of my breathing when shooting relatively long exposures, but no amount of good breathing technique or bracing the camera against a pillar is enough to give steady video.

Even if your camera is hand-holdable, don't expect that to mean you'll shoot it hand-held.

This makes sense, of course: most stills shooting only requires you to hold your camera steady for fractions of a second whereas video lets the viewer see how steady you’ve been for seconds or minutes at a time.

What I've learned is that in-camera stabilization can be enough to stop your footage looking unwatchably juddery, but unless you’re aiming for a ‘run-and-gun’ aesthetic, you’ll need to use a tripod or some sort of stabilization rig.

Exposing some limitations

Exposure is another area where the lessons I’d learned from stills photography are useful but incomplete. You still get to control the same variables, but the range of control you have is somewhat restricted. It’s still a question of managing light, but with a greater risk of finding yourself with too much of the stuff.

For me it’s a question of shutter speed, which has a more obvious impact on the appearance of your footage than is usually the case in stills shooting. A fast shutter speed in stills photography will freeze motion, a slow one will allow the subject to blur but there’s often a large range in between these two extremes. In video, there’s a narrower range before the viewer starts to notice the difference.

The 180 degree shutter ‘rule,’ where you use a shutter speed that’s half the duration of each frame (so 1/48th seconds for 24 fps shooting) isn’t an inviolable law, but the further you stray from it, the more jarring or muddled your footage will look. This can be a creative choice, of course, but only counts as such if you've consciously made it.

This made me think back to when I was first experimenting with stills photography, and getting a feel for the boundaries set by the longest shutter speed I could hand-hold, the widest aperture I had available and the highest ISO setting I found acceptable. Once I was familiar with these, one of the first purchases I made was a faster lens (that’s right: a 50mm F1.8) to get more light to extend these capabilities.

With stills shooting, one of the first things you buy is a bright lens to get more light, with video it’s an ND filter, to get rid of it.

With video and the further restriction over the fastest shutter speed I’m willing to use, it’s a decent ND filter I need to buy, to reduce the light level to fit your boundaries.

A neutral density (ND) filter allows you to use use wide apertures and the relatively slow shutter speeds that a lot of videographers favor. An adjustable ND filter provides even more flexibility.

A return to JPEGs

Added to these exposure limitations has been another throw-back to my first days as a photographer: having to revert to an 8-bit, compressed shooting format. Having spent some time learning the distinctions between video file formats, the main lesson has been that none of the ones I'm likely to encounter are anything like Raw.

Once you've been spoiled by the seemingly endless dynamic range that can fit in a 14-bit Raw file and the ability to set and adjust the white balance at the ending stage, it's a shock to go back to having to get exposure and white balance perfect when you shoot.

Flat tone curves and Log profiles provide a means of squeezing a bit more useable DR into those 8-bit files, but this can make it even harder to judge correct exposure. I'd highly recommend shooting some test footage and trying to grade it back into something useful, before committing yourself to the flattest tone curve you can find.

Now focus

With modern cameras it's easy to take autofocus for granted, even as someone who started shooting with a manual focus camera. Focus in video presents two challenges to the idea of pressing the shutter and expecting all to be well.

The first problem is one of time: the fast focus you need for stills would look starling if it occurred in the middle of a video clip. The other challenge is that most autofocus in video is terrible: contrast detection is inherently based on hunting and there are currently few decisive phase-detection systems that have a sensible way to specify or change focus position.

Most cameras' autofocus during video is terrible and you'll often find manual focus gives you a better result. Focus peaking is extremely helpful in this respect but a well-marked distance scale can work, too.

Consequently I've found myself doing a lot of manual focusing, learned to really appreciate focus peaking and magnification during capture, and learned to loathe speed-sensitive focus-by-wire lenses. Mainly, though, I've learned to plan, position and stop down to minimize the need to refocus and, wherever possible, to reserve refocusing as an effect to draw the viewer's attention.

Composition and movement

More than any of these changes, though, there are some things that photographic experience can only begin to help with. The basics of what works in terms of composition remain the same, however, there are several key additional considerations.

Firstly, I had to consider how my subjects move within the composition. Even when I'm shooting something whose movement I can't control, I still get to choose where to position myself and how to frame the action, at least. That's only the beginning, though.

You also have a choice over how your camera moves, or appears to. Static shots are easiest but may not be the right choice for every subject. Moving the camera brings many challenges of its own but can give a sense of motion to a shot. However, while they may seem easy, zooming or excessive panning often look fairly unprofessional, even if you can do them slowly and smoothly.

A simple 'dolly' (which can be something as rudimentary as a skateboard), will allow you to add smooth movement to your footage. Movement that will look a lot more professional than panning the tripod head, in most cases.

The other option, of course, is to take a series of static shots from different positions, then cut them together so that the viewer gets a sense of the movement from one shot to the next, without you actually showing it.

This, of course, leads into one of the biggest differences between stills and video shooting: I'm increasingly finding myself thinking about multiple shots needed for the film’s narrative. Instead of taking a single image, I'm trying to imagine a sequence that can be edited together. And that's led me to realize that as well as choices relating to shooting style, there is vast scope for creativity when it comes to how the footage is edited together.

The entirely unfamiliar

One area that stills photography gave me no insight into was the importance of audio recording. In the same way that audiences are much more aware of shooting technique than they realize, they’re also incredibly sensitive to poor audio.

A Lavalier microphone (often just called a 'Lav' mic), lets you capture your subject's speech with minimal background interference. The foam cover protects from wind noise, which can ruin your whole project if you only discover it at the edit stage.

Bad or inconsistent audio is one of the best ways of distracting your audience or distancing them from the experience your carefully edited footage.

It’s the thing I continue to get wrong most often, but it’s something I put more thought into every time I prepare for a shoot. It's also the reason we pay close attention to whether cameras include a mic input (which is essential for decent audio capture) and headphone socket for monitoring the results and making sure I don't arrive back at my computer with clipped sound, wind noise or the combined works of the aircraft and emergency service ensemble providing an unnoticed soundtrack.

The differences don’t end when you stop recording

Like audio, editing is another area where photographic experience doesn't really prepare you. This is true when it comes to pre-visualizing the way I'm going to edit things together but also in terms of the software I've had to learn.

Whereas still image software has developed from image processing and darkroom metaphors, video editing software has developed independently and often has tools designed for people with a totally different background.

It means many of the familiar tools you’re likely to be used to: curves and white balance, for instance, are likely to be absent or hidden. However, it also means encountering some unfamiliar but useful tools, such as waveforms and vectorscopes, which are powerful ways of interpreting what’s going on in your footage.

Vectorscopes and waveforms will be unfamiliar to most stills shooters but they give a useful insight into the tonal and chromatic distribution in your footage.

Some of these tools prove to be hugely useful, but I for one am looking forward to the day when editing software makers consider including the best tools from both workflows into a single piece of software, even if that means building some software that’s less geared toward their respective industries.

As it stands, the learning curves required to understand Final Cut Pro or Premiere are every bit as steep as the one I faced when I first encountered Photoshop, but both give that same impression of almost unlimited capability, once you start to find your feet.

A chance to challenge myself (even if I'm not expecting Oscars)

However masochistic though it may sound, I'm hugely enjoying the challenge of learning a totally new set of skills, and watching my results leap forward with each attempt. It would have been easy to get downhearted that my photographic knowledge didn't immediately turn into videographic capability but I've been lucky enough to have some very experienced colleagues to help me make progress.

My own efforts may be somewhat faltering at present, but I’ve been hugely enjoying the opportunity to experiment with shots and with editing. And, while I personally don't like zooms, pans or high shutter speed (small shutter angle) footage, I've learned enough so that I can use them as creative choices if I wanted to.

Beyond all of these lessons, the main one I've learned is the need to plan. With so many additional factors to think about, the need to plan the shots I need to get, plan how I'm going to capture the audio. It's one thing to chase the blue or golden hours to get a single photo, but it takes an order of magnitude more preparation if there are a number of video shots you need to get during that brief window.

Filmmakers often talk about film making as having grammar and, although I’m only starting to work out how to string very basic sentences together, it is fascinating to explore a new means of expression. If you’ve got a camera with a [REC] button and you can get access to some editing software, I can wholly recommend giving it a try: set yourself a project, try, fail, improve.

Categories: Equipment

Vorticity: Time-lapse captures the drama of storm chasing

Wed, 07/13/2016 - 7:00am

Mike Olbinski recently spent 18 days and drove some 20,000 miles to capture one of nature's most powerful forces on camera, and in doing so has created one of the most compelling time-lapse videos we've seen in a long time. He shot some 60,000 time-lapse frames between April 15th and June 15th, 2016 and compiled them into a six minute long epic that concludes with the holy grail of storm chasing: capturing a tornado on camera. Definitely view this one in full screen mode and enjoy!

Categories: Equipment

Parachut is a subscription service for borrowing expensive camera gear

Wed, 07/13/2016 - 7:00am

If you're really keen to shoot with a particular camera or lens, but you can't afford to buy it, you don't have many options. Renting gear for long periods of time can get very expensive, very quickly.

Parachut is a new subscription-based service that allows you to borrow from a wide variety of equipment - old and new - for $149 per month. Pitched as a service geared around 'exploration', Parachut allows subscribers to lease equipment based on their personal interests. You can add specific items to a wish list, but the precise contents of your first delivery - called a 'Chut Drop' - will be tailored to your picture-taking preferences, and skill level, and may include 'surprises'. 

Parachut is a subscription-based service for long-term leasing of photographic equipment, both old and new.

Once you take delivery of a piece of equipment, provided that you maintain your subscription, you can keep it for as long as you like. An additional $49 per month covers accidental loss or damage.

Parachut is currently in beta, and only available to US-based subscribers. Expansion to other countries is planned, and an official launch for 'founding members' is scheduled for later this year. Right now, $149 will get you on the founding members list, ready for the first Chut Drop in autumn. 

For more information, watch the (slightly cringeworthy) video, above, and check out Parachut's website. What do you think? For what amounts to almost $2000 a year, would you make use of a service like Parachut? Let us know in the comments. 

Categories: Equipment

Hasselblad and DJI announce 50MP medium-format drone kit

Tue, 07/12/2016 - 7:54pm

The first product of the collaboration between Chinese drone maker DJI and Swedish medium-format camera manufacturer Hasselblad will be a long range drone fitted with the same 50MP CMOS sensor that is used in a number of current medium-format cameras, including the new X1D mirrorless camera.

What the companies are calling a ‘fully integrated aerial photography platform’ will combine DJI’s industrial Matrice 600 drone with Hasselblad’s recent A5D aerial camera. The camera, which has no moving parts of its own, will come with an adapted HC 50mm F3.5 lens that has its focus set to infinity. When used with the 50c sensor the lens offers a view similar to that which we would expect from a 42mm lens on a 35mm system camera.

DJI’s M600 can carry a maximum of 6kg/13.2lb which the company says means it can carry the Hasselblad A5D and a Ronin-MX gimbal 'with ease' – together the camera, lens and gimbal will weigh just over 4kg/8.95lb.

As both products are already on sale the bundle deal is available now priced $25,999/€24,400/¥189,999 (Chinese yuan) – all before tax. The UK price has yet to be announced. For more information see the Hasselblad and the DJI websites.

Press release:

DJI and Hasselblad introduce first joint aerial photography package

First fully integrated aerial photography platform combines DJI’s M600 with Hasselblad’s A5D.

DJI and Hasselblad today announced a fully integrated high-end aerial camera-platform bundle made up of Hasselblad’s aerial medium format camera A5D and DJI’s professional flying platform M600.

The A5D-M600 bundle is the first joint product following DJI’s recent investment in Hasselblad. The combination of the M600 and the A5D provides users with today’s most advanced aerial optics and sensors integrated with one of the world’s most reliable aerial platforms. In addition, the two companies are looking at additional joint products for the future.

‘Combining best-in-class aerial optics with the world’s most powerful aerial platform is a natural development for DJI and Hasselblad. We are delighted to provide this unique bundle to professional photographers, surveyors and mappers’, said Perry Oosting, CEO of Hasselblad.’

DJI’s M600 is designed for maximum performance and smart flight safety. The M600 is fully compatible with DJI’s advanced gimbal system the Ronin-MX. It comes fully equipped with 6 intelligent batteries, A3 flight controller, Lightbridge 2 Professional HD transmission system, a dust-proof propulsion system and powerful app control.

Hasselblad’s A5D camera combines the world’s best optics and sensors with a modern, compact design. The sensors are almost twice the size of those used in today’s best 35 mm DSLR cameras and the A5D lens comes in 50 mm.

Hasselblad’s Natural Colour Solution (HNCS) comes standard and helps optimize difficult color gradations straight out of the box. The A5D has a strong seal on the camera body and sensor unit preventing dust in the optical system.

Categories: Equipment

Wireless tethering on a budget: control your camera from your phone or tablet for $40

Tue, 07/12/2016 - 6:49pm

Wireless tethering is nothing new, but it's not exactly a cheap proposition. Well, that's changed, as Seattle-based photographer Alan Lawrence shows on his blog. For around $40, you can wirelessly control and transfer images from your camera to your phone or tablet.

In short, this DIY wireless tethering requires a TP-Link MR3040 Battery Powered 3G Wireless Router, some software, a USB cable, and some time. Lawrence says the router is similar-looking to the CamRanger, a device that offers tethering functionality out-of-the-box, but the router retails for under $30 compared to the CamRanger's $299 MSRP.

Once you've got your hands on the router (and he does say you need a specific version, which is the one linked above), you'll need a $9 app called DSLR Dashboard for Android, or QDSLR Dashboard for iOS. The last thing you'll need is a compatible USB cable, and you're almost in business.

The DSLR Dashboard website has a link to download new firmware for the router, and once you've updated that, all you have to do is connect to the wireless network you've set up and launch the app. You can control your camera from your device and download files instantly after you've taken them.

You can read all the nitty gritty details over on Alan Lawrence's blog.

Categories: Equipment

Huawei's Honor 8 comes with dual cam, no Leica branding

Tue, 07/12/2016 - 2:46pm

Huawei has today announced the latest high-end model of its sub-brand Honor. The Honor 8 is in many ways a smaller version of the phablet-device Honor V8 and also has a lot in common with Huawei's current flagship P9. Like the P9, it comes with a 5.2-inch 1080p IPS display and a dual-camera setup. The main imaging module combines the images of two 12MP sensors with F2.2 aperture but has to make to without the P9's Leica Summarit branding.

In terms of memory the device offers up to 4GB of RAM and 64GB of expandable storage. Android 6 and Huawei's EMUI 4.1 are powered by the Chinese manufacturer's in-house chipset Kirin 950 and like on the P9 there is a fingerprint sensor on the back for increased security. The 3,000 mAh battery is charged via a USB Type-C port.

The Honor will become available in China on July 19th. The base model with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage will cost approximately $298, the top-end version with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage will set you back approximately $335. No information on international availability has been revealed yet but it can be assumed the Honor 8 will be available to purchase in other regions soon. 

Categories: Equipment

Nikon D500 firmware update adds workaround for SD card errors

Tue, 07/12/2016 - 2:35pm

Nikon has released a firmware update for the D500, correcting the card error issue we discussed in our D500 review. The error — which happened once in our office and has been reported by many camera owners — manifests when some UHS-II SD cards are used (Lexar cards seem to be particularly affected). According to Nikon, these card errors are resulting from the cards themselves, not the camera.

The update takes the D500’s firmware from version 1.01 to 1.02, and only corrects the card error. Per Nikon's changelog, the new firmware does the following:

Categories: Equipment