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Thursday, March 27, 2014

DX to FX: A Personal Journey by Jon Hillenbrand

Recently I was asked by Matt Ballard from Art of the Image to write an article for his blog about my switch from a smaller sensor size to full frame (36mm x 24mm) sensor size.  I feel this subject has been talked about quite a bit a few years ago and has resurfaced due mainly to the improved noise reduction of current smaller-sensor cameras.  So instead of boring you all with pixel pitch, heat dissipation, megapixel counts and crop factors, I will speak mostly of my own personal journey and say that my transition to a full frame sensor was and continues to be one of the most important things to happen to me as a photographer.  Because all discussions such as these require a frame of reference, first a little about me.

I am a professional photographer and documentary filmmaker with over 17 years of experience.  I am currently employed as the head of photography for a major healthcare company.  In my journey as a photographer and filmmaker, I have been exposed to lots of equipment;  some good, some bad, all a compromise between what I need and how much I have to spend.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Pentax K-3: A Hands on Review of the Pentax K-3 by JJ Richards (after Up-Grading from the Pentax K-5)

I upgraded to the Pentax K-3 from the K-5 in November of last year, and prior to that I had a K200d, so it was the logical upgrade in sticking with the same manufacturer based on the collection of lenses I have built up over time, however that said, I would have stuck with Pentax as I have been more than happy with each of the cameras I have had over the years.

Most of the photography I do is Landscape photography, with the shooting of local events and bands from time to time, and the K-3 works very well for me in this regard.

Not bashing other brands in any way, but my selection of my first Pentax was after a review of many factors and narrowing it down between a couple of cameras.  When I went and tried the two I was considering, the Pentax just felt better in my hands, and that was my final factor in making a decision.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Fuji X-T1 First Impression by Mike Villa

Every so often a camera gets released that the photo community cannot seem to stop talking about. It gets bashed by critics, praised by fanboys, and floods forums faster than a Canon 1DX's single-point focus. As you, dear readers, are well aware of, Fujifilm's new X-T1 is the latest of these hype-mongers. 

Context is everything, and so before we dive into the nitty-gritty of all that is Fuji, I think it's important to establish the perspective that I'm reviewing this camera from. I've been a full-time professional photographer for a little over four years now, and have dabbled in quite a few different areas of photography. For some time my sole income was from shooting weddings and portraits, but over the past year I've moved into more commercial travel photography (shooting mostly as a travel photojournalist for Life Without Limbs), with weddings and lifestyle shoots sprinkled throughout. 

I entered photography as a Canon shooter, but quickly moved to Nikon after going full-time. As my travel increased, I added Leica and Fuji systems to my kit. My workhorse camera is my (mostly) trusty LeicaM9, with my Nikon D800 filling in the gaps left by the rangefinder system. Up until this point (spoiler alert), my Fuji kit based around the X-E1 has mostly been regulated to personal use. Needless to say, the X-T1 going up against some very strong competitors in the fight to find a place in my bag.

One final note before we get into it: I've only had the X-T1 for a week, and being on the tail end of tax season, I haven't had a chance to really put it through its paces. So this will focus more on my first impressions rather than on-location use. But fear not! I'm typing this from a plane that's Hawaii-bound, where I'll be using the Fuji extensively on this shoot over the next two and a half weeks. So come back in a few weeks for my opinion on how it performs in the field.

By this point, I'm sure you've read countless reviews, spec sheets, and forum postings, but as a quick recap: The Fujifilm X-T1 is Fuji's biggest, baddest mirrorless offering to date. It's extremely similar to the Fuji X-E2 in that it uses the same 16 megapixel X-Trans II sensor, hybrid focus system, LCD, and EVF, but everything has been tweaked to be faster, bigger, and better built. The form factor is more DSLR-like than the typical rangefinder-esque design of Fuji's past offerings, but it's not noticeably bigger than them. 

One of the biggest surprises is how deceptively small the X-T1 is. It's just about the same size as the X-E series, but with the "prism" hump sticking out of the middle. It's certainly not small by mirrorless standards, but it's a large step down in size from even an entry level DSLR. As a guy with slightly short, stubby fingers, I've found the X-E series and Leica M9 quite comfortable in my hands, with my fingers falling naturally over the controls. With the viewfinder now centered in the X-T1, everything feels slightly more cramped. There's not quite as much real estate for your hand to sprawl out across the camera. It's not uncomfortable by any means, and all of the controls fall easily at hand (except perhaps the AF-L button), but it takes a minute to adjust to it. It's a very different grip than the rangefinder-style cameras or a traditional DSLR. I have Fuji's handgrip (not to be confused with their battery grip) on preorder, and I would image that all of my handling woes will be solved by it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Stormtroopers! Where!!! (a little macro fun with the Canon SX50)

 Bet you haven't seen a Storm Trooper riding a Pachyderm yet today!

With the popularity of the new Lego movie, I thought I'd have a little fun with with the Macro setting on the Canon SX50 and a Lego Storm Trooper. 

You probably knew the SX50 was known to be a great long lens ultrazoom camera, but you may not have known it does a decent job as a macro lens too.  

Monday, March 17, 2014

FUJI X-T1: THE NEW X-FACTOR - An In-Depth Real World Review by Chris Dodkin /

As an existing X Series user (X100, then X-Pro1) I eagerly awaited Fuji's new model. I dreamed of an X-Pro2 perhaps, or a digital version of the classic Fuji MF rangefinders.

As the new year dawned, the rumor sites online were full of clues, so I hopped on a plane to Las Vegas, and the CES show, to get a sneak preview.

I got ten whole minutes in a locked room with the new Fuji model, but that was enough to get me hooked - It was no X-Pro2, nor a medium format X-Trans camera, but I placed my order for the Fuji X-T1 the same day.

When I look back at my CES preview, it strikes me as a similar experience to someone discovering the camera for the first time at a camera store.

You get ten minutes or so to pick up and try the camera, and make up your mind if you like what you see, and if you'll buy it.

And in this respect the X-T1 scores way ahead of it's predecessors.

The first impression is that the camera is smaller than you expect. We're all so accustomed to the size of a DSLR that we automatically assume the X-T1 is built to the same scale. It's not.

As you pick the camera up you get the next impression, this thing is really well built, it's solid and beautifully finished. The rubberized skin grips your fingers, and the dials on the top plate ooze an engineering quality that's been missing from cameras for the last 20 years. Nikon could learn a thing or three from this camera, this is what the Nikon Df should have looked like.

You feel the weight in your hand - even with the grip attached and a hefty lens like the 56mm f/1.2, the whole package is considerably lighter than the Canon 5DII I was used to carrying. Another plus for Fuji.

You click the familiar Fuji power selector to ON, and put the camera up to your eye, and BAMN! You're reaching for your credit card.

The EVF in the X-T1 is a game changer - it's huge, bigger than my reference Canon OVF in fact. And bright, clear, vibrant, and smooth.

It's so good, that I've seen people pick up and use the camera for the first time, and not realize they were using an EVF.

Now if they really stopped to think about it, they'd realize it of course, but the over all user impression is that there's nothing between you and the live scene - and that's a stunning achievement.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Why is the Canon T3i 600D Amazon's #1 Best Selling DSLR Digital Camera???

Canon EOS 600D T3i DSLR Digital Camera

I was a little surprised to see that the Canon T3i is Amazon's #1 Best Selling DSLR at the moment.  I mean, it's a little old in the tooth.  There are not one, but TWO updates to it as we're currently on the Canon T5i.

So what gives?  Why is the older, long in the tooth, Canon T3i so popular?

Well, there's one BIG reason, and it's actually fairly obvious if you think about it.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

SD vs Compact Flash Memory Cards: SD WINS! The End of Compact Flash by 2016

It doesn't seem that long ago that my DSLR digital cameras all took Compact Flash Memory Cards, and I was perfectly content with CF (other than the fact that they were outrageously expensive).

And then SD Memory Cards came along.  I hated them.  They were tiny, way too small, just begging to be dropped and lost.  I swore I'd never switch to SD from CF.

Oh how time changes things. :-)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Canon SX50: A View from our Hotel on the 19th Floor of the Sheraton on the Falls - Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

You take the kids to Niagara Falls for a couple of days at the Fallsview Indoor Waterpark over March Break.  

As such, your schedule doesn't really permit any time for a photography walk about, not to mention the fact that you're already exhausted from driving, running around all day with the kids, and getting no sleep at night due to over-caffeination. 

So what is a photographer to do?  

Well, luckily you remembered to pack your trusty little Canon SX50, and the view from your hotel room on the 19th floor offers some interesting sights.  Sure, purists will tell you that you can't shoot photos through glass and that your technique is all bad, but hey!  You're having fun, and you actually got some pretty interesting shots.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Canon 70D - A 3 Month Review of the Canon EOS 70D by Gareth Davies

Photo by Gareth Davies

I upgraded to the Canon 70D from my 600D back in December. Most of the photography I do is of rugby games, so the 70D was the ideal choice - the 5D Mark III was too expensive and the 6D is not ideal for sports.

The biggest difference I found with the 70D was the focusing system.  The 19 point all cross type focusing system is wonderful - a big improvement over the 9 point with single cross type on the 600D.

The build quality of the camera is also very good. It's a lot sturdier than the 600D and it's a nice weight.

Since buying the camera I've photographed about 4 rugby games at my local amateur club where I'm really close to the action and a couple of public training sessions at Racing Metro, one of the leading clubs in the French Top 14. I now rarely have issues with the shots being out of focus - most of them are nice and sharp. I set it to use the centre focusing square which gives me the use of the 9 central focusing points. I use the Canon 70-200 f4 IS lens. The camera is really fast to focus and I rarely have problems tracking the players - in an average game I take maybe 700 photos, out of those maybe 5% having focusing issues, but most of these are when it was focused on the wrong player which is mostly down to myself trying to keep up with the play.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Canon 70D Focus Issues - User / Owner Report by Christian at Bonsai MultiMedia

Hi there,

I'm German and have had focus issues with my Canon 70D from the start. I'm one of the notorious testers and posters on one German forum and got a lot of heat for the whole discussion.

In short: The actual phenomenon only occurs under very particular circumstances. It can't be shown with test charts and/or under artificial light. I am able to show it with all of my lenses with apertures of f2.8 or wider.

Circumstances are:

- wide open lens, f1.0 - f2.8 (phenomenon instantly disappears from f3.2 onwards)
- phase AF via viewfinder only (or Quick AF mode in Live View)
- manual selection of the center AF field (instantly disappears when selecting any other field)
- small, distant objects that just fill the frame of the center AF field (at least 5-10m away, rather more).

The result are completely OOF images in the area where the focus should have been. The focus sometimes can be found very close to the camera instead of 100m away where the object was.