31 2015 Dec

Selecting Digital Cameras for Action Video.

As I’ve mentioned before, sometimes a digital camera for action video just isn’t the best choice for your photography environment. So you will still find a camcorder valuable. One such camcorder still high in demand is the GoPro Hero3+ Silver Edition listing at $299.99, which can be found online for under $260.

GoPro Hero3+ Silver Edition (Part 1)

GoPro 3 SilverThe Silver appears identical to the Black Edition, GoPro’s professional version (a silver “3” on front is the only apparent difference) and is priced $100 less with part of that difference coming from the $80 Wi-Fi remote that accompanies the Black Edition but not the Silver. The Silver still has Wi-Fi, and the remote can be purchased separately.

The Silver Edition doesn’t have things like the Black’s Protune mode for high-bit-rate video, advanced color settings, and 24 frames per second recording for professional video production. Stuff that many consumers won’t use. However, the reason the Silver Edition can’t do these things is because it has a different sensor and processor than the Black Edition. So if you were expecting identical video quality between the two cameras, that’s simply not the case.

The Silver’s color and exposure are still very good, and the camera adjusts smoothly when lighting conditions change. At small screen sizes, clips look really good. But, there is definitely some detail loss as compared to the Black Edition. Artifacts are more noticeable too, especially when viewed at larger screen sizes. If these differences are important to you, go Black for $100 more.

Until next time, Happy Shuttering!

30 2015 Dec

Selecting the Perfect Camera Lens.

The last example of a great Wide-Angle camera lens that I’d like to introduce is the Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm/f4.0 ASPH Lens. This super wide-angle lens for select LUMIX Digital Cameras lists at $899.99, but can be found online for about $850.

Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm/f4.0 ASPH Lens

Panasonic MFT Wide AngleThis Micro Four Thirds interchangeable ultra wide-angle zoom lens, with a wide-angle zoom range of 7-14mm (35mm camera equivalent; 14-28mm), is surprisingly compact and lightweight.

With its wide, 114-degree angle of view, users can easily fit subjects into the frame, even when shooting indoors where distance is limited. The world looks extraordinary when viewed through this lens, allowing photos and movies to be recorded with a uniquely rich perspective.

This high-performance lens system achieves its compact size by combining 16 lens elements in 12 groups, including two aspherical lenses and four ED lenses. Image resolution is high from corner-to-corner, even at the wide-angle setting. It also features F4.0 brightness over the entire zoom range.

When mounted on a LUMIX G Micro System Camera, the lens can use the advanced contrast AF system, which includes a Face Recognition function, for more convenient, more enjoyable shooting. Seven blades give the aperture a rounded shape producing an attractively smooth effect in out-of-focus areas when shooting at larger aperture settings.

This lens also features a highly reliable metal mount and multi-coated lens elements that minimize ghosts and flare. The optimally designed lens hood enables use even under strong sunlight.

Until next time, Happy Shuttering!

29 2015 Dec

Selecting a Great Digital Camera.

Another highly valued digital camera is the Ricoh GR. This camera lists at $799.95, but can be had online for under $600.

Ricoh GR (Part 1)

Ricoh GRThe GR measures 2.4 inches x 4.6 inches x 1.4 inches and weighs about 8.6 ounces, making it small enough to slide into your shirt pocket.

Other than an Effect button and the manual flash release (located on the left side of the camera) all of the shooting controls are on the right side. By default the Effect button previews depth of field, but can be reprogrammed to perform any of a about two dozen functions. There’s a control wheel on the top front, directly in front of the shutter release. Also on the top plate are the Mode dial and the Power button.

On the rear is a dedicated Plus/Minus rocker that adjusts EV compensation, dedicated buttons to enable macro shooting, control flash output, and adjust white balance. Two buttons, labeled Fn1 and Fn2, can be reprogrammed with the same versatility as the Effect button. By default they control the focus point position and the self-timer. There’s a toggle switch to activate focus and exposure lock, or to provide continuous autofocus by holding down an integrated button. There’s also an adjustment lever which activates a software menu allowing you to scroll through and adjust any of five customizable functions. By default it is configured to adjust the ISO, image quality, aspect ratio, focus mode, and metering pattern controls.

Until next time, Happy Shuttering!

28 2015 Dec

Choosing the Best Camera Tripod.

Before moving on to another camera-related topic, I want to introduce a few great camera tripods for those on a budget, but seeking value. The first in this lineup is the Benro Flexpod A297EX + BH2-M Head listing at $265.

Benro Flexpod A297EX + BH2-M Head

benro.tifThe aluminium-based Benro FlexPod A297EX tripod legs and BH2-M ball head have maximum load ratings of 22.05 pounds and 17.6 pounds respectively. So they are suitable for even heavy camera and lens pairs. The combined weight of the legs and head is 6 pounds and the tripod extends from a folded length of 29.5 inches to a maximum operating height of 72.44 inches, making this an easy pair to carry on your travels. The three-section legs have sturdy clip locks and can be used in three angles, while the center column has an effective pivot facility with 180-degree rotation vertically.

The ball head does lack an adjustable friction damper and separate panning control, but its stability is great.

Until next time, Happy Shuttering!

25 2015 Dec

How to select a lens filter for your DSLR?

First I’d like to wish you and yours a happy and safe holiday!

Today I want to discuss the last of the GND filter types, the Reverse Graduated Neutral Density (GND) Filter. This is a relatively new type of lens filter for your DSLR.

Reverse Graduated Neutral Density (GND) Filter

Reverse GND FilterWhen compared to regular hard/soft-edge GND filters, a Reverse GND filter is dark at the horizon (hard-edge) and gradually softens towards the top. Reverse GND filters are very useful for sunset shots when you shoot against the sun and the sun is near the horizon. A common problem with such sunrises or sunsets, is that the sun is much brighter than the sky. If you use a hard-edge GND filter, the sky might get too dark and if you use a soft-edge GND filter, the sun will be overexposed. The solution is to use a reverse GND filter, which balances the sun and the sky in the frame, resulting in a more balanced exposure.

It is sometimes necessary to stack reverse GND filters in high-contrast and other rare situations.

Until next time, Happy Shuttering!

24 2015 Dec

Selecting Digital Cameras for Action Video.

Canon EOS 7D Mark II (Part 3)

Canon EOS 7D MkIIThe advanced 65-point all cross-type AF system in the Canon EOS 7D Mark II digital camera for action video helps ensure precise and stable AF on any subject and with any camera orientation. AF points are spread over a wide area of the frame, enabling faster autofocus. With a central dual cross-type AF point of f/2.8, autofocus is enhanced using lenses faster than f/2.8. Also, thus AF is possible in dim lighting, to EV-3.

Beauty is expressed in the details. To capture each little detail, Canon’s amazing combination of optics, sensor, and image processors work seamlessly together, to deliver the highest image quality. Raw images are suitable for fine art printing, large scale posters, jpegs over email, and everything in between.

The EOS 7D Mark II delivers refined and detailed EOS movie image quality with Full HD 60p (59.94 fps NTSC), and 50.00 fps (PAL), recording at ISO values up to 16000. At these frame rates, even a fast-moving subject looks smooth in HD, as does a slow motion playback.

Shoot Full HD and send uncompressed NTSC, PAL, and 24p footage using the EOS 7D Mark II’s included HDMI port. Monitor images on a large display or save image data to an external recorder. With the audio output function, video and sound can be recorded together to a single recorder. Dedicated microphone and headphone jacks allow for professional sound recording and monitoring. Dual card slots for CF and SD cards are included.

Until next time, Happy Shuttering!

23 2015 Dec

Selecting the Perfect Camera Lens.

If you have a Sony Alpha Digital SLR camera, which contains an APS-C-sized sensor rather than full-frame, you should check out the Sony DT 11-18mm f/4.5-5.6 Aspherical ED Super Wide Angle Zoom camera lens. This lens lists for $799.99, but can be found for around $750 online.

Sony DT 11-18MM F/4.5-5.6 Aspherical ED Super Wide Angle Zoom

Sony Wide Angle LensThe lens is compact but feels sturdy, and its workmanship is to Sony’s usual high standards. This is a great lens if a sturdy lens is your primary concern.

Generously proportioned zoom and focus rings mean easy operation. As with other Sony lenses, autofocus is powered by a conventional motor that’s fast.

The image sharpness both in the center of the image and at the edges is somewhat lacking as compared to other lenses in this price range, but distortion and vignetting are low. Chromatic aberration, ghosting, and flare may be evidenced.

In this case sticking with your body manufacturer’s own brand does provide better build quality, but not necessarily better image quality.

Until next time, Happy Shuttering!

22 2015 Dec

Selecting a Great Digital Camera.

Olympus Tough TG-3 (Part 3)

Olympus Tough TG-3On the top plate of the TG-3 digital camera are the power button, shutter release, and a zoom rocker that moves left and right to control the focal length. On the rear, directly above a flat mode dial, is the record button. The Info, Play, and Menu buttons are on the rear, as well as a four-way joypad with a center OK button and directional buttons to adjust Exposure Compensation (Up), Flash output (Right), and the Drive Mode/Self-Timer (Down). The left button gives you quick access to the on-screen overlay menu that runs along the right side of the rear LCD.

The mode dial has numerous settings in addition to the Microscope mode. These include iAuto, Program, Aperture Priority, Scene Mode, Art Filter, Photo Story, and a Custom mode that lets you save your favorite settings. Scene settings include presets to capture portraits, landscapes, panoramas, sports, snowy scenes, sunsets, fireworks, underwater scenes, and others. The Interval mode allows you to capture a series of stills at set intervals, to turn into a time lapse or simply save as individual photos. The number of frames, time between them, and whether or not you want the camera to turn them into a movie are all configured via the main menu. You can capture up to 99 images at any interval ranging from one second through 24 hours.

Until next time, Happy Shuttering!

21 2015 Dec

Choosing the Best Camera Tripod.

If you’re looking for a great camera tripod to start out with, The Dolica TX570B104 57″ Reversible Folding Tripod might fit your budget. Listing at $89.99 with a ball head, this tripod can be had for about $20 less.

Dolica TX570B104 57″ Reversible Folding Tripod

Dolica TX570B104The Dolica TX570B104 57” Reversible Traveler Edition tripod is the successor to their popular lightweight tripods and is the same as their TX570B150 SL. The new Dolica TX570B104 57” adds versatility and strength for mirror less and ILC (interchangeable lens) cameras.  The TX570B104 is great for indoor or outdoor photography thanks to its reversible legs, 4 position leg locks, folded length of 12.5” and won’t load you down at 2.5lbs.  The four leg extensions of heavy duty aluminum have nonslip rubber feet for added stability for those on the go. The upgraded legs have 4 round ribbed leg locks that create torsional rigidity and maximum locking power. The dual center column provides extended height extension making it the perfect tripod for all events, such as sports activities, camping, family gatherings and much more. The TX570B104 has a max Load of 15 lbs. giving you the flexibility for all types of cameras and camcorders. The upgraded TX570B104 comes with the upgraded Premium Design Ball Head with rubberized knobs for pan and tilt, and a quick release plate lock with safety catch and integrated level.  The center column is built with a weight hook, making the TX570B104 a perfect choice for today’s professional photographer. A carrying case is included.

Until next time, Happy Shuttering!

18 2015 Dec

How to select a lens filter for your DSLR?

I mentioned the drawbacks of the lens filter that I introduced last week. Today I’ll discuss a great alternative lens filter that you will find much more useful, the Soft-Edge Graduated Neutral Density (GND) Filter.

Soft-Edge Graduated Neutral Density (GND) Filter

Soft-Edge GND FilterCompared to hard-edge GND filters, soft-edge graduated neutral density filters gradually transition from dark to clear. This allows photographers to use these filters when photographing scenery in a normal environment for most of us, a horizon that is not flat. While mountains, hills, and other objects above the horizon can be a problem with hard-edge GND filters, soft-edge GND filters work much better in those situations. This is due to the gradual transition from dark to clear.

Hobbyists and videographers both use soft-edge GND filters for their landscape photography often and find them much more useful than hard-edge GND filters. It is occasionally necessary, in high-contrast and other rare situations, to stack soft-edge GND filters.

Until next time, Happy Shuttering!