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Updated: 40 min 47 sec ago

Eight tips for photographing your first hot air balloon festival

Wed, 01/31/2018 - 15:58

This article was originally published on Elliot Nahm's website, and is being republished in full here on DPReview with express permission from Elliot.

Ah, you've just received your first camera over the holiday season, and you're itching to use it. Or, perhaps you're just looking for something new to photograph this year. Well, allow me to make a suggestion: You should go photograph a hot air balloon festival!

Why hot air balloons? I personally enjoy their vibrant colors against the sky; it's a pleasure for me to meet the pilots, and their crew; and, last but certainly not least, it's fun to fly in them!

Some of you may be surprised that these festivals have already been happening in the winter. It should come as no surprise, though, that the number of events ramp up as the weather gets warmer. Check out www.hotairballoon.com for information of any events near you.

To be frank, I'm no master of photography, and there are bigger names photographing hot air balloons. However, these tips should still help make your first hot air balloon festival a more photographically enjoyable experience.

Note: these tips apply more for festivals based in the United States. I understand that other countries do some things differently, but many of the tips should still apply.

More days, better chances

I'm going to start with the most important tip of all. Try attending as many days as possible for the best chances of getting great photos. Hot air balloon festivals typically happen for at least two days, usually over a weekend. Larger events can span the entire week. Understandably, this can be difficult to budget time for, but the time isn't just for photos, it's also to account for weather.

To many peoples' dismay, hot air balloons cannot just fly whenever. High winds, rain, smoke, etc. can all prevent mass ascensions (many balloons flying together), and balloon glows (balloons glowing at night) from occurring. Balloon festivals play it very safe, and generally do not fly if winds are above 8 miles per hour (12.9 kph). You may be at an event that only flies once out of their allotted days.

I personally was at the Lake Havasu Balloon Festival & Fair this year when high winds canceled all six flights. Weather happens, and the more days you have, the better your chances of a successful day.

Get close

This tip is in almost every type of photography guide out there, and it still applies to balloons. Get close! I've seen so many people stand way out on the edge of the field using their cameras at the widest focal length possible. Then they pull out their smartphones, and take the same picture. C'mon, folks, you've already put so much money into a camera, why use it in the same pedestrian way as you would with your smartphone?

Get onto that field and get closer to the action.

Photograph the pilots, and the crew. Capture the detail in the balloon fabric. Witness the shadows from inside of the balloons. Do something more than just being an observer. Wide shots from the edge of the field have their place, but recognize that many other people already have that angle covered.

While being up close, be courteous, and follow pilot and crew instructions. I will list some DO NOTs that you need to heed:

  • Do not step on the balloon fabric. Just play it safe, and don't touch the balloon.
  • Do not smoke by the balloons. There have been many cases of carelessly tossed cigarettes burning holes into the fabric.
  • Do not bring pets near the balloons. There have been many cases of claws tearing the fabric.
  • Do not stand on, or cross, laying ropes. Always go around.
  • Do not peek inside of the balloon without asking crew and pilot permission first. You may be getting in the way.
  • Do not get in the way of the crew.
  • Do not stand right behind the basket when the pilot starts shooting flames. You will get crushed.
  • Do not be in the flight path during take off. Flight directors, or crew, will try to clear the area—follow their instructions.

I empathize that a list of DO NOTs doesn't give much credence that this is a fun subject to photograph. This is all about safety though, and we should all take safety seriously.

Note: some festivals actually fence observers off from the field. In that case, you need to start planning, and the next tips can help with that.

Find a prominent feature

Is there a body of water, or some cliffs near the launch field? If so, you want to keep an eye on balloons approaching those areas. Many pilots aim for these features, and you can get some of the best shots at these locations.

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At bodies of water, balloonists like to perform a "splash-and-dash" in which the pilot will touch the basket to the surface of the water, and just float there. This provides a great chance for you to get a reflection of the balloon on the water.

For cliffs, pilots like to hang around them, and just go up and down them. If a balloon has a seated pilot instead of a basket, you may find the pilot "running" along the face of the cliff. Pilots also like to fly close to the tree line, or land onto hay stacks to flex their skills. So you may find an amusing moment even if there are no significant land features.

Larger balloon festivals have flight directors. These people give the pilots the "okay" before taking off. You'll often find these flight directors wearing a uniform that stands out. Taking a photo of them can provide great contrast to the balloons.

Attend the pilot meeting

As a photographer, understanding the conditions the pilots are flying in can help for planning where you want to be. During this meeting, someone will release the "pibal" (pronounced 'pie-ball'; short for pilot balloon). It's just a typical party balloon, but it's a great indicator for how the winds above are behaving.

If, for example, the winds are blowing south, take a note of what's down there and find a place where you want to be. This information is especially useful if you plan on taking photos away from the launch field. If the mass ascension is canceled... well... go enjoy your breakfast at the nearby Denny's before everyone else floods it.

The pilot meeting is also a good place to find the opportunity to crew for a balloon which is conveniently the next tip.

Crew for a balloon, and get free flights

Volunteer to crew for a balloon, and you may just have a chance to get a free flight out of it. Commercial flights can cost anywhere from $180 USD to $450 USD, so if you can fly for free, you had better take that opportunity. Understand, though, that crewing does not always guarantee a flight. Sometimes the pilot will already have paying passengers, and you may never fly. Still, your chances are pretty decent, and a chance to fly for free is definitely better than none.

While crewing, consider having your camera on a sling so that you can use both hands freely to do your duties. If you spot a moment, take a quick snap of it, and continue your crewing. While pilots are grateful for the help, they won't sign you on again if you don't do what is asked of you.

Another incentive for crewing is free food. Many festivals cater a few meals for pilots and crew. Pilots often have tailgate parties as well. If you earn your pilot's trust, you'll likely be invited to these. Saving money is always good, right?

Fly!!!

Whether you pay for a flight or you get it for free by crewing, flying is always a great place to be for taking pictures. Flying in a hot air balloon is quite the different experience in contrast to helicopters or fixed wing aircraft. Because the balloon moves with the wind, you too are moving with the wind, so you don't really feel it at all. Some passengers find it to be a very odd sensation.

It is tempting to go wide with your shots, just don't go too wide. In my opinion, making balloons super tiny just doesn't look too good. Wide angle lens distortion is heavily pronounced on the balloons on the edges, and sometimes the simple lens profile fix isn't enough to correct it. If the pilot allows for it, bring a telephoto lens as well when you go up.

Note: weight is an issue for ballooning. Sometimes pilots won't accept a camera bag, or second lens on board to keep things as light as possible. Also, having extra objects in the basket can be a hazard.

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Although I greatly prefer the mass ascensions, balloon glows are still necessary to having the full experience. You may find photographing the balloon glows more difficult however.

Wide aperture glass is highly recommended, and higher ISO is required. You can attempt to use a long shutter time but, if there's any breeze, you will have blurry balloons. I personally don't like to cranking up the ISO so, I get close to the light sources (the balloon burners), and use ISO 1600 or less. I also greatly prefer the colors of the balloons during the day than the glow.

And go again...

If you ever want the best photos of anything, you must keep revisiting it. Sometimes we can get lucky with getting a grand slam of a photo on the first try. Between you, and I though, that rarely happens. If you enjoyed your first balloon festival, go to another one, and another one, and then the same festival again the near year.

Check out www.hotairballoon.com for finding out festival information around the world. It's by far the best resource I've come across, and I believe that you too will find it useful.

Whew, what a read, right? Since you've made it to the end, congratulations, I guess. For more examples of balloon photos, you can check out my portfolio, Instagram, and my other blog posts. I hope that you find these tips useful, and take fantastic photos at your first balloon festival!

Elliot Nahm is a Denver, CO-based photographer whose ambition is to be able to travel the world, camera in tow. His two great photographic passions are hot air balloons, and the outdoors. You can see more from Elliot on his website, Instagram, and YouTube channel.

Categories: Photo News

Kodak says over 40,000 investors are interested in its cryptocurrency

Wed, 01/31/2018 - 15:03

In a statement released today, Kodak said more than 40,000 potential investors are interested in the company's recently announced KODAKCoin Initial Coin Offering (ICO). The cryptocurrency was introduced in early January alongside the company's new KODAKOne blockchain-based image rights platform for photographers.

Of course, it's not really Kodak's cryptocurrency, just cryptocurrency with the Kodak name attached, but you can read about all that below before moving on.

Ready to move on? Okay.

The company explains that it is beginning an "accredited investor" phase for KODAKCoin that will verify the status of the investors who have expressed interest in Kodak's cryptocurrency. This won't be a rapid process, though, and Kodak expects the verification phase to take several weeks.

The company explains that an accredited investor status is dependent on the potential investor's income, requiring an individual or couple to have a net worth greater than $1 million or requiring a minimum 2-year history of income exceeding $200k a year ($300k for couples). The ICO will also be available to "select non-US persons."

In short: if you thought (or hoped) this whole Kodak Cryptocurrency thing was just a marketing stunt to help juice the stock and get people talking, it doesn't look that way.

Categories: Photo News

PolarPro unveils collection of filters and accessories for the DJI Mavic Air

Wed, 01/31/2018 - 12:32

Accessories manufacturer PolarPro has introduced new versions of its Cinema filter series for those ordering the DJI Mavic Air drone. The filters are designed to give photographers control over the shutter speed of their footage, as well as polarizing reflected light to improve color saturation.

The company has also announced it will make two cases for the drone, as well as a customizable mount for filming with the drone hand-held.

Filters

Users will be able to choose from a pack of ND filters in ND4, ND8 and ND16 strengths, or to have the filters combined with a polarizer to intensify color as well as reduce the amount of light reaching the lens.

For especially bright conditions a further pack of NDs is available in ND32 and ND64 strengths both with and without a polarizer.

The filter packs will cost $80 for the three-packs of ND and ND/PL units, and $150 for all six together. The Limited Collection of extra dense filters will be $100. For more details see the PolarPro website.

Cases

Both cases on offer have soft exteriors, with the Minimalist ($30) designed to be as compact as possible, and the Rugged ($50) designed to provide the most protection.

DJI Mavic Air Soft Case - Rugged DJI Mavic Air Soft Case - Minimalist Katana 'Tray' System

Finally, the Katana Pro Tray system allows used to clamp the Mavic Air into a set of handles so that it can be used to film at ground level and in places where drones aren’t allowed to fly. Depending on your preferred filming orientation, you can go with the standard DJI Mavic Air Tray ($50) or purchase the Air Tray/T-Grip Combo ($80) for one-handed operation and low-angle camera control.

DJI Mavic Air Tray DJI Mavic Air Tray/T-Grip Combo

To learn more about these products or pick any of them up for yourself now that the DJI Mavic Air is officially shipping, head over to the PolarPro shop to browse the entire PolarPro Mavic Air collection.

Press Release

PolarPro Announces Lens Filters and Cinematic Accessories for New DJI® Mavic Air

Consumers placing orders for the newly-release DJI Mavic Air can now preorder the PolarPro accessories to take their aerial filmmaking to the next level.

Costa Mesa, C.A. – January 30, 2018 – PolarPro, developer of products inspired by adventure, announced today it is opening preorders for its newly designed line of cinematic lens filters and purpose-built accessories for the DJI® Mavic Air. Known for producing some of the industry’s highest quality lens filters for pilots looking to maximize the cinematic aspects of their drone video, PolarPro is now offering polarized, neutral density and UV filters to help Mavic Air pilots improve overall color saturation and control shutter speed. Additionally, PolarPro’s Mavic Air line includes landing gear, handheld mounts for shooting from the ground and other workflow-streamlining accessories that have been adapted to DJI’s latest drone model. PolarPro anticipates preorders will begin to ship by early February 2018, and the full list of offerings for the Mavic Air can be found here: https://www.polarprofilters.com/collections/dji-mavic-air-filters-and-accessories.

“The new generation of consumer drones from manufacturers like DJI become more advanced every day, and though their native video capabilities are great, anyone who is looking to create videos with more cinematic qualities needs some specific tools to achieve that particular look,” said Austen Butler, VP and Co-Founder of PolarPro. “Our lineup of Mavic Air accessories includes a newly designed line of lens filters to help content creators capture the best possible footage of their adventures that stand out from the rest. We also have custom protective cases to keep their sensitive gear safe on the way to the shoot, and other camera solutions to help streamline their capture process while on location.”

PolarPro Mavic Air Lens Filters

For any drone pilot looking to ensure the best possible quality from their aerial video, no accessory is more important than a set of high quality lens filters. PolarPro offers a series of Mavic Air Filter Packs which include combinations of commonly used polarizing lenses (PL) for enhancing color saturation, UV filters for reducing haze and glare, as well as a substantial lineup of all-important neutral density (ND) filters and hybrid polarizing/ND filters for slowing shutter speeds to achieve cinematic looks.

PolarPro uses lightweight yet durable AirFrame Aluminum, producing filters that weigh just .59 grams. Combined with industry-leading HD glass and coatings for razor sharp clarity, PolarPro filters work seamlessly with the Mavic Air camera gimbal for uninhibited performance.

All PolarPro lens filters are produced in Standard Series (three pack and six pack options available) and Cinema Series (detailed below). Cinema Series filters feature production grade multi-coated glass for pilots who demand the best. PolarPro Mavic Air filters collections include:

Cinema Series Shutter Collection ($79.99): For controlling shutter speeds, includes straight ND4, ND8, and ND16 filters

Cinema Series Vivid Collection ($79.99): For controlling shutter speeds and boosting saturation, includes hybrid ND4/PL, ND8/PL, and ND16/PL filters

PolarPro Mavic Air Six Pack ($149.99): Combines the Shutter and Vivid collection in a single bundle

Cinema Series Limited Collection ($99.99): For bright light conditions, includes ND32, ND32/PL, ND64, ND64/PL filters

For more information on which PolarPro filters will fit particular pilot needs, please refer to PolarPro’s Filter Guide for the Mavic Air: https://press.polarprofilters.com/dji_mavic_air_filters/

PolarPro DJI Mavic Air Cases

With some expensive and delicate components, the Mavic Air needs to be properly protected when traveling to shooting locations or stored away in-between shoots. PolarPro has designed two Mavic Air Cases to suit the needs of most users.

Minimalist Edition ($29.99): This custom molded soft-shell case takes up the least amount of space in a pack. Featuring customizable dividers, the Minimalist Edition has space for the Mavic Air, three extra batteries, remote, charger, charging hub and filters.

Rugged Edition ($49.99): Designed with a laser cut foam insert to act as a shock absorber, the Rugged Edition snugly holds the Mavic Air, four extra batteries, remote, charger, charging hub, filters and cables. A removable shoulder strap is included for added carrying configurations.

Hand-Held PolarPro Katana Tray

The Katana Mavic Air Tray ($49.99), and even more dynamic Mavic Air Katana Pro($79.99) are essentially force multipliers for the UAV. The drone’s compact size and high-quality imaging capabilities make it a great filming platform for just about any situation, and with a little help from the PolarPro Katana it can become a powerful handheld shooting camera as well. Ideal for capturing ground-based footage, the Katana allows pilots to still shoot in no-fly zones such as national parks where drones are banned. The Katana Tray is crafted from durable glass-filled nylon and features two sturdy grips on either side of the clamping mount that holds the drone securely in position. The Katana Pro also features a T-Grip enabling one-handed and low angle camera control. Each version includes an integrated smartphone mount that lets users utilize the drone’s companion app for framing and camera controls.

For more information about these and other new PolarPro solutions for the Mavic Air, including individual anticipated ship dates, please visit: https://www.polarprofilters.com/collections/dji-mavic-air-filters-and-accessories.

Categories: Photo News

Video: The ultimate Godox studio flash guide

Wed, 01/31/2018 - 11:23

If you are confused by the massive range of flash heads produced by Chinese manufacturer Godox, you're in luck. Professional photographer Robert Hall has produced a very useful video that aims to explain the differences (and similarities) between them all.

In the video, Hall goes through the functions of five ranges of heads, points out who they are designed for, and then talks about each of the 17 models Godox produces in all, covering the features each of the heads do and don’t have. He includes an amazing amount of detail and specification, making clear what you get with each model. He even provides a spreadsheet that lists prices, output, recycle times and flash duration, as well as other features and physical characteristics.

The video has information on the DP, SK, QS, GS and QT studio and portable heads, and if you can’t take all the information in quickly enough Hall has written a lot of it in the video’s description.

Categories: Photo News

Zion National Park clarifies controversial tripod restrictions

Wed, 01/31/2018 - 10:50
Photo by Jeremy Bishop

A few weeks ago, Zion National Park published its 2018 Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) for photography workshops, and found in its "Unauthorized Use" section on public use obstruction was a troubling note: The use of tripods on trails is prohibited by permittees or clients (monopods are authorized).

Restricting such a vital piece of gear would be fatal to most photography workshops operating in the park, and operators were quick to criticize the decision.

Speaking anonymously to DPReview, one photography workshop operator and permit holder explained how such a restriction would impact their workshop, saying, "I will be forced to cease all commercial workshops in Zion National Park ... [by] enforcing this rule, they are essentially saying that they don't want commercial photography workshops in their park."

In light of the criticism, Zion National Park officials reassessed the tripod restriction and have since issued a clarification to workshop operators via an email sent Monday. In the email, officials said that "misleading information" had been spread earlier this month on social media about the matter, and that commercial photography workshops aren't entirely banned from using tripods.

Rather, according to a copy of the email published by Fstoppers, commercial photography workshop participants are allowed to use tripods on road-side pullouts and in other designated park areas. Tripod usage is restricted on park trails, however, due to the size of these groups and the potential safety issues, trail congestion, and environmental effects they pose.

The email states, in part:

Large groups concentrated in one place can result in trampling of vegetation, soil erosion, widening of formal trails, and impact other visitors' experience of the natural views and soundscapes along these trails.

In order to reduce roadway safety concerns for all photographers on the Canyon Junction Road Bridge, the use of tripods on the Pa'rus Trail will soon be added to the 2018 conditions of use for Commercial Photography Workshops. Otherwise, the conditions of use for commercial photography workshops are unchanged from 2017.

Per the 2018 Zion National Park CUA, photography workshops may have up to 12 participants, plus up to two instructors, allowing for up to 14 individuals total per group.

Categories: Photo News

Steven Soderbergh shot his latest movie entirely on the iPhone, calls it a 'gamechanger'

Wed, 01/31/2018 - 09:11

We've seen plenty of film makers shooting movies on an Apple iPhone in the past. However, director Steven Soderbergh—whose filmography includes movies such as Erin Brockovich, Traffic, and Ocean’s Eleven—is arguably the highest-profile iPhone movie makers yet.

His latest project, the psychological horror-thriller Unsane, was shot entirely on the iPhone, and Soderbergh wasn't afraid to admit (and embrace) that fact when speaking to IndieWire.

“I think this is the future,” Soderbergh said. “Anybody going to see this movie who has no idea of the backstory to the production will have no idea this was shot on the phone. That’s not part of the conceit."

In fact, the director was so impressed by the iPhone's movie capabilities and the recorded levels of detail, that he is likely to also use the Apple smartphone for future projects. “People forget, this is a 4k capture. I’ve seen it 40 feet tall. It looks like velvet," he told IndieWire. "This is a gamechanger to me.”

We don't know which exact iPhone model(s) Soderbergh used in the production of the movie, but it's fair to speculate that the latest iPhone X/iPhone 8 generation was deployed in combination with all sorts of professional lighting, audio and stabilization equipment.

By the way, in case you're curious, the movie's synopsis is the following:

A young woman is involuntarily committed to a mental institution where she is confronted by her greatest fear – but is it real or is it a product of her delusion?

You can find more information about the movie on its website and view the trailer at the top of this page.

Categories: Photo News

Photographing in Daulatdia: The world's largest brothel town

Wed, 01/31/2018 - 07:45
The location

Daulatdia is a brothel town Bangladesh and is considered the biggest in the world. The number of prostitutes there is estimate at 1,600 and the average age of new arrivals is 14. Most women and girls that end up in this shanty town brothel are trafficked from remote parts of Bangladesh and are slaves to the brothel owners that buy them from the traffickers.

Daulatdia is located on the side of the Padma river, the Bangladeshi part of the Ganges, where ferries carrying trucks, buses and people across the river. Lines of trucks queue to cross the river toward Dhaka and the drivers are the target clientele of the brothel.

There is no luxury for the prostitutes. Simple food is cooked on clay stoves fueled by wood in a common area between shacks. How did I come to be there

After 15 years of photographing in South & South East Asia, I decided that it was time to give back by donating my time and skills and offering two weeks of free photography a year to an aid organization working in a deprived area. I thought it would be fitting, as some of my income is generated from photographing in these “third world” environments.

I am based in New Zealand, so I got in touch with an umbrella organization there (The Council of International Development) and gave member organizations a couple of months deadline to submit proposals for my work. Fast-forward several months, and I found myself in Daulatdia on behalf of Save the Children, to cover the school that they support and the environment it is situated in.

The school is for the children born in the brothel. In the past they had no school to go to because of their association to the brothel. The school offers a way out for many of the children, especially the girls, who are pressured to join the “work force.” An education gives them options to escape that life.

The door way is used to frame the girl (15 years old). I had no choice in the matter, as the shack was so small that the door would not open any farther. Better looking prostitutes make more money, hence their madam will give them a bit more money to decorate their shack and make it a more pleasant place to live. This image was taken with the camera against my hip with eye focus and silent shutter. The horizon is slightly off due to this technique. Photographing in Daulatdia

I prepared myself as well as I could for this experience, but the reality on the ground is far sadder then I imagined. I wanted to capture as much as possible but the freedom to photograph, as per a usual documentary assignment, is limited when you work for a child-focused NGO.

A big part of my documentary images are taken while people are not aware that they are being photographed. The reason is that I want to document them without affecting the scene and behavior by waving a big camera in their faces (for technic tips please refer to my previous article).

Babies and toddlers will be put under the bed while the mother is working, while older kids will be sent out of the room. From a technical point of view, I made sure that I had the lit window shutter in the frame to balance the scene.

But on this assignment, all the images of women and girls inside the brothel had to have consent, for two good reasons:

  1. Save the Children staff have an on going relation within the brothel, and I did not want to jeopardize that.
  2. These women and girls have had every thing taken from them, and I did not want to add to this by taking away their power to say no to being photographed. I had to be invited into the small shacks that the women and girls live and work in, and had very limited time to shoot.

I was escorted by Save the Children staff almost like body guards in side the complex but never really felt under threat.

So, whenever possible, I used the Sony a7R II's eye autofocus and silent shutter while holding the the camera off my eye at about chest hight or to the side of my hip. This way, even with the subject well aware of my presence, they did not know when I was shooting. This allowed me to get less guarded moments. Other wise I used very simple portraiture composition. I did not position or direct people. I just captured what in-front of me.

Daulatdia is a hard place, and displays of emotion are not easy to come by. I wanted to ask if I can take a photo, but the moment of tenderness came before I could, so I took the old school "shoot-first-ask-later" approach. The average age of new arrivals at Daulatdia is 14 years old.

Technically, this is a very simple image. It was shot with my camera against my hip and eye focus, hence the severe angle, which is the price of not looking through the viewfinder or at the camera at all.

The story, however, is in the details. This new arrival is in a bare room with a simple bed. The buckets under her bed are the toilet, bath and food preparation gear. This is the face of a girl looking at a life with no choices or hope. When she has finished paying off “her buying price” one day in the far future, she will have nowhere to go. The Gear

About a week before I left for Bangladesh, I switched to the Sony a7R II. Not the wisest decision at one level, and a very wise decision on another. The not-wise part is that the camera was completely new to me, which is not the best when going into a technically and mentally challenging assignment.

The wise part? Keep on reading.

I had a bunch of Sony native lenses but mostly used the 16-35mm F4 and the GM 24-70mm F2.8. I really enjoyed using both but would prefer the 24-70mm F4 for its compact size. It makes photographing in this type of environment easier. The reason I chose to stick to zoom lenses, rather then switching primes constantly, is that the time frame I had for each shoot was extremely tight and changing lenses would ‘eat’ into the time given.

The two a7R II's I used were just the right stuff for this type of work. Setting all the custom buttons to do what I needed saved me from getting into the overwhelming menu, the auto focus capabilities were very impressive, and the Eye Autofocus made shooting with a camera away from my eye easy and accurate.

One thing that I am almost too embarrassed to admit is my love for the EVF. Setting the EVF effects on let me focus on composition and timing, and removed the need to look at the bottom or side of the frame for exposure information.

Does it make me a lazy photographer? Maybe, but I will take any technological advantage I can if it'll help me get the job done.

The shacks that the women and girls work in is also their ‘home’. The Pokemon pattern-covered bed will be used later that day for work.

This image was taken with the camera against my chest, using eye focus and silent shutter. This way, I could capture a somewhat unguarded moment while standing in front of them. Final Thoughts

Daulatdia represents both sides of humanity. It is a place where people are commodities and are traded for money with no self-determination; on the other hand, it has drawn to it very dedicated people that help with free health-care and education, trying to make the best of a place of very little hope.

Giora Dan is an internationally published documentary and commercial photographer based in Christchurch New Zealand. His images have been widely published in geographical magazines in North America, Europe, Africa and the Asia/ Pacific region, including NZ Geographic, the Smithsonian Magazine and British Geographical. You can see more of his work at his website, www.gioradan.com

Categories: Photo News

Fujifilm's new X-A5 adds phase-detect AF and 4K video capture

Tue, 01/30/2018 - 21:00
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Fujifilm has introduced its budget-friendly X-A5 mirrorless camera – the follow-up to the X-A3. The 24MP APS-C sensor (which uses the traditional Bayer color filter, rather than X-Trans) X-A5 appears to address the weak spots of its predecessor, namely sluggish performance and a so-so autofocus system. The updated processor on the X-A5 is 1.5x times faster, according to Fujifilm, and its phase-detect AF system should do a better job with subject tracking.

Fujifilm boasts of better scene recognition and color/skin tone reproduction, and battery life has increased to an impressive 450 shots/charge (CIPA standard). The X-A5 also has Bluetooth for easy pairing and image transfer, up to 5 minutes of 4K video capture (albeit at 15 fps) and two new Advanced Filters: Fog Remove and HDR Art. A jack for an external microphone has also been added.

The X-A5 will be bundled with the new XC 15-45mm F3.5-5.6 OIS Power Zoom lens for $599 and will begin shipping in early February. Color choices include silver & black, silver & brown and silver & pink.

Press Release:

FUJIFILM ANNOUNCES THE NEW X-A5 – THE LIGHTEST CAMERA-ZOOM LENS COMBINATION IN THE X SERIES LINEUP

Featuring an enhanced sensor, newly developed zoom lens, the latest Bluetooth® technology, and 4K video recording, the X-A5 delivers outstanding image quality and ease of use

Valhalla, N.Y., January 31, 2018 FUJIFILM North America Corporation is excited to announce the new FUJIFILM X-A5 Digital Camera Body with XC15-45mm Lens Kit, the lightest camera-zoom lens combination within the X Series lineup. With a host of new and improved features, the X-A5 kit debuts the new FUJINON XC15-45mmF3.5-5.6 OIS PZ, the first electric powered zoom lens for X Mount digital cameras. Available in three colors of synthetic leather, the X-A5 is equipped with the latest Bluetooth® technology for quick and easy image transfer and allows for a broader range of video capabilities with its 4K output.

“The X-A5 packs Fujifilm’s renowned image quality and exciting fun features in a compact, lightweight body,” says Yuji Igarashi, General Manager of the Electronic Imaging Division & Optical Devices Division at FUJIFILM North America Corporation. “We are excited to bring a user-friendly camera that can capture great images, to the market at an affordable price.”

Featuring an Enhanced Sensor and Color Reproduction Technology

The X-A5 features a powerful 24.2MP APS-C sensor equipped with phase detection autofocus and a newly developed image processing engine with a processing speed 1.5 times faster than that of previous models. Combined with Fujifilm’s renowned color reproduction technology, the X-A5 achieves outstanding image quality and outperforms previous models in its scene recognition accuracy and skin tone reproduction, making it perfect for portraits.

The X-A5 is the first in the X-A series to feature phase detection pixels, and an intelligent Hybrid AF system that focuses twice as fast as previous models to ensure capture of swiftly moving subjects. With an ISO sensitivity range now up to ISO12800 and extended sensitivity range up to ISO51200, camera shake and noise are significantly reduced even in low-light conditions.

New Compact and Lightweight Electric Powered Zoom Lens

The new X-A5 introduces the first electric powered zoom lens for X Mount cameras, the FUJINON XC15-45mmF3.5-5.6 OIS PZ. With a minimum working distance of just 2 inches, this lightweight and compact lens is great for achieving clear close-up shots while making the photographic experience easy and comfortable. Capable of capturing crisp, intricate textures, the XC15-45mmF3.5-5.6 OIS PZ is ideal for food and macro photography. Starting at a wide angle, this smooth electric-powered zoom also allows for great freedom in composition framing.

The new XC15-45mmF3.5-5.6 OIS PZ lens will also be available for standalone purchase as a portable addition for existing X Series users.

Equipped with 4K Video Capabilities

The X-A5 features a variety of 4K video capabilities. Utilizing the Burst Function, users are able to shoot 15 frames per second in 4K image quality, ensuring that photo opportunities are never missed. Offering an HD video function to record videos up to quad speed for slow motion clips and a Multi Focus Mode which stacks 4K quality images and automatically changes the depth of field setting, the X-A5 is the perfect companion for a wide range of creative captures.

Bluetooth® Pairing Technology for Easy Image Transfer

Featuring the latest Bluetooth® technology, the X-A5 allows for automatic transfer of images and videos to paired smart devices using the free “FUJIFILM Camera Remote” app. The camera is compatible with Instax Share™ Printers to instantly transfer and print images directly from the camera.

Film Simulation Modes and Improved User Interface for Ease of Operation

The X-A5 allows for artistic expression through Fujifilm’s unique Film Simulation Modes that boast the company’s advances in color reproduction. Offering eleven different modes, users can add a creative twist to their images. In addition, the camera offers seventeen variations of Advanced Filters including the new “Fog Remove” and “HDR Art.”

An improved user interface allows for superior ease of use. The large LCD screen uses new touch-panel GUI, facilitating intuitive operation and is capable of rotating 180 degrees, making the X-A5 perfect for taking high quality self-portraits. When the panel is rotated 180 degrees, the Rear Command Dial switches to the Zoom and Shutter Release function and automatically activates the Eye AF function for sharp focus on the subject’s eyes. Additionally, the Portrait Enhancer Mode allows for users to select from three levels of skin tone enhancement with easy touchscreen operation.

FUJIFILM X-A5 Key Features:

  • 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor and newly developed processor equipped with phase detection AF system
  • FUJINON XC15-45mmF3.5- 5.6 OIS PZ wide angle electric-powered zoom lens with minimum working distance of 2”
  • 3” (approx. 1,040K-dot) high resolution LCD touchscreen using new touch-panel GUI can be tilted to 180°
    • Portrait Enhancement Level, Touch AF in Movie Mode, Advanced Filter Select
  • Standard output sensitivity of ISO200 – ISO12800
    • Extended output sensitivity: ISO100 – ISO51200
  • 4K video recording up to approx. 5 mins
    • Full HD 1920 x 1080 59.94p / 50p / 24p / 23.98p; continuous recording up to approx.14 mins
    • HD 1280 x 720 59.94p / 50p / 24p / 23.98p; continuous recording up to approx. 27 mins
    • High Speed Movie 1280x720 1.6x / 2x / 3.3x / 4x
  • Bluetooth® version 4.1 low energy technology
  • In-camera RAW processing
  • New Advanced Filters: “Fog Remove” and “HDR Art”
  • Wi-Fi® image transfer and remote camera operation
  • Improved battery life for still images - approx. 450 frames
  • Improved start-up period:
    • 0.4 sec., when High Performance mode set to ON
    • 0.8 sec., when High Performance mode set to OFF
  • Photos can be sent to instax SHARE printers using the free instax SHARE App (iOS and Android)
  • Accessories include:
    • Li-ion battery NP-W126S
    • AC power adapter
    • Plug adapter
    • USB cable
    • Shoulder strap
    • Body cap
    • Owner's manual

Availability and Pricing

The new FUJIFILM X-A5 Camera Kit will be available on February 8, 2018 in the U.S. and Canada for USD $599.95 and CAD $749.99.

The new standalone XC15-45mmF3.5- 5.6 OIS PZ Lens will be available on March 15, 2018 in the U.S. and Canada for USD $299.95 and CAD $379.99.

Fujifilm X-A5 specifications PriceMSRP$599 (with 15-45mm PZ lens)Body typeBody typeRangefinder-style mirrorlessSensorMax resolution6000 x 4000Image ratio w:h1:1, 3:2, 16:9Effective pixels24 megapixelsSensor sizeAPS-C (23.5 x 15.7 mm)Sensor typeCMOSColor spacesRGB, Adobe RGBColor filter arrayPrimary color filterImageISOAuto, 200-12800 (expandable to 100-51200)Boosted ISO (minimum)100Boosted ISO (maximum)51200White balance presets7Custom white balanceYes (3 slots)Image stabilizationNoUncompressed formatRAWJPEG quality levelsFine, NormalFile format
  • JPEG (Exif Ver 2.3)
  • RAW (Fujifilm RAF format)
Optics & FocusAutofocus
  • Contrast Detect (sensor)
  • Phase Detect
  • Multi-area
  • Center
  • Selective single-point
  • Tracking
  • Single
  • Continuous
  • Touch
  • Face Detection
  • Live View
Autofocus assist lampYesDigital zoomYesManual focusYesNumber of focus points91Lens mountFujifilm XFocal length multiplier1.5×Screen / viewfinderArticulated LCDTiltingScreen size3″Screen dots1,040,000Touch screenYesScreen typeTFT LCDLive viewYesViewfinder typeNonePhotography featuresMinimum shutter speed30 secMaximum shutter speed1/4000 secMaximum shutter speed (electronic)1/32000 secExposure modes
  • Program AE
  • Shutter Priority
  • Aperture Priority
  • Manual
Built-in flashYesFlash range5.70 m (at ISO 200)External flashYesFlash modesAuto, flash on, flash off, slow synchro, rear-curtain synchro, commanderFlash X sync speed1/180 secDrive modes
  • Single
  • Continuous
  • Self-timer
Continuous drive6.0 fpsSelf-timerYes (2 or 10 secs)Metering modes
  • Multi
  • Average
  • Spot
Exposure compensation±5 (at 1/3 EV steps)AE Bracketing±3 (3 frames at 1/3 EV, 2/3 EV, 1 EV steps)WB BracketingYesVideography featuresResolutions3840 x 2160 (15p), 1920 x 1080 (60, 50, 24, 23.98p), 1280 x 720 (60p, 50p, 24p, 23.98p)FormatMPEG-4, H.264MicrophoneStereoSpeakerMonoStorageStorage typesSD/SDHC/SDXC card (UHS-I supported)ConnectivityUSB USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)USB chargingYesHDMIYes (mini-HDMI)Microphone portYesHeadphone portNoWirelessBuilt-InWireless notes802.11b/g/n + Bluetooth 4.1 LERemote controlYes (Wired or via smartphone)PhysicalEnvironmentally sealedNoBatteryBattery PackBattery descriptionNP-W126S lithium-ion battery & USB chargerBattery Life (CIPA)450Weight (inc. batteries)361 g (0.80 lb / 12.73 oz)Dimensions117 x 68 x 40 mm (4.61 x 2.68 x 1.57″)Other featuresOrientation sensorYesTimelapse recordingYesGPSNone
Categories: Photo News

Fujifilm introduces XC 15-45mm F3.5-5.6 lens, its first X-series power zoom

Tue, 01/30/2018 - 21:00
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Fujifilm has announced its first power zoom lens for X-series cameras: the XC 15-45mm F3.5-5.6 OIS PZ. This compact, stabilized lens is equivalent to 23-69mm on Fuji's X-series cameras, such as the new X-A5 with which it will be kitted. It has a minimum focus distance of 5 cm, a length of 44mm (1.7") when fully collapsed and a weight of just 136 g (4.8 oz).

The XC 15-45mm F3.5-5.6 OIS PZ comes in silver and black and will ship in early February for $299.

Press Release:

FUJIFILM ANNOUNCES THE NEW X-A5 – THE LIGHTEST CAMERA-ZOOM LENS COMBINATION IN THE X SERIES LINEUP

Featuring an enhanced sensor, newly developed zoom lens, the latest Bluetooth® technology, and 4K video recording, the X-A5 delivers outstanding image quality and ease of use

Valhalla, N.Y., January 31, 2018 FUJIFILM North America Corporation is excited to announce the new FUJIFILM X-A5 Digital Camera Body with XC15-45mm Lens Kit, the lightest camera-zoom lens combination within the X Series lineup. With a host of new and improved features, the X-A5 kit debuts the new FUJINON XC15-45mmF3.5-5.6 OIS PZ, the first electric powered zoom lens for X Mount digital cameras. Available in three colors of synthetic leather, the X-A5 is equipped with the latest Bluetooth® technology for quick and easy image transfer and allows for a broader range of video capabilities with its 4K output.

“The X-A5 packs Fujifilm’s renowned image quality and exciting fun features in a compact, lightweight body,” says Yuji Igarashi, General Manager of the Electronic Imaging Division & Optical Devices Division at FUJIFILM North America Corporation. “We are excited to bring a user-friendly camera that can capture great images, to the market at an affordable price.”

Featuring an Enhanced Sensor and Color Reproduction Technology

The X-A5 features a powerful 24.2MP APS-C sensor equipped with phase detection autofocus and a newly developed image processing engine with a processing speed 1.5 times faster than that of previous models. Combined with Fujifilm’s renowned color reproduction technology, the X-A5 achieves outstanding image quality and outperforms previous models in its scene recognition accuracy and skin tone reproduction, making it perfect for portraits.

The X-A5 is the first in the X-A series to feature phase detection pixels, and an intelligent Hybrid AF system that focuses twice as fast as previous models to ensure capture of swiftly moving subjects. With an ISO sensitivity range now up to ISO12800 and extended sensitivity range up to ISO51200, camera shake and noise are significantly reduced even in low-light conditions.

New Compact and Lightweight Electric Powered Zoom Lens

The new X-A5 introduces the first electric powered zoom lens for X Mount cameras, the FUJINON XC15-45mmF3.5-5.6 OIS PZ. With a minimum working distance of just 2 inches, this lightweight and compact lens is great for achieving clear close-up shots while making the photographic experience easy and comfortable. Capable of capturing crisp, intricate textures, the XC15-45mmF3.5-5.6 OIS PZ is ideal for food and macro photography. Starting at a wide angle, this smooth electric-powered zoom also allows for great freedom in composition framing.

The new XC15-45mmF3.5-5.6 OIS PZ lens will also be available for standalone purchase as a portable addition for existing X Series users.

Equipped with 4K Video Capabilities

The X-A5 features a variety of 4K video capabilities. Utilizing the Burst Function, users are able to shoot 15 frames per second in 4K image quality, ensuring that photo opportunities are never missed. Offering an HD video function to record videos up to quad speed for slow motion clips and a Multi Focus Mode which stacks 4K quality images and automatically changes the depth of field setting, the X-A5 is the perfect companion for a wide range of creative captures.

Bluetooth® Pairing Technology for Easy Image Transfer

Featuring the latest Bluetooth® technology, the X-A5 allows for automatic transfer of images and videos to paired smart devices using the free “FUJIFILM Camera Remote” app. The camera is compatible with Instax Share™ Printers to instantly transfer and print images directly from the camera.

Film Simulation Modes and Improved User Interface for Ease of Operation

The X-A5 allows for artistic expression through Fujifilm’s unique Film Simulation Modes that boast the company’s advances in color reproduction. Offering eleven different modes, users can add a creative twist to their images. In addition, the camera offers seventeen variations of Advanced Filters including the new “Fog Remove” and “HDR Art.”

An improved user interface allows for superior ease of use. The large LCD screen uses new touch-panel GUI, facilitating intuitive operation and is capable of rotating 180 degrees, making the X-A5 perfect for taking high quality self-portraits. When the panel is rotated 180 degrees, the Rear Command Dial switches to the Zoom and Shutter Release function and automatically activates the Eye AF function for sharp focus on the subject’s eyes. Additionally, the Portrait Enhancer Mode allows for users to select from three levels of skin tone enhancement with easy touchscreen operation.

FUJIFILM X-A5 Key Features:

  • 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor and newly developed processor equipped with phase detection AF system
  • FUJINON XC15-45mmF3.5- 5.6 OIS PZ wide angle electric-powered zoom lens with minimum working distance of 2”
  • 3” (approx. 1,040K-dot) high resolution LCD touchscreen using new touch-panel GUI can be tilted to 180°
    • Portrait Enhancement Level, Touch AF in Movie Mode, Advanced Filter Select
  • Standard output sensitivity of ISO200 – ISO12800
    • Extended output sensitivity: ISO100 – ISO51200
  • 4K video recording up to approx. 5 mins
    • Full HD 1920 x 1080 59.94p / 50p / 24p / 23.98p; continuous recording up to approx.14 mins
    • HD 1280 x 720 59.94p / 50p / 24p / 23.98p; continuous recording up to approx. 27 mins
    • High Speed Movie 1280x720 1.6x / 2x / 3.3x / 4x
  • Bluetooth® version 4.1 low energy technology
  • In-camera RAW processing
  • New Advanced Filters: “Fog Remove” and “HDR Art”
  • Wi-Fi® image transfer and remote camera operation
  • Improved battery life for still images - approx. 450 frames
  • Improved start-up period:
    • 0.4 sec., when High Performance mode set to ON
    • 0.8 sec., when High Performance mode set to OFF
  • Photos can be sent to instax SHARE printers using the free instax SHARE App (iOS and Android)
  • Accessories include:
    • Li-ion battery NP-W126S
    • AC power adapter
    • Plug adapter
    • USB cable
    • Shoulder strap
    • Body cap
    • Owner's manual

Availability and Pricing

The new FUJIFILM X-A5 Camera Kit will be available on February 8, 2018 in the U.S. and Canada for USD $599.95 and CAD $749.99.

The new standalone XC15-45mmF3.5- 5.6 OIS PZ Lens will be available on March 15, 2018 in the U.S. and Canada for USD $299.95 and CAD $379.99.

Fujifilm XC 15-45mm F3.5-5.6 OIS PZ lens Principal specificationsLens typeZoom lensMax Format sizeAPS-C / DXFocal length15–45 mmImage stabilizationYesCIPA Image stabilization rating3 stop(s)Lens mountFujifilm XApertureMaximum apertureF3.5–5.6Minimum apertureF22Aperture ringNoNumber of diaphragm blades7OpticsElements10Groups9Special elements / coatings3 aspherical + 2 ED elementsFocusMinimum focus0.13 m (5.12″)Maximum magnification0.24×AutofocusYesMotor typeStepper motorFull time manualNoFocus methodInternalDistance scaleNoDoF scaleNoFocus distance limiterNoPhysicalWeight136 g (0.30 lb)Diameter63 mm (2.48″)Length44 mm (1.73″)SealingNoColourBlack, silverZoom methodRotary (extending)Power zoomYesZoom lockNoFilter thread52 mmHood suppliedNoTripod collarNo
Categories: Photo News

Full-frame showdown: Nikon D850 vs Canon 5D IV vs Sony a7R III

Tue, 01/30/2018 - 13:10

Dan and Sally Watson over at Learning Cameras recently put together a really useful comparison video that pits the Sony, Canon, and Nikon fanboys against each other in a series of real-world tests. Shooting with the Sony a7R III, Canon 5D Mark IV, and Nikon D850, Dan and Sally ran the cameras through a variety of tests that cover everything from skin tones, to low light, to dynamic range, to autofocus tracking and more.

We'll let you dive into the full 20-minute video if you want to see all of the comparisons for yourself, but one that we found particularly interesting—maybe because it confirmed our own tests—was the autofocus tracking comparison.

The Sony and Canon were shot in Auto AF area mode—Sony at 8 fps with live view, Canon and Nikon at 7 fps—and Dan and Sally found pretty much what we did. At 8 fps live view, the a7R III sometimes just goes out-of-focus then snaps back, Canon's iTR can be very jumpy, and Nikon's 3D tracking is more or less perfect. For what it's worth (since Dan and Sally didn't test this) in our tests, the Sony performed more consistently at 10fps without live view.

For the full breakdown, check out the video for yourself above—it gets the DPReview stamp of approval for being both entertaining and informative. And if you want to see more from Learning Cameras, you can follow the channel on YouTube, or catch Dan on Facebook and Instagram.

Categories: Photo News

Reuters photographers banned from Olympic opening ceremony over leaked photos

Tue, 01/30/2018 - 10:55

Reuters is in hot water with the IOC and PyeongChang Winter Olympics organizing committee after the news agency broadcast several images of the olympic cauldron being lit during an opening ceremony rehearsal this past weekend. The lapse—highly uncharacteristic for a major news agency with decades of experience respecting image embargoes—has gotten Reuters banned from covering the Opening Ceremony.

The news broke through the Yonhap News Agency, who is reporting that Reuters pulled the photos after the IOC and PyeongChang organizers complained.

However, as the damage had already been done, the IOC has decided to punish Reuters all the same, revoking the agency's media accreditation for the Opening Ceremony on Friday, February 9th. Furthermore, the Reuters photographer who took the leaked photos has been banned from covering the games altogether.

The PyeongChang organizing committee wants to make it clear that violating Olympic media embargoes is being taken very seriously, telling Yonhap that it will "enforce strong penalties on media companies and their reporters who disobey embargoes of the opening and closing ceremonies."

Categories: Photo News

Verizon follows AT&T, drops Huawei smartphones

Tue, 01/30/2018 - 09:58

A couple of weeks ago, AT&T decided not to carry any handsets from Chinese smartphone maker after pressure from lawmakers over security concerns. Now, according to sources at Bloomberg, Verizon is following AT&T's lead by dropping Huawei from its catalog.

Just like AT&T, the government is reportedly urging the move to end any collaboration with Huawei on standards for a 5G network in the US. "The next wave of wireless communication has enormous economic and national security implications," said Michael Wessel of a US-China security review commission. "China's participation in setting the standards and selling the equipment raises many national security issues that demand strict and prompt attention."

It appears the government's security concerns over Chinese spying through telecommunications infrastructure will likely delay the implementation of 5G technology in the US. Both AT&T and Verizon plan to roll out 5G networks this year, but now won't be able to offer Huawei devices, which will likely be the first smartphones to support the new standard.

Categories: Photo News

A strange shootout: $5,000 Zeiss Otus 28mm F1.4 vs $4,250 Leica Q

Tue, 01/30/2018 - 09:14

PhotoShelter founder and CEO Allen Murabayashi recently decided to pit two unlikely competitors against each other. In a short, unscientific comparison review, Murabayashi wanted to see how the $5,000 Zeiss Otus 28mm F1.4 lens stacked up against the almost-as-expensive $4,250 Leica Q, which sports a fixed 28mm F1.7 lens.

When you consider the identical focal lengths and "must have deep pockets" price tags, the shootout almost makes sense—so Allen slapped the Otus on a Nikon D850 and went out shooting with both cameras. And despite the fact that Allen admits "it’s impossible to make a straight apples to apples comparison" when it comes to image quality—given the D850's 45MP resolution compared to the 24MP Leica Q—he was still able to draw a pithy conclusion about who the Otus is made for, and why you might choose the Leica Q instead:

You can certainly make the argument that a 45MP sensor needs great glass, and in this regard, the Otus delivers the goods. But the slow operation of the lens turns a pretty great digital camera into something more like a large format camera.

If you like “slow” photography and have deep pockets, the Otus might be for you. If you just have deep pockets (and a bad back), stick with the Leica.

For a bit more depth, or if you want to check out some side-by-side comparison shots from PhotoShelter's testing, watch the video above or check out the full written comparison on the PhotoShelter Blog.

Categories: Photo News

Apple iPhone X review

Tue, 01/30/2018 - 07:13

DPReview smartphone reviews are written with the needs of photographers in mind. We focus on camera features, performance, and image quality.

The iPhone X is the newest flagship phone from Apple. It comes with twin optically stabilized 12MP rear cameras, a 7MP front-facing camera with 'TrueDepth' technology, artificial background blur and specialized lighting effects, DNG Raw file capture, and of course is otherwise a highly capable and extremely speedy mobile device.

And it should be, given the asking price: at an MSRP of $999, the iPhone X (pronounced iPhone Ten, which I'll admit I'm still getting used to) is priced comfortably higher than many of its current competitors that also come with an emphasis on photographic prowess.

Out-of-camera JPEG in HDR mode.
ISO 20 | 1/229 sec | F1.8
Photo by Carey Rose

As with just about every modern high-end smartphone, the results of the picture-taking process on the iPhone are as much about clever software tricks as they are about the hardware. With the software and hardware combined, does the iPhone X truly offer image quality comparable to so-called 'real cameras?' Is artificial background blur driving the final nails into the interchangeable-lens camera coffin?

Of course, the answer isn't all that simple, and depends an awful lot on the preferences of the user behind the lens. But let's dive in and take a look at what Apple's latest smartphone shooter is capable of.

Key Photographic / Video Specifications
  • Dual 12MP sensors
  • 28/56mm equivalent focal lengths
  • F1.8/2.4 aperture
  • On-sensor phase detection
  • Quad-LED flash
  • DNG Raw capture and manual control with 3rd party apps
  • 4K video at 60 fps
  • 1080p 120/240fps slow-motion video
  • 7MP front-facing 'TrueDepth' camera with F2.2 aperture
Other Specifications
  • 5.8-inch, 2436x1125 OLED
  • Apple A11 Fusion chipset
  • 3GB RAM
  • 64/256GB storage
  • 2,716mAh battery
  • Wireless charging (Qi compatible)
Categories: Photo News

*Updated* Adobe is preparing a major Lightroom Classic performance update, and we got to try it

Tue, 01/30/2018 - 06:46

This article has been updated to include results from a 2015 quad-core Apple MacBook Pro.

Adobe Lightroom Classic users have been pining for a serious performance update for ages—even Adobe admitted that Lightroom performance was lackluster, and improving it was 'top priority.' Well, it looks like 'top priority' is going to pay off very soon.

Late last week, Adobe told DPReview that it has a significant Lightroom Classic performance update in the works. The update—which is "coming soon"—is supposed to improve performance across the board for anybody using a multi-core machine with at least 12GB of RAM. Or, in Adobe's own words:

In this upcoming Lightroom Classic 7.2 release, we were able to make significant strides with our partners at Intel on addressing key performance issues. We have optimized CPU and memory usage so that performance will scale better across multiple cores on computers with at least 12 GB of RAM.

Adobe claims the update will result in:

  • Faster import and preview generation
  • Faster walking of images in the Loupe View
  • Faster rendering of adjustments in Develop
  • Faster batch merge operations of HDR/Panos
  • Faster export

The company's own benchmarks back up this claim in a big way. Adobe shared these results with DPReview, revealing substantially improved export times between the current v7.1 and the upcoming v7.2.

Adobe Export Test

Adobe tested the new build on three machines:

  1. A 10-core iMac Pro with 32GB of 2666MHz DDR4 RAM, a 3GHz Intel Xeon W processor, AMD Radeon Pro Vega 64 graphics card with 16GB of RAM.
  2. An 8-core Windows 10 PC with 64GB of 2400MHz DDR4 RAM, a 3.2GHz Intel Xeon E5-1660 processor, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card with 8GB of RAM.
  3. A 10-core Windows 10 PC with 64GB of 2400MHz DDR4 RAM, a 2.9GHz Intel Core i9 7960X processor, and an Nvidia Quodro P2000 graphics card

Each of the three showed significant speed improvements when exporting 100 heavily edited Raw files as either full-resolution JPEGs or full-resolution DNGs:

  • The 10-core iMac Pro exported JPEGs 29.5% faster and DNGs 43.7% faster
  • The 8-core Windows 10 PC exported JPEGs 32.5% faster and DNGs 32.4% faster
  • The 10-core Windows 10 PC exported JPEGs 48.3% faster and DNGs 64.7% faster

Additionally, while subsequent tests of the current version got slower and slower on the Windows, version 7.2 fixes this problem. In other words: Lightroom Classic will no longer slow down over the course of a long editing session on Windows machines.

Our own tests also showed a noticeable speed boost when it came to exporting files, and a massive increase in performance on import. Adobe gave us early access to the new build, and we tested it alongside the current version of Lightroom Classic CC twice. We ran an initial export test on a 2016 13-inch MacBook Pro, with 16GB Ram and a 3.3GHz dual-core i7 processor running macOS 10.12.6, and found a modest but still significant speed improvement of around 11%.

After speaking to Adobe's technical experts, we then conducted a follow-up import and export test on a Mid-2015 15-inch MacBook Pro. Specifically, a Retina model with a 2.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, 16GB of RAM, and Intel Iris 5200 Pro graphics card. It's not exactly in the same class as the 8+ core powerhouses that Adobe seems to have lying around, but it's arguably closer to the average setup for an enthusiast or semi-professional photographer. Also, despite being an older machine, we knew that according to Adobe, more cores would give us a better chance of seeing some serious performance gains.

As such, these results replace our earlier published figures.

DPReview Import Test (2015 Quad-core MacBook Pro)

When importing 130 Raw files from the Fujifilm X-T2 (7.6GB in total) and building "Standard" previews, we saw a major performance boost in LR Classic CC 7.2 on our quad-core 2015 MacBook Pro. Roughly 80%, in fact.

  • LR 7.1 - 4:05 (245 seconds)
  • LR 7.2 - 50 seconds
DPReview Export Test (2015 Quad-core MacBook Pro)

When exporting the same 130 Raw files as JPEGs (quality level 80, Adobe RGB), after heavy edits (including exposure, shadow/highlight adjustment, lens corrections and luminance noise reduction) we saw a modest performance improvement in LR Classic CC 7.2 compared to 7.1. Roughly 10% when averaged out - very similar to the 11% performance increase we saw when we ran the earlier test on our dual-core 2013 Mac.

  • LR 7.1 - 11:08 (668 seconds)
  • LR 7.2 - 10:16 (616 seconds)

Adobe was adamant that this update is just the beginning. The company is "pleased with these performance improvements" and believes Lightroom Classic users will be please as well, but Adobe also told us it is "far from done." The company promises continued performance optimizations and improvements in future releases of Lightroom Classic CC.

For now, we're just happy to see the first fruits of that "top priority" promise Adobe made last year.

Categories: Photo News

Canon patents fingerprint reader for cameras and lenses

Mon, 01/29/2018 - 15:34

The ability to unlock your smartphone or computer using just your fingerprint has been an option for ages, but it looks like digital cameras might not be too far behind. A recent Canon patent shows how the Japanese camera giant could implement a fingerprint ID sensor into both its camera bodies and lenses to safeguard your images and make cameras less tempting for thieves.

The patent (US Patent Application 20180012061) was first spotted by Northlight Images, goes beyond a security lockout though. The fingerprint sensor could be customized like any Custom Function button—allowing you to use different fingers to control autofocus, image stabilization, and more by simply scanning your finger while you shoot.

You can have as many custom buttons as you have conveniently placed fingers.

On the security side, the fingerprint reader could be used to completely lock out your gear, or even customize the camera for multiple 'registered' users. So whether it's you, your spouse, or one of your artistically inclined children picking up the DSLR, it would immediately default to their custom settings once scanned in.

The idea, so standard or even outdated on smartphones, seems positively futuristic when you apply it to cameras. Here's hoping this is one patent that does eventually see the light of day in real Canon products.

Categories: Photo News

Tourists are destroying New Zealand's iconic Lake Wanaka tree for Instagram photos

Mon, 01/29/2018 - 12:38

The solitary tree found in New Zealand's Lake Wanaka—an iconic landscape photography subject—is at risk of destruction if tourists, particularly Instagrammers, don't start showing it more respect. The Lake Wanaka Tree is a crack willow—its very name refers to the tree's brittle nature—and its social media popularity has fueled an influx of tourists who are destroying the tree as they attempt to capture Instagram-worthy shots.

There's even an Instagram hashtag dedicated to the tree: #ThatWanakaTree.

Climbing this tree will soon be banned! Take care and protect it for future photographers. No harm was done to this tree to make this shot. ##ThatWanakaTree #samyanglensglobal #milkyway #stars #epic #selfie #wanaka #lakewanaka #nzmustdo #protectthetree

A post shared by Mikey Mack (@mack_photography_nz) on Jan 18, 2018 at 3:46am PST

The tree lost a limb around Christmas time last year, spurring officials to take proactive measures in protecting the tree. According to Lonely Planet, which spoke with Queenstown Lakes District Council arboricultural officer Tim Errington, officials will now place warning signs near the tree alerting visitors about the dangers of climbing on it.

The warning signs will be written in both English and Chinese, though more drastic measures may be taken if tourists ignore them. Errington explained that officials haven't put a fence around the tree thus far because it would "take away some of the beauty associated with its stunning background," but the idea is being considered.

Categories: Photo News

Google’s long-awaited Clips Camera hits stores, will cost you $250

Mon, 01/29/2018 - 12:13

If you’ve been desperately waiting for Google’s artificial intelligence-driven Clips camera to go on sale now is your moment. The company has added the video clip shooting device to its store for US customers at the expected $250 price tag, with delivery expected between the end of February and the beginning of March.

The lifelogging camera was first revealed at the Pixel 2 event in October. It's designed to recognize the best moments and composition, and to shoot automatically when it ‘thinks’ the occasion is right. The aptly named Clips camera shoots short 'clips' of video which can be reviewed in a Google Clips app. In the app, clips can be saved or deleted, and still images can be extracted from the clips as well.

The 12MP camera has a shutter button too for human driven activation, but the main idea is that it is placed somewhere it can see what’s going on, and it does all the work for you. The main idea is that using Clips in its automatic ‘intelligent’ mode allows the user to be in the pictures instead of having to be behind the camera.

Below is a sample clip posted to the Google blog, with the video captured by the camera on the left and the still extracted from the video on the right. Stills are extracted using the Google Clips app.

The camera can record at 15fps, and uses a lens with a 130° angle of view. Images are stored in the 16GB internal memory, and the camera can run for three hours on a single charge. Connection is via USB-C, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

As reported before, professional photographers were consulted to help the company understand what makes a good or a bad picture, so the after analyzing what’s happening and where the elements are in the frame, the device’s brain decides whether to record or not. The camera also learns about the people you mix with, and will take more clips of people it sees often, as it will assume they are closer to you. Thankfully, it will also get to know your cat, to save you the bother of photographing it yourself.

For more information, visit the Google webstore.

Categories: Photo News

Lomography celebrates 25th anniversary with three limited edition cameras

Mon, 01/29/2018 - 10:11

To celebrate its 25th anniversary, Lomography has launched limited edition versions of three popular Lomo cameras, including the one model that started it all: The Lomo LC-A+.

In addition to Lomography's original 35mm with zone-focus and auto exposure, limited versions of the LC-A 120 medium format camera and the LC-Wide 35mm camera with 17mm wide-angle lens are also available. All three cameras are clad in brown leather and come with Lomography's motto embossed on the rear:

No Rules, Happy Mistakes, Analogue Love

For the LC-A+ and LC-Wide there is also a matching brown leather camera case as part of this limited edition.

All items can be ordered now in the Lomography shop, with shipping for the US and Canada planned for January 29th. The LC-A+ is $300, the LC-Wide will set you back $440, and the medium format LC-120 requires an investment of $480. The limited edition case by itself is available for $80.

To learn more, visit the Lomography website or go straight to the Lomography shop.

Categories: Photo News

Michael Christopher Brown on war, trauma and bearing witness

Mon, 01/29/2018 - 04:00
Photographer Michael Christopher Brown's work has taken him all over the world, from conflict zones in the middle east to post-Castro Cuba. Often shooting with just a smartphone, Brown's work is characterized by an intimacy and immediacy that in some cases, makes it difficult viewing.

Getting close to the action has its risks, as he found out in 2011 in Libya, where he was seriously injured in an attack that killed fellow photographers Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros.

Michael's 'Native America' project focuses on the people and cultures of native American reservations across the USA

In the years since he returned from Libya, Michael has traveled all over the globe, but his latest commission brought him all the way back home. Starting in his home state of Washington, Michael's 'Native America' project focuses on the people and cultures of native American reservations across the USA.

Funded by a grant from Sony in 2017, the project has taken him to 16 reservations in seven states. Despite the challenges faced by the native populations inside the reservations, Brown describes the project - which was shot using the Sony a9 - as a 'celebration of life'.

We sat down with Michael recently to talk to him about his career up to and including the 'Native America' project.

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Categories: Photo News

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