Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6 Review

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If it looks like a DSLR, feels like a DSLR, works like a DSLR and takes pictures like a DSLR, it probably is a DSLR. Izznit?

Nup. This ‘un is a MILC – mirrorless interchangeable lens camera … one of the many models now proliferating on the market like rabbits.

In reality, the major difference between this MILC and true blood DSLRs is that, with the former, the top Live viewfinder presents an electronic view of the shot you’re about to fire, while the DSLR delivers an optical view, thanks to a prism and a series of mirrors …just like the ole time film cameras used to do!

True, the electronic view is not as razor sharp as the optical, it does look a bit ‘electronic’ and very alike to the view delivered on the rear LCD screen, but when you’re outdoors, as many of you know, the rear screen can be washed out in bright light, so Live View to the rescue.

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The review camera was furnished with a Panasonic-made G Vario lens of f3.5/14-42mm specs.

The G6 is a welcome addition to the lineup. In stills, it can pull a maximum image size of 4608 3456 pixels, leading to a 39x29xcm print.

In video capture, it can shoot AVCHD or MPEG4 formats at Full HD 1920 1080 pixel resolution using a Class 4 card or better. And you can shoot stills while recording video. Auto focus tracking locks on the subject and maintains focus even as it moves.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6 Handling

It sure feels like a DSLR! And it is a comfy feel in the hand, mostly thanks to the pronounced speed grip and overall good balance.

Top deck controls: there’s a hot shoe on top centre to accept an auxiliary flash (in addition to the lower powered internal flash beneath the hot shoe).

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6 Menu 1

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6 Menu 2

Farther right is the mode dial with positions for PASM, creative video, two custom modes, panorama, a scene guide and a creative control mode. The scene guide offers 23 sample pictures shot by pro photographers which you can use as a helper in making your own shots …like silky skin, glistening water etc. The creative control mode has 19 filters (old days, sunshine, retro, etc. The effect parameter of each mode is adjustable.

And, for what it’s worth, the camera can only shoot panos while held in an horizontal attitude, unlike the methods that some other cameras can deliver.

If you want to shoot in auto mode you move your finger farther right and tap a tiny red button marked ‘iA’. The power lever is set into the side of the mode dial. Close by is the familiar video record button, hemmed in by the mode dial, power lever and intelligent auto button …it is not the most ideal position for this button and takes quite a bit of precise pressure to operate.

Forward on the top deck is a control I had not seen before: a lever that could be used in either of two ways: it could drive any exposure compensation you desire by +/- five f stops; or with specific power-driven lenses, it can operate the zoom. Additionally, just to the rear and over the corner edge of the camera is a control dial which adjusts aperture or shutter while in those modes.

Rear: the 7.6cm LCD touch screen is a vari-angle screen that can be rotated 180 degrees laterally and 225 degrees vertically. At the extreme left is the internal flash release and a function button that switches between top and rear finder; to the right are two more function buttons. Flanking the screen are the replay button, another for display options plus two more function buttons. The jog dial has positions for menu; ISO setting; direct setting of options for AWB, colour balance etc; continuous shooting and self timer; AF options.

A 3.5mm terminal is set into the camera’s right side to accept an external microphone.

Overall, not a fully packed brigade of external controls. The viewfinder menu is not overly complex.

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6 Features

A Wi-Fi connection allows users to connect the G6 to their smart phone or tablet at a touch, while still and movie shooting can be driven remotely from the smart phone screen.

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And a couple of unusual features: time lapse and stop motion video shooting; a novel Clear Retouch function lets you edit out unwanted parts of a picture after shooting by simply tracing over them on the monitor with a fingertip; I tried this and it works (above)! But only with large areas of unwanted image data: don’t think you can remove wicked Uncle Ted from a family group shot!

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6 ISO Tests

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It’s only at ISO 6400 that the image begins to degrade. Much the same at ISO 12800.

By ISO 25600 the show’s over: much noise, artefacts and a washed out image.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6 Review Verdict

Quality: above average.
Why buy the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6: looks and works like a DSLR.
Why not: a bit complex for the raw amateur.

If you get the feeling that this camera attempts to bridge the needs of the enthusiast and the dabbler, you’re right. Just check out the creative and scene guides.

However, I would not be unhappy to use it on an advanced shoot!

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6 Specifications

Image Sensor: 16.1 million effective pixels.
Metering: Multiple, centre-weighted and spot.
Effective Sensor Size: Four thirds 17.3 13.0mm CMOS.
Lens Factor: 2x.
Compatible lenses: Micro Four Thirds.
Exposure Modes: Auto, Program AE, shutter and aperture priority, manual.
Shutter Speed: 60 to 1/4000 second; flash sync 1/160 sec.
Burst Speed: 7 fps.
Memory: SD/SDHC/SDXC cards.
Image Sizes (pixels): 4608 3456 to 1712 1712. Movies: 1920 1080, 1280x720p, 640 480.
Viewfinders: Turret finder: 1,440,000 pixels. 7.6cm LCD screen (1,040,000 pixels).
File Formats: JPEG, RAW, JPEG+RAW, AVCHD/MPEG4, MPO (3D).
Colour Space: Adobe RGB, sRGB.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 160 to 12800 (25,600 with boost).
Interface: USB 2.0, AV, HDMI mini, WiFi, DC input.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, AC adaptor.
Dimensions: 122x85x71 WHDmm.
Weight: Approx. 390 (inc battery).
Price: Get a price on the Panasonic Lumix G Series DMC-G6 with 14-42mm II Lens Kit or body only.

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6 Review

ioSafe N2 – Your own Private Muscly Cloud

I wrote recently about the Synology NAS, I will write more about it soon as I’ve added to it! But there are, as they say, two sides to every story and here’s the other side to that story!

Introducing the ioSafe N2 NAS

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Having (had!) an IT background and experiencing first hand a number of times people losing their data – sometimes LOTS of data – and being completely overwhelmed at the thought of not knowing what they had saved somewhere else and what was “gone forever*” I wanted to make sure that wasn’t the case for me.

At the same time, I wanted to be able to get to “stuff” from wherever I was. I do use multiple “online” storage things, Dropbox is my main online storage space, I’ve also just started using COPY who give much more free space.. Why multiples? Who puts all of their eggs in one basket? But we’re talking 20gb here and 30gb there… If I wanted to have an entire copy of my computer online just incase something really shoddy happened like theft, flood, fire, or something else… The ability to get to my digital life (as I like to call it) is crucial. I work from home, I have client data (As a photographer, I have photographs obviously, but they’re covered with my other NAS, the DS1512+) and I need to be able to access that data at all time.

There’s also the whole “would I walk up to someone in the street and hand them all the photos of my kid, all of my important business data” that Robb touches on in the video below… I’m sure you’ve heard of businesses folding – well, it has happened to online storage companies too [READ THIS this is from 2009, but there’s nothing to say it can’t happen today] and with this firmly in mind, I smile about my N2 sitting securely in a cupboard in my house, out of line of sight, quietly backing up all of my precious digital stuffs…

That said, having this NAS packed in a cupboard out of harms way, I don’t get to use the SDXC slot on the front of the unit, but it is there if you want to use it – simply take photographs on an SD card, pop the card into the front of your NAS and it mounts up like a little external drive and you can copy all of the images across. Very handy.

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Lets hop around a little.. I run my own business, but it isn’t large and I don’t have co-located servers with my data replicating across multiple sites – if I wanted to make sure I was 100% safe, I’d do that, but it is cost restrictive for me right now, so I needed to be able to trust what I could afford** The ioSafe N2 is sort of like a baby army tank that stores data.. It can withstand fire, water, three year olds etc… 1500 degrees f. for half hour – you’d want to hope the fire brigade had put your house out in that time!, Under ten feet of water for 72 hours… This is no ordinary NAS (Network attached storage) device. There’s also the included one time data recovery service – ioSafe will recover your data up to $5K worth of DRS included with every ioSafe product… that is pretty rad if you ask me! (read more on that here)

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You can see above (and below) where your data is stored, on those two disks in the middle… Then there’s a solid metal plate that goes on the front of the disk bay, then a plug that is the front of the unit… There is airflow around the sealed unit that has heat dispersion wings on it, so your disks maintain a normal working temp, too.

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Lets jump back to where I was talking about accessing my data remotely shall we… The ioSafe runs Synology DSM (I’m currently running the 4.3 Beta on my ioSafe with great success) DSM pretty much turns the N2 into a fully fledged cloud (cloud simply means server that can be accessed remotely in this case.. sort of) and there are some very handy iPhone and Android and (even haha) Windows phone apps that you can use to get to your data.. You can log into your server via FTP too.. (It also works as a web server, print server, ftp server, media server… this thing can’t make a decent espresso, but then I can, so we’re good!)

My ioSafe N2 is setup using the Synology Hybrid Raid, I use two 2TB disks in (basically) raid one so I have a one disk fault tolerance.. My stuff is essentially safe unless Godzilla comes along and eats my N2..

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I use my N2 in conjunction with my other ioSafe drives.. I have a Solo G3 and a Rugged Portable (That my brother has borrowed to take around the world!!)

Who is the N2 for?

Anyone that is serious about keeping their data safe but maybe not quite ready to buy a serve in a datacentre. (You can also bolt the N2 to your floor / hide it in a cupboard and access it wirelessly!)

Pros

  • Life proof.
  • Connectivity.
  • Massive feature set via DSM.
  • Small footprint by comparison.

Cons

  • Errr? For the market this beast is aimed at, there are none.

I want to leave you with a video from Robb Moore, he’s the guy that started ioSafe when nothing else would suit his needs… I’m very glad he did because right now, for me, nothing else does what this N2 does.

I was provided with the N2 for review, I was already an ioSafe user… I use product I love, I don’t have time for rubbish that doesn’t work – who does. I give this N2 a total of 10 out of 11 gold stars, I only deduct one because I know I’m going to need more space soon and there’s not a 4 disk model – yet.

Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments below.

-Sime

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

ioSafe N2 – Your own Private Muscly Cloud

Olympus PEN E-PM2 Review

You can’t complain about the lack of variety in the current crop of mirrorless interchangeable lens compact cameras! This one will sure fit many people right down to the ground.

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Although I have to admit it’s not my style of camera, mainly due to the lack of external controls – it’s mostly menu driven – the Olympus PEN E-PM2 is agreeably small and light and, with lens detached, the body is pocketable.

With the f3.5/14-42mm kit lens fitted to the review camera, the distance from the back of the camera to lens front stretched to a lengthy 10cm … and that was with the lens at minimum ‘stretch’!

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Olympus PEN E-PM2 Features

Top deck controls: on/off button, shutter button, Function button, replay, trash.

Rear: video record, four way rocker (exposure compensation, flash options, single/continuous shooting, AF targets), menu and info buttons. And that’s all!

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Choices of Program AE, aperture and shutter priority and manual shooting modes are selected via the menu system, which is initially graphics supported and then moves into the familiar lines of text. Five minutes practice with this and you will become familiar with it. I have to say that using menu driven exposure options does remove a major hazard of rolling the mode dial to your choice: on some cameras the mode dial can be easily knocked to an unwanted spot.

I found the touch screen LCD screen to be bright and clear and useable in bright daylight, although I regretted the lack of a vari-angle screen. A novel touch is that you can tap the screen to take a shot!

The maximum image size is 4608 3455 pixels, enough to make a 39x29cm print.

Movies in Full HD 1920 1080 pixel resolution are on hand.

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Those who have experienced Olympus’ Art Filters will enjoy the options of capturing an image with a Pop Art, sepia, grainy look, pin hole and other ‘looks’ in a total of 12 ‘looks’.

People who like the joys of connectivity with smartphones and tablet devices, will appreciate the PM2 which fully supports the new Flashair SD storage/wireless card that transforms the camera into a wireless access point.

The top accessory shoe can support a wide variety of optional accessories, such as the eye-level digital viewfinders VF-2 and VF-3, an external stereo microphone, and the PP-1 Bluetooth data transfer module.

Olympus PEN E-PM2 ISO Tests

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Excellent performance all the way to ISO 6400. At ISO 12800 noise is still down and definition acceptable. By ISO 25600 the noise level has gone too far but definition is OK.

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Olympus PEN E-PM2 Review Verdict

Quality: very good.

Why you’d buy the Olympus PEN E-PM2: small, easily carried camera.

Why you wouldn’t: you don’t like menu mining!

This is a MILC model that will take very good quality pictures.

Available in black, silver, red or white.

Olympus PEN E-PM2 Specifications

Image Sensor: 16.1 million effective pixels.
Metering: Multi zone, centre-weighted averaging, spot.
Effective Sensor Size: 17.3 13.0mm (22.5mm diameter) Live MOS.
35 SLR Lens Factor: 2x.
Shutter Speed: 60 to 1/4000 second, Bulb.
Continuous Shooting: 8 fps.
Memory: SD/SDHC/SDXC cards.
Image Sizes (pixels): 4608 3455 to 1024 768. Movies: 1920 1080, 1280 720, 640 480 at 30fps.
LCD Screen: 7.6cm LCD (460,000 pixels).
File Formats: JPEG, RAW, JPEG+RAW, MPEG4.
Colour Space: sRGB, Adobe RGB.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 200 to 12800.
Interface: USB 2.0, HDMI mini, AV, accessories.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, DC input.
Dimensions: 110x64x34 WHDmm.
Weight: 269 g (inc battery and card).
Prices: Get a price on theOlympus PEN E-PM2 at Amazon.

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

Olympus PEN E-PM2 Review

Fujifilm XF1 Review

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After a swag of complex, interesting and somewhat challenging digicams passed over my review desk, I felt I deserved a holiday. So I fell upon this new, aluminium-bodied Fujifilm model as an example of what you can find out there: small, pocketable, easy to use, yet with a smallish zoom range … but with a very fast lens.

It’s easy to get blas in this business and sometimes I don’t immerse myself deeply enough in the press guff that accompanies these delights of technology. So when I pulled the XF1 out of the box I was flummoxed at how to start it up. No power button! Nowhere could I find a means to kick it into life. And of course the last place I would look for assistance was in the instruction manual PDF!

So what to do?

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I then noticed that the lens was oddly flush with the camera body. So I idly twirled the lens, pulling it out a few mils. Then twirled it a bit more.

Voila! Power’s on. LCD screen comes alive. What a gas! Cleverest startup I’ve ever seen.

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Fujifilm XF1 Features

The review XF1 was beautifully styled with a chrome top deck and black body. Very Leica-ish! It’s also available in two other colours: red and brown.

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The lens is an f1.8 4x zoom, with the wide end a decent 25mm SLR equivalent, zooming into a useable 100mm tele end, ideal for portraiture.

The maximum image size can deliver a 34x25cm print.

Movies at Full HD res of 1920 1080 pixels can be shot.

In keeping with the clean design philosophy, external controls are down to an absolute minimum.
Top deck: mode dial (PASM, auto, two custom settings, EXR, advanced settings, scene position) plus shutter button, Function and flash pop-up.

Rear: four way rocker trash, exposure compensation, macro, self timer, flash settings) display options, Function, replay and video record.

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The screen menus are displayed in large, clear text in a series of well laid out panels. One of the best menu sets I have seen.

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A note on the EXR feature: in this mode the camera selects the optimum setting from 103 patterns; this helps you lift the quality of your image taking

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Choose from an auto setting, or ones that place emphasis on resolution, high ISO and/or low noise or D-Range that will increase detail highlights. One worth exploring.

Startup Time

The camera is fast in departments other than the f1.8 lens: in less than a second I was ready to shoot my first shot with follow-ons coming in at a rate of less than a second each and as I became more practised in rolling the lens out obviously the startup figure would fall!

Distortion

Some evidence of barrel distortion at the wide end of the zoom; no problems at the tele end.

Panoramas

As with the XE-1, this model can shoot large motion panorama stills, with the camera capturing a run of individual frames, then stitching them in camera.

Fujifilm XF1 ISO Tests

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Very interesting! The initial shot at ISO 100 revealed that the camera is not exactly razor sharp at close distances (ie 30cm).

Higher ISO figures revealed that definition fell further, then noise became apparent at ISO 1600 and rose even more by ISO 6400 (2816 2112 pixels). No point in testing ISO 12800 due to an even smaller capture size (2048 1536 pixels).

Fujifilm XF1 Review Verdict

Quality: good at normal distances. Not the best for close up work.

Why you’d buy the Fujifilm XF1: fast to get going; high quality snapping.

Why you wouldn’t: you may find the startup routine unnecessarily fiddly … takes some time to get used to!

There’s a lot to like in this camera, although I fell afoul of the startup routine when rolling the lens from wide to tele: if I ran the lens too hard against the tele end it shut down! Frustrating!

I then figured out there were two startup configurations: travel mode, where the lens retracts fully inside the camera to minimise the camera size; pull the lens slightly away from the body, then (when ready to shoot) roll the lens to the desired focal length.

An interesting camera for a number of reasons.

Fujifilm XF1 Specifications

Image Sensor: 12 million effective pixels.
Sensor: 17mm EXR CMOS.
Metering: Multi segment, averaging, spot.
Lens: Fujinon f1.8-4.9/6.4-25.6mm (25-100mm as 35 SLR equivalent).
Exposure Modes: Auto, Program AE, shutter and aperture priority, manual.
Shutter Speed: 30 sec to 1/2000 second.
Memory: SD/SDHC/SDXC.
Continuous Shooting: Approx 3-16fps.
Image Sizes (pixels): Stills: 4000 3000 to 1536 1536.
Movies: 1920 1080, 1280 720, 640 480, 320240, 320 112.
Viewfinders: 7.6cm LCD screen (460,000).
File Formats: JPEG, RAW, JPEG+RAW, MPO (3D), MPEG4.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 12800.
Interface: USB 2.0, HDMI mini, AV.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery.
Dimensions: 107.9 61.5 33 WHDmm.
Weight: 225 g (inc battery, card).
Price: Get a price on the Fujifilm XF1 at Amazon.

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

Fujifilm XF1 Review

29 Most Popular DSLR Lenses Among Our Readers

Over the weekend we released a list of the 15 most popular DSLRs judged according to what our readers have been buying on Amazon over the last 4 months*. Today we’re turning our attention to the most popular DSLR lenses.

As usual – Canon and Nikon lenses were by far the most popular so I’ve divided them into two lists but I’ve also included a third list of lenses from other manufacturers below.

Nikon Lenses

1. Nikon 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras

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2. Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras

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3. Nikon 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR AF-S DX Nikkor Zoom Lens for Nikon Digital SLR

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4. Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED IF AF-S DX VR [Vibration Reduction] Nikkor Zoom Lens

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5. Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G ED AF-S Nikkor Wide Angle Zoom Lens

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6. Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S ED VR II Nikkor Telephoto Zoom Lens for Nikon DX-Format Digital SLR Cameras

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7. Nikon 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S DX Nikkor Lens

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8. Nikon 50mm f/1.4G SIC SW Prime Nikkor Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras

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Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF AF-S VR Nikkor Zoom Lens

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10. Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II AF-S Nikkor Zoom Lens For Nikon Digital SLR Cameras

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Canon Lenses

1. Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens

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2. Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS Telephoto Zoom Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras + Lens Cleaning Kit

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3. Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM Standard & Medium Telephoto Lens for Canon SLR Cameras

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4. Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Telephoto Zoom Lens for Canon SLR Cameras

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5. Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III Telephoto Zoom Lens for Canon SLR Cameras

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6. Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens for Canon EOS SLR Cameras

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7. Canon 40mm EF f/2.8 STM Lens

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8. Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Medium Telephoto Lens

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9. Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM SLR Lens

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10. Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM 1-to-1 Macro Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras

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Other Brands

Normally we don’t see a lot of lenses from other brands purchased but in the last 4 months we’ve noticed a spike in sales of lenses from Signma, Tamron and Tokina who each make quality lenses for DSLRS of different brands – many times at more affordable prices than the equivalent lenses from the main brands. Here’s the ones that we saw decent sales of:

1. Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras (also available for Nikon, Samsung and Sigma DSLRS)

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2. Tamron AF 28-75mm f/2.8 SP XR Di LD Aspherical (IF) for Canon Digital SLR Cameras (also available for Minolta and Sony Pentax, and Nikon DSLRs)

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3. Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 SLD DG Macro Lens with built in motor for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras

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4. Tamron AF 17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di-II LD SP Aspherical (IF) Zoom Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras (also available for Nikon and Minolta and Sony DSLRs)

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5. Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 SLD DG Macro Lens with built in motor for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras

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6. Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM FLD AF Ultra Wide Zoom Lens for APS-C sized Canon Digital DSLR Camera (also available for Nikon, Pentax, Sigma and Sony DSLRs)

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7. Tamron AF 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD LD Aspherical IF Macro Zoom Lens for Canon DSLR Cameras (also available for Nikon and Sony DSLRs)

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8. Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X116 Pro DX II Digital Zoom Lens (for Canon EOS Cameras) (Tokina also make a similar lens for Nikon DSLRS

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9. Tokina 12-24MM F/4.0 Pro II Zoom Lens for Digital Canon SLR Cameras (Tokina also make a similar lens for Nikon DSLRS)

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*Note: these lists were compiled from reports supplied to us from Amazon.com where we are affiliates. One of the ways dPS is able to cover its costs and be a sustainable business is that we earn a small commission when readers make a purchase from Amazon after clicking on our links (including those above). While no personal details are passed on we do get an overall report from Amazon about what was bought and are able to create this list.

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

29 Most Popular DSLR Lenses Among Our Readers

Leash and Cuff by Peak Design

A while back I wrote about the Capture Camera Clip System by those crazy guys over at Peak Design. The guys started their company with KickStarter, which I’m certain you’ve all heard about? Well, one of the feedback items they received on the Capture device (which I still use every time I shoot) was that maybe some people would feel more secure using it if they had some sort of strap attached, like a safety belt that you could also use as a neck strap, wrist strap and a sling strap. The criteria for Peter and his ping pong winning team was that the strap had to be versatile, quick connecting and most of all it had to add a great deal of ‘safe’ for your camera. Well, they’ve only gone and done it!

Peak Design bring you the new Leash and Cuff!

I was lucky enough to play ping pong with Adam of Peak Design just yesterday – he thrashed me! – but as sweet consolation, he also let me bring home the prototype unit to try out. This strap does everything it says on the label, so to speak! It’s inexpensive and sturdy and will be along with me for a ride when I shoot a wedding in Kyneton tomorrow.

The best thing about my timing of this post is that you can still jump on their KickStarter project for the leash and cuff, and get yourself one at less than retail (I think it’s about close to half of what they’re going to cost you when they hit the streets!)

Here’s the KickStarter video for your information, and there’s a great video on their KickStarter page with more info, too.

Check it out on their Kick Starter page!

We will have a full review for you in the coming weeks, but initial impressions and judging by the uptake on their KickStarter page, I’d say get one – quick.

Sime

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

Leash and Cuff by Peak Design

Fujifilm XE-1 Review

Fujifilm XE-1-front.jpg

When the X-Pro1 was announced to a surprised market earlier in 2012 I then remarked on my scepticism at the release of a magnesium alloy bodied, mirrorless interchangeable lens camera.

Then it sunk in and I added that other companies had performed ‘major rethinks about the future of upper level digital cameras: like Olympus with its retro OM-D and Nikon with its bare bones N1.’

It was obvious that Fujifilm had done ‘a mighty rethink about gaps in the pro market and come up with a camera that has some pretty clever answers to some profound questions.’

Since then there have been other models in the X-mount line and the XE-1 is the latest.

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Fujifilm XE-1 Features

Make no mistake, this is a finely-engineered camera. To begin with the review camera looked right with touches of matte chrome set into a black metal body. Although I found the rubber speed grip to be a little small, the general feel of the camera is good, despite a body weight of over 600 grams with the f2.8/18-55m lens fitted – the first zoom designed for X-mount cameras.

Fujifilm XE-1 Bicycle.JPG

The external controls are easily discovered, with the die-cast magnesium top deck layout consisting of black text on chrome, while the rear surface has largish white text in black. Overall, it’s very film camera-ish!

Fujifilm XE-1 Shutter speeds.jpg

The nice touches in this department are a direct-select dial for the shutter speed, accompanied by a +/- two f stops exposure correction dial and power button. Frequently-used actions can also be assigned to the Function button, sited right next to the power button.

Fujifilm XE-1-Menu.jpg

Just over the lip of the top deck is a viewfinder select button that switches your view from turret to rear screen or you can auto select and let the approach of your eye trigger the former’s view.

Not only is there a pop up flash set into the top deck but the nearby hot shoe also accepts external flash units. Immediately ahead of it (and pointing uselessly skywards!) is the L+R stereo microphone; my advice is to use a plug in external mic!

Fujifilm XE-1 Sculpture 1.JPG

The rear has buttons for selection of single frame or continuous shooting, AE and AF options, menu, macro shooting, display options, a quick access button to take you to direct selection of such functions as ISO, white balance, image size etc.

Tucked away on the front, just beneath the lens is a three way switch for manual focus, single frame or continuous focus.

External connections allow hook up for an external stereo mic, mini HDMI output plus USB and AV output.

The 16.3 megapixel CMOS accounts for a large 4896 3264 maximum image capture, both in RAW and JPEG. This can deliver a 41 28 cm print.

Movies in Full HD 1920 1080 can be shot. While the AF seems to function quite well in movie mode you can’t shoot stills mid video.

An unexpected joy (for this film born and bred feller) is the aperture ring set into the lens: as you roll it around, it’s a joy (with the 18-55mm zoom anyway) to see the lens aperture shrink down to f22! How many digicams will allow you that pleasure!

As with some other models, the XE-1 can shoot high quality motion panorama stills, sized up to 5120 1440 pixels. It’s an eery sensation to shoot one, as the camera chug-chugs along, snatching individual frames, then stitching them in camera. If you want to get into panos, I would only suggest that you practice, practice, practice! ‘Tis fun but t’ain’t easy!

Fujifilm XE-1 ISO Tests

Fujifilm XE-1 ISO 100.JPG

Fujifilm XE-1 ISO 400.JPG

Fujifilm XE-1 ISO 800.JPG

Fujifilm XE-1 ISO 1600.JPG

Fujifilm XE-1 ISO 3200.JPG

Fujifilm XE-1 ISO 6400.JPG

Fujifilm XE-1 ISO 12800.JPG

Fujifilm XE-1 ISO 25600.JPG

Right up to ISO 6400 the camera performed brilliantly. At ISO 12800 noise was evident and even more so at ISO 25600 but even this setting could be used!

Fujifilm XE-1-Melons.JPG

Fujifilm XE-1 Review Verdict

Quality: well above average.

Why you’d buy the Fujifilm XE-1: you have the skills to exploit it.

Why you wouldn’t: the LCD screen does not tilt.

The X-mount series of cameras goes from strength to strength. This sits easily into the lineup.

A fine successor to the X-Pro1.

Fujifilm XE-1 Specifications

Image Sensor: 16.3 million effective pixels.
Sensor: 23.6 15.6mm CMOS.
Metering: Multi segment, centre-weighted, spot.
Lens Mount: Fujifilm X.
Lens Factor: 1.5x.
Exposure Modes: Auto, Program AE, shutter and aperture priority, manual.
Shutter Speed: 60 mins (Bulb); 30 sec to 1/4000 second.
Memory: SD/SDHC/SDXC.
Continuous Shooting: Approx 6 or 3fps.
Image Sizes (pixels): Stills: 4896 3264 to 1664 1664.
Movies: 1920 1080, 1280 720.
Viewfinders: 12.5mm turret (2,360,000) and 7.1cm LCD screen (460,000).
File Formats: JPEG, RAW, JPEG+RAW, MPEG4.
Colour Space: sRGB, Adobe RGB.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 25600.
Interface: USB 2.0, HDMI mini, stereo mic.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery.
Dimensions: 129 74.9 38.3 WHDmm.
Weight: 350 g (inc battery, card).
Price: get a price on the Fujifilm XE-1 (Body Only) or the Fujifilm XE-1 with 18-55mm Lens .

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

Fujifilm XE-1 Review

Nikon Coolpix P7700 Review

There is certainly room for a easily pocketable, high-specced, magnesium alloy bodied compact digicam as represented by the Coolpix P7700, which succeeds the P7100 model.

P7700 front34ron

The lens is an f2.0 Nikkor, with a 35 SLR equivalent of 28-200mm.

The 7.5cm LCD screen is a vari-angle that swings 180 degrees laterally and vertically, making it an ideal finder for movie shooting, with the camera held at waist level.

P7700 LCD6

P7700 SLupfrt34r

P7700 back2

Maximum still image size is 4000 3000 pixels, or 34x25cm as a print.

Movies at 1920 1080 pixels can be shot in MPEG4.

Nikon Coolpix P7700 Features

I immediately liked the rubberised speed grip on the camera, then quickly fell into sync with it simply by looking at the top deck: at left is a small dial and central button that takes you into image quality settings, ISO figure, white balance, auto bracketting, My Menu and picture control.

Fence 4.JPG

At right of the top deck is the main mode dial, offering entr e to auto shooting, PASM, movie record, CSM custom movie settings), scene modes (portrait, sports, beach etc), effects (mono, cross processing, soften, etc), U1 to U3 (user settings).

Further right is the zoom lever and shutter button, plus the exposure compensation dial, Function 2 button and power on/off. The Function 1 button is located on the camera’s front.

As I said, I fell easily into sync because I could simply look at the latter set of controls and assess exactly where the camera was, settings-wise. Just like a film camera!

The camera’s rear is reasonably full with more controls: surrounding the four way rotating selector dial as well as buttons for replay, erase, menu, AE/AF lock and display options.

Unusually, there is no movie record button: you set the mode dial to movie, then press the shutter button. Makes sense to me! But of course, this means you can’t captures stills while recording video.

Usefully, there is a virtual horizon display for both vertical and horizontal photography.

Nikon Coolpix P7700 ISO Tests

Nikon P7700 ISO 80.JPG

Nikon P7700 ISO 400.jpg

Nikon P7700 ISO 800.JPG

Nikon P7700 ISO 1600.JPG

Nikon P7700 ISO 3200.JPG

Nikon P7700 ISO 6400 equiv.JPG

The camera performed surprisingly well, right up to ISO 3200, with a loss of definition noticeable in the latter. By ISO 6400 equivalent the noise and definition loss were far too high.

Nikon Coolpix P7700 Startup Time

One to two seconds after startup I could shoot my first shot; subsequent shots came in at 1-2 seconds apart.

Distortion

I was surprised to find there was a noticeable amount of barrel and pincushion distortion at the wide and tele ends of the zoom range, respectively.

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Nikon Coolpix P7700 Verdict

Quality: above average, with natural colour noticeable.

Why you would buy it: enjoyable, external photo controls; light too.

Why you wouldn’t: nothing to report.

I found out one novel feature when dealing with the P7700 in the early minutes of reviewership: if the LCD screen is closed, screen inwards, the camera will not start up. I guess it’s to avoid accidental battery drain. Nice touch!

For me, this is one of the more desirable compacts on the market, with many useful features. It would particularly suit the more experienced photographer but, in contrast, could easily be deployed as the family snapshot camera.

Nikon Coolpix P7700 Specifications

Image Sensor: 12.2 million effective pixels.
Metering: Matrix, centre-weighted and spot.
Sensor: 15mm CMOS.
Lens: f2-4/6.0-42.8mm (28-200mm as 35 SLR equivalent).
Exposure Modes: Auto, Program AE, shutter and aperture priority, manual.
Shutter Speed: 60 to 1/4000 second.
Continuous Speed: 3, 8fps.
Memory: SD/SDHC/SDXC cards plus 86MB internal memory.
Image Sizes (pixels): 4000 3000 to 640 480. Movies: 1920 1080, 1280 720, 640 480 at 30fps.
Viewfinder: 7.5cm LCD (921,000 pixels).
File Formats: JPEG, NRW (RAW), MPO (3D), WAV, MPEG4
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 80 to 6400.
Interface: USB 3.0, AV, HDMI mini, DC input, external stereo mic, accessory terminal.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, AC adaptor.
Dimensions: 118.5 72.5 50.4 WHDmm.
Weight: 392 g (inc battery and SD card).
Price: Get a price on the Nikon Coolpix P7700 at Amazon.

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

Nikon Coolpix P7700 Review

4 Reasons To Consider Moving Back To Analog SLRs

I realize this post might be consider heresy on a digital photography website and yet, I type about moving away from all digital and incorporating some old-fashioned analog (film) cameras in your photo kit. I’m not advocating a worldwide ban on digital, nor do I think all you young kids need to get off my lawn and pull up your pants. I’m not that old yet (but really, pull up your pants. I do see some value in picking up a film camera on the cheap.

It Can Help You Learn

I teach photography and I see both sides of this concept. On one hand, I learned in the days of film and the steep cost for making mistakes forced me to learn to see light, think about it, quantify it and set my exposure accordingly. That way works and has for over a century.

But digital allows for instant feedback and to see cause and effect in real-time with Live View modes. This can also help but can also be a crutch. There is no right or wrong way between digital and film which is why I state it “can” help you learn. It can also frustrate the heck out of you.

Takeoff and Landing

This is my personal reason for digging through my Dad’s stuff to find the old camera I handed down to him over a decade ago. I posted a picture of beautiful Seattle from a flight while on approach and a friend on Facebook busted me for being below 10,000′. I like to follow rules and not have to hide my camera (or phone) as if a criminal on a plane. That is why I am going back to film.

I travel a lot, usually stepping on a plane once a week at least. I plan my seat assignment to get me in front of the wing and engine and then to take advantage of light as well as topography below. I think too much. And a number of times this past year I have witnessed beautiful scenes out the window I wish I could capture. A lot of those are near takeoff and landing when “approved electronic devices need to be shut off…”.

My old camera, now returned from my Dad, will be put to good use in the skies over Seattle, LA, Portland and number of other locations. I wish I had one in Dubai. I wish I had one in Costa Rica. Now I have a small solution to a modern problem.

Always In Your Car

How many times have you wished you had a camera in your car? If “Zero”, then skip this one. I would love to leave a camera in my car that can take excellent photos but not make me cry for months if it is stolen. It would also be nice to not have to tote my big DSLR from the house to the car as often as I do.

Always having a camera at the ready in the car can serve many purposes. From kids doing silly things to documenting a traffic accident for insurance purposes. And the advantage of the film camera is the batteries will likely never die. It’s always ready and it’s always there. Heat can be a problem with this one, though (film doesn’t like heat that DSLRs simply shrug off).

12 12 Photo Marathons

Have you heard of the 12 12 Vancouver Photo Marathon? From everything I’ve heard, it’s awesome and I would really love to go next year. The marathon is a 12 hour competition where each participant is given a roll of 12 exposure film and each hour a new theme is announced. Participants have one hour to be as creative as they can be interpreting the theme and then executing a shot.

Participants get one shot at each theme. Just one. When was the last time you limited your shooting to one, well-thought-out shot? It sounds tough, fun and well worth the cost to pick up an analog camera.

Your Ideas

I’m planning on jumping back into the film camera world but not abandoning my beloved digital camera because it serves a purpose to me. What reason might you have for picking up and using a film camera?

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

4 Reasons To Consider Moving Back To Analog SLRs

Choosing Lenses: When to Use Which Lens and Why

A Guest Post by Rick Berk

All DSLR systems offer a dizzying selection of lenses for their cameras. These range from fisheyes that give a 180 field of view, to telephoto lenses up to 800mm or more. You’ve got zooms, primes, macro, super telephoto, and of course, tilt-shift lenses as well.

In my time as a photographer I’ve often had friends, students, or casual acquaintances ask me “What lens should I get?” There is no one right answer to this question, and it can lead to more confusion unless I ask a few questions myself.

First off, and easiest to figure out is, “What do you want to shoot?” It could be sports, wildlife, birds, landscapes, architecture, portraits, or any number of other subjects. Next is to find out what their budget is. The cost of the lens depends on several things. Less expensive lenses will generally have variable apertures, meaning as you zoom, the maximum aperture gets smaller. More expensive lenses have a fixed aperture. The good news is that all major camera and lens manufacturers offer a variety of focal lengths to satisfy most budgets.

After those two questions are answered it becomes more difficult. I try to lead them to their choice, rather than just tell them “Get this lens So let’s take a look at different types of lenses and how they can be used.

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We’ll start with the wide angles. In my early days as a photographer, I NEVER used wide angle lenses. I started my career as a sports photographer and rarely used anything shorter than a 70-200, often going for 400mm f2.8 or 600mm f/4 lenses. As I began shooting landscapes as more of a hobby, I began to discover the magic of wide angles. Wide angles give a wide expansive view, and when used correctly, can wrap you in the scene. My favorite lenses for landscape work tend to be in the ranges from 14mm f/2.8, 16-35 f/2.8, and 24mm f/1.4.

Wide angles should be used when prominent foreground objects are present. The primary mistake made by new photographers is to use wide angles incorrectly- by not being close enough, having no interest in the foreground, or by trying to include too much in the scene. Wide angles are also handy in tight areas, like small rooms, cars, caves, etc. They can give volume to the small area. Wide angles have the potential to drastically change your photography.

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Standard lenses tend to range from about 35mm up to around 85mm. Lenses in the standard zoom range will cover moderate wide angles- typically 24mm to 35mm, to moderate telephoto lengths- around 70mm and up to about 105mm. Standard zoom lenses are great “walk around” lenses. They are versatile, allowing both for wide angle work such as a landscape, or zooming in to the telephoto end of the lens to take a great portrait.

Standard zooms are generally included in many SLR kits that come with lenses. 18-55mm, 18-135mm, 24-105mm, 24-70mm, and others are popular standard zooms. However, there are also standard prime lenses. Prime lenses are lenses that are just one focal length. Back in the good ol’ days of film, the most popular standard lens was a 50mm. When I was a student, everyone in the class started with a 50mm lens. Whether you choose a zoom or a prime is up to you. Most people tend to feel that zooms offer more bang for the buck these days, while a prime forces you to think more about composition and point of view, simply because it can’t zoom.

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More often than not, when I speak to neophyte photographers looking to purchase their next lens, they are looking for something on the telephoto end. The most popular seems to be various flavors of 70-300mm or 70-200mm. These lenses are excellent when used properly. However, too often, telephoto zooms allow the photographer to become lazy.

“If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough,” said famed war photographer Robert Capa. Telephoto zooms allow one to stand back a little when the subject isn’t quite as approachable, or when your subject might be feeling overwhelmed by the presence of the camera. This makes telephoto zooms extremely useful for portraiture, but keep in mind Capa’s words, as it is easy to get lazy and let the lens do the work for you.

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Telephoto lenses compress distance, making everything appear closer, as opposed to wide angles which distort perspective and make things look further away. This can be useful for landscapes when you want the sun or moon to appear large in comparison to other objects in the image. In this shot of Shenandoah Valley at sunset, the telephoto lens compresses the distance, making the layers of mountains and mist look almost flat.

Of course, telephoto lenses are also excellent for sports, nature, and wildlife, where it can be difficult to get close. Sports, however, presents its own set of challenges. To be able to stop action without blurring, you need to use a fast shutter speed. Typically, faster telephoto lenses are required. Faster telephoto lenses have larger maximum apertures.

A “fast” lens is usually one that has an aperture of f/4, f/2.8 or larger. If sports is one of your primary subjects, a telephoto zoom such as a 70-200 f/2.8 is an excellent choice. If you really want to shoot like the pros, you’ll want a 300mm f/4, or 300mm f/2.8 or 400mm f/2.8. These lenses are great for getting you closer to the action, but you need to be sure your shutter speed is fast enough. Too slow a shutter speed will result in motion blur. Typically, AT LEAST 1/500 to 1/1000 shutter speed is the minimum. Using these longer lenses can be challenging to track movement, so it becomes much easier if the subject is coming directly at you, rather than trying to track movement parallel to the camera.

Beyond the usual types of lenses, there are a variety of specialty lenses available. Like shooting tiny things? Try a macro lens. Architecture? A tilt-shift or perspective correction lens might be your choice. There is a lens for every purpose, it’s just a matter of putting it to good use. As always, remember that a lens is just another tool on the camera; it’s up to the photographer to make it work.

Rick Berk is based in New York and has been involved in photography for 20 years, shooting portraits, landscapes, and professional sports. His images can be viewed and purchased at http://www.rickberk.com.

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

Choosing Lenses: When to Use Which Lens and Why