Monthly Archives: August 2014

Fuji x100s review – why so many photographers have/want this camera

This is your take everywhere camera that has image quality that rivals full frame sensors with expensive lenses. Despite it’s few quirks it’s well worth learning the cameras navigation and features to get extraordinary image quality in all types of circumstances. If this is one of your first cameras, it will take some getting used to, but well worth it. If image quality matters, this camera is for you. If you need a high quality backup camera or a small high quality travel camera, the x100s is for you.

Initial impressions – cool retro old 35mm film look. Controls need a bit of getting used to as this camera certainly has it’s quirks, however it’s fairly easy to navigate the menus that are generally self explanatory.

Features – fantastic xtrans ii sensor, nd filter, 23mm f2 lens (35mm equivalent), colour film options, wonderful panorama mode, excellent internal flash, optical and electronic viewfinder, reasonably fast AF, good manual controls, small, light, totally cool.

Setup – easy, insert battery and sd card and shoot.

Battery life – If you’re going to shoot all day you’ll need a few extra batteries.

Image quality – this is why you’d buy this camera, to me it has a full frame look and feel, unbelievable quality and details wonderful colours and the jpeg engine is the best I’ve used. Really little reason to shoot raw unless you’re using it for commercial work.

AF – what’s it’s really like – it’s fine as no ones really going to shoot sports with this camera.

Samples – see below

Conclusion – the best walk around general purpose camera for people, landscapes and life with outstanding image quality in a light and portable package.IMG_1981.JPGIMG_1976.JPG



Canon 24-105mm f4 IS review – 5 reasons why it’s still a great lens

Initial impressions – I bought this lens with my Canon 6D as the standard kit lens. Its very solid in the hands, typical L lens quality look & feel and doesn’t lack for any necessary features.

Ease of use – really simple to use, the zoom function is quick and easy as too is the manual focus option should you require that. Just stick it on the front of your camera body and shoot away.

Features – auto focus/manual focus, zoom either auto or manual, focus either auto or manual, weather sealed, options for a front filter to screw in for effects or lens protection. And most importantly IS – image stabilsation.

Image quality – superb quality even though this lens is 9 years old. Recently many reviewers have been stating that third party manufacturers are producing better and sharper glass, butIi just don’t see it. If I can produce sharp, punchy, and popping pictures with this lens then so can you.

Compared with 3rd party lens – don’t know yet as I haven’t tried them.

This is a quality walk around lens made for Canon cameras that will endure the weather, dust and most climates whilst offering superb image quality. as at todays date there are over 213,000 photos from over 10,000 members on Flickr having been shot with this lens and most are outstanding.IMG_1961-0.PNG

Canon 70-300 f4.5-6.5 IS review – a great first zoom lens

Initial impressions – although not an L lens it is solid, easy to handle and not too large to mount to Canon dslrs.

Ease of use – It has all the switches in the places you expect them to be, and the zoom is smooth and quick to operate, as is the auto focus. The IS is easy to operate, as is the MF/AF switch and manual focus. if you’re new to telephoto lenses then this will not intimidate you.

Features – IS which won’t help too much for sports but will help for lower shutter speed hand held shots. It has 2 IS modes, one for 2 way stabilisation and one for panning, typically used in sports or action shots. it has manual zoom and a lens lock for the 70mm position.

Image quality – great, perfect for weekend sports shots of the kids, portraits or even close ups of nature, although not a dedicated macro lens. seriously we are so spoilt today with choices of cameras and lenses, that its now getting more difficult to take a bad photo, unless of course you have trouble using AF or you cannot compose a picture correctly.

Compared with – not quite the same image quality as a L lens but depending on your level of skill most people would have trouble telling the difference. If you want the best, buy an L lens, but surprisingly this will come very close. L lenses are better optically and are generally weather and/or dust sealed.


Canon 6d review – upgrading from the Canon 60d

Let me start by saying that this is not going to be a technical pixel peeping review. Plenty of people have already done that. This review will be taken from the perspective of someone who has used and loved the Canon 60d and then made the leap to Canons entry level full frame dslr, the Canon 6d.

Initial impressions – holding the camera in the hand felt very similar to the 60d, and the controls and dials were also very similar. There are a few notable exceptions, but it’s all very intuitive and easy to navigate and learn. Existing 60d users will have no problems using the functions of this camera very quickly. Probably worth reading the manual at some stage, but easy enough to start without it.

Features – from menus to dials, there are no nasty surprises. The menu navigation is quick and easy to use. The most pleasing feature of the camera for me was the image quality, more on that under image quality. You have all the expected controls over ISO, flash, lighting, white balance, plus some interesting wifi options that although they look cool and easy to use, I’m yet to incorporate this into my shooting routine. If you’re into high quality selfies this remote app wifi shooting feature will really make you happy. For me there is nothing missing. Yes you could have timelapse options etc but there are other ways to tackle that.

Setup – really simple. Take out of the box, fix a lens, insert battery and SD card and off you go. Tinker with the settings as you see fit, or get some advice from others on the net who have share their favourite settings. Most of my shooting is done in the custom C1 and C2 settings, one for fast moving subjects/sports, the other for still subjects where depth of field is important.

Image quality – yep it’s true, there is a BIG difference moving from APSC to full frame. No question. This is the same sensor as the 5d iii. The details, colour, general IQ of the output is simply amazing. There is so much detail that you should rarely require anything other than jpeg as a setting. Sure shoot raw if you want, but I found it won’t make that much of a difference. Additionally another great feature of full frame sensors is the ability to digitally crop without losing significant detail in the picture – ideal for sports photos for most of us who don’t have a fast 600mm lens.

AF – what’s it’s really like? Many people have been quick to critique the limited 9 point AF with 1 cross type. Let me tell you that if you are a reasonably skilled photographer, then this is not a problem. Why? For stills whether you have 9 or 90 points it won’t matter, as your subject isn’t moving. Just change the AF point selector to the one you prefer or focus and recompose. So what about sports. Again no problem. Just select the centre AF point and use the AF back button and you’ll capture incredible sports photos… long as you’re shooting above 1/250 – most of mine are at more than 1/1000 of a sec.

Lenses I use – the standard 24-105 IS f4 and 70-200 IS f4. The 24-105 is a great general purpose lens, and it is very sharp if you know how to take a sharp photo. The 70-200 is amazing, and for me, a bargain compared with the 2.8. Most of my shooting is during the day, and at night it’s mostly on a tripod. Both re L lenses, Canons pro line, weather sealed and reasonably tough, although I do not suggest testing this assertion. Always treat your lenses very carefully. I also have a Sigma 85 f1.4 but have yet to test this thoroughly. With 3rd party lenses, if your lens focus is slightly off you can always use the micro adjustment feature in the camera, but I seriously advise you to read the manual on that one.

Samples – take a look. Most of sports pictures are digitally cropped and processed from jpeg in Perfectly Clear. I don’t have the time to spend hours on computers playing with raw files, and the difference is not worth the effort for me.

Sunset through dirty double glazed glass and horizontal blinds with 70-200

AFL game captured with 70-200

Conclusion – if you’re a Canon shooter and you have have Canon lenses, yes it’s a great upgrade well worth the investment. I will enjoy using this camera for many years to come.

FYI, the picture near the headline at the top was taken with a Canon 60d.

5 reasons you should print your photos

1. Backup as a physical print is not susceptible to electronic failure.
2. Albums are cool, and fun to share.
3. Warm memories for your home. Place on walls and furniture in good frames for your best shots.
4. Adding context with photo books. Custom build your own coffee table keepsakes.
5. Great gift ideas, make a calendar, coffee mug, T-shirt.

5 reason you should always carry a spare battery

  1. Because you can’t remember the last time you charged the battery in the camera, and charging takes time.
  2. You never know how many pictures you’ll take, therefore how much power you’ll need.
  3. Batteries lose charge whilst the camera is idle.
  4. Because you forgot to take the battery out of the charger before you left home.
  5. Peace of mind to focus on the subject without worrying about gear.

16 tips on how to shoot kids sports like a pro

Weekend warriors with dslrs are a common sight on the sports fields around the world. So how do you really capture a great shot of your kids playing sport?

Gear tips

Dslr or mirrorless – it doesn’t matter so long as your gear does the basics that most dslr cameras do. The technology is changing so fast that as soon as this is published, something new will have been announced.
Continuous autofocus – an absolute necessity to capture the moment. Most cameras will have the option to shoot continuously, some offering both low and high speed versions. Always choose the highest speed as with action sports we are talking micro-seconds between an average a great shot.
Centre focus point – unless you have a $7,000 camera with the most advanced focus tracking available, always select the centre focus point of your cameras viewfinder. Refer to your cameras manual if required.
Shoot jpeg – otherwise if you shoot raw the speed of shooting and the amount of shots you can take in one burst will be very limited. You’ll also chew up so much space on your memory card that you’ll quickly run out of space.
Spot metering – what’s metering? Well spot metering will ensure that the centre focal point you’re now using will expose correctly most times, meaning the photo will not be too dark or too light, most times.
AWB – stands for auto white balance. Use it as you wont have the time to fiddle with this function.
ISO – leave it on auto, as again you wont have time to fiddle with different ISO’s as you’re carefully watching the action. Let the cameras computer sort that out for you.
Continuous focus button – if your camera has one, use it. It’s often referred to a “back button focus”on Canon cameras. By continuously pressing on this button with your thumb (on Canon cameras), the focus is continually readjusting whether you’re touching the shutter button or not. I find it helps me get more keepers in focus.
Lens selection – you’re going to need a lens for the distance from the action and lighting. For indoor sports, something like an 85mm f1.4 lens will help let in more light and give you the reach from the stands to the action, e.g. basketball. For outdoor sports you’ll need a 70-200 or 70-300 to reach football games, athletics, swimming etc. Again it depends on where you’re standing. In bright conditions outside an f4 or higher will be fine, but at night you may need an f2.8, but they are really expensive.

Shooting tips

Anticipation – if you know the game, you’ll generally get better pictures because you’ll anticipate what’s going to happen. Learn the game and it’s easier to find great shots.
Framing – otherwise known as composition. Better to keep everything in the frame that you’re shooting because you can digitally crop later, depending on your sensor and lens selection.
Where to stand – again know the game. Look for interesting angles, high, low, right around the ground/court/etc.
Ask and be polite – if you’re not sure where to stand, rather than become a hazard to players and an annoyance to coaches, just ask politely and often many people will give you better access than you image.

Post processing

Choosing the best shots – be very selective to choose only the best shots, and crop/frame them to enhance the action. Think about the rule of thirds.
Jpeg and Perfectly Clear – shot jpeg and process in Perfectly Clear, its easier, quicker and gives just as good results as spending hours processing one shot like it’s going to be mounted in a museum.
Dropbox and being a sharer – remember to back your photos up, and I find Dropbox perfect for that purpose. It’s also very good at sharing your pictures with other parent/friends who were at the game and would really appreciate a picture of their child scoring the winning goal. They’ll be very thankful, and after all, using photography to share special moments is what it’s all about.