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Full Frame Mirrorless

Although I have been a longtime user of mirrorless cameras, I’ve been sitting on the fence about moving to a full-frame model. What was holding me back was my reluctance to make a sizable investment for a new set of lenses.


This past February while attending the Wedding & Portrait Professional Conference & Expo in Las Vegas, Sony introduced a new camera – the Alpha 7 III. In case you’re curious about it, see my previous article about the WPPI Expo here.

A couple of features of the 24 megapixel A7 III caught my attention. First was the camera’s autofocus system. Using 693 phase detection AF points focusing was fast and accurate. Second the camera’s Eye AF which identifies and tracks the subject’s eye as the focus point. Third was its high continuous shooting speed – up to 10 frames per second. And forth was the comfortably adjustable LCD screen. And I saw that the A7 III had dual SD card slots. I spent about 30 minutes inspecting the camera and bouncing questions off of Sony rep Dave Rhodes. I left the expo with a very positive opinion about Sony’s brand new model.

After returning home from WPPI, I pre-ordered the camera with a 28-70mm lens. Along with it I ordered an accessory that would allow me to use my collection of Canon lenses with this new model. This device is the Metabones Smart Adapter.


Last week Sony released the first batch of A7 IIIs and my order arrives by courier, but due to my workload I wait a few days to open it. When I finally free up some time I find that the package contains the body, lens, USB charging cord, shoulder strap and instruction manual. Strike 1 on Sony. I see that the package does not have a battery charger. Instead I have to use a USB cord to connect to the camera body to charge the battery.

Now I think that I’m ready to take a few shots so I attach the lens, insert the battery and a blank SD card and turn on the camera. Strike 2 on Sony. The battery is not charged so I cannot power on the camera. Disappointed, I unwrap the USB charging cord only to find that there isn’t an A/C adapter for the cord. Strike 3 on Sony. It would be nice for Sony to al least supply an A/C adapter for the USB cord.

After striking out, I have to take a break. I hunt around for an A/C adapter and then proceed to charge the battery (in camera) for a couple of hours. After the battery is charged, I head outdoors to take a few shots.


my first photo with the A7 III

still – landscape

close up autofocus

action autofocus

high speed frame rate

auto white balance
While there isn’t anything remarkable about the photos, I want to see the camera shoot still, close auto focus (branch), action (runner), high frame rate (duck) and auto white balance (indoor).


I’m right-handed. The camera grip feels solid. Overall the body is compact without miniature features. The electronic viewfinder is bright and crisp. The LCD screen is adjustable making it easy to compose your shots whether they are overhead or low to the ground..



convenient and customizable control

the A7 III next to my Canon 6D
I like this camera’s dedicated exposure adjustment dial. A control wheel on the rear and another on the front are useful for changing exposure combinations. There are four buttons that let you customize the settings to your preferences. For those in a hurry to share photos, one of the controls lets you send images to a smartphone by Wi-Fi. And compared to my other full-frame DSLRs, the A7 III is noticeably smaller and lighter.



To be honest, I would not have purchased the A7 III had not the Metabones adapter been available.

This accessory allows me to use my full-frame Canon lenses with Sony full-frame FE-mount bodies including the A7 III. Having read dozens of reviews of the Metabones adapter beforehand, I was convinced that it was the only way for me to afford a new A7 III without having to buy a new set of lenses.


the A7 III, Metabones adapter and a Canon E-mount lens.

the A7 III with the Canon 24-105mm F/4L lens attached.

As part of checking out this new camera, I tested all of the Canon lenses in my collection with the A7 III using the Metabones adapter.

I was pleasantly surprised. The adapter worked with all of my lenses. Additionally the lens information (ID, shutter speed, f-stop, focal length) was transferred to the images’ EXIF data (two lenses were incorrectly identified).

Below are images made using those respective lenses.



135mm F/2L

35mm F/2

75-300 F/4-5.6 @75mm


75-300 F/4-5.6 @300mm

24-105mm F/4L @24mm

24-105mm F/4L @105mm


50mm F/1.4

8-15mm F/4L Fisheye @8mm

8-15mm F/4L Fisheye @15mm


17-40mm F/4L @17mm

17-40mm F/4L @40mm

85mm F/2


100mm F/2.8 macro

Sigma 20mm F/2

24mm F/3.5L TS-E


100-400mm F/4.5-5.6L @100mm

100-400mm F/4.5-5.6L @400mm

All of these photos were taken from a distance of about eight feet except for the two 100-400mm photos which were taken from a distance of about 16 feet. In short, the Metabones adapter lets you use Canon EF-lenses on Sony FE-mount bodies.

Sony E-mount lenses (designed for the smaller APS-C size sensor) can be used on the A7 III. My E-mount 18-200mm lens worked perfectly. However using an E-mount lens reduces the image resolution from 4000 x 6000 pixels to 2624 x 3936 pixels.


 
 

One neat feature that I am going to use for portraits is coined Eye AF. Long ago I was taught that for portraits it is important to focus on the subject’s eye. With Eye AF activated, the camera identifies the subject’s eye and makes it the main focusing point even if the subject moves. Eye AF worked well with the several subjects that I photographed.

I should mention that there’s an app on my iPhone that lets me grab images from the A7 III. The app is called PlayMemories Mobile and lets me download the images (JPGs only, not the raw ARWs) from the SD card to my iPhone. Having used the app with other Sony cameras previously, I’ve found it to be easy and very reliable.

I should also mention that PlayMemories Mobile also lets me record location information for the images. Using the smartphone’s GPS capabilities, the app sends the location coordinates via Bluetooth to the camera as it is capturing the images onto the SD card. Again, in my short time using this feature, it worked reliably. Bravo Sony.

I use the classic version of Lightroom to perform most of my image editing. To be exact, I’m now using Lightroom 6.14 but it’s my understanding that Adobe will not be making any further upgrades to this version. Therefore it’s unfortunate that I am unable to edit the raw ARW files with my copy of Lightroom without performing an extra step. Luckily I’ve found a way to fool Lightroom into believing that the camera’s raw ARW files were created with the previous generation Sony A7 II camera. Still this “fix” is an inconvenience before editing with Lightroom.

Despite my initial frustration (lack of a charger, uncharged battery, etc) out of the box, I remain very positive about its impressive features and performance. Having spent a few hours “playing” with this new mirrorless, I’ve used only several of the features that first attracted me to this camera. There are many more that I plan to become familiar with and use. Additionally, there are a large set of features that should be of interest to the movie enthusiasts. Admittedly, I’m not deep into moviemaking so I will cede the reviews on this aspect of the camera to other photographers.

In the mean time, if you’d like to learn more about this new model, Sony has an extensive description of the Alpha 7 III features here.

The suggested retail price of the A7 III is $2000 for the body or $2200 for the body with 28-70mm lens and is now available.
 
 

Written by: Arnie Lee
 
 



 
 

Canon’s Latest Mirrorless


This past February at the Wedding and Portrait Photography International Conference & Expo, I stopped at the Canon booth to take a look at the company’s new M5 mirrorless interchangeable lens camera.

Canon is best known for their full featured DSLR cameras. Although I own several high end DSLRs from both Canon and Nikon, I’ve been a devoted user of mirrorless cameras for at least five years owing to the compact size and electronic viewfinder that I highly value.

Sony has been a leader in the mirrorless realm with Fujifilm, Panasonic and Olympus close behind. Canon has been playing catch up with its M series for a couple of years. I now consider the M5 a strong contender.

The new M5 now uses a 24MP sensor with Dual Pixel AF for faster and more precise autofocus. This is Canon’s first M series with built-in viewfinder. The M5 combines in-camera digital and optical lens stabilization. The tilting LCD has doubles as a touchscreen. And the camera has a built-in flash.


This is the Canon M5 with the 18-150mm EF-M lens.


The tilting LCD also functions as a touchscreen. Touch the screen to activate focus manually.

As you can see the M5 has a convenient, dedicated exposure compensation dial.

The M5 also captures full HD 60p movies in MP4 format. The touchscreen can be used during video operations to affect focus.

The camera includes Wi-fi and NFC capabilities as well as bluetooth to send images to a smartphone.

The suggested price of Canon M5 with 15-45mm EF-M lens is $1099. The suggested price of the Canon M5 with the 18-150mm EF-M lens is $1479.

For more information about the M5, please visit Canon.


 

 
Written by: Arnie Lee

 

 


 

 

Canon 5DS

23rd March 2015

WOW – 50MP Sensor

The Canon booth at Wedding & Portrait Photographers International Expo certainly drew a lot of visitors who wanted to view and ask questions about the upcoming Canon 5DS.

The reason for the crowds was Canon’s earlier announcement that this new camera features a sensor with a whopping 50MP! This is a giant leap in resolution compared to existing full-size sensor cameras.

The camera body is remarkably similar to the 5DMkIII, both in size, weight, LCD monitor and controls. But it’s the inside where the action is. The sensor alone has more than twice the MkIII’s 22.3MP resolution. The 5DS uses a pair of the next generation DIGIC 6 processors to handle the additional pixel load.

A new feature lets you crop to either 1.3x or 1.6x to match the lens factors of the EOS 1D and APS-C respectively. In turn, camera blurs the cropped portion of the image in the viewfinder and provides resolutions of 30MP and 19MP. The mirror lock-up has also been improved to minimize camera shake. Canon has also added an intervalometer for time-lapse photography without requiring a remote control.

So while Canon has drastically increased the resolution of the sensor, the tradeoff is in the sensor’s sensitivity. The normal high ISO for the 5DS is 6400 compared to 25,600 for the 5DMkIII. So this is the price you’ll pay for higher resolution.



The 5DS autofocus uses the same 61AF points as the 5DMkIII. The metering is composed of 150,000 pixels RBG+IR found in the 7DMkII and is said to provide better exposures with artificial lighting.

In addition to the 5DS, Canon is also offering the 5DSR. The 5DSR cancels the low-pass filter to provide higher edge sharpness – useful for detailed subjects such as landscapes. Both cameras are scheduled for June release for prices of $3700 and $3900 respectively.

You’ll also notice that one of the photos above shows Canon’s new 11-24mm super wide angle zoom lens. This is not a fisheye, it’s a rectilinear but comes at a hefty $3000 price.

 

 

Written by Arnie Lee


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What a View

27th August 2014

Wide Angle to the Extreme

It’s eye-catching when I see a photo that “bends” the horizon.

This bend comes from the camera’s lens. Use a very wide angle lens and you’ll see the curved “barrel” distortion on the images. One well-known type of wide angle lenses is the fisheye. These lenses typically have a field of view approaching 180 degrees – allowing you to capture the entire scene in front of the camera.

Until recently, fisheye lenses were expensive. I have one that cost well over $1500. But when I was looking for an ultra-wide angle for my Sony equipment, I found an inexpensive lens made by Rokinon. With its $300 price tag, I was a little skeptical of the quality of images from such a low cost lens but decided to try it regardless.

Here’s a short gallery of some of the scenes that I captured during my first outing with the lens a few weeks ago.
 
 



This is an 8mm f/2.8 fisheye. I wanted an ultra-wide angle for an extra Sony Nex7 mirrorless camera.

The Nex7 is very compact and lightweight. The Rokinon 8mm fisheye is also surprisingly compact.


The Sony Nex7/Rokinon 8mm setup is only about 1/3 the size of my Canon 6D with a Canon 8-15mm fisheye – a true space and weight saver.

One of the first images that I recorded with the new lens was in the Tetons. I especially like the curved horizon.



Here in Yellowstone you can see that the bridge rail curves upwards. The lens does not support the camera’s autofocus feature.

However an 8mm lens has a very wide depth of field which makes focusing less critical as you can see in this image taken at Mono Lake.



At Grand Canyon, the bend in the horizon is amazingly scenic. The lens does not support autoexposure so I set the camera shooting mode to manual, set the lens aperture to f/8 and adjusted to the proper shutter speed.


In both of these photos, you can see that the exposure for both a shaded and sunny scene were correct. Neither the manual focus nor the manual exposure requirements of this lens is a concern.



At Monument Valley I took advantage of the lens’ extreme wide view. Here I was able to take in a 180-degree view to photograph this huge monument within a single image.


The fisheye excels for those of you who like shooting portraits that include the vast surroundings.



At Mesa Verde, we encountered another “tight squeeze”. However, we were able to capture this with the lens’ wide view.


In Rocky Mountain National Park, the lens took in not only the winter’s left over snow but the billowing overhead July clouds.

What about the sharpness?

Here I’ve enlarged a small section of one of the above images. You can clearly see the detail in the face, the lettering of the cap and the tufa formations in the background.

I found the sharpness of this inexpensive lens to be very acceptable.


After my short time with this lens, I am no longer skeptical of it’s quality. The images are tack sharp with very good color reproduction. If you’re on the lookout for an ultra-wide, include this lens in your search.

The Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 fisheye is also available for other camera models as well: Fuji, Samsung and Canon M mount. Other similar versions with a maximum f/3.5 aperture are available for Canon, Nikon, Sony A mount, Pentax and Olympus 4/3.
 
 
Written by: Arnie Lee
 
 


 
 
 
 

Getting Personal

03rd December 2013

Camera Brands are like Religion

Not a week goes by without someone asking me what brand of camera they should buy, a Canon or a Nikon.

Most of the time they’re wanting to replace their good quality point-and shoot camera. They’re looking for more advanced equipment along the lines of a DSLR.

Having owned or used literally dozens of cameras, especially in the past five years, I have a definitive answer which I’ll share with you shortly. But what I find interesting is that so many photo enthusiasts also have very definite answers to this question.

Let me back up a bit and explain why I’m writing this.

A Facebook friend wrote that he was looking for a new DLSR. “Should I buy a Canon or a Nikon?”, he posted. I replied “or a Sony?”. The point I was trying to make was that there are more choices than only Canon and Nikon.

A few minutes later there were many more replies on his Facebook status: “Nikon”; “CanonCanonCanon”; “I shoot Nikon”; “I use a Nikon D90”; “Canon definitely”; “I have a Nikon 5000”; etc.

 

 
It’s not surprising that a camera brand is a very personal choice. It is as though each photographer is pleading with my friend to heed only his or her suggestion. Isn’t proselytizing their brand like forcing a person’s religion onto another?

Yet when I think about it I was doing the same. I was suggesting that a Sony NEX camera is similar to DSLR but without the weight and bulk. And since I am very fond of carrying lightweight equipment, I frequently use a Sony NEX camera.

Of course I could have chosen a different way to respond to his initial post by asking a few qualifying questions: will he be taking lots of sports or action; are movies part of his photography repertoire; how much money does he have to spend.

But frankly these qualifying questions don’t matter much.

Here’s my answer to his question: it doesn’t matter if you choose Canon or Nikon. Both have equally capable cameras in the various price ranges. And Sony also has equally capable cameras. One could argue that Pentax and Olympus also offer quality models too.

There’s too many slanted opinions for my friend to make his choice based on all of the Facebook replies. I hope my friend makes his choice based on how the equipment feels in his hands; getting the most features for the price; availability and affordability of additional lenses; past experience with previous purchases.

What do you think? Any comments?

 

 
Written by: Arnie Lee

 

 

 

 


 

 

Earlier this month I visited several of the photo equipment manufacturers at the annual Consumer Electronics Show. Of course the two majors are Canon and Nikon. And while sales by other camera makers including Sony, Olympus, Pentax and Fuji trail by a large margin, new features continue to arrive rapidly among all new models by all manufacturers. This year, one feature that was common in many models is the addition of wireless functionality.

Since CES, I’ve acquired and tested two of the new DLSRs with wireless capabilities: the Canon 6D and the Nikon D600.

Here’s a quick report on how wireless works with the Canon 6D.

The 6D is the newest DSLR from Canon. Its full-frame sensor has a resolution of 20MB with good low light performance. Its autofocus system uses 11 focus points. Compared to it’s bigger brother the 5D Mark III, it is smaller in size, lighter in weight and less expensive.

The two “new” built-in features are the GPS receiver and its wireless capability. Having GPS automatically adds location information (latitude, longitude and altitude) to the EXIF data of the images.

My interest in the 6D was to see how its wireless capabilities worked.


The Canon 6D can communicate wirelessly with several types of devices: another camera, a smartphone, a printer, a web service or a DLNA device.

For this review I’ll describe my experience connecting with a smartphone. For wireless, there’s a few preliminaries that have to be performed.

The first is to give the 6D a wireless identifier. This step takes just a few minutes using the menus on the back of the camera. Here I’ve set it up with the identifier “Arnie 6D“.

By completing this step, the 6D is now its own wireless station.


The 6D can be used with either an Android or iPhone smartphone.

You’ll first have to install the free EOS Remote app for your particular smartphone.

In my case, I installed the app onto my iPhone.

Using the Settings menu on the iPhone, you connect to the camera with Wi-Fi. Look for the camera’s identifier – Arnie 6D.

For security, you’ll have to enter the Encryption Key to establish the connection.


After the camera and smartphone are connected, the EOS Remote app is ready to use.

It can perform two different functions.

Firstly, you can view the images that have been captured with the 6D.

Secondly, you can use the smartphone as a remote shutter release.


Viewing Images from camera

Choosing Camera Image Viewing brings us to a screen on the smartphone that looks like this.

By default the thumbnails are ordered by date but this can be changed to order them by rating (1 to 5 stars) or folder (if multiple folders are on the camera’s SD card).

In addition to the thumbnail, the technical data each image is also presented. This is helpful if you plan to evaluate the images while still in the field with the purpose of adjusting the settings.


Tapping one of the thumbnails presents a larger version of the thumbnail. For each image you can:

  • Download – to smartphone (1920 x 1280 jpg)
  • Email – send image with a text message
  • Rate – 1 to 5 stars
  • Delete – removes it from the camera

    Capturing Images using the smartphone

    Your smartphone can be used as a remote shutter release with extra capabilities.

    Here I’ve set the camera on a tripod.

    Choosing Remote Shooting activates the 6D Liveview. The smartphone then presents the same view as the camera.

    By tapping on the different areas of the smartphone screen, I can change the autofocus.

    Depending on the 6D’s mode setting I can also change the ISO, shutter speed, aperture and exposure compensation using the smartphone.

    Another simple tap and the camera shutter is released.


    Here’s the image that I took remotely.

    And of course, the just captured image is immediately available if I change back to EOS Remote’s Camera Image Viewing.


    There’s nothing earth shattering with this wireless capability. Yes, you can easily transfer images from the 6D to your smartphone and send them via email to others. And yes, it allows for backup, however the images are reduced to a smaller 1920 x 1280 jpg size.

    I’ll cover more soon in another article about the Canon 6D’s wireless capability with a computer.

    Also in the works is an article about the Nikon D600’s wireless capability.

     

     

    Written by Arnie Lee

     

     

    Photoplus Expo

    25th November 2012

    for both professionals and consumers

    When someone asks me where I’m from, I usually volunteer a two part answer: “I grew up in New York but I live in Michigan”. Still after almost 40 years, it’s a treat for me to return to New York to see friends and family.

    My most recent visit was in late October to attend the Photoplus Expo that’s held each year at the Javits Convention Center.

    I’ve traveled there for the past several years to report on the newest photo products, speak to the equipment vendors and watch several of the live “how-to” seminars.

    This year thousands of professionals and enthusiastic consumers also traveled to New York City to get a hands on experience with the latest photographic equipment and accessories.

    For this report, I’ll concentrate on several of the new digital cameras as these are the among the most popular.

    Nikon D600

    I first saw the Nikon 600 a few weeks ago at the huge Photokina Expo in Cologne, Germany. Nikon’s newest DSLR is positioned as a “prosumer” model. Its full-frame sensor, the same size as a 35mm film frame, offers an impressive 24MP resolution with superior light gathering power and less noise than the more common APS-C size sensors found in many consumer targeted DLSRs.

     

    The D600 is smaller than the full-frame Nikon D800 which was introduced only a few months ago. Its $2100 price is $900 less expensive than the D800 which has a 36MP sensor.

    The autofocus system is switchable between 9, 21 or 39 autofocus points depending on the type of subject. Its high speed image processor can capture up to 5-1/2 frames per second. The large 3.2″ LCD automatically adjusts the brightness to suit the surrounding lighting conditions.

    The D600 automatically recognizes when a DX lens is mounted and adjusts the camera resolution to about 10mp. So owners of DX lenses can continue to benefit from their earlier investment.

    Other notable features are:

    • built-in flash with versatile wireless control of external units
    • dual SD card slots – you can configure the D600 to record duplicate of images on both SD cards or to record jpg images on one card and RAW images on the other
    • in-camera HDR capability – multiple exposures are combined automatically to capture a wider range of tones
    • Active-D lighting – reduces very contrasty scenes to retain detail in highlights and shadows
    • time-lapse – captures multiple frames at specified intervals
    • full 1080p HD video at multiple frame rates
    • uncompressed video output via HDMI cable
    • external stereo input with visual auto level monitor

    Users who want to transmit images directly to a smart device can purchase the inexpensive WU-1b wireless adapter. With this they can backup images and/or share images as text messages or online social media sites.

    The D600 will prove to be a very capable model for those looking to upgrade from one of Nikon’s DX format cameras to a full-frame body. It’s available now for $2100. The price of the WU-1B wireless transmitter is $60.


     

     
    Canon 6D

    Pick up the Canon 6D, and you’ll immediately notice how much smaller (less wide) and lighter it is compared to Canon’s previous full frame 5DMkII and 5DMkIII models. The target market for the 6D is the prosumer who wants to upgrade from an APS-C frame size body, similar to what Nikon is doing with its D600 model.

    Other features of the 6D are:

    • 20MB full-frame sensor
    • 11-point autofocus system
    • high speed capture at 4.5 frames per second
    • single SD card slot
    • in-camera HDR – combines bracketed exposures to yield images which encompass wide exposure levels
    • multiple exposure – superimposes up to nine separate images onto single frame
    • full 1080p HD video at multiple frame rates
    • built-in WiFi – sends images wirelessly to smart devices (computer,mobile phones) for backup or preview
    • built-in GPS – adds location information to images

     

    One feature missing from the 6D is a built-in flash. Normally, this classifies the camera as a professional model. Originally slated for release December 15th, the Canon 6D was already shipping in late November. The price is $2100, same as the Nikon D600.


     

     
    Sony NEX-6

    I have to admit that I’m a big fan of Sony’s line of mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras (MILC). The newest member of the NEX series is the NEX-6. The MILCs are all much smaller and lighter than any of the DLSRs, making them very convenient to carry.

    This model uses a hybrid autofocus system that addresses a shortcoming of the earlier models. Autofocus is now performed by combining fast phase-detection for coarse focusing with contrast-detection for precise focusing.

    Many of the controls on the NEX-6 have been reworked from earlier models to change the settings faster and more conveniently. The high resolution electronic viewfinder lets the user preview the effect of the settings before the shutter is released.

     

    Sony has also introduced a new 16-50mm zoom lens for the NEX series.

    This lens is the first E-mount lens with a power zooming feature.

    The lens ring is used for zooming and manual focusing.

    When it’s not being used, the lens retracts to less than 30mm thereby making the camera and lens combination even more compact.

    The 3″ LCD display has a 920K dot resolution and tilts 90 degrees upward and 45 degrees downward for easy viewing in a variety of shooting situations.

    Among the innovative shooting features are:

    • in-camera HDR – combines three separate images into a single image with wide tonal range
    • adjustable DRO – dynamic range optimizer helps prevent overly contrast images
    • multiframe NR – captures multiple frames and combines parts to produce single framewith least amount of moise
    • sweep panorama – sweep your camera horizontally to take multiple frames which are stitched together in camera
    • built-in flash
    • built-in WiFi – sends images to mobile device or computer for backup or display
    • full 1080p HD video

    The Sony NEX-6 is available now with 16-50mm lens for $1000.


     

    Thanks to the vendors from Nikon, Canon and Sony who provided me with much of the technical information that I’ve presented here.

    The show management told me that more than 24,000 visitors attended this year’s Photoplus Expo. Based on my conversations, I recently added a new Canon 6D to my large inventory of photo equipment. I’m sure that I wasn’t the only one to have made a purchasing decision after the show.

     

    Written by: Arnie Lee

     

     

    Looking for a new camera? Here’s a few.

    Besides being avid an photographer, I’m also a techie. This makes it difficult for me to page past the ads for new camera gear.

    In addition to the higher end cameras, I also collect, experiment, use and review compact cameras.

    This holiday season is an opportune time to shop for a new or replacement camera.

    Why, you ask?

    Well, the prices for high quality compact cameras are extremely attractive. Competition among the major manufacturers is very high and that drives prices down. In one week, I saw the price of several medium-end point-and-shoot models drop 20% as the manufacturers scurried to garner additional holiday sales.

    This isn’t meant to be a review but let me point out a few of the bargains that I saw.

    Canon PowerShot SX230 HS – 14X optical zoom, 12mp, 1080 HD video, builtin GPS, $200 was $300
    Nikon Coolpix S6200 – 7x optical zoom, 16mp, 720 HD video, $130 was $200
    Nikon Coolpix S6200 – 10x optical zoom, 16mp, 720 HD video, $150 was $230
    Nikon Coolpix S9100 – 18x optical zoom 12mp, 1080 HD video, $250 was $330
    Samsung SH100 – 5X optical zoom, 14mp, 720 HD video, builtin wifi upload, $130 was $180
    Sony CyberShot WX9 – 5X optional zoom, 16mp, 1080 HD video, $140 was $200

    You’ll notice that I have listed three Nikon models. Over the past several months, Nikon has been very aggressive with both the number of models that they’ve made and the pricing of them.

    I’ve used three of the cameras listed and have found that the image quality from all to be very good. I am also impressed with the ability to take pictures in low-light with the Nikon models.

    I also enjoy the longer zoom range on many of the models which let me “reach” subjects are farther away than my feet can take me.

    If you’re looking for a new or replacement camera that doesn’t break the bank, you have a large choice available. Best of luck with your shopping.

    ********************************************

    Folllowup: After writing this article, I saw a “deal” that I didn’t want to turn down. I ordered a compact camera to be my pocket companion. I’m buying the Canon Powershot SX230HS for $189.

    This is the third Canon SX200 series camera that I’ve owned. I’ve taken well over 11,000 photos and videos with my older SX210. Being small, it is easy to carry with me on my travels. Yes, I’ve made this camera work hard these past two years.

    The new SX230 takes better photos in low light situations, retains the extended 14x telephoto zoom lens and includes built-in GPS that records the location of my photos. This will make it easy for me to remember where I snapped all of the new pictures.

    With the end of the holidays, retailers are anxious to sell any excess inventory. This makes now a great time to be shopping for a new camera- there are many bargains to be found.

     

     
    Written by Arnie Lee


    Traveling Light

    05th February 2011

    A Vote for the Backpack Camera Case

    Here in Michigan, it’s been bitterly cold with plenty of snow. A blizzard earlier this week closed virtually all of the schools and municipal services and curtailed most of the business at retail stores as well. So it shouldn’t be surprising that I’m looking forward to a few days away from the blustery northern winter to shoot birds in the warmth and sun of the Everglades.

    Since most of my expeditions last only four or five days at a time, when flying I travel light. By carefully selecting the appropriate equipment for a given assignment, it all fits snugly into my backpack camera case. This along with my trusty rollerboard suitcase means that I rarely have to check my luggage for an airline flight, saving me the trouble of waiting at the baggage claim.

    To photograph the birds, I decided on the Canon 7D. Its excellent autofocus system works well with the long 100-400 telephoto. While it doesn’t have the resolution of the 5D MkII, it’s smaller and lighter and also accepts the 10-22mm lens, one of my favorites. I’ll bring along the 2X TeleExtender in case I need the extra reach.

    For a second camera, I’m taking the new Sony Alpha 55. I’ve already put it through six weeks of testing and will use this assignment to complete my review of a very innovative camera. I’m also toting the waterproof Olympus 6020. It may come in handy in Florida’s watery environment.


    this is the equipment that I selected for shooting birds in the Everglades

    all of the equipment fits neatly into the large, padded compartment including the notebook computer

    Here’s the list of equipment that fits inside:

    • Lowepro Fastpack camera backpack
    • Canon 7D camera
    • Canon 100-400mm lens
    • Canon 2X TeleExtender
    • Canon 10-22mm lens
    • Sony Alpha 55 camera
    • Sony 18-250mm lens
    • Olympus 6020 waterproof camera
    • Canon SX210 camera
    • GisTEQ GPS
    • GorillaPod
    • notebook computer
    • several battery chargers

    When fully loaded, this backpack weighs about 40 pounds. It’s heavy but this backpack has wide, padded straps that cushion the weight. The upper compartment has room for a few magazines, an iPad and a some snacks – especially important on a long flight. Conveniently, the backpack fits beneath the passenger seat so that I can get to any of its contents without having to reach into the aircraft’s overhead compartment.

    When I arrive at the hotel, I’ll remove the notebook computer and other non-photographic items. The backpack will then serve as a field camera case. I can comfortably take photos while wearing the backpack. If I swing one of the straps off of my arm, I can access the zippered compartment e.g. to get another lens.

    I’ve been using the Lowepro for more than two years. This represents more than 100,000 miles of air travel and at no time has any of my equipment been damaged. The ballistic nylon outer surface looks almost new. I’ve also owned the Kata and Tamrac backpacks, but the Lowepro has held up the best.

    I have another day of rest before I fly out of this Arctic look-alike. I hope there are some birds left in Florida for me to shoot.

    Written by Arnie Lee

     


    The “Panorama Machine”

    29th December 2010

    Panoramas Made Easy

    Last week Fedex dropped off a small package with another high tech gadget. The shiny box contained a panorama base – a device for easily capturing photographic panoramas.

    Let’s back up to last October when I met Howard Chen at the PhotoPlus Expo in New York. An attractive photo in front of his booth caught my attention. He proceeded to show me how the e-Filming PS-30B Digital Drive Panorama Base automates the making of panorama photographs with popular DSLR cameras: mount the camera on the base, press a few buttons on the control panel and press the start button. A few seconds later and you’ve captured a set of high resolution images ready to be combined (stitched together).

    In addition to the drive unit, the package contains a vertical bar mount, a remote controller and control cables. A cable connects the device to the remote control socket on your DSLR camera. The six included control cables are usable with most of the popular DSLR cameras.

    I spent a few minutes installing the Cool Stitch software from the included CD-ROM and printing the 16-page user’s manual.

    The manual describes the five options available from the LCD control panel: shoot, time, speed, function and language. However in practice, I found that I needed to change only the shoot option.

    There’s also a short article “How to Shoot Photos for Great Looking Panoramas” that appears when you run the Cool Stitch software. I recommend that you print this document and carefully follow the several helpful tips.

    (more…)

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