Friday, June 28, 2013

How to Photograph Fireworks for Canada Day and the Fourth of July

Coming up to two big holidays, I thought it would be a good time to re-run one of my favourite posts. Be you a Nikon, Canon, Fuji, Sony, Pentax, Leica or whatever sort of person, I think it can be universally agreed that fireworks can be one of the most fun events to shoot. For anybody visiting Vancouver this year, the big festival runs starts July 27. So happy start of the summer, everyone!


Summer means fireworks, fireworks mean family outings, and and that of course means photographic opportunities. Fourth of July, kids, hot dogs and fireworks; what more could you ask? (Actually, I would throw in "pool" into that list of actives, but that's another post)  However, capturing fireworks is it's own unique discipline, as it is about capturing essence of movement in a stationary image. Because of this, more so than other forms of picture taking, fireworks shooting involves a high degree of interpretation on the part of the photographer.... it is not possible to sit back and capture what the eye 'sees', because it is not possible to coherently capture all of the movement in one single picture. The end result tends to be vary individualistic. Take two  people and put them side by side and you'll find that the pictures from both take on a distinctive look for each photographer.

ISO 100, f/5.6, 2s, -2/3 EV

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Sony DSC-RX100 II First Impressions

Leaked copy of Japanese language manual. SonyAlpha Rumors

Sony just announced an upgrade to their acclaimed DSC-RX100 advanced compact. As per the rumors, the new model adds a tilt screen... and as a bit of an unanticipated surprise, a new back-side illuminated sensor (BSI) that purports to have 40%  improved light gathering efficiency. Best compact ever all over again, right?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Fujifilm X-M1 First Impressions

Some companies start off with a basic concept and then start adding to it. Fujifilm has ostensibly taken the other route, starting off with the X-Pro1, then removing the optical viewfinder for the X-E1, and then removing the viewfinder altogether for the X-M1. Basically, in exchange for the deletion of the X-E1's electronic view finder, you get a smaller body and a flip-out rear LCD. That's a fair trade for this price range, and even though the internet seems to be constantly crying for viewfinders on this type of camera, the ability to swivel the display screen is something that you would probably get more utility out of.

What's more important is that despite the odds, Fuji has fleshed out what was once a niche camera system into a broad-based line-up that appeals to casual shooters as well as enthusiasts. The X-series is the new NEX system, and in many ways, has made quicker strides in the past year that its Sony counterpart.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Lenspen for DLSR Review

Lenspen has been around for a few years now, but this weekend was the first time that I had a chance to try one. Just to get one thing out of the way, yes it does work as advertised. The tool itself is small and easy to use, which makes it easy to get into the corners of lenses where you might have trouble with an ordinary microfiber cloth.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Nikon D7000 vs Canon EOS 60D

Canon EOS 60D

Canon versus Nikon; that old saw. The Nikon D7000 and Canon EOS 60D are now in a sweet-spot in terms for value for price. If you pay more, you can get more features with the D7100 over the D7000, but unless you are dedicated to your craft, the maximum potential of that difference won't be realized. The situation is different with the 60D; with no replacement in site, the step-up would be to the 7D, which itself is getting long in the tooth. Both the D7000 and the 60D once the top of the serious enthusiast range for their respective companies, but they were also cameras moving in two directions. The D7000 was climbing up-market, with a modest price increase but improved build quality over the D90 in the form of additional weather sealing and a partial metal frame to name a few. The 60D, meanwhile, went downmarket, shedding the metal body construction of the 50D, but adding the "consumer" friendly feature of a swiveling rear LCD screen. Both can be had a discount now, as they are now one generation behind the latest and greatest. (Technically speaking, the 60D is still current, as there is no 70D at the moment, but it's now old enough to be considered a generation behind.)

Nikon D7000

So the question is, if you aren't married into either camera system and want a decent camera, but don't want to pay the premium of having the latest and greatest, which camera would by right for you?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

First Impressions of the Leica X Vario Type 107

Today was the launch day for the Leica X Vario Type 107, one of the strangest marketing campaigns that we've seen in the camera world. It's as if they dared us to hope that the camera would not be what all the signs were pointing at....

  • 16.5MP APS-C sensor
  • Leica Vario Elmar 1:3.5-6.4/18-46mm ASPH lens (28-70mm equivalent): 8 elements in 6 groups, 1 ASPH element
  • Minimal focusing distance: 30cm
  • ISO range: 100-12,500
  • Max shutter speed: 1/2000s
  • 3" TFT LCD with 921k dots
  • Full HD video
  • Built-in flash
  • Adobe Lightroom  included
  • Battery capacity: 450 exposures
  • Dimensions: 133 x 73 x 95mm
  • Weight: 680g 
  • Price: around 2,500 Euros or $2,850 USD
Let's go straight to the source of all the angst, the lens:

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Would a Graphene Sensor Be 1000x More Sensitive Than Silicon?

Word last week out of Singapore`s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) was that a team of researchers had made a breakthrough in producing a new type of graphene-based image sensor. News sites and tech blogs quickly picked up on the ``1000x more sensitive to light`` aspect of the technology. Roughly translated, that's just shy of 10 stops worth of improvement, but is that even possible?