Monday, October 19, 2015

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Review

Even though photography is a "classic" pursuit,,,timeless and discovered by each new generation... the commercial market for photographic equipment is driven by novelty. We, as photographers, tell each other that the smart money is in lenses... that lenses will be useful long after bodies have become obsolete. If that were true - and it mostly is - then the camera manufactures would have a tough time selling anything. The truth is that lenses don't become obsolete, but they are getting better as time goes by.

Unfortunately, "better" also means more expensive. Working with precision optics isn't like working with electronics... there isn't a "Moore's Law" of camera lenses. If you want a better camera lens, i8t will almost invariably be more expensive. Today's lenses are sharper and better corrected than their predecessors, but the average selling price has gone up accordingly. Which brings us to the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM. Not a red-ring lens. Not a new lens. No fancy coatings. No aspherical elements. Not sexy like the Sony Batis 85mm f/1.8, yet this is almost a no-brainer as far as portrait lenses go for Canon users.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Nikon Camera Settings: ADL, Sharpening and Clarity

Nikon D7200 with ColorChecker Passport

Camera manufacturers sets their image defaults differently from each other. This leads to the general impression that one camera will have one particular "look" compared to another, or that one brand has better skin-tones than the competitor. While this can be the case, the truth is that much of a camera's default JPEG output can be tuned to one's taste with a quick dive into the menus. The following is with regards to Nikon cameras, but the principles apple to all digital cameras.

We'll be focusing on three specific optimizations: Active D-Lighting (dynamic range optimization), and from within the Picture Controls menu, sharpness and clarity. The reason why is that all three settings can be used to produce a crisper and punchier looking image, but at a cost of low-level image quality. The key is knowing how much to use and when to use it.

(Just as an aside, the use of the ColorChecker Passport is a bit of a camera-reviewer joke. These things have a proper use, but you almost always see them as part of ISO targets.)