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SmugMug Films: Point, Click, ShootTokyo

DPReview News - Wed, 07/20/2016 - 03:00
SmugMug's latest film features street photographer Dave Powell, the man behind the popular blog 'Shoot Tokyo'. In the video, Powell takes us on a tour through the streets of one of the most visually distinctive cities on earth. In an accompanying interview, Powell explains why he moved to Tokyo, and what it is about the city that keeps him inspired as a photographer. 

Check out the latest video above and subscribe to the SmugMug Films YouTube channel to get first access to each new episode!

Categories: Photo Gear News

Leica introduces silver version of the APO-SUMMICRON-M 50mm F2 ASPH

DPReview News - Wed, 07/20/2016 - 02:00

German camera manufacturer Leica has announced that it is to introduce a version of its premium f/2 standard lens for the M system finished in anodised silver. Until now the lens, which was first announced in 2012, has only been available in a black finish. Leica claims this manual focus 50mm is the best quality lens it produces for the M system, which perhaps goes some way to explaining its $7795/£5600 price tag.

The new silver version of the lens however will cost a little extra, at $7995/£5900.

The lens is classed in the company’s ‘fast and compact’ series, and uses eight elements in five groups including three APO elements and two that have what the company describes as a ‘high refractive index’. The lens weighs 10.58oz/300g and measures 1.85in/47mm in length and 2.09in/53mm in diameter.

The new silver APO-SUMMICRON-M 50mm f/2 ASPH will be available at the end of the month. For more information visit the Leica website.

Press release


Sharpest ever standard lens now available in silver anodised finish

Leica Camera has today announced that the APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH. is now available in a silver anodised version. Thanks to its meticulous optical design, high quality materials, and sophisticated manufacturing and finishing process, this high-performance lens is considered to be the reference lens among standard focal lengths.

With its combination of exceptional sharpness and imaging performance that captures and resolves even the finest details, the APO-Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 ASPH. is characterised by extremely high contrast rendition from corner to corner of the image – at maximum aperture and throughout the aperture range. The use of a floating element in its design ensures that this is also maintained at close shooting distances.

Eight lens elements are employed to achieve this outstanding optical performance. Three of the lenses are made from glass types with anomalous partial dispersion or apochromatic correction, and two have a high refractive index. The specially-formulated glass employed is based on original developments from the former Leitz glass laboratory, and the use of this particular glass requires extensive effort and many years of experience. Thanks to continuous advancements in optical technology, processes have since been refined and perfected to achieve the best possible image quality.

As with all other Leica lenses, the Leica APO-Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 ASPH. was designed and developed by Leica specialists in Wetzlar and represents the perfect combination of optical and technical expertise. Exceptionally reliable with enduring value, and with the ‘Made in Germany’ quality guarantee, the lens is manufactured from the finest materials and is meticulously assembled by hand. This combination of cutting-edge technology and precise manufacturing procedures ensures consistent excellence at all times.

Pricing and availability

The Leica APO-Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 ASPH. (silver anodised) is scheduled to be available at the end of July 2016 at a suggested retail price of £5,900 including VAT.

Categories: Photo Gear News

Accusations fly over Fukushima photos

DPReview News - Tue, 07/19/2016 - 16:06

We recently featured the photography of Keow Wee Loong, who claimed he had entered Fukushima's exclusion zone without a permit. His photos of the area have been widely shared on social media and by other publications. While controversial in their own right, a blog post by Polish photographer Arkadiusz Podniesinski accuses Keow of mis-representing the images, stating that the photos he released were actually taken in publicly accessible green and orange zone areas that don't require special permits to enter.

Keow Wee Loong has posted a rebuttal on his own Facebook page, stating that he did in fact enter red zones without a permit, describing the towns he visited as 'basically empty' save for a few police patrols.

An image posted by Keow Wee Long on his Facebook page comparing the locations he claims to have recorded for his own photos to recent maps documenting evacuation status of towns in the region.

Singaporean website flags a few of the locations photographed by Keow on Google Maps, stating that they are in fact in areas where residents are permitted limited access. But areas without red zone restrictions may still look very much abandoned. In an article published in March, the Japan Times reported that while many communities in Fukushima Prefecture had seen restrictions lifted, many residents were reluctant to return.

It's difficult to say whether Keow is misrepresenting or sensationalizing his story as Podniesinski claims, or whether he may have believed he was in more dangerous territory than he really was. Does the controversy change how you view these photos? Let us know in the comments.

Categories: Photo Gear News

Sea of Air

The Online Photographer - Tue, 07/19/2016 - 12:57
"You like farmland, I like sky." —David Dyer-Bennet, commenting on the previous post You should like this then David: Vorticity (4K) from Mike Olbinski on Vimeo. The atmosphere is a sea of air, about as deep relative to the Earth... Michael Johnston
Categories: Photography

Comparison Review: Sony FE 50mm F1.4 ZA vs 55mm F1.8 ZA

DPReview News - Tue, 07/19/2016 - 11:15

Sony has announced a high-end 'normal' prime for its Alpha E-mount line of cameras: the Planar T* 50mm F1.4 ZA lens. As the third normal prime for the system, we wanted to know what it offers over the already excellent FE 55mm F1.8 ZA, so we set about performing some benchmark tests.

We'll take a look at sharpness on this page, and bokeh, coma, and longitudinal chromatic aberration on the next.


Below, you'll see a series of aperture progressions for the 50mm F1.4 ZA and 55mm F1.8 ZA. Have a look around the scene at various apertures to get an idea of the capabilities of these two lenses - with the caveat that this performance is only representative of our single copy of each lens.

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Wide-open, the 55/1.8 is slightly sharper than the 50/1.4, both centrally$(document).ready(function() { $("#imageComparisonLink2690").click(function() { ImageComparisonWidgetLink(2690); }); }) and peripherally$(document).ready(function() { $("#imageComparisonLink2691").click(function() { ImageComparisonWidgetLink(2691); }); }) (the advantage is retained on the left side$(document).ready(function() { $("#imageComparisonLink2692").click(function() { ImageComparisonWidgetLink(2692); }); }) of the frame as well, despite the fact that our 55/1.8 is slightly decentered and has poorer left side performance). But none of this should be too surprising, since sharpness at F1.4 is far more challenging than at F1.8. In fact, the 50/1.4 holds up very well considering the 2/3 EV disparity in f-stop.

Comparing both lenses at F1.8 (a more level playing field), the 50/1.4 catches up to the 55/1.8 in terms of center sharpness$(document).ready(function() { $("#imageComparisonLink2695").click(function() { ImageComparisonWidgetLink(2695); }); }), but still lags in peripheral sharpness on the left$(document).ready(function() { $("#imageComparisonLink2693").click(function() { ImageComparisonWidgetLink(2693); }); }) and right$(document).ready(function() { $("#imageComparisonLink2694").click(function() { ImageComparisonWidgetLink(2694); }); }) sides of the frame. By F2, though, the 50/1.4 just surpasses$(document).ready(function() { $("#imageComparisonLink2701").click(function() { ImageComparisonWidgetLink(2701); }); }) the 55/1.8 in central sharpness, though off-center it still lags a bit$(document).ready(function() { $("#imageComparisonLink2702").click(function() { ImageComparisonWidgetLink(2702); }); }). By F2.8 though, the 50/1.4 pulls ahead$(document).ready(function() { $("#imageComparisonLink2703").click(function() { ImageComparisonWidgetLink(2703); }); }) of the 55/1.8 even here off-center, and particularly at center$(document).ready(function() { $("#imageComparisonLink2696").click(function() { ImageComparisonWidgetLink(2696); }); }) where it pulls and stays ahead at higher F- numbers. Peripherally, though, the 50/1.4 never quite catches up to the 55/1.8, not at F2.8$(document).ready(function() { $("#imageComparisonLink2697").click(function() { ImageComparisonWidgetLink(2697); }); }), and not even by F5.6$(document).ready(function() { $("#imageComparisonLink2698").click(function() { ImageComparisonWidgetLink(2698); }); }) (the lenses are a bit more even on the left side at F2.8$(document).ready(function() { $("#imageComparisonLink2699").click(function() { ImageComparisonWidgetLink(2699); }); }) and F5.6$(document).ready(function() { $("#imageComparisonLink2700").click(function() { ImageComparisonWidgetLink(2700); }); }) due to the weaker performance of our 55/1.8 on the left but, technically, the F1.4 is still a little bit behind).

What does this mean?

The new 50/1.4 ZA displays impressive sharpness and contrast at F1.4. Our copy didn't hold up as well as the 55/1.8 wide open, but displayed particularly respectable performance considering the 2/3 stop light and depth-of-field advantage. These new lens designs deliver sharp and punchy images wide open, instead of the soft and hazy images you may be used to getting if you slap on old F1.4 designs on such high resolution sensors (remember that we're using the unforgiving 42MP a7R II for this test).

That said, the new 50/1.4 does not retain this sharpness across the field as well as the 55/1.8, which offers better field uniformity at all apertures. By F2, though, the new 50/1.4 ZA matches the 55/1.8 in central sharpness, and surpasses it at all smaller apertures. Considering the high bar set by the 55/1.8 ZA, this is very impressive. However, you give up off-center sharpness at the widest apertures. If we were forced to pick an overall winner here in terms of sharpness, we'd probably go with the 55/1.8, but really there isn't a huge difference between the two, particularly when you factor in the realities of copy variation.

Roger Cicala over at LensRentals found the Sony 50mm F1.4 lens to be the sharpest centrally of any 50mm prime, outperforming the 55mm F1.8 ZA. However, peripherally, the 50/1.4 takes a plunge in terms of resolution, and the 55mm F1.8 pulls ahead. In fact, just 4mm out from center in the image circle, tangential resolution (which we assess by considering the highest frequency MTF trace: 50 lp/mm) drops below that of the 55/1.8 (solid purple line). Source: LensRentals Blog

It's worth noting that Roger Cicala at LensRentals found the central sharpness wide open of the 50/1.4 to exceed the 55/1.8 (see MTF traces above), while our visual results don't show the 50/1.4 to exceed the 55/1.8 until F2.8. We can't rule out the possibility that our copy of the 50/1.4 slightly under-performed relative to the average, perhaps due to decentering; however, it's reassuring that he found the 55/1.8 to offer greater uniformity. This difference in peripheral sharpness may be the reason for the apparent discrepancy in our results, though copy variation is also highly likely to play a role (note that the worst performing 50/1.4 Roger tested was significantly worse than the best 55/1.8).

To elaborate, below we show our infinity scene overlaid with red and blue rings representing image heights of 4mm and 16mm, respectively: the two points where the 50 lp/mm MTF traces of the two lenses intersect. Between these rings, Roger's 50/1.4 tangential 50 lp/mm trace falls below the 55/1.8. Hence, our visual shootout seems to agree with Roger's results: aside from a very small region in the center, the 55/1.8 does outperform the 50/1.4 wide open (though we don't see the improvement towards the edges of the 50/1.4 that Roger sees: our 55/1.8 remains ahead peripherally). And, again, we may have tested a copy that under-performs relative to the average, which Roger's data is more representative of.

Our infinity scene with red and blue rings that represent 4mm and 16mm image heights (distance from center in the image circle). Between these regions, Roger's own MTF data indicate a dip in tangential resolution. It may only be a small region in the center (within the red circle) where the 50/1.4 significantly out-resolves the 55/1.8 wide open, which would explain the apparent discrepancy between Roger's results and ours. Copy variation is also likely to play a role in the differences - we only tested a single copy.

All that said, sharpness isn't everything. How does the new 50/1.4 fare in terms of bokeh, coma, and purple/green fringing? Let's take a look on the next page.

Categories: Photo Gear News

CASE Remote Air is the world's smallest smart camera controller

DPReview News - Tue, 07/19/2016 - 10:56

CheeringTech, the maker of the CASE smartphone remote for DSLRs, has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo for a lighter and smaller next-generation version, the CASE Remote Air.

CheerinTech says at 61 x 40.6 x 5mm/2.4 x 1.6 x 0.2in the CASE Remote Air is the world’s smallest smart camera controller. At only 50 grams it is also very lightweight. Like similar devices, it connects to the USB-port of your DSLR and creates a Wi-Fi hotspot that allows for a wireless connection to your smartphone or PC. Using a dedicated app you can then see the camera's live view image on the display of your smartphone, alter camera parameters, control video shooting or use one of the special modes, such as focus-stacking or time-lapse. In addition, you can download images from the camera to your device, including Raw files.

CASE Remote Air works with many Canon and Nikon DSLRs and can be controlled from Android and iOS mobile devices or PC and Apple computers. You can currently reserve a CASE Remote Air for $79 plus shipping. Delivery is expected for October. More information, including a full list of compatible cameras, can be found on the Indiegogo crowdfunding site

Categories: Photo Gear News

Aputure Amaran AL-M9 is a pocket-sized adjustable LED fill light

DPReview News - Tue, 07/19/2016 - 10:13

Still photography and video accessory purveyor Aputure has unveiled the Amaran AL-M9, an affordable pocket-sized LED panel. It uses 9 SMD TLCI 99 bulbs, an integrated rechargeable Li-ion battery, offers 9-step brightness adjustment and 120-degree light beam angle, and is a lightweight at 140g. Aputure bills the Amaran AL-M9 as a multi-purpose light for macro photography and ‘run and gun video,’ among other uses.

Aputure says the Amaran AL-M9 is the size of a credit card with an 11mm thickness, and offers 350 lux at a distance of 0.5m. The light can be attached to a standard 1/4-20” mount, and includes a pair of magnetic diffusion filters.

The Amaran AL-M9 is available for pre-order from Amazon for $45 with a launch date of August 6. Shipping is currently estimated to happen between August 17 and 26, however.

Via: PetaPixel

Categories: Photo Gear News

Trippy mirrored timelapse turns Hong Kong upside down

DPReview News - Tue, 07/19/2016 - 07:28

Skill, dedication, vision: a good timelapse requires all of these things. A really cool subject helps too. 'The Allegory of the Cave,' a new timelapse from Visual Suspect, checks all of those boxes. By mirroring Hong Kong's vibrant cityscapes, its creators aim to play with themes of 'perception and knowledge as reflection of our reality.' 

Familiar images of skyscrapers in clouds or boats in a harbor become abstract shapes – where does one image stop and its reflection begin? Is anything real?

See? We told you it was trippy. 

Categories: Photo Gear News

On the Way Home

The Online Photographer - Tue, 07/19/2016 - 04:52
Took this on the way home from the grocery store last night. This picture probably explains better than anything why I can't get a different camera...I just like the Fuji's files. They're so...tasty, somehow. It's not like any other camera... Michael Johnston
Categories: Photography

Deep dive: the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II is an underwater ace

DPReview News - Tue, 07/19/2016 - 04:00
Canon 1Dx Mark II Underwater Camera Review

By Backscatter Staff

Backscatter Underwater Video & Photo is the largest underwater imaging equipment supplier in the world. They love the water, and they personally dive and shoot with the gear they sell. This article originally appeared on their website and is reproduced here with their permission.

Backscatter is fortunate to have a large customer base of professional underwater filmmakers. This year our conversations on 4K cinema have revolved around three cameras: Red Weapon/EPIC Dragon, Sony a7R Mark II, and the new Canon EOS-1DX II. We've spent many hours underwater with each of these cameras and this article compiles our Canon 1DX II tests from four uniquely skilled underwater professionals.

Canon 1Dx Mark II underwater housing system configured for wide angle.
Nauticam NA-1DXII Underwater Housing, Nauticam 8.5 inch Dome Port, Keldan 8,000 Lumen Video Lights,Canon 1Dx Mark II Camera, Canon 8-15mm Fisheye Lens. Who is this camera for?

If you're both an underwater photographer and filmmaker, our test results confirm the Canon 1DX II is hands down the greatest camera we've tested to date. It's a no compromise professional photography camera capable of shooting both 20MP stills at 14fps and 4K 60p video in incredibly low light. While it doesn't offer the raw video and flexibility of a RED, it shoots broadcast quality 4K motion at a fraction of the size and cost and out performs favorites such as the Sony A7 series in low noise when tasked with the extreme requirements of underwater white balance.

Backscatter has spent over 20 years finding the best underwater cameras and we've learned that a chart-topping land camera is not always the best underwater camera. The new Canon 1DX Mark II is a good example. While leading groups such as DxOMark give it a ranking of 21st place, we give the Canon 1DX MK II a clear first place position for underwater applications.

The high ISO and high bit rate of the Canon 1Dx II combine to make smooth blue water transitions without banding or red channel noise even at extreme underwater white balance settings of 50,000K+. This video was shot with Canon 1DX II, Canon 8-15mm lens, and ISO settings from 320-6400. Select HD playback of 4K for full experience. Video by Backscatter staff Berkley White. Real-world underwater low light performance ISO performance results can vary greatly between underwater and land environments. Underwater we are forced to use extreme white balance settings of 30,000K - 50,000K or swim around with 10,000 Lumen lights just to illuminate a subject 3 feet from the camera. These underwater requirements can turn land camera test results upside down.

Our previous tests showed the Canon 1Dc was a top performer with a maximum of ISO 1250 for images in blue water and a maximum of ISO 2500 when shooting in high contrast or artificial light. The new Canon 1DX MK II now opens up blue water scenes to ISO 2500 and high contrast shots such as caves or wrecks in ambient light up to ISO 6400 even at extreme white balance settings.

White balance is less of an issue for underwater photography as raw files are easily corrected in post. For this application we do agree that cameras such as the Sony A7 series and Nikon D810 offer better low light performace, but we found the Canon 1DX II's combination of great white balance capabilities, high bit rate video, and great ISO performance make it the best performing camera for photographer / videographer professionals.

This video was shot at 50 feet underwater with only a manual white balance and no artifical light. Canon remains king when it comes to nailing color underwater with a manual white balance. The live autofocus of the Canon 1DX II was able to stay focused on this grouper, even at lips to lens distances with thin depth of field. Shot with Canon 1DX II and Canon 8-15mm lens. Select HD playback of 4K for full experience. Video by Backscatter Pro Team member Erin Quigley.
The simplicity of underwater white balance – without filters or lights

Most underwater videographers have preferred Canon cameras for a good reason. Red light is lost within the first 10 feet underwater and you're quickly left with nothing but the blues. To make whites appear white in ambient light, you'll need an extreme white balance setting of 30,000K - 50,000K or more. Currently only Canon DSLRs offer this extreme white balance range to produce brilliant underwater color in-camera. As our previous testing shows, Sony cameras such as the entire A7 series are unable to white balance below 10 feet without a red filter on the lens as it is limited to 9,900K. Required filter use makes shooting in mixed lighting difficult or logistically impossible underwater. Our latest tests with the new Nikon D500 revealed it to be the best Nikon to date, but it often takes 10 to 20 attempts to register an underwater white balance at depth. RED cameras can white balance without a filter, but even modified with a H2O ELPF can't match the rich blues that are so easily produced with Canon cameras. 

When performed correctly underwater, a manual white balance with the Canon 1DX II will almost eliminate the need for color correction in post and not burden the underwater videographer with filter maintenance or the requirement to always keep subjects within 3 feet of even the brightest underwater lights. If you want to keep it simple underwater, nothing beats a camera that produces great underwater color with a manual white balance.

While Canon's new autofocus system stunned us in wide angle and on-land tracking tests, it's still not quite there for real world underwater macro without further experimentation. Stay tuned for our new tests. Video by Backscatter staff Rusty Sanoian.
Autofocus with underwater cinema? Almost! Canon's new Dual Pixel Autofocus performed incredibly well on land and we were excited to put it to the test underwater. This new autofocus system includes Flexizone Mode which offers a manually positioned zone at any point on the screen while the new AF Tracking Mode allows the focus zone to follow a moving subject across the frame. Experienced underwater videographers know that autofocus has only spelled certain death with all large sensor cameras to date. Thus, we were stunned to discover that Flexizone AF Mode was not only fast but extremely accurate in underwater wide angle scenes. For example, Erin Quigley's video of the grouper was shot in full AF Servo mode even at close focus and low depth of field. We were even able to start a clip two meters away from a subject and push in until the subject touched the dome with smooth focus throughout. Flexizone AF Mode was the most accurate and responsive system we've seen for underwater wide angle.

We hoped AF Tracking Mode would shine with the razor thin depth of field in underwater macro scenes. This mode worked surprisingly well on land, but was not a slam dunk underwater. First, underwater housings don't yet offer the ability to use the touchscreen to select focus points and require the user to position the focus zone with the joystick and activate with the set button. Secondly, water motion and passing particles seemed to cause the focus to hunt enough that we preferred to set and lock focus for most macro subjects. While some of Rusty Sanoian's Monterey macro video used AF Tracking Mode, the majority was captured by locking focus before each shot. We are currently testing lowering the secondary menu options that Canon has cryptically named "When Active" and "AF Speed" to see if we can make AF Tracking a reliable function for underwater macro.

Experienced underwater videographers should also note that the Canon 1Dx Mark II default setting is for Movie Servo AF to be enabled and thus the camera will AF continuously even when not recording. We recommend modifying the custom controls menu to reprogram the Set or the front Function button to Pause Movie Servo AF and always monitor the LCD to verify AF is paused during low contrast pans. Further, it's important to note that Pause Movie Servo AF will sometimes turn off after the camera goes to sleep or is cycled on and off causing unwanted AF activation. Underwater camera operators might find it best to turn Movie Servo AF off when shooting a full dive in very low contrast conditions.

Videos shot at 60p then slowed down to 30p has the effect of adding more drama to the image. More importantly, underwater shooters can't always set up a tripod on a pristine reef and slow motion helps us eliminate camera shake for hand held sequences. Video by Backscatter Pro Team member Dustin Adamson.
Why is 4K 60fps amazing for underwater video? Stability! We've all fallen in love with slow motion videos and the hidden world that is exposed when we slow down real time. The Canon 1DX II would not be considered a slow motion camera on land, but 60fps and 120fps video is about all we need in the fluid underwater environment. On land it may be easy to mount a camera to a tripod for rock steady footage, but we can't always drop a tripod on a pristine reef. Slowing down reality helps us add stability to our shots. Maybe that clip of the mother humpback with her calf caught you unexpectedly and you had some camera shake? Slowing your 60fps video to 30fps will double your clip length and smooth out your camera wobbles. Maybe you were fighting your tripod when a tiny jaw fish was aerating his eggs? Playback your video at 30fps to get 2x the time on a great macro behavior shot with less camera shake. You'll pay a price on hard drives when shooting higher frame rates, but you'll double your chances to get the shot. Cons of large file sizes and issues with new CFast cards The Canon 1DX II is outfitted with (1) CF and (1) CFast card slot. All 4K 60P recording longer than 10 seconds must be recorded to the new CFast card. At a blistering 6GB per minute, you'll need to buy 256GB CFast cards to get roughly 40 minutes of recording time per dive. Newcomers to low compression 4K will also need to upgrade their portable and home hard disks in a major way. Hard drives are inexpensive these days, but CFast cards are bleeding edge and still demand a premium price.

Canon recently issued a firmware update to fix issues with Sandisk CFast cards. Our test pilots didn't experience any of these Sandisk issues, but one had a catastrophic issue with a Lexar 256GB card that was unrecoverable. Currently Backscatter is only recommending Delkin 256GB CFast cards as they have been the only cards without reported issues. Stay tuned for more feedback from the field. Which 4K camera is best underwater?  Canon 1DX II VS. SONY A7 SERIES CAMERAS

In an era where airline baggage fees have people compromising with smaller cameras, the mirrorless Sony a7R Mark II has been a crowd favorite for good reason. Its large sensor produces beautiful low noise 42MP stills, 4K 30p video, and a complete system is easily carried on a plane all at a great price. It performs best when shooting macro scenes where features such as focus peaking and super 35 mode really shine. The Sony a7R Mark II becomes difficult to use for underwater wide angle. The above-mentioned inability to white balance without a filter makes shooting with or without lights on the same dive almost impossible. Advanced photographers will miss an optical viewfinder when trying to compose wide-angle scenes at upward angles. In these situations the mirrorless screen overexposes and only provides a guess on classic underwater photo compositions. Filmmakers will greatly prefer the 800mbps data rate and 60fps of the Canon 1DX II over the Sony's 100mbps and 30fps when scaling to larger projects. For most people the choice between these two cameras will be a mater of budget, physical size, and ability to overcome the limitations of the Sony a7R Mark II


If your project has the budget, the RED EPIC DRAGON remains the ultimate "fix it in post camera." RED continues to offer the greatest dynamic range, bitrate, and lens selection. If your project has skilled editors and colorists, they'll prefer the flexibility that raw video offers to correct shooting errors and ability to color match a project across a wide range of unpredictable natural light sequences. The H2O OLPF filter and Dragoncolor 2 color space have significantly helped RED reproduce underwater color, but we'd like to see more underwater performance in a system in this price range. While RED remains king of large budget projects, the Canon 1DX II will certainly be the top pick for streamlined underwater productions. Based on our tests, the Canon 1DX II offers better saturated blues and overall lower noise in the blue light (red light starved) underwater environment. Assuming the proper white balance and exposure is attained while in water, the 1Dx Mark II footage looks fantastic out of the camera and is ready to pass to the Director or Producer in the field eliminating the need for expert level grading. If your project is heavy underwater and you have a medium to small budget, the 1Dx Mark II is an easy win.

Canon 1Dx Mark II underwater housing configured for macro.
Nauticam NA-1DXII Underwater Housing, Nauticam Flat Port, Nauticam SMC Macro Lens, Dive & See 5 inch Monitor, Light & Motion Sola Video 2500 Lumen Lights, XIT404 Tripod Plate, XIT404 Tripod Legs, Canon 1Dx Mark II Camera, Canon 100 IS Macro Lens. We know you have questions – give us a call!

The team here at Backscatter is just like you. We want to spend the least on our personal gear, but still get the most future-proof camera system available. Give our cinema experts a call. We're happy to walk you through all of the options and guide you towards the best camera for your goals and budget. 

Backscatter Underwater Video & Photo is the largest underwater imaging equipment supplier in the world. Since 1994, Backscatter has supported sport divers, filmmakers, and production companies with gear and technical support from its locations in Monterey, California and Derry, New Hampshire. Backscatter is far from a typical retailer and lives by its motto, “We dive, shoot, and service everything we sell” by publishing hundreds of detailed gear reviews from first hand experience and offering instructional seminars and trips around the world.

Backscatter is the only US retailer with a complete in-house warranty service center for all major underwater brands. Backscatter is the US distributor for Olympus in the scuba diving retail channel and also manufacturers its own line of underwater camera accessories such as the FLIP system of color correction optics for GoPro cameras. For more about Backscatter or articles on equipment and technique, please see

Categories: Photo Gear News

Mindshift Gear gives Moose Peterson backpacks a facelift

DPReview News - Mon, 07/18/2016 - 16:29

Mindshift Gear has given the Moose Peterson backpack range an update with new design elements and materials, according to the California-based company. The bags now feature tuck-away belts and harnesses, stronger seams and shoulder straps as well as new zipper pulls that make it easier to open and close the compartments when wearing gloves. The three bags each retain the original ‘Moose Ear’ automatically closing flaps that help to keep dust out of the main sections of the bags, but now the bags are slightly larger to take accomodate bigger modern DSLR cameras.

The bags each hold three DSLR bodies with attached lenses, with the MP-1 V2.0 being the larger model that's suitable for very long lenses, and the MP-7 V2.0 is the smaller, but still capable of holding a 70-200mm type lens on one of the bodies. The MP-1 V2.0 is priced at $349.99, the MP-3 V2.0 is $279.99 and the MP-7 V2.0 is $199.99.

For more information visit the Mindshift Gear website

Press release:

MindShift Gear and Moose Peterson Collaborate to Update Classic Moose Peterson Outdoor Photography Backpacks

SANTA ROSA, CALIF. – Working in partnership with renowned wildlife photographer Moose Peterson, MindShift Gear has updated the three classic Moose Peterson backpacks. Initially designed for wildlife and safari photographers, the backpacks feature a three-compartment layout that helps protect their gear from the elements.

The Moose Pack series is available in three sizes: MP-1, MP-5 and the smallest, the MP-7. The backpacks can carry up to three DSLR camera bodies with telephoto lenses attached—up to 600mm f/4. This strategy enables photographers to be ready to capture wildlife at any distance without changing lenses or exposing the sensor to the elements.

The backpacks also feature the same innovative “Moose Ear” flaps that close automatically, protecting camera gear from dust and debris common in wildlife photography. And because nature photographers often travel to remote locations, the packs are designed to meet airline carry on requirements, and even fit in the overhead compartment of the smallest regional jets.

Moose Peterson is a recognized Nikon USA Ambassador, Lexar Elite Photographer, recipient of the John Muir Conservation Award, and Research Associate with the Endangered Species Recovery Program. He also shares his knowledge through writing, being published in over 143 magazines worldwide, authoring 28 books including Photographic FUNdementals and Taking Flight and Captured, and lecturing across the country to thousands of photographers. As one of the original Nikon shooters to receive the D1 in 1999, Moose became the first wildlife photographer to shoot strictly digital.

“Moose Peterson backpacks are renowned for serving the needs of traveling photographers,” said Doug Murdoch, Think Tank Photo’s CEO and lead designer. “It has been a joy collaborating with him on bringing these classic designs back to the marketplace. While their design and materials have been enhanced, the designs of all three backpacks retain Moose’s original vision.”


  • Original 1998 ‘Moose Ears’ design with auto-close compartment flaps protect the interior from dust, spray, wind, etc.
  • Three compartment system allows you to keep lenses attached providing the quickest way to access gear
  • Tuck-away harness system with removable waistbelt easily allows you to streamline your bag when loading it in a train, plane or automobile (MP-1 & MP-3 only)
  • Sized for carry-on, allowing you to get the maximum amount of gear on the plane
  • Long glass carrying solution with body attached
  • Tripod/monopod mounting system on side and front
  • Flap guard protects front zippers
  • Highest quality RC Fuse YKK zippers, 600D and 420D nylon construction for long-lasting durability and strength
  • Dual-density foam padded shoulder harness, cushioned with air mesh
  • Zippered side pockets fit full-sized flashes (MP-7 only)
  • Stretch water bottle pocket fits 32 oz. water bottle
  • Robust zipper pulls are easily gripped with or without gloves
  • Seam-sealed rain cover/drop cloth included protects against rain and dust


Moose Peterson MP-7 V2.0

  • Holds 1 gripped body attached to 70–200mm f/2.8 and two ungripped bodies with primes attached, two flashes and accessories
  • Or, holds 1 gripped body and one ungripped body with 70–200mm f/2.8, 24–70mm f/2.8, 14–24mm f/2.8 (or 16–35mm f/2.8), a 2x teleconverter, two flashes and accessories
  • Maximum lens size: 200mm f/2 attached to a gripped body

Moose Peterson MP-3 V2.0

  • 3 gripped DSLRs with lenses attached, 1–2 additional lenses and 1–2 flashes and accessories
  • Or, 3 gripped bodies and 1 ungripped body detached from lenses, 4–5 standard zoom lenses, 1–2 flashes, a 2x teleconverter and accessories
  • Maximum lens size: Holds 600mm f/4 detached or 500mm f/4 lens attached to a gripped body

Moose Peterson MP-1 V2.0

  • 3 gripped DSLRs with lenses attached,3–5 additional lenses, 2x teleconverter,1–2 flashes and accessories
  • Or, 3 gripped bodies and 1 ungripped body detached from lenses, 7–8 standard zoom lenses, 1–2 flashes, a 2x teleconverter and accessories
  • Maximum lens size: Holds 800mm detached

Exterior: For superior water resistance, all exterior fabric has a durable water-repellant coating, plus the underside of the fabric has a polyurethane coating. The backpacks also feature highest-quality abrasion-resistant YKK® RC-Fuse zippers, 420D velocity nylon, 600D polyester, 1680D ballistic nylon, 320G DuraStretch mesh, nylon webbing, 350G airmesh, nylon webbing, 3-ply bonded nylon thread.

Interior: high-density velex, 210D silver-toned nylon lining, hexa mesh pockets, high-density closed-cell foam, 3-ply bonded nylon thread.


Moose Peterson MP-7 V2.0
External Dimensions: 15” W x 15.5” H x 8” D (38.1 x 39.4 x 20.3 cm)
Large Camera Compartment: 5.3” W x 14” H x 6.5” D (13.5 x 35.5 x 16.5 cm)
Small Camera Compartments (each): 5” W x 6.3” H x 6.5” D (12.5 x 16 x 16.5 cm)
Weight: 2.5–3.3 lbs. (1.1–1.5 kg) (Lower weight excludes all dividers and accessories)

Moose Peterson MP-3 V2.0
External Dimensions: 14” W x 20” H x 8” D (35.5 x 50.8 x 20.3 c m)
Large Camera Compartment: 6.8” W x 18” H x 6.8” D (17.3 x 46 x 17.3 cm)
Small Camera Compartments (each): 6” W x 8.5” H x 6.8” D (15 x 21.5 x 17.3 cm)
Weight: 3.2–4.6 lbs. (1.5–2.1 kg) (Lower weight excludes all dividers and accessories)

Moose Peterson MP-1 V2.0
External Dimensions: 14” W x 23” H x 8” D (35.5 x 58.4 x 20.3 c m)
Large Camera Compartment: 6.8” W x 21.8” H x 6.8” D (17.3 x 55. 4 x 17.3 cm)
Small Camera Compartments (each): 6” W x 10” H x 6.75” D (15 x 25 x 17 cm)
Weight: 3.7–5.1 lbs. (1.7–2.3 kg) (Lower weight excludes all dividers and accessories)

Categories: Photo Gear News

Samyang introduces XEEN 135mm T2.2, first 'summer blockbuster' lens

DPReview News - Mon, 07/18/2016 - 15:39

Samyang is making good on its promise of a new lens every week for five weeks, kicking things off with a XEEN 135mm T2.2 cinema lens. It slots into the company's relatively new lineup as the longest lens in the range.

Like its siblings, the XEEN 135 is offered with interchangeable mount fittings for PL, Canon EF, Nikon F, Sony E and Micro Four Thirds bodies. Its manual focus only and uses an 11-blade aperture. No price is given, but XEEN series lenses have averaged around $2500 each.

Categories: Photo Gear News

Nico360 to be 'world's smallest' 360-degree camera

DPReview News - Mon, 07/18/2016 - 13:14

A Hong Kong-based startup is looking to fund production of Nico360, a waterproof 360-degree camera. Claiming it will be the 'world's smallest' at 46 x 46 x 28mm, Nicocam says its camera will include two 16MP Sony sensors capable of 25MP still images and 2560 x 1440/30fps video. As with many other 360-degree cameras, Nico360 will be able to produce content for stereoscopic VR headsets. A 1/4" mount will be used, and the camera will accept microSD cards.

Users will be offered four video recording options: Flat Mode, Sphere Mode, Planet Mode, and VR Mode. Spherical panoramas will be created via in-camera stitching; Nico360 will also offer live video streaming using either via Bluetooth 4.0 or WiFi 5Ghz/ac. Finally, Nico360 will feature an integrated stereo microphone, stabilization and 32GB of internal storage. 

Nicocam plans to sell Nico360 for $199. A $99 pledge will reserve backers a ‘super early bird’ version on Indiegogo, and the camera is estimated to ship to supporters in October 2016. The funding campaign also offers a ‘full accessories pack’ for $89 and a 5000mAh Battery Selfie Stick for $39.

Via: Indiegogo

Categories: Photo Gear News

Wild Life

The Online Photographer - Mon, 07/18/2016 - 09:00
Photo by Dan Gorman, used by permission I was exercising Butters yesterday—he has me trained to do up to four sessions of "fling the ball" every day—when I looked up and, in the crease between two banks of trees, I... Michael Johnston
Categories: Photography

New resolution: how much progress has the Fujifilm X-T2 made for video?

DPReview News - Mon, 07/18/2016 - 06:33

4K video capability was one of the big surprises in the X-T2's specification. We've taken a closer look at how the camera operates in movie mode and added a sample video to our First Impressions Review.

Only beta firmware exists at present, so there's no F-Log mode available yet, and the operation may yet change, so we explain where the X-T2 has improved and how it could be made still better.

As well as our (beta) video sample, we've also expanded our still image sample gallery.

Categories: Photo Gear News

Phase One introduces first Schneider Kreuznach 'Blue Ring' zooms

DPReview News - Mon, 07/18/2016 - 03:00
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Phase One has announced two Schneider Kreuznach 'Blue Ring' lenses designed with the XF system in mind, the first zooms in the series. The Schneider Kreuznach 40-80mm LS F4.0-5.6 and the Schneider Kreuznach 75-150mm LS F4.0-5.6 are optimized for the company's full frame (53.7 x 40.4mm) medium-format system.

The new Blue Ring lenses join the recently announced Schneider Kreuznach 110mm LS F2.8 and 240mm LS F4.5. Both feature the ability to sync flash at shutter speeds up to 1/1600sec and built-in electronics that allow autofocus to be individually calibrated. Phase One claims this series of lenses is built to its highest quality assurance standards

Phase One Announces First Schneider Kreuznach Blue Ring Zoom Lenses

Prime Lens Quality Featuring Full Frame Sensor Coverage, Improved Precision, and Advanced Electronics

COPENHAGEN, July 18, 2016 – Phase One, creator of the world’s finest open-platform high-end camera systems and professional imaging software, today added two new Schneider Kreuznach lenses to its comprehensive family of lenses. These two Blue Ring zoom lenses feature impressive front glass elements, with front lens diameters of 63mm and 65mm respectively, delivering edge-to-edge coverage of full frame 645 format. Used on a Phase One XF 100MP system, the lenses are able to take full advantage of the sensor’s resolution; a 100MP capture renders a 100MP image with breathtaking fidelity.

-- The Schneider Kreuznach 40-80mm LS f/4.0-5.6 Zoom lens renders ultra sharp resolution on all zoom distances from wide to normal focal length;

-- The Schneider Kreuznach 75-150mm LS f/4.0-5.6 Zoom lens delivers great versatility. It’s preferred for on-location fashion shoots, with a range from normal to telephoto.

Together, these two lenses comprise an effective zoom range from 40mm to 150mm. Each lens is equipped with a zoom lock function on its barrel and is designed to maintain focus position while zooming. They each support flash synchronization up to 1/1600s. The new built-in electronics permit individual focus calibration when used with the Phase One XF Camera System.

“Creating optics this large with such tight tolerances is quite an achievement, “said Espen Beck, Phase One Senior Product Manager. “A Phase One full frame 100MP medium format sensor is 1.5 times larger than the cropped size 50MP medium format and 2.5 times larger than sensors found in high-end 35mm DSLRs. Capturing the full resolution of a square sensor this size with a round lens and avoiding crop means that the entire lens must be larger, which requires larger movements of individual lens elements while meeting the requisite standards for speed and precision.

“Schneider Kreuznach lenses are designed to deliver the ultimate analogue input to be shaped and refined with the Phase One XF 100MP Camera System and Capture One software. This design also benefits the Phase One XF 50MP system, which can exploit the ‘sweet spot’ of the lens, producing impeccable results.”

Designed by Schneider Kreuznach and produced by Phase One Japan, Schneider Kreuznach “Blue Ring” zoom lenses are refined with robust, aerial-grade mechanics and manufactured to meet Phase One’s highest quality assurance standards. Their enhanced precision, mechanical build, and look and feel complement the Phase One XF Camera System design.

For more information, including specifications for the two new “Blue Ring” lenses, please go to:

There will be a hands-on Webinar demonstration of the lenses on Tuesday, July 19.

For more information, times and to register, please go to:

Availability and Pricing

The two new Blue Ring Zoom lenses are available to order now. They are compatible with the Phase One XF, Phase One 645DF+ and Mamiya 645DF+ or DF camera systems.

The Schneider Kreuznach 75-150mm LS f/4.0–5.6 Zoom is shipping now. Manufacturer suggested retail price: 5.490 EUR / 5,990 USD

The Schneider Kreuznach 40-80mmLS f/4.0–5.6 Zoom is expected to ship by August 1, 2016. Manufacturer suggested retail price: 7.990 EUR / 8,990 USD

Phase One Camera Systems and all accessories are available through Phase One photography partners worldwide:

For a demo of a Phase One Camera System, please sign up here:

About Phase One

Phase One A/S is the world-leading provider of medium format digital photography systems and imaging solutions for professional photographers and industrial applications. Established in the early 1990s, Phase One is a true digital photography pioneer with a passionate commitment to image quality excellence and creative freedom. Phase One’s engineering and design expertise has produced imaging breakthroughs from high- resolution camera systems to advanced software for better photographic workflows and raw file editing. Phase One’s understanding and ability to optimize hardware and software integration underscores their award winning Capture One Pro software – widely preferred by professional photographers.

Phase One’s industrial division focuses on imaging accuracy for industrial applications ranging from aerial image acquisition to cultural heritage preservation – from mapping the globe, to protecting priceless works of art and documents.

Today, with control over all aspects of the medium format camera system supply chain, Phase One is uniquely positioned to help photographers and imaging experts everywhere stand out above the competition and realize their creative visions without compromise.

Based in Copenhagen Denmark and embracing the high demand of Scandinavian design excellence, Phase One is dedicated to delivering the best image quality and user experience. With offices in New York, London, Tokyo, Cologne, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tel Aviv, and with its expert teams of global partners, Phase One is committed to serving and supporting its customers worldwide.

Phase One and Capture One are registered trademarks of Phase One A/S. All other brand or product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders.

Learn more here:

Phase One at:

Twitter at: http://www.twitter/PhaseOnePhoto

Facebook at:

Google+ at:

LinkedIn at:

Categories: Photo Gear News

Open Mike II: Turn It Around (Off-Topic)

The Online Photographer - Sun, 07/17/2016 - 12:45
A couple of days ago, I was thinking both of black friends and friends in law enforcement. I sent brief notes to several of them, including a friend who had a distinguished career as a police officer—a smart, articulate, highly... Michael Johnston
Categories: Photography

Open Mike I: Ctein and TOP

The Online Photographer - Sun, 07/17/2016 - 07:13
[WARNING: Dirty laundry! This isn't entirely pleasant to read. If you've had enough upsetting news for one week, you might want to skip this. Executive summary: Ctein has bailed and bolted. Sorry if this adds to anyone's Maalox requirement. —Mike... Michael Johnston
Categories: Photography

Fujifilm X-Pro2 versus X-T2: Seven key differences

DPReview News - Sun, 07/17/2016 - 04:00
Fujifilm X-Pro2 versus X-T2: Seven key differences

In the X-T2 and X-Pro2, Fujifilm offers two flagship cameras that have a lot in common, but are designed for slightly different purposes. So which one should you buy? We've broken down the key differences.


Let's get probably the biggest differentiator out of the way right up front – the X-T2 offers 4K video, while the X-Pro2 makes do with standard HD. The addition of 4K to the X-T2 surprised us a little when we first saw it on the spec sheet, but it's clear that Fujifilm sees this feature as an important 'must have' in a camera as versatile as the X-T2. The X-T2 can record video in clips up to 10min duration, or 30min when the optional power booster grip is attached. 

The X-Pro2, on the other hand, is meant for a different kind of photographer - one who is more stills-oriented, and more likely to shoot with prime lenses than zooms. The addition of 4K to the X-Pro2 would have certainly increased its cost – and the engineers tell us that it would also have increased its size and weight as a consequence of the necessity for a beefed-up heat sink. So if you need 4K, the X-T2 is the camera for you. 

Rear LCD screen

The X-Pro2, being the more 'traditional' of the two cameras, has a simple, fixed rear LCD. In contrast, and in keeping with its ultra-versatile 'do anything' design philosophy, the X-T2 features a complex, multi-articulating screen that enables easy framing from high and low angles in both landscape and portrait orientations. This articulating design is also more useful for video work.

The decision by Fujifilm (which actually manufactures capacitive membranes for touchscreens) not to include touch sensitivity in either camera is a little disappointing. Also a bit odd is the resolution difference between the screens on the back of the X-T2 and X-Pro2. The X-Pro2's screen resolution is 1.6 million dots – somewhat higher than the 1.04 million-dot screen on the back of the X-T2 (it's the difference between 900 x 600 rather than 720 x 480 pixels).

So in summary: If you want screen articulation, go for the X-T2. If you don't mind a fixed screen, you'll get slightly higher resolution from the X-Pro2.


At a quick glance, the electronic viewfinder specifications of the X-Pro2 and X-T2 are very similar. Both are centered around the same 2.36 million-dot OLED display, and both offer a window on the world that is both sharp and detailed. But the X-T2's electronic viewfinder is the better of the two, for a couple of important reasons.

First is the addition of 'burst mode' to the X-T2, which increases the refresh rate of the live view image in the camera's viewfinder to 100fps. And second is the complex optical assembly (shown above) that focuses the viewfinder's image into your eye. The X-T2's EVF is one of the best electronic finder that we've ever used. Its unusually high magnification of 0.77X places it a level above the 0.60X magnification of the X-Pro2.

But before we dismiss the X-Pro2 altogether...


The X-Pro has one major trick up its sleeve - its viewfinder is a 'hybrid' type, that also offers a rangefinder-style optical view, which employs frame-lines to preview composition.

The difference between an optical and electronic viewfinder experience is hard to explain until you've compared them directly, but if you're shooting with prime lenses between 28 and 50mm equivalent, the X-Pro2's optical finder is a delight. Electronic manual focus assist in optical finder mode is an added bonus. The X-T2's fully electronic finder is a better choice if you're primarily a zoom lens user.


While the basic control logic of the X-T2 and X-Pro2 is very similar (and more or less standard across the entire X-series) the two cameras are ergonomically quite different. The rangefinder-style X-Pro2's viewfinder is positioned off to the left of the camera (with its back facing you) while the X-T2's finder sits in a DSLR-style 'hump' in line with the lens axis. 

Which of these designs appeals more to you is a matter of personal preference (skip back to the previous slide for a better explanation of the technical differences between the two cameras' viewfinders) but the experience of shooting with them is subtly different as a result.

The X-Pro2 (shown above) is designed with stills shooters primarily in mind, and more specifically, stills shooters who like to use prime lenses. The X-Pro2 doesn't handle quite as well with Fujifilm's longer, heavier zooms, whereas these are the kinds of lenses that the X-T2 is specifically designed to be paired with. With the optional power booster grip attached, the X-T2 balances nicely, even with Fujifilm's beefiest lenses. And of course, that grip also duplicates key controls for vertical format shooting. 


Of these two cameras, the X-T2 is the faster. Designed to cater to the needs of sports and action photographers the X-T2 boasts a maximum continuous shooting rate of 8 fps, with continuous autofocus. This can be increased to 11 fps in boost mode, with the optional grip. The fastest framerate with live view maintained is less, at 5 fps, but this is still plenty fast enough for most subjects. In fully electronic shutter mode, maximum framerate caps out at 14 fps.

The X-Pro2, in contrast, is limited to 8 fps with autofocus, and a mere 3 fps with live view maintained in the viewfinder.

These are different horses designed for different courses. The speed-oriented X-T2 also boasts a USB 3.0 interface, capable of considerably greater data transfer rates than the USB 2.0 interface of the X-Pro 2. In addition both the X-T2's SD card slots are compatible with the latest UHS-II interface type, whereas only the #1 slot of the X-Pro2 can make full use of these cards.

...and longer

As well as increasing the X-T2's speed and duplicating its controls for vertical format shooting, the optional power booster grip also triples the camera's battery life. It's not magic – the grip simply accommodates an additional two batteries, bringing the total number of available cells to three. Hence three times the endurance, to a rated ~1000 exposures.

The X-Pro2 lacks an accessory grip, and endurance caps out at around 250 exposures with the EVF, and ~350 when the optical finder is used (CIPA ratings in all cases).


The X-T2 incorporates Fujifilm's most advanced autofocus system yet. It boasts 325 AF points (169 of which offer phase detection) which work in concert to offer a 'hybrid' autofocus system. Extensive customization of the X-T2's continuous autofocus performance is made possible with Canon-style AF setting 'sets'.

For now, the X-T2's AF is superior to the very similar system found in the X-Pro2, but this is Fujifilm we're talking about - the most firmware updatey company of them all (except perhaps Samsung - RIP). As such, we're told that the X-Pro2's autofocus system will be brought up to par with the X-T2's in terms of baseline performance by way of a firmware update scheduled for autumn.


Note that the X-T2's AF-C customization options (above) will remain unique to this model though, meaning that the X-T2 will remain a better choice if AF performance - or action photography in general - are your priorities. 

Which one should you buy?

If you're in the market for a new camera and the Fujifilm X-Pro2 and X-T2 are on your list, chances are that both will keep you pretty happy. As far as image quality is concerned, we're very pleased by the output from their 24MP APS-C sensor, and in video mode, both models are lightyears ahead of previous-generation X-series cameras. The X-T2 scores over the X-Pro2 in terms of video simply by the addition of a pretty impressive 4K specification, and both cameras produce good-looking HD footage.

Beyond the basics, the X-Pro2 is probably a better choice for prime lens photographers, thanks to its off-center hybrid viewfinder which offers both electronic and optical viewing options. If you mostly shoot candids, street portraits or non-moving subjects in general, its lower maximum shooting rate, (slightly) more basic AF system and non-articulating LCD screen might not bother you at all.

In contrast, the faster, more action-oriented X-T2 is a better all-rounder. It can take pictures more quickly, its viewfinder can refresh more quickly, the rear LCD articulates in useful ways, and with the optional power booster grip attached, it offers a vastly better battery life. It's also much more comfortable to use with Fujifilm's heavier zoom lenses than the boxier X-Pro2.

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments. 

Categories: Photo Gear News

Behind the shot: Praia da Adraga at blue hour

DPReview News - Sat, 07/16/2016 - 04:00

If you recognize Nicolas Alexander Otto's name, it may be because we featured some of his work a while ago. The Germany-based landscape shooter has graciously agreed to share the story behind one of his images, titled 'The Living Infinite', a shot he captured on a trip to Portugal's Praia da Adraga beach. He walks us through everything that went into making the image – from planning the trip to his post-processing technique. 

By Nicolas Alexander Otto

To explain my process, I should start with a little bit of background information. When I have a timeframe set and know that I will be on the road during that period I dive into the planning phase first, trying to make the most of the time I have available. I then try to organize my shooting itinerary accordingly, checking for all the different options available for good light: sunrise and sundown times, same goes for the moon, the tidal schedule and the position of the milky way.

In this particular case I knew I was going to be at the ocean and the moon would set in the western skies during blue hour for three successive days. Hence, I knew I had to be at the Portuguese coastline by then, originally starting from Germany and driving all the way through France and Spain to get there.

My main focus on the trip was a beach called Praia da Adraga, located near Sintra. I planned to get my shot in the early morning hours, knowing the blue hour would provide me with the gentle light necessary and the moon would add that little something to the sky, keeping it from falling flat, although much would depend on cloud coverage.

Knowing my goal I looked up the tidal schedule next and noticed that the waves should be splashing around the famous sea stacks on the beach right around the time the moon would enter my frame. It's important to note that I had been at that location two times prior to planning this, but tools like Google Earth and the Photographer's Ephemeris make pre-visualizing shots fairly manageable without prior visits – I highly recommend using them. I checked the weather upon arrival and had to sit out a night of drizzle, already fearing I might not get the shot I had imagined. Luckily, it stopped once I woke up and grabbed my gear.

On Location

The evening before I had already scouted the location and taken some test shots looking for the right composition so I knew I didn't need much time, just a short break in between showers to reel in my desired shots.

During my third trip to the beach I noticed huge differences compared to my previous visit. A fellow photographer whom I met while walking towards the sea stacks told me that severe winter storms had altered the appearance of the beach, washing away quite a bit of sand rendering the sea stacks much higher than I remembered them, and revealing more rocks in the foreground as well. However, when I looked at where the moon would enter the frame on Photographers Ephemeris I saw that almost none of them would be in my composition.

I knew I had to battle against the rising tide and might face issues with camera shake, especially with my 36MP Nikon D800, so I utilized my heaviest tripod: a 3.4kg Slik 780 DX Pro. If burrowed in the sand a little, it's almost completely resistant against the incoming surge as long as it's not much more than knee high.

Composition-wise I went for a classic, dynamic two thirds setup with the waves' receding flow drawing the viewer's gaze into the image, right past the sea stacks out onto the ocean and the moon looming overhead in the left third of the frame. I tried to leave at least a little bit of separation between the rocks as their dark surfaces can be heavy and distracting if clumped up, drawing too much of the viewer's attention to a single area.

It took me some time to get an incoming wave to create those leading lines I had imagined. Sadly, the image ended up being a bit too dark, so I would need to brighten the exposure a little in post processing and work on the contrast. To blame was the fact that dawn had already kicked in and I had to readjust my camera settings each minute, and at that moment I tried adding a ND filter. When an especially promising wave came in, rather than adjusting my settings, I pressed the remote shutter and got exactly the wave patterns I was imagining. No other subsequent exposure came even close to it, unfortunately, thus I had to choose this one despite its technical shortcomings.

It can be quite difficult to capture waves because the shutter speed has to match the their force to shape beautiful streaks of spume, without them stopping or clumping up at a rock, breaking the rhythm of the lines. Oftentimes a shorter exposure doesn't create any dynamic addition to the image and a longer one would render most of the wave motion invisible.

Here are the settings used for my shot:

Camera: Nikon D800
Lens: Nikkor AF-S 18-35mm F3.5-4.5 G ED
Focal length: 18mm Shutter speed: 3,5 sec
Aperture: F5.0
ISO: 100
Filter: Haida ND64

Post-processing Exposure adjustments made to brighten the image.

I knew I needed to brighten the image overall, however I did not not want to alter the colors in any way to preserve the natural hues that the magical blur hour light supplied. Also, I knew I had to make local adjustments to the micro contrast, which is why I did not use clarity just yet because I wanted to keep the clouds nice and smooth.

At this point some adjustments to sharpening are made, along with correction for vignetting but none for distortion.

I rarely ever sharpen my whole image which is why I used a mid-range mask here to cover only the stronger contrasted edges of the rocks and sky. Even though I do use lens corrections I almost always dial down the distortion; on the one hand because the Nikon 18-35mm G ED has almost no distortion to begin with and on the other because a little distortion, in my opinion, adds to the dynamism of the image, especially in landscape photography. And for the most part I keep the standard noise reductions settings as is.

Next I imported the image into Photoshop and here you already can see all the different adjustments I made to the image on the right (first switched off so you can see the difference). Before I start working on anything else, I usually get rid of dust spots - thus the base layer is renamed to "clean", indicating I've already cleaned up the image.

As a second step I used Nik Color Efex Pro 4 here for some more global adjustments, and afterwards I used luminosity masks to target specific tonalities of the image, adding more contrast selectively to the sand and sky. Due to the very even overall exposure (not taking into account the rocks), most of the masks are not altered after the tonality selection.

In Color Efex Pro 4 I first used the Pro Contrast and Detail Extractor with these settings:

At this point I wanted to add a bit more contrast to the sky and the foreground without darkening the rocks to prevent having to brighten them up again later in the processing, since that is never a good idea to begin with. The rest of the image benefited from a little more punch overall, though. I also balanced out a little bit of the cyan toning with the 'Correct Color Cast' setting, because at this stage I felt like it might be deviating a bit too much from what the scene looked like in my recollection.

The detail extractor is an incredibly powerful filter, which is why I seldom use it at more than 5%. I would also recommend painting the effect in rather than using control points for masking in more complex situations. But in this case, the selections that the program generated suited my needs and I went with it. I tried to prevent the detail extractor from brightening the waves and sky, as it tends to brighten darker parts of the image recovering information in the dark tones. Furthermore, longer exposed skies and waves looking too crisp, for me at least, often kind of defeat the purpose of taking long exposures in the first place. However, the dark rocks were already brightened up a little bit which was a desirable result in this case.

After these adjustments the image already had more punch, but still lacked some differentiation in the narrow tonalities of the sand and the incoming surf – something common with blue hour shots. Additionally, I wanted the sky to be just a bit more dramatic. For this I added different curves layers with various luminosity masks generated with Tony Kuypers famous TK Panel.

First, with a 'Lights 3' and a 'Lights 1' mask, I emphasized the waves in between the rocks, both grouped together and masked with a gradient in order not to affect the sky (you can see the gradient masks in the first screenshot).

The same procedure was then used to get more detail out of the immediate foreground waves by using a 'Midtones 3', and again for the rocks, and foreground using a 'Darks 2' mask (this was actually applied later in the workflow and is called 'contr5' in the image above).

Next I wanted to introduce a bit more drama to the sky, so I used a 'Midtones 3' mask in order to select a wide tonal range in the sky, and darkened them only a small amount to make the undersides of the clouds stand out more.

In the end I darkened the rocks a little – just a tiny amount because I love images with prevalent darker tones – using a 'Darks 3' mask (this would've also simply been achieved by painting out the detail extractor added earlier).

As a last step I added a minor dodge and burn alteration to call attention to the small water splashes on the right sea stack: a very subtle, almost unnoticeable effect.

My final actions, as per usual, included resizing and converting into RGB color space. Usually I choose 900px for the web, but in this case I chose 1200px for this DPR article, so you can see more of the details.

I hope you enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look at my process!

See more of Nicolas Alexander Otto's work at his Facebook page and website.

Categories: Photo Gear News
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