Category: Camera

Nikon D5100 Camera

This Nikon D5100 review looks at the features of this model, the first feature that stood out was the LCD screen which has been bracket mounted so that it tilts to 360 degrees. The benefit being able to turn the screen to different angles allows those with more expertise to enjoy the 1080p high definition mode to its full potential.

The effects mode has seven options that are specifically for immediate results in-camera. They are night vision, miniature, high key, low key, silhouette, selective and sketch color modes.

This version seems to be aimed toward the bigger market where it can be used by photographers of all levels. Whether the user is looking for fun or a more serious approach they will not be disappointed.

The camera boasts a 16.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor and a 2 image processor giving users excellent image quality. The 420-pixel RGB sensor takes care of the metering with ease. This model also has an 11 point AF system and a Li-ion battery for long use in-between charges. The 1080p movie mode gives it 24/25/30fps letting the user adjust the frame rate accordingly.

Pros

  • The tilting adjustable LCD screen is most definitely a pro and with the same processing as the D7000 model makes it great value for money. It has an excellent speed and of course battery life, which is essential for any photographer. The filter affects and HDR are in camera and videos can be captured with control of aperture. The external microphone port allows additional equipment for audio quality in all environments.

Cons

  • You can’t autofocus when using a screw drive lens but you don’t have to worry about fiddling when you want to take good shots on the go. If you want flash control it isn’t built in but this is better for customization.

This Nikon D5100 review has shown this model to be an excellent camera for photographers whether they are just starting out or have been at it for a while. It has more than enough functions to appease a professional but not too many to be overwhelming to someone that is just getting started. The tilting screen gives photographers a new view and ability to add a different perspective to their photography, without having to lie or hang in awkward positions to achieve their goal.

The excellent battery life is great for those that don’t have the time to charge in-between shots or the facilities if they are taking shots outdoors without a power source. Great for taking pictures of the family, wildlife and even action videos on the go. Functions that people loved from the older models and even including many that are in the more recent.

Understanding DSLR Settings

Read the manual. I know this is not fun… but actually, it kinda is. Try it!Visual learner? Hit YouTube. There are LOADS of videos on your new camera I’m certain. Surely you will learn all kinds of new stuff about your new gear there.Pick up a book that specifically your new camera. I own these two for my bodies.

  • David Busch’s Nikon D800
  • David Busch’s Nikon D4

After you have a good grasp of how your camera operates get out and shoot. Assign yourself some basic assignments. Create a list of photography projects that you have a specific interest in. Make sure you set a time frame and limit as well. Set deadlines. I have no idea why, but it makes all the difference. Join and participate in photography forums and especially ones that will offer member feedback and critiques. Get some think skin, and take the harsh comments for what they are. Submit your best work to photography contests. You can literally do this everyday and not run out of contests to submit to. Ask friends and family to let you give them a “professional” photo session. Take them out to a local, scenic location, preferably in late afternoon.

Stop by our blog to read our super short but helpful daily blog and archives of DSLR photography tips, tricks and lessons learned from a professional wedding and event photographer. I literally blog from my iPhone. Ensures I keep it short and sweet. Are you a Pro? Great! You’ll still get some useful and applicable nuggets. Promise!

On Camera Flash

Flash units work by means of a capacitor charged by battery. When triggered, the capacitor releases its full charge instantaneously from the flash tube, ionizing the gas inside. Concentration of the light output depends on how large the capacitor and on the square in the voltage at which the product operates, and is normally quoted as the guide number.

The restrictions of full flash illumination are the types of frontal lighting. Put simply, the lighting is almost shadowless and it also falls off equal in proportion on the distance from the camera. A common purely flash-lit photograph is likely to feature flat illumination over the main subject and a dark background. The result is clear, sharp, and with good color separation, but is usually missing in ambiance. Typical good purposes of full-on flash are close-ups of colorful subjects, simply because these may benefit from the crisp precision and powerful colors afforded by flash illumination.

One of several special challenges in altering the style of light digitally would be to make the effect of bright, sharp light, but there is however software available that will assist. One of the fundamental question in image editing is when far you need to go – that is certainly, just how far you ought to get off the original the way it was shot. In principle, anything may be changed; in practice, you should consider whatever you personally feel is acceptable and on how much effort it can be worth to you personally.

With daylight photography, the most important hurdle is bringing light on the picture. If you’ve waited for any break in the clouds to brighten up the scene, you will be aware that you’ve got an interest in this – and to an extent this can be accomplished digitally. The challenge, as you possibly can check by comparing two versions of the same view, overcast and sunny, is usually that sunlight affects everything as well as in many ways, down to tiny shadows and the glow reaching into shadows from sunlit surfaces.

Although clouds reduce brightness when they block the sun, the quantity depends quite definitely for the type of cloud. In the event the clouds are indistinct and spread across the sky, light loss is on a simple scale from the light haze through thin high stratus to dark gray, low clouds. With distinct clouds, however, just like scattered fair-weather cumulus, the light levels can fluctuate rapidly, particularly at a windy day. Light, white clouds usually produce a simple fluctuation of about 2 stops while they pass in front of the sun from bright to shade in one step. Dark clouds with ragged edges, or two layers of moving clouds, cause more problems, as the light changes gradually and often unpredictably. In the initial case, two light measurements are all that’s necessary – one in sunlight, the other for a cloud passes – as soon as this is accomplished, you can simply change the aperture in one to the other, without using much more readings. When it comes to more intricate moving clouds, constant measurement is essential, unless you await clear breaks and apply only these.

Lens For Every Occasion

TELEPHOTO AND MACRO LENSES

Telephoto lenses are probably the most popular of all lenses. They are perfect for portrait and wildlife photography as they offer a closer view to your subject and in doing so, keeps distortion low. Faster lenses, with some type of stabilization are best, look for stats such as F2.8 or similar with IS or OS.

Macro Lenses, often used for focussing on finite detail in very small objects, are usually high quality lenses, and well manufactured. Find a lens with a fast maximum aperture of F2.0 or F2.8 if possible. You’ll pay more for it, but your ability to experiment with selective focus will be much greater.

TILT SHIFT LENSES

Tilt Shift lenses are high end and ideal for correcting camera perspective, caused by angling upwards or downwards, which results in a “leaning in or leaning out” type distortion. The frontal lens element is shifted to oppose the tilt of the camera. Usually not wider than 90mm, expect to pay upwards of $2K per unit, but hell it’s worth it.

Tilt Shift lenses can also be used to create a miniature effect known by the Japanese as “Bokeh”. This effect mimics the extremely limited depth of field by fast, shallow depth of field lenses, and can be used to incredible effect.

WIDE ANGLE LENSES

Wide angle lenses, are identified by the bulbous shape to the glass front of the lens. They are loved by landscape photographers, the world over. A good lens should include high quality glass, have a low corner distortion rate, where a falloff in sharpness in the corners is minimal, and versatile features such as Image Stabilization (IS). Ideally they should also include a lens hood to minimize lens flare, when shooting into light or the sun. Generally the heavier a wide angle lens the higher quality of the glass used in manufacture, and the better the lens overall.

FISHEYE LENSES

Fisheye lenses are amazing bits of glass, with the bulbous element protruding from the housing of the lens, they are quite fragile, and easy to scratch. they cant be protected by a UV filter, but instead use slip in gelatin filters in the rear of the lens. Find one thats fast, F2.8 or 3.5, like Sigma’s 8mm. Look for edge to edge sharpness as well, again price will dictate quality. These are great for fitting the whole world into one shot, almost literally, with most providing a full 180 degree view! Expect to pay between $1K and upwards of $3K for top end.

Collecting Classic Cameras

The first thing we budding photographers had to learn was a sequence of f-stops (aperture sizes) – f2.8, f4, f5.6, f8, f11, f16, etc – and that each was twice/half the size of its neighbour, with f2.8 being the largest, and f16 the smallest. Similarly, the shutter speeds were 30th, 60th, 125th, and 250th (on my camera anyway), and each was twice/half the speed of its neighbour. The final bit of information came with the film; a slip of paper that said something like this (for 100 ASA film):

1/125th and f/16 on a sunny day with distinct shadows
1/125th and f/11 on a slightly overcast day with soft shadows
1/125th and f/8 on an overcast day with shadows barely visible
1/125th and f/5.6 on a heavily overcast day with no shadows
1/125th and f/4 on in open shade or at sunset

All the camera settings were guesswork, and some shots would inevitably be incorrectly exposed, or blurry. The solution was to learn from mistakes (give it a bit more/less exposure in certain conditions) and gain more knowledge via and understanding of aperture/shutter speed combinations, and depth of field.

The correct exposure setting can be maintained by corresponding adjustments of shutter speed and aperture choices. For example 1/125th at f/8 is the same as 1/60th at f/16, and the same as 1/250th at f/5.6, and so on. The most obvious application is using a higher shutter speed with a larger aperture is elimination of motion blur.

Depth of field (hyper-focus) is the distance over which all objects are acceptably sharply in focus. Many cameras had a handy scale of the lens that illustrated the depth of field for each aperture setting. The concept to be grasped was that large apertures have a small depth of field (only the subject might be in focus), while small apertures have a large depth of field (the foreground, subject and background could also be in focus). As distances had to be guessed, the best method of ensuring good focus was to use smaller apertures. However, good photography demands that differing apertures should be deliberately selected to expand or compress depth of field, so that backgrounds can be intentionally sharp, or blurred.

This was the point at which I moved up to a new camera to eliminate some of the guesswork: an accurately focus-able SLR, which dispensed with the need to hyper-focus, and allowed a more creative use of shutter speed/aperture combinations and depth of field. My camera didn’t have a built-in exposure meter, so I had to get a hand-held.

Taking a picture took a long time (composition aside). You had to take a light reading and transfer settings to the camera, think about the relative importance of freezing action and controlling depth of field, and adjust accordingly. Then the sun would go behind a cloud and you’d have to start over again.

Life was much easier when I moved-up to a camera with an integrated exposure meter. One of the joys of a simple viewfinder match needle metering system was that you could continually monitor the quality of the light, and easily make exposure compensations to over or under expose when necessary by not matching the needle pointer (when you knew better than the meter).

Better yet, the next development was shutter or aperture priority auto exposure (most cameras featured one or the other, but not both), where the user had to make one selection, and the other would follow automatically. While you still had to apply the same thought processes, there were a lot less knobs to twiddle, and most systems could be made to work backwards (e.g. manually changing a shutter speed would force a preferred aperture selection).

Automation started to get a grip on camera design, and not all of it was good. For example, exposure compensation might require changing the ASA setting to force a different exposure, or twiddling a dedicated exposure compensation dial. It wasn’t really progress, and it didn’t make operation easier. I was just a different way of doing things.

I guess increasing camera automation was largely aimed at new photographers. It allowed them to use the tool without knowing about shutter speeds, apertures, and depth of field, but for those of us who had started with a simple wholly mechanical camera, it felt like creative control was being lost.

The next big development was auto-focus. This was a very attractive proposition, since a necessary task could be performed by the camera freeing-up concentration on creative control. However, auto-focus came with auto everything else. Cameras had become the high-tech version of the point and shoot I started with in the 1960s.

My first auto-focus camera was a Pentax MZ-5n. This camera had various program modes, which essential addressed set-up decisions for the type of subject I was trying to photograph. Instead of thinking about shutter speed, aperture, and depth of field, I had to think about navigating menus to tell the camera what I was photographing so it could affect an appropriate set-up on my behalf. It wasn’t easier to use; it wasn’t better; it was just a different way of doing things.

My interest in photography (as opposed to operating a camera in the same way one might operate a washing machine or any other bit of electrical equipment) faded once I’d acquired the MZ-5n. I think it only ever had one film passed through it. More than that, film photography was dealt a death sentence shortly after when digital cameras came of age.

My next camera was actually a digital, and I easily acclimatized to the fact that it does everything for me, but I use it in a very different way. The digital camera is a tool in a multimedia age. I use it to captures images in a way that is factual, and unemotional. To be creative, I still reach for one of my old film cameras, and put some effort into capturing the moment.

Camera Aperture

Put quite simply your camera aperture is the opening in your camera’s lens that allows differential amounts of light through the lens to the cameras light sensitive sensor behind it. Together with the ISO value and shutter speed of your camera it controls the light exposure used to create your photograph.

The size of your camera aperture is controlled by settings called f/stops. An f/stop can also be likened to the human eye as the iris which controls the size of the eye’s pupil. Similarly the smaller the f/stop value (iris) the larger the camera aperture (pupil) and the more light that passes through the lens to the cameras sensor. The larger the f/stop value the smaller the aperture and the less light passes through..

Digital cameras will allow you to choose from an f/stop range dependent on your camera lens capabilities. For example purposes let’s say from f/stop 1.4 to f/stop 8. Imagine that you are sitting in a dark room, the pupil in your eye (camera aperture) will be fully open to allow enough light through to your eye’s retina to enable you to see more clearly. This would be f/stop 1.4 on our example scale. If you then walk out of the dark room into bright sunlight the pupil in your eye would close considerably to prevent you from becoming blinded by the sun. In our example scale this would mean the aperture would close to f/stop 8.

This example uses extremes at both ends of the f/stop scale but of course there are steps in between. If you change your aperture setting on your camera from f/1.4 to f/2 the camera aperture is smaller than it was at the f/1.4 setting and It lets half as much light pass through the lens to the cameras sensor than it did at the f/1.4 setting. This remains true each time you move to the next highest f/stop value.

If however you change your aperture in the other direction from f/2.8 to f/2 then the reverse is true and the aperture is now larger than it was at the f/2.8 setting and twice as much light passes through to your camera’s sensor. This is again remains true each time you move to the next lowest f/stop value.

Changing your aperture f/stop value has two different effects on the end result of the photo you take. It determines both how much of the photo will be in focus (the depth of field) and working in conjunction with your ISO and shutter speed values determines how bright or dark your photo will come out.

Depth of Field

The term depth of field refers to how much of an image is actually in focus. When you look through your camera and focus on a subject there will be some amount of material both in front of and behind the subject that is also sharp and in focus. After that focus will drop off and anything that is further away from your focal point will appear soft or out of focus. As a general rule approximately 1/3 of the range of material in focus falls in front of the focal point and 2/3 of the range of material in focus falls behind the focal point.

Photo Brightness

Photo brightness is affected not only by camera aperture settings but also by ISO values and shutter speeds. This though is how your camera aperture affects the brightness of your photo. The larger the f/stop number the smaller the aperture size. Therefore less light is allowed through your lens and your photo will be darker. The smaller the f/stop number the larger the aperture size. More light is let through the lens therefore your photograph will be brighter.

Select Digital Camera for Wildlife Photography

It should give good image quality

This is one of the first requirements when it comes to buying camera for any purpose, isn’t it? However, the amount of focus on good image quality differs from person to person. For example, land photographers would want good image quality with a wide dynamic range to cover the finer details. On the other hand wildlife photography does not focuses more on the subject than the details present in the surroundings. Even higher ISO settings are useful in wildlife photography.

Auto Focus ability

This kind of photography is often about animals in motion. When in motion, animals rarely give the photographers any chance to adjust the focus of their camera prior to capturing the picture, isn’t it? In such situations, it is important to have a camera with good auto focus ability that helps you capture even the smallest detail of the subject to perfection.

Long lenses

You can either opt for a camera with longer lens or simply buy the lens separately. Having a long lens with a good zooming ability makes it easier for you to capture the subject accurately particularly in situations when you can’t afford to get too close to the animal.

Durability

Wildlife photography is not about shooting from a tripod. On the contrary, a large part of wildlife photography talks about clicking the animals in the most unfriendly conditions. Therefore, wisdom lies in investing in a camera that comes with a high rating for durability and system ruggedness. You can always refer to the internet for suggestions on such models prior to purchasing anything.

Features of the Canon EOS 70d

Touch screen

The touch screen on the EOS 70d makes light work of changing almost any setting using the Q menu. The touch screen menu is highly responsive and crystal clear to look at. It even includes an option to pinch-zoom pictures for better clarity when viewing the latest snapped images. Besides the onscreen controls, the menus are backed up with standard physical controls to take care of the basic shooting options if preferred. The touch screen is also design to flip out to one side to make easier viewing. This is especially helpful when working with video format.

Auto focus

A high-quality auto focus system is essential to take sharp pictures. The EOS 70d is installed with the latest Dual Pixel AF technology to make it easier to shot fast-moving objects. This DSLR auto focus system includes a total of 19 focal points. This increases the cameras capabilities to focus on the subject. Also, the 70d comes with a bigger 20.2MP sensor to help improve the contrast and clarity of the picture quality.

Video

A further aspect of the Dual Pixel AF technology is the ability to increase the quality of video recordings. Earlier models of the DSLR cameras had issues with loss of focus as objects moved around. This problem is solved with the 70d due to its ability to swiftly auto focus as the camera is moved from subject to subject. The camera supports standard HD (50 and 60p) and full HD video (24, 25 and 30p) capture.

WiFi

The Canon EOS 70d includes WiFi as standard and a welcome feature for a number of reasons. WiFi access offers complete ease in connecting the camera to a computer, tablet or smart phone. This makes it easy to download and view pictures using the Canon EOS app. Pictures can also be printed to a wireless printer or viewed on a DLNA equipped TV. Another benefit of using the app is the ability to remote control the camera. This is certain to help the photo shots taking place in a studio.

Should Buy a Camera Strap

  • Stay hands free- A photographer subconsciously relies on this accessory usually to hold his treasured possession securely when they decide to stay hands off. Typically they are a substitute for the hands and allow you to perform other tasks even when there is no surface to rest the camera upon. For instance, on a shooting campaign in the muddy areas of a wildlife sanctuary, you probably would not let your camera struggle with the dust and scratches by making it sit on the dirty terrains. That’s where these accessories make a dramatic entry!
  • Safety- While letting the camera slip off your hands is a situation that often knocks a photographer’s door, these straps make sure that your equipment never falls off to the grounds and crashes into pieces. Of course after spending a fortune on your precious camera, you probably wouldn’t mind giving away a few more bucks to ensure its safety.
  • Ergonomics- One of the top reasons why professionals can never be spotted without these straps is that a strap such as harnesses distributes the heavy weight of high-end cameras all over the shoulders, chest and back. They eliminate neck/hand pains and allow you to work pain-free for long hours! The default straps furnished by manufacturers let the camera hang by the neck, making it ineffective in distribution of weight and ideal for owners who like to take it out for a shoot or two in a while. On the other hand, special straps like harnesses are specially designed to suit the ergonomic needs of professional photographers.
  • Recognition- Imagine you are on a professional wedding shoot, carrying a simple DSLR in your hands. People do not recognize you as a professional and stand in your way while you are struggling for those ‘perfect shots’! Sounds familiar? Thus, these straps are recommended as it makes the crowd recognize your role and steer clear of your way. It is kind of an identity card that makes you identified as a significant professional.
  • Stabilizer- Camera straps are often used as stabilizers in various ways. Whether you wrap it around your wrist or have it pulled tightly over your triceps, they can be used as a tool to stabilize the camera.

Guide To Tripods & Tripod Alternatives

For every situation where a tripod is needed, it is required in order to avoid introducing unwanted vibration into your camera, particularly during long exposure photographs, where the camera’s shutter will be open for a second or more, during which time any vibration will be picked up and, most likely, be represented as blurring of your subject(s) in your final image. Landscape photography is one such sub niche that always benefits from having a good quality tripod.

Another area of photography where you will want a tripod is if you’re exploring light painting – this time, not only are you going to be using longer exposure times, you’re also going to need to rest your camera on a stable platform, while you either stand off to one side with a flashlight, or go into the frame, painting light into your scene. Once again, a tripod is your friend for this task.

Anytime you need to keep your camera at a specific angle – whether it be absolutely horizontal (such as for landscape photos) or vertical (such as for portrait photographs of people) or any other angle in between – a tripod is the best tool for the job. Being human, there’s only so long you can hold your camera in a totally still position, before you start to fatigue… and that’s when you’ll wish you’d had a tripod to take the strain. Providing you have a solid tripod that can comfortably hold the weight of your DSLR camera (and possibly and external flash on top), then it will keep your equipment at the angle you want it, for as long as you need it.

It’s good to have a tripod when doing product photography – many times, I will take the photos without using a tripod. However, it can quickly become a chore to hold a bulky DSLR, and that’s when I’m glad I’ve got the option to stick the camera on the tripod, so I can just focus on arranging the products to get the best shot.

Tripod Type 1. Traditional Tripods

These have three legs (hence the term “tri”pod) stacked in sections that collapse down on top of one another, to keep the tripods compact when storing them or when travelling with them. When you are using these tripods, the legs can be eased out to a required length and then locked in place, for the specific height you need. Locking the legs is either done via a spin-lock system (where you rotate rings to lock the legs so your tripod won’t collapse unceremoniously to the floor), while others have quick-release locks (with flaps that can be flicked open or securely closed).

One of the key decisions you’ll need to make is whether to get an aluminium tripod, or one constructed from carbon fiber. Aluminium tripods will be cheaper to buy than carbon fiber versions, but the carbon fiber tripods will weigh less, making them the better option for those who like to go trekking with their camera gear and want to take a tripod along as well.

Just remember, because carbon fiber tripods are so lightweight, you’re likely to need something to weigh it down, so that the wind won’t introduce unwanted vibrations – good carbon fiber tripods, such as the 3LT “Brian”, which I own, have a hook underneath the central column, onto which you can sling your camera bag, for added ballast.

Tripod Type 2. Alternative Tripods

There are three different types of alternative tripod that may interest you; they have their pros and cons, compared with a traditional tripod, and I have one of each.

The first offering is the Gorilla Pod. The benefit of this style of tripod, over a more traditional tripod, is that, due to the unique construction of the legs, the Gorilla Pod is better suited to placing on all sorts of awkward and uneven surfaces – such as, rocks, grassy hillsides, etc. You can also wrap the three legs around tree branches, posts, railings and the like, to place your Gorilla Pod at all sorts of different heights… providing there are suitable objects available to do this. That’s one of the advantages of a standard tripod: you’ll generally have enough height variations (by expanding or contracting the legs), to set up your camera at a fairly decent height. One thing you should be aware of are the subtle variations of Gorilla Pods, as one type will only fit the mounting bracket of larger DSLR cameras. I have both a Panasonic FZ1000 (bridge camera) and a Panasonic GH4 (DSLR, but a micro four thirds camera, so smaller than larger, full frame DSLR, such as Canon’s 1DX) and neither of them will fit on the original Gorilla Pod. I had to purchase a Gorilla Pod Zoom, which fit both cameras.

The next option is the Ultra Pod II. This is the smallest tripod I’ve ever owned. It has three solid plastic legs, which are NOT height adjustable. However, what it lacks in height, it makes up for in both portability and versatility. This thing is super lightweight, so it’s great for hiking about with. But, its party-piece trick is the integrated Velcro strap, which allows you to secure the tripod to tree branches, gates, sign posts, and the like. The one slight downside is the Velcro strap isn’t all that long, so you’re limited to attaching it to things not much larger than the size of a thick man’s wrist. However, it’s so compact and lightweight, and is so brilliantly versatile, that it has a permanent place in my camera backpack; it comes with me wherever I go with my camera gear and, if I think I can get away with it, I will prefer just this one Ultra Pod II (and maybe my Gorilla Pod, which is also similarly compact, but is superior to the Ultra Pod II on uneven and awkward surfaces), than lugging about a bulkier, more traditional tripod.

The final tripod alternative is not actually a tripod, at all… it’s a camera beanbag. I have a 1kg variety (though different weights and sizes are available) and it’s great that you don’t have to fiddle about screwing in your camera… just plonk down the beanbag, mush your camera down on top of it so that you get it level (okay, so there is still a little bit of fiddling), and then you’re ready to start snapping. You can also put it on top of your car, for instance, and not have to worry about scratching the paintwork.

So, if you had to buy just ONE tripod, which would it be? I’m tempted to say the Ultra Pod II, because you don’t have to fiddle about with adjusting multiple leg sections before you’re ready to start photographing stuff. However, as much as I really like that lightweight tripod alternative, you can’t beat the height adjustability of a traditional tripod. If you find yourself wanting to take it out and about, and if your budget can stretch to it, a quality carbon fiber tripod is probably the one to go for. However, if you have extra cash going spare, I do find it great to be able to choose between using my Gorilla Pod Zoom, Ultra Pod II, and my more traditional carbon fiber 3LT Brian tripod – if I need the height, I will use the 3LT; if I think I can get away without this larger tripod, when going out with my camera gear, I do prefer to travel light and take both the Ultra Pod II and Gorilla Pod Zoom, which give me enough options to find a suitable solution for where to place my camera to get some interesting shots.