Friday, June 28, 2013

REVIEW: Sports Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots

Sports Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots is book for those who dream of becoming a pro sports photographer and who want to hear tales from the field about how season veterans get their amazing shots. Bill Frakes shares a series of enjoyable stories of how he gets the shot for nearly every sport you can imagine. This ends up being both a pro and con of this book because the breadth of sports covers means there’s no depth to any one sport. At just over 225 pages I’d call it more of a teaser or sampler than a real in-depth look at sports photography, but it is chock full of fantastic sports images by a well respected pro sports photographer.

At times the book has some quotes that stop and make you think deeply. Some of my favorites included:

No photograph should ever need a caption, but every photograph must have one. – Wilson Hicks (page 27)

Be sure to expose for the picture you want to make, not what your histogram is telling you. – Bill Frakes (page 144)

I’ve never bought a piece of equipment that hasn’t paid for itself. Be smart in your investments, but don’t be afraid to make them. – Bill Frakes (page 216)

It’s also features a reality check with discussions about the gear required to get the shots he does. Many people who read this are probably thinking, yeah, you need a 400mm f/2.8 lens, but Bill is far beyond that. His default kit includes three D4’s and a D800, 5 lenses (including the 200mm f/2, 400mm f/2.8 and 600mm f/4). 4 pocket wizards, and so much more. In fact, even if you have the money for the 60 (yes, 60) remote cameras he sets up around the track for an event like the Kentucky Derby, the odds are you don’t have the connections he does to put your cameras there (or on the 50 yard line at the Super Bowl, or behind the rim at the NBA finals, etc…). So, if you are one of those types who thinks that Joe McNally is over the top with his 47 flashes in Hot Shoe Diaries, then this book is going to fry your brain! 

While the images are awesome in the book, towards the end it starts to feel a bit like your having a conversation with one of those name droppers as the tennis section is a little light on text and heavy on the who’s who of Tennis at their career defining moments. I’m sure we’d all probably do the same thing if we were as lucky as Bill, but by that point in the book you are realizing you’ve got be Bill “F**king” Frakes to have the opportunities he had then and enjoys now. He’s got some amazing shots and his success is well deserved, but let’s face it – if you can put your cameras and body in the spots where he can you are going to have an amazing portfolio. The trick is doing what it takes to get there so you can have those opportunities, and this books isn’t as deep as I would have hoped in those areas.

What he doesn’t really talk about is how the politics of pro sports photography have evolved to the point where the old curmudgeons who are lucky enough to have credentials seem to have a hatred for those who want to follow in their foot steps (great example). Perhaps it is because other pro photographers who do things that don’t require credentials (i.e., stock photography, weddings & commercial jobs) have found themselves losing their livelihood to amateurs, so their “good old boy” club is protecting itself by trying to keep the unconnected shooters out. More than anything I’ve seen on the planet, sports photography is without a doubt a business that is ALL about who you know and not what you know. With the access you get at most sports events, a working finger and a proper camera is all that’s required to leave the game with some good shots and the truly talented leave the game with great shots and the best connected have remote camera setups in impossible places to get the phenomenal shots. This is the reality of the business, so a book like this should realistically have a chapter on the reality of what it really takes to get credentials.

A Better Way To Learn

Beginner Sports Photography with Scott Kelby
Beginner Sports Photography with Scott Kelby on Kelby Training (discount)

I was disappointed with the educational side of this book but by sheer coincidence I found out that Scott Kelby was offering a Beginner Sports Photography class on Kelby Training when I was on his show The Grid. Tonight I finally had a chance to check it out and I was actually quite impressed with how good it was! I’ve shot NFL football, Formula 1 racing, the Olympics and more so I’ve got a decent handle on what’s required to be a sports photographer, and Scott does a fantastic job of putting it on on the table in his typical easy to understand way.

Click here to learn more about this course and watch the first segment for free, and visit here to get a discount on Kelby Training if you haven’t discovered the best deal in photography yet.

Conclusion

Don’t expect much education from this book, but you can get much inspiration from it. Sure, it does have some fundamental tips that will help you photograph your kids sports, but in some cases the author fails to offer a budget solution to shoot (i.e., you aren’t going to have remote 2400w/s strobes at your kids basketball game). In this sense, it’s a good reality check about what the real pros are doing to get the shots that mere mortals can’t pull off (mostly due to the money required to get the necessary gear). With those disclaimers, I found it to be highly entertaining with some very cool photos, so I enjoyed it much the same as I’d enjoy a novel or typical coffee table book like The Moment It Clicks. At under $15, it’s worth the money if you are a excited about sports photography.

Where to order

Click here to order at Amazon. If you have a Kindle Fire (or compatible reader) then you may want to get the Sports Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots [Kindle Edition].

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lens rental

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

NOTE: This site requires cookies and uses affiliate linking to sites that use cookies.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by making a donation or saving money by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity

Thursday, June 27, 2013

50% Off ALL onOne Software until June 30th


NOTE: The sale is until June 30th, not June 28th

Where to order

Click here to learn more.

Other articles you may enjoy

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Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

NOTE: This site requires cookies and uses affiliate linking to sites that use cookies.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by making a donation or saving money by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

REVIEW: Rogue XL Pro Lighting Kit by ExpoImaging

ExpoImaging Rogue XL Pro Lighting Kit
ExpoImaging Rogue XL Pro Lighting Kit

When the ExpoImaging Rogue Small Soft Box Kit came out I was an instant fan as it’s a nice compact alternative to my EzyBox. As much as I enjoy it, I did wish it was much bigger so I was pleased when I found out that a larger version was coming in the XL kit. With a surface area that’s nearly as big as my portable softbox, I can get nice studio light with a configuration that easily fits in my Think Tank Photo camera bag.

Sample Images

I managed to talk my wife into stepping into the studio for a quick 15 minute shoot so I could show you what kind of light you can expect to get from the Soft Box featured in this kit. The following images were taken with a Canon 1D X but would have looked the same way had they been taken with a 6D, 5D Mark III, or even a Nikon D600. I used Canon 600EX-RT flash so I could take advantage of the radio trigger from my Canon ST-E3.

I chose to shoot in Manual instead of ETTL just so I could have a little more control of my light power. My flash was set to 1/32 power most of the time and my camera was set as shown. I intentionally went a little hot with the flash on these as the brighter light makes my wife happier than lighter light which brings out more skin detail. ;-)

I had my black background already up so I decided to go for a dark one-light look just for fun, so don’t let the dark look fool you – it had nothing to do with the lighting modifier.


Canon 1D X 1/160 sec at f/4.5, ISO 100 at 70mm (24-70mm f/2.8L II)

In the Shadows
Sepia Toning done with Topaz
B&W Effects (bundle on sale here)
Canon 1D X 1/125 sec at f/4, ISO 100 at 70mm (24-70mm f/2.8L II)

Here’s the basic I used for the two images above, but I moved the
soft box to the opposite side & to the side for the Sepia shot

Canon 1D X 1/160 sec at f/6.3, ISO 100 at 70mm (24-70mm f/2.8L II)

The shot above was done with a Lastolite Triflector (now only available as a kit),
but any reflector would do if positioned properly.

Configurations

Strip Box
Strip Box

Soft Box
Soft Box

Reflector
Reflector
(Silver & Black attachment not shown)

Conclusion

Personally I had no use for the strip box, but that’s a personal preference other photographers most likely do not share with me. I supposed if I wanted to I could have used it as a hair light or used it for the In the Shadows shot, but I didn’t feel the need to. I consider the strip box to be an extra included in a kit that I consider to primarily be a big portable soft box/reflector kit – which is a good thing!

I liked the compact size, but I did find that with the Rogue FlashBender being this larger that weight becomes a bit of an issue so it would slide down on my flash head from time to time while I was shooting. I found this to be annoying, but I eventually tightened it up enough where it stopped. A piece of gaffer’s tape would have done the trick too. It also means that you’ll probably want a sandbag on your stand to avoid it tipping over (a problem I didn’t have indoors), but realistically you should always do that when you use stands anyway.

Those issues aside, I was very happy with this product and the results. I’m glad to have a more compact and portable option to my EzyBox.

Where to order

Click here to order the ExpoImaging Rogue XL Pro Lighting Kit from the B&H web site. My friends at Adorama have it available here.

Special Offer Direct from Expoimaging

You can purchase ExpoImaging Rogue XL Pro Lighting Kit direct from ExpoImaging and get a special discount:

ExpoImaging Store - Redeem Discount Coupon
NOTE: You MUST provide your credit card info before the Redeem button will work!

Click here and use the coupon code ronmart09 to learn more and save.

Codes change so check the discount coupon code page for the latest code if this code doesn’t work.

Other articles you may enjoy

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Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

NOTE: This site requires cookies and uses affiliate linking to sites that use cookies.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by making a donation or saving money by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity

Sony DSC-RX1R and RX100M II Available to Order

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R Digital Camera
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R Digital Camera
(Adorama)

Sony DSC-RX1R Product Highlights

  • 24.3MP Full-Frame Exmor CMOS Sensor
  • BIONZ Image Processor
  • Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 35mm f/2 Lens
  • No Optical Low-Pass Filter
  • 3.0" 1,229k-Dot Xtra Fine LCD Monitor
  • Full HD 1080p Video at 24 or 60 fps
  • High Speed AF and MF Focus Peaking
  • Continuous Shooting Rate Up to 5 fps
  • Low-Light Sensitivity to ISO 25600
  • Multi Interface Shoe

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R Digital Camera Rear View
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R Digital Camera Rear View (Adorama)

24.3 MP 35 mm Full Frame Sensor

A whole new world of high-quality images are realized through the 24.3 MP effective 35 mm full-frame sensor, a normal sensor range of ISO 100 – 25600, and a sophisticated balance of high resolving power, gradation and low noise. The BIONZ®image processor enables up to 5 fps highspeed continuous shooting and 14-bit RAW image data recording.

DSC-RX1R: Ultimate resolution

The RX1R is a special edition of the RX1 for photographers who want to take full advantage of the sensor’s capabilities, and whose workflow normally includes computer based post-processing. The optical low-pass (anti-aliasing) filter that is built into the RX1 to minimize the occurrence of moirĂ© and color artifacts has been removed from the RX1R, allowing the full resolution of the sensor to be achieved without compromise. The RX1R takes RX1 resolution to the limit.

Bright F2.0 Carl Zeiss®Sonnar T* lens

Carl Zeiss®lens expertise meets Sony optical precision in a sophisticated large-aperture lens that earns the coveted “Sonnar” name by offering remarkable brightness reminiscent of the sun. Whether taking casual snapshots, highly precise close-ups, or seriously composed landscapes and portraits, the Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 35mm F2.0 fixed focal length lens ensures exceptional image quality.

Full HD 24p video and stereo input

Create movies of amazing clarity at Full HD resolution with manual control and stereo recording. Movies can be recorded at 60i for super smooth playback or 24p for a cinematic look. You can also use P/A/S/M modes to expand your moviemaking creativity. The DSC-RX1R Multiinterface shoe has been upgraded to record stereo sound when using the optional ECM-XYST1M external microphone.

Amazing Low-light performance

Experience incredible low-light shooting without a flash. The camera captures six images in a fraction of a second. Combining the data from all six, it creates a single image with a reduction in noise equivalent to two additional steps of ISO sensitivity. Sensitivity selectable up to ISO 25600. (Recommended for still subjects.)

High speed Auto Focus

Focus fast and accurate with high speed AF precision. To improve focusing speed and sensitivity, the Exmor®CMOS sensor uses its rapid throughput to deliver high-quality image signals to the camera’s BIONZ processor, which provides intelligent response data to a new high speed actuator motor in the lens. The result is fast, DSLR-like focusing speeds even in low light.

Full frame burst shooting

When subjects are moving quickly, you can capture the decisive moment by shooting continuously at 5 frames per second — while maintaining maximum image quality at full 24.3 effective megapixel (approx.) resolution made possible by the BIONZ®image processor.

Three control lens rings

Full manual operation is intuitive on the RX1. Users can keep their eyes on the subject and concentrate on the composition while comfortably adjusting the dedicated aperture, focusing, and macro switching rings.

Conveniently placed dials

Quick access to conveniently placed exposure compensation and focus mode dials.

TRILUMINOS Color

The DSC-RX1R support Sony’s proprietary TRILUMINOS Color technology, allowing you to experience photos and movies in rich, natural colors on any TV equipped with a TRILUMINOS Display. The expanded color gamut immerses you in those unforgettably colorful moments, from the complex shades in a shimmering blue sky to the delicate skin in a baby’s face.

Expressive Full HD movie recording

As when capturing photographs, you can take full advantage of the bright lens and sensitive 35mm full-frame sensor to create movies of breathtaking quality in various lighting. Movies are recorded at Full HD resolution (1920 x 1080 pixel) in the AVCHD Ver. 2.0 progressive format, and movies can be recorded at 60i or 60p for super smooth playback or 24p for a cinematic look, or other frame rates for other effects. Full-time continuous AF ensures clear results even when capturing fast-moving subjects. Moreover, Creative Style settings and Picture Effect expand your moviemaking creativity while

P/A/S/M modes enable manual exposure control.

Customizable buttons personalize operation

For the ultimate in user-friendly operation, you can easily reassign five buttons to activate other functions you frequently use. These buttons (Custom, AEL and Left/Right/Down) can be reassigned to activate any of the following functions:

Drive mode, Flash mode, Autofocus Area, Face Detection, Smile Shutter, Auto Portrait Framing, Soft Skin Effect, ISO,

Metering mode, Flash Compensation, White Balance, DRO, Auto HDR, Creative Style, Picture Effect, Image Size, Quality,

Registration, AEL hold*, Spot AEL hold*, AEL toggle, Spot AEL toggle, AF/MF Control Hold*, AF/MF Control Toggle, Smart

Tele-converter, Zoom, Focus Magnifier, Aspect Ratio, Monitor Mute and Not set. * Cannot be assigned to left, right and down buttons.

Bright high-resolution display

The 3.0” (1,229k-dot) Xtra Fine LCD enhances shooting ease by displaying scenes with impressive brightness and accuracy. Brightness is boosted by the white pixels of WhiteMagic™ technology, while blacks are displayed blacker thanks to various

Sony technologies including an AR (anti-reflection) coating on the LCD surface and a layer of resin between the LCD and reinforced glass that together suppress light reflection even when shooting outdoors. An illumination intensity sensor also optimally adjusts brightness depending on your shooting environment.

Quick Navi simplifies navigation

Easier to navigate than conventional menus, Quick Navi lets you confirm current camera settings at a glance and promptly change settings with the cross keys and control dial/wheel. User-friendly icons further contribute to easy operation that doesn’t require looking into menus — a capability that especially comes in handy when using the optional viewfinder.

Memory Recall (MR) memorizes combined settings

Whenever you find a perfect combination of camera settings for a certain type of shooting situation, you can save it in memory by using the Memory Recall mode. Should a similar situation arise, you can immediately activate the saved combination via dial. This mode can memorize up to three groups of settings (including exposure modes, shutter speed, Drive mode, ISO, White Balance, Metering modes, etc.).

Grid lines support balanced compositions

You can display grid lines on the LCD to support more accurate horizontal and vertical alignment of the camera with walls, streets and other elements in your scene. There are three styles to choose from (Rule of 3rds Grid Line, Square Grid Line, and Diagonal + Square Grid Line). For extra assistance, the Dual-axis Digital Level Gauge can be used to check for camera roll and pitch.

Finer focusing via MF Assist and Peaking functions

During manual focusing, use MF Assist to enlarge the displayed image up to 11.7x (approx.) and more clearly see the results of your finest focusing adjustments. A Peaking function can also be activated to enable focusing confirmation at a glance by colorizing the most sharply focused areas.

More natural gradations through D-range Optimizer (DRO)

In difficult lighting conditions such as backlit scenes, DRO analyses and corrects your image in real time to achieve smoother, more natural gradations with more detail in the highlights and shadows that more closely match what you see with your naked eye. You can choose the amount of correction up to 5 steps and even apply DRO during continuous shooting to achieve better results during sports photography. Note: The effects of DRO vary depending on the scene and conditions.

White balance versatility for desired color tones

Auto White Balance (AWB) produces more natural colors by compensating for the type of lighting in your scene. The RX1/RX1R also provides a full range of white balance presets (Daylight, Incandescent, Fluorescent, etc.) a Color Temperature & Color Filter function, and Custom white balance adjustment options. You can even intuitively adjust white balance on a chart — in the amber-blue and green-magenta directions — during real-time monitoring of your scene* to achieve desired colors. * When a flash is used, the color tone can be adjusted after the image is shot.

Image Data Converter Ver. 4.2 RAW image development software

This powerful PC software provides advanced features for developing, editing and managing your 14-bit RAW (Sony ARW format) images. For example, you can expertly adjust exposure, white balance, tonal curves and more to match your creative intentions; convert the color space; save images in the JPEG, 16-bit TIFF and other formats; create thumbnail portfolios with image ratings; or apply Creative Style settings. The software can be downloaded for free from the Internet.

Sony DSC-RX100M2 Product Highlights

  • 20.2MP 1" Exmor R BSI CMOS Sensor
  • BIONZ Image Processor
  • Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* f/1.8 Lens
  • 35mm Equivalent Focal Length: 28-100mm
  • 3.0" 1,229k-Dot Tilting Xtra Fine LCD
  • Full HD 1080i/p Video at 60 and 24 fps
  • Built-In Wireless and NFC Connectivity
  • Low-Light Sensitivity to ISO 12800
  • Multi Interface Shoe and Control Ring
  • High Speed AF & Manual Exposure Control

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100M2 Digital Camera
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100M2 Digital Camera
(Adorama)

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100M2 Digital Camera Rear View
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100M2 Digital Camera Rear View
(Adorama)

New 20.2 MP 1-inch Exmor R®Sensor

The world’s first 1.0” CMOS sensor featuring an Exmor R®image sensor technology. With this back-illuminated technology, the sensor doubles light sensitivity and combines with Sony’s Column A/D Conversion to reduce noise by half — a great help when photographing in dimly lit environments. Markedly reduced noise is evident even when high-sensitivity settings are used for capturing night landscapes or indoor scenes.

Carl Zeiss®T* F1.8 3.6x optical zoom

The large-diameter F1.8 Carl Zeiss®Vario-Sonnar T* lens delivers refined background defocusing (bokeh). A premium multilayered T* coating also dramatically reduces ghost and flare caused by light reflection.

Simple connectivity to smartphones via Wi-Fi®or NFC

Connectivity with smartphones for One-touch sharing/One-touch remote has been simplified with Wi-Fi®/NFC control. In addition to Wi-Fi support for connecting to smartphones, the DSC-RX100M2 also supports NFC (near field communication) - a first for Sony digital cameras - providing “touch connection” convenience when transferring images to Android™ smartphones and tablets. Users need only touch devices to connect; no complex set-up is required. Moreover, when using Smart Remote Control — a feature that allows shutter release to be controlled by a smartphone — connection between DSC-RX100MR and the smartphone can be established by simply touching devices.

Expanded ISO Sensitivity

With a new Exmor R®sensor that features the same adaptive noise reduction technology from Sony’s flagship SLT-A99V, the DSC-RX100M2 easily offers a wide range of sensitivity from ISO 160 to ISO 12800.

High speed Auto Focus

To improve focusing speed and sensitivity, the Exmor R®CMOS sensor uses its rapid throughput to deliver high-quality image signals to the camera’s BIONZ®processor, which provides intelligent response data to a new high speed actuator motor in the lens. The result is fast, DSLR-like focusing speeds even in low light.

Comfortable control ring for manual operation

A unique control ring around the lens works in combination with an intuitive, displayed user interface for meticulous SLRtype control over settings that satisfies even the most fastidious users. The control ring can be assigned to adjust various features (at various values) from basics like zooming and aperture to creative functions like Picture Effect. Moreover, it turns smoothly and seamlessly, allowing quiet, click-free usage while shooting movies including a new step-zoom function that enables instant selection of commonly used focal lengths.

Capture JPEG files, RAW files, or both

The DSC-RX100M2 saves pictures as compact JPEG files and/or ultra-high quality RAW files. RAW files save images prior to de-mosaicking, white balance, sharpness and color enhancement. This retains maximum latitude for enhancing the image on your PC.

New Multi Interface Shoe connector

Users can expand photographic and movie shooting possibilities by attaching optional accessories via the Multi Interface Shoe, including an electronic viewfinder, powerful external flash and stereo microphone. You can also connect with a compatible remote control via Multi Terminal.

Full HD Movies at 60p/60i/24p

Capture HD Movies in your choice of super-smooth 60p, standard 60i or cinematic 24p, all at Full HD 1920x1080 resolution.

AVCHD™ codec delivers stunning picture quality. MP4 codec offers smaller files for easier upload to the web.

Tiltable 3.0” Xtra Fine LCD™

The tiltable 3” (1,229k dots) Xtra Fine™ LCD Display makes it easy to photograph over crowds or low to capture pets eye to eye by swinging up approx. 84° and down approx. 45°. Easily scroll through menus and preview life thanks to WhiteMagic™ technology that dramatically increases visibility in bright daylight. The large display delivers brilliant-quality still images and movies while enabling easy focusing operation.

Auto Object Framing

Give your photos a professional look with Auto Object Framing. Featuring advancements like exceptional two-person portrait capability along with Face Detection and Tracking Focus, Auto Object Framing not only turns ordinary photos into stunning compositions but does so automatically recognizing the scene then cropping accordingly.

Expanded ISO Sensitivity

With a new Exmor R®sensor that features the same adaptive noise reduction technology from Sony’s flagship SLT-A99V, the DSC-RX100M2 easily offers a wide range of sensitivity from ISO 160 to ISO 12800.

Customizable function button

Assign up to seven different functions to the function button, to allow quick access to your most frequently used functions.

Optical SteadyShot®with 3-way Active Mode

Optical SteadyShot® image stabilization reduces shake and blur by countering camera movements in both horizontal and vertical directions. Active 3-Way stabilization adds digital rolling control that counters clockwise and anti-clockwise rotation, resulting in more stable videos even at long focal lengths. Active 3-Way stabilization adds digital rolling controlthat counters clockwise and anti-clockwise rotation, resulting in more stable videos even at long focal lengths.

Auto HDR mode:

Captures more scene dynamic range than a single exposure can handle—and more range than photo film. Combines the best highlight detail from one shot, the best mid-tones from a second and the best shadow detail from a third for one incredible shot (up to 6 EV stops). Captures in a split second. (Recommended for still subjects.)

Face Detection/ Registration technology

The camera can automatically detect and register up to eight individual faces and adjust focus, exposure, white balance and flash to help deliver crisp, properly lit images of family and friends. Can prioritize children or adults

Multi-aspect ratio recording for still images

Capture still images in any of four aspect ratios — 1:1, 2:3, 4:3, or 16:9 (vertical to horizontal). This provides the freedom to choose a ratio that matches the scene or the specific shooting purpose.

3.6x optical/7.2x Clear Image digital zoom

Most digital zooms use electronic cropping to get closer to the subject, resulting in unsharp images. With Clear Image Zoom the powerful processor compares patterns found in adjacent pixels and creates new pixels to match selected patterns, resulting in more realistic, higher-quality images. Clear Image Zoom digitally doubles optical zoom for closer photos.

Picture Effect mode

Realize your creative potential with Picture Effect, a fun and simple way to convert ordinary landscapes and portraits that come to life by heightening mood and emphasizing certain attributes. Effects are Soft Focus, Posterization, Retro Photo,

High Contrast Monochrome, Rich-tone Monochrome, Miniature, Soft High-key, Toy Camera, Pop Color, Partial Color, Watercolor Painting, HDR Painting, and Illustration.

Creative Style settings

Control how the camera processes your images with six finishing styles: Standard, Vivid, B&W, Sunset, Portrait and Landscape. You can even fine-tune contrast, saturation, and sharpness to your personal taste.

Conclusion

There was a lot to love about the RX1 and RX100 predecessors for these cameras, so it is great to see Sony making improvements on these popular cameras. The removal of the low pass filter ensures that overall image quality improvements are going to make these two cameras even more sought after than their predecessors.

Where to order

Click here to order the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R Digital Camera from the B&H web site. My friends at Adorama also have it available here.

Click here to order the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100M2 Digital Camera from the B&H web site. My friends at Adorama also have it available here.

Other articles you may enjoy

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy these reviews:

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

NOTE: This site requires cookies and uses affiliate linking to sites that use cookies.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by making a donation or saving money by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

REVIEW: Mastering Photography by Andrew S Gibson


Mastering Photography by Andrew S Gibson

While I’m a huge fan of Scott Kelby’s The Digital Photography Book, there are some people who just want a quick overview (or refresher) of the basics of photography. This eBook has the same “get to the point” style as Kelby’s book, but it offers a little more depth on the subjects it covers. Here’s a quick peek at the table of contents to show what’s inside:

image

This book just gets to the point about what you need to know in a very visual and friendly way. While the book does have a Canon-centric approach (which is no surprise since this is the author of the best book on Canon’s DPP), he’s done a good job of tossing in some diagrams for the D600, D7100, X20, and NEX-7 to help translate terminology for readers coming from different camera platforms.

Special offer – only £5

image


There is a special offer in place. You can use the code july2 to receive a discount of £2 on Mastering Photography. The discount also applies to the bundles and the other eBooks. The code won't expire until midnight, July 31.

Conclusion

This is a nicely laid out book and a simple read for a bargain basement price. What’s more you can read it on any device that can read PDF’s, so it’s a great field guide to keep on your phone too! It’s dirt cheap, so it’s worth a look if you’d like to have the basics of photography at close reach the next time you go out shooting.

Where to order

Click here to learn more or order your copy today.

Other articles you may enjoy

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy these:

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

NOTE: This site requires cookies and uses affiliate linking to sites that use cookies.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by making a donation or saving money by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity

Nik Collection Upgrade & onOne Special Offer

My partnership and special offers with Nik Software have ended. Here’s where you can learn more about the Nik Products that I have reviewed and learn how you can get a great deal on onOne Software just by being a Nik Collection owner.

Nik Collection by Google - only $149

Click here to learn more and see the articles below to see my thoughts on each of these products:

 

Save 50% Off ALL onOne Software products if you own the Nik Collection by Google

Owners of Nik Plug-Ins Get 50% Off Perfect Photo Suite 7
Save 50% on the Perfect Photo Suite 7 (with a FREE upgrade to 7.5) if you own the Nik Collection by Google

Frequently Asked Questions

The following is my understanding based on my conversation with my Nik Software marketing contact and what I’ve read on the Google website. I’m not responsible for any errors or change in policy that is beyond my control. Buyer beware.

What happened to your discount?

It’s gone. My partnership with the Nik Team (now acquired by Google) has ended. I’d like to thank Kevin, Josh & Laurie for their support and wish them the best in the future.

I already owned the collection, but I didn't get the free upgrade email. What do I do now?

Start by checking your junk mail folder. If you can't find it there, check your deleted items. If that doesn't work, then try to think if you had a different email account that you used to register or purchase your Nik software. If none of that works, then send an email to supportus@niksoftware.com to request a new email.

I clicked on the link but it wasn't a exe. What do I do with this file?

Odds are you are using Internet Explorer. Instead of clicking, choose right click Save As... and save it as a exe on your desktop. If that doesn't work, download the file and RENAME it to have a .exe extension, then run it. Alternatively you can use Chrome as shown in my videos and this won't happen as it lacks this security feature to prevent you from downloading malicious exe's off the web.

I just bought the complete collection - how do I get a refund?

It is my understanding that those who purchased within the last 30 days will get a email (check your junk mail folder) within the next couple days that will get an automatic refund of the purchase price different (i.e., you get it for $149 - max). The exact cutoff date is 30 days prior to today's announcement. They can't go back forever, so if you go back 31 days then you are out of luck.

What happen to my product ID's?

They've been eliminated - your email address that you used to register your product is your new product id. Your email from Google (check your junk mail) has details on how to install the new Nik Collection by Google upgrade.

What's new in the upgrade?

Branding, Windows 8 support, Single Installer and a new licensing model that doesn't require PID's. I'm not aware of any fundamental changes to any of the Nik products.

If I only own one Nik Software product what happens?

You are very lucky because you get a FREE upgrade to the entire collection. Count your lucky stars! ;-)

What about upgrades?

All Nik customers who get the email will be upgraded to the latest version at no charge. I've also been told that in the future upgrades will be free, so it sounds like it's pay one price to play.

Is Google using this as a trick to force us to all pay for an upgrade to a new or replacement product here in 6 months?

Not from what I understand. It sounds like they plan to carry the product forward and just wanted to simplify the distribution, licensing and upgrade process.

Wait Ron, I asked for your advice and you told me X and now this happens. You suck!

Hey, I'm very sorry as I just found out at 8:36 AM this morning like the rest of the world. I had no clue this was happening and it's financial impact on me is going to be significant, so I feel your pain.

Does this mean Nik is now in maintenance mode and we won't see any real upgrades?

It's my understanding that the product group still exists and is working on new products, so I don't think that is the case. I have no facts though so this is pure speculation based on rumors.

Now that you don’t make a commission off Nik products, which program would you get? This or a competing product?

Click here to read my advice on which plug-ins to buy. Nik still makes the best products in the business, so my advice doesn't change based on this. This will impact the business model of this blog, so I will lose money over the long haul. If you find this blog useful, donations will become more important over the long haul to sustain this blog now that one of my top partners has changed the game.

I didn't get the email, what do I do?

Start by checking your junk mail folder. If you can't find it there, check your deleted items. If that doesn't work, then try to think if you had a different email account that you used to register or purchase your Nik software. If none of that works, then send an email to supportus@niksoftware.com to request a new email.

Upgrade Video

Here’s a little video I did on my Windows system that shows how you can upgrade quickly and easily for both Photoshop and Lightroom:


Mac Users Video

Here’s a little video I did on my Mac OS X 10.8.2 system that shows how you can upgrade quickly and easily for both Photoshop and Lightroom:

 

Other articles you may enjoy

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. All information is provided to the best of my ability based on reliable sources, but my sources and I do not make future policy so changes are possible without notice.

NOTE: This site requires cookies and uses affiliate linking to sites that use cookies.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by making a donation or saving money by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity

Monday, June 24, 2013

FUJIFILM X-M1 available for pre-order (includes XC16-50mm (24-76mm) F3.5-5.6 OIS lens)

Fujifilm has made things a bit more interesting by offering yet another X series camera with interchangeable lenses, yet this time the starting price drops to lower than a X-E1 thanks to cost savings caused by removing the viewfinder. Before you shed tears for the viewfinder (which I found to be useless anyway on the X-Series), this model picks up built-in WiFi along with the APS-C X-Trans CMOS sensor and EXR Processor II. What this means is that you have a state of the art X-Series camera that works with the X Mount lenses for a starting price under $700 (body only) or under $800 with the new image stabilized zoom lens.

To be clear, this isn’t a X100s with interchangeable lenses – I’m expecting that to appear in the replacement for the X-Pro1 and X-E1. This uses the original x100 APS-C X-Trans CMOS sensor found in the X-E1, but it does use the X100s new EXR Processor II and it doesn’t have a optical low pass filter. As a result, great image quality is very likely for a very reasonable price!

Fujifilm X-M1
Fujifilm X-M1

Press Release

X-M1 Rear View
X-M1 Rear View

 

Valhalla, N.Y., June 24, 2013 – FUJIFILM North America Corporation today announced the all new, premium FUJIFILM X-M1 compact system camera (CSC), the third interchangeable lens system camera introduced within the award-winning FUJIFILM X-Series. The X-M1 is a lightweight camera that includes the same 16.3 Megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS sensor used in the critically acclaimed FUJIFILM X-Pro1and X-E1 that delivers outstanding image quality, all in a premium, beautifully crafted body.

The X-M1 will ship with a newly-designed FUJINON XC16-50mm (24-76mm)*1 F3.5-5.6 OIS zoom lens that allows enthusiast photographers to capture crystal clear wide angle to mid-telephoto range images. The XC16-50mm is a versatile lens that is ideal for a wide range of photographic subjects, including stunning low-light scenes, true to life portraits and rich colorful landscapes. The lens consists of 12 all glass elements in 10 groups including 3 aspherical elements and 1 ED element. The lens features seven round-edged aperture blades, which offer 17 stops in 1/3 EV increments for precise aperture control.

“The X-M1 is a perfect combination of power and performance, all within a lightweight and well-built chassis. Photographers and enthusiasts alike can confidently take the X-M1 everywhere they go, and it will deliver images that exceed their expectations,” said Go Miyazaki, president and chief operating officer, FUJIFILM North America Corporation.

“The remarkable new X-M1 with its large APS-C X-Trans sensor, 3” tilting LCD screen, new XC16-50mm lens and easy wireless image transfer, gives enthusiasts the ability to capture amazing quality images and also share them effortlessly.”

Award-winning 16.3 Megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS sensor and EXR Processor II

The FUJIFILM X-M1 uses the same large APS-C X-Trans CMOS sensor that is found in the X-Pro1 and the X-E1 with a unique color filter array that minimizes moiré and false color without the need for an optical low pass filter. This makes it possible for the camera to maximize extremely high resolution, and to capture each image with accuracy and clarity when using high performance FUJINON lenses.

With the X-M1, users can set the sensor sensitivity from ISO200 to as high as ISO6400 in 1/3 step increments, and even take advantage of the extended range of ISO100 and ISO25600 to obtain amazingly clear and low-noise images even in low-light conditions when shooting at night or indoors.

Together with the EXR Processor II, the X-M1 gives customers incredible speed and response times with a start-up time of 0.5 seconds*2, a shutter time lag of 0.05 seconds and a maximum burst speed of 5.6 frames per second (max. 30 frames*3).

Compact performance and advanced features

X-M1 Top View
X-M1 Top View

The X-M1 compact ILC combines advanced features in a go-anywhere design. The X-M1 weighs just 11.6oz*4 and measures 4.6” W by 2.6” H by 1.5” D, about half the size of a traditional DSLR body. With a slim profile of 1.3” at its trimmest point, the X-M1 is easily carried anywhere, and can be trusted to deliver high-quality images.

Along with its large APS-C X-Trans CMOS sensor, the X-M1 also features a 3” tilting high resolution LCD screen with 920,000 dots for easy image viewing and framing at various angles.

The 3” LCD monitor tilts at variable vertical angles, facilitating both low-angle and high-angle shots whether on or off a tripod.

The X-M1 gives users additional flexibility with its built-in high precision flash, with the guide number 7*5, and Super Intelligent Flash technology that automatically controls flash strength according to scene types to reduce highlight clipping.

Easy Image Transfer with WiFi® button

The X-M1 features a WiFi button that lets users transfer photos and movies*6 from the camera to smartphones, tablets and computers allowing enthusiasts to upload high quality images to social media sites for easy sharing.

To connect the X-M1 to a smartphone or tablet, users can download the free dedicated “FUJIFILM Camera Application” to their iPhone™ / iPad™ or Android™ smartphone or tablet device to transfer up to 30 pictures at a time from the X-M1. The app also lets users download movies, expanding the range of options available for enjoying pictures taken with the camera.

Intuitive design and easy operation

The intuitive design of the X-M1 gives users the ability for one-handed camera operation, which is perfect for the fleeting moments when you need to pick up the camera quickly and start shooting.

The X-M1 has its key operation buttons and dials positioned on the right side of the camera’s rear panel for easy use and quick picture taking. The Mode Dial for selecting the optimum setting for each scene gives access to the Advanced SR Auto function, which automatically recognizes each scene and selects the best settings for sharp and clear images.

The Advanced Filter function gives users a range of creative filters to apply and achieve unique and artistic looks. The use of two perfectly positioned Command Dials allows users to effortlessly adjust the aperture, shutter speed and exposure compensation, while frequently-used functions are given individual buttons, thereby enabling intuitive and quick operation.

FUJIFILM X-M1 key features list:

  • 16.3 Megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS sensor
  • EXR Processor II
    • Start-up time of 0.5
    • Shutter lag time of 0.05
    • Shooting interval time of 0.7
  • 3” (920K dot) tilting high resolution LCD screen
  • Full range of ISO100 – ISO25600
  • Wireless image transfer
  • Q Menu shortcut button
  • In-camera RAW processing
  • Film Simulation modes (Velvia, ASTIA, PROVIA, Sepia, and Black & White)
  • 8 Advanced Filters (Toy Camera, Miniature, Dynamic Tone, Pop Color, Soft Focus, High Key, Low Key and Partial Color)
  • Multiple Exposure mode to superimpose a second exposure on the first exposure
  • Full HD movie 1080P\30fps and built-in stereo microphone
  • Available accessories include: Leather Case, Hand Grip, and Clip-on Flash

FUJINON XC16-50mm (24-76mm) F3.5-5.6 OIS

· 24-76mm equivalent F3.5-5.6 lens

· Fully compatible with FUJIFILM X-Mount

· 12 all glass elements in 10 groups including 3 aspherical elements and 1 ED element

· Seven round-edged aperture blades, which offer 17 stops in 1/3 EV steps

The FUJIFILM X-M1 (body only) will be available in black and silver in July 2013 for $699.95.

The FUJIFILM X-M1 and XC16-50mm (24-76mm) F3.5-5.6 OIS lens (kit) will be available in July 2013 for $799.95.

The FUJIFILM X-M1 (body only) will be available in brown in August 2013 for $699.95.

The FUJIFILM X-M1 uses the same FUJIFILM X-Mount as the X-Pro1 and X-E1, and all FUJIFILM XF and XC lenses will work with all X-Series interchangeable lens cameras.

The current Fujifilm lens family includes the following FUJINON XF and XC lenses:

  • XF 14mm F2.8
  • XF 18mm F2.0
  • XF 27mm F2.8
  • XF 35mm F1.4
  • XF 60mm F2.4
  • XF 18-55mm F2.8-4.0 OIS
  • XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 OIS
  • XC 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 OIS

*1 35mm format equivalent

*2 Quick Start mode

*3 Maximum number of frames can be shot in JPEG setting, using a “Class 10” or higher SD card

*4 Including the battery and memory card, excluding the lens

*5 ISO200・m; When shooting at ISO200, the light reaches a subject up to (7/F number) meters away

*6 FUJIFILM Camera Application for iOS can save movie files up to 1280 x 720

 

Where to order

Click here to order the Fujifilm X-M1 web site. My friends at Adorama have it available here.

Other articles you may enjoy

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy these:

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

NOTE: This site requires cookies and uses affiliate linking to sites that use cookies.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by making a donation or saving money by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Catching up from Vacation…

Disney-342-Edit-Edit
Canon 1D X 1/1000 sec at f/4, ISO 6400 at 105mm (24-105mm f/4L IS) Handheld
Copyright Ron Martinsen – All Rights Reserved

I’m running a bit behind this week as I took the entire week off last week for vacation and business travel. As a result, I’m a little behind on my email and research, so I wasn’t able to get a review done today.

I use long flights to read so I have a stack of books that are ready for book reviews, and I’ve been testing out some great products so those are coming soon as well.

As I get back up to speed on things, please feel free to comment about articles you’d like to see this summer.

Other articles you may enjoy

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy these:

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

NOTE: This site requires cookies and uses affiliate linking to sites that use cookies.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by making a donation or saving money by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

REVIEW: Shooting in Sh*tty Light

Shooting in Sh*tty Light: The Top Ten Worst Photography Lighting Situations and How to Conquer Them has to be one of the best book titles ever, because how many times do we find ourselves shooting in sh*tty light right? Wouldn’t it be great for a book to actually talk about shooting in direct sunlight, fluorescent & mixed light, at night with and without a flash, in dappled light and with strong backlight? If this is what you really want to know then you’ll probably love this book as that’s pretty much the titles of most of the chapters of this book!

Now I’ll be honest in saying that most of these situations call for the same solution – the use of a diffusion panel and/or reflector and sometimes fill light. This book goes in depth on these topics, so if you are looking for the magic bullet that allows you to shoot your kids running around in these conditions – this isn’t it. What it does teach quite well is how you can get nice shots of people who can take simple instructions – especially when you have someone who can act as your assistant and hold some common components of a typical reflector kit.

This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart as it’s one thing I like to teach during workshops. It’s a very simple and low cost series of techniques that can make a huge difference in your photography (both indoors and outdoors). The concepts discussed also help you to better understand light so you can apply them to other random challenges you’ll inevitably face during your photography journey.

It’s well written, simple and to the point. What’s more, most of the photos look like they are the out of the camera result with little to know post-processing, so if you like my “real world samples” style then this book will be a welcome relief over what you’d typically find.

Conclusion

I didn’t include a walkthrough section for this review because you can easily understand what’s included by taking a peek inside of the table of contents on the Amazon page for this book. In fact, this is probably a good version to have on your Kindle Fire HD (or equivalent reader) because it’s nice to have a reference handy to solve these common problems when you are out shooting.

If you haven’t mastered using a reflector and diffuser, and the ins and outs of when and why to use them then I highly recommend this book. If you feel comfortable with those tools, yet you still are disappointed with the results you get when photographing people or pets outdoors, then give this book a look – it’s worth your time.

I highly recommend this book – it was much better than I expected!

Where to order

Click here to order this book from Amazon.

Other articles you may enjoy

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Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

NOTE: This site requires cookies and uses affiliate linking to sites that use cookies.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by making a donation or saving money by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

REVIEW: The Photographer’s MBA

The Photographer's MBA: Everything You Need to Know for Your Photography Business is a book that everyone who is serious about trying to make it as a photographer these days should read.

I’ll admit, when people contact me about becoming a photographer I paint an accurate gloom and doom picture of what many GREAT award winning photographers face these days. If you are JUST a great artist/photographer, you will fail (financially) in this business. I see it all the time. However, a mediocre photographer who understands how to market themselves, their product and who understands the economics of the system has the potential to make it. In this book, Sal highlights these realities and shares his tricks of the trade.

Unlike other books on the subject, this one isn’t super dry. It’s an entertaining and motivational read that will have you fired up and ready to take on this challenging industry. With that said, I still urge extreme caution as those with good day time jobs that provide medical benefits and food on the table have a luxury many amazingly  great photographers these days wish they had!

Chapter by Chapter Walkthrough

one – So You Want To Be a Photographer – This chapter offers a dose off reality and hope for the 50,000,000+ people who want to quit their day job each year to become what their imagination this is the relaxing glamorous life of a pro photographer.

two – Let’s Talk Business – This is an important overview with pros and cons about the different business types (i.e., Sole Proprietor, LLC, S-Corporation, etc…). This is the chapter I’ve been wanting to read by someone in the photography business for a long time! If you are still operating as a sole proprietor, then you must read this chapter!

three – The Business Plan – This type of stuff makes artists puke, but the reality is that in this is century you are NOT an artist. You are a business person who sells artwork that you create, and as such there are fundamentals required to ensure your business is a success – and that it is one that banks and business partners will respect. This the meat of the MBA portion of the book, so read this one after a good rest when you have an open mind about what you should be doing  for your business.

four – Branding – This a brilliant Business 101 course about how to establish a brand that your customers will respect.

five – The Marketing Plan – This is a great chapter that shares the reality about what your marketing dollars and effort will get you using a variety of common marketing options. This is a great chapter for the woefully out of date veterans of the business who haven’t caught up to the reality of what no longer works these days and what does. It has great cost, time and return analysis of a variety of techniques ranging from television to AdWords and more.

six – Getting Social – I’ll admit that I enjoy Facebook for personal use, but I really despise having to do anything with social media. However, my embracing social media has taken me to the next level so I can confirm what Sal says here is true. This is the modern day business tax, but most of the time your investment will pay dividends.

seven – Cost and Pricing – This is a brilliant chapter, especially when he talks about packaging. This is an area where most photographers fail miserably, so consider it a must read if you aren’t a rich 6+ figure photographer right now.

eight – Contracts – Another necessary evil chapter, but a must read after your morning coffee.

nine – Finding Your Niche – A good overview of the different categories of photography and practical advice on Sal’s journey trying each technique.

Conclusion

This is a must read book for both the beginner as well as the seasoned pro who doesn’t have enough jobs to not worry about money. Of course, many photographers will argue that they don’t do this for the money, and that’s fine – IF you keep your day job that pays the bills. For those that throw caution to the wind and rely on their skills to pay the bills, this is a must read book.

I give this book a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating from beginner to seasoned veteran (and it’s a bigger must read for struggling seasoned veterans).

Where to order

Click here to order this book on Amazon. It’s also available for your Kindle Fire HD.

Other articles you may enjoy

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy these:

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

NOTE: This site requires cookies and uses affiliate linking to sites that use cookies.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by making a donation or saving money by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Scott Kelby Welcomes Ron Martinsen to The Grid

Ron Martinsen of ronmartblog.com on Scott Kelby's The Grid with Brad Moore

I’m thrilled to announce that Scott Kelby invited me to be a guest co-host on his popular webcast show, The Grid. Check out the special 100th episode of The Grid here:

http://kelbytv.com/thegrid/2013/06/13/the-grid-episode-100-viewer-requested-topics/

Thanks to all of my readers like you who made this possible by your awesome support of this blog! If you like hearing from Scott then be sure to check out KelbyTraining and/or NAPP where he’s managed to get the secrets of some of the best in the business documented in both of these awesome (and super cheap) publications.

I’ve got some good stuff in the queue, so I look forward to getting some great content out later this month after I return and get over my jet lag!

Sincerely,
Ron Martinsen

NOTE: This site requires cookies and uses affiliate linking to sites that use cookies.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by making a donation or saving money by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Celebrating the Black & White Print

clip_image001

My friend Dan Steinhardt at Epson has informed me that they’ve released a cool new video series called “In Celebration of the Black and White Print”. It features some great black and white workflows using my one of favorite black & white products, Silver Efex Pro (click here for the lowest price on the web) and my everyday printer – the R3000 by Dan and Tony Corbell. It also has some great print master interviews with John Sexton and Kim Weston.

If you love black & white printing, then I’m sure these super high quality video will be an enjoyable use of your time!

For more interesting printing topics, check out my printing series page.

NOTE: This site requires cookies and uses affiliate linking to sites that use cookies.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by making a donation or saving money by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

What Gear Should I Bring To Disney?


Disney Reality (Unedited X20 Shot)
You’ll often be shooting during harsh mid-day sun while you are slathered in sunscreen with massive crowds
all around you. This leaves you with limited angles to get a shot and even If you get some things to go right
you can still get an epic fail like this shot with sunscreen on the lens!

It’s funny how often this question comes up, but during the summer it seems to happen weekly. You are going to one of the Disney properties with the family and you are deciding what gear you should bring. Most often this is the “dad” trying to decide what lenses and camera(s) to bring, but occasionally I get a mom asking this question to.

Why are you going to Disney?


Disney is almost always about family (Unedited X20 Shot)
Disney Photo Pass Photographers will photograph you with your camera if you ask
They may not be perfect shots, but they are free keepsakes that you’ll cherish years later

At Disneyland a few years back my wife stopped me and grabbed me by the biceps and said “is this Disney boot camp? Are we here to have fun or to complete your checklist?” This was a life changing moment for me because I knew she was right – the goal of Disney is to have fun with your family, not to take photos or see every attraction. Sure, we want to have nice memento photos of the event, but unless you go alone on assignment your objective is NOT photography. This is a good time to leave your hobby/passion at home and focus on the family, but I can relate with the desire to still have great keepsake photos to remember the event. Here’s some tips on how you can do that:

  1. Leave the DSLR at home – Yes, I know this is painful as there are so many beautiful colors and things to photograph at Disney, but are you there to take photos or to have a great experience with your family? I’ve talked to hundreds of photographers who before their trip thought they could do both, but I have not spoken to a single spouse who agrees that they accomplished that objective. Your objective is to spend time with family, so leave your big camera and lenses at home. Should you decide to bring them, you’ll often find that they get in the way and you never have the lens you want for any given moment in time. Stopping to switch lenses or add a flash isn’t going to make your spouse or kids happy, so trust me when I say DO NOT GO THERE!
  2. Get a killer small camera – I’ve written articles in the past where I’ve taken a G9 to Disneyland, and for Disney World this year I’m taking the X20. Whatever camera you take – make sure it is compact. If you want great photos with a compact camera then you better be willing to pony up some bucks because all of the great ones I’ve reviewed have been in the $500+ range. A used Fujifilm X10 is a good budget solution, but at the end of the day you are going to want a camera that you can lift, click and get the shot – without a lot fiddling around. Great high ISO performance is a huge plus, and personally I prefer a zoom lens over fixed lens solutions like the Sony RX-1 of Fujifilm X100s. See the right side of my blog for a complete list of cameras I’ve reviewed.
  3. Open up your wallet – While the shots may not be as good as one’s you would take with your fancy, schmancy DSLR, go ahead and pay for Disney Photo Pass to take DSLR shots of you and your family. Your family will appreciate you being in the shot and you’ll get your high quality keepsakes. Sure they are shooting with Rebel-class cameras, but odds are they will still be better than yours small camera by virtue of a larger sensor. These folks often know where the great places are to shoot because these people take the same damn shot a thousand times a day in that spot! Sadly though these photographers range from mediocre to downright sloppy, but you’ll care less about composition / quality 20 years from now when your little ones are all grown up.

Tip: Involve your family in your limited photography by letting them take the shots too – even the small kids.


While not perfect, this shot taken by my 5 year old daughter (at the time)
was one of my favorites of the trip – because it was her photo!
Involving family may not get you perfection, but it might get you pleasant
memories. I highly encourage it!
 

Screw you Ron, I’m bringing my good camera

Okay, let’s assume I’m an idiot and don’t know what I’m taking about about. At a minimum if you are going to bring your good gear then consider a mirrorless like the Fujifilm X-E1 where you’ll have a smaller body and lenses to haul around. If you aren’t willing to make that investment and you must bring your big DSLR, then consider a big zoom like a Canon 28-300mm or Nikon 18-300mm so that you aren’t changing lenses. Sure you’ll sacrifice a little quality over your high end pro lenses, but that can most often be fixed in post-processing via sharpening. Personally I find 200mm is plenty of reach – especially with cropped sensor cameras. If you want great quality then a dual lens setup with a 24-70 f/2.8L II & 70-200mm or a 70-300mm can be a a good choice. 

One thing I ask before you do this though is have your spouse read this article. ;-) While s/he may not say anything at first, it’s been my experience that 100% of the time the spouse gets fed up with the Disney vacation becoming a photo walk. Their visions of a happy family enjoying a wonderful experience together are already ruined by the sheer exhaustion that typically happens during a Disney vacation, so your clicking a half dozen photos every 5 minutes is not going to help keep that frustration at bay.

Thanks for depressing me, now what?!!!


Disney offers many fun shooting opportunities (Unedited X20 Shot)
While your images might not be DSLR like, good weather and light can give you some
solid images that look great after simple editing with Color Efex

When I give people Disney Camera advice I usually get the following reactions:

  1. You don’t know what you are talking about MY spouse is different – This is the photographer who usually has a piece of photography gear thrown at them by their formerly unflappable spouse who never got angry once in the X years they had been married. If you think this, then hire a good lawyer because there will come a day – and it may be 20 years from now – where you’ll need it because you are clueless about to read your partners true intentions.
  2. Crap, I’ve spent $4000 on gear and you are telling me I need something else now? – This is the tough one that even I faced, but I’d also consider you do what I did – reach out to your friend network and see if you have a friend who will loan you the camera you need – perhaps even in exchange for you loaning them your DSLR. Even if you are terrified of loaning someone your gear, TRUST ME – gear at Disney will take more of a beating than anything your friend will typically do with your DSLR back home! You are the one who is going to add scuffs and dings to their precious camera. You can also consider renting which is cheaper than purchasing, so if you go back to your DSLR when you get home then your rental money will be well spent.
  3. Okay, I trust you – now what?!! – See #2, but generally speaking you want an all-in one solution. Sure cameras like the x100s and RX-1 are tempting, but the lack of zoom will prove frustrating at Disney. My weapon of choice in the past was the Fujifilm x10, but now is the x20. It’s hard to go wrong with either, but the x10 does have the advantage of its EXR mode which is pretty much a full-auto that “just works”. Sure you won’t have raw files, but are you REALLY going to go through and process the RAW versions of all 450+ Disney photos you took? Are these really your portfolio images, or are they really for your family and parents? The truth of the matter is that these photos will often be keepsakes that are shared privately so the content will outweigh the quality 99.999999% of the time. As a result, take advantage of the engineering you’ve paid for in your camera and take advantage of the work done to create very usable JPEG images that are sure to make mom happy! If you can get RAW images out of your camera then do that too for the extra insurance you get with having a raw handy.

If you REALLY want to do it right…

Okay, with the lecture behind me I can honestly say that any Disney property is a photographers dream. While you probably won’t get the release you need to use the photos commercially, it can still be a great place to add photos to your personal collection. If you really want to do Disney right as a photographer my biggest advice is to carve out a few days where it’s just you and your camera at the park. This removes you from any family obligations so you can be there for the park opening and most importantly, sunset. What’s more it’s my understanding that you can still bring tripods into the park, so you can setup and take your time to get the great shots of your favorite locations. This also allows you to take super long exposures with a ND filter to help eliminate moving people from your shot. While flash photography isn’t allowed in the attractions, a good DSLR with great high ISO performance is going to help you a lot at freezing the action. Point and shoots generally don’t cut it here, and the smaller form factor cameras that do often don’t have the high ISO range of some of the better DSLR’s.

Lens wise you’ll benefit from having a lens or dual camera setup that minimizes your lens changes, but generally speaking you’ll probably not want anything larger than a 70-200mm lens – even if you are by yourself. A macro is always handy at Disney as is a standard zoom lens.

You can do yourself a huge favor when you are on your own by timing your visit to occur during off-peak times. This will mean shorter park hours, so if your real objective are fireworks, the light parade or Cinderella’s castle at night then peak season might be a better bet. Generally after the fireworks and last parade the park remains open for about an hour with a much smaller group of people. This is where the photographers come out with the tripods and set up the perfect shot.

Don’t leave home without this…

Whether you choose to shoot with a point and shoot or DSLR, there’s a few must haves that you’ll want on your trip:

  1. Hoodman Loupe – If you do any daytime shooting it will be very difficult to see your LCD in the bight California or Florida sunshine, so you’ll be very glad to have something that can cover your screen so you can view your LCD image with some degree of accuracy. Especially when the light goes harsh this is important as camera meters have to make tough tradeoffs in hash light, so you’ll end up with images that can easily be too bright or too dark. Knowing that before you get home is important, and your histogram won’t always tell you what you really need to know – does my exposure look the way I intended.
  2. Lens cleaner and microfiber – You’ll need a lot of microfibers in fact because you’ll be sweating profusely with sunscreen getting smeared on your camera during the hustle and bustle of getting around the park. Wiping your lens with your shirt or a napkin isn’t going to cut through residue, so clean your lens & LCD often and properly to get the best results. Typically when you are waiting in line for an attraction is a good time.
  3. Lens Hood – Your lens should always have a hood on it in sunny conditions (at a minimum), so if you don’t have a hood at Disney you’ll probably end up with a lot more lens flare and washed out shots than you were expecting.
  4. Flash – A flash – especially one that supports high-speed sync – can be invaluable tor getting you proper fill flash exposures in harsh conditions. If you are stuck with an on-camera flash then just use a single layer of a white napkin or a ketchup cup, because you don’t want to be the dork at the park with reflectors and an assistant!
  5. Essentials – It goes without saying that sunscreen, water, hand sanitizer, and something like baby wipes to keep the oils off your hands are very helpful – at any location on a hot day. There’s a bunch more, but there are tons of books written on what to bring to Disney.

TIP: I’ve seen sunscreen completely erase lettering on cameras before, so if you care about your gear then be careful to avoid sunscreen on it.

Conclusion

Disney Parks are a great activity for the family, so unless you have very deep pockets I’d suggest spending the money on your family first. A good point and shoot or even cell phone will give you the memory shots that you want from a trip, and the picture pass can give you some DSLR shots for the most scenic photo ops with the family. Investing in great memories with your family is going to pay better dividends in the end too!  As such, to me Disney is about fun with loved ones, not photography.

If you don’t have a family yet or have tons of money to burn, then make a special trip to Disney as a photography destination and enjoy everything but the rides during the peak lighting conditions. Stay at the Disney owned hotel closest to the park and dump your gear off mid-day to enjoy the park or rest, and save your shooting times when the odds are in your favor. There’s lots of fun things to shoot and you’ll have a lot more fun when your family isn’t yelling at you stop taking photos and saying c’mon!

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