Friday, January 29, 2010

Canon announces 50th Millionth EF lens

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Canon announces the production of its 50 millionth EF lens for its EOS range of cameras. It is indeed incredible news given that Canon had only announced the milestone of 40 millionth EF lens just two years ago in 2008!

“Today’s announcement shows an immense achievement in our ability to grow and adapt to reach this impressive target in such a short space of time,” said Kazuyuki Suzuki, General Manager,Lens Products Marketing Management Div. Canon inc. “We are proud to support so many photographers of all abilities through our extensive range of DSLRs, including the recently launched 7D designed to create a whole new photographic experience.”

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

We're photographers, not terrorists!

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Be careful now... the police might not be able to distinguish between a telephoto lens and a rocket launcher...

In a unusual display of unhappiness, photographers in the United Kingdom have gathered in London's Trafalgar Square to protest against the police's treatment of photographers in the country. Under Britain's Terrorism Act 2000, the police were endowed with greater powers to step up their efforts against terrorism, and this included the capacity to search anyone they deem suspicious, regardless of whether they had reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing.

Numerous working photographers, amateurs and even tourists have been stopped and searched by the police, on the suspicion that they might be conducting "hostile reconnaissance", and the tension between photographers and police increased over the past few years. The photographers alleged that their civil liberties were being violated for the most innocent act of photographing famous buildings or indulging in basic street photography, all from public areas and street where photography is permitted.

"We are photographers, not terrorists" became the slogan for a group of disgrunted photographer's campaign against the terrorist act's power to "stop-and-search". It is really unfortunate that the police chose to equate terrorism with photography, simply because it is a high-profile and easily spotted activity that a terrorist might use to gather information. One might even postulate that the police might be targeting photographers as an act of publicity to show how serious they are in protecting the homeland.  The sad fact is that the police are even harassing photographers taking photos of well-known and well-documented buildings, which terrorists can easily download readily-available photos.

Read more about the protest here:

http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/europe/01/23/photography.protest/index.html?hpt=Sbin

http://photographernotaterrorist.org/2009/12/mass-photo-gathering/

Monday, January 18, 2010

All-terrain light stand

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Light stands are great – in the studio. In the outdoor conditions, they struggle to cope with uneven grounds. Strobe-enthusiast Reuben Krabbe found a neat way to modify a standard light-stand to work on uneven grounds such as slopes or stairs.

The modification is simple – Reuben removes the rivet from one of the legs with a drill, creates a series of holes in that leg and installs a clip to hold the leg into the new hole position. The end result (after 5 minutes of work) is a light stand with a leg that moves independently to adapt to any ground terrain!


Amazing French landscapes

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I came across this series of astounding landscapes by Italian photographer Juza Ea, and I knew that I must show it to you readers. The images are breathtaking and very inspirational. Although this is a gallery and there are no details on the techniques, Juza’s website has some interest articles and reviews for you to read up on.

Check out Juza’s landscape of France at Juza's website!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

How many lights were used in this photo?

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I’m sure many of us envy the photographer with a ton of gear (and many assistants) at his disposal. But more important than equipment is a sense of imagination. Being imaginative lets us think creatively to achieve great images with what we have, instead of being restricted by our gear.

The photographer Zack Arias was tasked with taking a photo of a group of photographers, and as luck would have it the group included famous strobists such as Joe McNally, David Hobby (Strobist blog) and Chase Jarvis. I think most of us would dig a hole and dive in when given a task to shoot a group who are THE experts in on-site location lighting and photography.

Read on to see how Zack created this stunning shot with a little gear and a lot of imagination. (Editor’s note: see how the shot works because there’s an individual standing in the back with a wooden background. The photo wouldn’t have worked half as well if the person wasn’t there to balance the composition.)

Check out how Zack Arias did it at http://www.zarias.com/?p=340

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Confessions of a photographer

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Check out this hilarious clip by photographer Joe McNally as he confesses to "Father Bob Krist" about the "sins" he committed in 2009! I'm equally guilty as Joe McNally when it comes to some of the "sins"... time to repent in 2010!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Plan your studio set-up on your iPhone

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Janis Lanka and Isa Goksu have released Strobox, a (free) app for the iPhone. You can create lighting diagrams directly on your precious (iPhone, that is). There are more than 25 lighting equipment including backdrops, strobes, softboxes, umbrellas, hairlights and diffusion panels. You can simply drag, position and rotate the equipment to tweak your set-up. The software even generates PNG files that you can share via email.

My main gripe is that the canvas size is too small for more lights for a more complex set-up, limited layout space doesn’t allow you to place more subjects (two is getting crowded). And those whom I showed Strobox to wondered if the app can show the effect of the lighting once the equipment is “finalized”. C’mon guys… it’s a free app! We can expect that in the paid version perhaps?

http://itunes.apple.com/app/strobox/id339112815

Sunday, January 10, 2010

How to fold a large reflector

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Just about two weeks ago, I bought a huge reflector that measured 2m by 1.5m. I have no problems folding standard sized reflectors, but this is so large that I couldn’t fold it back into the case! I wasn’t amused when I failed to fold to back after struggling for 20 minutes in the car park (the onlookers were having a nice time seeing a grown man fighting with a panel of fabric), before I gave up and stuffed the half-folded reflector into my car.

Once I reached home, I searched for “how to fold a giant reflector” in YouTube. Within minutes, I had the answer and folded the reflector back into the case (it's easy when you know the right technique). Brilliant! So here’re a couple of the videos that I want to share with you readers…




Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Sony launches an entry-level DSLR - again!

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Sony announces the launch of yet another entry-level DSLR, bringing the total of sub-USD1k models to six! While I'm not sure that's such a groovy idea, Sony seems to think that the Alpha A450 is filling the gap nicely with its 14MP sensor. The new camera loses the rotating LCD panel of the A550, but features  a longer battery life thanks to the use of a larger battery. According to Sony, the A450 can deliver more than 1000 shots on a single-charge, which is really amazing!

Based on the press images, the Sony A450 does look attractive with its curves and textured rubberized grip. I've never been a fan of Sony's grip ergonomics (they seem to be built for really small hands). Let's see how the A450 does in the crowded entry-level DSLR segment!

The Empire Strikes Back!

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Empire magazine has commissioned the shoot of various Hollywood A-listers to be photographed in their studio against a plain background, representing their most iconic character in a movie. I can’t in good conscience say that they’re the best photos, but its sure fun to see some of the stars playing the characters out of a set!

What is your favourite?

http://www.empireonline.com/gallery/gallery.asp?GID=2353

Canon launches EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM Mk II

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Canon has announced the launch of the 2nd generation of the professional workhorse lens. The Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM Mk II improves on the predecessor’s performance with a revised optical formula featuring a fluorite element and 5 UD elements. The minimum focusing distance has also been reduced to a class-leading 1.2m to allow for tighter close-ups, and the Image Stabilization (IS) has been improved to 4 stops (instead of the predecessor’s 3 stops). Other minor improvements include a wider focusing ring and dust/splash proof construction.

The inclusion of the fluorite element is an important aspect of the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM Mk II, as the IS version of the 70-200mm f/4 IS is noticeably sharper than the non-IS version by incorporating a fluorite element. We can only wait for test images to come in at this moment. Meanwhile, legions of fans may be disappointed to learn that the new lens is not lighter than its predecessor – at 1.49 kg. Ouch!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Samsung gets serious with their latest DSL

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Nope. I didn’t make a typo error with the headline. Samsung has just announced their latest camera – a digital single-lens (non-reflex) camera. That’s right – the new Samsung NX10 does away with a reflex mirror design, opting for a mirrorless construction much like the micro four-thirds system. But unlike the latter, the 14MP Samsung NX10 has a APS-C sensor like other regular DSLRS, which is 1.5 times larger than the micro four-third system sensor.


This makes things very interesting, because now you have a compact form factor camera which is less vibration prone (due to the lack of a reflex mirror), and yet retain the advantage of a traditional DSLR’s sensor size. This will definitely be interesting for travel photographers, or even street photographers. In fact, this is like a Leica M8 camera, except that it’ll cost much less!

But unlike a Leica M8, the lenses are almost the same size as the traditional DSLR. The Samsung has an impressive 3” OLED LCD display, as well as a VGA viewfinder instead of a true optical viewfinder (which traditionalist will need time to get used to). The Samsung NX10 has three lenses and a flash for users to select from:
  • SAMSUNG 30mm F2

  • SAMSUNG 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 OIS (image-stabilizer)

  • SAMSUNG 50-200mm F4-5.6 ED OIS (image-stabilizer)

Samsung definitely has a uphill battle trying to enter the lucrative camera market. Without handling the NX10, it’s difficult to gauge how good the Samsung is. But on paper, Samsung has its hands full dealing with issues like building a camera system. Unlike Canon or Nikon (or even Olympus or Panasonic), the Samsung NX-series does not have any imaging pedigree or a comprehensive system. It starts with three lenses and a flash, which is reasonable. But consumers may doubt the future of the Samsung system unless it introduces a more comprehensive system map within the year or so. Nobody wants to end up with an obsolete system (or look like a fool backing the wrong horse) when it’s something pricey like a digital camera.

Another concern would be the autofocus speed. Unlike DSLRs, cameras without a reflex mirror (such as micro four-third systems and the Samsung NX10) can only use contrast detection, which traditionally cannot match the speed of phase detection autofocus of DSLRs. A slow autofocus would certainly leave a lot of prospective customers in the cold, especially if you are used to the fast AF in today’s crop of DSLRs.

A key consideration would be sensor quality. Building handphone camera sensors is one thing, but building bona-fide APS-C camera sensors are another thing altogether. Given that Samsung cobbled up the NX10 all by themselves, we’d probably need time to review the quality of the sensor and image processor. Without imaging pedigree and experience, Samsung has to play catch-up fast with the leaders.

Battery life is another issue as well, since the Samsung NX10 uses the LCD instead of optical viewfinder. The battery is rated at 1300 mAH, so the OLED had better be really skimpy on juice or users would have to stock up on batteries.

I think Samsung finally figured that in order to break into a tight market as a newcomer, it needs to rewrite the rules. Let the revolution begin!

Canon PowerShot S90 review

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In the last quarter of 2009, Canon launched a new compact camera targeted at the serious photography enthusiast – the Canon Powershot S90. The sleek and compact camera was an ambitious project designed to capture market share away from the likes of Panasonic’s immensely successful LX-series.

While both Canon’s S90 and G11 are targeted at the same serious enthusiast segment, it is clear looking at the design and configuration that both 10MP cameras serve very different purposes. The Powershot G11’s bulky body houses a significantly larger and brighter lens, as well as a hotshoe for external flash control and a rotating LCD. The Canon Powershot S90 on the other hand seems to be focused on streamlining the best features of the high-end Powershot into a sleek body. So what gives? Let’s find out!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Canon and Nikon = Romeo and Juliet?

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Oh boy... this is good... someone just made a video about the "Romeo and Juliet" story of a pair star-crossed lovers. Both are photographers, but he is a Canon guy and she's a Nikon gal! Don't take it seriously, but its quite a laugh hearing the "hatred" and "differences" of both camps. Every brand fanatic should watch this and have a good laugh at themselves!


Space – the final frontier for Nikon

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Normally it wouldn’t be a big deal if a huge camera company like Nikon receives an order for 11 cameras and 7 lenses. In fact, Nikon probably won’t even want to entertain such a miniscule order! Unless of course the customer happens to be American space agency NASA, and the “small order” justifies a press release. Nikon announced recently that NASA has placed an order for 11 sets of Nikon D3S and 7 units of the AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED lens for their space mission. According to the press release, NASA has been using Nikon to capture more than 700,000 pictures in space. To infinity and beyond!


Damn it, Jake! I told you to hold on to it!