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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Photography and the Olympics

by Andy Johnson

Earlier this month around 1400 professional photographers descended on Rio for the 2016 Olympic Games.

Armed with a range of high-performance cameras these pro-level sports shooters witnessed the world’s best athletes competing for gold in Brazil. 

They captured shots of Usain Bolt’s historic 3 gold medals for the third Olympic Games in a row; the treatment of French Pole Vaulter Renaud Lavillenie by local fans; and Australia’s nail biting one point loss to Spain in the basketball.

Figure 1 Usain Bolt competing in the mens 100m at the Rio Olympic Games
Photographer: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Not only did they share those moments with us in the media and on the internet but they did it all within minutes of it happening.

To ensure they are prepared for anything that might happen on and off the track, Olympic Photographers are seasoned professionals with years of experience and the industry's most cutting edge cameras and lenses at their disposal.

Autofocus speed and telephoto lens options are the main qualifiers for the equipment pro sport photographers use and pre-dominantly that translates to them using a range of high-end Nikon and Canon DSLR gear.

Figure 2 Photographers at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games
Photographer: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Both Canon and Nikon set up support facilities at the Olympics, offering professional services like sensor cleaning and camera maintenance. They also offer equipment hire to news professionals and as a result they often take a huge amount of equipment to the games. 

Canon alone stated they sent almost 1600 lenses and 900 DSLR bodies to Rio, with an estimated total value of $7.8 Million dollars. 

If you’ve ever wondered what $7.8 Million of Canon gear might look like? Check out the pictures below, but be prepared they might inspire strong feelings of gear envy.


Figure 3 The Canon Professional Service Back Room at Rio 2016
Photographer: Jeff Cable

On the surface it might look like the world’s worst documented case of GAS, or Gear Acquisition Syndrome, but it is it is in fact the Canon storeroom at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

Jeff Cable, an American Photographer snapped some pictures of Canon’s Professional Services back room while he collected some rental gear. He managed to capture a mouth-watering collection of EOS 7D Mark II, 1DX Mark II, and 5DSR cameras, along with a ridiculous number of Canon telephoto lenses, tele converters and other highly desirable pieces of kit.

Figure 4 High end lenses and camera bodies fill the room
Photographer Jeff Cable

Figure 5 Not only Bodies and Lenses, the back room also stores hundreds of extenders, flashes and other accessories Photographer: Jeff Cable

Nikon was also boasting an impressive stockpile of gear and Belgium photographer Vincent Kalut was lucky/sneaky enough to take some pictures in their Olympic backroom.

Figure 6 Nikon's formidable Olympic gear room
Photographer: Vincent Kalut
Most of the camera bodies were the new Nikon D5 which is one of the first pro level DSLR’s to feature 4K Video recording and also includes lightning fast autofocus with 153 focus points.

Figure 7 Boxes of D5 DSLRs for use at the Olympics
Photographer: Vincent Kalut
Getty Images alone estimate their photographers have captured 1.5 million shots in the 18 days of the games to satisfy the demand for images, that’s almost 84,000 shots a day!

With such a high demand for captivating pictures Getty are focused on getting the best gear possible for their staff photographers and money appears to be no object.

Michal Heiman the Director of Sports events for Getty took a photo of the lenses the company shipped over for their photographers and it was an arsenal of high end glass.


Figure 8 Getty prepares for the Olympics by sending high quality Canon lenses
Photographer: Michal Heiman
As well as the high-end glass Getty also sent over Canon's latest camera bodies to match, mostly favouring the new autofocus king Canon’s 1Dx Mark II but not forgetting to grab a couple of high megapixel monster 5DSR cameras as well.

Figure 9 Getty's full armoury as tweeted by their Director of Sports Events
Photography: Michal Heiman

But don’t let this vulgar display of optical power get under your skin; these guys still have one of the hardest jobs in the industry.

With the incredible technological advancements in recent years, from quicker autofocus tracking to fast drive modes allowing up to 16 frames to be shot captured in a second, you’d be forgiven for thinking the job of professional sports photographers is getting easier.
In actual fact they have never been under more pressure in today’s cut throat world of sports photography.

Modern photographers have to work as fast as some of the athletes in getting their shots out in the media earlier than everyone else and the goal posts are constantly being moved as changes in technology make the demand for first-to-market images overwhelming.

Shooting, editing and sending off to the media outlet within 15 minutes is no longer quick enough. 

Getty claimed to have the ability to send images from camera to their media customers in as little as 59 seconds.


Figure 10 Getty photo editors prepare images for publication onsite
Photographer: Michal Heiman/Getty Images

Rio set the bar for sport shooters by using hard wired connections in the stadiums that allow pro sports shooters to be tethered onto a direct network, so as soon as the shutter slams down the image is already being copied to a network drive.

Photographers don’t even have the luxury of editing their own images anymore; the competitive nature of the industry has created an entirely whole new role of onsite photo editors who can start editing the shots as soon as they upload from the camera to the network drive.

Getty Images installed 100km of fibre optic cable to ensure that the cameras are copied over directly from the photographer’s cameras as soon as possible. Associated Press have 56km of cables connecting their photographers to their team of editors.

So what does the future hold for professional sports photogs?

Figure 11 A robotically controlled camera
More and more we’re seeing robots being used by photographers to capture scenes underwater and unique perspective overhead stadium shots. Remote robots allow photographers more control than traditional setups which only allows photographers to trigger the shutter, whereas the new system allows them to zoom in and out pan, tilt, and even follow subjects for video.

Figure 12 A remote robot camera captures Germany's Jurgen Spies during the 2016 Rio Olympic Games
Photographer: Pool/Getty Images

The media giant Reuters entered a partnership with Samsung to use video and photography technology not available to the public yet at the 2016 Games so that their photographers can capture VR and 360° footage of the games and other media agencies have followed suit as this new medium develops.

Whatever the future holds one thing is for sure and that is that we are going to see more and more high quality shots of the games and that means that in the coming years we may enjoy an even closer than front row experience  to many of the events.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Filters - Getting Creative with your Filter Options

Filters - Traditional vs Digital

Since the advent of digital photography the use of many effects filters has been largely made redundant.  This is because almost all of the effects achieved by traditional filters can be recreated through image editing software which can apply unlimited types of filters onto the same image.  

However, there are some filters which cannot be easily recreated digitally and these continue to be used on interchange lens cameras (DSLR & mirrorless) today.  Below we have listed these filters along with a description on when you would use them in your photography.

Circular Polarising Filters

The circular polariser is a very useful filter.  It can be effective in both colour and black + white photography; particularly with landscapes, seascapes and architecture type shots.  Its trick is reducing reflections off all non-metallic surfaces, including the atmosphere.  Landscape photographers use it for making a blue sky appear a deeper shade of blue.  Other uses include making foliage look greener by cutting back the glare coming off the leaves and also removing reflections off water so you can see into the depths.  This allows you to see fish in a pond that may have been lost due to reflections from the water’s surface.  

This filter will also allow you to see more clearly through glass windows by cutting out the reflections.  Some windows that have a polarising film on them, for example some aircraft windows, will cause you to see a crazy rainbow across the frame, this is called 'cross polarisation’. It happens when you have two polarising filters in front of your lens.  The effect that this filter will have will vary according to the angle that the light is bouncing off the subject in relation to your position. 

Without Filter
With Circular Polariser Filter

Neutral Density Filters

A neutral density (ND) filter works by reducing the amount of light that enters your camera by a neutral (no colour cast) filter that absorbs a varying amount of light depending on how dark the filter is.  These come in several shades such as ND2 (1 stop less light), ND4 (2 stops less), ND8 (3 stops less) and even ND400 (a whopping 9 stops).  You can also get variable ND filters that cover the whole range mentioned above in one filter.

Landscape photographers love this filter.  This one comes in handy when you need to extend either the length of your shutter speed, for example when you want waves in the foreground of a seascape to look all smooth and silky, or want to get a very shallow depth of field by using a large aperture in ultra-bright conditions.

The different darkness ratings are used to fine tune the effect and the filters can even be 'stacked' together to fine tune the effect.  Videographers use this filter to adjust the exposure to get the correct shutter speed resulting in smoother looking videos.

ND filters require a tripod and remote release to be used especially if you are required to complete very long exposure times. A tripod and remote release will reduce the chance of camera shake and movement to achieve the sharpest possible image.

Without Filter

With Neutral Density Filter - ND 2

With Neutral Density Filter - ND 8

Neutral Density Graduated Filters

Neutral density graduated filters (ND grads) are used to reduce the brightness over a section of your frame to even out the exposure values across the photograph.  If you have a very large difference between the brightest part of the frame and the darkest part you will end up with either blown out highlights or blocked out shadows. This leads to no information in the highlighted area so you end up with a white haze or no information in the shadows, just a black block.

For example, if we are taking a photo of a sunset and we want to have detail in the foreground so we can see the trees etc. and we also want detail in the sky so we can see all those clouds and colours.  We compose the photo so that the sky takes up the top two thirds of the frame and the ground takes up the bottom third.  We take a reading from the camera which exposes the sky perfectly but the foreground is silhouetted and we can see no details in it.  We adjust the exposure to gain detail in the foreground but when we take another photo we find the sky has blown out and there is no longer any details in the clouds.  

Even shooting in RAW and adjusting later does not always get detail back into these areas, so what is the solution? The ND grad.  If we put an ND grad on the lens and adjust it so that the dark part covers the sky and the light part covers the ground then take another photo then we can see that the dark part of the filter has reduced the brightness in the sky and the clear part has not changed the brightness level in the foreground.  The filter has compressed the contrast in the image, i.e. the difference between the brightest part (the sky) and the darkest part (the foreground) is now able to be captured in one single image and still retain detail in both the sky and the foreground.

Infrared Filters

Infrared filters are a special effect filter that blocks out most of the visible spectrum of light but will let part of the infrared spectrum through.  

These filters can be very handy to carry around with you in your kit bag.  You may not use them all the time but when you need them they are indispensable.  If you have a few different lens filter sizes then maybe consider something like the Cokin filter system.  This way you can buy one filter that can fit on several lenses simply by purchasing an adapter for each lens, rather than a filter for every lens, it's much cheaper and just as good.

Without Filter

With an Infrared Filter

Consider your Next Filter Purchase

The four filter types above offer something that can't be easily achieved in Photoshop.  They can make it possible to do things in camera quicker and easier than digitally manipulating the image later. There are many brands of filters that set out to help you achieve the same if not similar outcomes including Hoya, Manfrotto, Cokin, Kenko and Inca.


Are there any other filters that you can think of that can't be recreated digitally? 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Macro Photography - An Introduction to Focus Stacking

An Introduction to Focus Stacking
Macro photography is a great field to have fun and experiment with.  It allows you to slow down the capture process and fine tune your settings to realise your creative vision.  One aspect of macro photography you may wish you had more control over is depth of field.  When we think of depth of field it's usually associated with a portrait where we might want a very narrow focus to separate our subject, or in the case of a landscape it could be everything in focus.  Despite the tiny size of the subject, macro photography can often result in extremely shallow depth of field which may look creative but doesn't reveal all the intricate details throughout the image as below.



Stopping the aperture way down on a macro lens isn't always a solution to this problem.  Most lenses will show their peak sharpness at around f/8, using a smaller aperture will increase your depth of field but may also begin to soften your image due to an effect called diffraction.  In a basic sense, diffraction is the scattering of light as it is forced to pass through a small opening.  This light now reaches your camera sensor in not quite the right spot and as a result the image looks slightly out of focus.  Selecting an aperture of f/32 for example may get your entire macro subject "in focus" but will almost certainly lack the biting sharpness desired.



So what if there was a way to combine the sharpest aperture of our macro lens and achieve a depth of focus throughout the image?  Thankfully there is, it's called Focus Stacking and it's easier than you might think.  To get started with focus stacking you'll need a couple of things:
  • Your camera, macro lens, a suitably small and stationary subject
  • A sturdy tripod and cable release trigger is very helpful
  • Fixed position lighting: can be either natural or artificial
  • Manual focus and manual exposure settings (or your images won't match!)
  • Software for stacking such as Photoshop/Photoshop Elements or Helicon Focus

The setup is just like any other macro photo but instead of taking just one image we'll be taking several and shifting our focus point between each image.  How many photos you require to complete the stack will depend on the size of the subject and a bit of trial and error.  Aim for around 8-12 images to begin with.  If your camera has a "Live View" function and/or Depth of Field preview this will greatly help you visualise how the plane of focus moves through your image.  Below is a series of images I took at f/8 in preparation for stacking.



Open your stack in Photoshop making each image its own layer.  If you imported your images into Lightroom first you can select the set there, right click and choose "Edit In -> Open as layers in Photoshop".  With your images neatly arranged as layers, select all the layers and choose "Edit -> Auto-Align Layers".  We're aligning the layers because most lenses actually change their view slightly when shifting focus, this is called Focus Breathing.  In regular photography it's barely noticeable and has no impact on a single image, however a macro stack with multiple images of varying focus can show a lot of breathing.  After the alignment is completed you can crop away the outer edges.





We're almost done!  Select "Edit -> Auto-Blend Layers" and check the seamless blend box.  It may take up to a few minutes for Photoshop to process the stack but when it's done you should have an image with focus throughout.  Merge the layers together to preserve the blend and finally save your file.


Final image of the fork using the focus stacking technique


Final image of the flower using the focus stacking technique


Picture of a leaf using the focus stacking technique


This blog has been prepared by Ryan from our Brisbane store. Ryan is a wealth of technical and practical photographic knowledge. He is always willing to share his know how at a level everyone will understand. The next time you are in our Brisbane store say hi.

***

Macro Month
February is Macro Month at Digital Camera Warehouse. If you want more information regarding macro photography techniques and you live near one of our stores, we are running a number of macro photography photo walks at some locations. We will also have a macro photography setup in each store so that you can get hands on and learn more about the gear you might require. Finally make sure to check out some of the macro shots taken by some of our staff on Instagram during the month of February.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

NEW Fujifilm X-Pro2, X-E2s, X-70 & more

Fujifilm - New Product Announcements in summary

Fujifilm announced to the world six new products releases on Friday 15 January in Tokyo Japan. Here is a quick overview of the newly announced products that will be hitting stores in the coming weeks and months.

Fujifilm X-Pro2 – New flagship model taking photography to the next level

One of the most significant announcements was the launch of the flagship X-Pro2 premium interchangeable lens camera due in February 2016. The X-Pro2 boasts an improved design and follows in the steps of its multi-award winning predecessor the Fujifilm X-Pro1.


Key Features:

  • World’s first advanced hybrid Multiview finder
  • Newly developed 24.3MP X-trans CMOS II sensor
  • New high performance X Processor Pro image processing engine
  • New focal plane shutter with a top speed of 1/8000 second
  • Flash sync up to 1/250 second
  • Robust weather resistant body
  • 3.2-inch high resolution LCD screen
  • Dual SD Card Slot
  • Built-in Wi-Fi Connectivity

More Product Info:

For more information on all the features and specs of the NEW X-Pro2 can be found HERE.

Give me more:

Check out the NEW X-Pro2 in action >

Availability:

The NEW X-Pro2 is expected to arrive in-store during the second half of February.

Pre-order:

We are now accepting pre-orders for the X-Pro2. Click HERE


Fujifilm XE-2s – Rangefinder-style design

The X-E2s is a compact, durable and lightweight mirrorless camera that inherits its functionality and rangefinder-style design from the original and current X-E2.



Key Features:

  • APS-C X-Trans CMOS II Sensor
  • Built in phase detection AF
  • EXR Processor II Image Processor
  • 2.36 million-dot OLED Viewfinder
  • Built in WiFi for Instant Photo Sharing
  • 3.0-inch 1,040K-dot LCD

More Product Info:

Find out a little bit more on the new X-E2s on our website HERE.

Availability:

The NEW X-E2s should be available in-store from March 2016. 

Pre-order:

Please feel free to register your interest in this new product.


Fujinon XF100-400mm Lens – The latest addition to the XF lens line up

Fujifilm announced the release of the new Fujinon XF100-400mm f4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR Lens.

A welcome addition to the X Series range of lenses the new XF100-400mm super telephoto zoom lens covers a 35mm focal length equivalent of 152-609mm.

Key Features:

  • Super telephoto lens
  • High performance optical construction
  • 21 elements in 14 groups
  • Optical Image Stabiliser
  • Water and Dust resistant
  • Operate in low temperatures up to -10 degrees
  • Twin linear autofocus motors
  • Compatible with the XF1.4X TC WR tele converter

More Product Info:

For more information on all the features and specs of the NEW Fujinon XF100-400mm lens can be found HERE.

Availability:

The Fujinon XF100-400 is expected in-store from February 2016.

Pre-order:
Please feel free to register your interest in this new product.


Shoe Mount Flash EF-X500 – External flash to extend your photography

As a new product release it may pale into significance when compared to the release of the X-Pro2 but for many this flash is significant and highly anticipated by owners of the X-T1 and future owners of the X-Pro2.
We will share official images of the new external flash once they become available. 

Key Features:

  • High speed synchronisation
  • Multiple flash TTL auto functions
  • Weather and dust resistant
  • Compatible with Fujifilm X-T1 and X-Pro2

Availability:

The new Shoe Mount Flash EF-X500 is expected to be available in-store from May 2016.

Pre-order:

Pre-order on this flash will be available in the coming weeks.


Fujifilm X70 – The smallest and lightest X-Series model with an APS-C size sensor

Fujifilm announced their smallest and lightest fixed lens X-Series model with an APS-C size sensor.



Key Features:

  • The Ultimate APS-C sized sensor compact X
  • New 18.5mm wide angle lens
  • X-Trans™* CMOS II & EXR Processor II
  • Manual Dial Operation
  • Auto Mode Selector Lever
  • Fastest AF 0.1 sec
  • New Tilting LCD & Touchscreen Monitor
  • New Digital Tele-Converter

More Product Info:

For more information on the X-70 click through to HERE.

Availability:

The New Fujifilm X-70 is expected in-store for February 2016.

Pre-order:

Please feel free to register your interest in this new product.


Fujifilm XP90 – The latest rugged lightweight compact from Fujifilm

Fujifilm have announced the latest model to be added to their rugged compact range.


Key Features:

  • Waterproof to 15 metres
  • Shock-proof to 1.75 metres
  • Freeze-proof to -10 degrees
  • Dustproof
  • Double locking mechanism for battery and memory card compartment
  • 16.4 megapixel BSI CMOS sensor
  • 10 frames per second
  • 5 x optical zoom with a 28mm wide angle
  • Optical Image Stabilisation
  • 11 Advanced Art Filters
  • High Dynamic Range Capture
  • Full HD movie capture

Availability:

The Fujifilm XP90 is expected in-store from March 2016.

Pre-order:

Pre-order on the new Fujifilm XP90 is not available at the moment.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Nikon – New Product Announcements at CES 2016

Nikon Announcements - In Brief

On the eve of CES 2016 in Las Vegas Nikon announced the launch of a number of new products that will soon be available to purchase in-store. We have taken the liberty of putting the key information of these new products together for you to glance over.

Nikon D5 – Nikon's NEW flagship model


Nikon announced the launch of the next-generation flagship model set to expand photographic achievements for professional photographer.

 

Key Features:

  • 20.8 Megapixel Sensor
  • EXPEED 5 Image Processing Engine
  • Impressive ISO 50 – 3328000 Sensitivity
  • 153 AF Focus Points (99 Cross Type, -4 EV Sensitivity)
  • 12FPS with Continuous AF and AE
  • Ultra-High Definition 4K Video
  • 3.2-Inch 2,359k-dot Touch Screen LCD
  • Dual Card Capability (Either XQD or CompactFlash)

More Product Info:

Click here for more D5.

Availability:

Expected in-store from March 2016.

Pre-order:

Yes. We will be accepting pre-orders for our first shipments shortly.


Nikon KeyMission 360 – Nikon's NEW wearable action camera

Building on technical know-how Nikon announced the launch of a wearable action camera capable of recording 360 video in 4k UHD. This is the first product to be introduced n Nikon’s new action camera category.




Key Features:

  • Waterproof up to 30 metre without separate housing
  • Electronic Vibration reduction mechanism

Give me more:

Availability:

Expected in-store from April 2016.

Pre-order:

Yes. We will be accepting pre-orders shortly.


Nikon D500 – Nikon’s NEWEST compact DSLR model


Nikon’s announced the launch of its NEWEST compact DX-format digital SLR model which boasts performance equal to that of the NEW Nikon D5.


Key Features

  • 153 AF Focus Points (99 Cross Type, -4 EV Sensitivity)
  • 10FPS during high-speed continuous shooting
  • ISO Sensitivity range of 50 - 1640000
  • 4K UHD video, suitable for professional production
  • New Expeed 5 image procession
  • 3.2 Inch 2,359k-dot Touch Screen LCD

More Product Info:

Coming Soon.

Availability:

Expected in-store from March 2016.

Pre-order:

We will be shortly accepting pre-orders for this model.


Nikon Speedlight SB-5000 – Control and Agility in a compact form 

Nikon announces its first speedlight to be equipped with a radio control function.



Key Features:

  • Radio-controlled advanced wireless lighting functionality
  • New  cooling system for continuous flashes
  • Up and down tilt as well as left and right rotational capability

More Product Info:

Coming Soon.

Availability:

Expected in-store from late January 2016.

Pre-order:

Not available.


Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR & AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G


Nikon launches first AF-P lenses from Nikkor with compact and lightweight design to give you captivating performance in daily photography.


Key Features:

  • Quiet autofocusing
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Utilisation of aspherical lens elements to suppress various types of aberrations 

More Product Info:

Coming Soon.

Availability:

Expected in-store from late January.

Pre-order:

Not available.

SnapBridge – Nikon unveils a new App to enable seamless social sharing


Nikon announced the launch of SnapBridge connectivity, which is a new and innovative software powered by Bluetooth that enables seamless sharing in real time across smart devices.

SnapBridge will be a standard feature in almost every new Nikon camera from 2016 onwards.

It will be available for iOS and Android on Apple AppStore and GooglePlay.

Key Features:

  • Simple, intuitive setup to pair with smart devices
  • Automatic synchronisation of location and time information
  • Seamless transfer of pictures, even during shooting
  • Helpful embedding of credit information
  • Freedom with remote control functions during shooting
  • Seamless sharing to social media and NIKON IMAGE SPACE

Availability:


Available for free download from March 2016.