|Volume 14, Number 24||30 November 2012|
Welcome to the 346th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We test a remote release with brains before Dan leaves the country with a Sony megazoom. Then we dive into an excellent new treatise on lenses. Enjoy!
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(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/triggertrap/index.htm on the Web site.)
There's a moment in the Matt Morris film American Tintype (http://vimeo.com/53077087) in which photographer Harry Taylor removes the cap from the lens of his old folding camera to make an exposure. There's a lot going on in that scene but that one motion is exactly what a shutter release was designed to automate.
And automating that was no simple bit of engineering, requiring a cocking mechanism, a button and a shutter, too. Which lead to the invention of the cable release to isolate the pressure required to press the button from the camera itself.
Which brings us to today's innovation in remote releases.
Triggertrap Mobile (http://www.triggertrap.com) is an iOS and Android app that runs on your smartphone or tablet to provide an exciting set of options for capturing an image without pressing your camera's shutter button. Some of them don't even require you to press any button at all.
We'll get to those in a moment. A few of them are only possible with special chips on the handheld devices so we want to discuss them at length.
But there's another aspect to this tool that we should mention right off the bat. While it works with the camera built into your smartphone or tablet, it can also trigger your real camera. You just need a two-piece cable that attaches to the camera's remote port on one end and your device's audio out port on the other.
Hold on, though, there's one more little trick to this. Install Triggertrap on a second iOS or Android device and you can shoot wirelessly, with the second device triggering the camera-connected device over a WiFi network (or even directly in some cases).
Some terminology before we go any further. To simplify things, we're going to refer to smartphones and tablets as devices from here on out. When we say "device," just think Android or iOS phone or tablet.
We're also going to refer to the two-part cable as a dongle when we mean the part that connects to the camera and as a cable when we mean the part that connects to your device.
Finally, even though we call it Triggertrap, it's full name is Triggertrap Mobile.
WHO ARE THESE GUYS
Triggertrap began life in 2011 as a Kickstarter project.
The project hoped to raise $25,000 for Triggertrap v1, which was a universal laser remote shutter release with some unique modes. Interest was so strong, the company raised over 300 percent of the target amount from nearly 900 backers.
While working on Triggertrap v1, the company also developed Triggertrap Mobile, which launched in May.
CEO Haje Jan Kamps is Triggertrap's inventor. Tinkering with a laser trigger for his own camera gave him the idea. He's written several books on photography and has an extensive list of credits as a technical editor, project manager and photographer. In addition, he blogs at Photocritic.org and runs the Photocritic Photography School.
CTO Matt Kane is a Web and mobile app developer from Bristol, England. His first photography software was CleVR, which launched in 2001. Matt and Haje used to be housemates and have been saying they should work together for the best part of a decade, but Triggertrap is their first proper joint project.
They're joined by Lucy Parakhina, Michael Grant, Noah Shibley, Ziah Fogel and a number of freelancers who make up the Triggertrap team.
COST & CONFIGURATIONS
There's a free version of the app but the $4.99 premium version is free during the holidays, which makes this review rather urgent.
The dongle (https://triggertrap.com/products/dongle/) with a cable kit for your camera is $29.99. You can also buy the dongle separately from the cable, if you have more than one camera type you want to use. Cables are available for Canon, Leica, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic and Sony cameras, over 300 of them, the company said.
The dongle itself, which mates to your camera, is $9.99. The cable (which connects to your device and the dongle) is $19.99.
There's even a $19.99 twin head flash adapter so you can use Triggertrap with flashes instead of cameras.
Compare that to Nikon's MC-DC1 remote release at $32.50. Canon's RS-60E3 remote switch is $19.95 and its RS-80N3 is $44.95 (for its higher end dSLRs). The Nikon and Canon options provide just a shutter button on a cable instead of Triggertrap's extensive options.
HOW IT WORKS
The app provides a number of ways to trigger the shutter on the camera ranging from a simple virtual button (which emulates a cable release) to tricks like facial recognition (the shutter will fire when a face is recognized by the device's built-in camera) to releases that are triggered by distance covered rather than time elapsed.
These triggers all depend on the device's capabilities (GPS for distance triggers, for example). So a smartphone may have more than a tablet. And a few of them depend on the camera's shutter control (like Bulb mode).
Once the app knows the trigger should fire, it either triggers the built-in camera or sends a high-pitched audio signal to the dongle, which itself is plugged into the audio out jack of the device. That signal is converted into an electrical impulse by the time it gets to the camera, triggering the shutter via the camera's electrical contact (so the camera has to have an electronic remote release connection).
You can extend the distance between the camera and the triggering device two ways. One is with an extension cable, although matching the 3/16ths miniplug is not for the faint of heart. But the triggering signal itself can be transmitted from one copy of Triggertrap to another over a WiFi or Bluetooth connection, too.
The app provides up to 17 different triggering modes, depending on the capabilities of your device (14 on iOS and 10 on Android).
Everything is started by pressing the virtual shutter button on the device's screen. We didn't see a delay timer to, say, start shooting in a half hour.
- Cable Release Mode. Pretty basic concept. Press the on-screen shutter button to fire the shutter. But there are four modes. Program mode does just what we've described. Bulb mode will keep the shutter open as long as you hold down the on-screen shutter button. Time mode will open the shutter when you first press the on-screen shutter button and close it when you press it again. Manual mode lets you set the length of your exposure with a slider.
- Sound Sensor (Bang) Mode. Make a sound, capture a shot. You set the decibels required to trip the shutter. Here's where we had to fool around with the trigger delay so we didn't take more than one shot. But it was also fun to change the dBs, triggering the shutter with a shout or a whisper. A red needle shows you the tripping point and a black needle responds to ambient noise.
- Timelapse Mode. Take a series of images at fixed intervals. You set the number of photos and the duration of the series (like 10 photos in 10 minutes) and the screen reports how often the shutter will trip (a photo every minute). Don't miss the little button on the right of the duration slider because it tells you when the sun rises or sets where you are.
- TimeWarp Mode. If you want to vary the interval between shots, use this timelapse mode. You can ease in, ease out or do both. A curve plots the intervals on screen so you can get a sense of how the capture will go. You can adjust how aggressive the acceleration is.
- DistanceLapse Mode. If you want an interval that depends on distance traveled rather than time, this mode will read your GPS position to trip the shutter. Your device has to have a GPS chip for this to work, of course.
- Shock & Vibration Sensor (Seismic) Mode. If your device has an accelerometer built into it, this mode will trigger the shutter when the device moves. Put your device on a table, for example, and bump the table to trigger the shutter. You can set the sensitivity.
- Facial Recognition (Peekaboo) Mode. In this mode, you point the device at the area you want to look for faces. You also set the number of faces required to trip the shutter. When that many faces appear in front of the device, the shutter will trip. So if you use the device's main camera surveying on the scene, it works like facial recognition in a point-and-shoot. And if you use the backward-facing camera trained on the photographer, the photographer can trigger the exposure by moving into view.
- Star Trail Mode. Set your camera on Bulb mode then set how many exposures to take for how long and with how long a gap between each shot. Instead of taking a one-hour exposure of star trails, you can take shorter exposures instead.
- LE HDR Mode. The LE stands for Long Exposure, the HDR for High Dynamic Range. You set the camera to Bulb mode and Aperture Priority, picking the aperture you want. The app will control the shutter speed to vary the exposure by the EV setting you select (1/3, 1/2, 1 or 2 EV). You also set the ideal exposure as the middle exposure and the number of exposures per set.
- LE HDR Timelapse Mode. Same as above but as a timelapse, adding the interval between sets.
- Metal & Magnetism Sensor (Tesla) Mode. If your device has a magnetic sensor, this mode will trip the shutter when it senses a change in magnetism. Two red needles indicate the hot zone and a black one the current magnetism.
- Motion Detection Mode. The shutter will fire if anything in the scene moves. You sample the background as a base image and then set a slider to to indicate how much of a change will trigger the signal.
- Bulb Ramping (Bramping) Timelapse Mode. This mode avoids the vagaries of auto exposure by setting a starting exposure and an ending exposure and gradually changing exposure through the range. You set the number of photos to take and the duration of the sequence, just as you would for any timelapse series. Then you set the duration of the first exposure and the length of the last one.
- Wi-Fi Slave Mode. Look for a signal from another device running Triggertap and pass it along to the dongle.
- Wi-Fi Master Mode. Trigger other devices running Triggertrap Mobile. Send a signal over WiFi even though no camera is connected.
- Sunset & Sunrise Calculator. See Timelapse mode above.
- Lag-o-Meter. Measure the lag between the time the signal is sent by Triggertrap and when the capture occurs. It's useful for adding a delay to the Shutter Lag slider.
An iPhone app originally, the screen display is small on an iPad (but can be enlarged).
Generally, we liked the interface and found it easy to get help, which is extensive. Sliders were useful for rough setups but the finer controls, indicated by a down arrow, were always available for a more precise setting.
One thing that always confuses us is the On/Off symbols of a bar and a circle. Triggertrap makes them even more confusing by coloring On red instead of green and leaving Off gray. But now you know.
We know, they're really a one and a zero, but they look so Helvetica we think of them as "I" and "O."
If you want to use Triggertrap with a camera other than the one built into your device, you'll need the dongle and cable kit for your camera. You can get one (https://triggertrap.com/products/dongle/) via Triggertrap itself or from the company Web site.
Triggertrap sent us an MD-DCO, which includes both the dongle and the cable.
This particular dongle identifies itself as "Suitable for Nikon" with a circular 10-pin connector. Those models include the D100, D1H, D2, D200, D2H, D2HS, D2X, D2XS, D3, D300, D300S, D3X, D3s, D700, D800 and D800E. With its telephone-curl cable it stretches to about a foot and is very well made.
The cable, on the other hand is about nine inches long with a homemade look to it. Perfectly serviceable, though.
The problem with the hardware is the short distance the two pieces stretch. This isn't a big deal if you're connecting to a smartphone with some sort of mounting device so you can clamp the phone to your tripod. But it gets inconvenient fast with a tablet.
Our attempt to extend the length with an extension cord between the two pieces failed at the local Radio Shack where we would have had to buy not just an extension cable but adapters as well. You can find it online (http://www.amazon.com/Cables-Go-40408-Female-Extension/dp/B0012MMW7E/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354046748&sr=8-1&keywords=audio+extension/?tag=theimagingres-20), but it's a shame the cable isn't a little longer.
There isn't a lot of setup required to use the app, but a little goes a long way.
The first thing to do is pick a camera preset from the pop-up list. We found one for our camera which needed only a little tweaking, depending on what we were doing. There are also universal presets if a specific one for your camera isn't available. The company recommends Universal Slow Autofocus as "the most bullet-proof triggering mode."
The company also recommends using manual focus rather than autofocus. This may seem to be pretty contrary advice, but it's actually genius. Your camera is unattended so it's likely (unless you're tracking a moving subject) that focus won't change from one image to the next. So just set it manually and skip the focus lag.
But you can use autofocus and there are autofocus presets available to help. The manual (https://triggertrap.com/documentation/triggertrap-mobile-manual/) has a section discussing it as well. In fact, the manual has some very nice decision trees to help figure things out, too.
You also have to make sure the Shutter signal (and optionally the Focus signal) is sent to the camera. You do that by enabling their channels in the app by clicking on the icon for each. Some cameras require both to function even if only the Shutter signal is used.
WiFi. If you want to use WiFi triggering, you have to set up the connected device as a slave and the other device as the master. It's easier than it sounds. There is a Slave mode in the TriggerTrap menu. And it will display any Master devices it finds. You just have to click on the name of the Master device in the pop-up menu to enable it.
On the Master device, which you should set up first so Slave mode can see it, you just tap the Outputs settings icon at the top right of most screens and turn on WiFi triggering.
Now you can control the camera over WiFi from the unattached device. We were surprised just how responsive that was, although we have to caution that at least on the device we used as a Master, the shutter isn't activated until you lift your finger off the on-screen shutter.
The WiFi icon will blink as the command is sent, a nice visual confirmation of what's going on.
Delays. One of the refinements you may have to make is delaying the signal so the camera doesn't think you want more captures than you intend.
You can set a delay before capture or one after (which is the most handy). And you can change the length of the pulse sent. There's also a shutter lag slider. So you have a lot of control over timing the signal.
Bluetooth. To communicate to your camera via Bluetooth, you need another piece of equipment. That's an inexpensive (about $10) Bluetooth audio receiver that supports A2DP.
Pair the reciever to your device. Then set the Output Settings output option to the receiver. Finally connect the dongle to the reciever.
Now signals from the device will be sent over Bluetooth to the receiver, which will signal the dongle to trip the shutter.
You do have to set up your camera intelligently. Aim it at something interesting. Focus the lens. Set the exposure.
But then you can walk away and let the app do the work.
Our first setup was pretty simple. We just cabled the tripod-mounted camera to an iPad. And with the right preset enabled, we tried cable release mode. Piece of cake.
A proof of concept. It works. So on to something interesting.
Like macro photography. Getting your hand off the camera is the primary thing but we were also pleased to discover that cable release mode worked just as we expected with Live View. A tap to wake up the LCD and another to fire off the exposure.
We moved on to a timelapse series. Which was easy. We just set the number of shots and the duration for the whole series and pressed the button. The camera fired off shot after shot while the app counted down to the next shot.
We tested the sound-activated option, too, setting the limit at various levels so the shutter was triggered by anything from a shout to a whisper.
Then we tried the face recognition mode. The trick here is to point the device (by picking the right camera) toward the face that matters. That could be yours as the photographer so when you enter the recognition field, the shutter trips. But more likely it's your subject in the scene. You can trigger on up to five faces and you can pick which camera (front or back facing) to use. Really a nice touch, although at a certain point we really wished it had smile recognition with blink protection, too. One becomes spoiled so quickly these days.
Motion detection was one mode we really think we're going to revisit. We have a lot of wildlife in our part of the city. Coyotes, raccoons, possums, gophers, you name it. They have parties at night and don't invite us. We didn't get the iPad set up optimally to capture them (yet) but it's promising. We've just been capturing cars running the stop sign below our dining room window so far. You sample the background and set a percent of change to trigger the shutter. Bang, got 'em. Or they got themselves, technically.
We didn't try everything. Everything wasn't available on the iPad, after all. But just those basic triggering modes were worth the price of admission.
Then we decided to set up the WiFi connection.
We have to admit when we first read about Triggertrap and were evaluating it for review, we were a bit confused about the WiFi capability. We thought -- incorrectly -- that the dongle was a WiFi connection itself. Add the dongle and the camera would be on your network. Well, not quite (at least not yet).
Instead, you need two devices, each of which runs a copy of Triggertrap. That's a good incentive to download it before the end of the year while it's still free. The copy on the device attached to the camera is run in slave mode while the one that stays with you is the master.
On the master, you can do everything you would do normally. The master just sends the signal over your WiFi network instead of through the audio port. So the master is the sensor for motion, face recognition, everything.
And it worked flawlessly. In fact, we were a little curious if there was any kind of shutter delay over the network. We could have used the Lag-o-meter but we wanted a purely subjective sense of it. Frankly, we couldn't detect one. Which, in itself, was pretty cool.
One more observation. We had to entice a second device owner to help us out and they had no trouble at all running Triggertrap. In fact, we had a hard time getting them to stop, it was so much fun. And easy to use. The control screens are very straightforward and if you need an explanation of the trigger, a help screen explains it in plain English. Very nice.
OK, so we wish it had a longer cable and smile recognition. But really, that's all we could come up with to complain about. Mainly it's just fun. Lots of fun. More fun than we've ever had with a shutter.
Sure, our dSLR has interval timing but the setup requires an advanced degree in physics. We look at screen after screen of settings and have no idea how to set what. But with Triggertrap it was obvious.
And another thing. These electronic cameras just won't respond to a plain old mechanical cable release. So we often resort to the self-timer to avoid camera shake on long exposures. Buying an electronic cable release is an option, but an expensive one. Triggertrap is an affordable alternative with a lot more going for it.
So outright prolonged applause. And get yours if only for your device's camera while it's still free.
By DAN HAVLIK(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/sony-hx200v/sony-hx200vA.HTM on the Web site.)
I took the 18.2-megapixel Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX200V on a trip to Berlin, Germany hoping it was enough camera for all my needs. And in many ways, it was. With such a versatile, long zoom and a boatload of features, it's no wonder the HX200V and loaded superzooms like it are so popular with travelers and tourists.
The HX200V has a nice, solid -- but not heavy -- build and is designed very much like a small dSLR. But with a 30x built-in zoom lens equivalent to having a 27-810mm lens, the $480 HX200 is a relatively inexpensive all-in-one camera that's a handy alternative to bigger dSLRs. It also makes it unnecessary to bring along a bevy of interchangeable lenses to achieve a variety of focal lengths.
My trip to Berlin was business-oriented so I was trying to travel as light as possible, figuring I'd be spending a lot of time in meetings. Luckily, we got one day to explore the city as part of a guided tour and the feature-rich HX200V was a great picture-taking companion. There are some trade-offs though, especially for using this camera as a candid street shooter, which is primarily how I like to shoot.
First of all, it's not a particularly fast camera to use. We averaged 2.2 seconds to start up the camera and get to first shot in our lab testing and that time carried over, approximately, to my real world shooting experience. That's not bad when you consider the HX200V has to unfurl its long zoom lens before you can start taking pictures, but it's not fun if you're in a hurry. We measured the HX200V's shutter lag at about half a second when shooting at wide angle and about a tenth of a second faster when shooting at telephoto. Again those aren't necessarily bad speed ratings, but those who have shot with a dSLR or fast pocket camera might find the HX200V a step too slow.
Because most of my time with the HX200V was spent shooting outdoors in decent to bright natural light, I found myself switching between using the camera's crisp three-inch, fold-out LCD screen for composing photos and the small electronic viewfinder, when the sun was too bright to see the rear screen. The second it took for the sensor in the eyecup to detect I had put my eye to it and switch on the EVF was frustrating. The brief blackout caused me to miss a couple of good shots. The low resolution of the EVF produced grainy and coarse previews, making it hard to get a good bead on what I was focusing on.
I found the HX200V to be a slow camera to operate unless you're comfortable with just putting it on Auto and shooting. And it took me a while to figure out how to change basic settings like ISO, shutter speed and aperture. Rather than devoting a specific button or wheel to these features, the jog wheel on the back of the camera below the Mode dial doubles as a button. For instance, to change ISO you have to keep pressing the jog dial in until the setting lights up in yellow on the rear LCD before you can adjust the ISO by turning the dial. The same system is used for aperture, shutter speed and exposure compensation.
When the light was not too bright to wash out the higher resolution rear LCD, I preferred using it to set up photos. Though I missed having a side-swiveling screen, the fold-out LCD helped for capturing above-the-head and down low shots.
This came in handy when I unexpectedly stumbled onto two protests in Berlin. A large "Occupy Berlin" protest march trundled past us one afternoon as we left the hotel. The tilting LCD screen let me put the camera above my head to photograph the colorful crowd and their banners and signs. Later that afternoon I also came across a "Free Syria" protest and the HX200V with its 1080p video and stereo microphone helped me capture the sights and sounds of the event.
It proved to be a busy weekend in Berlin. Along with the two protests, the city was also hosting the finals of the German Cup in soccer and fans of the two teams playing -- Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich -- filled the city with their colorful jerseys and team scarfs. Again, while the HX200V wasn't the fastest performer, the versatility of the camera's big zoom let me capture wide shots and candid close-ups of soccer fans with just a toggle of the zoom ring.
In Berlin we visited Checkpoint Charlie, one of the most well-known Berlin Wall crossing points between West Berlin and East Berlin during the Cold War. While it's hard to get a decent shot not overcrowded with sightseers, the long zoom helped me isolate people around the preserved checkpoint booth for portraits. As luck would have it, a group of American servicemen reenactors (actually Germans) were there that day in period uniform handing out simulated rations to the crowds. I was able to a get a handful of great shots of them.
While having the power and distance of an 810mm-equivalent lens was nice and helped me capture close-ups of the dramatic statues on top of the Brandenburg Gate, I found myself using the wide 27mm setting more often. It was great for photographing large landmarks like the remaining sections of the Berlin Wall.
And while it's nice having such a wide optical zoom range, you do sacrifice aperture when you zoom in. Maximum aperture when you zoom all the way to 30x is just f5.6, making the camera a sub-par performer in low light at full telephoto.
At wide-angle, you can shoot at f2.8, which I found to be a lot more useful in mixed lighting situations. And because the HX200V is only a mediocre performer at high ISOs, you lean on f2.8 as much as possible.
Though the HX200V can shoot at high ISO levels on par to what's achievable with some entry-level dSLRs, take our advice and don't go there. dSLRs and their larger APS-C size image sensors can manage higher ISOs without too much noise. This superzoom camera cannot.
I have to question Sony's choice of making the HX200V an 18.2-Mp camera despite the fact that its CMOS imaging chip is the same size as what's in small point-and-shoot models. Even at ISO 800 we saw ugly luminance noise and at ISO 3200 our JPEGs showed excessive pixel smearing which is a result, no doubt, of Sony's processing algorithms trying to blur the distracting digital grain.
Though the camera can shoot above ISO 3200, it does so by firing off several images at once, which are then combined into one. Though the noise has been tamped down somewhat in the extended ISO settings, images captured at ISO 6400 and especially at 12,800 had so much smeared detail they resembled watercolor paintings.
The camera's HD video skills were also good in decent light but somewhat noisy under tougher shooting conditions. The HX200V captures full 1080p AVCHD video at 60p or 60i with stereo sound. There are also three reduced resolution options, but I stuck to full HD and while video looked fine when played back on my 27-inch iMac display screen, shadow areas showed lots of visible grain.
On the plus side, I noticed very little of the wobbly rolling shutter effect when I panned quickly and aggressively. Two different stabilization systems are available for video: either the standard Optical SteadyShot used for still imaging or a more powerful Active SteadyShot mode that combines optical and digital stabilization, with a resulting increase in the focal length crop. (Translation: wide-angle video is harder to achieve with this enabled, but it helps you manage an even greater maximum telephoto.)
The HX200V can also save 13-Mp still images during movie capture, all without interrupting the video. Image quality wasn't fantastic but a lot better than the lower resolution video snapshot effects from some competing models.
Despite its fast 10fps burst shooting speed and its long zoom for getting close to the action, the HX200V was only a mediocre performer for capturing sports. When I returned from Berlin I tried out my burst shooting skills at a local playground here in New York City. Though I could isolate the players on the court with the help of the zoom and the camera has built-in optical image stabilization, the images weren't as sharp as I had hoped.
When the HX200V fired off a ten-frame burst with a sustained press of the shutter button, the camera would lock up as the multiple frames were recorded to the memory card. For anyone who has used a dSLR with a bigger buffer that lets you keep on shooting, this is a frustrating experience. This burst function/lock-up also lends credence to that old sports photographer's axiom of "spray and pray," in that once you've shot a 10-frame burst with the HX200V, you can't do anything except pray that you got something good.
You can find our Test Shots at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/sony-hx200v/sony-hx200vA7.HTM and the Gallery Shots at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/sony-hx200v/sony-hx200vGALLERY.HTM.
Sony packs a ton of features into the HX200V superzoom and, for many people, it will offer more than enough camera for a range of shooting situations. Anyone who likes to travel but doesn't want to lug around an expensive dSLR camera body and a bevy of interchangeable lenses might find the HX200V to be the ideal traveling companion.
Though we had some problems with image quality, the HX200V was on par with other ultrazoom cameras on the market and despite its 18-Mp resolution it managed to make good 16x20-inch prints, so we think it warrants a Dave's Pick.
At http://www.imaging-resource.com/new-on-ir you can keep track of what's new on our main site. Among the highlights since the last issue:
- Reviewed: Triggertrap (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/triggertrap/index.htm)
- Reviewed: Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM (http://slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/1494/cat/11)
- Reviewed: Sony TX200V (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/TX200V/TX200VA.HTM)
- Reviewed: Nikon D800 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/nikon-d800/nikon-d800A.HTM). Its high-ISO performance surprised us, able to produce a good 8x10-inch print even at ISO 25,600.
- Test Shots: Samsung Galaxy (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/samsung-galaxy-camera/samsung-galaxy-cameraA.HTM)
- Reviewed: Rokinon 85mm f/1.4 Aspherical (http://slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/1577/cat/110)
NK Guy's The Lens is subtitled "A Practical Guide for the Creative Photographer." And that about sums it up. But let's explain backwards.
In the digital era, buying a camera body is a good deal more involved than it was during the film era because you're stuck with the "film" too. You're really buying a sensor you have to live with. But this is an adventure you don't take every year, even if you're in the business.
What you do keep an eye on, if you're serious about this art, is the glass. You date cameras but you marry lenses for life.
Unfortunately there aren't many resources for learning about lenses whether you want to understand the physics of optical design or the characteristics of particular models. SLRgear.com is one such, fortunately.
Guy, though, has put together a comprehensive guide to the field. And he walks you through it in an intelligent way, building on early concepts to introduce more arcane ideas. And the entire book is extensively illustrated so you can see exactly what he means.
The nine chapters include:
There are, in addition to a Glossary and Index, five useful appendices:
- A Brief History of Optics, Bending Light (on how a lens captures light)
- Lens Mechanisms (the mechanics of lenses from mounts to motors)
- Choosing the Right Lens for a Project (including the reporter's triumvirate and night photography)
- Choosing a Lens by Focal Length (in which the whole range of options is explored)
- Accessorize! (filters, hoods, extenders, reversing rings, caps, bags, tripod collars)
- Buying Lenses (third party options, where to buy, used lenses, rentals)
- Advanced Topics (optical properties, flaws, flare, coatings, bokeh, hyperfocal distance, diffraction limit, tilt and shift, video lenses, dust, scratches, cleaning lenses, fungus, repairs, microfocus adjustment)
- Creative Options (manual focus, adapters, toy cameras, Diana lenses, Lensbaby, pinhole, homemade lenses)
So it's for the photographer who can think beyond the camera body and it coves everything (even reversing rings and Lensbabies). How about "practical"? Well, that's one of the best things about it. Whether Guy was discussing dust or scratches or filters, he put the issue in perspective.
- Lens Mount Systems
- Manufacturer-Specific Lens Terms
- Lens Mount Table
- Chapter Opening Images
- A Simple Focus Test
"The first thing to keep in mind is that dust is inevitable," he writes after sympathizing with the discovery of it inside a lens and pointing out the three possible sources. But then he goes on to explain "the odd bit of dust won't make any difference to a photograph at all" before finishing the topic off with ways to keep dust at bay.
That's keeping your eye on the ball. Or, you might say, your lens trained on the subject.
A great guide with practical advice on a topic that should get a lot more attention from anyone with a camera that can mount different lenses. Bravo!
The Lens by NK Guy, published by Rocky Nook,310 pages. $44.95 (or $25.08 at http://www.amazon.com/dp/1933952970/?tag=theimagingres-20).
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RE: Sensor Physics
Thanks so much for that detailed answer to my question regarding sensor size vs. pixel resolution. It took me a couple of reads to get my head around it, but I got there. I was expecting I might receive a one or two sentence reply and maybe a link to something.
I particularly appreciate it being answered so fully and so promptly as I can see this "gift guide" issue took a lot of work to get together. (I think you ought to be nominated for the Imaging Resource Nobel Prize for service above and beyond the call of duty :^)
-- Terry Constanti(Thanks, Terry. But, you know, it was a great question. Dave enjoyed answering it <g> -- Editor)
As usual, I read with interest the Newsletter, but what attracted my particular attention was the dissertation on "resolution." Although I understood all that was suggested, I have a somewhat different view.
Taking the same "resolution" in line pairs per millimeter, this by definition is the resolution, period. There is no difference between the full frame and the sub-frame. The fact that there are 1600 lp/mm on the sub-frame and 2400 lp/mm on the full frame is simply due to the fact that the full frame is larger, nothing more than that. Thus, for the same lens resolution of 100 lp/mm, resolution is identical. Thus in principle under the stated conditions, there will be no difference between the sub-frame and the full frame cameras.
This of course is theoretical result. Thus the statement that "images from the full-frame camera are likely to look sharper" does not seem to me to be a correct conclusion. Above is of course assuming a "perfect" lens.
But let us look more closely at the real world. It is well known that every lens looses sharpness (resolution) the further one moves from the centre of the lens and that applies to every known lens!
Now, the sub-frame camera uses a smaller "circle" of the lens which is projected on the sensor, thus it uses the area of the lens that has more resolution/distortion/sharpness (call it what you like) than the same lens projecting to the full size frame. In this aspect, sub-frame cameras will in fact for any given lens quality have greater "sharpness" than the full frame camera, which is exactly opposite to what the article above suggests. And this is also well confirmed by the fact that lenses for the full frame camera have to be of greater quality than those for the sub-frame one, in order to retain the sharpness beyond the circle of the sub-frame model. (Reason for the "L" series Canon lenses.)
-- Frank Anderson(You're right if both the sub-frame and full-frame cameras shoot from the same vantage point so the subject occupies the same area on each sensor. If the same enlargement (relative to the area of the sensor) were used to make prints, the apparent resolution of the two cameras would be identical (assuming the two had the same pixel size). But if the subject occupies the same percentage of the frame, rather than the same physical area on the sensor, the full-frame subject image will be larger than the sub-frame image, so my comments about apparent resolution apply. People generally frame their photos to fill the frame, so resolution in the center of the full-frame image will appear to be higher.... You do bring up another good point, though: full-frame is much more demanding of the lens toward the edges of its image circle. You're much more likely to see things like softness, light falloff and various distortions in the corners of the frame with full-frame. In short, sub-frame will generally appear less sharp in the center, but won't degrade as much in the corners as the same lens on a full-frame camera. -- Dave)
RE: Memory Cards
Does anyone have a brief (if possible) tutorial -- preferably written in words of one or two syllables for the techie challenged of us -- on the different types of memory cards that are available? There are so many choices at widely differing prices.
-- Tom(Yes, there are a lot of options, Tom. Until you buy a camera. Then you're down to one or two <g>. There is a reason, though, that pro cameras use CompactFlash and most everything else uses SD (fast SD for HD video). Performance. Read and write speeds, in short. But these days SD is the norm. You can get a variety of SD cards (including some that themselves transmit images via WiFi). -- Editor)(Video requires a Class 6 or higher SD card. If there's no number at all, pass on it. Some cards print a speed rating in megabytes/second on the front, indicating how quickly your camera buffer can be ready for the next burst of frames. At some point you hit the camera's limits, beyond which faster cards make no difference. And some very high-performance cameras can take UHS-I cards, the true speed demons of the category. -- Dave)
I recently read an Epson scanner review by Mike Pasini. I fit his description of a retiree wanting to digitize film and slides that will be used for publication. What kind of machine will best do the job? I am aware it will not be cheap but I need a quality job. There's lots of film!
-- John Cleverley(The hardware half the solution can be solved by the Epson V750 at the high end (for original film up to 8x10) and the CanoScan 9000F at the low end (for film up to 120mm) with the Plustek 7600 for 35mm only.... Whether you opt for SilverFast or VueScan for software, the key is the multiexposure feature that scans once for highlights and again for shadows, greatly overcoming the limitations of the scanner's normal range. -- Editor)
Canon has released firmware updates for its Pro-10 and Pro-100 inkjet printers to correct their ink level reporting. You'll need a USB cable to perform the update. More details in our news story (http://www.imaging-resource.com/news/2012/11/20/canon-pixma-pro-firmware-improves-ink-level-detection).
Adobe (http://www.adobe.com) has released its $9.99 Photoshop Touch 1.4 with support for smaller tablet displays and three pressure-sensitive iPad styli: Pogo Connect, Jot Touch and JaJa. The new version also adds new sharing options plus a Lens Flare and Stamp Pattern effect.
The company has also launched a Photoshop for Beginners forum (http://forums.adobe.com/community/photoshop/photoshop_for_beginners).
Apple (http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1604?viewlocale=en_US&locale=en_US) has released Digital Camera Raw Compatibility Update 4.02 with support for the Nikon P7700, Olympus E-PL5/E-PM2/XZ-2, Panasonic GH3 and Sony NEX-5R/NEX-6/SLT-A99.
Anthropics Technology (http://www.PortraitProfessional.com) has released Portrait Professional 11 [MW] with automatic face and feature detection to make the retouching process faster and easier. And the launch price of $49.95 makes it less expensive too.
Ilford (http://www.ilford.com) has announced purchasers of its Prestige and Premium inkjet papers get a 25 percent mail-in rebate. Just pick up Galerie inkjet paper at your photo dealer, download the rebate certificate and follow the directions to claim the rebate.
Focal Press (http://www.focalpress.com) has published the second edition of Lensbaby: Bending Your Perspective by Corey Hilz. The title is available via the Imaging Resource Amazon affiliate program at a 34 percent discount (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0240825055/?tag=theimagingres-20).
PhoozL (http://www.phoozl.com) has announced The Portrait, a photo contest judged by commercial and fine-art photographer Albert Watson, who will conduct a personal 1:1 photo review with the Grand Prize winner.
Adorama (http://www.adorama.com) is shipping its $99.95 Flashpoint 14-inch Fluorescent Dimmable Ring Light featuring an 80-watt circular bulb.
Winter's coming. So how about a dSLR crochet camera cozy (http://sah-rah.com/dSLR-crochet-camera-cozy)?
Rocky Nook (http://www.rockynook.com) has published The Sony Alpha NEX-7: The Unofficial Quintessential Guide by Carol F. Roullard and Dr. Brian Matsumoto. The title is available via the Imaging Resource Amazon affiliate program at a 47 percent discount (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1937538117/?tag=theimagingres-20).
We note the passing of British portrait photographer Cornel Lucas, famous for his images of Brigitte Bardot, Katharine Hepburn, Gregory Peck and other film stars of the last century (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/19/arts/cornel-lucas-photographer-whose-portraits-defined-film-stars-dies-at-92.html?hpw).
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Curtin Short Courses: http://imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?bdc
Just so you know, the staff in Atlanta may send out a special mailing on Dec. 7. Your editor isn't involved in producing or distributing it, so we don't have any more information. The next regular issue of the Newsletter will be Dec. 14.
That's it for now, but between issues visit our site for the latest news, reviews, or to have your questions answered in our free discussion forum. Here are the links to our most popular pages:
Daily News: http://www.imaging-resource.com/news SLR Gear: http://www.slrgear.com New on Site: http://www.imaging-resource.com/new-on-ir Digicam index: http://www.imaging-resource.com/camera-reviews Q&A Forum: http://www.photo-forums.com Tips: http://www.imaging-resource.com/BETTERPICS.HTM
Mike Pasini, Editor
Dave Etchells, Publisher