A well-known editorial photographer Zack Arias recently touched a very sensitive subject, one that always spawns heated debates. In his entertaining video, he expressed his opinion on the full-frame vs APS-C sensor debate and we must say he made a lot of good points. Zack openly states on his website that he is not paid or sponsored by Fuji to advertise their cameras, and yet you might get the impression that this particular video is in fact an advertisement. Ignore that feeling, whether Zack is working for Fujifilm or not does not matter in this case. He talks about Fuji because it’s his system of choice (the X-T1 in particular), but the simple truth is every mirrorless camera with an APS-C sensor – any camera with APS-C sensor, in fact – is good enough for great many projects.
Even though this topic has been touched on numerous occasions, I still get asked this one question rather often – which camera to buy? For someone who’s into photography, it is a very vague question. Almost impossible to answer without additional context as it spawns a number of followup questions – what are you planning to photograph? Are you going to invest more into the system? What lenses would you like to own? Are you planning to take up photography professionally? And for a beginner to be able to answer all these questions in return requires a certain amount of research. Truth is, not everyone is looking to take up photography professionally or even invest into more than one additional lens to accompany the kit zoom. A lot of people really only want a camera for family pictures – something a bit more capable than your average compact, something that would work in darker environments and be able to defocus the background a bit more, too, because it makes images look prettier. And the answer to the first question is usually very simple – everything.
Yesterday, while thinking about the upcoming wedding that I have to shoot, I glanced at my trusty old D700. The rubber is coming off in places and needs to be glued back on, nothing serious. Two of the batteries that I have need replacing. The plastic screen protector has a few minor scratches on it, but would you expect anything else? No. Those are just minor signs of careful use. In every single way, it’s a damn good camera. And then I wondered, would I recommend it to a beginner looking for an affordable entry into the full-frame world? Oh yes, definitely. And it’s not the only one. So if you are a beginner – either to DSLRs or digital photography – and want to potentially improve the quality of your family pictures, to, perhaps, photograph your son’s football games with more confidence or even start your own photography business, there are a lot of used, older cameras you could go for and not regret it. Let us glance through some of them.
Talking to Tadas Kazakevičius (in case you are having a hard time spelling that, he’s just as well known as Ted Kozak), a young Lithuanian portraitist, was precisely one of those times when you think you have a million questions to ask. But then you meet him at a restaurant for a glass of cold bread kvass and a pizza only to realize you’ve suddenly forgotten all of them. What do you ask a person who’s work you admire so much, you think he’s one of the future classics of his generation? Where do you start? “Don’t be nervous”, he told me. “Why should you be?” True. Why should I be? But then, whilst talking about his street portraits, he answered his own question: “Even after all the portraits that I took of strangers, each time I attempt to approach a person on the street, I need to bring myself to do it. It’s scary.”
“After swimming”, winner of the 2014 Lithuanian Press Photography “Golden Frame” award
But we are getting ahead of ourselves. There’s so much to talk about – film, digital, people and their stories… And now I answer my question. Where do we start? Well, none of us is born with a camera, and so it is always interesting to learn how it all began for the talented among us.
It would seem releasing great and very desirable optics has now become Fujifilm’s habit. Several months ago, we were very excited about Fujifilm’s updated lens roadmap – it promised we’d see some truly spectacular lenses. No myriad of only slightly different super-zooms, no tenth kit zoom to be seen. Whoever is responsible for planning future lens releases at Fujifilm, they are doing a mighty good job. And here’s some good news – the official lens roadmap has just received an update to shed some more information on what awaits Fujifilm X-mount system users.
In our continuous attempt to improve our lens database and provide all the necessary information about various lens manufacturers as well as individual lenses, we’ve already discussed different abbreviations used to describe Sigma, Fujinon, Nikon and Canon lenses. In this article, I will talk about the most popular abbreviations used with Sony lenses.
It is worth noting that Sony has a rather special relationship with the legendary German lens manufacturer, Carl Zeiss. As far as I know (and do correct me if I’m wrong), these Sony-Zeiss lenses are not actually designed by Carl Zeiss. Rather, they are merely approved by the legendary lens manufacturer as being good enough to carry Zeiss brand name. Whatever the case may be, as such lenses are officially supported, manufactured and distributed by Sony, they can be considered as brand lenses and not third-party offerings. However, they do share both Zeiss and Sony-specific abbreviations. In this article, I will focus on modern Sony lenses only. Zeiss lens abbreviations will be covered in a separate article.
I am a big supporter of the “get to know your gear” opinion. I strongly believe that the more you use something, the better you learn to take full advantage of the strengths of that particular piece of equipment, and the better you learn to manage its shortcomings without even thinking about it. To a point where they just disappear, in fact, and make the statement that gear does not matter as truthful as it is. Gear does not matter (to an extent), but knowing it and liking it does. This, I think, it the crucial link between equipment and photography itself.
As smaller, lighter gear grows ever more popular – some mirrorless systems, while capable of delivering brilliant results in knowing hands, weigh half as much as DSLR systems – it is only natural for smaller bags to get more popular as well. Already you can see retailers and online stores offering a wide array of “for mirrorless cameras” bags and the selection will only grow wider. Even though I haven’t bought into a mirrorless system (yet), I, too, was on a lookout for a small, unassuming bag. The main requirements were simple: it had to look like anything but a camera bag and thus also work as a simple shoulder bag when needed; it had to be small, yet big enough to fit a mirrorless body with a couple of small lenses and, until such a time arrives, big enough to fit a D700 camera with a 50mm lens attached; and, if at all possible, accommodate my Mamiya RZ67 – not a small camera, mind you – and a roll of film for those quiet evening walks in the old city.
A while ago, Nasim went to London to spend some time with his family and meet up with some of our dear readers. You might have noticed that, for a couple of weeks, he did not have much time to work on articles, certainly not as much as usual. You might also have noticed my own absence for the last couple of months at least. We did not plan to take vacation at the same time. It just so happened that I, too, have been extremely busy at the time, hence no new Lightroom or composition-related articles coming out. My time away, however, was rather less glamorous than that of my friend’s. And less relaxing, let alone fun or enthusiastically met. In fact, it was somewhat of a nightmare at times, a blur of nights and days turning into long, long weeks of never-ending stacks of books, articles and albums. How I missed my job! Although rationally I understand it is not, in the moments of weakness writing articles seemed like a much simpler endeavour. Certainly much more fun.
I am happy to say, though, that in the end the result is just as pleasing and satisfactory to me as Nasim’s trip was to him, even if the process was nerve-wrecking. I expect at this point you are rather curious what I am on about. Well, just a few hours ago I received my Bachelor’s degree. Yes, I am now officially an educated man with a Faculty of Arts diploma, cheers! But that’s not very interesting. Let’s be fair, as challenging as it was writing some 40 pages of theory and spending even more time photographing, it’s no doctoral dissertation, Bachelor’s degree is merely the first, smallest of steps up an educational skyscraper. It is also rather common in my country where most people seek a degree right after finishing high school (generally at the age of 19). What I hope is a little more interesting are these portraits, some of which make up the creative part of my thesis.
For a while now, Sony’s biggest attention-grabbers in the camera industry were the mirrorless full-frame siblings, A7, A7r and the most recent, low-light and video focused A7s. Even so, to think that they’ve forgotten their DSLR system (although current Alpha cameras, such as the A99, technically are not really DSLR cameras) would be incorrect. Japanese electronics giant has enough resources and will to grow its customer base to provide deserved attention to all markets, which means those who still prefer the ergonomics of a full-sized camera can count on Sony not to leave them stranded. Today, Sony has announced what is to be the replacement of the venerable Sony A77, an SLT (Single Lens Translucent) camera we praised so highly in our review. So, what does this new camera, dubbed SLT-A77 II, improve over its predecessor?