Featured Articles and Reviews

Wildlife Photography Tips Part One

I hope the idea I have in my head for this wildlife photography series of articles turns out on paper the way I imagined it and you find some useful … [Continue Reading]

Coastal Grizzly Bear Photo

What is Ghosting and Flare?

When light rays coming from a bright source(s) of light (such as the sun or artificial light) directly reach the front element of a camera lens, they … [Continue Reading]

Lens Flare

Arca-Swiss C1 Cube Review

In this review, I will talk about my experience and impressions with using perhaps the finest tripod head I have seen to date, the Arca-Swiss C1 Cube. … [Continue Reading]

Arca-Swiss C1 Cube

How to Photograph the Milky Way

Many travel and landscape photographers, including myself, try to avoid shooting scenery with a clear blue sky. As much as we like seeing puffy or … [Continue Reading]

Arches Night Sky by Tom Redd

Profoto B1 500 AirTTL Review

When Profoto announced their first truly portable setup with the Profoto B1 500 AirTTL battery powered flash last year, the news immediately caught my … [Continue Reading]

Profoto B1 with Battery

Leica M7 Review

This is a review of the Leica M7 TTL .72 rangefinder film camera that I used with the Leica 35mm f/2.0 Summicron M Aspherical Manual Focus Lens. I had … [Continue Reading]

Leica M7

Lightroom Grid View Options

In Lightroom, image information, such as Metadata, can be overlaid on a photograph in some Modules. It helps you find out information you might need at a glance, such as aperture and shutter speed at which that particular photograph was taken. Such information can be overlaid in Grid and Loupe View modes in Library Module, and Loupe View mode in Develop Module. In this article, I will discuss the Grid View options, which are available in Library Module only. Loupe View mode, which is available in Library and Develop Modules, will be discussed in detail in a follow-up article.

Lightroom Grid View Options

Lightroom Grid View Information Overlay

In Grid View mode, the additional information display modes are called Grid Extras. The Grid Extras are further split into Cell Extras, as there are two types of Cells – Compact Cells and Expanded Cells. You can set different information for both types of Cells and toggle between them by hitting “J” key while in Grid View mode. Doing so will toggle between bare Cells that show no Grid Extras at all except for Color Label; Compact Cells that show Flags, Star Ratings, Quick Collection Markers, Thumbnail Badges that show whether that particular file was edited, and an additional piece of information of your choosing; and, finally, Expanded Cells that show more additional information that you can specify, such as file dimensions, date the photograph was taken on and so on.

A side note: a Cell is the area that surrounds and contains image thumbnail along with additional information in Grid View mode, but is not the thumbnail itself.

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Hejnar Photo 10% Discount Coupon

Chris Hejnar from Hejnar Photo Store is kindly giving a special 10% off discount coupon code for Photography Life readers. So if you want to buy his products at even a better price, please use the coupon code below. As I have pointed out in my Hejnar Photo Accessory Review, their Arca-Swiss compatible products are top notch in terms of quality, easily comparable to Really Right Stuff, Kirk and other top brands in the industry. Plus, Chris makes products right here in the US, so by purchasing from him we are supporting a growing small business (and at PL, we do care about US businesses competing with cheap foreign labor).

Manfrotto 405 Arca Swiss Hejnar Photo

To take advantage of this 10% offer, please use the 012ccfcfb1 discount coupon upon checkout. This coupon is good for a year and if we continue supporting Chris, he will be able to extend the offer even more going forward. Please note that Photography Life does not earn any revenue from this offer. We are purely doing this to support a local business.

Hejnar Photo Accessory Review

About 3 weeks ago, I decided to make some changes to my tripod setup in my lens testing lab, in order to make it easier, more consistent and fluid to test lenses. My decision was based on the fact that I found myself moving the tripod a bit too much when testing lenses, especially the de-centered ones (those that do not have a straight optical axis due to a slight dislocation of one or more lens elements). I decided to replace shorter macro focusing rails for much longer and bigger rails, so that I could have more room for side to side movement and more focus bracketing options for testing telephoto lenses. As I was configuring the setup, I realized that I needed to spend close to $2K in a more versatile tripod head and lots of Arca-Swiss rails, clamps and other accessories. The first task was to replace the standard quick release plate of the heavy duty Manfrotto 405 Pro Geared Head (to be reviewed later) with an Arca-Swiss quick release clamp. As usual, I started researching for a proper solution on Google, which pointed me to Hejnar Photo Store on the first page of search, with exactly the product that I was looking for. I then spent another 30-45 minutes researching the solution and read a number of posts on different forums, where people were raving about Hejnar Photo’s products, including the adapter that I needed. This was very important for me, because I needed a setup that would be extremely reliable and stable, especially for handling heavy super telephoto lenses.

Although I have never heard of the company before, I decided to give it a try and purchased the Arca-Swiss adapter and clamp for the Manfrotto 405 tripod head, along with a bunch of other accessories for my custom setup. The pricing was very good, so I wanted to see how Hejnar Photo’s products would compare to the most popular brands like Really Right Stuff. My order was processed on the same day and the package was shipped to me right away without any delays. After a few days, I received everything I ordered and started modifying the Manfrotto 405. After going through the instructions on Hejnar Photos’s website (which are nicely laid out with images), I was able to modify the head in less than 5 minutes. Once everything was put together, I was pleasantly surprised by how solid the setup was. I slid one of the long rails on Hejnar Photo’s tripod clamp and once secured, it was rock solid. No vibrations of any sort – and that’s exactly what I need for testing lenses! Here is the image of one of the configurations:

Manfrotto 405 Arca Swiss Hejnar Photo

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What is Arca-Swiss Quick Release System?

Many of our readers frequently ask us questions about tripod heads and accessories to support heavy camera and lens combinations. Those that are especially new to super telephoto lenses quickly discover that tripod feet supplied by all manufacturers on modern lenses are simply not suitable to be mounted on regular tripod heads. Unfortunately, whether it is Nikon, Canon, Sony or a third party lens manufacturer like Sigma, they all supply non-standard tripod feet with their lenses. For new lens owners it can be a rather frustrating experience trying to figure out which tripod head would fit their large and heavy lenses, because nobody wants a lens worth thousands of dollars to end up crashing on the ground. And since most tripod plates are only equipped with a single mounting point, it can be extremely unstable and even potentially dangerous to mount anything heavier than a few pounds on them. The solution, which has become somewhat of a standard nowadays, was developed by a company called Arca-Swiss back in 1990s and since then has been popularized as “Arca-Swiss Quick Release System”. The idea behind this quick release system is quite simple, but very effective. Almost all professional photographers that use super telephoto lenses have adopted the Arca-Swiss quick release system and more photographers are converting even their regular cameras to this format for ease of use, stability and compatibility reasons.

Arca Swiss Z1 with Plate

1) Arca-Swiss Quick Release

The Arca-Swiss quick release system is based on a two piece mechanism. The first piece, generally referred to as a “plate”, is attached to a camera or a lens (or any other device). It comes in a standard, “arca-style” 35mm wide form with a 45° dovetail and can vary in length (a sample plate is illustrated above to the right of the tripod head). The second piece is the mounting base, generally referred to as a “clamp”, where the plate gets attached and secured. The clamp can be fully opened, allowing the plate to be dropped in and secured, or can be partially opened to allow the plate to be slid into the position. The biggest advantage of the Arca-Swiss quick release system is this ability to slide the plate without having to worry about mounting or dismounting anything. The 45° dovetail on the plate, as pictured below, allows equipment to be moved across the clamp and secured in a specific location using a side knob or a locking release.

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Please welcome Charles Hildreth!

I am excited about presenting yet another addition to our Photography Life family – please welcome Charles Hildreth! Charles is an amazing portrait photographer, who is coming back to Denver after spending the last several years working in Hollywood, California. I found out about Charles through my wife Lola, who showed me some stunning work by Charles on his 500px account (which happens to be one of the top). We will be closely working with Charles on some projects in the future right here at PL, so please give him a warm welcome!

Charles Hildreth

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Popular Lens Combinations for Wedding Photography

When asked what gear I use most for my work, I will first of all give tribute to the classic fifty and talk about how useful and versatile it is for my style of shooting. And yet I would never willingly rely on that lens alone, no matter how much I liked it. Nor should someone else, really. In this follow-up article I will describe the two most popular lens combinations used among professional wedding photographers. Both of these lens combinations are enough to cover the biggest part of the wedding and, in that context, can be called workhorse lenses. One of the duos is used primarily by fixed focal length lens shooters, the other is very successfully used by photographers who largely prefer zoom lenses. Each of the combinations has their advantages and disadvantages when compared to the other, but whether one is better than the other remains very subjective. Please note that lens choices presented below are a result of a mini-research, where we asked a number of wedding photographers what two lenses were their favorite / most used.

Nikkor AF-D 85mm f1.4 Sample Image 1

While talking about these lens combinations, I will also try to objectively highlight their biggest strengths and weaknesses when compared to each other.

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Adobe’s Silent Exposure Compensation

When using Lightroom, you might be wondering why the highlight recovery between different camera models allows for different room. Given the “color of light” (light source color temperature and tint) is the same, the highlight recovery difference depends primarily on baseline exposure compensation applied to a raw file when it is opened in Adobe raw converters (Adobe Camera Raw, ACR; or Lightroom, LR). This baseline exposure compensation is applied behind the scenes, the exposure compensation slider after the file is opened stays at zero. This is Adobe’s way to equalize cameras.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5

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Official Fujinon XF 10-24mm F/4 Image Samples

The rate at which Fujifilm X-mount compact camera system is growing is simply remarkable. I admit, I am very drawn to the system and really like what Fujifilm is doing (thus pardon any subjectivity that might creep in at times). To think that it was launched such a little while ago and yet already has such a versatile selection of cameras and lenses, it is beyond what we’re used to seeing in modern digital camera market. The two most recent Fujinon lenses – the XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS and XF 56mm f/1.2 R – filled in what was arguably the biggest gaps in the system. The first one addressed the wide-angle issue in what we think is a very well-sorted package, while the second finally offers both the aperture and focal length suitable for close-up shallow depth-of-field portraiture. We are excited about both these new lenses along with the XF 23mm f/1.4 R and those soon to come.

Fujinon-XF-10-24mm-f4-R-OIS-Lens_2

Alas, they have not yet reached our hands, so the reviews will have to wait a little longer. On the positive side, Fujifilm has decided to treat us with some eye-candy from the widest lens currently available for the X-system. If you’ve been holding back your pre-order fearing it might not be as good a performer as one might hope, these official full resolution image samples should help you with your choice. Images are taken at various focal lengths and aperture values. If they are to be trusted, the XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS really does perform admirably. Clicking on the images will take you to the full-resolution (several megabytes) file on Fujifilm’s website. The image files also contain EXIF information.

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Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art Lens Announcement

We sort of missed the new Sigma 50mm lens in the sea of recent announcements. And we should not have. Because, despite that, like its predecessor, it is very heavy by 50mm f/1.4 class standards and very big, this is not an old lens in a new frock. The Sigma 50m f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens is a completely new and very complex design. Worth your attention? Perhaps, if you are into the classic fifty. And, if recent Sigma lenses are of any indication (Nasim adored the 35mm f/1.4 Art), it should be extremely good.

Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art

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Camera Pollution

With the proliferation of all kinds of gadgetry not only for everyday needs, but also for needs we thought we would never have, the camera market sadly seems to be moving in the same direction. Actually, it is already half way there. New cameras, lenses and accessories keep popping up every few months and come in all shapes, forms and colors. The camera market seems to be experiencing the same over-saturation that other electronics companies are seeing today. People do not want to buy new TVs anymore, so manufacturers are trying to find new ways to sell more TVs by adding more features. The approach is built on typical consumerism – make something look shiny and more interesting than it was before and it might lure people into buying it every year. Camera companies are sadly following exactly the same practice. Announcements are becoming more important than the products themselves, so manufacturers are pushing more redundant choices year after year just to make headlines.

Nikon D3300 in 3 colors

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