Featured Articles and Reviews

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the Fuji X-E1 Kit Winner Is…

Our giveaway for the Fuji X-E1 + 18-55mm lens kit is now over. While I thought I could manage to pick a winner last night, sorting through all the comments (for non-Facebook participants) and entering them into a spreadsheet and then eliminating all the fake entries (there were many!) took me a while for both giveaways that are taking place. Lastly, I had to contact the winners and get their response for confirmation purposes. As before, I used the services of random.org to pick a random winner among all of our readers and Facebook fans. The total number of entries for this particular contest were 9373. So with the drums rolling, let’s see who the winner is:

Fuji X-E1 Winner

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Merry Christmas!

To those of our readers that celebrate Christmas, on behalf of the Photography Life team, we would like to wish you a very merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas

May your home be filled with joy, love, health and happiness!

P.S. Don’t forget that we will be giving away two big presents tonight. The Fuji X-E1 + 18-55mm lens kit, along with a full-frame DSLR/mirrorless of choice (Canon 6D, Nikon D610 and Sony A7). Stay tuned for the big news and good luck to everyone!

Sony A7 and A7R Red Dot Flare Issue

Just as I have suspected, the Sony A7 and A7R cameras are not immune to the Red Dot Flare issue, thanks to the short flange distance. The effect of the red dot flare can be significantly reduced if the rear lens element has non-reflective coating applied to it. In the case of the two below, the Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 ZA handles flare a little better due to its optical design, but the red dots are still all over the place. Both shot at f/16, pointing directly at the sun.

Sony A7 and 28-70mm Red Dot Flare

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How to Use the Sensor Gel Stick

In this video, I decided to cover a couple of important aspects of using the sensor gel stick. First, I wanted to show what the product looks like when shipped and what it comes with, then answer some of the most frequently asked questions by our readers (see below for the text version), before actually showing how to use the product on a camera sensor.

DISCLAIMER: Not responsible for any potential damage of the camera due to misuse of the product! Please watch the video carefully and follow the instructions step by step.

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Lightroom Interface Customization Tips

I remember describing Photoshop’s versatility and sophistication as both a strength and a weakness. On one hand, it is a very powerful piece of software with so many different and versatile tools, its capability is only limited by the user’s skill. On the other hand, such complexity can also be overwhelming and detract one’s attention, slow down simple tasks. This trait, to an extent, is also shared by Photoshop’s little sibling, photography-centered Lightroom. Although it is that much more specialized, there’s still a plethora of tools, panels and tabs which can, at times, make the post-processing experience somewhat… messy.

Lightroom Interface Customization Tips

Thankfully, it would seem the team of developers behind Adobe Photoshop Lightroom are trying to do their best to make Lightroom as simple and fast as possible. Thus a certain amount of customization is available. You won’t be able to completely redesign the software, but getting rid of some things you find unnecessary is very much possible. In this article, I will give you some tips on how to purify your workflow and hide some of the functionality that you might find yourself rarely using, so as to not get detracted from the things you use most.

A side note: read our “Lightroom Loupe View Options” and “Lightroom Grid View Options” articles to learn how to toggle and customize information overlays, which help you learn the most important information about a specific image at a glance.

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The Riddle of Intermediate ISO Settings

I guess today is a “blow your mind” Friday, because we have a guest post here by Iliah Borg, the person behind the RawDigger software that is used to analyze RAW images. I had a chance to engage in a conversation with Iliah when discussing the noise performance of the Nikon Df, where he not only proved me wrong on my assumption that the Df had exactly the same sensor as the D4 (turns out that they are similar, but not exactly the same), but also shared some incredible information about testing procedures, data analysis and other crazy, mind-boggling stuff! The learning curve with photography never ends, especially when you get into the whole sensor and image processing pipeline side of it. I must warn our readers though – the below article is very technical and is not intended for beginners! Hope you enjoy it! Nasim.

If one is shooting raw, they might be interested to know if there is any benefit in using intermediate ISO settings like ISO 125, 160, etc. There is no single answer to this question, because it depends on implementation of these intermediate ISO settings in the particular camera. Sometimes they are implemented the same way as the main ISO settings, but other times they are a result of certain manipulations, like digital multiplication.

To demonstrate how this can be determined, we will first analyze the so-called Masked Pixels (often called optically black area, or simply OB), which is a portion of the sensor that we normally do not see in our images. It is covered from light, so it can be a good indicator of the lowest possible noise of the sensor, while noise is what we analyze to learn how to use a given sensor optimally. We are taking a series of shots at varying ISO settings, from the lowest to the highest and, of course, using all intermediate ISO settings available. The subject of the shots can be anything – you can even shoot with a lens’ cap on.

Next, bring the first shot of the series into RawDigger and set RawDigger preferences to display the black frame (Display Options, Masked Pixels checkbox, checked) and not to subtract black Level (Data Processing, Subtract Black checkbox, unchecked).

RawDigger Preferences 1

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Latest B&H Offers

UPDATE: More deals added, including the Canon 5D Mark III 1 day sale!

B&H is now offering the Canon EOS T5i with EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM and EF-S 55-250mm f3/4-5.6 IS STM lenses and a SanDisk 16GB SD memory card with a whopping discount of $500. I was not impressed with the T5i, perhaps better known as 700D, but only for one reason – it is not much of an update to its predecessor, and it seems like a lot of manufacturers are just flooding the market with barely improved products. So what I did not like was the very fact the camera was released so soon after 650D came into market. However, on its own, it is a very capable camera and, from specification standpoint, up there with the best in entry level segment. If you were planning to purchase it, now is a good time to do so, because, for a limited time, the two-lens kit costs just $999 compared to the regular price of $1,499. Follow this link to get to the product page. Mind you, the new price is only visible when you add the camera to the shopping cart.

Canon 700D Rebel T5i

More good news – Nikon Df is in stock for $2,746.95. From what I’ve heard, pre-order numbers were not great for Nikon, but I’ve already asked Nasim, who is working on a review, what he thinks about it. The simple truth is that he likes it – a lot; especially with that exotic and brilliant Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G lens. So I guess our initial assumption still stands – this camera is not for everyone and, if one were rational about it, this camera is a bit of a ripoff. But for those who want it, there is nothing better.

Grab the Canon 5D Mark III for $2,699, will expire tomorrow 12/21/2013.

New Fuji Firmware Update for X-Pro1, X-E1, X-E2 and X100S

As we have mentioned before, Fuji planned to release a major firmware update to most of its X series cameras on December 19, 2013. Well, today is the 19th, which means that you can download the latest firmware and apply it to your Fuji camera! I am very excited about this release, because it brings very important and key features to the X-Pro1 and the X-E1 cameras that have been rolled to the X-E2 and X100S cameras. The first key feature is Auto Gain control. As I have mentioned in my Fuji X-E2 review, auto gain is something that controls the brightness of the LCD and forces it to always show average brightness, no matter what settings are set on the camera. In short, it is an inaccurate representation of the actual exposure. While the feature can be very useful in low-light situations or when working in a studio, it is not something that I personally like to use 90% of the time. With the new firmware, you can now turn Auto Gain off, which will show the correct exposure on the LCD!

Fujifilm X-Pro1 vs X-E2

Another key feature that is added is Auto ISO. Yes, finally, we now we have Auto ISO on all X-series mirrorless cameras! While I am still waiting for Fuji to add automatic ISO control based on the focal length of the lens (Nikon nailed it on its latest DSLRs), the current implementation is surely better than nothing. The last big change is the ability to change aperture and shutter speed when AE lock is engaged. There are a couple of other changes added to each firmware release and you can find additional info from the below links.

  1. Fuji X-Pro1 v3.10 Firmware Update
  2. Fuji X-E1 v2.10 Firmware Update
  3. Fuji X-E2 v1.10 Firmware Update
  4. Fuji X100S v1.10 Firmware Update

Kudos to Fuji for making this happen. They keep going back and adding such huge changes to existing cameras, making existing owners very happy. Imagine how great it would be if Nikon issued firmware updates with major changes to 2-3 year old cameras, or added features to lower-end cameras. I would love to get the latest Auto ISO implementation on my Nikon D3s, but I have a suspicion that it will never happen…and that’s after paying over $5K for it!

Nikon Df + 58mm f/1.4G – A Match Made In…

Lothlórien or Mordor, depending on whether you consider Nikon “the dark side” I guess! Been shooting with this combo for about a week now and I am amazed by the results. The Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G (see our lens page in the database) is just one of a kind…very few Nikkor lenses are capable of rendering such beautiful images. Lots of depth, color and beautiful bokeh, as illustrated in some of the images below. Sharpness in the center is also excellent when you nail focus, even wide open. Lola was a bit hesitant about the Df at first (she rarely parts with her Nikon D3s + Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G combo), but once she used it a couple of times on commercial shoots, she quickly changed her mind.

Nikon Df Image Samples (5)

Image quality is stunning, especially when shooting in low light situations. Armed with a fast f/1.4 lens, you could literally shoot in dark with the Df and get amazing results. These are some of the images that we have captured so far and I am planning to take the Df to much more challenging lighting conditions this weekend and within the next couple of weeks. I am currently busy writing the Nikon 58mm f/1.4G review (now published). By now I have plenty of image samples to showcase its performance, along with other accompanying lab test data. The Nikon Df review should be posted within the next 2 weeks.

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Fuji X-E2 Review

This is an in-depth review of the Fujifilm X-E2, a second generation mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera from Fuji that was released on October 18, 2013 before the 2013 Photo Plus Expo event in New York. After the success of the X-E1, which I ended up picking as my mirrorless camera of choice, as explained in my detailed review, Fuji decided to update the camera with more features to make it even more compelling. Considering that the X-E1 was only a little over a year old and the high-end X-Pro1 had not been updated since it was initially released back in March of 2012, the X-E2 was a good indication of Fuji’s future plans to keep the mid-range product line updated every 12 to 18 months, while the high-end line will probably be updated every 24+ months. In this Fuji X-E2 review (based on initial firmware 1.00), I will provide detailed information about the camera along with some image samples and compare it to the X-E1 and the Olympus OM-D E-M1.

Fuji X-E2

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