One of the common misunderstandings in photography has to do with the focal length of a lens, or its optical distortion properties. Many photographers claim that a wider angle lens will distort facial features either because of the lens distortion, or the focal length of the lens being too short. In this article and the accompanying video (which is extracted from our upcoming Photography Life Basics Video), we will prove that focal length has nothing to do with distorting a subject’s face and the additional information on lens distortion will explain in detail exactly what gets impacted by lens distortion.
Today Canon announced the updated Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM lens, which promises remarkable performance for a 35mm prime, thanks to its updated optical formula and the new “Blue Spectrum Refractive Optics”, which is designed to further reduce chromatic aberration to new levels. With a total of 14 elements (2 of which are aspherical), 9 diaphragm blades for beautiful bokeh, fluorine coating and a dust / water-resistant construction, the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM will surely be a popular choice among Canon enthusiasts and professionals. The only issue might be the added weight – at 760 grams, it is 180 grams heavier than its predecessor. It will retail for $1,799 in October of 2015.
When testing out the Nikon 58mm f/1.4G, I really wanted to get a hold of the legendary Noct-NIKKOR 58mm f/1.2 lens to see how the two lenses from different generations compare optically. Unfortunately, I could not obtain a good sample of the Noct-NIKKOR at the time, but after scouting eBay for a while, I finally found a pristine copy of the lens from a photographer in California. Being a collector item, the lens was barely used and had been sitting for years in a closet – exactly what I had been wanting to get. I really wanted to make sure that the lens performed as close to its original specifications as possible, because I was on the quest to measure its optical performance, particularly at its super wide f/1.2 aperture. Let’s take a look at the lens in more detail.
Choosing the right storage option can be a rather challenging process due to the sheer number of options available on the market today. The good news is, there is a solution for practically every need out there – from a simple low-cost backup solution to high-end and versatile storage arrays for multi-user environments, all depending on one’s needs. The bad news is, even when you know exactly what you need in terms of storage space, you might find yourself lost fairly quickly, particularly if you are not well-versed in storage solutions. The process of selecting the best solution is often frustrating for many photographers for this particular reason. Last year, a good friend of mine, who has been doing both photography and videography professionally for a number of years now, asked me for a suggestion on a solid and robust storage solution that could be used in a workgroup environment, with more than 2 people accessing the same data simultaneously. He told me about the challenges his team was experiencing when needing to share photos and videos in a network environment, often resorting to very slow and ineffective methods that only created frustration. Having been working with storage solutions for many years, my proposal was to use the Synology DS1815+ network attached storage (NAS) in a Gigabit network environment. I have personally used a number of Synology NAS devices in the past both on personal and professional levels and I have always loved the architecture, the simple to use software, the reliability and the performance of Synology storage solutions. Since implementation, my friend and his co-workers have been very happy, praising Synology and recommending the company to others. In this review, I will be taking a closer look at the Synology DS1815+ and talk about my experience using the unit for my work during the past 6 months.
As much as I have been trying to avoid traditional spinning HDDs (hard disk drives), replacing them with SSDs (solid state drives) when possible in my computer builds, HDDs still have no equivalents in terms of storage capacity and low cost per TB. The largest consumer-grade SSDs that we have seen so far are limited to 2 TB and those drives don’t come cheap – $800 a pop for a lower-end model. Well, it looks like this is about to change, because Samsung has just announced the successful development of the world’s largest hard drive, at a whopping 16 TB of storage capacity in a small 2.5 inch form factor. This 16 TB SSD drive, which is code-named “PM1633a” at the moment, uses Samsung’s new 256 Gb NAND flash as the basis for the storage, which basically stacks transistors vertically and allows squeezing much more storage into limited space. And to showcase this technology and its potential, Samsung mentioned a reference design for a server with 48 of these SSD drives installed for a total capacity of 768 TB. Now that’s mind-boggling, because we are talking about a true game-changer in storage technology. What does this mean for us photographers?
For a number of years I have been recommending our readers to convert RAW files from their cameras to Adobe’s DNG format. In my DNG vs RAW article from 2010, I pointed out the reasons why using DNG over RAW made sense – it simplified file management, resulted in smaller files (when compressed or when embedded JPEG image size was reduced) and seemed like a good way to future-proof RAW files. But as time passed, higher resolution cameras were introduced and I started exploring other post-processing options, I realized that DNG had a few major disadvantages that made me abandon it. In this article, I will revisit the DNG format and bring up some of my concerns on why it might not be the ideal choice that I once thought it was.
Due to rising costs of hosting and other expenses, we decided to add some advertising space to Photography Life, which has always been and always will be a free photography resource. Some of our readers were a bit annoyed by the often intrusive ads (which, unfortunately, we have little to no control of) and they requested that we add an option to support Photography Life with a monthly donation option, which would completely remove all the ads on the site. Others have been asking us to give a good option to subscribe on a monthly basis or simply donate funds to support our work. I am happy to report that this feature has finally been added to our site, and as of today you can become a member and enjoy completely ad-free experience. You can choose your level of support from Basic ($0.99 per month) all the way to Gold ($19.99 per month), depending on how much support you can and want to provide us and all three membership levels give you the same browsing and reading experience.
The last few weeks have been crazy busy for me personally, since we are in the process of creating our first comprehensive video, which is something we are really excited about (more on this later). Because of this and other parallel engagements that I am involved in, I have not had a chance to work on some of the projects I have started a couple of months ago, including the Photo Spots project. I apologize for not being able to post updates on our Photo Spots Contest and I know that many of our readers have been waiting for us to announce the winner. As I started going through submissions, I got a bit overwhelmed by the response – we had over 400 submissions that I had to go through, edit and post. I posted a total of 351 photo spots from all the submissions and tried to be less picky about the photos and the content. So unless you posted a really bad photo or your submission did not meet our requirements (little to no text / description, or just vertical images), most of what you have submitted should have been posted by now.
Although discussing the topic of Nikon vs Canon can lead to unnecessarily long and emotional debates between photographers and I personally find such discussions silly, there are some distinct differences between the two systems that might be worth pointing out for those who consider investing into either system. Some of the differences are related to current technology and it might be a matter of time before either company catches up. For example, Nikon and Sony shooters often brag about the amazing dynamic range their cameras are capable of capturing, pointing out how bad Canon DSLRs look in comparison. And it is currently holds true – Canon has not done well in direct comparisons with other brands on the market, scoring consistently lower in dynamic range performance on each new iteration of its modern DSLRs. However, this is something that Canon could potentially address in the future with newer sensor technologies that provide greater dynamic range performance. On the other hand, other differences might not be possible to address. One such difference is the lens mount – both companies use mounts of different sizes. Which one is better and why? Let’s talk about the differences between the Nikon F and Canon EF mounts in detail.
Nikon’s last announcement today is the new Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR, a super telephoto zoom lens designed for sports and wildlife enthusiasts. This lens is a very interesting announcement, because it is very different from all other super telephoto Nikon lenses we have seen in the past – it is Nikon’s first zoom lens with a fixed aperture that covers such a long range. Many enthusiasts have been asking for a 400mm f/5.6 lens and one wonders if this lens could address such needs. The 200-500mm f/5.6E VR supposedly can work with all three teleconverters and if it proves to be as versatile as it sounds, this might be something many wildlife photographers have been waiting for. The best part is the price – at $1,399.95 MSRP, it certainly falls into the “affordable” category when compared to other super telephoto lenses. Let’s take a look at this lens in more detail.