One of the biggest challenges that many photographers face is yielding sharp photos when hand-holding a camera. Many end up with blurry images without understanding the source of the problem, which is usually camera shake. Unfortunately, camera shake can come from a variety of different sources – from basic improper hand-holding techniques to mirror and shutter-induced vibrations that can be truly challenging and sometimes even impossible to deal with. While I will go over the latter topics in a separate article, I would like to talk about the most common cause of camera shake: lower-than-acceptable shutter speed when hand-holding the camera. I will introduce and explain the reciprocal rule, which can help in greatly increasing the chances of getting sharp photos when you do not have a tripod around.
With the introduction of lenses like the Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 VC, more people than ever before are using long telephoto zoom lenses. Sometimes they are disappointed with their initial results when using these lenses hand-held, especially at slower shutter speeds. This short article provides some tips that can help improve hand-holding technique.
During our recent photo walk in San Francisco, where we had over 30 Photography Life readers join us for some awesome time together, one of the participants noted that a number of photographers who came to the photo walk were carrying tripods. As we were shooting a brightly-lit scene, his question was – why would you even want to bring a tripod to photograph in bright light? He then pointed out the fact that he almost never carries a tripod, that considering how good the performance of digital cameras is today, that a tripod is unnecessary. While I agreed about the fact that modern cameras are certainly very good at handling noise and the fact that I rarely use a tripod in broad daylight myself, I stated that I still carry a tripod with me when I travel and pointed out one specific situation that took place a couple of days earlier, where a tripod made it possible to capture a dynamic scene that I could not have captured otherwise. I asked if the participants had previously seen the below photo of San Francisco, captured from Twin Peaks (which was in my San Francisco at Night post):
I must say that I am beyond impressed with my visit to Jordan this time (I have been in Amman, Jordan once last year, but only for a few days). This place is so historic, so beautiful and so unique! And although I was initially a little concerned about the safety here (after all, Jordan borders with both Syria and Iraq), everywhere I go appears to be really safe and people are quite content overall. I have explored a number of places near Amman and I am planning to visit Petra next week for a day, but after some feedback from our readers, I also really want to visit the beautiful Wadi Rum.
Olympus has announced another addition to its line of high-quality professional lenses. The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro, which has a field of view equivalent to 14-28mm in 35mm format, sports a pretty complex optical formula, with 14 elements in 11 groups, 10 of which are comprised of special type of glass to reduce various optical aberrations. With its constant maximum aperture of f/2.8, the lens offers superb optical performance even at its widest aperture. In addition to having high-end optics, the lens is engineered to be both dustproof and splashproof. All this does not come cheap though – the Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro will retail for $1,299.99 when it starts shipping in June of this year.
Canon has announced an update to its 50mm f/1.8 lens, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM. Compared to its 50mm f/1.8 II predecessor, the new 50mm f/1.8 STM integrates a stepper motor for quieter autofocus operation, rounded 7-blade diaphragm, a minimum focus distance of 35cm and a metal mount. Best of all, these changes do not come with a significant price hike – the new 50mm f/1.8 STM is only $129, making it the most affordable Canon EF lens on the market. Due to the change in the mount, the 50mm f/1.8 STM gains 30 grams of weight. Performance-wise, it will be very similar to its predecessor.
Sony unleashed the Sony A7 and the A7R in October of 2013. With the Sony A7 aimed for general use sporting a 24 MP sensor and hybrid autofocus, the A7R differs primarily with its 36 MP sensor, therefore making the A7R more suitable for specific types of photography that need high resolution such as landscape, architecture, studio and product photography. I had an opportunity to test both cameras in 2014, however, I did not have a chance to write detailed reviews for a number of different reasons. Hence, this is more of a catch-up type of a review showcasing some images from my recent trips, along with the usual analysis.
Zeiss has been pretty active lately, releasing a number of solid and much needed prime lenses for the Sony FE mount. The first Loxia line is comprised of two manual focus lenses, the Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 and Loxia 50mm f/2 and the second Batis line is even more exciting, with the Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 and Batis 85mm f/1.8 lenses, with full autofocus capabilities. While both lines of lenses are superb in quality and build, the Loxia line is designed to be similar to other traditional Zeiss lenses, with manual aperture control and compact size. I had the pleasure of shooting with both Loxia lenses for the past few months using a number of different Sony A7 cameras and I decided to start off my reviews with the 35mm f/2 lens, which I happened to use a bit more than the 50mm f/2 due to the type of photography I have been primarily engaged in.
If you’re an enthusiastic still photographer who’s started to dabble with video a bit, you’ve likely run into issues with fine visual footage, but substandard audio. Crappy audio can ruin the viewer’s experience every bit as quick as lousy visuals. It soon becomes apparent that your camera’s built-in microphone records not just your subject, but also the camera’s noises (focus motors, VR, heavy-breathing operator) as well as the nearby highway, airport, dragstrip, playground or pig farm. The first step taken usually involves buying a hot shoe-mounted directional mike, AKA shotgun mike. This is great for emphasizing the sound coming from the direction the camera is pointed, but it gets not just the subject speaking or softly purring, but also the jackhammers in the construction site across the street behind your subject. It is a poor choice if you want to record dialogue. For recording talking subjects, the next step is to add a lavalier microphone system. A lavalier microphone, AKA lav, AKA lapel mic, is a tiny microphone that clips to the user’s lapel, collar, or ZZ Top beard. It is very sensitive to sound coming from very close to the microphone and not to sounds further away. Therefore it is ideal for recording the wearer’s words without too much interference from background noise.