The Fuji X-E1 – Some thoughts and impressions

March 13, 2013 by · 6 Comments
Filed under: Reviews 

Last year, not long after it came out, I bought a Fuji X100 because I was intrigued by the promise of a small, rangefinder-like camera with a fixed 35mm lens. I liked the idea of being forced to shoot with a specific field of view; I loved the look and feel of the camera; and it’s hard to beat Fuji’s lens and image quality. What was easy to beat, at the time, was the X100′s autofocus and clumsy menu system. These issues were so frustrating that I sold the camera not long after I bought it. I came to mildly regret this decision as Fuji released firmware updates that addressed many of the issues that had bothered me, but didn’t think seriously about returning to the camera. But with the release of the Fuji X-E1, I couldn’t resist giving Fuji another chance. Here are some of my impressions and thoughts about Fuji’s latest mirrorless camera.

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New Lynda.com Course: Foundations of Photography – Specialty Lenses

January 9, 2013 by · 5 Comments
Filed under: Features 

Mostly, good photography is about the skill of the photographer. That said, a lot of photographs are only possible with the right type of lens, and there are a lot of lenses out there tailored to very specific types of shooting. In this new course, I go into detail on how to shoot with ultra-wide-angle lenses, super telephotos, fisheyes, Tilt/Shift, and more. If you’ve been wondering if any of these types of lenses are right for you, or you’ve already got one and want to know more about what it can do, then you’ll want to check out my Lynda.com course Foundations of Photography: Specialty Lenses.

Shooting on the Road, from Gear to Workflow

July 17, 2012 by · 7 Comments
Filed under: Features 

Better gear won’t necessarily make you a better photographer, but having the wrong gear can certainly make it more difficult to get the shots you want. In this 3-hour Lynda.com course you’ll see my entire thought process as I equip and prepare for three different kinds of shoots. Through examples of heavyweight, mid weight, and lightweight shoots, you’ll see how I tackle the problems of choosing shooting gear, power, storage, and post-production equipment. You’ll also see how I strategize methods for carrying all this stuff. Discussing everything from tripods to bags and batteries, this course is ideal for anyone who shoots while traveling, and wants a better plan for selecting the right gear. Click here to get started watching now.

The iPad, the HyperDrive, and the Traveling Photographer

July 28, 2011 by · 7 Comments
Filed under: Features 

Like a lot of photographers, I like gear. Lots of gear. Sometimes I think that I like gear because buying new gear is easier than trying to take a good picture. But still, I buy more. But when it comes time to actually travel somewhere, all that gear presents a bit of a quandary. The sad fact is: while I like gear, I don’t like carrying it. When traveling, I used to carry a rather full kit – lots of lenses, flashes, anything I might possibly need. But these days, even for extended travel, I tend to go pretty stripped down. Usually just two lenses, no flash, possibly a lightweight tripod. On a recent 3-week trip to Turkey, I decided to go even more bare, and travelled with only a small backpack as my only luggage – both for clothes, and camera gear. Needless to say, this presented a bit of an issue in terms of gear choice.

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An Easy Way to Try Out Micro Four Thirds

May 2, 2011 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Features 

If you’re not already familiar with Micro Four Thirds, you should be. A standard camera spec that offers a nearly perfect compromise between the size of a high-end point-and-shoot, and the image quality and shooting flexibility of an SLR, Micro Four Thirds might be the perfect companion for your SLR, or high-end point-and-shoot. (You can learn all about Micro Four Thirds – what it is and why you should care – here. The best way to find out if Micro Four Thirds is right for you is to try it, and that’s now easier than ever thanks to Borrowlenses.com, which now rents Micro Four Thirds cameras and lenses. Check out their offerings, rent a camera, and see if Micro Four Thirds is right for you.

Is the 13″ Macbook Air A Good Laptop for the Digital Photographer?

November 11, 2010 by · 21 Comments
Filed under: Features 

I travel a lot, and when on the road I typically carry several cameras, a computer, my Kindle, all the associated chargers, cords, extra hard drives and other accoutrements necessary to move my digital world with me. If there’s any room left over, I also consider taking clothes and those other secondary items. Needless to say, my bag’s heavy, so I’m constantly looking for ways to lighten it. For the past couple of years I’ve been carrying a 13" Macbook, which has been a great computer, and fully capable of everything I need for months-long excursions. But it was very difficult not to note the new 13" Macbook Air upon its release. More specifically, to note that it weighs 1.5 pounds less than my 13" Macbook. What wasn’t obvious was whether it was enough computer to handle a digital photo workflow. So I bought one. Here’s how it stacks up.

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What Will You Shoot On Your Summer Vacation

July 16, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Features 

We’re well into summer now, and as you head out on vacation, you’re probably packing your camera. Or, if you’re like me, you’re packing four or five camera. Whether you’re just getting started in photography, or you’ve been shooting for a long time and have a closet full of gear, planning what to take, and what to plan for can be complicated. In this article, I offer some tips and advice on how to plan your summer vacation shooting.

Wacom Cintiq 21ux

May 4, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

As I’ve said before, anyone who performs a lot of image editing needs a pressure-sensitive tablet, and no one makes better tablets than Wacom. A lot of people, though, don’t like the coordination of drawing in one place while looking at another. For these people, Wacom has long sold the Cintiq line of screen/tablet combos. These are LCD screens that have a built in pressure sensitive tablet.

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Revisited: Do you need a full-frame sensor?

March 29, 2010 by · 11 Comments
Filed under: Features 

Five years ago, I wrote this piece on whether you should buy a full-frame or cropped sensor digital camera. At the time, cameras with a full-frame sensor were substantially more expensive than cropped-sensor cameras, and a lot of people believed that, eventually, cropped-sensor cameras would be phased out and replaced by more affordable full-frame cameras. Five years later, we’ve seen that that’s not going to happen, but the question remains: do you need full-frame or is a cropped sensor camera okay?

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Why You Need a Pressure-Sensitive Tablet

March 17, 2010 by · 5 Comments
Filed under: Features 

Over the years, I’ve found that photographers tend to fall into two categories: those that edit heavily, and those that rarely edit at all. Of course, this is a generalization, and most users do some kind of editing. But in general, it seems like photographers either edit heavily, or they simply try to work with what comes out of the camera. If you’re the type who edits heavily, then you should seriously consider getting a pressure-sensitive tablet. For re-touching, cutting masks, or performing any painting-based edits, a tablet can make your editing process much easier, and even enable some edits that are impossible, or extremely difficult, with a mouse. If you’re not clear why you might want a tablet, here’s a detailed discussion of the advantages, and a look (with video) at the new Wacom Intuos 4 Wireless tablet..

Some new photo gadgets

March 8, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

As many of you probably know, it isn’t easy being a nerdy gearhead. Oh sure, exploring and mastering a new gizmo isn’t too hard, but keeping your gizmo fix satisfied is not only expensive, but time consuming. Fortunately, with the recent spate of photo-related trade shows, there are a number of cool new photo gadgets to consider. Here’s a quick look at seven photo-related hardware accessories that you might want to consider.

Choosing a tripod

March 4, 2010 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Reviews 

You may think you’re a camera geek, but if the thought of a new tripod or head doesn’t get your palms sweaty, then you still have a ways to go to plumb the true depths of your photo-related nerd potential. Personally, I have two tripods, a couple of heads, and a fairly large assortment of smaller stabilization gizmos, and yet it’s always hard to walk past the tripod section at the camera store without stopping to feel the weight of this tripod, admire the new composite material of another tripod, or test the latest locking levers on still another tripod. If you don’t have a tripod fetish, then choosing a tripod might be something of a mystery, as it may seem like little more than three sticks joined at the top. But oh, a tripod can be so much more.

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Build Your Own Network Attached Server (Drobo)

February 4, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Features 

I’ve been writing about digital photography for a long time, and I’m not sure how many times I’ve written something to the effect of: “one of the great things about digital photography is that you can shoot and shoot without having to pay for film and processing.” And while this is true, it completely ignores the fact that you still have to pay for disk storage. As your image archive grows, choosing a storage strategy can become fairly complicated. I recently found what I think is an ideal solution, in the form of a do-it-yourself Network Attached Server called an unRaid. My unRaid has many of the best features of other systems such as RAIDs or Drobos, but for far less money.

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The Mac Netbook Revisited

January 30, 2010 by · 13 Comments
Filed under: Reviews 

With Apple’s announcement of the iPad, there’s a lot of talk lately about the "death of the netbook." But for the photographer, a netbook is still a much better alternative to any other portable option. Smaller, lighter, and cheaper than a typical laptop, a netbook provides plenty of storage for offloading images, but can run the same software that you use on your everyday computer. In addition to replacing your digital wallet-type device, having a real keyboard and connectivity options make netbooks capable terminals for the traveling photographer. If you’re a Mac user, though, you won’t find any netbook options from Apple. However, it’s now easier than ever to hack certain netbooks to run the latest version of Snow Leopard.

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Luma Loop – A Radical Camera Strap Re-Design

January 20, 2010 by · 41 Comments
Filed under: Reviews 

You wouldn’t think that there’s much you could do to change the design of a camera strap. Oh sure, you can build it out of better materials, and make the strap easier to attach or detach, and maybe make one strap that’s more fashionable than another. But actually creating a truly different strap, one that functions in a different, better way? That’s a tougher call, because a camera strap seems to be a fairly basic piece of gear. But, Luma Labs has proven that even something as seemingly simple as a camera strap can be given a radical new spin, and dramatically improved. For your consideration: the Luma Loop.

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Panasonic Electronic Viewfinder for the GF1

December 8, 2009 by · 5 Comments
Filed under: Reviews 

While the Panasonic GF-1 Micro Four Thirds camera is a great option for SLR or point-and-shoot users, photographers who are used to an optical viewfinder – especially those shooters coming from an SLR – might find themselves frustrated by the camera’s LCD-only viewfinder. For these users, Panasonic has created a clip-on electronic viewfinder that serves as a credible replacement for a quality optical viewfinder, though with a few caveats.

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Panasonic DMC-GF1

December 1, 2009 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: General, Reviews 

Panasonic’s DMC-GF1 marks the company’s first release of a compact Micro Four Thirds camera, and a direct competitor to Olympus’ E-P1. Offering SLR quality and power in a package that’s close to point-and-shoot size, the GF1 (and Olympus’ E-P1) defines an entirely new class of camera. Bridging the market between high-end point-and-shoots, and SLRs, the camera will appeal to beginning shooters who want to expand their capabilities, and high-end shooters who want a second camera that’s easy to carry. Read my Panasonic GF1 Review.

Should You Buy an Olympus E-P1 or Panasonic GF1?

November 27, 2009 by · 14 Comments
Filed under: Reviews 

It’s been a while since an entirely new niche of digital camera has come along, but with the release of the Olympus E-P1 and the Panasonic DMC-GF1, that’s what we have. These "Micro Four Thirds" cameras represent the first significantly new class of camera since, possibly, Canon’s D30 SLR in 2000. With their small size, interchangeable lenses, and sensors that are larger than what you’ll find in a point-and-shoot, they offer a new option for SLR shooters who want a smaller second camera, but don’t want to give up too much image quality. Conversely, for point-and-shooters who are ready to move on, but don’t want to hassle with the weight of an SLR, a Micro Four Thirds camera might be just the ticket. But which of these two cameras is right for you?

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Choosing A Starter Camera

November 20, 2009 by · 12 Comments
Filed under: Features 
Canon PowerShot SX120 IS

If you’re looking to buy a starter digital camera – either for yourself or as a gift – then you might be surprised to find that your options are fairly limited. Now, I know what you’re thinking: "Are you crazy?! Every time I go into Best Buy there’re huge piles of little point-and-shoot digital cameras!" While this is true, there are very few of those that I would consider a "starter" camera. "Starter" implies that this first camera will be a start – that you’re looking for a camera that will be a jumping off point, and that you (or your gift-ee) might want to learn from this camera, and one day move on to something more advanced. Here’s what you should buy, and why.

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UPstrap – The Ultimate Camera Strap

November 10, 2009 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Reviews 

Upstrap

I’ve been using an UPstrap on my SLR for a couple of years now, and have previously posted about how it’s possibly the best camera accessory I’ve ever used. While something as seemingly simple as a camera strap may not sound like much to get excited about, once you use the UPstrap, you may find yourself becoming something of a camera strap connoisseur. (Or even more fun, a camera strap snob.) A whole new batch of UPstraps have been released, offering the UPstrap advantage to cameras of all sizes. Read on to find out why you might want to give up on your stock camera strap.

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