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Posted 05/03/21
Visual storyteller Paola Franqui, aka Monaris, shares her portrait photography tips when taking pictures of strangers through reflections. Which tips are new to you, and which will you be applying to your own photos? Share them in the Comments section, below, along with any other recommendations you may have.
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Posted 05/02/21
Jake Estes and the B&H team explore the creative possibilities of lighting with the Lupo Kickasspanel. This RGBW LED Panel from Lupo has definitely earned its name, with features that allow you to customize the lighting to fit your needs. Would you use this on your next film or video production? Let us know in the Comments section, below.
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Posted 04/27/21
To some, there’s little that's more perfect than the fast 35mm prime lens. It’s a staple focal length in any lens lineup and a go-to lens for many photographers working in a wide variety of genres. It’s an important lens for Sigma, and the company has just released its latest iteration, with the  35mm f/1.4 DG DN Art lens. Available for L-mount and Sony E mirrorless systems, this lens is a fresh take on the popular focal length, featuring a wholly new optical design, a new focusing mechanism, and a trim, lightweight build. Considering how much Sigma has updated with this lens, you might be hard pressed to believe it’s Sigma’s fourth 35mm lens for mirrorless cameras. It’s been nearly a decade since Sigma reorganized its lens lineup, updated its optical and physical designs, and coined the Global Vision Series. This announcement, in 2012, came with the introduction of the 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens—this fast wide-angle prime was the very first lens of the now-revered Art series of high-end lenses, and is still one of the most popular lenses from Sigma today. No doubt this lens still holds its own, but Sigma has recognized that it’s becoming a bit long in the tooth, specifically because it was designed and released for use with SLR cameras. Now that mirrorless is king, Sigma saw the opportunity to update this flagship of sorts with the all-new, fully revised 35mm f/1.4 DG DN lens. Flowering trees make the perfect subject to show off the shallow depth-of-field control of the f/1.4 lens. So, with this all-new design, what exactly does the new DG DN version of this prized lens bring? The updated optical layout includes two SLD elements, one FLD element, and two aspherical elements—in short, this just means that chromatic and spherical aberrations are well-controlled, sharpness is nothing short of hugely impressive, and colors are accurate, clear, and punchy. A Super Multi-Layer Coating is used, too, which is a technology carried over from the past but, nonetheless, still manages to keep contrast high in various lighting conditions. It also features an 11-rounded-blade diaphragm, for that smooth bokeh you know you want, and a minimum focusing distance of 11.8" for working with close-up subjects. The 35mm focal length is great for spontaneous captures of a couple of curious visitors at the Botanical Gardens. In terms of physical changes from Sigma’s past 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM, this is where the new lens stands on its own. To begin, the DG HSM version was built with SLRs in mind, but later introduced for use on Sony E and L-mount mirrorless cameras by including a mount adapter. It was a working solution but added unwanted length and weight to the lens to make up for the difference in focal flange distances between mirrorless and SLR cameras. This DG DN version of the 35mm f/1.4 has been created specifically for mirrorless cameras (hence the brand-new optics) and no longer has an unnecessarily long or weighty build. Using the lens’s close-focusing capabilities and fast aperture to highlight the punchy colors from spring flowers. Among other differences, this new 35mm lens also sports a stepping AF motor, which moves just a single focusing element, to achieve fast, quiet, and precise focus performance. Compared to an HSM (Hyper-Sonic Motor), the stepping motor is smaller, quieter, and better suited for the smaller dimensions of the lens, as well as the multimedia usage more associated with mirrorless shooters. Additional differences relate to handling, including a manual aperture ring that can be de-clicked, a programmable AFL button, and a smaller and lighter-weight form factor.   Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG DN Art Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Sigma 35mm f/1.2 DG DN Art Sigma 35mm f/2 DG DN Contemporary Aperture Range f/1.4 to f/16 f/1.4 to f/16 f/1.2 to f/16 f/2 to f/22 Optical Design 15 elements, 11 groups (1 FLD, 2 SLD, 2 aspherical) 13 elements, 11 groups (1 FLD, 4 SLD, 2 aspherical) 17 elements, 12 groups (3 SLD, 3 aspherical) 10 elements, 9 groups (1 SLD, 3 aspherical) Focusing System Stepping motor Hyper-Sonic Motor Hyper-Sonic Motor Stepping motor Minimum Focus Distance 11.8" 11.8" 11.8" 10.6" Lens Controls AF/MF switch AFL button Aperture ring with de-click switch AF/MF switch AF/MF switch AFL button Aperture ring with de-click switch AF/MF switch Aperture ring Aperture Blades 11, rounded 9, rounded 11, rounded 9, rounded Filter Size 67mm 67mm 82mm 58mm Dimensions 3 x 4.3" (L-mount) 3 x 4.7" (L-mount) 3.5 x 5.4" (L-mount) 2.8 x 2.6" (L-mount) Weight 1.4 lb (L-mount) 1.7 lb (L-mount) 2.4 lb (L-mount) 11.5 oz (L-mount) You’ll notice the chart isn’t just comparing the new 35mm f/1.4 to the old 35mm f/1.4, and that’s because the 35mm lens is a popular option for Sigma. Oddly enough, the 35mm f/1.4 is the third option specifically designed for mirrorless cameras and is going to sit in the company’s DG DN lineup as the all-arounder 35mm. It’s lighter but slower than the super-fast 35mm f/1.2 DG DN Art and a bit heavier but faster and more optically refined than the sleek 35mm f/2 DG DN Contemporary. In my opinion, the 35mm f/1.4 encapsulates most of the allure of the f/1.2 version, but is a lens that's easier to handle since it’s shaving off a full pound of weight in exchange for being just a third of a stop slower. Compared to the f/2 Contemporary lens, this is a more debatable point for me, and it really boils down to how lightweight you want to keep your kit or how valuable the bright f/1.4 lens is. The f/2 is also an I-series lens, and has the more distinct-looking exterior, whereas the f/1.4 lens has the typical Art build that’s more functional than aesthetic. Using the wide-angle field of view to show off space, distance, and scale. I got to spend a few days with the new 35mm f/1.4 DG DN Art and took time to enjoy the spring weather by visiting some of the more scenic areas in the city, as well as the Botanical Garden. Interestingly enough, when I reviewed the 35mm f/1.2, I also took that lens to the Botanical Garden, and when I reviewed the 35mm f/2, I took that to a similar riverside area. With that information in the back of my head, it helped to figure where the in-between f/1.4 version fits into Sigma’s lineup. It’s certainly much more enjoyable to carry around for a day of shooting than the f/1.2, but it does lag a tiny bit in its ability to isolate subjects against busy backgrounds. Compared to the f/2, the f/1.4 lens really feels like a different kind of lens. It puts you in a different mood that is a bit more structured and less off-the-cuff. Borrowing from what I said about the f/1.2, “I found myself wanting to treat this 35mm lens a bit more like an 85mm. Because of its ability to separate subjects from backgrounds quite easily, I started shooting with it in a method where I would pick on very specific elements of a scene and let the rest fall slightly out of focus.” With the 35mm f/2, I seldom used it at f/2; with the 35mm f/1.4, I liked to shoot at f/1.4 because it offers a unique and desirable effect and quality. The 35mm focal length is a flexible focal length for working in tight or cramped spaces, such as beneath a tree, while maintaining a very natural and broad field of view. After using the 35mm f/1.4 DG DN Art, I can see why Sigma wanted to make this lens, but it also leaves me wondering and surprised that the company hadn’t done this earlier. It feels like such an important piece in Sigma’s lineup, given the popularity of the HSM version, and is much more built for daily use than the more niche f/1.2 lens. Beyond the comparisons and seeing how it slots right into Sigma’s already well-versed 35mm lineup, this lens offers pretty much everything you’d expect from a 35mm f/1.4. It’s a comfortable wide-angle lens with a fast maximum aperture, advanced optical design, and is weather-sealed. It’s exactly what you want it to be, it has few frills, and it is really just built to be that lens you maybe don’t think is so special but for some reason you keep turning to time and time again because it’s just so good. One more flowering tree shot to show off the sharpness of this lens and the shallow depth of field of an f/1.4 maximum aperture. What are your thoughts on Sigma’s bevy of 35mm lenses? Are you excited for this new Goldilocks f/1.4 version or have you already settled on another version? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section, below.
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Posted 04/20/21
Sony has just announced the fourteenth lens to join its coveted G Master lineup: the ultra-compact, ultra-fast, and ultra-wide 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens. Ideal for capturing landscape, architecture, and astronomical subjects, as well as creative portraits and close-ups, this low-distortion prime delivers the optical quality that has come to characterize Sony’s top tier of lenses while remaining impressively compact and lightweight. The new lens is Sony’s widest G Master prime to date. Combine its expansive reach with a fast f/1.8 aperture and you have a lens that is perfect for low-light capture—and especially well-suited for wide-field astrophotography. In total, it consists of 14 elements in 11 groups, with special design consideration paid to combatting the types of distortion that can plague ultra-wide-angle lenses. First, there are two XA (extreme aspherical) elements and one aspherical element to minimize aberration and sagittal coma flare, ensuring accurate image capture. Super ED and ED glass are used to suppress chromatic aberration, and Nano AR Coating II takes care of ghosting and flare. Resulting images exhibit very little distortion and maintain corner-to-corner sharpness, reducing time spent in post. Although most will choose this lens for capturing distant subjects, it can focus as close as 9.8" for creative close-up applications. Two XD linear motors ensure quick and quiet focusing for stills and video. G Master veterans will be surprised by how small and light this lens is. Its design becomes even more impressive when compared to Sigma’s 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Lens, which weighs a whopping 2.6 lb, more than double that of Sony’s lens, which comes in at just a hair over 1 lb. Similarly, its 3.3 x 3.9" dimensions make this a lens that is equally easy to carry on-camera or in a bag. Such a compact and lightweight design makes this lens easily adaptable for gimbal or tripod usage for achieving steady footage. Many of the tactile controls of past G Master lenses are also incorporated into this one, including a customizable focus hold button, a de-click switch for the aperture, and a manual/autofocus switch. A built-in lens hood serves the dual purpose of blocking flare and protecting the bulbous front of the lens from accidental damage. A protective lens cap that goes over the hood is included for when the lens is not in use. Since the shape of the lens is not suited to front filters, a rear filter holder is included and a template provided for cutting custom filters. Like previous G Master lenses, the 14mm f/1.8 is dust and moisture resistant, which makes sense because this is a lens that begs to be taken outdoors. Although you cannot rely on a front filter for protection, a fluorine coating has been applied to repel dust, dirt, and liquids from its surface. Are you excited about Sony’s latest G Master lens? Share your thoughts in the Comments section, below!
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Posted 04/16/21
Photographer Dane Isaac shares his habits to help avoid burnout, with tips on time management, work-life balance, self-care, and more. What steps do you take to avoid burning out? Share them with us in the Comments section, below.
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Posted 04/13/21
Continuing to round out its full-frame mirrorless system, Canon has just launched a trio of RF-mount prime lenses that contribute to this maturing and expanding system. Focusing on the long end of the focal length spectrum, Canon is introducing a fresh take on the popular 100mm f/2.8 macro option, as well as releasing 400mm and 600mm super-telephoto primes for the sports and wildlife crowd. As might be expected, all three lenses are L Series primes, indicating their optical excellence and durable physical designs. Also, in a surprise move, Canon has revealed the development of the EOS R3 —a brand-new full-frame mirrorless model designed to sit between the R5 and 1D X Mark III. More details on the R3 are coming soon but you can read about what we know right here on Explora. The RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM is the first true macro lens for the RF system and is the natural follow-up to the beloved EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro lens for SLRs. Taking the same short-telephoto focal length but upping the maximum magnification beyond life size, to 1.4x, and shortening the minimum focusing distance to 10.6", this new close-focusing prime also features a unique SA (spherical aberration) Control Ring. Canon RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Lens A new feature for Canon, this control ring provides the opportunity to fine-tune bokeh rendering: At one end, images have smooth and blurry bokeh and at the other, imagery takes on a more prominent ring-shaped bokeh. Beyond the optics, this lens has been fitted with an Optical Image Stabilizer, which corrects for up to 5 stops of camera shake, or up to 8 stops when used with a compatible camera body featuring IBIS, and the lens also features a Dual Nano USM focusing system for smooth, responsive, and silent AF performance. © Creative Soul © Creative Soul © Dennis Prescott © Dennis Prescott © Rebecca Nichols © Rebecca Nichols Canon RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Lens sample photos For sports and wildlife shooters, nothing beats a fast and long-reaching telephoto prime, and this is where the RF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM fits in. It’s a versatile focal length with an impressively bright design and uses trusted technology and a proven optical design comprised of fluorite and Super UD glass. In fact, if you were a fan of the EF 400mm f/2.8, there’s a lot of similarities between these two lenses; optically, they’re identical, and physically, the lens has just been updated for the RF mount. Canon RF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM Lens The Optical Image Stabilizer compensates for up to 5.5 stops of camera shake, and the USM focusing system yields snappy AF performance and works with programmable AF preset buttons for faster performance. It’s compatible with the RF 1.4x and 2x Extenders and works with drop-in 52mm screw-in filters. © Tyler Stableford 2x Extender © Tyler Stableford © Tyler Stableford © Tyler Stableford © Tyler Stableford 1.4 Extender © Tyler Stableford Canon RF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM Lens sample photos Even longer is the RF 600mm f/4L IS USM lens, which adds a respectable amount of reach, compared to the 400mm, while being just one stop slower. Cherished for working with smaller or even more distant subjects, this super-telephoto is a choice lens for birders, wildlife shooters, and some sports applications, too. Like the RF 400mm, this 600mm gets its optics from its EF 600mm f/4L predecessor, including the fluorite and Super UD glass that helps it achieve impressive sharpness, clarity, and color accuracy throughout the aperture range. Canon RF 600mm f/4L IS USM Lens The lens has been updated for the mirrorless RF mount and features an Optical Image Stabilizer to compensate for up to 5.5 stops of camera shake, and the USM focusing system offers quiet and quick focusing performance. Both super-teles also sport a rotating tripod mount with a removable foot, both accept the same 52mm drop-in filters, and this 600mm also has the same dust- and weather-resistant exterior for use in harsh weather. © Zak Noyle © Zak Noyle © Zak Noyle © Zak Noyle © Zak Noyle © Zak Noyle Canon RF 600mm f/4L IS USM Lens sample photos What are your thoughts on Canon’s latest RF-mount lenses? Have you been waiting for any of these telephoto options for your RF camera? Let us know your thoughts on Canon’s new lenses, in the Comments section, below.
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Posted 04/12/21
Ever the exciting combination, FUJIFILM has announced the latest high-speed, wide-angle prime: the XF 18mm f/1.4 R LM WR lens. This 27mm equivalent prime is designed for the APS-C-format X Series and blends the versatile everyday wide field of view with an impressively bright design for working in low light and for controlling depth of field. In typical FUJIFILM fashion, too, the lens also features a compact, weather-resistant exterior, a quick linear AF motor, and intuitive tactile controls. This will be the second 18mm lens in FUJIFILM’s lineup, although it’s a very different type of lens compared to the f/2 pancake version. This 18mm f/1.4 is focused on speed, and the bright f/1.4 aperture is a valuable tool for working in difficult lighting conditions while shooting handheld. Another distinction from the 18mm f/2 is a more advanced optical design; this new f/1.4 version has three aspherical elements and one extra-low dispersion element to correct a variety of aberrations that minimize distortion while boosting sharpness and color accuracy. In terms of focusing, this wide-angle lens features internal focusing, controlled by a linear AF motor, affording quick and quiet performance suitable for stills and video. A minimum focusing distance of 7.9" suits working with close-up subjects, and the lens is also fitted with a manual focus ring and a manual aperture ring for intuitive tactile control. Despite not being quite as small or pancake-shaped as the 18mm f/2, this 18mm f/1.4 is still an impressively sleek lens, measuring 3" long and weighing just about 13 oz. It has a weather-sealed exterior and is also freezeproof for working in temperatures down to 14°F. What are your thoughts on FUJIFILM’s XF 18mm f/1.4 R LM WR? Are you in need of a fast, general-use wide-angle lens? What types of subjects would you photograph with this lens? Let us know, in the Comments section below.
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Posted 04/09/21
Visual content creator Kristi Hemric shares her iPhone photography tips to level up your content creation game! Dig deep into Live and Pano modes, try out long exposure, and even turn your phone upside down on your next photoshoot for richer, more creative photos that fit your personal vision. How do you get creative with your smartphone photos? Tell us how you'll incorporate Kristi's tips, and share your own in the Comments section, below!
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Posted 04/06/21
Oozing all the retro style you’d expect from FUJIFILM, the new INSTAX Mini 40 is the latest sleek and fun camera in the company’s INSTAX instant film lineup. Despite its trendy and classic appearance, the Mini 40 is built to be as intuitive as possible for an instant film camera—it’s really just a point-and-shoot in the clearest sense of the term. It’s a stylish camera that’s fun to use, easy to carry, and perfect for producing those oh-so-shareable miniature prints with your friends. The INSTAX Mini 40 is the latest in FUJIFILM’s every-growing line of instant film cameras, and it takes the popular INSTAX Mini film. This small rectangular film format measures 2.4 x 1.8", or roughly about the size of a credit card. Functionally, the camera operates like many others from the INSTAX lineup—it has an optical viewfinder, a 60mm f/12.7 lens, and a built-in flash that works in conjunction with the auto-exposure metering and automatic shutter speed adjustments to help ensure every shot turns out just right. The Mini 40 is also fitted with a dedicated Selfie Mode, which is really just a close-focusing setting for working with subjects within an 11.8-19.7" range, or what amounts to about arm’s length. There’s a mirror attached to the front of the lens to help line up those selfies accurately, too. What else does the INSTAX Mini 40 bring to the table? Its classy, good looks, of course. Fundamentally, the Mini 40 isn’t a dramatically different camera than other INSTAX Mini offerings, but it is a desirable mixture of all the things that make INSTAX shooting so much fun in the first place. What are your thoughts on FUJIFILM’s latest instant film camera? Are you a fan of the retro styling and simple operation? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section, below.
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Posted 03/25/21
Sandra Coan shares her portrait photography tips for creating natural-looking, soft light using strobes. Coan uses this one-light setup in her family and newborn photography. What kind of portrait lighting is your favorite? What do you use to light portraits? Share your own tips and techniques in the Comments section, below, and be sure to come back to BandH.com for many more of our engaging videos.
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