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Vanguard Veo Select 42T – Amateur Photographer

Vanguard Veo Select 42T - Amateur Photographer

Vanguard Veo Select 42T at a glance:

  • £179.99
  • Holds two gripped cameras and up to eight lenses
  • Pockets for 10in tablet and 15in laptop
  • External tripod attachment
  • Measures 42 x 25 x 45.5 cm (external)
  • www.vanguardworld.co.uk

When you need to travel with a lot of kit, roller cases can be a great solution. Most of those designed for photographers take the form of upright, front-opening suitcases, but the Vanguard Veo Select 42T is rather different. It adopts a lower pilot-case style design, has a second top opening for quick access to your kit, employs four wheels rather than two, and comes with a detachable shoulder strap.

Measuring 45.5cm in height, 42cm across and 25cm deep, this case is designed to meet carry-on limits, at least for the more generous airlines. Its four-wheel design lets you keep it close beside you while walking, but means you don’t get quite as much carrying capacity as 2-wheel case of the same size. Even so, its 37cm x 33cm x 16cm internal space will swallow a substantial amount of kit.

Vangard Veo Select 42T fully loaded with kit

The Vanguard Veo Select 42T will accommodate a decent quantity of kit, including two cameras and long telephoto lenses

Vanguard Veo Select 42T key features:

  • Shoulder strap  This offers ample adjustment and has a thick shoulder pad, but there’s nowhere specific to stow it in the bag
  • Tripod holder  A foldaway ‘bucket’ style holder is found on one side, with the tripod secured by a second strap. Alternatively, one can be strapped on top
  • Handle  The sturdy four-section telescopic handle reaches a height of over a metre and is released by a push-button lock
  • Rain cover  A separate waterproof cover is included, but it’s an extremely tight fit and can’t be used with the shoulder strap

One major selling point is that the bag will accept two gripped full-frame cameras side-by-side. It’s also deep enough to take sizeable telephoto lenses. You can fit in a good array of extra lenses, too, along with other accessories such as flashguns, chargers and hard drives.

There’s plenty of scope for rearranging the dividers to accommodate your kit, or to fit in personal items alongside. In the fold-down front lid you’ll find a dual slip pocket that’ll hold a 15in laptop (or 16in MacBook Pro) and a large tablet. There are also a couple of large flat pockets inside the top lid, but no other internal organisation.

Vanguard Veo Select 42T with tweo gripped full-frame cameras

The Veo Select 42T will hold two gripped full-frame mirrorless or DSLR cameras

Various neat touches are dotted around the bag. The front flap has adjustable straps to limit how far it will fold down, and like the top opening, it’s secured by a lockable dual-pull zip.  On the back, there’s a business card-sized window for your contact details. A tripod holder on one side can be stowed away when not in use, while a stretchy water bottle pocket is found on the other.

As we’ve come to expect from Vanguard, the bag is made to an impressively high standard, with plenty of padding to protect your valuable kit. The telescopic handle feels nice and robust, and the wheels roll and rotate smoothly. Both the shoulder strap pad and the top carrying handle are large and well-padded, making it comfortable to handle fully-laden.

The ability to haul the bag over your shoulder when necessary is useful, for example when you need to lug your kit across uneven ground. Just be aware that the bag is somewhat on the large side to do this  regularly. It’s also much more comfortable to carry with the handle on the outside, rather then pressing up against your side or back.

Alternative Vanguard Veo Select wheeled models

Vanguard Veo Select 42T - Amateur Photographer 1

The Vangaurd Veo Select 59T (right) and 55BT (left) are larger wheeled bags that convert into backpacks.

Vanguard also makes a couple of larger roller cases in the Veo Select range, both of which convert to backpacks. The main difference between them is that the 55BT has four wheels and costs £239.99, while the 59T (£249.99 ) has two. Like the 42T, they’re available in either black or green.

Vanguard Veo Select 42T: Our Verdict

The Vanguard Veo Select 42T is one of the most affordable roller cases available, but it doesn’t feel in any way cheap. This is a good-sized and well-designed bag with plenty of neat touches. It’s a great option for the travelling photographer.

Vanguard Veo Select 42T - Amateur Photographer 2

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Essential accessories for video – Amateur Photographer

Essential accessories for video - Amateur Photographer

November 21, 2021

Looking to get into video? Matty Graham is your guide to the accessories that will help make a real difference


More and more photographers are choosing to shoot video alongside stills as they explore the amazing movie-making features that today’s cameras offer. With 4K video, Log profiles and headphone/microphone ports found on even the most modestly priced cameras, it’s no wonder photographers are seeing the potential in video; whether it be at a beginner level to capture footage of the family, or more-professional shooters who want to offer video services alongside their stills imagery.

Whatever level you’re at, there are several must-have accessories out there that can make a huge difference to not only the way you capture video but also the quality of the footage you end up with. For this feature, we’ve shortlisted a range of accessories that cover different jobs you’ll encounter when shooting video.

The great news is that the majority of this kit doesn’t cost the earth, but will add huge value to your workflow and make capturing quality footage even easier.


Atomos Shinobi 5in monitor

l £288 l www.wexphotovideo.com

Atomos Shinobi 5in monitor

Sometimes, the LCD or EVF on your camera won’t be up to the job and so a monitor will provide a big display of your scene and can be used flipped around if you are vlogging. The Shinobi offers a 5in LCD, is lightweight so is perfect with lighter and smaller cameras, and offers a raft of advanced features, such as being able to store and display LUTs on screen.

Connecting to the camera via an HDMI cable, you will need to stock up on batteries when on location, but if you are shooting indoors, there’s a plugged power option, too.


Giottos Rocket Air Blower

l £13.50 l www.wexphotovideo.com

Giottos Rocket Air Blower video accessories

Capturing video out in the field means you’ll be at the mercy of all the dust and debris flying in the wind. It’s only a matter of time before your camera’s sensor picks up spots of dust and suchlike, but a few pumps with this air blower should clear the debris away, leaving the sensor clean and maximising your chances of capturing higher-quality footage. For just over a tenner, it’s a small investment that will make a big difference to your footage.


SmallRig cage

l £60 for Nikon Z 6 l www.smallrig.com

SmallRig cage

Cages do two jobs; firstly, they add an extra level of protection against knocks and bumps, but secondly (and arguably more importantly), they provide a range of mounts and ports that will enable videographers to add extra accessories and create a ‘rig’.

These accessories could be a monitor, an external microphone or additional plate mounts to pair the rig with a tripod or slider rail. They may seem like a luxury, but once you’ve bought a cage you’ll wonder how you lived without it.


DJI RSC 2

l £350 l www.dji.com

DJI RSC 2

If you’re serious about video and want to capture stabilised footage without breaking the bank then the RSC 2 from DJI strikes a great balance between cost and features.

Able to take a payload of 3kg, the gimbal folds away to make it travel-friendly. The gimbal, which tips the scales at just 1,216g, can rest on the supplied tripod foot and boasts an epic battery life of up to 14 hours from a single charge.


Rode GO II Wireless mics

l £230 l www.rode.com

Rode GO II Wireless mics for video

If you want to shoot interviews then you will need two mics to ensure you capture balanced and enhanced audio. Rode makes this very easy with the tiny GO II mics.

Power them up via the USB connection – these tiny units can be used with the supplied lav mics, or you can simply attach them to the shirt of your interview subject via the clip, which doubles up as the attachment that connects to your camera’s hotshoe mount.

As they’re wireless, there’s no cables to trip over and the battery offers up to seven hours of use.


Leadleds Turntable

l £25 l www.amazon.co.uk

Leadleds Turntable

If you’re getting into video to shoot footage of products, then a turntable is an absolute must. With the benefit of a motorised turntable, you can set your product spinning and capture a 360° sequence to show all sides of the product. There’s no shortage of turntables available in various sizes and colours, and prices start from just £25.


Hague Edge Slider Rail

l £198 l www.cvp.com

Hague Edge Slider Rail video accessories

Slider rails enable videographers to introduce smooth motion into what could otherwise be a fairly static scene. These shots work best when there is also some foreground interest to emphasise the motion.

Hague’s Edge slider, which is made out of carbon fibre and has a 1/4in screw and a 3/8in adapter, measures 80cm long, giving videographers a decent amount of space to slide the camera (especially if you’re shooting in slow motion), while keeping the rail portable and lightweight.


Neewer Dimmable LED light

l £90 l www.amazon.co.uk

Neewer Dimmable LED light video accessory

While many videographers prefer natural light, there may be situations when extra illumination is needed. This light from Neewer offers 480 LEDs and delivers a colour range of 3200-5600K, meaning it offers both warm and cool tones.

Operating with a plug or in a more portable fashion via an external battery, the LED sits on a light stand and can be tilted to get the best direction of rays. A dimmer switch enables users to control the strength of light on their subject. It also comes with a carry case.


DJI OM5

l £139 l www.dji.com

DJI OM 5 video accessory

Many videographers choose to shoot video footage on smartphones rather than DSLRs – why not, as most offer 4K – so it can really pay to add a gimbal to stabilise this footage. One of the newest options is the OM5 from DJI.

The handheld device includes a magnetic clip to quickly attach/remove your smartphone, and the built-in extension pole allows the user to shoot footage from further away. The OM5 can pair up with your phone via the DJI Mimo app, enabling you to adjust settings or transfer footage.


Zoom F1 field recorder

l £200 l www.zoomcorp.com

Zoom F1 field recorder video accessory

A great alternative to a radio mic is a field recorder. A lav mic plugs into the recorder, which isn’t connected to the camera and this means you’ll have to sync up the audio when you edit the content on the computer.

The big advantage of the Zoom F1 is that your subject can be really far away from the camera as there’s no Bluetooth link to maintain. It’s powered by AA batteries; you can get 10 hours’ use out of the F1, which records to a Micro SD card and has a built-in limiter to avoid clipping and maintain quality.


Calumet ND8X ND filter

l £40 l www.wexphotovideo.com

Calumet ND8X ND filter

When shooting video, your shutter speed will be locked to a set frame rate (1/100sec or 1/50sec, for example) and in bright lighting conditions it can be a struggle to stop your footage from overexposing.

The solution is to add an ND filter in front of your lens (although some cameras offer built-in ND filters). Good glass doesn’t have to be expensive – this ND8 from Calumet costs just £40 and won’t affect the colour rendition of the scene.


Rode VideoMic Go

l £60 l www.rode.com

Rode VideoMic Go video accessories

When filming scenes where multiple people are talking or for capturing ambient sound, the solution is to add a hotshoe mic to your camera. Great hotshoe mics don’t have to cost hundreds and the VideoMic Go not only costs just £60, but it also weighs just 73g and is powered by connection to the camera so no extra battery is needed.

An integrated shockmount prevents the mic from knocks and a windshield is included to allow use in windy outdoor conditions.


Sennheiser HD 206 headphones

l £25 l www.sennheiser.com

Sennheiser HD 206 headphones

A quality pair of headphones is essential – not only for monitoring audio levels when you’re out in the field but also because they’re comfortable during long editing sessions back at the computer.

Sennheiser’s HD 206 headset represents value for money while still being well built and offering pro features such as an extra 6.3mm adapter plug to pair with the 3.5mm plug and an extra-long cable.


Benro Slim Video Kit

l £120 l uk.benroeu.com

Benro Slim Video Kit

Video tripods don’t have to be heavy, clumsy affairs and this compact model from Benro will allow for a lightweight and portable set-up. The aluminium legs will support up to a 2.5kg payload and features an Arca-Swiss camera plate.

Horizons can be quickly levelled thanks to the anodised twist locks and there is a pan/tilt head to help the videographer make smooth movements when recording video.


Vanguard Alta battery and memory card case

l £14 l www.vanguardworld.co.uk

Vanguard Alta battery and memory card case accessory for video

Video days can often be fast and frantic so keeping track of your batteries and SD cards is essential. This case from Vanguard holds multiple batteries, case and accessories, so you can quickly access them rather than rummaging around your rucksack for a fresh battery. The padded pouch also provides an element of protection to your gear as well.


Lexar Professional SD card

l From £54 (for 32GB) l Lexar.com

Lexar Professional SD card video accessories

Never underestimate how important the quality of your SD is – pick the wrong one and you’ll struggle to shoot higher-quality footage, such as 4K. Lexar offers a range of great cards and the Gold series makes the holy grail of V90 standard, enabling 4K footage to be captured for an extended period of time.

What’s more, the card is available in super-high capacities, such as 128GB, so you won’t need to be swapping out media every five minutes.


Loupedeck

l £220 l www.cvp.com

loupedeck video accessories

Anyone who has edited a large video file will tell you it can be a laborious process but now there is a far better tool for the job than the modest mouse.

The Loupedeck provides shortcut keys and dials to complete tasks such as altering the exposure of your footage in a far quicker fashion. It’s compatible with Final Cut Pro as well as Adobe Premiere, and you can use it for stills editing too.


Matty Graham

Essential accessories for video - Amateur Photographer 3

Matty Graham is a professional photographer and film-maker based in Lincolnshire. Working mainly in the automotive and lifestyle sectors, Matty’s films have netted millions of views on social media channels and his work can be seen at pixel-click.com.

You can also view Matty’s video Essential Video Accessories You Need for Quality Video Creation


Further reading

The best lenses for video

How to use lens aperture when shooting video

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Remembering Tom Stoddart – Amateur Photographer

Remembering Tom Stoddart - Amateur Photographer

November 17, 2021

We are deeply saddened to report the death of Tom Stoddart, one of the finest documentary photographers and photojournalists the UK has ever produced. Tom, 68, died today after a brave struggle with cancer.

His family tweeted: “Tom touched the lives of so many as a brilliant, compassionate, courageous photographer whose legacy of work will continue to open the eyes for generations. He gave voice to those who did not have one and shone a light where there had been darkness.”

Remembering Tom Stoddart - Amateur Photographer 4

Tom began his photographic career on local newspapers in his beloved North East, before moving to London and building a solid reputation as a photojournalist, most notably for his coverage of Desert Storm. He really made his name, however, with his images from the frontline of the civil war in the former Yugoslavia (he was seriously injured by Serbian artillery while covering the siege of Sarajevo in 1992).

His image of Meliha Varešanović, below, striding defiantly down ‘sniper alley’ in the city is now the stuff of legend.

Remembering Tom Stoddart - Amateur Photographer 5

Other notable projects included the famine in Sudan, which generated a particularly harrowing image of a local taking food from a starving child.

Remembering Tom Stoddart - Amateur Photographer 6

Then there was an award-winning photo-essay on the tough training endured by Chinese child gymnasts (below) and coverage of the HIV/AIDS pandemic affecting sub-Saharan Africa, which won the POY World Understanding Award in 2003.

Remembering Tom Stoddart - Amateur Photographer 7

Tom also won Larry Burrows Award for Exceptional War Photography that year, for his coverage of British forces fighting in Iraq. His first major exhibition in London in 2012 attracted nearly a quarter of a million viewers and he received our Exceptional Achievement Award at AP’s awards in 2020. 

“Tom’s work first came to my attention during the mid-1990s through his powerful and moving images of the siege of Sarajevo which were the subject of an exhibition called Edge of Madness at the Royal Festival Hall,” said AP editor Nigel Atherton. “A couple of years later, as Features Editor, I chose his harrowing image of a man stealing maize from a starving child during the Sudan famine as my Picture of the Year. It’s a title that really doesn’t do it justice – it was one of the pictures of the century and to this day I still don’t think a better photo has ever been taken that so graphically conveys the injustice of the world we live in.

Despite the number of truly great images that he created Tom remained modest and down to earth, a man motivated not by the desire for personal glory or self-aggrandisement but by an interest and curiosity about the world and a desire to shine a spotlight on its injustices. He was truly humbled when in 2020 Amateur Photographer gave him our Exceptional Achievement in Photography award (having already won our Power of Photography award back in 1999 for his Sudan images) but it was really no less than he deserved. Tom will be remembered as one of the all-time greats of photojournalism, and one of the true gentlemen of his profession. It was a privilege to have known him.”

Deputy Editor Geoff Harris added: “Like McCullin, Larry Burrows and Philip Jones Griffiths, Tom came from the finest tradition of humanitarian photojournalism – he was tough, brave and totally dedicated to his craft, but was always ready to help younger photographers or journalists in interviews.

He had a wonderful attitude. I once interviewed him and stupidly managed to erase the recording. When I called him back, deeply embarrassed, he chuckled and replied “don’t worry about it. I rarely get upset about little things any more’ and we did the interview again. Everyone who met Tom was touched by him and his photographic legacy will surely be celebrated by future generations.”

Meanwhile features editor Amy Davies, who worked with Tom on several articles, added: “My overriding memory of Tom will be having the privilege of sitting next to him at the most recent AP Awards. There, he was awarded the Exceptional Achievement in Photography award, rightly receiving a standing ovation from the gathered guests. He was there with his beloved wife Ailsa, and both beamed throughout the event. He thanked me for my contribution in getting this award to him, a reflection of his humility – really, with a back-catalogue such as his, it was an inevitability.”

Remembering Tom Stoddart - Amateur Photographer 8

Documentary photographer and regular AP contributor, Peter Dench, was particularly close to Tom.

“In 2000 I was privileged to join the Independent Photographers Group photo agency which Tom was part of. For some unfathomable reason, he took an interest in me and my career. He’s been a constant guide since, edging me onto that path, away from others and personally walking me down some.
As a source of inspiration, Tom’s photograph of Meliha Varešanović walking proudly and defiantly to work during the siege of Sarajevo hangs outside of my daughter’s bedroom.

She met Tom as a kid and I was hoping she would meet him many times as an adult. I’ll make sure she knows everything about him.

He was never a father figure, far more than that… he was to me and I suspect many others, a ‘godfather of photography’ figure. He once modestly remarked: “Pete, there’s no such thing as a guardian angel. There’s stupidity, experience, and luck, and I got lucky, very, very early.” I am very, very, lucky to have known him and utterly devastated to have lost him.”

Watch out for a fuller obituary in Amateur Photographer magazine soon.


Further reading
Tom Stoddart: Documenting Extraordinary Women

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Billingham Mini Eventer review – Amateur Photographer

Billingham Mini Eventer review - Amateur Photographer

It may be pricey, but this shoulder bag brings a touch of luxury, says Andy Westlake

Billingham Mini Eventer at a glance:

  • £380
  • 36 x 16 x 30 cm (external)
  • 33 x 10 x 21 cm (internal)
  • 1.26 kg weight
  • Holds a camera and 3 or 4 lenses
  • Padded pocket for 11-in tablet
  • www.billingham.co.uk

Billingham is one of the best-loved British photographic brands, thanks to its classic-looking yet rugged bags. The firm doesn’t come up with new products very often, so when it does, there’s good reason to take notice. This year’s new arrival is the Mini Eventer, which as its name suggests, is a smaller version of the premium Eventer shoulder bag.

Billingham Mini Eventer review - Amateur Photographer 9

On the back of the bag there’s a document pocket and a luggage strap

Billingham Mini Eventer key features:

  • Shoulder pad  A matching SP50 shoulder pad comes as standard; with the Hadley range, this is a £38 extra
  • Removable insert  The generously padded camera insert can be taken out quickly and easily, allowing the bag to be used for other purposes
  • Luggage strap  A strap across the back allows the bag to be slipped over the handle of a wheeled suitcase for easier transport
  • Weatherproof  Both the main compartment and the rear document pocket are secured by weatherproof zips

Compared to the popular Hadley range, there are a few significant differences. The bag’s main compartment is closed via a dual-pull zip, with a fold-over flap providing extra protection against the elements. This approach provides greater security than the Hadley’s simpler lidded design, if not quite such quick access. The base is covered with a thick layer of leather, which promises even greater toughness and longevity, and accounts substantially for the higher price.

Billingham Mini Eventer review - Amateur Photographer 10

The main compartment has a zip closure, and there are two accessory pockets on the front.

Last but not least, the removable camera insert includes a richly-padded pocket for an 11-in tablet. If you can’t visualise what this means in terms of size, it’s also a perfect fit for your weekly copy of Amateur Photographer magazine. But you can’t quite squeeze in a 13-in laptop, which feels like a missed opportunity in a bag this size. Note the design means that if you remove the camera insert, you lose the tablet compartment at the same time.

In other respects, this is a pretty uncomplicated design. Two good-sized front pockets provide storage for personal items or accessories, while a flat back pocket is ideal for travel documents. The wide strap offers plenty of scope for adjustment for different body shapes and is complemented by a comfortable carry handle on the lid. But there’s no way of fitting add-on end pockets.

Billingham Mini Eventer review - Amateur Photographer 11

You can expect to fit a full-frame camera and three lenses inside, including a telezoom up to 30cm long

In terms of capacity, the Mini Eventer will hold a full-frame camera without a vertical grip, along with three or four lenses. For example, I was able to fit a Sony Alpha 7 IV with 24-105mm f/4, 16-35mm f/4 and 100-400mm f/5-6.3 zooms, with the latter neatly filling the 21cm internal depth. Two smaller primes could occupy the same space.

Billingham Mini Eventer review - Amateur Photographer 12

The Billingham Mini Eventer comes in a choice of five colour schemes

As always with Billingham, the materials and construction are first-rate. The firm’s signature three-layer cotton or nylon canvas boasts a waterproof rubber middle layer, so there’s no need for a separate rain cover. Brass and top-grain leather fittings complete a luxurious feel. The choice of attractive colours includes sage green, navy blue, classic khaki, and discreet all-black.

Billingham Mini Eventer: Our Verdict

There’s no getting away from the fact that this bag is very expensive, but this reflects its sheer quality. You can be confident that it’ll last for years, if not decades, and keep your kit protected from the worst of the British weather. With its winning combination of practicality and style, it could be a great Christmas gift for the photographer who has everything.

4.5 stars

Also consider: the Billingham Hadley Pro 2020

Billingham’s Hadley Pro 2020 remains one of our favourite shoulder bags for its sensible size and capacity, timeless style and impeccable build quality.

Billingham Mini Eventer review - Amateur Photographer 13

The Billingham Hadley Pro 2020 in navy blue

The Hadley Pro 2020 hold a little more camera kit than the Mini Eventer but doesn’t have a laptop/tablet compartment. Available in a choice of seven colour schemes, it costs £260.

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Sony ZV-E10 Review – Amateur Photographer

Sony ZV-E10 Review - Amateur Photographer

Richard Sibley finds out more about Sony’s APS-C camera built with ‘creators’ in mind, the ZV-E10.

Whilst internet forums may ring to the wails of photographers exclaiming ‘I don’t care about vlogging!’ there is a whole generation beavering away over on Web 2.0 documenting every facet of their lives via short videos on TikTok or Instagram, or even live streaming on Twitch.

It is this these, generally younger, creators that Sony is catering to with its ZV-E10 – a camera with a fully articulated screen that can face forwards, a large, dedicated record button and a Product Showcase mode. In fact, it’s all unsurprisingly similar to last year’s ZV-1. Except this time, the 1-in sensor and fixed 24-70mm equivalent lens has been replaced with an APS-C sensor and a choice of lenses thanks to the adoption of Sony’s E mount, which presumably is what the ‘E’ in ZV-E10 stands for.

Sony ZV-E10's articulated 3inch touchscreen

Sony ZV-E10’s articulated 3inch touchscreen

Sony ZV-E10 at a glance:

  • 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor
  • 4K 30fps video recording
  • Built-in 3-way microphone
  • 3inch fully articulated touchscreen
  • Product focus / background blur modes

Although the ZV-E10 camera itself may be new, the technology and design are not. It looks like a larger version of the compact ZV-1, that uses much of the core technology from the more stills-focused Sony A6400 and A6100. What differentiates the ZV-E10 from those cameras is a range of features designed for entry-level video, including a 3-capsule microphone, Product Showcase mode and a Background Blur feature. Video creation is very much at the forefront, with photography playing with the reserve team.

Sony ZV-E10 with the included "dead cat"

Sony ZV-E10 with the included “dead cat”

Sony ZV-E10 Features

With the emphasis on tried and tested technology it is no surprise that the ZV-E10 uses a 24.2-million-pixel APS-C size Exmor CMOS sensor. Sony has been using 24-million-pixel APS-C sensors for a decade now, since we first saw one in the NEX-7, although the ZV-E10’s is no doubt the same more modern sensor that is found in the current Sony A6000-series cameras. It is capable of capturing images at the same 11fps, and whilst the standard sensitivity range is the same covering ISO 100-32,000, the maximum extended setting is ISO 51,200 on the ZV-E10, the same as the A6100 but lower than the A6400’s ISO 102,400.

Sony ZV-E10 Rear screen

Sony ZV-E10 Rear screen

One big difference compared to the A6000-series cameras that might rule out the ZV-E10 for some photographers is that there’s no electronic viewfinder. This is obviously a strategic decision given that the target audience for the camera is most likely more used to looking at a phone screen, and also will be on a more limited budget. As such the lack of an EVF helps to bring the ZV-E10 in at a very reasonable price of £689 body only, compared to £679 for the A6100 and £899 for the A6400. I think this represents very good value for money for the entry-level photographer or videographer, or someone more seasoned looking to try their hand at video for social media.

It’s worth noting that unlike most recent mirrorless cameras, the ZV-E10 lacks sensor-based image stabilisation. Those wanting image stabilisation for stills will be relying on lens-based stabilisation, which is featured in the E 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 OSS kit lens. For video users there is electronic stabilisation.

Sony ZV-E10 lacks in-body image stabilisation

Sony ZV-E10 lacks in-body image stabilisation

Make no mistake, the video that the ZV-E10 records isn’t on par with the Sony A7S III, A1 or even the new A7 IV. But with 4K at up to 30fps, Full HD at up to 120fps and a Slow and Quick Motion mode that allows for time-lapse style video that can be shot as slow as 1fps, there is more than enough for budding vloggers to get stuck in to. In addition, all of Sony’s usual Picture Profiles are featured, except the very video-centric S-Cinetone setting.

Continuing the video theme there are both microphone and headphone sockets, as well as a large 3 capsule microphone on the top of the camera. If you want to improve the sound quality further then there is a Multi Interface hot shoe for mounting an additional microphone, and this can power and act as an audio interface for microphones such as Sony’s ECM-B1M.

Sony ZV-E10 Battery compartment

Sony ZV-E10 Battery compartment

Sony ZV-E10 – 6 Things You Need To Know

  • Imaging Edge Mobile – Images and some video formats can be transferred wirelessly over Wi-Fi, via Sony’s Imaging Edge Mobile app which is available for both iOS and Android smartphones and tablets.
  • Battery – The older Sony NP-FW50 battery is used in the ZV-E10. Whilst it is smaller, it lacks the capacity of the NP-FZ100 that is used in the current A7 series and A6600 cameras.
  • USB-C and HDMI – Both data transfer and charging can be done via the ZV-E10’s USB-C connection, which is found next to an Micro HDMI port on the side of the camera
  • Mode Selector Switch – Instead of a mode dial there is a switch between photo/video/S&Q (Slow and Quick Video) on the camera’s top plate.
  • C1/Background Defocus – A custom button on the camera’s top plate is, by default, used to switch the Background Defocus Mode on or off. When it’s on, the widest possible aperture is selected to blur the background
  • Product Showcase Button – Pressing the ‘Delete’ button in video mode activates Product Showcase mode, which switches focus back and forth between a presenter and an object they may suddenly hold up to show.
Sony ZV-E10 Ports

Sony ZV-E10 Ports

Sony ZV-E10 Build and Handling

As previously stated, the ZV-E10 feels very much like a larger version of the ZV-1. It is fairly compact, has a lightweight, but solid construction that comes in weighing just 343g body only, and it isn’t overly cluttered with buttons.

Sony ZV-E10 next to ZV-1

Sony ZV-E10 next to ZV-1 (right)

The button array seems designed to be non-intimidating to the first-time camera owner, whilst providing enough controls to get key settings changed efficiently, rather than quickly. Anyone who has previously used a Sony camera should feel at home with the ZV-E10, and that goes as much for the menu system as it does the external controls. The camera lacks the front control dial found on more advanced cameras, and forgoes a mode dial, which makes it slower to switch from, say aperture or shutter priority to manual exposure mode. But on the whole it is fairly straightforward and functional.

Sony ZV-E10 Camera, top controls

Sony ZV-E10 Camera, top controls

There is a dedicated video record button and a zoom toggle around the shutter button that can be used either with Power Zoom lenses or as a digital zoom control. Perhaps the biggest feature on the camera is the fully articulated screen. This comes out at the side and can be set front-facing for vlogging, or folded in towards the camera to protect the screen when it is being thrown around in a backpack. In either scenario, it is a better choice for vloggers than the tilt-only screens found on the A6100 and A6400.

Sony ZV-E10 Performance

Image quality wise this is a very tried and trusted sensor that performs well, without ever leaving you speechless. As you would expect the ISO 100-400 settings offer peak performance both for image quality and maximising dynamic range, with ISO 800-1600 showing a drop in quality. But even at the maximum ISO 32,000 setting images are still perfectly useable, particularly with a smartphone screen the most likely destination for the majority of images shot with the camera. The extended settings are acceptable for use on smaller screens, rather than making gallery size prints. Again, there are no surprises here when you consider the target audience and cost of the camera.

Sony ZV-E10 Sample Photo, 1/1000s, f/8, ISO400, -1EV, 21mm

Sony ZV-E10 Sample Photo, 1/1000s, f/8, ISO400, -1EV, 21mm

What is reasonably impressive is the incorporation of Sony autofocus staples, including Animal AF and Eye-AF. The latter excels just as well in video as it does in still images, which again is great news for those who want to turn the camera on themselves. The Active SteadyShot stabilisation works very well for keeping subjects still when shooting hand-held, although it does come at a cost of cropping into the image. For this reason, I would recommend those wanting to vlog at arm’s length opt for the Sony E 10-18mm F4 OSS lens, with its 15mm equivalent field of view. I found this lens to pair nicely with the ZV-E10 in terms of size, weight and AF speed.

Sony ZV-E10 Sample Photo, 1/125s, f/8, ISO400, -1EV, 39mm

Sony ZV-E10 Sample Photo, 1/125s, f/8, ISO400, -1EV, 39mm

But let’s put video aside for one moment and focus on the stills photography. I found the ZV-E10 to be a capable little travel companion, particularly with the compact 16-50mm lens. Set to aperture priority it is easy to make use of the exposure compensation button and Quick Menu to make exposure and colour adjustments, while Face and EyeAF made it ideal for shots of my family. Yes, I missed having front control, exposure mode and compensation dials. But the reality is that it didn’t really slow me down that much, especially as I was using it like many content creators would, as a travel camera.

Sony ZV-E10 Sample Photo cropped, 1/400s, f/11, ISO100, -0.7EV, 50mm (75mm equivalent)

Sony ZV-E10 Sample Photo cropped, 1/400s, f/11, ISO100, -0.7EV, 50mm (75mm equivalent)

Sony ZV-E10 Verdict

Based on price alone the ZV-E10 should prove a very popular camera and may even dethrone the Canon EOS M50 Mark II as the go-to camera for most YouTubers – which is clearly the market and maybe even the specific camera that Sony are aiming at. It also serves as a gateway to purchasing a high-end full-frame camera such as the Alpha 7 IV in the future, as well as any of the 60 Sony E-mount lenses, not to mention the equally numerous third-party options.

Sony ZV-E10 in hand

Sony ZV-E10 in hand

For content creators there are few creative things that the ZV-E10 won’t allow you to do, and beneath its lightweight plastic exterior it packs quite a punch. For photographers it is the equivalent of a modern day point and shoot when left with its rather average kit lens. But paired with a better lens the full potential of the sensor can be realised. The more limited controls will slow you down and they may frustrate at times, but with the extensive feature set, excellent autofocus and an 11fps shooting rate, you will rarely not be able to get the shot that you want.

Sony ZV-E10 Sample photos, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO100, 16mm

Sony ZV-E10 Sample photos, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO100, 16mm

Perhaps the bigger question is where the new ZV cameras leave the future of both the A6000 and RX-series cameras, particularly with the new Sony Xperia Pro-I smartphone featuring a 1-inch type sensor. But that is a discussion for another day.

Testbench Recommended 4-stars

Sony ZV-E10 Specifications

Sony ZV-E10 Sample Photo raw edit, 1/13s, f/5.6, ISO3200, -0.3EV, 16mm (24mm equivalent)

Sony ZV-E10 Sample Photo raw edit, low-light, 1/13s, f/5.6, ISO3200, -0.3EV, 16mm (24mm equivalent)

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Pauline Petit’s surreal portraits – Amateur Photographer

Pauline Petit black and white surreal portraits

October 11, 2021

Peter Dench talks to French photographer Pauline Petit about her graphic and meticulously crafted black & white portraits, awarded second place and the public’s choice award in the Faces themed EISA Maestro 2021 photo contest


The saying goes, if you’re trilingual you speak three languages, bilingual two languages, one language, you’re English and I am very, very English. I have tried to learn; hundreds of hours of Rosetta Stone Russian, scores of meals with German, Spanish and Italian friends; not much has stuck. Being English, I do of course expect everyone else in the world to speak it. French photographer and artist Pauline Petit doesn’t.

I did study French at school. I could tell her my name and ask her what’s on the table or through the window, that’s about it. I still watched hours of her YouTube videos, her energy is infectious. I mention all this in case something gets lost in Google translation.

Pauline Petit black and white surreal portraits

I am confident Pauline was born in 1986 and lives in Doudeville, a small town in Normandy, France. Doudeville is the flax capital of the region where an annual linen festival takes place in June during the season of the blue flowers.

If that sounds like a storybook setting, you’d be right. After working four years at the local tourist office explaining flax to tourists, Pauline wrote and illustrated three books about Linette, a little girl who was born with flax growing on her head instead of hair.

‘When I was young, I dreamed of being an artist, a singer, a painter, a writer. I was already creative. As an only girl, I spent a lot of time alone and had to take care of myself. So I created little universes with my toys. Later, I wanted to become an interior designer but I failed the entrance exam to the art school.

Pauline Petit's surreal portraits - Amateur Photographer 14

So I gave up on the idea of ​​being an artist, and then I started taking pictures,’ explains Pauline. Her first camera was a Fujifilm bridge model, given by her mother in 2004. ‘Then in 2013, I lost everything! My job, my partner, my self-confidence and since I had nothing to lose, I embarked on an entrepreneurship as a professional photographer. Over time, the photos took more and more place in my life. I didn’t decide to be a photographer. Photography imposed itself on me.’

Humour

Pauline started with landscape photography (too scared to work with people) then developed her business by adding wedding photography, family and baby portraits. Her confidence progressed enough to become a trainer in photography and launch the YouTube channel Apprendre La Photo De Portrait (Learn Portrait Photo) before falling in love with portraiture and refining her now inimitable style.

Pauline Petit black and white surreal portraits

Her series, The Graphic Portrait and Figures de Style are inspired by the world of childhood and youthful illustration. The aesthetic is humorous and kooky – like nothing I’ve seen before. ‘You can’t see it, but I’m really shy and to hide my shyness, I make people laugh.

It’s a strategy like any other and then there are so many sad and dramatic images on TV, in the newspapers and even in photo contests. I’m sick of seeing serious pictures. I think the world needs to be positive to get better so I want to create happy images!’ Pauline’s images are happy, accessible and challenging: there are faces of a black Lisa Simpson, chapeaux puzzle, Minion, a René Magritte style and a Wikipedia-inspired face.

Pauline Petit black and white surreal portraits

In a third series, Woman Who Collects Men, Pauline wanted to express an injustice encountered by being a woman in photography. ‘It’s difficult to be an artist- photographer, but I think it’s even more difficult to be a female artist-photographer. For example, one day someone said to me: “Your work is very original, for a woman.”

I wished to express this injustice by offering a counterbalance to the stereotype of the male photographer photographing women. I decided to place myself in the opposite position, of a woman photographer photographing men.’ The men in the collection are shot in profile to accentuate differences – shapes of faces, noses, mouth, skin textures etc.

Pauline Petit's surreal portraits - Amateur Photographer 15

Uniforms, hats, accessories and hairstyles are applied to create a representation of man through the ages: Gentleman, Firefighter, Biker, King, Sailor, Soldier and Commander of the Royal Air Force. Pauline paints each face black to make the look homogeneous.

‘Finally, I post-process faces in the style of fashion photographers: smooth skin, perfect features, impeccable hairstyles, techniques generally reserved for the beauty retouching of women. I post-process all my photos in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop and use split frequency and dodge and burn techniques.

Pauline Petit black and white surreal portraits

I work with a zoom of 300 to 500% and spend about ten hours per photo. I am a perfectionist and if I listened to myself, I would spend even more time!’ she reveals. Pauline sketches ideas for her portraits then buys or creates the necessary accessories. She does the make-up and hair. After the prep, each portrait sitting in her Normandy studio lasts around 15 minutes producing 10-20 photos using a Nikon D750 and 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.

An Elinchrom flash is positioned on the face of the model with a beauty bowl. A second flash is positioned behind the model to obtain an even background. A flash meter is used to calculate an overexposure of +1.3 EV. ‘Regarding the choice of black & white, people often ask me, why? And I answer them: because I always did colour before and I needed to mark a break, to evolve, to move on.’

Pauline Petit's surreal portraits - Amateur Photographer 16

Often the model is Pauline. The Graphic Portrait series are self-portraits, achieving the Public’s Choice Award and 2nd Place overall at the 2021 Expert Imaging and Sound Association Maestro Awards competition, themed Faces. ‘I really want my work as a photographer to be recognised.

It’s a goal, a dream for me. So, I take part in a lot of competitions, I contact a lot of magazines and I work a lot, a lot, a lot, a lot, a lot! The recognition of my work makes me feel good. It gives me confidence. It’s my little revenge for having missed my studies as an interior designer!’

Pauline Petit's surreal portraits - Amateur Photographer 17

New photo series, Hat Heads, featuring characters with atypical hats, and My Beloved Owner, 16:9 cinematographic format portraits featuring women and their dog, have been added to Pauline’s collection. Her first artist’s book is gaining momentum. Pauline’s universe is passionate and childlike, humorous and graphic, rigorous and precise. ‘My life hasn’t always been easy but in recent years, I have had the chance to live a dream with photography.’ And it’s dream photography that translates into all languages.


About Pauline Petit

Portrait of Pauline Petit

Pauline Petit started as a social photographer and is a trainer in photography. Since 2019, her personal photographic work has focused on creating quirky and humorous black & white portraits.

Pauline Petit was born in 1986. She comes from Normandy in France where she lives and works in her studio, called Studio 22. Ever since she was a child, Pauline has been interested in pursuing artistic careers. That’s why she wrote and illustrated a collection of children’s books, before becoming a professional photographer in 2007.

In 2019, Pauline developed a multidisciplinary approach to her personal work, combining illustration and painting with photography. She produces humorous scenes with an aesthetic that’s influenced strongly by graphic design.

This series, The Graphic Portrait, comprises several dozen tightly framed monochrome portraits presented in square format on a white background. It features imaginary, humorous, and surprising characters who challenge and question us, while making both children and adults laugh.

It’s designed to be simple and accessible, so it can be appreciated by everyone. Pauline’s inspirations come from children’s literature and her love of painting and drawing. Presenting a universe that is both childish and light, but also rigorous and precise, she has intelligently combined these two passions to produce images that are halfway between photography and drawing.

Along with all the makeup and hairstyling, she creates the various accessories herself, and then takes the photographs and post-processes them in her studio. And a little reveal: the eight images presented here are all self-portraits. A great example of everything that can be created from a single face! See pauline-petit.fr, Instagram: @paulinepetitphotographie


Further reading

EISA Maestro 2021 international winner revealed

EISA Maestro 2021 UK winner announced

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Victorian travel photographer honoured – Amateur Photographer

Victorian travel photographer honoured - Amateur Photographer

October 5, 2021

A plaque to commemorate the eminent Victorian travel photographer, John Thomson, has been placed on his childhood home in Edinburgh. The centenary of Thomson’s death in 1921 was the catalyst for the commemoration, which follows the restoration of Thomson’s grave in Streatham Cemetery in 2019. Representatives from the Scottish Society for the History of Photography, the RPS, Historic Environment Scotland, curators and photo-historians were present for the plague unveiling.

Victorian travel photographer honoured - Amateur Photographer 18

Betty Yao has campaigned tirelessly to get Thomson’s work more recognition

An exhibition of 94 of Thomson’s photographs, curated by leading supporter/campaigner Betty Yao, is also on show at Heriot Watt University until March 25, 2022.

Thomson is best known for his publications of his travels in Asia and street life in London and for the work he undertook for the Royal Geographic Society in training explorers in photography. He was one of the first photographers to capture Angkor Wat in Cambodia – a trip that nearly killed him – and had unique access to the court of the King of Siam (modern-day Thailand) and officials of China’s Qing dynasty. Ordinary people feature heavily in Thomson’s travel work too.


Victorian travel photographer honoured - Amateur Photographer 19

About John Thomson

1837 Born in Edinburgh on 14 June. He is the eighth of nine children and his father is a tobacco spinner
c1850s Apprenticed to an optical and scientific instrument maker; studies chemistry and mathematics
1861 Becomes a member of the Royal Scottish Society of Arts
1862 Travels to Singapore, where his brother William lives, and sets up a photographic studio
1862-66 Travels in the Far East, visiting Malaya, Sumatra, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), India, Bangkok and Cambodia
1866 Comes back to Britain and publishes his first book, Antiquities of Cambodia
1867 Returns to the Far East, staying in Singapore and settling in Hong Kong. Spends four years photographing the people and culture of China
1872 Returns to the UK and lives in Brixton, London.
1876-7 Works with journalist Adolphe Smith on monthly magazine Street Life in London
1879 Elected a member of the Photographic Society, later the RPS. Opens a studio in London
1881 Queen Victoria appoints him photographer to the royal family
1910 Retires from his commercial studio and lives in Edinburgh
1921 Dies from a heart attack at the age of 84


Enjoy some of Thomson’s outstanding images below and check out the following highly recommended books on China and Siam.

Victorian travel photographer honoured - Amateur Photographer 20Victorian travel photographer honoured - Amateur Photographer 21Victorian travel photographer honoured - Amateur Photographer 22

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Manfrotto EzyFrame Backgrounds Announced – Amateur Photographer

Manfrotto EzyFrame Backgrounds Announced - Amateur Photographer

October 5, 2021

Manfrotto has announced a range of new Vintage style Covers and Kits for the EzyFrame Background System. As a kit, which includes the frame, cover and carry case the price is £429.95, or if you just need the cover, then these are available for £250.95.

From Manfrotto: Manfrotto, the world’s leading manufacturer of photography, video and cinema production equipment announces the launch of six new Vintage style Covers and Kits for the EzyFrame Background System.

These six new background surfaces have already proven extremely popular in our collapsible background collection and are favoured by image makers the world over for achieving a fashionable, hand painted vintage look that subtly complement the chosen subject in a truly portable solution.

Manfrotto EzyFrame Sage

These textures are inspired by this popular choice of background style and take influence from classic and present trends within the fashion, beauty and portraiture industry. They feature six fresh colours with a characteristic classic design and feel, which complement the existing range: Tobacco, Olive, Smoke and Concrete perfectly. Meaning there are now a total of ten beautiful surfaces to choose from in the highly innovative EzyFrame Background system.

The 2m x 2.3m (6.5’ x 7.5’) EzyFrame Background is a large format collapsible background system offering a much larger shooting area than our 5’ x 7’ collapsible ‘pop-up’ style backgrounds. The extra width and height combined with the squarer format offers an increased surface area of over 46% allowing the content creator to pose multiple subjects and use large props. Ideal for family portraits, more animated action poses, fashion and commercial shoots.

Manfrotto EzyFrame Walnut

The Ezyframe Vintage Background features the tried and tested rapid assembly aluminium frame and clip on cover design used on our highly successful Skylite and ProScrim light control kits, Panoramic and Chroma Key FX Backgrounds and StudioLink Chroma Key solutions. Assembled in a matter of minutes the frame and cover packs down into a small rigid carry case measuring only 103cm x 19cm x 14cm (40.5” x 7.4” x 5.5”) making it extremely portable.

The EzyFrame Vintage Background covers include a small 15cm (6”) skirt along the bottom edge that conceals the aluminium frame and allows the user to combine the background with their chosen floor surface when shooting full length images. The background can be supported directly against a wall or freestanding using a light stand with a Manfrotto Griphead (LL LA8446). The EzyFrame Vintage Background is also compatible with the Manfrotto Aluminium Frame Support Kit (LL LA8450).

Manfrotto EzyFrame Backgrounds Announced - Amateur Photographer 23

The backgrounds are available as kits which include frame, cover and carry case or ‘covers only’ for users looking to interchange different surfaces on the same frame.

For more information, visit www.manfrotto.com

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Smartphones for street photography – Amateur Photographer

yoga on the street, seagulls flying smartphone

A smartphone is the perfect tool for capturing life on the street. Amy Davies speaks with three photographers to discover why in this guide


Often the key to good street photography is becoming one with the street. Being as unobtrusive and unnoticeable as possible is the name of the game. As pretty much everyone – photographers and otherwise – has a smartphone in their pocket these days, they have become the perfect way to avoid standing out when taking pictures in public.

Shooting with smartphones allows you to react to situations as they happen, whether you were preparing for a street photography session or not. You will always be ready to photograph the scene in front of you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t improve your approach, which is where our tips will come in extremely handy. You should also find inspiration from the photographs below – all of which have been photographed using nothing more than a humble smartphone.

Black and white Tate Modern turbine hall

Dimpy Bhalotia

Modern smartphones are extremely well-equipped, usually featuring at least two lenses that work well for typical street photography. In this guide we’ll be looking at general tips for shooting with smartphones in a street environment.

It stands to reason that if you’re shooting with your smartphone on the street, you might also want to edit your work while on the go and share it via the plethora of social networking apps currently available.

For that reason, Damien Demolder shares his tips for editing directly on your smartphone, and although there’s a good chance that you already have a smartphone of your own, you’ll find our recommendations for photography-orientated devices at the end of the piece, which you might want to consider next time you’re shopping for an upgrade.


Dimpy Bhalotia

dimpybhalotia.com

An award-winning photographer based in both London and Bombay, Dimpy Bhalotia is best known for her street photography work, all of which is taken using a smartphone – in her case, the iPhone. She is the IPPAwards (iPhone Photography Awards) Grand Prize Winner, and has also won the British Journal of Photography’s Female in Focus Award.

yoga on the street, seagulls flying smartphone

Her work has been published in a variety of international publications including The Washington Post, Forbes, The Guardian, BBC News, GQ magazine, Elle, NPR, The Telegraph and much more. In 2021, she was named as one of the 30 Most Influential Street Photographers of the Year. She focuses more on the philosophy of street photography, rather than getting bogged down in technical aspects – for which a smartphone must surely be perfect.

Look outside your subject

‘Explore the different mediums of art and craft. Read books outside the subject of photography, too. Photographing organically means not just sticking to what you think you already know. Sticking with what you are already familiar with will only suppress the creative vision you have inside.’

street photography dog

Capture the moment

‘Presence of mind with acute observation and perception is the key to capturing moments on the street. For me, that means I make a point of living consciously in the present, with my eyes fixed to the world. When taking pictures, I merge myself into the crowd, letting no moment miss me – this always helps to capture the unpredictable moment.’

street photograph with smartphone woman and pigeons

Know yourself better to develop your own style

‘I travelled a lot around the world and arranged my thoughts together to figure out what makes me happy. As I keep discovering myself, and what I like, it helps me to develop my style. It is very important to understand oneself. Your work always reflects who you are – so make sure to spend time with yourself and let the energy of self-understanding be reflected in your work.’


Damien Demolder

damiendemolder.com

Regular contributor and ex-AP editor Damien Demolder is a keen exponent of using smartphones, being particularly keen on using them for street photography. He says, ‘Smartphones are great for this type of photography as we always have them with us, and they allow us to capture moments we would otherwise just have to look at.

They are not only available when we can’t be bothered to take a “real’ camera but also when it wouldn’t seem appropriate – such as a trip to the doctor’s or the loo (I once shot a man dressed as a chicken in the loo at Stansted Airport once!). Smartphones also help us to blend in, so other people won’t pay us any attention.

smartphone photograph

A “proper” camera can sometimes make it obvious we are photographers, and clearly real photographers don’t use their phone to take pictures – this means you’ll be ignored when out with your phone.’

Keep it straight

‘Street photography often contains some architecture in the background or foreground, and we all know getting buildings straight is very important if we aren’t shooting a dramatic angle. When we are in a hurry we can easily forget this and end up with slightly wonky backgrounds and falling-over buildings.

With the wide lenses that smartphones tend to have, wonkiness will be exaggerated, so do your best to avoid it at the shooting stage. Of course these things can be fixed afterwards, but this means losing pixels and also a crop that your composition may not welcome.

‘Some smartphone lenses are a bit primitive and will distort at the edges, so when you straighten a picture in software you can end up with some strange effects.’

bright yellow building with black and white goat, street smartphone photograph

Be in control

‘Smartphones don’t really understand what atmosphere is, as they are inclined to make happy bright exposures that average people will be pleased with. Learn how to use exposure compensation, if you have it, or to meter from a bright area to influence the exposure. My street photography relies a lot on the way shadows look and I have to take control of the camera to make it do what I want it to do.

I can shoot in Pro Mode that offers raw files and exposure compensation, or tap on the screen in normal Photo mode and drag my finger down to deepen the exposure. I try to work in Portrait mode when I’m just shooting JPEGs, as this gives me softer contrast and more moderate colour that looks realistic.

Left to their own devices, smartphones will produce too much contrast and colour saturation as they want to impress us with impactful images. These are then hard to correct.’

person looking out of plane window

Know the reaction time

‘A lot of street photography is action photography, and capturing exactly the right moment can be critical to the success of the image. Most smartphones have some sort of lag between the shutter button being pressed and the picture actually being recorded, so you need to understand what that lag feels like.

It may vary according to the mode you are using – my phone records the moment before I hit the button in one mode, and well after it in another. With practice I’ve learnt how far in advance I need to hit the button to get the picture I want.

‘I have also come to understand which shots are impossible for my phone to capture, so I save myself stress by not attempting them and concentrating on what it can do.’


Eric Mencher

ericmencher.com

LA-based Eric Mencher shoots exclusively with an iPhone. He says, ‘Back when film was not only king but was really the only option, I was a Leica devotee. An M6 loaded with Tri-X was my constant companion. In today’s photographic epoch, also known as the digital age, I am an iPhone devotee. It is my camera and companion.

Now, I dirty my thumb not in developer, but on my iPhone screen as I select, edit and tone my images using Snapseed, Hipstamatic, and iPhone filters. The Leica was simple and intuitive and the iPhone – for me – follows in that same tradition. While at times I miss my Leica, when I photograph these days I try to take advantage of what an iPhone is and how it operates.’

black and white phone photograph

Explore your phone’s different settings

‘It’s worth exploring the advantages of the different camera modes your smartphone generally provides, including options such as panorama mode and night mode. Shooting at dusk with the camera set on the Vivid filter can be incredibly striking, while the various “lighting” filters in portrait mode can provide a distinctive look.

Spend time getting to know the different options available – both iPhone and Android models will have various modes other than the generic “photo” mode to explore.’

colourful street smartphone photograph

Try shooting one-handed

‘For all kinds of shooting, but in particular, street photography, I use either the native iPhone camera [app] or Hipstamatic. I typically hold the camera in my left hand and use the volume up button as the shutter release.

That makes it a one-handed operation (allowing me to break the cardinal rule that Bresson so vehemently espoused – do not carry parcels), which is much quicker than using the regular shutter button, which requires two hands (and is tricky for klutzes like me).’

black and white strong contrast

Get the exposure right

‘Because the cameras in smartphones typically have very small sensors, it’s imperative to get a good exposure in camera when you can. It’s worth using the exposure lock. For iPhones, you can access this by long pressing on the screen in the native iPhone camera app and manipulating exposure compensation by dragging the slider up and down.

For Android the process is very similar, or you can often access an exposure compensation setting in “professional” or “advanced” modes. If highlights are burned out using a smartphone camera, it’s very hard to get them back – but it’s much easier to get details back from shadows, or darken shadows for added drama. For this reason, underexposing your images slightly – ready for editing later – can be helpful.’


Damien’s tips for editing your smartphone pictures on the go

Editing the street pictures you take with your smartphone is as crucial as it is with pictures you shoot with any camera, so find an editing app you like that offers the controls you need. I tend to use Pixlr and Photoshop Express, as both provide detailed controls of contrast, colour, shadows, highlights and the ability to add ‘looks’ if you want to.

Here’s a shot I took while waiting in the queue for Sainsburys. I liked the shadows of the late afternoon and the structure of the paving, along with the feet sticker and the actual feet. It’s called Social Distancing For Dummies. I didn’t have time to switch to Monochrome mode, so shot it in colour and tried to use the exposure controls to make the most of the shadows. The picture recorded is still too bright though.

social distancing floor signs

Before

1. I took the picture into Pixlr and used the ‘agnes’ preset to turn it black & white. This preset boosts contrast a bit too and showed that the picture is a little brighter than I want. I used the Exposure control in Adjustments to make it a fraction darker (-12).

editing smartphone street photography

2. Now to darken the shadows. Selecting Shadows in the Adjustment menu I pulled the slider all the way down to the left to make the shadows as dark as I could. This worked quite well, but they needed to come down a bit more. Before I did that though I pulled the highlights down a bit (-10) to introduce more detail to the brighter areas where the sun is on the pavement.

editing smartphone street photography

3. I saved these settings and re-opened the Adjustments menu and, returning to the Shadows slider, I again dragged it all the way to the left to make them as dark as I could. This was about right as it gave the shadows plenty of body and added a lot of depth to the image.

editing smartphone street photography

4. Pixlr has a function called ‘auto contrast’. It doesn’t adjust contrast as we might expect. It adds contrast to micro details that crisps things up in a way that appears a mixture of clarity and sharpening. It can overdo things and you can’t regulate the effect so I use it with caution. Here though it has enhanced the texture of the stones and sharpened the edges of the shadows.

editing smartphone street photography

5. When I shot this I was concentrating on getting the sticker straight and didn’t notice it wasn’t level with the paving joints. So I used the rotate tool (1.2°) to partially correct this. On correcting it completely I lost too much of the sticker to the crop and the sticker looked wonky. The partial correction gives the impression things are straight even if they aren’t quite.

editing smartphone street photography

6. I lifted contrast a tad to deepen the blacks and brighten the lightest tones. I generally pull contrast down and use the shadow and highlight sliders to create impact without boosting the very extreme tones; but here, in pulling down the exposure at the beginning of the process I’d created rather grey highlights. This contrast boost adds the sparkle back without losing any tonal detail.

editing smartphone street photography

social distancing floor signs black and white

After


Best smartphones for street photography

Apple iPhone 12 Pro
l £999 l apple.com

iphone 12 pro smartphone

With three different lenses to choose from, you get good scope to shoot street scenes from a variety of perspectives. Also particularly handy for street photography is the way the native camera app makes use of the additional lenses to show you what’s going on outside the frame – useful for spotting the decisive moment. With very little lag and a new ‘ProRAW’ mode, the iPhone 12 Pro is a fantastic creative tool, but it would be nice to have some more advanced shooting options within the native camera app.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
l From £1,149 l samsung.com

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra smartphone

Probably the best smartphone camera currently on the market, this high-end model from Samsung boasts four different focal lengths. The zoom lenses could come in handy for discreet street photography, while the large and bright screen makes composition a delight. We particularly like the extensive native camera app which boasts a number of different shooting options, including an impressive Pro mode which enables raw shooting.

OnePlus 9 Pro
l from £829 l oneplus.com

OnePlus 9 Pro smartphone

Co-developed with Hasselblad, the OnePlus 9 Pro has a lot of useful features for photographers. One of its standout features is the 48-million-pixel main camera which is ideal for picking out fine detail in street scenes. There’s a triple-lens selectable set-up but a fourth monochrome camera is used for creating better black & white shots, which some street photographers might also find helpful.

An excellent optical zoom lens and a range of extensive features in the native camera app, along with a reasonable price, make the OnePlus a smart option for lots of reasons.

Sony Xperia 5 II
l £799 l sony.co.uk

Sony Xperia 5 II smartphone

Taking some of its prowess from its range of ‘proper’ cameras, Sony’s Xperia series includes a lot of appealing features for photographers. The Xperia 5 II is a solid mid-range option that comes in at an attractive price but still has a significant number of high-end specs.

A useful ‘Photo Pro’ mode is comprehensively featured and includes the ability to record in raw format, while functions such as Eye AF can come in handy when photographing people. Unlike some other models featured here, it’s a relatively small size and includes some physical buttons on the side, making it a discreet option compared to some others, too.

Google Pixel 5
l £599 l store.google.com

Google Pixel 5 smartphone

A great-value option, the Pixel 5 is akin to a basic point-and-shoot camera, but it does the job, and does it well. There are only two lenses – which in comparison to others is a little lacking – but you still get wide and ultra-wide options. The fast processor means that there’s very little lag when using the camera, making it well-suited to fast-paced street photography.

You can shoot in raw format, but the native camera app is reasonably simple (and arguably limited). It’d be nice to have a bit more flexibility – plus an extra telephoto lens – but the price makes this an ideal option for those on a stricter budget.

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Essential street photography tips – Amateur Photographer

Essential street photography tips - Amateur Photographer

The Street round of our Amateur Photographer of the Year competition (APOY) is now open, and we can’t wait to see your entries.

In partnership with MPB

Some of the earliest photographs ever taken were of street scenes, so this genre is embedded into the very DNA of photography.

A lot of people want to try street photography but may feel intimidated or self-conscious, or not sure what equipment to use – or indeed what subjects to photograph.

The good news is that this is a very wide-ranging genre, so even if you don’t want to take street portraits, there are plenty of alternatives. Read on for some essential advice and tips – there is also a great guide from MPB here, and an enlightening YouTube discussion on the choice of gear.

Choose your gear carefully
Street photography is forever associated with people in trench coats wielding Leicas, but you don’t need to buy very expensive gear to unleash your inner Cartier Bresson.

Traditionally, street photographers have favoured smaller cameras and lenses as they can work more subtly and discretely, and a shorter lens can be less intimidating for the subject than having a long telephoto stuck in their face.

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More compact camera systems are also less tiring to carry as you walk around all day. Mirrorless systems, such as the Olympus OM-D, Fujifilm X or Sony A ranges, are great choices and you can pick up quality used examples from dealers at great prices. Lens-wise, a 28mm, 35mm and 50mm are classic focal lengths but a longer prime lens, e.g. 85mm or even 100mm equivalent, are useful for distant portraits. Tilting screens come in handy too.

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Street photography and the law
A lot of people are worried about being stopped by the authorities, or even suspicious passers-by, for enjoying street photography, but there is no need to be scared.

Photography and the law can be a complex issue, but UK legislation is quite liberal when it comes to shooting the general public in public places. Problems tend to arise when the location is privately owned – for example a shopping centre. Government buildings and transport hubs can be another issue.

If somebody objects to having their photograph taken, be polite and move on – it’s a good idea to have some business cards with your contact details too, as that tends to put people’s mind at rest. Be cautious about photographing children (unless you have parental permission) and be sensitive to cultural and religious differences. We have a fuller guide here.

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Be prepared to work quickly
If you are shooting in a candid way, you might only have a split second to capture a street scene as it unfolds – a funny juxtaposition or a striking-looking person engaged in an animated conversation. So if you find a promising scene, be patient and be prepared to wait for the ‘decisive moment.’ Modern autofocus systems are great at capturing fast-moving subjects, or you can pre-focus on a particular spot before somebody walks by, for example.

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Ezra Bailey

There is no such thing as bad light
Light is light, so make sure you get the most out of it. While landscape photographers may get up very early to capture the soft dawn light, street photographers can still get great results in strong mid-day sunshine – the prominent shadows and powerful contrast can look great, especially in black and white.

Be sensitive to how the light changes in different parts of the street and don’t get stuck to one spot – street photography should involve a lot of walking. When the light starts to fade, don’t be afraid to push up the ISO on your camera or open the aperture wider. Image stabilisation now enables you to stay sharp at much slower shutter speeds, and a grainy/high ISO shot is always better than a soft one.

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Think about shapes
Some of the best modern street photographers, such as Alan Schaller, are very skilled at capturing interesting graphic shapes, often in quite a minimalist way. So think about angles, lines, striking blocks of colour and so on – even the most uninspiring town usually has these if you look for them hard enough.

You often need a wider-angle lens to soak up a graphically striking street scene; this kind of imagery can also work very well in black and white, particularly on a dull, overcast day

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Watch the backgrounds on portraits
If you are more interested in street portraits, don’t be afraid to go up to an interesting person and ask permission to take their photo. The worst that will happen is that they say no.

If they agree, choose a suitable aperture; a wider aperture or longer lens will make it easier to blur out the background. Shooting in Aperture Priority mode is ideal for this.

Focus carefully on the eyes and watch out for distractions in the background like rubbish bins or signs sticking out of people’s heads. Striking up a conversation as you shoot will help subjects to relax and not pose quite as much.

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@ellptr

Become a people watcher
You don’t always need to walk around; often you can great photos watching the world go by as you sit outside a café or bar. A tilting screen makes it even easier to take shots without anyone noticing!


Further reading
Street photography essentials

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