Yes, we’re talking about the big ‘C’ word and for once, we don’t mean Covid! Christmas is not that far away so now’s the perfect time to start thinking about gifts for friends, family, loved ones and don’t forget yourself!
Did you know that the majority of photographers are inspired to get into photography by receiving a camera as a gift? No, we didn’t either but if you want to nudge someone in the direction of a photography hobby then Christmas might be the ideal time to do it. However, a problem many come across is the price of a camera/lens as they can be rather expensive and as a result, turn into a rather extravagant gift. In fact, research suggests that 66% of people believe the cost of kit is the primary barrier for people who want to get into photography but MPB want to bring down the barriers by encouraging consumers to buy second-hand.
“MPB wants to encourage consumers to give a present that is good for the planet as well as the wallet, and gift used this year,” MPB.
Photography as a hobby doesn’t have to cost a fortune or the earth and MPB offers used cameras and lenses in perfect working condition for as little as £34.
Whether you’re buying for a student looking for something more professional or a loved one who loves family photography – MPB has thousands of products for all skill levels.
Here are MPB’s top gifting recommendations for both professionals and beginners this Christmas:
If you have more cash to spend then a kit pairing such as the Nikon D750 with the Nikon AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G IF-ED could be the ideal present for the photographer in your like. Ideal setup for an advanced photographer who wants to cover most needs in terms of focal length and performance. The Nikon D750 Digital SLR Camera sets a benchmark for DSLR technology. The impressive mix of technology and performance makes it an agile camera ready for any scenario. Paired with Nikon AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G IF-ED – its versatility makes it a hit with all professionals, and a vital tool for any photographer’s kit.
To shop more products, visit the MPB website where you can also trade in your own kit.
Folio.ink is a browser-based platform that allows users to easily upload and share galleries of images without the need to purchase a membership or even create a login.
Folio.ink was founded by Michael Connors, who is also the founder of MorgueFile — a platform that allows users to share and download free stock photos. As an advertising veteran of 25 years, Connors built Folio.ink to help him send images to his coworkers and soon realized the potential of a simplified photo-sharing platform.
“Folio.ink is a straightforward, elegant, design-based solution to a common problem, with tremendous potential,” says Connors. “Think of it as a micro portfolio platform.”
The platform can be accessed on a website browser — either on desktop or mobile — and users can instantly start uploading images. Each gallery is limited to 50 images and expires after 90 days but owners can choose to manually delete the gallery earlier if desired.
All images are uploaded in a single album and can be viewed by others using the URL for that specific collection. A portfolio can be viewed in a full-screen or gallery thumbnail mode.
If images are viewed in a full-screen mode, users can flick through the album with a mouse scroll or with the arrow key on a keyboard. If the album owner has enabled the “Polling” option, album visitors can click to “vote” or favorite an image, with results made visible to the gallery creator.
Gallery owners also receive access to an owner-specific URL, which can be used to return to editing the folio at a later time, such as to rearrange or delete the images or to share the presentation. Share options include an email and cell phone number form which can be filled in on the platform, quick Facebook and Twitter share buttons, and a link that can be directly copied and pasted.
Although the platform is currently free, the terms and conditions of the website state that the company reserves the right to implement a charge at its discretion. Should that be the case, the platform will post a notification and lists any fees. The company also reserves the right to not be held responsible if a user believes any of their images are displayed, distributed, and used unlawfully, and explains that such claims need to be resolved by the user themselves.
To access Folio.ink, visit the company’s website. An example user gallery can be viewed here.
Leica has partnered with Japanese collectible company Medicom Toy with a limited edition Bearbrick toy. The cartoon-style bear will be available in three sizes and features iconic Leica camera iconography, but it won’t take photos.
Originally teased on Weibo and announced in full in Zeek Magazine (and spotted by Leica Rumors), the Bearbrick (stylized [email protected] by Medicom) is a new single product line of Leica M themed toy bears that will be available in limited quantities only in China.
The collaboration was designed by Leica’s David Suh and the chief designer at 3125C Mike Lam and features a look that draws heavily from Leica’s M cameras.
Like just about all of Medicom’s Bearbrick figures, the base design of the bear remains the same while the patterns are painted on. In the case of the Leica collaboration, the front of the bear features the Leica lens mount and lens cap as well as the rangefinder diopter while the rear shows “Leica Camera Wetzlar” next to other side of the diopter and above a rendition of the back of modern digital M rangefinders. The bear will be mainly silver and black but will also have the signature red Leica logo emblazoned on the front of the bear “as a tribute to the legendary M-system rangefinder camera in the history of photography,” right below its neck.
The bear will be available in three sizes: 100%, 400%, and a much larger 1,000%. The standard size is seven centimeters (about 2.8 inches) tall, which is considered 100% in MediCom’s Bearbrick size charts. 1000% figures are therefore 70 centimeters (about 28 inches) tall and 400% figures are 28 centimeters (about 11 inches) tall.
In this case, the 100% and 400% sizes also ship with an “exclusive” Leica camera strap and “multifunctional camera bag.” The 400% size bear is actually similar in size to an actual Leica rangefinder, and the associated bag can also be used with Leica M system camera and with “some” lenses.
Because it can fit in a sling bag, Zeek writes that this will be the first cross-back product in the history of Bearbrick. For some, this will make the 400% bear a particularly desirable and “trendy” street accessory.
The 1,000% size bear is set to retail for 25,000 yuan (which is about $3,863) while the 400% and 100% sizes are sold as a set and priced at 12,800 yuan (about $1,978). The Leica M Bearbrick collaboration toy will be available starting on August 10 exclusively in China.
Known for combining functionality with aesthetics, Olympus is also synonymous with innovation. Their unique features, great design, and ergonomics result in an increasing flow of photographers, both young and old, from other brands to their stable.
There are lots of articles on Fstoppers extolling the virtues of different cameras and brands. I’ve noticed comments from Olympus users that their cameras’ unique features are often forgotten. I’ve tried to redress that by featuring articles about superb Olympus photographers like Rob Cottle and Ethan Beckler.
Putting the Arguments into Context
Olympus’ Digital History
Along with Panasonic, Olympus recognized the future was with interchangeable lens cameras sporting electronic viewfinders, and so they became pioneers of mirrorless systems, switching entirely to Micro Four Thirds (MFT).
That early adoption places them well ahead of the competition with the development of high-performance mirrorless cameras. As the iceberg of doom tears away below the DSLR waterline, other brands are now jumping that sinking ship. Running for the mirrorless lifeboats, they are a long way behind Olympus’s head start.
What About Noise?
As sensors have improved, the noise disadvantage that was brought by those smaller sensors has diminished to an irrelevance when photographing within normal parameters. With the arrival of outstanding noise reduction software such as On1’s NoNoise AI and Topaz Denoise, even working at those rarely needed, extremely high ISOs becomes achievable. As you will see later, Olympus has also found a cunning way of getting around long-exposure noise too.
The Depth of Field Argument
One of the criticisms Micro-Four Thirds faces is the greater depth of field. Detractors always ignore the benefits of that; there are two sides to everything in photography, a benefit for every disadvantage.
Landscape photographers often want more depth of field, and so, they reduce the aperture size. Olympus (and Panasonic Lumix) can achieve the same DOF with wider apertures, removing the image softness issue of diffraction that one would see with full frame at their necessarily small apertures.
Additionally, in areas like portraiture, wildlife photography and macro, there can be too little depth of field. Full frame photographers have to stop down to get more than just the eyes in focus; having eyes sharp but a fuzzy nose tip and ears isn’t that great a look. With MFT, that greater depth doesn’t require a smaller aperture.
Nevertheless, shallow DOF is perfectly possible with an MFT camera. The shooting parameters are different, but it is still achievable, and Olympus Zuiko lenses produce lovely bokeh.
Why Photographers Are Buying These Cameras
The photographers I’ve met that use Olympus have been a mixed bag. Firstly, there are the exciting young art photographers. They want the convenience the smaller Micro Four Thirds system bring, better image quality than their phones deliver, plus the style that isn’t apparent in chunky-clunky DSLRs. Then, there are those of us who travel and do outdoor activities, where small size, low weight, and weather-sealing is all important. Additionally, there is the older photographer who no longer wants to lug around heavy gear because it hurts. There are also the technology enthusiasts, who like to push their photographic boundaries using advanced features. At the other end of the scale, there are those who just want a small, convenient, and easy-to-use system to take snaps.
Olympus’s Unique Selling Points
Here are some major features that you might not know about that give Olympus cameras the edge over others.
1. Live Composite
An easy way of understanding Live Composite mode is to imagine shooting the same image repeatedly and combining the shots as layers into one image. Any subject with the same lighting remains unchanged in the final image. However, new brighter light is added. For example, if you start shooting a subject in the dark and then gradually light paint it, that light painting will appear in the final image. Another application is shooting lightning. The camera will continuously update the first shot you took but only add the lightning to it.
Although not what this is designed for (see Live ND below), I’ve used this technique for simulating the effect of long exposures of moving water. Because moving water is white, it adds that extra light to the original shot, thus smoothing it out. With Live Composite, you can watch the image develop on the rear screen, your phone, or tablet using the free Olympus Image Share app. That app gives you Live View, focus and exposure adjustments, and remote shooting on the bigger screen of your smart phone or tablet.
A big advantage of shooting long exposures this way is that it negates the noise you would usually get. Instead of one long image, you are shooting multiple fast images where noise is not an issue.
Great for: product photography, real estate, interiors, lightning, landscapes, long exposures
2 and 3. Live Bulb and Live Time
I’m putting these two together as they do similar things. Most cameras have Bulb Mode. However, with Olympus cameras, Live Bulb allows you watch a long exposure image gradually develop on the back screen, and the histogram moves to the right too. This happens while the shutter is held down or is activated through the Olympus Image Share app.
Olympus took this one stage further with Live Time. Instead of holding the shutter down, you press to start the exposure and once more to end it. Of course, these can be activated wirelessly using the Olympus Image Share App too, thus avoiding camera movement.
Output: raw or JPEG
Great for: long exposures, astrophotography and star trails
If, like me, you like to carry minimal kit, shooting with just a camera, a tripod and maybe have a spare battery in your pocket, having up to five stops (ND32) of ND filter built into the camera brings huge benefits.
This setting gives you a preview of how the image will look before pressing the shutter. How it works is a closely guarded secret, but it is similar in operation to Live Composite mode. Consequently, long-exposure noise is still not an issue as it would be with a long exposure using a physical ND filter. When you set the shot up, a preview of the final image is displayed.
Output: raw or JPEG
Great for: long exposures, shooting bright scenes, removing moving objects (e.g. people) from a scene
How good are your reactions? Have you ever just missed that decisive moment? Pro Capture overrides your reaction time by recording and buffering shots to the camera’s memory with the shutter button half pressed. When you fully press the shutter, up to 35 of those buffered frames are recorded to the memory card. If you don’t press the shutter, the memory is cleared.
Output: raw or JPEG
Great for: wildlife, sports, pets, children, theater, action
Olympus cameras use their sensor shift technology to create images up to 80 megapixels in resolution, equal to many medium format cameras. The latest version of this even allows it to work handheld up to 50 megapixels. The camera shifts the sensor by one micron and fires off images in quick succession, combining them into a single image.
Great for: macro, still landscapes, interiors, architecture, product, astrophotography, and still life
The crop sensor means you can get closer to the action with the same focal length. A 300mm lens has the same field of view (effectively, the same magnification) as a 600mm lens.The Canon RF 600mm f/4 prime lens weighs 6.8 lbs / 3,100 g, meanwhile the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm F4 IS PRO weighs 2.4x less at 1,270g. Both contain 17 elements, have 9 rounded aperture blades, and have built-in image stabilization, which on Olympus cameras works in conjunction with the In-Body Image Stabilization. That Canon lens costs just shy of $13,000, whereas the Olympus is under $2,900.
Great for: wildlife, sports, photojournalism, street photography, weddings, travel, outdoor adventure, remote landscapes
Available in all Olympus cameras
9. Close Focusing
Micro Four Thirds allow for much closer minimum focussing distance than larger formats. The lenses can often be pushed beyond their recommended minimum focusing distances too
Great for: macro, product photography, abstracts
10. Telecentric Optical Path
Often overlooked, the design of Micro Four Thirds means that the photons traveling from the lens do so at 90 degrees to the sensor right across the frame. This means that there is no darkening (vignetting) at the edge of the frame as there is with the other systems where the photons hit the edge of the sensor obliquely.
Great for: all photography
11. Shorter Flange Distance
The distance between the back of the lens and the sensor is greatly reduced. For those of us who shoot with vintage lenses, the addition of a simple extension tube without any glass elements will allow that lens to focus to infinity. Adapting vintage lenses with different mounts to fit most cameras means losing the ability to bring infinity into focus, unless the adaptor has extra glass elements.
Great for: all photography
12. In-Body Image Stabilization
Standard in all Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds cameras, Olympus offers up to 7.5 stops of image stabilization, having found a way to overcome the IS limitations caused by the Earth’s rotation. I have managed to handhold a 45mm lens mounted on an old E-M5 Mark II for 1.5 seconds, and the newer cameras perform much better than that.
Great for: all photography
Available in all Olympus cameras
13. Extreme Conditions
Going back to 2010, when Olympus launched the E-5 DSLR, the internet was strewn with images of it being used covered in ice and snow. Since then, the environmental seals of the OM-D E-M1 series of cameras have come even further. The flagship E-M1X has inherited the sealing from the Olympus Tough compacts and is guaranteed to the formal rating of the IPX1 operating environment. The range of operating temperatures is from -10 degrees Celsius (14 Fahrenheit) up to 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) and up to 90% humidity.
Here in the UK, the Olympus team is running interactive live tutorials and interviews twice a week almost every week of the year. You don’t have to be in the UK to join in with these. Furthermore, if you are befuddled by anything your camera is doing, you can book a one-to-one session online with any of their technical experts who will help you get to know your camera.
15. Weight and Size
Have you ever ended up with neck ache from lugging a heavy DSLR all day? With aging populations, older photographers no longer want to suffer sore necks and backs from carrying excessively heavy kit around.
Because Micro Four Thirds have smaller sensors, the camera bodies and lenses are smaller and lighter too. This is great news for those who want to travel with their camera gear. An OM-D E-M1 Mark III weighs just 580 g including the battery and memory card. Add to that the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-200mm F3.5 6.3 (455 g) lens, which covers a huge focal length range, and you have a versatile kit weighing just over a kilo, or 2.28 lbs.
16. Intelligent Subject Detection Autofocus
AI technology in the E-M1 X allows the camera to recognize and focus on and track the eyes of birds as well as a range of vehicles. Further subjects are promised to be added to this function in future updates.
Are there essential, unique features your camera has that sets it apart from other brands? Okay, I know that you will be as dedicated to your brand and format as Olympus users are to theirs. All of the major manufacturers make great cameras, and so, please keep your replies positive and on topic about unique features that you cherish or wish you had.
Images used with permission of OM Digital Solutions.
Canon Rumors claims to have received confirmation from several sources that Canon plans to release an alternative version of its groundbreaking EOS R5 that’s better suited to videography in early 2022. What should Canon fans expect?
Once the initial excitement over the specifications of the R5 calmed down following its release, headlines were dominated by its tendency to overheat, prompting many to question why Canon chose not to incorporate better heat dissipation for those who wish to shoot 8K or 4K HQ video for sustained periods of time. According to the rumors, the R5c slated for next year will address this issue, potentially giving much longer recording times. Given that a company has already started offering a $400 modification service that may double your record times, it’s clear that Canon has options to maximize the R5’s video performance.
This could mean more than passive heatsinks: Canon Rumors suggests that it will feature “active cooling” which, one can assume, might compromise weather-sealing but could make unlimited 8K and 4K HQ recording a possibility. Canon Rumors also mentions that it will have a “slightly different form factor” and offer more video codecs, as well as a full-size HDMI port — all welcome additions for videographers.
Canon Rumors also reports that the announcement was due at NAB in October this year but has been pushed back to the first quarter of 2022.
Would you buy an R5 that’s better suited to video? Does this alternative version explain why Canon decided not to include better heat management in the R5? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Nikon Japan has issued a notice stating that demand for the newly announced Z fc camera currently outpace the company’s production capability. Those who have pre-ordered the camera are likely going to have to wait “some time” before they receive it.
The Nikon Z fc was expected to ship to pre-order customers and be available for general purchase sometime in late July, but according to Nikon Japan — as spotted by Nikon Rumors— it is likely that a good number of those who hoped to have it in hand in that time frame will be disappointed.
Thank you for your continued patronage of Nikon products.
We have received a large number of reservations for the “Z fc” and “Z fc 28mm f / 2.8 Special Edition Kits” scheduled to be released in late July 2021.
For some customers who are currently making reservations, it may take some time before the product is delivered.
We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience caused to customers who are waiting for our products. We will do our utmost to deliver the product as soon as possible, and we appreciate your understanding.
Whether this issue was caused by greater demand than Nikon originally anticipated or if the demand simply outpaces the company’s current production capacity is unknown.
This delay should not come as a surprise as Nikon has struggled with supply issues for the last year and the global silicon shortage continues to wreak havoc on the technology sector. Stock of the Z7 II has been low since it was announced in October of 2020, and the camera is still nearly impossible to find on store shelves (Amazon says buyers should expect a delay of one to two months before new orders for the Z7 II can be fulfilled). Dealers have been sending out what products they receive as soon as stock arrives, and it is rare to see the camera listed for immediate availability anywhere. In May, Nikon DX DSLRs and lenses weren’t being restocked and some were even being discontinued.
Earlier this year, Nikon warned that production volume may dip as Japan entered yet another wave of coronavirus infections, which certainly did not help Nikon catch up on backorders.
Considering it has been nine months since the Z7 II was announced and stock of the camera is still low, the popularity of the Nikon Z fc may mean that it will be a long time until the camera will be delivered to everyone who pre-ordered it, and even longer before those who did not can find it on store shelves.
Have you seen what’s on the horizon for Canon in 2021? Wow. After a number of comparatively lackluster years, Canon roared back to life in 2020 with the announcement of a few new cameras and a bunch of new lenses. However, there’s a glaring issue that needs to be urgently addressed or it will all be rather meaningless.
With rumors of Canon’s 2021 roadmap reported on recently, it seems the camera giant is not resting on its 2020 laurels and has big plans for next year too, with more RF lenses reportedly coming onto the market. These are seemingly great times for Canon users, and it looks like the good times will just continue.
However, there’s a big elephant in the room that no one seems to want acknowledge, and it will render all these lens announcements utterly meaningless for many unless it’s fixed as soon as possible. What am I talking about? The simple fact that there are scores of people around the world twiddling their thumbs while waiting for delivery of their the Canon EOS R5s. Including me. It’s all well and good to have a wonderful roadmap of lenses ahead, but if there’s nothing to attach those lenses to, then it’s all rather moot for those waiting, isn’t it?
When I ordered my EOS R5 at the back end of July, I fully expected delays. I wasn’t under the naive impression that I would be first cab off the rank and have the Canon in my hands within a week or two. However, we are now in mid-October, and I have absolutely no idea when my camera will get here. Initially, I was kept in the loop by the vendor, but in the last month and a half or so, I haven’t heard a squeak. I don’t really blame the vendor, because they simply pass on the news they get from Canon. So, really, I think Canon has shot themselves in the foot here and taken on orders that they couldn’t keep pace with.
If you take a look at some of the biggest camera-selling websites in the world online, they tell the same story across the board.
This image above is from B&H Photo Video, which says the camera is backordered. Likewise, Diamonds camera in Australia, which you can see in the image below.
In Japan, Map Camera, one of the biggest camera vendors based in Tokyo, also has the same message, seen below.
So, this isn’t an isolated instance where I might have chosen the wrong vendor. This is a common issue around the world where people have ordered the EOS R5 and are no nearer to getting it than they were three months ago. As a result, it’s a fat lot of good hearing about Canon’s exciting new lens roadmap for 2021 if we can’t do anything with them, isn’t it?
Unfortunately, the RF lenses cannot be used on an EF mount body. Thus, people who own the Canon 5D Mark IV, for example, cannot do anything with RF lenses that have been announced or RF lenses they might already have. I’m a perfect example of this scenario. When I made the order for the Canon EOS R5, I also ordered the RF 100-500mm lens and the RF 800mm lens at the same time. They both arrived after a small delay and now sit in a box in my bedroom. Literally.
I’m not in the habit of falling all over gear that I can’t use, so after unpacking the two lenses and giving them the once over, I put them straight back in the box, where they’ve remained ever since. The RF 100-500mm may well be the best lens I have ever owned, but it’s currently collecting dust. In a box. On the floor. And with no adapter that allows me to put those RF lenses onto my 5D Mark IV or 7D Mark II, I actually have no idea how they perform or what wonders they might produce. Wonderful, huh? And worst of all, I have no idea when this might change.
Initially, I felt that I couldn’t show such an unglamorous image here on Fstoppers, but I think it illustrates my point perfectly. My two RF lenses have been relegated to the corner of the room where they compete for dust and space with frames I use for orders, a screwdriver, my old waterhousing, and other bits and bobs. They should be taking pride and place in my camera bag, but alas, they’re not and won’t be for quite a while, I imagine.
2020 has certainly been a strange year, to state the obvious, and you might assign the chaos of the year as one of the reasons for such a delay in people getting their EOS R5s in their hands. I don’t buy that excuse for a second. COVID-19 started in the early part of 2020, around about the same time that rumors of the EOS R5 started filtering out. The news got louder as the middle of the year approached, and then, it was confirmed that the EOS R5 and EOS R6 would be released in July/August. Thus, if Canon had any doubts about releasing the EOS R5/R6 because of the effects of the pandemic, it had ample time to make alternative arrangements. It chose not to.
Indeed, if you look at Canon Australia’s channel on YouTube, there was a blitz of promotional videos released at the same time as the EOS R5 (as you’d expect). Almost every day, my feed was cluttered with reviews and impressions and comparisons of the EOS R5, so Canon obviously had no doubts about getting the camera out for sale and was busy with its mass marketing.
And that feeds into my next point. I find it hard to believe that Canon was simply overwhelmed by the demand for the EOS R5 and was caught short on numbers because of such a surprise. Rumors of the camera started early in the year and simply snowballed into a giant avalanche by the time it was released in August. Everyone knew it was coming, and the internet was abuzz at what it would produce. Therefore, it’s a stretch to imagine that Canon just made a mistake and underestimated how many units it might need for shipment. And here we are now in the middle of October and people are still no closer to getting any answers about when their cameras might come.
On paper, 2021 looks extremely exciting for Canon and its loyal users. A bunch of new RF lenses are in the pipeline, which promise even more features and benefits than ever. However, no EOS R5s in the hands of many after three months of waiting is an issue that needs immediate redress. It’s rather pointless, and even a slap in the face to potentially announce all these new lenses when the body you need to attach them to is in some black hole vortex devoid of information or answers. I certainly hope Canon gets cracking and starts a new shipment batch as soon as possible. Patience is starting to wear thin for many — well, me at least! What do you think? Has Canon kicked an own goal here or will this all blow over before we know it?
In the wake of Olympus’ finalized deal with Japan Industrial Partners to assume control of the company’s imaging business, Panasonic apparently isn’t very hopeful that many of Olympus’ Micro Four Thirds photographers will make the jump over to Panasonic camera equipment.
[Panasonic] were brutally honest in analyzing the MFT market. They do not see a lot of potential in “movers” from Olympus to Lumix MFT. Their assumption is that Olympus owner keep their equipment in hope of light (like Pentax users), move to another system (Fuji?) or go full frame. But they see a market in V-Logging, Instragram/Influencer, Youtuber etc. So they are thinking about a tightly integrated, mobile system which allows to easily create video with a lot of effects and the option to easily cut & share via mobile phone / tablet. Enthusiastic photographers & filmers should move to L-Mount…
Panasonic has for years seen its positioning of MFT as complementary to that of Olympus, rather than as a direct competitor. While Olympus excels at image quality and technological advancements in still image capture, Panasonic has spent the lion’s share of its energy in video capture.
In its last major camera release, the E-M1 Mark III, Olympus put a strong emphasis on image quality. Video clearly played a supporting role in marketing materials and in on-the-ground guided testing. That is not to say that either manufacturer will not release a product that favors photo over video or vice versa, but it does add credence to the belief that both companies believe in different core technology strengths.
Panasonic expanded out of the MFT market with its S series of cameras which both diversified and bolstered its camera line, while Olympus remained set in its ways with a recommitment to MFT. It’s possible to see that refusal to expand as a reason for Olympus needing to bow out of the imaging market entirely, but Panasonic has repeatedly informed us that it does not intend to abandon MFT. And while Panasonic has released several full-frame cameras since its last flagship MFT body, the company will still to this day strongly throw its support behind the format if asked.
UV photography has many obstacles. Ultraviolet light, or light from 200nm – 400nm in wavelength, is notoriously difficult to image with normal camera equipment. A normal digital camera will record images in the visible light spectrum, or 400nm – 700nm in wavelength. To unlock sensitivity to those shorter wavelengths, a camera has to be physically modified to allow passage of light below 400nm.
We over at Kolari Vision achieve this by performing a full-spectrum conversion service to your camera’s sensor. This modification gives most cameras the needed sensitivity to see UV light, but this is only half the battle. We then have to filter out visible and infrared light or else any UV light coming through the lens will be drowned out by the much more plentiful visible and IR light, and the ultraviolet signal we are looking for will be lost.
This is where a UV bandpass filter comes in. A proper UV pass filter will allow ultraviolet light to pass through to the sensor while blocking all visible and infrared light that may contaminate an otherwise purely UV image. The trouble is, UV light is so easily blocked by most camera optics that even small visible or IR light leaks will overpower the UV light and create a mostly visible or IR image instead.
This is also why it’s important to make sure that you are using a lens with high UV transmission, as most lenses block too much UV and end up allowing IR and Visible light to trickle in and take over the exposure.
The Fuji X-T1 Forensics Bundle
We noticed that the Fuji X-T1 forensics bundle included an old B+W 403 UV bandpass filter in their kit built for UV and IR forensic photography. Knowing the limitations of these style UV filters, we set out to test it and see if it actually works for UV photography.
How can you tell if your UV filter is working properly?
A spectrometer will tell you the exact transmission profile of your filter by plotting a graph visualizing just how much light is managing to pass through and at which wavelengths. Another much easier way to verify if your UV filter is doing the job or not is to know what you’re looking for and check the images. We’re going to demonstrate the latter DIY method here with a set of filters to compare.
For this test, we’ll be comparing our Kolari Vision UV Bandpass Filter to another popular UV passing filter, the B+W 403 Ultraviolet. Alongside these two, we’ll also be testing our 720nm Infrared filter as a control to demonstrate what an intentionally infrared image is supposed to look like.
Test number one will be shot with a Canon 50mm f/1.8 II lens on a Full-Spectrum Sony a6400. Test number two was shot with the Fujifilm 60mm f/2.4 Macro lens (also part of the Fuji Forensics bundle) on a Full-Spectrum Fuji X-T2.
Test #1: Snapshots of our parking lot in strong sunlight
We can immediately see a clear difference between all 3 filters, and that the B+W 403 is performing much more like a near-infrared filter than a UV Pass filter. Leaves and foliage are usually highly IR reflective leading to bright if not completely white vegetation in infrared images. While producing some different coloration, the 720nm and B+W 403 both prominently display this property.
Our UV pass filter, on the other hand, creates very dark if not black foliage. We can also see that the most UV reflective object in the frame is the siding of our building. This is likely due to a UV reflective treatment to the siding to protect from long term sun damage. To Fuji’s credit, the 60mm F/2.4 Macro is actually a good lens for UV photography.
Test #2: Sunscreen Lotion
As of late, filming in UV has been a favorite method for companies to advertise the effectiveness of their sunscreen lotion, so we’re using that method in reverse here. If the sunscreen is absorbing UV light, it should appear very dark or black. Though the lotion does glisten brightly from certain angles, our filter is the only one showing UV absorption while the B+W 403 is once again performing more like an infrared filter.
Interestingly, the lotion seems almost transparent when viewed through the B+W 403 Ultraviolet. On another side note, the healing wound on my thumb contrasts much more strongly with the surrounding skin with the Kolari UV Bandpass than it does with the B+W UV or the 720nm IR filters. These characteristics are all very strong indicators of whether or not an image is composed of purely UV light or if it is contaminated with other, undesired wavelengths.
A look at each filter’s spectral response curve as measured by our spectrometer shows the underlying reasons why both of the UV pass filters are producing such different results. Our UV Bandpass filter on the left is blocking enough infrared light to prevent contamination of the image. Due to the much higher sensitivity most sensors have to visible and IR light compared to UV, the out of band signal needs to be blocked VERY strongly. We found during development that even 0.1% transmission peaks could wash out the UV signal.
As you can see from the graph, the B+W 403 Ultraviolet is letting in so much infrared light alongside the UV that it is almost completely overpowering the exposure, leading to what is essentially a near-infrared image. The only way the B+W 403 could be used on its own to create a purely ultraviolet image is in a controlled environment with no infrared light present, or to use it with UV film with no IR sensitivity, AKA how it was initially designed to be used.
Combining this filter with another hot mirror style filter to block the IR signal and allow UV can also work, and we hope this is the recommendation Fuji provided their clients, however nothing provided in the Forensics bundle can be used in combination to make this UV filter work properly. Both the B+W UV/IR Cut MRC 486M filter, and the new Tiffen T1 filter provided in some bundles, block UV light.
See below for some comments on the B+W UV/IR Cut MRC 486M filter provided with the Fuji Forensics kit. Using this type of dual-pass UV filter on a digital full spectrum camera will simply not work for UV photography alone. We shutter to think about how much evidence may have been shot with the B+W 403 and interpreted as a UV signal, when really what was being captured was infrared.
Our 39mm UV Bandpass filter will however work with this forensics kit perfectly and can rescue the Fuji kit. Alternatively, you can order our forensics package designed from the ground up by experts in multi spectral imaging.
B+W UV/IR Cut MRC 486M
One minor point on the B+W UV/IR cut filter included with the Fuji Forensics kit. While some hot mirrors can be used in combination with an old-style UV filter to isolate the UV signal, this one cannot. It is an aggressive UV cut filter that blocks the UV signal, while at the same time not blocking enough IR. We’ve tested this filter against our own hot mirror filter, and show that it lets in much more IR light, and produces worse color accuracy when used on a full spectrum camera. Fuji provides two of these filters for their Forensics kit to use with the included lenses to restore normal color for regular photography, where it simply isn’t the best filter for this application. It is also an interference-based filter, which can change transmission at different light angles, causing a color shift towards the edge of the frame with wide-angle lenses.
If you look at the transmission curve, the B+W 486 filter lets in much more IR light than any normal camera sensor filter. Fuji has started offering the Tiffen T1 IR filter in some bundles which cuts out more IR light, this combined with the B+W 486 should improve color accuracy but we have not tested it ourselves.
About the author: Pat Nadolski is a photographer and technician at Kolari Vision, an infrared camera conversion business based in New Jersey. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Kolari Vision recently announced the Kolari IR ND filter, which it believes to be the best on the market. You can learn more about the company’s service’s on its website. This article was also published here.
There is a phrase that I see regularly pop up on photography forums that I think is horrible advice for emerging photographers or anyone getting started in the image-making business. It is repeated over and over again and while the intent might be good, I think it does a disservice to beginners who don’t know any better.
That phrase of course is “gear doesn’t matter.”
I think the intent of this phrase is to point out that without a solid understanding of composition and lighting, it doesn’t matter what you shoot with, and I agree with that to a point. I see photographers who shoot with insanely expensive gear who’s work I consider mediocre because of the lighting and composition. But I believe that telling a beginner that gear doesn’t matter is not setting them up for success.
Gear absolutely matters. To create great work in any industry, you need the right tools for the job. Photography is no different. If someone is trying to shoot fast action with a slow focusing lens, or headshots with a fisheye, they are going to quickly discover exactly how much the right gear matters.
I have a friend who dabbles in photography. We were at a wheelchair basketball tournament and he turned to me and said, “Man, can you set up my camera so I can get some good shots? Everything I shoot is blurry.”
I took his camera and dug into the menus and got everything optimized for the environment we were in and then tried to take some shots. As the lens hunted to try and find focus and never locked on to anyone, I gave it a closer look and saw that while it was a 70-200mm, it was an f/5.6 lens that had a super slow time to focus. I shoot a lot of athletes and fast action with my 70-200 f/2.8, but that is because it focuses incredibly fast. I gave him the best tips I could provide under the circumstances, but also told him that if he wanted to shoot sports he needed a faster lens. Because gear matters.
And speaking of shooting action, if you are trying to shoot an athlete with strobes and have lights that don’t cut themselves off quickly on the back end, you are not ever going to effectively freeze the action. That requires either a power pack that can cut power at the exact right time or something like the Paul C Buff Einstein lights which accomplish the same thing without an expensive pack. But the Einsteins come with a trade-off because they can’t do high-speed sync. If you can just nail your perfect moment, that doesn’t matter, but if you want to capture a super-fast burst of images all consistently lit with strobes, you need one of those power packs or a light with that quick shutoff that can also handle high-speed sync.
I know I went a little into the weeds with that last example, but that’s the point. There is a reason there is so much gear out there for this industry. Gear absolutely matters when you are setting out to achieve a specific objective, and using the wrong gear can result in missing shots or mediocre results that clients will not accept and the photographer most likely won’t be happy with either.
Another issue with telling beginners that gear doesn’t matter is that it encourages them to waste money on a bunch of junk that they will quickly outgrow instead of investing in a lens that they will continue to use for the next 10+ years. I have 4 lenses for my photography kit. That’s it. And I have never once been in a situation where I couldn’t accomplish a client or personal objective with exactly those lenses. But I knew my style and what I wanted to shoot and got gear that specifically catered to that.
The last photography lens I bought was in 2013, and as I said, there has never been a moment where I have felt like I needed something other than what I currently have in my kit.
Now, these lenses are on the higher end of the spectrum, but I also only have 4 of them, whereas I know a lot of photographers who have a million lenses, but most of them are garbage they outgrew and have no resale value, so they sit on a shelf collecting dust. Probably because at some point early on someone told that photographer that gear doesn’t matter.
So please stop telling beginners that gear doesn’t matter. Tell them that the right gear matters and to not waste their money on gear that doesn’t cater to their niche. That will give them a much better foundation for building their career and working towards achieving the images they aspire to create.
About the author: Rob Gregory is a photographer and advertising director. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Gregory’s work on his website and Instagram.
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