Why the Sony RX100 III Point & Shoot is a Vacation Must-Have

Why the Sony RX100 III Point & Shoot is a Vacation Must-Have

Do you agonize over sacrificing quality in favor of comfort when packing camera gear for vacation? I tossed my hefty Nikon D800 aside and rented the Sony RX100 III from BorrowLenses.com for vacation. I wasn’t going to shoot much so if the camera sucked then no harm, no foul. The camera definitely didn’t suck. Sony’s third iteration of an already well-regarded model opened my eyes to just how far point and shoots have come. I didn’t expect to write this blog post so I don’t have very many traditional “camera review” photos. What I have, however, will demonstrate how one can get big results from a camera the size of a deck of cards. Part I: Sample Shots Night Photography They’re no National Geographic contenders but considering that I wasn’t expecting anything from laying my camera on the ground with a 15 second exposure, I am impressed. Being somewhere with very little light pollution (Rarotonga in this case) helps. The noise is bad in the clouds but I am really cranking it at ISO 5000. I didn’t spend time perfecting exposure times but I urge you to take this camera out and test its limits on night sky photography. Capturing average night scenes was fruitful as well. This is where we ate dinner every night. Taken handheld at 1/30th of a second, f/1.8 at ISO 800.The Macro Mode on the RX100 III is pretty good, too – even in low light! Macro Photography I didn’t play with this feature a whole lot but what I saw was promising. It’s no Olympus but that’s hardly a fair comparison. This is a point and...
Part 2: Basic Steps and Lessons of Using Tilt/Shift Function

Part 2: Basic Steps and Lessons of Using Tilt/Shift Function

This is part 2 of a series on tilt-shift lenses. Be sure to also check out part 1: Will Learning Tilt-Shift Lenses Improve Your Photography. John Cooper specializes in corporate, industrial, and commercial photography for various business communities in Texas and teaches basic skills to other burgeoning photographers. If you are just starting out, or looking for a refresher, check out his advice below. You can also read more tips for architectural photography from John on our blog.  Basic Steps for Using Tilt-Shift Controls Select your perspective and lock down your tripod. Making sure you are level to the horizon; compose the scene straight on using the “live-view” mode. Set to bracket exposure. I use one full stop since the light measurement goes crazy with everything moving around. Bracketing with tilt-shift, I feel, is mandatory. Select f/8. Remember that aperture settings do not affect DOF on tilt-shift lenses. If your focus plane has been aligned with the sensor plane, then focusing on that plane will result in total plane focus regardless of aperture. I use f/8 because it consistently produces the sharpest image on the wide angle lenses I use. There are 3 controls and 5 knobs or buttons on all tilt-shift lenses to control everything you do. The Lens Rotation control is the button at the rear of the lens. Depressing it allows the lens to move a full 360° and always remains parallel to the camera’s sensor. Loosen all control knobs and start composing! Throw caution away and have some fun. It will take a long time but you will soon see this “plane of focus” I keep talking about. Compose...
Bird Photography Advice from Nature Photographer David Bernstein

Bird Photography Advice from Nature Photographer David Bernstein

As the weather gets warmer and daylight hours are lengthened, those who have been stuck inside for the long winter months are ready to begin exploring the great outdoors once again with camera in tow.  I caught up with local wildlife photographer David Bernstein to answer a few questions regarding his experiences. Bernstein started out using a humble Rebel series camera and over time grew into being what he calls a “photo-naturalist”, taking pictures of landscapes and creatures large and small. He especially loves photographing birds and has graciously shared a few tips for those of us looking to brush up on our skills or begin a new photographic hobby. Kymberly: How did you get into bird photography? David: My father is a very talented photographer and I guess you can say that his passion for photography rubbed off on me at an early age. He built a darkroom in our house and gave me one of his old Pentax 35mm cameras around age 5.  My favorite things to photograph were squirrels and birds in the yard. For my 7th or 8th birthday he got me a cheap, used 300mm lens so I could get “better” shots of the sparrows.  Fast forward to 2008, after a hiatus from photography, I was taking my dog for a walk in the park and I noticed a really odd/cool-looking duck in the stream. I had never seen a duck like that before and I was determined to figure out what it was.  I went back the next day with my Canon Rebel, which had a 250mm lens attached, and luckily the duck was still there....
Nikon D4s: Thoughts, Test Shots, and Quick Review

Nikon D4s: Thoughts, Test Shots, and Quick Review

Court Leve is a sports, wedding, portrait, and pet photographer. His work has been published in National Geographic Adventure, Powder, Ski, Skiing, Freeskier, Parade Magazine, ForbesLife Mountain Time, Spirit Magazine, Southwest Art, and more. He is a regular contributor to the BL Blog. Nikon D4s: Thoughts, Test Shots, and Quick Review by Court Leve Like most new iterations of Nikon’s pro bodies, the D4s is yet another leap forward in imaging. In my case, coming from a D3s to a D4s ,the improvements are quite noticeable. If you are a current D4 user, the differences will be more subtle but still noteworthy especially for those shooting video. It’s hard to believe a camera can make the D3s feel somewhat antiquated but the D4s does just that. While the D3s is more than capable for just about any situation, the D4s ups the ante yet again. The main areas of improvement are autofocus, low light capabilities, faster frames per second, and better handling. First is the handling of the camera. The added sub buttons are a welcome addition. The reach is shortened and response time quicker when selecting autofocus points.  The body has a few different tweaks and has a great solid feel. The new autofocus is simply amazing, extremely fast and accurate. While shooting a free skiing event I was capturing athletes coming towards me blind over a jump. I was able to instantly capture the skier in mid air while traveling towards me using my 80-400mm at 400mm and achieve nearly a 100% focus accuracy rate. Also helpful was the improved frame rate of 11fps and a nearly non-existent blackout time while...
The Bokeh Effect: How Sensor Size Affects Background Blur

The Bokeh Effect: How Sensor Size Affects Background Blur

Of all the things that photographers argue about in our secret monthly meetings, sensor size and its impact on our work is perhaps one of the most heated topics that can come up. From the true “bigger is better” snobs (“Sensors? Bah! 8X10 film is where it’s at!”) to the ones who prize portability above all (“Micro-Four-Thirds rules!”), the debate between advocates of MFT, APS-C, and full-frame sensors often reaches religious fervor. Contentious topics related to sensor size include resolution, high-ISO performance, and dynamic range, but the quality and characteristic of bokeh, or out-of-focus backgrounds, is perhaps the most fiercely contentious. While there’s no contest that the bigger sensors can clearly produce much smoother and, well, blurier (not a word, I know), it’s also an unfair statement that the smaller sensors like the ones in Olympus and Panasonic Micro-Four-Thirds cameras can’t produce good bokeh. The Prerequisites Now, before you get into this article, if you have questions about what crop sensors are, how they work, etc., you want to read a few of these articles: Tip of the Week: Understanding Sensor Crop Factors, Part 1 Transitioning from Point-and-Shoot to DSLR: Understanding Full Frame vs Crop Frame Sensors Best Wide Angle for a Crop Sensor Camera These articles will give you a good understanding of what crop sensors are, and what using a crop sensor camera implies, for the most part. In this article, we’re going to drill down to one specific thing. We will take a look at just how the size of your camera’s sensor affects the bokeh characteristics of your image. To do this, we devised a pretty...
The Elegant Simplicity of Building a MyPublisher Photo Album

The Elegant Simplicity of Building a MyPublisher Photo Album

For professionals and hobbyists alike, photo books are usually on our to-do list and get postponed because they’re often expensive, take time to build, and the quality is unpredictable. They are worth making because they can be awesome keepsakes or portfolios. There is something about the tactile experience of flipping through the pages of a real book. Swiping on an iPad just isn’t the same. I am on the hunt for a great photo book company. Here are my personal observations after trying out MyPublisher. The Elegant Simplicity of Building a MyPublisher Photo Book by Alex Huff Photo books often fall into two camps: kitschy scrapbook or modern minimalist. When tasked with a MyPublisher review, I was hesitant at first. I didn’t want to take the time to learn the ins and outs of building a good portfolio book and I also didn’t want to be limited to decorative “themes” for events I don’t have pictures for (think “baby shower” embellishments). I’m relieved to say that MyPublisher does it all, to one’s taste, and easily. Workflow: MyPublisher Book Maker To get started, you will need to download the MyPublisher Book Maker for either PC and Mac. Here is my quick takeaway on using it: The Pros: Drag and drop functionality. Integrates with your local files and folders (and, in their recent update, with your Facebook account if you opt for it). “Check Price” button to make sure you aren’t going over your personal budget (I LOVE this). Ability to share your finished project with others for review. Small program that doesn’t take up a lot of space (around 32MB)....
BorrowLenses’ Guide to Lighting Sync Cables

BorrowLenses’ Guide to Lighting Sync Cables

Strobes are triggered from your camera to fire every time you hit the shutter button in the following ways: Transmitters designed specifically for that strobe that you connect to the camera, usually via your camera’s hot shoe. Radio transmitters that you connect, usually with small sync cables, to the strobe and to the camera. Long sync cables that physically connect your strobe to your camera. Your camera must have a sync-in port, located usually near the mount or on the side of the body. The following kits come with their own transmitters: Elinchrom BX-Ri 2 500Ws Monolight Kit with Skyport EL Transceiver Profoto D1 Air 500Ws 2 Monolight Studio Kit with Air Remote Bowens Gemini 500R 2 Light Umbrella Kit with Pulsar TX Radio Remote Elinchrom Ranger Quadra Head A Pro Set with Skyport EL Transceiver Broncolor 1200Ws Two Litos Monolight 22 Kit and Senso Power Pack with RFS 2 Transmitter Broncolor 2400Ws Two Litos Monolight 42 Kit and Senso Power Pack RFS 2 Transmitter Otherwise, your strobe or monolight will come with its own 1/8 (or 1/4)-PC sync cable to use with your camera. Small flashes do not come with sync cables. The following kits/strobes do not come with their own transmitters nor do they come with their own sync cables: Profoto B1 500W/s AirTTL Battery Powered Flash Profoto B1 500W/s AirTTL Location Kit Profoto B2 250W/s AirTTL Location Kit They accept 1/8 sync cables but operate best with their own transmitter, which much be rented separately: Profoto Air Remote TTL-C Transmitter for Canon Profoto Air Remote TTL-N Transmitter for Nikon Connecting Strobe and Camera All kits and strobes will come with...
Fuji X-T1: First Impressions

Fuji X-T1: First Impressions

One of the most eagerly awaited cameras of the year arrived earlier this month, and I took some time to put it through its paces. A more detailed review will follow, but I’ve worked with it long enough to put forth a few first impressions. The tl;dr version of it is this: the Fuji X-T1 is the best camera Fuji has ever made, and is the best mirrorless camera on the market. In my personal opinion, anyway. I’ve been a Fuji fan since the X100s came out, and eventually started using the X-E1 and X-E2 as my primary stills cameras (with a D800E for specific projects requiring high megapixel images and the Canon 5D MKIII for video). When the X-T1 was first announced, I looked at the images leaking onto the web and my first impression was, “WTF??” Looking at it, you can see that it kind of harkens back to retro SLR cameras. To me, it looks a bit like a blunt-top version of the Fuji STX series of film SLRs, and at least at first, it wasn’t something that caught my attention the way the rangefinder aesthetic of the previous X cameras did. Then I got one in my hands and my first thought was, “uhhh… what…?” On the one hand, this is most definitely a Fuji camera. It has loads of dials means you rarely have to drop into a menu once you set it up right. There’s a nice, firm heft to it that we’re used to with the X-E and X-Pro series. It’s small and light despite feeling dense. It is, in other words,...
Get a Gear Education from Pro Photographers at SmugMug Academy

Get a Gear Education from Pro Photographers at SmugMug Academy

Knowing what to expect from a camera or lens is tricky, which is why renting is so invaluable to photographers big and small. However, it’s still hard to know what you’re getting even when renting, which is why we’re stoked about SmugMug Academy – a simple and personal review site put together by people who are passionate about photography. It maintains the core values of SmugMug by providing a resource maintained by folks who actually shoot from subjects ranging from landscapes to kids sports. You do not have to have a SmugMug account to take advantage of the reviews. The page is designed to inform and is open to everyone. Each review is equipped with a bio about the reviewer so that you can get a sense for who they are and what they like to shoot. This can help you divine if a piece of gear is right for your style of shooting. SmugMug Academy is more than just reviews. You can get business tips, shooting guidelines, and video tutorials there, too. Think of SmugMug Academy as the site equivalent of just being able to ask your photography friend, “Should I rent this lens?” BorrowLenses.com has not asked these photographers to write in any particular way, rent certain items over others, or to boast certain gear as being favorable. They are photographers writing about our gear as they see it from their own shooting experiences in a simple and honest way and they review items as they use them for real events like vacations, hockey games, or candids. Keep this page handy for future reference. It is being...