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,...
The Ultimate Lightweight Camera for Night Photography

The Ultimate Lightweight Camera for Night Photography

David Kingham is a landscape photographer with years of experience photographing the night sky. He is constantly searching for the ideal lenses and cameras for shooting the stars under a variety of conditions. Kingham seeks out great equipment for star shooters of every level with budgets large and small. In this review, he tackles the problem of weight. Find out if diminutive heavy hitters, like the a7 and Df, are worth their weight in night time shooting prowess. The Ultimate Lightweight Camera for Night Photography by David Kingham Weight is the enemy of every hiker and backpacker. I spend my days hiking to remote locations in the mountains and desert. The weight of my gear is always a burden even though I have minimized what I carry. When Sony announced the a7R and a7, I was excited beyond belief. It sounded like the answer to all my prayers! Then Nikon came out with the Df, yet another lightweight option! What to do? I put them to the test, side-by-side, of course. Other Night Photography Heavy Hitters To compare these results with other Nikons, take a look at my previous post where I test out the best Nikon for night photography. Keep in mind the Df has the same sensor as the D4. The Nikon D610 is another good lightweight choice, and you can see why in this post. I have been shooting with the Canon 6D with great success and highly recommend it for night photography. I included it in this test as a baseline since I consider it to be one of the best on the market, plus...
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...
Microadjustment for Lens and Camera Front/Back Focusing Issues

Microadjustment for Lens and Camera Front/Back Focusing Issues

All lenses and cameras that return to one of our two headquarters are tested and cleaned by our Receiving Team. Sometimes a lens, in particular, will go out on a rental and need to be replaced by another one from our stock because of focusing issues. The majority of these re-tested lenses end up having nothing wrong with them. Here is an explanation for why this happens and how you can dig deeper into the settings of your camera so that you get the most out of not only rental lenses but your own stock of glass as well. Mass Manufacturing and Range of Accuracy All cameras and lenses are manufactured within certain tolerances. This means that a camera or lens is considered in spec if it falls within a certain range of accuracy. Every manufacturer is different. Sometimes a lens that is front or back focusing +/-3 is considered within normal operating quality. Other manufacturers are more stringent. What Is Front/Back Focusing? Front focusing is when the focus falls in front of your intended subject and back focusing is when the focus falls behind your intended subject. Most of the time this is caused by the user. Barring user error, a lens could be tested at -2 and back focusing slightly or tested at +1 and front focusing slightly. Both are considered within the range of normalcy. Cameras compound the issue. Sometimes, a lens can be back focusing slightly and that is not a problem. But if it is mounted on a camera that is also back focusing slightly then you are now shooting outside the range of spec....
BorrowLenses’ Guide to Syncing Transmitters with Strobes

BorrowLenses’ Guide to Syncing Transmitters with Strobes

This guide is for the following kits: 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 If your strobes are not firing with their transmitters right out of the bag, here are some things to look for: 1) Batteries Kits with transmitters come with batteries, typically 3v lithium. If you drain a transmitter battery while the kit is in your care and you have to use one of your own batteries please send us the dead one when you return the kit. Turn off the transmitter when not in use (where applicable). 2) Connection to Camera Transmitters need to be connected to your camera in one of two ways: • Hot shoe if the transmitter has an integrated hot shoe mount with middle connector. • Sync cable if your camera has a PC port and the transmitter has a 1/8 port. 3) Synching Transmitter with the Strobe Strobes and power packs need to be synced with their transmitters. Sometimes they are already synced to the channel you want. However, if your transmitter needs to be re-synced, see the following for how to do this: • Elinchrom BX-Ri 2 500Ws Monolight Kit with Skyport EL Transceiver – Page 14 • Profoto D1 Air 500Ws 2 Monolight Studio Kit with Air...
Sony RX10: Thoughts, Test Shots, and Quick Review

Sony RX10: 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. Sony RX10: Thoughts, Test Shots, and Quick Review by Court Leve Coming from a background in SLR cameras, and owning a number of point-and-shoots over the years, it was interesting to have a chance to use the new Sony RX10. It’s the first ‘bridge’ camera that I’ve used and I was somewhat skeptical about how it would perform. In short, this camera is very impressive and makes for a great all-around camera and an excellent choice as a travel camera. The RX10 is easy to use in either full automatic or manual modes. The design is simple to navigate with the most commonly used controls quickly accessible without having to dive into menus. If you have used the RX100, the RX10 will be a short learning curve. Even if this line of camera is new to you, it will still be a pretty quick study with shutter speed, aperture and ISO controls in logical places. Even when I needed to navigate the menu system it was very straightforward. I used the camera in a number of different situations ranging from a conference in extremely low light, landscape images, portraits, and on my recent trip to Cabo, Mexico. For my trip, I brought my RX100 along with my Nikon D800 with a number of lenses but I wound up only using the RX10 while traveling. The size, weight,...
The Nikon Df: Thoughts, Test Shots, and Quick Review

The Nikon Df: Thoughts, Test Shots, and Quick Review

Jay Cassario is a wedding, engagement, and portrait photographer with additional passion for landscape and star photography, which has earned him publications by National Geographic. He is a regular contributor to SLR Lounge in addition to the BL Blog. The Nikon Df: Thoughts, Test Shots, and Quick Review by Jay Cassario The Nikon Df is a very unique camera. With its vintage look and highly praised sensor, it had a lot of photographers drooling over it before it even hit the shelves. It also had its critics ripping it apart. It can’t be fairly compared to the D800 or the D4 – it’s not meant to be a D800 or D4. Call it a “hipster” camera if you want but there is a lot more to it than just a pretty retro exterior. The Df takes you back to the film days of the 70’s and buried underneath all of those fancy dials is one of the greatest sensors ever produced by Nikon. The sensor used in the Df is the same FX-format CMOS sensor with EXPEED 3 engine that is in the flagship D4 but at about half the price (as of this writing). While it lacks some of the features of the D4, the Df’s combination of exceptional image quality, industry leading low-light capabilities, and vintage looks makes it a special camera that not only takes amazing photos but leaves you feeling a little more like a true photographer, however romantic that may sound, with every click of the shutter. Disclaimer: I shoot both Canon and Nikon but I won’t be making any comparisons to the Canon bodies I own. I actually sold my...