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GOOD ENOUGHTO BEATNIKON’S AWESOME D800?
JUNE 2012 126
t mesavers &power tips Get brilliant shots in half the time! Set up your camera perfectly Nail composition ﬁrst time Exposure tips for pro results
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TRAIN FOR THE OLYMPICS
The Sports Photographer of the Year’s trade secrets
TOP DIAL DECODED
Your easy guide to Program, Shutter and Aperture Priority modes
FULLTEST Olympus OM-D Iconic Olympus OM series gets digital makeover
Give your shots the edge with this core creative skill
Wildlife pro Mark Hamblin on how to beat the blur
ISSUE 126 JUNE 2012
“By taking control of the camera, you are reducing the chances of it getting it wrong” Mark Pain
GET SHARPER SHOTS
BETTER ZOO SHOTS
Turn a family day out into a great photo opportunity!
Contents ISSUE 126/JUNE 2012
GET A MANFROTTO MONOPOD WORTH £24.95 WHEN YOU SUBSCRIBE – SEE PAGE 48
10 Things to Try Right Now Kick-start your creativity by tackling a new subject or technique today, from bird photography to creative abstracts
Your Mission results The winning images from our photo challenge, and why we like them so much
Postcards from the Edge Storm photographer Mitch Dobrowner on his award-winning shots
50 power tips and time savers Your no-nonsense guide to camera set up, composition, exposure and more
Shoot! Expert camera tips and shooting advice to help you perfect your photography
Digital Camera June 2012
66 73 85
The Photo Fixer How to get wonderful zoo shots Photoshop School Expert advice on enhancing photos
Photo Advisor AllyourSLRandPhotoshopquestions answered, plus feedback on your shots
The Digital Camera Interview Top sport photographer Mark Pain on getting ready for this summer’s Olympics
The Shot I Wish I’d Taken Tom Mackie talks about an iconic image taken in the Yosemite National Park
Hotshots Fabulous images taken by our readers
Viewﬁnder Your opinions make for a lively read
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CAMERAS AND GEAR
How We Test... Our in-depth equipment testing and ranking systems revealed
Canon EOS 5D Mark III review Don’t miss our deﬁnitive review of Canon’s long awaited, full-frame SLR
How good is YOUR lens?
The deﬁnitive guide to SLR photography
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Photoshop CS6 Beta We check out the pre-release version of the new photo-editing monolith
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All images: Mark Hamblin
SLR CAMERA SKILLS
Digital Camera June 2012
SLR CAMERA SKILLS
Three easy ways to get eye-catching coastal pics
Decide on the effect you want – blurred or frozen water – and seek out a suitable location and time of day to shoot. The low light of dawn and dusk are ideal for long exposures, while a sunny day is great for capturing action shots using fast shutter speeds.
Steady your camera
Heading to the coast with your camera this summer? Use these tips and techniques from Mark Hamblin to get creative with water shots
ith approximately 12,500km (7,800 miles) of coastline around the UK, there is no shortage of inspiration to draw from when it comes to photographing coastal landscapes. As islanders, we Brits have always enjoyed a close afﬁnity with the sea, but no matter where in the world you live, the ocean can provide masses of photographic inspiration. When it
comes to photographing the coast, water almost always plays a key role, whether as the main subject or more often as the link that brings the various elements of the picture together. Learning how to capture moving water within a seascape is an important skill that will help you get the most from your images. There is a real energy about moving water that adds another dimension to your images, and the way you choose to capture it has a major effect on the emotional response they evoke. The look or feel of the water within the picture is determined
When shooting long exposures, always use a tripod and make sure that you set it up on solid ground so that it doesn’t wobble. Estimate how long an exposure is required for the water to ‘move through’ the frame, and then use a low ISO setting and small aperture to achieve the appropriate slow shutter speed.
Freeze-frame In order to freeze the movement of fast-moving water, you need to set a shutter speed of around 1/1000 sec. You may need to increase the ISO if necessary to 400 or 800 and shoot with a wide aperture such as f/4 or f/5.6. Always make sure that you focus accurately on the most dramatic wave you can see, or alternatively go for the point where the waves are just breaking.
Digital Camera June 2012
SLR CAMERA SKILLS
Top tips… FOR GETTING MORE FROM WATER SHOTS
PHOTO SCIENCE Why this shot works 3
Avoid shooting in the middle ground
Try not to shoot at intermediate shutter speeds of between 1/4 and 1/125 sec. At these speeds, moving water will neither be blurred enough or frozen in sharp focus, and the resulting image will not have the desired impact.
Shoot in either Shutter Priority (Tv or S) or Manual (M) exposure modes for full control of shutter speed. This allows you to set the appropriate speed to achieve a particular effect. In Tv mode the camera will then automatically adjust the aperture to suit.
Slow things down
Use a long exposure to smooth out distracting background water and create a milky effect that is more uniform in colour and tone. This helps to simplify the image and focus attention on the other features that are present in the picture.
almost entirely by your choice of shutter speed. A slow shutter speed will cause moving water to be rendered as a blur and create a milky dream-like effect, while a fast shutter speed can be used to ‘freeze’ the water and record waves in sharp focus.
There are no hard and fast rules here, and it will often come down to the prevailing weather conditions, the light and personal preference. Some people love the
1 This is a well-chosen location with good interest scattered throughout the frame, from foreground to background. 2 The composition is strong – the incoming wave has space to flow through the picture, from right to left. 3 The image was taken in the late evening, when light levels were low, so that a long exposure was possible. 4 An exposure time of 1/2 sec has blurred the waves to give a sense of movement.
milky effect, others hate it, so go with what inspires you and seek out seascapes and conditions that lend themselves to your preferred treatment. As we are lucky enough to live in the age of the internet, you should be able to ﬁnd tons of information online about weather conditions and tide times in your locality. It’s important to check these out for safety reasons too, because no coastal photograph is worth risking your life for – or at the very least your expensive photographic equipment.
Freeze the action
Use a mid to long telephoto lens to hone in on interesting wave formations and make these the main subject of the photograph. You should try to shoot with a fast shutter speed to arrest the motion and reveal the interesting shape and structure of the wave.
You can freeze dramatic movement at shutter speeds of 1/1000 sec or faster
TRY A LENS FILTER
Eliminate glare, extend shutter speeds and balance exposures There are three types of useful filters for shooting seascapes. A polariser helps to reduce unwanted glare, thereby helping to intensify colour and clarity. It also reduces the amount of light reaching the sensor, enabling a slower shutter speed to be set. A Neutral Density (ND) filter will help you to increase exposure times in bright conditions. A three-stop (0.9 ND)
Digital Camera June 2012
is perhaps the best ‘standard’ ND filter to buy. However, if you really want to lengthen the exposure time, consider going for a nine or ten-stop ND. A graduated ND filter will help to balance the exposure between the foreground and the sky. A two-stop (0.6 ND grad) is ideal for shooting seascapes, and can be used with the other filters.
If you like to shoot a variety of images using different styles, the deciding factor will often be light. There’s no point in trying to freeze breaking waves in low light, for example. Similarly, in bright midday sunshine it may be impossible to achieve the long exposures necessary to create a pleasing blurred effect. The key skill here is an understanding of what shutter speed to set to achieve the desired effect. How slow is slow and how fast is fast? Well, this depends on how quickly the water is moving, how close you are to it and to a degree on the lens you are using. But as a general rule you’ll need a shutter speed of 1 sec or slower to produce an effective milky effect (see this issue’s free Shutter Speed Cheat Sheet). By contrast, to freeze the movement in a breaking wave, you should aim for 1/1000 sec or faster. Shutter speeds between these values can produce great results too, so experiment during the shoot and keep referring to your LCD display to get a feel for what’s working best. As always, don’t be afraid to get out there and learn from your mistakes!
PhotoshopSchool PHOTOSHOP BASICS STEP BY STEP
George Cairns shows you how to make selective saturation adjustments in Photoshop Elements WHAT YOU’LL NEED Photoshop Elements 9 or 10
WHAT YOU’LL LEARN How to set up Photoshop Elements to work in a print-friendly colour space and avoid unwanted artefacts by making selective saturation adjustments IT ONLY TAKES 20 minutes
apturing a scene’s colours can be a challenge, especially if you plan to reproduce the image as a print. We’ll show you how to set up Photoshop Elements so the colours you see on screen are the same as those in print. When shooting a landscape you can set your camera to boost the saturation of a photo as it processes it, so that the location’s colours are more vivid. This enhanced colour can help to differentiate between objects in a landscape and even draw the eye to particular features. By boosting the saturation of our start image, for example, we can make the red foreground ﬂowers pop out, which helps to add a sense of depth to the scene. However, by boosting colour saturation in-camera, you run the risk of creating colour-related artefacts, like posterisation – where delicate colour gradients (such as a graduated sky) become jagged bands of varying colour instead of a smooth blend. By boosting a shot’s colours you also run the risk of creating unprintable ones. We’ll show you how to use Photoshop Elements’ versatile Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer to select weaker colours and give them an appropriate boost in saturation, while tweaking stronger colours in a more subtle way. We’ll start our colour enhancing in the Adobe Camera Raw editor. By shooting in raw format you can be conﬁdent you have more colour information to work with, which will help reduce artefacts and improve the quality of your prints. Digital Camera June 2012
ON YOUR DISC
MAKE SELECTIVE COLOUR TWEAKS
Learn the lingo
Open in Camera Raw
Open colour_start.dng, supplied on your disc. As the file is an uncompressed digital negative (DNG), it will automatically open in the Adobe Camera Raw editor, where you can experiment with plenty of colour information packed into the file. At this stage, the colours are fairly desaturated, so the shot lacks impact.
By boosting the strength of the Saturation slider you’ll change the strength of the colours by an equal amount. This can lead to some already strong colours, like the red flowers, becoming over-saturated. Instead, increase Vibrance to +45. This creates a more selective colour boost, without blowing-out detail.
osterised colours tend to jump from one version of a colour to another in noticeable and abrupt bands, whereas the original scene may have featured a gentle graduated blend from one colour to another. You’re more likely to get posterised colours if you shoot in JPEG format, as this describes the colours in shorthand compared to the full story told by an uncompressed raw file.
E X P ER T TI P
Tweak tone and colour
Compare before and after
While in ACR, move the Clarity slider up to +60. This gently increases the midtone contrast in the wheat field to emphasise the texture of the stalks. By increasing Blacks to 16 you’ll create darker shadows. This helps boost the saturation of the distant trees.
Optimise for printing
Get better blues
Go to Edit>Colour Settings. If you plan to print your work, it’s worth ticking the Always Optimise for Printing button. This forces Elements to use the printer-friendly Adobe 1998 colour space, which helps keep your edited colours within a range that a printer can reproduce. Click OK to confirm your change.
The changes you make in ACR are non-destructive. Tick the Preview icon to toggle between the original and edited version of the scene. The shot’s colours already look more striking. Click Open Image to continue editing in the standard Elements editor.
The light blue sky looks washed out when compared with the rest of the shot. To selectively boost the blues, choose Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Hue/Saturation. Click OK. Set the Hue/Saturation palette’s drop-down menu to Blues and boost Saturation to +57. For a deeper blue, set Hue to +20.
“When you edit a standard raw ﬁle (like a Canon .CR2 ﬁle or a Nikon .NEF ﬁle), Photoshop will record all the Camera Raw slider adjustments that you make in a separate .XMP ﬁle that sits in the same folder as your raw image. However, this ﬁle can become separated from the raw ﬁle. If you click Save Image and choose a .dng (digital negative) format, the slider settings will be stored inside the .dng ﬁle.” George Cairns, technique writer
Digital Camera June 2012
PhotoshopSchool PHOTOSHOP BASICS
E X P ER T TI P
“There’s little point in creating printable colours if your printer isn’t up to scratch. The most common printers are inkjets, which squirt ink through nozzles to build up a picture using thousands of colourful dots of colour. As well as Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black ink, some inkjet printers add extra inks, such as light magenta, to help create more faithful colour reproduction. Make sure you use high-quality photo gloss inkjet paper too, or the ink will spread and create muddylooking colours.” George Cairns, technique writer
Enhance the crop
Tweak the Cyans
Edit the mask
Increase the saturation of the poppies. The splash of foreground red helps add depth and variety to the wheat. Set the drop-down menu to Reds and drag Saturation up to +22. Don’t go too high or you’ll clip the colours on the flowers and lose delicate detail.
To give the sky more impact, set Hue/Saturation to Cyans and increase Saturation to +42. However, this boosts some of the Cyans in the forest, making it look too saturated. To get round this, you need to use masks to selectively reduce this area’s saturation.
Grab the Brush tool and select a soft round tip. Set Opacity to 25%. Click on the Adjustment Layer’s mask. Set foreground colour to black (D then X). Spray the semi-transparent brush over the trees to reduce the intensity of the saturation boost there.
Disable the mask
Less is more
It can be tricky to spot the colour difference the edited mask is making. Hold down Shift and click on the mask to disable it. A red cross will appear and you’ll see the unedited effects of the Adjustment Layer. Shift-click again to toggle the mask back on.
Digital Camera June 2012
Boost the reds
To selectively saturate the wheat, set the drop-down menu to Yellows. Boost the Saturation slider to +25. This makes the crop look more vibrant and warmer. Yellows in the distant tree also stand out more, which helps to differentiate between textures.
To reduce the risk of over-saturating certain colours, dial down the intensity of the overall colour boost by dragging Opacity to 80%. Reduce any over-cooked areas, like the blue sky, by targeting the Blues channel and sliding Saturation down to +35.
MAKE SELECTIVE COLOUR TWEAKS
How to ensure printfriendly colours in CS Use Photoshop CS’s handy Gamut Warning command to spot and correct unprintable colours
our computer mixes Red, Green and Blue (RGB) channels together to produce millions of different colours. Printers combine Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (CMYK) inks to create a more limited colour palette. On-screen colours that can’t be reproduced in print are called ‘out of gamut’ (or out of range) colours.
Although Elements users can produce more print-friendly colours using the Adobe RGB colour space, you can still boost colour saturation to accurately reproduce them. Photoshop CS users have tools to help them keep edited colours within a printable range, like the CMYK mode and an out-of-gamut warning. Here, we’ll show you how to use these more advanced CS tools.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED Photoshop CS3 or above WHAT YOU’LL LEARN How to set up Photoshop CS to work in a print-friendly colour space and avoid unprintable colours when editing shots IT ONLY TAKES 10 minutes
E X P ER T TI P
Choose a colour space
Photoshop CS users can follow steps 1 to 4 in the main walkthrough to tweak the start image in CS’s Camera Raw editor. Once you’ve clicked Open Image, go to Edit>Colour Settings. In Working Spaces, set the RGB menu to Adobe RGB (1998) to work in a printerfriendly colour space. Click OK.
Edit the mask
Follow steps 7 to 9 to boost the colour saturation of the Cyans, Reds and Yellows. This will add more gamut warning patches to parts of the scene. You can reduce the intensity of the colour saturation by dropping the Adjustment Layer’s Opacity to 80%.
Add a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer, boost the Blues Saturation to +57 and set Hue to +20. Go to Window and tick Gamut Warning. Most of the sky will turn a patchy grey, indicating these colours are out of a printer’s range. Drop the Blues Saturation down to +35 to reduce the gamut warning patches.
To force Photoshop CS to use printer-friendly colours go to Image>Mode>CMYK Colour. Click Flatten, then OK to choose a CMYK profile. The gamut warning patches will vanish, and the colours on screen will be more similar to those in print.
“Once you’ve changed to CMYK mode, it’s easier to add and tweak another Hue/ Saturation Adjustment Layer while keeping colours within a printable range, but this mode lacks access to many of the ﬁlters and commands in Photoshop CS’s menus. Once you’ve ﬁnished tweaking the colours and tones in CMYK, go to Image>Mode>RGB Colour to access Photoshop CS’s full tool set.” George Cairns, technique writer
Digital Camera June 2012
Money to burn? High-end compact cameras
These three cameras offer high-quality results without the bulk of an SLR
Every SLR and interchangeable lens camera on the market reviewed by Digital Camera, plus our verdicts. Use it to decide which camera kit is best for you…
Canon EOS 1100D £384** APS-C, CMOS, 12.2Mp www.canon.co.uk, 01737 220000 Issue 112 Our verdict: A tempting price and easy-to-use features should please beginners. The quality at high sensitivities may also appeal to more advanced photographers looking for a decent lightweight second body.
Canon EOS 550D £538** APS-C, CMOS, 18Mp www.canon.co.uk, 01737 220000 Issue 98 Our verdict: Don’t buy the 550D solely for its resolution, because this doesn’t necessarily translate into extra real-world definition. Canon’s 18-55mm kit lens is a little weak too. However, the design and handling, high ISO performance and full HD Movie mode really are exceptional.
Price: £380 Web: www.fujifilm.eu/uk Reviewed: Issue 125 Our verdict: Offering stunning image quality from its 12Mp sensor, along with manual zoom and superb versatility, the Fujifilm X10 proves that you don’t need a huge SLR to get superb results.
Canon EOS 600D £596** APS-C, CMOS, 18Mp www.canon.co.uk, 01737 220000 Issue 111 Our verdict: The 600D is a well-specified camera that’s ideal for those wanting to elevate their photography to the next level. When the articulated screen, wireless flash capability and numerous other improvements are considered, the premium over the 550D starts to sound quite reasonable. Canon EOS 60D £739 APS-C, CMOS, 18Mp www.canon.co.uk, 01737 220000 Issue 106/109 Our verdict: As well as having an 18-megapixel sensor, full HD video and a great in-camera rating system, the EOS 60D has a flip-out LCD that makes composing images at awkward angles a doddle, while the electronic level ensures that horizons are on an even keel. Image quality is superb too. Canon EOS 7D £1,079 APS-C, CMOS, 18Mp www.canon.co.uk, 01737 220000 Issue 93/105 Our verdict: The 7D is incredible. Picture quality is excellent and the focus is sharp and speedy, although that’s no guarantee that all your action shots will be sharp. The technology is great, but for many non-pro users the package may offer too many choices and be just a bit over-engineered. Canon EOS 5D Mark II £1,529 Full-frame, CMOS, 21.1Mp www.canon.co.uk, 01737 220000 Issue 82/103 Our verdict: If looks, build, design and handling were the only criteria, the EOS 5D Mark II would perhaps be the most desirable full-frame SLR of all. But the Nikon D700 is so good for picture quality that, despite its 21-million pixels, the Canon has a real fight on its hands. Canon EOS 5D Mark III £2,999 Full-frame, CMOS, 22.3Mp www.canon.co.uk, 01737 220000 Issue 126 Our verdict: Despite only a small increase in resolution over the 5D Mark II, don’t be fooled into thinking that this is only a minor upgrade. The autofocus system in particular offers significantly better performance. These improvements do come at a price though. Canon EOS-1D Mark IV £3,399 APS-H, CMOS, 16.1Mp www.canon.co.uk, 01737 220000 Issue 98 Our verdict: This is an outstanding camera with excellent performance and image quality. Pictures shot at impressively high ISOs deliver well, and metering and colour rendition are accurate right out of the box. Unlikely to disappoint.
NIKON Canon G12
Price: £380 Web:www.canon.co.uk Reviewed: Issue 125 Our verdict: With a fully articulated screen, great hybrid image stabiliser and plenty of manual controls, the Canon G12 produces punchier results than many Canon SLRs. The high ISO performance could be better though.
Nikon D3100 £399** APS-C, CMOS, 14.2Mp www.nikon.co.uk, 0800 230 220 Issue 107 Our verdict: Head and shoulders above the competition, this major upgrade to the best-selling D3000 boasts fantastic image quality, 1080p video capture and an innovative Guide mode that acts as an in-camera tutorial. It’s still quite expensive, but if prices start to drop a bit it will be a real bargain. Nikon D5100 £572** APS-C, CMOS, 16.2Mp www.nikon.co.uk, 0800 230 220 Issue 113 Our verdict: The D5100 will appeal to both novice and more experienced photographers, with a host of updates and improvements over the D5000. The 16.2Mp sensor is a high performer in low-light conditions, and the articulated screen, full HD video and 16 scene modes make this an appealing proposition. Nikon D90 £560 APS-C, CMOS, 12.3Mp www.nikon.co.uk, 0800 230 220 Issue 79 Our verdict: For this kind of money you can get cameras with pro levels of build quality, features and resolution. But while it’s not the best in every respect, the D90 blitzes the rest overall, partly because of its huge list of features and partly because it’s so consistently good at everything it does. Nikon D300S £999 APS-C, CMOS, 12.3Mp www.nikon.co.uk, 0800 230 220 Issue 92 Our verdict: Stills performance is outstanding – it’s quite hard to take a bad picture with this camera. The camera is fast, smart and built to last, with impressive performance at higher ISOs. It’s a shame the video performance is lagging behind, but if you want to shoot mainly stills, this is a great buy. Nikon D7000 £895 APS-C, CMOS, 14.2Mp www.nikon.co.uk, 0800 230 220 Issue 107 Our verdict: An excellent camera capable of capturing a high level of detail across the full sensitivity range. It’s packed with well-integrated features and is easy to use, but the superb AF system needs a pro-level lens to perform to its potential, and it’s a shame the LCD screen isn’t articulated. Nikon D700 £1,625 Full-frame, CMOS, 12.1Mp www.nikon.co.uk, 0800 230 220 Issue 77 Our verdict: The D700 is a superb professional camera, which is capable of producing some amazingly crisp, artefact-free images and has a high-ISO performance that continues to amaze. Hardcore full-frame fans might hope for a cheaper entry-point, though. Nikon D800 £2,599 Full-frame, CMOS, 36.3Mp www.nikon.co.uk, 0800 230 220 Issue 125 Our verdict: The D800 delivers images that compare well with pricier and larger-format cameras. It excels at low sensitivities, but the biggest surprise is that the noise is also well controlled at higher sensitivities. It’s a great choice for landscape, portrait, still-life and macro photographers alike.
Price: £310 Web: www.panasonic.co.uk Reviewed: Issue 125 Our verdict: An excellent wide-angle lens and a simple, slimline design make the Panasonic LX5 an excellent choice. The lens lacks telephoto reach and the optical or electronic viewfinder are optional extras though.
Digital Camera June 2012
Nikon D3x £4,849 Full-frame, CMOS, 24.5Mp www.nikon.co.uk, 0800 230 220 Issue 83 Our verdict: This camera is designed for one purpose – high resolution at low ISO settings, and it does its job very well, but the problem with the D3x is that all of its systems are inherited from the D3. A superb camera, no doubt, but one that’s already ageing.
Olympus E-5 £1,282 Four Thirds, Live MOS, 12.3Mp www.olympus.co.uk, 0800 111 4777 Issue 111 Our verdict: This is the best Four Thirds SLR from Olympus to date, with plenty of enthusiast-friendly features, including a maximum ISO of 6400, an articulated 921k LCD and an excellent electronic spirit level, but it probably doesn't have enough going for it to tempt existing E-3 owners to upgrade.
Pentax K-5 £694 APS-C, CMOS, 16.3Mp www.pentax.co.uk, 0870 7368299 Issue 109 Our verdict: The Pentax K-5 marries a well-rounded specification list, including 7fps shooting and HD video, with stellar performance, and stands as an ideal upgrade to Pentax's previous SLRs once the price drops a little. Its high-ISO performance is particularly impressive, with well-controlled noise up to ISO12800.
* Includes 14-42mm kit lens ** Includes 18-55mm kit lens *** Includes 10-30mm kit lens † Includes 8.5mm kit lens All prices body only unless otherwise stated. Prices are street prices, based on prices sourced from a selection of well-known retailers, and are correct at the time of going to press.
Pentax K-r £421 APS-C, CMOS, 12.4Mp www.pentax.co.uk, 0870 7368299 Issue 119 Our verdict: Small but robust and rugged, the K-r packs in plenty of impressive features. The spec doesn’t quite translate into great image quality though, and our review sample suffered with muted, cool colour rendition and a tendency to under-expose images in dull lighting.
Sigma SD15 £728 Foveon X3, 14.6Mp www.sigma-imaging-uk.com, 01707 329999 Issue 104 Our verdict: The best thing about Sigma’s SD15 is its unique Foveon X3 sensor. The camera’s back-to-basics approach is appealing too, but ultimately the somewhat crude feel, confusing controls and steep price tag are asking a bit too much.
Money to burn? Neutral density filters
Here are three ND filters to help you get longer shutter speeds or wider apertures
Sony SLT-A65 £749** APS-C, 24.3Mp HD CMOS www.sony.co.uk, 08700 104107 Issue 122 Our verdict: The A65 matches or exceeds its rivals’ feature sets in many respects. It’s pricier, but the impressive stack of high-end features that this camera has to offer more than outweighs its cost. Sony SLT-A77 £959 APS-C, 24.3Mp HD CMOS www.sony.co.uk, 08700 104107 Issue 121 Our verdict: There’s a lot to love about the A77: it looks, feels and handles just like a semi-professional SLR and comes equipped with a comprehensive feature set that compares favourably to rivals’ offerings.
COMPACT SYSTEM CAMERAS FUJIFILM
Fujifilm X-Pro1 £1,429 X-Trans CMOS sensor, 16.3Mp www.fujifilm.eu/uk Issue 125 Our verdict: If you want a camera that is enjoyable to use, has traditional controls and produces great images, then the Fujifilm X-Pro1 isn’t far off perfection. This combination doesn’t come cheap though, and the hybrid viewfinder isn’t ideal for manual focusing.
Olympus PEN E-P3 £680* Four Thirds, Live MOS, 12.3Mp www.olympus.co.uk, 0800 111 4777 Issue 116 Our verdict: Olympus’s best compact system camera to date, the E-P3 has just about everything you could want from a CSC. The manufacturer’s first touchscreen has been well-implemented, and within its native ISO range the E-P3 produces superb images.
Olympus PEN Lite E-PL3 £427* Four Thirds, Live MOS, 12.3Mp www.olympus.co.uk, 0800 111 4777 Issue 119 Our verdict: The E-PL3 looks stylish and feels like it's really built to last. There are plenty of beginner-friendly features to get you started, with the full complement of manual controls available once your skills develop. Overall, the camera puts in a good performance in terms of image quality.
Hoya Pro1 Digital ND16, 67mm
Price: £55 Web: www.intro2020.co.uk Reviewed: Issue 125 Our verdict: Available in 52-77mm fitments, and a range of strengths from ND8 (three stop) to ND64 (six stop). This 67mm, four-stop version offers excellent results, and is unbeatable value.
Olympus OM-D E-M5 £999 Four Thirds, Live MOS, 16.1Mp www.olympus.co.uk, 0844 844 3852 Issue 126 Our verdict: The OM-D E-M5 puts in a great all-round performer with a stylish design and an impressive amount of advanced features. It’s an exciting camera, which along with other high-end CSCs has the potential to be a real game-changer.
Nikon J1 £400*** CX, CMOS, 10.1Mp www.nikon.co.uk, 0800 230 220 Issue 119 Our verdict: The Nikon J1 is an easy-to-use camera that’s a good introduction to CSCs, although it lacks some of the fun features of its rivals, such as in-camera filter effects. Nikon has also missed a trick by not giving the J1 a touchscreen to speed up AF point selection.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 £429* Four Thirds, Live MOS, 15.83Mp www.panasonic.co.uk, 0844 844 3852 Issue 114 Our verdict: If you want a smaller, lighter alternative to an SLR then the G3 is a great choice. It gives you plenty of control and offers lots of customisation options. It also turns out lovely looking images that have a film-like quality.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 £620* Four Thirds, Live MOS, 16.05Mp www.panasonic.co.uk, 0844 844 3852 Issue 110 Our verdict: Featuring an abundance of functions and superb image quality, this upgrade of the GH1 is one of the finest CSCs we've seen. Stellar video output and an excellent focusing system elevate it well above the competition. Particularly impressive is the articulated LCD with touchscreen functionality. Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 £300* Micro Four Thirds, Live MOS, 12.1Mp www.panasonic.co.uk, 0844 844 3852 Issue 118 Our verdict: The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 is a great little camera with better handling than the GF2. The touchscreen with its intuitive interface is a real bonus, but it’s a shame there’s no optional electronic viewfinder. Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1 £469* Four Thirds, Live MOS, 16Mp www.sony.co.uk, 08700 104107 Issue 122 Our verdict: An exciting new direction for Panasonic, breaking away from the mass-market GF-series and providing a premium option that advanced enthusiasts should definitely consider.
Hitech HD ND 1.2, 67mm Price: £95 Web: www.formatt.co.uk Reviewed: Issue 125 Our verdict: Hitech’s ‘High Definition’ range is available in 40.5 -77mm fitments, and from 0.3 (one stop) to 2.4 (eight stop) strengths. The 1.2 filter offers a four-stop reduction, with excellent results, but is rather pricey.
Pentax Q £329† 1/2.3-inch, 12.4Mp CMOS www.pentax.co.uk Issue 121 Our verdict: The Q’s concept is a good idea, and with time and new lens additions the system could prove interesting – especially if the price falls. At the moment, it’s just too pricey compared to high-end compacts.
Samsung NX11 £320** APS-C, CMOS, 14.6Mp www.samsung.com/uk, 0845 67267864 Issue 115 Our verdict: Samsung's NX11 is undoubtedly an enjoyable camera to use, with a pleasing user interface and good results, but unfortunately it’s not as great an upgrade over the NX10 as its current price premium may suggest. Wait for a price drop or try to find a bargain.
Samsung NX200 £499** APS-C, CMOS, 20.3Mp www.samsung.com/uk, 0845 67267864 Issue 123 Our verdict: Overall, this robust camera impresses with its snappy performance and decent image quality. However, the lack of a viewfinder, slower autofocus performance in low light and poor battery life make it less than perfect.
SONY Sony NEX-5 £520** APS-C, CMOS, 14.2Mp www.sony.co.uk, 08700 104107 Issue 102 Our verdict: This camera is a great achievement in so many ways, but it’s also a disappointment in others. Sony has spent so much time developing clever features and fancy technology that usability seems to have taken a back seat. Sony NEX-7 £949** APS-C, CMOS, 24.3Mp www.sony.co.uk, 08700 104107 Issue 120 Our verdict: The Sony NEX-7 is highly specified, and is aimed at serious photographers that require high-quality images and easy access to exposure controls. Its lightweight, compact body may appeal to those who find lugging the weight of an SLR a pain, but won’t compromise on image quality.
Cokin P154 Grey ND8X
Price: £20 Web: www.cokin.co.uk Reviewed: Issue 125 Our verdict: These 85mm square filters are suitable for lenses with filter threads up to 82mm, via a filter holder and screw-in adaptor ring. The ND8X gives a three-stop reduction, with one or two-stop versions also available.
Digital Camera June 2012