AMAZING LENCARTA PORTABLE FLASH OUTFIT WORTH ﾂ｣850
LIGHTING ACADEMY GETTING CREATIVE WITH THREE HEADS
Advanced THE MAGAZINE THAT TAKES YOUR IMAGES SERIOUSLY
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HEAD TO HEAD
Canon v Nikon The EOS 6D and D600 battle it out for full-frame supremacy
We join readers for a day long shoot around London
One scene, 101 shots Expert advice for exploiting a single location
笨的N THE GARDEN 笨的N THE WILD
FLIGHT CLUB Fantastic photo techniques for our feathered friends CAMERA REVIEW W
FUJIFILM X-E1 TEST Is full-frame image quality possible with a compact system camera? AP29-001 (COVER-FINAL)hbljc.indd 1
Shoot your best ever macro images with one of these gadgets 1/3/13 16:53:55
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© JOHN OWEN
Welcome WILL CHEUNG FRPS, EDITOR Will has been taking pictures since he was 10 years old. His passion for the medium is more intense than ever with a preference for rich black & white images.
I get to the office in daylight and it’s still light when I leave. That ‘s a sure-ﬁre sign that warmer and longer days are well on the way and with them come even more chances to exercise the shutter ﬁnger. This issue should give you yet more inspiration. In our ﬁrst inspiring portfolio this issue, nature enthusiast Mark Bridger’s images certainly do owls’ justice, while in the second equally inspiring portfolio, newly turned professional photographer Baxter Bradford shows how you can get the most from a single location. ‘Seeing’ pictures is a skill we all need to practise. In Photo Kit this month, we pit two full-frame DSLRs against each other. The Canon EOS 6D and Nikon D600 are entry-level, full-frame DSLRs that offer a perfect upgrade path if you are shooting with an APS-C format camera and fancy going bigger. Our other camera test features the Fujiﬁlm X-E1. It uses the unique X-Trans sensor that’s said to rival full-frame cameras in image quality. That’s a bold claim and one we were keen to test. We also take a close look at the world of portable ringﬂash, light sources perfect for macro but versatile enough for portraits too. See you again next issue.
Will Cheung FRPS, Editor
The contributors involved in this issue...
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This issue Richard gets his hands on the Fujiﬁlm X-E1, a lower-priced version of the much acclaimed X-Pro1. Both cameras share the impressive X-Trans CMOS sensor. It’s APS-C format but its radical design means no anti-aliasing ﬁlter is needed so image quality is very high.
Mark is an enthusiast photographer and nature is his favourite subject. His portfolio of owl pictures features captive as well as wild subjects and he shoots much of work on workshop days. It goes to show that even captive birds make stunning images. See www.bridgephotography.co.uk.
When we interviewed Baxter he was soon to leave his teaching job and go full-time as a photographer shooting portraits and commercial work as well as still shooting landscapes. His portfolio shows how a location like Newlyn in Cornwall can be exploited. See www.baxterbradford.com.
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to Advanced Photographer
18 CAPTURE: Exploit one location
56 RAW MASTERCLASS: Boost colours
The cover story... Since childhood, Mark Bridger has been fascinated by our feathered friends, particularly owls, and now he loves nothing better than to spend his days photographing them in the wild or captivity. He took this shot of a European eagle owl at the British Wildlife Centre, “wide open, which gave the background a nice bokeh”. Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 300mm lens, 1/300sec, f/2.8 WWW.BRIDGEPHOTOGRAPHY.CO.UK
SEE PAGE 38 FOR DETAILS
Inspiration, technique, opinion 6 UPFRONT We’re thinking big this issue – a new camera from Nikon in the shape of the APS-C ﬂagship D7100 and the world’s biggest photo. Plus more kit launches and book reviews.
24-HOUR PHOTO PEOPLE: Celebrating 160 years of the RPS
SEE PAGE 62 FOR DETAILS
If at ﬁrst you don’t succeed, try, try, try again – so goes the proverb. And so it goes with mastering the art of posing. So get practising.
light, his medium-format kit plus his favourite county all add up to one perfect photo expedition Baxter Bradford.
29 EXPOSED It looked like the whole family was about to tongue-lash editor Cheung for losing photos of a christening when a memory card failed – thankfully rescue software saved the day.
18 EXPLOITATION: CAPTURE Don’t be
32 24-HOUR PHOTO PEOPLE What a way to
satisﬁed with one successful image of a scene. Try a different angle, experiment with a new technique or grab another lens. Whatever or wherever you’re shooting, work it harder.
celebrate your 160th birthday – a full day of shooting in London. Read the story of the marathon photoshoot to commemorate the Royal Photographic Society’s achievements.
10 ONE LOCATION: INSPIRATION The right
24 THE ART OF POSING
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60 LIGHTING ACADEMY: Three-head techniques
FUJIFILM X-E1: Small & affordable
HEAD TO HEAD: Canon EOS 6D v Nikon D600
Photo Kit: the latest gear tested 40 OWL EYED: INSPIRE
60 LIGHTING ACADEMY
Fascinated by the natural world since childhood, Canon shooter Mark Bridger now keeps a special eye on owls, photographing these beautiful creatures in captivity and in the wild.
Forget three’s a crowd. With studio lighting, three is the magic number. We show you how to set up a portrait shoot with a trio of ﬂash heads.
48 BIRD LIFE: CAPTURE Don’t get in a ﬂap about bird photography. Take the simple approach and you can achieve a lot with a telezoom, a healthy dollop of inspiration and plenty of bird food.
56 RAW MASTERCLASS A funfair offers the perfect opportunity to practise longexposure shots, but what to do if the colours aren’t quite as vibrant as you hoped? Boost them in Lightroom.
64 NEXT ISSUE We’re sure you’ll ﬁnd something right up your street, whether you’re a fan of hitting the streets or watching your garden grow with your camera. Plus, we’ll be focusing with the Panasonic GH3 and talking megabytes and gigabytes in our storage card test. 114 AND FINALLY Never one to duck a challenge, editor Cheung set himself a 365 project for 2013, but it’s not your common or garden shoot a photo every day.
69 CANON EOS 6D V NIKON D600 Did this
94 SLIDE SHOW SOFTWARE Forget
head-to-head test rufﬂe a few feathers? Was it a duel to the death, or did these two middleweights slug it out only to be declared level in the pecking order?
boring slide shows with the photographer laboriously clicking their way through a huge box of slides. Today’s slide shows are slick multimedia productions. We test two programs.
78 FUJIFILM X-E1 Following in the footsteps of the ﬁrst X-Trans sensor camera which ﬂew off the shelves, this small and affordable CSC made a great impression on our reviewer.
87 RINGFLASH Armed
97 TRIGGERTRAP Download the app, spend £21 on a dongle, and turn your smartphone or tablet into a cable release extraordinaire – triggering your DSLR by sound or vibrations, or cueing up time-lapse shots.
with a macro lens, you’re probably already shooting decent close-ups, but to take your best ever macro images, you need a suitable ﬂash. One of these six will do the job.
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Exploit the scene
Landscape photographer Baxter Bradford ﬁnds himself drawn to West Cornwall time and again for its stunning coast WORDS LYNNE MAXWELL PICTURES BAXTER BRADFORD
MOUNTS BAY LIGHTSHOW “Shot from the end of the pier as the cloud under-lighting was most intense. I ensured exposure was made when the lighthouse ﬂashed.” Ebony SU45, 110mm lens, Lee 0.45 ND grad, Fuji Velvia 50 rated at ISO 40, rear tilt for maximum depth-of-ﬁeld and front rise for verticals
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Exploit the scene
BAXTER BRADFORD The ﬁrst time he went to Newlyn, Baxter Bradford was quite underwhelmed. “I’d been looking forward to visiting as it had long been home to Sir Terry Frost, a man whose art inspires me enormously and who had lived there for the last 29 years of his life.”
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Exploit the scene 1
2 Now he can’t stay away from the place and even co-owns (along with the bank) a house, which he runs as a holiday let, on the outskirts of nearby Sennen. “First impressions were deceptive and Newlyn has since become one of my alltime favourite locations.” In fact, on his frequent visits (he’s been going to West Cornwall regularly for the last six years, about seven times a year), Newlyn is invariably his ﬁrst stop, usually in the near dark, where he pulls in at a roadside vantage point overlooking Mount’s Bay to assess the wind, cloud and tide to hatch a plan for his stay. These three things help him predict what the light will be like and what his best location will be for the morning’s shoot. “Due to its east-facing orientation Newlyn tends to be an early morning location so it may well be that I opt to nip around the corner to Mousehole or Penzance or drive across to Marazion for St Michael’s Mount instead.
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Exploit the scene
“Newlyn is the biggest ﬁshing port in England. The ﬁshing industry is a demanding one where they toil really hard in dangerous conditions to eke out a living,” says Baxter. “The weathered nature of the trawlers and peripheral gear bears witness to how hard times are, yet they are rich in a photographic sense. “At the western side of Mount’s Bay the town faces east and the sunrises can be spectacular but, even in the gloom, there is so much that will make strong pictures if you are prepared to be ﬂexible.” He shoots principally from three areas – the roadside, the inner harbour and the North Pier/main harbour. “The ﬁrst two can be shot together at sunrise, alternating if needs be as the light changes. North Pier, followed by the main harbour, are
a separate visit. Newlyn is good all year round for sunrises,” he says. Going back to the same places time and again never gets boring for Baxter. He’s even happy to reshoot from the same spot. “But the weather and light conditions make it a completely different image,” he says. “I’m continually striving for something new, original and yet harmonious with the elements and location, and keep my mind and eyes open.” Baxter hopes eventually to move to West Cornwall. “There are so many fantastic locations within a short radius of the house: Porthcurno and nearby tidal beach Pedn Vounder are a few miles away, the bouldery cove of Porth Nanven is six miles, Newlyn nine miles, and St Michael’s Mount 12 miles. Sennen itself is one and a
I’m continually striving for something new, original and yet harmonious with the elements and location, and keep my mind and eyes open
1 TWILIGHT IN NEWLYN “The view back into the harbour with soft early twilight on the trawler Twilight, moored at the end of the pier.” Ebony SU45, 90mm lens, Lee 0.45 ND grad, Fuji
Velvia 50 at ISO 40, small amount of rear tilt. Exposure was about 25secs (15secs metered) 2 BEAMS ACROSS THE HARBOUR “St Michael’s Mount lined up between the piers. I liked the contrast between the sea states inside and outside the harbour, with the clearing cloud front.” Nikon D800, 70-200mm at
122mm, 1/1.3sec at f/8. Capture One Pro 7 software 3 DAYLIGHT BECKONS “Newlyn is a working harbour. Crossover lighting on a grey, windy day. Fuel bowser and the ‘ghost’ of a man.”
Phase One 645DF with P45+ back, Lee 0.45 ND grad, 80mm lens, 20secs at f/14, ISO 100
half miles, secluded Nanjizal beach a walk across the ﬁelds and Land’s End is about half a mile. Decisions, decisions! I switch between them as the conditions change. “If I had to choose just one location, I’d opt for Porth Nanven for its variety. Though I have made some memorable images of St Michael’s Mount.”
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To celebrate the inaugural meeting of the Royal Photographic Society 160 years ago, a group of hardy photographers spent 24 hours shooting in London WORDS DEL BARRETT ARPS PICTURES VARIOUS
t’s -2°C, it’s t’s sn snowing, I’m dressed in Victorian costume and questioning the an co sanity of emb embarking on London 1853... A few months ago, I had this wacky idea that it would be fun to host a 24-hour photo marathon around the capital to celebrate the 160th anniversary of the Royal Photographic Society. As a nod to our founding fathers (Roger Fenton et al), it seemed appropriate to coincide with
the date of the original meeting, which is how I found myself at 4pm on a cold Saturday afternoon in January with about 60 other photographers waiting for the metaphorical ﬁring of the starting pistol. Now it isn’t the ﬁrst time I’ve done a 24-hour shoot (and I hope it won’t be the last) so I was well aware of the pitfalls: the disorientation at about 3am, the low night temperatures, the need for stout
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boots and minimum gear – but it is the ﬁrst time I’ve attempted anything like this in mid-winter. I don’t mind admitting, I was worried as to whether I was going to manage it. As it transpired, my fears were completely unfounded and I – along with eight other hardy souls – ﬁnished the full marathon. So, how did we do it? My main concern was keeping warm, but we were ‘lucky’ insofar as it was so
© DEL BARRETT ARPS
ABOVE Four hours into a 24-hour shoot in midwinter. As the last few straggling commuters head home, we’re just about ready for our ﬁrst coffee.
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© CHERYL MEEK © RACHEL WILCE LRPS
© RACHEL WILCE LRPS
© MARK PHILLIPS LRPS
ABOUT THE RPS The inaugural meeting of the Photographic Society (as it was then known) took place in the Great Room of the Society of Arts (now the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) on 20 January 1853. Sir Charles Eastlake was the chairman and Roger Fenton, the honorary secretary. Although a group of photographers had previously met in each other’s houses, the signiﬁcant increase in photographers (as a result of widespread interest at the Great Exhibition) warranted
the formation of a society. Its aim was “the promotion of the Art and Science of Photography, by the interchange of thought and experience among Photographers” – an aim, which today still underlines the Society’s existence. With the permission of Queen Victoria, it became the Royal Photographic Society in 1894 and in 2004, the Society was granted a Royal Charter. Membership is open to everyone interested in photography – full membership costs £111 and various concessions are available. Check out the website if you want to know more: www.rps.org.
cold all day, that there was little difference between the day and night temperatures, so we didn’t experience that sudden early morning coldness when you discover you’re inadequately dressed. We were all kitted out with thermals, layers, hats and warm coats. Faced with the dilemma of wearing gloves (not ideal for the camera controls) or not, some of us opted for hand warmers – hot pouches you keep in your pocket to toast your hands between shots. Without these, I’m not sure I would have made it through the ﬁrst hour, let alone all 24. The plan was to shoot for 24 hours in London, but that didn’t necessarily mean outside. We’d put together a list of bars, cafés and shops that were open through
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© DEL BARRETT ARPS
IMAGES A night on the tiles, painting the town with ﬂash. Our 24 hours started as the sun set so we spent the ﬁrst part of our shoot in darkness – in fact, we had only nine hours of daylight. So there were plenty of opportunities for experimenting with long shutter speeds, practising light trails and perfecting tripod technique, amid the hustle and bustle of our capital city.
© SANJ MAHERA
© DEL BARRETT ARPS
© CHERYL MEEK
the night and had pre-arranged rendezvous points. We’d also provided participants with transport details so they could hop onto a night bus if they needed to thaw out. Although we insisted that participants hunted in groups between midnight and the small hours, during the daylight hours, we encouraged people to wander off and do their own thing – after all, we didn’t particularly want hundreds of similar shots. I knew that tiredness would kick in at about 3am, so we made sure that we were having a refreshment break at that time (we actually
found a very nice cocktail bar and then hopped over the road for a full English). In terms of kit, we all had very different ideas. Some took a full bag containing two bodies, different lenses and a sturdy tripod, but it required a lot of stamina to carry that lot around for 24 hours. Others, like me, took the bare minimum – one body, a 50mm lens and a lightweight tripod. Even these seemed to weigh heavy during the night by the time we’d added all the odds and sods, which individually weigh nothing, but soon add up when packed together.
Some took a full bag containing two bodies, different lenses and a sturdy tripod
Photographically speaking, the biggest challenge was the light. We started just before sunset, which was rather more grey than colourful. Dawn just went from dark grey to light grey and in between we had 14 hours of grey darkness. This is challenging at the best of times, but even more so when the sky is snow-laden, providing a desperately dull backdrop for the outside shots. Little wonder that there were quite a few mono conversions amongst the images submitted! Those with top-of-the-range DSLRs fared best, as they could crank up the ISO. For most of us, it was impossible to get a decent shutter speed hand-held and so tripods were essential, but the wind meant that these were not always as steady as they
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You get great results with one light. Add another and expand your creative horizons. Add a third and the world is your oyster WORDS & PICTURES WILL CHEUNG
ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL RESULTS are possible with one or two lights, but add a third and the options are even greater. Thankfully, the core principles of lighting technique that you employ with one or two units apply with the extra head, so the learning curve isn’t too steep. The third head simply gives your lighting an extra dimension: a hair backlight while your two units light the subject from the front, or lightening an area of heavy shadow. It gives you the opportunity to work the scene harder. If you recently bought a two-head kit and are still recovering from the investment, adding an extra light needn’t break the bank. You can, for example, use your camera’s separate ﬂashgun. Mount it on a stand and ﬁt it with a slave or trigger and you are ready to go. Indeed many ﬂashguns can be triggered just like the mains ﬂash by detecting a burst of light so no slave is needed – just check your unit’s instructions. If you do take this option, use the ﬂash in manual mode and have plenty of spare batteries on hand – or increasingly long recycling times will slow you down. The mains units recycle in fractions of a second while a camera ﬂashgun in manual might need
several seconds. Another thing you must consider is a modiﬁer for your ﬂashgun. A naked unit won’t give great light; adding a diffuser or varying the zoom setting can alter the quality of light. Or, with a suitable adaptor or using some ingenious DIY concoction with gaffer tape and bungee cords, ﬁx your camera ﬂash in position to work with your mains ﬂash modiﬁers. Some lateral thinking and common sense come to the rescue here. Should you be in a position to buy a third light you may be able to get away with a low powered and therefore much cheaper unit. So, for example if your two heads have outputs of 400-500 joules adding a 100 or 200J unit (available from Elemental, Elinchrom, Interﬁt, Lencarta, among others) is ﬁne because you have plenty of power already and for techniques like backlighting, power is not always essential. In fact some more powerful units can’t be turned down far enough when backlighting and that can make life inconvenient. To illustrate some three-head lighting techniques involved in portrait shoots we booked Studio One at Ailsworth near Peterborough and model Adriana to pose for us. RIGHT Three lights were used to light model Adriana. The camera was a Nikon D800 ﬁtted with a 70200mm f/2.8 lens set to f/11. Turn the page for full details of the lighting set-up.
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Photo Kit FUJIFILM X-E1
It seems Fujiﬁlm can do no wrong with its X-series cameras and groundbreaking X-Trans sensor – now in a smaller and more affordable package
WORDS RICHARD HOPKINS PICTURES WILL CHEUNG
KEY FEATURES STREET PRICE £690 BODY ONLY £1100 WITH 18-55MM ZOOM APS-C X-TRANS SENSOR 16 MEGAPIXELS WITHOUT AA FILTER 2400K DOT ELECTRONIC VIEWFINDER SIMULATED FUJIFILM MODES
ANALOGUE CONTROLS The look, ﬁnish and feel of the bold analogue dials, milled from aluminium, is a strong part of X-E1’s appeal. Setting the shutter speed dial on A engages aperture-priority mode, and simultaneously switching the lens to A sets program AE. The exposure compensation control needs watching because it can be inadvertently adjusted.
RAW PROCESSING In-camera Raw processing provides the beneﬁts of working with Raw ﬁles but without a computer. In addition to the options shown, there’s cropping and, scrolling down to the next screen gives access to adjustments for colour, sharpness, highlight tone, shadow tone, noise reduction and colour space.
SETTINGS SCREEN Pressing the DISP/ BACK button brings up a settings info conﬁrmation screen. Toggle between this and the Q button to make quick adjustments. LCD is 2.8in 460k dots, less than the X-Pro1, to reduce size and cost, but still perfectly adequate.
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Fujiﬁlm really started something with its X-series cameras. First came the cool retro-styled X100, with its cunning optical-electronic viewﬁnder and ﬁxed f/2 lens. Then the X-Pro1 added interchangeable lenses and introduced the acclaimed X-Trans sensor, though with quite a jump in size and cost. Now here’s the X-E1, essentially identical in spec to the X-Pro1, but swapping the hybrid viewﬁnder for an all-electronic version, resulting in a smaller and cheaper package, and adding a pop-up ﬂash. At the heart of Fujiﬁlm’s X-series is the CMOS X-Trans sensor. Its APS-C format is familiar enough with a 1.5x crop, but what makes it unique, and potentially sharper, is the random distribution of red, green and blue pixels. Conventional Bayerpattern sensors have RGB pixels arranged in neat grid lines, but when these coincide with similar lines in the subject, such as ﬁnely patterned fabrics, they can clash and create unwanted lines and coloured swirls, known as moiré or aliasing. To prevent this, manufacturers ﬁt an anti-aliasing (AA) ﬁlter in front of the sensor that blurs very ﬁne detail so there is less chance of a problem. And this works well, but the downside is that very ﬁne detail is lost over the whole image. Fujiﬁlm’s X-Trans arrangement of pixels suffers much less from moiré, mimicking the random character of silver halide crystals in ﬁlm, meaning that no AA ﬁlter is needed. The result is the full sharpness potential of the sensor and lens is released, and Fujiﬁlm claims image quality to rival full frame. That’s no idle boast, but full frame has a couple of advantages that also need to be addressed. Full frame’s sensor area is more than double APS-C, so it collects more light and this gives better high ISO performance. And because the ﬁnal image has to be enlarged less for a given resolution, the lens doesn’t have to work so hard and this boosts contrast for a cleaner, sharper picture. So Fujiﬁlm has to go a bit to match full frame, needing a very efficient sensor and processing engine, and lenses that must punch above their weight. The X-E1 is unashamedly retro and rangeﬁnder Leica-esque. And while it’s actually quite a different animal and has much more in common with other high-end CSCs like the Sony NEX-7 and Olympus OM-D, it somehow makes you want to go street shooting in the Latin quarter like Cartier-Bresson. And that’s no bad thing at all but it’s an illusion, perhaps prompted by the viewﬁnder positioned top-left in rangeﬁnder style, and the simple analogue controls with a shutter-speed dial on top, apertures set by a ring on the lens, and a prominent exposure compensation dial.
Fujiﬁlm X-E1 FROM THE TOP Bold shutter speed dial 1 runs down to 1sec with longer speeds handled in the menu, and exposure compensation 2 is right under your thumb, but can be moved accidentally. Apertures are controlled by the lens ring 3 . On the 18-55mm zoom the f/numbers are not marked, but shown in the viewﬁnder and rear LCD. Also on the lens are the auto/manual aperture switch 4 and optical image stabilisation on/off below it. The Fn button 5 gives direct access to ISO by default, but can be customised to adjust other functions. Deleting the X-Pro1’s optical viewﬁnder leaves room for X-E1’s pop-up ﬂash. 6
5 1 6 2
FROM THE FRONT Chunky front grip 1 is rubberised and thoughtfully contoured to ﬁt your ﬁngers, providing a secure hold with the thumb rest on the back. Just above that 2 is the AF-assist light. The lens release button 3 is very close to the mount and could be a bit bigger. The focus mode selector 4 set on S locks focus on half-pressing the shutter release, on C it will continuously track the subject, though no contrastdetect AF system is very good at this. M is manual focus, and works well with the magniﬁed view option.
1 4 3
FROM THE BACK Lots of buttons, too many to mention, but leaving just enough room for your thumb 1 against the well-placed rest. The Q button 2 brings up a page of key modes for quick setting from the LCD. Command dial 3 scrolls between settings, then push it in to enlarge the view and assist manual focusing. 2400k-dot EVF 4 with dioptre adjustment is positioned top-left, rangeﬁnder-style, with less chance of nose grease smearing the screen for righteyed shooters. Sensor 5 detects when your eye is close, and switches between viewﬁnder and rear LCD operation. Buttons down the left side 6 are nicely spaced, and double-up for the functions marked on the right in playback mode. Fixed rear LCD 7 is 2.8in and 460k dots.
1 3 2
AT A GLANCE SPECS STREET PRICE £690 body only, £1100 with 18-55mm f/2.8-4 zoom LENS FITTING Fujiﬁlm X-mount SENSOR 16.3-megapixel X-Trans CMOS, no AA ﬁlter, EXR Pro processing engine FORMAT 23.6x15.6mm APS-C, 1.5x crop ISO 200-6400, expandable 100-25,600 AUTOFOCUS Contrast-detect with 49 zones IMAGE STABILISATION OIS in-lens SHUTTER 30secs to 1/4000sec, X-sync
1/180sec, 6fps and 3fps shooting speeds METERING 256-segment multi-pattern, average, spot VIEWFINDER Electronic OLED with 2400k dots, 100% coverage, full info display REAR MONITOR 2.8in LCD with 460k dots, non-articulating RAW PROCESSING In-camera processing of Raw ﬁles, including ﬁlm simulation effects STORAGE MEDIA Single SD card DIMENSIONS 129x75x38mm body only WEIGHT 350g body, inc battery and card
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SLIDE SHOW SOFTWARE
SLIDE SHOW SOFTWARE
Producing a slide show, complete with soothing music, is easy nowadays. There’s plenty of software to help with the job. We’ve put two to the test WORDS WILL CHEUNG
Making an audio-visual (AV) extravaganza is easy in softwares such as Aperture and Lightroom. But a dedicated slide show software can offer more. Putting together a show of themed work accompanied by music is very fulﬁlling – and handy for self-promotional purposes too. Holidays, photo projects and commercial shoots can all beneﬁt from the AV treatment too. Not only that but shows can be exported to YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, your own site or just put on DVD or Blu-Ray for family viewing. I took 70 wedding images, some movie footage, three soundtracks and donned my director’s cap.
Boinx FotoMagico v4.2.1b PRICE $99.99, iPhone Remote $4.99 CONTACT www.bionx.com SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS Mac OS X Lion v10.7.4 or later Tested on a 24in iMac with a 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 8GB RAM running Max OS X 10.8.2
ABOVE The main interface is very clean and you have the option of Storyboard or Timeline views across the bottom. RIGHT The options palette is where you can ﬁne-tune your shows and get all creative with fades, dissolves and the like.
Boot the software and you’re instantly faced with the decision of how the ﬁnal show will be viewed. I went for full HD 1920x1080 pixels. Once you okay that you are faced with a clear interface. Two black spaces labelled Start and Finish dominate the screen; in a panel on the right are your libraries of images, movies or audio ﬁles – what’s on show depends on what ﬁle type has been selected. Aperture, iPhoto and Lightroom are the image libraries shown by default. The basic process is as simple as clicking and dragging the images you want from the desktop onto the storyboard. Upload ﬁles that are too big and the software will warn you and can automatically resize ﬁles for you. When you have images on the storyboard clicking on one will display it in both of the black windows. In the case of video, you see the ﬁrst and last freeze frame. Click on the image you want active then you can zoom and rotate the image for the effect you want. Let’s say you want to zoom into the image. Leave the Start image and click on the Finish image and operate the zoom rotator control. Take it easy because there’s a knack to using it. The zoom range is amazing – I keyed in 30,000% just to see if it was possible and it was. If you just want the image to stay put and dissolve into the next one, leave the controls alone. The software adds a little animation anyway if you have the check box ticked. It’s easy to integrate video into shows. Again, it’s just dragging and dropping ﬁles onto the Storyboard/Timeline. Once the visual stuff is sorted you can add soundtracks from your iTunes library. Indeed, if you want to keep everything simple go to Slideshow>Instant slideshow and a show is produced with the slide show length matched to the duration of the soundtrack. If you want more control click on Options to the far right of the interface. This brings up six tabbed menus: Slide, Transition, Image, Movie, Title and Audio. It’s
here, with the appropriate item active, that you can ﬁne-tune the show. With movies and audio you can set the limits of what you want to be used with the range control. This works to thousanths of a second using the ﬁne-tuning rotator controls although these can be ﬁddly to use. While there are fewer transition options than on offer in ProShow Gold, there are more than enough. Using layers and masks provides creative ways of making images appear on screen, and it wasn’t difficult to do. During my initial test of v4.1 I couldn’t get the Ducking control to work properly. Ducking adjusts volume levels to allow the video soundtrack to be heard over the audio soundtrack and vice versa. I contacted Boinx and was told it was a known bug and was ﬁxed in the beta version of 4.2.1, which is the software on test here. The problem was indeed ﬁxed. Another problem I did have was with a corrupted ﬁle that would not preview so I couldn’t check fades and transitions even though it would open ﬁne and work in every other respect. I had to dump it and start again. That apart, I enjoyed using FotoMagico and the ﬁnished show looked great.
HOW IT RATES FEATURES
It offers a great deal including using video, masks and layers
The ﬁne-tuning rotator controls were annoying
Some niggles – the corrupt ﬁle
VALUE FOR MONEY
Worth the modest investment for Mac users
Versatile software that’s mostly good to use
PROS Easy to use, layers, interface, audio marker CONS Fine-tuning ﬁddly
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SLIDE SHOW SOFTWARE
Photodex ProShow Gold PRICE $69.99 CONTACT www.photodex.com SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS Windows XP, Vista, 7, minimum 1024x768 display Tested on a custom-made PC with Intel Core Quad CPU, 2.83GHz processor, 8GB RAM and running 64-bit
ABOVE ProShow Gold offers a great deal of editing control whether that is with video or soundtracks as well as layers. BELOW There are plenty of publishing options but to enjoy them all you need to spend an extra $20 on the output plug-in
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Open up the software and you get the option of using a wizard to produce your slide show or taking control and starting from scratch. To begin with I took the easy option. I followed the wizard’s simple instructions to upload stills, video and an audio soundtrack before asking the software to work its magic. The help menu reassured me that I could rework the entire show if necessary. After the software had done its work I previewed the result. To be honest, the result was unwatchable, though not because it had done a poor job. It’s just because the wizard tried to use as many of the program’s numerous transitions and effects as possible. Heart-shaped masks and wacky transitions like corkscrew and something called Plasma Strip have little appeal to my conservative nature – the software actually has 427 transitions, 165 slide styles and 22 themes. You’ll soon work out which ones have appeal. I did start going through the wizard-produced show to change transitions but got bored with that so I started again from the beginning. You can drag and drop ﬁles directly into the Slide List or Timeline workspace and load them into the File List window – this is the best way because used ﬁles are indicated by a green tick. It didn’t take too long to get a show of still ﬁles together and I kept my transitions very basic and fuss-free – I mostly used the Crossfade (Blend), the very ﬁrst option in the Basic menu. Adding a soundtrack was simple too so it wasn’t long before I had a watchable show of stills set to music. Next I added video and then brought in two more music soundtracks. As is the way nowadays, I spent quite a while on YouTube to work out how to trim videos as well as crossfade soundtracks and within a few hours, I had an audio-visual show that I was very pleased with. I did use a few layers to add some nice fades but nothing overly complicated and I found it pretty straightforward to achieve great effects.
I did have a minor headache with video footage. I was unable to add a video ﬁle from the File List to the Slide List due to some incompatibility issue, but I got round that by dragging the footage directly from the desktop folder of video ﬁles. Although ProShow Gold is a little more challenging to use than FotoMagico, it does have more options. I did ﬁnd it rather daunting at ﬁrst but I have to applaud the YouTube tutorials because they made using the software straightforward, much more so than wading through the PDF manual. There is ﬂexibility when it comes to publishing the result too. Well, kind of. The software has options of saving ﬁles for Facebook, YouTube and many more – but this is only if you have the appropriate plug-in and that costs $19.95. To sum up, I thought this software was an excellent choice for producing impressive slide shows. And there are plenty of options when it comes to effects and transitions, but I suggest you choose wisely. You don’t want your images and video overshadowed by tasteless fades and umpteen layers of special effects.
HOW IT RATES FEATURES
An impressive list
Good, but not intuitive and the odd niggle
Did what it said it would do
VALUE FOR MONEY
Very good even if you have to buy the device plug-in
Impressive value for money and very versatile
PROS Great versatility, control over video and audio
THE VERDICT Both softwares worked well but neither were entirely quirk or glitch free. I think they both had me bafﬂed in equal measure at some point or other. ProShow Gold is the more versatile and it’s very controllable in terms of video and audio editing. It’s also brim full of transitions and effects to cater for all tastes, both good and bad. If you like your slide shows cheesy, this is the software for you. To be fair, plain and good taste transitions and styles are also available so boring photographers like me can enjoy the software too. FotoMagico is, by comparison, simpler to use, and there is still more than enough features for most photographers. Regardless of which platform you use, both these pieces of software are highly capable and offer a great deal – and both are attractively priced too.
CONS Cheesy transitions, cost of export plug-in
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EDITORIALLY SPEAKING EDITOR WILLIAM CHEUNG HAS THE LAST WORD
TAKING A PICTURE A DAY OR DOING a 365 is all the rage nowadays. It is a great way of keeping motivated in your photography. Motivation is a challenge for many enthusiasts and some will go from one month to the next without picking up the camera. That’s a bad thing, of course, because practice does make perfect. Consequently, giving yourself a project to work on is very much a good thing. You might decide to shoot with only one focal length or everything at one aperture, or you might decide to do a 365 – or if you are feeling ambitious, go for a 1000 picture project. Doing something like a 365 is a challenge so if you try it, you will need some sort of support to keep you going and get feedback too. Using your website, social networking or a dedicated daily photo journal community site like blipfoto.com will help. I think I’m too weak-willed to shoot a 365 – rather defeatist I know – so I am doing a variation on the theme. Instead of a picture a day, I have decided to scan an image a day. You see, I have a ﬁlm archive going back 40 years totalling 2636 rolls of 35mm ﬁlm – assuming 36 exposures per ﬁlm, that’s 94,896 frames. I know precisely because I’ve carefully numbered each ﬁlm and know what camera was used, together with the ﬁlm, its ISO rating, the developer and how long it was processed for. All very anorak-y, I appreciate, and I’m not necessarily proud of the fact. Add in my 35mm slides and medium-format images, and I must have over 150,000 ﬁlm images. I still shoot ﬁlm, but obviously at a much slower rate so that total is still increasing, albeit at a snail’s pace. Needless to say, only a tiny percentage of those pictures is worth a second look but even if a generous one per cent is worth preserving that’s still 1500 images. Digital images are easy to preserve and every copy is perfect. That does not apply with ﬁlm. So my 365 is to scan at least one negative a day. Say it quickly and it sounds really easy but logistically it’s enough to make my teeth itch. Luckily I had the foresight to make a contact print of every ﬁlm so I can quickly look at a ﬁlm and work out which images (if any!) are to be scanned. And thanks to my ﬁling system, within minutes I’ll have the relevant strip of negatives in my hand.
EDITORIAL TEAM Editor Will Cheung FRPS ( 01223 499469 firstname.lastname@example.org Technical Writer Ian Fyfe ( 01223 499456 email@example.com Sub Editors Lisa Clatworthy and Hannah Bealey CONTRIBUTORS THIS ISSUE Lynne Maxwell, Richard Hopkins, Zoe Richards, Baxter Bradford, Mark Bridger, Del Barrett ADVERTISING TEAM Sales Director Matt Snow ( 01223 499453 firstname.lastname@example.org Key Accounts Maria Francis ( 01223 499457 email@example.com Key Accounts Mike Elliott ( 01223 499458 firstname.lastname@example.org Business Development Director Dave Stone ( 01223 499462 email@example.com
ABOVE I’m not sure how much it has changed but this was Colchester’s skyline 35 years ago. Scanning my old negs has brought memories ﬂooding back.
It took me a while to sort the logistics to allow my 365 to proceed. My ﬁlm scanner, a Nikon Super Coolscan 5000 bought in 2004, needed its driver software updated. I still have the original software CD but the software won’t work with my current Macs running the Lion OSX operating system. Fortunately, I have Macs going back several generations and found a laptop running the compatible Snow Leopard operating system. A few observations. One: because I am scanning at the highest possible quality for archive purposes each ﬁle is 140MB so I’ll be shopping for an extra hard drive. Two: scanning is one thing but given the age of the negatives many have scratches and scuffs so need work in Photoshop. Three: the Nikon software is horribly unstable and falls over with infuriating regularity. A crash a day is typical. I have downloaded the trial version of Vuescan, which is compatible with my desktop computer, so that might be worth the investment. I did know that third-party scanning softwares were available from Vuescan and Silverfast, but I didn’t want to spend any money. The Vuescan Pro version is $80, while Silverfast is stupidly priced. I am just about keeping up with my scanning 365 and even getting a few images in credit to account for the days when I’m not at home. I am also really enjoying going through my archive and every day since the project started I am to be found in a state of reverie, usually around 8pm, after dinner, as the pictures bring memories ﬂooding back. Memories – that’s what photography is really great for. WILLCHEUNG@BRIGHT-PUBLISHING.COM
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Published on Mar 18, 2013