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Photography news

Issue 2

19 November – 9 December 2013

Your FREE newspaper packed with the latest news, views and stories from the world of photography

Nikon goes retro

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Launches from Olympus, Pentax, Sigma, Profoto, Spider and Benro Read all about the newest gear inside

Insider tips on getting into the UK’s biggest salon

Yesteryear styling meets top-end technology in Nikon’s latest full-frame DSLR Nikon has added to its full-frame line-up with the Df. Dedicated to ‘pure photography’, it draws on the looks of classic Nikon F 35mm DSLRs and incorporates mechanical dials for control of ISO sensitivity, exposure compensation, exposure mode and release mode. The design also makes it Nikon’s lightest FX format DSLR, but it features magnesium alloy top, bottom and rear covers and is weathersealed to the same degree as the D800. Inside, professional grade technology includes the same 16.2-megapixel FX format sensor and EXPEED 3 processor as the flagship D4 to offer the same image quality, a maximum extended ISO sensitivity of 204,800 and continuous shooting rate of 5.5 frames-per-second. The 39-point autofocus system is sensitive down to -1EV and includes four AF area modes, including 3D tracking. The optical viewfinder provides 100%

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Southampton International’s chairman reveals all

frame coverage with a magnification of 0.7x, and you can use the Df in DX Crop Mode, which is activated as soon as you mount a DX lens. As well as retro looks, you can also go old-school with your lenses on the Df, since it’s compatible with vintage Nikkor lenses as well as all modern ones – a collapsible metering coupling lever lets you attach non-AI Nikkor lenses without an adaptor. Nevertheless, in aperture-priority or manual mode, you can still benefit from full aperture metering Article continues on page 3

INTERVIEW Turn the page to read what Nikon’s Hiro Sebata thinks the future holds for the company’s styling and its legions of DX format users.

• Nikon D610 tested • 4 lightweight DSLR alternatives rated See pages 19 and 28 for details

Issue 2 | Photography News


Photography News | Issue 2

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Latest photography news continued from front cover

Nikon goes retro by defining lens characteristics so the camera can recognise the aperture setting and calculate the exposure. Other highlights include a shutter unit tested to 150,000 cycles, an energy-saving design for 1400 shots on a full charge, Spot White Balance metering, a large 3.2-inch LCD monitor and a quiet release mode. The Nikon Df is available from 28 November in classic black or silver with black highlights and with a 50mm lens, at a price of £2,750. π To find out more, go to www.nikon.co.uk.

NEWS IN BRIEF Free Adobe software with Epson Buy an award-winning Epson R2000 A3+ printer between now and 14 January 2014, and you can get a copy of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 for free. The A3+ format allows you to print at 13x19 inches, and the R2000 is Epson’s most affordable A3+ printer, available for £448. www.epson.co.uk

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Retro DX format Nikon DSLR to follow? Product manager Hiro Sebata speaks to Photography News about the future of retro for Nikon and its loyal DX format users Words by Roger Payne

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

While the pricing for the Nikon Df puts it firmly into the realms of the serious enthusiast or professional photographer, it begs the question of whether the retro-styled DSLR is a one-off or a new departure for the company. After all, a number of manufacturers – most notably Fujifilm and Olympus – have enjoyed great success in designing models that hark back to the age of film. “We have no plans at the moment for further retro-styled digital SLRs, but I certainly hope this isn’t going to be one of a kind,” says Hiro Sebata, Nikon UK’s product manager for professional products speaking exclusively to Photography News. “It’s a camera that will attract a lot of attention, so it would be great to see a retro-styled model like this featuring a DX format sensor to broaden the appeal to an even wider audience.” Hiro also feels the Df could well persuade the company’s loyal film SLR users to finally make the switch to digital. “We still have a number of film SLR users for whom the looks and styling of this camera will be both familiar and appealing. This could be the camera that sees them making the switch over to digital.”

Do you like the looks of the Df? What about the price? Are Nikon on to a winner or do you think it’s way off the mark? Let us know on opinion@photographynews.co.uk.

The next issue of Photography News is out 9 December

Tamron launches monster lens Giotto’s gifts New ultra-telephoto zoom keeps 600mm compact Tamron has announced the development of a 150600mm f/5-6.3 lens for full-frame and APS-C DSLRs. It replaces the existing 200-500mm model, and has been designed to minimise the movement of the elements when zooming – this keeps it as compact as possible despite the increase in zoom range. It also includes Vibration Compensation (Tamron’s own image stabilisation technology), an Ultrasonic Silent Drive AF motor and Extended Bandwidth

and Angular Dependency Coating to reduce reflections, flare and ghosting. The lens is a nineblade design, with an almost circular diaphragm. Finishing touches include a new external finish for a higher-end look and a tripod mount. Canon, Nikon and Sony mounts are in the pipeline, but availability and pricing is to be confirmed. π To find out more, go to www.intro2020.co.uk.

for Christmas Four tripod kits for the festive season only

Especially for Christmas, Giotto’s is offering four special edition kits. Two of these include YTL Silk Road tripods, which have Y-shaped centre columns for a 30% space saving when folded. Aluminium or carbon fibre models are available with three-way heads, priced at £129 and £199 respectively. Two cheaper special edition kits are also available, with GT tripods and three-way heads – priced at £89 and £119. All kits are available now. π To find out more, go to www.giottostripods.co.uk.

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Latest photography news

Profoto launches off-camera flash with TTL Revolutionary flash is cross between a speedlight and studio head

Profoto’s B1 system offers TTL control.

Profoto has unveiled a new concept in off-camera flash with its B1, a portable, battery-powered flash head that features TTL exposure control – Canon’s E-TTL system is supported now, and support for Nikon’s i-TTL will be added in 2014. It also offers full manual control if you prefer, and it’s compatible with all Profoto’s Light Shaping Tools – over 120 are available. Using Profoto’s Air Remote System, you can control B1 lights in up to three groups at a range of up to 300m in either manual or TTL mode. Each head has a maximum output of 500Ws, ten times more powerful than an average speedlight, and output can be controlled in 1/10EV steps across a range of 9EV. Recycle times are as low as 1.9 seconds, and each battery provides up to 220 full-power flashes. In Quick Burst mode, it’s also capable of up to 20 flashes per second. A range of accessories is also available for the B1. Besides the standard charger, there’s a quick charger that halves the charging time to one hour and a car charger for when you’re on the move. A choice of two backpacks – M or XS – offers space for either two B1 heads with stands or one B1 head alone, and there’s an accessory pouch for the Air Remote and chargers. The B1 will be available in December, priced at £1295 for one head, battery, Air System and bag.

NEWS IN BRIEF Sigma 24-105mm price confirmed The recommended retail price of the new Sigma 24-105mm f/4 lens reported in PN last month has been confirmed as £849.99. Canon users can get their hands on one before November’s out, but availability of Nikon and Sony mounts is still to be announced. www. sigma-imaging-uk.com

π To find out more, go to www.profoto.com.

New Profoto umbrellas Twelve high-quality models include deeper versions Alongside the B1, Profoto has introduced 12 umbrellas, including two new ranges: the Umbrella Deep and Umbrella Shallow. All are designed to be as sturdy as possible, with fabrics to withstand heavy-duty use and coated metal elements to prevent rusting. The Umbrella Deep is available in 130cm and 165cm sizes, and the Umbrella Shallow is available in 85cm and 105cm sizes. Both are available in three fabrics: white, silver and translucent. Each can also be paired with a diffuser that can be pulled over the front to create a large softbox with a softer and more even spread of light. π To find out more, go to www.profoto.com.

Photography News | Issue 2

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Latest photography news

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Olympus compact with OM-D style The Stylus 1 takes its looks and technology from Olympus’s flagship CSCs Olympus has a new premium compact that combines a larger sensor with a wide zoom range in a pocketable body. Modelled on the flagship OM-D line of CSCs, the Stylus 1 also incorporates the same TruePic VI image processor as in the OM-D E-M5, and combines this with a larger 1/1.7-inch back illuminated CMOS sensor with 12 megapixels. It also has a 1.44 million-dot electronic viewfinder like the E-M5, and the speedy Fast AF system from Olympus’s CSC range. The lens is an ultra slim zoom that provides an equivalent focal length of 28-300mm and a constant maximum aperture of f/2.8. You can even add an accessory 1.7x teleconverter for focal lengths up to an equivalent of 510mm, and it includes built-in VCM image stabilisation to reduce camera shake when using the teleconverter. Despite this, it retracts when not in use so the camera fits in your pocket. The body has been designed to provide comprehensive manual control, including an analogue/digital Hybrid Control Ring on the lens – in analogue mode, it works as a zoom or focus ring, while in digital mode it can be assigned custom functions. Built-in Wi-Fi also provides full control of the camera in any mode from a smartphone or tablet using the Olympus Image Share app. The Stylus 1 will be available in late November for £550. We’ll be testing it very soon.

The Stylus 1 is a compact with attitude.

Free Olympus viewfinder Olympus is offering a free VF-4 electronic viewfinder with every PEN E-P5 body or E-P5 14-42mm kit purchased between now and 5 January 2014. You can claim your free viewfinder through redemption, and the offer is available through high street stores, online and via Olympus’s social media channels. You’ll have until 2 February 2014 to claim your free VF-4. www.olympus.co.uk

π To find out more, go to www.olympus.co.uk.

Spider security Carry your camera securely on your hip for fast access The Spider Camera Holster is a neat belt system that lets you carry your camera securely on your hips, but it’s ready for immediate use with a quick flick of a locking mechanism. It could be perfect for wedding, sports and press photographers. The Spider Pro Belt kit, which includes the belt, special camera plate and pin, sells for £110 and suits any tripod plate including Arca Swiss. The Monkey Spider at £20 can be added to hold a flashgun or battery pack. π To find out more, go to www.interfitphotographic.com.

NEWS IN BRIEF Canon cashback Canon is offering up to £50 cashback on camera bodies and lenses. EOS cameras with cashback offers include the 600D, 700D, 100D and M, and you can also save on a handful of EF-S and EF lenses, Speedlites and compacts. There’s also up to £100 off Legria video products, and £20 off the Pixma MG7150 printer. Claim before 26 January 2014. www.canon.co.uk

Manfrotto shopping Order from Manfrotto’s online Christmas shop before 31 December 2013 and you get free postage and packaging. There is a range of kit on offer including LED lights, mini tripods and fullblown tripods. www.manfrotto seasonalgifts.com

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Latest photography news

New bags from Benro

IMAGES Take your club to the Lake District next year.

Three new ranges have features to suit different photographers’ kit needs Benro has announced three new camera bag ranges, including backpacks, messenger and shoulder bags in a variety of sizes. The Ranger Pro Backpack range is designed for nature and sports photographers. An upper compartment that’s larger than the lower compartment distributes weight evenly for reduced pressure and better ventilation, while there’s easy access with front, upper, lower and side openings. Three sizes are available: the 400N, 500N and 600N, and the biggest can hold up to two DSLRs, six to eight lenses, two flashes and a 17-inch laptop. Also providing quick access are the Cool Walker Messenger Bags, designed specifically to open speedily for rapid access, with plenty of pockets and an ergonomic shoulder strap for comfort. The bottom of the bag is also reinforced with durable shockproof and abrasion resistant material. The third of Benro’s new series is the Smart Series Shoulder Bags, which allow you to carry small amounts of equipment – up to one DSLR with three lenses, a flash and a 12-inch laptop. All the bags are available now, with prices ranging from £130 to £150 for the Ranger Pro Backpacks, £82-89 for the Cool Walker Messenger Bags, and £35-£48 for the Smart Series Shoulder Bags. π To find out more, go to www.kenro.co.uk.

Exclusive camera club holidays ABOVE Inside and out, the Benro Ranger Pro Backpack.

Unique opportunity for a photographic holiday in the Lakes

Lakeland Photographic Holidays is offering the opportunity for a camera club to take over its entire property in the Lakeland village of Braithwaite on specific dates in February, May, June and September 2014. With spectacular Lake District landscapes and walks on the doorstep, the property can sleep up to 10 people, and offers a lounge with an extensive photographic and general library, a digital darkroom and a lecture room with PC and 52-inch HD screen. Camera clubs will be free to arrange their own itineraries, while guidance on good photographic locations according to the season, weather and the group can be provided. The property is on offer for a minimum of six people for three nights or more. Get in touch with Lakeland Photographic Holidays for prices and available dates. π To find out more, www.lakelandphotohols.com.

New Pentax lenses zoom in First zoom in Limited Lens series lands, along with world’s smallest wide-angle

Pentax has launched the first zoom in its Limited Lens series, a 20-40mm f/2.8-4 for use with the Pentax K-mount cameras. It’s been treated with the Pentax HD coating to reduce reflections by more than half compared to conventional coatings, and its optical construction is designed to minimise aberrations throughout the zoom range. It’s also weather resistant, another first in the Limited Lens series. It’s priced at £850, but availability is to be confirmed. Also new is the world’s smallest and lightest wide-angle zoom, exclusively for use with Pentax Q-mount cameras. The Pentax-08 Wide Zoom provides an equivalent zoom range of 17.5-27mm. Its price will be £430, and availability is yet to be announced. π To find out more, go to www.ricoh-imaging.co.uk. IMAGES Duo of new lenses from Pentax.

Photography News | Issue 2

NEWS IN BRIEF Buy a Tokina, get a Lowepro If you buy any Tokina lens, you’ll now get a free 11x14cm Lowepro lens case with it to keep it safe. This offer is available in store and online at participating retailers, and will continue while stocks last. www.tokinalens.com EOS-1D X update Canon has announced a firmware update for the EOS-1D X, which will be available in January 2014. It makes a number of improvements, the most significant being in AF tracking capabilities for better performance in low light, as well as more flexibility in settings when using ISO Auto, and changes to AF point selection settings. www.canon.co.uk

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Latest photography news

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Your thoughts on Photography News Issue 1 of PN received great feedback – thank you! Here is a small selection of your kind comments “I took a few copies of PN to camera club on Thursday evening and they disappeared faster than the chocolate biscuits at tea break. It was apparent as the evening wore on that they were very well received. I overheard comments such as ‘this is good’, ‘this is interesting’, ‘seen this?’ and ‘any left?’ When it was time to introduce our speaker for the evening, instead of getting the members to stop chatting, we had to get their noses out of the papers.” Barbara Jones, Stourport Camera Club “Just a quick message to say what a pleasant surprise last week at camera club when we received the new publication. It was a good read and I liked the fact it was in a newspaper format, which makes it different from the run-of-the-mill magazines. Well done and here’s looking forward to the next issue.” Robin Harmsworth, Tonbridge Camera Club “Our members feel that this is a great initiative for the club photographer and will eagerly await future issues. We hope to contribute items of news, exhibitions and outings in the future.” Paul Bowker, Spalding Photography Society Ed: Paul, you and everyone else is welcome to contribute to PN. Please see Club news on page 8 for the contact details.

“We had ours a couple of weeks ago. If it wasn’t for the fact I opened the delivery I wouldn’t have got a copy. They disappeared quicker than the biscuits during the tea break!” Mark Stone “Please convey to Will Cheung and all the production team our congratulations on what is an excellent news sheet, and which most certainly has gone down well with our discerning membership – and not just because it is free and we are Scottish! We look forward with enthusiasm to subsequent issues.” Dr Robert Brown, Paisley Photographic Society Ed: Thanks, Robert – and are you implying that Scottish folk are tight! “I was recently sent 20 copies of your new newspaper Photography News which I passed on to our members. The reception was fantastic. Needless to say there were numerous unhappy members who were unable to get a copy.” Colin Churcher, Cheam Camera Club Ed: Requests for more copies will be considered. If you do want more, please email admin@ photography-news.co.uk. However, please bear in mind we have limited copies and it’d be great if copies of Photography News were shared around. “I hope things go well for the publication as a lot of work has obviously gone into its production.” Judy Knights, North Norfolk Photographic Society

Congratulations regarding the new publication, with the present financial climate and squeeze on luxury type items I think your paper will go down very well Alan Taylor, TTL Camera Club

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“Tis an excellent read. We’ve got them on the counter at Wilkinson Cameras in Southport.” Melvin Nicholson Ed: Wilkinsons is among several photo retailers – Calumet, Cameraworld, Jessops, London Camera Exchange and Park Cameras – getting Photography News and the list will grow soon. You can also email admin@photography-news.co.uk to get your camera club on the mailing list.

We had some of these the other week, I didn’t manage to get hold of one they went like hot cakes! Anthony Clay

π To tell us what you think of Photography News or photography in general, drop us a line at opinion@photography-news.co.uk. And to get copies of PN for your club, email admin@ photography-news.co.uk.

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Camera clubs

Smethwick PS wins by a point Smethwick Photographic Society (SPS) emerged triumphant in a very close contest at the recent Inter-Club Print Championship 2013 at Connah’s Quay, the 14th and last one at this venue. “I really thought we had come second and we were over the moon when we realised we’d won,” says SPS’s president Roger Parry. Joint second, and just one point behind the winners, were Dumfries CC, Inn Focus Group and Wigan 10 FC. π To find out more, or to sign up for the free PAGB e-newsletter, go to www.thepagb.org.uk.

Peter Siviter

SCPF’s book

Southern Counties Photographic Federation celebrates 50 years with new publication

π To find out more and to purchase the book, go to www.southerncountiespf.org.uk.

Enter now!

John Hodge

Entry to the PAGB 2014 GB Cup is open now and closes 18 January 2014. It’s one of the world’s biggest inter-club competitions and every club will have their submission scored by a judging panel and will later receive a DVD of the best work submitted. Awards are on offer for individuals as well as clubs. There are three Cup competitions: GB Cup (Open), GB Cup (Small clubs) and GB Cup (Nature). It costs £6 per club per competition.

π To find out more and to print out an entry form, go to www.pagbcup.org. uk.

Roger Ford

To mark its 50 years celebration the Southern Counties Photographic Federation (SCPF) has produced a photographic commemorative book. Chichester member Peter Rocchiccioli came up with the idea and brought the book to fruition. The SCPF’s 62 member clubs were invited to submit photographs that depict their area/club over the 50 years. The resulting book contains many pictures of the southern region including the Isle of Wight, Guernsey and Jersey. There’s even one of the then Princess Elizabeth who was the patron of Windlesham & Camberley Camera Club. There will be an official book launch on 15 December (10.30am-3.30pm) at Jubilee Hall, Timsbury SO51 0NH.

NEWS IN BRIEF

On show until 20 November An exhibition by Roger Ford FRPS and Angela Ford ARPS at RPS London Angela and Roger Ford have been making images since the mid 1970s. This exhibition reveals their photographic journey to the present day and encompasses a selection of monochrome, colour and infrared prints. Angela’s work illustrates her sensitivity with people and places, whilst Roger’s demonstrates his fascination with movement and moment. Entry is free and the location is the RPS London, in Peyton Place, Greenwich SE10 8RS. Open Mondays to Fridays 9am-5pm, Saturdays 12-4pm. π To find out more, go to www.rps.org. PN really does need your help to fill its pages, so if your club has a big speaker appearing soon and you want every seat occupied, or if your club (or an individual member) has just scooped a big award or gained a distinction, or you have an exhibition on, we’d love to hear from you so please ask your secretary or publicity officer to get in touch. Stories should be 250 words maximum and accompanied by a high resolution JPEG (at least 2400 pixels on the longest dimension) and emailed to clubnews@photography-news.com. If we need anything else we will contact you. Thank you in advance for your help.

Photography News | Issue 2

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Competitions

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FINAL shoot-out

Vineyard challenge

Words by Will Cheung

The largest vineyard in the UK was an appropriate location for an Advanced Photographer challenge, kindly sponsored by Samsung and Denbies Wine Estate

Advanced Photographer magazine regularly runs contests, and on this occasion five readers claimed places on a special challenge, as well as winning a Samsung 64GB SD card, after submitting their best landscape photo. This shoot-out challenge was the competition final, with the winning photographer netting a brilliant prize bundle comprising a Samsung 256GB SSD, a Samsung 64GB SD card and a Denbies Experience (a wine tour, dinner and an overnight stay at Denbies). The challenge on the day was to capture the best possible landscape image in the allotted time. This landscape challenge was due to end at 10am, but heavy mist curtailed the session, so plan B swung into operation: the intrepid five had to take pictures using the Samsung Galaxy, with the best shot winning a Samsung EX2F compact worth £399. So by 11am, the judges had a bunch of pictures to assess. Stuart Michaels was pronounced the winner of the Samsung EX2F and David Morton the winner of the landscape challenge, and he received the superb prize bundle. Well done to all the photographers for getting stuck in.

David Morton Neil Malton

BOTTOM LEFT “It’s a beautiful location and you could easily return at different seasons for a variety of shots.” Cheryl Meek

David Candlish

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left “The location is certainly an interesting one.” Stuart Michaels – Samsung EX2F winner

This reader shoot-out took place at Denbies Wine Estate, Dorking, Surrey. The estate is 627 acres of which 265 are planted with vines, making it three times the size of any UK vineyard. The winner of the shoot-out scooped a full tour, three-course dinner with wine and overnight B&B accommodation at Denbies Farmhouse. To find out more about Denbies Wine Estate, go to www.denbies.co.uk.

Cheryl Meek

Samsung is making an enviable reputation for its memory products with performance leading solid state drives (SSDs), SD and microSD cards. Its SSD 840 Pro SATA III is the fastest, most reliable solid state drive on the market and a 250GB version was part of the winner’s package here. All five readers who qualified for this shoot-out also won a Samsung 64GB SDXC UHS-1 card. Samsung’s SDHC and SDXC cards provide ultimate levels of durability and are waterproof, shock proof, resistant to magnetic fields, X-rays and extreme temperatures. All Samsung Plus and Pro range SD and microSD cards come complete with a tenyear warranty. To find out more, go to www.samsung.com.

Denbies

Stuart Michaels

Samsung Memory

ABOVE “I found it personally very challenging.” David Morton – prize bundle winner

top right The shoot-out finalists on location with Samsung’s Stefanie Sears-Black and PN’s Will Cheung. MIDDLE right “Seeing the sun come up through the mist was a great experience, but then the mist rolled in.” David Candlish BOTTOM right “I enjoyed the day and the format of the shoot.” Neil Malton

π The full version of this feature is in issue 38 of Advanced Photographer; on sale from 21 November, it costs £4.95. Issue 38 is packed with great pictures from Photoshop artist Brian Beaney and serial salon winner Brian Hopper, technique ideas and reviews, including the Olympus OM-D E-M1. Issue 2 | Photography News


Photography News | Issue 2

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Opinion

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BEFORE THE JUDGE

Ann Miles FRPS Each issue, a respected judge or exhibition selector shares their thoughts and experiences with us. This month, we put exhibition selector and RPS distinction panellist Ann Miles FRPS in the hot seat Words by Ann Miles Strictly speaking, I am an exhibition selector rather than a judge. I do the occasional judging, but I don’t stand up week after week and judge live. I am a PAGB judge but that again is selecting pictures rather than judging them. Selecting means I pick work but it’s rarely in front of an audience of the photographers. Of course where I do comment on people’s work is at the RPS – I am on the Associate and Fellowship distinctions visual arts panel. There, you are expected to say what you think about the panels in front of you whether they pass or fail. I have been selecting for at least 15 years. Selecting for exhibitions is very satisfying. It’s hard work too. Sometimes you can have 3000 pictures to look through and a lot of them can be very poor and then you get a run of better ones. When you have finished and decided the pass rate, seeing the final selection is satisfying and, actually, the standard is very high. I do a number of RPS distinction advisory days and I do enjoy helping people with their panels before they submit – I give advice via email too. Often the panels can be quite poor and you know you’re going to disappoint the authors, but they have to know there is room for improvement. The standard of ‘everyday’ photography has improved enormously, especially with software like Adobe Photoshop Elements, which is priced to be within range of most people. The latest version has everything most people need or they just use Lightroom. The latest Raw converters let you get the most tones out of an image without blown highlights, and no blocked shadows. The quality of printing has improved enormously too. Certainly the overall technical standard of pictures has gone up, but I think the mood of pictures has gone down. Now that you can fill the shadows and pull back the highlights it means you don’t get that lovely contrast you used to get with darkroom prints.

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Sadly there are some poor club judges around. They describe the content of the picture rather than constructively commenting

BELOW One of Ann’s own prize-winning images, taken on a rainy day at the Louvre, Paris.

Selecting and judging is very subjective, which is why selection panels comprise three people – you sometimes get disagreements among the panel, with one selector giving a 2 and another awarding the top score of 5. RPS distinctions are normally judged by a panel of five assessors and a chairman. Sadly there are some poor club judges around. Generally the poor ones describe the content of the picture rather than constructively commenting on the image. Or they have a pet like or hate and they tell you that, then mark up or down accordingly. Judges need to give a rounded feel for what does and doesn’t work and whether they are getting a feel of what the photographer intended and then point out that it’s personal opinion. I know from experience that some of my images won’t do very well with certain judges and do better with others. It’s always going to be like that. When I enter a competition I never look at who the judges are. It can go either way. If they do a subject themselves they may mark you down because they think yours aren’t as good or they might mark you up because they know how difficult the subject is. I think the most common mistake judges make is not giving enough positive criticism. And they don’t give the person the help that they need to improve their work. In terms of trends, the Europeans, particularly the Germans and Eastern Europeans, are producing artistic, beautiful and creative work which we are generally not seeing over here. In this country the trend in the national and international exhibitions where I select is towards images featuring a lady or figure, often a Goth, in some sort of attractive gear, superimposed onto a scene, like a landscape, a dark sea or coming down stairs. The people producing this type of work are very, very skilled workers and their work stands out because of that. It would be good to have a wider variety in the winning images, but this seems to be a trend. In around 1997 when I was getting fed up that my pictures weren’t being accepted, I manufactured one with a lady in a lavender field – it got accepted wherever I sent it. Non-manipulated images do have a problem competing against this type of highly manipulated work. When you enter a club or other competition, you are playing a game and there are ‘rules’, not written down but there nevertheless. You might have a photograph that breaks the ‘rules’, for example by having a very bland, light, distracting sky. When criticised, you might say ‘well, I like it like that’. You might like it, but you have chosen to play the game with its ‘rules’. I think the best advice to improve your success rate is to take lots of pictures. I have a daily blog and that forces me to take pictures. My husband and I compete to see who gets their blog entry up first when we have been out photographing. It gets me thinking about pictures and getting images off the computer – so take lots of pictures!

MEET THE JUDGE Ann Miles FRPS: Selector and judge, Ann photographs people, architecture, nature and landscape, often combining her images with watercolour painting. She also lectures and offers one-to-one courses.

Home club Cambridge Camera Club, www.cambcc.org.uk What is your favourite camera? I’ve had the Canon EOS 5D Mark III for just over a year. I also have a Canon EOS-1D Mark IV for sport. What is your favourite lens? I have two, the Canon 300mm f/2.8 for birds and the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 standard zoom. I got the latter when my 24-105mm was off being mended and I had a wedding coming up. What is your favourite photo accessory? I have a fairly lightweight Manfrotto tripod that’s just about good enough for wildlife work. Who is your favourite photographer? Josef Hoflehner – his work is a bit like Michael Kenna’s, but I think he is even better. I went to St Petersburg because of him. He works in film and digital and he did some fine pictures at Maho Beach on the island of St Martin in the Caribbean Sea. This is the beach where jet airliners roar over as low as four metres above the sunbathers’ heads and Hoflehner’s images are simply amazing. A book, Jet Airliner, is available for €59 from his website, www.josefhoflehner.com. What are your favourite subjects? Buildings, snow, trees, people, nature – anything. Creative work using multiple layers in different blending modes to combine photographs and watercolours. What awards have you won? I am an FRPS, MPAGB, EFIAP. I got my fellowship with a visual arts panel.

above Winslow Edge.

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Competitions INTERVIEW

Southampton International Exhibition Last year, the Southampton International Exhibition (SIE) attracted over 10,000 entries from 61 countries so it’s one of the UK’s biggest photographic salons. For the last decade its chairman has been Glyn Edmunds ARPS EFIAP/s APSA, and 2014 is his last one, so it seemed appropriate that Photography News had a chat with him

Interview by Will Cheung

Photography News (PN): Tell us a bit about your own photographic background – what is your earliest memory of photography, when did you start and how did you get to be inspired by photography? Glyn Edmunds (GE): I recall the ubiquitous Kodak box camera with its 120 roll film being produced by my late father for family occasions, but it was not until I met my partner, now wife, Jean Brooks in the mid 1980s that I moved from a ‘happy snapper’ to a keen amateur. PN: Who are your favourite photographers? GE: In alphabetical order: Vic and the late Mary Attfield, Jean Brooks, Dave Mason, Leigh Preston, Willy Ronis, Tim Rudman and Chrissie Westgate. PN: Give us a potted history and highlights of the SIE’s 101 years. GE: The Southampton Camera Club was formed in 1896 so it’s over 117 years old and held its first exhibition in 1901 and its first international was in 1902. A few years were lost during the wars, which meant that we did not reach our centenary exhibition until 2013.

Daybreak, Skippool Creek by Norrie Phillips DPAGB

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Competitions

PN: How long have you been involved in the SIE? GE: I joined the committee in 1998 and have put together all the catalogues since 1999 and then became chairman in 2003. PN: What have been the big changes since the first event you organised? GE: In a word, digital. PN: What do you feel have been your greatest achievements during your tenure as organiser? GE: Overseeing the transition from slides (including 6x6cm) to digital. We are justly proud of our A4 colour catalogues which have up to 84 pages. So many exhibitions just send out a CD and most exhibitors, myself included, never even put them in their computers. Apart from the coffee-table books few catalogues are as good as the Southampton ones. The reputation of the exhibition has been enhanced over the years and we are now one of the premier UK salons along with Bristol, Edinburgh and Smethwick.

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PN: How many entries do you get – typically? GE: 10,000 plus PN: Have entry numbers varied much in recent years? Or is it pretty constant? GE: Entries shot up with the introduction of digital and grew year on year until big rises in postage costs and the proliferation of exhibitions took place. In the last few years the number of salons approved by FIAP (one of the major supporters of exhibition photography) has risen by 50%. There are simply too many exhibitions for the number of exhibitors. Many clubs seem to see a digital exhibition as a cash cow and have little understanding of the amount of work it involves. PN: Has digital impacted on the way people enter, ie. is projected digital image much bigger than prints (in percentage terms) or are prints still very popular? GE: This year 77% of our entries were digital, but we were pleased that prints have held up at nearly a quarter of the entry. The majority of entries come in online with payment via Paypal. In 2013 I only mailed out four hard copy entry forms. PN: How do you choose your selectors/judges? GE: I use the PAGB Judges’ List (well under 100 in the UK) and the London Salon. Bill Wisden kindly nominated me to go on the PAGB list, so I’ve been active at that level since 2000. I only invite people I know or have been recommended to me by someone whose opinion I value. My team help me with natural history judges, as I’m not a specialist.

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TOP Depths of winter by Hunter Kennedy ARPS EFIAP MPAGB ABOVE Ribbon sweetlips and fan coral by Spike Piddock AFIAP DPAGB RIGHT Girl by the window by Leigh Preston FRPS EFIAP MPAGB

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Competitions There is evidence of a backlash against the heavily manipulated images and some exhibitions now offer a ‘traditional’ section PN: How big is the team involved in administering the SIE? GE: We have a wonderful committee of 12. PN: Which are the most successful countries, generally? GE: 47% of our entries come from the UK – most internationals get a disproportionate entry from their own country. PN: Who are the up-and-coming countries? GE: Only 16 of the 61 countries who entered this year exceeded 100 entries. China and Turkey are on the rise. PN: What are the current imaging trends – in terms of image style and content? GE: Heavily manipulated images – more graphic art than photography – and natural history are both very strong. PN: What, in your opinion, will be the next big trend in imaging style? GE: If I knew this and my crystal ball was a bit less cloudy I’d be a rich man. There is evidence of a backlash against the heavily manipulated images and some exhibitions now offer a ’traditional’ section for images straight out of the camera with minimal processing. It’s an interesting idea but a nightmare to police. PN: From your personal standpoint, what sort of imagery excites you most? GE: Black & white in general but street and figure are two of my favourite areas. My website is www.glynedmundsphotography.co.uk.

ABOVE Waiting by Ann McDonald ARPS DPAGB won the PSA Silver Medal for Best Seascape. Ann is one of the judges for SIE 2014. BELOW Dreaming of trees by Bryan Waddington LRPS won the FIAP Gold Medal.

PN: What are the biggest weaknesses you see in entries? GE: Quality. Sadly as the numbers go up the quality seems to come down. I suspect many entrants do little or nothing by way of post-processing and never project their entries before submitting them. In print sections we still receive lots of enprints. The entry fees are welcome but it is sad that some entrants literally have no idea of the high standard required of 21st century photographic exhibitions. PN: Do you have any advice for photographers wanting to enter and be successful? GE: Take a good look at the Southampton website – where all our award-winning images are shown – and other high end salons. Only send in the best images you can possibly produce and preferably show them to a fellow club member or someone who enters international exhibitions on a regular basis before hitting send. PN: What are your future ambitions for the SIE? GE: To retire! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my 16 years on the Southampton International Exhibition team and we have come a long way, but the balance between producing my own images and running an exhibition and doing lots of photographic admin has swung too far towards the latter. I have a very able successor so I will enjoy taking a back seat from next year.

PN: Is there anything else you want to add that hasn’t been mentioned? GE: It has been wonderful to be in charge of such a committed team and to see a venerable exhibition go from strength to strength. It is inevitable that the bouquets and brickbats are mostly aimed at the chairman, but last year I was nominated for and presented with an Associateship of the Photographic Society of America (APSA) for services to photography. I see this as a reward for the whole team. Still, I was really chuffed as I was only the 11th UK photographer to be so honoured since these awards were first presented back in 1940. PN: Thank you for your time.

Entry for the 2014 Southampton International Exhibition (SIE) is now open and the closing date is 2 February 2014 The SIE is run under the patronage of FIAP, the PSA and the RPS and offers over 25 awards in each class. The entrant with the highest overall acceptance total wins the FIAP Blue Badge for Best Author. Six entry classes are available: mono print, colour print, open digital, nature digital, photo travel digital and nature print. π To find out more, go to www.southamptoninternationalexhibition.co.uk.

Photography News | Issue 2

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Advertisement feature

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Tamron lens

A truly super zoom Tamron’s 18-270mm f/3.56.3 Di II VC PZD – the only lens you’ll ever need?

shot at 18mm

Photography should be fun and spontaneous but if you’re heading out for a day’s shooting, you may be tempted to cram all your kit and the kitchen sink into your bag to make sure you don’t miss a shot. Wide-angle, telezoom, macro – the weight soon adds up! But what if there was a lens that did it all – capturing wide angles, close-ups of subjects far away and everything in between? Luckily, that ‘what if’ is now a reality in the sleek shape of the Tamron 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD. Vast focal range This lens is a real groundbreaker for a number of reasons. It covers such a vast focal range, eradicating the need to pack several lenses in your kitbag which will not only slow you down as you swap optics, potentially missing the moment, but will no doubt give you back ache as well! Not only that, the Tamron is also packed with some cuttingedge technology. You probably noticed the PZD letters in the lens’ title? They stand for Piezo Ultrasonic Drive, which is at the heart of the lens’ system. As well as allowing the lens to be more compact, this technology also brings faster and quieter focusing too. The VC letters indicate that Tamron’s own Vibration Compensation technology is built in. This helps stabilise the lens from movement during an exposure, meaning less of the dreaded camera shake, resulting in sharper images. Lastly, all this focal length and amazing technology is packed into a lens that weighs just 450g!

50mm

100mm

200mm

270mm

IMAGES From wide-angle views to tight close-ups, the Tamron 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD covers it all!

Go super long The build quality of this lens is first class and, when used on APS-C cameras, the Tamron gives an effective focal length in excess of 400mm. Equivalent to 27-405mm on Nikons and 28-430mm on Canons, this puts it well into the realm of wildlife and sports photography that was previously only attainable with pricey optics costing double the price of the Tamron 18-270mm. Available for Canon, Nikon and Sony cameras, the Tamron 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD retails from around £350.

A real groundbreaker. It covers a vast focal range and is packed with cutting-edge technology

To find out more, go to www.tamron.co.uk. www.photography-news.co.uk

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Advertisement feature fujifilm x-e2

Get the quality to bag first place Always the runner-up in your camera club competitions? If an extra dollop of image quality could help you nab that elusive first place, the Fujifilm X-E2 could supply it Camera club photo competitions are loads of fun, but it can be frustrating if you try your best only to be told that your shots are lacking on the image quality front. While it’s always the photographer, not the camera, that makes an interesting image, you can improve the quality of your creations by investing in a camera with cutting-edge sensor technology, such as the Fujifilm X-E2. Superior image quality The 16-megapixel X-E2 is the replacement for the massively successful X-E1, a camera that switched DSLR users everywhere on to compact system cameras. Sporting over 60 improvements from the original, the X-E2 boasts the X-Trans II sensor – a magnificent piece of technology that’s behind the camera’s amazing image quality. If you’re not familiar with the how the X-Trans II sensor works and how it delivers jaw-dropping quality, here’s a little bit of science… On typical sensors, the pixels are arranged in small groupings. However, with the X-Trans II sensor, the groups are larger (often described as more random) and it’s this unique arrangement that is responsible for the higher image quality and fewer examples of moiré (a pattern caused by interference). Finally, if there’s one thing that shows up a shoddy sensor, it’s images taken in low light. Thankfully, the X-E2 controls digital noise remarkably well throughout its vast ISO range (100-25,600). There’s more to the X-E2 than just its fantastic image quality though. This lightweight CSC also packs a number of extra features that will come in handy in a photographer’s quest to bag a camera club photo contest gong. The EXR II processor is the engine of the camera and allows for lightning

Photography News | Issue 2

TOP RIGHT With lightning fast responses and autofocus, you won’t miss the crucial moment – like snapping the subject arriving centre stage. RIGHT Shooting at dusk take advantage of the X-E2’s vast ISO range to get noisefree images. below A prizewinning proposition – the lightweight and stylish X-E2.

fast autofocus (locking on to subjects in just 0.08 seconds), a start-up time of just 0.5 seconds and a shutter-lag time of 0.5 seconds – ensuring you don’t miss that special, prize-winning moment. The super-efficient processor also allows a fast continuous shooting rate; the X-E2 can rattle off seven frames-per-second – perfect for fast-moving action sequences. Creative options Experts are calling the X-E2 a modern classic and the accolade is perfectly suited when you take a look at the camera’s film simulation mode. It renders images with the same effects as you used to get shooting with Velvia, Astia or Provia films. Creative options are plentiful too, with features such as the Motion Panorama and Multi Exposure functions. Motion Panorama allows you to capture a seamless panorama, simply by sweeping the camera across a field of view, while the Multi Exposure feature overlays two images to produce a creative effect worthy of winning first place in any competition. And each image can be reviewed on the high-performance three-inch 1,040k dot LCD monitor, which even sports an electronic level display – you can wave goodbye to wonky horizons for good!

This lightweight camera packs a huge amount of technology and a heavyweight punch Classic styling Perhaps the most impressive element of the X-E2 is that all this cutting-edge technology is squeezed into a compact, retro-styled body, so you can also look the real deal while capturing award-winning images. The X-E2 is available in a classic silver/ black or a discreet all-black colour combination – the latter will probably appeal more to those who like street or candid photography. In short, the X-E2 is photo dynamite; a compact and lightweight camera that packs a huge amount of technology and a heavyweight punch. If you’re looking to step up and start winning camera club photo competitions, the X-E2’s image quality, ease of use and creative shooting options will help get you over the line and into first place. To find out more, go to www.fujifilm.co.uk. www.photography-news.co.uk


Opinion

17 speakers’ corner

Please yourself This is your chance to climb up on your soapbox and have a rant. Get in touch if you have something you want to get off your chest. This issue, John Gravett urges you to photograph what you want – not what the judge wants! Words by John Gravett AFIAP ARPS DPAGB I have been running photographic workshops in the Lake District for 15 years now, and I’ve been a member of camera clubs since the 1970s. I also judge at camera club level, and have judged national and international exhibitions. I still often hear: ‘I can’t do that – the judge won’t like it.’ Let’s get something clear – the majority of people reading this will be pursuing photography as a hobby rather than a career, therefore the only person they have to satisfy photographically is themselves. It’s equally important for me – at this time – to allay any fears that this is just a ‘have a pop at judges’ piece – I love camera clubs and I have huge admiration for judges, most of whom give up much time and share their experience with other photographers for little more than petrol money. Sadly, though, there are a hard core of photographers (however small), who take everything a judge says as gospel, and this simply is not the case. One thing I usually say on the first day of my workshops is “If a judge/critic says something about your photograph that you agree with – take it on board and file that in part of your brain for the next time you’re out shooting – if they say something you don’t agree with, forget it” (and that includes everything I say too). I even know a hard core of ‘pot hunters’ – those who habitually win all their club’s trophies – who keep detailed notes on certain judges’ favourite subjects and styles, and take and enter suitable pictures in their camera club competitions. To me, photography is – as with all forms of art – about choice; what you choose to include in a picture, how you choose to compose it, your choice of focal length – they all affect the look and feel of your photograph. Just because I arrive at a location with a group of guests and reach for a telephoto lens because I’ve seen a distant detail or the opportunity to shoot something simple using telephoto compression, doesn’t mean that the guest standing next to me fitting their wide-angle on the camera has got it wrong – we’re both simply choosing to take different pictures. I hear (and read) all too often about the rule of thirds, keeping the subject out of the centre of the picture, reading pictures from left to right and so on. Rules of thirds and off-centre compositions are great backbones for composition, but what isn’t

To me, photography is about choice: what you choose to include, how you compose, your choice of focal length www.photography-news.co.uk

stressed enough is that they aren’t cast in stone; they are basic principles, not rules. I always try to teach about balance in photographs, rather than thirds, about elements and lines in and across pictures leaving an overall harmony to an image. I read an article in the RPS Journal by a much respected photographer a few years ago about reading pictures from left to right. If all pictures are composed this way, when putting a panel of images together you’ll still need pictures that read right to left to led the eye back into the panel. I think lead-in lines can come in from anywhere in an image. I personally ‘read’ landscapes from near to far – whichever side the lead line comes in from – and I’ve had many judges in the past suggest that images should be printed the other way round so the lead line comes in from the left. A few years ago, I had an (elderly) camera club member on one of my workshops, who, after some of the group had been photographing a drystone wall with a small gate in it, went and propped the

WHAT DO YOU THINK? If you have an opinion or something you want to get off your chest, drop us a line at opinion@photographynews.co.uk.

gate open to take his shot. This was because judges had told him that the open gate helps lead the viewer into the picture. On the same workshop a Scandinavian photographer said of the open gate ‘but that looks stupid, it looks like someone has gone through the gate and left it open!’ I must admit, I did find that a refreshing view. The country code says you always shut a gate behind you. Isn’t it about time we applied the same logic to our photography, and our judging? These days, I work a lot with young photographers, and they have a refreshing, different view to photography and composition. It’s so wonderful to see their work; sometimes far from perfect, but with a fresh approach to seeing – creating different yet exciting pictures I’d want to look at again and again. I learn as much from them about seeing in different ways as they do from me. I suppose club competition photographers can tend towards the ‘safe’ image, the one that won’t be controversial. How many times have I heard judges say ‘The photographer’s used the wrong shutter speed on this waterfall’? The simple fact is – no, they haven’t! They’ve used the shutter speed they wanted to portray the water in the way they chose, which may be different from the way a critic might; it’s personal preference, not right or wrong. I sometimes wish camera clubs could do away with annual trophies and simply look and find the positives in people’s pictures – only that way will many photographers be encouraged to experiment with new and different techniques as well as lens choice and perspective and truly push their photography forward and to new levels. I was looking at some Ernst Haas photos on the web the other day, in particular his beach runners – a totally abstract blurred image dating from 1958. Even today, some judges might say ‘it’s a pity there isn’t something sharp in the picture’. How brave was that image when taken 55 years ago! How refreshing and innovative club photography would be if people experimented and innovated. A suggestion to camera clubs: on every competition, count only the highest scoring picture from each photographer towards the trophies – that way members might be encouraged to try that new, different, exciting technique that might only get a 4/10, but equally might get a 10! Finally, a suggestion to judges: I know it’s not easy going out x-nights a week, and finding new things to say about photographs, but try to welcome the innovative, even if it’s not your style, providing it has balance, style and quality. meet john gravett John Gravett ARPS is an experienced photographer and tutor, and together with his wife Gail Gravett LRPS, runs Lakeland Photographic Holidays based in Cumbria. They offer workshops and photo holidays, home and abroad. www.lakelandphotohols.com

Issue 2 | Photography News


Photography News | Issue 2

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Camera review

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on test

Travelling Light: Part 1 You don’t always want the bulk of your DSLR body and bag full of heavy lenses, but what alternative do you have if you want high-quality images? We go hands-on with some of the options to see what they can offer

As long as you have your DSLR with you, you know you’ll get great shots. It offers you complete control at the touch of a few buttons, allowing you to fulfil your creative vision, and with a selection of lenses on your shoulder, the options are endless. This often makes it worthwhile to carry your heavy kit around, but there’s no denying it can be cumbersome. And there are situations when the size of your kit is just plain inconvenient – when you’re a guest at a wedding, on a long day out, or when you’re taking a flight for example. Leaps in camera technology in the last few years mean there are now smaller options that don’t necessarily mean a compromise in performance. Compact system cameras come close

to DSLR performance in many cases – they have large sensors and interchangeable lenses, but more compact bodies because they don’t need a mirror. There are potential pitfalls – focusing is often slower, viewfinders are electronic or absent, and the size can compromise handling. But the variety is huge, and the chances are there’s one out there that would suit you. A recent glut of premium compacts have added another alternative. These knock your average high street compact out of the park, with bigger sensors for surprisingly good image quality and low-light performance, and high-quality zoom lenses with wide maximum apertures. You’ll more than likely have to compromise on handling, and performance is unlikely to match that of your DSLR, but the difference may just be worth it for the added convenience. Over the next two issues, we test a selection of CSCs and compacts to see if they’re genuine options as an alternative to your DSLR, or whether they fall too short to consider seriously.

Canon PowerShot G16

Fujifilm X-M1

Olympus OM-D E-M1

Samsung Galaxy NX

You can’t get much smaller and lighter than a compact, but they have small sensors that mean sacrificing image quality, don’t they? Well, not necessarily. Canon’s premium G series compacts are highly regarded amongst serious photographers, and the G16 is the latest generation. A major improvement in this model is the low-light performance, which is underpinned by the debut of Canon’s newest image processor, the DIGIC 6. This also provides a boost in speed for an impressive 9.3 framesper-second top sustained burst rate. Many of the other features are carried forward from the G15, including an f/1.8-2.8 retractable zoom lens with a 35mm equivalent zoom range of 28-140mm. There’s also a first for the G series though, in the form of Wi-Fi, which allows you to connect the camera to other devices for transferring and sharing images, or backing them up directly onto the Internet via Canon’s Image Gateway. Aside from the fixed lens, much of the specification reads like a DSLR, but as a compact, is it a genuine option for when you want to leave your DSLR behind?

With the rise of compact system cameras, it’s no longer the case that small means less powerful, and with the X-M1, Fujifilm proves the point. The innards of the bigger and more expensive X-Pro1 and X-E1 are wrapped up in a smaller and lighter body that could be mistaken for a compact. This includes Fujifilm’s X-Trans sensor technology, which uses an arrangement of pixels that differs from the traditional – it dramatically reduces the risk of moiré, negating the need for an optical low-pass filter and therefore providing potential for sharper images. The sensor is also APS-C sized, the same as most DSLRs, so promises image quality to match. Despite being the size of a compact, the X-M1 has the advantage of interchangeable lenses, and there is already some serious prime glass designed for the top-end X-Series cameras but compatible with the X-M1. If you don’t have the budget for this, then Fujifilm has also introduced more affordable options – the X-M1’s 16-50mm kit lens is one of them. On the face of it then, the X-M1 combines everything you could want from a DSLR alternative, so let’s see if it lives up to expectations.

It was the Micro Four Thirds system that kicked off the compact system camera craze, and Olympus has enjoyed huge success with it. The major advantage of the Micro Four Thirds system is that the sensor is a lot smaller than full-frame and APS-C chips, meaning the entire setup can be miniaturised – camera, lenses and everything that goes with them. This is a good start if you’re looking for a lightweight DSLR alternative. The OM-D E-M1 is designed for professionals; it’s dust, freeze and splashproof, and its insides include a newly developed 16-megapixel sensor with no anti-aliasing filter and a new TruePic VII image processor. The sensor also includes phase-detection autofocus pixels, which allow efficient focusing when Olympus E-System Four Thirds lenses are attached, so you can revive your existing collection, or it expands your lens options to a total of 63 new optics. There are great creative features too, such as Olympus’s Art Filters and the new Photo Story Mode, as well as Wi-Fi that lets you use your mobile device to control the camera remotely. It’s packed full of features, but when it comes to the crunch, it’s performance that counts.

The Galaxy NX is the first CSC to run on an Android operating system, making it a hybrid of a high-quality camera and a smartphone. In the process of incorporating this technology into a CSC, Samsung could easily have neglected aspects of the camera, but this hasn’t happened, and the whole system works together to appeal to photographers. The operating system powers up in the dedicated camera app, there’s a dedicated DRIMe IV image processor alongside a smartphone chip, and it has a 20-megapixel APS-C sensor for DSLR-like image quality. Nevertheless, the Android operating system opens up all sorts of opportunities – obvious ones, like the ability to share high-resolution photos directly online or the hundreds of photo-editing apps, but also more subtle ones of practical use to any photographer. For example, Autoshare transfer provides an instant backup to your mobile device, and Photo Suggest identifies nearby photo hotspots – useful in an unfamiliar location. To consider this as a portable alternative to your DSLR though, this technology should be an added bonus, so does the core of the camera measure up?

Words by Ian Fyfe

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Issue 2 | Photography News


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Camera review Handling Canon PowerShot G16

Fujifilm X-M1

Olympus OM-D E-M1

Samsung Galaxy NX

The G16 has an excellent grip that makes it comfortable and gives a sturdy grip for onehanded use. A full complement of exposure modes is available via the mode dial, and beside this is an exposure compensation dial; combined with the command dial on the front of the body, this provides quick DSLRlike access to shooting settings. The top dials are easily knocked, especially as you take the camera in and out of a bag, and I often found it to be in the wrong mode or with unwanted compensation added. There are few other direct access buttons – it’s a price you have to pay for a small body, but Canon has made the best of it with an intuitive and responsive quick menu for most settings you’ll want to get to in a hurry. Unusually for compacts, the G16 features an optical viewfinder – this is through the body, and as such is offset from the lens, so careful framing is needed, but it adjusts to match the zoom of the lens and it’s nice to have if you like to shoot with the camera to your eye. The major issue with the handling is the zoom – this is controlled electronically with a lever around the shutter button, which makes precise adjustments difficult.

The X-M1 is incredibly small and light considering the sensor it houses, and it’s actually smaller than some of Fujifilm’s premium compacts. This is brilliant for tucking in a bag, but I found it made it awkward to hold. My thumb often sat higher than the thumb rest and mingled dangerously amongst the dials, which made it easy to accidentally add exposure compensation. Other than the grip difficulties, control of the camera was great. The main command dial is on the back, slotted in behind the thumb rest, and while this looks awkward at first, the same thumb movement as you’d use on a DSLR’s dial is just as effective. The buttons squeezed into the space below the thumb rest provide direct access to several functions, and there’s a customisable Fn button on the top-plate. For anything else, there’s a quick menu, which is a great example of its kind. Just navigate to the setting and turn the dial – no further selections are necessary. One notable absence on the X-M1 is a viewfinder, leaving you reliant on the LCD screen. This is more than up to the job though – it’s bright, very clear and tilts up and down.

You won’t find a CSC that feels much more like a DSLR in your hand than the Olympus OM-D E-M1. The body is essentially a shrunken DSLR shell with Olympus’s now trademark retro styling. The grip lets you wrap your hand around for a firm DSLR-like hold, and command dials on the top-plate make for quick and comfortable adjustment of the shooting settings. With a small body, there’s obviously less room for direct access buttons, but extensive customisation and dual functions for many controls make best use of the space. For example, the command dials can be switched from controlling aperture and shutter speed to ISO and white-balance. It’s not just the controls that are DSLRlike, but also the viewfinder. Of course, it’s electronic because the camera’s mirrorless, but the whole experience is as close to using an optical viewfinder as you’ll get. It’s big and bright, with a magnification akin to some fullframe DSLR viewfinders. You also have the added benefit of an exact image preview, with 100% frame coverage and the effects of white balance or creative effects visible precapture. In low light, it also remains bright and the colours are vivid.

The screen on the back of the Galaxy NX engulfs the space where you’d expect to find buttons, leaving you totally reliant on the touch screen for control, and this is a doubleedged sword. On one hand, it makes things simple – if you want to change a setting, just touch it. But you don’t have buttons within easy reach of your right hand, so you can’t make quick, intuitive changes. That said, there’s one mechanical control: a single dial that can control all the main exposure settings. Push it from the back, and it cycles through controlling aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Once you’ve mastered the touch screen, you might think it’s redundant, but it’s invaluable if you want to change these settings with the viewfinder to your eye. One consequence of the enormous screen is that the camera itself is actually quite big – larger than some low-end DSLRs, and not far off the size of many others. It’s much lighter though, and the big grip makes it extremely comfortable to hold. Another huge advantage of the big screen is that it’s wonderful for composing your shots and viewing them once recorded – you won’t find anything that comes close on other camera.

Images are perfectly clean and there’s a lot of detail

Consistently well exposed, colours bold and rich

Lots of detail, plenty of contrast and natural colours

20.3 megapixels on an APS-C sensor make for crisp detail

Photography News | Issue 2

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Camera review

21

Performance

detail

detail

detail

detail

Canon PowerShot G16

Fujifilm X-M1

Olympus OM-D E-M1

Samsung Galaxy NX

Compacts can be slow to focus, but with the G16, this isn’t the case. In good light, it’s very quick, and only the Olympus beats it from our group. Dim conditions slow this down considerably, but it still locks on reliably even when it’s pretty dark. The AF area is relatively large and can’t be changed, so precision can be tricky when close up, but manual focusing is available. With no lens ring, focus is adjusted with the control wheel on the back, and this is a bit awkward, but on-screen focus peaking helps a lot – edges can be highlighted with a choice of colours for maximum visibility. Evaluative metering gave good exposures in the majority of images, although it resulted in a touch of overexposure on occasion. The dynamic range was relatively limited too, and with consistent exposure to the right, it was necessary to watch for highlight clipping. Centre-weighted average and spot metering modes are also available, and the latter can be linked to either the centre of the frame, or the position of the AF area. When it comes to resolution, you might expect the G16 to lag significantly behind the CSCs – its sensor does, after all, have a surface area eight times smaller than an APS-C sensor. But the difference isn’t as big as you might expect. At the lowest settings, images are perfectly clean and there’s a lot of detail – not quite as much as with the larger sensors, but the difference is minimal and only a problem if you’re looking closely at full-size images or want to make big prints. Raw files are much softer than JPEGs, but there’s plenty of scope for sharpening up in software, and colours in the Raw files are better too – JPEGs straight from the camera tended to have a green tint that wasn’t there in the Raw versions.

Focusing of the X-M1 is reliable, and failure to lock on was a rare occurrence in good light. It’s not the quickest though, and it can take a moment to settle – it’s susceptible to low light, when it takes much longer or fails regularly in situations where the AF assist lamp isn’t any help. You can change the size of the AF area simply by turning the dials while AF area select mode is active, and the smallest is about the size of a DSLR focus point for similar precision. For manual focusing, on-screen focus peaking is helpful to highlight sharp edges, and combining it with on-screen magnification makes the most of it for extra precision. Although there is a continuous AF mode, this seems flawed. Automatic focusing at the centre of the frame is non-stop even without touching the shutter release, but when you do half-press the button, it refocuses, defeating the object of the automatic focusing. It’s the same with tracking AF – it’s impressive at tracking subjects, but half-press the shutter button and it again refocuses, by which time your subject’s moved on. Using multi metering mode, images were consistently well exposed, with excellent dynamic range – highlights and shadows were rarely clipped, even in high-contrast situations. The Shadow and Highlight Tone controls in the quick menu also allow you to rein in the extremes in JPEGs if necessary, with excellent results. The X-Trans technology in the X-M1 means it doesn’t need an anti-aliasing filter, and this helps to record fantastic detail; colours are bold and rich too. This was the case even with the kit lens, a new budget 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 offering, so the high-quality prime X-mount lenses available can only improve this further.

Focusing is another area where the E-M1 comes closer to DSLR standard than most CSCs. All Olympus’s CSCs include Fast AF, which is a contrast detection-based system but just about matches the speed of phasedetection systems in DSLRs. The E-M1 includes the next generation, which steps it up a little when it comes to speed. This is especially the case with the new 12-40mm f/2.8 lens, which locks on almost the instant you touch the shutter button. The speed of the AF system is mirrored in other aspects of the camera – continuous shooting can reach ten frames-per-second without autofocus, and even with autofocus, it tops out at 6.5 frames-per-second. In this situation, it does an impressive job of keeping a moving subject in focus throughout a sequence of shots. The only thing that holds it back is the speed of writing to cards – if you’re shooting Raw files, it takes a few seconds for individual images, and this can lead to a bit of a wait after burst sequences. A highlight of Olympus’s OM-D line is the five-axis sensor-based image stabilisation. You have to set the focal length of the lens in the camera menus to get the best results, but once you do, it works a treat – using a 150mm lens, the 35mm equivalent of 300mm, I got consistently sharp images at 1/20sec. Although the Micro Four Thirds sensor is about 40% smaller than APS-C sensors, it produces image quality that matches most, with lots of detail, plenty of contrast and natural colours. By and large, the dynamic range is excellent too, with few clipped highlights and shadows, although the inherent contrast can sometimes push them over the edge in JPEGs – shoot Raw, and there’s no problem in recovering them though.

Although the pixel count of the sensor is the same as other Samsung CSCs such as the NX20, the Galaxy NX is more advanced, with on-sensor phase-detection autofocus pixels to speed things up. There’s still a moment of hesitation and hunting before the focus locks on, and the time this takes extends as the light levels drop, so the on-sensor AF pixels don’t quite bring autofocus performance up to DSLR standard, but it’s a big improvement on previous Samsung models and adequate unless your subject is moving quickly. The big touch screen also makes it simple to focus accurately – just touch your subject, to lock onto it. Because of the size of the display, it’s easy to be precise with this, and you can also reduce the size of the autofocus area so that it’s smaller than your fingertip. With manual focusing, the screen again comes into its own – the display is crystal clear, making it easier to focus by eyesight alone than with any viewfinder, and onscreen magnification with the option of focus peaking makes it even simpler. Throughout the test, there was a slight tendency towards underexposure in multi metering mode, which preserved the highlights but often came close to clipping shadows and left some scenes looking dark. Nevertheless, the APS-C sensor has 20.3 megapixels, so promises quality to rival some of the highest resolution APS-C DSLRs around, and in practice it stays true to this promise – images are packed with crisp detail and natural-looking colours. Brand new Galaxy NX cameras benefit from updated firmware, but if you bought one soon after launch, make sure you have the latest firmware for optimum performance (of course, this applies to every digital camera).

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Issue 2 | Photography News


Photography News | Issue 2

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Camera review

23

ISO performance and noise reduction Canon PowerShot G16

Fujifilm X-M1

Olympus OM-D E-M1

Samsung Galaxy NX

On paper, the G16 offers low-light options comparable to many DSLRs, with a sensitivity range of 100-12,800. But with a sensor so much smaller, you might expect real-world performance to be behind. To some extent, this is the case, but its performance is still impressive. At the lowest ISO settings of 100 and 200, images are completely noise free. At ISO 400, the first signs of noise appear and there’s a slight reduction in clarity. Noise increases slowly but steadily from here until ISO 3200, and colour saturation is affected slightly from ISO 1600, but ISO 3200 is still perfectly useable. The two top settings of 6400 and 12,800 see more significant degradations in quality, with plenty of noise and loss of detail. Noise reduction is available for JPEGs at three different levels – Low, Standard and High. The benefit is minimal – only the High setting has any notable effect, and even at this level it doesn’t improve things greatly. It’s also worth noting that you can’t apply any noise reduction to JPEGs when shooting them alongside Raw files.

The native ISO sensitivity range of the X-M1 is 200-6400. Extended settings push this down to 100 and up to 25,600, but these are only available with JPEG images. Careful scrutiny shows noise increasing steadily from ISO 800 up to the top native setting, but this has remarkably little impact on detail – I’d certainly feel very little concern even up to ISO 6400. Pushing into the top extended settings impacts image quality more with significant grain, particularly in the shadows, but colours remain accurate. Processing in-camera is very sympathetic so that JPEGs are reasonably clean without being oversmoothed. For JPEGs, noise reduction can be set to five levels between -2 and +2, easily adjusted in the quick menu. Reducing the noise reduction to -2 leaves a lot of grain in the images, but increase it to the maximum, and too much detail is lost through smoothing. At zero, there’s a good balance between grain and detail, and at the highest ISO settings, the benefit is clear – if you need to venture into the extended ISO settings, using noise reduction will help you get useable pictures.

The E-M1’s ISO sensitivity ranges from 100 to 25,600 with expanded settings, and noise was no problem at all up to ISO 800. Even though it becomes more noticeable at ISO 1600, it’s not a real issue at all even up to ISO 3200. Above this, ISO 6400 is the first expanded setting and there is a distinct increase in graininess that gradually worsens up to ISO 25,600. Even at the top levels though, images are still extremely useable. For JPEGs, you can turn high ISO noise reduction on or off, and if it’s on, you have the choice of Low, Standard or High filters. There’s no benefit of using the noise reduction at sensitivities lower than ISO 6400, but at sensitivities above this, the Low filter does a good job of smoothing out the grain. Increase it to the Standard filter, and detail starts to look a little too smoothed; the High noise filter is even more heavy-handed, although it does a good job of evening out areas of plain colour. If you’re forced to use the very top sensitivities, you might think it’s worth switching the noise reduction on, but overall, the advantage is minimal.

The Galaxy NX has an ISO sensitivity range of 100-25,600, an impressive spec on paper for a CSC. In practice, images were clean at sensitivities up to ISO 400, and the first impact on image quality was at ISO 800. This wasn’t so much in the form of noise, but in loss of detail and clarity, and this got gradually more noticeable through to ISO 3200. At ISO 6400, there was a clear drop in image quality, with much more visible grain. The two top sensitivities are best avoided – there’s a lot of noise, as well as blocks of false colours, and there’s an overall impact on exposure too, with images becoming underexposed with a purple cast. Noise reduction is available at Low, Normal and High settings. While Low did almost nothing, Normal and High did salvage a lot of quality in JPEGs at ISO 12,800 and 25,600. The overall colour and exposure were improved, although there remained many patches of false colour. If you’re forced to use the very top ISO settings, then noise reduction does have a benefit, but it’s best to avoid these highest sensitivities altogether.

ISO 200

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ISO 200

ISO 200

ISO 3200

ISO 3200

ISO 3200

ISO 3200

ISO 12,800

ISO 12,800

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ISO 12,800 high noise reduction

ISO 12,800 high noise reduction

ISO 12,800 high noise reduction

ISO 12,800 high noise reduction

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Issue 2 | Photography News


24

Camera review Verdict Canon PowerShot G16

Fujifilm X-M1

Olympus OM-D E-M1

Samsung Galaxy NX

As an alternative to your DSLR, any compact will bring with it compromises, and to some extent, that’s the case with the G16. Handling is more limited simply due to space, you’re limited by a fixed lens, and image quality and ISO performance are bound by the smaller sensor size. That said, the main shooting settings can be controlled just as easily thanks to the dials, and the advantage of having a fixed lens is that it collapses completely so you can slip the camera in your pocket. What’s more, the images and low-light performance aren’t far short of the better-endowed alternatives – if quality is that critical, then the chances are you’d opt to take your DSLR anyway. If small and light are your priorities, then the compromises may well be worth it.

When I first picked up the X-M1, the trouble I had holding it comfortably made a bad first impression. The controls are so close together and easily used without intention that I think the X-M1 would have been a better camera for being just slightly bigger. Nevertheless, the user interface is so simple and effective, it makes the camera a pleasure to use. The autofocus isn’t that quick, but that doesn’t take anything away from the image quality the camera’s capable of – images are excellent, even with the budget kit lens, and there are plenty of top-quality lenses available to squeeze more out of the X-Trans sensor. The best thing is that the X-M1 bundles this quality into an extremely compact, light and portable body that’s ideal if you want the advantages of both size and image quality.

From the grip and direct access controls, through to the focusing speed and final image quality, the E-M1 comes as close to a DSLR as you can get without putting a mirror in it. But the Micro Four Thirds system means it’s much smaller and lighter – an entire setup of camera body and several lenses could well weigh in at less than some DSLR bodies on their own. There’s a snag though – the price is equally as similar to that of a DSLR. In fact, at £1300 for the body alone, it’s more than the majority of APS-C DSLRs. The price with the 12-40mm kit lens takes you perilously close to the £2000 mark, by which point you could have invested in a full-frame DSLR. It has the potential to completely replace your DSLR system, but it’s a big outlay if you simply want to add an alternative to your existing kit.

To say the Galaxy NX offers something different is an understatement. The user interface is unlike that of any camera you’ll have used before, and it takes a lot of learning to adjust your approach accordingly. Underneath all of this though is a CSC that’s capable of producing excellent images. The asking price for the Galaxy NX is high – £1000 for the body is a serious investment by any standards, let alone as an additional portable option. There’s also the fact that the Galaxy NX isn’t much smaller than many DSLRs, and some of the NX lenses are bulky. Of course, there’s an extra element to the portability of the Galaxy NX, in that it lets you carry with you all the connectivity you could ever want – that’s certainly something you can’t get with any other camera.

SPECS

SPECS

SPECS

Price £528

Shutter 250secs-1/4000sec

Price £599 body only

Shutter 30secs-1/4000sec

Price £1299 body only

Contact www.canon.co.uk

Metering patterns Evaluative, centreweighted average, spot

Contact www.fujifilm.co.uk

Metering patterns Multi, spot, average

Contact www.olympus.co.uk

Sensor 1/1.7 type 12.1megapixel CMOS with DIGIC 6 processor Image dimensions 4000x3000 pixels ISO range 80-12,800 Autofocus modes Single, continuous, servo AF/AE, tracking Exposure compensation +/-3EV in 1/3EV steps, AEB 1/3 – 2EV in 1/3EV steps

Shooting speeds Single, auto drive, continuous 9.3fps, continuous with AF 5.7fps, self-timer LCD screen 3in with 922k dots Storage SD, SDHC, SDXC, UHS-I compatible Dimensions 108.8x75.9x40.3mm Weight 356g including battery and memory card

Pros Image quality and low-light performance are excellent for the size of the camera, collapsible lens makes it pocketable, and focusing is fast and reliable. Cons Powered zoom is difficult to adjust precisely

Photography News | Issue 2

Sensor 16-megapixel X-Trans CMOS with EXR Processor II

Shooting speeds Single, H5.6fps, L3fps

Sensor 16.3 megapixels with TruePic VII engine

Image dimensions 4896x3264 pixels

LCD screen 3in with 920k dots

Image dimensions 4608x3456 pixels

ISO range 200-6400 (10025,600 extended)

Storage SD, SDHC, SDXC, UHS-I compatible

ISO range ISO 200-5000 (10025,600 extended)

Autofocus modes Multi, area, continuous, tracking, manual

Dimensions 116.9x66.5x39mm

Autofocus modes Continuous AF, single AF, manual

Exposure compensation +/-2EV in 1/3EV steps, AEB 3 frames in 1/3, 2/3 or 1EV steps

Weight 330g including battery and memory card

Pros It’s compact and light but has an APS-C X-Trans sensor that produces fantastic images, the user interface is simple and effective. Cons The small body means the controls are cramped and easily knocked, the AF is sluggish and continuous AF is flawed.

Exposure compensation +/-5EV in 1/3, 1/2 and 1EV steps Shutter 60secs-1/8000sec

SPECS Metering patterns Digital ESP, centreweighted, average, spot with highlight/ shadow control Shooting speeds Single, continuous 6.5fps with AF, continuous 10fps, self-timer 2-12 secs LCD screen 3in touch panel with 1037k dots Storage SD, SDHC, SDXC (UHS-I compatible)

Price £999 body only

Shutter 30secs-1/6000sec

Contact www.samsung.co.uk

Metering patterns Multi, spot, centreweighted

Sensor 20.3-megapixel APS-C CMOS with DRIMe IV image processor Image dimensions 3648x5472 pixels ISO range 100-12800 (10025600 expanded)

Dimensions 130.4x93.5x63.1mm

Autofocus modes Single AF, Continuous AF, Manual focus

Weight 497g including battery and memory card

Exposure compensation +/-3EV in 1/3 or 1/2EV steps

Pros Handling is delightful and customisation gives flexibility, image quality is as good as an APS-C DSLR, Micro Four Thirds system is the biggest CSC system around. Cons The price makes it a big investment if it’s not your main camera.

Shooting speeds Single, continuous 8.6fps, self-timer 2-30secs LCD screen 4.8in HD touch screen Storage MicroSD up to 64GB, internal memory 16GB Dimensions 136.5x101.4x56mm Weight 495g including battery and memory card

Pros Large LCD screen is excellent for composing and playback, the sensor can produce excellent quality, and there’s all the connectivity you could want. Cons It’s not that much smaller than a DSLR, struggles in AF and ISO performance.

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Technique

25

PHOTO SCHOOL

Camera class

APERTURE SCALE F/ 1.4

Everyone has to start somewhere, even top pros, and in our regular Photo School feature we’ll be taking a close look at core techniques that every beginner needs to know. This month, in Camera Class we look at apertures and f/numbers, while Software skills (below) looks at cataloguing images in Adobe Lightroom

1.6 1.8 2 2.2 2.5 2.8 3.2 4

Words by Ian Fyfe

4.5 5

The aperture is an adjustable ‘hole’ or iris that lets light through the lens to the camera’s sensor and, together with the shutter speed, creates the exposure. The size of the aperture is denoted as an f/number and you see this in most camera viewfinders and on the rear monitor. The f/number is one of the most important settings on your camera and you should keep an eye on which value you are using. n  How does changing the f/number affect the aperture size? One of the most confusing things about the f/number and aperture is that smaller f/numbers indicate larger apertures and vice versa. See the illustrations far right. n  Where do the f/numbers come from? The available f/numbers form a standard scale, with each value referred to as an f/stop. At first, the f/numbers seem like a random sequence of numbers, but the scale has a mathematical basis. Each full f/stop lets in half as much light as the one above, and twice as much as the one below. Thus f/8 lets in twice as much light as f/11 but only half the light of f/5.6 – the bigger the ‘hole’, the greater the amount of light is allowed to pass. n  What does this mean for my exposures? An exposure is basically a balancing act between aperture (the amount of light coming through

adobe Lightroom

Software skills Take control of Adobe Lightroom. Part 2: Cataloguing Words by Will Cheung Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is one of the most widely used cataloguing and editing softwares available. The full version 5 costs around £90, but you can download a 30-day free trial from the Adobe website. Other options include Corel AfterShot Pro and Cyberlink Photo Director 5. In part 1, we looked at importing images to Lightroom 5 and in part 2, this month, it’s onto using the catalogue features. www.photography-news.co.uk

5.6

right When you look through your camera’s viewfinder, this is the kind of thing you’ll see. The selected aperture or f/stop is displayed here in yellow.

6.3 7.1 8 9 10 11

far Right This is a typical aperture scale. The numbers in yellow are the traditional full f/stop values and those in between are 1/3 f/stop increments.

the lens aperture) and shutter speed (the amount of time the sensor is allowed to receive the light coming through the lens aperture). The bigger the iris, the greater the amount of light coming through the lens, and that allows a shorter or faster shutter speed. If the iris is set to a higher value, thus giving a smaller ‘hole’, a longer shutter speed is needed to compensate for the lower level of light coming through the lens. n  What about the f/numbers in between? On lenses for old cameras, the aperture control was less advanced and only full f/stop values were possible, ie. f/4, f/5.6, f/8 etc. On your modern camera, you

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can set the f/number to values in between these full f/stops, for example f/6.3. These are partial f/stops that divide each full stop into thirds, and they simply have one third of the effect. Some cameras also allow half f/stop settings. n  What other effects does changing the f/number have? Opening and closing the aperture not only changes the amount of light that passes through, but it affects something called depth-offield – the amount of back-to-front sharpness in a scene. Controlling the f/number can therefore be used for creative effects, and we’ll look at depth-offield in more detail next issue.

NEXT MONTH: DEPTH-OFFIELD & COLLECTIONS Get to grips with depthof-field for creative effects and start building Lightroom collections.

Rate them Click on Photo in the menu tool bar and you will find options of Set Flag, Set Color Label or Set Rating. Quick keys speed up the process, ie. hit 5 to give an image five stars or 6 to label it red. How you use these labels is up to you but five stars for definite keepers and three for a maybe is a good start. Later you can turn on filters and view all your five star pictures or all those labelled red, for example.

Looking at your shots Turn the filters on (Ctrl+L or Cmd+L) by clicking on the words: Filters Off, either top right of the Library module or in the bottom right corner, choosing the filtering method you want, say Rated. You can then refine this further by clicking on the flag, colour patch or stars in the bar that appears.

Reject the rubbish Now’s also the time to delete the rejects (don’t delete in camera). Do that by hitting X and then later go to Photo>Delete Rejected Photos if you want the software to bin the images completely. You can also just delete the image from the catalogue but retain it on your drive. Issue 2 | Photography News


26

Profile Interview

Mark Thackara

BIOGRAPHY Age: 53 Years in the photo industry: 30 Current location: Bath Last picture taken: A poor attempt at Georgian buildings against a rare blue November sky – I should have stuck to Dramatic Tone. Hobbies? Rehearsing for soon to be regular appearances on Grumpy Old Men, pretending I am still 21, over-promising. When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up? Someone who knew what they wanted to be, and less of a cynic.

The compact system camera market is growing apace and one of the leaders in this move towards smaller, mirrorless cameras is Olympus Interview by Charlotte Griffiths

Photography News (PN): Hello! Please introduce yourself to our readers. Mark Thackara (MT): My name is Mark Thackara, national marketing manager for Olympus UK consumer products. PN: What’s the primary focus of your role? MT: To promote Olympus to dealers and consumers. PN: Describe an average day in your job. MT: A delightful mix of paperwork, meetings, trying to make sure that current activity and ideas actually happen while also thinking ahead. Nothing has fundamentally changed with technology: it is all about relationship building and delivering results. PN: What do you enjoy most about working with Olympus? MT: We are a close team that works well and has fun together. It’s a pleasure to work with inspirational photographers to promote the potential of working with our products. That, and being involved in an industry that can create such emotive reactions: you know what they say about pictures.

PN: You’ve worked with Olympus for quite some time – what first attracted you to the brand, and what is it that’s kept you there over the years? MT: Rather predictably, my father had an OM-1, while I liked photography but was rather bad at it. I saw an ad in the paper for people to work in customer service and one of the tests was to identify what had gone wrong in a number of prints – I had committed most of the errors, so I got the job. The people who work here have a passion for everything, and it is infectious. I have also had the chance to work in a lot of the other areas in the company: everything from microscopes and blood analysers in health care through to audio, all of which grew from small beginnings to bigger operations. Then along came digital, and the roller coaster got bigger and even more exciting. PN: What’s your proudest career achievement to date? MT: I have been involved in so many things and so few have been particularly worthy! I could talk about supporting photographers with projects and exhibitions for subjects like Darfur, or making some entertaining and effective ad campaigns but thinking back, it’s probably on the audio side of the business. We were brave – or mad – enough to venture into innovative fixed-line telephones when the market

Get the Olympus experience Olympus Image Space is the online booking hub for Olympus events in the UK, including the Experience Days, like the recent event at Stratford Butterfly Farm (pictured right). The website has full details of what’s coming up over the next few months but to whet your appetite here’s what’s happening soon… 29 November: Golden eagle experience with expert photographer John Wright from Photographers on Safari. It’s at the Rutland Falconry and Owl Centre in Rutland and price per person is £50. 17 December: Get creative at night. Light trails, light painting and wire wool spinning are some of the techniques featured, led by Ade McFade. This takes place at Kirkstall Abbey in Leeds. Cost £40 per person. π To find out more and to book your place, go to www.olympus-imagespace.co.uk.

Photography News | Issue 2

Dogs or cats? Cats Toast or cereal? Both, regularly for any meal Email or phone call? Neither, face to face Grainy Film or Dramatic Tone? Dramatic Tone

We feel that we offer an overall package that delivers for many people and will not necessitate regular visits to the chiropractor

was deregulated and we developed and launched some great products. When digital cameras and recorders came along we dropped it all, but drawing a product on a scrap of paper and then seeing it in the shops was exciting. PN: Olympus is very much a global company: what do you think are the unique needs of the British photographic market? How do Olympus’s products meet those needs? MT: There have always been regional variations in customer needs and expectations, and this has probably been exaggerated since digital came along. Whilst we all merrily seem to buy into the latest phones, games and tablets, the core photographic market seems remarkably conservative in the West and UK. Japan and the Far East adopt new formats a lot quicker, but we have recognised this and developed complementary ranges that use the same core technology but in different designs. PN: What do you feel is the biggest source of frustration for modern photographers? How is Olympus helping to overcome that? MT: Trying to avoid any obvious product plugs, it’s fair to say that high performance equipment has become bigger and heavier. We feel that we offer an overall package that delivers for many people and will not necessitate regular visits to the chiropractor. Hopefully it is about offering choice and bringing a little joy back into photography at the same time. PN: Which Olympus camera do you use the most? Why? MT: Hmmm. It is rather incumbent on me to use the latest thing but right now, it is an E-P5. The combination of performance and convenience is compelling. You can get a far superior shot than your phone could ever deliver (of course) but can very quickly transfer an image for upload which is all part of life now. And it looks lovely. PN: Are there any features of the OM-D series that might have escaped notice but that you think deserve more recognition? What’s your favourite feature? MT: Funny you should ask that. We’ve spent a lot of time and effort convincing people about performance. No one is pretending that the OMDs will replace a larger format camera for absolute output, but they tick an awful lot of boxes if you give them a go and, of course, they are easy to take with you. What sometimes gets overlooked is how quiet www.photography-news.co.uk


Profile

27 technology [of the OM-D series] is that you can use both sets of lenses and many others besides. There is a lot of choice and the lens ranges are complementary. After that, it is down to individual choice on ergonomics and other performance characteristics. We might say that we have strength in the more conventional look and feel of the body for still images, while Panasonic may argue they have more strengths in video.

the OM-Ds are. A woman who works in opera and a press photographer who does film set work both reminded me of this recently. A quiet revolution. PN: Is there a specific age group or type of photographer that’s responded best to the OM-D series? Why do you think this is? MT: It has been evenly spread across gender and age, and I think that is why it is proving so compelling. Older traditional users like them, but so do younger newbies. They are well designed, work very well and are lovely to hold and use. PN: What’s the best piece of photography advice you’ve ever heard, and who gave it to you? MT: Don’t give up the day job. No names. PN: Olympus has always had a relationship with ‘well-known’ photographers – why has this approach been important for the brand? MT: They do not have to be well known, but they do have to be good and potentially influential. I think it is fair to say that digital veered the whole industry towards an obsession with technology. It sounds corny, but it should be about the image. The end result is why most people take pictures and it offers the strongest emotional impact, whether it is a picture of a war zone or your new baby. Good photographers remind us of this.

Free digital mag for Olympus users Olympus Magazine is an essential online resource for Olympus camera users. Each month it’s packed full of photo ideas, technique and interviews with leading Olympus users. Sign up for free by going to www. olympusmag.co.uk.

PN: What’s your take on the state of the current imaging market? MT: It’s no secret that basic compacts are declining but system cameras and high-end compacts are growing. This is a natural effect of saturation of compacts and of other image capture options. Photography as a whole remains buoyant. We see plenty of younger people getting excited about photography through non-conventional image capture who then move on to cameras. PN: What’s the biggest challenge faced by Olympus at the moment? MT: It is a nice position to be in that the products are well accepted – that has not always been the case. The challenge is to ensure that message gets to the widest possible audience.

PN: Some might say that convergence between smartphones and cameras (certainly compacts) is inevitable – do you feel there’s still demand for a traditional ‘camera’ without connectivity? MT: I wouldn’t worry about connectivity too much. Like many things, it will simply become embedded in everything and we can choose to use it or not. Try not to see cameras in isolation, but consider what happens in other categories from cars to TVs – there are many solutions and we often opt for more than one to suit various needs. I take photos on my phone and my PEN – there, I said it. PN: The OM-D series has seen many professional photographers swap their DSLR kits for Olympus outfits – what’s your reaction to this? Why do you think this has worked/been so high profile? MT: One of the great things about the core

PN: Are there likely to be any products for the old Four Thirds system? MT: The official response is still ‘never say never’. I would, however, ask all users to try the OM-D series as it offers many advantages over mirror-based products from whomever.

BELOW The E-M1 is the latest in the OM-D series. See Issue 38 of Advanced Photographer magazine for a full review.

PN: You once mentioned that the Micro Four Thirds manufacturers work together to offer a complete set of lens lengths – so rather than Olympus and Panasonic both making the same length lens, each company would fill in the gaps – is this actually a formalised approach? MT: I mentioned the complementary ranges before. That is no accident and it makes sense. It is a classic Japanese approach to work together but also be in competition. PN: Why are Olympus lenses sold without hoods? MT: Simply – not everyone wants a hood. PN: What piece of marketing has been most successful for Olympus in the past few years? Why do you think it worked? MT: There is impact, and then there is longer term [success]. In a world of multiple messaging there is no doubt that the bold creative of the Kevin Spacey ads that launched the PEN were effective and ‘on brand’ as they say – whether you liked them or hated them – they stood out and were noticed. It is rare for companies to let agencies really go for something stand out today and whatever people say, it can still work. After that, it is doing the hard work of running events, seminars and workshops to show people what the cameras can do and let them try for themselves. There are a lot of people involved in making this happen. There is no substitute for direct experience and if you get it right, people will share information with their peers which is easier than ever now and potentially more potent. PN: Is social media important to Olympus’s marketing? How is Olympus using social media

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There is no substitute for direct experience and if you get it right, people will share information with their peers which is easier than ever now to connect with photographers? MT: I love and hate it. Speaking as someone who started work before the fax machine and saw it come and go – I loved and hated that too. If we all expect immediate responses, it makes resourcing tricky for companies, but I have seen the positive effect social media has on photographers’ abilities to showcase their work and inspire others. If you can cut through the noise, Twitter lets you inform and entertain people – but we are all finding our feet in terms of how it is used. PN: The camera market famously has a rapid turnover of products: do you think the pace will slow at all? Can you tell us anything about what’s coming next or which area is being focused on by Olympus’s imaging department? MT: It is already slowing due to both a performance level being reached that ticks most boxes and common sense. Products coming out faster than shops can swap them over was madness. We are now focusing on enhancing the overall experience, as performance is there for 95% of users. PN: What would be your dream camera feature? What’s the most requested feature that’s yet to appear on an OM-D? MT: Requests are largely nuances nowadays: small firmware tweaks or design issues. Telepathy with the user – that is the future – a camera that can interpret what I am trying to achieve but then, where would the fun be without repeated failure followed by the odd gem? For the amateur user, that’s part of the challenge and the thrill. How boring it would be if we could get the perfect shot all the time. PN: Do the other sectors of Olympus ever provide technology for the imaging division (and vice versa)? Is there one factor or characteristic that would identify an Olympus product, whether a camera, microscope or voice recorder etc? MT: All areas of the company share by pushing the boundaries in design and optics. As far as shared characteristics: quality. Simple as that. PN: Are there any other camera or technology manufacturers whose approach (both to marketing and product design) you admire? MT: That is a fascinating area. I bore people to death with the growth and death of empires and disruptive technology’s effect on the status quo. I am also fickle and cynical, so could answer this differently in five minutes’ time. Outside what we are doing for technology, look at SpaceX as an approach and Elon Musk’s other enterprise, Tesla, for marketing and sales. It is brave, but he also has no vested interests to protect. We do not, repeat not, see that as a way forwards for us – we want a healthy dealer network! π To find out more about Olympus, go to www.olympus.co.uk. Issue 2 | Photography News


28

Camera review on test

Nikon D610

Nikon’s digital SLR designers have been busy bunnies lately. This month saw the retro-styled DF arrive, last month heralded the launch of the D5300 and this, the full-frame D610. We test it

SPECS price £1599 body only Contact www.nikon.co.uk Sensor 24.3-megapixel CMOS with EXPEED 3 processor Image dimensions 6016x4016 pixels ISO range 100-6400 (50-25,600 extended) Autofocus modes Single-servo (AF-S), continuous-servo (AF-C), auto AF-S/AF-C selection, manual Exposure compensation +/-5EV in 1/3 or 1/2EV steps, autoexposure bracketing 2 or 3 frames at +/-3EV in 1/3 or 1/2EV steps Shutter 30secs-1/4000sec Metering patterns Matrix, center-weighted spot Shooting speeds Single, continuous L 3fps, continuous H 6fps, self-timer 2-20secs, silent single shooting, silent continuous shooting LCD screen 3.2in fixed LCD with 921k dots Storage media SD, SDHC, SDXC, UHS-I compatible Dimensions (WXHxD) 141x113x82mm Weight 850g (including battery and memory card)

Photography News | Issue 2

Words by Roger Payne While I’d fall short of suggesting that full-frame digital SLRs are cheap, one thing is certain: the cost of entry into the full-frame digital SLR party is certainly dropping. Just a few years ago, when I bought a full-frame digital SLR, lengthy negotiations were required with both bank manager and wife. I’m still on washing-up duty now as my penance for making a £3000 size hole in the bank balance. And that’s just for the bank manager. Against that backdrop, the £1599 D610 seems to be something of a bargain, although still may result in substantial domestic favours being necessary to secure one in your gadget bag. But once a full-frame model is there, it’s unlikely that you’ll make the move back to APS-C sized sensors. The bigger sensor features larger pixels for better light gathering and improved low-light performance, means you don’t have to faff about wondering what the actual focal length of the lens in use is, and gives you the tightest control over depth-of-field. Videographers in particular swarm to full-frame models for the wonderful bokeh effects on offer from a large-sensored camera being used in conjunction with a wide-aperture lens. But the full-frame garden isn’t full of roses, and there are a few brambles to consider as well. First off, lenses. If you’re moving from an APS-C model to full-frame, you’ll need to check compatibility. Lenses designed specifically for the smaller sensor won’t work effectively on a full-frame model. Similarly, if they do fit and work, the larger sensor tends to be somewhat unforgiving when it comes to picture quality. You may need to buy superior quality glass to go in front of your superior sensor. Which means more washing up. File sizes also tend to be on the large side. A Raw file from the D610 we have here is a hefty 31MB – shoot a reasonably average 100 frames a week and that equates to over 160GB of disk space in a year. You’re gonna need some bigger cards. And, possibly, a hard drive.

Dusting off the D610 While a new digital SLR is typically ushered in on a velvet cushion and accompanied by a press release explaining its multitude of technological breakthroughs, the D610 has had a slightly less vaunted arrival. No velvet cushions, just a press release. That’s because its predecessor – the D600 – had been something of a problem. Within a few weeks of the D600’s arrival last September, rumours started to circulate on the Internet that there were issues with the sensor. This wasn’t due to the picture quality, which was excellent, but instead pointed to the fact that sensor dust was a major problem. Naturally, we all know that sensors get dusty, but the D600 seemed to attract more than its fair share, resulting in spotty shots and disgruntled users. While Nikon never directly admitted that the D600 had sensor issues, the company did release an advisory notice in February this year on its website. It acknowledged that some users had reported a prevalence of internal dust that was ‘generated with camera operation’ and that, in some rare cases, these particles ‘may be reflected noticeably in images’. The company’s solution at the time referred owners to the sensor cleaning section of the instruction manual, or to visit a Nikon service centre. The D610 represents another way of solving the issue; change the way the camera is designed. Getting to grips So is the D610 a dust devil? Simple answer: no. Throughout the period of this test during which I’ve used the camera for a wide range of shots there hasn’t been so much as a single dust speck appear on the sensor. Admittedly, I haven’t been cavalier with my lens changing, or left the camera switched on with the mirror box exposed near a dangerously full vacuum dust bag, but I haven’t exactly been careful either. I’ve just used it in the same way as I would have with any other DSLR. So the good news is the D610 doesn’t suffer from any dust-related issues as far as I can see.

ABOVE Cosmetically, there’s little difference between the D610 and the D600 it supersedes, the major changes have been made internally with the introduction of a new shutter unit. below Like all digital SLRs, the D610 offers a selection of image styles that can be applied incamera. Shoot in Raw and styles can be changed during processing with the bundled software. This was taken with the Monochrome style.

The good news is the D610 doesn’t suffer from any dustrelated issues as far as I can see www.photography-news.co.uk


Camera review

29

NIKON D610

ISO 100

ISO 200

ISO 400

ISO performance

ISO 800

ISO 1600

ISO 3200

ISO 6400

ISO 12,800

ISO 25,600

There’s further good news when you glance at the spec of the D610, which confirms this is a camera with some serious picture-taking potential. Take a look at the specs panel on the far left and you’ll see its credentials, although some will baulk at the fact that the top shutter speed is ‘just’ 1/4000sec. This has never been a problem for my picture taking, which tends to be about as sedentary as my lifestyle. Sports and action photographers may have a different opinion, though. Rather than dwell on shutter speed provision, I preferred instead to concentrate on making the most of the D610’s improved all-weather construction which, somewhat surprisingly, was called into service in the UK in November. Who would have thought? On two occasions, the D610 and I were caught in weather that ducks enjoy but it shook off the elements with aplomb, enabling both of us to keep shooting. There was no need for silica gel when we got back in the car, either. The only other significant spec change compared to the D600 is the frame rate, which has had a modest increase to six frames-per-second for continuous shooting. This is joined by a new Quiet Release burst mode that enables you to capture shots at three frames-per-second. Oddly, however, this quiet option doesn’t seem to offer a significantly quieter shutter release. Our tests using a decibel meter recorded 65 decibels using the Quiet Continuous (QC) mode, whereas the standard Continuous Low (CL) mode recorded a hardly rowdy 67 decibels. To my distinctly average hearing, the difference between the two is barely evident; a timid deer may beg to differ, of course. In use, the D610 is a thoroughly pleasant experience. Granted it isn’t without its shortfalls (see the verdict over the page for more), but it’s a beautifully put together piece of kit that exudes both quality and longevity. Once you’ve familiarised yourself with the layout and menu structure, you’ll appreciate that most features are just a few button presses or the twist of a dial away so it’s unlikely that you’ll ever miss a shot due to an equipment fail. www.photography-news.co.uk

As we’ve come to expect from a Nikon, the D610 delivers an impressive set of ISO results. The standard range runs from ISO 100 to 6400 but can be expanded down to 50 and up to 25,600 – all but the bottom extended option are presented here. What’s immediately evident is that you can confidently shoot at up to ISO 1600 without any worry about digital noise. Beyond this envelope, noise does start to increase, but it never becomes blotchy or detrimental to the overall image – even at the fully expanded 25,600 setting. Equally impressive is the colour accuracy throughout the ISO range. Naturally, colours are muted at the higher ISOs compared to lower sensitivities, but not that noticeably.

right King’s Cross station in London when I was en route to the Nikon DF launch event. The D610 has handled a tricky exposure situation very well here. below right Plenty of punch in the colours from the D610, but this shot shows the very inky shadow areas I experienced. There’s a tad too much contrast here for my liking.

Issue 2 | Photography News


30

Camera review In-camera HDR with the D610

ABOVE The 24-85mm lens that’s bundled with the camera is a great allrounder. Picture quality is impressive and the focal range very useful. LEFt The D610 excels in low light. This image was taken handheld at ISO 3200 and the digital noise is barely noticeable.

The verdict I’ve been using the D610 for the thick end of a month and we’ve been through a lot together. Firework displays, trips to the seaside and the Emerald Isle, plus lots of other general snaps in between mean that I’ve amassed well over 20GB of images. Plenty of time to assess the camera’s capabilities. In reality, if the dust issues are to be believed on the D600, this is probably a camera that Nikon never had any intention of building. Despite this, they’ve made a very good job of it and any furry issues that may have existed on the previous model certainly don’t exist here. Pick the camera up and you’ll know that your £1600 has been invested in a very solid piece of kit that will last for ages. Every aspect of the body is nicely designed. Well, except maybe one. Personally, I found the depth of the handgrip to be a little on the small side. Now, I don’t have the biggest hands. but even so I found I was nipping the handgrip, rather than cupping it. It never translated into a dropped camera or a missed shot, but I just would have preferred a few more millimetres of grip so it nestled in my hand comfortably.

Photography News | Issue 2

Among its many features, the D610 offers a useful in-camera HDR (High Dynamic Range) function that’s designed to help you capture images with a wider range of tones in highlight and shadow areas. Available in the Shooting menu, the function can only be used when shooting JPEG files, and allows you to either take a one-off HDR shot, or as many as you like. Handily, only one press of the shutter release is needed, with the D610 doing the rest of the work through in-camera processing. The difference between each exposure can either be left to the camera or altered in single EV steps up to 3EV. Various levels of Smoothing can also be selected, which dictate how much is applied at the boundaries of the images. If you’re a fan of the cartoon-like HDR results this feature won’t be of much interest and you’re best sticking to your conventional method of HDR creation. But if you like your HDR images to look subtly improved, it could well be for you. The before and after images here show you what’s achievable – these have been done with 3EV exposure differential and Smoothing on Normal. The HDR image doesn’t show as much punch as the original, but it certainly has a greater tonal range. NO HDR

nikon d610

I have no grumbles about the D610’s autofocusing system, though. The 39-point focusing system is accurate and has the uncanny knack of being able to pick exactly the right point of focus. On the odd occasions that it didn’t, I was able to flick either to the 11point system or a single-point option. I prefer the latter, but then I like aperture-priority as well. How weird is that? Sharpness and colour accuracy in the images are good as well and the impressive results across the ISO range mean that the D610 really is a camera for all seasons and light levels. It’s a camera for all weathers as well thanks to the excellent weatherproofing, which is both reassuring as well as effective. There is, however, a bit of a black mark against some of the results I got, with black being the operative word. During my tests, some shots displayed a hefty amount of contrast that caused some shadow areas to block up almost as though the camera is trying too hard to render colours as bright and punchy. The problem is easily remedied in Photoshop, but I’d rather it hadn’t existed in the first place.

Features

24/25

Handling

22/25

Performance

22/25

Value for money

22/25

More than enough for most Handgrip depth disappointing

Focusing excellent, but results do display strong contrast Costly, but well priced

OVERALL

90/100

No dust problems, but it’s up against some tough opposition Pros Features, autofocusing, weatherproofing, price Cons Handgrip not large enough, some results too contrasty

HDR ON

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Prize wordsearch

Win Samsung memory cards Of the 20 words below, only 19 appear in the wordsearch. To be in with a chance of bagging yourself a prize, complete the puzzle, identify the missing word and email us with that word in the subject line. Send your entries to: puzzle@ photography-news.co.uk. The winner will be picked at random from all correct entries received before the closing date of 8 December 2013. Win Samsung 32GB SDHC memory cards! The top prize is a Samsung 32GB Pro SDHC UHS-I card, and one runner-up will receive a Samsung 32GB Plus SDHC card. Samsung’s SDHC cards provide ultimate levels of durability and are waterproof, shockproof, resistant to magnetic fields, X-rays and extreme temperatures. All Samsung Plus and Pro range SD cards come with a ten-year warranty. To find out more, go to www.samsung.com.   D

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