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Issue 8

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20 May – 16 June 2014

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

Pentax debuts 50 megapixel DSLR

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Details of our epic midsummer photo shoot, plus all the latest gear news Keeping you up to date with the top photo stories

Medium-format model delivers 51.4-megapixel resolution Super-high resolution images are what you get with the new Pentax 645 Z medium-format DSLR. It features a brand new 43.8x32.8mm medium-format CMOS sensor with 51.4 megapixels, no anti-aliasing filter and PRIME III imaging engine for advanced image processing and noise reduction. The Real-Time Scene Analysis not only uses the 86,000-pixel RGB sensor to improve exposure control accuracy, but also uses the information to enhance autofocusing and white-balance. A newly designed SAFOX XI phase-matching AF module has 27 AF points, 25 of which are cross-type sensors, and it has a working range of -3EV to +18EV. The CMOS image sensor also provides a live view function, which can help with minute focus adjustments. The housing is made of lightweight magnesium alloy, while the chassis is die-cast aluminium. It’s weather-resistant, dust proof and will keep working in temperatures as low as -10˚C, plus its shutter has been tested to over 100,000 releases. The 645 Z will be available at the end of May, for a price of £6800 for the body only, or £7700 with a standard 55mm lens. • Turn over to read Ricoh’s take on the new camera. π To find out more, go to www.ricoh-imaging.co.uk.

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How an international salon selects your images for display Go behind the scenes at Edinburgh International

Six APS-C DSLRs on test: which should be in your kitbag? Canon, Nikon & Sony models rated, page 24

Issue 8 | Photography News


Photography News | Issue 8

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Latest photography news

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The medium-format effect Wondering where the Pentax 645 Z fits into the camera landscape, PN asks Ricoh’s Mark Cheetham to fill us in Words by Megan Croft

The launch of the medium-format Pentax 645 Z comes four years after its predecessor, the 645D, which remains on sale at £4250. In that time, the camera landscape has changed significantly, so is there still a place for medium-format? Mark Cheetham, national account manager at Ricoh Imaging UK, certainly thinks so: “The sensor technology used in mediumformat cameras is in a different league. The advantages are a higher resolution due to the difference in the number of pixels, more realistic description of depth due to the difference in sensor size, and less noise due to larger pixels. “Important changes in the Pentax 645 Z from the 645D are higher image quality, thanks to a new image sensor, and the addition of more functional features in live view shooting, higher maximum ISO and movie recording. The 645 Z has been improved in every way possible, utilising our portfolio of technologies and feedback from 645D users.” Nevertheless, at £7700 with a 55mm lens, the 645 Z doesn’t come cheap, so who is it aimed at? “A wide spectrum of users,” says Mark. “It is designed for both studio and location use – fully dust and moisture sealed, it can be used in all conditions. The super high resolution makes the Z an excellent camera for landscape and product photography, as well as high-end studio capture. As a package, the Z is the most advanced medium-format product available.”

NEWS IN BRIEF GET YOUR COLOURS RIGHT If you are struggling to get colour management right perhaps you should consider the Datacolor SpyderHD kit, which costs £290 and contains all you need to get perfect colours. www.datacolor.com/uk/ spyder-hd-pr WATER WORKSHOP The Make and Create Water Workshop is being held by Welshot Photographic Academy at the Chester Crowne Plaza Hotel on 28 June, hosted by expert photographer Gavin Hoey. It costs £150 for the day for non-Welshot members. welshotimaging.co.uk

INSET Ricoh’s Mark Cheetham describes the 645 Z as “the most advanced mediumformat product available”.

SOFTEN THE LIGHT Flash modifier expert LumiQuest has a starter kit available, the LQ-140. Selling for £78, it includes a Pocket Bouncer, an Fxtra, a compact gel filter holder and an UltraStrap securing strap. www.snapperstuff.com

Sony focuses with A77 II New APS-C flagship makes the most of translucent mirror technology Sony has announced its latest DSLT, the A77 II, coming almost three years after the launch of its predecessor and over a year after the last new Alpha model. Sitting at the top of Sony’s APS-C DSLT line-up, it has the same pixel count as the original A77 at 24.3 million, but the new sensor incorporates a gapless on-chip lens structure to maximise light collection. This, along with the new BIONZ X processor, increases the top ISO sensitivity to 25,600, and maintains the top shooting speed at an impressive 12 frames-per-second. But according to Norihiko Sakura, product manager for Sony Alpha Europe, the most important feature of the A77 II is its improved AF system: “The AF unit is much bigger than the one found on the A77, and it features 79 auto-detection points, including 15 cross points within the most frequently used central area of the sensor,” he said. Speaking to Photography News at the launch of the A77 II, US-based commercial photographer Eric Levin endorsed the autofocus for real-world use. “The speed and accuracy of the AF, even when I was shooting with my 70-200mm wide open at f/2.8 with a narrow depth-of-field, was impressive,” he said. “Another feature I liked was the in-camera image stabilisation, which I think is much better than the in-lens www.photography-news.co.uk

versions that other manufacturers offer.” Other standout features of the A77 II include a tough magnesium body sealed against dust and moisture, and XGA OLED Tru-Finder and three-way tiltable LCD, and Wi-Fi with Near Field Communication for one-touch sharing and remote control. . π To find out more about the A77 II, go to www.sony.co.uk. Issue 8 | Photography News


Latest photography news PERFECT UPDATE OnOne has updated its latest Perfect Photo Suite to version 8.5. The update makes photo browsing faster and provides more file-management options, among other improvements. The update is available free to all owners of Perfect Photo Suite 8 for Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, Apple Aperture or standalone use. ononesoftware.com PROFESSIONAL RETOUCHING The latest version of retouching software Portrait Professional 12 is now out, with a host of new features including an innovative ‘relighting’ mode. The face and feature finder is said to be the world’s best. www.portrait professional.com PROFOTO B1 The Profoto B1 is now available in a kit. The B1 Location Kit costs £3060, which represents a saving of £280 over buying the included items separately. For the money you get two B1 heads, two batteries and a Fast Charger all packed into a comfortable rucksack. www.profoto.com CHEAPER NIKONS Buy a Nikon D3200, D3300 or D5200 DSLR between now and 30 July and you will get £30, £40 or £50 cashback respectively. Cashback offers are also available on a selection of Nikon lenses and the SB-300 flashgun. www.nikon.co.uk/ cashback

Photography News | Issue 8

Manfrotto takes a stand Manfrotto has launched two innovative lighting accessories, providing an ideal solution for strobist photographers. The first is the Nanopole Stand, a two-in-one lightweight stand that can support up to 1.5kg, and can be converted to a handheld boom by removing the central column. The 100cm footprint of the Nanopole stand gives it maximum stability, but it also has an extendable levelling leg and hook for a sandbag. Second up is the Snap Tilthead, designed to make using off-camera flashguns quick and simple. The hotshoe attachment is compatible with all branded flashguns, and it has a smart counterbalance mechanism to prevent the flashgun from dropping, plus an innovative locking system for fast set-up. The two accessories are available individually, or as a kit with a carry bag. Prices are to be confirmed.

BOTTOM © Mary Ellen Mark TOP © Sara Lewkowicz, USA, Winner L’Iris D’Or, 2014 Sony World Photography Awards

NEWS IN BRIEF

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

Samsung’s next NX

Smart technology takes centre stage at entry-level Samsung has unveiled the NX3000, its latest CSC with a 20.3-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, a minimum shutter speed of 1/4000sec and five frames-per-second shooting. As you’d expect, it also features all Samsung’s Smart connectivity, with Wi-Fi and Near Field Communication allowing image sharing and control of the camera with a smartphone. The three-inch flip-up display features Wink Shot so you can capture self-portraits just by winking. The NX3000 will be available in white, black or brown, bundled with the new compact 1650mm f/3.5-5.6 Power Zoom ED OIS lens. Price is yet to be confirmed, but availability is expected from mid-June. π To find out more, go to www.samsung.com/uk.

WORLD PHOTOGRAPHY

WINNERS The winner of the 2014 L’Iris d’Or, Sony World Photographer of the Year is Sara Naomi Lewkowicz with her hard-hitting series Shane and Maggie, which examines domestic violence as a process. The other winners have also been announced, with Open Photographer of the Year awarded to Chen Li from China, Student Focus Photographer of the Year going to Scarlet Evans from the UK and Youth Photographer of the Year to Paulian Metzscher from Germany. Winners of professional categories included three UK photographers, Spencer Murphy, Guy Martin and Amanda Harman. Iconic American photographer Mary Ellen Mark was also awarded the Outstanding Contribution to Photography Award. π To find out more, go to www.worldphoto.org.

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Latest photography news

LENSES AND CASH FROM CANON Two new lenses give Canon users more wide-angle options, and there’s a chance to save money as the company reveals its summer cashback offers. The EF 16-35mm f/4 lens is the first ultra-wide lens in the professional quality L-series to feature Image Stabilizer technology. The lens construction includes two Ultra-low Dispersion (UD) elements and fluorine coatings on the front and rear to prevent dust and water sticking. The EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 is for APS-C format sensors, and includes Canon’s STM technology for high-performance, near-silent AF. This lens also includes one UD element and optimised coatings. Canon’s summer cashback offers mean you can get up to £150 off a range of kit. Included DSLRs are the EOS 6D and EOS 70D, and a number of EF and EF-S lenses, Speedlites, printers and more also have money off. π To find out more about the new lenses and cashback offers, go to www. canon.co.uk.

Summer in the Lakes Enjoy a summer break in the Lakes with Lakeland Photographic Holidays this August. With workshops led by expert landscaper John Gravett, you can make the most of the area’s

stunning scenery. Prices are £525 per person for four nights or £750 per person for six nights, includes accommodation, tuition, food, soft drinks and excursions.

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

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TIPA Awards

NEWS IN BRIEF

The Technical Image Press Association (TIPA) awards for the best photo and imaging products launched in the last 12 months have been announced. Here’s a round-up of the biggest awards:

GREAT VALUE The Flash Centre is offering great value Quadra Hybrid RX kits starting from £900, offering savings up to £200 and free accessories up to £236 depending on what you buy. theflashcentre.com

• Best CSC Professional – Sony Alpha 7R • Best CSC Expert – Fujifilm X-T1 • Best CSC Advanced – Samsung NX30 • Best CSC Entry Level – Olympus OM-D E-M10 • Best CSC Expert Lens – Fujinon XF10-24mm f/4 R OIS • Best CSC Prime Lens – Zeiss Touit series • Best CSC Entry Level Lens – Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ • Best Digital SLR Professional – Nikon D4s • Best Digital SLR Expert – Pentax K-3 • Best Digital SLR Advanced – Canon EOS 70D • Best Digital SLR Entry Level – Nikon D3300 • Best Professional DSLR Lens – Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x • Best Expert DSLR Lens – Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD • Best Entry Level DSLR Lens – Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM • Best Premium Camera – Nikon Df • Best Expert Compact Camera – Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II • Best Photo Printer – Epson Expression Photo XP-950 • Best Tripod – Manfrotto New 190 collection • Best Professional Lighting System – Profoto B1 Off-Camera Flash • Best Portable Lighting System – Nissin i40 • Best Storage Media – SanDisk Extreme Pro SDHC/SDXC UHS-II Memory Card π To find out more and see a full list of winners, go to www.tipa.com.

Innovative support Tiffen has introduced two Davis & Sandford camera supports, with innovative designs for versatility and ease of use. The Steady Stick 3QR is designed for when a tripod or monopod can’t be used, and offers a beltmounted support that shifts the camera weight from the shoulder to the torso. It features a quick release system, and multi-position handle. The Monoped is a monopod with a folding aluminium leg base that provides extra support and has an in-built pivoting ball to make positioning the monopod easy. π To find out more, go to www.tiffen.com.

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PRINT ACADEMY Courses run by inkjet media experts PermaJet include fine art black & white printing and colour management. They cost £60 per delegate and each delegate receives a complimentary 25-sheet A3 pack of paper. www.permajet.com or email Louise Hill on louiseh@permajet.com FUJIFILM CONVERTER Fujifilm X100 and X100S owners might like to know that the TCL-X100 gives a 1.4x magnification so the fixed 23mm lens gives a rough 50mm focal length in the 35mm format. Select TeleConversion Lens in the camera’s menu and it’ll automatically process the shots to optimise image quality. No price was available as PN went to print. www.fujifilm.eu/uk CHARGE & SYNC Having the right cable is so important now, but you could just use the Magic Cable Duo with Lightning from Innergie, which can connect to over 10,000 USB devices. This £30 USB cable has micro USB for tablets and phones and Lightning for iPad, iPhone and iPod. www.myinnergie.com

Issue 8 | Photography News


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Latest photography news

Join us for Photo 24

Fancy spending 24 hours indulging your passion for photography with a bunch of like-minded souls? That’s what Photo 24 in London, in association with Advanced Photographer, Nikon and the Nikon School, offers and it all kicks off 6pm on Friday 20 June Our sister magazine, Advanced Photographer, is holding its second Photo 24 event in London on 20 and 21 June, and you are very welcome to join in. That said, numbers are limited for health and safety reasons so you fancy coming along, please register. It’s free and the details are in the To register panel right. Once you are registered we will contact you with more details nearer the time about meeting places and we may have the odd photo challenge for you too. It’s also worth saying that while you are welcome to shoot for the whole 24 hours – and as the night is short, there is no reason not to – you can come along for just the Friday evening, or perhaps Saturday afternoon. If you’re canny, you could book a hotel and do both with a few hours’ kip in between. The choice is yours so don’t feel pressurised into thinking you have to be behind the camera for 24 hours solid. After all, the shoot is meant to be fun, not torture by way of sleep depravation. To make the shoot sociable we’ll be organising regular meeting points during the 24 hours and using social media to stay in touch. Clearly, there Photography News | Issue 8

are some personal safety issues that have to be considered so ‘buddying up’ is advised, or come along with a few friends. If you are wondering how to occupy your time on Photo 24, the capital has massive potential whether you prefer shooting scenic images, graffiti, historic buildings, modern architecture or people. You may try to stick to a theme or two, or just go for blanket coverage and shoot everything that appeals. There is validity in both approaches, but gear up accordingly and remember that whatever kit you bring you’re going to have to carry around for a while, and getting on and off busy public transport is wearing in itself. When you are packing your kitbag for the day, only bring along stuff you need and will actually use. Spare cards and batteries are a must, though, so don’t skimp in these departments, and of course, if you want to do night photography or extreme long exposures a tripod is a must – just not a model that’s too heavy. In terms of lens choice, you could just go for one lens. Something like a 24-120mm is perfect and it

About Nikon Leading camera manufacturer Nikon offers a range of great products for photographers of all levels. In its DSLR range, there are entry-level models, such as the D3300 and D5300, as well as products like the D800, the highest resolution 35mm format camera around, and the flagship D4s with its top ISO of 409,600 and 11fps shooting with continuous AF. Put simply, there is a Nikon camera for photographers of all levels and budgets.

ABOVE Photo 24 is the perfect chance to build on your photography skills and enjoyment, with fellow enthusiasts in our bustling capital.

π To find out more, go to nikon.co.uk.

Now that you’re bursting with ideas check your calendar and register now. We’d love to see you www.photography-news.co.uk


Latest photography news

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Nikon School Based at the Nikon Centre of Excellence in central London, the Nikon School offers training to photographers of all levels looking to develop or refine their skills. Courses combine theory and hands-on practical assignments allowing you to put what you’ve learned into practice and range from understanding your digital SLR and lenses to more specific technique-based courses. Whilst the majority of courses run at the School, a selection of skills-based courses that focus on areas such as sports and landscape photography take place on location. π To find out more, go to www.nikon.co.uk/training/, email training@nikon.co.uk, or phone 0330 123 0934.

not only saves weight and bulk but also saves lens changing. Or you may prefer several fast aperture, fixed focal length lenses – a combination of a 28mm f/1.8, 50mm f/1.8 and a 85mm f/1.8 sounds perfect for this sort of about town shoot. For maximum flexibility you may opt for two zooms, a standard or wide-angle zoom and a telezoom should do the trick. Lens choice is obviously dictated not only by what you own but also by what you want to shoot on the day. Speaking of which it’s not a bad idea to have a few projects that you want to pursue in mind. You could just shoot iconic landmarks, or buy a Travelcard and spend hours on the Tube touring photogenic stations, or follow the Monopoly board and shoot a picture of every featured property or street. Speaking of streets, consider too the RPS London region’s ambitious Bleeding London photo project. Based on the novel of the same name the idea is to photograph every street in the London A-Z. Pictures must be taken between 7 March and October this year and the aim is to produce an exhibition and book next year. This could be an interesting way to www.photography-news.co.uk

use your time on Photo 24. See http://bit.ly/1oiuBqb for more details. Or if you want to try something different with your building pictures pick a building or landmark – the BT Tower, St Paul’s Cathedral, 30 St Mary Axe (known as the Gherkin), Big Ben and the Shard are excellent ones – and wander around the locality and take pictures with your chosen structure in the frame somewhere. It will get you walking around, looking for angles and will certainly get you thinking. Now that you’re bursting with ideas check your calendar and register now. We’d love to see you – for just a few hours or the full 24!

To register Everyone is welcome on Photo 24, so come along with members of your club or on your own and buddy up on the day, but numbers are limited so if you want to join the shoot on 20 and 21 June, please register by going to www.photo24london.eventzilla.net

IMAGES THIS PAGE Set yourself a project, architecture perhaps or even black &white street photography, or maybe take a photo every 15 minutes, regardless of what’s in front of your lens – just a handful of the ways to entertain yourself at Photo 24.

WWW.PHOTO24LONDON.EVENTZILLA.NET

Photography news

π Register at www.photo24london.eventzilla.net Issue 8 | Photography News


Tell us your club’s latest news, email: clubnews@photography-news.co.uk

8

L&LPS annual exhibition

Charlie Waite

Gloria Livingstone

Camera clubs

Taking place Friday 30 and Saturday 31 May is Leicester & Leicestershire Photographic Society’s Annual Exhibition. The exhibition is at Christchurch, Clarendon Park in Leicester and includes work from members, other clubs and individuals. “All visitors will be made very welcome,” promises publicity secretary, Jean Burbridge. “‘We’re a very friendly club.’ That was my greeting from the most venerable, 97-year-old member of the Leicester & Leicestershire Photographic Society on my first visit,” Jean continues. “The club is now in its 129th year, and the society continues to flourish: not too big to be impersonal; large enough for good competitions. And the youngest member is just 15.” π To find out more, go to www.landlps.org.uk.

NEWS IN BRIEF CALL FOR ENTRIES Entries open on 29 May for the Beyond Group’s 7th National Exhibition for prints and projected images; the closing date is 20 July. Categories include Best Live Performance, Best Landscape and Best Creative in colour print. Entries can be made online (preferred method) or by post. www.beyondgroup. org.uk

Busy Leeds PS Leeds PS certainly don’t stand still. This season members have several projects afoot Among Leeds Photographic Society’s various projects is a presentation of 12 images to the city’s Wheatfields Hospice to decorate a new ward in the Sue Ryder hospice. The project has support from Neil Hudgell Solicitors, a Yorkshire law firm looking to support projects financially through its community trust. This month, from 24 to 26 May, the PS will be holding its Annual Exhibition at Salts Mill, Saltaire, Bradford. Entry is free to the display of over 70 prints and members will be on hand to chat.

And until the end of July, the society is exhibiting 16 prints at the Atrium Gallery in the Bexley Wing of Saint James’s Hospital. Beauty In The Natural World is in memory of Leeds resident Norah Jackson who was treated at the hospital last year, but sadly lost her fight with cancer. The images are available to purchase with proceeds going to the Yorkshire Cancer Centre. π To find out more about both of these events, go to www.lps1852.co.uk.

CLUB SPOTLIGHT Each month we focus on a camera club. If you want your club featured, write 200 words about your club and why it’s going places, then send the Word document and up to five JPEG images from members to clubnews@photography-news.co.uk.

Photography News | Issue 8

Welwyn Garden City Photographic Club

Welwyn Garden City Photographic Club is, I feel, a progressive club with our own groups such as Experimental Photography, Local Photography, Nikon Users, Canon Users and Landscape Photography. Last season we moved premises – not always easy and inevitably means losing members – but it has allowed these groups to meet, on a rota, before the evening’s main event. Naturally, we have the traditionalists, but with ages ranging up to the 80s, we are thriving with over 100 members. Last season, after eight years as secretary, I thought it time to step down and encourage younger members

Derek Dewey-Leader

With several break-out groups and a new venue, Welwyn Garden City PC is thriving, explains Eileen Pegrum

onto the committee. Life is changing with younger members having the opportunity to study photography and graphics at school and so in this digital era, they can take the club forward. I personally feel the photography now is ‘artistic’, but this is the way of the world, and remember, even in the darkroom manipulation was involved.

π To find out more about Welwyn Garden City Photographic Club, go to www.welwynphotoclub.org.uk.

Landscaper to be star of this year’s Beacon Lectures Beacon Camera Club of Malvern is hosting its annual Beacon Lectures and this year’s star speaker is landscaper Charlie Waite. As Beacon’s publicity officer Trevor Bells says: “I am sure that you are aware that Charlie is widely considered to be one of the world’s leading landscape photographers. His photographic style is often considered to be unique, in that his photographs convey an almost

spiritual quality of serenity and calm. Instantly recognisable, his landscapes are rare perfections of light, colour and composition and offer the viewer a luxuriant portrait of a planet at peace and one where mankind and his activities are in harmony with his surroundings.” The talk is on 20 June at the Swan Theatre in Worcester. Tickets are £15 and can be reserved by calling the theatre’s box office on 01905 611427.

π To find out more about Beacon CC, go to www.beaconcameraclub.co.uk.

Get your club news heard We welcome any aspect of club news. It could be a member’s individual success or it might be a recent club shoot, maybe the club won a regional contest, has a special anniversary or exhibition coming up, or a big speaker due and you simply want to sell more tickets.

Rob Lea

HAILSHAM PS’S EXHIBITION Hailsham Photographic Society’s annual photographic exhibition takes place next month. From 16 to 21 June, you can enjoy and admire the members’ efforts at the Charles Hunt Centre (the Age Concern building) in Hailsham. The 2014 Photographic Exhibition includes around 140 images, both in black & white and colour. The exhibition is open 10am-4pm each day, and there’s parking nearby. Admission is free, but take your pennies along to indulge in refreshments and the raffle, and maybe buy a print or greetings card. There will also be the chance to vote for your favourite photo. (Image above by Liz Scott ARPS AFIAP). www.hailshamphoto graphicsociety.co.uk

CHARLIE WAITE TALK AT BEACON

Whatever it is, if you want any items considered for Club News email them to clubnews@photography-news.co.uk before the deadline, 2 June. Deadline for the next issue is 2 June, out Monday 16 June.

NEWSLETTERS WANTED

If your club or society publishes a newsletter, please add us to the mailing list using this email address: clubnews@photography-news.co.uk

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Issue 8 | Photography News


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Camera Clubs BEFORE THE JUDGE

Angy Ellis Each issue, a respected judge or exhibition selector shares their thoughts and experiences with us. This month, we put Angy Ellis, a relative newbie, through her paces

Angy Ellis: Angy

lives in Sunderland. She stumbled on photography six years ago; before then she’d never even owned a camera.

Home club: Durham Photographic Society, which is close to my home town of Spennymoor where my family still live. Years in photography? 6 Favourite camera:

The one I am currently using, my Nikon D600.

Favourite lens: I like having fun with my 16mm fisheye.

Favourite photo accessory: My brand

new camera bag

Favourite subject or technique: Creative portraits

Favourite photographers:

Yousuf Karsh for beautifully captured portraits. Plus I’m inspired by the wonderfully talented, creative photographers at local clubs and at international salons.

Awards won: At

this early stage I’m not interested in obtaining distinctions but know I will be, eventually. I enjoy the club and international competitions and am proud to have been awarded two gold medals; one achieved in my first year entering internationals. I have also been awarded ribbons and many acceptances as well as club successes and trophies.

Words by Angy Ellis So what gave me the urge to enter the world of judging club photography? Simply, it’s part of my personality to get involved in everything I do as much as possible; and no other hobby, so far, has taken over my life as much as photography. To be totally honest with you all, I had paid £475 for a 30x20in family portrait that I never wanted to pay again. I bought my very first camera, an Olympus E-410, and walked into Durham Photographic Society six years ago expecting someone to help me understand all the dials and letters around it. It was a competition results night and when I saw the quality of images projected, and overheard the technical discussions, I realised I had an extremely steep learning curve ahead of me. That is where the excitement and my love of photography started. I entered the competitions immediately and what became clear to me early on was that I was winning club competitions and doing very well in internationals, without really knowing the ‘rules’; rules that I heard many judges use. Such as the rule of thirds, lead-in lines, the centre of interest needing to be bright, red is a good colour to highlight, use threes and fives, etc… I could go on and on and on. Now in my sixth year I am fully aware that these rules will hopefully stop the author from making a bad picture, but I do feel that if you live by them, they could restrict the creative side of your photography. Back then I had no constraints. This is why now, when I look at an image it is my initial reaction I’m after rather than the implementation of the rules. So, how did I get here? I started by expressing my interest in becoming a judge to our president. My club informed me of a judging workshop early last year so I jumped at the chance. It was very well organised, the room was full of new faces, all passionate about photography and all with different photographic styles. It was great fun meeting them all. We all participated in group activities as well as standing up in front of everyone to put into practice what we had been taught that day on assessing images and, of course, to be assessed ourselves. I had been a successful sales coach for a large high-street bank for many years so standing in front of an audience giving constructive feedback was my normal stage. I’m fully aware that I don’t have the extensive photographers’ vocabulary, printing knowledge or past darkroom experiences, but I don’t think that hinders me at all when deciding what I enjoy about an image and why. The great thing is, photography is subjective, but it can be judged. If I prefer one particular image or style to another, that does not make me wrong. I’ll

If my initial response is ‘wow’ or ‘ahh’, an image is off to a good start. How can you top that gut reaction? Photography News | Issue 8

ANGY ELLIS

MEET THE JUDGE

be honest. I do prefer an image that is creative, that is outside the box, that offers something extra from the norm. I get bored with the norm unless it’s done really well. I do need more to impress me. During the past few years I have seen similar but at the same time different in other judges. It may not be a style that a judge focuses on but a technical issue. I’ve heard judges concentrating totally on sharpness. They judge the work unworthy of being placed if it’s not pin-sharp. I personally don’t believe an image should be hit over the head with the Unsharp Mask tool. If I can see the detail in a competition entry that’s fine by me and this is why competition nights are so exciting, because we are all different and you can’t predict the judges’ likes, dislikes and decisions. Decision time So here I am at home with my images to judge, and after my initial viewing, where I’m hoping for a reaction, I then look closer and the skills and experience of the author will sometimes become evident, but not always. I feel that my gut instinct works best to be able to place the images. I am comfortable and confident with my decisions as well as the way I make them. Personally, at club level, I would never consider looking at metadata or changing PDIs to try different things, as I’ve heard other judges say they have done. Let me be clear, I’m not at all saying that this is wrong. I simply prefer my emotional reaction first and then I’ll look at the basic expectations of a competition entry and that’s where I stop. If an image has impact and my initial response is ‘wow!’ or ‘ahh!’, then it’s off to a good start. How can you top, or deny, that gut reaction? Add to that the technical merit and I have my winner. So we come to the results night where I visit the club for the first time. The images are without author’s names so I have no idea if it’s a new member or a long-serving, experienced photographer and

why should I? It wouldn’t make any difference to how I feel about the image; everyone likes to hear some encouragement no matter how experienced they are. On the night I try not to describe what’s in the image: ‘here we have a bird sitting on a branch of a large tree’. I describe how it makes me feel, why or why not the image has impact and the reaction I got from seeing it the first time. When feedback is needed I will gently point out any technical faults as well as the strengths. I try to find three positives about each image that I can say on the night. Everyone should feel appreciated for their efforts. I do feel it’s not necessary or obligatory on every image to search for a negative or an area for improvement. I strongly believe you can have a box of images and like them all. I don’t see the need to look for something negative to justify why it’s not placed when it’s simply that others made more of an impact: perhaps due to the subject matter or an element that’s triggered something emotional in my own genetic make-up to make it special to me. My style is fast paced, I’m quick; I’m quick in most things that I do. If anyone has heard me speak or worked with me, it’s go, go, go. I’m not one to talk at length about an image, I get straight to the point and this makes for a fast-moving, energy-filled experience. After all it means that we will have more time for tea and chat this way. I do try to add my own personality and humour into the night. I’m fully aware that people may be sitting and listening for up to two hours on not the most comfortable of seating so let’s have fun where we can as the pins and needles set in in places best not mentioned. So after a night of judging if I get a letter of thanks or am asked back (which I have been), I know I’m on the right track. It’s only been eight months! I’ll get better in time as we all do. As long as I’m having fun I’ll keep doing it. As of now I’m thoroughly enjoying all that judging has to offer. www.photography-news.co.uk


www.photography-news.co.uk

Issue 8 | Photography News


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Competitions

INTERVIEW

A festival of photography As the 152nd Edinburgh International Exhibition of Photography approaches, chairman Richard Bingham gives us a whistle-stop tour through the exhibition then and now Interview by Megan Croft Tell us a bit about your own photographic background. I was given my first camera, a second-hand Box Brownie, when I was seven years old. I became an enthusiastic but indiscriminate snapper and along the way I learned how to develop and print. A new job brought me to Edinburgh and in August 1976 I visited the Edinburgh International Exhibition. This was an eye-opener for me – photography as an art form! I had not even been aware of camera clubs before this. At the exhibition the Edinburgh Photographic Society had posters inviting anyone interested to come along to their annual open night, so I went and joined up. As well as the monthly competitions to hone one’s skills, a programme of inspiring weekly talks from visiting lecturers turned a casual pastime into a major passion. Little did I realise when I saw that exhibition for the first time that nearly 40 years later I would find myself in charge of it. What’s special about the exhibition? The Edinburgh Photographic Society (EPS) was founded in 1861 and has held an international exhibition almost every year since then. The Exhibition is print only and this makes it a very rare event indeed, as entrants have to supply their own prints from which just 202 are accepted each year. This exact number arises from the number of prints that can be displayed Photography News | Issue 8

in the magnificent Georgian premises of the EPS in Edinburgh’s New Town. Because of the relatively small number of prints accepted, the percentage acceptance rate is comparatively low, so an Edinburgh acceptance sticker (we still give gold labels) is highly prized. It is often said that getting an Edinburgh sticker is like getting an award at other salons! When we celebrated our 150th exhibition two years ago, we changed to producing a larger catalogue depicting every acceptance. This proved very popular and gained us a FIAP 4* rating, which we have maintained to date. How long have you been involved in the exhibition? I took over the running of the exhibition in November, but prior to that I was one of the many involved every year assisting with the unpacking of packages of prints, preparing material for the catalogue and all manner of tasks required to run an exhibition. What have been the big changes since the first event you were involved in? I’ve only been in the hot seat for about six months, so some changes were already in the pipeline, such as going over entirely to online entry. We have also implemented a new website with a new domain name at www.edinburghphotosalon.org. How many entries do you get typically and have numbers varied much in recent years? In a typical year we receive over 2000 prints from

ABOVE LEFT Bill Badger, Adrian Lines, EFIAP MPAGB ABPE (England) TOP RIGHT The Sofa, Tim Pile, ARPS EFIAP/b MPAGB (England) ABOVE RIGHT Pondering, Peter Smith, ARPS EFIAP DPAGB (England)

over 400 photographers in about 40 countries. In our 150th anniversary year, we received over 2500 prints. In 2010 there were slightly less than 1800 entries from 286 photographers, yet the year before that 429 photographers entered 2470 prints; it’s a bit of a yo-yo. How do you choose your judges? The appointment of the judges is very important as it is their choice of prints that determines the whole nature of the exhibition. It is likely that with the same pool of prints to choose from different judges could well pick a different result as the entry standards are generally high and an acceptance rate usually below ten per cent means that many worthy images don’t make it through. Our organising committee chooses the judges based on personal knowledge of the people concerned and FIAP mandates that at least one of the judges must be from another country, which in the UK is easy as FIAP defines Scotland, Wales and England as three different countries. This year we have Chris Palmer FRPS AFIAP DPAGB APAGB (England); Ross McKelvey ARPS AFIAP MPAGB BPE4* (Northern Ireland); and Kevin Adlard FRPS EFIAP (England) with a reserve nominated as Neil Scott FRPS EFIAP/b DPAGB (Scotland). Why has it remained a print exhibition when many other exhibitions have moved entirely or partially to digital? The clue is in the word exhibition! Our mission isto www.photography-news.co.uk


Competitions

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mount an exhibition of the best of international photography open to the public for the whole month of August when Edinburgh is at its busiest with the various overlapping festivals. The several thousand visitors range from experienced photographers who know our exhibition is there, to the more casual tourists who find us in the Fringe programme. Once they have found us, many return year after year. A digital salon could not adequately be displayed in the same way and there are extra skills involved in making prints, which we wish to encourage. How does the selection process work? We have a two-stage process now known widely as the ‘Edinburgh System’, which has also been adopted elsewhere. On the first day we divide all the prints between four rooms, each with a mix of colour and mono. The three judges take a room each and scrutinise the prints at close range, sorting them into ‘yes’ or ‘no’ piles. Any ‘yeses’ are set aside for the second round and the ‘noes’ stay in that room. The judge then moves onto the next vacant room, and repeats the process, so by the end of that round every ‘no’ in all four rooms has been closely examined and rejected by all three judges. This step tends to halve the total number of prints which get through to the second round. The next day, the judges are shown each of the ‘yeses’ individually on an easel in natural daylight. The judges allocate a mark of between two and five and the total score is noted down. Once every print has been scored, we then look at the totals of the different marks to see where we stand in relation to the desired 202. Sometimes if the judges have been kind with their marking, the sum of 12s to 15s exceeds 202 and we then ask the judges to revisit all the 12s to eliminate the number required. More often it is necessary to revisit all the 11s to promote some to the acceptance level. Eventually we reach the magic 202. Then the judges view the 13s to 15s to select the award winners. By the end of the second day we have an exhibition.

ABOVE Strangers in the Night, Max van Son, AFIAP (The Netherlands) RIGHT Kindergarten Kids, Sue Moore FRPS MPAGB FIPF (England) FAR RIGHT Shadowlands, Steve Smith, FRPS MPAGB (England) BELOW RIGHT Viewpoint, Neil Scott, FRPS EFIAP/b DPAGB (Scotland)

Which are the most successful countries and which are the up-and-coming countries? England has tended to be the most dominant, usually with between one quarter and one third of the entrants and half or more of the total acceptances, with Scotland in a strong second place. China seems to be steadily increasing in numbers, for example in 2010 there were just nine entrants with 64 prints, but by 2012 we had 26 entrants from China with 223 prints. What current imaging trends have you noticed? We get a lot of composite images, some of which can be very plausible, others more surreal. Some make use of a lot of drawn components, rather than purely photographic, creating what is undoubtedly art, but arguably no longer photography. Our visitors each year have the opportunity to comment in a visitors’ book and often there are comments like ‘too much Photoshop’. From your personal standpoint, what sort of imagery excites you most? Pure imaginative photography without fancy additions or contrivances. Simple images tend to have the biggest impact. What are the biggest weaknesses that you see in entries? Poor print quality. I often see prints that I recognise as having been accepted into digital salons but the image www.photography-news.co.uk

It takes more effort to produce an exhibition quality print, particularly when the standard of competition is high

has not translated well to paper. It takes more effort to produce an exhibition quality print, particularly when the standard of competition is high. Do you have any advice for photographers wanting to enter and be successful? First step is to read the rules! For example, we occasionally receive images, which don’t meet the size guidelines or aren’t fully monochrome and have to be set aside as un-judged. Second, submit images that are attention grabbing – imagination and simplicity go a long way. Remember, if your print gets as far as the second round, the three judges only spend a few seconds deciding what score to give it, so the more the picture is likely to grab them, the better the chance of a good score. Lastly, make sure that your print quality is exemplary and that generally tends to mean detail in both the highlights and the shadows. Other common defects are oversharpening with a computer, poor colour balance and unsuitable choice of paper surface. Remember the judges examine them very thoroughly in the first round and have time to spot any technical shortcomings. What are your future ambitions for the International Exhibition? It would be great to have more exhibition space, which would enable us to put on a bigger exhibition. As affordable exhibition space in Edinburgh during August is rarer than unicorn droppings, any solution to increase hanging capacity has to happen within our own premises. We do have ideas for this, but don’t hold your breath!

Exhibition entry The exhibition welcomes entries from amateurs and professionals alike from around the world. Entrants are permitted to submit up to four prints in each of the two categories: Open Colour and Open Monochrome. The fee for entering is per section and is charged at £8 for one section or £11 for both. All entries must be submitted in print format and the last date for entry is 18 June 2014. All 202 accepted images will be exhibited at the Photographic Exhibition Centre in Edinburgh, 3-31 August (10am-5pm) during the Edinburgh International Festival.

π To find out more about the exhibition, go to www.edinburghphotosalon.org. Issue 8 | Photography News


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Profile INTERVIEW

Phil McMullin

PN picks the brain of Epson UK sales manager Phil McMullin, who, with 25 years’ industry experience, is well placed to answer our incisive questions Can you tell us about your role at Epson? I’m sales manager for Epson’s UK ProGraphics largeformat printer division. I joined the company just under a year ago following lengthy stints at Xerox, Kodak and more recently running the UK media business for sign specialist Spandex. Please give our readers an introduction to Epson. Epson began life in 1942 as a watch components manufacturer, Daiwa Kogyo in the Japanese city of Suwa, Nagano Prefecture. Since then, Epson has grown to become a globally recognised brand and leader in imaging and innovation. Epson started with nine employees, operating in a modified storehouse used for miso, a traditional Japanese seasoning used in some soup and noodle dishes. The Epson brand was created in June 1975 and the foundation of Seiko Epson took place in November 1985. We haven’t looked back and along the way we’ve created many milestone products and industry firsts, including most recently the BT-100 Moverio in 2012, the first consumer seethrough mobile viewer making big-screen multimedia entertainment accessible on the go. The second generation BT-200 is due out later this year. With the printing industry experiencing a slump on the whole, how is Epson faring? We are bucking the trend, compared with how some other Japanese technology companies are performing and our latest financial results reflect this. Our revised company strategy focusing on core technology areas is paying dividends and we’ve seen net sales increasing by 17.9%, passing the ¥1,000 billion mark for the first time since 2008. We’ve strategically aligned our product mix and adopted new business models in existing business segments. The continued success of our high-end printing business for photographers and fine artists and the launch of commercial printers in areas such as signage and textile printing is really helping to drive this. It’s proof that our focused corporate strategy is now paying off, that our technology is robust and our product line-up is strong. You must be thrilled that the Epson EH-TW7200 won best photo projector at the TIPA awards recently. Why do you think this projector has been so well received by such a large and varied range of consumers? The Epson EH-TW7200 projector is a fantastic product that is performing really well in the home cinema market. It’s won a number of awards this year and we’re naturally delighted with its success. It offers the features usually found in high-end models, such as a wide lens shift and very high contrast ratio, but with a much lower price tag. It’s a great product, packed full of features but with a price tag that’s right for the market. Photography News | Issue 8

Within the camera club circuit, and indeed in the market as a whole, projectors are on the rise. Is there still the market demand for professional home printers? Absolutely, we know there is the demand more so than ever as photographers realise that making their photographs look good on display also depends on the quality of the printer and the lifelike colours it is capable of reproducing. Epson plans to release ten new inkjet printers over the next 18 months. Is there a product in that lineup that would excite the exhibiting photographer? We have plenty of new products to be launched across all markets and sectors, but we can’t share any details yet – but watch this space! Epson’s next-generation PrecisionCore technology facilitates ultra-precise printing and is already available for commercial and business printers. Do you foresee this technology trickling down into home printers? PrecisionCore was announced in September last year and has so far been seen in some of our industrial and office products. Over time we will increase the range and at some point we could see this technology used in home printers. What kind of money and resources does Epson invest in research and development? Research and development is hugely important to us and demonstrates our commitment to key technology platforms. We invest $1.75 million each day into R&D and have around 5000 patents registered each year. We currently have 50,000 live patents making us one of the world leaders in terms of patents registered. Reuters listed us as one of the top 100 Global Innovators alongside the likes of Google, Microsoft and Boeing. Some people turn to third-party inks because of the cost saving. How does Epson justify the price of its inks? The printing system is a complex combination of printer, ink and driver technology; they work together to produce the results that our customers tell us they expect from our printers. We can only guarantee this printer performance (output quality, trouble-free use, printer life etc…) when used together with Epson ink. There are many so-called compatible ink cartridges available on the market at varying prices and of very varying quality. Ultimately, the choice about which products to buy is up to the consumer. Sadly, the low prices of some non-original cartridges lead consumers to believe that they’re getting a good deal, however this is not always the case as it can lead to

We invest $1.75 million each day into R&D and have around 5000 patents registered each year. We currently have 50,000 live patents

BIOGRAPHY AGE: 50 YEARS IN THE INDUSTRY: 25 CURRENT LOCATION: I live near Bristol but work out of Hemel Hempstead. LAST PICTURE TAKEN: An F-Type Jag to show my son HOBBIES? Swimming and reading (not at the same time) WHEN YOU WERE YOUNGER, WHAT DID YOU WANT TO DO WHEN YOU GREW UP? Coffee farmer DOGS OR CATS? Neither, I have two rugby playing sons so don’t need any more animals. TOAST OR CEREAL? Porridge EMAIL OR PHONE CALL? Call me (maybe?).

printer quality and reliability problems and ultimately require the printer to be replaced before the end of its normal life. Fortunately, most customers recognise and appreciate the quality of Epson products and we will continue to produce products that meet these standards and deliver the performance and reliability that our customers say they expect from us. There is an increasing trend for Wi-Fi enabled cameras at the moment. Do Epson printers incorporate similar technology that would enable photographers to print wirelessly from their devices? A number of our photo printers already offer remote printing with Epson Connect. This allows you to print wirelessly from smartphones and tablet PCs, using Epson iPrint, and from anywhere in the world, by emailing directly to the printer’s unique email address. Many of our printers are also Google Cloud Print and Apple AirPrint ready. Many of our printers have automatic Wi-Fi set up so you don’t need to know your network settings or connect with a USB cable during initial set-up as the printer automatically finds the relevant connection settings to configure itself. Since joining Epson, what are the most pivotal technological advances you’ve witnessed? In our printer business I would say this is our PrecisionCore printhead technology. It represents one of the largest investments in research and development in Epson’s history and is our most advanced printhead technology to date. It has the flexibility to deliver high-speed solutions for commercial, industrial and office printing and extends our tradition of providing renowned colour quality and output durability across the widest range of applications. For our projection business, it’s definitely 3LCD, Epson’s core technology found within all our projectors. Projectors that use 3LCD technology create images using three LCDs and include a sophisticated combination of Epson’s original micro device and optical component technologies. It creates colour visuals that are made up of every possible colour and expressing every type of movement, resulting in the reproduction of truly natural, bright and beautiful colours. What are your future ambitions for Epson? Our ultimate goal is to be number one in all the markets that we operate in. This is a really ambitious statement but I think we’re in pretty good shape to move forward and achieve this. π To find out more about Epson, go to www.epson.co.uk. www.photography-news.co.uk


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EPSON PRINTERS

Win an Epson Stylus Photo R3000 This is your chance to win your club a competition-winning printer When it comes to print-based awards, competitions or exhibitions, not only does the image have to meet the grade, but the quality of the print must be uncompromisingly superlative. Photographers familiar with the judging process for print submissions will be all too aware that adjudicators look for detail in the shadows and highlights as well as overall tonal quality of the print. Poor print standards can be the difference between an acceptance and a fail. With a professional-quality printer, such as the Epson Stylus Photo R3000, photographers can take complete creative control over the prints to guarantee a superb finished result every time. The R3000 can handle A3+ prints without a problem and its front-loading fine art paper feed means there is no risk of damaging the paper. It is compatible with a wide range of media and can even print on board up to 1.3mm thick. Epson’s UltraChrome K3 inks with Vivid Magenta and three densities of black create a more natural-looking tonal range – perfect for withstanding close-up scrutiny from the judges and achieving an overall impact. What’s more, the R3000 will automatically switch to www.photography-news.co.uk

either a standard photo or black matte depending on the media used. The devil is often in the detail and there is nothing less forgiving than a black & white print. With the R3000, true black & white images can be printed without the occurrence of the much-dreaded colour casts. In addition to tweaking the black & white tonality from warm to neutral or cool, the printer can also save preferences to easily recreate the results next time. The Epson Stylus Photo R3000 can reliably print professional quality images with ease, letting photographers take complete creative control over their photos from the moment the shutter closes right through to the printed copy.

π To find out more about the Epson range of inkjet printers, go to www.epson.co.uk.

Win an R3000 for your camera club Epson is hosting its very own competition, giving you the chance of winning a new R3000 for your camera club. We’re asking clubs to put together a team of three willing photographers to submit a joint panel of three images in total. The competition theme is colour and will be judged by business manager for Epson UK, Nick White who’s no stranger to judging on the photography competition circuit and Photography News’s very own editor, Will Cheung. Submit your team’s photographs to us via email at win@photographynews.co.uk putting Epson in the subject line before the closing date of 23 June to be in with a chance of winning. The winning team will be revealed in a future issue of Photography News. Terms and conditions A camera club is permitted to enter more than one team of three into the competition. Each team must consist of three members from the same camera club. Teams must send three images adhering to the theme of colour to win@photography-news.co.uk using the subject line Epson. Images must be no more than 1000 pixels on the longest side and in JPEG format. The winner will be notified by email/phone and the results may be published in the magazine. This competition is open to UK residents only. All entrants must be at least 18 years old. Employees of Bright Publishing and Epson and their immediate families and agents may not enter. Entries must be received by 23 June 2014. Entries not in accordance with these rules will be disqualified: by entering the competition, competitors will be deemed to have agreed to be bound by these rules. The prize must be taken as offered with no alternative. In the event that the prize cannot be supplied no liability will be attached to Bright Publishing. If you do not wish your data to be shared with Epson, please state NO DATA in the email’s subject line. For full terms and conditions, please visit www.bright-publishing.com.

Issue 8 | Photography News


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Opinion

SPEAKERS’ CORNER

Images or photographs? When is a photograph not a photograph? Ian McNab attempts to answer the perennial question of how far post-processing can go before you can no longer call an image a photograph

© WILL CHEUNG

In recent editions of Photography News, both Peter Yeo and Dave Hipperson have mentioned issues for club competitions arising from the wide diversity of digital images now being entered. But these problems are hard to deal with, partly because we no longer talk precisely about what a photograph is. Instead, we use the vague term ‘images’. In the visual arts, some pictures are built up or ‘synthesised’, and the artist has to decide what will appear on every square centimetre of the picture’s surface. Examples of such synthesised pictures are paintings, drawings and collages. Photographs are made by recording on a lightsensitive surface the pattern of light reflected by objects. Commonly this is done by means of a camera that focuses the pattern of light bouncing off objects in front of the lens onto sensitive film or a digital sensor. Thus a photograph is quite different from synthesised pictures. A photograph is more like a brass rubbing: it is a trace or imprint of what is in front of the lens, made on the film or sensor by the patterns of light. And there has to be real stuff in front of the lens for this to happen. You can paint a picture of a unicorn trotting up a rainbow, but you cannot take a photograph of a unicorn trotting up a rainbow; you can make a photomontage of angels issuing forth from the gates of heaven, but you cannot take a photograph of that.

Photography News | Issue 8

For the last 40 or more years, art historians, critics and theorists have discussed this essential difference between photographs and synthesised pictures. They have described how photographs are physically ‘caused’ by the light bouncing off the objects they depict. And to refer to this, they say that photographs are an ‘index’ – a trace or imprint – of the objects, not just a representation of them. The ‘indexicality’ of the photograph depends on the physics of light and the optical recording system of the camera, which maps the patterns of light reflected from the 3D world in front of the camera precisely onto the 2D plane of the light-sensitive recording surface inside. This is a matter of simple but precise geometry: the distances and angles between points on the image on the surface of the sensor or film correspond to points on the objects in the 3D physical world in front of the camera. Remembering these simple facts helps with understanding how indexicality is maintained or destroyed by post-production. If the development or processing merely enhances qualities like the brightness, contrast, tonality or sharpness of what was recorded, it does not disturb the geometrical mapping essential to indexicality. But if the processing goes further, and profoundly rearranges what was recorded in ways that interfere with or abolish the indexicality, what we finish up with may no longer accurately be called a photograph. To illustrate this, imagine that Leonardo da Vinci has just painted the Mona Lisa. He then chops up

© WILL CHEUNG

Words by Ian McNab

If post-processing rearranges what was recorded in ways that interfere with or abolish indexicality, what we finish with may no longer be a photograph the painting into tiny squares, and uses them to make a mosaic image of a piazza in Florence. Is the resulting picture of the piazza a painting? Surely we have to say it is not, even though all the little squares were from what was originally a painting. What we have now is, rather, a mosaic: the post-processing has abolished the connectedness of the painted surface that characterised the painting. Similarly, some digital post-processing may entail cutting out sections of a photograph, replacing them with sections from others, adding elements from other photographs or from other digital images by compositing, or adding computer-aided drawing, or software-generated effects. Such transformations abolish the correspondence between the objects in the world and the original ‘traces’ of the light from them that was recorded. The process creates a new, synthesised picture that may perhaps be described as a ‘mixed media digital image’. The digital image created by assembling what was originally photographic material is thus a synthesised picture similar to other ‘non-indexical’ representations, such as drawings. Of course, some artists are deeply fascinated by the process of synthesising visual images using computer software. That kind of artistic endeavour rightly has a place among the visual arts. Other artists may prefer to work in the medium of the indexical photograph. However, a particular problem arises when these different kinds of visual art are judged side by side, and technical clarity, precision of composition and striking visual content are highly regarded qualities. Here, carefully synthesised images made by transforming photographic elements by means of computer software are at a distinct advantage over those made in the less tractable medium of indexical photography with a camera. Perhaps a way forward would be to judge synthesised images in their own category. This approach is already being tried (and in some cases monitored via the entrants’ original camera files), for example by RPS, FIAP and some BPE competitions.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? LEFT From indexical photograph to synthesised image.

Is Ian McNab on the right track? Should we be categorising images as indexical or synthesised for judging purposes? Share your thoughts with us at opinion@photography-news.co.uk.

www.photography-news.co.uk


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LASTOLITE BACKGROUNDS

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IMAGES Crease resistant and easily collapsible, Lastolite’s reversible Urban Backgrounds offer a simple, practical way of bringing the outdoors indoors.

With the Lastolite Urban Backgrounds Collection, you can easily create an urban feel in the studio or at home

π To find out more about Lastolite Urban Backgrounds, go to www.lastolite.co.uk. www.photography-news.co.uk

Issue 8 | Photography News


Competitions

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JUDGING

On the circuit

The Trierenberg Super Circuit is one of the globe’s biggest and most competitive salons and to win an award is something a great many photographers aspire to. PN’s editor Will Cheung was one of this year’s selectors and he brings us this exclusive fly-on-the-wall report Words by Will Cheung

The Trierenberg Super Circuit (TSC) has been going for 22 years (it started life as the Austrian Super Circuit) and is one of the biggest photographic competitions in the world. This year I was the sole UK representative on the selection panel that comprised 12 accomplished photographers from ten countries. Chris Hinterobermaier, the organiser of the TSC, had divided the 12 selectors into four judging salons and each would view the same set of pictures over the weekend. At first appearance that might seem odd, but given that each salon comprised photographers of different disciplines and tastes it was highly unlikely that each salon would come up with the same winning pictures. Viewed another way, it gives the entrants a greater chance of gaining acceptances. I was judging in Salon 1 with Gabriela Staebler, a German professional wildlife photographer who shoots mostly in Africa and whose work has been published in the National Geographic magazine as well as in books and calendars. The third member of the panel was Abdul Obeidan Fakhroo from Qatar, organiser of another well-known photographic salon, the Al Thani, which is judged in the same building as the TSC. My salon was being judged on the Saturday and with thousands of images to look at, the day got off to a very early start. Before judging started Chris gave us a briefing: “Salon 1 starts with the prints and Salon 2 with the projected digital images (PDI). You vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Only images that get three ‘yes’ votes will get through to the next stage and you’ll see those again. From these you will pick gold, silver and bronze medal winners – that’s all.” As judging formats go, it seemed pretty straightforward, but only having three prizes to dish out can produce tension within a panel of judges. More awards to share out can make things more harmonious because there are more chances to compromise. Three award winners means it could be an interesting day, but Chris had more: “In Salon 1 I want Gabi to pick her favourite picture for a selector’s award from the colour prints. Abdul you pick your favourite from the mono print section and Will, you choose from the PDI section. That’s it! Let’s start.” Not much more detail was needed because all the selectors had done a TSC before – this was my third time. Having a few more awards to give out would perhaps cut down the chance of judges squabbling. We started with the prints and with a team of helpers we began with the monochrome section and a big pile awaited us. Many were mounted in mattes, many were flush mounted but the majority weren’t Photography News | Issue 8

– making an educated guess from the content of the images, I’d say these were from the Far East. But of course we were judging image content so presentation was not a consideration here. Print quality varied. Many lab-produced prints seemed less punchy with weaker blacks but this was only a quick impression because there was no time to linger on each image. It is impossible to overstress how precious little time an image has to make an impression to get a yes vote. By the way, this isn’t peculiar to the TSC – selecting images for most salons and contests is the same. It is the only way you can get through the large number of entries. www.photography-news.co.uk


Competitions

Sitting as a panel Abdul saw images first, then Gabi and then it was me. This wasn’t planned, we just sat down in that order. Each picture was judged in a matter of seconds – yes, it was that quick. It seemed to me, being at the end of the queue, that I lingered on some images more often than my two fellow judges. When I say lingered I am talking by fractions of a second just to check print quality, sometimes to see if the image had a message or story that would appear with an extended look. On occasions, I dwelt purely to enjoy the image. I should stress that this wasn’t often and mostly I was as quick as my fellow judges in delivering a verdict. www.photography-news.co.uk

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TOP LEFT Salon 1 examining the mono print entries. LEFT Angelus Dominus by Jackson Carvalho. ABOVE Shelter by Clarissa Jayakumara & Peddy Suryadinata – Will’s selector’s award choice.

After all the mono prints had been marked our helpers laid out the images that got three positive votes. From a large pile we had just 19 prints to consider for the three awards and for the selector’s favourite image. We repeated the yes/no voting process, again with only the images with three yes votes going through to the final judging session. This time the pace was more sedate, but whittling down to the winners can usually take time as the selectors fight for their favourites. Perhaps unusually in our salon deciding the top three was painless as we all agreed and the only sticking point once we got the top three was in which order they should go. This was done by democracy.

It is impossible to overstress how precious little time an image has to make an impression to get a yes vote. It is the only way you can get through the large number of entries

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Advertisement feature FUJIFILM X-T1

Downsize without compromise Think you’d like a smaller camera, but don’t think it’ll do

the job? Take a look at the Fujifilm X-T1 and think again If your camera was smaller, the chances are you’d carry it with you and use it more often so you’d never miss a shot. That’s why it’s so tempting to downsize from a DSLR to a compact system camera (CSC), but there always seems to be a compromise, doesn’t there? Even if the image quality is great, then perhaps the handling is awkward. Or maybe the focusing is quick, but lowlight images are too noisy. With the Fujifilm X-T1, there are none of these concerns – it combines the superb image quality of the X-series cameras with a design that delivers all the handling and speed of a DSLR. DSLR performance Fujifilm X-series cameras like the X-Pro1, X-E2 and X-M1 have established beyond all doubt that CSCs can match DSLRs when it comes to image quality, thanks to Fujifilm’s X-Trans sensor technology. The unique arrangement of pixels ensures there’s no risk of moiré patterning, an artefact that standard sensors are susceptible to. This means there’s no need for an anti-aliasing filter, which is normally used to prevent moiré but softens detail in the process – as a result, X-series images are exceptionally crisp. It’s no different in the X-T1, which features the second generation X-Trans II sensor, delivering the best image quality yet. This is true even in low light, where a top ISO sensitivity

of 51,200 helps you keep shooting in even the dimmest of conditions. On top of this, the X-T1 adds lightning fast speed that means it can keep pace with the action as effectively as a DSLR, something you can’t say for many CSCs. The EXR II processor and Intelligent Hybrid Auto Focus allows it to lock onto a subject in as little as 0.08 seconds – that’s world-beating speed – and can be combined with the top continuous shooting rate of eight framesper-second to track even fast-moving subjects. As the world’s first camera that’s compatible with new UHS-II SD memory cards, which offer faster transfer speeds, images are also saved to the card in record time so that top speed can be maintained for bursts of up to nearly 50 images. Design evolution The first thing you’ll notice from looking at the X-T1 is that the viewfinder is in the centre with a pentaprism-style housing, making the camera not only look more like a DSLR than the other rangefinder-style X-series models, but also feel more like a DSLR to use. It has a magnification ratio of 0.77x, making it the world’s biggest viewfinder of its kind, and even bigger than optical viewfinders in some full-frame DSLRs. Its OLED display has a high resolution of 2.36 million dots, and there’s a lag time of just 0.005 seconds

IMAGES From the tactile controls to the focusing speed and low-light capabilities, the X-T1 offers a no-compromise approach to photography.

The X-T1’s lightning fast speed means it can keep pace with the action as effectively as a DSLR – you can’t say that for many CSCs – watch the world through the viewfinder, and you’re watching it in real time. It all makes for a framing experience that’s indistinguishable from a DSLR’s optical viewfinder. This DSLR-like experience continues throughout the design and handling of the X-T1 – although the body is resistant to dust and water and keeps working at temperatures of -10°C, it’s styled like the DSLRs of yesteryear, with controls to match. Dials for shutter speed, ISO and exposure compensation combine with the aperture ring on Fujinon lenses to provide you with instant and beautifully tactile control of your settings, helping you to achieve your creative vision. It takes you back to the days of film, while you’re safe in the knowledge that cutting-edge imaging technology will deliver the highest quality. Add this design and handling to the speed and performance of the Fujifilm X-T1, and you have a camera that gives you all the benefits of downsizing from a DSLR, without any of the usual compromises in performance. It leaves no reason to resist the temptation. • Don’t miss next issue, when we take a look at the Fujinon 18-135mm zoom lens.

π To find out more about the X-T1, go to www.fujfilm.eu/uk/. Photography News | Issue 8

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Competitions

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Orange by Lyubomir Sergeev.

Less than two hours after starting we had finished the mono section and it was onto the colour prints, of which there were many piles awaiting our attention. The quality of the colour prints seemed higher, pictorially and aesthetically. The challenge for the judges when looking at general sections like these is that you go from looking at a fine art nude study to a landscape and then to a great nature shot or heavily manipulated image, all in quick succession. Comparing like with like is one thing but disparate subjects can be tricky. I wanted a good picture that was well composed, technically sound and worth looking at. It doesn’t seem much to ask but many failed by not being worth looking at. Judges have personal preferences too. Abdul had a liking for action images and Gabi liked excellent

I wanted a good picture that was well composed, technically sound and worth looking at. It doesn’t seem much to ask, but many failed www.photography-news.co.uk

nature pictures although she did reject many good ones including several excellent kingfisher pictures. She has seen so many, she told me afterwards. The colour print section took longer purely due to a greater number of entries but I think we were happy with our work. Sitting last of the three judges I did feel a little extra pressure when my fellow judges both said yes to a picture. It made me look a little harder before delivering my vote. The image’s fate was in my power. Equally some images I thought worthy of a second look were out of the running for the big awards by the time I voted: that’s the reality of judging by panel. After lunch we swapped with Salon 2 and moved into a room with a big TV to view the PDIs. Here voting was done by pushing a button on a control pad with blue and red buttons – red for hot or yes and blue for cool or no. Once all three judges had voted the next image appeared automatically. In PDI we had four sections: experimental, photo travel, nature and general. It is worth noting that in the nature category we saw plenty of landscapes which, of course, are natural but nature indicates wildlife rather than auroras, rainbows and waterfalls and none of the landscape pictures in the nature category made it through to the next judging stage.

The 536-page coffeetable edition covers 2000 masterpieces from various themes of the contest, a best of artistic photography, and a who’s who of contest and salon photography on a global level. It is available at £60 (including postage). Order from fotoforum @fotosalon.at.

By far the biggest category of the four was general as you would expect and it was to be the last section of the day. Having already seen and assessed a couple of thousand images, the risk of overload or just fatigue was now very real. There would be runs of simply pushing the blue button, but then one stunning image would appear to make you stab the red button. There were certainly plenty of great images to enjoy. In this category I had the additional responsibility of picking an image for my individual selector’s award. I could do this in two different ways. Wait until the judging was complete and then choose one from the images that got three yes votes but that didn’t get a gold, silver or bronze award. Or I could select a few pictures as I went along and ask the computer guy, Mario, to mark the image. To do this though I had to tell him before I voted. In practice when I saw an image that I really liked I waited for my fellow judges to vote – coloured indicators on the screen told me when they had. If they both voted red for yes I did the same so I knew the image would be around at the next selection stage. If, however, one of them voted blue for no I had to let Mario know, otherwise I’d never see the image again. Some brilliant images (to my eyes) did get no Issue 8 | Photography News


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Competitions

What’s hot & what’s not! Some subjects in our salon consistently fared poorly so out of interest I kept a mental note of a few subjects you may wish to avoid when you are next selecting images for a salon. This list of course only applies to the salon I was judging and it is just opinion based on what was experienced. Some subjects might have not have succeeded purely because the pictures were not good enough. It might also be that some subjects do not possess the instant impact to succeed in this judging format. Street images could come into this category where any message is easily missed. Some subjects fared poorly because they have been seen so often: Buddhist monks, kids with bright parasols and backlit old men (oriental, gnarled, front teeth missing, smoking a pipe). Ox racing (usually in Cambodia or Vietnam) is photogenic and I saw some real crackers but not one made it to the final judging. One subject that did poorly was classic landscape and the ones that did get votes were of Tuscany which was a surprise given how popular the cypress tree scenics of the area have been. To be fair any of the subjects listed in the ‘what’s not’ section could win in this or any other salon, but they have got to be truly, truly exceptional images. Being pin-sharp, perfectly exposed and beautifully processed is not enough.

What’s hot – maybe!

votes so I had to be quick to make sure I saved the images I liked and wanted to see again. There was a running total of ‘one yes’, ‘two yes’ and ‘three yes’ images on the screen. The number of ‘three yes’ images was very few; I reckon there were just ten out of the first 1000 and then finally 22 from all 2061 images. For my selector’s image I went for something very different from what I produce: a classy montage that looked really well done. To be honest, there were three stunning images in contention at the end but the image I picked was one I’d be happy to hang up at home so it got the nod. It was late afternoon by the time our salon finished with the PDI section. The other salon had already finished and had gone back to the hotel – I thought we had rattled through the entries but obviously not. Given the standard of photography on show, anyone that got acceptances at the TSC or got an award should be proud. I really enjoyed the TSC weekend. Great company, warm hospitality and, of course, the many awesome pictures that got me inspired.

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT Flowers for Vera by Stanislav Solagayan; Festschmaus by Ludwig Loch; Spiral Aurora by Vivien Cotton; The Cave by Darío Sastre; Decisive Moment by Julien Lathouwers; and House of Wax by Ben Benowski.

Aerial photography. Quadcopters have made this accessible to enthusiasts and the potential for unusual images is there. Great action images. Well-executed creative blur images and also shots where you can see every straining sinew in the competitor’s face. Images done with GoPro type cameras. Linked to the two above, and means you can get unique viewpoints. Pattern images. Colour contrast, a face looking towards the camera in a sea of people facing the other direction, lines of repeating shapes and colours. Portraits done brilliantly because the fare offered up at salons is mostly stodgy. The same opportunity applies to fine art nude.

What’s not! Anything with Venetian masks Auroras Buddhist monks Butterflies, dragonflies, damselflies C  owboys and dusty cattle drives D  ancers – including those shot underwater E  xtreme long exposures F  ine art nudes, girls draped across rocks G  lamour I nsects and animals procreating K  ingfishers O  x racing P  arasols held by oriental kids backlit P  ortraits of men with unkempt beards S  treet pictures W  rinkled oriental men/women backlit

π To find out more, go to www.supercircuit.at or email fotoforum@fotosalon.at. Photography News | Issue 8

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Camera review

APS-C DSLR big test

There’s a huge choice of APS-C DSLRs available, with an equally huge price range. We compare six of the current crop to see which is best for you Words by Ian Fyfe

No fewer than 25 APS-C format DSLRs are currently available, ranging from simple entry-level models up to those with sophisticated technology aimed at advanced enthusiasts and even professionals. In pursuit of high-quality images, it’s tempting to dismiss the lowerend models and gravitate towards the most expensive, but the difference in price can be huge. That’s why we’ve pitted six of the best APS-C DSLRs from across the price range against each other in tests of performance and handling, to see what they’re capable of and whether it’s necessary to spend big for the best performance. Our line-up includes two advanced APS-C DSLRs, the Nikon D7100 and Sony A77; two mid-level models, the Canon EOS 70D and Nikon D5300; and two entry-level offerings, the Canon EOS 700D and Sony A58. There’s no denying that the extra cost of top-end cameras provides extras in both functionality and form. The metering systems are often more advanced, and sophisticated AF systems combine with fast

Photography News | Issue 8

continuous shooting speeds to make them well suited for sports, wildlife and action photography. They’re also more solidly built and resistant to the elements, while a bigger body leaves space for more direct access buttons and dials. But mid-level DSLRs have wide appeal because they are options either as an upgrade for enthusiasts who want more advanced performance at a reasonable cost, or as a backup camera to a more advanced or full-frame model. Often the sensor and processor technology isn’t different from the top-end models, and it’s a case of deciding how many bells and whistles you need or want. More simplistic focusing and slower shooting speeds are common sacrifices at this level, as well as things like control of flash

and flexibility in settings like bracketing and white-balance. It’s a similar story with entrylevel models, but these same restrictions are often more pronounced. Often the most immediately noticeable differences between the levels of camera are in build quality and handling. Bodies at the lower end are smaller and less robust, but the flipside is that they’re more compact and lighter, which might be what you’re looking for. Less space for buttons also results in more restricted control with less direct access. Other things like smaller and dimmer viewfinders and single rather than dual memory card slots are seemingly less important, but can be significant. So with all that in mind, let’s see what our six are capable of.

Often the sensor and processor technology isn’t different from the top-end models, and it’s a case of deciding how many bells and whistles you need or want www.photography-news.co.uk


Camera review Nikon D7100

KEY SPECS PRICE £839 CONTACT www.nikon.co.uk SENSOR 24.1 megapixels with EXPEED 3

ISO RANGE 100-25,600 extended AUTOFOCUS 51 AF points SHOOTING SPEED 6fps

Canon EOS 70D

KEY SPECS PRICE £858 CONTACT www.canon.co.uk SENSOR 20.2 megapixels with DIGIC 5+

ISO RANGE 100-25,600 extended AUTOFOCUS 19 AF points SHOOTING SPEED 7fps

Canon EOS 700D

KEY SPECS PRICE £485 CONTACT www.canon.co.uk SENSOR 18 megapixels with DIGIC 5

ISO RANGE 100-25,600 extended AUTOFOCUS 9 AF points SHOOTING SPEED 5fps

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The top frame rate of the D7100 is six framesper-second at full resolution – equal fastest in the Nikon line-up besides the D4s, but slower than APS-C flagship competitors. You can get extra speed in 1.3x crop mode – resolution is cut to 15.4 megapixels, but the top speed reaches 7fps. While speed struggles a little, the D7100 has advanced focusing with a 51-point system covering much of the frame and with 15 cross-type sensors. Focusing algorithms are from the D4, and sensitivity goes down to -2EV. For moving subjects, there are 3D Tracking and Dynamic Area AF modes. The body of the D7100 represents a step up in quality from other Nikon APS-C DSLRs. It’s built more like the full-frame models, and feels solid in the hand, but it’s also relatively light. The control layout gives you instant access to every setting you’re likely to want in a hurry – the directional selector is just a little small. The body also features weather and dust sealing equivalent to the D800.

Although the 70D sits below the 7D in the EOS line-up, it’s arguably Canon’s most advanced APS-C offering. It includes Canon’s highest resolution APS-C sensor, the same processor as Canon’s full-frame DSLRs, and shooting at up to 7fps. The AF system is essentially a stripped-down version of that in the EOS 7D – it has 19 cross-type AF sensors and is designed to deal with action. Unique to the EOS 70D is Dual Pixel on-sensor focusing technology, which transforms Live View focusing and makes it genuinely useable for stills and movies. The body is relatively big – similar in size to the full-frame EOS 6D – but also extremely comfortable to hold. The directional selector in the centre of the control wheel is a little small, but otherwise controls are user-friendly, with comprehensive direct access. There’s also a vari-angle touch LCD, helping to make the most of the speed of Dual Pixel AF. The EOS 70D is also Canon’s only APS-C DSLR with in-built Wi-Fi.

The EOS 700D has 18 megapixels, matching the current flagship EOS 7D but starting to seem a little stingy since most now have over 20. There are also just nine AF points, and while the diamond arrangement covers a good total area, there are big gaps. All nine AF points use cross-type sensors though, making for fast and reliable focusing, especially impressive in low light. With a step down in capability from the EOS 70D comes a step down in build quality. The EOS 700D feels plasticky, even compared to other entry-level models. Switch from more advanced Canons, and the control layout will also need getting used to – there’s no control wheel on the back, and the only direct-access button on the top-plate is the ISO button – other direct access is through buttons on the back, but it’s still comprehensive. There’s also a touch screen that flips out and rotates, and this offers a larger display than the tilting Sony screen without compromising on the size of the body or controls.

25 Sony A77

KEY SPECS PRICE £729 CONTACT www.sony.co.uk SENSOR 24.3 megapixels with BIONZ

ISO RANGE 100-16,000 extended AUTOFOCUS 19 AF points SHOOTING SPEED 12fps

Nikon D5300

KEY SPECS PRICE £669 CONTACT www.nikon.co.uk SENSOR 24.2 megapixels with EXPEED 4

ISO RANGE 100-25,600 extended AUTOFOCUS 39 AF points SHOOTING SPEED 5fps

Sony A58

KEY SPECS PRICE £359 CONTACT www.sony.co.uk SENSOR 20.1 megapixels with BIONZ

ISO RANGE 100-16,000 extended AUTOFOCUS 15 AF points SHOOTING SPEED 8fps

The technology inside the A77 offers unrivalled speed – its 12fps matches Canon’s flagship EOS-1D X, and no other APS-C DSLR comes close. However, focusing modes are relatively limited, and for moving subjects there’s little more sophisticated than the often erratic Object Tracking. A translucent mirror means an electronic viewfinder, and few are better than this one. The magnification ratio of 1.09x is higher than any other APS-C DSLR and equal to some fullframe viewfinders, and there’s minimal lag. Also unique for a camera of this level is the articulated LCD screen – great for awkward compositions, and because the mirror doesn’t flip, you get full-time phase-detection AF even when using the screen to compose. The A77 is light for this level of camera, and dual command dials and top-plate direct access offer advanced control. But responses are a bit slow – the camera takes a couple of seconds to fully boot, and there’s a lag when you change settings with the dial.

The D5300’s plastic body is reinforced with carbon fibre, so is sturdy and light. A consumer-friendly design impacts on handling – there’s just one command dial and few direct-access buttons; the menu is the only option for white-balance, ISO, metering and focus modes. Other absent advanced features include support for high-speed sync flash, and there’s no integrated AF motor, so AF is only supported with AF-S lenses. Nevertheless, the 24-megapixel sensor has no optical low-pass filter, and is paired with the new EXPEED 4 processor. It also uses the same 2016-pixel RGB metering sensor as the D7100. The D5300 is also Nikon’s only camera to feature in-built Wi-Fi. Focusing is via a 39-point AF system, meaning extensive AF coverage of the frame, which is great for the dynamic area focus modes. Not so good for action is the continuous shooting speed, which tops out at 5fps – comfortably beaten by the Canon EOS 70D.

Although at the bottom of Sony’s DSLT tree, the A58 is still speedy – continuous shooting reaches eight frames-per-second, much faster than most DSLRs of this price. This can be combined with full-time phase-detection and Lock-on AF, which is a more effective tracking mode even than the A77 equivalent. The A58’s viewfinder is electronic with 1440k dots compared to 2359k dots in the A77 – it’s not poor resolution, just obvious you’re looking at a screen. There’s pretty much no noticeable lag though, and movement is smooth. The LCD screen tilts vertically, but the trade-off is a relatively small and low-resolution screen. Some of the control layout is good – such as a thumb-friendly exposure compensation button – but other aspects reflect the entrylevel audience, such as a digital zoom on the top-plate. Some key settings are consigned to the D-pad or the Quick Navi menu. Buttons on the A58 are generally nice to use, and only the D-pad lacks a little positivity. Issue 8 | Photography News


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Camera review ISO performance We tested the APS-C DSLRs in low light to see how increasing ISO sensitivity impacts on image quality in each case. The same twilight scene was photographed with all cameras as ISO sensitivity was progressively increased. In all cases, aperture was kept constant at f/5.6 and the lens was set to a focal length of 24mm. The cameras were mounted on a tripod and triggered with the self-timer function. All noise reduction was turned off in-camera, and Raw images were converted in Adobe Lightroom 5 with luminance and colour noise reduction turned off. Across the board, noise started to creep in at ISO 800, although the impact on image quality at this level was generally minimal. Above this, performance diverged. The best was the Nikon D7100, which produced perfectly useable images up to ISO 3200. Above this, noise increased more noticeably, but performance stayed ahead of the field.

The other top-end flagship model in our group, the Sony A77, didn’t perform so well – the semi-translucent mirror necessarily causes some light loss, and this becomes a real issue in low light. From ISO 1600 upwards, noise starts to degrade image quality significantly, and performance is at least two stops behind the Nikon D7100. Although a mid-level camera, the Nikon D5300 wasn’t far behind the D7100, and image quality again held out extremely well until at least ISO 3200. Overall, it was perhaps just one third of a stop behind the D7100, and colour accuracy was not maintained quite so well at the higher sensitivities. Also a mid-level camera, the Canon EOS 70D put in a good performance too and wasn’t far behind the D5300, but noise just had a little more impact on image quality at ISO 3200 and 6400. At the entry level, the Sony A58 and Canon EOS 700D were closely matched, although the Sony just had the edge at mid-level sensitivities – at ISO 1600, noise levels aren’t lower per se, but contrast is better and more detail remains. From ISO 3200 upwards, the Sony starts to suffer a little more, and the Canon takes the lead. Perhaps most surprisingly, the Sony A58 put in a slightly better performance than the A77, even though it’s well below it in the Sony line-up – that’s most likely down to the fact that it’s a much more recent camera.

NIKON D7100

SONY A77

ISO 100

ISO 100

ISO 1600

ISO 1600

ISO 3200

ISO 3200

ISO 12,800

ISO 12,800

CANON EOS 70D

NIKON D5300

CANON EOS 700D

SONY A58

ISO 100

ISO 100

ISO 100

ISO 100

ISO 1600

ISO 1600

ISO 1600

ISO 1600

ISO 3200

ISO 3200

ISO 3200

ISO 3200

ISO 12,800

ISO 12,800

ISO 12,800

ISO 12,800

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Camera review

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Resolution We took side-by-side shots with all six cameras to compare resolution in Raw and JPEG files. Lenses differed between manufacturers, but were matched as closely as possible. Each was set to 50mm at f/8. Raw images were processed in Lightroom with default sharpening and compared on-screen at equal sizes. JPEGs shown are straight out of the camera. With pixel counts of 24 megapixels, both Nikons are the most impressive here, and the D5300 at least matches the D7100 too. Images from the A77 weren’t far behind, just a touch softer, perhaps because it has a low-pass filter. Lower pixel counts in the other cameras make a difference, and the two Canons suffer the most. The EOS 700D in particular produces the softest Raw files.

As a general rule, in-camera processing boosted contrast in JPEGs, but not always to good effect. In the Sony A77 in particular, JPEGs showed obvious blocking up of detail, and in the Canons overall sharpness appeared better, but there was some impact on fine detail. In both Nikons, in-camera processing was minimal, and it was the same in the Sony A58 – there was little difference between Raw and JPEG files.

NIKON D7100

SONY A77

RAW

RAW

JPEG

JPEG

CANON EOS 70D

NIKON D5300

CANON EOS 700D

SONY A58

RAW

RAW

RAW

RAW

JPEG

JPEG

JPEG

JPEG

The verdict Obviously there are significant differences between the different levels of cameras, but exactly where these differences lie varies between cameras and manufacturers. The camera that’s right for you will depend on a number of factors – what you want to take pictures of, the value you place on handling

Best advanced APS-C DSLR

If you shell out for one of the top APS-C DSLRs, you’re sure to get a very capable camera. But the D7100 stands out because it has the most advanced AF system, top image quality from its high-resolution sensor, and class-leading low light performance. It doesn’t have quite the same speed as other cameras at this level, but it’s still quick, and all of this comes at a reasonable price. www.photography-news.co.uk

versus image quality, whether you want a main camera, backup body, or upgrade, and how much money you’re willing to spend. For example, if you exclusively shoot landscapes, the image quality of the D5300 may mean you don’t need to

Best mid-level APS-C DSLR

The Canon EOS 70D is a great choice for action photography, and Dual Pixel AF makes it top of the list for Live View or movie shooting. But the D5300 stands out simply for its image quality – it at least matches the D7100. There’s definitely a compromise in build and handling, but the combination of image quality and price means you can’t go wrong.

spend the extra for the D7100, but there’s a compromise in handling. For fast action, you could get away with the speed of the A58 rather than laying out the extra for a flagship model. Ultimately, it’s up to you, but here’s our round-up of the best performers at different levels.

Best entry-level APS-C DSLR

The best all-round package for us at this level is the Sony A58. Its resolution is impressive, and performance in all other areas we tested put it near the front of the pack in its class. Its translucent mirror set-up also means it can provide shooting speeds on a par with the fastest APS-C DSLRs, and even faster than the Nikon D7100. Even better, it’s one of the cheapest APS-C DSLRs around.

The full version of this feature appeared in issues 42, 43 and 44 of Advanced Photographer, including tests of 11 APS-C DSLRs. Issue 44 is on sale now. Issues 42 and 43 are available to back order from http://bit.ly/ apissues. Issue 8 | Photography News


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Kit reviews

Mini tests

Our new, regular look at some of latest photographic kit to land on the dealers’ shelves Words by Will Cheung

SPECS PRICE £899 CONTACT www.fujifilm.co.uk CONSTRUCTION 11 elements in 8 groups. 1 aspherical and 2 low dispersion elements FILTER SIZE 62mm MINIMUM APERTURE f/16 MINIMUM FOCUS 0.7m DIMENSIONS (DXL) 73.2x69.7mm WEIGHT 405g

SPECS PRICE £399

Fujifilm XF56mm f/1.2 R The Fujifilm X-series has had quite an impact and many experienced shooters have invested in one. The X-series cameras’ innovative sensors are obviously a big reason for this, but so too are the system’s fixed focal length fast aperture lenses. One launched earlier this year was the 56mm f/1.2. With the format’s crop factor, this focal length is equivalent to 85mm in the 35mm format so it’s ideally suited to people photography. Having a wide aperture, of course, is pointless unless it’s usable. It needs to be acceptably sharp wide open and get even sharper by f/4 or f/5.6. Well, the Fujifilm 56mm f/1.2 does not disappoint. It’s impressively sharp wide open and while stopping down does improve quality, the benefit is not that great because the bar is already high. I’d be happy to shoot wide open, but if I wanted top quality still with minimal depth-of-field, I’d use f/2. I tried the lens on a Fujifilm X-T1. The pair work well together, giving swift, quiet AF. If you prefer manual focus, the focus barrel is smooth and nicely weighted. The lens itself has a reassuring solidity and feels like it’s built to last, although it does lack weatherproofing – I used it in heavy rain with no ill effects though. The lens front is quite exposed so a protection filter is advised, as is using the bayonet-fit lens hood to avoid flare. The obvious downside of the hood is that it makes the combination look bulky.

CONTACT www.samsung.com/uk/ RESOLUTION 16.4 megapixels SENSOR 1/2.3in CMOS FORMAT JPEG in various sizes LENS 20-1200mm f/2.8-5.9, with OIS ISO 100-6400, plus Auto STORAGE SD, SDHC, SDXC

1200MM

MONITOR 3in FEATURES Subject modes, Wi-Fi connectivity with Photo Beam and Auto Share, long-life battery, HD video recording DIMENSIONS (WXHXD) 119x121.8x35.5mm WEIGHT 608g

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The verdict You can’t say that this lens is cheap at £899, but I still reckon it is extraordinarily good value. Yes, its fixed focal length does limit its flexibility and its 70cm minimum focus isn’t that close, but you do get a fabulous general purpose and portrait lens that is very sharp at every aperture. PROS Wide open performance, all-round image quality, AF fast, build quality

ABOVE Shot with a Fujifilm X-T1 with the 56mm f/1.2. The exposure was 1/250sec at f/1.2 and ISO 1600.

Samsung WB2200F 20MM

ABOVE The pulling power of the WB2200F’s 60x optical zoom is amazing, but the long end needs using with good technique.

£899

CONS No weatherproofing

£399

All-in-one or bridge cameras have been around for many years and while they have never threatened the dominance of interchangeable lens cameras, they do offer a powerful alternative that suits people who want great versatility in one lightweight package. The Samsung WB2200F has a great many convenient and creative features, but the headline must surely be its 60x optical zoom lens. In 35mm equivalent terms, it’s 20mm f/2.8 wide-angle at the short end and an incredible 1200mm f/5.9 at the telephoto end. That sounds amazing and it is impressive as you zoom from the wide to the telephoto end to pull in distant detail. The integral OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) system helps make the most of the lens and it’s certainly needed at the zoom’s long end. The WB2200F is much more than just a wideranging zoom. It’s rich with features: multi-zone AF system, versatile exposure system, creative filters such as Miniature, Smart modes including Silhouette and Rich Tone, and Wi-Fi connectivity. The AF system is smooth and pretty responsive, but at the longer focal lengths, it needs contrast to latch onto and it can be hesitant in low light levels. Image quality is generally good, especially at the lower ISO settings, but it’s limited to JPEGs only. There is no Raw option.

The verdict You can’t appreciate the power of a 60x optical zoom until you see it in front of your eyes. The pulling power of the WB2200F’s lens is awesome. Of course, it’s not perfect and AF does struggle at the longer telephoto settings so you have to be patient but it does get there. Overall, this is a capable bridge camera with plenty of features to explore and it’s portable too. PROS Handgrip, remarkable lens coverage, handling CONS AF hesitant at longer focal lengths, EVF design, no auto monitor/EVF switchover, no Raw

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Kit reviews SPECS PRICE £99 100x100mm £68 75x90mm

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Lee Filters Little Stopper 1/10SEC AT F/22

£99

6SECS AT F/22

CONTACT www.leefilters.com AVAILABILITY 100x100mm, 75x90mm for Seven5 system FILTER Neutral density MATERIALS Glass, with foam gasket to prevent light seepage RECOMMENDED WHITE-BALANCE SETTING 7000-8000K

SPECS PRICE 055CXPRO4 four section £419 055CXPRO3 three section £394 CONTACT www.manfrotto.co.uk CONSTRUCTION Carbon fibre LEG SECTIONS Three or four LEG LOCKS Quick Power Locks MAXIMUM LOAD 9kg MAXIMUM HEIGHT (centre column fully extended) 183cm with X-PRO head MAXIMUM HEIGHT (centre column down) 153cm with X-PRO head MINIMUM HEIGHT 11.5cm with X-PRO head FOLDED LENGTH with X-PRO head 68cm WEIGHT 1.7kg

The Little Stopper is the Big Stopper’s new little brother. Rather than a 1000x or 10 f/stop filter factor, it’s a mere 64x or six stops, so perfect for those occasions when light levels are low or you want a little blur. It’s available for the 100mm Lee system and the smaller Seven5 system; in stores at £99 and £68 respectively. Made from glass to avoid the infrared pollution problems of optical resin filters, the Little Stopper has a foam gasket to prevent light leakage when the filter is slipped into the holder. Accurate positioning and using the filter slot closest to the lens are both important to avoid any light leaks. The filter comes in a classy metal container together with instructions and an exposure guide chart. There’s also a note saying that the Little Stopper’s exposure factor can vary so you should test its actual factor before use. Its white-balance setting needs testing too, as the Little Stopper (like the Big Stopper and every extreme ND) is not neutral. Lee suggests testing a range from

7000 to 8000K – or try a custom white-balance, shooting something neutral through the filter. Using a Nikon D4s I shot at every Kelvin value from 4350K to 10,000K, the value suggested for the Big Stopper. My test images were blue or cool until I got to 5880K and these were acceptably neutral. I used 6670K most of the time and when I wanted a touch of warmth I went to 7140K. Regarding exposure, I used a Gossen Digisky handheld meter and I found my Little Stopper was absorbing an extra 0.3EV, so a little extra exposure would be needed in practice. One thing about using the Little Stopper is that in decent light you can accurately compose and focus through the filter – you certainly can’t do that with the Big Stopper. That said, it’s still best to compose and focus prior to fitting the filter, especially in low light. Optically, the Little Stopper had no obvious impact on image quality and flare wasn’t an issue either unless the sun was shining directly onto the filter.

The verdict The Little Stopper is a quality product and gives Lee Filters devotees an extra dimension to their long exposure photography. Plus it means you can get a serious amount of subject blur when the light levels are low. PROS Only slightly cool, easy to use, optical quality CONS Glass, so don’t drop it

Manfrotto 055CXPRO4 £419 Manfrotto’s 055 family has been through several incarnations; now it’s been revamped again and I’ve been enjoying the company of the latest carbon fibre 055CXPRO4. With a street price of £419, it’s potentially very good value too. I partnered it with Manfrotto’s X-PRO head at £115. This four-section carbon version weighs in at 1.7kg so add a head, and you have a solid piece of kit but it remains perfectly portable, although a bag or a tripod-carrying strap is a good idea. To give the Manfrotto a stern test, I used a Nikon D4s fitted with a 70-200mm f/2.8 at 200mm. I tried using this combination with the centre column at its maximum extension (not advised, I know) at a range of shutter speeds using a cable release to fire the shutter. In a brisk breeze, shooting at slow shutter speeds proved not to be an issue Setting the tripod up is quick. The Quick Power Locks are newly developed lever locks and the design is such that it is possible to undo two or more locks in one go. To be honest, with my hands it’s more practical doing two; while three is possible, it isn’t very comfortable. Anyway, undoing one lock at a time is just as quick and because you can use forefinger and thumb at the same time, there’s little effort needed. Locking the legs in position is positive and they lock securely in position with a reassuring click. The legs can be splayed for greater stability or a lower camera position. Just sliding the big silver catch down lets you set each leg at three more angles – the third position is the legs straight out at 90° to the centre column.

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The verdict

Clearly to use the tripod with its legs doing the splits means you have to adjust the centre column too and the Q90 mechanism lets you very quickly set the column horizontally without dismantling anything. All you do is extend the column to its maximum while pushing the red button at its base and the whole column/head assembly can be set at 90° and locked into position. It’s neat, works smoothly, is fast to use and the extra versatility is brilliant.

Manfrotto’s 055 tripod family is a classic and the latest generation certainly lives up to its long-established reputation of offering excellent stability, tremendous flexibility and first-rate build quality. Of course, it comes at a price, but if you value and appreciate good kit and, more importantly, what it can do for your photography, this tripod is definitely worth checking out. PROS Stability, versatility, carbon fibre, the head’s retracting handles, leg locks CONS The leg locks can nip hands, so take care

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Technique 100 K

PHOTO SCHOOL

Camera class

1000K 200 K

Candlelight

300 K

2000K Sunrise/ sunset

Everyone has to start somewhere, even top pros, and in our regular Photo School feature we’re taking a close look at core techniques that every beginner needs to know. This month, in Camera class we look at the importance of controlling white-balance, while in Software Skills we see how to do this post-capture

9000K Blue sky 10,000K 1000 K

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8000K

900 K

BEFORE As shot, with no WB adjustment.

Words by Will Cheung

Shoot Raw files and you have all the information you need to adjust the image’s white-balance (WB) all you like during processing. This is not possible with JPEGs. Enjoying this freedom in Adobe Lightroom is easy and it means if you prefer you can shoot with the camera in auto white-balance mode (or a preset) knowing you can fine-tune images later in software. Take this image shot under a bridge lit with tungsten lighting as an example. The tungsten lit areas have come out orange as you’d expect but this is readily resolved. Actually, because the image features a mix of tungsten lighting and daylight, correcting for the tungsten makes the areas lit by

The influence of white-balance

Colour temperatures too low (left) or high (right) give blue or yellow casts. The centre is neutral.

NEXT MONTH: Take control of white-balance incamera, and adjust white-balance selectively in Lightroom

STEP 1 At the top of the Basic section in the Develop module click on As Shot and you have various preset options including Tungsten which is a quick fix for this image.

Software skills

Shoot Raw to adjust colour casts. Part 8: Fixing white-balance

7000K

800 K

ADOBE LIGHTROOM

6000K Overcast daylight

Shade

n How does this affect my pictures? The human brain is an amazing thing, and adapts in almost any lighting so that we see colours correctly. Even under street lights, for example, you can identify a white car, even though the light actually makes it look yellow. Cameras need help to adapt like this, and if the white-balance setting isn’t correct in this situation, the white car is recorded as yellow. You need to change the white-balance setting to put this right. n How do I use white-balance? With the latest cameras, using the auto white-balance system deals well with most lighting situations, but

5000K Noon sun Flash

700 K

n What is colour temperature? In its simplest terms, the colour temperature of a light source refers to how blue or yellow its light is. This is measured according to a standard scale with a scientific basis – skipping over the ins and outs, the only consequence of this you need to know in practice is that colour temperature is measured in kelvin (K), a scientific unit of temperature. Somewhat counterintuitively, yellow or orange light sources have the

this can trip up. The failsafe is to shoot Raw – this records unprocessed image data, so you can adjust white-balance after capture in software such as Adobe Lightroom – see how in Software Skills below. But getting it right in-camera means your preview is accurate, and saves time in post-processing. We’ll look at how you can do this in the next issue.

600 K

n What is white-balance? The white-balance setting compensates for colour casts created by different light sources. Setting it correctly ensures that neutral colours such as grey and white are reproduced as neutral, and all other colours appear accurate. It’s necessary because different light sources have different colour temperatures.

n What about other colours? Natural light varies along the blue-yellow colour temperature scale – consider how daylight varies through the day: blue at dawn, neutral at midday, and orange as the afternoon sun sinks. But artificial lights, particularly fluorescent ones, don’t mimic daylight accurately, and can introduce green or magenta casts – white-balance systems compensate for this too.

4000K Fluorescent 500 K

Amongst matters of exposure and composition, it’s easy to overlook colour accuracy. But ignore this, and your images suffer – off-colour images look wrong, can seem flat, and an unintentional colour cast can add an unwanted atmosphere. Getting this right means paying attention to white-balance – here, we look at what this is and how it affects your pictures.

400 K

Words by Ian Fyfe

lowest colour temperatures at around 1000-3000K, while the bluest light has the highest temperatures of up to about 10,000K. Neutral light, such as daylight, sits in the middle of the scale, at 5000-6000K (see the scale on the right).

3000K Tungsten

AFTER WB adjusted for a more neutral image.

daylight blue, so it is a matter of getting a result you are happy with. Processing in Raw is non-destructive so if you’re not happy with your result use the History to go back to a previous state – or back to the original image.

STEP 2 Or use the dropper tool. Click on the icon then move over to the preview image and click on the area you want to be neutral. The software does the rest. You might find your first attempt is not quite right, so try again.

STEP 3 Whichever you try, to finetune the result, move the Temp slider to adjust colour balance – indeed, you can go straight to this method. With this image, the slider to the right makes it more orange, to the left blue and more neutral. Adjust the slider while keeping an eye on the preview image and stop when it looks right. www.photography-news.co.uk


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Prize wordsearch

Win Samsung memory cards Below is a list of 20 words, but only 19 appear in the grid. To be in with a chance of winning, simply complete the puzzle, identify which word is missing, and email us at puzzle@photography-news.co.uk with this word in the subject line. The winner will be picked at random from all the correct entries received before the closing date of 15 June 2014. Win Samsung 64GB Pro SDXC memory cards! The first two correct entries picked at random out of the hat will each receive a Samsung 64GB Pro SDXC card. Samsung’s SDXC cards provide ultimate levels of durability and are waterproof, shockproof, resistant to magnetic fields, X-rays and extreme temperatures. All Samsung Pro SD cards come with a ten-year warranty. To find out more, go to www.samsung.com. E

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