t he worl dâ€™s bes t-sel l ing digi tal photo mag a z ine 21-27 AUgu s t
i s s ue 10 0
l o ne w ok !
inspir at ion ide a s in-dep th re v iews
bes t-ever photo t ips!
replace a bland sky fast in photoshop!
get your shots sharp from front to back
discover which is the best budget camera
by João Freire
http://500px.com/jcprcf2 Seascapes don’t come much more serene and restful than this. We especially like the way the subtle, dusky blues of the water and clouds complement the vivid oranges of the sunset. TAKEN WITH: Canon 5D Mark II with 16-35mm f/2.8 at 17mm Exposure: 30 secs at f/11, ISO100
TO V IEW THE V IDEO h t t p : // t i n y. c c / z i f u k x
I t’s our Birthday! elcome to the 100th issue of Photography Week – and an especially warm welcome to our new readers, and any of you reading this on an Android device. It’s been a long time in the planning, but we’re thrilled that the magazine is now available on any device – which of course will enable us to share our love of photography with a whole new legion of readers.
If you’re already a reader, you’ll notice we’ve made a few changes: as well as being cleaner, lighter and easier to navigate, PW is now much faster to download, and takes up much less space on your device, We hope you love it, but do let us know what you think by joining us online using the links below. See you next week! paul grogan, editor
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CONTENTS Find out what’s inside this special issue F E AT U R E
F E AT U R E
100 TOP TIPS
The techniques that every photographer should know PHOTOS
The very best images from around the world I N S P I R AT I O N
It’s cool, that...
The North Korea hyperlapse with 3 million views on Vimeo OPINION
Can a monkey own copyright? You tell us what you think... SKILLS
I N s p iration SKILLS
Maximise sharpness and depth of field in your landscapes PHOTOSHOP
Replace a bland sky in minutes with our quick video tutorial
take five We take an in-depth look at five of the best entry-level SLRs and CSCs
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Best-ever photo tips To celebrate this milestone issue of Photography Week, we share our 100 top tips for planning, camera settings, technique and composition
o mark this very special 100th issue of Photography Week, we’ve come up with the top 100 essential tips and techniques to help you get better images. You’ll find all you need to know here, from the basics of setting up your camera and planning your shoot, to how to achieve well-exposed and sharp shots with the minimum of fuss. You’ll learn the best autofocus modes to use, and when to use them; how to check your exposures and how to get the colours right in-camera; and how you can use the power of your software to help
polish the results even more. There are also loads of tips on composition, lighting and creativity, so once you’ve nailed the technicalities, but may be struggling for inspiration or simply want to improve your shots, you’ll find the answers right here. Whether you’re taking your first steps with your camera, or a more experienced shooter (and no matter what subject you want to shoot) there are tips and techniques here for everyone. All you need to do is use the right one next time you are out shooting, and you’ll come back with your best shots ever.
Noise reduction 09 Setting this to On will help reduce noise for exposures of several seconds or more. Be aware that this takes time though, so you will have to wait a little while between exposures.
your camera 10 IfReset you’ve been using extreme settings such as high ISOs, or exposure compensation, always remember to return the settings to normal when you finish shooting.
11 Format your cards
Date and time 01 Make sure that your camera’s date and time are set, as they can help you find your images more easily later on.
100 bes t-e ver photo t ip s
C AMER A SET-UP AND PL ANNING Copyright 02 Most cameras allow you to save
your name in the copyright metadata, so you can keep track of your images.
File naming 03 Change the file naming to something more personal, such as your initials, to make it easier to keep track of shots.
Select whether images shot with the camera upright are rotated when you review them on the rear LCD, and when you come to review them on your Mac or PC later on.
Make your shooting less intrusive by turning off the focus confirmation and timer beeps in the set-up menu.
Best-ever photo tips
File format 06 For the best quality images you need to use raw files, but these can take longer to write and need processing. For easier and quicker sharing, choose the highest-quality JPEG mode.
space 07 IfColour you’re shooting JPEGs, you’ll achieve considerably better results if you set the colour space to sRGB for images that are going to be viewed on-screen or on the web. Adobe RGB is better for prints and image editing.
Auto distortion 08 Basic kit lenses can often produce slightly curved results, especially at the wide-angle setting and at the edges of the image. Set the automatic distortion or lens correction to On to give better results.
Get in the habit of formatting the cards in your camera as soon as you have transferred photos off them, to ensure that they are ready for the next time you want to use them, and so that you can be sure you’ve downloaded them in the first place!
Clean your sensor 12 Save yourself hours removing dust spots from individual images by cleaning the sensor on your camera as soon as you notice a significant number of dust spots on your images. To check, take a test shot of, say, a clean sheet of white paper or a clear blue sky.
lenses 13 Clean and filters
If you’ve been shooting outside, always remember to clean your lenses and filters as soon as possible when you get back, rather than leaving them until you next use your camera.
out your 14 Clean camera bag
Check that your camera bag is free from dust or dirt by cleaning the inside at least every few months. It will prevent dirt getting into your camera or lenses.
a bin bag 15 APack large bag such as a bin bag can act as an impromptu rain cover or a ground cover – or even keep you dry when you’re caught out by a rain shower.
100 bes t-e ver phot o t ip s
a cloth 16 AInclude microfibre cloth is handy for cleaning the outside of your camera when on location, before you put it in your bag.
Take a torch 17 From finding your way after dark, to painting your subject with light, it’s always worth carrying a torch on location.
Don’t always take every bit of kit with you. It’s amazing how liberating it can be to just take a camera and one lens.
Set a goal 19 Whenever you go out with your camera, set yourself a goal or have a type of image in mind that you want to shoot.
your 20 Do research
Whether you’re photographing landscapes or outdoor portraits, the position of the sun is crucial, so check where it’s going to be using a sun position website or a smartphone or tablet app such as the Photographer’s Ephemeris (www. photoephemeris.com). Otherwise you could turn up at the perfect location, only to find the sun is behind a mountain or building, or shining in completely the wrong direction.
Check a map 21 It’s always worth checking a detailed map, online satellite map or street view of any location where you are planning to shoot. Doing this before you set off means you don’t waste time trying to find the right spot or route to your location, which means more time for shooting.
Mark the spot 22 Shoot signs or information boards while you’re on location: they can be invaluable for helping you remember where and what you have shot and for providing visual ‘bookmarks’. If you use a camera phone with GPS, you can also use the location data in the mapping feature of Lightroom 5.
EXPOSURE & SETTINGS Program 23 Use Shift mode
When you’re in Program mode, you can use the input dial to shift the aperture and shutter speed. Doing this will give you basic creative control over the depth of field and motion blur, without having to change exposure modes.
light 24 Shooting backgrounds
If the background is much brighter than the subject, your camera will tend to underexpose the shot. To combat this, you will need to set the exposure compensation to +1 or +2 to brighten up the main subject.
dark 25 Shooting backgrounds
If you are shooting a subject with a dark background, the result will often be over-exposed. To prevent this, you should set your exposure compensation to -1 or -2 to darken the subject.
26 Shutter Priority mode
Controlling the shutter speed allows you to freeze or blur moving subjects, so experiment with using a fast shutter
31 Aperture Priority mode
Aperture Priority is one of the most useful exposure modes: it enables you to control the depth of field in your images, as well as the exposure. Try setting a wide aperture such as f/4 to blur the background and foreground of your shots, or using a small aperture, such as f/16, to keep more of the subject sharp from front to back (see Crash Course).
Best-ever photo tips
speed such as 1/1,000 sec to freeze movement, or a slower one, such as 1/15 sec, to create some blur.
Watch your display 27 When using Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority mode, make sure that the camera is able to set a suitable shutter speed or aperture. If the display is flashing or showing Hi/Lo, you will need to change your ISO setting.
Use exposure lock 28 By filling the frame with your main subject and using the AE-L button to lock the exposure before re-framing your shot, you can often get better exposures when there’s a bright or dark background.
29 Understand the histogram
Watch out for gaps showing to the far left or right of the histogram, as these indicate over- or underexposure.
Use RGB histograms 30 Using the separate colour histograms will give you even more information about the exposure of your shots.
Turn on highlight 32 warning
Setting the image review display to flash a warning for over-exposed highlights is a quick way to check exposure.
Don’t rely on 33 the histogram for raw IMAGES
The histogram is generated from the JPEG, which is processed in camera. There’s much more information in a raw file.
to 34 Expose the right
To get the best-quality results with the least noise, try to use an exposure giving a histogram that just reaches the right-hand edge of the graph. But make sure that you don’t go too far – you don’t want to over-expose the highlights.
high-key 35 IfShoot your whole subject contains mainly light tones, you will need to increase the exposure to get a well-exposed result. Try setting the exposure compensation to +2 in order to get a high-key result.
100 bes t-e ver photo t ip s
FOCUSING & SHARPNESS
Best-ever photo tips
the 38 Adjust viewfinder
Many cameras have the facility to adjust the viewfinder sharpness using a feature called diopter adjustment. Adjust this to ensure you can see the readout and focus screen in the viewfinder as clearly as possible.
39 Fine-tune autofocus
Even though you may not notice it on every shot, not every lens focuses accurately. For critical focusing, you should adjust the focus for individual lenses using AF fine-tune in the set-up menu. It’s also a good idea to download any available lens firmware to ensure it’s working as well as it possibly can.
Live View focusing is especially useful when shooting macro images
Use Live View 40 Rather than using the viewfinder and autofocus, try using the Live View screen and Manual for static subjects. Zoom in on the area that you want to be sharp, and carefully adjust the focusing.
Shoot low-key 36 Low-key images mostly contain dark tones, but to correctly expose this type of subject you need to reduce the exposure. To get a really dark low-key image, set the exposure compensation to -2.
USe Bulb mode 37 For exposures longer than 30 seconds at night, try using the Bulb exposure mode, which enables you to keep the shutter open for as long as you hold down the shutter release (this is sometimes accessed using Shutter Priority mode). You’ll need to use a tripod and remote release for sharp results, and it also helps if your remote release features a lockable shutter button, so that you don’t have to keep your finger pressed on it throughout very long exposures.
Select the AF point 41 Rather than relying on the camera to choose the AF point automatically, set your camera to single-point AF mode, then move the active point so that it’s over the area that you want to be sharp – especially useful when the subject is off-centre.
hyperfocal 49 Try focusing
To keep the whole scene sharp while using a wide-angle lens, you need to focus around one third of the way into the scene and set an aperture of f/16 (see this week’s Crash Course).
Sharpen using 50 depth of field
Using a wide aperture to blur the background can actually make your subject appear sharper than when the whole scene is sharp.
Use a tripod 51 Using a tripod to mount your camera is the best way to ensure you achieve sharp results, especially when you’re using long shutter speeds.
mirror 52 Set lock-up
The movement of the mirror can shake the camera on a tripod, so use mirror lock-up mode if your camera has it.
off 53 Turn stabilisation
Follow the action 42 Try to continue following moving subjects for as long as possible after you have taken a shot. It will make your panning action smoother.
Use focus lock 43 When your subject is static, and it’s in a position where you can’t use an off-centre focus point, position the subject in the middle and use the centre focus point, then lock the focus, and re-frame your shot.
Set the right AF mode
Always make sure that you use single servo for static subjects and continuous servo for moving ones.
your 45 Practise panning
Keeping your subject in the same position in the frame will help you get better panning shots and sharper action shots.
46 Pre-focus on a point
If you are able to predict where the subject is going to be, pre-focusing on that spot and then firing off a short burst is a great way to make sure you get sharp action shots.
Use the central AF point
The outer AF points can struggle to focus in low light, especially when you’re using telephoto lenses, so use the central point in low light.
AF 48 Use point groups
When shooting moving subjects, try using the AF point group option for more successful focusing.
When using a tripod, you need to make sure that you turn off any stabilisation systems, as they can actually produce softer images.
on 54 Put some weight
In windy conditions, you can help stabilise your tripod by hanging your camera bag, or similar, off the centre column.
the wind 55 IfWatch you’re shooting closeups or macro shots in windy conditions, use your camera bag to shield the subject.
the 56 Avoid minimum aperture
Although it’s tempting to think that smaller apertures will always produce sharper results, this isn’t necessarily the case. Lenses produce softer results at apertures such as f/22 than at f/8 or f/11, so you should avoid using very small apertures unless you absolutely have to.
100 bes t-e ver photo t ip s
L IGHTING & COLOUR
Use auto ISO 61 Many cameras allow you to limit It’s essential to get the eyes pin-sharp when shooting portraits. See tip 59
If you need to use a slow shutter speed, particularly when using long telephoto lenses, and you don’t have a tripod, try finding a fence, wall or tree to brace your camera or shoulders against. Also try kneeling or lying down to create a more stable shooting position.
the auto ISO range, so it’s a great way to get good results in a range of lighting conditions, without adding noise.
Use high ISOs
Most cameras will produce great results at ISO 1,600, but even a slightly noisy image is better than a blurred one.
high-ISO 63 Set noise reduction
High settings will reduce noise, but give
Best-ever photo tips
softer results, while low settings will make the images sharper, but noisier.
a custom 64 Set white balance
When shooting in mixed lighting, try shooting a white or grey subject, and use this to set a custom white balance.
the ‘wrong’ 65 Set white balance
You don’t have to aim for neutral colours. For example, try the daylight setting at sunset to get warmer colours.
Check your 58 shutter speed
Even using IS/VR, camera shake is still one of the most common reasons for blurred shots, so as a general rule of thumb, try to shoot at a shutter speed of 1/the focal length of the lens or faster for pin-sharp results – so, for example, 1/100 or 1/125 sec for a 100mm lens.
Focus on the eyes 59 Make sure that you focus accurately on the eyes of the subject when shooting portraits, as they are usually the most important feature. This is particularly critical if you are using wide apertures and shallow depth of field.
Make the most 60 of direct light
The well-defined shadows created by high-contrast light can make your shots look sharper than those taken in softer, low-contrast lighting, so make sure that you shoot in direct light if you want your shots to look pin-sharp.
Don’t ignore cloudy days 66 The sun doesn’t have to be shining for you to get great shots. Cloudy days are great for portraits, macro and even details in the landscape, such as waterfalls. So don’t wait for the sun: shoot more on cloudy days.
Shoot a silhouette 67 Instead of trying to keep detail in the foreground in your sunset shots, look for strong, recognisable shapes that will produce a striking silhouette. Set the exposure compensation to -1 for a stronger silhouette.
Shoot into 68 the light
Don’t always shoot with the sun behind you: shooting into the light can produce more interesting images. Try to position the sun behind your subject, or an object such as a tree or building, to help minimise flare.
Seek out shade 69 The heavy shadows that are created by direct sunlight, especially during the middle of the day, aren’t flattering for most portraits, so look for a shady spot to produce softer, more pleasant lighting for your portrait shots.
Soften sunlight 70 Direct sunlight can produce some ugly shadows, especially for portraits and close-ups of flowers and plants. Try placing a diffuser between the light and the subject in order to soften the shadows.
black 71 Try and white
The harsh light and strong shadows during the middle of a sunny day can be perfect for producing strong, high-contrast black-and-white images.
Shoot at twilight 72 The soft light just after sunset or before sunrise can produce striking landscape shots. It’s also a great time of day to shoot street scenes and cityscapes, as the sky will have some colour, instead of being pitch-black – though this may not always be visible to the eye.
Try using fill-in flash
Shooting in bright sunlight can produce shadows on your subject, so use your built-in flash to lighten these shadows.
Use a reflector 74 Using a white or silver reflector can help to lighten shadows by bouncing light back into the darkest areas of the subject. You can buy a folding reflector – look at the Lastolite range – or make your own from white card or silver foil.
using 75 Try slow-sync flash
Shoot moving subjects using a slow shutter speed and a burst of flash for some dramatic action shots (right), a technique that is especially effective when shooting in low light.
your own 78 Make flash diffuser
You don’t have to buy expensive flash diffusers when shooting indoors. A piece of white cloth or thin paper held between the flash and the subject can often work just as well.
the 76 Bounce flash off a wall
If your flash has a tilt/bounce facility, experiment by directing the flash off a wall or ceiling to soften the light.
flash exposure 77 Use compensation
Like any automatic exposure, using your flash on auto won’t always give the right exposure. Try using -1 or -2 flash exposure compensation to reduce the flash exposure or a + value to increase it.
A burst of flash can help to add impact to panning shots taken in low light. See tip 75
100 bes t-e ver photo t ip s
COMPOSITION & CRE ATIVITY Keep it simple 79 The most successful compositions are often about what you leave out, so check around the viewfinder for any elements that don’t add to the composition.
a focal point 80 AFind lack of a focal point is a common problem with landscapes and cityscapes, so look for a subject that draws your attention, then base the framing around it.
Best-ever photo tips
Look for symmetry 81 Although it goes against many of the rules of composition, symmetrical compositions can give your images a serene, calming appearance. If the subject has an obvious symmetry, make the most of it.
Shoot odd numbers
Odd numbers of objects tend to result in a more balanced composition than even numbers, so if at all possible, try to be odd!.
Try placing your subject on a ‘third’ and framing it with foreground detail (tip 85)
Keep buildings 84 upright
You need to make sure that you keep the back of the camera upright when shooting architecture (or any subject with obvious vertical lines) to prevent the subject from looking like it’s leaning backwards.
Make use of 85 natural frames
Make the most of any objects that can be used around the edges of the image to help focus attention on the main subject.
two 86 Combine or more rules
You’ll often be able to create more interesting compositions and add depth to your shots by using two or more of the composition rules together, rather than using just one in isolation. For example, you could have a go at positioning the main subject using the rule of thirds, then go on to look for leading lines, foreground interest or natural frames to use as well.
Break the rules 87 The rules of composition
Look for reflections 83 Reflections in glass or water can add interest and symmetry to many subjects, but also try shooting colourful, interesting-shaped reflections in isolation for more surreal, abstract results.
are great for many subjects and images, but using them all of the time can be somewhat restricting. It’s always worth trying out something different, such as placing the horizon at the very top or bottom of the frame.
Move closer 88 Often the simplest way to improve the impact of a shot is to move in closer or use a longer lens to make the subject larger in the frame. This will help to eliminate dead space, and add intimacy to the image,
For abstract images, set a slow shutter speed and move the camera (tip 98)
the techniques that you know will work. Simply trying something new can help give your creativity a kick-start. Don’t worry if you don’t get good results right away: some techniques just take a little more practice than others.
blur 98 Use creatively
Angle your camera for impact 89 Shooting at an angle can make your shots look more dynamic than keeping the camera level.
Try a high viewpoint 90 Get above the confines of the cramped and busy streets by looking for a high viewpoint for your cityscapes.
Try a low viewpoint 91 Get an insect’s eye view by shooting from ground level, for a fresh perspective on familiar subjects.
Shoot upwards for abstracts
Simply point your camera straight upwards in city streets, woods or inside buildings.
Telephoto 93 Try for landscapes
Shooting distant details with a telephoto lens is perfect for emphasising aerial perspective and atmosphere.
Wide-angle 94 for portraits
Fitting a wide-angle lens for portraits will allow you to include more of the background in your shots.
Shoot a triptych 95 Instead of shooting several images individually, try to find three subjects that will work well as a group, then combine them in a single canvas.
Try a panoramic 96 The long, thin panoramic format can add impact to your landscapes, but you don’t need to stitch images together; high-resolution images can simply be cropped.
Try a new technique 97 Don’t get stuck in a rut, only using
Not every shot has to be completely sharp, so why not try using blur to add a sense of movement to your images? For more abstract results, try using a long shutter speed and moving the camera as you shoot to produce striking images.
yourself 99 aSetproject
For those times when you are struggling for photographic inspiration, try to think of a project or theme to shoot, such as documenting your family, your local area, a club or an activity you are interested in. It will often help to give your photography more coherence, and help you push your creativity.
100 Shoot one
shot every day
Get yourself into the habit of spotting photo opportunities by trying to shoot at least one picture a day. It could be on your commute, or walking the dog: just make sure you take your camera (or cameraphone) with you to capture something.
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XPOSURE The week’s most inspiring reader photos
Darren Flynn This personalitypacked photo of a peacock tree frog is as engaging as it is vibrant. We especially like the composition, and the way the frog’s limbs lead the eye to its bulging eyes
The weekâ€™s most inspiring reader photos
Kenji Yamamura McWay Beach in California has to be one of the most photographed beaches in the world, but this image is truly a class apart
A simple rose
Ashley Markham Images of roses are ten-a-penny, but thereâ€™s a subtlety to the lighting in this shot that sets it apart. We love the tight crop, too...
The weekâ€™s most inspiring reader photos
Some Kind of Dream
Trevor J Chapman This study in blue has a simplicity and serenity that belies how much work must have gone into taking it
Flowers in HER HAIR
sarah ward Double exposures are tricky to get right, but Sarahâ€™s stunning portrait has been brilliantly executed
The weekâ€™s most inspiring reader photos
Shades of Grey
Chris Oliphant Shot on an Olympus Stylus 1, this lovely flower photo is a mono masterclass
Pawel Kucharski Taken by the the light of the moon, which is visible above the mountains, this image of a Fjord in Norway is a real winner
The week’s most inspiring reader photos
Garry Lomas Another characterpacked animal shot, this time of Garry’s cocker spaniel Bob in Snowdonia, UK
Mike Rives There’s just enough detail in this image to make it work, with the eye moving from the wings and the legs to the eyes and back again
The week’s most inspiring reader photos
michael espiner These 100ft-high sculptures in Falkirk, Scotland, are perfectly suited to black-andwhite, and the vapour trails leading the eye to the horse on the right are a nice touch
Photography Week wants your photos!
Taken a portrait you’re particularly proud of? Shot a sensational sunset you’d like to show off? Then join the Photography Week Facebook community and share your best photos today! You’ll get feedback from fellow readers and the Photography Week team, plus the chance to appear in Xposure, or even on our cover!
I T ’ S C O O L , T H AT The best thing we’ ve seen this week
Prepare to be amazed by the jaw-dropping hyper-lapse video of North Korea that’s chalked up over three million views on Vimeo – and counting... here are time-lapse videos, and then there are time-lapse videos – or in this case, ‘hyper-lapse’ videos (a hyper-lapse video, for those who don’t know, is a time-lapse that appears to have been shot with a smoothly-moving video camera). Enter Pyongyang has been co-created by branding pioneer
JT Singh and legendary time-lapse photographer Rob Whitworth. Blending time-lapse, slow motion and animation, the film attempts to get under the skin of North Korea’s capital like never before, and it succeeds beyond measure. Both from a photographic and a cultural point of view, it is nothing short of a masterpiece. JT, Rob, we salute you!
TO V IEW T HE V IDEO h t t p: // t iny.cc /z31ik x
viewpoint have your say on the issues that mat ter WE ASKED @ http://tiny.cc/ot5ikx
“Can a monkey own the copyright to an image, or does it belong to the photographer who set up the shot?” Here are your replies from Facebook... photo, but Wikimedia’s idea (more, I suppose, to get exposure than anything else) is like saying that any photo taken is the property of the camera’s manufacturer and not the photographer.
Wanda L Andras The rights belong to the camera owner.
Nadine Lianne Spires I don’t know what the monkey would do with the rights to the
Even if the monkey owned the copyright instead, it’s not like he licensed it to Wikimedia anyway. Either way they are in the wrong.
Melissa Keeney I think if it were a human that took the selfie, it would belong to that person, but since it’s an animal that doesn’t have the same rights or ‘person-ship’ as a human
then ownership should pass onto the human who owns the device the picture was taken with.
Paul Tickle Been watching this discussion for a week or so now – at last, some sensible comments. Some renowned photographers strap cameras to animals to create pictures – they are still theirs.
Henrik Holm Brask Well, in a studio (or even in the field) a photographer can have an assistant who actually fires the camera; it’s not the assistant but the photographer who owns the right in those cases, so it’s the same thing...
Karl Hodge The law clearly states that copyright resides with the *person* that creates the image (or other work). A monkey is not a person, so it cannot have rights conferred to it. The argument, then, is what happens to those rights? There could be an argument that they pass into the public domain.
Richard S Tadman The monkey has no legal capacity to contract nor make rational decisions on the use of the image. If I was [the photographer] David Slater I would argue that I was the monkey’s agent and play Wikimedia at their own game.
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To tie in with our round-up of the best entry-level SLRs and compact system cameras (see this issue’s Take Five), we were wondering:
WHat was your first EVER camera, and what did you lOVE/LOATHE AbOUT IT?
crash course ESSENTIAL PHOTO SKILLS MADE EASY
How to ge t your l andsc apes sharp How do you get nearby objects and distant horizons sharp at the same time? Rod Lawton explains the mysteries of depth of field Most photographers love landscape photography, as it min gives you a chance to get out into the countryside with your camera. But it can often be hard to get scenic shots that are as sharp as you want. It’s not just a matter of setting a small aperture and using a tripod, you need to take full control of depth of field… Depth of field is the range of sharp focus in front of and behind your main subject. With shallow depth of field, the background quickly goes out of focus. This is great for shooting
portraits, for example, where you want to concentrate attention on your subject. However, in landscape photography the whole scene is your subject, and you want as much depth of field as possible to make everything in the picture sharp, from the flowers and stones at your feet to a distant treeline on the horizon. A number of factors affect the depth of field. The focal length or zoom setting of your lens is one: a wide-angle setting will give more depth of field, while a telephoto setting will give less. The aperture is a factor too: wide apertures give shallow depth of
field, while narrow apertures give more depth of field. A lot depends on where you focus. If your subject is close to the camera, the depth of field will be quite shallow, but if it’s further away, the depth of field increases. Like a lot of photographic theory, it all starts to make more sense when you actually try it out. And there is a way to make depth of field much simpler when you’re shooting landscape photographs. It’s called the ‘hyperfocal distance’, and it’s explained in depth at the end of this tutorial.
Step by step: MASTER DEPTH OF FIELD
The effects of zooming If we shoot this scene with a standard kit lens at its widest focal length, there doesn’t appear to be a depth-of-field problem at all – everything is sharp. But if we zoom in to the lens’s maximum 55mm focal length, we can now see that only our subject is sharp.
Switch to ‘A’ mode We like this composition, and using a longer focal length is the only way to get it, so if we want more depth of field we need a smaller aperture. If you’re using P mode, the camera chooses the aperture and shutter speed, so to take control you need to switch to aperture priority mode.
Change the lens aperture Now turn the dial to choose the aperture setting. This is displayed either on the status LCD on the top or the main LCD on the back of the camera. We’ve set the aperture to f/16 here. You could set it smaller, but the picture quality starts to fall off due to ‘diffraction effects’.
See the difference At f/5.6, the widest aperture available at this zoom setting, both the background and the plants in the foreground are out of focus, but at f/16, much more of the scene comes out sharp. But we can extend depth of field even further by adjusting what we focus on…
TOP TIP Sky control
In order to get the lines of lavender to converge into the distance we had to shoot into the light. The sky was very bright and showed almost no detail. This is a very common problem in landscapes (see this week’s Photoshop section). The solution was to use a graduated filter. This darkens the sky without affecting the rest of the picture, and you can get them in different strengths to suit the conditions.
Step by step: MASTER DEPTH OF FIELD
Maximise the depth The trick is not to focus on either the foreground or the background. If you focus on the foreground, the background will go out of focus, and if you focus on a detail in the background, the foreground will be blurred. To make both come out sharp, you need to focus between them.
Choose your focus point There are two ways to do this. One is to leave the camera set to autofocus, but manually position the focus point. You may find it easier to switch to Live View and use the multi-selector to place the focus point where you want it – it should be a third of the way up the frame.
Set your lens For this you need a lens with a distance scale. Our 18-55mm kit lens didn’t, but most others do. Use your judgement if the markings are far apart – depth-offield calculations make it sound like a precise science, but the sharpness falls away slowly, so you don’t have to be too precise.
Check the figures Or you can switch to manual focus and use an app like Field Tools to work out the ‘hyperfocal distance’. This places distant objects at the far limit of depth of field, and so maximises depth of field. At a focal length of 55mm and aperture of f/16, our app says we need to focus at 9.5m…
TOP TIP Hyperfocal distance tables
To use these tables look up the aperture and focal length you are using for your type of camera. This will tell you the distance to focus at (the hyperfocal distance) to get as much of the foreground in focus as well as the horizon (infinity), and the depth of field range you’ll get. You can download a PDF copy of them from http://bit.ly/1oWsHqf, which you can print out at home or carry on your smartphone.
PH OTOS H O P LEARN ESSENTIAL EDITING SKILLS FAST!
T O V IEW T HE V IDEO h t t p : // t i n y. c c / 5l s p j x
repl ace a l acklus tre sk y Select and remove a boring sky and replace it with a more attractive one
Last week we demonstrated how to enhance a shot’s sky by gradually darkening the min tones and saturating the colours towards the top of the frame. That technique works well if there are lots of colours and tones to work with, but if your photograph’s sky is simply a mass of overcast clouds then it’ll be too bland to enhance using a graduated adjustment layer. If an object such as a tall tree overlaps the sky in the
top of the frame then the graduated adjustment layer will also darken it. A cloudy sky can add mood and drama to a shot if it has enough variety and texture. However, when shooting landscapes you may end up with blown-out skies that lack detail. If you shoot in raw then you may be able to claw back missing highlight detail, but with JPEGs you’ll be stuck with an over-exposed cloudy sky. Fortunately you can use Photoshop’s selection and
masking tools to replace a bland or over-exposed sky with something more textured and colourful. We’ll show you how to set up the Magic Wand tool to hunt out all sky pixels in a few clicks. When removing sky from a finely textured area such as our tree branches you run the risk of leaving fringes of the original sky clinging to the edge of twigs. We’ll show you how to modify the initial selection to lose these ugly fringes.
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ta k e FIVE 3
Best budge t c amer as What gives the best image quality for the least outlay? Matthew Richards puts the best affordable SLRs and CSCs through their paces to find out…
1 Canon EOS 1200D with 18-55mm lens, $549/£429 2 Fujifilm X-M1 with 16-50mm lens, $799/£429 3 Nikon D3300 with 18-55mm lens, $647/£499 4 Olympus PEN E-PM2 with 14-42mm lens, $329/£339 5 Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6 with 14-42mm lens, $648/£489 ot so long ago, buying a serious system camera meant buying an SLR (single-lens reflex) camera. Nowadays, though, this tried-and-trusted formula faces increasingly stiff competition from CSCs (compact system cameras). The most attractive facet of CSCs, especially those without built-in viewfinders, is that they’re so small. The omission of the mirror and viewfinder assembly enables a slimmer, shorter build, along with the possibility of considerable weight-saving.
One component you won’t find in any camera in this price sector is a full-frame image sensor, so called because it’s the same size as a 35mm film frame – i.e. 36x24mm. The most common sensor format is APS-C (Advanced Photo System - Classic), which boasts a physical size of about 23x15mm, and appears in most of the cameras we’ve put to the test here. Ultimately, the most important thing about any entry-level system camera is that it delivers great image quality and makes life easy for those just starting out, yet has sufficient functions and features to grow with you as you develop your skills and experience. Want to know which budget camera is best for you? Let’s take a closer look at what all the contenders have to offer…
Take five: Best budget cameras on test
C anon EOS 1200D w i t h 18-55mm l ens £429 / $549 minently popular as an SLR for beginners, the Canon EOS 1100D is over three years old. Its refresh comes in the shape of its direct replacement, the 1200D. Despite still being on the bottom rung of Canon’s SLR ladder, the new camera boasts significant improvements over the 1100D. The maximum pixel count for still images gets a boost from 12.2MP to 18MP, while the video format is upgraded from 720p to 1080p. The 1200D is also a cleverer camera than its predecessor. It adds an intelligent auto-shooting mode, based on analysis of any given scene. Creative filters are another addition, including options for ‘toy camera’ and fisheye. There’s even EOS Companion, an app you can add to your iOS or Android smartphone or
tablet for learning photographic tips and tricks. However, the Guide shooting mode that’s actually built into the Nikon D3300 is more useful – at least for those of us with only two hands. The 1200D retains the 1100D’s ageing Digic 4 image processor, whereas other recent Canon SLRs and even the EOS M CSC have newer Digic 5 or 5+ processors. At least the LCD screen is improved from a 2.7-inch, 230,000-dot screen to a 3.0-inch, 460,000-dot display. That said, it has the joint-lowest resolution in this group, matching the E-PM2 while failing to deliver that camera’s touchscreen. The nine-point AF system works well in most situations, but can struggle in dull lighting. The 3fps maximum drive rate is also slow, and we’d hoped for less noise when shooting at high ISOs.
Take five: Best budget cameras on test
Fujifilm X-M1 w i t h 16-50mm l enS £429 / $799 espite using the same-size APS-C image sensor as most SLRs, the X-M1 is much more compact. It’s only a little bigger and heavier than the Olympus E-PM2, the smallest and lightest camera on test. The 16-50mm lens is also reasonably diminutive, considering it doesn’t have the retracting design of the Nikon and Olympus kit lenses. It offers the widest viewing angle in the group, equivalent to a 24mm lens. As with the Olympus and Samsung cameras, a key downsizing element is the omission of a viewfinder, so you’re limited to composing shots on the rear display. The 3.0-inch screen’s 920,000-dot resolution helps here, as does a tilt mechanism. However, the screen is more reflective than those in competing CSCs. There’s also no touchscreen.
The X-M1 uses Fujifilm’s X-mount system, for which a growing number of quality lenses are available. The camera should be able to take full advantage of these thanks to its X-Trans image sensor design, which omits an optical low-pass filter. Even so, at 16.3MP, the pixel count is down on other APS-C cameras in the group. Build quality feels tough and solid, although handling suffers from the slimness of the finger grip. Controls are well thought out. Intelligent auto and basic modes are supplemented with advanced shooting modes. Wi-Fi is supported by a free iOS and Android app. The contrast-detection AF is sluggish but performs well, even in dull lighting conditions. Metering is accurate, too, though it tends to slightly under-expose high-contrast scenes.
Take five: Best budget cameras on test
Nikon D3300 w i t h 18-55mm l ens £499 / $647 ravel-friendly for a full-blown SLR, the D3300 isn’t massively bigger than the Panasonic Lumix G6: it’s just 2mm wider and 5mm deeper than the latter’s 122x85x71mm. The carrying size has also been minimised by the new 18-55mm VR II kit lens, which retracts when not in use. Beginner-friendly features include a newly enhanced Guide shooting mode, which serves as an interactive, illustrated guide to photography. A key enhancement over the previous D3200 is that the low-pass filter has been removed, theoretically enabling greater retention of fine detail in images. This has trickled down from more advanced cameras in Nikon’s current line-up, including the D7100 and D800E. Other shooting modes include the usual intelligent
auto, exposure and scene modes, plus a barrage of special effects. Build quality feels a cut above that of the 1200D, thanks to an innovative monocoque design in which the main body shell is fabricated as a single piece. As a result, the D3300 feels a little more solid, despite being 20g lighter. The 3.0-inch LCD has double the detail of the 1200D’s, at 921,000 pixels, although it lacks articulation or a touchscreen facility. The Nikon also beats the Canon for sensitivity, stretching a stop further in its standard and expanded ranges to ISO 12,800 and ISO 25,600 respectively. Autofocus is a little faster in the Nikon, and slightly more effective in low light. The Nikon also has two more AF points for a total count of 11.
Take five: Best budget cameras on test
Olympus PEN E-PM2 w i t h 14-42mm l ens £339 / $329 he E-PM2 looks more like a basic snap-shooter than a serious camera at first glance, thanks to its disarmingly simple design. It even lacks a mode dial, while buttons are kept to a minimum. However, advanced shooting modes and a wealth of effects modes are all present and correct. It’s just that you have to embark on a little more menu navigation than usual. Beginners will find the Live Guide a useful addition. We’re generally keen supporters of direct-access buttons for as many shooting parameters as possible. However, considering the small size of the E-PM2, there’s something to be said for reducing clutter. As a Micro Four Thirds camera, the E-PM2 has a range of lenses and other accessories available,
from both Olympus and other manufacturers. The 14-42mm kit lens supplied with the camera is tiny; it has a similar retractable design to the Nikon but is much smaller overall. Even though the E-PM2 packs 16.1MP into its small Micro Four Thirds sensor, sensitivities of up to ISO 25,600 are available. The standard ISO range in auto tops out at just ISO 1,600, but you can increase this in custom settings. Focusing on specific areas is aided by the touchscreen display, but the camera fails to take full advantage of touch facilities for menu selections. Here, there’s more reliance on the directional pad. Autofocus itself is surprisingly fast, rivalling the Canon and Nikon cameras in their preferred phase-detection modes, at least using kit lenses.
Take five: Best budget cameras on test
Panasonic Lumi x DMC-G6 w i t h 14-42mm l ens £489 / $648 hunkier than the other CSCs on test, the Panasonic G6 adds the luxury of a built-in viewfinder and flash. The 1.44MP OLED viewfinder is particularly good. Other aspects of handling also bring the G6 closer to an SLR than any of the other CSCs on test. There’s a full-sized hand grip that enables comfortable handheld shooting, along with a wellstocked mode dial and no fewer than seven customisable function buttons. Two of these are ‘virtual’ buttons, enabled by the touchscreen facility of the LCD. The LCD is also unique in this group for featuring full articulation, rather than being fixed or merely having a tilt option. There’s a wealth of advanced scene modes and artistic effects on the main mode dial, as
well as two custom settings to satisfy more advanced photographers. Like the Olympus Micro Four Thirds camera on test, the G6 has a 16.1MP image sensor, but this time the sensitivity range stretches from ISO 160-12,800, while equalling the latter’s maximum value of ISO 25,600 in expanded mode. Despite the camera’s sophistication in all other areas, including built-in WiFi, there’s a slight frustration for fans of long exposures. The maximum length of a Bulb exposure is just two minutes, compared with 30 for the Olympus. Metering is both accurate and consistent, while Autofocus is as speedy as in the Olympus E-PM2. Colour rendition is natural and lifelike, with image quality that’s just as impressive as the camera’s handling.
ta k e F I V E Best budget cameras on test
C anon EOS 1200D
£429 / $549
Fujif il m X-M1
£429 / $799
w i th 18-55mm lens ending off competition Unlike the other CSCs in the from increasingly group, it comes complete with sophisticated compact a built-in electronic viewfinder system cameras, Nikon’s D3300 – and a very good one at that. proves that SLRs are still hard to Its articulated touch-sensitive beat, both in terms of image OLED screen is similarly quality and handling. The impressive, beating that D3300’s 24.2MP sensor of the Nikon, and the captures extraordinary Panasonic also adds levels of fine detail, built-in Wi-Fi. Image helped by the quality is almost as omission of a good but drops off e xcell ence award low-pass filter. Its at high ISO settings. new-generation Expeed It’s actually beaten 4 processor also helps to in that respect by the deliver excellent image quality, Olympus E-PM2, which delivers even at very high ISO settings, sumptuous image quality from along with a fast 5fps burst rate. a relatively tiny, lightweight The Panasonic DMC-G6 is package. The Olympus is also also a tempting proposition. excellent value for money.
£499 / $647
Oly mpus PEN E-PM2
£339 / $329
Pana sonic L umi x DMC-G6
£4 89 / $64 8
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