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February 2011

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SnapShots

GearGuide

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Website Review www.presetsheaven.com

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Software Of The Month GeoSetter

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Look Who’s Shooting K H Mohan

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TEST

Sony Alpha 55 Is this the best budget camera for action?

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Nikon COOLPIX S80 Could this camera be just a touchscreen gimmick?

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NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4G Era of block lenses is back!

ON THE COVER

BetterPictures

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SHOOTING TECHNIQUE

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Metering Demystified Understand how to effectively use your camera’s light meter

And… Action! 10 of the best sports and action photographers tell you their shooting secrets

CAPTURING THE GEOMETRY OF WALLS • SONY ALPHA 55: INDIA'S FIRST REVIEW

0 ED IDE! 01 CLARE INS Y 2 S DE CAS PO ARD SHOW

W E E A ET TH MPL O AC

February 2011 • Rs. 100

www.betterphotography.in

Better Technique. Better Insight. Better Pictures

Learn how to use your camera's metering system A SPLIT SECOND TO FRAME

ACTION Ten top sports photographers discuss their shooting secrets

15 things that camera companies do not want you to know EXCLUSIVE TEST Nikon S80 Nikkor 35mm f/1.4 ON ASSIGNMENT

GREAT MASTERS

SPECIAL FEATURE

PROFILE

Living Proof: A documentary on the essence of memories

V V Krishnan narrates his favourite cricketing stories

Discovering the euphoria of kids going back to school

Pierre Poulain's philosophic musings on photography

Main cover_Feb 11 final.indd 1

PHOTOGRAPH: THOMAS STÖCKLI / RED BULL ILLUME DESIGN: PRAVEEN NAMBIAR

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1/20/2011 11:08:57 PM

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FEATURE

15 Myths Busted Clearing out the halftruths that companies make you believe!

1/21/2011 4:17:42 AM


InFocus

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126 ShowCase

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ON ASSIGNMENT

Where Walls Meet Capture geometry in your daily life

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PROFILE

Pierre Poulain On philosophy and photography

PhotoFinish

197 Beaver Photography 198 OntheBattlefield DIFFERENT STROKES

HISTORY

Presenting war photography through the ages

200 The Seige of Kut

STORY BEHIND THE PICTURE

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Living Proof A documentation of the essence of life and memories

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MY BEST SHOT

Suresh K K GREAT MASTERS

V V Krishnan Exploring the works of India’s greatest cricket photographer

126 The Joy of Going SPECIAL FEATURE

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TIPS & TRICKS

Shoot street lights, seascapes and doors…

to School Poignant images from Akanksha’s contest

A ROUND-UP OF CES 2011 Significant launches and releases at one of the world’s biggest electronic trade shows - Page No. 28

CALL FOR ENTRIES FOR WPOY 2010 The second edition of India’s biggest wedding photography awards - Page No. 34

POY 2010 - A SHOWCASE Stunning images that made it to the top - Page No. 102

Regulars FEEDBACK ............................................................12 PHOTOCRITIQUE .................................................. 78 Q & A .................................................................. 86 1000 WORDS ....................................................... 124 YOUR PICTURES ..................................................130 BP BUYER’S GUIDE ..............................................182

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1/21/2011 4:19:26 AM


W H AT ’ S N E W

Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 Nik Software has announced the second version of its Silver Efex Pro black and white conversion plugin for Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture. The upgrade includes a history palette and improved controls for adjusting detail, contrast and tonality. New features include Dynamic Brightness, Amplify Blacks, Amplify Whites, Soft Contrast, Fine Structure and so on. It is currently available for pre-order, and a 15-day trial version of the plug-in will be available soon. For more details, log on to www.niksoftware.com/silverefexpro.

Santiniketan Teacher Wins Nikon-BP Photographer of the Year 2010

Zacuto Z-Cage

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DSLR accessories manufacturer Zacuto has introduced a lightweight mounting solution that helps shoot video with DSLRs. The Z-Cage has a quick release mounting base for the camera and two vertical handles for shooting with varied positions. It also has additional space to mount accessories like an HD monitor and an audio recorder. The Z-Cage costs USD 827 (approx. Rs 37,500) and is available at www.store.zacuto.com

Slik DAIWA Tripods Slik has announced two new DAIWA tripods, primarily targeted at videographers and users of video DSLRs. The DST-73 has a professional true-fluid pan head with a 75mm ball mount. The tripod can use up to 7kg equipment. It has an allmetal head and also has an illuminated bubble level that makes it easy to set up the tripod in dark areas. In addition to this, the company has also introduced a smaller tripod, the DST-43. This tripod has a 60mm ball mount and mount equipment up to 4kg. All its other features are similar to those of the DST-73.

Raj Lalwani

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he journey that started with close to 60,000 entries, eight stunning themes, an elimination round done by the best in the photographic industry and a final faceoff in Singapore, culminated into a grand event on 6 January 2011. Nikon India MD, Hiroshi Takashina and the Editor of Better Photography, K Madhavan Pillai announced Arpan Mukherjee as the Nikon-Better Photography Photographer of the Year 2010, at Vatika Lawns, Pragati Maidan, amidst much cheer. He won a Nikon D300s and was also awarded the prestigious title of the Evangelist Photographer for the Singapore Tourism Board for a period of one year.

Mukherjee, a teacher at Santiniketan, West Bengal, is also the theme winner of Photo Essay—A Place Called Home. He won the contest after competing with seven other theme winners, in a face-off that took place in Singapore. As a part of the Singapore face-off, the eight theme winners shot on the themes Life and Glow after Dusk, Active and Adventurous Singapore and also made two photo essays on Dare, Dream, Do—Your Singapore in a New Light. The final submissions were then judged by photographer Swapan Parekh. To be a part of the POY journey and to see the winning images, turn to our special coverage from page no. 102

To photograph is to hold one’s breath, when all faculties converge to capture fleeting reality. It’s at that precise moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy. HENRI CARTIER-BRESSON (1908-2004) Henri Cartier-Bresson was a French photographer, widely considered as the father of modern photojournalism. He was one of the earliest users of the 35mm format, and the master of candid photography. He was instrumental in developing street photography and his style is still influencing generations of photographers. He also contributed in the formation of the Magnum picture agency in 1947. His theory of the perfect moment, his eye for detail and his views about photography, have made him legendary among contemporary photojournalists.

BETTER PHOTOGRAPHY

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Image source: www.fiba-filmbank.org

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S NAPS HOTS

W H AT ’ S N E W

Sony CLM V55 Clip-on LCD Sony announced a 5-inch clip-on LCD monitor for interchangeable lens cameras. This revolutionary product can be attached to the hot shoe of interchangeable lens cameras. It is targeted at users of HD video, so that they can get a bigger and better view of the video, from different angles. The monitor can be tilted and swivelled for more convenient video shooting. It also comes with a detachable LCD hood to view and shoot in bright sunlight. The CLM V55 will be available from March 2011.

Kenko LCD Monitor Protectors These screen protectors are compatible with a large range of cameras, including DSLRs and some compact cameras. They boast of features like antismudging top coating, an anti-reflection coating and an anti-scratch core hard coating layer.

HP Pro CP1025 Printer 18

This printer incorporates wireless capability and has built-in Ethernet that allows the sharing of printing resources. According to the company, it is the world’s smallest laser printer. It supports all paper sizes and types including A4, A5, A6, B5 (ISO, JIS), 8k, 16k, 10 X 15cm, postcards (JIS single and double) and envelopes (DL, C5, B5). It is equipped with HP Auto-Off technology that automatically adjusts the power setting to save energy. The HP LaserJet Pro CP1025 Colour Printer is priced at Rs. 14,999.

Corel PaintShop Photo Pro X3 This new version offers overall stability and also adds RAW support for new cameras like Canon EOS 60D, Olympus E-5, Pentax 645D and Panasonic DMC-LX5. It also improves overall RAW handling and offers stability when working with duplicate layers.

Lexar Professional SDXC Cards The new Lexar Professional SDXC cards are idea for capturing extended lengths of HD video. They are available in capacities of 64GB and 128GB and offer speeds rated at 133x. The minimum transfer speed of these cards is 20MB/sec. The cards also include the company’s data recovery software. The memory cards will be available in the first quarter of 2011 and are priced at USD 399.99 (approx. Rs 18,000) and USD 699.99 (approx. Rs 31,000) respectively.

BETTER PHOTOGRAPHY

Snapshots_Feb 11.indd 18

Konica Minolta Enters Indian Printing Market J

apanese manufacturers Konica Minolta has made its entry in the Indian printing market this January, with the launch of their bizhub product line. The product line up consists of a series of small, medium and large office, monochrome and colour printers and multi-functional peripherals. The bizhub PRESS C7000/C6000 is a scalable digital printing system that offers versatile media handling, professional finishing and simplified workflow integration. Along with printers, the company also plans to introduce a

new product line up, consisting of four core technologies—materials, optics, nanofabrication and imaging. The company also said that it will target a market share of 20–25% by the end of this year, similar to its market share in other countries. “With our expertise in colour management and in-depth knowledge of the printing industry, we are confident of making a mark in the Indian printing market,” said Tadahiko Sumitani, Managing Director of Konica Minolta Business Solutions India Pvt Ltd.

United Nations Demands Investigation into Photojournalist’s Death T he United Nations has demanded that every possible effort must be made to find out the details behind the death of a French photographer that took place during the violence in Tunisia. This demand follows a similar demand from the governments of France and Germany. Photographer Lucas Mebrouk Dolega of the European Pressphoto Agency died from a head injury he sustained while covering street protests in Tunisia last month. He was reportedly hit by a police teargas canister. Shock and outrage followed Dolega’s death, with a French Foreign Ministry spokesperson calling him “a victim of a deliberate homicidal act.” According to Irina Bokova, Head of the UN agency that helps defend freedom of

press, “National authorities everywhere have a responsibility to ensure that the media can do its job in the most secure conditions possible.” She also stressed on the importance of the role played by the media, especially in societies witness to unrest. She said, “Journalists stand as witnesses to the events and actions that shape our lives and societies. Their work contributes to the development of transparent and accountable decision-making.” The Tunisian protests were spurred by a spate of unemployment and government corruption. The people of Tunisia came together in an uprising against President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who proceeded to flee the country. F E B R UA RY 2 0 1 1

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TE ST

GearGuide

HOW WE TEST Product Categorisation We first segregate products into categories for the purpose of equitability in testing. The DSLR is divided into entrylevel, semi-professional and professional categories. For compacts, we distinguish between advanced and basic compact cameras. Similarly, we also test consumer and pro lenses, flashguns, printers, and other photographic accessories and gear.

The Process We primarily test for features, performance, build, ergonomics, warranty and support. While this remains constant, the weightage we give to these parameter differs from category to category, because different types of consumers have diverse expectations from products.

Final Ratings Under each main parameter, we 42 list out hundreds of individual variables (for eg. colour accuracy for individual colours in different lighting, individual features, dynamic range, center-to-edge definition, light fall-off, etc.) against which we either give points or simply mark ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Thus, we arrive at a score for that parameter, and then, the final score, denoted as a percentage. Additionally, based on the current pricing of a product, a star rating for ‘Value for Money’ is considered. Value for Money does not affect the final percentage, because prices for products change constantly.

Sony Alpha 55

Through the Mirror

The Sony Alpha 55 has a translucent mirror that gives it pathbreaking capabilities. Raj Lalwani checks out this feature-packed bundle.

Our Seals of Approval Any product that scores 80% or higher in individual tests gets ‘BP Recommended’—a seal of approval from our team. In comparison tests, we also tag products as ‘BP Best Performer’ and ‘BP Best Value for Money’.

BP Excellence Awards At the end of the calendar year, the five highest rated products in each category automatically gets nominated for the ‘Better Photography Excellence Awards’. A panel of experts then decide the winners. This is BP’s recognition of the very best products launched in the course of the year, and the companies that made them. BETTER PHOTOGRAPHY

Test_Sony Alpha 55.indd 42

WEIGHTAGE OF PARAMETERS 5% 15% 20%

30%

30%

Features Performance Build Quality Ergonomics Warranty & Support

he first DSLR was born over a decade ago. Since then, we have seen significant developments in sensor technologies, but the essential working of the system has remained the same. The only time we saw some sort of a difference was when mirrorless technology was introduced— and even that was a concept inspired by compact cameras. A few months ago, we saw an announcement that made a complete departure from both DSLRs and compact cameras. Sony announced the Alpha 55, which was the world’s first digital camera to make use of a pellicle mirror. This meant that these were not really SLRs, but SLTs,

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with the ‘T’ standing for a Translucent mirror. Similar technology has been used in the film days, with cameras like the Canon EOS RT.

Features A pellicle mirror, unlike conventional SLRs, allows a majority of light to pass through, directly to the 16MP sensor. At the same time, the mirror reflects some of this light onto a phase-detect AF sensor. This means that the mirror does not need to slap up and down during time of exposure, which helps the Sony Alpha 55 gain some valuable features. Firstly, it can use Phase Detect autofocus even while using Live View. F E B R UA RY 2 0 1 1

1/21/2011 6:44:26 AM


test

Test

feature

Nikon S80 Is this touchscreen camera overpriced?

Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G A hat trick of superb prime lenses

15 Myths Busted t e st Half-truths that companies do not want you to know

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The A55 produces punchy results in the Vivid mode which can be further fine-tuned to increase contrast and saturation. Exposure: 1/640sec at f/9 (ISO 400)

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This advantage is further realised in terms of video shooting. If you wish to use an interchangeable lens camera to shoot video with continuous autofocus, the A55 is a class leader. Phase Detect AF is extremely fast, and beats any other video DSLR by a huge distance. The quality of the Full HD video with AVCHD compression is excellent. However, we were surprised to note that the A55 does not offer any manual control during video shooting, which is a feature offered by competing cameras like the Canon EOS 550D. This is a vital feature that the company could have easily incorporated. We feel that they have probably omitted it to distinguish the camera from a more high-end version that will release in the future. Another advantage of the pellicle mirror is the fact that the A55 can fire away at 10fps. This makes it the only camera at this price point that can shoot this quickly. This

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is a huge advantage on paper, considering that the only other camera that can shoot at this speed is the 1D Mark IV, which costs eight times as much! However, there are many caveats to this mode. If you want the camera to focus in between shots, the exposure is fixed. Alternatively, if you want to control aperture and shutterspeed, the focus will be fixed between shots. Moreover, the images take a long time to record onto the card, and the camera freezes for an entire minute after the shooting burst!

Handling Considering that the Sony Alpha 55 has an Electronic Viewfinder, I was a little wary of using this camera. I have rarely enjoyed using EVFs—an optical viewfinder has a feel of its own. After all, you would rather look at the scene directly than see something that seems like a muddy digital video stream.

What’s in the box • Sony Alpha 55 body • Sony 18–55mm A-mount • Body cap • Lens cap • Li-ion battery • Battery charger • Software CD • Camera manual • USB cable • A/V cable • Camera strap

All Photographs by Raj Lalwani

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Better Photography


TE ST

Nikon COOLPIX S80 46

A Touchscreen Gimmick? Neha Mutreja tests the stylish Nikon COOLPIX S80, to see whether this basic compact camera can compete with the other touchscreen cameras in the market. ikon’s stylish or S series of cameras primarily aims to cater photographic control along with a slim and stylish design. True to this description, the COOLPIX S80 looks great, but are its features and performance good enough to attract a casual consumer?

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WEIGHTAGE OF PARAMETERS

Features 10% 15% 15%

30%

30%

Features Performance Build Quality Ergonomics Warranty & Support BETTER PHOTOGRAPHY

Test_Nikon S80 Feb 11.indd 46

The Nikon COOLPIX S80 retains the 5x optical zoom range (35–175mm equivalent) of its predecessor, the S70. The only new addition, really, is a different sensor. The S80 is a 14.1-megapixel camera, as compared to its predecessor, which was 12.1MP. The other features of the camera are rather similar, and this new camera is only a tiny incremental upgrade. There is no dedicated Program mode, but you can control the ISO and Exposure

Compensation in some modes. Besides 17 Scene modes, the camera has a Smart Portrait mode, which allows you to choose between Face Priority AF, Smile Timer, Blink Proof and Blink Warning. The camera also features sensor-shift stabilisation. The S80 has some interesting playback and post processing options. For instance, you can add six different Filter effects to your photos. You can also rate the images up to five stars, which is a useful method to sort pictures into different folders. The 720p HD video output is impressive, with crisp and clear stereo sound—the S70 could only capture mono audio.

Handling This slim compact camera’s rear houses a large 3.5-inch touch-screen OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) screen and no buttons at all! The screen looks great,

P LU S • Easy to use • Good video quality MINUS • Poor optics • Unimpressive feature list F E B R UA RY 2 0 1 1

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T E ST

but we found its usability quite poor, as compared to other touchscreen cameras in the market. I tried switching between different Scene modes and turning off the flash, but the functionality was so slow that it took a long time to do this. The screen of the camera is of 16:9 aspect ratio. This means that while shooting video, the footage is displayed on the entire screen. However, while shooting stills, if you wish to use the default 4:3 aspect ratio, the composition is obscured by black vertical bars on either side of the image. This becomes rather distracting. Since this camera is ultra slim, it would be best to put the camera’s strap around your wrist at all times. The cover of the battery and SD card compartment is flimsy.

Performance I used the camera while shooting at a birthday party and also a school event. The autofocus speed of the camera is adequate in good light. However, the moment you try to shoot in low light, it takes ages for the focus to lock! Focusing is also inaccurate, which makes the use of this camera in low light rather limited. The images shot with this camera are sharp at low ISO settings. Dynamic range is very good, with adequate detail in shadows

and highlights. However, beyond ISO 400, the quality deteriorates. Images shot at ISO 800 are usable, but you would not want to increase the sensitivity beyond this. The quality of the lens is poor. There is heavy fringing that can be seen around the corners of the photograph. In fact, it is so acute that it is visible even at normal print sizes. Images shot against the light also show flare.

Conclusion The Nikon COOLPIX S80 surely scores highly on the style factor, but when you are spending as much as Rs. 16,950, good looks are certainly not enough. The number of features it has is quite less, as compared to other touchscreen cameras at this price point. We believe that anyone who buys this camera will surely feel shortchanged when he sees the kind of features offered by the competition. Moreover, the S80 is ergonomically poor, and not as good as other touchscreen cameras. If you are unable to change modes or functions instantly while shooting some of the most precious moments of life, what is the point? If the autofocus gets tricked in low light, how will one use this camera indoors? You will be well advised to look at other options in the market.

S P E C I F I CAT I O N S

Model name

Nikon COOLPIX S80

MRP

Rs. 16,950

Sensor size, type

1/2.3-inch, CCD sensor

Effective pixels, max. image size

14.1megapixels, 4,320×3,240 pixels

LCD

3.5-inch

Focal range

35–175mm (35mm equivalent)

ISO range

Auto, ISO 80–6400

Aperture range

f/3.6–8

Shutterspeed

1–1/250sec

Metering modes

256-segment matrix metering, Center, Spot

File formats

Still: JPEG

Battery

Lithium ion

Storage

SD and SDHC

Dimensions (W X H X D), weight

99 X 63 X 17 mm, 133 g

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WHAT’S IN THE BOX • • • • •

Nikon COOLPIX S80 Camera strap Instruction manual Li-ion battery USB cable

FINALRATINGS Features

23/30

720p video with stereo sound, less features as compared to competition

Performance

21/30

Poor optics, slow and unreliable AF

Build Quality

12/15

Ultra slim, lightweight

Ergonomics

7/15

Slow and unresponsive touchscreen

Warranty & Support

5/10

Two years warranty with wide service network

Due to its poor performance, the S80 performs well, only while shooting in the daytime. Neha Mutreja F E B R UA RY 2 0 1 1

Test_Nikon S80 Feb 11.indd 47

Exposure: 1/100sec at f/3.6 (ISO 150)

OVERALL

68%

Value for Money BETTER PHOTOGRAPHY

1/20/2011 9:24:53 PM


TEST

Nikkor AF-S 35mm f/1.4G

Third Gem in the Crown

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After the superb 24mm and 85mm lenses, the Nikkor AF-S 35mm f/1.4G is the third prime lens introduced by the company in the past one year. Shridhar Kunte puts it to the test. rom early 2010, Nikon has started the upgradation of their zoom lenses and produced some quality optics. In what looks to be the second phase of upgrades, they have decided to concentrate on strengthening their line up of fast prime lenses. The Nikkor AF-S 35mm f/1.4G is the latest lens, and we wanted to test it to see whether it matches up to the recently tested 24mm and 85mm lenses.

F WEIGHTAGE OF PARAMETERS

Features 10% 15% 15% 35% 25%

Features Performance Build Quality Ergonomics Warranty & Support BETTER PHOTOGRAPHY

Test_Nikkor 35mm f1.4 Feb 11.ind48 48

This is the company’s first 35mm f/1.4 autofocus lens. Nikon used to produce a superb manual focus version, but the autofocus one has all the latest features like a Nano Crystal Coat and a Silent Wave Motor. Its minimum focusing distance is rather useful, and I enjoyed shooting portraits at f/1.4 from up close. Its fast aperture means that this standard wide angle lens is ideal for almost every kind of photography.

Low-light shooters can use this highend lens for photographing landscapes, portraits, interiors, events, weddings or photojournalistic assignments.

Handling The lens balances well on both large and small camera bodies. The overall build quality is excellent. The lens is supplied with a flower-type hood, which fits snugly over the lens but prevents you from using a circular polariser. One ergonomic touch that differentiates the 35mm f/1.4 from budget lenses is its wide focusing ring. Due to this, I found it really easy to use manual focus, which is a technique anyone would want to use with a lens of such focal length. While using manual focus, the ring travels approximately 100 degrees to travel through the focusing range, which helps you shoot with great precision. You will particularly appreciate this if you wish to shoot video at its widest aperture. The F E B R UA RY 2 0 1 1

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TTEST E ST

focus ring automatically gets disengaged when it reaches the two extremes, and does not put any pressure on the mechanism. The depth-of-field preview scale is a little disappointing. We would have preferred a more elaborate DOF scale, similar to the ones used in older manual focus lenses. The current one is limited, and almost seems like an afterthought.

Performance We used the lens with the Nikon D700 to shoot at different times of the day, including late at night on streets that were barely lit. Appreciably, the focusing was fast and accurate too, which is critical at aperture settings as wide as f/1.4. The images shot by the lens are extremely sharp. Just like the company’s recent 24mm and 85mm prime lenses, the 35mm lens shows pathbreaking sharpness at the widest aperture setting. Photographs shot at f/1.4 are very contrasty and the bokeh is smooth and pleasing. The colours produced are pleasant without colour tint. On field, I used the supplied lens hood at all times, and the lens shows exceptional control over flare and ghosting. I pushed the lens to its limits by shooting directly into harsh noon light, and also by

including other sources of light in the frame. At every aperture, the lens does not produce any flare. Chromatic aberration, too, is well-controlled. There is only a hint of fringing in backlit photographs shot at f/1.4—it is barely visible if you zoom the image to 100%. Distortion is very well controlled. Vignetting is surprisingly minimal—it is only slightly visible at f/1.4 completely disappears by the time you stop down to f/2.8.

Conclusion While the Indian pricing of this 35mm lens has not been announced yet, it is priced at USD 1800 (approx. Rs. 90,000) abroad. This makes a clear statement that this lens is targeted at pro users. We do not think too many DX users will need this lens. The inexpensive 35mm f/1.8G is superbly sharp and costs only a fraction of this pro lens. However, full frame users will really love this set of optics. This lens is sharp at every aperture setting and shows stellar performance, even in testing conditions. Besides the inadequate depth-of-field scale, the lens is great to use on field. If you are a professional who prefers to work with prime lenses, the 35mm f/1.4 that almost always stays on your camera.

S P E C I F I CAT I O N S

ED MEND M O C RE

Model name

Nikkor AF-S 35mm f/1.4G

MRP

USD 1800 (approx. Rs. 90,000)

Lens construction

10 elements in 7 groups

Closest focusing distance

0.98ft

Max. magnification

1:0.2

Diaphragm blades

9

Max. aperture

f/1.4

Filter diameter

67mm

Dimensions

83 X 89.5mm

Weight

600g

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P LU S • Superb optics • Quick and accurate autofocus MINUS • Inadequate depth-of-field scale

FINALRATINGS Features

13/15

Fast aperture, full frame compatibility

Performance

33/35

Excellent optics throughout the focal range

Build Quality

24/25

Excellent pro-quality construction

Ergonomics

11/15

No ability to override AF, balances well

Warranty & Support

5/10

Two years warranty

The 35mm f/1.4G is a stellar performer against the light and is resistant to flare. Shridhar Kunte F E B R UA RY 2 0 1 1

Test_Nikkor 35mm f1.4 Feb 11.ind49 49

Exposure: 1/800sec at f/11 (ISO 3200)

OVERALL

86%

Value for Money BETTER PHOTOGRAPHY

1/21/2011 6:55:30 AM


FE AT URE

15

Myths Busted

Camera companies often lead you into believing many half-truths. Chandni Gajria goes on a myth-busting spree to tell you what you really need to know.

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Before you get taken in by a particular feature, ask yourself if you really need it.

here are times when simple facts about cameras and lenses are overlooked or misunderstood. Funnily, it is not only amateurs, but even experienced photographers who get these facts confused. We list out a few common myths that are propagated by the marketing releases of camera manufacturers.

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1. The Best Cameras are Expensive A lot of companies claim that their camera is the best one around, but simply put, there is no best camera. Depending on the kind of photography you wish to do, a camera may be the most appropriate one for your needs, but this will vary from situation to situation.

2. Higher the Megapixels, Better the Quality Almost everyone assumes that a higher megapixel camera is of better quality than a lower megapixel one. The only thing that the megapixel-count refers to, is the largest print size one can make. Either way, most of us do not make prints on a regular basis and even an 8MP camera is good enough to make an 18 X 12-inch print.

quality. The images are better in terms of dynamic range, as well as high ISO quality.

4. Compacts Cannot Make Good Pictures People assume that they need a DSLR to shoot good pictures. This is totally untrue! Some of the best images in the world are shot with point-and-shoot cameras and even cell phones! Compact cameras have certain advantages over DSLRs. They are more convenient and discreet. It is the vision of the photographer that makes an image, and not his camera.

5. More Zoom is Better Digital zoom is a feature you should ignore. All it does is crop the image to a slightly closer frame, and interpolate. This causes a severe loss of image quality. Even in terms of optical zoom, people are made to believe that their camera should have as much zoom as possible. Optically, a lens that has a zoom range of more than 15x is inferior to something like 5x or 10x. Also, while using such cameras, it is really difďŹ cult to keep the camera steady at the extreme telephoto end.

6. Stabilisation Helps Shoot Sharper Images 3. Sensor Size Does Not Matter A camera that has a larger sensor has larger pixel sites, which basically ensures better BETTER PHOTOGRAPHY

Gear Guide Feature_15 mythsa.ind50 50

Image Stabilisation is marketed as a technology that ensures tack sharp images. However, this feature only reduces camera

It is important to understand the ďŹ ne print behind any camera advertisement. F E B R UA RY 2 0 1 1

1/19/2011 2:04:31 PM


FE AT URE

A camera may be expensive only because it introduces a new feature, not necessarily because of its quality.

shake, and does not have any effect on motion blur. It is a great feature to have if you wish to use a shutterspeed like 1/8sec while shooting handheld, but it will not freeze any moving subjects.

7. You Need a High ISO Machine A lot of us decide to discard our old cameras because they cannot shoot at extra-high ISO values like 6400 or 12,800. However, consider whether you really need ISO settings of that nature. If you are someone who enjoys shooting from dawn to dusk, an ISO setting up to 1600 is good enough for any situation.

8. Digital is Better than Film or Vice Versa Both film and digital have their advantages. Film offers better resolution and dynamic range, but digital scores in terms of convenience and low light shooting. In terms of costs, it is worthwhile to buy a digital camera if you shoot a lot. However, if you are a conservative photographer who shoots only once a month, a second-hand film SLR is actually a better investment.

shoots at 2–3MP. Factors like startup time, responsiveness, general ergonomics and AF speed are also important.

12. You Need High Speed Storage High-speed cards are useful, but not essential for all. For most people, even an Extreme III card is overkill. Before buying a new memory card, try borrowing cards of different speeds from a friend. This will help you evaluate if a ‘slower’ card really slows down your camera.

13. Third-party Products are Inferior Manufacturers and dealers often tell you to steer clear of third-party manufacturers. However, every company has some good and bad products. Sometimes, a third-party lens may actually be superior to the one produced by the original camera company!

Buy Only What You Really Need Eventually, no technology is bad. You only need to be sure whether you really need it. Do not go in for a particular camera or lens just because it seems attractive or because you may use a particular feature once or twice. You have to ask yourself if you will use those features regularly and whether the camera is worth investing in, for the next few years.

14. Photoshop Can Correct Everything A lot of people do not pay much attention while shooting as they assume that they can correct it in Photoshop. A good image can be enhanced in software, but there is only so much you can save a bad image.

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9. Automatic Modes are Good Enough Companies often highlight the various automatic modes that are available in their cameras. These modes are reasonably intelligent and make it really simple to shoot good pictures. However, if you wish to get really creative, you ought to look beyond the Auto mode.

10. You Should Shoot Only in RAW Shooting in RAW is a worthwhile option if you are able to spend a good amount of time, editing the images so that they can be converted to usable JPEG or TIFF files. However, some cameras are extremely slow while shooting RAW, so for shooting continuous bursts of images, it might be better to switch to JPEG.

11. Higher Frame Rates Are Needed for Action Often, companies tell you that you need 8–10fps to shoot action. But some of the greatest sports photos of all time have been shot with older technology! Moreover, frame rate is not indicative of a camera’s speed. Sometimes, cameras claim 10fps speed, but the camera takes a long time for the next shot, or only F E B R UA RY 2 0 1 1

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15. Adobe RGB (1998) is Better Most people use the Adobe RGB (1998) colour profile because it has the company’s name and seems more efficient. For usage on the web and printing from most basic labs, the sRGB profile is good enough. It is important to understand the fine print that lies behind a manufacturer’s promise. Do your own research, keep your eyes open and do not think too much about gear… just keep shooting!

Some Other Popular Myths Shattered Apart from the myths that manufacturers spread, consumers often have some misconceptions that are developed over time, due to incomplete information.

The camera stops working after the shutter limit is crossed: Every DSLR has a shutter cycle. After this, it does not stop working, but the accuracy of the shutter decreases. For instance, if you use a setting of 1/1000sec, the shutter may actually open at a speed of 1/800 or 1/900sec.

Hard drives can never fail: Whether you are a hobbyist or a professional, you should always have at least two backups, in different locations. It is better to safeguard your images rather than waste time in complicated and expensive data retrieval procedures.

My camera is expensive, and so I am a good photographer: Your camera does not decide what you shoot. A good photographer will shoot well even with modest equipment. Similarly, buying a high-end camera does not make you a better photographer–all you need to do is practise and develop your skills. BETTER PHOTOGRAPHY

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S H O O T IN G T E C HNI Q U E

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Chris Burkard Chris is a freelance photographer from California, USA. He shoots for various publications and is a staff photographer for Surfer magazine and Surine.com.

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SHOOTING TECHNIQUE

ON ASSIGNMENT

PHOTOCRITIQUE

Metering Demystified Master your camera’s in-built light meter

Where Walls Meet Capturing geometry in your daily life

Our panel of S H O O T IN G experts review your photographs

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T E C HNI Q U E

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And… Action! Supriya Joshi speaks with 10 leading sports photographers about the challenges of action photography along with the art of capturing the perfect moment. hooting sports and action scenes is not an easy task. Photographers are under constant pressure to capture ‘the’ moment, where even a second’s delay can make the difference between an average and a good photograph.

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We spoke to the 10 theme winners of the Red Bull Illume contest, the world’s biggest adventure sports photography contest, on what they thought were the challenges in action photography. Along with important tips, they also shared their experiences of shooting their award-winning images.

Camera: Nikon D700 Lens: 70–200mm f/2.8 ISO: 125 Aperture: f/6.3 Shutterspeed: 1/1000sec F E B R UA RY 2 0 1 1

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Chris Burkard / Red Bull Illume

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Sho ot ing T echniq ue

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The camera’s light meter gauges the amount of light available and determines an exposure. In tricky lighting, you need to know how your meter will react and what controls are available to you to get good shots. Better Photography

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Metering Demystified Supriya Joshi explains the importance of your camera’s in-built light meter and how you can use it to your advantage.

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beautiful streams of light have completely burned out and have ruined the picture. The camera’s in-built light meter is a curious device. If you leave it to the camera to calculate the exposure, you may get images that looks nothing like the original scene. On the other hand, there could be

Vasanth Edward

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magine you are in the middle of a forest. Light streams through the trees and the branches form beautiful shadows. The setting is perfect for a photograph and you expose a frame. But as soon as you see the picture on your camera’s LCD screen, you find the

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I spotted this set of shapes and colours while eating lunch—I just had to get up from my table for a minute to get the framing perfect. 70

Where Walls Meet

Raj Lalwani tells you how you can shoot interesting geometric patterns absolutely anywhere, even within the confines of your home or office. ften, I get the feeling that I am not able to take out enough time for photography. Home, college or our workplaces can be extremely engrossing. In the hustle and bustle of daily life, I realised that sometimes photographers are just not

Description

able to get enough time to take the camera and go out with the specific intention of making pictures. Faced with this conundrum, I decided that I am not going to keep my camera packed away, even if I am stuck at office or at a family dinner. After all, there are great photographs that can be made wherever one may be, even within the confines of a single room.

To use geometrical shapes to interpret regular scenes in an unconventional, abstract manner.

My Perspective

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My Assignment

Duration Approximately a year of shooting, when I was too busy to go out for a dedicated photoshoot.

Notes Walls, ceilings, doors, floors—basically, anything we see around us, can form interesting shapes and make great photographs! BETTER PHOTOGRAPHY

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The first time I realised this was when I was sitting in office, tired after a long day of work. I looked up at the ceiling, and just gazed into space, trying to gather my thoughts. Slowly, while looking up, I began to see the shapes being formed by the ceiling, walls, and pillars. This F E B R UA RY 2 0 1 1

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O N A S S I G NM E N T

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Walls of the same colour can look slightly different depending on the play of light and shadow. F E B R UA RY 2 0 1 1

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Living Proof

Nilanjan Ray attempts to document the essence of life and the memories created around people, places and objects in a series of photographs.

hile shooting for a photojournalistic assignment in Purulia, West Bengal, I made a picture of a goat kid standing on the boundary wall of a mud house. Later, when I reviewed my pictures, I discovered that

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this image looked a lot like a painting or even a sculpture. This is when I realised that there are so many moments that carry the essence of life within them. These are moments in which people imprint their memories onto non-living things. For instance, the wall of a house can tell F E B R UA RY 2 0 1 1

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My Assignment

O N A S S I G NM E N T

Description To capture the essence and the beauty of life that can be glimpsed eetingly as moments rush past us.

Duration It is an ongoing project.

Notes Observe the world around you minutely and you will ďŹ nd ordinary things that tell stories about the people who have spent lifetimes using these objects.

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The exterior of this house tells a story about the family inhabiting it. F E B R UA RY 2 0 1 1

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ShowCase Pierre Poulain • Pierre started photography in 1976 in Paris, where he worked as a taxi driver. • In 1986, he moved back to his home country Israel and founded the New Acropolis School of Philosophy. • He seamlessly combines two major aspects of his life—philosophy and photography.

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GREAT MASTERS

POY 2010 SHOWCASE

SPECIAL FEATURE

V V Krishnan Stories from a cricket photography legend

The stunning images that made it to the top

Joy of Going to School A showcase of poignant and evocative images

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A Philosophical Journey In conversation with Israeli photographer Pierre Poulain, Chandni Gajria experiences the philosophical aspect of photography and learns the secret to seeing the invisible. or a taxi driver in Paris, France, it was one of those usual evenings of driving around. Pierre stopped the taxi at a point, and happened to notice a poster from his cab window. It was about a lecture on philosophy. So fascinated and curious

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was he, that he made it a point to attend it. Thus began a profound interest in a second subject. The first, of course, was street photography, which he funded by plying his taxi. Little did Pierre Poulain realise, at the time, that these two esoteric interests would become lifelong pursuits.

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“The complexity in photography disappears once one is in harmony with their camera. After this, you can simply concentrate on expressing your freedom,” says Pierre. F E B R UA RY 2 0 1 1

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V V Krishnan In a conversation with Raj Lalwani, India’s greatest cricket photographer, V V Krishnan indulges in some nostalgia and relives some of the most exhilarating moments of the game. ith the Cricket World Cup due to begin this month, I decided to rewind and look back at my favourite World Cup moment. I was six, and watching a match between South Africa and Pakistan in the 1992 World Cup. Pakistani batsman Inzamam-ul-Haq was batting brilliantly, until a moment when we all stopped and stared. We saw a flash of green—it was a South African fielder

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who had the ball in his hand. Instead of throwing it, he jumped... almost flew, and landed straight on the stumps. Almost two decades later, I still feel awestruck at the manner in which Jonty Rhodes broke down the stumps and ran out Inzamam. Could anyone have captured that moment better than the television cameras? Say hello to V V Krishnan, the man whose ‘Flying Jonty’ image has been rated as one of the best cricket photos ever,

Shot during a match between Pakistan and South Africa, this has been rated by Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack as one of the best cricket images of all time.

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In one of his first assignments, he shot Sachin Tendulkar walking back after scoring his first half-century. The 16-year-old Sachin was hit on the nose by Pakistani bowler Waqar Younis. Blood oozed out, but he just kept batting.

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History

Photo Credit: Felice Beato Image source: Wikimedia commons

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This image depicts the aftermath of the Indian Rebellion of 1857. With this image, Felice Beato possibly produced the first-ever photographic images of corpses.

On the Battlefield

Supriya Joshi presents war photographers through history who have risked their lives to present stark and iconic images from the battlefield.

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ne of the most important influences of photography on history has been the images from war torn, conflict ridden sites from around the world. War photographers throughout history have been risking their lives to present the horrors of war as well as making poignant statements with their work.

With the advent of film photography, war photographers became mobile and discreet on the field, and instantaneously shoot their subjects. Joe Rosenthal, the Pulitzer Prize winning American photographer’s photo titled ‘Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima’ has widely been credited as the most iconic photograph from World War II.

Crimean War and World War II

Advancements in camera technology has changed a war photographer’s technique drastically. They can shoot battle sequences at a distance from the line of fire, thanks to telephoto lenses. They can now directly send their pictures to editors for publishing because of digital photography. However, photographers often suffer severe consequences. They are at a high risk of death and injury. Despite the everpresent threat to life, these photographers still continue to shoot haunting images from areas affected by war.  

It began in the 1800s with the Crimean War, where several European countries fought for supremacy. The first known war photographer is Carol Popp de Szathmàri, who took photos of various officers in 1853 and of war scenes in Bulgaria during this war. Roger Fenton, a British photographer, was sent on assignment to cover this war in 1855. He faced several difficulties, yet he was able to shoot about 350 photographs, which have now become a benchmark in war photography. Better Photography

War Photography Now

The first known war photographer is Carol Popp de Szathmàri. f e b r ua ry 2 0 1 1


History

Joe Rosenthal’s photo titled ‘Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima’ has widely been credited as the most iconic photograph from World War II.

Iconic War Photographs Through the Ages Photographer: Robert Capa Image courtesy: Moolf Year: 1944

Photographer: Joe Rosenthal Image courtesy: Wikipedia Year: 1945

This image was shot by Capa during the arrival of the first waves of infantry at Omaha Beach on the morning of D-Day on June 6, 1944 in Normandy. This photo is extremely famous, because of the circumstances of the shot.

Widely credited as the most iconic photograph from World War II, the image shows US soldiers raising the flag of the United States during World War II. Rosenthal received the Pulitzer Prize in 1945 for the picture.

Photographer: Eddie Adams Image courtesy: Moolf Year: 1968

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Photographer: Nick Ut Image courtesy: Art History Archive Year: 1972

This photograph of an officer shooting a handcuffed Vietcong prisoner in the head at point-blank range not only earned Eddie Adams a Pulitzer Prize in 1969, but also contributed towards changing Americans’ attitudes about the Vietnam War.

This iconic image of nine-year-old Kim Phuc running from Napalm bombing in Vietnam was seen on the cover of Time Magazine, and is still remembered today as one of the most infamous images of the Vietnam War.

Photographer: Unknown Image courtesy: Art History Archive Year: 2004

Photographer: Françoise Demulder Image courtesy: Iconic Images Year: 1976

Françoise Demulder won the World Press Photo award for this stark image of a Palestinian refugee pleading with a masked militiaman in 1976. This photograph also made her the first woman ever to win this prestigious award.

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When images of soldiers torturing prisoners at Abu Gharib prison surfaced, they created an uproar. This photograph changed opinions on the Iraq War in US itself, and support for the war dropped to 40% within the USA.

Bitter Irony Robert Capa had once said, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” In a sad twist of fate, Capa died in 1954 after he stepped on a landmine while covering the First Indochina War. His left leg was blown apart and he had injuries on his chest. He died with his camera in hand. Better Photography

Better Photography February 2011 issue preview  

A preview of what's in the Feb 2011 issue of Better Photography magazine

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