Issuu on Google+

CM YK

BEAUTIFUL photos on a nature walk • Practise photography at local events

BETTER PHOTOGRAPHY

www.betterphotography.in

! OY es best WPmineof the no case w ho As

April 2010 • Rs. 100

shooting OPPORTUNITIES WHEREvER YOU ARE • EXTREME WEATHER Photography • GREAT MASTERs: REZA

Better Technique. Better Insight. Better Pictures

GREAT Shooting OPPORTUNITIES

WHEREVER YOU aRE

Learn to identify and shoot amazing pictures right outside your home

Essentials for your backpack How to get stunning pictures in extreme weather conditions

Vol. 13 • No. 11 • April 2010

186

Exclusive reviews Olympus E-PL1 Sony W380 Casio EX-Z90 Tokina 10-17mm Fisheye On Assignment

Exploring the magic of trees in warm, moody streetlight

GREAT MASTERS

The inspirational story of the humanitarian, Reza

Pages of te ideas an sts, techniques, da a compr dvice PLUS eh Buyer’s Gensive uide

Photofeature

Capturing the colour and chaos in Barsana village

CM YK

PROFILE

On why Seshu is among the best wedding photographers


April 2010

56

62

SnapShots

GearGuide

26

Book Review Wide Angle

32

30

Website of the Month Thephotographicdiction ary.org

31

Look Who’s Shooting Ashish Parmar

ON THE COVER

Sony W380 A number of interesting features in a tiny package

38

Casio EXILIM-Z90 Is this compact camera worth buying?

40

Tokina 10–17mm Does this unique fisheye lens help you get creative?

44

FEATURE

CM YK

better PhotogrAPhY

! oY es best wPmineof the no cAse w ho As

April 2010 • rs. 100

Olympus PEN E-PL1 An exclusive review of this new entry-level PEN

36

beAUtifUL Photos on A nAtUre wALk • PrActise PhotogrAPhY At LocAL events

www.betterphotography.in

test

shooting oPPoRtUnitiEs WhEREvER YoU ARE • EXtREME WEAthER PhotogRAPhY • gREAt MAstERs: REZA

Better technique. Better insight. Better Pictures

BetterPictures

56

Shooting Technique

62

Extreme Weather Come back with lovely photos despite the challenges

68

Practice Session Develop your skills by shooting local sports

On Nature’s Trail Shoot great images in a nearby park or in a forest

GREAT ShooTinG oPPoRTUniTiES

wherever YoU Are

Learn to identify and shoot amazing pictures right outside your home

Essentials for your backpack how to get stunning pictures in extreme weather conditions

vol. 13 • no. 11 • APRil 2010

186

EXclUsivE REviEWs olympus E-Pl1 sony W380 casio EX-Z90 tokina 10-17mm Fisheye on Assignment

Exploring the magic of trees in warm, moody streetlight

greAt mAsters

the inspirational story of the humanitarian, Reza

Pages of test ideas and s, techniques, advi a compreh ce PLUs ensive buyer’s guid e

PhotofeAtUre

capturing the colour and chaos in Barsana village

ProfiLe

on why seshu is among the best wedding photographers

Photograph: dipesh shah Design: Pradeep Kumar B Nambiar CM YK

11 Essentials You Must Carry for an Outdoor Trip Things you must remember to pack


InFocus

68

98 ShowCase

72

76

ON ASSIGNMENT

Trees at Night Explore the drama and mood for unique pictures

DIGITAL TECHNIQUE

90 96 98

Quick Fixes for Better Skies ... in Adobe Lightroom!

Profile

Seshu On the art of documentary wedding photography My Best Shot

Kedar Bhat GREAT MASTERS

Reza The touching story of this famous educator and photographer

PhotoFinish

179

DIFFERENT STROKES

Photographers without a Camera

180 A Room With a View History of Photography

A look back at the development of viewfinders

182 Funding a Travel for MARKET SENSE

Passion Some simple tips on how to make a living in travel photography

184 The First Photograph Story Behind the Picture

of a Solar Eclipse

82

TIPS & TRICKS

Emphasise shapes, photograph trees creatively and more

104 112

WPOY 2009 Nominees

A showcase of the top nominations in the themes of 2009 PHOTOFEATURE

Harish Tyagi Colour and chaos in Barsana

Regulars Feedback.............................................................12 PHOTOCRITIQUE................................................... 78 Q & A................................................................... 86 1000 WORDS........................................................ 110 Your Pictures................................................... 116 BP Buyer’s Guide...............................................164


w hat ’ s n e w

Mamiya DM40 Camera and Digital Back Mamiya’s latest medium format camera, the DM40 is a 40MP DSLR that uses a 44 X 33mm sensor. The company has also launched a digital back of the same name. The camera has a quick capture rate of 0.8sec per frame, and a sustained capture rate of 60 frames per minute. Users can switch between two shutter systems—leaf and focal plane. The camera also features 16-bit RAW capture. The DM40 medium format camera with an 80mm f/2.8 D-series lens will be available for USD 21,990 (approx. Rs. 9,89,550), while the DM40 digital back is priced at USD 19,990 (approx. Rs. 8,99,550)

Pentax FA 645 55mm f/2.8 lens

16

The Pentax smc D FA 645 55mm f/2.8 AL[IF] SDM AW is a normal lens for the 645 medium format. The lens is weather-sealed and is also dust and drip-proof. The lens has a Supersonic Direct-drive Motor for better autofocus and a Quick-Shift system for instant switching between autofocus and manual focus. It is also the company’s first 645 lens to incorporate a rounded diaphragm. The lens is priced at USD 1100 (approx. Rs. 49,500).

Panasonic LUMIX G VARIO 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH / MEGA O.I.S This Micro Four Thirds lens offers an equivalent zoom range of 28-84mm (in 35mm parlance) and also has image stabilization. It has a similar optical construction to the older 14-45mm, but unlike the previous lens, does not have an on/off switch for image stabilisation. The lens has one aspherical element to improve overall optical quality. It has a minimum focusing distance of 0.3m and a 7-bladed diaphragm. Unlike the 14-45mm lens, this lens only has a plastic mount, instead of a metal one.

Pentax Unveils its First Medium Format DSLR A fter a lot of hype, leaks and speculation, Pentax has finally launched its first medium format DSLR. The Pentax 645D is a 40MP camera, with a 44 X 33mm CCD sensor manufactured by Kodak. Its body is made of magnesium alloy and has a chassis made of diecast aluminium. The camera is operable up to a temperature of -10º C. The camera boasts of a large number of features, many of which have not been seen in medium format digital cameras, and is also priced competitively. The fact that this medium format is available for USD 9400 is quite competitive, since the

pricing is quite close to some high-end 35mm DSLRs that cost USD 8000. The 645D borrows most of its features from the latest 35mm DSLRs from the company, like the Pentax K-m and K-x. It has a 9,21,000dots, high-resolution LCD and features like dual SD-card slots and sensor cleaning. It also has an AF system with 11 sensor points, 9 of which are crosstype sensors. In addition to this, the camera has other features like a horizon-levelling function, a Dynamic Range Expansion function, an HDR function, automatic correction of chromatic aberration, Interval Timer Shooting and a Multiple Exposure mode.

New Micro Four Thirds Cameras from Panasonic P anasonic has expanded its lineup of Micro Four Thirds cameras by introducing two new cameras. The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G2 is the world’s first interchangeable-lens camera with touch control shooting. As compared to the older G1, the G2 has a faster Venus Engine HD II processor and also shoots 720p HD video. The biggest improvement in the camera is its 4,60,000-dot LCD. In addition to a tilt-swivel option, the LCD also has advanced touch features, which allow you to focus simply by tapping the subject on the LCD.

Along with this, the company also introduced the LUMIX DMC-G10, which is smaller and lighter than the G2. The resolution and processor of the G10 is the same as the G2, but has fewer features, as does not have the tilt/swivel and touchcontrol LCD options.

Camera, as all-seeing God, satisfies our longing for omniscience. To spy on others from this height and angle: pedestrians pass in and out of our lens like rare aquatic insects. Jim Morrison (1943-1971) James Douglas ‘Jim’ Morrison was an American singer, songwriter, poet, writer, painter and filmmaker. He is best known as the lead singer and songwriter of the legendary rock band The Doors. In a short career span that lasted only a few years, the band influenced an entire generation through their innovative music, surreal lyrics and dramatic live concerts. In fact, Morrison and his band were one of the first few popular bands to realise the importance of photography and visuals to promote their music. He also experimented with photography in his undergraduate years, while studying filmmaking at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). While at college, Jim wrote a book called The Lords: Notes on Vision, in which he analysed the role of the camera, still photography, television and cinema in contemporary society.

Better Photography

Image source: 125magazine.blogspot.com

april 2010


snapshots

wh at ’ s new

Noktor HyperPrime 50mm f/0.95 lens for Micro Four Thirds

Sony Showcases Mock-ups of Mirrorless Camera

This manual focus telephoto lens gives an equivalent focal length of 100mm. It boasts of being the fastest Micro Four Thirds lens available, with a maximum aperture of f/0.95. The Noktor 50mm f/0.95 will be priced at USD 750 (approx. Rs. 33,750)

Tamron SP 70-300mm F4-5.6 Di VC USD for Nikon, Canon, Sony Tamron’s latest 70-300mm lens is the first lens from the company to feature the Ultrasonic Silent Drive autofocus motor. The lens features full-time manual focus override and Vibration Compensation.

Tokina SD 16-28mm f/2.8 (IF) FX Tokina has shown a mockup of a 16-28mm f/2.8 lens that it plans to produce for full-frame cameras. The company showcased this mockup at the Press Marketing Association tradeshow last month.

18

T

he Press Marketing Association tradeshow in Las Vegas in February saw a unique press conference from Sony, in which they revealed their strategy and plans for 2010, and showcased a mock-up of a mirrorless system they plan to release later this year. The mock-ups included a mirrorless camera, and three lenses, one of which included a tiny pancake prime lens. According to Sony, this camera will feature

a newly-developed Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor, and will also shoot HD video. In addition to this, Sony also showcased the mock-up version of the successor to the Sony Alpha 700. This camera, according to them, will be the first Sony DSLR to shoot HD video, and will be launched later this year. Other future products revealed by the company include a Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 24mm f/2 lens and a Sony 500mm f/4 G lens.

Samsung EX1, WB2000 and WP10 The Samsung EX1 is the first compact camera to have a lens that is as fast as f/1.8. This 10MP camera shoots in the RAW format and has a 3-inch tilt-swivel AMOLED display. It has a 3x zoom lens (equivalent focal length: 24-72mm), with image stabilisation. It also boasts of having a front wheel that allows you to change settings on the go, a concept that was first used in the Canon PowerShot S90. The WB2000, on the other hand, is a 10MP camera that shoots 1080p Full HD video. It also has a high-speed video-recording mode that shoots at up to 1000fps. Other features include 5x optical zoom, a 10fps burst mode and RAW shooting. The company also launched the WP10, an ultracompact waterproof camera that has 5x zoom, a dedicated Aqua mode and 720p HD video.

Pentax Optio W90 and X90 The Optio W90 is dustproof, waterproof, freezeproof and shock-resistant. The camera has a unique design that includes three LED lights in front of the lens barrel, to help eliminate the the shadow cast by the camera while shooting extreme closeups. The camera has a 12.1MP sensor, a 5x zoom lens starting at 28mm and 720p HD video recording. The Pentax X90, on the other hand, is a superzoom camera with a 26x zoom lens. This 12.1MP camera has a number of features, including improved battery life, a Burst mode that captures eleven 5MP images per second, and HD video.

Better Photography

Soviet Soldier in Iconic WWII Photo Dies at 93 A bdulkhakim Ismailov, one of the three soldiers to appear in a famed photograph of the Red Army invading Berlin at the end of World War II, died on 16 February 2010, at the age of 93 years. He was in his home town of Chagar-Otar in Russia’s southern region of Dagestan. In May 1945, the Russian army ambled through a destroyed Berlin and over the Nazis’ defeated Third Reich. It was then that soldier Abdulkhakim Ismailov found himself atop the Reichstag—Berlin’s House of Parliament—hoisting the Hammer and Sickle flag. Soviet photojournalist, Yevgeny

TASS/Yevgeny Khaldei

Khaldei made the picture and it went on to become one of most memorable war images.

CompactFlash Cards Offer Petabytes of Storage T he CompactFlash Association has announced the availability of CompactFlash cards 5.0. These offer greater capacities and speeds. The new 5.0 specification will enable 48-bit support while current CF cards support 28-bit. As of now, the maximum storage limit of CF cards is 137 GB. However, due to 48-bit support, CF 5.0 will have an increased

storage capacity up to 144 petabytes (1petabyte = 1000 terabytes). Also, the data transfer unit size will increase from 128KB to 32MB. However, this development is primarily aimed at the camcorder market and future compatibility with HD-enabled DSLRs is expected. Additional information about CF5.0 is available at the CFA web site www.compactflash.org. april 2010


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 32 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.

Olympus PEN E-PL1

A Segment Killer?

Our Seals of Approval Any product that scores 80% or higher in individual tests gets Weightage of ‘BP Recommended’—a seal parameters of approval from our team. In comparison tests, we also tag products as ‘BP Best Performer’ 5% and ‘BP Best Value 15%for Money’.

30%

BP Excellence Awards

20% At the end of the calendar year, 30% the five highest rated products in each category automatically gets nominated for the ‘Better Features Photography Excellence Awards’. Performance A panel of experts then decide the Build Quality winners. This is BP’s recognition of Ergonomics the very best products launched Warranty & in the course of the year, and the Support companies that made them. Better Photography

Weightage of parameters

15% 20%

5% 30%

30%

Features Performance Build Quality Ergonomics Warranty & Support

With its attractive pricing, the Olympus PEN E-PL1 is a gamechanger. Raj Lalwani puts it to the grind to see how it compares to the previous PEN cameras.

T

he last issue of Better Photography saw us taking a hands-on look at the latest Micro Four Thirds camera from Olympus, the PEN E-PL1. Now that we have the final production version in our hands, we decided to test it in a variety of conditions to see how the camera compares to the previous PEN cameras and other cameras in the same segment.

Features Despite the fact that this is Olympus’s most affordable PEN camera to date, the company has not compromised on its list of features. The significant addition, as compared to the previous PEN cameras, is the inclusion of a flash. This will not only appeal to users graduating from compact cameras, but also helps remotely control the FL-36R and FL-50R flashguns.

april 2010


te st

36

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W380

An Attractive Package The Cyber-shot DSC-W380 is one of the many compact cameras that Sony launched early this year. Shridhar Kunte takes this camera on a test drive.

Weightage of parameters 10% 15% 15%

30%

30%

Features Performance Build Quality Ergonomics Warranty & Support Better Photography

T

he popular W-series of Sony got eight new additions at the recently held Consumer Electronics Show in January. One of them was the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W380, a 14.1MP camera that has a number of interesting features.

Features The W380 has a versatile 5x zoom lens. Not only does it go as wide as 24mm, but it also has features like optical image stabilisation and a fast aperture of f/2.4 at the wide end. In fact, the W380 boasts of being one of the few compact cameras in the market that have such a wide focal length. Unlike most

other Cyber-shot cameras, the lens has not been manufactured by Carl Zeiss—the W380 uses a G lens manufactured by Sony. The W380 has an iAuto mode that calculates the best possible settings for a given scene. In this mode, the camera uses Motion Detection and Face Motion Detection technology to minimise shake. The way this technology works is that it automatically increases the ISO and shutterspeed settings when the camera detects any moving subject in the frame. The list of features does not end here. The Sweep Panorama mode was a popular feature that Sony introduced with the high-end superzoom camera, HX1. It is

What’s in the box • Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W380 • Camera strap • Instruction manual • Li-ion battery • Battery charger • USB and AV cables • Warranty card april 2010


te st

Casio EXILIM-Z90

Just a Little Performance Anxiety

38

The Casio EXILIM-Z90 has a number of creative scene modes, but does its performance match up? Neha Mutreja takes a closer look to find out if it is worth your money.

Weightage of parameters 10% 15% 15%

30%

30%

Features Performance Build Quality Ergonomics Warranty & Support Better Photography

W

ith every single day, camera companies are trying to make digital cameras not only handy, but also easy to use. Casio is no exception. The new Casio EXILIM-Z90 is a small and stylish compact camera that targets beginners and families who want a camera they can use, without bothering about too many settings.

Features This 12.1-megapixel camera has a 3x optical zoom lens and aims to appeal to its target audience by including as many as 32 scene modes. These modes include an Auto Best Shot mode, a function similar

to the Intelligent Auto mode found in other compact cameras. Casio has also highlighted its Intelligent AF mode, but it is actually quite similar to the regular multi-point AF found in other compact cameras. The only difference we found is that in this camera, this mode shows you a preview of the area being focused, without having to press the shutter-release button halfway. The camera also has AF tracking, which manages to focus on moving subjects rather well. The Dynamic Photo mode allows users to extract a subject from its background and then combine it with a new background. This mode, however, does not work as efficiently as it claims to and

What’s in the box • Casio EXILIM-Z90 camera • Li-Ion battery • Battery charger • AC Power cord • USB cable • Camera strap • AV cable • CD-ROM april 2010


test

40

Tokina AT-X DX 10–17mm f/3.5-4.5 Fisheye

An Exaggerated View Neha Mutreja tests the new Tokina AT-X DX 10–17mm f/3.5-4.5 Fisheye lens designed for cameras with smaller sensors, to see how it can help you get creative. Weightage of parameters 10% 15% 15%

30%

30%

Features Performance Build Quality Ergonomics Warranty & Support Better Photography

W

ith camera manufacturers bringing out only a limited number of fisheye lenses for cameras with APS-C sized sensors, it is always good to see an option from a third-party manufacturer. The Tokina AT-X DX 10–17mm f/3.5-4.5 Fisheye lens is the first fisheye zoom lens produced by Tokina, for Nikon and Canon mounts. We tested the Canon mount version by using the lens on a Canon EOS 30D.

Features An equivalent focal length of 16–27.2mm (in 35mm parlance), combined with fisheye

optics makes this lens give an extremely exaggerated perspective while shooting. It is ideal for shooting landscapes in which the horizon is not a part of the frame, or for special effects while shooting adventure sports like skateboarding where you can get a curve in your image. This Tokina lens is also more flexible than most other fisheye lenses, since it gives you the convenience of zoom. At 10mm, the 180° field-of-view fills the entire rectangular frame with a curvy, distorted view of the full scene in front of you. You can also shoot a curved image using the widest end of the focal range and then ‘correct’ the distortion using Ap r i l 2 0 1 0


Sho ot ing T echniq ue

BetterPictures

56

On Nature’s Trail Ambarin Afsar helps you make great pictures in your friendly, neighbourhood nature park and even in a forest.

M

ost of you must have gone for walks early in the morning. Remember feeling refreshed and rejuvenated? Nature has that calming effect on you. Simply walking around and taking in nature is a wonderful, soothing experience. Better Photography

Interestingly, there is a great photo opportunity lurking in every walk too. Photographing nature is a wonderful antidote for all kinds of stress, as we hurry through our fast-paced lives. Regardless of whether you are in a neighbourhood park or in a thousand-acre forest, you will see a april 2010


Shooting Technique

On Assignment

Digital technique

Extreme Weather Photo opportunities during ‘bad’ weather

Trees at Night Canopies and tree patterns in street light

Quick Fixes for Better Skies In Adobe Lightroom

62

72

76

Different times of the day will give you differently toned skies. This tree is framed by a warm, yellow, evening sky. april 2010

Better Photography

Jeff Hire

57


Sho ot ing T echniq ue

62

Extreme Weather

Samira Pillai tells you why you should not put your camera away when you come across ‘bad’ weather conditions and how you can shoot stunning images despite the challenges.

W

hen the weather begins to look menacing, instead of seeking the warmth and protection of your home or car, set out and brave those conditions. You will be rewarded with dramatic pictures. Better Photography

Heavy rain, cold, mist, snow, hail and storms alter the quality of light and shadows. They affect the colours in a scene, and generally create a strong mood. We explore how seemingly bad weather conditions offer the perfect ingredients for excellent pictures. Ap r i l 2 0 1 0


Sho o t ing T echnique

Dust and sandstorms are common in certain regions, especially near deserts, and create a sense of drama in the image. Exposure: 1/640sec at f/5 (ISO 100) Ap r i l 2 0 1 0

Better Photography

Barun Kumar Datta

63


Sho ot ing T echniq ue

68

Better Photography

Ap r i l 2 0 1 0


Sho o t ing T echnique

Practice Session Local sporting events give you the perfect opportunity to hone your photographic skills. Neha Mutreja tells you how you can come back with amazing action shots from such events. amazing photographs with the most basic equipment!

Exploit the Scale of the Event The venue of the sports event is always chaotic and lively. But when you are covering a local sports event, it tends to be less crowded. This will give you ample time and space to move around and scout for appropriate vantage points.

69

Observing and anticipating a moment will help you shoot perfect action shots just like this one. Exposure: 1/250sec at f/8 (ISO 3200) Ap r i l 2 0 1 0

Better Photography

Raj Lalwani

P

hotographers interested in fast action photography usually have ambitions to cover largescale national or international level sporting events. However, local and regional sports provide the perfect base to experiment, practise and develop the skills necessary for this genre of photography. By using the following simple ideas, you can learn to shoot


o n a s s i g nm e n t

72

Better Photography

april 2010


o n a s s i g nm e n t

73

Trees at Night Raj Lalwani sets out in the night and gazes upwards, to capture the world of trees in a different light.

S

tand beneath a tree, and observe the world created by that tree. It towers on you, with its leaves bright and fresh and its branches and twigs growing in all kinds of directions. I continue to be spellbound by the mood created by trees. Their subtle differences in size and structure can excite, intrigue, give a feeling of joy or even create an ominous feel that is full of drama—more so, when you observe them at night. april 2010

My Assignment Description To capture dark, moody photographs of trees bathed in streetlight and moonlight.

Duration It is work in progress—I have been working on the project since November 2009.

Notes The quantity of light is not important; the quality is. Use the play of light and shadow in your images.

A tripod helped me capture maximum detail. Its adjustable height also helped me shoot from different vantage points. Exposure: 30sec at f/11 (ISO 400)

Better Photography


Prof i l e

ShowCase

90

By using a flashbulb parked in the far corner of the dance floor, Seshu was able to capture this magical moment. Better Photography

april 2010


Great masters

WPOY 2009 NOMINees

Photofeature

Reza The touchingstory of this educator

A showcase of the top 6 nominations

Harish Tyagi Profile Colour & Chaos in Barsana

98

104

112

91

The Storyteller

A willingness to experiment is what makes Seshu different from other wedding photographers. He unveils his secrets to Neha Mutreja.

H

ow would you feel if you were sandwiched between an eager bride and an anticipant groom exchanging garlands? This is exactly where Seshu found himself at one wedding ceremony. For him, standing at the centre of that moment was april 2010

a matter of great joy as he enjoys shooting images right where the action is taking place. His job is to click fleeting moments artistically for a bride, groom and their families to cherish for generations to come. Seshu is not only a wedding photographer. He is also a documentary

Seshu

• Before he took up professional photography, Seshu wanted to be a history professor. • Seshu believes that the dancing areas at weddings can give you the most photographic opportunities. • Currently he is working on a project called Mavens of Music. It is a collection of portraits of India’s leading Hindustani and Carnatic classical musicians. Better Photography


98

Buzkashi is an intense game that is played in northern Afghanistan. It was played since the Zoroastrian era for more than 2000 years. Better Photography

Ap r i l 2 0 1 0


99

Ali Khaligh

Reza

Famed photographer and educator, Reza, has dedicated his life to portraying truth and humanity. Neha Mutreja pieces together his touching, inspirational story. Ap r i l 2 0 1 0

Better Photography


History

A Room With a View Ambarin Afsar looks through the window of the ages to retrace the development of viewfinders.

180 Dan McCormack

W

hen you compose your frame, what do you do first? You look through the viewfinder. It is like looking out of the window from your room, except here, the view changes each time you take a look. The viewfinder is just that—a window in the camera that helps you frame a view or a scene. The very act of looking through a viewfinder is very personal as it gives you a sense of ownership over the view.

The Early Viewfinders

The humble little window known as the viewfinder is responsible for much of photography as we know it today. Better Photography

Back in the 16th century, the camera obscura had a pinhole through which light entered a darkened room. This pinhole was probably one of the early applications of the concept of a viewfinder. The first actual viewfinder was developed alongwith the Box camera and the View camera or the Bellows camera in the mid-1800s. In these cameras, a piece of ground glass was inserted in the back of the camera and the lens was opened to its widest aperture. The image projected on

This is a mirrored and upside down image as seen from the ground glass viewfinder of a Graphlex Crown Graphic camera. the ground glass was a ‘real image’, that is, it was upside down and backwards. A photographer had to focus and compose using this projection. To see the image better, an overhead dark cloth was used to block out light. In fact, this is how the the iconic image of a photographer with his head stuck under a large black cloth came into being.

Need for Speed In the 1920s and later, as the camera began to move from the studio into news and sports photography, a quicker method of viewing was needed. News photography required speed and results. So, most press reporters and photographers started using portable View cameras or Press cameras. Cameras like the Makina Plaubel and the Graflex Speed Graphic started coming equipped with an open rectangular wireframe through which one could observe a scene. This was the first device made for quick direct eye-level viewing and was known as the wireframe viewfinder. It came equipped with wire crosshair and a peephole to help the april 2010


History

Without a good eye-level viewfinder, shooting action, sports or even the family photo would be a difficult task.

photographer position his eye. Though this type of viewing was convenient as the eye was unable to focus simultaneously on the distant scene as well as the thin metal wire of the frame.

Better Focussing The period between 1928–35 saw important milestones in the development of viewfinders, namely the Rolleiflex Twin Lens Reflex camera (TLR) and the Leica II rangefinder cameras. The TLR had a waist-level groundglass viewfinder and two separate lenses—one for viewing and focussing, and the other for taking pictures. Both the lenses were connected, making this a ‘through the lens’ viewfinder or a finder that saw what the lens was seeing. The focus and the image shown on the finder was exactly the same as on the film. On the other hand, the rangefinder camera used a direct eye-level viewfinder. In this type of camera, the viewfinder came coupled with a rangefinder to achieve sharply focussed images. The TLR and the rangefinder camera both tried to gauge focus accurately to achieve well-defined images. For example, a rangefinder would find the range or the distance of the subject for focusing. While it did this, one could see a ghost image in the viewfinder overlapping

the actual scene. Once both images merged, the subject would be in perfect focus. However, in the case of a TLR, one could see elements moving in and out of focus in the viewfinder, as focus was established.

Upright Images The images projected on the groundglass viewfinders were mirrored and upside down. This was a tedious viewing experience and soon, the need for a better viewing experience arose. This led to the first 35mm pentaprism SLR. The historic East Germany Contax S, made in 1949, was the first SLR to use a pentaprism and a mirror to get an upright image. The most recent development is that of the Electronic Viewfinder (EVF), which came after the invention of DSLRs. It is a tiny LCD panel that shows the image seen by the CCD. It is housed inside a protected chamber for unaffected viewing of images. The humble little window known as the viewfinder is responsible for much of photography as we know it today. Its significance is on par with built-in metering or autofocus. Without a good eye-level viewfinder, shooting action, sports or even the family snapshot would be a difficult task. Without a window to the world, where would we be? 

181

Different Types of Viewfinders Through the Ages

Simple Viewfinders

Wireframe Viewfinders

Waist-level Viewfinders

Rangefinders (RF)

Pentaprism Viewfinders

Electronic Viewfinders (EVF)

These were simple viewfinders that involved the use of a mirror to direct the view to the viewfinder located on the top of the camera. Shown here is a Kodak Brownie 2A which revolutionised picture-making trends from 1900–1930.

Used in press cameras, these were open rectangular wireframes through which one could observe a scene. These were the first devices made for quick direct eyelevel viewing. Shown here is the Busch Pressman Model D 4x5 Camera.

These were used in TLRs and older medium format cameras. As the name suggests, these viewfinders needed to be held at waist- level and required the photographer to peer downwards. Shown here is a Mamiya C330 TLR.

Modern rangefinder cameras have RF coupled to the focusing mechanism, so that the lens is focused correctly when the RF images fuse and helped measure the distance to the subject. Shown here is the Leica II rangefinder camera.

These made use of a pentaprism and a mirror to present an upright image. Shown here is the historic East Germany Contax S, the first 35mm pentaprism SLR, made in 1949. Modern DSLR viewfinders are based on this technology.

The use of electronic viewfinders allows for realtime viewing and relatively ‘instant’ playback, much like an LCD. Shown here is the Olympus E-P2 with its clip-on EVF. EVFs can show how the scene will look, under the chosen exposure.

april 2010

Better Photography


Better Photography April 2010 Issue Preview