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Photo magazine of the year! Issue 35 • August 2014 www.nphotomag.com

Zoom Zoom! Eight low-cost Nikon-fit telephoto lenses on test – we pick the best

get more from your camera

Take control of

The no.1 magazine for

Nikon user s!

your Nikon Shooting in manual mode is simple – learn when, how and why to do it!

skills

technique

Lenses for landscapes Find out how changing your lens

lightroom photo fixes Six essential adjustments to apply to every image p48

can change your perspective p42

0n test

Photo printers We review and rate six top-end A3+ printers p106 Nature photographY

I sold everything, even my filters. I gave myself two weeks on eBay to get shot of the lot. Then I walked into Calumet and spent £16,000 on Nikon gear! Ross Woodhall, action photographer p78

Nikon skills

Student fashion, bugs and landscapes p41

BE inspired

Amazing shots from fellow Nikon fans p20

puffin power

Don’t wing it with your bird shots! Get top tips from a pro p8

Bags of choice Carry your camera equipment in style p103


5

ways to GET even more OUT OF N-PHOTO

Welcome to issue 35 of…

1 Online… Catch up with Nikon news, get inspired & learn new skills

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ABOUT THE COVER

Title Spring Colours Photographer George Papapostolou Home Greece Camera Nikon D610 Lens Nikon 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Exposure 1/60 sec at f/11, ISO500 Description George shot into the low evening sun to capture this beautiful image of a poppy field, applying finishing touches in Lightroom and Photoshop. Website www.gpapapostolou.com

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■ The auto-exposure system in my Nikon D-SLR is very clever – sometimes too clever! Most of the time I can just choose one of the camera’s automatic exposure modes and fire away, leaving the camera to work to the shutter speed, lens aperture or both. But this doesn’t always give me the results you want, so I’m left wresting with metering modes, EV compensation and the exposure lock button as I try to second-guess and then correct what the camera is trying to do. So there comes a point (sooner rather than later, with me) where I just say “hang it!” and switch to manual mode. Your Nikon’s exposure settings might look complicated, but the principles are actually quite simple, and you can start to get the exposures you want rather than having to rely on the camera’s best guess. And that’s the subject for this month’s main feature: ‘The Manual on Manual’. There are lots of times when shooting in manual mode is smarter and more reliable than auto, and we show you when, why, and what to do about it! We’ve also got a great interview with action and lifestyle photographer Ross Woodhall, who has some great stories about his life on the ski slopes, and how he got started on his photographic career. If you thought turning pro took years of planning, training and investment, then you need to read this! Ross’s pro lenses are probably too expensive for the rest of us, but if you’re interested in a more modestly-priced telephoto, see page 90.

Rod Lawton, Acting Editor rod.lawton@futurenet.com

Three great days! ■ Last year’s PhotoLive event, which gave you a chance to learn camera skills from some of

the biggest names in photography, was a massive success, so this year it’s coming to three cities: Leeds (23 August), Edinburgh (30 August) and London (6 September). Find out more and book your sessions online at www.photo-live.com


Issue 35

For more contents listings go to page 5

August 2014

20 78

26

Cover feature

The Manual on Manual

You don’t need your Nikon’s auto settings – we’re going to help you to take full control of your camera

Nikon Skills Take charge 42 of perspective 47 Share your point of view Master the essentials 48 50 Max those moths! 52 Set the trends 54 Cut out like a pro 56 Take Control in-camera

Nikopedia

Cover feature

Cover feature

The latest inspirational images from photographers around the world

Discover the effect your choice of lens has

Give people a window on your world: take images from a first-person perspective

In the UK but not subscribing yet? This smartphone trigger will tempt you!

Cover feature

Not sure where to start with Lightroom? Try these six essential tweaks

Give your macro lens a workout photographing moths and other bugs

Set up the backdrop and lights, and organise a fashion shoot in your own home

Master Elements’ Refine Edge tool and make high-quality cutouts with ease

Explore your Nikon’s Picture Controls and save your own ones for future use

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August 2014

Essentials Lightbox 20 38 UK subscriptions offer 58 Over to You 77 International subscriptions The N-Photo Interview 78 113 Next issue 114 My Best Shot Three photo stories packed with brilliant shots, plus all your rants and raves

68 Nikon Know-how

Worried about your memory? Let our guide to memory cards – what sorts there are, how they work, and which ones your Nikon can take – help you out

72 Nikon Software

Discover Nikon Capture NX-D’s selection of tonal adjustment tools, from highlight protection to Curves and Levels

74 Ask Chris

Got a Nikon-related question? Chris can help! This issue, which first D-SLR to choose, and what the letters on lenses mean

If you live outside the UK you can make a big saving on the cover price here

Cover feature

We look at the action-packed and glamorous world of Ross Woodhall

The good stuff doesn’t end with this issue – here’s something to look forward to Cricket specialist Patrick Eagar shares his Catch of a Lifetime…

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expert HANDS-ON video guideS When you see this button use this web link… http://bit.ly/NPhoto35 to view our online videos

08

Cover feature Get a masterclass in photographing sea birds from Chris Gomersall

90 Test Team 89 Pro Picks Big Test 90 Cover feature

Big on focal range but relatively small on price – find the lens that’ll get you closer for less in our roundup of eight budget telephoto zooms

Cover feature

02

03

Create Lightroom presets for favourite effects and save time

04

Take your camera for a dip and get gnarly shots of surfers

05

Use focus stacking to ensure sharp shots with no diffraction

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07

08

Find a colourful landscape and pan for a painterly effect

Add swirls of moody mist to a shot in Photoshop Elements

New Gear

Discover all the latest Nikon-fit kit, from portable studio lights to gimbal heads

Cover feature

Try spot metering for perfect exposure in tricky light conditions

97

Discover the Nikon setup used by Avon and Somerset Constabulary’s CSIs

102 106

01

Mini Test

When it comes to printing, every photographer needs to think big. We rate and compare six A3+ options with photos in mind

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103

106 Use in-camera HDR to Copy and paste capture detail in image adjustments THE VIDEOS AND INFORMATION PROVIDED ON THIS DISCusing ARE 100% INDEPENDENT AND NOT high-contrast situations Capture NX-D ENDORSED OR SPONSORED BY NIKON CORPORATION OR ADOBE SYSTEMS INCORPORATED

August 2014

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Our Apprentice hunts puffins on page 8. What are the team’s tips for photographing birds?

Print 23,929 Digital 6,767 The ABC combined print, digital and digital publication circulation for Jan-Dec 2013 is

30,696

A member of the Audited Bureau of Circulations

Rod Lawton Acting Editor | D300s

Miriam McDonald Operations Editor | D3100

Don’t stint on lenses. When you’re shooting quick creatures at a distance, top-quality glass, with a fast constant aperture, will pay dividends.

If you’re snapping seabirds, watch out for fulmars. They can vomit oil onto you from ten feet away, and if it hits your lens, you’ll never get it off…

Andrew Leung Art Editor | D5100

Siân Lewis Staff Writer | D3100

rod.lawton@futurenet.com

andrew.leung@futurenet.com

If you find an especially attractive location, set up your camera on a tripod and focus on that point, then wait for a bird to wander into shot.

Angela Nicholson Head of Testing | D7100 angela.nicholson@futurenet.com

When a long lens is mounted on the camera, use a mount ring and support the lens on the tripod, rather than the camera. It puts less strain on the mount.

miriam.mcdonald@futurenet.com

sian.lewis@futurenet.com

If you’re out on a sunny evening, shoot wild birds against the sky – use manual mode, as silhouettes are tricky for your camera to meter.

Chris George Contributor | D800 & D200 chris.george@futurenet.com

When photographing ducks and other wildfowl on the water, lie on the bank to get your lens to the level of the water for a more dramatic perspective.

N-Photo Magazine, Future Publishing 30 Monmouth Street, Bath BA1 2BW www.nphotomag.com Editorial mail@nphotomag.com +44 (0)1225 442244 Subscriptions and back issues +44 (0)1604 251 045 Or go to www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk/nphoto Rod Lawton Acting Editor Andrew Leung Art Editor Miriam McDonald Operations Editor Siân Lewis Staff Writer Angela Nicholson Head of Testing Ali Jennings Imaging Lab Manager Jeff Meyer Web Editor Video production Dan Burden, Pete Gray, Alun Pughe, Dan Read, Trevor Witt Advertising Sasha McGregor Advertising Sales Manager 01225 788186 sasha.mcgregor@futurenet.com Matt Bailey Senior Sales Executive 01225 732345 matt.bailey@futurenet.com Penny Stokes Senior Advertising Manager 01225 442244 penny.stokes@futurenet.com Management Matthew Pierce Head of Photography Nial Ferguson Managing Director Paul Newman Senior Editor Steve Gotobed Group Art Director Circulation and marketing Samantha Book Marketing Manager Alex Geary Marketing Executive Philippa Newman Group Marketing Manager Dan Foley Trade Marketing Manager Charlotte Lloyd-Williams Direct Marketing Executive Mark Constance Production Manager Tom Dennis Digital Product Editor Regina Erak Senior Licensing & Syndication Manager If you would like to purchase images featured in N-Photo, email mediastore@futurenet.com

This issue’s special contributors… Claire Gillo

■ Come face-to-face with moths in Claire’s tutorial on how to shoot insects using a macro lens. Page 50

Chris Rutter

■ Explore Picture Controls and learn the basics of customising your own with Chris’ guide. Page 56

Chris Gomersall

■ Chris gives this issue’s Apprentice a masterclass in shooting some ever-lovable puffins this issue. Page 8

Patrick Eagar

■ For decades Patrick has captured action on cricket pitches worldwide… but which shot is his finest? Page 114

Ross Woodhall

■ Lucky Ross has made a career shooting the things he loves. He talks about work on and off the slopes on page 78.

Keith Wilson

■ Keith had a sporty month, interviewing Ross Woodhall and discussing Patrick Eagar’s best shot. Pages 78 & 114

Robin Savage

■ You’re sure to be moved by Robin’s portraits of surviving D-Day veterans returning to Normandy. Page 60

Matthew Richards

■ If you’re looking for a telephoto lens, reading Matthew’s roundup could save you a bit of money. Page 90

Our contributors Ben Andrews, Roger Charles, Rana Dias, Brian Dobson, John Hastings, Jay Hunjan, Ali Jennings, Karen Lewis, Andy McLaughlin, Mike McNally, George Papapostolou, James Paterson, Gerd Pischl, Robin Savage, Martin Smith, Les Thomas Special thanks to… Avon and Somerset Constabulary, Bath & North-East Somerset Council, Bath Film Office, Bath Spa University School of Art and Design (Fashion Design), Bristol Film Office, National Botanic Garden of Wales

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August 2014

Printed in the UK by William Gibbons and Sons Ltd, on behalf of Future. Distributed by Seymour Distribution Ltd, 2 East Poultry Avenue, London EC1A 9PT. Tel 020 7429 4000. Printed in England. All information contained in this magazine is for informational purposes only and is, to the best of our knowledge, correct at the time of going to press. Future Publishing Limited cannot accept any responsibility for errors or inaccuracies that occur. Readers are advised to contact manufacturers and retailers direct with regard to pricing.

N-Photo is an independent publication and is not in any way authorised, affiliated, nor sponsored by Nikon. All the opinions expressed herein are those of the magazine and not that of Nikon. Nikon, NIKKOR and all associated trademarks are the property of Nikon Corporation. All submissions to N-Photo magazine are made on the basis of a licence to publish the submission in N-Photo magazine, its licensed editions worldwide and photography-related websites. Any material submitted is sent at the owner’s risk and, although every care is taken, neither Future Publishing Limited nor its agents shall be liable for loss or damage. © Future Publishing Limited 2014. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be used or reproduced without the written permission of the publisher.

We are committed to only using magazine paper which is derived from well managed, certified forestry and chlorine-free manufacture. Future Publishing and its paper suppliers have been independently certified in accordance with the rules of the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council).

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THE

Name Les Thomas Camera Nikon D800 ■ Les got the photography bug in his 20s, after visiting the Norfolk Broads with his first FED film camera. Since moving to Lancashire from Cornwall he’s had more time for his photography and his family (whose latest member, granddaughter Abigail, was born while Les was photographing puffins with N-Photo!). He loves to capture the birds that flock to his back garden and wrote to us to ask for tutelage taking shots of something more challenging. So we invited him along to the Farne Islands with wildlife pro Chris Gomersall to meet the locals…

Name Chris Gomersall Camera Nikon D4s ■ Chris is one of the UK’s best-known wildlife photographers, with a 30-year track record working as everything from a nature reserve warden to the in-house photographer for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). He’s now a freelance pro photographing wildlife on commissions from the WWF, BBC Wildlife and others. He’s been using Nikon gear since the beginning and now runs Nikon’s wildlife training schools as well as his own workshops all over the world, but he’s still got a soft spot for Britain’s wild island birds. www.chrisgomersall.co.uk

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August 2014


Seabird masterclass

FLYING

high

Every issue we pair up an N-Photo reader with a top Nikon pro for a special one-on-one masterclass. This is the story of their day together. This is the N-Photo Apprentice‌ August 2014

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THE

APPRENTICE

Exposure 1/1000 sec, f/6.3, ISO800 Lens Nikon AF 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED VR

the pro’s Killer Kit #01 plant pot lens hood Chris says… I had a small accident with my Nikon lens hood! I’m waiting for a replacement part at the moment, but I really needed a temporary stand-in for this trip so I decided to have a go at fashioning a lens hood from a black plant pot. You can pick them up for a pound/dollar at your local garden centre. I simply cut the bottom off and slotted it on the end of the lens, and it works really well at reducing lens flare. I’m quite tempted to keep it…

OUR APPRENTICE says… We got stuck straight into flight shots when we arrived on Staple Island, the first location of the day. The light was good and the puffins were zipping about over our heads with mouths full of sand eels. I wasn’t sure how to set up my D800 to freeze the birds mid-flight but Chris talked me through which settings to use and explained how to prefocus before each attempt. The more shots we took, the more decent images I captured of each flight, but I really like this one – the puffin’s head is sharp but there’s a hint of movement in the wings and there’s plenty of space for him to fly into, with the out-of-focus cliffs and other bird in the background hinting at his environment.

Good vibrations

Chris’ top tip is to switch your lens’ Vibration Reduction (VR) off when using a shutter speed of over 1/500 sec. This may sound counterintuitive, but at that speed your shutter will be fast enough to eradicate any camera shake and you’ll speed up the autofocus ability.

Hot Shot #01

Get the blinkies

Les doesn’t usually check his histogram. However, Chris suggested he enable both the RBG histogram and Highlights warning in his D800’s playback menu so that he could quickly check if his exposure settings were working well.

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August 2014

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Seabird masterclass

Lenses to go

Both Chris and Les used telephoto zoom lenses on this trip to the Farne islands. It’s essential if you want to get closeup shots of wild birds without frightening them, especially at a time of year when they’re nesting. A good zoom range meant Les was able to take a wide range of shots, from portraits to ones of birds in flight or set in their wider environments.

expert insight focus! ■ A beautiful portrait shot and a dynamic flight shot are two very different things, so Chris gave Les a mini masterclass on flight shots before they started shooting. Les switched his shooting mode to Ch or Continuous High mode, giving him a frame rate of 4 shots a second – and more chance to capture the perfect pose. He also switched to AF-C mode and used back-button focusing, a sports photography trick which means that the camera is continually refocusing. Chris and Les watched the puffins overhead

until they’d spotted a regular flight path and then got into position. Chris recommends prefocusing on the ground or an object that’s a similar distance away before each bird turns up to ensure sharp shots.

August 2014

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the pro’s Killer Kit #02 Binoculars Chris says…

A wildlife photography essential. Mine are Nikon’s Porro prism 10x42 SE model. Other pro photographers seem to have big, heavy binoculars hanging round their necks these days, but I prefer something lightweight, and these don’t compromise on quality. I use them to spot wildlife from the boat before landing, or to check if there are dolphins near the coast. Nikon doesn’t make the 10x42 SE any more, but you can still find them for sale on eBay, or the RSPB has a great pair of beginnerfriendly 10x42 glasses for £135/230.

Hot Shot #02

OUR APPRENTICE says… We stepped away from puffins for a while to shoot some of the other wild birds nesting on Staple Island. This shag was sitting on its nest and protecting its newborn chicks, so it was quite defensive when we got close. I waited for it to open its mouth wide and used a shallow depth of field to isolate it against the cliffs, focusing on the glint in its green eye, which really pops against the yellow beak. I like how much detail there is in the shag’s feathered chest, and Chris’ tips really helped me get the right exposure.

Tri or don’t tri?

Les wasn’t sure when to use his tripod and when to ditch it. Chris uses his tripod and gimbal head for flight shots and when taking closeups of birds in a fairly fixed position, switching to handheld when he needs to be more responsive and quick to react, such as when fast-moving puffins are popping in and out of their burrows.

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August 2014

Look sharp

In both bird portraits and flight shots, the right focus is key. Keep the bird’s eye sharp for a wellfocused portrait. Chris also makes sure that his puffins’ iconic colourful bills are in focus too, especially if they’ve got a mouthful of sand eels.

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Seabird masterclass

TECHNIQUE ASSESSMENT Before they got ready to find some puffins to pose for them, Chris checked that Les was all set up and ready to take some great bird portraits.

Camera setup

Chris says: We tweaked a few of Les’ basic settings to get better results instantly. First he changed to shooting in 14-bit RAW, which takes up more space on your memory card but gives a little extra tonal and colour range. Les had his picture control set to Vivid. This is usually used for things like fashion shoots, so he switch back to neutral, as you can always increase colours in post-production.

Exposure compensation

Chris says: Birds with black-and-white plumage can be an exposure nightmare. Check the histogram and make sure you’re keeping detail in the pale feathers – when shooting in sunshine you might need to underexpose by up to two stops. Under overcast skies you can over-expose by 0.3-0.7 stops .

Dynamic area autofocus Exposure 1/125 sec, f/5.6, ISO800 Lens Nikon AF 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED VR

the pro’s Killer Kit #03 Shower cap Chris says… Using a shower cap to protect your Nikon from the rain is an old bit of wildlife photography folklore that actually works. I always steal them from hotels and keep a few in my kit bag for when the weather changes. If it starts to pour down when you’re on a shoot you can easily slide the shower cap over the back of the camera, and it’ll work in conjunction with your lens cover to keep everything dry. You can still use the buttons on the back of the camera through the thin plastic, and you can even look through the viewfinder at

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Chris says: Birds aren’t as patient as human models, and may still move around a bit when you’re framing up a portrait. Dynamic area autofocus is a good choice for keeping your chosen puffin in focus if it’s shuffling about or moving erratically. On Les’s D800 you can select different numbers of autofocus points, such as D9 or D21, for your camera to work with.

the pro’s kit

a push. There are more expensive, purpose-made camera covers available in shops, but I don’t mind improvising with a freebie.

Chris totes around his D4s with a D300 as a backup body. His go-to lens is the Nikon 200-400mm f/4 II super zoom lens and he’s also got the following things in his kit bag: ■ Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8 ED VR II ■ Nikon AF-S 105mm f/2.8 macro ■ Nikon AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8G ED ■ Nikon TC-14E II 1.4x teleconverter

August 2014

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THE

APPRENTICE

Exposure 1/200 sec, f/10, ISO200 Lens Nikon AF 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED VR

OUR APPRENTICE says… After spending the morning on Staple Island we caught the boat to Inner Farne. We’d seen puffins in flight and scurrying in and out of their burrows on Staple Island but we had more luck with portrait shots here, as there was a big flock of puffins hanging out on a cliffside. Chris told me these were off-duty birds loafing about, and they were much easier to photograph as they weren’t rushing about looking after their eggs. I waited for one with a mouthful of sand eels to perch in a clear space on the boulders, and got down low to frame him nicely against the rocks and the grass.

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August 2014

Group shot

Don’t just concentrate on single puffins – shots of groups and pairs look great too, and showing how the birds interact in the environment adds a nice reportage feel to your shots. Switch to a narrower aperture, such as f/11, to get pairs or a whole line of birds in focus.

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Seabird masterclass

Hot Shot #03

the pro’s Killer Kit #04 Waterproof lens cover

pro portfolio

CHRIS’S FAVOURITE SHOTS Chris Gomersall picks some of his best images of his favourite feathered subjects

St Cuthbert’s Chapel

Chris says… This camouflage sleeve is from Wildlife Watching Supplies, which stocks a range of designs for different Nikon-fit lenses for around £35/$60 each. It’s waterproof and easy to pop over your glass in a sudden downpour. You could always make your own out of waterproof material, but I like these because they have Velcro slits that allow you to fix your lens to a tripod easily, and they’re adjustable to fit snugly around your camera body.

I shot this picture on Inner Farne, one of the islands I took Les to for this feature. I was standing next to the 14th century chapel when a puffin suddenly appeared at the window! He posed behind the leaded panes for me for a few seconds before a warden appeared to shoo him out again.

Don’t just concentrate on single puffins – shots of groups and pairs look great too Puffin place

Include elements of the environment in the shot – as puffins live in burrows, a classic shot is to show them popping out of grass or flowers. Chris suggests framing up a shot and then waiting for a puffin to turn up.

Fair Isle

I caught a boat to Fair Isle one afternoon and wandered into a puffin colony in the late evening light. This composition just presented itself – I love the out-of-focus bird in the foreground echoing the backlit puffin at the back.

Sea Pink flowers

This image is from Sumburgh Head in Shetland. I found this cliff covered in pink blooms and decided that all it needed in it to be a fantastic shot was a puffin. I set up my camera in the position I wanted, and then waited for hours for this little guy to pop his head out of his burrow.

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August 2014

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THE

APPRENTICE

OUR APPRENTICE says… This shot of an Arctic Tern was taken right at the end of the day. I felt by then that I was getting comfortable taking portrait shots, and I was opting for an aperture of around f/5.6, a shutter speed of roughly 1/400 sec and tweaking the ISO slightly for each different location. We’d packed up our kit and were walking back to the boat when I saw this grumpy tern squawking angrily, so I got my Nikon back out for a final snap. I focused on his bright eyes and Chris suggested I crop the shot as a portrait, which really improved the final result.

EXPERT INSIGHT Know your location ■ The Farne Islands lie off the coast of Northumberland and are owned and looked after by the National Trust. Chris has been coming here in search of puffins, guillemots and dolphins for years. A few boat companies operate from Seahouses, the village on the mainland – we took Billy Shiel’s full day trip (www.farne-islands.com) to travel to Staple Island and Inner Farne, the two islands on which visitors are allowed. A day’s boat trip costs £36 per person, and there’s also a National Trust charge of £6.80 on each island in high season. The islands are open to visitors from 1 April-31 October. Other locations to find puffins in the summer include Skomer in Wales and Fair Isle in Scotland.

All aboard

You can’t just walk around anywhere you like on the Farne Islands, as the ground is full of puffin burrows, which could easily collapse if stepped on. Instead, there’s a grid of boardwalks all over the island. It makes it a little harder to get up close to the birds but it does give you somewhere convenient to set up your camera and wait.

the pro’s Killer Kit #05 Wimberley Mark II gimbal head Chris says… The Wimberley Head is a specialised tripod head for telephoto lenses, with a gimbal-type design which allows you to rotate your lens. This is the original, although there are lots of copies about. It’s not cheap at £520/$595, but it’s an essential for wildlife pros, as it’s super-smooth moving, so you can pan, balance the camera or lock it in place. Perfect for stills and action shots, it makes even hefty lenses feel weightless.

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August 2014

Angry Birds: the real-life experience!

It’s best to have a hat on when you visit Inner Farne – the Arctic Terns are aggressive in breeding season and will try their best to peck you on the head.

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MountainSeabird biking masterclass

Hot Shot #04

Exposure 1/400 sec, f/5.6, ISO640 Lens Nikon AF 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED VR

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August 2014

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the final assessment… ■ At the end of our day’s shooting we got the boat back to the mainland again. While everyone enjoyed a much-needed cup of tea, Chris looked through all Les’ photos and chose his favourites. There was an obvious candidate for Shot of the Day – this lovely image, which really captures the cheeky personality of these popular little seabirds.

OUR APPRENTICE says… We’d taken lots of classic puffin shots all day and I was really pleased with the ones I’d got, but I was still hunting for a shot that really showed off the character of these charismatic little birds – they’re so much fun to watch! This one wandered into my frame in the early afternoon and posed for a while before suddenly turning head-on and puffing out his chest for us. I got down really low to frame him with some blurred sea campion in the foreground, which leads you into the shot. Diffused light through some cloud that had gathered helped with my exposure, and there’s a lot of detail in the plumage on his wings.

OUR PRO’S verdict This photograph really captured my attention, as there’s great symmetry to it, thanks to the way the puffin is standing. It’s a little different to your standard posed wildlife shot, and I like the burrowing marks all over the puffin’s chest – these traces of soil tell you a little more of a story about the bird’s behaviour, so it’s a great shot from a wildlife fan’s point of view, too. The wide aperture Les opted for helps the puffin stand out in his environment, and he’s perfectly in focus with a really nice clarity to the detail on his wings and face. Great job, Les!

SHOT OF THE DAY!

Next month Capturing character Puffins aren’t the only subjects with personality. Next issue’s Apprentice heads into the studio with the celebrity-snapping Poole brothers for a masterclass in portraits with personality.

ON SALE 31 July 2014 18

August 2014

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Seabird masterclass

Exposure 1/400 sec, f/5.6, ISO400 Lens Nikon AF 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED VR

Would you like to be our next apprentice? Do you want to take your photography to the next level and learn first-hand from a top-flight pro? If you’d like a chance of being our next N-Photo Apprentice, let us know what you’d like help shooting and your full contact details. Email mail@nphotomag.com, with ‘Apprentice’ as the subject line, or fill in this form…

Name.............................................................................................................. ………………….. Address................................................................................................................................. Tel no...................................................................................................................................... Email...................................................................................................................................... Camera................................................................................................................................. I’d like help shooting........................................................................................................

Return this form to… The Apprentice, N-Photo Magazine, 30 Monmouth Street, Bath BA1 2BW, United Kingdom

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August 2014

19


Be inspired by six pages of stunning images from fellow Nikon users


01 Danny MacAskill Fred Murray, UK

This is professional street trials rider Danny MacAskill, pictured during the shooting of his latest Red Bull film in the ‘ghost town’ of Epecuen in Argentina. The town was flooded in 1985 when a saltwater lake burst its banks. As the line Danny had been filming was in the bag, I got some time to set up a shot as the sun was going down. Two Einstein E640 lights were triggered with a PocketWizard FlexTT5 and MC-2s; due to the salty flood water, the trees and rubble are coated with a hard white residue that’s accentuated by the cold flash temperature.

Nikon D4, Nikon AF 80-200mm f/2.8D ED, 1/320 sec, f/3.5, ISO400


02 Aztec

Roger Charles, UK

This was a spur-of-the-moment image. My model had bought this necklace with her and I thought it was cool. I suggested to my makeup artist that we should do this style of makeup. We wrapped the model’s hair around one of my dog’s tennis balls! I used a three-light setup, with Bowens Gemini 500Rs fitted with strip light softboxes at each side and my Mola Demi 22-inch beauty dish on another Gemini 500R as my main light. I also placed a reflector under the model.

Nikon D7000, Nikon AF-S DX 17-55mm f/2.8G ED-IF, 1/200 sec, f/11, ISO100 MODEL: Romanie Smith, MAKEUP: Kia Davitt, RETOUCHING: Roger Charles, HAIR: Susannah Smith, ASSISTANT: Rebecca Williams


Inspirational images

LIGHTBOX

03 What’s this? Brian Dobson, UK

I was walking on the beach with my Polish Lowland Sheepdog, Kassia, when she started staring at the water rippling on the sand. With the camera hanging round my neck I bent down to get a really low angle, and manually activated the flash as I was shooting into the sun – this captured all the detail in the sand, and gives Kassia’s coat a wonderful 3D look.

Nikon D80, Nikon AF-S 10-24mm f3.5-4.5G ED, 1/200 sec, f/10, ISO100

04 Curious Tabby Rana Dias, UK

It was a beautiful sunny day and there was quite a strong ambient light in our living room. Tabby was staring, intrigued by a dazzling reflection that was falling on the ceiling, and I had the opportunity to capture this rare portrait.

Nikon D700, Sigma 150mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro, 1/250 sec, f/3.2, ISO400

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05 Alleinstehend Gerd Pischl, Austria

The photo was taken on a windy day in Burgenland, Austria. My intention was to document an incomparable countryside. I also wanted to illustrate the dynamic of the wind. I had only a brief moment to capture the scene because the wind direction changed fairly quickly and a few moments later, a photo like this, of a single poppy tenderly rocked in the grainfield by the wind, would not have been possible. My only Photoshop work was to adjust the contrast and sharpness and to correct the colours.

Nikon D70, Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.4G, 1/8000 sec, f/1.4, ISO200

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Special feature

The TheManual ManualononManual Manual

Are you ready to go it alone? Using your Nikon in manual mode will release its true potential – and it’s easier than you think anual mode is massively important, even today. Nikon D-SLRs have highly sophisticated metering systems and automated exposure controls, but they still can’t replace the thought processes and photographic knowledge inside your own head. Smart as they are, digital SLRs are only guessing. They can’t cope with every extreme of lighting conditions and they can’t always anticipate the kind of overall effect you’re trying to achieve in your picture. The biggest drawback to auto-exposure is also the least obvious:

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the camera will rethink the exposure for every shot you take, even when the lighting conditions haven’t changed at all. Manual mode gives you a consistency and predictability you just don’t get with your Nikon’s auto-exposure modes. The latter certainly have their place, but when you want total control, manual is the way to go. It’s not even difficult to use. The only hard part is remembering that you’re the one who has to make the shutter speed, aperture and ISO adjustments, not the camera. So join us as we explore the power and potential of your Nikon’s manual mode…

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Image: Chris Rutter

The Manual on Manual

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EXPOSURE 6 sec, f/22,feature ISO50 Special LENS Nikon 17-35mm f/2.8

The Manual on Manual

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GIVE YOUR LANDSCAPE A boost Manual mode puts you right back in control of scenic shots

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andscape photography is an opportunity to slow down, think, and get every element of your scene in perfect harmony. Your camera may make a fairly good estimate of the required exposure on its own, but if you’re going to the trouble of setting up a tripod and unpacking your filters, it’s worth taking charge of the exposure settings too, because the best results often take a little time to achieve. For a start, the sky is often a lot brighter than the landscape itself, and if you leave it to the camera to work out what to do, you’ll either get an underexposed picture or the sky will be completely blown out. This is why landscape photographers rely heavily on neutral-density (ND) graduated filters. These are clear at the bottom and dark at the top, and you position

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them in front of the lens so that the darkened part is over the sky. You can still use the camera’s autoexposure modes when you’ve got a graduated filter fitted on the lens, but the results are not always predictable. It’s better to switch to manual mode and then set the exposure yourself so you can be sure that the foreground will come out properly. You can use the camera’s spot metering mode for this, or simply point the camera towards an area of ground. Next, you need to choose a graduated filter that’s strong enough to bring the brightness of the sky back under control – you don’t change the exposure settings at all. This is the method used by the experts because it’s reliable, predictable and, once you get into the swing of it, really straightforward to do.

If you’re going to the trouble of setting up a tripod, you’ve got time to take charge of the exposure settings too

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Image: Chris Rutter

The Manual on Manual

key concept Make sense of manual Manual exposure sounds complex, but it’s actually rather simple ■ Your Nikon D-SLR uses three key exposure settings: shutter speed, lens aperture and ISO (sensitivity), and the settings have been designed in a very clever way – you can balance one against another. If you want to use a faster shutter speed, you can increase the lens aperture setting. This allows more light through to compensate for the shorter exposure. Alternatively, if the light is too dim for the shutter speed you want to use, and you’re already using the lens’s maximum aperture, you can increase the ISO setting to compensate for the dimmer light.

Shutter speed

Lens aperture

1 sec

f/5.6

2 secs

f/8

4 secs

f/16

8 secs

f/22

An exposure of eight seconds at an aperture of f/22 was used to blur the water in this picture, but this was only one of a number of possible shutter speed and aperture combinations for the same exposure – others are shown above.

1 Shutter speed The shutter speed controls how long the shutter stays open – the length of the exposure. Exposures are cumulative. If you double the time the shutter stays open, you double the exposure.

2 Lens aperture The aperture is an adjustable diaphragm inside the lens which changes the amount of light passing through. If you double the size of the aperture, you double the amount of light and double the exposure.

3 ISO (sensitivity) You can also increase the camera’s sensitivity to light. This method of increasing the exposure is not ideal because it increases the digital noise in the image, but it can be useful in poor light.

when to lock down The exposure

There are times when you don’t want the exposure to change…

IMAGE ANALYSIS 1 If you use a graduated filter to darken the sky, working out the exposure manually is simpler 2 You can check the exposure in different parts of the scene to decide on the best settings 3 Using a small lens aperture has allowed a long exposure time (shutter speed) to blur the water

Landscape photographers also like to blur moving water with a long exposure, which often means using an ND filter. These are evenly dark all over. You need to measure the exposure without the filter, add the filter and then apply a fixed correction. You have to do this in manual mode, because the filter will be too strong for the camera’s light meter to get an automatic reading once it’s fitted. Finally, most landscapes need maximum depth of field, or near-to-far sharpness, which means using a small lens aperture. In manual mode it’s easy – you simply balance the smaller aperture with a longer exposure.

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■ This panoramic image was created by stitching together a series of overlapping images. For this process to work it’s essential that the exposure doesn’t change, even if the lighting varies across the frames.

■ This HDR (high dynamic range) photo is a composite of three different exposures. For this to be effective, they have to be controlled manually, with precise exposure differences between each one.

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EXPOSURE 1/320 sec, feature f/4.5, ISO1600 Special LENS Nikon 18-35mm f/4

The Manual on Manual

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Image: Chris George

The Manual on Manual

control the light

IMAGE ANALYSIS 1 The light coming from the window will be the same whatever the subject, whether it’s dark or light, so the exposure shouldn’t change 2 Pale and subtle tones need careful exposure adjustments best carried out in manual mode 3 The large areas of light tone in this picture would fool the camera into underexposure in auto mode

Still-life shots need extra care and attention to detail

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key concept Exposure value Discover EV, and how it works ■ Exposure Value, or EV, is a central concept in exposure. If you use a handheld meter, like this Gossen Digisix, it displays the exposure value directly. You can then use the dials to turn this into any combination of lens aperture and shutter speed. Handheld meters might seem quite slow by today’s standards, but they do encourage you to see exposure in a much more straightforward way. 1 The exposure value is displayed on the LCD panel. 2 You then rotate this outer dial to show the same value in this 2 small window. 3 Now you can read all the possible shutter speed and aperture combinations on these scales 4 You can also slide this translucent dome over the metering window to take an incident light reading to measure the light actually falling on your subject, not just the light it reflects.

■ Sometimes it’s easier to choose exposure settings which are more or less right, then change the distance and the angle of your lights to fine-tune the strength and balance of the lighting. You can only do this in manual.

Auto mode might seem like the easy option, but manual mode will be simplest in the long run

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till-life subjects can produce some beautiful pictures, but also some unexpected exposure problems. The fact is that the light meter built into any camera can only measure the light reflected from your subject. It can’t tell a pale subject from a dark one, so it has to assume everything you shoot has a kind of average grey tone. So if you’ve ever wondered why your bride’s wedding dress has come out grey, or why a soot-stained loco comes out a muddy mid-tone rather than a dense black, this is why. There is another issue. Every time you rearrange your props or swap a dark subject for a light one, the camera will recalculate the exposure, even though the lighting hasn’t changed. The fact is, once you’ve set up your scene, you only have to measure the exposure once. From then on, you can keep using that same exposure. Auto mode might seem like the easy option, but manual mode will be simplest in the long run. Manual mode becomes even more useful when you start experimenting with your own lighting setups. Our main image was shot using the light from a window, but you can

also light your subjects with LED lamps, flash or any other kind of light source you have to hand. You can even light your subject and your background separately to create vivid contrasts of light and colour. This is where your camera’s exposure meter may start to struggle. It is possible to use the spot metering mode and some mental maths to work out the correct exposure – or you could take the simple option, switch to manual and use trial and error. The beauty of digital photography is its flexibility. You can shoot an image, check it on the camera’s LCD display, make any necessary adjustments to the exposure settings and shoot it again.

step by step if the light stays the same, why change the exposure? ■ The background for this still life shot is neutral, and an automatic exposure reading seems to work perfectly well – so far so good.

01 Neutral background www.nphotomag.com

■ But if we swap to a black background the result is terrible – the camera has increased the exposure, even though the lighting is the same.

02 Black background

■ But if we set the exposure for the first shot in manual and don’t change it, our subject stays perfectly exposed regardless of the background.

03 Manual mode August 2014

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EXPOSURE 13 secs, feature f/8, ISO100 Special LENS Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8

The Manual on Manual

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embrace the night

Night shots are much easier in manual, and here’s why ight photography can yield some spectacular images, but it’s unlikely that your camera will be able to give you the results you want if it’s left on automatic. This is because the scene will contain a much greater brightness range than normal daylight. Today’s Nikon D-SLRs don’t

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have any trouble measuring the low light levels you get at night, but they do have trouble working out which parts of the scene to base the exposure on. In regular daylight, the light source for the scene (the sun) is usually not visible. If it were in the frame it would completely dominate the exposure and everything else would come out as a silhouette. At night, you don’t get the sun in the frame, but you do get countless miniature light sources, like streetlamps, neon signs and car headlights. These ‘mini-suns’ are far brighter than their surroundings, and dominate the camera’s exposure reading. Use auto mode and you’ll end up with some bright pinpoints of light surrounded by darkness. You can use the camera’s EV compensation control to try to adjust the exposure, but the only really reliable way to get good exposures at night is to switch to manual mode. Once you’ve done this you can use trial and error to arrive at a good exposure for the scene. It

might take a couple of attempts, but you’ll soon get a feel for different situations and the kind of exposure you might need. For example, for a busy city street light by floodlights and neon signs, you might find that an exposure of a couple of seconds at a medium aperture of f/8 is about right, but for darker suburban streets you might need to increase that to 30 seconds or longer.

Don’t use Auto ISO

Your Nikon’s Auto ISO option can be invaluable for shooting in low light with the camera handheld, because it will adjust the ISO automatically to give what the camera thinks is the right exposure. However, this means handing control back to the camera in a situation where you know it’s not going to give good results. It’s much better to put the camera on a tripod, because then you can use your camera’s lowest ISO setting for best quality, and it won’t matter how long the exposure is because the camera will be kept

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Image: Max Earey

The Manual on Manual

key concept ISO (sensitivity) settings Along with shutter speed and aperture, it controls exposure

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■ Your main tools for adjusting exposure are the length of the exposure (shutter speed) and the amount of light (lens aperture). But digital cameras have introduced a third option – ISO. Increasing the ISO setting on your Nikon is like turning up the volume. If the light is poor, increasing the ISO will amplify it and make it stronger (though this does also increase digital ‘noise). Some photographers now include ISO as an exposure adjustment alongside shutter speed and lens aperture to produce an ‘exposure triangle’, because it works on the same basis – you can increase the ISO to compensate for a smaller lens aperture or faster shutter speed. This quickly gets complicated, though. It’s simpler to stick to shutter speed and aperture for routine exposure adjustments and only increase the ISO if the conditions are so poor than you can’t get usable settings any other way. You don’t always need to increase the ISO at night. If you put the camera on a tripod, you can leave it set to its lowest ISO and use as long an exposure as you need.

How exposure settings work Shutter speed

Lens aperture

ISO (sensitivity)

1/1000 sec

f/16

100

1/500 sec

f/11

200

1/250 sec

f/8

400

1/125 sec

f/5.6

800

1/60 sec

f/4

1600

1/30 sec

f/2.8

3200

■ Shutter speed, lens aperture and ISO settings have been cleverly arranged so that each setting delivers twice the exposure of the one before. You can use this to balance these settings up so that you keep the same overall exposure even though you’ve changed one of the values. For example, 1/1000 sec at f/4 gives the same exposure as 1/125 sec at f/11.

trails of light ■ The long exposures needed at night might seem like an inconvenience, but you can use them to your advantage. In the picture on the left, the only illumination was the sparkler, and this meant we needed a long exposure of 15 seconds – but this gave us time to move the sparkler and create this luminous outline. It would be impossible to do this in any of the camera’s auto modes because its light meter would not be able to produce a sensible meter reading and exposure time.

IMAGE ANALYSIS 1 To bring out darker areas you often need to use a much longer exposure than the camera suggests 2 Shooting at night means longer exposures – you can use this to make traffic trails out of light 3 At night, naked lights and floodlit buildings can influence the camera’s exposure meter too heavily – trial and error in manual mode works better

perfectly still throughout. And the longer the exposure, the more likely you are to get spectacular traffic trails. The length of the exposure will determine how far objects move through the scene (and the length of the trails they leave). You can adjust the length of the exposure by changing the lens aperture. A wider aperture will let more light through so that you can use a shorter exposure, while a smaller aperture can be used to produce a longer exposure in very bright conditions.

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THEORY HOW LONG DO YOU NEED? ■ Your camera’s light meter won’t be much help at night, and you’ll be better off with exposure estimates based on typical night-time scenes. Here’s a table you can use as a starting point for your own experiments.

Subject

Exposure at f/11, ISO100

Neon signs

1 sec

Bonfire flames

1 sec

Cityscape just after sunset

2 secs

Floodlit exteriors

2 secs

Floodlit statues

4 secs

Cityscape at night

10 secs

Traffic trails

15 secs

Twilit landscapes

30 secs

Moonlit landscapes

15 mins

Star trails

1-3 hrs

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Image: Max Earey

Special feature

The Manual on Manual

TAKING ACTION

IMAGE ANALYSIS

Thinking before you shoot can give you better pictures ction photography needs instant reflexes and gives you no time to think – if you pause to ponder, you’ll miss the shot (and probably the ones that follow it, too). You might think, then, that this is the one time when auto exposure will always be best. That’s not necessarily the case. You can get the same kind of exposure problems in a sports stadium as you do in a portrait shoot or a landscape. Quite often you’ll be shooting players in bright sunlight against a background in shadow, or vice versa. Your camera’s exposure system may be able to cope with fast-moving subjects, but it won’t always be consistent. The camera will recalculate the exposure for every shot, even in the split second between frames when you’re capturing a high-speed burst, and if you leave it on auto you will often see differences in exposure between the frames, where the size or position of the player against the background has altered. If you switch to manual and measure the exposure carefully before you start, the

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1 If your shooting position and the light stay the same, there’s no need to change the exposure 2 You need a shutter speed fast enough to freeze your subject and manual mode makes this simple 3 A blurred background will make your subject stand out more clearly – you can do this with a wide lens aperture or by ‘panning’

variations between shots as your subjects move around won’t happen. As long as the lighting conditions don’t change, the player will always be correctly exposed regardless of what’s in the background. The situation is different, of course, if the light on your subject is changing during the sequence. Your subject might move from light in the centre of the pitch to shade closer to the stands, say, and in this instance autoexposure may prove the better option. The important thing, though, is to assess the conditions before you start. The camera doesn’t always know what’s best, and manual mode may be the smarter option.

Your camera’s exposure system may be able to cope with fast-moving subjects, but it won’t always be consistent

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Check your speed

There is another good reason for shooting in manual – it gives you direct control over the shutter speed, and this is important. A fast shutter speed can ‘freeze’ any movement in your subject so that every detail is crystalclear, but you can also use slower shutter speeds to ‘pan’ with your subject and blur the background, creating a sense of motion.

You could take control of the shutter speed by switching to S, or shutter-priority mode, but most pros prefer manual because they can control exactly how the subject will appear from one shot to the next and they aren’t relying on the camera’s interpretation of the lighting conditions.

Theory How to keep consistency in continuous shooting mode

■ For this sequence of surf shots, it was essential that the exposure should stay the same from one frame to the next, keeping the series consistent. The areas of white water were changing constantly, and if the camera had been left on auto there might have been slight exposure variations between frames. In this situation, shooting in manual is the only way to make sure the exposure stays consistent throughout.

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The Manual EXPOSURE 1/640 on sec, Manual f/5, ISO200 LENS Nikon 600mm f/4

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When to use ISO

key concept shutter speeds and action What shutter speeds do you need for moving subjects? ■ There are two ways to shoot a moving subject: first, you can freeze them entirely using a high shutter speed. Alternatively, you can follow them in the viewfinder with a slower speed so that they remain sharp but the background is blurred.

■ Let’s say you’re shooting a football match in the winter, where you know you need a shutter speed of 1/500 sec: 1 When it kicks off at 3pm, the daylight is still quite good and you can shoot with an exposure of 1/500 sec at f/4. 2 By half-time, the light has fallen by 1EV so that you have to increase the lens aperture to f/2.8 to be able to get the same shutter speed. 3 During the second half of the match, though, the light drops a further 1EV and you’ve already reached the lens’s maximum aperture. The solution is to increase the ISO instead, from ISO200 to ISO400.

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Subjects

Shutter speed

Freezing fast movement entirely

1/4000 sec

Freezing birds in flight

1/2000 sec

Freezing fast-moving cars and motorcycles

1/1000 sec

Mountain bikes, runners and athletes

1/500 sec

Slow moving animals or people walking

1/250 sec

Panning fast-moving cars and motorcycles

1/125 sec

Panning mountain bikes close to the camera

1/60 sec

Panning fast-moving cyclists at a distance

1/30 sec

Panning runners, kids or moving animals

1/15 sec

August 2014

■ The distance and speed of your subject are the crucial factors, so it’s impossible to be exact about the shutter speeds you need, so these are simply guidelines.

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Special feature

The Manual on Manual

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EXPOSURE 1/5 sec, f/11, ISO100 LENS Nikon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED VR

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Image: Rod Lawton

The Manual on Manual

GET IN THE ZONE Scenes contain a range of tones, not just one

our camera’s auto-exposure modes give you a quick and easy way to get the exposure more or less right, but there’s another approach that can get you much closer to the picture you imagined. It’s based on the ‘zone system’ invented by the revered black-and-white landscape photographer Ansel Adams. He split scenes up into 11 different brightness values and worked out his exposures so that the right parts of the scene fell in the right zones. Ansel Adams’ method is pretty complicated and takes practice, but your Nikon D-SLR enables you to use the same ideas in a much simpler way using the exposure bar on the camera’s LCD.

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Exposure compensation

IMAGE ANALYSIS

Think of the centre position on the exposure bar as being an average grey tone, the -1EV setting as being a darker grey, and the -2EV setting as being the darkest areas where you can still see some detail. Similarly, on the other side of the scale the +1EV setting corresponds to a lighter tone and the +2EV setting is the lightest possible tone where

1 Most of the tones in the picture fall nicely between the two extremes 2 The steps needed to be as dark as possible, but still with detail – this corresponds to -2EV 3 These areas needed to be as bright as possible but with visible detail – this corresponds to +2EV

there’s still some visible detail, without being blown out. For example, if you’re taking a portrait shot you might decide your subject’s skin should be lighter than the average grey tone, so set your Nikon to spot metering mode (see our walkthrough below), place the autofocus (spot metering) point over your subject’s face and adjust the exposure so that the marker is at the +1EV setting. Or, if you’re photographing a dark-toned subject like a vase or foliage, and you want it to be darker than the average grey tone, set adjust the exposure so that the marker is at the -1EV setting. If you’re shooting a landscape where you want to be sure of capturing some detail in the sky, use a spot meter reading for the sky and set the exposure bar to +2EV. The sky will be bright, but not completely blown out. You can’t use this ‘zone’ approach for every scene – there may not always be time to take readings, or the contrast may be too high and would turn the rest of the scene black – but it’s a great way of visualising your exposures and making sure that objects appear with exactly the brightness you intended.

step by step setting the right tone

01 Average tone

02 Low key

03 High key

■ This subject has an average overall grey tone. Use your Nikon’s matrix or centre-weighted mode to take an exposure reading and it won’t be far off.

■ The tones here are dark. On its own, the camera would have produced a mid-grey image, so it needed a negative exposure value to correct this.

■ This shot’s airy feel is deliberate. Again, the camera would have produced a mid-grey tone – an increase to the exposure value was needed.

key concept Zones and tones Us spot metering mode to explore exposure values… Working out the exposure for a scene often means looking at different areas individually, and that’s where spot metering mode is so useful. It’s linked to the active autofocus point, so the simplest way to use it is to set the camera to single-point AF mode and choose the centre AF point. Now, with the AF point over your subject, as you adjust the shutter speed and lens aperture settings, you’ll see the marker move along the exposure bar. You don’t have to move it to the centre; for intentionally lighter or darker results, you can use an offset to give you the exposure you want.

+2EV

+1EV

0EV

-1EV

-2EV

Very bright but still some detail

Pale tones like caucasian skin

Average grey tone

Darker tones like foliage

Very dark but visible detail

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Ingenious recipes for stunning shots 52

Welcome to Nikon Skills

50 THis month’s projects… PROJECT ONE | CAMERA TECHNIQUES

42 Take charge of perspective

52 Set the trends

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PROJECT SIX | CREATIVE PHOTOSHOP

Discover how moving towards or away from your subject and switching lenses can affect your landscape photographs

47 Share your point of view

Share your view of the world by taking photos from a first-person perspective

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Master the essentials

Not sure where to begin with Lightroom? Discover the six tweaks you’ll apply to virtually every image

PROJECT FOUR | Gear skills

50 Max those moths!

Find out a really easy (possibly cheaty!) way to get to great shots of moths and other insects with your macro lens

Getting great fashion shots takes skill, but our guide will take you through all the basics for setting up your own shoot

54 Cut out like a pro

Learn to make cutouts using Elements’ powerful Refine Edge tool, and transfer a subject to a more interesting background

PROJECT SEVEN | SYSTEM SPOTLIGHT

56 Take Control in-camera

Explore your Nikon’s Picture Controls, adjust them to suit your needs, and save your own custom ones for future use

To watch the videos use this web link… bit.ly/NPhoto35 August 2014

41


Nikon skills

Ingenious recipes for stunning shots

Project one camera techniques

the mission

■ Discover how you can alter your shots by where you stand

Take charge of perspective

time needed

■ 30 minutes

skill level

■ Anyone can do it ■ Some tricky aspects ■ Advanced technique

Kit needed

■ Nikon D-SLR ■ Kit lens ■ Super wide-angle zoom ■ telephoto lens

Chris Rutter shows how you can use different viewpoints to dramatically change the perspective of your images It’s often said that lenses change the perspective of your shots, with wide-angle lenses exaggerating perspective and telephoto lenses compressing it. That’s not actually the case. While it’s true that you need to change the focal length of your lens to achieve different types of images, the lens doesn’t actually affect the perspective of your images. All the lens does is determine how much, or

Next issue…

little, of the subject you include in your image. To change the perspective you need to change the position from where you actually take your shot, moving to one side or another, shooting from higher up or lower down, or by moving further away. The confusion lies in that once you have chosen the point to view the subject from, you then need to use different focal length lenses in order to fit all the elements in the scene

All the lens does is determine how much, or how little, of the subject you include in your image. If you want to change the perspective you need to change your position

How beautiful bokeh can enhance your baby photos

that you wish to include into your shot. So, if you are close to the foreground subject you need to use a wide-angle lens to get everything into your shot, while if you are shooting from a distance you need to use a longer focal length so you can fill the frame with the subject. When you’re shooting landscapes, moving towards or away from your subjects can make a radical difference to the sort of shot you’re able to take. Changing your distance from your subjects also means you need to choose different lenses in order to fit everything into the frame. Let’s see how it works…

KEY SKILL Understanding focal lengths

Prove to yourself that lens focal lengths don’t affect the perspective To prove that it’s the viewpoint that affects perspective, you can do a simple exercise to show what effect the focal length of the lens has on your images. You can get the basic effect using the shortest and longest focal lengths on a standard zoom lens, but you can also use two different lenses to give a more extreme change in the focal length.

24mm lens

Take two shots

First, take one photo using a wide-angle lens and another with a telephoto lens from the same position. Ideally you should put the camera on a tripod to make sure that they are exactly the same position, but you can shoot hand-held if you are careful to make sure that the viewpoint is the same for both shots.

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100mm LENS

24mm lens cropped

Crop and compare

Open both images on your computer, and simply crop the wide-angle image so that it matches the framing of the one taken with the telephoto lens. Resize these images so that they are the same size on-screen, and you will find that the perspective in both photographs is the same – it’s just the amount of the scene included in the image that is different.

To watch the video use this web link… bit.ly/NPhoto35


Perspective one Focal length: 17mm Distance: 10m

Perspective two Focal length: 200mm Distance: 200m

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QUICK TIP! Once y ou’ve foun d a b asic viewp oin t tha t gi ve s y ou the righ t perspec ti ve, y ou can st ill u se a h igh or low viewp oin t to of alter the p osi tion s the fore groun d an d c ts b ac kgroun d su b je


Nikon skills

Ingenious recipes for stunning shots

Step by step Alter your perspective

Here’s a simple way to help you get to grips with how to change the perspective of your shots For this example we used a tree and a glasshouse as the subjects, but you can try it yourself with any type of subject. You’ll need at least two subjects, one in the foreground and one in the background, and plenty of space in front of them. Ideally this area will allow you to stand at three distances from your subjects to get a good range of perspectives – being able to move from a couple of metres from the foreground to around 100 metres is ideal.

01 A normal perspective

02 Standard focal length

03 Exaggerate perspective

04 Use a wide-angle lens

05 Compressing perspective

06 Use a telephoto lens

Our eyes don’t have a zoom facility, so if you stand too far away everything will look tiny; stand too close and you’ll have to move your head to take in the scene. To get a ‘normal’ perspective, find a viewpoint where both objects fill your field of vision without having to turn your head.

To make the foreground subject appear much larger and the background features appear much smaller, you need to move close to the foreground. This works because you are changing the relative distances between you and the different parts of the scene.

To frame most subjects at a distance that will give you this ‘normal’-looking perspective, use a focal length of 35-50mm on a full-frame camera, or 24-35mm on a DX model. On a standard zoom lens you will find that this focal length is around the middle of the zoom range.

Because you are closer to the foreground, you’ll have to use a wide-angle lens to fit it all in. The focal length needed will depend on the size of the foreground subject, and how close you are to it. If you are really close, or the subject is large, you’ll need a very wide lens.

Turn it round ■ If you are using a subject at ground level (such as a rock, foliage or water) as the foreground in your shot, try shooting in portrait rather than landscape orientation. This will help you to include more of the foreground in your final image, which will really emphasise the perspective you get from getting in close to the foreground subject.

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To make the foreground and background appear closer together, shoot from further away. The greater the distance, the more ‘compressed’ the perspective will be. Here, we were 100 metres from the tree – the furthest distance that still gave us a clear view of both subjects.

August 2014

Because you are further away both the foreground and background will appear to be smaller, so you need to use a longer focal length lens. We used a 75mm lens, as we were 100 metres from the tree, but at greater distances you would need to use a focal length such as 100-200mm.

www.nphotomag.com


Project two special effects

Share your point of view Siân Lewis shows how to take dynamic first-person action and lifestyle shots the mission ■ Get the hang of first-person photography

time needed

■ Two hours

skill level

■ Anyone can do it ■ Some tricky aspects ■ Advanced technique

Kit needed

■ Nikon D-SLR ■ Wide-angle lens ■ SLR chest strap

Next issue…

Pick a colour – but you can only shoot in one!

‘Point of view’ or first-person shots are fun to photograph and make great additions to your travel albums. They’re also great for sharing what you’re up to without taking a selfie. There’s no need to invest in a GoPro sports camera – with an ingenious accessory you can get brilliant images of your adventures. It’s easy to get started. Shoot your hands and feet in different situations, such as patting a dog, dangling over a wall or buying an ice cream. At such close range, a super wide-angle lens is a big help for getting everything in shot, but you could use your kit lens at its widest zoom setting too. Hands-free shots require a bit more preparation. We’ll show you how to take a shot of yourself cycling, blurring the background for a sense of speed.

Step by step Slice of life

Want to show people the world as you see it? On your bike!

01 Feet and hands

Photographing your feet or just one hand is easy – you can simply point and shoot. If you want to include both your hands, hang your camera around your neck, switch to Live View and compose the shot, then use the self-timer to get your hands into the position you want.

02 Strap in place

If you want to shoot sports then you’ll need to keep your Nikon stable. Get hold of an SLR chest strap, which wraps around your waist and holds the camera snug against you. They cost around £20/$35 on eBay, or you could make your own from stretchy material.

To watch the video use this web link… bit.ly/NPhoto35

03 Speed it up

The aim of a shot like this is to keep your hands and handlebars in focus while the rest of the scene blurs, creating a sense of speed. Switch to shutter-priority (S) Mode and pick 1/300 sec, then select the interval timer, and shoot until you’re happy with the result.

August 2014

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QUICK TIP The History Panel within Lightroom’s Develop Module is very useful if you find you’ve taken an image in the wrong direction and want to go back a few steps.

AFTER

the mission

■ Master the basics of image editing in Lightroom with six essential edits

time needed

■ 10 minutes

skill level

■ Anyone can do it ■ Some tricky aspects ■ Advanced technique

Kit needed

■ Lightroom 5

Next issue…

Smarter sharpening in Photoshop Elements

48

Project three DIGITAL DARKROOM

BEFORE

Master the essentials James Paterson reveals six edits to apply to every image in Lightroom One of the main difficulties when learning how to use an image editing tool, a new camera, or almost any new technology, is how to get started. Let’s face it, the best part of having a new thing is using it, not reading about it. Most of us don’t want to sift through the manual and spend hours learning every feature of our new purchase, we just want to get to grips with a few fundamentals and

August 2014

dive in. The problem is, how do we know what those essentials are? With Lightroom, there are so many features and tools that beginners can quickly become lost. In this tutorial we’ll run through six essential Lightroom features that can be applied to most, if not all, of the photographs you shoot. We’ll explain the process of importing an image, applying essential tonal tweaks,

selectively adjusting parts of the image, cropping to improve composition, sharpening, and finally exporting. This is a workflow that, regardless of the image content, you’ll find is the backbone of most Lightroom image editing. What’s more, mastering these Lightroom essentials creates the confidence to go on and explore other more advanced tools.

To download the start image for this tutorial, visit bit.ly/start-35


Master the essentials

Step by step Six of the best

Not sure where to start with Lightroom? Try these simple steps…

01 Import the image

Importing an image simply tells Lightroom where it is stored on your computer. Open Lightroom, then click the Library Module. Either click the Import button and find the image using the source options, or simply drag it into the Library interface. Select the file and hit Import.

02 Basic adjustments

Click Develop from the list of Modules, then go to the Basic panel on the right. Work your way down through the sliders. Having a full range of tones from black to white improves most images, so hold Alt and drag the whites slider until just before pixels appear. Repeat with the blacks.

03 Make selective adjustments 04 Crop and straighten Most images will benefit from a selective adjustment. Lightroom offers three tools: the Adjustment Brush, Radial Filter and Graduated Filter. Grab the Graduated Filter from the toolbar at top-right, drag down from the sky, then knock back Exposure in the settings on the right.

It’s hard to get cropping right in-camera. To crop and straighten an image, grab the Crop tool from the Toolbar. Notice how the panel changes at top-right to display the crop options. Click the straighten icon, drag along the waterline to straighten, then adjust the box to crop.

Auto Import ■ If you want to bypass the Import dialog altogether, you could simply set Auto Import so Lightroom always knows where to find your files. Go to File>Auto Import>Auto Import settings, then choose a folder to ‘Watch’ (such as your Pictures folder). Now whenever you copy images into the stated folder, Lightroom will automatically import them. If you like, you can even choose to automatically apply presets and colour settings.

05 Sharpen the details

RAW images will not have received any in-camera sharpening, so they will usually benefit from sharpening with Lightroom’s Detail panel. Scroll down to it on the right, then go to the Navigator on the left and zoom to 1:1 view. Increase the Amount and Radius sliders to apply sharpening.

To watch the video use this web link… bit.ly/NPhoto35

06 Export the image

The final step is to produce the image file in a useful format like jpeg. Go to File>Export to access the export dialog. If you want a specific print size, set a width and height in the image sizing options with resolution at 300 pixels per inch. Pick a destination and hit Export.

August 2014

49


Nikon skills

Ingenious recipes for creative shots

Your Nikon can capture the minuscule details that your eyes can hardly see!

Project four gear skills

Max those moths!

Claire Gillo takes a closer look with her Nikon, and reveals how to capture creative close ups of creepy-crawly creatures! There’s a whole world ready to insects but it’s actually much easier the mission explore with your Nikon – all it than trying to follow live ones around. Take a close up of a bug

time needed ■ 20 mins

skill level

■ Anyone can do it ■ Some tricky aspects ■ Advanced technique

Kit needed

■ Macro lens ■ Stand ■ Plain card ■ Bug ■ Pegs ■ Ring light ■ Shutter release

Next issue…

Spots on your sensor? Clean them off!

50

requires you to do is come in closer. We’re talking about the world of macro photography, where you take stunning close-up photographs of small parts of large subjects, or tiny things in their entirety. There are numerous setups and countless techniques you can use to capture the minuscule wonders all around you. To keep things simple we’ll be shooting using a macro lens and a collection of dead moths. It may seem a little creepy photographing dead

You can purchase bugs online from a variety of companies, but make sure you avoid the ones that are mounted to a presentation stand, as often they have been glued into place, so they won’t be ideal photographic subjects. If you’re on a budget then leave the housework for a few weeks and start collecting the ones that pile up in the corners! You’ll be amazed at what you can find when you start looking. Macro photography usually means capturing the subject at a ratio of one

When it comes to macro photography the most important aspect is controlling the aperture. This determines how much of the subject remains sharp and how much blurs August 2014

to one or closer. In other words, the image on the sensor is as large as the real-life object. There’s no ‘correct’ focal length for a macro lens, and they range from 50mm to 200mm. In this tutorial we’ll be using a 105mm lens, which is good for capturing close ups of bugs and flowers. When it comes to macro photography the most important aspect is controlling the aperture. This determines how much of the subject remains sharp and how much blurs. As we’re shooting at a very close proximity, even when we close down the aperture to a narrow setting the background will still soften. For this reason we’ll also need to consider the angle we position our subject. Let’s get started…

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Insect macros QUICK TIP Th is ma ke s a grea t rain y da y projec t. S tore some su i ta ble su bjec ts in ja rs so you don’t have to hun t for bugs wh en you wan t to sh oot macros

STEP BY STEP It’s a small world…

Get amazing results using this simple macro photography set up

01 The set up

02 Let there be light!

03 Get your camera ready

04 Focus and shoot

Lay down a piece of card (this will enable you to reposition the setup later, and provides background colour) and set a small stand on top – we used a small tripod. Peg your bug to the stand, and then mount your D-SLR onto a tripod. Position your camera roughly next to the main setup.

Put your camera into aperture-priority mode and set the aperture to f/16. Switch on Live View and frame the image up so you’re shooting your subject from a side angle. Set the ISO to 100 for maximum quality. You don’t need to worry about the shutter speed as the bug is not moving.

Natural VS LED

You can shoot using natural light only, but watch out for shadows if you do. To light our setup we used a LED ring light that fits over the end of our lens, and gently fills in the shadows. If you don’t have one of these you can use a couple of torches, but again watch out for shadows.

Switch your lens to its manual setting and turn the focus ring to the minimum focusing distance. Move the bug into place by positioning the mat. When you think the eye is sharp, zoom in using Live View, and tweak for accuracy. Finally, take the shot using a remote shutter release.

top tips Getting closer

05 LED Lights

LED lights are easier to control than flash and give a soft, continuous light. Most produce a cool tone, so check the white balance.

The kits that helps you capture every detail of tiny subjects

01 Macro lens

03 Close up filters

A macro lens is defined as being able to capture a subject at a 1:1 ratio. Many ‘zoom’ macro lenses only capture a at 1:2 ratio.

Using a close up filter is essentially like placing a magnifying glass over your lens. You may see fringing and edge softness.

02 Extension tubes

Extension tubes turn a standard lens into a macro lens. You can also attach them to a macro lens to increase the magnification.

■ You can alter the final effect by changing the background colour and lighting setup. If you’re using just natural light, turn the exposure compensation to +1EV to lighten the background. The yellow background in this example is simply a food chopping board, and the moth has been lit using the LED ring light.

04 Shutter release

Macro photography is a delicate operation, so using a remote shutter release eliminates the chance of camera shake. If you don’t have one of these, use the self timer.

To watch the video use this web link… bit.ly/NPhoto35

August 2014

51


Nikon skills the mission

■ Shoot edgy, creative fashion photos

time needed ■ Half a day

skill level

■ Anyone can do it ■ Some tricky aspects ■ Advanced technique

Kit needed

■ Model ■ Stylist ■ Home lighting kit ■ Photoshop

Next issue…

Capture splashing water with flash

Ingenious recipes for creative shots

Project five Take it further

Set the trends

Plan and carry out your own fashion shoot with James Paterson’s guide… A fashion shoot is your chance to try out different techniques and get creative while working alongside models and stylists. Fashion photography requires attention to detail, originality and technical expertise. From a creative point of view it’s fantastic because almost anything goes. If you want to organise your own fashion shoot, one of the first things to

do is find a model. You might know someone who is happy to model for you, but if you want to go one step further, consider booking a model. You could go through model agencies or contact models and stylists direct through sites like Model Mayhem (www.modelmayhem.com) and PurplePort (www.purpleport.com). Whichever option you go for, get them to sign a Model Release form. Search

online for ‘model release form’ for downloadable examples. Of course, with fashion photography it’s all about the clothes. We contacted the School of Art and Design at Bath Spa University, which teaches Fashion Design (www. bathspa.ac.uk/schools/art-anddesign). They kindly let us borrow these wonderfully creative outfits by designer Rebecca Head.

STEP BY STEP Get the look

Six ways to ensure your shots convey a passion for fashion

01 Prepare the scene

Good lighting is vital. A home studio flash kit is ideal. You’ll need a space large enough to set up lights, and a backdrop. (We used a roll of blue paper.) Plan the lighting setup using a stand-in before the model arrives.

02 Mind the details

The clothes need to look perfect. Steam or iron them, and if they’re not a perfect fit, pin them into place. A stylist or any fashion-conscious friend with an eye for detail is invaluable. Robyn here was on hand during the shoot to adjust clothes and fix stray hairs and other details.

04 Shoot off-key poses

Look for unconventional angles and poses that will show off the garments really well. With this unusual sculptural outfit we worked out an irregular pose, with directional lighting to show the folds and contours of the clothes, and a rim light behind and to the right to light the edge of the model’s face.

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August 2014

03 Light it right

Behind the model we positioned two flash heads, angled back and fitted with softboxes. Another flash was placed in front, above and to the left, fitted with a circular reflector. The softboxes created edge lighting on the model. The frontal flash lit the face and outfit with hard-edged light.

05 Experiment with gobos

Gobo is shorthand for go-between – anything you place between the light source and the subject that shapes the light and creates interesting patterns. After a change of outfit we set up a single light and placed a blind in front to create horizontal shadows, giving the portrait a totally different atmosphere.

06 Tidy up

After the shoot it’s important to retouch the shots to make them look their best. Use Photoshop’s Spot Healing Brush to remove creases and tidy up marks. Spend time polishing the images – but don’t change the colours of the fabrics!

To watch the video use this web link… bit.ly/NPhoto35


Quick tip Se t your flashe s to the lowest power where you still ge t the illumina tion you need, as this will speed up the recyc ling time

Rembrandt lighting ■ Named after the great painter who used it often with his portraits, ‘Rembrandt lighting’ is a method for illuminating a face with directional light. Position a light source above and slightly to one side of the face and, when you’re at the right angle, the shadow of the nose creates an attractive triangle of light. If you want to get technical about it, the triangular line should go towards the corner of the mouth and be no longer than the nose.

53


Nikon skills

Ingenious recipes for stunning shots

Project six creative photoshop

Cut out like a professional

BEFORE

James Paterson shows how to cut out portraits and transport subjects with the Refine Edge tool the mission

■ Make a composite portrait and learn how to cut out hair with the Refine Edge command

time needed

■ 10 minutes

Skill level

■ Anyone can do it ■ Some tricky aspects ■ Advanced technique

Kit needed

■ Photoshop Elements 11 or 12

Next issue…

Add depth with doubleprocessed RAW files!

One of the great things about digital imaging is the ability it gives you to combine several images. Master a few simple compositing skills and you can transport subjects to distant destinations or build a group photo from several people who’ve never met. But to make a composite look convincing you need accurate cutouts. When cutting out people, the most problematic part is usually the hair, where the background often shows through the gaps. Luckily, there are a couple of Photoshop tools that can do much of the work for you. Introduced in Elements 11, Refine Edge is the most powerful tool for making cutouts that Adobe has ever produced. It’s not a selection tool, but a command that enables you to improve an existing selection by, as the name suggests, refining its edge. If you’re new to Refine Edge, the controls can seem complex, but master a few fundamentals and it quickly becomes the go-to tool when you need make a precise cutout.

Step by step Cutting on the edge

This new tool makes it easier than ever to create perfect cutouts

01 Select the background

Open cut_out_before.jpg. Grab the Magic Wand tool, make sure Contiguous is checked and set Tolerance to about 21 in the Tool Options. Click on the grey background to begin a selection. Hold Shift and click around the background to select it all. Include the gaps in the hair and hands.

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August 2014

02 Open Refine Edge

AFTER

Go to Select>Inverse to select the model istead of the background, then go to Select>Refine Edge. Hit F to toggle different view options within Refine Edge until you find one that gives the best view of the selection edge. Check Smart Radius and increase Radius to 1px.

03 Adjust the radius

Check Show Radius, and experiment by dragging the Radius slider up and down, changing the size of the edge. The refinement occurs in this area; anywhere outside it is left untouched. Grab the Refine Radius tool and paint over the edge of the hair to increase the area of refinement.

To download the start image for this tutorial, visit bit.ly/start-35


Perfect cutouts

Add colour effects ■ When making composites it’s vital that all the elements look like they were captured under the same conditions. One way to trick the eye is by adding colour toning once you’ve combined the images. This is best done with Adjustment Layers. Click the Create Adjustment Layer icon in the Layers Panel and experiment with Toning tools like Photo Filter and Levels.

Quick TIP! When

pain ting on a Layer Mask, hi t X to quickly toggle be tween black (which hides parts) and white (which reveals)

04 Fine-tune the settings

Continue painting around the hair, covering the areas where the grey background shows through. If you need to erase parts, hold Alt and paint. When you’re happy, hit F until you see the black on white view. Experiment with the Contrast and Shift Edge sliders to make the edge harder.

05 Tidy the mask

Pick Output to: New Layer with Layer Mask and hit OK. Go to the Layers Panel (Window>Layers) and highlight the mask thumbnail. The cutout probably won’t be perfect so you’ll need to tidy it up. Grab the Brush tool, zoom in and paint with black to hide any remaining background areas.

To watch the video use this web link… bit.ly/NPhoto35

06 Drop in a background

Open beach.jpg. Grab the Move tool. Drag the model up to the tab of the beach image, then down into it. Reapply Refine Edge: highlight the mask, go to Select>Refine Edge and repeat the process. Highlight the background layer. Hit Cmd/Ctrl+J, go to Filter>Blur>Lens Blur, set Radius 35, hit OK.

August 2014

55


Nikon skills

Ingenious recipes for creative shots

Project seven system spotlight

Take Control in-camera

landscape

neutral

portrait

standard

Give your photographs more impact straight out of the camera – Chris Rutter reveals all the mission

■ To give shots more impact using Picture Controls

time needed ■ 5 minutes

skill level

■ Anyone can do it ■ Some tricky aspects ■ Advanced technique

Kit needed

■ Nikon D-SLR

Next issue…

DX vs FX sensors – what’s the difference?

Found on the Shooting menu, Picture Controls alter the in-camera processing of your images, such as saturation, sharpening and contrast. They are useful for giving your shots more impact straight out of the camera. Unlike the scene modes, they don’t affect the camera settings such as aperture or shutter speed. Like many in-camera processing options, Picture Controls will only be permanently applied to JPEGs. If you are shooting RAW images, then the Picture Style settings will only be applied if you open the file in Nikon’s own processing software (Capture NX-2 or NX-D), where you can also switch between Picture Controls. Picture Controls applied to RAW files will be ignored by any other RAW software, such as Lightroom.

vivid Picture Controls subtly alter the way your shots are processed in-camera to suit particular subjects

Take it further Tweaking Picture Controls

You can boost your Nikon’s existing Picture Controls, or even create your own!

01 Quick adjust

This is available in all Picture Controls except Neutral and Monochrome, and allows you to change groups of settings rather than altering them individually. For example, if you want to use Portrait Picture Control but want a punchier look, you can set the quick adjust to +1 or +2.

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02 Individual adjustments

This screen gives you control over all the settings available in each Picture Control. In the colour modes you can alter the Saturation and Hue, while in the Monochrome setting you have controls for Filter effects, Toning and Toning saturation instead.

03 Customising Controls

If your Nikon has a ‘Manage Picture Control’ option on the Shooting menu you can create custom settings. This is usually done by using a preset as a starting point, then using the controls available to adjust the settings, and finally saving the new Picture Control.

To watch the video use this web link… bit.ly/NPhoto35


over to you…

s r e tt le r ou y s, e i r o st r Your pho tos, y ou 01 Glasgow Science Centre Nikon D70, Nikon AF-S DX 18-70mm, 1/160 sec, f/10, ISO200

get £50 for every photo story we publish!

Come on in!

One of the brilliant things about photography is that it enables you to share your way of seeing with the world. This issue, John Hastings captures the world in reflections, while Martin Smith creates a new one with fire and long exposures. And Robin Savage? He’s sharing a respectful look at D-Day veterans with us, and with generations to come.

Inside over to you…

58 ��������������������������� Photo Stories 64 ����������������������������������������Letters 65 ����������������I’m a Nikon Convert

Reflected glory

John Hastings captures reflections that can turn everyday scenes and subjects into striking abstract images project info mission To capture

We want your stories, pictures and letters! Send them to: N-Photo Magazine Future Publishing Ltd 30 Monmouth Street Bath BA1 2BW Or drop us a line at:

mail@nphotomag.com www.facebook.com/nphotomag www.twitter.com/nphotomag

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August 2014

reflec ted ligh t photographer John Hastings Age 53 Location Glasgow, Scotland Kit Nikon D7000, Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6, Nikon 50mm f/1.8, Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6, Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 WEB www.photo4me.com/ canvasprin ts/ john-hastings

Living just outside Glasgow I have access to dramatic coastlines, majestic mountains and vibrant cityscapes, all within about 90 minutes’ drive. My interest in photography goes back to the 1970s, where my ‘camera lineage’ started with a Fujica STX-1, which was the budget offering from a short-lived line. From there I upgraded to the Nikon FG with its magic Program mode. My photography was transformed when Nikon launched the D70, its first ‘affordable’ D-SLR, and a few upgrades later I find myself with a D7000 and a bag of lenses,

from a Tamron 10-24mm and my ‘nifty 50mm’ f/1.8 to a Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G. The 18-105mm is almost always attached to my D7000 because it’s so versatile. I’ve been a fan of Nikon kit for many years, for two reasons: quality and continuity. What a delight it was to read that the new Nikon Df is capable of using lenses from the 1950s! With the possible exception of Hasselblad, I can’t think of any other company that has such a philosophy of thinking about its customers over the very long term. I mentioned my 50mm earlier – it predates the D series, as it was the kit lens for an F90,

we want your photo stories! Every Photo Story we feature in the magazine wins £50! www.nphotomag.com


Your stories, your photos, your letters

02 Seaplane on Loch Lomond Nikon D7000, Nikon AF-S DX VR 18-105mm, 1/250 sec, f/5, ISO100 but it snaps to attention and is razor-sharp on my D7000.

Lessons from film

As I started taking photos in the age of film I still find myself shooting as if I have only 36 shots to work with, which is great for discipline. Using basic compositional techniques (rule of thirds, leading diagonals, frame-in-frame, and so on) I visualise the shot I’m looking for, then compose within the viewfinder; unless I’m aiming for a specific effect I leave the camera in Program mode. I’m always on the lookout for ‘the overlooked’, and a recurring, if not entirely deliberate, theme in my images has been the capturing of reflections. The polarising effect of light reflected in glass or water helps to intensify colours, and the distorted scenes take on an abstract quality – even a cargo ship reflected in the murky waters of a dock can become interesting [3]. Also, the way in which the glass panels of buildings such as Glasgow’s Riverside Museum

[1] break up a reflection produces an effect similar to a triptych, dividing the scene into separate yet related images. Thanks to the quality of Nikon’s bodies and lenses, and a little help from sophisticated post-processing software such as Adobe Lightroom, the quality of my shots has gone way beyond my expectations. Meanwhile, the growth of online sales outlets such as PHOTO4ME and Picfair has enabled me to make some money from my passion – it’s always gratifying to make a sale, or to attract a complimentary critique.

03 Cargo Ship, Leith Docks D7000, Nikon AF-S DX 18-70mm, 1/100 sec, f/4.5, ISO100

Rod’sp s… top t i

reflect on this

• Be careful wi th polarisers – they can wipe ou t reflec tions • Choppy wa ter? Try early in the morning when the wa ter is still

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August 2014

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over to you… 01 John Shanahan Nikon D3s, Nikon AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED, 1/160 sec, f/10, ISO500

project info mission To crea te a

photographic tribu te to Normandy ve terans photographer Robin Savage Age 36 Location London, England Kit Nikon D3s, Nikon D700, Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8, Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8, Nikon 85mm f/1.8, Nikon 50mm f/1.8, Elinchrom Quadra Hybrid RX ki t, SB-800 Speedligh ts WEB www.lastofthe libera tors.com

Last of the Liberators

Robin Savage photographed D-Day veterans in France for a 70th anniversary commemorative book and exhibition I’m a London-based freelance photographer, and I specialise in shooting portraits of actors and photographing theatre productions. I became interested in the Second World War at an early age, and I was fascinated with D-Day and the Battle of Normandy. In 2011

I began a project that would culminate in an exhibition and book, produced with the help of Imperial War Museum Duxford, to mark this year’s 70th anniversary of D-Day. These portraits were among 33 that I shot in Normandy during the 68th and 69th anniversary commemorations,

I was immensely moved… being in the company of such extraordinary people has been one of the greatest pleasures of my life

and they’re a poignant record of some of the final visits that these brave and dignified men and women will make to the places that imprinted themselves indelibly on their lives. William Bray [3] of 7th Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, was part of the force that captured the strategically important Pegasus Bridge in the early hours of D-Day, and this portrait was taken on 6 June 2013 – exactly 69 years to the day after William parachuted

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August 2014

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02 Vera Hay Nikon D3s, Nikon AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED, 1/250 sec, f/13, ISO200

into the fields you can see behind him. It’s a long walk from the road to this vantage point, and it was a special moment to watch William’s face as he turned the corner and recognised the field. Vera Hay [2] endured the horrors of the Blitz while training as a nurse in London. She volunteered for the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service, and landed on Gold Beach about a week after D-Day. She served at a field hospital set up in a chateau a few miles inland, as part of a team that treated up to 200 casualties per day. This was a tricky photo to set up – Vera hadn’t been back to the chateau since the war and only had a rough idea of where it was. I was eventually able to pinpoint it, and I asked the owners for permission to bring Vera there, which they gave. It was an amazing moment to see the glint of recognition in Vera’s eyes as we arrived at the

Your Yourstories, stories,your yourphotos, photos,your yourletters letters

03 William Bray Nikon D3s, Nikon AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED, 1/250 sec, f/11, ISO200 chateau, and I think the owners enjoyed having her there as much as she enjoyed being back. John Shanahan [1] of the Royal Ulster Rifles landed on Sword Beach on the morning of D-Day, and on June 7 his unit attacked these woods at Cambes-en-Plaine, a village close to the key objective of Caen. They had been led to believe the woods were lightly defended, but in fact they were held by battle-hardened troops from the 12th SS Panzer Division. After their initial

attack was repulsed, the Ulsters launched a second attack two days later and eventually cleared the woods, but at a high cost in dead and wounded. The commemorations in Normandy are a busy period for the veterans, but it’s also a time for private remembrance for these individuals, and I was immensely moved by their kindness, and their generosity with their time. Being in the company of such extraordinary people has been one of the greatest pleasures of my life.

See all the photos for yourself D-Day – The Last of the Liberators is published by Helion Books, and is available from the IWM Duxford shop and online. For more about the book, including a behind-the-scenes video, visit www.lastoftheliberators.com An exhibition featuring photographs from the book runs until December at IWM Duxford, and is part of a programme of activities commemorating the 70th anniversary of D-Day. For more information visit www.iwm.org.uk/ history/d-day

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over to you…

01 fIREMAN Nikon D300, Nikon DX 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5, f/5, 35 secs, ISO200

project info mission To ligh t up

the darkness, li terally and crea tively photographer Martin Smi th Age 46 Location Brough ty Ferry, Scotland Kit Nikon D800, Nikon AF-S DX 18-70mm f/3.54.5G ED, Nikon AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED, Manfrot to 294 tripod, Nikon SB-700 Speedligh t, selec tion of filters WEB www.facebook.com/ firechill foto

Spinner takes all

He used to shoot video, but Martin Smith has found a form of photography that satisfies his need for movement I came to photography from background in video. I’d never quite gotten photography before – I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to look at a still image as opposed to moving ones – but now the video camera has been sold, and I’ve invested in a Nikon D800. I think I’ve always had a secret fascination with fire, which is a world apart from my job as a safety officer on offshore oil and gas rigs – playing with fire out there is kind of frowned upon! After reading an inspirational

article in N-Photo, and doing a little research, I was ready to give fire spinning a try with my friend and fellow photographer Gus; this is the sort of project that’s more fun, and safer, to attempt with two of you.

Where to spin

The best locations I’ve found to fire spin are deserted train tunnels, derelict buildings (not flammable wooden ones!), and anywhere there’s water to give those glorious reflections. It’s also nice to have something in the foreground to silhouette

against the fire, and to give the photographs a sense of scale. It’s a real thrill standing in the pitch darkness with molten steel spinning only a few inches away; and believe me, you will feel the heat and smell the fumes. Remember, personal safety should always be your first consideration. Planning is vital and you really need to scout your locations in daylight first just in case there are any nasty surprises, especially around water. I find that making a rough sketch of what I want

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Your stories, your photos, your letters 02

03 to achieve helps. There are so many techniques, and I advise doing some research or joining likeminded people on a social network where you’ll find plenty of ideas being discussed. Combining fire-spinning with light-painting, for example, adds a new dimension to your photos. My exposures are generally 15 to 30 seconds when firespinning, and can be several minutes if I add in light painting. I start my aperture at around f/5, but depending on how long I’m spinning for I may go down to f/11 or lower; it’s all about experimenting. I keep the ISO as low as possible, and I also find that setting the White Balance to Incandescent works well. My next project is to find a large waterfall with a cave, so that I can spin fire from behind the water to create a fiery mist. It’s going to take some planning, but I reckon the end results will look amazing!

02 Donnie Darko Nikon D300, Nikon DX 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5, f/5.6, 107 secs, ISO200 03 Deserted Building Nikon D300, Nikon DX 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5, f/11, 106 secs, ISO200 04 Fire Wheel by Tay Bridge Nikon D800, Nikon 24-70mm f/2.3, f/11, 15 secs, ISO3200

Rod’sp s… top t i

playing with fire

• Make sure the person spinning is wearing long sleeves and trousers, plus safe ty gloves and a dampened beanie ha t • S tay away from dry grass and trees

04

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August 2014

63


over to you…

YOUR LETTERS

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the mag and all things photographic! So email us at mail@nphotomag.com We reserve the right to edit any queries for clarity or brevity. You can also write to us at N-Photo Magazine, 30 Monmouth Street, Bath BA1 2BW

The best monitor in the word is no help if it hasn’t been properly calibrated

seeing is believing N-Photo carries out many helpful reviews, including of ‘editing software’. However, to use such software to its full potential it is surely necessary to have a ‘photographic sensitive’ monitor. Would it not be a good idea to have a review of such monitors, and also an article on the best way to calibrate these? Brian Davey, Fareham, UK

What’s new, pussycat?

See issue 30 for a roundup of tools for ensuring your monitor reproduces colours accurately. We’ll be reviewing monitors in issue 37, assessing them with photos in mind.

Vernon Haley’s careful stalking paid off – isn’t this Caracal magnificent?

I have been ‘hunting’ this wild cat (correct name: Caracal / Rooikat) for goodness knows how long. They are very elusive creatures and do not wait for anybody. Thanks to N-Photo, the day I ‘shot’ this cat my camera was ready and set up – ‘always ready’. More important, I shot this photo in RAW, which enabled me to make some

minor alterations to the image afterwards, to the colour balance in particular. The full metadata is: Nikon D3200 with VR 70-300mm f/4.5 zoom lens, 1/320 sec, f/5.6, ISO800, and the Direct Sunlight White Balance setting. (I had to adjust the White Balance later as this cat was very much hiding in the shade.) I used Capture NX2 to

Win a lexar memory card and reader!

edit the RAW photo, and then saved it as a small JPEG file. Vernon Haley, Port Elizabeth, South Africa That’s the sort of hunting we like to see, Vernon! It must have taken some very careful stalking to take that shot – an animal like that will be able to hear you coming from a long way off.

Write our Star Letter and you’ll win a 16GB 600x SDHC UHS-I memory card and Dual-Slot USB 3.0 reader from Lexar Professional! See www.lexar.com for details.

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August 2014

Hot topic In the May issue’s Lightroom project, Step One talks about adjusting the Temp to 5500. This works fine in the video because he is working on a DNG file. However, the file on the disc is a JPEG and Lightroom will not allow Temp adjustments on it. Richard C Griffin, via email Sorry about that! We’ve put the DNG file online now, so go to bit.ly/start-32 to download the correct one.


Your stories, your photos, your letters

BUY YOUR N-PHOTO BINDER TODAY! You can now keep your copies of N-Photo safe with our bespoke binder (from £9.99). It stores a year’s worth of your favourite magazine! To buy one, visit bit.ly/nphotobinder

top photo!

For this month’s photo competition we set you the theme of ‘Straight Lines’, and got all sorts of amazing images, from banded creatures to telephone wires to stripy deckchairs. We got a lot of amazing architectural abstracts, too, and this stunning example by Neal Alan Sacheck was the judges’ choice for its perfect crispness (look at the texture in the stone!) and clever use of tones, and the way that it matched the brief so exactly. The winner of the crowd vote was Chad Ehlers’ image of a woman in a lavender field, and also shows a strong interpretation of the theme. Neal is the winner of a fantastic Lowepro bag, and Chad wins a bundle of Nikon guides. If you’d like to be in with a chance to win our monthly

How much more in keeping with the theme could you get?

photo competition, you can find out the latest theme online at www. photocrowd.com

Follow us on… Facebook www.facebook.com/nphotomag

Twitter www.twitter.com/nphotomag

plane and simple Please would you consider printing my shot in N-Photo? I captured this image at the demo day for the Cosford Air Show near Wolverhampton. I’m thrilled to bits with it as I’ve just bought the awesome Nikon D3200. I used a Nikon 70A fantastic shot of aeroplanes flying in close formation

300mm lens and shot it with an aperture of f/6.3 and ISO100. Lloret Elson, Wolverhampton That’s a fantastic shot, Lloret, and definitely worth printing! I’m impressed with the way you’ve captured the planes so close together without losing any in the vapour trails.

Flickr www.flickr.com/nphotomag

Tweets & posTS…

We shared the shot sports photographer Mark Pain took of his World Cup camera kit ( from blog.markpain.com). You said… One strobe?! Paul Cresswell Make sure your insurance is up to date!!!! Just saying. It never hurts. Carlos H Perez How can you take all that on the plane? I put an 800mm lens and a D800 body and I am up to the limit with Air Canada. Geoffrey Plourde Can it all count as carry on luggage? Andrew J Chisholm

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My first SLR was a Praktica MTL3 back in the 1970s. With the advent of AF I purchased a Nikon F501 and later upgraded to a Nikon F801s. When digital came along I switched to Canon. Recently I was in a position to upgrade. I decided to return to Nikon and purchased the D7100 with 18-105mm lens. I have since bought a Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G. Am I happy? You bet! I’ve only had the Nikon for a few weeks but have got excellent results from it, and look forward to my step-daughter’s wedding, for which I have been asked to provide the photography. Bob Wills, Dawlish, UK Are you a Nikon convert? Then get in touch with us today at mail@nphotomag.com

August 2014

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Me & My Nikon

Jay Hunjan

jaY’S top tip!

Jay is so hooked on portrait photography he’s set up his own home studio FACT FILE

occupation Technical Edi tor Age 40 Location Maidenhead, UK CURRENT Cameras Nikon D7000, Nikon D610 WEBSITE www.puure photography.com

Top five portrait tips

01 Try to help your subjec t relax 02 Show subjec t images of wha t you’d like to achieve 03 Show your si t ter images as you go to encourage feedback 04 Use a ligh t me ter to calcula te exposures 05 Shoot RAW for more edi ting con trol

Always talk to your subject throughout a portrait shoot to keep them engaged

I’ve always had a passion for photography, but it was around four years ago that I started to take it more seriously. That was when I purchased my first Nikon D-SLR, a secondhand D40 with 18-55mm kit lens. It was a great basic lightweight D-SLR, which was perfect for my travels around India, and it helped me to master the Nikon controls and menus very quickly. After a year with the D40 I was hooked on photography, and on Nikon, and I purchased a D7000 and 18-200mm lens, which I chose for its versatility and zoom range. I also bought a Nikon 50mm f/1.8D, and found this to be a great-value fast portrait lens for DX cameras. I was taking more and more pictures now, and becoming increasingly interested in photographing people. About two years ago I started to learn about studio lighting, and now I absolutely love studio work. I was spending so much time in studios that I recently had my own studio built at home, and I’ve also started my own small photography business. After borrowing my friend’s Nikon D700 for shoots I decided to upgrade to a full-frame body. I purchased the D610 [1] (which is fitted with an MB-D14 battery grip [3]), along with a 24-70mm f/2.8G lens [2]. I chose the D610 because the layout of the controls is similar to the D7000’s, and the 24-70mm as it’s a proven professional lens that delivers sharp, high-quality images. I’m always amazed by the images this combination delivers.

3

1

2

Ja y’s p ortf ol io

Holly High-key ligh ting helps to enhance the brigh t colours…

Glen …whereas here low-key ligh ting crea tes a moody and powerful portrai t

Amber Tutton S trip ligh ts on ei ther side of Amber crea te a crisp, even ligh t

June Converting to mono can really bring ou t a subjec t’s charac ter

want to appear here? Send a brief bio and four jpegs, with the subject line ‘me & my nikon’, to mail@nphotomag.com www.nphotomag.com

August 2014

67


68 Nikon Know-How

You won’t get far without a memory card – but what are your options, and what do all the numbers and logos on the front of a card mean? We explain it all

72 Nikon Software

This issue, we explore Capture NX-D’s range of tonal adjustment tools, from Exposure Compensation and the Tone panel to Levels and Curves

74 Ask Chris…

From choosing a first D-SLR to unscrambling the alphabetti spaghetti of lens names, our Nikon expert is here to answer all your queries

Some Nikons take two cards, and you can use twin slots in a variety of ways

twin slots Some Nikon D-SLRs have two card slots… but why? ■ It gives you wider compatibility with an existing collection of memory cards. For example, the D800 takes both CF and SD cards. ■ The Nikon D4s is a special case, because one slot takes conventional CF cards while the second uses the new, super-fast XQD format. ■ Some cameras, like the Nikon D610, have two identical SD card slots. The second card can act as extra storage (overflow) when the first is full. ■ The second card can also be used to keep a backup of your images as you shoot – if one card fails, your images are on the second. ■ And if you shoot RAW+JPEG files simultaneously, you can save each file type to a different card.

nikon know-how

Memory cards explained

There’s much more to choosing these storage devices than simply getting the right type… It’s easy to take memory cards for granted. However, you only have to go into a camera shop to realise that memory cards come in a bewildering array of sizes, formats and speeds. It’s easy to work out what memory card format you need – unless you own a Nikon D4 or D4s, it’s either Compact Flash or SD. As far as capacity is concerned, your camera’s LCD display will tell you how many images you can save on your current

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memory card. If you shoot RAW files, which we usually recommend, you’ll need more storage space, but a 16 gigabyte card should be enough, although individual needs will vary.

Memory card formats

Compact Flash is the oldest memory card format still in use. They’ve disappeared from Nikon’s beginner and enthusiast D-SLRs, but are still going strong in the top-end pro models. They come in two types,

and Type I cards fit all cameras. Type II cards are fatter, and are no longer made or supported. Most Type II ‘cards’ were a clever but fragile miniature hard disk ‘MicroDrive’ design, but solid state Type I cards have long since outstripped the capacity of Type II cards. SD cards are the most common card type, and are used across the Nikon range except for in top-end pro models. Although all SD cards are physically the same, there are

three types. SD cards are the oldest and will work in any camera with an SD card slot. SDHC cards are newer but only work in SDHC-compatible cameras (see the list overleaf). SDXC cards are newer still and need an SDXC-compatible camera. Finally, XQD is a brand-new format used in the D4 and D4s. The cards offer potentially huge capacities and ultra-fast data transfer speeds, but it’s early days, and the future of the format is by no means guaranteed.

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NIKON KNOW-HOW Memory cards on the cards

What the numbers mean

SD cards and Compact Flash memory cards carry a bewildering array of names, numbers and icons. Let us explain what they mean, and why they are important 1

1 ‘Extreme Pro’ is just one of SanDisk’s brand names.

8 2

rating. Class 10 cards are designed for shooting full HD video. Class 6 and Class 4 cards can do it in theory but may stutter or drop frames.

It’s not a defined standard for card performance. Most makers break up their memory cards into ‘families’.

2 This logo tells you whether it’s an SDHC card (which this one is), ordinary SD (rare these days) or SDXC.

3 If you see an additional ‘I’ here, it means the card

7 3 6 5

4

conforms to the faster UHS-I standard. There’s an even faster UHS-II standard found on the most expensive memory cards.

4 This indicates the card capacity. Card capacity and speed don’t always go together, though the more expensive cards generally offer both.

memory card within the Lexar range, but it doesn’t relate to any overall standard for Compact Flash memory cards.

2 The maximum speed of the memory card is

sometimes quoted as a multiple of the old CDROM standard, which was 150KB/s. This card’s ‘1066x’ speed equates to 155MB/s.

3 Compact Flash cards don’t use SD card ‘Class’

ratings for minimum sustained speed, but some have a VGP (Video Performance Guarantee) logo. VPG 20 is 20MB/s, VPG 65 is 65MB/s.

conforms to the UHS-I standard. It’s broadly equivalent to Class 10 speed, but uses an intrinsically faster system.

7 This is the card’s maximum speed, but it will only

achieve this under ideal conditions. It’s helpful for choosing a card for stills, but not for video, where you need a reliable minimum speed.

8 This lock switch is unique to SD/SDHC/SDXC cards –

5 A number in a circle tells you the card’s minimum speed 1 T he ‘Professional’ branding identifies this

6 This ‘1 in a bucket’ symbol indicates that this card also

you don’t get it on Compact Flash cards. You can use it to prevent accidental deletion of the card contents.

4 Newer memory cards use the faster UDMA

standard, and all recent Nikon D-SLRs support UDMA (see the table overleaf). UDMA 7 is the newest and fastest variant.

5 Compact Flash cards once came in Type I and

thicker Type II variants. Type II is no longer made and not supported by today’s Nikon D-SLRs. All Compact Flash cards now are Type I.

1 2 6 5

3

4

6 Card capacity is quoted in GB, as it is with SD cards. This one has a capacity of 128Gb, but Lexar has recently announced it is making a 256GB Compact Flash card.

Faster, faster!

How much speed do you need? A faster memory card doesn’t necessarily make your camera work faster, and there’s more than one kind of ‘speed’… 01 Continuous 02 HD video: minimum sustained speed When you shoot HD video, the camera has to write the data straight to shooting: the memory card in ‘real time’. If the minimum ‘sustained’ speed falls below a maximum possible certain level, you get dropped frames in your footage. This is why SD/SDHC/ speed

A faster memory card won’t let your Nikon shoot at a faster rate. The frame rate is fixed by the camera hardware. But the camera is saving images faster than it can write them to the memory card, so it saves them temporarily to an internal memory ‘buffer’ while it’s shooting. The faster the memory card, the longer it takes for this buffer to fill up, and the quicker it can empty the buffer when it’s full. So a faster card will let you shoot a longer burst, and it will reduce the delay before the camera is ready to start shooting again. The maximum speed rating of the memory card is a pretty good guide to how well it’s going to do this.

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SDXC memory cards now have a ‘Class’ rating and some CF cards have VPG 20 (20MB per second, fine for amateur use) and VPG 65 (65MB per second, for pros) logos. A minimum sustained speed of 10MB HD video speed Minimum sustained per second is adequate SD Class 10 10MB/s for 1920 x 1080 full HD SD U-1 10MB/s video, while 30MB per SD U-3 30MB/s second is needed for the new 4K video standard, CF VPG 20 20MB/s though no current Nikon CF VPG 65 65MB/s D-SLRs shoot 4K video.

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NIKOPEDIA

The only camera manual you’ll ever need

Pick a card…

Which cards can you use?

Here are all Nikon D-SLRs launched since 2005 – and the memory card formats and types they use

You can find more information about your specific camera’s requirements in your manual, but here we’ve listed a relatively limited number of brands and card sizes as a guide. Don’t worry

if you’ve got something different. There may be rare incompatibilities, but in general one brand works just as well as another. It’s hard to offer concrete advice about memory card sizes. The

Compact Flash Year

Model

2005

Nikon D50 Nikon D200

2006

Nikon D40

2007

Nikon D3 (x2)

Type I

Type II

Y

Y, UDMA

Y

Y

Nikon D3x (x2)

Y, UDMA

Y

Nikon D3s (x2)

Y, UDMA

Nikon D300s (x2)

Y, UDMA

Nikon D3000

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

SD cards are the oldest and least powerful SD card type, with a maximum capacity of 2Gb. You can still use SD cards in modern digital cameras, but their low capacity limits their usefulness. As a result, standard SD cards are rarely seen now – SDHC is the new norm.

Y

Y

Nikon D3100

Y

Y

Y

Nikon D7000 (x2)

Y

Y

Y

2011

Nikon D5100

Y

Y

Y

2012

Nikon D4 (x2)

Y, UDMA

Nikon D600 (x2)

2013

2014

Y Y

Y, UHS-1

Y, UHS-1

Y

Y, UHS-1

Y, UHS-1

Nikon D3200

Y

Y, UHS-1

Y, UHS-1

Nikon Df

Y

Y, UHS-1

Y, UHS-1

Nikon D5300

Y

Y, UHS-1

Y, UHS-1

Nikon D7100 (x2)

Y

Y, UHS-1

Y, UHS-1

Nikon D610 (x2)

Y

Y, UHS-1

Y, UHS-1

Y

Y, UHS-1

Y, UHS-1

Nikon D800/e (x2)

Nikon D4s (x2)

Y, UDMA

Y, UDMA

Nikon D3300

August 2014

Compact Flash Type I cards are 3.5mm thick and are still used today. Newer cards and cameras use the faster UDMA interface for higher transfer speeds. Compact Flash cards come in many capacities – in 2013, SanDisk launched a 256GB card. Compact Flash Type II cards were 5mm thick and are no longer supported by modern Nikon D-SLRs – the last model to support them was the D3x, which was released in 2008. Most Type II CF cards were ‘MicroDrives’ – tiny spinning hard disk drives in a CF-sized case.

Nikon D5000 2010

XQD

Y, UDMA

Nikon D60

70

SDXC

Y

Nikon D300

Nikon D90

2009

SDHC

Y

Nikon D40x

Nikon D700

SD Y

Nikon D80

2008

SD

manual will list sizes available at the time the camera was released, but higher-capacity cards released later should work too. The manual only lists cards which have been tested by Nikon.

SDHC cards are a faster, highercapacity replacement for the SD format. Card sizes go up to 32Gb, with card speeds up to Class 10 and UHS-I. You can only use SDHC cards in cameras that support them – and happily, all Nikon D-SLRs released since 2006 support SDHC. SDXC cards offer higher capacities even than SDHC, starting at 64GB and going up to a theoretical maximum of 2TB. SDXC cards typically come with a UHS-1 speed rating. You can only use SDXC cards in cameras that support them. This includes cameras from 2010 on.

Y

The new XQD format is designed for high capacities and high data transfer speeds. So far, the professionalstandard D4 and D4s are the only cameras to use this new card format. It offers capacities in excess of 2Tb and potential transfer speeds of 125-500GB per second.

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NIKOPEDIA

The only camera manual you’ll ever need

03 04

NIKON CAPTURE NX-D

tone up your shots

Part 4 Rod Lawton explores Capture NX-D’s tonal adjustments

JARGON BUSTER Key image editing terms explained Clipping

This is where the end of the image histogram is cut off. If this happens at the left end it means shadow areas will come out a solid black. If it happens at the right end, highlights are ‘blown’ and will come out a solid white.

Exposure Compensation

Manually shifting the exposure away from the camera’s setting to make it darker or lighter.

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Not every image you shoot with your Nikon D-SLR will be perfectly exposed. Tricky lighting conditions or unusually dark- or light-toned subjects can fool the camera’s light meter into under-exposing or over-exposing the picture, but if the error is small you can fix this later using Nikon Capture NX-D. There may be other times when the exposure is correct but the picture just lacks contrast. You get this if you’re shooting through glass or under very flat, overcast lighting. Capture NX-D can fix this too. But how? This isn’t so obvious. In fact, Capture NX-D offers three ways to make tonal adjustments, and you

can use them individually or together. It looks more complicated than it is, because Capture NX-D is trying to do three things. First, it’s acting as a RAW converter for your Nikon NEF files. That’s what the controls at the top of the Edit panel are for – they apply core RAW adjustments, including an Exposure Compensation tool to help get the best tonal range from your RAW files. If you’re shooting RAW, this is a good starting point. Second, it’s attempting to match the Picture Control options you get in the camera by offering a Tone panel with Brightness, Contrast and Saturation sliders. These mimic the

effect of those adjustments on the camera, but they’re not the best tools for subtle image editing. Third, Capture NX-D is also an image-editing tool in its own right. Specifically, it has a Levels and Curves dialog which enables you to make the same kind of subtle tonal adjustments you get in Photoshop. You don’t have to use all three of Capture NX-D’s tonal adjustments, just the ones that are most useful to you. For example, if you’re working on JPEGs, you might go straight to the Levels & Curves panel, while if you’re starting from a RAW file, you might make a quick Exposure Compensation adjustment first.

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The only camera manual you’ll ever need

NIKOPEDIA

HOW IT WORKS Tone adjustment tools Capture NX-D gives you a number of options for altering tones in your images – take a look at these 01

02

01 Histogram

This is an indispensable guide to the effect of your adjustments. You can use it to adjust the Exposure Compensation slider and get the best tonal range out of your RAW files, and you can check it to make sure any further tonal adjustments you make don’t cause ‘clipping’.

02 Exposure Compensation

05

RAW (NEF) files contain extra tonal range compared to JPEGs, and you can use the Exposure Compensation slider to make use of this. It’s not ‘real’ exposure compensation – you can’t alter the camera’s exposure settings after a shot has been taken – but it’s often enough to rescue small exposure errors.

03 Tone

The Tone button is split in two. The left side displays the Tone panel, which has Brightness, Contrast and Saturation sliders, just like those you see on the camera when you modify the Picture Controls. However, they’re not very subtle, and there are better ways to modify your images.

Where to get Capture NX-D

Nikon’s new software is available as free beta! Nikon Capture NX-D is still in its development phase, and Nikon is adding features and removing bugs in response to user feedback. Since our last issue, Nikon has released a new beta version (0.9.2) with

reliability improvements, updated White Balance options and adjustments to the interface. You can download the beta from http://beta. nikonimglib.com and try it out for yourself.

04 Tone (Detail)

The right side of the Tone button displays the Tone (Detail) panel. This is quite interesting because it has sliders for Highlight Protection (recovering clipped highlights), Shadow Protection (recovering shadows) and D-Lighting HS – this Nikon’s system for bringing out darker tones without affecting the rest. We’ll look at these options in a future tutorial.

05 Levels & Curves

Capture NX-D’s Levels and Curves panel offers much more subtlety and control than its Tone panel. You can use curves adjustments to change the brightness and contrast of your image without clipping any important shadow and highlight detail, and the panel also displays the histogram, which will help you judge where to place your curve control points.

Which adjustments to use We’ve got an image that lacks contrast and depth, so what’s the best way to fix it?

Exposure Compensation

It’s important to make sure the shadows 01 (left side) or highighlights (right side) aren’t ‘Clipped’, and the Exposure Compensation slider is the best tool to use for this. It uses the extra dynamic range of the RAW file to allow a +1 or -1 exposure shift in either direction.

Tone and Tone Detail

We could now use Capture NX-D’s Tone 02 panel to improve the image, but the adjustments it makes are quite crude. Look what happens to the histogram if we reduce the brightness and increase the contrast – it’s being clipped at both ends of the scale.

To watch the video use this web link… bit.ly/NPhoto35

Levels and Curves

It’s much better to use the Levels & Curves panel to adjust the brightness and contrast. Dragging the bottom of the curve downwards and the top upwards to create an ’S-shaped’ curve that simply compresses the shadow and highlight tones rather than clipping them.

03

August 2014

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NIKOPEDIA

The only camera manual you’ll ever need

Get in touch…

Ask Chris...

If you’d like Chris to come to the rescue regarding your Nikon-related question, email it to mail@nphotomag.com. Please note that we reserve the right to edit any queries for clarity or brevity. You can also write to us at: N-Photo Magazine, 30 Monmouth Street, Bath BA1 2BW, UK

Our resident expert answers your questions and solves your issues. If nobody else can help, ask Chris!

What do the letters G, ED, IF and VR stand for? Roy Marshall, Bristol, UK Chris says… The abbreviations on lenses seem like gobbledygook, but they are important for helping you distinguish one lens from the next. Here are some of the most common:

If you had to choose between these two cameras, which would you choose?

I’m looking for my first D-SLR and don’t have much budget. Should I go for a D3100 or a D3200? Annie Pettit, Michigan, USA Chris says… You ask if there is a huge difference in picture quality between these two cameras. As you are trading up from a Kodak point-and-shoot, you are going to notice a phenomenal jump in creative potential and in overall image quality whichever of the two you pick. Both are sensible first SLR choices for a school student like you. However, there are significant differences between these two. The spec of the sensor is the big one – the D3100 offers a 14-megapixel sensor, whereas the D3200 uses the 24-megapixel CMOS sensor found on most of Nikon’s recent SLRs. That is a big jump in detail. The motordrive also gets a boost when you go a step up, maxing out at four frames per second, rather than three frames per second. And there is a small boost in maximum ISO sensitivity too, from ISO3200 to ISO6400. Perhaps the biggest difference is in the screen on the back, with the resolution jumping fourfold from 230,000 dots to a very reasonable 921,000 dots. The D3200 is slightly more expensive than the D3100 – although the differential has got less as the D3100 starts to disappear from more stores. If you can afford to, I’d buy the D3200, though the D3100 is still a decent camera that’s capable of taking excellent photographs.

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AF-S An autofocus (AF) lens with a silent-wave motor built into it. It ensures full AF on all Nikon D-SLRs. D Type of autofocus lens introduced to relay distance information from the lens to the camera body to improve exposure metering. The G-type lenses also do this. ED Extra-low Dispersion. Uses special glass to minimise colour fringing. G Nikon lens that lacks an aperture ring (aperture is adjusted by controls on the camera itself). IF internal focusing. The lens can focus without the length of the lens changing. VR Vibration reduction. System built into the lens designed to compensate for camera shake.

Ever wondered what all those abbreviations mean?

NEF 23.8MB

JPEG 6.2MB

The extra information in RAW files is what enables you to change the White Balance, exposure and colour settings later

My JPEGs are 6MB, but my NEFs are 24MB. Is this normal? Nancy Giambani, Athens, Greece Chris says… Your results are completely normal! Going from 23.8Mb to 6.2Mb is exactly what I would expect. When you make a JPEG from a RAW file, two things happen: 1) Extra unused data in the RAW file is discarded. 2) The JPEG format uses sophisticated compression techniques that can massively reduce the file size with negligible effect on image quality.

My D5100 won’t fire and displays ‘Error: Press shutter button’. Help! Lynne Tucker, Los Angeles, USA Chris says… You probably need to send your camera to an authorised repair centre. The message generally indicates the shutter mechanism is stuck. However, it is worth having a look for solutions online. We found this at Nikonites.com: “I just had a similar problem on my D5100… The lower-right corner of the mirror was binding with the stop. We were able to GENTLY pry the corner of the mirror away from the stop (from the right) and now it is functioning flawlessly.” It sounds a risky DIY repair, but the solution had worked for three different people with the problem.

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ASK CHRIS Your questions answered

answers in a flash!

Find exactly the right exposure length with the help of a free phone app

I want a camera strap with a quick-release mechanism

What’s the difference between a polariser and the Landscape Picture Control?

Roy Hall, via email

Chris says… I’m a fan of OpTech’s neoprene straps. (http://optechusa.com)

Recommend a wedding photography course!

Roy Marshall, Bristol, UK Chris says… Picture Controls adjust things like sharpening and contrast. (See page 56 for more details.) The Landscape preset, among other things, reduces contrast so there is less risk of burnt-out skies. A polariser reduces polarised light in a scene, and can intensify the blue of a sky. The effect is hard to recreate in processing, so should be used at the time of shooting.

Jimmy LK, London, UK

Is there an app for Android phones to calculate exposures with ND filters?

Chris says… Many of the UK’s best wedding photographers trained at Aspire (www.aspire photographytraining.co.uk).

Chris says… These apps are useful for trying to work out an exposure when using a Lee Big Stopper or another high-density neutral density filter which can be used to lengthen the exposure by up to 10 stops. I use LongTime Exposure Calculator on my Apple iPhone. Unfortunately this free

How do I become an N-Photo contributor?

Gerald Gill, Bristol, UK

app doesn’t have an Android version, but I think I have tracked down something similar that will do the trick on your Nokia Lumia 625. It is called Exposed, and it is available through GooglePlay for Android devices. It’s also free, and looks like it is highly rated by those who have installed it.

Joaquim Pinho, Brighton, UK Chris says… Send a low-res selection of your best shots to mail@nphotomag.com

HELP ME CHOOSE...

NIKON 50mm f/1.8D vs 50mm f/1.8G Two of the cheapest lenses that Nikon make, and they seem so, so similar. So which do you choose?

Key differences 01 The G lens has a built-in autofocus motor. It can be used successfully with all Nikon digital SLRs.

02 The D lens has no built-in

motor, so will not offer AF on the D40, D40x, D60, D3000 series or D5000 series.

you want to use it on an old Nikon 35mm film SLR.

Nikon 50mm f/1.8G £149, $220

Launched 2002

Weighs 155g

Launched 2011

Weighs 185g

Seven-blade iris

Depth of field scale

Seven-blade iris

AF-S

Update of the lens that came as standard with every Nikon SLR back in the days before zooms ruled the world.

Made in China with a plastic exterior and a metal mount. Optical construction consists of six elements in five groups.

The AF-S ‘G’ version was recently introduced to complement the faster, costlier 50mm f/1.4G lens in the Nikon range.

Made in China with plastic exterior with a metal mount. Optical construction is seven elements in six groups.

05 The G lens allows you to focus the lens manually even if it is switched to AF mode; just turn the focus ring. With the D lens, you need to switch AF off first.

03 Both lenses open up to f/1.8, but the D lens can close down to f/22, while the G can only offer f/16.

06 The D lens has a 52mm

04 The D lens has a manual aperture ring – essential if

lens hood; this is an optional extra on the D (£22/$19).

www.nphotomag.com

Nikon 50mm f/1.8D £109, $130

filter ring, while the G version’s thread is 58mm.

07 The G lens comes with a

The straight blades cause geometric heptagons in out-offocus highlights.

Clear distance scale with depth of field markings for f/11 and f/22. Lacks full-time manual focus override.

The aperture blades are curved, creating more roundly shaped out-offocus highlights.

August 2014

Built-in motor ensures that it offers full AF operation with all Nikon D-SLRs, including budget models.

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August 2014

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CLOSE-UP

The N-Photo interview

For more than 20 years Ross Woodhall has worked the ski slopes, making some of the most breathtaking winter sport images. He tells Keith Wilson why he believes photography has given him the perfect life… oss Woodhall knows his life could have been very different. He grew up in the West Midlands, Britain’s industrial heartland, and left school to work as an electrician. It seemed his childhood love for sport and the outdoors would become a thing of the past. Then he met a man in a poncho in a pub… When did you become first interested in photography? I met a bloke in a pub. This would be 1991. I met a friend who I hadn’t seen for a couple of years and he turned up wearing a poncho. He had long hair and a tan. Sounds like an interesting reunion? I said, “Hello mate, where have you been?” He said, “I’ve been in Chile snowboarding.” I said, “Where’s Chile? What’s snowboarding?” I then met a mate of his, a painter – of door frames, not canvasses – and I asked him where he was working, thinking he was on one of the local sites, but he said he was working in the Alps. I said, ‘You don’t need an electrician do you?’ The next morning I woke up with this hangover and an enormous telephone number on a beer mat. I looked at it, rang it, and two days later I was in the Alps! How old were you then? I was 22 and utterly hating life as an electrician and thinking, ‘Have I got to do this for the next 40-odd years?’ I did the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards scheme as a kid and was always outdoors, and all I knew was that I wanted to be outdoors. What sort of pursuits were you into? Cycling, hill walking in Wales, canoeing, kayaking and a little bit of climbing. I’d been skiing twice, once with the school.

On the edge D3s, Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II, 1/100 sec, f/9, ISO200

Did you ever undergo any sort of photography training? I had no training whatsoever. In the Alps I met one guy from Winchester, a rep for a ski company, and we would go out snowboarding. He had a Canon AE-1, and

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CLOSE-UP

WOODHALL www.nphotomag.com

August 2014

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Flinging up snow Nikon D4, Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II, 1/2000 sec, f/8, ISO200

he said we should take it and take some pictures of us snowboarding. He never did, but he left the camera in the room and I picked it up, looked through the viewfinder and thought, ‘This is a cool piece of kit.’ When did you get your first SLR? I went to New Zealand after deciding I was going to be a snowboarding instructor. Before I went, I was told I needed an SLR, so I swapped a crash helmet for an old Russian Zenit! After the instructor’s course I got two months off and did lots of snowboarding. There was this girl at

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the top who was taking pictures of people as they were coming off the chairlift and I kept asking her what shutter speed have you got and what aperture have you got? Another day, I was snowboarding around and this guy came up and said he was a photographer for a snowboarding magazine and asked to do some pictures of me. It turned out his girlfriend was the girl taking the pictures at the top of the chairlift. So you learnt your basic knowledge from this couple? Yeah, that’s right. I was desperate for cash at the time so I asked if they needed another photographer. They said, “Yeah, but we want a girl.” I kept hassling them and three weeks later they hadn’t got a girl,

so I said, “Well I have got long hair!” They gave me a camera, took me to the top of the chairlift and said, “Just shoot everything at 1/250 sec at f/8.” Have you worked in photography ever since? Yes, ever since that day. After the season was over in New Zealand I went home, bought exactly the same equipment and replicated the business in the Alps. That couple then came over from New Zealand and came to work for me in France. For years, we went back and forth like that. What camera were you using then? After the Zenit, it was a Pentax P30T, a fully manual camera. I had a 28mm

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Ross Woodhall

I was told I needed an SLR, so I swapped a crash helmet for an old Russian Zenit! Ross Woodhall Action & lifestyle photographer

Bright on the piste Nikon D4, Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II, 1/2000 sec, f/8, ISO200

Sheer effort Nikon D800, Nikon AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED, 1/500 sec, f/5.6, ISO200

wide-angle and for the first two or three years I shot all action with just one shot. I made a million mistakes along the way. By 1995, I cracked it. What do you mean? I knew what I was doing! Did you then become more adventurous in your photography? When I went to New Zealand all I wanted to be was a pro snowboarder, so my dream was to fly around the planet snowboarding in the world’s greatest locations. When I picked up the camera I realised then that I wasn’t going to make it as a snowboarder because I’ve got too much of a survival instinct. I’d peer over a 60-foot cliff and

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PROFILE With his unique skills and style, Ross has built up an impressive client list ■ Ross Woodhall has been a professional commercial action and lifestyle photographer since 1993, and is known for his snowsports photography. ■ For eight years he was the senior photographer and photo editor at Fall-Line magazine and also a contracted photographer with The North Face clothing

company for four years. ■ Ross’s corporate clients include Bolle, The Daily Mail Group, Mountain Warehouse, Oakley, Dare2b, Luke 1977, Snow + Rock and the Ski Club of Great Britain. ■ Ross produces both stock photography and works to

commissions. He is represented by Getty Images and Cultura Creative, Veer and Alamy.

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Running in wintry shropshire Nikon D800, Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G, 1/800 sec, f/5, ISO400

think, ‘Hang on, I might break my legs here’, whereas all the top professionals didn’t care less if they broke their legs. You were more risk averse? A little bit, yes. I just had that little bit of self-preservation and I thought the guy behind the camera has got a better career

The camera I reach for is the D800. If I’m shooting action, or in a environment where the light’s poor, the D4 is fantastic Ross Woodhall Action & lifestyle photographer 82

August 2014

prospect. I was so into photography at this point, so I changed my plan. Instead of being a top snowboarder I was going to be a top ski and snowboard photographer. Where are your favourite locations? New Zealand is fantastic. You can’t go wrong. Norway and the Arctic Circle is great. As soon as you get into the mountains it’s all brilliant. I nearly made it to Chile and Argentina, but it’s still on the hit list. I quite fancy horse riding with the gauchos. Japan too, I’d like to go there, but Fukushima has put me off a bit. What was your first Nikon camera? I only jumped to Nikon about four years ago. In 1995 I was weighing up my options.

All the Aussie guys I worked with were on FM2s with motordrives. I was all set to get an FM2 and an F4. Then the Canon EOS 5 came out. It was capable of shooting five frames per second, and that and the silent wave autofocus system swung it for us. All the Aussie guys switched too so we were Canon for a long time, maybe 12 to 14 years. But when digital came Canon started playing this game with their sports cameras, which only used a cropped chip, so as soon as the Nikon D3 came out my ears pricked up. I got the D3 and some lenses to try for a week and the files were beautifully smooth. I thought, ‘That’s it, I’ll do it.’ I sold my Canon gear, my Hasselblads, my Mamiyas. I even sold my filters. I gave myself two weeks on eBay

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Ross Woodhall

HARD DRIVES & TERABYTES Shooting action on large files eats up a lot of memory, which means Ross needs a lot of storage to stay on top of his workflow… How do you stay on top of image processing and workflow? ■ We shoot everything RAW, process out at 16-bit TIFFs and work on that, using a lot of layers. Backing up is becoming a major problem, especially with the D800. I just did a job and shot 500 gigabytes of images. There’s an eight-terabyte drive up there, a four-terabyte drive there that’s filled up in no time at all and there’s about 12 terabytes plugged into this computer here. I save everything as TIFFs, I save everything as JPEGs for web and then we supply everything to the client via a server in the United States. Do you delete any images? ■ I never delete anything. When I had been digital about a year I edited a bit and 18 months later someone wanted a stock image and of course I had deleted them! So, I’ve learnt my lesson, I never ever delete a single file now.

mountain biking crazy Nikon D800, Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G ED, 1/125 sec, f/8, ISO50

to get shot of the lot. Then I walked into Calumet and spent £16,000 on Nikon gear! What kit is in your camera bag for a typical day’s shoot? It depends on the client’s needs. Generally, the camera I reach for is the D800. If I’m shooting action, or in an environment where the light’s poor, the D4 is fantastic. How many camera bodies do you own? I have a D4, D800 and D300s. I’m thinking of getting another D800, but the D4 files are so superb I can blow them up to 300Mb and it’s not an issue at all. With the D800 you don’t need a medium-format. Lenses, I’ve got the 14-24mm f/2.8, 24-70mm f/2.8, 70-200mm f/2.8, 35mm

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off-piste Nikon D4, Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II

f/1.4, 50mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.4, and I’ve got an 18-200mm travel lens, plus the 24-120mm f/4. I really like the 200-400mm f/4 too, but I hire those when I need them. That was a long list; so what is your ‘desert island’ lens? Well, I’ve just hired a 24-120mm f/4 because I broke my 24-70mm, so I’d go for that. With a D800, if you put the DX crop on the 24-120mm, it’s going to push it almost to 200mm. So you’ve effectively got a 24-200mm at a constant f/4, and it’s a really good quality lens. What about flash? I’ve got a couple of Nikon Speedlights, but I use Elinchrom for studio work.

What about when you’re outdoors? The Elinchrom again. Used remotely the range can be limited but I’ve got the PocketWizards as well. I’m toying with the new Speedlights at the moment because they’re a bit more powerful. I’m looking at using them for portraits. How do you relax? Fly fishing. I want to go to Alaska, get in a floatplane and go fly fishing. My fishing ideas are out there. That’s one of my retirement plans, fly fishing photography. It’s very different to the high-speed subjects you’re renowned for… I know. When you hit that fish, the pulse is racing and there’s an adrenaline rush.

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FOOD & DRINK Ross is diversifying into subjects such as interiors and food photography. But the locations continue to be spectacular… Shooting food and drink? That couldn’t be more opposite to shooting outdoor action… ■ I know, but I really like eating! How did it come about? ■ Three or four years ago I got a job in Courchevel to shoot interiors of some high-end chalets, £120,000 per week to rent! It opened up a world that was completely alien to me. I walked into this world of multi-millionaires. So I started shooting these interiors: move those flowers, puff that pillow up. There are no blizzards, no cliffs to fall off; it was a piece of cake! While we were shooting they were testing the chefs out on us. These chalets have fully trained chefs and they’d feed us like they’d feed the clients. I’d go home half a stone heavier. I was asked to shoot some of the food as well, so I started shooting food and putting it on the website and it all took off from there. I have a job next week, if it comes off, for Nestlé in Switzerland. Last week I was shooting Sunday lunches for Whitbread. It’s great cash.

Top-quality catering Nikon D800, Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II

I don’t care if I don’t catch anything because I can sit by the river and watch the water. It sounds hypnotic? It is hypnotic and fly fishing is such an art. To catch a fish is such a skill, to put a fly into the right place so that it looks natural. Fly fishing is right up there.

I don’t really do high-end fashion or fashion in the studio – I like working outdoors. I find the backdrops are better! Ross Woodhall Action & lifestyle photographer 84

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Wrap up warm Nikon D800, Nikon AF 35mm f/2D, 1/250 sec, f/14, ISO400

What’s the oddest thing in your bag? I used to have a beer bottle cap, but I lost it and I’m gutted because when I got it I was sitting in a bar in Alaska after a mind-blowing day. We had been shooting the World Extreme Snowboarding Championships, and were dropped off on a glacier at sunset and snowboarded down in a perfect pink alpenglow in waist-deep snow. Got picked up by a yellow school bus, went to a bar, I had a bottle of beer and I put the bottle cap in my pocket. I used it to take tripod mounts off, like a screwdriver. I used to take that everywhere with me. Also, I’ve got a pack of Co-codamol in case anyone gets injured. I’ve got a survival blanket and laundry bags to put over the flash heads to act as a diffuser.

You are now shooting outdoor adventure fashion. Why? There’s me and another photographer pushing it. We were both working on the same idea without talking to each other. We were both pushing the industry ourselves to improve their game. We’ve gone to clients and said, ‘Why don’t we shoot like this?’ Ten years ago I don’t think the flash systems were available, the technology wasn’t available, especially for the location stuff, but when clients see the results they buy into it. Where have you been shooting? Mostly the UK and Europe. It’s been a slow burner because I don’t really do high-end fashion or fashion in the studio – I like

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Ross Woodhall

Chalet Brames, meribel Nikon D3x, Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G ED, 1 sec, f/22, ISO200

working outdoors. I find the backdrops are better! We did a job for a men’s magazine in Canada on a glacier at 3,400 metres. They were really pleased with the results. How many Gigabytes of images do you think you shoot in a week or a month? In March I racked up two terabytes. It’s action, so I’m shooting at 10 frames per second. I would say at the moment it’s typically between 500 gigabytes and a terabyte per month. This month is a bit slow but next month might be crazy. The D800 files are so huge we have to downsize them to give them to the stock agencies. Could you shoot a wedding if you had to? I’m doing one on Sunday. Not commercially.

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So it’s for friends? It’s their wedding present. I do weddings for really close friends. I shoot them and then supply them with a hardback book with all the pictures. I have thought about doing weddings and I know a lot of guys who earn a really good living from it. But you know, you’re dealing with a woman on the most stressful day of her life… It’s not even that, it’s what happens if it all goes wrong? I can’t be held responsible for that. A £170,000 shoot might go out the window, but not that! There’s no fury like a bride scorned, so I keep well away from that. What type of assignment presents the biggest challenge? I’ve got one coming up next week. It’s a

Home comforts (ABOVE LEFT) Nikon D3x, Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II, 0.5 sec, f/3.5, ISO100 fancy fish supper (ABOVE RIGHT) Nikon D800, Nikon AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED, 1 sec, f/22, ISO200

fashion shoot and they want it shot in front of a fireworks display and a bonfire. I’ve got to try to figure that one out. Who is that for? It’s a UK fashion brand called Luke 1977. Their idea was ‘Blinded by the Light’ – every year has a theme. The concept is going to be bonfires because by the time it comes out it will be around bonfire time. I’m thinking of using the Nikon Speedlights

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because I can get rear curtain sync on that and I’ll probably use slower shutter speeds, then ping them with flash and get some blur. Is fashion part of a plan to wean yourself off the slopes as you get older? I’ve been shooting skiing photos for over 20 years. If I’ve shot one skier jumping over a cliff I’ve shot a million. It all starts to get a bit samey. I was a great ski photographer, but I thought, ‘There’s got to be more to photography than this.’ So we moved back to the UK and started commuting to the Alps. As I was back in the UK I thought I’d better start shooting a bit of mountain biking, a bit of running, and now we’ll pretty much shoot anything you like, including outdoor fashion.

Alpine cable cars Nikon D4, Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II, 1/1000 sec, f/14, ISO200

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Ross Woodhall

The camera is the perfect medium to complement your interests. The camera opens doors; let the camera open the door and just walk in Ross Woodhall Action & lifestyle photographer

Suit by Apsley (above) Nikon D800, Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II, 1/500 sec, f/4, ISO500 Fashion shoot, Wales (left) Nikon D4, Nikon AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, 1/500 sec, f/6.3, ISO400

What has been your greatest moment? I remember standing on a glacier in Alaska once. We went in to land and it had been snowing heavily. The week before the pilot had got his plane stuck. A week later we’re up there and the pilot is freaking out because he didn’t want to get stuck again, and he came in too fast and literally rolled off the edge of the glacier. He pulled back, did a loop around and came back to land in his tracks. The guide and I got out and he took off again. We stood there and the guide said, “Listen to that. Just say nothing and listen to that.” It was the sound of silence and it was roaring in my ears. So we’re just standing there, saying nothing and listening to the sound of silence. Then a butterfly flew past and I thought ‘What

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the hell is a butterfly doing at the top of a glacier in Alaska?’ If young Ross Woodhall were starting out today, would there be anything he would do differently? Be a hedge fund manager! I don’t know. Would I go to college? I’m not sure I would. I think they beat the life out of kids before they even start. I’d probably start earlier, at 16 rather than 22. How much longer do you think you’ll keep snowboarding? I’ll keep doing that for as long as I can mountain bike, which is for as long as I can walk. I will never stop. I’ll just carry on until I physically cannot do it any more.

So snowboarding and mountain biking are bigger passions than photography? You know what? If I won the lottery, I wouldn’t change anything. My life is fantastic, really. Snowboarding is a passion, so is mountain biking, photography, fly fishing, food, music. I’ve tried to create a job out of everything that I’m into. The good thing about photography is that if you find something else that you are into, you can shoot that as well. The camera is the perfect medium to complement your interests. The camera opens doors; let the camera open the door and just walk in. • See more of Ross’s photos on his website at www.rosswoodhall.com

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PRO PICKS 5

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Louise Frost

Crime Scene Investigator Louise uses some highly specialised kit in her job recording forensic evidence Nikon D7100 kit (£970, $1400) 1

■ What’s it for? Avon and Somerset Constabulary recently upgraded its Crime Scene Investigator camera kits from the D200 to the D7100. They’re lighter and more compact, plus we now have the ability to record HD video of a scene. ■ Plus points The greater ISO range and VR in the 18105mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens has given us improved results in low-light conditions. ■ Minus marks We miss having a solid screen protector fitted.

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Nikon D300s kIT (UV Modified) £2524, $4280 2

■ What’s it for? Reflective ultraviolet imaging is used to show detail in photos of injuries like bruising and bite marks, as the UV light can penetrate deeper into the skin. It’s often used along with the Metz flash in post-mortem examinations. ■ Plus points It’s a UVdedicated kit, which makes it simple to set up and use. ■ Minus marks The light source must be very close to the subject, so only small areas can be covered.

Avon and Somerset Constabulary’s website is at www.avonand somerset.police.uk

Metz CT76 MZ-5 UV (£750, $1260) 3

■ What’s it for? This flash has been modified to fire through a UV filter, and teams up with the UV D-SLR for injury images. The Stroboframe holds the flash inverted, as close to the subject as possible. ■ Plus points The Metz has a powerful output, which is needed to get light through the dense UV filters. ■ Minus marks The illumination range is very short, so you must be close to the subject and you get fall-off around the edges.

Nikon AF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro (£370, $500) 4

■ What’s it for? Finger marks that we can’t recover with lifting methods or enhance with powders need to be photographed and scaled, and this lens gives us sharp images with good ridge detail. ■ Plus points It is also useful for close-up images of injuries, jewellery, tool marks and so on. ■ Minus marks The usual macro woes: shallow depth of field, and getting good lighting in the right places.

Manfrotto 303SPH QTVR head (£390, $630) 5

■ What’s it for? Capturing 360-degree images of a crime scene to create virtual tours for investigators and for court presentations. ■ Plus points Easy to change the rotation clicks from 4, 6, 8 etc. It can be calibrated to find the nodal point of your lens. ■ Minus marks The bracket creeps into the frame when using the Sigma 8mm f/3.5 Fisheye. It can be tricky to lock movements when doing nadir (floor) shots.

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test team

lenses

budGet telephoto zooms Extend your reach without overextending your budget. Matthew Richards puts the full range of reasonably priced telephoto zoom lenses to the test

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Budget telephoto zooms

THE CONTENDERS 1  Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG Macro £100, $145 2  Tamron AF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di LD Macro £100, $200 3  Sigma APO 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG Macro £150, $155 4  Nikon AF-S DX 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED £195, $160 5  Nikon AF-S DX 55-200mm f/4-5.6G IF-ED VR £230, $245 6  Nikon AF-S DX 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR £280, $395

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7  Tamron SP 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di VC USD £290, $450 8  Nikon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED VR £440, $590

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test team

The world’s toughest tests

equipment know-how

Features to look for… Get the right mix of features to suit how you shoot

Close-up facility

Both of the Sigma 70-300mm lenses and the non-VC Tamron 70-300mm are badged as ‘macro’ lenses. They focus closer to give an above-average 0.5x maximum reproduction ratio.

DX or FX?

DX-format lenses tend to be smaller and lighter in weight than FX-format ones, but are made specfically for the smaller sensor size – can only be used in crop mode on full-frame bodies.

Internal focus

Autofocus

For lenses that have fully internal focusing, the front element neither extends nor rotates (see comparison table, page 98). Autofocus can often be noticeably faster.

Of the lenses on test, only the Nikon 70-300mm VR and Tamron 70-300mm VC have quick and quiet ring-type ultrasonic autofocus, but all can autofocus on any Nikon D-SLR body.

Zoom range

Vibration Reduction

On DX (APS-C) bodies, lenses that stretch to 200mm or 300mm have an ‘effective’ maximum zoom setting of 300mm or 450mm respectively.

ny budget Nikon SLR kit with an 18-55mm zoom lens packs a punch when it comes to image quality. However, you can find yourself short on reach when you need to cover serious distance between yourself and your subject. This applies even if you buy an upmarket APS-C format body with an 18-105mm kit lens, or a fullframe body with a 24-85mm zoom. One solution is to go for a ‘superzoom’ lens that delivers everything from fairly wide-angle coverage to strong telephoto power. The problem is that image quality is usually compromised, with increased distortions and a slight lack of outright sharpness. For top performance and allround versatility, it’s generally best to supplement your standard zoom lens with a telephoto zoom. Indeed, once most of us have bought an SLR kit, it’s usually the next thing on the shopping list. High-end telephoto zooms aren’t cheap; the Nikon AF-S 70200mm f/2.8G VR II costs about

Nikon has generally revised the claimed effectiveness of its VR systems downwards to around three f-stops, to comply with recently introduced CIPA testing.

£1600/$2400, but budget ones are available for as little as £100/$145. So, what’s the difference?

A

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Getting what you pay for

jargon buster Optical stabiliser ■ This is a separate group of elements within the lens which is driven by a microprocessor and physically moves to offset the effects of camera shake.

Continuous autofocus ■ Continuous autofocus mode is ideal for tracking moving targets. Many Nikon cameras offer the choice of release-priority or focus-priority options.

Professional telephoto zooms tend to be packed with high quality glass, and have a ‘fast’ (wide) and constant maximum aperture that remains available throughout the zoom range. Things are scaled down in budget lenses. The largest available aperture will not only be narrower, but will shrink as you extend through the zoom range. Typically, it ranges from about f/4 at the short end of the zoom to f/5.6 at the long end. That makes budget telephoto zooms two f-stops slower than the high-end ones at their maximum reach. To maintain fast shutter speeds for freezing action, you may therefore need to bump up the ISO setting in dull light – but with the advances in high-ISO camera performance over the last few years, this is no longer a major issue. Another disadvantage of the relatively narrow maximum

aperture is that you can’t get such a tight depth of field. Even so, with a 200mm or 300mm focal length at f/5.6, there’s still scope for blurring the background. This makes telephoto zooms handy as portrait lenses, as well as for their more usual uses for sports and wildlife photography, where you can’t get as close as you might like to what you’re shooting. Another plus point of telephoto lenses is that they can shorten or compress perspective. This makes them useful for landscape photography. Altogether, a good budget telephoto zoom is a versatile tool. One thing that can be a problem when shooting with telephoto lenses is camera shake. With this in mind, many of the latest designs feature built-in optical stabilisation. It’s fitted to three out of the four Nikon lenses on test, as well as one of the two Tamrons. Curiously, while Sigma used to market a stabilised 70-300mm lens, it’s become obsolete and the company now only sells its older, non-stabilised telephoto zooms.

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Budget telephoto lenses

Step by step Freeze the action

Follow these tips to get sharper telephoto action shots

01 Shutter-priority

Switch to shutter-priority (S) mode and select a sufficiently high shutter speed to freeze the action. This typically varies between around 1/250 and 1/1000 of a second, depending on the speed at which the object is moving.

02 Auto ISO

To guard against underexposure (dark images) when using fast shutter speeds, select Auto ISO. Under insufficient lighting, the camera’s sensitivity setting will automatically be boosted by just enough to enable a correct exposure.

10 things we learned in this test

Here are a few things that came to light when we were out and about shooting with this test group of lenses

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Don’t mind the gap

There’s no need to worry about the gap in focal lengths covered by, say, 18-55mm and 70-300mm lenses. In practice, the missing focal lengths between 5570mm aren’t a problem.

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Supersized reach

The ‘effective’ 450mm focal length achieved by a 70-300mm lens on a DX body enables supertelephoto levels of reach without having to use a big, heavy lens.

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Filter frustration

Apart from the Nikon 55200mm (non-VR), all other lenses on test that lack internal focusing have front elements that rotate, making it hard to use polarising and ND graduated filters.

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In the hood

Telephoto lenses can be particularly susceptible to ghosting and flare. It pays to use the lens hoods supplied with all lenses in the group.

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Panning gold

It’s natural to think that the

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heavier lenses in the group will also be more cumbersome, but the extra weight often helps to enable a smoother handheld panning motion.

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Feet apart

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Future-proofing

When panning, it’s best to have your feet slightly apart and to swing from the hips. Keep on panning even after you’ve released the shutter button. Sigma and Tamron have stopped making their DX-format telephoto zoom lenses in the range covered by this test. An FXformat lens can be a better choice anyway, in case you decide to buy a full-frame body in the future.

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At the limit

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Into the corners

With most lenses in this budget class, sharpness drops off a little at the maximum telephoto zoom setting. At any focal length, you can generally increase sharpness towards the edges and corners of

03 Continuous drive

Releasing the shutter at the critical point can be difficult in action photography. Select highspeed continuous drive mode and continuous AF, and shoot a rapid burst of several exposures for the greatest chance of nailing the shot.

HOW WE do our tests…

Real world meets lab

We combine rigorous lab tests with real-world shooting for the most accurate results possible ■ To test real-world performance, we use lenses in wide-ranging lighting conditions on a variety of different camera bodies. We check for good build quality and handling, smooth and precise operation of zoom and focus rings, and test the effectiveness and accuracy of autofocus and optical stabilisers. We also run a full range of lab tests under controlled conditions, using the Imatest Master suite. Photos of test

charts are taken across the range of apertures and focal lengths and analysed for sharpness, distortion and chromatic aberrations (colour fringing). A summary of these results is shown towards the end of the group test, but we also take data from a wider range of apertures and zoom settings into consideration. Finally, we combine the lab tests and real-world shooting results to give overall ratings.

images by narrowing the aperture slightly from its widest available setting.

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Single AF

For very fast-moving objects, like racing cars or bikes that are coming directly towards you, continuous autofocus is unlikely to be able to keep up with the action. Use single AF and pre-focus on the point where you’ll want to take the shot.

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test team

The world’s toughest tests

Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG Macro £100, $145

Tamron AF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di LD Macro £100, $200

Very inexpensive for a full-frame format lens, and it even includes a macro facility

A fairly close match to the Sigma in design, build and quality, as well as in UK price

Quite compact for an FX-format telephoto zoom, this Sigma is only about two-thirds of the weight of the more upmarket, stabilised Nikon and Tamron 70-300mm lenses. Even so, its build feels pretty robust. The zoom and focus rings are both large and smooth in operation but, as with many other lenses in the group, the focus ring rotates during autofocus, which is not ideal for comfortable handling. The design is based on 14 elements in ten groups, of which one element features SLD (Special Low Dispersion) glass, aiming to reduce chromatic aberrations. A neat trick this lens shares with the other Sigma

Almost exactly the same physical size as the more basic of the two Sigma 70300mm lenses, the Tamron has a slightly larger filter thread of 62mm compared with 58mm, yet is more than 100g lighter in weight, at 435g. As such, it’s the lightest FX-compatible lens in the group. However, its build doesn’t feel quite as sturdy as that of the Sigma lenses and the mounting plate is plastic rather than metal. The Tamron shares the Sigma lenses’ 0.5x macro facility, which in this lens is available between a more generous 180300mm section of the zoom range. The zoom ring feels a bit sticky in operation but the focus

and the non-stabilised Tamron lenses on test is a 0.5x macro facility. This can be engaged via a switch on the lens barrel, enabling shorter focusing distances when using the long end of the zoom range – in this case between 200-300mm.

Performance

With its basic electric motor, autofocus is a little noisy but not overly slow. Sharpness isn’t quite a match for most of the other lenses in the group at short to medium focal lengths, but the drop-off at 300mm isn’t quite as pronounced as in some competitors. Overall, this budget Sigma is a decent buy on a shoestring budget.

Features build quality image quality value for money

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We say… Reassuring build quality for such an inexpensive lens.

Performance

This lens does rather better than Tamron’s newer, stabilised and altogether pricier 70300mm at controlling chromatic aberrations, and contrast in lowlight shooting is slightly better than from both Sigma lenses. It also outstrips the Sigma lenses for sharpness at short to medium focal lengths, but drops off more at the long end.

Features build quality image quality value for money

overall In our real-world tests, the Sigma needed bright lighting to deliver good contrast

ring is extremely smooth and precise. One thing to watch out for, if you’re thinking of buying second-hand, is that editions of the lens made before 2008 lack a built-in autofocus motor, and can’t autofocus on bodies like the D3300 and D5300.

overall Sharpness beats the Sigmas at short to medium lengths, and contrast is better

We say… Not as robust as the Sigmas, but image quality is good.

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Budget telephoto lenses

Sigma APO 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG Macro £150, $155

Nikon AF-S DX 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED £195, $160

The ‘upmarket’ APO version of the Sigma 70-300mm is still very reasonably priced

A remarkably tiny and lightweight telephoto that doesn’t come up short on image quality

Although it ‘only’ costs £150/$155, the APO (Apochromatic) version of the Sigma 70-300mm is 50 per cent dearer than the basic edition of the lens in the UK. There’s not such a big difference in prices in the USA. So what do you get for the extra money? The main advantage is that whereas the basic edition features a single SLD (Special Low Dispersion) element, the APO lens has three. The intention is that chromatic aberrations are more effectively eliminated, so you’ll see less colour fringing in images taken with this lens. That’s the theory. Build quality feels identical in the two Sigma lenses, they have the same autofocus system

By far the smallest telephoto zoom in the group, the original DX-format 55-200mm measures a measly 68x79mm and weighs just 255g. To put that into perspective, it’s even smaller and lighter than the first incarnation of the Nikon 18-55mm VR kit lens. It’s also just half the weight of the Nikon 55-300mm lens, and a mere third of the weight of the Nikon 70-300mm. Suffice it to say that if you want a telephoto zoom that’ll fit into a little corner of your gadget bag, or even a spare pocket, this will fit the bill. Despite its tiny build, this lens offers the same ‘effective’ zoom range of 82.5-300mm on DX bodies as the physically

based on an electric motor, and an identical 0.5x macro facility that’s available in the 200-300mm section of the zoom range. The only other notable difference between the two lenses is that the APO version comes with a padded carrying case, whereas the cheaper edition has none.

Performance

There’s no increase in contrast in low light, compared with Sigma’s cheaper 70-300mm lens. On the plus side, the extra SLD elements really do reduce colour fringing, but only towards the extreme ends of the zoom range. Sharpness is marginally better at long zoom settings.

Features build quality image quality value for money

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We say… Compared to the basic Sigma, it’s worth the extra outlay.

Performance

Autofocus speed is quite sluggish and this is the only Nikon lens in the group that lacks Vibration Reduction. However, image quality is pretty good in all respects, making this lens something of a mini marvel.

Features build quality image quality value for money

overall Image quality edges ahead of the cheaper Sigma, especially at long zoom settings

longer 55-200mm VR lens. As with most competing lenses, the focus ring rotates during autofocus, but it’s small and out of the way at the leading edge of the lens, so doesn’t adversely affect handling. The front element extends at shorter focus distances but doesn’t rotate during focusing, making it easy to use rotation-specific filters like circular polarisers.

overall As you can see, there’s nothing wrong with the baby Nikon’s image quality

We say… Downmarket plastic mounting plate; good image quality.

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test team

The world’s toughest tests

Nikon AF-S DX 55-200mm f/4-5.6G IF-ED VR £230, $245

Nikon AF-S DX 55-300mm f/4.55.6G ED VR £280, $395

This DX-format lens is the smallest and least expensive stabilised optic in the group

A comparatively grown-up DX-format lens that goes the extra mile in telephoto reach

Newer, bigger and more feature-packed than the original Nikon 55-200mm, this lens includes a couple of important upgrades. First, it sports Nikon’s Vibration Reduction system with a CIPA-rated effectiveness of three stops. Second, it has fully internal focusing, so the front element doesn’t extend. An extra plus point of this is that autofocus is speedier than in the older 55-200mm lens. Overall, the build feels very similar in both 55-200mm lenses. This one is 80g heavier but still feels a very lightweight item and slightly lacking in robustness. As with the smaller, non-VR edition, it has a plastic

Back when Sigma and Tamron made DX-format telephoto zooms in this price and focal length range, as Nikon still does, one thing they all had in common was a maximum focal length of 200mm. It’s fair enough, in that this equates to the 300mm reach of traditional budget telephoto zooms for 35mm film cameras (and FX bodies). However, once you’ve tried the extra effective reach enabled by a 70-300mm on a DX body, you can feel short-changed. A step up in build quality as well as size, this DX-format lens has a metal rather than plastic mounting plate, with a rubber weather seal ring, as fitted to most upmarket Nikon lenses.

rather than metal mounting plate. One minus point is that, whereas the older lens has two ED (Extra-low Dispersion) elements, the stabilised edition has only one. Similarly, the nine diaphragm blades of the cheaper lens are cut down to seven blades in this one, so the aperture isn’t as well rounded.

Performance

Outright sharpness isn’t quite as good as from the non-stabilised Nikon 55-200mm lens at any given focal length, although the addition of stabilisation can be a big bonus in handheld shooting. Colour fringing is also slightly more noticeable, but the faster autofocus is nice to have.

Features build quality image quality value for money

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We say… Bigger than, and not quite as optically impressive as, its sibling.

Performance

Autofocus is a bit slow and, like the other Nikon DX-format lenses in the group, there’s no full-time manual override, nor a focus distance scale. Sharpness is pretty good and overall image quality is impressive.

Features build quality image quality value for money

overall Sharpness throughout this lens’s entire zoom range is good rather than great

It also features a three-stop stabiliser, nine-blade diaphragm, two ED (Extra-low Dispersion) elements and one HRI (High Refractive Index) element. Overall, its specifications and features are a step up over the other DX-format Nikon lenses on test. One drawback is the lack of internal focus and, unlike the other two lenses, the front element rotates during focusing.

overall There’s plenty of contrast on tap and levels of sharpness are respectable

We say… Good value for a stabilised telephoto that stretches to 300mm.

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Budget telephoto lenses

Tamron SP 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di VC USD £290, $450

Nikon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED VR £440, $590

What price an FX-format, stabilised, fully refined telephoto zoom? It may be cheaper than you think!

The budget lens that comes closest to one of Nikon’s more professional optics

The feature-rich Tamron 70-300mm VC USD is as upmarket you can expect a ‘budget’ zoom lens to be. It matches the Nikon 70-300mm VR in most respects. Attractions include USD (UltraSonic Drive) autofocus (essentially ring-type ultrasonic by another name). It’s wonderfully quiet and quick in operation, and comes with full-time manual focus override. Similarly, there’s Tamron’s proprietary VC (Vibration Compensation) stabilisation built in, which goes head-tohead with Nikon’s VR system. The build feels tougher and more refined than that of Tamron’s more basic 70-300mm. Again, the relatively heavy

With a price of £440/$590, this lens isn’t as ‘budget’ as others in the group. Indeed, the Tamron 70-300mm VC USD is a significant step down the price ladder, even though it has an almost identical set of features. You have to look quite hard to see where the Nikon lens has any extras. One such extra is on the mounting plate, which features a rubber weather seal, as also fitted to the 55-300mm VR DX-format lens. This is lacking on the Tamron lens. And where the Tamron includes one LD (Low Dispersion) and one XLD (Extra-low Dispersion) element, the Nikon has two ED elements. Even so, it lacks the additional

weight of 765g is on a par with Nikon’s 70-300mm lens. Both are almost exactly the same size, although the Tamron has a smaller filter thread of 62mm, compared with the Nikon’s 67mm. Handling is aided by the fact that the focus ring doesn’t rotate during autofocus, and there’s a focus distance scale beneath a viewing window.

Performance

There’s little to choose between this Tamron and the Nikon 70-300mm when it comes to image quality, apart from colour fringing being more noticeable from the Tamron. Autofocus isn’t quite as fast as in the Nikon, but it’s not far behind.

Features build quality image quality value for money

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We say… Almost as good as the Nikon 70-300mm VR – and cheaper.

Performance

Overall image quality is excellent, edging ahead of the Tamron lens. The ringtype ultrasonic autofocus is quicker, and full-time manual focus override works a treat. While the Nikon’s VR system is officially rated at two and a half stops, in our tests it matched the performance of all other stabilisers for static and panning shots. In fact, it goes one better with an ‘Active’ VR mode, which boosts effectiveness when shooting from a vibrating platform such as an idling car.

Features build quality image quality value for money

overall This lens delivers very good sharpness and contrast, but fringing is a little high

HRI (High Refractive Index) element that’s fitted to the Nikon 55-300mm lens.

overall Consistently sharp shots with great contrast are practically guaranteed

We say… Pricy for a budget lens, but it’s worth every penny.

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The world’s toughest tests

Take the long view

Here’s how the lab test results stack up for all the competing lenses

SHARPNESS

Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG Macro

Tamron AF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di LD Macro

■ For such an inexpensive lens, this Sigma delivers respectable sharpness levels throughout its zoom range. LAB TEST

LAB TEST

FRINGING

■ Throughout most of the zoom range it’s very similar to the more basic Sigma lens, but it’s a little better at 300mm. LAB TEST

Nikon AF-S DX 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED

■ Average at short to medium lengths, but this tiny Nikon turned in the best results at its maximum telephoto setting. LAB TEST

Sharpness at wide

1975

Sharpness at wide

2430

Sharpness at wide

1956

Sharpness at wide

2113

Sharpness at mid zoom

1820

Sharpness at mid zoom

2258

Sharpness at mid zoom

1661

Sharpness at mid zoom

1885

Sharpness at tele

1249

Sharpness at tele

1168

Sharpness at tele

1450

Sharpness at tele

1538

f4

f4

■ As you’d expect from a lens that lacks SLD elements, fringing is more noticeable at both ends of the zoom range. LAB TEST

f5

■ Fringing is very well controlled, and the basic Tamron is rather better than the newer VC USD model in this respect. LAB TEST

f4

■ Mid-zoom fringing is marginally worse than the basic Sigma, but it’s better towards either end of the zoom range. LAB TEST

■ Scores for fringing are impressively low, and it beats the newer, costlier Nikon 55-200mm VR lens on performance. LAB TEST

Fringing at wide

0.94

Fringing at wide

0.1

Fringing at wide

0.04

Fringing at wide

0.1

Fringing at mid zoom

0.8

Fringing at mid zoom

0.3

Fringing at mid zoom

0.91

Fringing at mid zoom

0.34

Fringing at tele

1.95

Fringing at tele

0.35

Fringing at tele

0.96

Fringing at tele

0.34

f4

DISTORTION

■ Along with better sharpness than the basic Sigma, at short and medium focal lengths, it delivers slightly more contrast.

Sigma APO 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG Macro

f4

■ Minimal barrel distortion gives way to slightly above average pincushion at medium to long zoom settings. LAB TEST

f4

■ Compared with the cheaper Sigmas, there’s more barrel distortion at 70mm, and less pincushion at long settings. LAB TEST

f4

■ The two Sigma lenses are so similar in overall design that they have practically identical characteristics for distortion. LAB TEST

■ There’s very slight pincushion distortion even at 55mm, rising to its highest level at mid-zoom settings. LAB TEST

Distortion at wide

-0.16

Distortion at wide

-0.36

Distortion at wide

-0.14

Distortion at wide

0.19

Distortion at mid zoom

1.23

Distortion at mid zoom

0.8

Distortion at mid zoom

1.25

Distortion at mid zoom

2.23

Distortion at tele

0.95

Distortion at tele

0.85

Distortion at tele

0.97

Distortion at tele

1.84

image quality verdict It’s not a standout performer in terms of image quality but, considering the low asking price, it’s really not bad.

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image quality verdict In most respects, it delivers better quality than the two cheaper Sigmas, but sharpness drops off at 300mm.

image quality verdict A small step up from the more budget-focused Sigma 70-300mm, notably at the long end of the range.

image quality verdict Despite its compact and lightweight design, the non-VR Nikon does well when it comes to image quality.

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Budget telephoto lenses

The tests explained! We test lenses to their limits in three key areas of optical performance – sharpness, colour fringing and distortion

■ Sharpness (high scores are better)

Figures are based on the Imatest SFRPlus chart. The widest, mid and narrowest focal length edge sharpness at was checked for all lenses using the same D5300 body.

Nikon AF-S DX 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR

■ A little disappointing in terms of sharpness, Nikon’s VR 55-200mm doesn’t match its older sibling at any length.

■ A bit sharper than the Nikon 55-200mm VR at short zoom settings; performs almost identically at mid to long settings.

LAB TEST

LAB TEST

Colour fringing tends to be worst at the corners of the frame. To highlight how fringing affects each lens the Imatest SFRPlus chart was shot using a D5300.

Tamron SP 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di VC USD

■ Results are similar to those from the Nikon 70-300mm VR, following an almost identical path through the zoom range. LAB TEST

■ Distortion (close to 0 is best)

Distortions are a common trait of wide-angled lenses, especially barrel distortion. Each lens was tested across its focal range on the D5300.

Nikon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED VR

■ Real-world shooting revealed consistently excellent sharpness, but the lab results aren’t hugely impressive. LAB TEST

Sharpness at f/3.5

1730

Sharpness at wide

2180

Sharpness at wide

2736

Sharpness at wide

2721

Sharpness at mid zoom

1140

Sharpness at mid zoom

1208

Sharpness at mid zoom

2283

Sharpness at mid zoom

1925

Sharpness at tele

940

Sharpness at tele

1007

Sharpness at tele

958

Sharpness at tele

916

f4

f4.5

LAB TEST

f4

■ Lab scores for fringing are the best in the group. Fringing is almost completely absent at all focal lengths. LAB TEST

f4.5

■ The only potential weak point of the lens is that colour fringing is a bit high, especially at mid to long zoom settings. LAB TEST

■ Control over colour fringing is rather better than in the Tamron 70-300mm VC, especially at the long end of the range. LAB TEST

Fringing at wide

0.17

Fringing at wide

0.08

Fringing at wide

0.52

Fringing at wide

0.16

Fringing at mid zoom

0.56

Fringing at mid zoom

0.18

Fringing at mid zoom

2.07

Fringing at mid zoom

0.94

Fringing at tele

0.59

Fringing at tele

0.23

Fringing at tele

3.1

Fringing at tele

1.11

f4

f4.5

LAB TEST

f4

■ There’s little difference in distortion compared with the Nikon 55-200mm VR, despite this lens’s bigger zoom range. LAB TEST

f4.5

■ Compared with the Nikon 70-300mm VR, there’s less barrel distortion at 70mm, and more pincushion at 300mm. LAB TEST

■ The levels of barrel and pincushion distortion shown in our tests are absolutely typical of this class of lens. LAB TEST

Distortion at wide

-0.72

Distortion at wide

-0.59

Distortion at wide

-0.29

Distortion at wide

-0.54

Distortion at mid zoom

1.65

Distortion at mid zoom

1.82

Distortion at mid zoom

0.99

Distortion at mid zoom

1.04

Distortion at tele

1.32

Distortion at tele

1.36

Distortion at tele

0.82

Distortion at tele

0.73

image quality verdict Overall image quality isn’t quite as impressive from this lens as from the cheaper, non-VR Nikon 55-200mm.

www.nphotomag.com

image quality verdict The extra zoom range (compared with Nikon’s other DX-format lenses) comes with no compromise in image quality.

DISTORTION

■ Unlike the non-VR lens, there’s some barrel distortion at 55mm, and less pincushion at medium to long settings.

FRINGING

■ Control over colour fringing isn’t as impressive as with the non-VR edition of the Nikon 55-200mm, but it’s pretty good.

SHARPNESS

Nikon AF-S DX 55-200mm f/4-5.6G IF-ED VR

■ Fringing (low scores are better)

image quality verdict There’s little difference between this Tamron and the Nikon 70-300mm VR, apart from increased colour fringing.

image quality verdict The overall image quality of this Nikon lens is the best in the group, justifying its relatively high price.

August 2014

99


test team

The world’s toughest tests

Comparison table HOW THE LENSES COMPARE Name

Nikon DX 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED

Nikon DX 55-200mm f/4-5.6G IF-ED VR

Website

Nikon DX 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR

Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED VR

Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG Macro

www.nikon.co.uk

Sigma APO 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG

Tamron AF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di LD Macro

www.sigma-imaging-uk.com

Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di VC USD

www.tamron.co.uk

DX/FX

DX

DX

DX

FX

FX

FX

FX

FX

Equiv. zoom (DX)

82.5-300mm

82.5-300mm

82.5-450mm

105-450mm

105-450mm

105-450mm

105-450mm

105-450mm

Aperture range

f/4-5.6 to f/22

f/4-5.6 to f/22-32

f/4.5-5.6 to f/22-29

f/4.5-5.6 to f/32-40

f/4-5.6 to f/22-32

f/4-5.6 to f/22-32

f/4-5.6 to f/32-45

f/4-5.6 to f/32-45

Stabilisation

None

3 stops (CIPA)

3 stops (CIPA)

2.5 stops (CIPA)

None

None

None

Yes (unspecified)

Autofocus actuator

Ultrasonic (motor)

Ultrasonic (motor)

Ultrasonic (motor)

Ultrasonic (ring-type)

Electric

Electric

Electric

Ultrasonic (ring-type)

Front element rotates

No

No

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Min focus distance

95cm

110cm

140cm

150cm

95cm

95cm

95cm

150cm

Lens mount

Plastic

Plastic

Metal

Metal

Metal

Metal

Plastic

Metal

Elements/groups

13 / 9

15 / 11

17 / 11

17 / 12

14 / 10

14 / 10

13 / 9

17 / 12

Diaphragm blades

9 blades

7 blades

9 blades

9 blades

9 blades

9 blades

9 blades

9 blades

Filter size

52mm

52mm

58mm

67mm

58mm

58mm

62mm

62mm

Diameter x min length

68x79mm

73x100mm

77x123mm

80x144mm

77x122mm

77x122mm

77x117mm

82x143mm

Weight

255g

335g

530g

745g

545g

550g

435g

765g

Features build quality Image quality Value for money OVERALL

The WINNER IS…

Top three runners-up

Tamron SP 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di VC USD

Nikon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED VR

What’s good: An almost identical set of features and specs as the winning Nikon.

What’s bad: No weather-seal ring on

Build, specs, features and image quality warrant its relatively high price

The Nikon 70-300mm packs in all the tricks you could hope for, rivalling a fair few pro-grade lenses that cost much more to buy. The ring-type ultrasonic autofocus system is fast and efficient, with the luxury of full-time manual override. Vibration Reduction includes both regular and ‘active’ modes and, most importantly, image quality is excellent. That said, our lab results for sharpness on a D5300 body weren’t overly inspiring but, when shooting real-world tests on a large range of DX and FX bodies, it consistently came out on top. The Tamron 70-300mm VC USD is almost as good, with a nearly identical set of

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August 2014

mounting plate, colour fringing high. Our verdict: As an excellent lens at a very attractive price, it’s unbeatable

features. Image quality is only let down by the fact that colour fringing is a bit high. If you’re a stickler for DX-format lenses, the Nikon 55-300mm VR offers the best blend of compact build, powerful telephoto reach, and convincing image quality. What’s good: Superb image quality; fast and efficient autofocus; dual-mode VR.

What’s bad: It’s considerably more expensive than other ‘budget’ telephoto zooms. Our verdict: It’s the best you can buy without spending two or three times as much.

Overall

Nikon AF-S DX 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR

What’s good: Impressive image quality. What’s bad: Relatively slow AF; front element extends and rotates. Our verdict: The perfect blend of range and compact build for a DX-format lens.

Sigma APO 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG Macro

What’s good: Good sharpness throughout the zoom range; 0.5x macro facility.

What’s bad: Lacking in contrast. Our verdict: The best of the cheaper lenses if you’re on a really tight budget.

www.nphotomag.com


It’s studio lighting, but much more portable than you usually see

rated & previewed

New gear

expert opinions on all the latest hot kit

iLux Summit 600C

Take your studio with you with this wireless lighting solution Portable studio flash

£449, $827

Hotshoe flashes are great sources of portable light, but for more illumination you’ll need to use studio flash, which can be unwieldy. The iLux Summit 600C, however, is both portable and powerful. While the units are much larger than, say, SB-900 Speedlights, they are smaller and lighter than most studio flash heads, weighing under two and half kilograms each. The kit is powered by a high-capacity lithium-ion battery, which iLux claims

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August 2014

www.ilux-photographic-lighting.co.uk will give between 500 and 3800 flashes from a full charge, depending on power. This battery is removable, and spares cost around £80/$130. There are two versions, one with an S-type accessories mount and the other with an EL-type. This means that as well as using iLux’s own accessories, you can attach ones from a wide range of other manufacturers. The Summit arrives in a flight case. The overall build is good. There are a few nice

touches, such as the strap lugs, and a stand slot screw that bolts into the base of the handle. In the box you’ll also find the transmitter that enables the wireless trigger, but all mode and power adjustment need to be made through the back of the unit. The simple interface is easy to navigate, with several modes and options. The most important of these is the ability to step the power output from full power down to 1/64. There are also options for multi-

flash strobe and a selection of focal plane (FP) modes. The FP flash options are designed for high-speed sync flash, but this option will not work with the transmitter supplied with the kit at present, so you need to use another, such as a PocketWizard, to get it to work. It might seem expensive, but compared with the costly ProFoto B1 or a bulky standard portable studio flash, the iLux Summit is a very good idea.


New gear rated

Bag it up

bags for days out

WD My Passport Pro

If your Nikon is one that produces large RAW files, like a D800, this answers your storage prayers

Jack Camera Messenger £150, $250

www.jill-e.com

■ The leather exterior and padded inner will hold a larger Nikon plus two zoom lenses, though the quality of the inner sections lets it down.

Store images safely with this ultra fast portable hard drive Portable hard drive

£239, $429

■ Answering the need for a large-capacity portable storage device, the My Passport Pro features a maximum capacity of two terabytes. This huge capacity is achieved with two laptopsized hard drives that can be set up as one large storage area, a mirrored backup, or as two separate drives.

www.wdc.com The aluminium case feels durable. Designed primarily for use with Macs, there’s a Thunderbolt cable attached, which transfers both data and power. Speed tests show an average of 196 megabytes per second write times (compared to 71 megabytes per second when the same test was run on a

similar Firewire 800 drive). It’s simple to set up, and if you’re a PC user there are Thunderbolt cards that will enable you to use this drive. For fast, secure and portable storage for photographers there is presently nothing else that comes close to this.

Lastolite Urban Collapsible Backgrounds

Lowepro Passport Sling III £52, $60

www.lowepro.com

■ This sling-style shoulder bag provides space for a small Nikon SLR, plus there are a couple of sections for accessories. Carrying and access is comfy and easy.

Give portraits an urban look with these quick-to-assemble pop-out backdrops Backdrops

£170, $225

www.lastolite.co.uk

■ Lastolite’s latest range of photographic backdrops includes designs to complement any modern portrait shoot. Like Lastolite’s reflector range the backgrounds use a collapsible metal surround that can be packed into a case, which is lightweight and easy to carry and store, especially when compared with sheet backdrops. In use the backgrounds are quick to set up, popping out to full size in seconds. Repacking does require a special technique, but once you get it, it’s simple enough. The overall effect is realistic and any worries about shadows cast by flash lighting are quickly dismissed, as long as you get the lighting right. Each seven-foot backdrop is doublesided. You can also buy a magnetic stand for them.

www.nphotomag.com

Mindshift Rotation 180 Professional £317, $390 www.mindshiftgear.com

■ A D7100 and four lenses will fill the ingenious section at the base of this bag, which can be unclipped and swung around for access to kit.

August 2014

103


test team

The world’s toughest tests

Cactus RF60

This wireless manual flashgun is packed with handy features Flashgun

£85, $140

www.cactus-image.com

■ The RF60 is designed as a manual flash, so with no through-the-lens (TTL) metering you shouldn’t expect the convenience of full auto. Instead, this flash uses the standard ISO fitting that slots into most camera hotshoes. The manual features enable 22 levels of power adjustment from its maximum GN of 56 at ISO100. Featuring an integrated wireless transceiver, one RF60 is able to communicate with and control others. Once you’ve got them set up, each flash can be assigned to a group, and you can have up to four groups. A master flash can then be assigned to control the power of each group using the buttons and LCD interface on the back – the interface is easy enough to use. High-speed flash is handy when shooting outdoor portraits, as it enables you to use large apertures. The RF60’s HSS Sympathy mode is designed to work alongside a TTL-flash in a dual flash setup, and works by extending the normal flash duration so it can work above the camera’s usual flash sync speed.

Nest NT-530H

You can slot a TTL flash into the top of this and use both at the same time

Lots of support plus flexibility of movement Gimbal head

Cactus V6

Simple wireless multi-flash trigger Flash transceiver

£34, $55

www.cactus-image.com

■ The V6 is a transceiver for use alongside the Cactus RF60 flash (above). Slotting into your camera’s hotshoe, it gives you complete wireless control of Cactus’ own RF60 flashguns or, if you have another V6, you can use it as a receiver to fire another manufacturer’s flash. The device also features a handy TTL passthrough, which means that a TTL flash can be slotted on top while maintaining all its usual TTL features.

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August 2014

£299, $500

www.nest-style.com

■ If you want to shoot wildlife or sport a gimbal tripod head is extremely useful, providing support while still enabling real freedom of movement. Nest’s NT-530H provides this movement in both horizontal and vertical planes, which can be locked in or out as needed. The black carbon fibre finish looks great, and the pivots all prove smooth, although there is no real friction control. The carbon finish gives this head a premium look and feel (as does the price), but it really is just a simple yet effective gimbal head.

www.nphotomag.com


test team

The world’s toughest tests

mini test

A3+ Photo Printers

Go large with your photo printing, right on your own desktop. We test the leading A3 and A3+ printers egular A4 photo printers are compact and convenient but, if you want a picture to frame and hang on the wall, the maximum size of their output leaves a lot to be desired. By upgrading to an A3+ printer you can generate photo prints of up to 19x13 inches in size. A large print has much more wow factor, while you still have full control over the printing process and retain the relative immediacy of creating prints on your own desktop, without having to upload images and wait for photo prints to be delivered in the post. Designs differ when it comes to large-format printers. Some use dye-based inks, which typically give the smoothest output on glossy paper. Pigment-based inks are more robust and a better choice for matte media. Another consideration is whether you only want to make colour prints or if you’re also keen on top quality black-and-white photo output.

R

Epson Stylus Photo 1500W £220, $350

www.epson.co.uk

Like the newer XP-950, this printer features six dye-based inks: CMYK plus light cyan and light magenta. Without any grey inks, it’s a poor choice for black-and-white photo printing, and best suited to glossy colour output. The ink tanks have a capacity of 11ml, which is on the low side for large-format printing. At least the 1500W can generate full A3+ sized prints, unlike the XP-950, taking about 11 and a half minutes in top quality mode. There’s nothing to choose in print quality between the two,

both being particularly vivid when printing landscape shots, although the 1500W is slower.

Pros: Vibrant colour rendition is suited to landscape shots. Cons: Only six inks with no additional grey cartridges. We say: Cheaper than the Canon Pro-100 but slower.

overall

FIVE THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR… It’s not all about the price. The print speeds, ink types and paper sizes could all be important factors in your choice

01 Print speeds

At these printers’ top quality settings, print speed varies between five and 12 minutes for an A3+ (19x13-inch) photo. It’s not long when you’re making prints to last a lifetime, but slower speeds become noticeable if you have several to output in a batch.

02 Ink costs

At around £1 per millilitre, there’s not much difference in the price of inks for most A3+ inkjet printers. However, cartridges with smaller capacities can need changing quite often.

03 Maximum size

All printers on test enable A3+ output, apart from the Epson XP-950, which has an A3 maximum size. The Epson R3000 is unique in the group in enabling large-format panoramic printing.

04 Magnificent mono

Printers that include two or more black and grey inks typically give more accurate black-and-white photo rendition.

05 Better connected

All the printers, apart from the Canon Pro-1, have Wi-Fi. All feature USB connectivity. The Epson 1500W lacks an Ethernet port.

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August 2014

Canon PIXMA Pro-10 £500, $700

www.canon.co.uk

A scaled-down version of the Pro-1, this printer is slightly smaller and noticeably lighter in weight at 20kg. It uses nine rather than 11 pigment-based inks, in 14ml cartridges, plus the same type of chroma optimiser. It features photo and matte black inks and just a single grey. Mono photo prints still look very good and are generally free of unwanted colour casts, but can lack the contrast of those from the Pro-1. For colour printing, there’s practically no different in quality between the

two printers, while A3+ borderless printing is slightly slower at 11 and a half minutes in top quality mode.

Pros: Colour prints look as

good as from the Pro-1. Cons: Black-and-white photo

output isn’t as convincing. We say: A very good buy, if you’re not mad about mono.

overall www.nphotomag.com


A3+ photo printers

Epson Expression Photo XP-950 £260, $280

www.epson.co.uk

Epson’s newest large-format printer, this one doesn’t go quite as large as most. The maximum print size is A3 rather than A3+, which equates to 16.5x11.7 inches instead of 19x13 inches. A full-size, top-quality print takes just under six minutes. Unlike every other printer on test, this has card readers, a touchscreen display and an A4 scanner in the lid. However, even the ‘XL’ cartridges have a capacity of just 10ml, and the dye-based ink range has only CMYK plus light cyan and

£400, $450 light magenta. Colour output is vibrant but black-and-white photo output is relatively lacklustre.

Pros: ‘All-in-one’ printer, relatively compact and light. Cons: Maximum A3 paper size, low ink capacity, poor for B&W. We say: A decent multi-function printer for A3 colour output.

overall

Epson Stylus Photo R3000 £530, $760

www.epson.co.uk

The R3000 includes a roll feeder for large-format panoramic printing, giving you the ability to supersize images. The nine pigment-based inks (26ml cartridges) include photo black, matte black and two greys, for good-quality mono and colour prints. However, the photo black and matte black inks share a channel in the print head, which needs to be purged when you swap between glossy and matte media, wasting ink and time. An A3+ print takes just under 11 minutes in top

www.nphotomag.com

Canon PIXMA Pro-100 Running on eight dye-based inks, the Pro-100 adds grey and light grey inks to the usual mix of CMYK plus light cyan and light magenta, which improves accuracy when printing mono images. Cartridge capacity is 13ml. There’s a slight warmth in the balance of colour photo printing, which can be flattering for skin tones. The printer outputs top quality A3+ borderless prints in under four and a half minutes, making it the fastest in the group. It reigns supreme for smooth results on

Pros: Excellent quality; has a

panoramic roll sheet feeder. Cons: Lacks separate black channels in the print head. We say: A great printer, but the Canon Pro-1 has the edge.

overall

glossy paper but prints on matte media lack the robustness of those made on pigment-based printers.

Pros: Fast; gives sumptuous

results on glossy photo paper. Cons: Dye-based inks are never

best for matte photo media. We say: Top choice if you’re only interested in glossy prints.

overall

Canon PIXMA Pro-1 £645, $990

quality mode and, despite lacking a gloss optimiser cartridge, output looks smooth on glossy paper.

www.canon.co.uk

www.canon.co.uk

With its premium build quality, the Pro-1 is aimed squarely at pros who demand top-quality monochrome as well as colour prints, on everything from glossy or matte photo paper to fine art media. It uses 11 pigment-based inks plus a ‘chroma optimiser’ to enhance the smoothness of the finish. Extralarge 36ml ink tanks help to reduce running costs. At the best quality setting, an A3+ borderless print takes about nine and a half minutes, and results are spectacular for both

colour and mono, the latter helped by the provision of both matte and ‘photo’ black inks, plus three greys.

Pros: Stunning print quality on all sorts of media. Cons: The only printer on test without Wi-Fi connectivity. We say: The best photo printer for quality and versatility.

overall August 2014

107


Sneak peek at our Summer issue

The Apprentice

FACE FACTS!

One lucky reader gets a masterclass in characterful people shots from celebrity portrait photographer Steve Poole

FREE VIDEO DISC! Learn all this in the next set of Nikon Skills…

■ Beautiful bokeh and how to get it ■ Get striking shots with a single colour ■ Sharpen your photos in Elements ■ Shoot raindrops with flash ■ How to double-process your RAW files!

Plus all this…

■ Turning pro – what it takes and how to make it happen ■ Dust on your sensor? Find out how to clean away those spots ■ Flash explained – from built-in flash to Speedlights and studio gear

ISSUE 36 | ON SALE THURSDAY 31 JULY 2014 August 2014

113


Catch of the day August 2005

Trent Bridge

When England and Australia met in the Fourth Test of the 2005 Ashes series, the teams were tied at one test each. England hadn’t

Patrick Eagar

In a career spanning more than 40 years Patrick Eagar has photographed more than 320 Test matches since 1972 and published 13 books about cricket, including The Ashes in Focus, his account of the 2005 series. Now semiretired, he spends much of his time administering his picture library of more than half a million cricket images. www.patrickeagar.com

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August 2014

Nikon D2x

won the Ashes since the 1986-1987 series in Australia, and had endured many defeats since. But in 2005 things were different. By the morning of the third day’s play at Trent Bridge, Australia were on the back foot. “It was a Saturday morning and I had spent the first part of the Test working at ground level,” recalls Patrick Eagar. “I like moving around, I hate being in the same place two days running. The Australian innings was half over, but Gilchrist was still there. My interpretation was that Australia were in trouble, so we were not looking for a glamorous batting picture, but shots of Australians being out!” Eagar and David Ashdown of The Independent were working side by side when the Australian wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist

faced the bowling of England’s Andrew Flintoff. “I remember turning to David Ashdown, and I said, ‘It’s been a long time since we had a decent slip catch.’” These words proved to be prophetic. Fielding at second slip was Andrew Strauss. Flintoff ran in to bowl, Gilchrist crouched over his bat, and the two photographers peered through their viewfinders, their fingers poised over the shutter buttons. When Gilchrist edged the 90mph ball, Eagar pressed: “It wasn’t a single shot, I admit that, but nearly every one in the sequence was quite a nice picture. I probably pressed the shutter as soon as I realised he had edged it. In the first frame Strauss is almost diving out of the picture, so I was panning as well to keep him in.” Eagar says choosing the right position and lens were as critical as timing in getting this shot. “I used the Nikon D2x and 200-400mm f/4. I chose 200mm because I was worried about people leaving the frame. Yes, there is a bit of luck, but you’re

talking anticipation nine times out of ten. You’ve got to be in the right place, which is part luck, part experience and part anticipation.”

The reaction

As Gilchrist walked back to the pavilion, Eagar and Ashdown checked their camera displays. “We both got the picture. It was an extraordinary catch.” Because Ashdown was a staff photographer, Eagar had the advantage as a freelance in getting his image widely circulated. “I sent it out to all the newspapers and they all used it, two or three of them big on the back page.” England won the match and Eagar made three 20x16in prints for Andrew Strauss to sign. “I got him to sign one for me, he kept one, and I think the other one is still here at home. In terms of the number of reproductions it is my bestselling photograph.” Keith Wilson

www.nphotomag.com

Image: Patrick Eagar

MY BEST SHOT


9000

9015


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