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Oh Cr op! Issue 3: March 2011

Chi’s Challenge

Photojoiners Dan Smyth

The Freelance Photographer

Photography Masterclass Time of Day

The Beginnings of Photography

Jonathan Woods’ take on

Scotland

Cover Image by Jonathan Woods Cover image by Chi Lau.


Photograph by Irina Ghiuzan, to see more by this photographer visit: www.flickr.com/photos/irinaghiuzan


In Oh Crop! this month..

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Chi’s Challege In this month’s regular challenge Chi gives you a how-to guide on photojoiners! Photography Masterclass This month Chi tells you all about taking photographs where the time of day counts. The Beauty of Scotland Jonathan Woods discusses his trips to Scotland and shares with us some abosolutely breath-taking images. Reader Profile This month’s interview features semi-pro photographer Dan Smyth, who talks with your editor, Chi. Your guide to Lenses This month guest writer James Murphy talks us through the different types of lenses available. Guide to Entry-Level Cameras This month’s camera brand review is on Sony’s entry-level cameras, by coeditor Danielle Starr. Lens Review Chi Lau talks us through the Sigma 70 - 300mm, accompanied by example images. The First Photographs Guest writer and friend Phil Cohn has come to take you on a journey of the photography ages.

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Hi again! So we’re on another month of Oh Crop! Time does go fast doesn’t it? Last month we made Oh Crop! So much better and bigger and this month we’ve excelled yet again. I’ll be teaching you the importance of time of day in the photography world as well as this we have articles from 2 students in Manchester on the beauty of Scotland and the first photographs EVER taken! We’ve also got our usual reviews on lenses and camera makes and our reader profile for this month is Dan Smyth a former Portsmouth university student who is also freelance photographer!

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Contributors: Chi Lau Danielle Starr Annabelle Latter Jonathan Woods James Murphy Phil Cohn And a special thanks to Dan Smyth Find us on Facebook! Just search for “Oh Crop! Magazine” And if you have any questions, comments or photos you’d like to share please send them to chi.lauphotography@hotmail.co.uk


Chi’s Challenge: Photojoiners

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n this month’s challenge we’ll talk about taking several photos to create a single photo. Photo joiners or photo montages were made famous by David Hockney; he would take photos using his camera and join them all together to create a single scene. In his case he would take hundreds of photos but in our case we’re going to keep it a little bit simpler to begin with. So firstly you need to think of what your final image is about and will look like. In my case I wanted to take several photos to show my acoustic guitar. So once you know what your final image will be think about how many separate photos you want to use. The more photos you use the better the end product; this is because it will look more complicated and detailed. Try exploring different angles as well because the point of photo joiners is to create an illusion using

separate images so different angles and focal lengths will create a better illusion. The next step is to take the photos... obviously...! Start at a certain point and end at the opposite end of the final product. In my case I started at the bottom of the guitar then round the body before the fret board. I found this way a lot easier to make sure the final image looks the way I want it to. The settings can be different if it makes your final image look more unique, for example you can have a darker image surrounded by a few brighter images. Basically experiment and keep checking your separate photos to make sure they are exactly the way you want it. Once you’ve got your individual images you can begin to put them together. Firstly open Photoshop/Paintshop Pro (or whatever editing software you use) then create a new canvas. If Page | 4


you’re unsure of how big to make the canvas then create a large one then crop the final image. Either keep the background white or choose a colour if your photos are more suited to a coloured background. Now comes the part that is more down to your own artistic tastes than what I can tell you... Start with one image and paste in on to your canvas then get another photo and paste it on top of the first one. Tilt the photos and resize them, whatever you think would look good. Keep doing it with all the individual photos until you finally have the final image made up of several photos stacked together. Once you have your final image sorted and you’re happy with it then you can add shadows or borders to each of the individual photos (although this is down to taste so it’s entirely optional). This makes it look like the final montage is made up of individual photos instead of just one photo cut up. You should be done now! Here’s a tip: don’t always focus on making the final image on what you can see with your eyes try to make the photos so that the final image resembles what you wanted but at the same time not quite... If that doesn’t make sense then check the photo Charlotte Rushen took! Her final image was that of a chair and she took photos of it from different angles using different settings so that the photos resemble a chair but it’s not an exact representation of it. Photo (right) by Charlotte Rushen, her Flickr address is: www.flickr. com/photos/charlotterushen Guitar and London Eye by Chi Lau. Check back next month for another exciting and creative challenge from Chi. Page | 5


Photography Masterclass:

Time of Day

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o in the past issues we’ve covered basic camera settings and composition to further enhance your photography. And in this issue we’ll talk about timing... or rather the time of day. As I’m sure you’ll have noticed different times of the day results in different types of lighting and shadows so this week we’ll cover what the differences are. Sunrise: I’m a personal fan of this time of day. This is because the atmosphere adds to the experience. Imagine waking up (or in my case not sleeping!) and it’s still dark and the streets are empty but there’s a hint of light in the East as the sun pierces the sky. Just before the sun becomes visible the sky has brilliant orange tones which bring out the shape of your subject and the low angle of the sun creates long shadows which add to the photos. The contrast isn’t too harsh allowing you to capture the highlights and shadows clearly although once the sun is high enough the contrast increases so using ND (Neutral Density) filters would be ideal at this point. In photography timing is the difference between a good photo and a great one; there are many cases of landscape photographers getting up at 3am to hike to a spot just for 5 mins of window time. In fact some photographers spend months planning a photo with a Page | 6

small time slot and if they fail to get their photo will spend several more months planning another. And in the case of sunrises it’s best just before the sun appears on the horizon. Midday: This is my least favourite time of the day. This is because not only is it busy in terms of people and movement but also more difficult to get a decent photo. The lighting is brighter during this time making the highlights and shadows a lot harder to control. As the sun is at its highest point the length of the shadows decrease and the subject tends to get darker, especially on faces. For this a flash gun or even your on board face would light up the subject but be careful as it may ruin the overall atmosphere of the photo. Sunset: This is similar to sunrises only the colour is more red than orange. Silhouettes during this time are perfect for creating an atmosphere. The shadows created, like sunrises, add to the photos but with the light and colour from the sunrise it allows for some really good photos! If you have problems with the light try using Neutral Density filters or Polarising filters. If you still can’t get a decent picture why not try silhouettes? So concentrate on the vibrant colours of the sky. Words & photography: Chi Lau.


Jonathan Woods: Trips to Scotland

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hotography is one of those bugs that once bitten by it the desire to improve, push and explore can become almost irresistible. Having been into photography now for a fair few years, it’s safe to say I’ve tried most things. Landscape photography however, is the one area that has provided more joy, satisfaction and happiness above all others. I suppose personally, the feeling of calm, peace and indeed awe in the right proportions are what fuel my desire to keep shooting, notwithstanding the chance to see some of the most beautiful and picturesque places the country has to offer. Scotland in my humble opinion is in a league of its own when it comes to landscape photography, and I’d like to share what experiences I’ve had along with the photos to suit. It is very easy to lose ones’ self in Scotland, and

Loch Maree Page | 8

I don’t just mean geographically! The country as a whole has a form of quietness about it that I can’t quite explain. It’s so easy to live in a city where, quite literally, you can go weeks at a time and never simply hear nothing. I suppose it is the inherent stillness of Scotland which keeps drawing me back. Having graduated from Exeter University back in 2008, I happened upon my first opportunity to take a trip to Scotland for a week with, at the time, people I had met only the once! Seven days in a camper van with three other people who I barely knew. It could have been a disaster! However, the common desire to see, experience and capture Scotland at its best was paramount for all of us, and the then strangers have evolved into some of the best friends I’ve ever had.


The First Trip anuary is arguably not the best time to plan a trip to Scotland! However, with an inhuman amount of luck, we happened to have the one week in nearly all of January and February which was not persistently raining or snowing. Starting in Glen Coe, we made our way slowly up into the Highlands and onto Skye. Having little luck with the sunrise the previous day on the mainland (though still getting a good composition!), we got the map and compass out and determined that Elgol would make for a good sunrise location for the following day. Having no knowledge of this, or

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indeed all places in Scotland, I went along with the plan. We arrived in darkness and got some sleep. Frustratingly, the following morning disappointed us again, and just the hint of doubt started to enter our minds as to the future success of the trip. Having cloud again for sunset we decided to head to a spot that simply could not fail to inspire, regardless of the weather. I took their word for it. Waking the following day showed the first sign of complacency in the company, in the form of inspecting the state of the sky through a window whilst still in bed. At first, disappointment as the grey appearance dashed our hopes yet again. Minutes

It is very easy to lose ones’ self in Scotland, and I don’t just mean geographically!

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later, the smallest touch of red was visible in the sky; almost undetectable unless really looking for it. I’ve never seen four people get dressed and out of a camper van so fast. Finally Scotland and the weather had aligned and provided a stunning sunrise to refuel our hopes! Totternish, Skye. Later in the week I experienced for the first time what all professional landscape photographers have to experience in order to get ‘that’ shot. Waiting for the light. It’s all too easy to pitch up on location, snap away and hope that you come away with something worth sticking on your website; especially these days with digital being so cheap and accessible. In the space of 20 minutes (which is a lifetime of good light!) the light went from nice to outright stunning. Only when you are blown away by the scene is the moment to fire the shutter. It takes constant metering, re-metering, checking composition as the light changes, wiping water off the grad filters, checking focus as the wind buffets your rig and finally re-metering again before finally firing that frame you know will be a real peach! Loch Maree. Heading up Scotland now over the next few days, we happen on a small place called Raffin where the next shot was taken. It’s very easy to take an ultrawide lens with you and simply leave it on the camera. After all, the more you can fit into the frame the better! Right? This is the view of many people, which I now really struggle to believe in having been to this place. There are times when a long lens is simply what one needs, and indeed forcing ones’ self to use it really helps promote a critical eye for composition. Deciding what should and shouldn’t be in the frame is key to learning composition, and the marriage of good light and considered composition is the key to successful landscapes.


Totternish, Skye

Loch Maree


All photographs by Jonathan Woods


The Second Trip aving now visited Scotland once before, the initial excitement I felt on the first trip was not so apparent, and my desire to ‘take my finger off the trigger’ of the automatic weapon that is my D700, was paramount. I was determined to get more good photographs and fire less frames. Speak to any professional landscape photographer, especially those that shoot film, and they will no doubt tell you that

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firing thousands of frames and hoping to get a good one is most certainly not the way to A) improve, and B) make a trip worthwhile. Being critical of a scene is as important as enjoying the work you do and the location you’re at. With this in mind, I set about trying to capture the best landscapes I had ever taken, whilst taking the time to really take in where I was and enjoy it! On this trip we visited the Highlands, Skye and the Isles of Lewis and Harris.

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The Third Trip cotland never gets boring. Its light is always different and no matter how many times you visit a location, it never seems to look the same. If the light isn’t the same, you are almost forced into looking for alternative compositions of places you have been to in the past. Further to promoting a good eye for composition, it makes it more, well, fun!

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To see more of Jonathan’s breathtaking work you can visit his Flickr page at: www.flickr.com/photos/woodsy2k Page | 13

y now I have come to realise that Scotland is going nowhere, and the unknowing kind of excitement has faded. In the knowledge that Scotland will always be there, and that I have many chances to experience it in the future, I’m able to relax and really take the place in. As I mentioned, Scotland has a quietness about it, a constantly changing beauty and the ability to really get you addicted. The landscape photographer in you should take the time to really capture it at its best. With persistence comes good light and with practice comes good composition. Nail these together and you have a photograph that would not look out of place on anyone’s wall. Most of all though, take time for yourself when you’re there. Sometimes it’s the feeling you experienced when staring at such a place that sticks with you, and the photo acts to remind you of that feeling in the time to come; It’s that which keeps me going back.


Photograph by Chi Lau, for more visit www.flickr.com/photos/chibear89


Red Bull X-Fighter


Reader Profile:

Dan Smyth The Freelance Photographer

Dan Smyth, an extremely talented freelance photographer and a Portsmouth University alumni, Chi Lau went to interview him...

Rolo Tomassi

So tell us a bit about yourself: My name’s Dan and I am a freelance photographer currently based in London. I graduated from the University of Portsmouth last summer with a degree in Economics and now work full time doing marketing in the city. I specialise in shooting live music and sport but also enjoy shooting landscapes on my travels. My work has been published world-wide in publications ranging from The Guardian and The Times to Gigwise.com and last year was the official photographer for Southsea Fest.

What equipment do you use? Would you recommend it to our readers? I use Nikon cameras and flashes with an accompaniment of Sigma lenses. My camera of choice is currently a Nikon D700 along with a Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 and a Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8. I would definitely recommend all of them but if you’re looking at starting out there are much better ways to spend your money. Both Nikon and Canon produce a brilliant range of DSLRs that are great for shooting in low light and you can pick up cheap prime lenses for around £200.

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What’s the difference between normal photography and gig photography? Is it more exciting? Gig photography, or low-light action portraiture, is all about being able to get the best photos in the darkest environments. This requires different kit to your usual as it’s all about making the most of what little light you have to create the best possible  representation  of the performance and the performer. High ISO numbers and low apertures are the name of the game.  I wouldn’t say it’s any more “exciting” than other forms of photography, it’s all about having the connection with the music. I love music, so much so that in my final year of Uni I was the music editor of the student newspaper and magazine. This has grown though far beyond what I listen to, to simply being enthralled by the art of the performance

Photography is all about learning, that learning never stops itself. I love being able to capture the experience of live music for people who weren’t there to experience it like myself. That’s the excitement for me. According to your website you’ve travelled to many places around the world, like South Africa where the zebra photo was taken, but which was your favourite place to take photos? That’s a difficult question, I’ve enjoyed each different country for different reasons but in terms of photography it always seems to be the last place I visited that takes it. It’s there where I’d have been most happy with my work and ability. Photography is all

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about learning, that learning Your Red Bull X-Fighter photo never stops. Each year I like to looked like it was a difficult shot... think that I get slightly better and was it as challenging as it seems? learn something more, helping It wasn’t the easiest shoot but as that years photos be that bit always you come prepared and

You’ve got to persevere and really love photography

having done your research. I knew we’d be shooting from a platform facing Battersea Power station so I was keen to incorporate the legendary building into the shots where possible, even just through the brickwork. Aside from that it’s just the same key element that applies  to all sporting photography, timing. 

better than the previous year. I’m sure you get asked this often but which artist (past or present, dead or alive) would you most like to photograph? It’s a bit cliche but the artist alive or dead that I would most like to photograph would be Michael Jackson. Had he still been alive chances are I’d have been able to shoot his This Is It tour at the What’s the biggest tip you O2. As I said before, I’m all about can give to an up-and-coming the performance and I believe photographer attempting to go Jackson would’ve put on a show freelance? like no other. Not to do it, you’ll steal my Page | 19

business! Seriously though, it’s a very crowded market so you really need to be sure that your portfolio  stands out above the floods of others picture editors and publications will view. On top of that you’ve got to persevere and really love photography. It’s not something you can just pick up and instantly become published in leading publications. You get knocked back a lot but it’s all about learning to come back, taking even better photos and most importantly never giving up.

To see more visit: www. dansmythphotography. com Next month’s reader profile will feature Rodrigo Layug


Photograph by Gary Way, for more visit: www.flickr.com/photos/gjway


Boulevard du Temple, by Daguerre (above).

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t sometimes seems strange to me that the vast majority of history has gone by without any photographs being taken. All of the moments in time before the early 18th century were effectively lost, the only records of them being subjective written accounts or works of art crafted by humans. In the absence of the invention of a time machine, we can never know exactly what a street scene in Ancient Rome looked like, Page | 22

or the exact expressions of the faces of the soldiers at the Battle of Waterloo. When permanent photography was invented, all of that changed. There was finally a method that allowed people to look at a direct representation of a moment in time; to see what something looked like not just from someone else’s perspective, but to see the actual image that formed as the light rays hit the camera. Of course, most early photography wasn’t


The First Photographs

entirely accurate (the first ever photograph of a person shows a man apparently alone on an empty street, in fact he was simply the only person standing still long enough to show up on the camera’s long exposure) but that didn’t change the fact that it was finally possible to capture images directly from life. The history of photography arguably stretches back thousands of years; as it was not invented all in one go. Rather, it

was a gradual process that came together in the 19th century. The pinhole camera, or “camera obscura”, has been known of since ancient times. This is simply a box with a hole in it that allows light to travel through and form an upside-down image on the opposite inside face of the box. For centuries people knew of this invention, but lacked any means of making the image permanent. In 1727, Professor J. Schulze accidentally made a chemical that darkened when it was exposed to sunlight. In doing this, he provided the beginnings of the other half of the “recipe” for making a photograph. Thomas Wedgwood expanded on this idea when he made temporary pictures by treating leather with silver nitrate, placing objects on them and leaving them in the sun. It was Nicéphore Niépce, however, who combined the camera obscura and photosensitive chemicals, creating the first proper pictures. He experimented with using bitumen as a coating on a glass or metal plate. Upon exposure to light, the bitumen hardened, which meant that the bitumen not exposed to light could be washed off with lavender oil. The bitumen that remained formed an image, and the first permanent pictures were born. When Niépce died in 1833, his partner, Louis Daguerre, improved Page | 23

the process and patented the Daguerreotype, the first photographic method available to everybody (who could afford it!) Daguerreotypes used silver coated copper plates immersed in iodine as the light sensitive “canvas”, which were fixed after exposure by bathing them in silver chloride solution. This was more convenient and efficient than the earlier “heliographs” that Niépce had developed. Daguerreotypes were so successful and popular; the French Government actually brought the rights to it and made it publicly accessible, so that anyone could use it. This marked the beginning of photography, for the first time it was possible to show someone exactly what a place or person looked like without being a professional artist. The general public’s knowledge of the world became more accurate, and the beauty of photography started to develop (pardon the pun). Since the first photographs, much has occurred in the realm of photography as it has evolved with new technologies and techniques, but the simple beginnings it came from shows how amazing it is that ideas can evolve to produce something as incredible as photography. - Philip Cohn


Your Guide to By James Murphy

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kay, so you’ve got your first SLR camera. Maybe you’ve got the kit lens too, but you’re looking into getting a new lens and you’re not sure what. There are a few different lens types out there that all do different things and are designed for different purposes.

The good thing about these lenses is they tend to be cheaper, smaller and lighter than the professional levels that stay the same aperture throughout the range. The old rule with zoom lenses used to be to stay within three times the minimum focal length. So for a 70-200, you multiply the 70 by 3, which is 210mm. The maximum length is within the 210mm Zoom lenses bracket. Newer “super-zoom” These are pretty standard lenses, like the Tamron 18-200 these days. Zoom lenses are fall outside of the bracket – 18 anything that zooms – hardly * 3 = 54. As a rule, these supervery surprising, really. They can be really wide, or really long – Canon’s 8-15mm lens and Sigma’s 200-500 are very different lenses, but both zoom lenses. The more expensive/higher end zoom lenses have an aperture that doesn’t change throughout the range. For example, a 70-200mm ƒ2.8 can stay at ƒ2.8 if you zoom from 70mm to 200mm. Cheaper zooms are pretty low quality, lenses, aimed more at the however many people still like mass market, will change to a and use them because of their smaller aperture as you zoom, convenience and weight. for example a 70-300mm ƒ4The trade-off with zoom 5.6, so that when you zoom the lenses come twofold: generally, aperture will change as follows: they tend to be slower lenses. 70-103mm = ƒ4 The high end zoom lenses 104-154mm = ƒ4.5 often go as wide as ƒ2.8, which 155-228mm = ƒ5.0 is pretty good, but there are 229-300mm = ƒ5.6 much faster lenses available on Photo (above) by Krish Mistry Page | 24

Lenses the market. Because there are moving parts, the lenses tend to be of a lower quality than prime lenses (see below). While this is true, the vast majority of users won’t notice any different – only “pixel-peepers” will be able to tell. Primes Prime lenses! Any pixel peeper, professional photographer or casual enthusiast will have an opinion on prime lenses. Many people love them and use nothing else and many people loathe them and say they’re old fashioned and out dated. So what is a prime? A prime lens is a lens that doesn’t zoom. It has a fixed focal length. Sounds awkward, right? Well, prime lenses offer superior quality to zoom lenses, are much faster and often smaller for a cheaper price than zooms. Your average fast prime is at least ƒ2 – and that’s quite slow for a prime! The most common is the standard 50mm – these were the standard lens shipped with cameras for many decades and are still the most popular. They are called standard because this lens gives the closest image to what the human eye sees.


Photos by Chi Lau

Prime lenses force the photographer to think about composition and perspective. With a zoom lens, you can just zoom in to get closer – with a prime, you’ll have to actually move. Stopping to think more about your photos and move around trying different angles will improve your photography a lot – you’ll start to think about how things look and what you want in the frame. If you use it enough, you’ll start to see the picture before you even put the camera to your eye – and that’s what you want. Because primes are so much cheaper, you can normally pick up two or even three for the same price as a mid to high quality zoom lens. These means you get two lenses that offer better quality and handle in low light much better than a zoom lens. Great! But remember – zoom lenses are more versatile and in a tight situation they can be better. If you’re looking for a new lens and you’ll have time to stop and think about the photo before you take it – consider a prime lens. They’ll likely improve your skills as a photographer and tend to hold their price better than zoom lenses, so if you want to sell you won’t lose much money.

might sound odd – some wide angle pictures of landscapes are focussing on something way in the distance and have a lot of boring foreground. Using a telephoto lens will still keep the sense of distance and scale without having large areas in the frame where nothing is happening.

Ultra-wide angle Ultra-wide angle lenses allow the photographer to fit more in the frame: they cover a wider field of view. Typically, an ultrawide angle is anything wider than 24mm. They offer some pretty extreme distortion that can give a really interesting look to your images. They’re great for Super telephoto landscapes and for getting close Generally anything above up, “in your face” style shots. 200mm. These lenses are favoured by the paparazzi, bird watchers, Wide angle plane spotters…by anyone that Wide angle lenses generally sit photographs things from a great between 24mm and 50mm. They distance. These lenses have still offer some distortion but not a tendency to be absolutely nearly so much as an ultra-wide enormous – you wouldn’t want to angle. carry one around for long! Canon actually developed a 1200mm Standard super-telephoto lens for taking As I said above, the standard picture of things over a mile away lens is 50mm – this gives the field which the military used during the of view and perspective closest cold war! to that of the naked human eye. Macro lenses Telephoto Macro lenses are a lot of fun. Telephoto lenses are generally Macro photography is taking anything from 70-200mm. They photos really, really close up so make great portrait lenses. you can see every detail. The Standing behind the lights in a great thing about macro lenses studio and looking at a model, is that a 100mm macro lens will they’re the perfect length for double as a really great telephoto a head shot, with or without and portrait lens – a lot of people shoulders. They’re also very forget that you can use a macro good for landscapes, which lens as a standard lens, too! Page | 25


Your Guide to

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Entry-Level Cameras:

here are many different entry level Digital Single Lens Reflex cameras on the market today; so it is easy to see where it can be confusing when picking out a starter camera. As well as the many different options to choose there are different terms used by many camera manufacturers which can appear as complete gobbledygook if you are unsure where to start out. Sony’s D-SLR range starts out at a pretty standard price of £400 and can reach prices as high as £450 in the beginner class alone. So let’s take a look at the beginner range of Sony D-SLR’s. One way in which the Sony Alpha range doesn’t quite match up to other brands is where the Sony Alpha range only has nine autofocus points, brands such as Nikon boast 11. This is not necessarily a problem depending on how you wish to use your camera and whether or not you wish to use auto or manual focus. All Sony beginner D-SLR’s come with an inbuilt help guide and graphic display; which is useful in helping to teach the camera basics; however if you understand what each function does, then the display can be changed to a more advanced basic display. With the help guide inbuilt it allows users to gain a basic understanding of how to easily create each look using the different modes and settings within their camera. Beginner Sony D-SLR’s also all boast a Steady Shot INSIDE technology; which is the image stabilisation technology. Unlike the competitors, Sony has built this technology into the camera body, this makes it cheaper to manufacture their lenses, and each time you buy a different

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brand lens, you do not have to pay for the technology each time. First let’s take a look at the cheapest D-SLR in the Sony beginner range. α290 At just £409, this D-SLR boasts 14.2megapixels and has a highest ISO of 3200 and nine autofocus points and can shoot up to 2.5 frames per second. As this is the rather basic model it has very few additional features. Though of the three cameras viewed in this article, this camera is marginally lighter at 456g as opposed to 490 and 497g α330 The mid-range beginner D-SLR within the Sony brand is the α330. This camera is £439 and has the basic features of the α290 whilst it only has 10.2 megapixels it boasts many more features than the α290. It has the same ISO and autofocus points. One of the major differences with this beginner level D-SLR is that it has an autofocus live view; which most of the Sony Alpha range do not. This body again can shoot up to 2.5 frames per second making it ideal for catching movement as you would be unlikely to miss a shot when shooting continuously. This model also boasts a tilting screen which is a handy addition for using outside so as it is possible to view the screen in the sunlight. α390 At £459 this D-SLR is the most expensive of the Sony Alpha beginner range. In many ways the α390 is very similar to the cheaper α330; though it has a few individualising features. The main difference between this and the Page | 26

α330 is the number of megapixels on the sensor. If you wish to print out a larger resolution image then this camera would be more beneficial since it has the extra four megapixels making it 14.2. The ISO range and autofocus points are all the same; and this camera also has the autofocus live view. So what else does this camera offer for the extra cost? This camera also has a high ISO noise reduction feature. All in all Sony have a wide variety of cameras available for a number of users, ranging from a minimal amount of features to much more advanced features. Even taking a quick glimpse into the intermediate D-SLR’s Sony have produced boasts technology such as auto HDR features and seven frames per second; which in comparison to the range available by other brands is a much faster rate. Since Sony has a strong foothold in other technologies, there is definitely room for improvement in their D-SLR range, and they are quickly catching up to the more popular brands, with new and better technology available to them. With Sony still being fairly new to the D-SLR market, there are fewer lenses available than the more popular brands. However secondary manufacturers are now making Sony lenses, and with the new Alpha mount for Sony D-SLR’s it is possible to use old Minolta A mount lenses on the newer Sony D-SLR’s so as to gain more choice in the lens market. An investment in a Sony D-SLR would be a worthwhile choice, as with their room for expansion and expertise in technology; Sony has definite potential for growth in years to come.


The Ultimate Lens Review: The Sigma 70-300mm F/4-5.6 APO DG Macro Words by Chi Lau

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o last month we had a review on the Canon EF 50mm f1.8 II and this month we have the £180 Sigma 70-300mm F/4-5.6 APO DG Macro Lens... I know it’s a long name! You’re probably confused by all the letters, I was too when I first bought it but the letters aren’t really important. APO means apochromatic lens, which is just the type of glass that the lens has, and DG means that the lens can be used for both full frame and crop bodies. So the first impressions are that the lens, at 530g, is neither too light nor too heavy (the 70-200mm is nearly triple the weight!) The build quality seems fairly good and since I’ve had the lens it hasn’t scratched or broke at all and I got it second hand. Overall the first impressions are very good; it’s light enough to carry all day and well built to withstand the odd bump. When fully extended the lens is almost double the length when not extended When using the lens the first thing I noticed is the noise it makes when focusing. Before I bought the lens I had read reviews saying it was very loud when trying to

focus and having only used my kit lens I noticed a big difference, however it’s not as loud as the reviews made it out to be and doesn’t attract attention or scare off wildlife. The actual focusing is slow-ish as it takes awhile to “hunt” or search for the subject but it’s still fast enough to be able to capture fast action such as sports. Although in less than ideal lighting conditions the lens takes a lot longer to focus and may not even focus at all if its dark enough.

never compete with the quality of lenses such as the 70-200mm which is over £1,500... So at half the price the image quality is still good. If you get the APO version of the lens it will mean colour is better than the non APO version which is about £50 cheaper at £130-£140. The aperture of this lens is f/4-5.6; this means that at 70mm the aperture is f/4 and at 300mm it’s f/5.6. While f/4.5 isn’t very good in low light conditions it doesn’t mean it will be any less sharp. However with any zoom lens the image quality does go This lens, as mentioned above, down slightly between the 200has a 1:2 macro feature which 300mm focal ranges. can only be accessed between the 200-300mm focal ranges. All Overall at £180 the lens is very you do is slip a switch and the lens good and a useful as it allows can be focussed a little bit further you to take photos of everything allowing 1:2 macro photography. from landscapes and sports to The macro feature, while useful, flowers and animals. The image has a big downside which is that quality is great for the price you have to stand a fair distance and the only downside is the away in order to actually focus on focusing which is loud and slow the object. You have to be about in low light conditions, however 1.5 metres away or in other words the advantages outweigh the standing up while your subject is disadvantages. I would rate placed on the floor. this lens 7 out of 10 and highly recommend it to people who In terms of actual image want a lens with a large focal quality this lens is roughly in the range while at the same time middle. Sharpness is good but want an all rounder lens. not amazing. Note that this is a budget camera and so you will

Sony article (left) by Danielle Starr Page | 27


Photograph by Irina Ghiuzan, www.flickr.com/photos/irinaghiuzan

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