- Professional Portfolio: Nicholas Huisman - See the winning image from the 2009 year end competition
- Sony Alpha A500 in South America - Consumer Electronics Show
We want to hear from you email@example.com
All about what is happening in the photographic world locally and internationally
Cover Image by: Nicholas Huisman Founder: Tristan Hall Design & Layout: Greg Wrench
The lastest in technology on show
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://photocomment.net To advertise in PhotoComment please email us at email@example.com
Professional Portfolio 16 Nicholas Huisman
Antony Soicher takes the Alpha 550 to South America
International and local Intellectual Property and Copyright laws protect all material (text, images, photographs, graphics, software and icons) used herein. You are only permitted to download, copy or print this on-line publication or any features there from for personal, instructional and non-commercial use.
See the winning image from our 2009 Year End Competition, and the highly commended entries.
Whilst all care and attention is employed to ensure the legitimacy, accuracy and correctness of the information, data, texts, images, ideas, photographs and opinions expressed herein, PHOTOCOMMENT cannot be held responsible or liable in any way whatsoever for the content as it appears herein. Similarly, PHOTOCOMMENT makes no express or implied warranty or representation as to the proprietorship or intellectual property inherent in the images and photographs published herein and which it has commissioned for use from external sources on good faith dealing. Accordingly, PHOTOCOMMENT is hereby indemnified, defended and held harmless against all claims, liability, damages, costs and expenses in regard thereto.
ow! It is already 2010! Last year flew
support of PhotoComment and for sponsoring the
past and many things I fear slipped
prize for this competition.
through the cracks. Here at PhotoComment we had a busy year starting our online magazine and
We also gave away an Olympus FE-4000 Compact
getting the content that we bring yu every month.
Digital Camera to a lucky reader who registered on
It has been a great challenge to keep it interesting
our website. We will be running many more
and kep you the reader coming back month after
competitions and promotions both in the magazine
month. We have seen in our readership that
and on our website, so keep you eyes open!
PhotoComment is becoming more and more popular.
This months professional portfolio is Nicholas Huisman an accomplished wedding and fashion
This year we have many plans to improve the
photographer. See what he has to say about his
magazine and website. Your comments and
suggestions are valuable to us so please send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another highlight in this issue is an extended review on the Sony Alpha A500 by Antony
We were extremely impressed by the response to
Soicher. He was lucky enough to visit /South
our competitions at the end of last year. The
America last year and we sent the Alpha 500 along
quality of the entries received and the
to see how it performed.
interpretation of the theme kept us guessing who was going to walk away with the great prize of
Unitl next month, happy shooting.
the Sony Alpha A230. See the winning image plus other highly commended images later in this
issue. We must thank Sony for their continued
Readers Comments We welcome feedback about what you think of PhotoComment Magazine. Your stories, experiences, questions, inspirations, are all welcome and can be sent to email@example.com enter “Letters” as the subject. Each month we will publish some of your feedback.
Nikon High End Digital SLR's get updated firmware
irmware updates seem to be the new norm in the
Digital SLR arena. Nikon has announced Firmware updates for the D3x, D3, D700 & D300S. The biggest update seems to be that all the models will now support 64GB memory cards. There are other model specific changes, for all the details contact Nikon or visit their website.
Register and win on photocomment.net
ongratulations to the winner of our first website competition. All Malcolm Pitman did was register on http://photocomment.net and he has won an Olympus FE-4000 Compact Digital Camera. Watch out for more competitions in this magazine and on our website. Registering on our website will automatically qualify you for most of the website based give aways! Register Now!
A SONY SD Card?
Camera Control Pro from Nikon gets an update
ikon has updated its Camera Control Pro remote control software to recognize the firmware changes in its D3 and D700 DSLRs. Version 2.7.1 modifies the behaviors of Auto ISO and Focus tracking to reflect the revisions made in the recent firmware updates.
ony has launched a line of digital camcorders called the Bloggie. They will shoot 1080p MPEG4 video and 5 mega pixel stills. Featuring a host of functionality that is becoming more familiar like face detection and SteadyShot. The PM5K model will include a â€œ360 degreeâ€? lens which is able to capture a wraparound panorama video viewable on Sony's Picture Motion Browser. The cameras have a built in USB port for charging and transferring data and will use SD memory. Hope we see them soon!
ony has announced that they will now be producing a line of SD memory cards. They will make both SD and mircoSD cards, the former of which run the gamut from 2GB to 32GB (all Class 4), while the latter will be available in 2GB, 4GB, or 8GB capacities. This does not mean the end for Memory Stick, according to Sony the SD cards merely "complement" its existing Memory Stick line, and strengthen its position as a "full line media supplier."
Flexline 100 Digital Camera from Rollei
o celebrate 90 years in the business, Rollei is
bringing out the Flexline 100 Comact Digital Camera. It may look small and simple but the Rollei packs a bit of a punch. It features a 10 megapixel CCD sensor, an internal 3x optical zoom and 21 programmes, including smile and face detection.
Canon releases the new EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens for professionals
anon has added to its acclaimed L-series with the launch of the new EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM telephoto zoom lens. The lens launches as the successor to the immensely popular EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM, offering improved performance in every area. True to the L-seriesâ€™ heritage, the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM delivers optical excellence in the most challenging situations. As well as a revamp of the internal optical system, the lens has also been structurally re-developed as a direct result of user feedback, making it as robust and reliable as it is optically advanced. The EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM features a redesigned optical system, consisting of 23 elements in 19 groups to deliver truly impressive results. A highperformance fluorite element is used at the heart of the lens path, coupled with no fewer than five ultra-low dispersion (UD) elements, drastically reducing chromatic aberration throughout the zoom range to produce high contrast images with edge-to-edge definition. A high-speed Auto Focus (AF) system perfectly matches the abilities of the recently-launched EOS-1D Mark IV and EOS 7D Digital SLR (DSLR) cameras. The new model also features a ring-type USM AF motor, which combines with a new high-speed CPU and an optimised AF algorithm to make auto focusing both faster and quieter.
I N T E R N A T I O N A L
CONSUMER ELECTRONICS SHOW LAS VEGAS - January 7-10, 2010
t’s January 2010 and the big year for South Africa
has arrived but while many are focusing on the kick
off date and what it could all mean for our economy, traffic congestion and general way of life for the five weeks that will follow, the direction for technology in general has been set for 2010 at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. This annual event held each January is where manufacturers in the technology sector show off their innovations and launch their latest products and this year was, in my view, better than expected considering the recent world wide economic climate.
So what’s new?
Olympus announced 9 new cameras across the board from the entry level FE-47 to the new mju Tough 3000.
Olympus bolstered the megapixel milestone for entry
Launching only four new cameras – all focused on the
consumer cameras to 14mp, particularly with the FE-47
entry level compact market – Canon introduced the
(5x Zoom) and the FE-4030 & 4040 both with 4x zoom
PowerShot A495 & A490 both 10mp 3.3x Zoom
starting at an impressive
models that support the new SDXC (Extreme Capacity
26mm wide-angle. The
SD cards) all that sets the A495 apart from the A490 is
FE-5030 also has 14mp
the 9-point AF over the 5-point AF and one or two
and has the 5x zoom
extra Scene modes.
starting at 26mm.
There was also the announcement of the A3000 IS at 10mp with 4x Zoom and the A3100 IS with an increased resolution of 12mp. On their mid to higher end range the Stylus-5010 shares the same lens as the FE-5030 but ads 720p HD Video while the bigger Stylus-7030 takes the lens to 7x zoom starting at 28mm and the bigger Stylus-7040 ads the 720p HD video as well. If that was not enough the mju 9010 takes the zoom to 10x with all the other key points mentioned in the Stylus-7040.
It would therefore seem that the odd one out really is the mju Tough 3000 which offers 12mp, 3.6x Zoom
.The other two remaining cameras were the HX5 and
starting at 28mm, the same 720p HD Video, and as we
TX7 both featuring the new backlit 10.2mp “Exmor R”
have come to expect from the Tough range 1.5m
CMOS sensor and capable of shooting the Handycam
shockproof, scratch proof, 3m waterproof, etc.
quality 1080i AVCHD high definition video. They also offer Auto HDR (High Dynamic Range) modes, Sweep
Panorama, Optical SteadyShot image stabilization. The
Never one to be out done, roughly a quarter of the new
TX7 is the typical slim style T-series camera we have
compact cameras announced at CES this year were
come to know featuring a 4x Carl Zeiss Optical Zoom.
Sony models. Many of them in my opinion being too
The HX5 has a 10x G-series lens and also offers built
similar to one another – something we have come to
in GPS for geo tagging your images plus a compass
expect from the Cyber-shot compacts.
that shows which way your were facing too.
The S series which for the last half of 2009 was only a
All new Sony products now support SD cards as well
single model range (S930) now becomes a two model
as Memory Stick and Sony also announced that they
range with the S2000 and S2100 both featuring 3x
are producing a range of SD cards. I am not so sure
zooms still with 10 and 12mp sensors respectively.
that they should or are going to scrap their own format just yet as I have found that the speeds offered by
The W-series received 8 new models to the current
Memory Stick are in many cases faster than an
WX1 which we were so impressed with recently. It is
equivalent priced SD card. This makes one wonder if
difficult to summarize them in any other way than with
this move is not just a way to make it easier for non
a brief chart:
Sony consumers to switch to Sony.
Model W390 W380 W370 W360 W350 W330 W320 W310
Lens 5X zoom (24mm) 5X zoom (24mm) 7X zoom (34mm) 4X zoom (26mm) 4X zoom (26mm) 4X zoom (26mm) 4X zoom (26mm) 4X zoom (28mm)
Resolution 14mp 14mp 14mp 14mp 14mp 14mp 14mp 12mp
HD Video 720p 720p 720p 720p 720p
Features f/2.4 G Lens, Sweep Panorama
Compact Camera Summary There were a number of cameras from other brands. Samsung launched 4 new compacts including the ST5500 and ST5000 with the ST5500 offering WiFi and Bluetooth making it easier to share your memories. In conclusion on the compacts, the big move seems to be to 14mp and HD video almost regardless of the brand making it no easier really for the average consumer in South Africa to make up his mind... in some cases within the same brand yet alone against others. More exciting is the announcement by Samsung of the
What else you ask?
NX10. They break away from their Pentax partnership
Well Panasonic launched their
for this model in that it uses a different lens mount. In
first SDXC card offering a mind
much the same vain as the Panasonic GH-1 and to a
blowing 64GB of storage.
lesser degree the PEN range from Olympus, this new
Remember that the potential for this
Samsung tries to offer the benefits of an SLR without
version of SD cards is 2 Terabytes so one has to
being a true SLR camera. Instead of a prism the
wonder what is coming next that could use so much
camera offers an electronic view finder making the
memory? Then again CES gave some direction here if
camera smaller than an SLR and should therefore
you look out of the Photographic category a bit and
allow it to utilise AF in its 720p HD video mode.
saw the vast range of 3D HD LCD TVs that were
Announced with a 18-55mm, 50-200mm and 30mm
announced and the move to having a full 3D home
F2 pancake lens one wonders if we will see the NX10
theatre, it wonâ€™t be long till we want to try our hand at
hit our shores following the poor sales of previous
making our own 3D home movies.
Pentax K Mount NX cameras.
On the DSLR side Sony announced the new Alpha 450 which we have heard may not make its way to our
shores due to the marginal price difference between it
So there you have the gist of it. As brief a CES round
and what is in my opinion a better spec'ed Alpha 500.
up as we dare make it. You can rest assured that we
One fails to understand why they threw away their
will endeavour to bring you as many reviews as we can
competitive advantage of Quick AF Live View on a
over the coming months on these new models though
flip screen to save a few hundred Rand.
time is not on our side as this year will be a big one for new photographic products. PMA (Photo Marketing Association) have their show in February where we may see ranges expanded further and later this year (Sep 21-26, 2010) will see the biggest photographic show of them all, Photokina held every second year in Germany so hold on to your hats. At the end of this all though, the best advice we can offer is to snap out of the lust phase, dab up the drool and get shooting... at least till your camera breaks. [o]
2009 YEAR END PHOTO COMPETITION We wanted your image that best defined your 2009
2009 has drawn to a close and we here at PhotoComment in conjunction with Sony South Africa held a competition to see the images that best defined your 2009. Judging by the entries received although 2009 was a tough year financially and in many other ways, the South African spirit could not be dampened. This may sound like a cliche but we really did have a hard time choosing a winner. In the end there could only be one winner and we are please to announce the Giles Ridley from Cape Town walks away with the honour of winning our first PhotoComment Photo Competition and the coveted prize of the Sony Alpha A230. Congratulations Giles! Lookout for more competitions in 2010 with more great prizes.
The Prize: Sony Alpha A230 with 18-55mm lens THE WINNER IS: GILES RIDLEY Cape Townâ€™s Beauty- as one of the host cities for the FIFA World Cup 2009 was the year that Cape Town was put in the spotlight. The FIFA World Cup was upon us and every South African felt proud to be part of such a global venture. Cape Town was one of the cities chosen to host the FIFA games.
As a photographer, it made me look at Cape Town with different eyes. How do you capture the magic of this beautiful city in an image? I decided to climb the mountain and see my city through a birdâ€™s eye view. For me 2009 was about appreciating my city, Table Mountain, our pristine beaches and the glorious sunlight. For a moment, my panoramic photograph of the Cape Peninsula captured all of the beauty that Cape Town has to offer.
Winning Image by: Giles Ridley
2009 YEAR END PHOTO COMPETITION HIGHLY COMMENDED IMAGES
Calvin Anderson Mark LeRoux
2009 YEAR END PHOTO COMPETITION HIGHLY COMMENDED IMAGES
Arno See Jacek Zawada
PROFESSIONAL PORTFOLIO NICHOLAS HUISMAN This month we feature Nicholas Huisman in our Professional Portfolio. He is well established as a wedding photographer and has a studio in Linden. The image shown on the cover of this month's issue won him a Gold Award in the fashion category at the 2009 Fujifilm Professional Awards. To see more of his work vist http://www.photofanatix.co.za. We caught up with him and were able to ask him a fews questions. PC: When did you know that you were going to be a photographer? NH: I started doing a design diploma and photography was one of the subjects. I found myself wanting to be in the darkroom more than any other subject and the rest was history. PC: Your first paying job. What was it like? NH: Trade Centre hired me to photograph all the shelves in there stores. I realised photography has many aspects and photographing people was going to be my future rather than products.
PC: What types of photography do you enjoy? NH: I enjoy people images mainly fashion and art deco images. PC: You are an accomplisehd wedding photographer. What are some of the challenges that you face on the day of a wedding shoot? NH: Well the main thing is to have a great attitude as the bride has to have a great day and you spend more time with her than the groom does on the day. Being creative is a great challenge as it is safe to do what you know and challenging to do something different, especially when we used to shoot film. PC: What sets fashion photography apart from normal studio or portrait work? NH: A model, make up and styling and most
of all time and preparation. A fashion shoot is always about an objective, normally the client has the largest opinion as its his or her product. It is the photographers job to please the clients need, while fulfilling his own standard of image as it’s the photographers name that is carried with the clients vision. I guess it’s a balancing act. Normal studio work the client generally doesn’t know what they want and would like you to give them ideas, which is the hard part. PC: Do you feel threatened by the masses of inexperienced photographers entering the professional market? NH: Well yes and no. Yes the pie will get cut thinner and work will be taken from experienced photographers mainly because of price. Money talks in most circles and unless you have an unquivering name that has taken years to achieve, it can be a problem. No because most fly by nights are well, just fly by nights.
such a level that when people compare brands they are
Like in any business the work can be hard and long
picking at straws, waiting until the next one comes up
hours and often longer than most, money and reward
with something that the other one hadn’t, but will
are often misunderstood in this business as you can put
shortly follow with. I belive in using the right camera
in both and often not make it due to lack of talent so its
for the type of work you need it for. Oh oops I
very important to get as many opinions of your work
blabbing again…. I use a Nikon D300 and a Canon 5D
as you can because art is very subjective.
mk11 wrap your head around that.
PC: What equipment do you shoot with?
PC: So then the big question is, Nikon or Canon?
NH: Well I know I use a camera and if I could would
PC: Sony I guess. (do I get a free camera for that
hide the label I would, as I really believe the camera is
comment.) Ha Ha see previous question.
just a tool. The companies that make them compete at
Sony Alpha A500 User Review By: Antony Soicher www.mainyak.co.za This is an unashamedly subjective user report on the new Sony Alpha 500. It is only fair to warn you that you’re in the wrong place if you want precise measurements of shutter noise, lens resolving power against standardised subject charts or curves showing
aberrations at high ISO levels. You’re also going to be
My last trip to South America, in 2005, started off
disappointed if you’re looking for a side-by-side
disastrously when I discovered on the first night in
comparison with the closest matching Nikon or Canon
Brazil that my favourite, tried and tested, Mamiya 6
SLR. If however you’re looking for a candid opinion
medium format rangefinder was absolutely dead. No
on how this camera works for travel and street
warning signs, no ill-health, just an apparently
photography, you’re in the right place.
peaceful demise while crossing the Atlantic (I knew that airline food was deadly!) The battery was fine, but
In December 2009 I travelled from Johannesburg to
the electronics had given up completely, and never
Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro for a two week trip,
worked again despite numerous resuscitation and
and had the opportunity to test the new Sony Alpha
repair attempts on my return. So I ended up schlepping
500 in the field. Tristan from Sony South Africa
three wonderful but useless Mamiya lenses and a
arranged for a basic review kit consisting of the
paperweight Mamiya 6 body through Brazil, Argentina
camera body, DT 18-55mm kit lens, and DT 50mm
& Chile. Thankfully I had thrown in at the last minute
a Fuji medium format folding rangefinder, so my 120 film stock was not just extra baggage, but my Leica M4-P rangefinder with heavyweight 50mm f1 Noctilux lens - taken along for low light work - was promoted to primary camera on that trip. So you can understand why, at the outset, I had some misgivings about the lack of a spare battery in the review package. While a spare battery is normally a standard item for any photo shoot, I would normally prefer to also pack a second body for a lengthy trip to avoid travelling with disparate systems, but that was not an option here. So I ended up taking a hodgepodge
Sony α500 My two children were the first to give the α500 the thumbs up. Within minutes they were negotiating when I could get them one, and asking how long they would have to save their pocket money to buy their own.
of cameras and lenses on this trip - partly to provide adequate backup, but mostly to cover the range of shooting situations I expected to encounter and which I felt I could not entrust entirely to unknown equipment.
While air travel, and increasingly stringent security policies around hand luggage, imposes its own constraints on how much gear you can practically travel with, the bigger consideration for me for street and travel photography is what you are prepared to carry around all day. After suffering through numerous camera backpacks and traditional shoulder bags on dozens of trips covering four continents over the last 20 years, I now tend to walk around with a minimum of luggage wherever possible. For this trip I squeezed my Sony Vaio laptop, external hard drive, chargers, cables, cards and assorted camera gear into a Tamrac Adventure 9 backpack, but this was only used between cities and spent
Rainy street - Buenos Aires
all of its time in my hotel room.
Travelling with too much photo gear makes it hard to move around unobtrusively and ultimately gets in the way of a focus on photography.
For day to day shooting I used a small, ugly but inconspicuous and hardy Crumpler
Nevertheless, the first non-negotiable accessory for
Blunderbus messenger bag, big enough only for a
travel is a spare battery, and spare charger (or Sony’s
spare lens, a Leica rangefinder camera & lens, hand-
dual battery charger) if you want to charge both
held light meter and a few rolls of spare film. By
design there was no space in the bag for the α500. For street photography, your camera needs to be
Since I also took along my Sony R1 camera (with
immediately at hand; having to dig for a camera when
spare battery) I could not help reflecting on the
you see something worth photographing is a sure way
irritation of camera manufacturers changing batteries
to miss the shot or draw attention to yourself and scare
between models. The R1’s battery does not fit the
off your subject.
α500, but at least it did fit the same charger. The hope of a universal battery is as close to reality as a
universal language or currency. In the meantime, a
Despite my concerns, I never managed to exhaust the
good portion of your packing space will be dedicated
α500 battery - even on a long day of shooting - but I
to batteries, chargers, cables and other electronic
did come uncomfortably close. Battery life was good,
but as expected is adversely affected by live view, focus hunting and photo review in camera.
Lens Choices I have long maintained that having too much camera
trapped insect, the Îą500 couldnâ€™t quite keep up with
equipment, besides being expensive, is also just a
the rapid movement. There was considerable focus
distraction; having tighter constraints, knowing your
hunting, especially when trying to track the moving
gear intuitively and pushing its boundaries in my
spider, and I ended up switching to manual focus,
experience results in better pictures. Call it focusing on
setting focus to minimum distance and moving the
the image, not the lens.
camera back & forth to get the subject in focus. The results were still not satisfactory - at least as much my
In response to this view, some years ago an old friend
fault of course rather than just the equipment. This was
challenged me to leave all other gear at home and use
something which most cameras would struggle with,
nothing other than a Leica M3 rangefinder with 50mm
but I did miss my dedicated 60mm Nikon macro lens
lens for a few weeks on an upcoming trip. This resulted in some of my all-time favourite images. I have imposed similar artificially tight constraints on numerous photo projects over the years with similar success. So I tend to be extremely selective in my choice of lenses - I prefer short, fast, prime lenses, and the few zoom lenses I have owned in the past never seemed to last long in my collection. The rather limited range zoom and longer than normal prime lens included in the Îą500 review kit did not worry me unduly, but would not have been my first lens choices. The 18 to 55mm (27 to 82.5mm equivalent) is perfectly acceptable as a general purpose lens, and performed well. The build quality of the kit lens was however disturbing, with a slight wobble of the front housing becoming apparent after just a few days use. While walking on a main road alongside a river in Penedo, in the Resende district (a couple of hours drive from Rio) I noticed a wonderful spider hiding in a dark corner of a road sign. It was almost impossible to get a decent shot while the spider huddled in his dark corner eating, but when it rushed out to grab a newly
Julio: Copocabana, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil The small, light and unobtrusive 50mm worked wonderfully as a short portrait lens.
which I have used to photograph insects in similar
found that pattern focus didn’t always do what I
circumstances, with far more satisfying results. Depth
wanted and that split second of extra confirmation,
of field is of course a major challenge at such close
having to look to see where the camera had decided to
distances and with a bit more time I would have
focus, was off-putting. Before I switched to spot focus,
pushed ISO up to allow for a smaller aperture. The
I found that all other options including facial
background behind the web was also not ideal, but in
recognition did what I wanted them to do about half
the few seconds I had to shoot, I managed to at least
the time. That lack of absolute certainty, and the need
get a decent record shot, but not something I was really
to check each time, were enough to convince me that
spot focus better suited my working style.
The 50mm f1.8 (75mm equivalent), while still clearly
The menus on the α500 were well laid out and easy to
a budget lens with a cheap plastic feel, was still much
navigate, although I didn’t spend a huge amount of
more solidly built than the kit zoom lens, and optically
time exploring them. If this was a camera I had
amazingly good. After a day of shooting with the zoom
purchased, I would have invested more time in reading
lens I would switch to the 50mm as light levels
the manual and customising settings further, but there
dropped. Since the zoom lens was f3.5 to f5.6, this
were just so many options that I didn’t bother. I found
switch would often happen earlier than expected,
my way around well enough to get the camera to work
especially on rainy days in Rio.
for me for the two week test period. My main objective was to be ready to get that shot when I saw it - and the
α500 did not get in the way of this at all, primarily
I value consistency and predictability in my cameras.
because I knew my preferences (keeping things
This may be a result of having used fully manual
simple) and managed to configure the α500 to behave
cameras for many years, but may also be the reason I
like I wanted.
made these choices in the first place. I tend to use digital cameras in much the same way, turning off
One noteworthy menu option that left me scratching
many distracting features which get in the way of this
my head was the auto rotate setting. I expected this to
ideal, while taking advantage of some remarkable
work like my Ricoh GX200 which senses the
innovations like live histograms.
orientation of the camera & flips the image 90 degrees making it really useful for reviewing portrait images.
The very first thing I did with the α500 was to turn off
This never seemed to work for me though.
the auto flash. I haven’t used a flash for so long that I can’t recall who the Soviet premier was at the time. So
As with many modern cameras, aiming to have the
my only opinion about the α500’s built-in flash is that
most complete set of software features, the α500 had
it happily turns off and stays turned off - I wasn’t
far more options than I wanted or needed. The
aware it was there after that.
dynamic range optimiser and high dynamic range options were interesting, but I only did some initial
It took me a few days of experimentation to fine tune
experimentation with these so cannot really comment
other features including selecting spot focus so I knew
on their broader usefulness, but the multi-exposure
exactly where focus would be set rather than the wider,
HDR approach is of course not suited to fast street
“smarter” focus area options. For travel / street
shooting, focus needs to be fast and predictable. I
LCD Display - Live View Mode In live view mode the α500’s viewfinder window is
horizontal since the LCD only moves in a single plane
blocked and the rear LCD monitors the live image.
(up & down). By contrast, the Sony R1’s LCD moves in any direction which allows the camera to be held very
I am a huge fan of waist-level shooting especially for
unobtrusively and used in vertical orientation.
candid shots. One of the main reasons I moved from Olympus to Nikon many years ago was the
As soon as you lift a camera to your eye, people tend to
opportunity to use a waist-level finder on the Nikon F2
take notice. This can be very limiting for candid
& F3, and I have since used a Nikon F4 and numerous
shooting and you generally have no opportunity for a
medium format SLRs in waist-level mode. Similarly,
second shot, and often even the first shot is ruined in the
Sony’s R1 attracted me for its superb live view, but the
α500 is a huge improvement on this simply in terms of Using a waist level finder or live view often means that
the size of the LCD.
you get that critical second or third shot without being One practical criticism of the α500’s LCD though is
noticed. Besides being unobtrusive, this also allows for
that vertical frames are a lot more awkward than
far more interesting angles without being a contortionist.
Harrods shop window: Buenos Aires, Argentina Heading back to my hotel in Buenos Aires late one night, I stopped on the sidewalk a couple of metres away from some activity inside Harrods. The angle of view of the 50mm lens on the α500 was a bit tighter than what I would normally get from my standard 30mm lens. I managed to grab two quick shots without attracting any attention, and walked on. Harrods is no longer a department store in Buenos Aires. It is a shabby shell now used for exhibitions. The day after this was shot, it was deserted and looked like it hadn't been used in years.
LCD Display - Optical Viewfinder Mode In optical viewfinder mode, the viewfinder window works as expected in an SLR with an unobtrusive LCD display at the bottom of the viewfinder frame. In this mode the rear LCD has three possible settings: 1. Default status display shows a grid of icons and basic exposure info. I found this mode of no value and quite gimmicky, especially since it is not interactive and you need to dive into the menus or other function buttons to change any settings 2. Exposure display featuring an initially impressive looking graphical exposure scale, plus other basic exposure and battery level details. The graphical scale deserves special mention as a good example of a nonsensical user interface. Rather than showing the currently selected exposure setting of aperture and shutter speed as well as equivalent combinations to achieve the same exposure value (EV), one of the two scales is going the wrong way. As a result, the aperture and shutter speeds to the right of the current setting both reduce the EV, meaning that the graphical display is confusing, wrong and useless. I have used countless light meters which managed to get this right - some more helpful than others in the way they displayed the information - but all correct. Sony though somehow managed to get this one horribly wrong.
No display (my favourite mode)
I found both of the first two options to be distracting and of no value, especially when bringing the camera up to my eye. These were both easily turned off by cycling through the options with the DISP button, but they reappeared when the camera was turned on again, or more irritating, when the mode was changed from live view to OVF. I didn’t see a way to change the default setting so that this stayed turned off, but must admit that I only thought to look for this while writing this review, after the camera had been returned to Sony.
Focus mode What we see on the α500 graphical exposure display: shutter speed f-stop
8 15 30 60 125 250 2.8
notice that the red 1/125 f11 pair is 2 stops less than the bold pair, and the blue 1/250 f16 pair is 4 stops less - why we need this shown to us graphically remains a mystery
When walking through a foreign city, I typically wind my camera strap around my wrist so that the camera can be held or left hanging within easy reach while giving my fingers a stretch. The α500’s weight was a pleasure compared with some of my regular camera choices, but I found it quite disconcerting when walking around to have the camera constantly hunting for focus, even though it should have turned itself off after 30 seconds, to be woken up with a slight touch on
What we’d logically expect to see: Shutter speed 500 250 125 60 30 15 8 f-stop
8 11 16 22
as with any half-decent light meter from the last 50 years, any of the above pairings (colour pairs) give the same exposure value (EV) with different depth of field and shutter speed effects.
the shutter release button. After a bit more experimentation I ended up choosing single AF mode rather than continuous AF, even though I would have preferred focus tracking for my many shots of moving subjects.
Image Stabilisation -
While the lenses in the α500 review kit were not my first choice, I
I like motion and spend a lot of time panning
was generally impressed with the results, especially for these
bicycles, motorbikes, cars, buses, pedestrians and
lower priced options. I wasn’t convinced they would be as durable
even rivers. Yes, my wife is very patient.
as higher priced optics though.
Outside a bar across the road from our hotel, I took
The Sony line of lenses, building as it does on Minolta’s legacy,
a couple of unobtrusive waist-level shots of the two
offers a wide range to suit all needs and I would seriously
guys chatting and felt that a bit of motion might
consider shifting systems if I were not already heavily invested in
make the shot more interesting (sharp on the
Nikon, Leica, Mamiya and Bronica. OK, so there’s always room
talkers, with a blur on the bike moving through - a
for one more!
change from my usual panning technique). I recognise that there is no single perfect camera or lens. Each Only when reviewing the image (and other where I
choice involves some compromises. The Leica Noctilux F0.95
panned along moving subjects) did I notice some
lens is a remarkable asset in low light, but this comes at the
strange echo patterns in the moving portion of the
exorbitant cost in dollars and weight.
picture - enlarged from the above picture above. Despite some shortcomings and distractions, the Sony α500 I believe the jittery effect is a likely result of the
would be a valuable and welcome addition to my collection –
internal optical stabiliser. I did not confirm that
primarily for its noteworthy live view which would get a lot more
image stabilisation was set. I cannot confirm it was
use. If I were close to buying more gear, I would look more
switched on, but it seems to be a logical
closely at the similar but slightly higher spec α550 before making
conclusion. Of course, reading the manual is not a
bad idea (assuming the manual is well written and well translated which cannot be taken for granted),
Ultimately though I constantly need to remind myself that it’s
and getting familiar with new gear is critical
really not about the camera. I’ve shot some of my favourite
BEFORE shooting anything important. But it takes
photos on low resolution cellphones and cameras that I couldn’t
time to learn the features and unintended features
give away today. The constant improvements in digital
of any equipment, and this is only more
photography in recent years has added a lot of noise to this
pronounced with modern camera with literally
overwhelming choice, but the tools still don’t make the images.
hundreds of options and combinations of settings.
They do however make it easier and more fun, and the α500 was
Fortunately this jitter effect didn’t appear too often.
certainly a pleasure to use.
The famous Gary Fong Lightsphere UNIVERSAL - fits almost ANY on-
camera flash! The grip is so strong that it can support the entire weight of a camera, drive and flash securely. Attaches with patent pending grip system - WILL NOT FALL OFF! Includes translucent white dome, and accepts full line of Lightsphere Accessory Domes - AmberDome & ChromeDome. Available single diffuser with dome or in MONEY SAVING kits that contain everything you need to produce studio-quality lighting with your on-camera flash - without a bracket!
With Gary Fong Lightsphere-II
Available Now From
Readers Portfolio This is your chance to get your images published. For each issue we (the editors assisted by a panel of industry leading photographers) will choose a reader's portfolio that inspires and celebrates the art and craft of photography best for that month. You stand a chance to win a prize from Tandem Focus Distributors, one of our advertisers, should your portfolio be published. Include a self-portrait accompanied by a brief introduction of yourself, your style and your philosophy. Send us no more than 10 of your best images with your contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org enter â€œReaders Portfolioâ€? as the subject. Make sure the images are in JPEG format and no larger than 1 Megabyte (or closest too), we will contact you for larger files if needed. Needless to say that the standard will be high and uncompromising so please put your best foot forward.
FEBRUARY 2010 - Portfolios, Reviews and more! - Send us your sugestions email@example.com - Have you submitted a portfolio? You could be featured next month!
he new year has begun and with it new
opportunities. Many at this time find themselves planning for the year, setting goals and resolutions, others regretting the resolutions they may have made in an intoxicated state or being downhearted as they have already failed to follow their exercise routine through in the first two weeks of the year. The result of all this talk on resolutions, plans etc, got my mind turning over a few ideas – which I am not sure is ever a good thing, and combined with the fantastic images that made it a tough task for the judges to pick our winning image for the year end competition, I compiled a list of thoughts you may want to pick up on and run with in the new year. Plan to learn and try something new with your
photography. A great example is that flash that is gathering dust most months of the year because you been too anxious to try it. It’s a fact that many seldom use a flash and when they do thanks to modern marvels they get good results without understanding why, preventing them from trying to make the image better. On the other hand, perhaps you want to learn how to better understand your available light, maybe you are fascinated by low light imagery (see our first issue from March 2009) but whatever it may be, research it, try it and master it this year. Always keep your camera on hand. This important
in June last year. Even now at 7 months he knows when his picture is being taken, but there a number of moments I have only really caught thanks to the camera on my Blackberry. Why not make this year the year where you shop for a well equipped pocket camera that is always on you when the decisive moment appears. Lastly, plan and pursue a long term photographic
project, whether it be a wildlife documentary (even at the local zoo) or a simple yet essential family photo essay, look for a story that can be best told over a period of time in images that will drive you to share that story with the world and hone your ability to communicate your emotions with your viewer. Tell the tales of the earth and mankind through your eyes and the camera. These are just three ideas that I think can help us improve and lift our talent and sense of accomplishment this year. I would strongly encourage you to work on the last point as it comes down to the heart of what PhotoComment is about, a way to comment on the world through photography. See this as an early lead on what kind of competition you can expect in 2010 as well.
lesson really hit home with the birth of my first child We would like to hear what your goals are for 2010 photographically. Why not share them with us and give some ideas to other readers as well? [o]
Graffiti – Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro Green with envy? Fortunately the α500 wasn’t very flashy, since even a Joburg resident was made to feel uncomfortable walking around some parts of Buenos Aires and Rio with a camera at the ready. Image By: Antony Soicher - See Page 12 for Alpha 500 review