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wiN £10,000 oF prizeS! Nikon D750, Botswana safari & more! Issue 50 • Sept 2015 www.digitalcameraworld.com

CORE NIKON SKILLS

wilDliFe MaSterclaSS

NEW COLUMN!

Joe McNally

Top US pro joins the N-Photo team

iNtErviEW

tiM page

Meet the photographer made famous by Apocalypse Now

Join us in Africa on our most ambitious Apprentice ever

PRO INSIGHTS

go wilD at the zoo Shoot natural-looking images of animals in captivity

NIKOPEDIA

coMpoSitioN recoNSiDereD

Think you know the rules? Think again…

BIG TEST

JUMBo telephotoS The 8 best lenses for going long

SPECIAL FEATURE

HEAD TO HEAD

D810 vs D4s

Want to know which is the best D-SLR ever made? We reveal all…

Learn from the legends of photography with our practical guide


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Ways to Get even more out of n-PHoto

Welcome to issue 50 of…

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

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■ Hello, and a very warm welcome to this, the 50th issue of N-Photo, which is without doubt our most ambitious issue yet. We’ve really gone the extra mile this month – quite literally in the case of this issue’s Apprentice in Africa – and we hope you enjoy reading it every bit as much as we’ve enjoyed making it. If I had to pick out a highlight, it would be the aforementioned Apprentice, where we teamed an N-Photo reader up with award-winning wildlife pro Lou Coetzer, a 600mm f/4 lens and a custom-built photography boat for a truly unforgettable photo safari. Of course, being in the right place with the right kit and the right coach is only half the story – you can read the other half on page 8. Another must-read article this issue is our feature 50 Photography Quotes to Live By, which offers a truly inspirational masterclass from 50 of the biggest names from the last 100 years of photography. And speaking of big names, they don’t come much bigger than Tim Page, whose stories of changing rolls of film while under fire in Vietnam offer a graphic insight into life on the front line of photography. Finally, I would like to say a huge thank you to all of you, whether you’ve been a subscriber since issue one, or you’ve just bought the occasional issue – we couldn’t have done it without you!

aBout tHe cover

title mara elephant Photographer Greg du toit camera nikon D4s lens nikon 600mm f/4 exposure 1/400 sec at f/8, iso100 Description there are elephant shots, and then there are elephant shots. Greg’s deceptively simple, highly graphic image pares the biggest of africa’s ‘big five’ down to its unmistakable outline, from the tip of its tail to the tip of its trunk. like a perfectly crafted sentence, there isn’t anything you could add or take away from this image to improve it. even the glow of the sunset looks like it was designed to fit the subject – which, of course, is no accident. Website www.gregdutoit.com

www.nphotomag.com

Paul Grogan, Editor paul.grogan@futurenet.com

Get issue 1 of n-PHoto comPletely free! ■ To celebrate our 50th birthday, and to say a big thank you to all our readers for their custom

and support over the last 49 issues, we’re giving away the digital edition of our very first issue completely free – no sign-ups, no free trial, just a free copy of the issue where it all began, with our compliments. We’ve come a long way! To get your free copy, just visit bit.ly/NPhotoIssue1


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travel monopod Subscribe today and get a manfrotto monopod if you live in the uK See p88

ISSue 50 September 2015

Essentials The apprentice 08 CovEr fEaTurE

Our Apprentice goes on safari with top pro Lou Coetzer. PLUS win a weeklong photo safari in Africa for yourself!

CovEr fEaTurE

50 photography quotes to live by

We can all use some advice from the masters of the art – discover what they said, and how to make their advice work for you

22 Lightbox 28 on assignment 42 Massive 50th issue giveaway! Go wild at the zoo 69 74 over to You 88 Subscription offers 102 Cash from your Nikon 106 My Big Break Interview 108 119 Next issue Joe McNally 148 Be inspired by beautiful nature images from Nikon-using pros

What it’s like to shoot Wimbledon

Nikon Skills 50 Come fly with us 54 Say it with shadows 56 Tweak as you tidy 58 Get a grip! 60 Double the drama 62 Shoot the impossible 64 Draw a line in the sand

Master the skills you need to capture pin-sharp shots of birds of prey in flight Tell the story of what shadows get up to behind your back

Use Lightroom’s Quick Develop panel to edit your images as you sort Discover the benefits of attaching a battery grip to your Nikon Use some black perspex or a mirror to capture a cityscape with a difference

Combine three images to create an impossible camera-free mirror photo Create a cool optical illusion with the help of a laptop and tethering software

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September 2015

Nikopedia Nikon Know-how 90 CovEr fEaTurE

Think you know what composition’s all about? It might be time to think again. Michael Freeman’s here to bust some old myths, and provide some pithy pointers on capturing more original images

96

Nikon Software

98

ask Jason

Take complete control of the tones in your images by altering highlights, shadows and midtones independently using Nikon Capture NX-D’s powerful Curves tool

Nikon Toolkit

We help a reader find the perfect body and lens combination for photographing trucks on the move

101

CovEr fEaTurE

CovEr fEaTurE

Can’t make it to Africa? Capture the continent’s wildlife closer to home Your stories, letters and more

Don’t miss out on the next 50 issues! Learn how to set up a photo website

Meet our new Nikon expert, the man with the solutions to all your Nikon-related problems at his fingertips

100

50 fantastic prizes – but there can only be one winner. Could it be you?

Head-to-head

When you’re photographing wildlife, is Nikon’s top-of-the-range D4s or pixelpacking D810 the best body to opt for?

The image that touched a nation

CovEr fEaTurE

Tim Page tells the story of how he came to shoot from the front line in Vietnam You know you want it…

CovEr fEaTurE

Our new columnist, top US pro Joe McNally, talks about lighting athletes

www.digitalcameraworld.com


expert HANDS-ON vIDeO guIDeS Whenever you see this button, simply use this web link… bit.ly/NPhoto50 to view our online video tutorials

CovEr fEaTurE Think more creatively at the zoo to make the animals look like they’re in the wild

Test Team 122 New Gear

Feast your eyes on Nikon’s stunning new 600mm f/4 lens – and all the other latest hot new kit on the market

124 Mini Test

Stabilise a heavy camera and lens combination with a gimbal head – we help you choose from five great options

126

CovEr fEaTurE

Discover how to capture pin-sharp images of birds in flight

02

03

Tweak your images as you sort them in Lightroom’s Library

04

Fit a battery grip to your Nikon and prolong your shooting

05

Use black perspex or a mirror to shoot a unique cityscape

06

07

08

Use strong sunlight to tell a story using nothing but shadows

Create an impossible mirror image using Photoshop

124

Big Test

Photographing wildlife is a serious task, and we’ve got eight big beasts that can do the job. Which of these monster telephotos will be king of the jungle?

138

122

01

Buyer’s Guide

All the stats you need on cameras and lenses, so you can buy with confidence

www.digitalcameraworld.com

126 Use a tethering Take full control of software to help the tones in your THE VIDEOSan AND INFORMATION PROVIDED ON THIS DISCshots ARE 100% INDEPENDENT NOT make optical illusion with CaptureAND NX-D ENDORSED OR SPONSORED BY NIKON CORPORATION OR ADOBE SYSTEMS INCORPORATED

September 2015

5


What animals would the team like to photograph in the wild? Print 22,708 Digital 7,184 The ABC combined print, digital and digital publication circulation for Jan-Dec 2014 is

29,892

A member of the Audited Bureau of Circulations

N-Photo Magazine, Future Publishing Quay House, The Ambury, Bath, UK, BA1 1UA Editorial mail@nphotomag.com +44 (0)1225 442244 Subscriptions and back issues (UK) 0844 848 2852 (overseas) +44 (0)1604 251045 Subscriptions nphoto@myfavouritemagazines.co.uk Or go to www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk/nphoto

Paul Grogan Editor

Miriam McDonald Operations Editor

Andrew Leung Art Editor

■ It wasn’t the right season for big cats on my trip to Botswana to photograph this issue’s Apprentice, but a leopard or cheetah kill would be near the top of my list.

■ Having panicked when faced with a wild monkey (though I did discover that they are scared away by flash), I think I’ll stick to fairly friendly animals. Otters would be fun.

■ Give me a Nikon in an underwater housing and some giant turtles and I’ll be happy. And if there’s a tropical beach to relax on afterwards, well, it’d be a shame to waste it!

paul.grogan@futurenet.com

miriam.mcdonald@futurenet.com

andrew.leung@futurenet.com

Paul Grogan Editor Andrew Leung Art Editor Miriam McDonald Operations Editor Matt Tuffin Staff Writer Angela Nicholson Head of Testing Ali Jennings Imaging Lab Manager Video production Pete Gray Producer Adam Lee Videographer Advertising Matt Bailey Senior Sales Executive matt.bailey@futurenet.com, 01225 687511 Claire Harris Account Manager Marketing & circulation Charlotte Lloyd-Williams Direct Marketing Executive Michelle Brock Trade Marketing Manager 0207 429 3683 Print & production Vivienne Calvert Production Controller Mark Constance Production Manager International & licensing Regina Erak International Director regina.erak@futurenet.com, +44 (0)1225 442244

Jason Parnell-Brookes Staff Writer

Ali Jennings Lab Manager

Angela Nicholson Head of Testing

■ Everyone picks exotic creatures, but there are fascinating animals all around us, even in cities. Anyone can photograph an urban fox, but getting a really good shot… there’s a challenge!

■ Bears have always appealed: people love them, and they have great expressions and ways of posing. Of course, I’d want a long lens for taking pictures. A very long lens.

■ It’s got to be a lion, hasn’t it? They’re such beautiful creatures, and simply seeing one would be amazing, let alone capturing it on camera. Getting one hunting would be perfect.

jason.parnell-brooks@futurenet.com

ali.jennings@futurenet.com

Management Nial Ferguson Content and Marketing Director Matthew Pierce Head of Content & Marketing: Photography, Creative & Design Chris George Group Editor-in-Chief Rodney Dive Group Art Director

angela.nicholson@futurenet.com

This issue’s special contributors…

Chief executive Zillah Byng-Maddick Non-executive chairman Peter Allen Chief financial officer Penny Ladkin-Brand Tel +44 (0)207 042 4000 (London) Tel +44 (0)1225 442 244 (Bath)

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. Overseas distribution by Seymour International.

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. © Future Publishing Limited 2015. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be used or reproduced without the written permission of the publisher.

Lou Coetzer

■ Lou gives this issue’s Apprentice an expert lesson in wildlife photography, out in beautiful Botswana. Page 8

Tom Welsh

■ One fabulous skyline wasn’t enough for Tom – discover how to make more of any stunning location. Page 60

James Paterson ■ Turn your zoo photos from snaps into impressive wildlife portraits, with some help from James. Page 69

Michael Freeman

■ Michael delves into the mysteries of composition this issue – which rules should you break? Page 90

Tim Page

■ The legendary war photographer talks about his time shooting on the front line during the Vietnam War. Page 108

Joe McNally

■ A genuine photography superstar, Joe treats us to the first instalment of his all-new column. Page 148

Our contributors Ben Andrews, Tracy Angus-Hammond, George Cairns, Andy Cottle, Olly Curtis, David Eales, Ryan Engstrom, Stan Ford, Andrew Fowler, Neil Godwin, Geoff Harris, Marcus Hawkins, Craig Jones, Simon Lees, Tom Mackie, Andy McGregor, Mike McNally, Marc Mol, Leon Neal, Graham Parker, Chris Rutter, Joby Sessions, David Tipling, Andy Walker, Chris Weston, Jesse Wild Special thanks to… Bath & North-East Somerset Council, The Hawk Conservancy Trust, Lou Coetzer and CNP Safaris, Chobe Safari Lodge

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September 2015

Future Publishing Limited (company number 2008885) is registered in England and Wales. Registered office: Registered office: Quay House, The Ambury, Bath, BA1 1UA. All information contained in this publication is for information only and is, as far as we are aware, correct at the time of going to press. Future cannot accept any responsibility for errors or inaccuracies in such information. You are advised to contact manufacturers and retailers directly with regard to the price and other details of products or services referred to in this publication. Apps and websites mentioned in this publication are not under our control. We are not responsible for their contents or any changes or updates to them. If you submit unsolicited material to us, you automatically grant Future a licence to publish your submission in whole or in part in all editions of the magazine, including licensed editions worldwide and in any physical or digital format throughout the world. Any material you submit is sent at your risk and, although every care is taken, neither Future nor its employees, agents or subcontractors shall be liable for loss or damage.

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).

www.digitalcameraworld.com


THE

In our most ambitious Apprentice shoot ever, we follow the photographic fortunes of reader Tracy Angus-Hammond as she heads to Botswana with multi-award-winning wildlife photographer and lifelong Nikon aficionado Lou Coetzer

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Wildlife masterclass

Name Lou Coetzer Cameras D4, D800 ■ A former sports and portrait photographer with over 40 years’ experience, Lou is now one of the world’s most respected wildlife photographers. His experience in shooting fast-moving action and his work as a portrait pro have informed his approach to wildlife photography: “I am,” he says “in a constant search for exquisitelylit, dynamic action images shot against clean backgrounds. Only when there isn’t any action will I start to look for the graphic image.” He is the founder and owner of CNP Safaris, which runs photography workshops in Botswana, Alaska and elsewhere (see page 20). For details, visit www.loucoetzer.co.za or www.cnpsafaris.com

www.digitalcameraworld.com

Name Tracy angus-Hammond Camera D3100 ■ Market researcher Tracy, from Johannesburg, South Africa, has been interested in photography for as long as she can remember. Her first photos were taken on an old 110 film camera, and she bought her first D-SLR – a Nikon D50 – with her second paycheque. She currently shoots on a Nikon D3100, and because her work as a market researcher takes her all over Africa, she has plenty of opportunity to put her photographic skills to the test, and to capture what she calls the ‘magic’ of her home continent. She’s especially interested in wildlife, and is hoping to learn how to take her photographs beyond the level of the standard tourist snapshot.

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eXPOsUre 1/1000 sec, f/11, IS0800 LeNs Nikon AF-S 600mm f/4G ED VR

OUR APPRENTICE sAys… For this tight portrait of a crocodile basking in the sun [above], I took Lou’s advice about setting a high ISO, and used it to get the depth of field I needed. I set an aperture of f/11 in aperture-priority mode to ensure there would be enough depth of field to get the crocodile as sharp as possible from front to back. I also dialed in a stop of negative exposure compensation, as otherwise the dark background would have been rendered as an average midtone, and the highlights in the croc would have started to blow out. At ISO800 this gave me a shutter speed of 1/1000 sec – not quite as fast as I’d have liked on Lou’s 600mm f/4, but I didn’t want to push the ISO any higher – and thanks to the gimbal heads mounted on Lou’s boat, it was just about fast enough [see Killer Kit #02 and #03, and page 124 for more on gimbal heads]. I love the way the strong side-lighting brings out the texture of the croc’s skin, and helps lift it off the darker background.

EXPERT INsIGHT THe NeeD fOr sPeeD Lou says… 90 per cent of wildlife shots fall down on shutter speed. You have to remember that a fast shutter speed isn’t just needed to freeze any camera shake, it’s also needed to freeze the movement of your subject. For longer lenses, such as Nikon’s 600mm f/4 [see Killer Kit #01] I try to use shutter speeds at least three times faster than the reciprocal of the focal length – so 1/1800 sec in the case of the 600mm, rather than the more usual 1/600 sec for static subjects.

abstract thought

“Once you’ve got a classic portrait in the bag, try cropping in tighter to photograph a more abstract detail,” suggests Lou. “This works particularly well with a subject like this crocodile, with its rich patterns and varied textures. It’s a portrait of sorts, and it makes a nice addition to a wider portfolio.”

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Wildlife masterclass

TeCHNiQUe assessmeNT ready for a walk on the wild side? Tracy tends not to play too much with her settings, so Lou made a few suggestions…

increase the isO

Lou says… Tracy doesn’t really use her D3100’s ISO setting, but with wildlife, where shutter speed is everything, I always advocate setting the highest ISO possible while still maintaining the quality of the image. This may sound a bit counter-intuitive, but it gives you the flexibility to set a smaller aperture.

Use exposure compensation

Don’t use Vr

“I rarely use VR,” says Lou, “in part because it only helps with hand movement, NOT subject movement. It also slows down autofocus a fraction, and with fast-moving wildlife – a flock of spoonbills flying straight at you, for example – this can mean the difference between nailing a sharp shot and getting nothing. I prefer to use my ISO setting to enable faster shutter speeds.” (See Technique Assessment.)

PRO’s KIllER KIT #01 NikON af-s 600mm f/4G eD Vr Lou says… This is arguably the ultimate wildlife lens for subjects that are distant, or small, or both, as it boasts superfast AF and is pin-sharp across the frame. At 600mm, though, shutter speed (and therefore) ISO become even more crucial: the slightest movement of the lens, whether this is from camera shake or, say, the vibration from a boat or 4WD, can result in blurred shots. Try holding a pair of binoculars perfectly still, and you’ll see what I mean!

www.digitalcameraworld.com

Lou says… Tracy shoots in aperture-priority mode, but she never uses exposure compensation. To protect highlights, and to preserve detail in whites, I tend to set -1EV, and sometimes as much as -2EV for darker subjects. Not only does this help prevent blown highlights, it has the added advantage of increasing the shutter speed.

Use the histogram view

Lou says… With high-contrast subjects in very bright light it’s worth checking your histogram every so often, to make sure you’re not losing detail in the highlights. This is especially important at the start and end of the day, when light levels can change quite quickly.

PRO’s KIT bAG

Nikon D4 n Nikon D800 n Nikon AF-S 400mm f/4 n Nikon AF-S 600mm f/4 (with camouflage coat) n Nikon 1.4x teleconverter n Nikon 1.7x teleconverter n Nikon 2.0x teleconverter n Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM n Sigma 1.4x teleconverter n Sigma 2.0x teleconverter

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eXPOsUre 1/1600 sec, f/10, ISO800 LeNs Nikon AF-S 600mm f/4G ED VR

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Wildlife masterclass

OUR APPRENTICE sAys… For this shot of an Egyptian goose [left], Lou suggested framing it to make the most of the reflection, and the lovely bronze colour of the foreground water. As with the shot of the crocodile, I set a small aperture – in this case f/10 – to get the bird sharp from its eye to its tail. This meant that the background wasn’t quite as blurred as I’d have liked. In an ideal world I’d have positioned it against a much cleaner background, but that’s not always an option when you’re floating in the middle of a crocodile-infested river!

PRO PORTfOlIO WiLD aT HearT Lou has amassed a portfolio of amazing wildlife images taken on the Chobe river in Botswana. Here are some of his favourites...

eyes front

“You hear a lot about focusing on the eyes when shooting wildlife,” says Lou, “and this is fine for static subjects, but for anything that’s moving it’s often challenging enough to get anything in focus, let alone the eyes. For this reason I suggest focusing on the front of the subject rather than the eye, then adjusting the aperture if you want the eye to be sharp too.”

flood season

During flood season on the Chobe, African fish eagles find it difficult to catch fish in the high waters, so will often take alternative prey like rodents, small mammals and reptiles, and even birds. Here, a fish eagle is approaching its nest after taking a juvenile black crake.

make your point

Continuous autofocus and high-speed continuous drive mode are a given when you’re photographing wildlife, but it’s also worth taking control of the AF point. Auto-select AF point might focus on the wrong thing at just the wrong moment, resulting in a missed shot. If in doubt, either select the central AF point and recompose, or, for off-centre subjects, select an AF point that sits over the edge you want to focus on.

feather flurry

Crocodiles also find it difficult to catch fish in the flood season, so the larger crocs will take mammals, while the younger crocodiles will sometimes catch birds instead. In this shot, a juvenile crocodile has caught a Cape turtle dove.

EXPERT INsIGHT keeP iT CLeaN Lou says… Background is another area where wildlife images often fall short. You wouldn’t take a portrait of someone with a rubbish dump in the background, and the same goes for wildlife subjects with leaves, twigs and other distractions in the background. Whenever possible you should position your subject – or more usually yourself – so that the background is as clean as possible, as this gives you more flexibility in terms of depth of field. At f/4 even a busy background will blur out, but if you want to set a smaller aperture to get your subject sharp from front to back – as with Tracy’s Hotshot here – the cleaner the background, the better.

www.digitalcameraworld.com

Bull elephant Bachelor Party

While making their way across the Chobe river, a group of elephants grazes on the bank. For this shot to work it was crucial that all the elephants were sharp, so I focused on the ground just below the first elephant and stopped down.

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THE

APPRENTICE

OUR APPRENTICE sAys… This shot [opposite] is another good example of needing to set a fairly small aperture to ensure that all of the elephants were sharp – in this case f/14. At ISO800 this gave me a shutter speed of just 1/250 sec, which was in danger of being perilously slow, but again Lou’s Wimberley gimbal heads came to the rescue. For this particular shot, Lou encouraged me to crop in tight, to completely eliminate any background and create a more graphic image. Because of the slow shutter speed, the image is not quite as sharp as I’d like it to be, but the fantastic late-evening light, and the way that the adults are interacting with the younger elephant, more than make up for this.

EXPERT INsIGHT HOLD fire Lou says… With a frame rate of five, seven or even 11 frames a second, the temptation is to fire away. I’ve had clients on my workshops who think that if they shoot 2000 frames a day, they’ll be sure to get something, when in all likelihood they’ll get bugger all! The key is to anticipate behaviour, and to shoot in short bursts – you don’t want to miss the action, but you don’t want to ‘spray and pray’, and then have to wade through 2000 images every night hoping that one of them will be a winner.

stay on track

Another must for wildlife is backbutton focusing, which enables you to autofocus with your thumb and release the shutter with your forefinger. This makes it easier to track moving subjects; you simply place your chosen AF point over your subject, hold your thumb down to focus on it, and then track it through the viewfinder until you’re ready to take the shot. In continuous AF mode, as long as your keep your thumb on the AF-ON button, your camera will continually adjust the focus, even if your subject is moving towards or away from you at speed.

Take sides

In Africa, soft, overcast light is the exception rather than the rule, so the direction of the sunlight, which can be quite intense even early in morning and late in the afternoon, is allimportant. Lou favours low front-lighting as it keeps shadows at bay, and can provide a subtle catchlight in subject’s eyes. Side-lighting can be used to reveal texture, but you need to be aware of shadows. Backlighting is an option, too, either to provide a rimlight, or to silhouette an animal with an instantly recognisable profile, like an elephant, against a sunset (see this issue’s cover shot).

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eXPOsUre 1/250 sec, f/14, ISO800 LeNs Nikon AF-S 600mm f/4G ED VR

Good behaviour

On safari, where wildlife is plentiful, nailing a straightforward portrait of the most common birds and animals isn’t too challenging, so once you’ve nailed a classic ‘record’ shot, the next step is to capture some element of an animal’s behaviour. This could be something as simple as an elephant taking a bath [left], or something more complex, such as social interaction, as in Hot Shot #03. Anything that helps to tell a story will add interest, and take your shot to the next level.

www.digitalcameraworld.com

PRO’s KIllER KIT #02 GimBaL HeaD Lou says… This bit of kit goes hand in hand with Killer Kit #03, but whether you’re shooting from a boat, a 4WD or a tripod, a gimbal head is essential when you’re using a long – and heavy – telephoto lens. They take all of the strain while still allowing freedom of movement. They’re not cheap, and they take some getting used to, but if you shoot a lot of wildlife they’re worth every penny [see page 124 for our roundup of five of the best gimbal heads].

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eXPOsUre 1/6000 sec, f/11, ISO800 LeNs Nikon AF-S 600mm f/4G ED VR

EXPERT INsIGHT PULL iT Off Lou says… Only break the rules if it’s going to take your image to another level. Techniques like motion blur and abstract composition are all well and good, but more often than not they’re used to mask a lack of technical ability. If you’ve got a pin-sharp shot of your subject that you’re 100 per cent happy with, then by all means try something more adventurous, but don’t just do it because you’re not sure how to get a sharp shot in the first place!

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fill the frame

With birds in flight, the key is to fill the frame, and more often than not this means using a long lens (see page 50 for more on photographing birds in flight). Having said that, with fast-moving birds it’s best to start tracking them when they’re small in the frame, and to start shooting only when they start to fill it. If you don’t, with a long telephoto lens you may not even be able to find the bird in the viewfinder, let alone frame it!

www.digitalcameraworld.com


Wildlife masterclass

OUR APPRENTICE sAys… This image of an African darter drying its wings in the early morning sun was taken on our final day on the Chobe, and by then I had my exposure settings pretty nailed! The dark background, and even darker plumage, meant that I had to dial in exposure compensation of -1.67 to stop both the water and the feathers from looking washed out. An aperture of f/11 ensured that the tips of both wings were sharp, while still keeping the background nicely blurred out and – to Lou’s lasting satisfaction – perfectly clean. It’s the gorgeous golden light on the bird’s feathers that make it, though – that and the graceful curves of its neck, tail and wings.

PRO’s KIllER KIT #03 CUsTOm-BUiLT PHOTO BOaT! One of the keys to the high hit-rate on Lou’s workshops is the photography boat that he has had designed to his own specifications. Instead of the usual array of seats down both sides, it boasts just a single row running down the middle. Each seat can be swivelled a full 360 degrees, so no matter which way the boat is pointing, you can still shoot in any direction. Attached to each is a fully-adjustable pneumatic camera support, with a gimbal head, and attached to each of these is a 600mm f/4 lens. Add in a local guide who knows the river like the back of his hand, and can put you exactly where you need to be, and you have all the ingredients for a successful shoot.

Character study

When shooting more abstract images of animals, focus on something that captures an aspect of their character, such as the prehistoric scales of the croc on page 10, or the extended wings of this African darter. Darters are known for the way they spread out their wings to dry, so by cropping in tight here, and going for a slightly wider aspect ratio than the standard 3:2, Tracy has made the behaviour the subject of the image.

www.digitalcameraworld.com

September 2015

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THE

APPRENTICE

Up close, but not too personal

As Tracy discovered, one of the big advantages of shooting from a dedicated photo boat is that it enables you to get extremely close to the wildlife on the shore without disturbing it – or getting too close!

THE fINAl AssEssmENT… ■ After three days on the river it was time for Lou and Tracy to sit down and go through all of her shots, and pick out the best using Lou’s rating system, which goes from one star (sharp, clean background, technically sound) to five stars (a surefire award-winner). “A robust rating system is the only way you can hope to be objective about your own images,” advises Lou.

OUR APPRENTICE sAys… Initially I struggled with the long lenses, and I shot everything that moved, which meant I had thousands of shots to trawl through, but with Lou’s expert guidance, I started to get my eye in, and soon became a bit more discerning. Lou’s advice on focusing modes, and where to focus, made a big difference to my hit rate, but for me the biggest lesson was the importance of ISO, and using it to enable smaller apertures when more depth of field is called for. In the past I’d have just set my lens’s widest aperture to blur out the background as much as possible, but when you’re shooting at close range with a 600mm lens, you have to be much more discriminating if you want your subject to be sharp from front to back.

OUR PRO’s vERdICT Tracy was a great Apprentice. She was enthusiastic, and not scared to throw the kitchen sink at her photography, in a way that went far beyond her abilities when she started. In just three days on the Chobe river her wildlife photography went into orbit, as her stunning Shot of the Day shows. For me the most difficult wildlife images to nail are those where you’re working with a super-telephoto lens – in this case a 600mm f/4 VR with 1.4x converter – and photographing a small subject at close range fairly full in the frame. In the case of Tracy’s African jacana image, the depth of field was just centimetres, and the glossy white against the dark background had all the potential to blow out. These energetic birds are not easy to keep in the viewfinder either, and getting a clean background requires a lot off discipline. Tracy’s image ticks all the boxes: it includes some action, the bird is pin-sharp from front to back and the background is nicely blurred. All in all, a stunning wildlife image!

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September 2015

eXPOsUre 1/5000 sec, f/8, ISO800 LeNs Nikon AF-S 600mm f/4G ED VR

NEXT mONTH DisHiNG UP! We work up an appetite shooting scrumptious shots of seasonal food – it’ll give you photographic food for thought

IssUE 51 ON sAlE

24 sEPTEmbER 2015 www.digitalcameraworld.com


Wildlife masterclass

WIN yOUR OWN PHOTO

sAfARI IN AfRICA! see OVerLeaf fOr DeTaiLs

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, Quay House, The Ambury, Bath, BA1 1UA, UK

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September 2015

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THE

APPRENTICE

WIN! A weeklong photo sAfAri in BotswAnA worth $4000! In association with CNP Safaris and Chobe Safari Lodge, we’re giving one lucky reader the chance to go on an all-expenses-paid seven-day photography safari in Chobe National Park in Botswana Owned and run by this issue’s Apprentice pro, Lou Coetzer, CNP Safaris runs small-group photography safaris at some of the best wildlife photography locations in Africa, and also Alaska. What makes Chobe National Park so special, and the reason Lou rates it as THE best location in the world for wildlife photography, is that the majestic Chobe river runs right through the heart of the park, offering unrivalled access to its abundant wildlife. Add in CNP Safaris’ expert tuition, and a custom-built photography boat complete with 600mm f/4 lenses mounted on every 360-degree photography chair, and you have a truly unique opportunity to – in Lou’s words – take your wildlife photography “into orbit.” But that’s not all. When you’re not out on the river, you’ll be staying at Chobe Safari Lodge, a luxury, river-front lodge just five minutes’ drive from Kasane airport. Full board accommodation and flights to Kasane from Johannesburg International Airport in South Africa are included. For more information on CNP Safaris’ wildlife photography tours, visit www.cnpsafaris.za, and for a preview of the luxury lodgings on offer at Chobe Safari Lodge, visit www.chobesafarilodge.com. To be in with a chance of winning, simply follow the link below and answer the following question: in which country is Chobe National Park? A: South Africa B: Botswana C: Kenya TERMS & CONDITIONS: Answers must be received by the 31 January 2016. The winner will be selected at random from all correct entries received by this date, and will be announced at The Photography Show 2016 (www.photographyshow.com) and informed in writing. International flights to South Africa not included. For full terms and conditions, please visit www.futuretcs.com.

ENTER ONLINE AT www.futurecomps.co.uk/africasafari 20

September 2015

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This issue we’re showcasing the work of some of our favourite pros


01 Sunflowers at Sunset Tom Mackie, UK

This was the last shot of my Provence workshop this year. I was showing my group how to use ND grad filters to balance the exposure to create a dramatic effect, and how to obtain the sharpest image by making a focus stack of five images shot at the optimal f-stop of f/8. I also shot a single image at f/16 to compare with the focus-stacked image – the results can been seen on my blog.

www.tommackie.com Nikon D810, Nikon AF-S 24–70mm f/2.8G ED, 0.3 sec, f/8, ISO100


LIGHTBOX

Inspirational images

02 Ele’s From Heaven Marc Mol, Switzerland

A herd of elephants casts shadows across the dry Luangwa River floodplain. This image won the Society of International Nature and Wildlife Photographers ‘Discovering Wildlife’ competition – see www.sinwp.com.

www.500px.com/africaddict Nikon D3s, Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II, 1/6400 sec, f/4, ISO1600

03 Take Off Craig Jones, UK

Thousands of knots, dunlins and other wader birds take off from mudflats on the Norfolk coast during the spring tide. This is a truly amazing event to witness and capture.

www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk Nikon D4, Nikon AF-S 600mm f/4G ED VR, 1/250 sec, f/5.6, ISO2000, Nikon TC-14E III teleconverter

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Inspirational images

LIGHTBOX

04 Frog’s Eye View David Tipling, UK

Once I had found a spring-fed pond close to my home here in North Norfolk I simply had to wait for the frogs to arrive. Once in the water with them, I knelt still and placed the camera’s underwater housing next to a clump of spawn and waited for a frog to come into shot.

www.davidtipling.com Nikon D810, Nikon AF-S 10.5mm f/2.8G ED Fisheye, 1/250 sec, f/13, ISO500, Aquatech underwater housing

05 Stampede Chris Weston, UK

On an assignment to photograph the Great Migration I thought ‘I wonder what it’s like to stand in front of a herd of charging wildebeest?’ Buried in an underground pit, I captured the image I wanted, along with this shot of a herd of impala caught up in the action.

www.chrisweston.photography Nikon D3, Nikon AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED, 1/64000 sec, f/8, ISO400

www.digitalcameraworld.com

September 2015

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LIGHTBOX

Inspirational images

06 Color Wheel Ryan Engstrom, USA

I shot this on the Narrows Hike, which is the most popular hike in Utah’s Zion National Park, creating a focus stack of four images. Being one of the first ones on the trail in the morning affords you the best possible light to really capture the magic of this area, and usually means you have the place mostly to yourself – you just have to be prepared to get wet!

www.ryanengstromphoto.com Nikon D810, NIkon AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, 1/40 sec, f/11, ISO1600

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ON ASSIGNMENT

Wimbledon Championships

ON ASSIGNMENT Your window onto the working life of a professional photographer

Game, set and match

Press photographer Leon Neal recalls how his best shot from this year’s Wimbledon was off-court… As a news photographer for Agence France-Presse, I cover all sorts of subjects. This year it was my turn to cover Wimbledon. I’ve covered the event a few times, but I usually have a few years in between visits, so it always comes as a bit of a shock when I begin to appreciate the mountain of work ahead. Wimbledon is unique in that the organisers are very strict on the branding and advertising that can be displayed. This makes life so much easier when it comes to getting ‘clean,’ logo-free shots. Seating is unreserved for the press photographers until the semi-finals, and as AFP is one of the largest agencies in the world, we get a strong position which really does make life easier. However, the best seat is wherever the action happens. Timing is critical when shooting any sport. One of the shots that all photographers are trying to get is the classic ‘fried egg’, with the yellow ball squashed flat on the racquet. It takes a few days to get your eye and shutter finger in sync, but once it’s there, work becomes easier. It pays to shoot on single shot rather than burst, as to get the precise moment of contact, blasting off six frames isn’t going

to guarantee getting anything. It certainly takes patience as you never know when the key moment of the match will come.

a policeman’s lot…

This year’s tournament provided some incredible moments, but my favourite image was taken off-court on the final day. A police

to find that he’d had a call from his Mum, telling him he was “all over the Internet” and he wanted to get a copy! The pictures did really well, becoming stories in themselves on news websites. Ironically, I was virtually ‘naked’ when I took this shot, with just a D4s body and 70-200mm f/2.8 lens on me. For the rest of the tournament, I’d carried around a huge amount of kit, including three bodies, a 400mm f/2.8, the new 500mm f/4, and various primes and effects lenses! I learned several lessons at this year’s Wimbledon. First, even if matches are set to start later in the day, it pays to get on site early, as there are always interesting features to be found. Second, as I mentioned before, shooting on single shot at the start of the week helps to get your eye in. Finally, rest and eat whenever you can. It can be a brutal fortnight.

One of the shots that all photographers are trying to get is the classic ‘fried egg’, with the yellow ball squashed flat on the racquet

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officer was on duty in front of the main screen at ‘Henman Hill’ when he became caught up in watching the developing Men’s Singles Final. Within moments, he was absorbed in the match, wincing, frowning and covering his mouth in shock as Federer and Djokovic fought it out. When I first started taking the pictures, he glanced towards me briefly and I assumed that he would stop, but he carried on watching. After getting the shots and filing them to the editors, I returned to the office to find the officer was waiting for me. Fearing the worst, I prepared to justify my actions only

September 2015

You can see more of Leon’s work at www.pixelrights.com/members/ Leon Neal. Pixelrights provides easy-to-use online portfolios with unrivalled image protection. To get three months free go to www. pixelrights.com/nphoto

01 This policeman became a news story in his own right! 02 The perfect fried egg shot 03 Wimbledon is great for capturing logo-free shots 04 Don’t use burst mode – single shot enables you to time things much more precisely


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Special feature

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50 Photo Quotes to Live By

September 2015

www.digitalcameraworld.com


50 Photo Quotes to Live By

Image: Joe McNally

We can all use some advice from the masters of the art…

www.digitalcameraworld.com

What’s the best bit of photographic advice you’ve ever been given? You might change your mind after reading the next 10 pages, as we’ve culled quotes from some of photography’s greatest names. Whether it’s framing and composition or the way you approach your tools and your subjects, photographers from Henri Cartier-Bresson and Ansel Adams to modern greats like Joe McNally and Mario Testino all have advice to pass on. The quotes don’t all agree with each other – if you know photographers, that won’t surprise you a bit. And we’re not suggesting you have to live by all 50 quotes all at once, all at the same time. However, take any one of them and let it influence your photography for a while; you’ll be amazed what you might learn and what pictures you might take as a result. And don’t worry, despite the gorgeous photos and the many words of wisdom, there’s nothing akin to a dreadful ‘motivational poster’ among them!

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Special feature

50 Photo Quotes to Live By

#01

“Twelve significanT phoTographs in any one year is a good crop” ansel adams

Image: Ansel Adams / Corbis

#06

“the more sPecific you are, the more general it’ll be” diane arBus

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How can I apply tHIs?

#02

We weren’t short of choice when it came to Ansel Adams quotes. The world’s most famous landscape photographer offered a host of insights into the craft of photography during his career, with such gems such as “There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept” bringing a breath of fresh air to the sometimes stuffy world of fine-art photography. But the classic one-liner we’ve chosen is one of his most uplifting. Yes, a quote that essentially tells you to lower your expectations can be motivating. If a photographer at the top of his game – in fact, writing the rule book as he went – would have been happy to take just one significant photo each month, then that bodes well for those of us who are still learning. It’s particularly relevant in the digital age, where firing without thinking, only to end up with terabytes of pictures that you’ll never get around to processing, is commonplace. One trick to becoming less trigger-happy is to use a smaller capacity memory card than you normally would, or to leave just 20 or 30 slots spare on your existing one. It’s not an option that will suit every type of photography; a sports photographer can burn through that number of frames in a few seconds. But for landscape photography, it’s an approach that will encourage you to consider each scene more closely.

“PhotograPhy for me is not looking, it’s feeling. if you can’t feel What you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything When they look at your Pictures”

How can I apply tHIs? Arbus was paraphrasing her teacher, Lisette Model, when she made this statement. “You really have to face that thing,” she continued. “And there are certain evasions, certain nicenesses that I think you have to get out of.” You can read this as: ‘Rather than try to photograph everything, isolate a specific subject in a wider scene, and show the reality of it.’ Don’t just photograph beautiful things.

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don mccullin

How can I apply tHIs? It’s impossible not to be stirred by war photographer McCullin’s work, but his remark, made in a 2002 BBC Radio 3 interview, is relevant to all types of photography. Build in some breathing space between taking a picture and sharing it. If you feel as strongly about it a few weeks after taking it, then that’s the time to share it.

#03

“it takes a lot of imagination to be a good PhotograPher. you need less imagination to be a Painter because you can invent things, but in PhotograPhy everything is so ordinary; it takes a lot of looking before you learn to see the extraordinary” david Bailey

How can I apply tHIs? You don’t have to stay glued to the viewfinder to develop your photographic eye. Try to reverse-engineer images that fire your imagination. How have they been lit? Why has the photographer decided to crop the image? What processing has been done? Doing this will help to fill your creative bag of tricks.

#04

“you can’t teach PeoPle PhotograPhy, they’ve got to learn hoW to do it the best Way Possible for them. they can learn from looking at Pictures taken by Well-knoWn PeoPle, but they don’t really get intimate With the medium until they’ve made a feW bad shots!” cecil BeaTon

How can I apply tHIs? While we’d disagree with the notion that you can’t teach people photography, we do agree that the best way to understand it is to get a few bad shots under your belt. As Cartier-Bresson (opposite) observed: “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” In fact, in the digital age you can probably add a zero to that number!

#07

“i think if i ever get satisfied, i’ll have to stoP. it’s the frustration that drives you” eve arnold

How can I apply tHIs? American photojournalist Arnold was as comfortable recording the lives of migrant workers as she was capturing images of Marilyn Monroe, but clearly, she didn’t let herself get too comfortable. Don’t let someone else be your biggest critic – fill that role yourself. Not to the point where you start not enjoying photography, but enough so that you’re always thinking about how you could improve things.

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50 Photo Quotes to Live By

Image: Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum

How can I apply tHIs? Like Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier-Bresson provides a rich source of insight from which to mine inspiration. We think this quote summarises his attitude perfectly. Simply put, make the most of every opportunity. Keep moving and trying different viewpoints, different camera orientations and compositions. Would it be better to take a step forwards or backwards? Check all four corners of the frame and look beyond the subject to make sure the background is working in harmony with the rest of the image. Unlike in Cartier-Bresson’s day, you can go some way to ‘filling holes’ by manipulating images in Photoshop. If you’re that way inclined, you can remove elements or drop new ones in. You can crop an image, expand it and fill in the gaps, move features and create scenes that mirror the image that’s in your mind. But when you’re shooting action, there’s no substitute for spontaneity and timing. If you notice an event unfolding then you need to work fast. Have your camera set up to take advantage of fleeting moments (try aperturepriority mode, matrix metering, ISO800 and the largest aperture available on your lens), and take LOTS of pictures. Purists will argue that you should be selective with the shutter button, but the fact is, the more you shoot, the more you increase your chances of capturing an image worth saving.

#05 “during the Work, you have to be sure that you haven’t left any holes, that you’ve caPtured everything, because afterWards it Will be too late” henri carTier-Bresson

#08

“it’s one thing to make a Picture of What a Person looks like, it’s another thing to make a Portrait of Who they are” paul caponigro

www.digitalcameraworld.com

How can I apply tHIs? Truth be told, most portraits are really about the photographer and how they see the subject. Getting the subject to relax is half the battle/fun. It really does pay to build a rapport with the person you’re photographing. Make sure your camera is set to its fastest drive mode: it may only take a subtle change in expression for a person’s personality to show, and you want to blast through frames when it happens.

How can I apply tHIs?

#09

“the camera is a remarkable instrument. saturate yourself With your subject and the camera Will all but take you by the hand” margareT Bourke-whiTe

If you’re finding your camera, remarkable instrument though it is, is slowing you down, then try working either in program or manual mode. Both are good options when you want to concentrate on the subject. The former means you can rely on the camera to get you a usable shot, while the latter is perfect when the lighting is constant, as you can preset the exposure and focus all your attention on the subject.

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Special feature

50 Photo Quotes to Live By

#11

“one should really use the camera as though tomorroW you’d be stricken blind”

#10 “all the technique in the World doesn’t comPensate for the inability to notice”

doroThea lange

How can I apply tHIs? Take more photos that matter – and that invariably means more pictures of your family. Unless you’re a photojournalist, these will be the images you remember and treasure the most. Don’t simply take your camera on a weekend trip, keep it ready for action all the time.

ellioTT erwiTT

#12

Image: Elliott Erwitt / Magnum

“the key is to PhotograPh your obsessions, Whether that’s old PeoPle’s hands or skyscraPers. think of a blank canvas, because that’s What you’ve got, and then think about What you Want to see. not anyone else” david lachapelle

How can I apply tHIs? How can I apply tHIs? Taken from Master Photographers – The World’s Great Photographers on their Art and Technique, this observation from the king of candid photography can be applied across the board, whether you’re shooting landscapes, family portraits, sports or street photography. It’s reassuring for

#16

“Which of my PhotograPhs is my favourite? the one i’m going to take tomorroW” imogen cunningham

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beginners: it’s not mastery of bokeh, flash or the digital darkroom process that counts, it’s how observant you are when you have a camera in your hand. You will need some technical knowledge; an ability to notice alone won’t bag you the Deutsche Börse prize. You need to be able to ’see’ like a photographer as well. Keeping one

How can I apply tHIs? Cunningham was a founding member of Group f/64, along with Ansel Adams and Edward Weston. She offered this insight to James Danziger in his book, Interviews with Master Photographers. The message here is ‘never be satisfied’. Knowing that your best photograph has yet to be made can be incredibly motivating, whether you’re stumbling through your first shots or are an experienced photographer.

September 2015

eye on where shadows fall across a scene; understanding how the choice of focal length affects the relationship between features in the foreground and those in the background; having a feel for how the tones will translate to black and white; these aspects and others like them will enable you to make rapid judgement calls.

#17

“the secret of PhotograPhy is, the camera takes on the character and Personality of the handler” walker evans

LaChapelle’s advice, served up in Image Makers, Image Takers by AnneCeline Jaeger, reflects his uncompromising style. If you’re passionate about a subject, you’ll devote more time to photographing it and end up with more satisfying images.

How can I apply tHIs? Practice. Limit yourself to a single lens for a period of time so that you can become intimately familiar with its angle of view; this will enable you to start framing a shot and know where to stand before you even bring the camera up to your eye. Read the manual, too. Once the mechanical side of taking pictures becomes instinctive, then you can devote all your energy to capturing the moment.

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50 Photo Quotes to Live By

#13 How can I apply tHIs?

“chance is alWays there. We all use it. the difference is a Poor PhotograPher meets chance one out of a hundred times and a good PhotograPher meets chance all the time” Brassaï

Put yourself out there. Brassaï walked Parisian streets by night to capture a view of the French capital that few had seen. He made his own luck by becoming familiar with the city in which he lived. Travelling with your camera and finding inspiration in the unfamiliar has lots to recommend it, but Brassaï’s work proves what can be achieved if you keep it local and peel back the layers. If street photography makes you tick, then find a busy street corner with potential and return to it every day.

#14 How can I apply tHIs?

Barbaralee Diamonstein’s book, Visions and Images: American Photographers on Photography, offers this gem from Kertesz. He had the ability to turn the seemingly mundane into deeply satisfying studies in composition, and his quote offers a comparable degree of clarity when it comes to his philosophy on photography. The lesson here is not to get too distracted by technicalities and miss the message, and not to worry too much andre kerTesz about what camera or lens is best.

“it isn’t the alPhabet that’s imPortant. the imPortant thing is What you are Writing, What you are exPressing. the same thing goes for PhotograPhy”

#15

How can I apply tHIs?

“if your phoTographs aren’T good enough, you’re noT close enough”

Image: Robert Capa / Magnum

roBerT capa

#18

“if a day goes by Without my doing something related to PhotograPhy, it’s as though i’ve neglected something essential to my existence” richard avedon

www.digitalcameraworld.com

How can I apply tHIs? Enjoy your photography and set aside time each day to keep yourself topped up. Follow photographers you admire on Facebook and Twitter, join Flickr groups that fit with your interests, sketch out ideas for photos you want to shoot at the weekend, buy a book by a legend of photography… anything that helps to feed your hunger when you don’t have the opportunity to get out and take pictures.

This classic quote from the legendary war photographer and co-founder of Magnum Photos is arguably the most repeated piece of photography advice there is. Getting closer brings a number of benefits. First, there’s the frame-filling aspect. Second, there’s the impact that can be achieved from being close to the action. This can make a difference to all walks of photography; if you’re too far away when photographing a portrait, then it becomes harder to build a rapport. Street photography, taken with a wide lens at close quarters, is perhaps the best example of a situation where you can go close and put a viewer in the thick of it. Cropping when you edit your pictures is an option. In some cases, such as wildlife photography, it may be your only one if you were short on focal length when you took the shot. You will lose out on image size and resolution, but cropping on a computer is a great way for sharpening your eye for a picture in-camera.

How can I apply tHIs?

#19

“it’s more imPortant to click With PeoPle than to click the shutter” alfred eisensTaedT

Being able to create relationships with other people will bring picture-taking opportunities your way. It’s an essential trait if you’re a wedding or portrait photographer, but a simple smile can make a difference if you’re trying out travel or street photography. Landscape and wildlife photographers can benefit from local knowledge of a location too, so a friendly approach will go a long way.

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Special feature

50 Photo Quotes to Live By

#20 How can I apply tHIs?

“if i kneW What the Picture Was going to be like, i Wouldn’t make it. it Was almost like it Was made already... the challenge is more about trying to make What you can’t think of” cindy sherman

Cindy Sherman’s self-portraits exhibit an endless supply of invention, and that’s the message here: keep it fresh. While researching a subject can give you an edge, it can also leave it dulled. Leave some room for spontaneity. While you can rely on Google Street View to put you in the prime spot for a city view, get the ‘classic’ postcard shot in the bag and then look for alternatives. Switch to a lens you wouldn’t typically use in a situation, such as a super-telephoto for landscapes.

#21 How can I apply tHIs?

“my favourite Words are Possibilities, oPPortunities and curiosity. i think if you are curious, you create oPPortunities, and then if you oPen the doors, you create Possibilities” mario TesTino

Photographers are a curious bunch – in the sense that we want to know more about the world, not that we’re a little odd! But we can always move it up a gear. Leaving your comfort zone is one way to do this. The classic ‘50 strangers’ project, where you have to approach 50 people in the street and ask to take their portrait, is one that certainly requires curiosity and nerve. Flower photography more your thing? Then knock on someone’s door and ask if you can take pictures of their garden.

Image: Bill Brandt / Getty

How can I apply tHIs?

#22 “no amount of toying With shades of Print or With Printing PaPers Will transform a commonPlace PhotograPh into anything other than a commonPlace PhotograPh” Bill BrandT

#26

“you are resPonsible for every Part of your image, even the Parts you’re not interested in” Jay maisel

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How can I apply tHIs? You’re in charge of everything within that rectangle you see through the viewfinder. You chose to put those elements in the frame and exclude others, so people looking at your picture will quite rightly judge the picture as a whole. Have you left any distractions in? Is the crop tight enough? Is the focal point of your picture clear? Think about the background before you consider the foreground.

September 2015

#27

“one doesn’t stoP seeing. one doesn’t stoP framing. it doesn’t turn off and turn on. it’s on all the time” annie leiBoviTz

Substitute ‘shades of print or with printing papers’ with ‘Photoshop’, and Brandt’s quote is likely to put a wry smile on your face. After all, how many over-processed photos of dull subjects have you seen when you’ve been browsing online galleries? Overcooked HDR? Dodgy dodging and burning? Cropped-to-square-and-retrofiltered to death? It’s easy to see Photoshop and RAW as a safety net, a way of rescuing so-so photographs. Spending time playing with an image-editor’s box of tricks and following tutorials can certainly unlock new creative ideas, and many photographers treat the original photo as just the start of the process. And quite right too if you have an end goal in mind. But it’s worth being ruthless at the start of the process when you edit your pictures. Cut your catalogue down to the prime shots before you start tinkering with Curves and white balance. Work on the crop before you whip out the Clone Stamp, as this will help to define a picture, and allow you to judge whether it’s really worth working up or not.

How can I apply tHIs? Never switch off. Of course, the classic advice is to always carry your camera with you, and these days, a smartphone enables you to grab a shot wherever you are. Leibovitz’s comment is relevant to all photographers; once you’re bitten by the bug, it’s hard not to see the world through a 3x2 frame. The more you ‘get your eye in’ when you don’t have your camera to hand, the more instinctive you’ll be when you do.

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50 Photo Quotes to Live By

#23

How can I apply tHIs?

“i didn’T wriTe The rules — why should i follow Them?”

Image: W. Eugene Smith / Magnum

w. eugene smiTh

#24 How can I apply tHIs?

“i Work using the brian eno school of thinking: limit your tools, focus on one thing and just make it Work… you become very inventive With the restrictions you give yourself” anTon corBiJn

#28

“taking PhotograPhs is such an instantaneous act. the recognition and acting on the recognition… is close to instantaneous” Joel meyerowiTz

www.digitalcameraworld.com

The celebrated celebrity-photographerturned-film-director highlights a classic technique to cut through creative block. Digital photography offers an essentially limitless approach to making pictures, but too many options can leave you dithering. To balance this out, try building a few constraints into your workflow. Take on a project that sees you only using a 50mm lens, for example, or only allow yourself to shoot one photo a day, or only work in black and white. It will soon pay dividends.

How can I apply tHIs? React quickly. It’s very easy to put off a photograph and promise to return later, or to be indecisive when a ‘decisive moment’ presents itself. But in photography, ‘the one that got away’ is considerably more frustrating than it is in the world of fishing. It’s another recommendation for always carrying a camera with you and having it set to a default ‘grab shot’ set-up, which you can adjust quickly when needed.

Few photographers have had the ability to construct a photo essay without compromises like W. Eugene Smith, so it’s unsurprising to hear him responding in a forthright fashion when questioned about breaking the basic rule of candid photography (namely ‘don’t stage a picture’) during an interview at a meeting of the American Society of Media Photographers in 1956. As Ansel Adams said, “There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.” That hasn’t stopped a web of ‘rules’ seeping into photography instruction. The Rule of Thirds is perhaps the most familiar, but there are recommendations for the best lens to use in a given situation, how much space to leave in the frame for a subject… we could go on. Of course, rules are meant to be broken. So compile a list of the rules that you’ve grown accustomed to conforming to and then shoot with a view to purposely breaking them.

#25 How can I apply tHIs?

“of course, there Will alWays be those Who look only at technique, Who ask “hoW,” While others of a more curious nature Will ask “Why.” Personally, i have alWays Preferred insPiration to information” man ray

It’s a deceptively simple idea, to ask ‘why’ a photographer has chosen a particular technique, rather than how they achieved it, and the answer doesn’t always come easily. It’s also a useful exercise to do before you press the shutter release to record your own images (if you have the time) and an essential question to ask when you’re processing your shots. With so many effects available in image-editing software, it’s useful to pause and get some perspective on any edits you’re making.

How can I apply tHIs?

#29

“if you don’t have anything to say, your PhotograPhs are not going to say much” gordon parks

How many times have you caught yourself clicking through online photo galleries without really taking any of the images in? It’s surprising how quickly you can become numb to images because they’re repeating what other photographers have ‘said’ before. Here’s a challenge: write down a list of things you love and another of things that make you angry, then capture images that illustrate each of them.

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50 Photo Quotes to Live By

Image: Joe McNally

Special feature

#30 “i can’t tell you hoW many Pictures i’ve missed, ignored, tramPled, or otherWise lost just ’cause i’ve been so hell-bent on getting the shot i think i Want” Joe mcnally

#37

“PhotograPhing a cake can be art” irving penn

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How can I apply tHIs? Penn dropped this pearl at the opening of his studio in 1953. If you’re ever struggling for a subject to shoot, take heart from the fact that in between shooting covers for Vogue, one of America’s most in-demand celebrity portrait photographers managed to make still-life art from cigarette butts. Why not set yourself a project where you have to find ways of photographing the contents of your fridge, toolbox or shed?

September 2015

How can I apply tHIs?

#31

We’re probably all guilty of doing this at some point. On the one hand, you don’t want to get distracted: you’ve put the research in, planned your approach and prepared the equipment you’ll need to make a shot, and you don’t want to waste the opportunity. On the other, some of the chance encounters you’ve had have resulted in some of your most rewarding experiences. The trick is to avoid taking too many in-camera duplicates. Once you’ve got the shot that your gut’s telling you is the right one in the bag, don’t simply take slight variations on the theme. Take several steps backwards or forwards and make a shot from there. Repeat the process. Change to a more extreme focal length. Change the orientation of the camera. Take your eye away from the viewfinder and give yourself a few moments to look around and see what other subjects in the area might make for a strong shot. One classic photography challenge to help develop your eye for a picture opportunity is to turn 180 degrees after taking any photograph, and make an image from what you see there. Another idea is to go on a photo walk: set your phone’s timer to go off every ten minutes, then stop and create a picture at the spot at which you find yourself when it goes off. This will challenge you to spot opportunities anywhere.

“i go straight in very close to PeoPle, and i do that because it’s the only Way you can get the Picture. you go right uP to them. even noW, i don’t find it easy. i don’t announce it. i Pretend to be focusing elseWhere. if you take someone’s PhotograPh it is very difficult not to look at them just after. but it’s the one thing that gives the game aWay. i don’t try and hide What i’m doing – that Would be folly”

#38

“to consult the rules of comPosition before making a Picture is a little like consulting the laW of gravitation before going for a Walk” edward wesTon

marTin parr

How can I apply tHIs? Don’t fit a telephoto lens onto your camera and skulk around in the shadows like a sniper. That’s a sure-fire way to attract unwanted attention. No, if you’re serious about street photography or you want to add a reportage flavour to your shots, then getting in close with a wide-angle or standard lens is the answer. The trick is to get your camera settings prepped beforehand so you can be in and out quickly, and that includes pre-focusing the lens at three to four metres and switching it to manual focus to lock the distance in. Remove your camera strap too; nothing screams ‘look at me!’ like a blackand-yellow band flapping.

How can I apply tHIs? Don’t stick to the rules of composition; frame each subject according to what feels right. For instance, if you’re a landscape photographer it can be tempting to use the Rule of Thirds as a guide. Use this formula for every shot, though, and your portfolio will start to feel repetitive. Try experimenting with different crops and aspect ratios (see page 90 for more on composition).

www.digitalcameraworld.com


50 Photo Quotes to Live By

#32

“The mosT imporTanT lens you have is your legs” ernsT haas

How can I apply tHIs?

#33

While not to be taken too literally, Haas (one of the first photographers to embrace the creative potential of colour photography) makes a good point. Explore all the angles before you set your tripod up. Be prepared to walk to find a more interesting aspect and get down on your knees or lie prone on the ground to find a more intriguing view. Unless you’re shooting a wedding or a formal portrait, photography is not the time to wear your best clothes! Travel light, perhaps with one camera and one lens slung over your shoulder, as you’ll be more inclined to walk further. Consider switching to a prime lens, too. While a zoom lens offers flexibility and convenience, it can make you lazy, allowing you to stand in one spot and simply create a tighter or looser crop of the same viewpoint. Switching to a fixed-focal length lens and using your feet to zoom will force you to find a better view – and shoot a better image.

“there’s a time When PeoPle say your Work is revolutionary, but you have to keeP being revolutionary. i can’t keeP shooting PoP stars all my life. you have to keeP changing, keeP Pushing yourself, looking for the neW, the unusual” rankin

How can I apply tHIs? It’s probably fair to say that not all of us want to churn things up like Rankin, but there’s a lot to be said for keeping things fresh by trying something new. After all, it’s easy to fall into a photographic rut. Try a different photographic genre; for instance, if landscapes are your thing, switch to street portraits instead. You can return to your comfort zone later, but when you do you’ll have new skills.

#34

#35

“i don’t usually give out advice or reciPes, but you must let the Person looking at the PhotograPh go some of the Way to finishing it. you should offer them a seed that Will groW and oPen uP their minds”

“i think a PhotograPh, of Whatever it might be – a landscaPe, a Person – requires Personal involvement. that means knoWing your subject, not just snaPPing aWay at What’s in front of you”

roBerT doisneau

frans lanTing

How can I apply tHIs?

How can I apply tHIs?

This is a tricky concept to put into practice. At a basic level you can make compositional decisions, such as using leading lines to let a viewer make their way through the picture.

Do your research! Some steps are obvious. Wildlife photographers need to know what time of day an animal is active and the behaviour they can expect to see, for instance.

#36

“by making a frame you’re being selective, then you edit the Pictures you Want Published and you’re being selective again. you develoP a Point of vieW that you Want to exPress. you try to go into a situation With an oPen mind, but then you form an oPinion and you exPress it in your PhotograPhs” mary ellen mark

How can I apply tHIs? Mark’s remark has more relevance if you’re an aspiring documentary photographer, but it’s worth bearing in mind that you’re essentially manipulating an image at every stage of the process. Even the choice of camera height can be used to manipulate emotions. Image: Ernst Haas / Getty

#39

“ultimately, simPlicity is the goal in every art, and achieving simPlicity is one of the hardest things to do. yet it’s easily the most essential” peTe Turner

www.digitalcameraworld.com

How can I apply tHIs? A photo can lack impact if there are too many elements within it competing for attention. It’s particularly hard to keep things simple when you’re using a wideangle lens. One trick is to zoom in so that the subject fills the frame, then zoom out. Once you start to lose the subject of your picture, zoom back in a little. Another trick is to think in odd numbers: can you create a picture using just three or five elements?

How can I apply tHIs?

#40

“f/8 and be there” weegee

This quote that’s widely attributed to Arthur ‘Weegee’ Fellig is the ultimate appraisal of what’s really important to photography: standing in the right place at the right time. A mid-range aperture of f/8 on a wide or standard lens will give you enough depth of field to keep the business end of your pictures sharp, although you’ll need to keep an eye on shutter speed, and be prepared to nudge the ISO up if needed.

September 2015

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Special feature

50 Photo Quotes to Live By

#41 “you only get one sunrise and one sunset a day, and you only get so many days on the Planet. a good PhotograPher does the math and doesn’t Waste either” galen rowell

Image: Galen Rowell / Corbis

#47

“there is a brief moment When all there is in a man’s mind and soul and sPirit is reflected through his eyes, his hands, his attitude. this is the moment to record” yousuf karsh

40

How can I apply tHIs? Don’t hesitate. You may wait for hours, days, even years, for a particular moment, and then it’s gone in 1/1000 sec. If you see a picture in the viewfinder, then you’ve missed the shot. If you’re photographing a subject that you’re passionate about, then you’ll be able to anticipate the moment. In fact, if you’re using a Nikon 1 camera, then you can record images before you’ve even stabbed the shutter release!

September 2015

How can I apply tHIs?

#42

Rowell was an outdoor photographer who was as generous with his advice as he was skilled in using a camera to record the landscapes of the US. This quote is all the more poignant because both Rowell and his wife Barbara – herself an accomplished photographer – died in a plane crash in California in 2002. Rowell once said he “almost never set out to photograph a landscape” and that his “first thought is always of light”, so his sunrise-and-sunset quote summarises his approach to photography succinctly. For many of us, fitting photography around our daily routines means that we have to seize quality time with our cameras when we can. Making the effort to get up early and stay out late to catch the ‘golden hours’ really can transform ordinary scenes into something magical. Landscape photography is an area where the right light can give pictures of familiar locations an edge. It doesn’t last long, so you’ll need to be in place long before the sun rises or sets, with the camera locked on a tripod and the composition predetermined. So, the next time the forecast predicts a frost, a clear morning or even a dramatic storm, do yourself a favour and set your alarm. You’ll be amazed at how often you find yourself in front of something worth shooting, even when the forecast is far from promising. After all, what have you got to lose?

“a lot of PhotograPhers think that if they buy a better camera they’ll be able to take better PhotograPhs. a better camera Won’t do a thing for you if you don’t have anything in your head or in your heart” arnold newman

How can I apply tHIs? A pioneer in environmental portraiture, Arnold Newman made this comment in an interview with American Photo magazine 15 years ago. These days, the shortening cycle of camera upgrades means that it’s easy to feel bloated by G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome), but it’s vision that wins every time. While new camera equipment can open up new opportunities, make the most of what you do have; write a checklist of images you want to create and make them happen.

#43

“a PhotograPher may not just Walk the streets but he/she does do a lot of Walking, With a PurPose, so the most imPortant Piece of equiPment after the camera is a good Pair of shoes. a Writer can do a lot of Work from a hotel room but a PhotograPher has to be there, so he/she is in for a hell of a lot hiking” david hurn

How can I apply tHIs? Taken from his book On Being a Photographer, Magnum photographer David Hurn’s quote offers the same down-to-earth clarity as his photo essays. Anyone can talk a good picture, but you need to get out there and take it, whether you’re a landscape photographer looking for a new view or a macro specialist hunting out an insect. A good pair of shoes is an essential photographic accessory.

#48

“the more Pictures you see, the better you are as a PhotograPher” roBerT mappleThorpe

How can I apply tHIs? Art photographer Mapplethorpe’s observation isn’t a recommendation that you should set out to copy the look of images that others have created, but rather how it can subconsciously influence your own approach and style. Whether it’s through the pages of N-Photo, a visit to an art gallery or a scroll through the websites such as 1x.com or 500px.com, seek out high-quality food for thought.

www.digitalcameraworld.com


#44

“PhotograPhy is not about the thing PhotograPhed. it is about hoW that thing looks PhotograPhed”

Image: David Alan Harvey / Magnum

50 Photo Quotes to Live By

garry winogrand

How can I apply tHIs? The three-dimensional world looks very different when reduced to a twodimensional photograph. Knowing how to add depth comes through experience – although reviewing shots on the camera’s LCD can provide a short-cut to getting it right…

#45

“i Want to make a Picture that could stand on its oWn, regardless of What it Was a Picture of. i’ve never been a bit interested in the fact that this Was a Picture of a blues musician or a street corner or something”

#46

“don’T shooT whaT iT looks like. shooT whaT iT feels like”

william eggelsTon

david alan harvey

How can I apply tHIs? If you know how to work with lighting, composition and timing, then you can make a good photograph of any subject. To see if your photos can ‘stand alone’, ask non-photographers which ones they like best, and why. The answers may surprise you.

How can I apply tHIs? Succinct advice from the Magnum photographer with extensive National Geographic credits to his name. This simple concept can be challenging to stick with when you’re a photography novice. Having to get to grips with

#49

“a Portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it” edward sTeichen

www.digitalcameraworld.com

How can I apply tHIs? If you’re taking a portrait, make sure you have the technical side of things down pat. Be prepared. Ask someone to stand in for the portrait sitter while you check the lighting and exposure. If you can’t do that, set the self-timer and be your own stand-in. Free yourself of the worry of the mechanics ahead of time, so that you can concentrate on engaging with your subject and coaxing out their personality.

histograms, f-stops, white balance and beyond means that you’re more likely to be consumed with just getting a sharp, well-framed, well-exposed shot than something as nebulous as capturing a feeling! But before setting out on a shoot, try asking yourself exactly what it is

about the subject that you want to get across in your image. Is it the grace of a bird? The restlessness of a city? The heat of a fire? Write down a list of nouns and adjectives connected with the subject you’re photographing and see if you can capture those.

How can I apply tHIs?

#50

“i’m so Worried that i’m going to Perfect [my] technique someday. i have to say it’s unfortunate hoW many of my Pictures do dePend uPon some technical error.” sally mann

Mann’s early work saw her training her lens on her family. In those situations, you have to grab moments where you can, and the final image can display less-thanperfect technical quality. As Robert Capa’s iconic D-Day image on page 35 illustrates, some of the greatest images in the history of photography are blurred. In short, don’t be afraid to make mistakes – it’s the only way you’ll ever learn.

September 2015

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WIN 50 BITS OF PHOTO KIT WORTH OVER £8000! WINNER-TaKES-all cOmPETITION ENTER NOW TO WIN 50 FaB PRIzES

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September 2015

www.digitalcameraworld.com


Photo’s first issue was published way back in 2011, and today, four years and 49 issues later, we’re delighted to be bringing you our 50th.To celebrate, we’re giving away 50 fantastic bits of photography kit, from a Nikon D750 plus a selection of lenses from Nikon, Sigma and Tamron, to an Elinchrom studio lighting kit, Nissin flash accessories, a clutch of Manfrotto goodies and much, much more. We’re pretty confident that if you win this little lot you’ll have absolutely everything you could ever need to take your photography to the next level, no matter what your favourite subject is. We’ve written about some brilliant photography kit over the last four years, and many of our Best on Test and Five Star award-winners are included among the prizes, so read on to see what fab 50 freebies you could win, and how to enter…

www.digitalcameraworld.com

September 2015

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COMPETITION

Win 50 bits of photo kit!

01

04

02

03

NikoN D750 PluS 24-85mm VR KIT lENS

02

TamroN 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 DI II Vc PzD

Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSm

£1880 / WWW.NIKON.cO.uK

£450 / WWW.TamRON.cO.uK

£320 / WWW.SIGma-ImaGING-uK.cOm

The full-frame D750 is a worthy winner of our fivestar rating (review, issue 39). The tough yet light monocoque construction houses a 24.3-megapixel image sensor and Expeed 4 processor that deliver what Nikon rightly says is ‘exceptional image quality with cleaner results than ever before at high ISOs’. The sensitivity range is phenomenal at ISO 10012800 (50-51200 expanded), while sharp results are assured by the pro-grade 51-point autofocus system. The D750 is speedy too, with a 6.5-frames-persecond maximum burst rate. Around the back, a tilting LCD makes for easy Live View and movie shooting from creative angles. Overall, it’s a body that can take anything in its stride, from landscape and architecture shots, to portraiture and fashion photography, to action sports and wildlife, and beyond. It makes the most of Nikon’s range of topquality lenses – speaking of which, our star prize comes complete with the impressive yet refreshingly compact Nikon AF-S 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR lens.

There are several superzooms on the market for DX-format Nikon SLRs, all of which give a wide-angle focal length of 18mm at the short end and stretch to at least 200mm. Tamron has been renowned for pushing the envelope with its superzoom lenses, but its latest model really breaks barriers. As a rule, superzoom lenses don’t give a wider angle of view than standard zooms like an 18-55mm lens. The new Tamron changes all that, with an ultra-wide viewing angle enabled by its 16mm shortest focal length, equivalent to 24mm on a full-frame body. Meanwhile, its class-leading 18.75x zoom range means that it still manages to deliver an unsurpassed 300mm focal length at the long end, equivalent to a mighty 450mm in full-frame terms. It’s not just about zoom range, though. This Tamron really delivers in terms of image quality, aided by superb optical stabilisation and refined ultrasonic autofocus. It’s the perfect travel lens, and justifiably won our ‘best on test’ award in issue 39.

Fancy some fast glass? This 50mm from Sigma’s high-end ‘EX’ stable boasts top-notch build quality and premium optics to deliver sizzling image quality. It’s become a firm favourite with both DX and FX shooters over the last few years, and with good reason. On a DX camera, its effective focal length of 75mm and wide f/1.4 maximum aperture make it perfect for portraiture. You can shoot from a cosy but not cramped distance, while blurring the background with a tight depth of field. Switch to an FX body and the lens becomes equally excellent as a standard prime, giving a natural perspective and regular viewing angle for general shooting. Unlike some 50mm prime lenses, the Sigma is quite large and weighty at 85x68mm and 520 grams. That’s no bad thing, as it feels perfectly balanced on upmarket DX and FX bodies alike. Typical of Sigma’s EX lenses, ring-type ultrasonic autofocus is fast and near-silent, while enabling full-time manual override in Single AF mode.

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September 2015

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www.digitalcameraworld.com


Win 50 bits of camera kit!

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07

08

06

EliNchrom D-lITE RX 4/4 PORTalITE KIT aND EXTRaS 04

£720 / WWW.THEFlaSHcENTRE.cOm Whenever we run group tests of studio lighting systems, Elinchrom has the winning habit. Our Big Test in issue 43 was no exception, where the D-Lite RX 4 flash head took top honours. It’s easy to see why, with its combination of lightweight portability, superb build quality, a raft of top-end features, unparalleled ease of use and even built-in ‘Skyport’ RF wireless triggering. There’s plenty of power on tap as well, easily adjustable with digital pushbutton controls. Of course, two heads are better than one, so we’re giving away this complete studio lighting kit that comprises two powerful D-Lite RX 4 flash heads, complete with top-quality Portalite softboxes, lighting stands, cables and Skyport trigger, all wrapped up in sturdy yet stylish carrying bags. On top of that, we’re throwing in an Elinchrom Deflector Set and an 18cm Reflector and Grid Set, so you can really go wild with creative lighting techniques.

www.digitalcameraworld.com

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maNfroTTo mT055XPRO3

NiSSiN Di700aIR FlaSHGuN

£200 / WWW.maNFROTTO.cO.uK

£180 / WWW.KENRO.cO.uK

Renowned for its strength and rigidity, coupled with an impressive maximum operating height, yet reasonably small and lightweight stowage size, this is one of our favourite-ever tripods. Building on a classic design, this new and improved version is even more stable, while the 90-degree pivoting centre column works even more quickly and easily.

New, improved and better connected, the innovative ‘Air’ version of Nissin’s powerful and ever-popular Nikon-dedicated flashgun adds wireless RF compatibility to its enviable range of features. These include full bounce and swivel facilities in the flash head, as well as a slide-out wide-angle diffuser and fill-flash card. If you’re keen to set up complex arrays of multiple flashguns for creative lighting techniques, the Nissin Air System allows up to 21 Di700Air flashguns to be used in no fewer than three separate groups.

maNfroTTo PROFESSIONal BacKPacK 50 06

£220 / WWW.maNFROTTO.cO.uK Photo backpacks enable you to spread the load over your shoulders and lower back. This prograde Manfrotto backpack measures 50x31x28cm and weighs just 2.33 kilograms when empty. It’s wonderfully comfortable to wear with adjustable, padded shoulder and waist straps. It’ll accommodate a pro-sized SLR or a smaller SLR with battery grip fitted, plus a mounted 70-200mm f/2.8 lens. You’ll also be able to pack an extra camera body, five extra lenses, a flashgun and other bits and pieces. There’s even a padded compartment for your laptop, and a carrying system for your Manfrotto tripod (above!).

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NiSSiN Di700aIR cOmmaNDER KIT 08

£60 / WWW.KENRO.cO.uK This powerful RF wireless commander unit is a significant upgrade over optical wireless systems. It can control the Di7000Air flashgun over distances of up to 30 metres and even works through obstacles and around corners. There’s no need to worry about RF interference from other wireless gadgets either, as the 2.4GHz system has multiple channels and radio transmission IDs that you can set to avoid any clashes or misfiring of wirelessly linked flashguns.

September 2015

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COMPETITION

Win 50 bits of photo kit! 24

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14 16

31 15

25

17

32 10 26 20 33 18 34 11 21

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28 27

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30 19

12 22

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adobE cc PHOTOGRaPHy PlaN

£103 (ONE yEaR) / WWW.aDOBE.cOm Tool up with a year’s subscription to the world’s best imaging-editing package, which includes Adobe Photoshop CC and Lightroom, plus any updates throughout the year.

calumET FOlDaBlE lcD D-SlR VIEWFINDER £125 / WWW.calPHOTO.cO.uK 10

See more clearly, even under bright sunlight, with this 3x magnification viewfinder loupe that fits over your camera’s LCD screen. It’s excellent for Live View and movie shooting. 11 calumET PRO SERIES 845 mEDIum SHOulDER BaG £80 / WWW.calPHOTO.cO.uK

Combining secure, all-weather protection with speed and ease of access to your kit, this superb shoulder bag is comfy to carry, roomy and tough. Ideal for days out on location.

12 camEraclEaN D-SlR maINTENaNcE KIT WITH 17mm SWaBS

£127 / WWW.camERaclEaN.cO.uK Pamper your SLR with this comprehensive cleaning kit. It includes a barrage of brilliant tools, swabs, specGrabber, StaticWisk, silicone blower and much more besides.

13 camEraclEaN EaSycOVER SIlIcONE SKIN FOR THE NIKON D750

£26 / WWW.camERaclEaN.cO.uK Protect your Nikon from bumps, scratches and knocks with this precision-moulded silicone skin. It even includes protection for your camera’s LCD screen.

14 dElkiN SD ElITE 633 aND cF1000X (32GB) £35 + £60 / WWW.DElKIN.cOm

For Full HD movies and rapidly clearing your camera’s memory buffer in continuous shooting, you can’t beat these ultra-fast memory cards from Delkin. 15

dElkiN SENSORScOPE KIT

£100 / WWW.DElKIN.cOm The devil is in the detail, especially when it

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comes to debris on your image sensor. See it clearly with this Sensorscope kit, which also includes all the cleaning tools you might need.

dElkiN uSB uNIVERSal mEmORy caRD REaDER £16 / WWW.DElKIN.cOm 16

Transfer photos, video and other data from pretty much any type of memory card to your PC or laptop with Delkin’s compact and superfast universal reader. 17

EyEfi mOBI PRO £65 / WWW.EyEFI.cOm

Add full Wi-Fi connectivity to your camera with this unique 32GB SDHC card. It also includes a year’s free subscription to Eyefi Cloud. 18

ENlighT FRIO cOlDSHOE

£10 / WWW.ENlIGHTPHOTOPRO.cOm Forget hotshoes – this little coldshoe enables you to mount a flashgun securely on any tripod or lighting stand for secure off-camera firing. 19

ENlighT iOSHuTTER

£25 / WWW.ENlIGHTPHOTOPRO.cOm With this clever gizmo, you can control long exposures and time-lapse sequences, or just shoot remotely using your iPhone or iPod. The sound-activated selfies are a blast! 20

ENlighT ORBIS FlaSH

£150 / WWW.ENlIGHTPHOTOPRO.cOm Turn a regular flashgun into a ring flash for soft portrait lighting and shadow-free macro images using this amazing converter. 21

ENlighT PHOTO PHRIDGE PHuN

£10 / WWW.ENlIGHTPHOTOPRO.cOm The writing’s on the wall, or at least the fridge door, thanks to this pack of 350 magnetic, photo-themed words. At N-Photo, we might even trade in our word processors... 22

ENlighT PHOTO PHREEzE PHuN

£10 / WWW.ENlIGHTPHOTOPRO.cOm Make anything from ice cubes to chocolates in the shape of cameras, using this unique tray. It’s literally Enlight’s coolest invention ever.

September 2015

23

gloxy POWER BlaDE

£124 / WWW.PHOTO24.cO.uK The photo kit equivalent of a lightsaber, the Power Blade runs for up to ten hours between recharges and gives constant, flicker-free lighting, complete with remote control. 24

g-TEch GDRIVE mINI 1TB

£150 / WWW.G-TEcHNOlOGy.cOm Oh so cool, this mini 1TB bus-powered hard drive is designed with an aluminium enclosure that acts as an integrated heat sink to ensure long life and reliability. 25

hähNEl caPTuR FOR NIKON

£60 / WWW.HaHNEl.IE This clever two-in-one Nikon-dedicated remote control system enables wireless remote shutter release for your camera plus wireless remote triggering for your flashgun, over a range of up to 100 metres. 26

hähNEl caPTuR mODulE PRO

£100 / WWW.HaHNEl.IE As well as enabling programmable delay and interval timer sequences, this amazing module includes motion, light, sound and infrared beam sensors. It can fire cameras remotely when used with the Hähnel Captur. 27

ilEx PHOTOGRaPHER’S EyE BOX SET

£36 / WWW.IlEXINSTaNT.cOm This pair of classic hardback books from Michael Freeman is sure to inspire you and comes complete with The Photographer’s Eye: A Graphic Guide. 28

ilEx PHOTOGRaPHER’S EyE DVD SERIES

£40 / WWW.IlEXINSTaNT.cOm If words and pictures aren’t enough for you, this Michael Freeman epic adds a complete photography course on DVD.

29 laSToliTE EzyBOX SquaRE mEDIum 60x60cm £90 / WWW.laSTOlITE.cO.uK

Supremely versatile, this softbox is made to work effortlessly with both studio flash heads

and flashguns, provoding a soft, even light that’s ideal for portraits. 30

laSToliTE TRI GRIP REFlEcTOR

£72 / WWW.laSTOlITE.cO.uK Specially designed for easy one-handed operation, this is the perfect portable reflector for filling in shadows while you’re shooting with your other hand. 31

lEE FIlTER ND GRaD SET (HaRD)

£200 / WWW.lEEFIlTERS.cOm Lee’s legendary filters are renowned for their impeccable quality, as demonstrated by this set of three 100x150mm 0.3, 0.6 and 0.9 ND grads with a hard transition. 32 lEE FIlTERS FOuNDaTION KIT & aDaPTOR RING £55 + £20 / WWW.lEEFIlTERS.cOm

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PEak dESigN caPTuRE

£50 / WWW.PEaKDESIGN.cOm With a base plate that secures to your camera via the tripod socket, this innovative system enables you to securely clip your camera onto any belt or strap for easy carrying. 34

PEak dESigN cluTcH

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camera and lens combinations, this connects quickly and works wonderfully as a neck, shoulder or sling strap. 37

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Sirui P-204S mONOPOD

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HOW TO ENTER

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September 2015

47


50

60

Ingenious recipes for stunning shots 62

Welcome to NikoN SkillS

64 tHiS moNtH’S projectS… PROJECT ONE | CAMERA TECHNIQUES

50 Come fly with us

60 Double the drama

PROJECT TwO | SPECIAL EFFECTS

PROJECT SIX | CREATIVE TECHNIQUES

Discover the hardware, settings and skills you need to capture pin-sharp shots of birds of prey in flight

www.digitalcameraworld.com

Don’t just settle for one skyline, when with some perspex or a mirror you can capture twice the city in a single frame

54 Say it with shadows

62 Shoot the impossible

PROJECT THREE | DIgITAL DARkROOM

PROJECT SEVEN | THE BIg PROJECT

Get creative with your own shadow, and tell the story of what’s really going on behind your back!

Cl ic k on th is we b link bit.ly/NPh oto50 for you r vi de o in tr od uc t ion to th is mon th’s Ni kon skill s

PROJECT FIVE | TAkE IT FURTHER

56 Tweak as you tidy

Why just sort your images, when with the Quick Develop panel in Lightroom you can edit them at the same time?

PROJECT FOUR | gEAR SkILLS

58

get a grip!

Discover the benefits of attaching a dedicated battery grip to your Nikon

Where’s the Nikon? Combine three images to create a self-portrait in a mirror without a camera in sight

64 Draw a line in the sand

Head to the beach to discover how to capture a design in the sand that can only be seen from a particular angle

To watch the videos use this web link… bit.ly/NPhoto50 September 2015

49


NikoN skills

Ingenious recipes for stunning shots

Project one camera techniques

the mission

■ To nail sharp shots of birds in flight

come fly with us

time needed ■ Half a day

skill level

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

Discover James Paterson’s top tricks for photographing raptors in flight and lift your bird photography to new heights

kit needed

■ D-SLR ■ Telephoto lens

Getting great shots of birds in flight requires a combination of sound camera skills, good knowledge of the subject, and a healthy dose of luck. The action often happens so quickly that you’re shooting almost blind, relying on your camera and instinctive technique to bag the perfect shot. The subject provokes furious debate on the best camera settings and gear to use (in wildlife circles ‘birds in flight’ even has its own acronym: BIF). But if you know how to set your camera up to respond to the action, you can increase your chances of a tack-sharp bird photo, which is a

next issue…

the subject of bird photography provokes furious debate on the best camera settings and gear to use. in wildlife circles ‘birds in flight’ even has its own acronym: BiF

capture the driving emotion of sports in a moody portrait

feather in the cap for any aspiring wildlife photographer. One of the easiest ways to get up close to birds in flight is to visit a sanctuary or zoo that has displays. We went to the excellent Hawk Conservancy Trust in Hampshire to photograph these majestic birds of prey. At places like this you’ll see scheduled aerial demonstrations through the day, and many also host tailored photography days and private sessions where the falconers can set up shots especially for you. The right kit can make all the difference to your pictures. A long telephoto lens is essential if you want

to fill the frame with a distant subject. We used a Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 for our photographs here. However, it’s not all about the gear, as knowledge of bird behaviour is just as important. That’s another reason why shooting at a display is useful while you’re learning: our bird handler, Cedric, was on hand to offer advice as well as control the flight path so that we could shoot from the best position. Even the most experienced wildlife pros will come away from a shoot like this with plenty of unusable shots, so don’t lose heart if you find you have a lots of soft photos. The two biggest challenges here are framing and focusing. We’ll show you how to push your D-SLR’s autofocus to its limits, and offer tips on how to anticipate the action. And the best advice we can give? Shoot lots and lots of frames!

keY skill Which focus mode?

When photographing birds in flight, it pays to know your Dynamic area AF from your 3D tracking…

To access your D-SLR’s different focus modes, either use the menus or hold the AF button near the lens release button and turn the dial. Most Nikon D-SLRs have four or more focusing modes, so which is best for bird photographs? It depends on the position of the subject and the background…

Dynamic area aF

Dynamic area AF works by engaging a cluster of focus points rather than a single point, so it’s useful for photographing birds in flight, as it can be hard to keep a single focus point over the bird when tracking. If the subject slips beyond the single point, the surrounding points will spring into action. On our D800 there are options to set the cluster to 9, 21 and 52 points. Use a larger number of points if the subject fills the frame.

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September 2015

3D tracking

With 3D tracking, the idea is that you focus once on the subject, then watch as the point dances around the viewfinder to automatically track the movement. It works by detecting the colour of your subject, so it’s effective if the bird is flying against a contrasting backdrop like a blue sky, or for a white bird on a dark backdrop, but it’s not so effective if the bird’s colouring blends in with the surroundings.

to watch the video use this web link… bit.ly/nPhoto50


QUICK TIP! Most teleph ot o le n se s h ave a force limit er swi tc h on the le n s. Turn th is on to disa b le the closer p a rt of the ran ge for fast er focu sin g on distan t su b jec ts


NikoN skills

Ingenious recipes for stunning shots

steP bY steP set your nikon up for speed

Here’s how to nail sharp shots of our fine feathered friends in flight

BirD Behaviour ■ Birds of prey rely heavily on the direction of the wind for flight. They’re happier flying into the wind as this gives them the uplift they need to keep steady. As such, position yourself upwind to capture them head-on. A moment before bigger birds land they tend to spread their wings and softly swoop to the ground, which is a good time to try to capture them as they’ll be easier to keep sharp, and more photogenic. Again, wind plays a part as they prefer to take off and land into the wind, so position yourself upwind. And if you intend to photograph wild birds of prey, they’re most active when hunting at dawn or dusk.

01 Drive fast

02 Keep it quick

03 Do it yourself

04 smoothly does it

05 Fingers and thumbs

06 Predictable behaviour

Continuous High Drive mode allows you to shoot a rapid sequence of shots, improving your chances of getting at least one perfectly sharp frame. If you find the buffer is filling up quickly (the display shows r00 when full), consider shooting JPEGs instead of RAW.

When the background is changing at speed your Nikon’s metering could be fooled into over- or under-exposing. If the lighting is consistent, use manual mode, then work out an exposure for the subject. It will be correctly exposed even if it moves from dark trees to bright sky.

Set AF-C and the autofocus will engage for as long as the focus button is pressed. Use the back AF button for focusing (set this up in the custom menus). This way you can engage the autofocus with your thumb, then use your forefinger to press the shutter at the perfect moment.

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September 2015

A shutter speed of at least 1/1000 sec is a must; 1/2000 sec is safer still. This often means compromising with a high ISO, but better a noisy image than a soft one. If you’re confident, you could lower the speed to 1/200 sec and pan with the bird to create panning blur like this.

A fluid panning motion helps when tracking birds. Rather than move your arms, lock your elbows down, then turn at the waist or feet so that your whole body pivots (you can practise in the garden with domestic birds). Alternatively, use a tripod and gimbal head.

Even the best AF system may struggle to keep up with birds flying towards the camera. If you know where the bird is headed, you could try pre-focusing. This works very well if you can predict the bird is going to be landing. As soon as the bird enters the frame, start rapid-firing.

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september 2015

53


project two SpeciAL effectS

the miSSion

■ Create a story using shadow shapes

Say it with shadows

time needed

■ Half an hour

Skill level

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

Tom Welsh uncovers the secret lives of the shadows behind us Shadows follow us around constantly, so we’re going to capture their stories on camera. A successful shoot depends on good ideas, so think about what you want your shadows to be doing before you head out with your Nikon. Providing a background and telling a story in one image can be difficult, but it’ll give viewers plenty to talk about when it’s done well. Keep things simple; as you

kit needed

■ Wide-angle lens

next iSSue…

Spice up your shots – have fun with food!

are shooting a two-dimensional surface, space is restricted. To create the best shadows, you need a strong light source. The sun on a bright day is ideal, though you can use other sources of light, such as an off-camera flash or even street lights. Artificial light is more controllable, but also more difficult to work with. When using the sun, be aware of what angle the light is coming from: the low

angles early and late in the day will result in taller shadows stretched across the floor, whereas at midday shadows will be shorter as the light comes from directly above. The secret of this technique is obscuring the camera within your own shadow so that you can star in the scene. You also need to shoot with a wide lens – we used a 24-85mm kit lens on our Nikon D610 D-SLR.

Step by Step Shadow play

Use the sun to create a story in silhouettes on the pavement

01 A blank canvas

To create solid shadows, you will need a clear surface and strong light source. The sun on the pavement is ideal for this. The time of day will affect the angle of the light; shooting at midday will ensure shorter, more compact shadows as the light is coming from above.

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September 2015

02 Speedy shooting

As you will be shooting handheld and possibly holding an awkward shape at the same time, a fast shutter speed is required. Use shutter priority mode to keep your camera up to speed. Don’t worry about under-exposing – you are looking for a strong outline of a shadow.

03 Lights, camera, action!

Place yourself into the scene, tuck the camera into your body and angle yourself so that its outline isn’t visible, then add your actors. Watch the ground to see where the shadows are. Direct your models to interact with one another so their shadows create a scene.

to watch the video use this web link… bit.ly/Nphoto50


teAch YourselF liGhtroom Part 9 AFTER

the missioN

■ To make quick image tweaks while you’re sorting images

time Needed

■ A minute or two per photo

skill level

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

kit Needed

■ Lightroom 5

Next issue…

Go a step further and use the Develop module

56

Project three DIGITAL DARKROOM

tweak as you tidy

George Cairns shows you how to edit images as you sort through them As you’ve seen over the past few issues, Lightroom’s Library module enables you to organise your images so that you can find specific files more easily. This can really speed up your workflow, especially if you have a large archive of images. You can even automatically edit your images as you import them to, say, improve their contrast. To do so,

September 2015

go to the Apply During Import section in the Import window. Set the Develop Settings drop-down menu to Lightroom General presets and choose Auto Tone. This preset will analyse each photo’s histogram and adjust it to create a healthier spread of tones. (We’ll look at histograms in more detail in coming issues.) You can also manually adjust a photo’s colours and tones using the

aptly named Quick Develop panel in the Library module. This enables you to quickly correct colours and increase contrast without having to drag the photo into the more complex Develop module, which we’ll start exploring next issue. You can also use the Quick Develop panel to apply presets to your photos to tweak their colours and tones with just a few clicks. Read on to find out how…

to download the start images for this tutorial, visit bit.ly/start-50


Quick Develop panel

steP bY steP Edit your photos fast

You can make basic changes to your photos using the Quick Develop panel

QUICK TIP I f you wan t to rese t your ima ge to i ts imp ort ed sta te, simply cli ck on the Rese t All bu t ton a t the bot tom of the Qu ick De velop pan el.

01 Adjust the colour balance

02 Tweak the temperature

03 Selectively boost colours

04 Reveal fine details

Import TYLR26.dng into Lightroom’s Library module. Our starting image suffers from a warm colour cast, so the skin tones look a bit orange. Toggle open the Quick Develop panel and set the White Balance drop-down menu to Auto to create more natural-looking skin tones.

The colours look a little desaturated. Doubleclick on the Vibrance button to give them a boost. Vibrance boosts weaker colours without over-saturating stronger ones. It also tends to make less of a change to skin tones, which stops them from looking too orange or over-saturated.

05 Create a custom crop BEFORE

Use the Crop Ratio to quickly change the composition and make it fit a specific aspect ratio (such as 5x7). If you want to create a custom ratio, pick Enter Custom, type in the width and height dimensions you want in the Aspect Ratio boxes, then click on OK.

To watch the video use this web link… bit.ly/NPhoto50

If you’re still not happy with the overall white balance, you can adjust both the warmth and the green/magenta balance by altering the Temperature and Tint settings – just click on the arrow buttons below the white balance preset name to make the changes.

As well as making manual adjustments you can also use colour or tone presets. Go to Saved Preset and choose Lightroom General Presets. If you choose Punch, this increases the midtone contrast, which helps to emphasise fine details, such as our model’s eyes.

06 Use creative presets

The Quick Develop panel makes it possible for you to make quick monochrome conversions too. Experiment with Lightroom B&W Filter presets, such as the Orange Filter, which produces a high-key mono print. You can always click Reset All to go back to your original image.

September 2015

57


NikoN skills Many grips have extra dials and buttons that make portrait-orientation shooting much easier

the missioN

To discover the benefits of shooting with a battery grip

time Needed

■ Five minutes

skill level

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

kit Needed

■ Nikon D-SLR ■ Battery grip ■ Six AA batteries or Nikon camera battery

Next issue…

Set your flash free – take it off-camera for dramatic sports photography

58

Ingenious recipes for creative shots

Project four geaR SkiLLS

Get a grip on portraits Tom Welsh demonstrates how battery grips can extend your shooting time, and even making shooting more comfortable in portrait orientation

We’ve all seen oversized cameras encumbered with battery grips. Given the weight they add, and how long your Nikon’s battery can last, you may have wondered why these grips are necessary, but as we’ll discover over these two pages, they offer much more than just extended battery life. Battery grips are not like flashguns or different lenses, which allow you to take a more creative approach to your photography: they simply enable you to keep doing what you’re doing for longer, and – crucially – improve

your Nikon’s handling. It might sound counter-intuitive, but with a larger grip and heavier body, your Nikon will feel significantly more stable in your hands, in particular when shooting in portrait orientation. This is especially the case with smaller, entry-level D-SLRs, which are often designed for smaller hands, and as such are often too small for larger hands to get an effective grip on. Of course, a grip will add weight to your camera, and that’s something you need to bear in mind if you use a tripod regularly. If your usual body/

With a battery grip your Nikon will feel significantly more stable, in particular when shooting in portrait orientation. This is especially the case with smaller, entry-level D-SLRs September 2015

lens combination is close to your tripod’s weight tolerance, with a grip added you might need stronger legs. Unlike with other brands of camera, one of the big advantages of Nikons is that you don’t have to remove the in-camera battery and chamber cover in order to attach a battery grip – the grip simply plugs into a socket on the underside of the camera body. The Hähnel HN-D600 grip that we’ve used here can be used with an EN-EL15 Nikon camera battery, or with six standard AA batteries, though it doesn’t actually come with either type, so you may need to buy these separately, depending on the grip. Whatever body and grip you use, here’s how to get the most out of a winning combination...

To watch the video use this web link… bit.ly/NPhoto50


Using a battery grip

steP By steP Big up your camera

Here’s how to fit your battery grip to your Nikon

01 Load and lock

To fit the grip to your Nikon, remove the cover for the contact, which you’ll find on the underside of the body, adjacent to the battery chamber. Carefully slot the plug into the socket. Finally, tighten the screw into the tripod mount using the wheel on the battery grip.

02 Back-up option

Many grips give you the option to use standard AA batteries instead of a dedicated camera battery. Hähnel’s HN-D600 grip, for example, comes with two battery holders, one for a camera battery, and one for six AAs, which can be useful when you’re miles from the nearest socket.

exTRa BaTTeRy uSe

Added BeNefits go the distance and strike a balance Here are some of the advantages of attaching a battery grip to your Nikon

01 Long life

As you’d expect, one way a battery grip can benefit your shooting is by extending shooting time. Manufacturers claim D-SLR batteries will last for 800-850 shots on cameras with optical viewfinders. Adding a grip will double your camera’s battery power.

03 Portrait shooting

As well as giving you more to hold onto, many battery grips replicate the buttons found on the main grip. The HN-D600 has a shutter release and AF-L button, plus dials for shutter speed, aperture and AF selection. This means you can shoot vertically without having to twist your shooting hand around.

www.digitalcameraworld.com

02 Bigger is better

Another benefit of a battery grip is that it extends the existing grip, which can make horizontal shooting more comfortable. The grips on some entry-level D-SLRs are too small for large hands – a battery grip can increase the area under your fingers by 50 per cent.

04 Balanced feel

When shooting with large, heavy lenses, smaller cameras can feel very unbalanced. A grip adds to the weight of your camera’s body, which makes it far more stable to shoot with, especially when it’s fitted with lots of extras, such as flash guns and telephoto lenses.

■ Additional battery life may not seem worth spending more money on, as during long days of shooting you can just replace your camera batteries. There are, however, situations where having more battery life built-in is really handy. While shooting long events such as weddings, for example, you don’t want to waste time rifling through your camera bag for your spare battery. Battery grips are also useful when you’re shooting at night, especially for ultralong exposures, where a single battery could run out.

QUICK TIP Ge t in to the ha bi t of pu t ting ba t teries in di ff eren t pocke ts in your ba g accordin g to wh ether th ey’re ch arged or used, so you’ll alwa ys kn ow wh ic h is wh ic h

September 2015

59


NikoN skills

the missioN

■ Use a reflective surface to capture a stunning cityscape

time NeeDeD ■ One hour

skill level

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

Ingenious recipes for creative shots

Project five creative techniques

Double the drama

Reflecting on busy urban life, Tom Welsh heads out to duplicate a cityscape using little more than perspex, perspective and precision

kit NeeDeD

For a new take on the standard cityscape, we are going to turn busy, inner-city life upside down. Using a combination of perspective and perspex, you can replicate any cityscape in a striking reflection. Look around and you’ll find plenty of suitable buildings for reflections, especially in the centre of a city. Of course, you can find many reflections in windows and water, but these don’t quite give the remarkable clarity you

Next issue…

a mirror is the obvious thing to use, but a wide variety of materials will work for this technique, and for our shoot we opted for a sheet of black perspex

■ Tripod ■ Wide-angle lens (ideally under 35mm) ■ Reflective material such as black perspex

Learn how to use lens flare to add impact to your portraits

60

September 2015

can achieve using a super-smooth shiny surface. The method is simple: you position a reflective sheet of material in front of a cityscape to double up the scene. A mirror is the obvious thing to use, but a wide variety of materials will work for this technique, and for our shoot we opted for a sheet of black perspex. The perspex was reflective enough to give a mirror-like reflection, although the image was only visible

when looking low down and directly across the sheet. This is because the distance between the camera and the subject will affect where you have to stand in order to capture the mirrored scene; if we’d placed the perspex at the base of a building, we’d have had to look almost straight down to see the reflection of our subject. There are some tricky techniques to master if you’re to pull this effect off. Don’t let that put you off, though, as with some precise positioning you will be able to reflect your favourite scene with ease, and gain a greater understanding of perspective and light to further your photography.

to watch the video use this web link… bit.ly/nPhoto50


Cityscape reflection

steP BY steP shoot a mirror image

Master the art of perspective by using a mirrored surface to reflect eye-catching architecture

01 raise your game

02 square things up

03 hold still...

04 squeeze it in

First, find a location. You need a clear line of buildings, standing on a straight horizon so you’ve got something to align the sheet of perspex with. It’s best if you can raise the perspex off the ground, to enable you to get close enough to its surface to shoot, so bear this in mind when scouting.

Set up your tripod so that the head is level with the perspex (one with bubble levels will be very useful here). Even if you are not using a long exposure for your shots, a tripod will keep your camera still, giving you the time to check the horizon and focusing properly.

05 stay on the level

Now put your camera on your tripod and make final refinements to its position. Position the lens so that the bottom quarter is actually below the level of the perspex. Use Live View if you need to, to ensure you get the optimum viewpoint looking across the reflection.

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Make sure that your perspex or mirror is square with the horizon, otherwise one side of your scene will end up being larger than the other. We balanced ours on a bin, but you could use a second tripod and a fence to create a makeshift table if there are no horizontal supports in your location.

shoot twice, cut once ■ If you are struggling to get the whole image sharp, take two images, one focused on the building and the other on the perspex. Open the images in Photoshop, drag the perspex-focused image onto the building image and line them up using the Move tool. With the Marquee tool set to rectangle (alt/ctrl + M), draw around the reflection. Make sure that the rectangle is level along the horizon, then click the Add vector mask icon at the bottom of the layers panel.

It is best to use a wide-angle lens for this project as you will be shooting close up to the perspex and fitting a large scene in may prove difficult with standard lens. If you shoot from further back to accommodate a longer focal length, the reflection may be too narrow to see clearly.

06 Go deep

As the perspex sheet and buildings are far away from one another, you will need to use a narrow aperture to keep both the real scene and the reflected one in sharp focus. We shot at f/16 for maximum depth of field without risking softness from lens-created diffraction.

QUICK TIP! G ive your surf ace a wi pe wi th a le ns cl oth be fore ta king a sh ot – i t’s easier th an removing fingerprin ts in post-prod uc tion

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NikoN skills

Ingenious recipes for stunning shots

Project six Creative photoshop

shoot the impossible

James Paterson explains how to combine three images into one to create a trick mirror-image Reflections are a ripe subject for the missioN photographic trickery. In this tutorial ■ To create an impossible photo in Photoshop using layers, masks and selections

we’ll show you how to create a mirror image that couldn’t possibly have occurred. It’s a neat visual trick that echoes MC Escher’s mirror ball sketch, and, like the best trickery, it all begins in-camera. You need three images. In the first, the subject holds the camera with one hand, and stretches the other out to the surface of the mirror. In the second, he switches hands in order to capture the other arm stretched out. And in the third, he holds the camera below his chin to capture his face. If you plan to shoot your own images for this, keep your camera and body position as fixed as possible so that everything can be aligned. Once you’ve opened these images in Photoshop, all you have to do is combine the arms and head to create a seamless composite that makes the camera invisible. This is easy enough using layer masks, selections and a little cloning to tidy things up. Here’s how it’s done…

time Needed

■ 20 minutes

skill level

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

kit Needed

■ Photoshop CC

Next issue…

Work some magic by adding 3D text

steP by steP reflection perfection

Use layer and masking techniques to create a cool illusion

01 Drag and drop

Open mirror1.jpg and mirror2.jpg. Grab the Move tool. Drag the mirror2.jpg image up to the tab of mirror1.jpg, then down into the image window to copy it on top. Hit 5 to set layer opacity to 50%. Press Cmd/Ctrl+T to transform, then position and rotate the top layer to match the frame below.

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September 2015

02 Make a selection

Hit Enter to apply and 0 to bring the layer opacity back to 100%. Next, grab the Lasso tool from the Tools panel. Drag a rough selection from the top, through the right shoulder and down the middle of the body to the bottom, and drag around the edges to complete a selection of the right half.

03 Create a layer mask

Right-click over the selection, choose Feather and set Feather Radius to about 30px to soften the edges of the selection. Click the Add Mask button in the Layers panel to turn the selection into a layer mask. Everything but the selected area will be hidden, revealing the layer below.

To download the start images for this tutorial, visit bit.ly/start-50


Impossible mirror

aDD a Cool tone â–  A tonal change at the end of the project will help to make all the separate elements look like they belong together, and a slightly desaturated, filmic look is ideal for an effect like this. A great place to do this is in the Camera Raw Filter (Photoshop CC only). Once everything is in place, hit Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+Alt+E to merge layers, then go to Filter>Camera Raw Filter. In the Basics Panel, add Clarity and increase the Shadows. To give it a cool tone, drop the Temperature to about -10 and then increase Vibrance and decrease Saturation.

Quick TiP! Alt-

clic k on a layer mask thu mbn ail to tog gle on a view of the black-andwh ite mask. The black areas are hidden, wh ite areas are visi ble

04 select the head

Open mirror3.jpg. Grab the Quick Selection brush from the Tools panel and paint over the head and neck to select it (hold Alt and paint to subtract if you go wrong). Click on the Refine Edge button at the top. Set Radius 1.7 and paint over the hair. Choose Output to: Selection, then hit OK.

05 position and mask

With the Move tool, drag the head up to the tab of the first image, then down again to copy it on top. Hit Cmd/Ctrl+T and use the bounding box to position the head. Hit Enter to apply, then click on the Add Mask icon in the Layers panel. Use a soft brush to paint with black to blend the neck in.

to watch the video use this web link‌ bit.ly/nphoto50

06 tidy up

Click on the New Layer icon in the Layers panel and drag it below the head layer. Grab the Clone tool and check Sample: Current and Below in the tool options. Hold Alt to sample a clean source area, then clone to tidy rough patches like the hand. Clone to rebuild any missing body parts.

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NikoN skills

the missioN

■ To draw a design or shape in the sand that reads correctly from the right angle

time NeeDeD ■ Two hours

skill level

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

kit NeeDeD

■ D-SLR ■ Tripod ■ Laptop ■ Tethering software ■ Photoshop (CC, CS or Elements) ■ Tethering cable ■ Beach chair ■ Pegs ■ String ■ Rake

Next issue…

Take to the skies! Enjoy aerial shooting from a hot air balloon

64

Ingenious recipes for creative shots

Project seveN THE BIG PROJECT

Draw a line in the sand Armed with little more than a lawn rake and his laptop, James Paterson heads to the seaside to explain how to make anamorphic sand art

An anamorphic illusion is a picture or scene that only makes sense from a single vantage point. It’s an eye-catching visual trick that’s been used by artists for centuries in everything from classical art right through to those adverts we’ve all seen that are painted onto sports pitches. To celebrate N-Photo’s 50th issue, we’ve used the ‘N’ from our logo as the basis of our own anamorphic illusion. From any position other than that of the camera, the ‘N’ looks distorted, but when it’s viewed from this

singular position, everything suddenly clicks into place. Over the next few pages, we’ll explain how to create anamorphic effects to trick the eye into believing an unnatural perspective, if only for a split second. You need a large clear expanse of ground, and a way to mark it with a design. A sandy beach is perfect, so we headed off to one of the UK’s best for our shoot. Bamburgh Castle provides a stunning backdrop for our sand art here. You can scratch the shapes in the wet sand with a rake, but that’s the

The challenge is to mark out the exact position of each point in the design so that you can draw the shape… It’s an involved project, and ideally you need at least two people September 2015

easy part. The challenge is to mark out the exact position of each point in the design so that you can draw the shape in perspective. To do this, you need to do something that feels a little wrong: bring a laptop to the beach! You can then tether the laptop to the camera to get a Live View feed, and overlay a semi-transparent design on top using third-party tethering software. Then, using the on-screen feed as a guide, you can plot out the corner points of the design on the sand with pegs and string. It’s an involved project, and ideally you need at least two people to pull it off, but the results are playful and eye-catching. And the beauty of it is, once you know how it’s done, you can create any shape you like.

To watch the video use this web link… bit.ly/NPhoto50


NikoN skills

Ingenious recipes for creative shots

ON LOCATION | Getting set up

Here’s what you’ll need to map out your design

TETHERING SOfTwARE ■ When it comes to choosing tethering software, there are lots of options. However, not all of them display a Live View feed from the camera, and fewer still allow you to overlay an image on top of Live View. We used Sharp Shooter 3, which allows for both. It also lets you zoom in on the Live View feed and, although very pixelated, the close-up will allow for more precision when placing pegs in the sand at the corner points of the design.

03

02

01

04

01

Laptop

By connecting your Nikon to a laptop you can use tethering software to get a Live View feed, and also to overlay your design on the sand (see box, top left). Beaches and laptops don’t mix, though, so check the weather beforehand.

02

Tethering cable

A tethering USB cable will allow you to connect your camera and laptop. Our D800 requires a USB3 cable, but your camera may need a different type of USB cable, such as a micro USB. Needless to say, the longer the better.

03

Lawn rake

A lawn rake is ideal for roughing up the sand. It’s better if the sand is slightly wet, as this’ll make the contrast between the rough and smooth more noticeable. Bring a smaller rake or tool too, for the narrower bits in the design.

04

String and pegs

Map out all the corner points in your design with tent pegs, then use string to connect them. Things are a lot easier if the design you choose has straight edges, as these are easier to mark out in straight lines with the string.

esseNtial skills Preparing your design Quick tip I f you don’t have tethering softwa re or prefer not to take your laptop to the beach, there’s a more basic altern a tive: simply draw the design on clear plasti c and stick i t over your camera’s LCD, then turn on Live View 66

Use Photoshop to prepare your design in an image window that matches your camera’s aspect ratio

01 Size it up

Open Photoshop then go to File>New. Set Width to 6 inches and height to 4 inches, then hit OK. Next open your graphic, grab the Rectangular Marquee tool from the Tools panel and select it, then hit Cmd/Ctrl+C to copy. Go to the new document and hit Cmd/Ctrl+V to Paste.

September 2015

02 Position and save

Grab the Move tool and use it to position the graphic (if you need to resize it, press Cmd/Ctrl+T). Next go to File>Save As and save first as a Photoshop PSD, then as a JPEG copy. This way, if the position of the design needs tweaking on location, you can simply adjust the layered PSD file.

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Sandfilter art Make skies bluer with a polarising

steP by steP Create your own sand art

Learn how to tether your laptop and camera, map out a design, then rough up the wet sand with a rake

01 Pick your spot

02 Connect your laptop

03 Overlay your design

04 Tweak the position

05 Place the pegs

06 Join the dots

07 Rake the sand

08 Tidy the edges

09 Take the shot

Pick a clear patch of sand for your art (we went to Bamburgh beach in Northumberland). It helps if the tide is receding rather than coming in, as then the wet sand will be pristine, and you’ll also have plenty of time before it comes back in. Once you’ve picked a spot, set your camera up on a tripod.

At this point, you’ll probably need to tweak the position of the graphic to match the clear patch of sand. Open the layered PSD in Photoshop and use the Move tool to adjust its position, then save another JPEG. Go back to the tethering software and overlay the new JPEG, and repeat if needed.

Use a rake to rough up the sand, keeping the rest of it as pristine as possible. At points closer to the camera you need to be more precise, so carefully scratch out the sand with the edges of the rake, or if necessary use your hands or a smaller implement to rough up the tighter gaps.

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Compose the frame, leaving a clear stretch of sand for your design. Consider the angle and camera height, as this’ll have an effect on the expanse of ground the design will have to cover. Next, place your laptop on a chair to one side and connect your camera to it with a tethering cable.

Use the Live View feed with the overlaid graphic to help you place pegs in the scene at the corner points. This part of the job requires two people: one at the laptop to direct, the other to place the pegs. If your tethering software lets you zoom in, use the zoom for extra precision.

Continue raking until the entire area is covered, then spend a little time tidying the edges. Take a couple of test shots and examine the design to see if any areas need work. You’ll be able to pat down any mistakes and straighten up points where the sand may be a little messy.

Open your tethering software and connect with the camera. We used Sharp Shooter 3 here (see ‘Tethering Software’, opposite). Enable the Live View feed, then use the Overlay Image feature in the software to drop in your design on top and make it semi-transparent.

Once pegs are in place for all of the points in the shape, the next step is to join them all up with string. Wrap string around each peg and keep the lines as straight as possible. You might need to consult the design just to make sure that all the points match up properly.

Once you’re happy, remove the pegs and string, then take the shot. To ensure maximum depth of field so that everything is sharp, use aperturepriority mode and a narrow aperture such as f/16. To add interest, try waiting for people to enter the scene, or venture into it yourself!

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Your first wedding

Images: James Paterson

A good zoo provides just as much opportunity for animal photos as an exotic safari, and as James Paterson explains, with a few simple tricks, no one will be able to tell you weren’t out on the veld...

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September 2015

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mini feature

Go wild at the zoo

s this month’s Apprentice feature demonstrates, nothing beats photographing animals in their natural habitat. But for many of us, the expense and the time needed to go on a photographic safari are just too great. The local alternative is a trip to the zoo. A day out at the zoo provides plenty of opportunities for great photos, as we found during our visit to the Cotswold Wildlife Park. The challenge is to photograph the animals in such a way that all the trappings of the zoo (the fences, cages, glass barriers, sheds, and other visitors) are excluded so that the animals are able to shine. With the right gear and a little exposure know-how, it is possible to capture the animals in a way that suggests a wide open savannah rather than a local tourist attraction.

Take care wiTh composiTion The easiest way to hide the trappings of the zoo is to take care when composing your shot. Look around and you’ll find plenty of nondescript backdrops behind the animals that can be used. Choose a background that suits the subject too; a lush green English backdrop might look pretty, but it may not reflect the natural habitat of many of the animals. Of course, viewing areas can be limited, so walk around the entire

If you can get close enough, use a macro lens to pick out details like textures and patterns in the animals

PaCK it in

Like any photoGraphy excurSion, a trip to the zoo requireS thouGhtfuL packinG

TelephoTo lens A telephoto lens is a must for getting close. An 80-400mm like this is a good all-rounder, with a maximum aperture of f/4.5-5.6. You can get faster long telephotos, but they get more bulky and more costly the wider the aperture (this issue’s Big Test compares eight telephoto lenses for wildlife – turn to page 126).

70

macro lens

Tripod

A macro lens is a good choice for animal portraits at zoos. The minimum focusing distance means you can get very close, either to shoot smaller creatures or to capture details of larger ones. Macros usually have a wide maximum aperture (f/2.8 on our Nikon 105mm), which helps to blur the background.

Tripods help to keep camera shake to a minimum when using longer lenses. They’re also useful in dimly-lit places like the reptile house, as you can drop the shutter speed to allow for lower ISOs (as long as the animal stays still). Be aware that some zoos won’t allow tripods, and try not to get in the way of other visitors.

September 2015

polariser A polarising filter helps to cut down on reflections, so it’s useful when shooting animals through glass, or for cutting down on haze in bright sunshine. The effect works best when you’re at 90 degrees to the sun. Turn the circular ring while looking through the lens until you get the effect you’re after.

lens cloTh Kids love to press their hands and noses up to the glass to get a closer look at the animals, so you’ll see lots of grubby fingerprints in places like the reptile house and aquarium. Keep a lens cloth to hand; a quick wipe can make a big difference to the clarity of the image. (Use a different one for your lenses!)

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Go wild at the zoo

If the background doesn’t suit the species, convert the shot to black and white to disguise the inappropriate colours

enclosure to find the best angle for your shot. Other visitors may have already bagged the best positions, but most will only stay at each enclosure for a few moments, so be patient. It helps if you visit the zoo during off-peak times, such as a weekday (as long as it’s not a school holiday). Upon arrival, check for feeding times and any new arrivals too, as these both offer great photo opportunities.

Blur The Background A telephoto lens will enable you to fill the frame with the animal and separate them from the background. This can really help to de-emphasise the surroundings. Depth of field plays a part in helping to hide distractions, as if the background is blurred, the animal stands out. Put your Nikon in aperture-priority mode and use the widest aperture setting the lens will allow (that was f/5.6 at the long end of the 80-400mm telephoto we used on our day at the zoo). Not only will this keep the

a TelephoTo lens will enaBle you To fill The frame wiTh The animal and separaTe iT from The Background… depTh of field plays a parT in helping To hide disTracTions

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depth of field shallow, it’ll also allow for faster shutter speeds. For greater background blur, look for animals that are a longer distance away from the background. The further away the background is from your point of focus, the softer it’ll be. If, for example, a meerkat is right next to a wall then it’ll be obvious that the shot was taken at a zoo. But if the meerkat is a decent distance away from the wall, then even if it’s in shot there’s a good chance that the wall will be blurred beyond recognition.

seT up your nikon

GO DOWn tO the Wire Wire cages can make it difficult to get a clean shot of the animals inside, but there’s a trick you can use to take them out of the picture. Simply hold the lens as close as you can to the wire and use a large aperture to keep depth of field as shallow as possible (use aperturepriority mode and set a low f-number). For the bottom-left shot our camera was about half a metre

from the cage, with the aperture at f/8. In the second, the front of the lens was held close to the wire (we took the lens hood off) with an aperture of f/2.8. When shooting, hold the lens centrally over one of the holes in the wire so that if any fringing occurs, it’ll be around the edges. Also, look for part of the cage in the shade, as bright wire is more likely to affect the image.

When shooting animals with a long lens it’s inevitable that there will be a few soft shots, but you can improve your chances of getting them pin-sharp by using the right camera settings. A fast shutter speed is important, as at longer focal lengths even the slightest camera movement is exaggerated. Ideally you’ll want a shutter speed that’s equivalent to the focal length, so zoomed in to 400mm you’d need a shutter speed of at least 1/400 sec. It’s best to play it safe when handholding the camera and shooting moving subjects, though, so if in doubt double this value. One easy way to ensure your shutter speed is fast enough is to set manual mode, choose the widest

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mini feature

Go wild at the zoo

aperture and use auto ISO. This way, the ISO varies according to the available light. It might mean a few shots at higher ISOs, but better to have a noisy image than one ruined by camera shake. When shooting distant subjects with wide apertures the plane of focus will be very narrow, so precise focusing is critical. If possible, be sure to place your focus point over the animal’s eye, and use AF-C (continuous AF) so that the focus tracks the subject’s movement for as long as the autofocus button is engaged. Set your Drive rate to Continuous High and shoot in bursts when the animals do something interesting, or when the composition suddenly clicks, as this’ll give you a sequence of images which will hopefully include at least one sharp shot at the perfect moment.

Get down low when you’re shooting – you’ll get a more unusual angle and blurred foreground detail

work The angles Varying the height of the camera is very easy to do, but it can really give your photos the edge over the average punter’s snap, which is almost always taken from a standing position, so try shooting animals from up high or down low. When you get down very low to the

Varying The heighT of The camera is Very easy To do, BuT iT can really giVe your phoTos The edge oVer The aVerage punTer’s snap, which is almosT always Taken from a sTanding posiTion

use a POlariser tO remOve refleCtiOns If you only take one filter with you, make it a polariser. Polarising filters are an essential part of a landscape photographer’s kit for the deep blues they give to skies, but at the zoo their other strength comes in to play – the ability to cut through reflections. With animals behind glass, getting clean photos can be tricky. A polariser can cut through reflections in a way that couldn’t possibly be done with editing software. Fix it to your lens and turn the ring until the reflections are at their weakest. The difference can be startling, and it doesn’t just work on glass. A polariser also helps to tone down the glare you see on animal coats by cutting through the light reflected from shiny fur.

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ground with a long lens, you can create a nice sense of depth by blurring the nearby ground in the foreground of the shot. Not only does this draw the eye towards the distant animal, it helps to disguise the surroundings by minimising the space in the frame occupied by the ground. Blurring foreground detail like trees or plants can also serve to make the shot look more natural, as shooting through foliage makes it feel like the viewer is crouching in the undergrowth rather than watching from a fence. As well as the potential for an original angle, there’s another important effect that the height of the camera has: it subtly changes the connection between viewer and subject. Shot from above, the subject is seen as weak, while the viewer is dominant. Alternatively, viewed from below, the subject appears powerful as they hold the high ground. This is a technique movies employ all the time to portray characters as strong or weak. The same principle works for animal photographs. Shooting an elephant or a lion from below, so that they loom above the camera, will give them a sense of

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Go wild at the zoo

baCKGrOunD CheCK The narrow angle of view afforded by a telephoto lens means that even very slight changes in camera angle can result in entirely different backgrounds. Here, just stepping to the side or tilting the camera results in three very different shots. In the first, the lush green looks very vibrant, but it doesn’t

reflect the meerkat’s natural African desert habitat. In the second, the brown shed behind creates a neutral backdrop, but it’s a little bland. In the third photograph, taken from a slightly lower position, the blue sky works best, and the image could have been taken anywhere in the world.

PhOtOshOP sKills Once you get back to your computer, there are plenty of things you can do to make your zoo animal photos seem more wild. Photoshop’s Heal and Clone tools can help to hide annoying distractions. It’s probably not

wise to try to clone out an entire enclosure, but the odd stray fence post is easily removed with a quick swipe of the Spot Healing brush. The Crop tool will also help you get rid of edge distractions so that the animals stand out.

You don’t have to fit the whole animal in the frame – crop in close on striking patterns for beautiful abstracts

power that fits with their proud, majestic stature. It can also help to hide the surroundings at the zoo, as if you can find the right angle, you might be able to frame the animal against a simple backdrop of blue sky.

pack a macro Many of your subjects will require a telephoto or long zoom to fill the frame, but bring along your other lenses too. A macro lens is a very good performer at the zoo. Aside from the obvious ability

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it gives you to get close-ups and detail shots of the animals, it’s useful for wider shots. It’s often said that macros can be great portrait lenses, and portrait and animal photography share many of the same ingredients. Macro lenses usually have a focal length of around 100mm, which is a good option for the zoo as it’ll often get you close enough to fill the frame with animal subjects. In addition, macros usually have a fast maximum aperture, which means you can shoot wide open to blur the background. Of course, a wide maximum aperture also

allows you to shoot in low light, which can prove invaluable in darker corners.

pick ouT paTTerns Another way to hide the surroundings is simply to exclude them completely and crop in close to the animal’s body. With so many wonderful patterns and textures to choose from, it’s not difficult to find striking animal close-ups. Differences in lighting can also help to mask the surroundings. If the subject is in direct sun and the background in shade, then

exposing for the highlights is likely to leave the background in near-darkness. This can be very effective when shooting under a canopy of trees. Look for dappled patches of sunlight and wait for the animal to enter them, then expose for the highlights. It’s just as effective the other way around, too. If the subject is in shade, then expose for the shady part of the scene and the background will blow out. Over-exposing can give colours a washedout feel that dulls lush greens to make them look more parched, which fits with African subjects like giraffes.

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over to you…

s r e tt le r ou y s, e i r o st r Your pho tos, y ou 01 ANTeLOPe ArcH Nikon D800e, Zeiss Distagon 15mm f/2.8, 1/4 sec, f/8, ISO100

come on in!

Some subjects are simply irresistible – the sort of thing that you feel you have to get out there and capture. And somehow, you never quite feel you’ve got it, so you keep going back. Both of this issue’s photo stories feature irresistible subjects. Stan Ford travelled for hours to capture the colours and textures of Antelope Canyon in Arizona, while Andrew Fowler can’t get enough of photographing trains. Why not write in and tell us which subject you can’t resist?

get £50 for every photo story we publish!

capturing the canyons

Stan Ford was so captivated by images of Arizona’s Antelope Canyon that he simply had to photograph it for himself

iNside Over TO yOU…

74 ............................ Photo stories 78 .......................Portfolio review 80 ........................................Letters 83...... Photographer of the year

We WANT yOUr sTOries, PicTUres ANd LeTTers! seNd THeM TO: N-Photo Magazine Future Publishing Ltd Quay House The Ambury Bath, UK BA1 1UA Or drop us a line at:

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

74

project info MissiON To capture

An telope canyon

PHOTOgrAPHer S tan Ford Age 61 LOcATiON P alm Springs,

Cali fornia, USA KiT Nikon D800e, Nikon AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED, Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/4G ED VR, Zeiss Distagon 15mm f/2.8, Nikon AF-S 105mm f/2.8G VR WeB www. fotosbyford.com

The first photograph I recall taking was the day I met President Kennedy. That was four months before he was assassinated. I was nine, and it was the first time I’d used my Argus 126 camera, which my father had just given me. My serious interest in photography

began as a hobby in high school when a friend shared some photos he had taken at a Jimi Hendrix concert. I was hooked. I worked all summer to earn $34 to buy a Yashica 635. Since that time I have enjoyed taking photos, but it was not until I retired four years ago that I had the time to pursue it more. A friend made me aware of a photography workshop at the Ansel Adams Gallery. It involved full-moon photography and light painting. I had just purchased my first digital camera (a Nikon D700) and was thrilled to see what it could do at night. Whenever possible, I would use my new camera. However,

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

September 2015

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Your stories, your photos, your letters

03

02 cONTrAsTs Nikon D800e, Zeiss Distagon 15mm f/2.8, 1/3 sec, f/8, ISO100 I was not satisfied with my images. I signed up for another workshop at the Ansel Adams Gallery with Keith Walklet. It was exactly what I needed. Keith showed us how to find and use light, as well as how to ‘see.’ From a photographic perspective, it was life-changing. Today, 30,000+ images later, I can capture my world, thanks to Keith. One final workshop, Fine Art Printing with Charlie Cramer, brought it all together. It is obvious to me now that my destiny was to become a nature photographer. I graduated from college with a degree in Biology and have a masters degree in Natural Resources. When I study photography, it is landscape imagery that appeals to me. I have several preferred locations, but the Big Island in Hawaii is my favorite. My style is influenced by Keith Walklet, Ansel Adams, Jack Dykinga, Guy Tal and Charlie Cramer. For the past two years, I have maintained a photographic

P au l’pss… top t i

tourist attractions

• La ter in the day, you migh t encoun ter fewer tour groups • Try using a strong ND filter, tripod, and a long exposure to ‘remove’ people

‘bucket list.’ It is ever-changing and growing. One location that has always amazed me is Antelope Canyon in Arizona. The colours and textures of the canyon in images I’d seen didn’t seem possible. One day I woke up and decided I had to photograph it for myself, and fortunately for me it is only about eight or nine hours away. I did photo tours of both Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon. The canyons are very different, yet the same. The

upper canyon is above ground, larger and darker. The lower is below the surface, narrow, with better light. For example, in the lower canyon a typical shutter speed is 1/4-1/6 sec; in the upper, 30 seconds. I was told by the staff to “bring everything.” That was not the best advice. My research suggested using the widest possible lens, as well as a 24-70mm zoom. It was also a good idea not to change lenses, due to the dusty conditions. I ended up shooting mostly with my Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8, but I also used my Zeiss 15mm f/2.8. The challenge was to find the composition I wanted. There were so many lines, curves,

03 verTicALs Nikon D800e, Zeiss Distagon 15mm f/2.8, 0.6 sec, f/8, ISO100 shapes, textures and colours. All of this while tour groups walked through. Back at the hotel, I downloaded my images, and wow! It was everything I hoped for. Weeks later I still marvel at them, and have not decided which I like best and should print. My friends have already made their choice and my wife wants several. I look forward to returning in September / October to shoot again under different lighting conditions. I left too many shots behind.

My research suggested using the widest possible lens… it was also a good idea not to change lenses, due to the dusty conditions

To enter your Photo Story, just email a brief synopsis and three of your best JPEG images to mail@nphotomag.com www.digitalcameraworld.com

September 2015

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over to you…

01 61306 ‘MAyFLOWer’ Nikon D800, Nikon AF 28-85mm f/3.5-4.5, 1/400 sec, f/6.3, ISO200

project info MissiON To capture

a timeless steam railway scene PHOTOgrAPHer Andrew Fowler Age 37 LOcATiON P reston, England KiT Nikon D800, Nikon AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED, Nikon AF 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6D, Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM, Nikon AF 35-70mm f/2.8D, Nikon 85mm f/2 Ai-S WeB www.penwortham photography.co.uk

Blowing off steam

Andrew Fowler has been able to combine his passions for trains and photography to create some stunning images Trains have held a fascination for me since I was very young, particularly steam locomotives. My dad and his friends were keen enthusiasts in their youth, and growing up close to the West Coast Main Line I saw them every day. Both my grandfathers, my dad and one of my uncles were keen amateur photographers, so it was inevitable that I too would ‘get the bug’. When I was about 16 I started to combine both hobbies

and would go to preserved lines and railway centres, armed with my secondhand Nikon FM. I was given that well-used Nikon FM and an 85mm Ai-S lens by my uncle, who thought I was ready to progress from a ‘point and shoot’ compact. It was a very steep learning curve, but I soon managed to get to grips with the camera. Capturing trains on the move, however, was not so easy! I mostly shot in black and white, as I learned to develop and process film.

I gradually expanded my collection of lenses, and moved into the digital age with a Nikon D80 in 2006. This allowed me to keep my old lenses, but I soon found the 1.5x crop factor to be a serious limitation. I upgraded to a D700 as soon as it was launched, and this was replaced by a D800 three years ago. I always shoot in full manual mode and find that I can get great results with the D800 – the weather can change in an instant even as a train

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September 2015

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Your stories, your photos, your letters

03

02 FAirBUrN AT resT Nikon D800, Nikon AF 35-70mm f/2.8D, 6 secs, f/8, ISO200 approaches, so having the controls for aperture, shutter speed and ISO at my fingertips is absolutely vital. I find a good zoom lens is essential, too – a lot of lineside locations are tight for space, so the wide end of a zoom is often needed. Though inexpensive, the 28-200mm lens means that I have the chance to get multiple shots of a train approaching at high speed, but for most shots the 24-70mm f/2.8 is my stalwart piece of kit. On the occasions where I want to peer into the long tunnels between Liverpool Lime Street and Edge Hill, the Sigma 150-500mm is the only choice. Railway photography is a totally unique subject, and I’ve found it far more challenging to pursue than landscape or

portrait photography. In the UK, the times of ‘one-off’ or regular main line specials can be found on the internet. (A list of steam trains running on the main line can be found at www.uksteam. info and details of most heritage railways can be found at www. heritagerailways.com) Shooting trains on heritage lines is easier, as there will be a number of services running during the day. If you talk to the staff about the shots you’d like to take, they are often more than happy to assist you if you agree to share your photos with them. I run a number of photography charters myself each year under the ‘Lure of Steam Events’ banner on a non-profit basis. We charter a railway for a day, with a specified locomotive and train, plus staff and, on occasion, a

group of people in period dress to add extra life to a scene. Trains run at all times of the day and night, so I’ve had some very early starts, late finishes and ‘all-nighters’. Even steam trains are fast-moving, meaning plenty of light and a fast shutter speed are needed. Full-bore sun is considered by some to be the only suitable weather for railway photography. However, I’ve had some great results in heavy rain, under thick cloud and in very pale light – it’s just a case of adapting your location and shooting style to suit the conditions. My favourite photo was captured under gathering rainclouds at Smardale on the Settle & Carlisle line, when the clouds parted just enough to allow a shaft of sunlight to illuminate the locomotives and the front couple of coaches of a passing steam special. [3]

03 ‘15 gUiNeA’ AT sMArdALe Nikon D800, Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 XR Di LD, 1/500 sec, f/8, ISO320

P au l’pss… top t i

trackside shooting

• Never trespass on railway lines • Check wi th railway staff be fore shooting beside the track, and wear a high-vis vest • Ge t in to posi tion well in advance • Shoot a t differen t times of day to capture differen t moods 04 A ‘PriNcess’ ANd A ‘dUcHess’ AT NigHT Nikon D800, Nikon AF 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6D, 5 secs, f/8, ISO200

i find a good zoom lens is essential – a lot of lineside locations are tight for space, so the wide end of a zoom is often needed To enter your Photo Story, just email a brief synopsis and three of your best JPEG images to mail@nphotomag.com www.digitalcameraworld.com

September 2015

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over to you…

poRTFolIo ReVIeW

If you feel your shots aren’t quite hitting the spot, call on our experts for a portfolio review – just email mail@nphotomag.com You can also post your photos or portfolios to N-Photo Magazine, The Ambury, Bath, UK BA1 1UA

Action stations!

David Eales has really mastered shooting fast-moving subjects I have been a reader of N-Photo for a long time now. I started to read it about the same time as I took up photography. To ■ Since retiring, give me a good David Eales start, I thought has built up an that doing an impressive set of A-level in kit for shooting photography fast-moving would put me on subjects. So what the right course, techniques should but I came away he try next? quite dissatisfied. I have been on workshops where the pro would saturate the course with far too many people, so as a consequence no one got any input. I feel now that I am getting better – I’m not reading so much from mags and just go out and give it a go. When I retired, I said to myself that I would buy the best camera that I could afford at the time. Over the last few years I have upgraded gradually to what I have now. I started with a Nikon D700, then moved on to the Nikon D3s, and I have now moved on to the Nikon D4s; all these cameras are great, but the D4s has the edge in terms of resolution and frame rate. I have moved around a bit on lenses. The lenses I like are my

pRoFIle

24-70mm f/2.8, 70-200mm f/2.8, 16-35mm f/4 and 500mm f/4, plus a 1.4x teleconverter. I have a Manfrotto monopod, a Manfrotto tripod with a geared head, and a carbon-fibre tripod with a gimbal head. As far as filters go, I’ve got a few graduated filters and a big stopper ND filter for when I shoot landscapes.

N-PHOTO SAYS…

You’ve already mastered two of the most difficult aspects of photographing moving subjects, David: getting the subject sharp, and shooting them against a distractionfree background. Clearly you’ve got the right kit for what you want to photograph (we’d pick that 70200mm f/2.8 ourselves), and you really know how to use it. Shooting motorcycles tilting and BMXs in midair help convey the action in your images of vehicles. Your photos show that your camera is very steady when you take your shots, so a good step to take next would be to try introducing some panning blur to give an extra sense of speed. You’re good at anticipating where a moving subject will be, so you will probably find you’re a natural at it! Use a fairly high shutter speed to start with, to give yourself a chance to get your eye in, and lower the speed as you progress, to the point where it’s as low as it can go

while still keeping the subject sharp. Your gimbal head will be invaluable for panning shots, and it would be best to start with racing vehicles as they’ll follow a fairly predictable line – the birds will do whatever they like! You could also try capturing other aspects of bird behaviour. Photographing birds of prey as they dive for a kill (see page 50) or capturing seabirds just as they plunge into the water would be the next step on from your flight shots, and that would present a real challenge while still staying with a theme you love.

AHeAd Of THe CUrve Leaning over hints at the bike’s speed Glide PATH The distraction-free background makes this shot ridiNG HiGH The tree at the bottom right adds a sense of height SPreAd eAGle A fast shutter speed helps keep things sharp

eXpeRTs sAY Paul GroGan ■ Try using your 70-200mm to zoom in close on sporting subjects – instead of showing them in their entirety, crop in tight so you only seen the most critical part of the athlete or vehicle. It’ll give you a new way to look at them.

JaSon ParnEllBrooKES ■ Experiment with point of view, shooting either from up high or down low (the latter’s usually more achievable). Speeding vehicles and wildlife can both look more dramatic when seen from ground level.

ali JEnninGS ■ You’ve got some excellent kit. Adding a flashgun would enable you to use second-curtain sync flash, which, coupled with a slightly longer exposure, would add some motion blur while still keeping your subject sharp.

Need some help? Send us a selection of your shots for free professional advice from our resident photography experts 78

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Your stories, your photos, your letters

Onc e you’ve mastere d portrai ts of wil dli fe, the nex t step is to cap ture ani mal beh avi our (see thi s issue’s Appre n tice on page 8 for more)

To get your own portfolio reviewed, just email a brief synopsis and five of your best JPEGs to mail@nphotomag.com www.digitalcameraworld.com

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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, Quay House, The Ambury, Bath, UK, BA1 1UA

■ Keep your copies of N-Photo neat and tidy with our bespoke binder. Each stores a year’s worth of your favourite photo magazine – and costs from £9.99! Order yours today at… www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk/ n-photo-binder

YOU’LL gO gREY! I recently decided to upgrade my D7000 and go to full frame. On reading numerous reviews, my camera of choice was the D750. However, the RRP of £1749 (body only) was in excess of my budget. While checking out ebay, I found several companies offering the same camera, new, at between £1100 and £1500. Obviously these were ‘grey imports’. I was sorely tempted, but on reading various articles on the pitfalls of buying ‘grey’, in particular that they would not be guaranteed by Nikon, I decided against this route.

I happened to mention my dilemma to a ‘photo buddy’ in Portugal. He informed me that he had recently also upgraded to the D750 at a cost of ¤2050 from Niobo Cameras in Olhão. I frequently visit the Algarve so phoned Niobo, and on being assured their products were not ‘grey’, ordered one for collection on my next trip. With the UK pound currently trading against the Euro at £0.71, this worked out at £1455, a saving of £294. I have now registered my camera with Nikon, and having been purchased

Wait a couple of months, and street prices drop well below the RRP…

Win a SiRUi 3T-35 TabLETOp TRipOd!

within the EU, it qualified for Nikon’s guarantee. No wonder the term ‘Rip-off Britain’ is heard so often, when the same camera, built by the same company, is sold here in the UK at such a premium compared to prices overseas. Vic Balderson, Kent, England One reason we quote street prices for kit, Vic, is because after something’s been on the market for a couple of months the street price is usually lower than the RRP. At the time of going to press, it was possible to buy a D750, body only, for £1500 from a number of UK retailers, including reputable names such as Wex Photographic, Park Cameras, Jessops, John Lewis and Currys. UK readers, Camera Price Buster (www. camerapricebuster. co.uk) is great if you’re looking for the best prices on non-grey kit.

Write our Star Letter and you’ll win a light yet sturdy Sirui 3T-35 ultra-compact tabletop tripod. For more information head to www.sirui.co.uk for details!

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givE iT a gO Having just read the article on the landscape Apprentice I did, I just wish to thank Paul and Chris for such a fantastic opportunity. I have, since that day, won two silver cups from the camera club, one being for landscape photography and the other for ‘much improved beginner’. I think both of these are as a result of my Apprentice experience. So, if anyone thinks they would never have a chance at being picked for the Apprentice, all I would say is, you certainly won’t if you don’t send in the form… just go for it, it’s a fantastic experience. Jean Walley, via email Congratulations on your wins, Jean. We do keep details of Apprentice applicants on file, so everyone who writes in is in with a chance.

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Your stories, your photos, your letters air. Perhaps I should stick to the printer manufacturer’s consumables or use a lab! Peter Cutler, Worcester, England

Think bEFORE YOU ink! It was interesting to read your comparison between home and online lab printing in issue 48. One aspect which I hoped you would include is comparative permanence and the factors which affect it. I have noticed recently that some combinations of inkjet papers and inks can fade dramatically within months if exposed to light and

gREaT gUnS I have recently been to the Royal International Air Tattoo at Fairford in Gloucestershire, where the photography opportunities were amazing. One of my favourites of the day was the Apache AH 64 gunship, so I thought I would send you one of the pictures I took of it. This one was taken with

It’s worth investing in decent inks and papers if you are concerned about print longevity. Canon (we’ll say nothing about the cameras, but its printers are excellent!) claims its top-of-the-range Lucia inks can last up to 200 years in an album, 80 behind glass and 50 in the open air. Remember to store and back up your digital files safely, too. Check your back-ups every few months as they are, effectively, your negatives.

my Nikon D5100 and a Sigma 150-500 zoom lens at 1/200 sec and f/9. I did some editing in photoshop afterwards. Brian Rogers, via email That’s an atmospheric shot of a great aircraft, Brian – once all that smoke started billowing around, it must have made shooting quite tricky. Nicely captured!

RaCing LinE Many thanks for another great issue of N-Photo. I particularly found ‘The Need for Speed’ (The Apprentice, issue 49) useful, but with one glaring issue (for me at least). Both photographers were wearing ‘Media’-emblazoned waistcoats, which rather implied that they

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I’ve always loved photography, and have now taken the next step by signing up to an online course, and buying my first D-SLR, a Nikon D3300. I noticed your magazine in Sainsbury’s, and decided to give it a go. I spent an enjoyable hour reading through, and although I admit I was baffled by the technicalities and a bit intimidated at all the expensive kit, I was also completely inspired! I hope I can produce quality like some of the reader pics in the magazine! Can’t wait to get started. Acaycia Lewis, Nottingham, England

TWEETS & pOSTS…

Welcome to the world of Nikon photography, Acaycia. We try to have something for all levels of photographer in N-Photo, and our simpler tutorials are a good place to start, as they’ll take you step-by-step through making an image, and you’ll absorb information about the technical side of photography as you go. Tom’s tutorials on photographing shadows (page 54) and mirroring a skyline (page 60) are ideal. You don’t need fancy kit, though we do all love it! The important thing is to have fun with your new hobby, and to enjoy all the creative opportunities. would have had access to parts of the circuit with advantageous viewpoints that would be out of bounds to the rest of us. I have in the past attempted to get photographer’s accreditation at race circuits, with very limited success – normally just the smaller circuits. I would have loved to have read some advice on how to approach organisers

What did you think of the newly announced Nikon AF-S 200500mm f/5.6E ED VR and its £1180/$1400 price tag? Alright BUT it’s f/5.6 after all!. Sergio Natali AF will be sloooooowwwww! Edward Caliguri Very consumer build. I will wait to see how snappy the autofocus motor is at getting on target. I don’t expect much to be honest. Craig Houdeshell We also got your views on the six most popular lenses with digitalcameraworld.com readers No mention of the 35mm f/1.8 – shame on you for not mentioning the best lens I own. Rob Alderson The Sigma 10-20mm is not on that list. Every DX photographer that I know has that lens. Steve Burns I’m partial to my Nikkor 18-70mm lens, which takes extremely sharp photos. I also have the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D for portraits, and the Nikkor 55-200 mm with VR. Chris MacLeod

for a more successful results! Roger Newark, Cambridgeshire, England Getting accreditation will vary from circuit to circuit, Roger. Why not contact a specialist motoring publication (print or website) and see if they need images? It’s easier to get accreditation if you’re working.

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Welcome to the fourth month of N-Photo Photographer of the Year 2015, our monthly photo contest to unearth the world’s best amateur Nikon photographers. Every month we choose a theme and pick a winner based on that theme, and at The Photography Show 2016 we’ll be crowning the overall winner of N-Photo Photographer of the Year. And it isn’t just our panel of experts voting on your images; you can also vote on your favourite image each month thanks to our partners at Photocrowd. To enter, and have a shot at winning a fantastic Manfrotto 3N1-25 Pro Lite camera bag worth £200, just head to our competition page on Photocrowd (www.photocrowd.com.experts/ n-photo-team). NOTE: images that don’t include your name, a title and EXIF data won’t be considered. Inspired by this issue’s Apprentice, this month’s subject is local wildlife, and next issue we’ll be looking at food, giving you the chance to show off both your creative skills, and possibly your culinary skills, too! We’ll be looking for mastery of photographic skills rather than editing skills, so we’d like to see as little Photoshop editing as possible. Happy shooting and good luck!

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The world’s toughest tests

test team

January 2015

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competition

N-Photo Photographer of the Year

JudgeS’ vote wInner

01 02

Nikon D5200, Nikon AF-S 105mm f/2.8G VR, 1/160 sec, f/5.6, ISO200

01 dreamIng oF blue elena ParaSkeva

02 FrIendS agnIeSzka

03 IS that me? Stewart Jackman

04 the eyeS have It elena ParaSkeva

Here, light and colour are used to turn something as simple as a butterfly on a flower into something really striking. The subject is beautifully backlit, making it stand out against the deep blue of the background, while the relatively wide aperture has resulted in some sublime bokeh in the space to the left of the main subject. Simply superb!

Stags display at their best in the autumn. However, they’re extremely alert and will run if disturbed, so can be tricky to capture. A long lens and plenty of local knowledge and patience are vital for getting good shots of them. The judges liked the jackdaw cheekily perching this the stag’s back, adding to the sense of peacefulness in the scene.

Sparrows are one of the most common birds on the planet, but the fact that this one is clinging to the surface of a gazing ball adds interest and humour to what is a very strong wildlife portrait. The house reflected in the ball provides a real sense of setting too. This is wildlife at its most local, yet the result is far from everyday. It has a delicate, jewel like quality we love.

Getting this close to wildlife is a real skill; this ape is clearly familiar enough with its human neighbours to allow a picture to be taken at fairly close quarters. In fact, you get the feeling that he’s seen it all before! We especially like the control over depth of field in this shot, with the eyes and mouth in sharp focus, and everything else blurred out.

Nikon D3100, Nikon AF-S DX 55-300mm f/4-5.6G ED VR, 1/320 sec, f/5.6, ISO800

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N-Photo Photographer of the Year

Nikon D800, Nikon AF-S 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, 1/640 sec, f/7.1, ISO800

03 04

Nikon D5200, Nikon AF-S 105mm f/2.8G VR, 1/320 sec, f/5.6, ISO1400

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competition

N-Photo Photographer of the Year

05

Nikon D3300, Nikon AF-S DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR, 1/250 sec, f/8, ISO100 06

07

Nikon D90, Sigma 50-200mm f/4-5.6 DC OS HSM, 1/60 sec, f/8, ISO400

Nikon D800e,Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8 VR, 1/60 sec, f/5.6, ISO200

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N-Photo Photographer of the Year

Nikon D700, Nikon AF-S 28-70mm f/2.8D IF-ED, 1/800 sec, f/14, ISO200

08

crowd vote wInner

Nikon D7000, 1/100 sec, f/8, ISO400

09

05 wIlder mInd aleSSandro PaSSerInI

06 thIrSty badger clIve mowForth

07 PoSer JIm SharP

Our theme was ‘local wildlife’, and this shot displays the locality as beautifully as the creature that lives there. The freedom the wild pony enjoys is clear, as the hills and plains roll back behind it. The sky is as much a feature as the land, with the texture of the clouds echoing the rugged mountain landscape. Nonetheless, the pony is clearly the subject.

With their stripy faces, badgers make excellent photographic subjects – they’ve a full range of tones from black to white built in! The judges liked the way this one is watching the photographer, aware but not frightened, and the way that it is only seen in full as a reflection; it’s an unusual way of looking at a wellloved animal.

You get all ready to photograph local wildlife, and what do you know – the wildlife comes to you! The way this frog has decided to bask beside a Speedlight made the judges chuckle. While Jim could have cropped in tightly, leaving the flashgun in gives the image a real sense of humour, and shows the way that animals sometimes choose to interact with people.

Nikon D800, Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD, 1/2500 sec, f/6.3, ISO800 08 Seagull In yokohama leka huIe Gulls seem to inhabit modern cities as happily as people. The sun turns most of the cityscape here into a silhouette, backlighting the gull so its feathers stand out brilliantly against the dark background. Lit from the front, this shot would have been commonplace; backlit, the soaring bird creates a sense of freedom amid the built environment.

10

09 In the neSt zIl t

10 gannet charlIe davIdSon

You need to take care when approaching a subject like this, to avoid frightening it. It’s the sort of photo situation where local knowledge really comes into its own, because you’ll have had the chance to observe your subject and know when it’s best to approach. Zil has got the depth of field spot-on, with a nicely sharp eye and softer feathers in front and behind.

This gannet is a real star! The judges liked the asterisk shape it forms, and the superblurred background. Usually we’d advise against shooting birds from behind as they tend to be more photogenic flying towards you, but the fact that this one’s head is tilted to the side so you can see its eye, and the way its tail is fanned out, make this the exception to the rule!

NEXT MONTH: We’re looking for your best food images. They can be taken anywhere, at any time, but make sure they look tasty! For more details head to www.photocrowd.com/contests/337-fine-dining/

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Freeman on… ComPoSITIon

This month, our roving Nikon sage Michael Freeman explains why rules do not – and cannot – work for every image there’s no dial, button, menu option or firmware for composition, arguably the most important consideration in photography. Kit has nothing to do with it, which may be one reason why it gets little serious attention. Another reason is that there is no fool-proof formula, no reliably predictable technique, for doing it well, despite any advice you may have seen. If you think I’m being provocative, consider this: while focus, exposure, white balance and so on are things to get right, composition is all about being interesting, not correct. First, though, composition has a job to do. Like everything else in the process of creating a worthwhile photograph, it should have a

purpose. Indeed, it has more than one job to do, depending on the scene or the subject, and depending on what you are trying to achieve in the image. The three key jobs of composition are: first, to organise the image and create some kind of order out of the chaos of the world around us; second, to direct the viewer’s attention where you would like it to go, and so take charge of the viewing experience; and third, simply to add interest. This is why there really are no rules. The moment composition becomes too predictable, which is what rules of any kind are designed to do by definition, you lose a large amount of the viewer’s attention. In fact, if there’s one thing that almost counts as a rule when it comes to

composition, it’s ‘don’t be boring’. As I’ll try to show over the next few pages, there are practical techniques and principles that you can use to make your shots more appealing and engaging (maybe even more than they are already), but even here, you need to resist the temptation to follow them slavishly. The plan I’d like to suggest is to think about four kinds of decision: framing, placement, division, and dynamics. You don’t have to tick them off slowly one by one, but thoughtful composition means taking them into account.

Three similar subjects – bathers in Karnataka, India – make an immediate triangle, especially as one edge is aligned with the steps. The fourth bather adds some action to the image and fits neatly into the triangular shape

Exploit virtual shapEs Smooth lines and shapes help define a shot ■ By nature, the eye and mind are hard-wired to make visual connections, even if the connections we see have no basis in reality. Our visual system is always trying to find simple graphic structures in the scenes in front of us, especially in photographs. For example, in the shot of the bathers at the top of this page, three obvious subjects close to each other become, in our mind’s eye, a

90

triangle. We’re conditioned to make things complete. Similarly, we like to link different visual elements to make a smooth contour, such as a straight or curving line, regardless of what these elements actually are in the real world. If you take advantage of this when composing your images, it will usually make the image more interesting to look at. It adds, quietly, another small layer to a photograph.

September 2015

Virtual circles are surprisingly rare in real life, which makes them all the more desirable to capture. In this case, the moving arms of a line of dancers create a circle. A slow shutter speed is a tempting choice as it will create radial blur

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N-PHoTo’s NIKoN GURU

Our roving Contributor at Large, renowned professional photographer and prolific author Michael Freeman, presents a monthly masterclass that’s exclusive to N-Photo. Michael has published dozens of books on photography, including the bestselling Perfect Exposure.

90-94 Nikon Know-How

Composition! We all know the rules – but Michael’s got some ideas about breaking them, and how to create an effective image without relying on stale old formulae

96-97 Nikon software

100 Nikon Toolkit

98-99 Ask Jason…

101 Head to Head

Curves are among the most powerful digital darkroom tools you can use – so here’s how they work in Nikon’s free program, Capture NX-D

We’ve a new expert for you – but he’s got all the answers you want. If you’ve got a Nikon-related problem, write in and Ask Jason!

We help a reader decide on the camera and lenses that’ll meet his budget and help him to keep on (shooting) trucking…

Photographing wildlife calls for serious kit – and we’re pitting two top-notch Nikons against each other to see which is King of the Beasts

IN THE FRAME

DeCIDInG WHaT To InCLUDe In THe SHoT

Take charge of what part of the scene you’re going to pull out

Framing means deciding not only what to include within the viewfinder, but also what to leave out, which can be even more important, as it keeps your chosen elements in and the rest of the world out. You may have to decide what to include/exclude in much less than a second, for instance, and that’s too short a time to do any conscious thinking, so it’s important to train yourself to shoot intuitively… and that’s only possible through constant practice. Moving the rectangle of your viewfinder over the scene is, if only by a fraction of a second, the primary decision. Also (and this may sound obvious) when you buy your camera you buy into the camera format, which means the shape of the frame that the manufacturer chooses – in our case, Nikon. So,

that’s 3:2 for D-SLRs and CSCs, and 4:3 for most compact cameras. Of course, you can choose to shoot loosely, with the idea of cropping in a bit tighter later, but that’s a bit sloppy, not to say slightly indecisive – plus it means reducing the number of pixels in your finished image, which has implications when it comes to how big you can print it without it started to pixelate. There’s something satisfying about composing images just, and exactly, within the frame you’re given. To do this well you need to pay attention to what’s going on near the edges of the frame, because they attract attention. You can cut through anything you like, and align or even misalign an edge with something in the scene, but make sure that it’s deliberate and for a reason.

The idea of this shot, taken in Chennai, India, was to make use of the strong divisions, but in a disruptive way. This depended on cropping in tightly on the panels and keeping the man isolated in a tight upper corner

ThINKINg OuTSIDE ThE BOX ■ In the digital era, it’s extremely easy, even when shooting handheld in a fast-moving situation, to shoot a scene wider than the standard 3:2 ratio: simply pan the camera slightly to one side, take a second shot, then pan a bit more and shoot a third, and so on. You just need to overlap the frames by about half and stitching software will do the rest. however, shooting like this means composing in your mind’s eye. There’s no image preview to refer to, and this is a situation new to photography, that of having to imagine what the final image and frame shape will be.

www.digitalcameraworld.com

A handheld pan-and-stitch of a Dai village in southwestern Yunnan, China, executed in a few seconds with heavy overlap for ease of stitching. Adobe’s Photomerge performed the stitch automatically, with the Adaptive Wide Angle filter used afterward to straighten up the frame

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PRECISION ENGINEERING

THe arT oF PLaCemenT

If there’s an obvious subject within the frame, consider the nuances of its exact position – where is the best place for it? Placement is where – and why – you position your main subject (if there is one in the scene; sometimes there’s nothing that definite). It’s also how large in the frame that subject should be, from filling it to the edges to being part of a wider scene. Filling the frame is the most straightforward option, as it reduces the decision-making (though not completely, as there’s still a decision to make about how close to go to the edges ). Tight can look uncomfortable, but you might also see it as ultra-precise (below). Or you might prefer to have more

space around your subject. These are personal creative decisions. The smaller the subject is in your frame, the more important the decision about where to put it becomes (and please forget the rule of thirds as it’s an obstacle to being interesting). The context becomes more important as the subject becomes smaller, because they have a relationship – one of your choosing. If you position a small subject off-centre, for example, you give the setting more importance, and encourage the viewer’s eye to flick from one to the other (right). With a lone subject, the main question is usually: how big should it be in the frame? Here is a conventional framing of a puffin (left), and a tight crop (right), which has three areas, in red, that feel uncomfortable. This ‘just-fits’ approach has its own appeal in some situations

Eccentric placement, where the subject is away from the centre of the frame, is always more striking, but generally demands a reason of some kind, otherwise it can just seem perverse. Here, the logic is that the seafront buildings very obviously face out to the right, so including the girl moving in the same direction made sense

visual wEight and what it doEs to an imagE Some elements draw the eye more than others ■ Different subjects have different visual weights, meaning they draw more attention to themselves than their size or brightness might suggest. The human face is the prime example: even when a face is small in the frame, taking up just a few percent of the space, it draws the eye. And just the eye alone will do the same. Words and numbers also have significant visual weight, so if we see them in a sign in a photograph, our eyes involuntarily go toward them. That’s because we know words are meant to be read. Also, any compact, enclosed shapes attract attention, which is why circular objects also score highly for visual weight. Knowing all this, you can use varying visual weight positively – such as confidently keeping a face small in the frame, knowing that it will draw attention despite its size – or defensively – such as re-framing to avoid words on a T-shirt, which might draw the viewer’s attention away from where you want it to go.

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Faces and lettering all have extra ‘pull’ on the viewer’s attention. Eye-tracking shows the parts of this image of a Red Cross hospital tent in Sudan that have strong visual weight

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The only camera manual you’ll ever need

pErfEct harmony? A bit of tension does your composition no harm… ■ Balance satisfies a deepseated human need, and we understand it viscerally. We naturally see visual relationships, such as between two subjects in the same frame. More than that, we feel they ought to balance each other. Balance is about resolving two or more elements

that in some way contrast or oppose each other. It’s a way of arranging an image so that the result seems in some way ‘right’ and pleasing. however, there’s a big difference between this desire to balance things and actually satisfying that need. Our enjoyment of looking at images

is much more complex than that. A lot of the entertainment that people get from looking at photographs comes from unresolved tensions. Simply handing a perfectly balanced image to a viewer isn’t very interesting. An audience wants something to do visually. It wants a bit of a challenge.

The jarring composition here is unconventional and not necessarily pleasing, but it pulls the eye around the frame for a striking image

GET THINGS IN PROPORTION

DIVIDe WITHoUT rULe

In any shooting situation, there’s room for both conventional, harmonious division, and for the unexpected and challenging While not all scenes have anything to divide them into different sections, many do, and where there’s a clear separation on either side of a line, such as with a horizon in a landscape, you need to decide where that line goes within the frame: high, middle, low, to one side, and so on. For some reason, this seems to attract all kinds of formulaic advice, such as the rule of thirds, the golden section, avoiding the middle at all costs, and so on. In fact, it’s entirely shot-specific, meaning that the needs of a particular image and what you’re trying to do with it come first. A distinct horizon is the classic case that landscape photographers face, and there are two basic decisions: the first is what’s going on below and above the horizon. Is the sky interesting, could it dominate? What colour or brightness contrast is there between the ground and sky? Questions like these will usually lead you to a natural division, but the second decision can easily override these – how much you want to be conventional, or how much you want to challenge and be different.

The bright red frame of this horse-drawn carriage in Myanmar made it tempting to use a medium telephoto lens and crop in to create a strongly divided image, using the top-right quadrant for the woman

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ThE DEAD hAND OF ThE RuLE OF ThIRDS

■ This rather silly (in my opinion) instruction to divide pictures and place subjects exactly a third of the way into the frame still gets trotted out as a way of somehow magically improving the appearance of any photograph. Well, imagine how it would be if all photographs were composed like this. Ridiculous, yes? It was invented by a third-rate 18th century painter, John Thomas Smith, who misinterpreted a comment by Sir Joshua Reynolds, and it has been kept alive since then by people lacking visual imagination. Off-centering a subject is a fine and reasonable thing to do, and can make an image feel more balanced, but there are just as many other situations where dead-centre, or way off near an edge or corner, might be more appropriate. Composition always depends on a combination of the particular situation and how you want to interpret it. Apply a blanket formula at your peril.

Placing the far riverbank almost touching the bottom of the square frame was a device both for anchoring this image of the lower Amazon, and for providing a sense of scale for what is essentially a cloudscape – the tiny trees convey the towering height of the clouds. Placing the horizon always depends on the needs of the individual scene

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KEEP IT ENERGETIC

Go WITH THe FLoW Exploiting a sense of direction will usually result in a more dynamic image

The dynamics of an image involve the sense of movement, and how to treat it. This can be literal, such as a figure walking in or out of the frame, or virtual, such as an eye-line from someone looking in a particular direction – or simply a sense of energy from diagonal lines. With a figure or something that’s obviously moving, the viewer’s eye anticipates that the direction of movement – the vector, as it’s called – will continue, and so assumes it ‘will be’ further along that trajectory. Placing an entering figure right next to an edge or corner actually reads as less extreme for this reason. The most dynamic lines are curves and diagonals, because they’re very active, with a suggestion of direction and speed that’s missing in verticals and horizontals. Most diagonals in photos are the result of viewpoint. They are usually oblique views of

lines that are actually horizontal or vertical, and so are generally under your control. A diagonal can help lead the eye towards something you want the viewer to see. Curves share some of this sense of movement, and also have a progressive change of direction, which can even give a sense of acceleration.

Going against conventional advice to direct the viewer’s eye into the frame, this image was made to inject dynamism: the viewer’s gaze is pulled outward by the women, then back in

bE UNCONvENTIONAl

eXPerImenT Don’t be afraid to try out new ways of composing a shot Most people, and that includes your audience, have conventional assumptions. One is that the camera should be level and the horizon horizontal. Another is that everything important should be neatly enclosed inside the frame. This is reasonable and logical, but not necessarily very interesting. Photography is a creative activity, meaning it’s about expressing ourselves, having fun and entertaining people. You could, for example, tilt the camera, or cut subjects off at the edges of the frame. Expect more failures than successes when trying these things,

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and be prepared for the fact that others may not agree with your creative decisions, but also bear in mind that there’s nothing wrong with that! Try these for a start: 01 Angle the camera up, down, left, right. Make it suit the subject. 02 Tilt the camera to one side. It’s unconventional, but a strong choice nevertheless. 03 Zoom in or out. It’s easy and fast to try, but check the edges for things that cut into them. 04 Move physically (zoom makes us lazy). Even small body movements can result in major changes.

September 2015

A sergeant in the Greek Palace Guard, the Evzones, inspecting the hemline of a soldier. One of a series of images, this one, with just the sergeant’s head poking into frame, was by far the most interesting. It shows you don’t have to be afraid to cut things off!

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NikON kNOw-hOw

TAKE CONTROL WITH CURVES George Cairns shows you how to adjust tone and colour with Curves

JARGON BUSTER Key terms explained LEVELS

Tones are measured in levels. The blackest shadows have a level of 0. The whitest highlights have a level of 255. All other tones fall between these.

REMAPPING

By adjusting a curve’s anchor point you can change, or remap, the shot’s input (captured) levels to new brighter or darker output (edited) levels

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One of the most common challenges we face when shooting outdoors is to capture detail in both the bright sky and the darker landscape. If you set your camera to capture highlight detail then you might under-expose the shadows and midtones. Set it to capture detail in the darker areas and you risk blowing out the sky. You could produce a balanced exposure by popping a graduated neutral density filter over the lens to reduce the amount of light entering the top of the frame, but this won’t help with all high-contrast scenes. By shooting in your Nikon’s RAW format, however, you can ensure

September 2015

that there is plenty of tonal info to work with, even if it’s not visible when viewing the unprocessed version of the image. When you import your shots into Capture NX-D you’ll usually need to process them to tease out detail. The Edit panel’s Tone (Detail) tab features tone-specific sliders that enable you to make localised adjustments. Here you can claw back any missing highlight detail without under-exposing correctly exposed shadows. However, sliders such as Highlight Protection or Shadow Protection only work up to a point. If the contrast is too extreme then you might need to wheel out

Capture NX-D’s more powerful tone-adjustment tool: Curves.

Clever Curves

The Levels and Curves panel enables you to target a specific range of tones by placing control points along a diagonal line. This initially straight line overlaps a histogram that displays the shot’s unprocessed shadows, midtones and highlights. By dragging control points up or down you can lighten or darken a particular range of tones in the photo. This enables you to make more precise changes to a picture’s shadows or highlights independently of other tones in the image.

To download the start images for this tutorial, visit bit.ly/start-50


The only camera manual you’ll ever need

HOW IT WORKS EDIT WITH CURVES Use Capture NX-D’s Levels and Curves palette to fine-tune specific tones 01 Levels and Curves Click on this icon to summon the powerful tone-tweaking Levels and Curves palette.

Clarity By choosing the Latest Picture Control (instead of Camera Compatible), you can access the Clarity slider. Boost the amount to increase midtone contrast and make textures such as a building’s brickwork pop out. 02

03 Before and after It’s very easy to get carried away when you’re adjusting tone curves, inadvertently creating blown-out highlights, clipped shadows and even surreal shifts in colour hue. By clicking here you can see how your original image’s tones and colours compare to that of your edited version. This helps you stay firmly anchored in reality.

RGB Each image’s colours are produced by a mix of Red, Green and Blue channels. By default the Levels and Curves tool adjusts these RGB values simultaneously, which causes a change in tone. If you click this dropdown menu to target and tweak the curves of individual colour channels, then you can produce creative shifts in colour, as we explain in our three-step walkthrough below. 04

We clicked on the man in the boat’s black shirt to make this the darkest area in the image. 06 Set White Point This eyedropper enables you to set an area in the shot that should be a strong bright white (such as the background building’s window frames). It brightens up similar tones in the rest of the image. The eyedroppers make sure that you have some black shadows and white highlights, creating a nice strong contrast. Check out our video lesson to see these two tools in action.

Set an anchor point By clicking on the middle of the curve you can place an anchor point that acts as a barrier between the highlights and the shadows. You can then place anchor points on the left of this point and adjust them to lighten the shadows without over-exposing the highlights to the right of this point (or vice versa). 07

05 Set Black Point This eyedropper enables you to adjust contrast in a click. By clicking to sample an area that should be black you can darken similar shadows in the rest of the image.

08 Lighten the shadows Our start image’s shadows are under-exposed. We can place an anchor point on the left of the curve and push it up to lighten the shadows. Here we’ve used the curve to remap shadows with a dull input (captured) level of 59 to a brighter output (edited) level of 106. 09 Gamma After tweaking shadows, midtones and highlights individually, you can boost the shot’s overall brightness using this slider. 10 Adjust lighter tones This control point has taken lighter tones with an input level of 153 and given them a brighter output level of 177. This lifts the midtones.

whERE TO GET CAPTURE NX-D

It’s made for Nikons, and it’s completely free to download Capture NX-D is available as a free download from the Nikon website at http://nikonimglib.com/ncnxd/ It’s up to date with support for the latest Nikon D-SLRs, and as new models are introduced, Capture NX-D should be the first software to support them. Another key advantage is that it exactly replicates the Picture Controls, white balance and other settings of your Nikon.

NikON kNOw-hOw

USE CURVES CREATIVELY

Adjust the curves of individual colour channels to get the cross-processed look

Lighten red shadows

Open Creative_start.NEF via the link below. Click the Levels and Curves panel’s Auto Contrast icon. Drag the Gamma slider to 1.48. Target the Red channel. Place an anchor point in the middle of the curve. Drag a second shadow anchor point to remap input levels of 36 to output levels of 64.

Boost midtone blues

Next, go to the Blue channel and place another anchor point in the middle of the curve. Place a point to the left of the curve and drag it so that input levels of 72 are lightened to a brighter 114. This brings out more blues in the midtones, so adjusting the look and feel of the water.

To watch the video use this web link… bit.ly/NPhoto50

Add a pink hue

Go to the Green channel. Place an anchor point in the middle of the curve to separate shadows and highlights. Place a point in the highlight area to the right. Drag it to remap the green highlights from an input level of 153 to an output level of 169. This makes the clouds’ highlights look pinker.

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Get in touch…

Ask Jason...

If you’d like Jason 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, Quay House, The Ambury Bath, UK, BA1 1UA

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

I use a D3200 to take shots at gigs. Most are in dens with poor lighting, and at times I struggle to get shots of the calibre I would like. Could a D750 and new lens be the answer? Cash is a factor

Bazza Mills, via email

Jason says… Bazza, this is something I’ve been playing with for years and I think I have the solution for you. Modern camera bodies have pretty good ISO handling and built-in noise reduction. Although a D750 is absolutely fantastic in low light and will certainly make it easier to shoot gigs, it might not be necessary if you’re on a budget. Instead, get some decent glass. If you have a quality lens with a wide aperture, you can keep your shutter speed relatively fast to freeze the action. A better lens will give you a sharper photo, less colour fringing (which is particularly difficult to control with stage lights) and should increase your hit rate. If you’re on a budget, get a 50mm f/1.8, or a 50mm f/1.4 if you are able to spend a bit more. Shoot wide open at f/1.8 or f/1.4 to make that shutter speed quicker. If you can invest in something more substantial, then yes go for the Nikon D750. I upgraded to this powerhouse a while ago for this very reason and haven’t looked back. Pair it with a 50mm f/1.4 or a 70-200 f/2.8 and you’ll be laughing. Vibration reduction also plays a big part in getting a successful image in gig conditions, so if you’re going for the 70-200 f/2.8, get the VR or VR II versions (VR II allows you to shoot four stops slower than you would be able to without).

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I’m about to buy an Android tablet, but have been unable to find any advice on photo software that will I currently have a Nikon D3100 with enable me to easily standard kit lens, plus a 55-300mm DX process my .NEF lens. My favourite genres are landscapes, RAW files wildlife and sport. Would you recommend Leslie Donaldson, via email upgrading to a D3300 or a D5500, and will my lenses be compatible with both? Jason says… Leslie, some of the best RAW editing apps for Android are reported to be Photo Mate R2, RawDroid and RawVision. If you can give them a go on someone else’s tablet first, you’ll be able to see which app is right for you, as they all vary in terms of layout and how they work. With regards to the tablet itself, you will just have to check the minimum specifications required to run your chosen app (this information is usually found in the app description). Do take the time to check the screens of possible tablets in-store before purchasing – after all, if you’re editing photos you want it to be as bright and clear, and as high resolution, as possible.

Ian Anear, via email

Jason says… Ian, both lenses you mention will work on the newer bodies. In regards to the camera upgrade, I would recommend going for the D5500. The D3300 is still an entry-level camera and too similar to the D3100 to see much difference in image quality. The D5500, on the other hand, has a newer Expeed 4 processor, and Nikon has removed the optical low pass filter which gives sharper, higher-quality pictures. The D5500 also has the benefit of built-in Wi-Fi, and an articulating touch-screen rear LCD, which is great for awkwardly positioned wildlife. It also has a deeper hand grip, making it more comfortable to hold when shooting sports.

The Nikon D5500 has all sorts of features, including built-in Wi-Fi and a touchscreen LCD, that make it a great upgrade

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The only camera manual you’ll ever need

Could you tell me the difference between View NX-i, Capture NX-D, Capture NX-2 and picture Control Utility 2?

On a DX camera, any 24-70mm lens will perform like a 36-105mm lens

What is the best secondhand 18-200mm lens for a Nikon D700? Howard Sinclair, via Facebook

Geoff Kimberley, via email Jason says… Geoff, Capture NX-D is a dedicated RAW processing software, meaning you can use it edit your RAW (.NEF) photos. It is the successor to Capture NX-2. View NX-i is an application to view and organise your images. Picture Control Utility 2 allows you to create and adjust custom Picture Controls. These can be saved onto a memory card and loaded onto a camera as well as be used on the computer. Picture Control Utility 2 is included within Capture NX-D and View NX-i.

Wouldn’t a 24-70mm DX lens on a D90 give the same field of view as a 24-70mm FX lens on a full-frame camera?

Mark Sherman, via email

Jason says… Mark, this used to confuse me too. If I’ve understood your question, you’re suggesting that lenses are named based on their field of view, so that, say, a 24mm DX lens attached to a DX camera would be considered as ‘wide’ as a 24mm FX lens on a an FX (full-frame) camera. However, this isn’t the case: a 24mm DX lens attached to a DX body will ‘behave’ like a 36mm lens, so not quite as wide. With any DX lens you have to multiply the focal length by 1.5 to get the ‘equivalent’ focal length. This is why kit lenses for DX cameras are typically in the 18-55mm range; on a full-frame SLR, 18mm would be considered ultra-wide, but on a DX body it’s actually more like a standard wide-angle.

SECONDHAND SUPERSTAR

NIkoN AF-S TC-17E II

The Handbook for my D3200 will not install from the disc John Fletcher, via email

Jason says… John, the D3200 camera manual is available here: www.bit.ly/1y4meih

kEy poINTS Optical conversion

The 1.7x optical conversion factor gives compatible lenses a 70 per cent increase in overall focal length.

This teleconverter extends your telephoto reach by 1.7 times, which means you can get closer to your subjects without having to move. So, to give an example, it will convert a 300mm lens into a 510mm lens in an instant. The only thing you have to bear in mind is that this is at the expense of your lens’s maximum aperture (so an f/2.8 lens will become an f/4.8 lens). There is also a (very) slight loss of optical quality, though you’d be hard pushed to spot it, and this is more than outweighed by the obvious weight and cost advantages.

Integrated coating

The TC-17E II is especially useful for wildlife (see page 8) and sport, two disciplines which often require you to stay in a fixed position, far away from your subject. Since you’re getting in so close, though, it’s very important to stabilise your camera; a tripod comes in handy here, or failing that, a solid monopod. And best of all, at just 31mm deep, the TC-17E II is small enough to slip into a pocket, which certainly isn’t something you could say about a 500mm prime lens – or any other long lens for that matter.

Jason says… The 18-200mm lenses are for DX bodies only, Howard. The Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 ED VR will capture almost the same focal length range on a full-frame body. If you’d prefer a third-party lens, Tamron makes the 28300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD, which is fractionally cheaper.

RRP when released (2004): £349 ($549) Used price: £175-£200

Reach out and get the shot you need with this small but invaluable addition to your camera bag

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ANSwERS iN A flASH!

This reduces flare and helps keep colours faithful.

Light reduction

You lose 1.5 stops of light with this, so an f/2.8 lens will work as an f/4.8 one.

Lens limitations

Works with AF-S, AF-I and VR telephoto lenses only. Lenses with a maximum aperture of f/4 need to be focused manually.

SpECS Mount : Nikon F

Compatible format(s): FX, DX, FX in crop mode, 35mm film Autofocus: Yes, but only on lenses with a maximum aperture wider than f/4 Weight: 250g Dimensions: 66 x 31.5mm

JASON’S ViEw…

Visit http://bit.ly/1efnx5G to see if this teleconverter is compatible with your lenses. While you’re saving almost half the cost of the newer Mark III version, the compatible lenses are all from Nikon’s pro-quality range, and are therefore rather pricey.

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NIKON TOOLKIT

KIT ME UP FOR... SHOOTING TRUCKS Taking photos of trucks from motorway bridges is the main event for Mike Harland – so what kit will help him with it? I have a Nikon D5100 that I normally use with a Tamron 18-270mm zoom lens. Much of my photography is of moving lorries. I also enjoy taking scenic shots, and am into travel photography. I therefore need an outfit that’s easily portable. Can you recommend a camera and lens upgrade please? I’m wondering whether it’s best to go for another superzoom lens, or to buy separate standard and telephoto zoom lenses. I like the convenience of a superzoom, but am a bit worried that it might compromise image quality. My budget is around £800 to £1200. Mike Harland, UK

OTHER ACCESSORIES N-PhOTO chOIce

Nikon D5500 body £560/$900

Sigma 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 OS | C £400/$580

Launched back in 2011, the 16.2-megapixel D5100 is starting to show its age. The D5500 boasts a much higher resolution 24.2Mp sensor plus an image processor that’s two generations newer. Other key enhancements include a 39-point autofocus system, and a faster five-frames-per-second burst rate. The autofocus and continuous drive mode upgrades are particularly useful for tracking moving targets.

The original Tamron 18-270mm lens had a fairly noisy, sluggish autofocus system. The newer PZD edition boasts a quieter ultrasonic motor. Either way, it’s outclassed by Tamron’s new 16-300mm. However, if you’re looking for a replacement, our current favourite DX-format superzoom is the even newer Sigma 18-300mm, which maintains greater sharpness at the long end of the zoom range.

budgeT chOIce Nikon AF-S DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II £230/$250

Nikon AF-S DX 55-300mm f/4-5.6G ED VR £270/$400

At 585g the Sigma 18-300mm isn’t exactly light. The Mk II edition of the Nikon 18-55mm is comparatively tiny and weighs just 195 grams. There’s therefore a lot to be said for using it for general shooting, and switching to a telephoto when you need reach. The most cost-effective way to buy one is as a ‘kit’ with the D5500, above – the price of £600/$850 means you’re only paying about £40/$100 for the lens.

Telephoto zooms are often hefty, but this one is designed for DX-format cameras and is relatively compact and lightweight at 530g. That’s less than the weight of Sigma’s 18-300mm superzoom. We’ve been impressed with its image quality, boosted by the inclusion of two Extra Low Dispersion (ED) lens elements, to help minimise chromatic aberration. Other attractions include quiet autofocus and VR.

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Manfrotto MK055X PRO3/498RC2 kit £170/$360

Lowepro Lens Case 9x13cm £18/$20

With its maximum height of 183cm, this tripod is tall enough to ‘see’ over the barriers on motorway bridges. The adjustable friction damper on the ball head enables easy panning too.

Keep your spare lens out of harm’s way with this soft case. It’s designed to absorb impacts and safeguard lenses from dust and moisture. The ‘SlipLock’ tab enables easy attachment to belts or straps.

Hoya Pro1 Digital Protector Filter £35/$35

Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM £385/$650

Protect the front element of your lenses from grime with one of these filters. They’re multi-coated to reduce ghosting and flare, and have a low-profile design. Prices vary with attachment size.

Get a new perspective on trucks and travel photo opportunities with this ultra-wide zoom lens. It’s well built, gives a truly massive maximum viewing angle, and is a top-value buy.

Ask us for help! Are you struggling to choose the right piece of kit? Perhaps you need a tripod for your travels, or the perfect lens for the subjects you like to shoot? E-mail us at mail@nphotomag.com with the subject ‘Toolkit’.

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The only camera manual you’ll ever need

HEAD TO HEAD

Best D-SLR for wildlife

If you were lucky enough to win this issue’s Photography Safari Competition on page 20, should you opt for Nikon’s highest-resolution D-SLR, or its fast-shooting flagship model?

vS

NikON D810

NikON D4s

SpecS Full-frame 36.3Mp CMOS Sensor Full-frame 16.2Mp CMOS ISO64-12800 (expands to 32-51600) ISO ISO100-25600 (expands to 50-409600) Multi-CAM 3500 (51 points – 15 cross-type) AF Multi-CAM 3500 (51 points – 15 cross-type) 1/8000 sec-30 secs plus bulb Shutter speeds 1/8000sec-30 secs plus bulb 5fps for 23-58 RAW files Max drive rate 11fps for 36-176 RAW files 1 x CF and 1 x SD Memory cards 1 x CF and 1 x XQD 146x123x82mm Dimensions 160x157x91mm 980g Weight 1350g £2350/$3300 Price £4450/$6500

Extra reach The D810’s headline feature is its 36.3-megapixel image sensor. As well as delivering exceptional levels of fine detail and texture, the camera can also produce relatively large 15.3-megapixel images in DX crop mode, when you need to stretch telephoto reach. Beautifully balanced Relatively compact and lightweight compared with the D4s, the D810 is less of a load to lug around. It’s still big and weighty enough to feel well balanced with hefty telephoto lenses, though, and the layout of controls enables quick access to important shooting settings. Noise control The standard sensitivity range of ISO64-12800 can be stretched to ISO32-51200 in expanded mode. That’s pretty good, but it’s a lot less generous than in the D4s and, even at mid-range ISO settings, image noise is much more noticeable in shots taken on the D810. Two-speed shooting A fast burst rate is a real challenge for the D810, due to the size of its 36.3-megapixel images. It tops out at a pedestrian five frames per second and has a RAW buffer depth of 23-58 shots. However, the drive rate rises to seven frames per second in DX crop mode. All in the detail When used with top-end lenses and reasonably low ISO settings, the ultra-high pixel count of the D810 reveals astonishing levels of detail. It’s a major bonus if you can’t get quite close enough to what you’re shooting and need to crop in, either in-camera or later in post.

VERDICT www.digitalcameraworld.com

FEATURES

Size matters The D4s’s modest 16.2-megapixel image sensor brings advantages in both maximum drive rate and sensitivity (see below). Both cameras feature the same advanced exposure metering sensors and 51-point autofocus modules, with 11 AF points available at f/8.

HANDliNg

Added extras The D4s’s built-in grip gives it superior handling for portrait-orientation shooting, which is useful for wildlife photography. The secondary rear LCD and lower rank of controls for ISO, quality, white balance and Live View/video are an extra refinement.

SENSiTiviTy

Sensitive soul Even in its standard range, the D4s has a mighty sensitivity range of ISO100-25600, and it stretches to a whopping ISO50-409600 in expanded mode. It’s a big advantage when you need to keep shutter speeds fast for wildlife action shots in dull lighting conditions.

DRivE RATE

Speed demon The D4s is very fast, shooting at 11 frames per second complete with AF and metering between successive shots. That’s a major upgrade over the older D4. The buffer depth is bigger than the D810’s, at 36-176 RAW files, depending on bit depth and compression settings.

imAgE qUAliTy

Clean sweep It’s very similar to the D810 in terms of colour rendition, contrast and other image attributes. However, while the D4s is relatively lacking in its retention of very fine detail, it delivers cleaner, noise-free images at medium to high ISO settings, with greater dynamic range.

The D4s is more than twice as fast as the D810 in terms of maximum burst rate, and it delivers cleaner images at high ISO settings when you need fast shutter speeds under dull lighting conditions. Overall, it’s better suited to wildlife action shots. However, the D810’s super-high megapixel count makes it superior for capturing exquisite levels of fine detail, or for cropping either at the shooting or editing stage when you need to boost your telephoto reach.

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make cash with your nikon Once you’ve got a small collection of nice images, it only takes an hour or two to set up an online portfolio

Creating a website

make cash with your nikon 05 SET UP AN ONLINE PORTFOLIO

Having a presence online is essential for promoting your work. Here, Chris Rutter explores the various options available Getting your images online is the best way to get your work noticed, gain new clients and even sell prints to customers that you could never reach in any other way. The internet gives you the chance to showcase your work in a way that’s accessible to people around the

Photo-sharing sites If you want to get your images online without the hassle and expense of setting up your own website, then the simplest way is to use a photo-sharing site such as Flickr, 500px or Pinterest. These offer a great way to get your images on the web, and are usually free to use. They are particularly good if you are prepared to put in some time and effort to join groups and communities on the site, which will help gain

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world, not just on your doorstep, and even to be found by magazines and professional picture editors. Of course, the web can be a big, confusing place where it’s hard to get noticed amid the sea of images already available, and you might also be worried

about the possibility of image theft if you display your best shots publicly. So, in this instalment we take a look at how to get your shots online, how to protect them, and how to get people to find them using everything from a personal website to social networking.

your images more views and exposure. They are also perfect for linking to social media such as Facebook or Twitter, which can also help improve the exposure of your images to as many people as possible.

Website oPtions While photo-sharing websites are great for getting your images online, having your own website can be a more versatile and productive way of selling your images and services,

September 2015

Don’t forget to include some way to be contacted via your website or portfolio page – we’ve found several of our cover photographers via sites such as Flickr and 500px

www.digitalcameraworld.com


If you’re setting up your website to promote your photography, stick to the subject, and don’t be tempted to shoehorn your other hobbies or interests into it

and can also look much more professional. There are several ways of producing a website, from building it yourself to using one of the many all-in-one photography website providers such as Clikpic, Smugmug, Zenfolio or Photium. If you are ‘tech-savvy’ and want a bespoke site, then it’s not difficult to build your own website. To start with, you’ll need a web hosting service, along with a domain name, which you may need to buy and register separately, although often this can be done through

the web hosting company. Once you have this set up you can start to build the actual site using a platform such as Wordpress or Joomla. The all-in-one providers offer a simpler solution than building your own site as you don’t have to design the site from scratch or worry about separate hosting, as this is part of the package. You can either use an existing domain name or purchase one through the website provider. Then all you need to do is select a template from their site, upload your

While photo-sharing websites are great for getting your images online, having your own website can be a more versatile and productive way of selling your services

images and add a few words. This option may cost a little more than building your own site, and may not offer quite as many custom options, but it’s much more convenient if you don’t have the time, knowledge or interest in designing your own site. Many of these providers also offer a bespoke service, where you can have a website built to your own design without having to do it yourself. This option costs more than the others, but will give your website a unique appearance and design.

basic design Whether you build it yourself or use a template, you should generally try to keep the design and layout of your website simple, clean and uncluttered. If you are simply showcasing your images this is extremely important, as you don’t want anything to take attention away from these, but being easy to navigate and clearly laid out is advantageous to any website. An additional advantage of simplicity is that a streamlined design can also make your site easier to use on the smaller screens of phones and tablets, which is becoming more important as more and more

i did it! Laurence sWeeney ■ N-Photo reader Laurence Sweeney started his photographic business almost one year ago. Here are his thoughts about, and experiences of, setting up a professional-looking website. “Any potential client will expect a pro to have an attractive website displaying examples of their work and services. I undertook desktop research and read numerous magazines, including N-Photo. I also looked at the sites of other photographers. After purchasing my domain via a hosting provider, I chose the Wordpress platform and a photo theme. I thought that I would have the skills to build it myself but I soon realised that I would need support. I turned to Zealous Web Design, who made the site easily updatable and provided some flexibility in terms of future-proofing. It took about a month to get things up and running and I am still tweaking things – for example, I am now setting up a shop area for my landscape sales. I am very pleased with the outcome, and I continue to ensure that the site remains relevant and visually interesting. In retrospect I wish I had engaged with the web design company from the start.” You can see more of Laurence’s stunning photography at his great-looking website at: www.laurencesweeneyphotography.com

www.digitalcameraworld.com

If you want something unique but feel your website design skills are lacking, a bespoke site could be your best option

GoinG Pro: Month 5 every month, graham Parker will be sharing what he’s been up to on his journey to turning pro. this month, he’s been mixing business with fun in Kenya… Running your own business is a worry if the work isn’t flooding in, but you need keep to going and stay positive. Every once in a while something fantastic happens. A very good friend of mine, Chris, is also a photographer, and I have second-shot for him once at a wedding. He asked if I was interested in doing another one. Of course I said yes. It turned out the wedding was going to be in Kenya! That was 12 days, all expenses paid, covering one wedding, one engagement session and a family portrait session, so I’d also have lots of time to explore, and hopefully shoot some wildlife. The trip was all go. The cathedral, where the wedding took place, was an amazing building and the light was fantastic. We got some great shots, even the formal ones (where it was like a rugby scrum for me, as I was hanging back looking after all the kit and trying to get some candid shots of the event). Then it was off to the reception, which was like no other reception I have ever been to! The engagement session in the grounds of a beautiful hotel also went well. The couple felt a little awkward at first, but they soon relaxed and the images were great. The final job, the family portrait session, was also fun. The rest of my time in Kenya was spent touring around national parks looking for animals. I also visited a giraffe sanctuary and an elephant orphanage. As you can see from this month’s Apprentice, these creatures are amazing, and I was glad that I had some large-capacity SD cards with me! I guess the lesson here is that while second-shooting for another pro may not sound that exciting, you never know where it might lead...


make cash with your nikon people access the web on these devices. To boost this further, you should also look for templates and designs that are ‘mobile friendly’, which means that logos, text boxes, buttons and images are resized for these smaller screens. Along with coming up with a design you’re happy with, make sure that there is plenty of information about you and the photographic services that you offer. This is particularly important if you are trying to promote an offline photographic business, but even if you only want to sell prints online, people are much more likely to trust you enough to buy prints if they can find out some information about you and your photography.

PreParing your iMages With any photography website, the images are the key to its success, so you need to make sure that you resize, sharpen and save the ones you’ve chosen for your portfolio so that they look their best on screen. They also need to be small enough to load quickly on your site,

in the know 10 tiPs for setting uP your oWn site

■ Tim Hunt, Marketing Director for Clikpic, a leading provider of websites for photographers and artists, shares his ten top tips for setting-up your own website. 1 The clearer your marketing strategy is, the easier it is to get your website right. 2 In particular, be clear who your target market is, what you are

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Creating a website

Photoshop’s ‘Save for web’ option enables you to check the approximate download times of your image at various quality settings

because users aren’t going to wait ages for photos to become visible. You can do this using the normal resizing and save options, but both Photoshop and Elements include a handy ‘Save for web’ option in the File menu, which allows you to preview the effects of the different sizing and JPEG compression options before you save the image. This can help offering, and how you differ from your competitors – then make sure your website reflects this in the split instant someone looks at it! 3 Likewise, be clear why you have a website in the first place. 4 Do some work on which phrases you think people will use when searching (Google has some excellent free tools) and include these on your website. 5 Have a clear call to action, such as a contact form or clearly signposted telephone number. 6 Keep it simple (especially the navigation) and let your photos do the talking. 7 Don’t ramble on! Users will be put off by too much text. 8 Generally speaking, quality is better than quantity when showcasing your work. 9 Ask some trusted friends or contacts to look at your site and give you constructive feedback. 10 Finally, don’t be put off by your lack of online skills! You can find out more about the various website and design services available from Clikpic by visiting www.clikpic.com

September 2015

you to achieve the best balance between file size and image quality without having to guess at which settings to use through the normal save options.

iMage theft The theft of images online is an ever-present threat to the income and artistic integrity of photographers, so you should take some basic precautions to avoid your images being used without your permission by other sites. To help their traceability you should make sure that your name and contact information is in the copyright and data fields in the metadata of your images. You

should also add a watermark to your images, which includes your name or company name, to deter people from copying your images. These won’t prevent people stealing your images if they are determined to, but these simple steps will make it less likely.

getting found onLine There’s no point having the best website in the world if nobody knows it’s there, so getting your website found online is as important as the content and design of the site. You should start by promoting your website as much as possible, through friends, family and on social

Image theft is something that worries a lot of photographers. Watermarking your photographs will make it immediately apparent who the copyright belongs to

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Creating a website

dos and don’ts of settinG uP a Photo website

do

■ Make sure you update your website with new images and other content regularly as this will help improve both the visitor experience and the SEO of the site. ■ Try including a blog about your photography on the site, as this can also be a useful tool for helping your search rankings, but make sure you keep adding to it. ■ Keep the site simple and clean, with clear links within the site to help visitors easily navigate their way around it.

don’t

■ Try to put every single image and all of your content online at once. Once you have a reasonable amount of work online, it’s much better to update the site gradually and regularly. ■ Expect people to find your site without spending the time to keyword your images and include relevant text in headers and straplines.

media. This can help start driving traffic to your site, but for the website to really succeed you need it to be found among the millions of other sites on the web, which is where the world of search engine optimisation (or SEO) comes in. There are loads of books, guides and even companies offering to help with the SEO of websites, but before you start spending loads of cash on these you need to make sure that you have the basic elements in place to make your site as searchengine-friendly as possible. For this, you need to put in place a few simple things on your website, so that it can be found by search engines such as Google. No search engine can easily recognise images on their own, so you should start by making sure that all of your images have plenty of keywords attached to them (you can do this easily in Lightroom or Capture NX-D). Keywords should include the location or

Keywording your photos will help make them more likely to rank highly in search engine image searches

subject, along with more words that people are likely to search for that describe the picture and its contents. Search engines will scan the text on your site, but this is often limited to the first few lines, such as the header and strapline of the copy, so you need to make sure that these areas of the text have as many words or phrases that describe the content and that people are likely to search for. You should also try to include links within your site to different pages. Along with what is on your site, you should also try to get as many links back from other websites as you can. First of all you can link it to any social media accounts that you have, then you can also ask other sites to link back to yours. This shows search engines that your site has content that is interesting enough for others to want to link to, which improves its search rating. All of these elements are only the start, though, as you should also make sure that the site, text and content are updated regularly to indicate that the site is active. But while

While you can make some cash from selling prints directly from a website, for many photographers it’s more useful as a marketing and promotional tool www.digitalcameraworld.com

updating these areas is good for your ranking with search engines, avoid making changes to the main layout and elements of the site, especially the home page, as this can have a detrimental effect.

PayMent integration If you want to sell items directly from your website it’s worth using one of the direct payment systems such as PayPal on your site. Most website providers or platforms will allow you to accept direct payment for items by using a system like PayPal. These systems are much more convenient and trusted by most users than sending cheques or transferring money.

hoW Much tiMe WiLL it aLL taKe? You can get started with some images on a photo-sharing site in an evening, but getting a basic website up and running will take around a week, depending on how many images you want to put online. With a more complex site, especially if you are designing it yourself, it could take a month to get everything set up. But this is only the starting point, as a successful website

needs to be constantly updated with new images and content, and you also have to factor in the time needed to make sure that social media and online networking is helping to drive traffic to your site. This all means that you can get started getting your images online very quickly and easily, but expect it to take a few months before you really start to reap the rewards of this approach. You also need to set aside a few hours each week to keep the site updated and make use of social media.

hoW Much Money can i MaKe froM My site? While you can make some cash from selling prints directly from a website, for many photographers it’s much more useful as a marketing and promotional tool, enabling potential clients to see what’s possible. So, it’s hard to put actual figures on what income a website will generate, but for a wedding or portrait photographer a good website can bring in a significant proportion of your customers, while selling prints directly can generate a small income as long as you take the time to promote your site and images.

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-my big break-

ThE UndErClAss 1992 was not a good year in the UK. The Queen called it her “annus horribilis”, after a fire had blazed through Windsor Castle and her son, the Prince of Wales, had separated from Princess Diana. For the rest of the population, a prolonged recession saw unemployment soar to nearly three million, and a rising number of impoverished families struggling to get by in Britain’s inner cities. Referred to as ‘The Underclass’ by politicians and media commentators, it was the publication of this picture of five-year-old Katrina Williams on the front page of The Independent that finally depicted the reality of the phrase. The photographer was Craig Easton, a young freelancer who had spent a week with the Williams family in Blackpool. “The fact that The Independent gave it the whole of the front page was extraordinary,” says Craig. “It just had the masthead at the top with that picture. That was it. Back then The Independent was a broadsheet, so that was the shape of the front page. What I felt was significant was the fact that it wasn’t a hard news story. It was a social issue. This phrase, ‘The Underclass’, was being bandied around in a way that it had started not to mean anything to anybody.” Although The Independent was prepared to put a social issue on the front page, it was a French newspaper that commissioned the story. “It was shot for Liberation in 1992. There were six children in the family. They were living in a council-run hostel and just struggling to make ends meet. The father worked as a mechanic. They were lovely and accepting, and opened up to me and Fabrice, the journalist. They knew the wider impact of this story and were prepared to be the family that represented this phrase, ‘The Underclass’.”

The breakthrough

While Liberation used a series of images as a photo story, The Independent ran this picture to publicise Children in Need day. The public response was extraordinary. “The letters that came in, people said

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that picture looked like a Bill Brandt Craig Easton has twice been voted one of the best 200 photograph from Advertising Photographers Worldwide. his clients include the 1930s, but this Barclays Bank, Aviva, nasdaq and Anglian Water, and he was was 1992!” the photographer behind the Visit Britain 2012 campaign, featuring He adds: “It was models posing as Olympians in front of the country’s most iconic scenery. Craig’s landscape images feature in the books 52 Weekends by the first time I felt the Sea and 52 Weekends in the Country. His many awards include the that I had made a Cutty sark Award for World Travel Photographer of the year 2012/13. real impact with a photograph. In that made the most impact on him. The picture sense it was my big break because of the didn’t have great commercial value, but it way it made me think about my work and made me think that it was worthwhile doing, how photography could still be used to that it was worth getting under the skin of shine a light into some dark corners.” stories. The fact it was put on the front page The picture was commended in the did give a legitimacy to what I was doing annual Association of Photographers Awards. “An art director from an ad agency and made me think, ‘I need to continue’.” Keith Wilson picked it out as the picture of the year that

Craig Easton

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Images: Craig Easton

December, 1992 Blackpool, England, UK Nikon FM2


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CLOSE-UP

The N-Photo interview

-CLOSE UP-

TIM PAGE The work of Tim Page is synonymous with the Vietnam War. Now, 40 years after the end of that bloody conflict, he talks to Keith Wilson about changing film under fire, why he keeps going back, and what he thinks of his portrayal in Apocalypse Now

L

All images: Tim Page

egend is an over-used word, but not in the case of Tim Page. While covering the war in Vietnam, he was wounded in action four times before he was 25. His life has been immortalised in books and on film, including Michael Herr’s seminal work Dispatches and the Academy Awardwinning epic Apocalypse Now. Today, he lives in Brisbane, where he works as a professor of photojournalism, but Vietnam

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remains the one story everyone still wants to hear about… You’ve just come back from the 40th anniversary celebrations of the end of the wars in Vietnam and Cambodia. What was the overriding emotion? There’s a place called the War Remnants Museum in Saigon, now called Ho Chi Minh City. That is the only place in the world where Requiem, the pictures from


Tim Page ARVN PLAiN de JoNcs ’65 south Vietnamese soldiers make their way through a field

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CLOSE-UP

The N-Photo interview

the book honouring all of the dead and missing photographers, is on permanent display. I was doing seven interviews a day and I got pinned in front of the main wall, and for some reason I just became unwound and burst into tears. I think that was the only emotion I went through. The emotion of going back and being with a bunch of old mates is always good, and I’ve been going back every year since 1985. Many of your colleagues didn’t survive and you were nearly killed, so why did you keep going back? I think there were two reasons. One, because the story was bigger than we were, bigger than anything. Okay, there were other conflicts during the ten or 12 years of the

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Vietnam War, especially in the Middle East, but in terms of this story if you were a journalist in the ’60s and you didn’t go to Vietnam it was like not earning your stripes. I went back in 1968 because every time I opened the paper or turned the television on during the Tet Offensive, all I saw were my mates’ pictures or my mates’ footage, or my mates’ stories. It’s galling sitting not doing very much on the West Coast. So I sold my car and got a one-way ticket back. It wasn’t just about the story. IndoChina is a romantic, marvellous place that you can’t really explain, except in the Graham Greene kind of sense. It has its own allure. I’m not just talking about the colonial times, I’m not just talking Vietnam.

WidoW, QuANg NghAi (AboVe) A woman mourns as her husband’s body is removed from a helicopter buRNiNg ViLLAge (toP Right) Republic of Korea marines torch a village uNiVeRsAL soLdieR (bottom Right) A RoK marine after a firefight, near Quang Nghai, 1966

I’m also talking about Cambodia and Laos. It’s almost like a bad piece of junkie drug in a sense: once you’ve been there and it’s held you in its grasp for a bit, you get immersed in the culture. If you’re going to have a war, at least have a war in a place where the food is good and the women are beautiful. You had no intention of working as a photographer, so who introduced you to photography? My Dad. I got an Ensign, like a British-made Box Brownie, on my seventh birthday. My Dad processed the film in the bathroom. When I was 11, I bought a camera when I was in Holland, changed that when I was 14, bought another camera in Germany, which went all the way

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Tim Page

overland to Madras in the Combi van. I sold it in Kathmandu and bought another camera in Burma on the way to Thailand, which I used to shoot incredible pictures of Burmese rebels and all kinds of stuff. That was nicked in a brothel in Bangkok. The next camera I bought I was in Laos, in 1964, and I used it to shoot the first pictures I ever sold to UPI [United Press International]. Then, literally months later, I bought a Pentax with money from stringing fees from UPI, and with that camera I shot the pictures that got me the job in Vietnam. The rest is history. When did you get your first Nikon? My mate, who was UPI staff correspondent in Laos, was shooting with a Nikon he bought in Tokyo.

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PROFILE Tim Page One of the most important and influential photographers during the Vietnam War, Tim Page returns regularly to Southeast Asia even today… ■ Tim Page was just 20 and working in Laos when his photographs of an attempted coup in 1964 resulted in a move to Saigon to work for UPI. ■ In 1997, he and former AP photographer Horst Faas published

Requiem, a book devoted to the lives and work of the 134 photographers killed or missing in action during the wars in Vietnam and Cambodia. ■ Tim’s own books include Tim Page’s Nam, Mid-term Report, The Mindful

Moment and his autobiography, Page after Page. ■ He returns regularly to Vietnam and Cambodia to run photo workshops and document the war’s continuing legacy: the victims of land mines and Agent Orange.

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The N-Photo interview

MIA Dozens of journalists are still listed as missing in action in Vietnam and Cambodia CBS News cameraman Dana Stone and photojournalist Sean Flynn, Tim Page’s best friend, were last seen alive on 6 April 1970, motorcycling down Highway One in Eastern Cambodia. In 1990, Granada TV made a documentary, Danger on the Edge of Town, about Page’s attempts to find out what happened to them. Are you any closer to discovering what happened to Flynn and Stone? ■ I know now we didn’t find [the graves of] Flynn and Stone. We actually found two American deserters. All the evidence and the three teeth and the filling they brought back indicated that we’d found them, but it ended up being (Larry) Humphrey and (Clyde) McKay. These peacenik sailors imagined joining the Khmer Rouge and going gonzo. After three or four months the Khmer Rouge had had enough of them and topped them. At the time the MIA lab in Hawaii lost the teeth. In 1990, there was no DNA. They found the teeth in 2004 and found it wasn’t Flynn and Stone. But we resolved two MIAs, so I can only feel so bad. So the absolute fate? I don’t think I’ll end up like Hamlet standing in a hole in eastern Cambodia holding up a skull and a Leica. Will I resolve it? I’m not too far off my own end. I’ve got three stents and I’ve had three heart attacks. I’m keeping going but it’s not quite as quick as it was.

I borrowed his camera and I had my Pentax to shoot the attempted coup in Laos in ’64. As soon as I got to Saigon the bureau chief lent me one of his spare cameras. So just before the American marines landed on March 8 1965, I had my first Nikon.

RoK eVAcuAte theiR deAd (toP) evacuating after an all-night battle in a graveyard AustRALiAN 1st RAR (bottom) Near bien hoa, 1965

A Nikon F? A Nikon F, which came from Tokyo. They were $90 a body, silver. They were so cheap. If you went to Tokyo at that time you could go to

The only gear that people used were the Leica M and Nikon F. I knew one person at AP who had a Canon tim Page War photographer 112

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the factory and watch your Nikon coming down the line. Was it only Nikon gear that UPI was using? The only gear that people used were the Leica M and Nikon F. I knew one person at AP who had a Canon and one who was left-handed and had an Alpa! I started with a Pentax, which lasted six weeks. It didn’t like the dust, the humidity. I’ve still got it. You can’t wind it on, you can hardly take the lens off, the back only opens with a screwdriver. It wasn’t designed to work in a war zone. When you were going into the field, what would be in your bag? The best version of the camera bag was the US military medic’s bag,

which folded up into a flat roll pack. It opened up to have three or four pockets which had all that plasma and stuff in. Eddie Adams had them copied in leather. By the time I got fired by UPI I would freelance for Paris Match for a month and then freelance for Life. For Life, if you shot black and white you got $300 a page, but if you shot colour you got $600 a page. It doesn’t take much to figure out what you’re going to do – you’ve got to have two cameras! Often one would be a Nikonos because of the rainy season and dust, a Leica and then a Nikon F over your shoulder with a 105mm. I had the tub [case] which the 200mm f/4 came in gaffer-taped onto my webbing so I didn’t have anything bumping onto my hip.

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Tim Page

What else would you take? Water. You’d have four to six canteens, as well as a bladder on your rucksack. You couldn’t carry enough water if you were going out for more than three days, four days, five days, but you didn’t know how long you’d be gone. Imagine you had a digital camera covering the Vietnam War. How different would it have been? This subject came up quite a lot on this last visit. I doubt very much if digital cameras would have survived! Don’t get me wrong, some are tough as nails. I’ve put them into concrete, I’ve put them into water, I’ve done seriously bad impact things to them, but in Vietnam in the monsoon season I don’t think

www.digitalcameraworld.com

AustRALiAN 5 RAR (Left) conducting a sweep of a hamlet on the road to Vung tau during operation hayman island, 1966 WhAm (Right) WhAm (winning hearts and minds), operation hayman island, 1966

a digital camera would have kept going. Autofocus does not like wet weather. So you want manual. I didn’t have a camera with a light meter until I got my first Nikon FM. I never had a light meter! You worked in colour and black and white. Were you thinking ‘This is a colour shot’, or ‘This will look better in black and white’? It was more mercenary than that. I realised my black-and-white film could be turned round faster in Saigon. When I was shooting for Time, Time would want pictures on a Tuesday, for going to press on the Wednesday. Life wanted the pictures on a Wednesday for going to press in Chicago on a Thursday or whatever. If I processed the black-and-white

film as soon as I came back in from the field, then I could wire the pictures to them via AP or via UPI. Also, it gave me the advantage of writing fuller captions because I could see the pictures. You kept caption notes as much as you could, but the rest of the time you only took rough notes of what was going on. You didn’t have the technology we have today… There were no mobile phones, the telex wasn’t very quick, planes still had propellers! To get from Saigon to London it took 27 hours. There was no non-stop flight. Would the people who are shooting wars now have survived in Vietnam, never mind their cameras? They’re dashing in and out of

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CLOSE-UP

The N-Photo interview

conflict like yo-yos. I’m not decrying their work, but a war is something they visit. Most of the people who covered Vietnam lived there. People like Don McCullin came in for six weeks or two months, same with Philip Jones Griffiths. Okay, Larry Burrows lived in Hong Kong, but he was in Vietnam almost constantly. As you say, Vietnam also had an allure, even in war... Vietnam was a very nice place to

live. If you were a 20-year-old kid, there’s all these beautiful women, the food’s good, you’ve got a helicopter taking you to wherever the action’s going to be, you can ride in a fighter jet, you can basically almost run your own private war. And the Americans were falling over themselves, ironically, to get the war publicised. They thought they would look good if, when they got ambushed, it came out as six pages in Life! They didn’t realise that a

The Americans were falling over themselves, ironically, to get the war publicised… They didn’t realise that a strong war picture would come out as a strong anti-war picture tim Page War photographer 114

September 2015

WiA (Left) War Zone ‘d’ – 173rd Airborne, 1965 WAR ZoNe ‘c’ (Right) Ambush of 173rd Airborne, 1965

strong war picture would come out as a strong anti-war picture. Even when knocking on heaven’s door, they’d almost be wanting their image made. Guys with sucking chest wounds would say, “Take my picture so my Mum can see it”. Was there any censorship? In a sense the only censorship we faced was that we wouldn’t release pictures of the dead or the dying until the next of kin had been notified. It wasn’t so much censorship as a humanitarian consideration. Do you think photography now has the same impact on public opinion as it did during the Vietnam War? No. Nowhere near. Because of the internet, daily I am saturated with

www.digitalcameraworld.com


Tim Page

IAIN GLEN OR DENNIS HOPPER? Tim Page has been portrayed twice on film. He has strong views about both versions…

a tsunami of images. Some edited, and some nicely presented, but most of it is just a tsunami of mundanity. It’s all right to say it’s easy to shoot a picture, but how many people can edit a picture? If you’ve got a roll of film of the most god-awful firefight in Vietnam, can you go through that roll in two minutes and get the right picture moved on the wire? We don’t have photo editors any more. We have image managers! What does that mean? Most of them are a bunch of people who have never picked up a camera in their lives and there are so many images they don’t know where to start looking. Where do I go for the top pictures? There are so many alternatives now. There’s so much that it’s very hard to find a very nice, tightly-edited

www.digitalcameraworld.com

10-page spread. I’m saturated with stuff that I have no desire to see, but I have to wade through it to get to the core. Last year, 138 newspapers folded in America alone. We no longer have the magazines that lie around on a coffee table. Everything now is a delete button. Your mentors included Eddie Adams and Larry Burrows. What did you learn from them? I don’t know quite what you actually learn from a peer. I think a lot of what happens photographically is a very osmotic process. You hang on with somebody and you go into the field and you’re in the same fight, the same humid heat and dust, and in a sense it’s like watching somebody who teaches you. You watch how

WAR ZoNe ‘d’ (toP) medevac of wounded 173rd Airborne trooper, 1966 duc co (bottom Left) 25th division support troops taking cover from prop wash, 1965 tAy NiNh dAu tieNg RoAd (bottom Right) 25th division Recon cavalry drive along ‘Ambush Alley’, 1966

Which is the more accurate portrayal of Tim Page: Iain Glen in Frankie’s House (which was based on your autobiography) or the anonymous photojournalist played by Dennis Hopper in Apocalypse Now? ■ I’ve never watched Frankie’s House from end to end. I was getting daily rushes as it was being shot. I have never seen such bad camera. They didn’t need to rewrite history: real life was just as good as the invented one. I found it so appalling, and yet I worked with Iain Glen before he went off to shoot. He was wearing my fatigues, he was wearing my hat, I tried to coach him as much as possible, and I tried to get the script to come back to a bit more of a reality check. Impossible. With Apocalypse Now, whatever Dennis Hopper is playing, he’s playing Dennis Hopper. I think Coppola has made an incredible anti-war film by using the totally surreal. In a sense Apocalypse does achieve those very surreal moments that war is, and at the same time makes a very good anti-war statement. Any good war picture becomes an anti-war picture, hopefully.

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The N-Photo interview

they move, you watch how they reload a Nikon F, where you’ve got to take the back off during combat – how do you protect the inside back of a Nikon in the middle of a firefight? Do you make that decision on the 33rd frame? Do you take the film out? If the shit hits the fan you’re going to need more than two frames. If the shit’s hitting the fan, you don’t want to be reloading the thing. That famous picture of Nick Ut’s of the burning girl, the complete

cA mAu RiVeR swift boats on a gun run, 1968

You’ve got to take the back off during combat – how do you protect the inside back of a Nikon in the middle of a firefight? tim Page War photographer 116

September 2015

frame has got David Burnett running alongside rewinding his M3! Is there a picture that you think is most representative of the war? You could pick out a lot of individual pictures. I think it was that constant barrage of incredibly high ground pictures that were iconic, which were basically daily. Then every week Life or Look, or one of the major magazines, would run a big spread. And the Japanese: we tend to forget because of the big names like Larry and Don, that there were equally as big stars in Japan. Kyoichi Sawada was a Pulitzer Prize winner, murdered in Cambodia. There were great French photographers too in Vietnam: Marc Riboud came and went back in 1972.

A lot of guys didn’t make it. The last guy who died in the war, on the last day of the war, was a French photographer, Michel Laurent. They produced an incredible body of work. And then we completely forget the Vietnamese photographers, the people on the other side. You took a lot of drugs in Vietnam. Did they help or hinder your work? That’s a very good question. I don’t think they have ever hindered it. It should be stated that most of the time I never imbibed in the field. Maybe at the end of the day or after a really blitzy action, I’d have something rolled and smoke. But not during peak madness, as it were. The ultimate response or challenge to a question of that

www.digitalcameraworld.com


Tim Page

nature is to say I defy somebody to go through my pictures and tell me which pictures were taken stoned or otherwise. I can’t tell the difference any more. I’m going back over my archives for a retrospective at the moment, and I can remember a lot of the circumstances surrounding the making of the image. Most of the time I was probably stoned. Does your celebrity – dare I say notoriety? – ever embarrass or irritate you? It got a bit boring in Saigon this last trip. I was doing seven or eight interviews a day. In a certain sense, yes, because as Cartier-Bresson says, “We’re supposed to be invisible”. I suppose the notoriety has opened doors in some ways, too. It’s a

www.digitalcameraworld.com

RoK oPeRAtioN (toP) North of bong son, 1966 mARiNes (bottom Left) operation masher, 1966 iA dRANg engineers of 1st Air cavalry at chu Pong mountain, 1965

two-way street. I’d prefer not to be known in terms of being bothered while I’m trying to shoot people on the march on the 40th anniversary, but on the other hand, as Larry gave me the time of day back then, you’ve got to do the same for people now. If it gets you in the door and it gets you an assignment I think that’s great. I get calls out of the blue for jobs I’d never even think about before: doing stage plays, doing dance, doing theatre. I got a call from The Clash: “Can you do an album cover for us?” I’d never even heard of The Clash! I had a marvellous time with The Clash, I was on the road with them for three weeks and they were using my pictures back-projected on stage for Combat Rock. It was a lot of fun and

I wouldn’t have done that if it hadn’t been for the notoriety. It’s been an eventful life – is there anything you’d do differently? I wish I’d shot more film. Now, I realise not how little I shot, but it would have been good if I’d shot more. We were too busy just staying alive. I did a big cull in the ’70s of my stuff from Vietnam and I wish sometimes that I hadn’t. I threw away stuff that now might be in the Tate Modern. But you can’t use the word ‘if’. The last line in my autobiography is: “There are no ifs and buts. You only go around once”. • See more of Tim’s work at www.timpage.com.au

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fiVe sCOres, fiVe MeaNiNgs Forget about it! Below average Good for the money Excellent

iN-dePtH reViews

New gear

grOuP tests

BuyiNg adViCe

The best performance, design and value

TRIED & TEsTED ThIs IssuE… 122 New gear

We review a smaller, lighter, better 600mm lens from Nikon – and more!

124 MiNi test

Heavy camera and large lens? You need a gimbal head – try one of these options…

www.digitalcameraworld.com

126 Big test

Go ape with one of these eight telephoto lenses ideal for wildlife photography

Best-in-class product

A product that gives you more for your money

138 Buyer's guide Thinking of buying a new body or lens? Then you'll need our indispensable guide!

The very best kit that really sets the standard

September 2015

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rated & previewed

New gear expert opinionS on all the lateSt hot kit

NikoN aF-S 600mm f/4e FL ed vr Nikon’s latest monster telephoto prime lens sheds the pounds telephoto prime lens

£9650, $12300

www.nikon.com

■ Hot on the heels of the AF-S 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR, Nikon has launched redesigned 500mm and 600mm lenses. All three lenses sport fluorite elements, which shed weight while retaining optimum image quality. At 3.81kg, this 600mm is almost identical in weight to the 400mm, but marginally wider and 74mm longer, at 166x432mm. It’s also some 25 per cent lighter than Nikon’s preceding 600mm. The loss of 1.25kg enables easier handling, especially as the balance is shifted away from the front of the lens. Handheld shooting is much more comfortable, although the lens comes with a mounting collar and tripod foot. A shorter monopod foot is also supplied, along with a carbon fibre lens hood, carrying strap and hard case. The control layout makes advanced settings (like A/M, M/A and M focusing) easily accessible. VR (Vibration Reduction) options include normal and ‘sport’ modes, and gave a four-stop advantage in our tests. Other finery includes a focus-range limiter switch and four AF buttons. Autofocus is rapid despite a long travel for the focus ring that enables precise manual adjustments. In our tests, sharpness fell just short of lab scores from the 400mm lens. Contrast is excellent and all other aspects of image quality are impressive. It’s the all-time best 600mm prime lens for Nikon D-SLRs.

rogue FlashBender 2 portable Lighting kit

tiffen apex Filter

Flashgun modifier

Nd filter

£149, $199

www.rogueflash.com

■ This revised version of Rogue’s flashgun modifier kit includes large and small collapsible reflector panels, which are now 20 to 30 per cent lighter, and attach to your flashgun via an improved strap. They’re easy to bend into shape and will even roll into a snoot, plus you get a pair of diffusion sheets to convert each reflector into a small soft box. For more focused light, there’s a three-in-one honeycomb grid modifier which comes with 20 coloured gel inserts.

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September 2015

£124, $225

www.tiffen.com

■ Tiffen’s Oscar-winning filter technology is now available in its new XLE range: Apex, Advantix and Axent. The names might sound silly, but these filters enable you to shoot long-exposure images of exceptional quality in bright sunlight. The Apex is the most colour-neutral of the range and features a standard near-infrared blocker and ‘Hot Mirror’. These features help eliminate the influence of colour casts that are caused by infrared light when taking a long exposure.

www.digitalcameraworld.com


New gear rated and previewed

SharpNeSS iSN’t quite aS aStoNiShiNg aS From NikoN’S New 400mm LeNS, But it’S Not Far BehiNd, aNd iS maiNtaiNed weLL at the edgeS aNd corNerS oF imageS

inspired photogear Light Blaster

inspired photogear water weight

Flashgun accessory

portable lighting stand / tripod weight

£100, $99

www.inspiredphotogear.com

■ The Light Blaster projects patterns onto plain surfaces to create more interesting backgrounds for portraits. A flash attaches at the back and shoots light through a slide, projecting the pattern onto the background. Slides with different patterns and themes can be bought separately, or you can use your own. What sets this apart from similar projectors is the way you can mount a lens on the front to control the focus and spread of the projected image.

www.digitalcameraworld.com

£30, $45

www.inspiredphotogear.com

■ The concept of the Water Weight really couldn’t be simpler: as its name suggests, it’s a weight that you can roll up and carry, and fill with water when needed (assuming there’s a supply of water to hand, of course). Filled to capacity it weighs 1.3kg, and once full it can be placed over the legs of a lighting stand, or hung from a tripod. When you’ve finished shooting, simply release the water, roll up the bag and stuff it in your camera bag or pocket.

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Gear ZoNe

The world’s toughest tests

miNi test

Gimbal heads

If you need to support a bulky set-up, no other type of tripod head will do raditional ball tripod heads are versatile, and a geared head is great for precision work. But as this issue’s Apprentice explains (see page 8), when it comes to supporting full-frame bodies and long telephoto lenses, you need a big head… or, rather, your tripod does. Simply using a larger ball head isn’t ideal, as having the weight of a 400mm-plus telephoto lens and an FX Nikon perched on top means a precarious balancing act. A gimbal head enables you to lower your Nikon’s centre of gravity so it effectively hangs alongside the head, rather than sitting on top. When setting up, you’ll need to spend a minute or so aligning your lens so it balances on the head’s mounting plate; and if you go for a gimbal with vertical adjustment, be sure to set this so the centre line of the lens is parallel with the gimbal’s tilt axis. Once you’ve found the sweet spot, your Nikon and lens will be perfectly balanced, and should feel almost weightless. Here we’ve selected five heads. All use the same basic design, but as we’ll see, the details separate the best from the rest...

t

heads up! Gimbal heads all look similar, and work in similar ways. However, watch out for these subtleties before you buy

01 Vertical adjustment

A gimbal without vertical adjustment will do the job, but you’ll need it in order to get the feeling of complete weightlessness.

02 Precision engineering

Loosening the clamps locking the pan base and tilt arm on cheaper gimbals can introduce slack and wobble in the joints. Better designs will have tighter tolerances.

03 Large controls

Wildlife photography isn’t just a fair-weather activity, so be sure your gimbal of choice has large controls that are easy to grip in the wet or cold, and while wearing gloves.

04 Standard plates

All the heads we’ve featured use the widely-compatible ArcaSwiss mounting plate standard. Go for a gimbal with a long plate and you’ll also get more scope for adjustment.

05 Stable mate

There’s no point in buying a great gimbal if you’ll be mounting it on a travel tripod. Stout, rigid legs are a must, even if the combined weight will be a pain on the go.

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Benro GH3 £339, $425 www.benro.com Gimbal heads don’t tend to stray from a fairly standard design, but the GH3 stands out by being fully collapsible, with the main gimbal arm split into two pieces for more compact storage. It’s a neat trick, although it doesn’t make that much difference in the real world. But at least rigidity isn’t compromised, as the GH3 will stay strong under a hefty 25 kilograms of kit. Compactness doesn’t equal lightness though, as at 1.8 kilograms, this is one of the heavier options here. As with most gimbal heads, the GH3 incorporates an Arca-Swiss quick-release mounting plate and there’s lots of vertical adjustment. Large, grippy locking knobs are easy to use when wearing gloves and lock solidly, while also undoing without introducing any play into the pan or tilt joints.

If space is at a premium, this collapsible gimbal is ideal

Pros: Collapsible, fully-featured design Cons: Relatively heavy, with a stiff and slightly jerky motion We say: A clever, adjustable gimbal at a reasonable price

overall

ProMediaGear Katana £563, $750 www.promediagear.com The Katana looks more like a piece of military hardware than a camera support, thanks to its macho design and huge 33cm height. A load capacity of ‘just’ 23 kilograms isn’t especially impressive, but superb build and material quality give the impression it could hold more. However, at 2.2 kilograms, this is the heaviest gimbal in our group. The top-notch build quality also extends to the tilt and panning motion, which is perfectly smooth and has no bearing slack when the locking knobs are undone. When tightened, these will hold your Nikon steady, and are large enough for easy use in all weathers, plus they can be repositioned for easier access. The fact that’s it’s so tall also means there’s plenty of vertical adjustment to perfectly balance even the largest lens.

Extremely large and sturdy, this is one for well-equipped pros

Pros: Uncompromising build and material quality Cons: Pricey; few set-ups need such a large, heavy head We say: Worth the money if you need to support very bulky kit

overall www.digitalcameraworld.com


Gimbal heads

LensMaster Gimbal RH2 £148, $230

www.nest-style.com

www.lensmaster.co.uk At less than half the price of any of our other gimbal options, LensMaster appears to be on to a winner with the RH2. You still get solid, aircraft-grade aluminium construction with a choice of two powder-coated finishes. Payload capacity is also very respectable at 45 kilograms, yet the gimbal’s 1.21-kilogram weight is only beaten by the Nest head (right). However, there are some cost-cutting compromises. Most obvious is the lack of vertical adjustment, which, although not a major drawback, does mean you can’t get the perfect weightless balance that other heads provide. The pan and tilt locking clamps are slightly flawed, too. The latter doesn’t lock especially tightly and the design of both clamps means undoing them also separates the joints between components.

Nest NT-530H MK II £300, $467

There’s no vertical adjustment here, but it’s a bargain nonetheless

Pros: Well priced and well made, yet also quite light Cons: No vertical adjustment; substandard clamp design We say: Not perfect, but a decent budget option

overall

Tripods are often made from carbon fibre, so why not gimbal heads? This is the material of choice for the NT-530H MK II, which has a load-carrying capacity of 25 kilograms. At 1.16 kilograms it’s not substantially lighter than similarly-sized aluminium options, but this is still one of the lightest gimbals you can buy. Lightweight doesn’t mean no-frills, though, as there’s good vertical adjustment and a long Arca-Swiss lens plate is included, giving plenty of balancing adjustment. However, while the tilting rotation is smooth and precise, some bearing slack is apparent when loosening the panning clamp. The clamps themselves are wrapped in fairly smooth, leather-like material that isn’t grippy enough for easy adjustment in the wet or cold.

Ten layers of carbon fibre are used in the Nest head’s construction

Pros: Strong yet light; versatile mounting plate Cons: Some slack in pan base; locking knobs not very grippy We say: Capable, though its drawbacks could be frustrating

overall

Wimberley Head WH-200 Version II £520, $595 www.tripodhead.com Wimberley has a strong reputation in the gimbal head world, and the WH-200 upholds it. It uses the same basic design as most rivals and though there are few frills, it nails the basics. There’s plenty of vertical adjustment, yet the head is still fairly compact at 23.5cm tall and weighs 1.4 kilograms. Panning and tilt rotation are smooth and can also be locked completely steady by grippy, ergonomics knobs when required. These also control the friction resistance in each joint, which is progressively adjustable. The head uses an Arca-Swiss lens mount, and Wimberley also offers replacement low-profile feet to help balance lenses with taller than average feet. Ultimately the Katana gimbal does give you more for the money, but this is the best all-rounder.

www.digitalcameraworld.com

Balancing act

Adjusting your camera and lens’s position on the mounting plate enables you to balance heavy kit combinations for maximum stability This is a great all-rounder, not too large but very adjustable

Pros: Top quality; easy to use; wide lens compatibility Cons: Expensive compared to equally well-made heads We say: Aside from the cost, this is a great gimbal

overall

Ups and downs

Not all gimbal heads allow vertical adjustment, as it’s not essential to overall performance – though it is what will give you the perfect ‘weightless’ feel

Lock stock

The larger the locking knobs, the easier they are to use when it’s cold and wet


test team

Super-t elepho t o lenSeS

animal magic Take a walk on the wild side with sharp-shooting super-telephoto lenses. Matthew Richards goes on the hunt for the best buys

5

tHe cOntenDeRs 1 Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM | S £1500, $2000 2 Nikon AF-S 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR £1900, $2700 3 Sigma APO 300mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM £2280, $3400 4 Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM | S £2700, $3600 5 Sigma APO 500mm f/4.5 EX DG HSM £3760, $5000 6 Nikon AF-S 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II £4000, $5900 7 Nikon AF-S 200-400mm f/4G ED VR II £4900, $7000

2

8 Nikon AF-S 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR £10,400, $12,000

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www.digitalcameraworld.com


Super-telephotos

4 1

8 3

6

www.digitalcameraworld.com

7

September 2015

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test team

The world’s toughest tests

equipment knOW-HOW

FeatuRes tO lOOk FOR…

Get some stability

Be sure to check out competing focal lengths, apertures and other lens specifications

Optical stabilisation systems help to minimise camera shake (but not subject blur) without the need for super-fast shutter speeds – useful for handheld or monopod-mounted shooting.

Focal length

Longer is usually better for wildlife, but even a focal length of 300mm can be very useful, especially when it’s mounted on a DX-format body.

Faster focusing

Ring-type ultrasonic autofocus systems are featured in all of these lenses. They tend to be rapid and (importantly) whisper-quiet in operation.

Physical presence

Size and weight can be important considerations if you’re trekking into the wilds. The lenses on test range from 1.57 kilograms to as much as 3.8 kilograms.

Whatever the weather

The two Sigma prime lenses and the Nikon 80-400mm in this test group don’t feature weather-seals, although the latter does at least boast a rubber sealing ring on its mounting plate.

Go wide

Wider maximum apertures enable faster shutter speeds and tighter depths of field, but will typically result in bigger, heavier, and pricier lenses.

ildlife is wild, by its very nature. You can hardly ask an animal to pose nicely on a nearby rock while you put on your best portrait lens. You’ll usually need to keep your distance from your subject – and, in fact, the bigger and pointier the teeth, the more telephoto reach you’ll probably want. The lenses in this test group really cover the distance, starting with a bare minimum focal length of 300mm (which is still a fair amount) and going all the way up to 600mm. As well as sheer telephoto reach, speed is often of the essence when you’re photographing wildlife, in more ways than one. The interaction between predator and prey is literally a matter of life and death, and to capture the full thrill of the chase you’ll need a lens with fast autofocus that can keep pace. You won’t always be shooting under bright sunlight either, so ‘fast’ lenses with relatively wide apertures can make it possible for you to use fast shutter speeds without resorting to using very

W

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jaRgOn busteR Weather seals ■ Weather-sealed lenses have dust/moisture resistant gaskets around switches, joints and moving parts, as well as a rubber ring on the mounting plate.

Focal length ■ Lenses with greater focal lengths will have a smaller angle of view and therefore give a larger magnifying effect, reproducing a smaller area of the scene.

high ISO settings and risking too much noise. The wildlife lens equation is: longer focal length plus wider aperture equals greater bulk and a higher price. Indeed, the Nikon 400mm f/2.8 prime lens on test weighs in at nearly four kilograms and costs £10,400/$12,000. At the other end of the scale, the Nikon 80-400mm has a relatively narrow maximum aperture of f/5.6 at the long end of its zoom range, and is much lighter and more affordable at 1.57 kilograms and £1900/$2700. As always, there are pros and cons to prime and zoom lenses. Prime lenses have a reputation for delivering optimum image quality without any compromise in sharpness, and with fewer distortions and unwanted aberrations being introduced by the complexity of zooming. On the other hand, if you’re confined to one physical location for shooting wildlife – if you’re in a hide, say – a zoom lens will give you much greater versatility in composing

shots. You can also side-step the burden of carrying multiple monster prime lenses, as the zoom range of a single lens can cover two or three popular focal lengths. On top of that, some of the latest and greatest zoom lenses really can rival the best prime lenses for image quality. Two primes that we would normally include in this roundup are the Nikon 500mm and 600mm lenses, both of which are natural contenders for wildlife photographers. However, at the time of going to press, Nikon had discontinued the existing lenses and had just announced brand-new replacements. We’ve reviewed the 600mm option on page 122, and will be taking a closer look at its 500mm sibling in a future issue. So, without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the most desirable wildlife lenses on the market. All but one lens in this test group costs £5000/$7000 or less, and there are even a couple of attractive ‘budget’ options for £2000/$2700 or less.

www.digitalcameraworld.com


Super-telephotos

step by step long, longer, longest

Here’s how different focal lengths work out in terms of relative telephoto reach

01 300mm FX

Shot with a focal length of 300mm on an FX (full-frame) body, this image of a fallow deer was captured at a range of about 30 metres. All of the lenses in this test group give at least this much telephoto reach.

02 600mm FX

The Sigma 150-600mm gives the greatest telephoto reach of any lens on test. Shooting at 600mm instead of 300mm, the angle of view is approximately halved, so a quarter of the subject area will now fill the whole frame.

10 things we learned in this test It’s possible to go wild in the country and keep a natural perspective without getting weighed down

1

heavy load

2

Stiff colllar

We found that some lenses in the group are easily manageable for handheld shooting, whereas others can literally be a pain. A tripod offers the best support for long spells of shooting. All lenses in this group come with tripod collars and feet for better balance.

3

Do the twist

Tripod collars are great for switching between landscape and portrait (upright) orientation shooting, while maintaining good balance on a tripod or monopod.

4

Get a gimbal

5

Go steady

For shooting birds in flight, a gimbal head (see page 124) keeps the camera and lens balanced while smoothly tracking vertically as well as horizontally. Vibration reduction or optical stabilisation is a real bonus in telephoto shooting, even when using a monopod.

www.digitalcameraworld.com

6

on the move

7

take priority

8

prime numbers

9

Fixed gaze

10

Still life

VR or OS can’t overcome motion blur, but a manually switched or auto-sensing panning mode can still be a big benefit. Shutter-priority mode is ideal when you need a fast shutter speed to freeze action. Use a high ISO to avoid under-exposure. For lenses with comparable telephoto reach and the widest apertures, primes tend to be smaller and lighter than zooms, with fewer internal elements.

03 600mm DX

The 1.5x crop factor of DX-format cameras gives a 600mm lens an ‘effective’ focal length of 900mm. Compared to shooting with an FX body, this is similar to filling the frame with an area that’s two-thirds the width and two-thirds the height.

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 speed and accuracy of autofocus, and the effectiveness of optical stabilisation (where fitted). 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. We combine the lab tests and real-world shooting results to give overall ratings.

Variable-aperture telephoto zooms tend to extend greatly in physical length at longer zoom settings, whereas constantaperture telephoto zooms generally remain fixed. For stationary wildlife, try using a tripod and the auto exposure delay of most Nikon D-SLRs, to avoid mirror bounce blurring your telephoto shots.

September 2015

129


test team

The world’s toughest tests

Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG oS hSm | S £1500, $2000

nikon aF-S 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G eD vr £1900, $2700

Like the Nikon 80-400mm also on test, this lens from Sigma’s ‘S’ (Sport) line-up has a variable widest aperture that shrinks at longer zoom settings. The widest aperture of f/6.3 at 600mm is still two-thirds of a stop faster than adding a 1.4x teleconverter to the Nikon to get similar telephoto reach. Smart features include a ‘MO’ (Manual Override) autofocus mode, in which autofocus is disabled if you turn the focus ring. The dual-mode optical stabiliser includes static and panning options, and there’s a focus limiter switch, plus a switch for custom settings which are programmable via Sigma’s optional USB dock.

The D-mount version of Nikon’s 80-400mm was the first Nikon lens to feature Vibration Reduction (two stops). In other respects, it was still quite an old-tech affair, with no built-in autofocus actuator. The replacement G-mount edition is bang up to date, and adds ring-type ultrasonic autofocus (making autofocus available on any Nikon D-SLR). VR is upgraded to four-stop performance and includes an ‘Active’ mode, ideal for shooting from vibrating platforms like an idling vehicle. The focus limiter switch only cuts out the short range of autofocus travel, and the zoom lock switch can only be engaged at the shortest focal

This is the least expensive lens in the whole group yet gives the longest telephoto reach

At 2.86 kilograms it’s heavier than the Nikon 80-400mm, and it’s prone to zoom creep. However, the zoom lock switch can be engaged at any focal length that’s marked on the barrel. It’s also more thoroughly weather sealed than the Nikon.

performance

Autofocus is quick, but not as fast as in the Nikon lenses. The revamped optical stabiliser is more effective than in Sigma’s older 150-500mm OS, giving a four-stop benefit in our tests. Fluorite-grade glass boosts image quality. While sharpness drops off at the longest zoom settings, it still beats the Nikon 80-400mm at 400mm.

tech focus

length. However, like the pricier Nikon lenses, it features A/M, M/A and M focus modes, the dual modes giving priority to either auto or manual focusing. Nano crystal coatings reduce ghosting and there’s a rubber ring on the mounting plate, although the lens isn’t weathersealed. It’s about half the weight of most lenses in the group.

performance

Autofocus is a little faster than in the Sigma 150-600mm lens, but sharpness isn’t quite as good at 400mm. Colour fringing is well controlled, benefitting from the inclusion of four ED (Extralow Dispersion) elements and one Super ED element.

tech focus

24 elements in 16 groups; nine diaphragm blades; 2.6m closest focus distance; 105mm filter thread (front); ring-type ultrasonic AF, four-stop optical stabiliser; dimensions 121x290mm; weight 2.86kg

130

New and improved, this lens represents a major revamp of the innovative original version

FeatureS builD quality imaGe quality value For money

★★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★★

OveRall ★★★★ ★★★★★ We say… Champion of the group for telephoto reach, it’s great value.

September 2015

20 elements in 12 groups; nine diaphragm blades; 1.5m closest focus distance; 77mm filter thread (front); ring-type ultrasonic AF; four-stop optical stabiliser; dimensions 96x 203mm; weight 1.57kg

FeatureS builD quality imaGe quality value For money

★★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★★

OveRall ★★★★ ★★★★★

We say… An improvement on the original, but beaten by the Sigma.

www.digitalcameraworld.com


Super-telephotos

Sigma apo 300mm f/2.8 eX DG hSm £2280, $3400

Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG oS hSm | S £2700, $3600

Quite a squat lens at 119x215mm, this Sigma prime lens is shorter than the competing Nikon 300mm f/2.8 and about two-thirds the length of Sigma’s 500mm lens. It’s also the second-lightest lens in the group at 2.4 kilograms, but it’s still substantially heavier than the Nikon 80-400mm. As you’d expect of a 300mm lens with a fast f/2.8 aperture, the front element is very wide and there’s no front filter attachment thread, although you can add 46mm ‘drop-in’ filters at the rear. The filter holder is well implemented, with a ring that enables rotation of filters like ND grads and circular polarisers.

Life is full of compromises, especially when it comes to telephoto zooms. If you want an f/2.8 aperture throughout the zoom range, you normally have to limit your reach to 200mm. This Sigma gives you an extra 100mm to play with at the long end, although there’s still a compromise when it comes to size and weight. It’s big and heavy, although at least its physical length remains fixed throughout the zoom range. The lens predates Sigma’s 150-600mm, but is nevertheless from the new stable of S-class optics. Similarities include weather seals, the availability of two custom settings, a dualmode optical stabiliser and a

This lens is reasonably compact considering the combination of focal length and fast f/2.8 aperture In most respects, the Sigma looks quite low-tech. It lacks the forward-mounted autofocus buttons of the upmarket Nikon lenses, there’s no focus limiter switch, no optical stabiliser and no AF/M switch. There are no weather seals and, unlike in the newer Sigma zoom lenses, no provision for custom settings.

performance

The f/2.8 aperture is nice to have and pincushion distortion is minimal, but sharpness lags behind Sigma’s 120-300mm and 150-600mm zoom lenses at their 300mm zoom settings. Colour fringing towards image corners is also worse than with any other lens in the group.

tech focus

11 elements in nine groups; nine diaphragm blades, 2.5m closest focus distance; 46mm f ilter thread (drop-in); ring-type ultrasonic AF; no built-in optical stabiliser, dimensions 119x215mm; weight 2.4kg

www.digitalcameraworld.com

Unique for a zoom lens, this one stretches to 300mm with a wide, constant f/2.8 aperture

three-position focus limiter switch that can limit autofocus to short or long range as well as enabling full travel. It lacks the newer lens’s MO autofocus mode, but both have the usual facility of full-time manual override after autofocus has been acquired.

performance

Centre sharpness is spectacular throughout the zoom range, even at the widest aperture, while stopping down to f/4 makes corner sharpness similarly impressive. Consistency of the optical stabiliser isn’t quite as good as that of the 150-600mm lens, and autofocus is similarly quick rather than ultra-fast.

tech focus FeatureS builD quality imaGe quality value For money

★★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★★

OveRall ★★★★ ★★★★★ We say… Comes up short on both features and image quality.

23 elements in 18 groups; nine diaphragm blades; 1.5-2.5m closest focus distance; 105mm filter thread (front); ring-type ultrasonic AF; four-stop optical stabiliser; dimensions 121x291mm; weight 3.39kg.

FeatureS builD quality imaGe quality value For money

★★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★★

OveRall ★★★★ ★★★★★

We say… Chunkier than Sigma’s 300mm prime, but outperforms it.

September 2015

131


test team

The world’s toughest tests

Sigma apo 500mm f/4.5 eX DG hSm £3760, $5000

nikon aF-S 300mm f/2.8G eD vr ii £4000, $5900

Typical of Sigma’s ‘EX’ lenses, which predate the company’s S (Sports) and A (Art) lenses, this has the same textured matte-black finish as the Sigma 300mm lens. It’s about the same diameter, but much longer as the 300mm, and it’s also rather heavier. Even so, it’s only about the same size as the Nikon 200-400mm zoom and 400mm prime lenses, and lighter in weight than either of them. This Sigma has the longest focal length of any prime in the group, and is only beaten for telephoto reach by the Sigma 150-600mm lens. As with the Sigma 300mm lens, there are few frills: there’s no optical stabiliser, no AF/M

Even a cursory glance reveals that this Nikon lens is bristling with high-end features, making it much more advanced than the competing Sigma 300mm prime. The pro-grade design and weathersealed construction includes four forward-mounted autofocus buttons with switchable options to use them for AF-on, AFlock and focus memory recall. The last of these works in conjunction with an autofocus preset button, along with an optional confirmation beep. There are A/M, M/A and M focusing modes, plus normal and active VR modes (switched on or off via a ring on the barrel). The claimed level of

This lengthy lens looks and feels like a stretch limo version of Sigma’s 300mm prime focus mode switch, no weather seals and no front-mounted AF buttons. One addition, however, is a focus limiter switch with short, long and full travel options. In keeping with the extra size and weight of the lens compared with the Sigma 300mm, its tripod foot is larger, and a carrying strap is supplied.

performance

In our tests, this Sigma had the slowest autofocus performance of any lens in the group, and also delivered the least midaperture sharpness, apart from the Nikon 80-400mm at its longest zoom setting. On the plus side, sharpness proved better at f/4.5-5.6 than at f/8.

tech focus

stabilisation has been reduced to three-stop, in compliance with new CIPA testing. However, it proved as effective as in the Nikon 80-400mm lens. A focus limiter switch enables you lock out the autofocus range closer than six metres. Due to the large diameter of the front element, there’s a 52mm drop-in filter arrangement towards the rear, and strap lugs for carrying the lens with a camera attached.

performance

Image quality is excellent in all respects, and practically as sharp as from the Nikon 400mm lens. Autofocus is amazingly fast, despite the long travel that enables precise manual focusing.

tech focus

11 elements in eight groups; nine diaphragm blades; 4m closest focus distance; 46mm filter thread (drop-in); ring-type ultrasonic AF; no built-in optical stabiliser; dimensions 123x350mm; weight 3.15kg.

132

Nikon’s option is much more of a high-flyer than Sigma’s 300mm f/2.8 – but nearly twice the price

FeatureS builD quality imaGe quality value For money

★★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★★

OveRall ★★★★ ★★★★★ We say… Loses out to most zoom lenses on test for image quality.

September 2015

11 elements in eight groups; nine diaphragm blades, 2.2-2.3m closest focus distance; 52mm filter thread (drop-in); ring-type ultrasonic AF; three-stop optical stabiliser (CIPA); dimensions 124x 268mm; weight 2.9kg.

FeatureS builD quality imaGe quality value For money

★★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★★

OveRall ★★★★★

We say… Reach isn’t great; image quality and handling are fabulous.

www.digitalcameraworld.com


Super-telephotos

nikon aF-S 200-400mm f/4G eD vr ii £4900, $7000

nikon aF-S 400mm f/2.8e Fl eD vr £10,400, $12,000

Just like the Nikon 300mm f/2.8, this zoom lens is built to a professional standard, based on a weathersealed magnesium alloy body. It’s an f-stop slower, but has the flexibility of zoom along with a greater 400mm maximum focal length. Other similarities include A/M, M/A and M focus modes, forward mounted AFon/AF-L/Focus Recall buttons, three-stop VR with normal and active modes, Nano crystal coatings and lightweight carbon-fibre lens hood. It’s all wrapped up in a padded case. Handling is similar to that of the Nikon 300mm f/2.8, except, of course, that this lens features an additional zoom ring, which

Compared with the Nikon and Sigma 300mm f/2.8 lenses on test, this one has an extra 100mm of telephoto reach with no trade-off in aperture reduction. The result is that it’s the biggest, heaviest lens in the group, and by far the most expensive. You get all of the advanced autofocus options and handling characteristics found in the other two Nikon lenses, plus some extra features. Fluorite elements ensure outstanding image quality while reducing the weight of the lens. A fluorine coating on the front element repels water and grime. A new ‘Sport VR’ mode enables easier tracking of moving targets through the viewfinder,

This fully tricked-up lens is feature-packed and aims to deliver top-flight performance is positioned towards the rear. The lens itself is also narrower, slightly longer and a bit lighter. One other difference is that the 200-400mm has a more conventional VR on/off switch. Again, the front element is too large for the practical use of filters, so 52mm drop-in filters can be used in a slot towards the rear of the lens.

performance

Lab test results for sharpness weren’t quite as inspiring as from the Sigma 120-300mm zoom lens but, in field tests, it delivered superb sharpness and contrast with remarkable consistency throughout the aperture and zoom ranges.

tech focus

24 elements in 17 groups; nine diaphragm blades; 1.95-2m closest focus distance; 52mm filter thread (drop-in); ring-type ultrasonic AF; three-stop optical stabiliser (CIPA); dimensions 124x 366mm; weight 3.36kg

www.digitalcameraworld.com

The combination of a long 400mm focal length and a fast f/2.8 aperture comes at a price and ensures no reduction in maximum burst rate during continuous shooting. The lens also has an electromagneticallycontrolled diaphragm, which delivers consistency in exposure settings during high-speed continuous shooting. And it comes in a tough flight case.

performance

CIPA testing gave a four-stop rating for the new VR system, at least in standard mode, and we found that this lens has the most consistent stabilisation of any lens in the group. Autofocus is blindingly quick and levels of sharpness edge ahead of every other lens on test. Performance is simply dazzling.

tech focus FeatureS builD quality imaGe quality value For money

★★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★★

OveRall ★★★★★ We say… All the quality of top prime lenses in a single package.

16 elements in 12 groups; nine diaphragm blades; 2.6m closest focus distance; 40.5mm filter thread (drop-in); ring-type ultrasonic AF, four-stop optical stabiliser (CIPA); dimensions 160x 358mm; weight 3.8kg

FeatureS builD quality imaGe quality value For money

★★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★★

OveRall ★★★★★

We say… We rate it as the best 400mm prime in the world, bar none.

September 2015

133


test team

The world’s toughest tests

image quality in FOcus

Here are the lab test results for all the telephoto primes and zooms on test

SharpneSS

sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Dg Os Hsm | s

■ It drops off towards the 600mm zoom setting but, at 400mm, sharpness is better than from the Nikon 80-400mm.

FrinGinG

LAB TEST

■ It’s not a standout performer at either end of the zoom range, but it’s very good through the middle of the range. LAB TEST

sigma apO 300mm f/2.8 eX Dg Hsm

■ Sharpness is disappointing, and worse than from the Sigma 150-600mm and Nikon 80-400mm zooms at 300mm. LAB TEST

sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 Dg Os Hsm | s

■ Unlike the Sigma 300mm prime, this delivers great sharpness even at wide apertures, throughout its zoom range. LAB TEST

Sharpness at short (f/8)

2027

Sharpness at short (f/8)

1898

Sharpness at short (f/8)

N/a

Sharpness at short (f/8)

2235

Sharpness at mid (f/8)

2016

Sharpness at mid (f/8)

2178

Sharpness at mid (f/8)

N/a

Sharpness at mid (f/8)

2157

Sharpness at long (f/8)

1739

Sharpness at long (f/8)

1847

Sharpness at long (f/8)

1914

Sharpness at long (f/8)

2031

■ There’s more colour fringing than average at the short end, but performance is better at mid to long LAB TEST

DiStortion

nikon aF-s 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6g eD vR

■ Fringing follows a similar path to the Sigma 150-600mm, but with slightly better results at either end. LAB TEST

■ There’s more pronounced colour fringing towards image corners than from any other lens in the test group. LAB TEST

■ There’s fairly little fringing at the short end of the zoom range, and it reduces even more at mid to long zoom settings. LAB TEST

Fringing at short (f/8)

1.93

Fringing at short (f/8)

1.35

Fringing at short (f/8)

N/a

Fringing at short (f/8)

1.15

Fringing at mid (f/8)

0.58

Fringing at mid (f/8)

0.56

Fringing at mid (f/8)

N/a

Fringing at mid (f/8)

0.41

Fringing at long (f/8)

1.08

Fringing at long (f/8)

0.77

Fringing at long (f/8)

2.4

Fringing at long (f/8)

0.4

■ Pincushion distortion is restrained, but increases a little as you go from the short to the long end of the zoom range. LAB TEST

■ There’s very little pincushion at 80mm, but it’s higher than average in the mid to long section of the zoom range. LAB TEST

■ The relatively minimal distortion is a plus point for this lens, where it outperforms other primes on test.

■ Marginally greater than from most competing lenses at the long end of the zoom range, but nothing to worry about. LAB TEST

LAB TEST

Distortion at short (f/8)

0.64

Distortion at short (f/8)

0.32

Distortion at short (f/8)

N/a

Distortion at short (f/8)

0.23

Distortion at mid (f/8)

0.73

Distortion at mid (f/8)

1.07

Distortion at mid (f/8)

N/a

Distortion at mid (f/8)

0.68

Distortion at long (f/8)

0.95

Distortion at long (f/8)

1.20

Distortion at long (f/8)

0.34

Distortion at long (f/8)

1.26

image quality veRDict Even in much more expensive company, the Sigma 150-600mm acquits itself very well.

134

image quality veRDict Despite its more limited focal length, image quality isn’t much better than from the Sigma 150-600mm lens.

September 2015

image quality veRDict Apart from good distortion control, image quality is average. Sharpness at the widest aperture is unimpressive.

image quality veRDict Superb image quality makes this a better buy than the Sigma 300mm with its f/2.8 maximum aperture.

www.digitalcameraworld.com


Super-telephotos

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

sigma apO 500mm f/4.5 eX Dg Hsm

LAB TEST

Figures are based on the Imatest SFRPlus chart. To ensure a level playing field, we checked the centre, mid and edge sharpness on a D600.

nikon aF-s 300mm f/2.8g eD vR ii

■ The excellent sharpness drops off at the widest f/2.8, but it’s vastly better than from the Sigma 300mm prime. LAB TEST

■ Fringing (low scores are better)

Colour fringing tends to be worst at the extreme corners of the frame. To highlight how it affects each lens, we shot the Imatest SFRPlus chart.

nikon aF-s 200-400mm f/4g eD vR ii

■ Distortion (close to 0 is best)

This test checks for barrel or pincushion distortion – the former tends to affect wide-angle lenses, whereas our group suffers mainly from pincushion.

nikon aF-s 400mm f/2.8e Fl eD vR

■ Lab scores aren’t as superlative as when we’ve tested this lens previously, but performance is still excellent.

■ It’s the outright winner for sharpness in the group, and that sharpness is maintained well across the whole frame.

LAB TEST

LAB TEST

Sharpness at short (f/8)

N/a

Sharpness at short (f/8)

N/a

Sharpness at short (f/8)

2032

Sharpness at short (f/8)

N/a

Sharpness at mid (f/8)

N/a

Sharpness at mid (f/8)

N/a

Sharpness at mid (f/8)

2045

Sharpness at mid (f/8)

N/a

Sharpness at long (f/8)

1794

Sharpness at long (f/8)

2224

Sharpness at long (f/8)

1913

Sharpness at long (f/8)

2311

LAB TEST

■ There’s very little fringing even in extreme image corners, as with the Nikon 400mm f/2.8 lens. LAB TEST

■ Colour fringing is well restrained at the shortest end of the zoom and results get better still at mid to long zoom settings. LAB TEST

■ There’s very little colour fringing at most apertures and it practically disappears completely at f/2.8 to f/4. LAB TEST

Fringing at short (f/8)

N/a

Fringing at short (f/8)

N/a

Fringing at short (f/8)

2.04

Fringing at short (f/8)

N/a

Fringing at mid (f/8)

N/a

Fringing at mid (f/8)

N/a

Fringing at mid (f/8)

1.55

Fringing at mid (f/8)

N/a

Fringing at long (f/8)

1.59

Fringing at long (f/8)

1.59

Fringing at long (f/8)

1.13

Fringing at long (f/8)

1.6

LAB TEST

■ Pincushion is marginally greater than with the other prime lenses in the group, but still of a very low order.

■ There’s very little pincushion at the 200mm focal length and practically none at all through the rest of the zoom range. LAB TEST

LAB TEST

■ The very small amount of distortion is hard to spot. It’s lower than in the Nikon 300mm and Sigma 500mm primes. LAB TEST

Distortion at short (f/8)

N/a

Distortion at short (f/8)

N/a

Distortion at short (f/8)

0.32

Distortion at short (f/8)

N/a

Distortion at mid (f/8)

N/a

Distortion at mid (f/8)

N/a

Distortion at mid (f/8)

0.2

Distortion at mid (f/8)

N/a

Distortion at long (f/8)

0.61

Distortion at long (f/8)

0.67

Distortion at long (f/8)

0.2

Distortion at long (f/8)

0.47

image quality veRDict There’s no real improvement over Sigma’s cheaper 150-600mm zoom lens for image quality.

www.digitalcameraworld.com

image quality veRDict Overall image quality is of the highest standard, in keeping with the professional aspirations of this lens.

image quality veRDict

image quality veRDict

Superb image quality is assured by this excellent zoom lens, which rivals or beats many top-notch prime lenses.

Spectacular image quality. This lens is arguably the best supertelephoto prime of all time.

September 2015

135

DiStortion

■ There’s a little more pincushion than from the Sigma 300mm, but marginally less than from the Nikon 300mm.

FrinGinG

■ Fringing is better controlled than in the Sigma 300mm, and more consistent throughout the aperture range.

SharpneSS

■ The Sigma 500mm prime gives some poor scores for sharpness, and is similar to the Sigma 300mm at around f/4.5-5.6.

■ Sharpness (high scores are better)


test team

The world’s toughest tests

gO WilD! hoW the lenSeS compare name WebSite

Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG oS hSm | S

nikon aF-S 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G eD vr

Sigma apo 300mm f/2.8 eX DG hSm

sigmaphoto.com

Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG oS hSm | S

Sigma apo 500mm f/4.5 eX DG hSm

nikon aF-S 300mm f/2.8G eD vr ii

nikon aF-S 200-400mm f/4G eD vr ii

sigmaphoto.com

nikon aF-S 400mm f/2.8e Fl eD vr

nikon.com

Street price (uK, uSa)

£1500, $2000

£1900, $2700

£2280, $3400

£2700, $3600

£3760, $5000

£4000, $5900

£4900, $7000

£10,400, $12,000

eFFective Focal lenGth (DX)

225-900mm

120-600mm

450mm

180-450mm

750mm

450mm

300-600mm

600mm

aperture ranGe

f/5-6.3 to f/22

f/4.5-5.6 to f/32-40

f/2.8 to f/32

f/2.8 to f/22

f/4.5 to f/32

f/2.8 to f/22

f/4 to f/32

f/2.8 to f/22

optical StabiliSer

yes

yes

no

yes

no

yes

yes

yes

autoFocuS actuator

ultrasonic (ring-type)

ultrasonic (ring-type)

ultrasonic (ring-type)

ultrasonic (ring-type)

ultrasonic (ring-type)

ultrasonic (ring-type)

ultrasonic (ring-type)

ultrasonic (ring-type)

FocuS ranGe limiter

yes

yes

no

yes

no

yes

yes

yes

internal zoom

no

no

n/a

yes

n/a

n/a

yes

n/a

min FocuS DiStance

2.6m

1.75m (1.5m mF)

2.5m

1.5m to 2.5m

4.0m

2.3m (2.2m mF)

2.0m (1.95m mF)

2.6m

maX maGniFication

0.2x

0.2x

0.13x

0.12x

0.13x

0.16x

0.27x

0.14x

Weather SealS

yes

Sealed mount

no

yes

no

yes

yes

yes

Filter Size

105mm

77mm

46mm (drop-in)

105mm

46mm (drop-in)

52mm (drop-in)

52mm (drop-in)

40.5mm (drop-in)

DimenSionS / WeiGht

121x290mm / 2.86kg

96x203mm / 1.57kg

119x215mm / 2.4kg

121x291mm / 3.39kg

123x350mm / 3.15kg

124x268mm / 2.9kg

124x366mm / 3.36kg

160x358mm / 3.8kg

FeatureS builD quality imaGe quality value For money overall

tHe WinneR is…

top runnerS-up

nikon aF-S 400mm f/2.8e Fl eD vr

nikon aF-S 200-400mm f/4G eD vr ii

What’s good: Superb image quality. What’s bad: An f-stop slower than the

Big lenses cost big money, but the Nikon 400mm is expensive by any reckoning Quality usually costs, but the Nikon 400mm f/2.8 is fiendishly expensive. It also happens to be one of the best camera lenses ever made, combining high-tech thrills like ultra-fast autofocus and highly effective optical stabilisation with spectacular image quality. For a big and heavy lens, handling is wonderfully natural. It’s the best lens on test, but if you can live with one that’s an f-stop slower, the Nikon 200-400mm is almost as good and more versatile, delivering similar performance to top-notch 200mm, 300mm and 400mm primes in a single package. The Nikon 300mm f/2.8 is another top contender and much less expensive than the

136

September 2015

Nikon 300mm and 400mm prime lenses. Our verdict: An excellent choice if you’ll sacrifice an f-stop for zoom versatility.

400mm prime. For less outlay, the Sigma 150-600mm S-class lens rules the roost for maximum telephoto reach while combining impressive build and image quality at a much more affordable price. What’s good: Packed with advanced features, unbeatable build and image quality. What’s bad: Massively expensive compared with all other lenses in the group, but you get what you pay for. Our verdict: It’s simply the best 400mm lens you can buy – but it’s a big, hefty beast.

overall ★★★★★

nikon aF-S 300mm f/2.8G eD vr ii

What’s good: Almost as good as the Nikon 400mm at less than half the price. What’s bad: Lacks a ‘Sports VR’ mode. Our verdict: It’s a superb lens, but for some it may lack a little reach.

Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG oS hSm | S What’s good: Amazing focal

length, impressive build and image quality. What’s bad: Relatively slow f/6.3 widest aperture at the long end of the zoom range. Our verdict: It’s not in the same class as Nikon’s finest lenses, but unbeatable value.

www.digitalcameraworld.com


GEAR ZONE

The world’s toughest tests

buYER’S guIDE Not sure which Nikon body will be the one for you? Here’s a quick rundown of the current range to help you out

TesTed In IssUe 47 PrIce: £430/$500

NIKON 1 J5, 10-30mm A CSC thAt D-SLR uSeRS wiLL Love, the J5 has the highest resolution of any Nikon 1 camera to date (20.8Mp) and a decent sensitivity range. The top dial now also gives access to semi-automatic and manual exposure modes, plus you can shoot in RAW, which is real bonus.

sensor

20.8Mp, CX (5232x3488)

Processor

EXPEED 5A

Viewfinder

N/A

IsO AF Lcd Max burst Memory card

200-12800 171-area contrast (105-area phase) 3-inch touch-sensitive tilting 60fps microSD/HC/XC

PrIce: £320/$450

NIKON 1 S2, 11-27.5mm SmALL in Size but big on quALity, the svelte Nikon 1 S2 is responsive and speedy. With a 14.2Mp image sensor, and the omission of built-in Wi-Fi or a touchscreen, it’s more basic than the J5, but still a highly capable camera that you can slip into your bag as a lightweight backup.

sensor Processor

EXPEED 4A

Viewfinder

N/A

IsO AF Lcd

NIKON 1 COMPACT SYSTEM CAMERAS

Max burst Memory card

200-12800 135-area contrast (73-area phase) 3-inch 20fps (60fps fixed AF) microSD/HC/XC

TesTed In IssUe 46 PrIce: £560/$747

NIKON 1 AW1, 11-27.5mm veRy muCh the ACtion ADventuReR, the AW1 is shockproof, waterproof to a depth of 15 metres, and freeze-proof down to -10°C. To keep pace with a truly active lifestyle, it also has a built-in compass, altimeter, depth gauge and GPS.

sensor

Sensor 14.2Mp, CX (4608x3072)

Processor

EXPEED 3A

Viewfinder

N/A

IsO AF Lcd Max burst Memory card

160-6400 135-area contrast (73-area phase) 3-inch 15fps (60fps fixed AF) SD/HC/XC

TesTed In IssUe 19 PrIce: £650/$900

NIKON 1 V2, 10-30mm FoR ComFoRt AnD FAmiLiARity, the conventional layout of the V2 includes a sculpted finger grip, electronic viewfinder and shooting mode dial. It’s been largely superseded by the V3 (below), so look out for it at bargain prices.

sensor

14.2Mp, CX (4608x3072)

Processor

EXPEED 3A

Viewfinder

1440k

IsO AF Lcd Max burst Memory card

160-6400 135-area contrast (73-area phase) 3-inch 15fps (60fps fixed AF) SD/HC/XC

TesTed In IssUe 46 PrIce: £800/$1200

NIKON 1 V3, 10-30mm, EVF AND gRIP the FLAgShip nikon 1 CAmeRA adds a vari-angle touchscreen to the comfortable ergonomics of the preceding V2, along with key upgrades to the image sensor, processor and autofocus system, plus built-in Wi-Fi. The electronic viewfinder is optional.

sensor

18.4Mp, CX (5232x3488)

Processor

EXPEED 4A

Viewfinder

Electronic

IsO AF Lcd Max burst Memory card

160-12800 171-area contrast (105-area phase) 3-inch touch, vari-angle 20fps (60fps fixed AF) SD/HC/XC

ENTRY-LEVEL D-SLRs

TesTed In IssUe 09 PrIce: £235/$330

NIKON D3200 An inStAnt FAvouRite with beginneRS when launched back in 2012, the D3200 eases you into creative photography with a built-in Guide mode that serves up interactive tutorials. There’s impressive picture quality to match, thanks to its 24.2Mp image sensor and EXPEED 3 processor.

sensor

September 2015

24.2Mp, DX (6016x4000)

Processor

EXPEED 3

Viewfinder

Pentamirror, 0.8x, 95%

IsO AF Lcd Max burst (buffer) Memory card

138

14.2Mp, CX (4592x3072)

100-6400 (12800 expanded) 11-point (1 cross-type 3-inch 4fps (18 RAW/80 JPEG) SD/HC/XC

www.digitalcameraworld.com


Buyer’s guide

TesTed In IssUe 30 PrIce: £355/$400

NIKON D3300 ContinueS the D3200’S beginneR-FRienDLy tRADition of an interactive Guide shooting mode, and boosts performance with a later-generation EXPEED 4 processor, faster continuous shooting and greater low-light potential. There’s also a new ‘easy panorama’ mode.

sensor

EXPEED 4

Viewfinder

Pentamirror, 0.85x, 95%

IsO

100-12800 (25600 expanded)

AF

11-point (1 cross-type)

Lcd

11-point (1 cross-type)

Max burst (buffer) Memory card

5fps (11 RAW/100 JPEG) SD/HC/XC

TesTed In IssUe 17 PrIce: £340/$500

NIKON D5200

ENTRY-LEVEL D-SLRS

the D5200 hAS beCome A veRy AFFoRDAbLe inteRmeDiAte-LeveL CAmeRA, now that the D5300 and D5500 have hit the market. Originally launched in early 2013, its specifications still look appealing, and the vari-angle LCD makes for easy shooting from tricky angles.

sensor

24.1Mp, DX (6000x4000)

Processor

EXPEED 3

Viewfinder

Pentamirror, 0.78x, 95%

IsO AF Lcd Max burst (buffer) Memory card

100-6400 (25600 expanded) 39-point (9 cross-type) 3-inch vari-angle 5fps (8 RAW/35 JPEG) SD/HC/XC

TesTed In IssUe 28 PrIce: £505/$695

NIKON D5300 A SigniFiCAnt upgRADe oveR the D5200, this camera features a newer generation processor, plus built-in Wi-Fi and GPS, wrapped up in a carbon-fibre-reinforced body shell. As with the D3300, the optical low-pass filter is omitted to maximise the potential for image sharpness.

sensor

24.2Mp, DX (6000x4000)

Processor

EXPEED 4

Viewfinder

Pentamirror, 0.82x, 95%

IsO AF Lcd Max burst (buffer) Memory card

100-12800 (25600 expanded) 39-point (9 cross-type) 3.2-inch vari-angle 5fps (13 Raw/100 JPEG) SD/HC/XC

TesTed In IssUe 44 PrIce: £560/$900

NIKON D5500 the SAme pixeL Count AnD pRoCeSSoR AS the pReCeDing D5300, built into the same style of monocoque (one-piece) body shell. The most notable upgrade in the newer D5500 is that its vari-angle LCD is a touchscreen. However, it loses the D5300’s built-in GPS.

sensor

24.2Mp, DX (6000x4000)

Processor

EXPEED 4

Viewfinder

Pentamirror, 0.82x, 95%

IsO AF Lcd Max burst (buffer) Memory card

100-12800 (25600 expanded) 39-point (9 cross-type) 3.2-inch vari-angle touchscreen 5fps (13 RAW/100 JPEG) SD/HC/XC

TesTed In IssUe 31 PrIce: £580/$535

NIKON D7000 outStRipping the neAR-pRo-LeveL D300s when it wAS LAunCheD in 2010, it nevertheless now lags behind the newer D7100 and D7200, but still offers advanced controls and great handling to suit creative photographers, and at a knockdown price.

sensor

16.2Mp, DX (4928x3264)

Processor

EXPEED 2

Viewfinder

Pentaprism, 0.94x, 100%

IsO AF Lcd Max burst (buffer) Memory card

100-6400 (25600 expanded) 39-point (9 cross-type) 3-inch 6fps (10-15 RAW/31 JPEG) 2x SD/HC/XC

TesTed In IssUe 19 PrIce: £750/$995

ENTHuSIAST D-SLRS

NIKON D7100 the D7100 getS A notAbLe hike in pixeL Count compared with the preceding D7000, along with the removal of the optical low-pass filter to maximise sharpness. Its autofocus system gets a boost too, and a 1.3x crop facility increases the maximum drive rate to 7fps.

sensor

24.1Mp, DX (6000x4000)

Processor

EXPEED 3

Viewfinder

Pentaprism, 0.94x, 100%

IsO AF Lcd Max burst (buffer) Memory card

100-6400 (25600 expanded) 51-point (15 cross-type) 3.2-inch 6fps, 7fps crop (6-9 RAW/33 JPEG) 2x SD/HC/XC

TesTed In IssUe 45 PrIce: £940/$1195

NIKON D7200 buiLDing on the D7100’S SpeCiFiCAtionS, Nikon’s latest and most advanced DX-format camera boasts better low-light autofocus, a bigger memory buffer, an updated processor, built-in Wi-Fi and NFC, plus new trick modes for light-trail photography and time-lapse movies.

sensor

24.2Mp, DX (6000x4000)

Processor

EXPEED 4

Viewfinder

Pentaprism, 0.94x, 100%

IsO AF Lcd Max burst (buffer) Memory card

www.digitalcameraworld.com

24.2Mp, DX (6000x4000)

Processor

100-25600 (102400 expanded, mono only) 51-point (15 cross-type) 3.2-inch 6fps, 7fps crop (18-27 RAW/100 JPEG) 2x SD/HC/XC

September 2015

139


GEAR ZONE

The world’s toughest tests

TesTed In IssUe 31 PrIce: £880/$1700

NIKON D300s the veteRAn D300s wAS LAunCheD ALL the wAy bACk in 2009, but is still available if you look hard enough. Image quality is appealing, the maximum drive rate is fast, and its entire body has a magnesium alloy build that’s particularly durable, though its specifications look dated.

sensor

12.3Mp, DX (4288x2848)

Processor

EXPEED

Viewfinder

Pentaprism, 0.94x, 100%

IsO

200-3200 (100-6400 expanded)

AF

51-point (15 cross-type)

Lcd

3-inch

Max burst (buffer)

7fps, 8fps with grip (18-45 RAW/44 JPEG)

Memory card

1x CF, 1x SD/HC/XC

TesTed In IssUe 27 PrIce: £1200/$1495

NIKON D610

SEMI-PRO D-SLRS

FuLL-FRAme photogRAphy StARtS heRe, with the most affordable of Nikon’s FX cameras. It’s no slouch, with a 6fps maximum drive rate and a quiet (but slower) continuous drive option. It also features a weather-sealed body and, compared with the D600, a revised shutter unit.

sensor

24.3Mp, FX (6016x4016)

Processor

EXPEED 3

Viewfinder

Pentaprism, 0.7x, 100%

IsO

100-6400 (50-25600 expanded)

AF

39-point (9 cross-type)

Lcd

3.2-inch

Max burst (buffer)

6fps (14-26 RAW/51 JPEG)

Memory card

2x SD/HC/XC

TesTed In IssUe 29 PrIce: £1750/$2295

NIKON D750 the D750 iS eASiLy mAnAgeAbLe FoR A pRoFeSSionAL FuLL-FRAme boDy. A recent addition to the line-up, it includes a tilting LCD screen and built-in Wi-Fi. The pixel count strikes a happy medium between the 16.2Mp Df/D4s and the 36.3Mp D810.

sensor

EXPEED 4

Viewfinder

Pentaprism, 0.7x, 100%

IsO AF Lcd Max burst (buffer) Memory card

100-12800 (50-51200 expanded) 51-point (15 cross-type) 3.2-inch tilt 6.5fps (15-33 RAW/87 JPEG)

2x SD/HC/XC

TesTed In IssUe 29 PrIce: £2000/$2745

NIKON Df iConiC DeSign meetS high-teCh exCeLLenCe in thiS RetRo beAuty. The Df is amazingly compact for a full-frame body but direct-access dials and buttons ensure that shooting controls are always within easy reach. The lack of a video shooting capability is a surprise omission.

sensor

16.2Mp, FX (4928x3280)

Processor

EXPEED 3

Viewfinder

Pentaprism, 0.7x, 100%

IsO AF Lcd Max burst (buffer) Memory card

100-12800 (50-204800 expanded) 39-point (9 cross-type) 3.2-inch 5.5fps (25-47 RAW/100 JPEG) SD/HC/XC

TesTed In IssUe 11 PrIce: £2250/$2900

NIKON D800e A SpeCiAL eDition oF the oRiginAL D800, this one has a modified optical low-pass filter that omits an anti-alias feature. It’s therefore better able to capture extraordinary levels of fine detail, maximising the potential of its ultra-high-resolution image sensor.

sensor

36.3Mp, FX (7360x4912)

Processor

EXPEED 3

Viewfinder

Pentaprism, 0.7x, 100%

IsO AF Lcd Max burst (buffer) Memory card

100-6400 (50-25600 expanded) 51-point (15 cross-type) 3.2-inch 4fps, 5fps DX crop (16-25 RAW/56 JPEG) 1xCF, 1x SD/HC/XC

TesTed In IssUe 37 PrIce: £2350/$3300

NIKON D810

PRO D-SLRS

the king oF the ReSoLution StAkeS, the D810 boasts 36.3 million pixels and, unlike the older D800e, has no optical low-pass filter. It has a later-generation processor and an extended sensitivity range. A specialised D810a edition for astrophotography is available (£3000, $3795).

sensor

36.3Mp, FX (7360x4912)

Processor

EXPEED 4

Viewfinder

Pentaprism, 0.7x, 100%

IsO AF Lcd Max burst (buffer) Memory card

64-12800 (32-51200 expanded) 51-point (15 cross-type) 3.2-inch 5fps, 7fps DX crop (18-58 RAW/100 JPEG) 1xCF, 1x SD/HC/XC

TesTed In IssUe 32 PrIce: £4450/$6500

NIKON D4s nikon’S SpeeDy FLAgShip pRoFeSSionAL D-SLR DeLiveRS 11FpS Shooting, complete with continuous autofocus and metering. Handling is sublime with duplicated controls for portraitorientation (upright) shooting, and image quality is immaculate, even at ultra-high ISO settings.

sensor

September 2015

16.2Mp, FX (4928x3280)

Processor

EXPEED 4

Viewfinder

Pentaprism, 0.7x, 100%

IsO AF Lcd Max burst (buffer) Memory card

140

24.3Mp, FX (6016x4016)

Processor

100-25600 (50-409600 expanded) 51-point (15 cross-type) 3.2-inch 11fps (36-176 RAW/200 JPEG) 1x CF, 1x XQD

www.digitalcameraworld.com


Buyer’s guide

buyer’s guide Vital statistics – find the right lens at the right price point

ed

es

No

Ultrasonic

f/3.5-4.5

460g

0.22m

0.2x

77mm

7

47

2.0x

No

Ultrasonic

f/4

465g

0.3m

0.12x

77mm

7

32

Nikon AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8G ED

£1320/$2000

FX

1.7x

No

Ultrasonic

f/2.8

970g

0.28m

0.15x

None

9

47

Nikon AF-S 16-35mm f/4G ED VR

£830/$1260

FX

2.2x

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/4

685g

0.28m

0.25x

77mm

9

47

Nikon AF-S 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED

£520/$750

FX

1.9x

No

Ultrasonic

f/3.5-4.5

385g

0.28m

0.2x

77mm

7

47

Nikon AF-S 17-35mm f/2.8D IF-ED

£1500/$1750

FX

2.1x

No

Ultrasonic

f/2.8

745g

0.28m

0.22x

77mm

9

Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM

£520/$700

DX

2.0x

No

Ultrasonic

f/4.5-5.6

555g

0.24m

0.13x

None

7

47

Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM

£385/$650

DX

2.0x

No

Ultrasonic

f/3.5

520g

0.24m

0.15x

82mm

7

47

Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM

£350/$400

DX

2.0x

No

Ultrasonic

f/4-5.6

465g

0.24m

0.15x

77mm

6

32

Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 II DG HSM

£600/$950

FX

2.0x

No

Ultrasonic

f/4.5-5.6

670g

0.28m

0.16x

None

6

47

Tamron SP AF 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II LD

£360/$500

DX

2.4x

No

Electric

f/3.5-4.5

406g

0.24m

0.2x

77mm

7

47

Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD

£950/$1200

FX

2.0x

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/2.8

1100g

0.28m

0.2x

None

9

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

£530/$530

DX

1.7x

No

Electric

f/3.5-4.5

350g

0.14m

0.39x

None

6

Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X PRO DX II

£600/$480

DX

1.5x

No

Electric

f/2.8

550g

0.3m

0.09x

77mm

9

32

Tokina 12-28mm f/4 AT-X Pro DX

£530/$450

DX

2.3x

No

Electric

f/4

530g

0.25m

0.2x

77mm

9

32

Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 AT-X PRO FX

£700/$630

FX

1.8x

No

Electric

f/2.8

950g

0.28m

0.19x

None

9

33

Tokina 17-35mm f/4 AT-X PRO FX

£550/$450

FX

2.1x

No

Electric

f/4

600g

0.28m

0.21x

82mm

9

Nikon AF-S DX 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR

£440/$600

DX

5.3x

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/3.5-5.6

485g

0.38m

0.22x

67mm

7

26

Nikon AF-S DX 17-55mm f/2.8G IF-ED

£1050/$1500

DX

3.2x

No

Ultrasonic

f/2.8

755g

0.36m

0.2x

77mm

9

26

g

ar

2.4x

DX

Aw

DX

£840/$1100

t in

Is

£640/$810

Nikon AF-S DX 12-24mm f/4G IF-ED

ds

vi

bl

e

Ap

su

Fi

er

tu

re

re

e iz rs

ew

ad

n ni ag M

lt e

f ic

s cu fo M

in

W

ei

gh

t

er ap M

ax

at

io

re tu

s cu fo

Au

to

St

ab

il i

ze

r

om zo

X M

ax

DX

/F

e ic Pr

wide-angle zooms

wide-angle zooms Nikon AF-S DX 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED

Ra

KEY: ● GREAT VALUE ● BEST ON TEST AWARD

HHH HHH HHHHH ● HHHH HHHH ● HHHH HHHH HHHH HHHH HHH

● ● ●

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standard zooms

standard zooms

Nikon AF-S DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED II

£120/$120

DX

3.1x

No

Ultrasonic

f/3.5-5.6

195g

0.28m

0.31x

52mm

7

Nikon AF-S DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR

£145/$200

DX

3.1x

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/3.5-5.6

265g

0.28m

0.31x

52mm

7

Nikon AF-S DX 18–55mm f/3.5–5.6G VR II

£230/$250

DX

3.1x

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/3.5-5.6

195g

0.28m

0.31x

52mm

7

Nikon AF-S DX 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR

£205/$400

DX

5.8x

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/3.5-5.6

420g

0.45m

0.2x

67mm

7

Nikon AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED

£1230/$1887

FX

2.9x

No

Ultrasonic

f/2.8

900g

0.38m

0.27x

77mm

9

26

Nikon AF-S 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR

£400/$597

FX

3.5x

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/3.5-4.5

465g

0.38m

0.22x

72mm

7

21

Nikon AF-S 24-120mm f/4G ED VR

£750/$1300

FX

5.0x

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/4

710g

0.45x

0.24x

77mm

9

21

Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM

£300/$520

DX

2.9x

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/2.8

565g

0.28m

0.2x

77mm

7

26

Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM | C

£330/$500

DX

4.1x

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/2.8-4

465g

0.22m

0.36x

72mm

7

26

Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM | A

£640/$800

DX

1.9x

No

Ultrasonic

f/1.8

810g

0.28m

0.23x

72mm

9

Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 IF EX DG HSM

£595/$900

FX

2.9x

No

Ultrasonic

f/2.8

790g

0.38m

0.19x

82mm

9

Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM | A

£680/$900

FX

4.4x

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/4

885g

0.45m

0.22x

82mm

9

Tamron SP AF 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II VC

£350/$650

DX

2.9x

Yes

Electric

f/2.8

570g

0.29m

0.21x

72mm

7

26

Tamron SP AF 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD

£800/$1300

FX

2.9x

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/2.8

825g

0.38m

0.2x

82mm

9

26

Tamron SP AF 28-75mm f/2.8 XR Di

£360/$500

FX

2.7x

No

Electric

f/2.8

510g

0.33m

0.26x

67mm

7

5

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

£195/$180

DX

3.6x

No

Ultrasonic

f/4-5.6

255g

0.95m

0.23x

52mm

9

35

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

£230/$250

DX

3.6x

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/4-5.6

335g

1.1m

0.23x

52mm

7

35

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

£280/$350

DX

3.6x

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/4-5.6

300g

1.1m

0.23x

52mm

7

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

£270/$400

DX

5.5x

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/4.5-5.6

530g

1.4m

0.22x

58mm

9

35

Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II

£1580/$2400

FX

2.9x

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/2.8

1540g

1.4m

0.12x

77mm

9

29

Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/4G ED VR

£940/$1400

FX

2.9x

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/4

850g

1.0m

0.27x

67mm

9

29

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

£420/$590

FX

4.3x

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/4.5-5.6

745g

1.5m

0.25x

67mm

9

45

Nikon AF 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED VR

£940/$1850

FX

5.0x

Yes

Body-driven

f/4.5-5.6

1360g

2.3m

0.21x

77mm

9

8

Nikon AF-S 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR

£1900/$2700

FX

5.0x

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/4.5-5.6

1570g

1.5m

0.2x

77mm

9

45

Nikon AF-S 200-400mm f/4G ED VR II

£4900/$7000

FX

2.0x

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/4

3360g

1.95m

0.27x

52mm

9

45

Samyang 650-1300mm MC IF f/8-16

£265/$240

FX

2.0x

No

None

f/8-16

2000g

5.0m

0.2x

95mm

0

26

HHHH HHHH

HHHHH HHH HHHH ● HHHH ● HHHH HHH HHH HHHHH ● HHH

telephoto zooms

telephoto zooms

Sigma 50-500mm f4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM

£1000/$1500

FX

10.0x

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/4.5-6.3

1970g

0.5-1.8m 0.32x

95mm

9

45

Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM

£750/$1200

FX

2.9x

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/2.8

1430g

1.4m

0.13x

77mm

9

29

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

£130/$150

FX

4.3x

No

Electric

f/4-5.6

545g

0.95m

0.5x

58mm

9

35

www.digitalcameraworld.com

September 2015

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141


gear zone

The world’s toughest tests

FX

4.3x

No

Electric

f/4-5.6

550g

0.95m

0.5x

58mm

9

35

£2700/$3600

FX

2.5x

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/2.8

3390g

1.5-2.5m

0.12x

105mm

9

45

Sigma APO 150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM

£700/$870

FX

3.3x

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/5-6.3

1780g

2.2m

0.19x

86mm

9

45

Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM | S

£1500/$2000

FX

4.0x

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/5-6.3

2860g

2.6m

0.2x

105mm

9

45

HHH HHHH HHHH HHHH

Sigma 200-500mm f/2.8 EX DG

£12,700/$26,000 FX

2.5x

No

Ultrasonic

f/2.8

15,700g

2.0-5.0m 0.13x

72mm

9 45

HHH HHHH HHH HHHH HHHH

Sigma 300-800mm f/5.6 EX DG HSM

£5500/$8000

FX

2.7x

No

Ultrasonic

f/5.6

5880g

6.0m

0.14x

46mm

9

Tamron SP AF 70-200mm f/2.8 Di LD (IF) Macro

£500/$770

FX

2.9x

No

Electric

f/2.8

1320g

0.95m

0.32x

77mm

9

Tamron SP AF 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD

£1000/$1500

FX

2.9x

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/2.8

1470g

1.3m

0.13x

77mm

9

29

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

£130/$150

FX

4.3x

No

Electric

f/4-5.6

458g

0.95m

0.5x

62mm

9

35

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

£290/$450

FX

4.3x

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/4-5.6

765g

1.5m

0.25x

62mm

9

35

Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD

£870/$1070

FX

4.0x

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/5-6.3

1951g

2.7m

0.2x

95mm

9

45

Nikon AF-S DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR

£460/$500

DX

7.8x

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/3.5-5.6

490g

0.45m

0.23x

67mm

7

27

Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II

£585/$500

DX

11.1x

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/3.5-5.6

565g

0.5m

0.22x

72mm

7

39

Nikon AF-S DX 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR

£670/$900

DX

16.7x

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/3.5-5.6

830g

0.45m

0.31x

77mm

9

39

Nikon AF-S DX 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED VR

£599/$897

DX

16.7x

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/3.5-6.3

550g

0.48m

0.32x

67mm

7

39

Nikon AF-S 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR

£660/$1050

FX

10.7x

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/3.5-5.6

800g

0.5m

0.32x

77mm

9

21

Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM | C

£270/$400

DX

11.1x

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/3.5-6.3

430g

0.39m

0.33x

62mm

7

39

Sigma 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM

£295/$350

DX

13.9x

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/3.5-6.3

470g

0.35m

0.34x

62mm

7

39

Sigma 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM | C

£400/$580

DX

16.7x

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/3.5-6.3

585g

0.39m

0.33x

72mm

7

Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Macro

£450/$630

DX

18.8x

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/3.5-6.3

540g

0.39m

0.34x

67mm

7

39

Tamron AF 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di II LD Macro £135/$200

DX

11.1x

No

Electric

f/3.5-6.3

405g

0.45m

0.27x

62mm

7

39

Tamron AF 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD

£330/$450

DX

15.0x

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/3.5-6.3

450g

0.49m

0.26x

62mm

7

39

Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD

£570/$850

FX

10.7x

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/3.5-6.3

540g

0.49m

0.29x

67mm

7

16

Tamron AF 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di LD

£330/$400

FX

10.7x

No

Body-driven

f/3.5-6.3

435g

0.49m

0.34x

62mm

9

Nikon AF DX 10.5mm f/2.8G ED Diagonal Fisheye

£550/$689

DX

None

No

Body-driven

f/2.8

305g

0.14m

0.2x

None

7

Nikon AF 14mm f/2.8D ED

£1240/$1890

FX

None

No

Body-driven

f/2.8

670g

0.2m

0.15x

None

7

Nikon AF 16mm f/2.8D Diagonal Fisheye

£625/$1000

FX

None

No

Body-driven

f/2.8

290g

0.25m

0.1x

None

7

Nikon AF-S 20mm f/1.8G ED

£680/$800

FX

None

No

Ultrasonic

f/1.8

355g

0.2m

0.23x

77mm

7

ds ar

£150/$180

Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM | S

Aw

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

Ra

Is

t in

g

re

Ap

su

e

tu

Fi

er

ed

vi

bl re

e iz

ew

n rs

ni ag M

lt e

f ic

s cu fo M

in

W

ei

gh

t

er ap M

ax

at

io

re tu

s cu fo

Au

to

St

ab

il i

ze

r

om zo M

ax

X DX

/F

e

telephoto zooms

Pr

ic

ad

es

KEY: ● GREAT VALUE ● BEST ON TEST AWARD

● ● ●

superzooms

superzooms

HHH HHHH HHH HHH HHHH HHHH HHHH

● ●

HHHHH ● HHHH HHH HHH

wide-angle primes

wide-angle primes

142

12

HHHH

12

HHHH

33

HHHHH

Nikon AF 20mm f/2.8D

£465/$625

FX

None

No

Body-driven

f/2.8

270g

0.25m

0.12x

62mm

7

Nikon AF-S 24mm f/1.4G ED

£1465/$2200

FX

None

No

Ultrasonic

f/1.4

620g

0.25m

0.18x

77mm

9

Nikon AF 24mm f/2.8D

£370/$395

FX

None

No

None

f/2.8

270g

0.3m

0.11x

52mm

7

Nikon PC-E 24mm f/3.5D ED (tilt & shift)

£1465/$2200

FX

None

No

None

f/3.5

730g

0.21m

0.37x

77mm

9

25

Nikon AF-S 28mm f/1.8G

£495/$697

FX

None

No

Ultrasonic

f/1.8

330g

0.25m

0.22x

67mm

7

25

HHHH HHHH

25

HHHH

12

HHHH

33

HHHH

Nikon AF 28mm f/2.8D

£245/$290

FX

None

No

Body-driven

f/2.8

205g

0.25m

0.18x

72mm

7

Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.4G

£1295/$1500

FX

None

No

Ultrasonic

f/1.4

600g

0.3m

0.2x

67mm

9

Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.8G ED

£430/$597

FX

None

No

Ultrasonic

f/1.8

305g

0.25m

0.24x

58mm

7

Nikon AF 35mm f/2D

£255/$390

FX

None

No

None

f/2

205g

0.25m

0.24x

52mm

7

Samyang 8mm f/3.5 IF MC CSII DH Circular Fisheye

£285/$260

FX

None

No

None

f/3.5

435g

0.3m

N/S

None

6

Samyang 10mm f/2.8 ED AS NCS CS

£410/$385

DX

None

No

None

f/2.8

600g

0.25m

N/S

None

6

Samyang 12mm f/2.8 ED AS NCS Diagonal Fisheye

£480/$350

FX

None

No

None

f/2.8

530g

0.2m

N/S

None

7

Samyang 14 mm f/2.8 IF ED UMC

£320/$320

FX

None

No

None

f/2.8

560g

0.28m

N/S

None

6

Samyang 16mm f/2 ED AS UMC CS

£435/$360

DX

None

No

None

f/2

590g

0.2m

N/S

77mm

8

Samyang 24mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC

£560/$530

FX

None

No

None

f/1.4

680g

0.25m

N/S

77mm

8

Samyang T-S 24mm f/3.5 ED AS UMC (tilt & shift) £900/$700

FX

None

No

None

f/3.5

680g

0.2m

N/S

82mm

8

25

Samyang 35mm f/1.4 AS UMC AE

£440/$450

FX

None

No

None

f/1.4

660g

0.3m

0.2x

77mm

8

40

Sigma 4.5mm f/2.8 EX DC HSM Circular Fisheye

£600/$800

DX

None

No

Ultrasonic

f/2.8

470g

0.14m

0.17x

None

6

12

Sigma 8mm f/3.5 EX DG Circular Fisheye

£620/$900

FX

None

No

Electric

f/3.5

400g

0.14m

0.22x

None

6

12

Sigma 10mm f/2.8 EX DC HSM Diagonal Fisheye

£480/$600

DX

None

No

Ultrasonic

f/2.8

475g

0.14m

0.11x

None

7

12

Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX DG Diagonal Fisheye

£475/$600

FX

None

No

Electric

f/2.8

370g

0.15m

0.26x

None

7

12

Sigma 28mm f/1.8 EX DG Asp Macro

£360/$450

FX

None

No

Electric

f/1.8

500g

0.2m

0.34x

77mm

9

7

Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM | A

£650/$900

FX

None

No

Ultrasonic

f/1.4

665g

0.3m

0.19x

67mm

9

40

Voigtlander 20mm f/3.5 Color-Skopar SL II

£500/$550

FX

None

No

None

f/3.5

205g

0.2m

N/S

52mm

9

Voigtlander 28mm f/2.8 Color-Skopar SL II

£400/$530

FX

None

No

None

f/2.8

180g

0.22m

N/S

52mm

9

Voigtlander 40mm f/2 Color-Ultron SL II

£440/$500

FX

None

No

None

f/2

200g

0.38m

N/S

52mm

9

Zeiss Distagon T* 15mm f/2.8 ZF.2

£2250/$2950

FX

None

No

None

f/2.8

730g

0.25m

0.11x

95mm

9

Zeiss Distagon T* 18mm f/3.5 ZF.2

£1090/$1400

FX

None

No

None

f/3.5

470g

0.3m

0.08x

82mm

9

Zeiss Distagon T* 21mm f/2.8 ZF.2

£1450/$1845

FX

None

No

None

f/2.8

600g

0.22m

0.2x

82mm

9

September 2015

HHHH ● HHHH HHHH HHHH HHH HHHH HHH HHHHH ●

www.digitalcameraworld.com


ed

No

None

f/2

570g

0.25m

0.17x

67mm

9

None

No

None

f/2

500g

0.24m

0.21x

58mm

9

Zeiss Distagon T* 35mm f/1.4 ZF.2

£1450/$1845

FX

None

No

None

f/1.4

830g

0.3m

0.2x

72mm

9

Zeiss Distagon T* 35mm f/2 ZF.2

£850/$1120

FX

None

No

None

f/2

530g

0.3m

0.19x

58mm

9

£150/$180 £1395/$2050 £275/$420 £280/$420 £110/$135 £150/$220 £350/$470 £1300/$1700 £420/$440 £370/$500 £320/$400 £700/$950 £409/$490 £560/$725 £3170/$3990

DX FX FX FX FX FX FX FX FX DX FX FX FX FX FX

None None None None None None None None None None None None None None None

No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No

Ultrasonic None Body-driven Ultrasonic Body-driven Ultrasonic Ultrasonic Ultrasonic None Ultrasonic Ultrasonic Ultrasonic None None None

f/1.8 f/2.8 f/1.4 f/1.4 f/1.8 f/1.8 f/1.8 f/1.4 f/1.4 f/1.4 f/1.4 f/1.4 f/1.4 f/1.4 f/1.4

200g 740g 230g 280g 155g 185g 190g 385g 575g 435g 520g 815g 320g 330g 970g

0.3m 0.25m 0.45m 0.45m 0.45m 0.45m 0.45m 0.58m 0.45m 0.3m 0.5m 0.4m 0.45m 0.45m 0.5m

0.16x 0.5x 0.15x 0.15x 0.15x 0.15x 0.15x 0.13x N/S 0.15x 0.14x 0.18x N/S 0.15x 0.15x

52mm 77mm 52mm 58mm 52mm 58mm 58mm 72mm 77mm 62mm 77mm 77mm 58mm 58mm 77mm

7 9 7 9 7 7 7 9 8 9 9 9 9 9 9

28 25

HHH HHHH

40 7 28

HHHH HHHH HHHH

40

HHHH

Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.4G

£1177/$1549

FX

None

No

Ultrasonic

f/1.4

595g

0.85m

0.12x

77mm

9

40

Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8G

£350/$495

FX

None

No

Ultrasonic

f/1.8

350g

0.8m

0.12x

67mm

7

28

Nikon PC-E Micro 85mm f/2.8D (tilt & shift)

£1300/$1980

FX

None

No

None

f/2.8

635g

0.39m

0.5x

77mm

9

25

standard primes

3

standard primes

28 28 40

Aw

None

FX

ar

g t in

FX

£980/$1285

Ra

£1270/$1700

Zeiss Distagon T* 28mm f/2 ZF.2

Nikon AF-S DX 35mm f/1.8G Nikon PC-E Micro 45mm f/2.8D ED (tilt & shift) Nikon AF 50mm f/1.4D Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.4G Nikon AF 50mm f/1.8D Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8 NIKKOR (retro) Nikon AF-S 58mm f/1.4G Samyang 50mm f/1.4 AS UMC Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC HSM | A Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM | A Voigtlander 58mm f/1.4 Color Nokton SL II Zeiss Planar T* 50mm f/1.4 ZF.2 Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4

ds

vi

bl

e su

Ap

Zeiss Distagon T* 25mm f/2 ZF.2

Is

Fi

er

tu

re

re

e iz

ew

n rs

ni M

ag

M

lt e

f ic

s cu fo

W

in

M

ei

gh

t

er ap ax

at

io

re tu

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Au

to

St

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X M

ax

DX

/F

e ic Pr

wide-angle primes

ad

es

Buyer’s guide

● ●

HHHH HHHH ● HHHHH ●

telephoto primes HHHH HHHH HHHH

telephoto primes

Nikon AF DC 105mm f/2D (defocus control)

£850/$1200

FX

None

No

Body-driven

f/2

640g

0.9m

0.13x

72mm

9

Nikon AF DC 135mm f/2D (defocus control)

£1030/$1390

FX

None

No

Body-driven

f/2

815g

1.1m

0.14x

72mm

9

14

Nikon AF-S 200mm f/2G ED VR II

£4100/$6000

FX

None

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/2

2930g

1.9m

0.12x

52mm (drop-in) 9

29

Nikon AF-S 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II

£4000/$5900

FX

None

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/2.8

2900g

2.3m

0.16x

52mm

9

14

HHHH HHHH HHHH

Nikon AF-S 300mm f/4D IF-ED

£1030/$1490

FX

None

No

Ultrasonic

f/4

1440g

1.45m

0.27x

77mm

9

Nikon AF-S 300mm f/4E PF ED VR

£1640/$2000

FX

None

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/4

755g

1.4m

0.24x

77mm

9

Nikon AF-S 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR

£10,400/$12,000 FX

None

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/2.8

3800g

2.6m

0.14x

40.5mm

9

Nikon AF-S 500mm f/4G ED VR

£5850/$8600

FX

None

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/4

3880g

4.0m

0.14x

52mm

9

Nikon AF-S 600mm f/4G ED VR

£7070/$10,300 FX

None

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/4

5060g

5.0m

0.14x

52mm

9

Nikon AF-S 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR

£13,995/$17,900 FX

None

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/5.6

4590g

5.9m

0.15x

52mm

9

Samyang 85mm f/1.4 IF MC

£305/$289

FX

None

No

None

f/1.4

539g

1.0m

0.11x

72mm

8

40

HHHH

Samyang 135mm f/2 ED UMC

£420/$600

FX

None

No

None

f/2

830g

0.8m

N/S

77mm

9

Samyang 500mm MC IF f/6.3 Mirror

£125/$150

FX

None

No

None

f/6.3

705g

2.0m

N/S

95mm

0

8

Samyang 500mm MC IF f/8 Mirror

£105/$130

FX

None

No

None

f/8

320g

1.7m

N/S

72mm

0

8

HH HH

0 40

HHHH

34

HHH HHH HHH HHHH

Samyang 800mm MC IF f/8 Mirror

£170/$200

FX

None

No

None

f/8

870g

3.5m

N/S

30mm

Sigma 85mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM

£650/$970

FX

None

No

Ultrasonic

f/1.4

725g

0.85m

0.12x

77mm

9

Sigma APO 300mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM

£2280/$3400

FX

None

No

Ultrasonic

f/2.8

2400g

2.5m

0.13x

46mm

9

Sigma APO 500mm f/4.5 EX DG HSM

£3760/$5000

FX

None

No

Ultrasonic

f/4.5

3150g

4.0m

0.13x

46mm

9

Sigma APO 800mm f/5.6 EX DG HSM

£4320/$8000

FX

None

No

Ultrasonic

f/5.6

4.9kg

7.0m

0.11x

46mm

9

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 ZF.2

£3250/$4390

FX

None

No

None

f/1.4

1140g

0.8m

0.13x

86mm

9

Zeiss Planar T* 85mm f/1.4 ZF.2

£990/$1285

FX

None

No

None

f/1.4

570g

1.0m

0.1x

72mm

9

Zeiss Apo Sonnar T* 135mm f/2 ZF.2

£1600/$2125

FX

None

No

None

f/2

920g

0.8m

0.25x

77mm

9

Nikon AF-S DX 40mm f/2.8G Micro

£185/$250

DX

None

No

Ultrasonic

f/2.8

235g

0.16m

1.0x

52mm

7

Nikon AF 60mm f/2.8D Micro

£370/$520

FX

None

No

Body-driven

f/2.8

440g

0.22m

1.0x

62mm

7

Nikon AF-S 60mm f/2.8G ED Micro

£370/$600

FX

None

No

Ultrasonic

f/2.8

425g

0.19m

1.0x

62mm

9

34

Nikon AF-S DX 85mm f/3.5G ED VR Micro

£375/$530

DX

None

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/3.5

355g

0.29m

1.0x

52mm

9

34

Nikon AF-S 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED VR Micro

£630/$880

FX

None

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/2.8

750g

0.31m

1.0x

62mm

9

20

Nikon AF 200mm f/4D IF-ED Micro

£1180/$1790

FX

None

No

Body-driven

f/4

1190g

0.5m

1.0x

62mm

9

Sigma 70mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro

£360/$450

FX

None

No

Body-driven

f/2.8

525g

0.26m

1.0x

62mm

9

20

Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro

£390/$670

FX

None

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/2.8

725g

0.31m

1.0x

62mm

9

34

Sigma APO 150mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro

£700/$1100

FX

None

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/2.8

1150g

0.38m

1.0x

72mm

9

20

Sigma APO 180mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro

£1200/$1700

FX

None

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/2.8

1640g

0.47m

1.0x

86mm

9

14

Tamron SP AF 60mm f/2 Di II LD (IF) Macro

£330/$525

DX

None

No

Electric

f/2

350g

0.23m

1.0x

55mm

7

34

Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro

£370/$500

FX

None

No

Electric

f/2.8

405g

0.29m

1.0x

55mm

9

34

Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro VC USD

£400/$750

FX

None

Yes

Ultrasonic

f/2.8

550g

0.3m

1.0x

58mm

9

34

Tamron SP AF 180mm f/3.5 Di Macro

£700/$740

FX

None

No

Electric

f/3.5

985g

0.47m

1.0x

72mm

7

14

Tokina 100mm f/2.8 AT-X PRO Macro

£370/$380

FX

None

No

Body-driven

f/2.8

540g

0.3m

1.0x

55mm

9

34

Zeiss Makro Planar T* 50mm f/2 ZF.2

£1000/$1450

FX

None

No

None

f/2

500g

0.24m

0.5x

67mm

9

Zeiss Makro Planar 100mm f/2 T* ZF.2

£1450/$1845

FX

None

No

None

f/2

660g

0.44m

0.5x

67mm

9

macro

macro

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HH HHHHH ● ● HHHH HHHH HHH HHHH HHHH HHH HHH

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-viewpoint-

joe McNally

There isn’t much that acclaimed photographer Joe McNally hasn’t shot in his stellar 30-year career, but as he explains in the first of his monthly columns, the human body is hard to beat... rapturous fantasies – a sublime connection between body, soul and imagination. We can’t help but stare. And, so, it’s not rocket science to figure this out. It’s pretty much fun to make their picture. Over time, I have developed a working relationship with the performance community in Las Vegas, the home of neon, glitz, skin and splash. This redoubtable crew of gifted athletes nightly goes on stage and flies, high kicks, struts and spins the stuff of dreams. I gathered a group of them together not long ago, and experimented all day with a Nikon D810 and some Profoto B1 flash units. The B1s were at the edge of prototype phase, and it was my first experience with the

The D810’s phenomenal sharpness alongside Nikon’s 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom lens is a beautiful combination for shooting beautiful humans

The rim lighting here helps to pick out the shapes of the athletes, while the smoke adds texture to the lighting – use the latter occasionally, as it tends to wander

146

September 2015

Profoto air remote system. I experimented, bouncing between manual and TTL controls, rarely having to leave the camera, and dictating light levels and ratios to the flashes on the set wirelessly. I was thrilled with the two-way communication with the Nikon system, even then, and now that the B1 TTL units are in full-blown production status, the news is even better. When more power is called for, and you absolutely need a larger flash that can cross over easily from the studio to the field, operate on battery, and give you a wallop of light, the B1 is basically the go-to unit. Likewise the D810 is the go-to picture machine for this type of job. Why would you address these magnificent examples of human architecture with any less resolution? The D810’s phenomenal sharpness plus Nikon’s 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom lens is a beautiful combination for shooting beautiful humans. Smoke. It’s a wonder and a vexation. Kind of like herding cats, it meanders. But if you fill a background with vapour occasionally, it can add texture and depth to your lighting. For most of the day, I worked with a combination of sidelights, an overhead strip and a small strip, positioned low. I played with the values of these lights via the air remote, and sometimes shut them down altogether, depending on the attitude and positioning of my subject. Black and white was a natural way, to me, to approach this. Colour, I feel, would have

My set-up: the sidelights rim the athletes out from the dark background, the overhead strip (RFI 1x6) is my main light and the small RFI 1x3 strip is for fill.

interfered with the directness and intensity of the athletes as they presented themselves to the camera. They were stripped down, essentially, using nothing but their physicality, so I kept it equally basic in camera, shifting into monochrome mode on the LCD, so I could see and feel in black and white. It was a good day in the studio. The technology of cameras now allows the photographer’s imagination of to run free, and fast. • To see more of Joe’s amazing images, visit his website at www.joemcnally.com

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Images: Joe McNally. Profile shot of Joe by Mike Corrado

have always loved photographing the human body in some degree of exertion. In flight, in action, moving fast, straining for excellence, or seeking that extra tenth of a second that can spell the difference between the medal stand and the sidelines. It’s a beautiful thing, and a natural magnet for the camera. These folks – athletes, dancers, actors, circus people, acrobats – are amazing. Why do we pay $100 for a theatre ticket to sit in a seat a couple of hundred feet from the action and stare at them? Because on stage, or in front of the camera, graced by light, dripping in drama, stripped down, either physically or emotionally, they become unvarnished, nearly


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N photo september 2015 uk