It used to be axiomatic that the lens is more important than the camera. But now that cameras are more like computers, are lenses still as important? Absolutely. That’s why this issue includes an 11-page Special Report on Optics (“5 Hot Trends in Lenses,” page 58, and “How to Buy a Lens,” page 67), as well as a lens-only edition of The Guide (page 86).
Drop, throw, or immerse this rugged compact without fear of camera failure
CASIO EXILIM EX-G1
WE KNOW A camera is a candidate for the “We Want This” treatment when even our occasionally jaded editors can’t stop picking it up, playing with it, and asking who’s next in line to borrow it. And the Casio Exilim EX-G1 sure got that reaction.
SOME OF the specs that impressed us most about the Canon Vixia HFM30 camcorder were small numbers: the size, less than 5 inches on its longest dimension, and the price, projected at $699, street. For that you get big numbers: 1920x1080p HD recording, 15X zoom, 8GB of internal memory (plus an SDHC card slot), and a 2.7-inch touchscreen.
Sony introduced Sweep Panorama mode last year: Press the shutter, pan the scene, and get a very wide image. But if anyone in the shot moved during your pan, the uniform strips comprising the final image would slice that person to pieces. The new Intelligent Sweep Panorama combines strips of varying width, so your friends will stay intact.
Nik Software first made a splash with Viveza 1 in early 2008. The plug-in for Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, and Apple Aperture uses Nik’s U Point technology to make fast, accurate selections, allowing precise light and color fixes where they’re needed most.
NO DSLRS HERE An issue of Pop Photo without an exciting DSLR announcement? That’s because we’ve hit one of the annual DSLR dry months. Instead, you’ll notice more fun-featured, consumer-oriented gear, coinciding with January’s Consumer Electronics Show.
The latest un-SLR is the first with an APS-C sensor
THE CATEGORY of non SLR cameras with interchangeable lenses continues to morph from cult curiosity to mainstream trend, with mega-manufacturer Samsung announcing its take on the genre, the NX10. While it follows the Micro Four Thirds pioneers by Olympus and Panasonic, plus Ricoh’s new modular GXR, the NX10 is the first of this type of camera to be built around an APS-C-size sensor, the world’s most widely used DSLR format.
LOCATION LIGHTING options grow brighter, less heavy, and more innovative each month. Take Elinchrom’s Ranger Quadra system. In a carton smaller than most mailboxes, the starter kit includes a 400 Ws head, 3-pound battery, and charger. Its 8.8-ounce head is lighter than many shoe-mount flashes.
SOME PEOPLE would rather risk missing a shot than carry a bulky or heavy tripod. With them in mind, Tamrac developed an alternative: the 11-ounce ZipShot ($50, street; www.zipshot tripod.com), rated to hold up to 3 pounds. With legs that work like tent poles—unstrap the hollow, bungee-strung aluminum legs, and they fold out and right themselves—it’s ultracompact and sets up fast.
How Sony rocks a full-frame sensor for sharper images
SONY’S ALPHA 900 was the first full-frame DSLR with in-camera image stabilization; the A850 followed suit in late 2009. Since full-framers are bigger and heavier than APS-C sensors, adding IS required a more powerful mechanism. The module illustrated here helps capture sharper pictures by sensing camera shake and shifting the sensor in both directions to compensate—while adding little to the size and weight of the camera.
WHEN STEPHAN KOLB read our November 2009 Photo Challenge on light-painting, he decided to learn a new technique. The 55-year-old carpenter (www. stephankolbstudio.com) from Edgewood, NM, came up with this clever winner—and a few other images we liked nearly as much.
“MANY SCIENTISTS take pictures of nanoscience, but the pictures don’t really communicate what is going on,” says Felice Frankel. “I wanted people to see how fascinating that world is.” No small task, even for her. Often called a “photoscience journalist,” Frankel, 64, has spent the past 19 years doing photography that’s not just beautiful but illustrates scientific concepts.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN RODEOS? I was on assignment in Jackson Hole, WY, for my old job as the Mayo Clinic’s staff photographer. I had never been to a rodeo before, and thought it was interesting, so I decided to make it a personal project. The next summer I got permission to go behind the scenes.
THANKS FOR the article in the December 2009 issue on flash-mounted ring-light adapters (“Dazzling Ring”). I’d been wanting one of these for some time, and the article finally gave me the inspiration to try one out. Although I am still experimenting, I’ve found that gaining the consent of your subject is key.
Q Are your SQF lens tests weighted by lens type? For example, are a 300mm prime and a zoom lens at 300mm both tested and judged by the same methods and criteria? Jack Davis, Yuba City, CA A Yes, they’re tested and rated identically, although we use slightly different equations to produce SQF ratings for full-frame and digital-only lenses, taking into account the differing sizes of the sensors they’ll be used with.
Our winners score big with tight compositions and fascinating subjects
“This image is from my series of macro photographs of light on soap bubbles. To make it, I dipped a wire frame into a soap bubble mixture, and held it above a dark surface. I then positioned a studio light so that its output reflected across the bubble’s entire surface.”
Depicting an interior and exterior in a single image
CAPTURING THE SOUL of a physical space is architectural photographer Jim Brady’s specialty. But while the San-Diego-based pro (bradyarchitecturalphotography. com) works with some spectacular properties, photographing them is not an easy job: He must make rooms appear inviting and lived-in down to the details.
ORDINARILY, the Fix-It Team finds it perfectly acceptable to use shallow depth of field to let areas other than your subject’s face fall out of focus in a portrait, as Jade Ah Heng of Rose Hill, Mauritius, did here with her handsome friend, Buster.
HERE’S ONE FOR CLOSE-UP FANS: If you have a metric ruler and know the physical size (in millimeters) of your camera’s sensor (or film plane), you can deduce the magnification you’re working at for any given focusing distance. How? Place the ruler at the subject position so that it’s in focus, and count the number of millimeters visible, left to right.
NORTH SULLIVAN (www. northpix.com), a professional photographer based in Sydney, Australia, was hired in 1998 to document an international tour of the Qantas Choir, a children’s chorus underwritten by Australia’s largest airline. The tour included the filming of a Qantas TV commercial, and one of its most memorable scenes was staged on a breathtaking expanse of the Great Wall of China at Jinshanling.
A feature on some tripods, this hook lets you hang bags of stones or other weighty objects from a ’pod to help stabilize it. Where it is: Attached to the bottom of the tripod’s center column. It may not be readily visible—some, such as this spring-activated hook on Gitzo’s leveling tripod, retract into the center column.
KAN NAKAI, a product and fine-art photographer (www. kanphoto.com) who has studios in Maui and New York City (we can only dream) assigned himself a personal project: Light a glass object so that it appeared to glow from within. No easy task, because lighting glass with studio strobes often results in bright reflections that define the object’s outer surfaces, not its interior.
How to give an ordinary photo a circular fisheye look
on all four
SO OFTEN, we use Adobe Photoshop just to fix pictures—to correct white balance, add contrast, or remove elements that don’t belong. But sometimes it’s fun to do something wacky, taking an image to an entirely different place. One quick and easy trick: Make an ordinary photo look like it was shot with a circular fisheye lens, with its telltale shape and black background.
A sound trigger and flash snap the moment of impact
PHOTOGRAPHERS tend to think visually, but instead it was sound that inspired Mark Watson, an enthusiast who lives in Nottingham, England, to capture this shattering picture. (See more of his work at flickr.com/ photos/kalimistuk.) “I got the idea,” he explains, “after breaking a pencil point and hearing the lead hit the opposite wall.
WHAT’S SO special about winter for a photographer? No crowds, beautiful low-angle light all day long, fascinating wildlife behaviors, and dramatic ice formations, for starters. Winter in cold climes offers photo ops that you simply won’t find in the other three seasons.
OPTICAL DESIGN FOR BETTER PHOTOS NOW— AND IN THE FUTURE
The Rise of the Supertele Zooms
Anti-Shake Meets Macro
Shake Control Reaches Wider Angles
Normal Primes Get Fast and Close
STABILIZED AND WIDE
Micro Four Thirds Format Builds Out
MICRO FOUR THIRDS
CAMERAS SEEM to get all the attention, with their everclimbing pixel counts and buzzworthy features. But seasoned shooters will tell you—over and over—that lenses are what make the magic. To get a handle on the current state of the optical arts, we’ve pored over more than 80 lenses introduced in the past two years, and seen a handful of key trends emerge: dramatically longer zoom ranges, image stabilization on lenses designed for close-up and wide-angle work, a resurgence of fast primes, and new, highly compact glass for the Micro Four Thirds format.
READY FOR A SECOND (OR THIRD, OR FOURTH) LENS FOR YOUR DSLR?
1 ALL-IN-ONE ZOOM
2 FAST MIDRANGE ZOOM
3 FAST 50
4 KIT TELE-ZOOM
5 FAST SHORT TELE
6 FAST TELE-ZOOM
9 DEDICATED MACRO
HOW TO BUY YOUR LENS...THE RIGHT WAY
IT’S SIMPLE: You’re frustrated. Frustrated by far-away wildlife that’s a speck in your shot. Or close-ups that aren’t close enough. Or action so fast it’s gone before you grab it, low-light pictures full of noise because you had to crank up the ISO, or scenic shots that can’t seem to take in the scene.
Nikon’s update of its speedy shooter breaks another barrier
Handling and Controls
NO QUESTION, as the first camera with ISO 102,400 to hit the market, Nikon’s new D3S ($5,200, body only) is a groundbreaking achievement. Canon’s announcement that its upcoming EOS-ID Mark IV ($5,000, body only) will match that sensitivity only underscores the significance of Nikon’s accomplishment, But the super-high ISO is only part of the appeal of the D3S.
THE HEAVY ACTION in DSLRs lately has been in the step-up category. These cameras take entry-level models a notch further with improved imaging performance and extra capabilities, notably video capture. The Canon EOS Rebel T1i and Nikon D5000, for example, are aimed at buyers who want more capability than a basic DSLR offers, but don’t want to spring for the prices of a Canon EOS 50D or Nikon D90.
BUNDLED OFTEN as a kit with the Canon EOS 7D and 50D, this APS-Cformat zoom ($450, street) is for shooters who want more than a bare-bones 18-55mm kit lens without paying $575 (street) for the extra reach of Canon’s 18-200mm IS superzoom. This new 29-216mm equivalent boasts image stabilization, internal focusing, an ultra-low-dispersion (UD) glass element for suppressing fringing and boosting contrast.
Young girls are cute, puppies are cute—together, they are irresistible, as this cover by Peter Gowland proves. The girl is Gowland’s daughter Ann, the puppy was rented. Gowland made this picture with a 5x7 view camera and 250mm f/4.5 Zeiss Tessar in his studio on Kodachrome Professional Type B sheet film plus a 2A filter.
THIS IMAGE IS taken from my series, “In the Deep End.” It started in the summer of 2001, when I was swimming with a mask in a crowded public pool in the South of France. I became enthralled by the almost choreographic sense of movement—people floating or darting like seals, seemingly detached from gravity.