As more companies develop small cameras with compact lenses that you can detatch and swap out, those of us who write about photography have been struggling with what to call this new type of camera system. With no mirror for directing the image through the lens to a viewfinder, it’s not a single-lens reflex (SLR).
Pentax's least expensive DSLR delivers HD video, live view, and ISO 6400 at a great price
Noise, Autofocus, Speed
Ergonomics and Controls
The Bottom Line
WHEN KNOWLEDGEABLE (and thrifty) photographers want a good deal on a budget SLR, Pentax has been the go-to brand for decades. To this day, you can still find young photography students shooting with Pentax Kl000 film SLRs. Does the company’s current entry-level DSLR, the 12.4MP K-x ($537, street, with 18-55mm f/3.5—5.6 lens), live up to the Pentax legacy? It sure does.
WHEN WE awarded Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-G1, the first Micro Four Thirds camera, our Camera of the Year in 2008, we had an eye on the format’s future. Now, with the new Samsung NX and just-announced Sony Alpha compact systems (see pages 6 and 14) joining Panasonic and Olympus in the interchangeable-lens compact category, the rivalry is getting exciting.
THIS TOP-OF-THE-LINE Samsung TL500 compact is going to give shooters looking for a high-end pocket camera a lot to think about. Not only does its lens get truly wide at a 24mm equivalent, it also opens up to f/1.8— one of the biggest apertures we’ve ever seen in a compact.
shooters want to go really wide, their options max out at 10mm, about a 15mm equivalent on most DSLRs. But Sigma’s new 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM lens is wider: At a 12mm equivalent, it’s the widest non-fisheye lens you can use on your APS-C camera.
WANT TO print big? (And we mean really big.) You’ll need a wide-format printer, like Canon’s new 24-inch imagePROGRAF iPF6300. We admit it’s pricey at $3,700 (est. street), but for photographers who sell a lot of big prints it could be a worthy investment.
YOU CANT always carry a tripod with you. And even if you have a tripod, you don’t always have room to set it up. That’s where Vanguard’s PH-242 window mount comes in. Essentially a tripod head on a clamp, it allows you to attach your camera to your car’s window, a deck railing, or even a (steady) tree branch.
Interfit’s Strobies Delta wireless camera triggers ($54, est. street; www.interfitphoto graphic.com) offer plenty of remote control at an unusually low price. The two models should fire select Canon, Fujifilm, Kodak, and Nikon cameras from up to 320 feet.
AFTER A LULL, we’re finally seeing some more interesting bags. The latest trend? Bags made for specific circumstances. Clik Elite’s Nature + ClikStand bag is for shooters who hike. Its internal frame doubles as a camera support, so you can mount your DSLR or an external flash sans tripod.
Go Luddite with a camera that delivers prints ASAP
One reason we love digital: its infinite reproducibility. But that’s also one reason we hate it—any picture could end up on Face-book for all to see. That’s why we might bring Fujifilm’s cute new Instax Mini 25 ($125, estimated street) to our next party.
The elegant interior of the highest-capacity CF card
Extreme Pro cards
MEMORY Each of the four memory blocks (two on each side of the card) can hold 16 GB of data. Firmware in the controller chip spreads out the data between all four memory blocks for greater reliability. The process, called "wear leveling," arranges data so that erasures and rewrites are evenly distributed.
"I LOVE WINTER photography," says Travis Forbear (twforbear. zenfolio.com). "But after reading the [February 2010] Photo Challenge, I pushed myself to make my images more focused." The 33-year-old photographer from Hart, MI, had shot snow-flakes before, but our request to capture something frozen, he says, persuaded him to "get closer and more detailed."
A look at what the backs of our T-shirts say about us
"WHEN PEOPLE choose a T-shirt, it’s not just something to wear,” says New York-based photographer Susan A. Barnett (sabarnett. com). "Often it’s to communicate a strongly felt message." This was the inspiration for the 58-year-old’s series, Not In Your Face.
WHAT KIND OF STORMS DO YOU LOOK FOR? The ideal storm target is a triple point: for instance, where a cold front and dryline intersect. The panhandle of Texas is perfect for chasing such systems, because it’s flat—no trees and mountains to block the sky.
AS A HIGH SCHOOL yearbook advisor, I share Popular Photography with my students, either for specific yearbook-relevant advice or for general inspiration. Peter Kolonia’s March 2010 article offers both: We think most of his "Secrets of Wildlife Photographers" apply to (as he says) "finding, luring, lighting, posing, and coaxing photogenic behavior" from fellow classmates, too.
Q My Sigma 70—300mm f/4—5.6 DL Macro zoom worked great on my Canon EOS Rebel film SLR. Recently I bought a Canon EOS Rebel XTi digital SLR. The Sigma lens fits on fine, but sometimes the body will show error code 99, and I have to turn off the camera to reset it.
This month’s winners find inspiration as the sun sets
1st Place $300 Prize PHILLIP WISE, 30, WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER, BEND, OR "This shot was taken a few blocks from downtown Cannon Beach, OR. My wife and I go every year for about a week. This year we were staying on a part of the beach that was new to me, and I went out to watch the sunset, bringing my camera with me.
CAPTURING ICONIC landscapes requires patience, luck, and planning. Commercial and editorial photographer Glenn Oakley of Boise, ID, a former photojournalist, brings something else to his landscapes: "You can be in the right place and get great light," he says.
MICHAEL PHAM of Westminster, CA was right in getting that nice catchlight in the bird’s eye, something wildlife specialists urge all the time. We’re not enthusiastic about the background, though—it’s too sharp, and the bright green fights with the subject even more.
MYTH: For the best exposures, you should set shutter speed, aperture, and ISO so that the bell curve of your histogram is centered, not falling off the extreme right or left edges. TRUTH: Depending on the subject, perfect exposure may put the bulk of the data almost anywhere on the histogram.
MOST PHOTOGRAPHERS feel that they have two choices at night: Using a harsh electronic flash or lugging a tripod along. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get great pictures after dark. The trick? Finding tripod substitutes. Tree limbs, park benches, tables, railings, rocks, and light posts can all make decent supports for satisfyingly sharp photography after the sun has set.
MISS SQUINTING THROUGH a loupe at thumbnails of your images? Prefer to pick the best and plan your crops with a grease pencil instead of software? Adobe Bridge CS4 (which comes with Photoshop and Elements for Mac) has an easier-than-ever method for printing contact sheets: You can now make PDFs without leaving Bridge.
LAST MONTH, I explained a method for finding and setting your image’s black and white points. Using that procedure adds just the right amount of contrast to a flat image, and sometimes corrects color issues, too. Yet finding the black and white points is often just the first step.
WHEN I FIND all my photos start looking the same—the same as my earlier work, the same as everyone else’s work—I turn to Lensbaby selective-focus tools to get my mojo back. Slapping a Lensbaby on one of my Canon DSLR bodies encourages me to look through my viewfinder differently, with exciting results.
TO EXPLORE THE NATURAL WONDERS OF ALASKA’S INSIDE PASSAGE, PHOTOGRAPHER JON CORNFORTH TOOK TO THE WATER—NOT IN A CRUISE SHIP, BUT IN HIS OWN SMALL BOAT.
Capturing the Landscape
MOST ALASKANS refer to the panhandle simply as "Southeast." It’s the last leg of the Inside Passage, the famed coastal route that extends north from Washington State, through British Columbia, and into Southeast Alaska. More than two million people visit each year, most often on a cruise ship.
ALL YOU NEED FOR THIS PORTRAIT IS SAND, SUN, A REFLECTOR—AND HALLE BERRY. FOR FIVE LIGHTING SETUPS FROM SIMPLE TO COMPLEX TURN THE PAGE.
NATURE'S LIGHTING STARTER KIT: THE SUN
A LOCATION PRO TAKES THE STUDIO OUTSIDE
MIXING DAYLIGHT AND STROBE
FOR JEWELRY, IT’S ALL ABOUT SPARKLE
LOTS OF LIGHTS KEEP IT DARK
PHOTOGRAPHY'S MOST basic lighting option, the sun, is also one of the most versatile. It can be bright and hard or dim and soft. It can be warm and highly directional, casting long shadows. Or, behind clouds, its light can be blue, diffuse, and shadow-free.
AND TIPS FOR HOW YOU CAN APPLY THEM TO YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY
1 THE BROADER the light source, the softer the light. The narrower the source, the harder the light. A broad light source lessens shadows, reduces contrast, suppresses texture. A narrow light source does the opposite. This is because, with a broad source, light rays hit your subject from more directions, which tends to fill in shadows and give more even illumination to the scene.
The new series of Flashpoint Flip-Lock carbon fiber tripods is beautifully finished, amazingly lightweight and compact. They perform as well as or better than high priced European tripods and they cost a fraction of the price—an equation that spells real value for serious shooters.
WITH A SLEEK, retro style, Pentax’s latest version of its 100mm f/2.8 macro looks much different from earlier iterations. The $700 (street) lens, joining the WR (weather-resistant) line, now has a metal body instead of rein-forced polycarbonate, and a metal manual-focusing ring, along with weathersealing.
NIKON HAS produced more than half a dozen high-speed, tele zooms since the early 1980s. The first with Vibration Reduction— the full-frame 70-200mm f/2.8 VR of 2003—was an instant classic, lauded for its high-speed autofocus, VR, and attractive styling.
LIGHTS AND ACCESSORIES FOR TAKING YOUR STUDIO ANYWHERE
THE BEST LOCATION lights are powerful, well-designed, light-weight, durable enough for daily studio use, and able to draw power from batteries. Calumet’s Travelites fit the bill. Available in the U.S. in a variety of models, they’re marketed in the rest of the world as Bowens Gemini strobes.
SOFTWARE THAT MAKES EDITING AND SHARING IMAGES EASY
In the Full Editor, the Learning Center is there to help you along.
COREL’S PAINTSHOP Photo Pro, now in version X3, has long been a compelling image editor. It offers Windows users sophisticated adjustment tools, as well as fast fixes and fun projects. In this iteration ($90, street), Corel added and improved some editing features and made a smart move: It separated editing and organizing from creating and sharing, giving each of these two sets of functions its own application.
Perhaps the most widely read issue of the year was our May Directory, an annual overview of all current still and movie cameras, lenses, enlargers, films, papers, darkroom equipment and photo products. The cover by action specialist Dave Peskin shows MGM dancing star Cyd Charisse.
Erik Butler captures a keeper of the Golden Gate Bridge
THE STORY BEHIND this image is pretty intense. It’s from an article that I did for Reader’s Digest in 2001, about one of the ironworkers on the Golden Gate Bridge: Ken Hopper, whose feet you see here. The main task of ironworkers on that bridge is to take out rusting rivets and replace them with newer bolts.