Summer has officially arrived and we are ready to spend just about every day in the pool. We have a lot of teaching to do this year with so many little ones just learning to swim, but I think we’ll manage just fine.
Cooking perpetual meals for unaligned appetites. Carpooling between three different locations in the span of a few minutes. Meeting the individual demands of four dependent yet different minds, some of which contradict one another. Perpetually assuring that a newly mobile baby doesn’t find herself in peril danger while her super hero brother flies through the house looking for villains…
Guess what, when you "like" something on social media, it matters to that person and can indirectly affect that individual’s income. In continuation with my posts on social media I want to discuss an important topic: engagement.
An octogenarian grandmother was cleaning out her home and in the clutter was a dusty old watch. She had no recollection of the watch’s history beyond the fact that her husband wore it on a few occasions with outfits he felt went well with the timepiece. She thought nothing of it and placed it in the box to take to the pawnshop.
Alright... so here it is, the honest truth. I want to write about something but I'm afraid to publish. I want to call out an entire industry, but fear that might slow down sponsored posts. I want to share my opinion on sponsored posts but shudder at the idea that some companies or agencies will find a reason to not work with me. What I want to write about is social media...
A few weeks ago Laowa sent me a copy of their first lens dedicated to Sony’s full frame e-mount system, the 15mm f/2.
A few weeks ago the company making the Laowa 12mm f/2.8 lens contacted me to see if I would be interested in reviewing their upcoming lens. They have a lot of information on their kickstarter already so I knew what to expect: sharpness throughout, zero distortion (amazing for such a wide field of view), and a fast aperture, all packed into a nice compact collection of glass and metal.
This post is purely opinion based much like everything I write on here so take it with a grain of salt. Though I feel as though it’s something that really needs to be addressed in the vast world of photography groups. Over the last couple of years I’ve been apart of many photography groups. I’ve left most of them.
It’s been a couple of months that I’ve been using the highly praised A7Rii, and it is about time I give my review on Sony’s latest flagship device.
It was herald as one of greatest cameras on the market. With 42 megapixels, squeezing out low-light performance like a Canon 6D, fantastic dynamic range, in-body image stabilization, and, to top it off, super-fast autofocus that is supposed to rival DSLRs… even with Canon built lenses!
Along with plenty of other photographers I have received this question quite a bit. That’s why I’ve decided to dedicate an entire post based off of this question since it’s sort of an all encompassing subject. One that should probably be revisited regularly since technology changes at a pace only a Buggati can keep up with. I’m going to be honest with you, I haven’t had enough experience with many brands to give you a detailed explanation as to what camera you should get. However, I will help guide you by offering you some insight into some major considerations when picking out your first real camera.
First up, is Mirrorless vs DSLR. If you’re reading this, then chances are, these two words may be greek to you. So let me boil it down to some simple concepts for you to consider the differences. One of the main types of cameras (digital or not) that have been around for decades involve a mirror. When you look at the camera without a lens on you’ll see an angled mirror. This mirror is how you’re able to see through the viewfinder and compose your shot. Since you’re looking through a mirror you’re seeing the scene exactly how your eyes see it and that’s not necessarily how your sensor will read the image. With a mirrorless system, that mirror is gone; hence the nomenclature. This elimination of a mirror allows a couple of benefits for photographers. One of the biggest deals people like to make about mirrorless systems is that they’re inherently smaller since there is a significant portion of the system eliminated. While this is true, the differences are minimal once you strap on “real” lenses to that “small” camera. We’ll cover lenses a bit later. The real benefit I see in mirrorless cameras comes down to how the viewfinder works in these systems. See, you’re constantly getting a “live” preview of your scene in a mirrorless system. What you see in the viewfinder is what you’ll get when you press the shutter. Having this preview allows you to really get a sense for what changes are going on when you change your exposure settings. You won’t be able to see everything the way it is (motion blur for instance) so you’ll still need to understand exposure, but at least this is a good start. You also get different overlays on your current view (histogram, rule of thirds grid, and so much more). The biggest downfall of mirrorless cameras is that since you’re getting a digital projection (aka, you’re looking at a screen) you’re eating up a lot of battery; and with smaller bodies come with diminished battery life. However, this is a small issue since you can easily carry extra batteries. Hence, I feel like a mirrorless system is the way to go for anyone’s first camera. The main companies that offer great mirrorless systems for decent prices are Sony, Fuji, and Olympus. Nikon and Canon have them, but they’re not even in the same ballpark as the others in terms of quality and available lenses.
Next up is the consideration of sensor size. If you choose to accept that mirrorless is the way to go then you need to decide what type of sensor size is important for you. They all offer great image quality with today’s technology, so try not to get lost in the minuet details here. Each company has different sensor sizes and these will have an effect in two main areas, depth of field and low light capabilities. The size of sensor also has some impact on dynamic range, but I won’t cover that in this article since this probably shouldn’t be of your concern at this point. Olympus uses what’s called a micro-four thirds sensor (m43). This is the smallest sensor of the bunch. A smaller sensor means that at an equivalent lens focal length and aperture more of your image will be in focus. The shrunken sensor also means that you won’t have the best performance in low light. Fuji and Sony both have what’s called a “crop sensor.” This is a bigger sensor than the m43 sensors olympus manufactures and thus a shallower depth of field and better performance in low light. Finally, at least in the scope of this article, you have a “full frame” sensor offered by Sony. Currently Sony is the only company throwing a full frame sensor in a mirrorless package. This type of camera has some of the shallowest depth of field and has the best low light functionality in the mirrorless packages (in our price range, mirrorless medium format options do exist, but then you’re taking out a mortgage for a camera). Something else to keep in mind with these sensor sizes is that the focal length of the lenses are actually different. A 20mm lens on a M43 camera is actually like a 40mm lens on a full frame camera. It’s complicated and this has it’s own subject on its own, but the standard focal length measurement is based off of full frame cameras. This is just important when you’re buying lenses and someone tells you that you need to have a 50mm lens in your pack (or any focal length for that matter), it’ll actually be a different focal length depending on the size of sensor you get.
Why does the sensor size matter? Lenses. When you purchase a camera you’re making an implicit promise to invest more money into that camera in terms of lenses. All of these systems have a wide range of lenses available (not like Canon and Nikon have, but still). A M43 lens won’t really work for a full frame camera. See, when you decide that later in the future you want to upgrade your camera, you’ll want to make sure your lenses will work with that camera. With Olympus, you should be okay since it doesn’t look like they’re leaving the M43 arena. Fuji also seems locked down on cropped sensors. Sony on the other hand makes both cropped and full frame sensor cameras. So if you buy a cropped sensor camera from Sony (like the a6000) then you might want to get full frame lenses for it (the FE line). These lenses work on cropped sensors but the cropped lenses don’t. Have I confused you yet? No? Wow, then you must be some sort of genius.
Let me give you the quick summary of what I recommend for your first real camera… Go get a mirrorless. You can’t go wrong with any of the aforementioned systems I mentioned. You really can’t even go wrong with Nikon or Canon. They have a “live view” mode, but they’re not quite as developed as the mirrorless systems since that’s sort of an “extra.” If I were to recommend a simple but fantastic camera to start out with, the Sony a6000 will give you a great starting point. Then start collecting full frame lenses from Sony and Zeiss while you get better at shooting. Then eventually you can move up to the full frame sensor A7 series cameras and have a nice lens collection to go with it. There are so many other details that you need to consider, but that’s just my general recommendation for those starting out. The other brands have their own strengths that Sony doesn’t offer. Oly makes some great cameras that are dust and water resistant. So does Fuji. Fuji also has a hybrid autofocus that uses your typical phase detection and a rangefinder like system. This is beyond my understanding since I’ve not dealt with rangefinders. Canon and Nikon have a great selection of lenses that are super fast, and amazingly sharp. Finally, with Sony’s new A7Rii, you have the option to use just about any other company’s lens mount on their camera while still maintaining great autofocus.
In the end I’m sure you’ll make a good decision. Just make sure you have fun with it. These are just tools to help you capture your moments. Nothing more. Don’t let the hammer drive then hand that holds it. Learn whatever system you have. Learn it’s strengths, and utilize it’s weaknesses.
It finally happened. I have started to allow full prints of my photography. I didn’t think this day would happen since my subjects are my children. I intended to simply start doing landscapes, then I realized I don’t have a large enough collection to start doing just that. I also remembered that these photos have been seen millions of times anyways. So what does a few prints hurt. Not to mention they’re already in magazines across the world. So without further ado, go head on over to the prints shop and check out what I’ve made available. [UPDATE - Prints are no longer available commercially. If you’re interested in a particular image, please contact me individually through my contact page]
Also, I have updated the website a little bit. Added some polish, and changed some of the options. I originally made the website over a couple of days and it showed. This time I will be taking it slow. There are more additions heading to the site like a new payment method for the print shop, the gear section will be updated and in more detail, the print store will get updated with more options, I will probably add a couple of videos, I have plans to make my Lightroom Presets available for Photoshop, the home page will get some more information, and I’ll try to keep up with the blog a bit better. I also did some behind the scenes work for the website so it should be many times more reliable than it was before (ditched my old server for a cloud solution). It’s a bit more coding work on my end, but its worth it to be able to trust that my website is working properly. Oh, you thought I let web developers run my site? Ha! I’m far too big of a control freak to ever let that happen.
The Children’s book is still in the works. I’m stretching myself a bit further than I should be right now. Wife, two kids (and another due to arrive any day now), dental school, business, and such… that some of my projects have to take a bit longer than I want. I could probably have whipped something together over a month or two, but I felt like I wanted a deeper connection with it, so I’m letting certain things marinate a bit longer. I want quality, not just something I pieced together in the last minute for a quick buck. This book’s existence is primarily meant for my own children, and if other’s want it, then it’ll be available to them. There you have it, the main update! I hope you’re all doing well.
If you follow me on this site, Facebook, 500px, instagram, or one of many social media networks, you know that I am more known for my work with the photos of my two boys. They’re what really inspired me to get deep into photography. Especially my oldest son (but that’s another story). During that time I’ve developed my way into this niché in photography. I thoroughly enjoy it and will continue with it for as long as my children will let me. However, I have always had a fascination with landscapes and scenic images that can tell a story all on their own. I even vaguely explored other types of photography once or twice. Including a shot nearly identical to the image featured here.
Now that I’ve been able to become efficient at portrait photography, I’ve decided to venture into some other aspects of the art that have eluded me for the last year. That is why I went back to the home that really gave me an itch to do this. I wanted to stretch the legs of my new camera, while at the same time, recreate some of the magic of that I found when I took the original shot. I am hoping to explore new places and develop an even greater love for photography. It offers so much potential that I feel like I should not limit myself to a single niché.
I’m excited for this new venture. I almost feel like I’m making photography new again. The recently late Leonard Nimoy mentioned that when some people become well known for their particular type of art, they are welcomed with support but there can also be some resistance. I realize that I’m followed because everyone expects to see my adorable sons, though I rebranded myself last month for a reason. Because I plan on exploring several different avenues of not just photography, but artistic creation in general. I’m still cooking something else up that I’ll hopefully be releasing in the Fall that you might just appreciate.