We’re not big on equipment reviews here at Complete Digital Photography, partly because there are plenty of other places to get that kind of information, but also because we would like to encourage people to focus more on the art and craft of photography, rather than worrying about gear. With camera marketers constantly hammering you with news of career-saving new features, it can be hard to resist the idea that a new piece of gear is somehow going to make you a better photographer.
Nevertheless, I am a photographer, which means I do depend on gear, and while no equipment upgrade will do as much for your photographic skill as will hours of dedicated practice, from time to time I do find myself facing some gear-related questions.
Over the last few weeks I’ve had the chance to use the Fujifilm GFX 50S and GFX 50R side-by-side. These are both medium format cameras that offer identical image quality and mostly identical feature sets, but very different physical styles. In the following video, I walk through my impressions of the strengths and weaknesses of each model. This is not a discussion of whether medium format is right for you – that’s a bigger question – but rather a look at what these two specific cameras offer.
In the process of preparing this video I was surprised by a number of my conclusions, and I learned that W.C. Fields was right: you should never work with children or animals. They’ll upstage you every time.
Check out the video here:
Our good friend—and ace adventure photographer—Hudson Henry has just released his long-awaited Advanced Panorama Course, and is offering it at half-price for a limited time.
Building upon Hudson’s best-selling Panoramas Made Simple ebook (published by CDP Press), this new course contains more than two hours of videos, focusing on all aspects of panorama creation, from choosing gear to field setup, capture, and postproduction.
The Advanced Panorama Course includes everything you need to know to capture both simple panos and complex multi-row and HDR panoramas. Hudson also shows you his process for assembling and editing panoramas in Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop and ON1 Photo RAW. (There are two versions of the course available: one for Lightroom and Photoshop, the other for Photo RAW.)
Included with the course are the raw files Hudson uses in the videos (for you to follow along), as well as a gear list, course notes and cheatsheets.
The Advanced Panorama course is currently on sale for $29.99 directly from Hudson, and will be priced at $59.99 after January 31.
You can find out all the details on Hudson’s website. If you would like to get a sample of the course, Hudson is also offering a free download of one of the videos: “Finding the No-Parallax Point (aka the Nodal Point)”
I’ve been heads-down the past few weeks, working hard on the 9th edition of Complete Digital Photography. Last week, I was proofing the section of the book that covered reciprocity and the exposure triangle, and, in a little bit of synchronicity, my good friend Hudson Henry posted this cool video on that very topic. Hudson and his friend Andy Adkins — a true video wizard — did a fantastic job explaining the relationship between ISO, aperture and shutter speed. It’s worth a few minutes, especially if the topic is something that remains a bit confusing to you, or if you want a refresher.
For those of you who have been waiting patiently for the 9th edition, we really are in the final stages. You can find out more — and download a free sample chapter — via this link. I’ll post an update once we get our final proof copy from the printer, which should be later this week.
I’ll be helping Hudson Henry with at least two photo workshops next year: Death Valley in early March, and the Palouse in mid-May. Both of these locations are ripe with photographic opportunities, and Hudson is, quite frankly, one of the finest photographers and teachers that I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with.
Read more »
Ben and I are in the midst of our final push to get the 9th edition of Complete Digital Photography out the door (the final cover is on the left). My office is littered with page proofs — each chapter gets read a minimum of eight times — and my ever-patient wife is wondering if we’ll ever get this darn book out, but we’re feeling confident overall.
[UPDATE (December 2018): The ninth edition of Ben’s Complete Digital Photography is now available. You can find out more on our CDP9 book page, or, you can order the book directly from Amazon.]
Read more »
Speaking about photo printing, Epson is currently having a mail-in rebate sale on their SureColor P400, P600 and P800 photo printers. The rebates range from $200 to $350, depending upon the printer, for any of these models purchased between November 1 and November 30.
The rebates are good when you purchase a new printer, but Epson is adding $50 for folks upgrading from any 6-ink (or more) photo printer, from any vendor; to get the additional rebate, you just enter the printer serial number and model on the rebate form.
The specifics on the rebates are:
(The links above are to Amazon—which has the cheapest online prices (in the US)—but you can also find out more on the Epson website. The rebate forms are PDF files.)
Why you should care
I’ve used both a P600 and P800 for a few years now, and love both of them. They have bigger ink cartridges than older models, with a better paper feed and excellent print quality—and are pretty much always been ready to print. I will say that Canon is doing a pretty good job in the desktop photo printer market these days, but it’s hard to pass up these prices (and rebates) if you think it’s time to start printing—or upgrade.
(If you’re thinking, “Why print?”, check out my chat about printing with the great guys of the PhotoActive podcast.)
Last week, I was a guest on the PhotoActive podcast, chatting about photo printing with the hosts Jeff Carlson and Kirk McElhearn. We talked about such things as “Why print at all?” (heresy!); why printing today—whether online or with your own printer—is better than it has ever been; and how learning about printing is no different than learning about your camera (practice, practice, practice!). It was a lot of fun, and if you are interested in the state of photo printing today, I humbly think it’s well worth taking time to listen in. It’s short—my segment is only about 30 minutes in length.
I’m not a huge podcast guy—especially ones about such a visual medium as photography—but I’ve really enjoyed PhotoActive since Jeff and Kirk started it up earlier this year. The episodes are brief, with minimal chit-chat, and they find interesting guests (who mostly don’t talk about gear, which I also love). If you want to get a taste, but don’t care about printing, I recommend the recent episode with photographer and author Michael Rubin, who spoke about how his family collected fine-art prints when he was growing up, and how it has informed his photographic life.
PhotoActive is subtitled, “A Podcast about Photography and the Apple Ecosystem,” but the Mac angle is fairly low-key. If you’re a Windows user, don’t avoid it; I’ve found most episodes are focused more on photography than the Mac, and I almost always learn something. It’s worth checking out.
You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or Spotify, or download it directly from photoactive.co.
[When it rains, it prints: Epson has great rebates this month on their SureColor photo printer line.]
Ben would really, really like you to buy the upcoming 9th edition of Complete Digital Photography, but he adds that there’s nothing that will help make you a better photographer than to practice. Specifically, to practice the art of seeing.
Get out there and practice, practice, practice!
Sign up today for our email list, and we’ll send you information on the 9th edition as we have it, including sample chapters, discounts and more.
Computational photography is coming up more and more as a topic these days, driven largely by developments in the smartphone world. Apple and Google, specifically, have worked diligently over the past few years to overcome the inherent limitations in the cameras of their pocket-size phones—small sensors and tiny lenses—to produce better images than would be available solely from the phones’ optics alone. By using custom chips, advanced software, dual lenses (in the case of newer iPhones and some Android phones) and more, these phones can create photographs that once required high-end cameras or painstaking compositing to produce. (For more, see Jeff Carlson’s piece on DPReview.com about the computational aspects of the iPhone XS.)
The result is that our phones now use this technology to provide impressive images, ones combined in the phone from multiple “shots.” They include things like automatic high-dynamic range (HDR) photos, seamless panoramas, and portraits with shallow depth of field. Sure, you can find many online commenters who rail against the bad portrait shots and wonky panos as proof that this iPhone or that Pixel is not as good as a basic SLR or mirrorless camera, but that misses the point (something we talk about extensively in Taking Better Pictures Doesn’t Mean a New Camera). Read more »
We hit an important milestone this week with the 9th edition of Complete Digital Photography: we received the first proof copy of the book from our printer, and it looks great!
In the last couple of weeks, we prepared the first half of the book to be printed as a test. We wanted to check the general layout, making sure the margins were correct and the fonts readable. We also wanted to get a sense of the look and feel of the book in its new, slightly larger, format. Plus, since it is a book about photography, we also wanted to make sure that the images looked good when printed on our chosen paper type.
Overall, we’re very pleased. The cover looks awesome, and the feedback we’ve gotten from others is that it’s clean and readable inside, with a good balance of images and text. It’s a great feeling to see the physical fruits of something that you’ve worked on for so long, and know that you’re getting closer to the finish line.
We should have the 9th chapter of the upcoming book available as a free download in the next few weeks. If you’re a subscriber to the blog, we’ll let you know as soon as it’s ready. If you’re not a subscriber, it’s quick and easy to sign up for our low-volume mailing list. (You’ll also get the first shot at the book when it’s released in December.)
For more information about the book, check out the Complete Digital Photography 9 video update from Ben Long.