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.
I’ve always believed that Photoshop Elements is the best-kept secret that Adobe has hiding in their arsenal. If you haven’t played around with it, I think you’ll be shocked by its features: it boasts everything from advanced selections with the Refine Edge feature to simplified Guided Edits that keep your processing streamlined. Every time I chat with another photographer about software, they never can believe how much DNA Photoshop and Photoshop Elements share.
Every year, when Adobe introduces their new version of Elements, they always toss in a few fun, fresh features to keep PSE-loyalists happy. This year, I can’t believe how excited I am about two of their new Guided Edit styles: the Double Exposure creator and the Background Changer. These two photo editing methods are incredibly popular, but also tedious and can drive people crazy with making hand-drawn selections. Luckily, thanks to some quick steps, the process just got a whole lot easier!
Last year, not long after it came out, I bought a Fuji X100 because I was intrigued by the promise of a small, rangefinder-like camera with a fixed 35mm lens. I liked the idea of being forced to shoot with a specific field of view; I loved the look and feel of the camera; and it’s hard to beat Fuji’s lens and image quality. What was easy to beat, at the time, was the X100’s autofocus and clumsy menu system. These issues were so frustrating that I sold the camera not long after I bought it. I came to mildly regret this decision as Fuji released firmware updates that addressed many of the issues that had bothered me, but didn’t think seriously about returning to the camera. But with the release of the Fuji X-E1, I couldn’t resist giving Fuji another chance. Here are some of my impressions and thoughts about Fuji’s latest mirrorless camera.
To me, one of the most unexpected byproducts of digital photography is that it has rekindled tremendous interest in film processes of one kind or another. Alien Skin’s Exposure 4 plug-in for Photoshop lets you explore all sorts of film processes without ever having to soak your hands in noxious chemicals. I recently spent some time with the latest version, and was pleased to find that it remains an excellent option for users who want either a specific traditional film look, or any kind of analog, or grunge process. You can read my entire review here.
Hi. My name is Ben and I’m a bag addict. It’s true, I have a problem. For years, I was convinced that there was a single, perfect camera bag out there in the world somewhere. So, over the years, I have amassed an embarrassing assortment of bags. A while ago, I came to realize that there is no single camera bag that’s appropriate for every situation, which only exacerbated my problem, because now I have a perfect justification for owning still more bags. Alas, the discovery of Mountainsmith Kit Cube has made the whole situation even worse, because with the Kit Cube, I can turn any bag into a camera bag. This means my bag fetish is no longer constrained to just camera bags!
iPad-toting Photoshop users finally have an actual version of Photoshop for their tablets. Photoshop Touch offers layers-based compositing, masking and retouching tools, and color correction, all wrapped up in a touch-based interface. The question, of course, is what exactly it gets you in the way of a tablet-based post-production workflow. In this detailed review, I take a look at the app from the point-of-view of the serious, working photographer.
Whether you’re an experienced Photoshop user, or a casual image editor, there will be times when you want to quickly and easily get a stylized look on an image. The Icon Factory’s Flare 1.0 is an inexpensive, capable little application that makes it easy to get stylized treatments and borders onto an image through a simple push-button interface. Check out my full review here.
There are lots of ways to convert color images to black and white. In Photoshop, you can use a grayscale mode change, or convert the image to L*A*B color and then extract the Luminance channel. Or, you can pull a single RGB channel, drain the saturation out of an image or use Photoshop’s excellent Black and White conversion tool. The list goes on and on, but in my opinion, the best way to perform black and white conversion (more accurately called grayscale conversion is with nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2, a plug-in for Photoshop, Aperture, and Lightroom.
Photoshop’s a great image editor, and all, but you need a lot of money to get it. If you’re a Mac-based photographer who’s been looking for a more affordable alternative, and iPhoto is not for you, then you might want to consider Pixelmator, an incredibly speedy Photoshop alternative that offers a fair amount of power at a reasonable price. Read the full review here.