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Our team at DPReview TV just finished reviewing Sigma's newest 24-70mm F2.8 lens and they found a lot to like. Check out these sample photos captured while filming their review.

Posted: April 4, 2020, 7:00 am

The Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG DN lives up to Sigma's 'Art' standard, giving first-party lenses for E-mount and L-mount a run for their money. We put it to the test and came out impressed.

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Sample Gallery from this episode

Posted: April 4, 2020, 7:00 am

Following our recent microphone pre-amp shootout there was a lot of controversy surrounding the results from the Sony a7 III, so our team went to work.

Alex, our audio engineer, repeated his tests on a second Sony a7 III body. Using the same Zaxcom URX100 receiver ($900) he repeated his original test and got the same result as the first time. In an effort to rule out the Zaxcom as a potential source of error, he repeated the test with a second URX100 and once again got the same result.

Alex then repeated the test using a Rode VideoMic Pro + ($300) and saw similar results. However, when he did the test again using a Rode Wireless Go ($200) and Rode VideoMic Go ($59) the results were noticeably better. He also notes that in response to DPReview's video, Gerald Undone performed a similar test and saw good results using the Rode VideoMic NTG ($250).

How does this affect the rankings from first video? When used with a microphone that pairs well with the camera, Alex placed the Sony a7 III in the #2 position (in a tie with the Panasonic S1H).

Alex's advice is that if you're planning to use a particular piece audio gear with the Sony a7 III it's a good idea to test it first to make sure it works well with the camera.

Finally, Jordan notes that they have seen some inconsistent results from the Nikon Z6 as well. As a result, they'll be doing some additional tests on that camera to better understand its performance.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel to get new episodes of DPReview TV every week.

Posted: April 3, 2020, 11:50 pm

A newly-published Apple patent, filed back in September 2019, details a light field panorama camera system seemingly intended for use in future iPhone and iPad devices. The technology would enable the average consumer to capture large light field panoramas of a particular scene by moving their device using gestures. The resulting content could be rendered and viewed on the device or using some type of head-mounted display (HMD), including VR headsets.

According to Patently Apple, which first spied the patent, Apple details technology that would build upon its current AR efforts by enabling its consumer devices to capture complex 3D scenes. To do this, the user would need to move their light field-equipped iPhone or iPad in a gesture, such as moving the device in a swooping infinity symbol, to capture light field images of the environment from multiple angles.

A flow-chart provided within the patent filing that shows the process of capturing, processing and viewing the resulting imagery.

A rendering engine would process the individual images into a 3D panorama with six degrees of freedom (6DOF) made possible using the light field technology. As a result, the viewer would have the ability to look above and behind objects, zoom in on areas of the scene and view different angles of the environment. The patent follows Google's acquisition of light field camera technology company Lytro in 2018.

Unlike conventional cameras, a light field camera system captures both the intensity of the light from a scene and the direction the light rays are traveling in space. The additional data gathered by light field camera systems enable new types of experiences, including the one detailed by Apple.

The patent indicates that Apple's system may use the sensors in the iPhone and iPad to capture position, motion and other similar metadata alongside the images, the combination of which would contribute to the final light field panorama. The combination of captured images and metadata could then be used to render different views of the same 3D scene, according to the patent, ultimately giving the user six degrees of freedom for exploring the panorama using an HMD like a VR headset.

This would differ substantially from a traditional 360-degree panorama, which is captured from a single point, only allowing the viewer to move their head around within the rendered 3D scene. Light field panoramas will appear more realistic, keeping objects in their correct positions as the user moves around within the scene, which could realistically render from different angles as the user has a look around.

It's no secret that Apple has been heavily focusing on augmented reality technologies; its most recent iPad Pro model underscores this effort with the inclusion of a LIDAR sensor.

Just a few of the possible movements you could use to capture the scenery using your Apple mobile device.

In its announcement of the 2020 iPad Pro last month, Apple said the new LIDAR sensor 'delivers cutting-edge depth-sensing capabilities, opening up more pro workflows and supporting pro photo and video apps,' specifically with augmented reality in mind. The sensor works by measuring the distance of objects that are as far as 5m (16ft) away.

Apple went on to explain:

'New depth frameworks in iPadOS combine depth points measured by the LiDAR Scanner, data from both cameras and motion sensors, and is enhanced by computer vision algorithms on the A12Z Bionic for a more detailed understanding of a scene. The tight integration of these elements enables a whole new class of AR experiences on iPad Pro.'

The future expansion of these capabilities using light field technology wouldn't be surprising, particularly in light of ongoing rumors Apple is working on AR/VR gear. With that said, and as with any patent, it is possible we'll never see this technology make its way into a consumer product. Per usual, Apple has not commented on the patent.

Posted: April 3, 2020, 7:36 pm

As many artists around the world have had to do amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, photographer Stephen Lovekin decided to make the most of these more isolated times to document families and their messages to the world as shared through the windows of Lovekin’s Brooklyn neighborhood of Ditmas Park.

Lovekin, who’s a Shutterstock editorial photographer, came up with the idea for the project after looking for ways to help people feel more connected despite being separated from one another.

‘As a photographer I have always loved and been drawn to shooting portraits - a process that allows a connection to be made between photographer, subject, and viewer,’ Lovekin says about the project. ‘So, when this Coronavirus began to rapidly spread and people were ordered into ‘self-isolation’ and ‘social distancing’, I began to feel compelled to document this unprecedented time in our history by starting locally by reaching out to people in my Brooklyn neighborhood of Ditmas Park to see how they were feeling and to see what message, if any, they would like to share with the world, whether they be personal, political, or spiritual.’

As for how the portraits became a series of shots framed within windows, Lovekin says that wasn’t the original plan. ‘When beginning the project I hadn’t completely settled on the idea of photographing everyone behind a window. Some people would come on their porches or stoops, but that just didn’t feel right to me for some reason,’ says Lovekin. ‘As the project began to evolve the idea of the window started to make more sense. The window being something that we look out on the world from. Something that literally frames how people can look in on us and how we look out at the world. Something that we normally do not enter or exit from.’

The project has only been going on for a week, but it’s already gained a following across social media. Lovekin says the ‘plan is to have it be an ongoing project for as long as I can safely make it possible.’

Shutterstock also caught wind of the project and teamed up with Lovekin to offer the ongoing series as a collection available to purchase, with 10% of all sales going to GiveDirectly, Inc., an organization that ‘allows donors to send money directly to the poor with no strings attached,’ according to its website. Charity Navigator, a third-party charity auditor of sorts, rates GiveDirectly, Inc. four out of four stars, the highest rating it gives to organizations that offer accountability and transparency in their operations.

Below are a few images from the series Lovekin shared with us:

Lovekin offers this parting message to viewers of the project:

‘I hope that in this time of chaos and uncertainty this project will help people feel more connected to the outside world even though we are all literally separated from one another for an unknown amount of time. If we continue to communicate and connect with those around us in a direct, honest, and positive way can get through this together. It will not be easy, but nothing worthwhile ever really is. Stay safe and stay at home! And as my own children’s sign said, "Soon we will be together”.’

You can find the full series on Shutterstock’s website and keep up with the latest portraits on Lovekin's Instagram profile.

Posted: April 3, 2020, 3:22 pm

In an album at my parents' house there's a photo of me holding my dad's camera at an embarrassingly awkward age in my childhood – or maybe I was just way ahead of the big, nerdy glasses trend? I remember the afternoon it was taken. My dad and I went for a walk in the park near our house and he showed me how to use his Nikon FT3.

I was hesitant – pushing the shutter felt like an enormous responsibility – and when I pointed it at a snow-covered tree stump I asked him "Is this a good picture?" Dad responded with something along the lines of "I don't know, that's up to you." Making me rely on my own instincts rather than giving me a quick answer, what a classic dad move.

Eventually I, like many of my fellow elder millennials, decided the time was right to pick up film photography

It would be a long time before I revisited photography as a serious hobby, and eventually as a central component of my full-time job. Slowly I learned the ins and outs of digital photography, but film remained a bit of a mystery – intimidating, uncharted territory I would need to become familiar with if I really wanted to call myself a photographer.

Eventually I, like many of my fellow elder millennials, decided the time was right to pick up film photography. Dad sent me the FT3 and a box of lenses, and while I quickly learned that while the fundamentals were the same, there was indeed plenty to learn about this unfamiliar medium. Here is a list of things I discovered, in no particular order:

  • The FT3 is HEAVY. The thing is built like an absolute tank and would probably survive a nuclear disaster. It's the cockroach of cameras.
  • Don't take your T-MAX to Walgreens to have it processed.
  • I can't rid myself of the urge to check the back of the camera no matter how many times I remind myself there's nothing there.
  • There's nothing quite like the excitement of seeing the finished product.

The FT3 gave me a full appreciation of all the conveniences that digital photography provides, and how much I had taken them for granted. It's an entirely different frame of mind shooting a finite number of images and carefully considering your exposure settings. It gave me a feeling of having *made* an image in a way that's not quite the same with digital.

I know that when I want to get back in the film game it's going to be ready and waiting

I wish I could say that I shoot with the FT3 more often than I actually do. It's been sitting on a shelf long enough to accumulate a significant layer of dust and I'm ashamed to admit it's been playing the part of home decor more than functional camera. But its personal significance remains, and I know that when I want to get back in the film game it's going to be ready and waiting – like an old friend, or some good advice your dad once gave you.

Posted: April 3, 2020, 1:00 pm
Photo: 35mmc.com

The Olympus AF-10 Super is by all stretches of the imagination, a very basic film point and shoot. Features are limited to a flash (with three settings) and a self-timer... and that's about it. But limitations can inspire creative workarounds, and creative workarounds can lead to really satisfying photos, something 35mmc.com's Hamish Gill found to be true. Read about his experience with the Olympus AF-10 Super, below.

Read: Olympus AF-10 Super - Pushing the functional limits of a
cheap point and shoot

About Film Fridays: We recently launched an analog forum and in a continuing effort to promote the fun of the medium, we'll be sharing film-related content on Fridays, including articles from our friends at 35mmc.

Posted: April 3, 2020, 12:00 pm

NVIDIA has announced the arrival of ten 'Studio' laptops announced that use Intel's newly-released 10th generation H-series mobile processors. The NVIDIA RTX Studio-branded laptops include the company's newest GeForce RTX Super GPUs. The RTX Studio notebooks come from Acer, Gigabyte, MSI and Razer, with new RTX Studio laptops from HP to be announced in the coming weeks.

All the announced RTX Studio laptops include NVIDIA's flagship RTX 2080 Super Max-Q GPU and Intel's 10th generation H-series mobile processors. Each Studio laptop is designed and catered to creatives, and thus include features important to creative enthusiasts and professionals. For example, the Acer ConceptD 7 Ezel and ConceptD 7 Ezel Pro laptops have built-in Wacom pen support and include color-accurate touchscreen displays. The MSI Creator and Razer Blade 15 Studio display 100 percent of the DCI-P3 color space, which is important for videographers. It is worth noting that some RTX Studio notebooks include 100 percent coverage of the Adobe RGB color space as well.

In total, 10 new RTX Studio systems were announced today. They each focus on different features, but all cater to creative applications. The Acer ConceptD Ezel 7 and ConceptD Ezel 7 Pro feature Acer's Ezel design allowing flexibility in usage and have Wacom pen support. The Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED and 17 HDR machines include 4K OLED displays and display 100 percent of the DCI-P3 color space. MSI's Creator 15 and Creator 17 notebooks have 4K IPS displays and can display 100 percent of the Adobe RGB color space. The Razer Blade 15 models have a striking aluminum unibody design and 4K OLED displays.

Click to enlarge. Image credit: NVIDIA

In our coverage of Intel's new H-series mobile processors, (LINK) we discussed the advantages of maximum CPU speed for photography applications. For video editors, GPU plays a more significant role, which is where NVIDIA's new RTX Super GPUs come in. More than 45 applications support NVIDIA's RTX acceleration to improve performance, including Adobe After Effects, Lightroom, Photoshop and Premiere Pro. Popular video-centric software such as Cinema 4D, Davinci Resolve, Redcine-X Pro and Vegas Pro also support RTX acceleration.

More than 45 applications include RTX acceleration to improve performance. Click to enlarge. Image credit: NVIDIA

Alongside today's announcement, NVIDIA published video editing performance gains users can expect with the new GeForce RTX Super GPUs when compared to Apple's latest 16-inch MacBook Pro. Click to enlarge the chart.

Click to enlarge. Image credit: NVIDIA

With RTX Studio laptops being designed specifically for creative professionals, they will be bundled with three months of Adobe Creative Cloud for a limited time. This offer is valid for both new and existing Adobe customers.

Posted: April 2, 2020, 11:06 pm

For photographers, one of the most important components of their computer is the processor (CPU). When considering how software such as Adobe Lightroom performs, maximum single and multi-core CPU performance is critical. This makes Intel's announcement today that it is releasing the world's fastest mobile processor particularly exciting for creatives on the go.

The 10th generation Intel Core H-Series introduces half a dozen H-Series mobile processors, including four which can surpass 5 GHz frequency from a single core in Turbo performance mode. These chips are built using Intel's 14nm Comet Lake architecture, rather than the 10nm process that Intel teased at CES earlier this year. The top of the line processor, the Intel Core i9-10980HK, has a base clock speed of 2.4 GHz and can reach 5.3 GHz speeds at its maximum performance. This processor, along with the 5.1 GHz i7-10875H, delivers 16 threads across 8 cores and include a 16 MB Intel Smart Cache.

Another pair of new i7 processors, the 10850H and 10750H, can reach 5.1 and 5.0 GHz respectively. These processors are both 6-core CPUs with a dozen threads. Rounding out the new lineup are the Intel Core i5-10400H and i5-10300H. These four-core CPUs have eight threads and have maximum speeds of 4.6 and 4.5 GHz respectively.

You can view a comparison of the six Intel 10th generation mobile processors in the chart below:

Image credit: Intel Corporation. Click for a larger view.

What do all these numbers mean for creatives? On the photography side of things, Photoshop and other photography applications heavily utilize your computer's CPU relative to the GPU. Software such as Photoshop is getting better at using a computer's GPU to accelerate certain tasks, but the CPU is particularly important. Further, the maximum frequency of CPU chips is more important than the number of cores for most photo editing tasks. All else equal, a faster CPU results in better performance when importing, processing and editing image files.

Thus, the new 10th generation Intel i9 processors represent a very powerful CPU for CPU-intensive applications such as Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. Lightroom, for example, is optimized to utilize multiple cores for handling tasks, so Intel's eight-core chips are exciting. The quicker your computer's CPU can work through tasks, the less time you must spend waiting.

For video editors, Intel has published specific performance gain numbers. When compared to a similar Intel chip from three years ago, the top-of-the-line i9-10980HK can render and export 4K resolution video up to twice as fast. The i7-10750H fares well too, exporting 4K video up to 70 percent faster compared to its predecessor from three years ago. It will be interesting to see how the new chips perform in the real world when rendering 4K and even 8K video.

This image shows the wafer of Intel's 10th generation H-series processors. Image credit: Intel Corporation

Of the Intel Core i9-10980HK, Intel states that it features 'unparalleled performance across the board with up to 5.3 GHz Turbo, eight cores, 16 threads and 16MB of Intel Smart Cache. The unlocked 10th Gen Intel Core i9-10980HK processor powers the ultimate laptops for gamers and creators, allowing further customization, optimization and tuning of the CPU's performance.'

Additional features of the Intel 10th generation chips include Intel's proprietary Speed Optimizer one-click overclocking feature, Thermal Velocity Boost and Adaptix Dynamic Tuning. For a full breakdown of all the key features in the new Intel chips, you can download a PDF briefing by clicking here.

Posted: April 2, 2020, 10:59 pm

Winner, ZEISS Photography Award, Seeing Beyond – Discoveries, 2020

KyeongJun Yang, Korea

A previously unpublished 27-year-old journalism student from Korea has picked up €12,000 to spend on Zeiss lenses on top of a €3,000 grant towards a photographic project after winning the annual Zeiss Photography Award. KyeongJun Yang, who is studying at The University of Texas in Austin, shot a series of black and white images on film, depicting the sense of loneliness and isolation felt by a Chinese immigrant in the USA. The project, called Metamorphosis, comprises a collection of portrait and still life pictures about the experiences of fellow immigrants and girlfriend Julie Chan.

The theme of the competition was Seeing Beyond – Discoveries, and Yang’s images were picked out because “The images’ closeness and quietness allows us to see and think more about what’s going on here. To me, this work stood out from the other submissions we judged as it was clear that although these were documentary photographs, there was a conceptual depth to them which raised more questions than answers and left their true meaning open to interpretation”, according to judge and photojournalist Max Ferguson.

The shortlist of winners runs to ten photographers in total, all of who would normally have their work displayed alongside the winning images of the Sony World Photography Awards in April, but this year’s awards ceremony and exhibition are postponed due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

More images from the shortlisted photographers can be seen in the award section of the Zeiss site. You can see all Yang’s images in an interview on the Zeiss website.

Alexey Vasilyev, Russian Federation, Shortlist, ZEISS Photography Award, Seeing Beyond – Discoveries, 2020

"Sakhawood" by Alexey Vasilyev, Russian Federation

Artist statement: I discovered photography quite late, at the age of 28. Now I’m 34 years old. At first it was just a hobby, a way to pass the time after work and on the weekends. The longer I kept taking pictures, the better I got at it. Slowly but surely I realized that I was better at photography than anything else. So I quit my job and decided to devote myself entirely to photography.

My intention was to show how ordinary people without much money and without a proper education are shooting films in a harsh, remote region of Russia. I always wanted to learn and see how movies are made with my own eyes – who works on them, how the process is organized. Between ten and 15 films are shot in Yakutia each year. This is no small feat considering the conditions in the region – long and hard winters, poor roads, high prices. You might say that films are made here not because of, but despite the conditions. Although production is so difficult, the quality of Yakutian cinema is steadily improving – evident in its success at numerous international film festivals. These days, the Yakutian film industry has long ceased being a mere hobby that exists only as a form of entertainment for the local audience. International filmmakers, from producers to extras, are interested in the development of the local film industry.

The film that my project began with is Stepan Burnashev’s drama Black Snow. Shooting took place in March. The severe frost had just receded, but it was still incredibly cold. During the last two weeks, filming took place outdoors and only at night, when the temperature dropped to minus 40 degrees Celsius, so the film equipment was constantly breaking and some scenes had to be reshot. It was an extreme experience for everyone involved.

I have always been interested in observing the filmmaking process with my own two eyes to see how a movie comes together step by step. “Is it really such a time-consuming process? Could I become a director myself?” These are the questions I was interested in answering. While working on this series, I came to the conclusion that I, too, could make a movie. You don’t need a lot of money. The personal experience that you bring to the job is probably more important. I doubt that my movie would ever make it to Cannes, but that doesn’t matter. The important thing is to do something to avoid going crazy in this godforsaken country.

Pan Wang, China Mainland, Shortlist, ZEISS Photography Award, Seeing Beyond – Discoveries, 2020

"Like a father, Like a mountain" by Pan Wang 攀 王, China

Artist statement: The first time I came into contact with professional photography equipment, I sensed that I had found my calling. The camera became the expression of my vision and my heart. After publishing several photo stories, I received some recognition in the industry and became a journalist. I have worked in the field of news photography for the past 17 years – as a photojournalist, later as an image editor, then as head of the photo department. After progressing through these positions in the world of photojournalism, I decided to turn my back on the news media and pursue my own projects. This is what led to my work on Like a Father, Like a Mountain.

The idea for this series came to me because I miss my father, who passed away when I was five years old. Among the few memories I have of him, there are some blurry images of him and the mountain. In the year that I became a father myself – more than 30 years after the death of my own father – I decided to quit my job. I then tried to understand the “mountain” that fills my heart. I try to understand it through photography, to revive lost memories and see my father more clearly. I thought about this project for several years before I started working on it. I couldn’t have worked on it while still employed. That’s why I quit and took about three years to shoot the photos.

I often think of my father when I go into the mountains alone. I imagine the moments when he held me in his arms when it stormed. Sometimes my father would carry me on his back and pedal his bike with all his might while I looked over his shoulder, wrapped in my raincoat. When I think of the heartache and unbearable experiences of the children in the world who have to grow up without a father, I often have to stop my car at the side of the road and cry. At the time, I was also very scared. But when I was photographing the mountain, a little bit of this fear and feeling of emptiness disappeared with every press of the shutter button.

While editing this photo series, I rediscovered myself and this very important mountain range of China. While getting to know the geographical features and traditions, I also tried to understand the reciprocal relationships between humans and nature and between individuals. From a professional standpoint, it also isn’t easy to shoot a 1,600 kilometer mountain. Time, climate, health, income, family, traffic, and many other things all have an impact on the project. Fortunately my family, especially my wife, understands me and supports me.

Stefano Sbrulli, Italy, Shortlist, ZEISS Photography Award, Seeing Beyond – Discoveries, 2020

"Tajo" by Stefano Sbrulli, Italy

Artist statement: I’ve been working as a visual designer for ten years and have always had this “urge” to look beneath the surface of things. I started this project because I wanted to reveal the truth behind the pollution caused by big business – how countries suffer under the effects of malicious and irresponsible consumerism. Then I decided to focus on mining in South America. Peru is one of the countries with the most mining industries in the world. Over 15% of its territory is owned by mining companies, mostly foreign. The province of Pasco is an emblematic case, where almost 53% of the territory is licensed to mining companies, and the town of Cerro de Pasco is the regional mining center. My project brought me together with the staff of the non-governmental organization Source International, the only NGO active in Cerro de Paco. It was only through their help that I was able to organize and carry out this project.

I’ve always had this urge to find out what lies behind the facade. If you look at the situation in Cerro de Pasco, you’ll see that it is absolutely appalling. Apart from the fact that it is one of the poorest cities in Peru, there is virtually zero healthcare. The education system is collapsing and the local community is not receiving any help from the state. The residents of Cerro live in a state of limbo where they are socially and economically marginalized, yet have no opportunity to escape from this life in the shadow of “El Tajo.” Moreover, the pollution caused by 60 years of industrial mining makes Cerro one of the most polluted places in the world. By international standards, the entire population should be hospitalized for heavy metal poisoning. 33% of infant deaths are due to congenital deformities, and cancer rates are four times the national average.

What touched me the most emotionally while completing the project was certainly the day I spent with the community after Lionel died. He had just turned five years old. I still remember being at the funeral home at 5 in the morning waiting for the body from Lima. It surprised me how much this death sparked the community’s anger and will to fight – it was something I hadn’t seen before. On that day, something happened between the people there and me – we developed a strong bond. Lionel’s funeral was held that afternoon, and I documented the ceremony with photos and videos. I stayed until the end, then I went back to my room to review the material. When I looked at these photos, I realized that nobody there had looked at me, none of those in attendance had felt disturbed by my presence.

Magdalena Stengel, Germany, Shortlist, ZEISS Photography Award, Seeing Beyond – Discoveries, 2020

"±100" by Magdalena Stengel, Germany

Artist statement: Ever since my childhood, I’ve loved being shown photographs and listening to the stories about the people or places pictured. My grandmother had an old cardboard box where she kept all her black-and-white prints – completely disorganized and not in chronological order. The lion’s share of the photographs were portraits and group photos, and usually, the names of the people pictured and the date of the photograph were carefully written in pencil on the back in old German cursive script. As a child, I often asked to look at this box. I was fascinated by the faces of the past, their stories and lives during the war, and the connections and relationships between the people.

The number of centenarians in Germany has more than doubled over the last ten years, and this number is likely to continue to rise rapidly in the future. According to the latest studies, one in three girls born in 2019 will live to be over 100 years old. So it will soon no longer be a rarity for many of us to celebrate our 100th birthday. Many very elderly people still live independently in their homes today. I was curious to see what daily life at around age 100 looks like within extremely different realities and living environments. How do you manage everyday life? What’s on people’s minds? What skills do you perhaps only acquire at such a ripe old age? For ±100, I followed between 20 and 30 people, visited them at their homes, and traveled all over Germany.

What I experienced during these conversations and encounters is very difficult for me to put into words and express. People of this age are often perceived or portrayed as frail and weak. And yet it is precisely these people who have a remarkable degree of resilience, strength, and willpower. Despite disease, pain, and the limitations that come with it, despite being traumatized by the war and losing loved ones – you have to be really tough to still be grateful and have a positive attitude towards the future and life.

Robin Hinsch, Germany, Shortlist, ZEISS Photography Award, Seeing Beyond – Discoveries, 2020

"Wahala" by Robin Hinsch, Germany

Artist statement: I studied photography at the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design under Professor Elger Esser and at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences under Professor Vincent Kohlbecher. I’ve worked as a photographer for several years now.

The original idea for Wahala goes back to a project initiated by Moritz Frischkorn called The Great Report. The Great Report was an exhibition performance that premiered in January 2020 at Kampnagel in Hamburg. For this project, choreographer Moritz Frischkorn asked me if I would be interested in creating a new photo series that focuses on logistics in the broadest sense. After doing a bit of research, I came up with the idea of exploring the Niger Delta. The question that particularly interested me was how people can still participate, in their own way, in such an exploitative situation. And this is what ultimately led me to focus more on oil and particularly on the people who have no prospects other than to clandestinely participate in the oil business by “stealing” it.

On the one hand, I was horrified by the terrible environmental conditions the people in this region have to live under. They say the environmental damage began in the 1950s when the first wells were drilled. This means that the residents of the Niger Delta have had to deal with pollution caused by foreigners for 70 years and suffer from other countries’ prosperity. Unfortunately, this isn’t a new problem generally speaking, but this forgotten conflict is now moving back into the spotlight for some people and will hopefully cause some to change their views. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface from centreadvocacy.org. Without him, this entire project probably wouldn’t have been possible. Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface is an activist and social campaigner from Port Harcourt. He helped me gain access to the different communities and also helped me deal with the excessive bureaucracy.

Alena Zhandarova, Russian Federation, Shortlist, ZEISS Photography Award, Seeing Beyond – Discoveries, 2020

"Hidden Motherhood" by Alena Zhandarova, Russian Federation

Artist statement: I experienced a deep feeling of insecurity after I became a parent and began to ask myself questions that I hadn’t ever considered before. So I got in touch with other parents and tried to find answers to my questions. The main subjects of my photos are usually also my friends. They are interested in the questions raised by the project – like the various myths and taboos surrounding motherhood. Modern society turns a blind eye to a number of things in this context. For example, breastfeeding in public places still raises many questions in some countries.

I talk a lot with each woman I photograph and ask them to write an essay about their experiences with motherhood. This is how I also found some answers to my own questions and came to the conclusion that we can only influence our own change. I am inspired and driven by this need to discover more. Topics such as reconciling the irreconcilable as well as internal and external relationships, beliefs, and preconceptions are what I focus on in my work and what I look at from different perspectives.

My perception of the world is closely connected to the visual composition of the image. I find it hard to understand things without seeing them. This also applies, for example, to ephemeral concepts like feelings and beliefs. The moment I discovered photography for myself, it became my most important tool for communicating and experiencing the world. So I began to flesh out their possibilities and limits – also in order to learn how to shape my own path through life.

Jorrit T Hoen, Netherlands, Shortlist, ZEISS Photography Award, Seeing Beyond – Discoveries, 2020

"Parallel Universe" by Jorrit T. Hoen, Netherlands

Artist statement: When I was growing up in the days of analog film and analog equipment, me and my brother were always playing around with cameras and experimenting with 8 mm film. My father, who was an avid amateur photographer, introduced me to the magical process of developing film and printing black and white images in a darkroom he had set up in our house. I really enjoyed it and I decided to make photography my profession.

I had the idea for this series when one evening on my way home, I noticed a strange light coming from a window. The curtains were open, and when I looked inside, I saw a dark, empty living room, sparsely lit by the light from an aquarium in the corner of the room. It looked normal and yet so magical at the same time, like a scene from a David Lynch film. I was standing in a cold, deserted street, and there was this warm exotic world, only a few meters away, where tropical fish were swimming. I think I stood there for five minutes and just savored this beautiful sight. When I first took an indoor shot for this series, the owner told me a lot about the fish and plants in his aquarium. I had already been there for about an hour when he pointed out to me that I should better start taking pictures before the “sun sets” in his fish tank. When I asked him to turn off the lights in the living room, we both started whispering, as if we were afraid of disturbing the magical atmosphere of the moment.

I like to take an anthropological approach to my images. This means that I prefer to shoot people in their personal environment, manipulate as little as possible, and work with existing conditions. For this series, however, I left the people out and turned off the lights in their living rooms. This changed the scene dramatically – it was still a normal room with an aquarium, but the way I perceived it was completely different. I discovered that the absence of people made me focus more on their visible traces in their homes and learning more about them.

Luisa Dörr, Brazil, Shortlist, ZEISS Photography Award, Seeing Beyond – Discoveries, 2020

"The Flying Cholitas" by Luisa Dörr, Brazil

Artist statement: I use photography to help me connect with the world – to better understand who I am and my relationship with others. These places and faces help me live a less abstract life. I look at them over and over again and try to internalize thoughts, words, and feelings. Photography is an amazing tool to focus on what’s important.

I believe that everything you experience, see, read, learn, and think about is reflected in photography. Everyone who lives changes, no one is the same person forever. And it stands to reason that this is also reflected in one’s work. So I can see that my style is changing. Elements most likely to stay the same are my fusion of portraits and landscapes and use of warm colors.

The history of the Cholitas is as fascinating as their iconic clothing. As indigenous women, the Cholitas have long been one of the most marginalized groups in Bolivia. They fight not only in the ring, but also for their survival, to put food on the table for their children. Over the years, as these women gained more rights and freedoms and became more equal to their male counterparts, the term “cholitas” lost its pejorative connotation. Now it’s a symbol of female self-determination. While I was working on this project, I had the feeling that they wanted to be viewed, outside of the ring, with respect. I was there for the first time in 2018. It was difficult, because the Cholitas aren’t really interested in journalists and glossy magazines. In the end I worked with Monica, a friend and social worker in the community. On my first trip, I spent ten days there. The second time was easier because they already knew me. When you look at the pictures, it’s easy to forget the conditions under which they were taken. It can often be hard to breathe at 4,000 meters above sea level, but it was worth it.

Tadas Kazakevicius, Lithuania, Shortlist, ZEISS Photography Award, Seeing Beyond – Discoveries, 2020

"Between Two Shores" by Tadas Kazakevicius, Lithuania

Artist statement: I remember when I was young and my uncle showed me his darkroom with the “magic red light” that was on in there. I got myself a digital camera in 2008 after my friend bought one. Until then, my connection to photography was that I owned the same compact film camera as everyone else to shoot photos of family life at special events. I think I only really “got” photography after I bought my first medium format film camera. Only through it did I truly understand the point of photography.

Between Two Shores was created during a spring photography plein-air event where a small group of photographers work together or retreat like painters to work alone. It took place on the Curonian Spit and was organized by one of the local photography initiatives. During this time, I got to know the area I know from spending summers here in a completely new way. It was quiet, empty, and almost mysterious. Geographically, it’s a very interesting area (and also historically, since it was Prussian and German for a long time). So I began to analyze all this and understood that the people who choose to live here have a pretty strong connection to this place. The rest came naturally – I just had to begin shooting. Interesting subjects, magical locations, and people who really “feel” the places. It just all came together.

I more or less rediscovered the Curonian Spit, although I had already visited it during summer vacations. It is a very interesting patch of land that stretches from Lithuania to the Baltic Sea, forming a kind of lagoon in between them. So there are these two magic shores, which in my opinion create a place with both an electric and calming feeling at the same time. I drove around, walked around, asked around, and often found interesting places all by myself. Basically it was a kind of adventure – discovering this place that I actually knew well, but now saw with new eyes. The other season gave it a whole new appearance – it transformed before my eyes. I felt the urge to get to know this place better, to meet people I didn’t know yet, to listen to their stories. It was one grand and magical journey of discovery for me.

Posted: April 2, 2020, 6:53 pm

FeiyuTech has unveiled the Feiyu Pocket, a small 4K gimbal camera that bears a very striking resemblance to DJI’s Osmo Pocket.

Externally, the Feiyu Pocket appears to be a carbon copy of the Osmo Pocket with the only noticeable differences being a lack of an expansion port (Feiyu opted for a single integrated USB-C port on the side) and a slightly larger screen compared to the Osmo Pocket (1.3in compared to 1in, respectively). Aside from the branding and those differences, the two units are essentially identical in both shape and size, complete with a 360-degree rotating head and two buttons on user-facing side for controlling the camera.

Moving onto the internals and detailed specifications, things do start to differ a bit more. Rather than the F2 lens with an 80-degree field of view on the Osmo Pocket, the Feiyu Pocket features a slightly slower F2.8 120-degree ultrawide lens. The Feiyu Pocket also uses a 1/2.5” CMOS sensor instead of the 2/3” sensor inside of the Osmo Pocket, but both cameras output 4K (3840 x 2160 pixel) video at up to 60 frames per second. The Feiyu Pocket outputs only 8.5MP stills though, compared to the 12MP stills possible with the Osmo Mobile.

As for stabilization, the Feiyu Pocket uses a similar three-axis gimbal to the Osmo Pocket, but also throws in what FeiyuTech is calling six-axis ‘hybrid image stabilization’ that appears to combine the three-axis optical stabilization as well as another three-axis digital compensation.

FeiyuTech says the battery is rated for up to 3.5 hours of runtime when capturing 4K video at 30 fps and up to 4.5 hours when shooting 1080p video at 60 fps. the internal battery is charged using the integrated USB-C port and FeiyuTech says a 10W charger will recharge the device from empty in 80 minutes. As for storage, an integrated MicroSD card slot can support cards with up to 512GB of storage.

The Feiyu Pocket offers multiple shooting modes, including a 360-degree POV all-follow mode, a motion timelapse (hyperlapse) mode, multiple auto-panorama modes, a dedicated beauty mode for selfies and an intelligent sync motion mode that will sync the gimbal with your hand movements. The Feiyu Pocket syncs with FeiyuTech’s Android and iOS app to offer liveview and controls for changing the various settings of the camera.

Despite being very similar in shape, size and specs, the Feiyu Pocket comes in at $249 (Adorama, B&H), a whopping $120 cheaper than the DJI Osmo Pocket.

Posted: April 2, 2020, 4:57 pm

Hasselblad has released an update to its Phocus image processing applications for both desktop and mobile devices. Phocus 3.5 for desktop brings a number of new and improved features, while the Phocus Mobile 2 update is more incremental with only a few small changes.

Phocus 3.5

Phocus version 3.5 brings a number of new tools and features, including. Specifically, Hasselblad has added a new defringe tool for removing green and purple fringes. The tool will automatically detect and correct for fringing, but also offers manual controls for more precise edits. The brightness and contrast adjustments have also been updated with ‘enhanced algorithms’ that should create more precise tonal adjustments than previous versions.

Hasselblad has also added a new ‘Luma Mode’ to the curves tool for controlling the luminosity of an image with less impact on the colors of an image compared to using the RGB curve mode. Finally, to smooth things out, Hasselblad has increased GPU usage within Phocus 3.5, which should help increase performance, specifically when viewing and exporting high-resolution images. Hasselblad notes the ‘Extended GPU usage option’ must be active within the settings/preferences in order to get the boost from your computer’s GPU.

Phocus Mobile 2 version 1.0.1

Phocus Mobile 2 version 1.0.1 makes only a few changes. In addition to general performance improvements, Hasselblad has also added lens correction support for its XCD 45P and added the ability to zoom and scroll around images immediately after they’re loaded into the viewer within the app.

Phocus Mobile 2 is available on iOS and iPadOS. Hasselblad has an overview video walking through the core functionality of the app if you want to familiarize yourself with the app.

Posted: April 2, 2020, 2:56 pm

I’ve always been fascinated by anamorphic lenses, which optically compress, or 'squeeze', an image in the horizontal dimension, making it possible to capture an artificially wide field of view on a standard film frame or sensor.

I first discovered anamorphics in college, not because I shot with them but because I had a part time job as a projectionist at a small theater. Sometimes films came through in anamorphic format and I had to attach accessory lenses to the projector to desqueeze the image beamed up on the screen.

Fast forward a number of years. I’m still fascinated by anamorphic lenses, only now they’re becoming accessible enough to content creators that you don’t need to be a Hollywood filmmaker to afford them. One of these days I’ll get around to shooting an entire video project with anamorphics, but recently I’ve been intrigued by the possibility of using anamorphic lenses for still photography.

Click the large image above to view the full sample gallery.

Which is why, on a recent trip to Washington, DC, I found myself carrying no camera gear except for my iPhone 11 Pro and two small anamorphic accessory lenses. I'd been in a creative rut for a while and needed a diversion, so I resolved to shoot in anamorphic for the entire trip. It turned out to be a fun creative challenge.

Shooting anamorphic on a smartphone

The two lenses I used for this little experiment were the Moment anamorphic lens ($150) and the Moondog Labs anamorphic lens (also $150), each of which compresses the horizontal dimension by a factor of 1.33x. Both employ a simple twist-lock M-series bayonet mount (not to be confused with Leica M-mount) and attach to compatible cases from a number of manufacturers including Moment, RhinoShield and Sirui.

The Moondog Labs (L) and Moment (R) anamorphic lenses. Both squeeze the image horizontally by a factor of 1.33x, which is what makes the exit pupils appear oval in this image.

These lenses are primarily aimed at video shooters. When used with standard 16:9 format video they deliver a desqueezed aspect ratio of 2.35:1, about the same as CinemaScope, a widescreen cinema format originally developed in the 1950s.

Shooting still photos, however, requires some creative choices. The native aspect ratio for photos on most smartphones is 4:3, so a 1.33x desqueeze works out to an aspect ratio of almost exactly 16:9.

Of course, if you can already shoot in 16:9, why bother? Because anamorphic lenses provide a qualitatively differently look than simply cropping the frame. You're effectively using a longer focal length but capturing the horizontal field of view of a shorter focal length, giving you more control over depth of field than you would typically have at that shorter focal length. Additionally, anamorphic lenses produce some distinctive optical effects, such as oval bokeh and horizontal lens flare.

Anamorphic lenses provide a qualitatively differently look than simply cropping the frame.

Of course, when working with a smartphone you would need to be pretty close to your subject to have any appreciable control over depth of field or to generate much bokeh, but there's certainly the opportunity to create horizontal lens flare.

In the end I settled on a hybrid approach: I set my phone to shoot 16:9 in combination with a 1.33x anamorphic lens. This results in that wide 2.35:1 CinemaScope look, so that's the route I went.

Shooting in anamorphic

Almost as soon as I began shooting I realized there were more choices to make. Should I shoot Raw or JPEG? Would it be better to use the iPhone's built-in camera app or a third party app designed for anamorphic lenses? Let the experimentation begin!

Use the slider to compare the desqueezed image (L) with the squeezed image (R). The desqueeze process can be performed automatically by an apps, or in post-processing with a program like Photoshop.

The built-in camera app was the easiest way to get started, and ensured that I was taking advantage of all the wizardry of the iPhone's computational photography. However, there was one downside: there's no way to desqueeze the image in-camera. The image is always compressed horizontally, so you need to pre-visualize what the desqueezed photo will look like when framing a shot.

It's not difficult, but it's still not as natural as viewing a desqueezed image in real time, so I tried a couple third party apps designed to do just that: Filmic Firstlight (iOS, Android) and Moment Pro Camera (iOS).

Both are feature-rich photography apps that display a desqueezed image preview when shooting and include useful tools like manual controls, focus peaking, zebras, Raw image capture and the ability to export TIFF files.

The Moment Pro Camera app provides a real time desqueezed image preview, making it easier to compose photos.

The most noticeable difference I found is that the Moment app obscures parts of the image behind various camera controls, whereas the the Filmic app does not. As a result, I slightly preferred the Filmic app, but beyond that one issue they provide similar feature sets. They're both good apps and the one you prefer will mostly come down to personal preference.

The Filmic Firstlight app provides similar functionality to the Moment app, but doesn't obscure your image behind the camera controls.

Workflow and image quality

The workflow is far easier with third party apps since you can see what your final image will look like when shooting, and photos are desqueezed before being saved to the camera roll: no additional work required.

In contrast, photos shot using the built-in camera app require an additional processing step to desqueeze them. It was easy enough to create a Photoshop action to do this in bulk, but it meant a little extra work and some delayed gratification.

The workflow is far easier with third party apps since you can see what your final image will look like when shooting.

After experimenting with various combinations of app, file format and desqueeze methods, I learned some useful things:

The Filmic and Motion apps are more fun to shoot with thanks to real time previews of the anamorphic image. It's more intuitive and you don't need to imagine what the final shot will look like. They also make it easy to share photos in the moment instead of waiting until later.

Anamorphic accessory lenses allow you to capture classic anamorphic characteristics like horizontal lens flares.

iPhone 11 Pro with Moment anamorphic lens.

For the most part, desqueezed Raw images generally didn't look any better than JPEGs from the iPhone's native app, even after being stretched out. I expected this for photos taken in low light since the native app can do some exposure stacking, but it turned out to be true in most of the comparisons I tried.

Images captured with the native iPhone app and desqueezed in Photoshop generally looked a tiny bit better than the files from the Filmic and Motion apps. It's possible the those apps don't have access to quite the same computational wizardry as the native app, or it might just be that Photoshop does a better desqueeze.

Either way, the differences aren't significant. As a result, I often found myself using the third party apps for a more enjoyable experience.

The greatest limitation on image quality are the lenses themselves. They're really intended for video use, so it feels a bit unfair to judge them critically as still lenses. Keeping that in mind, you're going to see flaws that wouldn't be nearly as noticeable in a moving image.

iPhone 11 Pro with Moondog Labs anamorphic lens.

Overall, the Moondog and Moment optics performed similarly; as with any accessory lens, neither provides the level of optical clarity found on your smartphone's built-in lenses. Once you add a desqueeze step that stretches the image horizontally, you're going to start seeing artifacts. In fact, if you pixel peep the images in this article you’ll almost certainly be disappointed

Final thoughts

None of the anamorphic photos I shot with these lenses will win awards for technical image quality, but that really wasn't the point of the experiment. Using them forced me to think differently about the way I composed and framed shots, and that's always a good creative exercise.

Ignoring the optical limitations of the lenses for still photography, I really like the wide, cinematic aspect ratio. I was also pleased that I was able to provoke at least one of the distinctive characteristics anamorphics are known for, horizontal lens flare.

Now, couldn't you just use the widest angle lens on your smartphone and crop to 2.35:1? Of course you could, but it won't look quite the same. You'll often hear cinematographers talk about the characteristics of a particular lens instead of how technically perfect it is, and even on a smartphone these anamorphic lenses result in a different look than you'll get by cropping. Is it technically perfect? Definitely not, but it can be a lot of fun to visualize the world in a slightly different way.

iPhone 11 Pro with Moment anamorphic lens.

What this experience taught me is that I want to shoot more photos using anamorphic lenses. It's not something that a lot of people do, but it challenges your creativity and presents an opportunity to create unique images. For my next experiment, I'm planning to kick it up a notch and pair a larger anamorphic lens with a mirrorless camera. That should allow me to take better advantage of unique anamorphic characteristics related to depth of field.

Want to try this this yourself? It's a fun experiment that you can do on your own. All you need is an anamorphic accessory lens and a case with a compatible mount. In addition to the Moondog and Moment lenses I tried, there are similar lenses available from Sandmarc, BeastGrip and Ulanzi, and cases from Moment, RhinoShield and Sirui. If you give it a try let me know how it works and send me a link to your photos!

View the full anamorphic sample gallery

Posted: April 2, 2020, 2:00 pm

We think the Canon EF 50mm F1.8 STM and Sigma 85mm F1.4 Art are the best all-around picks for APS-C and full-frame Canon DSLRs, respectively, but we've got more recommendations to meet a range of budgets.

Posted: April 2, 2020, 5:00 am

The Glimpse project has released a new fork of the GNU Image Manipulation Program often referred to as 'GIMP,' called Glimpse image editor. This free, open-source image editing software is building upon the legacy of the GNU Image Manipulation Program to make free image editing software more user-friendly and accessible. If you're unfamiliar with GNU Image Manipulation Program, it is a free alternative to Adobe Photoshop, offering much of the same core functionality.

GNU Image Manipulation has remained an important tool for many users, but Glimpse strives to make the user interface more photographer-friendly. By forking, Glimpse Image Editor can build upon a stable foundation but reinvigorate efforts to improve the usability and functionality of the software.

Screenshot from Glimpse image editor

There are three primary reasons for the Glimpse project forking. First is the name of the GNU Image Manipulation Program, GIMP. The name 'GIMP' was chosen nearly two decades ago as a reference to a scene in the cult classic movie, Pulp Fiction. However, many people find the name offensive. At worst, the name is ableist and reduces the reach of the program, especially in educational settings. There have been many user complaints and requests for the GNU Image Manipulation Program to be renamed, but the team in charge of the project has opted against a major change.

Secondly, the dedicated user interface design team for GNU Image Manipulation Program hasn't met since 2012, resulting in fewer usability improvements and slower development of updates. Glimpse also includes useful third-party plug-ins pre-bundled.

The Glimpse project is quick to point out that the intention is not to replace GNU Image Manipulation Program, but rather, to provide a rebranded fork which is more appropriate in professional and educational settings. On GitHub, the Glimpse project says the following of Glimpse image editor, 'The aim of Glimpse Image Editor is to repackage the GNU Image Manipulation Program to make it more appealing to the wider computer-using public, and also to better tailor the program for school and workplace deployments.'

Of course, it is about more than just the name. As of now, Glimpse has been focused on removing the pre-existing 'GIMP' branding. Over the longer term, the team aims to revise the graphical user interface and improve overall functionality and usability. Ultimately, in terms of both the name and overall goals for Glimpse, the team hopes to make free image editing software more accessible.

As of now, you can download and install Glimpse on systems running Windows 7 or newer and modern variants of GNU/Linux. Support for macOS is in the works. Glimpse can be downloaded from Snapcraft and from Glimpse directly. If you are interested in learning more about the project and finding out how you can contribute, click here.


Update (April 1, 2020): Updated the article to correct that GNU Image Manipulation Program has not removed third party plug-in support and has seen updates recently.

Posted: April 1, 2020, 6:33 pm

We’ve already seen the Peak Design Travel Tripod and gotten our hands on it for a short period of time, but after successfully sending out units to its Kickstarter backers, Peak Design is ready to open up orders to the public. At 12am PDT on April 7, Peak Design will allow the general public to purchase their latest piece of gear; but that’s not all. Peak Design says 100% of profits from every tripod sold will be split 50/50 to COVID-19 disaster relief and climate change relief funds.

The Travel Tripod launch announcement was originally embargoed for the day of the launch, April 7, but Peak Design Founder and CEO Peter Dering took to YouTube in the above video to explain the decision to launch the tripod at the time they’ve chosen, as well as announce a ‘Weird Times Sale’ that is currently live and sees nearly all Peak Design gear (everything except the Travel Tripod) between 20–40% off to boost sales during a time when purchases have all but ceased.

A breakdown of the discounts for Peak Design's sale.

Travel Tripod Updates

The Peak Design Travel Tripods were first introduced in May 2019. Over the course of its Kickstarter campaign, the company raised over $12.1 million from more than 27k backers. Over the course of production, Peak Design altered a few aspects of the design to refine the initial version to improve the overall experience. Specifically, Peak Design’s revisions include a new hex tool key with leg clip holder, an updated padded, weatherproof carry bag and an ultralight conversion kit that turns the tripod into a more compact tabletop tripod.

Peak Design also opted to use an aluminum center column for its carbon fiber tripod, citing testing its own engineering team came up with as well as insight from tripod testing extraordinaire David Berryrieser of the Center Column. Peak Design says Berryrieser’s testing, ‘revealed a significant improvement in the aluminum center column resisting lateral twist, less vertical slip and higher max load for the counterweight hook […] All this for the price of 16g or 10 paper clips worth of additional weight.’

As previously mentioned, 100% of profits from each Travel Tripod sold from April 7–10 through PeakDesign.com and Peak Design’s retail partners around the world will be distributed to the CDC Foundation and Climate Neutral.

You can find the ‘Weird Times Sale’ on Peak Design’s online shop and authorized Peak Design retailers. Travel Tripod sales should go live at 12am on April 7 if you’re interested in securing one.

Posted: April 1, 2020, 5:31 pm

As it had assured consumers back in October 2019, Canon has released a firmware update for its EOS M6 Mark II camera that adds a 24p (23.98fps) mode that was inexplicably missing from the camera until now.

Canon has already released firmware for the other camera systems it promised 24p modes for, including the EOS 90D and EOS RP, so the new 1.1.0 update for the EOS M6 Mark II wraps up its response to customer feedback regarding the lack of a 24p mode when shooting video.

In addition to adding the 24p mode, the update also fixes an issue wherein the focus position of the lens returns to the home position if the camera powers off while in ‘Auto Power Off’ is turned on during ‘Interval Timing’ shooting as well as an issue that, ‘in rare cases’ would cause the camera to not focus at the edges of the image area.

The 1.1.0 firmware update is currently available to download (40MB) for both macOS and Windows computers on Canon’s EOS M6 Mark II product page.

Changelog:

Firmware Version 1.1.0 incorporates the following enhancement and fixes:

  1. The option to capture movies in the frame rate of 23.98p has been added.
  2. Fixes the phenomenon where the focus position of the lens returns to the home position if the camera powers off due to the “Auto Power Off” setting during Interval Timing shooting.
  3. Fixes the phenomenon in which, in rare cases, the camera may not autofocus at the edges of the image area.

Firmware Version 1.1.0 is for cameras with firmware up to Version 1.0.1. If the camera’s firmware is already Version 1.1.0, it is not necessary to update the firmware.

When updating the firmware of the camera, please review the instructions thoroughly before you download the firmware.

Notes: You can download the latest version of the instruction manual from our Web site.

Q&A: Preparations for a firmware update: After the downloaded compressed file (.dmg file) is extracted, a firmware folder is created.

*Extracting the downloaded file: The downloaded folder is automatically extracted, and a firmware folder is created. If the download folder cannot be automatically extracted, double-click the folder.

The extracted folder contains the firmware (File name: M6200110.FIR, File size: 37,013,792 bytes) and instructions on the firmware update procedures (a PDF file in five languages: Japanese, English, French, Spanish, and Simplified Chinese).

Before starting the firmware update operations, please confirm the contents of the download, and carefully read through the firmware update procedures.

(The following is the history of past firmware updates) Changes in Version 1.0.1:

  1. Corrects a PTP communications vulnerability.
  2. Corrects a vulnerability related to firmware update.
Posted: April 1, 2020, 2:27 pm

Lots of people are suddenly working from home. For many, that means creating online videos for others to watch or logging time on video calls. We review some simple techniques to make your videos look and sound great, so you'll look more professional.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel to get new episodes of DPReview TV every week.

For more tips, watch Chris and Jordan's earlier video about coverage on The Camera Store TV.

Posted: April 1, 2020, 2:00 pm

Introduction

The Fujifilm X-A7 is an entry-level APS-C camera with a 24-megapixel sensor, a fully-articulating 2.76M dot 3.5” touchscreen, a hybrid autofocus system with nearly 100 percent coverage, and Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity inside a lightweight and compact body that comes in a variety of colors. It replaces the X-A5 and although the camera bodies may look very similar, the X-A7 features some substantial upgrades on the inside and out.

Key specifications

  • 24 Megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
  • Fully-articulating 2.76M dot 3.5” touchscreen
  • 4K/30p video capture, uncropped with 10 minute time limit
  • Mic input, but no headphone jack
  • Hybrid autofocus system with 425 autofocus points, 8.5 times the phase detection points as the X-A5
  • Can shoot bursts at 6 fps with continuous autofocus
  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for image transfer
  • Rated at 270 shots per charge
  • Can be charged via USB

What is it?

If we look at the X-A7 compared against its immediate peers, you can see its specification is competitive with similarly priced cameras. The Sony offers a viewfinder and simpler/more powerful autofocus for around $150 more. If it's the viewfinder you need, Fujifilm's own X-T200 adds one to an otherwise similar spec at a $100 premium over the X-A7.

Fujifilm X-A7 Canon EOS M200 Olympus PEN E-PL10 Sony a6100
List price $699 with 15-45mm $599 with 15-45mm $699 with 14-42mm $850 with 16-50mm
Pixel count 24MP 24MP 16MP 24MP
Sensor size APS-C
(369 sq mm)
APS-C
(332 sq mm)
Four Thirds
(225 sq mm)
APS-C
(367 sq mm)
Autofocus system Phase detection Dual Pixel Contrast detection Phase detection
Image stabilization In-lens only In-lens only In-body stabilization In-lens only
Video Full-width 4K up to 30p Full-width 4K up to 24p Full-width 4K up to 30p

Up to 30p
Full-width at 24p

Mic/
Headphone?
Yes/No No/No No/No Yes/No
Viewfinder No No No Yes
Rear screen 2.76M dots
3.5"
1.04M dots
3.0"
1.04M dots
3.0"
0.92M dots
3.0"
Battery life 270 315 350 420
Weight 320g 299g 380g 396g

This entry-level APS-C camera is a low-priced option with a 24 Megapixel sensor and a pretty impressive hybrid autofocus system. It has a large fully-articulating touchscreen interface for beginners that is bright and 1/2 inch larger than the screens found on other cameras in this class. It's much closer to the look and feel you'd get from a modern smartphone.

Without an EVF, the X-A7's touchscreen becomes extra important because it doubles as the camera’s viewfinder. The body also features twin command dials on the top plate and an 8-way joystick on the back right side of the camera if you prefer to navigate menus and settings the old fashioned way.

The X-A7's large, high resolution touchscreen is the primary way for interacting with the camera but, unusually for this class of camera, there are twin control dials and a joystick for more direct control.

There's a pop-up flash that does a decent job in low-light situations and the ability to attach an external flash via hot shoe. The camera features a mic input, a USB-C port for charging, and an HDMI port. But, like its peers, there’s no way to connect headphones to monitor audio.

Out-of-camera JPEG
Fujinon XC15-45mm F3.5-5.6 OIS PZ @ 45mm | ISO 3200 | 1/1000 sec | F5.6
Photo: Jeanette D. Moses

The body is made of plastic, but the control dials have the same tactile feel as higher-end Fujifilm bodies. Although the X-A7 is certainly a budget camera, it doesn’t feel overly cheap.

We’ve spent the last month using the X-A7 with the Fujinon XC15-45mm F3.5-5.6 OIS PZ lens and the XF 23mm F2 R WR lens. The XF 23mm is a mid-priced fixed focal length lens and its fairly bright maximum aperture lets you exploit more of the camera's capabilities.

What’s new?

Out-of-camera JPEG
Fujinon XC15-45mm F3.5-5.6 OIS PZ @ 15mm | IS0 3200 | 1/40 sec | f/3.5
Photo: Jeanette D. Moses

The Fujifilm X-A7 got a major design overhaul on the inside and out, but the 16:9 aspect ratio fully-articulating touchscreen display is the most obvious change to the camera. This is the first entry-level Fujifilm ILC to feature a fully-articulating screen, which is often favored by videographers and makes it easier to snap selfies. At 2.76m dots, that large screen is substantially higher resolution than its competitors.

The 24 Megapixel sensor is new, too. According to Fujifilm, its copper wiring reduces digital noise and is the reason that the camera is capable of shooting uncropped 4K/30p video. The X-A7 features 425 autofocus points spread out across the frame. The algorithms for face and eye detection have been improved and, while not class-leading, the AF is significantly faster and more reliable than previous X-A cameras.

The dials on the camera’s top plate also see an overhaul. The camera now features front control and rear control dials flat to the top of the camera, for easy thumb and forefinger control. The four-way control found on the X-A5 has been replaced with a smaller 8-way joystick to make room for the larger LCD screen.

The fully articulating rear screen has the advantage that it can be turned-in for protection. Note also the easily accessible twin control dials on the camera's top plate: something usually reserved for more expensive cameras.

The battery is the same NP-W126S version found in the X-A5, but only has a CIPA rating of 270 shots per charge – a substantial drop from the 440 rating of the X-A5. The X-A7 can achieve 440 shots in an economy mode that darkens and slows the image preview after a few seconds, so you can get the long-lasting but less pleasant X-A5 experience if you wish.

Either way, if you are planning to be shooting stills for a full day you will definitely need to bring a spare battery along. If you are taking advantage of the camera's 4K capabilities expect that battery to drain even faster. You can at least charge the camera over USB, though, so there's also the option to top the camera up using an external battery pack while traveling.

The X-A7 has a built-in flash. It's not especially powerful but can make for a good fill-flash: helping to balance out a nearby, backlit subject.

The new 4K/30p video mode is smooth and good looking. A new feature called Countdown Video mode records footage in 15, 30 or 60 second durations, making it easy to get something shot and uploaded to social media. Unfortunately there isn't a way to transfer those video clips directly from the camera to your phone so you will still need a laptop for social sharing.

What stands out about the camera?

The camera’s redesigned articulating touchscreen is one of its biggest strengths. A 20MP 16:9 (widescreen) ratio is default and if you want to take advantage of the full width of the screen you'll want to shoot your stills at that size. You still have the option to use the full 24MP 3:2 region of the sensor if you prefer.

Like most modern ILCs, we found the image quality to be extremely high. The pictures it produces generally look very good with color response being a particular strong point: even in the pale light of March in New York, the X-A7 produced attractive, vibrant images. Detail capture levels are high and well-judged sharpening and noise reduction make the most of this.

In general you can leave the camera to do its own thing, with white balance generally giving a fairly natural-looking result without obliterating all the 'atmosphere' of the scene. Our only real concern was that Face Detection mode prioritizes the exposure of faces rather heavily. It means the people you're photographing look good but you'll need to stop to think about where the sun is, or which DR mode you're in, if you don't want to risk over-exposing the background.

Click here to see how the Fujifilm X-A7 compares in our studio test scene

The touch interface is the quickest way to access and change settings while shooting and is incredibly responsive. It takes just two swipes to access settings like focus mode, the Q menu, white balance, and film simulation modes. When selecting a film simulation mode, the camera offers a side-by-side comparison of what the film simulation will look like before you commit to making a change. A slider in the middle of the screen lets you move the simulation back and forth over your frame.

It’s a handy feature that we never asked for, but found to be particularly useful when shooting with the X-A7. The menu system on the back of the camera is well-organized and responsive as well.

The camera's simplified user interface is very visual in its representation. When you change Film Simulation mode the camera lets you preview the effect it will have.

During our time with the X-A7 we found the face and eye detection to be responsive with human and animal subjects. Although it’s typically easier to use these features with a viewfinder, the screen on the X-A7 is large enough and bright enough that it was easy to tell when the camera had detected a face or an eye in the frame. The touch-to-focus feature on the X-A7 is also speedy and accurate.

Skin-softening, depth of field effects, exposure compensation and a feature called Bright Mode that tries to stop highlights and shadows getting overwhelmed, can all be accessed through the touchscreen and give images quick in-camera enhancements that would usually be found on a smartphone.

Even at full intensity the skin softening has a subtle and realistic look.

We have slightly mixed feeling about the Fujinon XC 15-45mm F3.5-5.6 OIS PZ that often comes bundled with the X-A7. We find the zoom control to be a bit too sensitive – even with the slightest touch of the zoom ring the lens tends to zoom to its full 45mm or back to its widest 15mm view. This makes it difficult to precisely frame an image using focal lengths in the middle of the spectrum. We really appreciate the focal length coverage, though: it's appreciably wider than you usually get in this type of camera. The results are impressively sharp, too.

Using the X-A7 with the XF 23mm F2 R WR lens is generally a more engaging, pleasant and tactile experience. We especially liked the dedicated aperture ring that it offers, which the XC lens lacks.

The X-A7 has a USB-C port that can be used for off-loading movies or battery charging. Unlike the slightly more expensive X-T200, it can't be used with an adapter to connect headphones.

The camera features both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and transferring images through the Fujifilm Camera Remote app was a breeze on iOS. As this is a camera aimed at entry-level users, the ability to shoot and quickly share is very important.

One of our favorite aspects of the X-A7 is how it handles color. The film simulation modes inside the camera make it easy to capture cinematic-looking stills and video, while settings like skin softening and depth of field control make it easy to shoot and share without ever having to drop the files into an editing program.

Conclusion

Our early impressions of the X-A7 were overwhelmingly positive and now that we’ve spent time shooting with a production model of the camera we are happy to say that this is in fact the best entry-level mirrorless ILC that Fujifilm has released. This is enough to make it one of the stand-out cameras in its class. Although having the option of an EVF accessory would have been nice, the LCD is large and bright making it perfectly capable for capturing friends and family.

The new sensor inside the camera helps deliver best-in-class video and, combined with an updated processor, substantial improvements to face and eye detection autofocus.

The redesigned top plate, the variety of color choices and the compact form factor make it a lot of fun to shoot with as well, with twin dials giving you some room to grow into, if you want to learn the basics of photography. That may seem frivolous, but given the target market for this camera, the fun factor is actually quite important. The best camera is the one that you have with you, and the X-A7 is stylish, easy to use, and small enough that it won’t weigh you down on vacation or when you are out with friends.


Scoring

Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category. Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.

Fujifilm X-A7
Category: Entry Level Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR
Build quality
Ergonomics & handling
Features
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Optics
Performance
Movie / video mode
Connectivity
Value
PoorExcellent
Conclusion
The X-A7 is a small, affordable mirrorless camera whose interface makes it easy and enjoyable to use.
Good for
Selfies, video and learning photography
Not so good for
Composing shots in bright light (where a viewfinder helps)
81%
Overall score

Posted: April 1, 2020, 1:00 pm

ProGrade Digital has announced the release of the PG04 and PG05.5, a pair of memory card readers designed to make the most of their respective compatible media formats.

First up is the PG04, a single-slot Thunderbolt 3 reader for CFexpress Type B and XQD cards that offers max transfer speeds up to 40Gb/s (5GB/s). The PG04 comes with a Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 3 cable as well as ProGrade’s patent-pending adhesive metal plate for attaching the magnetic reader to various surfaces.

Next up is the dual-slot PG05.5, a replacement for ProGrade Digital’s PG05 that features a CFexpress Type B (not compatible with XQD cards) and SD card slot (UHS-II). The updated reader uses a USB 3.2 Gen 2 interface that offers speeds upwards of 10Gb/s (1.25GB/s). The PG05.5 comes with a USB Type C to USB Type C cable, a USB Type C to USB A cable and ProGrade’s patent-pending adhesive metal plate.

The PG04 and PG05.5 are currently available to purchase for $129.99 (Adorama, B&H) and $79.99 (Adorama, B&H), respectively.

Posted: March 31, 2020, 4:57 pm

Al Clark, an award-winning automotive filmmaker, captured a record-breaking event over 2 years ago. Professional race car driver Juan Pablo Montoya accelerated a Bugatti Chiron 1,500 PS super car from 0 to 400 km/h (250 mph), and back down to standstill, in less than 42 seconds. As of now, the impressive feat has been viewed over 40,000,000 times on YouTube and possibly up to 100,000,000, on other social media channels, according to Clark.

He recently created a behind-the-scenes feature explaining his inspiration for the clip along with how he managed to film that 0-400-0 km/h maneuver – which took place on parent company Volkswagen Group’s test track facility in Ehra-Lessien, Germany. Regarding the choice to use a helicopter for capturing aerial sections of the footage, Clark says ‘you would never be able to shoot this film with a drone. A drone would be not only too slow, but just not able to stay in the air long enough.’

Unlike a drone, a helicopter can stay in the air for up to an hour and more. This is what Clark needed to get the perfect aerial footage.

While a drone wasn’t deployed, DJI’s Zenmuse X5 camera, typically used on its Inspire models, played a key role in capturing the Chiron as it approached its highest speeds. The footage turned out to be so smooth that the team added in a bit of shaking during post-production to make it look more natural. While you’ll have to watch the video, above, to find out Clark managed to pull this stunt off, he insists that ‘it wasn’t a (Toyota) Supra.’ Viewers are encouraged to fast forward to the 7:11 minute mark if they can’t wait for the big reveal.

Due to popular demand, Clark plans on adding more behind-the-scenes stories to his YouTube channel. You can also follow him, and other key members involved in the shoot, on Instagram at @outrunfilms, @alclark, and @michaelrockperring.

Posted: March 31, 2020, 4:18 pm

Photographer Brendan Barry has published a new video instructing viewers on how to make their own caffenol developer and salt-based fixer using common household items and ingredients. The process is very simple with the most expensive item being the photo paper. The new tutorial follows a video Barry published last week showing how to turn an entire bedroom into a massive camera obscura.

The new video is around 15 minutes long and it guides viewers through the entire process, starting from the ingredients and items needed all the way through the development of a photo captured using Barry's giant room camera. The recipe is the result of experimentation, according to Barry, who points out that these ingredients may be easier to acquire at the moment compared to more traditional products.

The developer requires washing soda, granulated coffee and vitamin C powder -- Barry notes that vitamin C with zinc didn't appear to have a negative impact compared to vitamin C alone. Ordinary inexpensive table salt is used for the fixer. Mixing the two products requires only a mortar and pestle for grinding the vitamin C tablets, a small container and a measuring cup for mixing the developer and a separate container for mixing the salt fixer. A digital scale is used to weigh some of the ingredients.

Once the developer and fixer are mixed and poured in the trays, the exposed photographic paper is put in the developer for 'about three minutes,' according to Barry, who explains that it needs to be left in a bit longer than would be typical with a normal developer. The coffee stain on the paper produces a slight sepia tone in the resulting image, he notes, also explaining that the vitamin C is what produces the contrast in the photo. Leaving out the vitamin C will reduce the contrast.

After the developed paper is rinsed in the tray that contains plain water, it is transferred to the tray with fix, which highlights the one big disadvantage to this process. Barry explains that the photo paper must be left in the fix for 'quite a long time,' which equates to around 12 to 24 hours, though the lights can be turned back on after an hour.

Barry demonstrates how to quickly create a positive print from the resulting negative, though he notes that more detailed information on this process is provided in the camera obscura tutorial video from last week.

'This is obviously just a basic, simple introduction to caffenol and making your own developer and fixer,' Barry explains. 'I like to make things as accessible as possible and encourage other people to have a go at these things. Sometimes they can seem a bit intimidating and complicated [...] but it's really, really simple.'

Posted: March 31, 2020, 2:39 pm
Looking back, the LX3's clever use of its sensor wasn't the aspect that had most impact on me.

In terms of my own photography, probably the most significant camera I’ve owned is my first SLR: a Pentax P30 (P3 in the US). It was a birthday present, bought second-hand when I was in my early teens and it introduced me to many of the basic concepts of photography. It’s the camera I shot with when I tried my hand in the darkroom and it still holds a special place in my heart. I’ve not used it for many years, but it was still working quite happily the last time I tried.

But the one that has perhaps ended up having most effect on me was the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3. I’d only been formally reviewing cameras for sixth months and the LX3 was the eighth camera I was asked to cover. All had been compacts, some had been better than others, but I recognized there was something different about the LX3.

The most significant camera I've ever owned is my Pentax P30 but the camera that's had most impact on me is perhaps the Panasonic LX3

I’d enjoyed using the camera, which is always a good start, but it was when I got to selecting images for the gallery that it really hit home that this was something a bit special. Part of it was that the aspect ratio switch on the top of the lens had prompted me to make greater use of the camera’s multi-aspect sensor. But more than this, the pictures just looked better.

Looking back, there’s not a good shot in there, not amongst my images, at least. But the general image quality was so much higher than I’d got used to, from the middling IXUSes and woeful superzooms I’d owned and reviewed up to that point. It was the first time that it really sank in to me just how much difference sensor size and lens brightness could make.

Obscure but important details

Up until that point, when filling in that part of the spec sheet I’d rather glazed over, not fully appreciating the difference between the small sensor formats. And I suspect it’s not just me that struggles to mentally conjure the size differences between 1/2.3”-type and 1/1.7”-type sensors.

The LX3 uses a series of crops from a 11.3MP 1/1.63" sensor. The largest of these crops is 66% larger than the 1/2.5" sensor in the Canon A720 IS that I'd reviewed just beforehand. This is not something I was able to work out in my head.

I’m not great at fractions at the best of times but mix in some decimals, add an unfamiliarity with inches, demand the mental gymnastics of relating diagonals to area and garnish with some inherent inconsistencies of the naming system, and I won't be able to spontaneously comprehend the impact.

But that difference was there to be seen.

Exponents of √2

Then there was the brighter lens. F2.0-2.8 won’t get you much in the way of shallow depth-of-field in most circumstances, but it gets you a lot more light than the F2.8-4.8 lenses that had become typical elsewhere. Again, it’s not necessarily easy to think in exponents of the square root of two, but there are few enough commonly quoted F-stops that you quickly learn that F2.0 is a whole stop faster than F2.8 and that doubling the number would give a two-stop difference, so it’s easier to at least get a feel for the magnitude of the numbers.

Camera Lens Lens
(full frame equiv. terms)
Canon Powershot A720 IS 5.8 – 34.8mm
F2.8 – 4.9
35 – 210mm
F17 – 30
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 (4:3 sensor region) 5.1 – 12.8mm
F2.0 – 2.8
24 – 60mm
F9 – 13
Olympus E-510
with kit zoom
14 – 42mm
F3.5 – 5.6
28 – 84mm
F7 – 11
It has its detractors, but the idea of equivalence can help overcome the ambiguity of sensor size and aperture impact, by reporting everything on a common basis. Here it's clear that the LX3 offered capabilities closer to a contemporary DLSR costing twice as much, rather than a conventional compact.

The LX3 helped me see the light, if you’ll excuse the tenuous pun. There are a great many other things that make one camera enjoyable and another one less so, but so much of image quality stems from how much light you can capture. The LX3 did well on both fronts.

It would be another couple of years until I really understood how that additional light delivers the additional quality, but the LX3 was the camera that made me really recognize and appreciate the differences a bigger sensor and a brighter lens can make to almost any type of camera.

Straightening out a wrinkle

The LX3 was also interesting in that its lens required distortion correction and, when we first processed the Raw files from a pre-production sample, these corrections weren’t being applied. At a stroke it became clear how, almost overnight, compact cameras had gone from offering zooms that started at 35 or 36mm equiv., to suddenly gaining 28 and 24mm wide-angle capabilities: we’d just not encountered enough of these cameras with Raw to be able to see behind the curtain.

Wide-angle lenses had just started to become commonplace in compact cameras, but the LX3's Raw output finally gave away how the change had come about.

With its limited 24-60mm equivalent focal length range, the LX3 also teaches a valuable lesson about the trade-offs required to create a camera that’s small, offers good image quality and could be launched at a comparatively affordable $500/£399.

Looking back, the LX3 was a great camera. Its JPEG color wasn’t a patch on the output of any modern camera but it helped inspire a resurgence of enthusiast compacts with short, bright lenses, before the 1” sensor rendering the whole lot obsolete. Back before equivalence simplified things, it was a camera that helped me cut through the fog of obscure sensor size terminology, learn the value of a lens that stays bright across its range, and appreciate that maths can provide a more compact alternative to extra glass when you’re designing a lens. None of us as individuals get to decide whether it’s seen as a classic, but it was a hugely significant camera to me.


If you have a piece of gear that you'd like to write about, we'd love to hear from you – and you might even get featured on the DPReview homepage. Leave us a short note in the comments and if you have a longer story to tell, send it to us, and we'll take it from there.

Posted: March 31, 2020, 1:00 pm

Introduction

If you're lucky enough to have some free hours in these uncertain times, there are a lot of ways you could spend them. How about learning how to develop your own film? Or maybe developing film is an activity you tried long ago and one you'd like to jump back into. After all, the smell of fixer singeing the nostrils can be quite an intoxicating/nostalgic aroma (Please do not smell the fixer).

What follows is a quick and easy home developing guide that'll cover everything from supplies, to chemistry dilutions, to proper cleanup. So turn down your record player and grab a good old fashioned pencil and paper to take notes [glances at the sun dial] – it's developing time!

Reasons to develop at home

But first, if you still need convincing, here's are some solid reasons to take the plunge into the wild DIY world of home developing:

1. It's cheaper to set up a home developing kit than you may think. I was able to get everything I needed from a local brick and mortar store for ~$150. Obviously a lot of stores are closed right now, but you may pay even less sourcing items online, or second hand.

2. Home developing is a hands-on experience that makes you better appreciate both the magic of photography and the wonder of chemistry. There's something really cool about seeing the image creation process from start to end. In short, you'll feel a bit like a mad scientist.

3. If you are paying a lab to develop and scan your images right now, setting up a home lab can be a cheaper option in the long run. And even if labs are closed (as many are at the present time), you'll still be able to process your own images.

4. It feels good to learn something new / do it yourself.

Best films to start with

For the sake of this article, we'll concentrate on developing B&W film, as the process is easier to learn than it is for color. B&W film also tends to be more forgiving to exposure errors than color... not that you'll make any!

Some good B&W films to start with include Kodak Tri-X, Kodak T-Max, Ilford HP-5 Plus and Ilford Delta 400. Be aware, there are B&W film stocks out there that are meant to be developed in color chemistry, like Ilford XP2. Avoid these.

Chemistry 101: The developing basics

The process of developing film is actually quite straightforward. We'll go into more detail further into this article, but the basic steps go like this: Load your film into a lightproof tank and pour a series of chemicals in one after another, then wash, dry and scan.

The two main chemicals involved in the process are developer, which does exactly what it sounds like, and fixer, which stabilizes the film after development. A stop bath rinse is done between the developing and fixing stage and a water rinse is done at the end.

What you'll need to assemble your home mini lab

Here's what you'll need to set up your home developing kit: Concentrated developer, fixer and stop bath (optional - plain old water also works). Liquid concentration is easier to work with than powder and is also safer as there's no chance of particulate inhalation. You'll also want a wetting agent like Kodak Photo-flo (this is also optional but I find it helps negatives dry without watermarks), a developing tank with reels*, several plastic bottles to mix your dilutions in, measuring beakers, a funnel, a thermometer, a stop-watch/timer and a film squeegee. Many photography stores carry all these items.

You'll also want a light-proof bag to load your reels, as well as a bottle opener and a sharp pair of scissors. The former is to pry open the film canister the latter is to cut the film (both while in the bag). Film clips are great for drying, but clothespins work well too. You'll also want plastic sleeves to store your negatives in once dried.

*For those wishing to avoid the developing tank, all-in-one options like the the Lab-Box, may be your cup of tea. We can't vouch for its ease of use, but our pals over at Pop Photo seem to like it.

Loading film onto reels

There are a handful of companies that make film tanks and reels. In general though the plastic reels are MUCH easier to load than the metal ones. Of the popular plastic brands, I've found that Paterson Universal makes the easiest to load reels (avoid Omega brand reels).

Once you've got your tank, I recommend practicing loading your reel with the lights on. Yes you will need to sacrifice a roll of film to do this, but it's worth it. Here are the basic steps/tips for loading:

1. Pop open your film canister from the bottom using a bottle opener. It should not take much to pry the bottom cap off.

2. Pull the film and spool out of the canister and trim off the film leader so that the roll ends in a straight cut line.

3. Insert the freshly-cut end of the film roll into the reel. On a Paterson Universal reel the side in which you load the film is flat and the side it feeds out of is rounded; this makes it easy to load correctly in the dark. Once inserted, hold each side of the reel in either hand and gently twist the opposite direction until the reel hits a stopping point, then twist back; this should advance the film onto your reel one frame at a time.

4. Count in your head how many times you do the above twisting action. When you get to 32 (assuming you're loading a 36 roll frame) unroll the rest of the film from your spool and cut it free - there's usually a small piece of tape attaching it.

5. Proceed to load the last of the film.

6. Insert the reel onto the tank's center column. Remember if you're only developing one reel to still use two reels in the tank with the loaded one on bottom.

The developing process - mixing up the chemistry

Mixing up photo chemistry requires very little knowledge of chemistry itself. If you can follow the directions required to bake a cake, you can certainly mix up these chemical dilutions with no trouble.

As mentioned, we recommend purchasing concentrated liquid chemicals and some plastic containers to store your dilution in (make sure the containers are photo chemical safe). Most chemistry comes with basic dilution guidelines printed on the bottle. For example I use Ilford Ilfotec DDX Developer, which requires a 1:4 dilution. Conveniently, this is the same dilution as the Ilford Rapid Fixer I use.

When mixing up chemistry I like to make 60 fl oz of diluted developer, fixer and stop bath. This is roughly 3x times the amount of each chemical I need to process two rolls in my Paterson tank. Because I don't develop too often, I just pour the dilute chemistry back into its respective container after I'm done. The chemistry eventually expires, but it takes many rolls to get there. I also find it extremely helpful to write down the date and dilution of each chemical on its container.

Once you have all your chemicals mixed up and in separate jugs, it's time to bust out the timer and get processing!

Developing, stopping, and fixing

Printed on the bottom of most film tanks is how much fluid is required, depending on the number and/or type of film you are processing. My tank requires about 22 fl oz for two 35mm rolls of film.

It's also important to figure how long you'll need to develop your film for. Many manufacturers include a list of developing agents and developing times on the inside of the film box. But if you tossed the box, worry not, the Massive Dev Chart is here to help. The temperature of the chemicals also affects developing time, so it's good thing you got that thermometer!

Below are the basic steps for processing your roll:

1. Pre-wash: This isn't completely necessary but there's no harm in washing your film before moving on to the chemistry.

2. Developing time: Measure out your developer into a beaker and use the thermometer to find its temperature. The colder the developer, the longer the processing time. For instance if I'm processing a roll of Ilford HP-5 Plus in the aforementioned developer/dilution, I'm looking at nine minutes of developing time if the chemistry is 20 C / 68 F and closer to seven minutes if its 24 C / 75 F. Obviously if it's warmer or colder than that range, you can estimate your development time accordingly.

3. Developing: Start your timer, pour in the developer, attach the tank's cap and shake gently for 30 seconds. After the first 30 seconds let the tank sit on the table, then shake for ten seconds at the start of each minute of developing. Tap the tank on the table after shaking each time to ensure there are no air bubbles.

4. Stop-bath: Pour out your developer, pour in your stop bath dilution and replace the cap to the tank. Shake the tank for about ten seconds and then let it rest on the table for an additional 30 seconds (don't forget to tap for air bubbles). Pour the stop bath out and pour in your fixer.

5. Fixer: Repeat the same shaking, tapping and resting process as you did with the developer for the fixer for 4-5 minutes. Then pour out the spent fixer and fill your tank with fresh water...

Washing, drying and storing negatives

6. Washing part 1: Once filled with fresh water, give the tank a good two minutes of shaking, then pour out the water. Repeat this process several times. Note: your film is fully-developed and light-safe at this point.

7. Washing part 2: Twist off the top of the tank and let water run into it for five to ten minutes.

8. Wetting agent: Dump out a little water, add a few drops of a wetting agent to the tank and screw the top back on (with cap attached). Shake for about five seconds and remove the screw top.

9. Removing the film and squeegeeing: Remove your reels from the center column of the tank and twist in the same way you did when loading them, but do so beyond the initial stopping point. This should allow you to pull either side apart. Grab one end of the film and run a wet squeegee over it once or twice.

10. Drying: Hang your film using clothespins or clips somewhere it won't be disturbed. Give the negatives about 12 hours to dry before cutting and inserting it into plastic film sleeves.

Cleaning up

It probably goes without saying, but photo chemicals are toxic and you should avoid dumping them down the drain at all costs. Likewise, it's important to keep your work space clean and tidy. I personally like to work on a piece of plywood on saw horses that I break down each time after I'm done processing. This avoids getting chemistry on my work desk or kitchen table.

Of the chemicals used for home developing, photo fixer presents the most environmental issues. Fortunately there are places happy to take it off your hands (for a small fee). Spent fixer contains valuable liquid silver which can be removed and recycled. Spent developer and stop bath can be taken to most household hazard waste processing locations. If you're unsure of the best way to dispose of chemicals, contact a local photo lab and ask for their recommendations.

Scanning/digitizing

Once your negatives are dried it's time to digitize them. There are numerous ways to scan film and varying opinions about which methods are best. I personally use an Epson V-series scanner that can do 12 frames of 35mm in one go. These scanners are reasonably-priced, fairly quick to scan and offer decent output - read our Epson V600 review.

Another fairly-easy scanning methods involves using a camera and macro lens, diffused light source and some sort of film holder like the Pixl-latr or Nikons's ES-2.

Conclusion: Tips for success

As is the case with anything DIY, there's going to be a large degree of trial and error involved in your process. I've tried my best to lay out all the basics that I've learned over the years, but it should got without saying that your mileage may vary.

That said, here's a few final tips to help you succeed, based on my own trial and error:

1. Write down each step of the developing process as it pertains to your chemistry and the kinds of film you shoot. You'll find yourself referencing this every time you go to develop.

2. Try your best to avoid getting finger prints on the film while loading and opt to load in a proper lightproof bag over a seemingly dark room.

3. Don't be skimpy with the fixing time. If the film spends a little too much time in the fixer it won't have any real negative impact, but too little will.

4. Give your film enough time to dry or it'll get stuck in the plastic film sleeves.

5. Accept dust as a natural part of the life of a film shooter.

6. Consider wearing gloves unless you like the smell of fixer on your fingers for days (I do).

That pretty much sums up our home developing guide! If there's something crucial you feel we've left out, or if you have any additional tips, feel free to mention them in the comments below. Happy developing!


Want more analog fun? Check out the DPReview Film Photography Forum.

Posted: March 31, 2020, 12:00 pm

Canon has announced it will be hosting a Virtual Press Conference at 1pm on April 20, 2020 ‘to unveil the company’s new professional imaging products and technologies.’

The press release, embedded below, doesn’t specifically say what products Canon has in store, but does say they will be ‘broadcast and cinema products’ that ‘[align] with the current and growing needs of the respective industries such as 4K UHD and HDR, as well as evolving technologies.’

In the meantime, you can spend your days in quarantine staring at the countdown timer on Canon’s website.

Canon U.S.A to Host Virtual Press Conference for New Professional Imaging Products and Technologies

MELVILLE, N.Y., March 30, 2020 –– Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions, announced today that they will be hosting a Virtual Press Conference to unveil the company’s new professional imaging products and technologies. The Virtual Press Conference, which will be streamed on the Canon U.S.A. website at usa.canon.com/VPC2020, is scheduled to air on Monday, April 20, 2020, at 1:00 PM EDT/10:00 AM PT.

“As Canon continues to monitor the global response surrounding the spread of COVID-19, the effects of which have impacted every aspect of our lives, we would like to thank everyone for their understanding and ongoing support during this challenging time,” said Kazuto Ogawa, president, and chief operating officer, Canon U.S.A., Inc “The road ahead is long and filled with uncertainty, but when the broadcast and cinema industries are ready to resume ‘normal’ activities, Canon wants them to know we will be there to continue to support professionals with new products and technologies that meet their needs.”

The new Canon broadcast and cinema products featured during the Virtual Press Conference are aligned with the current and growing needs of the respective industries such as 4K UHD and HDR, as well as evolving technologies.

For more information and the latest updates, please visit usa.canon.com/VPC2020 and follow us on Twitter at @CanonUSAprovideo and Instagram @canonusaprovideo.

Posted: March 30, 2020, 10:35 pm

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