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OverviewCanon 6D

Between expensive and very expensive DSLR fare, the Canon EOS 6D is perhaps one of the more affordable options on the market. Both casual photographers looking for a major upgrade and beginner professionals will benefit from the lower cost and good quality produced by this camera body.

As one of the many inexpensive full frame DSLRs, it does sacrifice a number of basic features found in its professional grade counterparts. What’s left is a pretty good near professional grade DSLR: wireless support for GPS and Wi-Fi, a full frame sensor, HD video and image capture under a high ISO range and continuous shooting at 4.5 frames per second. All of that is contained in a compact, easy to handle body that’s compatible with most lenses.

Underneath a compact chassis is a full frame camera suited for casual and beginner professionals. This camera is especially suited for those who need exceptional video and image quality and wireless connectivity in remote areas.

Key Features: Its full frame sensor, high ISO range and Wi-Fi/GPS connectivity. People looking for a ‘bargain’ full frame DSLR camera with good video and image quality will surely like this one.

Features At A Glance

  • Full frame CMOS sensor @ 20.2MP
  • Continuous shooting mode shoots 4.5 frames per second
  • Manually controlled 1080p HD video recording
  • 11-point AF array system, featuring a one cross-type AF point
  • 3-inch LCD with 1,040,000 dots
  • Saves to SD memory
  • ISO Range: Auto, 100 – 25600 in 1/3 stops, including 50, 51200, 102400 as option
  • Auto-Focus Technology

Pros

  • The Canon EOS 6D produces great video and photo quality when paired with a great lens, mainly thanks to features like its full-frame sensor.
  • The body is pretty lightweight, easy to hold and has an overall great design.
  • Wi-Fi and GPS support make using this camera on the go a pleasure. Its Wi-Fi friendly remote camera control utilizes smartphones and tablets.
  • The camera also outputs excellent quality RAW and JPEG files across the ISO spectrum.
  • The Quick Control menu makes accessing its shooting settings rather simple.

Cons

  • While good quality, video and images are prone to artifacts when it comes to fine detail. Video is considered more prone to artifacts.
  • The Canon EOS 6D doesn’t include a built-in flash.
  • Some of the ‘basics’ for cameras of this price aren’t included, such as multiple card slots, full coverage viewfinder and the aforementioned built-in flash.
  • Burst rate is much slower than its competitors.
  • Experts may not like the Canon EOS 6D’s 11-point AF array with just one cross-type AF point.
  • The Canon EOS 6D isn’t compatible with EF-S lenses.

Why Should You Buy Canon EOS 6D Digital Camera (Body Only)?

If you’re a user searching for a good quality full frame DSLR camera, the Canon EOS 6D Digital Camera (Body Only) might be your best bet. It’s perhaps the most affordable at its price range and provides just enough amenities for casual and beginner professional photographers, despite its shortcomings for serious enthusiasts.

Those who need better quality, however, probably won’t like the video and image output of the Canon EOS 6D.

 

nikkor-85mm-f1_8G Overview

Its inexpensive price and Nikon quality are two reasons why many experts recommend this compact telephoto lens. The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G Lens does everything you would expect a sub-$600 lens to do… and more.

As a part of Nikon’s f/1.8G prime lens series, this lens outperforms the competition at its price range. Its optimized f/1.8 aperture helps it excel at shooting still images and high definition video in various shooting scenarios, specifically those in low light.

You’re going to get a lot of use out of this lens, especially if you’re an avid photographer, beginner or burgeoning professional. Its auto-focus system makes shooting sessions less of a hassle—and there’s even a seamless manual auto-focus system if you need more precision.

Features At A Glance

  • Nikon F Mount Lens/FX Format lens
  • Aperture Range: f/1.8 to f/16
  • Measures 3.1 inches by 2.9 inches, weighs 12.35 ounces
  • Compatible with Nikon FX, Nikon DX + 35mm/Full-Frame Digital Sensor formats
  • Focal Length: 127.5mm
  • Silent Wave Motor AF System products fast and silent auto-focus
  • Super Integrated Lens Coating reduces glare and improves colors

Key Characteristics

The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G Lens is fast, inexpensive and probably the best compact FX-format telephoto lens available in its class. This lens’ fast f/1.8 aperture helps it excel at shooting still images and high definition video in low light.

Lens is produced with Nikon Super Integrated Coating, which helps significantly improve light transmission, color consistency and reduces flare.

Its 7-blade circular diaphragm helps the camera produce great-looking out of focus images when set at wider aperture settings.

This 85mm prime lens mount expands to about 127mm when mounted to a DX-format DSLR camera.

Key Features

Silent Wave Motor Auto-Focus technology with Internal Focus system produces fast and silent auto-focus, which doesn’t change lens length. The motor uses ultrasonic vibrations, instead of the usual gear system, to help focus the lens, producing smooth, accurate and silent auto-focus when in use.

Its internal optical processes, as a result, only utilize the non-extending lens barrel’s interior. This is why the lens is compact and lightweight in construction, better suited for close focusing distances.

Precise manual focusing is available through adjusting the lens’ focus ring. Its M/A mode switch easily overrides Auto-Focus system with no lag.

Pros 

Fast, inexpensive and compact FX-format telephoto lens with a fast f/1.8 aperture that excels at shooting HD video and stills video in low light.

Nikon Super Integrated Coating helps improve light transmission, color consistency and reduces flare.

Its 7-blade circular diaphragm helps the camera produce great-looking out of focus images when set at wider aperture settings.

Ultrasonic Silent Wave Motor Auto-Focus technology with Internal Focus system produces smooth, accurate and silent auto-focus when in use.

The lens is compact and lightweight in construction, better suited for close focusing distances. Precise manual focusing is available through adjusting the lens’ focus ring and easily overrides Auto-Focus system with no lag.

Cons

The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G Lens doesn’t have finely tuned image stabilization when compared to competitors. Auto-focusing issues may occur in certain shooting scenarios. up in images at certain settings.

The lens lacks enough range to shoot long distance subjects. It’s also limited in shooting scenarios where close focus is required.

Why Should You Buy Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G Lens?

If you want an inexpensive mid-range telephoto lens for shooting portraits and other scenarios, this lens is great for that. Its internal elements make for a finely tuned lens that probably won’t be coming off your camera anytime soon. It’s not the best lens for all scenarios, but it performs incredibly well in most.

Those who are just getting serious about photography will definitely be doing themselves a favor by making this lens their first choice.

Canon_5175B002_EF_24_70mm_f_2_8L_II_843008A good zoom lens can be a bit hard to find… but not if you’re looking for a Canon lens like this one. The Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Zoom Lens gets a bit tricky with distortion at certain shooting thresholds, but it ultimately produces great quality images with its rather fantastic zoom range.

The lens maintains a constant f/2.8 aperture when used through its zoom range. As for performance, the experts agree that it puts on a great optical performance and pairs well with full-frame Canon camera bodies.

Features At A Glance

  •  F Mount L-Series Lens
  • Aperture Range: constant f/2.8 maximum aperture
  • Measures 4.4 inches by 3.5 inches, weighs 1.8 pounds
  • Ultrasonic Focus Motor
  • Aspherical, Super UD and UD Elements
  • Compatible with 35mm and Full-Frame Digital Sensor formats
  • Focal Length: 24 mm to 70 mm
  • One Shot AF mode allows more accurate auto-focus
  • Reinforced against the elements, fingerprints and smearing

Key Characteristics

The lens has a build well suited for high quality image output and protects against several elements. Lens measures 4.4 inches by 3.5 inches, weighs 1.8 pounds and outputs high definition images. Front element requires 82mm filters.

Its constructed with reinforced water resistance and dust sealing. The fluorine lens coating on both rear and front lens prevents excessive fingerprint buildup and smearing.

Newer optical design enables the lens to output high quality images, utilizing a Super UD lens elements and two UD lens elements to help reduce chromatic aberration in the lens’ wide angle outer area. This setup also reduces color blurring around edges and helps the camera output better looking images at a high resolution and contrast.

Its 9-blade circular diaphragm helps the camera produce great-looking subtle backgrounds.

Compact and resilient design makes it a suitable lens for packing away and taking on a trip.

Key Features

Fast auto-focusing makes using this with a great camera body more precise – auto-focus utilizes optimized algorithms, ring USM and a high speed CPU.

One Shot AF mode allows more accurate auto-focus in all modes; also features a manual focus override.

Zoom lock level keeps zoom position locked for safer transport.

Aperture L-Series lens uses constant f/2.8 maximum aperture to effectively output images, especially those in low light and with a shallow depth of field.

Pros

  • The Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Zoom Lens provides sharp-looking images at all zoom ranges.
  • The lens has constant f/2.8 aperture throughout its entire zoom range.
  • The design of the lens is relatively compact and can be carried anywhere on the go.

 Cons

  •  The Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Zoom Lens isn’t as stabilized as competitors.
  • Sometimes, this lens produces distortion in images if you set the camera at certain settings. For example, shooting at 24mm produces a slight amount of distortion, as well as shooting at 50 and 70mm.
  • The lens uses a telescoping design, which isn’t preferred by some experts.

Why Should You Buy Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Zoom Lens?

If you’re looking for a relatively good walk-around lens and don’t mind the price, this lens may be what you’re looking to buy. A good and inexpensive alternative to this lens is its f/4 counterpart, the Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM.

 

OverviewZ-nikonD810-Front_noLens

The Nikon D810 DSLR looks intimidating when you look at the price. But underneath its hefty price tag is an incredible camera that’s well worth its weight.

Some experts might not consider this DSLR a ‘full upgrade’ when compared to other Nikon DSLRs or competitors. For others, however, this camera packs a serious punch and produces truly high quality images and video. Its impressive 36.3MP sensor and Expeed 4 processor alone help this camera capture various scenarios with impressive accuracy. Wrap those essential up with a full set of excellent features and you have a camera that’s worth its price tag.

Key Features: Impressive full frame CMOS 36.3MP image sensor and Fast Expeed 4 processor. 3.2 inch LCD with a 1,229K dot resolution. Outputs HD image and video quality.

Features At A Glance

  • Full frame CMOS sensor @ 36.3MP + Fast Expeed 4 processor
  • Continuous shooting mode shoots 7 frames per second maximum
  • 1080p HD @ 60 frames per second maximum video recording
  • Expeed 4 Image Processor boosts camera performance up to 30 percent
  • 2 inch LCD with a 1,229K dot resolution with Live View and playback viewing
  • Multi-CAM 3500FX auto-focus sensor with 51 AF points and 15 cross-type sensors
  • ISO Range: Auto, 64 – 12800, expands to 51200
  • Supports CompactFlash + SD/SDHC/SDXC memory
  • Wi-Fi connectivity only with optional transmitter

Pros

The Nikon D810 DSLR features a high resolution full frame CMOS FX-format image sensor at an impressive 36.3 megapixels. As a result, it produces excellent quality images and video. The lack of Optical Low Pass Filter produces sharp and detailed images.

Expeed 4 Image Processor boosts camera performance up to 30 percent, helping reduce artifacts and noise in both images and video. As a result, the camera captures up to 1,200 images and as much as 40 minutes of HD video.

FX and DX formats afford the camera more recording versatility.

The camera shoots at a maximum of 7 frames per second in DX mode. Video records in 1080p HD at 60 frames per second maximum.

The Nikon D810 DSLR’s Multi-CAM 3500FX auto-focus sensor features 51 AF points with 15 cross-type sensors. Group Area AF has 5 AF sensors that can be utilized in one group.

Low light performance has been improved with the camera’s wide range ISO sensitivity. ISO sensitivity maxes out at 12,800 and can be expanded up to 51,200.

The Nikon D810 DSLR has a 3.2 inch LCD with a 1,229K dot resolution and features Live View and playback viewing. Live View features split-screen display zoom for still images. Zebra highlighting display is available in video mode.

Cons

The Nikon D810 DSLR is considered rather expensive for a DSLR of its class.

Its Small Raw mode is only limited to 9MP.

The Nikon D810 DSLR doesn’t feature GPS or Wi-Fi connectivity. Wi-Fi connectivity is only available with optional transmitter.

The camera lacks 4K resolution video capture. Time lapse feature is only limited to eight hours.

The Nikon D810 DSLR outputs ‘huge’ file sizes.

Some experts don’t consider the Nikon D810 DSLR as a ‘large enough upgrade’ compared to other Nikon and competitor DSLR cameras.

Why Should You Buy Nikon D810 DSLR Camera (Body Only)?

Serious beginners, hobbyists and professionals will benefit from owning a Nikon D810 DSLR body. The concessions Nikon took to produce this camera paid off well for those who greatly favor this camera. Its high quality image sensor, processor and features all work together to produce the best quality images and video for the price.

Sure, it’s not the most ‘upgraded’ Nikon or DSLR on the market, but for those who want a great camera body the first time around, this one’s a good choice.

Overview

When measured against other Canon lenses, the Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM Lens looks to be one of the more inexpensive ones. But an inexpensive lens doesn’t mean that its manufacturer took some shortcuts to make the product.

This lens shines when it comes to reducing chromatic abnormalities in images, thanks to its refined components. Its constant f/4 maximum aperture significantly contributes to helping bolster its performance across its entire zoom range—along with its much needed Ultra-Low Dispersion elements and large diameter aspherical element. Rounding out those essentials are its Optical Image Stabilizer, which prevents motion blur and helps capture the best looking wide angled images.

canon_9518b002_ef_16_35mm_f_4l_is_1051475

Features At A Glance

  • EF Mount L-Series Lens
  • Aperture Range: f/4 maximum aperture
  • Measures 3.25 inches by 4.44 inches, weighs 1.35 pounds
  • Optical Image Stabilization
  • Two UD + Three Aspherical Elements
  • Compatible with 35mm and Full-Frame Digital Sensor formats
  • Focal Length: 16 mm to 35 mm
  • Refined Auto-Focus allows more accurate auto-focus

Key Characteristics

The Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM Lens is a wide angle zoom lens with a constant f/4 aperture, which provides a consistent performance within its zoom range.

Lens’ optical design includes three aspherical elements: two Ultra-Low Dispersion elements and one large diameter aspherical element. The components help reduce chromatic abnormalities in images and also produce high resolution and sharpness across all edges in images.

Fluorine lens coating on front and rear lenses reduces ghosting and flare, maintaining neutrality in image colors and boosting image contrast.

Its 9-blade circular diaphragm helps the camera produce great-looking out of focus images.

Key Features

Ring-type Ultrasonic AF Motor maintains lens length during use. The lens full-time manual focus override also works to finely tune image precision up to 11 inches within the lens’ zoom range in all modes.

The Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM Lens also utilizes an optional 77m Canon Protect filter, keeping it resistant against water and dust.

Wide range zoom lens is best used with full-frame and APS-C sensors.

Pros

Constant f/4 aperture provides a consistent performance within its zoom range.

Its three aspherical elements – two Ultra-Low Dispersion elements and one large diameter aspherical element – reduce chromatic abnormalities and also improve image resolution, stabilization and sharpness.

Fluorine lens coating on front and rear lenses reduces ghosting and flare, while maintaining color neutrality and boosting image contrast.

The Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM Lens, when paired with the optional 77m Canon Protect filter, is resistant against water and dust.

The lens’ full-time manual focus override finely tunes image precision up to 11 inches within the lens’ zoom range in all modes.

Cons

The Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM Lens is considered heavier than competitors.

Sometimes, this lens doesn’t output enough sharpness in images. For example, images shot by this lens aren’t as sharp in the corners as some experts would like.

The lens is dust and water resistant with an optional Canon Protect filter when competitors are already built with such features.

Its f/4 aperture may not be enough for most image shooting scenarios, as f/2.8 is preferred.

Why Should You Buy Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM Lens?

The Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM Lens is a good lens if you need a wide angle lens that shoots in most types of lighting without breaking the bank. This camera lens is great for shooting landscapes and various types of scenery, thanks to its wide angle construction.

Photographers who shoot in low light conditions, such as during nighttime hours. Others use a lens of this class to shoot events like weddings and even video. For its price, you really can’t go wrong with this lens, even if you may have to sacrifice the sharpness of other Canon zoom lenses in its class.

Product Review: Nikon D750 DSLR Camera Nikon750

Overview

Full-frame photography is now well within the reach of consumers—and the Nikon D750 DSLR camera is probably the first recommendation most people will get if they’re serious about the craft.

As a Nikon DSLR, you can expect quality right out of the box. Unlike its counterparts, this camera boasts better functionality in its internal systems, which reflects how well it outputs both photos and video. It shoots both video and images exceptionally fast and smooth without compromising image quality. Its Wi-Fi connectivity also makes it pretty accessible from most places, even if it can’t be entirely controlled with a smartphone.

Key Features: A 24.3MP CMOS sensor, plus a fast Expeed 4 processing engine. Continuously shoots at 6.5 frames per second. Outputs 1080p HD @ 60 frames per second maximum videorecording.

Features At A Glance

  • Full frame CMOS sensor @ 24.3MP + Fast Expeed 4 processor
  • Continuous shooting mode shoots 6.5 frames per second
  • 1080p HD @ 60 frames per second maximum video recording
  • Pro Video feature set – Power Aperture and Auto ISO produce smooth video transitions
  • ISO Range: Auto, 100 – 12800, expands to 50 – 51200
  • Auto-Focus Technology
  • Built-in flash
  • Dual card slots for SD/SDHC/SDXC memory
  • Wi-Fi connectivity with WT-5a + UT-1 Communication Unit

What People Like

The Nikon D750 DSLR is Wi-Fi Friendly – it features built-in Wi-Fi connectivity with a WT-5a + UT-1 Communication Unit.

The camera shoots relatively fast, outputting up to 6.5 frames per second.

The camera is built with a compact, lightweight uni-body that’s easy to hold. The LCD screen is also relatively ergonomic, featuring a tilted Vari-angle display.

Its Pro Video features allow users to shoot near professional quality video. Video can be recorded in both compressed or uncompressed file formats. Manual controls for ISO range, shutter speed and aperture makes video recording much more versatile than competitors.

Power Aperture and Auto ISO make for smoother exposure transitions for content shot by the Nikon D750 DSLR.

The Nikon D750 DSLR has a high megapixel sensor: a 24.3MP full frame sensor. As a result, the camera outputs great image and video quality. Video outputs in 1080p HD at 60 frames per second max.

What People Don’t Like

Tilting Vari-angle display doesn’t actually work as intended, according to users, and works more like screen tilting than a truly ergonomic moving screen.

The Nikon D750 DSLR’s maximum continuous shooting rate outputs only 6.5 frames per second.

The camera’s SLR viewfinder doesn’t show images as it would be captured. It also tends to ‘slightly overexpose’ images or video.

The Nikon D750 DSLR’s raw continuous shooting doesn’t last as long as expected.

Its Live View features aren’t as refined as competitors.

Smartphone controls are relatively limited, despite Wi-Fi connectivity.

Why Should You Buy Nikon D750 DSLR Camera (Body Only)?

If you’re serious about upgrading your photography game, the Nikon D750 DSLR is an excellent body to buy first.

Beginner professionals start with camera like these when they’re considering getting into the photography biz—so, if you’re in the same boat, this camera is a great choice. It’s also excellent for hobbyists who want their pictures and video to come ‘out right the first time.’

Canon 5d Mark IIIIf you hang out with photographers for any amount of time, you will find many have a love affair with their Canon 5D Mark III. Like a crown jewel straight from the royal house, the Canon 5D is a full frame SLR still shot camera able to shoot HDR video.

The Canon 5D Mark III is the latest in the Canon 5D line up and successor to the 5D Mark II.   The 5D Mark III has been seriously upgraded from its predecessor with dual slots for CF and SD cards, locking exposure mode dial and the ability to program a huge number of settings and functions. Other changes are the ISO 50-102,800 expansion, 6 fps (frames per second) for continuous shooting and a 61 point Auto Focus system.

Canon listened to the customers and made changes to the menu system on the Mark III. Not unlike the Mark II or other cameras in the Canon line, the Mark III menu added a tab to help manage the AF system with a variety of pre-sets. The biggest change to the menu is it is more orderly based on that consumer feedback. Items that were often used before like mirror lockup and took digging to get to have floated up to the surface making access to that function easier and natural to find.

The DIGIC 5+ processor is said to be 17 times stronger in the Mark III vs. that of the Mark II. This has made for vast improvements in shutter and viewfinder lag as well as a reduction in operating noise or shutter noise. In addition the 61 point auto system is an extremely welcomed addition.   Having a stronger processor has opened a new world of flexibility for taking pictures with more points of focus allowing for greater variety in post processing.   The reviews of the new auto focus system are great across the board for portrait and landscape photographers alike.

The dual card system allows for raw images to be stored on one card and jpeg on another, freeing up valuable space for more photos. The battery is the same as the Mark II but doesn’t have the same duration, due to the DIGIC5+ processor. Despite this the Canon 5D Mark III is easily capable of 600-700 photos per battery.

The Canon 5D Mark III is the newest in the Canon 5D line but in reality includes many features of the 7D and 1D X lines. Canon pulled out all the stops and made an excellent professional camera with improvements in menu, auto focus, processor and card storage by listening to customer feedback, making the Mark III a diamond in the crown of Canon products.

CES 2015: Devices vs Apps

by Todd Zander

LG TV

LG’s 77inch 4k OLED Curved TV

Having just returned from my eighth trek to Las Vegas for CES, I have never been more optimistic about the state of technology innovation and the slew of mind blowing products on display from both tiny and gigantic companies.  It’s true that most CES innovations never gain traction in the marketplace and some products — like today’s robots or 3D TVs of years past — are just plain silly.  But, this year there was an explosion of possibilities competing to define our connected world over the next five years.

Here are some key emerging trends I gathered from

this week…

lg g flex 2

LG’s 5.5 inch, G Flex 2 curved smartphone

Mobile and Tablet Maturity

At CES in 2008 the trend was clearly around mobile and the size and design of smartphones.  2011 was the year of the tablet being manufactured in many different sizes, shapes and colors.  Apple defined the landscape in 2007 and 2010 and then a slew of companies followed suit with their own versions.  Fast forward to 2015 when tablets and smartphones are grouped in the same category as PCs and TVs.  After a few years of breakthrough hardware and software innovation, tablets and smartphones now only tout feature enhancements.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to see the screen quality improvements of 4k TVs, frameless TV designs and curved TV and smartphone screens.  However, smartphones and tablets are now mature product categories that will generally just get faster with better battery life in the coming years.

lg g watch r

LG’s G Watch R

Smartphones + Apps = New Peripheral

Devices

Smartphones are now ubiquitous and the mobile app model has become a catalyst for an exciting ecosystem to support all kinds of new devices.  Apps can allow for new devices to be controlled from anywhere by leveraging the smartphone’s Bluetooth, WiFi or cellular connection.  There were dozens of smart watches, fitness trackers, drones and robots on display this year — all connected to their respective apps.  Whether it’s viewing device data from an app or using the app to control devices, the interaction between app and device was the most intriguing product exploration I saw this year.

The smartwatch was clearly the product with the most intriguing possibilities for mass consumer adoption. Some devices, like the

Samsung Gear smartwatch, display a large digital screen for users to view heart rate trends or search for restaurants on a Yelp smartwatch app by typing on a tiny keyboard.  On the other end of the ‘app-device interaction spectrum’, the Withings Activate Pop smartwatch ditches the digital display and looks like a normal, stylish watch.  The watch displays the time and the progress towards step goals and the app tracks things like sleep and calories burned.

My nomination for ‘best in show’ device was the LG G Watch R (in dire need of a new name).  Although already in market, the slick style and normal sized round watch face has a P-OLED display that surprising looks and feels like an ‘old school’ watch.  It’s water resistant, tracks fitness goals and heart rate, and displays the weather and navigation from the watch face (via Bluetooth from the smartphone).  Unfortunately the watch only syncs with an Android smartphone and it’s a pricy $300.  But, I appreciate the balance between an ergonomic, familiar watch design and a usable, elegant digital display.

misfit-swarovski

Misfit-Swarovski wearable jewelry

Wearable Fashion

Everyone walking the show floor agreed that ‘traditional’

wearable bands have become a saturated market in 2015.  There were scores of companies showcasing wearable wrist bands

with little differentiation.  In the US, I bet FitBit and Jawbone will continue to win the battle or the bands as long as they stay competitive with price and features because consumers tend to gravitate towards familiar brands.  But the most exciting non-watch wearable trend was the shift towards combining wearables with fashion.

MisFit intrigued wearable enthusiasts with their Swarovski partnership to develop wearable-crystal bracelets, rings and bands that combine fitness tracking with jewelry and beauty.  People like my wife may finally begin dipping their wrists into the wearable revolution, but I wonder how users will shift from fashion use to everyday use?  The jewelry is appealing  but not something a user will wear on a lazy Sunday morning.

Wearable jewelry can also look less appealing…like the Zazzi jewelry from FashionTEQ.  But since beauty and fashion lie in the eye of the beholder, the fashion approach to wearables has a chance to greatly expand the market.

android auto

Google’s Android Auto

Google Continues to Embed

I used to write about Google vs. Apple and the fight to win the mobile platform war.  Although the battle is still fierce with the mature products, Google continues to peck away at establishing software platform solutions for all sorts of devices and vertical markets.  I saw a lot of Android TV branding adopted in TV sets displayed at Sony, Sharp and Philips booths.  I saw support for Google Cast for audio, a solution similar to Chrome Cast and Apple’s AirPlay that allows audio to be played from smartphones and PCs to supported speakers.  Android Auto is designed to become the next dashboard of your car with 40 automakers signed up.  And Android Wear is seeing more adoption as the preferred OS for smartwatch makers.  Google is winning the platform battle to embed software into more Internet of Things than any other company which seems great strategically, but how will they effectively monetize?

samsung

Samsung is Losing Ground

Samsung usually steals the show with a glitzy and overwhelming display of exciting products but this year LG beat out Samsung with products more in line with that state of the industry — like their new smartwatch that can unlock an Audi car door.  Samsung continues to force their proprietary Tizen operating system into all Samsung TVs and smartwatches.  Samsung’s CEO wants “Tizen to be on everything.”  Samsung might be better off if they stop thinking like Apple and embrace the ‘open’ Android or Open WebOS world.  It’s hard enough for developers to support iOS and Android with all the devices and screen sizes.  Just like Microsoft and Blackberry, going forward I don’t see lots of developers investing in Tizen.

oculus

I Just Don’t Get Oculus

I was eager to stop by the Oculus booth and see what a $2B company (acquired by Facebook) planned to present to the world.  Would they demonstrate virtual tourism or show how Oculus is used in the classroom?  Not quite.  I was surprised to see a guy dressed up in riot gear shooting a play machine gun in the air and sprinting left to right in a 360 degree circular treadmill.  Should I be excited about virtual reality so I can pretend to be a RoboCop in the Matrix?  Facebook obviously knows more than me about the ways VR can change the world and I’m sure millions of gamers love this kind of thing.  But, are we going to experience events or interact with each other in new ways because of VR?  Sometimes there are products looking for solutions and right now I’m not sure what problem Oculus is trying to solve.

briggs and spriggs

The 7 inch Briggs and Spriggs ‘Boss Phone’

Larger Smartphone Screens are Winning

I enjoy looking back on trends that I thought were impossible.  I remember a few years ago when Samsung debuted the Galaxy Note.  I thought it was a joke: who is going to use a smartphone that big — and with a stylus?  This year at the Samsung booth I saw a nice looking device that was similar in size to the iPhone 6+. It turned out to be the latest version of the Note!  I spoke to many women who raved about the 6+.  It’s ironic because I had thought women, who typically have smaller hands than men, would prefer a smaller screen.  Maybe women like the larger screen because they keep their phones in pocketbooks instead of their front pockets?  I don’t know how much bigger the smartphone screen can get, but it seems the larger screen sizes will continue to gain traction.

And another year is in the books

CES is an exhausting few days and sometimes there’s not enough energy to keep going.  Thanks for reading!

tired

If you have a DSLR camera that you bought within the last three years or so, chances are you can shoot high definition video with it.

And that’s pretty great… you can get into video for the price of a still camera. Or can you?

It’s never so simple.

While the camera might be the same, almost everything else is different.

From the tripod to the lighting, video calls for equipment that is totally different than for photography.

For instance, I thought I could get away with an old Manfrotto tripod I wasn’t using anymore because it was heavy and just put on a cheap fluid head I bought from eBay. No, I could not do that. Yes, it would marginally work but for smooth pans, the legs of the tripod – without spreaders common to video tripods – were unstable and so my shots were unstable as well. In addition, that setup was hard to level. With a video head, you can level it in a flash.

I bought a dedicated video tripod and immediately noticed the difference. I relegated the makeshift tripod for locked-down shots on a second camera until I eventually bought a second video tripod.

If you have strobe lights or flashes for your photography, you’ll know at once you can’t use those for video. You need a continuous light source. There are many options – from cheap Chinese LED lights to HMI, tungsten and fluorescent lights.  There is a world of lighting to choose from.

For me, I chose two Chimera triolet lights with softboxes, which are tungsten but can accept fluorescent bulbs, a Chimera birdcage lantern, and later, a Lowel Omni and Pro-light, both with accessories. I also have a couple of LED lights that have worked well when I don’t need a blast of light.

One thing to remember: LED lights stay relatively cool while tungsten gets very hot. You can’t use your old softboxes and umbrellas with them unless they are heat resistant. The good news? You can use your old lightstands.

One thing photographers never have to deal with is sound. Your DSLR has a little microphone built in. Don’t ever use it. The old saying goes, audio is 60 percent of video and that’s pretty true. Your viewers might be able to forgive shaky footage (hey, it’s a style, right?) but lousy audio? Uh-uh.

Beachtek and Juiced Link both have pre-amps that you can attach a microphone. Those rigs then can feed directly into the camera’s microphone input. That will give you pristine sound directly into your memory card and you don’t have to sync sound in post.

That only works for me a little bit because I use two cameras in most of my shoots. My two cameras, the Canon 5D Mark II, have a 12-minute recording limit. If I hook up, say, my Juiced Link Riggy on one camera, what happens when I have to restart the camera because of the time limit? I’ll likely lose a bit of audio. It’s okay if I’m using one camera – all’s good. But two, and it makes me uneasy.

My solution, previously, was to record separate audio on a Zoom H4N. Now, I use a Tascam DR60 but it is virtually the same premise. These two recording devices have XLR inputs and have phantom power. What’s phantom power? It’s where the microphone doesn’t have its own source of power and needs to rely on the recording device. A simple switch on those units allows you to use microphones that  need power.

I started out using Rode Video Mics on my cameras but I soon learned the audio wasn’t the quality I wanted. Now I use those on my cameras but only to record scratch tracks so I have pretty good audio to synch my sound in post production.

Does synching audio in post  sound intimidating? Don’t worry, it’s easy. You can do it by ear, which I did at the beginning, but better yet is a program called PluralEyes 3 that will knock your socks off with how fast it syncs sound to your pictures. It’s worth every penny.

And finally, microphones? I use two kinds and I use two kinds on almost every shoot I produce. One, a shotgun mic and two, a lavalier. A shotgun is a directional mic that you’ll most likely see on a boom pole or C-stand. A lavalier is a little lapel mic that attaches to your talent. For my money, I like the sound of the shotgun. But you never know which mic will be better for your purposes. I always record two sources of audio because of all the things that can go wrong, you can’t fake sound.

So in a nutshell, if I am picking essential items to start in video, I would pick a dedicated video tripod and fluid head (monopods are nice, too, but make sure it is also a video monopod); continuous lighting that works best for your situations; and an audio kit that allows you to get clear, beautiful sound.

There are so many other add-on items – monitors, Steadicams, sliders, etc., that can add convenience and production values to your videos – but you need these essentials and you’ll be well on your way to making a quality video.

 

By Diana Lundin

Diana Lundin Photography
Curious Cat Productions

By David Mao:

Although I wouldn’t go so far as to call myself a professional photographer, I have certainly come a long way since I purchased my first DSLR. I have gone from once only marveling at the wonder that was manual focusing, to now having shot engagement parties, graduation portraits, composite headshots, and many other formal events.

Along my journey, I have undergone the seemingly never-ending cycle of equipment upgrades, as have the millions of photographers before me. There are a variety of reasons why one may wish to upgrade his or her photography equipment: sharper images, better contrast and saturation, creamier bokeh, faster aperture, different focal length, etc. But if you haven’t realized already, photography isn’t cheap—good glass will burn massive holes in your wallet. Luckily for me, I have received a lot of help from more established photographers about how to save money throughout the process. Today, I’m writing this post to pass on the knowledge to those of you who are where I was when I first started, and are thinking about taking the steps toward bringing your photography to the next level.

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Good Glass is Forever

Okay, not really. But for most people, I would recommend investing in quality lenses before upgrading the camera body. There are many reasons for this. For the same amount of money, better glass will result in a significantly larger improvement than will a better camera body.

Lenses also hold their value better than do camera bodies. Camera bodies, especially entry-level DSLRs, are often replaced. Canon releases a new iteration of their Rebel series DSLRs ever year, and replaces their higher end DSLRs, such as the 5D series, once every 4-5 years. Compare that with their lenses—the current Canon 35 L lens was released in 1998 and the Canon 135 L lens was released in 1996. Both have not undergone a single change in over 15 years. With that, it makes sense to invest in a lens that most likely will not be outdated in a couple years rather than a camera body. The resale value of a lens (more on that later) holds better for that reason. Once you have a solid arsenal of lenses, you can upgrade your camera body. But watch out! Many people upgrade their crop-sensor camera bodies to full-frame bodies. Some lenses, such as the EF-S lineup for Canon and the DX lineup for Nikon, only work on crop-sensor camera bodies, so keep that in mind if you ever plan to upgrade to a full-frame camera body.

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Find Your Focal Lengths

Before purchasing lenses willy-nilly, I recommend you take some time to think about what you want to shoot and find the corresponding focal lengths. Are you mainly planning on doing portraits? If so, you should start off with a 50mm or higher prime lens. Both Canon and Nikon’s 50mm f/1.8 is a great starting prime lens for portraits, especially on a crop sensor camera body. Are you planning on taking photos of your children’s sports games? If so, you might want to invest in a telephoto zoom lens. Landscape? Probably a wide-angle lens. Play around with the focal lengths of your current lenses. If you have a kit lens, set it to 18mm and see if you like it. Do you want it wider? Or do you want a longer focal length than your kit lens can provide? I would recommend you go to a store and try out a lens to see if the focal length works for you before investing hundreds of dollars in a purchase.

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Prime Lenses versus Zoom Lenses

This boils down to two factors: what you want to do with photography and how much money you’re willing to spend. Unless you primarily do events in which moving around is difficult, I would recommend you start off investing in prime lenses. For the same amount of money, prime lenses offer exceptional quality when compared to zoom lenses. To illustrate why, say Canon has $500 to spend manufacturing a lens. Zoom lenses are much more complicated—they need a ton of moving parts and tubes for their zoom capabilities. Because of that, Canon would have to spend a good chunk of the money into making sure those parts work. Compare that to a prime lens—because they don’t zoom, these lenses are much more simple. Therefore, Canon would have more money to spend on the glass itself. There is general consensus that for pure image quality, you cannot match a zoom lens to a prime lens counterpart. So unless you’re willing to spend 2-3 times the amount for a high-end zoom lens, a prime lens will deliver much better quality photos. I personally shoot with all prime lenses—my primary go-to lenses being the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art and the Canon 85mm f/1.8.

 

Buying and Selling

I recommend two paths to take in order to save money when it comes time to purchase your equipment. The first is to use Greentoe.com. I have saved hundreds and hundreds of dollars by using this site. For example, several months ago, I purchased a brand new Canon 6D for $400 off the retail price!! Also, their staff and customer service is truly top notch. I have started threads recommending the company on photography forums, and have seen only positive feedback from the community. The second, if you would rather save more money, is to buy used gear. Now this is definitely more risky than buying new equipment from Greentoe, but you can save even more money. There are several great sites to buy and sell equipment that I strongly recommend over typical buy/sell sites like Craigslist and eBay. Photography-on-the.net and Fred Miranda both have great marketplaces for used equipment, as well as excellent forums for photographers of all levels. Their communities are full of knowledgeable and established photographers. I purchased my Canon 6D, tripod, and high end lens filters from Greentoe and several of my lenses, used, from photography-on-the.net.

Those are the basic tips that I have! Hopefully you’ve found them to be helpful. If you have any further questions, feel free to reach out to me on my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/davidmaophotography or at davidmaophotography@gmail.com.

 

Happy shooting!