Staff Blog

Category 'Reviews'

img:Kenko 400 Mirror Lens Review by Vladimir Zatsarin
Oct 26, 2017

Kenko 400 Mirror Lens Review by Vladimir Zatsarin

“Mirror lens” is a special class of camera lenses with a construction similar to astronomical telescopes, which in their turn are a stand out in simplicity and reliability.They have small dimensions combined with long focal length, light weight, a simple construction and are not expensive. That’s why lenses of this class are still quite popular.The present-day lens of this class we will talk about is Kenko MIL TOL Reflex Lens 400mm F8. Contents  Brief lookSpecificationsWeighing Appearance and first impressionsPhotographing Summary Brief look Specifications Focal length 400mm Aperture F/8.0 Angle of view 6°8’ Autofocus No Stabilization No Minimum focusing distance 1.15m Lens construction 6 elements in 2 groups Filter size 67,77mm Dimensions 74x82mm Weight 340g Weighing w/o lens hood and caps with lens hood and caps Without lens hood, caps and lens adapter this lens weighs 350g, but combined with its lens hood and caps the weight increases 1.5 times. This is due to the metal lens hood (more detailed below in this article). Appearance and first impressions Mirror lens construction The optical system of Kenko MIL TOL 400mm F8 Reflex Lens consist of two mirrors, that result in more compact dimensions compared to classic optical lenses: this 400mm tele photo lens weighs less than 400g, while any equivalent lens with the same focal length made with traditional lens schemes will weigh several kilograms and have an impressive size that will require a special case or backpack to carry it. The small number of lenses and mirrors in the construction allows getting rid of chromatic aberrations, which is a common issue for usual tele photo lenses. In order to suppress distortions, designers included in the construction an expensive ED (Extra-low Distortion) lens, but it significantly affects the price of the lens. This lens is compact and lightweight, its body is in metal and almost covered with a wide rubber focus ring. Available in three colors: black, silver (the one tested) and white. An important feature of Kenko MIL TOL 400mm F8 Reflex Lens is its compatibility with most of the digital DSLR and mirrorless cameras: this lens has a threaded T-mount and, with an appropriate adapters can be used with a variety of mount systems - Canon EOS, Nikon F, Pentax K, Sony Alpha, Sony NEX, Micro 4/3 etc. This review is made using Micro 4/3 camera with crop factor 2, therefore the angle of view becomes equivalent to 800mm lens...

img:Macro Photography with Extension Tubes - Impressions and Expressions by Kunimasa Hiroshi
Oct 26, 2017

Macro Photography with Extension Tubes - Impressions and Expressions by Kunimasa Hiroshi

Are you enjoying macro shooting?From summer to winter, every season offers its various flowers blooming to be enjoyed and, of course, captured in your shots!  Macro photography’s first real charm is to be able to shoot as closer and bigger as we could possibly think.In this way, the usual scenery beyond us becomes a completely different new world…amazing, isn’t it! And when you get absorbed into such a world while shooting, you get eager to shoot even more and more big. So you move one step closer, then another step closer, closer and closer until you reach your target object and…you figure out you cannot properly focus! An unpleasant surprise everybody experienced, am I wrong? Although macro lens allows shooting closer and bigger compared to regular lenses, there are some limitations. But I think the desire to shoot closer still persists. Particularly, isn’t a common desire to shoot at small objects, like small flowers etc., to see them bigger? In such situations, as there are limits on how much you can get closer, you may think there is no other way but to give up, right?No, don’t worry: there are still different ways that will allow you to shoot closer and bigger. One of this, if you are using a full frame camera, is to replace it with an APS-C camera.For Nikon, APS-C cameras have a 1.5x crop factor that allows capturing distant objects, making them appear bigger. As the minimum focusing distance does not change, even if you shoot from the same distance, the subject will be enlarged accordingly (in practice, it is as if it was cropped) and shot bigger. Another way is the one I will talk about in this review.That is, shooting with Extension Tubes.An extension tube is a device that, once installed between the camera body and lens, allows shooting further closer at the subject than the lens minimum focusing distance. In few words, it is a device with the magical power of letting you shoot further closer and bigger at the subject you want to shoot.  Kenko Tokina has released an Extension Tube Set in 3 rings of 12mm, 20mm and 36mm respectively. Whether you use one ring at a time, or combine more rings together, this set allows you to shoot in 7 different ways. Being so, it seems you can finally get your chance to shoot as bigger and closer as you want! ...

img:A Beginner Guide to Long Exposure Photography by Andrew Leggett
Sep 19, 2017

A Beginner Guide to Long Exposure Photography by Andrew Leggett

A Beginners Guide to Long Exposure Photography  So, you’ve seen pictures of the silky smooth waters and the dreamy skies and you’ve made the decision to try and achieve this style for yourself. It’s time to plan! Before you decide to fly out the front door, some prior preparation is going to be required. What is it that you’re going to shoot? Cityscapes? Seascape? Waterfalls? Have you looked on Streetview for good vantage points or spoken to other photographers in the area? It pays to have a good understanding of the area, as sometimes chasing a shot can be time sensitive! There are phone Apps that can assist in planning for a shoot. PhotoPills would be the most popular App out there, but I have been supporting an Android app called PlanIt! for some time now. PlanIt! currently helps photographers plan for Milky Way Photography, Sunset & Sunrise, Meteor showers and much more! The next major thing is equipment! You will need to have a camera with a manual mode so you can manually control Shutter speed, aperture, ISO and focus. Another crucial piece of equipment are your legs, a nice and sturdy tripod is required to keep your camera locked in the same position over the duration of the shoot. The only items we require now are a remote trigger, and the star of the show, a neutral density filter. In this demonstration I will be shooting a sunset cityscape with the Kenko RealPro ND1000 filter. The ND1000 will provide me with a reduction of 10 stops. This reduction is how I will achieve the soft water and silky skies. Composition Once I arrive at the planned destination, I set the camera up and fire off my first shot in Aperture Priority Mode. I’m not too worried about settings at this stage. I am only interested in how the image is looking on the back of the camera. I’ll move around and take multiple shots from different angles. What I am looking for when I compose my shot is something in the foreground, silky smooth water, some city lights and a silky dreamy sky. As you can see below, my ‘something’ in the foreground is the yellow ladder. Camera Settings and Base Image I’m now happy with how the shot is looking, it’s time to dial in some settings. I’m shooting at about 25mm on my kit Nikon Lens. I...

img:My Experience with Kenko REAL PRO Clip lenses - by Mike Gorliak
Sep 13, 2017

My Experience with Kenko REAL PRO Clip lenses - by Mike Gorliak

My experience with Kenko REAL PRO Clip Lenses We usually do not use our smartphones to their full extent, as we end up using just the simple camera functions everyone knows. But if you try searching on the Internet, you’ll figure out that nowadays the most popular way of taking photos is shooting with smartphones. It is quite understandable - after all, smartphone cameras have become quite good in recent years. Also, the correct operation of a semiprofessional camera can be much more complicated for beginners than a quick shot with a smartphone camera. As a professional photographer, at the beginning I found rather difficult to face the limitations of a smartphone camera but, after all, I know how to use my camera to get certain pictures. Then I was amazed by Kenko REAL PRO clip lenses, and the more I use these lenses the most I like them. Shot with Kenko REAL PRO CLIP LENS Fish-Eye 180° Smartphones are equipped with a built-in camera and lens, and usually these lenses are supposed to have at least adequate specifications to let you take, under good shooting and lighting conditions, pictures of several genres, especially like flat-lay photos taken right up from a 90°position, or snaps and landscape pictures. In portraits you have to break your head, especially if the photos are to be more than a selfy. As it eventually turns out, smartphone cameras will not be able to replace mirror-reflex or mirrorless cameras for the time being. But at the very least, there are really good alternatives for making smartphone pictures more interesting an also from completely different perspectives like in macro photography, as you can see here: Shot with Kenko REAL PRO Macro 0.65x I have been a professional photographer for ten years and I know how beautiful the photography with a professional camera is – but even with only half of the equipment can be damn hard! If you are going to spend "only" one or two hours on a shooting session, you can still handle it. But then imagine the case you are going somewhere out on a journey with your family, and you want to bring of course your camera equipment with you, but there are also a lot of other necessities to fill up your backpack with, and you will inevitably get annoyed because there won’t be enough space for everything! Shot with...

img:Close-up filters and Extension Tubes for Macro Photography
Jun 29, 2017

Close-up filters and Extension Tubes for Macro Photography

Macro photography is a very interesting shooting technique which photographers of many genres will eventually face. Whether you are shooting still life, flowers, bugs, wedding details, or even portraits you will eventually need to get a little closer for extra magnification. This article we will help you understand the theory and practice of macro photography using close-up filters and Extension Tubes as an alternative to expensive macro specific lenses. Contents 1. Introduction to macro photography theory- Macro lenses- Close-up filters- Extension Tubes 2. Practical Field tests- Equipment and shooting techniques- Testing- Wide angle lens- Telephoto lens 3. Summary Gallery 1. Introduction to macro photography theory The essence of macro photography comes down to the capabilities of the optical system. The most important feature here is the ability to get the largest possible projection of the object onto the sensor of the camera. This is achieved through the large focal length and small focus distance of the lens. Macro lenses Tokina 100mm f/2.8 macro lens Common lenses with long focal length (telephoto lenses) have a rather large close (near) focus distance (hereinafter CFD). And vice versa, lenses with small CFD have a short focal length (wide angle lenses). Therefore, there are special versions of the lenses designed for macro photography - they combine both; a long focal length and small CFD. Such lenses are called macro lenses and usually have a high aperture and a constant (fixed) focal length. Also they could be used in other genres (i.e. in portrait photography). Macro photography The illustration below shows the differences when using a standard lens and a macro lens with small CFD. You can see how the macro lens allows to get closer to the object and thereby increases the macro ratio. The principle of the macro lens Due to the constant focal length (i.e. it is not zoom lens), bigger size and high price, macro lenses are usually purchased by professional photographers who have a specific need for macro photography. If you are an amateur and want to try macro photography for yourself, but are not ready to buy a macro lens, there are other more affordable ways. The remainder of the article will take a closer look at affordable accessories such as close-up filters and Extension Tubes that can extend the capabilities of the lenses you already own. Close-up filters Close-up filter Close-up filters are in fact optical macro-attachments...

img:A Woman's World Captured Through ND Filters by Sharyn Hodges
May 9, 2017

A Woman's World Captured Through ND Filters by Sharyn Hodges

A Woman's World Captured Through ND Filters There are hundreds of blogs out there telling you how to use a Neutral Density Filter (most of which are very technical), but I will be telling you my thought process of "How I use the RealPro ND100 and the RealPro ND500 filters”. So just to give you some sort of starting point, if you have never heard of a ND filter before, it’s a filter that you attach in front of your camera lens to take creative and dramatic photographs. I am sure you have seen the soft, blurry / smooth water photographs and asked how was this taken. Well, it was most likely taken with a ND filter. There are many different subjects you could photograph using a ND filter such as moving cars, blurring people as they walk across a busy intersection, waterfalls or you could even create dramatic skylines with moving clouds. The possibilities are endless. I use the filter for smoothing out the sea and bringing out the rocks and if I am lucky, to capture moving clouds. A ND filter allows you to control the amount of light you allow into your camera lens when leaving your shutter open for anything between 1 second to 1 minute. If you try and take a photo in the middle of the day with an open shutter for, let's say, five seconds, your photo will come out over exposed (just white). Each RealPro Filter comes in their own individual plastic carry case(as seen above). If you are not using your filter, its best advised to keep your filter in their case. This provides protection from accidents, drops (a common occurrence with me), dust and scratches all which could impact your final image negatively. The RealPro ND filter range are circular and have a simple screw onto the lens thread. Perfect for changing filters quickly. I am not a technical person and there are hundreds of "How should I use my ND Filter" blogs or YouTube videos out there that will give you great advice. I will be telling you how I personally use the filters in my everyday work. I will be talking to you through how I compose a photograph, the thought process and the outcomes. Living along the beautiful coastline of the Garden Route, my hometown of Plettenberg Bay provides the most spectacular photographic opportunities which ranges from...

img:Infrared photography (part II)
Dec 8, 2016

Infrared photography (part II)

Practical part Shooting Now let's talk about shooting techniques. Given that in IR-photography you often have to shoot with a long exposure, the technique will be largely similar to the use of high-density ND-filters. At the beginning you have to set the camera. First switch it to the Manual mode, turn off image stabilization, recording file type set to RAW and fix ISO sensitivity at the minimum value. Also, some people recommend to switch off the noise reduction option. In some cases, these settings may affect negatively the final image, so be sure to check it before shooting. Given that IR-shots often have problems with sharpness, set the aperture to the maximum (but don't forget about diffraction limit for your camera). Now select the composition and firmly fix the camera on a tripod. Next autofocus on the desired object and then set the focus to Manual mode (preferably via the camera menu). If you turn off the autofocus on the lens (by the switch or shifting the focus ring, depending on the lens model), you may accidentally shift the focus position. Then carefully screw the IR-filter on the lens. It is recommended to use the remote control. If not, then set the 2-second time delay. This will prevent the camera shaking. If you shoot with a DSLR camera, you should use Live View mode, because the optical viewfinder will not show anything. In addition, Live View is often able to show the final picture with the option of exposure compensation. However, on the other hand you should be careful with the values of the EV-scale, because the exposure meter may work incorrectly in the IR-range. So before you start shooting, take a few test shots with different exposure steps. To manage exposure, use the shutter speed setting. Unfortunately, there is no calculation chart for the exposure of the ND filters. The fact is that the density of IR-filters from different manufacturers may differ significantly. Camera modification is also important, because the volume of the residual IR-light will depend on the intensity of the IR-cut pre-filter. RAW-processing After shooting you will get (at first glance) a terrible RAW-image in red tones. Now let's consider techniques which will allow you to make a good photo. Original RAW-image after shooting with the IR-filter IR-image after deep processing (colored version) This is probably the most difficult part in IR-photography and there will be a...

img:Infrared photography (part I)
Dec 8, 2016

Infrared photography (part I)

In this review I will try to consider the infrared (IR) photography using IR-filters and specialized spectral cameras. This technique is quite difficult, but we will try to explain it in the most easy way. Contents How it works?Shooting optionsGears options - IR-cut filters - IR cameras LensesPractical part - Shooting RAW-processing - Black-and-white - RAW-processing in the camera - Black-and-white - RAW-processing in photo editors - Automated RAW-processing in Photoshop - Manual RAW-processing in Photoshop/LightroomSummary How it works? Do you know that only a short range of light spectrum between 400-700nm could be seen by the human eyes? Light waves up to the 400nm are called ultraviolet light and the waves over the 700nm - IR-light. Both are not visible by the eyes. Thus, only the visible range of the spectrum is considered as a norm for humans. But sensors of the digital cameras has no such "lack" and originally able to capture a wider range of the spectrum. Therefore, the image from the "naked" sensor would have huge difference from the usual view for our eyes (with a predominance of blue and red colors). For this reason manufacturers of digital cameras set a special pre-filters, which are cutting off unnecessary light beyond the visible range. This is why shots made with usual cameras are so close to perception of our eyes. But if we are not able to see some things it doesn’t mean it doesn't exist. And this is the essence of IR-photography. Using this technique, you can take shots that will be radically different from what we see with our eyes. Shooting options In fact, this is a genre of black-and-white photography, but the brightness here will be determined not only by the amount of light, but also the physical surface temperature. For instance the water will be dark, the foliage heated by the Sun is white and so on. Usual image in the visible spectrum IR-image after deep processing (b&w version) IR-image after deep processing (colored version) Since we are talking about photography, we can make time-lapse footages as well: Invisible Vietnam from Timon on Vimeo. Gears options IR filters Despite that the cameras have built-in pre-filters cutting the IR-light, some small part of invisible IR-light still remains and reaches the sensor. Therefore, in order to "catch" only this small amount of invisible light were developed special IR-filters, which cut off all the light...

img:Using Filters for Sea and Underwater shooting
Nov 29, 2016

Using Filters for Sea and Underwater shooting

My name is Jóse Márquez, I’m 24 years old. I live in Puerto Rico - one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean, and thanks to my island, I got the passion for underwater photography Today I want to talk about the equipment that I use when I’m taking underwater photos and the equipment that I use when I’m taking photos out of the water. Underwater/ Water Sports When you are shooting underwater, you need to first think about what you are going to be shooting: surfers, sea turtles, dolphins, sharks, coral, models, etc. Depending on what your subject is, this will determine the type of equipment that you are going to use. Surfing: When you are shooting surfers, it is better if you use a fast camera from 6 fps up to 14fps. Why? When you’re shooting surfers or waves the action is extremely fast, so when you got a fast camera it is easier to get the shot that you want because you got more shots from the same wave or surfer. Which Lenses? You got a lot of options when you are shooting surfing; all is going to depend from the vision that you want to deliver to the viewers.If you want to focus on facial expressions or nice sport portraits, a 70-200mm 2.8 is a great option. If you want to focus on the surfer or the wave, but not the complete scenario a 35mm or 50mm is an awesome choice for that type of shot. Nikon D7100 + 50mm 1.8 + Kenko REALPRO C-PL Filter. Nikon D7100 + 50mm 1.8 + Kenko REALPRO C-PL Filter. These types of lenses are going to provide images where the action of the surfer or the waves are the protagonists in the scene. If you want to get the complete scenario and action, you must use a fisheye or wide angle. This is going to provide to the viewers a first person view experience and is going to let you freeze all the action in just one picture. Also, it can let you get the Over and Under pictures, this type of picture is when 50% of the shot is out of the water and the other 50% is underwater. Tokina provides one of the best options in the market, they got the Tokina Fisheye 10-17mm F3.5 and the Tokina 11-16mm F2.8, both lenses have got some...

img:Practical advices about ND filters PART IV
Oct 18, 2016

Practical advices about ND filters PART IV

• Typical situations• Videography• Exposure control• Shooting of the Sun• Choosing the ND filter• Conclusions Videography Exposure control If you are shooting video, for example, with a frame rate of 25 fps, it is recommended to set camera shutter speed to the inverse number of about 1/25 sec. But in sunny weather is almost impossible to fulfill this condition and you'll get overexposure. The only thing you can do is to speed up the shutter speed, but in this case the final video will look jerky. ND filters allow to reach desired light flux for the optimal shutter speed. Shooting of the Sun When the Sun is near the horizon, you also can shoot not only time-lapse, but the usual video. And here you also need to use ND filters to cut an extra light flux. Choosing the ND filter Eventually we considered ND-filter types and main situations in which they can be used and the only thing now that remains is to give recommendations for choosing a right model. If you have sufficient budget and want to seriously go deep into the long exposure, we recommend to use a set of filters. First, you need a filter with a high density level like ND500 or ND1000 with 9 and 10 ND f-stops. Using these filters you can achieve really long exposures. But if you need to slightly adjust the exposure (about 2-5 f-stops), we recommend to use variable ND filter. So, you will have ND filters for different situations. But that's not all. When you need to achieve an extra long exposure, you can make a "sandwich", combining both filters. So that you will get 15-17 f-stops. The only thing you should pay attention to is a quality of variable density filters, because the common problem for a cheap variable ND filters is decrease in sharpness. Choosing the filter you should look for a well known and respectable brands. Kenko presented by 2 models - professional Kenko Variable NDX and for amateur - Kenko PL FADER. Speaking of the more affordable way (which is much interesting for most photographers), I recommend to use filters with fixed ND level or a set of these filters. So, if you are shooting portraits with a fast lens, we recommend to use models between ND4-ND16. It will give you possibility to keep the depth of field even on sunny weather. If you are...