Staff Blog

Category 'Reviews'

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...

img:Practical advices about ND filters PART III
Oct 17, 2016

Practical advices about ND filters PART III

• Typical situations• Time-lapse• Strong light flux• Smooth dynamics• Blurred motion• Shooting of the Sun Time-lapsePractical advices about ND filters PART III ND filters are often used in time-lapse, so lets consider the typical situations. Strong light flux  In fact, the situation is quite similar to classic photography. Time-lapse is a video made of a large number of serial shots. But there is an additional restriction - to avoid flicker effect you always have to shoot with a maximum aperture, if your lens has automatic aperture control. The fact is that during the serial shooting after each shot the camera sets the aperture into the initial (most opened) position and then closing it to the set value before the next shot. This action is repeating before the each shot. Here is the sample video of serial shooting on F2.8 lens with f/5.6 set: And the point is that the automatic setting cannot close aperture into the identically same position. Every time the f-number will be a little bit different. That means that with every new shot the camera sensor will receive different value of light, so the final images will always be exposured in a different way, that is well seen in dynamics: Therefore, in order to have a constant light flux when shooting time-lapse, it is recommended to set the aperture into the most opened position. That means that you would either have to shoot with very short shutter speed (which is undesirable and this will be considered below), or get an overexposure with a longer shutter speed. That is, if in the classic photography setting the open aperture can be caused only by the situation (portrait photography), in time-lapse you always have to shoot with maximum aperture (unless you have a lens with manual aperture control). Smooth dynamics As we just mentioned, strong light flux and importance of shooting with wide open aperture gives us no choice, but to shoot with a fast shutter speed. However, in this case the final video will turn jerky and unpleasant for viewing. Using ND filters allows us to lower shutter speed and make video smoother. Blurred motion Blurred motion in time-lapse looks as good as in classic photography. But unlike the photos, the footage will look interesting both night and day, because it allows to express the dynamics. This technique is perfect for shooting of moving cars or flows of people....

img:Practical advices about ND filters PART II
Oct 15, 2016

Practical advices about ND filters PART II

PART II Typical situations Photography Strong light flux Accent on the subject of shooting Landscapes and cityscapes Shooting of architecture Blurred motion Lightnings Shooting of the Sun PhotographyNow let’s discuss typical situations in photography where ND filters are in need. Strong light fluxWe have already considered exactly the same situation in the example in PART I. ND is necessary if you have a fast lens, camera with limited shutter speed and want to shoot with maximum aperture (for example, to get deep depth of field). In such conditions, shooting without a filter may cause overexposure. F2.8 1/4000sec. ISO200 without ND filter. F1.3 1/4000sec. ISO200 with ND4 Accent on the subject of shooting This technique is required when there is a motionless subject and moving objects around them. With a slow shutter speed all moving objects will become blurred or even blurry, while the subject will remain sharp. Shooting without ND filters will give you extra light flux with overexposure. Accent on the subject of shooting Accent on the subject of shooting Blurring of moving people makes the image more artistic Blurring of moving people makes the image more artistic Landscapes and cityscapes ND filters are oftenly used in the landscape or cityscapes photography. Long exposure allows to blur the fast moving clouds, ripples on water, a fountain or a waterfall, making shots quite different. Without filter (1/60 sec.) With ND1000 (13 sec.) Without filter (1/1600 sec.) Set of ND8, ND1000 and variable ND filter (30 sec.) Without filter (f/5.6, 1/1250 sec.) Variable ND filter (f/16, 15 sec.) Shooting of architecture If you significantly increase the exposure (15-20 sec.), all moving objects will become invisible. Without filter (1/100 sec.) With ND1000 (10 sec.) Without filter (1/50 sec.) With ND1000 (20 sec.) Without filter (1/8 sec., ISO200) Variable ND Filter (25 sec., ISO100) Blurred motion Car lights shot at slow shutter speed are also look very impressive. Basically this technique is used in night photography when lights are visible, however, light flux can be still strong and ND filter would be required. ND8 (15 sec.) Lightnings It is not easy to shoot lightnings. And the main problem is in difficulty to catch the moment of lightning with a short exposure. ND filters will significantly increase the exposure time and therefore increase the probability of a successful shot. If you're lucky, can get even a few lightnings in one shot. ND8 (10 sec.)...

img:Practical advices about ND filters PART I
Oct 15, 2016

Practical advices about ND filters PART I

• How it works?• Types and varieties of ND filters.• Difference by density.• Difference by construction.• Typical situations. If you are passionate about photography and not afraid to experiment, this article is for you! You probably already use UV or polarizing filters. UV filters protect your lens from physical damage, as well as from UV light, which can negatively affect the images.Polarizing filters are more interesting, because increase contrast and eliminate reflections from the water and glass surface. But now we will talk about much more interesting things - about neutral density filters (ND filters). ND filters are next popular after the polarized filters. Unfortunately, they are paid much less attention, although it is difficult to overestimate the creative potential they provide the photographer. Here we will try in a simple but more detailed way to tell about these filters - their varieties and situations in which they can be used. In the 1st part we will give you general information about ND filters. How they work, what the types are and in what situations they can be used. In the 2nd part we will tell in detail about how to use filters in photography. In the 3nd and 4th parts - the same for time-lapse and videography. And finally in 5th part we will tell about recommendations on how to choose ND filters. How it works The main purpose of ND filters is reducing the incoming light in the same proportion across the entire spectrum. In simple terms, the filter reduces the amount of light entering the camera. These filters give possibility to shoot at any time with any exposure settings in over lit conditions. It should be noted that the over light problem can be solved by changing the aperture. However, first of all this way is limited (there is also risk of diffraction), secondly, it will increase the grip and negatively affect the composition. Thirdly, in terms of extra long exposures this method can not be used. Let's look at the types and varieties of ND filters, and then discuss the typical situations in which they can be used. Please, note that shooting with an ND filter is often associated with long exposures, so you will need a good tripod. Types and varieties of ND filters ND filters are included in the product lines of almost all filter manufacturers. In terms of quality there might be serious...

img:Review of Kenko Mirror Lens 400mm F8
Aug 30, 2015

Review of Kenko Mirror Lens 400mm F8

By Marina Stepanenko, Vido This kind of lenses has its origin in astronomic telescopes and in 1970-th was very popular due to its compact construction and low price. This time as a object of review we take modern representative of catadioptric (or mirror) system lens - Kenko Mirror Lens 400mm F8. Lets take a close look. If we look inside Kenko Mirror Lens 400mm F8 we may find system of mirrors that helps radically to reduce the size of the lens comparing with classic optical lens: 400mm F8 from Kenko weights approximately 500g, while other 400mm analog with classic optical system will be not less than 1.5 kg and have corresponding size. Simple optical construction gives another advantage - low chromatic aberrations. Chromatic aberrations usually appear in tele lenses. To minimize these aberrations venders use lenses made of low dispersion glass, that as a result bumps the costs and the price of the product. Kenko Mirror lens 400mm F8 is compact and lightweight, but the price for these 2 important and attractive features is F8 that is cannot be changed. Light volume can be controlled by 67mm size neutral density filters, ISO or shutter speed. Focusing is realized only in manual mode and that is the standard for mirror lens except discontinued Sony SAL 500 f8 Mirror. Kenko Mirror lens 400mm F8 that adopts T-mount mounting standard can be used with almost every camera using T-mount adapter. In our case lens was tested on Micro Four Thirds mount camera with crop-factor 2x, so the lens had focus length equivalent to 800mm lens on full frame. With T-mount for Micro Four Thirds Ergonomics Lens has a big wide focusing ring with ridged rubber finish. The rotation of focusing ring is smooth with good resistance and this is very important because due to long focal length focusing is very severe and easy to miss. The rotation of focusing ring is about 270 degrees that allows to focus from 115cm getting 1:2.5 magnification scale. Kenko Mirror Lens 400mm F8 may be used as macro lens, but the range of utilization can be limited. Lens body is made from metal and presented in 3 color variations: Black, Titanium and White. Example of shot. 3 m distance to the object. What is the limits of challenge with Kenko Mirror Lens 400mm F8 400mm focal length is great, but 800mm is greater. We shot...

img:Some notes about cross screen filters
Aug 30, 2015

Some notes about cross screen filters

From Joe Ipsilanti and "Pro Photo" Among variety of filters cross screen effect filters or star filters are often staying behind the screen. But in fact these kind of filters are very unique and have power to completelychange your image. So, what are these cross screen filters for? Looking through photos you might notice lights that are creating a cross of 4 or 6 rays around some points of light sources. The image is very romantic and impressive. As a rule, this effect is achieved by making aperture size as small as possible. This creates crossing lights coming through diaphragm blades. Sometimes this effect looks cool. But due to some inconvenient conditions like dark places closed diaphragm cannot be implemented effectively. Moreover, cross lights may not appear as you desire. For this purpose cross screen filters are the most effective way to express your intentions. The secret is in many scratches on the surface of the filter glass. The scratches change refractions of the light as you want. Cross screen filter has a rotation ring. It means that filter can be rotated so the direct on of the light can be changed. Cross screen filters may be 2, 4, 6, 8 and more. Number means how many rays filter can reproduce. The most optimum number of rays is 4. Cross screen filters are mostly demanded during festivals or winter holidays when the streets are full of illumination.   For sure cross screen filters are important along with C-PL and ND filters....