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It is June 15th, 1999. The box office is being dominated by the release of the first new Star Wars in 16 years, even though it is tainted by one Jar Jar Binks. Until this day, photography was largely dominated by a technology that had existed for over a hundred years. It was a technology pioneered by George Eastman in his invention called, the Kodak. Over the many years from 1885 onward, it became known to the photographic community and to the world as “film.”
However, on a sunny day in Tokyo, the Nikon Corporation would announce a camera that would change photography as we knew it, the Nikon D1. The D1 was not the first digital camera by any means, but it was the first major adoption of digital by a camera company that the photographic community embraced. Prior to its arrival, the niche market that was digital had been dominated by none other than Kodak. Digital cameras before the D1 represented collaborations, where the chassis was made by one manufacturer (Canon or Nikon) and the sensor and LCD (if it had one) by another (usually Kodak).
To me, the Nikon D1 was a unicorn of sorts. I had searched on and off in recent years for a new Nikon D1, only to find many “well used” copies with paint missing and buttons hanging off the body. Then in mid-2018, I saw a camera collector’s estate sale with a D1 (not H, nor X, but the original) listed in it. They sent me pictures of it and it was as though they had gone back to 1999 and photographed it.
They wanted $150 for it… I bought it immediately without any further questions.
A few days later the box arrived. When I opened it up, it was almost an emotional experience. Here it was, the first Nikon digital, and it looked like it had never been touched. I might as well have been opening a window into the ’90s, for it looked brand new. So new that there was a certain part of me that wanted to put it on the shelf and find a beater to use for this piece. But that goes against everything I believe. I am a photographer; I use cameras, I do not collect them.
The next day, I decided I would take the camera out to see if it worked as well as it looked. I mounted my 24-70 on it and went for a walk around downtown Phoenix. I didn’t really care if there was a subject to photograph or not, just using the camera was an amazing experience. The body was a direct derivative of the iconic F5 complete with a built-in vertical grip like it should have. A funny note on this, the vertical grip only has one dial (the rear one), so if you are shooting manual, you first need to dial in your exposure… and then flip to the vertical grip.
I shot for about an hour, never removing the rear LCD cap. It felt like I was using a film body again, really quite an exhilarating experience. As much as I would have loved to spend hours using the camera that day, I was limited by the fact that the battery life had diminished over the years. And by “diminished” I mean that the Ni-Cad battery in the camera would last me about 60 shots if I didn’t use the LCD, 30 or so if I did.
On the topic of the LCD, there is another part of the Nikon D1 that I truly love for its period representation. To start off, the D1 comes with an LCD cover that takes three people just to remove from the camera. After you pry it from the body, you are left with an LCD that has less real-estate than an Apple Watch.
After shooting a shot, you have to wait for the file to clear the buffer (designated by a green light under your thumb on the grip). Once the files are written you can then preview them on the LCD. Upon pressing the Monitor button, you see a very blurry representation of your image with an hourglass over the middle. It may be enough of an image to see if the exposure is there, but think of it as an image from an iPhone… with Vaseline smeared all over the lens.
About 15 seconds later, the hourglass goes away and your image sharpens. All things considered; it isn’t a terrible preview. However, to understand the time in which the Nikon D1 existed, you will need to look at the files on a computer.
Upon getting home that evening, I dusted off the old CF card reader from my D3X case and popped in the 1GB CF card that came with the D1 as it was the only card that I had that would work (there is a 2GB limit for the camera). When I pulled up the first image, I was taken aback by the 2.7-megapixel resolution. To put it into perspective, most of your phones have screens with a higher operating resolution than the D1.
When I went to preview the images in Bridge on the Surface Studio, I thought the images were small previews, only to realize that I was looking at the full-res files. It was a bit shocking, and really enforced the idea that the composition on the shot had to be perfect in camera, for cropping was not an option. I was beginning to see the complexity that existed in using the D1 and that I would need to dedicate more time to practicing with it to have any chance of creating an image worth showing. It was at this point I decided to put the project on hold until I could commit the time that it would take to do it properly.
As spring approached, my schedule opened enough for me to take out the Nikon D1 for a proper evaluation, and I had a subject to photograph. As a child, my family and I used to spend our summers in a small farming town in southern Illinois. There wasn’t much to do there, other than walk the train tracks for hours each day.
My brother and I used to lay pennies on the rails with the hopes that a slow freight train would come by and smash them flat so that we could add them to our collection. It was a time in life that I hold quite fond and it is the origin of my love for trains.
It is for this reason that when I was planning the story about the Nikon D1, trains were immediately at the top of my subject list. Not only was there a distinct nostalgia of the camera that started us (photographers) down the digital road, but there was a sentiment of the simplicity of my youth. This story was just as much a photoshoot as it was therapy for my love of photography. With the trains near my house, I would drive to the tracks a couple of times a week and photograph them with hopes of finding out how to extract the most from the camera. This would not be an easy task…
For starters, in single shot mode, the Nikon D1 can only shoot 1 frame every 10 seconds! Now, imagine you are photographing a freight train rushing by and you get one, yes ONE, photograph of the engine before it passes. You can imagine how many shots I missed and the time I waited just to get the first keeper.
About a week in, I found that I could shoot the D1 in Continuous mode and grab more than one frame per train. However, I usually shut the camera off between trains to save the battery, but in doing so, I lost all the shots that had not cleared the buffer, for the camera does not have a safe shut-off mode. This was getting complex…
Unfortunately, getting the proper exposure out of the D1 would prove to be just as challenging. New cameras have 12-15 effective stops of dynamic range, meaning that a missed exposure can usually be pulled back in post without too much integrity loss in the shadows or highlights. On the D1 you get about 2 stops, noticeably less than if you were shooting slide film. So, creating a proper exposure on the Nikon D1 is less a practice in skill and more a sadistic joke played on the person pressing the shutter button.
To aid in the torment of the photographer, while the camera has four (yes, four) ISOs available (200, 400, 800, 1600), the only one that is safe to use is 200. Go any higher than 200 and you may be better off painting the image.
This brings us to the ultimate question that is this article, “what is it like to shoot the Nikon D1?”
It is one of the hardest cameras I have ever used, and its capabilities are extremely limited, but for some reason, I can’t help but love every second of using the D1. In some sense, it is a photographic meditation where the images being created are less important than the practice of creating them. It is extremely difficult to settle into creating pieces with the D1, but so rewarding when a solid shot is made.
It is the equivalent to an athlete practicing their sport while wearing a weighted vest. Every motion and reaction is delayed and sluggish, but the muscles and neurons become stronger and quicker in the process. Shooting with the Nikon D1 has made me better on set, even in the short time I have had the luck to use it.
Then there is the part that I can’t ignore. Every time I take out the Nikon D1, it reminds me of how far we have come in the last 20 years. I sadly have taken for granted so many aspects of photography that I never even realized until I used the D1. Often when I am out in the middle of the forest with it, taking pictures of trains, I think about those that created art and informed the world with the D1.
I think about a photographer in Miami, armed with the Nikon D1 and a Tokina lens, showing up to the house to photograph an immigrant boy named Elian Gonzalez. The photographer’s name was Alan Diaz, and on that sunny April day he didn’t think about all the difficulties that were presented by the D1, he simply created. The image he shot with the camera was lower resolution than most of your monitors, but it does what every photographer sets out to do, tells a story. On April 22, 2000, Mr. Diaz created the very first digital image to win the Pulitzer Prize.
Never forget the greats that laid the foundation upon which we stand.
About the author: Blair Bunting is an advertising photographer based out of Los Angeles, California. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can see more of his work on his website, blog, Facebook, and Instagram. This article was also published here.
My Huawei P30 Pro arrived at 4:30 pm on April 6th, and I knew the night sky in Mersing would be amazing for me to try out this low-light beast. I had read a lot of good reviews on P30 Pro, but I was still skeptical, so I booked a room at my regular resort on the same day and drove 3 hours to get there.
I arrived at midnight and waited patiently for 2.5 hours before I whipped out my P30 Pro and took a snapshot of my resort. Lo and behold! The Milky Way was visible!
Milky Way above my resort, taken with Huawei P30 Pro
To be honest, I didn’t expect it to be so easy! All I did was to point and shoot handheld in Photo mode (Master AI enabled automatically) and let P30 Pro perform its magic. Many of my friends asked me what I did to the image, and some even thought I had brightened it, but nope! I did nothing. Nothing at all. Here are more images of my attempts, handheld and unedited.
I also decided to try shooting star trails with it, and I’m happy with the result. I had to stop the shoot after around 32 minutes because I saw a car turning in.
Star Trails with Huawei P30 Pro
I’ve also tried shooting the Milky Way in Night Mode but the image quality is not as good as those taken in Photo mode.
Milky Way and Star Trails with Huawei P30 Pro - YouTube
After I proved to myself that Milky Way can be photographed handheld with my Huawei P30 Pro in Mersing, Malaysia, I convinced myself that it would be worth bringing the smartphone on my astrophotography trip to Mount Bromo from May 3rd through 6th. And because I think capturing Milky Way and auroras with it is a little too mainstream now, I decided to try and see if I could capture faint meteors and produce a near-DSLR quality Milky Way images with it so I can fill my camera bag with snacks instead.
I’ve captured many Eta Aquarid meteors with my trusty DSLR at Bromo over the past 8 years but I haven’t done any yet with a smartphone, so it would be a first for me.
While my friends were busy setting up their DSLRs, I was busy setting up my P30 Pro on my tripod (which didn’t take long). You might be wondering why I didn’t try to shoot the meteors handheld. Well, photographing the meteors is unlike photographing the Milky Way, for obvious reasons. I don’t know when and where the Eta Aquarid meteors will appear and so I have to mount my P30 Pro on a tripod as I can’t hold it with my hands all night.
So, I installed an app called Intervalometer and activated it, causing my P30 Pro to keep shooting according to the exposure time and interval I set. At around 4:33 am on May 5th, a faint Eta Aquarid meteor finally appeared above the active volcano, Mount Bromo, during the blue hour before sunrise and my almighty P30 Pro managed to capture it! I used its ultra-wide angle lens on Pro mode (ISO 3200 and shutter speed 30s) to do the job.
The bright “star” near the Galactic Center of the Milky Way is actually the planet Jupiter. The light pollution below the fog came from the jeeps making their way to the peak to catch the beautiful sunrise.
Eta Aquarid Meteor above Mount Bromo with Huawei P30 Pro
It’s extremely noisy, but it’s never an issue to me because most unprocessed astro images are noisy anyway. So I took 20 images taken with P30 Pro and stacked them to reduce the noise and you can see the result below. It’s amazing.
Comparison between a noisy and a denoised Milky Way image taken with Huawei P30 Pro.
Now, this is acceptable to me considering that I’ve only used 20 images to denoise it. I didn’t remove the little vegetation below so as to show you that the image was taken from the same spot as the noisy image above. And here’s the final denoised image
05 May 2019 – Milky Way above Mount Bromo with Huawei P30 Pro – Denoised.
The faint Eta Aquarid meteor is not in the image now, and that’s because I used the ‘median’ stacking mode — an object that is moving and only visible in one frame will likely ‘vanish’. Any object that’s not moving or moving very slowly, like the light pollution from the jeeps below the fog, will likely remain there.
Milky Way above Mount Bromo with Huawei P30 Pro
Mount Bromo Star Trails with Huawei P30 Pro
Comet Star Trails above Mount Bromo with Huawei P30 Pro
Overall, I find the astrophotography images from P30 Pro to be acceptable, but I would still prefer to use a DSLR for a serious shoot. But then again, the best camera is the one you have with you.
About the author: Justin Ng is an award-winning photographer based in Singapore. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. His work has been published in publications such as BBC, CNN, National Geographic, Yahoo!, Space.com, EarthSky, and UniverseToday. You can find more of his work on his website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This article was also published here and here.
Back in February, Tamron announced the development of three new lenses: the 35mm f/1.4 for DSLRs, the 17-28mm f/2.8 for Sony FE, and the 35-150mm f/2.8-4 for DSLRs. We just received the 35-150mm f/2.8-4 Di VC OSD for Nikon F mount to test out for a few days. It’s always exciting to test out new gear, and especially exciting when it’s a unique lens like the 35-150mm.
The 35-150mm is marked as a fast and compact “portrait zoom” that can cover a broad range of shooting, from environmental portraits to tight headshots. With the wide zoom range, the lens is also perfect for travel and street shooting and has an impressive close focus distance.
Minimum focusing distance – 1.48’
77mm filter thread
Low Dispersion glass to minimize chromatic aberration/color fringing.
Aspherical elements for optimal sharpness edge-to-edge, and flare reduction
Optimized Silent Drive (OSD) motor for quieter autofocus
Dual Micro-Processing Unit (MPU) for fast and precise AF performance.
Vibration Compensation (VC) to minimize camera shake when shooting handheld.
Moisture Resistant Construction for all weather use.
Fluorine Coating and Broad-Band Anti-Reflection (BBAR) Coating for reduced ghosting and flare.
TAP-in Console compatible.
The 35-150mm is relatively compact but has a solid feel in the hand. The exterior design is similar to most modern Tamron lenses with a satin finish and the gold-like trim around the lens mount. The buttons are minimal – an AF/MF switch, and a switch for the VC. Unlike some of the other Tamron zoom lenses, there is no VC Mode selection on this lens. The only other switch on the lens is a barrel lock that can be locked when the lens is at 35mm and at its most compact size.
The zoom ring is wide and easy to turn, with a moderate amount of resistance. The focusing ring is near the front element, and just like the recently released 17-35mm f/2.8-4, the focus ring turns as the lens autofocuses, which can be an annoyance from some photographers who hold the lens near the hood. Speaking of the hood, unlike some sub $1,000 lenses, it was nice and tight and locked on without any issues or concerns of it becoming unlocked.
The lens was clearly designed for portrait photographers in mind, with popular portrait prime focal distances on the lens barrel (35/50/85/105/135/150).
The Nitty Gritty
Being a variable aperture lens, the Tamron 35-150mm stops down as you zoom in, though not nearly as much as some lenses with this much zoom. Below is the breakdown of focal length and aperture.
Using calibration software, we ran an aperture test to at what aperture the lens is sharpest. Focal lengths used were 35mm @ f/2.8 and 150mm @ f/4. At the wide end, peak sharpness was at f/5.6, though it’s very similar from f/4-8, and at 150mm, peak sharpness was at f/7.1, with results being fairly close between f/4 and f/11. The red DLA line signifies where the lens may begin to show signs of diffraction.
Vignetting is present when wide open, at both ends of the zoom range, though starts to become very minimal at f/4 @ 35mm, and f/5.6 @ 150mm. No Lightroom lens profile corrections are available yet, but should easily be able to fix any vignetting once it is updated.
The images below were taken with the Nikon D750 and D500.
The first day of using the lens, the weather overcast, foggy, and with occasional rain. Even after getting a bit wet, the lens performed flawlessly. The AF motor noise is minimal – not as silent as some of Tamron’s G2 fast zooms like the 70-200 or 24-70, but not overly distracting, though videographers might not be a big fan of this lens if using on camera mics. The wide zoom range makes it great for capturing full-body portraits as well as those tight headshots without having to swap glass.
The focus is fast and accurate, though we didn’t get a chance to test it out in any fast action scenarios on day 1. It should be more than sufficient for portrait and street photographers. The sharpness is impressive for a lens with about 4.3x optical zoom. For someone looking to replace their “kit” lens on their full frame Nikon (24-120mm /4) or Canon (24-105mm f/4), this is a great choice that gives you a faster aperture and a bit more zoom length, with the tradeoff being that it starts at 35mm instead of 24mm.
Original vs Cropped
The next day, in order to put the autofocus to the test, the lens was used during a track & field event. Though no the fastest, the autofocus kept up for the most part, with minimal out of focus photos during high-speed bursts with the D500. A 70-200 f/2.8 would be a better option for this situation, but for those looking for a one lens solution, it’s definitely capable of capturing the moments you want.
The Tamron 35-150mm f/2.8-4 is a unique lens that appeals to consumers, prosumers, and professionals alike. With its $799 price tag for a relatively “fast” lens that is sharp, small, and extremely versatile, it’s a great bargain. Paired with the Tamron 17-35mm f/2.8-4, it’s a great 2 lens combo to cover the wide to medium telephoto range, with a fast aperture, and compact size.
The Nikon mount Tamron 35-150mm f/2.8-4 will be available at the end of May and can be pre-ordered here. The Canon mount will be available in early June and can be pre-ordered here.
About the author: Ihor Balaban is a photographer and store manager of the camera store Pixel Connection in Avon, Ohio. To learn more about the store, head over to the Pixel Connection website. This post was also published here.
If you ever feel like quitting your job and buying a plane ticket to some exotic location with only your backpack in tow, you might wonder which lens to bring. The Nikon 300mm f/2.8 would be on the top of my list.
Okay, let’s face it: it’s awkward sometimes to shoot on full-frame with a 300mm f/2.8, as you need to be very far to get your subject. But if I had to travel the world and only take three lenses with my Nikon D800E, it would be the Sigma 20mm f/1.4 Art, the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 AF-S G and the Nikon 300mm f/2.8 AF-S VR. That’s it.
The 300mm f/2.8 VR is a hell of a lens. Combined with a TC 2.0 II converter, you get the equivalent of a 600mm f/5.6 AF-S VR with a very limited loss of sharpness. If you’re a mad man like me, you throw that on an APS-C body and you get a nice 900mm f/5.6 reach. Then because you’re even madder, you get something like a D7500 or D500 with the 1.3x crop shooting format on top of their crop sensor. That brings you to 1170mm at 12 megapixels.
The 300mm f/2.8 makes you go shoot things. It looks cool with its carbon fiber lens hood. It is everything that you’d ever need and then some.
Most of the shots below were shot using the D300 and the D800E.
Sharp you say? Look at the details of this blue macaw (taken in Bolivia!) — it is from another world. I just wished I had a D850, as 36 megapixels sometimes isn’t enough.
This is the kind of review in which the pictures speak for themselves. What else can I say? That the focus may be the fastest of any Nikon lens. That it weighs about two dictionaries. That it is the ultimate bokeh machine.
The bokeh is insane. Look at the pictures below. The ability to distance your subject from the background and the foreground is what makes this lens so special. From food photography to portraits, this lens is killer.
Peak sharpness is available from the get-go at f/2.8. At close range, shooting on full-frame, the in-focus zone is less than 2mm or something stupidly narrow like that. You have to nail the focus, but once it’s nailed, it delivers the best results in the universe.
The background simply melts away!
In the end, this lens created new photo opportunities. I made shots that I would never have made without this lens! I mean, it sounds like a no-brainer, but this lens will make you go shoot. The 70-200mm f/2.8 is awesome, but the extra 100mm of reach makes a difference.
Which version of the 300mm f/2.8 should you get? Well, if you can get a good deal on the non-VR version, get it. VR matters only below 1/500 of a second. If you plan to use it with the 2.0x converter on a crop body, then the VR is a must, most of the time anyway. You see, birds aren’t always in direct sunlight. They usually hide in the shadows of the trees.
I would get the VR every single time if money were no object. If you are only shooting birds in flight, then it doesn’t really matter anyway.
The 300mm f/2.8 VR is so much sharper than the newer 300mm f/4 PF version. Not only that, but if you plan to use it a lot with the 2.0 teleconverter, having f/2.8 is critical. Losing two stops means that you will still be shooting at f/5.6, which makes the lens compatible with film cameras (such as the F5 or F6) and older Nikon bodies (D200, D300, D700, D3, etc).
The 300mm f/4 PF is a lesser lens that’s too expensive for what it is. f/8 with a teleconverter makes it hard to autofocus at dawn and dusk on a modern body. There’s no reason for you to get the 300mm f/4, other than if weight is a real issue (rock climbing, mountaineering, etc).
The look. A carbon fiber lens hood
The sharpness. This has got to be one of the sharpest lenses Nikon has ever made
The VR. Gives me at least 3 full stops advantage
The build quality. This is the most rugged Nikon lens ever made
Instant autofocus (closest to infinity)
The weight (but what would you expect?)
If you are looking for the ultimate Nikon lens, this is one of them. Nothing on the market is like this lens.
About the author: Jean-Pascal Remon is a photographer who recently completed an around-the-world trip with the Nikon 300mm f/2.8 VR. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Remon’s work and writing on his website, The Most Beautiful World. This article was also published here.
This article is not meant to be an in-depth review of the Samsung S10+. The review will chiefly discuss the cell phone’s camera capabilities from a landscape photographer’s standpoint.
The first thing I noticed when I began using the Samsung S10+ was how well calibrated the screen is in terms of colors, black point and contrast. What I see on the display is extremely close to what I see on my calibrated computer monitor. That to such a degree that I now use my phone as a point of reference when re-calibrating my monitor.
Sunrise Tyrifjorden. UWA camera, single exposure, ISO 80, f/2.2, 1/50s, tripod
The Samsung S10+ is equipped with three cameras; zoom, primary (77-degree field of view) and ultra-wide-angle (UWA, 123-degree field of view). The latter is very welcome for landscape photography. I hope a future software update will provide the UWA camera with raw (DNG) capabilities as well, offering the files greater editing latitude. As of yet, only the primary camera offers the option to shoot in raw.
The primary camera on the Galaxy S10+ is a 12MP sensor with 1.4um large pixels and an f/1.5-f/2.4 aperture whereas the ultra-wide-angle camera is 16MP. It seems to me that Samsung to a certain degree allows fine details to be sacrificed to reduce noise. However, the dynamic range is impressive and focus is always quick and spot on. I actually prefer autofocus to manual focus on the Samsung, contrary to how I shoot when using my regular cameras. The auto white balance is accurate and colors are not overly saturated straight out of camera.
UWA camera, single exposure, cropped on either side, ISO 50, f/2.2, 1/210s, tripod.
When I use a tripod I set the timer to 2 secs. The timer can, of course, be disabled, set to 5 secs or 10 secs.
I find the camera’s menus very easy to navigate just as it is very easy to switch between the various cameras and various camera modes (pro, pano, portrait, video, etc).
UWA camera, single exposure, cropped 4:5 for Instagram, tripod, ISO 50, f/2.2, 1/100s
The same image un-cropped and only edited in Lightroom:
It is fair to say that the ultra-wide-angle camera produces an amazingly wide field of view, and it’s very fun to use.
The next image is from a sunrise along the shores of Tyrifjorden, which is Norway’s fifth largest lake.
UWA camera — blend of two exposures for dynamic range — both shot handheld. Very strong light in the sky combined with very dark shadows necessitated a blend of two.
On my way home from my first outing with the Samsung S10+, I discovered a full moon rising. Arriving at that this church could work as a composition I made a quick stop, ran out of the car and made a few shots. When examining the image in Lightroom, I was amazed at how well it came out considering that I am often plagued with shaky hands. Dusk had already set in and taking into account this is a cell phone image, I am particularly impressed by the dynamic range in this instance.
Zoom camera, single exposure, handheld, ISO 200, 1/33s, f/2.4
During spring thaw possible locations at my end are a tad limited so I have opted to use the “cabin lake” for all it is worth when testing out the Samsung S10+.
UWA camera, single exposure, ISO 50, f/2.2, 1/105s, tripod. A 2 min Lightroom edit
But, what can we expect from the DNG files?
Primary camera, DNG, single exposure, edited in Lightroom and Photoshop
Close crop from image above:
To get an idea of about the editing latitude this is the straight out of camera version:
I have to admit I was curious about how far I could go with the DNG files the Samsung S10+ produces, and my claim is that the editing latitude is surprisingly good when considering the small sensor size.
The following image is also a DNG file. The image is straight out of camera.
A close crop after opening up the shadows:
Perhaps not so easy to see it here but the darkest shadows turn magenta and the sensor produces some noise in the darkest areas. This was a high contrast scene so I shot extra exposures for the shadows in case I wanted to edit the image. I have had both crop and full frame cameras from a well-known brand which raw files have produced magenta cast in the shadows when pushing the files. In other words, the Samsung sensor doesn’t behave very differently from some other cameras. It was nonetheless easy to fix the magenta cast and reduce the noise in Lightroom.
To conclude, I wish the level of detail was better, but I am impressed by the dynamic range this small camera sensor is able to produce. With a better noise reduction algorithm, it should be possible to extract even more details. I also find the colors pleasing. The camera produces more than enough good images for Instagram, Facebook and vacation memories. And it should be possible to achieve decent prints in A4 and A3.
To claim that the camera is comparable with a DSLR/mirrorless camera would be an exaggeration. Even though the Samsung S10+ camera comes with clever software enhancements it cannot compete with what my regular cameras are able to produce. Details, dynamic range, sharpness, color depth, etc are not on the same level as a DSLR. I believe it is important to point this out for those who believe a cell phone camera can replace regular cameras for landscape photography.
Given the right conditions the Samsung UWA lens actually produces some sun rays:
About the author: Ole Henrik Skjelstad is a landscape photographer and math teacher from Norway. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Skjelstad’s work on his Flickr, 500px, and Instagram. This article was also published here.
In the 14.5-minute video above, Hall pits the V1 against the A1 to see how the features and performance compare.
First, Hall compared the light pattern of the two flashes:
Godox V1 light pattern at widest.
Profoto A1 light pattern at widest.
Godox V1 light pattern at medium zoom.
Profoto A1 light pattern at medium zoom.
Godox V1 light pattern at max zoom.
Profoto A1 light pattern at max zoom.
After publishing a blind test to photographers over at SLR Lounge, the vast majority (~89%) said they preferred the Godox’s quality of light.
Both the V1 and A1 share the same maximum light output, HSS, TTL, magnetic modifiers, the same recycle time, similar size, a switch lock, and a modeling lamp.
Hall notes that neither flash produces soft natural light when used unmodified since both are small, harsh light sources.
Godox V1 unmodified.
Profoto A1 unmodified.
Hall found that the Profoto A1 has more accurate daylight white balance, a better display, a sleeker build, and a perfect 9-stop light output range.
On the other hand, the Godox has its advantages as well. It has shorter flash durations, 35% more 1/1 flashes on a battery charge, less battery drain, more consistent color temperature, and a reverse-tilting head (for bouncing backward without twisting the head 180 degrees).
Godox V1 with a shoot-through umbrella.
Profoto A1 with a shoot-through umbrella.
“The Godox V1 and Profoto A1 are extremely similar flashes in terms of capabilities,” Hall concludes at SLR Lounge. “You would be hard-pressed to create an image with one that couldn’t be done with the other.
“The primary issues facing the Godox V1 are it’s slightly blue color temperature and thermal protection limit of 30 full power flashes. But, if neither of those will affect your shooting style it’s hard to ignore the quality the Godox A1 delivers at 1/4th the price of the Profoto A1.”
Hall reports that the Godox V1 is being shipped to retailers now and should be hitting shelves soon. You can pre-order it now for $259.
And while its overall camera test score ties Huawei’s offering — the P30 Pro’s Photo score is slightly better due to its 5x telephoto lens — Samsung’s latest top-of-the-line smartphone actually beats the P30 Pro in both video and selfie scores.
What’s interesting is that the S10 5G is the first smartphone to hit the 100 mark in the DxOMark video scores despite the fact that it uses the exact same cameras as the S10+, which only scored 97.
“The biggest change is that Samsung modified the default video recording mode to 4K resolution, which helps improve the phone’s texture, noise, and artifact scores,” DxOMark writes. “The S10 5G’s Photo score also gets a bump, in large part because Samsung has shifted the primary lens it uses for bokeh-enhanced portraits from the wide-angle to the telephoto lens (you can still use the wide-angle if you prefer, though). This helps reduce the distortion caused by shooting portraits at a short focal length.
Here’s how the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G and Huawei P30 Pro compare in their Photo and Video scores and breakdowns:
Here’s what the latest leaderboard looks like:
“Overall, the Galaxy S10 5G performs slightly better than the excellent S10+ in our tests,” DxOmark writes. “Samsung’s move to 4K default resolution for video, and a beneficial switch to using the telephoto camera for bokeh effects in portrait mode, give the 5G version a 3-point score bump to put it at the very top of all our tested mobile devices.”
I have gone through the gear of almost every major brand during my early photography journey, buying my way through cameras and lenses until I arrived at my current setup, which has remained more or less the same for my entire professional career. Despite settling on a brand known for its high price point, I have been comfortable with all of my camera and lens choices except one, which is what I’ll be discussing here.
Buying the Leica Noctilux 50mm f/0.95 was a decision I made early on after I decided that the 35mm focal length (which had served me well while learning) did not work for me on a rangefinder or for general-purpose photography, I felt that 50mm made the most sense.
My exposure to the Noctilux was through the work of fashion and portrait photographers, and I can’t say I can name any exemplary (in my opinion) examples of street photographers or photojournalists who use this lens as their mainstay. Nevertheless, at the time I wanted to have something extreme, and the Noctilux represented to me a piece of optics that was on the edge of what is possible in terms of light gathering with a distinct aesthetic and the potential for unique applications.
The Noctilux was one of the first lenses I used with my rangefinder system and it has stayed with me in more or less consistent use until very recently. When I started out, the majority of my work was in fashion, and I used the Noctilux for both runway and portraiture. It was perfect for the low light environments here, and shooting catwalks with such thin depth of field became a non-optional crash course in rangefinder focusing.
As time went on I began to become more and more comfortable with what this lens offered me, and I used it for many of my early street photography attempts. However, the Noctilux almost demands to be shot wide open to fully take advantage of that f/0.95 aperture. As a result, I became lazy, relying on the bokeh to obliterate my backgrounds rather than carefully composing my work. My earliest street photography definitely suffered from this and it’s only when I began to use lighter lenses and smaller apertures that my composition was able to become as precise as it is today.
Leica lenses are optimized to be used wide open, where many lenses may reach their “peak” performance at f/4 to f/8, and the Noctilux is no different. Although mine suffers from higher chromatic aberration as a non-APO corrected design, it still has incredible sharpness at all apertures, and in black and white especially it can produce some really special images. The “look” of the Noctilux resides in the images produced at its widest aperture and is what makes the lens (and images made with it) so unique.
The background of an image is often essential for providing context to an image. It allows the subject to rest in a location, in and around points of interest and other characters through framing and composition. The alternative to specific context would be atmosphere, to provide a general feeling about where the subject could be, whilst drawing almost all of the attention to the subject with nowhere else for the eye to rest. This is one of the reasons the Noctilux is so popular for portrait photographers. The Noctilux turns any context into a dreamy atmosphere and thus can be a powerful storytelling tool when implemented well.
It definitely takes a while to “break in” the Noctilux, to learn it’s strengths and weaknesses before bending it to your will and making it work in a way that works for you. I found focusing difficult without a focusing tab but was able to add a third-party rubber option which made it much easier (I have done this will all of my lenses that do not have one built in).
Once you have, though, it is a joy to use and the images are a joy to review. The signature of the lens is its intimate field of view — 50mm is a perfect distance for many who want intimacy with their subject, and it provides an undeniably close-to-medium-format look in such a relatively tiny and lightweight package.
Having shot the Noctilux for so long in so many situations, and having traveled with it to as many countries as I have, it is only natural that I feel a sentimental attachment both to it and the work I produced through it, especially from early in my career. I am not usually sentimental towards my gear, and I feel like this attachment is one of the few reasons I still shoot this lens. Having just described the incredible positivity I feel towards this lens, it might be strange to hear that I am finding it harder and harder to justify its continued use and place in my gear collection.
The main reason for my second thoughts is (perhaps obviously) financial. Selling this lens would fund my travels for at least a year — likely more — and that would do more for my photography and well-being than holding onto it. Having used the Noctilux for my early jobs it has paid for itself a few times over at this point, and I still think that for a professional who understands exactly what is offered by this lens, there are few better options.
I now own many alternatives, which offer close to the same experience at a fraction of the cost – although none match the aesthetic offered by the Noctilux exactly. Although my favorite focal length for shooting street photography is 90mm, when it comes to my professional work shooting weddings, fashion, productions, and other close quarters documentary, 50mm is my go-to.
As such I have built far more of a collection of 50mm lenses around my Noctilux, which I now use less and less frequently. High ISO capabilities of digital cameras, or pushed film, mean that I can often shoot in low light without needing the extra stops that are offered by an f/0.95 lens. I only really use the Noctilux now when I am trying to achieve a certain aesthetic to my images.
Other 50mm lenses I use more frequently today include the Zeiss 50mm f/1.5 C Sonnar, Zeiss 50mm f/2 Planar, 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1, and Jupiter-8 50mm f/2 – all of which are available for much, much less than the Noctilux. The 7artisans 50mm f/1.1 is a particularly fantastic option, especially on film, with its own unique aesthetic as well as its incredibly reasonable price. For rangefinder beginners and hobbyists, I think my recommendation would be the 7artisans.
Despite this, and despite being skeptical of my sentimentality, every time I bring the Noctilux out for another shoot I feel rewarded. The Noctilux look shines in every photograph I create with it, and for now, this is enough to keep me shooting it. I’ll be holding onto it for the moment, and seeing whether or not it continues to find work over the next few years.
About the author: Simon King is a London based photographer and photojournalist, currently working on a number of long-term documentary and street photography projects. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can follow his work on Instagram and you can read more of his thoughts on photography day-to-day over on his personal blog. Simon also teaches a short course in Street Photography at UAL, which can be read about here.
If there’s a fundamental flaw with product reviews, it’s the typically short duration that reviewers have with the item before hitting a publishing deadline or needing to return the product to the manufacturer. With rapid product refreshes, the lifetime of any particular product can be short, which can often render longer evaluations as impractical.
A Leica Q Review: Three Years in the Making - YouTube
But as technologies mature, consumers are decreasing the rate at which they upgrade their products. In digital photography, both lenses and camera bodies produced in the past few years are still going strong. Is it nice to have 48MP? 100MP? Sure, but for many applications, 24MP does the job just fine.
The Leica Q2 (left) alongside the original Leica Q (right). Photo by Allen Murabayashi
I say this with partial irony as I’ve just upgraded to a Leica Q2 after having owned a Leica Q for 3.5 years. But my Leica Q is still an amazing camera, and given that there are many good deals on this camera to be found, I thought it would be a good time to re-review the camera after using it for 40 months and taking over 60,000 photos as it traveled with me to 19 countries.
I ordered my Leica Q on June 20, 2015, and took delivery of it in September of that year. As a replacement for an aging and well-worn Sony RX1, the increase in size and weight was noticeable, but it still fit my criteria for a full-frame, compact travel camera.
The Leica Q’s 28mm lens has the same field-of-view as most smartphones. Photo by Allen Murabayashi
The Q features a 28mm f/1.7 lens – a curious choice to many people. Why not the more typical 35mm FOV of street photography? And in truth, the lens did feel very wide initially. But the FOV is the same as many smartphones including the iPhone and Google Pixel, so over time, 28mm has become a very comfortable way of seeing for many people.
Leica Q’s Summilux 28mm f/1.7 lens. Photo by Allen Murabayashi
Modern lens design has moved away from having a physical aperture ring – choosing instead to use dials on the camera body, for better or worse. But the Q retains an aperture ring with 1/3 stop control that I use frequently.
The macro mode is a neat little trick that gives you a little more flexibility for those food photographs. No one will mistake the focal length for a portrait lens, but it’s still capable of taking some nice environmental portraits.
The image quality has always been impressive to me. The camera’s DNGs have a built-in profile, so you can’t see what software adjustments are being made to lens defects while using a program like Adobe Lightroom unless you use a program like RAW Digger.
At 28mm, the fixed focal length camera isn’t explicitly design for portraits, but it’s more than capable under the right circumstances. Photo by Allen Murabayashi
The inconspicuous size of the Leica Q makes it a perfect street photography camera. Photo by Allen Murabayashi
The Leica Q’s size and weight lends itself perfectly for travel photography. Photo by Allen Murabayashi
The Achilles heel of the Sony RX1 was the low light focusing – even in the updated versions. By contrast, the Q’s autofocus is crisp and works surprisingly well in low light despite having a contrast detection system. Using manual focusing automatically throws the EVF into a magnified mode with focus peaking turned on. The focusing mechanism is silky smooth and manual focusing is unusually easy.
Taking photos is SILENT, unlike mirrorless cameras like the Nikon Z7, which still has an audible shutter sound. It’s hard to explain how differently people react when they don’t hear a shutter sound. Using the camera becomes a liberating process.
The Leica Q’s 24MP sensor is more than enough for most situations. Photo by Allen Murabayashi
It’s not as small as some other options, but for me, the camera hits the perfect intersection of size and image quality. At 640g, it’s noticeably heavier than the Sony RX1R II (507g) or the Fuji X100F (469g), but it’s still significantly lighter than any full-frame DSLR or ILP system with a comparable lens.
The Leica Q next to the Sony RX1R. Photo by Allen Murabayashi
Within the first few months of ownership, dust started to appear on my sensor. Early production models had poor sealing with dust allegedly entered through the microphone and speaker ports on the camera. I shipped the camera back to Leica and after 2 months, they shipped back a brand new camera!
The Leica Q sensor accumulated an unusable amount of dust which required sending the camera back to Leica for cleaning. Photo by Allen Murabayashi
Although the replacement unit seemed to mitigate the dust problem, it didn’t eliminate it. A year and a half later, I sent the unit back for a sensor cleaning, then promptly taped up with speaker and mic ports with gaffer’s tape. I haven’t had an issue since.
The new Q2 features an IP52 rating which means it’s “Protected from limited dust ingress” – perhaps not the IP67 or IP68 rating we’ve seen from the most recent crop of smartphones, but I’ll take whatever improvement in protection I can get.
The Q’s built-in diopter has no locking mechanism, unlike many DSLRs, which require the user to pull out a knob to adjust. Even though the mechanism lies fairly flat against the body, I still found an annoying tendency for it to spin while the camera was hung across my body.
The Leica Q’s diopter adjustment lacks a locking feature and is prone to inadvertent movement. Photo by Allen Murabayashi
Compact cameras always get dinged for poor battery life, and the Q is no exception. On the one hand, it seems reasonable to expect a $4,000 camera (at the time I purchased it) to have decent battery life. On the other hand, a smartphone can barely last a day.
Carrying multiple batteries in my pocket was necessary to overcome the limited battery life. Photo by Allen Murabayshi
In my humble opinion, a power button/switch should fulfill a single function. As with some past camera designs, the Leica Q intermixes the single and continuous shooting mode functions into the power switch. Because of the poor battery life, I’ve always shut the camera off between taking photos, which means even more opportunities to inadvertently throw the camera into continuous mode. The problem is minor compared to the more consequential diopter issue, but it’s annoying nevertheless.
The mixing of function (power + shooting mode) led to many unwanted frames. Photo by Allen Murabayashi
Until September 2018, the Leica Q had its own dedicated app – a WiFi-based, power-hungry app that allowed you to both remotely control and download JPGs from the camera. It worked reliably, if not slowly, and has now been replaced with Leica Fotos, a single app that services all Leica cameras.
On one hand, the number of steps that it takes to transmit a photo from camera to phone seems unacceptable in today’s mobile economy (and nearly every camera manufacturer has this problem). On the other hand, I enjoy untethering myself from the constant need to post to social media – instead, focusing on watching and taking more photos.
If one measure of a good camera, is the one you’re inclined to carry with you, the Leica Q fits the bill. For those who want more fine-tuned control, better low light performance and higher image quality than a smartphone, a dedicated camera is the only way to go. Yet size and weight can be a strong disincentive. Happily, this hasn’t been the case with the Leica Q, and if Leica waited another few years before releasing the Q2, I have no doubt that I would have continued to strap the Q around my neck.
How many photos would you miss because your camera isn’t convenient. Photo by Allen Murabayashi
In many ways, the Leica Q has been one of the best cameras (if not the best) camera I’ve owned. Its inability to change lenses has often been a benefit rather than a crutch (granted, it isn’t the appropriate choice for every type of photography). And while it may not be as durable or “pro” as some of my DSLRs, I’m confident that I wouldn’t have captured as many moments of my life without it because the alternative was too heavy and bulky.
Is the Leica Q worth the premium price? I’ve owned a lot of cameras and lenses at various price points that rarely make it out of the camera bag. In a sense, the best gear for me is the one that inspires and encourages me to take photos. The Q has been a trusty companion with or without the red badge.
About the author: Allen Murabayashi is the Chairman and co-founder of PhotoShelter, which regularly publishes resources for photographers. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Allen is a graduate of Yale University, and flosses daily. This article was also published here.
I made a big purchasing decision a few months ago by investing in the new Fujifilm GFX 50R camera. It is a larger-than-full-frame ‘medium format’ sensor camera. The 50R was by far the most affordable medium format option in its class at the cost of $4,500.
Despite the amazing image quality of the Fujifilm G series lenses, they can be prohibitively expensive and lack the wide apertures that full frame shooters are accustomed to. What excited me most about this camera was its ability to adapt other lens systems with f/1.4 lenses to create images with a very shallow depth of field. In an ideal world, I would be able to treat this camera like a medium format digital back.
My main workhorse camera is still the Canon 5D Mark IV, so I’m already equipped with an arsenal of Canon EF mount lenses. I picked up the Viltrox adapter, the only one that seemed to be in stock in North America at the time.
The Viltrox is a smart adapter, which enables both autofocusing and aperture functions while using the Canon lenses on the 50R. However, even with a smart adapter, the autofocus was often too slow or inaccurate, so I would default to manual focusing instead. The Canon lenses aren’t designed very well for manual focusing, so the idea of buying into an old film lens system, specifically designed with manual controls, seemed very appealing.
Minolta 58mm F1.4 MC Rokkor @ f/2 | ISO 200 | 1/320, 1/1250
Deep Dive into Old Lenses
When I looked into compatible film lenses for the GFX system, I had three basic criteria: 1) I wanted something that was going to be relatively affordable and available on the used market, 2) I wanted the lenses to be fast (wide apertures), and 3) I wanted a lens that was fairly compact so it would fit better ergonomically to the 50R’s rangefinder-style camera body.
I wasn’t overly concerned about sharpness, lens distortion, or how it handled chromatic aberration. After a bit of research, one interesting lens that came up over and over again was the Minolta 58mm f/1.2 Rokkor.
I had a brief look at the prices and was somewhat surprised to see that this lens is still in high demand. In all honesty, the prices were a little more than what I wanted to spend ($400+) especially considering I wasn’t even sure if this would be a truly viable option.
Being the frugal blue-collar photographer that I am, I instead purchased its cheaper, less desirable brother – the 50-year-old Minolta 58mm f/1.4 MC Rokkor. I paid a little under $100 for it. Paired with an inexpensive Fotodiox Minolta SR to GFX dummy adapter that only one camera shop in Canada had in used condition, I was good to go.
Minolta 58mm F1.4 MC Rokkor @ f/2 | ISO 200 | 1/1250
Real World Testing
Minolta 58mm F1.4 MC Rokkor @ f/2 | ISO 200 | 1/800
In order to test this lens, I wanted to mimic a real-world scenario – no shooting charts, graphs, or straight lines on a wall. With the help of my friend Karen, a local real estate agent, we hit up a park for some natural light portraits. For simplicity, I shot the entire session at f/2 (full disclosure: I think it may have accidentally moved to f/2.8 for a shot or two).
To my surprise, the lens performed a lot better than anticipated. The focusing ring was smooth and the metal construction of the older MC version felt nice in the hands. The 50R allows you to zoom into your focus point in camera (through the viewfinder or LCD), so it was easy to nail focus fairly quickly. I more or less hit ‘good enough’ focus every time, even with my bad eyesight.
Minolta 58mm F1.4 MC Rokkor @ f/2 | ISO 200 | 1/1000
I’ve never been much of a pixel peeper when it came to portraits and I am a big believer in photos being “sharp enough”. Although the images looked pretty amazing in camera (with the standard film simulation), I applied a little bit of a bump in Lightroom using one of my Classic Chrome RAW presents. You can be the judge of the images that you see throughout this blog post and determine what you like or don’t like about how this lens renders the images. Personally, I can’t say enough good things about it.
Minolta 58mm F1.4 MC Rokkor @ f/2 | ISO 200 | 1/1250
With more people viewing images on smaller mobile screens, a lot of the lens’ faults don’t appear too noticeable and definitely not deal breakers. It is not the sharpest lens. It suffers from chromatic aberration at f/2. There is slight vignetting in the corners (which can be fixed in the Lens Correction tool in Lightroom). The corners can suffer from that weird swirly bokeh because of rear lens element distortion (too small for the sensor). That said, the way this lens performs is exactly what made me excited when I bought this camera.
Other Lenses Tested
I did purchase a couple of other Minolta lenses as well; the Minolta 28mm f/2.5 MC Rokkor and the Minolta 200mm f/4 MD Rokkor-X. Each of these lenses was also under $100 each. The main focus of this review was for the 58mm f/1.4 MC Rokkor but I did want to share a couple of sample test shots with these lenses as well. Thanks to Bun Cha the Dog and Toronto photographer Ben Roffelsen for standing in as my models.
Looking at the sample below, you can see there is some heavy vignetting around Bun Cha the Dog in the original image. The MC version of this lens is an earlier release, which had a metal focusing ring. Like its 58mm counterpart, the focusing ring is smooth. The focus throw doesn’t seem as long on this lens as the 58mm, so the speed of focusing from one end to the other would be quicker.
Keeping the same 4:3 ratio, the lens seems usable with a bit of a crop and manual Lens Correction adjustment. In terms of sharpness, this lens seems sharper than the 58mm, though it is important to note I did not run tests on the 58mm at the same aperture (f/2.5). As a side, the image shows the minimum focusing distance for this lens on the 50R.
28mm Minolta f/2.5 MC Rokkor @ f/2.5 | ISO 3200 | 1/200 | Original (before)
28mm Minolta f/2.5 MC Rokkor @ f/2.5 | ISO 3200 | 1/200 | Cropped, Lens Correction
The 200mm f/4 MD Rokkor-X was a little bit more difficult to focus because of the increased focal length. When zoomed in to fine focus, my hands couldn’t hold it very steady to get a good read on the focus. Another factor in the focusing difficulty could have been the result of the newer rubber focusing ring on the MD version. It is more difficult to work with compared with the old metal focusing ring.
Again, the before photo shows significant vignetting. If you maintain the 4:3 aspect ratio, you can crop the image slightly and apply a Lens Correction in Lightroom. The minimum focus distance on this camera is about seven feet on the 50R. If you prefer to shoot in a 3:2 aspect ratio, I think both the 28mm and 200mm lenses would work really well with even less cropping and Lens Correction.
200mm Minolta f/4 MD Rokkor-X @ f/4 | ISO 200 | 1/320 | Original (before)
200mm Minolta f/4 MD Rokkor-X @ f/4 | ISO 200 | 1/320 | Cropped, Lens Correction
Minolta 58mm F1.4 MC Rokkor @ f/2 | ISO 200 | 1/800, 1/1000
As you can probably tell, I am super thrilled with the results produced by the Minolta 58mm f/1.4 MC Rokkor lens on the Fujifilm GFX 50R! I feel like I am able to achieve an almost-film look with old lenses mounted on new camera technology. The separation at wide apertures is pretty impressive and it’s my personal belief that the characteristics of the Minolta lenses (with its flaws) create images that feel more authentic.
Oftentimes when I am shooting my ultra-sharp digital lenses like the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 ART, I find myself loving the separation it creates but not loving the more clinical, crisp, flawless look.
Minolta 58mm F1.4 MC Rokkor @ f/2 | ISO 200 | 1/1250
Ultimately, there are something like 30 different lens options that can be adapted to the Fujifilm GFX line of cameras. 35mm film lenses are a great option for those looking to take advantage of the wider aperture lenses. Medium format film lenses tend to be larger and have slower maximum apertures. The Minolta SR aka MC aka MD mount is serving me well so far and I can’t wait to create more work with them. Now, who needs some photos?
About the author: Neil Ta is a Toronto-based documentary, wedding, and commercial photographer. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can view his work on his portfolio or follow him on Instagram. This article was also published here.