iPhone 6 Plus Camera first Impressions

iPhone 6 Plus Camera first Impressions

I recently upgraded my phone to an iPhone 6 plus (from an iPhone 5) and I was curious to see what the camera was like, especially with Apple's recent publicity on the matter. I was out in the city today for a little while so I decided to try it out. I didn't spend too much time with it, so I don't really have any major opinions as to the quality yet, but instead here are some images that I shot, and some observations on using it.

Trying out a Friend’s Nikon D800

Trying out a Friend’s Nikon D800

Recently I had an opportunity to try out a friends Nikon D800 and I’ve been wanting to write about the experience ever since. I realise that the D800 is a few years old now and has been superseded by the D810, but as the camera is selling for quite a reasonable rate second hand now, I thought some people may still be interested. This isn’t going to be a review as such, but rather a personal take on what it was like to use it. 

Apple's Retina iMac and Photography

Apple's Retina iMac and Photography

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a piece about what the then rumoured 5K iMac would mean that for photographers, and how you would now be pixel peeping on such a display even just looking at images. It was sort of a tongue in cheek piece, but now that the Retina iMac is real, I thought it would be important to have another look at the implications of a 5k display for photographers. If you're considering one of these new iMacs (I know I am !) then there are a few things you may want to ponder first!

The Large Sensor Compact Market Gets Interesting

New Offerings from Panasonic and Canon at Photokina

This year's Photokina exhibit in Germany is shaping up to be very interesting, especially if you are into the high end compact camera market. With smart phones obliterating the low end of the compact camera market, manufacturers have been looking at the high end as an alternative way to keep the segment alive. So far the leaders in this space have been Sony with the RX100 line and Fuji with it's X30 (and previously X20, and X10). There have been other high end compacts of course, but the it was the RX100 in particular that generated the most interest with its large 1 inch sensor. Well, it now has some interesting competition.

Panasonic LX100

The first is Panasonic with its gorgeous looking new and cryptically named LX100. This is a new high end iteration of Panasonic's LX series of premium compacts. The design is reminiscent of the company's 10 year old, but still a classic LC1 four thirds camera (before it went to micro four thirds) The new camera has a 4:3 sized sensor with 16megapixels, although it uses Panasonic's multi aspect ratio sensor technology, so it's really only 12mp. It also has retro-styled physical controls, a very high quality EVF and a superbly specced zoom lens. The lens has a 35mm equivalent focal length of 24-75mm at an amazing F1.7 - F2.8. This is really impressive for a small camera. The real killer feature though can be found in the video specification. The diminutive panasonic shoots 4K Video. Yep, you read that right. And the quality seems to be pretty good too, although I can't find any details of the bit rate used when recording 4K.

A cinematographer Benjaminn Todd captured the city of Berlin in 4K with the new LUMIX LX100. 

I actually have a history with Panasonic cameras. In fact have three of them. My first was one of the early cameras in the LX line, the LX-2 which is still considered a classic. At the time it's claim to fame was a high quality lens, which it certainly had, and a larger than average sensor (again, at the time). It was a good little camera for it's day, and was highly regarded, although it doesn't really stand up to today's cameras.

Check out DP Review's in depth hands on preview for more details.

Canon G7 X

Canon has also come out with a large sensor high end compact camera, and it too is looking pretty impressive spec wise. It features a 20mp 1 inch sensor, whose specifications are eerily similar to the sensor in Sony's RX100 line.

Canon's compact offering is in a smaller body than Panasonic's (at least it looks that way from the photos) and offers a longer range zoom lens, and a tilting screen. The lens is a 24-100mm equivalent, at f/1.8-2.8. The camera has less physical controls than the panasonic and lacks an EVF but it does have a very useful built in ND filter. Canon have posted a nice little video showcasing the new camera's capabilities.

Time Lapse and Hyperlapse photographer Matthew Vandeputte goes to Queenstown, NZ to explore the creative potential of the PowerShot G7X - a new generation of Canon compact cameras.

Funnily enough, I have a history with Canon compact cameras too. My very first compact camera was a Canon Ixus. I bought it while on holidays in France one year. (A long time ago) and I still have some of the images I took with it. Again, not great by today's standards, but it was a lovely little camera for its day. I've always liked Canon's compacts thought. The newer ones have really nice colour rendition, so I'm curious to see this once it gets into the hands of real world photographers.

Once again, DP Review has a good article looking at the camera.

The Wildcard

The real wildcard of the recently announced cameras was from panasonic, and it wasn't technically a camera, it's a phone. Panasonic announced the Lumix DMC-CM1 smartphone with a 1 inch sensor and an f/2.8 Leica 28mm equivalent lens. Once again, it seems to be another use of the magical 1 inch 20mp sensor that everyone seems to be using. All this is crammed into a very slim package. It's android powered and has a 4.7 inch 1080p screen (impressive for a camera, and a phone)

It will be interesting to see how this fares in the real world. Spec wise it's impressive, but things like battery life and usability will play a big factor. Still, a smartphone with a 1 inch sensor !!!!

See this story on Tech Crunch for more details.

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Nikon Releases the D750, Some thoughts

Nikon's Latest Full Frame DSLR adds Wifi and Tiltable Screen

After many rumours predicting its existence, Nikon has officially released the D750. The camera, as expected sits between the D610 and the D810 in Nikon's lineup, but is aimed more towards the higher end than the lower end. As DpReview points out, this is Nikon's third full frame camera release this year. The camera features many of the features of the D810, but in a smaller (d610 sized) and Lighter body. It retains the D810's autofocus and video options but adds built in wifi and a tilt-able screen.

When I first heard the rumours about the D750 I was excited as it seemed like it could finally be a possible replacement for my much loved D700. So now that it's been released do I think it can fill the legendary D700's preverbal shoes? I think for the most part, yes. In typical fashion though, there seems to be a few odd omissions, that may or may not put you off. These are all small things, but for some people they could be an issue. There's lots to like though.

First of all, it adds the option to set the centre button of the control dial to zoom to 1:1 on playback, which for me is a huge timesaver that I've grown so used to. I'm still at a loss as to why Nikon uses such an arbitrary function to differentiate its "pro" cameras from its "consumer" models. The D610 for example doesn't have this, yet clearly it's just a software function.

One odd omission on the D750 seems to be the lack of an AF-ON button, which was present on the D700, and is also on the D810. For me this isn't a deal breaker, but for photographers who use the rear button focusing method, this could be a big issue. The AF-L button can be re-assigned for focus on, but it's odd that they choose to leave this feature off what they're calling a "pro" body. I thought that maybe it was a space issue, but then it's on the much smaller Nikon Df. Personally, I don't think I've ever pressed that button once on my D700.

The camera get's the D810's video specifications, which are all good on paper, but until it gets into the hands of experienced film makers, it will be hard to tell how good it is. It all comes down to the level of aliasing and moire that are inherent on the new (maybe) sensor. As usual though, Nikon's video options, while improved over previous generations, are still crippled by a low bit rate. At least you can record uncompressed 4:2:2 out of the HDMI, but many people would prefer a higher quality in-camera codec and bit rate. Compared to Sony's recently released A7S for video, well, there's just no comparison. Bet then the is more than just a video camera.

Body wise, I'm not a huge fan of the D7000 style control layout that the D600 series and now the D750 is using. According to DPReview the body is made of a magnesium alloy and is much stronger feeling and lighter than the D610 so that's a good step. To me, the D700's control layout was the pinnacle of ergonomic design, and it's a real shame that Nikon has moved away from that. Even the high end D810 doesn't have as nice a control layout as the D700/D300. Of course, I'm splitting hairs here and at the end of the day, you'll get used to a new control layout quickly enough.

The flip up screen is a real boon, especially if you are using the camera for video, and even if you just want to take low down shots without having to contort yourself into odd angles to see the viewfinder. The wifi is another nice feature to have, especially if you want to post an image to a social network or sharing site while you're on the road, or even send a quick proof to a client when all you have is your iPhone (or Android, although apparently if you're a windows phone user you're out of Luck.) The Dual SD card slots is another handy feature to have.

So would I upgrade? I'm tempted, I have to say. While I love mirrorless, I do like the look that full frame gives you. (And yes, there is a difference despite what some would try to have you believe). I also love a good optical view finder. I'm torn however, between sticking with a DSLR as my main camera or going all in and switching to the Sony A7 series. I was closer to a decision until my Nex-7 died recently, which makes me question Sony's longevity.

Overall the D750 is a good solid release, but part of me can't help but feel that Nikon has been playing lego with its camera parts lately. It's like it lays all its components out on a table and then picks ones from each line to make a new model. I know that's cynical comment to make, and certainly, they aren't the only ones that can be accused of that. At least they're coming out with new models unlike some other manufacturers. At the end of the day, as with all cameras, you can't judge it by just the specs. You need to get a feel for it, see it and use it in real life. The D750 certainly has the specs, so the rest will have to wait until the camera is out in the real world.

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I am a fine art Photographer and do not shoot commercial projects. I do my best to keep this site regularly updated with lots of tips, reviews, news and photography advice, all for free. If you like what you read here and want more, then sign up for our newsletter to get regular site updates and occasional special offers. You can also follow my photographic exploits on Facebook and Twitter

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2 Quick Tips That May Help You Get Sharper Images on the Fuji X-E1

Over the months of shooting with my little Fuji I’ve discovered two things that can really help you get sharper pictures. While Fuji’s x-trans sensor and the excellent x-series of lenses generally produce sharp images, there are times when there are circumstances that may make for soft images, that aren’t necessarily bad technique on the part of the photographer. These tips may work for other cameras too, although the first one is specific to Fuji’s cameras.

Change the focus point size

I’ve found that occasionally when I take a shot, the focus can be ever so slightly out. At first I thought that I was either doing something wrong or I was going mad. However, putting the focus point over a clearly defined area of an image and focussing, would often result in an image that was slightly soft. At first I thought that this was just the way the camera rendered, until I was looking back at some photos from my older X-Pro1 and realised that they didn’t have this softness, so I figured something was wrong. I put the camera on a tripod and focussed on an easy to define point, then switched to manual focus and zoomed in on the LCD. Sure enough, it was slightly out and could be fixed by manually tweaking the focus.

There’s there’s no micro adjustments available in the camera that I’m aware of, (and also, contrast detect auto focus is generally devoid of alignment errors) I’m not talking a huge amount either, it’s only very slight, but it can result in a slightly soft image. There is a very simple solution however. All I did was shrink the focus point size and hey presto, the focus is now properly aligned.

If you’re unsure how to do this, the process is really simple. Just press the AF button on the bottom left of the rear of the camera and turn the control wheel on the back near the top right. This will enlarge and shrink the size of the focus point. In my experience, a smaller point works best. Here’s a short little video showing you how to do it. (Apologies for the audio quality)

The other thing this is useful for is for shooting in low light. If you’re having trouble locking focus, increasing the sample size seems to help a great deal.

I don’t know if this is just my specific camera or if this affects all models. I don’t think it’s necessarily a fault, but more of a function of the way it works. The newer Fuji’s have phase detection points on the sensor, so they may not have any similar focus alignment idiosyncrasies. Still, if you think your images are soft, you might want to try this trick.

Reducing Vibration

The other factor that can effect image sharpness has to do with the small size of the body, and can be a potential issue on any small camera . I noticed that in some cases, when shooting hand held, my photos would exhibit camera shake, even when my selected settings should avoid it. This was occurring even when the shutter speed was high, certainly high enough to avoid camera shake, but I was still occasionally getting slight motion blur on the images. I put this down to the fact that the body on the X-E1 is incredibly light. I find that for me it can feel unbalanced, especially with larger lenses on. To be fair, this isn’t just a fuji problem, it’s a potential issue with any mirrorless or small camera, especially the lighter ones.

I think because the body is so light and the lens unbalances the camera away from a natural centre of gravity, that this causes minor vibration when the shutter fires. I could of course be completely wrong, which I’m sure people will let me know once I post this (that and how this is entirely my own fault.) Luckily the solution was really easy. I was planning on getting a third party grip or case to add weight, but I found that if I left the quick release plate from my (manfrotto) tripod on the bottom of the camera this little bit of extra weight was enough to help with the balance and stop the vibration. Now, I’m no longer getting motion blur on images taken at a reasonable shutter speed.

I hope these little tips have been useful. The Fuji X-E1 s a great camera, and so I hope it is understood that I’m only posting these tips to help anyone who may be having similar issues, and they’re not intended as a criticism.

Incidentally, speaking of the X-E1, the camera is selling amazingly cheaply on the second hand market right now. I found one at a local camera store for €499, with the kit lens. If you’re looking for a good inexpensive way to dip your toe into Fuji’s X-System, keep an eye out for bargins.

Nikon D750? Finally, A Successor to the D700?

Nikon Rumors posted an interesting little tid-bit today, that I have to say has me quite excited. For some time now they have been reporting on the rumour that Nikon are to announce a new full frame DSLR at Photokina, but other information has been somewhat sketchy. Well, today, the site said that they’re pretty sure that the name of this mysterious new DSLR will be the D750. This little nugget sent ripples through the community of D700 lovers out there (present company included) as we’ve been waiting for a spiritual successor to the D700 ever since it was released, over 5 years ago now. (2008)

You’re probably thinking, wait, wasn’t the D800, and D810 the successor to the D700? Well, technically, yes, but for many D700 owners, the D80X (D800, D800E, D810) series was a different camera altogether targeted at a different market. The D80X cameras seem primarily aimed at the studio and landscape market, whereas the D700 was always a more general purpose camera. Then there’s the D600/D610. Apart from the infamous dust issue, the bigger problem with this camera, at least for D700 owners is that it’s not a pro body. Now, before you think that’s just us being elitist, it’s not. Nikon delineates it’s pro and consumer bodies by the layout of buttons, on camera controls and functions. Consumer bodies have one layout, and pro bodies have a different one. The D610 is lacking several controls and functions (some entirely just an arbitrary software decision - such as setting the set button to view at 1:1 on playback) , that D700 owners love and use on a regular basis. The control layout is one of the things people love about the D700.

Then there was the DF. When the viral campaign for the DF was running, some of us hoped that it would finally be the D700 replacement, if not in name, at least in spirit. It came so close. One of the things that made the D700 so popular was the fact that it was essentially a D3 in a smaller body. The DF uses the same sensor as the D4 so there’s that, but the rest of the camera is just odd. The controls are odd, and the price is odd, and well pretty much everything about it is odd. I’m sure there are lots of people out there who have a DF and love it. I almost considered one, but there were just too many weird things about how you use it. For example the fact that you have to do some finger gymnastics just to change the exposure compensation while shooting, meant that for me it just wasn’t something I would enjoy using.

As a company Nikon hasn’t been doing too well lately. Some have put this down to the company’s failure to fully embrace the mirrorless market, but I don’t know. I think it’s simpler than that. Look at the examples above. Over the past few years since the D700, Nikon has released 5 full frame DSLRs The D800, The D600, The D610 ,the D810 and the DF (not including the Pro Level D4 and D4s) and yet none of these were a real successor to one of its most successful cameras, the D700. Nikon’s full frame DSLR range has become fragmented. It’s as if they just don’t know what to do with that end of the market.

I love my D700. Despite the fact that it’s my one of my oldest and lowest megapixel cameras, it’s still my favourite to use. It’s a combination of the beautiful image files the camera generates and the almost perfect handling. There’s just something about it, and that’s why many D700 owners like myself really love the camera. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have a higher megapixel version or one that shoots video, but none of the Nikon full frame cameras that have come a long in the mean time are my cup of tea. And while I will use my Canon 5D II whenever I need those functions, I still find myself going back to the D700. Some of my most popular and in my opinion my best photos were taken on the D700. The photos from my Paris book were all taken with the D700. I guess there’s no real rationale for it, but in my opinion it’s just a great camera. It feels like a film camera. It’s solid and a workhorse, and yet everything is intuitive, and physical. It’s hard to explain.

So hopefully the suits at Nikon have finally seen the light and decided that maybe they were on to something 4 years ago and maybe instead of going in all sorts of different directions at once, they might finally give users of one of their most popular cameras a real successor, and regain the excitement that people had for the device.

At the moment of course the D750 is just a name, and a rumour, and so we could well be disappointed, but I for one live in hope.

Or maybe that should be denial.

(Yes, this post is a bit tongue in cheek, so try and not take it too seriously! The D810 and D610 are great cameras in their own right - I’m not dissing them, and the DF, well, it’s unique anyway. ;-) )

[UPDATE] It's been released!

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Fujifilm Releases XF18-135mm Weather Sealed Lens


It’s been rumoured for a while but this morning Fujifilm officially announced the first X-Series weather sealed lens, the XF18–135mm. This new super-zoom covers a wide shooting range of 27mm wide-angle to 206mm telephoto equivalent, and Fuji is billing it as “Professional Grade”. The lens also features a new advanced image stabilisation engine for an incredible 5 stop image stabilisation. It is also dust proof and features weather sealing, for use with the XT–1.

This new lens is something that many photographers have wanted for the XT–1 for some time. The long focal range makes it an ideal walking around lens, and perfect for Travel photography when you need to travel light. Fuji claims that it will be a high performance lens too. From the press release:

Sharpness and rich contrast from the wide-angle to the telephoto, high-performance glass including 4 aspherical glass lenses and 2 ED glass lenses has been used. Multi-layer HT-EBC, which has high permeability (99.8%) and low reflectance (0.2%), is applied to the entire lens to effectively reduce lens flare and ghosting, which often occur in backlight conditions. Utilising the wide zoom range of the lens, there is more freedom in composition and selecting angles.


There are lots of other interesting features of this new XF18–135 lens too, including:

  • Fast Autofocus: Fuji claims that its inner focus mechanism and linear motor technology are capable of delivering a maximum focus time of 0.10sec. when used in combination with the X-T1 and X-E2.
  • 5.0 Stop Stabilisation: This is apparently achieved using a new high-precision gyro sensor with quartz oscillators which detect movement from high frequency to low frequency bandwidths.
  • Weather Sealing: The weather resistance has been achieved by sealing 20 different locations on the lens barrel and also including special ventilated areas of the lens which prevent dust being sucked into the barrel when zooming.

Specifications (Via Fuji)

Name FUJINON LENS XF18-135mmF3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR
Lens configuration 16 elements in 12 groups
(4 aspherical elements and 2 ED lenses)
Focal length f=18-135mm
(35mm format equivalent: 27-206mm)
Angle of view 76.5°- 12°
Maximum aperture F3.5-5.6
Minimum aperture F22
Aperture control Number of blades: 7 (rounded diaphragm opening)
Step size: 1/3 step (17 steps)
Focus range Normal: 0.6m - ∞
Macro: 0.45m - ∞
Maximum magnification 0.27×
External dimensions:
Maximum diameter X length (approx.)
(distance from tip to standard mount flange)
φ75.7mm × 97.8mm (Wide-angle) / 158mm (Tele)
Weight (approx.)
(excluding lens cap and hood)
Filter size φ67mm

Image Samples & More Details

You can see full resolution samples of the new XF18–135 mm lens over on Fujifilm’s product information page. I have to say, they look pretty impressive.

The Lens will retail for $899 and is available for pre-order from B&H Photo now.

Rico Pfirstinger has a first look at the lens over on Fuji Rumors.

Please Help Support This Site

I am a fine art Photographer and do not shoot commercial projects. I do my best to keep this site regularly updated with lots of tips, reviews, news and photography advice, all for free. If you like what you read here and want to help support the site, then please consider buying a Print, checking out my Lightroom Presets

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Video: "Sakura" Cherry Blossoms in Stephen's Green


I've been fascinated by Cherry trees for a long time. I love the beautiful delicate flowers that bloom for only the most fleeting of times. In Dublin we have quite a few trees about the city, but in St. Stephen's Green park in the centre of the capital there are some beautiful and large trees. I've been photographing them for many years, but this season I wanted to capture the delicate movements as the branches danced in the wind. I've also been a bit obsessed with Japan and Japanese culture lately too, and I love the traditions surrounding Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) and so I wanted to pay tribute to the Japanese traditions, spirituality and heritage of these beautiful flowers and trees in the video too.

Technical Details: This was shot on a Canon 5D Mark II using the "Prolost" settings. I also got to try out my excellent safari Tripod properly for the first time. Having a proper fluid head tripod for video makes all the difference in the world, and the Safari Tripod is great because it's small, light and cheap, but still has proper levelling controls and it's a proper fluid head even though it's small meaning you can do very smooth motions. The video was edited in Premiere Pro CC, and exported as an XML sequence to Davinci Resolve Light for colour grading. Once finished, I rendered the sequence back to Premiere for finishing, and then exported the final finished sequence as a relatively high bit rate H264 MP4 for uploading to Vimeo.

Please Support this Site If you like this video, I have lots more on Vimeo and YouTube, and I'd be grateful if you could subscribe to my YouTube channel or follow me on Vimeo. Also, don't forget to sign up for the upcoming Newsletter. I'm still in the enrolment phase and the first issue will be going out soon.