February 5th, 2016

Great Weekend Reads in Photography and Filmmaking

Jon Westra | Flickr

Jon Westra | Flickr


“People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading.” ― Logan Pearsall Smith

How Photography Became a Modern ArtChristies

10 Myths About the Rule of ThirdsIPox Studios

How the NY Times Is Using Old Images to Tell Stories It MissedPoynter

Shooting and Editing a Huge Indian Wedding Using Just an iPhone – Rangefinder

The FAA’s Drone Registry Is a Privacy NightmareEngadget

11 Reasons Why Virtual Reality Still Stinks Mashable

Famed War Photographer Don McCullin on Risk, War & GuiltGlobe & Mail

One of the Most Radical, Daring Photo Expositions Ever Feature Shoot

The Putin of Chechnya’s Flair for InstagramNew Yorker

Craft Guild Nominations vs. the OscarsVariety

Want more links? Check out past Weekend Reads here.

February 5th, 2016

The Art of Photogenic Drawing: Photography Foretold


Photo history buffs should know the name Henry Fox Talbot, the British scientist and inventor and a progenitor of the photographic negative.

What they may not know is that the paper in which he describes his initial approach to what we’d now call photography–“Some Account on the Art of Photogenic Drawing”–was rushed to the Royal Society to preempt another paper, by Louis Daguerre, from establishing a precedent.

All this history and more is recounted in this interesting video from Objectivity. Host Brady Haran also surveys some of the most expensive photos in the world, housed by the UK’s storied Royal Society.

Hat tip: Michael Zhang

February 3rd, 2016

Sony Launches a6300 with Blazing Autofocus, 4K Recording


Sony is updating its best-selling a6000 mirrorless camera with the new a6300. The updated model boasts a new 24-megapixel APS-C-sized sensor and 425 phase detect autofocus points to help deliver what the company says is the fastest AF system in the world.

The 425 phase detect points are packed across the imaging area and work with a new technology that clusters AF points around a moving subject to ensure it stays sharply in focus. According to Sony, the camera can acquire focus in as little as 0.05 seconds.

The a6300 can shoot at 11 fps with AF engaged or at 8 fps through live view. The camera has a native ISO range of 100-51,200 and a 2.4-million dot OLED viewfinder.

On the video front, the camera records 4K internally with no pixel-binning. It offers S-Log and S-Gamut color profiles for greater dynamic range—up to 14 stops. It can also record Full HD at 120 fps.

There are nine customizable function buttons on the camera. It will also offer Wi-Fi and NFC and ships in March for $1,000 (body).

In announcing the a6300 in an event in New York, Sony executives, citing data from NPD Group, said that the a6000 was the best-selling mirrorless camera of all time. While the DSLR market has contracted, Sony has seen sales of its interchangeable lens cameras and, significantly, lenses, grow by double digits for the past three years.

Speaking of which, joining the a6300 is an entirely new line of premium E-mount lenses dubbed G Master.

There will be three lenses initially:

  • a 24-70mm f/2.8 GM ($2,200)
  • an 85mm f/1.4 GM lens ($1,800)
  • a 70-200mm f/2.8 GM (price to be determined)
  • a 1.3x and 2x teleconverter for the 70-200mm exclusively (price TBD).

The new lenses are developed to resolve high resolution images of the likes captured by Sony’s a7R II. They use newly developed extreme aspherical (XA) elements which not only help resolve detail but deliver more natural bokeh.


In fact, Sony spent a fair amount of effort researching and studying bokeh and its characteristics prior to the G Master launch and noted that when the shift from focus to defocus is “abrupt and artificial” it will not appear lifelike. That abrupt shift, Sony said, is due to a lack of precision in the elements and less than optimal positioning the elements.

According to Sony, the G Master lenses will be shaped to 100th of a micron surface precision to eliminate abrupt shifts in defocus characteristics so the falloff is more gentle and lifelike.

We had the opportunity to shoot with the new 85mm f/1.4 and the 24-70mm f/2.8 and will be posting samples below soon.


G Master 85mm f/1.4 Sample Images

The following were JPEGs taken on Sony’s a7R II.


f/1.4, 1/125

f/1.4/ 1/400

f/1.4/ 1/400

f/3.5, 1/250

f/3.5, 1/250


f/1.4, 1/500


f/1.4, 1/500


f/1.4, 1/320

f/4.5 1/125

f/4.5 1/125

G Master 24-70mm f/2.8 Sample Images

These were also shot on the a7R II.

f/2.8, 1/320, 24mm

f/2.8, 1/320, 24mm

f/2.8, 1/320, 70mm

f/2.8, 1/320, 70mm

f/2.8, 1/320, 70mm

f/2.8, 1/320, 70mm

February 1st, 2016

Canon’s EOS 1D X Mark II Records 4K, Shoots 14 FPS


Canon pulled back the curtain on its newest high-end DSLR, the 1D X Mark II, and while we’ll resist invoking Top Gun, speed is unquestionably the hallmark of the new full frame flagship.

The 1D X Mark II will deliver several major upgrades from the older model, including internal 4K video recording at up to 60p, a burst mode of up to 14 fps with AF engaged and a higher resolution image sensor.

Canon’s new flagship will boasts a new 20.2 megapixel full frame CMOS sensor with a native ISO range of 100 – 51,200 with expansion options for 50 and 409,600 available. A pair of DIGIC 6+ image processors give the camera some serious speed–the 1D X Mark II clocks in at up to 14 fps with AF engaged and up to 16fps in live view mode when shooting to the camera’s CFast memory card (there’s also a card slot for CompactFlash cards). When shooting in JPEG, the camera will keep bursting until you run out of memory space on your card. Switch to RAW, and you’ll be able to save up to 170 frames using CFast memory cards or 73 using a UDMA 7 class CF card.

As for video, Canon will deliver in-camera 4K recording (496 x 2160) at 60 fps in camera when recording to CFast. Full HD frame rates will top off at a motion-slowing 120 fps. There’s a built-in headphone jack for audio monitoring and a new 4K frame grab feature that lets you isolate 8.8-megapixel still images from your 4K video in the camera.

You’ll also find the company’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF system for continuous autofocusing during video recording. The 1D X Mark II will have a 3.2-inch touch screen display with touch-focusing capability, too, so you can touch a portion of the display during video recording to quickly change the focus point.

Speaking of autofocus, the 1D X Mark II has a new 61-point AF system with 41 cross-type points. All the AF points are selectable and supported to f/8. Canon said its tweaked its algorithms to deliver better accuracy in Servo (or continuous) mode and the AF points will now stay red in the camera’s viewfinder to better assist in composition.

The 1D X Mark II will have an internal digital lens optimizer feature that lets you fix optical aberrations in camera, rather than in software.



Additional features include:

  • weather-resistant build
  • built-in GPS
  • AF sensitivity in low light is now available down to EV -3 at the center AF point when the camera is set to One-Shot AF
  • 360,000-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor

There’s no built-in Wi-Fi, but the camera will work with the optional Wireless File Transmitter (WFT-E8) to enjoy 802.11ac speeds when sending images and videos to connected devices.

The 1D X Mark II body will sell for $5,999 and be available in April. It is available for pre-order now. Canon will also bundle a CFast card and card reader in a Premium Kit for $6,299.

Read More:

See how the 1D X Mark II compares to Nikon’s D5


February 1st, 2016

Canon’s 1D X Mark II vs. Nikon’s D5


With Canon’s launch of the 1D X Mark II and Nikon’s announcement of the D5, we now have the official specs for two of the industry’s most anticipated flagship full frame DSLRs. While we haven’t had a chance to test them yet, here’s how they compare on paper across some of the key metrics:

Image Sensor

Nikon D5: 20-megapixel CMOS

Canon 1D X Mark II20-megapixel CMOS


D5: 100-102,400 (native); ISO 3,280,000 expandable

1D X Mark II: 100-51,200 (native); ISO 409,600 expandable

Continuous Shooting

D5: 12 fps with AF; up to 200 RAW and/or JPEG frames using XQD cards; up to 14 fps in live view

1D X Mark II: 14 fps with AF; no limit on JPEGs, 170 RAW files to CFast; up to 16 fps in live view to CFast card


D5: 153 points with 99 cross points and 15 points supported to f/8

1D X Mark II: 61 points with 41 cross type, all points supported to f/8

Low Light Focusing

D5: -4 EV

1D X Mark II: -3 EV

Video Recording

D5: 3840 x 2160 @ 30p internal; Full HD @ 60p

1D X Mark II: 4096 x 2160 @ 60p internal; Full HD @ 120p


D5: USB 3

1D-X Mark II: Built-in GPS, USB 3


D5: One body version sells with two CF slots; another with faster XQD

1D X Mark II: One CFast and one CompactFlash card slot.


D5: 50 oz.

1D X Mark II: 54 oz.


D5: $6,500

1D X Mark II: $5,999

January 29th, 2016

Burundi Releases Photojournalist Phil Moore Without Charge

Authorities in Burundi have released photojournalist Phil Moore and Le Monde Africa bureau chief Jean Philippe Remy, French ambassador Gerrit Van Rossum told Agence France-Presse. The journalists were picked up in raids in Bujumbura on January 28 along with 15 other men, some of whom where deemed “armed criminals” by Burundi’s security ministry.

Earlier today the French foreign ministry, AFP, Le Monde and other media organizations demanded the journalists’ release in statements addressed to Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza.

Moore and Remy were in Burundi covering the violence between President Nkurunziza’s government and armed opposition groups. The conflict there continues to escalate, and United Nations and African Union officials have been urging Nkurunziza to allow an AU peacekeeping force into the country to prevent an ethnic conflict.

The ambassador said Moore’s camera equipment and Remy’s notebooks had not yet been returned to them.

Related: Photojournalist Phil Moore Arrested in Burundi

January 29th, 2016

Touring Exhibit Brings Robert Frank’s Work To Younger Generation

Robert Frank told the crowd at the opening of his new exhibition that having his work in a touring show is an opportunity to “have the photography come to life again.” The retrospective exhibition, “Robert Frank: Books and Films, 1947-2016,”  opened at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University last night,  and will also be on view at 50 universities, art schools, museums and other non-profit spaces worldwide throughout the year. The 91-year-old master photographer was accompanied by his wife, June Leaf, and renowned book publisher Gerhard Steidl. Steidl’s company, Steidl Verlag, organized the touring exhibition.


On stage from left to right: photographer Robert Frank, Tisch School of the Arts Dean Allyson Green, publisher Gerhard Steidl.

Frank—who left his home country of Switzerland for the United States in 1947 and captured post-war American society in his influential book The Americans, published in 1959 briefly answered questions provided by both Steidl and audience members. The show includes images from The Americans and other series Frank has made throughout his career, personal correspondence with curators and editors, and reproductions of contact sheets, showing images he selected by circling them with a red grease pencil. Frank said the photos included in the show “make you really think back about life… it can be better to look forward, but I’m happy to see the photographs live again and to be appreciated,” he said. Frank, whose documentary work and artistic experimentations have influenced generations of photographers noted, “Sometimes a photograph can live longer because it becomes an image that lives in people’s minds and they remember it. That probably is the best thing about my photography and I’m here to say thank you, and come again.” Steidl said the show “is for younger generations” less familiar with Frank’s work.


Included in the exhibition are contact sheets from Frank’s travels across the U.S., with selected images marked.

As the exhibition tours the U.S., each venue will receive its own set of exhibition prints. At NYU, where the show is on view through February 11, the images, printed on three-meter-long banners, are unframed and stuck to the walls. By agreement with Frank, all the paper banners are to be disposed of after display to ensure that none of the images are sold or re-used.

In looking back on the decisions he has made, Frank said, “America is the country that has given me encouragement. It’s the place to be. For me, it worked out that way….it might not be this way today for many young people, but at that time it definitely was and [I am thankful] to be here and look at all the people who come to see the work.”

January 29th, 2016

Great Weekend Reads in Photography and Filmmaking

quattrostagioni | Flickr

quattrostagioni | Flickr

“Think before you speak. Read before you think.” ― Fran Lebowitz

Photojournalism and the Middle East – Lens Culture

Keep it Simple: The Life of Magnum’s Dark Room Printer Gup

The Quandary of the Unreliable Narrator Documentary.org

Two Takes on Virtual Reality FilmmakingPost

The Master of All Photo TradesRangefinder

How Birth of a Nation Became Sundance’s Biggest SaleWired

Kodak’s Old School Response to DisruptionNew Yorker

Photography as ProvocationThe Economist

Funding and Distributing a Full-Length Documentary – PDN

Not enough? Find past weekend reads here.

January 29th, 2016

Update: Photojournalist Phil Moore Arrested in Burundi

British photojournalist Phil Moore was arrested early Thursday morning in a police raid in Bujumbura, Burundi, according to reports. 17 other people, including Le Monde Africa bureu chief Jean Philippe Remy, were also detained in raids that swept through two neighborhoods in the capital.

“The two foreigners were arrested in the company of armed criminals,” Burundi’s security ministry said, according to Agence France-Presse. The report also quoted police spokesman Moise Nkurunziza, who said the journalists “have not been charged” and would be released “If there is no evidence against them.”

Burundi is the focus of international concern as violence between President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government and armed opposition groups continues to escalate following Nkurunziza’s decision in April 2015 to seek a third term. Nkurunziza won a disputed election in July. United Nations and African Union officials have been urging Nkurunziza to allow an AU peacekeeping force into the country to prevent an ethnic conflict.

Moore has been covering the situation in Burundi since the violence began last April. Before his arrest, Moore tweeted, “Several young men rounded up and questioned by police in Jabe neighbourhood of Bujumbura, Burundi, following gunshots last night.”

UPDATE: On Friday the French government, Agence France-Presse and Le Monde demanded the release of both journalists.”I call on Burundi’s authorities to proceed with their immediate release. Diplomatic procedures are underway,” said French foreign minister Laurent Fabius in a statement. In a separate statement addressed to President Nkurunziza, AFP chairman Emmanuel Hoog said, “There is no justification for the arrest of these two experienced reporters who are widely respected in the profession. We ask you, Mr President, to immediately intervene to obtain the release of these two reporters and to take all the necessary steps to ensure their safety”

January 28th, 2016

Update: Obama Administration Calls for Copyright Small Claims Courts, Embraces “Vibrant Fair Use”

copyright copy_350An Obama administration task force has come out in support of “a vibrant fair use space” that allows  “the broad range of remixes to thrive.” At the same time, the task force supports “effective licensing structures” and is calling for the “creation of a streamlined procedure for adjudicating small claims of copyright infringement.”

The recommendations are from the US Department of Commerce’s Internet Policy Task Force, and  appeared in a publication released today called “White Paper on Remixes, First Sale, and Statutory Damages.” The purpose of the task force is to ensure that copyright policy continues to provide incentive for creativity as the digital economy changes how people communicate, create, innovate and conduct business.

The task force defines “remixes” as “works created through changing and combining existing works to produce something new and creative” and notes that remixes are part of a trend of user-generated content “that has become a hallmark of the internet.”

The task force asserts that “remixes make valuable contributions to society in providing expressive, political, and entertainment content.” But it says it is not calling calling for amendments to copyright law that would create a specific exception or a compulsory license for remix uses. Instead, the task force offers recommendations “that would make it easier for remixers to understand when a use is fair and to obtain licenses when they wish to do so.” Read the rest of this entry »