January 15th, 2016

What Makes a Photographer?

Smartphones have made picture-taking and images abundant commodities. But has this glut encroached on the art and craft of photography? Ken Van Sickle doesn’t think so. In this short interview with PBS, the New York-based photographer offers his thoughts on what it means to be a photographer today.

“What a great photographer does is, they are consistently able to make something in a style that’s personal to themselves,” he says.


January 14th, 2016

X Marks the Spot: Fujifilm Preps Several New X-Series Cams for Feb Launch


February will be a good month for Fujifilm fans as the company plans to ship several new cameras, including a new flagship in its X-series and a new telephoto zoom lens.


The rangefinder-style X-Pro2 (pictured above) sports a hybrid viewfinder that can switch between an optical and electronic view, a 24.3-megapixel APS-C-sized X-Trans CMOS III image sensor and new processor that’s four times faster than conventional imaging processing engines. The hybrid viewfinder is similar to the one that debuted in the X100, only it’s more functional. It has a Multi-Magnification function that automatically switches viewfinder magnification according to the lens in use and an Electronic Rangefinder that simultaneously displays the electronic viewfinder on top of the optical viewfinder. It has a resolution of 2.36-million dots with a refresh rate of 85 frames per second.

Thanks to its speedy new processor, the X-Pro2 starts up in 0.4 seconds, has a shooting interval of 0.25 seconds, a shutter time lag of 0.05 seconds, and autofocus speeds as fast as 0.06 seconds.

The  X-Pro2 uses a new autofocus (AF) system with 273 AF points, 77 of which are phase detection covering roughly 40 percent of the imaging area. The end result is an AF speed that’s two times faster than the prior model, Fujifilm says. Continuous shooting clocks in at 8 fps.

Additional features include:

  • ISO 12,800 extendable to 100 and 51,200
  • Full HD video recording at up to 60p
  • A Bright Frame Simulation function in the optical viewfinder mode so the angle of view of each focal length can be confirmed without having to replace the lens
  • Dual SD card slots with the first slot compatible with the UHS-II speed specification
  • Weather resistant build with 61 points of weather sealing
  • Six programmable function buttons
  • New focus lever to select focus points
  • New graphical user interface which Fujifilm says will have up to 32 user-selectable shortcuts
  • Mechanical shutter speeds of up to 1/8,000 sec.
  • New Grain Effect mode
  • New monochrome ACROS film simulation that delivers, in Fuji’s words, smooth tones, deep blacks and rich textures
  • Wi-Fi

You’ll pay $1,700 for the X-Pro2 (body) and it’s expected to ship in February.


The XPro2 wasn’t the only item on Fuji’s agenda. The company also announced the X-E2S, another mirrorless rangefinder-style camera that won’t command as much of a premium.

The X-E2S uses a 16-megapixel APS-C-sized X-Trans II CMOS sensor and features real-time viewfinder with a magnification of 0.62X and an electronic viewfinder with, Fuji says, the world’s short display lag time of 0.005 seconds.

The camera boasts a scratch-resistant 3-inch display, Full HD video recording up to 60p and an electronic shutter for shooting at up to 1/32,000. It features a new  AF system with a 49-point Single Point mode and  Zone and Wide/Tracking modes with a 77-point area to better freeze moving subjects. (Owners of the original X-E2S won’t be left out in the cold, a firmware update available here will deliver a similar AF system plus a new menu and several other improvements.)

Additional features include:

  • Wi-Fi
  • A maximum ISO of 51,200
  • Seven customizable function buttons
  • Fast AF of up to 0.06 seconds
  • Start-up time of 0.5 seconds
  • Shutter time lag of 0.05 seconds
  • Shooting interval of 0.5 seconds

The X-E2S ships in February with a body-only price of $700.

x70_front side_silver

Finally, Fuji announced a fixed-lens member of the X family in the X70. It sports a fixed 18.5mm f/2.8 lens (28mm equivalent) Fujinon lens and is the first in the X-series to sport a 3-inch touchscreen. The display rotates up to 180 degrees and supports touch focusing. The camera features a 16.3-megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS II sensor and will have the same autofocusing features as the X-E2S.

The X70 features:

  • ISO performance up to a maximum 51200
  • Eight function buttons, one of which is customizable
  • Electronic shutter capable of exposures up to 1/32,000 second
  • Digital teleconverter mode for focal ranges of 35mm and 50mm
  • Full HD video at 60p
  • Wi-Fi

The X70 will sell for $700.

The X-series will also have a new telephoto lens in the XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR, delivering a 35mm equivalent focal length of 152-609mm.

Like other models in the family, it’s weather-sealed and uses ED and Super ED lens elements to help reduce chromatic aberration. Its stabilization system is CIPA rated for up to 5 stops of correction and there’s a flourine coating on the front lens element to make the lens easier to clean. The included lens hood has a sliding window for filters.

It will retail for $1,900.

January 14th, 2016

How Nikon Plans to Make Transferring Images to Your Phone Easier Than Ever


While the D5 and D500 understandably took top billing, Nikon made another announcement at CES that’s worth highlighting.

That news is an update to the company’s SnapBridge wireless image transfer technology.

The new SnapBridge takes advantage of Bluetooth Low Energy, a wireless technology designed to maximize power consumption for tiny connected devices (the so-called “Internet of Things”). With Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), both your smartphone and your Nikon camera will stay connected, allowing image transfers from camera-to-phone to occur automatically and in real time.

Unlike the original SnapBridge, a user won’t have to manually initiate an image transfer to a mobile device–those will now happen as you shoot. You won’t lose Internet access on your mobile device while you shoot, either, so you can post images to social media as they populate your camera roll. Basically, BLE keeps the connection between camera and smartphone live and when it’s time to actually start transferring data, the connection switches to standard Bluetooth for better bandwidth, then back to BLE when you’re done.

You’ll only need to configure you camera and mobile device once, then it will be automatically recognized after that. You can pair up to five devices to a single camera.

To take advantage of the new SnapBridge, you’ll need to have the free SnapBridge app (iOS and Android) on your phone. The application allows you to key in image info (copyright, text and logos) as well remotely view your scene and activate your camera’s shutter.

By default, SnapBridge sends images as 2-megapixel JPEGs to your device, but you can also opt to wirelessly send full-sized JPEGs to your phone/tablet as well. It also takes time and location data from your mobile device and syncs it to the camera, so your camera settings are always aligned with the local time zone.

Nikon said that the updated SnapBridge technology will be rolled out to “almost every” Nikon camera in 2016, starting with the D500.

Get all the photo and filmmaking news from CES 2016.


January 12th, 2016

Opinion: What CES 2016 Tells Us About the (Bright) Future of Photography

Ask any market analyst for their take on the digital camera business, and you’ll get pretty much the same story of an industry in decline.

According to Chris Chute, Research Director at IDC, camera makers shipped roughly 39 million units in 2015. In their heyday, digital camera sales exceeded 100 million. Arun Gill at the research firm Futuresource Consulting, charts a similarly sharp decline, with sales falling from 73.6 million units in 2013 to 38 million in 2015. Both analysts see more contraction on the horizon.

But broaden the frame, and photography is arguably as vibrant as ever. If there was a major theme to CES 2016, it was surely photography and filmmaking.

It just looked like this:

And this:

And also this:

Alongside the mainstay of traditional cameras announcements (which were innovative in their own right), there were dozens of cameras that could fly, record completely spherical images, create three dimensional virtual reality videos, or go just about anywhere and survive just about anything. 

Photographers and filmmakers have arguably never had so many novel tools at their disposal as they do today.

“I think we’re on the brink of a major change in how we think about photography,” says Pentax President Jim Malcolm. Whereas photography and filmmaking had always been about cropping out visual information to fit a given frame, the new wave of spherical cameras that will hit the market in force in 2016 are all about capturing everything in view.

“When you capture everything, you can create anything,” Malcolm says. In this environment, the composition–what a photographer chooses to frame–can occur after the fact, especially as the technology and resolution behind spherical cameras improve.

Whether spherical imaging and virtual reality represent a genuine sea-change remains to be seen (and we explore that subject in more depth here), but there was undoubtedly a lot of interest, new products and enthusiasm for it at CES.

And while storytelling technology evolves, let’s not forget what else happened at CES.

We enter 2016 with both an explosion in new forms of photography and filmmaking technology and a rejuvenated interest in analog. Truly, these are interesting times.

January 12th, 2016

Preserve the Moment: A Photo Contest Sponsored by Moment and Preservation & Creation™


Here’s what happens when two brands, with similar missions, come together. Moment, known for equipping photographers with the best mobile lenses on the market, has joined with Preservation & Creation, makers of premium photo print products, to celebrate the art of photography.

At Moment and Preservation & Creation we share a mutual appreciation and passion for the process behind exceptional photography and the tangible prints it creates. Moment lenses make it possible to get perfect shots without lugging traditional camera equipment around. While Preservation & Creation creates photo prints, books, and canvases that Preserve the Unforgettable™ moments captured.

With so much in common it only made sense to bring our two worlds together. That’s where Preserve the Moment was born—a photo contest that challenges photographers to pick & submit their best moment photo of 2015.

10 winners will be chosen based on the most liked photos and announced via email and facebook on January 26, 2016. To enter simply submit your favorite photo from this past year for a chance to win $100 to spend in the Preservation & Creation shop on custom photo products—plus, a Moment lens in your choice of wide, tele, or macro—made for iPhone, Android & Nexus phones.

Enter to win at http://bit.ly/1RHfMep

January 12th, 2016

Twitter Will Now Autoplay Periscope Broadcasts

twitter periscope

Photographers like Chase Jarvis and Jeremy Cowart have been major proponents of the Twitter-owned live streaming app Periscope, using it to reach and educate their followers.

Today, Twitter said that it would deepen the integration of the two service by bringing Periscope broadcasts — both live and replays — directly into Tweets.

These broadcasts will only be viewable in Twitter’s iOS app to start and will autoplay when the user scrolls over them (whereas before, they had only be accessible through a link). A Periscope broadcast can be expanded to full screen by tapping on it, where a user will also view comments and hearts. You don’t need the Periscope app or a Periscope account to view these broadcasts in Twitter’s iOS app.

Periscope has seen over 100 million live broadcasts since its launch.

Read More:

How Photographers Are Using Periscope

How Many Hashtags Should You Use on Instagram?

Using This Instagram App? Delete It

How Photographers With Huge Followings Grew Their Social Networks

This Is the Most Liked Photo on Instagram

January 11th, 2016

Spotted @ CES 2016: Your Photos on Coffee

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 1.34.25 PMLet’s face it, there’s no greater way to consume photography than with coffee. And there’s no better way to consume coffee than with your photography on it.

That’s the premise behind the Ripple Maker, a $1,000 coffee maker that “prints” images and text using coffee extract and the foam atop your latte or cappuccino. The company hit CES with a new app that lets users upload their own personal images to a Ripple for printing/consumption.

The app is free and available now for iOS devices. An Android version is due in February. The app lets you send images from your camera roll, with the ability to edit, scale and add text before it’s printed. You can also select from the Ripple content library if your own images aren’t cutting it. The app tracks your location so is able to alert you to any nearby coffee shops that are using the Ripple machine.

Unfortunately, you can’t own your own Ripple Maker. The company that produces it, Steam CC, is only selling them to commercial coffee shops, restaurants and hotels at the moment. That said, you can submit your own images for Ripple’s content library and be memorialized, however briefly, on foam.

Follow PDN’s CES 2016 coverage here.

January 11th, 2016

Here’s What a 136 Year Old Lens Looks Like on a Modern Digital Camera

Here’s a good reason why you should never, ever, throw out a lens: it may star in some future video.

Photographer Mathieu Stern dug up a large format camera lens that he claims dates back to the 1880s and slapped it (with some modifications) onto his Sony a7 II.

You can peruse a collection of the resulting stills here and check out the video below for the moving picture.

“The lens is incredibly sharp for a 136 years old simple metallic lens, from my test it’s even sharper than most of my modern canon lenses, the results are amazing,” Stern writes. “But it also gives some strange lens flares and light leaks that are pretty dreamy (some would say it’s horrible).”

Judge for yourself:

Read More:

Step Into Photo History: Inside Kodak’s Tech Vault

The Hidden History of the Zoom Lens in Film & History

This Software Promises to Make Cheap Lenses Awesome


January 8th, 2016

Great Photography and Filmmaking Reads for Your Weekend

Rich Grundy | Flickr

Rich Grundy | Flickr

Oscar Wilde once noted that, “It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” In that spirit, here are a few photography and filmmaking pieces we’ve picked out for your weekend reading pleasure.

How I Made This New Year’s Eve Photo Go ViralBBC

One of the Most Haunting and Seductive Photographers Died Too YoungHuffington Post (NSFW)

How Video Game Photography Got Me Into Real PhotographyGames Radar

Why You Should Be Paying Attention to Agricultural PhotographyCreators Project

Gender Parity in Documentary Filmmaking Is a FictionIndie Wire

How to Monetize a Social Media FollowingPDN

See past Weekend Reads here.

January 7th, 2016

CES 2016: Slimmer SSD Storage Coming Soon to a Gear Bag Near You

While CES has plenty of surprises (like a buzz-generating Super 8 camera), it’s a given that we’ll be treated to new storage devices that are slimmer and faster than last year’s models. Not that we’re complaining!

Here’s a look at some of the new drives and memory cards announced at CES 2016:


SanDisk added a water resistant portable SSD drive to its lineup.  The 480GB Extreme 510 Portable SSD is splash and dust proof and its rubber bumper protects it from impact. You’ll enjoy transfer speeds up to 430MB/s as well as SanDisk’s SecureAccess encryption software. It retails for $250.

128GB-microSDXC-1800x-with-reader-adapterLexar introduced new, high-speed microSD cards for use in 4K action cameras and drones.

The Professional 1800x microSDHC and microSDXC UHS-II cards deliver read transfer speeds up to 270MBps thanks to Ultra High Speed II (U3 technology). The cards will ship with a USB 3.0 reader that delivers data transfers nine times faster than using the USB cable included with most cameras, Lexar said.

The cards will be sold in  in 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB capacities for $80, $135 and $270, respectively, and include a lifetime copy of Image Rescue software. They are available for purchase now.

Lexar also introduced a portable SSD drive that’s compatible with its Professional Workflow system. The drive boasts transfer speeds of 450MB/s and will be available in 256GB and 512GB capacities for $150 and $250, respectively. The drive will feature an external LED capacity meter.


Samsung released a new portable SSD drive, the T3, in capacities ranging from 250GB to 2TB. According to Samsung, the petite drive will be “smaller than an average business card.” It will offer transfer speeds of 450MB/s and is housed in a shock-resistant metal casing capable of surviving a 2 meter drop. It connects via USB Type-C and offers AES 256-bit hardware encryption.

The T3 ships in February. Pricing wasn’t announced.

See Also:

Seagate Launches World’s Thinnest 2TB Portable Drive at CES 2016

How Long Will Digital Photos Last?