In this video, I show how you can produce incredible colours with your full-frame camera. Using the Canon 5DSR and a Colour Checker Passport I demonstrate how you can achieve colours that are either very close or potentially even better than medium format cameras.Read More
You may have already seen a number of videos or read a bunch of articles explaining why you need to print your images. This is something I wholeheartedly agree with. As a photographer whether professional or not, printing your images will undoubtedly improve your skills and perspective.
Chances are that in most cases you're probably viewing your images on a full HD screen, which is actually only about 2MP in resolution. Even if you're lucky enough to have a 4K display that's still only around 8MP. Currently, every entry-level DSLR that you can buy is at least 24MP, so you can imagine the difference in resolution is obviously impacting how you view your images. There's nothing quite like being able to see your hard work and creativity in a large print.
There is, however, the question of what you should print your images on. There are so many options available, such as Canvas, Glass, Aluminium, Paper and so on. A company called https://zor.com/en/ recently reached out to me and were kind enough to print one of my images onto three different materials for me to compare. The images were printed on Glass, Aluminium and another material called ForEx which is similar to canvas however much better in every area.
The image above is one of my favorites of Leeds city center because I love how the architecture and colours work so well with one another. This image was also shot with my favourite camera the Canon 5DSR and the incredible Zeiss 135mm f2 APO. The detail and clarity are stunning and I wanted to see how Zor.com could perform in rendering all of the detail and colours.
Check out the video below to find out which print looks the best and which is my favourite.
Buy your print here from https://zor.com/en/ using the discount code ZorAndUsman for 10% off.
Shipping only in : Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and United Kingdom.
What is the absolute best camera you can buy for Architectural photography? Many professional photographers would immediately say "medium format technical camera". For the longest time, I believed this to be true and assumed that for the absolute best image quality for the kind of work I do I would eventually need to upgrade to a medium format system. I believed this until I actually tried the system and made some objective comparisons.
In the video linked below, I demonstrate how medium format and Rodenstock lenses actually perform against full frame cameras and dispel some widely known "truths".
When it comes to APS-C cameras, Fuji may have some of the best currently available. This is one of the reasons why the X100F from Fuji is so popular. Even now months after its initial release, supply still has not caught up with the demand, the X100 series continues to be very popular.
Like many Fuji shooters, I was interested in how the lens on the X100F compares against another similar lens, the XF23 mm F2 R WR. For this comparison, my good friend Chloé was kind enough to let me borrow her Fuji XT-2. This is quite obviously an unfair comparison and not at all meant to be used as a way of deciding which camera is better. Both cameras are meant for very different purposes, however, curiosity can be fun.
Looking at the quick comparison above you can see how soft the X100F is when shot wide open, however, when you stop down to around F5.6 the difference is huge. The image sharpens up by a significant amount.
When compared to the 23mm on the XT-2, the first thing is the size difference. To some, the smaller lens may be an advantage, although, the ergonomics suffer greatly on the X100F. The manual focus ring is really tricky to use and the aperture ring always seems to be a little out of reach and awkward to find. In comparison, the 23mm lens is a joy to use with its much larger focus ring and an aperture ring that's always easy to find.
Holding the XT-2 is also much more pleasant with its better grip and button placement. I keep finding myself pressing the 'Q' button on the X100F which is a little frustrating not to mention the difficulty of holding it for long periods of time due to the lack of a proper grip.
I didn't test the focusing speeds extensively, however, in general, they didn't seem to be very different in performance. The XT-2 did seem a little snappier and nailed focus quicker and more easily. The X100F however, is no slouch and has been vastly improved when compared to the last model.
Also, the extra card slot on the XT-2 is extremely useful. Some may say it's not a big deal but whilst filming the video below, the SD card I was using in the X100F failed and it meant I lost all of the images that were taken on the day. It's not a huge issue for a camera like this but it's an issue nonetheless.
Comparing image quality from both lenses up close, the 23mm on the XT-2 is noticeably sharper. The X100F is known to be quite soft wide open and has an almost glowing haze over the image. This haze also means that adding sharpening in post doesn't improvge things very much.
As you start to stop down, around F4.5 it becomes very difficult to differentiate the two lenses. I might even go as far as to say the X100F could be a little bit sharper around F5.6. All in all both lenses perform incredibly well at most apertures although the X100F suffers quite badly wide open.
Some have suggested that when shooting at distances, the haze on the X100F isn't noticeable meaning both will perform at a similar level even wide open.
For a more detailed comparison please check out the video below.
When it comes to buying new cameras, it can sometimes be quite difficult deciding which is best. This seems to be especially true when it comes to deciding between the Mark IV and 5DSR. A number of people have been asking me which of these two would be best to buy and in this review, I aim to answer that question.
I will quickly mention, before starting this review I thought that this was a tough question, however, as I did more and more comparisons, the decision became much clearer and easier. Also, I was a little conscious about the length of the original video so I have split some of the comparisons into a second unlisted video, available for you to view below.
To begin with, we started in the studio taking a few images of Amina who is a fantastic model. Considering my lack of experience working with models I decided it would be best to have my friend Imran take over for this section. His experience working in studios and with models meant that he could deliver the results and also express his thoughts. Ultimately he wasn't too bothered about the extra features of the Mark IV and opted to side with the 5DSR. The detail and clarity were what really blew him away. Things to consider are the fact that when shooting with the 5DSR, any issues in your technique will be amplified and the results can be vastly different. The 5DSR is a very unforgiving camera whereas the Mark IV can be far more flexible and forgiving to your techniques.
Dynamic range can be quite an important feature for allot of people and this is where the 5D Mark IV really excels. For any single image taken from each of these cameras the Mark IV images are far more flexible and clean. The amount you can recover safely really make a difference to your workflow, you may not need to take that extra shot you do with the 5DSR increasing time spent and storage costs. Having said that, adding some noise reduction to the 5DSR can really shrink the gap. Also if time and storage costs are not a factor for you then using several layers to create the final image will really increase the difference in image quality. Both have their respective advantages in this area and it depends on your individual requirements.
Long exposures have similar results in that the 5DSR is much noisier when compared to the 5D Mark IV across the frame. This is going to a much bigger factor to consider if you're shooting at slightly higher ISO, as the amount of noise may start to make the images unusable for many. Noise reduction will still clean up the 5DSR images quite a bit making them very comparable and potentially even more detailed.
The main areas where the 5DSR can perform really well are colours, sharpness and detail. In controlled environments where you shoot at the lowest ISO, you can achieve some of the absolute best image quality. The colours tend to be more vibrant and accurate based on my testing and the detail is significantly more.
Personally, I much prefer the 5DSR, the incredible image quality and detail are very appealing to me. Most of my professional shoots are done using manual lenses, therefore I tend to take my time for each image ensuring I'm getting the best results. I enjoy shooting with more layers and bringing out the extra detail in post, that to me is part of the fun and not at all a chore.
Before doing this comparison I didn't enjoy using the Mark IV very much at all because to me, it represents a little bit of a middle finger from Canon. Having said that, after doing all of these tests and comparing it to the 5DSR, I now firmly believe that it is one of the best cameras you can buy. For most people, the Mark IV is a much better option, the 5DSR is far too niche of a camera for the majority. Yes, the 5DSR does have better image quality, however, image quality is not really that important when comparing cameras at this level. For that extra detail and resolution, you will be sacrificing far too many useful features to make it worth while. On top of that, the Mark IV will dramatically improve your workflow when compared to the 5DSR. The cleaner and more flexible images straight out of the camera from the Mark IV mean that for most uses it is far more effective.
I'm still quite disappointed in Canon for releasing a camera with such unnecessary and obvious limits. Even with that, however, I strongly recommend the 5D Mark IV above the 5DSR.
Please check out my video above and if you're interested in seeing some of the other tests I did please check out the second video below.
Ever since I got into photography medium format has been something I've admired from a distance, mainly due to the price. Countless conversations with peers and other photographers lead me to believe that medium format was THE system to use if you wanted the best possible image quality. Over the last few months, I've had the pleasure of being able to test and use the Hasselblad H6D 100c, to determine just how good this system actually is.
To begin, we can have a quick look at the images above, although both have been shot using a 100mm focal length, the difference is very clear. This is because the Hasselblad has a much larger sensor allowing for a much larger angle of view, with the same depth of field of a Tele lens. This is essentially the "medium format look". The colours are the other thing you may notice and how the Hasselblad has much cleaner and detailed colours. The Sony, on the other hand, is quite muddy and muted in comparison.
There is a slight issue when shooting wide open with medium format and that is the focusing system. With the Sony, it's fairly straight forward in that you can choose where you want to focus using a single point. The Hasselblad, however, relies on focus and recompose. The difference is quite significant with the eye being out of focus. Focus recompose can be effective with Hasselblads "True Focus" mode, however, this method is still not perfect especially if your subject is moving or moves slightly. The flagship medium format cameras are in dire need of a proper focusing system.
The second set of images were shot in a studio with controlled lighting and settings for optimal performance. The left image was shot with the Hasselblad using the 150mm f3.2N and the right is with the Sony A7RII and Canon 100mm Macro. Once again you can see how the colours from the Hasselblad are far more vibrant and detailed due to the 16bit RAW files. Both images have been shot wide open to demonstrate what each lens is fully capable of. Once you zoom into the eye of the soft toy you can see far more detail from the Canon/Sony combination than you can from the Hasselblad system. The lenses from the Hasselblad are much softer and lack a huge amount of detail. This is extremely surprising especially considering the massive price difference. This terrible performance seems to be a common trait of most if not all Hasselblad lenses.
Although I discussed colours as being a great feature for medium format, it's not something that limits full frame. Taking a look at the images above, the left is again the Hasselblad with the 150mm and the right image was shot using the Canon 5DS with the Zeiss 135mm f2. I don't need to discuss which lens is sharper and more detailed, obviously, it's the Zeiss by a huge margin. The colours, however, are very close and this is simply done by adjusting the white balance and adding a little vibrance. Adding a little bit of vibrance can really shrink the gap between both systems.
Ultimately, the Hasselblad suffers from ridiculously bad build quality, it's very cheap and unacceptable considering the huge price tag. The system and software is buggy and glitchy, it still uses an outdated focusing system and the lenses perform far below what's currently available for full frame. Due to this, it's not a viable option for professionals. The reason people say medium format is worth the huge price tag, is because it supposedly produces the best in terms of image quality. This of course is not true at all and the evidence can be found in this comparison and the video linked below. Many professionals who use Hasselblad will more than likely defend it due to the amount they've probably paid for it and do to the brands current reputation. This I think will change if Hasselblad do not make some major changes and people start to realise it's very apparant shortcomings.
In this video, I look at the Sigma 85mm f1.4 art and Sony 85mm f1.4 GM lenses, to determine which one is better. Find out which lens is going to be more suitable for you in this comparison video.Read More
When it comes to unfair comparisons, this one probably takes the cake. The thing is, there's something quite interesting about nonsense comparisons and that's why I decided to do this one.
Check out the video and find out if the iPhone has any chance against the £30,000 medium format camera from Hasselblad.
Download the images using the link below.
For the last 40 years The Princes Trust has been an incredible organisation helping young people across the nation. I am one of those fortunate individuals who received support from The Trust and for that I'm extremely thankful. The support from The Trust is very real and hands on, it's been life changing.
To celebrate the last 40 years, there couldn't have been a better venue than Buckingham palace itself and we were invited!
Seeing Buckingham Palace in images and seeing the Palace in person are two very different things. There just isn't enough time to take in everything and really soak in all of its beauty. The tall pillars towering over you as you walk through the gates, the elaborate details and the stories intricately carved into stone. I knew I was going to be impressed, but I had no idea it would be to this degree.
The walk through the palace was brief, however, it was enough to solidify a great appreciation for its interior. Velvet, chandeliers, oil paintings and the colour red, I wish I could share images that truly expressed what I saw.
In the garden we all gathered together enjoying Earl grey tea, an assortment of cakes and of course, cucumber sandwiches. The cakes were definitely something to write home about, my favourite being the cream scones of which I had several helpings.
It was amazing to see so many individuals who had been supported by The Trust altogether in one place. So many stories and so many struggles that had been overcome with help from The Trust. It really did bring home how much of an impact this charity has on young people. Not forgetting the many volunteers, ambassadors, donors and of course the people that work for The Trust. It honestly is something quite wonderful to see so much goodwill all in one place.
The highlight of the day was most definitely meeting and speaking with Prince Charles himself. His Royal Highness was ever so charming and told me to, "get in touch". I'm not certain as to how I can contact him just yet, I couldn't find him on Twitter, however I'm sure I'll find a way.
Ultimately this was a fantastic event celebrating an awesome cause and I'm very proud to have been part of it.
With all my heart, Thank you to HRH and The Princes Trust.
These days, professional photography is pretty much a requirement for many industries. With more and more people on social media and even better, higher resolution screens on mobile devices, it's illogical to have sub par images demonstrating your service/product. Fortunately for us, our clients only demand the best photography, which not only keeps us on our toes, but also adds allot of value to the work we do.
We recently had the pleasure of working with interior designers, Tareen and Tareen. Sisters, Nadia and Ayisha Tareen, produce some amazing results together and we were lucky enough, to be able to photograph their latest work. Their passion and flair is clearly visible in what they do, from the smallest details to the bigger picture of creating whole room sets.
Many people don't consider the benefits of hiring an interior designer and allot of the times, it's based on assumptions relating to price. The value of working with an interior designer, is to essentially create something that couldn't have ordinarily been created by one's self. In many cases interior designers have benefited clients by preventing costly mistakes and even helped increase property values, thus negating the initial apprehensions relating to price. Not to mention the fact that, a good interior designer will have a significant number of contacts which can again, help reduce the overall cost. This is similar to the photography industry, clients hire professionals because they understand the importance and value it brings. The initial cost is effectively an investment rather than a sunk cost and therefore has a return associated with it. On occasions those returns may be intangible, however, not hiring a professional poses a higher risk factor.
There are allot of great reasons why you should hire an interior designer for your projects. Picking the best one for you depends on your project and vision. Having said that, a good designer can also provide much needed help when devising primary plans. We highly recommend Tareen and Tareen, because we firmly believe in their customer service and more importantly, their ability as designers. It's an absolute pleasure working with them and we look forward to continuing with them.
I've had the pleasure of using the Sony A7R II for a while now and I'm very pleased with what this camera can do. So, the question, is the Sony A7R II an innovative camera?
in short..., Yes.
Having been a Canon user for my whole photographic life, using the Sony is a big change for the better. I still use the Canon cameras and I do enjoy the familiar feel, the 5DS is more than capable when it comes to high resolution. Having said that there are quite a number of features in the Sony which I think are amazing.
I still can't get over how awesome and useful this feature is. To be able to take a picture without touching the camera, or having anything dangling from the camera. This feature comes in especially handy for those long shutter speeds and bulb mode.
I love how on this camera I can change pretty much all the buttons to do what I want them to do. I agree with a number of people who claim the Sony menu system is a little awkward and for that reason the custom buttons are so useful. If I'm not mistaken I don't think any of the buttons do their factory function any more, aside from the shutter button of course.
Built in Remote control
Having the ability to control your camera using a smart phone/tablet opens up so many creative possibilities. I can't think of many (if any) shoots where this feature has not come in handy. Also the ability to review images on a tablet means you're not all huddled around a small screen to see if the images are any good.
I think this feature has been severely underplayed, the fact that these cameras have dedicated app stores is just phenomenal. The store is still in it's early stages and probably not where it needs to be, however it's a huge step in the right direction. We may be looking at the dawn of smart cameras. Currently there aren't many apps available, however the few that are there, I find to be very useful.
Ultimately, Sony are beginning to develop some real potential in their software for cameras. They've started to use the WiFi feature for more than just transferring images and it's a huge leap forward. When you look at smart phones and what they can do, it's disappointing that not enough camera manufacturers are adopting better software.
I believe once Sony bring their software to a really high standard, sort out their battery technology and implement a second card slot, the A7 series could be some of the best cameras in the world.
I know the title is cheesy, but I think a new year does somewhat represent a bit of a reset. It allows for a little perspective on what has been achieved so far and what could have been done better. I find myself being over critical of what I could have done in 2015. Looking back, I think overall I'm quite pleased.
Matt Granger is a professional photographer who's also developing a popular Youtube channel, and I feel he really hit the nail on the head in his last video. I speak to allot of people who say they want to own a business but there are always some obstacles or something preventing from doing what they want. It does frustrate me because I honestly believe the people making the excuses could also be the people who achieve so much, if they were to only change their perspective.
Anyway enough of the mini rant, I hope watching this video helps.
Just to quickly add a few points of my own:
- Don't procrastinate. It's so easy to suddenly get lost on Facebook or YouTube and several hours have been lost on doing absolutely nothing.
- Believe in yourself. I'm aware this is cliché, but it is for a reason. Doubting yourself really kills any dreams or ambitions you could have had, find a way past your doubts.
- Just Do It. Seriously just do it.
Thank you so much for all the support over last year it means allot to me and I want to sincerely wish you a wonderful new year.
I probably should have posted this a while ago but better late than never right?
I'm huge fan of the middle eastern architecture and the new modern buildings are beautiful. I've been fortunate enough to have travelled to a number of countries and I think Qatar is now one of my favourite places to visit. Firstly, the airport, dear god the airport is beautiful. I only wish I wasn't half out of it due to lack of sleep and took some proper pictures of it.
For this trip I stayed at the Oryx Rotana Hotel, I managed to get a pretty good deal. The hotel interior was amazing and the room I had was stunning. I definitely tip the proverbial hat to the hotel and the staff, to say they were helpful is a severe understatement.
The reason for my trip was architecture and the country does not disappoint. The Corniche was by far my favourite place to relax in the evening. The view of the city skyline and the National Museum really make this place extraordinary.
Overall I think the country is beautiful, the buildings are unique and awe inspiring and really make Doha stand out. There are still various under developed areas in the country however I think with the world cup coming in 6 years they have plenty of time to really bring Qatar onto the world stage.
Anyway that's enough from me, here are some images.
Recently I found myself travelling more often, either to meet new clients or for work around the country. This of course is not a matter for complaint, however one can imagine travel and accommodation costs really start to mount up. The average cost of a one star hotel in London for two nights, is approximately £100.00. The costs increases significantly as you start adding more stars. This of course is dependant on the date and time of the year you're visiting, however you can't always choose when your clients need you.
finding ways to save money whilst travelling is extremely important, especially because it starts to cut into your profit margins. Even if your not travelling for business, I'm sure you can agree saving money is a good thing.
AirBnB is a website/platform which allows home owners to rent out a room or their whole home for a short term period. The service is essentially like how you would expect a hotel to operate except with more of a homely feel. I have used the service a number of times and I'm very impressed.
Bookings are done online and the beauty of this service is the flexibility of where you can stay at reasonable prices. There are some beautiful homes available and so far all the hosts I've encountered have been fantastic.
The images in this post are of a home we stayed at. The home was lovely, and very close to the tube station too making it very easy to get into the city. The family were very accommodating and had a beautiful, big fluffy cat (that didn't like me very much). Lastly the room itself was spacious and comfortable.
Overall I'm a fan of AirBnB, I think the platform has been well thought out and making a booking is secure and easy. I found their verification process to be quite thorough and it's reassuring, especially when you consider how complete strangers are meeting for the first time. This is a platform I will using often and to get your £13.00 credit, please use the following link :-).
I'm always looking for an excuse to indulge a little and a new tearoom in Leeds is just too difficult to resist.
Creams British Luxury, recently opened their doors in Leeds city centre and wow is it something. Although I haven't visited their original location in Huddersfield, the new location is very impressive. Upon entering, you can immediately see the attention to detail and how much effort and investment has gone into the place. A single chandelier costs £20,000, and the piano... well, let's just not get into that, it's safe to say the interior is pretty awesome.
Now considering the fact this is a tearoom/restaurant, let's get down to brass tacks and talk about the food. I've had the pleasure of dining there a number of times and in my humble opinion, it's very good. The presentation has been thought out properly and the cutlery feels premium. There are a number of dishes available from sandwiches to believe it or not, Fish and Chips. The food is reasonably priced and also the portions are far from pretentious. Lastly the tea and desserts are where Creams really excel. They haven't made the classic mistake of making the desserts overly sweet, instead there is a great deal of discernible flavour. My favourite has to be the strawberry scone. They have a large selection of teas available and depending on your mood, I'm confident there's something for mostly everyone.
There a few things I think could be improved, for instance the physical menu, it feels and looks tacky and not at all like the brand. The food selection also feels a little scattered and lacking identity, some of what's offered seems out of place. Also the location they have in Leeds is almost hidden away and took us a bit of time to find it the first time. Lastly being the photography nerd that I am I think the images they currently have could be improved. As you may be able to tell, I am nitpicking and the negatives I have pointed out, are insignificant when considering the overall experience.
My favourite thing about Creams is the fact that the staff are so amazing. I've visited both as a customer and a photographer and on every occasion they've gone above and beyond. I have allot of admiration for the team at Creams and I think with them managing the tearoom, it's in safe hands.
Overall I definitely recommend Creams, I think they've done a fantastic job. There aren't allot of places like this and it's a very welcomed addition. I understand they're expanding quite rapidly and new locations will be coming soon all across the country and in Dubai too.
In the meantime click here to check out some of the other images we've taken for Creams.
In 2013 you may have heard that Nokia sold their mobile division to Microsoft at a price considerably lower than what it was once worth. One of the main reasons behind this is because they failed to keep up with the market and customer demands. Canon seems to be facing similar issues and has recently had to cut it's profit forecast for 2015.
Now admittedly the profit cut was due to several issues and not just a Canon problem, however there are a number of underlining problems at Canon.
A good number of our sources agree that Canon is facing some internal problems and it's preventing them from operating effectively. There are internal conflicts and due to this they seem to be reacting extremely slowly to the market and customer demands. Canon seem to be more interested in maintaining their faltering position as opposed to innovating, or executing their innovations. Customers are very quick to notice when companies drip feed features and it's frustrating and alienating. Their latest DSLR the Canon 5DS and 5DS R has a 50mp sensor which at a glance seems amazing, however when you dig deeper you find 2010 technology repackaged with a premium price. Compare this to the Sony A7R II and you'll see why this is not innovating.
The main reason why Canon is failing to innovate is because of how they manage their two divisions. Essentially their Cinema and their DSLR divisions are constantly looking to ensure they don't step on each others toes. Basically they don't want to make any cameras that could affect the sales of another camera. Now if this was done by two separate market leading companies then it could work, similar to price fixing (which is illegal of course). However when this is done internally, it's illogical and benefits no one but your competition. The most frustrating aspect about this is that Canon is aware of this huge problem, but has failed to come up with a solution.
Companies like Nikon and Sony have been making significantly better cameras for a good number of years capitalizing on Canons unwillingness to keep up. A quick look at sensor technology on DXOmark shows how Canon has remained behind for quite some time now. They also seem to believe 4k is still some elusive feature that can only be added to the most expensive high end cameras, even though it's been available for 12 years now.
Lastly their latest camera The ME20F-SH boasts 4 million ISO and can pretty much see in the dark. Again this sounds pretty cool but then when you break it down, it's a 2mp camera with a 30k price tag, simply ridiculous in my view.
Ultimately Canon are facing some tough issues moving forward and it doesn't seem like they're doing enough to fix things. Internally their departments are not working together effectively and it's creating a negative loop. Should this continue which I'm guessing it will, there could be some really difficult times ahead for Canon as their market share inevitably shrinks.
I'm a fan of Canon and would love to see them continue as the market leader. I hope Fujio Mitarai has a plan for the future which does not involve doing the same thing and hoping for a different result.
It's no secret, Leeds city centre is one of my favourite places for photographing architecture. The city is in the middle of a development boom and it looks extremely promising. With places like Victoria Gate and Sovereign Square being developed in Leeds, the city is definitely starting to look and feel very modern. The glass and steel structures are really impacting the landscape and although some may disagree, I welcome it.
From my experience the main reason why some may disagree with the new buildings in Leeds is because they feel it does not keep to the surroundings. Although this may be true, I believe architecture is about creating our own surroundings. Progress can be steeply reduced if we continue to try and serve the current as opposed to finding the new.
Having said that I'm a big fan of the older buildings in Leeds too. I love the contrast between the old and new, in my mind it really adds to it. For instance if you take the Corn Exchange in Leeds, a building steeped in history and even faced being demolished once, still stands proud. The interior of the building is simply beautiful and now serves as a place for many independent retail stores.
I think by far my favourite part of Leeds is right in the heart, City Square. Admittedly driving around this area is an absolute nightmare, with the horrible one way system and parking anywhere habitable is a complete pain. Aside from that mini rant the buildings are simply wow. I absolutely love how some of the buildings in Leeds transition from old to new so well. Some of my other favourites are of course the Civic Hall, The Parkinson Building and not forgetting Bridgewater Place. All in all I'm quite proud of the architecture in Leeds and really looking forward to the new developments. I honestly can't wait to photograph them all.
Yesterday I must have spent more than 6 hours looking at different Leica cameras trying to figure out which body and lens is best for me. My wife has heard nothing but Leica this and Leica that and after using and reviewing the Leica SE for a week I might be a little smitten. The Leica S 007 is soon to be released and in preparation for that we decided to review the currently available model.
Cambridge has to be my favourite city for street photography and the Leica does not disappoint. Even handheld the image quality is jaw dropping, especially when you consider how heavy a lens and body combination really is.
As this is a medium format camera the sensor, the body and the lenses are bigger. My 5D mark III looks small in comparison. So what's the actual camera like, well its big, its clunky, its slow at focussing, I'm used to having multiple focus points and medium format cameras only have one in the middle of the frame. The camera has no image stabilization which makes handheld even more difficult especially with let's say the 180mm F3.5. The Leica SE has a CCD sensor which means low light performance is pretty bad and ISO can only be boosted up to 1600 (you'd be wise to stay below 800). There is no live view, no video mode and the top part of the camera is made of plastic, possibly due to the GPS node being there, but who uses GPS anyway? Lastly although its considered to be a medium format camera, the sensor is only 20% bigger, its less medium format and more "Full-Frame Plus".
When you attach one of those behemoth sized lenses onto the camera, all of the above issues seem to magically disappear. The image quality is simply astounding, even with just 37.5MP (for medium format) it feels like the lenses are making use of every single one and maybe a few more just to be safe. I don't profess to be a great headshot photographer but even my shots are looking pretty good. The way the Leica renders fine details, skin texture and contrast really make an image pop. The lack of noise at its base ISO (100) is really impressive and the amount of detail that can be brought back from the shadows still surprises me. Although we talked about this camera having a CCD sensor and it's low light performance, this camera wasn't built for those environments. When you give this camera enough light and use it for what it's been built for, it truly excels beyond expectations.
Being an interior and architectural photographer my favourite Leica lens is of course the 24mm F3.5. This is a beautifully made lens with fantastic build quality, the front element is big and gives off a slight reddish reflection. Leica are known for their lenses and I could be wrong but to my eye this lens has absolutely no distortions. The 24mm lens isn't a tilt shift making some architectural photography a little difficult, however, I've been told Schneider are currently developing a wide angle tilt shift lens which will be compatible with Leica, this is definitely great news for us :). I had the opportunity to take some images of the The Midland Hotel in Bradford whilst using the 24mm lens and the results speak for them self.
In conclusion I think the Leica S system is amazing to work with. The camera has been built for settings where the light can be controlled. It's probably not the best camera for events and wedding considering the ISO performance but then it would be pretty overkill for that too. When this camera has enough light it really comes into it's own. The Leica SE may not be the best medium format camera considering it's smaller sensor size and the fact that you can't upgrade "the back", however it has a really well built DSLR form factor making it very straight forward to use. All I needed were two dials and a shutter button, and because of it's form factor even street photography was easy. This camera is a true photographers camera, it doesn't need all of the other fancy features when it produces such amazing images, The lenses are simply wow, I really can't say enough about how great they are. Some of the people at Leica tell me that relative to the other medium format brands, they make the best lenses, and honestly I don't have any reason to disagree.
Ultimately I'm very pleased with the Leica S system and would definitely consider upgrading to it, however as the Leica S 007 has been announced I think I'll wait till I've seen what that can do before making a decision.
Too harsh for a title...?
We all know how important it is to innovate in any business to remain relevant. Innovations don’t necessarily have to be earth shattering because, small changes for the better can make a huge difference in the long term. It’s kind of like going to the gym (something I haven’t done in a long, long…long time) being consistent is what’s important.
It’s amazing to see how the photography industry has changed over the last 10 years. The tools and resources available now are simply amazing. We have ‘moving images’ through the use of video stills thanks to the Cinemagraph app, mobile photography which can be considered as professional work and drones to create some amazing aerial images. With all of this happening the average photographer can feel a little lost, searching for a bit of identity.
on top of this the amateur market is growing fast and pretty huge by now, DSLRs are not difficult to get hold of and the amount of resources available is astounding for anyone with drive and ambition.
One of the key resources are online tutorials and many successful photographers have come to understand how the growing amateur market can be tapped into. Online tutorials are slowly becoming big business. A single tutorial from Fstoppers has been sold to at least 850 individuals, at a cost of $299.00 each, it really adds up to some big figures. This is a great example of how some photographers have studied the market properly, saw the rise in the number of amateurs and took advantage of it. Even YouTubers such as Jared Polin cater strictly to the amateur market and provide information and tutorials.
Filming and selling photography tutorials has become quite a lucrative industry and also a saturated one. The point is that simply being a photographer may not be enough anymore. Online tutorials are just one example of the innovations currently happening, the amateur market is growing fast, is there something you could offer?
"Professional photographers are always going to be in demand", I'm not so sure, I believe as technology progresses the professional photographer may start to become a rare thing. We're already seeing signs of organisations being content with many of their smart phone images. When it comes to commercial work the role of photographer may become a small part of a larger position for many individuals and companies. I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing however the industry may be changing too fast for some of us.
Aside from trying to find ways of catering to the amateur market and seizing any opportunities, you still need to cater to conventional clients. Professional photographers may dislike the idea of amateurs taking their jobs and charging less. You may even say, that they are bringing the value of the industry down, but does this matter from the clients perspective... the short answer is no. Should clients care... possibly, however, ultimately it's the market that decides value and innovations can keep you ahead.