photography

Why You Need To Print & What to Print Your Images On

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. 

Leeds Cityscape 

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.

Fuji X100F vs XT-2 with 23mm F2

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. 

 

 

Canon 5DSR vs 5D Mark IV, which should you buy?

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.

Final Thoughts

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. 

When full-frame outperforms medium format... Hasselblad H6D-100c review

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. 

Sony 85mm GM vs Sigma 85mm Art

Sony 85mm GM vs Sigma 85mm Art

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.

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iPhone 7 plus vs 100mp Hasselblad

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. 

Interior Design and Photography

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. 

The framing stand of the bedside cabinet brings a really unique look. 

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. 

 

Is the Sony A7R II innovative?

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. 

Touch-less Shutter

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.  

Customization

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. 

PlayMemories Apps

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.

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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. 

Travel and photography in Qatar

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. 

 

Why Canon is failing

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. 

A week with Leica..... and $50,000 worth of equipment

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". 

HOWEVER...

We used Dylan Patricks technique for the above headshot, for more information and to learn this technique, please click here.

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. 

FB Before FB After

 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. 

Professional Photography is Critical for Virtually Every Industry

My interaction with professional photography has made me agree that it’s a very significant part of every industry today. The job of a professional photographer is to be able to capture some of the best aspects of every industry.

You might be asking why interior and architectural photography. Well it’s mostly because of the fact that architecture as a visual art lets buildings talk for themselves.  With professional photography equipment and a creative attitude goes a step further and interprets it in a number of ways.

Whether it is photographing the interior or exterior or capturing the unique and magnificent images through various techniques, the professional photographer is helped by an observant eye capable of realizing different capture points and points of view. This is the kind of photography I love and provides both clients and artists, amazing images.

However, professional photography is real, diverse and very vital today. Every industry today deserves great, quality and perfectly captured images and moments. While everyone can take a selfie and some images it takes a professional photographer to bring out the details, points of view, angles and all kinds of aspects out of a simple item. Food related photographers are one of the key reason we make orders for groceries, pizzas, meats, ice creams, hamburgers, French fries and all kinds of delicacies because of the way they capture them. I love taking a peek at these photographs and marvel at the way they literary compel you to eat fruits, green leafy vegetables, salads, make an order or simply eat at a certain exotic hotel.

It is also the same with wedding photographs. They are so vital that while you can take another image of a delicacy a fortnight later, you cannot do so in the case of a wedding. Everything has to be perfect from the beginning and the expectations are way too high. Just any photographer is not sufficient. A professional is demanded, sought and given the job.

Any professional interior and architectural photographer will tell you why clients demand professional photographers. Even high school senior year photographers must be professionals and schools are very meticulous. This is the reason any yearbook looks awesome and perfect 30 years later. At the same time, professional baby photography is big business and a superb job is expected.

A real estate firm dealing with properties also demand professional photography. I love a well taken image of a building for sale, both the interior and exterior. A shoddy photography will not draw any buyers and this is counterproductive for any seller.

In a nutshell, professional photography is extremely important in virtually every industry today. I’m aware this post is very biased self-serving, however it’s difficult to refute the argument. I work within an industry that is over saturated for a reason and I absolutely love it.