Lumix S: First Look! Panasonic drops the Big Bomb with the leap from MFT to Fullframe in the mirrorless segment

Panasonic Lumix S

This is the poster used on the Panasonic website to announce the launch. Looks like it says enough.

Lumix S announcement poster
Panasonic lumix S announcement

Earlier today Panasonic announced the Lumix S at a press conference which was broadcast live, Here’s the video!

Panasonic has been keeping the MFT format relevant and running strong in various genres. But, the key strength that kept the lineup running was film-making, while photographers have been somewhat reluctant to make a complete switch barring a few street photographers and photojournalist who preferred the small form factor. But, entry of Panasonic into the full-frame mirrorless market after recent announcements from Nikon launching at Z series and the Canon announcing the R caught both the companies off guard.

Both the companies seemed to have skipped the idea of dual card slots which most professionals desire to keep their hard work safe in case one of the cards fail. For starts, Panasonic seems to have kept that in mind. Panasonic also boasts a very rugged weather sealing which the current king of the full-frame mirrorless world Sony leaves wanting.

For the end users who have not chosen their cameras yet. This is an amazing news! You get more choices and better competition to keep the companies gunning each other to keep the technology running sharp. Here’s to Innovation! Also, kudos to Olympus to have started the serious mirrorless market.

Photography Basics : Nikon or Canon?

Doesn’t matter. They are both running market brands and one would go out of business if the other didn’t keep up. Your investment is safe either way.  Sony has picked up well in the mirrorless segment. So, Do consider that as well. Pentax is an amazing brand which makes tough as nails cameras even in the entry-level segment. Their weather sealing is enough to make even the toughest Nikon or Canon envy over it

Factors to consider when picking a brand.

  1. What’s the dominant brand amongst your friend circle? This helps when you have friends who wouldn’t mind lending you lenses or have rental companies nearby where you can rent out lenses from.
  2. Does the brand you are considering have lenses within your budget?
  3. Are the accessories you might need easily available for the brand you pick in your area?
  4. How good is the local support from the brand in terms of service and spare parts?
  5. Don’t get carried away by the fanboys, Use your own research.

Factors to consider when picking a camera model

  1. Is the ISO range enough if you plan to shoot in available light?
  2. Would you print your work? If yes what is the average size you think you are going to get them printed at? Megapixels will matter when you go beyond a certain size of print or If you are planning to crop your images heavily.
  3. Is the autofocus fast enough for your primary need?
  4. Are there good lenses compatible with the model you are considering (Some brands have exclusive lenses for crop sensors, which may or may not be cross-compatible with other models of the same brand. For e.g. Canon’s EF-S lenses (most of their Crop sensor lenses) Won’t even mount on their Full frame cameras.
  5. Is the model weather sealed, consider it if you’d be shooting a lot in outdoorsy conditions or your area is prone to rain, snow, etc
  6. How expensive are the accessories and spare parts for your model?
  7. Is the model proven in the market? (completely new models tend to have some glitches which get fixed eventually)
  8. Do you even need a camera for your photography or would you be better off investing in a high-end phone?
  9. What’s the maximum space you can spare in your travel bag for your camera + lenses + accessories?

I might have missed a few, but, these will point you in the right direction.

Photography Basics : What is a “stop”?

In photography, a stop is a unit to measure the adjustment in exposure. It usually refers to any adjustment that would double the exposure (when increasing) or halve it while decreasing.

ISO reading at 1 stop adjustments in increasing order:

100 | 200 | 400 | 800 | 1600 | 3200 | 6400 | 12800 | 25600

Aperture Reading at 1 stop adjustments:

f/32 | f/22 | f/16 | f/11 | f/8 | f/5.6 | f/4 | f/2.8 | f/2 | f/1

Shutter speeds at 1 stop adjustments (or closest approximation present in cameras) in increasing order:

1/8000 | 1/4000 | 1/2000 | 1/1000 | 1/500 | 1/250 | 1/125 | 1/ 60 | 1/30 | 1/15

In most cameras adjustments are usually available up to 1/3rd stops. Sometimes the word “step” is used interchangeably with “Stop”

Photography Basics: What is Aperture?

This is one of the things that is very critical in photography. The term “aperture” quite literally means an opening, and that’s what it is in photography as well. It’s an opening that lets in and controls the light being transmitted on to the sensor. The aperture is the diameter of the opening that captures the light to be focused on the sensor.

How is it measured? aperture diameter = (focal length / x). For ease of calculating the exposure and to maintain a constancy across various lenses of different focal lengths, it is this ‘x’ that is displayed as aperture reading in photography. Usually, it ranges from f/1.4 to f/22. The maximum aperture is usually limited by the lens you are using, and you can reduce the aperture using the aperture control ring on the lens or through the camera.

Some rare lenses like the $11,000! Leica Noctilux have apertures as big as f/0.95 . while most professional zoom lenses have an aperture of f/2.8

Why is aperture so important? Aperture determines these two things:

  1. The total light gathered: Wide apertures gather more light, More lights lets you use Lesser ISOs resulting in cleaner images with less noise. More light also lets you use faster shutter speeds, helping you freeze action.
  2. The depth of field: Simply put, Wider the aperture, the shallower the depth of field.

Take away: Lower the number denoting the aperture, wider the aperture, wider the aperture, shallower the depth of field and more the light input.

Advanced reading:

In most cameras, the aperture stays wide open until just before the shutter opens, this helps the camera gather as much light as possible for more accurate focusing. The moment when you press the shutter release, a diaphragm inside the lens narrows the aperture. Aperture control rings wherever present may be either clicked or de-clicked. Clicked aperture rings help you set the aperture precisely to a marked value whereas de-clicked aperture rings have a smooth action to facilitate smoother adjustment for video recording. De-clicked aperture rings are usually found in the cine versions of the lenses.

Aperture Values in increasing order (at one stop intervals, light reaching the sensor doubles between each step)

32  | 22 | 16 | 11 | 8 | 5.6 | 4 | 2.8 | 2 | 1

 

Photography Basics : What is Bulb mode?

Black and White photograph of UB City on an overcast day with trailing clouds in the backgound

As a photographer exploring your camera, did you explore the shutter speed option in the manual mode of your camera? You might have noticed that on most of the cameras, the maximum allowed shutter speed is capped at 30 seconds. Turn the wheel a little more after you hit that 30-second cap. The shutter speed shows the alphabet “B” instead of showing the shutter speed in seconds. The camera is now in “Bulb Mode”.

And what happens in bulb mode? The shutter stays open as long as you keep the shutter release button pressed. The moment you release the button, the shutter closes ending the exposure for that frame.

This feature lets you control the shutter speed while you are actually shooting. You can start an exposure by pressing down on the shutter release button and end whenever you want to, by releasing the shutter button. Useful scenarios include light painting, firecrackers in the sky, cloud trails using a strong ND filter in the daytime, smooth waterfalls, calm foggy seascapes with no waves, for exposures which need to go beyond the designated 30-second limit.

Most cameras let you keep the shutter open for up to half an hour. It might vary is some models of cameras. Now the next time you see a picture with EXIF data that says the shutter speed was 2 minutes, 5 minutes, etc. You know how that is made.

Unnecessary, but interesting trivia: The term “Bulb” is derived from detachable pneumatic shutter release with a rubber bulb on the end. It’d keep the shutter open as long as the bulb is inflated.

Photography Basics : Demystifying manual mode in Digital SLR cameras

Manual mode dial in modern Digital SLR Cameras

My aim in this post is to help you understand manual mode in as short a reading as possible.

Cameras work by sensing light and recording it in ways that could be reproduced elsewhere as per our desires, I am sure you know that. Earlier cameras use to have film, the modern digital cameras have a sensor in it which records the image and transfers it to a memory card. Now, the image captured by the sensor is dependent on how long the sensor is exposed ( Controlled by shutter speed), how sensitive it is to light (Controlled by ISO) and how much light is allowed to get in (Controlled by the Aperture).

Let’s get into the details of these three

  1. ISO aka film speed 

    This lets us choose how sensitive the sensor is to the light. The higher the ISO, the brighter the image, but, since the sensor is so sensitive at higher values, noise also increases as the iso increases. The lower the iso, the cleaner the image, but would need more light or longer shutter speeds to compensate.

  2. Aperture

    Every lens has a maximum aperture which is usually mentioned on the lens. for example, most common kit lenses will say 18-55 (3.5-5.6) on them, it means the lens has a maximum aperture of f/3.5 at 18mm and f/5.6 at 55mm. The lower the number used as the aperture, the wider the aperture which in turn lets in more light. This is usually controlled through the camera in modern cameras which operates a diaphragm inside the lens. Some earlier lenses have a manual ring on the lens itself to adjust this.

    Aperture is also critical to another aspect, the Depth of field. The wider the aperture, the shallower the depth, giving us better subject isolation and giving us softer backgrounds. Alternately, Aperture can be narrowed to increase the depth of field.
    Yes, it’s a little confusing because lower number means more light here. If you are interested in the details, read further, else, skip to the next point on shutter speed. Aperture value which is shown on the cameras as the setting is actually the denominator. It’s actually f / x. f represents the focal length and x is what is shown on the camera as the setting.

  3. Shutter Speed

    Controls how long the shutter stays open. Short shutter speeds help freeze movement, But, they allow the light to get in only for a very brief moment, which might land you with a darker image if not compensated by ISO / Aperture. Longer shutter speeds create a sense of movement through motion blur, But, you’d need to be careful to prevent the image from looking too blurry due to camera shaking during the exposure, Use a tripod to help stabilise the camera in such cases.
    Usually ranges from 1/4000 second to around 30 secs in most consumer cameras. Most semi-pro and pro line of cameras range from 1/8000s to 30s. You could also go beyond 30 seconds by using a method which lets you keep the shutter open as long as you keep the shutter button pressed. It’s called a bulb mode, I’ll write about it a little later

These are the three Components of what is referred to as “Exposure Triangle”

Wondering how to set your camera to manual mode?  On most cameras, there’s a mode Dial, Turn it until it reaches the “M”. Some cameras like the Nikon D850 series have a button to switch the modes. Once you reach the M mode, you can change the individual settings using the on-screen information menus on the entry-level cameras and using the wheels on the cameras with more control wheels.

What makes us tick (click) !?

Ever wondered why we long to head out, explore, click and show off?

A Vintage watch in a sailor themed backgroundI have always wondered about this myself, guess for someone it’s a sense of incompleteness when we aren’t able to show what we see to others. A desire to wander out, find visuals which inspire awe, shock, surprise, beauty, and lust.

We have dealt with carrying heavy equipment on our backs, that 5 kg tripod which would let us shoot that perfect landscape. That lens which makes us feel like we don’t need to hit the gym anymore which lets us stare into that eyes of that long-elusive tiger staring right at you! Why do we do it? So that we could be at peace, knowing that the images you make inspire others to see things the way we see. We are the breed of artists, adventurers, diplomats and humanitarians combined into one.

What we seek is inner peace and to grant vision to others, A sight beyond what they see every day.

I am starting this blog in the name of all the photographers I have met and would meet. Let’s keep the flame alive in our hearts and our gear.