Z-Cam E2-F6 Full Frame 6K Footage

Z-Cam has released a downloadable clip from their new E2-F6 Full Frame 6K camera. The footage was shot using an SLR Magic APO-HyperPrime CINE 25mm T2. The downloadable 6064 × 3196 / 2.278GB clip, while short, still shows the potential of this camera. We first took a look at the upcoming new Z-Cam cameras at … Continued

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“Talking About It is One Thing, Making a Movie About It is Something Else”: Abel Ferrara and Nicola Nicolaou Share Old-School NYC Movie Memories

Arriving back in New York, a city with which he is synonymous, Abel Ferrara has been popping up everywhere the past few weeks: from the Tribeca Film Festival, where his documentary The Projectionist had its world premiere, to the Museum of Modern Art, where a near-complete retrospective unspools a half-century of unruly cinema through May 30. The victory lap comes as the Bronx-born expatriate, who now lives contentedly in Rome, ushers a cluster of new work onto screens, including the long-delayed domestic release of Pasolini, starring Willem Dafoe as the radical Italian filmmaker and kindred spirit, as well as the […]

10 Great Tearjerker Movies You’ve Probably Never Seen

There’s a lot of reasons why we love film. We love the sense of escapism, we love rich stories and compelling characters, we love great performances, explosive action, to laugh, to cry or to scare ourselves silly. No matter where our preferences lie, here, one thing we all have in common is film.

But often the most relatable are the ones that remind us that sometimes life sucks. A little harsh perhaps but hey, without that element of life, we wouldn’t have those emotionally charged movies. Of course, there’s also plenty of happiness in life, and that too translates to the movies.

But let’s focus on the sadness. Sure, seeing the Avengers fight the good fight and watching a weird undead cat ripping people to shreds is entertaining, but often films about real life and real people — films that elicit real emotion and feelings and leave a lasting impression, are the most effective. Seeing powerful performances and scenes of raw emotion can also just be a treat as it’s a testament to a performer’s abilities.

So with that, here are some of the most tear-jerking movies that you may have never seen.

 

10. Watership Down (1978)

watership down

Directed by Martin Rosen and based on the novel of the same by Richard Adams, Watership down tells the story of a young rabbit who has an apocalyptic vision indicating the end of his warren. He convinces seven other rabbits to leave with him and search for a new home.

An animated tale it may be but make no mistake, Watership Down is grim, dark and pulls no punches in its very honest depiction of violence, survival and death. The animated style tries to also be very realistic, portraying its characters’ movements as realistically as possible and its moody colour pallet creating an atmosphere far removed from any Disney animated tale.

That’s not to say that Watership Down is absent of anything colourful and dreamlike. The opening sequence is particularly so as it starts the story by going back to the beginning of time and introducing its own mythology- Lapine, which also has its own language.

In Lapine mythology, the world was created by the god Frith. Then, all animals were plant eaters but as they multiplied, their appetites led to food shortage, leading to the creation of the predator for crowd control. Richard Adams created the mythology exclusively for this particular universe.

A very faithful adaptation of Adams’ book, this version is not the only one that exists. A TV series was created between 1999-2001 and just last year in 2018, Netflix released a mini-series version. The latter of which released to generally favourable reviews but criticised due to the quality of its computer animation and is referred to as a watered-down Watership Down.

The 1979 version of the cute rabbits meeting their potential impending doom is worth a look for sure. As the watership goes down, as will your waterworks.

 

9. I Origins (2014)

i-origins-2014

Mike Cahill’s second feature is certainly an ambitious one, attempting to blur the lines between science and spirituality. We follow Dr. Ian Grey (Michael Pitt), a molecular biologist who is studying the evolution of the eye.

He meets an exotic young woman, Sofi (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey) whose beliefs in reincarnation, wonder and the spiritual world clash with his mind for theories, proof and reason. Despite that, they fall deeply in love. When she slips away, he comes to realise that maybe seeing is not always believing.

Through his progressive research and studies of the eye, he stumbles across a discovery of multiple people with matching iris patterns, though none of them alive at the same time. Among those matches is Sofi, whose iris scan matches that of a girl in India born years after Sofi’s death.

Yes, a little far-fetched if anything.

Still, seeing a man who swears by science accept and find comfort within the realms of the spiritual world is certainly interesting and for those of us that enjoy learning about the wonderments of the supernatural whilst also being interested in the science, I Origins certainly makes the mind tick.

Cahill does a great job of confronting and challenging both rationalism and mysticism, surely sparking debates with its intriguing and provocative ideas. I Origins seamlessly blends it all with science fiction, romance and drama. It’s a film that must be approached with an open mind, and open tear ducts.

 

8. Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter (2014)

Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter

By David Zellner, Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter is based on the urban legend surrounding the death of Takako Konishi, who was reported to have died while searching for the ransom of money buried by Steve Buscemi’s character in 1996’s Fargo. In actuality, Konishi committed suicide.

This film imagines what would’ve played out if the legend was true. Rinko Kikuchi (Pacific Rim) plays Kumiko, a 29-year-old office worker who lives in complete isolation in Tokyo. She works a dead-end job under a boss that she hates, is intimidated by her well-off peers and is constantly nagged by her mother to find a husband and start a life. The only piece of joy she has is her pet rabbit, Bunzo.

She finds a VHS copy of the 1996 crime drama Fargo in a secluded cave (not sure how that got there) and upon watching the tape and seeing its only playable (aforementioned) scene, she mistakes it for a true story.

Helped in no way of course by the “this is a true story” message that pops up at the start, Kumiko obsesses over it and begins taking notes. Seeing it as an escape and a way to give her life any sort of meaning, she abandons Bunzo and sets off on a journey to Minnesota using her boss’s company card in search for the purported fortune.

Upon arrival, she finds herself unprepared for the blizzards and harsh weathers while also struggling to grasp the English language and lacking funds when the credit card is cancelled.

The most heart-breaking thing about this film is her desperation for this to be true regardless of being told otherwise multiple times. Kumiko has nothing in her life and has convinced herself of this delusion because she simply needs this to be true. It’s all she has to live for, her only tiny piece of potential happiness.

Some of the visuals during the latter half of the film are quite stunning as Kumiko wears something she fashioned out of a very colourful bed sheet against the pure, white snowy backgrounds of Fargo. It really does look nice, so you might want to have those tissues at the ready so you can see it through your tears.

 

7. Millennium Actress (2001)

Millennium Actress

Millennium actress is by highly influential Japanese filmmaker Satoshi Kon, whose other works include JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Perfect Blue, Tokyo Godfathers and Paprika.

His film about a once major movie star reliving her extraordinary life in a tell-all interview is one of the best anime features to have ever been produced. Unfortunately however, it’s one that was not given the attention that it deserved due to the hugely successful Spirited Away, with both films releasing within just two months of each other in the same year.

Loosely based on the lives of Setsuko Hara and Hideko Takamine, Millennium Actress follows two documentary filmmakers exploring the life of fictional acting legend, Chiyoko Fujiwara, as she agrees to a rare interview. Genya Tachibana and his cameraman Kyoji Ida are quite literally thrust into Fujiwara’s memories as they appear to transcend space and time, appearing within scenes of her life and her movies.

This surreal and ambitious way of the interviewees hearing the actress’s stories creates plenty of opportunity for a lot of humour. Especially through Tachibana being a huge fan and perhaps even having had a crush on the actress. Witnessing her at times of hardship and when she had been done wrong elicits actual emotional responses from him. Even going so far as trying to get involved in her memories as a knight in shining armour.

Part romance story and a great exploration of Japanese history, this anime feature achieves such a complex vision of location, setting, character, atmosphere and the human experience that it simply couldn’t exist in any other medium.

 

6. Way Back Home (2013)

Way Back Home is a South Korean true story about a woman who was falsely accused of drug smuggling at a Paris airport. Resulting from a friend of Jeong-yeon (Jeon Do-yeon) and her husband, Jong-bae (Go Soo), committing suicide after he is unable to repay his loans. As she is his guarantor, the debt falls onto Jeong-yeon.

In her desperation to secure the sizable amount, she takes a job from a seedy acquaintance. Thinking that what she is delivering from Paris to Seoul are diamonds, it turns out to be 30 kilograms (66 pounds) of cocaine. This results in her being imprisoned on Martinique.

Director Bang Eun-jin doesn’t miss a beat in presenting us with all the traits that would be expected in a story like this. Throughout most of the film, Jeong-yeon is unaware of where she is or what is expected of her. Predominantly due to the language barrier but also partly due to the prison staff generally being a-holes.

Though Jeong-yeon is the one that made a mistake that caused her to end up here (and is never painted as an innocent angel), the selfish, ruthless prison guards and uncaring public defenders are painted as the real villains. Emphasis is also placed on her being a mother to a young girl throughout, which is no help to the feels.

Jeon Do-yeon is perhaps best known for her portrayal of a broken-down woman who has lost everything in Lee Chang-dong’s Secret Sunshine (which we’ll put down as an honourable mention) among other tear-inducing movies and so has experience in delivering powerful performances like these.

Go Soo has perhaps less resources as the teary husband stuck in Korea, but gives an excellent performance as well. Way Back Home is frustratingly tragic.

This week SAR readers photos selection

Panos Zoulakis‎ Greece,Crete. A favourite place of mine that I often visit. Sony A7III & Sigma 14mm f1.8 Art #sonyalphagallery 1) You can submit one single picture per week only. 2) To submit your picture for the weekly readers roundup…

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How Good Is Nikon’s New Eye Autofocus Compared to Sony and Canon?

How Good Is Nikon's New Eye Autofocus Compared to Sony and Canon?

Nikon’s latest firmware brings some meaty upgrades for Z 6 and Z 7 owners in the shape of eye autofocus, and many were excited to see how it compares to the likes of Canon and Sony. Photographer Jared Polin was given a week’s head start with the new feature and has tested it extensively. Check out this video to see how it performs.

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Google Earth Engine Takes Time-lapse to a Higher Level

Google Earth Engine Takes Time-lapse to a Higher Level

Check out these time-lapse selections from Google Earth Engine that run from 1984 to 2018. They’re an epic way for photography and time-lapse to show the massive changes that have occurred to our planet within the span of a lifetime.

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Cars are Characters: Why Vehicles Need Personality

The details within your characters’ lives are indicative of who they are, especially their cars. So, why don’t your vehicles have a personality?

I don’t think there’s a more unifying symbol of badassery than the batmobile racing through Gotham’s streets. That car was slick. It was cool. It told you everything you needed to know about Batman. He was resourceful, technical, and had gadgets to get him out of any predicament. Batman’s car was a character unto itself.

But what about the opposite feeling?

Walter White’s Pontiac Aztec screamed lower middle class. It was one of the worst production cars of all time. It shows a family in economic despair and was as pitiful as the character.

If you haven’t guessed, today we’re going to talk about characters, their cars, and why you should imbue vehicles with traits of their own to accentuate the story you want to tell.

So, start your engines and let’s go.

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The FAA releases new rules for recreational drone users

For the past several years, thousands of hobbyist drones, plus fleets from over 116,000 commercial remote pilots, have entered the airspace causing concern amongst regulators on how to combat aerial interference. Yesterday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a notice stating that recreational pilots of unmanned aircraft must steer clear of controlled airspace and other restricted airports.

While the notice is not legally binding, if any operation by a recreational pilot fails to satisfy any of the eight statutory conditions outlined in the notice, the FAA has the authority to take enforcement action — especially if the safety of the national airspace system is compromised.

Included in the act was the repeal of Section 336, a law that exempts model (hobbyist) aircraft from new FAA rulemaking, otherwise known as the ‘Special Rule for Model Aircraft.’ The agency is now demanding compliance.

The new set of measures is the first step in addressing some of the rules and regulations outlined in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, signed by President Donald Trump after passing overwhelmingly by a 93-6 vote. Included in the act was the repeal of Section 336, a law that exempts model (hobbyist) aircraft from new FAA rulemaking, otherwise known as the ‘Special Rule for Model Aircraft.’ The agency is now demanding compliance.

‘While recreational flyers may continue to fly below 400 feet in uncontrolled airspace without specific certification or operating authority from the FAA, they are now required to obtain prior authorization from the FAA before flying in controlled airspace around airports,’ the FAA said in a statement Thursday. ‘Furthermore, they must comply with all airspace restrictions and prohibitions when flying in controlled and uncontrolled airspace.’

Prior to this notice, recreational pilots simply had to notify the airport operator and the airport air traffic control tower before flying within five miles of said airport. Now they need to obtain the same authorizations as commercial drones in controlled airspace. Because Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) is not yet available for recreational users, they’re confined to fixed sites within 5 miles of airports and Class G airspace.

The FAA intends to upgrade LAANC to allow recreational users to access the system. There are also plans for an aeronautical knowledge and safety test. Recreational users are required to pass and provide proof to the FAA or law enforcement if requested.

As the FAA’s Executive Director for UAS Integration, Jay Merkle, explains, ‘we view this as a very positive step forward for the safe integration of UAS. Including everyone under the same rules really does move everything forward.’

Many Photographers Are Switching Camera Brands. Should You Too?

Many Photographers Are Switching Camera Brands. Should You Too?

There are lots of stories here on Fstoppers about photographers, including fellow writers, who are giving up their current camera brand and changing it for a different one. If you feel you’re late for the party, you’re not alone.

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DJI Claps Back at GoPro With the Osmo Action

DJI Claps Back at GoPro With the Osmo Action

As Omar famously said on “The Wire,” you come at the king, you best not miss. When GoPro decided to get into the consumer drone market with its Karma quadcopter, it was taking aim squarely at the king of quadcopters, DJI. And it missed. Now, DJI is coming for GoPro with the release of its new Osmo Action.

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Robbery at The Camera Store in Canada – staff attacked with bear spray

TheCameraStore reports: This one hurts. A few of our staff were attacked when they tried to recover a camera as it dashed out the door in the hands of a thief. On Thursday, May 16th, 2019 at approximately 5PM, a…

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Easter Island Statues Threatened by Nose-Picking Selfie Shooters

Easter Island is a World Heritage Site that’s famous for its nearly 1,000 moai statues, and throngs of tourists flock to the island each year to visit the giant-headed monuments. But those statues are now being threatened by tourists whose goal is to shoot selfies of themselves picking the heads’ noses.

UCLA archaeologist Jo Anne Van Tilburg, who has been doing research on the island for nearly four decades, “>has found that an explosion of photo-seeking tourists is having a very negative impact on the island’s land and community.

While only a few thousand people visited the island annually in the early 1980s, that number has exploded to over 150,000 tourists per year.

Van Tilburg says she’s disheartened by how frequently travelers disrespect nature, ignore rules, climb on the statues, trample preserved spaces, and sit on graves “all in service of getting a photo of themselves picking the nose of an ancient artifact.”

“I am troubled by the lack of genuine tourist interest in the island and its people,” she tells Newsweek. “There is a lack appreciation for the Rapa Nui past. It seems that many wish only to insert themselves into history by taking a selfie with the timeless statues.

“We all need to step up, whether scientist or tourist, and do our fair share to preserve the past. Tourists can study and learn before they travel to the island. They can show proper respect for others. They can remove their egos—and their selfie sticks—from the landscape and learn to appreciate the past.”


Image credits: Photo by Arian Zwegers and licensed under CC BY 2.0

All About Lightroom’s New Texture Slider

All About Lightroom's New Texture Slider

If you recently updated to the latest version of Lightroom, you may have noticed a new slider near the top of the Develop module: Texture. With many different ways to add this sort of effect to a photo already in the program, you might be wondering if and how this new slider is different. This great video will explain what the Texture slider affects and show you comparisons with things like clarity and sharpening.

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How I Switched to Sony (And Took My Best Friend Along With Me)

It’s time to confess. I’ve been converted to Sony! But there’s more. Somehow I converted my best friend, wedding photographer Charlotte Palazzo, at the same time.

I’ve been a Nikon fangirl for more than a decade. I absolutely loved my most recent camera, the Nikon D750. The low light capabilities, resolution and the relatively small size of the camera are perfect for family, birth, newborn and also commercial photography. I really couldn’t fault the D750. Had I dropped it in a swimming pool or something similarly idiotic — which wouldn’t have surprised my husband in the slightest — I would have replaced it with the exact same model.

In March 2018, Charlotte and I went on our annual pilgrimage to The Photography Show at Birmingham’s NEC. There seemed to be lots of talk in the photography world about people switching to mirrorless, but we shuddered at the idea of changing cameras systems from Nikon (me) or Canon (Charlotte).

We walked past the Fujifilm stand, chanting “la la la la” with our fingers in our ears.

Lots of photographers were shouting about Fuji mirrorless, but so far nothing piqued my interest to investigate further. Running a business is complicated enough we felt we didn’t have the time to think about this, let alone work out the financial implications. Besides, we thought, what real difference would it make to our photography anyway? If it’s not broke don’t fix it! Photographers are forever saying that it doesn’t matter what camera you have, it’s the photographer who makes an amazing photo.

Canon, Nikon, and a bad Instagram filter, Summer 2014
The Photography Show, March 2018

Photographers are a funny breed. We compare ourselves to each other, though we know we shouldn’t. We are always looking at what locations, lenses, and lighting other photographers are using. Call it inspiration or insecurity — it is usually both.

As 2018 progressed, and more and more photographers started saying they were now switching to Sony, my interest increased. And then I read this fascinating story from wedding photographer Jessica Raphael about her switch from Nikon to Sony. It’s a great story and I can safely say Jessica, you’ve got some guts! But I also saw she mentioned the photographer Kate Hopewell-Smith was now a Sony Ambassador.

Wait, what? Kate Hopewell-Smith is a Sony Ambassador? Last I knew, Kate was a Nikon Ambassador. So that meant she was heavily invested in Nikon yet still made the switch. That’s enough to make you sit up and take notice, so I started to compare the Sony with my trusty Nikon, trying to work out what would make it worth the effort of changing. Kate details her reasons for the move to Sony in this blog post and the feature that stuck out for me was the eye focus. As much of my work is working with children who can’t stand still, this sounded like quite a selling point for me.

However, being the sort of person who doesn’t buy a new mug without reading several independent reviews; subscribing to What Mug monthly and testing out a range of close-competitor mugs for aesthetic appeal, durability, heat insulation and general mug-ness, I’m not one to be swayed by a few big names. But this list of names switching to Sony was starting to snowball, and the funny thing about it was, I couldn’t find a single person who said they regretted moving to Sony.

I started to think I’ll probably go mirrorless eventually, but not anytime soon.

Then in October 2018, I noticed that Sony was holding an Experience Sony Alpha Day hosted by Kate Hopewell-Smith and her husband Brent in Nottingham later that month. This was a full day to try out the Sony mirrorless and a styled shoot to put the cameras through their paces. And the most amazing thing, it was absolutely FREE. Both Charlotte and I signed up straight away, with a feeling that it was a good excuse for a girl’s day out!

By the time our day in Nottingham arrived, switching to mirrorless wasn’t a priority in my mind. There was maybe about 40% chance of me switching to Sony at some point. But I was interested to find out more and see what all the fuss was about.

Ultimately though, the day was an opportunity doing what we both love – taking beautiful photographs.

The Sony Experience day in Nottingham – “Charlotte, you’re in my shot!”

The morning session talked us through the camera and the key differences, and we actually got our hands on a camera, each. I found the menu rather alarming, it wasn’t anything like Nikon, and there seemed to be an infinite number of options. I’m not great when faced with lots of options (see New Mug selection above), but Kate and Brent were great at explaining the key parts of the menu and I diligently wrote notes to get my head around what was going on. Charlotte mentioned the menu was quite similar to Canon, so that seemed to be an easier bridge to gap.

Then after our free lunch (including chocolate brownies, could this be any better?), we were put to work with the wonderful models. The hair, makeup, flowers, and venue were a dream to photograph. The Prospect Room at Wollaton Hall (pictured above and below) is a remarkable, elegant location. But amidst this room full of professional photographers with decades of experience, there were lots of exclamations of “oh dear” and “what am I doing?” and a quite a bit of laughing at our incompetence. We were all like fish riding a bicycle as we tried to get to grips with the Sony and all it’s custom buttons. It felt like a whole new language.

Seeing the exposure on the electronic viewfinder was new for me of course, and that was a great feature but the main thing I was stunned by was the eye focus. A steady excitement seemed to be building among the group.

Everyone kept using the same old cliche: “gamechanger”.

At the end of the day, I assessed the photos I’d got and was struck by how many were in focus and also the sharpness. Not that I felt that my Nikon had a focus problem — it feels like it does what I tell it to do. However, it’s always going to be slower for me to toggle my spot focus onto the subject’s eye on my Nikon using my thumb, compared with the millisecond the Sony camera takes to find the eye in the photo. My slow human hands just can’t compete with a computer!

Over the afternoon I’d tried out a 35mm prime lens, 85mm prime, and 135mm prime, all of which seemed to be giving stunning results. Another nice surprise was also how the white balance and colors were perfect. On my Nikon, I use Kelvin for white balance, but I’d set the Sony to AUTO white balance as recommended by Kate and Brent.

The colors were perfect on every photo. An unexpected surprise.

I certainly wasn’t alone in my astonishment at what I was seeing. This group of assorted photographers all seemed to have fallen in love with Sony by the end of the day. As Brent had predicted in the morning, we were indeed sad to hand back the Sony cameras on our way out the door. I wanted one of my own! I now felt 80% sure that I would have to switch to Sony in the next 6 months, I just needed to figure out how much it was going to cost me and therefore how quickly I could do it.

As we walked back to the car, I checked how Charlotte was feeling about it. I asked her about whether she had changed her feelings, and what were her before-and-after percentages? I used to work in data analysis, sorry.

She hadn’t started the day with high hopes, with only about 20% chance of her switching. Indeed, she admitted she nearly didn’t come because had wondered if it would be worth her time. To be fair, she hadn’t known there would be chocolate brownie at that point, so I’ll let that one slide. However, I have to say I was astonished when she said she felt there was now an 80% chance of her switching within 6 months. This turnaround was actually quite a shock to me. I’m sure Charlotte would agree she’s far more cautious, of the two of us, regarding spending money or trying out new technology. She’s an artist and I’m more of a photography geek, so for her to have such a change of heart was quite something.

What kind of sorcery was this?

Sidenote – I do kinda feel like any camera could make these models look good

We were pretty excited as we drove back to Cheshire that day, trying to work out how quickly we could buy a Sony. Charlotte admitted to me that she couldn’t stop thinking about the Sony. Thank god she did, because I was the same.

Had we been brainwashed? I can only apologize to non-photographer friends who I bored with my details about the Sony, like when a teenager talking about their first crush. For some reason, it was really playing on my mind, and even as I used my Nikon I was comparing it feeling like the Sony would do it better.

I decided to research more, and also find out how much I would get for me Nikon kit to establish the cost of switching.

In case you’re interested, I found this blog post about the switch by Andy Smith-Dane very useful. I know from chatting to Andy that he understands the technical side of things better than most. I would also recommend this rather flashy YouTube video about the reasons to choose Sony by photojournalists The Eastcore, but with one important caveat: I think the Nikon they used for their experiments gave far worse results than my Nikon would have done in such a situation. So although it might not be a fair assessment of the Nikon, I think it’s is still helpful because the general message they are giving is valid. Try not to be too distracted by the guy’s pecs in the video, honestly how is that even normal? Try to focus on the Sony. No pun intended.

While I was doing my research, I not only noticed the number but also the range of photographers who were now shooting Sony, from the well-renowned studio photographer Gary Hill, to the outdoor lifestyle family photographer Gemma Griffiths, whose images I felt aligned very well with my style. It was reassuring that the Sony was performing well in all different fields.

I was just about convinced but needed one final push. So for 10 days over Christmas 2018, I rented the Sony a9 together with the Sony 55mm f/1.8 Zeiss lens. I would have preferred to try out the Sony a7 III with an 85mm lens, but alas those two weren’t available. Regardless, the Christmas holidays gave both me and Charlotte a chance to try it out in real life situations.

First, I organized a “model test”. Using a local child model who I’ve worked with before and her willing friend, we tested the Sony against my Nikon D750 and Charlotte’s Canon 5D Mark III. The weather wasn’t great but it was a fair test, but analyzing the results afterward I couldn’t see a massive difference in the quality of the images of the Sony and Nikon. I won’t go into boring detail, but the upshot was that while we liked the results, they didn’t blow us away as we expected.

The models were great, the colors were fab, and we found some nice light. Why wasn’t I as excited about Sony now as I had been? I was puzzled. What was I missing?

Then, on Boxing Day 2018, Charlotte, our families, and I went for a festive walk together, and I was able to test the Sony on fast-moving children. Our husbands were winding us up as usual — they joked that the Sony camera was so good that people won’t need photographers anymore, because with this “magic camera”, every image will be perfect!

Well, how wrong they were. When I got back and looked at them on my computer I despaired. The photos were pretty dismal.

After a few days, I realized what was going on. In trying out all the new functions and buttons, I was too distracted, so I wasn’t shooting like a photographer anymore. Ah yes, what did I say before? It doesn’t matter what camera you have, it’s the photographer who makes an amazing photo. Equally, you can take lots of rubbish photos on a great camera. The camera still needed me to be a photographer!

So the Sony wasn’t a “magic camera” which in some ways was disappointing. But hey, on the plus side, our jobs were safe and our husbands were wrong. So at least we could celebrate that.

And it then dawned on me why our model test hadn’t gone as I expected.

For years, I have had two favorite lenses: my 35mm prime and my 85mm prime. I never really used my 50mm prime, as it didn’t suit my style. Whenever I took it out of the drawer, I was never very excited by the results and would put it away again for a while. But as this was the only lens available, the whole model test had been confused by shooting at the 55mm focal length, which just isn’t my style.

I hadn’t been excited by any of the images — from Nikon, Canon, OR Sony — because I was really just wanted my wonderful 85mm lens on the camera!

It ain’t no magic camera!

At the end of our tests, it felt like a bump in the road. I realized I had been rather bewitched by the camera initially but I now saw it in a more pragmatic light. I still wanted a Sony, but the sense of urgency had dissipated. This camera wasn’t going to make me a better photographer, though it might make my job a bit easier.

At the same time, I had found out how much my Nikon kit would be worth at trade-in, and it was less than I expected. I could sell it via private sale and no doubt get more for it, but as I hadn’t done that before I had no idea how likely it was to sell or for what price. So the hassle and expense of switching to Sony was starting to seem rather intimidating,

Charlotte was feeling similar. She knew that she would need to replace her backup camera, Canon 5D Mark II fairly soon, but for now it was working fine and she didn’t have much of value that she could even trade in to soften the financial blow.

So during January and February, we put our Sony thoughts on the back-burner. We could switch later in the year maybe, and meanwhile we could save up for it.

Then two cameras died and everything changed.

The first was in mid-February 2019. It was one of the Nikon D700 cameras of my Playground Portraits business partner, Aurelie Kennedy. Knowing that she would need a replacement, she rented the new Nikon Z6 mirrorless to try that out, and I could tell she wanted to love it, but she just didn’t. I discussed Sony with her, but I could see that I couldn’t convert her. She is a staunch Nikon fan and has always been Nikon. However, another option was to sell her my D750. She had a tight budget, and if I was switching to Sony, well then I could also sell her my Sigma 35mm Art lens I know she’d also been planning to buy. It was a deal that would work great for both of us.

The second camera fatality came at the start of March, in rather more dramatic circumstances.

In the middle of shooting a wedding, Charlotte’s Canon 5D Mark II just died. This is precisely why wedding photographers have two cameras — thank goodness. But having not anticipated the expense of a new camera coming so soon, Charlotte was left with the choice of replacing it with a Canon 5D Mark IV ($2,800) or opting for a Sony a7 III ($2,000). As she prefers to use two cameras at every wedding, buying a Sony would mean shooting a Sony/Canon combo and she was worried it would get confusing. And of course, the Sony would require a lens or at least adapter to enable her to switch. She pondered back and forth for quite a while.

Time for another girls day out. As luck would have it, it was time for our annual trip to The Photography Show. Perhaps if we were each buying a camera it be cheaper to buy it there?

We wandered around looking at various stands but soon found ourselves at the Cameraworld stand. At every show, this stand seems to be very crowded with, quite predominantly, male customers. We made our way through the throng of men comparing lenses to a guy behind the desk and I unashamedly got out my shopping list printout where I’d noted down the list price of all the items Charlotte and I were interested in. I’d noted down the best price I’d found for each item on the internet among the most reputable retailers. I like to be prepared but I have a terrible memory.

The first item I asked about was the Sony a7 III and I half expected him to give me the same price as I had on my list. I knew that at some points demand had outstripped supply for this model, so may they wouldn’t discount it, I thought. The Cameraworld referenced his huge pricing book and quoted me a price far lower than on my shopping list.

“Fantastic!” I thought and looked at Charlotte, she was wide-eyed. We went through my list of items and the discounts on each item started adding up and up… This was turning out a lot better than I expected.

We went away to gather our thoughts and decided to try another stand to compare. Charlotte hadn’t really anticipated spending any money today, but these cost savings were too good to ignore.

Squeezed in the crowd at the London Camera Exchange, I again asked the price of each item on our list. The discounts were just the same. Finally, I added, “So if we were to buy all these items TWICE, one for each of us, that’s over £6,000 ($7,600) we would be spending here today. So what extra discount can you offer?”.

She raised an eyebrow, the manager was called, and after a short discussion, they offered a nice discount.

Decision made. We were pretty excited.

As we left the stand with our bags containing 2 camera bodies and 5 lenses between us, we looked at the time. It was 11:30am, We had arrived unsure if we would buy anything, and after being at the show less than an hour we had spent over £6,000 between us. It was a little surreal.

After that, we went straight over to the Sony stand to show Kate and Brent our shopping bags. Kate welcomed us into the family with a warm hug, and almost as excited as we were. This had turned out to be a very good day.

We also had tickets to the see the fascinating Pete Souza, Obama’s resident photographer, who had fantastic stories about his time at the White House and some hilarious scathing remarks about the current President, which were met by an entirely receptive crowd with a lot of laughter. We explored the rest of the trade show, and then as our tradition dictates, when the show closed at 5pm we went for dinner at the airport before catching an evening train back.

While already a bit giddy after what we declared “the best day ever!” we might have then had a few large bottles of wine. Back at the station, we were a little early for our train, so a tiny bottle of wine in Costa Coffee seemed to be what was needed. And of course, the logical thing to do was to get all of our purchases out on the table and ask the barista to take a photo to mark the occasion.

Joining our new tribe
Nothing says class like wine in a paper cup

Was it the right decision? One month later, now we have both used our Sonys on several shoots, what do we think? Was it worth the money, or were we just bewitched?

I have had a couple of commercial jobs booked in which were proved to be a great test. And while I hadn’t yet passed my Nikon D750 onto Aurelie, I was able to use both cameras and compare. After initially using the cameras each about 50% of the time, I quickly started noticing a difference. It was no great surprise that the features that drew my attention to the Sony in the first place — focus and sharpness — are the main reasons that I was completely loving the switch to Sony.

Charlotte has just shot her first full wedding with her Sony/Canon combo and is loving it.

“It was a dream to use, plus I have more trust in the Sony getting the eye focus. Focus modes take a little getting used to, but it’s so sharp it’s phenomenal!”

As for her worries about using Canon and Sony?

“They seem to work alongside each other well but I do find it a little tricky getting my head around switching sometimes. Having the same camera would be easier, and I much prefer using my Sony anyway, so as soon as I can justify it I’ll ditch my Canon for another Sony!”

Meanwhile, I have said goodbye to my Nikon D750 and beloved Sigma 35mm Art lens, as these went to Aurelie. I will see them, like old friends, when we shoot together though, which is a nice in some strange, photography geek, way.

And then, after I mentioned moving to Sony online I got a comment from Kirsty at Cherry Blossom Photography: “Would you happen to be selling your Nikon 85mm?”. As it happened, Kirsty lives near Glasgow, and the following week we had a trip planned to Islay at Easter and would be driving virtually past her door. So that was one other large piece of my Nikon kit sold, and I was able to add a few other useful lenses to my kit.

Somehow it’s all fallen into place. So in summary, yes, it was totally the right decision. I haven’t once missed my Nikon, and Charlotte wants to go dual-Sony as soon as she can. We are pretty happy with our new babies.

Double Sony
Showing our best sides
With our new babies

Can’t you tell?


About the author: Ellie Cotton is a family and commercial photographer based in North West England. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Cotton’s work on her website and blog. This article was also published here.

Four Color Grading Mistakes Amateurs Often Make

Four Color Grading Mistakes Amateurs Often Make

A lot goes into making a video look professional, and one of the final and most important steps is the color grade. It’s easy to make a mistake here, and this great video will highlight four such missteps that new videographers often make when it comes time to color grade.

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Panasonic Lumix S1R Wins ‘Camera of the Year’ in Japan

Canon and Nikon both unveiled their first full-frame mirrorless cameras over the past year, but it’s actually Panasonic that launched the best camera according to the Japanese photography press. The Lumix S1R was just named “Camera of the Year” at the prestigious Camera Grand Prix 2019.

Put on by Camera Journal Press Club (CJPC), a group of 10 magazine and website publications specializing in photos and cameras, the annual Camera Grand Prix recognizes the best camera equipment released over the previous fiscal year.

Last year’s top prize winner was the Sony a9. This year the Lumix S1R has been receiving rave reviews for its sensor quality, which was found to be among the best on the market.

Here are the winners of this year’s Camera Grand Prix awards along with explanations for why they were selected:

Camera of The Year: Panasonic Lumix S1R

This is one of the company’s first 35mm full-frame mirrorless models, launched along with LUMIX S1. Excellent all in all, in functionality and operability, appealing to users’ sensibility.

LUMIX S1R symbolizes Panasonic’s strenuous efforts made through the years since LUMIX G1 was released in 2008 as the world’s first mirrorless model (Camera Grand Prix 2009 Editors Award winner).

The effective 47.3-megapixel CMOS sensor combined with the image processing engine realizes a highest-level resolution, producing images that are sharp, glossy, and yet natural enough. Its High Resolution Mode synthesizes 8 consecutive images to create a stunning image equivalent to 187-megapixels. The high-precision electronic viewfinder with 5.76M-dot OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) boasts a 0.78x magnification ratio, offering the finest views among all mirrorless cameras. The autofocus function using the company’s original Depth From Defocus technology is so fast and precise that, coupled with the deep-learning AI technology, it makes itself perfect to capture such moving subjects as humans and animals.

The rugged design, weather-resistance, and the well-designed button layout that ensures a firm, comfortable grip all contribute to the model’s high credibility and operability.

Its great performance and elegance deserving to a high-end camera are successfully embodied together. The large-sized body denotes that a mirrorless camera’s advantages are fully incorporated in it.

Panasonic’s technical cooperation with Leica Camera and Sigma, namely “the L-Mount Alliance”, gives wider options to users for interchangeable lenses, surely diversifying the camera systems.

Many of the Selection Committee highly appreciated the degree of perfection and ambition displayed on this model.

Lens of The Year: Sony FE 24mm F1.4 GM

This large-aperture prime lens provides the widest angle as of today in Sony G Master series, in which the company has achieved, with its advanced optical technology, high resolution as well as spectacular bokeh at the same time.

Although it is a large-aperture, wide angle lens, the image quality is well preserved even towards the image peripheries in both sagittal and meridional directions, so an unwanted spreading of point light sources is thoroughly suppressed, offering a high resolution, beautiful picture with little aberration. It gives spectacular resolution even at the widest F1.4 aperture, realizing the long-awaited capability for shooting a starlit sky. Furthermore, its glassy bokeh is not only beautiful but natural as well.

Unlike other manufacturers’ large-aperture lenses, this one is highly small and light, going against the current trends of higher-performance, larger and heavier lenses. With little distortion, its great usability goes beyond scenic photography.

Readers Award: Olympus OM-D E-M1X

A camera which dramatically changed the concept of a mirrorless flagship.

Although this is a Micro Four Thirds model, it has an integrated vertical grip that can be firmly held and comfortably used for both vertical and horizontal shooting.

Its 5-Axis Image Stabilization with up to 7.5 Shutter Speed Steps Compensation, the reliable dust-proof, splash-proof and freeze-proof construction that allows you to shoot even in a harsh environment, and its AF performance superbly tracking moving subjects were all rated highly.

Its Handheld High Res Shot Mode as well as the Live ND (Neutral Density Filter), both reflecting Olympus’s uniqueness, add to the model’s appeal.

Editors Award: Ricoh GR III

RICOH GR series has long kept the concept of a compact and light snap shooter with 28mm fixed focal length since its first, “RICOH GR1”, a film camera released in 1996. While retaining the same basic design and usability, the series has evolved into the incomparable compact camera, GR III.

The body is smaller than the previous model, and such functions as Macro mode became easier to use. It responds very quick, attaining higher perfection by accommodating an in-camera Shake Reduction mechanism.

Apart from the GR history and its enthusiastic fans, we highly evaluated the creators’ sincere attitude toward the long-held concept and the high degree of perfection of the camera. We applaud the advent of GR III as a mature form of a GR model. An extraordinary model, attractive enough as a product. It adds value to taking photos with a camera, not a smartphone.

It raises hopes for the whole category of compact digital camera, further opening up the possibilities for high-end compact cameras.

Editors Award: Tamron 28-75mm F/2.8 Di III RXD (Model A036)

This model expresses Tamron’s very essence, with which the company provides interchangeable lenses with distinctive uniqueness that no camera makers could match with their original lenses.

This lens, with the wide-angle end at 28mm, is surprisingly small, although it has the maximum F2.8 aperture in all the zoom range and is for a 35mm full-frame mirrorless camera.

It gives a high-quality image to the image peripheries, with high resolution befitting a latest high-performance image sensor, while maintaining beautiful bokeh as a large aperture lens.

Compact enough to carry around, it lets you take photos with a shallow depth of field quite easily. Its short MOD (minimum object distance) is handy for so many shooting purposes that you may find any other lenses unnecessary.

Moderately priced on top, it seems to have been developed and offered with keen attention to users’ needs.

This well-balanced, carefully designed lens would help increase the users of full-size mirrorless cameras.

(via Camera Journal Press Club via Photo Rumors)