Posts Published in January 2010

Giving Away a Tamron Superzoom

Update: This giveaway is now over. We’ve randomly selected a winner and posted the announcement here. Thanks for participating!

Hello friends. Ready for another giveaway? Here it is: We’re giving away a Tamron AF18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di-II VC LD Aspherical IF Macro, a lens Wikipedia classifies as a “superzoom“. This lens has a list price on Amazon of $1,333.95, and a “street” price of $629.

This lens goes from very wide (18mm) to very telephoto (250mm), giving it the largest ratio (15x) for DSLR cameras on the market today and making it very useful as a walkaround lens.

This lens is available for crop factor cameras only. If the winner has a full frame camera, we can substitute the lens for the Tamron AF28-300mm (same list price). You can choose either the Canon or the Nikon version of this lens.

To enter, all you need to do is:

Link us to the favorite photo you’ve taken

There are two ways to enter, and doing both methods will give you 2 entries in the contest, and thus double the chance the win!

  1. Leave your response as a comment (on this post, not Facebook)
  2. Tweet your response, and include the following link to this post anywhere in the tweet:

    As long as the link appears in the post, you’ll be automatically entered in the contest.

This contest will end next Wednesday on February 3rd, 2010. We’ll randomly pick a winner using and post an announcement. Good luck, and we look forward to seeing all your favorite photographs!

A big thanks to our sponsor Tamron, who is providing the lens for this giveaway!

Freeze Your Camera for Less Noise

Last Friday an anonymous poster on the photography board of 4chan sparked a discussion that rippled into the blogosphere after freezing their camera to see whether ISO performance improves at lower temperatures.

They stuck their Sony A350 into the freezer for 15 minutes, and posted the following before and after comparison of noise at ISO 3200:

Regardless of whether or not these results were fabricated, it has long been (though perhaps not widely) known among photographers that digital cameras have better ISO performance (i.e. less noise) at lower temperatures, which is why sensors are often cooled for astro-photography. Other photographers also report improved ISO performance when shooting in very cold environments.

Zodiac Light did an interesting experiment in which a Canon 350D was cooled, and the amount of noise measured. They found that cooling the sensor resulted in a 40% drop in the amount of noise.

Obviously you shouldn’t freeze your nice camera to test this out yourself, but it’s an interesting fact to know, and could be useful if you’re interested in long exposure photography.

(via The Phoblographer)

Thanks to Nathan Yan for briefing us on thermal noise.

Image credit: Don’t drop your camera! by Island-Life and used with permission.

Camouflage Your Thermostat with Photos

Have an ugly thermostat in your home that you wish you could hide when not in use? Hanging photographs on your wall could help you make it much less noticeable. Apartment Therapy suggests hiding it in plain sight by using framed photos that are similar in appearance:

Weather in the Northeast being what it is, our in-wall thermostats, radiators and air conditioners are usually only used for a fraction of the year and the rest of the time they serve as unsightly additions to our décor. […]

Hide it in plain sight: We love how the thermostat blends perfectly into Chancie’s family photo wall. As part of the composition of frames it doesn’t stand out — past house sitters have even had trouble finding it.

If you’ve always wanted to hang up some photos, perhaps this could give you a push into making it finally happen.

(via Lifehacker)

Chicken Video Wins Nikon Festival Prize

Nikon just announced the winners of the Nikon Festival short film (140 seconds or less) contest a few hours ago, with the grand prize winner going to Marko Slavnic for his Chicken VS Penguin film embedded above. The win comes with a cool $100,000 and a Nikon D5000 DSLR kit. Slavnic’s description:

We all have our share of bad jobs as teenagers. This was mine.

The audience award winner ($25,000) was New York State of Mind by Josh Friedberg.

24 hours in New York City, shot over two different days last year. Working with the Driendl Group I’m lucky enough to gain access to some amazing locations. Starting with sunrise over the East River, moving on to shoot Jerry Driendl at the old Yankee Stadium, back to the lab for a bit, then out to a packed Times Square. Just when I thought the day was done, huge snowflakes started falling from the sky, so it was time to break out the kit again and try to capture the fleeting interaction of nature and the city that never sleeps. A beautiful end to another day in the city. I love the energy of NYC.

Strange Worlds by Matthew Albanese

Our jaws dropped when we came across Matthew Albanese’s work. He uses everyday materials to create astonishingly detailed small-scale miniatures of stunning landscapes, and then photographs them using forced perspective techniques.

Here’s his statement and a taste of his work:

My work involves the construction of small-scale meticulously detailed models using various materials and objects to create emotive landscapes. Every aspect from the construction to the lighting of the final model is painstakingly pre-planned using methods which force the viewers perspective when photographed from a specific angle. Using a mixture of photographic techniques such as scale, depth of field, white balance and lighting I am able to drastically alter the appearance of my materials.

Tornado made of steel wool, cotton, ground parsley and moss

Paprika Mars. Made out of 12 pounds paprika, cinnamon, nutmeg, chili powder and charcoal

Volcano, “Breaking Point”, made out of tile grout, cotton, phosphorous ink. This model volcano was illuminated from within by 6-60 watt light bulbs.

Aurora Borealis. This one was made by photographing a beam of colored light against a black curtain to achieve the edge effect. The trees were composited from life ( so far the only real life element in any of these images) The stars are simply strobe light through holes in cork board.

Fields, After the Storm. This model is simply made out of faux fur(fields), cotton (clouds) and sifted tile grout(mountains). The perspective is forced as in all of my images, and the lighting effect was created by simply shifting the white balance.

To see more of Matthew’s work, you can visit his website.

Canon Working on In-Viewfinder LCD and Sensor-based Stabilization

Based on patents recently filed with the United States Patent Office, Canon seems to be working on technologies that could have a huge impact on how you photograph.

Since these are simply patent applications, there’s no guarantee the technology will find its way into cameras anytime soon. However, it’s interesting to see what the camera corps are working on and what we might expect sometime further down the road:

Viewfinder LCD

One of the developments is the introduction of a small LCD screen in the viewfinder, separate from the live, optical view. In the images from the patent application shown above, you can see the LCD view above the traditional optical view and information bar on the right.

This means you can keep your camera pressed to your face while shooting, reviewing prior images on the in-viewfinder LCD rather than the LCD on the back of the body. If you constantly pull the camera away from your face to review what you just shot, this feature might give you an extra boost in productivity.

Sensor-based Stabilization

Another interesting thing found by Photography Bay in the patent application for the in-viewfinder LCD is the mention of an in-camera image stabilization feature.

This is interesting to note due to the fact that Canon and Nikon have long advocated image stabilization and vibration reduction built into lenses rather than camera bodies, even while other DSLR-makers (i.e. Sony) have offered stabilization built into bodies via sensor shift technologies.

Will we see Canon and/or Nikon introducing sensor shift stabilization soon? This would be a big deal, since it would instantly improve the performance of non-IS/VR lenses.

Your Thoughts?

You can learn more by reading the patents yourself here: 20100003025 and 20100002109.

What do you think of these two features? Do you want them included in Canon/Nikon bodies, or would cameras be better off without them?

(via Photography Bay)

Photographers Protest UK Terror Laws

This past Saturday, over 2,000 professional and amateur photographers gathered at Trafalgar Square in London to protest recent cases of anti-terrorism laws being used to stop public photography. The protest, organized by the group I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist!, was against section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, which allows officers to stop and search photographers without needing any “suspicion” if the photography is occurring within certain areas.

After a number of high-profile incidents in which photographers — some award-winning — were stopped, searched, and even detained, memos have been circulated among police forces advising them to exercise more discretion in their duties:

Whilst we must remain vigilant at all times in dealing with suspicious behaviour, staff must also be clear that:
– there is no restriction on people taking photographs in public places or of any building other than in very exceptional circumstances
– there is no prohibition on photographing front-line uniform staff
– the act of taking a photograph in itself is not usually sufficient to carry out a stop.
Unless there is a very good reason, people taking photographs should not be stopped.

Officers should be reminded that it is not an offence for a member of the public or journalist to take photographs of a public building and use of cameras by the public does not ordinarily permit use of stop and search powers.

However, stories of officers hindering photographers’ work continue to surface, prompting photographers and groups to step up their calls for more leniency and freedom to photograph without being confronted.

Were you at the protest? Have you been stopped and searched in the UK? If so, we’d like to hear from you in the comments!

Image credit: Photographs by Rion Nakaya and used with permission.

“Racist” Camera Phenomenon Explained — Almost

Asian American blogger Joz Wang, of wrote a post titled “Racist Camera! No, I did not blink… I’m just Asian!” last year when she discovered a user-unfriendly feature on her Nikon Coolpix S630.

Whenever she took photos of herself or her family members, the camera would prompt, “Did somebody blink?” did a balanced follow-up on the issue, noting that several technologies have problems with face detection on people with non-Caucasian features, much in the same way early speech recognition software had difficulty recognizing different accents.

Time explains how face detection works:

The principle behind face detection is relatively simple, even if the math involved can be complex. Most people have two eyes, eyebrows, a nose and lips — and an algorithm can be trained to look for those common features, or more specifically, their shadows. (For instance, when you take a normal image and heighten the contrast, eye sockets can look like two dark circles.) But even if face detection seems pretty straightforward, the execution isn’t always smooth.

And why Wang’s eyes may have been more difficult to detect:

The blink problem Wang complained about has less to do with lighting than the plain fact that her Nikon was incapable of distinguishing her narrow eye from a half-closed one. An eye might only be a few pixels wide, and a camera that’s downsampling the images can’t see the necessary level of detail.

HP’s face tracking technology on the HP Pavillion webcam had its share of problems as well:

However, Time was unable to get an entirely straight answer out of the companies as to how and why their products were released before realizing the problem. Nevertheless, thanks to the power of customer complaint and the viral nature of online griping,  Nikon and HP say they are working to improve their product:

Perhaps in this market of rapidly developing technologies, consumers who fork over a few hundred dollars for the latest gadget are the test market. […] With the flurry of consumer complaints out there, most of the companies seem to be responding. HP has offered instructions on how to adjust its webcam’s sensitivity to backlighting. Nikon says it’s working to improve the accuracy of the blink-warning function on its Coolpix cameras. (Sony wouldn’t comment on the performance of its Cyber-shot cameras and said only that it’s “not possible to track the face accurately all the time.”)

Still, this begs to question what the flaw might be in how products are tested, by whom and with whom.

Image credit: Photograph by Joz Wang

Tamron Launches YouTube Series for Newbies

This past Monday, Japanese lens corp Tamron launched a new 12 week video series on their YouTube channel geared towards helping beginners understand their equipment. Each video is 1 minute long, and will cover topics such as white balance, RAW vs. JPEG, and more. Once this introductory series is complete, they plan on posting intermediate and advanced videos as well.

If you just got a DSLR and would like to be brought up-to-speed for a minute a week, then this might be a YouTube channel to subscribe to.

(via Photography Bay)

Instant Prints with Your Digital Camera

Can’t wait for Polaroid to make its grand comeback this year? You can use your current camera like a digital Polaroid camera with the Portable Photo Printer by Pandigital, announced at the end of last year. It uses Zero Ink (ZINK) technology for ink-less, instant 4×6 printing, and is the first ZINK printer at this print size. The ZINK paper used by the printer has dye crystals embedded inside the paper itself, and is activated by the printer using heat.

You won’t need a computer to use the printer, as the memory card slots, LCD screen, USB ports, and controls are all located on the printer itself. The printer has an MSRP of $149.99, but is usually found online bundled with paper packs for less.

(via Trend Hunter)