Saturday, December 8, 2018

Heavy vs Light weight Tripod/Monopod

When it comes to traveling, it is always advised by millions of photographers that carry light weight gears. This is where mirrorless cameras a becoming handy and i agree with that. As i am getting older and having severe knee pain, carrying heavy DSLR is not my preferred choice. I prefer to take shot using my Fujifilm X-T20 and use old legacy Nikon lenses on it using a dumb adapter with Aperture control so even i can use my Nikon G-Type lenses on them. D-Type lenses already have aperture control on the lens.  

Now coming back of being light weight travel photographer, i often see people referring carry Carbon fiber Tripod/Monopod. This is a point where i have some concerns which i wanna share via this blog. 

Travel photographer are mostly travel to capture landscape shots among which heavy amount of images are long exposure shots. This is a point where i prefer to have heavy tripod, not light weight carbon fiber stuff. Let me explain why. 

As now Mega Pixel war is sky rocketing, the term "Micro Blur" is something that everyone who got more than 30~36MP camera must know about. Micro blur is basically a motion blur introduced into your image due to very tiny shake happens when you press shutter release by the time your exposure ends. Majority of the time it is introduced/triggered by pressing the shutter release itself. Images which are shot around 1/250 shutter speed or less are heavily subjected to have Micro Blur in it if proper pre-caution are not taken care before taking the image with these massive mega pixels cameras. Even slightest of the wind blow can shake your tripod if you are shooting with tripod legs fully extended and if its light weight. Even a strong current of sea wave can make your tripod shake while you are taking some long exposures shot with some foreground element in the frame. With camera like Nikon D850 or Sony A7R3 or Canon 5DS/5DSR will make these micro blur prominent like any thing when you view them at 100%.

It is a simple physics that any heavy object is hard to move around. This is why i prefer to have old heavy DSLR with heavy lenses and heavy tripod so i don't have to worry about any kind of shake at all. Now choosing mirrorless over DSLR is totally user dependent and based on the latest "fashion" (thats what i called). But choosing heavy tripod is something that you must consider it regardless you are heavy DSLR shooter or light weight mirrorless. By choosing a heavy tripod you are basically creating extra layer of protection for yourself if you are shooting long exposure and you are having higher megapixels cameras. 

Now here is another thing i like to share which is interesting. I have explained above in detail that your tripod must be heavy. But when it comes to monopod, i suggest otherwise. When it comes to Monopod, your preferred choice must be a light weight carbon fiber monopod. Now again why light weight carbon fiber monopod? Before i answer this question i have another question for my blog readers. Why we use Monopod? The basic and most common answer is TO EASE our hands and shoulders from the heavy gears that we are carrying around. Monopod is basically use for longer focal length lenses like 400/500/600mm focal length primes or Zooms like 200-500/5.6, 120-300/2.8 or 150-600mm lenses. Maneuverability is something which make us use Monopod over Tripod. So the lighter the monopod is going to be, the better maneuverability is going to be for us when we shoot sports/action/wildlife. 

So based on my brief experience, i suggest you all that heavier tripod and lighter monopod will help you in getting better and sharper images regardless what ever gear you are using. 

Happy Clicking Guys !

Babar Swaleheen
Flickr 500px Instagram Youpic

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

My first image using medium format  Fujifilm GFX 50R

Sunday, November 18, 2018

What is the advantages and disadvantages of using medium or small RAW files

Today I ready a question about will different RAW format (small or medium) going to effect the image quality? I believe question is totally valid. So lets get dive into the techie details.

If anyone knows how sensor, SNR firmware and how different form of sampling works when you do file compression then these full size RAW, mRAW & sRAW practically doesn't matter at all when it comes to image quality. Allow me to explain how.

Image quality depends on per pixel, NOT the total number of final pixels you are getting, and how you extract data from the sensor using SNR firmware. When you press shutter release, camera sensor exposes ALL pixels and it goes into the buFree. From there you filter out the data PER PIXEL which came from the sensor and then start packing the bits of each pixel into medium and small BOXES (medium or small RAW) using compression algorithm. So in short, what you getting from the full sensor is what you going to pack ultimately into medium and small packets .... Right!

And that perception that full raw image looks more sharper than medium and small RAW, is depends on many factors like your display resolution, lens fadility, software glitches which is suppressing the full RAW information into medium and small RAW which is causing loosing quality of the image as we are downsampling it. Many people don’t know that when you downsample any information, YOU CANNOT CREATE INFORMATION WHICH IS NOT THEIR AT THE FIRST PLACE WHICH WAS DISCARDED AT TIME OF COMPRESSION and making medium/small raw file. Therefore if you see that your images are not as sharp and full with quality the way it is in full size raw then now you should know why.

So in short, who ever using D850 with small or medium raw file size is basically not utilizing the full potential of it. If you really feel like you need 25 or 11 MP from D850 then better buy a used D750 or D700 to get the similar 24 or 12MP in more efficient way at very cheap price in compared to expensive D850. In this way you will be having at least back of D850. Keep your D850 for exclusive shots and use D750/700 for regular stuff. Note that processing D850 files itself makes you to upgrade your computing resources. So yes having D850 is basically a blessing and curse at the same time depending how you take it and how deep your pockets are.

Babar Swaleheen
Flickr 500px Instagram Youpic

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Using a medium format lens on regular DSLR

10 days ago, while i was searching for some unique manual focus lens, out of no where i came across one dumb/passive adapter using which i can use specific set of medium format lenses over my Nikon DSLR. That adapter basically enables Pentax 6x7 medium format mount to coupled with Nikon F-Mount. You can find that mount using this link. 

So why using this adapter? what so special about Pentax lenses. Cut story short, Pentax had a rich history in making some really nice medium format lenses which produces some really highly saturated colors and some yummy contrast keeping the sharpness to the max which is not a common thing even in modern day lens design. So using that adapter, now you can buy cheap Pentax 6x7 medium format lenses and use it. Of course they will be manual focus only due to the passive adapter. So if you are manual focus user, then this blog is a dessert for you.

When i had the adapter with me, for experimentation purpose, i  ordered 135mm f/4 from Asahi Pentax SMC Takumar Macro lens just for testing purpose. Why macro? because i dont have any macro lens with me right now.

Ones i received the lens. i used that passive adapter and couple it with my trust worthy Nikon D700 and results were really good. Let me share a Youtube video using this link and sample shots below. You can clearly see the difference in performance between old Nikon legendary lenses vs some old Pentax medium format lens.

Below are Sample Shots from Pentax SMC Takumar 135mm f/4 Macro. Note that for comparison, i had 2 additional lenses (Nikon 135mm f/2 AI-S & 135mm f/2.8 AI-S lenses). Typically speaking, f/4 on medium format is roughly equal to f/2.8 over Full Frame. Therefore, Nikon 135mm f/2.8 Ai-S is the nearest choice to compare with Pentax Takumar 135mm f/4 medium format lens.

Note that these below images are straight out of the camera with no editing what so ever.  The shot was taken by both lenses using the same distance and same EXIF data. Left shot is from 135mm f/2.8 AI-S. Right shot is from Pentax SMC Takumar 135mm f/4. You can clearly see how much rich color and contrast Pentax lens is producing. 

Some more shot. Left is 105mm/2.8 AI-S. Right is from Pentax SMC Takumar 135mm f/4.  

Bottom Line:

- Bokeh from 135/2.8 AI-S from Nikon is the same like 135mm f/4 from Pentax Takumar. 

- Pentax SMC Takumar producing some really nice rich color & high contrast images right from the camera. 

- The Bokeh from Pentax SMC Takumar 135mm f/4 is some how detailed.

Thanks for stopping by. See you soon. Happy learning guys. 

Babar Swaleheen
Flickr 500px Youpic

Sunday, April 8, 2018

A brief note and explanation about lens equivalency

Have you ever wonder how come lens equivalency works across different digital formats? Today I did a small illustration using the coffee mixing sticks. 

In this illustration, I have tried to show this idea that if you want to achieve the same angle of view across full frame and crop sensor then how and why you need different focal length. Why 50mm on full frame gives an equivalent angle of view of 75mm on the crop sensor. The answer is, to cover the large area of the sensor (which will be FF in this case) you need a bigger circle of projection which means you ultimately have to design lenses of a smaller focal length (50mm in this case) which ultimately covers the full frame. 

In case of a crop sensor, you have less area to cover which means the small angle of projection you need to cover the entire sensor which ultimately achieves by designing the longer focal length lenses. Longer focal length produces a small angle of projection. 

Hope this simple illustration will clear this confusion that why 50mm on Full Frame is equivalent to 75mm on a crop sensor. Also, note that through this illustration, physically focal length has nothing to go with the sensor size. You can switch the focal length and results from the 75mm will be 75mm and 50mm will act as a 50mm. If you switch 50mm on a crop sensor, it will remain 50mm and will give you the same depth of field of 50mm because physically the focal length does not change so this non-sense idea which circulating around the photography world that if you use Full Frame lenses on a Crop sensor camera bodies "multiplies" your focal length and gives you extra reach .... is total NON-SENSE.

Happy learning guys. 

Babar Swaleheen

Saturday, March 3, 2018

There is no such thing as a Lens Equivalency & there is one more thing .....

I was not feeling good to go out for shooting so thoughts let not waste time and do some experiments at home hands-on rather than trying to convince people by breaking the keyboard.

I have told endlessly at on various photography forum that focal length of any lens is a number and it has NOTHING TO DO with the sensor size or thing call "Equivalent" focal length. NO, IT'S NOT EXISTS. 50mm is a 50mm across all format of sensors. I did a little experiment at home and I used 2 lenses on Full Frame Nikon D850.

A- Nikon 35mm f/1.8G DX (Crop Sensor Lens at the left-hand side)

B- Nikon 35mm f/2D (Full Frame Lens on the Right-hand Side).

To some people, it will be a shocker to see that Left-hand side DX lens almost not produced any sort of Vignette at all on the full frame body. There is very very small sort of vignette which was expected because of the small circle of projection by the DX lens on the FX body but the magnification of the 35mm DX lens at the left-hand side is the same just like a Full Frame 35mm f/2D. This proves nothing but a simple fact that there is such thing call lens equivalency. A 35mm focal length is a 35mm focal length across both formats. I said multiple times in past at various photography forums that LENS HAS NO IDEA WHAT SENSOR BENEATH IT. THEY PASS THE SAME AMOUNT OF LIGHT TO THE SENSOR REGARDLESS.

And there is ONE MORE THING .....

Check the second image screenshot down that I took at 100% view and look very very closely. Why the right-hand side image looks more 3D in compared to the left-hand one? I guess we already discussed a lot lately about the 3D characteristic of some old lenses which not many people know about it .... And here is the proof of it. Many old manual focus lenses produced 3D projection images on 2D plane sensor with rich color, sharpness and high contrast. I took the image where ISO, Aperture & S.S. was the same including the distance of the camera from the subject including did NO POST EDITING AT ALL and YET Right-hand image is more saturated, more contrasty and it is literally JUMPING out from the screen, unlike the left-hand side. Click on the image and look closely.

Next experiment will be done about the performance of the APS-C vs Full Frame with hands-on evidence showing that now it doens't matter what format of DSLR you have, they all are performing the same. The performance gap of the APS-C vs Full Frame is almost gone now. Wait for the next blog guys.

Happy Learning.


Monday, February 12, 2018

The Future of Silicon Wafer technology in Digital Photography

Silicon wafer technology is reached to its maximum limit now. There is nothing new to offer by all these camera companies when it comes to sensor technology to be honest. Number of Mega pixels are pretty much limit on both APS-C and Full Frame now. You cannot cramp more than 24MP in APS-C sensor size which ultimately gives you around 54-56MP over the Full frame if you keep the same pixel density. Why i am saying this? Reason is, if you have more then 24MP on APS-C size sensor, the Dynamic Range and SNR performance of that digital sensor degrades exponentially. So 24MP is the optimum threshold and all camera companies are making DSLR around it. Only Samsung have one model which got 30MP i guess on APS-C size sensor and its DR and ISO performance is way worse.

Now i have used a word "same pixel density". What it means that both APS-C and Full Frame having same number of pixel per square mm. Best examples are Nikon D7000 (16MP) which gave us D800 (36MP). Then we witnessed 7D MK II (20.2MP) which ultimately leads to Canon 5DS/5DSR. And then in last the world witnessed the Nikon D500 which leads to Nikon D850. All these cameras used the same pixel pitch which means the size of the pixel on APS-C and Full Frame remains the same. So what exactly makes any Full Frame camera works better then APS-C if both are having the same pixel pitch? We will discuss that in some future blogs. Lets stick to the sensor technology future right now.

Here is the funny part. The more pixels you going to push into the sensor (regardless its APS-C or Full Frame), the more DR you are going to lose. It means pixel are becoming smaller and smaller day by day and their ability of light capturing the light is becoming limited. The more pixel is going to be smaller, the quicker it will fill up with light which ultimately going to reduce the ability of recovering shadows or reducing highlights in post processing. The only salvation is nothing but "SNR firmware updates" which going to make the performance difference and help these companies to offer the new model with improved ISO performance based on keeping the same 24MP count. I guess I have unlimited times mentioned in many posts about this fact ISO has nothing to do with exposure because it is APPLIED Gain which applies on the "capturED" image after the sensor. All these camera manufacturing companies releasing different models based on the different SNR software. Best example is Nikon D750 which used the old Nikon D610 sensor but due to its strong SNR firmware its performance is still unparalleled in the category D750 stands in.

Now on horizon, there are 2-3 new tech coming. As now we have learned that you cannot have more than 24MP in APS-C sensor size, so what is selling point of future DSLR? Increased number of pixels or improved ISO perhaps !!! The only way to increase the pixel density is by changing the architecture of the sensor which is ...... BSI sensor. (Please google about BSI sensor if you don't know what it is). In brief, the traditional digital sensor pixel wiring from the top of the photosite which blocks the light by a huge amount. In BSI (Back Side Illumination) the wiring of the photosite is underneath the sensor which make photo receptor to capture more light then before.

By wiring the photosite (AKA pixel) from the back of the sensor we are actually having around roughly 30% more light coming into the same tight pixel which means we will be having the better native gain. Now in order to take advantage of having this extra gain, what these companies are working on right now is, they are cramping more pixel into the same tight APS-C size sensor and then using the same SNR technique which they are using on other camera models, they are maintaining the same (probably better) ISO performance on the APS-C size sensor by having MORE then 24MP. This is how companies are using SNR as an extra leg of the exposure triangle and playing with the sensor technology and making money at the same time.

Soon we will be having around 28-30MP max keeping the same Dynamic Range & ISO performance variance on Fujilfilm X-T3 just like X-T2, but this time, mega pixels will be more then X-T2. Just like X-T1 when it had 16MP but they released the X-T2 with more mega pixels and better SNR software which makes X-T2 a legendary camera status. Now history is going to repeat itself for X-T3 and again we will be having more mega pixel on X-T3 (thanks to BSI sensor) and with improved SNR. Other camera companies will be doing the same.

So BSI sensor is the next big thing which is already available now and giving these camera manufacturing companies to WORK AROUND their way (as silicon wafer technology is already hitting the ceiling/threshold of 24MP) by using BSI sensor. There are around 50 new ways of making any sensor efficiently using different architecture and sensor manufacture techniques and BSI sensor is just one example.

In future, you will be seeing curved sensor (which required total new lenses line up) and "Adaptive resistance" sensor which will be making HDR image right from the camera, and i am not talking about that HDR option in your DSLR which only works on JPG. in Adaptive resistance, it will be applying directly on RAW.

Time to wrap up this small blog showing the limitation and workaround of any digital sensor coming in modern day DSLR. Hope you like it.

Happy Learning guys.


Saturday, January 13, 2018

Interesting finding about new Nikon 180-400mm f/4E FL lens.

Today I read about the new Nikon 180-400mm f/4 E FL lens who’s price is in 5 figures ($12,999). And then I went through the specs and all fancy features which that lens is offering. But while I was reading the description of the lens, I came across a very interesting fact which I like to share.

The lens is 180-400mm f/4 constant aperture. There is also 1.4x Teleconverter built in. Now this leads to some interesting fact, 

The effective focal length without 1.4x TC
A- On Full Frame: 180-400mm f/4
B- On Crop Sensor: 270-600mm f/4

The effective focal length with 1.4x TC
C- On Full Frame: 252-560mm f/5.6
D- On Crop Sensor: 378-850mm f/5.6

Now this looks like a typical boring calculation. But Point-C caught my attention. This resulting focal length and aperture is almost the same like Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E lens which is 1/10 price of this expensive lens. So quickly some question POP UP in my mind, 

- Why this new lens is 10x the price of the cheap 200-500mm f/5.6E lens?
- Will it there will be performance difference between the cheap 200-500mm f/5.6 E lens vs ultra expensive 180-400mm f/4E FL lens?

The answer of the first question is simple. I believe Nikon is now virtually making 2 type of products. One is for total Pro which is expectedly expensive which comes with full blown out performance features. And then there is “lite” version of the same heavy product but with some trade off of the features but at affordable price. Best examples are D7500 which is a LITE version camera of D500. Cameras like D750 and D610 which carry the same sensor but D610 is little inferior when it comes to AF points and ISO performance unlike mighty D750. 

For second question answer, Yes there will be significantly performance difference between the 2 lenses. The 200-500/5.6E will be not as fast as this Pro 180-400/4 (with 1.4x TC) when it comes to fast and bang on AF. There are not focus recall buttons of 200-500/5.6E lens. Focus recall memory button is a huge deal for the wildlife, specially bird photographers which is present on 180-400/4E FL lens but not on 200-500/5.6E . People also needs to learn that AF is not only depends on the lens but also on the camera body you uses. AF performance is the combination of both camera and lenses you used on it. Then comes the VR function. This is the point where I personally believe both lens will neck to neck. I have used 200-500/5.6E lens and its VR function is insanely damn good. I have shot at 1/20 second @500mm handheld and the image was tek-sharp. I am sure that 10x expensive 180-400/4E FL lens is no less then 200-500/5.6E when it comes to VR. As far as optics goes, 200-500/5.6E already proven itself. Now lets see how the big brother will be doing in the real life scenario.

Now last thing and most important thing, which lens shall I buy as both are serving nearly identical focal length and aperture (using 1.4x TC)? Shall I go with 200-500/5.6E Lite version? Or go full-on Pro version of 180-400mm f/4E FL lens? Answer is its up to you. Its totally depends on how deep your pockets or how much funded you are. But most importantly, does your work really ask for the Pro 180-400mm f/4E FL lens? If yes then why not. For people like me I am more then happy with 200-500mm f/5.6E lens as it is full filling all my needs. I highly recommend that lens. But yes at the same time, stand alone 180-400mm f/4E FL lens itself give you 1.4x TC flexibility which is not present in 200-500mm f/5.6E. Choice is yours.  

Happy Learning....