Portrait, action and zoom are my favorite photographic styles. There is some amazing macro photography on WordPress, but that is a skill I never developed. On that note, I would like to acknowledge Reed Andariese. His nacro work is among the finest I have ever seen. Please take a moment and check out his blog, Photo Art Flight. It has a Jaw Drop rating of 5-stars.
And thank you, Heather, for making these photos look so good. The portrait shots were taken with a Vivitar SLR camera using 35mm film which is the equivalent of a full frame sensor.
I wanted to be a glamour photographer so I took a course at the local community college, but the class assignments were so irrelevant. I mean, we were instructed to take black and white photos of stop signs and cracks in the sidewalk. Where are the models? I didn’t last the semester. Of course, the instruction was designed to teach us about lighting and composition which all seemed instinctive to me. Photography became a hobby rather than a profession. I discovered that with a little bit of skill, and a decent camera, anyone can take a good picture though a photogenic subject can often make the difference.
I once did portrait work, but have since invested my time and money in telephotography. However, the macro shots I see on WordPress are so impressive that I am tempted to buy a lens and try it out. Money has always been the prime consideration so I had to make a choice between macro/micro and tele. A dedicated macro lens can be expensive, but it most likely will produce images that are superior to a kit lens.
All-in-one lenses (for example, 18-250mm) often display barrel distortion or chromatic aberration; and even though they might be used for macro-tele photography the results can be underwhelming — not wide enough on the micro end nor crisp enough at length.
I spend two hours a day researching gear, comparing photos and specifications — and I still don’t have a clue. What camera and lens do you use for macro work? Please share in the comment section.
Some years ago I sold all my camera gear to buy Christmas presents for my family. In 2014, I was given a Sony Cybershot DSC-W800 (pictured above, US$86). It’s a nifty little pocket, or compact camera with some decent specs: 20.1 megapixels, 5x optical zoom, 26mm wide-angle and 720p HD movies.
A year later there were rumors circulating that Canon was going to introduce the Rebel SL2. The camera was going to revolutionize the world of digital photography. As the world’s smallest DSLR, it was to be marketed as an entry-level camera for enthusiasts and beginners.
Typically, new camera models are announced at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the CP+ Imaging Show in Japan or Germany’s Photokina. I was really interested in the SL2 so I waited. There was no early announcement, but lots of anticipation that Canon would introduce the camera at CES in 2016. Sorry, no SL2. Maybe there would be an unveiling at the tech show in Japan or Germany. Again, nothing. Word spread that there were manufacturing delays, or that Canon was simply trying to gauge interest in a small body DSLR.
So two years and six trade shows later I was still waiting. In the meantime, the Cybershot simply wasn’t enough camera. It didn’t have adequate focal length and the AF really struggled. Most of the photos and video were out of focus and unusable so I decided to buy the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200.
The FZ200 (US$390) has created most of the content for this blog and companion YouTube channel. However, it produces only fair quality images and video. Like the Cybershot, it struggles to find focus — even more so since it was dropped.
I’ve owned the FZ200 for two years. Six months after I purchased the camera, Canon finally released the SL2 (US$649). I truly appreciate the work I was able to do with the FZ200, but what happens to many enthusiasts is that they simply outgrow the capabilities of their equipment.
The SL2 is a superior camera. For a detailed comparison click here. Understand that we’re comparing an entry-level DSLR with a small sensor bridge camera so it’s not exactly a fair comparison. The SL2 has 100% more pixels (24-12), 700% higher ISO (25,600-3200) and a larger sensor which produces far better images.
Dilemma: Do I want to upgrade to the SL2, or an intermediate-level camera? Pro or semi-pro would be ideal, but cost is a prime consideration. Since photography is not my livelihood, I can’t justify spending thousands of dollars on a hobby.
At the higher end of Canon’s Rebel series is the T7i (US$749). For a SL2-T7i comparison click here. The T7i has two major advantages over the SL2 — more focus points (45-9), and digital video stabilization which is of critical importance to vloggers. The T7i is worth the slightly higher cost. However, it is rumored that Canon will introduce the T8i in February 2019. Should you wait, or will the rumor persist for two more years? Been there … done that.
There are two other options to consider — upgrade from the FZ200 to the FZ2500 (US$998), or go semi-pro with the Canon 80D (US$1200). The FZ2500 has a one-inch sensor and shoots 4K video while the 80D, with the cost of lenses, exceeds my price range. Personally, I would rather spend less on a camera body in order to have cash for a prime lens.
Decision: I almost bought the FZ2500. The Ritz bundle was only US$2.00 more than Amazon’s camera-only price. The FZ2500, in my humble opinion, is the best Large Sensor Superzoom currently on the market. The built-in lens is capable of 20x zoom at the equivalent range of 24-480mm. The FZ200 has a 600mm range, but the small sensor produces degraded images. What good is focal length if the files are not usable?
I’m familiar with Panasonic cameras so the learning curve should be easy. Or, I could play the waiting game with Canon and anticipate a timely release of the T8i which is expected to feature 4K capability. All things considered — the best camera is the one you carry. For me, that would be the pocket-friendly Cybershot. Maybe that’s why compact cameras are still popular, and if you’re basically posting to social media a smartphone works just fine.
So, you’ve been out in the field and captured the money shot. You can’t wait to get home and view the image on your computer. You stick the SD card into the reader, wait a few moments and … yikes, there’s some color distortion, focusing issues, or maybe a background distraction that you hadn’t noticed while framing the image.
Thank goodness for photo editing. The picture above is not exactly a money shot, but it did need some fixing. My camera has a small sensor and low resolution (12.1 megapixels) so it’s a challenge to capture the perfect image. In fact, most of my photos lack crispness and detail. I typically add a bit of sharpening and color enhancement to the pictures you see here.
One of my favorite techniques is cropping. This is usually because the image is not properly framed. Your optical viewfinder may not show 100% of what the lens sees. The 5% that you don’t see could make the produced image off-center. A simple crop will fix this problem.
Cropping is useful in cutting out a visual distraction or isolating a specific area of interest, but this technique can also ruin a picture so make sure you save a copy of the original. Essentially, you are enlarging the image with a telephoto effect. However, this blows up the pixels which distorts images taken with a low resolution camera. If your camera shoots 50.6 megapixels — like the Canon EOS 5DS — this is not a problem. By the way, Canon is developing a 120 megapixel SLR. Keep in mind that entry-level cameras typically shoot in the range of 12-24 mps.
Consider whether you really need to buy a longer lens. I could have taken the shot below with a telephoto, but achieved the same effect with cropping. If you start with a halfway decent image this technique can be very useful.