A Transitional DSLR with EVF Capability?

One of the biggest complaints we hear about from photographers today is lack of innovation by DSLR manufacturers. Given how far mirrorless cameras have gotten in the last few years with the electronic viewfinder (EVF) technology, it is a given that DSLRs are looking archaic in comparison, particularly when it comes to intelligent information overlays, manual focusing, focus peaking, EVF image playback and other important advancements that make mirrorless cameras not just joyful to use, but also very helpful in reducing focus issues. When using classic lenses such as the Noct 58mm f/1.2 on a DSLR, I personally find it quite frustrating that I have to switch to live view to try to nail focus with the camera at my arm’s length. Not only does that result in potential instability and undesired camera shake, but it takes me away from the optical viewfinder (OVF) and slows down the whole process. But what if there was a solution to the problem? What if DSLR manufacturers came up with a way to integrate an EVF into DSLRs and make both OVF and EVF possible? Sort of a “transitional DSLR” with both OVF and EVF capabilities. How cool would it be, if you could switch from an OVF to an EVF with just a single button? I have been thinking about this concept for a while and I think there is a way to implement this, if camera manufacturers are willing to be flexible and put some R&D resources towards such a project. It would certainly reduce the potential of mirrorless cameras taking a huge market share away from DSLR sales, which have only been declining in the past few years.

The Mirror

When it comes to mirrorless vs DSLR, we know that DSLRs have a physical limitation in terms of the flange distance (which is the distance between the mount and the sensor) – due to the presence of a mirror and the lenses which have been specifically designed for such flange distance. Therefore, DSLRs will always have the additional bulk, at least in terms of camera width, when compared to mirrorless cameras. Although at some point in the future the mechanical mirror and the pentaprism most likely will have to be abandoned completely (once EVF refresh rates and overall responsiveness get as good as OVF), providing both OVF and EVF capabilities at this point would be an ideal solution in my opinion.

DSLRs still reign supreme when it comes to fast phase detection autofocus, start up time, shutter response and the choice of native lenses available at the moment, particularly super telephoto lenses with exceptionally fast focus motors. If you don’t shoot sports and wildlife, you might have talked to friends who do, and you know they will laugh every time they hear the words “mirrorless” and “action” together – despite all the efforts to make mirrorless cameras fast in AF speed, we know that mirrorless has a long way to go not only in terms of improving AF speed and accuracy, but also in providing solid native-mount lens choices for professional needs. As of today, not a single mirrorless manufacturer offers anything professional-grade above 300mm without use of messy adapters.

So if DSLRs were modified to be able to switch between OVF and EVF, they would give the best of the two worlds in a single package. Sports, wildlife photographers and those who prefer OVF would continue enjoying the benefits of classic DSLRs, while everyone else would have the choice to switch to EVF if they desire. But how would it be possible to achieve such a task?

The first answer lies in the mirror mechanism. All current-generation DSLRs already have the capability to switch to live view mode, where the image is projected on the LCD directly from the image sensor. In this mode, the mirror goes up and stays locked up until the photographer leaves the live view mode. Leaving the mirror raised does not consume a lot of battery life – what drains the battery are the sensor and the LCD actively capturing the live data. So there is no concern with leaving the mirror locked up in this position – having been doing a lot of videography lately, I can say with confidence that practically every DSLR today can easily do this already!

Here is a diagram of a DSLR in Live View mode:

DSLR Live View Mode

As you can see, light rays are passed right onto the sensor in this mode. Note that the pentaprism is blocked in this mode, as explained below.

The Pentaprism

The second answer lies in the pentaprism, which is what flips and mirrors what you see through the lens into the viewfinder. The moment the camera mirror is raised, the pentaprism goes dead, as the light is completely blocked by the mirror (as illustrated above). This is why OVF is only available for us before or after the capture – you cannot see a thing when the camera is in the process of capturing an image, or when the camera is used in live view mode. The below diagram shows the normal operation of a DSLR, where the mirror optically projects the image into the pentaprism:

DSLR Normal OVF Mode

Now the biggest issue lies in the implementation of an EVF with the pentaprism in place. In mirrorless cameras, there is no pentaprism, since there is nothing to optically project into a viewfinder. Instead, there is a small digital screen (similar to an LCD screen on the back of the camera) that sits inside the viewfinder. So how can a DSLR integrate a digital screen inside the same area where there is an optical viewfinder? This is where the biggest challenge lies – engineers will have to think of a way where to best put the digital screen. Personally, I would propose to put the screen on the opposite side of the pentaprism, as illustrated below:

Pentaprism and OLED Screen

When the pentaprism is blocked by the mirror, the OVF goes completely black. Putting an EVF on the opposite side of the pentaprism would project the image just like it is projected normally, except the screen would only turn on in live view mode, when the mirror is raised. In normal mode with the mirror down, the screen would go black, essentially serving as the back side of the mirror. Considering how thin and tiny OLED screens are today, adding one right behind that area should not be an issue and should not result in a bulkier top of DSLRs. If putting an OLED screen where I indicated has space or other constraints, it could also be placed on the top of the pentaprism. The image would have to be turned upside down, but it would technically work.

I thought about other ideas on where to put the EVF, but they are going to be much more difficult and technically challenging to implement. For example, another idea would be to place the OLED screen right in the focus screen under the pentaprism, but since the OLED screen cannot be made semi-translucent, it would have to be mechanically inserted in live view mode and taken out in normal mode. Not a good idea at all, since it would only increase the complexity and result in another mechanical component that might fail at some point.

The Results: No More Focusing Issues!

The idea of a “transitional” DSLR sounds really good to me personally. It would give us both OVF and EVF in a single package and provide innovative features that DSLR users are craving when they are looking at mirrorless cameras. It would allow us to use our native-mount lenses that we have acquired over the years. It would make manual focusing a breeze and not keep us away from other technological advancements we see today. In the meantime, DSLR manufacturers could take this concept a step further – add phase detection pixels on sensors for faster focusing in EVF mode (this technology is already available) and further work on increasing AF speed in such mode. In addition, it would be wonderful if DSLR cameras had the capability to self-calibrate the phase detection sensor – now that would be a game changer! If phase detection sensors are on the sensor, the camera could probe for focus in live view / EVF mode and when a subject is in focus, calibrate the phase detection sensor so that it focuses exactly the same way. This would address any focus issues that we presently see on DSLR cameras. And we could take this a step further in terms of lens calibration too – have the phase detection sensor automatically adjust focus on each lens too! Since the camera would know exactly where focus needs to be, as it is already projected on the phase detection sensors on the image sensor, all focus issues could be completely addressed with such a system.

Does this sound too good to be true? Would love to hear the thoughts of our readers!

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How to Build Relationships in Photography

What’s the most important thing to maintain in any business? Confidence, market knowledge, technology? Sure, keep any one of those at the top of your list. But there’s also something else. Perhaps the most sought after and powerful asset you can ever hope to have when it comes to making yourself successful is – strong relationships.

JD Hancock

By JD Hancock

That’s right, good relationships with those who you are seeking to do business with is the most most crucial aspect of any type of business venture. This is especially true when you become a photographer. No matter what kind: landscape, commercial, portrait, wedding, lunar, Martian. It is the cultivation of relationships with other people that will make or break you in this industry – and make no mistake, it is an industry.

Gentlemen and ladies, before we begin, take a moment to congratulate yourselves on an accomplishment that is at the very least extraordinary. We, as photographers, are the jockeys of an art that has been melded with a science. We possess the skill to take time, hold it in our sometimes shaky hands, and pass it on to our clients to be forever held. We don’t just capture light, or moments, or events – we capture memory. Memories, that without us there to tend, would surely shift out of sight, and out of mind.

Amanda Tipton

By amanda tipton

Now, back to what we’re here to discuss – why relationships are so important in photography. Thank goodness you’ve found this article on dPS if you don’t already know the answer to that question. The purpose of this writing is not to give you any ironclad formula of success. In fact, I feel I should remind you that you will most likely meet with more failure than success if you plan to become a photographer of any magnitude. It is our failures that teach us, that enable us to move forward, not our successes. So, if you’ve got the guts, keep reading.

We are nothing on our own. True, I often make photographs that I never show (or intend) to show to anyone other than myself. I keep some places where I go to photograph secret, and return to them sometimes even without a camera. This is all well and good. Honestly, I usually advise such exercises because they often spark more creative thinking down the road. In this case, what I mean is that we cannot realistically be successful as photographers without the support of other people.

Portrait photographers need subjects to sit. Wedding photographers need brides and grooms to direct their cameras. Epic landscapes pass from dawn to dusk in extraordinary light without a camera to capture them and put them on walls. What I’m saying here is that we cannot reach our own potential, both artistically and commercially, without some type of audience.

Thomas Hawk

By Thomas Hawk

How do you get that audience? Well, that’s the difficult part of the photographic equation. The answer, fortunately, is fairly simple. Here are four steps to ensure you are doing your best to cultivate and maintain the relationships that will help you build and grow a career as a photographer.

STEP ONE: Be nice

When dealing with the public, and make no mistake, you WILL inherently have to deal the public, be sure to ALWAYS be polite. Even in the face of the most insulting and anger conjuring client – you must always be polite. Smile, be firm, and always remain true to yourself and your personal policies, but always be polite. This is where most new (and even experienced) photographers run into trouble. Overt politeness can go a long way in maintaining and building relationships with those who are willing to exchange money for your services. Learn to accept that you will have conflict, and that not everyone will like or appreciate your work. When you come to the realization that you don’t need to meet hostility with more hostility, you will be able to remain much calmer and relaxed. Remember, you are better at everything when you are relaxed and focused.

Roberlan Borges

By Roberlan Borges

STEP TWO: Be humble

Just as you will certainly run into those people who test your patience and civility, you will also encounter those who think you hung the moon. The bride who just can’t stop complimenting your work, or the Facebook friend that likes and comments on every single image you post. This is an unexpected accompaniment of being a well-liked photo maker. Train yourself to take a compliment with grace. Say thank you and don’t play out the situation more than it needs to be played. The key here is to stay humble. Of course, in the back of your mind you know when you make an exceptional image, or pull off a one in a million shot. That doesn’t mean that you have to be boastful or even worse, brag about your prowess. Take it from me, no client wants to deal with a photographer who is pompous or inflexible – well, most clients.

Tanakawho

By tanakawho

STEP THREE: Be honest

Hopefully, we all follow some ethical subscription be it in life or in our careers. As photographers, we must know what we can and cannot do, and in turn be honest about those facts. If your client requests you to cover a wedding and you don’t physically have the speedlights or lens to cover it, be honest. Never promise what you you can’t deliver, and most definitely don’t accept compensation for a job you’re not qualified to perform. Granted, the only way to learn is by doing. By all means, stretch your photographic legs and push the boundaries of your skills. However, always be mindful of your weaknesses, and when it comes down to it, you’ll know your limitations. Always be sure to let your employer be aware of what you can do. It will go a long way in building a lasting business relationship. That leads us to step four.

Thinkpublic

By thinkpublic

STEP FOUR: Be willing to step outside your comfort zone

This is perhaps the most difficult part to decipher as a fresh new photographer. When do you draw the line between expanding your skill and having no idea about what you’re doing? This can be troubling, yes. It can also be absolutely exciting. The bottom line, be willing to step outside of your comfort zone for your client. If it’s something you simply cannot do (and you will know), refer to the honesty principle above. That being said, most likely you are your own worst critic, and you can do more than you ever dreamed. So don’t be afraid to try something new. Your client will remember you as the photographer who was honest with them about your abilities, and communicated your willingness to try something unique.

The Shopping Sherpa

By The Shopping Sherpa

It’s tough to start out in a new field. It’s extremely tough to be a new photo maker in a market saturated with photographers. Get the best gear you can afford. Learn as much as you can. Do as much as you can. At the same time, don’t forget that you are a provider in an industry that caters to the wants of others. As such, your success is dependant on the good graces of those with whom you do business. Be honest, humble, and competent. Be bold, but never be reckless. Build relationships with your clients based on mutual understanding, and I guarantee you be a more satisfied, and dare I say a more successful photographer.

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5 Tips from the Pros on Starting a Photography Business

You’re restless in your office cubicle, or maybe the number of friends’ compliments on your photos is increasing, or perhaps you’re just ready to dive in and do what you love for a living. Before you start your own photography business, you’ll need to do some serious research and planning. Here, five of our Pro Team members share their words of wisdom on what you should take note of before taking the plunge. 

Being a full or part-time photographer means more than clicking the shutter. You are running a moneymaking business, and it’s important to be financially wise and put together a business plan so you can set goals. Several Pro Team members agreed: It’s definitely more business than photography.

“Take as much interest in the business side of things,” says music and commercial photographer Martin Hobby.  “So many businesses don’t have a business plan, but without one you are wandering around in the dark. How do you know what you should be charging if you have no idea how much you need to earn to survive each month?” He recommends starting with a piece of paper, and asking yourself:

 

  1. How much do you need to earn to cover all your basic living expenses each year?
  2. How much is your basic business overhead? (Add up all your equipment costs, insurance costs, advertising, office rent, etc.)
  3. Add these two figures together
  4. Divide by the number of jobs you think you will do a year: this gives you the minimum you must charge per job to cover your basic lifestyle.

 

There are a lot of factors that go into starting a business that go beyond your vision. “Research general requirements in your area, such as licenses, taxes and insurance requirements,” says music and pet photographer Amiee Stubbs. “You should also research the competition! It’s surprising to me how many people start a photography business with little awareness of what is already being offered in the market.”

Erica Peerenboom, senior portrait and boudoir photographer, says it’s best to seek professional help. “Check with your state about the requirements and permits needed to start a business. If possible, I recommend having a professional help you set everything up. I did this, and I didn’t want anything left out that I could later get in trouble for, especially with taxes!”

“The photography business is one of the few professions where clients look at your actual work and not your resume first,” says sports and nature photographer, David Liam Kyle. Your website is everything these days: your billboard advertisement, your storefront, your portfolio and blog. Make sure your site not only beautifully showcases your work but also helps get you more clients and increase sales. “Zenfolio is my modern-day portfolio. I can refer clients to specific links and private client folders that they can view and download images from in a professional manner. This also gives them the opportunity to see more of my other photography while they are at my website.”

“Zenfolio is a huge time-saver: it’s so easy to use that I don’t have to devote much time to creating a fantastic-looking website,” says Amiee. “I stay so busy that I don’t have time for in-person sales, so it allows my clients to purchase directly through the site.”

And lastly: “What is that old saying? You only get one chance to make a first impression…” says Erica.

What’s the cheapest and easiest way to get your work out there? Using Facebook and Instagram to grow your following. Olympic photographer Jeff Cable has more than 40K fans on Facebook alone and gains new followers by posting live action Olympic shots during the season. “Social media is critical these days,” he says.

Some photographers, such as Jeff, use social media to communicate with other photographers; others use it to gain more clients; and others use it to showcase their personal lives. “I am different than many other photographers, because my social media is aimed more at photographers than potential clients. I teach photography all over the world and have a following from that.”

Martin lets his personality shine through not only on website but on social media as well. “The lines are blurred between me and my business. I don’t want to come across as too slick and corporate. I would sooner be regarded as slightly used, battered and eccentric,” he says.

Just because it’s your photography doesn’t mean you need to run the show alone. It can be wise to enlist the help of friends and family when starting out, and down the line even hiring an accountant, manager or team members to help keep you organized and sane. (Plus, how many creative people enjoy doing the booking and numbers?)

Help from a spouse is common among the Pro Team: Martin, Amiee and David all have spouses who help run their businesses.

“My business is run by my wife, Dawn, who is my boss,” says Martin. “She’s rock solid and handles all the admin and bookkeeping stuff that I absolutely hate. She’ll be taking over all the social media side once our little boy starts school.”

Martin also uses a freelance retoucher for editing jobs, and has stared working with a marketing agency to rebrand his website.

“A good accountant is also a must, they will save you more money than you pay them.”

Ready to take the plunge? Be sure to download our Marketing & Selling Guide, and read our Guide to Creating a Business Plan.

 

Meet the Experts:

ericaErica Peerenboom

martinMartin Hobby

aimeeAmiee Stubbs

davidDavid Liam Kyle

jeffJeff Cable

 

 

 

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Advanced DSLR Audio: Getting the Shot with Corey Rich

Advanced DSLR Audio: Getting the Shot with Corey Rich

They say audio is the hardest part of video, which is probably why it’s a smart move to bring in a professional sound recordist for your next motion project. In the third installment of this DSLR audio Tech Tip, photographer and director Corey Rich sits down with Palmer Taylor, a professional audio tech, to understand his creative process and learn more about his sound-recording equipment. This discussion will tune you in and give you a deeper understanding for what it takes to make audio sound as good as it can be. 

 

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Street Photography 101: Part 3 – OnSet ep. 49

Street Photography 101: Part 3 - OnSet ep. 49

Adding neutral density filters to your kit greatly expands the variety of shots you can achieve in different lighting situations. In this episode of OnSet, Daniel Norton uses a tripod and ND filters to make some cool shots of the Union Square Farmer’s Market.

 

 

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Tips for Depth of Field Control in Macro Photography

Depth of field is the amount of distance between the nearest and farthest objects that appear in acceptably sharp focus in a photograph, it varies depending on camera type, aperture and focusing distance. If you are into photography you probably already know this and how critical it is when you photograph in macro distances.

01

This image was done with a 100mm macro lens with a life-size converter attached, at a distance of 4 inches to the object to achieve this type of magnification. The Depth of Field you see here is impossible to achieve, as there is no way to have the whole ring in focus with this focal length and this distance to the object.

Here are a couple of test shots to show a comparison between an f/8 and an f/32 exposure of this image:

02

In this particular image f/8 would give you a very shallow Depth of Field, so if you would like to have more then f/32 would seem to be a better choice, right? But if you take a closer look, you will realize it is just not that easy.

03

The magnified image shows you that f/8 has shallow Depth of Field but, because it represents the sweet spot of this lens, it gives you great detail in the focused areas. On the other hand f/32 gives you more Depth of Field, but it lacks detail overall.

This lack of detail is due to diffraction, that is the slight bending of light as it passes around the edge of an object giving the photographed image a soft focus effect. So, sharp focus and deep Depth of Field are impossible to achieve in this image due to optical limitations.

A great work-around for these limitations is Focus Stacking (also known as Focal Plane Merging, Z-Stacking or Focus Blending), which combines images photographed with different focus distances into one final image with a greater Depth of Field.

This technique is only possible if the camera, and all the elements on the image are perfectly still, so the use of a steady tripod is really important.

Another important factor is to shoot, and focus without touching the camera. In this particular image the camera was tethered with a computer and a remote shooting app was used to focus the image.

04

The best way to capture these images is to start by focusing on the closest area first, then keep shooting, making sure you cover all the focusing length (move focus farther away from the camera with each successive shot). Just use the controls of your remote trigger and app to fine-tune the focus for each shot.

The final number of shots depends on how detailed you want your image to be, but keep in mind that the more images you have, the harder it will be to process later on. This particular image was made with a merge of 21 images.

05

After the images are captured it’s time to process them. There are a lot of software options on the market for focus stacking; this image was edited with Adobe Photoshop CC. Here are the steps:

  1. Open Photoshop, go on File > Scripts > Load files into a stack
  2. Select all the pictures and turn on “attempt to automatically align layers”
  3. Select all your files in the layer panel on the right side
  4. Go to edit > Auto-Blend Layers and select “stack Images”

You will end up with a stack of layers with associated masks that look something like this:

06

Each layer mask reveals the best of each focused part of the image, and they can also be manually adjusted for more controlled results. The final images are usually very impressive and allow you to achieve effects that would be impossible to reach any other way.

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Fujifilm X-M1 Compact 16MP Digital Camera $350 at Best Buy

Ends 8/31. Best Buy has the Fujifilm X-M1 Compact 16MP Digital Camera with XC 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS Lens (Black) for $350 with free shipping. Includes Shutterfly 8×8 Photo Book with purchase.

Add to cart to see discounted price.

  • 16MP APS-C CMOS X-Trans Sensor, EXR processor II
  • 3″ tilting LCD, 1080p filming, Wi-Fi Image Transfer

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