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2017.06.20

Version 3 of Neocamera is entering BETA today. The new 2017 edition features a refined design and dynamic layout to accommodate a greater variety of devices than ever before. As many as 25% of our readers are using mobile devices now, many of them have low resolutions compared to computer and even laptop displays.

The new version is designed to be faster and use less bandwidth than the previously. Last week, we quietly rolled out HTTPS support across servers, so every page is now accessible via SSL for greater privacy and security.

All generic sections of the site now automatically switch between 3 widths of layout and support devices as small as 640 pixels wide. Nothing smaller will be supported as there are not many devices that small being sold anymore, so those are not expected to remain in the market for long. Neocamera BLOG will be transitioned as a secondary priority since it is already less wide than the main site and all important content already fits within screens 640-pixels wide.

It is a BETA. There will be glitches and wide pages still need to be transitioned one at a time which will happen over the next months. Some pages by their nature are infinitely wide and those simply shall remain scrollable sideways just as they always were. This includes all search, comparaison and listing pages.

Note that those who visited Neocamera yesterday will have out-of-date files in their cache. Should things look strange, make sure to refresh your browser. Some require two refreshes or SHIFT-Refresh to update dependent files such as CSS and Javascript.

While this Neocamera BETA has already been tested numerous browser, operating system and device combinations, there are many more out there and if things still look wrong after refreshing your cache, those using HTML 5 capable browsers can report problems. Just fill out the Report Problem form accessible from the BETA label above the Neocamera logo.

Neocamera Blog Neocamera.com © Cybernium

2017.06.05

Nearly all digital cameras, including all DSLRs and nearly every mirrorless ever made, show a view recorded through the lens. By definition, DSLRs use an optical viewfinder which makes it the easiest to see subtle changes in the view when using filters such as a polarizer.

A Circular Polarizer, further referred to simply as Polarizer, is a special filter which filters out light with a certain polarization. It is used to diminish the effect for haze and reflection which results in increased saturation when taking photos of nature. When shooting through glass, a polarizer helps see more clearly by reducing surface reflections. Here is an unpolarized shot of the Cotopaxi:

First is to know when to put it on and when not too:

  • It is not advisable to keep a polarizer on constantly, although some people who do that, because usually reduces light by 2 stops. The only exception to this are Hoya HD filters which reduce light by just one stop. This forces the camera to either use a slower shutter-speed, which makes things that move blurry, or higher ISO which makes images more grainy.
  • Polarizers are not useful in dull or diffuse light. They only have an effect when the polarization of light differs sufficiently.
  • They are useful in bright directional light and you should see the effect right away when it is. Even in bright light, their effect is strongest at 90-degrees from the sun. If you are shooting into the sun or directly away, there will be very little difference.
  • Polarizers are not recommended for ultra-wide-angle lenses, due to the previous point. Specifically, if the scene being photographed includes light that is parallel and perpendicular relative to the sun, the polarizer will only affect part of the light and results will look very strange.

Here is the same scene of the Cotopaxi taken with a Hoya HD Circular Polarizer mounted:

Note how details are more visible on the side of the volcano. There are also more details in the snow-covered area which are highly reflective. The biggest difference in this scene though is a change in color. The sky blue is actually caused by light bouncing in the air between water and dust particules. When the polarizer is in effect, a notable proportion of the blue goes away, making vegetation look greener and more saturated.

Second is how to use a polarizer:

  • Looking through the viewfinder, frame your shot, zooming if necessary, then rotate the outer ring of the polarizer. Make sure the filter has been screwed sufficiently tight. Otherwise, you’ll unscrew the whole thing and it can fall to its death.
  • Rotate the ring until you see the most pleasing image. Generally the sky gets darker to a point and then start brightening up. At the darkest point, the effect is maximal but you may not want to go that far if it makes the scene look unnatural, such as the sky being much darker than the foreground.
  • Polarizers also remove reflections. If that is the goal, rotate the ring until you see the least reflection where you want it to go away. It is rare that it disappears entirely unless the surface is completely flat.

Here is the final shot of the Cotopaxi with the Circular Polarizer rotated to maximize its effect:

One can see here that there are more details throughout the image and that colors appear more natural. Another thing to note is that all images are about the same brightness despite the polarizer cutting down light significantly. In all these cases, the camera has set to Aperture Priority mode with the aperture set to F/6.7. Since these were captured using a 250mm lens, the shutter-speed stayed at 1/250s for all shots. Auto ISO was on though, so the camera took the three shots at ISO 200, 400 and 800, respectively. Without Auto ISO the camera would have changed the shutter-speed, potentially causing some blurring. For those shooting in Manual mode, one must change a parameter manually to compensate for the loss of light.

Finally, it is completely worth investing in a quality polarizer. The effect cannot be replicated by software and a poor polarizer can introduce flare. The Hoya HD series not only transmits more light then competitors, it is also made of hardened glass which protects it from impact. They are also coated with a water and grease repellent layer to make cleaning easier. Currently, the Hoya HD3 is the cream-of-the-crop of polarizers. Just make sure to get the right size!

Neocamera Blog Neocamera.com © Cybernium

2017.06.02

It has been a few weeks since my return from an 80-day journey around the world and I have managed to sort through slightly more than half of all the photographs taken. During a course of 80 days (minus several taken by flights alone), a little over 4000 photos were taken.

Fernando de Noronha

The first four countries visited were Brazil, Portugal, Czechia and the UAE. Among those, the only lengthy stay was a month in Brazil, followed by 1, 2 and 3 days for Lisbon, Dubai and Prague respectively. Brazil is an enormous country and the time barely sufficed to cover the entire central coast, from Ilha Grande (South end) to Recife (North end), plus Fernando de Noronha (Pictured above), definitely one of the highlights of the round-the-world trip.

The entire gallery of Brazil travel photography is now available for viewing. Half of it is devoted to the famous and absolutely spectacular Carnaval de Rio. It is a must-do experience like to other!

Skipping over the barely-one-day stop in Lisbon, the next stop was Prague. This central European city, capital of the former Czech Republic and previously Republic of Bohemia, is rich in history which has been meticulously preserved. The city is split between the largest castle in the world and the historical old town, with the Vltava river separating them. A fine-art photography gallery of Prague was published at Neoluminance.

Dubai

Dubai was used as the jumping point into Africa with a day on either side of visiting the lower continent. It is a huge metropolis that fuse futuristic and arabesque styles to create one of the most unique city in the world, right at the edge of the desert. Even with such a short stay, Dubai is quite photogenic when the sun goes down as can be seen in the Dubai Travel Photography Gallery published earlier this week.

Stay tuned for the second half of the Round The World tour as it continued through Africa and Asia.

Neocamera Blog Neocamera.com © Cybernium

2017.05.31

Nikon unveiled today the most waterproof digital camera to date. Their latest Nikon Coolpix W300 can be taken down to a depth of 30 meters for up to an hour, the deepest of any digital camera without using an underwater case.

Nikon Coolpix W300

The Nikon Coolpix W300 is a rugged compact digital camera which stays waterproof until 30m underwater, is freezeproof to -10C, shockproof to 2.4m drops and is completely dustproof. One thing that Nikon omitted to keep the W300 lighter than its peers is a crushproof design. Still, the Nikon Coolpix W300 is designed for adventure with a built-in GPS, built-in compass, built-in altimeter and depth-meter.

This compact digital camera is built around a 16 megapixels CMOS sensor that can shoot continuously at 7 FPS and record 4K Ultra-HD videos at 30 FPS. Full HD videos are also possible at 60 FPS. The imaging sensor is paired with an optically stabilized 5X ultra-wide-angle optical zoom, equivalent to 24-120mm.

The Nikon Coolpix W300 is expected to be available this summer for $390 USD or $500 CDN.

Neocamera Blog Neocamera.com © Cybernium

2017.05.31

Nikkon launches three entirely new lenses earlier today. One is a DX lens for DSLRs with APS-C sensor while the other two also cover Full-Frame sensors.

Nikkor DX AF-P 10-20mm F/4.5-5.6G

First up, the ultra-wide Nikkor DX AF-S 10-20mm F/4.5-5.6G is a lightweight lens with a dim aperture for Nikon APS-C cameras. This one covers a 10 to 20mm focal-length, giving it a maximum angle-of-view of 109° while weighing a mere 230g. This is incredible for such an ultra-wide lens, with the trade-off being a maximum aperture of F/4.5 at the wide-end and F/5.6 at the long end. The lens can stop down to F/29 which is way beyond the diffraction limit of any DSLR.

The Nikkor DX AF-S 10-20mm F/4.5-5.6G is the first ultra-wide lens to use a Pulse-Linear motor for quiet and smooth focusing which is useful for those who use their DSLR to record video. This lens manages to squeeze in a Nikon Vibration Reduction system. As an entry-level lens though, it is mostly made of plastic, including the lens mount.

Nikkor AF-S 28mm F/1.4E

The second lens is a high-end wide-angle prime with ultra-bright aperture. The Nikkor AF-S 28mm F/1.4E is a weatherproof lens with rear focusing system and durable lens barrel made of a single piece. All movements are internal giving it excellent resistance to adverse conditions and stability. Its single focal-length of 28mm makes it wide-angle on a Full-Frame camera or almost Normal on an APS-C one.

Nikkor AF-S 8-15mm F/3.5-4.5E

The third lens is an unusual fisheye zoom. The full-frame Nikkor AF-S 8-15mm F/3.5-4.5E Fisheye is exceptional in that it is only the second lens to switch between a circular and rectangular fisheye. At its widest it creates a circular image covering 180° angle-of-view. At the longest it still covers an impressive 175° diagonal-angle-of-view rendered as a rectangular image.

This Nikkor fisheye is one of the few to be weatherproof. It is fitted with a super-sonic autofocus drive which can focus down to 16cm, giving it a maximum magnification of 0.34X. This is almost the highest magnification of any fisheye lens.

Availability is scheduled as mid-summer for all three lenses. The suggest prices reflect their expected performance: $310 USD or $415 CDN for the 10-20mm, $1900 USD or $2700 CDN for the 28mm and $1250 USD or $1700 for the 8-15mm fisheye.

Neocamera Blog Neocamera.com © Cybernium

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