A Viewfinder Darkly

Photography tips and tutorials

Canon 5D Mk IV

This is the latest version of Canon’s workhorse DSLR  for weddings, portraits and landscape photographers. Here image quality is more important than speed, but the new Mk IV is still very fast. It has a full frame 30 megapixel sensor to deliver high resolution, high quality images.

With “only” a 30 megapixel digital sensor will have Canon’s  marketing people awake and  screaming in the middle of the night. The competing Nikon and Pentax full frame DLSRs have 36 megapixels sensors,  but this is not a deal breaker for photographers. It is a big upgrade from the 20 megapixels of the old MkIII which is now starting to look inadequate, but still capable of producing stunning photographs.

Even though its primary role is not sports, it inherits the autofocus system from the Canon 1-DX, and has a respectable frame rate of up to 7 frames per second. Pretty handy for the large image files from this class of camera.


Canon 5D Mk IV

The Canon 5D Mk IV can shoot 4K video, keeping it current with the latest  trends in professional video and movies.The compact size of the 5D range and its high quality video capabilities see them being used in Hollywood blockbusters. This underlines the versatility of the DSLR format that is useful for still photography or video use.

A neat touch is anti-flicker shooting mode. This is useful when using fast shutter speeds under artificial light, particularly in sports venues. Here, although the light looks constant, the brightness  rises and falls at the frequency of the alternating current electricity supply. The banding effect is obvious on high speed photo finish cameras where many still images are combined into one image.

The dynamic range test is a useful indicator of image quality for cameras used mainly for landscape and architectural photography. Here there are often bright skies and deep shadows when photographing using the available light.  Dynamic range is a measure of the digital sensor’s ability record thee range of light from bight white to pure black. The dynamic range tests from DxO Mark show the new Canon loses nothing to full frame rivals the Nikon D800 and Pentax K1.

test graph

Dynamic Range comparison Canon 5D Mk IV Nikon D800 and Pentax K1 (courtesy DxOMark)

Even though the 5D R and S version offer over 50 megapixel resolution it appears to be at the expense of increased digital noise. Fantastic for studio work where good lighting is assured, but when the lights get low the Mk IV is probably a better choice.

Iso Ranges

5D MK IV 100-32000 (Extended Mode: 50-102400)

5D R 100-6400 (Extended Mode: 50-12800)

In common with many maturing digital technologies it becomes more difficult to significantly improve the basic performance of the product. The marketing department resorts to adding extra capabilities  to try and make a point of difference to encourage users to upgrade. This is called feature bloat and it can clutter up a digital product making it harder to use then the old version.

However, some of the extra functions on the Canon 5D Mk IV I would use. The built in GPS system that adds a geo tag to the meta data of the image file is useful. Lightroom understands location data and uses it as a method to sort and categorise photo collections.  I have old film slides of landscapes taken thirty years ago and I am not sure of the location. So I definitely would use the GPS system in the 5D Mk IV.

Geo tagged images in Lightroom

Geo tagged images in Lightroom

The other function I love is the built in capability of interacting with smartphones. Being able to copy a high quality DSLR image to a smartphone on location is an advantage for photographers.  Sharing photographs social media is a part of a modern marketing strategy. This is part of having a conversation to build  interest in the photographer’s work. The system also allows a smartphone, with the right app of course, to act as a remote control for the DSLR.

Despite the new sensor and communications functions the Canon 5D Mk IV is not different enough to switch to from another manufacturers system. However, if you have a collection of Canon’s excellent L series lenses this is an obvious choice for a high performance camera.

The Canon 5d Mk IV is available from Adorama for $US 3,499.00 body only.



Crop Photographs in Lightroom

rotate image

A crop is a making a rectangular selection in a photograph. This could be a compositional  adjustment  of the photograph or fine tuning the shape to fit  a display medium. Cropping  is useful for candid and action shots where there are compositional aspects beyond the photographer’s control.

There are a number of reasons why it is difficult to always compose the photograph perfectly in the camera.  It could be there is no time to move to  a position frame the photograph exactly, or it may be physically impractical.  Especially when the distance from the subject does not match the focal length if you are using a prime lens, but also when you run out of zoom.

For action shots often there is no time to carefully frame a fast moving event in the viewfinder, the main object is making sure you capture all the important elements of the subject.  The old compositional adage is to “fill the frame”  but you do need to take care not to overflow the frame. (more…)

Nikon D3400 Bluetooth DLSR

DSLR camera

The Nikon D3400 is based on a proven entry level DSLR camera the D3300 with the inclusion of Bluetooth connectivity and new lenses.

With  Bluetooth pairing, the D3400 can instantly share photographs with smart devices for use on social media or by email.

“Featuring a variety of user-friendly features like Nikon SnapBridge, the new D3400 gives those new to DSLR photography the opportunity to proudly capture what they love and easily share with friends and family,” said Kosuke Kawaura, Director of Marketing and Planning, Nikon Inc. “The introduction of the new series of NIKKOR lenses demonstrate Nikon’s commitment to providing affordable and versatile lens options to DX-format DSLR photographers looking to capture their own unique perspective of the world.” (more…)

Understanding White Balance

afternoon scene

Light is not always white, even when it appears that way to the human eye. Our brains adjust automatically to slightly different coloured light and see the scene as if it is lit by white light.  Automatic White Balance (AWB) system in digital cameras or adjusting in Adobe Lightroom, makes it easy to get true colours under different lighting conditions.

Colour is not what it seems

Each light source is a slightly different colour. The measurement scale used to denote the colours is called the colour temperature, expressed in degrees Kelvin (K). This  temperature refers to the theoretical temperature of the light emitting source. Midday sun in a cloudless sky is considered to be white light with a colour temperature of 5600º K.  Artificial sources vary greatly in colour temperature with “warm white” incandescent lamps around 2500 K and “soft white” compact  fluorescent lights are around 3000º K. The emergence of compact fluorescent and LED lamps has complicated white balance as the new technologies have different colour temperatures. (more…)

Selective Adjustments in Lightroom

old mill building

Lightroom has an easy to use tool for selective exposure adjustments  of a photograph. This is because not all areas of a photograph need the same type or amount of adjustment.

The purpose of  selecting sections of a photograph for adjustment is to compensate for the inability of  cameras to capture the full range of light levels in a scene. When we look at a scene our eyes adjust as we look at different parts, but a camera has to make do with the one setting. Instead, the adjustments are made afterwards in software such as Adobe Lightroom.

This is not compensating for poor photographic technique, it is important to capture  as much detail as possible. Particularly not to overexpose the highlights because if they are lost then there is no way to recover them. Another important consideration is using the raw image file and not an already processed jpeg format image file. Raw files contain more information than jpegs about the scene, giving greater scope for adjustments in Lightroom. (more…)