Kimmeridge

Reach for the Stars


Russ has impressed us all with his beautiful astro photos. They get better and better as he gains more experience over the summer months (which is the best time to see the milky way) I took the opportunity to interview Russ and correlate his handy advice for any budding photographer wanting to branch out into the night.

 

I have always been interested in the night sky and I could spend hours looking up at all the stars and constellations. A clear night in the middle of nowhere with only your thoughts is a humbling experience.

To capture this through photography is something that inspires me and you can create some fantastic shots as each shot is different and it’s certainly a skill that needs refining.

Below is a quick start guide for anyone interested in taking up astro photography. What equipment I use, the problems I encountered and the improvements I have made throughout my journey. There are still areas I want to explore and the next step will take me into stars trails.

Hopefully this guide will help some of you to test your knowledge and expand on an area of photography that you may not have considered before.

Kimmeridge

Taken at Kimmeridge Bay.

 

The equipment I use.

For successful astro shots there are a few essential items that you need in your kit bag.

 

LOW LIGHT CAMERA – I use a Sony a7R (full frame) camera for my photography, but when I started I was working with a variety of different crop frame cameras. Full frame cameras generally let in more light with their larger sensors, so having a full frame sensor for your low light shots is always an advantage.

 

TRIPOD – a heavy-duty tripod is crucial to prevent any blur from the wind. It can make all the difference when taking a long exposure.

 

WALKING BOOTS – these are useful when you are trying to find the best spot for your photography.

 

A FRIEND – It does get lonely and boring when you’re waiting for the camera to finish taking your shot. You can’t look at your phone as you’ll get light exposure and it will be too dark to do a crossword. A friend will make your long nights a little more bearable.

 

SPARE BATTERY – Long exposures use up a lot of power. Also, flicking through your photos uses up battery life. If you’re there for the long haul, a spare battery is essential. I have 7 batteries in my kit!

 

Problems I encountered and making the most of them.

 

LIGHT POLLUTION

This can be a big problem for any of you budding astro photographers out there. Light pollution can come from a variety of sources. Houses, cars, boats, street lights, to name a few! Even when you think you have traveled far enough to escape the lights, large towns can generate a huge amount of light that reach for miles!

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/11/science/milky-way-light-pollution-dark-skies.html?_r=0

However, this can work to your advantage.

Taken with the Sony A7 + FE 24-70 f4
Taken with the Sony A7 + FE 24-70 f4

 

In my photo of Durdle Door a man had built a fire and was playing around with a torch below me. This all counts as light pollution, but I feel without these components the scene would not have come together as well. If you live in the city or are not able to travel far enough from the light pollution, use that opportunity to play around with what you have and experiment with the light to make your photography stand out from the crowd.

Lulworth Cove 2

This shot was taken at Lulworth Cove. I find the lights from the boats really add to the overall effect of the image. The stars stand out, but your eye is drawn to the boat lights, which Alice thinks looks like alien beams ready to abduct you onto their space craft…..whatever works for you!

 

WEATHER

You may have read about our staff competition.  I desperately wanted to get some astro shots for it. However, the competition ran from January to March. This was not the best time to look for a clear sky! It was either raining or incredibly cloudy blotting out the starry sky. (Not to mention, COLD!) I did achieve some interesting cloud movements at long exposures with a few stars peaking through. Something must have worked, as I came third in the staff competition!

 

TRAVEL

To get the best astro photos you will need to travel to find the darkest places that has the least amount of light pollution. This can create problems in itself. A man wandering around in the middle of the night can look highly suspicious and I have been questioned and told to move on by a policeman who didn’t seem to believe I was taking photos! It is a slightly daunting prospect to walk around by yourself in the middle of no-where with no light to protect you from any potential ghosts. If possible take a friend with you. They will add extra protection and someone to talk to on those cold nights out in the stars.

 

And finally…. MAKE THE MOST OF IT.

Oooo, that’s an interesting star trail photo (especially for a first attempt!) I hear you say! Well thank you, but that’s not what happened here! This photo was created by accidentally knocking my tripod while the camera’s shutter was open. I was incredibly lucky to generate a photo that looks like the natural movement of the stars and its become one of my favourites. My point here is don’t despair if you make a mistake. It may work out to your advantage.

 

THE TECHNICAL SIDE

Here are a few photos I have taken and the settings I used to achieve them. Please feel free to experiment and have fun!

All photos were taken with the A7R + Samyang 14mm f2.8 at 15 sec exposures. We do not have the A7R anymore, please click here for the upgraded version!

Boats

Taken at Lulworth Cove

gatelulworth

Taken at Lulworth Cove

Knolton Church

Taken at Knowlton Church – The light from the church is a candle I found and decided to light to create a warm glow that adds to the overall effect.

Frog Blog


Wild Arena are hosting their ever popular macro workshop in our Salisbury store on the 22nd of September 2017. In honour of this, I thought I would write a blog about Macro photography, focusing on when Wild Arena bought in their beautiful peacock tree frog and the shots that I created. Who knows, you may be able to meet this little fellow (who is a female by the way!) if you book on the course! Don’t miss out!

A few years ago I had the opportunity to photograph a beautiful peacock tree frog while Wild Arena were hosting their mini beasts macro workshop at the store. As one of the largest tree frogs in Africa they make for fantastic photographic models, but still small enough to use a macro lens and capture the fine detail. Wildlife photography and macro being a particular interest of mine, I thought I would take the opportunity to talk through some of the finer details of this style and give you tips that helped me produce a photo worthy of this exotic creature.

(All shots taken with the Canon 6D and Canon 100mm f2.8 L IS USM)

 

Your First Photo

 

 

Information is a beautiful thing. It fills our mind with knowledge. However, too much thinking can get in the way of a creative masterpiece. We need to work on our emotions and the FEELING we get when we hit that shutter button at the exact right moment. With that thought in mind, shown above is my very first shot in a series of frog photos being taken with an hour at my disposal and I think it’s my best one! Of course, photography is speculative and I’ll let you make up your own mind, but my point is still valid. Sometimes its better to forget all the technical knowledge you know and shoot with a passion and excitement that comes from a primal feeling. Technology can only get you so far. The rest is endless.

 

Capture the moment

Following on from the above is the necessary need to capture the moment. Animals have a certain time frame of patience and they are gone! You have one shot to get the perfect pose or you might not get another opportunity. The Peacock frog was placed on the back of the leaf to climb onto it giving me a second to capture the image you see above. She hadn’t settled yet so there were some interesting poses awaiting me. As soon as she had settled she did not move a muscle! This gave me the opportunity to get lovely macro shots. However all the action and movement were in the first few seconds. The last thing you want is to stress the creature, so if they don’t move don’t poke and prod but rather work around them. (See “Perspective”) Animals work to their own tune. You just have to guess what that tune will be and be ready when they create their music.

 

 

Perspective

Don’t be frightened to move around. Most people are afraid to move anywhere other than the space in front of them missing all those opportunities that are right in front of their nose! Try and get into the mind of the frog and focus on features that aren’t necessarily the obvious. The Usumbara peacock tree frog likes to reside on low hanging branches in the wet tropical forests of Tanzania. Although this may not be common knowledge, working around the frog to incorporate the leaves can create a different viewpoint. The leaves are part of its environment and should be a focal point of the photo. The leaves and frog are as one. If you can think out of the box your image will stand out from the crowd and get you noticed.

 

IMG_1796

 

Macro

The draw to macro is the ability to capture those finer details. This opens up a whole new style of photography. This doesn’t mean that you need to get up close each time. You can create fantastic shots at a sensible distance, but still achieve the fine detail that macro lenses are known for. The most widely used lens in my kit is my old Sigma 105mm f2.8 (The equivalent is now the Sigma 105mm f2.8 EX OS) I use this lens for portraits as well as macro and it does a fantastic job. Look beyond the lens functions and play around with what your lens can achieve outside of its advertised purpose.

After the frog had retired from her photo-shoot it was time to bring out the big guns. The beautiful, if not slightly scary stick insect. The reason I have mentioned this, is to highlight the fact that you should never be satisfied with the obvious. Focus in on key areas and try to find different ways of shooting the inevitably shot to death animals.

Above all, have fun. Nothing is worth the time or money if you don’t have fun with it. If you fail this time round, just appreciate the fact that you got to spend time out in the field or in a studio environment getting up close and personal with the animals on this earth.

Dog Walking with a Camera


 

It’s a cold frosty morning. I have a 6 mile bike ride ahead of me, a full day of work and its starting to rain. But dog waits for no man and my faithful companion is waiting patiently for her exciting walk through the field. Her friends may already be waiting for her and she’s eager to get going! I grab her lead, some treats, the camera and off we go!

Although there are days when I would rather be curled up in bed, the opportunities that come from walking every day with a camera in your hand outweigh the benefit of a few minutes of sleep. Granted, most of my photos (when walking Tilly) are of the dog, but it still gets me out there, becoming motivated and enthusiastic about photography again.

Below are my experiences for anyone who has a dog but is also interested in photography and want to combine the two activities in a cohesive stress free way. I don’t have all the answers but I hope this will give you some guidance. If not, you can browse through to the photos!

To achieve a stress free walk your dog needs to be reliable at recall, and comfortable with other dogs. If (like me) you become quite engrossed with your photography, you will not have an eye on your dog. Therefore they need to be well socialised and friendly. Your dog needs to be confident enough to explore on their own but not so clingy that they will hassle you to play every second.

Taken with the Canon M5 + 15-45mm
Taken with the Canon M5 + 15-45mm

 

Tilly is just over a year old. I have been on photography walks with her, and she does tend to get bored whenever I stop to take a photo. Bored = whining. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if you’re stalking a deer or bird, this could be devastating for your award winning shot, as elusive animals don’t tend to like loud sounds!

It is almost impossible to have your dog on a lead, while taking photos. Always check the area you want to take your dog to and make sure they are allowed off lead. Arne is a fantastic place for photographic opportunities and dogs are allowed, but only on a lead.

I have found that getting out earlier and staying out later, or shooting in the winter months is the best time for two reasons. Your dog won’t be distracted by other dogs or people, as there is no one around at that time. You will achieve fantastic sunrise and sunset photos and able to gain access to areas which are normally crowded in the summer months.

IMG_0080
Taken with the Canon M5 15-45mm
Taken with the EOS M5
Taken with the Canon EOS M5 + 15-45mm

 

If your dog is an explorer they could encourage you to go off the beaten track, giving you the opportunity to photograph things you wouldn’t normally consider. If your dog is with you, use him. He can be an asset for your photography and help you to improve.

Taken with the Canon EOS 80D https://www.castlecameras.co.uk/canon-eos-80d-body-only
Taken with the Canon EOS 80D

 

Tilly does tend to be the star of most of my photos when I’m out and about. She is a natural poser. This helps when she knows lots of commands already, so if your photography focuses primarily around your walking companion, then the basic sit and stay will help dramatically.

Taken with the EOS 80D + 135mm f2 L USM
Taken with the EOS 80D + 135mm f2 L USM

 

However, you don’t need a dog to take photos. Make yourself get up and out! I promise you it will be worth it and you will never regret what photos you get. You WILL regret what opportunities you’ve missed.

Taken with the Canon EOS 80D + 24-105mm f4 L USM
Taken with the Canon EOS 80D + 24-105mm f4 L USM

Best Binoculars for Birdwatching


How do you pick the best binoculars for Birdwatching? Where do you go to try them?

These seemingly easy to answer questions are becoming more and more difficult to answer, luckily we’re here for you. Castle Cameras are a major stockist of some of the best binoculars in the UK, with Binocular and Scope specialists in Salisbury, Wiltshire and Bournemouth, Dorset. Visit us to get your hands on a whole range of binoculars from the likes of Steiner, Opticron, RSPB, Canon, Nikon and more.

When it comes to bird watching the standard rule is the best pair of 8×42’s you can afford. That is the simple answer. The more involved answer needs to asses your exact requirements. If weight is an issue to you then a pair of 8×42’s may actually become heavy by the end of a long day and picking something slightly smaller may actually benefit you. If you get out mostly at early morning or late evening then 42mm optics may be too small and something bigger that lets more light in can solve this.

The best way to find the best binoculars for you is to try them out. Both our Salisbury and Bournemouth shops stock a range of binoculars and demonstration models for you to try-before-you-buy.

Wiltshire and Dorset benefit from a range of local nature reserves and fantastic woodland and coastal trails. When out and about a simple pair of binoculars will open up a whole new world for spotting nature, you may even become hooked.

From Bournemouth visit the RSPB reserve at Arne, based a short trip over the Sandbanks ferry or a longer cycle around Poole bay. Arne offers some beautiful trails and a fantastic array of wildlife, perfect for spotting wading birds with your new binoculars.

Salisbury Plains in Wiltshire are located about 12 miles north fo Salisbury. The plains are owned by the MOD but when open to the public you will stunning scenery and unique flora and fauna. One of the most exciting developments is the re-introduction of the county’s bird, the Great Bustard. Trying to find it will offer some interesting afternoons in the Spring.

Guest Blog: Canon EOS M Review


Today we’re handing over to Lauren, our favourite Canon Guru. Lauren’s been lucky enough to spend a good amount of time with the camera and has sent us some demo images.

We know Canon know how to make a really good camera, they boast a great range of dSLRs and, if you look carefully, you can STILL spot people running around with the compact G series Powershot’s as far back as the G7. Canon are the last of the big names to join the compact system camera market and I was keen to see what direction they would take it in.

Fairly innocent at first glance, it really does produce dSLR quality in a (depending on lens choice) jacket-pocketable, certainly handbag friendly, shell. The 18mp APS-C sized ‘Hybrid AF’ sensor will look familiar to those who’ve had a look at the EOS 650D. It produces the great colours we’re used to from the digital EOS system and excellent low-light performance.

The buttons are minimal, making it much less intimidating than a dSLR to those used compact cameras or mobile phones. As a dSLR user who’s used to buttons and dials, I was a little wary about using the EOS M in manual modes, but I needn’t have been. The touch screen is responsive and accurate and within a few minutes I was changing settings on the fly without giving it much thought. The layout is such that you can change the most important settings without having to use the touch screen if you don’t want to, I found using a combination of the screen and the dial on the back worked best for me. Without trying them side-by-side I can’t say for certain, but it SEEMED I was able to change settings as quickly as when I’m using my dSLR, which I was not expecting!

It’s small and light but reassuringly well built, the EF-M 18-55mm is a particularly lovely kit lens, though I have to say I’m smitten with the EF-M 22mm f/2.0. Although these are the only dedicated EF-M mount lenses available so far, the EF/EF-S mount adaptor means you can utilize the full line up of current EF and EF-S lenses as well. Both EF-M lenses sport the STM stepping motor providing fast and accurate focusing for stills and smooth focusing during video. I found the ‘Touch Shutter’ feature the easiest and quickest way to take a picture with the focus exactly where I wanted it, especially for off-center subjects.

In short, I like it a lot. If I wasn’t feeling like lugging the dSLR kit out, this is definitely the camera I’d want to chuck in the bag for general snaps. I’d feel safe in the knowledge that I wouldn’t be disappointed by the quality and the pictures would likely be indistinguishable from those taken with my dSLR sporting a similar lens. If you’d asked my opinion on CSCs a few weeks ago I would have said I’d always rather have a dSLR with me, but this little camera has actually changed my mind. Well played Canon!

A guide to Christmas Cashback


Ho ho ho, Merry Cashback.

Even camera companies get excited for Christmas, rolling out cashback and buying incentives across the ranges. Here’s a quick guide to the best deals around.

Sony Alpha 37 digital SLR, 18-55 SAM, 75-300 D lenses

Sony Alpha 37, Double Lens Kit

An absolutely cracking entry into Digital SLR photography. The Sony Alpha 37 boasts features from camera way above it’s price point, wrapped in an easy to use body. Add another lens and we’re talking some serious power and an excellent start to any photographic journey.

£549.00 with £100 cashback offer until 16th January 2013 – £449.00

Nikon D5100 digital SLR, 18- 55VR, 55-300VR zoom lenses

Nikon D5100, Double Zoom Kit

For the enthusiast in your life. The Nikon D5100 features a 3inch vari-angle LCD and the complete range of Nikon lenses to choose from, this is the perfect step for anyone looking for an upgrade. With £55 cashback available and extra deals for popping in the shop, it’d be a good idea to save our Nikon event in your diary.

£649.00 with £55 cashback offer until 21st January 2013 – £594.00

Pentax K-30 Black digital SLR,18-55mm DA WR lens

Pentax K30 18-55mm WR

The first ruggedised camera featured on this list. The K30 offers top quality features in a fully weather resistant body, properly winter proof for the adventurer in you. There are a ton of kits around, the one you really want is the WR lens kit, as these are the only kits that offer a weather proof lens to complement the body.

£569.00 with £50 cashback offer until 15th January 2013 – £519.00

Sony Alpha 65 body

Sony Alpha 65 Body

The most powerful DSLR body with festive cashback. The Alpha 65 will rattle shots off 10 frames per second thanks to it’s translucent mirror technology. With an OLED viewfinder and full body controls the Alpha 65 is nearing the top of the Sony range.

£629.00 with £50 cashback offer until 16th January 2013 – £579.00

There’s plenty more where these came from, with full listings on our website. Canon have launched a range of cashback available on lenses purchased over the festive period, giving an extra £25 when you buy 2 or more together. You can search for all Cashback offers on our website and narrow down the results by manufacturer. Keep your eyes peeled on our Events page as we’re hosting a new supplier each week to make the most of this seasons offers.

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Superzoom Compact Buying Guide – 12 Weeks of Christmas


Is that a super zoom in your pocket?

Superzoom Buying Guide - 12 Weeks of Christmas

Welcome to, gosh, Week 9 in our 12 Weeks of Christmas buying guides.

Compact cameras have come a long way in a relatively short space of time. This time last year a 15x zoom camera would set you back upwards of £300, now you can pick something up for under half that. All in the name of progress.

We live in a culture obsessed with miniaturising things. We’ve now got iPad mini’s, tiny mobile phones that fit in the palm of your hand and, of course, really small cars like the Mini. Okay, so less now that Mini’s are BMW’s, but you get the gist. Camera manufacturers have been on this process since the advent of photography, we’ve gone from large format camera to medium format, 35mm and even 110 cameras. In the digital era things have gone less straight forward but never the less we can now fit the equivalent of a 500mm zoom lens in our pockets.

Zoom lenses set cameras apart from mobile phones. A series of gears drive optics to and fro whilst zooming in to the scene infront of us. Brave enough to lean over the edge of the Empire State? You’ll be able to catch a photo of someone crossing the road. More importantly, there is a price point for everyone. To start this off, lets decide right now that to be classed as a ‘Superzoom’ the camera must feature 10x or more magnification.

10x Zoom.

Panasonic SZ 1/ SZ 7

Panasonic Lumix SZ1

Ultra thin – ultra portable 10x zoom camera. Panasonic cameras tend to lead over the competition with their Leica lenses and superb image quality. Possibly the best choice for your every day camera. Whilst daytime photographs look incredible the Sony would just beat it on low light performance. With just £30 between the models the SZ 1 features higher resolution at 16megapixels over the SZ 7’s 14. The SZ7 features a wider angle lens, making it better for landscape style images.

View the full SZ1 spec on our website.

View the full SZ7 spec on our website.

Nikon Coolpix 6300

Nikon Coolpix 6300

Available in funky colours and sponsors of Hollyoaks. Perfect for anyone who has to be constantly colour co-ordinated, trendy teenagers for example. Nikon back up high quality optics with an easy to use menu system and brilliant image quality.

View the full 6300 spec on our website.

Sony Cybershot WX100

Sony Cybershot WX100 Black

Sony produce some of the most brilliant compact cameras around and the WX100 is no exception. Featuring a Sony G lens, their highest quality optics built in-house and one of Sony’s quality sensors (they produce a lot of these for the competition). The WX100 takes fantastic photographs, even in low light thanks to their advanced noise reduction. Perfect for the serious photographer in your life who doesn’t have a point and shoot to carry around with them everywhere.

View the full WX100 spec on our website.

11-19x Zoom.

It looks like no one could decide on a standard, so expect some one-up-manship.

Canon Ixus 510 (12x)

Canon Ixus 510 HS Black

The iPod of cameras. The Ixus 510 looks like it was designed in California and even comes in gloss black or white. Perfect for the style conscious. Thanks to a bigger and better CMOS sensor the Ixus 510 features a 10.1mega pixel sensor and Digic 5 processor that equate to outstanding low light image performance. Canon have always been known for brilliant image quality and in something this attractive it’s hard to resist.

View the full Ixus 510 spec on our website.

Samsung WB700 (18x)

Samsung WB700 Black

With a cracking 18x zoom and Schneider lens the Samsung is a whole lot of camera for not a whole lot of money. Don’t let the price fool you, the Samsung takes some cracking shots and the image stabilization keeps images crisp even at the full 18x zoom.

View the full WB700 spec on our website.

Panasonic Lumix TZ25 (16x)

PanasonicTZ25 Black

The Panasonic TZ range really kicked off the whole superzoom compact range. Everything from the TZ5 to now has grown bigger and better. The outstanding image quality coupled with high quality Leica lens make the Panasonic a perfect choice for anyone at any time. Low light performance has got better with each generation but it’s the daylight shots that absolutely pop from the camera that make this a quality go-to camera for any situation.

View the full TZ25 spec on our website.

20x Zoom.

Now this is the pinacle for the moment. The biggest zoom that’ll fit in your pocket.

Fuji Finepix F770

Fuji F770 EXR White

Outstanding image quality at an outstanding price point. Get your hands on the Fuji and try it out. Backed up with their EXR processor and film simulation features the F770 is easy to use and guarantees excellent shots.

View the full F770 spec on our website.

Panasonic Lumix TZ30

Panasonic TZ30 Black

Everything that makes the TZ25 great and then add 5. You’ll get the TZ30. Panasonic’s most powerful superzoom compact ever. Well worth a look if the highest quality possible is your goal.

View the full TZ30 spec on our website.

Sony Cybershot HX20

Sony HX20

Super low light performance coupled with a huge zoom lens? Added bonus’ of crisp HD video and Sony’s unique sweep panorama technology make this the perfect all round family camera. You’ll be grabbing candlelit birthday parties to graduation ceremonies from the rafters.

View the full HX20 spec on our website.

Canon Powershot SX240 HS

Canon Powershot SX240HS

Canon couldn’t be left out of the Superzoom party and so we get the SX240 HS. Featuring the same HS technology as the 510 but with a full sized 20x zoom. The Canon may not be the most attractive member of this club but if you use Canon DSLR then the images provided will be immediately noticeable.

View the full SX240 HS spec on our website.

Conclusion

There is something on this list for everyone. Wether you’re just getting into photography or are a brand loyalist, every manufacturer provides some sort of high powered compact camera. A few years ago the must have thing was a ‘Bridge’ camera, now you can get the benefit of their huge lenses in a much smaller package. If you do go down this route for Christmas then you won’t be disappointed with any of the above. The hardest decision will be which case to go for, trust me.

These weekly updates will be shared over Twitter and Facebook as well as present on our website, so make sure you’re signed up to all our news feeds.

Fuji X-E1: Image Comparison


New Fuji X-E1 vs Canon EOS 7D.

For roughly £1200 you could have a Fuji X-E1 and 35mm f/1.4 or a Canon EOS 7D and 35mm f/2.

In a rather unscientific test we can guess that these are both very good crop-sensor cameras with portrait-ish lenses. The question is where would that money be best spent. Here are some very quick findings.

Fuji X-E1

Portrait of Luke, Fuji X-E1 and 35mm f/1.4 Lens

A nice quick portrait of Luke, natural light at f/2 (to match the Canon) with good sharp features and distinctive out of focus areas around the ears.

100% Crop from Fuji X-E1

This is a 100% crop from the above image.

Canon EOS 7D

Portrait of Luke taken on the Canon EOS 7D with 35mm f/2

Same deal as above, taken at f/2. Given the Canon’s ever so slightly smaller sensor the crop factor is 1.6x.

100% crop from Canon EOS 7D

Another 100% crop from the EOS 7D.

Conclusion:

Both cameras used the same aperture at f/2 and the same ISO settings, everything else left to auto. These results are pretty subjective, there are preferences you will have to each. The thing is both kits cost around the same money, both are high level cropped cameras with similar sensor sizes and the lenses are very similar. The Canon system is substantial, whilst the Fuji X range is still in its infancy so there isn’t the backup of a huge lens range.

Arguably the lenses aren’t of the same quality, the Fuji 35mm will set you back approximately twice as much as the Canon. This is really here to demonstrate how good Fuji have made something, the quality you get immediately from the camera, with no post processing, is unbelievable when you consider your other options. Sure there isn’t the RAW support for the Fuji yet, and they don’t have the biggest fleet of lenses, but if you’re considering spending over £1000 then the Fuji is certainly worth a look.

Order your Fuji X-E1 from Castle Cameras.

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Fuji X-Pro 1 Firmware V.2.00 Released


Fuji have released the latest firmware update for their compact X-Pro system.

Image via Castle Cameras

The Fuji X-Pro 1 now gets V.2.00 and new models will be shipping with this shortly. The biggest improvements are to the AF and read/write speeds. Fuji are notoriously very good at listening to user feedback and implementing change quickly. Here’s a full list of improvements;

  • 1.Improvement of Auto Focus Performance
    • (1)Auto focusing speed has become much faster under a various shooting condition such as dark scenes, bright scenes and so on.
    • (2)The shortest focusing distance without switching to macro mode has become shorter.
  • 2.Improvement of Manual Focus Performance
    • (1)The speed of images coming into focus when turning the focus ring has become faster.
    • (2)When adjusting the focus with the EVF or the LCD, displaying live view with the minimum depth of field in full aperture has made it easier to focus on subjects.
    • (3)In addition to the focus checking with the 10-time magnification function, the checking with “3-time” magnification function has been added.
  • 3.Improvement of Writing and Processing Speed
    • (1)Writing speed to a memory card has become faster with the maximum speed doubled.
      <Note> The speed may vary depending on card type and sizes of images.
    • (2)The waiting time of viewing image after shooting has become shorter.
    • (3)An image will be displayed approx. one second after pressing the playback button.
  • 4.Other improvements
    • (1)The ISO setting of “Auto (6400)” has been added.
    • (2)When EVF or OVF is used, the indicator lamp will turn off because the lamp comes to just in front of your right eye if you see the finder with your left eye.
    • (3)When shooting in low light situation, a recorded image will look like more natural atmosphere you saw.

You can follow the link to Fuji’s website to begin your download.

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Sony PlayMemories Preview


Sony launch PlayMemories teaser site.

Image via Sony PlayMemories

With the announcement of the NEX 5-R and the impending NEX 6 came a new line of Camera Apps. Whilst Nikon and Samsung are producing Android OS inspired cameras, Sony have done what Sony do best, build their own. If you’ve got a PS3 or you’re using a Sony smart phone then you’ve probably got an idea of what the PlayMemories service will offer.

Sony NEX 5-R image via CameraDiner

Wifi or 3g internet connection in a camera has got to be cool right? Images of Angry Birds whilst waiting for a bride to slip into her dress come to mind, or Instagram filters attached to 30mb files straight from a D800. By combining a phone with Android or even iOS (you never know) this could be possible. Sony are, however, going the other way and offering you what THEY think a smart camera should be about.

No doubt controlling a camera from your phone, uploading straight to facebook or flickr and cutting out the middle man is a dream. Sony’s PlayMemories teaser suggests all these things are possible, download the apps you want, add all the post processing effects you can think of in-camera and then upload whilst your sat in your favourite coffee house. What is yet to be seen is wether third part developers will be able to submit apps like Apples Appstore or the Android market place.

Image via PlayMemories

Either way we’ll keep you updated when we can get our hands on the new NEX 5-R and NEX 6.

You can check out the PlayMemories teaser site here.

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