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Archive for August, 2013

Gear Day on the BPrints Blog, and Beginner’s Day at Nikon

August 6th, 2013 No Comments

The past 24 hours have seen a far-higher-than-normal number of gear announcements.  So much so that all we can do is take in some highlights!  What’s more, it’s an all-Nikon post today.

Only a few hours back (among other announcements), Nikon announced two new Coolpix cameras, both meant for beginners.  Softpedia carried a brief announcement of both items; DPReview focussed on one of them, the S6600, while Popular Photography aimed its sights on the other, the L620.

The latter camera, the L620, is set up to be a super-zoom at a super price: you get 25 to 350mm of range for only around $250.  As almost always with this class of camera, the drawback – also qualified with an ‘only’ – is the aperture range of F3.3-5.9.  Another drawback is the lack of manual modes but newbies should be pleased with not only the scene modes but the 18.1 megapixels on a 1/2.3″ CMOS sensor.  Nikon is marketing this kit to soccer moms: with this camera it’s “easy to capture amazing memories from a baby’s first steps to a big hit at a little league baseball game.”

The calling card of the S6600 is ‘connectivity,’ so this one’s probably targetted to the iPad- and smartphone-equipped Instagram crowd.  Another clue as to the targeted demographics is that, with a fully-articulated LCD, this kit is ‘selfie friendly.’  A little more expensive than the other Coolpix, it has 16 megapixels on its CMOS sensor and a similar small downer in the aperture range of F3.3-6.3; however, the two Coolpix entries are so different that they don’t eat each other’s lunch.  Above all, this kit has builtin WiFi and even gesture control so as to appeal even further to the ‘Connected Crowd.’    

Petapixel writes that earlier today, Nikon announced three pieces of gear, a Coolpix, a speedlight, and a zoom.  All three easy-to-use and inexpensive-to-buy items are targeted to novices and beginners.  The Coolpix is the L620 mentioned above.

The zoom is a 18-140mm F3.5-5.6 for APS-C cameras, with improved stabilization and autofocussing.  

Which makes for a perfect transition to a story titled The Rise of the F/4 Zoom Lens.  Peter Kolonia on Popular Photography identifies the increasingly ‘popular’ F4.0 zoom which he calls a “happy median” between function and utility, and price, and also a few more criteria that he lists.

The “just right” mix of constant aperture, weight, optics and price of an F4.0 zoom just can’t be beat according to the “handful of pros” Kolonia spoke with.  Do you have one of them?  Your neighbourhood Wedding Pro probably does.


The British Raj and India

August 5th, 2013 No Comments

Few people in the Commonwealth Countries do not have at least a passing interest in the British Raj.  For nostalgics – and arguably even for realists – the Raj brings visions of grandeur and a sense of pelf at its zenith.

A set of images from that bygone age are available at the Royal Ontario Museum clear through to January 2014.  Between Princely India & the British Raj: The Photography of Raja Deen Dayal is an exhibition of 100-plus photographs taken when India was that figurative ‘jewel’ in Queen Victoria’s crown (and possibly the literal ‘jewel’ in her commonwealth) – which means we’re talking about photographs taken in the late Nineteenth Century by a man who was far removed from the centres of what was then an infant science.

Even discounting the disadvantages Dayal would have faced, some of his work truly deserves the superlative, “stunning,” used by both, the museum’s senior curator as well as the sponsor’s artistic director.  These photographs reveal that the man behind the camera had an eye not only for composition and lighting, but also for documentary ‘street shooting’ that was ahead of its time, and also possessed considerable technical knowledge.

The museum’s website shows only five images, one of them a portrait of Dayal.  The very next photo, The North Gate, is a delight of lighting (note the rich texture) and composition that strikes a perfect balance.  The Elephant Procession is a documentary photograph taken from an optimal (or near-optimal) angle of elevation with (obvious) leading lines.  This is not only photojournalism before there was any such thing; Dayal fortuitously captured an ‘atmospheric’ image: the haze of dust thrown up by the elephants’ feet brings this image to life.

The third photograph, Monkeys on a Temple Wall, is a touch over-focussed (leave alone auto-focussing, Dayal did not have the luxury of even TTL focussing!) but is a fine example of a keen eye: give due credit to the man for capturing monkeys who look like they’re in silent contemplation on a temple plinth!  As for the fourth photograph of Bashir Bagh Palace, exposing an interior so perfectly in 1888 is a feat in and of itself.  This photograph also has an excellent sense of space and depth, and good balance in a ‘busy’ image as no one object or element dominates the interior. 

A few more photographs are available on other pages and sites.

Anyone who is both a Raj and Photography buff may be interested to know that Dayal’s images are available in a new coffee-table book, Raja Deen Dayal: Artist-Photographer in 19th-century India


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