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Concert Photography


Just like most concert photographers would tell you, shooting concerts is hard. It’s one of the rare photo opps wherein you’re lucky if you get even just a few good photos, and you’re likely to throw away most of the shots you captured.

Many articles on this topic provide the same basic tips: avoid flash, use fast lenses, don’t be a distraction, enjoy the show. You may think that these things would come natural when you’re shooting, but you’d be surprised to find yourself breaking these rules once you’re actually there.



However, just like most photographic rules, there are some you just have to break, at the right time. The photo above was taken around four years ago with my point and shoot Fuji Finepix 2600 with an off-cam optical slave flash on my other hand. Yes, I used flash. Unlike most high profile events, many small–town or college concerts are shot in poorly–lit venues where you have no choice but to use flash. Luckily for me, I was part of the organizing committee allowing me to shoot exactly the way I wanted, and produce a few keepers. :)

For more on concert photography, read these good articles from Photocritic and

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Underwater cameras

Every year, everyone yearns for summertime when we get to bask in sea and sand all day long with friends and family. A trip to the beach is highly anticipated especially by the young and the young at heart, and photography is a favorite activity, probably next only to swimming.

With the rise of digital cameras, people thought twice before shooting with a digicam near the water. I know I rarely did, since water and electronics have never been known to like each other.

Olympus Stylus 720SW

Fortunately for us, there are now several digital cameras made to get wet. The Olympus 720 SW is a good example of this, capable of shooting up to ten feet underwater! This camera is a good performer that even Dynamism has it on their list of great gadgets. Aside from its love for water, it can also withstand a 5 foot drop and it has digital image stablization along with a 2.5–inch LCD screen. A great camera for 399 dollars.

Pentax Optio W10

Another alternative for water lovers is the Pentax Optio W10 which I found sold at Mayer’s Quiapo for 15,000 pesos. In the US, this underwater camera should be available for less 300 dollars on the street. This one is rated for underwater use up to 1.5 meters.

Links Software Techniques

RAW Shooting

Popular web designer Dave Shea discusses the virtues of shooting with RAW instead of JPG. He highlights the flexibility of the RAW format and the wealth of post processing that can be done on the rich data available, especially when compared to JPG.

We’ve covered the JPG versus RAW debate in a previous entry, and I still recommend knowing the advantages of both formats and using whatever is appropriate for specific situations.

Lenses Links Product Announcements

Tokina 50-135/2.8 DX


The recently announced Tokina 50-135/2.8 DX is probably the first of its class, an APS-C lens that intends to fill the 70-200mm equivalent for cropped frame DSLRs. Interestingly, the constant F/2.8 across the range should make this a premium lens, hopefully comparable to the full frame counterparts it is trying to emulate.

Expected later this year, I find this the most interesting among Tokina’s upcoming lenses, considering the specific range it is trying to fill. A 70-200mm F/2.8 equivalent will likely be a welcome entry in the DSLR lens market. This one will probably outsell the Tokina 16-50/2.8 DX and the Tokina 10-17/3.5-4.5 DX as well as the Tokina 17-135/3.5-5.6 DX.

Links Techniques Tutorials

Fake Model Photography

If you’re a flickr regular, you have probably noticed this very interesting photo style: fake model photography. It is a relatively new and unique way of altering photos that renders images like they’re from miniature scale model worlds.

This tutorial by Christopher Phin should get you producing the similar look in just a few steps. He has several contributions to the flickr ’tilt-shift miniature fakes’ group which now happens to have more than a thousand members!

Links News Software

ACDSee 8.1

ACDSee 8 Photo Manager & ACDSee Pro

ACDSystems has just announced an update to their two famous products, now upped to version 8.1, both for ACDSee 8 Photo Manager and ACDSee Pro Photo Manager. Several feature improvements are included in this update, along with increased performance and improved RAW support.

ACDSee 8 Photo Manager is a very good organization tool for your photo library, and ACDSee Pro is an advanced version with even more capabilities. If you haven’t tried them, they could just be the photo library management tool you’ve been looking for.

Lenses Links Photo Samples

Flower shooting with the Sigma 17-70


Our search for more sample photos taken with the Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 DC Macro has led us to a great gallery of the Minter Gardens by PBase user Alex Tsung. He notes that this lens has much faster and quieter AF than the Tamron 28-75 f2.8, suggesting that Sigma has somehow improved on their typically noisy AF system. Another observation he noticed was the lens closer macro performance compared to the Tamron, just as we have expected.

Photozone also has a review of the Sigma 17-70, predicting that this lens will be a hot seller. I’m a few samples away from buying this one for my D60 as well. ;)

Commentary Links

Photo contests

Most of us who love photography do it for the fun, while a lucky few get to do it for a living. But regardless of our photo–snapping motivations, we all strive to improve our craft.

Photo contests can be very helpful in broadening our photographic vision, exposing us to other people’s photographic style and techniques. And though it can make us feel so “average” in the presence of great photographer’s, continuous exposure to varied works improves our skills in the long run. Photojojo lists the best photo contests to join today. Join the fun.

Lenses Links Photo Samples Reviews

Photozone on the Canon EF-S 17-55

Photozone has finally released their review of the Canon EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM. Their one of the very first to provide a technical review of Canon’s latest gem, in fact the first true review of the lens I’ve seen on the web.

It seems that most negative speculations about the lens were false, as Photozone has found the lens excellent in image quality, especially among APS-C lenses. Vignetting is one of this lens weaknesses, and the expected 1100 USD selling price raises questions about its build and other monetary considerations. Still, if I had that amount of money to spend on a lens, I’d definitely get this.

Lenses Links Photo Samples

More Sigma 17-70 samples

The Sigma 17-70 is now slowly making its way from the retail stores to the very first happy owners of the lens. PBase already has a few users shooting with the said lens, and most of the samples have shown the its capabilities and more importantly, value for money.

We have two galleries from another user, and these two are worth looking at: San Juan, Puerto Rico and Paradise Revisited. Head on to see what this new lens from Sigma could do.

Commentary Links News Product Announcements

Sony Alpha DSLR

Sony has just announced their own DSLR system, curiously dubbed as “Alpha.” The system is actually the same as the Maxxum mount from Konica–Minolta, suggesting more collaborative work from the said companies in the future. For sure, this group aims to take a chunk of the pie that Canon and Nikon are currently enjoying.

Do they have what it takes? This is something for us to see in the next few years, though judging based on Sony’s involvement in digital photography technology, they should be able to capture the mainstream market, notably those who equate the Sony name with quality consumer appliances without knowing the history of the big names in traditional photography like Nikon, Canon, and Pentax. Of importance is Sony’s part in Nikon’s consumers DSLRs, as they supply the company with the CCD sensors used in the entry–level D–series bodies. In addition, Pentax also uses the same CCD sensors for its *ist digital bodies. Will this lessen their relationship with Nikon and Pentax?

Using the Konica–Minolta system as their starting point, Sony now has a good system to build upon, and provide products for their market. Personally, their success in the DSLR market would be greatly dependent on business/market moves they make, and most likely not based on technical advantages.

Lenses Links Photo Samples

Canon EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM samples

In the battle of the normal zooms, it looks like the expected leader is already here, as the first few samples from the Canon EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM are already here. This lens is expected to set the standards for this range and lead against the Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 EX DC, the Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 DC Macro, the upcoming Tamron SP AF17-50MM F/2.8 XR Di II LD Aspherical IF, and the still in the works Tokina 16-50 f2.8.

Note that as of writing, Google Pages is reporting a “bandwidth message” for the said site and images, probably a result of the sudden surge of photography enthusiasts eagerly awaiting the first real world samples from this lens.

Lenses Links

Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 EX DC

Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 EX DC

The Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 EX DC is one of the earliest F2.8 lens in the 18-50mm range, and has been very popular since it was released several months ago. At its current street price in the 400-500 USD range, it can very well compete with the upcoming Canon EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM and the Tamron SP AF17-50MM F/2.8 XR Di II LD Aspherical IF which are both expected in the next few weeks. Unfortunately, these two new lenses will come at a premium price, putting the Sigma 18-50 in a very competitive price advantage.

Real–world samples of photos taken with this lens has shown excellent quality, and the range is very usable as it translates to 28-75mm lens for APS–sized sensors in DSLRs.

Commentary Links

Canon EOS 20D, 30D, 5D, or Nikon D200?


Bob Atkins compares the 20D, 30D, 5D, and D200 against each other, evaluating the current crop of mainstream DSLRs. I share his opinion that neither Canon nor Nikon shooters will be jumping to the other side based on these bodies, at least not yet. The decision on which camera to choose will be limited by the current equipment they have.

It is likely a different scenario for first–time DSLR buyers though, and some may base their decision on what provides them better value. If I were to make such a decision, Canon has an advantage in the field of product development, as they have shown these past years. Nikon continues to improve, though noticeably much slower than Canon’s phase.

Taking the Canon camp as a first–timer, it is basically a question of how much you can afford. If you have $3000 USD, then the 5D is a no–brainer. If you’ve got less, the 30D should serve you well, and if you’re still on a tight leash, the last stocks of the 20D will still be a very good camera.

Lenses Links Photo Samples

Sigma 17-70mm samples

I mentioned the Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 DC Macro not too long ago, eagerly awaiting the first batch of real–world samples from early buyers of the lens. Now they’re here!

PBase user smallufo took photos of his brand new Canon EOS 30D, using his 300D and a Sigma 17-70. This clearly shows the lens’s excellent macro performance, with focus and exposure spot–on in good lighting. He has some portraits using the lens, and based on them I think this lens is a capable performer considering its value.

Also from PBase is Bela Pecsek’s Sydney gallery, with several photos taken with the Sigma 17-70. By far, this is the best outdoor samples I’ve seen for this lens.

Nicky Thurgar is another shooter with this lens, and he she has some photos that shows the lens’s fine qualities.

From these early consumer samples, the lens should be a good seller considering its quality–value balance. There is no doubt that its macro capabilities is superb. Resolution is okay, along with color, saturation, and contrast. Let’s hope that it doesn’t have focusing issues like those reported concerning recent Sigma lenses. In a few more weeks we should get decisive feedback from others on the overall performance and values, along with its weaknesses. Until then, keep shooting!