Saturday, 31 December 2011

2011 - My year in photography

Well, here we are at the end of another photographic year - one where I've spent less time doing photography (and blogging) than I could have, but have kept things ticking along.  This year's highlights are:

  • I've been lucky enough to photograph Red Squirrels in Jersey, Puffins in Scotland and Freshwater Manatees in Guatemala, alongside a few things near to home
  • Setting-up my 500px account, with a surprise popular photo
  • Microstock sales of £257.63
  • Dabbling with timelapse photography (once)
  • Continued to grow my Twitter followers (thanks to all 337 of you, even the spammers!)
  • Treating myself to a shiny 27" iMac with Lightroom 3 - a major upgrade from my 10 year old PC with Elements 6!
  • I bought a compact camera!

Wildlife Encounters

No dedicated wildlife photography trips for me this year, so it was more a case of taking advantage of any opportunities that arose.  This in a way meant any sighting was more special, as it demanded a good splash of luck alongside the patience!

More of my images can be found on my Facebook Photography Page.


Move over Flickr, there's a new kid in town - 500px.  This website attracts some inspirational photographers and simple voting system means you can easily admire other people's photos.  Surprisingly for me, my most popular shot is something that I'd never previously done anything with, from a trip a couple of years ago from the Angolan border down through Namibia trying to find nomadic Desert-adapted Elephants.


Here are the results from this year's sales:

iStockPhoto          £60.28
Shutterstock         £84.96
Dreamstime          £57.22
DepositPhotos      £10.33
Fotolia                  £44.74
TOTAL                £257.53

Compared to last year, earnings from iStock are significantly down, with Dreamstime faring better than last year.

I dabbled with editorial shots for the first time and will try to do more of this next year.

My most popular shot (again) is: 

Lightroom 3

To join my new iMac (amazing screen!), I have bought Lightroom 3:

It's early days grappling with getting my photos transferred from my PC to the Mac, but Lightroom seems very powerful for what I need - minor RAW adjustments, then publishing.  The Scott Kelby book (link above) is a useful companion.

Timelapse Photography

I haven't got a DSLR with video, but still wanted to try out timelapse photography.  I've just got my paws on a remote timer device...

... and have tried it once on a very blustery evening, a short walk from home:

Compact Camera - Canon IXUS 220HS

For a trip where I wanted to try some underwater video, I bought a compact camera, the Canon Ixus 200HS.  Although less flexible than my DSLR, it's with me more often, so means I can be ready to pounce on occasions like:

The camera itself is great, although there's some lens noise when zooming, something I might go to the shop to ask about.  I bought an Aquapac underwater bag which worked really well for snorkeling - and about a tenth of the price of a dedicated housing.

Bring on 2012!!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Lytro News: 'game changing' new camera

Startup Lytro have just launched what they hope will be a new disruptive technology into the world of digital imaging.

With a conventional camera, the frame is focused before the shot is taken, but with a Lytro, you can actually focus the image after the event.  Another selling point is without the need to autofocus, there is no shutter lag.  This may be very attractive when compared to compact cameras, but may not make a huge difference for a competent SLR user who will benefit from an advanced autofocus engine and high frame per second (fps).  (That said, we've all got the focus wrong on shots before!)

As a first generation product, it's inevitably going to cause some interest - and only real-world testing will show how its constant f/2 aperture 8x optical zoom lens performs.  It's also surprisingly keenly priced, at $399/$499 for 8Gb/16Gb versions.  

Without being shackled by the design considerations of a traditional camera,  they've produced a clean, simple design.  It will be interesting to see if they can maintain this simplicity in future generations - flash hot shoe, tripod mount,image stabilisation, etc...

In summary, well done to the team at Lytro - and please can I have one?!

More details at

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Canon News: EOS-1D X released

Canon has revealed the EOS-1D X – an 18.1 Megapixel, full-frame DSLR that features a high-precision 61-point AF system, an ISO range that’s expandable up to ISO 204,800, and a top continuous shooting speed of 14 frames per second (fps). 

The EOS-1D X sees the amalgamation of the two Canon EOS-1 series lines, and becomes the new flagship model in the Canon EOS DSLR range. Amongst the camera’s standout specifications are a high ISO sensitivity that’s the highest ISO yet available in any camera, Dual “DIGIC 5+” processors that offer two stops of noise processing benefit in comparison to the DIGIC 4 processors used in the EOS-1D Mark IV, better low light AF performance to EV -2, and a DIGIC 4 processor dedicated to the camera’s AE system. 

The EOS-1D X’s impressive specifications include:
  • An 18.1 Megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor.
  • A newly developed high-precision AF system with 61 user selectable AF points, 41 of which are cross-type points, and five dual cross-type points for extra precision.
  • A standard ISO range of 100 to 51,200 with three expansion settings – for ISO 50, 102,400 and 204,800.
  • Dual “DIGIC 5+” processors for fast image processing to deliver 18.1 Megapixel images at up to 12fps as standard and up to 14fps with super High Speed continuous.
  • Zone, Spot and AF Expansion focusing modes, plus subject type AF presets.
  • A 100,000-pixel RGB AE sensor with 252-zone metering powered by a dedicated DIGIC 4 processor.
  • +/-5 stops of exposure compensation.
  • A high-magnification transparent LCD viewfinder with 100% coverage with intelligent viewfinder display.
  • Super short 36ms shutter lag option.
  • 30-1/8000sec shutter speed range.
  • An 8.11cm (3.2”), 1.04 million pixel Clear View II LCD screen.
  • Full HD EOS Movie shooting with Inter frame or Intra frame compression.
  • Auto creation of new movie file once 4GB file limit reached.
  • Timecode setting for HD movie shooting.
  • Manual audio level control with live level meters and adjustment during recording.
  • An improved EOS Integrated Cleaning System (EICS).
  • Dual CF card slots.
  • Touch-pad control area for silent setting adjustment during movie recording.
 More details and images to follow...

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Nikon News: Accessories for Nikon 1 system (including F-mount adaptor)

Alongside the J1 & V1 cameras and the four lenses, Nikon have also launched some accessories, the most interesting being the Mount Adaptor FT1, for F-mount lenses.

Mount Adaptor FT1


This adaptor will allow compatibility with an existing collection of Nikkor F-mount lenses to take advantage of the compact and lightweight Nikon 1 cameras.

Speedlight SB-N5

  - it's powered by the camera and has tilt and swivel functionality

GPS Unit GP-N100


  - only compatible with the V1, available in white or black 

More details available here.

Nikon News: Launch of lenses for Nikon 1 system

Alongside the launch of the Nikon J1 and V1, they've also released details of the first four lenses available (multiply by 2.7x to get the 35mm equivalent focal length):

1 NIKKOR VR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6

1 NIKKOR VR 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6


1 NIKKOR 10mm f/2.8 

1 NIKKOR VR 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 PD-ZOOM




Nikon News: Launch of the Nikon 1 brand (mirrorless, interchangeable lens)

After much anticipation, Nikon have finally released details of their entry into the maturing mirrorless, interchangeable lens market with the Nikon 1.  It's safe to say they didn't invest much of their product development budget into the branding (although apparently, the name "...came from the idea of developing a completely new camera system that would be a leader in the digital age by starting from nothing, or "0", and giving birth to "1").  Hmmm.  Anyway, let's hope the technology is impressive!

The firs two cameras in the range are titled the J1 and V1:

They both sport a new high-speed CMOS sensor, an EXPEED 3 image processing engine and of course the new lens mount system.  The V1 claims to be the lightest camera in its class (for now), with an electronic viewfinder (EVF).

More details can be found at:

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Canon News: Firmware v1.1.0 released for 60D

Firmware version 1.1.0 incorporates the following fixes and improvements.
  1. Fixes a phenomenon where the wireless built-in flash settings are reset to defaults when the battery is removed from the camera.
  2. Fixes an intermittent phenomenon where image-rotation information is not recognized correctly when shooting with the camera in the vertical position depending on the timing of the shutter release.
Available to downoad here.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Nikon News: New AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G LENS

Nikon have launched a new addition to their Nikkor lenses, with a 40mm f/2.8 'micro' lens.  It promises to be great for macro work, with a 1:1 reproduction ratio, light weight and near-silent auto-focus.


  • 40 mm DX-format macro lens (FX-format/35mm equivalent:60mm).
  • Large maximum aperture of f/2.8.
  • 1:1 reproduction ratio offers life-like close-ups.
  • Closest focusing distance: 0.163 m.
  • SWM (Silent Wave Motor) for accurate, whisper-quiet autofocus.
  • Two focus modes: M/A (manual-priority autofocus), allows quick switching between Autofocus and Manual focus operation, and M (manual focus).
  • Hood and soft lens case included.

More details here.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Canon News: Firmware v1.0.8 released for 50D

Canon have released firmware for their 50D camera, updating the following:

  • Improves the writing/reading speeds when using UDMA 7-compatible CF cards.
  • Fixes incorrect indications in the Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Arabic, Swedish, Spanish, Portuguese, Thai and Turkish menu screens.
It's available to download for Windows and Mac platforms. 

Below is a link to the 50D replacement, the 60D:

Monday, 13 June 2011

Canon News: EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II Launched

Canon have announced a new zoom lens, the EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II, featuring a four-stop image stabiliser.  Available seperately, or bundled with the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II when bought with the EOS 550D, 600D, or 60D.

More details here.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Canon News: Firmware v1.1.0 released for 1D Mark IV

Canon have released new firmware for their 1D Mark IV, now at version 1.1.0.  Updates are:

  1. Improves the writing/reading speeds when using UDMA 7-compatible CF cards.
  2. Fixes a phenomenon that occurs when using high-capacity (32 GB or greater) CF cards: If either a CF card with only a little available space remaining or the battery is removed and then reinserted into the camera, and then the user attempts to start shooting movies immediately, shooting may stop.
  3. Corrects some mistakes in the menu screens displayed in Arabic and Portuguese.
Updates are available for Windows and Mac respectively.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Canon News: Firmware 2.0.9 released for 5D MkII

Canon have released a new version of firmware for its popular EOS 5D MkII DSLR, version 2.0.9.  It fixes/improves the following:
  1. Improves writing/reading speeds when using UDMA 7-compatible CF cards.
  2. Fixes a phenomenon where the IS function will not work when custom function C.Fn III-2 is set to [5: IS start] and the lens attached does not have an AF stop button. This is because custom function C.Fn III-2 allows users to assign IS start to the AF stop button on the lens
  3. Corrects misspellings in the menu screens displayed in Arabic, Portuguese, Spanish, and Thai languages.
Available to download from here.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Canon News: Firmware 1.0.1 released for EOS 600D

Canon have released a new version (1.0.1) of its firmware for the Canon 600D.  It has the following enhancements:
  • Clarifies the feature guide description of the digital zoom function for movie-shooting that appears on the camera’s LCD monitor.
  • Fixes the phenomenon in which, in rare cases, a computer connected to the camera with a USB cable cannot recognize the camera.

More details available here.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Nikon News: AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G Lens

Nikon have launched a new 50mm lens, the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G.

  • Compatible with FX and DX (75mm equiv.)
  • Only 185g
  • Decicated silent-wave motor (SWM)
  • Weather-sealed metal mount
  • Supplied with a lens hood HB-47, and a soft pouch CL-1013

More details here.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Canon News: EOS 1100D (T3) launched

Canon have updated their entry-level DSLR to the EOS 1100D.

Vital stats are:
  • Superior 12-megapixel image quality
  • On-screen Feature Guide
  • Creative Auto and Basic+
  • HD video capture
  • ISO 100-6400 sensitivity
  • Wide-area 9-point AF system
  • 63-zone iFCL exposure metering
  • 6.8cm (2.7”), 230,000-dot screen
  • Use with all EF and EF-S lenses

More details here.

Canon News: EOS 600D (T3i) launched

Canon have updated the 550D to the 600D (also known as the T3i) - and it seems to be a relatively minor incremental upgrade rather than any new breakthroughs, taking a few features from its elder sisters, the 60D and 7D:
  • Swivel LCD screen
  • Ability to remotely control flashes
  • A 'feature guide' to help you make the most of the camera (hmmm)
  • iFCL metering
  • A new 'Movie Digital Zoom' 3x or 10x crop, retaining full HD (obviously something's got to give though...) 

There's also a slightly tweaked version of the standard zoom kit lens, now known as the 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 IS II

I got a bit bored (i.e. underwhelmed) reading the rest of the press release, so there's more information here.

Canon News: Updated 'Big Dogs' announced

After a bit of a pause, Canon have now offically announced the upgrades to two of its flagship L lenses - the new 500mm f/4 L IS II and 600mm f/4 L IS II.


They're not exactly cheap at £8999 and £11299 respectively, but come with some new features to tempt you:
  • They're much lighter (but still 3.2kg and 3.9kg respectively)
  • Redesigned internal optics
  • Improved image stabilisation
  • water-repellant Fluorine coatings on front and back lenses
 More details are here (500mm) and here (600mm)

Canon News: 200-400 f/4 L IS USM Extender 1.4x on its way

As part of a clutch of new announcements from Canon, the one that's caught my eye is that Canon are developing a new lens - a 200-400mm f/4 L IS USM lens... with an incorporated 1.4x extender (extending the range to 280-560mm - on a non-cropped body).

It's due out in 2011 and has the potential to offer a great compromise of useful telephoto focal length, relatively low aperture and hopefully weight.  Lions in the Masai Mara will have to get used to perfecting their smiles looking into this I think...

Pricing is hard to guess, but Nikon's 200-400 f/4 in the UK is around £5k, so it's certainly going to a painful upgrade for those looking to move from their 100-400 lens.