Film photography has never quite gone away. In fact, it’s enjoying something of a resurgence amongst photographers who miss the imperfections, unpredictability and individual characters of film, chemicals and darkroom processes.
While most cameras now let you compose your shots using an LCD screen on the back, there are lots of times when a regular viewfinder is still preferable. For many people it’s more natural to put your eye to a viewfinder eyepiece than it is to hold the camera at arm’s length. Viewfinders are also more useful in bright light, when glare often makes it hard to see what’s being displayed on an LCD screen.
Viewfinders come in different types. Some older cameras have ‘direct vision’ viewfinders, digital SLRs have optical through-the-lens viewfinders while mirrorless cameras use electronic viewfinders.
Most of us take photographs in whatever light is currently available but pro photographers will often want to take control of the lighting by introducing their own. It may be as simple as a single flash unit or as complex as a multi-light setup fired by remote control.
Photographic lighting comes in many different types and styles, from mains-powered studio flash to battery-powered location lights for stills and video.
Fujifilm has announced the latest version of its X-E rangefinder-style mirrorless camera. It follows on from the X-E2 and uses a rectangular design similar to classic ‘rangefinder’ style film cameras. These cameras have a built-in electronic viewfinder with an eyepiece in the top corner on the back. Like other X-series cameras from Fujifilm, the X-E3 takes X-mount interchangeable lenses.
The key features of the new camera are a 24-megapixel APS-C format X-Trans sensor, which gives an increase of 8MP over the 16 million pixels of the X-E2, and Fujifilm’s X-Processor Pro high-speed image processing engine. Round the back is a 3-inch fixed LCD display – it does not have the tilting action of some other Fujifilm models – which is touch-sensitive, so you can set the focus point with your fingertip or even fire the shutter. The X-E3 also comes with 4K video and can shoot continuously at 5 frames per second.
Externally, it features a traditional shutter speed dial on the top plate which, and if you’re using a Fujifilm X-mount lens with a manual aperture ring, this gives the operation and feel of a traditional film camera. The rectangular body is slim, because the mirrorless design means there’s no need for a mirror box, as found in a DSLR, and there’s no ‘pentaprism’ housing on the top plate because the viewfinder is entirely internal.
The X-E3 fits into the Fujifilm range just above the X-T20. It’s the latest model to get Fujifilm’s new 24-megapixel X-Trans sensor.
Dual Pixel CMOS AF is an autofocus technology developed by Canon that aims to deliver the speed and responsiveness of phase detection autofocus using only the camera sensor and not a separate phase detection sensor. This has many advantages for mirrorless cameras and DSLRs being used in live view mode. Effectively, the photosites on Canon’s sensor are split into two, and the two ‘halves’ can be used to measure the distance of the subject by how much the two halves are ‘out of phase’. Other makers have their own on-sensor phase-detection autofocus systems. It erodes one of the few remaining advantages of DSLR cameras over mirrorless models.
This is a key part of the optical viewfinder system of a digital SLR. It’s a five-sided prism inside a housing on top of the camera that reflects the image captured by the lens and formed on the camera’s focusing screen so that it’s the right way up and the right way round for viewing through the camera’s viewfinder eyepiece. Some cheaper DSLRs use a less expensive ‘pentamirror’ design instead. It costs less to make but does have a slight effect on the size and quality of the viewfinder image.
This is the third version of Olympus’s entry-level OM-D E-M10. It’s a mirrorless camera with a Micro Four Thirds sensor and a very compact DSLR-style design with a ‘pentaprism’ on the top plate that actually houses an electronic viewfinder.
Although the E-M10 III is the cheapest camera in Olympus’s OM-D line, it’s much more sophisticated than the average beginner’s camera, with a range of auto, semi-auto and manual exposure modes, a fast and quite sophisticated autofocus system, twin control dials (most cameras at this level have just one) and the ability to shoot 4K video.
The Micro Four Thirds sensor is around half the size of the APS-C sensors in rival mirrorless cameras and DSLRs, and Olympus has stuck with an older 16-megapixel sensor rather than the new 20-megapixel sensor found in its latest high-end models. This sensor still gives very good results, though, despite its size, and delivers especially good dynamic range. One of the key benefits of the smaller sensor is that both the camera bodies and their lenses are substantially smaller and lighter than rival cameras, and if its fitted with Olympus’s EZ 14-42mm ‘pancake‘ zoom the OM-D E-M10 III makes an extremely good travel camera that would fit easily in a shoulder bag or perhaps a jacket pocket.
Olympus cameras have a range of unique shooting modes and Art Filters for photographic experimentation, plus a class-leading 5-axis in-body stabilisation system that works with any Olympus lens. It also has a tilting touch-screen display and an impressive maximum continuous shooting speed of 8.6fps.
Perhaps a little daunting to outright beginners, the OM-D E-M10 III is probably best treated as a very compact enthusiasts camera that’s well suited to any kind of photography but especially street and travel photography.
This is fully immersive video that’s been shot with a 360-degree video camera. The video footage extends in a full circle around the camera position, which is usually stationary but could also be mounted on a skydiver’s helmet, for example. There are two ways of working with and watching 360-degree video. One is to use the video as raw material for creating a regular rectangular video, but with the freedom to pan around through a full 360 degrees during the editing process as you choose your viewpoint or create your own ‘panning’ shots. Another is to distribute the 360 video as-is using a suitable display system so that viewers can explore the scene on their own, choosing which direction they want to look in.
Perspective control lenses have special tilt and shift movements for correcting converging lines (shift movement) in architectural images, for example, and adjusting the plane of sharp focus (tilt movements) for objects at an angle to the camera. By applying a vertical shift you can bring the top of a tall building into the frame without tilting the camera (this is what caused the converging vertical effect). By applying a tilt movement to the lens you can change the plane of sharp focus away from the perpendicular towards the plane of your subject – this increases the depth of field available.
See also: Lenses explained
All lenses produce a circular image on the camera sensor or film, and this ‘image circle’ must be at least large enough to cover the full film/sensor area. Different lenses designed for different sensor sizes and formats have different-sized image circles. Lenses designed for APS-C format cameras, for example, have a smaller image circle than lenses for full frame cameras. Some specialised perspective control or tilt-shift lenses have larger image circles to allow for lens movements relative to the camera.
See also: Lens explained