TAMRON LENSES

Photo by Lanny Cottrell – editor

I was recently invited to a Tamron open house at one of the local Photo Stores: Allen’s Camera in Layton, Utah. I think that it is always fun to go to these shows to see and handle the merchandise. The rep was very informative and loves his job. He gave great details into the Tamron World. Let’s take a look at Tamron in detail now.

HISTORY OF TAMRON:

Kabushiki-gaisha Tamuron) is a Japanese company manufacturing photographic lenses, optical components and commercial/industrial-use optics. Tamron Headquarters is located in Saitama City in the Saitama prefecture of Japan.

The name of the company came from the surname of Uhyoue Tamura who was instrumental in developing Tamron’s optical technologies. It was only on the company’s 20th anniversary that the name was changed to Tamron (from Taisei Optical).

In the fiscal year ending 31 December 2017, net sales totaled 60.496 billion yen and operating income was 4.24 billion yen, up 79.8% from 2016. At that time, the consolidated company had 4,640 employees and five production plants: in Hirosaki, Namioka and Owani in Japan, and one in China and Viet Nam, respectively.

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY TODAY:

In the lens processing, in order to manufacture a lens with the required performance, various conditions need to be adjusted by selecting the machine used for manufacturing and adjusting the polishing time according to the magnitude of curvature and the characteristics of the material.
For example, high-pixilation and high-definition are yearly advanced in CMOS image sensor used in cameras and a lens surface-roughness, unevenness or waviness negatively effects the lens imaging performance.
To enable a highly accurate lens, Tamron reflect a simulation result to a processing accuracy from the optical designing stage.
Tamron’s lens processing technology is covering a wide range, multiple lens bonding with curved surfaces, processing with plane lens and prism lens, and prism lens bonding with each other. From now on, as a new usage, optical lens is expected to be used with laser and to be required a complicated irregular shape or prism shape integrating various technologies.
To produce multifarious lenses required in the future, Tamron is newly developing and improving the processing technology and handing down its established expertise by cooperating the lens processing know-how and the optical development technology.

To say that Tamron has a lot of different lenses is an understatement, but what they are truly proud of is their amazing zoom lenses. When I was at the Tamron show at the local photo dealer the other day, I was amazed with this lens, and I think it’s the one they are most proud of too:

Go to extremes with the world’s first* 22.2x ultra-telephoto all-in-one zoom.

Introducing the world’s first ultra-telephoto all-in-one zoom lens for the APS-C format. With a focal length range of 18-400mm and 22.2x zoom, it has an ultra-telephoto range equivalent to 620mm in the 35mm format. This brings distant subjects closer, while providing perspective-flattening effects that are only possible with an extreme telephoto lens. Plus it offers exceptional optical performance across the entire zoom range—from wide angle to ultra-telephoto. With this new lens—and its Moisture-Resistant Construction—Tamron brings the art of photography to the joy of travel. Now you can use the same lens to shoot everything from stunning landscapes and neon-lit cities to detailed portraits and delicate flora. The ultra-telephoto range makes it just as easy to photograph animals and sports. And with a maximum magnification ratio of 1:2.9, you can even enjoy tele-macro photography.

That was the part that I thought was so incredible is this lens macro ratio is 1:2.9! And you get that macro ratio even at 400mm! That opens out amazing possibilities for every photographer.

ANOTHER MOST AMAZING LENS I FELL IN LOVE WITH: TAMRON’S 11-20MM ZOOM LENS:

If you have the urge to shoot landscapes, then this lens is for you. Take a look at this video:

TAMRON MAKES A LOT OF LENSES

If you go to Tamron’s website, and browse around you will discover that they make a lot of lenses. It’s these few lenses I have highlighted today are the ones I think Tamron has excelled at.

ONE MORE LENS TO HIGHLIGHT: 150-500MM LENS:

And one more video to go with this incredible lens:

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LENSES BY SIGMA!

Photo courtesy of blog.sigmaphoto.com – shot with the 85mm 1.4 ART lens

In the world of 3rd party lenses, I think everyone has heard of SIGMA LENSES. This is a company that has been around for a long time, making incredible lenses for all kinds of cameras.

HISTORY OF SIGMA (as per Wikipedia):

SIGMA CORPORATION

is a Japanese company, manufacturing cameras, lenses and flashes and other photographic accessories. All Sigma products are produced in the company’s own Aizu factory in Bandai, Fukushima, Japan. Although Sigma produces several camera models, the company is best known for producing high-quality lenses and other accessories that are compatible with the cameras produced by other companies.

The company was founded in 1961 by Michihiro Yamaki, who was Sigma’s CEO until his death at age 78 in 2012.

Sigma products work with cameras from Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Olympus, and Panasonic as well as their own cameras.

Sigma has also made lenses under the Quantaray name, which have been sold exclusively by Ritz Camera. Similarly, Sigma lenses were sold exclusively by the former Wolf Camera, but following the merger of Wolf and Ritz, both brands can be purchased.

LENSES MADE TODAY (2022):

When I went to their website, I wanted to see their list or catalogue of lenses available. And I was really shocked. To me, it seems that the lenses they made covered every type of lens you would ever need, including “standard” lenses. I was most surprised that they made “standard” lenses for the different camera manufactures.

aurora borealis and sun visible in sky of northern norway
Photo by Tobias Bjørkli on Pexels.com

Take a look at the amount of different lenses they make for your camera:

WIDE ANGLE LENSES

silhouettes of cowboy and herd of horses galloping in dust at sunset
Photo by yavuz pancareken on Pexels.com

(18 Lenses)

Wide-angle camera lenses capture the larger side of life with a broader angle of view. Photographers rely on these essential lenses, including the 14mm, 20mm, 24mm, 28mm, 12-24mm and 14-24mm.

STANDARD LENSES:

photo of woman looking through camera
Photo by Artem Podrez on Pexels.com

(12 Lenses)

Explore the Sigma lineup of standard camera lenses with a field of view similar to the human eye. This popular category includes lenses such as the 50mm 1.4, 35mm 1.4, and 24-70mm 2.8. Standard by definition, exceptional by performance.

TELEPHOTO LENSES:

brown owl on tree branch
Photo by Erik Karits on Pexels.com

(19 Lenses)

Bring the world closer with a telephoto camera lens. A tool countless photographers rely on for added reach, this category includes such lenses as the 70-200mm 2.8, 100-400mm and 150-600mm.

MULTI-PURPOSE LENSES:

action athletes base baseball
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

(5 Lenses)

Wide-angle to telephoto zoom and everything in between, multi-purpose lenses are designed to be light, versatile and highly efficient. Sigma manufacturers several multi-puirpose lenses, including the 18-300mm, 18-250mm and 18-200mm.

MACRO LENSES:

close up photo of ladybug on leaf during daytime
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

(6 Lenses)

Macro camera lenses allow a photographer to bring to life the small but lively world around them. Explore every detail with such lenses as the 70mm and 105mm.

FISHEYE LENSES:

people in brown traditional wear under blue sky
Photo by Denniz Futalan on Pexels.com

(2 Lenses)

Fisheye lenses bring a whole new perspective to your vision. From Diagonal to Circular, Sigma offers a variety of premium lenses for APS-C and Full Frame cameras.

OS LENSES:

person riding bike making trek on thin air
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

(16 Lenses)

Sigma Optical Stabilization (OS) helps compensate for camera shake by reducing vibration in the DSLR camera system while taking a photograph. Some lenses with Sigma image stabilization include the 24-105mm F4,150-600mm and 70-200mm 2.8.

SIGMA “ART” LENSES

One thing that has always intrigued me with Sigma, is they make a line of lenses they call “Art Lenses”! Without even checking the details of this lens, I assumed that this series of lenses was made sharper, more colorful (yes, lenses can enhance the color with their special coatings), more detailed than their regular lenses. Their lenses in their standard lineup are nothing short of AMAZING, so how do the ART lenses compare, and are they worth that extra money?

JUST WHAT ARE SIGMA ART LENSES?

So many names and words are thrown at you in the photography world- L lenses, Prime lenses, and… ART? ART as a term in photography equipment has become so big that most don’t even know the brand that produced the legendary ART: Sigma. Sigma’s ART lens line is a high-end, exquisite quality optic product that is very sought after by professional photographers. 

So what makes the ART lens have such a life of its own in the industry? Well, a mix between brilliant performance, excellent engineering, and an attractive price tag all lend a hand at the lens line’s brilliant reputation. 

Characteristics of the ART Lens Line

For starters, every lens company has a high-end line and more consumer-friendly line. The ART series is the high end, luxury line for camera and lens brand Sigma Corporation of America. Originally started in Japan, Sigma has gained exceptional notoriety for the quality of their ART line. 

Sigma’s ART line is divided into the following expected categories: Wide-angle lenses, large-aperture fixed lenses, telephoto lenses, standard lenses, macro lenses, ultra-wide angle lenses, and fish-eye lenses. Something for everyone. 

The ART line is engineered specifically for sharpness and optic performance. They are lenses created for images that give the sharpest details a photographer can possibly aim for. Even with the widest openings, Sigma ART lenses exhibit exceptional focal plane sharpness. This is because the focusing mechanism is quite unique to the brand itself, and cannot be found in other models. 

The ART line also tends to have wider apertures, from f/1.2 to f/2.8. The bokeh blades create a more natural and creamy shallow depth of field than most lenses, and are nicely designed to avoid chromatic aberration at wide apertures. For those unfamiliar, chromatic aberration is a common optical problem that causes a purple or green outline to appear around your subject.

ART lenses also characteristically produce more vibrant and poppy colors. Although a lot of color has to do with the camera body itself, the lens does play a role nowadays (especially in mirrorless systems). 

Finally, ART lenses are created in all notable mounts, such as Canon, Nikon, Sony, and even Leica. Sigma ART lenses are even able to have their mounts converted through the conversion service offered by the company. 

To get this kind of “extra” quality in a lens, you can plan on spending more than the standard lens in the same style. They are also a bit bigger lenses, but, to get that kind of quality, who cares?

A new blog site to check out:

What I thought was also really cool, is that Sigma has their own blogs right on their own website. You want to check out some pretty cool blogs, go to: SIGMA BLOG

Ready to try Sigma Lenses? They are one of several worth checking out. I am going to give you some more options to choose from, because this Wednesday, in 2 days, I will be reviewing

TAMRON LENSES!

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PART 2: UNDERSTANDING THE NUMBERS ON LENSES:

HERE WE GO! UNDERSTANDING ALL THOSE NUMBERS

You have your new camera, and so far you like it. Now it’s time to look at adding more lenses to your equipment. Not sure what all those numbers mean? That is what we are here for!

WHAT DOES THE FIRST SET OF NUMBERS MEAN?

As you look at the top of your lens, or the front of your lens, the very first set of numbers, or number, tells you what the focal length of your lens is. For example the photo above show the focal length of your lens to be: 24-105mm. How does that equate to anything? Here is your reference point:

A normal lens is one who’s focal-length is equal to the diagonal of the sensor or film. This is said to give a natural perspective similar to that of a single human eye.

On a full-frame DSLR, it is usually a 50mm lens. On a cropped-sensor (APS-C) DSLR, a normal lens falls around 35mm but from 30 to 55mm, it would still be considered normal. For Four-Thirds and Micro Four-Thirds, you would use a 25mm. Usually most manufacturers make sure to have one bright prime that corresponds to the normal focal-length for the sensor-size.

Then going back to the lens above, let’s suppose your camera is a DSLR camera. The normal lens would then be about 30mm. If you were to look through the lens, it would appear that the image is the same size as what you see, without the camera. Then, if you go below the number 30mm you enter the range of wide angle lenses. Which means that the lens pushing the image back further to get more into the picture.

Definition of “WIDE ANGLE LENS”

(Photography) a lens system on a camera that can cover an angle of view of 60° or more and therefore has a fairly small focal length. Any number that is less than 30 is therefore a wide angle lens.

Definition of “telephoto” lens:

A telephoto lens is a lens that appears to magnify distant objects. To do that, they need to have a focal length longer than that of a normal lens, or a lens that approximates the optical qualities of the human eye. A normal lens has a focal length of 30mm on a full frame camera so any lens with a focal length longer than 30mm can be considered a telephoto lens. The longer the focal length, the more magnification there is.

WHAT IS THE PROPER USE OF WIDE ANGLE AND TELEPHOTO LENSES:

Generally, a normal lens (around 30mm) is used for…. normal everyday use. Photos of the family, the dog, the cat, the things around the house.

A wide angle lens is most popular for landscape or scenic photos, to get the whole picture into the frame.

And the telephoto is generally used to bring objects in closer to you. The most common use is for wildlife, sports, and things from afar.

NEXT SET OF NUMBERS:

CANON ZOOM LENS WITH ALL THE NUMBERS.

THE “APERTURE RANGE”

Every lens has an aperture in it. It controls the amount of light getting through the lens. This has another major function that photographers really use and that is the “depth of field”. That has been discussed before in a previous blog. JUST : CLICK HERE

It is usually expressed in f-stops such as f/1.4 and stated on the name of the lens. For example, the Nikon 35mm f/1.4G lens has a maximum aperture of f/1.4, whereas the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G has a maximum aperture of f/1.8.

One lens, and several different aperture openings:

Here is where it can get interesting and you can see why the price of a lens goes up. Listed below is a list of Nikon lenses. And they are all 50mm lenses. You can see the Nikkor lens 50mm F1.8 lens lists for only $134.95. Now go to the second lone on the list: Nikkor 50mm 1.4D lens. It sells for $369.95. And go to the top one: the 50mm f1.2 lens sells for $724.95.

50mmf/1.2NIKKOR 50mm f/1.2FXM$724.95Get a quick view for the NIKKOR 50mm f/1.2
50mmf/1.4AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.4DFXAF$369.95Get a quick view for the AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.4D
50mmf/1.4AF-S NIKKOR 50mm F1.4GFXAF-S$449.95Get a quick view for the AF-S NIKKOR 50mm F1.4G
50mmf/1.4NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4FXM$469.95Get a quick view for the NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4
50mmf/1.8AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8DFXAF$134.95

The difference between each 50 mm lens is that the f1.4 lens lets in almost twice the amount of light through it than the f1.8 lens. I don’t know how many actual lens elements are in each lens, but, say they have 14 elements in the lens. That would mean the f1.4 lens elements, all 14 of them have to be made larger than the f1.8 lens. But if you are a person who wants the lens to be able to shoot in lower light, then the f1.4 lens is a better choice. Better still, the f1.2 which doubles the amount of light transmission would even be better. But you would end up paying for all those elements in the lens housing to be bigger than the previous version.

So, in summary on this number, the lens with the smallest number, let’s a lot more light through the lens than a lens with a bigger number. And that allows you to also have a depth of field even smaller, but, the usual case for having a lens with a lower aperture number is usually to allow you to shoot in lower light.

THE LAST IMPORTANT NUMBER:

Most lenses have this important number on it. It is a 2 digit number with a circle and a line through that circle.

THE FINAL IMPORTANT NUMBER TO KNOW IS THE FILTER SIZE THE LENS TAKES.

On this photo above, all lenses (at least I think almost all lenses) have a number to tell you what size filter this lens takes or the size of the lens cap. If you are a photographer who uses filters (and I think all photographers should use filters), you will appreciate knowing what size filters you would need to enhance your photography. On this lens above, the filter size is a 72mm. That is a big filter, but certainly good to know. If you would like to learn more about using filters, CLICK HERE AND one more link: CLICK THIS ONE TOO

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NIKON TO OFFER 50 NEW “Z” LENSES BY 2025

Nikkor lenses are some of the best and have a huge variety of lenses

We are going to see a huge new surge in lenses within the next few years. All because so many of the brands of cameras changed their lens mount. Why? Because they changed from a DSLR camera, which uses lenses that are about the same size as the older 35mm film cameras, to the smaller mirrorless cameras which made it so the lenses mount, and the lenses went smaller. And that means what was good with one type of lens mount, they will now need to do the same thing to the smaller lens mounts, such as the new NIKON Z camera series.

NIKON Z LENSES NOW

As of this writing, Nikon makes about 27 lenses already for their Z camera series. So, that means they will release about 23 more lenses in the next few years. It is amazing how many lenses need to be created to accomplish all the different types of photography there is (Hmmm, that might be a good blog subject).

7 New lenses are about to be released soon:

With that being said, it is obvious that they have some already announced or rumored to be releases soon:

  • A 12-28mm DX zoom
  • A 200-600mm super-telephoto zoom
  • A 24mm DX lens
  • A 26mm lens
  • An 85mm S-line lens
  • A 400mm S-line lens
  • A 600mm S-line lens

Of course, that leaves many future lenses unaccounted for, though I’d certainly wager that we’ll get a 70-200mm f/4 lens, designed as a low-cost 70-200mm f/2.8 alternative. Look for a 500mm f/4 S-line lens, designed for bird and wildlife photographers, and several wider primes (including, perhaps, a 14mm f/2.8 and/or a 35mm f/1.4).

Once Nikon has covered all its more “conventional” bases, keep an eye out for the specialty lenses: fisheye lenses and zoom lenses, additional macro prime lenses, and tilt shift lenses. In the meantime, Nikon mirrorless shooters can still gain access to basic and specialty models via the FTZ adapters.

HOW DOES THIS COMPARE TO THEIR COMPETITORS: CANON AND SONY?

CANON; Canon currently has 25 lenses in their RF series of lenses. The RF lenses are the lenses Canon makes for their smaller mirrorless cameras. And they are planning on releasing about 30 more in the next 5 years. That should complete their lineup.

SONY: Well, Sony has had a head start on their lens lineup for about the last 7 years. So they already have about 70 lenses for their mirrorless cameras. Sony hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down, either, so for now – and for the foreseeable future – Sony will continue to lead the pack.

Sony is already ahead of the game with close to 70 lenses in their lineup.

HOW TO PICK AND CHOOSE A LENS:

I was looking through my arsenal of information I have available, but the best one is in my professional course, that describes how lenses can be used, what millimeter lenses are the best, etc. Go to my professional course titled “BASIC PHOTO COURSE”, and it is here at this link. Click here.

NOW WHAT WILL YOU DO TO

If you are serious about photography, you will want to get some extra lenses for your tools. It is amazing how your photography can be enhanced with a variety of lenses. You can choose a lens for the following reasons:

  • A wide angle lens for taking breathtaking landscapes
  • A macro lens for taking pictures close-up
  • A telephoto lens to get photos of wildlife
  • A fast lens to be able to shoot in low light
  • A fisheye lens to get almost a 180 degree view
  • A lens to take the perfect portrait
  • And so many other types of subjects.

Coming next blog: learn why there are so many different lenses, what makes a lens cost more than others, what are the different uses of lenses? Complete instruction on lenses and their uses.

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PART 3 – HOW TO MAXIMIZE IMAGE QUALITY IN YOUR PHOTOS:

pollen macro dandelion back light
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

This blog today is part 3 of a 3 part series: HOW TO MAXIMIZE IMAGE QUALITY IN YOUR PHOTOS. This was originally presented by SPENCER COX FROM “PHOTOGRAPHIC LIFE”. I want to thank Spencer for the use of this article, and the great insight into how to make our photos sharper, and better detailed than ever.

6. Post-Processing Workflow

In terms of editing your photos, one of the key components of image quality is to work with image files that are lossless. In photography, this largely means the original RAW file, DNGs, or TIFFs.

If you’re ever doing a lot of edits to a JPEG file – whether directly (like Photoshop) or indirectly (like Lightroom) – you’re setting yourself up for trouble. A JPEG on its own looks good, but starts to produce some serious blocky artifacts when pushed around in post.

Along the same lines, make sure that you’re always editing in a large color space that won’t clip any highly saturated colors – something like ProPhoto RGB or similar. (I highly recommend our sRGB vs Adobe RGB vs ProPhoto RGB article if you aren’t familiar with color spaces.) On top of that, be sure to edit 16 bit-per-channel images rather than clipping them down to 8 bit.

Essentially, this means that if you export a photo from Lightroom/other software into Photoshop/other software, you should be working with 16-bit ProPhoto TIFF files the whole way. With a lower 8-bit image, you’ll risk banding in gradient regions. With a smaller color space, like sRGB, you’ll permanently clip certain colors in your image. And with a lossy format like JPEG, you’ll risk serious compression artifacts.

NIKON D7000 + 105mm f/2.8 @ 105mm, ISO 3200, 1/100, f/2.8

Of course, you should never let a ProPhoto image of any kind out into the wild unless the sole recipient is another photographer. Same with 16-bit TIFFs just because they’re such large files. This is solely about optimizing your workflow to avoid throwing away data in your photos without realizing it. There’s a separate process in a moment for the export side of things.

Other than that? Feel free to process images however you want. Editing images is a really subjective, artistic part of photography, perhaps just as much as the field side of things.

Oh, and calibrate your monitor. I’m sure you’ve already done it, but if not, that’s essential to editing the colors you mean to edit.

7. Optimizing for the Output Medium

Now that you’ve set up your post-processing workflow to maximize image quality, let’s take a look at the proper steps for printing your photo or otherwise outputting it as well as possible.

The two major steps here are sharpening (including noise reduction) and converting to the right color profile. I’ll start with sharpening.

7.1. Optimal Sharpening and Noise Reduction

There are many different philosophies on the optimal sharpness settings in post-production. I (mostly) won’t go into the exact slider values that work best, because there really isn’t just one set. Instead, proper sharpening is about following the three-stage method:

  1. Deconvolution sharpening: Light to moderate sharpening across the image, with a very small radius and a low masking/threshold value. Also, light to moderate noise reduction – both color and luminance – evenly across the image in proportion to the amount of noise in the photo.
  2. Local sharpening: More aggressive sharpening to important, high-detail parts of the photo, like feathers or eyes on a wildlife subject. Also, more aggressive noise reduction to large, empty areas.
  3. Output sharpening: Anywhere from zero to aggressive sharpening evenly across the image to counteract texture in the output medium, like a matte print.

The deconvolution stage is the most important. In Lightroom, for a 45-megapixel sensor without an AA filter, my default is 33 sharpening, 0.5 radius, 100 detail, 13 masking. Combined with 10 luminance and 10 color noise reduction.

That said, it’s best to figure out your preferred settings through trial and error. This is especially true for output sharpening, which varies wildly based on the medium – including digital or print – as well as the physical dimensions of your output.

NIKON D7000 + 105mm f/2.8 @ 105mm, ISO 100, 1/320, f/3.5

7.2. Color Profile Conversion

Last, but not least, is converting your working image to the proper color profile (and file type).

For web, this is easy: sRGB JPEG, pretty much 100% of the time. Anything other than sRGB is likely to create really strange colors for at least some users out there (those with outdated browsers, mainly) – and anything other than JPEG is likely to take up too much space.

For print, it’s a bit trickier. The most ideal method is to find the exact color space of your ink/paper combo – either through measuring for yourself or downloading ICC profiles online – and then soft proof your image in post-processing using that color space.

(Soft proofing means “previewing” how the print will look, to the best of your monitor and software’s capabilities. Lightroom, Photoshop, and most other post-processing options today allow this.)

Then, export a 16-bit TIFF with the ink/paper combo’s ICC profile. Lightroom doesn’t let you directly do this, however, so you will need to do the intermediate step of exporting a 16-bit TIFF in ProPhoto, then opening in Photoshop or other software and converting that to your ICC profile. Again, there’s more info in our color space article.

That’s a few steps, no doubt. But if you send the print lab an sRGB file, or even an Adobe RGB file, you’re potentially throwing out some important color details (especially in darker, more saturated areas).

NIKON Z 7 + NIKKOR Z 14-30mm f/4 S @ 14mm, ISO 200, 1/5, f/5.6

If you want a simpler method – though one which likely clips some colors – just send a lab of your choice a photo exported to their specifications (usually sRGB, though some allow AdobeRGB and an elite few allow ProPhoto). Then, select the lab’s “color correction” option if they have one, where they’ll basically do the steps above for you.

It’s the easiest way to get colors that match your monitor, with the least that can go wrong. It’s why I recommend it to most photographers, especially at first. However, there certainly are subtle color benefits of the hands-on method I covered above. And when you’ve already gone through this entire article… well, you’re probably after all the quality you can get.

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8. Conclusion

The information above dives pretty deep into image quality, and I think it’s useful for photographers to have a goal to strive for. At the end of the day, though, these are not the most important parts of photography. A high-quality image is a whole lot better than high technical image quality.

So, before you go out and follow all these tips to the letter, make sure you’ve really mastered the basics. Light, composition, basic exposure settings, and everyday post-processing – all that is more important.

Once you’ve gotten a hang of it, then it’s a good time to dive deeper. Try out some of these techniques for yourself, and figure out which ones are easy to incorporate into your day-to-day work. It’s worth doing.

Why? Simple: To me, photographers should aim for the best possible result for every photo. No, you won’t always have time to get everything perfect. And sure, some scenes are tricky to photograph, and it’s smart to build in leeway even at the expense of image quality. But if you can aim for the best – you should.

I hope you found the explanations in this article useful for achieving that goal.

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PART 2 – HOW TO MAXIMIZE YOUR IMAGE QUALITY OF YOUR PHOTOS:

photo of common kingfisher flying above river
Photo by Monique Laats on Pexels.com

This is an amazing article I wanted to share. It goes through, in incredible detail of how to make your photos look sharper than ever. This is part 2!

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3. Optimal Exposure When You Have a Shutter Speed Limit

If you’re trying to freeze a moving subject or shoot handheld, there’s probably a limit to the longest shutter speed you can set. In turn, that requires compromises in the ISO and/or aperture that you set.

And this is where things get a little messy.

3.1. Shutter Speed:

First, keep in mind that every photo has an optimal range of shutter speeds. When you find that range, you really don’t want to go outside of it. Too much motion blur can ruin a photo in an instant.

So, what exact shutter speed should you set? Ideally, you’d use the longest possible shutter speed that still completely freezes the photo’s motion. As an example, if you eliminate motion blur with a 1/125 second shutter speed or faster, 1/125 second is the perfect shutter speed to use. It’s the longest exposure with zero motion blur, meaning it captures as much light as you can under the circumstances.

NIKON Z 7 + NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S @ 70mm, ISO 400, 1/125, f/2.8
In order for this photo to be totally sharp, I needed a shutter speed of 1/125 second (or faster)

Here’s the 100% crop (click to see full size)

The parts of the goat I wanted to be sharp (its eye and coat) are totally sharp. But the motion in the goat’s feet and hint of blur on its horns demonstrate how close to the edge of acceptable 1/125 second was in this case.

However, you’ll rarely know the exact shutter speed cutoff for a given scene. It requires some trial and error in the field, although practice and experience are good substitutes. Once you do find the range of acceptable shutter speeds, it’s best to stay within that range no matter what – or, at most, go about 1/3 or 2/3 stops longer than ideal.

That’s because shutter speed blur is one of the most annoying image quality issues you can have. If it’s too obvious – and it gets too obvious in a hurry – it can totally ruin an otherwise good photo.

In tricky situations like fast-moving sports photography, it’s possible that some photos will have different shutter speed cutoffs than others. In those cases, it’s best to play it safe. Just go with the shutter speed that makes every photo sharp, and don’t worry if you could have snuck in a slightly longer exposure on a few of them.

3.2. Aperture and ISO:

Next, it’s time to figure out what aperture and ISO values you need to use in order to accommodate your shutter speed limitations.

If you’re already shooting at your lens’s widest aperture, just raise your ISO until the photo is bright enough. But if you’re at a narrower aperture, you’ll often need to widen it in order to capture more light.

And that’s when you get into the tug-of-war with ISO. Specifically, is it better to have too high an ISO, or too shallow a depth of field? 

There’s no perfect answer, although I do have a preferred process for my own work. Up to ISO 400, I just raise the ISO. Beyond that, I’ll trade off: a third stop wider aperture, then a third stop higher ISO, then a third stop wider aperture, and so on until the photo is bright enough. Find a similar method that works well for your gear, and you’re set.

NIKON D800E + 14-24mm f/2.8 @ 14mm, ISO 1250, 30 seconds, f/4.0

3.3. ISO Invariance

One exception to the technique above involves the weirdness of ISO as a photographic concept in the first place.

To distill the issue down to a single question: Why raise ISO when you can simply brighten an image in post-processing?

Usually, the answer is that you get better image quality by raising ISO in-camera rather than brightening in post. But that’s becoming less and less true over time, as camera sensors become “ISO-less” or more accurately ISO invariant at some point in their range (or across the entire range).

With my previous camera, the Nikon D800e, this occurred at ISO 1600, although it wasn’t far from ISO invariant at the lower ISOs. In other words, up to ISO 1600, it was worth brightening the photo using the in-camera ISO. Anything more – 3200, 6400, etc. – provided no image quality benefits. Plus, the higher ISOs increased my risk of overexposure in highlight details, especially pinpoint highlights like stars.

Not all cameras are as simple. For example, the Sony A7R III is ISO invariant across two ranges: ISO 100 to 720, then ISO 800 and up. So, if you only ever used ISO 100 or 800 on the A7R III, you wouldn’t be losing image quality. If your photo is underexposed because you would have used one of the other ISOs, just brighten the image in post.

NIKON D800E + 50mm f/1.4 @ 50mm, ISO 100, 1/25, f/11.0
Out-of-camera original
Recovered version; on an ISO invariant camera, or near-ISO invariant, you can do significant shadow recovery with hardly more penalty than raising ISO in the camera itself.

Of course, ISO invariance is controversial for a few reasons. The big one is that it makes it harder to preview images – and it also adds more time in post-production. Plus, most post-processing software is not made for giant boosts to image brightness, so you might get some color shifts or other artifacts when doing extreme shadow recovery.

I’d say it’s only worth worrying about ISO invariance for one specific case: astrophotography. There, shooting at too high of an ISO can blow out color details in the stars, while shooting a lower ISO and brightening in post-production can retain those details. Personally, I avoid ISOs beyond 6400 for astrophotography for this reason, even if it requires a bit of brightening in post-production.

Otherwise, make your life simpler and don’t worry about ISO invariance. After all, brightening a photo in post-processing doesn’t give you better image quality than increasing ISO in-camera; it just protects highlight details more, without harming image quality.

If you’re not shooting a scene like stars where the highlights need special care, it doesn’t bring any other big benefits.

4. Other Camera Settings

The exposure settings above are very important, but there are a few other camera settings which are worth noting if you want optimal image quality.

4.1. Shutter Mechanism

I recently wrote about the three common shutter mechanisms today: mechanical, electronic, and electronic first curtain shutter (EFCS). 

You should read the comparison to see all the differences in detail, but the takeaway is simple: Use mechanical when there is artificial light in your photo, and electronic otherwise – or EFCS if your camera doesn’t have an electronic shutter.

4.2. Mirror Lockup

Along the same lines as setting your shutter mechanism properly, you also need to get rid of camera shake from mirror slap (only on a DSLR, of course) and simply from pressing down on your camera, even if it’s on a tripod.

For this, I recommend using mirror lockup mode in combination with a brief self-timer, such as two seconds. Or, if you’re a Nikon shooter, “Exposure Delay Mode” makes this simpler by raising the mirror when you press the shutter release button, pausing for a second or two so vibrations dissipate, then capturing the photo.

4.3. 12-Bit vs 14-Bit RAW

Many cameras today have a RAW image quality setting that lets you choose between shooting 12-bit or 14-bit color.

John Sherman already showed that anyone who shoots 14-bit RAW rather than 12-bit is a paranoid pixel-peeper. And today, that’s exactly what we are!

If you’re using the (very slightly) lower quality 12-bit RAW setting, rather than turning it up to 14, how can you possibly claim to be capturing maximum image quality? Also, something about storage being cheap, and so on.

4.4. RAW Compression

This one does actually make a difference – RAW compression. Most cameras let you choose between uncompressed, compressed, and losslessly compressed RAW. Some omit the “lossless” option.

Of the three, lossless compression truly is lossless; there is zero image quality detriment to using that setting. It’s my strong recommendation.

If your camera only has “compressed” and “uncompressed,” go for better image quality. Uncompressed RAW photos take up more hard drive space, but they’ll show some definite image quality benefits in certain cases.

Note the blockiness near the edge of the buildings in the compressed version (click to see full size). Also – it’s important to remember that lossless compressed RAW has equally good image quality as uncompressed RAW. It’s my recommendation if your camera offers it.

4.5. Long Exposure Noise Reduction

When you’re shooting with long shutter speeds, there’s an important camera setting to keep in mind: Long exposure noise.

With this mode enabled, the camera takes two photos in a row. The first is your actual, main exposure. The second is a dark frame with the shutter curtain closed, captured with an equally long exposure as the first. Your camera then uses the dark frame to subtract out noise and hot pixels from your main shot.

This does affect RAW photos, and it can make a real difference when you’re shooting especially long exposures. I hate the wait as much as anyone else – it takes twice as long to capture these photos, since you’re taking two photos – but in the race for maximum image quality, what’s an extra 30 seconds in the field?

5. Image Blending:

If all of the above isn’t enough for you, the most in-depth way to improve image quality is to blend multiple photos together.

This can take a few different forms. The most obvious is creating a panorama, since you’re able to increase the resolution of a photo drastically – no real upper limit, aside from how long you’re willing to spend stitching the photo together.

HDR photography is another big one. In high-contrast situations, getting enough highlight and shadow detail simultaneously may be impossible without blending photos together. HDR increases your dynamic range, and, when done right, decreases shadow noise as well.

There’s also Focus Tracking – taking multiple photos focused at different distances, then combining them into an exceptionally sharp photo from front to back. This lets you use your lens’s “sweet spot” or target aperture and still get enough depth of field, making for extremely sharp photos.

Lastly, you can use the technique of Image averaging to reduce noise and improve dynamic range. This is especially Milky Way photos, but also applies to a few other situations, like drone photography or as a replacement to HDR.

A few other types of image blending exist, but these are the big ones in terms of image quality.

The real question, however, is whether or not you should actually put any of this into practice. My answer is – by default – you shouldn’t. Photo blending has some serious potential to go wrong, especially if the light changes or your subject moves from shot to shot.

I tend to blend images only to salvage photos that wouldn’t work any other way, not to boost image quality for its own sake. But that’s just me. Again, this article is about the things you can do to push image quality to the next level – and image blending clearly qualifies.

NIKON D800E + 105mm f/2.8 @ 105mm, ISO 100, 1/10, f/16.0
Extreme resolution: 231 megapixels (from a multi-row panorama)
AS LOW AS $2.95 – $7.95 EACH

YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS NEW NIKON BRIDGE CAMERA: WITH A 125x ZOOM

The new Nikon Coolpix camera with a 24-3000 zoom lens!

What if you could buy a camera that had all the lenses in it that you would ever want, plus it was all in one camera that has everything you want in a DSLR!

THE NEW NIKON COOLPIX P1000 CAMERA SHOULD EXCITE ANYONE WHO LIKES PHOTOGRAPHY!

Bridge cameras often get a bad rap, but the Nikon Coolpix P1000 is still one of the damnedest cameras I’ve ever seen. And it’s all down to its signature party trick: its 125x zoom, which equates to a jaw-dropping 24-3000mm focal range.

I still remember the first time I used the Nikon Coolpix P1000, sat outside a café in Cologne during the last Photokina (which really was the last Photokina). My colleague Ben Andrews had been tasked with reviewing it, and had valiantly sacrificed valuable hand luggage space to bring this comedy sized camera with him to Germany.

“Look at the moon,” he mumbled across the table, prompting me to look up to the sky. “No,” he corrected me, “look at the moon on this.” It was like he’d mounted a camera to a telescope – even in broad daylight, the amount of detail was absolutely mesmerizing. 

Of course, they weren’t reference-quality images. After all, the P1000 employs a 1/2.3-in sensor with 16 megapixels of resolution – and with a sensitivity that tops out at ISO6400, we’re hardly talking Nikon Z9 in terms of performance. 

See the incredible zoom reach…

Nikon Coolpix P1000, zoomed out to maximum wide angle, equivalent to 24mm (Image credit: Ben Andrews/Digital Camera World)
New Nikon P1000 zoomed out to 80mm equivalent.
Now the zoom lens is zoomed out to a 500mm equivalent (refer back to the first photo to find this part of the photo)
Zoomed out all the way to 3000mm equivalent. And look at the sharpness on this image.

But that’s not what the P1000 is about. Look at these images above, look at the utterly ridiculous zoom range – THAT is what the P1000 is about. The zoom enables you to go from a panoramic view of the city, to a close-up detail of the abbey that is half a mile away (800m).

You know how you sometimes zoom in on your phone, even just 2x, and the quality goes to hell? Even the impressive zooms on the best camera phones like the Samsung S22 Ultra pale in comparison to both the reach and the quality of Nikon’s big black Pinocchio. 

In a world where we’re wowed by more conventional specs – megapixels, dynamic range, burst rate, image stabilization – we forget that the most useful thing on any camera is the ability to ‘get a bit closer’. 

Camera snobs may turn their noses up at cameras like the Nikon P1000, but it is targeted at very different user bases – parents who want to photograph their kids’ soccer games, bird spotters who want to identify animals, general purpose shooters who just want a camera with the longest reach possible. 

And that’s where the best bridge cameras like the P1000 come into their element. They may not win you many photo awards, but they’ll get you the photos that no other camera can. 

The Nikon P1000 has a massive 125X Optical power zoom.

Article originally written by: James Artaius for DIGITAL CAMERA WORLD

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DSLR VS. MIRRORLESS FOR 2022

PROS AND CONS OF DSLR VS. MIRRORLESS

One thing I like to do on my blogs is to keep you up to date with the technology from the major camera manufactures. Even though I have a picture of Nikon DSLR vs. Sony mirrorless, all camera manufactures are still trying to decide which way is the best to go.

Today, I hope to go over the differences and then you can decide on which camera is right for you, if you choose to buy one soon.

FROM DIGITAL CAMERA WORLD, HERE IS THE BEST ARTICLE ABOUT THIS:

DSLRs and mirrorless cameras differ in their construction and design, but not in their sensors, image quality, technologies and indeed many of their features. A Nikon D850 DSLR will give the same image quality as a Nikon Z7 II, which has essentially the same sensor – bar a few more recent developments in image processing.

The differences are elsewhere, both on the outside in terms of body design, and inside in terms 4K (or even 6K or 8K) video capture. But one huge factor that should not be forgotten is personal preference. Ultimately, your choice between mirrorless and DSLR will likely come down to which one you like more!

Pentax makes only DSLR cameras and they have made significant changes and improvements in their DSLR camera that many mirrorless camera owners wish they had.

THE MIRROR:

DSLRs and mirrorless cameras both show the scene through the camera lens itself as you compose the picture, but the way they display it is completely different. DSLRs use a mirror to reflect an optical image up into the viewfinder. When you take a picture, the mirror flips up so that the image can then pass to the back of the camera where the sensor is exposed to the image.

DSLR’s use a mirror in the body to reflect the image up into the viewfinder. The instant you take a picture, the mirror flips up and out of the way.

Mirrorless cameras take a different approach. They use the ‘live view’ captured by the camera sensor itself to create an electronic image that can be displayed either on the rear screen or in an electronic viewfinder. There is no mirror mechanism to flip up and out of the way.

But what sounds like a win-win situation is a little more complicated than that. First, many people prefer the optical image of a DSLR viewfinder. Second, digital displays consume a lot more power, and mirrorless cameras still can’t compete with DSLRs for battery life.

AUTOFOCUS:

The key difference here is that mirrorless cameras use a single autofocus system for both rear screen and viewfinder shooting, whereas DSLRs – confusingly – use two.

DSLRs use dedicated ‘phase detect’ autofocus sensors which are in the base of the camera behind the mirror. When you take a picture, the mirror flips up and out of the way and the AF sensor is no longer available.

Back when DSLRs didn’t have live view, this wasn’t a problem. But when the demand grew for live view shooting using the rear screen, DSLRs had to switch to autofocus systems that used the image formed on the sensor itself.

So you have a situation that persists to this day – DSLRs have one autofocus system for the viewfinder and a different one for live view shooting.

Once, the dedicated phase-detect autofocus systems of DSLRs gave them a speed advantage over mirrorless cameras, but now mirrorless cameras have caught up and, in many instances, surpassed DSLRs.

Many newer DSLRs like the Nikon D780 also have on-sensor phase-detect autofocus for fast live view shooting, as do Canon DSLRs – but they STILL have two different AF technologies when swapping from viewfinder to live view shooting.

One of the most popular mirrorless cameras is the Fuji Film cameras. Well built, and designed with only 1 autofocus sensor, unlike the DSLR

Mirrorless cameras can now be successfully used for fast-moving sports and action photography that once demanded a DSLR. In fact, if you look at the capabilities of the hybrid on-sensor autofocus system in the latest Sony A7 IV, even DSLR diehards would have to concede that the separate phase-detect AF systems in DSLRs are dinosaurs by comparison.

VIEWFINDERS:

The design of mirrorless cameras means they need to use electronic viewfinders. These have improved hugely in a very short space of time.

This is the Panasonic mirrorless camera. The screen on the back and also inside the viewfinder show exactly what will be recorded on the image sensor.

The latest and best electronic viewfinders available today have such high resolution that you can hardly see the ‘dots’ and they have a clarity that genuinely approaches optical viewfinders. 

Viewfinder lag is less of an issue than it used to be thanks to faster refresh rates, and the most recent area of focus for manufacturers has been in the blackout effect you would typically see when shooting continuous bursts of images.

Electronic viewfinders can show a more clearly visible view of a scene in low light, and have zoom functions for precise manual focusing – two highly underrated benefits of electronic viewfinders. Because of their auto-gain light amplification effect, electronic viewfinders let you compose and shoot images in near darkness, and have made small-aperture telephotos like the Canon RF 600mm f/11 and RF 800mm f/11 perfectly practical to use.

It’s also worth pointing out that if you are a fan of vintage manual lenses which need to be used in stopped-down mode, a DSLR viewfinder will be way too dark but a mirrorless EVF will be fine.

However, many photographers still prefer the ‘naked eye’ view of an optical viewfinder over a digital one. You’ll soon see the image the camera has recorded in playback mode anyway.

DSLR optical viewfinders are still popular because they offer a ‘naked eye’ view of world with no screen lag or digital artifacts.
The Fujifilm X-Pro3 offers a hybrid viewfinder, one that combines both optical and electronic types. Almost every other mirrorless camera either has no viewfinder or an electronic one.

Optical viewfinders have another key advantage that’s particularly relevant for sports and action photographers. There is unavoidable screen blackout in the camera’s burst shooting mode as the mirror flips up and down between exposures, but this is rarely an issue – the key point is that there is no lag, and it’s much easier to follow a fast-moving subject with a high-speed DSLR like the Pentax K3 III, for example, than it is with the average mirrorless camera.

BATTERY LIFE:

Even very basic DSLRs will happily offer 600 shots per battery charge, but the entry-level Nikon D3500 DSLR, for example, can capture up to 1,550 images on a single charge. The very best pro DSLRs can rattle off almost 4000 frames per charge, although this is admittedly with considerably larger batteries. With the Nikon D6, Nikon claims a stunning battery life of 3,580 shots – and twice that if the camera is used for high-speed continuous shooting.

The DSLR camera batteries still are the winner as they get a lot more shots off one battery charge than a mirrorless camera.

Mirrorless cameras, however, fare far less impressively here, with around 350-400 frames per charge being the norm while some are a whole lot less. The Sony A7R III ushered in an extended 650-shot battery life almost double that of its predecessors, and the Sony A7R IV even improves on that slightly, so that’s a significant step forwards, but the Canon EOS RP can only manage 250 shots. 

Mirrorless cameras are inherently more dependent on battery power than DSLRs. Either the LCD display or the electronic viewfinder is on all the time. Furthermore, the fact that most manufacturers try to make mirrorless models as small as possible means that their batteries are also small, which also presents a limit on their capacity.

SIZE:

The most often claimed advantage of mirrorless systems is that they are much smaller than DSLRs. This is the main sell of mirrorless systems: the same size of sensor and image quality as offered by a DSLR without the bulk.

But there are often trade-offs in making a mirrorless camera body so compact, such as battery life, the way a camera handles with larger lenses, and how much space there is for external dials and buttons.

Small bodies also means small controls, and users with larger hands may not find smaller mirrorless bodies easy to use. This extends to touchscreens too, with virtual buttons and controls often too small for then to be keyed comfortably, so although the Nikon D850 DSLR seems huge in comparison to today’s full frame mirrorless camera, many of its pro users will prefer its size because it makes it much easier to see and change camera settings – and because it balances better with big lenses, which is what we cover in the next section.

Size has certainly been an issue in both ways with some photographers. Photographers who have had mirrorless cameras are coming back to the DSLR camera because it is easier to handle than the mirrorless cameras. And it also goes the other way: DSLR users are going to the smaller mirrorless cameras because they are smaller and not so much weight to carry around.

This is where you need to hold the two cameras, and see the difference in your hands. Then you can see which one feels the best for you.

LENSES:

DSLRs still have an advantage for lens choice, simply because they’ve been around and supported for decades. Anyone that opts for a Canon EOS DSLR today has 30 years’ worth of native optics to choose from, and many more when you factor in compatible third-party options. Nikon and Pentax are in a similar position with their DSLR ranges.

However, the development of new DSLR lenses has slowed dramatically. Canon and Nikon now put almost all of their lens development effort into mirrorless lenses. Not only that, wider mirrorless lens mounts and shorter back-focus ‘flange’ distances have given lens designers a blank slate, and many new mirrorless lenses out-perform older DSLR equivalents.

Nikon and Canon have been especially clever with their new full frame mirrorless cameras. Nikon makes an FTZ mount adaptor for using any of Nikon’s current DSLR lenses without restriction. Canon has also launched lens adapters for its EOS R full-frame mirrorless cameras, opening up its entire range of EF DSLR lenses to these cameras. Although putting a larger DSLR lens on a smaller mirrorless camera with the adapter, seems like you are defeating one of the reasons for having a mirrorless camera.

Panasonic’s healthy range of lenses for its mirrorless cameras is joined by further compatible options from the likes of Olympus, Sigma and Samyang and, for its full frame Lumix S models, there are lenses not just from Panasonic, but Sigma and Leica too.

Fujifilm and Olympus have also had time to develop their own native lens systems, to the degree that none of the mirrorless camera brands is now at any real disadvantage regarding lens choice.

HOWEVER, mirrorless camera lenses are non inherently smaller. Mirrorless camera makers can indeed demonstrate that their camera bodies are a lot smaller than their DSLR counterparts, but the same can’t be said for their lenses.

The Canon RF 28-70mm F/2L USM is a remarkable mirrorless lens, but just look at the size of it! (Image credit: Future / Matthew Richards)

It’s the sensor size that largely determines the size of camera lenses, not whether. the camera is mirrorless or not. Some mirrorless makers have produced small or retracting lenses that do offer a size saving, but when lens makers produce mirrorless lenses to match the specifications and performance of DSLR lenses, they end up pretty much the same size.

This not only undermines the ‘mirrorless is smaller’ argument, it produces handling issues with small-body-big-lens combinations. Sony’s A7-series camera bodies are remarkably small, but many of its lenses – especially its top-quality G Master lenses – are unexpectedly big. You might find yourself buying a battery grip for your mirrorless camera just to make it handle better with your favorite lenses.

VIDEO:

This is where mirrorless cameras have a considerable advantage, and for two main reasons. First, their design makes them much better suited to the constant ‘live view’ required for video capture. Second, this is where camera makers are concentrating their video capture technologies and where you’re going to get the best video features and performance.

But let’s not forget that DSLRs can shoot video too. The Nikon D90 brought HD video to the consumer market, and the Canon EOS 5D II brought DSLRs into the professional videography and film-making arena. 

For today’s DSLRs, video capture is a standard feature, and the Nikon D5, D850 and Canon EOS 5D IV offer 4K video capture, while the Nikon D780 is as effective for video as any mirrorless camera. 

Even so, when it comes to 6K and 8K capture, raw or 10-bit video, high frame rates and more, all the effort and development work is going into mirrorless cameras.

Don’t assume DSLRs can’t shoot video – the Canon EOS 5D IV is actually pretty good at it.

CONCLUSION: WHICH IS BETTER? DSLR OR MIRRORLESS

Read through all the advantages of each. See which one fits your needs better. Also, get to a store and compare the two formats. And then check out the viewfinder and see which way you like to go. The DSLR will give you a true image in the viewfinder, while the mirrorless viewfinder is a screen, like a small TV screen to look at. Which way would you like it? Also, take a look at the difference in sizes between the DSLR and the Mirrorless. The difference is size is not so great anymore as the DSLR manufactures have found ways to make their cameras smaller as well.

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