Digital Photo Help


Video: Understanding the science of camera sensors

by on Apr.22, 2018, under Reviews

When we see a technical video posted online, purporting to explain some scientific concept that has to do with photography, we typically brace ourselves. More often than not, they fall into two categories: (1) oversimplified, or (2) blatantly incorrect.

That’s why this Filmmaker IQ episode on the science of camera sensors is such a breath of fresh air: not only is it factually solid, it goes into more detail and makes that detail easier to understand than just about any other technical breakdown of image sensor science we’ve seen… and they throw in a great explanation about how film works just to sweeten the pot.

The 13 minute video explains:

  • How photographic film uses a thin coating of silver halide crystals to capture light.
  • The science behind the photodiode that converts light into electrical current for all digital image sensors
  • How a Charged Couple Device (or CCD) sensor works, and its pros and cons.
  • How a Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (or CMOS) sensor works, and its pros and cons.

If you’ve never bothered to dive into the science of image sensors or, every time you tried, the explanation was just too dense, give this video a look and let us know what you think in the comments below.

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Shooting Greenland in Winter: Part 1 – Uummannaq Whiteout

by on Apr.21, 2018, under Reviews

Earlier this year, I was sent on assignment to shoot Greenland in winter. This was a trip I had been wanting to do for years, but it always fell through due to scheduling conflicts and the fact that visiting Greenland would be quite expensive to do on my own. Luckily, I was approached by Air Greenland and Visit Greenland, in collaboration with my long-time friends and partners at Square Rock, and given the necessary financial support to finally realize this dream.

Being sent on an assignment and given a green light to shoot whatever I wished and realize my passion was incredible. Indeed, on the one hand, I was a bit stressed by the need to justify the costs and produce good results for my sponsors. But on the other hand, I was completely free to go and do as I pleased, all taken care of.

I was determined to take full advantage of the opportunity, and I’d like to tell you the story of my trip in this series of articles.

Selecting the Destinations

When Air Greenland is one of your sponsors, imagination flies. At the beginning, I naturally leaned toward destinations which I would never conceivably visit on my own. Qaanaaq, in the far Arctic north of Greenland, was a candidate. But I was very quickly made to understand that since I was to produce images that would promote tourism in Greenland, I would need to go somewhere where tourists might actually go!

Domestic flights to Qaanaaq cost upward of $2,000, and that’s not including the flight to Greenland in the first place… not exactly tourist friendly. Alright, now what? A few options came to mind.

The first was the southern tip of Greenland, which boasts fantastic fjords and mountains, and a good latitude for Northern Lights. It was a good option but the problem was that there is no stable sea ice to go on. I really wanted to drive or walk close to icebergs embedded in sea ice.

Another option was Scoresby Sound, an excellent location to which I also hadn’t visited. There is plenty of stable sea ice there and an option to dogsled all around and get close to embedded icebergs. The problem with this one is that there wasn’t quite enough material there to fill my two-week time frame.

Finally, I made the choice of going to Uummannaq and to Disko Bay. I had been in Uummannaq once in the summer for just a few hours, and I was seriously intrigued by its beauty and iconic grandeur. Uummannaq Mountain is a landmark which sparks the imagination, with its twin 1170-meter peaks and iconic heart-like shape (Uummannaq means heart-shaped in Greenlandic).

It’s a perfect background for many types of shots, which would give me the diversity I wanted:

Mount Uummannaq above Uummannaq town

Uummannaq Island lies in the middle of Uummannaq Fjord, which was perfect in what it offered: solid, far-reaching sea ice and several glaciers which produce beautiful icebergs. The icebergs travel into the fjord and, in winter, they get stuck in the sea ice—some of them very close to town.

Houses in Uummannaq and an iceberg stuck in sea ice next to town

Uummannaq is a small town but not too small—the infrastructure was more than enough for my needs. I was housed in a very comfortable little guest house right next to the harbor, and there was a restaurant downstairs and a supermarket nearby. I was assigned a local guide who took very good care of me throughout my stay, accommodated my photographic needs and schedule, made sure I was safe and warm at all times and was fun to be around.

First Day in Uummannaq

Uummannaq is at about 70 degrees north, in the far west of Greenland. Getting there from Leknes, Norway, where I had been guiding beforehand, involved no less than eight flights, the last of them by helicopter. The views from the air were admittedly spectacular, but I would have appreciated a shorter route.

Upon arriving at the heliport I was greeted by very cold weather. Even though I had already been in the Arctic for 1.5 months right before arrival, it had been in places with milder weather. For example, temperatures in the Lofoten Islands rarely go lower than -10 Centigrade. Greenland is a different story altogether, and your first breaths at -25 degrees are hard. I had never had to experience this type of temperatures for an extended period of time before—my lungs rejected the cold air and I started coughing until my body got used to the new situation.

Bleak conditions upon my arrival in Uummannaq

After meeting my guide Paaluk and settling into the guest house, I started exploring. That is, if you call being bombarded by snow and gale-force winds exploring.

The first day was quite miserable. With temperatures down to -28 and strong winds, it was very hard to move around, much less shoot. My hands and feet went numb several times, I suffered frostbite on my nose, and was generally frustrated with the lack of light and the harshness of the situation.

The upside was that the weather conditions supplied very interesting photographic material, and even though I sometimes had to go back to the guesthouse to get warm, I did get interesting shots of the locals working and handling their sled dogs.

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I also hiked to the icebergs embedded in the sea ice to shoot them during the whiteout. There were several beautiful icebergs right outside town, and all I had to do to get to them was go down to the harbor and walk for 20 minutes, which also warmed me up a bit. There were also several additional icebergs a bit further away, and I sometimes hiked there or took a ride on Paaluk’s snowmobile.

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Finally, I also took some images of the ice fishermen at work. It astounded me how these men were working throughout the day, no matter the weather. These guys are tough!

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Shooting in the snow and gale was very interesting but a bit hard. Luckily, the upcoming days were much nicer and offered other kinds of photography like the shot you see below. But more on that in Part 2.

Erez Marom is a professional nature photographer, photography guide and traveler based in Israel. You can follow Erez’s work on Instagram and Facebook, and subscribe to his mailing list for updates.

If you’d like to experience and shoot some of the most fascinating landscapes on earth with Erez as your guide, take a look at his unique photography workshops in Southern Iceland, Northern Iceland, The Lofoten Islands, Patagonia, Greenland in summer, Greenland in winter, Namibia and the Faroe Islands.

Erez also offers video tutorials discussing his images and explaining how he achieved them.

Selected Articles by Erez Marom:

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Meyer Optik is reviving Dr. Rudolph's APO Plasmat 105mm F2.7 lens

by on Apr.20, 2018, under Reviews

Meyer Optik has announced its new APO-Makro-Plasmat 105 F2.7 lens, a modern version of one of the classic Plasmat lenses developed by Dr. Paul Rudolph 105 years ago. As with previous Meyer Optik revivals, the company is funding its product on Kickstarter, where it explains that the new Plasmat 105 “offers natural sharpness, unbelievable color reproduction, and a glowing bokeh united at every step of the aperture.”

The name Makro, Meyer Optik explains, was chosen by Rudolph in reference to the Makro-Plasmat’s suitability for 35mm, not macro, photography. The company says that while its revamped version of the lens offers performance that’s “in the spirit of the Plasmat lenses,” it created the model with modern camera gear in mind.

The APO-Makro-Plasmat 105 has a 105mm focal length, 60mm width, an F2.7 – F22 aperture, 1.1m / 3.6ft minimum focusing distance, manual focusing, 6 elements in 5 groups, as well as 15 steel aperture blades with an anti-reflex coating.

As with the original Plasmat lenses, Meyer Optik says its remake offers a unique combination of glow, bokeh, plasticity, and sharpness, explaining:

The lens is sharp but it takes away the razor cut, sterile, microscope like sharpness and replaces it by an even sharpness around the subject that flatters it and pleases the eye of the spectator. Thus the lens fills the whole space with amazing depth and at the same time with a smooth transition from focus to softness.

The company plans to offer APO-Makro-Plasmat 105 for 35mm cameras in the following mounts: Canon EF, Nikon F, Sony E, Fuji X, and Leica M. A model will also be released for medium-format mirrorless cameras in both Fuji GFX and Hasselblad X1D mounts.

The lens has already reached nearly three times its funding goal on Kickstarter, where backers who pledge at least $1,050 USD (offer expires in the next 17 hours) are promised an early bird lens with a serial number that matches where they fall on the backers’ list—the first person to pledge will receive serial number 001, the second person will receive 002, and so on. Once this first early bird offer is gone, backers will be able to get the lens for $1,100, $1,150, and eventually $1,300 when all early bird deals are gone.

Initial shipments to backers are expected to start in February 2019; shipping costs depend on region. To learn more or secure your own, head over to the Kickstarter campaign page.

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