Remarkable Advice For A Phenomenal Social Media Marketing Plan

TIP! Create a blog and try and keep the content you add relevant. Post everything new you have to say on your blog.

At one point in time, many businesses viewed the world of social media as a playing ground for kids. Those days are long gone. In today’s society, social media sites provide a valuable tool for marketing and branding any business. With such a level of importance placed on these sites, it is equally important to make your social media marketing plan an effective one. In this article we will give you a few tips for starting out right.

TIP! Use caution when you’re hiring a marketing company for social media. Many of these businesses are preying on inexperienced owners of Internet marketing businesses with scams.

Whether you are writing a blog post title, preparing a tweet, or thinking of a Facebook post, create titles that are interesting, and make readers unable to resist clicking to your site or blog. Whenever your titles draw in people, you stand a better chance of convincing people to go the places you want.

TIP! If you are a blogger, use the “retweet” button for every blog post. Your followers can then share your blog update with their own Twitter followers quite easily.

When you start a blog and post to it regularly, be sure that you insert a Facebook button on the page that allows readers to share your blog. This allows one-click sharing with a visitor’s Facebook friends directly from your blog. This helps to increase the numbers with access to the blog, which, in turn, brings in more visitors that may decide to use your service or possibly buy your products.

Social Media

TIP! Try using YouTube as part of the marketing you use for social media, to help attract specific viewers to your website. Visitors will see your videos and have a better idea about what your business is all about.

Have a plan in place before you start a social media campaign. Decide on a layout, and whether you need outside help to manage the pages. Also consider if you have the time to do it. As with any campaign in marketing, set a rough date by which you hope to achieve your specific results. Stay with your plans so that you can succeed with social media marketing.

TIP! Give your followers special offers. These offers should be something that is unique.

All the cool kids hang out on social media sites so if you want to market to them, you need to be on Facebook and Twitter. It can greatly increase brand visibility, as well as expose your product or service to people who would otherwise never discover it. Utilize the tips provided in this article to begin formulating your own social media marketing strategies, and create a high quality campaign.

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Professional Photography Tips To Get Perfect Pictures

In the world of photography, good photos are ones that craftily showcase the subject matter. Good advice will help in this regard. If you learn their secrets, you could easily become one of them. Use the advice here to elevate your photographs and make them stand out.

Try different digital techniques to come up with wonderful photographs that look like watercolors, oil paintings, and graphic pencil sketches. There are various image editing software for digital photos, but the program Adobe Photoshop, is pretty much the industry standard. Instantly making your pictures into masterpieces is simple. Just hit the “filter” button, select the medium that you prefer, and then click the selection that you want.

Move closer to the object of your picture, and you will get a better shot. This allows you to eliminate disruptive backgrounds and frame your subject. It can also give you a better grasp of how to capture the emotions and expressions that define a great portrait. Little details are often missed when your subject is too far away.

Use the simpler features of your camera settings. Master one control at a time, such as the shutter speed or the aperture, before taking on the next. By learning one setting at a time, you will be able to capture your subject.

Your arms should be close against your body when you are holding the camera, and make sure your hands are on the sides and bottom of the camera. Much clearer photos will result, as the hand shaking will be minimized. Cradling your hands underneath your camera and lens also prevents you from clumsily dropping it.

Try new things, and don’t fear trying new techniques. That’s the best way to develop your own style and allow others to see the world from your perspective. Stay away from taking classic pictures that people have seen a million times. Try looking for angles that are unique, and be creative.

Above all else, photography is an art form meant to be enjoyed. They should be something that you do to remember a particular time, place or event that you want to be able to show others and recall yourself. Make sure you are having fun when you are taking pictures and you will be enthusiastic about learning new skills.

Practice shooting under a variety of lighting conditions, from different angles, and with each of the built-in features included in your camera. You can get an interesting, artistic photo without having an amazing subject to shoot. A skilled photographer can take even the most overshot subject and create an image which is creative and jaw-dropping. Experiment with your photos until you discover your personal style.

Built-in flash comes on almost all digital cameras. It can kick in automatically in low-light situations. This flash is great for quick shots, but more professional photographs should use an external component for flash and lighting. Check to make sure your camera has a “hot shoe” on top that will accommodate an external flash, then go to a professional camera store to ensure that you are getting one that automatically syncs with your camera.

One of the best ways to capture perfect shots is to take many photographs of your subjects. Keep this in mind when purchasing a memory card, so you can be sure to get one with a large storage capacity. With more storage on a memory card, having room for photos does not have to be a worry. If your memory card is large, you will be able to shoot using RAW format. This gives you a great deal of post-production flexibility.

Feel Comfortable

Take down notes when you’re shooting pictures. It can be hard to keep track of where your photographs were taken, or what you were feeling when it was shot. Carry a small notebook with you so you can take brief notes as you take each photograph.

Try to make your model feel comfortable, particularly if you just met them. You may unknowingly intimidate your subject, potentially affecting the outcome of your photographs. Have a nice chat and make them feel comfortable with you, and then ask if it’s okay to photograph them. Make sure that they see that you’re practicing art, not invading their privacy.

Consider finding a club that take pictures, or find someone who is also into photography to buddy up with. You could learn a lot from other people, but do not let their style influence your pictures. Compare the same objects together and notice how each picture differ.

There’s a myth that white is an excellent color to wear for photos, but this is false. Many cameras are pre-set to automatically focus, so the camera seeks a “reading” of all the nuances and shades present in the frame of the picture. Auto-focusing mechanisms aren’t good at distinguishing white, so it gets washed out in the final product.

Use limits to help yourself focus in on a subject and be more creative For instance, you can base a whole set of pictures around a specific subject. Choose a single position in the room and make an effort to shoot 100 entirely different pictures. Another alternative is to take 100 photographs within a single location, like a store or a park. By doing this, you will start to think more creatively and create photos that are unusual.

Don’t dawdle when taking your shot. If you hesitate or wait too long, the moment you want to capture may pass, so you need to be prepared to shoot your photographs completely in the moment. If your subject is alive, such as an animal or person, it might move out of shot or change its facial expression while you are fooling around with your camera settings, and then you won’t be able to capture the moment you wanted. While camera settings are important, you should never lose a shot trying to get a camera set just so.

Usually the subject will be looking directly at the camera. A great and unique picture is to have the person you are photographing look off in the distance at something. You could also have them focus on an item that is within the frame of the picture.

For an interesting photograph, play around with the focus. You can focus on your subject more by using a smaller depth-of-field to blur the background. This type of photography is great for portraits, because the subject is usually near the camera and is meant to be the main focus. A bigger f-stop number will give you a greater depth of field, which means that everything in the photo will be in focus. Use this feature when taking panoramic or landscape pictures.

Lighting is one of the most important considerations when taking pictures. If you are taking outside shots, the sun should be low for optimal effects. Late afternoon or early morning are the best options. Avoid casting shadows that may darken your photographs. If you do use sunlight, position your photo so that the sun is hitting the subject from the side.

You can adjust your camera’s settings to help something look more interesting by using different lighting or angles. Tinker with these settings before you take pictures of things you are planning to shoot in order to get the best pictures possible.

Some people imagine white to be a great color for portraits, yet it is absolutely not. Modern cameras generally try to focus automatically by taking into account the objects, colors, and lighting present in the environment. This will prevent the camera’s auto focus from making the white clothing disappear into the background.

Sharpness is something you need to understand and especially where in an image it happens. The image will appear sharper when you look through the center of the lens. Sharpness degrades towards the outer edges of your camera frame.

You can easily edit your pictures. Software designed for image editing is readily available in the marketplace. Find one that has a vast array of options to edit the photos you have taken already. These programs will include settings to edit such things as having the ability to change photos from color to black and white or sepia, red eye removal tools, and many others.

A tripod is a great investment for better pictures. A picture can be ruined if you cannot hold your camera perfectly still. Purchasing an inexpensive tripod can help eliminate blurriness from your photos. If you purchase a quality tripod, you’ll be able to avoid unexpected results, and will produce more professional looking pictures.

Some extensions that can be used on your lenses are filters. They will attach right onto your lens and can be used for many different things. The UV filter is the most common one. It protects your lens from the harmful direct sunlight. In addition, it can aid in protecting your lens from being damaged if dropped.

The above tips show a few different ways that you can capture a scene with the power of photography. To be a good photographer, lots of research and practicing to better your shots is required.

If your camera takes film, think long and hard about choosing the right brand. Try different films and you should soon find a favorite one. No distinct film brand offers significant advantages that places it head and shoulders above the rest. You can decide which brand to use for whatever reasons you want.

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Photographing new babies

Photographing new babies

Photographing new babies

Photographing new babies – Twice the fun or double the trouble? James Paterson explains how to approach a newborn photo shoot with twins as the stars

If you’ve been asked to photograph newborn babies, then you’re in for both a treat and a challenge. Newborn photography offers the chance to capture babies in their tiniest, sleepiest, most youthful state, and the results can be tear-jerkingly good. But great patience, sound technique and a little luck is required – especially when shooting twins. Over the next few pages, we’ll explain how to approach the shoot, with advice on the right Canon DSLR settings, the best lens choices and how to set up your own makeshift natural light studio in the home.

If you want the babies to look truly newborn, it’s best to schedule the shoot within the first two weeks after their birth. However, newborn twins may be different, as they often have to spend time in hospital. Ideally schedule the shoot before they reach the 40-week stage. If you want the contemporary newborn look that’s very popular at the moment, consider bringing along a selection of textured blankets and colourful wraps, like the ones we’re using here, from www. babyprops.co.uk. Not only do they give you a smooth, clean backdrop for your portraits, but they can also help failing arms and legs in the right place!

STEP BY STEP NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHY

Get set up for your newborn shoot with the right camera settings and kit

SAFETY FIRST

If you’ve seen a photo of a newborn baby perched on top of a guitar, a crate or anything precarious, it’s probably a composite. The baby’s safety is paramount, so don’t pose or position them in any way that could result in a fall or worse. If you do want to capture them posed on a precarious prop, set the camera up on a tripod. You can take one shot with the baby and parent (making sure the parent’s arms or shadow don’t obscure the baby), then take another shot of the prop on its own in the same position.

BLANKETS AND PROPS

We want a contemporary look for our photos, and a big part of this is picking the right colours and textures for the backdrop. A wrap or a hat can be a great way to add a splash of colour and texture to your shots.

CHECK THE SETTINGS

Time is limited; babies need feeding and nappies need changing. So, get your setup sorted before bringing the baby in. Use a toy roughly the same size to check lighting, backdrop and camera settings are spot on.

DIRECT THE LIGHT

Window light is ideal here – it’s soft, flattering and falls off slowly. The direction of light is crucial; a slightly sideon position to the window creates pockets of highlight and shadow to give depth to your subject’s features.

BOUNCE WITH A REFLECTOR

Held opposite the window, a simple reflector lets us bounce light back into shadows, which evens out contrast for lovely soft lighting. If your reflector has gold/silver/white surfaces, white or silver is best here.

CANON CAMERA SETTINGS

Set Manual mode with a shutter speed of 1/200 sec for sharp shots, and set a wide aperture to around f/3.5 (anything wider might be too shallow). Use Auto ISO and the ISO adapts to give a correct exposure.

GOOD LENS CHOICES

A lens with a wide maximum aperture is crucial for the shallow-focus, soft-backdrop look. Prime lenses are good, as they offer wide apertures and great optics. We used a 50mm f/1.4 and a 100mm f/2.8 macro.

EXPERT EXPOSURE

EXPERT EXPOSURE

EXPERT EXPOSURE

EXPERT EXPOSURE – Fine-tune camera settings to record the best exposure

TAKING control of exposure with your Canon DSLR means actively deciding which part of a scene you want to expose for, and how bright or dark your shots are overall. Exposure is determined by the combination of aperture, shutter speed and ISO (as demonstrated by the exposure triangle diagram on the right). Together, these three settings control how much light reaches the sensor inside your camera. Remember that different setting combinations can capture the same brightness in an image – for example, 1/500 sec at f/4, 1/125 sec at f/8, or 1/30 sec at f/16.

Each image taken would be equally bright, but the depth of field (how much of the scene is in focus in the resulting shot) would change with each different aperture setting.

Exposure triangle

THE three fundamental elements of exposure are aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Imagine these make up three sides of an exposure triangle, and that creating a balanced exposure is a juggling act between these settings. When you alter one element, you have to compensate by adjusting at least one of the other two. For example, a wide aperture and a short shutter speed might produce the same exposure as a narrow aperture with a longer shutter speed, but the resulting images will be different. The trick to getting the ‘correct’ exposure is to get all three elements working together so you get the results you want.

READING THE HISTOGRAM

Check the exposure level by reviewing images’ histogram on your Canon

01 UNDERSTAND IT

A histogram shows the tonal range of your image. The left side corresponds to shadow details and the right side to highlights, so you can see what tonal detail is recorded and how much is lost.

02 FIND IT

You can view the histogram of images both as you compose in Live View mode and afterwards when reviewing shots. To display the histogram, press Info until it appears on the LCD screen.

03 READ THE SHAPE

A bell-shaped histogram indicates a correct exposure. Shots skewed to the left contain darker tones, while those to the right have more highlights. Clipped tones touch the edges of the graph.

YOUR camera’s meter isn’t infallible when it comes to setting the best exposure, and in tricky lighting conditions, it can over or underexpose subjects.

When you shoot in Tv and Av exposure mode, it’s easy to brighten or darken your shots using Exposure Compensation. Use the Q button to reach the settings menu, go to Exposure Compensation, and use the thumbwheel to dial it in. Positive values lighten your photograph, while negative values darken it. For this image, the bright sky caused the meter to underexpose the flowers: +1-stop of positive exposure compensation lightened them up.

KEY COMPOSITIONS

It’s easy to improve your images by investing a little time in thoughtful framing with your DSLR

WHEN composing shots with your Canon, there are many different tricks and devices for producing striking results. To get you started, we’ve outlined the most popular ones here. You need to consider both the subject and background elements of your scene, taking care to avoid distractions and cluttered backdrops. You also need also decide whether a landscape or portrait orientation will best suit the scene at hand. The key to strong composition is finding a way to draw the viewer’s eye into the frame. More often than not, this is done by positioning your main subject off to one side, rather than bang in the middle, to make the frame more dynamic. Remember that shooting height and view also affect the composition. If your Canon has a tilting LCD screen, use it to reach unusual viewpoints, such as crouching low to the ground.

THIRDS AND THREES

Master this classic compositional approach

THE simplest way to compose balanced and visually pleasing images is with the rule of thirds. To get started, divide your scene into a rough 3×3 grid and then position key objects or areas along the lines or within the grid squares. This approach works well for landscapes if you place the horizon line on the top or bottom third of the frame.

Use grids to compose

WHEN you shoot in Live View mode, you can display a grid on your Canon’s LCD monitor. This will overlay your scene, and can be used to align or position objects when composing images.

On most models, there are several options to choose from. To activate the grid feature, head to your Canon’s main menu, then navigate to Live View Settings, and turn Grid Display on. The first grid with nine squares is generally the most useful, as it’s identical to the rule of thirds. The grid won’t be displayed on your final images, but it’s a handy tool for helping you to frame up shots.

PhotoScape X

PhotoScape X

 PhotoScape X

PhotoScape X – Is PhotoScape X a fantastic freebie? We take a look at everything it has to offer

Free software can often be a mixed bag. Sure, there’s a lot of really great stuff out there that can really enrich your editing needs, but sometimes these downloads are missing some of the editing essentials needed for a complete package.

PhotoScape X positions itself as a free piece of software that sits somewhere between Adobe Photoshop and Photoshop Elements in terms of tools and skill level. It’s simple enough to navigate with Viewer and Editor panels to begin with, which displays your files before you are able to go ahead and make adjustments to them.

The editing tools themselves vary in quality. Some of them like HDR and Miniature are unnecessarily powerful to the point where you really don’t need them on full strength, while the Colour section delivers excellent effects to help alter the tone and contrast. Either way, there’s a huge array of tools on offer.

Where PhotoScape X perhaps excels is in the Film section. Here you’ll find some good quality filters for one-click fixes. Whether you use them as a final flourish or you want to build on them is up to you – they are versatile to your needs and are arguably the highlight of the program.

For a free program, there’s a hell of a lot to play with in PhotoScape X, but if you upgrade to the paid Pro version you’ll unlock even more options. Whether you want to take that plunge or not, there’s something for everyone with this free download.

Not the most complete program, but for free, PhotoScape X is well worth trying out and exploring. It’s perhaps best for someone of a beginner level, looking for simpler software that has more challenging tools available.

PortraitPro 17

PortraitPro 17

PortraitPro 17

PortraitPro 17 – Tweak your portraits to perfection with this professional-level software package

For as long as retouching has been part of the public consciousness, there’s been a debate over its ethics and morality. For a lot of people, it’s not so much a case of how far a program can retouch your subject, but rather how far the user should go themselves. Unrealistic beauty standards are a topic of debate likely to last as long as retouching itself.

Aside from all morality issues and debates though, PortraitPro 17 is just the kind of program that promises the kind of wide-scale retouching effects to completely transform your photos from rough shots into fashion magazine-quality images. For the most part it’s extremely easy and user-friendly to get the hang of too, and it comes with basic presets and sliders for tweaking your shots.

Everything starts off in PortraitPro with identifying the face, selecting the gender and going from there. It’s adept at editing faces that are slightly side on, and it can manage with glasses and lower resolution without too much bother. From there, the presets available are subtle enough that a lot of your editing in PortraitPro can be reduced down to just a few clicks.

New to PortraitPro 17, you can now edit backgrounds, which is great for studio-shot images, and this function works pretty smoothly. There are more make-up options than ever before, which is also good for giving you more choice and more realism when editing female portraits.

The sliders though are where the program really excels, and in truth, it’s very impressive what PortraitPro can do. Everything is editable, from the lighting on the face to the colour of the eyes and the shine of the hair, meaning that whatever you want to focus on, PortraitPro can do it. The masking capabilities maybe aren’t the greatest, but when the other tools are this accurate, that’s just a mere fly in the ointment.

Whether or not it’s ethically sound to completely perfect a subject’s face, PortraitPro can manage it. The title doesn’t lie: this is a professional-level piece of software that can do some pretty amazing things, for just £60. A must-have for portrait retouchers.

 

Canon EOS M100

Canon EOS M100

Canon EOS M100

Canon EOS M100 –  Small, lightweight and compatible with the entire EOS system, is this compact system camera a genuine option for serious photographers?

Entering as a direct replacement for the 18MP EOS M10, the M100 is pitched as an entry-level option in the EOS M line-up. When handling the camera for the first time, the body does feel more like a beginner’s tool, featuring a largely plastic construction. While this may discourage more advanced photographers, the size, shape and balance will be familiar to users of compact digital cameras. The outer shell feels rigid and does not distort when depressed, suggesting a better build than many compact offerings.

Although there have clearly been some compromises in construction quality, this does not affect the overall handling of the M100, which benefits from a textured front plate and thumb rest. The setup feels nicely balanced with the EF-M 15-45mm f3.5-6.3 IS STM, which adds a reassuring weight to the front of the camera. All of the buttons and dials are within easy reach when keeping one finger on the shutter button. One possible complaint is that many of the physical settings controls have been removed from the camera body, meaning the user must make alterations to shutter speed, aperture and ISO from the LCD or from within the menu system. However, the screen itself is very responsive and with a little practice, it is possible to operate the camera intuitively, with speed.

The use of an APS-C sized imaging sensor allows greater control over depth of field and superior noise performance, relative to a compact camera or smartphone. The M100 uses a 24.2MP unit – an increase of roughly 6MP from the M10 – which is capable of resolving plenty of fine detail, even when using the kit lens. Noise is well managed in JPEG files throughout the ISO range and resolution is still acceptable at the highest settings, albeit with some smudging and loss of contrast.

As is expected from a Canon APS-C format camera, colour rendition is very good, reflecting natural hues and excellent colour gradation. The white balance system copes well in mixed lighting – the camera successfully neutralises strong colour bias under artificial light, while maintaining a natural amount of warmth.

For an entry-level camera, the EOS M100 comes with a fairly comprehensive feature set. In addition to the high-resolution sensor, a top sensitivity of ISO 25,600 is available, as is an improved 6.1fps burst rate – an improvement over the 4.6fps of the EOS M10. Both cameras incorporate Wi-Fi, but the M100 adds Bluetooth connectivity, for extra versatility. A useful feature is the built-in flash, which can be adjusted to bounce light for a more diffused and professional lighting style. Autofocus is quick and generally very accurate.

While this falters a little in low light, there is a bright AF assist light that helps speed up the process. The touch-focus feature is a great addition for rapid image capture – a simple tap of the screen triggers the shutter, which is an asset when covering fast-moving scenes, such as street and travel locations.

The stand-out aspect of the M100 is of course its size. For a new photographer who would like to experiment with interchangeable lens photography, as a step up from a smartphone, the M100 offers a small, discreet and lightweight introduction.

Fujifilm X-H1

Fujifilm X-H1

Fujifilm X-H1

Fujifilm X-H1 – The new flagship APS-C format camera combines elements of the popular X-T2 with some from the medium-format GFX

THREE-DIRECTION TILT

The screen can be tilted up and down or flipped out for portrait-format shooting. It’s not as intuitive to use as a vari-angle unit, but it’s solidly constructed.

BATTERY

CIPA testing gives a battery life of 310 images. You’re likely to be able to capture more images in real-world shooting, but a spare battery is advisable.

CONTINUOUS SHOOTING

There’s a max continuous shooting speed of 14fps, or 8fps with the mechanical shutter, but you have to drop to 5.7fps if you need uninterrupted Live View.

QUIET PLEASE

A new shutter button design and spring mechanism make the shutter the quietest of the X Series. The electronic shutter allows silent shooting.

VIDEO

4K (4,096 x 2,160) video can be recorded to an external device via an HDMI connection. Footage recorded internally to an SD card has 4:2:0 colour.

FLICKER-FREE

When the mechanical shutter is employed, the Flicker Reduction system can be used to ensure more stable exposure under fluorescent lighting.

THREE-DIRECTION TILT

Fujifilm has introduced the X-H1 in response to requests from professional photographers, but at its core is the same 24.3MP APS-C format X-Trans CMOS III sensor and X-Processor Pro engine as can be found in the company’s other recent X-Series cameras.

However, in a notable difference, the sensor can move to compensate for camera shake, as the X-H1 is the first Fujifilm X-Series camera to helpfully feature in-body image stabilisation (IBIS). This operates across five axes and has a claimed maximum compensation value of 5.5EV. Another key introduction is that Fuji has given the X-H1’s mechanical shutter a new spring mechanism that is designed to minimise vibration and operation sound.

Like the X-T2, X-Pro2 and X-E3, the X-H1 has Fuji’s 91/325-point Intelligent Hybrid “With 3.69 million dots, the X-H1’s electronic viewfinder (EVF) matches the GFX’s for resolution” autofocus (AF) system that uses both phase and contrast detection. However, Fuji has improved the phase-detection algorithm and made the system sensitive down to -1EV while the contrast detection system has the same

-3EV sensitivity. In addition, Fuji has worked on the continuous AF performance to make it better at tracking moving subjects.

Fujifilm also wants the X-H1 to have more appeal to videographers than its earlier cameras. With this in mind, it’s possible to shoot C4K (4,096 x 2,160) footage at 200Mbps with F-Log Gamma for better grading and matching of multiple camera outputs. Further good news is that this can be recorded to a memory card in the camera or an HDMI device.

Those who want to produce attractive results direct from the camera can use Fuji’s Film Simulation modes, including the new ‘Eterna’ mode introduced with the X-H1, which is designed to replicate the look of cinematic film, with rich shadows and some subtle colour saturation.

Looks-wise, the Fuji X-H1 resembles a cross-breed of the X-T2 and GFX 50S. It’s not as deep as the medium-format GFX, but at 139.8 x 97.3 x 85.5mm it’s quite a bit chunkier than the X-T2 (132.5 x 91.8mm x 49.2mm) – this was a key request to Fuji from professional photographers.

TALKING POINT…

Custom settings

In the AF/MF tab of the X-H1’s menu is the AF-C Custom settings, allowing you to customise the response of the continuous autofocus (AF-C) system.

These comprise five Sets of settings along with a sixth that is provided for the photographer to customise. Each of the Sets specifies values for Tracking Sensitivity, Speed Tracking Sensitivity and Zone Area Switching. These are designed to take control over how quickly the camera adjusts the focus when the subject distance or speed of movement changes, or prioritise the focus area. A good understanding of the subject and the situation is needed, but the menu screen displays typical uses for each Set.

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A new scratch-resistant coating makes the camera more durable than previous models, while seals around the joints and controls ensure that the X-H1 is dust and water-resistant. It’s also freeze-resistant down to -10°C. On the top of the camera there are dials for setting the sensitivity and shutter speed, but the presence of a 1.28-inch LCD on the top plate means there’s no room for an exposure compensation dial. Instead, there’s a button to the side of the shutter release that is pressed while the rear command dial is rotated. This button is little awkward to locate when the camera is held to your eye, but it is possible to use the customisation menu to dedicate another button, such as the one on the front of the camera next to the grip, to take on this duty.

Both dials on the X-H1’s top plate are lockable and while the shutter speed dial seems well protected from being accidentally knocked out of position, the sensitivity dial is more prone and we found it best to keep it locked in place.

With 3.69 million dots, the Fujifilm X-H1’s electronic viewfinder (EVF) matches the GFX’s for resolution and is paired with a maximum frame rate of 100 frames per second in the Boosted performance setting plus a lag of 0.005 seconds. It provides a detailed view of moving and stationary subjects. There’s also a Natural Live View setting if you prefer the electronic viewfinder to simulate the look of an optical viewfinder, but we prefer the standard view that shows the impact of exposure, colour and white balance settings.

“The X-H1’s AF system is fast in decent light and can keep pace with a speeding subject”

By Fujifilm’s own admission, the presence of the same sensor and processing engine as is in the X-T2 (and others) means that grip the X-H1 produces the same quality images. However, the addition of IBIS and the improved AF system should enable it to produce the highest possible quality in a wider range of situations.

When shooting with the XF 16-55mm R LM WR lens at 55mm, we had a hit rate of 60 per cent at 1/8sec and 20 per cent and 1/4 sec; these equate to compensation values of around 3.5 and 4.5EV, which are a bit shy of Fujifilm’s claims.

As we expected, the X-H1’s AF system is fast in decent light and can keep pace with a speeding subject. However, it’s not completely reliable in low light and when photographing dancers indoors, it missed a few shots that we felt it should be capable of delivering. To be fair, there were also a few tricky lighting scenarios where it surprised us by getting the subject sharp.

As with the rest of the X Series, the images that the X-H1 produces are generally attractive with a good level of detail and pleasant colours that are dictated by the selected Film Simulation mode. Noise is controlled well and even ISO 6400 images look very good.

SUPER-TELE ZOOMS

SUPER-TELE ZOOMS

SUPER-TELE ZOOMS

SUPER-TELE ZOOMS – Upgrade your telephoto lens with one of these offerings for phenomenal reach and versatility

Photographers can be a greedy bunch. However much telephoto reach we have, we often hanker after a little more, and there are various ways of achieving this. The starting point for most of us is to buy either a 70-200mm f2.8 or 70-300mm f4-5.6 tele zoom. You can boost the former to 400mm with a 2x tele-converter, or gain an effective 450mm focal length by mounting the latter on an APS-C format body (480mm for Canon).

Another option is to buy a well- established super-tele zoom like the Canon 100-400mm or Nikon 80-400mm. However, if you are used to shooting with a 70-300mm lens on an APS-C format camera, and have moved up to full-frame, you might still feel a bit short-changed when it comes to outright reach. Next up are the Canon 200-400mm and Nikon 180- 400mm lenses which feature built-in 1.4x tele-converters, but they’re monstrously expensive at around £11,000/$12,000 apiece, and monster prime lenses also tend to be very pricey.

Offering a more manageable and affordable solution, Sigma and Tamron have pushed the boundaries with their recent 150-600mm super-tele zooms. Nikon has responded with a 200-500mm lens which, while it doesn’t quite match the others for zoom range or maximum reach, isn’t far off. And the Nikon is similarly competitive in terms of price.

One thing you won’t get with a zoom lens that’s sufficiently lightweight for handheld shooting, yet stretches to 500mm or 600mm, is a ‘fast’ aperture rating. This makes image stabilisation an absolute must. It’s featured in all of the lenses in this test group, apart from the Sony A-mount edition of the Tamron, which relies on in- camera stabilisation instead. Let’s take a closer look at what the current contenders have to offer.

Tamron SP 150-600mm f5-6.3 Di VC USD G2

Aiming to take everything to a whole new level, here’s Tamron – the next generation

As with the excellent 24-70mm and 70-200mm G2 zooms, this one boasts improvements in features, handling and performance. A revised optical layout includes three LD elements rather than just one, and a mixture of both conventional and nano-structured coatings. A full set of weather seals is added, plus a fluorine coating on the front element.

Useful features include a short/long- distance autofocus limiter, which can lock out the range either side of ten metres. The ring-type ultrasonic system has the same manual-priority override as in the Nikon lens, but lacks the Sigma lenses’ auto/manual-priority selection switch.

For stabilisation, the Tamron has a three- position VC (Vibration Compensation) switch. It covers all bases with static and panning modes, plus a mode for applying stabilisation only during the exposure.

This makes it easier to track erratically moving subjects through the viewfinder.

The system delivers 4.5-stop effectiveness, matching that of the Nikon lens and edging ahead of the Sigma lenses. And where you can lock the Sigma lenses’ zoom ring at any marked setting, the Tamron has a push-pull zoom ring enabling it to be locked at any focal length.

In a reversal of fortunes to the Sigma Contemporary lens, sharpness is very good at the long end of the zoom range but less impressive at short to medium focal lengths. Ultimately, if you want a lens that delivers excellent 400-600mm performance in a strong, weather-sealed yet reasonably lightweight build, all at a keen price, this Tamron is a smart buy.

Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 DG OSHSM|S

Big and heavy, Sigma’s mighty Sport lens literally puts all the other contenders in the shade

Physically longer, wider and heavier than other lenses on test, Sigma’s Sport lens is a bit of a beast. It tips the scales at 2,860g, which is good news if you enjoy a physical workout without paying gym fees. The front section of the lens is particularly large, and has a 105mm filter thread instead of the 95mm in the other lenses.

This lens comes closest of any in the group to the look and feel of a fully pro- grade optic. Unlike the Nikon and Sigma Contemporary lenses on test, it has a full set of weather seals, rather than just a sealed mounting plate. It also feels very sturdy and robust, from its brass mounting plate to its metal outer barrel and hood. The rear of the barrel also features strap lugs, so you can hang it from your neck without stressing your camera mount.

All of the attractions of the Sigma Contemporary lens are carried through, including an identical set of switches for auto/manual-priority autofocus, a short/ long autofocus range limiter, dual-mode stabilisation, and two custom modes. Both lenses are also supplied with padded soft cases, but the Sport lens also has a padded soft lens cap that encircles the hood when extended or inverted. Handling benefits from a much bigger focus ring than in the Contemporary lens.

The Sport also goes extra-large in terms of image quality and all-round performance. Autofocus is super fast and highly accurate, while sharpness and contrast are better than from any competing lens, throughout the entire zoom and aperture ranges. Colour fringing is minimal and pincushion distortion is fairly negligible.

Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 DGOSHSM|C

It’s a much more lightweight affair than Sigma’s Sport lens, in price as well as overall construction

This is the only lens on test that weighs in at under two kilos; in fact, it’s nearly a whole kilogram lighter than Sigma’s Sport lens. It still comes complete with a detachable tripod mounting collar, but it’s easier than most to use for prolonged periods of handheld shooting.

Despite costing considerably less than competing lenses, Sigma’s ‘Contemporary’ offering packs plenty of up-market features. It beats the Nikon by offering both auto- and manual-priority AF modes, and the ability to lock out the long and the short end of the autofocus range. There’s a dual-mode stabiliser for static and panning shots, which gave an effectiveness of just under four stops in our tests.

Further trickery includes two ‘custom’ modes which can be selected via a switch on the barrel, enabling you to alter autofocus and stabilisation parameters. You’ll need Sigma’s optional USB Dock to set up custom modes, and it can also be used for applying firmware updates.

The optical path includes three SLD (Special Low Dispersion) elements and one top-grade FLD (Fluorite LD) element. The front and rear elements have a fluorine coating to repel water and grease and Far left to make cleaning easier, and the brass mounting plate has a weather-seal ring.

Sharpness and contrast are a close match to those of the bigger and pricier Sigma Sport lens, at least throughout most of the zoom range. However, sharpness isn’t retained so well at the long end of the zoom range, between 500mm and 600mm. At these focal lengths, it’s good rather than great.

Nikon AF-S 200-500mm f5.6E ED VR

Keenly priced for an own-brand Nikon lens, it leads the field in some ways but lags behind in others

Considering the price tags attached to some of Nikon’s recent lenses, this one looks a bit of a bargain. The constant- aperture design is unique in this test, and makes the Nikon a third of an f-stop faster at the long end of its zoom range. However, it has a smaller 2.5x rather than 4x zoom range, with focal lengths that don’t go as short or as long as in the competing lenses.

Build quality is good with a solid construction and weather-sealed mounting plate. The zoom mechanism can be locked at its shortest setting, while other switches are on hand for focusing modes, long-distance autofocus range limiting and VR (Vibration Reduction). The ring-type ultrasonic autofocus system is manual priority, in that it instantly swaps to manual focusing if you twist the focus ring while in autofocus mode. It therefore works in continuous AF mode, as well as enabling you to swap to manual if AF is struggling to lock onto a subject.

Like a number of recent Nikon lenses, this one has an electromagnetically controlled aperture. Compared with

Nikon’s more conventional mechanical lever, this enables greater exposure consistency when shooting in fast continuous drive mode. The downside is that it’s incompatible with older Nikon DSLRs, up to and including the D200, D3000 and D5000.

Autofocus is fast and accurate. Sharpness is mostly impressive but dips a bit in the middle sector of the zoom range. Colour fringing is slightly worse than with the other lenses on test at the long end, but image quality is good overall.

MASTER SCHOOL PORTRAITS AND EVENTS

MASTER SCHOOL PORTRAITS AND EVENTS

MASTER SCHOOL PORTRAITS AND EVENTS

MASTER SCHOOL PORTRAITS AND EVENTS –  School events are a contradictory area for photographers. Proms, fashion shows and senior portraits all provide a wealth of opportunities for new photographers, sometimes even for school pupils themselves, to break into the world of professional photography and gain invaluable commercial experience.

Yet these events also tend to be large in scale and difficult to coordinate efficiently, even for highly experienced photographers. The large number of attendees offers huge potential for revenue, representing an inflated per-hour rate of pay. Beyond this, assuming you make a good impression, there is the possibility of repeat business, as school events often occur annually. It is a challenging sector to enter, so it is beneficial to be aware of the main difficulties beforehand.

As an individual photographer, it can be hard to effectively cover large events and capture all of the desirable details – after all, you can only be in one location at a time. A solution is to equip yourself with two camera bodies, each mounted with a different lens. Try fitting one body with a wide-angle and the other with a telephoto,

Charge a retainer fee

Be sure to cover your costs by arranging an up-front payment, independent of image sales

When shooting weddings or other similar events, you can be fairly confident of the proportion of guests that will purchase prints from you. At school events, when the exact format and attendee engagement can be undecided and unpredictable, you need to reduce the impact of poor sales, not least because your images will have limited long-term significance. Consider charging a retainer fee, that is enough to cover your travel expenses to the venue and time preparing previews later. This can be contributed in small amounts by each attendee, who can be discounted this amount on their print order, for example.

 GO PRO

or alternatively use a fast prime, such as a 30mm f1.4 on camera one, and a mid-range zoom on camera two – a 24-105mm f4 or similar is common. Lack of venue control is another challenge. Unlike many wedding venues, where layout can be tailored to suit the couple’s requirements, school events mostly occur in fixed settings, forcing the photographer to work around the environment provided. Arrive early, calculate camera settings for each area and once shooting queues of students, avoid changing your settings between shots for higher throughput. Try saving settings to your camera’s custom mode dial positions, so you can call up pre-defined and unchanging parameters on demand. Coordinate with venue staff to find the best places to set up your shots and maximise your control over lighting, space and backgrounds. Frame your shots wider than necessary to include more peripheral space for increased cropping options. Students in groups won’t stay still for long, so use burst mode to capture sequences of shots, to guarantee the best composition.

Ensuring a good return on your time is another major consideration. School-based shoots are intensive and require considerable effort on the photographer’s part, so it is essential we achieve a sustainable profit. While you may shoot many images on location, often only a small fraction of these will be purchased. Events such as proms are previews of your images as soon as possible, usually within two or three days of the event, to encourage sales while it is still fresh in customers’ minds. Provide clear information regarding the online gallery where images can be viewed and when they will be available. Also encourage group and couple images, as these can give you maximum sales for minimal processing time. Don’t resist requests to see images on the back of your camera, since modern generations are used to instant image reviews. Giving your subjects a glimpse of your shots may drive traffic to your event page and adds to the interaction between you and your models. Make the process fun, so it stands out from the rest of the event.

BUILD A RAPPORT

Make sure to interact with your subjects and get to know them. This will help students become comfortable around you, which will reflect in your images. Expressions will be more natural and the excitement of the atmosphere will shine through, increasing selling appeal. very context-driven and attendees’ buying behaviour changes quickly.

Always provide

Use your environment Shooting in an outdoor setting and making the most of the location you have is an effective way of shooting natural, relaxed senior portraits

Know the itinerary

Events like proms move quickly, so being aware of what will happen and when ensures you will be well positioned for your target images, such as students arriving or mingling