Author: Staff

Apple MacBook Pro Hands-On Review

Blog – Outdoor Photographer Staff

Apple MacBook Pro Hands-On Review

For Mac users, the latest MacBook Pro is one of the most highly anticipated and long-awaited product updates from Apple in recent years. 

Thinking about upgrading? With an almost desktop-level of power, the 15-inch MacBook Pro is lighter and faster than the previous iteration (as is the 13-inch version). However, some of the changes Apple made have been met with mixed reviews. 

Among the features we examine in this video review from Technical Contributing Editor David Schloss are the two most controversial: the USB-C port and the OLED Touch Bar. 

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Leica Camera Announces Leica M10

Blog – Outdoor Photographer Staff

Leica M10

The new Leica M10 joins a famous roster of digital and film cameras from the German manufacturer and improves the performance of the M-series cameras while also shedding size and weight. While a favorite system for the outdoor and travel photographer due to its small size, low weight and excellent image quality, the new M10 shaves off 20 grams (.71 of an ounce) and slims down 5mm from the M9. It’s a svelte little camera that looks more like the company’s film cameras than ever before.

With a newly-designed 24 MP full-frame sensor, the Leica M10 provides landscape photographers with a body that has expanded dynamic range and a new ISO range of 100-50,000. Leica claims that the new camera has “considerably improved noise characteristics at higher ISO settings,” which will be welcome news to outdoor photographers looking to capture images in low light. The camera has been redesigned with a top-facing ISO dial and minimally intrusive controls on the back of the camera. The upgraded buffer can capture 30 RAW files or 100 JPEG files at a burst and has a capture rate of 5 fps.

 A newly designed viewfinder has a 30 percent greater field of view, and the optics have been redesigned to be more comfortable to use for those photographers with glasses. A built-in WiFi mode allows images to be transferred directly to a mobile device. 

Leica M10 will be available January 19, 2017, for £5,600 (approximately $6,800) SRP. Read the full press release below for more details.

M is for Milestone.

Introducing the Leica M10: slimmest ever digital M delivers enhanced performance, intuitive handling and direct control

Leica Camera has today announced the M10: the latest milestone in the Leica M rangefinder portfolio. This iconic camera system has once again set new standards with a perfect balance of long-established tradition and technical innovation while embodying the true essence of photography like no other camera.

Although its features have been adapted to meet the precise needs of contemporary photographers, the essential principles of the renowned M-System have been meticulously retained. Every single component and technical detail is focused uncompromisingly on photography. With its compact dimensions, improved performance and intuitive handling, the Leica M10 has established a new landmark in the ongoing history of the legendary Leica M.

The form factor: analogue dimensions enter the digital age

Many photographers working with analogue Leica M cameras have expressed their interest in a digital M with the same ergonomic features and size that fits perfectly in the hands. With the Leica M10, this wish has become a reality, with a top plate depth of just 33.75mm – four millimetres less than its closest relative, the Leica M (Typ 240). The Leica M10 is now the slimmest digital M of all time.

The rangefinder: a precise window on the world

The rangefinder has always played a significant role in the heritage of the Leica M-System. Several key aspects of this legendary focusing technology have been further optimised in the Leica M10. To improve the view of the subject being captured, the field of view has been enlarged by 30 per cent and the magnification factor has been increased to 0.73. For eye-relief, the optimum distance of the eye from the viewfinder eyepiece has also been lengthened considerably. Thanks to a 50 percent increase in this distance, the viewfinder is much more comfortable to use, particularly for photographers who wear glasses.

The sensor: the digital canvas

The key component of the Leica M10 is the 24 MP, full-frame CMOS sensor developed specifically for this camera, offering significant improvements in all image performance parameters: impressive dynamic range, excellent contrast rendition, exceptional sharpness and fine detail resolution. Its unique pixel and micro-lens architecture enables a particularly large aperture, ensuring rays of light hitting the sensor even from the most oblique angles are precisely captured by its photodiodes – this has been further improved compared to its predecessor. The glass cover plate of the sensor acts as an infrared cut-off filter, therefore avoiding undesirable refraction of incoming light with additional layers of glass. The omission of a low-pass filter also ensures the Leica M10 delivers maximum sharpness, leading to significantly enhanced imaging results, especially in the case of wide-angle and very fast lenses.

Thanks to the new design of the Leica M10 sensor, the ISO sensitivity range has been expanded, allowing exposures at values between ISO 100 and 50,000, with considerably improved noise characteristics at higher ISO settings. The Leica M10 opens up entirely new genres of photography and delivers exceptional imaging performance even in challenging lighting conditions.

Image processing electronics: the next quality level

The latest-generation Maestro II image processor incorporated in the Leica M10 represents state-of-the-art, advanced processor technology. Combined with the new 24 MP sensor, it ensures that all exposures are captured with exceptionally brilliant image quality. Thanks to its 2GB buffer memory and continuous shooting at up to five frames per second at full resolution, photographers will never again miss the decisive moment. The Leica M10 is the fastest M-Camera ever made.

Furthermore, the processor allows the loupe function to be freely positioned for even better sharpness assessment. This new function can be used both on the camera’s monitor screen, and in conjunction with the Visoflex electronic viewfinder (EVF) with 2.4 MP resolution. The viewfinder features a swivel function, enabling shooting from unusual angles, and an integrated GPS module for the geotagging of image files.

Intuitive handling – focused on the essentials

Since the beginning, Leica M-Cameras have always focused on the essentials of photography. This principle has been conscientiously pursued in the Leica M10, setting new standards in intuitive handling and rapid access to the most relevant settings: for example, the controls on the back are limited to a single joystick control and just three buttons for Play, Live View and Menu. Particular settings can be selected according to personal preferences and photographic needs via a freely-configurable Favourites Menu.

One of the most distinctive features of the Leica M10 is the ISO setting dial on the top plate. For the first time in a digital Leica M, all essential shooting parameters such as focusing, aperture, shutter speed and ISO value can be selected manually without using the menu – or even switching on the camera – ensuring even more direct control and greater discretion when shooting.

WLAN module for wireless transfer and sharing

The Leica M10 is the first M-Camera with integrated WLAN connectivity. This enables the fast, wireless transfer of pictures to Apple mobile devices, where they can be edited, posted and shared on social networks, for example. The Leica M-App also allows the direct transfer of RAW data in DNG format to mobile devices for further processing with suitable apps from iOS Version 10.2. The Leica M10 can also be remotely controlled by WLAN from a smartphone or tablet, making it easy to capture pictures from unusual angles or avoid camera shake when shooting with longer shutter speeds.

Leica M10: A further step towards perfection

Oliver Kaltner, CEO Leica Camera AG, explains, “The Leica M is the heart, the backbone and the soul of Leica Camera. The Leica M10 unites state-of-the-art technology and exceptional optical performance with a conscious focus on the traditional advantages of the unique Leica M rangefinder system. In this, the innovative camera and its concentration on the functions essential to photography set new standards, while its exceptionally lean handling concept takes us a further step towards absolute perfection. Made in Germany and made by Leica – the Leica M10 stands as an outstanding brand statement for the finest arts of engineering, highest quality and craftsmanship.”

Dr Andreas Kaufmann, majority shareholder and chairman of the supervisory board of Leica Camera AG, emphasised, “The new M, the M10! Not a camera for everyone – but increasingly a camera for people who love a system that is built for the future while maintaining consistent compatibility with its past. The rangefinder system lets me frame and compose my pictures. The rangefinder system lets me tread in the footsteps of the world’s greatest photographers. The rangefinder system lets me create photographs with my own visual style. The new M10 and the wealth of present and past Leica M-Lenses – products that awaken and fulfill the desires of every photographer.”

Pricing and availability

The Leica M10 is scheduled to be available from 19 January 2017, at a suggested retail price of £5,600 including VAT.

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Hands-on with Tamron’s Updated 150-600mm

Blog – Outdoor Photographer Staff

Tricolored heron © Lewis Kemper
Tricolored heron. Exposure: 1/320 sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 3200, 600mm, hand-held.

For more than two years, I have used the Tamron 150-600mm lens as my primary telephoto lens, and I have kept over 94,000 images taken with it. I loved that lens, and when I heard Tamron had updated it, claiming the new version was sharper, faster, better built and had improved image stabilization (Vibration Compensation, or VC in Tamron terms), I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. And boy am I glad I did! The SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 lives up to all of Tamron's claims. The images are noticeably sharper and to me look equivalent to the sharpness found on lenses costing many times more.

The new VC system now includes three modes. Mode 1 is similar to the mode on most lenses where you push the shutter button and see the stabilization appear in the viewfinder. Mode 2 is designed specifically for panning with your subjects and works great for birds in flight. Mode 3 is the mode I call the "trust me" mode, where you do not see any stabilization take place in the viewfinder but the lens applies the maximum amount of stabilization at the time the shutter is released. Tamron claims this is equivalent to 4.5 stops of compensation, which really helps when holding 600mm and photographing from my kayak! I have had great success with this mode, especially when being very close to my subjects at extreme focal lengths.

SP 150-600mm Di VC USD G2
The updated lens features a new design with improved ergonomics.

Other new features that I really like are the addition of an Arca-Swiss plate on the foot of the tripod mount and the ability to lock the zoom at any focal length. The advantage of the built-in Arca-Swiss plate means I don't need to add the weight of an additional adapter plate. If you don't use an Arca-Swiss-style tripod head, there are two standard threads for mounting the lens directly to your head. The ability to lock the lens at any focal length by simply pulling on the zoom ring means if I am pointing up or down when zooming, I don't have to worry about lens creep, and when I am panning, I don't have to worry about accidentally changing my focal length between images.

Another feature that I find most beneficial is the improved coating on the lens that reduces lens flare. I love to take backlit images, and in the previous model this could present a problem. Plus, the G2 version of the lens can now focus as close as 86.6 inches (2.2m), allowing me to get extreme close ups of cooperating subjects.

Double-crested cormorant © Lewis Kemper
Double-crested cormorant. Exposure: 1/640 sec., ƒ/8, ISO 2000, 500mm, hand-held.

My first real experience with the lens came on several visits to Green Cay Wetlands in Boynton Beach, Florida. This is an area with a long boardwalk over water and host to a variety of birds and wildlife. It is a popular area for bird watchers, photographers and walkers who use the boardwalk for exercise. Since the birds see so many people here, many are acclimated to humans and will land on the railings and let you pass within a foot of them. It is here I found one particularly patient and trusting female double-crested cormorant. I could get so close the lens would not even focus! I had to back up to minimum focus distance. When you are 7.5 feet from a cormorant at 600mm, you cannot even get the whole bill of the bird in your frame. I was able to test the lens at a variety of apertures and shutter speeds, and was amazed how sharp the lens was wide open, but did find a slight improvement if I used ƒ/8 or ƒ/11.

In another example, a tricolored heron standing on the railing allowed me to get quite close. It was a bit darker in this location, and I needed a slower shutter speed. With the new VC Mode 3, I was able to hand-hold sharp images at 1/320 sec. at 600mm, being only 7 to 8 feet from the bird. At this distance, any slight movement of the lens would be exaggerated, blurring the image.

After using the lens for several weeks, I am pleased to say Tamron took a great lens and made it even better with the G2 version. I can’t wait to see what my next 94,000 images look like!


See more of Lewis Kemper’s work at lewiskemper.com.

The post Hands-on with Tamron’s Updated 150-600mm appeared first on Outdoor Photographer.

The Magic Of Light’s Edges

Blog – Outdoor Photographer Staff

© Dave Welling
Rainbow over the Paunsaugunt Plateau in Bryce Canyon National Park.

The monsoon storm struck Bryce Canyon at amazing speed with ominous skies, lightning, violent winds and pelting rain. Sitting in my car, I waited for the storm to begin lifting. I knew amazing light would filter through the cloud cover during this transition from storm light to sunlight, creating magic on the land. By waiting, I was rewarded with a spectacular rainbow that seemed to rise out of the distant formations of the Paunsaugunt Plateau.

Any photographer will tell you creating stunning images is "all about the light.” But what does that really mean, especially for landscape and nature photographers who are at the mercy of, and unable to really control, natural light? Natural light is the light, sometimes beautiful and sometimes harsh, that streams down on us every day. Landscape photographers, and to some extent wildlife photographers, quickly learn about the angle of light and opt for those sunrise and sunset hours when light rays are filtered through the atmosphere, providing a golden or warming glow to the landscape or wildlife subject.

© Dave Welling
Sunrise light on the Snake River and the Teton Range in Grand Tetons National Park.

But the low-angle rays of morning and evening light are only part of the story for nature photographers looking to expand their photographic opportunities and skills. There is also what I call the "magic of light's edges,” those amazing lighting effects created by weather or atmospheric conditions that give you the ability to create truly magnificent images of the landscape. These atmospheric effects are most pronounced when weather conditions are just forming or clearing, hence the "edge of light" aspect.

• • •

© Dave Welling
Sunrise storm over Mount Hayden on the North Rim of Grand Canyon.

While sunrise often produces warm golden light on the landscape, when a clearing storm with striking cloud formations is added to the mix the results can be spectacular. Point Imperial on the North Rim of Grand Canyon is a favorite for many landscape photographers since its location allows uninterrupted sunrise light to bathe the canyon walls and Mount Hayden in that golden light. When sunrise monsoon storm clouds over the canyon add atmospheric filtering to the light—as well as a strong element to the composition—you have the opportunity to create a very unique, long-remembered image.

• • •

© Dave Welling
Clearing storm at sunset with lightning, Paunsaugunt Plateau.

"Light edge" landscape photography demands patience, perseverance, understanding of weather and atmospheric conditions and that most critical of photographic techniques: luck. Luck belongs to the well-prepared. Being in the right place at the right time because you have knowledge, patience and perseverance usually gets you the photographic opportunity.

I wanted to capture the dramatic light of summer monsoon storms in the western United States and chose Bryce Canyon in Utah as my target landscape, because significant storms form in this area and the landscape features are surreal. I watched weather forecasts for several summers and made trips when forecasts looked promising but with little success, until one summer when I hit the mother lode of storms. One week of the strongest storms I had ever seen with lightning, ominous skies, mammatus clouds and atmospheric conditions created the most dramatic conditions I had ever seen. I captured the Paunsaugunt Plateau rainbow image just as the storm began to break, but I knew the storm would eventually clear and waited patiently (one of the key elements) to see how the light and clouds evolved. Well, luck "shined" on me. At sunset, the air cleared, providing spectacular sunset light on the remaining clouds over the plateau. I captured an entirely different feel for the same location. There is even a lightning strike in the image.

• • •

© Dave Welling
Black oak and Half Dome on a foggy winter morning.

Fog is another "light edges" atmospheric condition that can be exploited by landscape photographers. Foggy conditions can be tricky from an exposure standpoint. Most camera metering systems underexpose fog to make it the infamous 18 percent neutral gray. Fog is actually brighter than neutral gray and needs a little over-exposure to prevent it from looking dark or muddy. Fog can add an ethereal or moody feel to an image.

Fog can be especially effective when it is only part of the scene and does not flood the whole image. Look for the transition where fog just enters the image or low ground fog affects only part of the scene. Think of this as a "light edge" condition, too. Winter is a wonderful time for morning ground fog. I photographed this spectacular black oak covered in snow with a hint of ground fog that added that ethereal feel.

© Dave Welling
Fir trees in winter fog in Hayden Valley, Yellowstone National Park.

Fog edges can also be used to create isolated subjects that appear floating in the image. Look for interesting subjects or landscape features that seem to grow out of the fog to create that sense of wonder in your image. I used this technique to photograph a row of snow-covered fir trees in Yellowstone National Park. The trees appear isolated in blue space, making the image much more interesting.

• • •

© Dave Welling
Clearing summer storm, Mt. Whitney in the Alabama Hills, California.

Clearing low-lying clouds can also be a source for "light edge" images. In this instance, it's more of a transition between clear, open sunlight and thick, diffusing cloud light. You need to be careful with your exposure for this condition because, again, your camera meter will try and make bright clouds darker, which can muddy your image and make it featureless. However, when you find the right subject matter and nail the exposure, you can create some wonderful images. I used this technique to photograph Mount Whitney as it rose from low-lying, but clearing, storm clouds in the Alabama Hills in California. I metered off the brightest clouds and opened up one stop, letting the rest of the image appear slightly underexposed to bring out the color in the mountain, sky and surrounding granite boulders.

• • •

© Dave Welling
Storm surf on sea stacks, Bandon Beach, Oregon.

While clearing conditions can create beautiful "light edge" conditions, you do not need to wait for storms or fog or mist to really clear. Work with the storm light, looking for openings in the cloud cover that create highlights or spot lighting on the landscape. These accentuated areas where the bright light edges bring out detail and add color can create opportunities for really striking images like this image of storm light on the sea stacks near Bandon Beach in Oregon.

• • •

© Dave Welling
Wotan’s Throne, Brahma Temple and Zoroaster Temple rock formations, Grand Canyon.

In addition to spot lighting during storms, look for "light edge" features when the storm filters the overall light coming through the thick cloud cover. This light can create magic in a landscape. Storms forming over the Grand Canyon usually clear to the south. If you are on the North Rim, as the clouds thin out to the north, they often filter the light on the land, creating soft textures and a tranquil feel. When this occurs at sunset, the light can turn the formations beautiful shades of red or gold.

• • •

© Dave Welling
Angel Falls and Auyán-tepui shrouded in mist, Canaima National Park, Venezuela.

You don't need storm light to get this soft, filtered light. It can also be created by misty conditions. In this case, look for landscape elements framed by or jutting out from the mist. Again, you are looking for the "light edge" elements to create your image. When I photographed Angel Falls in remote Canaima National Park in Venezuela, I captured many images of the majesty of the 3200-foot waterfall. But I also wanted to capture an image that spoke of the “Lost World” element of this location, the nickname applied to the area. A panoramic view of the upper falls, shrouded in mist created by the falls themselves, captured the feel I wanted.

• • •

© Dave Welling
Rime ice on Merced River, Yosemite National Park.

When you have this beautiful, soft, filtered light, look for unique elements in the landscape to feature in your composition, and use the filtered light to add color and contour. I had a situation like this in Yosemite Valley one winter when I stopped at my favorite place, Gates of the Valley, but the light was not cooperating. The heavy cloud cover made the land featureless, but I had spectacular rime ice formations on the rocks in the Merced River right in front of me. So, again, applying a little patience I waited (and froze) to see if the cloud cover might ease up. After about 30 minutes, the clouds behind me opened slightly, allowing the light to cast beautiful reddish highlights on El Capitan and the clouds to the north. I had my unique rime ice and my "light edge" color. It all came together.

• • •

© Dave Welling
Mammatus clouds and rainbow over Bryce Canyon.

Speaking of storm light, this would be a good time to mention safety. Storms can subject you and your equipment to all kinds of weather and even dangerous conditions. Don't wait for the lightning to strike your metal tripod, the wind to blow it over or the pelting horizontal rain to soak into your socks and camera. Take shelter when the conditions become adverse and, using that key element, patience, wait for better conditions. Remember, "light edge" effects usually become more pronounced as storms and weather abate. When I was photographing that magnificent storm in Bryce Canyon, the weather turned on me and I had to retreat to my car until the "tornado" and lightning abated. By waiting, I was rewarded with spectacular spot lighting on the Paunsaugunt Plateau formations with the most amazing mammatus cloud formations overhead. Had I left, I would have never seen or captured this image.

Head out and see what kinds of "light edge" magic you can find.


To see more of Dave Welling’s work, visit strikingnatureimagesbydavewelling.com.

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