5D Mark IV should you buy it?

On Thursday August 25th Canon released the 5D Mark IV with a 30 Mega Pixel count, 4K video and a shooting speed of 7 Frames per second, should you buy it?. While all these aren’t new to the camera industry there is one featured I’d like to highlight 1st.

Dual Pixel Raw

Dual-Pixel RAW gives you the ability to choose focus in post, because as you may or may not know RAW files,  keep all the information that the camera processes at the initial time of capture. With Dual-Pixel RAW, you can take an image, and even though you had one object in focus, you can change the object of focus to something else. I believe this is a feature that’s going to used by a lot of people.

Dual Pixel Raw can produce a bit of laziness on the part of photographer, because now you’re not dependent on your skill, but you’re dependent on fixing everything in post. I’m sure there’s going to be some limitations, so we have to definitely test this thoroughly in the field.

 

4K DCI

The addition of 4k to the Mark IV was to me necessary with just about all cameras today sporting 4k video capture (including the iPhone 6s). 4K videos been around for at least the last four years and Canon has finally put this into their pro-consumer cameras like the 5D series or even the 1DS. This is a feature that was out in their professional video series for awhile, but now it’s the first time they’ve introduced them to a digital SLR body.

It’s quite clear that the 5D series is definitely a flagship for Canon, because it was the first to do video — back in 2008 when the Mark II was released — and now it’s the first in its class to do 4K video. It isn’t just pro-consumer 4K, which is 3840 by 2160, but it also supports cinema 4K, which is 4096 by 2160. That’s going to be a bonus for a lot of people. Hopefully the Canon, the camera can record a higher resolution, or higher data-rate through an external recorder, and we’re not just going to be dependent on recording to the memory card.

This video below covers the video features of the 5D Mark IV

30 Megapixel of Raw data

At the time of creating this post (Monday August 29th) the latest Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop and Affinity Photo could not edit the Raw files from the 5D Mark IV. This isn’t because the 30 Mega pixels size but because the camera is so new these companies need to update their software. However I will do a follow up on this and post the RAW image editing abilities. (see video below for the error)

The video below covers details on the still features of the 5D Mark IV watch it to get even more in depth information on this flagship camera.

The Verdict

Should you buy the Mark IV? The Short answer: if you are even consider it and can afford it yes. However if you have just started in photography and are looking for more resolution and a better camera there are countless others at lower prices that will do just fine. The 5D Mark III is a good camera to buy if you want to keep your budget under $3000, Fuji Xt2 is another great camera, also the 7D Mark II is great if you want speed but not a full frame sensor. However if you want something to replace your aging 5D Mark II, and you want 4k video and can afford the $3809 (with tax) price tag by all means pre-order the 5D Mark IV because on paper it’s worth it.

What Should I Charge for a Wedding

Wedding pricing factors

Ever so often I’m asked: what should I charge for a wedding? It’s a question many photographers ask — experienced or not — Believe me I get it, I remember when I was asking the same question. knowing what to charge can be a difficult question. As you think about your work and time that will go into a said project. you wonder if what your charging is really what your worth. A few factors need to be considered before pricing your wedding packages.

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Your Time (production and post)

– How many hours of shooting are you doing?
– How many hours of editing?
– Are there are special techniques that you bring to the table?
– Does each project help cover your expenses (monthly or weekly)?
– If you booked only one project for the month would the income last?

Equipment

– Are you renting equipment is that included in your price?
– Just made a major purchase can your pricing cover that expense?
– What quality are you looking & does your pricing match that?

Value

– Is your style easily replicated?
– What makes your work different from others?
– What are you providing the client?
– Does what you provide add value to them?

Finding the right balance

If you charge $250 for a 1 hour photoshoot that includes prints,
what should a wedding cost that takes up a full day and a few weeks of editing cost?

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In 2016 Average price is for a wedding is $2500 but this depends on where you live. For example in California the average cost is – $3931 and in Salt lake City Utah it’s – $2215. These are of course average prices and can serve as a guide the real pricing is determined by you and the value you bring to the table.

Comparing Wedding Photography Prices
Courtesy of: SnapKnot

As far as my business pricing goes I use an hourly rate as my base so I know that no project should be below that price. My hourly rate is $80hr and my photo sessions start at $375 this includes editing. My wedding packages start at $2999 and include a Signature Album, prints and an online gallery. Overall I look at what I offer my clients — years of dedication, expertise, quality, story telling, a creative eye — and I price my services accordingly. It’s always good to evaluate your work you can even ask your clients, they’ll give you insights to things you wouldn’t normally see.

Bride-Groom PhotographerAs you evaluate you will begin to see where you can improve, this should also give you an idea of the quality of work you deliver and help you come up with your pricing. If you know you struggle with shot ideas then work on concepts in between projects. The fact that you are improving adds value to your work and drives up your cost. Your ultimately in charge of your pricing, since only you know your process and the story behind how you got to where you are today. So don’t be afraid to charge, because those who don’t know your worth will go away and those who do will stay.

Mirrorless Cameras Why Should You Care?

Mirrorless cameras have been around for a long time. In the 1800’s one of the 1st ever photograph was taken by Joseph Draper. Draper took a portrait of his sister with one of the first ever portable cameras made by a company called Niépce. Was this the first mirrorless camera?

Photo Courtesy by Wikimedia

Fast forward centuries later and we have the SLR. Single Lens Reflex cameras often use a mirror and prism system that allows the photographer to view through the lens and see exactly what will be captured, contrary to rangefinder cameras where the image could be very different from what will be captured. We then moved to Digital SLRs or DSLRs which incorporated a slightly sophisticated computerized system. Rather than exposing light to film the light is expose to a sensor and the image is processed to a memory card.

The Mirrorless System

The 1st alleged digital mirrorless camera was introduced by Epson in 2009 it was known as the Epson R-D1. Since then several other cameras have been released, all with different mounts and sensor sizes. Below is a list I’ve complied for easy access.

Sony-A7R-II

The Sony A7 R II is not a DSLR and many know this but the features it has to offer make it quite attractive. Announced  on June 10th 2015 the updated version to the Sony A7 R  the A7 R II has a lot to offer such as:

  • 42Mega Pixels  / Full-Frame CMOS Sensor
  • BIONZ X Image Processor
  • 5-Axis SteadyShot INSIDE Stabilization
  • 399 Phase-Detect AF Points & 5 fps Burst
  • Internal 4K video recording
  • Weather-Resistant Magnesium Alloy Body
  • Built-In Wi-Fi Connectivity with NFC
  • 22 Fames per second (5 at 42megapixels)

if the 42 Mega pixel count wasn’t enough the A7 R II has image stabilization built into the body of the camera. Also it’s low light capability is extraordinary (though not as good as the A7 R) the Iso ranges from 100-25600 and is expandable to 102,400. These feature and more make this $3200 camera a great contender in the mirrorless camera world.

xpro1diag

The Newly released  (February 18th) Fuji X-Pro2 provides a lot bang for your buck. Some of the Fuji features include:

  • 24Mega Pixels
  • Acros black and white film simulation (filters)
  • 273 autofocus points (169 of which are phase-detect)
  • 8 Fames per Second

The Fuji size and retro look makes it great for those who like the Leica Rangefinders. The built in filters are an added bonus for those who would like to add effects in production vs. in post overall Fuji makes a great camera at $1999.

Panasonic GH4

The Panasonic GH4 (released May 2014) is my personal favorite. As of today this camera it’s still used and talked about among film professionals. The main advantage for me is it’s 4k video quality and flexibility. Panasonic has always been good when it comes to color adjustments and providing options for the film maker. Of course its 16 mega pixel photo capabilities are quite useful, below are a few of the images captured with my own Gh4.

Natural Light vintage lens manual focus.

Gh4 North River Church
Natural Light vintage lens manual focus no adjustments.

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Gh4 North River Church
Same location no adjustments only available light.

TheHorse

The Gh4 the Horse watch
Shot in raw no correction at all just converted to jpeg

Summary

Pros

  • Lighter
  • Cost (most models)
  • Interchangeable mounts
  • Video auto focus
  • Smaller
  • Speed (frames per sec)

 

Cons

  • Electronic Viewfinder low light issues
  • Smaller sensors (MFT)
  • Battery life (can be fixed)

Final Verdict

Mirrorless cameras appear to be the future — I say appears because we have no clue what camera technology is next. Though I’m still getting use the the electronic view finder, the weight and size are very welcoming. The absence of a mirror creates flexibility for any lens system (Canon, Nikon, Leica, Zeiss). Many believe that mirrorless cameras aren’t ready to replace DSLRs. I’d challenge that thinking by saying they are ready. Any camera can get a project done however some will require more work than others. Take for example the Watchtower of Turkey a video montage shot over 20 days. It was shot on the Panasonic Gh3 (the model before the Gh4), and a Gopro, yet there isn’t anything quite like this video:

Watchtower of Turkey from Leonardo Dalessandri on Vimeo.

In the market for a new camera? Pick up a mirrorless camera, they are quite liberating.

How to Launch an Online Photography Portfolio

You’ve taken a few photos and your now ready to start your photography portfolio. Where is the 1st place you should go? How much would it cost you? These are key questions but there are a few steps to take before making a choice. A portfolio is a must as a photographer, after all it’s a very effective way to share you work. You will also have the opportunity to review your work from time to time and discover ways you can improve.

Prepping your Portfolio

Before you can actually launch your port go ahead and choose your best images, you may want a friend to help you with this part as many artists tend to be critical of their work. When you have chosen approximately ten images, making sure that they are all high resolution (same size as they were shot or at least 2048 x 1500) and about the same width and height. The reason you want your images to be the same height and width is for consistency. As far as wanting them high resolution that should be obvious (more pixels better details usually). In the end where ever your images end up you want them to each have the same affect, to draw the attention of the viewer into each story as they go from image to image.

Choosing a host

Now that you have all your images we need to choose a site where your images can be easily accessed. There are a number of places, so I will do my best to go over each along with their pros and cons.

500px

www.500px.com (free or paid)

500px online photography portfolio
The Premier Photography Community

Pros

  • Free
  • Fast
  • Community of photographers
  • Market (sell images)
  • Download originals (no compression)
  • Share & embed tools

I use 500px just about every time I capture an image that’s worthy of my portfolio. The interface is simple, works well, and the community is great. Although there are some great aspects of the site, most features are unavailable until you pay for upgrade, pricing starts at $25 per month and goes all the way up to $165 go here for more details.

Cons

  • Free account only offers 20 photos per week
  • Selling requires high visibility can be hard for new photographers

Zenfolio

www.zenfolio.com (paid service)

Zenfolio online photography portfolio
Professional photo and video hosting for photographers.

Zenfolio has been my portfolio company of choice for over 10 years. I have been with them since 2006 mainly because of their features and the fact that the site is solid. To name a few of the features that I enjoy

Pros

  • Password protected galleries
  • Print ordering directly from galleries
  • Templates for site & galleries
  • Storage (unlimited)
  • SEO & blog options

All these features however come at a premium. Zenfolio’s pricing starts at $60 annually  (a lot cheaper than 500px) however the base package doesn’t include all the above mentioned features, for full pricing and features go here.

Cons

  • Site Templates are a bit outdated
  • Customer shopping experience a bit complicated
  • Pricing can be high for some
  • No phone support only through an online form

Twenty20

www.twenty20.com (free service)

Twenty20 online photography portfolio
Twenty20 is a community to showcase, discover, and buy the best in mobile photography & art.

Probably one of my most used sites in 2016 is Twenty20. Twenty20 is a California based company that doesn’t just showcase your work, they actually help you to sell. Keep in mind if you want to upload your portfolio pictures to this site,  it will probably end up being sold . Their purpose is to help you sell your work so you can earn income. The system works fast, they give your work exposure they’ll actually collect your pictures and put them into categories so that buyers can actually find them it’s really nice.

The last two are Flickr and Google Photos, they’re both great, they’re both fast,  and they’re both available on IOS apps and Google Play. They give you tons of space Flickr gives one terabyte, Google is unlimited. If you want to be able to start showcasing your work, take advantage of these two as much as possible.

Tangible Textures

Today sharing your photography portfolio is just a vital as in the days of the printed portfolios, in fact I still recommend that each photographer have a tangible portfolio, after all there are clients out there who are more tactile and enjoy the texture and materials of printed photos. A physical portfolio is also a good conversational piece when your socializing and don’t need the distraction of technology. Start your portfolio today it’s something you won’t ever regret. Years from now you will be able chart the progress of your work, countless lives will be touched and you will have established a series of images that create a legacy for your work.

Composition for life photography

When you pick up a camera each image you capture is a story. The key in knowing how to capture those stories begins with lighting & composition. Composition is one of the first steps to better photography. It is understanding how to properly arrange the subject(s) in the frame, so the viewers can clearly understand what it is your trying to convey. It is one of the most essential parts of photography.

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."
— Thomas A. Edison
Composition-Hardwork

Composition a Process

When you look through a view finder on a camera your presented with your scene. Yet when you get to the editing process the image looks completely different, in most cases it doesn’t live up to what you saw in your head why is that? Well one of the first steps to creating your shots is to have a plan. If your shooting in a broken worn out building, realize that to capture the full scene you need to either step back or use a wide lens.

Composition from-aboveComposition comes before the actual photo is framed in your viewfinder. Composition starts in your head and is then transferred to the view finder, then your editing room and eventually to your audience. When taking portraits, placing the subject center frame might not be your best option, as this looks flat and more traditional  (depending on who you ask).

Composition Shaw-Distant

Placing your subject slightly off center creates more style and makes the image more picturesque. Of course if you want him/her to own the scene and be separated from all others center frame can work.

Composition Bride-Groom-Centered

The principle of composition exists in various art forms: from sculpting, to song writing and even public speaking,  It is vital, it creates the art before it’s physically manifested. As far as photography, where you stand, how you hold the camera, what angle you choose and the type of lens you use, are all factors of creating or composing your shots. 

Below are a few examples of (visual) composers  I follow on 500px. Study their work and see what you can discover about composition:

Portraits by Sam

Dina Belenko

Thierry Boitelle

Learning to Lead as a Second Shooter

For the past 10 years of shooting weddings I’ve been the lead photographer with Andre as the second shooter. Being the main photography at an event is a great responsibility. Most of the time, you find yourself setting up the bridal party and on call for the bride or groom whenever they need a photo. It’s a position where you spend a lot of time directing both the Second shooter & wedding guests. However a few years ago I shot 2 weddings as the second shooter and it was an experience that showed me how important it is to follow.

Shooting with Shakai Coumarbatch

The first wedding I helped a photographer by the name of Shakai who was actually someone I had never worked with before, yet I was determined to listen and get the shots he wanted. See I knew from my own weddings how vital it is to communicate and make sure the other person is capturing the parts of the wedding you aren’t. As a result I spent most of my day capturing the groom & groomsmen  and Shakai spent his time capturing the bride and the bridesmaids.

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To Lead, First You Must Follow.

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Shooting with Semeka

My Photographer friend Michael Olisemeka over at Semeka Pro asked if I could assist him with an upcoming wedding, I agreed after I considered how well we work together. What I discovered from this experience was how to follow and learn  new things about photography even after many years of experience.

back-tobackcouple

The interesting thing about being the second shooter is the fact that your free to roam and be a bit more expressive with your work. The focus of the second shooter is to pick up where the main photographer leaves off. The freedom to just walk around and create shots is something most photographers don’t have time for at weddings. This is simply because their attention is on the actual bridal party & family. I truly enjoy the freedom I had to grab more of the fine details at the wedding.

family
Taking Risks at the Reception
This shot was taken with the Canon 85mm 1.2 II at F2.0 and ISO 2500 using only available light
This shot above is was one of the sharpest, cleanest, captures of the day and it was captured during the reception. Normally I would insist on using flash at any reception but I pushed the 85mm to give me the results I wanted and it did very well.

couple-friend

Overall I’d would say that being the second shooter at a wedding made me a better listener. I had to ask Michael at different moments what he wanted, which gave me the opportunity to appreciate a different perspective & style other than my own. It also allowed me to capture more of the moments I would have missed as well as to approach the photo session as a candid shooter vs. the traditional style.

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Semeka with Bride & Groom
Mike O with the bride and groom at the reception.

The act of helping someone else takes time and patience. It helps you understand some of the areas where communication can be very ambiguous, such as when describing the type of shot you want. Instead of only verbalizing it you should show it, you can either use your own camera or display a shot from another photographers work (such as on pintrest or 500px). The key to growing is to recognize your not done developing, as an artist or even as a person. With that mindset you allow yourself to see things with a different set of eyes. That happened to me during those two opportunities where I became the second shooter.

5 Photography Steps to Take After a Live Event

As I spent sometime tonight emptying my camera bag a Think Tank Shape Shifter I felt compelled to write this post. It’s always a great feeling when you get a phone call or when an email comes in from a potential client. Just about every photography jumps at the opportunity for new work. The day after the wedding or live event very few are interested in reviewing the photos, let alone checking their gear for damage or for missing items.

The Next Day

It’s critical to do a few things just after you’ve taken pictures because just as important as capturing the day, is preserving what was captured. After an event you should take these 5 steps:

  1. Check your bag to make sure all your gear is there & isn’t damaged
  2. Empty & backup your memory cards
  3. Sort through your pictures (good, bad, in-between)
  4. Clean your gear & Charge batteries (being prepared for another gig that might arrive)
  5. Go over the event and see how you could improve

I’ll go over a few of the items on the list so you can have a better idea why these are so important. Number 1 Inventory, is something most people cringe at and that’s because the process is far from fun. Inventory for me isn’t simply checking what items I have or making sure everything is working it’s so much more.

Inventory is a time to clean and care for your equipment to help preserve it and inspect it.

CLICK TO TWEET

men-huddle

You’d think after spending thousands on equipment you couldn’t possibly leave any of it behind but something small yet crucial as a battery charger can be lost inside a dark reception hall, so it’s always good to check. While looking over my equipment I take this time to clean my equipment. Number 2 Backing up your pictures is as important as taking them. There are times when card readers have issues & memory cards get corrupt. No should have to experience those failures and then consider starting a backup plan because by then it’s too late.

Here are a list of places you can backup for free (some support raw files others don’t)

gallery

After a live event, is usually my best to work on photos. The moment is still fresh in my mind and I more motivated to get them done. However I also notice that when I leave a project alone for a while and return to it I get new ideas for editing, so it then comes down to getting it done vs. being more creative. The day after your shoot should be a day of preparation, that day helps prepare for you next job. Preparation doesn’t  mean your out looking for work but that you get yourself ready for when the opportunity arrives.