It’s an understatement to suggest the Ricoh GR IVs are not exactly flying off the store shelves. Announced last month, the GR Digital IV seems a bit over-priced considering the feature set.
The GR Digital IV starts off with an anemic 10-megapixel, 1/1.7-inch CCD chip behind a 28mm F/1.9 GR lens. Not only a small chip with weak resolution but a dog in low-light as well. Video is limited to VGA.
Some of the redeeming features include the GR Engine IV image processor, the 190-point AF system that includes an external AF sensor, and image sensor shift image stabilization. Ricoh claims the hybrid AF system can focus in as little as 0.2 seconds.
The GDR Digital IV has a built-in electronic level, a feature usually only found in more expensive cameras and a handy addition for a point and shoot.
On the back the GR IV sports Sony’s WhiteMagic LCD screen which delivers greater luminance while drawing less power.
On the software side the GR Digital IV has some interesting tricks that include in-camera dynamic range compensation and it’s one of the few digital cameras to offer multiple exposures, which is accomplishes by layering up to five images together inside the camera. There is also a new Interval Composite mode for taking long, night-time exposures
While the features are interesting and the build quality is impressive, the bottom line is you’re still paying over $740 for a 10-megapixel camera. I’m not entirely certain what Ricoh was thinking here, but the GR Digital IV does not compare well to other cameras in the same price range.
I don’t think availability for this camera is going to be any problem at all this holiday season.
Fujifilm has fielded the Fujifilm X-S1 superzoom, what some are calling a “bridge” camera that falls in between point-and-shoot and full size DSLRs.
While the Fujifilm X-S1 is a fixed-lens camera, it sports an impressive 26x zoom range with a lens that has a 35mm equivalent of 24mm to an impressive 624mm. With a range like that how often would you really miss having interchangeable lenses? On top of that Fujifilm has layered Intelligent Digital Zoom which takes the telephoto end out to an eye-popping 1248mm (35mm equivalent).
If the long range doesn’t lure you in, you can get in as close as 1cm by selecting Super Macro Mode for monster close up images.
Inside the X-S1 packs a 2/3 in 12-megapixel EXR CMOS sensor, the same one in the X10, which yields much better low light performance. The EXR CMOS technology allows the user to switch between automatic modes such as High Resolution, Wide Dynamic Range, and High Sensitivity with the flick of a button and Fujifilm claims a shutter lag of just 0.01 sec in high speed continuous shooting mode.
For video the X-S1 offers full 1920×1080 video, with stereo sound, at 30 fps.
On the back the X-S1 has a tiltable 3 inch LCD screen with a special daylight mode to make it easier to see during the day, a feature I wish Canon would emulate.
The Fujifilm X-S1 offers an impressive array of automatic shooting modes along with a full range of manual controls.
Priced at just under $1,200, the Fujifilm X-S1 is an ambitious offering, giving consumers the option of paying a little more for full DSLR functionality without the DSLR weight and need to carry separate lens.
It’s for sure, with the zoom capability, that parents on the sidelines of their kid’s soccer game will find this camera can put them right in the action all the way from the bleachers. It should also appeal to weekend nature photographers and bird watchers.
User reviews of the Pentax Q are starting to filter in after being officially launched back in June. Pentax advertises the Q as the smallest interchangeable lens digital camera on the market.
They definitely got the small part right, the camera easily fits in the palm of your hand. Despite its size, it’s packed with features usually found in much larger cameras.
The 3 inch LCD screen takes up almost the entire back of the camera and the Q has a hot shoe attachment that will accept one of the Pentax external flash units, which are, somewhat ironically, bigger than the camera itself, and can also be used to fit an add-on optical viewer.
Inside the Q packs a 12-megapixel BSI-CMOS 1/2.3 inch sensor behind the Pentax Q-mount interchangeable lens mount. The camera comes with a 47mm f/1.9 prime lens, but several other lenses are available.
Surrounding the electronics is a magnesium alloy shell that gives the little camera better protection than you’d normally expect in small frame cameras.
The software provides the usual mirrorless camera tricks like 5 frame per second continuous shooting and an in-camera HDR option that automatically blends bracketed exposures.
On video it sports full 1080 HD video at 30 fps in H.264 format.
My only niggles are the senor size and price point. For less money you can get a Sony NEX-5 with a full APS-C chip. For perspective, the 1/2.3 chip in a Pentax Q is less than a 10th of the size. When it comes to sensors, size does matter and bigger is better.
All in all, when size is important, the Pentax Q definitely fits the bill.
Take a look at how the Pentax Q stands up against its competitors.
Fujifilm fielded a budget camera with an impressive set of features in the FinePix AV200. Released back in January, the compact pocket camera hit the market at a sub-$80 price point.
The FinePix AV200 may be small but it sports a 14-megapixel 1/2.3 in CCD sensor behind a 3x optical zoom Fujinon f/2.9 lens. Although the camera does have autofocus, including multi, area and tracking AF, there is some confusion in the published specs on whether it has any kind of image stabilization. Some sources say it has digital image stabilization, some say it has none, some say yes and no on the same page. Okay, you have to sacrifice somewhere for the price point, even without image stabilization it’s still a pretty good deal.
The CCD chip type also means the camera performs relatively poorly in low light with an ISO rating of 100 to 3200 and not even that at all resolutions. You also don’t get much in the way of continuous shooting speeds, with the camera topping out at a stately 1.2 fps pace.
You will get video, however. 720 at 30 fps, but that it has video capability at all is pretty amazing.
On the back it has a 2.7 in TFT LCD screen and accepts either SD or SDHC storage cards.
The internal software provides some nifty features like Motion Panorama Mode, Scene Recognition, and Face Detection with Red Eye Removal. It also has the ability to search for a particular face on the pictures in your camera.
When you consider you’re getting a 14-megapixel camera for $80 that fits in your pocket, runs on AA batteries and weighs in at a thrifty 196 grams, the FinePix AV200 is a great camera to toss in the tackle box or glove compartment of your car. It’s definitely a step up from most cell phone cameras and offers a lot of features for the price.
Wedding photography is often the first paying job for many interested in a career in photography and the bread and butter for most professional photographers. It’s also the one facet of photography that you’re most likely to fall into by happenstance.
Many times a career in photography has started with a friend or relative getting married but are too poor to afford a photographer. If you’re interested in pursuing a career as a professional photographer, that’s probably where your journey will begin as well: As the unpaid photographer for someone you know getting married on a tight budget. That will be in spite of many good reasons not to take that job.
If you’re still determined to pursue this career option, here are my tips for getting started in the business.
Expect Fierce Competition
While you may be able to luck your way into a decent portfolio, luck will not keep you in the business. Wedding photography is a brutally competitive field, more so now than in times past. As full-time employment becomes harder to find, more people are looking for ways to start their own business and, for anyone with a decent camera and good eye for taking pictures, one of those ideas will inevitably be wedding photography.
Complaining about people new to the business is a part-time occupation for professional photographers, but what I’m hearing lately from my associates in the business is a level up from the normal background griping. Many are having a tough time making ends meet right now, bookings are down across the board. Competition is one of the the greatest challenges you’ll face getting started in the business.
Learn About Running a Business
On top of being able to sell yourself and compete, you have to understand cash flow, advertising, billing, collections, taxes, insurance, licensing, liability, and incorporation; the basics of running any business.
Take general business classes at night and see if your state or county has any programs to help new businesses get started. This will be a lot easier to do if you still have your day job.
Learning about contracting is absolutely crucial. That can be the difference between making it and getting sued for everything you’re worth. You don’t have to become a legal expert, but you have to know and implement the basics.
You can also think about investing in some books specific to wedding photography, like this one by Dane Sanders.
Organizations like Professional Photographers of America (PPA) can help with training and connections but the most valuable aspect to joining is the insurance coverage. Memberships now come with $15,000 in equipment coverage and E&O insurance. They also offer group discount rates on liability insurance.
Good insurance can save you when things go wrong. When you’re holding the broken components of your Nikon D300 with a wedding to shoot that weekend, you’ll know exactly what I mean.
Many of those trends that more brides want require a substantial investment in equipment or partner companies to supply that gear. That means rental equipment, contracts, and extra time and effort moving gear around. Does your liability and theft insurance cover rented equipment? Better know the answer to that before you pick it up.
You can’t just learn about the industry, you have to live and breathe it and that includes the technical aspects of the business, the expectations of your customers, and any value added service you can provide to give yourself a leg up on the competition.
Avoid Debt Like a Plague
Being in photography requires a continuous balancing act between cash flow, eating, and investing in equipment. The biggest mistake I see people new to the business make is going into debt to get started. All it takes is one mistake, one bad month where you miss that payment, and you’re out of business.
In wedding photography, cash flow is going to be a big deal. You’ll be slammed for four months out of the year, sometimes double-booked on some weekends, covering morning and afternoon ceremonies. It’s critical to get in the habit of putting away a cash stash to last through the fall and winter when there will be fewer bookings. Learn this skill or die your first year.
Some photographers slip into the habit of borrowing money during the slow season and pay it back over the spring and summer. Don’t do that. One bad year, one accident where you can’t work, and your business and financial future are dead.