Monday, September 30, 2013

FAVORITE Smartphone Accessories when on a Travel Shoot

FAVORITE Smartphone  Accessories when on a Travel Shoot
These are my Favorite Smartphone Accessories when I am Traveling for a Shoot.
Note how everything is small and basically Flat.
I can carry this with me all the time in my belt bag.
All of these are on Amazon FREE Shipping (Prime)

Syba USB 2.0 Type A Female to Micro USB 2.0 Male Adapter Cable (CL-CAB20125)  us$5.99 Amazon
This little  $5.99 cable that can fit into your belt bag easily will allow you to Plug IN your regular Multi Card Reader to your Smartphone, and Copy , Move images from your shoots (SD,CF cards) to your Smartphone. Then from there Backup to Cloud, backup on your Smartphone (I have a 32gb Micro SD in my smartphone) or post on FB or Instagram.
Using this cable and my SanDisk USB3 Multi Card Reader on Android when I plugged in my 64gb SanDisk Extreme PRO SD card the Smartphone Automatically Pop-ed up  File Manager and Read the Card.  All I had to do was mark that Folder or Files I wanted to COPY  and  Where.  Very Easy.
A mix of 355mb RAW RX1 files and JPGS   took aprox. 1:10 min/sec  to Upload to my Galaxy S Smartphone.  And 21 sec to Download to my computer to a Spinning 7,200 rpm Hard Drive via a  usb2 port.
Have a feeling any PRO toting a 15” Laptop on a shoot can see the Benefit of this. :)

SanDisk ImageMate Multi Card USB 3.0  Reader   … this is link for  Amazon us$32.00  (but I bought mine from B&H)

Next Favorite carry around everywhere Smartphone Accessory is the EC Technology High Capacity 2600 mAh Backup External Battery Pack and Charger Power Bank “with”  Flashlight  , Cherry Color
Cherry so I can find it in my black bag at night.  It comes with a number of “tips”  so you can use it with a number of gadgets , and more importantly Charge your Smartphone.  The power always goes down on your Smartphone when you need it most. :)
The Flash Light is SUPER handy.  Not only to find your way on a dark location or inside your bag at night , but to light something at night so you can AF on it. Or you could use it as a backlight for a Smartphone Food pic with a bit of diffusion. (wish it had a dimmer).
About the size of a very large lipstick case or roll of nickels,  is easy to carry and use. Well worth the us$15.00

What I think is the BEST  Smartphone  Tripod mount.  Joby JM1-01WW GripTight Mount Black Amazon us$16.00.
Why because it FOLDS “FLAT” !     That’s it.   It folds small and Flat. (look at the pic)  So, I can have it with me in my belt bag all the time.    It also has  a  hole so you attach it to your Key Ring.

I might clip it to my MeFoto GlobeTrotter Tripod/Monopod  which is also great on Trips.
Like the Aluminum because I don’t like super light Tripods.  And I do not want to have to worry about someone stealing it wherever I go.  Because sometimes I leave it on location.  Do not underestimate the usefulness of having a Monopod built in.  and the Head is deceptively good.   Amazon us$ 209.00

IF you have any other   MUST HAVE   on Travel Shoots  …  let me know  … I will add it on.  Or  will see on the Comments section below.

3/5/14 :  Here is an interesting iPhone 5 and 5s   ACC  that is both a Stand and Protection :

Hope this helps,

Ross Hamamura
Tourist of Light
SONY ALPHA camera Ambassador

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 16-35mm f2.8 ZA SSM

f4, iso1000  16-35mm f2.8 ZA SSM , a99
More pics from this event here. the wides shot with the  a99 +16-35mm  and RX1 :

Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 16-35mm f2.8 ZA SSM
9/10/13 First thoughts:  just received from SONY a demo of the 16-35mm f2.8 ZA SSM
and I wanted to create a Blog page of the info I collected and  a place to put my thoughts as I shot with it.

I first noticed it was smaller and lighter than I expected. (being only 2mm off the Nikon 14-24mm f2.8)  And it is GREAT that it uses a 77mm filter!
So, all my 77mm filters work with it.  And I would guess any PRO would have a bunch of these.
You have no idea how that little feature makes me smile.

The 16-35 f2.8 ZA SSM hood feels solid and metal.  though so shallow I am not sure how much help it will be.
It "then" made me notice how Plastic-y  the new 50mm f1.4 ZA SSM  hood feels.  Strange, because the 135mm f1.8 and this 16-35mm f2.8 hoods feel so solid. It help give it a premium product feel. 

I am writing about this because this 16-35 f2.8 ZA SSM  has a Plastic-y  Middle section and a Solid metal Hood.  The 50mm f1.4 ZA SSM has a ALL metal solid feel , but the hood is Plastic-y.
* What I wish is ALL the new Sony Zeiss lens to be ALL Metal lens and the Metal Hood.  Make it consistent on ALL the New  Zeiss SSM's in the future.  So, it is not a question when SONY says new Zeiss PRO lens how the construction will be.  And box it, pouch it ... like a premium product.

Another "consistent thing" which would be nice.  Is Consistent Sharpness results on PRO Zoom Lens. (or primes)
What I am talking about is pretty much the same Sharpness performance regardless of the  Focal Length  between f4 thru f11  = 1 Blur UNIT ... and below 2 blur units at f2.8 and faster.

And IF a Prime PRO lens  closer to 1 blur unit wide open.

Let me try to explain this as best I can.
Look at  Nikons  PRO Holy Trinity 14-24, 24-70, 70-200)  Sharpness graph  on
For me, this is a good example  the Nikon 70-200 f2.8 VRII:
Looking at the Full Frame Sharpness graph.  And try viewing it "this way".

* Set the Aperture to f2.8,  and then slide the  Focal Length "back and forth" between  70mm  and 200mm.   Watch how "Flat" the plain of sharpness "floats"  BELOW  2 blur units  at f2.8.

* Now move the Aperture to f4 , and then slide the  Focal Length "back and forth" between  70mm  and 200mm.   Watch how "Flat" the plain of sharpness "floats"  at only 1 blur unit  at f4.

* and How it pretty much stays that way till f16.
But, to be honest  what really counts on a PRO f2.8 lens imho is the f2.8 and f4  performance.

and on a LONG Zoom lens at the LONG End optimized - wide open. 
a WIDE Zoom lens at the Wide End optimized - wide open.

16-35 f2.8 ZA SSM  Specifications
Optical construction: 17 elements in 13 groups inc. 2x ED and 3x aspherical elements
Number of aperture blades: 9 (circular)
min. focus distance: 0.28 m (max. magnification ratio 1:4.2)
Dimensions: 83 x 114 mm
Weight: 900 g
Filter size: 77 mm (non-rotating)
Hood: petal-shaped, snap-on, supplied4
Other features: ultrasonic AF, DMF

Ross Hamamura

The Tourist of Light
SONY Alpha Camera Ambassador
Follow me on Instagram:  @RDHphoto

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Beginners Guides to SONY DSLR shooting

Today I was at a SONY Event.

Some wanted a LINK to some Basic DSLR information.
So, what I am trying to do here is consolidate some info and LINKS very quickly to start.


Rev. 4/23/14
Sony ALPHA TIP # 149:

SONY Alpha Learning Portal, Packed with information :

On the Portal Shooting Techniques :
On this Tutorial you need to click on each of the Numbered TIPS
Click each number to see the TIP,  and click again to get out and click on the next number

Rev.  2/8/14
Sony ALPHA TIP # 84: NEW Organization on the SONY USA Support site:
There is also a SEARCH that you can get SPECIFIC INFORMATION (and Manual) of your Camera Model.

Beginners Guides to Digital SLR Photography by Mark David
Easy-to-read primers
Teaching people individually has shown me the areas beginners struggle with. These primers explain them.

Easy to read explanations ... Highly Recommended reading :)

And some TIPS & Techniques and more here:

This is a nice video tutorial that is easy to understand.
Here is a  SONY Asia LINK:

SONY Tutorials

Olympus tutorial site with some very good General Info:

Canon's  site EU:

Sony Features LINK , and Why SONY:

Focal Length, Angle of View, and Perspective
This Page actually has some informative "Interactive"  examples.

And it is nice how they added how Telephoto Lens is not just for Magnification. But, can usefully used for Telephoto Compression (with a nice example).

GREAT e-Books  that you can Download that is SONY camera specific (but not Free)

There is more General Links below , at the end of the blog.
All of these are links contributed by other very helpful photographers.
Have not looked at them all myself.  Right now I am just trying to get them all up on this page.
Once I look thru them I will try to put them in some kind of order :)

*   First I would like to say  ... SONY's Superior AUTO mode seems like the best solution to me.  Even though admittedly I have never actually used it. :)

*  After that I would say  ...  A , Aperture Priority  ... in Auto ISO , iso limit at  iso6400  if you are not going to do a big Print with it , which I doubt. (my guess is 4x6)   Anything that will be sized down to a Facebook page imho can be shot with a SONY  RX100 and Up ..  with the iso6400 limit on Auto ISO.  in general.  Remember , talking Face Book  800px on the wide end , and 4x6 inch prints.

As feedback comes in , I  reserve the right to change this Blog. LOL
I will also update this page with more  Beginners LINKs  as  more are contributed to me by other photogs.

This is my at home play around suggestion that I narrowed down to from being out at that event.

When you are ready to move up from  SONY's Superior AUTO.

* Learn how to shoot A mode ( Aperture Priority ) + Exposure Compensation (off a dial) + Auto ISO , with a iso6400 limit  ... particularly during the day, that should be the go to.

SONY Metering Mode= Multi (matrix) ... this is my go to mode because it meters the whole image.  Basically ending up being the Background on the wide end of the Zoom.  also makes it easier to balance the Forward subject with a flash in TTL, but that's another story. :)
Once you use Multi (matrix) enough , you can meter anything with it ... even more so in Live View. For Live View Exposure I only use Multi , imho all you really need on a modern computer like Live View camera.
The more you PLAY with it in "Live View", the more you will understand what it is doing.

1)  Configure  the Camera to A mode , and configure a exterior dial for quick access to Exposure Compensation.  preferably close to your thumb.  RX1 has a Perfect position, and a heavenly smooth click action on the comp stops.  fyi   I am just saying. :)

Like setting up the SONY camera to DMF (if your camera and lens supports it) ... and Focus Peaking in LOW . and RED.  MF Assist = ON  (so it "Zooms In"  when you move the Manual Focus Ring after a AF)

2)  Once it is set up ...  try this at Home.   Use Live View  off the LCD.   Start with wide open f2, f2.8, f4  whatever is your lowest Aperture Number for your lens.  If on a zoom , go to the widest Focal Length on the Lens (zoom out - W) - At that Focal length it will probably be where you can set the Fastest A  f - stop.

This little exercise "might" help you SEE  what the Aperture changes do:

*  have a LINE of  WORDS on poster  ... on a table  ...
* Move your AF  point to the  far Right , maybe on the 1/3 line.  
* Take a 45 degree angle shot to the poster ...   your Far Right AF point being closest to the closest word on the Poster.    Hmmm,  wonder if that is being clear?  Yuk, I am so bad at this  LOL
For those that saw me do this, you know  :)
* Looking at the Live View in the LCD ...  now  change your  A (Aperture)  Slowly one Click at a time ... while looking at how more and more letters start  becoming CLEAR
Each camera is different how it changes A (Aperture).
* As you go from  f2  thru  f22  more and more becomes Clear on the Line of Words ... basically Near to Far.

That is Setting the Aperture.  on a RX1  Optimal is f4 "as a starting point" for general use.  Optimal and CHOICE is different.  fyi: in AUTO the RX1  tries to do f4 and 1/80 and floats the ISO to comp.
But, honestly I do not care what Auto does, just wish RX1 had a Auto ISO , Shutter Speed Minimum you could SET. (ala Nikon and Canon)

3)  Once you got your favorite  Starting Point  A (Aperture)  set.   Now we move to deciding the exposure. How Bright or Dark you expose the image. note: it is a creative CHOICE.  there is no real right or wrong. only what you LIKE.
But, here is a starting point to practice.
Have a PERSON be your subject.  Point AF on there Face  with a half press (let go of the shutter for now) ... then,  USE the EXPOSURE COMPENSATION dial   to  Move it  UP or DOWN from Zero (0)  and make the FACE  look natural in the LCD , to your taste.

PLAY with it  ..  SEE that changes in the LCD  ...  SEE how that effects the exposure (Light and Dark) in the Background.

* Expose for the Skin of your subject  ...  so , at this point you have ... SET the A (Aperture) and SET the Exposure via the  Exposure Compensation Dial.

At this point you could just  , Half press , lock your AF and Shutter ... Done.

But,  here is a feature I love about SONYs  Focus Peaking  and Zoom Manual Focus with a DMF setting and DMF lens.

4)  With the Focus , DMF  settings above.    You can now  Half Press the shutter and AF on a Face.
IF you have a a99  Focus peaking will show up as RED along the edges of there Eyes and Hair (depending on your f stop).
IF you have a RX1  , when you move the Focus Ring ... it will Automatically ZOOM in and you will SEE Focus Peaking RED  somewhere (hopefully) ...  Now, what you do is move the Manual Focus Ring to Focus on the eyes,  the RED will show up on the  contrast areas between the whites of the eyes and the lids.
(depending on f stop and peaking strength settings)

The GREAT thing about this practice is it also teaches you where the CONTRAST in a subject is. and indirectly teach you  WHERE  you can put your  PDAF  AF focus point to get a FAST  AF in Low light.

You can also use this to AF on a GOOD Contrast area, for FAST AF in low light ... and with good control of your A (aperture) DOF (Depth Of Field)  you can INDIRECTLY  have "other" parts of the Subject Focus Locked ... AND you will see it in FOCUS PEAKING.

Another way I use it is if I cannot get a AF lock at all,  in Low Light ... I just use  Manual Focus with DMF, and auto Zoom ... and hopefully see something with a touch of Peaking, for the AF lock.

Just as a side note:  a99 has Focus Peaking only at the Normal View ... and RX1  only has Focus Peaking when you ZOOM in to manual focus.  ALL  new SONY's  should have BOTH as a  Feature that you can Turn Off or On in the Menus.  That is on my wish List. :)

*** Ok,  want to know my favorite way to shoot during the Day with the new Sony A7r , A7, RX1/r cameras with the Exposure Compensation Wheel on the TOP Right?
What I call "EXPOSURE COMPENSATION PRIORITY" ...  Link here explains:

HERE is MORE   Beginners  LINKS:


TIP 110-120

TIP 89-109

TIP 88   A7r & A7 Back Button Auto Focus + ZOOM IN on any LENS

TIP 71-87

TIP 50-70

TIP 32-49

TIP 31   Exposure Compansation Dial "PRIORITY"

TIP 20-30

TIP 1-19

Hope this helps someone,

Ross Hamamura
The Tourist of Light
SONY ALPHA Camera Ambassador
In addition ‪#‎SuperUserbySony‬
(and have been given SONY products for accepting this additional role)

Please follow me on Instagram:  @RDHphoto
Facebook Sony ALPHA - TALK  Group:
SONY Community ID:  Hawaii-Geek

This a RX1  shot of the girl Running ...  basically a 100% CROP  ... the RX1 did a pretty good job , with very few miss AF (shot a lot of her that day).  fyi: RX1 has NO CAF mode for tracking action.