Review: Leica M-D

The Leica M-D is a crazy idea–seriously, who decides to remove the LCD screen from a camera? It makes no sense, right? Honestly, you’d be amazed at how wrong you are. The Leica M-D is the closest thing that Leica has that fuses both digital and film. Indeed, it’s the true film photographer’s M camera. Scoff all you want at this camera, but after three weeks of time with it and the wonderful 24mm f1.4 Summilux, I genuinely started to understand it. You could indeed call it the Anti-Instagram camera, but I personally see it as one of the most important M cameras that they’ve released since the original M9 and the M Monochrom.

If you’re a true photojournalist or documentary photographer, this could be the only camera you’ll ever need. And before you sit there and hate on all the things about Leica cameras being so expensive, at least hear me out.

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On the Creative Thought Process Behind a Photograph

Photo Essays is a series on the Phoblographer where photographers get to candidly speak their mind about a specific subject or project of theirs. Want to submit? Send [email protected]

All images by Bryan Minear. Used with permission. Be sure to also follow him on Instagram.

In today’s world where we are constantly bombarded with photos of spectacular locations, it takes nothing to pull up a location search for an area you are visiting, find the shots that you want to take, and go shoot the same thing that a hundred people before you have taken. But that doesn’t mesh with me. As an artist, I hold my personal creative vision above all other things. It far surpasses the gear that I use as well as the locations that I visit.

The majority of the personal work that I shoot, I do so within 15 miles of my house. And I don’t live in a particularly “epic” location that is known for its scenery (i.e. the PNW or Cali). But even though I only live in the midwest, I still get to be an artist. I just have to try harder and put a ton of work in to my craft. A lot of that comes down to scouting my locations in advance, and waiting to shoot at the perfect time, with just the right combination of weather and light to add that dynamic mood and interest. I’m not saying that taking the iconic photos is bad, but it can put you in a rut where you are only going through the motions.

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Review: Sony A7r Mk II

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony A7r Mk II product images review (2 of 3)ISO 4001-100 sec at f - 2.8

The Sony A7r Mk II has to be the most talked about camera on the market right now. Many are giving up their DSLRs for it, and people are raving about how amazing it is and falling in love with photography all over again. When I first got my hands on the camera, I was skeptical, but I had to be. It’s the job of a reviewer to do that and not immediately give in to let their inner fan boy scream and melt all over a camera as if they’d fallen in love with their soul mate. But in many ways, this camera is like a soul mate.

Need more megapixels? Sure, it’s got it. What about better high ISO results? Yup, it’s got that, too. And autofocus, it’s improved quite a bit. Weather sealing? It’s not the best, but it’s there according to Sony’s definition of it. It’s good enough realistically–and to that end, it’s all most people need and much more.

The Sony A7r Mk II boasts a 42MP BSI CMOS full frame sensor along with 399 autofocus points, splash proof/dust proof design incorporation, 5 Axis stabilization, and the ability to shoot at ISO 102,400.

Of course, this all comes at quite the cost.

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Review: Sony RX10 Mk II

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony Rx10 Mk II review product images (1 of 9)ISO 4001-50 sec at f - 2.8

Sony’s high-end point and shoot cameras have greatly improved in quality over the years–and it started with the RX100. From the success that they got from that little 1 inch sensor and a fast zoom lens, they created the RX10. The Sony RX10 Mk II builds on its predecessor’s successes with an even more powerful engine to allow the camera to shoot 4K video and high-speed video, and it has silent shutter capabilities and lots of other amazing features that can easily make this camera a DSLR replacement for many enthusiasts (and, well, this is going to sound crazy, but even the pros).

Let’s clarify on that one: this can’t be a replacement camera for all pros: but journalists attending events (not photojournalists), concert photographers, street and travel shooters may never have a need to get another camera again. The advantage of the 1 inch sensor is that you get lots of a subject in focus at a given aperture–though you combine that with the light gathering abilities of a constant f2.8 aperture lens that zooms from 24-200mm. Seriously, what else could someone really need?

Still don’t believe us? Wait till you see the high ISO abilities and the RAW file versatility.

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The Phoblographer’s Introductory Guide to the Histogram


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Before we begin this article, we want to explain that any photographer should always prioritize being artistic and having a creative vision above any technical aspect. But the two can work together very well if you have the right ideas. Photographers wanting to become more serious about their photos and photo editing should realize that one of the biggest ways to do this is to learn to read histograms. While you focus on making sure that you get as much as you can in the camera, what you get out of the camera will surely determine your post-production process.

For the beginner, here is our Guide to the Histogram.

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New Chrome Extension Promises Raw File Previews in the Browser

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Editor’s Correction: The founders emailed us and stated that the 10MB limit is only on the site and that it can indeed read files in Dropbox with a small workaround. We’ve edited the story accordingly.

A new Google Chrome extension may change the way that you use certain apps/websites. That’s because before now, RAW image files weren’t easily readable on the web. Instead, you’d need to use Adobe Creative Cloud or some sort of RAW file reader on your computer. However, PilePreviews.Io is trying to change that. works through an interesting process. Normally, when you’d click a PSD or a RAW file, Chrome would download it to your computer. But by right clicking the file and then clicking on preview from link, the extension will open the file in a new tab and allow you to view it without leaving your browser.

The extension is a free download. A preview is after the jump.


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Review: Olympus OMD EM10

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Olympus OMD EM10 product photos (2 of 7)ISO 4001-60 sec at f - 4.0

As the entry level camera in the OMD lineup of the camera, the OMD EM10 is a camera that many looking to get into the mirrorless world will want to reach for. With some of the fastest focusing performance that we’ve seen from a mirrorless camera and a great JPEG engine output, what more could one ask for?

When Olympus created the EM10, they took a bit of their EM5, EM1, and the EP5 and put it in a budget conscious camera. Indeed, we think that most folks should skip what a sales person will tell you about buying a DSLR and just spring for this camera.

With that said though, it still isn’t the best at everything.

Editor’s Note: 4/8/2014 we’ve updated to include RAW file findings.

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Review: Canon Rebel SL1

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon Rebel SL1 product photos review (3 of 9)ISO 4001-80 sec at f - 4.5

Model: Grace Morales

When we first got our hands on the new Canon Rebel SL1, we were quite shocked by how small it is. This is one of the smallest DSLRs that we’ve had the pleasure of holding. The SL in the naming convention stands for Super Light. And in that naming convention, Canon stated in our initial meetings with them that it is targeted towards women–and a high emphasis is also placed on shooting in Auto.

In my time walking around NYC, I’ve seen loads and loads of DSLR users shooting in Auto. Many have said that they haven’t had time to sit down and read the manual yet and other said that they springed for the camera just so that they could get better pictures.

With all that in mind, the Canon SL1 sports a 18MP APS-C sized imaging sensor that is significantly larger than the one that you find in most point and shoot cameras–and therefore effectively gives you better image quality. It can shoot 4 frames per second in continuous shooting mode to help capture your dog or child running across the yard. The camera can also shoot 1080p HD video, has a touch screen, and can become very sensitive to light via its ISO abilities that range from 100-12,800.

And for the first time ever, we shot with this camera in the automatic modes in addition to our manual testing.

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