The Venus Optics 15mm f2 is the World’s Fastest 15mm Lens

Venus Optics announced the unveiling of two premium lenses with extreme specifications and promising impressive performance, the Laowa 15mm f/2 FE Zero-D and Laowa 7.5mm f/2 MFT.

Designed specifically for Sony Full Frame Mirrorless cameras, the Laowa 15mm f/2 FE is currently the world’s fastest 15mm rectilinear lens for full-frame cameras. It features a close-to-zero optical distortion, allowing photographers to take landscape or architecture shots with straight lines retained. Additionally, Venus Optics has managed to add a 72mm filter thread allowing photographers to easily install standard screw-in filters without paying for an expensive filter holder system. They’ve also successfully controlled the size and weight of the lens, weighing only 1.1 pounds and 82mm in length for compactness and easy portability.

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Antony Spencer: Making Landscape Photographs That Stand Out

All images by Antony Spencer. Used with permission.

“In a mad dash to outdo the rest of the photography world, it seems to me that landscape photographers are learning to do whatever it takes to an image to make theirs stand out in the quest for popularity, especially online.” says photographer Antony Spencer. So many of the images we see on a day to day basis are of the same locations over and over again.” When you look at his work, it’s easy to see how he’s doing a pretty good job of holding himself to that statement.

Antony started out taking pictures as just a hobby 10 years ago–combined with traveling and being self employed it eventually turned into more than that. These days he’s working with the likes of Phase One–which is part of his belief that good gear and a creative vision go hand in hand.

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(UPDATED WITH SAMPLE PHOTOS) Phase One Has Two New Zoom Lenses From Schneider Kreuznach

All images by Antony Spencer. Used with permission.

If there is any company that’s been pumping out medium format lenses as of late, it’s Phase One. Today, they’re announcing two Schneider Kreuznach Blue Ring Zoom lenses for their XF camera system. With that said, they offer full frame 645 format coverage.

Both lenses sport a signature blue ring–kind of like how Canon has that big Red ring to signify that their product is an “L” lens.

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Hasselblad and DJI Are Teaming Up For Some Odd Reason

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When you think of Hasselblad, you often think about the older and very beautiful medium format film SLR cameras that the company made and digitized. So when the company announced today that they now have a strategic partnership with DJI (the DJI that makes drones) it strikes us as a bit perplexing.

Considering that both companies have a history in aerial photography, this is bound to get interesting. The last thing I want to see is a Hasselblad branded Phantom rip-off (and we know you don’t want to see that either after the whole Sony thing) but what we’ll hopefully see is some sort of medium format drone photography collaboration–which would be super, duper cool!

The press release is holding back lots of details, but there are hints of a medium format drone system in the works hidden in the release. If that is the case, then landscape photographers will have a really, really excellent new option when it comes to drone photography. At the same time though, you’ll need a tank of a drone to fly medium format equipment up into the air.

Who knows, maybe we’ll see it at Photokina next year.

Kodak Aerocolor IV Film is a Great Way to Burn Over $1,500

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No, the film above isn’t Kodak Aerochrome or Lomochrome Purple–instead, it’s something much different though we’ve understand why experienced shooters might believe it to be otherwise.. The image above is from Kodak Aerocolor IV negative film 2460 and it costs you quite a pretty penny depending on the configuration you get of it: we’re talking well over $1,500.

Aerocolor IV is an ISO 125 color aerial film that is designed for aerial photography; and that’s just what the Canadian government has used it for. For years though, Aerochrome III infrared (not Aerochrome III color) was designed to deliver similar looking results with turning greens into pinks/purples as you see above. However, Aerocolor IV is a color aerial film, not an infrared.

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Romeo Durscher on Drone Photography and Learning Experiences

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All images by Romeo Durscher. Used with permission.

Romeo Durscher is the Director of Education at DJI–and he’s quite the photographer. Soem of his work is being featured in San Francisco in a gallery exhibit called “Perspectives by SkyPixel.” The gallery features images by the SkyPixel community and is currently on a travelling tour around the US, Europe and Asia in an effort to inspire people to get out there shooting and making prints of their work.

The idea of taking photos with a bird’s eye view is a recent one, and even Romeo admits that it was tough to get used to. Romeo grew up in fascination at developing film in the darkroom when his father was so passionate about it–but the costs put him off. Instead, he got into digital photography then started experimenting with drones in 2012.

Romeo got a chance to tell us about the learning experience.

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Fields is an Exploration of the Geometry of Actual Fields

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All images by Jakob Wagner. Used with permission.

Photographer Jakob Wagner is well known for many projects. He’s worked for Adobe, Jim Beam, Victorinox, Emirates, Stern, the Royal Opera House and many more. But these days he’s marketing himself as being specialized in landscape, aerial, cityscape, industrial and fine art photography.

His latest project is called Fields; and it involves aerial photography combined with geometry and interesting compositions. Though most folks are all about drone photography these days, Jakob tells us that he’s more into gas balloon shooting for various reasons. Jakob tells us about the hardships of the project and the creative inspiration for it.

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Chris Schmid on Adventure Photography Using Drones

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All images by Chris Schmid. Used with permission

Chris Schmid is a special type of adventure photographer. Lots of shooters se their gear from the comfort and security of the ground. And while Chris used to do this, he is part of a growing trend of photographers that are adding the use of drones to their skill set. Chris has also gone on to win many awards for his creativity and the types of photos that he captures. Not only does Chris look to immortalize the spirit of adventure in his photos, but he also photographs many wild animals.

 

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Ed Drew Captures the Reflections of War in His Tintype Photographs

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All images taken by and used with permission from Ed Drew.

At least one other soldier stationed in Afghanistan has been documenting a different side of war. Like Wisconsin National Guard Communications Section Chief Sean Huolihan, whose Afghanistan series was recently featured here at the Phoblographer, aerial gunner and photographer Ed Drew of the California Air National Guard also used his skills in photography to document a side of warfare that those not directly involved in it rarely see.

Unlike Huolihan, however, who’s artistic photographs, captured with his trusty Nikon D90, often contained the juxtaposing elements of serenity and combat, Drew kept his focus on his fellow soldiers, his brothers and sisters in arms, and chose to capture them with nothing less than the meticulous process of tintype.

Taking images of war is already hard enough with a DSLR, but Drew took war photography into a whole new level with his large format camera, metal plates, and portable darkbox, which he took with him during his deployment. His photographs are the first tintypes taken in a combat zone since the Civil War.

We do think, however, that it’s more than this actual process that makes his images even more fascinating. True, the classic look of the tintype process makes these images far more interesting than the usual modern war photos; but that look is almost overshadowed by what are actually in the photos – in the mostly pensive, grave, and combat-worn faces of his subjects are true reflections of war and the effect it has on those involved, good and bad.

Drew himself talks about this,

“My work isn’t to make a statement on the war, it’s a family album, where I have taken the portraits of people close to me. I purposely chose to photograph them only, to show my experience through their faces. This series was a reflection of my time in war. I think every Soldier, Airman, Marine and Sailor could agree that its not about the various opinions of what the war is and isn’t, its about our brothers and sister we stand next to. When you think of it like that, you can understand I admired them and respected them.”

This couldn’t be any truer.

See the stirring images from his tintype series in Afghanistan after the jump. For more photos from this series, please visit Drew’s website at www.eddrew.com.

 

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DJI’s New Phantom 2 Vision+ is a Flying RAW Image Shooting Monster

DIJ New Phantom 2 Vision+ Sky

Aerial drones and quadcopters let photographers capture a whole new perspective on life. Whether it be flying through an abandoned city or diving right into the burning hot maw of an erupting volcano, drones have put aerial photography into the hands of many more users. Today DJI is introducing a new aerial drone called the Phantom 2 Vision+.

The new quadcopter features a higher-resolution 14MP camera that shoots in Adobe DNG RAW, which will make shots much more flexible in post-processing. The new camera can also record 1080p video at 30fps as well as 720p at 60fps. A stabilized three-axis gimbal, meanwhile, levels out any camera shake as the Phantom 2 Vision+ bobs and weaves through the air while allowing the camera to sweep around in a 360-degree dome underneath the drone.

Like the Phantom 2 Vision drone before it, this plus model comes ready to fly out of the box with a simple radio controller. It comes programmed with a bit of intelligence letting users program in coordinates for the drone to fly to automatically. It can also hover in place as long as winds are blowing below 25 mph.

The drone has a maximum range of 2,625-feet (800-meters) and it will simply fly back to you like a boomerang—a boomerang with four rotating blades, that is, so don’t try to catch it. DJI also released a new bit of firmware for all its Phantom drones, which lets drone pilots steer clear of airports and other user-generated no-fly zones.

The camera system is controlled by a DJI app available for iOS and Android. From your phone you can reorient the camera and even get a live feed of what the camera is seeing, as the drone transmits the picture over Wi-Fi.

You can preorder your Phantom 2 Vision+ from B&H Photo for $1,299. There weren’t any details on availability, but in the meantime check out some more images and video of the aerial drone after the break.

 

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Drone Photographer Over East Harlem Wreckage Sent Packing by NYPD

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If you visit New Yorker Brian Wilson’s Instagram account, you’ll notice that quite a few aerial snaps of New York City. He owes all of those shots to his recently acquired DJI Phantom 2 Vision, a relatively popular quadcopter drone with an integrated camera.

While New York doesn’t really take to unidentified flying objects flying and buzzing around their neighborhoods especially after 911, and considering that NYPD arrested a Brooklyn musician for “reckless endangerment” for flying and losing control of a drone that crashed at a commuter’s feet near Grand Central last year, Wilson’s gotten away with having that thing hovering around NYC so far. Plus there aren’t really any clear laws concerning the personal and professional use of drones in a public urban space. They’re probably why Wilson felt confident enough to take his new-found hobby to another level.

After a gas leak caused the explosion and collapse of two apartment buildings in East Harlem on Wednesday and left 70 people injured and 8 dead, Wilson took his new toy to the skies to capture images of the tragic wreck. This time, he wasn’t so lucky.

Some might argue that he wasn’t doing anything wrong, that he was no different from any of the photojournalists taking photos of the action from the ground that day, but the NYPD thought differently. After all, the firefighters and rescue team didn’t need the distraction of an unfamiliar buzzing object hovering above them as they combed through the rubble for survivors. Additionally, the authorities weren’t too pleased with the possibility of Wilson losing control of his drone and injuring their personnel.

So they sent him packing but not before he caused speculations and captured an aerial image of the wreckage.

At least, he got off easier than the other guy, without so much as a slap on the wrist.

Via PetaPixel

Watch This Poor Water Balloon Get Destroyed By a Goshawk in Slow Motion

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Today, we’d like to reintroduce you to the power of high-speed cameras with a cool video.

Earth Unplugged, a YouTube channel created by BBC Worldwide, recently released a short video of a Goshawk catching its prey midflight. Goshawks are supposedly “aerial cheetahs” so not only are they expert hunters, they also catch their prey at such unbelievable speeds it’s hard to capture their attacks with just a simple video camera.

This high definition footage shows the hawk attacking a yellow water balloon with a piece of bait attached to it in slow motion. It even shows some up-close-and-personal shots of the bird’s long sharp talons tearing through that balloon as if it were a piece of paper. The incredible details they captured of the hunt has made the Gohawk look every inch the menacing hunter that it is – it barely even flinched when the balloon popped!

There’s not a lot of information on how the Earth Unplugged team captured this awesome sequence but PetaPixel thinks they were using a Photron FASTCAM. The sequence itself, which you can watch after the jump, is a snippet from a 6-minute episode they channel released about a year ago entitled “Goshawk Hunts in Slow Motion.”

Via PetaPixel

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Exhilarating New Red Epic Video of an Amazing Free Solo Climb

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It’s been a while since we’ve featured an awesome video shot with a Red Epic cinema camera but we’re going to make up for all that lost time today… with an awesome, toe-tingling free-solo video no less!

Just over a month ago, on January 15, rock climber Alex Honnold, known for his amazing feat of free solo climbing the Yosemite Triple Crown, free-soloed the 2,500-feet high bigwall route on Mexico’s El Toro named El Sendero Luminoso (The Shining Path). For those of you who are not familiar with rock climbing terms, free solo is a technique where a climber climbs without the help of any ropes or harnesses. Honnold’s 3-hour climb wasn’t as ambitious of an attempt as his climb of Yosemite’s top granite summits but none can argue that it is just as impressive and exciting – especially because they caught every heart-stopping step in crazy angles with a Red Epic mounted on a octocopter from SkySight.

Filmed for The North Face, this 6-minute collaborative video by SkySight and Camp4Collective follows Honnold through his preparations (aka scraping and pulling vegetation off the cracks in the path) as well as his actual climb, filmed in new perspectives that makes the entire thing even more exhilarating.

See it for yourself after the jump.

Via Wired
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Reid Blackburn’s Lost Photos of Mount St. Helens Found

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When photojournalist Reid Blackburn perished in the volcanic eruption of Mount St. Helens on May 18, 1980 while he was on assignment to document the eruption, his camera equipment was so severely damaged that they couldn’t salvage any of his shots from that historic day. Recently, however, a photo assistant for The Columbian found a roll that he shot weeks before the fatal blast. It, as it turns out, contained images that he took of the volcano weeks before the eruption.

Linda Lutes, who works for The Columbian, the local newspaper that Blackburn was covering the eruption for, recently discovered the lost roll, which had been sitting unprocessed in its canister in a studio storage box for about 33 years now, and had it developed. The black-and-white negatives revealed Blackburn’s aerial photos of the volcano before blasted its top off and changed its own landscape forever.

The Columbian suggested that Blackburn must have shot the roll while on assignment in April but might not have felt the shots good enough to be processed.

However, while he had indeed made more remarkable images of the volcano, the ones from this lost roll are somehow more meaningful as they were found years after the death of a photographer who was not only revered and loved by his colleagues but also dedicated enough to his craft and his job that he risked his life for it.

Via PopPhoto

 

The Basics of Photography: C for Composition

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Continuing on with our series on the Basics of Photography, this week we are at the letter C, which will be covering the topic of Composition. Composing an image within a frame is one of the most important aspects to creating a good photograph. For most of us, we have to work within a rectangular format (unless you shoot a square format camera) and there are some “rules” (I like to think of them more as guidelines really) that you should adhere to, in order to help improve your photographic style. Read on for my introduction to the rules of composition.

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What is Kodak Aerochrome? A Beginner’s Guide to The Confusion of Lomochrome Purple

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Photo by Richard Mosse

Today’s exciting announcement from Lomography about Lomochrome Purple is bound to get some people excited and others totally confused. First off, know that it is based off of Kodak Aerochrome–an old infrared film developed for government surveillance. Since it is infrared, that means that there are no real purple fields in the Congo.  So we’re here to answer a couple of big questions that you may have about the new film. Check out more information after the jump.

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