Why You Should Use Vintage Lenses on New Cameras

If you’ve read this site for a while, you know that we’re smitten with vintage lenses. There’s something about the feel of metal lenses that makes everyone on our Reviews Team go head over heels. What’s more, vintage lenses have a look that isn’t too clinical. We’re looking for unique and stunning renders, not the same cookie-cutter photos everything else can give us. And for that, sometimes we look to vintage lenses. Here’s why you should too!

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The Secret to Sharper Photos That You Forgot About

Here at The Phoblographer, we’re not about getting sharper photos. We think modern lenses are way too sharp. But we know and understand that a lot of you want sharper lenses. It’s wonderful that you do. However, we think if you just want to buy a new lens or spend a lot of time in post-production that you’re doing yourself an injustice. And you’re probably forgetting about this one important trick to getting sharper photos. So we’re going to talk about it and a little bonus tip, too!

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The Secret to High Contrast in Portrait Photography

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If you shoot portraits often, you can fall into various camps. Some folks like a lot of contrast in the portraits. And indeed, high-contrast portrait photos can look pretty wonderful and natural. But other folks like as little contrast as possible. That way, with a flatter image, they can work on it a lot in post-production. Understanding what works in what situation, though, is pretty tough. Further, you may not really understand the naming of what you actually want. So in this post, we’re going to tackle it on a surface level.

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Wider Than 85mm. 3 Great Portrait Lenses For a Different Look

If there is one thing that’s often taught, it’s to not shoot portraits with anything wider than an 85mm lens. But honestly, that’s also changed in the past few years. Lenses as wide as 28mm are great for shooting portraits. And in their pursuit of clinical perfection, manufacturers have made portrait lenses more capable. Lucky for you, we dove into our Reviews Index to find some great ones. You’ll love these!

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Chart: The Look of Film Photography Explained in Terms of White Balance

How many of you can tell the difference between daylight white balance and shade or Tungsten?

When you think of daylight white balance, we’re positive that many of you have a tough time figuring it out. You’re probably shooting in auto white balance. And if you had to take an educated guess, you’d think that it would be a warm-toned balance. Daylight is indeed warmer than Tungsten, at least in terms of white balance. And the way that it works is that the two try to cancel each other out. Tungsten lights are pretty warm, so the white balance has to be very cool. Daylight is very cool, so the white balance needs to be warm. However, folks like their images to be even warmer. If this is all sounding confusing to you, then please check out our infographic below.

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The Black and White Landscapes You Want Use This Special Secret

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Black and white landscapes are kind of a tricky thing. Lots of landscape photographers will tell you that you have to do it all in post-production. We’re not going to disagree with that, but there’s a lot you can do beforehand to get it right in-camera or give yourself less post-production. The work of many photographers is inspiring to say the least. And today, we’re giving you a few short pointers to how to make better black and white landscapes.

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The Lens I’ve Wanted for So Long. Leica 50mm F2 Summicron-M Review

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The Leica 50mm f2 Summicron M is a lens every manufacturer should pay attention to. There’s no contrast or micro-contrast trickery. There are no aspherical elements. This lens also doesn’t have apochromatic lens elements. What this lens has is a lot of sharpness and character. It’s small too! Not to mention that it’s also one of the most affordable in the Leica lineup. It has a classic design that newer photographers love. Best of all, you can adapt it to pretty much any camera system.

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How to Photograph Black Skin and Other Dark Skin Like Mine

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This post is motivated by watching a YouTuber with a Mamiya RB67 photograph folks with darker skin like mine. But nothing was done about the all-natural lighting. And as a result, there were no details in the person being photographed at all. It’s made me realize that there’s a stark lack of representation in models within photo instructionals. That shoot was done with a very digital workflow that relies on fixing it all in post-production. The problem could’ve been solved easily. Look, I’ve long believed the theory that color film and photography were developed for folks with lighter skin. I’ve done my own research into the matter myself for years now. And here’s what I’ve learned after photographing so many different types of models with a different skin. This is a quick, surface-level introduction to how to photograph black skin and dark skin like mine.

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Pure Magic. Funleader Contax 35mm f2 G for Leica M Review

The Funleader Contax 35mm f2 G is one of my favorite 35mm lenses ever made.

In 13 years, I never thought that the megapixel wars and the hunt for clinical perfection would create soulless images. But thankfully, the Funleader Contax 35mm f2 G is slapping that idea in the face. While all the other brands try to create clinical perfection, it takes the fun out of photography. It’s worse that it happens in two ways: in post-production and in-camera. Anyone that has told me to put lens character into an image using post-production hasn’t actually tried it. It’s hard. The truth is that it’s far easier to have a “flawed” lens and get rid of those “issues” in post-production. Every brand champions that they’re better than their competitors at it. The industry has been like this for the last 20 or so years. It’s created a monster, but I feel like the Funleader Contax 35mm f2 G is a rare gem among all that.

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Understanding Contrast for Photographers Who Hate Histograms

No, HDR images and high contrast aren’t really the same thing.

Lots of new photographers picked up the hobby in the pandemic. And we genuinely think that that’s wonderful. However, there’s a lot of misinformation and a lack of understanding of what’s what. Some folks believe that if they go for higher contrast that they’ll get better photos. That’s not necessarily the case. And some folks also think that everything needs to be an HDR. They hate when something is blown out. And to those folks, you’re surely entitled to your own opinions. Some folks want a contrasty lens thinking that it’s always going to be sharper. But that’s wrong: sharpness is sharpness, clarity is clarity, and contrast is contrast.

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The Most Beautiful Bokeh Ever! Meyer Optik Trioplan 100mm II Review

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It’s no secret that photographers get lots of pleasure from bokeh in photos. It’s gorgeous. Apple, Samsung, Google, and others spend lots of money and processing power, trying to replicate it with their phones. But it’s never going to become anything like what the Meyer Optik Trioplan 100mm II has. This bokeh is absolutely stunning. And I’m a fan of the colors too. They remind me of older Zeiss Biotar lenses. The bokeh isn’t all you’ll drool over. You’ll also adore the colors. Now, we tested this lens on Sony camera bodies, but I’ve got a feeling it will be ideal on Leica bodies. Portrait photographers are going to love this lens. Believe it or not, it’s also a great lens for photo walking. It’s incredibly fun, and the character it has is truly unique.

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This Is the Cheapest We’ve Ever Seen a Leica Noctilux!

We’re pretty shocked at how cheap this Leica Noctilux is right now on eBay!

Most folks know that the Leica Noctilux is an incredibly expensive lineup of lenses. There have been a ton of various iterations of the 50mm option. They always deliver a signature look that makes jaws drop. So we were pretty shocked when tipped off about this one that’s starting for only $3,500. Better yet, it can be yours for only $4,650. You don’t really need to be rich to own one. You just need to want a signature look that’s almost impossible to get otherwise. The Leica 50mm f1 Noctilux has always had a specific look to it. It’s more low contrast and lacks the micro-pop that newer Leica lenses and Zeiss ZM lenses boast. Yet somehow, the images have a sense of romance.


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Explore Your City: Samyang 18mm F2.8 Lens Review

With the Samyang 18mm f2.8, photographers can get unique image quality at an affordable price.

My intro to our review of the Samyang 18mm f2.8 is the last section I’m writing. It’s possibly because I don’t really know how to start it. Why? Well, the Samyang 18mm f2.8 is sort of a one trick pony. It delivers solid image quality on the Sony a7r III. The colors and the contrast are lovely. Couple that with the amazingly low price point and you’ve got everything the Samyang 18mm f2.8 embodies. Yet, if you want the best autofocus performance out of it, you need to buy the Samyang dock. Further, it lacks weather sealing, and that limits you from shooting in the rain (which is honestly one of the best things you could do). So for what it is, the Samyang 18mm f2.8 is pretty decent, but I wouldn’t spring for it.

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Photography Cheat Sheet: How to Make a Nose Look Flattering in Portraits

This photography cheat sheet will teach you about the nose – a pretty sensitive subject for portraits.

A friend of mine used to joke with me that her mother called her nose, “The map of Israel.” Joking or not, it’s a real concern of many portrait subjects. So finding a way to make noses look better means posing, lighting, and working with subjects correctly. If you’ve ever been in front of the lens, you know that nothing is more disheartening than the photos coming out not looking great. Of course, to each their own, but if you don’t feel great about your own portrait, then it can really hurt you. In today’s photography cheat sheet, we’re revisiting something that lots of you probably forgot about, some of you never learned, and that everyone will benefit from.

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How to Shoot Better Photos in Cities at Night (And Some Street Tips)

Cities are some of the best places to shoot photos at night, and here’s an infographic giving you a few tips you’ve never heard.

I think that every photographer somehow or another loves to photograph cities at night. They become magical places that suddenly come alive and have specific lighting set so carefully. And they’re gorgeous. The contrast that city lights create draws people in from all across the world. Take Times Square: though it is the bane of every NYer’s existence, people stand and stare in wonder at all that’s around them. One could say the same about many a Rambla in Barcelona. Walk though the streets of Bangkok at night and you’ll see the city come alive like no other.

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Photography Cheat Sheet: How Deeper Blacks Make Sharper Images

We’re sure that many of you didn’t know the trick in this photography cheat sheet.

You’ve heard of clarity, sharpness, and toning for sharper images–but have you ever thought about deeper blacks? This is a secret that I learned years ago and that I continue to notice in images across the web. Those who love making their photos black and white probably have heard of this before and started incorporating it into their workflows. Getting deeper blacks is admittedly easier to do in post-production, but there are ways to do it in-camera using exposure tricks. It starts with having control over your lighting–which is a method that begins in-camera. But luckily, this technique applies to any situation you could possibly think of, though we’ve seen it done best with low key lighting.

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Review: Ars Imago 320 Black and White Film (Please Come Back)

With Ars Imago 320, a photographer can expect super sharp images with fine grain at a usable ISO.

Ten years ago, no one would have predicted there would be a market for Ars Imago 320. But in the past few years, we’ve see a revival of film photography unlike any other. Around the world, younger photographers are picking up film cameras in an effort to get something different. The tangible process film photography allots the modern shooter is much more about the interpersonal connection than what digital offers. And with Ars Imago 320, photographers are getting a whole lot of versatility. While they state it’s good enough to be pushed to ISO 800, this fine grain film is also incredibly sharp. It’s for moments when you don’t need ISO 400 but also need more than ISO 100. Best of all, it’s in black and white. Load it up in a camera like the Fujifilm Natura S and you’re bound to have a lot of fun. We sure did. And while it was a limited edition, we hope it will come back.

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Creating Dramatic Black and White Photos Using Curves and HSL Sliders

Ever wanted to achieve the punchy and dramatic black and white photos you see all over Instagram? Knowing how to tweak the HSL Sliders will help!

Among the most popular and eye-catching styles for black and white photography is the punchy and dramatic look. If creating monochrome photos this way has been your goal, but you have no idea how to achieve it, we have just the tutorial for you. UK-based photographer Sean Tucker has a helpful video showing how to use the HSL sliders to edit your color photos — even with your smartphone!

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Useful Photography Tip #197: The Fujifilm Pastel Look in 4 Steps

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Getting that beautiful Pastel look is great, but would you believe us if we told you there is an easier way to do it than to work with presets? In fact, it doesn’t require a lot of work. Best of all, it can be done in-camera. For the benefit of everyone, we’re going to quickly talk about getting this look in-camera with Fujifilm cameras and with any other camera out there as well. However, due to the way that their colors work, Fujifilm is typically the best at this.

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Why Nothing Will Beat the Sharpness of Black and White Photography

Black and white images get a lot of hate, but they’re sharper than you think.

While some folks hate black and white, I find there to be special magic to it. Of course, not every black and white image is super sharp, but compared to a color photo of similar variety, they’re far sharper. Believe it or not, the best way to see how sharp your lens can be involves converting your images to black and white. Don’t believe me? Look at history. Acros, T-Max, and Tri-X are all super sharp black and white films. The images made with them are far sharper than any slide or color negative film out there. With digital, we became enamored with color. We also were all about fixing it in post-production to make an image appear sharper. Here’s the crazy secret: even if your color photo is sharp, it’s going to look sharper in black and white. Don’t believe us?

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5 Quick Tips on Shooting Better Night Portraits with Ambient Lighting

For the photographers who come alive when the sun goes down, shooting better portraits at night is a great skill to have.

We get it: you want to photograph a moment just the way you see it! Many photographers who shoot portraits at night eventually begin to understand how lighting works once they get enough experience. During the nighttime, most of the light we know and see is absent, except for the little bit that is provided artificially. So, until you know how to work with strobes, we recommend that you learn how to make the most of available light at night.

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