Wednesday, March 29, 2023
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Help us find our Focus Camera Fan!

Focus Camera Fan

Last week we went up to Central Park to film a review for the Nikon D600. As we were crossing the street, an outgoing and energetic young man jumped into Nathaniel’s frame and posed for a photo! It was a long and tiring shoot, and this fellow really made our day! Unfortunately we were slow-witted and did not think to give him a Focus Camera card, but if he sees this, he can contact us and us we will give him a $25 Focus Camera gift card! Thank you Focus Camera Fan!

Canon SX50 vs. Nikon P520 vs. Sony HX300 Zoom Off!

By Kayla Sargent and Alisun Dellimore

The Canon SX50, Nikon P520, and Sony HX300 are high end DSLR’s that boast large optical zoom lenses. We decided to run them against each other in an epic “zoom off” at the Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn. Read our thoughts on each camera below, and look at the photos and video we took to decide which zoom is the best for you!

First off, The Canon SX50!


The Canon Sx50 was really fun to use. The auto focus was fast and accurate, even when extended to its full 50x zoom.  A major pitfall for many cameras is that their auto focus ceases to work as the camera zooms in closer. As you can see from the photos of the peacock, not only is the Sx50 focused, but also keeps a lot of definition and detail. It’s  ISO of up to 6,400 probably helps out with the focusing, as well as taking great quality photos in low light. The video is 1080 full HD, and though we were standing in the back of the room we could capture details on the baboon’s hands and fur. At the end of the video we put in a sample of the photos taken using the burst shooting mode (13 fps). Overall, big thumbs up for the SX50!

Next up, The Nikon P520!


The Nikon P520 was sleek and light and its 3.2 inch high resolution LCD screen which flips out and rotates made it really easy to take pictures and see exactly what we were capturing. It had a harder time focusing, especially in low light due to its ISO of 3,200, but with a lot of natural light, like the photos of the kissing prairie dogs or video (1080HD) of the otter, it performed wonderfully, albeit a little slowly. Though we were not impressed by the P520 overall, we still got some beautiful photos and video, and given more time and instruction to play around with the settings, we think the ease of shooting could be brought up to match its ergonomic design.

And last but not least, the Sony HX300!


The HX300 was also very easy and fun to use.  With a maximum ISO of 12,800 and aperture that goes to f/2.8, it can focus easily in dim situations. The HX300 has a comparable zoom capability to the Sx50. As you look at the photos and video of the baboons and sea lions, you can see that it keeps focus and definition even when maxed out at 50x. It can snap up to 10 fps in burst shooting mode, but it needs about thirty seconds to process them.  So, if you push the button too early you could end up watching the bulk of the action as the camera processes the mistimed photos you just took.  The HX300 also has the ability to take a 30 second exposure, and it has in-camera HDR capability, both of which open a lot of doors for creativity. Overall we were really impressed by the quality of the HX300 and would definitely take it on another zoo (or actual wildlife) adventure.


1. We did not use a tripod for any of the photos or videos in this post. A tripod would surely increase the quality and focus of each of these cameras. However, not wanting to get in the way of zoo patrons and hordes of excited school groups, we left our sticks at the office.

2. All cameras are on auto settings unless otherwise noted.

3. We used only the optical zoom on the cameras, no digital zoom. Optical zoom is when the lens physically extends to get a closer picture, while digital zoom is simply cropping and enlarging a portion of the photo in order to get closer, and decreases the overall quality of the picture.

Olympus TG-2, TG-830, TG-630, and the Sony TF-1 Underwater Review!


Last Friday, we took a trip to Pacific Aquarium and Pet INC where Chi, Anita, and Derek helped us test our latest waterproof cameras, the Olympus TG-2, TG-830, TG-630, and TF-1! They led us past tank after tank, (a tiny seahorse, two electric blue jellyfish, more kinds of goldfish than we knew existed, the mystical axolotl) and we had still only seen half of their aquarium. After being warned away from a couple of large spotted fish that might bite, we settled on a pond full of friendly Koi to start diving in. Below are our video clips from the Olympus TG-2, TG-830, TG-630, and Sony TF-1 along with our reviews of each camera.

The Olympus TG-2

The Olympus TG-2 has beautiful picture quality, which made it really fun to film with. We left it on the bottom of the tank, and when the Koi swam up to investigate, it focused clearly and immediately. What really surprised us was the vibrant and clear colors in the video. How does the TG-2 get such vibrant colors? Its aperture can go as wide as F2, which means it can let in more light. Water makes light act a bit funky, so it is hard for underwater cameras to reproduce color, expose properly, and focus. It is often recommended to use a flash at all times and have the subject of the photo no more than three feet away. On top of it’s great picture quality, it was easy and fun to use, and collected great video with nice bubbly audio. It was our favorite camera of the four, however it also has the largest price tag, coming in at $350-$400.

The Olympus TG-830

As you can see, the TG-830 also has beautiful quality footage and great auto focus, even in the tanks with less light. It has a 16 Megapixel CMOS sensor which enhances its picture quality, and will enable you to zoom and crop without losing detail as you edit your photos. It felt very sturdy, and like the TG-2 it has locking ports for extra protection. Without having to compromise much on quality, the TG-830 is available in the $200-$250 range.

The Olympus TG-630

The TG-630 has a 12 megapixel sensor, and even at a lower price range ($150-$200) it can still capture 1080HD video. It stayed focused as we tested the 5x optical zoom in the dimly lit Koi pond, which was impressive. It also has double locking ports, so you can be secure that there won’t be accidental flooding underwater. You can buy the TG-630, and then use your savings to have a fabulous trip to the beach!

The Sony TF-1

The Sony TF-1 is the smallest and most affordable of these underwater cameras. Out of the four, the TF-1 is the only one that would fit comfortably in a pocket. The TF-1 captures 720HD video. Though it had trouble focusing on the fast moving Koi, it was much more accurate in the calmer Axolotl (black salamanders with headdresses on) tank. At around $160, you can get the TF-1 with the same quality on land as any other point and shoot, AND be able to take it into the water. The lock on the port did feel less secure than on the TG series, but we did not have any trouble as we dunked it in multiple tanks.


All four cameras were easy and fun to shoot with, but the TG-2 definitely came out on top with its quality of color and focus, while the TG-830 was a close second. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t stretch your budget! As you can see, the TG-630 and TF-1 still captured awesome video, and you can increase underwater photo quality by using the flash, and getting closer to your subject!


A HUGE thank you to Chi, Anita, Derek, and Pacific Aquarium Inc! We recommend them highly for all your aquarium needs and questions!           212-995-5895



Seth Casteel’s Extraordinary Pictures of Dogs




Seth Casteel took extraordinary photos of ordinary dogs by choosing to take them under water. In an interview with Writer’s DIgest he said: “At a routine on-land photo shoot, a little dog named Buster the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel decided he would rather be in the pool. Watching him jump in again and again, I wondered, “What does he look like under there?” I’m interested in the emotion of dogs, and as it turns out, the water is a great way for dogs to express themselves.”


As you take photos, let your curiosity lead you, and find the answers to your questions with your camera!

If your questions take you underwater, check out some safe waterproof camera cases that will enable you to take the camera you own underwater. If you are in the market for a new Camera, there are a lot of rugged waterproof (not to mention drop/dirt/dust/shock proof) digital cameras on the market. Olympus just released the TG 2, and TG 630, while Sony released the TF 1. All are durable cameras that you can feel comfortable using in adventurous situations.

If you have any photos that turn the ordinary into the extraordinary, submit them to our weekly photo contest by posting them to our Facebook wall for your chance to win a $10 Focus Camera Gift Card!






The Sony DSC-RX100 and DSC-RX1


Small cameras with large sensors seems to be the trend! Sony, unwavering with innovation, offers the RX1 with a full frame sensor and the RX100 with a 1″ sensor. We took both of them out for a day in Central Park to see if they could live up to all of the buzz about them.

First, the full frame RX1

Then the 1″ Rx100

Overall we had a great time, but felt strongly that high quality compact cameras would not be replacing or overshadowing DSLR cameras any time soon. Nathaniel gave his opinion as a professional that he would use the RX1 as a backup camera at a shoot, but would still need his Nikon D800 with interchangeable lenses and more control in order to achieve the quality he desires. The RX1 is a great option for someone like a journalist, who needs high quality photos but cannot carry around a full camera kit. The RX100 is as more of a consumer or prosumer level camera, and would enable an amateur to take their picture quality to the next level without having to master a DSLR. If budgets would allow, we would recommend these cameras for everyone because they are so easy and fun to use while also capturing stunning images. We are excited to see what Sony comes up with next!

Canon Rebel T5i (EOS 700D) Review



The new Canon Rebel T5i comes out right on the heels of it’s predecessor, a little less than a year passed between the two releases. We took a look at the T5i to find out if the improvements merited the new edition.

First, lets go over all of the major things that haven’t changed, and contribute to an awesome performance:

  • 18-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor with DIGIC 5 processor
  • ISO ranges up to 12800 (expandable to 25600)
  • continuous shooting speed 5fps
  • 9-point auto focus system with all cross-type points
  •  3-inch touchscreen that swivels to adjust for any angle of shooting

Now, for the new features:

  • The new features are great for an Instagram crazed, filter driven market. There are 7 creative filters which you can now preview in real time, before you actually take the shot.
  •  The EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM kit lens is actually the most exciting thing about the T5i release. This lens has a silent Stepping Motor which enables it to focus accurately, continuously, and quietly. It offers four stops of image stabilization. This lens makes up for the Auto focus on the T4i which is great when taking still shots, but in video was rendered slightly more than abysmal.
  • The Mode dial can now spin a full 360 degrees which makes it a lot easier to get the setting you want faster. However, HDR Backlight Control, Handheld NIght Scene, and Night Portrait no longer have their own place on the dial, and must be selected with the screen/buttons and wheels once you are in scene mode.
  • The grip is the same comfy feel, but has been fixed so that it will no longer cause allergic reactions or turn white as some of the T4i grips shockingly did. The body overall is a bit more robust, and has a grainier texture making it more like a professional DSLR.


Canon has put out another great camera in the T_i series. They went back and fixed mistakes that were made in the T4i, making it an even better camera. If you have a T4i that you are happy with, the T5i will not be a worthwhile upgrade. If you do not have a camera of the same level as the T5i and want to jump into the prosumer barrel, it is up to you to decide whether the updates in the T5i are worth the extra $100 on your budget, and buy the T5i instead of the T4i. Regardless, definitely take a look at the new STM lens!




Hands On Review of The Nikon D7100 (VIDEO)

We met up with Nathaniel Johnston, the owner of NJohnston Photography, for an hour and recorded him as he shot with the Nikon D7100. He shares his thoughts on the new camera in this video.

Nikon D7100

Below are a few facts that Nathaniel shared with us that didn’t make it to the video:

Onboard Audio

The D7100 has onboard Stereo Microphones which capture better audio than most DSLR cameras have currently. There is also a headphone port so that you can monitor sound while recording.

Recording Video

The AF tracking mode while recording video becomes useless, it is really just for still shots. However, the quality of the film is good and has a great dynamic range.

The Kit Lens

The 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S Nikkor Lens is light and steady with good VR. All in all, it’s a good value for the money.

So should you get a D7100?

The Nikon D7100 is not a replacement for the D7000. Rather, it is meant to be alongside it as the Flagship model in the DX format range. So, if you are looking to level up to a higher level DSLR, definitely give the D7100 consideration. If you already have a high power DSLR, the 7100 is a great camera to consider as a secondary or backup camera to add to your arsenal.


Long Exposure Photography with Point and Shoot Cameras


 The Theme of this week’s photo contest is long exposure photography! Click here for more details.

Don’t be discouraged from long exposure photography just because you don’t have a DSLR camera! Yes, you probably won’t be able to capture the quintessential flowing waterfall photo, but there are many other ways to utilize long exposures!

Does your camera let you change exposure time? ISO?  If not, does it have a “fireworks” or “night time” scene setting? If the answer is yes to any of the above, you can take long exposure photos with  your camera. We used a Sony Cyber-shot WX80 to take the following photos, but any camera of the same level should work fine.

These first photos we did by putting the Camera on manual and adjusting the ISO. Then we turned the light off, lit a match, and captured the trails of light as we waved it in front of the camera. *NOTE: all photos aside from the “ISO 100, taken with tripod” were taken without using a tripod. We did so for the expediency of creating this blog post, and apologize for the hypocrisy. We still highly suggest using a tripod when shooting long exposures! (However, as you can see it is not the end of the world if you do not have one.)

ISO100 (2)  ISO100

ISO 100 (Taken without Tripod)

iso100tripod2 iso100tripod

ISO 100, Taken with Tripod (much sharper! use a tripod!)

These next two photos were taken by putting the camera on “Fireworks” scene setting: fireworks (2) fireworks

Finally, we tried the “Nighttime” setting:

twilight (2) twilight

As you can see, the coloring changed slightly with the different settings. We suggest you explore them on your camera and find out which one you like best. The scene might not be named “fireworks” or “nighttime”, but any “low light” scene setting will lower the ISO. ISO of 60-100 is ideal, but if your camera cannot go that low try experimenting with its lowest possible setting. Below we have some examples of photos with higher ISO’s:

ISO3400 (2) iso12800

ISO 3400                                                                                                 ISO 12,800

As you can see, the higher the ISO, the more light in the picture, but also more noise. Also, remember to disable your flash if you are shooting at night.

So, time to pull out your point and shoot, and see what it can do! If you are interested in learning more about long exposure photography, or have a DSLR and want to try it at the next level, we liked this article of 8 Tips For Long Exposure Photography from Digital Photography School. It talks about neutral density filters and DSLR settings and timing.

Happy photographing!


Natural Light Photography: Bioluminescence



Japanese photographer Tsuneaki Hiramatsu took these slow shutter and multi-exposure composites of fireflies in Japan during the mating season (end of May through July) when they come out in large numbers and blink their lights to find a mate. It is a natural light made from a chemical reaction in the insects abdomen.

He used a Nikon D800 to capture these beautiful and surreal photographs. To see more of his work look at the Digital Photo Blog, or his portfolio.


The theme of our weekly photo contest this week is natural light! To see more about it go here:


What Makes the “Golden Hour” Magic?


The “Golden Hour” is a term used by photographers for the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset when light is especially conducive to beautiful pictures. During sunrise and sunset, when the sun is near or below the horizon, its light has to travel through more of the earth’s atmosphere before it reaches you. This decreases the intensity of direct sunlight, and so it is more balanced with the indirect light coming from the sky, creating less glare spots or shadows on your subjects. Think of it as being in a studio, and using only one 1500 Watt diffused light (midday sun), vs. using a 1000 Watt and a 500 watt diffused light (Golden Hour).

Stuckincustoms The Golden Horse in Iceland by Trey Ratcliff

The “golden” or softer orange and red tones come from the light being more diffused by traveling through more of the atmosphere before it reaches your eyes. Purple and Blue light have short wavelengths and scatter over the longer distance, while colors with longer wavelengths like reds and oranges continue on their way and are seen the most during sunrise and sunset.

Sandy ReddingJoshua Tree at Sunset by Sandy Redding

There are many factors that affect how long the golden hour in any given location might last. Locations far from the equator where during certain seasons the sun never fully rises, the golden hour can last all day. Locations closer to the equator where the sun makes a complete arc year round will have a shorter golden hour.

Bagan-by-Martin-Sojka Bagan Balloons, Mynamar by Martin Sojka

So if you are an early riser, wake up and explore the sunrise with your camera. If you like to sleep in, pay attention to when the sun sets in your location, and plan to head out and photograph then. Shooting during the golden hour doesn’t ensure amazing photographs, but it is a great way to test your creativity and learn more about light!