The Digital Photo Guy

New Model (NSFW)

by on Jan.25, 2018, under gear, Lightroom, Monday Morning Tips, Photo Editing, Photos, Workshops

The Camera Loves Emily (contains nudity)

I met Emily last summer and was impressed with her intelligence, drive and “girl next door” good looks. I felt she had the qualities of an excellent model. Our first shoot was themed “Monsoon” where I wanted photos of Emily in a monsoonal rain, drenched from head to toe. As you can see, that idea was a bust. Our shoot was on a beautiful day with nary a cloud in sight. I did, however, get a chance to see Emily’s cute, adventurous nature mixed with her quick mind.

Last week, I invited Emily to participate in a nude shoot at Red Bench Photography Studio in Jerome, AZ which is owned by one of my favorite models, Zushka Biros. Being so new to the world of modeling, I was expecting her to be shy, tentative and/or nervous about posing nude. To my surprise, Emily jumped in with both feet and an enthusiastic, “I’m in!

Emily turned out to be fearless in following directions as well as contributing her own ideas. And, the camera loves her. With new models, I’m lucky to get 5% good images; with Emily, I’ve identified over 50 good images and 15 or more great images. I’m still working on the rest so stay tuned for more of Emily in the near future.

All the photos were made with a Pentax K-1 and Pentax D FA 24-70/2.8 and processed in Adobe Lightroom Classic.

Spring Fling Photo Extravaganza 2018

Speaking of the near future, Emily will be one of the models at Red Bench Photography’s Spring Fling Photo Extravaganza Workshop on April 27-29 at the Jerome studio. I can’t emphasize enough the studio’s beautiful light and artistic ambiance. I’ll be leading several sections on bodyscapes. You’ll have the opportunity to book time with the models to practice what you learn. Check it out and register soon because space is limited and there’s a huge discount for the first registrants.



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Pentax K1 Images

by on Jan.01, 2018, under Articles, gear, Lightroom, Monday Morning Tips

Enough Talk, Finally Some Photos

I finally have enough experience with the K1 to make real photos. These aren’t controlled tests where I capture two photos under the same conditions with the K1 and 5D MkII and compare them side by side. If that’s what you want, click HERE. Be sure to select the appropriate cameras from the drop down menus.

In Feb 201, I had the opportunity to photograph two models, one in a studio and the other outdoors using natural light. For both shoots I primarily used the Pentax K1 although I made some shots with the Canon 5DII. In the studio, I controlled a pair of Yongnuo YN685C with a Yongnuo YN560-TX manual flash controller.

Here are a few of my favorites. In the studio, I stayed with my favorite genre of B&W bodyscapes but followed the model’s lead on some of her ideas.

This was the first time I’d worked with this model so it took a while to get into sync with each other. She’s an excellent model who isn’t afraid to give feedback on my directions.

The 2nd model is someone I’ve previously worked with several times. For her shoot, I asked some friends to use their property. This series was all natural light with a little help from a reflector.

Sometimes, it’s difficult to see minor differences in photos resized for the web but I believe the Pentax K1 advantage is significant. If not, you’ll have to take my word on it until you can get your hands on a K1 to see for yourself.

The next thing I want to evaluate is Pentax K1 Pixel Shift technology. The hold up is the search for a better RAW converter than the included Pentax SilkyPix processor. Right now, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom does an acceptable job but Adobe has made it clear they don’t intend to put anymore effort into it. I’m also reviewing RAWTherapee and Affinity Photo but neither has gotten much of a workout up to now.

It’s Been an Exciting Summer

My main laptop was bricked by a Microsoft update at the beginning of summer. Being on the road, it was difficult to get anything done so I simply put the blog on a backburner until I got home. Upon my return home, I discovered my Epson 7800 had croaked and I no longer had the capability to print 24″ wide prints. Of course, I had a stack of print orders to be printed so I ran around like a chicken without a head. In the process, I met a fellow who had just installed a Canon 44″ imagePROGRAF PRO-4000.This was fortuitous since I had been thinking of jumping ship to Canon. After creating ICC profiles using an X-Rite ColorMunki Photo, I was able to turn out prints very close to what I was getting from the Epson. I’m now slowly getting back to where I was in April 2017. I hope to get this blog back on schedule by mid-January. Thanks for reading.


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Pentax K1 Wireless Manual Flash

by on Mar.15, 2017, under Articles, gear, Monday Morning Tips

It Works, It Works! Yongnuo Flash with Pentax

I used a Yongnuo YN560-TX flash controller on a Pentax K1 to control two Yongnuo YN685C (Canon E-TTL) flashes and it worked like a charm. I also took a moment to add a Canon 580EX II in the mix and it worked as well. Two older non-TTL flashes also work fine as “dumb” flashes, i.e. I have to walk over to the unit to adjust power & zoom instead of dialing in adjustments from the controller. In the future, those will be replaced with more YN flashes.

A major concern when I upgraded to a Pentax K1 was flash, specifically, I didn’t want to buy all new flashes and controllers. For Canon systems, my Yongnuo YN685C flashes, Canon 580EX II and 2 older, “dumb” flashes all talked to the YN622C-TX controller. I wasn’t sure how this would work with the Pentax K1.

Fortunately, Yongnuo was looking out for me when they developed the YN560-TX. Notice, it doesn’t have a “C” in the model number denoting Canon compatibility. The YN560-TX is a universal controller that works with most Yongnuo devices. To control YN-685C flashes, I simply set the YN560-TX to the YN603 mode. That allows me to adjust power from 1/1 (Full power) all the way down to 1/128 and Zoom from 24mm to 105mm and works for both Yongnuo and Canon E-TTL flashes.

The signal from the YN560-TX is sent directly to the YN685C flash which are set to 603 Mode. When I make adjustments to the power and zoom on the YN560-TX, the commands are automatically received. With Canon flashes, I attach a YN622C receiver to the flash (580EX-II in this case) and turn on the YN622C-TX controller. The signal from the YN560-TX is relayed to the Canon flash via the YN622C-TX controller. The advantage is that controls on the YN560-TX allow me to wirelessly control power and zoom on each flash. I don’t have to walk over to each flash to adjust power or zoom settings.

If I add more YN or Canon flashes, the YN560-TX is capable of controlling up to 6 groups of 16 channels each for a total of 96 flashes, enough to fry an egg and crisp bacon. YN also has the “N” series for, wait for it… Nikon. For manual flash, which is the only way to go, the YN controllers and flash will work with virtually any camera system that has a standard hot shoe.

The only nit is a Pentax issue, not a YN problem. In flash mode, Pentax only allows shutter speeds up to the maximum flash sync speed, which, for the K1 is 1/200 second. That means 3rd party HSS or SuperSync can’t be used. Bummer. However, YN has just announced a flash for Pentax P-TTL. In a year or two, we should see full P-TTL controllers that, hopefully, fool Pentax cameras into HSS.



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Gotchas When Changing Camera Systems

by on Feb.03, 2017, under Articles, gear, Lightroom, Monday Morning Tips

Things to Consider When Moving to a New Camera System

Changing camera systems is much more involved than it appears on the surface. If you read my previous article about upgrading from a Canon 5D Mark II to a Pentax K1, you might think all I considered were the technical specifications. In this post, I’ll cover some of my other considerations such as lenses, accessories, flash and, even, software.

Lenses – The Soul of a Camera

All things being equal, a good camera with a mediocre lens will never be as good as a mediocre camera with an outstanding lens. Canon has many outstanding lenses. Pentax has fewer but just as outstanding lenses. If you’re a professional photographer who needs to cover a wide range of of focal lengths, Canon is your best bet. However, advanced amateurs usually only need 6-10 lenses at most. Over the last few years, my “go-to” Canon lens has been the 24-105/4L. The Pentax 24-70/2.8D FA nicely fills that range. In addition, a $15.95  adapter lets me mount two excellent 50 year old manual focus lenses, a Pentax Super Takumar 55/1.8 and a Tele-Lentar 135/3.5. That pretty much covers my lens needs for the Pentax at this time.

Flash – Third Parties Rule

If you use flash a lot, things can get a bit messy but the Speedlite gods were looking out for me. Flash is not Pentax’s strong suit and, as far as I can tell, there aren’t many 3rd party flash systems for Pentax. Canon, on the other hand, has a powerful and sophisticated Speedlite system with many 3rd party products.

A few years ago, I decided to go with a Chinese Yongnuo (YN) knock-off Canon systems. Today, I have just one Canon flash left in my stable, everything else is YN685. Of course, YN doesn’t make Pentax flashes as the market is too small. But, it turns out YN makes a manual flash controller for their Canon compatible flashes. So, a YN560-TX controller on my Pentax gives me full manual wireless control over my YN685 flashes. The controller manages all the YN flashes while the Pentax only issues a trigger. Of course, there’s no Pentax P-TTL mode but that’s not a problem for me since I never use TTL. In other words, I set the flash power via the controller and, when the shutter is released, the Pentax tells the system to fire, easy peasy. If all this sounds confusing, drop a comment and I’ll explain further.

Filters – Bigger is OK, Smaller is a PITA

The only filters I use are Circular Polarizer (CP,) InfraRed (IR) and Graduated Neutral Density (GradND.) The biggest front element on my current lenses is 77mm. Unfortunately, the Pentax 24-70/D FA has an 82mm front element so I need bigger filters. I can put bigger filters on smaller lenses but not the other way. Good filters (B+W, Hoya) from B&H cost about $125 each so add another $375. This stuff adds up in a hurry.

Thanks for the Memories!

I have a stack of Compact Flash (CF) cards for my Canon system. The Pentax uses SD cards. In fact, the K1 has two card slots. I don’t have to put in two cards but files can be written to both slots at the same time for redundancy so I want two cards. Granted memory cards aren’t all that expensive these days but four cards at $20 each is another $80.

Juice, aka Batteries

The Pentax K1 D-Li109 battery seems to have good battery life but per Murphy’s Law, batteries always die at the most inopportune moment. No photographer ventures into the field without spare batteries. At $50 each, that’s another $100 or so.

Software Can Cause Hard Problems

There are the usual update issues such as Adobe Camera RAW lag for new camera support but the usual workaround is using the manufacturer’s software. Bigger issues with cameras like the Pentax K1 involve new features that Adobe hasn’t yet fully implemented. Pixel Shift Resolution (PSR) falls into this category. Adobe Lightroom doesn’t really know what to do with PSR files. LR6 recognizes and can process PSR files but many report it’s not a great implementation. I haven’t yet used PSR to any degree so I can’t really say but if that’s the case, my workflow will suffer until Adobe catches up.

A lesser problem is Tethered Capture which requires a Pentax (Ricoh) plug-in for LR. It doesn’t offer the full range of controls but it’s a serviceable workaround. I use tethered shooting for studio work.

Upgrade Path to the Future

For me, this is a biggie. My next upgrade will be to Medium Format (MF.) With Hasselblad’s management woes adding to the company’s uncertainties and potential instabilities, I want a known, (somewhat) stable upgrade path. From a Pentax K1, the MF path is the Pentax 645Z, an outstanding 50MP MF with large, beautiful 5.3 micron pixels. Also, many K1 accessories will work with the 645Z.

There are rumors that Canon will introduce MF after the 5DS/R but that’s just a rumor. The Pentax 645Z is a proven winner and will be that much better by the time Canon releases a MF. Bottom line, I want a known path, not a “potential” rumor. The only downside to a 645Z, at this time, is the $7000 price tag. I’m betting the price will drop in the future.

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Pentax K1 dSLR with 24-70/2.8 Lens

by on Jan.29, 2017, under Articles, gear, Monday Morning Tips

Why I Upgraded to Pentax K1 over Canon 5DS R

After nearly 20 years shooting Canon, I recently ordered a Pentax K1 from B&H. It was a tough decision considering what I have invested in Canon, not only in terms of lenses and gear, but also time and effort mastering the Canon system. Originally, I had assumed I would upgrade to a 50 megapixel Canon 5DS or 5DS R but, the more I studied my choices, the more the Pentax K1 appealed to me. I don’t intend to stop using my Canon gear but the Pentax K1 could become my “go to” kit until Canon either catches up or I dive fully into the Pentax ecosystem. Something old Pentax shooters will appreciate is that Pentax still builds cameras like the old days, resembling Cold War era Soviet tanks. In other words, this ain’t no dainty foo-foo camera for dilettantes.

Pentax K1 w/24-70 f/2.8 D FA

After selling my last APS-C body (Canon 7D) I wanted a replacement for my aging Canon 5D Mark II for high resolution fine art reproduction as well as an all around, general purpose camera. The Canon 5DS/R with 50.6 megapixels seemed a logical choice. It produces nearly 2.4 times more pixels (50.6 vs 21.1) than the 5D Mark II while the Pentax K1 has 1.73 times as many (36.4.) However, pixel pitch (photosite size) is actually smaller, 4.14 microns vs 4.88 microns. Pixel pitch is important because it determines the number of photons (light particles) each photosite (4 photosites produce one pixel) can capture. This, in turn, affects the quality of the image in terms of noise. If you want to print larger photos, like the large art reproductions I print, you need bigger, better and more pixels. The Pentax K1’s 4.88 micron photosites are nearly 20% larger than the Canon 5DS/R although still smaller than my old 21.1 megapixel 5D MkII. (For brevity sake, this has been VERY simplified.)

The second most important feature for me was PSR technology (pixel shift resolution,) enabled by Sensor Shift in the K1. Remember I said earlier 4 photosites make up 1 pixel? That’s because each photosite captures one color, red, blue or 2 greens. With PSR, Pentax has designed a system for shifting the sensor to capture each photosite 4 times then combining them in camera to produce one super clean pixel. In simplistic terms, this can be equated to a 145 megapixel sensor (36.4×4.) (Again, super simplified.)

If super clean, high resolution (low noise, sharp) images were all it did, Sensor Shift would still be worth it but the technology has several additional advantages. With a Canon 5DS/R, I had to make a choice between the 5DS with an anti-aliasing (AA) filter, aka LPF (low pass filter) or the 5DS R without an LPF. Once the decision is made, there’s no going back other than to buy another $3K camera body. The K1 sensor doesn’t have an LPF (for maximum sharpness) but can use Sensor Shift technology to simulate an LPF. When I want an LPF such as while photographing fine art on canvas where the weave might cause moiré patterns, I can turn on LPF, for the rest of the time, I turn off LPF for maximum sharpness.

Sensor Shift technology also lends itself to in-body-image-stabilization (IBIS.) Most IS (image stabilization) systems including Canon are in-lens. That means only IS lenses are stabilized. With IBIS, I can use any of my old Pentax manual lenses from the 60s and 70s and still gain the advantages of image stabilization.

Sensor Shift also allows Astrotracer mode which, in conjunction with an integrated GPS, automatically shifts the sensor to keep up with celestial body movement for astrophotography. This isn’t important to me but can be very useful for amateur astronomers and star gazers.

Finally, Sensor Shift can automatically adjust slanted horizons up to 2 degrees. That may not sound like much but tilt one of your landscape images by 2 degrees and you’ll see that it’s significant. Sure, you can adjust it in post but, if the camera will take care of it in-camera, that’s one less thing to futz with. So, all told, Sensor Shift offers five useful advantages.

Now, add in the fact that the K1 has an integrated GPS, wifi, intervalometer, a very cool articulating LCD and built-in “flashlights” to quickly find controls in the dark for $1847, approximately 50% less than a Canon 5DS/R and the choice was a no-brainer. 

Here are some links to articles and reviews that I used to make my decision:

Official Ricoh Imaging Pentax K1 specs.

Lloyd Chambers is an admitted fanboy but his article is a good place to start your research.

Lloyd Chambers has a list of other Pentax K1 articles on his site.

Pentax Forums has a 26 page review covering the K1.

A good summary of what Pentax Forums considers the 10 Unique Features of the K1.

DPReview’s 10 page review of the K1.

DxO calls the K1 sensor a “Full Frame Marvel

Here is DxO’s complete test results (dry, boring, techie stuff.)

For more reviews, check Luminous Landscape, Imaging Resource and PetaPixel. These are my top sites for relatively unbiased reviews free of “fanboy gushtafications” (unsupported gushing to curry favor of manufacturers.)

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