2018 has seen some of the most wonderful and significant changes in the world of photography in the past decade. From the reintroduction of silver-based film to the major camera brands offering mirrorless, interchangeable lens cameras, to super telephoto lenses one-third the weight of traditional long lenses at half the length, photography is evolving!
Adobe’s Photoshop CC, long the emperor of post-processing software, has a dozen rivals pounding down its door. Among those are: Luminar, Affinity, On1, Dx0 Photolab2, Aurora, Nikon Capture NX-i and more. And while Adobe is doing its best to maintain the customer base by going to subscription only, many competitors are offering their products at a one-time charge for comparable technology and features.
Cell phone and tablet camera and editing apps and accessories have brought pocketable technology well out of the wannabe category into the realm of genuine photography. Olloclip and Moment are just two of several add-on lenses for cell phones and tablets, offering focal lengths from fish-eye to telephoto, the longer lengths giving far better definition than using the “spread-the-fingers” digital zoom. Several new apps, such as Halide, Hydra, Camera Pro and others enable outputting images in the RAW format. Many editing apps for mobile devices now allow RAW post-processing, including Snapseed for cells and tablets, and Affinity Photo for tablets. Adobe is rumored to have a full-blown Photoshop CC app coming out soon as well.
From this photographer’s vantage, one of the most incredible advances in telephoto lens design is the use of Phase Fresnel technology. Nikon has recently introduced two telephoto lenses employing Phase Fresnel glass elements in a 300mm lens and a 500mm lens. Whether for bird and wildlife photography and/or shooting sports, lugging around lenses of those two very useful focal lengths usually requires a monopod, at least for the 500. The PF (Phase Fresnel) 300mm is 1.5 lbs. lighter than the f/2.8 300mm, and the 500mm is a full 3.2 lbs. lighter than the 500mm f/4. Both lenses give up a full f/stop at f/4 for the 300PF and f/5.6 for the 500PF, but today’s cameras have the capability of using far higher ISOs than just a few years ago.
The savings in both weight and cost is astonishing. Carrying the 500mm PF for birds, and a cell phone with add-on lenses, and shooting with an app that outputs RAW makes for a very enjoyable outing of several miles on foot without feeling as if one’s arms are about to fall off. This combination provides coverage from landscapes to creatures well in the distance.
A veritable smorgasbord of technology and image-capturing devices are available today. If you love the wonderful world of photography, whether for family, nature, sports, travel or fine art, you owe it to yourself to sample the latest.