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Why Mirrorless?

In my previous post, I mentioned that I had switched from a DSLR to a mirrorless camera. In this post, I'm going to walk you through my reasoning for doing so.

In June, I switched from Canon's crop sensor DSLRs to a Sony a7riii. There are a few main considerations that influenced my choice to do so:

  • More Compact and Lighter

  • Full Frame Format

  • Adapting From 3rd Party Lenses

  • Future-Proofing

More Compact and Lighter

When you live in a country like Singapore, it's perfectly normal to get the travel bug. Exploring new places is always something to look forward to. When I started photography, carrying one camera body and one lens was easy enough to stuff into a bag, or just keep on hand. As I started experiencing the well known phenomenon of GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome), it started to get more difficult to travel with all the camera equipment I wanted to. 

Then came the advent of the mirrorless camera. It had been around for a while now, but it was finally accepted as a proper tool rather than a gimmick. The smaller body allowed my to fit more stuff into a camera bag than every before. Furthermore, the light weight allowed me to lug around more equipment. Some of you will note that mirrorless lenses are longer than DSLR lenses, as you can't disobey the rules of optics. However, my main struggle was packing the large DSLR body, which was an awkwardly thick and tall shape. The lenses can simply be placed vertically to maximise space.

Full Frame Format

My previous camera bodies were all crop sensor cameras. For those of you who don't know, crop sensor cameras have a smaller image sensor. This has a few major effects:

  • Typically better Dynamic Range

  • Typically better low light performance

  • Better Depth Of Field when using equivalent focal lengths and the same aperture


Obviously, a full frame camera has very different applications than a crop sensor camera. What drew me to this mirrorless system was that I could get a full frame mirrorless that was smaller than my crop sensor DSLR. Even if I didn't switch to a mirrorless camera, I was planning to eventually transition to a full frame system. The Sony packed so many features into one body, that it made more sense to jump ship from Canon to Sony in order to get them.

Adapting 3rd Party Lenses

Sony themselves said that it was possible for the end user to adapt lenses to their system. This is a great feature of practically all Mirrorless cameras: the short flange distance allows you to add back some distance to adapt lenses. This meant that I could still use my Canon lenses on my Sony body.

However, the autofocus performance was sufficiently bad that I transferred to Sony's own glass. The reason I am still interested in adapting is that Sony is still building up its lens selection over time. Since I can adapt other, very specialised, lenses, I have a greater lens selection than any single DSLR company can offer.

Future Proofing

The switch to a mirrorless market is inevitable. It may not be in five year, or even ten years. But I am sure that it will happen eventually. By switching now, I can benefit from the innovation that mirrorless bodies are incorporating now. Some of these amazing new features are:

  • Pixel-Shift: This shifts the sensor 4 times to gain much more RGB data per pixel than any single photo can hope to. This, in theory, increases detail, and colour reproduction.

  • Electrical Viewfinder: Now that I've used this, I can't imagine going back to a regular Optical Viewfinder. The electrical viewfinder can simulate the final image that will be produced, it can zoom to aid with manual focus whilst also providing peaking, and it can display the full menus and settings that the camera is using.

  • Augmented Video Recording: Now, this is not necessarily exclusive to mirrorless cameras, but some of the best still+video Interchangeable Lens Cameras are mirrorless cameras (Fuji xt-3, Sony a7sII, etc.). The fact that the cameras have the ability to oversample the footage to reproduce cleaner colours and detail is a big sell for people who want to take videos and photos in tandem.


Maybe some of these innovations will make their way to DSLRs over time, but they are available on mirrorless systems now, which allows me to be ahead of the curve. Additionally, DSLR giants Canon and Nikon have recently released their first attempts at a mirrorless system.

Conclusion

So, this is a whole lot more information than one of my posts typically contains, and it completely lacks any pictures. However, I felt that this would be interesting to explain why I would make such a drastic switch, and maybe even help some of you readers learn a bit more about Mirrorless ILCs.

Ankit KumarComment
Changes

Well, It’s Been a While

Its been really long since I last updated this blog, and a lot's happened since then. What follows is a quick run down in some of the major changes that have happened regarding my photography.

  1. I was twice highly honoured by Nature's Best Photography Asia (and you can see those photos and the description on their site here: http://www.naturesbestphotography.asia/en/gallery/) 

  2. I have taken the plunge, and switched to a mirrorless. This obviously represents a big change, and there will be an upcoming post on why I chose to do so. Suffice it to say, there were significant benefits provided by the mirrorless system that I didn't have on my DSLR.

  3. I have diversified my portfolio even more; I've done more videos, and I've been doing a lot of print work

Videos?

I'm glad you asked! A lot of people these days understand that videos are simply a sequence of pictures. However, the way that one edits the photos is very different from videos. I've had to undergo a lot of learning in order to learn how to make videos the way that I do. I enjoy using Adobe Premiere, as it doesn't have a very steep learning curve. Some things are very similar though, such as exposure controls and Lumetri colour. 

I mostly do timelapse videos, as it allows me to maintain a lot of control over my camera. Before I actually start to understand shooting video, taking photos and them stitching them into videos is a nice way to bridge the two. You can find a lot of my timelapse videos on my instagram (@Ankitohmatix), and there'll be some more in depth posts about said videos. In the meantime, check out the videos below:

Prints

In this age of digital photography, it is quite easy to share your photos over the internet, and quickly send it to someone. The portability of keeping a picture on your phone to share it with others is so convenient!

However, there is a certain satisfaction that can only be achieved through seeing your photos in print. The ability to see your work in a physical form provides some unique characteristics. The light bouncing off of the deep colours makes it look much nicer than . simple screen could ever hope to.

I produced a series of prints to help support my charity that I run (you can visit us at www.wayto.help, or by clicking the button below). At first, we managed to coordinate with a local restaurant that agreed to host a gallery evening. Afterwards, the photos hung in the Singapore American Club for two months. 

This lead me to create my own page for prints! You can visit it by clicking the button below, or by visiting the Prints page on this website. The store is quite new, and will continue to be updated with more photos that you can buy. There are a variety of mediums on offer, and if you enjoyed the photos on this site or my blog, it is a great way to have a nice little keepsake, or even a gift now that the season of giving is approaching!

Ankit KumarComment
Lunar Eclipse

In my post about my photography in Singapore, I said that I was going to attempt to take some photos of the lunar eclipse on January 31. When I got my stuff all ready to go, the weather didn't look promising to say the least: rain pouring down, the occasional flash of thunder. Not the best weather to be lugging around a massive lens and a tripod. Just as the sun was setting, I had lost hope. I had already gone to spot that I had planned before, but the rain wasn't letting up. However, I was lucky enough to already be at the right spot when the rain stopped, which meant that I didn't have to waste any time getting set up. This allowed me to make the mosaic of all the phases of the eclipse that you can see below:

I also wanted to capture the moon rising above the skyline. Unfortunately, due to error in my planning, I overshot by a bit. Despite that, I still managed to capture the following video of the moon rising over the Singapore Flyer:

Anyway, that's all for my eclipse. I really hope that you enjoyed this post, and I hope you come back to see what new content I have! 

Ankit KumarComment
Singapore Skyline

I used to never take photos in Singapore. All that I used to think Singapore photos were  just portrait and street shots. One day, I saw a beautiful intro to a youtube video taken from the waterfront in the Singaporean CBD. That gave me the idea to take a photo from the CBD; however, I didn't want to just copy someone else. I flew my drone as high as I thought safe (it was a windy day), and stitched together my photos to make a massive photo:

After I had taken the photos that I would then turn into a panorama, I brought the drone back to the ground, and switched out the batteries before taking off again once the sun had fully set. When there was no sunlight, and the water reflected the lights from the skyscrapers, it looked absolutely beautiful. When I got home, I combined several shots together to reduce the shakiness of the pictures, to create the following photo:

In the future, I'm really looking forward to photographing the upcoming lunar eclipse from Singapore, and I will post my results on here!

Ankit KumarComment
Underwater Photography

What’s so great about it?

Well, being underwater is special itself; whenever I go diving, that weightless feeling and the unique surroundings are completely wonderful things to experience in your life time. It's so amazing that mankind has managed to find a way to search the endless oceans, and see a whole other world.

So, how are the photos?

When I started diving, I saw the raw, natural beauty of the ocean. I saw sharks lazily gliding through the water, moray eels poking their heads out of crevices, turtles propelling themselves through the water with the current and giant schools of fish diving and swarming in a horde. I wanted to be able to capture what I saw, and show others the real beauty of the ocean. 

 The first time I used the camera, I was doing my PADI Sea Turtle Awareness Speciality. This meant that I had to catch up to turtles, and take a photo of the side of their face. Fun Fact: the side of a turtle's face has a unique pattern that can be used to identify that individual, like a fingerprint. I dove under the waves, and spent a day looking for turtles and photographing them. Most of the turtles were hawksbill, and had very dirty shells. I was beginning to lose hope of seeing a green turtle: the type of turtle with a beautiful, patterned shell. Then, as I had only 70 PSI remaining in my tank (50 PSI means that you are low on air, and you have to surface ASAP), this green turtle appeared from behind us, and allowed me to take this shot before carrying on into the infinite blue. We then surfaced, and headed home for the day.

The next day, we travelled to a different dive site, one which was famed for how many different types of fish coexisted in one area. As soon as I dived down, I noticed the large amounts of anemones. Then, I noticed this little guy, curiously looking at me, and I decided to snap a picture. The reason why clownfish live in anemones is because they are immune to the sting from several species of anemones, and they can be protected from predators. 

Then, I went swimming along the reef, with the current. I stopped for a second, and then this school of yellow fusiliers swam around me, creating a tunnel effect. It was truly a great experience to see all these fish slowly swimming around me while I floated in place. 

After seeing that, I continued along the reef. Then, I felt a tapping on my shoulder. I turned around, and my dive buddy pointed at a fever of eagle rays that were travelling up the reef. Eagle rays are generally very shy creatures, and the fact that they let me swim close enough to them to take this photo was very special. I watched them slowly glide away, and over the reef. We then had to surface, and go back.

That was my last dive there, and they I headed home the next day.

Would I do it again?

In a heartbeat! It was so amazing to see these beautiful sights, experience the majesty and wonderful setting that the ocean provides. More than that, diving was very calming, and I never wanted to leave the water. If I get another chance to do it again soon, I'll take the chance over almost anything else, hands down.

Ankit KumarComment
Update

What’s Been Happening?

A lot, as it happens, although I haven't posted in a long time. I've won Travel Photographer Of The Year (TPOTY) in the Under-14 category. I've been playing around with computer editing and am focused more on the composition of my photos rather than the subject. 

To see the award-winning photos and the new videos, read on!

TPOTY

The category that I won was Young Travel Photographer of the Year - 14 and under - Places & Experiences. Following is an excerpt for the judges opinion of my photos:

For such a young photographer and one who is still in his first year of photography, Ankit’s portfolio is remarkably accomplished. Photographed at Lake Natron in Tanzania, these images capture the scale and beauty of this place, giving us an insight into the relationship between this unusual environment and the flamingos which visit it.
— TPOTY Judging Panel

Editing

I've been using a lot of photo editing programs in the past: I use Adobe Lightroom as a versatile editing tool, but I use Photoshop if I need to edit a photo extensively. Here's an example of Panorama that I created in Photoshop:

It's a photo of Lake Tahoe, California taken at night with all the city lights reflecting off the water. The little red lines in the sky are the lights from planes flying by.

I've started dabbling in HD filming, so I use Adobe After Effects to clean a video up. If I need to edit the video (hue, saturation, brightness, etc.) I use a free program called DaVinci Resolve. I'm recording videos in 60 frames per second to create a smooth transition so I don't miss anything. Here's an example of a video that I stabilised in After Effects and edited in DaVinci Resolve (I reduced the quality so that I could upload it):

Subject VS Composition

If you recall, the TPOTY judges said that my images capture the scale and beauty of Lake Natron, instead of the flamingos. In the pictures that I submitted, my focus was mainly on the flamingos, but the judges picked up on the contrast between the Lake, the Mountain and the bank, showing me that the composition outweighs the subject. How good a photo really depends on how well it's composed, not what it's on. I often see everyday scenes that look amazing depending on the colour, lighting and that undefinable extra element: a bird, a lone tree, beads on a necklace, the print on a t-shirt. It's possible to find beauty in anything. The ability to incorporate the distinctive features of the image is what makes a good photo, even when shooting everyday subjects.

Ankit KumarComment