Know Your Nikon Z Series Mirrorless Camera (Z7 & Z6)

Nikon Z Series

The Nikon Z7, along with its faster and less expensive little brother the Nikon Z6, has the same great Nikon feel and handling what we love before mirrorless form. They have all the usual Nikon controls in the usual places.
The Z7 & Z6 has a full-frame sensor in a camera that weighs less than a DX D7500, and are built like a tank to the same standards as the Nikon D850. It has hybrid phase & contrast detection auto focus over at least 90% of the frame (no one needs 100% AF coverage), which is the same as the entire frame. No one wants to put a point of interest on the edge of a frame.
Nikon developed new Z mount for their full frame mirrorless interchangeable lens camera and they looks toward the future with the new Nikon Z mount. This is huge milestone for Nikon. Without a doubt, the Nikon full frame mirrorless system is one of the most highly anticipated releases in Nikon’s history. Nikon’s first 35mm camera was Nikon S rangefinder system of 1946, there first SLR was the Nikon F of 1959 that was the world’s first hugely popular SLR system, and the world’s first real PRO level DSLR was the Nikon D1 of 1999. Nikon announced their new Z mount on the occasion of Nikon’s 100th anniversary. This is the biggest thing done by Nikon in this millennium. Nikon developed new PRO level ‘S Line’ of lenses for Z Mount Mirrorless Cameras. Good news is that, Nikon also developed FTZ lens mount adapter so that you can use all your F-mount lenses from 1959 to current digital era.

Now that Nikon India has started to delivery both the Nikon Z6 and the Z7 mirrorless cameras, it is time for us to take a closer look at these cameras and go through some most important features. Existing Nikon shooters might be wondering whether it is worth moving to the new system or not. In this article, we will explore all the key features of the Nikon Z cameras in detail and see what they have to offer when compared to their DSLR counterparts.

Nikon Z6 and Z7: What’s the difference?
There are lots of similarities between the Nikon Z7 and the Nikon Z6. The cameras share the same body, same type EVF, display, buttons and weather sealing, but there are a few internal differences.

Z7 Z6_front

Image sensor
Both the Nikon Z6 & Z7 are equiped with a new Nikon designed full frame backside illumination CMOS sensor. The Z6 is equipped with a 24.5-megapixel full-frame sensor. The Z7 offers a new developed 45.7-megapixel full frame sensor. This higher-megapixel image sensor has a native ISO range of 64-25,600 and Z6 has native ISO range of 100-51,200. You can expect better resolving power from the Z7 and better high ISO performance from the Z6. The Z6 can produce 6048 X 4024 pixel image size and Z7 can produce 8256 X 5504 pixel image size. Nikon Z6 has low pass filter on its sensor to reduce moire effect and Nikon Z7 do not have low pass filter to resolve all capabilities of its high resolution sensor.

ISO
The Z6 have Native ISO Sensitivity of ISO 100 to ISO 51,200. Extended lower ISO limit is ISO 50 and higher limit is ISO 2,04,800. And the Z7 have Native ISO Sensitivity of ISO 64 to ISO 25,600. Extended lower ISO limit is ISO 32 and higher limit is ISO 1,02,400.

Autofocus
Autofocus points on both cameras are on-chip phase-detect. The Z6 offers 273 PDAF points and the Z7 has 493 PDAF points.

Speed
Both the Nikon Z6 and Z7 are powered by the new EXPEED 6 image processor. The Z6 is able to shoot at up to 12 FPS and Z7 at 9 FPS in “extended” mode. And Z6 can shoot only 9 FPS and Z7 only 8 FPS in 14-bit raw mode. But in extended mode the Z6 or Z7 will not track exposure. Exposure is locked at first frame of burst. If you want to track exposure for each frame, both Z6 & Z7 will give huge drop of FPS to 5.5.

Video
Hey guys i am not a video guy but for your information heare is some video capabilities of Nikon Z Series.

Both cameras can record in 4K/30,25,24p but the difference in sensor resolution will resulted in that the Z7 does full pixel readout in DX mode (APS-C) and line-skipping in full frame mode. In this way you get less sharpness and more noise at high ISOs with the use of full frame readout mode. The Z6 can deliver the highest quality in FX/full frame readout mode. For slow-motion video, both cameras can record in 1080/120p. Both cameras can not record slow motion in 4K.

The Nikon Z7 and Z6 can output 10-bit Log footage – called N-Log – over HDMI to an external recorder, very sadly both cameras can not record 10-bit N-Log footage on XQD card.

Price
The Z6 is less expensive and will be available at the retail price of ₹1,69,950.00 body only. The Z7 is more expensive at ₹2,69,950.00 body only.

New Nikon Z Mount

The new Nikon Z mount is 17% larger than its predecessor, thanks to its inner diameter of 55mm and a 16mm flange distance will allow Nikon to make lenses that were much more difficult to design with the Nikon F mount. Going forward, Nikon is and will work hard and keep on research and development in the Nikon Z mount. Nikon also declared the new Nikkor Z lens roadmap includes a number of great options from super wide-angle lenses such as the Nikkor Z 14-30mm f/4 to 70-200mm f/2.8 professional-grade lenses, as well as fast primes such as the Nikkor Z 58mm f/0.95 Noct and 50mm f/1.2. At the current pace, Nikon is planning to release 4-6 S lineup professional-grade lenses each year, the higher-end lenses for the Nikon Z system, as well as additional consumer-grade lenses. By lookint at following Lens Roadmap chart we will know that there will be 23 Nikkor Z lenses are planned till 2021.

z-mount-sensor

Screenshot (8)

Nikon’s First IBIS (In Body Image Stabilizer) Cameras

The Nikon Z6 and Z7 mirrorless cameras are the first in Nikon’s history to incorporate IBIS.

Screenshot (9)

Advantages of IBIS

Works with all lenses – this is the biggest advantage of IBIS. You can use any lens (those lenses are capable of sending the focal length & focal distance to the camera body), including older / third-party lenses and image stabilization will still work.

One time cost – you buy one camera with IBIS and all lenses will automatically get the benefit of image stabilization.

Smaller, lighter and cheaper lenses – because there is no image stabilization mechanism inside the lenses, they are smaller, lighter and cheaper to produce.

No disturbing loud lens sounds – some optically stabilized lenses produce high-pitch sound that will be disturbing. Lack of Image Stabilization means that the only sound you will hear from the lens is its autofocus motor. This is an advantage for recording videos without an external microphone.

IBIS is better for short focal length lenses, while in lens stabilization is better for telephoto lenses, because the longer the lens, the more the sensor has to move to compensate for the shake. The space for such sensor movements is limited, The true potential of stabilization is achieved when the two are combined and that’s exactly how Nikon is planning to roll out Nikon Z-series lenses in the future.

At this time all three Nikkor Z lenses that came out (24-70mm f/4, 35mm f/1.8 and 50mm f/1.8) do not have lens stabilization, because the camera will do a better job with IBIS. However, once Nikon starts rolling out longer lenses like Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8, we will see vibration reduction on those lenses as well, in this way the system will be able to take advantage of both worlds, IBIS and VR at the same time, delivering superb levels of stabilization that we have never seen before.

Precise Manual Focusing and EVF Benefits

We face some situations in which manual focus is require, but in D-SLR gating precise focus on a subject is difficult. In optical viewfinders we do not have enough magnification to be able to see enough detail on a subject to properly focus.

With mirrorless cameras, you do not have to worry about viewfinder magnification because you can just zoom in on your subject right in the electronic viewfinder (EVF), verify or adjust your focus as needed, then take a picture, no more guesswork is involved. It’s all because of EVF, “what-you-see-is-what-you-get”.

DC_fh14_3(0)--original

In addition, you will be able to take advantage of the EVF for focus peaking where the “in-focus” area of the subject is highlighted with specific color of your choice, as well as you can use the bright Electronic viewfinder to review images, zoom in / out of them and more! One thing, with mirrorless cameras, there is no need for an exposure preview button, because the electronic viewfinder will display exactly what you are about to capture. If you want to see how the image will look like stopped down, you just stop the lens down and you can see exactly how much depth of field you are going to get. EVFs can display a lot more information than OVFs, and some of the information can be very useful in the field. For example, you can display a histogram before you ever take a shot, and if you are wondering about what focusing mode you have selected, you no longer have to take your eyes off the viewfinder – all of that information can be turned on or off in the EVF.

Both Nikon Z6 and Z7 cameras are equipped with high-resolution EVF screens. I never seen this quality of viewfinder in any other camera at the time writing this article. I think, once you try an EVF for focusing and image playback, it is hard to go back to a OVF.

Lens Calibration

The Nikon Z-series cameras now feature on-sensor hybrid autofocus system, which works very differently compared to the traditional phase detection autofocus system we have seen on Nikon or any other DSLRs. There is no need for a secondary mirror to pass the light to AF Sensor for focusing, and because of this, AF micro-adjustment issues are no longer available! By placing phase detection pixels right on the sensor, Nikon Z is able to perform focus on the image sensor without relying on a secondary focusing system.

lens-cluster-02

Nikon F Lens Compatibility

With the Nikon Z series cameras, we now have a Nikon F to Nikon Z mount “FTZ” adapter that allows mounting older F Mount lenses. The Nikon FTZ adapter will work with all Nikon F mount lenses, including very old manual focus lenses from 1959, but the number of lenses that will autofocus with the adapter is limited. All AF-S, AF-P and AF-I type lenses will have full AF/AE capability with FTZ mount on Nikon Z Series. One thing, the FTZ adapter does not have a screw-driven AF capability, which means that any of the AF-D type lenses will perform manual focus only. Nikon says officially “Full AF/AE supported when using FX or DX AF-S Type G/D/E, AF-P type G/E, AF-I type D and AF-S/AF-I Teleconverters”.

1591_Z7_other1

If you have third-party lenses for the Nikon F mount from Sigma, Tamron and other manufacturers, they will work fine on the Nikon Z-series cameras. But some lenses require updating their firmware to make them fully compatible with Nikon Z System. The great news is, third party lenses will also be able to take advantage of Nikon’s IBIS.

Nikon lenses that already have VR which is compensate for Pitch and Yaw will get the added benefit of Roll axis, which means that both in-body image stabilization, along with lens VR will work simultaneously to get the best out of the two. If you have the Nikon Z mount lenses, you will be able to take a full advantage of Nikon’s 5-axis IBIS, which means that Pitch, Yaw, Roll, as well as X / Y movements will be properly compensated by the camera.

No Built-in Flash

Similar to the PRO Level Nikon DSLRs, the Z-series mirrorless cameras do not have a built-in flash. Nikon decided to make these PRO Level Mirrorless cameras weather-proof and rugged built like a tank, so they excluded this option, and generally all PRO Photographers use on camera flash. Both cameras have sync speed of 1/200th of a second.

Screenshot (10)

Weather-Sealing

Both Nikon Z-series cameras have full magnesium alloy shells / chasys and are fully weather sealed to be able to survive in extreme temperatures and rough weather conditions. Whether you are planning to use these cameras in light rain, under zero temperatures or dusty environments, the cameras will be able to survive in these harsh weather conditions. Nikon states that the cameras are sealed in many spots, including all the buttons, dials and switches from front to back, just like the Nikon D850 is sealed.

24-70mm_F4_S_fh11--original

The Nikon FTZ adapter is also properly sealed, so if you are planning to use the combination with other weather-sealed lenses, you should not have any issues with water, moisture or dust getting into the camera.

Low-Pass Filter

As i stated above Nikon Z7 do not have optical low-pass filter to deliver maximum detail in every shot. The Z7 will be able to deliver high level of sharpness and take a full advantage of modern S-series lenses with their superb resolving power. However, due to not having a low-pass filter, the camera will introduce some moire effect when photographing repeating patterns. And the Nikon Z6 will have a low-pass filter, to reduce moire iffect. But the amount of detail on the Z6 is not as great as on the Z7.

Z7_Sensor.high

EXPEED 6 Processor

The Z6 and Z7 are the first Nikon cameras to feature a new EXPEED 6 processor, which is capable of handling faster sensor readout, as well as quickly powering up the camera for extremely fast operation. Nikon needed to move up to a faster processor, because mirrorless cameras require a lot more processing power in order to handle things like smooth EVF operation, focusing, smooth image playback, etc. Nikon is able to create a very smooth lag free experience in Nikon Z Series. The start-up time on Nikon Z Series cameras is very low. You don’t have to wait for the camera to power on. Once the camera starts up, there are no additional delays you can start shooting immediately.

Screenshot (12)

Video Shooting

As i stated above, both Nikon Z6 and Z7 feature very impressive video specifications. These are the first Nikon cameras that can output true 10-bit video (4:2:2) through the HDMI port. Both cameras can record in 4K/30,25,24p, as well as 1080p HD/120,100,60,50,30,25,24p. The Nikon Z6 can shoot 4K with full sensor readout, while the Z7 down samples and bins pixels for full-frame video capture. If you want to avoid pixel binning shoot in DX crop mode with Z7. Both cameras will provide 10 Bit N-Log output. Nikon’s in-camera features such as Active D-Lighting, Electronic Vibration Reduction and Focus Peaking will all be available for you to use when recording videos. Quiet operation and smooth aperture control of the new Nikon Z mount lenses, you no longer have to worry about loud lens sounds. You can take a picture by pressing shutter button while shooting a video, photos are recorded in fine* quality JPEG format at the size currently selected for movie frame size. if you are shooting 4K a full 8 MP image will be captured and the video recording will not be interrupted. IBIS will function when recording video as well, which means that you can have fully stabilized footage without having to use external stabilization tools.

The Nikon Z6 will only be able to shoot 4K time-lapse, the Nikon Z7 will be able to shoot both 4K and 8K timelapses. This is because the Z6 simply doesn’t have enough resolution to shoot 8K footage. Slow motion video shooters will be able to do so in full HD format using the in-camera slow-motion video feature, which can generate both X4 (120/100p footage at 30/25p) and X5 (120p at 24p) slow-motion videos. Both cameras can not record slow motion in 4K.

Menu System

If you have used a Nikon DSLR before, you will find you are in the home because Z-series cameras have very familiar ergonomics and the menu system. The camera buttons do what they say and although you can customize few buttons as you want. Nikon finally listened and added U1 / U2 / U3 user settings system, where you can fully save all the menu options into three different sets, then quickly change between the different settings by switching between U1, U2 and U3 on the PASM dial. This means that you can now have three presets that store different settings for different types of photography like “Landscape”, “Wildlife” and “Portrait”.

Screenshot (11)

Top OLED Display

The Nikon Z6 and Z7 feature a OLED display on the top of the camera, which is used to display different types of information, depending on what you are doing on the camera. The information is displayed white on black so it will be possible to see camera settings even when shooting at night. But Nikon do not gave the option to customize this display, it will be good to go if Nikon will applied this option in future firmware update.

universal-top

Silent Shooting

Nikon Z6 and Z7 cameras can shoot silently whether you are shooting using EVF or LCD, which means that you do not have to take your eye from the viewfinder and switch to LCD. Whether you use LCD or EVF, silent shooting is available for both.

USB Charging

With the Z6 and Z7, Nikon included the ability to charge the camera battery through the camera. To use this function you have to use the new EN-EL15b battery in order to charge over USB Type-C connection older EN-EL15 and EN-EL15a batteries are not internally wired to be charged through the camera. In this way you will be able to use standard battery packs or power bank to charge your camera battery! So if you are traveling and you don’t have access to an electric outlet, you can use battery packs and charge the camera. If you have older EN-EL15 and EN-EL15a batteries you can use them flawlessly in both Z Series but you have to sacrifice for USB charging.

Battery Life

Nikon has official CIPA numbers stated as mere 310 for the Z6 and 330 for the Z7, which is too small, but if you use LCD & EVF properly you will get around 600 to 650 or even more shots per charge very easily.

XQD Memory Card

At the time of writing this article, only Nikon Z Series mirrorless cameras have faster XQD card slots in the mirrorless interchangeable lens camera market. Nikon took good decision about XQD card slot. if I were to pick between one XQD or two SD card slots, I would pick the XQD slot. XQD / CFExpress is clearly the future, thanks to it’s incredibly fast speed, better build and overall reliability. XQD and CFExpress card have same form factor so they both fit in same slot. Once CFExpress card is available, you will be able to run a firmware update and make the camera compatible for that card also, so the memory card slot is future-proof.

Autofocus System

Autofocus points on both cameras are hybrid on-chip phase-detection auto focus type. The Z6 offers 273 PDAF points and the Z7 has 493 PDAF points. Auto focus points cover 90% of the frame area on the cameras. The new Nikon Z-Series cameras have the following focus modes,

Pinpoint AF – Used for pinpoint focus on a selected spot in the frame

Single-Point AF – The camera focuses on a point selected by the user

Dynamic-Area AF – The camera focuses on a point selected by the user if the subject briefly leaves the selected point, the camera will focus based on information from surrounding focus points. this option is only available when photo mode is selected and continuous AF is chosen for focus mode.

Wide-Area AF (S) – The camera focuses on a point selected by the user. The focus points for Wide-Area AF (S) are wider then those for single point AF

Wide-Area AF (L) – The camera focuses on a point selected by the user. The focus points for Wide-Area AF (L) are wider then those for Wide-Area AF (S)

Auto-Area AF – The camera automatically detects the subject and selects the focus area. At default settings, the camera gives priority to portrait subjects, if a portrait subject is detected, the selected subject will be indicated by a yellow border, if multiple faces are detected, you can choose your subject using the multi selector. Subject tracking can be activated by pressing the ok button.

These focus modes work differently compared to what we are used to seeing on DSLR cameras. You might have also noticed that the Z6 / Z7 cameras don’t have a dedicated autofocus button to toggle between different AF modes like other Nikon DSLR cameras. But you can program a button of your choice to do this function, which you can attach to any of the buttons like Fn1, Fn2 or any other button of your choice. Once assigned to a button, you can press and hold that button and use the front and rear dials to switch between different modes like AF-S, AF-C and Manual, as well as particular focus modes mentioned above.

Continuous Shooting Speed

The Nikon Z6 can shoot at 12 fps and the Nikon Z7 is limited to 10 fps, but there are some limitations. First of all, both cameras can shoot full resolution 14-bit images at 5.5 fps with full-time autofocus tracking and auto exposure adjustments. If you want to push the cameras to their maximum frame rates, you will need to sacrifice some things. Anytime you go beyond 5.5 fps, both cameras will have to lock exposure to the first frame of the sequence. But if you are tracking a subject that is moving from one side of the frame to another, it could result in underexposed or overexposed images when moving from darker to brighter parts of the scene. If you choose to shoot in 14-bit RAW, you will be limited to a maximum of 9 fps on the Z6 and 8 fps on the Z7. And the buffers on both Z6 and Z7 cameras are fairly small, it will fill in few seconds if you rae shooting in RAW.

Focus Stacking and Multiple Exposure

With this new enhanced feature, you will be able to see a monochrome preview of the focus stack you are able to capture, which is really great tool, no more guesswork while making stacked images.

In addition to focus stacking, the Nikon Z-series cameras also have a built-in multiple exposure feature that allows creating a single image out of two separate shots, all in camera.

Electronic Viewfinder

Considering that the largest viewfinder Nikon has ever made is within the Nikon D850, with its 0.75X magnification, the new EVF within both Z6 and Z7 is even larger in comparison – it is now 0.80X! In order to make it a great viewing experience, Nikon made it as close as possible to an optical viewfinder, Nikon used a combination of high-resolution 3690K-dot Quad VGA organic EL panel with 100% frame coverage, along with corrective glass elements, you never feel that you are looking through EVF. The front element is covered with fluorine coating to repel dirt and reduce flare. I have to say that it is the best EVF I have viewed to date. The overall viewing experience is a bit different on the Nikon Z. I think it is the glass that Nikon used, or any other optimizations to the viewfinder, but it was bright, lag-free and very life-like. Well done Nikon!

DC_fh14_1(0)--original

Electronic Front-Curtain Shutter

Both Nikon Z6 and Z7 will come with the Electronic Front-Curtain Shutter mode, which allow one to take images without introducing camera shake due to camera’s shutter movement. Electronic Front-Curtain Shutter will work in all camera modes.

RAW Size Options

The Nikon Z7 features three RAW size options: full RAW at 45.7 MP, medium RAW (mRAW) at 25.5 MP and small RAW (sRAW) at 11.3 MP, and the Nikon Z6 features three RAW size options: full RAW at 24.3 MP, medium RAW (mRAW) at 13.7 MP and small RAW (sRAW) at 6.1 MP. Instead of dealing with a flat lossy compressed file, the images will have most of the data retained within them for you to be able to recover as much shadow and highlight detail as on full size RAW images.

Tilting, Touch-Enabled LCD

The Nikon Z6 and Z7 cameras have a touch-sensitive 3.2″ LCD screen with a total of 2,100,000 dots. The LCD screen has a 170° viewing angle and you will be able to perform standard color balance and brightness adjustments. The touchscreen experience is the best I have seen on any Nikon camera. After using it I was very happy with it and I did not experience any lags.

1591_Z7_lcd

Focus Peaking

Focus peaking is mainly used for manual focusing. Nikon added focus peaking option into both Nikon Z-series cameras, which is great for those who are wishing to use this feature when manual focusing. With the mirrorless system, you can use focus peaking by using camera LCD or the viewfinder. Focus peaking will make it easier to manual focus on subject by highlighting the area where focus is acquired by using a user selectable color like red, white, yellow or blue, with three different peaking levels.

WiFi and Bluetooth

The Nikon Z-series cameras can now establish a direct connection to a computer via WiFi for wireless tethering. Thanks to a fast wireless chip on these cameras, it will be possible to transfer both JPEG and RAW images at up to 433 Mbps speeds.

By using SnapBridge app on smart phone you will be able to connect the camera to your smart phone via Bluetooth or WiFi to transfer both photos and videos, adjust settings on camera and capture image remotely, you can also download GPS Location Data to photos you captured and set the camera clock time and date through smart phone.

snapbridge

Hope you enjoyed reading this article, please consider subscribing to my E-Newsletter to receive emails notifying you of the latest articles posted on the website.

I am also posting my wishlist about Nikon Mirrorless Z Series Cameras, so subscrib to my E-Newsletter

Advertisements

Back-Button AF: What it is and how to use it?

Canon-5Ds-rear-1200Nikon-D810back-1200

One of the most frequent questions I have received is about Back Button Focus AF and how to use it on Canon and Nikon DSLR cameras. In this article you’ll learn what is Back Button Focus AF, and how to Back Button Focus AF for Canon and Nikon cameras.

For many years I used the shutter button to AF the subject. Some time I missed shot because my camera is in one shot AF Mode and subject (bird) moved very fast to capture. In shutter button AF mode you have to switch back and forth from One Shot AF to AI Servo AF depending on your subject.  Naw I use full-time Back-Button AF from last five years.

Canon is the  world’s first camera maker to incorporate such a feature, launching it back in 1989 with the EOS 630.

What is Back-Button AF?

The camera usually focuses when the shutter button is pressed halfway down, and then the photographer takes the picture when the button is pressed in fully. Many SLR cameras have offered photographers an option to change the way autofocus is activated. Often referred to by pros as “Back-Button AF”, this feature lets the user customize the camera so that focusing is performed by pressing a rear button on the top right back of the camera with the photographer’s right thumb. The shutter button still wakes up the camera with a half-press, and fires the shutter with a full press downward. You need to change a custom function or two to set up rear focus. And with some systems you set up rear focus via the camera’s menu. You can consult your camera body user manual to learn to set up rear focus.

Why would anyone want to remove AF from the shutter button?

This is a question many users ask me when Back-button AF is first explained to them. The standard method of operation, press the shutter button half-way down to focus, and then press fully to shoot it works perfectly. But back-button AF offers some significant advantages, especially for the experienced photographer.

  • Use AI-Servo for all time:

    The two main types of autofocus on your camera are (on a Canon) One-Shot and AI-Servo. On a Nikon they are called AF-Single (AF-S) and AF-Continuous (AF-C). One-Shot means that when you press your AF-ON button (or the shutter halfway down) your camera will set focus one time based on where the subject is at the given time. If your subject moves or if you move, you have to reset your focus. This method wouldn’t work very well if you were photographing subjects moving very fast, i.e. wildlife, birds or sports and action.

    That’s why there’s another method of focusing called AI-Servo (AF-C on Nikon). This method blew me away the first time I discovered it. Servo focusing actually tracks focusing on moving subjects. You can place a single focus point on subject in Servo mode and fire off as many shots as your camera can take before the buffer runs out. Assuming that you have a fast enough shutter speed, you should have a very high percentage of sharp, in focus images.

    So the thing I started to notice about having the camera in Servo mode is that I could use Servo just like One-Shot. You see, to use Servo focusing with Back-button AF you have to continuously hold down the AF-ON button to track focus. So if you have a still subject you can simply tap the AF-ON button and focus will stop adjusting when you let go of the button. I’ve found that if you have a still subject and hold down the AF-ON button in Servo mode, the camera will keep trying to work to find focus. So the subject will start going slightly in and out of focus because the camera thinks it should be looking for a moving subject. But again, if you simply tap the AF-ON button and let go when you see that your subject is in focus, you are good to go. When you practise this, it’s a very fast process that really takes no brain power or time at all.

    Aside from possibly better AI Servo AF tracking for Birds flight photography there are other advantages to using rear focus. In short, you have the best of all worlds all the time. When using rear focus you always have AI Servo (Continuous for Nikon) set. You will never need to switch back and forth from AI Servo to One Shot. To photograph flying birds or to focus track walking, running, or swimming birds (or perched birds that are changing their posture or head position almost continuously simply press and hold the rear button to focus track that you have set for AF and press the shutter button when you want to create an image.

  • Easier to lock focus:

    If you are shooting something like a series of portraits of a person, and you want them composed off-center, Back-Button AF makes it easy to take as many pictures as you want. Focus on your subject by pressing either the rear AE Lock button or if your camera is equipped with the rear AF-ON button. Once in-focus, take your thumb off the rear button. Re-compose the shot to move your subject off-center. Shoot as many pictures as you like. With focus activation removed from the shutter button, you now can fire any time you like, and remove your index finger from the shutter button after a shot is taken. The camera Will not re-focus when you press the shutter button half-way down again.

  • Easier timing of shots with a very active subject:

    Even with a very active subject i.e. birds, wildlife etc. that may be moving around, you can have your camera’s focus set to AI Servo AF (to track any movement), and just keep your right thumb on the back button to keep focus active, while your index finger can be ready to shoot with no worries about also preserving focus.

  • Less risk of focus errors with moving subjects:

    For wildlife, bird, sports or action photographers taking action pictures, back-button AF lets you stop focus whenever something might interfere with the moving subject you’re tracking without requiring you to stop shooting. In wildlife, for instance, it’s common that some another subject to come between the camera and a subject being photographed. With back-button AF, it’s easy to momentarily pull your thumb off the rear button, and you can still keep shooting by pressing the shutter button fully. The camera instantly stops focusing when your thumb comes off the back button. Once the obstruction is out of your way, you can immediately pick-up your primary subject by pressing your thumb on the back button again.

  • Easier over-riding of AF with full-time manual focus:

    Some lenses have a feature called full-time manual focus. Even if the lens’s AF/MF switch is in the AF position, these lenses allow the shooter to instantly adjust focus manually by simply turning the focus ring on the lens. There’s no need to first move the switch to MF. With back-button AF, this becomes a nearly top feature. Use the autofocus whenever you like by pressing the rear button with your right thumb. Shoot whenever you like by pressing the shutter button. And if you want manual focus, or override what the AF is doing, just pull your thumb off the rear button and turn the focusing ring. No matter how many pictures you shoot, pressing the shutter button will not auto focus.

  • Easier macro and close-up focusing:

    Many times, you’ll find that it’s actually easier to get consistently sharp close-up pictures of small objects by pre-focusing, and then moving yourself forward or backward until you see the critical sharp focus appear in your viewfinder. Once again, with back-button AF active, you can use the AF to get within general range (press the rear button with your thumb, then take your thumb off the button), and move a little bit to get things critically sharp. Most important, you can then shoot freely, without AF trying to re-focus each time you touch the shutter button. Finally, touching-up focus with the full-time manual focus feature on certain Canon lenses is simple and quick, and the autofocus never fights you by trying to un-do what you just adjusted.

I believes that when the shutter is released that AF tracking may be momentarily interrupted but when you use rear focus the camera continues to track well even when the shutter is released.

Activating back-button AF

You need to change a custom function or two to set up rear focus. And with some systems you set up rear focus via the camera’s menu. You can consult your camera body user manual to learn to set up rear focus. Remember, to use any Custom Function, your camera must first be in one of the P – Program, AV – Aperture Value /A –  Aperture Priority, TV – Time Value / S – Shutter Priority or M – Manual Mode.

Making the change from the shutter button to rear focus is first time hard and takes lots of getting used to, it takes a bit of retraining of the brain and the thumb to get used to rear focusing. But I have stuck with it for more than five years and will never go back.

Finally, remember that if you don’t like Back-Button AF , you can return the camera back to factory-default operation any time.

This is the beginning…..

My first awarded picture
My first awarded picture

Hi, I am Bhushan Raghavendra Shikhare and I want to thank you for your interest in my work. Welcome to the official Photography website and blog-site of Bhushan Shikhare. I am a fine art nature photographer specializing in wildlife, bird, nature and landscape photography. I am doing photography for more than 10 years. I currently live in Sangli, Maharashtra, India and use a variety of top professional cameras and lenses. My goal as a nature and landscape photographer is to show you views of our natural world in ways that you may not have seen them before through careful composition, attention to detail and the creative use of beautiful light.

I am a Jeweller and gemologist by profession and my journey as a nature and wildlife photographer started in May 2001, when I went for trekking to Dhana Kunu pass Trek with Yuvashakti, Pune, a beautiful place in Kullu valley of Himachal Pradesh, India. My mother gave me Olympus 35mm film camera with Zoom Lens (not exactly professional gear but that was highest quality camera I had then) during the trek I exposed 12 full 35 mm exposure rolls (In film camera days that was lot of exposure!). I wanted to participate in the photography competition (especially for participants) organised by Yuvashakti, Pune. At the time I was a beginner in photography so I thought why not show my photographs to Shri Mukundbhai Shah who founded ‘Pratibimb Amateur Photographers’ Club, Sangli’ and was excellent nature photographer. That was my first meeting with him. He told me that “Bhushan, your composition is excellent but there are some minor mistakes. I will tell you how to correct theme” He was my first Guru in photography. He selected 5 photographs for competition and I got second prize in the competition. From hear my photographic journey began. I could not get Mukundbhai’s guidance for long time because of his sudden death. After that I joined ‘Pratibimb Amateur Photographers’ Club, Sangli’. In that club I met Mr. Dilip Nerlikar sir who is very knowledgable person in every subject. I have been getting tremendous basic and professional level knowledge of photography from him.

Memories: I have Olympus point and shoot zoom lens 35mm film camera,of which  wide-angle range was limited. I wanted to show our base camp plus snow-covered mountain range in photograph. So I ran about 700-800 mtrs. on big hill near by the place and captured that award-winning photograph. I lost the  film due to moisture. photograph shown above is  a scanned image.

At present I am an active member and instructor in ‘Pratibimb Amateur Photographers’ Club’ in Sangli and working as an editor in Editorial Board of E-Magazine ‘Reflections’. Go to www.pratibimbsangli.org for more information about ‘Pratibimb Amateur Photographers’ Club, Sangli’. Many times my work was published in Newspapers, Magazines and Exhibitions. Please browse my site to learn more about my work. Images are available as prints, or for commercial licensing. My all work is available in the form of fine art prints created with various photographic papers and fine art canvas.  Volume purchases of three or more prints receive discounts off the entire purchase price. Don’t hesitate to CONTACT me. All images on this site are copyrighted to me , Bhushan Shikhare.

WANT TO BUY PHOTOGRAPH AS A PRINT?
PRICE FROM: INR 15600.00 / US $255.00

  • All prints are limited edition. Only 840 prints of any size will be made. I reserve the right to keep 15 of each limited edition prints for my own use. So essentially 825 prints are available for sale.
  • All Bhushan Shikhare limited edition prints are assigned a unique number and hand-signed by Bhushan Shikhare. Each image includes a certificate of authenticity.

Understanding Histograms in Photography

Understanding Histograms in Photography:

Histograms display a graphic representation of the exposure on a captured image. They provide highly accurate information, but their use is often ignored.

How Histogram work?
Histogram-legend2Histograms are a graph showing brightness levels of pixels in a recorded image. The camera’s processor arranges each Pixel recorded in sensor, on a horizontal scale on the histogram, according to its relative brightness from 0 ie pure black to 255 ie pure white.
Bright pixels are located on the right Side of the graph and darker pixels on the left side of the graph. Brightest pixels which are reproduce pure white and darkest pixels which are reproduce pure black with no detail, would be at the extreme right / left edges of a histogram. The height of the graph within a histogram Shows how many pixels in a scene were recorded at a given exposure level.

How to read a histogram :
Histograms Shows the brightness information from a specific image, but there are no “good” or “bad” histograms. Different subjects can generate completely different histograms, but both are properly exposed.
For example, a white Subject on a white background, if properly exposed, will generate a histogram to the right side, because there are no or very few shadows and mid-tones. In this example, all the pixels in the image will show a high brightness level in a properly exposed image.
a black Subject on a black background will display a histogram to the left, which normally would be a sign of under exposure, but in this case, in the actual scene, there are few mid-tones and no highlights. In this example, all the pixels in the image will show low shadow level in a properly exposed image.
So, the photographer needs to think of the subject and scene, if the subject is white against a white background, and a histogram shows lots of pixels in the middle of the image, it is a clear sign to the photographer that this particular image is under-exposed.Histogram-legend
One of the easiest ways to quickly use a histogram is to look at its graphic values, and simply ask if any of the bright areas on the right side, or dark areas on the left side, are touching edges of the histogram and the extreme left or right graph line extend vertically. Either condition indicates SOME area of the scene is reproducing as an over-exposed white, or an under-exposed black tone.
Now, it’s again up to the photographer to think for a moment. If the scene is a snow-covered field or a Person in a white dress in bright background, and the bulk of the histogram is pushed against the right edge of the graph and cut off along the right, it’s a clear indication that the image is over-exposed, and that another picture should be taken with reduced exposure.
But, it is possible to have a properly exposed scene with bright objects, such as the sun in the frame, which do appear as over-exposed areas. If these are the only areas in the scene that are washed out and the histogram is telling you that the image is over exposed but the exposure is actually correct. So don’t immediately think that there is a problem if part of the histogram is cut-off along the left or right side, until you have thought about the scene and subjects within it.
A histogram is a great tool for judging whether the brightness range of a scene will fit within the dynamic range of the camera. If the exposure graph fits within the histogram’s left and right margins, it means we have an easily workable and printable image. If the histogram is pushed up against either side, it means some parts of the image will be too light or too dark to reproduce with detail.
A “good” histogram doesn’t have to stretch entirely from the left to right side to indicate proper overall exposure. But if its peaks, large and small, all fit within the left/right borders, it is telling you that nothing in the scene will reproduce as a washed out white, or a black with zero detail.

Colour RGB Histogram :
Conventional histograms measure only brightness, as recorded in an image file. But, it is possible to view histograms that not only show overall brightness, but the brightness of each color channel. Most cameras offer the choice to display a brightness histogram or a colour RGB histogram.
For most users, the Brightness histogram is sufficient to evaluate exposure when reviewing images. But, there are situations where it can be useful to view a graph of all three color channels. The RGB histogram can inform a user when there is a color shift , which is useful when trying to white balance a known neutral colored test subject. It can also be helpful for determining whether any single color channel is at risk of being appear too light or too dark.

Highlight alert display:
Most SLR cameras have a setting called “highlight alert”. It will make any overexposed highlights blink when you preview your images on your camera screen. For how to activate this function on your camera please refer your camera manual.

Remember, RAW files will always offer more room to correct exposure and other problems. Correcting improper exposures during image editing in the computer has limitations and often results in a loss of image quality. Histograms give the photographer a tool to evaluate and perform corrections immediately after an image is taken, which means that less time is later spent at the computer trying to optimize images.

Under Exposed

Normal ExposureOver Exposed

Bhushan’s Gear

Bhushan Shikhare in the field with gear
Bhushan Shikhare in the field with gear

 

One of the most common questions that I am asked is “what gear do you use?”   The products below are what I am currently using. Everything mentioned or listed has been tested by me in the field for years and I can honestly say I think it is the best out there.

In terms of Nikon vs Canon, I think they are both great.   Canon (as well as other manufactures) makes an incredible product.  It is more about what you feel comfortable with.  I personally prefer and use Canon for a number of small reasons, but I would highly recommend Nikon as well.

Please note that although the gear I have listed is fairly expensive, you DO NOT need expensive gear to create excellent images.  Great gear does make a difference in terms of technical quality, durability, ease of use and other factors and I advise using quality products, but creating a powerful, creative image is all about the photographer and the light.

I strongly believe in keeping my gear as light and simple as possible. This is a complete list of all the gear that I use and recommend to my readers.

I use a Canon 5D Mk II and Canon 50D for shooting landscapes and Nature. I carry four lenses total, two of them extremely small and light.   A wide-angle Canon EF 24-105mm L IS USM, a telephoto prime Canon EF 300mm f4 L IS USM, a Canon 1.4X extender, a telephoto zoom Canon 70-300mm L IS USM and a Canon EF 50mm f1.8 prime.

I use a Manfrotto Tripod and Manfrotto ballhead, Hoya ND filters, Hoya polarizing filter and a Lowepro Camera bag.

This list will continue to evolve as my gear changes, as technology continues and as my needs are altered by the work that I am doing.