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Digital cameras let you capture that perfect moment with your friends or family. A digital camera is one of the best elements to not only capture that moment but also create art! With less than a century of use, photographers like Ansel Adams and many other artists flourished as they sought out ways to stop time on film, to show the rest of the world what they saw and how they perceived it. There is a large variety of digital photography cameras one could use. You may get a small point and shoot digital camera for next to nothing, or you could buy a professional-grade digital SLR camera and DSLR Camera Lenses to go with it. So what makes one photo camera better than the other? Is the $500 difference really seen in the picture? The answer is YES! With digital cameras, just like most optics, the price will almost always dictate your quality. You don’t need a DSLR, but it definitely helps. With technology in cameras moving at the speed of light, the lightweights are beginning to catch up to the heavyweights. Overall, digital camera technology has grown substantially in the number of tasks and the level of quality that they have been able to produce. The number of pixels is on the rise and prices are dropping as manufacturers continue to bring in newer and better cameras. For a little help finding the perfect digital camera for you, check out our How to Buy Digital Cameras shopping guide. If you have any more questions regarding your next digital camera purchase, we have experts to help you! We have a full line of digital cameras from Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Minox and more! Not only do we carry standard digital photo cameras, OpticsPlanet also stocks a wide range of specialty cameras, including film cameras, trail cameras for hunters, even professional-grade thermal imaging cameras and night vision cameras. For all your digital imaging needs, OpticsPlanet has you covered!
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Cameras & Optics | X-Ray Mag
4 months ago
By Rico Besserdich
Seacam’s new Achromat 4.0 MICRO LENS and flip system is out now.
Normal macro ain’t enough for you? Here you go!
8 months ago
By Rico Besserdich
9 months ago
By Matthew Meier
The Micro 3.0 camera is combined with the new Sea Dragon Pro Dual Beam, which includes a wide and narrow beam for creative lighting options.
The Micro 3.0 is the latest and third generation of if its popular permanently sealed Micro camera series. The camera is leak-proof with no O-rings to lube or maintain, so there is never a worry about flooding the camera.
1 year ago
By Rico Besserdich
It supports an improved in-body image stabilization (up to 7.5 stops) and upgraded video features. The new sensor delivers 14fps in AF-S mode (8fps in AF-C mode) when using the mechanical shutter, and 75fps (in AF-S mode) with the electronic shutter. The GH6 can record 4K/120p video at 10-bit 4:2:0. Furthermore, full V-Log/V- Gamut has been added, providing up to 13+ stops of dynamic range.
The GH6 features a 3.68M-dot OLED electronic view- finder and is equipped with dual card slots: a CFexpress (Type B) slot and an SD UHS II
1 year ago
By Rico Besserdich
The Tokina SZ 8mm f/2. 8 fisheye is a compact and lightweight fast, ultra-wide prime, manual focus, full-frame fisheye lens designed exclusively for APS-C sensor mirrorless cameras.
Scubalamp OSD snoot. Photo courtesy of the manufacturer
➥ Download the full article as pdf ⬅︎
The innovative new Scubalamp OSD Snoot was officially released in late 2021. Underwater photographer Kate Jonker took it through its paces and shares her review of the product as well as her stunning photos taken with it.
1 year ago
By Matthew Meier
SeaLife has introduced a new Micro Wide Angle Dome Lens for the Micro-series and ReefMaster underwater cameras that increases the camera’s field-of view by almost 50% and allows photographers to get three times closer to the subject.
1 year ago
By Rico Besserdich
The WWL-1B wide-angle converter by Nauticam features the same optics as the WWL-1, but it now includes an integrated aluminum buoyancy collar to make it nearly neutral in the water.
UW photography gear under $500 from Olympus, Ricoh, Fujifilm, Minolta, GoPro and Diveroid
➥ Download the full article as pdf ⬅︎
Scuba diving is not really an inexpensive hobby, considering the costs of training, equipment and travelling. Furthermore, many divers love to capture images and videos of all the things they have seen underwater. So, underwater photography then adds an additional burden onto one’s piggy bank.
2 years ago
By Rico Besserdich
Insta360 ONE X2
The ONE X2 action camera by Insta360 is a major update to its previous model, the One X, including a new (circular) full-color OLED touchscreen display.
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The future of mobile cameras depends on optics. How does it work, and why will the lenses soon become liquid?
At presentations of new smartphones, cameras are praised for a long time. We are told about 50-100 MP sensors, magical night mode and stunning portraits. But optics is given unfairly little time. While technology is just as exciting, liquid lenses, reflex lenses and other innovations that will shape the future of mobile cameras are here. Or will be on the market soon. We eliminate this gap and talk about complex things in simple language.
Let’s not go into the theory of how a digital camera works. All you need to know is that an image is light that passes through a lens, refracts and converges at the point of focus. And then it gets to the matrix and is transferred for processing. How much light reaches the matrix depends on the throughput of the optics – aperture ratio. It is referred to as “f / 1.8”, “1: 1.9” or “f2.0”. The entry may differ, the essence is the same: the smaller this number, the “lighter” the optics .
Focal length — focal length. Photo: B&H Foto and Electronics Corp.
Most often there are several lenses, you can see the phrases “lens group” or “lens system”. Smartphones usually have 4-7 of them. Why so many? Without going into details: the more lenses, the less distortion and artifacts will be on the final frame. But too many lenses, or poor quality lenses, can affect aperture. The eternal compromise that manufacturers have to contend with.
By the way, many well-known companies specializing in the production of cameras and optics have been cooperating with smartphone manufacturers for decades (and some for centuries). For example, the German Zeiss and Leica, as well as the Swedish company Hasselblad. If you see such an inscription on the body, know that the best specialists in their field worked on the camera.
So, the distance from the focus point to the camera matrix is the focal length (FR). Surely you or someone in your family has a camera with interchangeable lenses. They are written: “18-55 mm”, “50 mm” and other numbers. This is the focal length. It is inversely proportional to the viewing angle, or the image capture angle: the shorter the FR, the more objects will fit into the frame . Here’s a simple reminder:
The value of the FR depends on the size of the sensor and the type of optics. They are usually considered to be reduced to a full-frame camera, the sensor size of which is close to the frame size of 35mm film. Such a gold standard.
Therefore, when you see “26 mm”, “70 mm”, “135 mm” in the characteristics of a mobile camera, this means only a full-format (or equivalent) FR – to make it easier to understand. But in reality, these distances are much smaller due to small sensors. Look at the thin body of your smartphone: well, what 70 mm will fit here? From the strength of a couple of millimeters.
The inscription on the Huawei P40 Pro + camera block reads: the aperture ratio of the optics is in the f / 1.8-4.4 range; focal length — from 18 to 240 mm.
Here is the first disadvantage of mobile cameras – you cannot insert a large sensor and many lenses. Dimensions are limited. The second drawback is that it is difficult to implement an adjustable RF. Above, we mentioned the “18-55” lens, which is typical for amateur cameras like Canon and Nikon. This range means you can zoom in and out on objects in the frame with just one lens.
A whole system of drives and moving lenses is responsible for the magic, which is easy to implement in large cameras, but so far very difficult in smartphones. There were attempts, but the devices turned out to be bulky and clumsy. Although work in this direction is underway, and we will certainly see movable lenses in smartphones.
In the meantime, manufacturers have to go out and install several modules: one for close-up shots, the second for portraits, and so on. Why everyone is needed, and how far companies have advanced in the development of optical systems, now let’s figure it out.
Ultra Wide Camera
“Ultra Wide” refers to a module that has an equivalent focal length of less than 21mm. When a large building or a group of friends do not fit into the frame, you switch to “ultra-wide”.
On the left – mountain lake Braies, on the right – Stelvio, the most beautiful road in the world according to Top Gear. Shot on Huawei P30 Pro.
Why is it not made the main module? You have to pay for a wide angle: distortions appear at the edges (the “barrel” effect), sharpness drops, and the space in the frame seems to shrink in the center and stretch at the edges. This is called perspective distortion. Try to shoot a portrait at “ultra-wide” at close range – get a huge nose, small ears and tiny shoulders. Take a picture of a building from afar – it will appear even further away. This is not bad: some professional photographers use this technique and create masterpieces. But experience matters.
Manufacturers have more or less learned how to deal with the “barrel” effect – with the help of software processing. The camera itself “straightens” the rounded edges. But at the same time, part of the information is lost, and the algorithms do not work perfectly – artifacts, new distortions may appear.
Huawei is the furthest advanced. In the Mate 40 Pro + smartphone, engineers have introduced an innovation that few people talk about: for the first time, an arbitrary-shaped lens was installed in the “ultra-wide”.
This is an innovation not only among smartphones, but also in optics in general. The cross section of the lens is not a circle or an ellipse, as is customary, but a form of complex curvature. We will not discuss the history of anamorphic and panamorphic lenses here, this is a topic for a separate article. If interested, write in the comments.
The result is especially noticeable when shooting a group of people: the faces are not stretched along the edges, all the girls are happy
What does an arbitrary shape give? Distortions at the edges of the frame (distortion) disappear, detailing and sharpness increase. Photos and videos get rid of the parasitic “barrel”. All smartphones do this programmatically, but with defects. The Mate 40 Pro+ solves the problem at the root, before the light reaches the sensor. Add here f / 1.9 aperture, optical stabilization and auto focus – and we get excellent shooting quality with all the advantages of a “wide” optics.
And right now in Russia you can buy Mate 40 Pro
“Wide” appeared first in phones and smartphones, long before the “zooms” and “ultra wide”. The focal length of wide-angle optics is in the range of 21-35 mm. All the main cameras of smartphones are wide-angle, the most popular FR value is 24-27 mm. It is at this distance that the camera captures a lot of detail and gives less distortion.
This is the most important, most versatile module. You can shoot a portrait, a night photo, and a smooth video on it. Therefore, there are always special requirements for the “width” optics. It should be ultra-fast, at least f / 2.0 – to let in more light in the dark in a short period of time. High aperture also gives beautiful blur when shooting at close range.
Shot on Huawei P40 Pro+
This uses the most lenses for a sharp, focused image without distortion. And the optical stabilization system dampens vibrations, shaking hands. Look for the abbreviation OIS in the specifications of the smartphone.
Another important element is the focusing system for a sharp image. Now, basically, three types of focusing systems are used: contrast (the simplest), phase and laser (used in flagships), as well as their combinations. All of them give information about the distance to the object, and then with the help of a magnetic drive, the lenses are slightly shifted. This is how the camera aims at the subject.
But smartphones may soon have a new technology – liquid lenses (liquid lenses). Even 20 years ago, the French physicist Bruno Berge suggested using a mixture of oil and water.
Liquid lens construction. Photo: Edmund Optics
When energized, the lens instantly changes shape and the camera focuses instantly. In addition, the system takes up much less space: one liquid lens instead of a group of 6-7 “glasses”. It also weighs little and is very reliable. Glass can crack on impact, but water and oil can’t care less. According to rumors, the liquid lens may appear in the next flagship Huawei P50.
An even more revolutionary variant is offered by Metalenz. The developers plan to replace the group of lenses with one flat one, consisting of nanostructures, which are millions of circles of variable diameter.
Array of camera modules equipped with Metalenz lenses. Photo: Justin Knight
Not only does such optics take up much less space, but the structure can also be controlled, which means it can capture the right amount of light. Sounds like science fiction, but Metalenz already produces such lenses. True, the customer is still unknown.
In smartphones, a telephoto lens is a module with an equivalent focal length > 50 mm, i.e. with a 2x optical zoom. He’s a telephoto, or zoom. A FR camera in the 50-70mm range is great for shooting portraits when the proportions of the face and body are natural. But the main purpose of the zoom, of course, is to bring distant objects closer. The “longer” the zoom, the more you can enlarge the image without losing quality.
The locomotive of zoom technologies in smartphones can rightfully be called Huawei. In the flagship Huawei P20 Pro, for the first time, a three-fold optical zoom was used, in the P30 Pro – a five-fold optical zoom. And in 2020, engineers surprised us with a double zoom: Huawei P40 Pro + installed a bundle of 3x and 10x (!) Optical zooms. Just evaluate the zoom range in the photo.
No zoom / zoom 3x / 10x. Shot on Huawei P40 Pro+.
Optical zoom means that the increase is achieved only due to the special structure of the lens group, only due to the laws of physics. Hybrid, digital zoom use computational photography: “think out” the details of objects, or simply crop the frame. Either way, the quality goes down. With optical zoom, no.
Details of the unique camera phone on the Huawei website
Achieving 10x magnification is a big success. You have probably already guessed what the main problem here is. After all, the FR of such a zoom is 250 mm. How did you manage to place optics in a smartphone with a thickness of 9mm? Look at the photo.
The solution is ingenious and elegant at the same time: the lenses and sensor are located across the body, and the light passes to the matrix, reflected through five mirrors. At the same time, the mirrors are suspended on an optical stabilizer: even when shooting at high magnification, it will be possible to capture a sharp frame. As a result, the entire camera block is smaller than a matchbox and slightly protrudes from the smartphone. To get such a range of FR on a camera, you would have to buy an expensive fleet of optics and carry 3-5 kg of glass and metal with you.
Full-length photos of insects, flowers, coins and other little things are the merit of macro photography. A separate module is often installed in budget and mid-range smartphones. For example, Huawei P Smart 2021.
Shot on Huawei P30 and Mate 20 Pro.
The focus, most often, is fixed at a short distance: 2.5-5 cm. Such modules usually have a high aperture ratio (f / 2-f / 2.4), which, coupled with a long FR, gives a gorgeous bokeh, that is, a very blurry background . The depth of field depends on these two indicators – the depth of the sharply depicted space. If you’ve shot macro, you know how hard it is to get the subject in focus. This is because the depth of field is very narrow here.
In more expensive smartphones, you can find autofocus, it is much easier to take a macro photo with it. But, in any case, the resolution of the sensors does not exceed 2-5 megapixels, which is very small for high detail. Huawei P40 Pro and Mate 40 Pro smartphones offer the best option: their ultra-wide-angle cameras can focus from close range. And since there are high-quality sensors, there is optical stabilization, and the optics are fast, the macro is of excellent quality.
Huawe Mate 40 Pro 9 Earphones 50% Off0005
As a result
Mobile cameras have come a long way in the last 10 years. However, progress mainly concerned sensors and processing algorithms, stabilization systems. But the principles of the structure of the lenses remained the same, and as a result, the capabilities of the cameras rested on the dimensions of smartphones. New technologies in the field of optics should change the situation, many of them are already being applied. In the future, camera modules will become more compact, and innovations that are only available to flagships will also appear in budget devices.
Author: Ivan Ostapenko
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Choosing a camera and optics for reportage shooting
One of my main specializations as a photographer is commercial reportage shooting. I have already talked about the basics of commercial reportage photography in my previous articles.
But I am often asked what equipment should I take with me on a reportage? Which camera to choose for shooting events? What lenses should a reportage photographer have?
That’s what we’ll talk about today – about the camera and optics for reportage shooting.
Which camera should a reportage photographer choose?
The answer is very simple and depends solely on your budget.
The fact is that according to their specialization, DSLRs are divided into studio and reportage only in the professional class of cameras: Nikon’s D3s and D3x and Canon’s various studio and reportage “Marks”. If finances allow, then Nikon D3s, Canon 1D Mark IV or 5D Mark II (as a multifunctional) are ideal reportage cameras.
There is one unwritten rule in professional photography – if the equipment pays for itself in 2-3 months of filming, then you are working at “your level”. Of course, this rule is rather conditional, but if the same Canon 5D Mark II does not “bounce back” in terms of money after a couple of months of work, perhaps you should buy a simpler camera to start with. The same Canon 7D or Nikon D700 is perfect for shooting a reportage.
If the 7D/D700 doesn’t fit into your budget, buy the camera that you have enough money for at the moment, and over time you can “upgrade”.
Which features of the camera are especially important when shooting a reportage?
- ISO is the most important specification for a reportage camera. The less noise the camera produces at high ISO, the more space you have when shooting an event. Ideally, a reporting camera should calmly “hold” ISO 1250-2000
- “Rate of Fire”. There are times when during the shooting of the event you need to “thresh” 5-8 frames per second. And the more frames per second your camera can shoot (in RAW format), the better.
- Auto focus. The “accuracy” of autofocus largely depends on whether you have time to make a good shot or not. Another important characteristic for a reportage camera is the number of focus areas. For example, on my Nikon D3 there are 51 of them. The more focus areas the camera has, the more accurately you can focus on the desired part of the frame.
A few words about full frame and cropped cameras.
For reportage, the difference between full frame and crop is not as great as, say, in art photography. But it is important to remember that when buying a full frame camera, after a few years of using a cropped camera, you will probably need to upgrade the lens kit as well. Many lenses don’t work full frame, and those that do will change noticeably in focal length. There is nothing wrong with that, you just need to be ready for it when switching from crop to full frame.
If everything is quite simple and clear with the purchase of a reportage camera, then the situation with the choice of lenses for shooting events is somewhat more complicated.
Ideally your optics should cover a focal length of 14-200mm. Thus, you can take a good shot in almost any shooting conditions.
There are two ways to achieve this – buy a lot of “fixes” or several zoom lenses.
Your set of fixes, conditionally, may look like this:
14mm + 24mm + 35mm + 50mm + 85mm + 135mm + 200mm -200 mm
Supporters of fixes appeal to the fact that optics with a constant focal length produces a sharper and more artistically interesting picture.
Those who work with zoom lenses are sure that the speed of “switching” between focal lengths during sequential shooting is the most important thing for a photographer, because the seconds of delay it takes to replace one prime with another can cost a great shot. Another important point is that the focusing speed of professional zoom lenses, as a rule, is noticeably higher than primes.
What can I say – they are all right. But both approaches have one common and significant drawback – the price. The cost of a set of top fixes or top zooms can be more than the cost of two professional DSLRs.
Therefore, I can offer you a third way – to work on both zooms and fixes.
There are two lenses that a reportage photographer should have – a 35mm (or crop equivalent) and a 70-200mm telephoto lens.
On reportage The 35 mm lens takes most of the frames, and thanks to the quality of the fixed optics, the picture will be sonorous and interesting.
Telephoto 70-200mm is essential for shooting from a distance.
This lens is also absolutely indispensable for capturing portraits of event guests.
Ideally, you should also have a wider angle lens like 20 mm or 24 mm:
With these two or three lenses, you will be completely comfortable at most events.
But what if you’re shooting an “action event” and need a fast zoom lens? Or do you want the beauty of a 135mm picture on an open “hole”?
It’s very simple – rent optics ! Do you need a top-end 14-24mm, which by itself stands like a good DSLR? Rental. Need a 400mm “long-range”? Rental!
This summer I was shooting for Russian Railways in Sochi and a 500 mm lens was a must (it was necessary to shoot from such a long distance). Do you think I started buying such glass for $10,000? No, I just rented an optic and the client paid the bill. And everyone is happy.
It is perfectly normal (and very reasonable) practice to rent equipment.
Now a few words about the aperture ratio of optics. High-aperture optics is, of course, always good. In addition to its direct aperture, such optics for the most part give a very high-quality picture, but it also costs a lot of money.
In my opinion, a 70-200 mm telephoto lens must be in a reportage photographer’s bag, so that when shooting portraits of event guests, the picture turns out to be “deep”, and the bokeh is beautiful. Zoom lenses and just widths can be taken as usual, anyway, most reportage shots are taken at aperture 5.6 +/- stop.
But if finances allow, fast optics will never be superfluous.
Buying a flash for reportage shooting is much easier than choosing a lens or camera. Each manufacturing company has a line of flashes, as a rule, of 2-3 models – economy, middle class and top puff. Accordingly, buy the flash that you have enough money for, but from my own experience I will say that even with an entry-level flash, you can shoot a report. It’s just that with a top flash it’s much more comfortable to do this.
I think everything is clear with the choice of camera and optics for reporting – a camera that “holds” ISO at least 1000-1250 and 35 mm + 70-200 mm lenses – that’s the whole starter kit with which you can start shooting Events.
But professional reportage photographers use a lot of additional equipment – there are dozens of different types of flash accessories alone. And it is about reflectors, diffusers, boosters, “strobe frames”, as well as about all the rest of the “equipment” of a reportage photographer, that I will tell in my next article.