How to Pick the Best Mirrorless Camera For You

Mirrorless
Mirrorless by Zhao !, on Flickr

Given the incredibly amount of products on the internet – more of which is being released all the time – it has become fairly complex to make a choice when looking for the best mirrorless camera. The unfortunate truth of the matter is that a lot of sales representatives won’t even know what the best is if you decide to ask them. In truth, a lot of the options are actually fairly adequate overall once you hit a certain price range. You get what you pay for, after all. Technology has advanced to the point that “bad images” are becoming an increasing rarity.

To help sort out the best mirrorless camera to buy, you need to ask yourself what you need. When simply breaking down, it can lead to a myriad of questions that will help make the choice even clearer. Once you’ve done that, you can feel much more prepared when staring down the vast options in front of you. In the following, we’ll detail all you need to get started:

Questions You Should Ask

  • What will the camera be used for? Do you need it for vacation photos, family parties, sports games, or maybe shots of a personal collection you own?
  • What budget are you working with? This is very important, as it keeps you from making reckless impulse decisions.
  • Are you looking for a cheap mirrorless camera?
  • Or a the Best Mirrorless Camera for uner $1000?
  • What sort of functionality are you looking for, and how much effort can you put into learning how to use them?
  • Will the camera be just for you, or something your family also has access to?
  • How will you be using it? Is it important that it can be mounted or do you want to merely go handheld?
  • How big does the camera need to be?
  • How big a screen do you want?
  • Do you want a Viewfinder?

A good sales representative will have these sort of questions already in their back pocket when discussing any particular product with you. If you go in with the answers already worked out, you’re going to have the advantage. The more educated you already are on the matter, the easier it will be for them to give you genuine help and not just try to push one of the lower quality (or needlessly expensive) models off onto you.

The Best Mirrorless Camera Lenses

Sonnar T* FE 55mm F1.8 ZA - Sony A7R
Photo by Luke Ma on Flickr

Given the current state of the economy, products like cameras are now being made in a lot of different price ranges, shapes, sizes, and even aesthetic variants such as color. Don’t be distracted; the lenses are what you really need to focus on with a mirrorless camera. Seek out one of these:

These have individual pros and cons of course, but their relative image quality tends to be comparable. Incredibly trained eyes are really the only ones able to see such differences. For general to advanced use, any of the systems above should serve you well. All of those manufacturers carry good quality lenses, flashes, and other accessories that work well with the corresponding system as well.

Ergonomics And Feel

Camera manufacturers all have their own unique approach to ergonomics and aesthetics. For example,Fujifilm and Olympus seem to cater to simple shapes with a retro feel. Then you have the likes of Sony and Panasonic that keep everything as contemporary as possible with lots of sleek curves. Nikon and Samsung on the other hand keep things a bit bare bones, catering to the “point and shoot” method of shooting. There are some exceptions here and there but if you really take a close look you’ll likely see those trends over and over again. Figure out which body type you feel would be best for your hands. Ask a sales representative if you can get some hands-on time with the products that interest you to be on the safe side.

Focusing

Panasonic, Sony, Olympus, Samsung, and Nikon have the fastest and highest quality auto focus abilities, if that matters to you. Capturing moments at sports games or at home while children or pets play are much easier with a fast focusing camera. It’s for the best to look up reviews for a solid understanding of how well a model focuses. Example shots from the manufacturer may be altered. Filter them by “3 stars” to get a balanced opinion.

Image quality

This is the most important aspect of any camera, of course. This is a big point of contention, but the medium to high end priced models from the manufacturers above will likely serve you well. Sony and Fujifilm are great for outputting incredibly quality that lends itself to post-processing and image editing. Olympus will give you good JPEGS that you don’t have to worry much about. They all have their strengths. If you can find a model that fits your budget and maybe even has a cool feature or two (i.e. shooting high speed video, time lapse, or long exposure) then you are sure to have quite a good time with your camera overall.

the beloved Gina, Taipei - Sony A7r
by Luke Ma, on Flickr
the beloved Gina - Sony A7R
by Luke Ma, on Flickr

Conclusion

No matter what you are looking for, an affordable mirrorless camera kit, a mid-level mirrorless camera, the best mirrorless camera under $1000, or a Professional level Mirrorless Camera make sure you check out our individual reviews before you decide to make your purchase! Also, don’t forget to grab your our free DSLR Beginners Guide!! And yes a lot of the content is applicable to your Mirrorless Camera too!!

Review: Magmod Magsphere Flash Diffuser

magmod magsphereCrowdfunding has brought us many useful products. Some of these products would not have been possible without the help of crowd sourcing websites such as Kickstarter. One such product that has been made possible by Kickstarter is the Magmod MagSphere

It is a Compact flash modifier and the creators promise that it will make your flash 300% bigger. In other words, it offers a very soft lighting and it is one of the products that we feel can take on the Gary Fong Lightsphere Collapsible.

It’s important to note that this product is not completely revolutionary but it is designed smartly. In fact, we are of the opinion that this product has the potential to completely change the manner in which light modifiers are attached to flash lights in the near future. We are going to take a very close look at this product.

Let us first take a close look at the various pros and cons of this flash modifier.

Pros

  • It is very compact in size.
  • It is highly durable and leaves behind the Gary Fong Lightsphere in durability.
  • It easily connects to the camera.
  • It produces extremely soft light when the situation is right.

Cons

  • The texture is not really smooth but it is highly durable.
Photo from https://magnetmod.com/
Photo from https://magnetmod.com/

Specifications

It has dimensions of 2.5 x 5 x 3.25 inches and it weighs 0.56 pounds. Information from their Website

 Key Features

Ergonomically Designed

As mentioned above, this flash modifier is different in design. It has a bulbous shape but not exactly. The shape plateaus at one point. In the picture above, the Magsphere is at the top and the Magmod is around the head.

You can use magnets to connect the Magmod and the Magsphere. These magnets put together create a really heavy feeling lock and it’s very different from the belt system. It is very easy to use and its ergonomics are completely straightforward. We feel that the design is very clever as it can be attached in a straightforward manner and it can also be flipped in either direction.

You can easily see the flash head while looking straight on. It doesn’t need more diffusion if it is used in the correct manner.

 Build Quality

As far as the texture of this product is concerned, it has a bit of a weird feeling but you are not buying this product to fondle it with your hands. It feels extremely durable and is pliable. Users need to attach it to the Magmod using the magnets and there is absolutely nothing more to using it.

 Usability

It is extremely easy to use. The most difficult part in using this product is to attach the Magmod to the flash as it requires use of your thumbs and hand to stretch it to get it into the right place. Once that is done, you can easily fix the light modifier directly onto the Magmod easily. You will also need to ensure that it is fixed a bit further down the flash head.

Once the above is in place, you just need to pop it on and position the light at the right spot to start shooting. We do recommend making use of a light meter to get the best results but it does work well in TTL.

 Image Quality

We are extremely impressed by the light diffusion by this product. It diffuses light very subtly that is comparable to the diffusion produced by the Streaklight series by Adorama Flashpoint. The diffusion is very different from the diffusion you get when you point a light source at the ceiling.

Photo from https://magnetmod.com/
Photo from https://magnetmod.com/
Photo from https://magnetmod.com/
Photo from https://magnetmod.com/

Conclusion

It is a highly useful flash modifier that is not just fun to use but it also has the potential to change the way products are created in this category by the manufacturers. Photographers who use small flashes and cannot afford to carry around a big softbox will find it very useful. However, this is not a replacement but it can be easily carried in a camera by most strobists.

Buy a Magmod MagSphere Here

 

Review: Godox Witstro AR400 Ring Flash

Awhile back when I was stumbling my way around portrait photography, I discovered the mystery that is ring flashes. Ring flashes deliver a lot of punch for the money. They give off a beautiful light in the eyes of the model and that is a huge part of what the fashion world values now days.

If you look at the present, ring flashes are still very popular. Terry Richardson has fine tuned this look and it has yet to go away. However, that doesn’t mean that the ring flashes can only master that sort of such work, in fact, ring flashes, are capable of a whole lot more.

In recent years, Godox has come out with Witstro AR400. This is a ring flash compact solution that is an alternative to some of the more expensive versions available on the market today. However, there are a few drawbacks.

Pros

  • At $499 to $599 with warranty, it’s not a bad price.
  • Very spectacular light output.
  • Nice compact packaging.
  • Adjustable modeling light which works well for video.
  • Quick recycle time.

Cons

  • It’s heavy, especially after you’ve been holding it for awhile.
  • There isn’t a location to mount the radio trigger in lieu of plugging it in.

Tech Specs

Direct from the Godox Website.

Main Features:

Versatile and Even Illumination

With shadow free illumination, the ring flash AR400 easily adopts the ring head. It can also use an LED video light. It’s equipped with LED lights in order to help adjust the brightness of the light. This in turn allows it to easily stabilize the light for meeting all of the demands that outdoor flashes require. Easy to use and portable. It readily meets all of the demands for outdoor photography.

Abundant Functions and Strong Power

The AR400 boasts over 400W of strong power and has 22 steps to control the power. From 1/1 to 1/128 you’re sure to locate the exact depth you’ll require. Supports a S1/S2 slave trigger. It also supports RPT stroboscopic flash and high speed sync.

Professional Lithium Battery

Professional lithium battery with the AR400. You’ll have over 450 times the power output and you’ll appreciate the 0.05-2.8s time for recycle. A battery charger comes included with the accessory kit to ensure that you’ll never be without.

Wireless Remote

There’s nothing more disconcerting than having to work around wires. The FT-16 wireless power control flash (sold separately) allows you to easily control the flashes power output as well as all other flash functions.

Convenient Accessories

This unit comes fully equipped with a folding light bracket as well as an umbrella bracket and a diffusion cover. All of the accessories are very easy to install and detach and that is very helpful to achieve creative light effects.

Ergonomics

Godox Witstro AR400 is a fairly large unit for those who are used to light modifiers that are used for hot shoe flashes. However, if you’ve shot with a genuine ring flash, it’s not too challenging of an issue. This flash is characterized by a giant ring. It’s large and fat and very heavy, but yet more compact that others that are on the market today. The large white area ensures that proper diffusion is solid.

If you turn the top around, you’ll see a complete method of mounting the camera to the flash by using a rain system which can raise and lower the entire camera as well as bring the unit into the donut circle. For good results, make sure that the front of said lens is entirely through the flash ring.

You’ll find the ports on the side of the flash ring. One will work for connectivity and updates to the firmware. The other two will be for radio trigger ports when using a wireless flash trigger. You could even spot mount the triggers after they’re plugged in.

At the back of the unit, you’ll see the battery near the bottom along the rails that are used when connecting the unit to the flash. You’ll want to ensure that these are tightly connected so the camera won’t fall out.

At the back, you’ll also locate the controls to the flash. You can adjust them very easily.

Build Quality

The AR400 ring is built very well. In fact, you’ll be surprised at how sturdy and the great quality that it has. The sturdiness is also rather hefty. You’re going to need to be strong armed to use this puppy. Your wrist is going to get a workout. Thankfully, the Godox has a variety of tripod mounting options so you can take advantage of them.

If you’re using a light in this fashion, you should use a good lens as well which increases the weight.

Ease Of Use

When you use the light to shoot a photo, it’s pretty easy. If you have a PC port we suggest that you always choose that option. Simply hook the PC cord to the camera and the end of the cable to the light. From there you shouldn’t have any issues.

I chose my Canon DSLR Camera and the company didn’t have a PC port in my unit. We had to add a PocketWizard Plus III transmitter to it. The receiver fell out several times so we had to wrap our wrists around it to hold it in while shooting.

Setting aside the Canon DSLR Camera issue, the ring flash worked to accommodate the camera with a mounting system. We simply changed a few settings and shot quickly and easily. We suggest using the light as a handheld meter to get the best possible results.

Image Quality

We discovered that we needed to have the light up close and personal to get the best results with the Godox. To do this we had to have the light along with the shadowless light in the eye. We had to use the right exposure settings and catch the light correctly in the eye to get the best results.

The farther from your subject, the more powerful your light is going to have to be. You may need to stop down the lens as well. With a bit of practice you’ll get the hang of it in not time at all.

Power Output

At 400 watts of power you’ll not have to crank it up much, if any.

Color Consistency

We ran into a few issues here. A few of the times the light wasn’t warm and other times it was too cool. If this isn’t an issue for you then, great. However, if it is, you’re going to have to get Profoto or Broncolor to even it out a bit more. It is expensive to have things just as you like, but oh so worth it if you’re a picky photographer like many of us are.

Conclusion

Godox Witstro AR400 flash ring is gorgeous and sturdy and it can do a great job. It’s best when professionals use it as they are more familiar with the overall functions of such a piece of equipment. It’s a great investments for the pros to have their hands on. Those just learning will take some time getting the hang of it but all in all it’s a great investment for fashion photographers, semi professionals and photo booths.

Things I Liked about the AR400 Ring Flash

  • Fair and reasonably priced.
  • Powerful light output.
  • Excellent quality.

Things I didn’t’ like about the Witstro AR400

  • The color consistency issues.
  • Heavy to carry around and use.

Phottix Indra 500 TTL Review

In late 2014 the Phottix Indra 500 TTL was released. Phottix has a well-established reputation for delivering effective, simple, well built, reliable and affordable products. So when the company said that monolight would include TTL capabilities for both Nikon and Canon cameras in one monolight in addition to many creative control that other lights offered, it definitely appeared to be a win-win situation right off the bat.

Then the unit arrived. At the time I didn’t know my DSLR Camera was on its last legs. We also weren’t aware that the Odin trigger’s first version (used for transmitting and controlling light) really didn’t work all that well. We ended up switching both the camera and the trigger and we  didn’t have many problems after making these changes.

At Photo Plus 2014 we played around with Phottix Indra, and thought it was a really good deal. In one package, there is light that is DC and AC capable, has TTL transmission for Cannon and Nikon (and possibly Sony in the future), well built body, ports for PocketWizards and other transmitters, adjustable modelling light, stroboscopic mode and manual light control.

Phottix Indra 500 TTL is incredible, and although it may not be a perfect monolight, it is probably the closest to that available in today’s marketplace.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • TTL light transmission at 500 watts of power
  • Simple menu interface. Sometimes too long, but more compact than all of the rest.
  • Survived a six foot drop
  • With this unit we were able to perform a second curtain flash using the Canon 5D Mk II
  • Compact size
  • A very comprehensive and affordable package

Cons

  • The frost glass dome cover broke. The impact prevention design also could be improved even when the umbrella reflector is attached.
  • When high speed sync is used, the battery dies very fast. When using this feature, it needs to be charged after every shot.
  • It would be nice if the original Odin performed better with this unit. Triggering the light is all it basically does.

Ergonomics

phottix indra500 ttlIn many ways the Phottix Indra 500 TTL looks very similar to other monolights. However, it is a lot smaller than most of the other ones that are currently being offered in the market. It is also lighter. The thing you will notice immediately is the monolight’s bright green branding. It really hits you between the eyes and stands out.

On the top you will notice that there’s a place where an umbrella can be inserted and locked in. An umbrella reflector can be paired with the umbrella.

In the front, you will see an area connecting the spreedrings, umbrella reflector and the place where the light comes form.

On the other side, you will that the face is very minimal except for the small port cover. When you lift that up, you will see that there is an area for connecting a sound cable and USB cable for radio triggers.

All of the action takes place on the back part of the monolight. This is where the LCD screen is, along with a modeling light button, a control button, several tactile buttons, a ready light and much more.

Build Quality

This is a very solid monolight- greater than the Paul C buff Einstein E640 and less solid than the Profoto B1 air units. The real test took place when a gust of wind came through when the monolight had a big umbrella attached to it and was on a light stand. We tried to keep it steady using our weights. However, mother nature definitely had other ideas.

The umbrella and monolight both fell. Unfortunately, the umbrella cannot be used any longer. However, for the most part, the monolight was still fine. The one problem that we experienced was that the glass on the frosted dome shattered. This dome adds extra diffusion, cools down the color temperature and provides the flash bulb with protection. The only inconvenience to us that was caused is that in post-production we had to do some white balancing. However, that was easy to fix.

Of course these types of things will happen, so we weren’t all that surprised. Honestly just about any monolight will have these kinds of issues, except for maybe the Profoto B1 air units. You have to expect these kinds of things to happen from time to time. They don’t have it due to the fact that the battery and reflector have been incorporoated into the design. So you pay extra for the design.

The battery pack is pretty small. However, if you don’t have any problems using it, and don’t anticipate you’ll be doing crazy things while you are shooting when you have an umbrella on a day that is slightly windy, then you don’t have anything to worry about.

Ease of Use

phottix flash trigger testing
From flickr by Jerry Lai

Many of the settings can be changed on the Phottix Indra 500 TTL monolight. For controlling the light, you can use the Odin 2 or Odin 1.5. However, you aren’t able to see the physical changes reflected on its LCD screen. You can be quite confident about the fact that your transmitter will be completely taking over.

If you’d like to change the actual light settings, there are about four menus you can use by pressing on one of the four that are available and then using the green button to scroll through to find what you are looking for. You can also click the button to confirm all of your settings. Once all of our issues had been worked out, we couldn’t believe how amazing the quality delivered by the Indra 500 TTL was.

Light Output

Erica
From flickr by Fabio Salmoirago

According to our light meter readings, the light puts out light at 500 watt seconds on a consistent basis. Throughout the shooting it also didn’t have a tendency to lose power. It delivers spectacular and beautiful light. Also, 500 watt seconds is beyond what a majority of photographers actually need.

 

Power

We rock the city
From flickr by awgnashua

Would you like to overpower the sun? With this light it can be done via high speed sync capabilities or just using an ND filter. Just about any challenge or situation that you might run into when shooting can by handled by this modern digital camera technology and light.

We tried to test the light using our old Canon Elan 7 SLR that we had from our film days. However, the Odin 1.5 did not fit right in the hot shoe. Eventually we will try this out.

Color Consistency

Forest Sunrise
From Flickr by Allan

Our test didn’t find any color consistency problems when this monolight was used. When they did occur, they were minor. You will not get the performance of the Broncolor or Profoto. However, for most photographers it will more than acceptable, if they know how to use the edit sync features on Lightroom.

Conclusion

We have asked to have a monolight that could do both manual transmission and TTL transmission for years. Profoto provided us with that. Now Phottix has released their exciting solution, which took years to develop.

Getting into lighting is easier than ever. It is a very exciting time for the world of photography.

The Indra 500 TTL monolight has tons of light output, is sturdy, easy to use, compact for carrying, and doesn’t kill my back after a long day of shooting. We really couldn’t ask for anything more.
Check on the Latest Prices of the Phottix Indra 500 TTL