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Top 5 Digital Cameras Under $1,200 for Beginners-Amateurs

 graphic for best digital cameras for beginners and amateurs 

Note: This post is part of our "Learn Blog" for photographers. For workshops, coaching, and other resources designed to help grow your skills as a photographer click here (after you read the article, of course)!  To be transparent, all links are paid advertising, as a portion of any purchase made while using these links is credited to us. Please, consider using our links to help support what we do! Thank you!


So, you've decided that it's time to get yourself or perhaps a loved one a nice, entry-level-or-a-little-better digital camera! As wedding photographers, we regularly get asked for recommendation on good digital cameras for beginners and/or amateurs. 

If your desire is to become a better photographer, our advice is to always consider what camera you already have and to be sure you're getting your full use out of that. It's easy to overlook all that your camera can accomplish and learning how to use a camera both in technical terms and with artistic skill can vastly improve photos more than getting a more expensive camera. 

However, sometimes our camera gear (or lack thereof) may prevent us from being able to photograph in the manner we want. Maybe you have a camera that just won't take photos well in low-light, or maybe you'd really like to find a small and fun-to-use camera that you can take for travel.

Whatever your case may be, in this article we'll take a look at a few of the top digital cameras under $1,200 that we'd recommend!

 Things to Consider Before Purchasing an Entry Level Camera

When your speciality isn't cameras, all the technical details and differences between the various cameras can seem overwhelming. But, if you're armed with a few details, it'll go a long way in helping yourself or your loved one capture great images. 

One thing to note is that entry level cameras often come with a "kit lens". This is usually a zoom lens that has an variable "aperture", meaning that the aperture gets "smaller" the more you zoom in. 

Now, you may be wondering why that matters. In short, an aperture controls 1) how much light can get into your camera's sensor and 2) how much is in focus in your image. With a variable aperture, the more you zoom in, the less light you have available to take your photo. This means that taking photos in low-light may get more difficult the more you zoom in. To learn more about aperture, be sure to check out this article on f stops and aperture!

So, kit lenses typically are 1) not as effective in low light compared to non-variable lenses, and 2) they are not great for creating background blur that is typically desirable for portraits. 

So, why do we mention all this?

Well, there's a trade-off that you should be aware of. If you or your loved one just wants a good all-around lens to take to trips to the zoo where you'll need to take really close pictures and pictures further away, you may want to go with the kit lens. 

But, if you or your loved one wants a lens that's better for portraits and for low-light scenarios such as indoor events (think birthday parties, family get-togethers, trips to art museums, etc.), then choosing a fixed focal length and constant aperture lens is the way to go. 

To make this convenient for you, when we mention a camera that comes with a kit lens, we'll also recommend a fixed focal length lens that might be a better fit if you're on the look-out for something that's better in the low-light portrait realm of photography. 

 

List of the Top 5 Digital Cameras for Beginners-Amateurs

$1000-1200

If you're looking for a lightweight, travel-friendly, and sharp-looking camera, the X-T20 if a great choice. With 4K video capabilities, a touch screen, and excellent in-camera jpeg rendering, this little camera is an excellent choice for a walk-around camera to meet all the little moments family get-togethers, trips to new-to-you places, or whatever else comes your way. 

Cons:

•The lens that comes with this camera won't create a lot of "background blur" in most instances. If you're looking for a camera that's a little better for artistic portraits, you might want to consider another option below, or upgrading to another lens like the Fuji 56mm 1.2 later down the road.

Canon 6D with 50mm 1.8 Lens

The Canon 6D is a fantastic option for photographers that are wanting to do artistic portraits, and maybe step up into some more professional level work. It has fantastic focusing and low-light capabilities, and with the 50mm 1.2 STM lens from Canon you've got a set up that will be great for just about any walk-around situation.

The 6D also features a "full-frame" sensor, as compared to a crop frame sensor that is used in many of the other options $1000 and under. The benefits of a full-frame sensor include more ability to blur your background when desired and typically a more "3D" look to your images.

Cons:

•This lens is not a zoom, so getting wider and/or tighter shots than 50mm will require another lens.

•It's also not as "trendy-looking" compared to an option like the Fuji X-T20 (if that matters to you.

•Not as travel-friendly as some of the other options, though it isn't a large camera by any means.

•Jpegs don't shine quite as much out of camera as Fuji X-Series cameras like the X-T20.

•No 4K video

•No autofocus for video

 

$600-900

Canon SL2 EF-S 18-55mm STM Lens - WiFi Enabled

The SL2 is a small, lightweight entry level digital camera that packs several great features for beginners. For one, it features an articulating screen that makes it easy to get a cariety of angles without having to twist and turn your body.

It also features built in WiFi, allowing you to take photos and then download directly to your phone.

The SL2 is a nice choice for a travel-size, inexpensive camera set-up for beginners.

Coupled with the 50mm 1.2 STM lens from Canon for just over $100, this combo would be great for walk-around and travel!

Cons:

•Not a super attractive camera, aethetically speaking

•Some say it feels a bit "toyish" due to size and build

•Can't take pictures as fast as some of the more expensive models

•Some report that the menus are a little more difficult to navigate since some options that are more easily accessed on larger models are tucked within the navigation to accomodate the smaller camera body size

Sony Alpha a6000 Digital Camera with 16-50mm Kit Lens

This camera is small, lightweight, has good autofocus, good image quality, an articulating screen, and WiFi capability.

It also can shoot 11 frames per second, which is nice if you'll be photographing action such as kids, sports, etc.

Worth noting, this camera came out in 2014 and seems to still be holding is value well.

Though not as cheap as Canon 50mm lens options, Sony does make a 50mm 1.8 lens that would make this set up low-light friendly.

Cons:

•Sony is not known for producing the pretty colors

$300-500

Canon EOS Rebel T6 Digital SLR Camera Kit with EF-S 18-55mm and EF 75-300mm Zoom Lenses

This set up is nice because it does come with two lenses. It also comes with built in WiFi.

Now, you might ask, "well, why is it cheaper if it comes with so much?"

Though it does have a lot to offer in terms of zoom lenses to get both up close, far away, and basically anything in between, the your going to compromise a little on image quality and performance.

Again, you can pair it with a Canon 50mm 1.2 STM lens and have a great upgrade lens-wise in terms of image quality and low-light ability, albeit without zoom.

Cons:

•No autofocus for video

•Not great for low-light

Final Remarks

So, regardless of your budget, you can get started making great photos with whatever camera you have. But, now you've at least got a few good options in mind!

Tell us below in the comments what other cameras you've been considering that we didn't list!

 

 

 

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Pentax 67 Focusing Screen Comparison

If there's one weakness to shooting with the Pentax 67 cameras, well, besides the weight and film loading that takes some practice, it's the poor viewing screen.

Yes, it is sort of dim. But it's also dull. The contrast isn't great and the only reason it's fairly easy to focus with is because of the sheer size of the image.  

So, I began a search to find a way to improve the focusing screen in my Pentax 67s. 

Testing the Screens (Methodology)

I tested three bodies in a dark room using only a ring light lighting the subject at a fixed distance, all with the same lens (105mm 2.4, wide open), and all images were taken with the same camera and settings (1/160th at f/2.8, ISO 1600):

  1. A Pentax 67 with a microprism screen
  2. A Pentax 67 with a gridded matte screen
  3. A Pentax 67 with a Maxwell Hi-LUX Brilliant Matte screen

As a note, there are other Pentax 67 screens. Also, the Pentax 67ii has an improved screen over the 67, though I don't yet have the 67ii examples up. I have tested the 67ii microprism screen and have found that it is nearly as good as the Hi-LUX, with a slight edge the the Hi-LUX. As I find time, I'll also upload those photos of the 67ii screen.

The images you will see below are all RAW exported JPEG's. I did not do post-processing to any of them besides cropping. If in any image the subject appears closer, it is only due to cropping in post and not due to a change in the location of the Pentax 67's or the subject.   

My Pentax 67 Focusing Journey

I was originally very attracted to the microprism screen because I thought using that and then recomposing would work well. 

Two problems:

1. Recomposing at a shallow depth of field can cause the focus plan to move, leaving you with out of focus images. 

2. It is near impossible to use recompose method on moving subjects. 

So, I started focusing without the micropism. At this point, the microprism started becoming an annoyance. 

I decided to try out my plain gridded matte screen, and to my surprise noticed that it was slightly brighter and provided a much more crisp image. Compared to the microprism screen, it makes it look very muddy.

Lastly, I decided to try the Maxwell Hi-LUX Matte screen. While Mr. Maxwell claims that the benefit of his screen is the contrast and optical clarity and NOT the brightness, I found both the latter and the former to be fantastic. 

Maxwell Hi-LUX Screen Really Shines

In bright light, the Maxwell screen has a bit of an edge over the gridded matte, while completely demolishing the microprism screen. 

But, in low light/shadows is where the Maxwell really shines. The microprism is a dark screen, and the gridded matte screen barely better. But the Maxwell is probably close to 2/3rds to a stop brighter than the others. That, coupled with its superb clarity makes it much easier to spot focus as the subject pops into focus. 

 Maxwell Hi-LUX Brilliant Matte Focusing Screen for Pentax 67

Maxwell Hi-LUX Brilliant Matte Focusing Screen for Pentax 67

If you don't know much about Bill Maxwell or his screens, you might be missing out. He's a very friendly chap (and his screens are pretty accommodating as well). Out of all his screens for the Pentax 67, he'll heartily recommend the Hi-LUX Brilliant Matte screen for those that use "shallow depth of field and strong off-center composition".

My Only Complaint

The Hi-LUX Brilliant Matte screen is VERY clear. Almost so clear that it is sometimes a little tricky to tell exactly what's in focus when in very bright, harsh-light conditions like outdoors on a sunny day. Now, this is in comparison to the gridded matte screen. The gridded matte is a dull screen, but when something is in focus, it's obviously not near as dull as everything else around it. But, when it gets dark, the gridded matte gets pretty tough to really tell what's going on. 

So, this isn't really so much of a complaint, as something that may need some getting-used-to if your more familiar with the Pentax 67's darker screens. My experience is just that, in bright light, the gridded matte popped just a tad bit more for me when compared to the Hi-LUX.  

A Word On the Gridded Matte vs the Microprism

The gridded matte screen performs so much better than the microprism. Unless you're doing mainly still life and almost always center compose, I highly recommend the matte over the microprism. If you're not wanting to invest in something like a Maxwell screen due to various reasons, then the gridded matte is worlds better than the microprism. 

 Microprism Focusing Screen

Microprism Focusing Screen

Gridded Matte Focusing Screen

But Of Course, The Winner Is...

So, in conclusion, the Maxwell Hi-LUX is the best out of these three screens. I have also now tested the 67ii screen and can confirm that it is ALMOST as good/clear/contrasty as the Hi-LUX, with a slight and sublte clarity/brightness advantage to the Hi-LUX. 

If you'd like to know more about Maxwell Precision Optics and their focusing screens for various cameras including the Pentax 67, visit the Maxwell Precision Facebook page, email at maxwellprecisionoptics@yahoo.com, or call them at (770) 939-6644. 

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Contax 645 vs Pentax 67 and others | Zeiss 80mm f/2 vs Pentax 105mm f/2.4 | Contax 645 Alternatives


Note: This post is part of our "Learn Blog" for photographers. For workshops, coaching, and other resources designed to help grow your skills as a photographer click here (after you read the article, of course)!  To be transparent, all links are paid advertising, as a portion of any purchase made while using these links is credited to us. Please, consider using our links to help support what we do! Thank you!


This article explores a future-forward perspective on using this system (or not) for professional work, and what other alternatives are out there that offer a similar "look" to the legendary Contax 645 combo.

For thosewho don't want the TL:DR version/that want the answers quick:

  • Contax 645s are great, but they can be very skiddish
  • I like Pentax 67 with 105mm, and highly favor the Pentax 67 w/ Cinelux lenses
  • Contax 645 is expensive up front
  • Pentax 67 is cheaper up front, but you'll pay for only having 10 frames
  • There's a lot more to this article and you may be cheating yourself if you only read this part

Up front, let's get this out: GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) is real; amazing images have been created with less than amazing cameras. However, many professional photographers own very nice cameras and there's nothing wrong with noticing and embracing excellent optics and camera bodies. 

With that said, I think the Contax 645 80mm combo possesses some of the most sought after characteristics within the realm of highly ergonomic medium format film photography.

So you know that reading this article is worth it, we'll cover:

  • My experience with a Contax 645
  • Future outlook on the Contax 645 system for professional work
  • What's so great about the Contax 645 Zeiss 80mm f/2 combo
  • Other film alternatives to the Contax 645
  • Digital alternatives to Contax 645/Medium format film cameras
  • A "Contax 645 vs Pentax 67" discussion from a wedding photographer's perspective
  • I've also included some links to other great articles on the topic that I think provide a good/slightly different perspective and information

This article was mainly written for:

  • Professional photographers looking to make the wisest, long-term decision in investing in their film camera kit workhorse 
  • Professional photographers (especially wedding photographers) considering the purchase of a Contax 645
  • Photographers looking for alternatives to what the Contax 645 kit has to offer
  • Photographers looking for further discussion on the characteristics of lenses such as the Zeiss 80mm f/2 and Pentax 105mm 

What I WON'T be covering and/or focusing on at this time is:

  • A full-fledged image comparison of various cameras/lenses
    • Why? Because I don't think that the camera/lens that produces the best image necessarily makes it the best choice in the long-term for the working professional. Plus, there are plenty of image examples out there. One can get a pretty good feel of the quality of bokeh, sharpness, etc. from doing a quick Flickr search.  

A Bit of Background

 Pentax 67 w/ ISCO Ultra MC 110 f2

Pentax 67 w/ ISCO Ultra MC 110 f2

I had originally planned to take a bunch of photos from the same perspective comparing the Pentax 67 with the 105mm f/2.4 to the Contax 645 with the Zeiss 80mm f/2. In doing this, I figured that I could give a great example of the exact visual differences between the image quality of the two lenses. However, a couple experiences changed my mind. 

My Contax 645 Experience (So Far)

My Contax 645 experience so far has been a bit jaded. Having seen the pop of the subject and super-pleasant, non-boring-yet-undistracting bokeh, I figured I'd give it a try. So, I sought out to find a kit.

After weeks of watching eBay, scouring Facebook groups, etc., I finally found a lens and body separately that were described as excellent and in fully working conditions. Once I received them, I found quite the opposite. The lens was full of fungus and the body's autofocus wasn't working at all. 

Now, I'll say that some don't have as much trouble, but that's the thing: it's a mixed bag that will only get worse, bar a miracle. This leads me to my second reason why I decided to forgo getting a Contax 645 kit for the time being.

After talking for around an hour with one of the only people in the world actually do work/repairs on the Contax 645 system, I became aware of a few things:

  1. Contax 645s are breaking at an increasing rate
  2. There are only a certain number of them
  3. The number of available shutters to replace broken shutters is rapidly decreasing
  4. Although the Zeiss 80mm lens is arguably one of the best medium format lenses ever made, the Contax 645 is known to be skittish
  5. The price for Contax 645s will continue to go up as bodies are parted out for repairs; the cameras will become rarer and more expensive to the point that few people will probably hoard the majority of the bodies, further exacerbating the price

At this point I will reiterate that this article is not to bash the Contax 645--I, even now, would love to have a Contax 645 with Zeiss 80mm, but have been convinced that it is not a very wise long-term option for my business.  

Now, to balance that, I will also mention that Bill at ProCamera in Virginia has told me that they have 6-10 years worth of parts for the Contax 645. He does not at the time of the writing of this article believe that the Contax 645 is a system that will go out of style anytime soon. 

Why Buy a Contax 645 In the First Place?

So let's isolate why people want the Contax 645. We're really talking about image quality, which comes from the glass-- the Zeiss 80mm f/2.

The properties that stand out so well with this lens are: 

  • Amazingly smooth, yet delightfully pronounced bokeh
  • Smooth transition from out of focus to in focus areas
  • Good contrast
  • Fast f/2 aperture for medium format

People use different words to describe the "pop" that a particular lens renders regarding the subject. Words like "plasticity, "roundness" micro-contrast, or "the 3D effect" have all been given various definitions, often with two people disagreeing on which word means which. Still, others say all the terms ultimately refer to the same thing. Regardless of the semantics, the pop-effect and what all actually creates it is hard to describe, though undeniable. 

When we look at Zeiss glass, we see the pinnacle of this effect as far as popular modern film photography is concerned. The subject "pops", and it's not merely just because of the bokeh, or shallow depth of field. In fact, a lens can have shallower depth of field, and yet have less pop than one with a wider depth of field. 

This effect is a combination of the medium format perspective, quality of bokeh, transition of in focus to out of focus areas, sharpness of focal point, and over-all micro-contrast. 

Many describe the bokeh as "painterly". It's extremely pleasant in terms of buttery smoothness but isn't boring or flat as some lenses. It is also interesting bokeh, but not too choppy or distracting. 

Contax 645 Zeiss 80mm f/2 vs Pentax 67 105mm f/2.4 and Other Popular Choices

Let's recap the pros and cons of the Contax 645 combo compared to other medium format options:

Contax 645 w/ Zeiss 80mm f/2

Pros:

  • Amazing image quality
  • Autofocus 

Cons:

  • Various reports on autofocus
  • Lack of reliability/finicky (randomly not working in certain conditions, lack of parts/serviceability, longevity, price, lack of supply/availability)
  • Also, in terms of practicality, this system is rumored to be finished in 10-15 years, according to my conversation with one of the few people in the world that performs repairs on Contax 645. "We're already rebuilding shutters; there's just not enough bodies around to keep junking bodies."
  • This system is quite possible not a foreseeable long-term solution beyond the next 10 years, for most shooters. 
  • Film flatness problems

Pentax 67 w/ 105mm f/2.4

Pros:

  • Amazing image quality
  • Comparable or perhaps slightly shallower depth of field compared to 80mm f/2 on Contax 645
  • 6x7 negatives provide for a very interesting perspective and high resolution, cheap, very pleasant bokeh
  • Excellent "pop" that rivals the Zeiss 80mm f/2

Cons:

  • Heavy
  • No film back/insert
  • A little difficult to load quickly
  • No autofocus
  • Not quite as low light capable at f/2.4 compared to 80mm f/2
  • Ergonomics not quite as advanced as other options
  • 10 exposures (w/ 120) vs 16 on 645

*Note: After having a lot of practice with a 67, I would argue that someone who uses one all the time can change film almost as quickly if not more quickly than someone reloading their Contax.

To check out Pentax 67 prices and average cost to getting into the system, view Pentax 67s on Ebay by clicking here.

 Image taken with Pentax 67 and 105mm f/2.4

Image taken with Pentax 67 and 105mm f/2.4

 Image taken with Pentax 67

Image taken with Pentax 67

Pentax 67 w/ Hassleblad 110mm f/2

Pros:  

  • More shallow depth of field than the Zeiss 80mm f/2. 

Cons: 

  • Quite a feat to find a 110mm f/2, afford one, and then to mount it on a Pentax 67 while achieving focus to infinity.
  • No autofocus and all the other weaknesses of a Pentax 67 kit. 

To check on prices and availability of theHasselblad 110mm f/2, click here to view it on Ebay.

Pentax 67 w/  various projection lenses

Pros: 

  • By mounting various projection lenses such as the Super Cinephors, Super Snaplites, Cineluxes, and other lenses, various focal lengths and larger than 2.4 apertures can be achieved. I have experimented with a 178mm f/1.9 lens, a Schneider Cinelux Ultra MC 120 f/2, and an ISCO Ultra MC 110mm f/2 and have achieved some pretty interesting results. You can read more about how to do this on my post How to Mount Projector Lens to Pentax 67.

Cons: 

  • Generally speaking, these are always going to be fixed aperture lenses that you will have to mount with specific hardware.
  • A lot of these older lenses do not have great coating and may flare quite a bit. These large aperture lenses are typically quite heavy.
  • Also, they may have a very limited focal range, say up to 15 meters or less. 

Note: In my current opinion, the best solid exceptions to these flaws are going to be modded Cinelux lenses. I am currently experimenting with modding a f/2 Cinelux that can focus to infinity, and which has an aperture. I will probably update this article as I experience those results. 

ISCO Ultra MC 110mm f/2 on Pentax 67

 An image photographed using a Bausch & Lomb Super  Cinephor 178mm f/1.9 on a Pentax 67. 

An image photographed using a Bausch & Lomb Super  Cinephor 178mm f/1.9 on a Pentax 67. 

Hasselblad H2 (or newer) w/ 100mm f2.2

Pros:

  • Still serviced
  • Similar look to 80mm f/2
  • Often reported as better autofocus than Contax
  • If bought used, one can spend about the same or less than current Contax 645 market prices
  • More durable/reliable
  • 100mm is arguably a better portrait focal length than the Zeiss 80mm on 645 

Cons:

  • f/2.2 not quite as low light capable as the Zeiss 80mm f/2
  • Somewhat expensive
  • 100mm 2.2 can sometimes be difficult to find
  • Bokeh is not as pronounced as 80mm f/2
  • I have owned two copies of the 100mm f/2.2 and neither has been impressively sharp @ f/2.2. 
 Hasselblad H2 w/ 100mm 2.2

Hasselblad H2 w/ 100mm 2.2

 H2 with HC 100mm f/2.2 @ 2.2

H2 with HC 100mm f/2.2 @ 2.2

To check on prices and availability ofH2 bodies, prisms, click here. To check on the appropriate film backs/inserts for H2 cameras,view the Hasselblad HM 16-32 film backs on Ebay. To check on the 100mm f/2.2, click here for ebay or here to view it on Amazon.

H2 w/ 110mm f/2 + V to H Series Adapter

Pros:

  • Great portrait setup
  • Great for low-light
  • Shallow depth of field
  • Rendering very similar to 80mm f/2

Cons:

  • Manual focus only
  • Somewhat expensive

To check out pricing and more info on this adapter to mount V series lenses to H series bodies, check it out on Amazon and Ebay

 

Mamiya AFD with 80mm 2.8

Pros:

  • Autofocus
  • Very affordable compared to the Contax combo.

Cons:

  • Not as low-light capable at 2.8
  • Depth of field not as shallow as other options

Mamiya 645 with 80mm 1.9

Pros:

  • Similar depth of field
  • Cheaper
  • More reliable
  • More reliable

Cons:

  • Arguably not as pleasant bokeh (often described as "weak" or "busy")
  • No autofocus

Contax 645 vs Pentax 645

Pentax 645 Nii with 75mm FA

Pros:

  • Cheaper
  • More reliable
  • Plenty of parts
  • Better autofocus
  • Good image quality  

Cons:

  • Not quite the level of plasticity/microcontrast we see in the Zeiss 80mm f2
  • Not quite as capable in low light at 2.8
  • Less shallow depth of field
  • No interchangeable film backs/inserts must be changed after roll is finished. (I personally don't mind this "shortcoming"
  • I think this combo can tend to look a little "sterile". It's not bad at all; it just doesn't have "the look" for me.
  • My experience with Pentax 645 bodies has been mixed. I have owned both all three version of the Pentax 645, and have had bad experiences with the two earlier ones. Now, this may have been from a defective insert. But strangely, I have spoken to quite a few that have reported the same issues. Other problems such as film flatness issues and/or the mirror not resting all the way down can also result in focusing issues. 
 Pentax 645 with FA 75mm 2.8

Pentax 645 with FA 75mm 2.8

Pentax 645 w/ 105mm (via adapter)

Pros: 

  • Images with the 105mm look great
  • Using this on the Pentax 645 allows images to take on the amazing character of that lens 

Cons: 

  • No autofocus
  • Images don't look as good as the Pentax 67 or the Contax/Zeiss 80mm combo
  • Somewhat heavy
  • Same potential film flatness issues as Pentax 645 w/ 75mm FA
 Image shot using Pentax 645 Medium Format Camera w/ adapter Pentax 105mm f/2.4

Image shot using Pentax 645 Medium Format Camera w/ adapter Pentax 105mm f/2.4

Pentax 645 with Bokeh Factory Zeiss 80mm f/2

Pros:

  • Zeiss look
  • Mechanical reliability of Pentax 645

Cons:

  • My experience with Pentax 645 bodies has been mixed. I have owned both all three version of the Pentax 645, and have had bad experiences with the two earlier ones. Now, this may have been from a defective insert. But strangely, I have spoken to quite a few that have reported the same issues. 
  • Other cons can include the following: expensive, cannot change aperture from f/2, no autofocus, wait time/availability.

Pentax 645nii w/ projection lenses

Pros:

  • Cinelux lenses 105mm and up can be modded pretty effectively, from reports that I've heard. These lenses are f/2, which is fantastic. A 100mm Cine Xenon lens on my 645nii is my current project. I think this is a fantastic option. A 100mm f/2 is about a 62mm f/1.25 when compared with a 35mm/full-frame perspective. I think this makes for a great all-around portrait/details combo.  There also exists several other lenses I'm working to test. Some of these have as low as f/1.6 minimum aperture. 
  • Bright focusing screen for good manual focus control

Cons: 

  • Lenses are difficult to find. They take time to mod. Manual focus only. 
 Pentax 645 with Schneider Cine Xenon 100mm f/2

Pentax 645 with Schneider Cine Xenon 100mm f/2

Pentax 645 w/ Summicron 90mm f/2

Pros: 

  • I have not used this combo, but am aware that it produces pretty desirable results. I don't like the rendering as much as I do that of the Cinelux lenses, though. That's just me!
  • A huge benefit is its ability to focus close (I've heard 60mm when modded by The Bokeh Factory) to infinity.
  • Also, it can retain the changeable aperture, so you can shoot at f/2 and more!\

Cons: 

  • No autofocus. 

Mamiya 645 w/ other options listed above with Pentax 645

Pros: 

  • I haven't used the Mamiya 645. With that said, I've heard that the Mamiya allows lenses to be modded to allow for further focusing distances, easier. That's a nice thing if you want a lens to focus further. 

Cons: 

  • I've heard the focusing screen is darker and does not allow for as easy focusing.

Digital Options/Alternatives to Contax 645 and/or Medium Format Film

Perhaps you've thought about getting the look of the 80mm f/2, but would like to consider digital options. Since "the look" of the medium format perspective is unique and interesting, here are a few options that provide some of that "look".

Keep in mind that film 645s shoot a negative that is 56 x 42mm. Many digital backs or "digital medium format" 645s are a different crop than film 645s.

The largest sensor size at the time of this writing for digital 645 is 53.9 x 40.4mm for a "CCD" sensor and 53.4 x 40.1mm for a "CMOS" sensor. Though slightly smaller than "true" 645, these are very close to their film counterparts.

Phase One XF or DF+ w/ IQ260 w/ Contax 80mm f/2, Cinelux, etc.

Pros:

  • Large 53.7 x 40.4 sensor size
  • If you shoot a lot of film, switching to digital could save tons over the years. We calculated that, when shooting only 10 rolls per wedding at 30 weddings a year, we'd save about $7,500 per year on film, developing/scanning, shipping, etc. 
  • Since you're investing in valuable goods, you can sell your gear at some point and still recover cost. With film, you shoot it and there's no object that you can sell/use to recover your initial investment.

Cons: 

  • Expensive
  • Have heard images referred to as a bit "crunchy" compared to film

Phase One XF or H2 Body w/ IQ1 100mp Digital Back w/ Contax 80mm f/2, Cinelux, etc.

Pros: 

  • Large sensor size of 53.4 x 40.1 (which is about as big as you get at this time
  • 15 stops of dynamic range
  • If you shoot a lot of film, switching to digital could save tons over the years. We calculated that, when shooting only 10 rolls per wedding at 30 weddings a year, we'd save about $7,500 per year on film, developing/scanning, shipping, etc. 
  • Since you're investing in valuable goods, you can sell your gear at some point and still recover cost. With film, you shoot it and there's no object that you can sell/use to recover your initial investment.

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Difficult to find used
  • Have heard images referred to as a bit "crunchy" compared to film

Phase One XF + Leaf Credo 60 w/ Contax 80mm f/2, Cinelux, etc.

Pros: 

  • Large sensor size of 53.9 x 40.4
  • Handles light a lot like film, in my opinion.
  • If you shoot a lot of film, switching to digital could save tons over the years. We calculated that, when shooting only 10 rolls per wedding at 30 weddings a year, we'd save about $7,500 per year on film, developing/scanning, shipping, etc. 
  • Since you're investing in valuable goods, you can sell your gear at some point and still recover cost. With film, you shoot it and there's no object that you can sell/use to recover your initial investment.

Cons: 

  • Expensive up front cost.
  • If your workflow is heavily dependent on your lab providing you with scans that look exactly how you want them, switching to digital may cause unwanted editing stress.
  • I still love film : )

Fuji GFX w/ various lenses

 

Pros: 

  • Great in low-light/High ISO capabilities
  • Can accommodate many lenses
  • If you shoot a lot of film, switching to digital could save tons over the years. We calculated that, when shooting only 10 rolls per wedding at 30 weddings a year, we'd save about $7,500 per year on film, developing/scanning, shipping, etc. 
  • Since you're investing in valuable goods, you can sell your gear at some point and still recover cost. With film, you shoot it and there's no object that you can sell/use to recover your initial investment.
  • Can use Speedbooster to achieve more shallow depth of field

Cons: 

  • Not a true 645 (43.8 x 32.9mm sensor vs 56 x 42mm)
  • Expensive up front cost
  • Doesn't look quite as good as really well scanned Fuji 400H/Portra 400 (etc.) film, in my opinion.
  • If your workflow is heavily dependent on your lab providing you with scans that look exactly how you want them, switching to digital may cause unwanted editing stress.
  • Images can sometimes appear "crunchy" compared to film
  • If Speedbooster is used, distortion may occur

To check out this body and average cost to getting into the system, view the Fuji GFX 50S on Ebay and Amazon

Sony A7Riii w/ Zeiss 80mm f/2 + Speedbooster

Pros: 

  • Smaller body and weight
  • Can use Kipon Baveyes C645 Speedbooster adapter effectively
  • Has a look very close to Contax 645/80mm when using Speedbooster

Cons:

  • Speedbooster may effect image quality to some degree; minor distortion may occur in certain parts of the image including some effect to the bokeh which might be described as some loss to "buttery-smoothness" and added "jittery-ness"
  • If your workflow is heavily dependent on your lab providing you with scans that look exactly how you want them, switching to digital may cause unwanted editing stress.

 

Pentax 67 vs Contax 645

Out of all these, my current choice is the Pentax 67. Generally speaking, the larger 6x7 perspective is the most interesting, in my opinion. The 6x7 negatives are just glorious. Yes, it's heavy, and no it doesn't have autofocus, but that's ok. It produces the lovely portraits I want it to and nailing focus is easy with the large viewing screen.

The Pentax 67 has a look to it as unique as the Contax combo. I personally prefer the perspective of the 67 over the contax combo, although I still believe the Contax combo has slightly better plasticity/micro-contrast, which lends itself to amazing up close shots with super lovely bokeh. They're different looks with different strengths, and I honestly couldn't pick one over the other universally in terms of image quality.

The Pentax 67 is a camera with plenty of replacement parts and the price has yet to shoot as high as the Contax 645. In my mind, this is a huge reason why I want to continue becoming super familiar with the Pentax 67. My philosophy is that the camera I'm most familiar with is the camera that I essentially become one with--I'm more able to focus on composition, timing, and artistic expression.

So, since the Pentax 67 has so many wonderful aspects and since it seems like it will be very serviceable/replaceable in the case of failure, it's my current workhorse.

Contax 645 vs Pentax 67 For Wedding Photography

As a wedding photographer, I am sometimes met with amazement by others who would never consider the Pentax 67 for wedding photography. However, I find it a joy to use at weddings. 

The largest concerns with using the Pentax 67 at weddings are:

  • Weight
  • Difficulty with film loading
  • Only 10 frames per roll
  • Loudness of the shutter
  • No autofocus

I think these are all valid concerns.

Weight: I do struggle with the weight of carrying my Pentax 67 all day. In my opinion, the biggest advantage of the Contax 645 over the Pentax 67 for weddings is that the Contax is a bit lighter.  However, I typically will have an assistant hold it when I don't need to be shooting it. Plus, with all the money I've saved on not buying a Contax, I can afford a set of weights and a membership to the gym, enabling me to gain some extra muscle to tolerate the minor weight difference between the Contax and the Pentax. 

Film loading: After much practice, I feel pretty confident with loading my Pentax 67 quickly. The biggest difficulty I had was getting the fresh roll's spool to lock into place. Once I learned that you could apply pressure to the locking metal knob on the bottom while rolling the roll backward, it's become a much easier process. Also, using all that money saved on not buying a Contax 645 kit means you can afford to hire an assistant to load your Pentax 67 for you! 

Only 10 frames: I suppose digital-focused photographers might say to a 35mm user, "only 36 exposures?" or a 35mm user to a 645 user "only 16 frames?". I like to think that 10 frames lend itself to "quality over quantity" mentality. While my math would say that having 16 frames should save a lot of money vs having 10, I also have found that my keepers with the 67 are much higher than with 645. So there's definitely some give and take. 

Loudness of the shutter: I will admit--I've gotten some looks from guests during the wedding ceremony when this thing slaps. But honestly, I don't think it's that big of a deal. I actually find my Pentax 645 to be a more annoying of a shutter sound and advance. 

No autofocus: After shooting the Pentax 67 for a while, autofocus became far less important to me. I can clearly see my focus and am becoming better and better at snapping the subject into focus. I don't know that I've ever had a higher in focus ratio with any other camera (including digital).

When compared to the Contax 645, despite these "cons" to using the Pentax 67,  I still think the Pentax 67 is the best option for me. I'm aware that film loading can be much quicker with the interchangeable backs of the Contax, but it's not super convenient to carry around a lot of preloaded backs. I've seen many Contax shooters merely shoot and then load a roll directly into the back of the body. To me, this seems almost as time-consuming as loading a roll into the Pentax 67.

Future Possible Solutions to the Contax 645 Dilemna

It's quite possible that kickstarter projects or something similar are generated to provide solutions to the era of failing film cameras. But, other than that, there are a few options that might prove very realistic in the coming years.

Digital cameras image quality is becoming better and better. While I don't perceive anything replacing the look of film completely anytime soon, a camera similar to the Fuji GFX matched with various lenses could be a good choice. Also, I've seen very favorable results from Phase One XF with Lead Credo 60 digital back.

As technology progesses, these rather expensive systems/their technology should become more accessible. This may make it more financially feasible to find oneself shooting a digital camera that provides a perspective close to a true 645 negative. That, coupled with lenses such as the 80mm f/2 and Schneider Cinelux lenses will allow shooting an image that is very similar to what we love about being able to shoot on medium format film.

Conclusion

Although an amazing kit, the Contax 645/ Zeiss 80mm combo is in a potentially dangerous position as the bodies known for their skittishness become more rare and more hoarded. Several other options exists, although each has it's own drawbacks. There are a handful of really great options out there that present there own challenges and drawbacks.

I choose to believe that, ultimately, amazing photographs can be made despite the lack or presence of certain gear. That said, the Pentax 67 is my current choice for professional work.  

What are your thoughts? What other camera bodies would you include? 

 

Related Blog Posts

 
 
 
 

Other Similar Articles from Other Websites on Contax 645 Comparison


 

 

 

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How to Adapt Projector Lenses to Pentax 67

 Super Snaplite 7" f/1.9

Super Snaplite 7" f/1.9


Note: This post is part of our "Learn Blog" for photographers. For workshops, coaching, and other resources designed to help grow your skills as a photographer click here (after you read the article, of course)!  To be transparent, all links are paid advertising, as a portion of any purchase made while using these links is credited to us. Please, consider using our links to help support what we do! Thank you!


Why Adapt Projector Lenses?

Awhile back, I began to experiment with different lenses on my Pentax 67. My desire was to find a lens that was faster than the 105mm f/2.4 and at a better portrait length, which I consider to be about 180mm on a 6x7 negative or about 80-100mm on a full frame/35mm camera.

The solution I encountered was adapting old projector lenses. These lenses have several wonderful characteristics and some characteristics that are less desirable:

Pros: 

  • Very large apertures (f/1.7, 1.8, 1.9, 2 are normal)
  • Super shallow depth of field
  • Great for low-light
  • Typically very good optical quality glass
  • Have very interesting bokeh, especially if they are considered a "petzval" type lens which produces "swirling" bokeh

Cons:

  • Old and may therefore very commonly have fungus, balsam separation, etc. 
  • Often very heavy 
  • Usually, don't have a way to change the aperture
  • Some very nice ones are quite rare and hard to find/stumble upon
  • Since 1) they are older and 2) were intended for use in projectors usually used in dark areas, these lenses often do not have lens coatings like modern lenses to reduce flare
  • Images may often appear de-contrasted and will need post-processing to correct as desired 

How to Adapt Projector Lenses to Pentax 67

Since this can be so daunting, I'm going to make it as simple as possible. And, just as a note, I have linked to the specific sellers' items who have been tested and recommended by myself and others much more experienced than myself. I have heard that certain items from certain sellers are prone to breaking. Again, these items are ones that I have used and recommend. Buy from other sellers at your own risk  

Buy these things:

  • m65 to Pentax 67 adapter
  • m65 helicoid (17-31mm is best for most lenses)
    • The mm size will affect various lenses in different ways. The key is finding the mm size that allows you to achieve the focus distance you want which is typically a meter or so out to infinity.
  • m65 thread adapter lens mount
    • The mm size will depend on the rear of the lens you want to use. 
    • Be sure to first have your lens picked out
    • Measure the rear of the lens from the outer edge to outer edge
    • Convert to mm
  • A lens that will cover the full 6x7 negative size
    • It is best if it covers a little more than the 6x7 since barely covering will lead to optical issues at the corners, most notably, pronounced vignetting, poor sharpness, etc.
    • Lenses over 105mm might work. 120mm and over are good bets. And lenses over 140mm should be excellent bets, if designed for 35/70mm cinema film
    • Lenses that will cover are usually designed for 35/70mm cinema film and listings typically show this info
    • Certain lenses that do not fully "cover" may leave empty space on the negative and/or will cause vignetting to various degrees
    • I will suggest a few lenses below in another section 

The m65 to Pentax 67 adapter mounts to the Pentax 67 like a lens would. It then attaches to the m65 helicoid, which acts as the focusing apparatus. Then, the thread adapter attaches to the m65 helicoid. Finally, your projector lens goes into the thread adapter. 

The rear of the lens will need to fit the m65 thread adapter lens mount. For instance, if the diameter of the rear of the lens is 80mm, the thread adapter lens mount will need to be 80mm. 

Some Ideas for Lenses to Try

This is a short list of lenses that are likely to work for your Pentax 67. 

  • Kollmorgan Super Snaplite
  • B&L Super Cinephor
  • Schneider Cinelux (Rare to find the right size)
  • ISCO Cinelux Ultra
    • 110mm, 115mm, 125mm, 130mm, 135mm

Example Gallery

 Super Snaplite 7" f/1.9 

Super Snaplite 7" f/1.9 

 Isco Ultra MC 110mm f/2

Isco Ultra MC 110mm f/2

 ISCO Ultra MC 110mm f/2

ISCO Ultra MC 110mm f/2

 Kollmorgan Super Snaplite 178mm f/1.9 

Kollmorgan Super Snaplite 178mm f/1.9 

 Snaplite 7" f/1.9

Snaplite 7" f/1.9

 Bausch & Lomb Super Cinephor 178mm f/1.9

Bausch & Lomb Super Cinephor 178mm f/1.9

 Kollmorgan Super Snaplite 178mm f/1.9  (If my memory serves me right)

Kollmorgan Super Snaplite 178mm f/1.9  (If my memory serves me right)

 Bausch & Lomb Super Cinephor 178mm f/1.9

Bausch & Lomb Super Cinephor 178mm f/1.9

 Bausch & Lomb Super Cinephor 178mm f/1.9 or Kollmorgan Super Snaplite 178mm f/1.9 (Forgot)

Bausch & Lomb Super Cinephor 178mm f/1.9 or Kollmorgan Super Snaplite 178mm f/1.9 (Forgot)

 Bausch & Lomb Super Cinephor 178mm f/1.9

Bausch & Lomb Super Cinephor 178mm f/1.9

 Bausch & Lomb Super Cinephor 178mm f/1.9

Bausch & Lomb Super Cinephor 178mm f/1.9

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How to Tell the Difference Between the Multi-Coated vs Single-Coated Voigtlander 35mm f/1.4 Nokton Classic SC vs MC


Note: This post is part of our "Learn Blog" for photographers. For workshops, coaching, and other resources designed to help grow your skills as a photographer click here (after you read the article, of course)!  To be transparent, all links are paid advertising, as a portion of any purchase made while using these links is credited to us. Please, consider using our links to help support what we do! Thank you!


Voigtlander 35mm f/1.4 Nokton Classic SC vs MC Versions

I recently decided to purchase a Leica M2 and wanted to get a Voigtlander 35mm f/1.4 Nokton Classic to go with it. However, I quickly noticed that there are two different versions, the SC (single-coated) and the MC (multi-coated). So, I figured I should discover why that matters, and how to spot the difference when buying used. 

In this article, I've aimed not to give a full review of these lenses, as many other have done already. Rather, I'm merely discussing how to tell the difference between the single-coated and multi-coated versions. 

How to Tell the Difference Between the Voigtlander SC and MC

So let's jump right into it. The easiest way to tell the difference is to look at the front of the lens. You'll see that it says NOKTON CLASSIC. If the lens is single-coated, it will have blue "SC" after the word classic. If you look closely at the image, you'll notice a blue "SC". If it's multi-coated, it won't have anything directly after the word classic.  

Now, why does that matter? Well, supposedly the SC version is made for black-and-white photography, specifically. The MC version is made specifically for color photography, or high contrast black-and-white photography. In case you're wondering, I actually bought a version before knowing the difference, and received the MC, which is the one I wanted.   

If you're considering buying one these amazing lenses, please consider supporting us by clicking here and using our links! Both Amazon and Ebay will give us a portion of your purchase. Thank in advance!

For a great image quality/character comparison of the two versions, please visit this comparison of the Leica Summilux 35mm 1.4 vs the Voigtlander 35mm Nokton SC and MC versions, plus the Canon LTM 35mm 1.5, click here!

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The Best Price On Fuji 400H 120 Film


Note: This post is part of our "Learn Blog" for photographers. For workshops, coaching, and other resources designed to help grow your skills as a photographer click here (after you read the article, of course)! To be transparent, all links are paid advertising, as a portion of any purchase made while using these links is credited to us. Please, consider using our links to help support what we do! Thank you!


Buy Fuji 400H Cheap

When you're shooting a lot of (fairly costly) film, you try to save money without cutting corners. So, here's what I do to save hundreds of dollars when buying Fuji 400H 120 medium format film. 

Best Place to Buy Fuji 400H 120 Cheap

So, after tons of research, I discovered that Mel Pierce's listing on Amazon for 60 rolls is by far the cheapest way to buy Fuji 400H 120. It's even more cost effective than buying 100 rolls, for whatever reason. At $398.97 (as of 6/2/17 UPDATE: price as of 6/21/17 is 389.97, so it's even cheaper currently!), that's about $6.67 a roll, vs buying for about $7.50-$8.50 per roll (if you buy 5 rolls at a time on Amazon). *Update 1/29/18: Price is now $408.99 with free shipping. Just a tiny bit more expensive, but probably still the best deal out there. 

What I Do to Save EVEN MORE

Cheap gas using kroger fuel points

Now, you don't have to do what I do, but I end up saving about another $50 off the total. I use my Amex Blue Cash card that gives me 6% cash back at grocery stores. I take that and buy an Amazon gift card from Kroger, which not only gives me 6% back on $399.97 ($24 off=$375.97) which brings us to $6.27 per roll, but I also get 2x fuel points, which I use to get $1.00 of per gallon.

This is $2.24 cheaper per roll than buying 5 rolls at $8.51 on Amazon (or many other places for that matter). That means that every 10 rolls you go through is $22.40 saved, and every 100 rolls is $224 saved!!! That all adds up quick, my friends. 

If you don't have a Kroger, I believe the Amex card still works for 6% cash back at places like Publix. Or, you could also use something like your Amazon Store Card to get 5% cash back, which is still a pretty good deal. 

Get It Before It's Too Late!

But, whatever you do, who knows how much longer Mel Pierce will have this savings available, so go snag some Fuji 400H quick by using the link below!

 

If this helped you at all, please consider using our link to go to Amazon. They'll give us a portion of your purchase, which we use to help fund other posts like this!

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Post Wedding Hangover: Shooting Multiple Weddings In a Weekend and Tips for Recovery

Chad-Christine-Wedding-Rixie-Manor-Preview (14 of 34).jpg

Note: This post is part of our "Learn Blog" for photographers. For workshops, coaching, and other resources designed to help grow your skills as a photographer click here (after you read the article, of course)! 

Note: Since it's one way we help to provide for our family, please also take note that any links provided here are links to products that we use or have used and can recommend, unless otherwise noted. We did not receive any of the products in exchange to write this article. We do we receive a portion of sales from when you make a purchase using our links, so please do!


Once you finish reading this post, you'll gain:

  • More confidence to handle wedding day stress
  • A list of supplements for natural, clean energy, better stress management, and faster recovery
  • Quick and easy ways to prepare yourself for creating best wedding experience possible for your clients 

Medical disclaimer: We ARE NOT medical professionals. Any information provided in this article in not intended to treat any disorder, and should not be taken as medical advice. All side effects and dangers associated with taking supplements or performing activities should be considered beforehand before attempting. Please consult a professional before taking any supplements.


How to Minimize and Recover from Post-Wedding Burnout

You and I probably agree--client experience is HUGE.

And giving your all is ESSENTIAL to nailing it!

But, In all honesty, it's best that we acknowledge that our body and mind gets tired and NEEDS to relax. The key to growth is often to come to terms with our weaknesses. To break limits, we need to first acknowledge them. 

So when mental, physical, and all sorts of fitness are required to navigate the emotionally, physically, socially, and mentally demanding environment of a wedding, taking certain steps can be the difference between a sub-par or "ok" client experience and an amazing "wow" experience.

If you've tried to provide that "wow" experience you've felt it--that "I feel like I just got ran over by a bus" feeling.

It's comprised of lingering mental fatigue matched only by acute and intense muscle soreness. What makes it even more intense is if you have to photograph two weddings in one weekend!

Michele and I have found that there are several ways to help prepare for weddings, both before, during, and after weddings to help mitigate, treat, and rebound from what we'll call "bus syndrome".

 So, without further ado, here's our lists of top ways to prepare for and prevent post-wedding "bus syndrome"!

 

1. Have a plan to deal with aches and pains as they arise: GET THIS instead of Ibuprophen/Pain Killers!

One of the biggest issues that we encounter during weddings is aches and pains from carrying gear, bending, standing, etc. If they aren't dealt with they quickly lead to mental fatigue which prevents you from exercising your creativity, interacting socially, and directing people for things like family formals, which require a lot of mental focus. 

Ibuprophen can sometimes be helpful, but it takes awhile to kick in. Plus, it can be hard on your insides, and for some, can cause stomach irritation.

So instead, we HIGHLY recommend Arnicare. It's is one of those things that JUST WORKS and works FAST for soothing aches and pains. We prefer it to things like Tylenol, aspirin, or ibuprofen because it's homeopathic, natural,  and is applied directly to the area you feel pain for quick relief. It's seriously a HUGE life-saver when it comes to dealing with pain during and after the wedding day. 

We use the gel, but there's cream, tablets, and even little packets with yummy pellets.

 

2. Don't just exercise and eat right, DE-STRESS exercising and eating right

Look, I know this is going to sound so cliche, but stick with us for some unique perspective for wedding photographers.

Don't eat foods that make you crash! Michele and I both have reactive blood sugar levels, and we tend to get super tired if we eat something that doesn't sustain. So, we make sure to eat things we know that OUR bodies handle well and provide with long-lasting energy.

Eating right and exercising can take a lot of time, so we try to simplify everything. We pick simple, non-stressful workouts like running on our elliptical. 

As far as food, one thing that we've really found super quick and easy is steel-cut oats with Kerrygold grass-fed butter and xylitol for sweetener (to avoid sugar-crashes!). We love steel-cut oats because they're loaded with nutrients, have pleasant texture, and are very filling. 

Also, sweet potatoes are GREAT for quick, sustaining energy. We use an Instant Pot to cook both oatmeal and sweet potatoes because of how quick and easy it is to use! 

3. Start relaxing at least a day or two before

We've found that beginning to wind down a bit and trying to give our systems a bit more rest a few days before weddings is a big help to avoiding burning out.

4. SLEEP!

Getting a good night's sleep is so essential! However, sometimes that can be tough, especially with things like destination weddings. So, this is a "do your best but be prepared with other means" solution.

If you're anything like us and many other creatives, going to sleep early and then waking up early the next day can be sometimes impossible! On the nights where we're wired but need to sleep, we'll take a small amount of Magnesium Malate, Vitamin D, Lugol's Solution Iodine, Inositol (which comes in powder form and taste sweet like sugar!), and a small dose of Melatonin. Of course, it's probably better just to take one at a time, starting out. We've just found that to be a combination that works well for us. 

Melatonin should not be taken regularly since it will disrupt your bodies natural production, but taken with the other supplements on fairly irregularly can help give you an amazing deep sleep that leaves you feeling rested the next day.     

5. Stretch the day of!

Make sure to hit all your major muscle groups! We stretch our hamstrings, gluts, shoulders, chest and back mainly since we've found those to be the spots we get most sore and fatigued.  

6. Don't just take pain killers!!! Take specific supplements targeted at helping your body deal with mental and physical stress

We obviously don't recommend starting to take all these at once, but trying one at a time and figuring out what works best for you is a definite option for helping your body adapt to the stress of weddings.

We recommend supplements called adaptogens plus others such as ashwagandha and maca. Also one of our favorites, Reishi helps your body deal with stress while boosting immunity, reducing inflation, and helping with allergies (and even asthma!). 

If you have joint pain of any sort, taking something like Reishi and Tumeric to help deal with swelling is a great idea.  

For added endurance, we like Cordyceps. It helps to improve endurance by improving blood flow.

Taking Lugol's Iodine will also help with avoiding adrenal fatigue burnout and stress. If the liquid is off-putting like it is to Michele, we recommend using the Iodoral pills which eliminate the taste. 

For brain support take Lion's Mane! It's a great supplement that helps improve brain performance and supports your nerves--there's even been studies that show it can help alzeihmer's sufferers! It's definitely another favorite of ours. Also incredibly good for brain health and energy levels is Sunflower Lecithin. 

Another great supplement we keep on hand is Oscillococcinum . We swear by this stuff--it's made for flu symptoms, but we take it even if we're feeling run down, and it works wonders. If it's just placebo, it's a darn good one at that! These are also good to have on hand in case you start feeling like you're coming down with the flu.

7. Drink the right stuff!

On the day of, drink bulletproof coffee! We use virgin, cold-pressed organic coconut oil with Kerrygold grass fed butter. The flavor and consistency of these in coffee is just amazing. Because of it's robust, and full flavor, our coffee of choice is New England Coffee, although that's just us : ). Also worth noting, coconut oil helps give you energy and helps your brain deal with stress. It's great to take it by itself, too!

When we're in a rush, such as before, on the way to, and during the wedding, we drink Vita Coco Latte.  It's a great quick and easy solution for coffee with coconut water added for hydration and energy. If you don't like coffee, or you don't want to take a big scoop of coconut oil straight, try coconut water! It's full of electrolytes and will help your body deal with stress and help prevent dehydration. 

If you'd rather drink tea, our favorite, Yogi Teas Perfect Energy is FANTASTIC. It tastes great and gives a very noticeable and sustaining boost to our energy levels. They also have other energy teas such as Sweet Tangerine Positive Energy and Refreshing Mint Vital Energy, but we have yet to try them. I actually just found them while writing this, so I'm really pumped to try them all!

For wedding pros looking to avoid burnout, we DON'T recommend: 

  • Energy drinks or any quick energy boost with lots of sugars. 5 Hour Energy is a lot better, but we much prefer things like coconut with coffee over that. But hey! That's just us.
  • Coffee by itself. Plain coffee without something to help recharge your adrenals can contribute to adrenal fatique, which is a whole other problem. Sure, coffee tastes great (well, to a lot of us anyhow) and helps in the short term by providing a pick-me-up. But without supporting your adrenals, burnout will be right around the corner. 

8. The day after, treat yourself right!

The day relax, eat right, and stretch! It's not uncommon for us to feel worn down for a day or two after the wedding. But, getting plenty of rest and good food definitely helps. Planning for these things is definitely a must, as rest and relaxation doesn't happen without planning--although crashing does.  

If you're like us, you probably enjoy tea, not just for energy, but also for relaxation. We get Yogi Honey Lavender Stress Relief. It has a good taste, especially if you add just a little honey to it. 

    We'd love to hear from you! What are some other tips that you've used to prepare for and recover from weddings? Please like, share, and comment below so others can benefit from this info!

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    How To Speed Up My Lightroom Workflow, "Like Wow!" Review of the Behringer X Touch Mini for Lightroom

    Using the Behringer X Touch Mini to Enhance Lightroom Workflow



    This thing is amazing at fine-tuning your adjustments in Lightroom and speeding up your workflow, and at $60, I say it is more than sufficient when compared to the other Lightroom dial and slider tools. 

    If you're interested and you found this video helpful, please use our links below as Ebay and Amazon will give us a portion of the proceeds! Thanks in advance!

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    How Do I Change the Thumbnail Photo When Sharing My Website On Facebook?


    Note: This post is part of our "Learn Blog" for small business SEO and photographers. For workshops, coaching, and other resources designed to help grow your skills as a photographer click here (after you watch the video, of course)!


    Video: How to Change Social Sharing Picture


    Directions


    So, Facebook is showing a picture that you don't want! If you're using Squarespace, here's how to change it.

    Here's the order of links you'll need to click:

    1. Once you're logged into Squarespace, click "Design"
    2. Next, click "Logo & Title". At the very bottom, you'll see your social sharing photo. If you haven't chosen one yet, upload a photo. If you want to change the photo from one that's already chosen, select the trash can icon when you hover over your current photo.
    3. Go to https://developers.facebook.com/tools/debug/og/object/ and enter in your URL.
    4. Click "Fetch New Scrape Information"

    Now your website URL photo should be updated!

    Click here to return back the "Learn" Blog Feed

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    How Can I Tell the Differences Between the Pentax 105mm f/2.4 Lens Versions?

    A Buying Guide: How to Tell the Different Pentax 105mm 6x7 Lens Versions Apart 


    Note: This post is part of our "Learn Blog" for photographers. For workshops, coaching, and other resources designed to help grow your skills as a photographer click here (after you read the article, of course)!


     Pentax 67 Medium Format Film Camera with the Pentax 67 SMC 105mm f/2.4 Lens 

    Pentax 67 Medium Format Film Camera with the Pentax 67 SMC 105mm f/2.4 Lens 

     

    So, you've been searching Ebay and you've seen that there's obviously more than one version of the legendary Pentax 67 105mm f/2.4 for your Pentax 645 or Pentax 6x7 system. There's obviously a large difference in price, but does it really matter?

    Well, in short... 

    Yes, it does matter.

    What's in this article:

    • What's the same between the different Pentax 105mm versions? 
    • What's the difference and why does it matter?
    • Are the differences between the different Pentax 105mm lenses worth the cost?

    Pentax 105mm f/2.4 Super Takumar vs Super Multi Coated vs SMC Pentax

    What's the same?

    All three versions of the Pentax 105mm f/2.4 are exactly the same as far as internal design. That is, the design, not necessarily the glass, is the same. 

    What's the difference?

    Let's start with a what's what:

    In order from earliest (and least expensive usually) to newest (and usually most expensive):

    • Super Takumar (Introduced in 1969)
    • Super Multi Coated Takumar (introduced in 1971)
    • SMC Pentax (Introduced in 1989)
     Super Multi Coated Takumar Pentax 6x7 105mm f/2.4 Lens

    Super Multi Coated Takumar Pentax 6x7 105mm f/2.4 Lens

    The original Super Takumar is easily recognized by the words "Super Takumar" on the front, while the words "Super-Multi-Coated Takumar" indicate the next version introduced in 1971. Both of these versions have a metal focus ring.

    Each version featured an updated coating that provided better micro-contrast and sun-flare control. This means that each successive version will have a more "3d" effect than the one prior, as well as better overall contrast and light control. This is due to the improved coating on the lenses.

     SMC Pentax 67 105mm f/2.4 Lens

    SMC Pentax 67 105mm f/2.4 Lens

    The newest version is typically quite a bit more expensive and can easily be recognized by "SMC Pentax" on the front and by the rubberization on the focus ring, vs the metal of the older versions. This latest version is also slightly lighter than the older versions.

    Issues with Older Versions and Radioactivity

    The older lenses are more prone to balsam separation, fungus, and yellowing. Yellowing, in particular, is an issue that the two older versions encounter due to the radioactive material (sounds scary, but it's not that unhealthy) due to the use of thorium glass elements. Some argue that the 2nd version does not yellow. Please see the below section for more info on that.

    Thorium glass was cheaper and was thus a popular choice. If and when it yellows due to the radioactivity, it can cause the color transmission to be less neutral and, well...yellow.  The SMC Pentax version did not use thorium glass, but instead a high-index non-radioactive glass, which, again, in theory, should mean an improved image and no yellowing. 

    Another point to the SMC Pentax.

    With that said, yellowing can be cured by placing the lens in direct sunlight with tinfoil under the rear element. Also, UV lights have been reported to also clear yellowing. 

    Does the 2nd Version Super Multi Coated Takumar Yellow?

    I've heard many intelligent photographers assert that the 2nd version, the Super Multi Coated Takumar, does not yellow. However, I heartily disagree with this. I have seen multiple examples of yellowed 2nd versions. However, they are not always yellowed. 

    Here's a video showing that the 2nd version can indeed be radioactive. 

     

    Is It Possible for the SMC Pentax 105mm to Yellow?

    Some people report seeing yellowing on the SMC version, but this is only a property of the lens coating reflecting certain light. A true "yellowed" lens will show a yellow color, no matter which light is reflecting off of it. The SMC, if yellow in certain light, will reflect various colors when the elements are pointed at different angles/directions. But will appear clear and neutral when placed against a neutral background without light reflecting the coating.

    Is the SMC Pentax worth the extra cost?

    So, is the SMC Pentax worth it? If you shoot backlit quite a bit, having the extra contrast and flare control is highly desirable. That, coupled with non-radioactive non-yellowing glass, and a higher chance of avoiding the degradation (balsam separation, fungus) of older lenses may just be enough to warrant the upcharge. 

    Keep in mind though, a well cared for, yet older version lens that's been stored and used properly may be in much better shape than a newer lens that has been abused. Always check the description of the lens you're buying thoroughly to ensure spending more than you should or getting a lemon. 

    Now, head over to Ebay and start trying to identify them! And if you would...

    Click here to use our affiliate link, since Ebay will give us a portion of profit when you make a purchase!

    Thanks in advance!

    If this article has been helpful, please be sure to like below and share! Thank you!

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    A Buying Guide: What are the Differences Between Pentax 6x7 and Pentax 67 Versions?

    Differences Between the p67 Versions: Asahi Pentax 6x7  vs. Honeywell 6x7 vs. 6x7 MLU (Mirror Lock-Up) vs. Pentax 67 vs. Pentax 67ii


    Note: This post is part of our "Learn Blog" for photographers. For workshops, coaching, and other resources designed to help grow your skills as a photographer click here (after you read the article, of course)!


     Picture of a Pentax 67 Film Camera with Prism and Pentax 105mm f/2.4 lens sitting on table

    Picture of a Pentax 67 Film Camera with Prism and Pentax 105mm f/2.4 lens sitting on table


    So, you've discovered that the Pentax 6x7 system is an amazing camera. But, now you're realizing there are multiple ones and that they all cost a different amount of your valuable cash. Believe it or not, there are cheaper versions that are passed off as more expensive, and vice-versa, more expensive ones that get listed for less. So, how can you know what to look for and buy so you get the most bang for your buck?

    In this post we'll cover some very basic info that will help you:

    • Visually identify which version is which
    • What some of the upgrades of each P67 version are
    • Which one may be the best fit for you

    At this point, I'll add that this is in no way meant to be comprehensive. There are plenty of other forums and articles that delve way more in depth to the technical details of each system, as a simple Google search will show. This post was written because, after trying to understand the differences myself, I found that many of the articles that showed up in searches had tons of great technical info, but didn't easily lay out how to easily tell the difference between the various Pentax 67 versions from a buyer's perspective.

    So, if that's you, read on to find out how to indentify some basic Pentax 67 versions differences!


    What are the different Pentax 67 Versions?

    First, let's list the 5 versions of the Pentax 6x7 camera:

    • Asahi Pentax 6x7
    • Honeywell 6x7
    • Asahi Pentax 6x7 with MLU (Mirror Lock-Up)
    • Pentax 67
    • Pentax 67ii

    Asahi Pentax 6x7 and Honeywell Pentax 6x7

    The original Pentax 6x7 was released in 1969, and did not have a mirror lock-up function. These models are the oldest of Pentax's 6x7 models. If for no other reason, these are the least desirable in terms of reliability of the 6x7 models, merely because they are the oldest. So, what is the Honeywell Pentax? Well,  included with the earliest version 6x7 is the Honeywell Pentax. It is essentially the same as the Pentax 6x7, only marketed specifically to the USA.

    Asahi Pentax 6x7 vs Pentax 6x7 MLU Differences

     Pentax 6x7 MLU Mirror Lock Up Medium Format Film Camera with 105mm f/2.4 

    Pentax 6x7 MLU Mirror Lock Up Medium Format Film Camera with 105mm f/2.4 

    So, how do you tell if a  Pentax 6x7 is MLU (Mirror Lock Up), and why does it matter? The MLU version was released as an update to the original 6x7. It has a small switch on the right side near the opening for the lens. These are generally considered more reliable than the non-MLU versions if not for age alone, and typically carry a little bit higher price tag, if the owner is aware. 

    To see whether or not a 6x7 you're checking out has mirror lock-up, check the left side of the front of the camera, near where the lens attaches to the body and you'll find either a button that slides up (indicating MLU) or nothing. That's how to tell if a Pentax 6x7 has mirror lock up. Not too tough to figure out, right?

    What's the same about the Pentax 6x7 and the Pentax 6x7 MLU?

    Both of the Pentax 6x7 and the 6x7 MLU featured either a TTL metered or non-TTL prism. These always had the words, "Asahi Pentax" on the front of the prism. The only exception to this rule, or course, is the Honeywell Pentax, which was the earliest version that was marketed to the USA.

    It is worth noting that various Pentax 6x7s and 6x7 MLUs that you find on Ebay will often have a later version prism on them. So, going by prism markings alone will not tell you whether or not it is a 6x7, 67, or 67ii.

    Telling the Pentax 6x7s and the 67s Apart

     Pentax 6x7 MLU

    Pentax 6x7 MLU

     Pentax 67

    Pentax 67

    The later Pentax 67 and 67ii sported only "Pentax" on their original prisms, unlike the "Asahi Pentax" on the earlier versions. However, since the prisms are interchangeable between every version and are often swapped out, the best and easiest way to recognize a Pentax 6x7 from the later 67 and 67ii models is to look at the model plate at the top left (when the camera's front is facing towards you). There you will see either 6x7 or 67. The Pentax 67ii will have a "67ii" inscription on the right front, as opposed to the left. 

    Difference Between Pentax 6x7 and Pentax 67 versions (8 of 2).jpg
    Difference Between Pentax 6x7 and Pentax 67 versions (7 of 2).jpg

    Reasons you may want to buy either the 67 or 67ii vs the 6x7

    Reliability

    Since they are newer, the 67 and 67ii may be more reliable than an older version. Likewise, the Pentax 6x7 MLU is generally considered a more safe bet than the non-MLU version, if not for any other reason because it is newer. 

    Fixes

    With the 67 came a shutter timing improvement that allowed the exposure value to be more consistent than the 6x7 when using a TTL-Metered Prism.

    Ergonomics

    The 67ii featured an updated design which included a better grip on the right side. The 67ii is slightly lighter than the previous versions. 

    Viewing/Focusing Screen on the Pentax 67 Versions

    The focusing screen of the Pentax 67 versions is not the brightest or best in terms of contrast. However, certain p67 screens are better for specific applications. If you mainly center compose, getting a split prism or microprism screen might be best. If you compose off center, getting a matte screen is your best bet.

    The microprism screens I've owned on the 6x7's and 67 do not have very good contrast or brightness in comparison to the matte. You can see examples of this in my article comparing the Pentax 67 focusing screens.

    I have owned a 67ii with a microprism screen that was probably about as bright/contrasty as my 6x7/67 matte screens.

    I have not tried ALL the screens, but I will say that the brightest and most contrasty screen I have used was the Maxwell Precision Optics Hi-Lux Matte Screen, followed closely by the 67ii screen. The Maxwell screen is very clear, sharp, and bright compared to any screen in any Pentax 67 version I've tried.

     

    Features

    Are multiple exposures a big deal to you? You'll have to go 67ii unless you want to use a leaf shutter lens and use the multiple exposure function on the lens itself. It's worth noting, if you use a 67 with a leaf shutter lens, you cannot focus/see your recomposed frame. So, the 67ii really shines here with is double exposure ability. 

    Possible Issues with the 67ii

    I have spoken with two very popular and reputable repairmen, both of which affirmed that the 67ii is a bit more of a risk than the older versions. It isn't built quite as tank-ly as it's previous versions. The 67ii has electronics that, if they go out, pretty much mean the end of the camera for anything besides parts.

    There are also several other internal differences cause even the mechanics of the 67ii to be a bit more of a monster to deal with, repair-wise. Certain parts used in the 67ii are very hard to come by, which means a possible repair is actually impossible until the parts show up. 

    These are factors that prevent me from putting much stock into using a 67ii as my main 67 bodies. 

     

    Budget/Prices

    So, how much does each Pentax 6x7 version cost? Here we will consider bodies with prism only. Although prices can vary greatly depending on where it is sold, the seller, and various other variables, as of the current 2017 market for excellent condition bodies, you can expect to pay the following:

    • Pentax 6x7 (and Honeywell Pentax): $300-$400
    • Pentax 6x7 MLU:  $300-$500
    • Pentax 67: $350-$700
    • Pentax 67ii: $1200-$1800

    We haven't spoken about the additional wood grip (that can be added to the versions besides the 67ii). However, it can add around $100 to the value of any version. So, if you're looking at 67 version which includes this grip, then you may want to consider that as part of the price. Other items which may affect value include viewfinder type (chimney hood, waist level finder), although none of these greatly affect the price. Very similar 67s with the exact same viewfinders may both go for the same price. Likewise, a 6x7MLU with a wood grip may go for about the same price as one without a wood grip. 

     Pentax 67 with Waist Level Viewfinder

    Pentax 67 with Waist Level Viewfinder


     

    And the Winner is...

    Obviously, the Pentax 67ii has advantages over the earlier versions, but not without a price tag. You can expect to pay possibly $1300 more than what you'd pay for a 6x7 MLU, when you can get the base model in all it's 6x7 glory for probably less than a fifth of the price. The 67 is a good go-between and can typically cost less than double the cost of the original 6x7. However, the Pentax 67ii is definitely "the cream" of this crop.

    But is it worth all the extra cost and possible hang-ups?

    That's up to you. 

    For me, I've found that the 6x7 MLU and 67 are great, though I do wish they had a double exposure ability.

    It's Hard to Go Wrong With a Pentax 6x7 System

    Unless you just happen to get a dud, whether you get a 6x7 or a later version, you're getting one killer camera. All improvements aside, they're all built tough, so as long as you're getting it from a reliable seller you're making a great choice of camera.

    If you're considering buying any of the Pentax 6x7 systems off Ebay, please use our links! We get a portion from Ebay when a sale is made using these.

    Thanks in advance!



    Articles Related to Pentax 67 Version Differences

     
     

    Now that you know the differences between the Pentax 67 bodies, why not check out how to tell the difference between the Pentax 67 105mm f/2.4 lens versions, too


    Pentax 67 For Sale


    If you're interested in finding a good Pentax 6x7 for sale, or a Pentax 67 for sale, we do sell bodies occasionally. We also offer a purchasing/inspection/and tune-up/delivery service, if you'd like us to find one for you and have it delivered.

    Please feel free to inquire about availability here.

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    SEO: What To Do If The Wrong Webpage Is Ranking

    What to Do if the Wrong Website Page is Ranking


    So, you're having an issue with the wrong page ranking on Google?

    We've been there, done that.

    Not only have we had other pages competing with our homepage, but we've had them show up right next to our homepage. Take a look!

    Now, having both very close together isn't so bad, but when a different page than you'd like it ranking for your target keyword(s) that you want your homepage ranking for, that can be a BIG issue. 

    I'll make this short and sweet so you can get to fixing it.

    Our problem was that a particular blog we posted was better optimized than our homepage.

    A couple issues were at play and we believe these were the cause:

    1. Photos on our home page were too large.

    -If Google thinks your home page loads too slow, they might not think it's as good of a fit as another page on your domain.

    Solution: Optimize your photos! Make sure they're no more than 2048px on the long side with 72 resolution. We typically export our wedding photos at 80% at those settings, plus we use JpegMini Pro to further reduce their size, without limiting quality.

    2. We weren't using our H1 headers properly.

    Solution: Make sure your keywords are in your H1 title text!

    *If you or the CMS (content management system such as Squarespace, Wix, or Wordpress) you're using doesn't implement HTML, make sure you've only got one H1 heading, and that it contains your keywords. I know for sure Squarespace does currently use HTML5, so there no issues with multiple headings on one page.

    Other Solutions For Making Sure the Correct Webpage Ranks in Search Engines

    • Put some anchor text on your blog posts containing your keywords and hyperlink to your homepage.
    • Make sure your dofollow backlinks, especially your are best ones are pointing to the page you want to rank for that particular keyword.
    • De-optimize your blog post. This is a last ditch effort and you should try everything else first and wait a couple of weeks (unless you're willing to just go for it). Take out the H1 keywords that are competing with your homepage.
    • Blogs are especially great for ranking in keywords that may not be directly related to your main keyword, without risking your rankability for your main keywords for your homepage. For example, "Tulsa wedding planner" might not be your main keyword, but you could post a blog post with that title without it competing with your homepage. This also allows you to not overstretch your main homepage keywords, thus allowing your competition to have an edge

    If this info was helpful, please be sure to like and share! 

    If you've had this issue, what are some other measures that we didn't mention that you took to ensure the right page was ranking?


    If you're interested in more SEO for wedding photographers and other resources for professional wedding photographers, check out our other blog posts here

    Until next time,

    Jeff

     

     

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