Oxford School of Photography

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Tag Archives: Single-lens reflex camera

Buying a digital SLR

This excellent article on DP Review explains why a dslr, and what to consider, essential for anyone about to buy a dslr

So you’ve decided to invest in a new digital camera and have made your mind up that you want to step up to a digital SLR, but the huge range of models on offer and endless flow of technical jargon have left you more confused than when you started? Fear not, this page will take the pain out of choosing the perfect digital SLR for you, whether you’re a seasoned shooter or a total novice.

Before we get down to business it’s worth stopping for a moment to ask the question: why would anyone want a digital SLR when compact digital cameras are so much smaller, lighter and more affordable? The answer can be summed up in two words: versatility and image-quality.

The versatility isn’t just the fact you can change lenses and add a wide range of accessories – from basics such as flashguns and remote controls to the more specialized equipment that allow SLRs to capture anything from the tiniest bug to the most distant stars. It’s also about the creative versatility offered by the more advanced controls and higher quality components.

And this leads on to the second factor; image quality. In broad daylight the quality difference between a good compact and a digital SLR is minimal; both will produce sharp, colorful results with little effort. But when you start to push the boundaries a bit more; shooting in low light, attempting to capture fast moving sports action or wildlife, or when you want to experiment with shallow depth of field (to add a soft background to a portrait for example), the advantage of a digital SLR’s larger sensor and higher sensitivity start to make a big difference. A digital SLR can’t beat a compact camera for ‘pop it in the purse or pocket’ convenience but for serious photography the SLR wins hands down. With prices lower than ever it’s not that surprising to discover that many people own one of each.


What is an SLR?

The basic physical design of the SLR has remained essentially unchanged for over half a century. The name itself, ‘Single Lens Reflex’, refers to the hinged mirror that bounces the light passing through the lens up to the viewfinder for framing then flips out of the way when you press the shutter to allow the light to hit the sensor (or film).


As the (simplified) diagram above shows, the mirror inside an SLR reflects the image formed by the lens up to the optical viewfinder (via a focusing screen and prism). When the picture is taken the mirror flips out of the way to allow the light to fall directly onto the sensor (or film), which sits behind a mechanical shutter. The mirror is also flipped up for live view operation (where the sensor is used to provide a live video feed directly to the screen on the back). 

 Read the full article here

Canon EOS 700D/Rebel T5i In-Depth Review

Canon have just released the ‘new’ 700D  The quotation marks are because it seems it is almost identical to the 650D, here is what DP Review has to say

June 2013: The Canon EOS 700D / Rebel T5i replaces the very short-lived Canon EOS 650D / T4i but is almost indistinguishable from it in terms of design, operation and specification. Our tests have found the image quality and performance of both cameras to be identical and they use the same batteries and accessories as well. Accordingly, this review is a very slightly modified version of the EOS 650 review we posted in the summer of 2012. We’ve retained product images of the EOS 650D where there’s no meaningful change in design, and except where indicated, any comments in the body of this review which reference the Canon EOS 650D / T4i are equally relevant to the Canon EOS 700D / T5i and vis-versa.

The Canon EOS 700D / Rebel T5i is the company’s latest addition to its novice-oriented ‘Rebel’ series. With more than two decades of continuous success in its film and digital incarnations, these little SLRs have been improved and refined to the point that Canon’s biggest challenge seems to be finding new ways to distinguish its updated models. Place the new EOS 700D / Rebel T5i alongside its predecessor the EOS 650Dand the differences are so minimal to be of little real importance. Read more here


Differences compared to EOS 650D

  • Real-time preview of Creative Filters in Live View mode
  • Redesigned new mode dial that turns 360 degrees
  • New ‘upmarket’ textured body finish.
  • Canon EOS 700D / Rebel T5i key features

    • 18MP APS-C ‘Hybrid CMOS’ sensor
    • Phase detection AF from imaging sensor for Live View and Video
    • Continuous autofocus in movie mode with subject tracking
    • 14-bit DIGIC 5 processor
    • ISO 100-12800 standard, 25600 expanded
    • 5 fps continuous shooting
    • 9 point AF system, all sensors cross type, central sensor F2.8 (from 60D)
    • 63 zone iFCL metering
    • 1080p30 video recording with built-in stereo mics
    • 1.04m dot 3:2 touch-sensitive vari-angle ClearView II LCD (capacitive type, multi-touch support)

So if you are looking to buy an entry level Canon, and I would, then the 700D it is and it costs £550 and £500 depending on where you buy including the current £50 cash back deal. If you shop around you can still buy the 650D for about £400 although stocks won’t last long.

Read the full review here

History of Canon Cameras

Canon have a virtual Camera Museum that has all the cameras and technology that Canon have brought to our loving hands over the years, there are a number of sections and one is called the Canon Camera Story, here is a brief synopsis

In the early thirties, the two most popular brands of miniature cameras were Leica and Contax, both made in Germany, the camera kingdom of the world. These two brands attracted the camera fans, receiving enthusiastic support throughout the world as super grade cameras…. in February 1936, the Precision Optical Instruments Laboratory released the “Hansa Canon (Standard Model with the Nikkor 50mm f/3.5 lens),” which was the first commercial camera made by Canon…..”Canon” became the new trademark of Precision Optical Instruments Laboratory. “Canon” has such meanings as “standard for judgement or biblical scriptures,” which was most appropriate for the company striving for precision as its motto. 

Hansa Canon (Standard Model) J 35mm Focal-Plane Shutter Rangefinder Camera.    In the middle of 1937, strong voices were raised calling for production of the company’s own lenses. Yoshizo Furukawa, the company’s first optical engineer, developed some lenses on a trial basis such as the 50mm f/4.5 lens,


The Precision Optical Industry Co., Ltd., changed its name to Canon Camera Co., Ltd., on September 15, 1947. In 1951, the company introduced the “Serenar 50mm f/1.8” lens, which was accepted as a masterpiece lens. The first half of the 1950s was the years in which many new cameras were released one after another. These include the “III” camera equipped with a fast shutter speed of 1/1000 second, the first in Japan, and the “IV” camera that had a flash rail that enabled using a flash unit directly connected to the camera without a cable.

“IV Sb2”1954_4sb_kThe first half of the 1950s was the years in which many new cameras were released one after another. These include the “III” camera equipped with a fast shutter speed of 1/1000 second, the first in Japan, and the “IV” camera that had a flash rail that enabled using a flash unit directly connected to the camera without a cable.

The first Canon SLR camera was the “Canonflex,” introduced in May 1959. With subsequent advances in SLR camera technology, SLR lenses also evolved, from R-series lenses to FL-series lenses, which incorporated a fully automatic aperture control mechanism. And with this progress, debuting along with FL-lens technology, was the “FX” camera, introduced in April 1964, which featured a built-in CdS exposure meter, ushering in the era of TTL (Through the Lens) metering with the launch of such successive cameras as the PELLIX and FTQL.


Since the fall of 1964, there had been growing calls from both inside and outside of the company that Canon should embark on production of a most advanced SLR camera to meet the requirements of professional photographers. After five years of development efforts, the “F-1” camera was unveiled in March, 1971. The “F-1” has left the most glorious footprints in the history of cameras.1971_f1

Developed exclusively for professional photographers, the “F-1” satisfied them with multiple functions and the systematic configuration. More than 180 accessories including lenses and filters were made available for this camera. It proved to be durable, highly reliable and performed well even under the harsh conditions professional photographers are often forced to confront. Thus, the camera gained wide popularity among professional photographers. The “F-1” wasthe official 35mm camera for the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, Canada, and the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, U.S.A.

Based on technology developed for the “F-1” camera, in 1972 the company succeeded in producing the “High Speed Motor Drive Camera” having the shooting speed of 9 frames per second.

Sixteen new FD-series lens were introduced together with the “F-1.” To compliment the professional “F-1” camera, its lens had been improved to ensure central resolution exceeding 100 lines per millimeter and to achieve high contrast. Good color balance throughout the series was achieved by careful selection of optimal glass materials and improved lens surface coating methods.

Unveiled in April 1976, the “AE-1” camera was the world’s first 35 mm Auto-Exposure (AE) SLR camera equipped with a Central Processing Unit (CPU). The camera integrated the latest electronics and optics technologies. Together with the “A-1” camera having five AE modes, which was introduced in April 1978


When the AE-1 came out, TTL manual-metering models (including the Canon FTb and FTb-N) were still the mainstream in the 35mm SLR market. Autoexposure models were still at the very top end of the SLR market. They were expensive and produced in small numbers.

The AE-1, however, was designed from the ground up with five major units and twenty-five minor units. They were centrally controlled by a microcomputer. By incorporating electronics, the parts count could be reduced by 300. The manufacturing of the camera was also highly automated. This made it possible to produce a low-cost camera having high-end features.

In March 1983, the company released the T-Series cameras, which realized high-cost-performance through employing various automated functions and competitive pricing. The T-Series cameras include “T50,” “T70” and “T80,” culminating into the “T90,” which was marketed in February 1986 as a professional model.


The T90 is a multi-mode SLR with built-in motor drive. The form of the pentaprism hump is a distinct characteristic. Instead of being sharp-edged like on previous cameras, it is rounded with smooth curves. The camera was designed to lessen the picture-taking burden on the user via automation. It aimed for seamless operation to respond to the user’s will. A lot of top-notch technology and thought went into the camera.

The camera has three metering systems to suit diverse shooting conditions. Eight autoexposure modes and two manual exposure modes also make the camera highly versatile.

Under the development project called “EOS (Electro Optical System), ” Canon confirmed that “a highly-refined AF SLR model deserving Canon’s name should be developed with the target market release date of March 1, 1987, the year of Canon’s 50th anniversary. ” The EOS development efforts bore fruit with the introduction of the “EOS 650” on March 1987 as scheduled


The EOS 650 boasted incomparable autofocusing. Each EF lens has its own optimum built-in motor for autofocusing

With the advent of the new millennium came groundbreaking new EOS-series digital camera products. Launched in 2000 was the EOS D30, a full-fledged AF digital SLR featuring a high-resolution CMOS sensor. In 2001, EOS-1D hit the market as a professional digital SLR targeted at sports and news photographers, while the EOS-1Ds featured an 11.1 megapixel sensor and was designed to be the perfect high-end photographic tool. Canon’s efforts to enhance functionality without compromising on cost performance were crystallized in the EOS D60 in 2002 and EOS 10D in 2003.


Premier AF Performance: The 45-point area AF gives predictive AI servo AF at about 9 fps (with the PB-E2 attached) for outstanding subject tracking and blazingly fast focusing, all automatically.

In 2005, Canon introduced the EOS 5D, a full-size 35mm digital SLR camera with a remarkably low price within reach of many consumers.

So the history of Canon from 1936 to today has been a road of innovation. Here we have only looked at the pivotal moments in that history and only at the more serious cameras so there are a wealth of compact cameras and video cameras as well in the Canon archive. If you want a more detailed history go here

Understanding Your Digital SLR Camera Course – Oxford

Each term we arrange a number of starts for this popular course, it is the spring board from which students launch themselves into photography and being a photographer. That is someone who uses a camera to express their creative view.

“a couple of my friends have raved about this course and I’m determined to learn to use my camera properly!”

“I would like to say many thanks for a fantastic, informative & interesting course! I found all the information you gave us totally compelling and inspiring which was enhanced by a charismatic & passionate teacher! I would recommend this course to anyone who has bought a DSLR for the first time and wants to understand what all the confusing buttons on their new toy do and how to take proper photos without relying on the Auto function.”

“I would like to say that I was extremely impressed with the DSLR course. I didn’t really know what to expect, but found every session very helpful. I now feel much more comfortable with the basic functions of my camera, as well as being able to photograph more creatively using the techniques that you taught. I definitely learnt more than I would have been able to from my handbook. I found the course and techniques that I learnt extremely inspirational, and am now more open minded with my approach to photography.”

Full details and specifications for this course can be found here  There are a number of start dates for this course beginning this term, some in the evenings, Saturdays and 1 Day versions of the course on Sundays. The course is generally 4 sessions spread over 4 weeks and costs £80

Digital photography – what happens next? The future is here

The digital camera continues to revolutionise our photographic lives. The complicated and expensive days of film are now long gone. But recent years have seen camera technology begin to stagnate. Have we hit a megapixel plateau? Is facial recognition as far as the point and shoot can go? Or is there an exciting future in store for the camera?...more

Everything in focus

Meet the Lytro light-field camera. While still in the early stages of development, hence the lack of images of the camera hardware itself, it is shaping up to change photography in a big way. The new technology allows you to create a one-stop shop photograph that can be selectively focused after the picture has been taken....more on Geeko blog

Auto airbrush

One thing the Lytro can’t fix though is an unforgiving portrait or awkward family photo. There are however some compact cameras currently on the market that say otherwise. Enter the make-up applying point and shoot, which intelligently airbrushes shots to make the subject look better....more

360 degree shooting

Digital cameras are also set to change the way we approach and view photos altogether. Traditionally in order to take a snap you need to have the lens pointed at the subject. Only the widest of wide-angles can pack in about 180 degrees of what you see in front of you. Imagine a camera that can snap absolutely everything around, creating a single snapshot of a scene in its entirety...more

All-purpose bridge

So what direction should camera design be taking? The traditional viewfinder approach to things still seems to be the best way to take photographs. Ergonomics have barely changed since the advent of the SLR and rangefinder years ago. There is, however, one concept from Canon which could drastically change the way we approach a camera. The idea is the ultimate bridge camera with all encompassing wide angle to 500mm zoom. This means the end of heavy camera bags, switching lenses and expensive camera kits.…more


How many of these ideas will get beyond concept is something only time will reveal

Video DSLR Basics: Shutter Speed

This short but very useful post is a must for anyone thinking of shooting video on their DSLR

Here is an excerpt:

“To understand shutter speed for SLR video, it helps to understand how the shutter works on a traditional motion-picture film camera. In a film camera, the shutter spins at a constant rate. Half the time, it is open, exposing the film, and half the time it is closed, pulling the film into place. The long-standing industry standard is for this to happen 24 times per second…….So, if you want to set your SLR to correspond to cinematic standards, set it to shoot at 24 fps (“24p”), and set your shutter speed as close to 1/48 second as you can. Usually, that means 1/50.” Thanks to Alex Fox for this insight

Canon EOS 5D Mk2

Photography Competition – “Winter”

This is your chance to win a fantastic Canon 550D SLR camera & other prizes with a total value exceeding £1000, showcase your best images and enter now !

* 1st Prize: Canon 550D SLR (inc 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens Kit), Hama Rexton 150 Camera Bag & x2 8GB Hama High Speed Gold SDHC Cards
* 2nd Prize: Hama Rexton 140 Camera Bag & Hama Traveller Compact Pro Tripod – 163cm
* 3rd Prize: Hama Profil Duo III Tripod – 150cm

The theme for our first photography competition this year is: “Winter”
Closing date for entries is 30th March 2011, the winner will be announced shortly afterwards.

Why you should own an external flash

If you have ever used a camera before then you have probably also used a flash as well. Almost every camera these days (compact, DSLR, etc) comes with a flash built into it. Most people who own a camera also leave there cameras on full auto and let the camera decide when to use it as well. This results in many shots in low light where a flash is needlessly being fired and also leaves less than desirable results.

Then you see people with these big bulky flashes that they attach to the top of there camera. Are these really that much better than the flash you already have? Well the answer here should come as no surprise when I say yes…. yes it most certainly is better…. night and day better in-fact. But why? read more here

Pentax 645 Digital

After a very long time in bringing to market Pentax have finally produced a digital version of their popular 645 film camera. It uses 40megapixels so producing something like 115mb file. Here is a first review of the camera. http://www.bjp-online.com/british-journal-of-photography/test/1898766/pentax-645d-tested-contender