Zhiyun Smooth 4 Review: An awesome smartphone gimbal

When it comes to smartphone gimbals, there are plenty of cheap options out there. But two companies really stand out: Zhiyun and DJI. In this post, we’ll talk about and review the Zhiyun Smooth 4 gimbal. Is it a viable competitor to the DJI Osmo? Let’s dive in and have a look in this review.

Zhiyun Smooth 4 Professional Gimbal Stabilizer for iPhone Smartphone Android Cell Phone 3-Axis Handheld Gimble Stick w/ Grip Tripod Ideal for Vlogging YouTube Vlog TikTok Instagram Live Video Kit

Why do you need a smartphone gimbal?

Gimbals are essentially mechanical stabilizers for cameras. With a gimbal, you can take silky smooth video in which your hand movements and vibrations are completely invisible. The gimbal works with 2 (or sometimes 3) motors than compensate for any sudden movements.

Gimbals have long been used in filming and cinematography, and since smartphone cameras are getting better and better and more capable of taking stunning photographs and recording 4k video, in many cases, you no longer need bigger cameras to take great photos, especially on the go.

Once you start taking videos with a gimbal, you’ll never want to take videos by hand again. The Zhiyun Smooth 4 has three axes: pan, tilt, and roll. These are the three directions your camera can move in: tilting up and down, tilting side to side, and tilting back and forth.

The motors will spin just enough to negate any movements you make, resulting in smooth video free of any shakes and vibrations.

Stabilization is especially useful when you’re walking and filming at the same time. Holding the camera in your hand will show all the movements from your walking, but if you use a gimbal, it will look really fluid and smooth.

Overview

When you receive the Zhiyun Smooth 4, you’ll get two accessories with it: a USB-C charging cable and a small, folding tripod. If most of your stuff is USB-C, you’ll be a happy camper. However, if you still have stuff that uses micro USB, then you’ll need to carry an extra cable.

However, it’s not that big of a deal 🙂

Upon first glance, the handle of the Zhiyun Smooth 4 may seem a little intimidating given the myriad buttons there. Most gimbals including the DJI Osmo are quite simple in terms of controls, and just 2-3 buttons do everything.

There is a LED battery indicator and the gimbal arm locks into position when you want to store it, so it doesn’t swing around everywhere like other gimbals do when they are not powered on.

Overall, the construction is plastic, which is not all that bad considering it cuts costs and keeps the device quite lightweight.

Related:

1. Pan and follow

In pan and follow mode, the camera will maintain the horizon. This means that any up/down shakes and movements will be canceled out by the gimbal, but if you turn the camera left or right, the camera will move with your arm.

2. Follow mode

In follow mode, both pan and tilt will move(smoothly, of course). This means that you can turn the camera up/down/left/right and the motors will follow. However, if you try to tilt the camera left or right(spinning it), that movement will be counteracted.

3. Locked mode

In locked mode, the camera will hold whatever orientation it is in and you won’t be able to change its direction – any movements will be counteracted and the angle and position will be maintained. This is good for using when you’re walking or running and want to get a straight, smooth shot.

PhoneGo Mode

In PhoneGo mode, the gimbal will become more sensitive and the result is even more smooth, which is good for capturing video when there are a lot of sudden, jerky changes in direction.

To activate PhoneGo Mode, there is a little trigger on the back side of the grip.

Photos

There is a companion app for the Zhiyun Smooth 4 called ZY Play, which lets you get creative with taking photos using your gimbal.

You can take single photos using a button on the gimbal, you can take panorama shots(the gimbal can turn really smoothly to capture a lot of imagery), as well as timelapses and a special mode called Vertigo.

How to use the various controls

zhiyun-s4-control-2558851

As you can see from the image above, there are a LOT of controls for you to play around with on the Zhiyun Smooth 4. This means you can actually change a lot of settings mid shoot without having to touch your screen, allowing for even more smoothness.

The large dial on the left is for controlling focus and digital zoom. This is quite a unique feature to the Zhiyun Smooth 4 as it’s rare to find a gimbal that allows you to mess with the focus.

The lightning bolt button in the center, as you can guess, is to turn the camera flash on. As you’re taking videos, if you wish to use a bit more light, just press the flash button to activate the phone’s LED flash.

At this point, you may be wondering how the gimbal manages to control so many features across so many smartphones.

The answer is, well, that you can only use these features if you’re in the ZY Play app. This means all videos and photos must be shot using the app if you want to use these button controls.

If you’re fine with just choosing a shooting mode and then using your phone’s native camera app, that will work, but the buttons won’t function. That’s a trade-off that many folks don’t mind, especially considering that the native apps are often much more robust(especially in the case of phones like the new iPhone).

Additionally, many gimbals have a little joystick that you can use to adjust the pan and tilt of the camera from the gimbal controls itself. This gimbal, interestingly enough, does not have a joystick. It’s not a huge trade-off, but sometimes being able to make small adjustments comes in very handy.

It is not a dealbreaker by any means, but if you like to use the joystick, you’re going to miss it here.

FiLMiC Pro App

As I mentioned above, the button controls can only be used with the native ZY app. Zhiyun has opened up their ecosystem to the FiLMiC Pro app as well, and this app also integrates nicely with the gimbal controls.

What’s more, the app is a really full-featured videography and photography app that lets you shoot really good videos and photographs, so you’ll actually enjoy using it!

For example, I personally don’t like to use the standard apps that gimbals are meant to go with – I just prefer the stabilization and using my own camera app. FiLMiC Pro ticks both boxes in that it is an app of my choice and it works well with the gimbal.

How well does the Zhiyun Smooth 4 work?

From what we’ve seen, the Zhiyun Smooth works wonders for stabilization. Whether you’re walking, running, or driving down a bumpy road, the Zhiyun manages to eliminate all visible shakes and vibrations. The stabilization is really top of the line and can really be considered a benchmark to check other gimbals against.

The lithium ion battery powering the gimbal work for up to 12 hours. 12 hours is a pretty long time especially for a gimbal and it’s more than enough for a day of filming. It’s ideal for using while traveling, too. Once you get home, just charge it up and it’s ready to go the next day.

Using the Zhiyun Smooth 4

The phone clamp can turn into portrait mode and landscape mode so you can shoot selfies and portrait videos as well. Just shoot and upload to your favorite app, whether it’s Snapchat, Instagram, Vine, or Tiktok.

The tripod is really handy, too. Being able to fold it open and closed allows you to both use it as an extension of the grip, as well as place it on a surface as you film(great for filming yourself for a vlog, for example).

Final thoughts

Overall, the Zhiyun Smooth 4 is a really nice gimbal that does not break the bank. For the price point and the features it delivers, you really can’t go wrong. It does its main job really well: stabilizes video, it’s fast, it’s quiet, and if you use a compatible app, there is a myriad of options you can control entirely from the gimbal itself.

However, the buttons can also feel overwhelming, especially if you’re just looking for a simple gimbal without too many bells and whistles.

The DJI Osmo Mobile 3 really is the only thing left to compare this gimbal to, and considering it is actually a little bit more expensive, the Zhiyun Smooth 4 really gives it a run for the money.

Sale
Zhiyun Smooth 4 Professional Gimbal Stabilizer for iPhone Smartphone Android Cell Phone 3-Axis Handheld Gimble Stick w/ Grip Tripod Ideal for Vlogging YouTube Vlog TikTok Instagram Live Video Kit
  • 👍👍【Filmic Pro】The official APP for Smooth 4 is called ZY play. But Filmic Pro has best in class support for Smooth 4, you can use Filmic Pro as an alternative to ZY play.
  • 👍👍【Control Panel】Integrated control panel design,Focus Pull & Zoom Capability
  • ✅✅【MUST KNOW】Balance the gimbal before use: Slide the smartphoone in as close as possible to against the tilt axis motor. Loosen the Roll (Y) Axis Thumb Screw (which is on the back) to adjust the gravity center by sliding the horizontal arm.When phone stays in level in power OFF status, it is balanced.We recommend you VIEW the video tutorials, There are lots of tutorial videos on YOUTUBE that will help you master the gimbal.
  • 👍👍【PhoneGo Mode】PhoneGo Mode for Instant Scene Transition
  • 👍👍【Time Lapse & Object Tracking】Time Lapse Expert and Object Tracking available; Supports Two-way Charging with Longer Runtime

Pixieset Review and How To Use It(Great solution for business)

Pixieset is an online photograph gallery platform that really shines as a way for professionals to show and deliver their photographs to clients.

With the advent of digital cameras one way of delivering photographs was via a USB drive. Indeed, a USB drive can be useful when there are a lot of photos to give, but even then, delivering photos through an online gallery that provides a good browsing experience and lets clients order whichever prints they need is much better.

Additionally, you can also show proofs and samples, and let your clients share whichever photos they want to share directly from the platform.

Essentially, a service like Pixieset ticks all the boxes for what people are looking for in digital photographs:

  • a way to browse through all of them very easily
  • a way to categorize them easily
  • a way to share them easily
  • a way to order prints for any photographs they want

Granted, Pixieset is not the only such service out there: there are plenty of other services, and in future posts, we may do some comparisons.

How to use Pixieset

Essentially, Pixieset is a way to upload your photos to a service that lets your client download and review them. They can also buy any photos they need.

It’s actually quite robust and gives you a lot of control on which features you want to enable or disable for your clients, which we’ll talk about later in the review.

As a photographer, one of the biggest pains and challenges(especially in the age of digital photographs where there’s no limit to how many you can take) is how to present them in a nice and professional way for your clients. Pixieset helps you do that.

Pixieset features: Collections or galleries

The essential feature in Pixieset is the Collections feature, or gallery feature. This is basically a showcase of thumbnails for all of your client’s photographs and in the gallery, your client can peruse them, download them, share them, and order prints(provided you enable these permissions for them).

A smooth gallery experience is what makes or breaks a service like this, and granted, most online photo galleries do a pretty good job of handling this part.

Upon setting up your account, there will be a few things you’ll need to do to get started. Ideally, you’ll want to upload a logo and set up a watermark and brand imaging, and you have quite a lot of customization options here. You can upload your company logo, a special cover photo for the gallery in question, and of course your watermark.

Watermarking is an important feature as you can use it to show pictures without really delivering the final product in case the client has not paid in full yet.

Once you have your account ready to go, you will want to drop into the Settings section really click to upload your logo and other brand imaging if you’d like (as seen in the image below). These items will be presented in different areas of the online gallery, and watermarks will be added when specified to image uploads (often for the purpose of providing proofs).

You can create as many collections as your plan permits, and the plans vary from free to different tiers of storage.

Note: Storage costs can add up, so it’s unlikely you’ll be able to keep every photo online forever. For this reason, it is prudent to the master storage on external hard drives, and utilize Pixieset for delivery.

Within galleries, you can break them down into sets. So if you were shooting one event that had many sub-events within it, you could have a gallery for the entire event and sub-sections for each smaller event within it.

This is super useful for weddings!

Now that you have your gallery set up, you can start uploading photos. Uploading is always going to take some time, especially if you have a lot of photos, because you’re limited by both your internet speed and the speed of Pixieset’s servers.

However, it’s not slow or anything, the speeds are quite up to par with what you’d find anywhere else.

Customizing your galleries

Pixieset offers you quite a bit of customization for your galleries. Parameters you can adjust are:

  • Name of the collection
  • Date of the even
  • Customized URL
  • Adding tags to group similar photographs/galleries

Within galleries, 3 features really stand out and make Pixieset shine amongst its competitors:

  1. Auto expiry
  2. Email registration
  3. Gallery assist

Auto expiry

Auto expiry is a really neat feature where you can set a time limit for how long the gallery would stay online before being taken down. This is quite crucial because storage is not unlimited!

The purpose of using a gallery suite like Pixieset is mainly for showing the clients the photographs immediately after the event. In this time, they can do what they want with the photographs. If there were just a few photos, it’s very easy for your client to download them wherever they want.

If there are many photos, you’d probably want to supply a hard drive or a usb drive with all the photos.

There’s no maximum on the auto expiry – you can keep the photos live for as little or as long a time as you like.

Please note though that once the gallery expires, you have no way of getting it back! So make sure you have backups!

Registration

Registration is a really cool feature built into Pixieset. Here, you can set up an opt-in that visitors must go through in order to view the gallery.

Using this, you can collect emails and see who is viewing which gallery. This data can then be used to build your mailing list and increase your prospective customers.

Please be aware that the best way to go about this is through an email service provider like GetResponse or Mailchimp and using a double opt-in to confirm people do want to sign up for your emails.

Gallery Assist

The last bonus feature is Gallery Assist, which basically starts a tutorial for any new visitor to your gallery. It walks them through the features available such as downloading, buying prints, and sharing.

As a business, you can potentially capitalize on some nice upselling here by encouraging your clients and visitors to buy prints(or at least showing them that they can easily do so here).

Setting up privacy with Pixieset

Privacy is hugely important, especially with photographs. Some photographs can also be boudoir in nature, so those are especially important to be kept private and out of the hands of malicious actors.

Pixieset makes it quite easy and straightforward to set up privacy barriers.

First off, you can set up a password and only those with the password can access a particular gallery.

For a further security step, you can make it so that only your clients or people you specify can access the gallery, and nobody else. Even within this access, your clients can further mark photos to be private and only visible to them and nobody else(but you of course).

Downloading and sharing photos

Even the ability to download and share is in your control. You may wish to disable downloading if you are just showing proofs to your client before finalizing the deal or selecting the photos.

You can enable downloads for your client and they’ll be able to download their photos in three sizes:

  • Full resolution
  • High resolution
  • Web

As an extra security step, you can enable a pin that must be entered before any photos can be downloaded. With email tracking, you can get a notification every time a photo has been downloaded so you can know which of the photos were saved.

While your customer is browsing through their photos, they can also share through social media(Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter are all supported) as well as directly through email.

Favoriting photos

Within the online gallery you create for your clients, they can favorite particular photos and even create lists of favorite images. This is a neat way for them to start organizing their photos in their own way.

Favoriting also saves you quite a bit of work, since you can just loosely categorize all the images and your client can filter them further at their own convenience. You can also create your own favorite list to showcase some specific images you want to show your client.

You also have control over how many images your client can put in a favorite list. So if you were assembling an album for them and you have limited space per section, you can make use of this feature.

Buying prints

Pixieset has done a super job of integrating a storefront into their gallery system. The option to buy is not in your face at all, so clients won’t feel obligated to buy – but the service is available and it’s a neat way for your client to get high quality prints very easily, and for you to earn some extra cash on selling prints.

Ordering prints can be quite a hassle, especially if you have to download the images, select them, take them to a shop, and get them printed. Pixieset streamlines everything in one neat flow.

You get to set the prices for print sizes and product options. Additionally, you can choose how the order will be fulfilled. This article on Pixieset explains this in great detail, but here is the gist of it:

  • The business can choose to self fulfill orders, or to have a lab fulfill them
  • If you self-fulfill, you’ll set your own prices and you’ll have to calculate how much your cost is vs how much you want to charge
  • If you choose lab fulfillment, you can see a price sheet with the costs of lab fulfillment, and you can set your prices accordingly. This way you can see how much you stand to make per print(of course, your prices have to be reasonable and competitive, and this is something you as a business owner would know best)

It’s very easy for clients to choose photos and print sizes, and a simple online checkout will get them on their way.

One added benefit of encouraging clients to print through Pixieset is that you have a degree of quality control over the prints. A low quality lab can easily ruin a great photo!

Mobile app

Here’s something interesting: the Pixieset app is not a mobile version of the full service. Instead, the app is a streamlined gallery, designed to help you easily showcase your photos on the go.

You can actually customize the app for client galleries and the app will be entirely offline, so if they want to download it to their phone or tablet and have the photos available for viewing anytime, they can do so.

Related

Final thoughts

As a professional photographer, one of your main concerns is having a good way to deliver your product to your customers and clients. Pixieset makes it quite easy to do and ticks all the boxes of showing photos online, having the ability to categorize photos, and being able to order prints online.

This was a general overview of Pixieset and if you liked what you saw, we highly recommend giving it a spin – sign up for the free account and start playing with the features, and if you like it, you can go ahead and sign up.

3/4 View Portraits and Photographs: What does it mean?

One term that gets thrown around really often in photography and art is “3/4”. You can find it either as “3/4 view”, “3/4 photo”, or “3/4 portrait”. Perhaps there are other variations as well. So what exactly is 3/4?

There are actually 2 distinct meanings, which we’ll check out in this post.

Sometimes it is used to refer to the angle, and sometimes, it is used to refer to the framing of the photograph.

3/4 View Portrait: definition #1

Just using the term 3/4 is not going to be sufficient, but if you use a modifier word after the fraction, you’ll be able to understand what the meaning is.

If you see the term 3/4 portrait, it commonly refers to a shot where the model is framed from the top of their head down to about their knees.

In this kind of photograph, 3/4 of the model is visible in the frame, hence the name. A 3/4 portrait has nothing to do with the angle the model is at, just how much of the model is visible.

While this is most common for human and animal subjects, you could theoretically apply this principle to inanimate objects as well.

American cowboy shot

Another variation of the 3/4 shot which combines the 3/4 portrait and the 3/4 view is combined, in a shot commonly called the American cowboy shot.

In this, the head of the model is turned around 45 degrees from the camera, and 3/4ths of the model’s body is visible in the shot.

This shot became popular in classic Westerns where the face of the actor would be visible as well as the gun on their hip.

Notice how around 3/4 of the model is visible, and the head is turned away so around 3/4 of it is visible

3/4 View Portrait: definition #2

Another definition and perhaps the more common one for 3/4 view is the kind of angle the model is facing you at. This kind of shot is called a 3/4 view because the only visible portion of the model’s face is 3/4ths of it.

To set up this pose, the model has their head turned slightly away from the camera in a way that the ear opposite the camera is just out of shot.

Even though it’s called a 3/4 view, it won’t always be 3/4 since everyone’s face size and shape is a little different.

A similar shot to a 3/4 view is a 2/3 view, where the model’s head is turned even further away, enough that the opposite eye appears very near the edge of the face.

You can use 3/4 view to take a photograph of the entire body of your model, or you can use a 3/4 view portrait to just take a photo with their face and/or neck in the frame.

This is a great example of a 3/4 photo. One may even argue that the face is turned away enough to make it a 2/3 photo. It is quite subjective!

Of course, one small difference between a full body 3/4 view shot and a portrait is that for a full body shot, the models entire body will be turned, whereas in a 3/4 portrait, it may just be their face that’s turned away, but you can’t see the rest of the body in the shot!

Related

Photographing other objects with 3/4 view

People are not the only things you can photograph with a 3/4 view. Many photos of locomotives, cars, airplanes, and other vehicles are commonly shot in a 3/4 view so that the front and the side can be visible.

3/4 photographs of cars can be used to accentuate certain features

For a bit more detail, the shot may be taken from a height to show parts of the top of the subject as well. This theme is very common in product photographs as well.

This product photograph is shot using a 3/4 angle

Fans of trains and locomotives will probably find this kind of shot very popular in their circles, as they feel this kind of shot is the ideal way to capture a photo of a train!

As you can see, 3/4 photos are very common and the principles can be applied to anything.

Related

Doing 3/4th view photography

Now that you know what a 3/4 photograph is, how do you set it up? There are basically two ways to do it:

  1. If you’re photographing a model, you can have them angle their face away from you at the desired degree in a 3/4 pose
  2. If you’re photographing in the field, you’ll have to set yourself up at the 3/4 angle from your subject

You need to make sure the light is coming from the proper angle, too. Since only part of the model will be visible to you, make sure the light is coming in a way the desired parts of the model are illuminated.

The lighting problem can be overcome by using a flash.

It doesn’t really matter what kind of camera you are using: you can shoot great 3/4 photos on a dSLR or you can choose to shoot a picture on your camera phone – in 3/4 photos, it’s all about the composition and lighting.

Playing around with light

You can really get creative with your 3/4 face shots by experimenting with the way light hits your subject. Typically, you’d want to the area of the face that is looking at the camera to be illuminated.

For even more creative effects, try adjusting the light in the following ways:

  • Have the part of the face that is away from the camera be point for light to fall on. This will cause the 3/4 profile to have shadows cast over it, and depending on the strength of the light, can make for unique effects
  • You can also try casting the light from the top or bottom

Other ways you can make the 3/4 pose interesting is by having the model stand with their torso facing you but their face is turned away at a 3/4 angle.

Alternatively, they can be fully facing you at a 3/4 angle for a body shot.

Drawing a 3/4th view portrait

We’re mostly about photography, but 3/4 view is also a very common kind of art form in painting and sketching. We scoured the web for some of the best 3/4 view tutorials. 3/4 view is commonly used in drawing comic book and anime characters:

Conclusion

3/4 portrait photography gives you a lot of creative license to take some really amazing photographs. Utilizing angles and shadows also helps to improve photos from “deer stuck in headlights” to “dapper Dan” instantly!

STM vs USM For Photography: Which Canon Technology is better?

On many Canon lenses, you’ll either find STM or USM written which specifies the kind of motor that the lens uses for focusing. In this post, we’ll be talking about the difference between STM and USM and which is better for photography.

STM stands for stepping motor, which is a very smooth but slightly slower way of autofocusing.

USM stands for ultrasonic motor, which is faster and what Canon used to use in most of their lenses. These motors are not as smooth or quiet, though.

Where did STM and USM come from?

Originally, autofocus systems were operated using a motor that sat in the body of the camera rather than in the lens. A mechanical gear would connect the motor to the lens, and the motor inside the camera would rotate the lens to achieve a desired focus.

Back then, there were plenty of big camera manufacturers: Canon, Nikon, Yashica, and Pentax. Of these 4, Nikon, Yashica, and Pentax used a similar design to keep the motor in the camera body.

Canon designers decided to try another method by putting the motor in the lens. As it turns out, Canon’s designers hit the nail on the head and their system was far superior to the others. Eventually, everyone else switched to a system based on Canon’s(with their own tweaks, of course).

Related:

How did we get to STM and USM lenses?

Canon lenses today use one of three kinds of motors: a STM motor, a USM motor, or a regular DC motor.

DC or direct drive motors

Even though most Canon lenses have STM or USM motors, if your lens does not specify it, it probably has a DC motor. a DC motor is the bottom of the pile in motors: there’s no smoothness of STM, no speed of USM, but it can do the job and as a budding photographer, it may not matter to you.

USM or ultrasonic motors

Ultrasonic motors are the most popular kind of autofocus motors and most Canon lenses use these. Ultrasonic vibrations are converted into rotational energy which is used to move the lens. For this to work, you need two loosely coupled rings. By vibrating one of the lenses, the other will rotate.

One ring is on the body, and the other ring is on the focusing part of the lens. USM motors have the advantage of speed. If you need to click really fast, the USM motor can keep up really well. You can also make small manual adjustments without having to turn autofocus off.

Ring USM motors

Even USM motors are of a few different types! Ring USM motors are the most common variation of autofocus motors in Canon lenses.

The motor itself is quite powerful and allows for a level of exact precision. You don’t need any mechanisms to reduce the speed of the motor. Additionally, once the motor has found a good position, you don’t need to keep applying power to it to maintain that position.

They are also very responsive, and it’s no surprise that Ring USM motors are the most common kind of motor found in Canon lenses.

Micro USM motors

Micro USM – as the name suggests – is a much smaller motor so it can fit into much smaller lenses. These are also cheaper so where micro USM motors are used, the price of the lens is less as well.

Micro USM uses a motor similar to the regular USM motor, but in this case, it’s not directly connected to the focusing rings. Instead, gears are used which actually makes it a hybrid between an old school autofocus system and the newer USM system.

Nano USM

Canon’s latest development is Nano USM, which is a high speed autofocus mechanism that is just as good as the regular USM and just as quiet and smooth. It’s probably the best kind of lens to use for everyday photography and even video.

You can shoot good, smooth video in which your camera focus keeps up with your moving subjects. Of course, it will shoot really good photographs, too.

STM or stepping motors

STM motors as you read above are smoother and quieter than USM motors. If you’re looking to shoot videos as well as photos, you can’t go wrong with a lens that uses STM motors.

Because it’s so quiet, your microphone won’t pick up any of the internal noises in the camera and you’ll be able to capture more of the actual subject’s sounds.

Stepping motors are called stepping(or stepper) motors because they can execute very tiny movements down to 0.1mm, and they can do them really fast. In fact, stepper motors are used in 3D printers for this very reason.

The small and precise movements are ideal for keeping up with the constantly changing focal length required when shooting videos.

This system is totally electronic and there are no gears or rings involved.

Gear STM

Smaller lenses using STM motors use gears to change the focus.

Lead-screw STM

Lead-screw motors are used in larger lenses(where you have more space). Lead screw motors are even more quieter and can achieve faster speeds than gear STMs.

Which one should you get?

For professional applications and for shooting higher quality photographs, USM lenses remain the undoubted champion.

For amateur photographers who also shoot lots of video, STM lenses shine – they’re totally silent and can deliver really crisp video. The focus speed is a bit slower but that allows for more smoothness.

More reading:

Difference between SLR and dSLR cameras: Know your gear!

Let’s talk about gear: a common term used for describing cameras is SLR and sometimes dSLR. So what’s the difference between the two? And if you’re looking to buy, which one should you get?

What are (d)SLR cameras

So the first thing to talk about would be SLR cameras in general. dSLR cameras are actually a subset within SLR cameras, so once you understand what an SLR camera is, it will be quite simple to discuss dSLR cameras.

SLR is short for Single Lens Reflector.

This indicates the way light enters the camera, how the image is captured, and what you see in the cameras viewfinder or eyepiece.

In regular point and shoot cameras, the viewfinder sits above the lens, so there’s a tiny difference of a few centimeters between the center of the lens and the center of the viewfinder.

Manufacturers have to do this because compact cameras usually don’t have enough room to route the light from the lens to the viewfinder directly.

In SLR cameras, the light entering the lens is reflected using a mirror up to the viewfinder through a prism, so what you see through the viewfinder is what the lens is actually seeing.

The prism is important because the image hitting the mirror is actually upside down, and the prism makes it right-side-up again.

Note: Interestingly enough, the image that lands on your retina is also upside down. This is because the lens refracts the light and turns it upside down. Your brain automatically compensates for this and makes it right side up.

When you click the shutter button, the mirror springs up, letting light onto the film or image sensor, and springs back down to shut it again.

That’s why you see the viewfinder closing and opening when you take a photo.

Finally, SLR cameras have switchable lenses, which is arguably the biggest advantage they have over other cameras.

Related

SLR cameras vs dSLR cameras

Now that you know what an SLR camera is, let’s talk about dSLR cameras and how they’re different from SLR cameras.

Essentially, dSLR cameras work in the exact same was as SLR cameras. Light enters through the lens, and a mirror reflects the light up through a prism into the viewfinder.

When you click the shutter button on an SLR camera, the mirror springs up and light falls on a roll of film, commonly 35 mm film.

When you click the shutter button on a dSLR camera, the mirror springs up and light falls onto a digital sensor which captures the image.

The major difference, as you can see, is that SLR cameras use film, and dSLR cameras use a digital sensor.

Because a digital sensor is involved, dSLR cameras can actually do a lot more with the image than a regular SLR camera.

Pros and cons of SLRs and dSLRs

Even though the basic mechanism is the same, since dSLRs are digital and SLRs use film, there’s a lot of differences.

Film and memory cards

The first and possibly most important distinction to make between the two is the fact that SLRs use film and dSLRs are digital.

Film cameras used to be the standard even after digital cameras first came about, because at the time, digital sensors were not quite advanced and could not capture as much detail as a film camera could.

Nowadays, digital sensors are very advanced and can capture huge images with incredible amounts of detail.

In today’s world, it’s difficult to find film anywhere, and it’s also difficult to find places that still develop film!

Aside from that, the obvious advantage of digital photographs is that you can store thousands on a memory card, whereas you can only take 30-40 photos per roll of film, so the cost of film and the cost of developing really adds up.

You can also view photos right away on a digital camera. With film, you have no idea how the photograph turned out until you develop it, and if you took a bad shot, that much film was basically wasted.

RAW photos

Another difference between SLRs and dSLRs is the ability of dSLR cameras to take RAW photos. RAW photos are photos where the whole range of exposure is captured in the photo, so you can post-process the photo to adjust exposure and bring out highlights and shadows.

Of course, this is only possible with the digital sensor.

Using film, you can only get what you captured, nothing else.

Shooting modes

Since the digital sensor is picking up the image live, you can actually utilize a variety of shooting modes and the camera can actually help you take better pictures.

Aperture priority

In aperture priority mode, you can control the aperture of the shot and the camera will automatically compensate the shutterspeed to get a good shot. Of course, the result will not always be perfect, but you can at least get a good range of shutter speeds to work with automatically.

Shutter priority

In Shutter priority mode, you can control the shutter speed and the camera will compensate with the aperture. Sometimes you’ll end up with a darker photo if you set the shutter speed too high for the lighting conditions and the camera just doesn’t have enough aperture to keep up.

Video

Finally, digital SLR cameras actually can record really respectable video! Many vloggers and YouTubers actually like to use dSLR cameras for shooting video, often with a microphone attached to the hotshoe bay.

Power consumption

Power consumption is one avenue where SLRs actually do better than dSLRs. Because there is so much going on in a digital SLR, they will consume a lot of power and drain the battery fairly quickly.

Regular film SLRs won’t consume nearly as much power and one set of batteries can actually last quite a long time.

Heck, some film SLRs can work without batteries too, but you’ll have to adjust everything(including focus) manually.

Sensitivity

Finally, let’s talk about sensitivity.

ISO

Sensitivity is measured by ISO, which is a measure of film speed, or how fast it can capture light. In films, higher ISOs were used for nighttime photography as they could capture light better.

With digital sensors such as in dSLRs, ISO was adapted into a feature that you could adjust up and down. In a film camera, you’d have to finish one roll of film of a given ISO before being able to change it.

With digital cameras, you can adjust the ISO up and down for every single shot. Plus, film ISOs only reached a certain sensitivity. Digital sensors are now capable of sensitivities hundreds of times greater.

Cost

dSLR cameras are now really inexpensive and entry level cameras can be found without breaking the bank at all. The beauty of these cameras is that you can just upgrade your lens when you want to up your game.

Film SLR cameras are not too common nowadays and if you factor in the cost of film and developing, it works out to be a lot more expensive!

Conclusion

As you can see, SLR and dSLR cameras are quite similar in their basic workings but as soon as you get past the mirror and reach the film or sensor is where the differences start to come out.

Today, dSLRs are the standard and film SLRs are just used by hobbyists and for highly specialized applications and situations.

More information:

GoPro Voice Commands(For Hero5, Hero6, Hero7 onwards)

By nature, the GoPro is supposed to be a very compact action camera. I have a GoPro Hero 5 Session and there are just two buttons on the whole thing, and even though there are a lot of potential settings you can tweak, it’s not always really easy to access them through the buttons, but you can do it using GoPro’s voice commands.

This is especially true if you’ve mounted the GoPro quite tightly somewhere and it is inconvenient to keep trying to access it.

The more recent GoPro models have voice commands, so you no longer need to press any buttons for most basic commands. GoPro’s Voice Commands are quite convenient to use. Let’s see which GoPros have voice control built in, and the different commands that you can use.

Check if your GoPro model has Voice Control

If your GoPro is a model older than the HERO 5, it does not have voice control. The HERO 5 and all GoPros released after it do have voice commands.

There are 12 different commands that you can issue, and the GoPro is designed to understand them in 1o different languages(wow!)

Since then, I’ve come to really appreciate the convenience of my using GoPro’s voice control. There’s no need to stop and fiddle with your GoPro anymore!

The following models will work with voice commands:

  1. HERO7 (White, Silver, & Black)
  2. HERO6 Black
  3. Fusion
  4. HERO5 Black
  5. HERO5 Session
  6. HERO (2018)
  7. Remo

GoPro is coming out with their new GoPro HERO8 soon, and all GoPro models now have voice commands as a standard feature. Even if your model is not on this list(meaning it is an older model), you can still control it remotely by other means, such as through the excellent GoPro app which you can download for iOS and Android.

Languages supported by the GoPro

  1. English (USA, UK, and Australia)
  2. French
  3. Italian
  4. German
  5. Spanish
  6. Chinese
  7. Japanese
  8. Portuguese
  9. Russian
  10. Korean

Please note that the last 3 languages on the list(Portuguese, Russian, and Korean) are not supported on the Remo.

How to use GoPro Voice Commands

If you’re comfortable using Alexa, OK Google, or Siri, using GoPro voice commands should feel really natural to you. Remember to speak clearly and loudly, and if there are other loud sounds muffling your voice, the camera may not be able to catch what you are saying.

First off, you’ll need to enable voice commands from the menu. How you access the menu will vary depending on the model that you are using.

You’ll also need to tell the GoPro which language to expect commands in, which you can also change from the settings menu.

You have 12 commands that the GoPro can understand:

  1. “GoPro Start Recording”
  2. “GoPro HiLight” (Adds a highlight tag while recording video)
  3. “GoPro Stop Recording”
  4. “GoPro Take a Photo”
  5. “GoPro Shoot Burst”
  6. “GoPro Start Time Lapse”
  7. “GoPro Stop Time Lapse”
  8. “GoPro Video Mode”
  9. “GoPro Photo Mode”
  10. “GoPro Time Lapse Mode”
  11. “GoPro Burst Mode”
  12. “GoPro Turn Off”

All the commands are really self-explanatory, so there is not much more that needs to be said. You can know for sure that the GoPro understood the command if you see the lights turn on/hear a beep.

Remember to say “GoPro” very clearly because that’s the keyphrase that gets the camera to listen.

If you have a HERO7, you can use “GoPro Capture” or “GoPro Stop Capture” to start and stop recording in whatever mode the camera is currently set to.

Additionally, there have been reports that there are two more commands that work:

  1. “Oh shit!”
  2. “That was sick”

Apparently, these will highlight the videos with a tag when you record. I suppose the rationale behind this was if whatever you did was so thrilling that you had to react like that, the camera should remember so that you can easily find the file!

GoPro Voice Commands not working?

Often, after a software update, the GoPro resets the default language back to English(USA). If this happens and you’re speaking in a different language or even accent, you may find that the voice commands stop working.

Simply head over to the menu and change the language back, and you should be good to go.

Related

Using the app or the remote

Of course, if you don’t want to use voice commands, you can certainly use the GoPro app(my screen is broken, so I have to use the app), or you can use the remote which you have to buy separately.

Small aperture: what does it mean and when do you use it?

When people say “small aperture”, there is often some confusion as to what it means. In this post, we’ll talk about small aperture, large apertures, and how they affect your photographs.

What is meant by small aperture?

A small aperture is a large f-stop number. The f-stop is a way of measuring what the aperture of the lens is at. The higher the f-stop, the lower the aperture – meaning less light will be let into the camera.

Small aperture vs big aperture

On the other hand, a small f-stop number means a large aperture. The smaller the f-stop number is, the larger the opening in the lens will be and more light will be let into the camera.

How to read f-stops

f-stops are indicated by the letter f and a number, like f/8 or f-8. Here’s the part that confuses most beginning photographers:

F stops go in the opposite direction of aperture!

To recap:

Higher f-stops means smaller aperture

Lower f-stops means bigger aperture

An f-stop of say f/16 will mean the opening in the lens is very small, allowing very little light through. An f-stop of f/2.8 on the other hand will mean the opening in the lens is quite large, and will allow a lot of light through.

You can use the f-stop to control the exposure in your photographs. Higher f-stops are good for photos in bright sunlight, and low f-stops are good for night photography or in situations where there is little light.

Common aperture and f-stop values

F-stops are standardized, which means that for the most part, the aperture on a particular f-stop on one lens will be the same as the same value f-stop on another lens.

When you are shopping for lenses, you’ll be able to see the maximum and minimum aperture the lens is capable of. This will help you decide on which lens to get.

For most everyday photography, a stock lens that can do f/2.8 up to f/16 will be fine.

For more specialized applications, you will need to get specific lenses that can manage apertures of up to f/1.4 or f/22 and f/32.

f/8 is about halfway(it doesn’t make sense, but that’s how it is) between extremely low and extremely high values.

a chart of aperture values

Combining aperture and shutter speed

Aperture needs to be used in conjunction with shutter speed, otherwise your photos will not come out correctly. At smaller apertures, where the lens is wide open, you need to use a faster shutter speed. Otherwise, you risk letting too much light into the photograph and over-exposing it.

At larger apertures, where the lens is stopped down(smaller), you will need to use a slower shutter speed. Otherwise, not enough light will enter the lens and your photos will come out darker.

In most digital cameras and dSLRs, you will find a function that will let you adjust the aperture and compensate the shutter speed automatically.

When you are starting out, this is a good setting to use. You can make a note of what shutter speed the camera used for your desired aperture, and if you’re not happy with the result, pop over to manual mode, set the aperture you need, and adjust the shutter speed based on what you noted in the first shot.

Aperture and depth of field

Aside from controlling exposure, aperture is also very useful for varying the depth of field of your photographs. Put simply, depth of field means how much of your photo is sharp and how much is blurred.

By adjusting the aperture, you can either blur the background and part of the foreground, or you can make the entire photograph relatively sharp.

This is especially evident in landscape photographs and portraits/macro photographs.

Related

Depth of field in portrait photographs

In a portrait or macro photo, you want to keep the subject as sharp as possible and blur out the background. Or for an artistic effect, you may wish to blur the subject slightly as well.

For these effects, you want to use a low or small aperture, which means more light will enter. Small apertures will blur the background and make the subject look more enhanced.

Remember that you will need to compensate for the greater exposure using a faster shutter speed.

This is an example of a photo with small aperture. The increased size of the lens allows more light in and blurs the background. If you notice, there is a little bit of blurryness on the edges of the subject, too.

Depth of field in landscape photographs

An example of using high aperture is a photograph of a landscape or a cityscape.

In these photos, you want the entire photograph to have even sharpness. A high aperture(less light coming in) will let you get this effect.

The degree of blurring in the background(less or more) is known as bokeh. Once you start incorporating bokeh into your camera work, you’ll notice a huge improvement in the quality of your photographs.

Remember that you will need to compensate for the lesser exposure using a slower shutter speed. In many cases, landscape photos are best taken from a tripod since your hands may not be able to keep the camera stable enough to avoid shakes.

This is an example of a photograph taken with a high aperture, or less light coming in. Notice how the sharpness is evenly distributed across the entire photograph.

How to set aperture in your camera

In a dSLR camera, you’ll typically find a dial with various letters on it. To control the aperture, you have two choices. Either set the dial to A or Av, which will let you control the aperture (typically by using the scroll wheel).

In Aperture priority mode, the camera will adjust shutter speed automatically to try and get you the best photographs.

If you want full control over your photographs, you can set the dial to M, which is manual mode. In this mode, you will need to adjust everything manually: shutter speed, aperture, and ISO.

Related

Difference between SLR and dSLR cameras

Rangefinder vs SLR cameras

Conclusion

I hope this cleared up the confusion about small and large apertures. Remember, in apertures, small numbers mean more light, and bigger numbers mean less light!