An In-Depth Review of the Sony a7r

There is no doubt that Sony has the photo industry talking lately. While you can certainly purchase a very capable Canon, Nikon or Fuji camera, it is Sony that seems to be the most innovative these days, both in sensor and lens technology. So when Sony announced the a7 & a7r last year, I (like my of my colleagues) was intrigued, one could even say excited, with the notion of an affordable light weight, full frame mirror-less camera. Especially one that housed some of the same sensor technology that went into the popular Nikon D800e. But with this being 1st generation technology from Sony, was it truly going to live up to its hype? Did Sony truly make a game changing camera? I had to find out.

A7r-River-Icelanda

After making a few phone calls and talking to the right people at Sony, they agreed to send me an a7r (and a handful of lenses) to put to the test. As a landscape, travel and humanitarian photographer, I am often working in fairly extreme environments and the projects I had lined up over the last half year certainly didn’t disappoint in that regard. From Iceland to the Canadian Rockies to Hawaii and even Australia, I pushed this camera to its limits…and then some. I even managed to break two ribs while bringing it with me while ice climbing in Iceland this past winter. Have you ever wanted to know just how cold a camera can get and still perform? What about test your camera to see if it is actually weather sealed by using it in a rain storm? Humidity? Snow? Heat? Dust? Done…Done and Done! So how did she hold up overall? Will the a7r become a permanent pillar of my gear setup? Lets find out!

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Adobe Adds Multiple New Features to Photoshop CC (June 2014)

Photoshop CC Start Up LogoWhen Adobe first moved to the subscription model, many photographers were up in arms about the new pricing structure. Among the complaints was the mindset that Adobe was just going to take our money and not provide any real benefits to the end user, even if this was against everything Adobe was saying. Part of the reason for the change from a product you could purchase outright in a store or a pure digital subscription model was the idea that the consistent forms of revenue for Adobe would free up its resources to be able to provide more timely updates to its software programs as well as add new features in a much faster capacity then the standard 1 to 2 year wait periods between significant software versions (such as CS4 to CS5 for example). Today it looks like Adobe is following through on that promise as they have announced a slew of new updates to Photoshop CC (also know as the Creative Cloud).

Starting today, the Photoshop Photography Program that allows you to pay only $10/month (with a one year contract) for Photoshop CC, Lightroom 5, Lightroom Mobile, access to Creative Cloud Learn, and ongoing updates and upgrades has been made permanent. You also won’t need a previous license, it’s available for everyone!

Below you can find a number of YouTube videos that showcase many of the new features and show you what they can do. If you have new features that you would like to see in Photoshop in the future, leave them in the comments below. Enjoy!

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Spring 2014 Photography Contest/Giveaway

Toshiba Kirabook with one of my Gecko images from Hawaii

Spring is here and it is a time for rebirth and new beginnings. As a photographer this can have several important meanings from a simple shift in the seasons to a change in our mindset of what is to come for us in the coming year. To me it stands for the rebirth of mother nature. Between the wild flowers blooming to the increased flow of waterfalls around the world to specific animals awaking from hibernation…it is one of my favorite times of the year.

This is why I am incredibly excited to announce my 2014 Spring Photography Contest. In an on going process to leverage the connections I have with the various companies I work with to benefit you, I have partnered with Toshiba, X-Rite and Formatt Hitech to give away over $2000 worth of prizes for my next contest/giveaway hosted here at Colby Brown Photography. Read More…


The Wonder of Australia

Colby-in-Oz

When it comes to bucket list locations around the world, I often hear other photographers mention Australia….the Land Down Under. Having explored the 6th largest country multiple times over the years I certainly understand why it is so sought after. Like Canada, much of the interior is full of vast empty spaces known as the “Outback” with the majority of the population of Australia living along the gorgeous coast line. While this generally means that travel times between locations in Oz can take a while, the country as a whole offers an incredibly diverse amount of photographic opportunities.

On my last trip to the region in March/April of 2013, I was working on a variety of projects for the Australian Government and the Australian Tourism Board that included a world record breaking photo walk (seen on the left). The photography communities in Australia are incredibly passionate with amazing people that are eager to get out shooting. The photo walk in Sydney had 392 photographers join me as we made our way from Bronte to Bondi Beach to hangout out and capture the beauty of the coast line along the way.

Overall my trip to Oz last year took me from Sydney to Tasmania to the Great Ocean Road and even over to Perth the natural wonder that is Karijini National Park located in the heart of the Outback in the northern region of Western Australia. As I prepare to return to Australia next month to teach two photography workshops (in Sydney & Perth) and work on a new marketing campaign with the ATB (Australian Tourism Board), I am enjoying looking back at my work from such a beautiful country.
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Mini Review: Updated 2014 Toshiba 13″ Kirabook

toshiba-kirabook-screenIn August of 2013, I wrote a in-depth review of the new 13″ Toshiba Kirabook laptop that was one of the better Windows travel laptops at the time. However while it was lightweight, portable and contained a gorgeous 2560×1440 screen, it wasn’t perfect. Battery life was ok but not great, Windows 8 didn’t support high resolution very well and Intel had just pushed out its Haswell processor that offered much better battery life and stronger CPU performance which left the Kirabook feeling a touch out of date on the day of its launch. Fast forward to April of 2014 and Toshiba has finally released an update to the Kirabook line.

Does the new Kirabook fix last years model’s issues? Does Windows 8.1 make much of a difference? Is it enough of an update in features to warrant a upgrade if you bought last years model? Read my mini review below to find out if it is still in my gear bag…
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Gear Review: A Photographers Take on The HTC One M8 (2014)

HTC-One-M8 Last year HTC released their latest flagship phone known as the “HTC One”, which took much of the Android photo industry by surprise. While the Android OS has caught up and exceeded IOS in terms of features and functionality over the last few years (in my opinion), it was the first time that an Android manufacturer had released a phone that could easily go toe to toe with Apple’s revered iPhone in terms of build quality and design. With its near full metal body and gorgeous display, it was a pleasure to use (and REVIEW) but while it won a number of rewards and praise, it ultimately didn’t end up getting close to matching Samsung in unit sales (the current largest Android phone manufacturer). Fast forward to 2014 and this morning HTC has officially announced the One’s successor, officially known as the HTC One M8. Fortunately I was one of a few people in the world to receive a M8 early and I was able to put it to the test during a number of my adventures to Iceland, the Canadian Rockies and The Big Island of Hawaii. Does it stand up to the praise of it is predecessor? Can it compete with the latest and greatest Android phones coming out this year? Lets find out!

HTC One M8 Press Image

HTC One M8 Press Image

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An In-Depth Conversation With Sony – Focus on a7/a7r

Sony A7r CameraWhen Sony announced the a7/a7r on October 16th, 2013 it lit the photography world on fire. For the first time, a camera manufacturer had managed to make an affordable full frame mirror-less camera in an ultra portable body. Photographers all over the globe, myself included, began to realize that the mirror-less revolution might be here sooner than we realized. Unlike other mirror-less cameras from companies like Fuji, Olympus and Samsung, Sony finally offered a Full Frame camera system that might actually replace the use of a standard DSLR for professionals.

Once the camera was released, I began to comb through various social media posts and message boards , realizing that many photographers had questions. This technology was brand new after all and if photographers were going to make the switch to a new brand, they needed to know about GPS units, flash compatibility and AF accuracy.

After hearing from all of you, I decided to reach out to my Sony contacts and schedule a number of meetings/conversations with Mark Weir (Senior Technology Manager) and Kenta Honjo (Lead Product Manager) to discuss a number of topics and questions that many of you have been asking over the last few months.

My full review will be posted in roughly two weeks, but enjoy this post in the mean time.

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Who Says That Travel Photography Is Not A Contact Sport?

Iceland_Tent_Glacier_Photography_Colby_BrownWhen it comes to travel photography, I am not all that surprised that many emerging and aspiring photographers have a somewhat over romanticized notion of the challenges many of us face in making a career out of this profession. In all honesty, I was just as guilty nearly nine years ago when I purchased my first DSLR and decided that this was going to be my path. Like many people, I had a love of travel and figured that photography would be the glorious means in which I would be able travel to exotic locations, meet amazing people and of course…take photos of gorgeous scenery all day long. Who wouldn’t want that right? :)

Reality is of course, much different. While I know that wedding, event, studio and portrait photographers all face their own challenges, travel photography is a different sort of beast. Have you ever wanted to travel to places like India or Bolivia? You are almost guaranteed to get food poisoning of some sort. Want to photograph the amazing Northern Lights in northern Canada? You better be prepared to work in -38 degree weather. What about going ice climbing or photographing adventure sports? You better get accustomed to the inside of hospitals and medical clinics while traveling.

What is amusing about these “myths” and romanticized notions surrounding travel photography is that they are perpetuated by the vary people that do this for a living…such as myself.

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A Year in Reflection – 2013

It is that time of year yet again where the promises and resolutions of a new year fuse with the reflections of what the last 12 months meant to each of us. While 2012 was a year of growth for me and my photography businesses, 2013 was about broadening my horizons, expanding business opportunities and cherishing the time I had with my family. Lets take a look at the recap of 2013 before I share my favorite images of the year.

The Giving Lens

My humanitarian photography company, The Giving Lens, had a wonderful year, successfully running trips to Peru, Nicaragua, India, Tanzania and Cambodia to help fight for a number of causes such as child education, families affected by HIV, women’s empowerment and those living in extreme poverty. 2014 is shaping up to be another great year for TGL as well with trips to Jordan, Peru, Nicaragua, Tanzania, Cambodia, India & Thailand (along with others in the works). The idea is to continue to expand our operations and begin to work with new organizations in new countries that are supporting projects focused on clean drinking water, species preservation and protecting the ocean. While I don’t have the ability to go on every trip, it truly warms my heart to be able to continue to get like minded people together to help make a difference in the world through the art of photography. Moving forward, TGL and myself are looking for more and more ways to get people involved, especially those that can’t join us on our trips.

Spending some time with the Maasai in Tanzania

Spending some time with the Maasai in Tanzania. Photo by Kate Havercroft

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Your Favorite Images of 2013 Photo Contest/Giveaway

As the end of 2013 approaches, photographers from all over the globe have begun compiling their photos from the past year to share with others. While I enjoy this time of year as an artist, I tend to see too many photographers get way too wrapped up in having others choose their “best” images of the year, often relying on something as ridiculous as how many Facebook “Likes” or Google+ “+1s” an image got to help determine the quality of a photo. Instead, I prefer to look back at the last 12 months of experiences and photographs I captured and reflect on their significance and what they meant to me as an individual. Photography is not only an artistic median, it is a very personal art form that allows each of us to capture the world around us as we see it. So why should we look to our followers on Facebook to determine our “best” images of the year?

It is within this context that I am very pleased to announce a new photo contest/giveaway that centers around the idea of singling out the images that mean the most to us from over the last 12 months and sharing the stories behind them with the world. The contest will run through January 8th and I am stoked to announce that it is sponsored by Wacom, Adobe and onOne Software, who have provided a nice mix of some of the best photo editing tools around that I use one my images nearly every day. More details can be found below…

Colby-Contest-1

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