Category Archives: How To

How to Female Portraits

In this “How To” article we look at shooting individual portraits of females.

The lesson covers:

– Basic Rules For Female Portraits
– Example Female Modelling Poses
– Camera Equipment and Lighting

The article is mostly about poses and techniques for getting the best looking aesthetically pleasing images. It is more about the posing and modeling side of things rather than the technical equipment and lighting that can be used.

This article will focus on female portraits (as the web has boundless information on this). As such it should be useful to anyone taking photos of people.

It is a long and comprehensive “How To” article, so take your time going through all of the material.

At a future point in time we plan on writing separate How To articles about Male Portraits, Couples Portraits, Group Portraits, and Street Photography portraits.

 

Introduction

There are certain poses that work better than others, and it is important to fully understand this.

Often we are shooting people on the street, or at functions and events, and so we need to be able to “direct them” into certain poses that are going to make them look their best. We need to know how to make a person look like a photographic model.

The ideas we present here are what we have found makes for a good portrait shot from researching the web and doing our own photography. For example we are not a fan of sulky and angry looking poses and always think that a smile looks best for a portrait. Therefore our article and examples will be biased towards smiling shots.

Many people have taken lots of “selfies” on their phone and have an idea of what good poses look like. Our challenge as a portrait photographer is to get them to try something different that also makes for a great photo. We want them to be very pleasantly surprised by the portrait we have made of them.

It is the Photographer’s responsibility to direct the subjects into good poses, and the subjects are expecting the Photographer to do this. The Photographer’s role is to confidently take charge and “Direct the Shoot”.

There is nothing more awkward than a clueless model and a quiet photographer. Hence shooting a subject requires a lot of continual talking, getting the subject to make slight re-posing moves, all done whilst continually shooting.

We need to make the subject feel good about themselves and what they are doing. This can be done by showing them image results on the camera screen throughout the shoot. Get feedback from them about which ones they like and which ones they dislike. Have them continually change posing positions slightly and take lots of pictures.

As advised by portrait photographer Clay Cook: During a Portrait Shoot you need to be confident in what you tell your subject and if one pose or technique does not work then simply move onto something else. Keep experimenting and keep talking. Connect with your subject and be patient, if you stop talking and connecting, you will never get that perfect pose.

Female Portraits Photography 01
(Portrait Photographer Clay Cook directing a shoot)

We hope that this “How To” article will give you the tools and techniques you need to become a confident maker of Portrait Pictures.

 
 

Basic Rules for Posing

There are a series of basic rules that we think greatly assist female portrait shots.

The basic “rules” we follow here at Photos By Passy when shooting individual portraits are the following:

1) Shoot From Above
2) Chin Down
3) Tortoise Chin
4) Eyes in Focus
5) The Two Thirds Turn
6) Mouth Open / Lips Apart
7) Placing The Hands
8) Using Props
9) Sit and Lean In
10) Slimming Poses
11) Using Trees Walls and Doors
12) Sideways Looks
13) Position The Hair
14) Use The Favoured Side
15) Gaps Between the Arms
16) Cross the Legs
17) Getting a Natural Smile
18) Maintaining Good Posture

Many of these rules are equally applicable to group shots. The primary aim is to get people looking their best by having strong jaw lines, feminine curves, and looking healthy.

If you are more of a visual learner, then you may want to jump straight to our Pinterest Board of examples at the link below:

Female Portraits Pinterest Board

Let’s discuss each of our portrait making rules one by one with plenty of real life examples.

 

1) Shoot from Above

A strong jawline without multiple chins looks great, so always take the camera to a position higher than the person’s eyes. Never shoot at the subject with your lens below the level of their eyes. Basically we are using the same technique as used on phone selfies.

Female Portraits Photography 02 Bethan Brunette

So the rule is to shoot above the subject’s eyes, looking down. This angle not only gives the jawline more definition, but also slims the body as it looks smaller when it is placed further from the camera. Curvier women look great in this pose.

 

2) Chin Down

This is a follow on from Rule 1 and is all about getting a strong jawline.

People often have a natural instinct to lean backwards in a photo. When they do this we can see up their nose, into their mouth, and their eyes are partially closed. It is not a good look.

Female Portraits Photography 03

We need to tell the subject to bring their chin down which will fix these problems and should also help open their eyes up. The eyes are the most important in a portrait.

Also try getting the subject to use their tongue.

It might feel strange, but pressing your tongue on the roof of your mouth while smiling is an effective way to help avoid the dreaded double chin, as it elongates your neck and your jawline.

However, it is important that if trying this method they do NOT press their tongue into the back of their front teeth. if this happens the tongue will show through the teeth and make their smile look awful.

 

3) Tortoise Chin

This is another technique to get a strong jawline onto the subject, especially if we are facing them directly when shooting.

In their natural position everyone including skinny people will have some flab appear under their chin. Tortoise Chin Technique can remove this.

In this technique we tell the subject to bring their chin and ears forward and down, as if they were a tortoise poking its head out of its shell.

This should make their chin come out and down, resulting in a much more attractive jawline.

Here are some images from the “photography.tutsplus.com” portraits tutorial that shows how this works.

Female Portraits Photography 04

The above before and after effect was produced by telling the subject to bring their ears forward like a tortoise. Side on the Before and After looks like this:

Female Portraits Photography 05

The Tortoise Technique works equally as well on males as on females.

Female Portraits Photography 06

When the subject pushes their chin forward and then down and is faced directly towards the camera, it will probably feel incredibly awkward and uncomfortable for the model.
However from the photographers perspective the jawline will become extended with stronger lines formed and be far more attractive.

Perhaps show the subject before and after shots of this technique so they can see for themselves what improvements this “torture / tortoise process” achieves.

A similar outcome to the Tortoise technique can also be obtained when the model leans forward towards the camera and we shoot from above.

Female Portraits Photography 07
(Click Image to View Full Size)

 

4) Eyes in Focus

It is critically important that both eyes are fully in focus.

If we shoot the model at an angle at a shallow with an open aperture of F1.4, 1.8, or 2.8, we can get the problem of one eye in focus and one eye out of focus. This can be seen in the following example taken from the web:

Female Portraits Photography 08

At PBP we find it is best to shoot our portraits at an aperture of F4.0 to F5.6 whenever we have the face turned at an angle.

This works well for eye focusing as shown in the following casual portrait taken at an Aperture of F4.0

Female Portraits Photography 09 Port Melb Leather Jacket
(Click Image to View Full Size)

To get the eyes in focus, it is important to use a movable spot focus point if your camera has this, and place it over one eye of the subject. Or simply get one of the latest Sony Cameras with intelligent eye focus built into the camera.

 

5a) The Two Thirds Turn

Shooting straight on facing a person makes them look big, but having them turn away will give them a slimmer profile look in the camera.

Female Portraits Photography 10

Tell the subject to turn their right side away from the camera by about two thirds. Move their body but keep their face looking straight at the camera. They can do this by stepping their right foot back.

Female Portraits Photography 11 Bethan in White

Another slight change of position which looks good for rotated looking over the shoulder shots, is to get the model to raise the shoulder closest to the camera slightly.

Female Portraits Photography 12
(Click Image to View Full Size)

Popping a shoulder up and forward can make a significant difference, because raising one shoulder higher than another adds dimension and strength to the image.

 

5b) Avoid Shooting Straight On

This is basically the same idea as the “Two Thirds Turn” Rule. Avoid shooting from directly in front of your subject facing straight on. A straight on orientation will make the subject look her widest.
Instead, ask the subject to turn her body 45 degrees (or about two thirds) and then raise the shoulder that is nearest to the camera.

Female Portraits Photography 13

When doing a full length portrait, try the following approach for the legs and hands.

Next have her bring one leg forward (leg closest to camera) and turn that foot slightly outwards, keeping the knee bent.
This closer to camera bent knee leg can alternatively be slightly crossed behind the back leg.
Ask her to roll her hip slightly up and to keep her weight on her straight leg.

All of these things help give the bulkier parts of the body a slimmer appearance.

Keeping the weight on the back leg furthest from the camera is a ground rule for full length portraits.

The hands can be placed to the side or to the front of the model as shown in the examples below.

Female Portraits Photography 14

 

6) Mouth Open / Lips Apart

We are not quite sure exactly why this technique works, but basically a closed tight mouth is a body language sign of anger or disinterest, whereas a slightly open mouth often occurs when people show interest or agreement in something.

Having the mouth slightly open can set a completely different mood in the photograph. With the mouth closed, the jawline clenches and adds extra weight to the sides of their face. It can also give negative energy to an image, a bored neutral look.

With the mouth slightly open, the jawline is elongated and gives a subtle interesting and pleasant look to the portrait.

Female Portraits Photography 15 heidi

The lips just need to be slightly open, just enough to relieve the closed lips tense look.

Female Portraits Photography 16

 

7) Placing The Hands

Photographer and Educator Sue Bryce uses the term “Ballet Hands”. Hands are one of the more challenging aspects of posing and can make or break an image if the hands are displayed incorrectly. Sue’s advice is that the subject should relax their hands as if they were in a ballet, spreading the fingers lightly, slightly broken at the joints. From there hands should be placed in a position that works with the image.

It is important to realise that a person’s hand is almost the same size as their face, and so we do not want open hands, palms, and backs of hands in full view close to the face.

Female Portraits Photography 17
(Click Image to View Full Size)

Under the chin, over the shoulder, to the side or through the hair are some common positions for hands.

Female Portraits Photography 18 Hands Montage
(Click Image to View Full Size)

As shown below, the fingers need to be slightly curved, and slightly apart, only just touching the face or hair, and not pressing against anything.

Female Portraits Photography 19 tick cross hand clenched
(Click Image to View Full Size)

 

8) Using Props

Hats are awesome to use in Portrait photos. Build up a collection of them from second hand clothing shops.

Female Portraits Photography 20 Clay Cook hat Pic
(Portrait Photo by Clay Cook)

The following Portrait works well with the black 80’s Gloves and Black Trouser Braces against the white outfit on the model.

Female Portraits Photography 21
(Portrait Photo by Clay Cook)

Sunglasses are also another great prop that can be used in Portrait photos.

Female Portraits Photography 22
(Click Image to View Full Size)

The sunglasses above were purchased at a second hand shop, it is a good idea to have some sunglasses as props to take along to outdoor shoots.

Female Portraits Photography 23 Noo Glasses
(Click Image to View Full Size)

Interesting jewellery (ear rings and necklaces) can add to a Portrait shot.

Female Portraits Photography 24
(Click Image to View Full Size)

Handbags and Purses are another great prop which can add interest and solve the problem of what to do with the hands.

Female Portraits Photography 25
(Click Image to View Full Size)

If a subject is wearing a jacket, then we can do a pose where they pull lightly on the lapels.

Female Portraits Photography 26

A cup of coffee or a drink in the hand is another good prop that can be used for casual portraits at social functions.

 

9) Sit and Lean In

The approach here is to have the subject lean her face in towards the camera. This works well if the model is seated and will emphasize the face and hair. The subject leans her face towards you, parallel to her bent knees if she is sitting.  This elongates the neck, defines the chin, and let’s her hair fall down, away from her body making it look voluminous. Watch the curve in her shoulders and back, make sure she doesn’t slouch.
Shoot from above around to the side so that her shoulder is at 45 degrees (the two thirds angle) to camera.

Female Portraits Photography 27
(Click Image to View Full Size)

In this second example we have the model leaning in towards us, with right hand side hair forward, and left hand side hair back.

Female Portraits Photography 28
(Click Image to View Full Size)

 

10) Use Slimming Poses

No matter what size a woman is, it is more likely than not, that she wants to appear thinner.  Have her bring a shoulder to the front and turn her head toward you.  Shoot slightly from above and this creates nice angles that focus on her face and make the body look slimmer.

Any body joint bent (arms and legs) automatically looks slimmer. Never have arms straight and pressed against the body, or crossing over the body close to the camera.

If a person’s arm looks fat, they will think they look fat. Even slender women can get “fat arms” if they are positioned poorly. If she is leaning her weight back on an arm, it needs to be bent and positioned slightly away from her body.  Do not let it protrude out so it looks double jointed, this pushs the arm muscle to bulge in the back of the arm. A bent anything always looks slimmer.

Never shoot front on.

Arms and hands look overly big if they are the closest items to the camera. In the image below the arms and hands are positioned very badly. They should have been kept down to the side and bent with an open gap in between them.

Female Portraits Photography 29
(Click Image to View Full Size)

Arms bent with hands down lower away from the face gives a much better look.

Female Portraits Photography 30
(Click Image to View Full Size)

Bending the legs and taking the arms away from the body and also bending them creates a significant slimming effect.

Female Portraits Photography 31

A hand on the waist will help make it look smaller, as will that space between your model’s arm and torso when the arm is bent by doing this.
Have her drop the other arm slightly behind her body while turning towards the camera at that 45 degree angle. Or have the other arm on the other hip so the hand is just visible.

Instructions to the model are to Position her body 45 degrees and put the arm closest to the camera on her hip.
Then plant one foot slightly in front of the other, point her front foot toe to the camera and place her weight onto her back leg.

This classic celebrity red carpet pose ensures that the subject’s upper arm isn’t smooshed against her body making the arm look flattened and thus larger.

If the hand-on-hip pose is a bit forced and unatural to the model, get her to hold her arms out from her sides ever so slightly.

Never let the arms just hang against the subject’s side, because this will make her look wider.
Never have a side on view of arms pressed straight down against body as then the arms can look very large.

The images below show how this weight on back foot, leg bent, hands on hips slimming pose works.

Female Portraits Photography 32

Note that the hand on hip corresponds to the weight bearing leg arm, if only doing one arm, and that he hands are still visible when on the hips.

 

11) Using Trees Walls and Doors

Trees can be used as part of an outdoor portrait. Note in the example below we also have the fingers with a light touch and slightly curved, as per the “Hands Rule” described previously.

Female Portraits Photography 33
(Click Image to View Full Size)

Walls can also be used in Portraits.

Female Portraits Photography 34
(Click Image to View Full Size)

If we have a model sideways against a wall, then we can get her to arch her back while supporting her weight on her shoulders and this provides a flattering curvy result.

Female Portraits Photography 35

Doorways and Columns can also be used as posing aids for full length portraits.

Female Portraits Photography 36
(Click Image to View Full Size)

Note that in doorways we have one arm up and the other one down, with head tilted towards the lower arm, and the lower arm’s hip swung out. This makes a great curvy elegant look.

Female Portraits Photography 37
(Click Image to View Full Size)

 

12) Sideways Looks

When we have the subject move their eyes to give a sideways look, often the eyes are moved all the way across, which creates too much whites of the eyes visible.

For example, the portrait below could have been a good shot, but look at the far away eye and how much white there is visible. It is too much.

Female Portraits Photography 38
(Click Image to View Full Size)

The sideways glancing pose is a difficult one to get right. We really need to be concentrating when we get the pose happening and the shot lined up.

In the image below we have our subject looking sideways, but not all the way, and the eyes look so much better.

Female Portraits Photography 39
(Click Image to View Full Size)

 

13) Position The Hair

Hair sitting on the shoulders does not look good. It is best to have the hair with one side forward and one side back. Often it is best to try both combinations of forward and back, as the natural part in the hair will favour one combination over the other.

Alternatively depending on the model and the shot the hair can be pushed back, or forward on both sides. This is explained at “photography.tutsplus.com” using the following diagram.

Female Portraits Photography 40
(Click Image to View Full Size)

Hair position Number 1 should not be used, 4 and 5 are good to use, 2, 3, and 6 are okay to use in the right situations.

There is a link to the “photography.tutsplus.com” article in the “Further Reading” section later on.

Here are some Photos By Passy images showing hair positioning.

Female Portraits Photography 41

 

14) Use The Favoured Side

From taking selfies, a lot of women will know that they have a “favoured side” which looks best. This might be because the teeth look better on one side than the other, or just because the face looks better on that side.

Although people look identical on both sides of their faces, there is often one side which looks better than the other.

Make sure that you ask your subject which side is her favoured side and take all the shots from that side wherever possible.

In the images below, our model Chelsea has her right hand side as her favoured side.

Female Portraits Photography 42

 

15) Gaps Between the Arms

Arms can look oversized in photos and these tips from “photography.tutsplus.com” are an excellent way to remedy this.

When people stand naturally they tend to stand with their arms flat at their sides. This causes several problems. First, it makes them look awkward and uncomfortable in the photo. Secondly, their arm presses against their body which squishes the arm out and makes it look larger than it actually is.

As shown in the example below with the red measuring line, it is amazing how much thickness is added to the arm when it hangs down against the subject’s body.

Female Portraits Photography 43
(Click Image to View Full Size)

As shown above the arm thickness problem is solved by having the subject lift their arm out from their body, or place their hand on their hip.

When we have people move their arms out away from their body, typically by placing their hands on their hips, it is important that we can see both gaps between their bent arms on each side.

This is shown clearly in the example images below from “photography.tutsplus.com”:

Female Portraits Photography 44
(Click Image to View Full Size)

As shown by the red line in the diagram, without a gap showing for the far away arm, the subject’s body appears to be a lot wider. By having both gaps between both arms and the waist clearly visible we create a definite curvy and slimming effect.

So remember to get arms moved out from the body, especially when they are the closest object to the lens.

Female Portraits Photography 45

One final problem with arms occurs when the model rests their weight on an arm.

The arm can appear to bend backwards and look double jointed, as in the image below.

Female Portraits Photography 46
(Click Image to View Full Size)

In cases like this we need to get the model to bend the arm slighty so that it looks perfectly straight.

 

16) Cross the Legs

Models on the catwalk are trained to do a walk where they continually cross their legs over each other in an X pattern. This makes them look taller and accentuates curves.

For full length portraits of larger ladies, have them cross their legs over which creates a nice slimming effect.

We can clearly see the effect of doing this in the Before and After images below.

Female Portraits Photography 47

Here are some further examples of the effectiveness of the cat walk X shaped crossing over of legs.

Female Portraits Photography 48

The leg cross method works because the leg in front obscures part of the leg behind and thereby makes both legs look slimmer.

This rule is also called “Crossing the Ankles”.

As shown previously crossing the ankles is used for standing shots, even when the shot is going to be cropped later above the knees. This makes the bottom of the cropped shot look much better.

Eg. Ff the subject is being shot straight-on (for a street style looking picture) have the subject cross her legs, starting at the calf.
This ankles crossed stance will make the hips look narrower and the legs look longer, plus it looks a bit more casual.
The same pose also works when the subject is sitting.

An alternative for large sized legs is to use the knee bend, with weight resting on the non-bent leg as discussed in the slimming rules previously.

Female Portraits Photography 49

 

17) Getting a Natural Smile

Smiling too wide on purpose causes the face muscles to tense up, the eyes to squint, and the cheeks to puff out, which does not make for an attractive photo.

Female Portraits Photography 50

When people smile naturally, the area around the eyes tends to crease a bit, which looks much more sincere than a forced contrived smile with just the mouth.

Get the subject to relax their face and open their mouth slightly, so that a more natural smile results.

For people who do not have great teeth for smiling, smile with the lips and the eyes, as shown below.

Female Portraits Photography 51
(Click Image to View Full Size)

 

18) Maintaining Good Posture

Standing up straight makes a significant difference and gives an aura of confidence and good health.

It also helps elongate the subject in photos.

After a few shots people can tend to start slumping and slouching, so Posture needs to be constantly monitored throughout the shoot.

 
 

Photographing Curvy Women

Large curvy women can be made to look slimmer using a number of the rules discussed previously in this article.

The right kind of flattering outfit is a good start.

Obviously, horizontal stripes on a curvy model aren’t going to help her look slimmer.

Darker colors are more flattering and slimming, and long sleeves can help deaccentuate larger arms.

Curvy people sometimes dress a size or two too big to hide their curvy figures, but this often has the opposite effect: it can make them look larger than they actually are.

Clothes that fit are going to be much more slimming than clothes that don’t.

There are a number of great tips for photographing curvy women in the following article.

Tips for Photographing Curvy Women

 
 

Classic Modelling Poses

Here are fifteen classic modelling poses that could be used if you are stuck for ideas during a shoot.

Female Portraits Photography 52
(Click Image to View Full Size)

Female Portraits Photography 53
(Click Image to View Full Size)

Female Portraits Photography 54
(Click Image to View Full Size)

Read the full article about these fifteen classic poses which also includes a real life model performing each of them at the link below.

Fifteen Classic Modelling Poses

There are many other great poses and ideas in the “Further Reading” section later on in our article.

 
 

Pinterest Board of Examples

Check out our Pinterest Board of over 100 female modelling shots and poses at the link below.

Female Portraits Pinterest Board

 
 

Camera Equipment for Portraits

A telephoto lens (85mm or 135mm F1.4) or a long range zoom (70-200 F2.8) is really essential for portrait photography, as the shorter the focal length of your lens the greater the potential for unwanted distortion.

An 85mm F1.4 lens is perfect on a full frame camera for portraiture as it enables half-length portraits to be taken from a comfortable distance away from the subject of around 2 to 3m, so you can direct your subject without crowding in and making them feel awkward.

On a cropped sensor camera, use a 50mm lens that will give you an equivalent of 75mm focal length.

Use open apertures of F1.4 through to F5.6 to get background blurring behind subjects. Be careful using F1.4 wide open as it can be easy not to have both eyes fully in focus.

The latest Sony Cameras like the A99II have a special eye autofocus feature which make them fabulous for doing Portrait Photography.

Read the following article all about the best type of lenses to use for Portrait Photography:

Best Lenses for Portrait Photography

Also go through the following multi page article which discusses Aperture, Shutter Speed, ISO, and Exposure Compensation:

Camera Settings for Portrait Photography

Here is a great article by Mark Galer about using Sony Cameras for Portrait Photography.

Sony Camera Settings for Portraits

 

Lighting for Portraits

In regards to lighting, it is vitally important to produce great quality indoor and outdoor portraits.

This four minute video shows how to effectively use fill flash from the camera combined with sunlight or shade in outdoor portraits.

This next video shows how to use Diffusers and Reflectors.

The following video shows how to use a budget umbrella off-camera flash for doing indoor portraits.

 

Videos About Portrait Photography

We have selected a series of videos that reinforce the posing rules we have listed previously, as well as give great tips on how to shoot female portraits.

This eight minute 10 Tips for Posing video is well presented with the Photographer working with a female model.

This next thirteen minute video from @caliallstaring from Instagram gives some good tips about how to run the Photo Shoot and communicate with the subject.

The next seven minute video from Tony and Chelsea Northrop shows some great lighting tips and techniques for shooting outdoor portraits.

This next five minute video has an older experienced guy talk through a shoot and discuss what is good and wat is bad, with the photo results showm each time.

In the following four minute video, the photographer shows how to start with the basic one hand on hip and ankles crossed over pose, and from there build up lots of other poses by continual repositioning. A great way to start off a shoot and get the subject comfortable and following directions.

 
 

Further Reading

The articles below are the hand picked best of what we found on the web about female portrait photography.

It was from these articles that many of our “Portrait Rules” have been either discovered or distilled.

We highly recommend that you read through all of these articles to reinforce and add to the information that we have already presented.

This first article is really good as it has seven fundamental tips for non-models to follow when doing portrait poses.

Seven Fundamental Posing Techniques for Non-Models

This next article shows sketches and real life examples of 15 great modelling poses to use for females.

Fifteen Great Modelling Poses

Digital Photography School has hand drawn digrams with suggested poses and comments about them.

Twenty One Standard Modeling Poses for Females

There is then a Part 2 with 21 more additional hand sketched poses:

Twenty One Additional Modeling Poses for Females

There are some interesting Posing tips in this article whcih is written by female photogapher Dianne Elizabeth.

Dianne Elizabeth Female Portrait Posing Tips

Check out Clay Cook’s Top 10 Female Posing Tips Article.

Clay Cook’s Top 10 Posing Tips

The following web page has an amazing photo gallery of before and after modelling photos.

(Scroll down the page to the gallery of thumbnails and then click on any photo to start the slideshow).

Gallery of Before and After Portrait Images

This next article has seven solid portrait taking tips.

Portrait Posing Tips By Dustin Olsen

Read the following article which has 101 pointers and tips about Portrait Photography.

101 Portrait Photography Tips

The following web page has 25 example female portraits covering a range of different looks and styles.

Twenty Five Example Female Portraits

This next article has 10 tricks women should know about posing for photos.

10 Tricks Women Should Know About Portrait Photos

 
 

Even if you are not a portrait photographer, many of the concepts presented in this article can be used for any photos involving people.

At Photos By Passy we are by no means fully experienced with portrait photography yet, but plan to steadily implement all of the rules in this article and see how this improves our results.

Like and Follow Photos By Passy on Facebook and Instagram.

We are always trying to do things that many photographers are not doing, and constantly trying to make incremental improvements to our photography and share our knowledge with others.

Check out our website “How To” page for many other articles about Photography as well as Photoshop, Camera Raw, Video Making, Adobe Premiere, Sony Cameras, and Lightroom.

Enjoy,
Passy

Using Minolta Prime Lenses

In this article we discuss the great success we have had with using vintage Minolta Prime Lenses on the Sony A99II camera.

(Also included is some limited testing of Minolta Primes on a 1980’s Sony A350 14MP APS-C camera).

Minolta Prime Lenses 01
We have also seen on the web, people using old Minolta Primes on the A7 and A7RII mirrorless cameras, (via LE-A4 adapters), and the results appear to be equally as good as what we have obtained on the Sony A99II.

Note that if viewed on a phone, images in this article might be distorted, (squashed in horizontally, or over streteched vertically). It is best to click on the image to view full size to see it accurately in its true perspective.

 

Lenses for Sony A99II

The Sony A99II is an incredible 42 megapixels full frame camera, and so it needs quality lenses mounted onto it.

In Australia we paid nearly $4000 AUD ($3100 US) for the A99II camera body shortly after it was released.
(We then spent some money taking out a world wide insurance policy on the camera).

Unfortunately this left no money in our budget to spend on Full Frame quality Sony Zeiss lenses.
(Sony Zeiss lenses are great quality but cost thousands of dollars here in Australia).

A good list of modern day lenses suitable for the A99II can be found at the link below.

List of Modern Lenses for the Sony A99II

Minolta Prime Lenses 02

However as mentioned previously many of these lenses are prohibitively expensive for our current part time photography endeavours here at Photos By Passy.

We already owned a Tamron 24-70 F2.8 zoom lens that we had been using on our Sony A55 camera, and so this lens got us started on the A99II. All of our other lenses are APS-C crop frame lenses that are not suitable for the A99II.

One of the best features of the A99II is the enormous 42MP image size, which means separate detailed images can be cropped out and made from original wide angle shots.

However, to do this effectively we need a good starting wide angle image, and therefore a great sharp prime lens to capture this initial shot.

This led us to look at getting a wide angle prime lens, and internet research showed that the Minolta 28mm F2 lens would provide a high quality economic solution.

On eBay we sourced a Mint Quality 28mm F2 lens for $500 AUD ($390 US) from Japan, and this was our first Minolta lens.
The 28mm F2 lens performed brilliantly on the A99II and this resulted in us progressively purchasing several more Minolta lenses.

Here is a cropped portrait made from a wide angle shot taken with the A99II and the Minolta 28MM F2 lens.

Minolta Prime Lenses 03
(Click Image to View Larger Size)

 
 

Sony A99II Cropping

The following example shows the amazing post production cropping capability of the 42 Megapixels on the Sony A99II.

This first image is already cropped moderately, and was captured using the Minolta 28mm F2 Lens.

Minolta Prime Lenses 04
(Click Image to View Larger Size)

The image below is a further Photoshop Crop to produce an image of the Champagne glasses the people are holding in their hands.

Minolta Prime Lenses 05
(Click Image to View Larger Size)

Here is another 42 megapixel cropping example which was shot in low light at a Music Concert.

Minolta Prime Lenses 06
(Click Image to View Larger Size)

There will be plenty more photos that have been taken using retro Minolta Prime Lenses later in this article.
If you cannot wait to see the images, then click on the Collage image below to go to our full Flickr Photo Gallery.

In this gallery, if you click onto an individual image and scroll down, the EXIF data can be viewed to see the Camera, Lens, Aperture, ISO, etc details.

Minolta Pics Collage

 
 

Minolta Lenses

Minolta was for years one of the finest lens making companies in the world.
It is rumored that several classic Minolta lenses were developed jointly with Leica.

Many Minolta lenses have exceptional build quality, with solid steel components rather than plastic.

They also have brilliant sharpness, great bokeh (out-of-focus areas), and gorgeous rich color that is like no other.

However our testing revealed that it’s not all butterflies and rainbows using old Minolta retro lenses from the 1980’s. The screw drive focussing is driven by the camera and the lenses are noisey when focussing and consume camera battery power.

Due to the continual focussing noise, these lenses would not be suitable for shooting video using auto focus. This does not really worry us at all, as we do all of our video work in full manual mode using manual focus and Sony’s excellent Focus Peaking.

Surface coatings on lenses have come a long way since the 1980’s, and the old Minolta lenses are prone to flare and purple discolorations when shooting into the sun.

We also found that when shooting music performances under coloured lights, the lenses can sometimes give a purple and blue colour cast, but this is easily corrected in Lightroom.

The Minolta Maxxum (or Dynax) AF lenses were first introduced in 1985, and these are the ones which are compatible with Sony A-Mount.

The older Minolta Rokkor lenses are not compatible, and require a lens adapter inorder to be used with modern cameras.

Minolta was purchased by Sony in 2006, and several Sony A-Mount lenses still use Minolta designs.

In our article we will be focussing on the Minolta A-mount “Maxxum” lenses, and not the older “Rokkor” lenses.

The following article discusses some of the great Minolta Lenses from the 1980’s.

Best A-Mount Minolta Lenses Article

The above article also has clickable links in the right hand column, where more detailed information about some of the lenses can be obtained.

Wikipedia has a full list of Minolta A-Mount Lenses in a summary table at the following link:

Wikipedia Table of Minolta Lenses

Many items in the table can be clicked on to get additional information for each particular lens.

 
 

Scope of Testing

The Minolta A-mount Prime Lenses we have purchased from Japan and fully tested include the following:

Minolta Prime Lenses Table 07

We also plan to purchase the Minolta 85mm F1.4 at a future date to complete our set of Primes for the Sony A99II. We might also purchase the 20mm F2.8 wide angle Prime lens for landscapes.

As well as the above Prime Lenses, we have also purchased and used several Minolta Zoom Lenses; however this will be the subject of a separate article at a later date.

We have found that it is well worth spending the extra money and buying “Mint”, “Near Mint” or “Excellent+++” rated lenses from Japanese sellers on eBay. You might pay $100 to $200 AUD extra, but the lenses are in immaculate condition, totally clean, and look and function like they were brand new.

In the remainder of this article we will discuss the positive and negative aspects of the three retro Minolta Prime lenses that we have tested.

 
 

Minolta 50mm F1.7 Lens

Minolta Prime Lenses 08

This is an excellent lens for portraits where the border sharpness is not really an issue and it can take nice clear images when stopped down.

There were two Minolta 50mm lenses produced in the 1980s, the 50mm F1.7 (a kit lens sold with Minolta cameras) and the 50mm F1.4.

The Minolta 50mm F1.4 AF lens is said to be a better quality lens, but the eBay prices were around $250 AUD for a mint copy, whereas our 50mm F1.7 only cost $100 AUD. As we are currently on a very tight budget, we went for the 50mm F1.7 lens.

Here is an image taken in low light at a live music performance at F2.8 and ISO 1600 with the 50mm F1.7 lens on the Sony A99II:

Minolta 50mm Prime Lens Mercy Kills 09
(Click Image to View Larger Size)

Here is a street photography portrait done at F3.5 with the 50mm lens mounted on an old Sony A350 camera.
The A350 is an APS-C cropped sensor, and so the effective focal length is actually 1.5 x 50 = 75mm which is nice for portraits.

Minolta 50mm Prime Lens Laptop Lady 10
(Click Image to View Larger Size)

And another Street Portrait done at F2.2 on the A350 camera with nice natural colour and good background blurring.

Minolta 50mm Prime Lens Skater Girls 11
(Click Image to View Larger Size)

Overall the sharpness seems to be sufficient for our needs, and we really like the colour and background blurring.

For the $100 AUD ($80 US) we paid for the lens we are delighted with the results so far.

Future plans are to try the 50mm out do some Street Photography on the A99II and see how it performs for casual portraits at its true 50mm focal length.

There is a detailed review of the Minolta 50mm F1.7 lens by Kurt Munger at the link below.

(Note that the F1.7 that we actually own is the red letters “AF” model, which is one model before the model in Kurt’s Review).

Kurt Munger Review of Minolta 50mm F1.7 Lens

If you have $250 AUD (US $190) to spend on a retro 50mm lens, then you might want to consider buying the F1.4 lens rather than the F1.7 that we have reviewed.

The following article by Ken Rockwell gives a great detailed review of the Minolta 50mm F1.4 lens.

Ken Rockwell review of Minolta 50mm F1.4 Lens

 
 

Minolta 35mm F2 Lens

Minolta 35mm F2 Prime Lens 12

As shown above, there were two models of this lens, the original one with AF written in red on the front of the lens and a metal focus ring, and a later “restyled” one that had a rubber focus ring.

The newer “restyled” version can be identified by its wider rubber focus ring and duller surface finish, and “AF” on the front of the lens written in white.

Both lenses have identical optical designs, but the “restyled” version has better coating on some of the lens glass surfaces to reduce flare and ghosting. The newer version also has a circular aperture installed in place of the old straight bladed design.

We purchased an original (Red AF lens). This was not easy to find and a rather expensive aquisition at $500 AUD, but we are quite happy with the lens.

When it grabs focus it is nice and sharp, but we found that getting a nice sharp shot is about an 85 to 90 percent rate, and sometimes it just does not pull sharp focus.

In comparison, the 28mm F2 always grabs focus and the results are always ultra sharp.

There are also 35mm F1.4 Minolta lenses for sale on eBay, but the prices are outrageously high averaging around $1100 AUD. This price is totally ridiculous for a used lens from the 1980’s.

Eg. A brand new Sigma 35mm F1.4 ART lens(which has an amazing DXOMARK rating of 42) can be purchased for $950 AUD as a modern state of the art brand new lens!

Various reviews on the Internet do rate the $1100 AUD ($840 US) Minolta 35mm F1.4 highly, but there is no way we are going to pay more than the cost of a brand new Sigma lens to obtain one.

 

We tried out our retro (Red AF) 35mm F2 lens on the Sony A99II camera for Street Photography, and we have been very happy with the results.

Here is a casual street portrait done at F4 and ISO 640:

Minolta 35mm F2 Prime Lenss Guy Eats with Dog 13
(Click Image to View Larger Size)

Here is a street scene at F9 and ISO 100:

Minolta 35mm F2 Prime Lens Ferrari 14
(Click Image to View Larger Size)

This is another casual street portrait at F4 and ISO 160:

Minolta 35mm F2 Prime Lens Cattle Dog Guy 15
(Click Image to View Larger Size)

Overall we found that the 35mm F2 lens is not always totally razor sharp, and performs best as a daylight street lens at apertures of F4 and above.

Future plans are to try out the 35mm F2 on the crop frame Sony A350 (which will therefore effectively be 52mm) for some Street Photography and then compare its performance against the Sony F1.8 35mm lens that we already own.

For the $500 AUD ($380 US) we paid on eBay it is a great lens for the A99II, but further down the track we will probably replace it with the Sigma ART F1.4 35mm lens which is around $900 AUD ($690 US) brand new.

There is a detailed review of the Minolta 35mm F2 lens by Ken Rockwell at the following link:

Ken Rockwell 35mm F2 Lens Review

 
 

Minolta 28mm F2 Lens

Minolta 28mm F2 Prime Lens 16

Like the 35mm lens, there was an original (Red AF) model, and then a restyled Rubber Focus Ring Model.

We purchased the original (Red AF) model which has the metal focus ring and the “AF” on the front of the lens painted in red.

The 28mm F2 wide angle lens from Minolta has great reviews on the web and is extremely reliable for sharp focussing. It consistently produces razor sharp images on the Sony A99II.

Minolta Prime Lenses A99II 17

We obtained our lens from Japan on eBay for $350 AUD, ($270 US) and it is the prime lens we are most happy with. It is great as a walk around lens on the A99II for photographing outdoors, but is not so great for Portraits.

If we shoot with the subject in the middle of the lens as a distance full or half body shot, and then crop in Photoshop to make a close up portrait the results are reasonable.

Minolta 28mm F2 Prime Lens Winery Ladies 18
(Click Image to View Larger Size)

However if we shoot closer to the subject initially, (like we would with a 50mm lens), the face gets horizontally distorted and rounded as in the image below.

Minolta 28mm F2 Prime Lens Face Distortion Nic Noo 19
(Click Image to View Larger Size)

But if we shoot the subject vertically, as shown below, then the results are greatly improved with less facial distortion.

Eg. Vertically shot portrait at F4 and ISO 1600

Minolta 28mm F2 Prime Lens Portrait Noo Chocs 20
(Click Image to View Larger Size)

Basically ANY 28mm wide angle lens is not very good for doing portraits. The 28mm viewing width is designed for landscapes and outdoor shots, and not for people pictures.

If we have the 28mm lens on our camera and we need to take a people shot, then it is best to be a fair distance away with the subject centred in the lens. We can then crop in Photoshop to get a portrait type shot.

Overall we have found that for general scenery and interior room shots, the Minolta 28mm F2 is an excellent sharp prime lens with really nice colour.

Eg. Grand Room at Yering Station at F4 and ISO 1600:

Minolta 28mm F2 Prime Lens Yering Room 21
(Click Image to View Larger Size)

Toyota GTS386 at F6.3 and ISO 100:

Minolta 28mm F2 Prime Lens GTS386 22
(Click Image to View Larger Size)

There is a detailed review of the Minolta 28mm F2 lens by Ken Rockwell at the following link:

Ken Rockwell 28mm F2 Lens Review

 
 

Gallery of Images

The following Flickr Gallery is continually being updated with images we have been taking with Minolta lenses on the Sony A99II.

Click on the Collage image below to go to our full Flickr Photo Gallery of Minolta Lens images.

In this gallery, if you click onto an individual image and scroll down, the EXIF data can be viewed to see the Camera, Lens, Aperture, ISO, etc details.

Minolta Pics Collage

 
 

Additional Reading

Article about using Minolta Lenses on Sony A7 series full frame cameras:

Using Minolta Lenses on Sony A7 Series Cameras

For photographers on a budget, or people wanting the beautiful colour and appearance produced by Minolta lenses, the 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, and 85mm Minolta Prime lenses from the 1980’s are an excellent option to have in your kit bag.

These Minolta lenses work equally well on Sony APS-C crop sensor cameras as they do on the full frame Sony A99II and A7 series cameras.

“PBP Photos By Passy” are on Flickr, Facebook and Instagram.

Follow us as we are always trying out plenty of interesting things that many other photographers are not bothering to do.

Enjoy,
Passy

How to Stabilize Video

Often when we film video there is not time or room to setup a tripod or monopod for our camera, and so the resultant footage is often wobbly and shakey.

This can easily be fixed afterwards in Adobe Premiere using the “Warp Stabilizer” effect.

Here is some music video footage that shows how the “Warp Stabilizer” can be applied to obtain stable and steady results.

In this “How To” Lesson we comprehensively show how to use the Warp Stabilizer in Adobe Premiere.

 

Warp Stabilizer Default Settings

The Warp Stabilizer can be found in the Video Effects Menu in Adobe Premiere, inside the “Distort” folder. You simply click on the Warp Stabiliser effect and drag it down onto your video clip in the Timeline, and it starts work on the clip straight away.

BUT …. If you have other active clips on the timeline above the clip you want to stabilise then it will not activate and work. What needs to be done is click on the eye icon for each of these above clips, and turn the eye off while you are stabilising.

After the “Warp Stabilizer” effect is added, analysis of the clip begins immediately in the background. As analysis begins, the first of two banners displays in the Project panel indicating that analysis is occurring. When analysis is complete, the second banner displays a message that stabilization is occurring.

The Warp Stabilizing effect processing when first added runs for a long time, eg. it can take 5 to 7 minutes to stabilise just 1 minute of video.

The default settings for Warp Stabilization are as follows:

How to Warp Stabilize 01
(Click Image to View Full Size)

The stabilization process zooms and crops the footage, and so you need to have some “headroom” above people in a clip, or else it can crop and chop their heads off….which does not look good!

How to Warp Stabilize 02
(Click Image to View Full Size)

The stabilized clip can still end up a bit wonky, as the process zooms in and out on background lights and background straight line geometries, so it is always best to shoot the original clip as steadily as possible (leaving space around people and the edges). Eg. It is best not to fully rely on the warp stabilizer fixing everything later in Adobe Premiere.

Later in this lesson we look in detail at ways to try and remove jelly blobbing from stabilized clips.

 

Warp Parameters – Result

We can set this value to either “Smooth Motion” or “No Motion”.

How to Warp Stabilize 03
(Click Image to View Full Size)

The default value is “Smooth Motion”.

The “No Motion” setting will replicate a Tripod shot.

We can try “No Motion” on a clip that has still objects, (like a close up of somebody standing fairly still singing at a microphone) if we were also filming just standing still and taking the video (and not walking along with the camera), but have some shaking because we had zoomed in a lot.

We have found that for some short clips that using the “No Motion” setting for doing the Stabilisation can produce excellent results, but other times it will go along okay for a while, but then we suddenly get a big jerky jelly blob.

 

Warp Parameters – Method and Smoothness

We can select four different types of “Method” :

“Position”, “Position, Scale, Rotation”, “Perspective” and “Subspace Warp”.

How to Warp Stabilize 04
(Click Image to View Full Size)

“Subspace Warp” is the most intensive, and the others down to “Position” become more and more basic in the corrections that they apply.

The “Perspective” type of stabilization corner-pins the entire frame. If there are not enough areas to track, Warp Stabilizer chooses the previous type (Position, Scale, Rotation). Watch for distortion along the corners when using this method.

Perspective can be used to stabilize in car driving footage as well as bush walking footage. Basically try it out on the clip and see if it works better than the default Subspace warp.

Apart from changing the method, which will trigger Premiere to redo the Stabilization, we can also change the Smoothness. Eg. If we have a wobbly and jelly type effects from Subspace Warp, we can drop the smoothness level down from the default 50% to say 20%, and Premiere will then automatically re-analyse and restabilize the clip.

 

Warp Parameters – Framing

We can set four different “Framing Options”
By default Framing is set to “Stabilize, Crop, and Auto Scale”.

How to Warp Stabilize 05
(Click Image to View Full Size)

If we set Framing to “Stabilize Only”, then we will see a whole lot of black cropping edges of different sizes randomly appearing on the clip, because the Stabilizing it is not zooming in and rescaling to compensate for the cropping. The resulting stabilized clip will be totally unusable, but this can be a way of seeing how much correction work Premiere needs to do on our clip, before going back to the default “Stabilize, Crop, Autoscale” setting.

We can also click on and off the fx icon (located up the top left corner next to “Warp Stabilizer” text) to turn the stabilize on and off. We can play our clip with fx on and off and see the effects of the stabilisation that we have applied.

 

Warp Parameters – Advanced Menu

On this menu we mainly adjust the “Crop Less – Smooth More” percentage and the “Detailed Analysis”.

How to Warp Stabilize 06
(Click Image to View Full Size)

If we lower the CL-SM percentage, then we get less Cropping, which will lower the amount of Stabilizing, or we can increase the Percentage which will do more cropping and zooming and make the clip smoother but can introduce more of the blobby jelly effect, especially on background objects like stage lights in the clip.

Later in this How To lesson we will discuss more about how to adjust all of the Warp Parameters one by one.

In the Advanced Options we can also tick the “Detailed Analysis” option which makes the whole stabilize process run a lot longer, but is supposed to go through all of the frames analysis in much greater detail.

How to Warp Stabilize 07
(Click Image to View Full Size)

We have not had much luck with using “Detailed Analysis” and found that it simply made any blobbly jelly effects become more jerky and worse than they were in the original stabilize.

 

Turn Stabilize On and Off

We can click on and off the fx icon (located up the top left corner next to “Warp Stabilizer” text) to turn the stabilize on and off. We can play our clip with fx on and off and see the effects of the stabilisation that we have applied.

How to Warp Stabilize 08
(Click Image to View Full Size)

If we change any Stabilizer settings, Premiere automatically starts the stabilization process. So we can change and try out different options one after each other. We can press cancel at any time to cancel the stabilizing. Adobe says the we can work on other parts of our Project while Stabilizing is running, but we have found that it is best to let the Stabilize run and not do anything else till it finishes.

 

Length of Video Clip

The warp stabiliser can run for a very long time of you are stabilising a few minutes of video. So make sure that you always cut down the clip to the final length that you want, before stabilising.

 

Stabilize First

Stabilize First, and then apply any effects like brightness, contrast, sharpening, gamma level. Always apply sharpening last. After applying these video effects, there will probably be a red mark on your clip in the timeline, press the enter key to “render” the clip (line will turn green) and then play it to see what it looks like.

 

Export Settings

It is best to check the “Maximum Render Quality” option under both “Sequence Settings” and “Export Settings”.

How to Warp Stabilize 09
(Click Image to View Full Size)

However, Adobe warns that we can only set Maximum Render Quality in Sequence Settings if we have a powerful computer with lots of memory, and so we usually leave it turned off.

We do however have Maximum Render Quality ticked whenever we Export to render out our final clip, even on our low performance laptop.

How to Warp Stabilize 10
(Click Image to View Full Size)

 

Stabilization on Nature Videos

The following is a video we made with a very basic compact camera while on a Bush Walk:

On this Sherbrooke Forest Waterfall video the stabilisation worked wonders, and removed all shakiness and made our video look like it was professionally shot using a tripod.

We did this on the laptop using Adobe premiere CS6, but we imagine everything is the same in Premiere CC.

Settings we used were: (Adobe CS6 chose these for us)

Stabilisation Result: Smooth Motion

Smoothness: 50%

Smoothness Method: Subspace Warp

Borders Framing: Stabilise,Crop,Auto-Scale

Auto-scale Maximum Scale: 150%

Auto-scale Action Safe margin: 0%

Additional Scale: 100%

Advanced Detailed Analysis: Unticked

Advanced Rolling Shutter Ripple: Automatic Reduction

Advanced Crop Less <-> Smooth More: 50%

These settings worked fine on all of our Nature Video shots, and so we did not change any of them.

 

Fixing Jelly Distortion Problems

The big drawback to Warp Stabilizing is the introduction of the jelly effect into the background of video clips.

We have found this can be really bad for video filmed indoors.

The worst problems we have ever had can be seen in the following video.

Eg. Watch the roof beams in the ceiling to see the jelly wobble wavey distortion side effects of stabilizing.

If the stabilized clip has a wobbly jelly look from all the zooming in, cropping, and resizing, that Stabilizing has done, then the following article from http://whoismatt.com/bestwarpstabilizersettings/ recommends to try do the following five “fixit” methods.

By default, Warp Stabilizer chooses “Smooth Motion” – 50%, with a method of “SubSpace Warp.” The video borders framing setting will show “Stabilize, Crop, Auto-scale”. If the clip ends up distorted and looking like wobbling Jelly, then try the following methods to clean it up.

Do the fixes below in the order they are numbered, and stop once you have a fix.

Eg. If method one (Detailed Analysis) does not work, then try method 2 and then the next method in the list below until you are satisfied with your clip.

 

1. Detailed Analysis

1. Click the “Advanced” arrow and check the “Detailed Analysis” box. Have premiere re-analyze the footage (which will take much longer than before), but sometimes this will work as a quick fix.

How to Warp Stabilize 12

If this has not fixed things, then try Method 2.

 

2. Crop Less <-> Smooth More

Click the “Advanced” arrow and adjust the “Crop Less <-> Smooth More” percentage from “50% down to 5%” going in steps of 10.

(Note this option is only available when using “Result = Smooth Motion” and is greyed out for “Result = No Motion”.

Eg. Start by changing it to 40%, click on “ANALYZE” and let it stabilize. Then check the footage to see if it has improved.

How to Warp Stabilize 13
(Click Image to View Full Size)

Each time we lower this percentage the video will become a bit more shaky, but it should progressively contain less jelly wobble in the clip.

It is helpful to use this Method 2 if we have just a slight amount of shakeyness (perhaps due to handholding the camera), and we want to smooth this out.

If this has not worked then try Method 3.

 

3. Reduce Smoothness

Click the “Stabilization” arrow and drop the “Smoothness” right down from 50% to only 5%.

How to Warp Stabilize 14
(Click Image to View Full Size)

This reduces the smoothing that Warp Stabilizer will attempt to apply to the clip.

This will result in a slightly more shakey shot, however clips often do not need much smoothing at all.

Method 3 should cut out a lot of the Distortion and Jelly Wobble effect.

(Remember it is always best to try and get the original shot as steady as possible, even if this means using a cheap lightweight monopod on your DSLR camera while filming the shot.

If this has not worked then try Method 4.

 

4. Rolling Shutter Ripple

Click the “Advanced” arrow and change “Rolling Shutter Ripple” from “Automatic Reduction” to “Enhanced Reduction.”

How to Warp Stabilize 15
(Click Image to View Full Size)

This setting is usually only helpful when dealing with Rolling Shutter introduced by the CMOS sensors used in DSLRS and other popular digital cameras, but it doesn’t hurt to try using it. “Rolling Shutter” is a jelly-like wobbling or blurring stuttering effect in recorded video when the camera is handheld or moves a lot, especially during panning across a scene.

Always try to limit panning if possible and pan as slow as possible when filming video.

If this has not worked then try Method 5.

 

5. Position Method Synthesize Edges

Click the “Stabilization” arrow and change “Method” to “Position.” Then click “Borders” and change “Framing” to “Stabilize, Synthesize Edges.”

How to Warp Stabilize 16
(Click Image to View Full Size)

With this setting, Warp Stabilizer will actually create new edges for your footage from existing pixels. As long as it isn’t being forced to make up too much information it usually does this very well. The tradeoff is that almost always you will have to render your stabilized clips (by pressing the enter key) before viewing them because of the enhanced processor power required. Try using Synthesize Edges while changing the Smoothness percentage. This usually fixes the Jello/distortion in clips when nothing else will.

 

Other Approaches

We can also try these approaches to doing Warp Stabilization.

1. Start with method as “Subspace Warp” at 50% and if there is weird zooming or jelly wobble, then try redoing it at only 10%. If there are still problems, leave it at 10% but switch the method to “Position, Scale, Rotation.

2. Start with the Default settings, and then try up the Smoothness from 50% to 70%. This worked okay on a still object for which the video footage was a little shaky due to zooming in.

3. If we get wobbly resizing that makes writing or objects go Jelly wavey and change size, (that looks like we are filming underwater) we can drop the smoothness down to 20% or even down to 5%.
Even as low as 5% smoothness will still get rid of a lot of shaking, but will not introduce nearly so much warping and wavey size changing distortion of objects.

 

Further Reading and Examples

This first article includes examples of the best settings to use to stabilise in car driving footage as well as drone footage:

Making the Most of Adobe’s Warp Stabilizer

There is another version of the above How To Guide, that includes settings screen shots at this link:

Comprehensive Guide to Warp Stabilizer

Adobe has a written document all about Warp Stabilization at the following link:

Adobe Dcoumentation on Warp Stabilizer

 

Videos About Stabilizing

This is a three minute demo video of the Warp Stabilizer, showing how you may have to also apply cropping.

 

The following three minute video shows the basics of the Warp Stabilizer, and then uses an example clip to apply many diferent combinations of settings and find out which one works best.

 

Here is a great seven minute video about how to shoot your clips with warp stabilization in mind: Tips and Do’s and Do Not’s.

 

This is another great video about how to shoot hand held, mimic slider effects, and then stabilize it all afterwards using Premiere.

 

This video shows the wavey Jello effect and how to fix it using Stablization.

 

Finally we have a 2 minute Adobe TV Video about Warp Stabilization on the following web page.

Adobe TV 2 minute Stabilizing Video

 

So that’s our comprehensive guide to Warp Stabilizing completed.

The most important things to remember are:

– Always film footage as steady as possible, by using a Monopod, or even a Tripod.

– Limit panning shots, but if we have to pan then do it very slowly to avoid rolling shutter stuttering effect

– Use Sony cameras that have inbuilt image stabilisation (and are also totally awesome cameras anyway)!

Enjoy,
Paul at PBP Photos By Passy

How To Film Underwater

In this lesson we look at what is required to get fantastic photos and videos while out on the water and under the water.

Let’s start with a How To Video we have made all about filming Underwater using the sensational Sony X1000V Action Cam.

The video is 15 minutes long but covers virtually everything that needs to be discussed in this comprehensive How To Lesson.

We commence with a couple of minutes of underwater footage we have made, and then proceed to do a full and detailed discussion of equipment, tips, and techniques for underwater filming.

Although this video gives specific details for using Sony Action Cams, most of the tips and techniques are equally applicable to GoPro, SJ5000, or any camera that is used for filming underwater.

 
 

Underwater Focusing

Any Action Cam that is used in the water must have a flat face screen on the front of its waterproof housing to be able to focus underwater.

Go Pro and SJ5000+ cameras already have a flat area on the front of the waterproof cases for their cameras.

But Sony has a rounded sphere on the front to the standard Sony waterproof case. This does not seem to make any sense, as although this might be useful for filming while on a boat, or while in the water filming Surfing, water does not run off the rounded front screen as well as a Flat front screen.

Furthermore a Flat Front Screen can be used to film above water and focuses fine, so the round screen is not needed for any use around a water environment.

With the rounded screen, images are not in focus underwater.

Sony sells a “Dive Door” which is a flat front screen for the case, which you must buy to be able to use their cameras underwater.
Eg. For the X1000V Action Cams that we have used, we had to buy the AKADDX1 Dive Door Flat front screen to fit onto the waterproof case that came with the camera.
This cost $69 Australian.

Film Underwater With Sony Dive Door 01

However the latest Sony X3000V is usually sold with the MPK-UWH1 waterproof housing that has a Flat Screen Dive Door on it.
It seems that the X3000V uses a different waterpoof housing case to the X1000V, as the X1000V is not listed on the Sony site as being compatible with the MPK-UWH1 housing.
The X1000V Action Cam uses the SPKX1 waterproof housing.

Using Sony Dive Door 02

With the flat screen on you can film both above water and underwater, and so you will find yourself not using the rounded front screen at all in most cases.
We did however use the rounded screen for filming while on a sailing boat, as we could easily wipe off any water splashes that got on it with our T-shirt.

For the X1000V, basically we removed the rounded lens screen front from the standard housing and replaced it with the Flat Screen Dive Door, whenever we were going to use it for Underwater filming.

The following one minute video shows how to remove the Round Screen and fit the Flat Screen Dive Door onto the Underwater Housing.

 
 

Sony Action Cam Settings

The videos we have made so far have all been 1080p HD at 50 fps. We have not tried out 4K filming yet.

The three main settings important for underwater filming are:

1) Use the “Color Mode” = NUTRL Natural colour setting rather than the usual Vivid Setting.

Menu Path: SETUP > COLOR > Use Prev Nxt Buttons to select NUTRL and then press the top of camera Record/Enter button.

2) Set the viewing angle at 120 degrees rather than 170 degrees.

Menu Path: SETUP > ANGLE > Use Prev Nxt Buttons to select 120 and then press the top of camera Record/Enter button.

3) Most importantly make sure the “Water” Scene setting is selected on rather than the Normal setting.

Menu Path: SETUP > SCENE > Use Prev Nxt Buttons to select WATER and then press the top of camera Record/Enter button.

 

Using the Sony Settings Menu on the Action Cam X1000V is slightly painful, because we go down through the menus to one setting, then when we push the top record enter button, we are taken out of the Menus back to the very top level every time.

Once you get used to this annoyance is it not too bad, and once a camera is set up for a shoot we don’t usually have to go back in and change values on the fly.

An alternative solution is to use the Sony Play Memories App on a Mobile Phone to adjust all settings by scrolling down a single screen.

The 3:52 to 5:10 section of the following YouTube video gives some explanation of how to use the Action Cam X1000V Menu System and Settings, including showing the Play Memories App:

 
 

Sony Action Cam Manual

Sony Action Cam Online Guide 03

There is a great Online Help Guide for the Sony FDR-X1000V Action Cam at the following link:

Sony Action Cam Online Help Guide

In particular the following section on settings is extremely useful:

Action Cam Settings Details

This Online help guide covers the Sony HDR-AS200V as well as the FDR-X1000V.

 
 

Minor Issues with Dive Door

We encountered three issues: Safe Mode Locking, Cleaning the Dive Door, and Dive Door Condensation.

All three of these are not show stoppers, but you need to be aware of them and know how to deal with them.

When out of the waterproof housing for normal on land filming, the Sony X1000V has a safety lock mode you can flick into safe mode to avoid recording accidentally. This locks the record button in the up position.

However it is essential that the camera is NOT in safe hold anti recording mode before going in the case, because the buttons on top of the case cannot put the camera back into Go Mode.
It is not much fun having to come back out of the water and take the camera out of the case to get the lock mode off!
This seems to be a Sony design flaw as we cannot see how to overcome it or where we are doing anything wrong. Basically there is no recording lock safe mode when using the dive housing.

When you wash the Dive Door out in fresh water after a dive, water gets inside and stuck all around the edges of the Square Dive Door. The water then stays there in tiny clumps and will not evaporate dry. The trick is to flick the dive door vigorously from side to side to move the water to the center where it can dry out. It might take a few repeats to get it all fully dry. Leaving the Dive Door on a table out in the sun certainly helps.

There can also be persistent salt spots that you need to remove after the first drying by repeatedly re-washing the dive door.

It is extremely important to thoroughly soak and wash the Dive Door, the Underwater Case and the Monopod Selfie Stick after using them in Salt Water. We would recommend washing and drying them two or three times before the next dive.

The third and final issue that only happened twice during our entire dive trip was inside the housing case water condensation. This was the trickiest problem where all of a sudden there was lots of condensation inside the dive door. All filmed video comes out very cloudy and blurred if these very small water condensation bubbles are not removed.

What we had to do was very carefully tread water with our flippers at the water surface and hold the Action cam well above the water. Then we carefully unclipped the Dive Door and pointed it at the sun for a minute or two which quickly evaporated away all of the water condensation. We then snapped the dive door back shut on the case and continued our filming.

If we wanted to be a bit more safer, we could return to the boat and do this all safely out of the water.

 
 

Swimming Pool Practice

Sony Monopod Stick 04

We highly recommend that you practice in a swimming pool before trying out your Action Camera out at sea.

Practice both above water and underwater shots, a great shot to practice is the slowly turning around 360 filming shot.

For your amusement here is a one minute Practice Video we made at our Hotel using the Swimming Pool.

 
 

The Selfie Stick

How to Use Sony Monopod 05

It is well worth getting a quality Selfie Stick, that is well made and fully waterproof and will not rust.

The best one to use is the Sony “Action Monopod”, and if you do not believe us then take a look at the following video from 6:15 onwards.

On the Sony Stick, the wrist strap fits well, and it is great having the thick padded rubber handle. The Sony Stick is thick and solid with a standard Tripod screw mount and so other cameras can also be used with it.

One important thing about the stick is that when it extends it is twisted to tighten it into position. Be very careful to just do a small gentle twist, as strong twisting will jam the stick and make it very difficult to undo again.

How to Film Panning with Action Cam 06

Filming Tip: When using the Selfie Stick to film video while moving in a circle, move and pan very slowly to avoid rolling shutter blurring.

 
 

Selfie Stick Angle

How to Film Underwater 07

When we first started filming underwater we held the Monopod stick with the Action Cam on the end of it at a fairly straight angle horizontal to the surface.

However, as shown in the image above, holding the stick straight captures a lot of distorted back reflection from the water surface.

So it is best not to hold the stick horizontal.

How to Film Underwater 08

Instead make sure the Monopod Stick is pointed downwards between 30 and 45 degrees to the water surface.

How to Film Underwater 09

Do not to worry when using a selfie stick about not having your hands available for swimming, as the flippers using stiff leg actions give you plenty of propulsion power, leaving your hands totally free for filming. It is best to look down at 45 degrees because if you tip too far forward water will flow straight down your snorkel.

 
 

How to Snorkel

Snorkeling is very easy if you can already swim and are confident in the water.

If you are not a great swimmer then use a floating pool noodle or a life preserver ring to float around and film with, although the results might not be quite as good as swimming and snorkeling. However your own water safety comes first and should be your greatest consideration.

How to Film Underwater 10

Check out the following seven minute video on How To Snorkel.

Finally don’t touch anything with the camera or your body on a coral reef! Firstly because touching coral can kill the coral, and also do you a serious coral cut injury.

 
 

How to Film Fish

How to Film Fish 11

Fish are easily frightened and often when we encounter them they swim off straight away and out of sight into deeper water.

The best shots have the fish with some coral, and so we need to slowly swim past and then sneak back to where there were lots of fish previously. The fish seem to often come back to where they were within a couple of minutes after we frightened them away. We can float around if the tide is suitable above the reef with our camera going and see what we encounter. The worst thing to do is to swim around quickly all over the place chasing fish.

The following four minute video gives some great tips about how to film fish underwater.

 
 

Water Depth and Tides

How to Film Underwater 12

First of all you need a bright sunny day for filming fish and coral, unless you are scuba diving and have underwater lights.

The tide and currents are very important for both filming and your personal safety.

The ideal is a medium tide where you can safely swim over the top of the reef coral, but also be able to go along the edge of the reef in the deeper water. The most important thing is that you do not want to get stranded on top of coral in shallow water where you might bump and damage the coral or get coral cuts which are very unhealthy for you. We found you can drift gently over coral in very shallow water that is only about 30cm or 1 foot deep but this was by accident and we do not recommend trying it.

In warm salt water you will find that you are naturally very buoyant and floating over the top of the coral will not be a problem. Just relax and gently flip your swim fins with smooth strong strokes using mostly straight legs.

 
 

Coral Cuts and Jelly Fish

As already mentioned don’t touch anything with the camera or your body on a coral reef! Firstly because touching coral can kill the coral, and also do you a serious coral cut injury.

The problem with Coral Cuts is that there are live organisms in the cut and a serious infection can result.

Advice from the Internet is to do the following:

– Clean vigorously (scrub as hard as the pain permits with a toothbrush, and then flush with fresh water as soon as possible after the coral cut.
– If it is stinging then you can rinse it with a form of acetic acid such as vinegar.
– Flush with 1/2 fresh water and 1/2 hydrogen peroxide, and/or treat with Betadine.
– See a Doctor and get Antibiotics.

For more information, check out this article:

How To Treat a Coral Cut

The other hazard that you might encounter snorkeling on the Barrier Reef in Australia is a Jellyfish Sting, especially during Jelly Fish Season.

The best prevention is to wear a light weight “Stinger Suit” that are provided free of charge on most day snorkeling trips.

How to Use a Stinger Suit 13

The suits are made of lightweight loose stretching material, and although they look like a wetsuit they are very comfortable and easy to swim in.

Here is a short two minute video on how to treat Jelly Fish Stings:

As Vinegar is used for treating both Coral Cuts and Jelly Fish Stings it could be very handy to have some with you when going on a snorkelling trip.

 
 

Capturing Still Photos

How to Get Stills from Video 14

We have found that it is far better to capture stills off HD Video, rather than put the Action Cam into camera mode and shoot underwater still shots. The same also applies for any other above water shots from the Action Cam.

The basic method is to simply play the Action Cam HD video on a Laptop Computer and push the Print Screen button to capture a still.

We then take this still into Photoshop, make some basic adjustments, and then save it as a JPG image.

There are often a lot of small dust type particles in the water that all reflect sunlight. This makes images overly bright, as well as making the water slightly cloudy.

Making a few basic Brightness, Contrast, and Saturation adjustments in Photoshop can fix all of these problems.

Check out the following set of Still Images which were all made from Video Print Screen Captures.

Underwater Stills Captured from Video

 
 

Sony Action Cam Videos

Here are some of our videos made with the Sony Action Cam that include underwater footage.

Make sure you click on the HD icon at the bottom right hand corner of the Video Player and watch these in 1080P resolution.

 

This next video contains underwater footage at a remote offshore lagoon, 200km offshore from the Australian Coast.

 

This third and final video was shot both above and below the water entirely on the Sony FDR-X1000V Action Cam.

 
 

Exploring the undersea world is a fantastic experience, and even better when it can be captured so easily and superbly using the Sony Action Cam!

Enjoy,
Passy

How to use Filmora

Filmora is an easy to use but very powerful video editor made by Wondershare.

Recently we purchased and tried out the “Wondershare Filmora” Video editor for a combination Music Video / Photo Slideshow project.

It was so much easier than editing in Adobe Premiere and has some great built in effects. These effects would be extremely time consuming to make in Adobe After Effects, but in Filmora they are incorporated into your video with just a couple of simple clicks.

The output H.264 MP4 HD 1920×1080 Quality was sufficiently crisp and clear. The only issue we had was that our sountrack got slightly out of sync with some singing in the video, even though it was perfectly matched when played in the editor. Perhaps some of the effects we added cause some frames to be altered or removed during the rendering process. Our frame rate of the video footage was 25fps, and we set our project also at 25fps but still had the slight syncing issue in the output.

Here is our final Filmora Video Slideshow (click on Settings and watch at 1080p HD for best results).

In this lesson we fully cover Filmora and how it can be used to make videos and slide shows.

 
 

Filmora Overview

Filmora is an editor similar to Windows Movie Maker, but has much better overlay filters, titles, and transitions than other software.

The screen layout of the editor looks like this:

How to Use Filmora 01
(Click Image to view full size)

Here is a two and a half minute video that gives a quick overview of Filmora.

 
 

Filmora User Guide

How to Use Filmora 02

Filmora comes with a comprehensive Online User Guide that includes witten text, screen shots, and how to videos.

The online User Guide can be accessed at this link:

Filmora Online User Guide

We found the following video to be useful for learning how to get started with Filmora:

The above video shows how to do picture in picture as well as screen recording and titles, filters, and transitions.

Typical of Filmora everything is very simple and easy to do and looks great.

 
 

Filmora for Slide Shows

One of the big reasons that Filmora is great for making Photo Slideshows is because it is so easy to add the “Ken Burns Effect” for custom panning and zooming.

When we right click on our photo or video in the timeline, and choose crop and zoom, we are presented with an easy to use panel.

How to Use Filmora 03
(Click Image to view full size)

Basically just click on the interior “End” crop and then move and shrink it to the position you wish to zoom into. It could not be any easier and makes slide shows look very professional.

It is all clearly explained step by step in the Online User Guide here:

How to Ken Burns Pan and Zoom

To get the best quality slide show result we need to constrain crop our images in Photoshop to be exactly 1920×1080 pixels in size, and then save them as a high quality full JPG.

This means that when we put them into our Filmora timeline they are an exact fit. So on rendering they should not require any potential resizing that could affect their quality.

The 1920×1080 pixels sizing works fine for horizontal 16:9 ratio Landscape images, but what do we do about vertical Portrait images that we want to put into our Slide Show?

For Portrait images we used Photoshop and layers to make our own background with two white rectangles on it that become picture frames when we place portrait images onto them.

Eg. For Portrait images we need to make our own two image slide that is 1920×1080 pixels in size like this one:

How to Use Filmora for Slide Shows
(Click Image to view full size)

 
 

How to Color Grade in Filmora

Colour Grading is more applicable to videos than slide shows and is easily done in Filmora.

Colour Grading includes adjusting Colour, Brightness, Contrast, Colour specific Hue Saturation, and so on.

Filmora makes it very easy by having a series of Preset “LUTS” to choose from which can then be modified to taste. We access the artist paint palette icon above the timeline to get to these. We can also just start making our own colour grading from scratch, and we can save any settings we do as our own permanent presets.

A “LUT” is a “Look Up Table” for color correction, but we can think of it as just a preset effect that gives a certain look to the video clip, such as black and white, vintage old school, summer haze, etc. So if we choose a “LUT” called “Cool Blue” is will make our whole scene look cool and blue tinged like when someone is standing in shaded light.

The following video shows exactly how to do Colour Grading in Filmora.

 
 

Exporting Filmora Video

Filmora offers a vast variety of output formats for our final video product.

As for most video destined for the web, the best output format is H.264 MP4 video in HD at 1080p that is 1920×1080 pixels in size.

Here are the settings that we used to Export our Music Slideshow Video:

How to Use Filmora 04
(Click Image to view full size)

 
 

Putting Images On Top

The following video shows how you can overlay your own clear background PNGs over the top of a slide or video in Filmora.

This next video shows how you can make an on top image move around the screen, like a PowerPoint fly in type title:

 
 

Filmora Effects Packs

How to Use Filmora for Photos

Filmora comes at a cheap purchase price but is a lot more versatile if additional Effects Packs are purchased.

Most of these are reasonably priced at $9.99 each. So far we have purchased the “Retro 80’s” and “Fashion” effects packs.

The following video gives an overview of Filmora Effects Packs:

The Filmora Effects Store is located at the link below:

Filmora Video Effects Store

Something we have not quite figured out is that not all of the available packs seem to be shown on the official Filmora Effects page, and there are two tabs on the page that can be clicked to list effects.

For example, we only found the “Retro 80’s” pack by going to the “Fashion” pack, where the “Retro 80’s” pack then came up as a suggested addition.

Possibly some packs are seasonal, and so something like a Valentines Day pack is perhaps only available around Valentines Day time of the year.

 
 

Filmora You Tube Channel

Filmora has a great YouTube channel that has over 120 videos to help us with everything we need to know about the product.

How to Use Filmora for Making Slide Shows
(Click Image to view full size)

Click the link below to go to the official Filmora YouTube channel:

Filmora YouTube Channel

 
 

Media Resources Channel

Gabrielle Marie has a YouTube Channel called “Editing Hacks” with all sorts of useful things that can be made and done in Pic Monkey and Filmora like this video inside a picture “End Slate” for a project:

Check out her complete YouTube channel here:

Editing Hacks YouTube Channel

 
 

Getting Filmora

Filmora is available for Windows PC, Apple Mac, and Mobile devices.

Software is available as a free trial, but the free trial output videos will have a large watermark across the middle of them.

Filmora can also be purchased with a number of packages on offer including yearly subscription, lifetime copy, lifetime multi user, personal, business, and education.

Find out more at the Filmora Website:

Purchase or Trial Filmora

 
 

Filmora Community

How to make slide shows with Filmora

Joining the community is free and gives access to additional tutorials and information.

These tutorials cover specialised video making and developing You Tube channels.

Coming to the community soon will be the opportunity for people to submit videos to competitions and write blog posts to the community blog.

 
 

Conclusion

We have been loooking for a Slideshow Maker for our still images, particularly for our music photos.

We have found Adobe Premiere and After Effects to be far too complicated for this task, and have been fortunate to get onto Wondershare Filmora.

Filmora is simple to use, has great special effects, and produces quality HD output. Going forward it also has 4K video capacity. It is at a great price point, and people can elect to buy it outright, rather than have to pay an ongoing subscription.

Filmora has great video editing processing as well, and so we can use it for simple movie projects that do not require several layers for multiple camera footage.

Our current plan is to develop a new Product Line for Photos By Passy that involves offering clients Video Slideshows made with Filmora, as well as the usual set of still shots.

Our vision is that this will produce additional online materials for our clients, diversify our product offerings, and set us apart from the competition. Filmora will be with us at every step along this journey.

With its amazing price, and ease of use, we recommend it to all photographers as the go to tool for basic video work and Slide Show presentations.

Click the link below to trial and/or purchase Filmora today:

Purchase or Trial Filmora

Enjoy,
Passy