John Santoro's blog

DSLR vs Mirrorless Cameras - Help With Your Decision

Mmmm. You’ve got your Holiday bills paid off, the spring blooms are happening and, you might be yearning for a new camera. No shame there. We love to make photos and we love the equipment that makes it happen. If you’ve been hearing bits and pieces about mirrorless cameras but need to know more about them before you make the DSLR or mirrorless choice, this is the article for you. It reduces the controversy to categories and makes a call on each one.

Read About DSLR vs. Mirrorless

See Why You Should Use A Fluid Head

We know you shoot landscapes. And, you most likely shoot multiple image panoramas during your excursions. The results created by the ball head sitting on your tripod tend to be problematic when it’s time to stitch them together to create the panorama. Starting with the far-most left or right section of the scene and then continuing with subsequent exposures across the landscape results in cockeyed images that, when stitched cause you to lose a lot of your photo to cropping.

Check Out The New HDR News You Can Use

Big Dogs And Little Kids is just one of the great features we've collected for you in this issue of HDR News You Can Use to help boost your photographic inspiration. Check it out at:

Succeeding In America

Nuurs Ortiz is no stranger to us at Pinnacle. He won the 2014 HDR Contest with an expertly executed sunset image of Florida seaside cliffs. This year Ortiz is an Honorable Mention winner with this perfectly processed architectural image that is part of his day to day work as a professional working in south Florida. His photographs have run in Architecture Digest, Brickell magazine, Christie's International Real Estate magazine and more.

Ortiz immigrated to the U.S. from his native Cuba with few possessions but a boat load of talent and drive. He’s built up his photo business in a few short years and is now working in photography full time. He relies on HDR Expose 3 for its natural results which are critical for succeeding in this area of photography.

Ortiz’s winning image was made with a Nikon D800 and a 17-35 f2.8 lens using manual exposure and white balance. Interestingly he uses neutral density filters in increasing densities to create his bracketed exposures rather than relying on progressive shutter speeds.

Here’s Ortiz talking about this image and his photography:

"As a professional full-time photographer I take photos every day for the Real Estate market. I also do commercial shoots that include retail stores, office buildings, warehouses and also art events where I photograph private parties for many artists.

HDRI techniques are essential on (many) parts of my workflow where the use of flash is forbidden or where the conditions are difficult to properly expose a scene.

This photograph was made on a regular day of work. The only difference is that I arrived a couple of hours earlier to shoot the interior with the afternoon light and waited for the sunset to capture this image of the pool. (My client) was very happy with all of them and when I called it a day and started driving home I was very happy too because I knew it was (a) good day for me.

I used Lee filters and did 9 exposures for every image. I want to get at 0.7 stops assuring that I will get a smooth transition between tonalities and chose HDR Expose to process them knowing that the result will be very close to natural I always recommend my friends this software because, when used well, the results are amazing and very natural looking. I hate cartoonish HDRI photographs, especially when everybody out there think(s) that a great photo has to have that grungy, bluish and dirty look that instantly destroy(s) a good image. The goal in my work is keep the images as clean as possible and the only way I can achieve that when I blend them together is with HDR Expose.”

Check out Ortiz’s website at and check back here for part two of our discussion to find out how he uses those ND filters.

Inside With HDR Contest Winner Stanley Klasz - Part 3

In Parts 1 and 2 of our conversation with 2016 HDR Contest Winner Stanley Klasz we learned about his shooting rig and processing. For equipment, he's a Canon shooter who relies on the 5D Mark IV and he is an avid user of the Promote Control for his long exposures and bracketed exposures. For his HDR work Klasz does his primary processing in Pinnacle HDR Expose 3 and finishes off details in Photoshop.

As an Air Traffic Controller Klasz loves travel and travel is what started him down his photographic path. Here's more from Klasz on travel:

"I’ve travelled extensively which is the primary reason I began my photographic journey. Two places that stand out for me are strikingly different, New Zealand and Iceland. Both offer photographic opportunities around every bend of the road and are perfectly suited for self-travel without the need of a particular itinerary. Which is very valuable in changing weather. Milford Sound (NZ) and the Snaefellsnes Peninsula (IS) are two of the most incredible areas I’ve seen."

"Everyone always forgets their own back yard when dreaming of places to shoot. Thankfully I live in a vast, diverse country (Canada) which I intend to document in the coming years. The Algonquin area in Ontario in the fall is world class and I love to explore it when I can. Both West and East of coasts Canada offer spectacular beauty. I look forward to sharing more imagery with you in 2017."

We wish Klasz good shooting in the coming year. Check back here on the blog where we'll hear from Honorable Mention and previous HDR Contest winner Nuurs Ortiz.

Inside With HDR Contest Winner Stanley Klasz - Part 2

Here’s more of our conversation with 2016 HDR Contest winner Stanley Klasz. An air traffic controller by trade Klasz is predisposed to travel and he makes great use of his opportunities. “I love to travel” he relates. Read on about his equipment.

Klasz packs a very full bag for his shoots. As a Canon guy he uses a Canon 5DmkIV, a Canon 5DmkII and a Canon 5DmkII infrared converted. For lenses he uses a Canon 17-40mm f/4L, a Canon 24mm TS-E f3.5L ii, Canon 24-105 f/4L, Canon 100mm f/2.8L and a Sigma 35mm f/1.4 ART. He also uses Formatt-Hitech filters in increments of 3 to 16 stops along with graduated filtersa nd polarizers.

What’s cool for us here at Pinnacle is Klasz uses the Promote Control for all his long exposure and HDR work. A lot of our customers have told us that the Promote Control makes easy work of multiple, long, bracketed exposures.

Klasz’s winning image was made with his 24m TS-E lens on his 5D Mark II using a Manfrotto 057 tripod with a Really Right Stuff BH-55 ball head.

You can see more of Stanley Klasz’s work at

Check back here for Part 3.

Inside With HDR Contest Winner - Part 1

Do you have an alter life? Stanley Klasz does and in that life he makes remarkable photographs. Klasz is the winner of the 2016 Pinnacle HDR Contest with his elegant image of the shore of Lake Ontario. He’s an Air Traffic Controller who has developed into a skilled and artful photographer on the side (we think he should shoot full time). He’s only been shooting for ten years. We asked Klasz about his shooting style, equipment and the details of his winning image. He had a lot to say.

The winning image which is now the main image on our homepage was made on the shore of Lake Ontario near Grimsby, Ontario. Klasz used an exposure of ten minutes, eight seconds at f8. This was a sunrise shot that contained a high dynamic range that he mitigated with the use of filters and in this particular shot multiple exposures. He compositionally placed the sun just outside of the frame to the camera right.

Processing of the image was accomplished with Pinnacle HDR Expose 3 using two base frames, manual alignment and deghosting and manual settings in the operations tab. Further processing was done in Photoshop CC.

Check back on the blog for more on Klasz’s equipment and travels. In the meantime you can see more of Klasz’s work on his website at

2016 HDR Contest Winner

Congratulations to Stanley Klasz for his fine entry in the 2016 HDR Contest. Check out the blog over the coming days and weeks for information about the winning photograph and how it was created. We'll also be announcing the Honorable Mention winners very soon.

One Week Remaining - HDR Contest!

There's only one week remaining to get your entry into the 2016 Pinnacle HDR Contest. It's easy and it's free! Do it today.

Unlike most photography contests, there is no fee to enter the contest. Hurry. Entries will be accepted until midnight October 30. Check out the contest details HERE.

Here's a nice entry we received from Don Coughlan that preserves highlights and uses HDR well to preserve shadow detail.

Pinnacle will be demonstrating New Video Technology at the Image Sensors Americas conference

Pinnacle Imaging Systems will be demonstrating two Ultra HDR video platforms at the Image Sensors Americas conference in Burlingame, CA Oct. 25th and 26th, showcasing a 120 dB HDR video reference kit and a 90 dB kit demonstrating Pinnacle’s advanced locally adaptive tone mapping block utilizing in-pixel HDR from a Fairchild HWK1910A sensor.

In addition, Pinnacle’s Dr. Igor Vanyushin, VP of R & D will be presenting Methodologies for Increasing Dynamic Range & the Impact on ADAS, Autonomous Driving, Commercial Drones, Intelligent Surveillance and Industrial Application.

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