2014 Year in Review

Time sure flies when you’re having a good time. Since 2015 is quickly upon us, all of us at iLHP want to have a brief look back at how far we have come this year. We launched our new format on July 7, 2014. We had a simple mission statement, to consistently bring high quality original content. We wanted to do something different, and that is to not only focus on gear but also focus on the art & craft of photography. You guys responded overwhelmingly.

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Our unique readership has averaged 200% per month growth since July. Almost all of that has been organic, from search engines, reposts, and word of mouth. Thank you for your support. Rest assured, we won’t be resting on our laurels. We have brand new features planned for 2015, from a greater focus on travel, street, and wildlife photography to more exclusive How-To’s and photography contests.

In the meantime, each of us would like to share our favorite iLHP moments of 2014 as well as what we look forward to in 2015.

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A Comprehensive Guide to Camera Lens Design and Zeiss Nomenclature

The German optical systems manufacturer, Carl Zeiss, has had a 168 year legacy in creating some of the world’s best lenses. In 2011, H.H. Nasse wrote a series of technical papers for Carl Zeiss detailing their modern lens history and genealogy. In his three part series, he discussed 5 lens designed that changed the world. They are the Planar, the Tessar, the Biogon, the Distagon, and the Hologon (click on these links to download the original PDF files).

Zeiss Planar 100mm f/2 (left); Zeiss Planar 85mm f/1.4 (center); Zeiss CP.2 25mm f/2.9 Cine Lens (right)

While very detailed and technical, it is a difficult read for your average Joe. That’s why, we have repackaged the information in a more reader friendly format and filled in some holes with our cited research (such as adding the missing Sonnar lens). That being said, I still recommend you read Nasse’s original papers after you read this article. They are filled with interesting tidbits about optics and engineering.

Zeiss Normal and Telephoto Designs

A normal/standard lens means its focal length is about the diagonal length of the image capturing area. For 35mm film and Full Frame cameras, that translates to 24x36mm with a diagonal of 43.3mm. This means, lenses with focal lengths near 43.3mm can be considered normal lenses. We usually consider lenses between 35mm – 60mm as normal lenses.

Planar (1896)
The symmetrical design places the aperture (represented by the vertical line) between the two groups of elements, allowing for wider apertures than other designs. The 8 air-to-glass surfaces, unless effectively coated, reduce contrast and introduce flaring and ghosting.

This legendary Zeiss design trademarked Planar (also known as Biotar or Biometar in E. Germany’s Carl Zeiss Jena) is derived from, and suggests, a “plane/flat” field curvature. Most of the world’s fastest lenses today are derivatives of the Planar design, including:

  1. The $11,000 Leica 50mm f/0.95 Noctilux
  2. The ultramodern Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4
  3. The fastest lens in the world, the Zeiss 50mm f/0.7 Stanley Kubrick used in the movie Barry Lyndon for its candlelit dinner table scene and NASA’s Apollo Program used to photograph the dark side of the moon.

In fact, every 50mm prime ever made by any manufacturer are essentially modified Planar designs.

nikon f2 cutaway
A cutaway of the Nikon F2 film SLR sporting a Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 in classic Planar design.


  1. The symmetrical grouping allows for large aperture designs (f/2 or larger).
  2. A very flat field curvature which leads to sharpness across the entire image plane.
  3. Well controlled chromatic aberrations


  1. More expensive to produce and heavier than Tessar designs
  2. The many air-to-glass surfaces require effective lens coatings to reduce flaring, ghosting, and to improve contrast.
  3. Prone to astigmatisms.

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20 Best 2014 Drone Pictures

This year has been exciting for the new category of drone photography. We were already used to watch videos made by drones, but the quality of the cameras housed by these drones are now excellent.

Drone models like the DJI Phantom 2 and the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 come with a built-in high-definition camera allowing drone fliers to capture astonishing pictures and videos from way up in the sky.

The cameras on these drones can stream a live feed of what they see to your tablet or smartphone. Tapping a button on the device captures a photo or a video.

As you might expect, this has led to several stunning photographs. The website Dronestagram — a new social network dedicated to photographs taken by drones — gathers the best pictures. Here’s iLHP selection for 2014:

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The Winners of our 2014 Holiday Photo Contest

The results are in for our inaugural Holiday Photo Contest. We had a variety of entries this year, with happy families in front of the fireplace and festive ornaments gently hung on a tree, to a saluting soldier laying a Christmas wreath in front of her fallen heroes. Thank you everyone for submitting your photos and voting for the images. You can check out all of the entires on our Facebook page.

We are handing out two awards this time. The People’s Choice Award is awarded to the photo with the most votes on Facebook. The Editors’ Choice Award is awarded to one photo of our choosing. Each winner will receive a full feature on iLHP to showcase and promote his or her photography.

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5 Pet Peeves When Working with Models

We had some great feedback from models about our last article, 5 Tips for Working with Professional Models and we thought we’d do more of the same. Our goal with the Model Q&As and Photographer Q&As has been to improve communication and understanding between these two groups of artists in order to create better images. I’ve listed my five personal pet peeves when working with models during photo shoots and provided advice to models on how to avoid those pitfalls. They’re really common sense tips that sometimes needs to be reiterated.

5. Deleting My Photos, Straight From My Camera


Different photographers will have differing opinions about this, but it seems perfectly fair and good manners to show your model the photos during a shoot. Not every few minutes of course, and always with a disclaimer that the images will look very different after post-processing (I underexpose a lot of my shots in camera). But if you delete my photos from my camera while I have my back turned, that’s just not cool.

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