Edited by Georg...
Jan 03, 2014
Published: Nov 01, 2013
The Leica M is a large and robust rangefinder camera with a magnesium-alloy chassis with top and bottom covers cut from brass blocks. All elements are carefully sealed against dust and moisture and overall offers the handling, feel, and touch one has come to associate with Leica M cameras of the past.
This is the third edition of Portrait Professional I have reviewed so I’ll focus this review on three areas of investigation in Version 11: what can it do, how quickly can it do it, and what’s new. I should note that I am reviewing the Studio 64 version that can handle Raw files and utilize 64-bit versions of Windows 7 or Vista. The Standard version works with JPEG files or 24-bit TIFF files; the Studio version can also work with Raw files but is limited to 48-bit color. The program can be used with Windows XP and up and also Intel Mac OS X 10.5 or later. It acts as both a stand-alone product and as a Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Lightroom, and Aperture plug-in.
LG Electronics is the first to offer a new pro-graphics LCD display with LED backlighting. It also has the wide Adobe RGB color width, and will adjust to the lower 80.0 CD/m2 white luminance to provide color-managed printing brightness. The new display is optimized for Microsoft Windows with WQHD 2560x1440 resolution and multitasking windows, “dependent on content, device, interface and/or graphics card,” according to LG. The 27” diagonal size has a base physical resolution of 1920x1080 pixel resolution that may be doubled by the software driver with some PC systems running Windows.
The Vanguard ABEO Pro Kit starts out as a solid carbon-fiber tripod but then adds features and functions like a removable and rotatable (vertical or horizontal) center column, a pistol grip with built-in trigger release with cable attachments for many cameras, bubble levels, 80-degree leg spread, three “feet” supports (pads, spikes, and rubber), a quick-release base plate and mechanism, and etched degree settings on the center column for those who want to do precise panoramas.
The 70-200mm focal length has been the standard tele-zoom choice for many years, offering near normal to a good tele range that suits many practical purposes. Yet, quite a few stock-in-trade 70-200mm lenses had been slow or lost significant aperture as soon as you left the shortest zoom setting, making them a real challenge for handheld, low-light, or even max focal length shooting. Certainly, improvements in sensors and processors in terms of the high ISO/image quality ratio have helped. If you’re too slow on shutter speed with a variable aperture zoom you can always jack up the sensitivity. But that’s not always a great choice and it seems to force you to compromise image quality just to make up for the lens losing “speed” just when you need it most.
The conventional camera strap does the job, but with some gear can put considerable strain on the neck, tempting you to hang your camera from the shoulder, where it may slip off or invite thieves. Like a good backpack, today’s ergonomically designed camera-carrying systems largely relieve that stress and throw in some extras in the bargain. New age straps feature a more comfortable neck/shoulder pad than found on conventional neck straps, so you’ll still be comfortable hours later, and often with a quick-release mechanism to rapidly detach the camera when the need arises. Many are of a sling design aimed at the “quick shooters” among you, and some are so innovative as to almost defy description. A few even let you comfortably and safely carry two cameras at the same time.
Rokinon recently introduced their 16mm T2.2 Cine lens, a wide-angle lens for D-SLR and mirrorless cameras in both APS-C and Micro Four Thirds formats. With its fast maximum aperture, the lens allows for an impressive range of depth of field and with its smooth operating manual focus, it offers high sharpness and clarity. It features de-clicked apertures and follow focus compatibility that is ideal for video. It uses 13 optical elements in 11 groups with two aspherical lenses. Rokinon provides a wide range of mounts for Canon, Canon M, Fujifilm X, Nikon, Pentax, Samsung NX, Sony, Sony E, and Micro Four Thirds cameras.
Shortly after I moved into my former home, there was a knock at the door. Standing in front of me was an 8-year-old girl who lived down the street. “I’m selling note cards,” she told me, “I made the pictures.” A second look showed subjects a kid might shoot but others demonstrated that she was thinking about the photographs before making them. I bought several note cards and asked about her camera, which turned out to be borrowed. With her grandmother’s permission I gave her an old, unused digital point-and-shoot. The girl loved the camera and was inspired to keep making photographs and we talked from time to time about her aspirations. Today she’s a young woman with professional ambitions.
When I first saw the battery-powered Photoflex TritonFlash at a pro show I was impressed as much by its power output and flexibility as its tiny size. Available in a kit that includes one of the company’s light banks along with everything—except a light stand—the setup can get you started making portraits in the studio or on location with nary an electrical outlet in sight.
The Galaxy S4 Zoom is what you might call a “multi-personality” device. Phone, camera, Browser, game device, gateway to all the Android apps, GPS, mapper, email connector--it’s all of that and more.
I say “multiple” because while the initial face of the unit looks like half point and shoot camera/half phone, one pasted atop the other, there is a lot more going on under the hood. That includes all the current connections one could imagine and access to the entire Android set of apps,from camera functions to finding where you can get a decent latte in any city or state or country you might find yourself. One can listen to music; watchvideos; browse the Internet, get email, tap compatible phones (literally) to share content; and send and receive via any social media you could imagine.
Portrait photographers are constantly looking for new lighting gear that will make their lives easier and produce great results. And while flash photography has been the studio standard for many years, it’s always been more difficult to previsualize the final effect since the image you see using the modeling lights is not always the same you see once the flash fires. The instant feedback of digital cameras has lessened that worry some, but you can still be in for some surprises. The new breed of LED lights eliminates most of these concerns with true WYSIWYG lighting, and with that in mind I was eager to check out F&V’s new K4000 LED Studio Panel to see how it could be used in my work.
Edited by Georg...
Nov 22, 2013
Published: Oct 01, 2013
The Nikon 1 J1 was Nikon’s first Compact System Camera (CSC), introduced in 2011/2012. The new J3 has a new image sensor with higher resolution (14MP instead of 10MP) and some additional features. It is still a very compact camera and just about the smallest CSC system now available.
Color calibration is the key to obtaining an accurate reproduction of what you saw when capturing the image, and what is reproduced on screen or paper. It’s long been considered a bit of black magic as to how it is done, what with terms like gamma, color temperatures, luminance, and the like as part of the mix, but the simple fact is that unless you’re working on a calibrated display you don’t quite know whether the greens, blues, or other colors you are seeing are actually what everyone else is going to see, or what you’re getting when you look at the print you’ve made.
Cameras with built-in meters were not rare in the 1960s, but the problem with camera meters before the Topcon RE Super was that the cell took in a different view than that of the lens. Using a standard lens that was mostly okay, but if a wide-angle or telephoto lens were fitted, changing the field of view and the part of the subject needing to be accurately metered, it was a different matter.
Edited by Georg...
Nov 12, 2013
Published: Oct 01, 2013
The Canon M is Canon’s first mirrorless system camera. It uses an APS-C-sized sensor (slightly smaller than APS-C, just like all Canon “APS-C” cameras) with 18MP resolution. The camera doesn’t offer an optical or electronic viewfinder; the photographer has to use the large (3”) LCD screen on the back that offers a remarkably high resolution of 1,040,000 RGB dots. While it offers a very crisp and clear image, an additional viewfinder, for shooting under bright light conditions, would have been welcome. The monitor is “fixed” and does not offer swiveling, or articulation. It is, however, a “touchscreen” type, which is fully integrated into the operational concept of the camera.