Pro shows are a great time to catch up on the latest in lighting gear and trends, so we asked Joe Farace, who does lighting equipment tests for us here at Shutterbug (type Joe’s name in the Search box at www.shutterbug.com to see the wide range of gear he’s tested) to roam the floor at the WPPI show to see what’s hot. His report covers new equipment that caught his eye there but, while there’s plenty to read about, this is not intended to be a full report on what’s new in the category. Some of these products will be covered in future issues, with promised updates from Joe. Also, the show was a few months back, so most, if not all the gear, you read about here is available now. Check our web page news for new products and developments, and follow our in-depth lighting test reports that appear regularly in Shutterbug.—Editor
Oct 22, 2013
Published: Sep 01, 2013
Whether you are new to Off-Camera Flash (OCF) or not, you might want to check out one of the most versatile systems on the market for OCF, Rogue FlashBenders, manufactured by ExpoImaging. The Rogue system is based on a pliable flat panel reflector that you bend as needed to modify your light when used in conjunction with speedlights. It is versatile, stores flat in your camera bag, and has a diffusion panel that installs over the modifier to turn it into a portable softbox.
In this test, Joe Farace tackles a higher-end LED light source that he adapted to still photography work. In it you will find technical sidebars outlining how we will test LEDs for the still photographer in the future. We offer this somewhat tech-heavy review as both a close look at this unit and a primer on LED output and LED lighting, which, as Joe states, will become increasing important, and prevalent, in studio and location work for the still shooter.—Editor
Mary and I have fond memories of using early generation Bowens monolights; they were our first really “good” lighting system when we set up our studio in 1982. We loved shooting with those big, black, paint-can-shaped 800B monolights because they were inexpensive, dependable, and powerful. From what I can tell from my tests of their two-light Gemini 400Rx Kit that continues to be the case.
“Look Ma, no cords!” That’s right; the Priolite does not have a power cord. It is run strictly off battery power. Each unit has its own interchangeable and removable battery, plus a built-in receiver to work with a Priolite transmitter. And, unlike most monolights, it has a usable modeling light even on battery power.
Edited by Georg...
Oct 08, 2013
Published: Sep 01, 2013
The RX1 is the first time Sony has combined a compact camera system with a fixed lens system that includes a full-frame sensor that’s nearly the size of classic 35mm film material (35.8x23.9mm). The basic camera concept combines elements of digital compact cameras with features of classic viewfinder cameras, but leaves out an optical or electronic viewfinder. In its stead Sony offers an LCD screen on the back, similar to what you’d find in an entry-level compact camera. The screen is very large (3”) and offers a very high resolution (1.28 million RGB dots). The resulting image preview and the representation of the menu structure is crisp and clear. Sony does offer an optional optical viewfinder, which is mounted on the hot shoe. Just like the camera itself, it is quite expensive. Most users will also be surprised by the battery recharger system of the RX1. It’s equipped with a USB recharger and the user is forced to recharge the battery in the camera. An external recharger and additional batteries are offered as an option.
As I write this controversy is swirling over Adobe Systems abandoning Creative Suite to focus on Creative Cloud. Even if this is solved by the time you read this, there will come a time when you’ll have to face a decision about whether or not to upgrade your software. There are two different schools of thought on software upgrades: one approach suggests that if a program is working, why spend money to upgrade? The reason behind this philosophy is that sometimes upgrades create more problems than they solve. A second viewpoint is to always upgrade to the latest version—no matter what. The thinking is that since change is inevitable that you should upgrade to the newer version to minimize or eliminate future problems. How Adobe has handled Camera Raw over the past few Photoshop upgrades is a testament to that theory. Over the years I’ve changed from an upgrade-regardless person to a more cautious approach. I may prefer to have the latest version of everything being used on a daily basis but now will wait weeks (months, years?) all the while listening to the drumbeat of grumbles from early adopters. That’s why I’m waiting to see what happens with Adobe’s new policy.
Way back in 2006, Innova Art brought out their FibaPrint White Gloss 300 gsm, and while not what I’d call a big brand name here in the US, digital printmaking aficionados who had come from the fiber-paper darkroom tradition took note. Here was an inkjet paper that emulated, and some say matched, the look and feel of traditional bromide silver printing paper. Other surfaces have since been introduced in this line, including the new FibaPrint Warm Cotton Gloss 335gsm that’s the subject of this report. Of course, this is not the only paper that claims the “fine art” pedigree, but due to its weight, its ability to reproduce a wide range of tones with clarity, and its acid- and lignin-free constitution it has all the required specs.
The Phottix Odin is a radio frequency-controlled system, or simply radio remote. The basic package includes two units: a transmitter and a receiver. Additional receivers are optional. You only need one transmitter to sit in the camera’s hot shoe and trigger compatible i-TTL strobes, but you need a receiver for each off-camera flash. And recently, Phottix introduced a new combo pack that includes one additional receiver—perfect for my two-speedlight setups. The unit tested here is for Nikon and I worked with my Nikon SB-900 speedlights.
The Pentax K-50 is, in its basic specifications, identical with the company’s new K-500 model. Both cameras offer a 16MP sensor, a built-in stabilizer system (based on sensor shift technology), all standard exposure modes of a modern SLR system and a very large and bright optical SLR viewfinder. The optical viewfinder offers a 100 percent field of view, which is a very uncommon feature in this SLR class. The only difference between the K-50 and the K-500 is the sealedbody of the K-50. This allows the user to work with the K-50 even under challenging conditions, such as heavy rain.
LEDs may represent the future of studio lighting but a number of the currently available options come with a caveat or two for the new professional or aspiring pro. Some LED solutions are affordable but may be too physically small for efficient use in a studio, or they may be large enough but too expensive for the shooter who just wants to dip their toes into the LED waters. Measuring 14x7.5x2.75” and costing less than $200, Flashpoint’s 500C LED Light appears to be a good solution for the LED newbie who wants to see what all the fuss is about.
Edited by Georg...
Sep 17, 2013
Published: Aug 01, 2013
The Nikon D7100 is the newest of Nikon’s D-SLRs with a DX sensor (APS-C size). This is a new sensor without a low-pass filter, a very unique feature in this class because nearly all compact and SLR cameras use low-pass filter systems to avoid moiré and aliasing effects. The sensor has a resolution of 24MP (6000x4000 pixels). We did our tests with the kit version of the D7100, using the AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, said to be optimized for DX cameras.
Edited by Georg...
Sep 13, 2013
Published: Aug 01, 2013
Every year member magazines from the Technical Image Press Association (TIPA) gather to consider and vote on the top products of the year in 40 categories, ranging from cameras to tripods to software and printers. This year’s selections represent technological sophistication along with features and functionality that make them leaders in their respective categories.
Capture One Pro stands as the Raw converter and digital asset manager of choice among many pro photographers, notably those using Phase One backs. But this software also supports many, many other cameras, with profiles for over 250 models plus a wide range of lenses. Version 7 (V7) has some new features of note, so I checked it out to see if an upgrade from 6 is advisable, and if it might tempt users of Adobe Lightroom/ACR. For this test I ran Capture One Pro 7 on a 27” iMac under OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, with 8GB of RAM.
In this update on new bags and cases, with information gathered by reporter Jack Neubart at the CES/PMA show, we’re seeing even more innovative styles and practical solutions for carrying our gear. Backpacks, sling bags, and messenger bags garnered most of his attention, along with a sampling of hard cases.–Editor