Equipment Reviews

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Edited by George Schaub Posted: Feb 28, 2013 1 comments
The Fujifilm XF1 has a compact body with a retro design that is emphasized by the optional black, brown or red artificial leather and the matte metal finish. The camera doesn’t have an on/off switch but is activated by turning the lens ring on the camera front. This then opens the lens cover and extends the lens system.
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George Schaub Posted: Feb 11, 2013 0 comments
Calling a product “state-of-the-art” can be a double-edged sword, one that includes both the leading edge and the bleeding edge. In the case of the Samsung EX2F there’s more of the leading side of the equation, at least when it come to a fun, portable camera that delivers in more ways than one—especially when it comes to connecting you from camera to email, sharing sites, et al.
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George Schaub Posted: Feb 11, 2013 0 comments
Calling a product “state-of-the-art” can be a double-edged sword, one that includes both the leading edge and the bleeding edge. In the case of the Samsung EX2F there’s more of the leading side of the equation, at least when it come to a fun, portable camera that delivers in more ways than one—especially when it comes to connecting you from camera to email, sharing sites, et al.
Steve Sint Posted: Feb 07, 2013 Published: Jan 01, 2013 1 comments
The Nikon D4 is a large sized, 16MP, lightning fast D-SLR, with high-definition video capability good enough to satisfy an independent film producer. At first, my thought was to see how the D4 worked when used for the more mundane subjects I shoot than what it was designed for, and to see how it compared to the APS-C sized cameras I prefer. But, by the time my experience with the camera ended, I had shot a tutorial video with it (www.setshoptutorials.com and then click on “Anatomy of a Still Life”), found its fast framing rate more helpful than I expected, and decided I especially liked Nikon’s D4, an FX camera, when shot in the DX (APS-C) mode. Although the primary difference between the D4 and the D3 is the D4’s increased resolution and its advanced video capability, I found the whole package that represents the D4’s feature set just as important, so let’s look at those.
Jack Neubart Posted: Feb 07, 2013 Published: Jan 01, 2013 1 comments
The Nissin Di622 Mark II offered some notable improvements over the original Di622, but that flash didn’t offer the firepower of the Nissin flagship Di866 Professional. So I was curious and eager to see what the new Di866 Mark II Professional had in store.
George Schaub Posted: Feb 07, 2013 Published: Jan 01, 2013 1 comments
There are those who make prints often, and there are those who make prints occasionally. The split, you might think, is between amateur and pro, but that’s not always the case. Some “amateurs” print as much if not more than some pros, and some pros make their own prints only when they have time, usually for their personal portfolio, but certainly not on every job. That’s why pigeonholing the Epson R3000 in terms of intended audience, amateur or pro, is not so easy. It certainly delivers the quality you might expect from a higher-end Epson model, given its attributes, ink set, fine nozzles, and highly evolved print head, etc., but it’s by no means a volume/production printer, given its single sheet feed for “art” paper, albeit with larger capacity ink carts than some past 13x19” printers, and roll feed capability.
Joe Farace Posted: Jan 24, 2013 Published: Dec 01, 2012 4 comments
The Pentax K-01 belongs to a class of cameras generally known as “mirrorless”—Pentax calls it a hybrid—that combine large LCD screens with interchangeable lenses and more often than not a retro look. Marc Newson, the Australian industrial designer who crafted the Pentax K-01, works in a style called biomorphism that uses smooth flowing lines, translucency, and an absence of sharp edges. The camera is available in black, white, or Newson’s signature yellow with the designer’s logo on the bottom.
Steve Bedell Posted: Jan 14, 2013 Published: Dec 01, 2012 0 comments
We all know what softboxes look like. They’re big, small, square, rectangular, sometimes round or shaped like octagons—we’ve seen them all. But there is nothing quite like the 16x60 Light Bender from Larson. It is long (48”), narrow (12”), and looks like a strip light that someone grabbed by the ends and yanked toward the middle. In this test I’ll take a look at just what this oddly-shaped light can do and why a photographer may consider adding it to his or her arsenal of light modifiers.

The Light Bender was designed by well-known photographer Larry Peters from Ohio and is produced and sold by Larson Enterprises.

After unpacking, I mounted the box to the backplate, a really snug fit, and then added the speed ring that allows me to mount and swivel the box on my light. After assembly, I mounted it on my Paul C. Buff Einstein unit. The light mounts dead center and the “wings” fly out to the side. There is no interior baffle in the design so the light is much stronger in the center and drops off rather dramatically as you move toward the edges.

Joe Farace Posted: Jan 11, 2013 Published: Dec 01, 2012 4 comments
Just when you thought the megapixel wars were over—or at least subsided—along comes the Nikon D800 with a whopping 36.3-megapixel (7360x4912) full-frame CMOS sensor. It’s wrapped up in a pro-quality magnesium alloy body that’s sealed and gasketed for dirt and moisture resistance. That rugged body weighs almost 2 lbs and when attached to the 24-120mm f/4G ED-IF AF-S VR II Nikkor lens (23.6 oz) that I tested, the package tips the scales at 3.46 lbs. It’s big.
Steve Bedell Posted: Oct 18, 2012 Published: Sep 01, 2012 2 comments
Recently I had an opportunity to test Profoto’s D1 monolight and their HR Softbox 1.5x3. To check out the combo the company sent along a Profoto D1 Air Kit that includes two D1 monolights, stands, umbrellas, and a case. I did not have the Air Remote to control the units from camera position.
Jack Neubart Posted: Sep 20, 2012 Published: Aug 01, 2012 1 comments
Slik introduced the first pistol grip over 25 years ago, heralding an innovative adaptation of the ball socket head. Still in production, that head has not changed, but today there are numerous variations on this basic design. Several are fashioned along the lines of a video game joystick. Two other types included here are the collar lock ball head and what I call the “vice grip” head.
Jack Neubart Posted: Aug 24, 2012 Published: Jul 01, 2012 4 comments
You have lots of stuff ready for sale or that needs to be catalogued, such as jewelry, watches, pottery, tableware, glassware, figurines, coins, or maybe even an old camera. So how do you photograph these items quickly and affordably, while making them look their best?

For starters, we often need soft, largely even, and, for the most part, shadowless illumination to bring out all the salient features in the item. While a light tent or other diffusion enclosure can be used, getting lighting ratios just right can prove time-consuming. Using household lighting is often unsatisfactory if you want to make the item sparkle so that it beats out any competitive offerings online, and especially if you want the pictures to reflect an air of professionalism. Besides, color balance is often an issue, made even more difficult when available fluorescent lighting is used. And if you use flash, you’ll need more than one strobe, which becomes a costly and often time-consuming proposition.

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Steve Bedell Posted: Aug 09, 2012 Published: Jul 01, 2012 1 comments
The Sigma 85mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM lens (average price: $969 on various Internet sites) is designed for full-frame cameras; with an APS-C multiply by your usual factor. At about 25 oz, I’d describe the lens as substantial, but not hefty. One of the reasons for the weight is the build—11 elements in eight groups, including the use of SLD glass, Sigma speak for Special Low Dispersion. The big chunk of glass on the end requires a 77mm filter. As to handling, Sigma has gone from their black “crinkle” finish to a smooth black rubberized finish that feels great to the touch. It’s plastic, not metal, but based on my experience with previous Sigma lenses, I’ve found them to be built to professional standards and can take a lot of abuse.
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Stan Trzoniec Posted: Jun 06, 2012 Published: May 01, 2012 1 comments
Out of all the telephoto focal lengths, the 400mm is my favorite, so I looked forward to Canon’s updated 400mm f/2.8L. At about $11,499 list price (slightly less on searched street prices) it’s for those who absolutely need a fast, fixed focal length lens in their still and/or video work, and that’s work that pays well.
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Stan Trzoniec Posted: May 16, 2012 Published: Apr 01, 2012 2 comments
There are two general classifications of lenses that define how you use them in the field—zooms and single focal length, the former being a variable focal length lens that has many convenient advantages, and the latter being a single focal length that, in the group we’re covering here, is what’s known as a “fast” lens. Fast doesn’t mean that it focuses quicker than its zoom cousins, though it might—it usually means that it offers a wide maximum aperture, anywhere from f/1.2 to f/2.8, and that aperture stays put, unlike some zooms where the aperture varies by going narrower as you zoom into longer focal lengths. And to help refine the group we’re covering here we’re also topping out the focal length at 50mm, which makes these lenses prime for street and low-light photography, candid and photojournalism work.

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