“Lighting is really common sense and personal observation. This is applied to a few rules of photography which cannot be broken and to others which I tend to bend a little.”—Paul Beeson
A monolight or monobloc to our European friends is a self-contained studio flash that is typically, but not always, powered by an AC power source and allows for different light modification devices, including reflectors, light banks, or umbrellas. The key phrase in that last sentence is self-contained. To my way of thinking the biggest advantage monolights possess is just that—if you’re shooting on location or for that matter anywhere and the power pack in a pack and head system stops working, so do you. If you have a couple of monolights and one of them fails, you can still shoot.
The diminutive Nikon 1 series of cameras, including the J1 reviewed here and the coming V1, introduces the new CX-format CMOS sensor to the interchangeable lens, mirrorless camera field, which we dub Compact System Cameras. The sensor is smaller than APS-C and Micro Four Thirds sensors, coming in at a 2.7x multiplication factor using standard 35mm focal length designations. The 10.1-megapixel sensor has a native speed of ISO 100, with speeds up to 3200, and 6400 with a 1 EV push.
The new Canon PIXMA PRO-1 is a 13x19” pigment-ink printer that makes fine quality prints in a price range that could be considered quite fair for what you get ($999). Aimed at avid photographers and enthusiast printmakers, as well as pros choosing to do their own mid-size prints, the PIXMA PRO-1 fills a void left by HP’s abandonment of the category and directly challenges Epson. The printer offers ease of use, solid performance, 12 ink cartridges, and all in all seems to improve upon 13” printers of the past. Our tests were aimed at determining if the PIXMA PRO-1 could be a solid contender in its class and if there were upgrades or new workflow techniques that would differentiate it from the competition.
The new Canon 5D Mark III has a large and handy grip on the right side. The body is a lot smaller than the new EOS-1D X because the 5D Mark III doesn’t use a “motor winder like” bottom for the rechargeable battery and therefore doesn’t offer a second shutter release button and setup dial, convenient for vertical shots. An additional battery grip is offered as an option, however.
The Canon EOS-1D X is a professional camera system that could be considered ideal for sports photography and photojournalism. It offers extremely high speed and is fully customizable to fit the needs of every photographer. It has a massive and robust body, with many functional elements available in a type of “dual version control” that allows for comfortable shooting in landscape or portrait orientation. Small joysticks and a lot of setup dials will help users navigate through the very comprehensive menus and to set up all parameters in a fast and intuitive manner.
Increasingly, manufacturers are coming out with cameras and speedlights that support wireless TTL flash operation. What this means for you is a simplified approach to using dedicated flash units off camera—especially multiple speedlights, alone or mixed with other light sources. With wireless TTL you’re free to move the off-camera flash a few inches or a few feet here or there, not to mention modifying the light in any desired fashion, and all without having to recalculate exposures, use a flash meter, and link everything together with wires. The camera’s metering system does the math for you. Beyond that, wireless TTL assures you that all speedlights on and off camera will fire in sync.
The Einstein monobloc strobe is listed at 640 watt seconds (ws) of power, has a bright 250-watt modeling light that can vary proportionally with the flash output, a 12 flash per second (fps) claimed capability, and a constant 5600˚K color temperature, no matter what the power level. Also, a claimed nine f/stop range, from 2.5 to 640 ws, and Paul C. Buff’s proprietary IGBT technology fill out the bill. It’s solidly built, using a Lexan housing instead of metal. It’s not very big, but is bigger and about a pound heavier than the company’s AlienBees units that many photographers, including myself, use.
I was quite impressed with Nissin’s initial lineup of shoe-mount strobes. The Di866 Professional (now the Di866 Mark II) is quite innovative and versatile in its own right, sporting a full-color menu interface, while providing TTL wireless operation. There’s also the Di466 (for Nikon, Canon, and Four Thirds cameras). And the Di622 has been updated to the largely revamped Di622 Mark II, now the subject of this review.
The Leica X1 ($1,995) is a fixed focal length, non-interchangeable lens compact with a fast f/2.8 lens and 12.9MP CMOS APS-C sensor. Introduced over a year ago in silver and recently in black, it keeps apace with firmware upgrades, the most recent of which is claimed improvement of JPEG quality and enhanced AF speed in low light.
On-board image processors have become more powerful and diverse in their functions, and cameras like the Ricoh GR Digital IV ($649) offer more than just point and shoot still and video recording. Indeed, the Ricoh seems designed to appeal to those who would rather have their special effects in hand than take the time to apply them later. But the camera offers more than just tricks, though there are plenty of those, and its portability, ease of use and flexibility might appeal to those who want to go beyond cell phone snapshots and effects. Its fast, fixed focus lens, aperture- and shutter-priority exposure modes and a host of Scene modes that go beyond the norm make it a fascinating study in the state of photography today.
The new Nikon P7100 offers many function buttons and dials along with a large mode dial on the top to choose standard exposure modes like P, S, A and M. The camera offers a full automatic mode, scene modes and special effect modes (like B&W, sepia tone effect, “High Key” effect and more). In addition, the P7100 offers three user modes that can be saved as U1-U3 and accessed directly on the mode dial.
The Olympus E-P3 is the follower of the E-P2 and E-P1, the first Olympus Micro Four Thirds cameras that were offered as “retro style cameras”. The E-P3 offers the same image sensor as the E-P2, with a nominal resolution of 12MP, but the E-P3 uses a newly developed image processor unit called “TruePic VI” plus offers some enhancements in the AF-speed. The automatic focusing system is really fast and showed a very good performance during our tests. In addition it has some special modes like “AF tracking mode”, which will help both photographers and videographers.
This is a test report on the new Panasonic FZ48 integral lens camera. The camera looks like a compact SLR. It has a big grip on the right hand side of the body, which allows for comfortable handling for shooting, important for a long-range zoom such as this.
The SD1 is Sigma’s new flagship SLR system. It uses a brand new sensor with Foveon technology and a nominal resolution of 14.8 MP. This means that the camera is able to record RGB information for every single pixel. Standard digital cameras use sensors with the “classic” Bayer pattern, which means that every single pixel detects only one color information (red, green or blue) and then must undergo color interpolation.
The annual meeting of the Technical Image Press Association (TIPA) to vote for the best photographic and imaging products in 2011 was held on April 9, 2011 in Istanbul, Turkey. This year at the TIPA General Assembly 29 member magazines voted for the best product in each category. TIPA has member magazines from nine European countries and Australia, Canada, China, the U.S.A., and South Africa, plus has an affiliation with the CJPC of Japan. The General Assembly selected the best photo and imaging products of 2011 in 40 categories. In the past 21 years the association has given over 430 awards for products from over 70 companies from 15 countries. Shutterbug, the sole US magazine in the association, was represented at the meetings by Editorial Director George Schaub.