Equipment Reviews

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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.

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Jack Neubart Posted: May 23, 2014 Published: Apr 01, 2014 1 comments
I’ve had to replace a failing computer hard drive more often than I’d care to remember. Fortunately, I’ve learned my lesson: my workstation now includes external drives as both backup and primary storage. I routinely move content from the computer onto one external drive and back up to a second drive. (I usually prefer to transfer memory card files first to the computer, so that my backups will include these; then I move those files to the external drive when a project is completed, making sure that they are synced to Lightroom.) Unfortunately, the cost of all this may amount to the price of a second camera body or new lens, but it’s money well spent, as you’ll realize the first time a drive goes down.
Steve Bedell Posted: Nov 26, 2013 Published: Oct 01, 2013 1 comments

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.

Stan Trzoniec Posted: May 16, 2012 Published: Apr 01, 2012 1 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.

Joe Farace Posted: Jan 11, 2013 Published: Dec 01, 2012 3 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.

Jack Neubart Posted: May 30, 2014 Published: May 01, 2014 0 comments

DxO Optics Pro is a Raw converter that keeps pace with the ever-growing, ever-changing world of digital photography. The newest version—DxO Optics Pro 9 (for Mac or Windows)—focuses on one of digital imaging’s most troubling artifacts: digital noise. Whether you’re shooting at high ISOs or bringing out blocked shadow detail in a seriously underexposed image or an HDR photo, digital noise (luminance and chrominance) can rear its ugly head. And now we can finally deliver a knockout punch to this culprit. But before you get in the ring, there are a few things you should know.

Joe Farace Posted: Jun 25, 2013 Published: May 01, 2013 0 comments
While it may not be nice to fool Mother Nature, photographers have been doing just that since Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths photographed the “Cottingley Fairies” in 1917, but a lot has changed since then and we’re now more skeptical of images that appear “shopped.” (Portrait photographers engaged in retouching even before Mathew Brady opened his New York studio in 1844.) To me, part of the fun of photography is enhancing reality, creating images that could be true or might be true in a parallel Fringe-like universe. That’s one of the reasons I like shooting digital infrared images because photography, for me, is all about having fun and if you happen to play a harmless—emphasis on harmless—photographic April Fool’s prank on someone, let’s hope it’s accepted in the spirit of the day.
Joe Farace Posted: Feb 04, 2014 Published: Dec 01, 2013 0 comments

Lester A. Dine invented the ringlight for making dental photos in 1952 but today people use them for all kinds of photography. A ringlight is a circular light source that surrounds the optical axis of a lens causing light to hit the subject from different angles, producing soft shadows in much the same manner as a light bank. When photographing people, the unique way that a ring flash renders light also produces a shadowy halo around the subject that’s much beloved by fashion photographers. I use a small ring flash to photograph butterflies, but if you want to photograph people, to paraphrase Jaws Chief Brody, “You’re gonna need a bigger light.”

Joe Farace Posted: Sep 20, 2013 Published: Aug 01, 2013 0 comments

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.

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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.
Steve Bedell Posted: Feb 04, 2014 Published: Dec 01, 2013 0 comments

GamiLight has been in the business of making light-shaping accessories for small, dedicated flash units like the ones from Nikon, Canon, Metz, etc., and has recently broadened their lineup. I had heard about their products and thought I’d give them a try, so they responded by sending me just about every modifier they make. I received their Square 43 with the Soft Plus 43 adapter, the Box 60, the Spot 2, the Event Pro, and a few mounts. As we go through this review I’ll let you know what these are all about, but my tests were aimed at determining how effectively the units work, how well they are made, how convenient they prove out in the field, and, most importantly, whether I should consider buying them to solve some of my lighting issues.

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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.
George Schaub Posted: Apr 11, 2012 71 comments

The new super wide angle Distagon T* f/2.8 15mm lens for Canon and Nikon mounts is neither lightweight nor inexpensive (1.6 lb for Nikon, 1.8 lb for Canon mount, $2950) but what you get from this manual focus lens is exceptional image quality and facility that is perhaps unmatched by any other lens in its focal length class. With a 95mm filter thread and integral and fully compatible lens shade, the lens offers an extraordinary 110-degree angle of view that is pleasure to work with on a wide variety of subjects. The fast f/2.8 aperture is matched on the narrow end by a minimum aperture of f/22, which at 15mm means there’s potential for extraordinary depth of field effects using the 10-inch closest focusing range. While decidedly not a portrait lens, the 15mm is ideal for landscape, street photography and creative advertising work, as well as architectural and urban photography, as I discovered in mybrief time working with it.

George Schaub Posted: Mar 21, 2014 Published: Feb 01, 2014 0 comments

In olden times there was paper for printing color and for printing black and white. Structure, emulsions, and processing chemistry all determined how you matched media and paper, and it was all pretty self-evident. Surface choices were wider for black-and-white printmakers and while there were some choices for color (gloss, matte, semigloss) much of the surface treatment for color prints was added with sprays and varnish. Of course that’s all changed, and the “rules” regarding media and paper matching have been tossed.

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