Equipment Reviews

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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.
Joe Farace Posted: Oct 04, 2013 Published: Sep 01, 2013 1 comments
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.
George Schaub Posted: Oct 01, 2013 Published: Sep 01, 2013 0 comments
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.
Jack Neubart Posted: Aug 06, 2013 Published: Jul 01, 2013 2 comments

There are a number of new lenses, including those for “full-frame,” Micro Four Thirds, and “mirrorless” compact system cameras debuting this year, listed in alphabetical order. Here’s a sampler, with a sprinkling of filters thrown in for good measure. We’ve shown prices when available at press time—if not, check the websites of the companies for updates.

Jack Neubart Posted: Aug 24, 2012 Published: Jul 01, 2012 2 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.

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.

George Schaub Posted: Aug 15, 2014 0 comments

Being in general a wide to moderate tele-zoom kind of guy, I have found myself occasionally frustrated by lacking a long zoom or tele prime when shooting in the great outdoors. There are some scenes and places that cry out for a longer focal length, and it’s not from laziness but more accessibility that creates the need.

David B. Brooks Posted: Dec 27, 2013 Published: Nov 01, 2013 0 comments
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.
Steve Bedell Posted: Apr 01, 2014 Published: Feb 01, 2014 0 comments
The digital camera revolution has brought about many changes, not the least being the ability to photograph in low-light levels that were only wishful thinking a few years ago. That ability has also spawned significant changes in lighting equipment. In many cases, high-powered flash equipment is no longer needed when you can simply turn the ISO dial on your camera to achieve the desired f/stop. And with small product photography, it makes more sense for many of us to use inexpensive constant light sources rather than high-powered strobe setups. There’s no doubt that the trend to more constant light options in both daylight and tungsten color balance will continue.
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George Schaub Posted: Jul 01, 2007 0 comments

On the following pages we've assembled reports that act as mirrors on the state of the art of photo and imaging gear today. While the reports themselves cover numerous recently introduced products in various categories they also tell us how taking, making, and sharing images has changed. Compare this report to one made in past years and you'll see a radical...

George Schaub Posted: Apr 09, 2012 Published: Mar 01, 2012 3 comments

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.

Stan Trzoniec Posted: Jul 18, 2014 Published: Jun 01, 2014 0 comments

Considering that this opticis only a tad slower than the Nikkor 200-400mm f/4, with a drop of a stop when you zoom out, has a 5x zoom range, is lighter, and costs about half of the near $7000 price tag of the 200-400mm f/4, it is certainly worthy of consideration for those who can appreciate what it has to offer in both range and versatility.

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Edited by George Schaub Posted: Mar 04, 2014 Published: Jan 01, 2014 0 comments
The Nikon Coolpix A is an unusual camera with a very robust, retro design and a body based on a magnesium-alloy chassis. It is extremely compact but has a 16.2MP DX-format sensor (Nikon’s version of the APS-C format). It also incorporates Nikon’s EXPEED 2 image processor system.
Edited by George Schaub Posted: Aug 12, 2014 0 comments

The Nikon D4S is a professional SLR system for sports and action photography. It has a full-frame sensor (36x23.9mm) that Nikon calls the “FX” format. In combination with the new EXPEED 4 image processing system, the new sensor offers an extended ISO speed range: the “native” range is between ISO 100 and 25,600, with an additional high mode equivalent of ISO 409,600 (!). The noise results are impressive in the native ISO range, while images with ISO 102,400 and ISO 204,800 show nearly the same noise artifacts as APS-C cameras in the ISO 12,800 to ISO 25,600 range.

Edited by George Schaub Posted: Jun 10, 2014 Published: May 01, 2014 0 comments

The Nikon D5300 follows the Nikon D5200 and there is an important difference between the two. The D5300 has a new image sensor without a low-pass filter, which contributed to an excellent performance in our resolution tests.
The D5300 uses a display with a 3:2 aspect ratio, which shows the whole sensor image without black borders or frames. Compared to the Nikon D5200, the LCD screen is also larger, at 3.2”, and has a very high resolution of 1.04 million RGB dots. The monitor is fully articulated and makes for very comfortable shooting.

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