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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Nikon D800E contains a 36MP full-format FX sensor, a resolution normally associated with digital backs. This makes the D800E a competitor with medium format cameras made by Hasselblad or Phase One. The “E” version of this camera is contsructed without a low pass filter, used in many digital cameras to avoid color moiré but that can create a certain softening of image details. To avoid this soft look, many medium format cameras or digital backs do not utilize this filter. In cameras that use the filter, moiré effects are filtered in their raw converter software.
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.”
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...
Jun 13, 2012
Published: May 01, 2012
The Fuji X10 offers a 4x zoom lens with manual zoom control. The zoom lens ring is also used as the On/Off switch. The photographer has to turn the zoom ring to unlock the lens and to start the camera, which we found to be a very handy feature. We also feel that manual zoom control allows for a more precise and fast adjustment of the focal length compared to the servo zooms of some other compact cameras.
The Fujifilm Finepix X100 is designed like a classic viewfinder camera yet it offers state-of-the-art digital technology and some brand new and innovative systems. The Hybrid viewfinder, for example, is an example of a sophisticated enhancement of a classic concept. First of all, there’s a very bright and large optical viewfinder onto which the camera will overlay exposure information (aperture, shutter speed) and a parallax marker. Instead of using an optical system to create these overlay elements, as done in classic viewfinders of analog cameras, it uses a high resolution LCD. This results in detailed information and a very crisp look.
Edited by Georg...
Sep 07, 2012
Published: Aug 01, 2012
The HS30EXR has a surprisingly heavy and massive body and is nearly the size of an entry-level SLR system combined with a superzoom lens. The grip on the right-hand side fits perfectly into the photographer’s hand, while the left hand supports the lens system and is used to change focus and focal length manually with two large lens rings. The focal length ring has a nice rubber coating and is easy to handle, while the focus ring is very thin and is located near the body of the camera, which makes it a bit less easy to handle. Focal length adjustment is done via a mechanical regulation of the lens system, while the focusing ring adjusts via a servo system.
Edited by Georg...
Aug 20, 2013
Published: Jul 01, 2013
The X-E1 is the second mirrorless system camera made by Fujifilm. In contrast to the X-Pro1, it has an electronic viewfinder with ultrahigh resolution (2.3 million RGB dots) instead of the X-Pro1’s hybrid viewfinder (combination of optical viewfinder and electronic viewfinder).
Edited by Georg...
Oct 09, 2012
Published: Sep 01, 2012
The new Fujifilm X-Pro1 has a stylish, retro design with many interesting features. It is Fujifilm’s first compact system camera with Fujifilm’s new lens mount system. Fujifilm currently offers three lenses for the “X mount”: the XF18mm f/2 R, the XF35mm f/1.4 R, and the XF60mm f/2.4 R Macro. We used the 35mm lens for all our test images and the 60mm lens for the portrait test shot.