Equipment Reviews

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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: Apr 11, 2012 105 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.
Joe Farace Posted: Oct 04, 2013 Published: Sep 01, 2013 3 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 1 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.
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Jack Neubart Posted: Aug 06, 2013 Published: Jul 01, 2013 3 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 5 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.

Edited by George Schaub Posted: Jan 03, 2014 Published: Nov 01, 2013 0 comments
The Leica M is a large and robust rangefinder camera with a magnesium-alloy chassis with top and bottom covers cut from brass blocks. All elements are carefully sealed against dust and moisture and overall offers the handling, feel, and touch one has come to associate with Leica M cameras of the past.
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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...

Edited by George Schaub Posted: May 13, 2014 Published: Apr 01, 2014 0 comments
The Nikon 1 AW1 is the first digital compact system camera that can be used for diving or other active sports without an additional protective case. Protected by a stainless steel front cover, all function elements, card slots, and interfaces are protected by sealed covers. While the 1 AW1 can be used with all lenses of the Nikon 1 system, using it underwater and in similar adverse conditions requires the use of special lenses. Nikon offers a standard kit lens with a focal length of 11-27.5mm (29.7-74.25mm, 35mm film equivalent) that is protected by sealing gaskets and therefore can be used underwater. The second underwater lens is the 1 Nikkor AW 10mm f/2.8.
George Schaub Posted: Apr 09, 2012 Published: Mar 01, 2012 7 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.

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