Equipment Reviews

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Jack Neubart Posted: Sep 27, 2013 Published: Aug 01, 2013 0 comments
The Phottix Odin is a radio frequency-controlled system, or simply radio remote. The basic package includes two units: a transmitter and a receiver. Additional receivers are optional. You only need one transmitter to sit in the camera’s hot shoe and trigger compatible i-TTL strobes, but you need a receiver for each off-camera flash. And recently, Phottix introduced a new combo pack that includes one additional receiver—perfect for my two-speedlight setups. The unit tested here is for Nikon and I worked with my Nikon SB-900 speedlights.
Jack Neubart Posted: Sep 20, 2012 Published: Aug 01, 2012 1 comments
Slik introduced the first pistol grip over 25 years ago, heralding an innovative adaptation of the ball socket head. Still in production, that head has not changed, but today there are numerous variations on this basic design. Several are fashioned along the lines of a video game joystick. Two other types included here are the collar lock ball head and what I call the “vice grip” head.
George Schaub Posted: Nov 08, 2013 Published: Oct 01, 2013 1 comments
Designed for professionals, enthusiasts, schools, and clubs, the OpticFilm 120 scanner from Plustek ($1999) can handle negative and positive film, including 35mm filmstrips, individual 35mm slides, and medium format film up to 6x12cm format. The scanner contains an eight-element glass lens and can deliver up to 10,600dpi optical resolution, with a claimed 4.01 dynamic range using the supplied SilverFast software’s Multi-Exposure function. The tabletop scanner is about the size of a six-slice restaurant toaster (about 8x14.5x7.5”) and is supplied with a complete set of very well-constructed film holders, an IT8 calibration target, and a full version (not a trial) of SilverFast Ai Studio 8 software.
Jack Neubart Posted: Apr 25, 2014 Published: Mar 01, 2014 1 comments
For the studio photographer on location or shooting environmental portraits, connecting a studio strobe to a battery pack, battery-driven power pack, or pure sine wave inverter frees one of the constraints of plugging into an AC outlet and worrying about tripping circuit breakers or blowing a fuse, and it removes wires that could prove hazardous (combined with wireless syncing of the flash, I might add). And wedding and event photographers who rely on portable strobes that run entirely on external battery power are well familiar with the benefits—power that lasts and keeps pace with the event. There are countless choices, whether you’re just starting out or looking to upgrade or expand your lighting system.
Steve Bedell Posted: Dec 31, 2013 Published: Nov 01, 2013 1 comments
This is the third edition of Portrait Professional I have reviewed so I’ll focus this review on three areas of investigation in Version 11: what can it do, how quickly can it do it, and what’s new. I should note that I am reviewing the Studio 64 version that can handle Raw files and utilize 64-bit versions of Windows 7 or Vista. The Standard version works with JPEG files or 24-bit TIFF files; the Studio version can also work with Raw files but is limited to 48-bit color. The program can be used with Windows XP and up and also Intel Mac OS X 10.5 or later. It acts as both a stand-alone product and as a Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Lightroom, and Aperture plug-in.
Steve Bedell Posted: Oct 11, 2013 Published: Sep 01, 2013 0 comments
“Look Ma, no cords!” That’s right; the Priolite does not have a power cord. It is run strictly off battery power. Each unit has its own interchangeable and removable battery, plus a built-in receiver to work with a Priolite transmitter. And, unlike most monolights, it has a usable modeling light even on battery power.
Steve Bedell Posted: Oct 18, 2012 Published: Sep 01, 2012 2 comments
Recently I had an opportunity to test Profoto’s D1 monolight and their HR Softbox 1.5x3. To check out the combo the company sent along a Profoto D1 Air Kit that includes two D1 monolights, stands, umbrellas, and a case. I did not have the Air Remote to control the units from camera position.
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George Schaub Posted: Jun 27, 2014 Published: May 01, 2014 0 comments
Starting with the 2014 CES trade show, held at the turn of the year, and continuing through press time for this issue, we’ve seen a goodly number of new products come to the fore. All this is only the start—this being a photokina year we’ll see a whole new round of products, including CMOS-sensor medium formats, with prices to match, coming our way. I trust that this report will give you a good sense of what’s here and what’s coming down the pike. So, here are my quick picks of those products that caught my eye, plus a snapshot of some of the trends.
George Schaub Posted: May 20, 2014 Published: Apr 01, 2014 0 comments
Choosing the right paper for your prints is often a matter of surface texture and tone, but there’s more to it than that when printing for exhibition or display. It’s what the paper is made of, and the inks it can handle, that make the difference between a “warrantied” saleable print and one that might be used for quick display or repro. While there are no industry standards for print longevity as of yet, working with papers that could be dubbed “archival” by their very makeup is a good place to start.
Joe Farace Posted: Oct 18, 2013 Published: Sep 01, 2013 0 comments
In this test, Joe Farace tackles a higher-end LED light source that he adapted to still photography work. In it you will find technical sidebars outlining how we will test LEDs for the still photographer in the future. We offer this somewhat tech-heavy review as both a close look at this unit and a primer on LED output and LED lighting, which, as Joe states, will become increasing important, and prevalent, in studio and location work for the still shooter.—Editor
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C.A. Boylan Posted: May 06, 2014 Published: Apr 01, 2014 0 comments
Nikon COOLPIX L830
The COOLPIX L830 is an ergonomically designed high-ratio zoom camera with a 3” high-resolution tilt LCD monitor. It features a 34x optical zoom range plus a 68x Dynamic Fine Zoom (an enhanced type of digital zoom) range and a 16MP backside illuminated (BSI) CMOS sensor. It records Full HD (1080p) video, even in low light, and reduces the danger of camera shake with the aid of the Lens-shift Vibration Reduction (VR) system. The L830 model’s intelligent features include Easy Auto mode and Smart Portrait System as well as 18 Scene modes and a selection of special effects. The model is available in black and red and has a retail price of $299.95.
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C.A. Boylan Posted: Apr 04, 2014 Published: Feb 01, 2014 0 comments
Hoya PROND Neutral Density Filters
Created with still photography and HD-SLR video in mind, the new line of Hoya PROND filters (2 to 6, 6 2/3, 7 2/3, 9, and 10 stops) use ACCU-ND technology to provide a true neutral color balance that does not add any noticeable color cast to your images while effectively reducing the amount of light entering the lens. The filters feature a low-profile one-piece aluminum frame and clear optical glass with a metallic ACCU-ND coating on the front and back. The filter rests securely over the lens, parallel to the sensor, and can also be used with super-wide-angle lenses.
Jack Neubart Posted: Apr 29, 2014 Published: Mar 01, 2014 0 comments
A handheld meter is not just for studio work. Tricky lighting situations, high contrast, and unusual subject tonalities can often pose problems for camera metering systems, as advanced as they are. Beyond that, the camera meter can’t help with studio flash.
The first step toward taking tighter control with a broader range of lighting situations is to use a handheld meter. Enter the new Sekonic LiteMaster Pro L-478DR (PocketWizard version). Out of the box, it measures incident light. This exposure meter will also prove valuable when working with studio (or any manual) flash or a mix of ambient light and flash.
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Joe Farace Posted: Dec 06, 2013 Published: Nov 01, 2013 1 comments
Shortly after I moved into my former home, there was a knock at the door. Standing in front of me was an 8-year-old girl who lived down the street. “I’m selling note cards,” she told me, “I made the pictures.” A second look showed subjects a kid might shoot but others demonstrated that she was thinking about the photographs before making them. I bought several note cards and asked about her camera, which turned out to be borrowed. With her grandmother’s permission I gave her an old, unused digital point-and-shoot. The girl loved the camera and was inspired to keep making photographs and we talked from time to time about her aspirations. Today she’s a young woman with professional ambitions.
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Jack Neubart Posted: Sep 03, 2013 Published: Aug 01, 2013 1 comments
While the Sigma 150mm f/2.8 lens has been out for a good while we decided to take a closer look at one of the most interesting pro-oriented products in their lineup. One of the key selling points in this lens is built-in optical image stabilization (“OS” in Sigma-speak) to aid in achieving camera-shake-free, handheld exposures. Granted, image stabilization in a macro lens is not the be-all and end-all of successful close-ups, though it sure gives added insurance. And because the Sigma 150mm OS macro is optimized for full-frame D-SLRs, it allows for use at the stated focal length with such cameras and provides even greater effective focal length with APS-C-type SLRs.

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