Equipment Reviews

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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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Joe Farace Posted: Apr 15, 2014 Published: Mar 01, 2014 0 comments
Sigma’s 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM is part of their DC series of lenses designed for APS-C-sized sensors so the imaging circle is matched to the size of the sensor. For this assignment, I used a Canon EOS 60D with a 22.3x14.9mm sensor, producing an equivalent angle of view of a 28-56mm lens. Shooters of Nikon, Pentax, Sigma, and Sony cameras, the other mounts for which the lens is available, will achieve an angle of view equivalent to 27-52mm. Unlike other lens manufacturers, Sigma priced the different mounts the same ($799) so don’t feel you’re going to be paying a premium for your camera choice. Bucking a trend with camera manufacturers’ lenses, the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM includes a lens hood at no extra charge.
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George Schaub Posted: Aug 12, 2013 Published: Jul 01, 2013 5 comments
There’s something about a fixed focal length lens that brings the photographer out in me. It forces me to move in and back from compositions without resorting to a zoom. Yes, there are times when a zoom is most appreciated—especially the fast constant aperture zooms now available—but a prime puts me in a mindset that a zoom has yet to match.
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Steve Bedell Posted: Aug 09, 2012 Published: Jul 01, 2012 1 comments
The Sigma 85mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM lens (average price: $969 on various Internet sites) is designed for full-frame cameras; with an APS-C multiply by your usual factor. At about 25 oz, I’d describe the lens as substantial, but not hefty. One of the reasons for the weight is the build—11 elements in eight groups, including the use of SLD glass, Sigma speak for Special Low Dispersion. The big chunk of glass on the end requires a 77mm filter. As to handling, Sigma has gone from their black “crinkle” finish to a smooth black rubberized finish that feels great to the touch. It’s plastic, not metal, but based on my experience with previous Sigma lenses, I’ve found them to be built to professional standards and can take a lot of abuse.
Edited by George Schaub Posted: Jul 30, 2013 Published: Jun 01, 2013 0 comments

The NEX-6 offers an APS-C-sized CMOS sensor with 16MP resolution, the Sony NEX E-mount system, a large swivel screen on the back, a high-resolution electronic viewfinder, and a Wi-Fi module for wireless data transfer or remote control. This very small system camera uses a large mode dial on the top to set up exposure modes directly instead of using the menu on the screen (unlike other NEX cameras). Directly below this mode dial there is an additional dial to change image parameters. The photographer can use this second dial and the third dial (which encircles the cursor field) to change aperture and shutter speed settings directly, which makes it as comfortable to operate as an SLR system.

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Jack Neubart Posted: May 06, 2013 Published: Apr 01, 2013 3 comments
The difference between a “constant” aperture zoom and other standard zooms is that when you increase the focal length on the standard zoom the maximum aperture narrows. This might make the difference between being able to hand hold or not when zooming in, and may indeed force the use of higher ISOs. Known as “fast” lenses, constant aperture zooms are pricier and bulkier than their variable-aperture counterparts. And to sweeten the pot, we’ve seen more and more fast lenses with built-in image stabilization, which gets you even more low light and steady shot capability.
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George Schaub Posted: Dec 17, 2013 Published: Nov 01, 2013 1 comments
The 70-200mm focal length has been the standard tele-zoom choice for many years, offering near normal to a good tele range that suits many practical purposes. Yet, quite a few stock-in-trade 70-200mm lenses had been slow or lost significant aperture as soon as you left the shortest zoom setting, making them a real challenge for handheld, low-light, or even max focal length shooting. Certainly, improvements in sensors and processors in terms of the high ISO/image quality ratio have helped. If you’re too slow on shutter speed with a variable aperture zoom you can always jack up the sensitivity. But that’s not always a great choice and it seems to force you to compromise image quality just to make up for the lens losing “speed” just when you need it most.
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Jack Neubart Posted: Mar 17, 2014 Published: Feb 01, 2014 1 comments
When my fascination with macro began all my work was done by available light. Getting sharp images at life-size magnification took all the resolve I could muster, especially when dealing with heat and humidity or frigid conditions. It’s tough to hold a camera steady in those situations. What I wouldn’t have given for image stabilization!
Tom Harms Posted: May 27, 2014 Published: Apr 01, 2014 0 comments
As image resolution keeps getting bigger and better, photographers are challenged storing their images. One cost-effective solution that’s gaining in popularity and offers good protection is a Network-Attached Storage (NAS) server. However, they are a relatively unfamiliar option for most photographers who aren’t IT-oriented, so we thought it would be a good idea to get guidance on them from an expert.—Editor
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Jack Neubart Posted: Nov 01, 2013 Published: Oct 01, 2013 0 comments
As billions of images are produced by millions of devices, the demand for bigger capacity storage, faster memory cards, and speedier methods of transferring huge files has become apparent. Cloud storage has become a standard offering among many camera makers; so independent cloud services have grown. Essentially branded server farms, the competition for your data is increasing, as are capacities of desktop backups.
John Wade Posted: Jul 08, 2014 Published: Jun 01, 2014 0 comments

In the days before the 35mm Single Lens Reflex (SLR) rose to prominence, the 35mm viewfinder camera reigned supreme. Unlike the reflex viewing system of the SLR, this camera type used a separate optical viewfinder with a slightly different view to that of the lens. Some featured built-in coupled rangefinders to aid accurate focusing, and many stood at the center of versatile systems of lenses and accessories.

Joe Farace Posted: Apr 10, 2012 Published: Mar 01, 2012 0 comments
“Lighting is really common sense and personal observation. This is applied to a few rules of photography which cannot be broken and to others which I tend to bend a little.”—Paul Beeson

A monolight or monobloc to our European friends is a self-contained studio flash that is typically, but not always, powered by an AC power source and allows for different light modification devices, including reflectors, light banks, or umbrellas. The key phrase in that last sentence is self-contained. To my way of thinking the biggest advantage monolights possess is just that—if you’re shooting on location or for that matter anywhere and the power pack in a pack and head system stops working, so do you. If you have a couple of monolights and one of them fails, you can still shoot.

Steve Sint Posted: Feb 07, 2013 Published: Jan 01, 2013 1 comments
The Nikon D4 is a large sized, 16MP, lightning fast D-SLR, with high-definition video capability good enough to satisfy an independent film producer. At first, my thought was to see how the D4 worked when used for the more mundane subjects I shoot than what it was designed for, and to see how it compared to the APS-C sized cameras I prefer. But, by the time my experience with the camera ended, I had shot a tutorial video with it (www.setshoptutorials.com and then click on “Anatomy of a Still Life”), found its fast framing rate more helpful than I expected, and decided I especially liked Nikon’s D4, an FX camera, when shot in the DX (APS-C) mode. Although the primary difference between the D4 and the D3 is the D4’s increased resolution and its advanced video capability, I found the whole package that represents the D4’s feature set just as important, so let’s look at those.
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Joe Farace Posted: Jul 09, 2013 Published: Jun 01, 2013 1 comments
When creating their mirrorless camera system, Panasonic wisely, I think, chose the Micro Four Thirds format rather than designing an all-new proprietary lens mount. The system includes two dozen or so Lumix lenses, including conversion lenses, along with adapters for Leica R and M mount lenses, Four Thirds digital SLRs, plus the ability to use lenses from Olympus, Sigma, and Tamron. The Micro Four Thirds system is here to stay and the Lumix DMC-G5 seems a perfect way to jump on board.
Joe Farace Posted: Jan 24, 2013 Published: Dec 01, 2012 4 comments
The Pentax K-01 belongs to a class of cameras generally known as “mirrorless”—Pentax calls it a hybrid—that combine large LCD screens with interchangeable lenses and more often than not a retro look. Marc Newson, the Australian industrial designer who crafted the Pentax K-01, works in a style called biomorphism that uses smooth flowing lines, translucency, and an absence of sharp edges. The camera is available in black, white, or Newson’s signature yellow with the designer’s logo on the bottom.

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