Equipment Reviews

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Jon Canfield Posted: Nov 19, 2013 Published: Oct 01, 2013 0 comments
Color calibration is the key to obtaining an accurate reproduction of what you saw when capturing the image, and what is reproduced on screen or paper. It’s long been considered a bit of black magic as to how it is done, what with terms like gamma, color temperatures, luminance, and the like as part of the mix, but the simple fact is that unless you’re working on a calibrated display you don’t quite know whether the greens, blues, or other colors you are seeing are actually what everyone else is going to see, or what you’re getting when you look at the print you’ve made.
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.
Joe Farace Posted: Dec 03, 2013 Published: Oct 01, 2013 0 comments
When I first saw the battery-powered Photoflex TritonFlash at a pro show I was impressed as much by its power output and flexibility as its tiny size. Available in a kit that includes one of the company’s light banks along with everything—except a light stand—the setup can get you started making portraits in the studio or on location with nary an electrical outlet in sight.
Edited by George Schaub Posted: Nov 22, 2013 Published: Oct 01, 2013 0 comments
The Nikon 1 J1 was Nikon’s first Compact System Camera (CSC), introduced in 2011/2012. The new J3 has a new image sensor with higher resolution (14MP instead of 10MP) and some additional features. It is still a very compact camera and just about the smallest CSC system now available.
Edited by George Schaub Posted: Nov 12, 2013 Published: Oct 01, 2013 1 comments
The Canon M is Canon’s first mirrorless system camera. It uses an APS-C-sized sensor (slightly smaller than APS-C, just like all Canon “APS-C” cameras) with 18MP resolution. The camera doesn’t offer an optical or electronic viewfinder; the photographer has to use the large (3”) LCD screen on the back that offers a remarkably high resolution of 1,040,000 RGB dots. While it offers a very crisp and clear image, an additional viewfinder, for shooting under bright light conditions, would have been welcome. The monitor is “fixed” and does not offer swiveling, or articulation. It is, however, a “touchscreen” type, which is fully integrated into the operational concept of the camera.
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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.
Steve Bedell Posted: Nov 26, 2013 Published: Oct 01, 2013 1 comments
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.
John Wade Posted: Nov 15, 2013 Published: Oct 01, 2013 0 comments
Cameras with built-in meters were not rare in the 1960s, but the problem with camera meters before the Topcon RE Super was that the cell took in a different view than that of the lens. Using a standard lens that was mostly okay, but if a wide-angle or telephoto lens were fitted, changing the field of view and the part of the subject needing to be accurately metered, it was a different matter.
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C.A. Boylan Posted: Nov 05, 2013 Published: Oct 01, 2013 0 comments
The new Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera is compact, lightweight, and easy to hold in your hand. It has an industry standard Super 16 size sensor that is perfect when using Super 16 cine lenses via MFT adapters and the 13 stops of dynamic range look is almost identical to shooting with a pro Super 16 film camera. The Micro Four Thirds lenses are compatible with mount adapters such as PL mounts for large lenses and pro motion picture film rigs.
Edited by George Schaub Posted: Sep 24, 2013 0 comments
The Pentax K-50 is, in its basic specifications, identical with the company’s new K-500 model. Both cameras offer a 16MP sensor, a built-in stabilizer system (based on sensor shift technology), all standard exposure modes of a modern SLR system and a very large and bright optical SLR viewfinder. The optical viewfinder offers a 100 percent field of view, which is a very uncommon feature in this SLR class. The only difference between the K-50 and the K-500 is the sealedbody of the K-50. This allows the user to work with the K-50 even under challenging conditions, such as heavy rain.
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.
Joe Farace Posted: Oct 29, 2013 Published: Sep 01, 2013 1 comments
Pro shows are a great time to catch up on the latest in lighting gear and trends, so we asked Joe Farace, who does lighting equipment tests for us here at Shutterbug (type Joe’s name in the Search box at www.shutterbug.com to see the wide range of gear he’s tested) to roam the floor at the WPPI show to see what’s hot. His report covers new equipment that caught his eye there but, while there’s plenty to read about, this is not intended to be a full report on what’s new in the category. Some of these products will be covered in future issues, with promised updates from Joe. Also, the show was a few months back, so most, if not all the gear, you read about here is available now. Check our web page news for new products and developments, and follow our in-depth lighting test reports that appear regularly in Shutterbug.—Editor
Joe Farace Posted: Oct 15, 2013 Published: Sep 01, 2013 0 comments
Mary and I have fond memories of using early generation Bowens monolights; they were our first really “good” lighting system when we set up our studio in 1982. We loved shooting with those big, black, paint-can-shaped 800B monolights because they were inexpensive, dependable, and powerful. From what I can tell from my tests of their two-light Gemini 400Rx Kit that continues to be the case.
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.
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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