Equipment Reviews

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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.
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
Edited by George Schaub Posted: Oct 08, 2013 Published: Sep 01, 2013 0 comments
The RX1 is the first time Sony has combined a compact camera system with a fixed lens system that includes a full-frame sensor that’s nearly the size of classic 35mm film material (35.8x23.9mm). The basic camera concept combines elements of digital compact cameras with features of classic viewfinder cameras, but leaves out an optical or electronic viewfinder. In its stead Sony offers an LCD screen on the back, similar to what you’d find in an entry-level compact camera. The screen is very large (3”) and offers a very high resolution (1.28 million RGB dots). The resulting image preview and the representation of the menu structure is crisp and clear. Sony does offer an optional optical viewfinder, which is mounted on the hot shoe. Just like the camera itself, it is quite expensive. Most users will also be surprised by the battery recharger system of the RX1. It’s equipped with a USB recharger and the user is forced to recharge the battery in the camera. An external recharger and additional batteries are offered as an option.
Jack Neubart Posted: Sep 06, 2013 Published: Aug 01, 2013 0 comments
In this update on new bags and cases, with information gathered by reporter Jack Neubart at the CES/PMA show, we’re seeing even more innovative styles and practical solutions for carrying our gear. Backpacks, sling bags, and messenger bags garnered most of his attention, along with a sampling of hard cases.–Editor
Joe Farace Posted: Sep 20, 2013 Published: Aug 01, 2013 1 comments
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.
Jack Neubart Posted: Sep 10, 2013 Published: Aug 01, 2013 5 comments
Capture One Pro stands as the Raw converter and digital asset manager of choice among many pro photographers, notably those using Phase One backs. But this software also supports many, many other cameras, with profiles for over 250 models plus a wide range of lenses. Version 7 (V7) has some new features of note, so I checked it out to see if an upgrade from 6 is advisable, and if it might tempt users of Adobe Lightroom/ACR. For this test I ran Capture One Pro 7 on a 27” iMac under OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, with 8GB of RAM.
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Edited by George Schaub Posted: Sep 13, 2013 Published: Aug 01, 2013 0 comments
Every year member magazines from the Technical Image Press Association (TIPA) gather to consider and vote on the top products of the year in 40 categories, ranging from cameras to tripods to software and printers. This year’s selections represent technological sophistication along with features and functionality that make them leaders in their respective categories.
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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.
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.
Edited by George Schaub Posted: Sep 17, 2013 Published: Aug 01, 2013 3 comments
The Nikon D7100 is the newest of Nikon’s D-SLRs with a DX sensor (APS-C size). This is a new sensor without a low-pass filter, a very unique feature in this class because nearly all compact and SLR cameras use low-pass filter systems to avoid moiré and aliasing effects. The sensor has a resolution of 24MP (6000x4000 pixels). We did our tests with the kit version of the D7100, using the AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, said to be optimized for DX cameras.
Edited by George Schaub Posted: Aug 27, 2013 Published: Jul 01, 2013 38 comments
The Panasonic GH3 has a brand-new body based on a magnesium-alloy chassis. This Micro Four Thirds camera is bigger than its forerunner and has nearly the same dimensions as a small APS-C SLR system; in fact, it is even bigger than the Nikon D3200. The body is very robust and has numerous functional elements for comfortable handling, including up to five user-defined Fn buttons. Large mode and parameter dials allow for fast setup of all parameters such as shutter speed and aperture settings.
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George Schaub Posted: Aug 12, 2013 Published: Jul 01, 2013 1 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.
Jack Neubart Posted: Aug 30, 2013 Published: Jul 01, 2013 0 comments
The Nissin MF18 fully supports Nikon’s i-TTL autoexposure as well as Canon’s E-TTL system. I tested with the Nikon 60mm Micro, but also had success with a zoom, namely the Tamron 70-300mm with a Marumi DHG Achromat Macro (plus-diopter) lens attached, both on my Nikon D300. Much of my close-up work with the MF18 involved Manual shooting mode set on the camera for tighter exposure control, and manual focus.
Edited by George Schaub Posted: Aug 20, 2013 Published: Jul 01, 2013 54 comments
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).
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Jack Neubart Posted: Aug 06, 2013 Published: Jul 01, 2013 7 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.

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