Equipment Reviews

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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.
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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.
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.
Edited by George Schaub Posted: Aug 23, 2013 Published: Jul 01, 2013 9 comments
The D5200 follows Nikon’s D5100 and offers a new sensor with higher resolution (24MP instead of 16MP in the D5100). The new camera has an APS-C-sized CMOS sensor and uses a fast and reliable AF system with 39 focus sensors, including nine cross-type sensors. The photographer can toggle between different AF modes with nine, 21, or 39 points with dynamic-area mode and use predictive focus tracking for moving subjects.
C.A. Boylan Posted: Aug 09, 2013 Published: Jul 01, 2013 2 comments
Hoodman Custom Finder Kit
Hoodman’s Custom Finder Kit for up to 3.2” viewfinders includes a H32 HoodLoupe with German glass optics, a +/- 3 diopter adjustment, and a 1/4”-20 mount. Designed to fit all D-SLR cameras, the milled black anodized aluminum base plate is made in the U.S.A. (by Custom Brackets) and allows you to mount the HoodLoupe to your camera for video capture and live view. The base plate also features anti-twist bars, two 1/4”-20 tripod mount holes, a hand strap slot, and a camera sling strap attachment point. Hoodman’s Custom Finder Kit has a retail value of $199.99; the base plate may be purchased separately for $99.99.
Edited by George Schaub Posted: Aug 27, 2013 Published: Jul 01, 2013 19 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.

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