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.
The Vanguard ABEO Pro Kit starts out as a solid carbon-fiber tripod but then adds features and functions like a removable and rotatable (vertical or horizontal) center column, a pistol grip with built-in trigger release with cable attachments for many cameras, bubble levels, 80-degree leg spread, three “feet” supports (pads, spikes, and rubber), a quick-release base plate and mechanism, and etched degree settings on the center column for those who want to do precise panoramas.
One such path is onOne Software’s Perfect B&W, nestled within their Perfect Photo Suite or available as a stand-alone or plug-in for Photoshop, Lightroom, and Aperture. The advantage of using it within the Suite is that you also get access to the other excellent modules within that program. The advantage of the stand-alone is that you get an amazing array of controls for a rather incredible price. The Suite, by the way, offers onOne’s Layers, Mask, Effects, Focus, and Resize programs, all highly regarded, making the options virtually endless. For this review I accessed Perfect B&W from within the Suite.
While we cover our fair share of gear we always keep in mind what all that gear is for—producing images that speak to your vision and your desire to express your view of the world. In this issue we do just that by introducing you to a number of photographers who have taken those tools and techniques and created a group of images that focus on an important aspect of their view of the world. Tied in with those projects is a dedication to the craft and its practice, which is what often makes their images unique and noteworthy.
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.
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.
In this issue we dive deep into auxiliary lighting waters with reviews, roundups, and tips on everything from studio to location strobes to on-camera flash to flash modifiers, those items that shape and add subtlety to what might otherwise be nothing more than a large blast of light. As you’ll see, lighting solutions are quite varied, and our task is to provide an overview of some of the latest available products as well as tips on setups and using them, something our tests always emphasize.
There’s a considerable difference between resizing, which means maintaining the same pixel dimensions and adapting to different document sizes at the same print resolution, and resampling, which means building additional pixels from the original file to enable printing larger documents at the same resolution. Say you have a 24MB file, obtained from an 8 megapixel digicam, that will normally fill an 8.5x11” print at 300 dpi when printing. But you just got a 13x19” printer and want to try your luck at that size, still at 300dpi. Well, for that you would need a 62MB file.
Put editors from 28 photo magazines in one room to pick the Top Products of the Year and you’re bound to have some lively discussions. That’s exactly what happened at the TIPA (Technical Image Press Association) meetings in late April this year, the results of which are in this issue. The selection process begins with numerous candidates in 40 different categories, ranging from all sorts of cameras to lighting, bags, software, accessories, and more. Then editors from Europe, Africa, Australia, Canada, Asia, and the US go through the list and finally vote, with the winners chosen by a democratic (majority) process. We’re proud to say that Shutterbug is the sole US magazine in the group and we congratulate those companies, and the people behind the products chosen, on their achievements.
In this issue we take a look at and through lenses and discover some of the work by photographers who use optics in unique and clever ways. It gives us a chance to appreciate how far lens tech has advanced, and some of the wondrous ways they allow us to see the world.
While what work is produced is more interesting than how a lens is produced, there’s no question that the latest developments in lens building have opened up many exciting photo opportunities that had not been available to us in the past. One of the most exciting advances has been in Image Stabilization (IS) technology, now more common than not in new lens offerings. While putting IS (which goes under various and sundry brand names) into a fairly slow lens, like kit lenses that might start at f/3.5 or f/4 maximum aperture, and then quickly drop to perhaps f/5.6 at the tele end of the zoom, is certainly helpful, it gets much more interesting when IS goes into a fast lens, like an f/2 or f/2.8 prime or zoom.