Gitzo turned the tripod world upside down—literally—when the company first introduced the Traveler, a true travel tripod. This lightweight carbon-fiber support was unusual for its inverted, contortionist-like design, where the legs fold back 180 degrees on themselves and the leg tips hug the ball head, making it more compact.
“I started in my father’s darkroom, retouching negatives at 5 years old,” recalls New York City-based photographer Paul Aresu. “My father was a wedding photographer, with 10 studios and maybe 50 photographers working under him.” In his late teens, Aresu was already shooting weddings for his dad. “It grew from there.” He achieved a BFA from New York’s School of Visual Arts and went on to assist Pete Turner and Tom Arma for several years. “I learned a lot about the business from them.”
Erik Almas is truly passionate about his photography and will go to great heights to shoot a picture—literally. He and his camera have gone mountain climbing, skydiving, and flying in microlight aircraft. That said, most of his images are shot on terra firma.
Beyond that, he will spend upward of $10,000 on a personal project to create images he strongly believes in for his portfolio. The project may involve travel with a crew and hired talent and renting gear where needed. He does not believe in limiting himself or his creative vision, and his clients appreciate that.
While I’ve found Nikon’s wireless TTL system to be a great asset, I also understand that it has inherent weaknesses when used around obstacles that block the signal, as well as outdoors beyond a few feet or under sunlight. Enter PocketWizard’s ControlTL (Control The Light) TTL-auto radios for Nikon (originally introduced for Canon). These radios are designed to respond in every respect as a dedicated extension of the Nikon CLS/i-TTL system. And they have the potential to do that, provided you keep on top of firmware updates (www.pocketwizard.com/support). I conducted my tests using my Nikon D300 together with the Nikon SB-900 speedlight (verified by PocketWizard as compatible) and briefly an SB-700 (not confirmed at time of testing).
Slik introduced the first pistol grip over 25 years ago, heralding an innovative adaptation of the ball socket head. Still in production, that head has not changed, but today there are numerous variations on this basic design. Several are fashioned along the lines of a video game joystick. Two other types included here are the collar lock ball head and what I call the “vice grip” head.
Attempting to make the HDR process more user-friendly, the newly updated HDR Expose and Photoshop-dedicated plug-in 32 Float, now both in Version 2, largely share the same features and enhancements. As I see it, the improvements center mainly on workflow—reason enough to upgrade, in my opinion, and reason enough to consider these as serious tools for HDR work. Both are available from Unified Color Technologies.
It wasn’t too long ago when the use of a CMOS chip in a digicam was a sign of a cheapie camera. Well, the tide has changed, with CMOS today reflecting the highest level of capture in our newest digital point-and-shoots. Yes, there continue to be CCD holdouts even in innovative designs, but the writing is on the wall, spelling an eventual fade-out of the Charge-Coupled Device. And today, the Backside Illuminated (BSI, or simply “backlit”) CMOS sensor is slowly but surely moving into center stage—at least among small-sensor point-and-shoots, for improved light reception at the sensor, hence clearer, tonally fuller, and more detailed images. We’re also seeing quite a few long-zoom models and more GPS-enabled cameras, with a digital compass to boot, mostly in travel/outdoors-oriented designs. The “rugged” category continues to grow, as well as features such as sweep panorama mode (just swing around with your finger continually on the button) and touchscreen displays. But perhaps the new feature that stands out most is Wi-Fi capability. One camera is even Android-powered. The latter may not be smartphones, but they certainly appear to be the smart way to go for the wireless generation. With those trends in mind here’s our roundup of the digicam class of 2012. (Please note that this report contains both cameras on the market as of spring 2012 and those announced to be available when this article goes to press. Check with the various manufacturers for current availability.—Editor)
You have lots of stuff ready for sale or that needs to be catalogued, such as jewelry, watches, pottery, tableware, glassware, figurines, coins, or maybe even an old camera. So how do you photograph these items quickly and affordably, while making them look their best?
For starters, we often need soft, largely even, and, for the most part, shadowless illumination to bring out all the salient features in the item. While a light tent or other diffusion enclosure can be used, getting lighting ratios just right can prove time-consuming. Using household lighting is often unsatisfactory if you want to make the item sparkle so that it beats out any competitive offerings online, and especially if you want the pictures to reflect an air of professionalism. Besides, color balance is often an issue, made even more difficult when available fluorescent lighting is used. And if you use flash, you’ll need more than one strobe, which becomes a costly and often time-consuming proposition.
DxO Optics Pro Version 7 is a Raw converter for Mac and Microsoft Windows with some nifty tricks up its sleeve. It offers its own brand of nondestructive image editing, with tonal, exposure, geometric, and optical corrections that make it stand apart from the crowd. As was true of Version 6.6, Optics Pro 7 supports the company’s new FilmPack 3 film emulator plug-in (see sidebar below). We will have a more complete review of the film emulator in a future issue.
Optics Pro Version 7 is a dramatic departure from earlier releases. The Select pane is gone, so you no longer have to deal with tedious Projects (unless you want to). Now you go straight to work after opening a folder. Double-click on an image and that takes you right to the nondestructive editing phase, in Customize. Beyond this point the Mac and Windows versions part ways in one key respect: the Windows version runs faster than the Mac version, which continues to be laborious.
The most recent speed gains have been in SD format cards, making us wonder about the larger CF card. But that concern has been to an extent dispelled by some of the recent developments in this very fast-changing field. One of the newest developments unveiled at the show was a card that sits between those two sizes, the XQD card. The first camera to accept the new memory card is the Nikon D4, although the D4 also features a CF slot.
XQD has a smaller form factor than CF, so they’re not interchangeable. Sony, the company that introduced the world’s first XQD card, notes that you can record up to 100 Raw image frames from continuous shooting mode using the card and obtain 125MB/sec read/write speed when using a PCIe port; new XQD card readers are available as well. The casing around the card is “robust,” with contact pins inside the casing itself, which Nikon says helps eliminate problems in the field.