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.
This month’s issue delves into the art and craft of outdoor and nature photography, as well as covers some of the kit that could help you on your way. And given that we are heading into the colder seasons, we thought it would be apt to include a sled full of articles on dealing with working and traveling in the cooler regions. We also have some gear reviews and roundups that are apt, including Jack Neubart’s look at custom straps and harnesses that allow for hands-free and freely accessible carrying solutions. And to top it off, we are very happy to offer an excerpt from Art Wolfe’s latest book, The New Art of Photographing Nature. It always pleases us to have a master on board.
The Galaxy S4 Zoom is what you might call a “multi-personality” device. Phone, camera, Browser, game device, gateway to all the Android apps, GPS, mapper, email connector--it’s all of that and more.
I say “multiple” because while the initial face of the unit looks like half point and shoot camera/half phone, one pasted atop the other, there is a lot more going on under the hood. That includes all the current connections one could imagine and access to the entire Android set of apps,from camera functions to finding where you can get a decent latte in any city or state or country you might find yourself. One can listen to music; watchvideos; browse the Internet, get email, tap compatible phones (literally) to share content; and send and receive via any social media you could imagine.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.