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Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss 55mm f1.4 Otus product photos (5 of 5)ISO 4001-40 sec at f - 2.8

“Do whatever you need to,” was the response given to me by the other editors of the Phoblographer when asking about budget for the review of the Zeiss 55mm f1.4 Otus lens. When we were calling it for review, it was also decided that I’d handle it–afterall, this is probably the single most important lens that anyone has created this year (with Sigma’s 18-35mm f1.8 being a close contender.) Then you add in the fact that we only had this lens for 10 days (we usually test a lens for an entire month before publishing a review) and you’ve got one of the most challenging reviews that we’ve ever done.

When Zeiss created this lens, they decided that it shouldn’t have a single compromise on the image quality. It was also designed for high megapixel DSLRs. The image quality is reflected in the price tag–which is just under $4,000. Indeed, it isn’t a lens that we believe everyone will go out and buy.

And while our thoughts on the lens are overwhelmingly positive, we encountered a couple of situational problems that made the lens’s functionality somewhat tough at times.

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Judging from the name of the new Phottix Para-Pro umbrella, one would think that it is a parabolic. In fact, many companies say that their umbrellas are parabolic. In fact, a parabolic umbrella is one that allows you to shape the throw of the light–and many use it to just market the fact that the throw can look like that of a parabolic umbrella. The company now has a brand new reflective interior umbrella listed on their site, and they’re stating that it will provide snappy highlights. Indeed, most silver umbrellas do this.

They’re available in a 72″, 60″ or 40″ size. The latter is guaranteed to give you some incredibly beautiful light output. Prices will be available within a couple of days.

Confused about whether or not you need an umbrella? You might want to check out The Phoblographer’s Introductory Guide to Photographic Umbrellas.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Manfrotto Shoulder Bag 30 product photos (1 of 10)ISO 2001-250 sec at f - 3.2

If you ask anyone in the photo industry what Manfrotto is best known for, they’d probably tell you their tripods. That isn’t to say at all that they make awful bags though. Earlier in the year, we saw a couple of new bags from the company–and amongst the ones that we’ve been testing for a while is the Shoulder Bag 30. The 30 is a camera bag that is obviously meant to be a shoulder bag, but also meant to be placed somewhere in the middle. As the numbers get larger, so do the bags.

And even though we weren’t so sold on the 30 when we first got it in, we eventually warmed up to it. Now, we’re actually quite impressed with the way it works in real life.


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We all know the hassle with taking pictures of the latest fashion trends for our glossy magazines and designer outlet e-stores, right? No, not really. We don’t have a clue, because we’re not running a fashion e-commerce. But apparently, those that do are in dire need of a dedicated studio solution, according to a company from the Netherlands. They invented the StyleShoots, which is a dedicated, stand-alone, all-in-one photo studio for fashion e-commerces. And what the thing does is amazing. Not only does it take pictures with a built in Canon 5D Mk II, it also makes them ready for publishing by analyzing the structures and adding a true alpha-transparency background–something that can take quite a while if you have to do it by hand (second-assistant underscan rotoscopers will know what I’m talking about.) Finally, for extra convenience, the whole thing is operated by touch via an iPad.

So, if you’re running a fashion e-commerce and need to find a solution for the time-consuming editing process of your product shots, why not pay them a visit at their new NYC showroom? Details on the StyleShoots website.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sigma DP3 product images (1 of 8)ISO 1001-200 sec at f - 2.0

Sigma’s DP line of point and shoots have never really caught on with the public. The cameras have always exhibited exceptional low ISO abilities and some extremely detailed and  chromatically-rich RAW files. But the high ISO performance has generally been deemed as unacceptable by many reviewers across the web. With that said though, one could probably think of the Sigma DP3 Merrlill as a medium format point and shoot with a smaller sensor–this is due to the high megapixel count with the Foveon sensor. Further, modern medium format cameras all do quite poorly at high ISOs and this end the images are often converted to black and white. Sigma very subtly encourages this with their new Monochrome mode in Sigma Photo Pro–the company’s software needed to edit the RAW files.

But then you consider the fact that the camera also has a fixed 50mm f2.8 lens–effectively rendering a 75mm field of view and then you say, “what?” The DP3 is meant to complement the DP1 and DP2 Merrill; and by itself it is a little bit out of place of the conventional thought of a high end point and shoot user.

Then who is it for?

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Chris Gampat The Phoblographer LightCraft Workshop Digipro HD filter product images (1 of 6)ISO 2001-125 sec

LightCraft Workshop has produced some very good variable ND filters that were all rated very highly on this site. Recently, they released their DigiPro HD line–which they state as having better optical qualities and better ergonomics than their previous lines. Specifically branded as the HD line, this means that videographers would probably be the ones to take the most advantage of this filter. However, ND filters have long been used by not only landscape photographers, but portrait photographers as well.

So how does it perform when used with a monolight?

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