Pauleth Ip Pauleth Ip

All articles by Pauleth Ip

 

How to Not Be a Jerk Photographing Cosplayers at New York Comic Con

Every October, thousands upon thousands make their pilgrimage towards Manhattan’s west side to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center to attend New York Comic-Con as the annual celebration of their diverse fandoms, ranging from comic books, video games, movies, tv shows, pop culture, and everything in between. Last year’s NYCC had a record-breaking attendance of a quarter of a million people, and that number will likely increase this year. What was once considered geeky or nerdy are now woven into the fabric of pop culture itself, and in recent years, more and more people are now openly embracing and expressing their love of the numerous fandoms of which they’re a part of. For many convention-goers, cosplaying – the act of dressing up as and embodying their favorite characters – have become a rite of passage. The rise of cosplaying’s popularity has also led to an influx of photographers attending conventions like New York Comic-Con, whose main objective is to capture images of the many cosplayers roaming around the convention hall. If you happen to be one of these photographers, this article was written with you in mind....
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Review: Fujifilm Instax Mini Link Smartphone Instax Printer

Fans of Instax Mini prints will appreciate the usability refinements Fujifilm incorporated into their new Instax Mini Link smartphone printer. Fujifilm’s Instax line of instant cameras and mobile printers have been dominating the instant photography market. Today, they’re unveiling their brand new Instax Mini Link smartphone Instax printer. Instant cameras have seen a massive resurgence...
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Review: Lenovo Yoga A940 All-In-One PC (Is It for Photographers?)

The Yoga A940 All-In-One Desktop PC is Lenovo’s more affordable take on the Microsoft Surface Studio 2 concept designed with photographers and creative professionals in mind. Like the Surface Studio 2, the Lenovo Yoga A940 features a double-hinged high-resolution touch screen display attached to a base unit that houses the All-In-One’s components. Unlike the Surface Studio, Lenovo actually integrated a dedicated keyboard tray and QI wireless charging pad into the Yoga A940’s base unit. This makes for an arguably neater design, particularly if you like to store everything away neatly when not in use. Lenovo also includes all of the peripherals with the Yoga A940, which include a wireless keyboard, wireless mouse, Bluetooth Active Pen, and a Content Creation Dial. The Content Creation Dial is Lenovo’s spin on Microsoft’s Surface Dial, an optional accessory for the Surface Studio 2 that costs US $99.99. All of this adds up to a compelling All-In-One desktop solution, but how’s it fare under real-world use? Let’s find out....
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Lens Review: Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm F2.8 S (Nikon Z Mount)

When it comes to zoom lenses, the 24-70mm focal range is considered by many working photographers to be one of the “holy trinity” focal ranges, and is often the first zoom lens that many opt to purchase due to its versatility of being suitable for a huge variety of subject matter ranging from landscapes, real estate, street, solo to group portraiture, and so much more. While Nikon released a 24-70mm zoom to complement their Full Frame Z mount mirrorless cameras at launch, that particular lens had a maximum aperture of only f4 and many photographers interested in the Z mount cameras were left wanting for a faster alternative. Fast forward six months after Nikon introduced their Z mount cameras and the initial trio of lenses (35mm f1.8 Prime, 50mm f1.8 Prime, and the aforementioned 24-70mm f4 Zoom), Nikon officially unveiled the more premium Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f2.8 S. We got to spend some hands-on time with the lens while we were in Las Vegas for WPPI earlier this year, and Nikon was kind enough to provide us with a final production sample of the lens so that we can evaluate it thoroughly on our own terms. Head on after the jump to see how the Z mount 24-70mm f2.8 zoom performed during our real-world tests....
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Lighting Review: Fositan FL-1×2 Rollable LED Panel

A huge variety of LED lighting have been making their way onto the market in recent years, and a lot of photographers have begun utilizing them as a part of their constant lighting kit thanks to LEDs having power efficiency, increased light output, and generating little to no heat compared to legacy constant lighting options like incandescent or CFL bulbs. Westcott was arguably the first to introduce flexible LED panels to the photography market, and shortly after the Flex series of LED panels were released, a number of knockoffs began flooding the market at lower price points promising similar performance. Fositan’s FL-1×2 Rollable LED panel is one of them....
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Gear Review: X-Rite ColorChecker Passport Photo 2

While most modern digital cameras on the market today do a fine job of reproducing colors found in the real world, there is still room for improvement because most modern digital camera sensors interpolate much of the real-world colors as they can only record red, green, and blue. And although many photographers choose to express their creative visions when post-processing their images, certain workflows, such as when photographing products or high-end fashion for commercial clients, demand accurate and consistent colors. This is where the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport Photo 2 comes in. Working in conjunction with X-Rite’s own ColorChecker Camera Calibration software, the ColorChecker Passport Photo 2 is a reliable tool that helps photographers create accurate reference images under any lighting condition to ensure that their images feature consistently accurate colors. The folks over at X-Rite sent over a ColorChecker Passport Photo 2 for us to test out, and you can check out our full review after the jump....
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Steve Simon’s Empty Sky Explores the Immediate Post-9/11 NYC

It seems almost inconceivable that the attack on the Twin Towers occurred 18 years ago, given the fact that many of us still remember everything that happened on that fateful Tuesday morning so vividly as if it had just transpired. When we look back on the World Trade Center attack, we tend to see a lot of images of the Ground Zero itself along with the Twin Towers during and after the incident. If you were to look for images of the periphery and of the people drawn towards the area, there’s a chance that the photos were captured by photojournalist Steve Simon. Steve was actually scheduled to fly back to New York on September 11th and wound up returning a week later. His project, titled Empty Sky: The Pilgrimage to Ground Zero, is part of the 9/11 Memorial Museum’s permanent collection and focuses on the people looking towards and drawn to where the Twin Towers once stood, and the sweeping emotions that overwhelmed the air in the surrounding area in lower Manhattan. He has kindly taken time out of his busy schedule to recount his experiences while working on Empty Sky in the days and weeks immediately following the tragic events that transpired on September 11th, 2001....
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Lens Review: Nikon NIKKOR Z 14-30mm F4 S (Nikon Z Mount)

The Nikon NIKKOR Z 14-30mm f4 S is an ultra-wide angle zoom designed for Nikon’s mirrorless Z mount cameras that is both lightweight and compact. At press time, the 14-30mm f4 is the widest autofocus Nikon Z mount lens currently available on the market. The Nikon Z 14-30mm f4 S is a welcomed addition to the nascent Z mount lens lineup which is about to celebrate its first birthday. One of the lens’ biggest selling points is its ability to accommodate threaded filters up front, a feature that is extremely rare to find on an ultra-wide lens which typically includes bulbous front elements and thus require the use of specialty filter mounting brackets. We first got to spend some time with the 14-30mm earlier this year in Las Vegas during WPPI and were eager to get our review unit so we could put it through its paces and thoroughly test it in the wild. Head on after the jump to see if the Nikon NIKKOR Z 14-30mm f4 S is the right lens for you....
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New Sony Xperia 5 Android Smartphone Comes Loaded with Camera Tech

Today in the IFA 2019, Sony announced their next 5G Android smartphone: the Sony Xperia 5. Like the Sony Xperia 1 launched earlier this year at MWC Barcelona, the Xperia 5 incorporates many of Sony’s innovative Digital Imaging technologies, this time in a sleeker, more pocket-friendly package. Like the larger Xperia 1, the Sony Xperia 5 utilizes an OLED display with a 21:9 aspect ratio, albeit measuring 6.1″ diagonally this time around and packing a slightly lower 2520 x 1080 resolution due to the Xperia 5’s smaller dimensions. The Xperia 5 comes equipped with a trio of cameras, each covering a unique focal length: 16mm Ultrawide Angle, 26mm with Optical Image Stabilization, and 52mm Portrait/Telephoto with Optical Image Stabilization. The same dual photodiode/stacked CMOS image sensor technology used in Sony’s Flagship Full Frame Mirrorless A9 also powers each of the Xperia 5’s three cameras. The cameras in the Xperia 5 also borrowed a lot of the advanced autofocus tech found in Sony’s Alpha Mirrorless cameras, including advanced Eye AF and the ability to shoot at up to 10 fps with continuous AF/AE tracking. Video shooters will find lots to love with the Xperia 5 as well, including 10-bit 4:2:2 capture and s709-based color science adopted from Sony’s own Venice cinema cameras. Like the Sony RX100 Mk VII premium point-and-shoot, the Xperia 5 has Hybrid Electronic/Optical Image Stabilization built in, allowing you to capture videos with near-gimbal-stabilized quality even in low light scenarios. Sony’s Cinema Pro project-based video creation app is also included with the Xperia 5, making cinematic editing possible on a mobile phone. See the full press release along with pricing and availability after the jump....
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First Impressions: Sony E 70-350mm F4.5-6.3 G OSS (Sony E, APS-C)

Earlier this week, Sony announced their 70-350mm f4.5-6.3 G OSS lens alongside the A6100 and A6600 crop sensor mirrorless cameras and the 16-55mm f2.8 G lens. The Sony E 70-350mm f4.5-6.3 G OSS is the company’s first super-telephoto designed specifically for their crop sensor mirrorless cameras, with a 35mm Full Frame equivalent focal range of 105–525 mm. When shooting at such extreme focal lengths, the built-in optical image stabilization help keep motion blur down to a minimum. The 70-350mm f4.5-6.3 G OSS features an optical design consisting of an aspherical element along with three extra-low dispersion glass elements and is dust and moisture resistant. Sony managed to pack all of these features into a compact package that weighs in at just 625 g. We got a chance to shoot with the Sony 70-350mm f4.5-6.3 G OSS in a variety of shooting conditions using both the A6100 and A6600, head on after the jump to check out our first impressions on this super-telephoto....
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Could the New Razer Blade Stealth 13 Be a Photographer’s Next Laptop?

Today at IFA, Razer announced their updated 13″ ultrabook – the Razer Blade Stealth 13. Powered by Intel’s latest 10th generation Core i7-1065G7 Quad-Core processor, three variants of the Razer Blade Stealth 13 will be available. All three variants of the Razer Blade Stealth 13 are housed in precision-milled unibody aluminum chassis that are just 15.3 mm thick and weighing in at roughly 3 lbs depending on the configuration. Two of the models feature discrete NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 graphics, a first for a 13″ laptop. It sports a black anodized finish, while the third utilizes integrated Intel Iris Plus graphics and comes in a mercury white anodized finish. In terms of connectivity, all variants of the new Stealth 13 feature WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0, and come equipped with a Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) port, a USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 port, as well as a pair of USB 3.1 Type-A ports. The updated Razer Blade Stealth 13 is a powerful mobile solution for photographers on the go. Additional details on the updated Razer Blade Stealth 13 variants can be found after the jump....
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First Impressions: Sony A6100 (Flagship Level AF, Entry Level Price Point)

In addition to launching the A6600 flagship earlier this week, Sony also introduced the entry-level A6100 as well, essentially a refresh of the highly popular A6000 which is now a five-year-old camera. The Sony A6100 shares the same 24.2 Megapixel APS-C Exmor CMOS sensor and blazing-fast 0.02 second 425 point Fast Hybrid AF system found in the higher end A6400 and A6600 models. With a MSRP of US $750 for the camera body alone, the A6100 is now the most affordable camera in Sony’s mirrorless lineup with Real-time Eye AF for both human and animal subjects as well as Real-time Tracking. To keep costs down, the A6100 utilizes a plastic housing that lacks weather-resistance as opposed to the more robust and weather-resistant magnesium alloy housing used in the flagship A6600. The A6100 also eschews the 5-axis in-camera image stabilization found in the flagship model. Additional cost-saving measures include the A6100 using a lower resolution OLED Electronic Viewfinder than the one found in higher-end Sony mirrorless APS-C cameras (1,440k-dot resolution in the A6100 versus a much higher 2,345k-dot resolution in the A6400/A6600) along with the continued use of the aging NP-FW50 battery as opposed to the newer and longer-lasting NP-FZ100 model that the A6600 is adopting, leading to significantly shorter runtimes. Shortcomings aside, the Sony A6100 is an interesting value proposition that shares much of the performance of the higher tier APS-C models, albeit at almost half the price of the A6600 flagship. We spent some time shooting with a pre-production A6100 unit during the launch event in New York City, you can read all about our first impressions after the jump....
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First Impressions: Sony E 16-55mm F2.8 G (Sony E Mount, APS-C)

Although Sony’s been releasing new mirrorless APS-C cameras regularly for the last few years, a common complaint has been the lack of new lenses that are designed specifically for crop sensor E mount cameras. With the introduction of the Sony E 16-55mm f2.8 G lens, photographers shooting with Sony APS-C mirrorless cameras finally have a new first-party standard zoom option available. The SEL1655G is Sony’s first 16-55mm zoom designed specifically for crop sensor E mount cameras, with a 35mm Full Frame equivalent focal length of 24-82.5mm and a constant aperture of f2.8. 24-70mm f2.8 zooms are the workhorse lenses for many working photographers, and this 16-55mm is essentially the APS-C version of that lens, albeit much lighter and more compact. The Sony E 16-55mm f2.8 G features an optical design consisting of two AA lens, two aspherical elements, and three ED glasses, and is driven by an XD Linear Motor allowing the lens to focus quickly, accurately, and quietly. Being a G lens, the 16-55mm is also dust and moisture resistant....
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First Impressions: Sony A6600 (Sony E Mount, APS-C)

Sony announced its latest APS-C flagship A6600 today at their New York headquarters. While the resolution remains at 24.2 Megapixels like the rest of the cameras in the A6xxx series, the A6600 features Sony’s latest-generation BIONZ X image processing engine which it claims to be 1.8x faster than the A6500, and can output 14-bit raw files. Like the A6500, the A6600 has 5-axis image stabilization built-in. The magnesium alloy body is also said to be dust and moisture resistant. It also sports the same flip-up rear LCD that was first introduced with the A6400. The most noticeable change with the A6600 is that it uses the larger and higher capacity NP-FZ100 Lithium-Ion batteries. This is a first for a Sony mirrorless APS-C body, which results in the camera having a larger and handgrip. We got to spend some time shooting with the new camera in a variety of different environments. Head on after the jump for our first impressions....
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First Impressions: Canon EOS 90D (Yes, a New APS-C DSLR)

Although Canon finally entered the Full Frame Mirrorless market last year with the introduction of the EOS R and followed up with the EOS RP a few months afterward, the company reaffirmed its commitment to the DSLR market with the announcement of the Canon EOS 90D. Announced alongside the Canon EOS M6 Mk II crop sensor mirrorless camera, the Canon EOS 90D is the successor to the now three-year-old 80D. The 90D incorporates several notable advancements, including a higher resolution 32.5 Megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor (up from 24.2 Megapixel in the 80D) along with the company’s latest Digic 8 imaging processor. The Canon 90D also sports a Dual Pixel AF system featuring 45 cross-type AF points and can detect human faces. It’s also capable of capturing up to 11 frames per second in continuous shooting mode using the electronic shutter (10 fps when using the mechanical shutter). Canon generously invited us down to Atlanta last week to spend some hands-on time with the 90D, head on after the jump for our first impressions....
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First Impressions: Canon EOS M6 Mark II APS-C Mirrorless Camera

Announced alongside the Canon EOS 90D APS-C DSLR, the Canon EOS M6 Mk II is the updated version of the crop sensor mirrorless M6 that was first announced back in February of 2017. While the M6 Mk II features a nearly identical exterior to its predecessor, much of the upgrades are found within the camera’s internals. The M6 Mk II’s APS-C sensor receives a significant resolution bump from 24.4 to 32.5 Megapixels and is powered by Canon’s latest Digic 8 imaging processor. The M6 Mk II’s Dual Pixel AF system features 5,481 manually selectable AF points and includes Eye Detection AF support, allowing for up to 14 frames per second to be captured in continuous shooting mode while maintaining autofocus (up to 30 frames per second when using the RAW Burst Mode). Having released two Full Frame mirrorless cameras within the past year, Canon’s decision to introduce an updated APS-C mirrorless camera may seem like a step backwards to some, but it’s important to remember that although Canon EF-M mount (designed with mirrorless APS-C cameras in mind) haven’t seen widespread adoption here in the US, they are quite popular in Asia. This does put Canon into an interesting position of having to concurrently support three separate lens mounts with EF/EF-S, EF-M, and RF. Canon generously invited us down to Atlanta last week to spend some hands-on time with the M6 Mk II, head on after the jump for our first impressions....
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First Impressions: Light and Motion Stella Pro CLx8 Continuous LED Light

For the last few years, continuous LED lighting has been steadily gaining popularity amongst photographers, particularly amongst those aiming to take their images to the next level by utilizing lighting, but for one reason or another have yet to master professional strobes. While continuous LED lights are a good tool to help photographers learn how to light their images, the biggest weakness that many photographers have found with continuous LED lighting has been their relatively low power output when compared to traditional professional strobes. The folks over at Light & Motion aim to address this common shortcoming with their newest Stella Pro CLx8 Continuous LED Light, which features a maximum light output of 8,000 lumens. We got to spend some time shooting with this new light from Light & Motion this past week while we were in Oregon attending Sony’s Kando 3.0 Trip, head on after the jump for our first impressions on the Stella Pro CLx8....
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First Impressions: Sony RX100 VII (A9 Level Performance in Your Pocket)

While companies generally tend to introduce their leading-edge technologies with their flagship products, these top-tier advancements will inevitably make their way into more entry-level products thanks to the continued development of said technologies along with the economies of scale lowering production costs over time. Such is the case with the RX100 VII, Sony’s latest premium compact point and shoot, which promises the performance of the flagship A9 and incorporates the company’s latest autofocus technologies like Real-Time Eye AF and Real-Time Tracking. For reference, Real-Time Eye AF and Real-Time Tracking were first introduced with the Crop Sensor Sony A6400 that was announced at the beginning of this year, and shortly thereafter patched into the Full Frame flagship Sony A9 along with the widely popular third-generation A7 cameras. Putting flagship-level performance into a premium compact point and shoot camera is a bold claim, so we were reasonably skeptical when we were first introduced to the RX100 VII, especially given our rather lukewarm experience with the previous model. We got to spend some time with the RX100 VII last week while we were in Oregon for Sony’s Kando 3.0 Trip, head on after the jump to see how the seventh generation RX100 fared....
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Back to School: The Best Cameras, Lenses, and More for 2019

As the summer holidays are beginning to wind down here in the United States, many students are beginning to gather supplies and other essentials in preparation for the upcoming school year. With the Fall semester rapidly approaching, we’ve put this roundup together for all of the photography enthusiasts out there so that they can start putting together their Back-To-School Photography Kit for the new school year....
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Review: Tenba Roadie Air Case Roller 21 (Perfect for Frequent Flyers)

For photographers that fly to different locations for assignments on a regular basis, the last thing that any of us would want to do is to have to check the bag that’s carrying all of our expensive camera gear prior to boarding our flights. While you can always use a hard case to transport your equipment, they stick out like a sore thumb to opportunists with sticky fingers amongst a sea of traditional luggage that you may as well just launch a signal flare advertising that you’re carrying a lot of valuables. Enter the Tenba Roadie Air Case Roller 21 which aims to quell our equipment transportation woes. We’ve been putting the Tenba Roadie Air Case Roller 21 to the test for the last few months, head on after the jump to see how it fared....
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First Impressions: Sony a7R IV (The 61MP Full Frame Beast)

Sony announced the brand new Sony a7R IV today in New York City and we got to spend some quick hands-on time with it during the press launch event. Slated to be released later this year in September, the A7RIV features a new 61MP sensor, the largest currently available in a Full Frame Interchangeable Lens Camera, and Sony claims to have improved the weather sealing as well. As such they’re targeting it very much to the professional market–and this is evident in the $3,500 price tag. Beyond this, the new Sony a7R IV has 567 autofocus points that cover 99.7% of the image area vertically and 74% horizontally....
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Review: LaCie 2big RAID (the Answer to a Photographer’s Storage Woes)

One of the things that working photographers have to deal with on a regular basis is the constant need for more storage, thanks to raw files ballooning in size in recent years as a result of the seemingly neverending megapixel war that camera manufacturers have been on since the industry made the shift from analog to digital. Many photographers end up moving files onto cheap external hard drives as a quick fix to make room on their computers, which inevitably end up getting tossed into a drawer or cabinet. Most of these external hard drives are generally poorly organized, never properly maintained, and lack any sort of redundancy in the event of hardware failure. This is why RAID storage solutions like the LaCie 2big RAID have become go-to options for many creatives with demanding workloads that require large storage footprints....
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First Impressions: Lenovo Yoga A940 All-In-One Desktop for Creatives

When Microsoft first announced the Surface Studio back in October 2016, it was met with significant fanfare and interest amongst creatives thanks to its innovative design, along with the fact that it addressed a lot of the requirements that a lot of creatives felt weren’t being met by their Apple desktops and laptops. Fast forward to today, Microsoft has since released version 2 of the Surface Studio while a number of other PC manufacturers have introduced their own takes on the Surface Studio concept as well, Lenovo’s Yoga A940 All-In-One desktop is one of them. We got to spend some hands-on time with the Lenovo Yoga A940 last week here in New York City while we were attending Pepcom’s Digital Experience! East technology media event, and think that it’s certainly worthy of consideration for photographers and other creatives in the market for a new computer that can tackle their many creative needs....
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First Impressions: Amber Personal Hybrid Cloud Storage Device

We discovered the Amber One and Amber Plus AI-powered hybrid cloud storage devices from LatticeWork–which are designed more or less as personal storage clouds that can be of huge use for photographers. As far as startups go in the increasingly crowded hybrid cloud storage market space, LatticeWork has arguably one of the more celebrated pedigrees with its founder being a former director as well as one of the co-founders of Marvell Technology Group. For those not familiar with Marvell, their technologies are crucial in powering many of today’s leading-edge computers, networking equipment, and mobile devices. With ever-increasing amounts of images and videos being captured on a daily basis by photographers, videographers, and the layperson alike, Amber aims to provide a hybrid cloud storage solution that’s simple to set up and easy to manage, while leveraging the power of Artificial Intelligence to help keep everything organized....
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Review: Lensbaby OMNI Creative Filter System (That Extra Pop We Need)

Any photographers that have experience shooting through objects like prisms, crystals, and mirrors to create unique effects in-camera will tell you that the results are often unpredictable. The process of using these optical modifiers can also be rather bothersome since you have to hold your camera with one hand while manipulating these modifiers in the other. Lensbaby’s OMNI Creative filter System aims to simplify this user experience and make creating these in-camera effects a less complicated and more manageable affair. Being announced today, the new system uses prisms, and your lens’ filter mount system to give photographers the ability to create some cool in-camera effects....
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Essentials: TACS AVL II Rustic Brown Edition Timepiece

Having been a watch guy for as long as I can remember, probably even longer than I’ve had an interest in photography, thanks largely to the hours upon hours I’ve spent assisting my aunt that worked in the horology industry during my youth admiring countless timepieces, changing watch straps, and tinkering with watch movements, I almost never leave home without first putting on a timepiece around my wrist to this day. Call it a habit, or maybe I’m just old fashioned, but despite having a smartphone with me at all times that not only tells time along with being able to perform a myriad of other functions, being able to tell time at the flick of a wrist will always be faster than having to pull my phone out of my pocket. When Tokyo based boutique watchmaker TACS reached out to us to see if we’d be interested in checking out one of the new Rustic Brown Edition of their AVL II timepieces, the watch nerd and the photographer in me were more than happy to oblige. TACS is an acronym for Taste, Attractive, Creative, and Sense, and the AVL II Rustic Brown Edition surely check all of those boxes....
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Software Review: Nik Collection 2 by DxO (Now with More Presets!)

DxO is releasing version 2 of their ever popular Nik Collection today, a year after the French company first released their own version of the much-loved of image editing plugins suite after acquiring the previously orphaned codebase from Google. With Nik Collection 2, DxO is including over 40 new creative presets along with support for high DPI displays on Windows. In a move that will surely please many photographers wanting to move away from Adobe and their subscription software model, DxO is bundling DxO PhotoLab 2 Essential Edition, their French company’s own standalone Raw Converter, with the newly updated Nik Collection 2. We got a chance to test drive Nik Collection 2 before it’s public release to see how the updated plugins suite fared....
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Review: Tamron SP 15-30mm f2.8 Di VC USD G2 (Canon EF Mount)

When Tamron released the original version of their SP 15-30mm f2.8 Di VC USD high-speed ultra-wide angle zoom back in 2015, we praised it for its sharpness, color rendition, and versatility, but felt that there were some areas that Tamron could improve upon. Enter the Tamron SP 15-30mm f2.8 Di VC USD G2, Tamron’s 2nd generation refresh of the same lens that we had reviewed some four years ago which incorporates a number of improvements upon the well-received original. A pair of MPUs (Micro-Processing Unit) along with a VC (Vibration Compensation) mechanism resides within the SP 15-30mm f2.8 G2 and work in tandem to ensure snappy autofocus performance while maintaining image stabilization. According to Tamron, the 2nd generation lens also features an optics design that incorporates an XGM (eXpanded Glass Molded Aspherical) lens element along with multiple LD (Low Dispersion) lens elements to minimize distortions and lateral chromatic aberrations that tend to appear when shooting with wide angle glass. Tamron’s improved the already durable Fluorine Coating on the front element while introducing a number of additional coatings to help improve the optical quality of the updated lens, including the newly developed AX (Anti-reflection eXpand) Coating that’s designed to dramatically reduce flaring and ghosting. the eBAND (Extended Bandwidth & Angular Dependency) and BBAR (Broad-Band Anti-Reflection) coatings which help maintain clarity and sharpness especially towards the periphery of your frame. We got to spend some time with the Tamron SP 15-30mm f2.8 Di VC USD G2 to evaluate whether this updated offering from Tamron lives up to the company’s touted improvements....
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Review: Sigma 56mm F1.4 DC DN Contemporary (Sony E Mount)

Up until Sony announced the A6400 back in January of this year, some have speculated that the Japanese Mirrorless camera manufacturer had all but abandoned their Crop Sensor line to focus on their ever popular Full Frame cameras. Coupled with the fact that the last time Sony released an APS-C lens was almost exactly a year before the A6400’s announcement when the company introduced the variable aperture 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 OSS zoom lens, it’s not exactly hard to see why people concerned for the life of Sony’s APS-C camera line. With lineup being alive and well, at least for the immediate future, it’s good to see third-party lens manufacturers continuing their support for the system as well, such is the case with the Sigma 56mm f1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens. This is sigma’s third lens designed with Sony’s Crop Sensor E Mount cameras in mind. They previously released a 16mm f1.4 lens and a 30mm f1.4 lens, both under the Contemporary line and now marketed as a trio of sorts. The Sigma 56mm f1.4 has a 35mm equivalent focal length of 84mm when factoring in the 1.5x crop factor that Sony’s E Mount APS-C cameras have. For those keeping track, Sigma basically designed this lens with portrait photographers in mind, as many tend to gravitate towards the 85mm focal length. A Micro Four-Thirds version of this lens is also available for photographers shooting with M43 cameras....
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Our 15 Favorite Pieces of Gear for Travel Photography in Summer 2019

Photographers that plan on taking a vacation in Summer 2019 will be happy to know that there has never been a better time to look at the market. Not only are there tons of innovative and great cameras out there, but there are also lots of great accessories. Best of all, these items are bound to not take up a lot of space or break your back while being hauled through an airport. So if you’re a photographer looking to vacation in Iceland, the Virgin Islands, Italy or even somewhere more local, we’ve gone through our reviews index to figure out what items are best for you. Here are some of our current favorite gear that you may want to consider taking with you on your next trip....
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First Impressions: Fujifilm GFX 100 (And Why It Needed IBIS)

Last week, Fujifilm invited us to a top secret briefing on the west side of Manhattan where they unveiled the long-awaited addition to the company’s Medium Format Mirrorless camera lineup: the Fujifilm GFX 100. We had seen renderings of the GFX100 before and even got to fondle a mockup of it in Las Vegas during WPPI, but this is the first time that we got to spend some hands-on time with the genuine article itself, albeit in pre-production but near-final trim. The star of the Medium Format GFX 100 show is the brand new 102 MP sensor that is not only backside illuminated but also stabilized. In fact, it’s the first medium format digital camera to have image stabilization on the sensor....
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Review: Viltrox PFU RBMH 85mm f1.8 (Sony FE)

During last year’s PhotoPlus Expo, Viltrox announced that they have begun designing and manufacturing their own camera lenses. Up until that point, the Chinese company was known principally as a manufacturer of photography accessories as well as lens adapters. As we had already reviewed the ultrawide Viltrox PFU RBMH 20mm f1.8 ASPH lens previously, the focus of this review will instead be on the other lens that Viltrox announced during PPE: the portrait-centric Viltrox PFU RBMH 85mm f1.8 for Sony FE Mount. Housed within a brass body, the Viltrox 85mm f1.8 feels sturdily built in hand. While you can adjust the aperture of the Viltrox 85mm f1.8 using your camera’s aperture dial, focusing is a completely manual affair. Aggressively priced at just under US$300, the Viltrox  PFU RBMH 85mm f1.8 for Sony Full Frame Mirrorless is certainly worthy of consideration for any portrait photographers on a budget. Read on to find out how well the freshman lens maker fared....
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Camera Review: Fujifilm X-T30 (Honey, Fuji Shrunk the X-T3!)

While most of the digital imaging industry has been concentrating their efforts on introducing Full Frame Mirrorless cameras for the better part of the past year, photographers that prefer lighter and more compact Crop Sensor bodies got some new hotness of their very own to lust after in the form of the Fujifilm X-T3 and the Sony A6400. Both flagship APS-C cameras have proven to be massively popular for consumers to professionals alike, but what if you wanted the same level of performance but in an even svelter and more condensed package? As luck would have it, the engineers over at Fujifilm managed to answer that question with the X-T30, the company’s latest compact Crop Sensor Mirrorless camera. Fujifilm managed to incorporate almost all of the best of breed innovations found within the X-T3 into the XT30 while bringing both the size and the cost down. After spending a few short hours with the pre-production sample during the top-secret press briefing when the X-T30 first launched, Fujifilm was kind enough to provide a final production model of the camera to us so that we can evaluate in comprehensively in typical Phoblographer fashion....
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Review: Gravity Backdrops Custom Hand-Painted Backdrops

Any photographer that’s spent time in a studio have undoubtedly photographed their subject in front of seamless paper and possibly even a cyclorama. When we look at some of the most iconic portraits throughout history, however, like those captured by contemporary greats like Annie Leibovitz and Mark Seliger or late legends like Irving Penn, you will often find that the subject(s) are placed in front of hand-painted canvas backdrops, lending a timeless, painterly look to the images. In fact, the backdrop that Penn used in many of his portraits was prominently displayed at his namesake centennial exhibit held at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art back in 2017. For a long time, these hand-painted backdrops were quite prohibitively priced, out of reach for most photographers. So costly were these backdrops, in fact, that there are specialty rental houses that specialize in renting them out to photo shoots and other productions, but even the rental fees could add up to quite a large sum of money. This is where Europe based backdrop studio Gravity Backdrops comes in, effectively disrupting the existing backdrop business model by offering hand-painted backdrops that match the quality of those available from storied backdrop studios but at a fraction of the cost. In fact, some of the backdrops from Gravity actually costs less to own than it would cost to rent similar backdrops from a rental house. We recently had the opportunity to test out some of Gravity Backdrops’ custom offerings, head on after the jump for our review....
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Photographer David James on Capturing the Set of the Star Wars Movies

“…earlier in my career turned down the original Star Wars’ movie…” explains Motion Picture Stills Photographer David James. “George Lucas and I talked about that many years later, he actually admired me for making that decision.” David James–who was tasked to capture the behind the scenes happenings on both Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens and Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi.  While being a movie stills photographer is a pretty difficult job, it becomes even more of a challenge when it happens to be on the sets of space operas that take place “in a galaxy far, far away,” where every minute detail is shrouded in secrecy until all is revealed on premiere day. Aside from over a half a century in the industry, David helped found the Society of Motion Picture Stills Photographers (SMPSP), serving as one of the organization’s past presidents, and was bestowed the Still Photographer Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Camera Operators in 2011. In time for Star Wars Day, we talked to David about his experiences working on the sets of both Star Wars sequels, how he entered the world of still photography, his experiences working on some of the most prominent Hollywood blockbusters, and what fuels his creative impulse....
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We Updated Our Sony A9 Review After Testing Firmware Update 5.0

Taking a page out of Fujifilm’s books, Sony released a major firmware update for their flagship A9 last week that brings the camera’s firmware to version 5.0. This new firmware update leverages the company’s latest developments into Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, and object recognition and adds Real-Time Tracking (first seen in the Sony A6400) along with automatic Eye Autofocus to improve upon the already unparalleled performance of the Sony A9. Even before this update was introduced, the Sony A9 was already one of the most capable cameras on the market, but Firmware 5.0 takes everything great about the camera and makes the process of photography even more seamless and second nature. Aim at your subject, release the shutter, and the A9 takes care of the rest. Some may argue that this is “cheating,” but if you’re a professional sports or wildlife photographer, the Sony A9 is simply the most powerful camera you can have in your arsenal at the moment....
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Review: Nikon NIKKOR Z 35mm f1.8 S (Nikon Z Mount)

During our testing with the Nikon z series of cameras, perhaps our favorite lens was the Nikon Nikkor Z 35mm f1.8 S. It can be argued that a camera system is only as good as the lenses available, and this is especially true when launching a brand new camera system–as is the case with the Nikon Z Mount series. One of three lenses that were announced at the launch of Nikon’s brand new Z Mount, the Nikon Z 35mm f1.8 S covers a popular focal length used by many photographers–suitable for street, landscapes, portraits, and a lot of other genres. Nikon was kind enough to send us a copy of the lens along with the brand new Z6 and Z7 cameras, and we put it through an exhaustive numbers of tests to see how well the lens performed....
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Review: Sony a6400 (The Sony a9 with an APS-C Sensor)

Up until recently, Sony’s focus seemed to rest with their Full Frame mirrorless cameras, but the Japanese consumer electronics giant reaffirmed their commitment towards APS-C cameras when they announced the A6400 back in January of this year. Featuring the company’s latest advancements in autofocus technologies, the Sony A6400 is positioned interestingly between the existing A6300 and crop sensor flagship A6500. It’s not quite the halo product some were hoping for, but it is certainly no slouch by any measure. While the A6400 shares the same 24.2 megapixel sensor found in the now 2+ years old A6500, it eschews the in body image stabilization that made the A6500 popular but makes up for it in terms of overall performance (“world’s fastest autofocus” with just 0.02 seconds delay, 11 FPS continuous shooting with AF & AE tracking when using the mechanical shutter, enhanced Real-time Eye AF, as well as the newly introduced Real-time Tracking and Real-time Animal Eye AF) as well as a lower price point of just under US$900 (body only). Much to the delight of video shooters everywhere, the A6400 is capable of recording 4K HDR videos as well as time-lapse in camera. Vloggers and selfie addicts will be happy to learn that the tiltable, flip up touch screen is capable of facing forwards. While we only got to spend a precious few hours with the Sony A6400 back in San Diego during the launch event, we received our review unit recently and go to evaluate it more thoroughly on our own terms. Find out how it fared after the jump....
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Review: Sony 135mm F1.8 G Master (Sony FE Mount)

Announced earlier this year at the end of February, the Sony 135mm f1.8 G Master is the 9th lens to join the ranks of Sony’s premium G Master lineup. Sony created the 135mm f1.8 G Master with portrait photographers in mind first and foremost, as many portrait photographers gravitate toward the 135mm focal length due to the fact that subjects appear true to life with little to no discernible distortions. Since we only got to spend a few short hours with the lens during the top-secret media launch which took place on a particularly snowy February afternoon, we were excited to get our review unit in so that we can put the 135mm G Master through its paces in typical Phoblographer manner....
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An Introduction to Shooting Portraits in Natural Light

Photographing portraits using natural light as the sole light source have become such a rage lately that some photographers have branded themselves as “Natural Light Only Photographers.” While you can certainly create some stunning images with the proper use of only natural light, understanding how light behaves and being able to harness light in all of its forms, natural or otherwise, will help shape you into a better, more complete photographer....
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Review: Tokina Opera 50mm F1.4 Lens (Nikon F Mount)

The Tokina Opera 50mm f1.4 is the first lens that the Japanese lens manufacturer is launching as part of their newly introduced Opera premium lens lineup, designed with the latest high-resolution Full Frame DSLRs in mind. We had the opportunity to spend some time with the Canon EF mount version of the lens in Germany during last year’s Photokina, and came away quite impressed. In some respects, what Tokina has created with the Opera line feels like a direct response to Sigma’s highly regarded Art series, both in terms of performance as well as price. Tokina was kind enough to send over a review unit of the Opera 50mm, this time in Nikon F mount, for us to evaluate the lens in an independent and exhaustive manner that The Phoblographer is known for. Curious to see how the Tokina Opera 50mm f1.4 fared during our tests? Read on after the break to find out....
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Review: Viltrox PFU RBMH 20mm f1.8 ASPH (Sony FE)

Up until now, Viltrox was known primarily for their camera accessories and lens adapters, so our interests were piqued when we were first introduced to the Viltrox PFU RBMH 20mm f1.8 ASPH lens during PhotoPlus last year. After spending some brief time with the fully manual ultra-wide angle lens on the convention floor, we came away intrigued and were eager to get a review sample in for testing. With their 20mm f1.8, Viltrox is offering Sony mirrorless shooters a value proposition in the form of an affordable ultra-wide housed within a metal body that is both well built and produces excellent images. Read on to find out how well the freshman lens maker fared....
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Creating Stunning Portraits Using Beautiful Golden Hour Light

For the uninitiated, Golden Hour describes the short, fleeting period of time just after the sun had risen or immediately before it is about to set. During this momentary window, the sun appears very close to the horizon and produces a quality of available light that tends to be beautifully diffused and typically embodies a warmer tone than usual. Portrait photographers, particularly those that rely heavily on natural light, often prefer to photograph their subjects during these ephemeral minutes because of the beautiful quality the light imparts onto their subjects. We have a wealth of tutorials here on The Phoblographer that cover topics such as portrait subject posing as well as how to best interact with your subjects to bring out the expressions you’re looking for, but for the purposes of this particular tutorial, we are going to focus specifically on the challenges that you will likely come across when photographing portraits during Golden Hour and what you can do to combat them....
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First Impressions: Nikon Nikkor Z 14-30mm f4 S (with Sample Images!)

While we were in Las Vegas for WPPI this year, we got the exclusive opportunity to spend some hands-on time photographing with Nikon’s brand new Nikkor Z 14-30 f4 S prototype lens. Designed for Nikon’s mirrorless Z Mount, the Nikkor Z 14-30 f4 S is a compact and lightweight ultra-wide-angle lens with a maximum constant aperture of f4 throughout the zoom range that features built-in filter threads up front, allowing photographers to attach lens filters without the need to rely on expensive and often clunky third-party filter systems. With a lens design consisting of 14 elements in 12 groups, the Nikkor Z 14-30 f4 S includes 4 ED glass and 4 aspherical lens elements to take full advantage of the high resolving power of the Nikon Z7, while the Nano Crystal Coated elements help reduce ghosting and flaring when compositions include light sources within the frame. The front lens element is also fluorine-coated, making it water and oil repellent. Head on after the jump for everything you need to know about the Nikkor Z 14-30 f4 S, as well as sample images shot with the lens along with our First Impressions....
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First Impressions: Tamron 35-150mm f2.8-4 Di VC OSD (Canon EF)

It’s always exciting when we get to spend some hands-on time with lenses that are still under development, and we got to do just that when we met with Tamron last week at WPPI. One of the three new lenses that Tamron showed off at WPPI, the Tamron 35-150mm f2.8-4 Di VC OSD was the only one of the trio with a functional prototype available. The Tamron 35-150mm f2.8-4 is a lightweight and compact variable aperture zoom lens that covers most of the focal lengths popular for portraiture work. In fact, these focal lengths (35mm, 50mm, 85mm, 105mm, 135mm, and 150mm) are clearly marked on the lens barrel itself, giving you an idea as to who Tamron’s intended market for the lens is. Keep reading after the jump for all the available details on the Tamron 35-150mm f2.8-4 Di VC OSD, as well as image samples and our first impressions....
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First Impressions: Nikon Nikkor Z 24-70mm f2.8 S Lens (Nikon Z Mount)

When Nikon first introduced the Z mount last year, one of the lenses that launched alongside the Z6 and Z7 was the Nikkor Z 24-70mm f4 S zoom lens. While it was compact and weather sealed, a maximum constant aperture of f4 just doesn’t let in enough light, which is where the brand new Nikkor Z 24-70mm f2.8 S comes in. The 24-70mm f2.8 S was amongst the lenses on display at Nikon’s booth at this year’s WPPI, so we jumped at the chance to play with it while we were on the show floor. With a lens design consisting of 17 elements in 15 groups (the f4 consisted of 14 elements in 11 groups by comparison), the Nikkor Z 24-70mm f2.8 S is understandably larger than its predecessor. Everything you need to know about the Nikkor Z 24-70 f2.8 S, including sample images shot with the lens along with our First Impressions, can be found after the jump....
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Sample Image Gallery: Portraits Shot on the Sony 135mm f1.8 G Master

The Sony 135mm f1.8 G Master was just announced at the end of last month, and in case you missed it, you can read all about the lens in our First Impressions article where we got to test it out in a variety of situations. A production review unit of the 135mm G Master is en route to us, so please stay tuned for our upcoming full review. While we were in Las Vegas for WPPI last week, we got to spend some more time with the brand new Sony 135mm f1.8 G Master lens (mated to a Sony A7RIII). Here are some of the images that we captured using the lens while we were on the WPPI show floor....
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Review: Nikon 50mm f1.8 Z S (Nikon Z Mount)

Almost every photographer has had a “Nifty Fifty” in their arsenal at some point during their career, due to the popularity of the versatile 50mm focal length, suitable for portraiture, landscapes, street, and many other genres of photography. With this in mind, it made all the sense in the world that Nikon NIKKOR Z 50mm f1.8 S was one of the three lenses that Nikon introduced during their launch of the brand new Z Mount camera system. Nikon was kind enough to send us a copy of the lens along with the brand new Z6 and Z7 cameras to review, so we naturally put it through its paces of test how well the lens performed....
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First Impressions: Sony 135mm f1.8 G Master (Sony FE)

On a particularly snowy New York City day last week, Sony debuted their latest Full Frame E Mount lens in a top secret media briefing: the Sony 135mm f1.8 G Master FE. The Sony 135mm f1.8 G Master FE is the 31st lens overall in Sony’s first party Full Frame E Mount lens lineup, and the 9th one to join the elite ranks of Sony’s Premium G Master line.  Featuring dust and moisture resistant construction, lightweight magnesium alloy body, an optics design that includes Super ED (Extra-low Dispersion), ED, and XA (Extreme Aspherical) lens elements paired with an 11 blade circular aperture, the Sony 135mm f1.8 G Master FE promises to be a beast of a lens that’s not only suitable for portraiture work, but macro and sports as well. We got to spend a few hours with the Sony 135mm G Master, our First Impressions, Tech Specs, as well as a whole lot of image samples can be found after the jump....
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Review: Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm F4 S (Nikon Z Mount)

It can be argued that a camera system is only as good as the lenses available, and this is especially true when launching a brand new camera system, as is the case with the Nikon Z Mount series. One of three lenses that were announced at the launch of Nikon’s brand new Z Mount, the Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f4 S was the only zoom lens of the trio, covering a zoom range that is popular among photographers that specialize in landscape, street, and portrait photography. Nikon was kind enough to send us a copy of the lens along with the brand new Z6 and Z7 cameras, and we put it through an exhaustive battery of tests to see how well the lens performed....
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