Review: Gravity Backdrops Custom Hand-Painted Backdrops

Give your studio portraits the timeless, painterly look with custom hand-painted backdrops from Gravity Backdrops.

Any photographer who has spent time in a studio has 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 (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. Those backdrops lend a timeless, painterly look to the images. In fact, the backdrop Penn used in many of his portraits was prominently displayed at his namesake centennial exhibit held at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2017. For a long time, these hand-painted backdrops were quite prohibitively priced, out of reach for most photographers. They are so costly that there are rental houses that specialize in renting them out for 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.

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Review: Alter Rapid Filter System (A Photojournalist’s Essential)

While there have been rapid filter system removable products available on the market for a while, there’s nothing like the Alter Rapid Filter System.

To really understand the Alter Rapid Filter system, you need to analyze how lots of modern photojournalism work is done. There is a greater demand for both high quality video and stills both. We can talk all day about the quality of a still frame taken from a video, but the quality still isn’t there yet for those of us that want to see it super large. And so, the Alter Rapid Filter System accommodates to the needs of the photographer that needs to shoot both video and photo often in the same setting. My days as a tech journalist showed me that this is something that needs to be done pretty often when on a location. And being able to use the Alter Rapid Filter System makes things a whole lot easier.

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Review: Datacolor SpyderX Elite (Their Best and Their Most Behind Product Yet)

The Datacolor SpyderX Elite is mostly the same product as its predecessor with a few major improvements.

If you were to ask most journalists, editors, and photographers about how often they calibrate their computer displays, I’m positive that the answer would be never–though the Datacolor SpyderX Elite should give them a number of reasons at least to consider it. The most recently updated product from Datacolor includes a few big design changes and deviations from the previous products. For the creatives who have been using the Spyder units for years, you’ll be happy to know that it operates mostly the same. But in terms of future proofing and reaching out to a newer generation of creatives, there are some obvious and glaring problems with the new Datacolor SpyderX Elite. A number of competitors have popped up in the most recent years to include pretty revolutionary features to the genre of products. But what’s perhaps the Datacolor SpyderX Elite’s biggest problem is the displays that they’re catering so hard towards.

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Review: Irix Light Pollution Filter (Say Goodnight to City Lights)

Irix Light pollution Filter

Light pollution is a real problem, but could things get better for photographers with the Irix Edge Light Pollution filter?

We live in a day and age where electricity rules. This of course is not a bad thing; for one I wouldn’t be here writing this review if it were not for the buzzy stuff flowing through cables everywhere. Electricity also means that we get to turn night to day. Streets are filled with massive glowing buildings, and the roads are lined with lights that allow us to see in the dark, but the city lights (sodium lamps in particular) are polluting the night sky. The yellow glow they give off, and the haze they produce can be seen for miles and miles in all directions. Not only can this have a negative effect on night time cityscapes, the glow can also hamper efforts to capture the night sky, even if you think you’re far enough away from them, the glow will still affect your images.

This is where a product like the Irix Edge Light Pollution filter comes in. The premise is simple. Make a filter that can attempt to block out the sodium lamp spectrum (589nm) so that photographers can take shots at night that will not have a yellow color cast, nor haze that is produced by city lights. The question though is, can this filter do the job?

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Review: SIRUI SR-3204 Tripod and SR-66C Column (The Sturdiest Tripod We’ve Tested)

If you purchase the SIRUI SR-3204 Tripod and SR-66C Column, you’re spending almost $1,000 on tripod equipment.

If you’re a photographer that really, seriously needs some of the best stabilization that you can get your hands on, then the SIRUI SR-3204 Tripod and SR-66C Column is pretty much a no compromise solution. It’s a great option for those of you working with high end, medium format gear and to that end perhaps one of the best options that I’d recommend for photographers who shoot landscapes seriously in the 35mm format. With the right ballhead, it’s something that rivals and in many ways bests the quality of some of the top end Vanguard tripods.

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Review: Holdfast Gear Money Maker Solo Strap

The Holdfast Gear Money Maker Solo is the stripped down version of their well designed Money Maker.

With the Holdfast Gear Money Maker Solo, photographers are getting the closest thing that the company will ever make to a BlackRapid strap. Like many of the company’s other products, it oozes with quality and well made materials. With the Money Maker Solo originally designed for the photographers who bring two big cameras with them, the Holdfast Gear Money Maker Solo is more so designed with a single camera in mind. But in terms of implementation, it sometimes falls short. I genuinely think that if Holdfast fused their Maven and the Holdfast Gear Money Maker Solo together, they’d create a strap that is pretty much unbeatable.

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New Drobo 8D Includes Thunderbolt 3 and Intelligent Volume Management

Drobo 8D is The First Product From Drobo Since Its Acquisition by StorCentric

During a behind-closed-doors meeting earlier this year at PhotoPlus Expo, we got to sit down with Drobo’s Chief Technology Officer Rod Harrison to learn about the brand new Drobo 8D Direct Attached Storage (DAS) that the company just officially announced today. Designed with creative professionals in mind, the Drobo 8D DAS is a very easy to operate, nearly plug and play Direct Attached Storage device that features impressive performance while ensuring ease of use for creatives who may not have a background in managing enterprise level storage devices. The 8D is also the first Drobo product to have Intelligent Volume Management built in, supporting a maximum volume size of 128TB, and is also the first 8 Bay Drobo device to include an SSD Accelerator Bay for Hot Data Caching. The Drobo 8D is the first new product from the company after it was acquired by StorCentric, and reflects the parent company’s commitment to building world-class, customer-centric storage products. We look forward to reviewing the Drobo 8D as soon as review units are available. Full press release after the jump.

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Review: SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD (1TB)

The SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD is a super fast external SSD card for the photographer on the go.

In my time using the SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD, I’ve learned just how incredibly fast technology and transfer rates have become. Despite being satisfied with my 2015 MacBook Pro and iMac computers, their Thunderbolt ports were always more than adequate for me. But when using the SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD and recently moving gigabytes of data between computers, I saw first hand at just how fast a few gigabytes could be transferred. It floored me, and for the photographer who needs those types of speeds all the time, the SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD is a great data storage solution.

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Review: Loupedeck+ Brings Improvements Over the Original Version

Loupedeck+ promises to make photo editing faster and more intuitive.

For many professional photographers, post processing is an integral part of their workflow. While I prefer to get as much done in camera as possible, knowing what I’m able to pull out of my RAW files during post production has allowed me to shoot under some less than ideal situations and still produce deliverable work to clients. This doesn’t mean I necessarily enjoy sitting in front of my computer working in Adobe Lightroom Classic CC or Capture One any more than I have to. Given the choice, I’d rather be out and about clicking my shutter rather than clicking away on my keyboard or dragging sliders around with my mouse. This is where the Loupedeck+ comes in, with the promise of cutting down editing time and making the process more intuitive.

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Moment Delivers Photography Accessories for Brand New Google Pixel 3

Moment’s got you covered with photography accessories for the brand new Google Pixel 3 and Google Pixel 3 XL.

Google announced the brand new Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL smartphones earlier today, and Moment is releasing brand new photography accessories for smartphone photographers looking to upgrade to the new Android devices. As part of this release, Moment is introducing new photo cases, lenses, and the Moment Pro Camera app for Android.

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Review: WhiteWall Acrylic Mini Prints (a Pretty Unique Way of Showcasing Your Work)

If you’re a fan of the way Instagram displays your images, I think you’ll like how the WhiteWall Acrylic Mini process can make them manifest.

Long time readers of the Phoblographer will know about how much I value prints. With the WhiteWall Acrylic Mini I was given the opportunity to try something completely new. WhiteWall is an industry standard when it comes to printing photos. Great customer service and fantastic quality leads lots of photographers to trust them for higher end work. With the WhiteWall Acrylic Mini prints, photographers get the ability to create rectangles or squares–perfect for most photographers. They aren’t the largest prints by any means, but I decided to do something very Instagram-style with the WhiteWall Acrylic Mini prints.

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Review: Gitzo Traveler Alpha Tripod and L Bracket (Sony FE Cameras)

The Gitzo Traveler Alpha tripod was designed specifically for Sony FE cameras, and it works well with them.

I never thought a tripod could be specifically designed for a certain camera series, but indeed the Gitzo Traveler Alpha Tripod is exactly that for Sony FE series cameras. The design has to do specifically with the plate which accommodates Sony FE cameras as long as they have a native FE lens on them. It was also designed to work in part with an L bracket on the Sony camera. With the L bracket attached, the camera becomes easier and faster to switch from horizontal to vertical mode. This way, you don’t need to manipulate the ball head. While it’s well built, I’m not sure it’s worth a price of just under $1,000.

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Review: Irix Edge Neutral Density ND32000 (Used with the IRIX 15mm f2.4 FireFly)

Playing with the IRIX 15 Stop ND filter was one of the most interesting experiences I’ve had.

After reviewing two of their lenses, the folks at IRIX sent me the Irix Edge Neutral Density ND32000 for review; and the experience of using it became one involving a better understanding of the environment around me, settings, the weather, etc. Yes, that’s right–it cuts out 15 stops of light. With an ND filter like this, a photographer can shoot with their camera on a tripod and not need to stop their lens down a whole lot. Instead, they can shoot at f4, f5.6, etc. While it’s very tempting to sometimes shoot at incredibly long exposures too, the photographer using the IRIX 15 Stop ND Filter should be incredibly aware of their environments. While that may sound like common sense, it’s a situation that baffled photographers who have been shooting for even longer than me.

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Adapter Review: Fringer EF-FX Pro (Tested on the Fujifilm X Pro 2)

The Fringer EF-FX Pro adapter has a whole lot going for it.

Adapting DSLR lenses of all kinds to your mirrorless camera has long been one of the coolest things about going mirrorless. It has also made that process of transferring from an old DSLR system to a newer mirrorless one that much easier of a process for a lot of photographers. The caveat being that the majority of these adapters are just dummy adapters, meaning they hold the lens in the right spot, but there is no AF or electronic communication to the camera.

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Review: Stroppa Flat Camera Strap (So Gorgeous, Yet So Simple)

With the Stroppa Flat Camera Strap, you’ve got an option that is bound to stand out.

I’ve always been more of a leather and canvas guy when it comes to my camera straps, but after I was given the Stroppa Flat Camera strap I was pleasantly surprised. The material looks like a lighter version of the sailing rope style bindings that you’d find at Home Depot, but this is softer and quite durable. The Stroppa Flat Camera strap isn’t exactly low profile depending on what color you get. I was given both black and red; the red is arguably the more stylish of the two. For the photographer who doesn’t want leather or canvas, the Stroppa Flat Camera strap could be an affordable and versatile option.

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Review: BenQ SW240 Monitor for Photographers

The BenQ SW240 is the company’s latest affordable option for the photographer; but how is it?

Only a couple of years ago a high-end monitor with a built-in calibration and profile system which was also capable of displaying the entire Adobe RGB (1998) gamut cost serious money. And then BenQ upended that game with the SW series monitors. If you are in the market for a high-performance monitor, performance wise the BenQ SW models are right up there with the Eizo ColorEdge and NEC PA monitors but cost substantially less.

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Review: Cub and Co XQR Strap and Camera Bag System

The Cub and Co XQR system is one that I’m not totally sure I know how to wrap my head around.

I’ve often been a big fan of the things that Cub and Co does, but with the new Cub and Co XQR system I’m scratching my head. This is a product that I’m not exactly sure I understand though I will fully admit that there are things about it that make it innovative and much different from everything else out there. For that, Joel and the folks at Cub and Co should be applauded. But as far as usefulness goes, I’m not exactly sure that I can condone using a system like this.

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Review: MeFOTO Roadtrip Leather Edition Tripod (a Gorgeous Tripod for the Landscape Photographer)

The MeFOTO Roadtrip Leather Edition is a fine accessory for the photographer looking for some spice in their gear.

It was a little while back that I started seeing leather, wood, and old school aluminum incorporated into photo gear with Cokin’s offerings. But the new MeFOTO Roadtrip Leather Edition takes that and adds even more practicality to the design. We’ve previously reviewed the MeFOTO Roadtrip tripod and thoroughly enjoyed it. With the new MeFOTO Roadtrip Leather Edition tripod there is even more to love. The design seems updated to provide even more versatility. Does it completely change the game? Not really, but it surely adds more flavor to the world of tripods–and monopods!

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Review: TerraMaster D5-300C Hard Drive Bay

Is the TerraMaster D5-300C really a fantastic budget option for photographers?

Just as rent and transit fares are ever increasing, so too are the size of the raw files created by the latest cameras. This is a fact of life that we as content creators have to contend with on a daily basis. You can never have too much storage, but you may have some hard drives laying around collecting dust, and the TerraMaster D5-300C may just be the right DAS (Direct Attached Storage) device to put them to good use.

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Review: LaCie 2big Dock Thunderbolt 3 (The Dock Photographers Need)

The LaCie 2big Dock Thunderbolt 3 is an elegant local storage solution for content creators with deep pockets

With the advent of cameras with ever increasing megapixel counts, never before have content creators been faced with the challenge of managing and maintaining such vast amounts of data. This is especially challenging for photographers and videographers who work primarily from their laptops. Laptops tend to be lacking in storage space unless you’ve got deep enough pockets to afford one with a large hard disk/solid state drive. It’s not uncommon to see content creators juggling multiple external hard drives, stacking them up on their desks like oversized decks of playing cards, plugging them in as needed to retrieve or archive photos/footage. This process can be quite a hassle, especially if you don’t remember where you stored a particular file. LaCie’s 2big Dock Thunderbolt 3 aims to be an all-in-one solution for content creation professionals to both ingest and store all of their valuable data in one compact, minimal package.

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Review: HP zBook X2 Tablet for Creative Professionals

The HP zBook X2 marks the company’s attempt to really target creatives. And they’re not doing a terrible job!

When the HP zBook X2 was announced, I was pretty excited and had hopes that it would send a message to Apple. And over my month or so of using the HP zBook X2, I grew less and less tolerant of it vs the Apple ecosystem that I’ve been embedded in for almost 10 years. But it honestly doesn’t have a lot to do with the way HP designed the tablet. The HP zBook X2 is a very good machine in and of itself; but the problem has more to do with Lightroom and Photoshop — the two apps they’re really talking about when it comes to working with photographers.

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