Review: Haida Red-Diamond 3 Stop Soft-Edge Graduated ND Filter

Landscape photographers on the market for a reliable graduated ND filter should check out Haida’s Red-Diamond 3 Stop Soft-Edge Graduated ND Filter

When photographing long exposure landscapes, a common challenge many photographers encounter is the drastic difference between the amount of light in the sky and below the horizon. This is where filters like the Haida Red-Diamond 3 Stop Soft-Edge Graduated ND Filter come in handy. Soft, graduated neutral density filters allow you to expose for the darker areas of your frame without blowing out what’s in the sky.

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Review: Haida Red-Diamond 10 Stop ND 100x100mm Filter

Photographers shooting long exposures in brightly lit conditions will want to check out the Haida Red-Diamond 10 Stop ND 100x100mm Filter.

We’ve been testing the Haida 10 Stop Red-Diamond ND 100x100mm Filters (3.0/1000x Density) alongside their M10 Filter Holder System. Neutral Density filters are great for architectural, landscape, and travel photography, especially when shooting long exposures during daylight hours. ND filters help to prevent your images from being totally blown out when shooting long exposures in brightly lit conditions. They essentially serve as sunglasses for your cameras, helping to cut down the amount of light that reaches your camera sensor.

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Review: Haida M10 Filter Holder System (A Quick & Modular Solution)

The Haida M10 Filter Holder System is a modular way for photographers to quickly and easily attach/detach and swap in a variety of different filters

During last year’s PhotoPlus Expo, we were introduced to Chinese filter manufacturer Haida and their brand new M10 Filter Holder System. Neutral density filters play an integral role for photographers particularly specializing in landscape, architecture, and travel photography. If you find yourself shooting with a variety of different lenses regularly, chances are most of these lenses will have different filter threads. ND filters aren’t cheap, and buying filters in multiple densities for various threads can put a huge dent in your wallet very quickly. Filter systems like the Haida M10 system are a much more cost-efficient way to go, allowing you to adapt a set of filters across a variety of filter threads.

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Peripheral Review: LaCie Rugged SSD Pro (This Thing Is a Speed Demon!)

Photographers on the go who need of hyper-fast, darn tough external storage will want to consider the LaCie Rugged SSD Pro.

When the LaCie Rugged SSD Pro arrived for review, our expectations for the Thunderbolt 3 equipped external SSD were high. We previously reviewed LaCie’s non-pro version of the Rugged SSD (which utilizes USB-C rather than Thunderbolt 3) and were impressed by its performance and durability. Thunderbolt 3 has four times the maximum throughput of USB-C (40 Gbps vs 10 Gbps), so it stands to reason that the performance gains of the LaCie Rugged SSD Pro over its non-pro counterpart would be significant. Does the addition of Thunderbolt 3 justify the US $100 MSRP premium though?

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Peripheral Review: LaCie Rugged SSD (For Photographers On The Go)

The LaCie Rugged SSD is a speedy and robust portable option for photographers on the go in need of fast and reliable external storage

When LaCie sent over their Rugged SSD for us to test out, the opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time. As a photographer that’s constantly traveling from one assignment to the next, I spend as much time working remotely on location (if not more so) than I do working from my office. Thanks to their speedy performance, Solid State Drives have become an invaluable part of my on-location workflow, which involves my having to juggle tons of mission-critical client files. Importing, managing, and backing up thousands of raw and finished images along with plenty of Capture One sessions to boot can take a long time, so every second saved goes a long way.

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Monitor Review: BenQ SW270C 27 Inch Monitor for Photographers

The BenQ SW270C Photo Editing Monitor is an affordable option that combines accurate color reproduction and large screen real estate.

For a long time, photographers that do high-end printing or those working with images that have to accurately reproduce colors (such as product, fashion, or beauty photography for example) had to shell out serious moolah for professional-grade color-accurate monitors from companies like Eizo. These monitors are often prohibitively expensive, with price tags that easily rivaled the cost of some flagship camera bodies on the market.

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Review: MOAB Entrada 300 (The Darling of Black and White Photography)

MOAB Entrada 300 makes black and white photos look great.

Printing is still a large part of running the Phoblographer, and MOAB Entrada 300 is a fascinating paper to us in many ways. Most matte papers we test have some sort of texture to them, but MOAB Entrada 300 is an oddity in this way as it is a smooth matte paper. The result is a loss of detail when compared to something like a luster or a glossy print. MOAB Entrada 300 instead has the look of something almost like Red River Palo Duro papers, which are designed to emulate the look of the darkroom. In this case, MOAB Entrada 300 is for a photographer who really liked black and white. More importantly, it’s for the person printing an image who doesn’t know where they want to place it. To that end, it’s excellent for displaying it anywhere in your home.

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Review: Vi Vante Bengal Unleashed Lambskin Leather Camera Wrist Strap

The Vi Vante Bengal Unleashed Lambskin Leather Camera Wrist Strap is a stylish option that’s soft to the touch and incredibly practical.

For fashion-forward photographers in search of a new wrist strap for their cameras, Vi Vante’s Bengal Unleashed wrist strap may be just what they’re looking for. Made of ultra-soft lambskin leather, the Vi Vante Bengal Unleashed camera wrist strap is one of the most comfortable wrist straps I’ve tried to date. Whether you’re looking to upgrade from the ho-hum camera strap included with your camera, or prefer the lower profile nature of wrist straps over traditional neck straps, the Vi Vante Bengal Unleashed Lambskin Leather Camera Wrist Strap is worth considering.

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Review: Vi Vante Tread Classic Camera Strap

The Vi Vante Tread Classic Camera Strap is for only the most stylish photographer.

After using the Vi Vante Tread Classic Camera Strap for a month or so, I’ve come to the conclusion it’s for the stylish photographer. It has its practicalities, but it’s less functional than much of what Vi Vante has in their lineup. The Vi Vante Tread Classic Camera Strap is for the photographer who first and foremost wants to flex their style, evident in many aspects of the design. From the flat profile intended to provide comfort to the red threads that run through it, the Vi Vante Tread Classic is a strap that oozes with allure. And to be honest, I’m perfectly okay with that.

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Review: Amber (A Personal Hybrid Cloud Device for Photographers)

LatticeWork enters the crowded hybrid cloud storage market with the introduction of their new Amber Personal Hybrid Cloud Storage Device

As photographers, the issue of where to store our images is an age-old challenge going back to the analog days of prints and negatives. While the shift to digital meant that most of our images now exist virtually, we live in an age where everyone has a camera in their pockets. The ever-increasing megapixel count has resulted in the continued growth of raw file sizes. Earlier this summer, we were introduced to a new NAS (network-attached storage) device called Amber from Silicon Valley-based startup LatticeWork. As the company’s cheeky marketing claims, Amber is not just “another pain in the NAS.” It aims to be a simple to set up and easy to manage hybrid cloud storage solution that leverages Artificial Intelligence to help keep everything organized and easily accessible. There are two versions of Amber available. Amber One comes equipped with a pair of 1 TB hard drives, while Amber Plus doubles the capacity of the included hard drives. For this review, we evaluated an Amber One, which was provided to us by LatticeWork. Storage capacity aside, Amber One and Amber Plus are functionally identical. Curious to know how it fared under real-world conditions?

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Paper Review: MOAB Juniper Baryta Rag (This Is Something Special)

When using MOAB Juniper Baryta Rag, we were shocked at how different it is. 

For a long time, I didn’t like much of what MOAB put out in terms of paper. But MOAB Juniper Baryta Rag really changed my mind. It is different from much of the other papers from Red River, Canon, and Epson in a few ways. For starters, this paper has a warmer color while it maintains a white look. MOAB Juniper Baryta Rag is a semi-gloss paper with a contrasty look. As a standard, we tend to use Canon Pro Semi-Gloss papers, but MOAB Juniper Baryta Rag is a pleasing alternative considering that many folks tend to find their printed images look too cold. And so if you’re not calibrating your printer and your screen often, or sharing the profiles with one another, then MOAB Juniper Baryta Rag could save you some extra work in post-production.

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Review: GNARBOX 2.0 (An Almost-Perfect Drive for Travel Photography)

Although it doesn’t yet feel like a finalized product the GNARBOX 2.0 has steadily improved since we began testing it.

While reviewing the GNARBOX 2.0, we discussed our experiences with influencers, photographers, and other members of the press. We have one big thing in common: we travel all the time, and editing on the go is an annoying process. But the GNARBOX 2.0 is trying to solve that issue by helping photographers integrate their editing into the cloud as that’s where things are headed for photographers. But for a segment of us, I don’t believe things are quite there yet. If you’re a user of Adobe Lightroom Mobile and a few other apps, GNARBOX 2.0’s apps will integrate with them and allow for simple, on-the-go editing. But photographers can also use the file and folder system within iOS (if you’re still loyal to the ghost of Steve Jobs). Still though, editing from an iPad Pro isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. More importantly, if you’re more used to using Capture One Pro, you’re going to need to edit on a laptop anyway. And after conversations with a ton of other creatives and testers, I’m unconvinced that GNARBOX 2.0 is ready for market.

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Review: Wacom Intuos Pro Creative Pen Tablet – Small

photography accessories

The Wacom Intuos Pro Small is a powerful tool perfect for creators and photo editors with limited space. 

Wacom has been synonymous with producing tablets for media creators for a long time now, and there is no doubt that their tablets can make editing photographs much easier in post-production. The company introduced their new Pro line of tablets in 2017, but only recently released the new Wacom Intuos Pro Small model. This tablet offers the main features found in the larger models but in a fun-sized, lower-priced package. After the break, we will share our experience with the tablet and let you know if this small package can deliver significant results. Continue reading…

Gear Review: X-Rite ColorChecker Passport Photo 2

X-Rite’s ColorChecker Passport Photo 2 is a reliable and valuable tool for photographers working with accurate color workflows.

Most modern digital cameras do an excellent job of reproducing the colors of the real world. However, there is arguably still some room for improvement. Most modern sensors only record red, green, and blue, and must interpolate the rest of the colors. Certain workflows, such as those implemented when photographing products or fashion for high-end commercial clients, demand accurate and consistent colors. This is where the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport Photo 2 comes in. The X-Rite ColorChecker Passport Photo 2 works with their ColorChecker Camera Calibration software. They claim it to be a reliable tool to help photographers create accurate reference images under any lighting condition. But here’s the big question: do you really need it?

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Review: Vi Vante Sheetline Luxury Black Rope Neck Strap

The Vi Vante Sheetline Luxury Black Rope Neck Strap is soft to the touch and incredibly practical.

When I was sent the Vi Vante Matador Noir camera strap I was also shipped the Vi Vante Sheetline Luxury Black Rope Neck Strap–which in many ways is the little sibling of the higher end strap. At a more affordable price point, the Vi Vante Sheetline offers much of the same durability and comfort as its leather counterpart. However, it’s softer and more comfortable as a result of their efforts with the use of rope. By far, this is some of the softest rope I’ve used and felt in a camera strap. It beats the heck out of your standard camera strap’s texture while maintaining a low key appearance. For the stealthy photographer, the Vi Vante Sheetline could be the best option on the market.

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Review: LaCie 2big RAID (the Answer to a Photographer’s Storage Woes)

LaCie’s 2big RAID is a secure, easy to use solution for photographers and content creators in need of extra local storage.

Thanks to raw files ballooning in size from the never-ending megapixel war camera manufacturers have waged, photographers have had to deal with storage issues. 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 poorly organized, never adequately 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.

For this review, we tested the 8TB model of the LaCie 2big RAID. 4TB and 16TB options are also available, and all of the models within the LaCie 2big RAID family are functionally identical save for the difference in storage capacity. And to be honest, there isn’t a lot for photographers to complain about.

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First Impressions: Amber Personal Hybrid Cloud Storage Device

Amber by LatticeWork sets itself apart from competing for hybrid cloud storage devices with the help of Artificial Intelligence.

We discovered the Amber One and Amber Plus AI-powered hybrid cloud storage devices from LatticeWork–which are designed 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 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)

Photographers who enjoy introducing creative, in-camera effects and light distortions will find lots to love about Lensbaby’s OMNI Creative Filter System.

Any photographers who 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; you have to hold your camera with one hand while manipulating these modifiers with the other. Lensbaby’s OMNI Creative filter System aims to simplify this experience and make creating these in-camera effects less complicated and a 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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Review: Fotopro EGL-65 Carbon Eagle Series Tripod (E-6H Gimbal Head)

Fotopro EGL-65

The Fotopro EGL-65 Eagle Series tripod and the E-6H gimbal head are serious pieces of kit that will serve you well, but you’ll pay a pretty penny for them.

When we go to buy cameras and lenses we barely bat an eye when it comes to dropping over four figures on new gear, but when we think about buying accessories such as tripods, the thought of spending that much probably sends shivers down one’s spine. At the end of the day though you have to keep in mind that the new camera and lens setup you purchased for untold thousands of dollars might at some point be supported by a tripod–so getting a good quality one that you can trust is a must. The Fotopro EGL-65 carbon fiber tripod along with the E-6H gimbal head have been designed with the pro photographer in mind. This tripod from Fotopro doesn’t really change anything when it comes tripods and their basic form and functions, but what they have done is elevate, and refine almost everything a tripod can do to heights I’ve not seen before.

But is the Fotopro EGL-65 Eagle Series Carbon Fiber tripod with gimbal head a setup that you should seriously consider investing over $1,000 in?

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Review: Vi Vante Matador Noir (The Only Strap You’ll Ever Need)

The Vi Vante Matador Noir isn’t really a luxury camera strap; but more of a well built, nearly unbreakable option.

I didn’t really understand the Vi Vante Matador Noir camera strap until I held it. Then my dad, who was visiting my while I was sick, really understood it too. The former UN diplomat in him is almost as discerning as I am, but he completely understood why someone would spend $250 on a strap like this. The thing about leather straps is that they’re already pricey–and often the sailing rope and canvas straps can serve just as well. But what the Vi Vante Matador Noir is combines the best of both worlds. Is it expensive? Yes. But this is genuinely the only strap you’ll ever need.

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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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