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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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)

post processing

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+

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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