Review: Tamron 90mm f/2.8 SP Di MACRO 1:1 VC USD (Canon EF)

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Tamron 90mm f2.8 VC product images (1 of 8)ISO 2001-50 sec at f - 1.0

Tamron recently refreshed their 90mm Macro lens to include VC–the company’s vibration compensation/image stabilization. We saw it perform very admirably in their new 24-70mm f2.8 lens and so naturally we went into the 90mm f/2.8 SP Di MACRO 1:1 VC USD review with high expectations. Prime lenses like this are known for their high image quality, but macro lenses are designed to be even sharper for the simple reason that many may stop down quite a bit in order to get subjects in focus.

Editor’s Note: in a previous version of this article, we stated that there is no weather sealing. After talking to Tamron, we learned that there is. We apologize for the confusion.

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Creating the Photograph: Simeon Quarrie’s “Until Your Love Frees Me”


Editor’s Note: Creating the Photograph is a new series that we’re starting where we interview photographers all about the photo that they shot and talk to them about how it was achieved. The results are some knowledge passed onto you. Want to be featured? Email chrisgampat[at]thephoblographer[dot]com

We found Simeon Quarrie via Profoto’s Twitter, and fell in love with some of his work. He primarily works in the wedding photography world, but his own vision and approach is closer to commercial and fashion photography. He is now becoming recognized more in the commercial world and the photo above really demonstrates his creative vision.

Here’s his story. And if you’re interested check out more in our Creating the Photograph series.

lens rental

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How They Photographed the Giant Squid


“Had its feeding tentacles been in tact, it would have been as large as a two story house,” says Edith Widdler.

DIY Photography has an excellent piece right now featuring how a Marine Biologist captured high res imagery of the Giant Squid. Scientist Edith Widder did a TED talk years ago about how the world can study animals by attracting them rather than scaring them away, and she applied her theories to this expedition which proved successful. Particularly, Ms. Widder uses non-motorized cameras, because the sound would perhaps scare the creature away back into the depths. Then there was an LED bait involved which made the creature get accustomed to the light. The light was designed to simulate a bioluminescent light that is similar to a call for help–which attracted it. Eventually, the team shone large lights on it and were able to capture much better images.

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“There’s Too Many Cameras on the Market”

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon Rebel T5i product images (1 of 9)ISO 4001-30 sec at f - 2.8

There is a video that will probably go slightly viral and is currently on the top of Reddit’s Photography section, with a rant from a man that is clearly saying there are too many cameras on the market. Amongst the complaints are the fact that both Canon and Nikon have updated last year with lots of new cameras and the fact that him and other people are confused about the new features and which one they should get. We’ve debated the video back and forth in staff emails and while some of us see this as just a troll, there is a lot more behind it than the man’s demeanor.

I’m a former employee of B&H Photo Video Pro Audio and not only did I have to deal with consumers, but other co-workers who had no idea what they should get. People that should have a Rebel instead go for a 5D Mk III for example and people that should be purchasing a mirrorless camera are instead getting a DSLR simply for the Canon or Nikon name. And the major problem is that there isn’t enough clear education on what someone should get or how the features can be used to make one a better photo snapper or a photographer. And to add to this problem, last year we saw a major flood of new products for the simple reason that no one released anything major the year prior due to the natural distasters that took place in Japan and Taiwan.

Many photographers have trouble focusing on shooting when new gear is constantly being released. With today’s tech, we are conditioned/pressured to thinking that we need the newest gear to get the best photos possible. While many of us know this is not true (coming from a guy that just sold his original 5D), there are people out there that are more interested in the gear than the process of creating photographs.

Either way, check out the video below–it’s surely a source of some good conversation. For the record, to this day I still receive loads of emails and Facebook messages asking similar questions that this video incites.

Mike Pouliot contributed to the creation of this post

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Review: RoundFlash Ring Flash Attachment for Speedlites

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer RoundFlash product images (6 of 8)ISO 2001-250 sec at f - 5.6

RingFlashes are used by many photographers and are primarily responsible for getting two different types of looks. One can either try to achieve a look typical of what Terry Richardson is famous for (with harsh shadows) or when matched with the appropriate shutter speed and ISO setting, it can render a totally shadowless look. One thing that these modifiers are also praised for are the ring shape they leave in a subject’s eyes.

We reviewed the first version of the RoundFlash before; and though it gave us some excellent results, it had its caveats. Toward the end of last year, the company refreshed the product with some minor upgrades.

To say the least, this is the ring flash modifier that could replace all the rest.

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Scott “The Sartorialist” Schuman Interviews Steve McCurry

Steve McCurry is an influencer and inspiration to many of us: and recently we learned that he inspires Scott Schuman–a man that is an inspiration to me personally. In the video, the two talk about finding the light–and observing natural light to create the best images. Steve has also shown off nearly every single one of the photos from his last roll of Kodachrome, though both myself and photographer Bill Wadman are wondering why not everything was shown.

In the photo community, Steve is far more famous than Scott. However, Scott’s domain is the fashion world. He left his day job as an Editor to take care of his child and so also started the Sartorialist–one of the best fashion blogs currently out there. In terms of street photography, street portraiture, and an overall business model–Scott has been a huge inspiration to me since leaving my own day job.

This is only Part 1 of the video series, and Part 2 is yet to come.

Most of the Photos from Steve McCurry’s Last Roll of Kodachrome Are Now Live


Recently, there was a documentary on Steve McCurry’s last roll of Kodachrome done by National Geographic. But thanks to the clever pointing out of On Taking Pictures, we now have a view of nearly ever single photo that Steve shot on the last roll. When you really get down to it, you start to not only see a culmination of all that he’s shot, but you get to study his mentality a bit more. For example, Robert DeNiro is the only celebrity to grace the roll twice. But then you get into the Bollywood stars and lots of the special people in India that Steve loved to photograph. A lot of these photos are posed portraits using lots of soft lighting that also seem very natural.

Keep going through the images though, and you’ll see a return to Steve’s documentary and street photography work. They’re quite nice and McCurry is an inspiration to nearly anyone out there.

Via On Taking Pictures

Review: Fujifilm X-E1

The X-E1 Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera is an interesting take by Fujifilm on the EVF cameras that have been dominating the mirrorless category for a couple of years now. Since the mirrorless camera by nature does not allow for a true through-the-lens viewfinder, if manufacturers wanted to put a viewfinder on the camera they had to used an electronic one. That is, until the Fuji X100 came along. (I’m leaving digital rangefinders out of this statement because they are not the same thing as a mirrorless camera although they are functionally similar).

While technically a compact professional camera, the Fujifilm X100 was such a game-changer that Fuji expanded upon that camera with a few more fixed lens models before finally releasing the Fuji X-Pro1 Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera in 2012 based on that same innovative Hybrid Viewfinder that wowed so many of us in 2011. The combination of interchangeable lenses with that unique viewfinder proved to be a mighty force in the camera world and has proved to be a decent seller despite the apparently steep introductory price tag.

With so many people crying again for a better EVF for use in manual focusing and with legacy lenses, Fuji has responded promptly with the Fujifilm X-E1 Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera. This is all very interesting of course, but the real question stands, does it hold it’s own against its predecessors and really compete with its contemporaries?

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Review: Lensbaby Spark


It’s called the Lensbaby Spark and it is a fascinating little lens. Weird, yet cool lenses have been popping up a lot in the past few years. The Spark, a lens referred to as a gateway drug to Lensbaby gear, is one of those lenses. It is affordable, fascinatingly built, and so much fun to play with. After my first impressions with it, I put it through its paces, and there’s much more to it than meets the eye. Lenses like these can be brilliant if you put some time and effort into them. Let’s see what the Lensbaby spark is all about.


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Review: Sony A99


We’ve been working with the Sony A99 for around a month now after having played with it a lot during the Media Excursion out in California. Though our experiences are a little different than what they were before, the Sony A99 still represents the premium of what Sony currently has to offer for the professional and high end enthusiast. In many ways, the A99 is really quite an awesome camera and even almost made me switch systems. However, it still wasn’t quite there.


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Review: Sony 50mm f1.4 (First Version, Tested on the A99)

Though, this shouldn’t really be called a nifty 50 lens, the size of it almost qualifies it as one. The Sony 50mm f1.4 is an extremely small lens with very good performance. Sony announced that it will be one of the first lenses to use their AF-D focusing system; which means that it can track a subject very well through a frame. At least for the moment, this seem to be a lens that every Sony photographer should have in their camera bag for the overall versatility and just how good the lens can actually be. Hopefully though, the newer version of the lens with Zeiss branding.

We spent a period of around a month with the lens, and here’s what we found.

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Review: MS-Optical Sonnetar 50mm f1.1 for Leica M

The MS-Optical Sonnetar 50/1.1 on the Leica M8. The lens is surprisingly small for its focal length and speed.

The Sonnetar 50mm f1.1 for Leica M is the latest lens design by Mr. Miyazaki from Japan, the man who brought us the 35mm f3.5 and 28mm f4 “Perar” pancake lenses before. The Sonnetar is not a pancake, but still not large either considering its speed. Based on the classic Sonnar design by Zeiss, the Sonnetar manages to be fast and compact at the same time. As with all MS-Optical lenses, it is designed and assembled by only one person, which is why it comes in limited numbers only. I had the opportunity to take a closer look at a pre-production unit of this unique lens.


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Photokina 2012 Report — Part 5: Leica, Hasselblad and Voigtländer

Wait, what? A Ferrari? What does this have to do with photokina? Well, nothing, except that Hasselblad had one at their stand. Yup, a real, proper Ferrari.

First off, let me apologize. This post was meant to be up yesterday. However, since my laptop decided to break down, I couldn’t work on it. So it comes one day late. So without further ado, this is part five of or photokina 2012 report. Featured today: the new Leica M and Leica M-E, the Leica X2 Paul Smith edition and à la carte, the Hasselblad Lunatic Lunar and the Voigtländer 21mm f1.8 lens for Leica M.

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The Phoblographer’s Guide to All the Stuff that Sony’s Unicorn’s Vomitted Today

We know that today’s announcements can be a tad bit overwhelming. Heck, it was overwhelming on the news team to get all this stuff to you today. But we did the job, so here’s the skinny:

– Sony announced the new RX1 point and shoot camera with a full frame sensor and a 35mm f2 fixed lens made by Carl Zeiss. We’ve got a news post with all the specs that you care about, and I had some personal fondling time with the camera too.

– The Sony NEX 6 was also true. Indeed, it is a step in between the NEX 7 and NEX 5R. So if you want something in between and if Sony’s menu system drives you bonkers, this may be the one for you. We’ve got all the news and our first impressions ready for you.

– We didn’t really think it was possible, but the Sony VG900 camcorder is the world’s first E-Mount camcorder with a full frame sensor. In fact, when you put a full frame lens on there, there is no cropping at all. We’ve got a news post explaining the technology and our first impressions too.

Sony’s A99 has been much anticipated. And today, the company is announcing their challenger to the Canon 5D Mk III and Nikon D800. The new camera features a 24.3MP full frame sensor and is smaller than all the direct competition. We’ve got a news post and our first impressions/thoughts.

– Not to be outdone in the lighting department, but the company also announced a new flash, and it seems very nice.

From the viewpoint of a technology journalist that has been in the industry and seen it change over the years, 2012 has to be the most exciting year that I’ve seen so far in the world of photography. Last year, we had earthquakes and other natural disasters cause a ton of havoc. And this year, we’re starting to see companies like Sony come in and innovate. Though we will hold our judgements for the final reviews, it goes without saying that the world is looking at Sony now and that the era of the big two may be over sooner or later.

Long Term Review: Canon 5D Mark III

The Canon 5D Mark III is one of the most highly anticipated cameras ever released. The 5D Mark II has been a workhorse of a camera for many wedding and portrait photographers, but has also been maligned by these same photographers for the shortcomings. With it came some incremental upgrades to address the Mk II’s supposed shortcomings as well as adding on some other features.

In the end though, is it right for you? More importantly, is it worth the upgrade from the 5D Mk II?

Editor’s Note: This review has been done over the period of a couple of months. Additional contributing was done by Thomas Campbell and Thursten Kent.


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Cheap Photo: Some of These Are Deals, Some Are Just Drool Worthy

Today we’ve got a couple of pretty cool offers for you. I’m not going to sit here and lie to you like every other blogger or marketing rep does and say that these are deals. But I will say that these are cool. Just also a quick reminder that all purchases help to support the site and pay our server bill (which is immense now).

– The JVC GC-XA1 ADIXXION camera is almost like a GoPro, but they’re marketing it with more highly fashioned photoshopping. It is around $349.

MacBook Pro Retinas are in stock too at B&H Photo

PocketWizard Plus III Transceivers are also available. You should really check out our review before you purchase though.

– The Sigma SD1 Merrill is enjoying a discount as well for $300 savings.

– The Fujifilm F800EXR is also available for pre-order

– The Canon 60D is currently available with a value bundle

– So is the T3i

– The price has been shaved off of this MacBook Pro bundle as well.

– The Canon 7D is being sold refurbished (which are often better than brand new in my experience)

– PhotoWhoa has a current deal on a Natural Light Portraiture DVD by Steve Bedell


The Photographer’s Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos

BetterPhoto Basics: The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Taking Photos Like a Pro

The Photographer’s Mind: Creative Thinking for Better Digital Photos

The Photographer’s Vision: Understanding and Appreciating Great Photography

Within the Frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision

Michael Freeman’s Perfect Exposure: The Professional’s Guide to Capturing Perfect Digital Photographs

Photography and the Art of Seeing: A Visual Perception Workshop for Film and Digital Photography

Review: Sony NEX F3

We were very, very impressed with the Sony NEX C3 and when we had our hands on experience with it, both Peter and I were very impressed with its successor, the Sony NEX F3. I’ve spent almost a month shooting with the camera and have warmed up to the 30mm f3.5 vs the kit lens.

Combining elements of the older C3 and its bigger brother the NEX 5n, the F3 attempts to give more to the entry level camera user. But is it enough?

Editor’s Note: Take a look at our other posts previously written and hyperlinked in the first paragraph.

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Review: Fujifilm X Pro 1

Editor’s Note: As of July 2013, Fujifilm continues to deliver regular firmware updates to this camera and our findings have vastly changed. All findings are in bold and italicized.

We’ve reviewed the Sony NEX 7 and the Olympus OMD EM5. While we’ve had a very in-depth first impressions review with the X Pro 1 before, we’ve now also finally finished the review of the extremely sought after camera. Before I go on, I need to make a transparent remark that I bought one with a 35mm f1.4 at a rate that I couldn’t turn down. And so far, I haven’t regretted the purchase.

But does it stand up to it’s, “Pro” designation?

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Review: Pentax K-01

There is a lot to be said for a company that tries something different and that changes something we are fundamentally familiar with. From a geeky point of view, this is what Pentax did with the K-01. They made us scratch our heads with what they consider a hybrid camera. Easily, the Pentax-DA 40mm f2.8 XS Lens is the best kit lens I’ve ever used. I love my 40mm f2.8 macro on my Nikon and the difference between the two was speed. The Pentax lens was faster and had macro capabilities. Because of its size I thought would have manual focusing issues but this lens proved me wrong. Continue reading…