Review: The UltraPod II Portable Camera Tripod

This is a clever little desktop tripod. The UltraPod II, from Industrial Revolution, was not sent to me by a vendor to test; it was purchased by accident. This little tripod was a pleasant surprise. It’s built to hold cameras like the Nikon D7000 or the Canon 60D this is a well designed tool. Small, nimble, and light, the UltraPod II is a fine American made product. When you have to shoot a stable image, but don’t have room for a full size tripod, this is a product to keep in mind

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Review: Gitzo Traveler Tripod

The Gitzo Traveler

Cheap tripods litter the marketplace and most sub-$200 models won’t support a descent SLR and a 200mm lens. But if you want to make one investment in a tripod and never need to replace it, Gitzo is a great choice. This is the Gitzo Traveler GT1542T and is the perfect choice for assignments since it fits easily in most carry-on luggage and is light enough to hardly notice when you’re on the go.

How many years should go by before you wear one out? That’s hard to know since this reviewer has had the same Gitzo tripod since 1988. Amazingly, the newest version is even better than mine. If there were an odometer on my tripod it would probably read over 150,000 miles. How many products in general have you kept that long and still use? 

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Another High-Speed Camera From Vision Research: The Phantom Miro M320S

Shortly after the introduction of the Phantom v642, Vision Research has announced another high-speed camera, the Phantom Miro M320S. Being the v642’s smaller sibling, the M320S needs not be ashamed of its specifications. It might not feature a 2k sensor like the v642, but its maximum frame rate of 1,540 fps at Full-HD resolution is pretty impressive still. When the resolution is reduced, things get even more impressive: 3,280 fps @ 1280×720 HD, 8,490 fps @ 640×480 and an unbelievable 325,000 fps @ 128×8 (although one has to wonder how useful that resolution will be in real world application).

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Canon Announces New 60D A For Astrophotography: Curiously Timed with Men in Black III Promos

Appealing to all those in search of Darth Vader’s Death Star, Canon has announced their new 60Da designed for astrophotography and as an update to the much older 20Da. So what are the important modifications (this isn’t really an upgrade.):

– A modified sensors that allows the camera to capture magnificent photographs of “red hydrogen emission” nebulae and other cosmic phenomena. This produces a 20-percent higher transmittance of Hydrogen Alpha line, or Hα wavelength, allowing astronomers to capture crisp, clear images of reddish, diffuse nebulae.

– The sensor itself has a modified infrared filter and is a low-noise sensor with heightened hydrogen-alpha sensitivity.

Those really seem to be the jist of it. Otherwise, the screen seems to be the same resolution but will work well with T ring adapters for telescopes. As a specialized product, the EOS 60Da is only available to order from select authorized dealers. The estimated retail price is $1,499.00 and it is expected to be available this month.

Review: Rokinon 24mm f1.4 Lens (Canon EOS)

As what other reviewers have been touting as one of the most exciting lenses to be released in a while at this focal length, the Rokinon 24mm f1.4 is an extremely affordable option compared to the Canon L version or the closest Zeiss version. Granted, all three are still different lenses: with two of the previously stated products being manual focus only.

The 24mm focal length is one that has been targeted to street photographers, documentary shooters, landscape photographers, and loads of others. But does this latest addition really do the job that most photographers want?

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Review: SLR Magic Bokehmorphic (Sony NEX Cameras)

Playing with Bokeh can be very fun. We previously reviewed the DIYPhotography Bokeh Masters kit; and were quite smitten with it. Then recently, SLRMagic announced their Bokehmorphic unit for NEX cameras. As a lens with a constant f2.8 aperture at 28mm, it’s quite an interesting piece.

But it has its quirks, and SLRMagic didn’t quite do the research into how they could have made this lens even better.

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Sony Announces New FS700E 4k Camcorder With E-Mount: Canon C300 Killer?

Sony has just announced their latest NEX-series camcorder, the FS700E. It features a 4k-ready Super 35mm CMOS sensor that is capable of 1080/24p and 1080/50p HD recording and 960 fps super-slow-motion video.  Other features are built-in ND filters, a 3G-SDI interface, MemoryStick and SD card slots as well as an interface for an external HXR-FMU128 flash memory unit. The FS700E is “4k-ready” only, which means that 4k recording will only be supported via a future firmware upgrade. The press release states:

Sony is planning a future firmware upgrade that will enable the NEX-FS700 to output 4K bit-stream data over 3G HD-SDI when used with an optional Sony 4K recorder.

The FS700E will be available in June 2012, the price has yet to be announced.

Full technical specs

  • E-mount lens mount
  • Super 35mm format CMOS sensor with 11.6 million pixels
  • 1080/24p and 1080/50p support
  • Switchable 50/60 Hz shooting for PAL and NTSC areas
  • 120 and 240 fps shooting in 8 and 16 second burst modes respectively
  • 480 and 960 fps shooting at reduced resolution
  • Built in 1/4, 1/16 and 1/64 ND filters
  • Full-HD 50p and 60p and standard HD 60i, 24p and 50p output via HDMI and 3G-SDI
  • Native 23.98, 25 and 29.97 fps progressive signal output via 3G-SDI
  • MemoryStick and SD card slots
  • Interface for HXR-FMU128 external flash memory unit
  • Detachable top handle
  • Manual focusing aid with 4x and 8x magnification and a moveable area of expansion
  • Stores up to 99 customized camera profile settings

Review: Billingham F-Stop f1.4 Camera Bag

Ask almost any well-seasoned camera lover who Billingham is and most will tell you about how nice but pricey their bags are. In having this bag for the few weeks I’ve had most of my other professional photographer friends just come off as plain jealous. I can just see why. Known to some as the Rolls Royce of camera bags, Billingham makes some of the more classic looking bags in the business.

But, how was it like to use in real life you ask?

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Sigma Announces Pricing on 50-150mm f2.8 OS HSM Lens

Sigma has just announced the pricing on the upgraded version of their 50-150mm tele-zoom lens for DSLR cameras with APS-C sensors, the APO 50-150mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM. The lens now features Sigma’s proprietary Optical Stabilizer (OS) technology, which offers the use of shutter speeds approximately four stops slower than would otherwise be possible. The Canon mount version of the lens will be available from next week, while the Nikon and Sigma mount versions will be available by the end of April. The lens sells for a street price of US-$ 1,099 and is available for pre-order at B&H Photo.

Technical specifications

  • Focal length: 50-150 mm (on APS-C: equivalent to 75-225 mm)
  • Max. / min. aperture: f2.8 / f22
  • 21 lenses in 15 groups
  • Internal zoom and focusing
  • Close-focusing limit: 80 cm (2.6 ft)
  • Filter thread size: 77 mm
  • Size (D x L): 86.4 x 197.6 mm (3.4 x 7.8 in)
  • Weight: 1335 g (47.1 oz)
  • Available in Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sigma and Sony mount version

Hands On: Using The Zeiss 50mm Planar ZM On Micro Four Thirds

Olympus E-P1 + Zeiss Planar 50/2 ZM

Being a user of both the Micro Four Thirds and Leica M system, it was evident for me to try out my well-proven M-glass also on my Micro Four Thirds bodies. Due to their very short flange-back-distance (i.e. distance between lens mount and sensor), Micro Four Thirds cameras can mount pretty much every lens ever desgined for film and digital—be it minute 16mm cine lenses or huge and chunky 6×9 medium format lenses. With the help of an appropriate adapter, any lens that can be focused manually can be put to work on an MFT body. So, besides getting an adapter to use the lenses of my old Pentax ME film camera, I also got one for my Leica M lenses. Unfortunately, however, the very cheap execution of the model I bought prevents focusing any lens to infinity…so, until I get hold of a proper adapter, all I can do with my M glass at the moment are close-ups. There is one lens in my setup, however, that lends itself exceptionally well at this: the 50mm f/2 Zeiss Planar ZM.

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Review: Zeiss Distagon T* 18mm f/3.5 ZF.2 for Nikon

When I got my hands on this lens a few weeks ago, I was really excited to pop it on my D7000 and take some shots with it. The build quality is truly as good as it gets, and Zeiss’ history of top-notch optics assured me that this lens would be lots of fun to shoot with.

I’ve now shot with this lens a handful of times, and have come up with a pretty clear conclusion about it. Does it live up to my initial expectations?

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Kenko Announces Electronically Coupled Extension Tubes For NEX and MFT

Kenko has just announced a new set of extension tubes for Micro Four Thirds and Sony NEX. While these are not the first extension tubes that Kenko has introduced, these are the first that come with electronic coupling. With these extension tubes, virtually any lens designed for Micro Four Thirds or Sony NEX can be converted into a macro lens. By moving the lens further away from the sensor, the extension tubes allow for much closer focusing and thus much higher magnification ratios. The tubes come in sets of 10 and 16 mm spacers that can be combined to 26 mm, enabling true macro capability.

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Useful Photography Tip #14: Shooting the Bouquet Toss During a Wedding

girls celebrate after a bouquet catch
girls celebrate after a bouquet catch


Weddings are generally slow moving events: a slow walk up the aisle, some forewarning before the kiss, a slow walk back down the aisle, slow first dance, etc.. But you always have one event that moves quickly – the bouquet and garter toss. Capturing this event is another major mile stone in telling the story of the day.

If you want to capture the moment when the bouquet gets tossed and caught, here are a couple of quick tips.

Want More Useful Photography Tips? Take a look at our list here.

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Getting the Right Flashlight for Light Painting

Have you ever had the urge to take gallons of colored paint and throw them at inanimate objects? If so, then you are in good company because I would love to do that too. Since defacing national monuments or other ancient forest artifacts is frowned upon, I decided to use flashlights instead. Amazingly, the results are pretty good when carefully done.

But before you go out and get yourself arrested for destruction of public treasures, read this and find a way to satisfy that inner child with a box of virtual crayolas and not have to clean up when you are done. Interested?

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Vision Research Unveils The Phantom v642: The Third Generation of High Speed Cameras


Vision Research outed the Phantom® v642: a high-speed camera still has the ability to record and playback ultra-slowmotion footage at the same time like the previous model the V641. The V642’s footage can now be accurately color matched to standard or broadcast footage. Using new technology called “Multi-Matrix Color Correction”. Something that Vision Research added after closely listening to their customer’s needs as suggestions to further improve the footage processing for color work in post.

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Hands On Review: Fuji X Pro 1 Camera System (With Sample Images)

I’ve seen, held and played with the Fujifilm X Pro 1 before; but never long enough to really make any substantial judgements about it. Recently though, that changed and I was treated to a good hour or so of playtime with the camera. Not only the camera though: but the entire system of lenses in the form of the 18mm f2.0, 35mm f1.4 and 60mm f2.4.

What’s different about this hands-on review from all the rest though is that I was able to put an SD card in the camera. However, I must warn you all that I handled a pre-production model and that the image quality is perhaps not the final version. If the image quality isn’t the final version, I may just cry. Why? To be honest, I haven’t been this excited about a mirrorless camera since the Olympus EP3 was announced.

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Custom SLR Announces “M-Plate” Universal Tripod Plate

Custom SLR, a Kickstarter-funded venture based in the SF Bay Area, has announced their latest product, the “M-Plate” universal tripod plate. The “world’s first universal tripod plate to offer built-in Manfrotto RC2 and Arca-Swiss connections as well as attachment points for accessories” (press-release) attaches to any tripod and can be used in combination with a number of different camera strap systems, such as Custom SLR’s own C-Loop strap mount, the BlackRapid, Spider Holster, Sun Sniper, Cotton Carrier, and any other system that is mounted in the tripod socket.

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Review: Fujifilm X10

Back around Photo Plus, we had Hands On time with the Fujifilm X10 while shooting a party. Even after the release of various powerful point and shoots, the Fuji X10 is still quite a powerful little camera and one that seems to offer lots of promise. We’ve finally had the time to finish up our review after quite a bit of testing.

In a nutshell, it is a highly underrated point and shoot that can stand toe to toe with some of the larger sensor DSLR cameras despite having some quirks.

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