A Second Chance with the Leica M9 (and 50mm and 35mm Summilux Lenses)

Though I’ve reviewed the Leica M9 and M9-P before, I only recently had the pleasure of trying the Leica 50mm f1.4 Summilux and Leica 35mm f1.4 Summilux on the new digital bodies in real world use and street photography (I’ve used the former with a film body before). As readers of this site may know, I like the cameras; but have a major problem with their metering methods. Additionally, I tend to liken the images from the camera to chrome film in that one needs to nail the exposure perfectly and there isn’t a tremendous amount of versatility in the post-production process, though there is some.

So with all that aside, how do the lenses perform on the camera body?

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Review: Leica V-LUX 3 (Panasonic FZ-150)

When Leica announced their new V-LUX 3 (or VLUX3) digital camera, I had thought to myself that the camera perhaps incorporates all of the standard changes that their Panasonic clones have. For those of you that are confused, when Leica clones a Panasonic camera (in this case, the Panasonic FZ-150), they usually update the firmware, menu system and lens coatings to differentiate it a bit. Otherwise though, the camera functions and acts the same. This time around though, there seems to be absolutely no change except for the outside cosmetic appearance.

So does this superzoom camera meet your standards?

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Review: Profoto Acute2R 1200 Value Pack And Ringflash

Closer Look
Closer Look

Closer Look

When I think of high-end photography lighting companies, Profoto is the first one that comes to mind. Originally founded in the late 1960s, Profoto has been consistently producing high-quality equipment, making them the first choice for professional photographers. Profoto sent along an Acute2R 1200 Value Pack with Case which included the power pack, two Acute D4 heads and Tenba carrying case specifically designed for Profoto. This accompanied the Profoto Acute2 Ringflash.

So, how did they perform?

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Review: Olympus PEN E-PL3

Yes, I still had the plastic on the lens.

If you’re a frequent reader of The Phoblographer, you’ll know that we are fans of the Micro Four Thirds format (M43). M43 bodies offer a great balance of size and image quality. Additionally, M43 cameras are often less intimidating than a DSLR for those looking to step up from point and shoot cameras (P&S) or advanced P&S camera. It is this group of people that Olympus had in mind when creating the E-PL3. So, is the E-PL3 the next logical step up from a P&S? Let’s find out.

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Quick Review: Camera Bag 2.0 (Beta) Editing Software

Camera Bag is an editing software program primarily centered around the use of presets with levels of adjustment: similar to the way that many mobile phone applications like Instagram work. While Adobe Lightroom 3 and Photoshop all have presets that allow users to get images with a cross-processed, plastic camera type of look (amongst others) not many people still know how to accomplish these look or understand color theory.

So does Camera Bag worth your time?

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Review: Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 VC (Nikon Mount)

The Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 VC is an extremely popular lens amongst budget conscious users. With a constant f2.8 aperture throughout its zoom range and the added value of having vibration compensation it’s not hard to see why consumers spring for this lens. Designed for those with APS-C sized sensor cameras, the equivalent focal range on a Nikon DSLR such as the D5100 is around 25.5-75mm; making it an essential event and workhorse lens for many pros and semi-professionals.

But is all perfect with the lens?

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The Leica X1 from a Foodie’s Perspective

Leica is a company I have a great respect for, especially because of the Leica M9. So when I got the offer to take the Leica X1 out for a spin, I immediately said yes. The X1’s APS-C size sensor, like the one in my Nikon D90, really grabbed my attention. Since we already reviewed the X1 once here, I chose to use it for something near and dear to me, food and coffee photography. This would be a pleasant change from shooting with DSLR’s like the Nikon D90 and the Canon 7D, which I was using at the time.

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Quick Review: Joby Gorilla Mobile for Apple iPhone

Joby GorillaMobile
Joby GorillaMobile

Joby GorillaMobile

I know many people who own, use, and love Gorilla Pods. Most people probably have one of the normal Gorilla Pods or maybe the new SLR Zoom version (review on the way), but you may not know about the Joby Gorillamobile, one of their newest products. Unfortunately, this newest version only works for one specific camera. You probably think it’s pretty silly for a company to make an accessory for just one product but when I tell you it’s for the millions upon millions of people who own an iPhone 4 or 4s, it makes more sense.

I was intrigued when I first heard about this product and decided to request a review unit. I thought about what its purpose is and what it allows you to do. Well, if you’re an iPhone 4 or 4s owner, click through to learn what this nifty little device can do for you.

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Knowing Natural Light: Photographing Weddings

Bride and Veil
Bride and Veil

Bride and Veil

Natural light photographers have become wildly popular in the past several years. Many photographers actually market themselves purely as natural light photographers. There’s a good reason for this: natural light can create some of the most beautiful images that you’ve ever seen. Using natural light whenever possible is a no-brainer to give your images that beautiful, natural, dreamy quality that is synonymous with Weddings. However, there is more to it than just not using lights. People who have mastered natural light photography did more than just not use lights while shooting. You must really learn and understand how light behaves, reacts, and interacts with your subjects.

Click on through to view some tips to start you off down the right path for shooting weddings using natural light.

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What’s in My Camera Bag?: Editor in Chief Chris Gampat

Yesterday, Technical Specialist Travis Lawton showed us what was in his camera bag. Inspired by him, I decided that it was time to put everything out on the bed for you guys. Over the years that I’ve been a photographer, tech journalist and the site’s Editor in Chief, I’ve both bought and had lots of gear donated. Admittedly, this isn’t everything either; I’ve given lots of it away to photographers in need. In this post, I’ll take you through everything here in the photo above.

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The Phoblographer Turns Two: Words of Thanks From the Site’s Founder

Two years ago, I had an idea.

I wanted to create a website for the photography world. Fresh out of college and subject to a terrible economy combined with layoffs from freelance work and  jobs, I sat on my bed and said to myself, “I’m really sick of being unemployed,” and so I started the Phoblographer.

At the time I had no idea where to begin but I knew how to develop content and I knew the specific audience that I wanted to engage. To this day, we’re known for our real world reviews and our down to earth tonality. It’s a trait that I pride the site and the site’s staff on. Our egos are checked at the door and we stick to the realities vs being blinded by ridiculous tests. We accomplish tasks in a practical way.

Two years ago, if you had told me that I’d be back to sitting on my bed typing up this blog post and surrounded by all that I am today, I would’ve laughed in your face. I never would have thought that the site would be what it has become. We’ve been linked to by Gizmodo amongst other tech blogs, mentioned by the Boston Globe, and gained a reputation with many companies as a credible source of information. Indeed, we almost often are always the first to report on things as well as is evident when the rumors sites always link to us in the rare occasion that we do news.

Though the actual birthday of the Phoblographer falls on New Year’s Eve, I’m writing this early partially to let you know that we’re taking off for Christmas Eve and Christmas and that we’ll be back to publishing the day after. I think that the staff and I deserve it.

The site has gone through a lot:

– We’ve worked on and scrapped redesigns. A new design will finally launch after CES of next year.

– We’ve created multiple social media channels

– We’ve gone through various staffers

– I encountered some legal trouble from a former staffer

– I’ve had a troublesome time working with certain companies to expand the site’s coverage

– I’ve tried to monotize the site better and when I found that I did it, my old host kicked us off because we brought in too much traffic.

This has been a very tough year for the site. We’ve been offered to have our content rented by a larger site; to which I responded, “No.”

The site, after all this, brings in roughly 10,000 uniques a day now. That’s not a small feat, nor was it easy. But I thank all of you for the help so far; and though I’m not exactly sure how much my thank you means, I want you all to know that it comes from the artistic soul that lives within me and that is dormant in my heart and mind.

I feel the need to make specific thank yous out to certain people:

– Theresa, Joe, Spoorthy, Steve, Douglas, and the other readers that have stuck with us for a long time.

Geoff Fox; who gave me my first traffic spike. Without you, I wouldn’t have some of my long time readers.

– The rumors sites and their staff for giving me amazing traffic. Though I don’t know who you are; thanks so much for building us though it was possibly not intentional.

– Kevin, Len, Jen, Chuck and the rest of the crew over at Canon USA. I want to thank you for helping us grow; especially you Kevin.

– Charles, Keith, Sally, Rick and the awesome people at Mullen and Olympus. Thank you for all the compliments on our coverage and for always being great folks.

– Marci, Jeff, Christine, and the rest of the people over at Matter Now; perhaps the finest PR company I know specializing in the photo industry. Thank you for being such an awesome company and amongst the most pleasant people to deal with.

– Christian, Clara, and Julia over at Evins and Leica; thank you for loaning me my first review unit and believing in the site.

– Michael and Reid over at Snapknot.com, thank you for finding us and the long time partnership.

– Yechiel, Isaac and Moshe over at the affiliate team for B&H Photo

– David Brommer, Gabriel Biderman, Jason Geller, Matthew D’Alessio, Lauren Mayerhoff, Joseph Carey, and the rest of the crew over at the B&H Photo Marketing Depts.

– Rich over at Carl Zeiss.

– Simon and Brian over at Think Tank Photo.

– Kathy, Katie, Josh, Mike, Kate all the models I’ve photographed for the site.

Sander-Martijn, who is responsible for the site’s migration while I pulled my hair out when we were kicked off of Bluehost right before Photo Plus this year.

– Will Greenwald of PCMagazine and Aggrogate

– Sal Cangeloso of Geek.com

– Aimee Baldridge of MAC-On-Campus

– PJ Jacobowitz

– Dan Havlik of PDN

– Terry Lewis of The Other View

– Theano Nikitas

– Allison Johnson of Digital Camera Review

– Laurie Grunan of CNET

– Eric Reagan of Photography Bay, who inspired me to create The Phoblographer.

– Carol Mangis at Consumer Reports: my first mentor in the tech industry.

– Mitch Unger of Planet 5D

– John Conrad Williams, my photography mentor

– Dan Bailey

– Photo John of Photography Review

– Stumble Upon and Reddit

– Ziv Gillat at Eye-Fi

– Mike Pouliot and Travis Lawton; my two main staffers who help me to do lots of the heavy lifting around here.

– Social Media Coordinator Gevon Servo, who this site owes lots to.

– Copy Editor Julius Motal: your talents, wit and 1AM text messages are always more than welcome and it has always been a pleasure having you here.

And those are the biggest ones that I can think of off the top of my head right now after a long day, but I want to thank all of you reading this as well.

The only other things that I can ask of you is to please keep reading and sharing our posts. Additionally, please support us by clicking the links in each writers’ posts and then making a purchase. The links in that writer’s post helps to keep them funded. The banners and the links in my posts help to keep the site alive (and keep me funded.)

So I close this post by saying thank you; and that I look forward to another year running the site.

What’s In My Bag: The Travis Lawton Version

What's In My Bag
What's In My Bag

What's In My Bag

Just over 4 years ago, I fell in love with photography. I, much like many new photographers, fell into the gear-pit. More gear equals better images right? Not quite. One thing that exacerbated this situation is that I had a good job with good pay. For many new photographers, money is what prevents them from going out and stocking up on gear that they want. Instead, they are forced to intimately learn their existing equipment and make it work.

Now I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I’m upset that I had the ability to purchase a lot of gear in the beginning, however, I feel it stunted my growth as a photographer. Instead of really learning how to use my gear, I would quickly move onto the next thing, the next lens. Now four years later, I have learned how to control gear-lust and how to appreciated my equipment. I’ve learned how to massage my current equipment to do what I want instead of going out and buying something that could do it better. So now that I’m older and wiser (photography-wise), what is the equipment that made the cut and constantly resides in my bag?

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Taking Environmental Portraits



Some of the best pictures I think I’ve ever taken are of people in their own environment. Whether it’s an athlete in their element, a musician performing for the crowd, a trainer in the gym, or even a newborn that’s only a couple of days old snuggling up in some blankets. These types of images are powerful.

These types of images aren’t terribly hard to create. Click on through to learn a couple of my tips and tricks on creating these fascinating images.

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Review: Vello Freewave Fusion Wireless Radio Flash Triggers for Nikon

Wireless radio flash triggers are appearing all over now. What used to be dominated by a key couple of companies is now spreading to many other manufacturers and the market space is seeing some interesting contenders. Vello is one of those entries into the world with the Vello Freewave Fusion wireless flash triggers. Available for both Canon and Nikon, these triggers didn’t disappoint…for the most part.

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Quick Review: Wacom Intuos4 Pen Tablet

Intuos4 Pen Tablet
Intuos4 Pen Tablet

Intuos4 Pen Tablet

A show of hands out there: who think that pen tablets are for people who know how to draw? Go ahead, it’s okay, don’t be shy. I was in the same boat as you toward the beginning of these year. I began thinking about how it might possibly help my editing, so I started watching some videos online of them in use.

Don’t get me wrong, if you are able to draw, you can do some amazing things with a pen tablet. If you need proof, just do a quick search on YouTube. Now I, on the other hand, can’t draw at all. Get this; I took a class in school that was called, no joke, “I can’t draw but I wish I could”. It didn’t help me much. So why would I purchase a pen tablet? Click on through and I’ll tell you.

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The Canon Photographer’s Guide To Upgrading Your Equipment – Part II: Camera Bodies

Upgrading Your Canon Camera Body
Upgrading Your Canon Camera Body

Upgrading Your Canon Camera Body

Hopefully by this point you’ve read part I of this series about upgrading your lenses first as well as some recommendations for which lenses to purchase for whichever type of photography you enjoy the most. If you haven’t read it yet or if you missed it, make sure to read through that one before reading on. You can check Part I out here.

Okay, now that we have that point of business out of the way, we can jump into Part II of the Canon Photographers Guide To Upgrading Your Equipment; the camera body. Now that you have some good glass in front of your camera (right?!), it’s time to look at upgrading the brain of the whole system. A new camera can come with much more excitement than a new lens. One of the main reasons for this is you’re generally going to have newer technology, capabilities, modes, options, accessories, all kinds of stuff.

So, no matter what camera you’re currently using, which Canon camera should you spring for?

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Falling In Love With the Tamron SP AF 17-50mm f2.8 XR Di-II VC LD Aspherical (IF) Lens

Recently, I was loaned the Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 with Vibration Compensation for Nikon DSLR cameras. The lens is the answer to most users’ dreams: a sharp lens with a fast aperture and a form of image stabilization (or vibration reduction) to help you get better photos. Though I’m not usually one for third party lenses, after using the Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 for a while I grew to love it when attached to my D5100.

A full review is coming on the lens, but here’s a preview of what’s to come.

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Long Term Comparison Review: Nikon D5100 vs Canon T3i

We finished reviewing the Nikon D5100 and after using that camera and it’s main competitor, the Canon T3i, for a long time it is now time for a full on comparison review. Though I’ve personally purchased the D5100, it is because I’m already fully invested into Canon’s system and I need to build up a Nikon system in order to review more products for this site.

With that said, which one is right for you: The Canon T3i or Nikon D5100?

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Review: Nikon D5100

Not long ago, I gave in and purchased a Nikon D5100 for the reasons of wanting to expand coverage on this site a bit more. Why this over the D7000? Cost, for one (it’s refurbished); and similar results in terms of image quality were both very appealing to me. Additionally, I don’t own an entry level DSLR at all though I’ve used many of them. So this is also my experience with trying to upgrade and move up along the line with a new camera system.

Since purchasing the camera, I haven’t regretted it. But it hasn’t been such a joy either.

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