August 2018

Lume-Cubic, that is - the metal-cased powerhouse of an LED light for the still or video person. We've had them for sale before and we've got them now and they are a remarkably good thing. Four sides of this sealed cube are doing something - a 1/4" tripod mount, a recharge socket cover, two buttons for on/off, intensity, or flash effect, and one big old LED on the front - this is one of the larger panels that is a single chip inside a lens. The intensity button has 10 steps and off. It is just that simple. As with all the other tests, except where noted, this was run at full power. This light has no temperature control. But it is infinitely tougher that the other panels - it can go underwater and take quite a tumble. And what of the results? Colder - decidedly colder. LR says it is pushing out light at 5050ºK. I think you might consider either filtering it or setting a permanent bias in LR to about 6700ºK to get a good human shot. You can get filtering...

Stepping up in size, weight, and sophistication, we come to the Phottix Nuada S LED panel. Here we gain more lights, a removable battery and separate charger, a tiltable hot-shoe connector, and the ability to change both light output and colour temperature. The light output and CT change are controlled by one back knob that has a press-in function as well. Note the battery charge indicator - all good things to know. BTW, the metal stand under this panel is not part of the kit - it's a Gitzo quick release plate that acts as a studio prop. The first two shots in this sequence were the 5600º K and AWB tests, and the last one is the 3300º K test with the camera set to do that colour temperature. I call the first two near as dammit and the 3300º ˚ just slightly yellower...

First LED panel off the rank is one of the smaller variety - the Amaran ALM9 from Aputure. It comes with a detachable front diffuser, a grey filter, a hot mount clamp, and a USB charging cord - all packed in a padded case with a carabiner to attach to your belt. It's tiny and light, but features a couple of multi-step power buttons on one edge. The charging time was indeterminate as I plugged it and another panel in and went to bed. Okay - here's rundown on the two tests done in the studio - it was completely dark and no walls close to affect the light as it went from the camera position to the test stand. The distance was about 2 metres - an average sort of place to be taking digital pictures from. The first test was to shoot with ISO 800 and as close to f:8 as could be maintained. The shutter was left to operate itself with a the camera using a spot metering pattern The camera was the regular studio Fujifilm X-T2 on a stand. This...

I am a little restricted this week in my typing, being reduced to the right hand and two fingers of the left one - there has been a slight accident in the Little Workshop* and it will be several weeks before the bandages come off. There may be some typographical errors in the meantime. I shall therefore use the facilities of Science and Industry and the spare time of convalescence to answer some questions that have arisen recently. To start with - how good are the portable LED light banks that have been flooding the market? How much light do they actually put out in comparison to other sources? What is the colour temperature of it? What is the spread of the light? Are they a viable alternative to flash? To determine the answers I have brought four different product off the shelf and tried them against a standard studio monolight and a speed light flash. The trials were done at night in the same studio environment that normally sees dancers or toy airplanes - in this case it is the slightly more...

I have just been watching some of the live streaming video from the Nikon company regarding their newest camera system - the Z -mount mirrorless cameras. The presenter is quite precise in his speech if a little general in his words - this is to be expected on a professional level. Ever since the inception of the mirror-less concept - making a digital camera with a decent-sized sensor and interchangeable lens system - there have been increases in specification by other makers. You might liken it to the campaigns of the mid forties in the Pacific. First small gains, then major advances, then a stranglehold on the photo market. Then someone drops something big - full-frame big - on the market and eventually the heads of formerly-imminent photographic companies have to admit that the commercial war has not necessarily gone to their advantage...

I sound too boastful - I defeated it only by one day. It doesn't pay to be lazy when the sun is out in winter - you only get small windows of possibility. The student flyers at Jandakot know that well. I was sure that, as Tuesday was fairly fine, they would be circuiting as hard as they could go to get time in before the big fronts hit the coast. Sure enough - the rotary as well as fixed-wing students were up and down as fast as they could taxi. The M Zuiko ED 300mm f:4.0 IS PRO is the angular equivalent of using a 600mm lens on a full-frame camera. That's well into shake territory, but there is stabilisation both on othe lens and in the body. I have no idea which mechanism was working, but as soon as I took a half pressure on the shutter button the EVF image settled down and I could clearly frame the subjects. I read the manual and set the camera to do a pre-shot continuous focusing as well - As I kept the rig pointed...

You might be wondering if I was going to pair the title with a lead line that implied there are times when they get it wrong. Relax - nothing of the sort. I am in a positive mood despite the wintry weather. My goal was to try out a longer lens on the Olympus Micro 4/3 system than hitherto. Oh, I've shot with long lenses on bridge cameras and even gotten out to 400mm on a APS-C sensor but this time I lusted after the M Zuiko ED 300mm f:4.0 IS Pro. As it has to be used around the metro area - no hauling it to Bali for surfing shots - the local airport scene was going to be the testing ground. But first the other part of the test bed - the camera body. Olympus make a number of OM-D models that could handle the lens - generally labelling them as E-M1, E-M5, or E-M10, with different target markets, price points, and specifications. There are now Mk II variants and I noted one camera was up to a Mk III...

Nobody ever shot at me with live rounds. Blanks, yes, but no lead. I never returned the compliment either, but had I been in the position to do so, I think I would have chosen a Nikon camera to do it with. Starting with the Nikon rangefinder cameras and lenses ( which were drawing on a number of influences from the Zeiss cameras ) in the early 1950's photojournalists had a rugged 35mm camera that could be used in Korea, Indochina, and any number of war zones. The camera bodies were improved in a direct line until the idea of the SLR took root in the late 50's. Then the Nikon F soldiered on all during its production life. The battle camera needs several things: a. To be as rugged as possible. Metal body. Metal lens barrels. b. To be as small as possible. Light is better, if you are hauling it and 80 lbs of other gear into and out of ditches. c. To be as simple as possible. Big controls for tired fingers. Locking controls if possible. None of the occasions where it will...