Category Archives: News

A Great Extended Black Friday Deal on Platypods

Buy a MAX or ULTRA and you get the Multi Accessory Kit valued at $29 absolutely free!!!!

CLICK HERE TO ORDER

Also posted in Photography, Uncategorized

Panasonic Leica DG Elmarit 200mm f/2.8 Prime Lens and Teleconverters Announced

Press release:

The New Compact, Lightweight Ultra Telephoto Lens with POWER O.I.S. For Handheld 400mm Equivalent Ultra-Telephoto Shooting

November 8, 2017 (Newark, NJ) – Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company is proud to introduce a new telephoto single focal length lens, the LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm / F2.8 / POWER O.I.S. (35 mm camera equivalent: 400 mm). The LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm / F2.8 / POWER O.I.S. is the first large-diameter ultra-telephoto fixed focal length lens with a name of LEICA DG. It boasts sharpest-ever image quality from corner to corner in the history of LUMIX digital interchangeable lenses. Featuring high mobility in a compact, lightweight design, it also realizes handheld ultra-telephoto shooting.

With its 400mm ultra telephoto focal length and stunning descriptive performance, the LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm / F2.8 / POWER O.I.S. is suitable for wildlife or sports photography. The 1.4x Teleconverter (DMW-TC14) is bundled*1 to extend the focusing distance to 560mm (35mm camera equivalent) for close-up shots.

The fast F2.8 aperture lets you capture fast-moving subjects while the POWER O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer) effectively compensates for hand-shake movement, making it easy to shoot even without a tripod or in low-lit situations. The lens works with Dual I.S.*2 (Image Stabilizer) and Dual I.S. 2.0*3 system when mounted on the compliant Panasonic LUMIX DSLM (Digital Single Lens Mirrorless) cameras for more powerful hand-shake suppression.
Clearing the stringent quality standard of LEICA, the lens is comprised of 15 elements in 13 groups, featuring two UED (Ultra Extra-low Dispersion) lenses. The use of UED lenses and Panasonic cutting-edge optical technology achieve high resolution, high contrast image from corner to corner while suppressing distortion and chromatic aberration.

Incorporating a triple linear motor system and max.240 fps sensor drive, the new LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm / F2.8 / POWER O.I.S. achieves high-speed, high-precision contrast AF system for both photo and video recording. This stunning AF performance is excellent to record 4K video, where precise focusing is required. In addition, the micro-step drive system in the aperture control section helps the camera smoothly catch up to brightness changes when panning.

It boasts a rugged, dust/splash-proof design and are even freeze-proof down to -10℃ (14 degrees F) to withstand professional use under harsh conditions. Offered in sharp, metallic black color, it stylishly matches the LUMIX G Digital Single Lens Mirrorless (DSLM) cameras.
The LEICA DG ELMARIT 200mm / F2.8 / POWER O.I.S. can also be used with the 2.0x Teleconverter DMW-TC20 (sold separately), which extends the focusing distance to 800mm (35mm camera equivalent) to capture subjects at a greater distane.

*1 The 1.4x Teleconverter (DMW-TC14) is also sold separately as an optional accessory.
*2 Dual I.S. is available on GX8, GX80/85
*3 Dual I.S. 2.0 is available on GH5, G9, G80/81/85
•Some functions of H-ES200 cannot be used with DC-GH5. The firmware for DC-GH5 to fully comply with H-ES200 is scheduled to be released by the end of March, 2018.
•Design and specifications are subject to change without notice.
•LEICA is a registered trademark of Leica Microsystems IR GmbH.
•ELMARIT is a registered trademark of Leica Camera AG.

The new ELMARIT 200mm lens and accessories will be available in early January 2018. The lens with the 1.4x teleconverter MSRP will be $2,999.99 and the optional 2x teleconverter is $599.99.

Also posted in Lens, Mirrorless, Panasonic, Photography

Panasonic Lumix G9 – Announced

 

Panasonic LUMIX G9 (PRNewsfoto/Panasonic Consumer Electronics)

This announcement is not a review of the G9 but having had the opportunity to briefly use and test this camera, I can say, it is as good as the specs and performs exceptionally well.

Panasonic’s new Lumix DC-G9 is a camera tailored for pro and advanced stills photographers.  The camera uses the same 20.3 MP sensor as the GH5 but has processing enhancements for better image quality and can be pixel shifted to produce 80MP RAW files.  This sensor ship is ideal for architecture, still life and product photography where high resolutions are demanded. 

The new High Resolution mode produces an 80-megapixel equivalent (10368 x 7776) image combining 8 consecutively shot images while shifting the sensor. This combined image can not only be set for JPEG but also RAW (in camera).

The body has a new control and dial layout and adds a LCD display on the right side of the view finder. The power on and off switch is conveniently located around the shutter release. The mode dial and drive mode dial are concentric and lockable. Drive modes include: Single, Continuous I and II, 6K Photo, Post Focus, Self timer and Time-lapse.  The body is slimmer than the GH5 and has a deeper and very comfortable grip.

The joystick is similar to the one found on the GH5. What is new is the OLED electronic viewfinder.  It has a magnification factor of 0.83 x equivalent and a resolution of 3.68 million dots, it is truly impressive. A 3″ fully articulating touchscreen LCD is basically the same as the GH5. However you now have the ability to keep the LCD closed and use the top LCD display to read your camera settings, exposure etc. 

The body supports two SD card slots, both are UHS-II capable. Ports are similar to the GH5 and include HDMI, microphone, headphone, flash sync, USB 3.0 (Micro B) and remote control. The body is weather sealed and will operate at temperatures as low as -10C.

The G9 image stabilization is as good if not marginally better than the GH5, offering 6.5 stops of image shake reduction. With a majority of the newer lenses the system will use the proven combined lens and bod Dual I.S. 2 stabilization.

Another major improvement is in the focusing system.  The Depth from Defocus system has been significantly refined and now has 225 selectable focus points. This system is not only faster but offers superb tracking that uses a “Deep Learning” technology that detects a human body in addition to the conventional face and eye detection. In addition a new “AF Point Scope” magnifies distant subjects allowing for precise focus and capture.

As for speed, the G9 will shoot bursts of 20 fps in continuous autofocus mode using the electronic shutter.  In mechanical shutter mode the speed drops to 9 fps. The buffer capacity is 50 RAW files in a single burst.  However with single AF engaged the G9 can shoot at a blazing fast 60 fps (electronic) and 12 fps (mechanical).  In my brief testing there was no blackout at all using the electronic shutter.

The minimum shutter speed is 60 sec. and maximum is 1/8000 sec using the mechanical shutter and 1/32000 sec. using the electronic shutter.  The flash sync speed remains at 1/250 sec.

Though the G9 is targeted at stills photographer, it is no video slouch. It will shoot 4K video at up to 60 fps, with a maximum bitrate of 150Mbps. For slo motion capture it will shoot 60 fps in 4K and 180 fps if you select Full HD video.

The 4K and 6K photo modes are fully supported as they are in the GH5. 

There is an optional battery grip available.  The camera comes with a new charger.

The G9 and accessories will ship in January 2018 for $1699 body only. The DMW-BGG9 grip for $349.

Extracted from the press release:

Optional Accessories Specially Designed for LUMIX G9

  • Battery Grip DMW-BGG9 – includes joystick and one additional battery.
  • Eye Cup DMW-EC4 for enhanced viewing and comfort.
  • Battery Charger DMW-BTC13 – enables rapid charging.
  • Shoulder Strap DMW-SSTG9 – length-adjustable and can be detached easily.
Also posted in Photography, Product Reviews

Fireworks

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The 4th of July weekend is next.  The weather forecast for the Greater Boston area looks good so why not try photographing fireworks.  In addition to the annual Boston Pops concert and fireworks, the Boston Harbor Fest will also have a fireworks display on July 2, 2016.  Here is an excerpt from the festival site: “Various sailors will decorate their boats and light up the Inner Harbor on Saturday, July 2nd. Live music on Long Wharf will lead up to an incredible fireworks display over Boston’s Inner Harbor.”

Here is a link to my tips page for photographing fireworks.

 

Also posted in Educational, Night Photography, Noise Reduction, Photographs, Photography

Hasselblad X1D

x1d-hero

Hasselblad introduces a rangefinder sized Medium Format mirrorless camera and a new set of lenses too.  This is not a rebranded Sony for sure. Details and specs can be found on their website but of significance is the dual card slots – a first for mirrorless cameras.  Time for Panasonic, Sony, Olympus and Fuji to seriously consider dual card slots.

Canon, Nikon – now what?

Also posted in Lens, Mirrorless, Photography Tagged |

Cape Cod, Yellowstone and The Grand Tetons

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Just finalized the 2016 Fall Photo Tours and Workshops in Yellowstone and The Grand Tetons National Parks and Cape Cod.

Yellowstone and The Grand Tetons – October 1 through October 8, 2016 – Details Here

Cape Cod – October 12 through October 16, 2016 – Details Here

In addition, the September 2016 Iceland photo tour and workshop is nearly full – two spots are available – Details Here

Also posted in Educational, Night Photography, Photography, Workshops

Review of the Platypod Pro Max

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A while back I had done a review of the exceptionally versatile and compact Platypod Pro® Deluxe Kit. Now the makers have introduced a follow-up to the Platypod Pro called the Max.

Much planning, engineering and fine machining go in to making the Platypod Pro® Max. The Max’s initial form is stamped out of a 5mm thick sheet of aircraft grade aluminum maintaining absolute flatness. Using Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM), the plate is computer machine precision drilled for all holes and slots. Edges are round-routed and holes either threaded or chamfered to avoid any sharp edges. Key holes slots for attaching the spike screw box are drilled only partway through the plate with very low tolerances to allow easy but firm attachment. These last holes are invisible from underneath the plate.

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I have been informed by the manufacturer that the machining quality and workmanship on the Max is so meticulous that despite computer aided manufacturing the factory can only produce 1500 every 25 days!

Like the original Platypod Pro the Platypod Pro Max is a sturdy flat mini tripod ideal for low-angle shots and situations where traditional tripods are cumbersome or impractical. It is however, significantly larger, has four spikes/reversible rubber feet rather than three, a belt loop, a single 3/8 inch 16 ball head mounting screw and a 1/4 inch 20 removable stud to mount accessories.

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Using the Max in Yosemite

Here is an image captured with the Max set up on top of the stone wall at Tunnel View – Yosemite NP.

Tunnel View at Sunset

Tunnel View at Sunset

Unlike its smaller brother the Max supports ball heads of any size and is rated to support 300 pounds. A 3/8 inch 16 threaded screw hole allows you to mount the Max directly to your tripod as and when needed.   Made of aircraft grade aluminum anodized black with beautiful self-explanatory laser etchings, the Max comes in a red microfiber drawstring pouch.

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Max mounted with my heavily used RRS BH55 mounted to an Arcatech 1170 leveling base (note the Acratech bubble level)

If you already own a Platypod Pro the Max does not replace it, rather it compliments it where situations demand a larger base or when you need to physically move your low lying camera rig across the sand or grass when photographing wildlife.

Specifications:

  1. Base – 6061 black anodized aircraft-grade aluminum. 5 mm thick. 5.25 x 7.75” (5-year warranty—Full replacement of parts for any defect in workmanship.)
  2. Fiberglass-reinforced nylon removable “bayonet style” storage box mounted onto plate to hold four 1/4-20 spikes, 2 inches long, with heavy-duty rubber feet and locking nuts. Small magnets keep spikes in place for storage.
  3. Five 1/4-20 threaded holes strategically placed to allow use of spike feet in configurations of one, two, three, or four at a time.
  4. Two 2-inch belt slots to secure to any cylindrical object or to tape onto floors for remote camera setups.
  5. 1/4-20 and 3/8-16 accessory threaded holes for attachment to tripods or quick-release devices under the unit.
  6. 3/8-16 TA2 titanium photographic bolt drilled and countersunk through the plate and welded in place for large tripod ball heads, such as the RRS-BH55, even with spike-feet in place.
  7. Two non-threaded holes for permanent or semi-permanent mounting to floors, walls, ceilings or panels.
  8. Weight: 13 ounces, including spikes and storage box.

At approximately 5 x 8 inches it is about the size of an iPad Mini and fits well in any camera case that has a slot or pouch designed to hold a laptop or an iPad. As an option you can use either slot or one of the non-threaded holes and a carabiner to hang the Max from your belt or a loop on your backpack.

_DSC4380-EditAs compared to the original Platypod Pro, Max’s larger footprint means more stability. Like the Pro, Max is made of aircraft-grade aluminum with an embedded 3/8-inch titanium bolt. However, it does come with a few features, including a pair of slots that can secure Max via a bungee cord, zip-ties or even your belt to freestanding objects and structures. In the center are 1/4- and 3/8-inch holes to attach Max to quick-release devices, such as the Peak Design Capture Clip, or directly onto a tripod center column. A very convenient 1/4 – 1/4-inch male cross-nut allows attachment of flexible arms, speed-lights and numerous accessories.  Here I used a Novoflex Flex Arm and a Lume Cube LED to light the crystal.  The camera is a Panasonic GH4 with a 30mm Lumix macro lens.  A second 1/4 – 1/4 and a second Flex Arm would be ideal for cross lighting a macro subject.

The Max‘s larger base allows use of most any ball head. The RRS B55 is the largest ball head I own and I had no problem attaching it to the Max and all the knobs have adequate clearance. As I no longer use large DSLR’s all my tests were done with Sony and Panasonic mirrorless bodies. Using the Max with an A7RII and the 70 – 200 mm f/4.0 lens was a breeze. I also mounted a Panasonic GH4 with the new Leica 100-400 using a Wimberly SideKick for quick reaction time and maneuverability. When using the Sidekick it is imperative that you remove the holder for the spikes with a simple twist and place the cross-nut in one of the corner positions, out-of-the-way.  This gives the sidekick the clearance  for 360 degree rotation. The Max supported this rig very well.

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With the Platypod Pro you had to be careful mounting heavier gear. It was best to ensure the center of gravity was as close to the center of the Platypod Pro mounted ball-head. With the Max, this is a less of an issue. With a medium or large ball head the Max will comfortably support most DSLRs and mirrorless cameras fitted with normal to long telephoto lenses. A super telephoto lens properly mounted on a good ball head works well too. Here as in the image below I tested it using the RRS BH55 and the Wimberley Sidekick with a Canon 500 mm f/4.0 lens attached to a Sony A7R II using a Metabones IV adaptor.

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Similar to the Platypod the Max is ideal great for ground level photography and videography, a mount for action cameras and for creating panoramas. When creating panoramas use a pan/tilt ball head like the Unique as shown below or attach a leveling base (see following image) below the ball head as shown in an image above where the RSS BH55 is mounted on top of the Acratech 1170 leveling base. As the Max is made of a relatively thin aluminum plate it would be difficult to have a built-in level. A third-party bubble level can be adhered to the max or simply place on it to level the Max. When it is necessary to level the Max it is best to use three of the four spikes or rubber ends. Four legs are great for stability but not so for leveling. The Max is best used without spikes or feet when you want to have the flexibility of sliding it in any direction on flat surfaces, sand or grass. When friction is important then the spikes are the best option. In the reverse orientation the rubber caps not only provide friction preventing the base from sliding around but also prevent damage to furniture, painted surfaces, etc.

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For surfaces like asphalt, rocks and brick the spikes are your best choice for stability. To attach the base plate to a fence post, rail or tree limb, a pair of bungee cords, straps or your belt work great. All you need is to secure the cord around your object and hook the ends into the slots or holes in the base plate. Belts and straps can be passed through the slots on each side of the Max to secure it to any post, tree trunk or similar object.

The Max with its little brother the Platypod Pro have a permanent home in my photography kit. I find I am using these support systems more than using my tripods.

More on the Platypod products and their web site

All company names, products and devices mentioned in this review are trademarks of the respective companies, registered in the U.S. and other countries.  

Also posted in Accessories, Macro, Mirrorless, Panasonic GH4, Panning, Photographs, Photography, Product Reviews, Sony A7R, Time-Lapse

PANASONIC LUMIX G LEICA DG SUMMILUX 12mm, F1.4 ASPH Lens announced

leica 12mmFollowing up with the release of the exceptional Leica 100 – 400 mm nature and wildlife photographers’ dream lens, Panasonic has announced a new Leica 12mm (24 mm equivalent on MFT bodies) f/1.4 weather sealed wide-angle prime lens.  Suitable for great landscapes and with this f/1.4 speed it will be ideal for astro photography.  This will be Panasonic’s widest non-fish eye prime lens in the MFT lineup.  Hope to have one in my kit for my Iceland workshop in September.

It will be available later this summer for $1300 (rounded).

Here is the press release:

NEWARK, NJ (July 1, 2016) – Panasonic unveiled a new LEICA DG SUMMILUX 12mm/F1.4 ASPH. (35 mm camera equivalent: 24 mm) digital interchangeable lens for Digital Single Lens Mirrorless camera based on the Micro Four Thirds standard. The new 12mm wide-angle lens enables photographers to capture beautiful group, event, and nature photography. It also allows indoor shooting in low lighting and produces an impressive, natural defocusing effect with its F1.4 aperture. In addition, the LEICA DG SUMMILUX 12mm/F1.4 ASPH. boasts a rugged, splash/dust-proof design (when combined with splash and dustproof LUMIX G Mirrorless camera models) to meet the needs of a wide-range of photographic situations.

Integrating two aspherical lenses, two UED (Ultra Extra-Low Dispersion) lenses and an ED (Extra-Low Dispersion) lens, the lens system is comprised of 15 elements in 12 groups. The adoption of five special lenses makes it possible to meet the stringent LEICA standard for exceptional image quality with high resolution and minimum distortion. In general, flare is commonly seen around the periphery of a point source with many high-speed lenses when a large aperture is employed. However, the new LEICA DG SUMMILUX 12mm/F1.4 ASPH. achieves high resolution from the center of the image to the corners by suppressing this flare. Users can take advantage of this lens to shoot a brilliant night skies or night scenes containing illumination to capture true-to-life images with minimal blurring and distortion at the edges. The multi-coated lens elements also minimize ghosting and flaring.

Incorporating an inner focus drive system and a stepping motor, the new LEICA DG SUMMILUX 12mm/F1.4 ASPH. is capable of smooth, silent operation together with the camera’s high-speed, high-precision contrast AF system for both photo and video recording. It is also compatible with the sensor drive at a maximum of 240 fps to take full advantage of cameras with high-speed AF. This stunning AF performance is excellent for recording 4K videos, where precise focusing is essential.

The LEICA DG SUMMILUX 12mm/F1.4 ASPH. comes with an aperture ring for direct, intuitive aperture control. Nine blades give the aperture a rounded shape that produces an attractively smooth effect in out-of-focus areas when shooting at larger aperture settings. A highly reliable metal mount assures durability for repeated use. The lens mount, the barrel and the hood are all made of metal to provide a sleek, sophisticated design that matches the entire line-up of LUMIX G Digital Single Lens Mirrorless (DSLM) cameras.

Specifications:

Focal length 12 mm
Maximum aperture F1.4
Minimum aperture F16
Aperture ring Yes
Number of diaphragm blades 9
Elements 15
Groups 12
Special elements / coatings 2 aspherical lenses, 1 ED lens, 2 UED lenses
Minimum focus 0.20 m (7.87″)
Maximum magnification 0.1×
Autofocus Yes
Motor type Stepper motor
Weight 335 g (0.74 lb)
Diameter 70 mm (2.76″)
Length 70 mm (2.76″)
Filter thread 62.0 mm
Hood Yes
Also posted in Accessories, Lens, Mirrorless, Night Photography, Photography, Star Trails, Time-Lapse Tagged , , |

On1’s 2 for 1 June Special

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It’s a “2 for 1” offer for both ON1 Photo 10.5 and an upgrade to the next generation – ON1 Photo RAW (coming in the fall) – for just $89.99.
Check out the “2 for 1” offer by clicking on the banner above. The total value of this package is $239.98 ($119.99 for each product) the offer gives you a savings of $150 – what a deal.

(Please note additional coupons cannot be applied to this $89.99 offer.)

Also posted in Photography, Software

Zeiss Batis 2.8/18 Lens for Sony E-Mount Announced

batis2818_productThe ZEISS Batis 2.8/18 expands the Batis range of lenses with a super wide-angle lens. For the Sony α system with E-mount the new lens, which features a diagonal angular field of 99 degrees, is currently the shortest full-frame fixed focal length with autofocus. The new ZEISS Batis 2.8/18 with innovative OLED display to show focus distance and depth of field is also impressive thanks to its high image quality across the entire image field. The lens will be available from May 2016.

Features for discerning users 
The super wide-angle camera lens has 11 lens elements in ten groups and draws on the ZEISS Distagon optical design. Four of the lens elements are aspheric on both sides and seven are made from special types of glass. The Floating Elements design permits constantly high image performance in the focal plane – from the minimum object distance to infinity.
The lens will be available from May 2016. The suggested retail price is US$1,499
Also posted in Accessories, Lens, Mirrorless, Photography, Sony A7R, Video, Zeiss