BrickHouse Photo School

Tips, Tricks and Reviews for Photo Hobbyists

Posts Tagged ‘equipment profiles

Protect Your Gear with Camera Armor

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I can be terribly abusive to my photography equipment. Although I try to be gentle with my gear, I guess I’m just a klutz.

But now, I can worry a little less thanks to Camera Armor. Camera Armor is just what it sounds like … a silicone-based system that protects the camera and lens from bumps, scratches, dirt and drops. Although not fully waterproof, the system also does well protecting against moisture. Think of it as the bulletproof vest for your camera.

Camera Armor system for the Canon EOS 1D/1Ds Mark III.

Camera Armor system for the Canon EOS 1D/1Ds Mark III.

The system comes with 4 parts: the Body Armor, the Lens Armor, which fits a 49mm-84mm physical diameter lens, the LCD Shield and a Lens Cap Leash. Although it completely covers the camera, all controls are accessible.

The system is designed specifically for certain camera models. For Canon, there are Camera Armor systems for the following bodies: Canon XTi, XSi, 40D, 30D, 20D, 5D, 1D Mark II and the 1D Mark III. For Nikon, there are systems for the: D40, D40x, D60, D70, D80, D2x, D200 and D300. There are also systems for the Fuji S5, Sony A100, Pentax K10D, Pentax K20D, and the Olympus E-410.

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Must Have Equipment: Gorillapods

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There are only a few pieces of photo gear that I get excited about and the Joby Gorillapod is one of those items. It’s a photographer’s dream because it’s simply built and highly functional.
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Unlike traditional tripods, the Gorillapod doesn’t require a level surface – you level out the camera yourself. The device is composed of multiple, fully-articulating, ball-and-socket joints that allow you to bend, twist and fold the Gorillapod into any shape necessary to get the perfect shot. Rubberized feet and soft rings between the ball-and-socket joints prevent slippage even in the toughest environments.

There are 5 versions of the Gorillapod: The Go-Go version for phones, MP3 players and compact cameras; the Original for compact cameras and point-and-shoots; the SLR model for prosumer-style cameras; the SLR-Zoom to support SLRs with long lenses and the Focus style, which can hold a whopping 11 pounds, for pro-model SLRs.

There are also a host of accessories for the Gorillapod including spikes for the feet – great for outdoor photography and photography in mud or snow; a level and a flash clip to support off-camera strobes.

This is a must-have piece of equipment especially if you do macro photography or mount remote cameras. Also, Gorillapods work great if you’re doing tabletop photography and/or fine art work. The units are well-priced with the SLR-Zoom model priced at $54.95 and the Focus model priced at $109.95.

Success of Mamiya DL28 Spawns Bigger Brother

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I will often publish media releases related to photography on this blog in order to help keep you informed. These media releases are created by the respective companies. I edit the releases for space as needed.

The successful introduction of the Mamiya DL28, in addition to requests from professional photographers throughout the U.S., has prompted Mamiya America to announce the next level in high-end digital camera systems – the Mamiya DL33.
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“In the world of medium format digital photography, many photographers have to choose between price and performance,” states Jeff Karp, Mamiya Product Marketing Manager. “The new Mamiya DL33 Digital Camera System offers the best of both worlds by providing medium format performance at a price that serious photographers can afford.”

The Mamiya DL33 Digital Camera System offers professional features and benefits that are not found in other camera systems. For example, even though the DL33’s resolution is an impressive 33 megapixels, its large sensor allows a pixel size of 7.2 microns. At 36 x 48mm, the DL33’s sensor is twice the size of full frame DSLR cameras. Larger pixels also produce images with unmatched richness and color accuracy, smooth, subtle transitions from tone to tone and striking highlight and shadow detail. In addition, the larger format produces images with a more three-dimensional look. The 3.5-inch touch screen, the largest in the industry, offers a bright, high-contrast display ideal for outdoor or indoor work.

The DL33 combines the professionally proven Mamiya 645AFD III camera system with the innovative 33 megapixel Aptus-II 7 Digital Back from Leaf. Together they work as an integral unit with an intuitive ease that virtually any photographer will appreciate. The 645AFD III body has a new coreless motor for faster, more accurate autofocusing and an enhanced interface system that provides total communication between the camera, lens and digital back.

With 16-bit capture, 12-stop dynamic range and an ISO range of 50-800, the Mamiya DL33 is a full-featured professional digital solution. The 33 MP back produces a huge 67Mb RAW file that can be converted into jpegs, 8-bit or 16-bit tiff files (a 16-bit tiff file is 190 Mb). Files of this quality deliver the information needed for striking enlargements of virtually any size. And for those times when you can’t get close enough to your subject, you’ll have the confidence to crop a small portion of the image without a noticeable loss in quality.

In addition to using the included Leaf Capture 11.2 software, you can also open Leaf RAW files with commonly used programs including Adobe Photoshop CS3/4 (with the latest version of ACR software), Lightroom 2 and Apple Aperture 2.

“Many digital photographers are realizing that they need the increased performance that only medium format can offer,” says Karp. “That’s why Mamiya is continuing to receive requests for higher resolution digital systems. With the new Mamiya DL33, we can satisfy their demands today.”

During the months of April and May, customers who purchase a Mamiya DL33 will receive a FREE AF 55mm f2.8 or AF 150mm f3.5 lens directly from Mamiya (an $1100 value).

The Mamiya DL33 will be available April 2009. MAP price is $19,999.

Entry-Level Digital SLR From Olympus Debuts Mother’s Day Weekend

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I will often publish media releases related to photography on this blog in order to help keep you informed. These media releases are created by the respective companies. I edit the releases for space as needed.

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. – Olympus announces its new entry-level digital single lens reflex (DSLR) camera, which is small in size and powerful in creativity. The new E-450 continues the E-400 series’ heritage of a small and portable design, powerful features, and ease of use for any skill level, including first time digital camera users. Thanks to Art Filters pioneered with the E-30 and E-620, the E-450 provides consumers with the creative freedom to capture their images in new fun and exciting ways.

The three Art Filters – Pop Art, Pin Hole and Soft Focus – bring greater creativity and freestyle experimentation to the new E-450. The creative filters were first introduced in Olympus’ E-30 prosumer DSLR earlier this year, and now enable consumers to express themselves and capture it all – limited only by their imagination. The E-450 offers the 10-megapixel imager and other features from the E-420.

The new camera also provides heavyweight technologies, including a bigger, more viewable 2.7-inch LCD and fast consumer-friendly On-Screen Autofocus, Face Detection, Shadow Adjustment Technology and Perfect Shot Preview to get the most out of the Live View experience. Additionally, when it comes to Live View, not all LCDs are created equal. At 2.7-inches, the portable E-450 LCD is large enough for users to compose and review images without squinting. The small camera’s LCD is part of a camera with technologies intelligent enough to take advantage of the Live View photography experience. These innovative technologies include:

  • On-Screen Autofocus works as seamlessly as a point-and-shoot to display subjects in focus on the LCD the instant the shutter is pressed half way;
  • Face Detection Technology targets and locks on up to eight faces to ensure they are in focus and crystal clear for amazing portraits;
  • New and Improved HyperCrystal II Technology delivers twice the contrast and better viewing in extreme lighting conditions, a broader range of color detail, and a wider angle of view on the LCD so you and your friends can see it up to 176 degrees off-center;
  • Shadow Adjustment Technology captures detail in the bright areas of a frame and opens up detail in the shadows that other cameras would render too dark or underexposed; and
  • Perfect Shot Preview enables you to view and select your favorite effect right on the LCD, and see how the image will look before you even capture it, so you know that what you see is what you get.

Olympus is scheduled to launch the E-450 DSLR on leading multimedia retailer QVC Saturday, May 9.

“We are thrilled to debut the much-anticipated Olympus E-450,” said Rob Ellerstein, director of electronics merchandising for QVC. “Thanks to our strong relationship with Olympus, we are not only offering the most innovative new products but we are also giving our customers the opportunity to order them before they hit stores.”

The product will be widely available in the U.S. and Canada in July.

The Live View Experience
Olympus was the first to bring Live View to a consumer DSLR (the E-330 in 2006), and Live View has revolutionized DSLR photography. Anyone who has photographed young children knows that you get the best reactions when you hold the camera away from your face and maintain eye contact and an engaging smile. If you have tried to take photos high above the heads in a crowd or low near the ground, you will appreciate that it is easier to use the LCD screen than to climb a ladder or lie on the ground.

The E-450 solves these problems with its Live View LCD, which enables photographers to easily and comfortably hold the camera at angles that could not be reached by using the optical viewfinder alone. The E-450’s Live View autofocus functionality now simplifies the process by working just like a point and shoot. By simply pressing the shutter button halfway, your subjects come into focus on the LCD, so when the perfect moment occurs it is easy to capture sharp images.

Bright Day or Deep Shadow, Never Miss a Detail
Shooting scenes with shadows can be tricky because of the extreme contrast between dark and bright areas. The E-450 addresses this challenge with Shadow Adjustment Technology that compensates for extreme contrast when shadow areas are underexposed and lack visible detail. Now users can preview and capture images with the same fine contrast they see with their own eyes.

Preview All the Possibilities
With 18 pre-set scene-select modes for every imaginable shooting scenario and full manual controls, the E-450 offers a world of possibilities to photographers. Additionally, Perfect Shot Preview enables users to preview and select various photographic effects on a live, multi-window screen on the LCD before snapping the shot. This feature shows photographers what their images will look like beforehand under various settings, ensuring that they capture exactly what they want. It is an ideal way for novice users to learn about the effects of different photography techniques, such as exposure compensation, white balance and metering.

Enlarge Your Photos
Capturing, enlarging and displaying amazing images on your wall is a snap thanks to the E-450’s 10 million pixels for high-resolution photos. The 10-megapixel sensor gives users the flexibility to enlarge prints to the sizes supported by many of today’s printers, or crop the image to print only a part of the image that is important to them. The high-performance Live MOS image sensor in the E-450 delivers excellent dynamic range for accurate color fidelity and a state-of-the-art image processor dramatically reduces noise and captures fine image details in the highlight and shadow areas.

TruePic III+ for Image Clarity & Speed
Olympus’ TruePic III+ Image Processor produces crystal clear photos using all the pixel information for each image to provide the best digital images possible for every photo with accurate color, true-to-life flesh tones, brilliant blue skies and precise tonal representation in between. TruePic III+ also lowers image noise by one step to reduce graininess in images shot at higher ISO settings, enabling great results in low-light situations.

Worried about missing the winning goal at the soccer game? The image processor on the E-450 enables it to shoot up to 3.5 frames per second in sequential shooting mode, which means that photographers will be able to capture fast-paced action as it happens.

Dust Reduction System for Spot-Free Images
Life moves too fast to spend time worrying about dust ruining your images. Olympus’ proven Dust Reduction System produces spot-free photos with the exclusive Supersonic Wave Filter. The patented ultrasonic technology vibrates to remove dust and other particles from the front of the image sensor and captures it on a special adhesive membrane every time the camera is turned on. This results in beautiful images free from dust spots, which could ruin or be distracting on an image.

Media Versatility
Accepting both CompactFlash Type I & II, Microdrives, and xD-Picture Cards, the E-450 provides a choice of data storage options for enhanced flexibility, and it is possible to transfer image files from one card to the other right inside the camera.

Wireless Flash Capability
If you decide to venture into the arena of advanced lighting, the E-450 is ready to meet the challenge. The E-450 is compatible with the Olympus FL-50R and FL-36R wireless electronic flashes that are designed exclusively for digital photography. When these flashes are used in combination with the E-450, wireless multi-flash photography is possible. The E-450 can control up to three wireless flash groups independently, with several flash units per group.

Availability
The Olympus E-450 DSLR will be available in July 2009. It includes E-450 Body, ED 14-42mm f3.5/5.6 Zuiko Digital Zoom Lens, ED 40-150mm f4.0/5.6 Zuiko Digital Zoom Lens, USB Cable, Video Cable, Li-Ion Battery Pack (BLS-1), Li-Ion Battery Charger (BCS-1), Shoulder Strap, OLYMPUS Master 2 Software CD-ROM, Manuals and Warranty Card.

U.S. Pricing
E-450 Two-Lens Kit Estimated Street Price: $699.99

Written by jeremyparce

April 2, 2009 at 10:58 pm

Sigma announces the launch of the new 10mm f/2.8 EX DC Fisheye HSM lens

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I will often publish media releases related to photography on this blog in order to help keep you informed. These media releases are created by the respective companies. I edit the releases for space as needed.

This autofocus fisheye lens is designed for use with digital SLR cameras equipped with APS-C size image sensors. The Nikon version produces a diagonal angle of view of 180°(154° for Sigma, 167° for Canon).
The diagonal field of view of this fisheye lens produces striking images with exaggerated perspective and distortion. The minimum focusing distance of 5.3 inches, and maximum magnification 1:3.3 allows subjects to be as close as 0.7 inch from the lens’ front element.

Sigma's 10mm f/2.8 EX DC Fisheye HSM lens. (Photo Credit: Sigma Photo)

Sigma's 10mm f/2.8 EX DC Fisheye HSM lens. (Photo Credit: Sigma Photo)

This close focusing capability allows close-up photography and also it is possible to make use of large depth of field that covers wide range of subjects. The Integral hood blocks out extraneous light and the Super Multi-Layer Coating minimizes flare and ghosting, creating superior image quality. The HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor) ensures fast and quiet autofocusing and allows full-time manual focus override by rotation of the focus ring. This lens is supplied with a gelatin filter holder at the rear.

The lens is now available for Sony/Minolta digital SLRs, and Pentax digital SLRs.
The street value of the lens in about $1,000 US.

Equipment Profiles: Nikon’s AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 D lens

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Nikon’s AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 D lens is the perfect portrait lens for any serious photography hobbyist. This lens provides very sharp images in a lightweight, well-constructed design.

Nikon's AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 D lens. (Photo Credit: Nikon USA)

Nikon's AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 D lens. (Photo Credit: Nikon USA)

Who Needs This Lens?
This lens needs to be in the bag of every serious amateur photographer. This lens will allow you more creative freedom to explore photography with its fixed and super-fast f/1.8 maximum aperture. The focal range on this lens is perfect for portrait work.

Where Will I Use This Lens?
The wide aperture setting will really allow beginning photographers and advanced hobbyist the ability to achieve a shallow depth-of-field, thus giving portraits a professional look. Furthermore, with its f/1.8 maximum aperture, photographers are able to shoot quality images in low-light situations. The lens is also perfect for indoor sports photography, especially capturing images at basketball games.

By the Numbers
Lens: Nikon’s AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 D
Minimum Focus Distance: 2.8 feet
Focusing: Auto and manual focus.
Weight: 13.2 ounces
Price: About $450 US

Domke: The Camera Bag You Should Own

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There are a multitude of camera bags to choose from and it seems that most people just grab the first one they see on the shelf or they buy the bag that matches their camera. (“Hey, I bought a Nikon and look, there’s a Nikon bag!)
That’s too bad, too. Camera bags protect the hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars you spent on your camera, lenses, flashes and other gear. It just stands to reason that you want a bag that can withstand a little wear-and-tear.

One of the best-made camera bag systems – yes they are “systems” – comes straight out of the photojournalism trenches. It’s a Domke bag and these bags are worth every penny they cost.
The bags aren’t cheap. If you want one, expect to spend about $150 US. But if you get one, you’ll probably have it for life.

My Domke bag has been through a rough life and even though it doesn’t look the best, it’s still a durable as the day I bought it.

The bags were created by Jim Domke, a photojournalist and editor for the Philadelphia Inquirer. In the 1970s, the Inquirer changed the way it allocated work cars. Before, each photographer had his own private work car so the trunk became the camera case. Then, the Inquirer decided to go to a car pool, meaning the photographers had to switch their gear from car to car.
The problem was, there were no portable camera bags available. Camera storage was mostly large metal boxes that were no where near portable.
So Domke, with the go-ahead from the Inquirer, started designing camera bags that would fit the bill for photojournalists. Thus, the Domke bag was born.

Domke bags are made of canvas. Durability has never been a factor – these bags can withstand the day-in-day-out life of a photojournalist so I have no doubt they can withstand the abuse from a student photographer or a photo hobbyist.

Find your nearest Domke retailer and give one a look. Even better, buy it. You’ll be glad you did.

Written by jeremyparce

February 23, 2009 at 12:04 pm