BrickHouse Photo School

Tips, Tricks and Reviews for Photo Hobbyists

Posts Tagged ‘equipment

Software Test Drive II: Tiffen’s Dfx Version 2

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This is the second installment of the Tiffen Dfx Version 2 test drive

I used to hate editing digital photos. I trained in the “film” days and preferred working in the darkroom versus in the “digital darkroom” aka a Mac computer and Adobe’s Photoshop version 4.0.

Original image (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Original image (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Now, things have changed. I use Apple’s Aperture 2.0, Adobe’s Photoshop CS4 Extended and a host of plug-in software that makes editing a little easier and a little less cumbersome.

"Faded" filter

"Faded" filter

So, I’m always excited to try out a new piece of software. After seeing the ads for Tiffen’s Dfx http://www.tiffen.com/dfx_v2_home.html software in numerous photo magazines, I decided to give it a look. Then, I wrote a media release about the software and posted to this Website. Now, I want to show you some quick edits you can make using the program.

Yes, you can do these effects yourself in Photoshop but using the plugin software is way easier … it’s a click of the button versus the trial-and-error process in Photoshop. Plus, once you’ve selected the filter, you can still tweak it out in Photoshop to make the look completely yours.

You can go to the Tiffen Website and downloaded a free 15-day trial of the program as a plugin for Photoshop.

"Antique" filter

"Antique" filter

There are 110 individual filters with thousands of customizable presets. The interface is extremely easy to navigate but I wished the gallery was a little more simplified.

I really like the fact the program supports 16-bit image processing and RAW files (I’m shooting RAW images with a Canon 5D Mark II) and I really like the layering feature so multiple filter effects can be layered.

As a whole, I will give the program a three-out-of-five stars.

Quick Look:
Product: Tiffen Dfx Version 2
Price: $299.95 for Photoshop and Aperture plugin; $99.95 standalone
Website: http://www.tiffen.com/dfx_v2_home.html
Rating: ✭✭✭✰✰

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April Issue of VICTOR Now Online

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The latest issue of Hasselblad’s VICTOR online magazine is now available. Here’s a preview of what’s in store:

victor4_2009cover

  • Hasselblad headline highlights: introduction of the HCD 35-90mm zoom lens . . . the H3DII-50 wins Professional Photographer magazine’s Hot One Award . . . new Phocus features for Mac and Windows users.
  • German fashion photographer Manuel Pandalis went back in time to his years in the music business to create the glam rock mood of the early 1970s for his recent contemporary fashion shoot. It rocks!
  • It is not every day you get a chance to photograph a phenomenon. Claus Peter Dudek did when he captured the Bugatti Veyron 16.4, the fastest and most expensive sports car in the world.
  • The race of the megapixels heats up with an exclusive photo shoot. VICTOR compared a 35mm DSLR with a 21.1-megapixel sensor to the Hasselblad H3DII-31. The winner? Hint: It was no surprise.
  • You may be familiar with the work of these top 10 international photographers, but you’ll see them in a new light when you find out how they each define the word “passion.” Their visual responses are positively riveting.

Watch for the upcoming issue of the online magazine on May 1. The eye-catching portraits by South African fine arts and commercial photographer Michael Meyersfeld will capture your imagination.

Written by jeremyparce

April 15, 2009 at 8:27 am

Nikon Introduces Versatile Ultra Wide-Angle 10-24mm DX-Format Nikkor 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.

Nikon Inc. today announced the next addition to the expansive NIKKOR lineup with the new AF-S DX-NIKKOR 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED lens, giving photographers the opportunity to capture a unique perspective in a variety of shooting environments. Compact and lightweight, the new 2.4x zoom DX-NIKKOR lens offers a focal length of 10 to 24mm, creating a picture angle ranging from 109-degrees to 61-degrees
(FX-format equivalent of 15-36mm) making it ideal for a variety of applications including restrictive interiors, architecture and sweeping landscapes.
af-s_dx_nikkor_10-24mm_f-3_5-4_5g_ed_01
“The development and release of the 10-24mm f/ 3.5-4.5 DX-NIKKOR lens continues Nikon’s tradition of providing expertly engineered tools for photographers to realize their unique creative vision,” said Edward Fasano, General Manager for marketing, SLR Systems Products at Nikon Inc. “The ultra wide-angle 10-24mm lens offers DX-format digital SLR shooters the outstanding performance for which NIKKOR optics are well-known and the opportunity to capture dramatic perspectives that only wide-angle lenses can achieve.”

The AF-S DX-NIKKOR 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED lens offers an array of versatile Nikon technologies, including Nikon’s compact Silent Wave Motor (SWM) technology for quiet, fast and accurate autofocus performance. An advanced optical formula, featuring two extra-low dispersion (ED) glass and three aspherical lens elements renders stunning images while minimizing distortion, a common problem with ultra wide-angle lenses.

A rounded diaphragm opening, combined with the seven-blade aperture, contributes to the 10-24mm lens’ ability to capture images with soft background effects, referred to by experienced photographers as the “bokeh.” Additionally, the new DX-NIKKOR lens offers the user two focus modes; manual and automatic and features an M/A mode that allows the photographer to quickly switch between the two modes. Both use an internal focusing (IF) design that enhances AF speed and eliminates lens barrel rotation and changes to lens barrel length during focusing.

Fully compatible with Nikon’s complete line of DX-format digital SLR cameras – including the D300, D90, D60, D40 and the newly announced D5000 – the AF-S DX-NIKKOR 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED lens enables photographers to broaden their view in new and interesting ways. FX-format shooters can also benefit from the AF-S DX-NIKKOR 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED, as Nikon’s FX-format cameras – the D3X, D3, and D700 – will automatically apply the DX-Crop Mode when shooting.

The AF-S DX-NIKKOR 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED will be available at Nikon authorized dealers beginning May 2009 at an estimated selling price of $899.95. For more information, please visit www.nikonusa.com.

Nikon’s D5000 Digital SLR Camera Expands Possibilities for Photo and HD Video Creativity with D-Movie Mode, Vari-Angle LCD Monitor and 19 Automatic Scene Modes

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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.

Nikon Inc. today introduced the new D5000, a digital SLR camera with a host of features and capabilities that deliver superior performance and image quality along with amazing versatility for photo enthusiasts and those new to digital SLR photography. Leveraging Nikon’s expertise and innovative technologies found in its pro-level D-SLRs, the 12.3-megapixel D5000 enables users to capture exceptionally stunning images and High Definition video with remarkable ease.

d5000_ambience_1Whether consumers are progressing from a point-and-shoot digital camera or looking to upgrade their current digital SLR and elevate their photographic expression, the D5000 serves as an ideal solution. First time D-SLR photographers will appreciate logical and easy-to-use controls, while creative enthusiasts will appreciate the D5000’s robust combination of features, technologies and performance. The D5000 boasts a versatile 2.7-inch Vari-angle LCD monitor that encourages shooting with a fresh perspective, Nikon’s revolutionary D-Movie Mode and expanded automatic Scene Modes, delivering superior Nikon innovation in a compact, user-friendly design.

“The Nikon D5000 represents a cornerstone in Nikon’s D-SLR line, marrying simplicity and instructive features with superior technology and HD video, allowing the user’s ability and creativity to grow—with the camera,” said Edward Fasano, General Manager for marketing, SLR System Products at Nikon Inc. “While its easy-to-use design will attract first-time D-SLR photographers, the D5000’s rich feature set and high performance will also appeal immediately to more experienced enthusiasts. The D5000 is sure to inspire creativity and originality.”

Broadened Creativity and Adaptability
Photographers can easily compose stunning images on the Vari-angle LCD monitor that they can view in a normal position fitting securely within the camera back, or swung out to be rotated or tilted. The monitor can also be stowed with the LCD panel tucked against the camera back to protect the screen when not in use. This tremendous freedom of movement, along with four Live View autofocus shooting modes, affords users the opportunity to shoot from a multitude of imaginative angles. Easy one-button Live View activation now features Subject Tracking autofocus (AF), which automatically locks onto a moving subject. Even if the subject leaves the frame and returns, Subject Tracking AF maintains focus, making the D5000 ideal for capturing fast moving children and pets. In addition to Subject Tracking AF in Live View, the D5000 features Face Priority AF, which automatically detects up to five faces in a scene and focuses on the closest subject; Wide Area AF, which offers a large AF area for optimal hand-held shooting; and Normal Area AF, which provides pinpoint accuracy when shooting with a tripod.

The D5000’s D-Movie Mode allows users the exciting ability to record HD movie clips (1280 x 720) at a cinematic 24 frames per second with sound. Photographers will appreciate the quality produced whether creating vacation clips or intertwining still photographs and movies in a post-production creative montage. Additionally, the D5000 is compatible with a comprehensive assortment of AF-S NIKKOR interchangeable lenses to provide users with the ability to capture perspectives not possible with typical consumer video recording devices. When using any NIKKOR VR lens, D-Movie clips benefit from Nikon VR image stabilization, which automatically activates during recording to deliver added sharpness and image stability. VR image stabilization also extends the D5000’s performance in low-light situations. D-Movie clips are recorded onto an inserted SD or SDHC memory card and saved as Motion JPEG AVI files for easy editing with widely available video editing software.

d5000_ambience_4

Further bridging the gap between point-and-shoot cameras and more advanced D-SLRs are the D5000’s 19 automatic Scene Modes, which free users to capture beautiful images without having to manually adjust camera settings. With the broad range of automatic Scene Modes, including Sports, Portrait, Candlelight, Silhouette, Autumn Colors and more, D5000 is the perfect camera for anyone looking to make inspiring images in challenging photographic conditions.

The D5000 also incorporates a comprehensive set of in-camera editing features to make the most of captured images without the need of a computer. The D5000 also introduces several new Retouch features, including a Soft Filter effect, which applies a smooth appearance to faces or the entire image; Perspective Control, which helps correct distortions in perspective often encountered in photographs of architecture; and Color Outline, which creates monochrome outlines of objects in images by eliminating color and tonal gradations. The D5000 saves each of these edited images as a separate JPEG file, ensuring the original image is left unmodified. With Nikon’s exclusive Picture Control Settings, photographers can quickly select various image appearance profiles that include Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait and Landscape settings. In addition, Picture Control provides the ability to create and store up to nine user-defined custom profiles to reflect each user’s personal preferences for hue, color saturation and image sharpening.

Extensive playback options allow users to review their photos in groups of four, nine, or 72 thumbnail images. Alternatively, users can select the Calendar View to easily group and select images by date. These playback features can be viewed either on the Vari-angle LCD or an HDTV with HDMI connectivity available via a dedicated HDMI port on the camera.

Proven Image Excellence
Consumers will immediately appreciate the benefits of the D5000’s 12.3-megapixel CMOS sensor coupled with Nikon’s exclusive EXPEED image processing system, which delivers highly detailed images with vibrant color reproduction and low noise across a broad ISO range. The D5000’s normal ISO range extends from ISO 200 to 3200, allowing for superior shooting in low-light conditions. Additionally, the D5000’s ISO range can be expanded to a Lo 1 setting of ISO 100 or a Hi 1 setting of ISO 6400, furthering the opportunities for previously impossible shots.

Nikon’s exclusive 3D Color Matrix Metering II, in conjunction with the EXPEED image processing system, contributes to the D5000’s ability to capture breathtaking images by instantly evaluating the exposure elements of each scene and comparing it to an onboard database of information from more than 30,000 images. These split-second calculations allow the D5000 to ensure the right exposure—even when conditions are extreme. To push creative boundaries even further, the D5000 allows picture-takers to also use Center-Weighted and Spot Metering for added personal control.

Smooth, Swift and Quiet Operation
The D5000’s 11-point auto focus system utilizes Nikon’s exclusive Scene Recognition System with Face Detection to help create the best possible images in a variety of shooting environments. Nikon’s 11-point AF offers best-in-class speed and accuracy, helping to ensure sharp focus, shot-after-shot. Single-point AF is suggested for static subjects, Dynamic-area AF for moving subjects, Auto-area AF for spontaneous shooting and 3D-tracking with 11 AF points for maintaining accurate focus on a subject moving throughout the frame.

Paired with Nikon’s AF-S NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR image stabilization lens and the ability to shoot at four frames per second, the D5000 easily captures moments other cameras miss. Nikon’s VR image stabilization lenses reduce the blurring in images due to camera shake, allowing photographers to shoot hand-held at as many as three full stops slower than would otherwise be possible.*

The new D5000 also features the innovative Integrated Dust Reduction System, which offers both an electronic sensor cleaning when the camera is powered on and/or off and the Airflow Control System, which directs dust away from the sensor with every snap of the shutter. These functions work to clear image-degrading dust from the sensor’s optical low-pass filter, helping to ensure spot-free images. In addition, the D5000 features a Quiet Release Mode that reduces the mirror cycling noise for discreet shooting in sensitive situations, such as weddings and other ceremonies.

System Expandability
Photographers and enthusiasts alike can also appreciate the D5000’s system expandability, as the camera can work in conjunction with a variety of Nikon accessories including a broad assortment of NIKKOR AF-S interchangeable lenses. While the D5000 offers a versatile built-in flash, the camera is also compatible with Nikon’s Creative Lighting System and capable of Advanced Wireless Lighting when using the SB-900 Speedlight or the SU-800 Wireless Commander. For those looking to document their photo excursions with geo-tagging, the D5000 is compatible with the optional GP-1 GPS Unit, which automatically records latitude, longitude, altitude and time information when a picture is taken.

The D5000 also works seamlessly with Nikon’s powerful Capture NX 2 image editing software (available for purchase separately), for more advanced photographers seeking greater control over their post-capture images. Capture NX 2 simplifies the path to beautiful images with easy-to-learn editing tools and a highly versatile and elegantly simple interface, which streamline editing procedures.

Price and Availability
The D5000 outfit, which includes the AF-S NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR lens, will be available at Nikon Authorized dealers beginning in late April 2009 at an estimated selling price of $849.95. For consumers who want to configure their D5000 system or for photographers who need an additional D-SLR body for an existing system, the D5000 will also be offered as a body only for an estimated selling price of $729.95. For more information, please visit www.nikonusa.com.

Gear to Own: Litepanels Micro

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Good lighting equipment is fundamental to photography and there’s a variety of gear to choose from. One of the nicest pieces of equipment I’ve seen is the Litepanels Micro light.
Suited for both video and still photography – especially handy if you have a Nikon D90 or a Canon 5D Mark II – the Micro light is a constant output light source that can be mounted on the camera’s hot shoe or on a stand. It’s small, weighing in just under 4 ounces, and is perfect for filling in shadows and adding light to eyes. This is a perfect setup for portrait work.

The Micro has a dimmer switch that allows the user to dim the light from 100% down to 0, and is flicker- and heat free. The Micro operates on 4 AA batteries and can produce an estimated 1.5 hours of continual output on one set of regular alkaline batteries. Power can also be supplied through a 5-12V input jack.

The unit has won PC Photo magazine’s Editors’ Choice award and Digital Content Producer’s Pick Hit 08.

The street value is around $300 US, which is a little less than you would pay for a shoe mount flash.

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.

Ringing Endorsement of Calumet Photo

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I want to give Calumet Photo in New York City a full (and free) endorsement. I was in NYC recently and went to B&H Photo, Adorama and Calumet looking for a few pieces of equipment I really wanted. While all the shops were good, I was completely and totally impressed with the folks at Calumet. It’s what a real “camera shop” should be.

The NYC shop is located in Manhattan at 22 W. 22nd Street, between 5th and 6th Avenue. For those visiting the city, it’s a nice walk from Times Square. Plus, if you walk down 5th Avenue, you’ll see St. Patrick’s Cathedral (Fifth Avenue between 50th and 51st Street), Rockefeller Center, and all of the high-end fashion stores on the famous avenue.

I suggest the walk. I also suggest a stop at Jamba Juice located at 176 Fifth Avenue, it’s right around the corner from Calumet and it’s a nice place to stop and relax after your walk to the store.

Now I have nothing against Adorama or B&H. These two companies are photo equipment retail giants. B&H in particular has an amazing selection of gear in the store but it’s a little too “Now Serving Customer 3,282” for me. I don’t enjoy feeling like I’m just another guy in a long line of other people waiting to pick up the next item in a long line of items. I don’t expect the whole store to stop and bow to my every needs, but I do like a sense of customer service.

Calumet did just that. Although it was busy both days (yes, I went two days in a row) the sales staff took time to answer my questions and help me find the products I was looking for.

Although Calumet has a Web presence, if you live or are visiting in a city where there’s a retail store, I highly recommend the stop. You’ll be glad you did. Also, if you’re looking for a rental supplier, they have a full line of equipment ready to go at reasonable rates.

Store Locations in the U.S.:
Oak Brook, Illinois
Boston
Chicago
Los Angeles
New York
Santa Ana, California
Santa Barbara
San Diego
San Francisco
Philadelphia

Written by jeremyparce

April 8, 2009 at 10:00 am