Light is Everything!

Archive for July, 2013

Nikon 70-200 f/4

20130730-70-200f4Prod-001OK, I did it. I pulled the trigger on a 70-200. After reviewing them all at The Camera Store, and heavily leaning towards the Tamron, in the end, I went with Nikon’s new f/4. Why? Well, to be honest, weight. When I put this lens on the camera, it doesn’t feel like it’s going to snap my wrists in half after an hour of use. Even with my Black Rapid strap, the 70-200 f/2.8 is beastly heavy. I thought that this lens will do double duty for event/portraits and landscape. If I ever go on trip somewhere and want to haul my DSLR kit with me (instead of my travellin’ buddy the Fuji X100s) then the f/4 is a far nicer choice to carry around at roughly half the weight. πŸ˜€

So I tested my copy of the lens for focus accuracy and it’s bang on which is nice (for once) and I decided to put it to the test taking some ambient light candids of our neighbourhood population of feral children. You can tell that they are wild because their parents don’t care enough about them to bathe them. πŸ˜‰ And also a few wildlife shots. Mainly with this test, I was looking for bohek performance (but check out the 100% crop [2.4MB] on the cow to see the resolving power at f/4 on the D800!).

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How do the out of focus parts of the image look? After all, it’s not a 2.8. Take a look at the images and see for yourself. To my eye, there’s no great difference, especially as you get towards 200mm in the big time telephoto. And, lets face it, if you want the ultimate in bokeh, grab your 85 f/1.8 or 1.4. That lens is going to obliterate the 2.8 even. Plus, for the cost difference of this f/4, you can also buy the 85mm f/1.8 and have the best of both worlds! What’s not to love?! 😎

So here’s the test shots. Color correction & water mark are the only edits. Let me know what you think. I’ll be doing a YouTube video on this lens too in the near future.

 


New Toys – Orbis Ring Flash

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One of my latest acquisitions is the Orbis Ring Flash. Β LOVE IT!!!! I’ve only used it for 10 minutes and it rocks the set. I love the quality of light! It’s unlike any other mod I’ve ever used and the catch lights are super cool. I can’t wait to try this out on some glam/wedding stuff. Β But I also wanna do the David Hobby signature look with an umbrella over head and ring light as fill. It’s gonna be awesome! 😎 My local, on site guinea pigs were handy to try out the new mod. Hanky and Ethan couldn’t wait to be my subjects. Ethan just finished a cup of hot chocolate, hence the gribbly jib. πŸ˜‰ No time to edit!

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Three 70-200s

I’m on a quick holiday to Calgary & Cochrane Alberta, primarily for my cousin’s wedding this weekend, but also for a bit of family fun too. Fortunately, family fun for me equals going to The Camera Store and playing with telephoto zooms. I’ve been debating getting a 70-200 lens for quite some time. I love my primes and primarily shoot them, but for events like weddings, they’re just not versatile enough for fast paced situations. So, Dave at the Camera Store was nice enough to setup three lenses for me on a D800. The Nikon 70-200 f/4, the 70-200 f/2.8 and of special interest, the Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 VC. I was curious to see how these lenses performed against each other in typical wedding-esque crappy lighting (the Camera Store was kind enough to provide that scenario for me). πŸ˜‰ Β The most interest to me was in the Tamron after I read how DxO Mark rated it.

So, I provide for your viewing pleasure three sample images that have been downsized to 1024px – mainly to see how the bokeh looks. I shot all the photos at 200mm, wide open, auto WB, and ISO 1600-3200. It simulated real life event photography in low light perfectly. And, I also included 3 100% crop images so you can see the detail that the lenses offer. It should also be noted that I shot them all hand held between 1/60 – 1/125 – truly testing the VR/VC performance of these lenses. Β They all performed amazingly well and I was very impressed by all three. I knew the Nikon f/2.8 was stellar, but I was blown away to discover the others did just as good! πŸ˜€

So, first up, the Tamron:

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Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 VC, 1/80 f/2.8 ISO 1600 @200mm

Next, the 70-200 f/2.8 Nikon

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Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 1/125 f/2.8 ISO 3200 @200mm

And, here’s the f/4

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Nikon 70-200 f/4 1/60 f/4 ISO 3200

So, they all look good. Nice bokeh. The difference between f/2.8 and f/4 isn’t all that big, but it is a whole stop of light. It’s all very smooth and pleasing.

OK, here’s the crops so you can check out the details. No noise removal of any kind on these shots:

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Tamron

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Nikon f/2.8

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Nikon f/4

So there’s the stuff. I’m totally impressed by all three, they performed wonderfully and are very sharp. The f/4 is smaller and lighter than the other 2, renders sweet bokeh and performs awesomely with the new VR. But you lose that extra stop of light for that light, travel friendly form factor. It is the cheapest of the three at $1279.99. The 2.8 version is $2129.99, a whopping $850 bones more. And then, there’s the gem of the bunch, the Tamron. It’s around $1600 so it falls in between Nikon’s offerings. The image quality is just as good as can be seen above – if not better on DxO Marks testing. If the f/4 won’t do it for you and you need the extra 2.8 stop, then I’d go with the Tamron over the Nikon flagship. The images are just superb either way, might as well save the cash, unless you need the Nikon street cred. The f/4 is awesome too, and so much lighter, which I why I would almost pick it, especially since the ISO performance of today’s cameras are so good. They’re always a bit of trade off, depending on one’s needs. After this test, I’m heavily leaning towards the Tamron. 😎


LumoPro LP180

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Well shut my mouth! My new dynamic duo of LP180 flashes by LumoPro just arrived today. Shazam!! These flashes ROCK THE SET. This blog post will not be a lengthy review as the gurus and the wannabes have already put them up on YouTube. Here’s a cool vid from LumoPro!

I shoot Nikon CLS because it is convenient to us my SU-800 commander to control flash output from camera, and I won’t be leaving that system anytime soon. However, I wanted a couple more flashes. The problem is, Nikon CLS is an expensive premium to pay on every flash you buy. I thought about getting another SB-900 or 910, but they’re over $500 bones. The SB-700 is a good flash but still pricey at $350. And at most, I’d want the flashes to be accent lights or background lights or some such thing. But then LumoPro makes the best flash in the history of the world that you can quad sync (4 different ways), that comes with 2 sets of rocsco gels, that offers perfect, simple manual control, and I was totally sold . . . for $199 each! EACH! That’s awesome! It means that I bought 2 of these amazing flashes for less than one SB-910. Pure awesome! 😎

Here’s the best thing in the world about these flashes besides all the above mentioned awesomeness:

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LumoPro LP180 flash mounted directly to stand on axis through the mod, triggered by a Nikon SC-29 cable shot on a Fuji X100s. How’s that for multi-camera-cultural?

Uh huh. That’s right sports fans! That LP180 flash comes with a built in 1/4 x 20 mount on the side so you can just attach the flash directly to a stand and blast light right down the axis of the umbrella/light mod. THAT’S AWESOME!!!!! πŸ˜€ The light comes directly to the center of the mod instead of upright on a hot shoe, which is always precarious at best anyways. This system makes SO MUCH sense. I wish Nikon would add it to all their flashes.

The optical slaves work awesome, I tried triggering them with my D800 and SU-800 and they work perfectly. Which means they can be triggered by the infrared commander I use for my normal lighting setups. Which means they will seamlessly integrate into my workflow, other than having to be adjusted manually for power output. Big whoop! I’ll walk the extra 5 feet for what I saved in not buying Nikon CLS speedlights.

And lastly, the awesome attention to detail in the packaging. Pure awesome! LumoPro, you’ve made a dandy product! 😎20130720-LP180-003

 


Crazy Storms

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We’ve been in our own veritable Tornado Alley these past couple of weeks. Crazy summer storms have been unbelievably violent, but the clouds have been equally beautiful as well, in their own sinister way. I’m fortunate that our house borders open pasture land so I can get sweet views of the sky without having to travel very far. 😎

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Plants and Massage and Heavy Machinery and Camping and Guns

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Well it’s been a bit of a gong show as of late. This past week was our Annual University pals campin’ trip. It was also the week when my Sacroiliac ligament decided to tell me to get bent. So, as my lovely wife boldly went camping as a single mom with our 3 hooligan children, I camped out on my mom and dad’s couch in Moose Jaw. It was brutally awful pain that left me debilitated and lying flat on a couch. I’ve never watched so many movies! But a couple of Chiropractor treatments and a massage later, I’m about 34% better. 😎 Needless to say, I didn’t do as much photo taking as I would have liked!

As the week went on, I was able to be a bit more mobil. I walked around mom’s garden and nabbed some flower shots with the X100s. The macro mode is pretty sweet. As mom and dad’s street was ripped up for construction, there was a bunch of heavy equipment lying around. My brother, who permanently looks like a heavy equipment operator was over so I conned him into doing a shot. Dad’s Canon 580 EX II flash through a mini beauty dish as key and my SB-900 on a small stand in an umbrella for fill triggered optically in SU-4 mode.

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Then, after my final chiropractor treatment, I joined the campin’ throng in Grenfell for a couple of days. I blasted of some B&W candids of the kids and of course, our annual group photo.

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And, I was able to nab a few shots of my buddy Craig who fortunately is ready for the next Zombie Apocalypse at all times. heheheheh… 😎 All in all it was a very nice “vacation” for me. It was great to see everyone even if it was only for a short time. I’m hoping to be back in the saddle soon and recover from my injuries. Lot’s of rest and more lying around. Woe to me. πŸ˜‰

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Grad 2013: Logan

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Look at this handsome & dashing young man ready to start the world on fire! We had a fast and furious grad shoot, but not with sports cars or Tokyo drift. Instead, we had the venerable Model-T Ford. 😎 And, we got to make an incredible photo with three generations of Hammermeisters alongside the Model-T and their iconic mini grain elevator in the background. There’s a lot of history in these parts and I have been privileged to be part of it for a couple of years. πŸ˜€ It was a metric tonne of fun doing this shoot and I wish Logan all the best in his future endeavours. God bless, my friend!


Grad 2013: Alexandria

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Alexandria ain’t just a town in Egypt. πŸ˜‰ Another one of my little Lutheran lambs, I’ve known Alex since she was a wee one. It’s amazing to see these kids grow up right before your eyes and become . . . adults!!! It’s crazy. But I guess, given enough time, it happens to all of us. Makes me feel old! πŸ˜• But regardless of my sentiment, we had another great grad shoot. It was done ahead of grad day so we had lots of leisurely time at our disposal. I like that because it means greater opportunity to make even more photos you’d otherwise have to pass up on the fast paced grad day. Josh did a great job as escort too. He gets to add lighting assistant to his resumΓ©. hehheh… All the best to the both of you in post high school life! 😎


Grad 2013: Alyce

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Grad in Saskatchewan is, how shall we say, a wee bit different. πŸ˜‰ Nah, just kiddin’! Especially when you have an awesome couple o’ kids to work with. I’ve known Alyce for almost 6 years now, which is hard to believe. Where does the time go! I was stoked to take her grad pics. She was up for anything and we had a great grad shoot. Her family through a shindig out at the family farm last night and brought my trusty fuji along and we got the shot above. We were going for the quintessential Saskatchewan Grad look. Motorbike? Check. Glorious grad dress? Check. Rider hat? Check. Camo hat? Check. Killer sky? Check! Add in some cool dramatic light and viola! It’s a keeper. πŸ™‚ All the best to you Alyce, you’re an amazing girl! Β . . . And, your escort Riley is not too shabby either. 😎