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January 5th, 2015

Sony Brings Its Action Camera Into the 4K Era

 

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GoPro no longer has the 4K action camera market to itself. At CES, Sony has added 4K (3840×2160) recording to its new flagship action camera, the FDR-X100V.

Several advanced functions from Sony’s A7 camera line have also trickled down to the X100V, including full pixel readout during recording, which reduces jagged edges and false colors by pulling all of the data off the CMOS sensor. When shooting in 4K at 30 frames per second, you’ll enjoy bit rates of 100Mbps or 60Mbps when shooting at 24 fps. The X100V can record in full HD at up to 120 fps or at 240 fps when shooting at 720p resolution. It also supports Sony’s XAVC S codec.

The optical image stabilization system has been revamped from earlier action cams with a specific emphasis on stabilizing the camera for use on drones where low amplitude vibrations can induce nauseating jitters. The lens will provide the same 170-degree angle of view as previous Sony action cams.

Sony has added wind reduction to the stereo microphone as well as automatic exposure control and white balance settings to give pro users more latitude when adjusting exposure.X100V_in_the_box-1200

Also new for Sony’s 2015 action cam line is a Loop Recording feature, which lets you designate a recording time interval and when the camera hits the end of the allotted time, it will automatically loop back to the beginning and start over-writing previously recorded footage with new video. You can set loop recording at 5, 20, 60, or 120-minute intervals or set it to unlimited and it will use the entire capacity of your memory card.

For those in search of a quick, shareable highlight reel from the day’s adventure, a new Highlight Movie Maker function uses algorithms pegged to the cameras gyro sensor to flag content recorded when the camera was moving or turning rapidly and compiles the clips automatically into a short movie.

The X100V will be slightly larger than Sony’s existing action cams, so it won’t be compatible with older waterproof cases. Look for it in March for $500 or for $600 when bundled with the new RM-LVR2 live view remote. The new remote is waterproof to a depth of 10 feet and lets you control Sony’s action cameras and preview images.

AS200V_side1-1200If you don’t need the 4K experience, Sony’s new full HD HDR-AS200V updates the AS100V with Loop Record, Highlight Movie Maker, the full pixel readout functionality and a wind-reduction microphone. It will also ship in March for $300 or for $400 with the new live view remote.

 

December 23rd, 2014

PDNPulse: Top Stories of 2014

As another fascinating year in the world of professional photography comes to a close, we look back on the stories that drew the most interest from PDNPulse readers this year.

From manipulated news photos, to photographers arrested for doing their jobs, to collaborative efforts between photographers and an interview with one of photography’s most influential star makers, these stories capture some of the highs and lows of the photography business today.

1: George Steinmetz Wonders: Was It Worth Getting Arrested for National Geographic Cover Story Photos

2: 2014 Winter Olympics Op-Ed: Everything You’ve Read About Problems for Photographers in Sochi is True

3: PDN Video: Lens Blog’s James Estrin’s Career Tips for Photojournalists

4: Photographers Share Intimate Images of Loved Ones for Curated Photo Website

5: AP Severs Ties With Photographer Narciso Contreras Over Photoshopped Image
5a: Photographer Fired by AP Says Decision Was Fair, But Process Wasn’t

6: How Much Do Editorial Clients Pay? “Wiki” Gives Names and Fees

7: If that Kim Kardashian Photo Looks Familiar…

8: Calumet Photographic to Liquidate, Closes U.S. Stores

9: Photographer Creates Free iPhone App for His Signature Style

10: Wal-mart Sues Photographer’s Widow Claiming Copyright for Decades of Portraits of Walton Family

11: Suffolk County Pays $200K to Settle News Photographer’s Unlawful Arrest Claim

12: How Should Clients React to Sexual Coercion Allegations Against Terry Richardson?

13: AP Photographer Anja Niedringhaus Killed in Afghanistan

14: Cowboy Lifestyle Photographer David Stoecklein Dies, 65

15: Photojournalist Camille Lapage, 26, “Murdered” in Central African Republic

November 20th, 2014

Gear Roundup: Must-rent Equipment from CSI Rentals

Sponsored by CSI Rentals

For many photographers and videographers, few things in life are more precious than gear. As the page turns on 2015, visual storytellers have a surplus of technological riches available to them, and at equipment rental hotspots like CSI Rentals in New York City, it’s easy to keep up with changing technology and trends. CSI makes the process even easier with perks like a mobile website to reserve gear, and nationwide shipping for shoots that take you outside of the city. Here are a few products to keep on your radar for your next project.

1) Canon Cinema C100 with Dual Pixel AF Sensor
Canon C100
CSI Rentals offers many different cinema cameras and packages. Among them is the new, upgraded Canon C100 with Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology. The EOS C100 offers an autofocus mode to help ensure sharp focus and smooth focus transitions. The upgrade provides a new Continuous AF (Autofocus) function for all autofocus lenses, using Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology.
CSI Rentals daily / weekend rate: $195

2) Canon 7D Mark II

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CSI Rentals also now rents the latest Canon 7D Mark II, the first EOS DSLR to run dual DIGIC 6 processors, a one-two computational punch that powers a 10 frames per second (fps) burst mode. Canon bumped up the buffer to accommodate up to 31 RAW images or 1,900 JPEGs, vastly surpassing the original 7D’s 130-JPEG buffer. The 7D Mark II also employs a new 65 cross-type AF system for better low light focusing as well as an improved version of the Dual Pixel CMOS AF found in the C100 above.

The 20-megapixel 7D Mark II uses a newly developed APS-C-sized sensor with a native ISO range of 100 to 16,000 for stills and video. The camera records 1920 x 1080/60p HD and features a 3-inch display or a viewfinder with a 100-percent field of view that can overlay data such as an electronic level display or a grid. Built-in GPS is also on hand for geo-tagging images. The 7D Mark II’s magnesium alloy body offers four times the moisture and dust resistance of the original 7D so inclement weather shouldn’t be an obstacle to your shoot.
CSI Rentals Daily/weekend rental rate: $60

 

3) DJI Ronin Handheld Gimbal
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CSI Rentals has a full line of camera rigs, sliders, and stabilizers, and has recently added the new DJI Ronin handheld gimbal to its lineup. Famous for its drones, DJI has its own brushless gimbal based around the company’s 3-axis stabilized Zenmuse technology—the same found on its flying machines—for run-and-gun filmmaking. The Ronin will support a wide range of camera bodies—from Micro Four Thirds cameras like Panasonic’s GH4 to cinema cams like the RED Scarlet. A tool-less balance adjustment system simplifies your set-up and DJI promises you’ll be up and shooting (and running) in five minutes. A SmoothTrack Control features gives a single camera operator the ability to turn rapid tilting and panning into smooth, stabilized movements. The included remote control lets a second operator wirelessly pan and tilt the Ronin while the first operator physically moves the device to compose a shot. An Upright Mode lets you flip the gimbal over so you can bring the camera closer to eye level.
CSI Rentals Daily / Weekend rental rate: $225

 

4) Blackmagic Design URSA
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Designed to be operated by either large crews or a single operator, the URSA sports a pair of 5-inch touch screen displays on both sides for control over audio and other camera settings. There’s a huge 10-inch flip-out LCD for framing your scene or navigating through the camera’s menu. The guts of the URSA are composed of a Super 35mm-sized, 4K image sensor that supports frame rates up to 60p and 12 stops of dynamic range. It also boasts a global shutter. BlackMagic’s pitch with the URSA is its future-proofing. The sensor and lens mount assembly can be changed so sensors can be field-upgradeable and you can mount either EF or PL lenses to the camera body to suit your needs. You can record either ProRes or Ultra HD 12-bit lossless Cinema DNG RAW to a pair of hot-swappable CFast cards.
CSI Rentals Day / Weekend Rental Daily rate: $350

 

5) iKan iLED 312
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There are plenty of new lights to illuminate your production. Among the newcomers that caught our eye is the iKan iLED 312. This on-camera LED delivers a wide-angle 60-degree beam for consistent lighting with a variable color temperature between 3200 tungsten and 5600K daylight. A dimmer can adjust light intensity from 10 to 100 percent and a built-in LCD display gives you a read out on all of the light’s vitals: brightness level, color temperature and remaining battery life.
CSI Rentals Daily/ Weekend rate: $35

 

6) Profoto B1
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Another lighting must-rent is Profoto’s B1 500. This battery-powered monolight lets you cut the cord so your flash can always be with you. Compatible with the full range of Profoto light modifiers, the B1 offers TTL metering for Canon and Nikon cameras with the company’s Air Remote. At 500 Watts, it’s about 10x more powerful than speedlights for when freezing action and getting studio results outdoors is a must.
CSI Rentals Daily / Weekend rate: $50

If you’re in the New York City area, you can stop by CSI Rental locations in Manhattan or Brooklyn to speak with a rental expert onsite. It’s one thing to watch a YouTube tutorial, quite another to speak with an expert in the flesh with the technology in hand.  Visit www.csirentals.com to see their locations, inventory and rates, and check out their app for iOS and Android mobile devices.

November 18th, 2014

My Adidas: Company Printing Customer Photos on Sneakers

Left: a screen shot of the #miZXFLUX app image adjustment screen. Right: the preview screen of the #miZXFLUX app.

Our special edition PDN Tulipmania sneakers. Left: A screen shot of the #miZXFLUX app image adjustment screen. Right: The preview screen of the #miZXFLUX app.

Earlier this month, athletic and lifestyle apparel company adidas launched an app, #miZXFLUX, that allows customers to use their own photographs to create unique sneakers.

Customers can use the app to scale and size their images on a pair ZX Flux sneakers, which are modeled on the ZX 8000 running shoes adidas originally released in 1988. The photo-printed shoes cost $110, and the app is available for Apple and Android devices.

An adidas representative told Sports Illustrated about the materials and printing process. The images customers upload from their phones are upscaled and sharpened from the 115dpi minimum resolution before they are printed. “We actually improve the photo from the phone and final production is 300 dpi printing quality,” adidas global digital manager Mac Russell told SI.com.

Adidas’s Vietnam factory uses “a large wool printer” to ink the photographs onto single pieces of synthetic leather for the shoe’s upper, Russell added.

It will be interesting to see if any professional photographers take advantage of the technology. In addition to creating shoes with great images, enterprising photographers might come up with good marketing and promo efforts. Feel free to email us if you need our shoe sizes.

November 10th, 2014

Canon’s New 100-400mm Lens Is Steadier Than Ever

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It’s been 16 years since Canon shooters have seen a new 100-400mm EF lens. The wait is now over.

The second generation EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L II USM lens is official and boasts improved image stabilization, giving it four stops of stabilization versus the 1.5 available on the first generation model. Image stabilization is also now tripod sensitive and will be available in three modes: standard, panning and during exposure only.

The lens has been redesigned from the original “push-pull” zoom to a rotating zoom that Canon says will keep the lens steadier and more precise when zooming. The zoom torque adjustment ring has had its own makeover so you can set your zoom tension more easily.

The optical formula has been revamped as well. There is now one Flourite and one Super UD lens element in the lens as well as newly developed Air Sphere Coating to minimize flaring and ghosting.

The new 100-400mm will be able to focus on objects as close as 3.2 feet away.

The lens will offer Flourine coatings on the front and rear surfaces to keep dusty and water from beading on the lens and will feature a weather resistant magnesium housing to keep it safe from the elements.

It will ship with a new lens hood that will feature a slide window for quick access to lens filters, so you don’t have to pop the hood off to adjust your filter. The tripod mount has also been redesigned so that it’s quickly detachable.

The new 100-400mm will hit retail in December carrying a $2,199 price tag.

November 7th, 2014

First Hasselblad Camera Used in Space Up for Auction

Atlas CameraYou can own a piece of photographic–and space–history next week when the first Hasselblad camera body and Zeiss Planar 80mm lens carried into orbit on the Mercury-Atlas 8 goes up for auction.

The Hasselblad 500c was purchased by astronaut Wally Schirra from a Houston photo shop in 1962. The camera was not blasted into space as-is. Schirra, fellow astronaut Gordon Cooper and the U.S. Air Force camera lab made their own tweaks, such as adding a 100-exposure film container, an aiming device on the side of the camera and a new paint job to minimize reflections.

The camera snapped multiple images of Earth from orbit as it travelled on what was America’s fifth manned mission to space.

The camera will be auctioned by Boston’s RR Auction on November 13. The terrestrial version of the 500c is fetching $400 on eBay. The celestial version, with the custom film container and lens, may command up to an astronomical $100,000 in auction.

UPDATE: It did much better than $100,000. The camera sold for $275,000!

October 30th, 2014

PhotoPlus Expo 2014: LG Intros 4K Monitor, Super-Wide Screen Models

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Looking to jump on the growing number of 4K capture devices entering the market, LG has announced a new 4K-capable monitor tipped at video editors and others needing a large, high-resolution and color-accurate workspace.

The 31-inch IPS monitor (model 31MU97) will have a resolution of 4096 x 2160 with support for Maxx Audio and the Adobe RGB color space. The display has an aspect ratio of 16:9 with a color depth of 10-bit. It offers two HDMI ports, DisplayPort, MiniDP and three USB 3.0 jacks.

It’s shipping now for $1,399.

The company also showed off a new pair of “ultra-wide” monitors with an aspect ratio of 21:9.

The 39UC97 is a curved monitor that measures in at 34-inches diagonally. It features an IPS panel with a resolution of 3440 x 1440. It features a Thunderbolt 2 port and supports Maxx Audio with a 7 Watt speaker system built in. It’s available now for $1,299.

Finally the 34UM95 will share some of the features of its curved sibling but will be slighly smaller at 33.7-inches diagonal. It ships with True Color Finder calibration software and features LG’s 4-Screen Split feature that divides the screen into four sections with a choice of eight screen ratios. It also supports Dual-Link Up which lets you connect two sources to the display and display both on the screen simultaneously. As far as connectivity goes, this monitor has two HDMI ports, DisplayPort and two ThunderBolt 2 connections.

It’s available now for $999.

October 29th, 2014

Step Ahead: Preserving Memories With Mylio

Mylio Screen

Sponsored by Mylio

Mylio is a powerful new software tool that lets your photos do the talking. Simply stated, Mylio aims to solve the central dilemma facing photographers of all skill levels: how to find, organize and safeguard an ever-growing library of digital memories across all of our multiplying devices. From the professional photographer with a library of RAW files, to the casual snap-shooter hunting for an iPhone shot of the kids, Mylio’s software is intuitive and streamlined, allowing image-makers to focus on what truly matters: the photographs.

Joe McNally knows the value of photographic memories. In addition to his work as an acclaimed professional photographer, he’s a prolific speaker and educator within the photographic community. And like everyone else, he has personal memories to preserve alongside his professional output. For McNally, Mylio can help with both. When asked to select the most important image he’s taken in his storied career, he says, “I’ve photographed famous, beautiful people. Not to mention heads of state, movers and shakers and heroes of the athletic field. But none are as important to me as this one: my kid, trying to walk.”

Joe McNally Daughter
Photo © Joe McNally

McNally’s daughter is now 28, and he says, “I’m very lucky to still have the negative. It is a piece of my memory that could have easily been lost.”

Today, millions of photographers have—through no fault of their own—put their own digital negatives at risk; photos are sprinkled among external hard drives, laptops and mobile devices. Mylio offers a home with easy organization and an elegant interface. From a unified view of your entire image collection, you can tag, arrange and make edits that will instantly propagate across all of your devices. Mylio can also judge which photos are unprotected according to its 3:2 principle (an image is protected when there are three copies made in two separate locations). Armed with this knowledge, you can quickly identify which photos need a little extra security.

Mylio All Products

For professional photographers, who require numerous backup copies, McNally says Mylio’s seamless approach across all registered devices is very appealing. For the rest of us, Mylio’s drive for elegance and simplicity will resonate.

See Mylio for yourself at mylio.com/getmylio, and if you’re attending PhotoPlus Expo this week, stop by booth 273.

October 8th, 2014

New Lens Correction Software Takes Aim at Expensive Lenses with Math

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The German software company Piccure+ is not one to mince words. Calling the prevailing lens making model “ignorant” the company has released lens correction software that it claims can correct lens defects without building a huge bank of profiles. The upshot, they claim, is that you can use inexpensive lenses and still create high quality images that look as if they were snapped through more expensive glass.

Piccure+ uses complex mathematical models to create a point-spread function for each image before applying a deconvolution to correct defects — much like the approach NASA took to fixing the Hubble Telescope’s optics. Among the virtues of this approach is that it can correct what lens profiles can’t, namely deviations in lens manufacturing.

Rather than work off what it thinks is wrong with the lens, Piccure+ tackles the optical defects directly in the RAW image file itself. (The software can also work with JPEG images but the company claims that the already-compressed JPEG files won’t benefit as much from its algorithmic massaging.) This means that it can also correct distortions and aberrations on images without EXIF data and for lenses that don’t have profiles in competitive software like Adobe’s Camera RAW.

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In a blog post announcing the software’s release, the company ambitiously called for a rethink of the entire lens manufacturing paradigm. Rather than invest money in building flawless lenses, the company is arguing that much of the heavy lifting can be done in software. Specifically, their software (of course). Photographers would then be liberated to use less expensive zoom lenses while lens makers could focus on driving their own costs down by relenting on quality control — an argument we have trouble believing is going to find much traction among lens manufacturers.

We’ve just started playing with the software, which you can kick around for free for 14 days. From our initial impressions, it’s clearly easy to use, with a minimalist interface with sliders for optical aberration, sharpness and denoising. However both previewing and processing images on our 2.6GHz dual-core Mac (16GB of RAM) took a fair amount of time (evidently our Mac likes doing complicated math about as much as we do). You can save settings to make your workflow go a bit faster when working in a similar batch of images or you can tell the program (via a slider) to prioritize speed over quality.

Piccure+ will cost $109 and can work as a plugin for Lightroom or as a standalone application.

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Nikon D610; 1/320 @ f/7.1 with 24-84mm Nikkor lens. Original image on left.

September 15th, 2014

Photokina 2014: Sony Debuts New E-Mount Wide-Angle Lens

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Amidst new cameras from many of its competitors, Sony came to Photokina 2014 touting new glass and several new accessories for its full frame E-mount camera system.

On the lens front, the Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm F4 lens will arrive in October for $1,350. It features five aspherical elements and three ED glass elements to keep color aberrations at bay while retaining corner-to-corner sharpness. The lens will offer Zeiss’ T* coating on its surface along with optical image stabilization. It’s dust and water resistant too.

Sony also announced a new compact flash unit, the HVL-F32M. With a guide number of 32, it features a 5-second recycle time and draws power from a pair of AA batteries. It supports TTL or manual operation in 1/3 EV steps, high speed sync and is dust and moisture resistant. It will ship in December for $299.

To boost filmmaking with the A7 series, Sony is launching the XLR-K2M XLR box adapter kit. It clips onto a hot-shoe and features an onboard shotgun microphone. It can be used on the A7 series but also the A99, RX10 and NEX-VG900 camcorder.  The audio kit ships in October for $600.

Finally, Sony launched the RMT-VP1K wireless remote kit for any Sony camera with a multi-terminal. The $70 accessory has three channels and a 360 degree IR receiver. It can control shutter releases as well as start/stop movie recording. Look for the wireless receiver in Novemeber.