Archivi categoria: camera

Free Cactus Firmware Lets You Use HSS and TTL with Different Flashes and Camera Systems

Photographers using Cactus‘ new V6 II and V6 IIs wireless flash transceivers are about to get a huge update. Cactus is launching a series of brand-specific firmware upgrades that will allow you to mix and match camera and flash brands without losing TTL or HSS… and they’re free!

Cactus’ new transceivers already promise cross-brand High Speed Sync (HSS) with some of the biggest names in the industry. The so-called “X-TTL” updates will expand that capability even further, allowing you to maintain Through The Lens Metering (TTL) with Canon, Nikon, Olympus, and Panasonic flashes (or compatible third party flashes for these systems) when you use them with Sigma, Sony, Fujifilm, Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic or Pentax cameras.

In other words, you could use your Canon flash with your Fujifilm camera, and thanks to Cactus transceiver and this firmware update, you’d still be able to use TTL and HSS no problem. The tagline is “TTL without boundaries.”

According to the press release, the firmware updates will roll out in parts. The first rollout will go out to Sigma, Fujifilm, and Sony camera users, followed by “the remaining camera systems,” namely: Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, and Pentax.

No word yet on when exactly the X-TTL updates will begin rolling out, but this website will keep you up to date. Once the free updates are live, all you’ll have to do is download the Cactus Firmware Updater and select your camera system to install the X-TTL firmware on your V6 II or V6 IIs.

(via DIYP)

I Was Paid to be a Camera Tester… And I Think They Actually Listened

I was scrolling through my Instagram feed one Friday night when a promoted post popped up and caught my eye (and there wasn’t even a bikini, donut or motivational quote involved).

It read:

Photographers wanted by leading camera brand for equipment trial. Selected applicants will be paid in cash.

It was obviously too good to be true; that’s the golden rule of the Internet. But there was one thing that differentiated it from the usual Web spam: a local telephone number. I called the number immediately and left a message, wondering what the scam could possibly be.

The next day my phone rang, with someone from a market research company asking me to do a survey in order to determine if I was “eligible to undertake the trial.”

I was still a little dubious, but the questions were all straightforward: name, age, how long I’d been shooting for, what sort of camera body I mostly used, what sort of things I shoot. When they asked me to name some of my favorite lenses, it became clear that if this was some kind of swindle, at least they’d done their homework!

After a few more questions, it turned out that I was just the kind of person they wanted to put their gear through its paces. All I had to do is go and pick up the equipment and fill in a survey after using the gear.

On the way to collect my loaner camera, I fantasized about what it might be. Could it be some super-secret new prototype? An update of an existing model? Some sort of bizarre hybrid camera I’d never imagined?

It turned out to be none of those things, but picking it up was still like Christmas Day for a camera nerd—a top of the range mirrorless camera, 4 lenses, a flash unit and a battery grip. I own a lot of video and camera equipment, but I’ve never had such an instant hit of gear before, it was almost overwhelming.

So now I had a bunch of new gear, a week to use it, and some homework to fill out. Time to get shooting. I started in the same way everyone does when they get a new camera… I ignored the instruction manual completely and went straight outside to snap some photos.

Things went pretty well for the next few days. I’d basically leave the house each day and concentrate on using one lens, seeing how it compared to what I knew, how inspiring it was to shoot with and how easy it was to navigate my way around a new system in a range of scenarios like landscapes, long exposures and portraits.

While I mostly avoided reading instructions, I did look at guides online when I was truly stumped by something specific (why won’t this particular SD card format? What does this picture profile actually do? How do I do timelapses?).

Once the week was almost up I sat down to do my “homework,” which consisted of completing a large PDF file. It required me me to upload photos I’d taken, rate the usability of the camera and lenses, compare the loan camera to my existing system, and give my thoughts and feelings about using the camera in general.

It wasn’t a grueling bunch of questions by any stretch, although it did take a little time to edit the images in Lightroom, and then insert them and the EXIF data into the PDF. Another slightly tricky element was adequately describing some of my thoughts—is ‘crunchy’ a useful adjective to a camera manufacturer? How do you properly describe being confused about a menu setting?

The next stage of the process involved a focus group with three other photographers who had also undertaken the trial. To sit in a room with other shooters, share some war stories, and learn about their process was great, and the two hours flew by quickly despite the barrage of questions.

The hardest part of the evening came when we were all offered the same hypothetical question; would we be willing to swap all of our current equipment for the equivalent equipment in the brand we’d been testing? A one-for-one swap, with no money being spent to completely swap brands.

For the first time of the night we were all silent as we weighed it up… it was tempting for each of us, for different reasons. Personally I had enjoyed the megapixel bump, and the options it gave when cropping images. In the end, we all agreed that while the offer was extremely tempting, we’d stick to our preferred systems for the time being.

On the way out of the focus group I was asked if I wanted to do one final test—a field test where I would show members of the company how I work with my current equipment. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse, and by this stage I’d begun to enjoy the process of thinking a little bit deeper about my working methods and what I expect from a camera.

So two days later I met with five staff members from one of the biggest companies in the world, to show them how I do what I do. Despite some awful weather and the slightly awkward situation of leading a ‘tour group’, it was a really beneficial experience.

I often shoot wildlife photos, so I took them to some local parklands that often has some interesting creatures, despite how close it is to the CBD.

After trudging around in drizzling rain, the weather finally cleared and I got to show them some local animals and demonstrate with both my camera and their camera what sort of thing is useful and frustrating in the field.

The best part of it all however, was that they actually took the feedback on board, and weren’t at all defensive about their product.

Think about it—I was a goofy Australian in a raincoat who shoots semi-professionally telling them that the camera they’d spent unimaginable amounts of time and money on could be better.

Instead of getting mad at me for saying that the slight lag in shutter actuation ‘feels funny’ when shooting birds, they took the information on board. They didn’t try to convince me that their superior noise-reduction algorithm was the reason long exposures took so long to process, they just listened to me. And they agreed that diving through menus wasn’t useful when trying to get close to a nervous bird.

By the end of the entire experience, that was the most valuable thing that I took away from it all—that at least one camera company values the input and feedback of people using their equipment to try and capture their vision. They may get it wrong sometimes, but at least they’re trying.

I mightn’t be ready to jump over to a new brand just yet, but I’m closer than I’ve ever been. And at the end of the day, the more awesome cameras there are on the market, the more opportunities photographers have to capture awesome images. I’m more brand agnostic now than I ever have been, and I’d recommend the experience of being a lab rat to anyone who enjoys photography.

Plus, I got paid a little over $1,000 for my trouble… not bad. As for what I did with that money; I bought more camera equipment of course!


About the author: Corey Hague is a digital content creator for ABC, where he has produced photos, video, audio, and writing for over 6 years. His photos have been published in Australian Geographic, Australian Birdlife, Sneaker Freaker, The Age, and ABC. You can find more of his work on his website or by following him on Instagram.

Review: The Fujifilm GFX 50S is the Lamborghini of Medium Format

Quick history lesson. The original Lamborhini motor vehicle wasn’t the supercar you know today. They were tractors. Yes, tractors. Full-fledged farm-going vehicular tools.

Ferruccio Lamborghini always loved cars and owned Ferraris, but he hated the quality of them. Frustrated, he approached Enzo Ferrari and gave him a piece of his mind and told him how to improve his cars. Enzo’s response went something like, “Leave the car making to me, you stick to making tractors.” Batman now drives a Lamborghini Aventador.

Fast forward and cross universes to cameras. The giants such as Hasselblad and Phase One have been untouchable and left alone to rule the medium format world for some time. Sure, there’s Pentax and Leica, but it’s more like buying a Mazda Miata or a 4-door Porsche — it’s not what you think of when sports car or medium format camera comes to mind. But here we are with Fujifilm, originally a film company, pulling a move like Ferruccio Lamborghini; they’re opening the doors to somewhere that’s otherwise been locked for what feels like all of eternity.

Phase One makes amazing medium formats that few ever touch but all hope and dream of. Hasselblad is quite similar but have introduced something that seemed ground-breaking, a mirrorless medium format in the Hasselblad X1D. Now, just like Ferruccio answered to Enzo Ferrari, Fujifilm has brought out the Fujifilm GFX 50S.

Will this be a classic like the Lamborghini Diablo? Or is this a Mazda Miata in disguise? Well, I’ve got the keys and this is what I’ve learned.

Body Design and Ergonomics

I’ve got mixed feelings on this one. When you look at the X-Pro2, you think rangefinder. When you look at the X-T2, you think old film SLR. When I look at this, I don’t think retro medium format camera. It looks like an X-T2 that got a medium format sensor back permanently attached to the back of it. Now to be honest, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this. This is a professional camera with professional pricing so function should take priority over form. It just feels like an area that didn’t get the attention that it deserved given Fujifilm’s recent history of creating cameras that are as beautiful to look at as they are to use.

But here’s the thing about the looks of this camera: you completely forget about it the moment you hold it and to take a shot. The grip is extremely comfortable with a generous cutout for your middle finger, and don’t even get me started on how good the thumb grip is on the back of the camera. Fully customizable buttons mean this camera makes logical sense to its owner.

Although it seemed awkward at first, the side loading battery is a really nice touch for those times you’re swapping batteries on a tripod; it doesn’t save a lot of time but it’s welcomed. The C setting on the lens is huge plus too. As much as I love the aperture rings on Fujinon lenses, sometimes there is piece of mind knowing you won’t accidentally twist it.

But on to that EVF. To be honest, this is the feature that blows everyone away when I show them this camera. No one expects it to come off because it looks and functions like an extension of the body rather than an ugly appendage after thought. Can’t say the same for other mirrorless cameras with removable EVFs.

Being able to remove the viewfinder completely, add a tilt adapter, or use it in typical fashion allows the camera to be tailored to any situation for size and comfort. I absolutely love using the tilt adapter set vertically so I can get the camera low to the ground. Of course you could use the tilting LCD but at 1PM in the afternoon on a cloudless sky, using any back LCD to judge exposure or focus is near impossible.

My only issue with the camera’s design? The neck strap mounts. This is the one part of the camera that feels retro and I wish it didn’t. While in theory, having a adapter that quick disconnects the neck strap is a great system, two issues arise. Neck straps get extremely twisted because they’re able to spin freely on its post. Secondly, if you’re using a wrist strap and connect it to one post, it puts a lot of tension on that adapter and it seems like after time the adapter is going to bend.

The Sensor

This sensor is huge, there’s no doubt about that. But it’s important to understand why this larger sensor is so awesome. It’s resolution, dynamic range, and highly subjective but always talked about “medium format look”.

Image quality. Larger sensor, larger pixels, and greater signal-to-noise ratio equals sharper images with far more detail than you could ever want. Take a look at the following image. Then take a look at the image next to it that it was cropped from. It’s one thing to make a high megapixel camera, but it’s another thing to make one that looks good when zoomed in way past 100%.

Dynamic range. Unreal is the only word that comes to mind. Really, it feels like you’re cheating. With this camera you’re able to pull out detail from the darkest shadows with no noise at all. What this means is I’m now able to shoot natural light and forego using a light for fill because there is just so much data in these RAW files. Just take a look below and see what bumping the exposure by 5 stops in Lightroom does.

Medium Format Look. Ask four people what the medium format look is and you’ll get five different answers. In my experience with this camera, my subjects look almost as if they’re standing in front of a fake background. The longer focal length lenses used in medium format compress more of the background into a single plane and my subjects “pop” out of the image in front of that background. Moving from X-Series APS-C cameras this difference feels pretty pronounced. From a Canon full-frame camera, not as much so, but it’s still there.

So in a nutshell, that’s the Fujifilm GFX 50S first impressions. Looks good on paper. Results seem to back it up. But cameras are about more than specs, pixel peeping, and this isn’t the first medium format camera. Over the past two weeks I’ve packed my schedule with a wide variety of scenarios to see how it handles and here’s what I’ve learned and experienced in each scenario.

Landscape

No, this isn’t a hardcore purist’s landscape photo but I tend to put people in them so you have a sense of size and perspective. The first thing that I felt was the weight of the camera. Similar to my old 5D Mark II, but drastically heavier than their X-Series line means it’s too soon to get rid of those; they still have a place in my backpack. For this hike I used the Peak Design Everyday Backpack 20L which fits a GFX, GF 32-64mm, GF 63mm, vertical grip, EVF + Tilt Adapter, and tripod with lots of extra space.

Unfortunately, the EVF + Tilt Adapter doesn’t fit in this bag while attached to the body. In fact, it didn’t fit in any bag I had at home. The height of the camera increases drastically and the EVF extends back, lengthening the camera body by a good amount. When it came to using the camera I opted to stick with the EVF just because of the sunny conditions that would make seeing the back LCD difficult. I’ve taken shots at this exact spot on many occasions and it takes a lot of adjustments in Lightroom and creative masking in Photoshop to get someone to standout; they easily become lost in the image as the background tends to consume them.

Not with the GFX though, Alicia seemed to stand out from the image more and so did the road to the right of her. The only way I could describe the difference is that the road feels closer than it used to with the XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 on an X-Pro2. Aside from that, the dynamic range just saves you time. You don’t need to shoot multiple exposures and blend them with luminosity masks or use ND filters to blend exposures in camera. I can easily push the shadows slider without the image falling apart, all while maintaining a really natural image.

Backlit

Due to the lack of phase detection autofocus, this was a little trickier. The GFX really needs a contrasty spot to focus on or it won’t focus at all. However, if face detection works, it locks on confidently, but due to the heavy backlight and lack of contrast it doesn’t always do so. Besides the focus, the greatest strength lies in the shadow recovery. I can easily bump up the shadow slider to + 100 in Lightroom and all of the dark areas come back naturally with no noise introduced. Whereas on a older camera with less dynamic range, it would have shifted the image in an ugly way.

Artificial Lighting

A huge let down to many people was the 1/125th of a second sync speed, everyone said it should’ve been higher, but it hasn’t been an issue for me at all. In fact, I’ve had the opposite problem. Getting the depth of field desired could require shooting at a smaller aperture between f/5.6-f/11. In a dark environment like a forest, that could mean dragging the shutter along at 1/30th-1/50th of a second if you’re trying to maintain base ISO for greatest dynamic range. That translates to this camera needing to sit atop a tripod more often than not when shooting with lighting.

But in this camera’s defense, I’ve been able to handhold a few of those shots and get amazingly sharp images without image stabilization. The above shot was taken in a shady baseball dugout on a bright sunny day and the shutter speed was 1/100th of a second with no ND filters used. Of course if she was out in the sun, the sync speed would be an issue but that’s what ND filters are for. With HSS in the near future and global shutters on the somewhat distant horizon, lenses that lack leaf shutters aren’t that big of a deal.

Lifestyle/Commercial

Focus is so important when you’re blowing up these images large and the face detection does that so well. Similarly to the X-Pro2, I put complete faith into the face and eye detection and it nails it every time. If for some reason I can’t use it, the 425 focus points are amazing as well. I’d rather place the AF exactly where I need it rather than focusing and recomposing. Sure, it’s a lot of focus points and using the joystick on the back can be slow, but that’s where the touch screen becomes oh so handy.

I found that taking my face away from the viewfinder and tapping where I want to focus was quicker than using the joystick and slowly moving across the viewfinder to get the right AF point. However, one issue has carried over from the X-Series bodies. When my subject is just a little wider than the AF point, more often than not, the camera will focus on the background instead of my subject. Zooming in and checking focus is easy with the EVF but it’s one thing I wish I wouldn’t have to worry about.

Do You Drop Used Corolla Cash for this Camera?

I need to print large, I need more dynamic range, I have a ton of old medium format lenses to adapt, I just sold my Mom’s Prius without her knowing and I need to burn this cash before she realizes it’s missing. All valid reasons to buy a GFX 50S. Reasons you shouldn’t? I only post on Instagram, I switched to mirrorless because my SLR was causing back and neck problems, I make my living photographing Supercross, I have $200,000 in student loans from grad school.

I know that photography is about the person and not the camera, but with this camera, to a certain degree, it kind of isn’t. The dynamic range is a huge selling point and it changes the way you can shoot entirely. Being able to pull out all of that detail in the shadows with no noise at all is huge. Not only does it speed up the shooting process, it speeds up the post-processing as well. So if you’re someone who sees value in that, which should be every working professional, I would consider jumping ship from whichever brand you’re currently loyal to.

But beside the ease of use and lack of processing required, that medium format look has been a huge gain. I’ve sent some of the photos to the companies I collaborated with for these photos and they’ve asked what I did differently. Exact words were “something special” and “a different type of clarity than you normally produce”. On my end I haven’t done anything different, so if the medium format system does that much for me, I think it’s a way to differentiate yourself from others in a subtle way. You just need to decide if that difference is worth the entry fee.

Is the GFX 50S a Lamborghini?

Undoubtedly yes, it’s a Diablo. Or a Countach. The Fujifilm GFX 50S is the camera that will start to democratize medium format the same way the Canon 5D Mark II democratized film making. Focal plane shutter means you can adapt medium format lenses or full frame lenses and get crazy thing depth of field. Electronic viewfinder, 425 autofocus points, and face detection are all selling points to pull people away from their full frame cameras or their slow medium format DSLR.

Sure, there are some sore spots to some like the sync speed or lack of phase detection autofocus. But at the end of the day when you’re looking at the images on your computer you’ll still tell yourself damn, I just drove a Lamborghini.


About the author: Allan Higa is a Hawaii-based lifestyle and travel photographer. You can find more of his work on his website, or by following him on Facebook and Instagram. This post was also published here.

The Holga 120N is Coming Back from the Dead

After its launch in the early 1980s, Holga cameras became popular options for people looking to shoot medium format 120 film on the cheap. Production was shut down in late 2015, but now the camera is making a comeback: the classic Holga 120N is coming back this year.

Los Angeles-based Freestyle Photographic Supplies writes that the original 120N camera molds were obtained by a factory that’s working to begin manufacturing again.

“We have found a factory that obtained the old molds that we thought to be destroyed and this camera is available once again,” Freestyle writes. “What was thought to be gone forever is back.”

The Holga 120N shoots 120 medium format film and features 2 shooting formats (12 6x6cm images or 16 6×4.5cm images), two shutter speeds (1/100s and bulb), 2 aperture settings (f/11 and f/8), a hot shoe adapter, a standard tripod mount, a cap, and a strap.

Originally introduced to the Chinese public as a cheap everyday camera, the Holga was quickly embraced by photographers who loved the lo-fi look it produced:

You can buy the camera for $40 today from Freestyle, but delivery of the camera won’t happen until after July 9th, 2017.

The Holga 120N is just one of many film products making a comeback in recent days. Other notable revivals include Kodak Ektachrome and FILM Ferrania P30 films.

GoPro Cuts 270 More Jobs in Pursuit of Profitability, Stock Jumps

GoPro has had a rough few years, with its stock falling from over $80 a share in 2014 to less than $10 a share today. Working to turn its fortunes around, GoPro just announced that it has trimmed another 270 jobs in order to reduce expenses.

This is the second round of job cuts in less than half a year for the company. In November 2016, GoPro reduced its headcount by 15% by shuttering 200 jobs.

Revenue for the first quarter of 2017 will be at “the high end of the guidance range,” GoPro says, and the company is aiming to reach to full-year profitability this year.

The action camera pioneer estimates that revenue will come in at close to $210 million for the quarter. It also says that it’ll be able to significantly reduce operating expenses without interfering with the hardware and software roadmap.

“We’re determined that GoPro’s financial performance match the strength of our products and brand,” founder and CEO Nicholas Woodman says.

It seems that investors are delighted with this latest news: GoPro stock has jumped over 15% in a single day today at the time of this post.

Stock chart by Google Finance.

2016 was a difficult year for GoPro: its highly anticipated Karma camera drone was overshadowed by DJI’s Mavic drone, and the Karma was recalled soon after the launch for a design bug that caused some drones to lose power and fall from the sky. GoPro gave affected owners a free HERO5 camera and relaunched the drone in February 2017 after fixing the faulty battery clasp.

These Fujifilm Monochrome Cameras Are $4,800+ Cheaper Than Leica’s

The Leica M Monochrom is special in the Leica lineup due to the fact that it lacks a color filter, which improves image quality and restricts the camera to shooting black and white. If you’d like a monochrome-only camera but don’t want to shell out $7,450 for the latest Leica M Monochrom, there are now converted Fujifilm cameras for a cheaper alternative.

No, Fujifilm hasn’t announced its own line of monochrome cameras. Instead, the cameras are being modified and offered for sale by a third-party company, MaxMax.com, which has been doing camera conversions since 1997 and monochrome conversions since 2009.

MaxMax.com says that after years of hearing customer requests, it has finally decided to convert Fujifilm’s highly regarded X-Trans cameras to monochrome ones by removing the color filter array in them.

Right now there are two converted models being offered for sale: the Fuji X-Pro1-M (a converted X-Pro1) and the Fuji X100S-M (a converted X100S).

“To convert a camera to monochrome, we take the camera apart, remove the sensor, remove the sensor coverglass which is epoxied to the ceramic package then use special equipment to remove about 5 microns from the surface of the sensor removing the microlenses and the Color Filter Array,” company president Dan Llewellyn tells PetaPixel. “This exposes the bare photodiodes so that all the pixels see the same light.”

Llewellyn says that this isn’t an easy conversion to do, and that you’ll basically need access to semiconductor fabrication equipment to try it yourself.

“The Fuji sensors are a particular pain to convert because the epoxy Fuji uses to hold the coverglass on is very strong,” Llewellyn says. “It is difficult to remove the coverglass without damaging the sensor.”

Llewellyn believes that his company’s Fuji “poor man’s Leica” alternatives may actually perform better than the Leica M Monochrom in some regards “because there is more engineering in the Fuji,” he says.

Here are some example monochrome photos captured with the two converted monochrome Fujifilm cameras (you can download their original RAW files here):

If you’re interested in buying one of these cheaper Monochrom alternatives, you can find the Fuji X-Pro1-M for $2,425 and the Fuji X100S-M for $2,600 from the MaxMax.com store. More converted Fujifilm models will also be added to the store later this year.

Canon Unveils the EOS M6 Mirrorless Camera and EVF-DC2 Viewfinder

Canon has announced the latest camera in its EOS M mirrorless lineup: the EOS M6.

While the name may suggest that the M6 is a directly replacement to the M5, DPReview reports that the camera is actually a direct replacement for the M3 and a camera that’s position under the M5.

This positioning can be seen in the physical design of the cameras, as the M5 features a built-in electronic viewfinder (EVF) while the M3 and M6 lack a viewfinder:

The Canon M3 (bottom left), M6 (center), and M5 (upper right)

The new M6 shares many core features and specs with the M5, which was announced in September 2016.

At the core of the M6 is the same 24.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor and DIGIC 7 image processor. There’s also Dual Pixel CMOS AF that uses phase detection for speedy focusing while shooting photos and videos in live view.

Other specs and features include an ISO range of 100 to 25600, 7fps continuous shooting (9fps with AF lock), Full HD 60p video recording, 5-axis combination image stabilization that can do lens and body IS at the same time, built-in Wi-Fi/NFC/Bluetooth, a 3-inch fully tilting LCD (180-degrees up and 45-degrees down), and 5 functional dials (an upgrade from the M3).

Here are some sample photos captured with the Canon EOS M6:

The Canon EOS M6 will be available in black and silver styles in April 2017 with a price tag of $780 for the body only, $900 when bundled with the EF-M 15-45mm/F3.5-6.3 IS STM, and $1,280 when bundled with the EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens.

EVF-DC2 Electronic Viewfinder

Canon also announced the new EVF-DC2, an electronic viewfinder that replaces the EVF-DC1. The new model is both smaller and lighter than the previous one, yet it still packs 2.36-million dots. The EVF-DC2 also comes in black and silver and will cost $250 when it launches with the M6.