The aesthetic differences between umbrellas, reflectors and softboxes

As part of their OnSet video series, Adorama has shared a helpful tutorial showing off the difference between three of the most popular light modifiers available: umbrellas, reflectors and softboxes.

In the two and a half minute video, photographer Daniel Norton concisely explains what it is each light modifier is designed to do, how you can use each modifier and what the aesthetic changes are between the varying uses of each modifier. There isn’t much to the video, but it’s beauty and value is in its simplicity.



Sony-fit Nissin Di700A and Commander Air1 flash kit launched

The Nissin Di700A and Commander Air1 flash kit have gone on sale in a Sony-fit version in recognition of Sony as a ‘major contender’ in the market.

Already out in and versions, the Nissin Commander Air1 is designed to control three groups of Nissin Di700A flash, up to a maximum of 21 NAS guns.

It is an ideal controller for photographers who want to simultaneously fire multiple flashguns at various distances, without the need for cables, according to UK distributor Kenro.

Kenro’s managing director Paul Kench said: ‘We’re very excited about this new addition to the range. Sony is a major contender in the digital camera market – dominated by Canon and Nikon – and Nissin has recognised this by now making all their new flash systems compatible with Sony cameras.’

Kenro Ltd, the exclusive UK distributor of Nissin flash guns and accessories, has announced the immediate availability of a new SONY fit for the TIPA Award-winning Nissin Di700A with Commander Air1 Flash Kit.

Using radio transmission, the range of the new Nissin Air System is up to 30m. For flexibility, transmission channels and IDs can be set to prevent misfiring in the event of signal interference on the same channel.

The Nissin Commander Air1 can control 3 groups of Nissin Di700A flash (with a maximum of 21 NAS guns), making it an ideal controller for photographers who wish to simultaneously fire multiple guns at various distances and without the need for cables. The Commander Air1 is also available to purchase separately.

Select Dial with a simple user interface Supports TTL compensation +/- 2EV 8 steps of Manual output Manual zoom coverage 24 – 200mm High-speed synchronization: 1/8,000 sec 1st and 2nd curtain synchronization AF assist light 8 Channels Capacity approx. 3,000 flashes Flash Interval: up to 10 times per second Function Mode: TTL, Manual and Manual Zoom Flash Exposure Control: 1st Curtain synchronization, 2nd Curtain synchronization, High-speed synchronization, Red-eye reduction, Slow sync. (Nikon only), FE / FV Lock (set on camera) Uses 2 x AAA batteries Weight: 55g (without batteries)

Stylish design and simple operation A wide range of zoom angles from 24-200mm Guide No: 48 at 105mm zoom head position (at ISO 100 in metres) Rotating lock release button Recycle time 0.1 – 4 secs Number of flashes approx. 200 – 1500 High-speed synchronization up to 1/8,000 seconds shutter speed Wireless TTL slave for A/B/C groups Standard & 3.5mm PC sync terminal Quick-loading battery magazine – BM-02 Compatible with Power Pack Colour Temperature: 5,600K AF-assist beam effective range: 0.7 – 6m/ 2.3 – 19.7 feet Accessories included: Soft case, flash stand (with screw) Uses 4 x AA batteries Weight: 380g (without batteries)

Says Paul Kench, Kenro’s managing director: “We’re very excited about this new addition to the range. Sony is a major contender in the digital camera market – dominated by Canon and Nikon – and Nissin has recognized this by now making all their new flash systems compatible with Sony cameras.”



Comparing Photos from the Canon 1D X, Nikon D810, and Pentax 645z

In this article, I’m going to share a simple comparison between photos taken with the 1D X, D810, and Pentax 645z. First things first, this is not a scientific or carefully done test. Don’t read too much into it! This was just because I happened to have all 3 cameras here, and had a bit of time spare. And I like playing around with gear.

The most important thing to note is I didn’t have the right lenses to do a really fair comparison. This is just for curiosity to see how a similar picture would look coming out of each camera.

The Nikon is using a Nikon 35mm f/1.4, and the Pentax is using a Pentax 55mm f/2.8. The Canon is at the biggest disadvantage, with a Canon 24-70mm II lens shooting wide open. The 24-70 is an outstanding general zoom lens, but it’s not really fair to compare it wide open to two other prime lenses.

I don’t normally use a 35mm lens for portraits but again, it’s all I had here. So the Nikon has it’s 35mm, the Canon 24-70mm is set to 35mm, and the Pentax with it’s 55mm is equivalent to roughly a 43mm so I took a small step back as well. I wasn’t on a tripod, so the framing is not identical, but close enough.

These images are completely untouched and auto white balance. Of course you can make the colours anything you want. All lenses are set at 2.8. The ISO varied slightly over each camera but was pretty low.

So out of all that, my personal conclusion is that the Canon probably gets the nicest colors straight out of the camera. I like the overall look of the larger sensor Pentax more than either the Canon or Nikon. The medium format ‘look’ is something that is hard to describe but I think is pretty clear to most people in these quick test shots. If this was a wedding and I was doing a proper edit of course I would go through and get the colors spot on.

If I posted 100% crops here my wife would kill me. But to summarize from looking at the files at 100%, the Pentax is a clear step above the other 2 cameras with the most ridiculous amount of facial detail rendered at 100% view. The D810 does well, but does trail significantly behind the Pentax. The 1D X did very well considering it was using a zoom lens wide open. I would think D810 would compare better sharpness-wise to the Pentax with different lenses such as the lovely Zeiss Otus 55 or 85mm. But as it is with the 35mm f/1.4, there is a fair gap. I’ll do a small aperture test later in this post.

At this size, they all look pretty similar. So we need 100% crops to really see. It’s hard to frame these identically with the different file sizes and lenses.

The Pentax is surprisingly well. Until recently, medium format was pretty much unusable above ISO 400 and took a huge resolution hit if you did go over 400. These days, to have a 51MP medium format body that produces very good and detailed high ISO work is just amazing, and it’s a reason why I can use this camera very effectively at weddings.

The Canon obviously trails by a fair way here, but it still produces a decent result — remembering, of course, the 1D X is a few years old now. I still regularly print files from this camera in wedding albums at ISO 6400 and a bit higher, and the noise will often be greatly diminished on print. I would also run some noise reduction over this file in my editing process, but haven’t here.

The next test is the dynamic range at high ISO. Both of these shots were f/2.8 at ISO 1600. The Pentax was not used here. This is just Canon against Nikon.

There in the leaf shot you can see the dynamic range of the Nikon. The Canon is clipping highlights a bit on the edges of some of the leaves, the Nikon is not. But indoors, the dynamic range was near identical. So as far as I can tell, there is a difference in low ISOs between the cameras, but it becomes a much more level playing field dynamic range wise once the ISO starts getting high.

As a wedding photographer this is a spectacularly useless test — I put colors and dynamic range and how a camera handles well above how many pixels it has. But I know some people will be curious, so here it is!

So the Nikon here is certainly not bad, but there is a noticeable difference to the Pentax. Given the Nikon costs about 35% of what the Pentax costs, it’s not a bad result. I actually thought the Nikon would do a bit better and retook the shot a few times to make sure but that was the consistent result — at least with this lens.

The Pentax 55mm used in those teddy shots is a very good lens, but it’s far from the sharpest available. I have a 35mm that is a big step up in sharpness from the 55mm but did not use it as the framing would be too different to the Nikon 35mm — it’s essentially a wide angle lens in medium format.



Olympus E-M5 II Review: Is this the best argument yet for the Micro Four Thirds mirrorless camera?

And now, we can bring the story to its end as we finalize our review. We’ve dotted the last few ‘i’s, crossed the last ‘t’s, and added both our in-depth image quality analysis and our final thoughts on the E-M5 II. But what is our verdict: Is this a good , or a truly great one? For the answer to that question, you’ll want to read both of our in-depth Shooter’s Reports, as well as the conclusion itself.

Early in 2012, took its mirrorless camera line in a new direction with the enthusiast-friendly OM-D E-M5. Now, as we complete our Olympus E-M5 II review, it’s time for us to cast judgement on the camera which takes the OM-D series to the next level with an ever more feature-packed design.

Sporting upgrades throughout — including a spectacularly impressive new multi-shot high resolution mode which merits an entire page to itself in our review — the Olympus E-M5 II understandably generated a lot of excitement when it launched last February. And we were no less excited ourselves, because once we’d familiarized ourselves with its control-packed body, the E-M5 II captivated us in a way that few cameras can. It was just plain fun to shoot with, and we think that showed in our photos!


Adobe resets free 30-day trials for those wanting to test out Creative Cloud’s newest features

Just as they did last year, Adobe has announced its resetting free trial offers for its Creative Cloud platform to all users who have already taken advantage of it.

Earlier this month, Adobe released the 2015 update for its Creative Cloud platform. It included a number of new features for Photoshop and Lightroom, and brought about a new life to Adobe’s growing collection of mobile apps.

To make sure everyone gets a chance to try the updated software, Adobe has decided to reset all free trial periods for Creative Cloud. The programs eligible for the 30-day trial include Photoshop CC (which includes Adobe Bridge CC), InDesign CC and Illustrator CC.

To take advantage of the refreshed trial, you simply open up the Creative Cloud application on your computer and click ‘Update’. Your free trial period should then be reset and ready to go.

Canon warns of fake 600EX-RT speedlites; find out if yours is authentic

In their statement, emphasizes these counterfeits were neither designed nor manufactured by them, despite look nearly identical to Canon’s own products down to the individual trademark logos.

‘Furthermore, these counterfeit products have not been manufactured or tested under the safety standards established by Canon’, Canon states in the advisory. ‘[Therefore] we are unable to make representations concerning their safe operation, and there is a possibility that using one of these counterfeit products may cause adverse affects such as generation of fire and/or smoke’.

Canon says the best bet to ensuring your model is an authentic Canon product is to purchase from an authorized Canon dealer, such as B&H or Adorama. If you’ve already purchased a Speedlite 600EX-RT flash, Canon has provided a couple of graphics to help you distinguish whether your speedlite is authentic or not.

The position to release the mounting foot lock lever on a genuine unit is towards the left (see the green arrow), and the position to release the mounting foot lock lever on a counterfeit unit is towards the center (see the red arrow).

The display on the Custom Function screen is different. Follow the steps in the Speedlite 600EX-RT Instruction Manual to access the Custom Function screen.



Olympus patent shows off what could be the first super telephoto lens for MFT systems

The patent, originally filed in October of 2013 and published earlier this month, details a super telephoto lens made up of 17 elements in 14 groups. Also present inside of the lens is an image stabilization group, for better capturing those long distance shots.

Minimum focusing distance of the lens would be 2 meters (6.5 feet) and the angle of view would be roughly 2.6º. Below is an MFT chart displaying, from left to right, spherical aberration, astigmatism, distortion, chromatic aberration of magnification.

This would mark the first super telephoto lens for the Micro Four Thirds mount. To date, the longest focal length you can achieve, without extenders, is 300mm in both their 70-300mm F4.0–5.6 and ED 75-300mm F4.8-6.7 II. Panasonic also offers a 100-300mm F4.0-5.6 lens.

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Learn how to feather the light from your soft box

Softboxes are a staple of studio photography. You can pick one up in almost every size imaginable and, with the right knowledge, can tweak its light output to do almost anything you want.

One method of adjusting a softbox to change its aesthetic is feathering, the process of angling your softbox at different degrees across your subject’s face to soften or strengthen facial contours.

Jay P. Morgan of The Slanted Lens has shared this helpful video to help introduce and walk through the process of feathering a softbox. In the eight and a half minute video, Morgan thoroughly walks through what feathering is and shows how to use the technique to perfectly sculpt your subject with light. It’s a great watch, full of enthusiastic help from one of the most knowledgeable in the business.

Imaging Resource © 1998 -2015 . Material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted or otherwise used without the prior written consent of



Panasonic 42.5mm f/1.7 Lens Review: a top-notch, ultra-portable and affordable Nocticron alternative

Hot on the heels of our recent review of the Panasonic 30mm f/2.8 Macro lens, the other newest member to the Lumix lens family is the Panasonic 42.5mm f/1.7 OIS lens. Like the earlier 42.5mm f/1.2 Nocticron lens from Panasonic, this f/1.7 version provides an 85mm-equivalent focal length, making it a perfect portrait lens. Unlike the Nocticron, however, the 42.5mm f/1.7 is significantly smaller, lighter and, perhaps most importantly, vastly less expensive — at around $400, the f/1.7 version is a whopping $1,200 cheaper! But does this smaller, cheaper portrait prime — with a mere 1-stop difference in light-gathering capabilities — sacrifice image quality performance for an affordable price tag?

Indeed, the Panasonic 42.5 f/1.7 lenses produces very sharp photos, even wide-open, plus the other optical characteristics are top-notch, as well. For all the details from our in-depth review, including our analysis of image quality as well as handling, AF performance and image stabilization testing, head over to SLRgear for our Panasonic 42.5mm f/1.7 review!

The lens is available for purchase for around $400. Check out Amazon, Adorama or B&H for more info on ordering. Buying this lens, or any other item, at one of these trusted affiliates helps support this site and keeps the reviews coming!

In the meantime, check out some sample photos shot by our lens technician Rob Murray using our Panasonic GX1 test . You can view more sample photos, plus download the full-resolution files, over at our Flickr page.

Imaging Resource © 1998 -2015 . Material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted or otherwise used without the prior written consent of



Campaign launched against ‘barking’ European plan to censor photos of buildings

‘Amateur Photographer’ (AP) is at the forefront of a campaign against controversial European plans to restrict photography of public buildings which threaten to censor millions of amateur and professional photos.

There are growing fears that proposed changes to European copyright law will require photographers to obtain permission before publishing pictures of tourist attractions such as the London Eye.

AP has backed an open letter, drawn up by Wikipedia operator Wikimedia and sent to The Times newspaper, which has been signed by organisations including the Bureau of Freelance Photographers and the British Photographic Council.

Editor Nigel Atherton said: ‘This unnecessary attack on personal liberty, designed to solve a problem that doesn’t exist, will fundamentally transform photography in public places.

‘It will destroy the century old tradition of reportage and street photography that’s provided us with such a rich and valuable visual history of our collective past.

He added: ‘Moreover, it’ll make it almost impossible for anyone to take and publish photos that include buildings and landmarks, which will do irreparable damage to both the hobby and profession of photography.

‘It’s a vindictive attack on our individual freedom to enjoy public spaces, and on the free and open distribution of information – and in the age of Google Street View it’s completely pointless.’

Stevie Benton, head of external relations at Wikimedia UK, told AP that Wikipedia would be forced to remove an estimated 40,000 images from its website if the European Parliament votes through the law.

Benton fears other sites, including Facebook, Flickr and Twitter, would be deemed ‘commercial’ – meaning users would need prior permission before posting photos of iconic buildings such as the Shard.

‘It’s a mess… We are writing a letter to MEPs today,’ said Benton who explained that 15 countries would be hit including the UK, Germany, Portugal, Spain and Greece.

‘We just wouldn’t be able to use images of European public spaces not covered by Freedom of Panorama – even if the Shard is in the background of holiday snaps.’

Charles Swan, an intellectual property rights lawyer and a director at the Association of Photographers, told AP: ‘I just can’t believe this is going to happen. The feeling against this is so strong. I think it unites the whole country.’

What is ‘commercial use’Campaigners warn that images posted on websites such as Facebook may be deemed commercial, even if tourist-style snapshots taken by non-professionals.

Benton said: ‘If I was to take an image of the Shard today [that would be acceptable]. But in a month’s time, even on my own blog, with Google Adwords [targeted adverts placed when people search for related phrases], it will be considered to be a commercial website.’

‘If you’re just an amateur photographer and put your photos on Flickr or Facebook, or wherever, I can’t see how that could be commercial, just because [they are] commercial operations…