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Gear Talk

Mirrorless Magic: Spending Time With the Olympus OM-D

Gear Talk

When we recently received the Olympus OM-D E-M5 (there’s a mouthful for you) in our warehouse, I wasted absolutely no time in snagging one of the bodies and taking it for a whirl. My “whirls” usually last a few weeks so that I can put the camera to use in a variety of different ways, and given the feedback I’d heard from other photographers about this diminutive body, I was eager to put it through its paces.

Two weeks later, I have my conclusion: Olympus has an absolute winner on its hands.

The gear

The Micro-Four-Thirds platform isn’t a closed-loop system. Olympus and Panasonic both make bodies for it, and there’s even an MFT-based version of the enormously popular Blackmagic Cinema Camera on the way. Panasonic, particularly, has two lenses that I decided were going to be my go-to lenses for this test: the 12–35mm f/2.8 and the 35–100mm f/2.8 lenses.

The Gear - OM-D, Panasonic 12–35mm and 35–100mm

The Gear – OM-D, Panasonic 12–35mm and 35–100mm

Together, these cover the equivalent of the 24–70 and 70–200mm lenses in 35mm terms, giving me the focal lengths used by most photographers. Because the OM-D features a 5-axis, in-body stabilization, that entire focal length is stabilized as well. (more…)

Quick Tip: Optimize Canon 5D Mark III Write Speeds – Avoid Using SD Cards

Gear Talk Tips & Tricks

Photographer Jeff Cable discovered something interesting about the 5D Mark III when he was doing some high-speed shooting–it’s slow, but only under certain circumstances. Click here to read more about when and when you should not use the SD slot in the 5D Mark III.

Cool Stuff – Week of December 31, 2012

Gear Talk

Welcome to Cool Stuff, a weekly feature where we post our favorite links from the past week, including our favorite articles and how-tos, videos, images and more.

 

That’s it for this week’s Cool Stuff. As always, questions and feedback are welcome in the comments below. Happy New Year, everyone!

The Softbox Cheat Sheet

Gear Talk
Profoto Softboxes

Profoto Softboxes

A while back, we put together an article on how to use softboxes with your light of choice. At that time, I mentioned that we’d be putting together a cheat sheet that would allow you to figure out which softbox could go with which light, and what you’d need to make it work. Well, that cheat sheet is here.

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Easy Holiday Photo Booth

Gear Talk Tips & Tricks

Holiday events have a way of filling a room. Being tasked with running a party photo booth for friends and family can be daunting, especially if your budget isn’t big and your space isn’t, either. We put together a simple, fun photo booth using portable items that you can rent from BorrowLenses.com.

Is the Canon 6D Under-Exposing? UPDATE: No, It’s Not.

Gear Talk

Final Update and Winners of the BorrowLenses.com Gift Certificate, Friday, December 7, 2012 11:35 AM

Okay, we found the cause of the D600 bodies’ overexposure. Turns out, it WAS damage, not a defect. In the damaged bodies, the little prong that actually pushes the aperture closed was bent, as you can see in the image below. The top one is of one of the damaged D600’s, while the bottom is of an undamaged D7000.

No idea what caused this, but there you have it.

Winners of the $50 BorrowLenses.com Gift Certificate: K.G. Wuensch, who left the suggestion that led to our discovery of the cause of the overexposure on the D600 bodies is, unfortunately, not based in the U.S., and so is unable to use the certificate I promised him. He has, instead, requested that his prize be entered into the pool for the general drawing. So we now have two gift certificates to give out.

I entered all the commenters’ names into a list randomizer at random.org and the two names at the top are our two winners.

The winners of the gift certificate drawing.

The winners of the gift certificate drawing.

Congratulations to David Johnson and Michael Clark! Please email your contact info to sohail.mamdani at borrowlenses dot com, so I can send them to you.

Once again, thanks to everyone for your fantastic support and feedback. 

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Building on the Sony NEX System

Gear Talk
NEX–7

NEX–7

Sony’s NEX cameras have been taking the mirror less camera market by storm of late, coming out with models that repeatedly and substantially improve on their predecessors. And, as these models have evolved, the number – and quality – of add-ons for them have increased as well.

In this article, we’ll take a look at a few ways of building on the NEX series of cameras – which now include some fantastic video-specific offerings from Sony as well.

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Understanding Softboxes

Gear Talk

Off-camera strobes and other forms of lighting have become remarkably approachable over the past few years. The knowledge and information that were once the sole province of pros working with tens of thousands of dollars of equipment in studios or on location is now all over the internet for the taking.

We carry a fair amount of lighting gear, and given that we cater to the novice as well as the pros, we also answer a number of questions about one particular piece of lighting gear: the softbox. Over the phone, via email, and through our social networking outlets, we respond to queries ranging from the number of stops a box’s diffusion fabric will eat, to “What’s a speedring?”

This article is designed to help you understand the various pieces of a softbox and how it is used with a studio light like the Einstein E640 or the Profoto D4 heads we rent.

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The BorrowLenses.com Holiday Gift Guide

Gear Talk

Welcome to the first ever BorrowLenses.com Holiday Gift Guide. Here, we’ll be listing some of our favorite cameras, lenses, and accessories that you should consider for the photo geek you’re shopping for. We’ll break this list down by category, so you can easily find something for the shutterbug in your life, no matter what their experience level is.

Let’s start with that all-important question – what camera should I rent?

Cameras

We broke this section down by category, from pro-level to the new mirrorless cameras.

Nikon D800Cameras (pro-level)

  • Nikon D800 or D800E
    • It’s received some of the highest ratings ever given to any camera by testing company DxO, and has been universally lauded as having some of the best dynamic range capabilities ever packed into a DSLR, and is competitively priced, too.
  • Others to consider:

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Tilt/Shift: Working With Perspective-Control Lenses, Part 2

Gear Talk
Nikon 85mm f/2.8D PC-E

Nikon 85mm f/2.8D PC-E

This is Part 2 of a series on using Tilt-Shift or Perspective-Control lenses. In this part, we look at the “Tilt” functionality of these unique lenses. Part 1, which covered “shift” functionality, can be found here.

At some point in time, we’ve all seen photos where the subjects – usually views from high-up of cars, buildings, people, etc. – appear to be miniaturized versions of reality. This is perhaps the most the most often-seen result from using tilt-capable lenses like the Nikon 85mm PC-E.

In this part of our series, we’ll explain how this effect is achieved with tilt-shift lenses.

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Sony Delivers Big-time with the Nex-6

Gear Talk
Sony NEX-6

Sony NEX-6

When rumors of the Sony NEX-6 hit the internet, it was a welcome bit of information for fans who wanted something between the high-end NEX-7 and the more consumer-friendly NEX-5N. There was a real need for a camera that added a few more physical controls for advanced amateurs, for example, who are used to dials and switches to quickly change camera settings, or for a camera with tweaks to the user interface, or – a pretty important feature for me – a viewfinder.

Well, Sony has provided all of those features, and then some with the NEX-6. So, naturally, when we received this shiny new toy, I had to take it for a spin.

Now, the really cool lenses – the 16-50mm and the 10-18mm are very much in demand, and all of our copies were checked out when I wanted to take them for a spin, so I settled on the massive 18-200mm lens and the Zeiss-badged 24mm f/1.8 lens. I shot them in a variety of different conditions, and – spoiler alert – I had an absolute blast.

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Op-Ed: Thoughts on Switching

Gear Talk

Last week, I posted Part V of my “Switch” series, which you can find here:

I’ve pretty-much laid out my reasons for switching, but I felt compelled to add some kind of postscript to that series. So, here it is.

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Get the Missing Manual for Light

Gear Talk

 With autumn upon us, daylight hours are fewer and further between. I don’t stop shooting (later sunrises mean I can actually drag myself out of bed at a better hour), but I do take more time to catch up on my reading. Accordingly, I spend some time to put together a list of the best photography books that I want to go through each year and will bring you reviews of the ones I liked the most.

My (virtual) bookshelf is full of titles I’ve read or plan to read for reviewing or for personal edification. Some, like Brian Smith’s book on portraiture, which I reviewed earlier this week, are for personal edification and review. Some, like Light, Science, and Magic, are on there because the subject matter is of interest. And some are on there because I’ll read even an obituary by one of these authors.

Authors like Joe McNally, for example, whose books like Sketching Light and The Moment it Clicks make for fantastic and entertaining reading. Others write books so chock full of information that they become indispensable reference material that I find myself going to pretty often. My friend Syl Arena is an author and teacher who falls into the latter category, and his latest book, Lighting for Digital Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots is something that I think should be more appropriately titled “Light: The Missing Manual”.

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The Switch – Moving from Canon to Nikon, Part V

Gear Talk

This is the conclusion of a 5-part series on an experimental switch from Canon to Nikon.

I guess the big question on everyone’s mind is, “Did you switch or not?” Well, read on, gentle reader.

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Powerful Inspiration for Powerful Portraits

Gear Talk

Portrait photography isn’t easy. Anyone can point a camera at a person and make a quick image. If you’re technically accomplished, you can even get your lighting spot-on and make a great-looking photograph.

But the best portraits have an intangible quality to them that sets them apart. They have soul, that most overused yet accurate of words when it comes to describing photography. They speak to an innate part of the subject’s character, allowing the viewer to see not just what that subject looks like, but also what he or she is feeling and thinking.

Brian Smith is one of those photographers who can pull this off, and do so with applomb. He is perhaps one of the most accomplished portrait artists working today, and his portfolio, which drips with celebrities ranging from Anne Hathaway to Richard Branson and then some, attests to that accomplishment.

So it’s always with a lot of eagerness that I look forward to any kind of information – a book, video tutorial, whatever – from an artist like Brian. Fortunately for us, he has delivered a book on the subject of portrait photography, and what a whopper of a book it is.

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