What (Else) to Know When Renting the Hasselblad H4X Medium Format Camera w/ 80MP IQ280 Digital Back

What (Else) to Know When Renting the Hasselblad H4X Medium Format Camera w/ 80MP IQ280 Digital Back

A while back, we did a piece on what to know when renting Hasselblad H4X Medium Format Camera w/ 80MP IQ280 Digital Back. Medium format gear is a pretty different creature from your standard DSLR, even your high-end Canon 1Dx and Nikon D4’s. Like my colleague Alex Huff pointed out, it can be “perhaps a little scary.” Here are a few more things you should keep in mind when shooting with the Medium Format gear, especially with the 80MP IQ280 Phase One back. As Alex mentioned, you will need Capture One to read and work with Phase One’s IQF files. While Capture One is available for free for 60 days, here’s something even better – it’s available for free for an unlimited amount of time in “DB” mode. DB mode restricts you to using Capture One with files from Phase, Mamiya, and Leaf digital backs only, but has the full feature set of Capture One Pro. Alex also mentioned the reverse crop-factor for lenses when you use them with this back. That difference is ridiculously stark when compared to APS-C or even full-frame sensors, let alone Micro 4/3 or smaller. Here’s a shot taken with a 24mm lens. As an image, it’s not particularly remarkable – till you realize that I was standing almost under the tree itself. The reverse crop factor gives you some seriously wide angles. The lenses made by Hasselblad are amazing as far as image quality goes. What they are not, is weather-sealed. I can’t stress this enough, folks – do NOT take these out to Burning Man. Or the beach. I did, and we had...
9 Carry On Friendly Photo and Video Accessories for Holiday Plane Travel

9 Carry On Friendly Photo and Video Accessories for Holiday Plane Travel

Plane travel can be a source of anxiety for photographers. Checking bags isn’t safe for most gear and being able to skip the baggage claim carousels is always a bonus anyway – especially around the holidays. There are a lot of small items to shoot with, including high-quality mirrorless cameras, tiny lenses, and small flash gear. However, it is sometimes hard to skimp on support systems, lighting, and storage in order to save space. Rolling bags, tripods, and light stands all tend to be a pain to try and take on a plane. Here are 9 items that you should be able to take on board with you without having to sacrifice your shooting needs. I say “should” because the TSA is a fickle fish – what flies at one airport may not fly at another and, as always, different carriers will be more strict than others. These are my personal favorite items that I have air traveled with for trade shows, overseas vacations, and for smaller gigs without incident (so far!) on both large airliners and regional jets. AlienBees LS1100 Backlight Stand   This little light stand fits into almost any bag – collapsed it is under a foot and a half and extends up to 3 feet. Don’t pack this for lighting portraits of basketball players but for family get-togethers (especially if everyone is sitting around the couch) it is perfect. Think Tank Airport International V2.0 Rolling Camera Bag  This bag is specifically designed to adhere to TSA standards. It combines the soft give of a fabric body (good for inevitable overstuffing) with the protection of a hard...
First Impressions and Sample Photos from the Panasonic GX7 Micro Four Thirds Mirrorless Camera

First Impressions and Sample Photos from the Panasonic GX7 Micro Four Thirds Mirrorless Camera

Panasonic’s GX7 boasts in-body stabilization, up to 40 FPS using an electronic shutter, and Light Speed AF all inside a super stylish design with a comfortable rubber grip. One of BL’s biggest micro four thirds enthusiasts took it out for a spin – check out the results below, along with some personal observations on performance and features. First, the facts: • Sensor: 16.84MP Micro Four Thirds (2x Crop) MOS Sensor • File Format: JPEG, MPO, RAW • Video: 1080p HD • ISO Range: 200-25600 (Extended Mode: 125-25600) • AF Points: 23 • Ports: USB 2.0 • Flash: Hot Shoe, Built-In • FPS: Up to 10 (except when using the electronic shutter feature for 40 FPS) • Live View • WiFi • Weight: 14.18oz Other notable features include an impressive action-stopping 1/8000th of a second shutter ability and flash syncing at 1/320th of a second and a DSLR-esque twin-dial control system. The fully 90 degree tilting viewfinder is also a welcome feature. Manual focus is super easy with the GX7. You can touch the area on the screen where you want to zoom in for manual focus assist. There’s peaking as well. The touch screen is capacitive (responds to your touch). Besides the ability to change key settings while shooting, you can review images by swiping through them with the flick of a finger. As mentioned above, the GX7 has this crazy 40 FPS mode when using the electronic shutter. However, to use it you are limited to reduced-resolution JPEGs but it’s still a fun option to have. As silly as it may look, tilting the EVF to point the...
Nikon D610 Review with Sample Images

Nikon D610 Review with Sample Images

Court Leve, a well-known and respected photographer in Northern California, reviews Nikon’s D610 DSLR. Find out how it compares not only to its immediate predecessor, the D600, but also to the D800, D300s, D700, and D3s. The D600 was famously fraught with controversy surrounding its oil and dust build-up issues and many believe the D610 is a smoke n mirrors release put in place to prevent a formal D600 recall. Find out if the D610 is a true upgrade or merely a less expensive substitute for other full frames on the market. Nikon D610 Review with Sample Images by Court Leve Nikon’s D610 is an updated version of their D600 and includes a couple of internal improvements: • Increase in frame rate from 5.5 to 6 FPS • Installation of an improved shutter mechanism, replacing the version on the D600 that apparently was the point of much contention with regards to oil or dust on the sensor. To any Nikon DSLR shooter, the D610 will feel familiar and I was able to get it up and running without referring to the manual. The dials, buttons, and menus are all easy to navigate, are intuitive, and clearly marked. Here is how it compares to other Nikon cameras: • The D610 is considerably smaller than a D800 and a touch smaller than the D300s. • The shutter is notably quieter on the D610 compared to the D3s, D700, and D800. • Controls are the same as on other D-series cameras with the exception of the center button on playback. Instead of being able to zoom in quickly for a more detailed view, it toggles to...
What to Know When Renting the Hasselblad H4X Medium Format Camera w/ 80MP IQ280 Digital Back

What to Know When Renting the Hasselblad H4X Medium Format Camera w/ 80MP IQ280 Digital Back

Our new Hasselblad H4X Medium Format Camera w/ 80MP IQ280 Digital Back is big, expensive, perhaps a little scary, and worth every penny if using it for the right assignment. We encourage renters to take advantage of Phase One’s training program if you are not already familiar with working with this system. Here’s some advice we’ve collected after using it ourselves. Stay tuned for sample images here on the blog! Difficulty Level Any reasonably seasoned shooter can handle the awesome power of medium format. The settings are just what you’d expect from a camera: AF/MF options, metering options, shutter/f-stop/and ISO control, etc. Working with the RAW files can be a challenge if you don’t have Capture One software. Handling the camera can be a challenge without an assistant because of its delicacy and bulk. In the right environment and with some patience, this camera will definitely introduce you to another level of imagery and is worth getting familiar with. What it Can Do: • Produce 10328 x 7760px images with the massive 80MP sensor. • Sync with strobes and flashes up to 1/800th of a second. • Maintain your focus point throughout camera position changes thanks to True Focus technology. • Shoot at the very low ISO 35. • Make you a sandwich. What it Can’t Do: • Video. • Be super reliable when not tethered. This camera only has 1 CF slot so tethering for image backup is a good idea. Also, the LCD preview isn’t a great visual guide – the Histogram is your friend here if you don’t have access to an external monitor. • Be easily hand-held. It’s...
Gear Spotlight: Is the 24-70mm f/4 IS Canon’s Best General-Purpose Zoom?

Gear Spotlight: Is the 24-70mm f/4 IS Canon’s Best General-Purpose Zoom?

The 24-70mm zoom range is one of the most popular zoom ranges on any camera, and most manufacturers have at least one lens in that category. Canon’s 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom was getting fairly long in the tooth, and its replacement, the Mark II, has garnered widespread praise and accolades from users and reviewers alike. Lost in all of that was Canon’s 24-70mm f/4L IS zoom, which was released a few months after the f/2.8 version. This odd lens, which is, ostensibly, the replacement for Canon’s similarly long in the tooth 24-105mm f/4L IS lens, came as something of a disappointment. Why, people wondered, did Canon kill the additional 35mm of zoom range from this lens, and why would anyone opt for this lens over the sharper and faster f/2.8 Mark II? Well, I’ve been using this lens for the last few weeks as I work up a series of video articles for you folks, and I’m starting to think that this dark horse of a lens is a hidden gem. Bad figures of speech aside, there’s a lot to like about the Canon 24-70mm f/4L IS lens. Let’s start with the “IS” part. IS stands for Image Stabilization, and the 24-70mm f/4 lens, like many of Canon’s other lenses, has that. What’s unusual is that this is only the second lens in Canon’s lineup to feature the newer “Hybrid IS” system. Most image stabilization systems have the ability to compensate for movement or vibration in an up-down and side-to-side direction. Canon’s Hybrid IS system goes one step further, adding compensation for camera shift in both vertical and horizontal planes....
Moose Peterson’s Shooting Tips for the Nikon 800mm f/5.6 Super Telephoto Lens

Moose Peterson’s Shooting Tips for the Nikon 800mm f/5.6 Super Telephoto Lens

Moose Peterson is a Nikon Legend Behind the Lens, Lexar Elite Photographer, recipient of the John Muir Conservation Award, and a Research Associate with the Endangered Species Recovery Program. Moose has a passion for photographing wildlife and wild places and educating the public about our wild heritage. He has been published in over 142 magazines worldwide and is the author of 26 books, including Photographic FUNdamentals. Moose has shot with a lot of super telephoto lenses and the Nikon 800mm f/5.6 is among his favorites. See why in his quick review with sample images. The Amazing Nikon 800 f/5.6 AFS by Moose Peterson 800mms is a magical focal length that I had longed to see in the Nikon AFS line-up. It is one of Nikon’s sharpest lenses ever. The 800mm f/5.6 delivers such amazing image quality that it’s nearly disconcerting because it shows off any flaws in your photographic technique. You must use proper long lens technique when shooting the 800mm on a fantastic tripod properly situated on Earth. At 800mms, you have a very narrow depth of field especially when you’re shooting up close and personal. 800mm f/5.6 vs the 600mm f/4 The lens itself is just a tad longer and a tad heavier than the 600mm f/4. However, I feel it is also a tad better more balanced and a tad sharper. So with that said, you could go with the 600mm and a 1.4x teleconverter and be in the same ballpark as the 800mm but it’s not quite the same. We are splitting hairs here but that’s what we do in photography – we look for the right...
New Gear: The Fuji X-E1 Is Here

New Gear: The Fuji X-E1 Is Here

The Fuji X-Pro1 has been in our inventory for some time now, and we’re pleased to add its newer sibling, the X-E1, to our rental offerings. This younger, lighter, and smaller version of the X-Pro1 ditches a few features of the critically acclaimed (and very successful) X-Pro1, while adding a few welcome ones. Read on to find out what you need to know about the Fuji X-E1. First things first – the X-E1 is, as I just said, lighter and smaller than the X-Pro1. By weight, it’s about 25-30% lighter, but by size, the difference isn’t as drastic as I thought it would be when I bought mine (yes, I bought one not too long before we started carrying the X-E1 – figures!). The X-E1 is shorter than the X-Pro1, and while the difference isn’t great, folks with large hands will notice the difference. The X-E1 is also thinner than the X-Pro1, but again, not by much. The button layouts have also changed a bit. Fuji has relocated the playback button to the left of the display, but otherwise, everything on the back is about where it was on the X-Pro1. The X-E1 also retains the dual dials of the Pro, as well as the assignable “Fn” button on top. Besides the size and button layout, there are some other key differences between the bodies, so let me sum them up. The X-E1 doesn’t have an Optical Viewfinder (OLF). Unlike the X-Pro1, which has a “hybrid” viewfinder that can be switched from OVF to Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) mode, the X-E1 just has an EVF. It is a higher-resolution EVF...
Quick Look at the Sony HVL-F60M Flash with LED Video Lights

Quick Look at the Sony HVL-F60M Flash with LED Video Lights

Sony has started releasing cameras and flashes with hot shoes that abandon the previous proprietary Minolta-style hot shoe which means the Sony HVL-F60 pairs well with the NEX line, the RX line, and the A99. This is also our first flash gun that is suitable for both photographers and videographers thanks to the inclusion of a mini LED panel on the flash head. Pros Versatility. Even if you aren’t a videographer, the LED option is neat. It can replicate small window light and is easy enough for a complete lighting neophyte. Menus are bright and easy to navigate/read. Accepts an off-camera cable and external battery pack. Built-in bounce, high-speed sync option (up to 1/2000th), TTL. Can be optically fired from your camera’s built in flash and the HVL-F60M can, in turn, fire other flashes. Cons No PC sync cable port. It’s kind of huge. The tilting is in clicks of 90º, 60º, 45º, and 30º and not in between. Can’t be used on your older Minolta-style hot shoes unless you have an adapter. Check this compatibility chart for more info. The off-camera cable and external battery pack ports are only compatible with Sony’s FA-CC1AM and FA-EB1AM, respectively. We’d recommend this flash for any Sony user, especially if you have been looking for something powerful for the little NEX or RX cameras. For the video users, the specs on the LED indicate that you can light your subject at about 6′ away on ISO 3200 and f/5.6. Just how WELL it lights your subject at that distance is uncertain and probably up to personal taste/artistic vision. Rent it and tell us...
New Gear: The Metabones Nikon to Fuji Speedbooster

New Gear: The Metabones Nikon to Fuji Speedbooster

Not too long ago, following the release of Fuji’s most recent firmware update for its X lineup of cameras, I posted an article about extending the Fuji system with Leica lenses using the Fuji X mount to Leica M mount adapter. Indeed, this adapter, along with the Leica 90mm Summarit f/2.5 lens, is my standard portrait setup today. Recently, however, we got in yet another adapter for the Fuji X-mount, and this one’s a total doozy.   The Metabones Nikon to Fuji Speedbooster does for Nikon lenses (including the “G” lenses, which don’t have a manual aperture ring) what the M to X-mount adapter does for Leica lenses – it lets you put them onto Fuji’s X-series cameras, including the X-Pro1, which we rent. Now, if that’s all it did, I’d be pretty pleased as punch that we had added it to our inventory. But adapting the lens is only part of the equation here. First, the adapter works for a much wider variety of lenses. Traditionally, Nikon’s “D” series lenses have been the most easily adapted lenses for other systems, as they have a manual aperture ring and therefore can be used in aperture-priority mode on almost all the mirrorless cameras out there, with adapters. The “G” lenses, however, don’t have aperture rings, so they’re not as easy to adapt. The Metabones adapter gets around this limitation by offering its own aperture ring that maneuvers the tiny iris lever inside the G lens to change the aperture. The aperture ring has an 8-f-stop range ring, with half-stop markings. I have to wonder how accurate this is; what if...