Rolling Stone Contributing Photographer Drew Gurian on the Leica M9

Rolling Stone Contributing Photographer Drew Gurian on the Leica M9

Drew Gurian is a music and portrait photographer based in New York City. For the past five years he has been the first assistant to long-time photojournalist and National Geographic photographer Joe McNally. Last month, Gurian shot the Wakarusa Music Festival, which included running a backstage portrait studio. He used a Leica M9 from BorrowLenses to shoot the event. Read about why Gurian chooses Leica for this work. Music Photography with the Leica M9 by Drew Gurian I’ve been a big fan of Leica rangefinders for the last few years. I own an M6 and am on a wait list for the new ‘M’.  For this particular shoot, I really wanted a digital Leica body (the M6 is film) so I picked up a spotless M9 body and 90mm lens from BorrowLenses. Though I shot the festival with a few different cameras, here’s what I love about the Leica: It’s a completely non-intrusive camera system.  Waving a DSLR with a 70-200mm lens in front of your subject isn’t exactly a comforting feeling for them.  Whether you’re shooting static portraits or street photography (which, in my mind, is what Leicas were made for), I find a noticeable difference in a subject’s mood and energy with a Leica.  You’re there with your subject and not hiding behind a massive machine. It’s as simple as a camera can get and Leica’s design hasn’t changed almost at all since the first models came out in the early 1900’s.  All of their rangefinders are fully manual focus, almost all lenses are fixed focal lengths, and they’re incredibly sharp. The M9 is much slower than a DSLR (though...
Tips for Setting Up Your Kino Flo BarFly

Tips for Setting Up Your Kino Flo BarFly

ABOUT BARFLY Our Kino Flo BarFly 200D 2-light kits and BarFly 400D 1-light kits are professional, energy-efficient lighting systems ideal for filmmakers and photographers alike. They produce 3200K and 5500K (daylight) temperature lighting from florescent, dimmable 55W lamps inside Kino’s signature modular fixtures. Each bank can be switched on and off for full stop exposure changes. The kits also come with: Gel Frames (2 for the 2-light kit, 1 for the 1-light kit). Note that these kits do NOT come with gels. You will have to apply the gel yourself to the provided gel frame using a non-destructive adhesive (also not included). 90 Degree Grids (2 for the 2-light kit, 1 for the 1-light kit) True Match Quad Fluorescent Lamps with padded mini case. 55QK32 55W KF32 Quad Lamps with padded mini case. Light stands (2 for the 2-light kit, 1 for the 1-light kit). AC Power. Heavy Duty Kino-branded  Case. These kits are a fantastic option for those seeking all-in-one kits that produce very natural-looking light that is intuitive to shape because what you see is, generally, what you get. However, they are less intuitive to set up. Please take note of the following tips to prevent bulb breakage and other kit issues. SETTING UP THE BARFLY Kino Flo lamps are aways shipped from BL outside the lamp fixtures to prevent breakage. Inserting lamps into fixture: Insert lamps at a 45 degree angle. It will feel unnatural at first but if you feel any tension at all inserting the lamps, you must restart and try inserting at an extreme angle. They should drop in smoothly. Once down, push the lamps...
Lenstag: Discouraging Camera and Lens Theft One Registered Serial at a Time

Lenstag: Discouraging Camera and Lens Theft One Registered Serial at a Time

UPDATE: Lenstag, the service that collects serial numbers from your gear and keeps them in a registry to be flagged and indexed online if they get ever stolen, now has free apps for iOS and Android in multiple languages. Some features include: gear name auto-complete, picture-taking of your gear right from your phone, easy and immediate flagging, and more. Lenstag aims to curb theft by making it harder to resell stolen items. Download it here: • http://lens.tg/ios • http://lens.tg/android Lenstag is a new, free service that collects serial numbers from your lenses and cameras and keeps them in a registry to be flagged in the unfortunate event that they get stolen. By locking down a serial as belonging to its owner, the reselling and pawning of stolen gear becomes increasingly discouraged. The more people who register the gear, the more effective the registry system is. Stolen serials are indexed online, so checking up on a serial before purchasing in the resell market is easier than ever. We have already registered our gear and want to give a few pointers on finding your gears’ serials. There are a lot of numbers listed on cameras and lenses and not all of them are unique identifiers–be sure you have the correct number! CANON Canon’s Guide to Locating Equipment Serial Numbers is a great, visual resource. Some of the highlights to remember: Don’t confuse company codes for serial numbers. Company codes tend to have letters in them like “‘UV” or “UZ”. Serials do not. Most lens serials will be either on the body of the lens or on the mount. Canon body serials are located on the base...
BorrowLenses Street Photography Package Shoot Off: Leica, Fuji, and Nikon V1 Reviewed

BorrowLenses Street Photography Package Shoot Off: Leica, Fuji, and Nikon V1 Reviewed

Save time while also saving money with our new Photography and Videography Packages. Packages are a convenient way to rent a group of items with 1 click, whether it be a collection of prime lenses or various parts needed for a successful studio lighting setup. Our Street Photography Packages feature mirrorless bodies for their lightweight and inconspicuous (while still stylish) design–great for on-the-go candid shooting. Ben Revzin of ShouldIGetIt.com took three of our Street Photography Packages for a spin to see which set was the most, well, street savvy! See his results in the video review below. The packages reviewed: Street Photography (Compact) Essentials Package – Leica Street Photography (Compact) Essentials Package – Fuji Street Photography (Compact) Essentials Package – Nikon For more reviews on mirrorless systems, be sure to check out Sohail Mamdani’s Op-Ed on the Fuji X100s and his Leica Diary...
Op-Ed: My Time With the Fuji X100s

Op-Ed: My Time With the Fuji X100s

It’s been a while since I first got my hands on the Fuji X100s, and in that time, I’ve carried this little thing with me just about everywhere I go (including on my honeymoon). I’ve also gotten a few questions about it that range from my general opinion of the Fuji cameras, to what settings I shoot with. In this Op-Ed, I’ll answer a few of those questions and also put down some of my thoughts about why this camera has turned out to be the sensation that it has. It’s not a full review – for that you’ll have to head over to the one I wrote for Chase Jarvis’ website. First, the questions…. Is the X100s really that much better than the X100? Yes. Yes it is. Really? Yes, really. Why? Well, for starters, it focuses a heck of a lot faster. In fact, it’s one of the quickest-focusing compact cameras out there. I love the X-Trans sensor in it, too; I trust this thing to put out great images with solid dynamic range and color accuracy. Low-light performance is incredible, all the way to ISO 6400. Manual focusing aids like Peaking are a nice touch, and welcome. Okay. What’s your one key favorite feature? Low-light performance. Love it, love it, love it. It’s that good? Yes. Here, look: That’s at ISO 6400, straight out of camera JPEG. Also, that’s shot at 1/8 of a second and is plenty sharp. Leaf shutters for the win. Cool. Would you replace your DSLR with it? Nope. I know some photographers have, or have augmented their Medium-Format systems with a...
The Hasselblad Is Here: First Impressions and Sample Shots

The Hasselblad Is Here: First Impressions and Sample Shots

The Hasselblad H5D40 medium-format digital camera is here, so of course we had to give it a go. We pressed a number of our staffers into service as models, and went through an impromptu portrait session. Sample images as well as first impressions after the jump. First, the sample images… Ryan Tubongbanua Andrew Wills Courtney Newvine and Jo Deguzman Alex Huff Shooting with the Hasselblad H5D40 was a mixed bag in that it was at once familiar and foreign. I’ve shot medium-format digital and film before, mostly on the Phase (digital) and Hasselblad 500C (film). So I was familiar with the H5D40’s basic operation. The shoot was set up in our lobby. We used a large Elinchrom 74″ Octa as the light source, with one 500 w/s Elinchrom BXRI monolight in it, plus a second BXRI scraping across the collapsible background for some of the shots. Both were triggered using the Skyport transceiver included with the Elinchrom BXRI kit. Here are a few initial impressions. Flash sync is up to 1/800th. This is awesome, since it completely eliminates ambient light.  The 120mm f/4 Macro lens I shot with is crazy-sharp. The dynamic range and detail are everything that Hasselblad has promised (more on this in future articles about this new platform). Watch your highlights. There’s a handy histogram in the top LCD that shows you this, so it’s relatively easy. Get a tripod. I shot handheld, but this is a heavy platform. If I was shooting at a lower shutter speed (say, like 1/200th), I’d probably see some camera shake. Since the flash can sync up to 1/800th, it didn’t...
Nikon’s Biggest Gun: A Review of the New 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR Lens

Nikon’s Biggest Gun: A Review of the New 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR Lens

Introduction Until recently, Canon’s 800mm f/5.6 lens has been about the longest lens currently in production by one of the big manufacturers. The longest lens on the Nikon side has been the 600mm f/4, which I took out for a spin not too long ago. Now, Nikonians have their own cannon (yes, pun intended) to play with. The Nikon AF-S 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR lens is finally shipping, and we’ve got them in our inventory for rental. I took this behemoth out for a test to see just what Nikon packed into it. Last week, I posted sample images from that shoot; here’s the full review. A Bad Start My experience with the 800mm began poorly. I took the lens out with a D4, an Induro AT–413 tripod and a Custom Brackets gimbal head to one of my favorite birding spots in the Redwood Shores region of the San Francisco Bay Area. Every spring, these black-and-white birds call Black Skimmers show up around here, and make for some excellent photo opportunities. They gather around the shoreline, and fly low over bodies of water, letting their lower beaks dip into the water as they fly, trying to snap up small fish. Get lucky, and you can walk away with an image of one with its beak creating a wake through water, which is what I was aiming for. Well, things didn’t start out well. I set up everything, balanced the lens on the gimbal, and started shooting. Immediately, I noticed that the lens was incredibly slow to focus. For static subjects, it was fine – you could zero in...
Sample Images from the Nikon 800mm f/5.6

Sample Images from the Nikon 800mm f/5.6

I’ve been out testing the Nikon 800mm f/5.6 lens we just got in, and have a few sample images to share. I went out to the Redwood Shores region of the San Francisco Bay Area to shoot the skimmers that show up around here every spring, and got a handful of other birds as well. The full-up review is coming soon, so stay tuned for that. Black Skimmer   Images © Sohail Mamdani. All rights...
Playing with Nikon’s Big Guns.

Playing with Nikon’s Big Guns.

Not so long ago, I did a post about Canon’s new “Big Guns”, the 600mm f/4 II and the 1Dx. We’re now waiting for Nikon’s newest super-tele, the 800mm f/5.6, to ship, but I thought I’d take the newest flagship camera from Nikon out for a spin with the venerable 600mm f/4 that they’ve had out for a while.   Initial impressions Shooting with the Nikon D4, with regards to ergonomics and handling, was a substantial change from the D3s. It’s not as angular as that body, something I think Nikon’s been changing lately. The buttons have more feedback to them, and don’t feel soft. The body itself is more bulbous and contoured (dare I say, more Canon-like?), and feels way better in my hands than the D3s. The shutter button is angled down a bit, allowing my finger to lie on it in a more natural fashion. One annoyance is that the AE-L button has been replaced with a little joystick, and I miss that. There’s also a live-view button inset into a rocker switch that lets you move it between photo and video modes, as well as the 8-way d-pad that’s carried over from the D3s. All in all, I liked the changes to body. It’s a more pleasant camera to shoot. In the field My experience didn’t start off well – which was my own dang fault. I’d set the Nikon’s CH (Continuous High) mode to 11 frames per second. Why this wasn’t set to the max by default puzzled me, but I shrugged it off and went out to the Coyote Hills Regional Park in nearby...