Friday, 27 March 2009

Litepanels LP-Micro LED Light Source

For the last couple of weeks I've been testing and evaluating a Litepanels LP-Micro LED light source. If you're looking for a lightweight and compact cool daylight light (5600°K) source for you video or DSLR camera, this is the one for you. The Micro weighs in at around 110 grams and runs on 4 x AA alkaline, Ni-MH or Lithium batteries. The light source is an array of 48 high output LEDs (light emitting diodes) housed in a case 3.3" W x 3.3" H x 1. 5" D (83.8mm x 83.8mm x 38.1mm).

The unit comes with a hot-shoe mount with a pivot that allows a backward/forward tilt but no rotation. A standard 1/4" screw fitting can be used with the thread in the base of the hot shoe.

A good daylight balanced light source.

One of the key advantages of the LP-Micro over a halogen light is the cool running temperature and low power consumption. "Official" figures state that you should get around 1.5 to 2 hours from a fresh set of AA alkaline batteries or up to 8 hours with a set of AA lithium batteries. There are no figures available for Nickle Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) batteries. I've run my own tests which prove a fresh set of AA alkaline batteries will fade just like the Duracell bunny after an hour of continuous use. I've run a continuous test at full power with freshly
charged Ni-MH 2500 mAh batteries which lasted for 1 hour and 42 minutes with no appreciable loss of output from the LP-Micro.

Rechargeable batteries in the long term are certainly a better bet for most applications than alkaline batteries and in my opinion are the better option for use with the LPMicro. A set of 4 x AA Ni-MH 2500 mAh batteries costs in the region of £9.00 and can be recharged up to 1,000 times, whereas a set of 4 x AA costs around £3.50 on the high street. 'Nuf
said!

If you do decide to use an LP-Micro for long periods, be sure to carry plenty of spare batteries – a day's supply AA batteries will weigh a lot less than a dedicated battery for a lamp such as a Paglight C6, which on average will last for 90 minutes at full output and weighs around 1 Kg (2.2 lbs or the same weight as a bag of sugar!) a spare battery for the Pag will set you back a cool £100.00 or more.

LEDs could well be the future of photographic and film lighting, despite their high initial cost. The life of LEDs is close to 100,000 hours and with the LP-Micro the output can be continuously dimmed digitally without any change to the colour temperature, unlike halogen sources the colour temperature gets warmer (more orange) as the current is decreased. And being a daylight source to start with, correcting to tungsten loses less light than if you were correcting tungsten to daylight.

With the supplied CTO gel in place.

I want another one of these! If you need to get a remote light into a tight spot or lift the shadows under someone's eyes and create a catchlight the LP-Micro is ideal. Its uses are many. I'll be posting examples over the coming weeks.

An excellent light source for close-ups and small pack shots.

For more information visit the Bogen Imaging UK website.

Canon EOS-1D & 1Ds Mk III - firmware updates

Canon have just announced the following firmware updates which resolve a number of issues:

EOS-1D Mk III firmware version 1.2.5 for cameras with firmware version up to 1.2.3 and for the EOS-1Ds Mk III firmware version 1.1.4 for cameras with firmware versions up to 1.1.2.

Click here to view the page at CPN Europe.

TTFN

Ian

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Canon EOS 500D Digital Camera Launched

Canon have launched a timely replacement for the EOS 450D with addition of HD video to the EOS enthusiasts range - here's the Canon official press release.


Canon announces the new 15.1MP EOS 500D which offers photographers an outstanding combination of features. Following the launch of the first Canon EOS camera to shoot movies –
the EOS 5D Mark II in September 2008 – Canon now brings Full High Definition
(HD) video capability to consumers in a compact and lightweight DSLR.

The new EOS 500D features a 15.1 Megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor – ideal for
large detailed prints or enormous cropping possibilities. For shooting in near-dark
conditions, the EOS 500D offers a high ISO sensitivity up to 3200 which is
expandable to 12800, giving photographers the power to shoot in the dimmest light
conditions. Outstanding noise reduction is made possible by Canon’s DIGIC 4
processor.


The EOS 500D heralds a new way for photography enthusiasts to capture their
world. It pairs outstanding still image capture with Full HD 1080P video recording.
For longer video shoots, users can also choose lower shooting resolutions of 720P
or VGA. A built-in HDMI connection allows easy and instant review of images and
movie clips on any compatible HDTV.

Every detail revealed exacting image preview and review is provided by a 3.0” Clear View LCD
screen.The same screen as used on the acclaimed 5D Mark II, it features a 920,000 dot count – for ultra-detailed image review, accurate focus checks, and clear access to the EOS menu system. As well as aiding shooting from awkward angles, Live View mode includes contrast based and Face Detection AF options.

Ideal for newcomers to digital SLR photography, these allow compact-camera style
auto focus, with a real-time image displayed on the LCD.
Fast processing, fast focusing Canon’s DIGIC 4 processor drives continuous shooting speeds of up to 3.4 fps in bursts of up to 170 JPEGs1. Using Canon’s wide area AF system – which features
9 individual sensors, including a central cross type point with a high precision
sensor for f/2.8 or faster lenses– makes capturing split-second action sequences
possible.

DIGIC 4 works in conjunction with the CMOS sensor to deliver exceptional noise
reduction and 14-bit image processing for smooth gradation of tones and naturallooking
colours. In addition, DIGIC 4 enables the ultra-fast start-up times and nearinstant
image review after shooting that photographers demand.

Distinctive EOS quality despite its compact, lightweight body, the EOS 500D includes all the hallmarks of the EOS system. Every detail of the EOS 500D – from the large, bright viewfinder
to the famously intuitive EOS menu system – is designed to provide users with a
world-class shooting experience.

Image quality is protected by the EOS Integrated Cleaning System, which reduces,
repels and removes unwanted dust from the sensor. Stubborn particles can be
easily removed in post-production by using Dust Delete Data – which can be
added to the image in-camera – and Canon’s included Digital Photo Professional
software.

Digital Photo Professional software offers a comprehensive RAW editing package,
with functions such as a quick check tool, a cropping tool, and a stamp tool – plus
the ability to change brightness, White Balance and Picture Styles in RAW images.
The software suite is included with EOS Utility and Picture Style editor for
unrivalled versatility.

Compatibility with the full range of Canon’s EF and EF-S lenses and EX-series
Speedlites – including the exceptionally compact, powerful new Speedlite 270EX,
which features a bounce and zoom head, plus fast recharging from just 2 AA sized
1 Figure may vary depending on capacity of SD card used batteries – allows the creation of a shooting system as unique as the photographer using it.

“The EOS 500D pushes the boundaries of what photographers can demand from
their cameras, combining exceptional images with full HD video,” said Rainer
Fuehres, Head of Canon Consumer Imaging, Europe. “Photography enthusiasts
can now capture their most significant moments in a manner that matches their
creativity.”

Any Canon photographer can register for the CANON iMAGE GATEWAY service,
which allows access to the latest EOS information, useful updates and exclusive
EOS content – plus tools that allow users to create their own video podcasts and
store images online.

Features at a glance:
• 15.1 Megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
• Full HD movie recording with HDMI connection for viewing and playback on an
HDTV
• ISO 100-3200 (expandable to 12800)
• 3.4 frames per second continuous shooting
• Max. 170 large JPEG images in a single burst
• 3.0” ClearView LCD with Live View mode
• 9-point wide area AF with cross type centre point
• High speed DIGIC 4 performance and superb image quality
• EOS Integrated Cleaning System
• Full compatibility with Canon EF and EF-S lenses and EX-series Speedlites,
including the new Speedlite 270EX and two new tilt and shift lenses TS-E
17mm f/4L and TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II

For more information including full technical specifications, please visit
this link

Will I get any work done today?

Amazon have just delivered my copy of Joe McNally's The Hot Shoe Diaries - I must be good and not read any more until I've finished work!

Well done, Joe! An instant classic that will without doubt become well used.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Photographic Masterpieces for Sale

If you've got a spare $2 million to spare you could become the owner of some of the classic s of 20th century photography. On the 31st March 2009 Christie's in New York will be auctioning some classic images of the 20th century by the likes of Ansel Adams, Helmut Newton, Irvin Penn & Diane Arbus. You can see the full catalogue at Christie's New York website.

Back in the early 1980's whilst in California, I had the opportunity to buy an original Ansel Adams print, printed by the man himself, but for some reason passed at the opportunity - idiot! What grieves me is the fact I didn't buy that Ansel Adams print when I had the opportunity; look at the sale estimates for Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, 1941 - $25,000 to $35,000! And who says photography doesn't pay? It's just a shame some have to wait until they're dead to benefit from their art...

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Money Saving Tip

If, like me you've a load of computers, external hard disk drives (HDDs), printers and scanners connected to your main electricity power supply and in turn your computer, it can be a nightmare shutting them down everytime you finish with them. If you're in the UK I've found an excellent solution - the E ON Powerdown aka the Intelliplug.


This device plugs into your electricity wall socket. You plug the power plug for your main computer into the top of the socket and your extension leads for your peripherals into the side sockets. When you switch you main computer on or off the "intelligent" socket senses the change in power and status and switches on or off all the connected peripherals with no hassle.

According the the blurb from E ON, this device can save you up £16.00 a year (based on 2007 electricity costs) which at current rates will no doubt will be substantially more!

For more information on the PowerDown click here.

I bought mine on Ebay for around a fiver. They are available from Amazon branded as the Intelliplug for around 20 quid click here for the Amazon page.

That's it for now.

Ian

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Actors & Models Wanted

I'm working on a new project and need to do a load of test shots in return for portfolio images. If you or anyone you know are interested, please contact me by email enclosing a recent snap - it doesn't have to be a professionally created image.

When you contact me I'll give more information what I'm up to. Obviously, I don't want to give too much away on the web - yet!

If you know anyone else who may be interested, please pass on this page or let me know.

Cheers

Ian

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Focus on Imaging 2009 - 3rd Instalment

I've just been comparing the specifications on side access backpacks and even though Lowepro are a longtime favourite, I'm going to try and take a look at the new Kata range of bags as I think they're in the market to give Lowepro a run for their money.

Kata has really ripped up the rulebook because thanks to things like its special TST (Thermo Shield Technology!!) the bags are not only very strong and protective but also incredibly light – but how can you get the best of both worlds? Because TST is a protective foam laminated to high quality ballistic nylon and pressed under heat the result is an incredibly lightweight (because its foam….mostly made up of air) yet massively strong, almost rigid material – you’ve got light and protective! And Kata care about people’s shapes so the bags are designed with this in mind - they look at THE USER and their shape to develop harnesses and straps that are REALLY comfortable and effective at distributing weight….the bag must FIT YOU as well as your gear - this means you don’t end up with a bad back after carrying a whole load of heavy gear around with you! I've just sold a Lowepro Nature Trekker backpack as it weighed nearly as much as the gear I was carrying - not good.

It looks like the Kata D-3N1-30 DPS Sling backpack will be my choice. Once I get the new bag I'll write an evaluation and publish it here.

I did try try and get to the Bogen Imaging stand, but it was like trying to get served in a busy bar on Friday evening! Bogen's stand was one of the larger stands at Focus and they are certainly taking the promotion of their product ranges seriously - Manfrotto, Gitzo, Kata, National Geographic & Visible Dust.

What most of us don't realise is Bogen Imaging UK is part of the Vitec Group a UK based and stock exchange listed worldwide Imaging and Staging, Broadcast Systems and Broadcast Services business.

Shortly, Bogen Imaging will be introducing the innovative Lite Panels products into the UK - a range of low-energy consumption LED daylight lighting fixtures. These will be a real coup for both studio & location photographers - portability, low heat output and high levels of illumination from a compact source. I can't wait to get my hands on some of these for testing. I've a big portrait project starting shortly that Lite Panels would be the ideal light source.

Ian

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Freeze Frame - 150 Years of Polar Photography

Today sees the launch of Freeze Frame from the Scott Polar Research Institute; a website drawing on images from 150 years of polar exploration including photographs from Sir Ranulph Fiennes' own collection.

There is also a book specially written and a touring exhibition Polar Portraits to accompany this new website.

Freeze Frame is well worth a visit as it makes you realise the lengths people used to go to in order to create images in the world's most inhospitable climates. Imagine having to remove your thick seal skin gloves in a temperature of -60 degrees celcius to adjust your focus or aperture - or having to stand still for a long exposure when you're freezing cold.

Brr!

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Quick Tip - DSLR Mirror Lock UP

When working with long exposures or at extreme magnification, for example long telephoto lenses or macro lenses, the movement of the reflex mirror can cause unwanted vibrations which will cause unsharp images.

With older film SLR cameras and some DSLR bodies you'll find a mirror lock up facility somewhere in the menus. If you don't have a mirror lock up, don't worry as Live View works in the same way. When you activate Live View on a DSLR such as a Canon 50D or 5D Mk II the mirror locks in the up position to allow the sensor to "see" the lense image. Live View also has the advantage that you're not looking through the viewfinder which again can cause camera movement and blur with long exposures or high magnifications.


To further reduce vibrations use a cable release or other form of remote release, 'cos even touching the shutter release on the camera body can cause unwanted vibrations. It goes without saying that you're using a sturdy tripod!


Another factor that can cause blurred or unsharp umages when working outdoors is wind/air movement vibrating your lense and camera. I'll cover how to treat location wind another time.

TTFN

Ian