Category Archives: Product Reviews

Reviews of products that I have in the studio or pick up for shooting.

Promote Control – for Time Lapse, Stacked Focus and HDR

I recently got word from Promote Systems that they are sending me a Promote Control to play with for the next month. This is a fascinating little device for Canon and Nikon DSLRs. The supported camera list is as follows:

Nikon: D3, D3s, D3X, D2X, D2Xs, D2H, D2Hs, D200, D300, D300s, D700, D40, D40x, D50, D60, D70, D70s, D80, D90, D3100, D5000, D5100, D7000.

Canon: 1D Mark III, 1Ds Mark III, 1D Mark IV, 5D Mark II, 7D, 30D, 40D, 50D, 400D/XTi, 450D/XSi, 500D/T1i, 600D/T3i, 1000D/XS, 1100D/T3, 60D.

Product Description

Designed for serious amateurs and pros, Promote® Control is an advanced remote control for digital SLR cameras from Canon, Nikon and various other manufacturers. A brief feature list includes:

  • Automatic bracketing for up to 45 shots in a row
  • Up to 9.0EV steps between bracketed exposures
  • Automatic Bulb mode bracketing
  • Programmable Focus Stacking sequences (Canon only, requires a free firmware update)
  • Time-Lapse with optional exposure bracketing for HDR Time-Lapse
  • Pocket-sized alternative to laptop-based camera remote control solutions

Up to 45 images in automatic bracketing! Check out the Promote Control!

Once I receive the demo unit, I will post a review with lots of photos of resulting work. As of this moment, I do not have an ETA for the Promote Control but I am eager to get my hands on it. I would certainly love to know any feed back from my readers who have had an opportunity to use this.

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Sat Com bag for strobists

In an effort to create kit that I can just grab-and-go, I picked up a Sat Com bag from County Comm to accommodate my strobist lighting kit. Their shipping was quick but note that County Comm does tend to sell out of items quickly. Once in stock, it is certainly worth the wait and effort in stalking their web site.

In general, I love tactical gear for carrying equipment.  Not only is it build to withstand punishment but it is expandable via MOLLE attachments. This is something that any photographer will find useful.

Stats From County Comm:

  • 1″ MOLLE webbing on 3 sides of the backpack and strap to allow you to add pouches so your bag can change with your mission.
  • 3” x 5” Velcro Loop patch to allow you to attach name tapes, contents labels or
    Padded Adjustable shoulder strap allows bag to be worn around waist when needed.
  • Double YKK brand zipper openings on the backside of pack.
    Quality materials used throughout: YKK Zippers, ITW Nexus SR (Side Release) Buckles and Real Velcro.
  • Two each, double zippered side compartments.
  • The internal cable pocket is ideal for water bladders. (Bladder not included) making this bladder compatible.
  • Colors: Coyote Brown Or ACU Grey
  • Size – 6″W x  6″D   26″L

This Bag is roomy enough to hold my basic strobist lighting kit which contains everything I need to light a subject on short notice or for use with  guerrilla photography on the move. While it has that capacity to carry more than you would need and is durable enough to carry a heavy load; The bag had a wide shoulder strap which is exceptionally comfortable.  Out in the field, I have quick access to the tools of my trade and everything is well protected.

  • 2 Conon Speedlite 580ex II strobes
  • 2 Canon Speedlite 480ex II strobes
  • 3 JTL 300 light stands
  • 2 Gary Fong collapsible light spheres
  • Aputure Trigmaster Transmitter and receivers
  • 2 Umbrella’s

If you are in the market for a compact bag for strobist work, you should check out their site!  In the near future, I will certainly be placing more orders with them.

Visit County Comm

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Topaz Labs, Lens Effects – First Impressions

So I shot this wonderful photo but the depth of field is not quite what I wanted or envisioned; Now what? You could always go into Photoshop, apply various blurs and hope that you can attain what you initially were looking for; Or you can use the Topaz Labs’ Lens Effects Plug-in.

With Topaz Lens Effects you can:
• Simulate realistic lens, filter & specialty camera effects
• Emphasize focal point and minimize distracting elements
• Enjoy having the flexibility to add in-camera effects after the shot
• Achieve a diverse range of effects without additional equipment

When I opened the plug in, I started with a 450 MB Tif in Photoshop. After much time and work on the part of my laptop, I was finally presented with a beautiful C++ error and no image. Perhaps I was getting a bit ahead of myself here. That being said, I tried a file that was much smaller, about 3.25 MB, and every thing worked just fine. Once the plugin opened the file I got the interface that I have come to expect from Topaz.

On the left, you will see a small preview of the effect from the list effects that you have select from the list below. Once you have selected an effect that you want to work with you can go below that menu and browse the presets available for the chosen lens effect.

In the center of the screen is your work area. You can manipulate the image with two primary options for viewing; The effected image and side by side with the original. As with nearly all the Topaz plug-ins, you can simply left click and hold the mouse button on the image in the work area to see the before and after. I find the side by side option to be difficult to deal with as I am working with even less viewable space and image size; That being said, I prefer work with the full sized, effected image.

On the right hand side of the screen, you will find all the control variables for the given effects that you have selected from the left side of the screen. At a glance, some of these controls do not seem intuitive. For example, the Tilt Shift effect seems a little cumbersome to tweak. Perhaps this is because I am used to adjusting the cams on my lens and seeing the focal plane in comparison to my subject as I am shooting.

While TopazLabs boasts being able to replicate the Diana/Holga lens effect, I have not found a specific preset for this; However I was able to achieve this using 2 different  effects. The snap shot below is my music studio Before and after (just a quick snappy, nothing special). Using the Center Bokeh in combination with a Dark Vingette, I was able to achieve an approximation of the lens distortion that is evident in the plastic lenses of the Diana or Holga cameras.

As with the rest of the plug-ins that are available from Topaz, I think that this is a powerful resource that can assist the photographer in post production. I am thoroughly impressed with this tool and will be using it more often in the not so distant future. Again, May 5th is the expected release date. As a side note. I am in communication with Topaz in regards to hosting a contest; More news to come on that tidbit.

In the mean time, visit TopazLabs and check out their collection of plug-ins.



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Urban Disguise 70 PRO V20 Review

Think Tank Urban-Disguise-70-Pro-V20-1Think Tank Urban Disguise 70 PRO V20:

This bag was sent to me last month and while it seems small, it holds a lot of gear.

While this will never replace my Tamrac for day/week  trips, it is excellent for event and stobist photography or even street photography.

The below noted kit will get me through a day of walking around town looking for trouble. Depending on what I am doing, I may pair down the items in the bag. As an example, for an event, I will not need my IR Modified camera  and two additional lenses; So I will spare my back and cut down on the weight in the bag.

Here is what I have in my Urban Disguise.

  • Canon 500d with battery grip
  • Canon 400d (IR Modified)
  • 24mm Tilt Shift Lens
  • 50mm kit lens
  • 15 mm Fish Eye lens
  • Two Canon 580ex Speedlites
  • Aperture Remote Camera and Flash Trigger system
  • Memory cards and Batteries
  • Note Pad
  • Pens
  • Business cards
  • Model and Property Releases
  • Water Bottle and Energy Bars
  • Three Mini Tripods Camera and strobes

So far, the only thing I don’t like about this bag, thus far, is having to stop and pull out the rain bonnet to cover my bag when and if it begins to rain. The bright side to that is that I am rarely out in severe weather.

All in all I am pretty impressed by this camera bag. For its size, it holds quite a bit of gear and even carries cameras with extended/battery grips (seemingly hard to find feature). The bag seems built well and has good re-enforcement, as well as plenty of padding. So, if you are in need of a good and compact camera bag, I have no problems recommending this one. Adorama has them in stock at a decent price.

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Lighting Studio for Android – Free App!

Screen Shot

Lighting Studio for Droid

Every where I look there is plenty of photography love for the Iphone. I, myself prefer Google Android and own a first generation Motorola Droid. I love the phone and now I love it more. I can now create lighting diagrams while out and about with a free app called Lighting Studio.

Jianzhong Li has written a useful little app that I just started using last night while lying in bed. Lighting Studio allowed me to quickly set up a lighting diagram and save it as a png file. Other options were to share my diagram on my social networks or to send via SMS messaging.

While not every piece of equipment you own may be in the selection menu, there is a good cross section and one can find something comparable for use. I have a feeling that I will be using this app for a good long while, and I am hoping that it will work well with droid tablets.

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