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Archive for the ‘Field Test’ Category

Old School Meets New School

Feb 18

In Field Test, Fun, Gear at 7:33am


Photographers. We always like new stuff, right? The newest, the fastest, the sharpest! You know the drill. I’m right there with the madding horde as well. We walk around the photo shows, hoping to resist, trying to be Odysseus tied to the mast, and thus prevented from making the mad, desperate leap to the rocky, deadly expensive shores known as “new gear.” But, sometimes, we just can’t, or don’t, resist. My garage is filled with things I had to have, things that would make my life easier, things that were just bound to work so much better and on such a scale that well, expectations were high, to say the least. I’ve done it so many times, that my sense of disappointment as I trundle yet another piece of savior technology out to the trash bin of my feverish hopes is actually somewhat dulled.

Sometimes, of course, the new stuff works. Hot off the presses gear, especially now, with the pace of innovation in these digital times, can be a blessing. And, it is advisable to keep up, at least on some hopefully measured, selective level.

But, there is reassurance in working with the old, and the used. The been-there-done-that gear that you keep hanging around the shop, waiting for an excuse to trot it out for the rare excursion. For me, being a lifetime Nikon shooter, there is huge reassurance in the resonant click of a lens with an F mount bayoneting onto the camera. Been hearing the same definitive click since 1973. Hearing the same click, ’cause it’s the same mount. All my old glass works, even my 500mm f8 mirror lens, a catadioptric beast I’ve always referred to as fat boy. It’s a chunky piece of glass.


It’s also sharp as a tack, though historically a bitch to follow focus with. Real narrow DOF, but the resplendent thing about the lens is what happens when the field of view falls out of DOF. The background goes into these wonderfully repetitive little donuts. Especially fun to play with city lights with this lens, say of the type you find in Vegas.


Here’s the cool thing. You put this ancient piece of revered glass onto a D810, and the aperture priority works. You are fixed at f8, and the shutter speed slides around accordingly. The focus confirm works, as well, which is wonderful news for my eyes, straining through this baby at night, no less. And TTL works like a charm. Which is something I get a kick out of, as the lens is easily 25 years old and the camera less than a year. These were shot with an SB910 fitted with an Ezybox Hotshoe soft box as the up front light, and a hand held second Speedlight, red gelled for background. You can tell it’s gelled red as it’s the light flaring my lens:-))) The soft box is perched atop a paint pole fitted with a Kacey Pole Adapter.

Moved fast and had fun out there. Our wonderfully feathered subject, dancer Charlotte O’Dowd, was a trouper, out there in the Vegas night in January. Shot a few with updated glass as well. The below I knocked out with a 200-400mm f4, which is my go to long glass. Sharp, hand holdable on most occasions, except here, at night, I went with the tripod. Also caught some flare on this, from a headlight this time (I swear!) and it turned out to be a favorite of the night.

_JM43871 copy 2


So, old school—  500mm f8 (fixed) Nikkor Catadioptric telephoto. (Go see Efraim at Adorama. He sold me mine, used of course, for something like $300-400 bucks.

New school—  Nikon D810, 200-400mm f4, SB910, Ezybox HotShoe Soft Box.

Nothing like the click of an F mount.

More tk….


Profoto B1’s in the Studio

Sep 12

In Equipment, Field Test at 9:42am

After PhotoShop World, I stayed in Vegas, which is home base for amazing athletes and performers, such as Manu, above. I did more experimentation with the Profoto B1 units, and made some more strides with the Nikon TTL version of the air remote. I’ll post more material in the next couple of weeks, but the B1 itself has been a wonderful light to play with. I know they are principally designed for location, but we took them into the studio and experimented in a very controlled way. Really enjoying the control of these lights, and the design. Battery life is excellent, and the air remotes are bang on dependable. Lots of room to move with these.

Have a great weekend everyone! More tk….



Profoto B1–Nikon TTL: Field Test

Aug 18

In Field Test at 7:31am

I recently was fortunate enough to be allowed to play with a beta version of the Profoto Air Remote TTL-N units. That means, in short, the Nikon version of controllers for the already renowned Profoto B1 units. The Canon models have been out for a while, and now the remote for Nikon hits the market on Sept. 15. Hit this link for the complete skinny and specsRead the rest of this entry »

Field Test- The ioSafe Rugged Portable Hard Drive

Sep 20

In Computer Technology, Equipment, Field Test, Videos at 7:19am

Hey guys, Drew here.  ioSafe recently approached us about testing out a a couple of their Ultra-Rugged Portrable Hard Drives, so we thought we’d give them a bit of a workout…

These guys boast some pretty impressive stats (see their site for the full scoop):

  • crush resistant to 2,500/5,000 lbs. (depending on model)
  • fully suspended to withstand drops of 10 ft.
  • waterproof to 10 ft., in fresh or salt water, for up to 3 days

If you search around a bit, you’ll find videos of people showering with them, handing a drive and a hammer to a toddler, and even shooting one with a shotgun…all of which it survived.

We can only hope that our drives won’t ever have to deal with that, but we definitely run our drives through the mill more than most.  Already this year, we’ve logged about 150,000 miles on Delta alone, and between Joe and I, we usually have about 6TB of drives with us.

For several years, we were using a bunch of LaCie Rugged’s, but found that the firewire ports were prone to burnout, and we’ve had several crash on us over time (as can and will likely happen with any drive).  The thought of them being “rugged” was appealing, but they didn’t really live up to their name, and felt like we always had to baby them.

Enter the “Ultra” Rugged drives from ioSafe.  We’ve been trekking around the world with six of these guys (1TB units), and after 5 months of abuse, I think we can give them a solid thumbs up.  We’ve happily ditched our LaCie’s, made these ioSafe drives our primary on-the-road storage, and so far, it’s been smooth sailing.

Here’s what we like about them:

– Right out of the box, they come with one year of data recovery service (up to $5,000), which starts as soon as you enter an activation code on their site.  You also have the opportunity to upgrade that to three or five years.  That’s some peace of mind, before you even take the drive into the field.

– The build is impressive.  They’re definitely heavier than our old drives, but the all-metal construction is solid, and we don’t feel the need to be extremely delicate with them, as we do with other drives (as clearly seen in the video up top).

Note from Joe….. Drew and Cali had a great time messing with this drive. I kept coming up with cheeseball blog titles like “Taking a Drive for a Drive,”or other nonsense, but they wisely overruled me. And, at the end of the video, that’s not me screaming. It’s my crazy uncle who does our archiving. More tk…