Software Review: Tiffen Dfx 3.0 Suite

Practically Every Digital Filter & Effect Except the Kitchen Sink

Text and Images by Diane Berkenfeld

The Tiffen Company recently released version 3.0 of the company’s Dfx digital filter suite (www.tiffensoftware.com). I had used the first iteration of the plug-in for Apple Aperture a lot when it was first introduced. These days I use Lightroom extensively so I’ve been using the new version with Lightroom 3.

The suite is available as a plug-in for Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop Elements and Photoshop Lightroom, Apple Aperture, and as a stand alone program. One Tiffen Dfx photo plug-in license will allow it to run in all of the aforementioned image editors if installed on the same machine. The company also makes a version of the software for video/film editing using Adobe After Effects or Premier Pro, Apple’s Final Cut Pro 6/7 and with the Avid Editing Systems. One Tiffen Dfx video/film plug-in license will allow it to run in all of the aforementioned video editors if installed on the same machine too. It may not seem like a big deal, but most photographers use more than one piece of software for their imaging needs. Even though I do as much as possible in Lightroom, I still need Photoshop for some tasks. Knowing that I can use the same plug-in with both is convenient. I’m sure the same is true with folks working with video—using After Effects along with one of the video editors mentioned. For those multimedia folks who use Final Cut Pro X, look for a compatible version of Dfx in the future.

before and after image of orange poppies in field by Diane Berkenfeld

(l.) the original image, and (r.) the final image after masking the area around the main subject (the flower in the foreground) and emulating shallow depth of field.

I’ve been impressed with Tiffen’s Dfx software from the time the company launched the very first version, because of the extensive collection of effects and especially filters—digital versions of many of Tiffen’s photographic filters that we used to use so commonly with film cameras. Now with digital we can use software to emulate the effects of many of these filters in post-production, which is a great benefit because it lets you get really creative with your older images as well as those you just took. I love being able to go back to digital images that I shot years ago and tweak them in ways I wasn’t able to at the time the images were shot. The below shot is one that I photographed years ago on Ellis Island and every so often I’ll pull it out to work on it.

Tiffen Dfx 3 examples Ellis Island photos by DIane Berkenfeld

(l. to r.) Original image; Looks, color 8mm; ND Grad 1.2, cross print slide, preserving highlights; DeFog 6.

And, with the additional filters, lab processes, color correction and photographic effects that this new version offers, I’d say Tiffen has packed practically everything except the kitchen sink into Dfx 3. Over 2,000 different optical filters and effects are incorporated into the software. There’s so much that you can do with Dfx 3.0, you could conceivably replace a bunch of separate plug-ins—for B&W conversion, masking, adding lighting effects, adding blur/changing depth of field of an image, color correction, special effects like toning, adding grain, as well as debanding, deblocking, reducing noise, simulation of over a hundred film stocks, adding texture and matching the color, tone and detail of one image and applying it to another.

The DeBand, DeBlock and DeNoise are new, as are the key light and light rays, glow darks, color shadow and more.

That’s a lot of power in one plug-in/stand-alone software title. And what makes this software so unique is that its available in versions for both still images and film/video editing as well. With so many photographers delving into video these days, the familiarity of knowing how to use the plug-in for still images will be beneficial when you start working on video.

And like most plug-ins, you can tweak the strength of the filters. One of the cool things is that you can save filters as favorites, and when you’re looking for filters to use on an image, all of your favorites are in one location.

Diane Berkenfeld photo from Yellowstone park of hot spring in color and black and white

(l.) The original image, a close-up of a hot spring in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming and (r.) the B&W conversion, red filter. No additional tweaking was needed beyond the initial conversion.

There are so many different things that you can do with digital images these days, that sometimes you can find yourself at a loss as to exactly what a particular image might need until you begin to browse within the filters, seeing the effect on the image you’re working on. And I also think that once you use such an extensive program like Dfx, and get more familiar with the many things it can do, the extensive amount of choices becomes less overwhelming.

polarizer before and after image of boy by Diane Berkenfeld

(l.) The original image and (r.) Dfx 3.0's polarizer filter.

I love being able to use one program—stand-alone or plug-in—for a lot of the effects I like to use on my images. It makes your workflow quicker if you don’t have to keep switching from program to program. And with Tiffen’s Dfx plug-in for Lightroom, all I have to do is ‘Edit in’ Dfx 3.0, and I can browse filters to my hearts content. Dfx is very quick when you’re working within it, you see changes instantly on the fly when browsing among the filters and effects. When you’re done working with a filter or effect, rendering is pretty swift too.

Diane Berkenfeld screenshot of image in Tiffen's Dfx 3, masked

Masking is easy within Tiffen's Dfx 3.0 suite.

masked image of birds on rocks in ocean by Diane Berkenfeld

(l.) I had originally finished this image with a border in Lightroom; and then decided to work on it in Dfx 3.0, (r.) here is the image after masking and adding a graduated blue-red filter. I decided to crop the image, which I think makes the foreground stronger.

With regards to masking, Dfx gives you a variety of different ways to create the mask on your image, and a whole host of options for tweaking the properties of the mask once you’ve created it, and a myriad of ways to utilize masking a portion of an image with the thousands of filters and effects that the plug-in offers. Having the ability to create the mask within the plug-in saves valuable time, which may not seem like a lot when you’re working on one photo, but if you’re in the middle of a big editing session, all of that time switching between programs and plug-ins adds up. I also found it helpful that I could tweak the mask as much as I needed to if I didn’t like the way it was coming out—without having to start over.

before and after image of dalmation by Diane Berkenfeld

(l.) the original image, and (r.) the photo after I added highlights on the fireplace heath bricks at the top right. I added light, using a gobo for the mottled look on the bricks.

To find out more about Tiffen’s Dfx v3 software, watch the company’s promo video: http://bit.ly/ndZqgw.

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Product Review: Rogue FlashBenders

By Diane Berkenfeld

rogue flashbenders product shot for picture-soup.com

(l. to r.) small, large, bounce card

Rogue FlashBenders are shapeable light modifiers that are designed for shoe mount flashes. They come in three sizes and fit practically all shoe mount flash units. One of the great things about the FlashBenders is the way they’re made. They hold the shape that you bend them in (hence the name).

I’ve been testing them out for a few months now and they’ve become a vital addition to my camera bag. In fact, quite a few times I’ve been asked, “Just what the hec is that thing on your camera’s flash?” One time I was even told, “You know, an index card and rubber band used to do the trick for me.”

The FlashBenders are made out of Cordura nylon and fasten around the flash units using Velcro; and each one is a single unit, because the Velcro is attached to the main part of the reflector. The white, reflective surface is made of a durable, wipeable, synthetic fabric that is neutral and won’t affect the color temperature of the reflected light.

The different sizes include large, small and the Bounce Card. The large reflector measures 10×11-inches. The small reflector measures 10×7-inches. The Bounce Card is 5×9-inches in size. What makes the FlashBenders hold their shape are the positionable rods that are incorporated inside them, and won’t lose their shape while you’re shooting—three in the large, two in the small, and one in the Bounce Card.

zach for picture-soup.com article on flashbenders

Zach was lit with window light, with the small FlashBender on the camera's flash for fill. Photo © Diane Berkenfeld.

According to the company, the large reflector is perfect for off-camera use, and is ideal for shaping into a snoot. It, along with the others can be used to bounce light or as a flag to keep light off of a subject. When its not shaped into a snoot, the large reflector is meant to be used on a flash that is positioned at a 90 degree angle.

The small reflector can be used as a mini-snoot or to bounce light.

You can use the Bounce Card as a reflector or a flag. It comes with a piece of black fabric that attaches by Velcro if you position it as a flag.

Sure you could take an index card and rubber band and make an impromptu bounce card—and it works—but the FlashBenders work much better. They’re simple to use, much more durable and since the Velcro strap is attached to the reflector, there’s no way you can lose it.

joey playing harmonica photo illustrating flashbenders for picture-soup.com

Joey playing harmonica. The small FlashBender was on the flash atop the camera's hot shoe. You can see the shape of the catchlight in his eyes. Photo © Diane Berkenfeld.

My favorite FlashBender is the small reflector, which is perfect for use on camera, and provides a really nice softened quality of light. To focus the light, I’ll bend the sides inward and if I’m shooting a group of people, I’ll unfold the reflector to provide more of a surface to reflect the light off of.
I used to bounce my on-camera flash a lot but since I’ve gotten the FlashBenders, I’ve found myself using them all the time, for portraits and events—pretty much anytime that I’ve got the flash on the hot shoe, the small reflector is attached. Like I said, it is my favorite.

bouquet of bride's flowers for picture-soup.com article on flashbenders

Photos outside get the FlashBender treatment too. The softened light is much more natural looking and flattering on most subjects. Photo © Diane Berkenfeld.

I haven’t had that much of a chance to use them as a snoot, but am looking forward to shooting still life with them on multiple flash units. I’ll post those photos as an addition to this review.

The Rogue FlashBenders are definitely worth the price. The set of three sell for just over $100. The large, small and bounce card sell for $39.95, $34.95 and $29.95 respectively. For more information, go to www.expoimaging.com.

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Product Review: Tamron 18-270mm Lens

By Diane Berkenfeld

I recently had the opportunity to test out an ultra zoom lens from Tamron, the 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 DI II VC LD Aspherical [IF] Macro lens. The lens is designed for use with DSLRs that utilize the smaller APS-C image sensor, and comes in Nikon and Canon lens mounts. The wide, 15x range of the lens means you can cover a range of view equivalent to that of a 28mm – 419mm zoom. I was using the 18-270mm lens on my Nikon D100 body.

There are some folks who still shun the idea of using third-party lenses, and that might have been true years ago, but the technology has improved to the point where these lenses rival those from the camera makers themselves.

I put the lens through its paces shooting a range of subjects, including a local trip where I drove to the destination and a longer trip that included flying and packing lighter than normal. Having such a long zoom range available in one lens is great because you can travel lighter than if you had to bring multiple lenses with you and change them while shooting, which can also lead to dust on your sensor.

One of the great features of the Tamron 18-270mm lens is that in addition to its zoom range, it offers a 1:3.5 Macro as well. The minimum focusing distance is 19.3-inches throughout the entire zoom range.

A great example of the wide view the lens offers. Resolution is crisp and sharp. Red Rock Canyon, Spring Mountains, Nevada. Photograph © Diane Berkenfeld

Now look at the same image with scale - yellow circles around two groups of people. Red Rock Canyon, Spring Mountains, Nevada. Photograph © Diane Berkenfeld

Lastly, a cropped view of the people, viewed at 100% in Adobe Lightroom. Red Rock Canyon, Spring Mountains, Nevada. Photograph © Diane Berkenfeld

The lens also offers VC – Vibration Compensation, which can be turned on or off, depending upon whether or not you need it. Most image stabilization lenses zap an awful lot of battery power when used constantly, but I found that even with the VC on much of the time I was shooting, the camera’s battery didn’t drain quickly. This is so important, because if you don’t have more than one battery with you while shooting on location or vacation, and you drain the only one you have, that’s it for shooting; you’re now just enjoying the view, not capturing it anymore.

An example of the lens zoomed all the way in to 270mm. (l.) is the original file. (r.) I cropped it and tweaked the exposure for my personal taste. Red Rock Canyon, Spring Mountains, Nevada. Photographs © Diane Berkenfeld

There was only one instance where the subject I was trying to shoot was all one color, with little contrast. Other than that, the lens had no problem focusing the rest of the time. You can also choose to manually focus if need be. I love how sharp the lens is, and how crisp, bright, and easy to view my subjects were when shooting with it. Colors were reproduced faithfully, and images didn’t need to be altered much beyond my personal taste for the look of my final images. The seven diaphragm blades of the lens offer a nice blur or bokeh for out of focus areas of photographs.

The Tamron 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 DI II VC LD Aspherical [IF] Macro lens is a good choice for those photographers who can’t afford faster f/2.8 lenses; or who want only one lens that can extend through the large zoom range. Street price is around $600. For more information, go to www.tamron-usa.com.

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Product Review: Sony SnapLab UP-CR20L Dye-Sub Printer

By Diane Berkenfeld

sony snaplab for picture-soup.com reviewHaving the ability to print photographs on-site for your customers is convenient for them—but it is also a potential revenue source—as you can charge extra for this convenience.

I recently had the opportunity to test out one of Sony’s dye-sub printers and brought it along to an event I photographed. The event was a fundraiser for a charity I have been working with for the past two years. They requested on-site printing, and I was able to provide the solution, courtesy of Sony’s loan of a SnapLab UP-CR20L printer.

The SnapLab UP-CR20L is a workhorse dye-sub printer, able to print up to 6×8-inch prints. In addition to being used by event photographers for on-site printing, the UP-CR20L is also used as a kiosk/printer by photo labs and can be used for in-house printing for prints up to 6×8-inches.

Printer Specs:

  • The SnapLab UP-CR20L is 13 3/8-inches wide x 17 1/2-inches high x 17 7/8-inches deep, and weighs about 50 pounds.
  • The UP-CR20L runs on household 110 voltage. It features a 10.4-inch touch-screen LCD that is used to navigate through the menus.
  • The printer offers slots to accept CompactFlash (including MicroDrive), Secure Digital/MMC and miniSD, Memory Stick (including Pro and Duo format cards), and x-D Picture Card media; as well as a USB port and tray for CD-R/RW/DVD-R/RW disks. The SnapLab can also print directly from computers via USB 2.0. An optional Bluetooth adapter allows for printing directly from Bluetooth enabled devices. There is also an optional wireless adapter that allows the printer to receive images sent wirelessly from cameras that support it.
  • The printer supports JPG, TIFF and BMP files.
  • Printing resolution is 330 DPI.
  • Print sizes include wallets, 3.5×5, 4×6, 5×7, 6×8, index prints and multiple prints on one sheet of paper. Maximum print size is 6×8.
  • Printer modes include Full Mode, Quick Print Mode and Event Mode.
  • Simple image editing options are available including exposure correction, red-eye removal, printing color images in B&W or Sepia, and more.
  • While the printer is idle, promotional images can be displayed.
  • Text can be added to photographs, in a number of font choices, type sizes and colors.
  • Because the printer is used at retail, it can be set with print prices. Once a customer is ready to finalize their order, a password is needed for printing to begin. The printer can also be set to print without a password.
  • The number of prints that can be output from one paper roll/ribbon set depends upon the sizes of the prints being made. For example, you can get 350 6×8 prints out of one paper roll/ribbon. The speed of prints also depends upon the sizes being printed, but ranges between eight and 14.5 seconds each.

In-Use at an Event and as an In-House Printer

The printer is easy to set-up. The first time, I followed the directions, but after I’d done it once, I was able to quickly set-up the printer each time I moved it. The directions specify that paper and ribbon be removed before transporting the printer, so you’ll have to set it up for each event you take it to.

The event I brought the printer to was relatively small, so I was able to be the photographer and take care of the printing too. Depending upon the size of the job you’re shooting, you might want to bring an extra person to take care of the printing duties.

Once set up at the event, I took a couple of images and printed them out to make sure everything was in working order. After guests started arriving I began photographing groups of people. Once about a half-dozen or so images were taken, I swapped out CompactFlash cards and took the “used” card to the SnapLab and began printing. Since I’d originally decided to offer 5×7 prints only, I had brought a paper cutter with me to trim the prints. Each print was then placed in a print folder. On the back of the folders, I put stickers that had the event name, date and my website printed on it. I placed the completed photos in an area for folks to pick up their photos at their leisure.

Had the event been larger that it was, or if I was shooting at a quicker pace, I probably would have waited until I had more portraits shot before stopping to print.

Although the fundraiser had marketed the fact that a photographer would be there, some of the attendees were surprised to find out that images were being printed on-site. And, I can say they were all very pleased with the quality of the prints.

Because the SnapLab was on loan from Sony for review purposes, I didn’t have to worry about the cost of paper/ribbon. The host of the fundraiser and I decided not to charge an additional fee for the prints; but, there are a number of ways you can bring in additional revenue by offering on-site printing.

  1. Charge your client a set fee for the printing services.
  2. Charge your client a per print fee, for the number of prints made during an event.
  3. If your client is running a fundraiser or type of event that would sustain attendees willing to pay an additional fee, you can charge the attendees you photograph a per print fee.
  4. You could also throw in the printing costs for clients who spend above a certain amount of money, say for a wedding or Bar-Mitzvah, or other such event.

As I mentioned earlier, this review was done with a loaner printer, but if I were in the market for an on-site printer, I would find it hard not to consider purchasing the Sony SnapLab UP-CR20L.

Because the dye-sub prints are lab quality, I was comfortable offering them to clients, as I like the quality of dye-sub over inkjet. And because the SnapLab UP-CR20L is used at retail, I know it is a real workhorse unit, and meant to print constantly. It is also rugged, and I would not hesitate to transport it a lot. The printer offers a range of print sizes and offers the capability to load new borders and watermark artwork. So, in effect, you could personalize the printing for each client by creating specific artwork for those prints.

Another option, if you don’t do a lot of event photography/on-site printing, but do often print 4×6 up to 6×8 prints, is to use the UP-CR20L as an in-house small format printer. During the two weeks I spent reviewing the printer, I did a lot of printing, in the range of sizes offered by the printer; and in matte and glossy, which the printer can do with the same paper/ribbon. One of the print jobs I did was for a client who’s family reunion I recently photographed. I needed to print dozens of photos and they were all consistent, from the first of the group to the last.

The Sony SnapLab UP-CR20L is a great printer/kiosk and ideal for event photographers or those who do a lot of in-house small format printing. MSRP is $2,995.

For more information, go to http://pro.sony.com/bbsc/ssr/mkt-digitalphotography/product-UPCR20L/.

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Product Review: Tabelz

By Diane Berkenfeld

tabelz

The Primary Table attached to a tripod, makes a convenient computer table for shooting tethered or just working on the computer in an office or on the go.

Tabelz are a unique item for photographers who shoot tethered on location or in the studio. Tabelz are portable laptop computer stands that come in seven sizes, designed to meet the needs of individual users. The primary Table holds your laptop, and has a non-skid surface that doesn’t allow for it to slide off; a raised lip at the front also ensures your computer will be safe. You just screw it down on your tripod head like you would a camera, or if you use a quick release plate, screw the Primary Table to the plate, slide onto your tripod, and lock it down. If you use a mouse, add on a Side Table, which can be put on either the right or left side, whichever you normally use. The Side Tables slide right into a slot on the underside of the Primary Table, for a secure fit.

What is unique and great about them is that they sit on a tripod. You can purchase a Tabelz from the company by itself or you can purchase one of four Manfrotto tripods that they offer as optional accessories. Or, you can use the Primary Table with your own tripod and head.

When you go to the company’s website, you can search for your laptop to find the correct size Primary Table to match your computer.

Primary Tables start at $59.95 and Side Tables are $19.95 each.

Tabelz in Actual Use

I tested out a Tabelz, and found that they are convenient additions to a photographer’s gear bag in more than one way. Using a Tabelz on-site when shooting tethered is especially helpful—and much better than trying to balance your laptop on a chair at a catering hall (which I’ve seen many photographers do), or dragging a large folding table with you (I’ve also seen this done.) The Tabelz look professional, take up little room, and work well. They’re also good if you shoot tethered in a shooting room or studio, taking up less room than a regular table.

In addition to using them while shooting, Tabelz also make a very convenient laptop stand when you’re just working on images, typing, or blogging. And because the Tables sit on a tripod, you already know you can get it at the perfect height you need, just raise or lower the center column or legs. (I call this working instinctively—you don’t have to figure out how some odd contraption works—because it’s a tripod, likely one that you already own.)

Go to the website www.tabelz.com for more information.

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Hasselblad Announces New Gear at photokina

The 31MP H4D-31 will come bundled with an 80mm lens.

Hasselblad added a new camera and lenses to its line of medium format digital cameras, announcing the new products at photokina, in Cologne, Germany this week.

31MP H4D Series Camera

The H4D-31 joins H4D series models with 50 and 60 megapixel sensors as well as Hasselblad’s multi-shot H4D-50MS. The new model is available in two configurations.

The first is bundled with an 80mm lens and Hasselblad’s Phocus 2.6 software. the other bundle includes the H4D-31, a CF-lens adapter and Phocus 2.6 software. The H4D-31 offers 31MP of resolution, and compatibility with Hasselblad HC/HCD lenses. The CD-lens adapter allows photographers who already own Hasselblad’s V-system camera equipment with a solution for them to utilize their current lenses with the new digital camera.

CFV-50 is a 50MP digital back for Hasselblad V-system cameras.

Digital Back for Hasse V-System Cameras

The CFV-50 is a new 50MP digital back for Hasselblad V-system cameras. Earlier models included the CFV-16 and CFV-39. The new digital back is compatible with virtually all V-cameras including the 202FA, 203FE and 205GCC models.

Lenses

The company also added to its line of HC lenses, with the new HC 50-II, that offers a 35mm-equivalent focal length of 31.4mm; minimum focusing distance of .6 meters; rear focusing mechanism; and aperture range of f/3.5 – f/32.

Also new is the HC Macro 120mm-II, with a 35mm focal length equivalent of 73.5mm; maximum image scale of 1:1; and aperture range of f/4 – f/45.

The HC 50-II Lens.

The HC Macro 120mm-II lens.

Firmware Upgrade for the H4D

Hasselblad also announced a firmware update that will be made available to H4D camera system owners by the end of the year. The update provides new functionality including: a 3D virtual electronic spirit level that will be displayed on the rear LCD for ease in composition; preview capability when shooting tethered; information display on the rear LCD with the push of a button (featuring a new graphic interface); and full support for the Hasselblad Global Image Positioning GPS device to the H4D-60. The GPS device functionality is supported on all other H4D, H3D and H2D cameras.

For more information, go to www.hasselblad.com.

— Diane Berkenfeld

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Lensbaby Unveils Lens Compatible with Micro Four Thirds Cameras

Lensbaby Tilt Transformer

By Diane Berkenfeld

Lensbaby today announced the newest addition to its product line-up, the Composer with Tilt Transformer available immediately for the Panasonic Lumix G Micro System and Olympus PEN digital cameras; and for Sony Alpha NEX cameras in Q4.

The Tilt Transformer will allow photographers to mount any Nikon mount lens onto their Micro Four Thirds or Sony NEX camera and tilt up to twice the amount of standard tilt-shift lenses, delivering photos that have a slice of focus through the image, bordered by a soft blur.

The Tilt Transformer also serves as the foundation for the Composer Focus Front. When used together, they become the Composer with Tilt Transformer, for use on Micro Four Thirds or Sony NEX cameras.

The Lensbaby Focus Front (top) combines with the Tilt Transformer (bottom) to form the Composer with Tilt Transformer.

This provides photographers using these cameras with access to the limitless creativity offered by the Lensbaby Optic Swap system.

The Tilt Transformer’s swivel ball is based on the design of the Lensbaby Composer DSLR camera lens. Tilting a Nikon mount lens on the Tilt Transformer will place the slice of focus in different orientations within the image. Vertical, horizontal, and diagonal slices are possible depending on the direction the lens is tilted. Objects in both the foreground and background can be in focus within that slice. For those photographers who have had experience with large format, tilt-shift lenses are similar to the tilt/shift possible when using a view camera.

For example, a photographer can focus on one person close up in the left portion of the frame while also focusing on someone standing much further away from the camera on the right side of the frame. The ability to focus on several items at once (while blurring out the rest of the image) when each item is placed at a different distance from the camera, is typically possible only with traditional tilt-shift lenses or view cameras. The size of the slice of focus is dependent upon the aperture used.

Because the Lensbaby Tilt Transformer lets you tilt the lens at more of an extreme angle, up to twice as far as a standard tilt-shift lens; which will produce a more extreme angled slice of focus than possible with standard tilt-shift lenses.

A built-in mechanism allows Nikon G lenses to function properly at all apertures. Nikon G lenses do not have an aperture ring on the lens itself. This mechanism allows the aperture to open and close by manually rotating the lens.

The Tilt Transformer with a Nikon lens on camera.

The Composer with Tilt Transformer is compatible with the Lensbaby Optic Swap System and ships with a Double Glass Optic installed. Additional optics can be swapped in and out, providing photographers with a range of creative effects including: Single Glass, Plastic, Pinhole/Zone Plate, and Soft Focus.

I asked Jessica Darrican, PR spokesperson for Lensbaby why the company chose to make the Tilt Transformer compatible with Nikon lenses, She explained that there were a number of reasons that made Nikon lenses ideal for use with the Tilt Transformer and these interchangeable lens digitals. In addition to Nikon’s lenses being known for their high quality, there are plenty of Nikon lenses in the Nikon F-mount available on the used equipment market. Also, the backfocus  distance of Nikon lenses is the longest of all the SLR systems, allowing the most amount of tilt in the Tilt Transformer.

For those Canon shooters wondering why Lensbaby isn’t offering a Canon compatible mount Tilt Transformer, one major reason is that Canon, uses an electronic aperture system, eliminating any possibility of controlling the aperture with the Lensbaby system, limiting photographers to only being able to shoot wide open with a Canon lens.

For more information, go to www.lensbaby.com.

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Nikon Announces D7000 DSLR, Two Lenses & a Speedlight

By Diane Berkenfeld

You know a big trade show is close when every day brings announcements from another camera maker about their latest new innovations. With photokina just a week away, Nikon today announced the D7000 DSLR, two prime lenses and a Speedlight. The D7000 is positioned above the D3000 and below the D90—both cameras will remain in Nikon’s product line.

Nikon D7000 DSLR

The Nikon D7000 with optional vertical grip attached.

The D7000 uses a newly designed 16.2MP CMOS sensor (APS-C size) and EXPEED 2 TM image processing engine, with 14-bit A/D conversion, along with both a new metering system and new AF system.

The company describes the metering system as “groundbreaking”—it is a 2,016 pixel RGB 3D Matrix Metering System. Another Nikon first, this system interprets scene data for improved control of light metering and i-TTL flash output. Additionally there is now a new Ambient white balance setting which gives images a warm rendering in Automatic White Balance.

The 39-point AF system includes nine center cross-type sensors that operate with more than 60 Nikkor lenses. The system is designed to acquire the autofocus of the subject faster and track it better. Additionally, photographers can activate dynamic or single point AF, configurable in varying combinations of AF points to match a variety of shooting situations. Photographers can also activate 3D tracking, which continuously follows moving subjects within the 39 AF points.

The D7000 can capture full 1080p HD video, with full-time autofocus, giving photographers the ability to produce sharp movie footage without having to manually focus during capture. Photographers also now have manual exposure control while shooting video. The camera can even track up to 35 faces for critical HD focus. Frame rates include 24 fps at 1080p, or 720p recording at either 24 or 30 fps for up to 20 minutes a clip. And, video clips can be trimmed and edited in-camera to save post-production time.

The camera utilizes dual SD media card slots.

Exciting new features of the D7000 include the ability to process RAW images in-camera, and add special effects via the retouch menu. The ISO range of the camera is 100 – 6400, expandable up to 25,600. The camera has the ability to shoot six fps for a burst of 100 images. Other features include a dual SD media card slot, compatible with SD, SDHC, and SDXC cards; a built-in iTTL Speedlight and wireless commander support; a 3-inch LCD, Live View, and a brand new battery designed to offer more shooting on a full charge.

Nikon’s D7000 is durable; the body is built from magnesium-alloy and incorporates a 150,000 cycle-rated shutter system. Additionally, the DSLR is dust and moisture sealed and features Nikon’s dust reduction system. A new Mode Dial eschews traditional Scene Mode icons for more advanced manual functions and two user-defined settings. Placed under the control wheel is a Release Mode dial, which allows access to the burst modes, timer, and Quiet Shutter.

While the D7000 is priced at the enthusiast level, we definitely see pros using this camera, and can only assume that some of the groundbreaking new technologies incorporated into the D7000 will be making their way into new pro level models soon!

AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G lens

The D7000 DSLR is scheduled for mid-October delivery with an MSRP of $1,199.95 for the body only and $1,499.95 for body/lens kit including the AF-S DX Zoom-NIKKOR 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR lens.

Two  Nikkor Prime Lenses

Nikon also announced the AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G and AF-S Nikkor 200mm f/2 ED VR II professional lenses.

Both are fast prime lenses, featuring Nikon’s famous glass, and hefty price tags. The fast apertures of both lenses make them ideal for low-light shooting and movie capture.

The 35mm lens can be used on Nikon DSLRs with both the full-frame FX format image sensors as well as the smaller DX format sensors, such as the brand new D7000. When used on a camera with a DX sensor or on an FX format camera in DX Crop Mode, the lens has an effective focal length of 52.5mm.

AF-S NIKKOR 200mm f/2G ED VR II lens

The AF-S NIKKOR 200mm f/2G ED VR II, like its 200mm f/2 predecessor, is incredibly fast. The VR system provides up to four stops of correction. Because the lens uses an Internal Focusing (IF) system, the lens barrel doesn’t extend when focusing. There are three focus modes on this lens, the conventional M/A and M modes, and an A/M mode. The lens also features a Tripod Detection Mode, which automatically compensates for minute vibrations when mounted on a tripod and allows users to keep VR image stabilization on and active.

The AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4G lens will be available in mid-November with an MSRP of $1,799.95. The AF-S NIKKOR 200mm f/2G ED VR II will be available early October for an MSRP of $5,999.95.

SB-700 Speedlight

Today, Nikon also introduced the SB-700 Speedlight, designed for a range of photographers. The flash incorporates a wide zoom range and FX/DX-format identification system that optimizes the flash based on the camera body used. The SB-700 can be used as an on-camera flash or wireless flash (set up as a Commander or a Remote) for use in multiple flash set-ups. An improved user interface includes a large easy-to-read LCD panel. The flash can recycle in approximately 2.5 seconds for full power with NiMH batteries and 3 seconds with AA Alkaline batteries.

SB-700 Speedlight

For improved durability, heat-resistance and ease-of-use, the SB-700 uses new hard plastic-type color filters for fluorescent or incandescent color temperature balancing. When using the supplied filters, the flash automatically recognizes which filter is being used and adjusts white balance accordingly on select Nikon DSLRs.

Similar to the Nikon SB-900 Speedlight, three illumination patterns (standard, center-weighted and even) can be selected in SB-700 to match each shooting situation. And, like the SB-900, when the SB-700 is mounted on a camera compatible with user firmware updates, the SB-700 firmware can be updated using the same procedure as with a Nikon DSLR camera.

To enhance the weatherproof capability of the flash/camera, optional water guards will be available for select cameras to protect the connection between the flash and camera.

The Nikon SB-700 Speedlight is scheduled to be available in mid-November 2010, and will have an MSRP of $329.95. The SB-700 comes bundled with the Speedlight Stand, Bounce Adapter, Color Filter Holder, Intelligent Color Filter Kit, Diffuser Dome and soft case.

For more information, go to www.nikonusa.com.

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Olympus Introduces Flagship E-5 DSLR

Today Olympus announced the E-5, the new flagship E series DSLR. The camera uses a 12.3MP High-Speed Live MOS Sensor with Olympus’ proprietary TruePic V+ image processing engine for crisp images that display greater detail than previously available. The E-5 also incorporates the capability to shoot 720p HD video, at 30 frames per second.

Other features of the camera include a 3-inch, 270 degree swivel LCD for flexibility when shooting isn’t straight on, and 10 creative in-camera Art Filters that can be applied to both still and video.

The art filters are an example of features that first appeared on enthusiast level DSLRs and have migrated to the pro level. The Art Filters can be used in all shooting modes. ISO range is 100 to 6400, and the top shutter speed is 1/8000 of a second. The camera can capture up to four multiple exposures to be combined in either real time or in the camera at a later time.

The E-5 employs an in-body Mechanical Image Stabilization system to compensate for camera movement, up to 5 EV steps. Now the full line of compatible Olympus Zuiko Digital lenses become image stabilized.

The new Dramatic Tone art filter represents real space in a more imaginary way by applying unrealistic tones of light and darkness based on local changes in contrast. This new filter joins the Pop Art, Soft Focus, Pale & Light Color, Light Tone, Grainy Film, Pin Hole, Diorama, Cross Process and Gentle Sepia filters previously available on the E-30, E-620 and PEN series cameras.

Rear of the E-5 with optional vertical grip attached.

Like its predecessor, the E-3, the E-5 is completely splashproof and dustproof. The camera also uses a built-in Dust Reduction System with a Supersonic Wave Filter. The shutter is expected to withstand 150,000 exposures.

The Olympus E-5 is compatible with a range of external flashes and can wirelessly control both the Olympus FL-36R and FL-50R flashes with its commander function incorporated into its built-in flash.

The E-5 has a built-in microphone and also features a microphone jack so you can use external microphones for even greater quality audio capture while recording video.  The E-5 can accept both CompactFlash Type I UDMA and SD (SDHC/SDXC) media cards.

Olympus is scheduled to ship the E-5 DSLR in October. Street pricing for the E-5 body is $1,699.99.

For more information, go to: www.olympusamerica.com.

— Diane Berkenfeld

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New Camera Gear from Pentax

Pentax today announced a new DSLR camera, lens and two P&S cameras, one of which we’ll be discussing later. Now onto the DSLR body and interchangeable lens.

K-r DSLR

New on the DSLR front is the Pentax K-r DSLR offering a wide range of automatic and manual features sure to appeal to most DSLR shooters. This 12.4MP camera is being offered in three colors: traditional black, classic white and Pentax red.

The K-r is the newest DSLR introduced by Pentax. It will be available in black, white and red.

Features of the K-r include a large 3-inch LCD, widescreen HD video capture (720p HD video at 25fps), maximum 1/6000 of a second shutter speed, large ISO range of 100 – 25600, and 6 fps framerate that can capture 25 images in a single sequence. Other features of the camera include a viewfinder focus point indicator, improved in-camera HDR mode including a Night Scene HDR mode, and improved noise performance.

Pentax offers two options to power the camera: a rechargeable lithium-ion battery or four AA-size batteries which means that if you’ve forgotten your charger or suddenly find yourself with a dead battery on vacation, you will be able to power the camera with four AA batteries using the optional AA Battery Holder (D-BH109).

The K-r also features infrared data transfer compatible with the IrSimple high-speed IR data transmission system for transfer to the web or other IrSimple-compatible devices. The K-r DSLR is packed with features. The K-r utilizes Pentax’s own shake reduction mechanism and dust removal mechanism.

The new smc Pentax DA 35mm f/2.4 AL lens.

Creative types will love the addition of a wide-range of in-camera image processing and special effects filters. These include custom image functions, digital filters and cross processing modes. The camera ships with the Pentax Digital Camera Utility 4 software package that includes a RAW processor.

Pentax will be shipping the K-r in October. MSRP for the K-r body is $799.95, MSRP for the K-r with the 18-55mm lens kit is $849.95, MSRP for the K-r double lens kit including the 18-55mm lens and 50-200mm lens is $899.95, and the MSRP for the K-r double lens kit with the 18-55mm lens and 55-300mm lens is $999.95.

35mm Lens

Pentax also announced the smc Pentax DA 35mm f/2.4 AL standard lens. The lens has a minimum focusing distance of 0.3 meters. The new 35mm lens is also expected to ship in October with an MSRP of $219.95.

Optio RS1000

Although we usually feature DSLRs here on the Picture-soup.com blog we wanted to mention the new 14MP Pentax Optio RS1000 P&S camera.

The Pentax Optio RS1000 on the left and some of the included skins on the right (note, skins are not to scale).

This compact P&S model is unique in that it comes with 11 different skins that allow users to customize the camera to their own personality. In addition to the included skins, Pentax is also including a Skinit gift card so users can order a high quality, pre-cut 3M vinyl skin from www.skinit.com. Other ways to personalize these compact cameras include using the included stencil on printed photos or other unique printed pieces to use as skins; or download the Pentax personal skin designer software that lets you import a photo and save the skin as a PDF for printing.

For more information, go to www.pentaximaging.com.

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