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New gear announcements – Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III, new Canon pro lenses and the Photonicz One – an amazingly powerful and versatile portable studio type LED flash which may revolutionize lighting

Friday, September 1st, 2017

Well it’s been a big week in photography!

Canon announced  4 new very expensive pro lenses which are essentially redesigns with some extra features (eg. macro for the tilt-shift and IS for the 85mm) and, importantly, improved optics to allow for the new high resolution full frame dSLRs as well as a budget mirrorless camera and a revised twin macro flash:

Yesterday, Olympus announced their upgrade to the entry level Micro Four Thirds mirrorless Olympus OM-D E-M10 now in mark III which adds some nice features including better IS, simpler operations and perhaps importantly for some, 4K video.

There are also strong rumours Olympus will also soon announce 3 new PRO level weathersealed prime lens – 12mm f/1.2, 17mm f/1.2 and 45mm f/1.2 and a zoom lens.

Some people still gripe that Olympus has still not added radio wireless TTL flash capability, but if you have been reading my blog posts, this technology is no longer necessary built into the camera system as 3rd party manufacturers such as Cactus and Godox have created far more versatile cross-platform radio remote TTL flash solutions.

Panasonic also announced their promised v2 firmware upgrade for their flag ship Panasonic GH-5 Micro Four Thirds camera which adds some incredible video capabilities such as Professional 400Mbit ALL-I intraframe codec for 10bit 4K 4:2:2 which is said to be incredibly cinematic, with flawless image quality and colour, and “Open Gate” High Resolution Anamorphic Mode (4992 x 3744) which uses the entire sensor with a recording resolution of 18MP instead of the usual 8MP of 4K Ultra HD and thus allows 10K footage in post when used with a 2x anamorphic lens, plus Hybrid Log Gamma and some AF improvements and bug fixes. This should make videographers salivate!

The PHOTONICZ ONE portable studio light

But now onto something which on paper looks to be a truly revolutionary development in photographic lighting solutions – the just announced PHOTONICZ ONE battery operated LED studio light with an industry standard Bowens S mount for lighting accessories and touch screen interface as well as a remote smartphone control interface.

Why is this so revolutionary?

Up until now all studio flash systems of similar designs use flash bulbs and require capacitors to be charged up before firing hence they have a recycle time, and the flash duration is generally dependent upon the flash output power setting for a given unit.

The PHOTONICZ ONE however does away with a flash bulb and instead uses an incredibly powerful LED light source capable of 2500Ws power output (the powerful Godox AD600 only gives 600Ws, although you can combine two to get to 1200Ws). The light color should be accurate as it is stated to have light color rendering index of 95+ across the entire power output range. Of course,  it’s firmware can be updated via  USB port.

But wait, there is MUCH MORE REVOLUTION promised such as:

  • weathersealed (no bulb makes it easier to weatherseal) made using aircraft grade aluminum
  • more compact
    • only 12.5 x 12 x 9 cm for the main body (or 4.9 x  4.7 x 3.5 inches) and 1.5 kg / 3.3 lbs
  • can deliver thousands of full power flashes on a single battery charge (uses V-Lock battery system which can also power other accessories)
  • wirelessly sync to your camera from up to a kilometer away (requires a brand-specific remote trigger RRP $US299 each or $US150ea during Kickstarter campaign)
  • InstaCharge – Zero recycle time
    • from my recent tests, the Godox AD600 needs to drop to 1/32nd output to keep up with a 15fps burst from my Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, this new light can do this at FULL OUTPUT – THAT IS REVOLUTIONARY INDEED!
  • Extremely short flash duration down to 1/50,000th sec!
    • this will be amazing for those shooting fast moving subjects such as bullets bursting balloons, etc
    • the Godox AD600 will only get to around 1/10000th sec (at 1/256th output) and some AC-powered Godox studio lights can get down to 1/28,000th sec.
  • TrueSync – Native camera compatibility
    • the brand-specific remote transmitters will adjust the flash duration dynamically to the needs of your camera system, enabling communication with most Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax, Fuji, Panasonic, Olympus, Hasselblad, and PhaseOne cameras.
  • HSSPro – Next Gen High Speed Sync
    • perfectly sync with the camera’s shutter at up to 1/32,000th of a second (not sure what this means as most brand cameras with electronic shutters to these speeds do not allow flash sync at this speeds – but maybe this is coming with global shutters)
  • TruTTL – Actual TTL metering
    • once upon a time, back in the 1970′s, Olympus introduced an amazing flash TTL system that was true TTL DURING the exposure – the Olympus OM-2 film SLR was truly revolutionary, but then, along came digital sensors and that system could no longer be used, and ever since we have had to put up with annoying pre-flashes so the camera system could calculate how much output the flash should send.
    • BUT NOW, we are back to the good old days – NO PRE-FLASH for TTL! I am not sure how this works but that is the promise!
  • TrueBracket – Flash bracket multiple exposures
    • allows shooters to bracket exposure with the strobe output rather than shutter speed, aperture, or ISO alone, which means no lag between exposures for crisp HDRs and much reduced post processing for images where you combine multiple bracketing approaches.
  • VariSpeed – Variable flash output
    • VariSpeed can extend the flash duration, effectively contributing more artificial light to your exposure (remember, after all we are using LED which can be a continuous light source). This effectively raises the output equivalent to levels impossible to achieve with traditional technology.
  • VariShape & VariPattern
    • customize light shape and emission patterns – not sure how useful this is from a small light source but who knows?
  • No more blown or broken flash bulbs!

If what they say is true and it works out, then this technology could radically change the lighting industry as we know it!

This is an exciting possibility for location photographers and for high-speed photographers wanting super short flash duration.

See their Kickstarter campaign for more details. Early bird gets you one unit with V-Lock power supply (but no battery) for $US749 plus add $US150 for each transmitter you need.

14.4V V-Lock lithium ion batteries will cost you around $AU 330-425 depending upon capacity.

Merry Xmas all – it’s the silly season – here’s how to really capture your work Xmas party with a simple photo booth

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

Most of us have a Christmas work party where everyone gets to dress up and have fun and really get into the team spirit.

You can value add to this is an enormous way by creating great quality photos and leave them to their own creative devices.

Add a few props for them to play with and you will get some fantastic shots they will all love – although I did end up with well over 300 shots which I had to edit – but I loved them all as they were so natural looking with fantastic expressions which really showed how much they all enjoyed the opportunity to be creative – knowing that they will look great unlike typical indoor iPhone snaps!

And there were none of those helicopter-style selfies!

None of these have had any significant PS work on the skin, just some cropping, cloning of creases in the backdrop, and some tonal adjustments and some have a little increased clarity added.













Now for the set up:

A couple of sheets as backdrops – would have been better with a white wall to save cloning out the creases in every shot – a clean background really makes a big difference in the aesthetics!

A flash to light the backdrop – I had intended to use 2 x Metx 45 CL-4 flash units triggered by optical sensor, however, one of the PC cords failed me so I had to be happy with one on full output with a diffuser attached. The light from the flash had to be shielded so it did not directly hit subjects causing blown highlights.

A main light – here I used a studio flash with a soft box on a light stand to provide some soft semi-directional light so that it didn’t matter too much where the subjects were facing as that was always going to be next to impossible to control!

A fill-in light at 1 stop less exposure than the main light – to avoid secondary shadows from a fill-in, I decided to bounce a studio light off the rear wall – the main downside to this is that the photographer is visible in the reflections of glasses – but that is a reasonable compromise.

The result is lovely soft semi-directional light on their faces with catchlights in their eyes and no nasty secondary shadows. nor nasty flash reflections from glasses.

The camera was irrelevant – as long as you can trigger the studio flash with PC sync cord or a radio remote trigger, and you have a suitable lens you are going to be fine.

I forgot to bring a zoom lens for my Olympus OM-D E-M5 (the Olympus mZD 12-40mm f/2.8 would have been perfect) so I decided to resort to my Canon 1D Mark III with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L lens hand held and set on manual exposure mode to f/5.6 at ISO 320.

A zoom lens proved to be critical instead of my primes as there was no time to constantly change lenses to accommodate varying numbers of subjects from 1 to 12 at a time!

White balance was set to Sunny, but as I shot in RAW, I adjusted the white balance in Lightroom according to a test target I photographed.

And there you have it – fairly easy portrait lighting for some fun portraiture.

Mounting strobes to studio lighting accessories

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

Finally there are a couple of new products designed for the strobists who which to use their speedlights or flashes and mount them to studio lighting accessories such as beauty dishes, softboxes, etc.

The Interfit Strobies XS is designed to allow one or two strobes to mount a Interfit or Bowens ‘S mount’ lighting accessory whilst allowing a hot shoe for a radio trigger to be mounted.

Interfit Strobies XS

The Westcott Magic Slipper adapter allows one flash and one radio trigger to mount to Westcott studio lighting accessories.

Westcott Magic Slipper

The main problem with these solutions is that, to give a similar quality of light output as a studio light, you really need to place a diffuser over the strobe (such as a Stofen), and this will significantly reduce the light output. Furthermore, perhaps more importantly, the loss of modeling light capability that a studio light offers can be a serious impediment to accurate portrait lighting.

Another potential issue is whether or not they will allow the new style of TTL-capable radio triggers to be mounted such as the Pocket Wizard FlexTT5 and RadioPopper PX.

If you can afford it, a portable studio light with power pack will usually be a better option.

Lastly, if the recession is hitting you, you can resort to a DIY version using bungee cables such as here.