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Sigma Introduces Electronic Flash EF-630 Multifunctional External Flash

February 23, 2016 Comments off

Sigma EF-630 Flash UnitKANAGAWA, JAPAN — February 23, 2016Sigma Corporation of America, a leading DSLR lens, camera, flash and accessories manufacturer, has just announced the Sigma Electronic Flash EF-630, a multifunctional flash designed to work with current digital SLR cameras. Offering greater output of light, the EF-630 features TTL exposure control, high-speed sync, wireless flash functions, auto-zoom and bounce-flash, amongst additional features that make it ideal for many types of photography.

“Lighting is one of the most important factors when it comes to creating a beautiful image, and can be the difference between capturing the perfect moment and missing it entirely,” comments Mark Amir-Hamzeh, president of Sigma Corporation of America. “The EF-630 has all the features advanced photographers look for in a flash and is the perfect companion to the DSLR.”

The Sigma EF-630 flash automatically adjusts for focal lengths of 24mm to 200mm focal length, making it ideal for wide angle and super-zoomed shots alike. For ultra-wide angle shots, photographers can utilize the built-in Wide Panel to cover an angle of up to that of a 17mm lens.

Compatible with most well-known digital SLR cameras, the EF-630 features auto TTL exposure control, as well as remote control operation through the TTL wireless flash function, where the camera lens calculates the correct exposure automatically for perfect lighting. For multi-flash setups, photographers can use the Slave Flash Function to trigger additional flashes. To achieve a softer look, photographers can bounce light off of a white wall, ceiling or reflector by tilting the EF-630’s flash head upwards by as much as 90°, or swiveling left or right by 180°. For close-up shots, the flash head can also be titled down by 7°.

The FP Flash function of the EF-630 makes flash photography possible at shutter speeds greater than the normal sync speed, which is typically limited at shutter speeds up to 1/250 second for most cameras. The FP Flash function for high shutter speeds is necessary when setting a larger aperture to limit depth of field when shooting in daylight, as high shutter speeds are used to balance the daylight and the flashlight at any shutter speed. To capture natural motions, the Rear-curtain Sync mode allows the flash to be triggered immediately before the rear-curtain of the shutter closes, recording blurred trails behind a moving subject rather than in front.

Additional EF-630 features:

  • Intuitive user interface: dot matrix LCD screen for improved menu visibility, D-Pad and dial settings controls, and easy one-click disengage function improve ease of use
  • Modeling flash function: check for intense reflections and shadows before capturing the shot
  • AF assist light: accurate auto-focus in low light conditions
  • Auto Power-off: flashgun automatically powers off after a period of non-operation to conserve battery life
  • Manual flash power level control: manually sets the flash power level from 1/1 to 1/128

The new EF-630 Flash can be updated with the latest software from a workstation or laptop using the Sigma Optimization Pro software and Flash USB Dock (sold separately).

About Sigma Corporation
Since 1961, Sigma has worked toward a single, simple goal: To imagine and develop photographic technologies that push the envelope, empower photographers and produce unparalleled imagery. We’ve honored this commitment by maintaining control of our design, research and development, and manufacturing processes in our own Aizu Factory. Our products are built with premium materials and are known worldwide for quality and performance. Our family-owned organization is the largest, independent SLR lens manufacturer in the world, producing more than 45 lenses that are compatible with most manufacturers, including Sigma, Canon, Sony, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic and Pentax. Sigma Corporation also produces digital SLR cameras and high-definition digital compact cameras. The company is headquartered in Japan, with offices strategically located throughout Europe, Asia and North America. Photography is all we do, and it’s all we’ve ever done.

For information about Sigma, please visit www.sigmaphoto.com or follow the company on Twitter,Instagram and Facebook.

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Using the FlashPoint 180WS StreakLight (Review)

April 2, 2015 Comments off

Flashoint 180WS StreakLight with Flashpoint Blast Pack

Flashpoint 180WS Streak Light
Adorama
$299.95*

Flashpoint Blast Power Pack BP-960
$249.95*

*Bundles available at significant discounts.

If you’re a professional photographer, you need great lighting. You tell stories with light, but you can’t always have the perfect natural light that you want when you want it. You have to use continuous or flash lighting. For flash lighting, there are a lot of options. However, for those field trips, you need something powerful, rugged, portable, and long-lasting. That’s where the pack narrows down to the leaders. Among the clear winners is the FlashPoint 180WS Streak Light (180WS).

[The 180WS stands for 180 Watt-Second — a standard measure of flash power]

The 180WS has to have a power source, such as the pictured Flashpoint rechargeable Blast Power Pack BP-960 (sold separately).

  • Powerful 180ws Guide Number 197 (ft ISO 100) with standard reflector
  • Super Soft and Even Light from Replaceable Bare Bulb
  • Stable Color Temperature
  • Fast Recycle Times from with Flashpoint BLAST POWER PACK or Quantum Turbo
  • Precise output from 1/128 to Full in 1/3 stop increments
  • Four Modes : Pure Manual [M], Slave Normal [S1], Slave Filtered [S2], Multi/Stroboscopic with calculator [RPT]
  • Auto Focus Assist Beam
  • Switchable Audio Recycle
  • Built in Optical Slave
  • Wireless Remote Control USB Port
  • 2 Sync Jacks PC & 3.5mm
  • Overheat Protection Circuitry
  • Vertical and Horizontal Head Adjustments
  • Umbrella Mount Adapter
  • Tough Secured Hot shoe Mount
  • Full Line of Optional Light Modifiers from Snoots to Beauty Dishes

Flashpoint StreakLight 180WS Rear ViewThe 180WS is a powerful flash unit, but it can also be “dialed back” to a mere 1/128 full power to give you just enough light to fill in those subtle shadows, even in bright sunlight.

Why it’s Frugal: The 180WS and Blast Power Pack are true professional tools at an extremely good price ($349.95 for the 180WS/BP-960 bundle). The 180WS Creative Collection is also a value at $549.92. This professional lighting model and power pack are frugal because they offer fully adjustable, immediate flash lighting at a very affordable price point. It would be a challenge to find the power and the features of this combination anywhere at twice the price.

The 180WS is easy to setup and to use from a tabletop standalone, to tripod mount, to on-camera hot shoe mount. It is surprisingly lightweight and not bulky nor clumsy to use. The handy belt clip on the Blast Power Pack is a nice feature, although you can also use the lanyard to hang it around your neck.

The 180WS is so powerful and so versatile that my videographer and I use it off-camera, mounted on a tripod using a wireless remote shutter to fire it. We have used it for more than 300 shots on all power settings, in a variety of situations, without ever having to recharge the Blast Power Pack. It never failed us nor did it ever hesitate to fire on demand.

Flashpoint StreakLight 180WS Specifications:

  • Strobe Output – 180 watt seconds
  • Guide Number – 60m/196ft for ISO 100
  • Power Supply – External Lithium Battery and compatibles*
  • Recycle Time – 0.05 – 2.6 seconds
  • Flash Duration – 1/300 – 1/10,000 sec
  • Recycle Indication – Ready Light and Switchable Audio
  • Light Coverage – Approximately 65 Degrees / 28mm coverage on 35mm full frame format
  • Vertical Angle – -15 to 90 degrees
  • Horizontal Rotation – 0 to 270 degrees
  • Slave Eye Sensitivity – Greater than 33 feet / 160 degree radius
  • Color Temperature – 5600K +/-200K
  • Housing Size – 8 X 3.55 X 2.75 in
  • Body Weight – 19.4 oz /1.50 lbs

The unit gives you the characteristic flash “beep” when the unit is ready to fire again. There was never any hesitation during any of our shoots. It consistently recharged immediately. Fire. Beep. Fire. Beep. Fire. Beep. In fact, the 180WS responded so well to our demands, I think we’re spoiled in never having to wait for a flash unit to power up again.

And I love the ability to adjust the power from 1/128 in 1/3 stop increments because it’s easier to bracket your shots. It’s great to get just enough light without blowing out the subject or the background when using it for bounced lighting.

The 180WS comes with a parabolic reflector and a set of two diffusers to further soften the light source, although the bare bulb delivers an even light coverage for objects that are as few as five or six feet away.

The flash head adjusts from horizontal to vertical and locks into place. The parabolic reflector also locks into place so that there’s no chance of it falling during movement if you have it camera-mounted. The head also rotates 270-degrees so that you can aim the flash to create any kind of special effect or bounce reflection that you want. You can also purchase an umbrella reflector setup for the 180WS so that you don’t have to have a separate umbrella light unit.

I really like working with the 180WS and the Blast Power Pack. It’s impossible for either of us to work with standard on-camera flash anymore after this experience. The 180WS is so versatile, usable, rugged, and powerful that every professional should carry one in his or her gig bag. Both units are small enough to fit into a carry on bag or into a standard camera tote.

Every time we pull out the 180WS to use, we get a universal “Wow” from whomever is within sight of it. During one video and photography shoot, we had several other photographers approach us to see what exactly it was that we were using. Of course, Joseph and I were only too happy to show it off and give our own demonstration of the product. For a moment, we both felt like we were selling the units at a trade show. It gave us a personal boost to show off the high end equipment we were using and I think gained us a little street cred in the process.

Don’t let me put you high-end amateurs or prosumers off, this unit would be great for team sports shots, school events, family photos, vacation photos, or even your first foray into the pro world. The combination is affordable enough for amateurs and pros alike. Amateurs will love the ease of operation and although the unit looks intimidating, it isn’t. It’s easy on, easy off, and adjustable with the touch of a single finger and fire, fire, fire, as fast as you can press the shutter button.

Honestly, this is the finest product of its type that I’ve ever used and I’ve used a lot of flash units over the past couple of decades. Quality really makes a difference. This unit is an investment that is a real winner. And you can take that from two guys who’ve eaten a lot of lemons over the years. The 180WS and Blast Power Pack are a winning combination.

Rating: 10/10

Recommendation: Pros: It’s a must have–you can’t afford not to have one. Amateurs: This could be exactly what you’ve been looking for to take your photography to that higher level.

Note: I will soon have our own video up demonstrating the 180WS and the BP-960. My camera battery went dead during my original video. Too bad it wasn’t powered by the BP-960.

Photographer’s Holiday Gift Guide 2013

December 8, 2013 Comments off

camera_medIf you have a photographer in your life, then this gift guide is the key to his or her happiness this holiday season. No photographer, amateur or professional, has everything he or she wants. There’s always some light, lens, or gadget that’s missing and she’s just never taken the time to buy it or it slips her mind until there’s a special need. You can fill that void with these ideas but first there’s something you have to do.

You have to listen to and observe your photographer. What subjects does she shoot? Does she only photograph people? Does she only work outdoors? Does she like to create short films? Does she ever work with film or is she a digital only type? Does your photographer ever take pictures with her phone? It’s a real thing called Phoneography and there are a lot of apps and accessories available for it. Ask a few questions. It won’t kill you to find out a few details before embarking on a shopping spree.

And you have the choice of enhancing your photographer’s equipment list or expanding it in a different direction. For example, if your photographer only shoots outdoors, you could buy her some studio lights and backdrops to give her a chance to try some portraiture or product photography.

If she’s a digital only shooter, you should buy her an old school film camera and let her creativity flow. Yes, lots of people still use film. In fact, more people now use film than ever before and there are some really cool ones available that extend your sight beyond the normal.

Here are the “goto” websites that you need to know for photography gear, cameras, lenses, and accessories.

Adorama: http://www.adorama.com

I’ll go out on a limb here and say that most serious photographers know about Adorama. It is the primary goto site for all things professional or prosumer, a term that means a high-end consumer who might be a part-time freelance photographer or someone who uses professional equipment. Although bent toward the professional, your up and coming amateur can benefit from better lighting, a higher quality tripod, or a new telephoto lens.

There are shopping tabs on the site that direct you to products that fit your budget or those oriented toward him or her. For example, there are tabs labeled Under $50, Under $100, Under $200 up to Over $500. You can also purchase Adorama gift cards from the front page. Trust me when I say that you’ll see a happy face when your photographer opens an Adorama gift card. A gift card is a great idea, especially if you have no clue as to what your photographer wants or needs.

There are also tabs that are product specific, such as Studio & Lighting, Cameras, Tripods, Lenses, etc.

Great sound is essential for movies, great lighting is essential for photography. Adorama has lighting. It has studio lighting, outdoor lighting, reflectors for natural lighting, flash lighting, continuous lighting, and just about everything any photographer or movie maker needs.

There are two lighting products in particular that I want to bring to your attention: Flashpoint 14″ Fluorescent Dimmable Ring Light and the Glow HexaPop 20″ for portable off camera flash – R Series.

My Flashpoint 14″ Dimmable Ring Light Review gives you a lot of good reasons to choose it for a portrait light. If your photographer needs a source of continuous light for portrait photos, product photos, short films, or stop motion films, this is what you should buy her. Currently, the Ring Light costs $140.00 with free shipping. Buy a replacement bulb for $15.95 and a stand for $25.00 to round out this full lighting solution.

HP_046F

The Glow Hexapop Diffuser shown on stand and with flash unit.

The other interesting lighting gift idea is the 20″ Glow Hexapop Diffuser. Though I haven’t posted my Hexapop review yet, I can tell you that I’ve worked with it and I like it. It is extremely portable, lightweight and it does a great job of providing soft, even lighting from a flash unit.

Ordinarily a flash unit sits atop your camera in what’s known as the “hot shoe.” This is an electronic interface that’s timed with the shutter button so that the flash fires as the shutter opens so that your subject receives enough light to be photographed. Unfortunately most flash units are overpowered and flood the subject with bright, harsh light that is neither flattering nor even.

The Hexapop diffuser does. To use the Hexapop, your photographer needs to have her own flash unit (most do) and a flash sync cord (again, most do). If your photographer happens not to own a flash sync cord, get one at least ten feet long and one that’s compatible with your photographer’s equipment.

The Hexapop is sort of a hybrid softbox and umbrella combination that photographer’s use for studio lighting. Unlike studio lighting, the Hexapop can travel with the photographer without the need for external power. It comes with its own tasteful black carrying case that makes it extremely portable for the photographer on the move.

HP_028

The Glow Hexapop Diffuser ready to open or to drop in the bag for easy transport.

It sets up quickly and easily by pulling the arms into place and it folds up even faster with a “Pop!” by pressing its release triggers.

Adorama has everything for the photographer and photography enthusiast. For the truly budget conscious, there’s a Deals link that you should check out for Specials, overstocks, refurbished products, and used equipment. Adorama offers free shipping within the USA on many products.

Lomography: http://www.lomography.com

Lomography is an online presence, it’s a store, it’s a movement, it’s a place for you to show off your lo-fi photography, it’s an online magazine, and it’s something kind of unexplainable. Lomography is film and cheap cameras. I should put cheap in quotation marks because some of them aren’t so cheap at all. I guess cheap is relative. You have to love film, its unexpected qualities, its artistic value, and the feeling that you’re going against the grain of the “digital revolution.”

Holga

The Holga 120N Camera.

There’s no wrong answer or wrong way to do anything in the world of Lomography but you have to have a lo-fi lens or lo-fi camera to do it. If you want to know more about it all, you can read up on the history and the movement on the website. Just know this: Lomography is addictive and once you start, you want to experience every type of camera.

For example, the medium format (120 film) cameras are kind of my favorites. The negatives are large (generally 2″ x 2″) and you only get 12 or 16 photos per roll. Using one of these plastic gems is not an exact science but it’s really fun. Great examples of medium format lo-fi cameras are: Holga, Diana, and Debonair (the look of a Diana but the operation of a Holga).

debonair

The Debonair Camera

My own collection “lomo” cameras include the Smena (Russian), the Holga, the Diana, half-frame cameras, Canon AE-1s, and others. But my most favorite of all is the Debonair. It’s a super cheap little camera that uses 120 film. See photo.

You can find them on ebay.com for under $20. They are cheap, plastic cameras that have a very simple focusing mechanism, a manual film advance, and your creativity to power them. Awesome.

For someone who isn’t into Lomography or just wants to try it, the Debonair is a great starter camera. If you can’t find one, buy a Holga. You can find Holgas everywhere and they come in a variety of colors and styles but only two film sizes: 120 and 35mm. The Holga 135 is the 35mm one. Holgas generally cost under $30 for the standard black 120 film version. You can find film for it online or in camera shops. Use color print film C-41 process because Black and White film is getting harder to find a developer locally. Good luck if you like B&W, like I do. Use color, have the developer scan them onto CD for me and then I use a photo manipulation program to change them to grayscale. It’s almost the same. Plus you can alter the contrast that way too.

Diana

The Classic Diana updated with interchangeable lenses and more durable construction.

Once your photographer has caught the bug, you can buy her a Diana, or a 35mm Smena, or one of the more exotic cameras such as a Sprocket Rocket, an LC-A, or a Lubitel. They all have their quirks and interesting features. In fact, no two Holgas are alike, so explore the possibilities with more than one.

Photojojo: http://www.photojojo.com

Photojojo is the Phoneographer’s paradise. It has everything cool for the Phoneographer: lights, lenses, carrying cases, ideas for DIY projects, and all sorts of off the wall products.

I personally bought the three lens set for my iPhone from Photojojo. I love them and they work perfectly. Photojojo also sells some Lomography accessories too. You can also buy film, tripods, microphones, a film scanner, props, a dolly, and just about every kind of oddball thing you can imagine and a lot that you can’t.

If nothing else, Photojojo is worth a look just to see what’s out there for the phoneography nut in your life or perhaps for yourself. Photojojo offers free shipping on orders over $50.00. Often this is not easy to do because most of their items are under $50.00. I guess that’s so you’ll buy more stuff. That’s OK because I’ve never been bummed out about anything that I’ve purchased there.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com

Amazon has a lot of the photographic equipment, cameras, and accessories that you want and at the prices you want to pay. It has an excellent search engine and if you’re a Prime member, then you get free priority shipping on anything that is Prime qualified. Look for the Prime symbol prime when you find a product that you like.

Sometimes I use Amazon just as a sanity check against other online retailers. I also use it to see if I can get the products I want with free shipping, because I’m a Prime member. I don’t want to take anything away from the other retailers in this list or any other but if I can find the exact product on Amazon with Prime at a comparable price, I’m going for free shipping.

If you can’t figure out what you want to buy or you need a little extra advice, I’d be glad to help out. Drop me a line at ken-at-kenhess-dot-com (replace the at with @ and dot with . and don’t use the dashes. I have to do this to confuse email bots–sorry) and I’ll see what I can do for you.

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