Latest Posts

Fake SSD drives hit Walmart in USA

Our good friend and epic photographer Frank Doorhof alerted his Facebook followers today to Walmart selling imaginary 30TB tiny SSD drives for almost nothing. This saga just continues – Amazon has certainly been duped by vendors, Facebook may or may not finally have stopped the fraudulent adverts.

Back in March/April edition of Cameracraft we lifted the lid on one of these fake SSDs. I don’t know if any other UK photo magazines have bothered to do the same. We just try to give readers information they need!

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Your compact environmentally friendly photo magazine is less than 10% advertising and every printed copy reaches a reader – no ‘returns’ or landfill from the news trade, subscription only! Sign up here and join our readership helping create a truly independent mag. The digital edition is even better for the environment, you can get it as a top quality PDF download to keep (on this site) or an App from Pocketmags for Kindle, Apple, PC and all devices – https://pocketmags.com/f2-cameracraft-magazine

The latest issue, September/October 2022, takes us to the end of summer with a preview of The Photography Show (Sept 17-21) and tech tests of the £5,000 Leica Q2, Tamron’s £239 24mm f/2.8, the 7Artisans 50mm f/0.95 and the Rogue Round Flash kit which makes ordinary old camera-top flash work like circular reflector systems. It goes lives at 1.00am on September 1st, after our copies go out in the August 30th mail.

We kick off with Danny and Ted’s amazing adventure – our rock photographer’s encounter with heavy metal’s Ted Nugent. Kevin Wilson takes Sigma’s 105mm f/1.4 to Sicily for his daughter’s long-delayed wedding – Iain Poole shoots cars and bikes on the sands of the Yorkshire coast. Kenny Martin pushes the value of learning and training, while in Boston USA we meet Jaypix Belmer and her Hiphop and street culture projects.

Ian Knaggs perseveres despite creating images which he doesn’t like. Mark McNeill’s new book on Amazon, Britain by Night, gets four pages with a following feature on dark sky astro photography from Kate Hughes. Tim Goldsmith wonders which of today’s cameras will ever be as legendary as the Nikon F – and we show the results of our second Assignment, plus a Rearview Gallery devoted to black and white.

Download or read through our July-August edition free

Cameracraft is received exclusively by subscribers and members of The Guild of Photographers. It’s easy to get single copies or subscriptions from this site, and in addition to the printed magazine digital delivery is an eco-friendly low cost alternative which fully supports our unique magazine.

After our subscribers receive their copies whether digital or printed, we wait a couple of weeks before releasing this viewable and downloadable PDF version. It’s a good quality too with the PDF created at Retina screen resolution so you can zoom in or use a large screen. To download and keep you may need to right-click if the PDF opens in a browser window – it’s normal now to have an extension installed which does this. You will however get a better choice of view modes by saving an opening using Adobe Acrobat. Select Two Page view to see the spreads properly, and expand your window to fill your screen. Don’t select ‘Full Screen’ mode as for some reason Adobe make this disable the two-page view!

Your downloaded PDF will include all email and URL links from the text on the pages.

CCJulAug2022
Read here using the navigation tools. Download using the link below the embedded version.

Luminar Neo’s new portrait background removal

Luminar Neo has gained a new tool – Portrait Background Removal, enabling the background behind a subject to be made transparent in one click. Careful hair-by-hair selections are done by trained neural networks.

Portrait Background Removal tool can be found in the Luminar Neo Layer masking options. 

It offfers:

  • Remove Background without Layering. Just open Luminar Neo, load an image, and select Portrait Background Removal.
  • Get clean assets for composing. Any portrait you edit can be exported as a PNG with a transparent background, a great base for seamless photo composing.
  • Create realistic portraits with AI that’s precisely trained on people. AI scans the image to find and select human figures as accurately as possible. Luminar Neo has an option to edit several images in a click with custom saved Presets, so editing event portraits becomes faster.
  • Achieve precise selections without extreme effort. The portrait and the background are highlighted in different colours. A Transition Brush refines the edges by removing unnecessary elements where the portrait and background touch. The Object Brush revives portrait details that may have been eliminated by the neural network, while the Background Brush helps to additionally remove parts that aren’t detected by the AI. 

Luminar Neo is available as a one-time purchase or as a subscription. The new architecture is flexible, so it can be easily updated in the future. Luminar Neo is available in both the Microsoft Store and the macOS App Store. Luminar Neo works as a plugin, so you can keep your images in your preferred photo editor while still benefiting from its powerful AI tools.

Additionally, the brand-new Luminar Share mobile app allows you to quickly and seamlessly transfer images from your phone to your computer. Take a photo, edit it, and post it to social media without third-party programs that reduce quality. Luminar Share is available on the Google Play Store and the macOS App Store.​​

To learn more about Luminar Neo and sign up for updates, visit http://skylum.com/luminar-neo

Rogue runs full circle – magnetic flash modifiers

ExpoImaging, Inc., creators of the Rogue FlashBender speedlight modifiers, today announced new Rogue Round Flash Magnetic Modifiers for popular round flashes and rectangular speedlight flashes including Godox V1, Godox R100, Godox HR200 head for AD200, Geekoto GT 250, Geekoto GTR, and Westcott FJ80. Compatibility with Profoto A1, Profoto A1x, and Profoto A10 flashes requires the Rogue PF Adapter. Photographers want their speedlight modifiers to be easy-to-use, lightweight, and durable, and the new Rogue Round Flash Modifiers are all those things. Each modifier component is made from impact-resistant materials to withstand drops and conveniently stack together, whilst the white silicone dome collapses to save space in your gear bag. Rogue Round Flash Modifiers stay put because each magnetic component incorporates six custom-designed neodymium magnets, which provide a strong attachment force to the flash. The custom design safely and securely keeps the magnets within the modifier ring.

Rogue Flash Adapter has a stretchy silicone mount that enables a quick attachment to speedlight flashes using a metal ring mount to attach other magnetic modifier components.

Small adapter is compatible with Godox TT350, Canon 430, Nikon (SB600, SB800), Nissin (i40, i60A), Sony F32, and other similar sizes. The larger standard adapter is compatible with Canon 580, Godox 685, Nikon SB900, Nissin Di700A, Sony F60, and other similar sizes

Rogue Flash Gel Lens
Enables users to attach colour gels to circular flashguns by placing gels between the magnetic Gel Lens. Unlike other magnetic modifiers, the unique design safely captures the neodymium magnets and keeps them in place.

Compatible with Godox (V1, R100, and HR200 head for AD200), Geekoto (GT 250, GTR) and Westcott FJ80Requires the Rogue PF Adapter (sold separately) to be compatible with Profoto flashes (A1, A1x, and A10)Can be used with rectangular speedlight flashes when combined with the Rogue Flash Adapter (Standard or Small)

Rogue Flash Grid 45
The Rogue Flash Grid 45 provides a popular grid angle for spotlighting control when shooting classic portrait or commercial product photography. Use alone to create a circle of light with a 45-degree spread or stack together to create smaller light circles.

Compatible with Godox (V1, R100, and HR200 head for AD200), Geekoto (GT 250, GTR) and Westcott FJ80Requires the Rogue PF Adapter (sold separately) to be compatible with Profoto flashes (A1, A1x, and A10)Use with rectangular speedlight flashes when combined with the Rogue Flash Adapter

Rogue Flash Diffuser Dome
Great for wedding, event, and portrait photography, the Rogue Flash Diffuser Dome snaps securely to the flash and softly diffuses the light from shoe mount flashes.

Attaches directly to the flash with the Rogue Flash Gel Lens included in its baseCompatible with Godox (V1, R100, and HR200 head for AD200), (GT 250, GTR) and Westcott FJ80Requires the Rogue PF Adapter to be compatible with Profoto flashes (A1, A1x, and A10)

Rogue Round Flash Gels 
Place Rogue Round Flash gels between any two magnetic modifier components to add a colour correction or vibrant colours for your portrait photography. Available in two sets including the Ultimate Portrait Collection and the Colour Correction Collection.

Enhance your portrait photography with multiple shades of flash gelsGel diameter of 71.5mm fits other round flash modifier systemsCompatible with Godox (V1, R100, and HR200 head for AD200), Geekoto (GT 250, GTR) and Westcott FJ80

Bundle Kits for Round Flashes and Rectangular Speedlight Flashes 
The new Rogue Round Flash Modifiers are also available in kits with the most popular modifiers bundled for round flashes or rectangular speedlight flashes. For photographers exclusively using round flashes, the Rogue Round Flash Kit comprises the essential light modifiers, including the Rogue Flash Grid 45, Rogue Flash Gel Lens, Rogue Flash Diffuser Dome, 3-Gel Sample Set, and a storage pouch. This kit allows for the modification of two round flashes simultaneously using the grid or diffuser dome with the included sample gels. For photographers using round flashes and rectangular speedlight flashes, the Rogue Round Flash Kit + Rogue Flash Adapter bundle includes the Rogue Flash Grid 45, Rogue Flash Gel Lens, Rogue Flash Diffuser Dome, 3-Gel Sample Set, storage pouch, and a Rogue Flash Adapter (standard or small). This bundle allows for the modification of 2 flashes simultaneously (round flash or rectangular speedlight flash) using the grid or diffuser dome with the included sample gels. 

Rogue Round Flash Magnetic Modifiers Compatible with Rogue FlashBenders v3 
The Rogue FlashBenders v3 design is compatible with the new Rogue Flash Magnetic Modifiers. Previous versions of the Rogue FlashBenders are not compatible with the new magnetic modifiers.

Further information: Lumesca Group, UK distributors – https://www.lumesca.com; Expoimaging, manufacturers – https://www.expoimaging.com

Cameracraft Assignment competition – enter by June 15th

To enter this competition you must be a verified subscriber to Cameracraft – it doesn’t matter whether that is print or digital. but it must be directly with Icon Publications Ltd (Pocketmags subscriptions can not be verified). New digital subscriptions delivered in PDF format can be found here, see side bar, at £15 per year. Great prizes from Permajet at The Imaging Warehouse, and Anthropics developers of Portrait Pro and Landscape Pro.

Sigma 16-28mm f2.8 E and L mount

The companion for Sigma’s highly regarded 28-70mm f/2.8 compact zoom adds an unbroken range down to 16mm while retaining a small c. 77x100mm size, 72mm filter fit, and 450g weight. It is announced today and will be available to buy from June 17th for £749.99 (UK SRP) or $899 (US retail before tax).

The new 16-28mm seen fitted to Sony’s compact A7C, with the companion 28-70mm left. The two lenses together weigh only 920g.

The full-frame Sigma 16-28mm f/2.8 DG DN Contemporary offers a promise of exceptional optical quality with a faster constant maximum aperture in barrel size similar to existing f/4 16-35mm designs. Special attention has been given to field curvature correction for edge-to-edge sharpness, important in wide-angle views – this is enabled through the use of a built-in lens profile, correcting distortion and vignetting in-camera or during raw image processing. 

It uses five FLD (fluorite-like glass) elements and four aspherics to minimise chromatic and off-axis aberrations. The lens has an inner zoom mechanism that keeps overall length and the centre of balance constant, improving performance when zooming during a gimbal take. The 72mm filter thread is larger than the 67mm of the similarly light and small 28-70mm f/2.8 DG DN Contemporary.. At just 100.6mm long (L-mount version) and 450g it’s appealing for outdoor, social, street and travel photographers who want a lightweight outfit for day-long use.

The lens is constructed using aluminium and thermally stable polycarbonate, performing well in temperatures from the arctic to the equator, and has a dust and splash resistant mount. AF uses a proven stepper motor compatible with high-speed AF, DMF and AF or MF modes with an MF switch on the side. It focuses down to 25cm with a maximum image scale of 1:5.6, 0.17X and has a nine-blade rounded aperture. On the L-mount version only, linear and non-linear focus ring behaviour can be set using the USB Dock UD-11.

The lens is supplied with front and rear caps and a bayonet mounted petal lens hood. Sigma WR or WR Ceramic,WR UV and WR Circular Polarising 72mm filters are optional extras.

Sigma UK – https://sigma-imaging-uk.com

Product information – https://sigma-global.com/jp/lenses/c022_16_28_28

Tamron 35-150mm f/2.0-2.8 Di III VXD review

The first magazine test of the new Tamron reached Cameracraft readers in our March/April edition. Now that other magazines are reviewing the lens, it’s time to release David Kilpatrick’s practical user report on-line.

Tamron 35-150mm on Sony A7RIV body

IT’S THE MIDDLE of a dark winter and the new Tamron super-fast ‘group to portrait’ zoom has been doing the rounds of dealers, and we get the chance to use the lens for a good test period starting in January just as the days are getting longer. It’s 3pm and it looks like 4pm with heavy cloud. A quick exposure check says why this lens will be a priority purchase, in a hurry, for wedding photographers.  Fortunately the days get brighter and longer during the time trying out this versatile lens.

So many weddings have been postponed due to earlier Covid venue restrictions. To get 1/125s shutter speed, which is very much needed to ensure expressions and fairly small movements are not motion-blurred, it was ISO 2500 at f/2.8 on the day the lens arrived. Between this and the end of useful daylight that changes rapidly to ISO 6400 and beyond, and eventually to 1/30s. Any sensible wedding photographer would now be digging out the f/1.4 lenses, firing up the battery flash kit and hoping the indoor setting works well.

However, there’s a zoom now for Sony full frame users which can cover most weddings or outdoor portrait sessions on its own, replacing a fast 35mm and 50mm and most of the range of a 70-200mm f/2.8.

The Tamron is 155mm long and 90mm in diameter

The new Tamron 35-150mm manages to hold its widest aperture of f/2 from 35mm to just short of 40mm, and doesn’t drop to f/2.8 until 80mm. 

f/2 35 to 39mm

f/2.2 40 to 59mm

f/2.5 60 to 79mm

f/2.8 80 to 150mm

This is good, as so many zooms with a fast minimum focal length lose a third or half a stop with a mere nudge of the ring – those 17-35mm f/2.8-4 lenses made for SLRs were often f/3.2 at 18mm! With studio flash you might set f/2 and start work at the short end of the zoom, but with so many systems studio or location now being TTL and high-speed sync of one kind of another this probably doesn’t matter. Set the lens to f/2.8 or any smaller aperture, and it acts as a constant aperture zoom

How about the chosen focal length range? I’d argue that 28-135mm, with similar aperture benefits, is more useful because there’s a chance of never needing to change lenses.  There’s a quick way to check what matches 35mm for groups, using just the long side of a landscape frame. It’s almost the same as the 36mm dimension of the sensor, with an angle of 55° covered horizontally. If you’ve got an APS-C sensor it matches 23mm, on MFT 17mm, on Fujifilm GF and other popular 50MP medium format models it’s 44mm, on the biggest like Hasselblad HD6-100C it’s 53mm. 

35mm is not a bad wide end for practical reasons

This angle of view works well because many rooms have Golden Ratio dimensions, not unlike an A4 page. Stand near one end of a 5 x 7m room, put a group at a comfortable distance away from the opposite wall, and you’ll cover it well with some of the side walls visible. In a square room, you can just take in the opposite wall with no sides visible. The working distance gives scope for bounced flash, there’s no distortion of body or face width towards the ends of a group even if it’s tightly composed.

In fact having the wide-angle end limited to 35mm may improve your group photography and weddings in particular by making you keep that little bit of extra distance.

However, the real world sometimes throws difficult spaces and camera distances at you. This new Tamron is not an all-in-one outfit. It’s almost essential to have a 24mm, or a zoom such as Tamron’s 17-28mm or Sony’s 16-35mm.

The range

The statue of Sir Alec Douglas Home at The Hirsel estate, Coldstream, is a rare example of a life-size bronze standing on a soap box height plinth. The versatility of the 35-150mm range and the fast aperture is demonstrated here – above, 35mm and f/9 for the depth of field; below, both at 150mm and f/2.8 from different distances, showing the bokeh pattern.
At 150mm, from a distance…
At 150mm again, from closer in. Both at f/2.8.
Zooming out to 35mm and closing in a bit shows how different a perspective on a figure can be achieved. For test, taken at f/2 full aperture.
Still at 35mm, moving in close and keeping the aperture wide open at f/2. This can be a versatile lens.

Tamron 35-150mm performance

The optical performance of the 35-150mm is well above expectations for an f/2-2.8 design. It’s better than any past attempt at ƒ2.8 on a similar range, and this is down to mirrorless versus SLR body thickness. You can use it wide open at any focal length and be sure of sharpness in the plane of focus, and that is pretty flat corner to corner despite considerable pincushion distortion growing from 50mm to 150mm. The  built-in and Adobe lens profiles are essential but not identical – while in-camera JPEGs are very well balanced across the frame, the default Adobe vignetting correction is much too strong. 

Without correction this lens loses between one and two stops of light in the outer field when used wide open, with a central zone of around 20mm diameter representing the nominal aperture. The lens profiles boost the gain to compensate and if you set the Sony A7RIV to its ISO invariant optimum of 400, faces at the extreme ends of a group may be recorded as if ISO 1600 was used. For the best results, shoot raw and don’t underexpose (no need to follow the expose to the right mythology though). If you use the Adobe Lens Profile, adjust the vignetting to minus 60 for full aperture shots if you want to remove the effect. If you stop down to ƒ5.6 it’s pretty much gone anyway.

At 150mm with no Adobe lens profile correction, showing vignetting and pincushion distortion at ƒ2.8.
The same raw file with Adobe Camera Raw profile corrections applied. In-camera JPEG corrections do much the same.
Here we have 35mm and f/2 uncorrected.
This is the same raw f/2 file with profile correction applied.

There’s a strong case for just letting the wide aperture vignetting be – don’t correct it at all. Many pictures will look better, including landscapes, portraits and most street shots.  The distortion correction, on the other hand, is worth leaving turned on. Because the lens has pincushion rather than barrel distortion over most of its range, the corners don’t get stretched, it’s the centre of the image which is expanded slightly. As this is the sharpest area the correction tends, if anything, to even out the finest detail rendering over the frame unlike barrel distortion correction which degrades the corners visibly in many cases.

When Sony’s 90mm G macro was constantly being called the best lens ever, I tried three examples and all fell short of the standard expected. Just for interest I set the Tamron 35-150mm to 90mm (actually reported 91…) and shot a series from wide open to smaller apertures, on the same architectural distance subject I’d used for the Sony. Despite being on 60MP not 42MP the Tamron zoom was clearly much sharper across the frame than the Sony.

Here’s what detail enlarged from the 150mm f/2.8 shot looks like.
Here’s 35mm f/2 detail. Sadly The Border Hotel’s delapidated facade will soon be a thing of the past, as it’s been a great test target for several years. The letters of the name fell off one by one but no-one was killed…

But – it’s a fast superzoom. Plenty of expert voices on Facebook will assure you it can not possibly be as good as a modest range zoom or an acclaimed macro prime.  Don’t take their word for it, try the lens. And now we need to look at the downside of such an ambitious superzoom – it’s a large and heavy lens, it uses an unusual internal and extending hybrid zoom design, and it doesn’t focus into the semi-macro range like most other Tamron and competing lenses now do.

I regularly walk round with the 70-180mm Tamron f/2.8 on the camera and the 17-28mm and 28-75mm in a small shoulder pouch. All three of those go into the little Vanguard Sydney II 22 bag with the A7RIV. But just the body and this one 35-150mm lens could fit.

My first step was to replace my slim camera strap with an extra wide heavy duty neoprene Optek – the springy shock-damping handled almost 1.9kg of combined camera and lens round my neck well enough. Often I hold my camera in my right hand ready to lift to the eye and shoot, and don’t let the weight hang on a strap. It was like having a 70-200mm f/2.8 to handle and many users are happy with that all day. I’m not that keen on the 82mm filter thread, but that’s what it has to be.

The lens hood has a single bayonet release button set in its rim, and you need to get it the right way up to fit. It’s very secure once on.

The USB socket

Then you come to the advanced aspects – this is a very fast focusing near-silent voice coil drive (VXD) design, and has three control buttons plus zoom lock, AF/MF and a three-position Custom function switch. With the aid of USB connected software (no dock needed) the lens can be customised for aspects like focus barrel direction/speed and even function (change to control ƒ-stop), and two preset focus points via the buttons.

The zoom ring is placed near the body with the focus ring being the main much deeper front barrel. This is the opposite to existing Tamron zooms and takes some getting used to, but it’s practical with the size and weight of the lens.

More statuary, this time at The Haining, a publicly owned mansion with a loch and grounds entirely free to walk round – not even a parking charge – in Selkirk, Scottish Border. This one is at 150mm and f/2.8.
Here’s a more likely aperture to use if you had real people in a random group – f/11. But note how obtrusive the background has become.

With minimum focusing of 85cm at 150mm to 33cm at 35mm, the subject scale is 1:5.9 and 1:5.7 respectively – that’s a field around 9.5 x 14cm, so not in the wedding ring shot class but fine for flowers, hands and many other close-ups. The 9-blade aperture creates a very attractive smooth defocus and if there are lights or candles in the background this lens gives full aperture bokeh discs, not clipped ellipses, at focal lengths from 35 (f/2) to 60mm (f/2.5) and with only a hint of cat’s eye shape at the extremes of the shot at 80mm (ƒ2.8). Longer than this and you’ll see some degree of this effect though using an APS-C or smaller crop cuts out the more visibly ellipsoid highlight bubbles. Depending on the light source you’ll see some ‘orange peel’ texture which is typical of zooms using moulded aspherical elements – there are many ways to remove this from finished edits. There are no ‘onion ring’ effects which are much harder to remove and occur with lenses using older aspherical moulding methods.

Bokeh Airey discs, f/2.8 and 150mm.
Zooming back to 107mm still at f/2.8.
82mm and f/2.8 – a 10 x 8 shape crop from something like a party or wedding shot with lights would lose the cat’s eye shapes at the ends of the frame.
At 60mm and f/2.5 the chatoyance only affects the extreme corners. Sure, I write elliptically. What less would you expect?

As for real cat’s eyes, the lens behaves perfectly with Sony’s animal and human face detection and eye AF and even managed to keep up with the most impossible close range movement of chickens – fine for eye sharp focus if not for the shutter speed.

Sony Animal Eye-AF at 150mm and f/2.8. It’s got that bit more depth of field than a 200mm f/2 or something extreme. However, it’s hardly unique to this lens. Every 70-200mm f/2.8 pot-boiler zoom ever made for an SLR or DSLR or mirrorless can do 150mm f/2.8 much the same. They just can’t do 35mm f/2.

This lens has a USB-C connection (no cover, it’s a waterproof port) and the Tamron Lens Utility, on 64-bit PC or Mac, can customise functions.  After thinking the utility was not working (on three different systems) because it said Lens Not Connected when it was, I found you ignore this and click on the Start button for the functions you want to modify – like changing the 1, 2 and 3 positions of the Custom switch to alter the behaviour of the focus ring (direction, linearity, use as aperture ring) or lens buttons (AF/MF, A-B Focus, Preset Focus, Assign Function from Camera, or Clear Settings).

Lock for zoom (not really much needed) and one of the three lens function buttons which occupy the remaining cardinal points.

All three lens buttons do the same, which might be missing some useful tricks such as two focus points assigned to different buttons. A-B focus and Preset distance have selectable focus speeds, and are strictly Movie functions (you have to press the Record button in Movie mode to program the distances, then use the lens buttons to activate the focus change during filming). The lens is fairly silent in focusing but an external microphone is desirable. It has almost no focus breathing regardless of the focal length set, though use at full aperture will produce some shifts as the bokeh expands and contracts – the real angle of view remains very constant from close-up to infinity.

You are advised to get a good USB-C cable to make use of the software to program the lens’s functions (mostly of interest to movie makers who can set the buttons to initiate point-to-point focus transitions).

This lens costs £1,599 so you need to know you need it to invest. It hardly came off the camera in six weeks partly because of the convenience of not having to change lenses, and just carrying the camera and this one lens.

– David Kilpatrick

For further information, visit:

https://www.tamron.co.uk

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