Having been using the Microsoft Surface Pro for several years now, I was psyched to see the launch of the Surface Book, along with the Surface Pro 4. When I first heard about the Surface Book, I thought “here goes another laptop again”…until I saw the screen detach from the keyboard, revealing that it was a two-in-one hybrid machine. That was certainly unexpected. A laptop and a touchscreen tablet hybrid with a powerful 6th generation dual core Intel CPU, dedicated NVIDIA GPU, up to 1 TB of SSD memory and up to 16 GB of RAM. A true powerhouse in a very compact form factor, ideal for traveling and photo editing on the go. I knew it was something I had to test and review.
Every once in a while, I come across gadgets that sound promising, because they serve a specific purpose that I have needs for. When browsing the web last July, I came across a post on a popular site that praised a smart tracker called ANKR. The post started out by talking about stolen gear and how unfortunate the incidents were. Then it went on to introduce ANKR and how amazing of a find it was to be able to “geolocate” (those were the words used) items such as the camera bag in case it got stolen. It all sounded really good, because it seemed to address my particular fear of getting my gear stolen, especially when traveling overseas.
Although Sony has already made the fourth iteration of its RX100 camera, sadly, I have not had a chance to test and review any of the earlier models. After the Sony RX100 IV was announced, I told myself that I had to give this camera a try. Partly because our readers have been asking about it and partly because it looked like a killer camera based on its long list of features. Right before my trip to Death Valley, I was able to obtain this little monster of a camera for a real field test. I am really glad I did, because I have been really impressed by the Sony RX100 IV – it turned out to be the best pocket-friendly point and shoot camera I have used to date. Let’s take a look at this camera in more detail and see what it has to offer in its tiny body.
I still remember the first time I met Elia Locardi. I was busy passing through the vendor exhibits of the Photo Plus show in New York, when I saw a small crowd of people watching a presentation. What attracted me was not the crowd, because people were everywhere – it was the large LCD screen with some stunning imagery. At first, I stood there and paused for a moment, enjoying the fine scenery in front of my eyes and as I continued to hear the story behind each photograph, I came closer to the seating area and sat down. It was the Fujifilm booth and the young man with long blonde hair giving the presentation seemed to be very enthusiastic about his story and his technique of blending photographs. I did not even notice how quickly time went by – I probably sat there for at least 30 minutes, getting myself immersed into the presentation. At the end of the presentation, most people left and I just sat there. I really wanted to meet the man face-to-face and get to know him. As I started talking to Elia, I realized that he was not just an amazing photographer, but also a very down to earth guy. I also got to know his equally friendly and welcoming wife Naomi Locardi, who was there to support her husband every step of the way. At the end of our chat, I had a feeling that I had known Elia for years: that’s the type of a person he is. Since then, I have met Elia a number of times and I have been wanting to post about Elia and his work at Photography Life. Sadly, due to Elia’s crazy busy schedule and continuous travel all over the world, that project never materialized, but I am still hopeful that he will share some of his experience with our readers (Elia, it is never too late!). Fast forward to last July, when I found out that my good friends Patrick Hall and Lee Morris at Fstoppers.com collaborated with Elia Locardi in creating a brand new tutorial called “Photographing the World: Landscape Photography and Post-Processing“. Having seen some of the tutorials that Patrick and Lee produced in the past, I knew this one was not going to disappoint.
One of my resolutions for 2016 is to do a better job at timely completion of projects, and one of such tasks is to catch up with all the long-overdue reviews of gear that I had a chance to use, but never had a chance to write about. I will start off by reviewing the Sony A6000, an interchangeable lens mirrorless camera that has been Sony’s flagship APS-C product since it was released almost two years ago (and soon to be be replaced with a Sony A6100). Sony dumped the “NEX” name in its line of mirrorless APS-C products and merged everything into the “Alpha” ecosystem with the launch of the A3000, A5000 and A6000 cameras, so it looks like all the future iterations of these cameras will be labeled similarly. Let’s take a look at the A6000 in more detail, see what it has to offer and compare it to other popular mirrorless cameras on the market.
While some people might consider cell phone photography inferior to using a “real” camera, there are many who strongly believe that, as Chase Jarvis says, the best camera is the one that you have with you. These days, that camera is typically going to be a phone. With that in mind, what if you could add the flexibility of interchangeable lenses to your phone’s camera? That’s exactly what Aukey’s cell phone lenses do. In this post I’ll be reviewing a Wide angle and a 2x Telephoto lens. Also, since it seemed appropriate for a phone accessory review, all photos are taken with a cell phone.
For as long as I can remember, ever since I bought my first DSLR I’ve been looking for “the perfect” casual camera backpack. For me, that means a backpack that I can take anywhere, that’s easy to use, carries enough gear for a long walk or casual hike, has room to carry non-photography items and isn’t too big and bulky. When I saw the USA Gear S17 (which I’ll just call the S17 from now on), I knew it had the potential to be a camera backpack that I’d use on a regular basis.
A couple of weeks back, AT&T sent me a ZTE Spro 2 Smart Projector to review and give away to one of our readers. I loved the idea of doing this, not only because it is a neat little smart device that you can use as a mobile hotspot and as a projector, but also because with the holiday spirit, why not gift one of these away to one of PL’s readers? After-all, our site is all about giving! Speaking of gifts, hope you’ll get what you need this holiday season, because it does not always happen. What do you do with those unwanted gifts then? I find regifting to work the best. For example, on my birthday earlier this year I received a gift card to a store I never shop from, so I decided to regift it to a friend who does. Worked out nicely and I did not even have to think much about buying a present! Now the question is, if you win this giveaway, will it be a keeper? Anyway, before I go into the giveaway details, let’s take a closer look at what the ZTE Spro 2 is capable of and what you can use it for.
Earlier this year, I wrote a detailed review of the Sony A7R, where I expressed a number of serious concerns with the camera, some of which were serious enough to be categorized as “deal breakers”. Soon after, Sony announced the much-anticipated A7R II mirrorless camera, a second iteration of the high-resolution line of A7-series cameras. Although many of us knew what to expect from the A7R II based on what we have previously seen on the Sony A7 II, there was new technology incorporated into the A7R II to make it a very appealing camera among both enthusiasts and professionals. Just like the A7 II, the A7R II gained five-axis in-body image stabilization (IBIS) and a different ergonomic design with a much more comfortable to hand-hold protruded grip. And those are relatively minor changes compared to the changes from the original A7R. Not only does the A7R II get a faster and much more reliable AF system with a whopping 399 focus points, but it also gains a brand new 42 MP back-illuminated (BSI) sensor. In addition, Sony addressed the serious shutter-shock issue by not only reducing the overall noise and vibration caused by the shutter mechanism, but also by introducing an electronic front-curtain shutter release option, which completely gets rid of shutter-related blur in images. And lastly, with the latest firmware upgrade, the Sony A7R II also gained the ability to shoot uncompressed RAW, giving the ability to take a full advantage of the sensor. I have been shooting with the Sony A7R II since it was announced, so let’s take a closer look at the Sony A7R II and see how it performed both in real world and lab environments.
Although Tamron pioneered the release of the first 150-600mm lens, Sigma followed suit by releasing two versions of lenses with exactly the same focal length and aperture ranges. The smaller and lighter version, the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary (the one we are reviewing today), targets the same market as the Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD, while the much larger and heavier “Sport” version is something unique to Sigma, with no other equivalent competing offers from any other manufacturer. Being able to reach 600mm without spending a lot of money has been a big dream of many wildlife photographers on a budget, because anything close to the 600mm range typically translates to a very large expense – as much as $12K for the latest generation 600mm f/4 lenses. While the current 150-600mm lenses cannot offer the maximum aperture of f/4, they give a huge focal range to work with, which can be particularly useful when photographing subjects at varying distances. As many 600mm prime lens owners know, shooting with long glass is not an easy task due to both weight and atmospheric haze concerns. Such lenses can be quite limiting when the action is close, such as when photographing bears in Alaska, or taking pictures on an African safari. For such occasions, many pros love the 200-400mm f/4 lenses, because they give that flexibility to shoot action at both close and long distances. However, the high cost and the weight concerns are still there, making such lenses prohibitive for budget-conscious enthusiasts and pros who prefer shooting hand-held. And that’s when the 150-600mm lenses come to the rescue, offering great performance in a lightweight and relatively low-budget package. At just over $1K and a total weight of 1930 grams (4.25 pounds), the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary is a very attractive lens for sports and wildlife photographers. In this review, we will be taking a closer look at this lens and compare it to the Tamron 150-600mm lens that we previously reviewed and loved.