Fstoppers Gear Reviews

Trial By Fire: Switching to Sony For a Commercial Shoot Overnight

Seems like just a short few years ago, Sony DSLR's were the laughing stock, what with their proprietary this and convoluted that. Yet today, going into 2016, Sony has made a huge impact in the photography world with their hyper-techy mirrorless cameras almost out of nowhere. After much consideration (and provocation from Sony) I decided to try out some Sony gear in the most challenging way possible: on a client job. Nope, I had never worked with a Sony before. What could possibly go wrong?

Hands-On with the Everyday Messenger: The Bag That Raised Nearly $5 Million

While running a Kickstarter campaign might be a bit easier for veteran company Peak Design, there’s something to be said for raising over $4.8 million of excitement over a messenger bag. What is so special about this bag that merits this reaction? After reaching out to Peak Design, they sent a just-finished version of the Everyday Messenger — the "Trey Ratcliff bag" — for review so I could answer some of those questions.

Which Mobile Photo Editor Is Right for You?

I think the only thing that has changed photography more than the invention of digital cameras is the ever-growing involvement of photography and social media. Sites like Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr are the perfect platforms for sharing not only your work, but also behind-the-scenes images and other content that draws interest towards your brand. Today it is easier than ever to take advantage of this. Not only have mobile apps changed the shape of the industry, but they have changed the way that photographers can work. Apps like Snapseed, VSCO, and Lightroom Mobile have made it possible for aspiring artists, or even those in a hurry, to create incredible content with relative ease.

Fstoppers Reviews the Elinchrom Skyport HS

A couple of weeks ago, Elinchrom released the Skyport HS, a new iteration of the very old and rudimentary Skyport. The Skyport HS seems to have everything a strobist could hope for, from the laser grid to focus in low-light conditions to the Hi-Sync mode. This new radio trigger is a welcome addition to Elinchrom's product line. At least, it is on paper. The Swiss company was kind enough to lend me a unit before it was even released so that I could play with it and review it for you.

The Good and the Bad of the Periscope Social Media Platform

Periscope is a social media app that turns your life into a live broadcast. Instead of updating your Facebook status or sending a tweet, with this app, you start a live broadcast similar to any live broadcast you see on TV. The difference is that you get live interaction with the people that are tuning in to watch you. Now that the app is available on both Android and iOS, it’s starting to pick up some steam, and like any social media platform, it’s good to get in on the ground floor. Before you do, I have a list of positives and negative you may want to consider.

Fstoppers Reviews the Yongnuo TTL Flash System

In the world of off-camera flash, there are two sides: the full manual side and the TTL (through the lens) side. I have always been on the full manual side, because when it comes to triggering a TTL flash off camera, things start to get complicated. In order to trigger the flash, you either need to have an expensive on-camera flash, an expensive TTL radio trigger, or a cumbersome TTL cable. Then, I found the affordable and feature-rich Yongnuo TTL system and instantly fell in love.

First Impressions of the New Sony a7SII

The Sony a7S II is the latest full-frame mirrorless Alpha camera to be released and builds upon the head-turning low-light capabilities its predecessor was made known for. Now featuring internal 4K video recording, in-body 5-axis image stabilization, and improved autofocusing, the a7S II is once again calling attention to itself by offering a range of features currently unmatched.

These Black Dogs Will Make Your Eyes Light Up With Glee

Making its start as a wildly popular Tumblr blog, the “Black Dogs Project” was created by Massachusetts-based portrait photographer Fred Levy. The goal of Levy’s project is to bring to light the reality of black dog syndrome, which is an observance that black dogs tend to always be adopted last from shelters. Now made into an inspiring hardbound photo book, I’d like to share some of my favorite cute doggy photos from “The Black Dogs Project” and give an overview of the charming stories within.

Hands-On with the Newly Announced Sony RX1R II

Sony has just announced their latest full-frame mirrorless camera, the 42.4-megapixel RX1R II. This very sleek fixed-lens 35mm f/2 digital camera packs many of the same imaging features you’ll find in the new Sony a7RII (along with some surprising new ones), but in an even smaller, true compact-sized design. It’s a genius product of advanced engineering and technology, and I had the chance to get my hands on one to use.

Need for Speed: Fstoppers Reviews the Mitakon Zhongyi 50mm f/0.95 Lens for Sony FE

There aren't too many people in the f/0.95 club. Until fairly recently, it was a ludicrously expensive badge of honor, typically worn by Leica-toting physicians and hedge fund managers. After all, the legendary Leica Noctilux 50mm f/0.95 costs just shy of $10,000. Of course, there are some micro four thirds options. But those don't really count, do they? All that changed in April of 2014, when Mitakon announced their "SpeedMaster" 50mm f/0.95. After spending the better part of a month shooting it, I'm almost a believer... almost.

Fstoppers Reviews the New Tamrac Anvil Professional Series Photo Backpacks

For almost 40 years, Tamrac has been producing bags aimed towards photographers who embraced the great outdoors. Their brand new collection of Anvil backpacks — which replaces the Expedition line — continues their tradition while making a number of exciting design choices that make this collection their best ever. In this review, I take a look at the Anvil Slim 15, which is sized for photographers who have entered the exploding mirrorless market, but shares the same look and feature set of the rest of the Anvil collection.

Hands-On with a Pre-Production Vantage Robotics 'Snap' Drone: The One I Wish I Always Had

First, second, third, and fourth generations of several companies’ drones are now out on the market. But it’s only as we head into 2016 that the drone race is really on and that all the other possible players with their collectively interesting ideas who might have lagged behind a little are now crossing the halfway point. That race won’t end anytime soon, as the consumer drone market’s innovation is only picking up. I caught up with Vantage Robotics Co-Founder and CEO Tobin Fisher on a beautiful San Francisco morning on Crissy Field, where he let his company's new 4K drone, “Snap,” do just that.

The Irrational Reasons to Buy an $800 35mm f/2.8 Lens

The current king-of-the-hill 35mm, the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 A DC HSM, costs $900. That's not too shabby for a lens that absolutely dominates its "L" and high-end Nikon competition, which both cost significantly more. Canon and Nikon offer budget 35mm options: a f/2.0 IS and f/1.8G, respectively, both of which cost under $600 and are no slouches themselves. With the availability of extremely well performing 35mm lenses at the sub-thousand-dollar price point, why on earth would someone buy a slow (f/2.8) 35mm for $800?

Portable Hard Drive Update: Where We Are, What's New, and What You Really Need

Every now and then, it’s good to have a quick update to know what the biggest, fastest, or most affordable drives are for the money. We’re always on the go and in need of more storage, so portable hard drives go to the top of the list when new ones come out. Though it’s not that new, Western Digital’s newest and largest portable 3 TB, single-drive offering is still sometimes out of stock, but the 3 TB My Passport Ultra is certainly not alone in its segment.

Fstoppers Reviews the Sony Alpha a7R II 42MP Full-Frame Camera

Prior to the a7R II’s release, the Sony Alpha mirrorless lineup played as a group of ambassadors to the possibilities in the technology. Each had their own role in showcasing how mirrorless could do amazing things that matched or exceeded DSLRs. With the a7R II, Sony has released the camera that its competition was warned of, and ultimately did nothing about. It has taken away the asterisk next to the Alpha name and is ready to play ball with the other top brand’s professional cameras on all levels.

Fstoppers Reviews the Elinchrom Indirect Litemotiv Softboxes

The Elinchrom Indirect softboxes are quite well known amongst fashion and commercial photographers. Especially the 190 octabank. Recently Elinchrom revised its indirect lineup and renamed it Indirect Litemotiv. The Swiss brand offered me the chance to play around with the whole line of Indirect Litemotiv for a little over a month. I must admit, these are great light shapers, and I did not really want to give them back. Are they the ultimate softboxes? I would not go this far, but they are very close. Here is why.

Review of the Updated “One Man Crew” Automated Slider for Documentary Video Production

I’ve been a user of the original One Man Crew for many different videos. It’s ability to get elegant motion video clips have made it a go-to piece of gear for when I need my interviews to have an interesting look to them. When I heard that an updated version was being released, I was excited to see if a few issues were fixed. In this gear review, I'll break down what is fixed, and what left me wanting more.

Fstoppers Review of the Wotancraft Ranger

I know. It’s another one of those dang camera bag reviews. It’s a bag and it holds a camera, why does there need to be a full on review? Well in this case, because Wotancraft is not a well-known name in the industry and there is not a ton of information out there about their products in comparison to other brands. Their Ranger bag is also really good looking. It’s fashioned after World War II military bags and is completely handmade. Plus, I’m a sucker for a good bag review.

Finally, A Camera Bag Made Just for Women: Introducing Pompidoo

It seems that every week a new camera bag hits the market, and while the majority are stylish and functional they all have one unifying trait. They all seem remarkably masculine in appearance. Whether this is a reflection on the industry of photography as a whole (seeing as men outnumber women) the fact of the matter is that there isn't a whole lot of selection for women... until now. Introducing, the Cologne camera bag/purse by Pompidoo.

Feiyu Announces a Wearable Gimbal for GoPros

The Feiyu 3-Axis Wearable Gimbal is a miniaturized version of Feiyu's handheld gimbals, offering motorized 3-axis stabilization in a compact, wearable form factor for the latest GoPro and similar action cameras. Designed with flexibility in mind, the FY-WG features 1/4"-20 threaded holes for horizontal, vertical, or inverted mounting onto a variety of support devices. It can also be used with any accessory that uses the standard GoPro three-prong mount, letting you capture all of the immersive action camera shots that you're accustomed to, but with full motorized 3-axis stabilization.

The Pentax K-3 II Scores Big Points on the Nature Photographer’s Camera Wishlist

Ricoh recently refreshed their flagship Pentax K-3 DSLR camera with the Mark II version featuring an eye-catching bump in specs and abilities. These new additions, including built-in GPS, AstroTracer star tracking, and Pixel Shift Resolution in the $1,035 K-3 II are really pushing the meaning of “bang for your buck.” In particular, nature photography enthusiasts should really be paying attention to what Ricoh has created here. In this review I cover how the camera performs shooting nature, landscapes, and wildlife to determine if this feature-rich DSLR is an underrated trail boss that deserves a spot in your pack.

Fixing Sony’s Shaky Situation: First Impressions of the Fotodiox Tough E-Mount

Owners of Sony Alpha and NEX camera bodies have long been complaining about the rotational barrel wobble experienced with mounted lenses. Entering what is quite a unique product space, Fotodiox recently released the Tough E-Mount that replaces the original body mount of these cameras. As a sufferer of said wobbles, I purchased the Tough E-Mount for my Sony a7R to test and give you my verdict of the installation and results.