Canon 6D Mark II Vs. 80D and 7D Mark II In-Depth Review

 Cinematography, Gear  Comments Off on Canon 6D Mark II Vs. 80D and 7D Mark II In-Depth Review
Sep 072017
 

The Canon 6D Mark II has not been the most well-received camera thus far. But how does it actually perform, and are the complaints justified?

The initial complaints were around the fact that this camera does not shoot 4K video. Discussions then moved on to its dynamic range and how it underperformed even against APS-C cameras. The most recent complaints are around the fact that its performance at higher ISOs may be worse than the original 6D. Personally, my biggest gripe about this camera is the fact that it only has one storage slot. This one individual point makes it less viable in a professional setting for me, however this may not bring as much concern to shooters upgrading from the original. The 6D Mark II has been referred to as a bigger Canon 80D and for good reason. There are a few minor differences between the two cameras except for the sensor size and price tag. The Canon 7D Mark II sits in between the 80D and 6D Mark II when it comes to the price and for that reason, it’s viable to compare these three to one another.

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How to Maximize Your DJI Spark Dynamic Range in Postproduction

 Gear  Comments Off on How to Maximize Your DJI Spark Dynamic Range in Postproduction
Aug 172017
 

Amongst the drones available on the market in 2017, the DJI Spark is surely not amongst the top ones in terms of files quality. The sequences it creates are quite difficult to color grade in postproduction and thus it makes it hard for videographers to mix the clips with footage from another camera. However, there are ways to improve what you can get out of Spark’s videos. Casey Faris gives us one of the tricks he uses to maximize the dynamic range of the images.

The DJI Spark is without a doubt an incredibly attractive product to get into aerial photography and videography. But its price comes at the cost of more advanced features found on the Phantom and Mavic, such as log footage. The sequences produced by the Spark are very contrasty, sharp, and quite saturated. It’s not a bad thing for average users, but it’s far from ideal for those who want to color grade their footage.

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Fstoppers Reviews the Insta360 Air: A Pocket-Sized 360-Degree Streaming Camera

 Gear  Comments Off on Fstoppers Reviews the Insta360 Air: A Pocket-Sized 360-Degree Streaming Camera
Aug 172017
 

Live streaming on Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook is nothing new in the age of social media. It’s a fantastic tool for marketing or just showing how much fun you’re having on a fun new adventure. What if you were able to completely immerse your viewers in the environment you’re streaming? InstaAir 360 is one such a camera and I was given the opportunity to work with it.

To start I’ll give you the basics. The camera is available for both Android (both Micro USB and USB Type-C) and Apple devices. For lens elements, it has dual 210-degree lenses facing 180-degrees from each other. With a max output of 3K resolution images, and 2K (3K on certain phone models) video. Utilizing real-time stitching, you’re able to stream the views from the camera live on most social media applications. It featured built-in stabilization allowing for smooth operation. In addition, it can be used as a webcam with the included USB adapter.

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Which Video Camera Would You Buy Today? Here’s a Comparison of 4K Systems from Canon, Sony, and Others

 Gear  Comments Off on Which Video Camera Would You Buy Today? Here’s a Comparison of 4K Systems from Canon, Sony, and Others
Aug 012017
 

Every time I’m on a set or grabbing coffee with another local filmmaker, we always end up talking gear for a bit, and inevitably the question comes up of “What camera would you buy if you had to buy right now, and why?” I decided to research things a bit and put together an article that explains what I’d buy if I absolutely had to right now, and the answer might surprise you.

First, let me just define a few parameters. I’m going to look at 4K-capable cameras that can capture internally, and cost less than $10,000. To further refine the list, fixed-lens cameras will not be listed, but don’t disregard them. They still serve a lot of event productions and run-and-gun shooters should really consider them a viable option when speed and versatility are more important than being able to change lenses. I’ll also being leaving DSLR-style cameras off the list, even though they are a popular choice. I wanted to keep the comparison as direct as possible.

Here’s a chart to get us started which should give us a quick glance at some major specs and price points. Below, I’ll hit on key points, note any special considerations, and finally end with my suggested picks for the kind of videographer or filmmaker you might be.

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Comparison Breakdown: The Lightest, Most Affordable, Professional Full-Frame System

 Gear  Comments Off on Comparison Breakdown: The Lightest, Most Affordable, Professional Full-Frame System
Jul 272017
 

In a world where less than a handful of brands are considered well-established in the professional full-frame camera market and where more than a handful of other brands have done a very healthy share of innovating to wedge their way into the market, where do we stand? If you’re going to buy a new system to start fresh or are just starting out and getting serious, this is for you. Here’s a thorough comparison of the major bodies and lens kits you’ll likely be considering. As long as you’re considering full frame, regardless of budget, here’s a comparison for it.

The DSLR establishment is extremely interested in the possibility of mirrorless cameras, and rightly so. They’re faster, cheaper, lighter, and more compact… or are they? If you’re thinking of Fujifilm’s X-Series cameras, you’d be right. And those might work for you. But for professionals coming from the top DSLR brands, they’ll be lacking in speed, versatility, and sensor size (not to mention ISO performance), as they’re all APS-C-based. But what about the full-frame mirrorless cameras? Of course, we’re now talking about Sony’s a7-series cameras.

YouTuber Duncan Dimanche recently published a video that compared the price and weight of an entry-level full-frame kit from four different brands, including Canon, Nikon, Pentax, and Sony. NikonRumors has a great summary of that video, but there were a few issues in there. First and foremost, none of the combinations of lens kits were anything that any reasonable person would purchase together. It was a good first effort, but with a number of the zoom ranges of the cheap lens kits overlapping and with the results slightly skewed toward Nikon with a few interesting and cheaper not-quite-equivalent options included (and I’m a Nikon fan, even), the video didn’t quite do it for me. Still, it more than piqued my curiosity. Let’s dive into a comparison based on what we’d actually get. Scroll down to the conclusion for the final advice, or read on to get all the details.

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A First Look at the Canon 6D Mark II Camera, by Alex Cooke

 Gear  Comments Off on A First Look at the Canon 6D Mark II Camera, by Alex Cooke
Jul 082017
 

Canon recently released both the 6D Mark II and SL2 cameras. The 6D Mark II was particularly anticipated, as it is Canon’s cheapest and lightest full-frame DSLR. Here’s a helpful and practical first look at the newest DSLR in the Canon family.

Kaiman Wong recently had a chance to play with the new Canon 6D Mark II. With 45 cross-type AF points, a fully articulating screen, improved burst speed, and dual pixel autofocus, it’s an intriguing option for those looking to break into the full frame world. Of course, it’s missing features to distinguish it from the 5D Mark IV, most notably 4K and a second card slot.

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Tamron Announces SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Lens, by Alex Cooke

 Gear  Comments Off on Tamron Announces SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Lens, by Alex Cooke
Jul 012017
 

For many photographers, a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens with vibration compensation is a holy grail. Tamron has just introduced their second generation of that exact lens with many improvements and a slick redesign. Check out the new lens!

Specifications

  • New dual Micro-Processing Unit for quicker and more precise AF and improved Vibration Compensation performance
  • Two extra refractive elements, three low dispersion elements, three glass-molded aspherical elements, and one hybrid aspherical element to reduce distortion and aberrations
  • eBAND and BBAR coatings to reduce flare and ghosting
  • USM autofocus motor with full-time manual override
  • Five-stop Vibration Compensation with two modes (normal and panning)
  • Moisture resistance with fluorine-coated front element
  • Minimum focusing distance: 15″
  • Maximum reproduction ratio: 1:5
  • 17 elements in 12 groups
  • Nine-blade diaphragm
  • Front element: 82mm
  • Weight: 1.99 lbs. (904 g)
  • Compatible with optional TAP-in Console

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How to Improve the Sound of Your Speech in Premiere Pro, by Alex Cooke

 Technique  Comments Off on How to Improve the Sound of Your Speech in Premiere Pro, by Alex Cooke
Jun 232017
 

You can have the most visually stunning videos, but if you sound like you’re talking to your audience from two rooms over, they won’t be engaged by your work. Here’s how to get better-sounding speech in Premiere Pro.

Part of being a good video editor means getting your sound editing skills up to speed. Premiere Pro borrows some tools from Audition, Adobe’s audio editing software, to give video editors the ability to improve their sound within the program.

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Adobe Premiere Pro’s Editing Tools Explained, by Jason Boone

 Technique  Comments Off on Adobe Premiere Pro’s Editing Tools Explained, by Jason Boone
Jun 152017
 

It took me several years of editing video before I became comfortable venturing out to use some of Premiere Pro’s editing tools. The problem is that you can accomplish almost everything you need with the Selection tool, and some editors are comfortable doing just that. You can perform simple trims, move clips around, and add transitions all using just the Selection tool. To be honest, you never really need to use any of the tools provided in Premiere Pro. However, by exploring tools such as Ripple Edit, Rolling Edit, Track Selection, Rate Stretch, Slip, and Slide, I’ve ended up saving myself countless hours in the edit suite.Take the Ripple Edit tool as an example. The Ripple Edit tool allows you to trim or expand a clip while simultaneously shifting (rippling) all of your assets further on down the timeline. This happens all in one movement. Performing the same action with the Selection tool could easily take 3 movements, and sometimes, even more, depending on the complexity of your project. If you use the Ripple Edit tool enough, it begins to save you quite a bit of time.

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Quick Overview of DaVinci Resolve 14 Audio Editing Capabilities

 Technique  Comments Off on Quick Overview of DaVinci Resolve 14 Audio Editing Capabilities
May 132017
 

DaVinci Resolve 14 looks very promising and more videos about it are popping up on YouTube every day. One feature that was left out in many demonstrations until now is the integration of FairLight for audio editing. With the new version of Resolve, it’s possible to edit sound within the software. No need for an additional costly plugin, or any round-trip of a sort. Let’s see how with Casey Faris.

Resolve was primarily known for its color editing capabilities. It’s become an industry standard for grading, but Blackmagic Design wants to offer more to its users by creating a one-stop editing software. It has had editing possibilities for a while now, but audio edition wasn’t quite up to par. With the integration of FairLight Audio, it’s a whole different world, and it could potentially make other apps such as Adobe Audition useless for most video makers.

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Check Out This Crazy Deal on the 5D Mark IV by; Alex Cooke

 Gear  Comments Off on Check Out This Crazy Deal on the 5D Mark IV by; Alex Cooke
Mar 262017
 

This is the best price we’ve seen on the Canon 5D Mark IV yet, and it likely won’t last long. If you’re in the market for Canon’s latest full-frame body, now is a really good time to pick it up.

I just completed two shoots with my 5D Mark IV today, and it continues to be my favorite Canon body to date. It’s a very capable and versatile camera that spits out gorgeous files. I recommend it very highly to anyone in the Canon system.

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With the Panasonic GH5 Imminent, Atomos Announce the Ninja Inferno as the Ultimate Companion by; Mike Briggs

 Technique  Comments Off on With the Panasonic GH5 Imminent, Atomos Announce the Ninja Inferno as the Ultimate Companion by; Mike Briggs
Mar 262017
 

With reports that Panasonic have already begun to ship the hotly anticipated GH5, it seems Atomos have perfectly timed the announcement of their latest external monitor-recorder, the Ninja Inferno, due to ship March 31st. With 4:2:2 10-bit recording in 4k 60p and HD 120p, is this the ultimate companion for videographers awaiting their GH5 pre-order to arrive?

The Ninja Inferno will become the world’s first external monitor-recorder to accept 4k DCI signals from cameras like the GH5, recorded in ProRes or DNxHR and displayed on a 7″ 10-bit HDR touch screen LCD with 1500nits of brightness. You’ll get the typical rugged, high quality build you’d expect from an Atomos monitor-recorder made from ABS Polycarbonate. Also expect to see the usual features you’d expect in a premium external monitor-recorder such as focus peaking, zebra patterns, vectorscopes, false color and anamorphic desqueeze.

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Five Ways to Edit Video More Quickly in Adobe Premiere by; Alex Cooke

 Technique  Comments Off on Five Ways to Edit Video More Quickly in Adobe Premiere by; Alex Cooke
Mar 142017
 

Some view editing as the place where the magic happens, while others see it as a necessary evil before they can get back out to shoot some more. Either way, we’d all love to be more efficient at it. These five tips will help you speed up your workflow in Adobe Premiere.

I use workspaces constantly in Digital Performer, and they’ve dramatically increased my efficiency and allowed me to intuitively design my window sets for the task at hand. Along with workspaces come four other tips in this great video, including adjustment layers to apply effects and corrections to multiple clips simultaneously, using presets to save single or multiple effects, color-toning, etc. for easy access down the road, using nested sequences to ensure you can easily move around blocks of clips without disturbing their relative ordering, and of course, shortcuts to keep you out of menus.

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Rumor Has It Sigma Is Releasing a 70-200mm f/2.8 Sport Lens in Late 2017 by; Alex Cooke

 Gear  Comments Off on Rumor Has It Sigma Is Releasing a 70-200mm f/2.8 Sport Lens in Late 2017 by; Alex Cooke
Mar 062017
 

Sigma is showing no signs of slowing down. As their line of unique and high-quality lenses continues to expand at an explosive rate, it appears they’ll be adding a lens almost every photographer should own later this year: the 70-200mm f/2.8.

The 70-200mm f/2.8 lens is arguably the most important lens most photographers can carry, along with the 24-70mm f/2.8. Every major manufacturer has their own native version: Canon, Nikon, Sony, and Pentax, all of which represent some of their best optics and performance. Tamron also recently released the SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2, an update that provides improved AF, stabilization, and optical quality. With Sigma on a roll, having released four new full-frame lenses, it’s only logical to hear that they’re planning an update to their 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, which is a holdover from the days before their revamped design that started with their Art series. Such a lens would surely be widely welcomed by photographers who have mostly embraced Sigma’s new lenses, while the continued pressure put on the mainstay manufacturers by increasingly tempting third-party options is always good for the market.

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Using Adobe’s Kuler Tool to Color Tone Images By Mark Bowers

 Technique  Comments Off on Using Adobe’s Kuler Tool to Color Tone Images By Mark Bowers
Nov 302016
 

Something I get asked often is how to add color tones to your images. Often the easiest option is to use filters either in Lightroom or with a plugin software such as Google Nik. However, as you delve deeper into the world of color grading you will eventually become curious how to create your own effects.
There are obviously an enormous number of ways to achieve a certain look to your photos. The Adobe Kuler plugin for Photoshop is an incredibly powerful option that is available to anyone with Photoshop (for free) and provides complete control over the look and feel of an adjustment.

The first concept to grasp is color theory. You know, the whole color wheel thingy and colors complementing one another… Well this is huge. And while you don’t need to be an expert on the subject, it helps to know the basics which will eventually lead to a better understanding of the subject as you use it in practice. One article I have found extremely helpful on his topic was written by one of my favorite landscape photographers of today, Ted Gore. Gore has won several accolades in his field and produces some of the most amazing images I have ever seen. His article titled “Color Theory and Landscapes Photography” goes into great detail about color harmonies and how to work them into your images. He explains the difference between analogous, complementary, and monochromatic color harmonies (as well as several others that are much less obvious) and gives great examples of how he uses them in his work. I highly recommend this read as it applies not only to landscapes imagery but color grading and application on any photograph. At its core the idea is that certain colors simply work well together and are pleasing to the viewers’ eye when introduced into an image with subtlety. For example, blue and yellow are complementary colors. When the darker tones in an image are “cooler” and the lighter tones are “warmer,” the image is more aesthetically pleasing than if the color tones were simply left to chance.

This is where Adobe Kuler comes in. For one, the Adobe Kuler tool is free if you already have a Creative Cloud membership and you can also install the tool directly into Photoshop (directions provided here). Once installed, it is available by going to Window > Extensions > Adobe Color Themes which creates a new tab in your workspace. How is this useful? The tool provides a built-in color wheel which allows you to create custom complimentary color tones. More importantly though, it contains a ton of color pallets already available for use that follow the “rules” of color theory.

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Fstoppers Reviews the New Best Portrait Lens, the Nikon 105mm f/1.4, By Quentin Decaillet

 Gear  Comments Off on Fstoppers Reviews the New Best Portrait Lens, the Nikon 105mm f/1.4, By Quentin Decaillet
Nov 302016
 

Canon has always been known for its fabulous portraits lenses: the 85mm f/1.2 and the 135mm f/2. I used to own and love both of them, with a preference for the first. When I bought into the Nikon system, I was afraid I would miss these two optics. But truth be told, the Nikon 85mm f/1.4 is at least as good as its Canon equivalent if not better! Regarding the 135mm, that’s a whole different story as the Nikon’s is quite old now. However, they recently announced the 105mm f/1.4, and I had the chance to put my hands on it for a few weeks! Let’s see how it compares with other portrait lenses and if it could potentially replace a 135mm.
Many people regarded the 105mm f/1.4 announcement as very bizarre. The new portrait lens is not extremely different from the 85mm in terms of focal length and most people probably expected a 135mm replacement instead. Nonetheless, the 105mm in itself is an interesting focal length for many uses, especially for someone who owns a 58mm even though they don’t share the same image quality or look at all.

Build Quality
When taking the lens in your hands for the first time, you immediately notice its weight and size. It’s not small by any means. For someone used to the Canon 85mm f/1.2, it’s nothing very surprising, but for Nikon users, it might feel beefy.

Canon 5DII with 85mm f/1.2 vs. Nikon D810 with 105mm f/1.4

Canon 5DII with 85mm f/1.2 on the left and Nikon D810 with 105mm f/1.4 on the right

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500px Launches ‘500px for Business,’ a New Global On-Demand Photography Service

 Marketing, News  Comments Off on 500px Launches ‘500px for Business,’ a New Global On-Demand Photography Service
Nov 232016
 

Earlier in the year, I reported on a photography service that was offering tourists the chance to summon a professional photographer through an app — essentially the photo-equivalent of Uber. Reaction to the concept was mixed, although there’s clearly potential in the idea, as 500px has just taken things up a notch with “500px for Business,” their newly-announced series of photography on-demand services.

So, what differentiates them from other companies offering similar services?

We draw upon billions of data points from social signals on our own site about what images people respond to based on their demographic and psychographic make up… from how Americans versus people from Asia want to see images of Amsterdam, to what kinds of images of coffee women like versus men.

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Five Things Fuji Missed With the X-T2

 Gear  Comments Off on Five Things Fuji Missed With the X-T2
Oct 122016
 

Fujifilm recently released the updated version of their flagship DSLR-styled mirrorless body, the X-T2. There are plenty of great things to be said about this new body. However, after a few weeks of using it, I’d like to share with you and Fuji a few things I’d like to see fixed or changed in the next firmware update.

The Menus

Although perhaps not as convoluted as the menus on Sony cameras, the X-T2 menu system is starting to go that way. Simple things seem to be buried very deep — things like formatting your memory card. The new menu has a cleaner look, but I find it to be overly complicated when compared to the older menus on the X system. Although this is not the place to provide a full list, I feel that some things could be pulled out from the third-tier menus up to the main tier.

Saving the Focus Settings

I’ve written about this before. It seems like such a simple thing. When I’m using AF-S, I like to use my camera in single point AF. When working in AF-C, I like to use 3D tracking. I very rarely switch away from these two settings for my day-to-day work. However, the Fuji system keeps the focus mode and drive mode absolutely separate. This means that every time I switch to AF-C, I also need to switch the focus mode to 3D tracking. Then, when I switch back to AF-S, I also need to change the camera back to single point focus. This is a two step process that could be a single step.

Flat Picture Profile

With all the effort Fujifilm went to in order to improve their video integration, the missed some things that would be really useful. I am a huge fan of Fuji’s film simulations. I love them. Classic Chrome and Velvia make the shooting experience more fun just by having them. However, that’s not what I always want for video. A flat profile would be really great. Of course, you can create a similar effect by pushing shadows and pulling highlights in camera, but simply being able to switch to a flat profile would be so much simpler. Of course, then there’s F-Log.

Internal F-Log Recording

HDMI output only? Really? This feels like something Sony might charge you an upgrade price for. However, we can hope that the Fuji engineers will find a way to incorporate it through firmware. The hardware is there, so presumably, it’s just heat dissipation that they’re finding to be a problem. The F-Log footage looks great, so hopefully we’ll see that in the next firmware upgrade!
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We Compared the iPhone 7 Plus Camera to a Nikon DSLR

 Apple, Gear  Comments Off on We Compared the iPhone 7 Plus Camera to a Nikon DSLR
Oct 122016
 

Another iPhone has hit the market and once again Apple has claimed that its camera creates “DSLR quality pictures.” I never believe when any cell phone manufacturer makes this claim, so I decided to put it to the test.

The iPhone 7 Plus has two cameras on its back: one 12 MP sensor has a wide-angle lens with optical stabilization and excellent ISO performance, and the other has a standard/telephoto lens with poor ISO performance. Our iPhone cost us around $1,000 but we certainly can’t claim the camera itself is worth that much. It’s one of many included features of this smartphone and therefore we couldn’t compare it to a $1,000 DSLR. We decided to compare this phone to a Nikon D300s and a Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 lens. Both cameras shoot 12 MP files and both of them have a wide to standard “zoom” range. On eBay this kit sells for around $500. Honestly this is still too expensive to be a “fair” comparison because the camera in the iPhone certainly isn’t half of its value, but it’s what we had available.

Image Quality In Ideal Light

Winner: Nikon D300s

I expected the Nikon to absolutely destroy the iPhone in this test and I was shocked to see how well the iPhone’s wide-angle camera performed. If you printed both of these files out, I’m not totally sure you would be able to pick out which is which, but if we zoom in to 100% on a computer we could tell the iPhone had more grain and noise than the Nikon.

Camera Speed

Winner: Tie

The Nikon D300s shoots at 7fps but the iPhone seemed to shoot around 15fps. That being said, the iPhone didn’t give us manual control and chose a slow shutter that produced blurry images. In short, the iPhone is faster but the Nikon got the better shot.

Shallow Depth Of Field

Winner: Nikon D300s

Once again the iPhone lost but was still quite impressive. The new “portrait mode” on the iPhone allows you to create a fake shallow depth of field that looks quite convincing, especially for web use. One major downside is that the longer lens on the iPhone used in this portrait mode does not perform well in low light.

Video Quality

Winner: iPhone 7 Plus

This test wasn’t even fair. The D300s was one of the first DSLRs to ever shoot video and it can shoot a very poor 720p. The iPhone shoots an incredibly crisp 4K. It’s amazing to see just how far technology has come in seven years.

ISO Performance

Winner: iPhone 7 Plus

This was the biggest shock to me by far. I never would have believed that a cell phone could beat a DSLR, even if that DSLR was seven years old. Well, the iPhone was extremely impressive in low light and easily beat the ISO performance of the D300s.

Versatility

Winner: Tie

This is a tough one to judge. A DSLR will obviously give you access to unlimited accessories like lenses and flashes, but the iPhone has access to the App Store. Currently, many apps are allowing you to shoot raw on your iPhone 7. If you want to shoot a long exposure, a DSLR is your best bet, but if you want to do almost anything else, an iPhone probably has an app available.

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Fstoppers Reviews the Phottix Mitros+ TTL Hotshoe Flash

 Gear  Comments Off on Fstoppers Reviews the Phottix Mitros+ TTL Hotshoe Flash
Oct 042016
 

When getting into flash photography, it’s easy to look at camera manufacturers’ flagship flashes and assume they are the best you can get. When I first started out, I made this exact assumption. But I always wondered how some of the cheaper hotshoe flashes would hold up against these higher priced competitors. So I ordered a few Phottix Mitros+ flashes and put them to work.

Build

The overall build of the flash is very similar to other high-end brands. It feels sturdy in my hand and I have dropped them from decent heights on more than one occasion without any problems (not that I recommend it, but it’s nice to know they can handle an accident or two). Overall the flash has a lot of similarities to other brands. The head swivels up and down and rotates side to side, there is an AF assist light, built in wide panel diffuser and bounce card, backlit display panel, and most other features that you would expect in a hotshoe flash.

Phottix Mitros with Magmod Grip attached

One of the main build features that I haven’t seen on other flashes is with the locking mechanism on the hotshoe. Most flashes have a switch or a lever that drops down a pin in order to lock the flash into place on your camera. This flash has the same feature, but in addition, it has a rubber gasket that also drops down that creates a more sturdy lock. This really comes into play when mounting the flash onto a cold shoe for off-camera lighting. Before, when using flashes with just a dropdown pin, the flashes would be locked into place but would still feel loose and wobbly. With this rubber dropdown, the flash feels very sturdy and there is zero play between the flash and the cold shoe.

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