A colorful collection of spring photos
Swiss lighting brand broncolor has announced a range of diffuser panels for its softboxes that help to create a rim light effect when the subject is positioned in front of the softbox. The Edge Masks feature a large black panel in the center of the diffuser that prevents light from passing, but leaves strips all the way around the panel for the flash to pass through. The idea is that people posed in front of the panel will appear on a black background but highlighted with a rim of light all around them.
The panels are designed to replace the usual white diffuser of the softbox, which is removed when the Edge Mask is in place. The effect is relatively easy to achieve using any softbox and a panel of black material, but these are a bit more convenient and look more professional.
The company has also launched a 110cm parabolic umbrella that can be used to vary the focus of the reflected light. The umbrella has a particularly long arm that allows the light source to be placed at a range of distances from the reflective material.
The Edge Masks come in a range of sizes and are available now, as is the Focus 110 umbrella. The Edge Masks are priced from £42/$54 to £84/$113, while the umbrella costs £150/$210.
For more information visit the broncolor website.
New Light Shaping Tools - Edge Masks & Focus 110
Hot on the heels of the new Siros L battery powered studio monobloc, broncolor have also released two brand new lights shaping tools - the Edge Mask diffuser and Focus 110 umbrella.
Using the broncolor range of softboxes just became even more creative and flexible. The new Edge Mask helps turn the rectangular sizes of the softboxes in to a rim light, allowing for subjects to be photographed in-front of and against the softbox, with the light wrapping around the subject from behind. This is a popular technique previously only created by flagging off the softbox with a board, but the Edge Mask provides a professional, easy and uniform method for creating the effect. Simply attach the Edge Mask to your existing softbox as you would an external diffuser.
The new parabolic Focus 110 umbrella (110cm diameter) provides a quick an easy way of producing a focusable parabolic light effect. Simply pop it up and use the lamp heads umbrella holder to slide and focus the shaper.
Pricing and availability
The new Edge Masks and Focus 110 are ready and available to ship now!
33.612.00 - Edge Mask for Softbox 35 x 60 - £35 ex. VAT
33.613.00 - Edge Mask for Softbox 60 x 100 - £40 ex. VAT
33.614.00 - Edge Mask for Softbox 90 x 120 - £50 ex. VAT
33.615.00 - Edge Mask for Softbox 120 x 180 - £70 ex. VAT
33.576.00 - Focus 110 - £125 + VAT
At the Cannes Film Festival, HumanEyes Technologies unveiled the Vuze VR, a consumer-grade 360-degree camera for VR applications. The camera was used to record the recently screened 3D VR short movie Summertime, and is now available to pre-order for $799 USD. In addition to capturing 3D stereoscopic content for VR platforms, Vuze VR can record 360 degree 2D video.
Vuze VR is equipped with eight cameras capable of recording full stereophonic audio and 360-degree Full HD video in both 2D and 3D. Each camera is fitted with lenses that capture a 120 degree FOV horizontally and 180 degree FOV vertically. When the videos are stitched together, the resulting video has a 4K resolution.
The camera is small at 12 x 12 x 3cm (4.7 x 4.7 x 1 in.), and features what HumanEyes calls ‘near real time processing,' with each minute of footage requiring one minute of processing. The camera supports both PCs and Macs, and can be remotely controlled using related iOS and Android apps.
The Vuze VR camera can be pre-ordered now for $799 from the product’s website. Shipping to buyers is estimated to start in October 2016.
The Nikon D500 is a 21MP APS-C DSLR capable of shooting at up to 10 frames per second and featuring an autofocus system derived from the one in the D5. In other words, it’s exactly the kind of high-end DX format body that appeared to have become extinct with the D300S.
The six-and-a-half years that have passed since the D300S’ launch have seen the camera market move on considerably but the D500 does much to reclaim the position as one of the pre-eminent APS-C camera on the market.
As you might expect, much of the improved capability of the camera centers around sports and high-speed shooting, with significant upgrades to the shooting rate and autofocus system, but there are also major upgrades to the viewfinder, video capabilities and connectivity options which expand its utility beyond one particular niche.
- 20.7 MP APS-C (DX Format) sensor
- 153 point AF module with 99 cross-type points
- 180,000 pixel RGB sensor for metering and subject recognition
- AF point joystick
- 10 fps shooting for up to 200 shots (lossless compressed 14-bit Raw to XQD card)
- 4K (UHD) video from 1.5x crop of sensor
- 100% coverage viewfinder with 1.0x magnification
- 2.36m dot tilt up/down touchscreen
- Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity with NFC for setup
- Mic and headphone sockets
- USB 3.0 connector
- Anti-flicker option for working under artificial lighting
A good sport
Much of the D500’s capability is built around the ability to focus and shoot very quickly. Its 153-point AF module offers near full-width coverage and is linked to a 180,000 pixel RGB metering sensor to further improve its AF tracking capabilities. Interestingly, and like the D5, the D500’s AF system now offers two parameters for fine-tuning the autofocus tracking behavior, letting the user specify the type of subject movement and the correct response to another object blocking the targeted subject. Existing Nikons only let you specify duration, suggesting Nikon is trying to expand the range of shooting situations for which the AF system can be optimized.
Only 55 of the camera’s AF points can be directly selected and the D500 gains both a joystick and a touchscreen to make it as fast as possible to select the point you want to use. Add to this the ability to shoot up to 200 Raw frames before slowing down (if you use an XQD card), and it becomes obvious that the D500 is intended as a high-speed pro/semi-pro camera in a way the D7000 series never was.
|How's that for coverage? The D500 doesn't just boast a lot of autofocus points, it also offers them across most of the width of the frame, which is useful whether you're manually selecting a point or letting the camera track your subject.|
The D500 also gains an anti-flicker option designed to ensure the camera shoots in-sync with the brightest point in the flickering cycle of artificial lights. It's a feature we first saw on the Canon EOS 7D Mark II and we'd expect it to be particularly valuable for shooting indoor sports such as basketball.
Another sign that this is a true high-end camera is the inclusion of a larger viewfinder. Like previous DX00 class cameras it has 100% coverage but it also offers 1.0x magnification, which is the largest optical viewfinder we can remember seeing in an APS-C camera (electronic viewfinders are a different matter, since size and brightness isn't constrained by sensor/mirror size).
The D500 can also shoot 4K video and includes both an input for using an external mic and a headphone socket for audio monitoring. The camera also offers a flat picture profile to provide more post-processing flexibility, on-screen highlight warnings and power aperture control that allows you to select and change the aperture when in movie mode. There’s no focus peaking option, though, and you can’t zoom-in while you record to confirm or adjust focus as you record.
One of the other big features Nikon is touting is its Snapbridge system that uses Bluetooth LE (a low-power variant of Bluetooth also known as Bluetooth Smart), and Wi-Fi to maintain a connection between the camera and a smart device. This includes the ability to auto-transfer images from the camera, as well as initiating the Wi-Fi connection for remote shooting or manual image transfer.
To show where the D500 sits in the lineup, here are the major feature differences between it and the less expensive D7200, along with a comparison back to the D300S – not because we expect anyone to be choosing between them, but to show how much of a step forward the camera represents.
|Nikon D500||Nikon D7200||Nikon D300S|
|AF points||153 (99 cross type)||51 (15 cross-type)||51 (15 cross-type)|
|Max frame rate||10 fps||
|Buffer depths||200 lossless compressed 14-bit Raw||
~17 14-bit Raw
|30 lossless compressed 14-bit Raw|
|Shutter durability rating||200,000||150,000||150,000|
|Wi-Fi?||Yes (and Bluetooth)||Yes||No|
|Body construction||Magnesium Alloy + Carbon fiber composite||Magnesium Alloy + Carbon fiber composite||Magnesium Alloy|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||1240 shots/charge||1100 shots/charge||950 shots/charge|
|Weight (Body Only)||760g||675g||
|26 April 2016||Studio scene and Raw dynamic range published.|
|16 May 2016||Introduction, Body and Handling, Operation and Controls, Wi-Fi and Connectivity and Video pages published|
|25 May 2016||Autofocus, Loose Ends and Conclusion pages added. Review finalized|
A substantial upgrade comes to this spherical 360 VR camera
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Get 185-degrees of coverage with this add-on lens
The fixed lens camera market may be a bit niche, but it's here that you'll find some of the best cameras you can buy. Sensors ranging from APS-C to full-frame are designed to match their lenses, which cover ranges from 28-75mm equiv., so image quality is top-notch.
This segment includes both pocketable models without viewfinders to 'best worn over your shoulder' cameras with unique or ultra-high-resolution EVFs. There's a gigantic spread in pricing, as well. The Fujifilm X70 and Ricoh GR II can be had for under $700, while the Leica Q sells for nearly $4500.
For those who want to zoom with their feet, here are the fixed-lens cameras we think are worth a look:
Brian May, guitarist with the band Queen and a stereo photography enthusiast, has launched a kit that allows users to view 3D stereo pairs and virtual reality content on a smartphone for just £25 (approx. US $37). The OWL VR Smart Phone Kit is an adaptation of a traditional Victorian-style stereo viewer sold by May’s London Stereoscopic Company. Instead of inserting card-mounted stereo pairs, users fix a plate to the viewer’s aperture that holds the smartphone in place. May says that the device provides a much better value alternative to standard VR headsets, and it is more adaptable and of higher quality than low cost models. It's in much the same vein as Google's Cardboard VR and other budget-friendly viewers designed for Google's VR app.
The OWL has a rigid structure but folds flat for storage, is made from ‘high-grade’ polypropylene and features ‘high quality’ lenses with adjustable focus. The adapter allows access to all the phone’s controls while it is in place, including the headphone socket so audio can be enjoyed during 3D movies and VR experiences.
Although not in continuous existence, the London Stereoscopic Company was founded in 1854. Over the years it created and sold stereo equipment and cards showing scenes from all around the world. Its fortunes have undulated along with the popularity of stereo photography, and was dissolved a number of times. It was revived in 2008 to promote and preserve the work of the photographer Thomas Richard Williams. Brian May has been one of the directors of the business since 2008.
The OWL VR Smart Phone kit will be available from June and will ship internationally. For more information visit the London Stereoscopic Company’s website.
Virtual Reality from Brian May. It’s real.
Lifelong stereoscopy enthusiast and collector, and, incidentally, world-famous rock guitarist, Brian May this month launches the OWL VR Smart Phone Kit, a Virtual Reality and 3-D stereo image viewer that brings all the excitement of VR within reach of anyone with a smart phone.
Brian’s London Stereoscopic Company has been supplying his unique original patent OWL Stereo Viewer to 3-D enthusiasts since 2009, enabling a whole new audience to view the company’s reproductions of classic Victorian stereo cards, as well as the originals, plus recently released astronomy and Queen-focused 3-D images. The OWL has been recognised and adopted by 3-D organisations world-wide, as a high quality immersive device.
The new OWL VR Smart Phone Kit takes the existing OWL Stereo Viewer and, through use of a simple but ingenious adaptor, enables its use with a smart phone not only to view online 3-D images, but also those taken by the user, and commercially available virtual reality content. Manufactured from high-grade polypropylene, and fully collapsible to a thin flat configuration, the OWL is supplied ready for use in seconds. Its carefully positioned high-quality optical lenses, plus fully adjustable focus, present every user with the ideal optical geometry for perfect viewing of side-by-side 3-D images.
Working with any smart phone, the OWL VR Kit has a significant advantage over most other VR devices, which are usually tied to just one particular make or model of phone. And, in contrast with most of the low cost viewers available, the OWL kit offers full access to the controls on the phone at all times. Access to the headphone socket is also unobstructed. This is particularly useful when using the OWL to watch virtual reality films of concerts, or other content with a soundtrack. It also enables users to connect their smart phone to a home cinema system to generate surround sound to complement the 360° 3-D visuals.
Commenting on the launch, Brian May said, “Virtual Reality has taken the consumer electronics world by storm over recent months and masses of content is now rapidly becoming available. However, until now, users have had the choice of an expensive VR viewer that puts it out of reach of many people or a very low cost alternative that just doesn’t do the format justice.” He continues, “The OWL Smart Phone Kit changes all that; for a very modest outlay, anyone can now enjoy the VR experience, and also gain access to the fascinating world of Stereoscopy. Plus, with the apps that are available for smart phones, it’s now possible to take your own 3-D images and enjoy them instantly using this simple OWL Kit.”
The OWL Smart Phone VR Kit will be available from mid June 2016 for £25, direct from