Monday, July 2, 2018

Red River Paper Summer Sale 2018

Inkjet Paper by Inkjet Experts

My friends at Red River Paper are having a sale on some of their more popular papers:

  • 68lb. UltraProSatin® 4.0 - The Top Selling Red River Paper
  • 68lb. UltraPro Gloss 2.0®
  • 60lb. Polar Matte®
  • 60lb. Pecos River Gloss™
  • 26lb. ColorJet

Click here to learn more.

See more Red River Paper reviews here:

Interested in printing? Check out my printing series page for more articles and reviews!

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

NOTE: This site requires cookies and uses affiliate linking to sites that use cookies.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by making a donation or saving money by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity

Sony RX100 V - Better than an iPhone X?


Sony RX100 V at B&H

I'll admit that since I've purchased my iPhone X last year, I've not been taking as many photos with any other camera. While it fails to impress when you look at images at full resolution, the images on the iPhone size screen and social media make it "good enough" to call it a day for casual shots.

With this in mind, I spent some time in February and March with the Sony RX100 V to see if it would still be worth owning a compact "point and shoot" to complement the iPhone X when quality mattered.

In this article, I share some of my favorite unedited in-camera JPEG shots from the RX 100 V along with some thoughts about the image quality, based on what I see from years of reviewing cameras. Of course, in the right hands the RX100 series will blow away some of the best DSLR shooters, but what about in the hands of a mere mortal like me during daily life?


f/4 @ 183mm for 1/100 sec at ISO 6400

What struck me here was how much detail there was in the rocks and the thin wires hanging from the ceiling - this was a fun shot that made me glad I had the RX100 X on hand


f/1.8 @ 88mm for 1/60 sec at ISO 5000

The dynamic range RX100 V won't be mistaken for a a7R III or a9, but it's  loads better than it used to be a couple generations back


f/4 @ 88mm for 1/25 sec at ISO 6400

If you go full auto and let the camera decide everything for you like you would your cell phone, you'll generally find that it uses slower shutter speeds so that come with a higher risk of disappointment. With that said, the stabilization is very good so I rarely got blurry shots.


f/1.8 @ 88mm for 1/60 sec at ISO 3200

Foodies will love the better bokeh you'll get with the Sony over your high end cell phones like the iPhone X


f/1.8 @ 88mm for 1/60 sec at ISO 4000

Food shots are where I think the Sony is easily the clear winner


f/1.8 @ 88mm for 1/60 sec at ISO 5000

The more shallow depth of field definitely makes the RX100 V the camera of choice for food


f/1.8 @ 88mm for 1/60 sec at ISO 5000
(vs iPhone X)
Here's another great example where the Sony even destroys the iPhone X portrait mode


f/4 @ 88mm for 1/500 sec at ISO 125

Nearly any camera will get a good shot on a sunny day, but I was pleased with the action shots on the playground vs what I traditionally get with my phone


f/4 @ 88mm for 1/500 sec at ISO 125

I think my iPhone X has an edge in burst mode, especially since I'm shooting raw plus JPEG with the Sony, but I still got the shots I wanted in burst mode with the RX100 V


f/1.8 @ 88mm for 1/60 sec at ISO 1250

Even at f/1.8, this is still a small sensor camera so you'll get plenty of depth of field vs more expensive mirrorless and DSLR full-frame cameras


f/1.8 @ 88mm for 1/60 sec at ISO 1000

The advantage of the small sensor means you won't accidentally get a shot that's blurry because of a shallow depth of field, but it also means you have to be more intentional to avoid getting shots like this which look more like a cell phone shot


f/2.8 @ 257mm for 1/200 sec at ISO 125

Here's an example where I was at near maximum zoom with some distance between my daughter and the background, so the result was a nice portrait that is definitely better than what I'd get with iPhone's portrait mode feature


f/2.8 @ 151mm for 1/250 sec at ISO 125

Here's an example where I didn't zoom in all of the way so even at f/2.8 the entire background is way more in focus than I'd like. As such, you can't shoot it like you typically would a full frame camera or you'll end up with shots that look like they were taken with a cell phone - in a bad way

See the full gallery of unedited photos taken for this article

Compared with the iPhone X

I've taken 14,000+ iPhone X photos vs 2000 RX100 V  photos, but I feel I've got a good handle on both.

Generally speaking, I found that the only time you clearly see the advantage of the Sony is when you view the files at full size or print them. If your goal is to just toss a file on social media or only view them on your phone, you aren't likely to see a benefit that warrants an upgrade from  your phone.

Here's a couple concrete examples of shots taken with both close to each other under similar circumstances along with the differences that I see called out in the captions:


f/1.8 @ 88mm for 1/60 sec at ISO 1000

What I see is slightly improved dynamic range and color accuracy in the Sony 



iPhone X
However, iPhone X does a more saturated shot and uses a higher ISO to show more details in the shadows which some might find desirable. The same is possible with the Sony, but it requires a manual exposure that takes a little more effort to dial in.



f/1.8 @ 88mm for 1/60 sec at ISO 2000

If you pixel peep at full size, the Sony is the easy winner of this comparison. However, if you are just posting to social media then the iPhone clearly wins due to less distortion and a sharper text on The Linq hotel


iPhone X
When you view full size you get an image that looks pretty nasty due to noise, but viewing it on a phone or a small size like above makes it not look too bad


f/2.5 @ 108mm for 1/60 sec at ISO 4000

To my eyes, this is one where the Sony was the clear winner for what I was going for. Both shots are hampered by a dirty window in the pod I was in, but I much preferred the exposure choice for the Sony over the iPhone


iPhone X
If it wasn't for the review, I'd delete this one. The only thing I found pleasing about this photo was the purple lights on the Ferris wheel vs the white above, but that was a feature of the Ferris wheel, not the camera

Conclusion

I love my iPhone X and have been using it way more than I should, but this review reminded me that as far as the iPhone has come, so the RX100 series still seems to stay a step ahead. The question then becomes, is it worth spending $998 USD (at the time this article was written) for this camera when you might have a cell phone in your pocket that is "close enough"?

I think the answer for most will be no.

My advice is that if you are going to spend the money, then spend more and get something like a Sony A7 II or Sony a6500 where you can take advantage of interchangeable lenses and better image quality.

For those who want a pocketable camera with more controls over the iPhone, but without the bulk of interchangeable lenses then it make sense to get this camera over any other point and shoot I've ever seen.

Where to Buy?

CLICK HERE to learn more or buy today (or pre-order its replacement the RX-100 VI today)

Other articles you may enjoy

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy these:

Enjoy these and more on the Reviews tab as well as Ron's Recommendations.

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

NOTE: This site requires cookies and uses affiliate linking to sites that use cookies.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by making a donation or saving money by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Reflecting on 10 Years as a Pro Photography Blogger

Wet-Hike-270_041018_IY_HDTV

Click here to read an article I wrote on LinkedIn about my life as a Photography Blogger over the last 10 years.

I've been very quiet this year due to my other work, so I've had no free time to blog. However, this blog hasn't died - it's just in hibernation!

Thanks for your support over the past 10 years!

Thanks,

Ron

NOTE: This site requires cookies and uses affiliate linking to sites that use cookies.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by making a donation or saving money by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity

Monday, March 26, 2018

Review: GNARBOX Portable Backup & Editing System

GNARBOX Portable Backup & Editing System at B&H
GNARBOX Portable Backup & Editing System at B&H

For the past couple weeks I've been giving the GNARBOX 128GB Portable Backup & Editing System some real world testing. Some of its product highlights include:

  • Edit 4K Video from Your Phone
  • View, Edit, and Share RAW Photos
  • 128GB Flash Storage Capacity
  • Data Transfer Rates up to 4GB per Minute
  • 1.92 GHz Intel Quad Core CPU
  • 2GB of RAM
  • USB 3.0, USB 2.0, SD, and microSD Ports
  • Redundant Backup to External Drives
  • Rechargeable Battery Lasts 4-6 Hours
  • iOS & Android Compatible

all for the reasonable price of $299 USD for the 128 GB version and $399 USD for the 256 GB at the time this was written (check here for latest prices).

4GB per minute - yeah, not really

Of all of the claims above, I think the one about the data transfer rates of up to 4GB per minute are closer to theoretical than reality as I couldn't anything even close to that using both CFast 2.0 and XQD using readers that were sold bundled with their respective Canon 1D X Mark II and Nikon D850 camera bodies.

In fact, copying just 133 files (RAW+JPEG combo) at 2.58 GB taken with my 1DX Mark II and copied over via USB 3.0 connection with the Sandisk CFast 2.0 reader took 51 before the red "Transferring Files. Do Not Remove Drive" banner went away (and the task manager reported it was done). It used 1% of the battery life, but when I wasn't copying files the battery level hardly moved. Using the exact same card and reader only took 8 seconds to copy over to my Windows computer, so it definitely isn't as fast as I was hoping.

Copying 1990 files (26.4 GB) from a Sony RX100 V (RAW + JPEG) with the direct SD slot using a SanDisk 64GB SDXC card took a staggering 26+ minutes (~12% battery life) vs 5 minutes 35 seconds using the slow built-in SD slot on my Windows computer. The GNARBOX reported 2 files weren't copied either, but I couldn't see which ones or why. The XQD reader with Nikon D850 files wasn't any faster, but I didn't time it or compare it to the latest Macbook Pro my client was using.

It should be noted that I did have the latest firmware update (1.7.4 3/2/2018) at the time this test was run, and again I was using the blue USB 3.0 port.

Setup

I used my iPhone X with the latest updates and didn't have much trouble setting it up.

Like most devices these days, you start by connecting to the Wi-Fi of the device itself using the password included in the box:

IMG_8436

From there you get the app from the store for the type of phone you have and it links to videos to give you more instructions if you need it.

One thing I thought was odd was that I couldn't rejoin my network - it required me to always connect to MyGNARBOX when I was in the app which meant I didn't have internet access. If I disconnected from its WiFi then I lost my connection to the device itself. Odd.

Connecting to your card or card reader

When you plug in a card via its available slots or you use the USB ports it reports drives like this:

IMG_8439

Sadly, if you have two untitled cards then it doesn't seem to know what to do with them and will only show you the first one no matter which of the entries you tap. I assume this is a known bug that will be fixed in a future firmware update, but the only fix I could find was removing one so it had no choice but to get it right.

Copying Files

Selecting files is fine if you want to select all as you simply do a select all and then choose Copy Files:

IMG_8442

This will be followed by a very stupid warning message that tells you it is Moving files but your files won't be deleted.

Hey GNARBOX folks - that's called a copy! A move is when you copy and then delete, so simply say copy!!!

Since file copy is so slow, I'm happy to report that you can still work while it's copying your files over. When this is happening you'll see a red banner like this:

IMG_8438

You are still free to go look at your other files and running tasks while this is happening though.

Editing Files

Speaking of files, I was pleased to see that RAW files from the Canon 1D X Mark II, Nikon D850, and Sony RX100 V all seemed to be supported. While I couldn't get a full list of what IS supported, the file types supported page seems to be happy to tell you what it doesn't support.

When editing for the first time you get help tips which can be shown again in the future by tapping the question mark icon. Here's how editing looks the first time:

IMG_8445

The support is very, very basic so I wouldn't really consider this much of an editing solution, but if all you need are some very basic adjustments or cropping then it gets the job done - both on RAW and JPEG images.

When you are done with your edits you can export them as shown here:

IMG_8447

This gives you an easy way to save space on your phone until you are ready to export final images to your phone in JPEG format. Unfortunately when you export to your GNARBOX you aren't given a chance to provide a name nor is it super obvious where the file went.

Settings and Mass Storage Mode

When you want to use your GNARBOX with your computer as hard drive you simply need to go to the app  and switch the USB3 mode from Normal to Mass storage. While simple, one does wonder why this is necessary.

IMG_8443

Conclusion

During my 2 weeks with this product I experienced very slow copies, reports that it was done transferring files yet, the files were unreadable or missing when I tried to retrieve them - despite it saying the transfer was complete  AND using the eject feature before removing the drives (with no warnings).

Overall I had high hopes for this product, but in reality I was very disappointed with what I saw. Even though I got mine for free for the purpose of doing this review, I don't feel it was worth the hassle and data losses I experienced. As a result, I have to give this product a Not Recommended rating based on the experience I had with the unit I tested.

This product has great potential and is a good idea, so I hope they figure out how to work the kinks out. However, it's definitely still a work in progress from what I saw.

Where to Buy?

CLICK HERE to learn more or buy today.

Other articles you may enjoy

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy this one:

Enjoy more on the Reviews tab as well as Ron's Recommendations.

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

NOTE: This site requires cookies and uses affiliate linking to sites that use cookies.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by making a donation or saving money by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity

Thursday, March 22, 2018

WPPI 2018 - Las Vegas Highlights

This past February I had the opportunity to go out to Las Vegas for the WPPI Conference & Expo for Wedding & Portrait Photography where I got to catch up on some of the latest offerings in the industry.

Below are a few highlights of what caught my eye at this years show.

Sony A7 III

Sony a7 III at B&H

By far one of the biggest hits of the show was the announcement of the Sony a7 III which features much of the goodness of the incredible Sony a9 that I loved, but at a fraction of the price.

Basically you lose the higher resolution viewfinder & display, flicker free faster burst mode and a little on video performance, but not too much more. What you get in return is an incredible camera for (barely) under $2000 USD, so it's a fair trade off.

Given what I saw, and the incredible performance of the a9 and a7R III that I loved, I expect this to be a very popular camera.

Sony a7 III at B&H - Rear View

Oh and yes, early reports are that it does feature noticeably  improved dynamic range performance over its predecessor. However, you'll have to wait for my review before I can confirm that to be true or not.

Canon 470EX-AI

The surprise show stealer for me was the revolutionary Canon Speedlite 470EX-AI which made me the most excited I've ever been for a flash before! This auto self adjusting flash head finds the best bounce angle on its own and ensures a pro caliber flash shot nearly every time - or so it's told.

In practice, I did find it to be quite good but I was in an environment with incredibly high ceilings so I couldn't get a proper bounce without the assist of someone holding something above my head to bounce off of.

Yes, it works - very well so I can't wait to get one of these to review!

This is no gimmick - enjoy the couple of videos I did here to show how it really does work!

CLICK HERE to learn more


Canon M50

Canon M50 at B&H

While there was much buzz on the web about the announcement of the Canon M50, I was highly unimpressed at what I saw.


Canon M50 at B&H

Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art

Sigma 14-24mm Art at B&H

I've been a big fan of the Sigma Art series primes, but the zooms haven't impressed me nearly as much. As a owner of the amazingly awesome Canon 11-24mm, I couldn't help but be interested in seeing what Sigma had to offer with its new 14-24mm zoom to compete with the legendary Nikon 14-24mm.

The price is right and it's definitely got great build quality, but I couldn't really do much with it at the show. It definitely has promise, so I may have to check this one out.

See my other SIGMA Art series reviews:

Do It Yourself Book Printing on Epson SureColor Printers?

Dual Sided Epson Paper? It Might Happen!

Epson SureColor printers have been a big hit and their quality on the Epson Legacy Series and Epson Signature Worthy is second to none.  However, if you've wanted double-sided printing or a book you've had to go elsewhere.

Epson is considering changing that and they are looking for your feedback, so leave me some comments if you think they should do this.

They are considering a double-sided paper as shown above, plus partnering with third parties on some software like the one shown below:

IMG_8155

To help stick it all together, they'll work with some third party products like this one:

CoverBind: Bindomatic Accel Flex Thermal Binding Machine at Amazon

The early prototypes showed promise, but there's definitely some kinks to work out before this is ready to replace your current book provider. However, the idea has merit and I'm excited about it.

Are you? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

PLEASE NOTE: You only need to post once and your comment WILL NOT appear until I've approved it. This is to avoid the massive amount of spam posts I get. As such, any comments with links will automatically get rejected.

ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1

on1-photo-raw-2018.1-now-available-1024x576

My friends at ON1 showed me the latest improvements in 2018.1 and I've got to say that it's really starting to come together for this product. When they first made the switch to the Photo RAW series product it felt like it had lost a lot from its predecessor products, but it's making incredible strides to not only catch up with Lightroom but to leap frog it!

on1-photo-raw-2018-overview-1024x576

Check out this video to see overview to see what I mean:

Click here to learn more - and my discount will automatically be applied to ensure you'll get the lowest price possible!

Conclusion

While there definitely seems to be a down turn in photo editing software products at the show, there was still plenty to see and enjoy. Even if you aren't a wedding photographer, this is a fun and worthwhile show to attend to learn more about the latest new products. There's also a ton of great images to see from some very talented photographers, so if you are looking for an excuse to visit Las Vegas (and who isn't?!!!) in February, then save a spot on your calendar for WPPI 2019 next year!

Where to Buy?

CLICK HERE to learn more or buy today.

Other articles you may enjoy

See more reviews on the Reviews tab as well as links to my favorite products on Ron's Recommendations.

Disclosure

If you make a purchase using links found in this article, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you a penny more, but it does help to support future articles like this.

NOTE: This site requires cookies and uses affiliate linking to sites that use cookies.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by making a donation or saving money by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity