Thursday, August 27, 2009

Vivitar DF 383 Review


The Old:
The Vivitar 285HV flash was (and is) truly the cockroach of flashes. It was pretty tough. So back when it was re-launched back in 2007 everyone was very excited. Sadly, the 285 eventually started suffering quality control issues. Most of them work fine, a few people have complaints. I've had mine for a year or so, and I love it. But there were a few issues (lack of 1/8th power, 70's appearance, lack of TTL.)

The New:
Enter the Vivitar DF 383. Released very recently by vivitar, it's like the younger, and better looking, but less healthy version of the 285. What makes this flash so great, is it features ETTL (which any die-hard strobist will say is ew but some people like having a flash on camera in a pinch)it's also got 1/1-1/16 (including 1/8th power.) The features don't end there though. Sadly, the got rid of a sync port, so if you were to want to use a cactus trigger you'd actually have to mount your flash on it. It's not quite compensation for this but the 383 does feature a slave sensor. For some one who's already got a flash or 2, and uses them off camera, this could be handy, no need to buy another receiver.
Zoom:
Also a nice feature is the automatic (power zoom.) Theres 2 zoom modes. A (auto for use in TTL if you want) and M. In A if you're using Ettl on camera, if you zoom in nothing happens until you half press/press the shutter button. In order to enter Manual zoom you press the zoom button once, it goes into M and zooms out to 24mm. Press it once more for 28mm (then again for 35, 50, 70, and 85mm) one more press and back to auto. The zoom is a bit noisy, and slow, but it's power zoom!

Exposure Calculator:
Anyone who's ever used a 285HV knows about that really neat calculator on the side. Put in your ISO, f-stop, and power and it gives you distance at which you can shoot. Well, the DF 383 offers this too! on the LCD on the back (you'll see it in the video.) The LCD is also lit up when you press the light button, Although as I mention in the video, it's not lit very well.

Build Quality:
The DF383 isn't quite a cockroach like it's older brother. It's built fairly well, and looks a bit more modern but vivitar is still roughly a decade behind on style(doesn't look like a 580exII or sb-900--but hey thats not important.) My biggest built issue is with the on/off and s(slave)/off switches on the back, they just feel a little cheap. The foot is made of plastic, so I'm curios as to how that'll hold up. (I'll tweet/post if&or when it fails.)

The Verdict:
The Vivitar DF 383 is a great flash for someone looking for a first time flash who wants Ettl and to try some off camera stuff. It could also be a good compliment to any one's flash set (especially if you're using say, 285HV's {which have gone up in price, so this is only $29.00 more at the moment.}) The color temp is right about where flash would be, in fact, in shooting with this and the 285 the 285 had a much warmer tone.

Build: 17/20
Handling: 18/20
Specifications: 18/20
Value: 20/20
Overall: 91% I highly recommend this product!
Pick it up@ B&H

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Lightroom Galleries

Lightroom is a photographers best friend. It's perfect for cataloging images, and your color/sharpness adjustments, and converting RAW images all without photoshop. Lightroom, also has the ability to create some awesome web galleries.

Now a lot of us have Flickr's so why do we need this? Well when I go on a trip, or do a shoot, or what ever I often have lots of keepers. Rather than flood my flickr with a bunch of mediocre photos (like I did with the Moose River Plains Trip) why not put them in a lightroom gallery? Galleries are also good, for presenting images that are similar.

I like to keep mine to a low(er) number of photos. No more than 50 for sure, that's way to many! I've made 2 so far that I've uploaded and they've been 20 and 10 images. They've all been related, and I hope they've sort of told mini-stories. (my "Gone Fishin' gallery didn't as much as the other)

Here are my 2 sample galleries:
20 Photographs from Washington, DC
and 10 Photographs from an early morning fishing trip

As you can see, I prefer the flash galleries, and I've been uploading them to my server, and giving them subdomains (e.g. galleryname.jacoboconnell.com.)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Induro ABO tripod Review

Alright so a few days ago, I purchased the Indruo ABO Adventure Series tripod, and I guess looking back now I didn't put a video up (check back tomorrow.)But this is going to be my short little review of the tripod.

The first thing I'm going to say is if you're like 6ft+ tall, this might not be the tripod for you. It's got a maximum height of 56.9" (144.5cm) and I'm not that short, so it's a bit short for me, but with the battery grip, it's no biggie. It's got a load capacity of 10.3 lbs (4.7kg) now to put that in perspective: the 40D with 28-135mm weights in at 1.6lbs (740g) if I'm not mistaken, and the grip is just under a pound at 10.2 ounces(290g) so we're talking a mere 2.2lbs(1.03kg) with grip and lens so that leaves us with around 8lbs(3.67kg) to play with and to give more perspective the 70-200 f/2.8 IS weighs in at 3.5lbs, So you can do a bit.

Now that's a lot of quantitative stuff, but we can all look that up so I'll tell you about the qualities. Again it's short, folded and extended, folded it's great. It's so tiny you could (and I did for my 2 day trip in the wild) leave it under the seat in your car. As short as it is it's also super light weight, at just 2.7 lbs (1.2kg)you could carry it all day and not notice anything. Again just to prove it I did, up 2 mountains. The Case it comes with is quality, I haven't had any problems so far with the case it self, very comfy very padded. So basically, I'll say the tripod and case are great for someone who's a bit short on cash (Only $135--which sounds like a lot but keep reading) but wants a quality tripod (aren't you sick of that crappy 'Dynex' from best buy-yeah I figured) or for someone who already has a $400 Manfrotto but doesn't want to carry around that beast.

So there's gotta be a downside right?
Yeah, there is sorta. I'm not going to lie, I love it, but the levers aren't the strongest I've ever used. I think if you're not super super abusive it'll last a while, but it's been less than a month for me. Another problem lies with the ballhead. Now frankly, I'd been skeptical, been using 3-way pan heads since 2004, and until I got my DSLR they were fine, then they weren't strong enough. I was worried the ballhead would slip a lot--it didn't. I infact like it a lot. My problem lies with the lever to adjust tension. it's a little hard to tighten on the tight end, that's expected I guess. So to loosen it you have to yank kinda hard and in doing this I snapped off a little bit--the piece that stops you from going over loosening. At first I was very very upset, it'd been literally less than 12 hours. Then I realized it was sort of a pain anyway and that got it outta the way. Now the thing to be cautious of is completely unscrewing the ballhead, but that takes a lotta turns. Now I wouldn't recommend breaking it off if you buy one, but if it happens, you can live without that bit, you might like it better. If not--theres a 5 year warranty.


To sum it up:

It's very portable, it's very stable. The leg levers aren't, well lets just say, titanium but, they're not "dyenx" either. The head is strong and there isn't slipping at all (but see above) The quick release plate is a bit small, but at the same time it's kinda nice. it's a great tripod, probably more so for someone who's on the go, walking a lot, I wouldn't suggest it for like shooting 3/4 portraits in a studio.


Got Questions?

Leave'em in the comments! Or how about tweeting me on Twitter? I'll get back to 'ya.