Testing the Elinchrom Ranger Quadra

I fell in love with an extremely light (weight) lighting system at a camera show back in December.

In early March, I decided it was time to bite the bullet and acquire this Ranger Quadra kit. Although pricy, having the equivalent of four (4) Nikon SB910 firing at my subject for the cost of only three SB 910s made sense to me. No, don’t ask because I will never know why it made sense; it just did! One has to have a reason to buy a new toy, right? Besides, it is so much lighter than 3 SB910s!

The flash head itself is extremely light, weighing in at 8.8 ounces (0.25kg). The battery pack does weigh a bit, but is an extremely comfortable 3 pounds (1.4kg) over the shoulders. I did carry it for almost five hours last Sunday.

The kit comes with a 5.3” reflector and a diffuser / protective lens over the diffuser. I also purchased the Reflector Adaptor that will accept all other Elinchrom reflectors plus a snoot and a 10-1/4” 50 degrees sports reflector (on e-Bay).

Last week in the Dallas Zoo I carried the gear with the snoot plus grid to photograph some not-so-wildlife. The photos did have something unique…. A bit of a sparkle in most of the animals’ eyes, just what I wanted.

The photos in this link show the performance of the flash with different accessories in front of the bare light. The tree is 55’5” (approx.. 17 meters) from where I set up the tripod, the wall is only 8” further back. Never mind focus, I am looking for light patterns here. All flashes were at the same 100% power setting, 1/250 sec. and f/3.3 on the AI AF DC Nikkor 105mm f/2.0D.

What was immediately visible was the strength of the flash with the 50-degree reflector. By far the most even and powerful light.
I will buy a 7” (17.8cm) 60 degrees Reflector to see what kind of difference this makes and report back once I have it in hand. It might just make the preferred package a lot lighter and allow for on-camera hot shoe operation.

The main thrust for the idea was wildlife in general, safari in particular, and just as a walkabout. I think I nailed it with this setup. I will need to see how it does on the fast setting with birds in flight. I will report back.

Photoshop sneak previews

Looks like the Adobe guys are sending hints of what will most liekly be in the forthcoming release of Photoshop CS 6.

With the increased activity of these these posts, my money is on an April / May release date.

Then, if the Lightroom sliders in Beta 4 are any indication, the new ACR will be even better than it alrady is!

John Nack on Adobe : Photoshop.next sneak #3: Dashed & dotted lines.

Pimping the M9

For months I had a great little gadget on my desk awaiting its mate, the Leica M9.  As soon as the camera got in, the Thumbs Up got mated to the camera and served as promised by the great Leica guru, David Farkas at Dale’s Camera in Hollywood, Florida.

Then came the guys at Really Right Stuff who responded to Leica users’ request to come up with a L-Bracket setup that would allow the camera to be placed in either landscape or portrait orientation.  Since I had already bought these brackets for the Nikon bodies, I pre-ordered mine.

It has been a few weeks now that the RSS bracket and the M9 hooked up.  Unfortunately for the Thumbs Up, it got the boot!  There have been a few complaints from other users about the new setup, but it appears to be a tolerance issue at Leica, not RSS.  My set-up happened to fit beautifully and I have been extremely happy with it.

Anyone with a M8, 8.2 or M9 out there who has wondered about buying one of these…. Don’t!  Go ahead and order yours.  It is a well-designed, and great functioning component.  My setup has all three parts to it.

Leica M9 and the Summilux

Following months of patience, today was a great day. I picked up the new 50mm Summilux from my local Leica dealer, Arlington Camera.
The first opportunity to try the lens was at dinner, where chef JP was preparing another wonderful selection of fresh sushi.

Here is JP at f/1.4 not more than 2 feet from the counter top; ahh the magical bokeh of the Summilux.

Leica M9 Evaluation

I now have had the pleasure of using the Leica M9 on a daily basis for over two months and can only say “wow”. What a pleasure to use this tiny, yet most powerful rangefinder with the magical Leica lenses.

My favorite lens by far has been the 35mm Summicron that I use about 70% of the time. The rest of the time I have used a 90mm Elmarit dating back to 1965, a 200mm tele lens dating back to the 1970s, and the incredible 24mm Summilux that is just outstanding at all aperatures.

The magic of Leica, one I had not experienced since the mid 70’s is all in its glass. The new M9 with a powerful Kodak sensor that is not obstructed by a low-pass filter (as used by Nikon or Canon) produces the most incredibly sharp images. Something I had been missing since the film days!

Here are some images shot with the M9:

Leica with the 90mm Elmarit at f/2.8 Tack sharp eyes, and the rest out of focus!

The 35mm Summicron at f/8