Archive for the ‘Sunpak LED-160’ Category

Old business. New business.

November 18, 2019

The following quick-and-dirty photograph shows an array of gear used for off-camera flash photography, including a Canon 580EX II Speedlite, Godox X1R-C radio receiver for Canon, Godox X2TF radio transmitter, and Godox X2To/p radio transmitter. This photo will be used to illustrate some old- and new business.

An array of gear used for off-camera flash photography.

Old business

In my last blog post, entitled Pass-through hot shoe, I wrote…

…the Canon macro flash is compatible with Panasonic bridge cameras with one caveat: TTL is incompatible, so it’s manual mode flash only.

Look closely at the Godox X2T-series of radio flash triggers shown in the lower-half of the preceding photo. Notice the pass-through hot shoe on top of both units features one pin — the power pin. Therefore the X2Tx units can be used to trigger a flash mounted on the pass-through hot shoe but no other communication is possible between the camera, X2Tx, and shoe-mounted flash.

When a Canon flash is mounted directly on the hot shoe of one of my Panasonic superzoom bridge cameras, or one of my Fujifilm X-series cameras, the center power pin on the flash and contact on the camera are aligned so the flash can be triggered in manual mode. The other pins on a Canon flash might touch some of the contacts on the cameras, but the pins/contacts aren’t used for the same purpose from one brand to another so they don’t work. As a result, flash features like TTL and high-speed sync might not work. Essentially, it’s as if the camera hot shoe has only one pin — the center power pin.

Related Resource: Answering Your Godox X1T Questions, by alex silva photography (7:10). Ignore the fact that this video was made for the Godox X1T-series radio flash triggers — the X1T and X2T are essentially the same. Fast-forward to 3:03/7:10 for a segment related to mounting a flash on the pass-through hot shoe; the segment ends at 4:00/7:10.

New business (What’s old is new.)

The first two external flash units that I bought are Canon Speedlites, including the Canon 580EX and Canon 580EX II. Neither flash unit is radio-capable — they can be used off-camera but it’s optical master and optical slave mode only for these two flashes. Both Canon flashes cost ~$500 each when new. Although I bought the flash units lightly-used, they hadn’t depreciated much, and as a result, I paid several hundred dollars for each one.

During the past year-or-so, I switched to the Godox TT685-series of external flash units. Not only does each Godox flash cost approximately one-fifth the MSRP for current Canon flashes, the Godox units are radio-capable.

Mounting my Canon 580EX II Speedlite on a Godox X1R-C radio receiver converts the Canon flash to a radio-controlled flash unit that works like any Godox TT685-series flash. Interfaced with an X1R-C, the Canon can be set and triggered remotely by radio from both the Godox X2T-series and XPro-series radio flash triggers, or even another Godox TT685-series flash set for master mode.

The Canon 580EX II — the newer model of my Canon flashes — is fully-compatible with the Godox X1R-C; the older Canon 580EX is incompatible.

For $40 — less than half the cost of a new Godox flash — I was able to repurpose one of my old, reliable Canon flashes. How cool is that? Very cool!

Related Resource: Godox XPro TTL Flash Trigger [REVIEW], by steeletraining (10:53). This video covers three points that might be of interest to readers of my blog.

  • Godox X1R-C receiver (enables use of newer Canon flashes with Godox system)
  • cross-brand compatibility among Godox flashes and radio flash triggers
  • TCM Function, Godox XPro-series radio flash triggers

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Sometimes you just need to stop…

February 20, 2019

…and smell, er, see the roses. Seriously, man doesn’t live by odonates alone!

The following gallery features several photos of a Valentines Day gift of appreciation from The Beacon of Groveton. Nearly a week after the red rose was delivered, it’s beginning to show a little “character.”

19 FEB 2019 | BoG Photo Studio | Valentines Day rose

19 FEB 2019 | BoG Photo Studio | Valentines Day rose

19 FEB 2019 | BoG Photo Studio | Valentines Day rose

Tech Tips

The subject was posed in front of a black background — the lower door of the refrigerator!

The following equipment (shown below) was used to shoot the preceding photos: Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera; Fujifilm MCEX-16 extension tube; Fujinon XF80mm macro lensGodox XProF TTL Wireless Flash Trigger for Fujifilm cameras; and a Godox TT685C Thinklite TTL Flash for Canon Cameras fitted with a Lastolite Ezybox Speed-Lite 2 flash modifier. A Sunpak LED-160 Video Light was used to add fill light to some of the photos.

Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 was used to spot-heal and sharpen the final output.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

“Generic Baskettail” (definitely not a Cruiser)

February 18, 2019

larva/nymph in the Family Corduliidae (Emeralds) was collected by Bob Perkins on 02 December 2017 from a pond in Orange Park, Florida (USA). The larva died before it metamorphosed into an adult.

As you can see by looking at a close-up image of the face-head at 3x magnification, there is no horn on the face of the specimen. Therefore this individual is not a member of Family Macromiidae (Cruisers), as I speculated in my last blog post.

“Generic Baskettail” larva (preserved specimen) | face-head

Knowing the limits of our expertise

Although I still need to key out the specimen carefully, at this point I’m certain Bob is correct — the larva is a member of the Family Corduliidae (Emeralds). The question that remains unanswered is “Which genus/species?” We may never know the answer, as Bob and I have reached the limit of our experience and expertise.

I did a quick scan of Paulson’s [book], looking at the Emerald Family. Here, according to the range maps, are the possibilities for Orange Park [FL]. I believe you can see why I stopped at “generic basketttail.” Source Credit: Bob Perkins.

What do you think the identity is? Most of the items in the preceding species list feature links to photos of odonate larvae/exuviae. See the links to BugGuide from the scientific names in the list.

Related Resource: Test shots: “Generic Baskettail?”

Tech Tips

Four (4) photos were used to create the preceding focus-stacked composite image. A single focus point was positioned over the face, between the antennae. At a magnification ratio of 3:1, it’s difficult to manually focus on a single point — the slightest movement around the macro rig changes focus unintentionally. A simple work-around for this problem is to take several shots of the same focus point and create a composite image of the photos.

The following equipment was used to shoot the preceding composite image: Canon EOS 5D Mark II digital camera, in manual mode; Canon MP-E 65mm Macro lens (set for f/16 at 3x); a Canon MT-26EX-RT Macro Twin Lite set for “Master” mode, and a single external flash set for “Slave” mode — a Godox TT685C Thinklite TTL Flash fitted with a Lastolite Ezybox Speed-Lite 2 flash modifier. A Sunpak LED-160 Video Light was used to add fill light to the top of the subject.

Auto power-off was disabled for the camera and external flash units.

Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 was used to create the focus stack, as well as spot-heal and sharpen the final output.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

“Post Focus” image: toy dinosaur

February 8, 2019

A toy dinosaur was “photographed” at BoG Photo Studio using my new Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 digital camera set for “Post Focus.”

The camera was set for ISO 100 and Aperture Priority at f/2.8. Two Sunpak LED-160 Video Lights plus a Nissin i40 external flash unit (set for video light) were used to light the scene. 30 individual frames were extracted from the resulting MP4 video, and saved as TIF files; Adobe Photoshop was used to create the following focus-stacked composite image.

A plastic toy dinosaur.

Noise (graininess) has been a problem in some previous test shots using “Post Focus,” due to low light (underexposure). I changed the ISO from AUTO to 100 for this test, opened the aperture all the way to f/2.8, and added a third LED light source.

This is the first time I tested “Post Focus” and felt like the camera had a mind of its own! Nonetheless, the final output turned out OK. Further research and experimentation is required in order to understand what happened and why.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Test shot: Cordulegaster sp. larva

February 1, 2019

Bob Perkins collected and reared a larva/nymph from the Family Cordulegastridae (Spiketails). The larva died before it metamorphosed into an adult.

Test shots of this beautifully preserved specimen (Cordulegaster sp.) were taken using a relatively small aperture of f/16 for greater depth of field. The following photo is a “one-off,” that is, not a composite image.

Cordulegaster sp. larva (preserved specimen) | face-head

Odonates are aquatic insects. They spend most of their life as larvae that live in water; this stage of their life cycle can last from a few months to a few years. Finally, they emerge from the water and metamorphose into adults in order to reproduce; their offspring return to the water and the cycle begins again.

Most larvae go through 10-13 stages of development known as “instars.” The author lacks sufficient experience to identify the instar of this specimen, although it appears to be one of the later stages.

Related Resources

Tech Tips

The following equipment was used to shoot the preceding photo: Canon EOS 5D Mark II digital camera, in manual mode; Canon MP-E 65mm Macro lens (set for 3x); and Canon MT-26EX-RT Macro Twin Lite set for “Master” mode, and several external flashes set for “Slave” mode including Canon 580 EX- and Canon 580EX II Speedlites and a Godox TT685C Thinklite TTL Flash fitted with a Lastolite Ezybox Speed-Lite 2 flash modifier. A Sunpak LED-160 Video Light was used to light the underside of the white plastic posing “stage.”

Auto power-off was disabled for the camera and all external flash units.

Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 was used to spot-heal and sharpen the final output.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

“Post Focus” images: Shadow Darner dragonfly

January 30, 2019

Bob Perkins collected and reared a Shadow Darner dragonfly (Aeshna umbrosa) larva/nymph. This blog post features two focus-stacked composite images of a beautifully preserved specimen of the adult that emerged from the larva.

Each composite image was created from 30 TIF files extracted from a one-second MP4 video of the subject, “photographed” using my new Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 digital camera set for “Post Focus.”

This individual is a male, as indicated by his terminal appendages and “indented” hind wings (shown above). All male dragonflies have three terminal appendages, collectively called “claspers”: the two cerci are missing (they broke off the terminal end of the abdomen during shipping); the epiproct is intact.

Shadow Darner (Aeshna umbrosa) | dorsal-lateral view

Takeaways

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from on-going experimentation with Panasonic “Post Focus” is that the process continues to impress — it works quickly (typically one second or so) and works well, using lightweight, inexpensive equipment for making composite images of acceptable quality.

What’s not to like? The obvious answer: The image quality isn’t as high as comparable images created using HEAVY and EXPENSIVE camera gear in the controlled environment of a photo studio. On the other hand, I know from experience I’m unlikely to lug all of that gear into the field. I call it a BIG WIN to have found a relatively lightweight, inexpensive camera kit that does essentially the same job almost as well!

The next test: Use adult dragonflies in the wild as the subject. Regrettably, that will have to wait until the first odonates begin emerging during early spring.

Related Resources

Tech Tips

The following equipment was used to shoot the “photos” for creation of the composite images, shown above: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 digital camera set for “Post Focus“; and two Sunpak LED-160 Video Lights.

Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 was used to create the preceding focus-stacked composite images, as well as spot-heal and sharpen the final output.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

More testing: Panasonic “Post Focus”

January 28, 2019

A toy dragonfly was “photographed” at BoG Photo Studio using my new Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 digital camera set for “Post Focus.” Two Sunpak LED-160 Video Lights were used to light the scene. 30 individual frames were extracted from the resulting MP4 video, and saved as TIF files; Adobe Photoshop was used to create the following focus-stacked composite image.

A plastic toy dragonfly.

The test shots featured in my last blog post, and this one, were taken in order to establish the proof of concept that Panasonic “Post Focus” can be used to quickly (well, everything is relative) create high quality focus-stacked composite images. After limited testing, I can say the process works fairly well.

The next test: Use a preserved specimen of a real adult dragonfly as the subject. Please stay tuned for my next blog post.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Testing: Panasonic “Post Focus”

January 25, 2019

My new Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 features some significant upgrades over my DMC-FZ150 such as a touch-screen LCD, built-in WiFi (enabling remote control of the camera using the “Panasonic Image App“), 49 focus points, and 4K video, to name a few. Perhaps the most intriguing new feature is what Panasonic calls “Post Focus.”

“Post Focus” can be used to change the focus point after a photograph is taken, in camera. OK, that’s astounding! But wait, there’s more.

With “Post Focus” enabled, the camera is used in the same way as when you’re shooting still photos. In reality, the camera records a small movie clip in 4K video at 30 fps (4:3 aspect ratio) every time you press the shutter button.

The 4K movie recording function is used to record roughly one second of MP4 video at 30 frames/second. During this recording, the camera’s autofocusing system scans the lens around the subject, moving from the foreground to the background to cover the entire scene. … It’s like a sophisticated form of focus bracketing and produces a movie clip containing about 30 frames. Source Credit: How the Panasonic Post Focus function works.

One reviewer of photography gear opined the process is too slow to be useful in real-world situations; in contrast, my first impression is the process works surprisingly quickly.

An MP4 file can be opened in Adobe Photoshop in order to export individual frames from the 4K video clip; the files can be saved in either JPG or TIF format. In turn those files can be imported into Photoshop to create a focus-stacked composite image, such as the one shown below.

A plastic toy Pterodactyl, 6.5″ in width.

A toy Pterodactyl was “photographed” at BoG Photo Studio using Panasonic “Post Focus.” One Sunpak LED-160 Video Light was used to light the scene. 30 individual frames were extracted from the resulting MP4 video, and saved as TIF files; Adobe Photoshop was used to create the preceding focus-stacked composite image.

I think Panasonic “Post Focus” shows great potential for enabling the production of high quality focus-stacked composite images when photowalking, without carrying a lot of photography gear into the field.

Related Resources

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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