Gadgets & Gizmos

SONY HAS RELEASED not one, but two 600mm lenses, the longest full-frame lenses in its range. In addition to a prime 600mm f4 lens, which will undoubtedly be expensive and possibly pushing $20,000, the more versatile FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS, at a little over $3000, (we expect) is much more affordable!

Add in a 1.4x and 2.0x teleconverter and you now have up to a full-frame 1200mm super-telephoto! So, why the 200-600mm and not the 600mm prime? We have no doubt the 600mm prime will be superior optically, but how much resolution do you need? And if the 200-600mm is anything like Sony’s 100-400mm, you’ll be more than happy with the resolution and clarity on offer. We think this is a great Sony lens for sport and wildlife photographers – the perfect lens for Antarctica or the Arctic!

The 200-600mm has built-in optical stabilisation with three different mode settings and the overall length of the lens does not change while zooming. However, at the 600mm end of the zoom range, the maximum aperture will drop to f6.3, so you may need to push the ISO up a stop or two to compensate, maintaining the fast shutter speeds that will be needed, even with image stabilisation in operation.

Inside, five ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass elements and an aspherical element are arranged in a new optical design that minimises chromatic aberration. An 11-blade circular aperture mechanism is claimed to produce beautiful bokeh (out-of-focus blur), and Sony’s original Nano AR coating should suppress unwanted reflections, glare, or ghosting in images.

The lens is equipped with Sony’s DDSSM (Direct Drive SSM) focusing system, which is claimed to be remarkably fast, accurate and exceptionally quiet. Sony understands the need for quiet on the set, especially in wildlife situations!

The lens is built to be dust and moisture resistant while a fluorine coating on the front element is said to resist dirt and fingerprints. By the time you read this, the lens should be available for purchase and we’re guessing between $3000 and $4000, depending on exchange rates!

For more information, visit www.sony.com.au

Better Productivity & Workflow

EXPAND YOUR CREATIVITY WITH WACOM’S NEW INTUOS PRO!

A special Wacom/Better Photography Promotion

Is the way you’re currently working slowing you down? Wacom’s Intuos Pro Small is here to help! By Peter Eastway.

Using a pen and tablet system for your photo editing will hugely improve your workflow, your productivity and your creativity, but which one is best for you?

While it might be small, it’s probably exactly the right size for photographers. As you can see in the photo above, the Wacom Intuos Pro Small tablet is around the size of an A4 sheet of paper – or the page of this magazine.

It measures 320x208x12 mm, so it’s very thin on your desk and doesn’t take up much real estate. Plus you can use both your fingers and/or the pen to drive it and there are some buttons and a touch ring as well, which means you can operate your software without a keyboard if you wish.

Creative Tool

The Wacom Intuos Pro Small is compatible with both Mac and Windows computers and while it will happily sit at home or in the studio on your desk, it’s also small enough to take with you on a trip.

The tablet and Wacom Pro Pen 2 give you 8192 levels of pen pressure sensitivity, so the size of your brush can be adjusted simply by changing the pressure with which you press down on the tablet – and this is one of the keys to the Wacom Intuos Pro’s success as a creative tool.

Wacom Desktop Centre

When travelling, or even at your desk at home, there are several controls and features on the Wacom Intuos Pro that canstreamline the way you interact with your software, such as Photoshop.

The Wacom Intuos Pro comes with the Wacom Desktop Centre, a powerful app that (among other things) lets you set up the six ExpressKey™ buttons and the Touch Ring.

These keys can be customised to do different things on a program by program basis. For example, my top ExpressKey™ adds a curves adjustment layer in Photoshop, but it chooses the Selection tool when InDesign is open.

ExpressKeys™

There are six ExpressKey™ buttons on the Wacom Intuos Pro Small.

An ExpressKey™ essentially replaces a single or multiple keystroke on a keyboard. Photoshop, Lightroom and Capture One all offer keyboard shortcuts and these shortcuts can be set to the six ExpressKeys™ on the Wacom Intuos Pro Small. And in Photoshop, you can create actions which are assigned to a keystroke, which in turn can be applied to an ExpressKey™, so this becomes a very powerful productivity tool – you can save lots of time when it’s all set up!

In the Desktop Centre, after selecting the program you’re working with (say Photoshop) and the ExpressKey™ menu, click on the drop down box associated with the ExpressKey™ you want to program and select Keystroke – a further dialog box will allow you to set the keystroke and also to type a description for what it does.

The description is useful, especially in touch mode when it will show up in an on-screen dialog to remind you what each of the keys has been set to do!

Touch Ring

You can also customise the Touch Ring in a similar way, except you might as well choose a tool that will benefit from the ‘ring’ component.

For instance, on the Wacom Intuos Pro Small, setting ‘brush size’ as one of the Touch Ring options makes a lot of sense because you can increase or decrease the brush size by tracing your finger around the ring, one way or the other.

Radial Menu

So far so good, but you might find that you need more controls than there are ExpressKeys™. Instead of using the keyboard, you can set up Wacom’s onscreen panels and radial menus.

For instance, when a radial menu is opened, an eight segment circle appears on screen and by clicking on one of the segments with your pen, you activate the keystroke or action.

The trick is to keep at least one of your ExpressKeys™ free to open a radial menu or one of the panels. Similarly, when you are designing the radial menu or panel, you can leave one of the segments free to open up a second radial menu or another panel. Or you can have different radial menus and panels assigned to different ExpressKeys™ – there are lots of options.

It’s this range of different on-screen menus that is the secret to Wacom’s keyboardless power: you can assign as many different functions as you like to a range of different on-screen menus and take complete control.

All without a keyboard. Or a mouse!

So, without any hesitation, we recommend you replace your mouse with a pen for Photoshop, Lightroom and Capture One (and similar programs). Then, as you become comfortable with the pen, we’re sure you’ll use the TouchRing to change the size of your brushes and it won’t be long before you also find a use for those ExpressKeys™ too!

For more information, visit www.wacom. com/en-au. And to purchase a Wacom Intuos Pro Small, visit the Wacom eStore at buywacom.com.au/, or selected retailers.

10% OFF For Better Photography Readers. Use this coupon code in the Wacom eStore BETTERPHOTO10

LET’S FACE IT, on-camera flash can look horrible, so the first thing we do is modify the light with a shaper of some type. Then we take the flash off the camera for a better angle – and then generally we wish we had studio lighting instead! Well, perhaps a new light from Profoto is the answer.

The Profoto A1X is a little more of everything than its predecessor, providing a more powerful battery, faster recycling and Sony compatibility.

The Profoto A1X has up to 450 full power pops per charge with a one-second recharge time, but unlike standard on-camera flash units, Profoto suggests the light produced by the A1X will always be natural and beautiful, thanks to the innovative round head (as opposed to the rectangular head found on most camera flashguns), providing a softer, more gentle fall-off.

Certainly Profoto has refined the way its flash system works, demonstrated by cool features such as a magnetic click-on mount for light shaping tools. There are six tools available that can be used individually or in combination with one another.

Sometimes it can be challenging to see what your flash light is actually doing, so a modelling light can be useful. The A1X has one built into the head, providing flicker-free illumination so you can see exactly what you’re going to capture before you press the shutter. It’s especially useful when operating the flash off-camera, allowing you to see where the shadows are going to fall.

Other features include a 20-channel Air Remote with HSS and AirTTL. The increased number of channels means you needn’t be interrupted at busy events.

The TTL mode essentially provides point-and-shoot simplicity, the A1X calculating the correct exposure for you. However, switch the flash to manual and you can fine-tune the exposure to create exactly the look and feel you want.

On the back, a large high-resolution display makes the unit easy to navigate with big, super-legible numbers. And whether you’re a Sony, Canon or Nikon shooter, the A1X will work happily in tandem.

For more information, visit https://profoto.com/au

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