Maggie Rogers Returns With Stunning “Fallingwater” Video
Maggie Rogers has released the video for her latest single “Fallingwater”, a slow-burning gospel-esque number co-produced with Vampire Weekend member Rostam Batmanglij that puts her distinct vocals at the forefront. The clip, directed by longtime collaborator Zia Anger and filmed at the Imperial Sand Dunes in California, sees her floating across the sprawling desert, a fitting setting for the equally sprawling track, and serving joyous choreography. As the track works toward a soft yet intense…
Review: The Sigma 70mm f/2.8 Art is a Macro Lens Worthy of Your Bag
The Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Art Macro is the first prime macro lens to sport Sigma’s “ART” badge. Unlike most of the Art lineup, the size is closer to the Contemporary lineup of lenses. Sigma themselves say that this lens is designed with optical quality as a priority over autofocus speed.
Sigma’s old 70mm macro came out back in 2006, was discontinued in 2014, and was loved by many macro shooters. Can the new 70mm Macro Art make the cut? Sigma sent us a sample of this lens (in Canon EF Mount) for a few days to try out. Read on to see what we thought.
Design & Specs
13 elements in 10 groups
9 aperture blades
Aperture range f/2.8-f/22
Minimum Focusing Distance – 10.2” from sensor
49mm filter size
4.2” long collapsed
Available in Canon EF/Sony E/Sigma Mounts
Focus by wire
Compatible with Sigma Teleconverters (N/A for Sony E)
Compatible with Canon Lens Aberration Correction
At first look, the Sigma 70mm Macro is quite small compared to most of the Art lenses. Weighing in at just over 18oz, it’s only 4oz heavier than Sigma’s 16mm f/1.4 Contemporary for Sony E/M43 mount. This makes hand holding the lens an easy task compared to some of the macro lenses on the market.
Unlike Sigma’s 105mm macro, the 70mm does not have built-in stabilization but is also about half a pound lighter. Also, unlike the 105 (and the old 70mm), the 70mm Art uses a focus by wire system, a first for the Art lineup (DN lenses excluded). While it takes some time to get used to it, after a bit of toying around, it does make fine tuning the focus point manually a bit easier and more precise.
There are 2 sets of switches on the lens – one for AF/MF, and a focus limiter. The lens mount features a rubber gasket to provide some weather and dust sealing, but with the extending barrel, I’m not sure I’d be using it in the rain or snow.
The focusing ring is smooth and has a long throw due to its focus by wire system. This ends up being a double-edged sword. It’s great for fine tuning the focus point without overdoing it, but if you want to go to 1:1 magnification, it does take some time having to twist the barrel. Unfortunately setting the focus limiter does not make the lens automatically extend to that range – maybe this is something that Sigma can incorporate with a future firmware update?
When Sigma said that their main focus was resolution/quality vs AF speed, there were concerns that this lens would be slow or inconsistent when focusing. While it’s no speed demon, it’s also no slouch. Having used macro lenses from Sigma/Tamron/Nikon/Canon/Fuji/Sony in the past, the AF speed/accuracy is pretty average. The closer you get to 1:1, the more it begins to hunt.
There were a few instances where it seemed to get lost and wouldn’t focus (90% of the time it was when the limiter was on full), but most people using this lens will throw it into manual focus, go to 1:1 and move their way in towards the subject until it’s in focus, or at the very least use the focus limiter which helps the lens lock down focus faster.
When autofocusing, the AF motor is fairly quiet. There are quieter lenses out there, and there are louder lenses out there (the first lens that comes to mind is the noisy Sony 50mm f/2.8 Macro). If you’re using the lens for video in a silent setting, there’s a good chance you’ll hear the AF motor, but when using it outside it’s not likely to scare off any creatures you choose to photograph.
Like most of the Art lenses, the 70mm is designed to be sharp throughout the entire aperture range. Even though the DoF is extremely thin at f/2.8, the in-focus area is nice and crisp.
The following images were taken with a Canon 80D and Canon 6D Mark II. Other tools used while shooting were: LED Macro Ring Light, Focusing Rail & AF Extension Tubes (from ProMaster), a Westcott Ice Light 2, and a Savage Edge Lit Pro Video light.
Stabilized Photos (Tripod/Macro Rail)
Sigma Macro + 12mm Extension Tube
Initially, I was on the fence about this lens – partly due to the focus by wire system, and partly due to the shorter focal length (my personal favorite macros are the Sigma 150mm, Canon 100mm, and Sigma 105). After using it for a few days and getting used to the way it works, it had changed my mind.
With its smaller weight, carrying this lens around through a field of flowers or a garden for a few hours is easy to do. The image quality of this lens is great. Even in higher contrast situations, there wasn’t much (if any) chromatic aberration. The bokeh is smooth and doesn’t distract, the AF speed is acceptable when using the focus limiter, and the price is reasonable at $569 – oddly enough, the same price as the Sigma 105mm Macro after instant rebate.
If you’re looking to add a new macro lens to your arsenal or looking to get into macro photography, the 70mm f/2.8 Art Macro is definitely worth a look once it hits store shelves.
The Canon mount is expected to ship mid-June (pre-order here), the Sony FE mount release date is TBD (pre-order here).
About the author: Ihor Balaban is a photographer and store manager of the camera store Pixel Connection in Avon, Ohio. To learn more about the store, head over to the Pixel Connection website. This post was also published here.
Bøen purchased his Hähnel HLX-EL15HP battery and charger back on March 19th. Hähnel bills itself as one of the “leading manufacturers of power products” for digital cameras.
Once home, Bøen plugged the charger into a USB wall socket and began charging the battery for the first time. About an hour later, the battery suddenly burst into flames.
“Luckily, I was in the same room and after 30 seconds the unit was carried outside the house,” Bøen tells PetaPixel. “No major damage was made except for a lot of smoke and some fragments to be cleaned.”
Here’s what the battery and charger looked like in the aftermath:
Bøen then brought the charred battery and charger back to his local store, which got in touch with Hähnel, which requested that he ship the burned equipment to its headquarters in Ireland for investigation. That was at the end of March.
This week, Hähnel’s findings were finally delivered to Bøen. The company concluded that the charger was definitely not the cause of the failure, placing the blame solely on the battery.
“The battery failure in this case is classified as a ‘field failure’, which because of best practice at all stages in the manufacturing process, are very rare, but also are not predictable and not detectable through quality control procedures,” Bøen tells PetaPixel. “New technologies and techniques are constantly being researched but these ‘field failure’ mechanisms are inherent in all lithium-ion batteries.”
Here’s the official conclusion from Hähnel’s investigation:
One cell in the HLX-EL15HP short circuited internally and went into thermal runaway. This is very rare, but inherent, failure mode in all lithium-ion batteries.
So basically, the company is saying that every lithium-ion camera battery out there, including those manufactured by Nikon itself, could have failed in exactly the same way.
“We should be careful during the first charging process,” Bøen says. “The most important message when using new equipment related to charging is:
Do not leave it alone.”
Hähnel provided Bøen with a free Pro Cube 2 charger and two replacement batteries as a gesture of goodwill, but Bøen says that he also received a Nikon brand battery from the store after the incident.
Sony Unveils EVF with 1.6x Resolution Increase and 240fps Refresh Rate
Sony has announced a new OLED electronic viewfinder display with a huge increase in resolution thanks to the world’s smallest pixel pitch of 6.3µm. The viewfinders in Sony mirrorless cameras will soon be both sharper and faster.
The ECX339A OLED Microdisplay is a 0.5-inch display with UXGA resolution (1600×1200), the highest in class for its size. Thanks to its world’s smallest pixel pitch, the display has 160% the resolution of Sony’s previous model, the Sony ECX337A, a 0.5-inch display with QVGA resolution (1280×960).
Here’s a comparison of how much more resolution Sony’s new EVF display has compared to its previous one:
A new drive circuit design in the display also uses half the voltage, allowing the ECX339A to use the same power consumption level as its predecessor despite its hefty increase in resolution.
The new display also has a refresh rate of 240fps, double what its predecessor offers.
“This [faster frame rate] has made it possible to capture fast-moving subjects in the viewfinder with higher accuracy, so users will not miss a photo opportunity, delivering a more comfortable shooting experience,” Sony says.
“OLED Microdisplays are widely used in digital camera electronic viewfinders (EVF) for their superior high contrast, high color gamut, and high-speed responsiveness,” Sony says. “Sony, having achieved this high resolution and high frame rate, now offers even more realistic image display and accurate capture of subjects for use in high-end cameras that demand extremely high image quality.”
Sony is planning to ship ECX339A OLED Microdisplay starting in November 2018 with a price tag of 50,000 JPY ($460) before tax. No word on when we’ll be seeing the display in a Sony mirrorless camera viewfinder, but it seems likely that it’ll be appearing in 2019.
Now Sony is hoping to overtake the likes of Canon and Nikon by March 31, 2021 as the industry’s “top camera brand,” but it’s unclear what standard Sony is measuring “top” by.
The company also observes that there has been a “revitalization of the mirrorless camera market” — thanks in part to its technological advancements — and that one of the trends in the camera industry is that its competitors are becoming “more aggressive in the market.” Canon and Nikon are both reportedly planning to launch their first full-frame mirrorless cameras within the year.
Google Photos’ Object Removal is MIA Because It Got Deprioritized
Google wowed attendees at its I/O developer conference last week with a number of AI-powered photo technologies, including automatically colorizing black-and-white photos with one tap. But there’s one impressive feature teased at last year’s event that hasn’t arrived yet: object removal.
The demo can be seen at 10:40 in this video of the 2017 keynote:
But that feature has yet to arrive in Google Photos, and there was no mention of it at all when the latest impressive AI features were demonstrated last week.
“Is this a case where the company’s vision-based machine learning powers finally ran into a wall?” wrote The Verge last week. “Maybe AI isn’t as good at filling in the missing pieces as Google initially expected it to be. Perhaps the results are lackluster compared to a human diligently working with the Clone Stamp tool.”
But XDA-Developers sat down with David Lieb and Ben Greenwood (Google Photos’ product lead and product manager, respectively) and asked them about this MIA feature. Their answer: the feature simply got deprioritized as other more important features showed up.
“While the technology is certainly available and can be deployed, the team approaches building their product by prioritizing what’s most important for people,” XDA-Developers writes. “Hence, the Photos team prioritized other applications of machine learning above this feature.”
There’s still no word on when or if Google plans to release object removal in Google Photos.
Peeping Toms Using Camera Drones to Spy on You, TODAY Warns
As if camera drones haven’t gotten enough bad publicity lately thanks to reckless operators flying them near airports, at airplanes, and into helicopters, The TODAY Show just aired this alarming report on how peeping toms are using camera drones to spy on you in your home.
In the 4.3-minute segment above, TODAY reports that creepy incidents have been reported nationwide, including drones peering at young girls through a bathroom window, spying on a woman in her high-rise apartment (who says she “then realized [she] had no clothes on”), and being used by a man arrested for voyeurism.
“If a drone were spying on your in your home or backyard, would you even know? Not necessarily,” TODAY writes. “TODAY national investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen stages a revealing demonstration to show how easily you could become a victim of a ‘peeping drone’ – and explains what you can do about it.”
“I gotta unsubscribe after this one, cover something worth while. No one does this, all you do is ruin it for hobbyist that would never waste time trying to peep on someone. Get real …. FAKE NEWS” —chooch tech [#]
“Lolol what a joke. I can assure you the avg drone operator isn’t trying to spy on you.” —MMM Productions [#]
“Grossly over dramatized, but then, what is not over dramatized now in the media? That is how they make their money. The average flyer is no more interested in what’s going on inside your house than the average pedestrian! A very small percentage of hobbyist flyers would even fly in a residential environment, preferring to choose much friendlier open spaces.” —gerbear [#]
“What a load of horse dung! Where is the audio of the drone? You may not see it but you sure would hear it if it were that close to your house. Come on Mr. Rossen..” —Thomas Groark [#]
Helmut Lang Releases Latest Artist Collaboration
Yesterday, Helmut Lang unveiled the fifth installment of its Artist Series, a 12-part project begun by erstwhile Editor-in-Residence Isabella Burley. For the most recent installment, the brand cited three works by Carrie Mae Weems, a MacArther and Guggenheim-winning photographer known for her documentation of the black experience. The collection features Weems’s most seminal body of work, “Kitchen Table Series” (1990), in which the artist captured herself and loved ones engaged in intimate…
Nobuyoshi Araki Accused of Abuse and Exploitation by Long-Time Model KaoRi
Inspired by the #MeToo movement, Nobuyoshi Araki’s long-time model KaoRi has publicly accused the renowned Japanese photographer of misleading her into working without a contract, distributing pictures of her around the world without her knowledge or consent, and failing to compensate her fairly for her time or for her her role in Araki’s work.
KaoRi modeled from 2001 to 2016 for Araki, who mythologized her as a favorite muse. On April 1, a Japanese blog published her detailed first-person account of her working relationship with Araki, including her accusations against him. KaoRi’s piece was translated with permission by Alisa Yamasaki and re-posted on Medium on May 1.
Noting that her relationship with Araki was “only photographer and model; we were never lovers,” KaoRi says she naively believe “someone so famous would never treat me poorly…I sacrificed myself by being polite.” She also says she was initially caught up in the photographer-muse narrative promoted by Araki and his acolytes: “I felt like I was contributing to his art,” she says.
But KaoRi says she ended up being objectified and exploited. “[H]e would tell made up stories about me in TV and magazine interviews, create and sell one book after the other without me knowing, give them titles like ‘KaoRi Sex Diary’ without my consent, make me pose in extreme ways in front of audiences, take all the credit for my performances,” she writes. Because of the stories he told about her, she says, “I was constantly hurt by daily harassment and stalking, fake videos of me disseminated on the internet, and friends who believed in the lies.”
KaoRi worried that the mental and financial stress she was under would result in serious illness. But when she asked Araki for better working conditions, he by turns ignored her, blamed her for her predicament, and bullied her.
Their relationship ended acrimoniously in 2016, at which point KaoRi was so caught up in the myth of the tragic muse that she was on the brink of suicide. When the #MeToo campaign began in the US, “I realized that I didn’t need to devote myself to his lies anymore.” She adds, “I don’t want any more models hiding behind the mask of art, hurting in the shadows.”
KaoRi offers an apology at the beginning of her piece to Araki’s fans: “If I end up destroying the dreams of photography fans, I’m sorry. Whether you believe my story or not, regardless of the Me Too movement, if you use my story as one perspective to view his art, that’s enough for me.”
Hasselblad Launches Its Widest Lens Ever, The XCD 21mm f/4
Hasselblad has launched its widest lens ever, the new XCD 21mm f/4 designed for the X1D-50c medium format mirrorless camera.
“The high-performing 21mm f/4 lens brings together the compact format of the XCD range with the maximum optical quality across the frame with a wide field of view,” Hasselblad says. “Offering a new versatility to the X1D user, the lens is especially suitable for both landscape and interior and exterior architectural photography.”
The new lens is the 35mm full frame equivalent of a 17mm, and it has a minimum focusing distance of 32cm (~12.6in) with a maximum image magnification of 1:10.
As with other lenses in the XCD system, the 21mm f/4 features an integral central shutter with speeds of 1/2000 second to 60 minutes. It also has full flash synchronization up to 1/2000s.
Passing photos shot with the 21mm through Hasselblad’s Phocus image processing software also produces images with straight lines and no distortion.