Unboxing – Rotolight NEO 3

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Back in December I said I was going to get myself a Rotolight NEO 3 and here it is.

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Having this side by side with the Westcott Ice Light that I purchased in 2015 shows how much the world of lighting has changed in seven years. And you can also see the size of it compared to a Nikon SB900.

Profoto launched the C1 light in September 2019 and back then, I wasn’t impressed with it and now even less so.

Courtesy of Profoto

In my eyes it is an expensive version of the type of light you can easily pay less than £10 for in any DIY store. And just like the Ice Light, the internal battery will need replacing at some point.

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Speaking of batteries, the one that comes with the NEO 3 has a USB port which I’m assuming is for charging. They are calling it a 750 with 44.4Wh which is more than my 770 battery from Hedbox which is a 32.6Wh. The Rotolight battery is also slightly taller than the Hedbox 770 but not as tall as the 970 which is a 48.8Wh.

Courtesy of Profoto

Having a light that can produce different colours to set a mood in a photograph has been of great interest to me lately. Buying sheets of gels that I only need a small bit of or purchasing the light specific manufacturer gels like the ones by Profoto is limiting. I mean why carry these individual gels when the NEO 3 has the ability to replicate more colours than what I currently own.

If you can’t find the colour you want in Gels mode you can always pick the colour in HSI mode. I think I’m going to be spending hours trying out all the permutations of hues and saturation levels.

Playing around with the menus there is a wifi mode that needs further investigation and I will also have to see what the phone app can do.

I don’t know if it is just my light, but it doesn’t run silent. There is an electronic buzz from the moment you turn on the light and changing the fan modes makes no difference. So luckily I’m not planning to be shooting any videos any time soon in which this noise might spoil the sound.

My initial impression is that I won’t be using this light as a standalone piece of equipment. For me it will work best when combined with other lights to give the set a splash of colour. Or using multiple NEO 3 lights set at different intensities of the same colour.

NEO 3 does go to show the level of research and development that has been going on in the world of lighting over the past few years. Mastering these new and exciting tools is going to take time but will be well worth the effort.

Gobo

One of the things I dislike about the Pixapro EF-Mount Optical snoot is that the gobo holder and the gobos are a non standard size. This means having to purchase the ones produced by the company. It is very limiting and not many of their gobos appeal to me.

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The gobos are sold in sets of four by Pixapro and if the ones you want are in different packs it is tough luck. You will need to splash the cash on the gobos that you might not want and will never use.

So it was good to find a company like GoboPlus that can provide a holder for use with M size gobos.

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M size gobos do work with the holder that comes with the optical snoot but you have to tape them in. So having this new holder means that I can now use any M size gobo without any fuss.

Unboxing – Pixapro EF-Mount Optical snoot

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Westcott recently launched the Optical Spot by Lindsay Adler which I was interested in getting so that I could create seriously hard cuts in my lights. What put me off from getting it was the high price. So it was nice to see a cheaper alternative of the Pixapro EF-Mount Optical snoot.

What is this device you ask? Well, it is piece of equipment that attaches to the front of your light in which you can add gobos and the lens focuses the light. So a longer lens gives a narrow beam and a wider lens gives more spread. By changing the focus of the lens changes how sharp the image of the gobo is projected. Basically it turns your light into a mini projector.

One of the other reasons why I did not fancy getting the Westcott Optical Spot is that I don’t own any EF lenses and I think that the lens that comes with it is a bit too long. Seeing that Pixapro sell a Nikon convertor it was an easy choice to make. However the convertor I ordered is on back order with an estimated delivery of 8 to 10 weeks.

Luckily I have access to a Canon 35mm f1.4 that I have borrowed for the night from the office. I just wanted to see how well a lens will balance on my Profoto lights.

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I do feel that attaching it to my Profoto B10 Plus makes it a bit uncomfortable. The centre of gravity doesn’t feel like it is over the stand I used. But with the higher power it might be a better choice. It is something I will have to test once I get the lens convertor. Using the smaller B10 feels a lot safer.

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Opening the boxes there are no instructions so I had to guess that I had to change the mount that was attached to the Optical snoot for the Profoto one by taking out the three screws.

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I also got the adjustable framing shutter blades and you do have to be careful with them. Out of the box a couple of the blades had slipped out of their slots making them not open fully. Getting them back in soon solved the problem but was confusing for me at first as I was disappointed with the limited shapes it was only making.

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I’m looking forward to getting the Nikon convertor so I can really see what this piece of kit can really do.

Profoto Barndoor

It might sound a bit strange that even though I’ve had my Profoto B10 lights for some time I have not tried to see how well the barndoors cut light.

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As you can see, they don’t cut light very well. There is a lot of spill coming from all the gaps.

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When I got the Profoto OCF II barndoor I said that I liked the previous version because it had cut outs for sheet gels and diffusion. And it is true that the disadvantage of this is that they are a source for light to leak.

No matter how hard I try I don’t seem to be able to get a really good clean cut from either version of these doors. Blocking the gaps with my hands does seem to stop some of the spill, so getting black cinefoil might work. But I do wish these doors were better designed, especially at the price you have to pay for them.

1 March 2022 My Profoto OCF II barndoor is broken. One of the doors have come off because the plastic hinge has snapped.

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To be fair, Profoto gave me a full refund a few weeks after I purchased it. In the email from the retailer I purchased it from I was told this:

Information about the recently launched 101127 OCF II Barndoor.

Unfortunately, we have identified that the quality of this product does not live up to normal high Profoto standards.

So be aware if you see any secondhand versions that you aren’t getting one of the very early batch.

Fujichrome v Ektachome

I took one roll of Fujichrome Provia 100F and one roll of Kodak Ektachrome E100 and shot them in the same light with the same settings using the same camera.

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Fujichrome Provia 100F
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Kodak Ektachrome E100

Then the best frames from each roll was professionally scanned by drumscanning.co.uk. The supplied TIFF files were changed from 16 bit to 8 bit then saved as JPEG and then uploaded to Flickr. No colour corrections or other adjustments were made. Yes, I know I need to fix the light leak in the film back.

To my eye, I can’t tell any difference. There might be a bit more red in the Ektachrome but not something that would bother me or make me choose one film over the other.

I found it an interesting experiment anyway. Not many photographers, that I could find, have done a side by side comparison with these two films on a portrait shoot. I’ve managed to find landscape shoots but not portrait shoots. Which makes me wonder if I would have a different result if I had taken these pictures on a sunnier day.

Adapter for Hasselblad V-Mount lens to Nikon Z-Mount camera

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To prepare for which ever Nikon Z camera body I’m going to get, I decided to get a lens adapter for use on the Hasselblad lenses I already own. It makes sense to have the option to use the glass I already own.

Yes, I will probably get some native Z lenses but in the meantime the new camera will at least work out of the box without wasting money on a kit lens. I don’t fancy needing to part exchange the kit lens or finding room at the bottom of my camera bag.

The Z mount has allowed Fotodiox the ability to create this adapter. Something that was not technically possible with the F mount.

I was thinking of showing you more pictures of this adapter but as I don’t have a camera there doesn’t seem to be any point. I’ll update this page when I properly get to use the adapter.

Wish list – December 2021

I haven’t done one of these in a long time. Looking back at the last one took me down the path of getting the Hasselblad film cameras. Will this wish list be just as ground breaking?

So what did I want Santa to have brought down the chimney? Honestly, I don’t think Santa could have worked his magic this year. The equipment I would love to have doesn’t yet exist. There might be secret prototypes of what is in my mind but there are no final production versions.

With the first orders shipping out of the Nikon Z9, I am wondering what the Nikon Z8 will look like. The Z9 is clearly a replacement for the Nikon D6. Looking back, online reviewers at the time were really hoping that the D6 would pack the technology inside the Z9 but it was not to be.

Knowing what we know now, I wonder if the only reason the D6 was launched in February 2020 was so that there would be a new high end camera for the Tokyo Olympics that had been scheduled for that year. In the end we got to see the first glimpse of the Z9 at the Tokyo Olympics that took place this year.

When I look at the Z9, I will very rarely be in a situation in which I will need that much fire power. Yes, I would love to be able to use the focusing technology of the Z9 but I don’t need to burn up memory cards in a few seconds flat. So I am hoping that the Nikon Z8 will be a camera for the slower, considered situations and retains the best things that make the Z9 such a great camera.

The Z9 has a UK price of £5299 and I am hoping there is a lower price point for the Z8 that is in the same region as the launch price of the D850 at £3499.99. I can not justify spending over five thousand pounds on a camera that is not my daily workhorse.

Realistically, if the Z8 is THE camera that meets my needs, I am not sure if I will have the spare cash for any native Z lenses. But high up on my Z lens list would be an 85mm f1.2 (which also isn’t out yet). And in the meantime I will have to get a FTZ adapter to use the lenses I already own.

There is no question that I will be going to the Nikon Z system. Be it the Nikon Z8 or a full frame Z fc but I’m waiting for a camera with a closer match to the features I’m personally looking for.

Profoto and Nikon

Courtesy of Profoto

When Profoto and Nikon announced that they would be collaborating in a vague press release back in November, in my mind it made a lot of sense. And now with the latest announcement that the Nikon Z9 is fully compatible with the Profoto AirTTL products it would seem that Nikon won’t be bringing out a dedicated flash unit for the Z9 camera.

The last high end Speedlight Nikon launched was the SB-5000 which was announced on the same day as the D5 in January 2016. There was no Speedlight for the D6 camera. Which was probably the first sign that Nikon was moving away from creating in house flash units for their cameras.

My experience with the Nikon Speedlight range has been disappointing since using Profoto equipment. I have said in the past that the colour accuracy of the Speedlights I own hasn’t been great.

Seeing other photographers choosing the Profoto A series units over the SB-5000 it really is the right logical move for Nikon to stop research and development into a product line that would always come in second place to Profoto.

I don’t own any Profoto A series units so I can’t tell if there has been a firmware upgrade for them to work with the Nikon Z9. At the time of writing, there is no firmware upgrade for my Air Remote TTL-N for Nikon. I can only speculate that Nikon made sure the Z9 worked fully with it before shipping the Z9 out.

I really am excited to see what new things this collaboration brings in the months and years ahead.

Rotolight NEO 3

Courtesy of Rotolight

I’m excited about the Rotolight NEO 3 coming out next year. A powerful small LED that can run off the standard Sony NP-F type battery is something that interests me.

Side note, according to the company, it is not recommended to use the flash mode with non Rotolight batteries as the draw on the battery may cause issues. Non Rotolight batteries are fine in continuous mode.

Courtesy of Rotolight

The issue I have with my Westcott Ice Light is swapping out the internal battery when it no longer holds a charge. It seems like a complex thing to do that will involve getting parts shipped from the manufacturer.

And being able to swap batteries to maintain a lighting setup is very important to any professional assignment. Messing about with a piece of lighting equipment that has run out of juice is never a good look.

Courtesy of Rotolight

The price and weight of the NEO 3 is also much lower than my Profoto B10 lights. Three of these lights are about the same cost as one B10 and my spine will thank me too. The NEO 3 weighing in at 354g compared to 1.5kg for the B10.

Another advantage of the NEO 3 over both the Icelight and the B10 is being able to change colour without the need to place gels in front of the light.

I’m not one of the Kickstarter backers, so I won’t be one of the first to get my hands on the NEO 3 but I do hope to be able to get it as soon as I can.

Nikon Z9

Courtesy of Nikon

I’m not the first or am I going to be the last person to be talking about the Nikon Z9 camera.

All I know about the camera is what I have seen online so there is very little point in me adding anything to what has already been said.

What I do know is that this is the first Nikon Z camera that has got me wanting one in my camera bag. I wasn’t really interested in any of the previous models but this one has certainly got my attention.

Courtesy of Hasselblad

Question is, if I had £6000 to spend, would I get he Nikon Z9 with the FTZ II or do I get the Hasselblad CFV II 50C?

Truth is, I can’t justify having that amount of equipment sitting around doing nothing most of the time. Oh well, one can only dream.