Bye bye DSLR

The talk of the town has been that Nikon is shutting up shop on the DSLR market. There are many clickbait commentators saying that this is the end of the line for the company.

This video from Engadget is a much more balanced view of the situation.

I am well aware that my next camera is going to have to be a mirrorless version if I’m going to keep up with the changes in the industry. Do I feel sad or angry that it wasn’t that long ago that I brought my Nikon D850? No, why would I? Making this purchased gave money to Nikon for them to be able to invest in research and development to create the Z9.

None of the range of mirrorless cameras from Nikon available in July 2022 match what I want in a camera. So I’m going to wait for the right one to come along before I spend my money.

No, I don’t have itchy feet to move to another system. I like the feel of Nikon equipment over other brands and I can’t explain why. I just do. Fair enough if you prefer other brands but I’m getting a bit tired of online comments dumping on brands other than the ones you personally use. There is no right or wrong when it comes to buying kit.

Unboxing – Profoto A2

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My Profoto A2 has arrived and it is tiny.

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It does look like it is the same size as the picture on the box and weighs like nothing when holding it with either my B10 or B10 Plus in my other hand.

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Unlike the B10 or B10 Plus the A2 doesn’t come with a front cap.

In my previous post, I wished the A2 would take the Sony NPF battery to made standard my lighting power sources. But having thought about it a bit more, I guess that the reason behind Profoto using their own bespoke battery is to make sure that the A2 draws the correct power for full power flash. I’m assuming that the electronics in the battery are talking to the unit to work seamlessly.

One thing I don’t like about the A series battery is that there isn’t a level indicator but then most camera batteries don’t have this feature either. The B10 batteries are bigger so I guess they have room for the circuitry to show how much power they have left.

I’ll need to test how these three lights compare to one another at full power.

Switching on the light in continuous mode there doesn’t seem to be a way to change the colour temperature. It looks quite warm to me so I’ll have to see what temperature it is showing on my colour meter.

I’m glad know that I didn’t buy a two light kit for either the B10 or B10 Plus. Having three different sizes of lights allows me to decide which one is the best one for the job. Do I need small and portable or need large with firepower?

10 July 2022 I’ve manage to put my colour meter in front of the A2 and the continuous light is giving me a reading of round the 3500K mark.

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The power readings I was getting from the A2, B10 and B10 Plus wasn’t a huge surprise with each light outputting more light than the model down.

A25698K664 lx
B105976K1430 lx
B10 Plus6004K2800 lx
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What I also found was that there are extra holes in the A2 that allows the stand adapter for the B10 also fits.

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What I’m going to have to wait for now is the Clic OCF Adapter II to allow me to use the OCF modifiers I already own with this light. Profoto are estimating the shipping date as November 2022.

Profoto A2

Profoto announced the A2 mono light in this press release today.

Courtesy of Profoto

I’m pretty excited about this light because it ticks a lot of boxes for me. The form factor is the same as the B10 lights I own but in a much smaller size. It would have been nice if this light took the Sony NPF battery but then it wouldn’t have been able to retain the sleek lines.

At £849 it is well worth getting so that I have a three light set up with my B10 and B10 Plus.

Unboxing – Dedolight DLED4-D

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Having got the Rotolight NEO 3 I knew that I needed to get a hard LED light. So I decided to get a Dedolight DLED4-D.

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The light is small and can be run off V mount batteries. I was looking at the Litepanels Sola 4+ Daylight Fresnel but it is way too big for my liking.

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Luckily I managed to get a cheap used battery ballast and also hunted around for a cheap V mount charger and batteries. If I couldn’t find these accessories for less than full price I don’t think I would have got this light.

While waiting for this light to turn up, Dedo announced the Neo range of lights with a unified ballast.

It makes sense for them to have one ballast rather than one AC and a different one for DC for each individual light. Having at least ten different ballasts is probably not a very good business model. A bit of me wishes I waited for their Neo range. But I think having this previous version will still do what I want with it.

This is a really powerful light. In spot mode I was getting 13000 lux at full power and in wide the reading was 1470 lux. Rotolight Neo 3 at full power was reading 2550 lux. And out of curiosity, both the Profoto B10 and B10 Plus in continuous mode at full power was about 1000 lux. However, the Profoto lights are way more powerful when in flash mode.

It will be interesting to see how well these three brands work together.

Rotolight NEO 3 in flash mode

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The problem I had with the Nikon Speedlights I own is that the colour would change from one flash fire to another. And I wondered if this was also the case with the NEO 3.

100%50%
3000K3029K2809K
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I’m glad to say that there was no problem with variation between flashes but what surprised me was that at the high end of the kelvin scale the numbers weren’t even close. I’m not sure at what point the NEO 3 starts to peak out at the 7000K mark. What the table does show is that it is best to keep in the 5200K range where it is most accurate.

There is a possibility of user error here. I might not be using a setting which will make it right. But the reason I’m not going to look into this too much is that I will probably not be using the NEO 3 in flash mode. If I do need flash I will choose to use the Profoto B10.

In testing I didn’t have any problem using the Hedbox batteries over the one Rotolight provided. They do recommend using their own battery for flash but maybe because there are issues with certain brands. Use at your own risk I suppose as I wasn’t really pushing the light at all.

Will I be getting the larger AEOS 2 to complement this light? I don’t think I will. What I have found with the larger Profoto B10 Plus is that the bigger size and weight is a draw back. Working on my own, if I want multiple lights I need to keep the size and weight down for each item. There is nothing new that I would learn from owning an AEOS 2 as it has the same quality of light as the NEO 3.

YouTube suggested this video to me.

And it made me realise that most light created by the sun around us is both soft and hard. So owning one continuous soft light won’t give me very convincing set up. This is another reason for not getting another soft light. I will need a continuous hard light to achieve what I set out to do. And that is to learn how to create natural light using artificial lights.

Westcott Apollo and Rotolight NEO 3

Since I have in the past tried putting the Profoto B10 lights in my Westcott Apollo light modifiers I thought I might as well see how well they work with the Rotolight NEO 3.

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With a much smaller form factor there is no issue with it in the Apollo Medium.

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Neither is there a problem in portrait mode with the Apollo Strip.

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However it can’t be said when the Apollo Strip is in landscape mode as it is a bit tight.

What I don’t know is how hot they will get with the front diffusion in place. I’m hoping they will be okay as the light does get warm running at 100%.

While I was playing with the light I thought I might as well see what readings my Sekonic C-700R would give me with the light in CCT mode.

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The next thing for me to test is the flash function.

4 June 2022 Just checking out the shadow and the reflection/catch light the NEO 3 creates has given me a thought about if I need to get the Diffuser Dome or the barn doors.

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As you can see, using the light bare gives you a reflection in which you can see the individual elements of the light. This also gives you multiple shadows which is a feature of lights that have more than one array.

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Taping a Lee 129 Heavy Frost filter in front of the light solves the problem.

So do I get the dome to permanently fix the issue or do I get the barn doors to be able to clip the Lee 129 Heavy Frost filter. The dome is £49.98 and the barn doors are £132.98.

Obviously, there isn’t this problem if I just use the Westcott Apollo modifiers. But this would be fairly restricting in where I could place the light. Being able to place this light into positions which I don’t need a lot of rigging is what attracted me to it.

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.

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

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.