Sony

Pixel Opas (for Sony) Review

I had been looking to extend/upgrade my radio triggers for a while now. My current lineup included the Yonguno CTR-301P’s and Pixel Kings for TTL support.

 A77 with Opas

Being a Sony shooter there are limited number of triggers that natively include the Sony/Minolta hot shoe so my choices were limited from the start. I eventually chose to got with the Opas triggers from Pixel, I chose them for a number of reasons;

 

  1. The use of AA Batteries
  2. Compatibility with Pixel Kings
  3. The On/Off switch
  4. Transmission Range (400m)
  5. Being transceivers they can act and transmitters or receivers
  6. The 2.4Ghz band can be used pretty much everywhere
  7. HSS support

 

Opas and 43AM

 

In the Box

Each transceiver comes in its own box, inside you will find a user guide and a nice little bag. Inside the bag, the trigger and a number of cables that enables the trigger to fire studio slaves and older flashguns, also included is a shutter release sync cable.

 

Build

The build quality is what I have come to expect from the mid range, middle price bracket triggers. The plastics don’t feel as cheap as some, with a fairly rigid feel, the buttons and switches have a good feel to them too.

 

The bottom hot shoe fitting also feels solid with a wheel turn lock to keep the trigger firmly in place. The hot shoe fitting where you would attach your flash feels pretty solid too.

My only complaint is the aerial, its fairly rigid. This in itself could be a good thing, but if you catch it against anything or pull the trigger out of its bag with a little too much force, it may snap off. I must add, this has not happened to me, it is just an observation.

 

Features

For the relatively low price (I paid £108 for a set of three), these triggers are pretty packed with features.

Running on AA batteries is a massive bonus, unlike some of the cheaper triggers available that run on expensive, hard to find batteries such as my CTR-301P’s. AA’s are radially available and I for one carry a number of spare sets for my flashguns.

There are four channels each with three groups, they seem to have channel and group memory too allowing for pre shoot setup. If you setup CH1 to fire on Group A, CH2 on group B and CH3 on group C, turn them off, change from a receiver to a transmitter or visa versa they keep your settings.

On top of the transceiver, as well as the aerial is a 3.5mm jack for cable sync connection and a mini USB port for firmware update or charging/power.

On the left, the channel select switch and the PC Sync port. On the right, the on/off switch and the receiver/transmitter select switch.

The front plate has the flashgun hotshoe, channel selection and a test or shutter release button.

The back plate has the battery door and a ¼” screw for tripod/light stand fitting.

 

Single Opas

As with most of the triggers on the market, the Opas’s are easy to setup and use, simply attach one to your camera and one to each flash you wish to use and bam your set.

The channel’s and groups make it easy to switch between setups.

Flash sync works from 1/200 all the way up to 1/8000 with HSS.

When using the transceivers with the Pixel King transmitter works ok, I did have a few misfires and the transmission range is reduced.

I have tested the published range or 400 meters, roughly pacing out 350 meters they worked without fail in open space and in a woodland area. I only managed to try the remote shutter release function to a range or 150 meters but this worked just fine too.

I have used the triggers for five shoots now and the range test, probably firing around 2000 shots and the batteries are still going strong.

The triggers are advertised to work with the entire Sony DSLR/SLT range. I have tested them on my A200’s, A77’s and a friends A580, A700 and an A900. However, when I attached them to my A200, they would not fire. The shutter release function worked though. They worked without issue with all the other bodies.

Conclusion

Overall I have been really impressed with the triggers. The compatibility with Pixel King triggers, use of AA batteries and doubling up as a shutter release are for me, really big plus points.

As I stated above, the aerial is big and may be snapped easily but carful usage would minimize this risk.

I would recommend these triggers to anyone looking for a budget setup or someone wanting a good customizable manual setup.

 

3 x Opas

A quick & easy way to sharpen your pictures in Photoshop

There are allot of plugins and third party applications out there for image sharpening. Most of them do the job well but can be expensive. I’ve often found, reading online forums that these plugins and apps are recommended over what is already availible in Photoshop.

Photoshop is already an expensive package and one that allot of its users do not fully explore before buying or installing plugins and apps to complete tasks that are easy enough to accomplish in Photoshop itself.

This is a quick run though of how to add sharpening to an image to bring out more detail, it takes about five minutes to complete and can easily setup as an action within Photoshop allowing a single click sharpening tool.

To get started, open Photoshop up and load an image that you want to sharpen. (to enlarge any of the screenshots, simply click them.)

 

I have used a picture of one of my dogs, Martha, basking in the summer sun to top her tan up.

Once you have opened your image, make sure the layers pallet is open. Click the background layer and drag it down to the new layer button to copy the entire layer.

Once complete, make sure that the new copied layer is selected. You now need to click on the ‘Filters’ tab online the top menu bar. Move down to ‘Other’ and select, ‘High Pass’.

This will load a new window with a slider bar at the bottom. At this stage you can have a play to find the best radius setting for you. I find that somewhere between 3 and 7 works best for me.

Once complete, click OK. Your image will turn a rather bull silvery grey colour. Dont worry, thats what should happen.

All you have left to do is blend the layers, make sure that the background copy or grey layer is selected in the layers pallet. Above the layers pallet are then blending options, this will be set to ‘Normal’ as default. Click the drop down and choose either ‘Overlay’ or ‘Softlight’.

 

Initially, you will probably not notice any difference in image sharpness, your eyes are deceiving you. Next to the new copied and sharpened layer, click the eye icon to turn the layer off and on again. You will notice a subtle difference. If you stuck with a radius between 3 and 7, the sharpening effect should be effective but not look over done.

 

Before creating this method as an action, I would recommend playing around a few more times with various images to get an idea of what radius works best for you.

Thanks for reading, if you have any questions, leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

 



Sidmouth, a walk with the dogs

A few weekends ago, we met up with some friends at Sidmouth beach for a BBQ. As the dogs were still allowed on the beach it made for a great day and walk.

Click the picture for a larger version.

 

Thanks for looking..



Strobing with ‘old’ glass

Another picture for my 365. I know I know, another studio based shot. As soon as it stops raining for at least a day I will get out and about.

I got the idea for this shot last night. Whilst driving home, I started my screen washers off and a car came around the corner with their full beam on. For a split second the washer jet looks like a vapour / spray.

The final image is two shots merged using layer masks and some cloning. The first picture was of the bottle alone, the second with my hand triggering the spray.

I was amazed and very happy how well the Carl Zeiss 50mm f/1.8 Pancolour handled the light and flare with one of the slaves pointing pretty much right at the camera.

I have included a basic lighting diagram for this shot.

You can view other pictures from my 365 project HERE



Pancolar Portrait

Pancolar Portrait, tonight I was playing with another of my old M42 lenses. The Carl Zeiss 50mm f/1.8 Pancolar.

This lens is one of the sharpest I own, even at f/1.8.

The setup for this picture was very simple and very basic. Sony A200 with the Pancolar mounted using an M42 adapter. I slave setup with a grid attached.

f/1.8, 1/160, ISO 100, 1 x Slave with Grid Spot, fired with CTR-301P

No sharpening has been added to this picture, apart from a contrast boost and my watermark its ‘out the back of the camera’ .

I’ve used this shot as Day 42 of my 365 project. You can see all of my 365 pictures HERE



Mayer-Optik Orestor 100mm f/2.8

Just a quick grab shot from this evening.

My Meyer Optik Gorlitz Orestor 100mm f/2.8 M42 @ f/5.6, mounted on my Sony A200 and sat on my SLIK 88 Black Diamond. The Orestor is a seriously nice lens, very sharp and it produces some very very nice Bokeh!



New Glass – Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 200 f/2.8

A while back I got my hands on a Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 200mm f/2.8. This lens is an old M42 screw fitting lens that was originally designed for film slr’s.

In this modern digital age, this lens as well as many other M42 / manual lenses are becoming more and more popular. The majority of ‘older’ glass was built at a high standard and will out perform allot of modern digital lenses.

When I first got hold of this lens, it was dirty and in need of a clean. I had it professionally cleaned so that I did not damage any of the lens coatings, elements or workings. The lens got back to me last week and I have finally been able to have a play.

This is the first picture I shot using the lens.

Setup
Sony A200, ISO100
CZ Jena Sonnar 200 @ f/5.6

The Orchid was placed in a light tent at the bottom of my stair case. I set the camera up on a tripod 3/4 of the way up the stairs in order to overcome the MFD (Minimum Focal Distance) of the lens.

I used a set of CTR-301P’s to fire, 1 x Sony HVLF-42AM and 2 x Minolta 5200i’s.

The picture was shot in RAW, some minor adjustments to white balance and vibrance were made in Adobe Photoshop CS5.

I used this picture as part of my 365 project, day 36. 6th February 2011

You can view and follow my 365 Project HERE

In addition to the Orchid picture I have shot a few more pictures to see how the lens performs at various aperture’s. The setup for the following shots was very simple.

I laid a guitar on a black studio background, setup 1 x Minolta 5200i flash on a stand one meter away and one meter above the guitar pointing down upon the guitars central area. I used a grip spot modifier to avoid light spilling where I did not want it.
I set the camera up on a tripod in order to avoid any vibration and took three pictures. The first at f/2.8, second at f/4 and the third at f/5.6.



All Tied Up

This one is a little arty farty but I kinda like it, heh heh.

I had a pile of elastic bands laying about in my desk for a little while, they were laid on a piece of white A4 paper with my desk lamp shining over.

I added a 2nd piece of paper behind and took the shot.

Sony A200, Minolta 100mm f/2.8, two pieces of A4 paper and a desk lamp.

New Edition

Forgot to say, we have a new little one running around the house.

Her name is Martha, she is just over 7 weeks old and a Staffordshire Bull Terrier cross.

She came to us from a loving dog rescue, http://www.oncelovedrescue.org.uk/ check it out, they do superb work!

SONY DSC

A quick update – Macro Orchid

I’ve not updated my blog for a long long time :( . I’ve been having a pretty busy time of late with weddings, portraits and other commissioned studio work.

I thought I’d better check in with the blog with a quick update whilst I edit wedding and portrait shots.

Here are a few pictures taken with my 12 year old Minolta 35-70 f/4 which I recently macro hacked.

SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC

I’ll update soon with some wedding and portrait pictures soon.

Dave

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