Irix 150mm f/2.8 Macro 1:1 Dragonfly Lens Review

Irix 150mm f/2.8 Macro 1:1 Dragonfly Lens Review

Announcements

Irix 150mm f/2.8 Macro 1:1 Dragonfly Lens Review

The Irix 150mm f/2.8 Macro 1:1 Dragonfly Lens

Back in January of this year, the good people at Irix USA sent me a new 150mm f/2.8 Macro 1:1 Dragonfly lens to try out, use, and review. I’ve photographed with it a handful of times over the past few months and I’m just now getting around to offering some opinions. My opinions are POSITIVE! In fact, I couldn’t find one thing I didn’t like about the lens. Honest.

Here’s a summary of what I liked about the newest Irix lens: It’s manual focus, which all macro lenses should be. There is no practical need for autofocus with a macro lens. The highly rubberized focusing ring is smooth and adequately damped for fine-tuning the focus. In fact, everything about the lens says “solid” and “quality” to me. It’s the perfect focal length for a macro lens as well. At 150mm, the angle-of-view is narrow enough to easily control the background, which is really important when doing macro photography. Even though the lens is relatively small and compact, Irix has added a lens collar so transitioning from horizontal to vertical and back is quick and easy. And there’s a Arca Swiss mount built into the lens foot! I hope this catches on and becomes standard practice.

Image quality is superb, which is what I’ve come to expect from Irix. My experience with the Irix wide-angle primes (11mm and 15mm) prepared me for this result. It’s incredibly sharp and contrasty. The bokeh, something pretty important when it comes to macro photography, is smooth and creamy at large apertures, even at 1:1 true macro reproductions. The large f/2.8 maximum aperture on the lens allows a lot of light for focusing, especially in live view.

The Irix 150mm f/2.8 Macro 1:1 Dragonfly lens can be ordered with the Canon EF (pictured here), Nikon F, or Pentax K mounts. Let’s hope it’s updated later for the new mirrorless mounts. The lens barrel is composed of metal alloys with a polished, satin anodized metal finish and it’s packaged with a very stylish molded case that protects the lens well when transporting. Everything about how the lens looks and performs is first class.

Get yours here on Amazon: Irix 150mm f/2.8 Macro 1:1 Dragonfly Lens

The Irix 150mm f/2.8 Macro 1:1 Dragonfly Lens Specs

I just received the new Irix 150mm f/2.8 Macro 1:1 Dragonfly Lens from Irix USA. I’ll do an in-depth review once I have the time to actually use this telephoto macro lens, but my first impressions are the following: The lens is solidly built. It feels cool, heavy, and dense in my hand. 150mm is the perfect focal length for a macro lens, in my opinion. The telephoto perspective really allows you to control the background much better than shorter focal lengths. I absolutely love the fact that the lens has a detachable tripod collar (to make it much easier to go from horizontal to vertical and back) with a built-in Arca Swiss mount. Why don’t other lens manufacturers do this as well considering this is the industry standard?

Specifications:

  • Covers full 35mm frame, for Nikon F, Canon EF, Pentax K mounts
  • Manual focus
  • Weather-sealed construction (Dragonfly finish)
  • 12 elements in 9 groups, 3 ED, 4 HR elements
  • f/2.8 to f/32, 11-blade diaphragm
  • 77mm filter ring
  • 12” (0.345m) minimum focus, 1:1 maximum magnification ratio, focus lock ring
  • 3.9” (135mm) long, 4.5” (87mm) diameter
  • 20.5 ounces (840g) weight
  • Detachable tripod collar with Arca Swiss mount; includes lens hood
  • Black
  • USD$ 595
  • Announced by Irix September 24, 2018

Get yours here on Amazon: Irix 150mm f/2.8 Macro 1:1 Dragonfly Lens

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Richard Bernabe is a professional photographer specializing in travel, wildlife, and nature as well as an author of books, magazine articles, and travel essays published world-wide. Richard is a global influencer in the fields of photography, travel, and wildlife conservation with more than one million followers on social media platforms. He leads several photography tours and workshops all over the world and is invited to speak to photography and conservation groups all across the globe. 

Think Tank Photo Releases Urban Access Backpack

Think Tank Photo Releases Urban Access Backpack

Announcements

Think Tank Photo Releases Urban Access Backpack

Introducing the new Think Tank Photo Urban Access Backpack for photographers on the go!

Introducing the Think Tank Urban Access Backpack

Easy to pack and even easier to access, the Urban Access™ Backpack from Think Tank Photo enables you to get to your gear quickly – whether on the run or in the studio. Access panels on both sides allow you to sling the backpack left or right to access your camera gear without taking off the backpack. The rear-panel provides complete access to your gear when working directly out of the bag, so you can see all your gear at one time.

A center tripod mounting system balances even large tripods securely while still allowing access to your gear. The plush harness is shaped for all day comfort and fit, and includes load lifters, a removable waist belt and sternum strap. Available in two sizes, 13 and 15, the Urban Access™ Backpack is ready for your next adventure.

Get your Think Tank Urban Access Backpack Here

Urban Access Backpack Key Features:

• Two quick side-access panels with full-access rear panel

• Dedicated laptop pocket

• Tripod attachment on front secures a small or large tripod with deployable cup

• Access a 70–200mm f/2.8 attached without taking off your bag (15 ONLY)

• Deep front pocket fits a light jacket

• Robust shoulder harness with load-lifters help to adjust the weight of the pack

• Removable sternum strap and waist belt

• Luggage handle pass-through

• Top compartment fits snacks and personal gear

• Expandable water bottle pockets on both sides

• Customizable divider system

• Top compartment mesh pockets help keep small items organized

• Internal organizer pockets give you quick access to filters, batteries, cards, etc.

• Seam-sealed rain cover included

Get your Think Tank Urban Access Backpack Here

Richard Bernabe is a professional photographer specializing in travel, wildlife, and nature as well as an author of books, magazine articles, and travel essays published world-wide. Richard is a global influencer is the fields of photography, travel, and wildlife conservation with more than one million followers on social media platforms. He leads several photography tours and workshops all over the world and is invited to speak to photography and conservation groups all across the globe. For more great information on new images, gear reviews, book projects, and photography workshops and tours, Sign Up For Our Newsletter.

MindShift BackLight Elite 45L Backpack Review

MindShift BackLight Elite 45L Backpack Review

Announcements

MindShift BackLight Elite 45L Backpack Review

MindShift BackLight Elite 45L

The MindShift BackLight Elite 45L.

The MindShift BackLight Elite 45L

Get deeper into the backcountry with the MindShift BackLight Elite 45L from Think Tank Photo. 45 liters of internal volume provides ample room for a combination of photo/personal gear and dedicated laptop/tablet. External attachment points accommodate adventure equipment such as a static rope, set of axes, snowboard/skis, and of course, a tripod. Weather-resistant zippers and materials protect your gear when trekking in extreme environments. And like the other BackLight backpacks, rear-panel access adds security when traveling since your camera gear is protected behind your back. Built “Mountain Tuff” for protection against the elements, the BackLight Elite 45L features YKK® AquaGuard® zippers and waterproof/tearproof sailcloth, robust lumbar padding, and a quick-dry back panel for increased ventilation.

MindShift BackLight Elite 45L

The MindShift BackLight Elite 45L camera backpack being enjoyed in it’s natural habitat, Torres del Paine National Park, Chile. Photo © Richard Bernabe

Key Features

  • Storm-resistant construction with YKK® AquaGuard® zippers and
    waterproof/tearproof Sailcloth
  • Superior Fit: Robust lumbar padding, hip-hugging waist belt, quick-dry back
    panel, and foam ridges for increased ventilation
  • Back and top panel access to all of your camera gear, allowing you to work out
    of your bag without getting your harness dirty or wet
  • Meets most international and U.S. carry-on requirements
  • Hydration reservoir ready
  • Removable camera compartment with emergency shoulder straps to avoid gate check
  • Removable waist belt for ease when traveling

Specifications

  • Exterior Dimensions: 12.99 x 23.5 x 7.99″ / 33 x 59.7 x 20.3 cm
  • Exterior Material: Foam, Nylon, Polyurethane, Tarpaulin
  • Water Resistance: Rain Cover, Water-Resistant Material
  • Interior Material: Foam, Nylon, Polyester, Polyethylene
  • Maximum Volume: 11.89 gal / 45 L
  • Weight: 3.97 lb / 1.8 kg (Empty)
  • Camera Compartment Dimensions: 11.4 x 19.3 x 6.8″ / 29.0 x 49.0 x 17.3 cm
  • Laptop Compartment Screen Size: 17.0″
MindShift BackLight Elite 45L
MindShift BackLight Elite 45L
MindShift BackLight Elite 45L
MindShift BackLight Elite 45L

My Personal Observations

MindShift Gear gave me one of these backpacks prior to a recent trip to Argentina and Chile while leading my Epic Patagonia Photography Workshop and Tour, just to try it out and give it a good working over. My conclusion after two weeks of hard use was that it could possibly be the ultimate photo backpack, particularly for outdoor, nature, landscape, and wildlife photographers. I love the modular design (the internal camera compartments can be removed or switched out with larger or smaller versions), the snug, comfortable fit for long walks or hikes, and the rear entry design which is consistent with all backpacks in MindShift Backlight series.

The pack also fits in the overhead compartment of most commercial airlines, which is super important to a travel photographer like myself. This is quite the engineering and design feat considering this is a 45 liter pack! And if it happens to not fit and the crew is demanding that you check your camera gear as a regular piece of luggage, you can simply pull the camera compartment out of the pack and slide it under the seat in front of you before handing them the empty frame and shell. 

But overall, I was impressed with the attention Mindshift gave to all the small details: the waterproof zippers are but one example. I have owned and used literally dozens of photo backpacks over the past 15 years and I can honestly say that the MindShift BackLight Elite 45L backpack is the best I’ve ever worked with and will be my primary photo backpack for years to come.

Get Yours Here

The MindShift BackLight Elite 45L backpack goes on sale today (April 30, 2019) and can be ordered here:

MindShift BackLight Elite 45L (MindShift Gear)

MindShift BackLight Elite 45L (Amazon)

Richard Bernabe is a professional photographer specializing in travel, wildlife, and nature as well as an author of books, magazine articles, and travel essays published world-wide. Richard is a global influencer in the fields of photography, travel, and wildlife conservation with more than one million followers on social media platforms. He leads several photography tours and workshops all over the world and is invited to speak to photography and conservation groups all across the globe. For more great information on new images, gear reviews, book projects, and photography workshops and tours, Sign Up For Our Newsletter.


Breakthrough Photography Filters

Breakthrough Photography Filters

Announcements

Breakthrough Photography Filters

I just recently ditched my Lee Filter system and adopted Breakthrough Photography Filters as my preferred filter line for landscape and travel photography. The choice was actually pretty simple: Better glass, better coatings, better color fidelity, better build quality, and a 25-year warranty on their filters. Here’s more information:

 

  • WORLDS SHARPEST AND MOST COLOR NEUTRAL NEUTRAL DENSITY FILTERS: Breakthrough Photography’s X4 ND filter maintain a very well controlled and flat transmission all the way throughout the visible light spectrum and into IR, delivering the worlds most color neutral results.
  • MRC16 OPTICAL COATING: 16 Layer Multi-Resistance Coated to significantly reduce lens flare and ghosting while making the filter Anti-Scratch, Reduce Reflection, Water Repellent, Increase Surface Durability, Oil & Dust Resistant. These attributes are essential for working effectively outdoors. Our proprietary MRC coating is structurally harder than the glass itself and the reduced reflections improve the efficiency since less light is lost. 
  • NANOTEC: In addition to state-of-the-art MRC, their optical engineers developed new nano coating layer technology, called nanotec, from the ground up to repel dirt, water and other elements by beading rather than absorbing and smearing. Set in our workhorse and built to withstand extreme wind, salt water, dust and other abrasive conditions and elements.
  • 25 YEARS SUPPORT: Guaranteed to be free from craftsmanship defects for 25 years. When you activate your 25 Year Ironclad Guarantee online we associate your X4 serial number to you, so any future discussions on this unique filter are tracked, issues recorded and all that stuff which goes into future product design.

At top: The Breakthrough Photography X4 3-stop ND Filter slowing down the motion of the water in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Bottom: The finely crafted Breakthrough Photography’s X4 Circular Polarizing Filters with blackened brass frames and traction grooves for easy handling in cold weather or with gloves.

Polarizing Filters

Breakthrough Photography advertises its 4X CPL Circular Polarizer as the “world’s most advanced circular polarizer.” The construction is made from blackened brass (less likely for the filters to stick together) with deepened traction grooves on the rim for an easy grip, even with cold, wet, fingers or gloves (although I’ve been told that these grove may interfere with your lens hood. I don’t use a lens hood so I’ve not experienced this). The glass is SCHOTT Superwhite B270® optical glass with nanotech® and multi-resistant coatings. The best part about these proprietary coatings is that rain and moisture slide right off the surface of the filter. With other filters, you might try to wipe off the rain or splashes and it just get smeared around. I tried it and it’s true! I’m amazed.

Neutral Density Filters

For years I have been using Lee Filters’ Little and Big Stopper ND filters (6- and 10-Stop respectively) for long exposure photography (see tutorial on using ND Filters for Long Exposure Photography). The quality of the Lee glass has never been an issue with me but it’s long been known by landscape photographers that these Lee filters impart an obvious and acknowledged blue color cast to affected images. See the examples above. The Breakthrough Photography 4X ND filters are truly color neutral and the glass and coatings are better than Lee’s. Formatt Hitech pushes the colors toward the cyan while B&W goes reddish-orange. These problems can be fixed in post-production (sometimes relatively easily and sometimes not so much) but why bother with that anymore?

Richard Bernabe is a professional photographer specializing in travel, wildlife, and nature as well as an author of books, magazine articles, and travel essays published world-wide. Richard is a global influencer is the fields of photography, travel, and wildlife conservation with more than one million followers on social media platforms. He leads several photography tours and workshops all over the world and is invited to speak to photography and conservation groups all across the globe. For more great information on new images, gear reviews, book projects, and photography workshops and tours, Sign Up For Our Newsletter.


Think Tank Releases New Photo Protection Concepts

Think Tank Releases New Photo Protection Concepts

Announcements

Think Tank Releases New Photo Protection Concepts

The Think Tank Photo Emergency Rain Cover for the ultimate in camera protection.

My friends at Think Tank Photo have released two new concepts in camera gear protection. The Emergency Rain Covers, that come in two sizes, are small, lightweight, fast-deploying protective covers you can have on hand when weather conditions change swiftly and you need to protect your bodies and lenses.

The Think Tank Lens Case Duos for lens protection when transporting and traveling.

The Lens Case Duos are protective lens sleeves that can be used both when transporting your lenses in transit and while shooting.  They are available in a range of sizes to fit most DSLR and Mirrorless lenses.

Don’t forget that when you use these special URLs you will receive free gear and free shipping on all orders over $50. You can order below:

Thank Tank Emergency Rain Cover

Lens Case Duos

Richard Bernabe is a professional photographer specializing in travel, wildlife, and nature as well as an author of books, magazine articles, and travel essays published world-wide. Richard is a global influencer is the fields of photography, travel, and wildlife conservation with more than one million followers on social media platforms. He leads several photography tours and workshops all over the world and is invited to speak to photography and conservation groups all across the globe. For more great information on new images, gear reviews, book projects, and photography workshops and tours, Sign Up For Our Newsletter.

Canon EOS R Mirrorless SAMPLE IMAGES

Canon EOS R Mirrorless SAMPLE IMAGES

Announcements

Canon EOS R Mirrorless SAMPLE IMAGES

On September 5 of this year, Canon announced its highly anticipated Canon EOS R Mirrorless camera to the world and over the past week, I spent some time shooting a production model while traveling to Havana, Cuba. This camera was made for travel and street photography so this was the perfect opportunity to give it a good working over.

The EOS R Mirrorless camera features a brand new RF mount so it’s not compatible with EOS lenses without the Canon Control Ring Mount Adapter EF-EOS R that fits between the camera and lens. I used two of the new RF lenses as well as many of my older EOS lenses on this trip. More information and specifications on the Canon EOS R Mirrorless camera can be found here.

I found the camera to be very intuitive to use, especially if you are a Canon shooter already, it fit my hands comfortably, and the image quality was very similar to that found in the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, which is my current go-to camera body for travel and landscape photography, as well as the occasional wildlife shoot. I thought the ISO performance on the new mirrorless camera to be just a tad better than the 5D Mark IV (see the last of the sample images below captured at 10,800 ISO) but it could be my imagination. It’s certainly a subjective observation at best. The two RF lenses – the Canon Canon RF 28-70mm f/2 L USM and RF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM were amazing performers – some of the sharpest Canon lenses I’ve ever used.

This copy of the Canon EOS R Mirrorless camera and the lenses were on loan to me for a very limited amount of time so I couldn’t do any technical, objective tests. My subjective observations are positive overall, but I don’t see myself going to an all mirrorless system anytime in the near future. I do believe Canon is heading in the right direction with this inaugural model, however, and I’m excited with the prospect of future R bodies and an expansion of the RF lens line.

Get your Canon EOS R Mirrorless Digital Camera here on Amazon.

“El Malecón” The Havana waterfront at sunrise, Havana, Cuba. Canon EOS R Mirrorless camera with Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L is USM Lens @ 80mm.

“No Left Turn Unstoned” Getting lost in the heart of Havana, Cuba. Canon EOS R Mirrorless camera and with Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L is USM Lens @ 42mm.

“La Virgen de la Merced” Church interior in Old Havana. Canon EOS R Mirrorless camera and Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM Lens @ 12mm with Canon Control Ring Mount Adapter EF-EOS R.

“Life’s Rich Banquet” Old Havana, Cuba. Canon EOS R Mirrorless camera and Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L USM Lens @ 28mm.

“El Contendiente” One of many students in Radames Castillo’s boxing academy, Havana, Cuba. I really pushed the limits of the Canon EOS R Mirrorless camera in this dark working environment. ISO 10,800!

“Ragged Quarters” A Black and White street scene from Havana. Canon EOS R Mirrorless camera and Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L USM Lens @ 50mm.

“La Habana Vieja” Canon EOS R Mirrorless camera and with Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L is USM Lens @ 38mm. I’ve still not completely embraced the Electronic Viewfinder used in mirrorless cameras but I found this to be the best I’ve tried so far. It feels and looks less “virtual” when I peer through the viewfinder.

Canon EOS R Full Frame Mirrorless Camera

The Canon EOS R Mirrorless Camera

After months of speculation and rumors, Canon officially announced today the Canon EOS R, the much anticipated full frame mirrorless camera that will compete with Sony’s full frame mirrorless line and the new Nikon Z6 and Z7. Concurrently, Canon is also unvieling four native RF lenses and the Canon Control Ring Mount Adapter EF-EOS R for using EOS lenses on the new RF mount. The Canon EOS R camera body will be available in October 2018 with an estimated retail price of $2,299. The new Canon RF 50mm f/1.2 lens will also be available in October 2018 while the Canon RF 28-70mm f/2 L USMRF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM, and RF 35mm f/1.8 MACRO IS STM will all be available in December 2018.

Canon EOS R Specifications

  • 30.3MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor
  • A New 54mm diameter RF Lens Mount
  • DIGIC 8 Image Processor
  • UHD 4K30 Video; C-Log & 10-Bit HDMI Out
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF
  • Maximum of 5,655 Manually Selectable AF Points
  • 3.69m-Dot OLED Electronic Viewfinder
  • 3.15″ 2.1m-Dot Swivel Touchscreen LCD
  • Expanded ISO 50-102400
  • 8 fps Shooting
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, SD UHS-II Card Slot
  • Multi-Function Bar, Dual Pixel RAW

My (Initial) Take on the Canon EOS R Mirrorless Camera

I will very likely have my hands on this new camera within a few weeks (through some back-channel contacts) so I’ll be able to offer some hands-on, first-person opinions very soon, as well as some sample images. But for now I’ll simply offer my take on the camera and the system in general.

I believe that technology will lead us all to mirrorless systems in the not-so-distant future considering the many technological advantages to the mirrorless system over DSLRs. I won’t go into all of these advantages here but the larger lens mount and reduced physical distance between the imaging sensor and the lens are literal game-changers when it comes to future lens possibilities. We are seeing some of those possibilities with today’s announcement from Canon. But despite these facts and no matter how my hands-on experience with the Canon EOS R will be in the coming weeks, I will continue to use Canon DSLRs (Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and Canon EOS 1DX Mark II) for my photography in the coming months, unless the landscape and the technology drastically change in a hurry.

The two most cited reasons I hear for moving from a DSLR to a mirrorless system is a reduction in weight and size as well as the electronic viewfinder (EVF). I find the weight and size differences to be negligible (the Canon 5D Mark IV is 1.962 lbs vs. the Canon EOS R at 1.455 so we’re basically talking about a half of a pound) and I don’t consider the EVF to be a big advantage at all. With the current technology, I prefer an optical viewfinder. When I use the Canon EOS R in the next couple of weeks, I could change my mind on the EVF, however.

The biggest problem I have with the Canon EOS R is the very limited lens choices (four lenses as of this writing) unless the rumored adapter is used with the current line of EOS EF lenses. This is not an optional solution for me. For example, the Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x is one of the most important lenses I use for wildlife and I just can’t imagine using this lens on the Canon EOS R with an adapter at this point. There certainly is no reduction in weight or size so why make a change at this point? As a professional photographer who needs to consistently produce quality images year-round, I will use the best available tools for the job, period. Right now, the mirrorless option is not the best tool for me but that could change soon. Stayed tuned.

Order your Canon EOS R Mirrorless Digital Camera here on Amazon
Order your Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens here on Amazon
Order your Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L USM Lens here on Amazon
Order your Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L is USM Lens here on Amazon
Order your Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 is Macro STM Lens here on Amazon
Order your Canon Control Ring Mount Adapter EF-EOS R here on Amazon

Richard Bernabe is a professional photographer specializing in travel, wildlife, and nature as well as an author of books, magazine articles, and travel essays published world-wide. Richard is a global influencer is the fields of photography, travel, and wildlife conservation with more than one million followers on social media platforms. He leads several photography tours and workshops all over the world and is invited to speak to photography and conservation groups all across the globe. For more great information on new images, gear reviews, book projects, and photography workshops and tours, Sign Up For Our Newsletter.