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Ranger Quadra AS “A” System Review


Ranger Quadra AS  

I’m consider myself a hardened strobist-er. I have a bunch of 580s, Pocketwizards, speedrings, grids and softboxes and take everything on location frequently. When Elinchrom announced the Quadra system,  my interest was piqued. The forum response was not the best. Most complained about the price tag. After some time, I did my own thought process and found that depending on your strobist investment, the Quadra is priced almost exactly the same as a comprehensive strobist kit:  

  1. 2 x 580exII ran me about $1000
  2. 2 x Pocketwizard FlexTT5 and 1 x Pocketwizard MiniTT ran me about $600
  3. 2 x CP-E4 battery packs ran me about $400
  4. 24 AA batteries and Chargers ran me about $100
  5. 1 x Pocketwizard ZoneController (which is not quite available yet) another $80. I had another 580, so I used that as a transmitter for remote power control.

But what made me finally switch over was the jaded experience I had with the Pocketwizards. I realize that my experiences might have been different had I gone with a radiopopper system, but I was already entrenched in the Pocketwizard world, so I initially lived through hit and miss power control and unreliable triggering. When I used all the tricks in the book including Rob G’s use of veilshield material and OC-E3 cords, most of my problems disappeared, but I started to ask myself if the extra 20 mins of set-up and testing was worth the effort every single time I went on location.  

More after the jump..

Continue reading ‘Ranger Quadra AS “A” System Review’


Compressing dynamic range..

These days dynamic range is all the rage. A quick trip to any of DPReview’s discussion groups will find many heated threads over which camera can capture more dynamic range than the other. Certain camera models like the Pentax K-7 has in-built HDR modes to achieve the HDR look. Camera’s don’t have the same type of range our eyes do. There is only so much the sensor can capture between the brightest highlights and darkest shadows without clipping. Film proponents always favor the look of film with its graduated roll-off when overextending the highlight range. This is very similar to our eyes. Digital simply clips the channel. Once the brightness exceeds 255 for that pixel, everything over 255 simply becomes white. Similarly, If you compensate by decreasing the exposure to keep the highlights in check, the shadows might become blocked since the limit is 0 and everything under becomes black. HDR achieves its effect by multiple captures and combining them so that the shot will effectively have much greater dynamic range. Tone mapping then compresses the HDR source back into standard dynamic range, compressing the range. Compressors are used quite frequently in the audio industry. When you compress an audio signal, the loudest and quietest portions are confined to a smaller space and equalizes the character of the sound. Vocal tracks are compressed to align itself in terms of sound and characters from the rest of the instruments.

For a few months, there was a flood of photographs circulating on the web that was quite evident that it had gone through some serious Photomatix tone mapping. Nothing was spared, including portraits of children, cars, buildings and landscapes. I liked the style, but decided that stepping it down a few notches by popping a few lithium pills would let me play around with the technique without looking like “yet another” traditional HDR effect.

I shot this with Mandy under a bridge in the summer. True to my strobist roots, I perched a 580exII in a Q39 on top of an avenger boom arm, and added a bit of coarse gridded light to her arm and cement support column to add a bit of separation. I struggled a bit getting my Pocketwizard Flex’s to sync because of interference, but I’ll be talking about that one in a upcoming blog post.

The shot looked edgy, but I turning up the shadows a bit by effectively compressing the dynamic range (tone mapping).

You will need to mask out the areas that you are adjusting in Photoshop, so a good tablet really pays off here!

The end result after color toning and a few other tweaks was this shot. The conservative tone mapping allows a unique surrealistic end-product that has quite a bit more character than the out-of-camera raw. The 1ds3 that I was using at the time had great shadow recovery, so I was able to achieve this with 1 exposure. Depending on your equipment and your exposure, you will have to decide your starting point. With off-camera lighting, I can decide where I want my mid points and high lights, so I started with a -2 exposure to give myself extra breathing space when dialing back up the shadows in Photoshop.


Lightroom + Secondary Display

As a portrait photographer, about 70% of the photos I capture are in portrait format. Setting my monitor in portrait format wasn’t an option, so I added a secondary monitor in portrait orientation. Lightroom has great support for multi-monitors, so browsing and previewing is a snap. I also I ran into a bit of a snag with my Spyder2 calibrator in windows 7, as it is officially no longer supported in Microsoft’s newest OS. After some rummaging around, I found that downloading the newest spyder2express installer from Colovision’s website and entering my previous Spyder2Pro serial number allows me to install the software and calibrate both of my displays properly.

After that was done, a quick trip into lightroom allows me the full use of the Secondary Display menu. As you can see to the right, Adobe has given quite a bit of flexibility with this feature. As both of my monitors has 1920×1200 support, I setup Lightroom to render my previews at 2048pixels for maximum speed when doing my initial selects/rejects. I find it the best balance for most shoots unless I expect to be shooting groups or photos with many small details where 1:1 previews would reduce my workflow time since I would be pixel-peeping in and out frequently.

Click to see what type of stuff I have on my desk when I took this shot.



Decided to start blogging some of my creative interests including photography and development. I just hope I can find the time to keep it up-to-date!


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April 2018
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