31.07.2017

Lightcolorshadow.com - Gallery Update

A HUGE update for the gallery is now online! Over 100 high quality photos have been added in all categories. And I added a new one: Aerials. The Phantom 4 is a nice tool for aerialshots so I wanted to share the results with you. Don't wait and click on the gallery button above and see all my photos I have made over the years, from places like Hong Kong, Saxon Switzerland, Rügen and of course there is a lot to see from Berlin.

On my YouTube channel you can watch now a new video. Several impressions of the popular baltic sea island Rügen. One half of the material were made in November 2016 and the other half in June 2017. This video is more a technical demo, for the Nikon D750 in combination with an Atomos Ninja Flame just to see what is possible in case of color correction and grading. 

 

 

 

12.07.2017

The DJI Phantom 4 Professional Plus

 

DJI Phantom 4 in flight

What a fantastic “toy” or as DJI is calling it: prosumer product. That is a good definition of this aircraft. The whole handling of it is really easy. You unpackage it, you charge the battery and the remote control, mount the propellers on it and you can already (the very first time you need to update the RC and the aircraft) start and can record some nice video material. But step by step.

What you get

I purchased the Plus Version of the Phantom 4. That means the remote control has an extra display, which is really bright and useful outside. This display can shine with 1000 cd/m2. But it is more than a display, it is a castrated smartphone with a modified version of Android-OS. The drone itself weighs 1388 grams with propellers and battery. With this characteristics you can start and fly the Phantom 4 Pro without permission here in Germany. Please collect all the information for your country what is allowed and what not before your purchase.

You get two sets of propellers. One battery. One micro-SD Card. Mine was from SanDisk (some exemplars get one from Lexar) with 16 GB capacity and up to 60 MB/s writing speed, so you can record in cinema 4K (4096 x 2160) at maximum 60 frames per second. What else? Of course some cables: the power supply and a USB-Cable to connect it to the computer.

All that comes in a reliable styrofoam box which should suffice for the first usages. I bought an extra battery and some more will follow to get more flight time. With one charge you can fly 30 minutes under ideal conditions. Whatever these “ideal” conditions are. I would say one charge holds up from 20 to 25 minutes. Of course it depends on how do you fly and so on.

 

DJI Phantom 4 Remote ControlDJI Phantom 4 Pro on pad

What is possible with this quadrocopter?

I bought this aircraft to film and take photos. Not just to fly around and make some noise. The camera, the gimbal and the aircraft are absolutely well balanced. It is possible to make really smooth tracking shots. And we talk about tracking in over 100 meter and more in the air with over 40 km/h. And this is just wonderful what the Phantom 4 Pro is performing.

The system offers you a lot of modes for flying and comfortable options. Like the ActiveTrack for example. You mark your desired motive on the screen and the drone will follow the subject automatically. This works reliable under the requirement that the object is good enough silhouetted against the background. If you mark a car what is for a short time covered by trees, the drone will lose the marking and stops. And there are other functions like TapFly where you tap on the map or what is visible on the screen and the drone flys there. The Gesture Mode is for the selfie-lovers. In this mode you can use the Phantom without the RC so you can give instructions like to take a photo. I didn’t used the last two options until now. So I cannot say how well do their job.

The safety

Almost 2000 Euros in the air and you get a lot of mechanisms which protect your investment. The Phantom 4 Pro has a 6-Camera Navigation system to protect it from collisions. The infrared sensors, ultrasonic sensors and cameras checking permanently for obstacles forward, backward and downwards. The infrared sensors are only active in the Beginner Mode and Tripod Mode There is a little downer. When it is too dark – the manual describes under 300 luces – the camera system for obstacle avoidance isn’t working correctly or not a bit. In my opinion everyone with healthy or fit eyes should solve this “problem”. Of course you get this messages on the screen of the RC.

If it is your first flight you should use the Beginner Mode. In this mode the whole flight behavior is very accommodating and slow. I would it in any case for the first flight lesson. Otherwise you have a simulator on the remote controller. But it’s just a virtual exercise and is not as real like a real flight. The reason why it makes fun since the first second you fly with this device is you don’t have to compensate any unpredictable behavior. When you don’t give any command to the drone it will just hover. Not more. This is why it so easy to fly with it. So don’t be so scary to fly your aircraft.

 

DJi Phantom 4 Pro in flightDJI Phantom 4 Pro downside

 

You have three flying modes. The P mode: All sensors are enabled and GPS supported (only outdoor and depending how well the Phantom 4 Pro is receiving the satellite signal) flight is warranted. Max speed in this mode is 40 km/h. The behavior of the drone is accommodating and calm.

The S mode: The Sport mode offers you the maximum speed of 72 km/h. The behavior is much more sensitive and agile. The braking distance is over 50 meters. And the obstacle avoidance is disabled. Don’t use this mode until you are confident enough in your flight skills.

The A mode: Altitude. Really challenging. No GPS and no sensor support. Only the barometer of the aircraft is active for positioning. Experience is indispensable.

These modes are set on the RC as with a selector lever. The RC is giving you all the time information on wich altitude you are, the speed, the wind conditions and any other circumstances which are related to the aircraft during the flight. And of course you have a permanent feedback how much time is left to fly.

When you are done you can land manually or with the “Return to Home” Button. This works only when GPS Signal is warranted during the start. It is impressive how the drone is flying back to you automatically without any commands.

The camera

For photos is the camera acceptable. You don’t get SLR quality but a usable image, which is very good editable cause of RAW. The photos come in the. DNG format. The focal length of the camera is 24 mm and the smallest aperture is 11. Open aperture is 2.8. The ISO range for photos is from 100 to maximum 12.000. All this in combination offers you a good camera for any kind of landscape pictures or cityscape by night.

 

DJI Phantom 4 Pro photo RAWDJI Phantom 4 Pro photo edited

 

Photos are fine with the camera. But the quality of the videos are exquisite. When you record at daylight you get a crispy sharp picture (almost too sharp) and well balanced colors. And for better post production you can record in D-Log (DJI’s own color gamut). The colors look washed out and flat. But this is the advantage of this profile. You have more opportunities to edit the look of your image. The recording format is H.264 or the still experimental H.265 codec. I only used the H.264 codec in cinema 4K resolution and the results are really great. At 4K or C4K you record at 100 Mbps. There is also a 120 fps option to create a smooth at 1080p.

 

DJI Phantom 4 Pro photo RAWDJI Phantom 4 Pro photo edited

 

The low light capabilities of the camera are good. You can film in the dark but then you should use the standard color profile, because D-Log is locked at 500 ISO. The maximum ISO is 6400, manual settings. This is still usable but you can see a lot of noise on a larger screen (PC Screen for example).

As I mentioned the gimbal is doing a wonderful job. You get smooth tracking shots in great height. Sometimes you recognize small squalls as shacking but this acceptable for a system of this size and weight.

Conclusion

Simple and very close to professional. It is my first remote controlled aircraft and I would say it has never been so easy to get such aerial shots and videos of this quality. You get a flying camera for photos and filming with really less learning effort and which allows you to create remarkable results with. For round about 1800 Euros it is an all in one package with almost no cons. A wish would be a camera lens made of real glass for a nicer lens flare. But this is a really small con in my eyes, so it is up to you if you want to film against sunlight. Just watch my demonstration video and form your own opinion about the lens flare. And for more comfortable filming I would recommend to buy more batteries for more flight time and maybe a more protective case for transportation.

 

         

 

 

27.06.2017

The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70 mm f/2.8 ED VR

 

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70 mm f/2.8 ED VR with packaging

The first article and review on Lightcolorshadow. I wan‘t to present you the Nikkor 24-70 mm f/2.8 ED VR lens which was announced in spring 2016. I‘m using it since December 2016 and I’m really happy with the performance of this beast.

Beast is the correct term when it comes to dimensions and the weight of this lens: over 1 kilogram of weight (1070 gram). You realize this once in your backpack or photobag and in your hand when it is mounted to the camera. But stay strong, it’s all about the training. And it is really long with 15.4 cm without (!) the lens hood at 50 mm. At 24 mm it reaches 18.4 cm and with the lens hood the focal length doesn’t matter it has 21.1 cm. These two characteristics can be seen as disadvantages but these are only disadvantages when you don’t have enough space in your bag and if you don’t like to lift heavy things

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70 mm f/2.8 ED VRNikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70 mm f/2.8 ED VR on Nikon D750

The Performance

The image quality is in my opinion outstanding. The expectations are fulfilled, because it is a (expensive) prime lens. It is absolutely sharp from the smallest focal length to the longest. If you photograph with 24 mm a landsdcape you’ll get a reliable result, where you can see no difference between this lens and the Nikkor 14-24 mm f/2.8 at 24 mm. The other focal lengths are working excellent too, for landscape and nature shots. Of course you can use the 50 mm and the 70 mm focal lengths for the standard tasks: portrait. On this field the widest aperture delivers crisp and sharp pictures. Of course it gets much sharper with a smaller aperture but f/2.8 is already usable. I used this lens for some sport photography jobs, and there comes next big advantage of this Lens visible: the auto focus. I never saw such a fast focus. It is really impressive how reliable and fast it catches the wanted content of the picture, even when the light situation is almost too dark or difficult to handle.

The VR is also wonderful addition when you are in low light situations or you just need a small aperture. It allows to take free handed photos under the recommended exposure settings. For example the aperture automatic shows 1/30 of a second at 50 mm with activated VR – in normal mode – you will get a sharp result on the camera screen. I wanna be honest I never activated the “Active” mode of the VR. This setting is recommended when you take your photos from a moving platform, says the manual. Didn’t needed it until now

The most important discipline for me is how far can I get with the editing of the images because sometimes I just want to get a perhaps unrealistic but really dramatic atmosphere. The answer is simple very far. The contrast and the dynamic range of the 24-70 mm are huge. It produces great living colors, wonderful lightning and deep and strong depths. Of course in raw. You can see the final results down below and a bigger impression in the gallery section.

The Downer

For me there is one. When you take a picture at 70 mm at f/2.8 at the closest focusing distance (41 cm) you will get an image what is far away from sharp. Since I’m using this lens there were if I’m correct two situations where I needed this “settings”. The old version of this lens does this job better what I have saw in other reviews. But in my opinion I can neglect this downer, because this is no macro/micro lens and I made some wonderful photographs with it and would still recommend it.

 

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70 mm f/2.8 ED VR at 24 mm and the lens hoodNikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70 mm f/2.8 ED VR on Nikon D750

 

An irrelevant characteristic for me is the material. The quality and feeling of it is great but you will get no metallic lens body. There are no information about the used material for this lens. On Nikon’s website you can only find that it is a robust and reliable construction. And yes it is robust though their used a kind of plastic for the body. But keep in mind: Nikon was one of the first manufacturers who used plastic for their products. So they know how to build a prime lens.

 

Saxon Switzerland - at 70 mm f/8, 1/160, ISO 50 RAWSaxon Switzerland - at 70 mm f/8, 1/160, ISO 50 RAW and final edit

The Conclusion

At this time you have to pay 2100.00 EUR here in europe (the U.S. prices are one to one) for this prime lens. This is a lot of money, especially when you realize there is an older version of this lens what price starts about 1600.00 EUR. So you put 500 more on the table for a bigger and heavier lens AND a Vibration Reduction. Is it worth it? For me it is, especially the VR. I’m shooting very often in low light situations and don’t want always use a tripod. You shouldn’t be scared of this unhandy dimensions and volume of this lens will get used to it. I’m using it on a Nikon D750.

 

 

   
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