Interfit EX150 MKII 3 Head Lighting Kit Quick Review
This is a quick review on the Interfit EX150 MKII 3 Head Lighting Kit that includes the following items:
EX150 MKII heads x3 (three included)
100 watt Bulbs x 3
Lighting stands x3 (2 tall, 1 compact)
60cm (24″) Softbox x1
Translucent Umbrella x1
Sync and power leads x3
9ft x 30ft (2.4 x 6m )Background cloth x1
All in one Kit Bag
More information can be seen at the Interfit website at http://www.interfitphotographic.com/index.htm .
First, I should say that I am by no means a portrait photographer! I normally loathe taking photos indoors where I have to play around with white balance adjustment, mounted flash units, etc. As you may have seen from my other galleries, I am much more at home with allowing mother nature to illuminate my subjects, which consist predominately of wildlife. So you can imagine my initial reaction when my wife approached me about doing some professional photos for her practice’s website.
I had two options. First, I could have told her to get them “professionally” done and in the process spend several hundred dollars for a photoshoot that would potentially result in limited access to the final photos or require us to buy the rights for use on her website. The second option was to use that same amount of money (around $550 total US dollars) to invest in a lighting kit that would allow (or force) me to branch out into portrait photography. Obviously, since I am doing this review I decided on the latter and am glad I did.
But I am now getting ahead of myself… First, I started by visiting my favorite local photography store, The Houston Camera Exchange ( http://www.hcehouston.com/ ), as I knew they would have many options for studio-type lighting and plenty of informed salespersons to help answer my questions. After only a few minutes of browsing the store, I quickly realized that this venture could be a very expensive undertaking. I mean I was looking through various lighting heads, light stands, backdrops, softboxes, umbrellas, and snoots. And if you are anything like I was at that time, I was asking myself what the hell is a “snoot”. I will digress for a moment to define a “snoot [as] a tube or similar object that fits over a studio light or portable flas and allows the photographer to control the direction and radius of the light beam”, per wikipedia. Anyway back to the story, luckily for me, a nice sales associate must have noticed my stressed look and came over to help. I explained my situation as a predominately nature photographer who would like to spend as little money as possible for a decent quality lighting system. I told her the lighting system would likely only be used occassionally for family portraits and professional photos. She smiled and said she had just the thing, as she led me to a shelf with the Interfit Lighting Kits. After a brief description of the contents of the Interfit EX150 MKII 3 Head Lighting Kit, I was sold! Basically, this kit has everything that one would want to start taking professional-looking studio portrait photos, with the exception of a light monitor and stand for the background cloth. The Houston Camera Exchange was having a promotional deal that included a second softbox for free with the purchase of the kit, thus giving me two soft boxes and an umbrella. I decided to purchase a seperate interfit backdrop cloth support rack from B&H for about $50. Though I bought my Interfit EX150 MKII 3 Head Lighting Kit from a local store, the same kit sells at B&H for $399 plus shipping and does not include a free 2nd soft box.
I will be the first to admit that I am not one to read directions. I ended up watching the education DVD that is included with the kit and some other instruction demos on youtube. After this initial “research” I assembled the lighting system and “played around” with it for about 30 minutes before inviting my wife to join for the photoshoot. After an additional 30 minutes of a trial-and-error photoshoot , I had some photos that we were both very pleased with. I would never claim that they are the best portait photos ever, but they are also not too bad for a first attempt and only 30 minutes practice. I guess the main point I am trying to make is that Interfit EX150 MKII 3 Head Lighting Kit is very easy to use and get quality results with, even by a novice like me. I highly recommend the Interfit EX150 MKII 3 Head Lighting Kit for anyone looking to get professional quality studio protraits for an inexpensive price!
Additional items recommended: A light meter would be really helpful and is something I will invest in sometime soon. You can certainly get the correct exposure and lighting strength without one, but it would have made the process even faster. Backdrop cloth rack that I purchased sepertate is helpful and allows me to set the background cloth up anywhere. The kit does come with a set of plastic hooks that you can attach to a wall via those removeable adhesive strips. That would probably work fine if you have one wall of you home/studio that you will always does your portrait work, but an actual seperate support rack makes it quite mobile.
SAMPLE OF FINAL SHOTS:
Here are some of my wife’s favorites that she is deciding between for the website, though there were 14 photos that made her final cut.
Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VRII goes to the Ballpark
My wife and I came upon tickets to the last game of the 2011 Baseball regular game between the Houston Astros and St. Louis Cardinals. Though, I am from Houston, I was hoping to see the Cardinals win since a Wild Card Playoff position was at stake for them. Anyway, I digress but this was my first chance to take my Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VRII lens to a professional sporting event. I also brought my Nikon TC-20EIII teleconverter to see how it might perform when paired with the 70-200mm f2.8 at such an event.
First, I would highly recommend that you check with any ballpark or stadium that you plan to bring any lens “larger” lens. Personally, I assumed that the 70-200mm f2.8 was not large enough to even attract attention by the “bag checkers” at the gates, but I was wrong. The lady at the bag inspection table actually said she would need to ask her supervisor if the lens was too big to all in the stadium. He said it was fine to allow in, but the fact that it was even in question makes me want to give this advice.
Overall, I was very pleased with the performance of the Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VRII both alone and with the Nikon TC-20EIII teleconverter…at least for my purposes. Obviously, the teleconverter limited the acceptable shots to predominately stationary photos of players, but I also got several good action photos despite a slower shutter speed to compensate for the increased f-stop. You could probably get away with even a faster shutter speed with a FX camera that would allow for higher ISO.
Shooting conditions: Indoor stadium/baseball park with roof closed and stadium lights on
(BELOW) Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VRII at 240mm, f5.6, 1/125 sec and ISO 400
(BELOW) Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VRII at 200mm, f2.8, 1/200 sec and ISO 400
(BELOW) Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VRII at 195mm, f2.8, 1/200 sec and ISO 400
(BELOW) Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VRII at 200mm, f2.8, 1/200sec, and ISO 400
(BELOW) Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VRII at 190mm, f2.8, 1/250 sec and ISO 400
(BELOW) Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VRII with TC-20EIII teleconverter at 400mm, f5.6, 1/125 sec and ISO 400
(BELOW) Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VRII with TC-20EIII teleconverter at 400mm,f5.6, 1/125 sec and ISO 400
(BELOW) Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VRII with TC-20EIII teleconverter at 400mm, f5.6, 1/125 sec and ISO 400
Feel free to leave comments or your experiences…
Nikon 200-400mm f4 VRII lens with teleconverters – July 23, 2011
Before I get started describing my impression of the Nikon 200-400mm f4 VRII lens with teleconverters, I want to make it clear that I do NOT own this lens. I was able to borrow it from a friend one moring to do some test shots and get an initial impression. As a result, all of my findings are based on a single day shooting with the lens both with and without teleconverters including the 1.4x (TC-14EII), 1.7x (TC-17EII), and 2.0x (TC-20EIII). Please take my results for what they are and read other reviews in addition to this one if you are seriously considering this lens in combination with teleconverters. For convience, I have included two links to other more detailed reviews at the end of this thread.
Unfortunately, the shooting conditions were less than ideal for this test. First of all, I wanted to have a living, relatively interesting, and stationary subject to photograph. The tigers seemed like a good choice at the time, except that they were not as eager to have their photo taken that morning. As a result, the series of photos below were shot with the tiger in a shaded area of the enclosure. This resulted in less than optimal lighting conditions for the test photographs. On the other hand, this scenerio mimics the challenges you might be faced with when you are shooting in the field with this lens and teleconverter combination. Also, I did use a tripod and Wimberly gimbal head for all photos in the series below and all photos were taken with the Nikon D300. I am considering doing a repeat test in a more controlled environment with better light to help eliminate slow shutter speed from the equation. This factor was increasingly evident with the 1.7x tele at 580mm equivalent and even more so with the 2.0x teleconverter at 800mm equivalent. So, as I mentioned before, take the results for what they are.
My Overall Impression:
Nikon 200-400mm f4 VRII WITHOUT teleconverters :
-Excellent sharpness, color, and contrast
-Immediate and responsive autofocus on the Nikon D300 body
-I found images to be quite good at all ends of the zoom spectrum including wide open at f4
-Even though I used a tripod, I did take some photos handheld and found it manageable
Nikon 200-400mm f4 VRII WITH 1.4x (TC-14EII) teleconverter:
-Overall good to excellent image quality in most photos within a series
-Autofocus remained fast and responsive…I noticed very little change compared to the autofocus without a teleconverter
-This seems to be a rather good combination when you need a bit more reach without too much aperture sacrifice
Nikon 200-400mm f4 VRII WITH 1.7x (TC-17EII) teleconverter:
-Overall fair image quality with a few good shots mixed in…probably more unacceptable photos that keepers
-Started to notice adverse results of camera vibration from slow aperture and teleconverter
-Autofocus was slow but did fuction most of the time, though it had a tendency to hunt
-Personally, I would only use this combination when I absolutely had too
***Nikon 200-400mm f4 VRII WITH 2.0x (TC-20EIII) teleconverter:
-Overall soft images were a results of camera shake artifact from slow shutter speeds and the combination of the teleconverter. One out of every ten photos was decent enough to post on this blog, but none we that I would brag about.
-Extremely slow to no existent autofocus. Most of the time it would just hunt without finding focus
-Personally, I would only use this combination when I absolutely had too, or maybe not even then. Perhaps further testing in better light condition will change this.
***The results at 800mm equivalent with the 2.0x teleconverter are difficult to evaluate and perhaps even down right inconclusive. Because of the significant camera shake artifact, I personally will not make any conclusions about the quality of this combo, other than saying you will need a good amount of lighting to overcome the aperture limitations. I don’t blame the tiger for wanting to stay in the shade out of the Texas heat, but it didn’t make my lens-teleconverter test easier. So, the softness and slight blur in these images is likely due in part to the expected loss in image quality associated with a teleconverter, but then magnified significantly by camera shake (remember I am posting the best example of each). I think these results do bring up a valid argument of why one should NOT rely on the 200-400mm f4 to be a consistent performer with the 2.0x teleconverter. Anything less that a brillantly bright scene will leave you with either extremely slow shutter speed camera shake artifact or high ISO graininess, since you are stuck with a maximum aperture of f8 with this combo. Based on these findings, I personally don’t consider the 200-400mm plus 2.0x teleconverter a realistic option for use in the field for my purposes. I would have no reservations about using it with the 1.4x teleconverter however. I am kinda neutral on the idea of using it with the 1.7x teleconverter, though I don’t think I would if I had other options (which I do). I spoke to the owner of the 200-400mm f4 lens that I borrowed and shared these findings. She agreed with my observations and added that she only uses the 1.4x teleconverter with this lens for her photography. Overall, she found the results with the Nikon 200-400mm f4 VRII with the 1.7x or 2.0x teleconverters to be too inconsistent and require too much light for proper function.
Anyway, this is my impression but don’t take my word for it. See the results for yourself. Click on the photo to enlarge and click a second time to view at 100%. I have also added a few high power crops to give you an idea of the detail preservation at higher magnification without the need open the picture fully.
(Below) Nikon 200-400mm f 4 VRII at 200mm , f4, 1/60 sec – NO TELECONVERTER
(Below) Nikon 200-400mm f 4 VRII at 400mm , f4, 1/80 sec – NO TELECONVERTER
(Below) Close Crop – Nikon 200-400mm f 4 VRII at 400mm , f4, 1/80 sec – NO TELECONVERTER
(Below) Nikon 200-400mm f 4 VRII at 560mm , f5.6, 1/50 sec – WITH 1.4x (TC-14EII) teleconverter
(Below) Close Crops- Nikon 200-400mm f 4 VRII at 560mm , f5.6, 1/50 sec – WITH 1.4x (TC-14EII) teleconverter
(Below) Nikon 200-400mm f 4 VRII at 560mm , f8, 1/25 sec – WITH 1.4x (TC-14EII) teleconverter
(Below) Close Crops- Nikon 200-400mm f 4 VRII at 560mm , f8, 1/25 sec – WITH 1.4x (TC-14EII) teleconverter
(Below) Nikon 200-400mm f 4 VRII at 680mm , f6.7, 1/15 sec – WITH 1.7x (TC-17EII) teleconverter
(Below) Close Crops- Nikon 200-400mm f 4 VRII at 680mm , f6.7, 1/15 sec – WITH 1.7x (TC-17EII) teleconverter
(Below) Nikon 200-400mm f 4 VRII at 680mm , f8, 1/15 sec – WITH 1.7x (TC-17EII) teleconverter
(Below) Close Crops- Nikon 200-400mm f 4 VRII at 680mm , f8, 1/15 sec – WITH 1.7x (TC-17EII) teleconverter
(Below) Nikon 200-400mm f 4 VRII at 800mm, f8, 1/40 sec – WITH 2.0x (TC-20EIII) teleconverter
(Below) Close Crops- Nikon 200-400mm f 4 VRII at 800mm , f8, 1/40sec – WITH 2.0x (TC-20EIII) teleconverter
(Below) Nikon 200-400mm f 4 VRII at at 800mm, f10, 1/20 sec – WITH 2.0x (TC-20EIII) teleconverter
(Below) Close Crops- Nikon 200-400mm f 4 VRII at 800mm , f10, 1/20 sec – WITH 2.0x (TC-20EIII) teleconverter
Here are a couple of links to some more detailed reviews on this lens if you are interested:
Feel free to share your own experience with the Nikon 200-400mm f4 VRII with teleconverters.
Nikon 300mm f2.8 VRII with TC-20EIII teleconverter – Big Cats June 2011
Now that I have completed my boards exams, I finally have had the chance to actually get out of the house to take some photos. I only made it 5 miles down the road the our local zoo, but still it’s better than nothing. Plus, I have always loved big cats, and the Houston Zoo has a decent collection. These sample photos were taken with the Nikon 300mm f2.8 VRII lens, and show results both with the Nikon TC-20EIII teleconverter and without it. I did bring my tripod with me this time and this resulted in fewer downright unusable photos as compared to the previous trip without a tripod. The results at 600mm with the 2.0x teleconverter are still very good in my opinion, especially for “normal” viewing or printing. I am sure some of you “pixel peepers” will notice that there is some softening and minor loss of image quality associated with the teleconverter that is noticable at full magnification. But overall this combination continues to produce quality results and I have no regrets about the lens or teleconverter purchases.
Click on the photo to enlarge and click a second time to view at 100%. I have also added a few high power crops to give you an idea of the detail preservation at higher magnification without the need open the picture fully.
NO TELECONVERTER – Nikon 300mm f2.8 VRII lens only
(Below) 300mm, f2.8, 1/200sec:
(Below) 300mm, f3.2, 1/200sec:
(Below) 300mm, f3.2, 1/200sec (100% crop from upper portion of the above tiger photo):
Another high power crop below to show the detail captured by this lens…
(Below) 300mm, f4, 1/250sec:
(Below) 300mm, f4, 1/320sec:
(Below) 300mm, f4, 1/320sec (100% crop from upper portion of the above cheetah photo):
WITH TELECONVERTER – Nikon 300mm f2.8 VRII with TC-20EIII (2.0x)
(Below) 600 mm (300mm + TC-20EIII), f5.6, 1/125sec:
(Below) 600 mm (300mm + TC-20EIII), f6.3, 1/100sec (notice the point of focus is the nose):
(Below) 100% crop of the nose from the photo above:
(Below) 600 mm (300mm + TC-20EIII), f5.6, 1/125sec (notice the point of focus is the nose):
(Below) 600 mm (300mm + TC-20EIII), f6.3, 1/200sec (great detail in the teeth and jaw):
(Below) High power crop from the photo above…
(Below) 600 mm (300mm + TC-20EIII), f6.3, 1/125sec:
MORE PHOTOS TO BE ADDED SOON…
Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VRII with TC-17EII and TC-20EIII teleconverters – June 2011
I finally had a chance to take the Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VRII lens out and do some more test shots with both the Nikon TC-17EII (1.7x) teleconverter and the Nikon TC-20EIII (2.0x) teleconverter. ALL of the photos below were shot handheld, and the best photo out of about five shots was selected to post. Overall, the final results are good with both of these teleconverters and the 70-200mm f2.8 VRII, but not perfect. Perhaps some “pixel peepers” will not be happy with results from these combinations but overall, I think they do a fine job for the money, compared to larger and more expensive glass. The photos that were not selected for posting are variable in quality, with most suffering from camera shake artifact since I was shooting handheld in only moderate light. I will likely repeat these tests again at a later date with a tripod to eliminate camera shake from the equation. None the less, I was able to get results that I was happy with, even wide open, with both teleconverters. You can be the judge for yourself. Also, all photo are UNEDITED, straight from the camera (except watermarking) unless otherwise stated.
(BELOW) Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VRII WITHOUT teleconverter:
(BELOW) 200mm f2.8, 1/320sec (Wide Open)
(BELOW) 200mm f4, 1/200sec
(BELOW) 200mm f6.3, 1/80sec
(BELOW) Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VRII WITH TC-17EII (1.7x) teleconverter:
(BELOW) 340mm f4.8, 1/125sec (Wide Open)
(BELOW) 340mm f4.8, 1/125sec – SHARPENING ONLY
(BELOW) 340mm f6.3, 1/80sec
(BELOW) 340mm f8, 1/50sec
(BELOW) Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VRII WITH TC-20EIII (2.0x) teleconverter:
(BELOW) 400mm f5.6, 1/100sec (Wide Open)
(BELOW) 400mm f5.6, 1/100sec – SHARPENING ONLY
(BELOW) 400mm f6.3, 1/80sec
All photos at 400mm equivalent over f6.3 suffered from significant camera shake and were not included.
Below are some additional photos with the 70-200mm f2.8 VRII and teleconverters…
(BELOW) 400mm f8, 1/60sec
(BELOW) 400mm f7.1, 1/100sec
(BELOW) 400mm f7.1, 1/100sec
(BELOW) 400mm f5.6, 1/100sec – SHARPENING (Wide Open)
(Below) 200mm f2.8, 1/250sec – SHARPENING (Wide Open)
My Photography Equipment Reviews & Image Galleries
Nikon 300mm f2.8 VRII
Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VRII
Nikon TC-20EIII Teleconverter
Sigma 150-500mm f5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM
Don Zeck Lens Cap
Better Beamer Flash Extender
Lexas Professional UDMA Compact Flash Memory Cards
Check out more photos at my website : http://ksqphotography.zenfolio.com/
Feedback is always welcome!
LensCoatTM Review and Impression
This is a quick review to express my impression of the LensCoatTM product that I own for my Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VRII , Nikon 300mm f2.8 VRII lenses, and teleconverter set:
“LensCoatTM Lens Covers are manufactured from 100% closed-cell neoprene, offering protection from bumps, jars and nicks”, “provide a thermal barrier, protecting your hands from cold lenses in lower temperatures”, “are easy to install and remove, sliding on like a sleeve, leaving no residue on the lens”, “and LensCoat™ lens covers are waterproof, providing protection in harsh conditions. Other features include a clear, flexible UV-PVC window over the AF/IS/VR controls and the distance-scale window. The LensCoat™ also features custom holes that reveal the red-dot for easy alignment to the camera body without removing the cover” – From the lenscoat.com website
As I mentioned before, I own the LensCoatTM for two lenses and my set of teleconverters. In all, I spent around $190 for all of these lens covers. That breaks down to $30 for teleconverter covers, $80 for 70-200mm f2.8 VRII, and $80 for 300mm f2.8 VRII. After making the substantial investment in my lenses and teleconverters, I figured I should do everything possible to protect them. LensCoatTM seemed like a reasonable option. Though I do not completely regret purchasing this product, I do feel that it is overpriced for what you end up with. Honestly, I may not have purchased the LensCoatTM again if given the opportunity. Here’s my list of PROS and CONS…you can decide for yourself if they would be worth the money to you:
1. Good overall fit – The LensCoatTM “cover” is actually composed of multiple band-like strips of neoprene that have been precut to the dimensions of each section of the lens. These sections have been sewed together along one side. Realistically, I probably could have made these myself with a little effort and materials. Probably would have cost me around $10..maybe $20 tops!
2. Light weight, non-intrusive – As you would expect from thin strips of neoprene, the coat does not add much weight to you lens, nor does it alter your ability to hold the lens.
3. Good scratch prevention – This is the main reason I wanted the LensCoatTM. I seriously doubt the covers will do anything to prevent damage if I were to drop my lens or really bang it against something. Instead, I wanted something to protect the surface from dings, dents, or scracthes when I place the lens against hard/irregular surfaces for balance, or from other accidental scratches (ie . equipment to equipment rubbing).
1. Expensive – At approximately $20 for their smallest cover for the 50mm f1.8, or over $100 for the largest cover for the 600mm f4, these strips of protective neoprene that make up a LensCoatTM cover aren’t cheap. You might find that your money is better spent on other items.
2. Difficult to access AF/IS/VR control buttons – Despite the advertised “clear, flexible UV-PVC window over the AF/IS/VR controls and the distance-scale window” (seen above), I found it really difficult to actually make fast changes to setting using this button panel on the lens with the LensCoatTM section attached. Sure, it is possible to switch the buttons through the clear plastic, but it is not easy in my opinion… and definitely not easy to do quickly. I constantly found myself rolling this section down out of the way when I needed to access these buttons. Finally I just took the section off both of my lenses all together, so now the buttons are not covered. Now, I have at least one section of the cover that I am not using…
3. Slightly hinders manual focus– On the 70-200mm model at least, one of the sections goes over the manual focus ring (see from the photo above). I was not a big fan of this as it made it more difficult to quickly locate the manual focus by touch, since all of the neoprene sections feel the same. So I ended up taking this section off my cover also. Now there are two sections not being used…
4. Hinders seeing alignment “dot” on lens and teleconverter for attachment to camera – It is true that the LensCoatTM covers have a “custom holes that reveal the red-dot for easy alignment to the camera body”. However, it is not easy to see this hole or keep it perfectly aligned over the dot, in my opinion. I feel that I am constantly having the roll the edge of the cover up slightly in order to confidently find my alignment dots. I actually went as far as to make my own mark on the surface of the lens cover to designate the spot of the dot, but I still have to double check each time since there can be a slight shift in the cover after a lens has been in your bag. I definitely don’t want to ruin a mount on the camera or lens because I was not able to see the alignment marks. Despite this annoyance, I did keep this section on both of my lenses.
5. Edge roll – I find this especially true on the “irregular” shaped portions of the lens like some lens hoods. For example the lens hood on the Nikon 70-200 f2.8 VRII version, has an undulating curved edge. As a result, the lens cover for this piece does not stay on very well. It like to roll or even invert at the edges. Sure, I could probably use two-sided tape or something to fasten it down, but I chose not to do this. I really don’t want any adhesive residue to deal with in the future. So, you guessed it…I took this section off also 🙂 This is not a problem on the Nikon 300mm f2.8 lens hood since it is essentially a cylinder shape and stay on rather nicely.
So overall, I have mixed feelling about the LensCoatTM. On the most basic level they does prevent cosmetic blemishes on the surface of the lens and this could help retain value if I ever were to sell the lens. However, I personally don’t use every section that comes with the LensCoatTM cover for the reasons that I already mentioned. In an ideal world, the sections of the LensCoatTM would be sold seperately and a person could just purchase the sections that they would actually use…for a cheaper price of course. Oh well that’s camera equipment for you. Hope this helps. Feel free to share you comments, experiences or just leave feedback, as it is greatly appreciated!!