Character portraits with Adara Toop at Studio 116

Spent a couple hours with Adara Toop at Studio 116 in Seattle the other week, exploring some fun ideas for character portraits. Goal was to focus on mood rather than effect for my lighting, so kept it very simple - relying primarily on a 1 or 2 light setup, using flags and subtraction panels to focus and define the light, and deepen shadows.

Shot with my Nikon D850 and a variety of lenses, Profoto B1s, Elinchrom Rotalux 100cm deep octa, Elinchrom Litemotiv 120cm parabolic, Profoto 5 ft octa.

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Elinchrom Rotalux Deep Octa 100cm with and without 40 degree grid

Was asked to do a quick comparison of the light output from my Elinchrom Rotalux Deep Octa 100cm with and without the 40 degree grid that I had custom made from this fellow here: https://sites.google.com/site/gridssoftbox/

Here we are metered at f5.6 SS 1/200 iso 100 with the Deep Octa mounted on a Profoto D1 Air 500w. As you can see, pretty much spills everywhere.

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And here it is with the 40 degree grid. I meter at f6.3 with the grid, so you lose a third stop of light with it on so super minimal. Works amazing for when you’re in a small space and want to limit the amount of spill bouncing around the room, reeking havoc on your end exposure.

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Some test shots of the Nikon 28 f1.4E

Decided to pick up the legendary Nikon 28mm f1.4E to use for some upcoming commercial shoots that required a bit more intimate focal length. Just some snapshots from an offsite event on a boat. Shot with a Nikon D810. Really like this focal length. 28mm is great as a candid focal length, as it's just wide enough to get people in the shot towards the edges that don't think they're in the frame :) It also is right at the point where you have to be a little careful about having people at the extreme edges, but not quite as much as say a 24 f1.4 which I find too wide for general usage. 

100% crop of the above image - exceptionally sharp at f1.4

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Watch out for counterfeit D750 MBD16 grips on eBay!

I purchased a suspiciously inexpensive Nikon MBD16 vertical battery grip from an eBay seller that claimed it was authentic.

When I received it, the box and even the papers had some convincing Nikon branding on it. It even had a fake warranty card in it!

However, what made me suspicious is that the battery grip did not have rubber coated front and rear dials like my MBD18 grip (for my D850). Also, the AF joystick on the grip had a "clicky" imprecise feel that I've found to be present on the clone grips sold under the Meike, Vello, DCOplus, etc brand names. What ended up making me realize it was fake however was that the serial number is "2000082", which is not a valid serial number - also if you look at the auctions on ebay, you'll notice that ALL of these counterfeit suspiciously cheap battery grips have the same serial number regardless of which seller it is!! Unfortunately eBay is not doing a good job filtering out these fakes, so hopefully this post helps people avoid my mistake. Pics below - as you can see the packaging is very convincing.

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Why I love my D750

Here are some quick samples of various images that I've shot with my D750. Though I have a D850, I honestly at times prefer to shoot with the smaller megapixel and lighter D750, especially when I'm just shooting for fun.

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And here are some recent shots from PegaWorld in Vegas where I photographed attendees of the event for LinkedIn.

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Sony A7rii grip rubber replacement DIY

UPDATE: I have since sold off all of my Sony gear and moved to Nikon. As with any DIY project, unfamiliarity with tools and process can lead to damage so this post should be construed as theoretical advice only. If you are at all uncomfortable or inexperienced working on DIY electronics projects, please reconsider doing the job yourself. By using this website, you agree to indemnify Sung Park ("the Company") for any and all claims, damages, losses arising out of using the information in this website. The materials on this site are distributed "as is" and appear on the site without express or implied warranties of any kind, except those required by the relevant legislation. In particular the Company makes no warranty as to the accuracy, quality, completeness or applicability of the information provided.

I've put my main A7rii body through a lot this past year, and apparently my somewhat acidic skin doesn't help much.  A big chunk had come out of the thumb pad area on the back of the camera body, which proved to be incredibly annoying.

Thankfully, unlike the mark 1 A7 bodies (which had the rubber portion integrated into the back plate), Sony made the smart decision to make the rubber portion a separate part number that is surprisingly cheap at about $35 plus shipping: https://www.encompassparts.com/item/10855597/Sony/X-2591-929-3/Grip_Assy_(795),_Rear

Important: It appears that the back plate and rubber grip is slightly different on the A7ii versus the A7rii. Make sure that you order the A7ii rubber grip part, not the A7rii one as there appear to be subtle differences between the two. The A7rii has more magnesium alloy bracing on the back plate, whereas the A7ii does not seem to have the alloy on the back plate. Also the A7ii grip rubber seems to be attached with a few dabs of epoxy based on the photo I was sent, whereas the A7rii grip rubber does not have epoxy and instead is held on with 3 plastic tabs and the two screws. Perhaps the magnesium alloy on the A7rii back plate offers enough stiffness that the plastic tabs are able to hold it in position better?

Here is a pic of an A7ii back plate with integrated rubber grip alongside an A7r2 rubber grip. If you look closely at the A7ii back plate, you'll see that the rubber grip is held on with semi-permanent plastic rivets that appear to be melted or glued to attach the grip. If you compare it with the A7rii back plate later in this post, you'll see they are different as the A7r2 rubber grip is attached via a couple tension clips and screws and is not permanently mounted to the back plate.

Here is the new A7rii grip rubber compared to the tatty old one:

And now the teardown.. First though, I'd like to say that do no try to attempt this unless you are comfortable working with extremely delicate electronics. Basically the steps are as follows:

1) Remove bottom plate, tripod mount plate, and battery door

Remove side screws on both sides (a couple are hiding under the usb/hdmi port covers)

Remove EVF cup, four screws that hold the piece below it in, as well as the adjustment screw. I'd recommend holding the adjust knob with your finger as you unscrew it as it probably isn't a good idea to torque against the internal stop of the adjuster.

And now the hardest part, and the part where it's easy to screw things up - remove the LCD. You also need to remove the two plates covering the ribbon on the arm, and if you want more slack, loosen the dab of glue holding the LCD ribbon onto the pivot arm. I did not completely disconnect the LCD ribbon as just removing the plates gave me enough slack to remove the back plate of the camera, but proceed with caution if you are doing this yourself as you can easily damage the fragile LCD ribbon in this process. To clarify, when I did this repair, I kept the pivot arm attached to the LCD screen, and just removed the pivot arm + LCD screen assembly from the back of the camera body.

Once you have the LCD and pivoting arm off, very very very carefully remove the back plate of the camera. There should be almost no resistance at this point. If you meet resistance, then STOP. It means you are snagging something vital, or haven't removed enough of the screws.

The reason why you have to remove the back plate is because the rubber grip is attached to the camera back plate from the other side with two screws. As you can see, the ribbon is still in place, so I've carefully positioned the rest of the camera on a little pad to keep it from moving around. Aside from the two screws, there are three very small tabs that hold the grip in. You have to lever the old rubber grip piece out, and the new one in, and then snap the little tabs in carefully because otherwise the new grip won't sit flush.

And then re-assembly is the reverse process again taking care not to bend anything vital. And now my A7rii feels good as new for only $35, and I've avoid the $250 minimum cost to bring it into a sony service center.

If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments below, or email me at info@sungparkphotography.com

Also, if you found this post useful and it helped save you a couple hundred bucks sending it into Sony service, a donation of a few bucks is always appreciated via paypal.