How Does Steiner Optic's Newest Binocular Perform? We Found Out!

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Right out of the box, I can tell there’s something… different about these binoculars. Even through the plastic bag in which they’re wrapped for shipping, I can feel the soft armoring and the raised finger ridges that speak to how comfortable they will be to hold. When I pick them up for the first time, there’s a disquieting dissonance in my brain as it tells me that a binocular with large 56mm objective lenses should be heavy and front-loaded, yet they feel light and center-balanced. These are my first impressions of the new Steiner Optics 8×56 ShadowQuest binocular—and I haven’t even taken the caps off yet.

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Steiner 8×56 ShadowQuest Binocular

It’s about 30 minutes after sunset when I step onto my back porch. The ShadowQuest is built for the dark and I’m ready to start putting it through its paces. The moderate 8x magnification and large 56mm objective lenses produce an exceptional 7mm exit pupil that completely cover my own pupils when they open and fully dilate in the dark. This allowed me to take full advantage of the ultra-wide 67-degree apparent angle of view without vignetting. The massive objectives also gather the copious amounts of light required for low-light performance, and when those objectives are treated with Steiner’s Diamond Night lens coatings (which uses rare-earth materials to maximize light transmission to greater than 96%), the capabilities of the binocular are further increased.

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Dream in Cinema 4K with the HP 31.1″ Z31x DreamColor Studio Cinema 4K IPS…

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If you’re a professional working in color photography, video editing, motion graphics, color correction, visual effects, or compositing, the HP Z31x 31.1″ 17:9 DreamColor Studio Cinema 4K IPS Display can help to improve your workflow and bring bold visions to life. This 31.1″ anti-glare, BrightView panel offers a large working area with supported resolutions up to Cinema 4K (4096 x 2160) @ 60 Hz, In-Plane Switching (IPS) technology with associated viewing angles of up to 178°, a widescreen 17:9 aspect ratio, a static contrast ratio of 1500:1, 250 cd/m2 brightness, and a 10 ms response time. Content can be input from your host system using dual DisplayPort 1.2 ports, dual HDMI 2.0 ports, and one USB Type-C port, which supports DisplayPort 1.2 and power delivery up to 60W for compatible peripherals. Other featured connections include four USB 3.0 Type-A ports (downstream) and one USB 3.0 Type-B port (upstream).

HP has engineered the Z31x with 10-bit color that supports 100% of the sRGB, BT.709, and Adobe RGB gamuts, 99% of the DCI-P3 gamut, and 80% of the BT.2020 gamut. To further help improve viewing and accessibility, the Z31x features a tilt of -5 to 30°, a swivel of ±45°, and a height adjustment of 4.6″. If you’ve been looking to upgrade your workstation with a Cinema 4K display that also maintains accurate color using a pop-up sensor for on-demand or scheduled calibration, HP’s Z31x is certainly worth considering.

Do you work with Cinema 4K content or find large displays beneficial? Share your thoughts, below.

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Your Favorite Shure SE-Series In-Ear Headphones Are Now Wireless

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Shure has been on a mission recently to expand its footprint into the digital audio realm (with a bit of a focus on iOS), throwing the company’s reputation for pro audio and consumer headphones into new designs, such as the Motiv line of iOS-friendly microphones and the RMCE-LTG cable (reviewed here), designed to let you use your SE series in-ear headphones with the now headphone-jack-less iPhone.

In a not shocking, but welcome step, Shure has introduced the RMCE-BT1, a Bluetooth adapter cable that allows you to use your SE series in-ears (or any third party in-ears that use MMCX connectors) wirelessly. I got my hands on the cable, bundled with the SE215 in-ears, and started putting it through its paces.

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Top Media Tech Picks from B&H Product Experts

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As they say, a company is only as great as the people within it. The product experts at B&H exemplify this adage daily, in the personal attention they offer every customer interaction, as well as their depth of knowledge and passion for practical solutions.

“Many people don’t realize, it’s not just knowing the tech that’s important; the sales reps behind the counter get customer feedback about the items that serve people best,” explains B&H Sony Specialist Yisroel Ybgi. “So, their recommendations are not only based on what it says in a spec sheet.”

We asked several B&H Product Experts about their top gear picks while sourcing quotes for our catalog’s inside front cover. Here are just a few of their favorites.

Fit a Power Zoom in Your Pocket with the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX90V/DSC-HX80

For customers seeking an inexpensive camera with a power zoom, Ybgi recommends the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX90V, featuring a Zeiss Vario-Sonnar 30x Optical Zoom Lens. “This is the smallest power zoom camera with an electronic viewfinder, making it ideal for a user to just slip it into a pocket,” he says.

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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX90V Digital Camera

Given its 35mm focal-length equivalency of 24-720mm, and Sony’s proprietary ClearImage Zoom technology, which effectively doubles the lens’s reach (60x) while maintaining image quality, Ybgi finds the viewfinder offers users a big advantage. “When you’ve got that much zoom, and it is even slightly sunny outside, the glare on the LCD screen is going to be an issue, he explains. “The viewfinder will let you see what you’re photographing, and it also helps you to stabilize the image.”

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Halloween-Themed Video Gifts

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Let us be serious here—the holidays are no time for fooling around, especially Halloween. If you are looking for that last-minute gift for the video maker in your life, party ideas, or just planning for next year, here are a few treats for you.

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B&H at AES 2017 in NYC

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It’s that time of (every other) year again—AES has graced New York City’s Jacob Javitz center with goods, wares, lectures, and various expos. We at B&H were happy to hit the convention, taking a field trip from our SuperStore to peruse the goings-on. Boasting Shure and Sennheiser selections, Dangerous and Manley offerings, and many “masters” to mix with, AES was a veritable who’s who of pro-audio profundity. Notable booths included Chandler Limited, that expanded its 500-series slate with the TG Opto Compressor and TG12345 MKIV EQ. Dangerous Music—venerable gurus of transparent audio—brought out the new CONVERT-AD+, a high-end mastering converter with clip-protection. Focusrite was on hand to explain its new Focusrite Pro division, as were Eventide, who exhibited its flagship processor, the H9000. Showcasing everything from sound-based therapeutic tools to podcasting equipment to high-end studio gear and more, the AES convention had us floating on a cloud—an iLok Cloud, that is; everyone’s favorite software-licensing gatekeeper put us through our paces, demonstrating how its new service might free us all from the dongle! More highlights are sure to follow, but that’s all for now.

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10 Essential Pieces of Ghost-Hunting Gear

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Before I started writing for B&H, I wrote and produced promos, trailers, and launch campaigns for a variety of paranormal investigative TV shows for a network that primarily airs Sci-Fi programming. In that role, I’ve spent literally weeks of my life watching those shows and, as a consequence, became fairly familiar with the gear that they all seemed to use—and it turns out that their kits were all surprisingly similar. So as we move into the Halloween season and ghosts and ghouls are on people’s minds, I’m here to share some of the essential gear that you’ll need if you decide to go out and hunt some ghosts.

It’s commonly accepted that ghosts tend to manifest themselves at night. There’s a great deal of speculation as to why this is, but a popular theory is that ghosts and other paranormal entities “feed” off of our psychic energy. The theory further posits that when we’re awake, our minds are occupied with life and all that goes into it, but at night when we’re asleep, our minds are less distracted and our defenses are down, so they have access to our mental energy. This is why most investigators work at night.

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A Brief History of Paranormal Photography

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Paranormal: Phenomena analogous to physical phenomena but with no known physical cause, as mediumistic “raps,” telekinesis, etc. According to an article in the Oxford Journals, the word “paranormal” was first defined, as noted above, in the 1920 revision of Webster’s New International Dictionary of the English Language.

While the existence of otherworldly phenomena, i.e., references to ghosts, apparitions, and other unexplainable forces, dates back to the dawn of civilization, the term paranormal and its related activities has its roots in the Victorian era, a time period that also witnessed the invention of photography and the rise of the Spiritualist movement.

Spiritualism, the belief that spirits of the dead have the ability to communicate with the living, developed and flourished from the 1840s to the 1920s, particularly in English-speaking countries.

Above photograph © Shannon Taggart

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Lily Dale historian Ron Nagy with painting of the Fox sisters, Margaret and Kate, the founders of Spiritualism, with their eldest sister, Leah; Lily Dale, New YorkShannon Taggart

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Podcast: Bird Photography

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Bird photography is a big deal around B&H, and we’re not just talking about the lenses needed to get those wonderful close-ups of warblers, herons, gulls, and raptors. Bird photography is a passion that grabs pros and amateurs alike and seems to not let go; there are very few photographers as dedicated to their craft (and gear) as bird photographers. We are fortunate to have two photographers with us to discuss the gear, technique, and protocols necessary to capture pleasing images of our feathered friends.

David Speiser is a member of the Board of Directors of New York City Audubon and has been an avid bird photographer for more than twenty years. He has an incredible body of work that includes birds of all varieties, and brings not only technical excellence to his photographs, but a birder’s meticulousness to his archive. Klemens Gasser is a visual artist who became enthralled with birding several years ago and turned his fixation into an exhibit of bird photographs enlarged to 72 inches across. He brings an artist’s spirit to his bird photography and humor to our discussion, and clearly loves the thrill of the chase.

We speak with these two photographers about the gear and apps they use, their shooting styles, favorite locations, and how digital technology has transformed bird photography. Join us for some very practical advice and a fun conversation.

Guests: David Speiser and Klemens Gasser

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Shooting in the Studio with the Nikon D850 DSLR

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By now you have probably heard a lot about the Nikon D850 DSLR. This new camera has been lauded by Nikon fans (and critics) and you’ll get no argument from me. As a colleague phrased it, “Nikon gave us everything we asked for with this camera,” and certainly, it is blessed with Nikon’s best features and latest technologies, including a 45.7MP sensor, native ISO to 25600, 153-point autofocus, a tilting, touchscreen LCD, and 4K UHD video. We took the D850 and a selection of Zeiss Milvus lenses to egg studios, in Brooklyn, to use the camera in a studio setting with natural light and strobes.

With a small team of artists, we put together an enjoyable shoot that highlights the camera’s most impressive features, not to mention the talents of makeup artist Tashi Honnery, model Lara Wolf, and photographer Cory Rice. I produced the shoot, took some BTS photos and spoke with Rice about his experiences using this camera. Below is an excerpt from our conversation and some of the photos we shot that day.

Photographs © Cory Rice and John Harris

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