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DivePhotoGuide Visits Popular Photography Magazine's Testing Lab
By Jason Heller, October 5, 2007 @ 02:00 AM (EST)

by Jason Heller & Mike McNamara

The other day Mike McNamara invited me over to the Popular Photography & Imaging Magazine offices. New York is home to many media powerhouses, and the parent company behind Pop Photo, Hachette Filipacchi, and the massive holding company behind them, Lagardere, are names to be reckoned with.

So it was no surprise to see the in-house testing labs and dark room where all the camera, flash and printer tests are performed. Some of the testing equipment is identical to what the manufacturers themselves use to test optical quality and color accuracy of cameras and lenses. This lab is where Executive Technical Editor Mike McNamara calls home. For 17 years he has been testing and reviewing cameras. He has witnessed the digital evolution intimately and probably knows more about digital photography than just about anyone I've ever met.

Mike fills us in on some of the specifics regarding the lab and the types of testing going on...

Pop Photo Test Lab

Popular Photography and Imaging magazine maintains a state-of-the-art testing facility in New York City that gives it a technical advantage–and stellar reputation–over most of the photo-related magazines available in the US or world wide.

The testing facility occupies a 1800 square foot area and is divided into 10 rooms including three offices for full time employees. The primary testing areas include:

  1. Color accuracy and video test area

  2. Film and print paper darkroom test area

  3. Optical Lens Test Bench room

  4. Studio Zone for test target illumination and analysis

  5. Printer and scanner test area

  6. Print viewing and analysis area

  7. Microscope evaluation are

The lab enables the objective testing of a wide variety of imaging products including digital and film cameras, flatbed and film scanners, inkjet and dye sub color printers, digital projectors, video camcorders, and interchangeable lenses.

  1. Digital cameras are tested for camera resolution, color accuracy and saturation, noise levels at various ISO settings, contrast and dynamic range, viewfinder accuracy and magnification and autofocus speed. In addition, we test the built in lens on compact cameras for lens distortion, light falloff, chromatic abberation.

  2. Interchangeable lenses are tested on our computerized lens test bench for focal length accuracy, center to corner sharpness, contrast, aperture accuracy, and close focusing position. DxO 3.0 targets and analysis software help us determine lens distortion, light falloff, and chromatic aberration.

  3. Scanners are tested for color accuracy, speed, contrast and resolution. Flatbed scanners are also tested to determine their film resolution and scanning capabilities.

  4. Printers are tested for color accuracy (including the provided profiles), speed, color saturation, and color gamut

In addition to objective lab tests, all of the products reviewed in the magazine are run through field tests that help us determine the ergonomics, ease-of-use, and usefulness of supplied software and utilities.  

Final word from the editor: In an ongoing commitment to bring our members and readers unique and comprehensive resources, Mike McNamara and I will be developing a series of structured pool and field testing of underwater photo and video equipment. Stay tuned!













Canon EOS R6 Mark II
Backscatter Mini Flash MF-2
Ikelite Housing for OM System OM-1
Nauticam NA-R7
Ikelite DS230
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