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Review:  Logan A-7A Slim Edge Light Pad


March 2013

I was looking for a good, inexpensive way to view slides and maybe photograph them with a macro lens. 

Browsing the selections at my favorite on-line vendors, I found that most light tables and light pads were $100 and up, with many of them being over $200.

First I thought I'd go to the local home improvement store and find some white glass, behind which I might put a bright light.  Easy, right?  A little backyard engineering and I'd have a homemade light table!  Well, finding a flat piece of white glass proved nigh impossible.  All the light fixtures had curved glass.  The ones with flat expanses of translucent white had a sort of diamond knurling that would render them useless for slide copying.   Naturally, the fluorescent lighting fixtures that did have exactly the kind of glass I wanted were big... and expensive.

I finally decided to buy a ready-made light pad.  I was looking for something that could accommodate 4x5 transparencies, had good, even lighting, and wasn't exorbitantly expensive.  My search yielded the Logan A-7A Slim Edge Light Pad.

(UPDATE:  For a while I didn't see the A7A for sale, but at the moment it's available here.  If not, my next choice is the Artograph 6 x 9 inch LightPad, available through this link, or the Port-a-Trace 8.5"x11" LED light panel, available here.)

The package had been sitting in the cold for a few hours.  When I plugged the included power supply in and turned on the light pad, there was at first a dim spot in the top center.  As the unit warmed up, the light became nice and even.  Dropping a 4x5 transparency on it (Kodak E100G, in case you're curious), I found the viewing space to be just right:  you could see the whole border of the 4x5, with a little bit of space around it.  The lit-up surface is also flush with the rest of the unit, allowing you to lay a piece of glass over the transparency to hold it flat, if you so choose.  That's a major plus if you're doing medium or large format stuff. 

I also found that the unit will accommodate up to four, mounted 35mm slides (but not at the same time as the 4x5 sheet!).  Not bad.  The lighting is just right, too.


The A-7A can run on six AAA batteries, or the included wall adapter.  Handy!

There isn't a whole lot else to be said about such a simple item, except that I'm really happy with it.  In fact, if you shoot film, I don't know how you can do without one of these!   I'd definitely recommend it if you're looking for a relatively inexpensive, self-contained light pad.  (Grab yours here and it helps support my site.)   It sure beats wasting a whole afternoon trying to find a flat piece of white glass and making your own light box!  Another thing I really like about the A-7A is that it's so small you can easily carry it in your gear box or even your camera bag.  It's only about 1/2 inch thick!

Just so you know, the A-7A has a plastic light surface.  Take care that you don't scratch it up with extended use.  As long as your slides (and your fingertips) are clean, there should be no problem.

Here's an article about macro capture where I use the Logan A7A as the light source.   To do it right, you will need a dedicated 1:1 macro lens for your DSLR.  

The photo below shows what happens when you don't use a macro lens.  The border shows the proportions of the actual image frame you'd get with the kit lens on an APS-C DSLR.  Believe it or not, I could probably print an 8x12 from such a capture... not that I would, though.  Starting with a 12 megapixel image and cropping down to the actual film area, I got 2456 x 1632 pixels.  That's around 3.8 megapixels, which is at least enough for a 4x6 print, and not totally out of the question for an 8x12...


Slide film looks even more awesome than a picture of slide film can convey to you.

A dedicated 1:1 macro lens will provide frame-filling capture of 35mm slides.  If your macro lens can't do 1:1 natively, there are extender tubes;  see the slide capture article for some thoughts on these.   There's also discussion of the other components you'll need to do slide capture the right way.

For me at least, a small light pad is better so you don't have to make a huge frame mask for it.  The frame mask is a piece of black construction paper that keeps the light from spilling around the outside of the slide, which would ruin your capture.  Obviously you could make a frame mask any size you like, though;  the advantage of a bigger light panel (such as the Porta Trace) is that you can view more of your slides at once.  

The Logan A7A is available here at the moment;  if it's not, another pad I recommend (the Artograph 6 x 9) is available through this link.  

Though somewhat bigger, I'd also strongly consider this light pad.   (If you want to get into their higher-end units which use bulbs, there's this one... but just remember the cost of replacement bulbs.)  

A light pad is more than just something on which to view your slides.  It's one of the key pieces of equipment for capturing slides or negatives with a DSLR.  The Logan A7A seems to do that job quite well. I use it practically every day.

         

If you found this article helpful, you can help me out by using the links on this page to buy your photo gear and electronics.  It won't cost you any extra, and it helps keep this site going.  Much appreciated, and thanks for reading!




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If you found this article helpful, you can help me out by using the links on this page to buy your photo gear and electronics.  It won't cost you any extra, and it helps keep this site going.  Much appreciated, and thanks for reading!




Contact me:

3 p o.t o .1 2 0 s t u d i o.. c o m


This won't directly copy and paste.  Please manually type it into your mail program.
No spaces between letters.





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All photos on this site are Copyright 2010-2014.  Copying or distribution for any purpose is prohibited without express written permission
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