Nikon Adds A New Entry Level DSLR With Kit Lenses You Actually Want

When someone is starting out on photography, it is wise for the camera manufacturer to give them all of the tools to succeed, and enjoy the ride.
Yes, it’s addictive, so the first experience should be very pleasurable.
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The new Nikon D3400 boasts an ISO range topping out at 25,600, over 24MP sensor, and a solid 5FPS burst mode, these are all things that help the new DSLR shooter get the shot they were hoping would be ton better than their phones.
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These Are A Few of My Favorite Things : Bits and Bobs

There are certain pieces of gear that have become a standards for shooting, and sometimes, these are pieces of kit that I never thought would work.
Like BlackRapid straps.

When these first came out, it seemed like a plethora of new camera straps were hitting the market. Lots of companies figured that they had the best product. On the hip, cross shoulder, attached to a backpack, attached to the front of you, etc..
We all use camera straps, and so all companies hit a sweet spot for a better mousetrap. Or strap.
Needing some shoulder relief, especially when carrying 2 cameras, loaded and ready to go, made me open to a change.
The first time I saw the Black Rapid strap, I couldn’t imagine slinging my camera to the side and possibly behind me. The concept of hanging $10k worth of gear off of my behind, didn’t make sense.

After one full day on a trade show floor, I understood. The distribution of weight made my shoulder happy, and accessibility of the camera to get a shot, and drop it to the side, was freeing.

So much so, that I now use the double BlackRapid, and the design is fantastic. Between the back strap, front strap and sling design on both sides, it’s now a permanent part of the kit. Highly recommend!

Next is the Manfrotto 143N Magic Arm.

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A good shooting kit has a range of grippage, so you can put what you want, where you want.
This arm is usually on my tripod, coupled with a Super Clamp, and many times has a Fotodiox Flap Jack LED light on it. Or I can have a tablet at just the right height, and angle, by using a Tether Tools connector pack (connector, and Wallee iPad case)
The locking mechanism uses a lever, and once you open it, it becomes like a floppy marionette puppet. Direct the arm anywhere, lockup the lever, and that pup is not going anywhere!
And when back in the office, the arm is usually on my desk (two tier deal) with the iPad holder.

The LensPen;
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Yep, I keep a microfiber cloth around always, but this product has found its way into each gear bag, One end has a classic camel hair brush, and the other has a special tip to give your lens a deeper clean, usually getting off any light debris.

Gorillapod is a go-to, always in the bag, product.
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for stability, wrap around a railing, etc., it packs just right. I will also use it with this next item…..

Everyone is talking about VR, right? And it is often confused with 360º video. Whatever the case, a camera that has found a home in my bag is the Ricoh Theta S. Check out a sample below

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Post from RICOH THETA. #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

(you can stop the motion by just tapping in the image, plus move in or out.)

Small, lightweight, and it creates its own wi-fi network to transfer images to your phone, and their website, for postings. And you can control it from the app as well.
Stills seem to be better than video, but it will shoot both.
One of the premium uses for this, is to scout, and line-up shots for your larger, more complex, 360º VR rigs, without the time-consuming post processing. It will stream live, although at this point you need to be connected to a laptop.

These are just a few of the things, that honestly, I didn’t always consider, but now always have on hand.

You’re Gonna Need Em’ : Best BlueTooth Earbuds ?

Here’s the deal: the next version of the iPhone is rumored to have no headphone jack.
That’s right, your favorite headphones will either need an adaptor for the lighting jack, or perhaps share a dual jack so you can also charge the phone.
Lot’s of added goods for your listening pleasure.
OR…. you get wireless, and go to a set of BlueTooth headphones and actually clean up the wires extensions on your device.
I went on a hunt and it kinda came down to a few choices, with one a clear winner.
The criteria were first of all, sound quality, then fit, a close second. Rounding out the top 3 was battery life.
No, I am not going to the gym with these, although I probably should, so a short term battery was a no go.
Flying cross country, you want to know that your earbuds can handle the whole flight, plus the wait time before and after.
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Epic2, by JLab has an industry leading 12 HOURS of battery life!
And for listening pleasure? The sound was clear, had depth, separation, and relatively flat (a good thing) so you get the music as it was intended. Add your bass or treble as you like to season the sound on your device.

The mic for the phone was clear, without distortion, and no too “crispy”, as my cohort opined.

The fit, with its customizable, over ear wire system, felt secure and very comfortable. It comes with a great zip-up case with a plethora of earbud sizes and covers, so you can make sure you have the best fit. And it does make a difference how your music is heard so make sure you use the best, snug fit.

Charging port is where it should be, at the controls.

There is something comforting when you press the connect button, it’s confirmed and it lets you know how much power you have. Percentage would be better, but I’ll take full, medium, or low.
Every night i plug all of my devices in to charge, and honestly, have no worries, when I’ve forgotten to plug in the earbuds.
I did say 12hrs of battery life, right?

One thing to note is that there latency, as with all BlueTooth devices. What that means is that your conversation voices have a slight delay. Just an issue with BT. And if you are shooting video with your phone, or another camera, something to consider
New version of BlueTooth coming, but maybe not for another year to a year and a half.

One other note is that I did try some other BT earbuds. Plantronics, for example has a great earbud ear connector, and comes with a pouch that also is a battery so you can charge the earbuds, or another device in a pinch. My issue with that is when I’m on a 6hr flight, fully charged I’m only getting 4.5 hours, 10hrs with a recharge. Really don’t want to stop the music.
Sure, when you watch an airplane movie, you will need a plug in headset. Nothing is perfect.
Yet.

So:
JLab:Epic2
•Great sound
•over ear wire hook
•Clean Mic
Bluetooth 4.0
•12 Hours of battery life!!!!
$100.

What’s not to like? Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

I just wish I had a black pair instead of the blue. C’mon, I’m in NY!

Final note: At this point, no bluetooth earbud phone mics sound as good as direct connection, either with a plug-in or right to the phone.
Just the way it is. If someone has a better solution, please contact me.

Olloclip : Packs Small, Plays Big

Why do I always have a set of Olloclip lenses and accessories in my bag?
They are small, lightweight, smart designs, and have multiple purposes.
The glass is sweet, especially the 4-1 which slips easily onto an iPhone.
Macro is having a huge comeback and iPhone extreme close-up photos are now billboards,and you can get on it easily with the Ollolip macro lens.
Sure, the glass is great, but what else?
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The came out with Studio accessories, based on a phone case that has a channel design allowing you add attachments to grip, mount, and smoothly make your iPhone the camera people seem to love. There 2 cold shoes for a light or mic, tripod mounts, grips, and a stand.

I keep the case on all the time, as it’s just good protection, and there is one bit I also always have on: the Vertical Tripod accessory.
It’s a 1/4-20 standard tripod thread, and couple with the ever-present gorillapod in my bag, a great way to get the steady shot. Or wrap around a railing for a time-lapse. Or slow-mo. Anyway, you get the idea.

Now one thing I have found is that the nub of a tripod socket, is a great way to easily lift the phone pout of my back pocket!
have a look:
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By hooking your index finger around the nub, and using your thumb to lever it up, the phone comes out easily, and less chance of slipping.
Small but I always use it as my phone is usually in a back pocket.

Another cool new deal they have is this tiny phone holder.
It folds up to nothing, as you can see:
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and then you place your phone into the notches, and you’ll be snapchatting, telling Instagram Stories ,or Skyping anywhere, hands free.

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One last item I’ll point out is the polarizer. Fitting easily over one of the lenses, this has been life saver in outdoor situations and when photographing reflective surfaces, like glass in a gallery. But you know what you need a polarizer for, so i won’t bore you, but that have a cool one for your phone.You can see it on and off above. There is a rubber gasket that keeps it snugly in place, so it’s easy to take on and off, but stay when you want it to.

These folks are constantly looking for ways to improve the iPhoneography experience.
Yes, there are a few great options out there.

This one is the best for me as it allows your to take all of the gear off the phone.
a note: No one knows when the new phones come out, and that is the downside of all of these systems: The changes of the size of the phones change the accessories.
So every 2 years we grin and bear it, and buy again.

The main point here is all of these Olloclip phone accessories are so small, that adding them to my day bag is no big deal.
And it’s all very well made.

Messenger Bag Roundup : Which Bag Came Up On Top?

bag7-2After going through the 4 messenger bags, in the real world, and for a more extended time that just a load-in and see what happens, there is a lesson learned. One we all know:
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