Maybe The Best Photojournalist Traveling Bag!

I’m definitely a problem v. solution person. Need starts the search for the right gear solution.
And like many of us (all of us?) have a plethora of camera bags. the most fickle of gear options.
So, when my well planned flight from an event, went awry and I couldn’t put my ThinkTank Airport International in the overhead, and had to give it to the Flight Attendants who assured me that the bag would be in the hold and awaiting me at the gate. It wasn’t, then did, but that is another story.
Point being that the experience made me change things up. I needed a hard case, just in case I have to check my camera bag.
First solution was a Pelican 1510, with Trek Pak dividers, and then a ThinkTank backpack in my luggage, empty, then transfer once I got to a hotel/location. A bit funky, but it worked.
After 4 travelling shoots, I am ready to share this perfect solution from SKB.
They combined a great hard case, with a ThinkTank backpack, designed to fit perfectly inside the case!
Now, this is what it looks like:

I have packed it with a few different configurations-A mirrorless system with 2 bodies, and a plethora of lenses,& another with a mirrorless camera and a 4K video camera, broadcast handheld mic, lav, mic, etc. (this photo is just a sample image from SKB. Mine is all covered in stickers from events and cities)

It all depends on what the event will be.
An extra added beauty to this rig, is that there is enough space around the bag to add my many, many, many, lithium batteries. Seems we should be carrying them in the cabin now, and not checked. Thanks, exploding hoverboards and Samsung phones! I do keep them in mesh Muji bags so they are not flopping around. these have 2 compartments so I put used, and fresh batts in appropriate sides.

Plus, I always put a few TSA approved locks in that space, in case I do have to check the bag
The SKB outer case has a red button for raising and lowering the external handle, and is nicely places on one side of the top of the handle. This way you won’t accidentally lower it as you are rolling in with your hand in the middle of the grip.

The combination of a hard, waterproof case, with a ThinkTank quality backpack, has been a perfect combo.
Yes, the size is the same as a Pelican 1510, so you know what will fit.
Diving into the backpack a bit, you have a the adjustable dividers, and zippered see though compartments on the lid.

You can add a laptop or table to the outside, and the compartments for cards, easy to reach cables, pens, etc, are right where you need them.
One things.
There is a side pocket that I add a Gitzo traveler tripod into, secured by ThinkTank straps from some other bags. The tripod does get packed into my luggage. I could put a monopod with a ball head into the case, but I packed that into luggage as well.

What’s the downside? The only design flaw I saw was a zipper on the bag that had a tendency to catch on the weather resistance zipper cover. They are looking into that.

So. will it work with DSLR rigs? Of course it will! 2 bodies, the holy trinity of lenses (15-25, 24-70, 70-200 all f/2.8) tighter and heavier.

Cost is about $290 .Definite recco for purchase!
Yes, I have added another bag with some extra gear onto the handle. Full transparency, I brought my Nikon DSLR and lenses in addition to the mirrorless rig, to SXSW, in the additional bag. Yep, was still not sure the mirrorless could handle the speed of shooting live music.

OK, here is what mine actually looks like, with the 4K Canon video cam, and Fuji X-T2 in there:

Nikon Gets Ready to Intro New D7500 DSLR : Legacy Tech, Lighter Weight


You’ve been looking for that upgrade from the phone, and not sure if mirrorless is the way you want to go?
Nikon is bringing out a new DX format DSLR this summer, that could make your wallet smile.
With an incredible range of ISO 100 up to 1.64 million (yep, that’s right), your low light concerns may go away. Now with any camera using that high of a range, the files get a bit “grainy”, shall we say.
The bigger news for me is the eliminated low pass filter, so you’ll now get better clarity, and sharpness. It seems to be the trend as companies are realizing that the possibility of moire happening on your photos, is way less of a worry, then better looking files. Good call/
And for the families looking to capture the families extracurricular activities, sports, fast-moving kid, you can shoot a burst of 8 frames a sec, with a 50 RAW shot buffer.
Spray and pray with confidence on this affordable unit.
Articulated LCD, touchscreen controls, and lighter weight than the D500 (16% lighter), and all of the legacy tech that was developed and perfected with the D5 and D500, this is one for serious consideration.


Oh yes, the 4K UHD can be saved UNCOMPRESSED via HDMI to an outboard hard drive.
But all of that is probably not for the enthusiast, unless you are full on conversant in video. You can just save videos to the media card!
With stabilization, zebra focusing help, and the ability to save files as MOV or MP4, you just saved the need for a separate video camera on vacation!

A bit more than entry level, but with all the bells an whistles you would ask for, at a great price and Nikon build quality, could be the enthusiasts go-to. You;’ll have to wait till the summer to see it in your hands, though. A little pre-news.

And now, the official word: Continue Reading »

Real World Review – Tether Tools Case Relay – Long Term UNINTERRUPTED Power!

What photo problems makes you dive down the rabbit hole of possible solutions?
How many times have you late night googled a range of terms to find the right answer to a specific problem?
Too many times to count, for me.
One of the recent trips down the information highway was road mapped by a constant issue: Portable, uninterrupted power.
You know that you have many, many batteries for each of your devices: cameras, speedlights, smartphones, tablets, etc.
And all of the chargers needed to keep them topped off. A basket full, right? Ok, we all need a lot of power.
Specifically, I was on the hunt for a system that allowed me to do an overnight time-lapse. The trick was having enough power to keep the camera on during the process!
Without interruption.
Sure, you can switch out batteries, but you’ll have a glitch in your sequence.
After a ton of research, I found the most cost-effective, and portable solution:

The Case Relay System from Tether Tools.

It’s a simple concept-a dummy battery inserted into your camera, leading to a unit that, not only prevents any electrical overcharge but also has a battery enclosed, and a connector to another higher capacity battery.
Even if you need to change the large battery, the internal battery keeps the shooting going as you change batts.
This is especially critical in video productions.

They make battery adaptors for most of the cameras out there. Personally, I use Nikon, Fuji, Sony (for Atomos+ Fotodiox FlapJack light), Canon video, and BlackMagic Pocket Cinema adaptors. I’ll tell ya, these cameras can all use a bigger battery. More so on the mirrorless and video cameras.

Not just for continuous on time lapse either. If you are running a photo booth, or covering a loooooong event, you need this system.
And a new item recently released, allows you to access a D-Tap battery, giving you double USB, outlet. No, it’s not USB 3.0, but you’re just looking for the power.

At a price of $100 for the main set-up, and a range of prices for the coupler (dummy batts) is from $30-$40.
You may want to either get into their velcro strapping system, or work out something on your own to hold the whole set-up while in use.

This system has become a permanent addition to my imaging tool kit, I have all of the adaptors for the cameras, and use a solid phone charger to power them.

This simple concept makes it a great product. Coupled with solid design, tech, and sweet price point.
It always comes down to problem/solution.

Continuing their goal of improving the tethered experience, they just came out with Case Air, which is the first camera controller to truly rival CamRanger. Plus smaller and cheaper.

Wireless tethering made easier.

I first became aware of TetherTools while searching for a proper table to add to a support for tethering my camera to laptop (another late night google hunt). They have the best solutions I’ve seen, plus the right add-ons to make the system complete.
Obviously, they are speaking with photographers and know the needs of the community.
Ye, I’m a fan. And great customer service as well.

Good people, making solid products.

Real World Review – Why I Depend on Lexar

It’s something that you don’t want to think about: Media Cards.
Pop it into your camera, and shoot.
Because I don’t want to think about it, I have chosen one brand to use, and stick with it. Lexar
Yes, you can scan over Ebay and Amazon, and find all kinds of brands that may be cheaper, but this is about your images. What better insurance than to rely on a dependable product?
OK, why Lexar?
A few reasons:
they make the top pro speed cards, which is essential when you need to shoot a burst, and your camera can handle a good size buffer. Like sports, or music. If your card is too slow, you’ll be waiting for the images to write to that card, and you’ll miss that shot.
Trust me, I’ve done that. Honestly, sometimes using older cards and just slide one in, and pay the price. The pulsing light on the back of the camera, telling you the files are writing to the card, is the WORST!
So I always upgrade to the fastest speed, when I can.
They support you with every card, and include a code for media card recovery software. I’ve only used it once, but that’s enough.
Most importantly, memory and memory management is their business. Period. That means they depend on their products as much as you do.

Here is the super fast SD card, with 300MB/s, and it even comes with it’s own speedy reader, if you are not on the Thunderbolt HUB. See below.

And if you shoot video, especially 4K, if you don’t have speed, you have nothing.

I recently moved to a new video camera after 5 years, the Canon XC-15. This thing is so blazing at 4K, it has heat dissipation vents, and records at 305MPS @ 4K! And you do need the new CFast cards to take advantage of that 4K. Lexar has you covered.

Yep, from CF, to SD, to Micro SD, to XQD (let’s see what happens there) to CFast. With speeds allowing you to capture RAW, ProRes, and 4K video. You get read transfer speed up to 540 MB/s and write transfer speed of up to 445 MB/s, speeding up your post production workflow.
And here is a shot of the new rig:


I go from using the audio add-on module, to walking the trade show floor with this Rode. That is a Fotodiox ring light I use, which has a dimmer, battery operated, and saves me using a cold shoe on top of the camera.

And getting to workflow: I’m a massive fan of the Lexar HUB system. The modular set-up has allowed me to grow with my gear, and speed up the post production process. When I first got into the system, it was mainly CF cards. Then SD’s came in heavy, and I picked up more modules, depending on the system I was shooting. Of course, the micro SD GoPro needs, brought another module in.
And now CFast.
Here is my luxurious desk at my hotel in LAs Vegas at CES in Jan..

The beauty of this system is that it has a Thunderbolt flow-through, and on the road, this little tower lets me download up to 4 cards concurrently. Remember, not consecutively, concurrently! Big time savings. And when I add the SSD module, I get 512 GB of storage. I leave my RAID at home, and just save on that drive, and 1 external HD. Paranoid? Maybe, but don’t want to lose anything. Cheap insurance.

I will reveal something about me here, that does color some of my choices: I produce commercials for a living, and the cameras we use range from RED to Arri Alexa. Now all I’ll be doing on those sets, imaging wise, is some behind the scenes materials. The heavy lifting camera crew uses the full tilt packages. And Lexar CFast cards are what they use in Arri. When I have a million dollar commercial I’m producing, and the camera dept. is using a certain brand, I feel good And it’s confirmation for my choices as well.

There you have it: Lexar fast media cards, and the Lexar HUB make my life simpler.

Let’s be honest, there are some other players out there.
I just know that Lexar is always high quality products, that I can depend on. One less choice I have to make everyday.
Kinda like wearing pretty much the same things everyday (yes, I have multiples of the same thing, not wearing one set all the time. that would be gross).
It just works.

Real World Review : All About Remote Control

There are so many way to control how you press the shutter on your camera, I had to do a deep dive into the world, and try to make some sense of it all.
3 of the units reviewed here: CamRanger, Case Air, and Pulse. The 4th, Manfrotto Digital Director, is way bigger and shown later in the post. (quarter there for size ref)

Like most gear reviewed here, the mission to find the best in a category comes from a need.
Problem > solution type of situation.
Now, you may wonder, “what the heck do i need to add anything else to the camera?” My self timer works just fine, thank you very much.
I wanted to take a shot of me holding a product, and didn’t want to self timer it. I’m an adult and no need to run back and forth to the camera.
I was brought up with a shutter release cable, and now can do all I need, and more, via devices and apps.
There are other things you may want to do that can be sooo much better controlled remotely.
Continue Reading »