Holiday Gift Guide Part 3 – The Other Items

Sure, you may have hit some sales, and had the basics, well now we bring you some things that have been tried and tested for your gifting pleasure.
Apple AirPods

First thing I said when i saw these was that I didn’t even own them, and I’ve already lost them!
OK, So I bought them, and they are outstanding! There are other options, but the Apple elegance of the buds and the charging case is phenomenal.
With 5 hours of life, plus the case holds another 24 hours and they recharge fast in :15 min.
Also, the phone capability is so good, all of the folks I chat to while walking down a NY street, are amazed at the quality.
And depending on your photo group affiliation, you can get a discount at Apple. Stay away from the knock-offs. Cheaper, and there is a reason for that.

If you want the extra security for the case, these silicon rubber cases do a great job. By Catalyst, they hug the case, and the top rolls down to get you access . Add a carabiner, and you are hooked and good to go. $25

Who doesn’t love AND need a great media card case?

The Think Tank Pixel Pocket Rocket is the winning hand and affordable as a stocking stuffer. I’m now replacing all of my CF card cases with the SD ones. Holds 9 SD cards, and about $17.00

Need to do a quick shot of a product, or sell your old gear on EBAY?
Foldio has a fold up solution, with strips of LEDS, additional light panels and an available spinning turntable for the little bit of motion to really sell the item. $70

You must have a monopod somewhere in your arsenal, and this Sirui Monopod has the right size for compactness, and sturdy feel for stability. I paid about $100.

For video, check out the range of Manfrotto monopods. The fluid mini tripod legs on one with a good head will make your run and gun vids a pleasure, especially in those tight spaces. This one is my first choice About $235., and well worth it.

Sure, you know the Black Rapid Straps, a new standard in the camera world.
Well, they came out with one of the most ingenious items this past fall. The Wander Bundle.

It’s a phone clip that integrates with your phone case, and comes with a wrist strap, a carabiner, or simply use as a little tongue to pull the phone from your bag, pants, or other pocket.
Love this thing! Only $16.00

And make sure you stock up on Tiles, the best tracking device out there. Go for the pro model.
I have one in each camera case, and with a newly extended range, and a louder ring, makes sure you know where your bags are.
And in reverse, you can locate your phone by pressing on the unit. It will make your phone start playing a tune so you can find it.
Yes, have used this feature more than twice.

It has been a spectacular year for cameras, and they deserve their own postings. Coming soon will be a review of the Nikon D850. The files are incredible, straight out of the camera, and now with a silent mode, one for the high consideration list.

If we don’t speak before, Merry Christmas, and thank you for all of your support for the past 12 years!

Holiday Gift Guide 2017: Part 2 – Camera Bags

Oh, sure, we all have them, and most of us have multiples. Do you need another? Probably.
So what was new this year?Plenty.
So here are some of the faves from Peak Design, ThinkTank, SKB, Tenba, and BlackRapid (check out BR special 20% discount code below!)

Peak Design has been coming on strong with 2 great walk-around bags
Everyday Sling 10L and now the Everyday Sling 5L, a smaller version, perfect for the DJI Mavic Pro and when you just want to carry a little less. Here’s the larger size-
And the smaller, with a look inside so you can see the great design elements.

Well designed, well made, with a solid shape, and unique features that make sense. They thought these out inch by inch. The origami dividers are an industry leading design, and give you great options to design the inside of your bag as you need.
Each interior pocket has a purpose, from putting batteries in color coded pockets when depleted, so you don’t put the spent battery back in the camera. Plus they have given you straps to carry your tripod. A travel one, anyway.
If you’ve made the move to mirrorless, these 2 bags should be on the consideration list. $150 and $100, respectively.

If you are a traveler, we suggest great options.
SKB partnered with one of our favorite bag makers, ThinkTank, and have come up with a hard case, with a custom fitted backpack camera bag.
Just in case you have to check your bag, god forbid, you have the protection. I do also keep 2 TSA locks in the bag, just in case. So roll onto the plane, get to your hotel, and pull the backpack and your mobile.
This is my go-to case when flying. check out our real world review

Then around town, ThinkTank has taken their perfect Backpack, and made it into a hybrid roller case.

If I’m shooting at an event in town, this is the one that is packed and ready. Also reviewed earlier this year

Just in, is this new deal from Tenba. I can’t believe how strong this is!
I clock in over 200lbs, and as you can see, this case is secure.
They say it’s good to 300LB, which a plane ride in the luggage hold can do.
Here’s an inside look at where it gets it’s strength:

So a roller bag, with adjustable dividers, super strong, yet not a hard case. If you are looking for more protection if you are just tossing your gear into vehicles, rest easy.
Have not flown with it yet but have no doubt this bag will yield to no punishment.

Have look at these new unique Black Rapid products:
First is a Tripod Jacket.
Had no idea I wanted this till I used it while shooting on my roof top, with a tripod. Not only did it hold all of goods, but also help weigh down the tripod for stability.

HOnestly, I did need the video to get me through the full installation.
but the have added in some small bags that you may find useful in conjunction with their system, and a new product covered in another post.
The Lens bags has been designed to hook onto your BlackRapid system and keep a lens (or whatever else you need at hand: flash, batts, media card wallets, phone, etc.) right at hand.

I have become a steady user of BlackRapids for all event shooting, and this bag addition is a great organizer tool, keeping your tools close at hand.
And now a holiday deal from Black Rapid DEC. 10 – 21 : SAVE 20% WITH CODE BR12CHRISTMAS WHEN ENTERED AT CHECKOUT

OK, more lists to come, and there are some sweet accessories that you can add to the stockings, or make one of the 8 nights of Hanukkah (sp?) goodness.

Black Rapid : Check Yourself, Before You Wreck Yourself

You can’t expect all of your gear to last forever.
You buy a new camera every few years, and I’ll bet you have more than 2 camera bags.

Can we talk about one bit of gear that gets used daily? It’s your camera strap.
It’s time to check it out, and make sure it’s up to snuff.

Let’s go back a step: My favorite camera straps are Black Rapid, and when I first saw them a few years ago, I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to sling my camera to the side or back.
Man, was I wrong. these straps have save my back, and in a long day on a shoot, like an event or music, these straps have been lifesavers.
Truly my go-to bit of gear. And I’ve tried a ton of em!
They’ve been around for more than a few years now, and continue to improve them.
One of the key contact points, the carabiner, has gone though some changes.

And now, a reality check:

A few friends, and noted photographers who have been heavy users from the start, have had some mishaps using the 1st gen straps.
If you call having your camera and lens fall to the ground from at least waist high, a mishap. An expensive fall.

Why did this happen? Heavy users, with first gen Black Rapid, have seen the metal knob that secures the carabiner to the strap get worn down.(see above on the left)
And when it gets worn down, the carabiner can slip out. And so can your camera.
They have made huge improvements on the new straps and you can see the stronger, more robust machining and design on the latest straps.
You can see the brass locking fitting, the quieter connector, and just a higher quality design.
Still feeling anxious?
You can add-on a Tether Kit and put your mind at ease. Connects your camera to the strap with an extra strap, in addition to the carabiner.

The point is, nothing lasts forever. Straps included.

The good folks at Black rapid have started a <a href=”” target=”_blank”>trade-in program, so you can get upgraded at a discount.

You don’t want to be the person who has a camera hit the sidewalk. Check you gear and then get a new strap.
My straps of choice is the Breathe. The double strap is great, and if I’m rolling with 2 DSLR’s , it’s the way to go. For my mirrorless work, the Breathe is the hit.

Stick with these folks, your back will thank you.

The New Nikon D850 – 45.7 MP of Goodness

Nikon, I just can’t quit you!
Don’t think I ever will.
This new, long awaited D850, coming in at an MSRP of about $3300, (wasn’t that what the D810 was?) clocks in with some amazing specs. OK, first some photos.

Continue Reading »

ThinkTank Photo : BackPack or Roller? YES!

When going to a local shoot, what do you feel is the best way to carry your gear?
For speed, a backpack usually is the ticket. When the shoot is done, and you’re packed and on the move, a roller would be sweet.
ThinkTank Photo has now upgraded my favorite StreetWalker BackPack, with wheels!

Here’s a situation: Went to cover one of my favorite events, Roller Derby, and with a full pack on my back, went into the same old entrance, mid block.
OK, now there was a special event also at the same venue, and I was told to go around the corner, and enter in the middle of that block. It’s summmer and didn’t want to show up all sweaty, and hustling with a heavy backpack. would make that a certainty.
Popped open the top, brought out the handle, and beetled around the corner.
Back still intact.
After a few hours of shooting slamming action, I was ready to pack away the 2 bodies, speedlights, batteries, and empty my pockets of extras, to get on the road.
Yes, the Black Rapid straps helped save the back, but the thought of strapping on a very full backpack, and walking the 12 blocks I needed to go, was not an appetizing thought. And I was in less of a hurry.(of course, still had a night of editing ahead!)

It was a pleasure to then be able to fold in the backpack straps, pop up the handle and get on my way. Even rolled my way into a local pizza place for a fast slice.
Point being, the walk home was an easier deal, thanks to some wheels.

When shooting local, the Street Walker has been my bag of choice: holds enough gear, and sits right on my back.
The addition of wheels, sent it over the top.

What’s in the bag? 2 bodies, 4 lenses, including a 50-140 2.8, 2 speedlights, battery pack for speedlights, cables, cam batteries, smartphone ext battery, etc.

So, what are the differences between the 2 versions? (other than wheels, and a handle? And money?)

Some minor bits. here you can see a height difference:

Top down, same good stuff: window for ID, great zippers ( you’ll know when you have bad ones) comfy handle, great construction.And of course a zippered compartment to hide away the handle. Good touch. Wider.

Great design on the backpack straps ability to fold away.
Different design in the inside of the top flap. Now there is a slot for a 15″ Laptop, so it’s contained internally.
Slightly diff strap layout for your tripod.
Added smartphone pocket in one of the side pockets
Larger side pockets for bigger water bottles, snacks, and stuff

allows for a larger laptop 17″, with a side zippered outside access, only.
It also has a velcro strap on the back to allow you to securely add a gear belt, and further customize your rig.
Slightly less room inside, yet lighter overall.

Specs for those that like em:


Internal Dimensions:
11.8” W x 19.7” H x 6.3–7.1” D (30 x 50 x 16–18 cm)
Exterior Dimensions:
12.6” W x 21.9” H x 9” D (32 x 55.5 x 22.9 cm)
Laptop Compartment:
9.8” W x 14.5” H x 0.9” D (25 x 36.8 x 2.3 cm)
Phone Pocket:
3.9” W x 7.5” H x 0.6” D (10 x 19 x 1.5 cm)
8.2 lbs. (3.7 kg)


Internal Dimensions:
11” W x 19” H x 6–7” D (28 x 48.3 x 15–18 cm)
Exterior Dimensions:
11.5” W x 19.8” H x 8.5” D (29 x 50.3 x 22 cm)

Laptop Compartment:
11.3″ W x 13.5″ H x 1.5″ D OR 15.3″ H when not using the bag with a gripped DSLR (28.6 W x 34.3 H / 38.72 H x 3.8 D cm)
3.8–4.6 lbs (1.7–2.1 kg)

Basically the same great bag, with the advantage of wheels. If you work trade shows, as I do, it’s perfect! backpack to get out fast, rolling to go booth to booth.
Another fine addition to the ThinkTank line. Designed by photographers, for photographers. Highly recommended!

Yes, I still use the SKB hard case, with the ThinkTank backpack, when I fly. Can’t wait for that new TSA deal to kick in. Still no word about lenses. Time to get pre-check, if you don’t already have it!