Holiday Gift Guide 2016 – Part 1: Starting With The Basics

Whether you are looking for a right gift for a photographer, tips for your wish list for others, or just need to get some year-end upgrades, I hope the next days of the latest edition of the Gift Guide have something for you.
Let’s get to it!

First of all: Straps!
Do you carry your cameras on your shoulder or perhaps with a wrist strap? Or if you are a little crazy like me, and use both?
Good news-BlackRapid has taken their now classic line of products and upgraded in so many ways, you’ll want to treat yourself to the new straps. For me, it’s the best strap out there, and saves my shoulders and back after a long day with 2 cameras rocking. Period. That’s what I look for in a strap.
Now, the basic system hasn’t changed in theory but got better : lighter, breathable, safer. Check out this review on the Hybrid for some more details. And if you don’t think you really need a new strap, update your current BlackRapid with quieter FastenR (rubber coated for quiet), Lockstars (additional lock on clasp), and a sweet tripod plate.
Honestly, before the new straps came out, I was looking at all of those upgrade accessories myself. I want all of my cameras to have the FastenR on at all times, to make it an easy hook up to cross chest straps.
I know, only recommending one brand for that.

Different on the hand, or wrist straps.
I have a preference for my camera to have a wrist strap, even when on a shoulder strap. And I’ve tried a ton of them.
Each one just has a different feel. You’ll need to pick based on preference in action.
So the strap I’m using on an Fuji X-T2 is the latest from Spider. img_0286-2


The Spiderlight for Mirrorless. $40, and available in a ton of colors.
Great form factor, comfortable, and stays where you want it. Have spent 5 solid days with it on the street and it rules!
Try the Spiderpro for the DSLRS. Around $65.

Then, BlackRapid has a cool wrist strap which is lightweight, and takes into consideration a long day of shootings and adds a wrist strap to the hand strap. Seems like a great preventer of wrist fatigue for your heavier cameras. Easy integration with the BR system. $40

Going small, a classy strap for the mirrorless crowd is the Lance strap. Solid build, O ring attachment, and will stay where you put it. Simple and elegant. About $24

Have a smaller need? For a right price, the Joby wrist strap is a great option. Mine lives on a Fuji x100T all the time. Only $12.

Going back to ways to carry your camera, Spider just launched a new product, that lets you get into their primary system, without getting all suited up.
The new SpiderLight Holster

Using your own belt, this locking holster, keeps your mirrorless at your side.
The idea of not having to use the full spider belt was the main appeal here. Not sure about hanging a DSLR with real glass on my belt as I think my pants could fall down! This unit, though, makes sense.

More gift guides coming up!

Tether Tools Case Relay – Location Time-Lapse Tool Made Right!

At every photo trade show, I search for innovation and design improvement from all the manufacturers. And of course that is their goal as well.
Sometimes it’s inches, sometimes revolutionary.

One of my favorite new products comes from the folks at Tether Tools®.
They see a photographers needs, and rush in to solve the problem. I first found them while hunting down a great table system for shooting while tethered. They got that game DOWN!

To backtrack for a second, other than drone videos, one of the revitalized imaging trends is time-lapse video.
I’ve been looking at a lot of different units that plug into the camera for constant shooting, or use the internal built-in software.

Here’s the problem. Once you’ve committed to making a time-lapse video, set the image, secure your tripod or mount, ensure that you have the right amount of room on your media, there is one more critical part.
Constant POWER!

Yep, I don’t care what camera you use, mirrorless or DSLR. the batts usually can’t last the entire duration of a dramatic time-lapse.
Enter the Tether Tools Case Relay.This is the smartest solution I’ve ever seen to a widespread problem.

This is a system that allows you to not only add plug-in power to your camera via an external battery, like the ones you use to charge your phone, it also has a battery in the unit itself.
Why does this matter?
Hot Swap.
Continue Reading »

Peak Design Sling Bag – Is This The Mirrorless Bag Of Your Dreams?

It’s like the Holy Grail: what is the perfect camera bag?
Don’t want to shock you, but there is no one bag that is best for all circumstances.
But you already know that. Look at all of your camera bags.I kinda feel it’ like shoes. The right bag for the right job.
Peak Design is a relatively new player in this space, and I have to say, they have come on strong.

As a city dweller, a great walk-around camera bag is key for the street.
Easy access to the gear, enough pockets for extras, and some extra space for what you may pick up while you’re out and about.
I had the pleasure recently of checking out a pre-production unit of the Peak Design Sling bag.
This bag exceeded expectations, on may levels.
Once i adjusted all of the straps to my personal preference, side slung with hands ready to grab the camera, I venture out with a set up of a Fuji X camera, a couple of lenses, plenty of camera batts (damn you, mirrorless batt suckers!) phone battery, cable, pack of gum, and a bag of almonds. yes, sustenance.
So first of all, we have the very cool dividers with the pop-out ledges for easy adjustment
Here is the zipped pocket with sewn in dividers, perfect for your spare batteries.

If you want to add a bit of weight or work power, add a tablet into the back located, padded thin pocket.
The entire design has structure, an it’s a low-key structure. Not too sticky-outy (tech term). Just right.
There is an outside strap so you can add it to your luggage or wheeled gear case’s handle.

Solid connections for the straps and secret pockets to slip the extra webbing from the strap.
As I said, this was pre-production unit and the final bag will have some wider webbing, I’m told.
Plus the top lid will be more finished, in regards to stitching.
Like other bag in the line this was very well-built. A far as the other new designs, I can’t comment.

I will tell you this: I was kinda sad that i had to send back this pre-production.
It fit the gear right, had access to the camera when I needed to get a shot off fast, there was room for accessories, solid construction.
What else do i wish for on this?
A side net bag to hold a water bottle. My fave bags all incorporate this, and I think they’d do well to add it on. maybe Sling 2.0.
If you are going to PhotoPlus Expo, check it out.
Or see your local brick and mortar store, and try one on for size.

Yes, it was on Kickstarter AND Indiegogo: looking for $500,000, funded for almost $7,000,000 on each.

Lexar HUB SSD – The Tower is Now Complete!

One of my workflow mainstays, is the Lexar HUB. You know, the Thunderbolt cabled, modular tower, that allows you to stack up to 4 varying media card modules (SDHC™/SDXC™ UHS I and UHS-II, CompactFlash® UDMA 7, XQD™ 2.0, CFast™ and CFast 2.0, and microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-I and UHS-II, plus a module for USB, so you can give a client a thumbdrive, fast. Or carry any module sans tower, to edit on the road, when you can’t spread out at all.
Whew! That about covers it, right?
Well, I just added a new module, that completes the system for me.

imageIt’s the portable SSD, which fits into one of the module docks.
Here is a shot of my working HUB, and the module is the one on the top:

I think it’s a great, simple, offload and storage system for the cards I’m reading. With USB 3.0, with 450MB/s transfer speed, and 245MB/s write speed, this
is plenty fast to also access my video clips for editing.

Seriously, with this added module, my HUB is complete, with one less plug-in connection.
To be sure, when I’m on the road, (2017 is gonna be busy) having a compact workflow gear line-up is critical for speed, packing, and extra sleep.
Yeah, I said it.
When I come back to hotel late, and can just pop my cards in the tower, ingest em’ concurrently to PhotoMechanic, and get to work, I get more sleep.Thunderbolt is also a big part of this set-up.
Now remember, I’m also backing everything up simultaneously to a portable RAID.
This let’s me keep my laptop HD for apps, and such, and not clog it up with content.
Available in 512GB for about $140. or 256GB for close to $90.

BlackRapid Update : Lighter, Stronger, Quieter

The new standard in camera straps is the BlackRapid line. I’m a convert for sure, and now depend on them.
The single, or double, are great tools, but my new favorite became the Yeti.
Basically 2 straps coming off of one harness. I just keep working toward getting lighter.
So when they announced that there were new items coming, I wondered what could it be?
Well, the answer is: lighter and more breathable.
Here are some side by side comparisons.
The entire new Breathe line incorporates a lot of the same improvements.

First of all, the new Yeti (now called Hybrid) is thinner, and the familiar orange “R” have been replaced by a white one.
The harness is not quite as wide, and has the same reliable clips. Yes, there is an additional underarm strap for stability, but I’v never used it.
The gripping surface on the underside, now runs along the entire length of the harness:

And here is a detail of the surface. More breathable, and better gripping.

Plus, the connectors have been improved. Larger, knurled, brass tightening columns. Thicker, top rotating bits, on the hasp. And slightly larger and sound dampened connectors.
That is a huge improvement. Not entirely brand new for them, but now included in the package. And the hasp locks to add security to your connection. Used to be an add on.

Of course, the real proof is in use.
After a long 7 hour day at Comic-Con New York I am very happy to report that my shoulders were in great shape, no sweat marks under the strap, and the same great design, made my shooting day an easier deal, even when winding my way through the crowd.
Here’s the way the rig was set up:
Nikon D810 with SB900 speedlight, and a RoundFlash modifier on one side, and a Fuji X-T2 on the other.
One was for set-up shots,
the other side was for more reportage.

For the event or wedding photographer, these are a must have. If you already have some of these, do you need to upgrade?
The strap don’t seem to wear out, but any added comfort is worth it for me. Honestly, before the new series came out, I purchased the new quieter connectors for my other BlackRapid.
Highly recommended, your back and shoulders with thank you.

By the way, on my back was the ThinkTank StreetWalker Hard Drive. Everything that was attached to the Yeti, plus a lot more, was comfortably situated on my back. Could I have gone for the ShapeShifter for a thinner profile, once unloaded and trapped on? Maybe. Although, I kinda liked being able to throw stuff in while walking around the convention floor, with ease.

The shot of me with the Hybrid was made using a Pulse Remote Control, to be reviewed shortly. very handy for this type of stuff.


Upcoming Events

Is there an event we should know about?
Let us know on twitter.

Current Exhibitions

  • Whitney Museum
  • APR 27, 2016–April 2, 2017
  • 99 Gansevoort Street
  • New York, NY 10014
  • Tel: 212.570.3600
  • Annenberg Space for Photography
  • APR 8, 2017 – AUG 13, 2017
  • 2000 Avenue of the Stars, #10
  • Century City, CA. 90067
  • Tel: 213.403.3000
  • Getty Center
  • Breaking News: Turning the Lens on Mass Media
  • December 20, 2016–April 30, 2017
  • 1200 Getty Center Drive
  • Los Angeles, CA. 90049
  • Tel: 310-440-7300
  • Museum of Modern Art
  • One and One Is Four: The Bauhaus Photocollages of Josef Albers
  • Through April 2, 2017
  • 11 West 53 Street
  • New York,NY 10001
  • Tel:212-708-9400
  • Yossi Milo Gallery
  • PIETER HUGO, 1994
  • JANUARY 26–MARCH 11, 2017
  • 245 Tenth Avenue
  • New York,NY 10001
  • Tel: 212-414-0370
  • Howard Greenberg Gallery
  • WeeGee
  • Feb 16th to April 1st, 2017
  • 41 East 57th Street, Suite 1406
  • New York,NY 10022
  • Tel: 212-334-0100
  • Peter Fetterman Gallery
  • STEPHEN WILKES Ellis Island: Ghosts of Freedom
  • March 4 – April 29, 2017
  • 2525 Michigan Avenue Gallery A1
  • Santa Monica, CA
  • 90404
  • Phone: 310.453.6463

Is there an exhibition we’re missing? Let us know on twitter.

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