Holiday Gift Guide Part 3: The Video Gear

Is your video game up to snuff?
Whether it’s 4K, or just HD, there are so many ways to go, and tools to use.
Here is a short list of some things that you may want to find under the tree.

If you are going the DSLR or Mirrorless route, I have one word for you: Atomos!
All of things you wish your camera had: larger screen, touch screen, scopes, Zebra focus, long record times, extended battery life, and more, are all available on the full range of Atomos products.
As you take the primary HDMI feed out of your cameras sensor, these monitor/recorders are a must have.
In a couple of sizes, and capabilities, you can add 4K recording to your camera with ease.
Starting with a Ninja Blade for about $500, you can go up to about $2000, for a 7″, 4K monitor recorder

These are units you may want to add to any camera you may have. I use em with a Nikon D810, Fuji X-T@, BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera, and will be adding to my camcorders, when needed.

Lets talk viewfinders. When you are not using a monitor, you really need to see the screen up close. Like any other video camera. Here are 2 great choices.
I think the main ones that may be on your shopping list are the Hoodman $200.
and the Zacuto Z-Finder Pro 3.0x $300.

Are you using the ultra compact, high quality, BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera? This rig from RedRock Micro,The RetroFlex, is the way to go.
A bit Retro in the design, but incredibly well built. The Viewfinder is magnetic and snaps beautifully into place on the solid cage.
Check into the full range of RedRock Micro products for all of your camera rigs.

On lighting you have a myriad of choices.
Litepanel is the standard. The costs have dropped in recent years, and these are a great choice.. Even if you just get a mini for an On-Board light, these are the lights you want. Stick with the pros and you’ll have good quality builds and color temps that will be consistent and make your post workflow easier.


Tired of building your rig whenever you get to a gig or, move around within a venue?
ThinkTank photo has a new line of video bags which allow you to keep your rig fully built, or primarily built, and safe in transport.
This one, Video Workhorse 21, is the right size for me, but measure out your gear for the right size and style for you.



For your audio monitoring, the best bet out there (other than your earbuds because they are in you pocket!) and surprisingly one of the most affordable, is the Sony MDRV6 Studio Monitor Headphones. Under $100, they are flat, and perfect fro monitoring your recordings. And by flat, it means they add no highs or lows to your monitoring sound, so you get a true sound.

Of course you all know that off-camera audio is the way to go.
I’d recco a shotgun and a lav mic, but it is a subjective call. I still use an older A-T shotgun, and a Tr-50 lav., plus a Sennheiser radio system for the wireless mic.
Your mileage may vary.

One item I think should be in every videographers toolkit is the Manfrotto MVM500A Fluid Aluminum Video Monopod with 500 Series Head. Seriously, it is a tool you will use more than you think. Documentary, street, nature, this monopod with a fluid head AND fluid support legs will smooth out your shots,and packs right. Only about $270

I will just say one thing about drones. A great hobby, but be judicious in the use of the footage in your videos. A right tool for a right job. On the new category of portables, DJI Mavic Pro just beat out the GoPro, and Go Pro is now stopping delivery to fix some issues.
Here is some hot of the presses video with the Mavic from Vince Laforet:

Be aware and do your research. We all have at least one GoPro in the kit, but they missed the mark on their first foray into drones.

I think this is just part one of the video gift guide, as we will be adding software and other workflow tools coming up.
and will share those shortly.

Holiday Gift Guide Part 2 : So Many Bags…

Camera bags are pretty personal, so you may want to pick one for a wish list.
However, here are some good choices to look at.

My top pick across the entire line is ThinkTankPhoto. Designed by working pros, this brand has everything you need, and built to last.
From the Airport International, to the Street Walker, City Walker, and the new line of video bags, any product you get here, will be top-notch and just work.
Airport International
I could stop, but I won’t.

There are some new contenders that are crushing it in certain areas.
The Peak Design Sling, is a perfect choice for a walk around street photographer, and the price is real right. Reviewed here.

Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 2.58.53 PM
Tenba makes a messenger bag, with a design that makes it a daily worker not only for cameras, but a full working bag your daily job use.

If a hard case is your need, because of checking bags, or needing a stool, there are some new options.
One, is the classic Pelican case is now available in a 40% lighter version, Pelican Air.Buy it with the TrekPak system. Don’t think you would be disappointed.

Put my hands on it, and it’s true. Hoisting it full of gear into an overhead will def cause less grunts from the weight.
What I’m most interested in seeing is a collaboration between SKB and ThinkTank Photo:

Combine a hard case, fitted with quality camera backpack, and you can fly with confidence, and when you get to your hotel, take out the backpack built out with your gear, and you’re ready to roll.

Like so much gear, you use the right bag for the right job. Any of the bags on this list will be a welcome addition to any photographers shooting life.

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.


Upcoming Events

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Current Exhibitions

  • Metropolitan Museum Of Art
  • Irving Penn: Centennial
  • APR 24, 2017–July 30th, 2017
  • 1000 Fifth Avenue
  • New York, NY 10028
  • Phone: 212-535-7710
  • 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
  • Now Then: Chris Killip and the Making of In Flagrante
  • May 23rd-Aug. 13th, 2017
  • 1200 Getty Center Drive
  • Los Angeles, CA. 90049
  • Tel: 310-440-7300
  • Museum of Modern Art
  • Louise Lawler: WHY PICTURES NOW
  • Through July 30th, 2017
  • 11 West 53 Street
  • New York,NY 10001
  • Tel:212-708-9400
  • Yossi Milo Gallery
  • Mark Ruwedel-HELL and HOME
  • May 4th-June 24th, 2017
  • 245 Tenth Avenue
  • New York,NY 10001
  • Tel: 212-414-0370
  • Howard Greenberg Gallery
  • MAY 25 – JULY 7, 2017
  • 41 East 57th Street, Suite 1406
  • New York,NY 10022
  • Tel: 212-334-0100
  • Peter Fetterman Gallery
  • SEBASTIÃO SALGADO A Life in Photography
  • June 3 – September 2, 2017
  • 2525 Michigan Avenue Gallery A1
  • Santa Monica, CA
  • 90404
  • Phone: 310.453.6463

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