Vello LCD Screen Protector for Nikon D800 Review

The Vello Screen Protector for the Nikon D800, at $24.95, is an attractive alternative to the Nikon BM-12 protector, which sells for $16.95. At first glance, I wondered why a third party was offering a product that was priced higher than the Nikon equivalent. I soon realized why.

Vello D800 Box Front

1) Initial Impressions

I have used a number of Vello products over the years and found them to offer solid value for the money. The Vello Screen Protector package actually contained two screen protectors – one for the main LCD, and the other for the top Control Panel. Both are manufactured with multiple layered optical-quality glass – a noticeable difference from other options, including those from the OEMs, that provide plastic LCD protectors and nothing to guard the Control Panel display.

2) What’s In The Box?

2 black-rimmed LCD glass protectors and installation instructions.

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Think Tank Airport Accelerator Review

The Airport Accelerator Backpack is a high quality bag worthy of consideration by anyone that frequently carries a healthy amount of gear through airports and doesn’t wish to check their bag. This bag is also ideal for wedding, portrait, and landscape photographers who often find it impractical to use a roller-style bag on wooded or irregular terrain.

Airport Accelerator Backpack front view

1) Initial Thoughts

My first impression of the Airport Accelerator was similar to that I have of all Think Tank products – well-built and well-designed. This bag uses the same quality nylon materials, zippers, seams, buckles, compartments, padding, and cord as found in other Think Tank products. Think Tank is famous for their quality and the Airport Accelerator lives up to the company’s well-deserved reputation.

2) Dimensions

EXTERIOR:
14.0 x 20.5 x 9.0″ (35.6 x 52.1 x 22.9 cm)
INTERIOR MAIN COMPARTMENT:
13.0 x 18.8 x 6.8″ (33 x 47.8 x 17.3 cm)
Laptop compartment: 11.8 x 17.3 x 1.4″ (30.0 x 43.9 x 3.6 cm)
WEIGHT:
4.1 – 5.5 lb (1.9-2.5 kg)

3) Size

This bag has plenty of room for just about all the gear you might want to take on any photography journey. It boasts the ability to accommodate a 600mm lens, and although I don’t have one, I have little doubt that it would fit comfortably in the Airport Accelerator. If you have read Nasim’s and Tom’s reviews of the Airport Security, and the Airport International, you will notice that these other bags are very similar to one another with respect to dimensions, and to the Airport Accelerator as well. Think Tank also makes another rolling bag named, the Airport Takeoff Rolling Camera Bag. What’s the main differences between these designated “Airport” bags? Wheels and a bit of size. The Airport Security, Airport International, and the Airport Takeoff Rolling Camera bags sport some spiffy wheels much like traditional carry-on luggage, whereas the Airport Accelerator is a backpack design.

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Think Tank Airport 4-Sight Review

This is a review of the Think Tank Airport 4-Sight rolling camera bag. My previous camera bag was the Think Tank StreetWalker HardDrive Backpack and I absolutely loved it. Think Tank has an almost legendary reputation among photographers, but the backpack was the only Think Tank product I had ever used. When it was time for a new bag, I had no doubt in my mind that it would be a Think Tank bag as well. The Airport 4-Sight just recently came out and caught my eye. It looked like it would be easy to travel with and hold all of my gear without being too cumbersome. Did it live up to my hopes and expectations? Read on to find out.

Think Tank Airport 4-Sight-1

1) Product Specifications

1.1) Features

Holds 2 Standard DSLRs, 3-5 Basic Zooms
Holds 2 Pro DSLR with Smaller Lenses
Holds a 300mm f/2.8 with Body Attached
Rolls on Four Wheels or Two on Carpeting
User Replaceable Handle / Wheels
Zippered Top Pocket for ID, Passport
Two Position Locking Handle
Three Carry Handles/Lockable YKK Zippers
Cable Management Organizer
Rain Cover

1.2) Dimensions

Exterior Dimensions 14.0 x 8.0 x 21.0″ (35.6 x 20.3 x 53.4)
Interior Dimensions 12.3 x 5.0-6.7 x 16.0″ (31.2 x 12.7-17.0 x 40.6)
Weight 8.9 lb (4.0 kg)

2) Overview

2.1) Initial Impressions

The first time I actually saw the bag, I was a little worried that I wouldn’t be able to fit all of the gear that I was used to carrying with me. I had my StreetWalker HardDrive backpack pretty well dialed in and had everything I’d need for a shoot with me all the time. Also, I was pretty used to the larger Think Tank Airport bags that a few of my studio mates use. Would this bag be big enough? Had I miscalculated?

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Think Tank Airport Security v2.0 Review

This is a quick review of the Think Tank Airport Security v2.0 rolling bag, one of the most popular and premium bags by Think Tank Photo. Targeted for busy photographers that have to travel on assignments with their gear, the Airport Security line is specifically designed to meet US domestic flight carry on size requirements. The bag also comes with TSA-approved combination locks and has an extra security cable to attach it to a fixed object. Best of all, it is a fairly large bag that can accommodate plenty of photo gear – whether you are storing a single DSLR with a 600mm lens or multiple DSLRs with smaller lenses. I have been personally using the bag to store my DSLRs, lenses and flash equipment and the bag has seen plenty of abuse this past summer during the wedding season.

Think Tank Airport Security

1) General Information and Dimensions

1.1) Features

  1. Meets USA domestic airlines’ carry-on size requirements
  2. TSA approved combination lock secures the main compartment
  3. Security lock and cable built in to the frame
  4. Security ID plate and unique serial number
  5. Holds pro-DSLR and super telephoto lenses up to 600mm
  6. Emergency shoulder straps for occasionally carrying the bag as a backpack
  7. Front stretch pocket holds an optional case for 15″ or 17″ laptops
  8. Optional low divider set allows for up to 17″ laptop to fit inside
  9. Clear Business card holder
  10. Seam-sealed rain cover included
  11. Looks like standard luggage rather than a photo bag

1.2) Dimensions

Internal Dimensions: 13” W x 21” H x 7–8” D (33 x 53.3 x 17.8–20.3 cm)
External Dimensions: 14” W x 22” H x 9” D (35.6 x 55.9 x 22.9 cm)
Weight: 12-14 lbs / 5.4-6.4 kg (weight depends on accessories used)

1.3) What’s in the Bag?

Here is a partially loaded Think Tank Airport Security v2.0 roller bag (click the image to enlarge):

In the bag close

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Oben CT-2320 Tripod Review

While tripods aren’t glamorous, are a hassle to carry and despite gains in vibration reduction/image stabilization, it is still almost essential to have one in every photographer’s tool bag. When looking to photograph landscapes or wildlife, many times the difference between a nice photo and a great photo can be whether a tripod was used or not. Long exposures and long lenses both benefit from camera stability. So if you haven’t got a tripod and you are looking to improve some of your photos I would suggest you consider adding one. A quick search for a tripod will reveal to you that there’s a wide range of styles and materials with equally wide ranging pricing. So if you are new to this and somewhat confused on what to buy, check out Nasim’s article, How to Choose and Buy a Tripod. With that said, here is a review of a good, affordable carbon fiber tripod and ball head, the Oben CT-2320 with BB-2 ball head kit which has been kindly provided by B&H Photo.

Oben CT-2320 3-Section Carbon Fiber Tripod-with BB2 Ball Head Kit

1) Product Specifications

1.1) CT-2320 Tripod:
Load Capacity: 26.4 lb (12Kg)
Maximum Height: 67.2” (170.1 cm)
Maximum Height w/o Column Extended: 57.7” (144.7 cm)
Minimum Height: 12.6” (30.4 cm)
Folded Length: 25.2” (63.5 cm)
Weight: 2.95 lb (1.330 kg)
Material: 6x carbon fiber
Head Attachment Fitting: ¼”–20 & 3/8”–16 (reversible screw)
Leg Stages/Sections: 2/3
Leg Lock Type: Twist lock
Independent Leg Spread: Yes
Spiked/Retractable Feet: Yes/Yes
Center Brace: No
Center Column Type: Rapid
Center Column Sections: 1
Bubble Level: Yes

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Think Tank Urban Disguise 60 v2.0 Review

I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical of what I would find during my review of the Think Tank Urban Disguise 60 v2.0 bag. For many years, the Tumi Alpha Large Expandable Organizer Laptop Brief has been “gold standard” of laptop bags for me and many other road warriors. And while not designed for photography, the Tumi bag nonetheless remains the benchmark for quality that I measure all types of luggage and bags against. It was inconceivable that I might find another bag that I thought matched or beat it.

“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.”

- William Foster

Think-Tank-Urban-Disguise-60-V2-Front_View

As I criss-crossed the globe and our country over the years, my original Tumi bag endured more abuse than I had a right to expect of it, often being filled to its limit and being jammed under countless airline seats. For some time, Tumi had free lifetime repairs on its bags. I made good use of the policy. At some point, Tumi ended its generous free lifetime repair policy (I suspect I might have had something to do with single-handedly dragging down Tumi’s profits and the resulting change in policy!), and I started to pay $50 or so per repair. As wear took its toll on my Tumi bag, I eventually had to consider the cost of cumulative bag repairs vs. buying a new bag.

Those of us who travel frequently get attached to our bags. They reliably and safely carry our precious belongings when we are far away from home. When my Tumi bag finally reached its end, I couldn’t dream of donating it or (gulp!) tossing it into the trash. No, the Tumi deserved nothing less than a Viking-style funeral! So one night, as I sipped a glass of wine, my Tumi bag literally went up in a blaze of glory in my fireplace (don’t call the environmentalists!). I drank a toast to it’s many years of dedicated service and recalled the interesting adventures we shared. I slept well that night knowing that the Boatman collected the coins I had placed in the Tumi, and had safely transported it across the River Styx.

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Hitech Neutral Density Master Kit Review

This is a review of the Hitech Neutral Density Master Kit, which contains a number of filters that I use with the Hitech Filter Holder for landscape photography. Since I personally prefer soft edge graduated neutral density filters over hard edge (doing mountain photography with hard edge can be problematic), I decided to go with the Soft Edge ND Kit instead of the Hard Edge ND Kit Density Kit. The nice thing about this particular master kit, is that it contains two sets of filters – one standard set of square ND filters (1, 2 and 3 stop) for slowing down the shutter speed when photographing moving water, waterfalls, etc., and one set of soft-edge GND filters (1, 2 and 3 stop) for those tricky high-contrast scenes during sunrise, sunset, etc. If you do not understand what any of this means, I highly recommend to read my article on Lens Filters, which explains all this in detail.

Hitech 150mm Neutral Density Master Kit

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Hitech 100mm Modular Filter Holder Review

It is no secret that many landscape photographers, including myself, heavily rely on filters for field work. As I pointed out in my Landscape Photography Guide and Lens Filters Explained article, filters can be very helpful for, among other things, capturing more dynamic range in difficult lighting conditions, decreasing reflections and haze, enhancing colors and slowing down the shutter speed. I have been using a number of different filters and filter systems ever since I started photographing landscapes (more filter holder system reviews coming up soon), so when I found out that Hitech came out with a new filter system this year, I decided to give it a try.

Hitech 100mm Modular Filter Holder

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Oben CTM-2500 Carbon Fiber Monopod Review

For low light shooting or when using a large lens, a tripod is generally your best bet but wildlife and sports photographers often will opt for a monopod when a tripod is not convenient or when they need a break from hefting a heavy rig. In this review, we will take a look at the Oben CTM-2500, a 5-section lightweight carbon fiber monopod as well as a tilt head, the Oben VH-R2. Both items have been kindly provided by B&H.

1) Product Specifications:

Monopod:
Maximum Length 65” (165.1cm)
Closed Length 17.3” (43.9cm)
Load Capacity 26 lb (11.8 kg)
Material 6x Carbon Fiber
Leg Sections 5
Leg Lock type Twist lock
Male Thread Size ¼”-20 and 3/8” -18
Weight 1.05 lb (470 g)
Head:
Head Type: Tilt (180 degrees)
Load Capacity 11 lb (5kg)
Quick Release Type Yes, RP-20 QR plate (included)
Male Thread Size 1//4” or 3/8” (with included bushing)
Height 2.6” (67mm)
Weight 10.2 oz (290 g)

2) Handling

2.1) Monopod

The first thing that you notice about this monopod, is its size, at barely over 17 inches in length (collapsed) and one pound in weight, it is small and light. It will easily fit in luggage, a backpack or even on a belt with the included belt clip. Despite being lightweight, it will support a professional body and lens up to 26 lbs. when attached directly to the monopod. However, if the VR-H2 head is used, the weight limit drops to 11 lbs.

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Hitech Pro Stop 10 ND Filter Review

This is a quick review of the Hitech Pro Stop 10 ND Filter, designed to dramatically decrease the amount of light that enters a camera lens. Why and when would one need such a filter? With less light passing through the lens and reaching the film or digital sensor, slower shutter speeds/longer exposures have to be used, which ultimately blur any kind of motion. This neutral density filter is specifically designed for landscape photography: for photographing waterfalls, flowing rivers, moving clouds and other type of motion.

Hitech Prostop 10 Case

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