Every once in a while I like going back and taking a fresh look at the tools that I have been relying on for years. During my last trip to Death Valley and the California mountains, I met a few photographers who I spent some time with, talking about what photographers generally chat about – camera gear and our favorite photography spots. One photographer had a very similar setup as mine, using a Gitzo Systematic tripod and a Really Right Stuff BH-55 ballhead. His ballhead had a different quick release plate than mine, so we started chatting about the differences in the setup and what we both like and dislike about the BH-55. After this discussion, I realized that I have never written about the BH-55 at Photography Life, although I have continuously relied on it for years and take it with me everywhere I go. In a way, I have gotten emotionally attached to this remarkable ballhead and it has become an indispensable tool for my photography work.
I used to have a wooden tripod. It was kind of cool, actually – other photographers were always fascinated by its design, and it was pretty sturdy. Unfortunately, despite weighing 4.2 pounds, it had a maximum height of just three feet. Plus, it was bulky. I brought this tripod along on a hiking trip, thinking that these problems wouldn’t be too bad. I was wrong. It was too big to sit well on my backpack, and its weight started to bother me on long hikes. I researched my other options, and carbon fiber tripods began to come up in my searches. I wanted the best possible weight-to-stability ratio, so I knew that I needed to save some money.
Through the course of my research, the tripod brand Really Right Stuff (RRS) began to emerge as the universally-acclaimed “best” manufacturer. I already had the BH-40 ballhead, which I was quite happy with, so I began to save up. I ultimately ordered the Really Right Stuff TQC-14, a top-of-the line travel tripod.
The Impact Soft and Natural 4 Socket 3 Light Kit is a lightweight three-softbox continuous light source for studio shooting. MSRP is $604.90, but it seems to be perpetually discounted at B&H. As I write this it is priced at $348.95. The kit comes with stands, softboxes, heads and bulbs, everything you need to get started shooting portraits except the model and background (oh yeah, and camera and photographer, d’oh).
My experience with shoulder bags has not exactly been great up to this point. As much as I liked the idea of carrying equipment in a shoulder bag, that convenience of quick access, I’ve not found one that would serve the part flawlessly before. There was always something not quite right – it’s either too square or too wide, the strap – too narrow or likes to play heart-stopping jokes on you.
You probably saw the next bit coming. You may even think it to be a cliché of sorts. But, yes, I found the shoulder bag I was looking for. I absolutely adore the Seven. Whenever I use it, I am constantly fascinated by all the things it does just right. Almost as if people who actually do photography came up with the design! So I will go on and say the following: if you need a medium-sized shoulder bag for daily use, just go and buy this. Need a smaller one? Get the Retrospective 5. Need a larger one? Get the Ten or Twenty. It’s great, and I can’t see someone not liking it for all the things it does well.
Let’s be completely honest – other than style, leather half-cases for mirrorless cameras serve just about no purpose. It really is all about style – not protection, not ergonomic improvement, none of that. Any change in those areas is, more often than not, unintentional. A side effect. So, when talking about such an accessory, what matters most is design and quality of the product. One is only ever going to pay good money for an accessory that’s not actually that practical or sensible to own if it looks great and is made with utmost precision. Gariz, a small Korean camera accessory manufacturer few have even heard of, has its hands full, so to speak.
As the proud owner of a Lowepro Transit Backpack 350AW and a ThinkTank Retrospective 20 messenger bag, you may well be wondering why I felt the need to add yet another bag to the collection. Well, the only answer I have for you is that my relentless search for the mythical “perfect camera bag” continues.
Face it – tripods aren’t as sexy as lenses or camera bodies and shelling out a bunch of dough on a tripod just isn’t that satisfying. After selling my left kidney to pay for my Really Right Stuff tripod to support my super-telephoto wildlife lenses, I wasn’t real eager to cough up ~$900 to get a Gitzo Traveler for my landscape work. But I wanted a lightweight compact tripod I could take on hikes. A tripod that would fit inside my daypack, weighed under 4 pounds and had a working height that on level ground would let me (6’2”) work at eye level when I wanted. Enter the Oben CT-3481 4-section Carbon fiber Folding Tripod and BE-126T ball head. It’s a 3.9 pound, full-featured tripod that folds to 19 inches long and has a working height of 68 inches. As well, it has plenty of adjustments to allow you to work low to the ground or on uneven terrain.
This is a review of the Think Tank Airport Roller Derby rolling camera bag. When I first saw that Think Tank had released a new 4 wheel camera bag, I was immediately curious. I had been using the Airport 4-Sight since it first came out and was very happy with it, but had filled it with as much gear as could fit in it and simply needed more room. The Roller Derby is a larger bag that looks like it has a few improvements over the 4-Sight. Could it become my new camera bag?
We’re pleased to have one of Arizona’s top professional photographers, Dawn Kish, share her experience field testing two waterproof DSLR housings on a Grand Canyon raft adventure. Dawn is not only a regular shooter for magazines such as National Geographic Adventure and Arizona Highways, but a former river guide as well. For a quick one-minute video review of these two housings in action, scroll to the bottom of this post. For the more detailed analysis, read on.