Drone photography is an exploding market, and with good reason — an aerial perspective opens opportunities in nearly every field of photography. Despite the amazing potential of drone photography, though, it is surprisingly hard to find a kit that works well for high-quality stills. Drones built for larger mirrorless cameras or DSLRs are often unreasonably expensive and frustratingly large, forcing many photographers to compromise on image quality. With this problem in mind, 3D Robotics designed the X8+ drone, a customizable and affordable platform that is capable of carrying a large-sensor camera with ease.
For ages I’ve heeded the warnings from camera manufacturers that inserting non-OEM batteries into my camera could make the camera explode or at the very least give it a nasty case of shingles. But a year ago I purchased a Nikon D4s and wanted a spare EN-EL18 battery. The Nikon battery was 150 bucks – why I could get a fifth of 25-year old Glenfarclas for that much. I saw positive reviews of the Wasabi batteries and decided to try one of those at a third of the price of the OEM battery. It worked just fine so I got more batteries, both the Wasabi and the Watson brands, for my D4s and my D7000 and D810 bodies. I’ve been using the Wasabis for a year and the Watsons for 7 months. For the first few months, they worked so well I never give a second thought as to whether I’d grabbed the Nikon batteries or the third party batteries when I went out on a shoot.
Recently during the filming of a safety video project for a client I needed to capture some video footage looking straight down on a machine in operation. In order to film the required footage I used one of my existing tripods, which can be configured in a non-adjustable, lateral position. It occurred to me as I was fiddling around with this existing tripod that it would have been much easier to get the required video footage if I had a tripod with a range of lateral movement, rather than just one lateral position at 90-degrees. Since I’ve been pleased thus far with my other Oben tripod (CC-2491), I decided to give the Oben CC-2361L lateral tripod a try since it met my key shooting criteria for tripods.
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 not as bad as it sounds — other photographers were always fascinated by the design, and it was sturdier than you might expect. 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 one of the “best” tripod manufacturers. 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.