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.
I was a bit disappointed by the Photo Plus Expo this year in New York, because unlike last year, I did not find a lot of innovative products to be excited about. It seemed like the exhibit floor was full of the same things we had previously seen, except this year the organizers did not allow any Chinese companies on the floor (most likely because some of them were selling the exact same products as the bigger companies at a much lower price last year). However, there were a few things that I found that got me very excited and one of them was the Lume Cube. After seeing the product, Roman and I actually went back to see it again next day to find out more about it and to snap some pictures for our readers. So what is Lume Cube and why do I think it is an innovative product? Let’s take a closer look.
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.
When I first received the box with my Feisol Tournament Tripod and CB-50D head, it was unbelievably light. I almost wondered if they forgot something in the shipment. When I opened the box I found a very nice looking carbon fiber tripod and ballhead, but how would this super light combo perform in the field? In this review, I will be going over my personal experience with the Feisol system and compare it to my Manfrotto setup that I have been using for several years.
What to do when you are out in the field with amazing scenery to shoot, a handful of exhausted camera batteries, and no electric outlets in sight? Self-disembowlment comes to mind, but wait, there are better options. I was recently on an 18-day Grand Canyon rafting trip and faced with the above dilemma. One option I utilized was a small waterproof solar charging system from Voltaic. The unit I tested was a beta version as far as the waterproof housing went, but other than the housing, it used the components of Voltaic’s 17 Watt Solar Charger Kit ($265 MSRP).
Like most photographers I have a few different gear bags and none of them seems to be the perfect solution to meet all of my needs. I further compound this problem by buying more gear, then kicking myself in the butt when my storage and transport issues get even more complicated.
Many people who own Nikon 1 camera gear have an interest in close up photography. Unfortunately at the time of writing of this article there was no 1 Nikon macro lens available. Photographers can use their DX or FX Nikkor macro lenses on their Nikon 1 bodies by using an FT-1 adapter. I’ve done this in the past with my Nikkor 105mm Micro f/2.8 and found that the resulting set-up felt unbalanced as the lens dwarfed my V2 body. The autofocus on my macro lens tended to hunt quite a bit when used with the FT-1 I for close up work. As a result I typically used it on a tripod and manually focused the lens.
When it comes to ultra wide-angle lenses, the Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G is an outstanding choice, thanks to its top notch corner to corner sharpness, amazing colors and superb performance throughout the focal range. The lens has become a legend, outperforming most ultra wide-angle primes on the market in terms of resolution. As I have revealed in my in-depth Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G review, even Canon shooters have been using this lens with adapters since it is so good (and I have seen Sony A7/A7R users with this lens as well). The only downfall of the 14-24mm is its lack of a lens filter, which makes it impossible to use regular circular polarizers and filter holders. Thanks to the popularity of the lens, a number of manufacturers developed larger filter holder systems that allow mounting both polarizing and rectangular filters (such as neutral density and graduated neutral density filters). One such manufacturer is FotodioX, which developed the most popular filter system for the lens, the WonderPana FreeArc, which I am reviewing here. Although the review sample I received is for the Nikon 14-24mm lens, the FotodioX WonderPana is in fact available for a number of lenses from different manufacturers. For example, those that shoot with the Canon 14mm f/2.8L II lens can also use the same system using slightly different adapters.
The battery grip has to be the most overpriced accessory in photography. Think about it – it’s a plastic/composite case filled with batteries and a few switches – that’s it. How come a Nikon MB-D12 costs $399 and the batteries aren’t even included? The Nikon D3300 body costs a bit more and it comes with a battery (and a 24mp sensor + EXPEED 4 processor, etc. etc). Heck, for 50 bucks you can buy a similarly-sized plastic case filled with batteries and switches that has 16 programmable modes, multiple movable parts and will do a heck of a job massaging your back when you are in pain, post-processing those wedding photos from the couple that will probably get divorced before you are done. So why use a battery grip?