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microGAFFER Tape for Photogs on the Go

microgaffer.jpg

Filed under "why didn't someone think of this before," the folks over at Visual Departures have created microGAFFER, gaffer tape in convenient 1" wide rolls that weigh just 2.2 ounces each. (Standard rolls of gaffer tape weigh over 2 pounds.) You can now have your infinitely handy, fix just about anything, tape in your pocket or camera bag when on location.

I like the convenient 4-roll pack that contains two black, one white and gray for $19.95 at Adorama. Mine is on its way...


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When you look at the new DSLR Video Fastpack, you see a next generation backpack that's evolved from the original (and popular) Fastpack. With the current model, Lowepro has updated both the design and function. The official announcement is just days away. But I've been using a test model for nearly 3 months, and I'm going to show you some of the features that have impressed me.

DSLR Video Fastpack 250 AW

Mobility Redefined

  • Clever Fastpack Access that combines easy entry for your gear when you need it, yet allows you to keep it protected and organized during transport.
  • Lightweight, Stylish Design that doesn't attract attention in urban settings. Even the Lowepro logo is stitched with black thread to downplay recognition.
  • All Weather Cover that is stored in the bottom of the pack, but can be quickly deployed to cover the entire bag in just seconds. Helps protect gear from the elements.
  • Side Mount Tripod Holder that accommodates tripods, monopods, or DSLR video rigs.
  • Built-in Laptop/Tablet Sleeve that provides quick access to your computer, yet protects it when not in use.
  • Well-Designed Storage Compartments to keep both camera gear and personal items neatly stowed.
  • Audio Organizer Pouch to tame those cords from microphones and the rest of your sound gear.
  • Hide Away Hip Belt Storage for you when don't need the hip belt and want it out of your way.

DSLR Video Fastpack 250 AW with Quick Access Open DSLR Video Fastpack 250 AW with Quick Access Open

What Makes it a Fastpack?

All three models (150, 250 & 350) provide side access to your camera. Here's how to best take advantage of this feature. First, loosely buckle the hip belt so you have a few extra inches of room around your waist. Then slide the top strap off your right shoulder, and swing the bag around to your front from the left side. Open the side zipper compartment and retrieve the camera. The hip belt will keep the pack attached to your body, even if the other shoulder strap slides off. Once camera is in hand, swing the pack around to the back again so it's out of your way while shooting. This entire procedure takes only seconds. The outer security strap will keep the rest of your gear in place during this process.

DSLR Video Fastpack 150 AW
DSLR Video Fastpack 150 AW with Tripod

Side Mount Tripod Holder

For portable tripods, such as the Joby Gorillapod Focus, you can use the side mesh pocket with top side strap to secure it during transport. For larger tripods and video rigs, pull out the tripod cup that's stashed behind the mesh pocket. When you're not using it, it hides neatly away behind the mesh pocket.

Camera Compartment for DSLR Video Fastpack 150 AW Camera Compartment for DSLR Video Fastpack 150 AW

Choosing the Right Size Bag for your Gear

Nimble photographers should be well-served with the DSLR Video Fastpack 150 AW. It secures up to a 13" laptop or table. I've been using it with both a MacBook Air and an iPad with room to spare. The camera compartment will hold up to a Canon 5D Mark II (no grip) with 24-105 f/4 zoom (as shown above). I've been toting the Canon 60D with 15-85mm zoom (closer to the gear Lowepro recommends for this bag), plus a Canon 320 EX flash (left side) and an Olympus PEN with 17mm f/2.8 lens (right side). If needed, I can store additional lenses or another compact camera in the top personal compartment.

Camera Compartment for DSLR Video Fastpack 250 AW Camera Compartment for DSLR Video Fastpack 250 AW

For event coverage and bigger jobs, the DSLR Video Fastpack 250 AW holds more gear. For computer, it accommodates up to a 17" laptop. In the camera compartment I reconfigured the dividers so I could store a Canon 5D with a 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom attached to the body. It looks like there's enough head room for a grip also, but I wasn't able to test that. I also had room for the 16-35mm f/2.8 and 24-105mm f/4 zooms.

As I mentioned earlier, I did rearrange the dividers for this set up. Lowepro provides you with a stock configuration when they ship the bag, but you're not limited to that. For my set up, I removed the right divider, took the left divider, turned it around and placed it on the right side to hold the 16-35 and 24-105. This is a perfect set up for event photography, allowing me quick access to the 5D Mark II with the 70-200mm f/2.8 attached. For different gigs, I might move the dividers around again.

If you have tons of gear, you can fill up the DSLR Video Fastpack 350 AW. I didn't have one for testing, so we'll have to wait for the official announcement to see the specs for it.

Fastpack 250 and 150 Side by Side Fastpack 250 and 150 Side by Side

Pricing and Availabilty

We should see an official announcement from Lowepro as early as Oct. 3 with pricing information and availabilty. From what I understand, the pricing will be very competitive. If you're attending PhotoPlus Expo on Oct. 27-29 in New York City, you can see the bags in person at the Lowepro booth.

In addition to his other photography pursuits, Derrick Story serves as the Photography Evangelist for Lowepro.


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redrock_livelens_canon.jpg

This isn't just any adapter. The Redrock Micro LiveLens MFT is the first active lens mount to allow Canon EF lenses to be used with any micro four-thirds camera body. It provides the power and electronics to control Canon EF lenses when attached to these cameras, such as the Olympus PEN or Panasonic G series. With the LiveLens MFT's control touchpad, the EF lens' aperture can be opened and closed in increments as small as 1/3 stop. The LiveLens MFT works with virtually every EF lens available today.

The active lens mount is available in the Redrock Micro store for $442.50. If you have lots of Canon glass and shoot micro 4/3, this could be interesting.


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For Whom Is the Nikon 1 Built?

nikon1_front.jpg

I've been thinking about the Nikon 1 and trying to figure out why there isn't an APS-C sensor in that handsome body. Instead, as you probably know by now, Nikon designed a 1" sensor that's smaller than micro 4/3, but bigger than a compact. Some speculate that they did this to protect their DSLR business. Really?

I guess Sony didn't get that memo when they designed the NEX series, which features a 1.5X APS-C sized 14.2 MP CMOS sensor. Nor did Olympus when they put the same sized sensor in their PEN series as they have in their DSLRs. Both companies, along with Panasonic and Samsung, might be feeling like they've dodged a bullet.

So, for whom is the Nikon 1 built? I doubt that they will lure away any NEX shooters. Olympus might be vulnerable up the road if they don't update their technology. Those who already love Nikon are most likely to embrace this system. Canon is going to announce something big in November, so its brand loyalists will probably sit tight for the moment.

Here's the thing from my point of view... if I'm coming to the game this late, then I would want to pull out all of the stops and leverage as much fantastic Nikon technology as possible to go after Sony. In my mind, the Nikon 1 doesn't do that. It feels like a camera designed by committee. And I really don't know who it's for.

One of the biggest frustrations I see when people begin to take control of organizing photos on their computers, is what to do with all of those files from years past. I hear stories of photographers immediately adding thousands of images to their brand new workflow, only to have it smothered in the avalanche. As you may have guessed, I have ideas on how to make the transition from disheveled to meticulous. And I share them in this movie.

Keeping track of your work is a focus of my latest title on lynda.com, Organizing and Archiving Digital Photos. I show you techniques for Lightroom, Aperture, iPhoto, and even roll-your-own. By spending a little time with these movies, you should be able to tighten up your photo management workflow.

More on Organizing and Archiving Digital Photos

Roundtripping from Lightroom to Photoshop

Organizing and Archiving Overview Movie

Choosing the Right Hard Drive for Your Photo Backup

"Organizing and Archiving Your Photos" - Digital Photography Podcast 290

Quick Keywording Tips in Lightroom 3

Backing Up Aperture 3 Via My Local Network


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GorillaPod Focus with Ballhead X: Tested

The GorillaPod Focus with Ballhead X is no chimp. At the top of the Joby product line, this tripod combines stability and flexibility in a package that only weighs 762 grams, less than 2 pounds. Yet it can stabilize a camera rig up to 11 pounds.

GorillaPod Focus on 1" Pole Close Up

I had heard conflicting reports about this tripod, so I decided to put it to the test. I mounted a Canon 5D Mark II with 24-105mm L f/4 zoom on the GorillaPod. To make it interesting, I composed a vertical shot.

GorillaPod Focus with Ballhead X

No problems there. So I wrapped the legs around a 1" PVC pipe, then composed vertically. Still no problems.

GorillaPod Focus on 1" Pole

So, with an everyday rig, I think the GorillaPod Focus will hold up. Will it hold a 300mm f/4 lens? Probably not. I wouldn't even try.

The ballhead itself has both pan and tilt controls. The pan is particularly handy when shooting video or composing panoramas. The action is remarkably smooth. The quick release plate is easy to operate and made of quality materials.

Ballhead X

The legs are about 11" tall, and they don't extend. Instead, if you need more height, your find something to wrap them around -- a tree branch, sign pole, etc. Or you can find a surface to set the GorillaPod on, such as a rock, picnic bench, or newspaper machine. In return, you get a lightweight package that's easy to pack in, or on, your camera bag.

The GorillaPod Focus plus Ballhead X isn't cheap. It will run you about $115 US. But if you find yourself without a tripod way too often, and you don't photograph African game, then the price might be worth the images you're suddenly able to capture.


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Review: Filterstorm Pro for the iPad

Filterstorm Pro strives to solve a number of problems for the nimble photographer working on an iPad or iPad 2. It provides a true library environment, complete with star ratings so you can organize your shoot. It handles Raw files with relative ease, even on the original iPad. And there's IPTC support and batch processing -- overall, a step forward in many areas for photo management on a tablet device.

Filterstorm Pro

I ran a basic test with Filterstorm Pro from a recent photo shoot where I shot Raw with a Canon 60D. The beginning workflow went like this:

  • Connected memory card to iPad using Camera Connection Kit.
  • Opened thumbnails the Photos app - I imported 5 Raw files.
  • Swiched to FilterStorm and choose Import iPad Photos.
  • Imported the selected album that had all 5 images.
  • Browsed the images in the Filterstrom library and rated them.
  • Added IPTC metadata such as copyright, caption, creator, etc.
  • Applied image edits.
  • Exported favorite photo to Flickr according to my specifications.

Unfortunately, Filterstorm could not provide EXIF data for my 60D Raws, other than the image size - 3456x5184. I was, however, able to add IPTC metadata to entire batch of photos at once. I could also create template sets to speed up this process in the future. Another nice touch is the ability to add a watermark.

The image editing went fairly well. I actually think this is the weakest area of the application. There are no Levels controls or a histogram to work with (or if there is a histogram, I couldn't find it). There are no Shadows or Highlights controls per se. The curves function works well, but not everyone likes using curves. You do have masking controls if you want them. The Add Exposure control did not seem to work properly for me, or maybe I just didn't understand how to use it. It should be straightforward.

Once I finished, my edited images were put in a stack with the original and displayed in the library.

Export allowed me to send to the images to my Photos library on the iPad, email, Flickr, Dropbox, or FTP. Exporting from Filterstorm Pro went well, and the IPTC data I added traveled with the photo. In the future, I have to remember to clear the various IPTC fields, or that data will be applied to subsequent photos.

Pros

  • True library environment for managing photo shoots on an iPad
  • Works with both iPad and iPad2
  • Raw file processing, even with high resolution cameras such as the Canon 60D
  • IPTC metadata management
  • Stable application that did not crash during testing
  • Batch processing is helpful

Cons

  • Image editing controls lack histogram, levels, shadow and highlight recovery
  • No EXIF data for certain Raw files, such as those from Canon 60D
  • Still a few rough edges, but those should be smoothed out in future updates
  • Bottom Line

    Filterstorm Pro is a breakthrough app for the iPad. For the first time, I can process and manage Raw files on a first generation iPad. Being able to add IPTC metadata is a big plus, especially coupled with the flexible export options.

    These features do come at a price, however. Filterstorm Pro will cost you $14.99 in the US. And I believe it could still use some improvement in the image editing functions, if it is indeed going to be your complete environment on the iPad the way Aperture or Lightroom serve us on our computers.

    That being said, this is a true robust nimble photographer application.

    Nimbleosity Rating: 4 (out of five possible)

    More Nimble Photographer Articles

    Revisiting a Wireless Workflow from Camera to iPad

    Adobe Launches Carousel for Mobile Photography on iPhone, iPad, and Mac

    Minimal Folio for iPad: Truly Useful Portfolio and Presentation App

    Return of the Nimble Photographer

    Nik Software Brings Its Magic to the iPad with Snapseed

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    M.I.C. CF Card Reader for the iPad: Does it Work?

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    The $2 iPad Stand

    Bluetooth Keyboard and iPad - A Powerful Combination

    Turn Your iPad into a Live Camera

    Lowepro Classified 160 AW is Perfect Bag for iPad Toting Photographers

    "iPad for Photographers" - Digital Photography Podcast 219


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    Why Would We Want a High End Compact?

    Canon S100

    As I look at the just-announced Canon S100, it has me thinking about this class of device in general. What factors would motivate me to spend between $400-$800 for a camera that fits in a pocket (in addition to the one I already have in my iPhone)?

    There are entries in this category that tempt me. I already have a Canon S90, and I love it. The S100 adds speed, resolution, optical zooming range, better low light capability, and GPS. There are questions about implementation, such as, can I shoot RAW and have those images GPS tagged too? We'll see about all of that soon enough.

    The Fujifilm X10 tempts me. It's absolutely beautiful, with premium glass, EXR image processor, manual controls, RAW capability, fast f/2.0/2.8 4X zoom lens, image stabilization, and 7 fps continuous shooting mode. Plus it has an optical viewfinder. How does it perform? We'll find out this Fall. How does it feel in the hands? I can't wait to find out.

    Fujifilm X10

    We're waiting for the release of the Fujifilm X10.

    I really like the Olympus XZ-1 with its fast f/2.0 lens, ability to use an electronic viewfinder, off-camera flash control, Bluetooth connectivity, and of course, RAW capability. It's actually a system camera in a small package. I can go barebones with just the XZ-1 itself, or I can bring along accessories and flashes. Nice option to have.

    Olympus XZ-1 with VF-2 Electronic Viewfinder Olympus XZ-1 with VF-2 Electronic Viewfinder. Click on image for larger version. Photo by Derrick Story.

    As I think about these devices, what I really want boils down to this: unique experience, professional capability, and ultra portability. These cameras are for people who what to make photographs that can be featured on Google+ more than Facebook. And with an Eye-Fi card, I can leverage the communication capability of my iPhone to share these images quickly.

    As for the experience... if I'm at my kid's back to school night, instead of pulling out an iPhone for a snapshot, I have an X10. That's a different sensation. Even the most basic picture becomes an activity to relish. It feels good to make a photograph. Will I shoot more as a result?

    I've never seen photography more competitive than it is now. I think these cameras give us the ability to maximize any opportunity that presents itself, whether we're out to dinner with the family, or walking to the store for carton of milk. And because we love shooting with them, we may find more excuses to make photographs.

    The question is... can we afford them?


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    A lot has changed since this nimble photographer last wrote about using an Eye-Fi card with ShutterSnitch on an iPad. In short, everything is a bit more interesting. ShutterSnitch has now evolved to a very high nimbleosity rating. Let me show you why.

    ShutterSnitch Browser

    First, there have been under-the-hood improvements that make connecting your iPad to a digital camera with an Eye-Fi card much easier. I'm using it with an Olympus E-PL2 with an Eye-Fi Pro X2, primarily because the 12MP files from the PEN camera are easier to move around than those larger files from my Canon 60D or 5D Mark II. I shoot in RAW+Jpeg mode, sending the Jpegs directly to my iPad, and uploading the RAW files later into Aperture.

    Aside from being very fun, why would I want to add this second iPad workflow to my shooting? Two reasons: I get to view the photos in semi-realtime on the iPad as I'm working. This is particularly cool when capturing portraits. The subject gets feedback during the session. The second reason is that I can post images to Flickr (or where ever) very quickly with this system. In part, this is due to a major improvement in ShutterSnitch called Actions.

    ShutterSnitch Actions

    Actions in ShutterSnitch are a lot like Automator scripting on a Mac. You have a list of tasks to choose from, you organize the tasks that you want to apply, then save them as a multifunctional Action.

    I have an Action set up that first saves a master of the image to my Photos library (keeping it safe and sound), then resizes the image to 1024 pixels, then adds my copyright. location data, and author credit, then sends the adjusted file to my Flickr Photostream. In short, I choose a shot I like, then it's on Flickr minutes later, with all of my info attached. I can even add a watermark if I want.

    Choosing the shot is easy too. ShutterSnitch uses the same "star rating" system that I enjoy in iPhoto, Aperture, and Lightroom. I go through the shoot, rate the images, then select the ones I want to upload to Flickr or to any of my other sharing sites.

    ShutterSnitch and Eye-Fi work together when you have a WiFi network available. I've already made the Eye-Fi card aware of my standard networks (home, office, clients, etc.). So the setup is pretty much ready to go when I am.

    If you're a nimble photographer who already has an iPad and an Eye-Fi card, I highly recommend spending the $15.99 for ShutterSnitch. Developer Brian Gerfort is one of the hardest working guys on the planet, and has continually refined this application. And I suspect he will continue to do so.

    Nimbleosity Rating: 4 (out of 5 possible)

    More Nimble Photographer Articles

    Adobe Launches Carousel for Mobile Photography on iPhone, iPad, and Mac

    Minimal Folio for iPad: Truly Useful Portfolio and Presentation App

    Return of the Nimble Photographer

    Nik Software Brings Its Magic to the iPad with Snapseed

    PhotoToaster for the iPad

    Putting Eye-Fi "Direct Mode" to the Test

    iPad Camera Connection Kit

    M.I.C. CF Card Reader for the iPad: Does it Work?

    Eye-Fi Card, iPad, and ShutterSnitch for Wireless Transfer

    iPad as a Photo Softbox

    How to Create and Deliver Content for the iPad

    Acme Made iPad Cases for Style and Protection

    Will the iPad Squish my Photos?

    The $2 iPad Stand

    Bluetooth Keyboard and iPad - A Powerful Combination

    Turn Your iPad into a Live Camera

    Lowepro Classified 160 AW is Perfect Bag for iPad Toting Photographers

    "iPad for Photographers" - Digital Photography Podcast 219


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    Preparing for Fall Color

    Fall Color

    Here in Northern California, I can already feel the approach of Autumn. The light changes. The air smells different. Fall color is around the corner.

    I've noticed that I haven't updated my library with any new Autumn shots in some time. Funny how I get busy with day-to-day tasks, and as a result, miss an entire season. So this year, I'm getting ready now to have the VW Van packed so I can leave quickly when the leaves begin to turn.

    If your photo library could us a little updating in this category, now's the time to make your plans. First, you need a good resource so you can track the changing of the seasons. Here, I'm using CalPhoto. Photographer Carol Leigh will be hosting the Fall Foliage Hotsheet there. So find the resource for your area and check in regularly.

    Next, get your outdoor gear together. Do you have fuel for the stove? Food and cookware organized? Get this stuff ready now. It's hard enough to break away from the grind. Once you get the opportunity, be ready to go.

    Create open windows in your calendar. Mine tends to fill up a month or two ahead of time. So I've saved small blocks of days here and there. I might not hit the color at its prime (we need some luck for that), but I will be able to escape. Now's also a good time to let your family know that you might be gone for a day or two in October.

    I'll talk more about fall color photographically in an upcoming post. But for now, I have to make sure I have plenty of coffee packed in the kitchen kit.


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