Category Archives: Product Review

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My Review Of The Phase One IQ250 Medium Format CMOS Back

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Camera and software maker Phase One let me have/demo/test the brand new groundbreaking CMOS 50 megapixel digital medium format back for a couple of weeks. You can check out all of my thoughts and impressions as well as test images over on Fstoppers.com: http://fstoppers.com/review-of-the-phase-one-iq250-medium-format-cmos-back

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Need An Indestructible Lighting Case That’s Lighter Than The Competition? The Pelican iM2950

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When you travel on assignment over 100k miles a year like I do, you start to learn the importance of durable cases for your gear and slimming down on weight to save on baggage fees. For years I have been flying around with the Pelican 1650 to protect my flashes. I had it so fine-tuned for weight that it was 69.5 lbs, just half a pound under the 70 pound airline weight class. Although, after recently replacing my White Lighting flashes with the new Profoto D1 Air flash heads, I wondered if I could find a lighter case option.

After some online research, I discovered the Pelican iM2950 Storm Case. It’s just as tough, can carry my 4 travel flash heads and modifiers, and rolls just like the 1650 does. On the inside, the 2950 is a couple of inches larger than the 1650, and depending on what site you read its about 5 to 10 pounds lighter. I ordered the case with the padded divider kit rather than the cubed foam. Unfortunately the kit does NOT come with enough padded dividers to organize my setup the way I needed but thankfully I kept some extra pieces from my old 1650 and made it work. You may want to keep that in mind if you order a setup for yourself. You can see my new case configuration below. The grey dividers are from the old case.

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Currently the case weighs in at around 66 pounds. The extra weight savings will allow me to squeeze in a few more light modifiers or I could just replace the two D1 500 heads with the more powerful D1 1000 heads, which are about a pound heavier each. I know to those that don’t travel on shoots every week, this may not seem like a big deal, but the extra 5-10 pounds of weight savings will give me more flexibility to travel with a lot of the light modifiers and accessories I would need on location.

According to B&H:

The Pelican iM2950 Storm Trak Case with Padded Dividers (Black) is an injection-molded case made of HPX high performance resin, that is virtually unbreakable, dent-resistant and shatter-resistant. It is tough, rugged, lightweight, airtight and watertight. There is a permanently attached Vortex valve that automatically adjusts air pressure without letting in water, and won’t unscrew from the case. Press & Pull latches open with the push of a button, yet stay closed securely under impact or stress. The case has unbreakable molded-in hasps that allow the addition of standard size padlocks. It has hinges with integrated feet that hold fast under impact, and create a flat surface for upright stability. It is carried by three double-layered, soft-grip, solid-core handles, lightweight retractable, telescoping handle and rugged in-line wheels.

Material Exterior: HPX high performance resin
Interior: Water-resistant, PVC-coated nylon fabric dividers
Interior: Convoluted foam pad in the lid.
Type of Closure Five Press & Pull latches
Two unbreakable molded-in hasps
Hinges with integrated feet
Exterior Dimensions 31.3 x 20.4 x 12.2″ (79.5 x 51.82 x 30.99cm) (LxWxH)
Interior Dimensions 29 x 18 x 10.5″ (73.66 x 45.72 x 26.67cm) (LxWxH)
Lid depth: 2.0″ (5.08cm)
Interior Fitting Water-resistant, PVC-coated nylon fabric dividers
Accommodates Items that need protection and organizing
Carrying/Transport Options Three padded handles
Telescoping handle
Built-in wheels
Weight 34 lbs (13.15kg) 1

 

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My well-worn Pelican 1650 (top) vs my new iM2950

You can order an iM2950 at B&H HERE.

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The DSLR Camera To Buy For Your Aspiring Photographer This Holiday Season : Canon SL1

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Every year, as the holiday season comes around, people will email and message me asking what to buy themselves or a loved one to start or expand upon their love for photography. A camera that offers interchangeable lenses, easy to use, good quality, compact, reliable, and can be had for under $1000 with a lens. I have that camera for you…

Canon has always made dependable high quality cameras for beginners and pros alike. When I’m not shooting with my Phase One medium format, I use my Canon cameras. In fact, I have probably half a dozen Canon DSLR’s sitting around the office for various purposes from still to video. Recently, Canon announced a cool new camera for their entry-level DSLR “Rebel” line called the SL1 that you should be pretty excited about. Here’s why:

  • The SL1 is extremely light and compact as crop sensor DSLR cameras go. According to Canon: “For ultra portability with a minimal footprint, the EOS Rebel SL1 is the world’s smallest and lightest digital SLR. Weighing in at approximately 13 ounces, the EOS Rebel SL1′s astonishingly compact size does not compromise its excellent performance as a member of the Canon EOS family”
  • It is a very respectable 18 megapixel still photos (RAW and JPG)
  • Has an ISO range of 100-25,600, which makes it VERY capable in low light in comparison to previous models
  • It shoots FULL 1080p HD video at 30p and 24p. It also shoots slow motion up to 60 frames per second.
  • Its autofocus system is not as awesome as a $3k camera, but it will do a solid job for you.
  • It accepts Canon’s FULL line of lenses (even the big expensive ones that the pros use)
  • It also has a pop up flash installed and a flash hotshoe that accepts Canon’s full line of external flashes when your shooter wants to expand the camera’s capabilities
  • The best part?! It can be currently had WITH an 18-55mm starter lens for a little over $500! It wasn’t that long ago you would have to pay over $1k for features like this.

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Interested in this camera? Head on over to Amazon to order one today. They also list all of the specs in great detail.

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I Never Thought It Would Be Possible To Love A Light Stand Like This: Manfrotto 1004BAC

Regular followers of my blog and various forms of social media already know I travel a LOT for shoots. We are talking over 100k miles and thousands spent in baggage fees a year! Thus, a streamlined effective travel kit loaded with gear that doesn’t waste space or weight is crucial for me. I’ve been spending the last month replacing old gear, cases, stands, lights, etc. A lot of my kit had become worn out, bent, and no longer worked properly due to hard use. During a recent trip to B&H in New York City, I discovered the most beautiful travel light stand kit I have ever seen: The Manfrotto 1004BAC stackable light stand kit.

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Why do I love these stands so much?

  • They are light weight at only 6.6 lbs each and extend to 12 feet high and close down to 42.1″
  • They don’t flex and bend like a lot of other travel stands and have a max load weight of 20lbs, which is plenty for my Profoto D1 1000 heads with a huge light modifier.
  • The 3 stands in the kit literally stack and lock together for easy transport.
  • They have this cool “double braced” wide leg stance for more stability, especially when raising your lights really high. I’ve tested them and I am impressed how they don’t flex and feel like they want to topple over as much as other lights. This is great because I cannot always travel with sand bags so being able to walk off of a plane and head to a portrait session and not worry about a light with a softbox mounted onto it toppling over onto a portrait subject due to a weak stand.

My fellow photographer buddy Clint Davis was on set and saw these stands and we immediately lusted over these stands, which are honestly a steal for $329 for all 3 stands. Kinda funny considering all of the gear porn we had on set (Tether Tools, Phase One, Profoto). You can check out the stands on B&H’s website with free shipping here: LINK

Keep an eye on my blog the coming weeks. I have replaced a majority of the lighting, travel gear, and cases I was using earlier this year in hopes of streamlining a better travel kit with the most effective gear of the best value. This includes a new strobe case, camera bag configuration, light stand case and layout, and tether table.

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Capture One Express 7 Announced – Phase One’s Affordable Raw Processing Software For Under $100

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Phase One announced their new Capture One Express 7 raw image processing software today and it’s free to try for 60 days and only $99 to buy! Express 7 is actually a streamlined version of their advanced Capture One Pro 7 software, which is what I personally use, focusing primarily on RAW processing. Also, I’m excited to mention that they are using my Mad Max photoshoot on the marketing material. :)

It’s no secret to those that follow my work, I have aligned myself professionally with Phase One. No, they are not paying me to do so. They simply have one of the finest camera systems in the world, which I happily own and shoot with (my Phase One 645 DF+ with IQ140 back), and have developed one of the most advanced tethering and RAW processing software on the market.

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Like Shooting Tethered? Check Out Some Of These Awesome Products From Tethered Tools


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If you haven’t heard of TetherTools.com yet, well… you have now. Tethered Tools makes a wide range of fantastic products to make your tethered shooting go more smoothly. They are your one stop shop for all of your tethered shooting gear needs including software… but you do have to provide the camera and computer.

Sure, they have all sorts of amazing custom configurable tables for your laptop/computer on set, but they go much further than that. Afraid of unplugging your cable from your computer or camera? They created this cool series of products called Jerkstoppers, which keeps you from causing inadvertent disconnections. Want to have easy access to your tablet device as well? They have solutions for that.

I’ve been enjoying playing with my Tether Tools setup and plan on adding custom options to my setup! You should definitely check out their site.

Oh, and if you’re wondering what software I use for my tethered shooting with my Phase One 645 DF+ IQ140 and my Canons, it’s Capture One Pro 7. You can download a fully-functional demo for free here.

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My Phase One IQ140, powerbook, and Tether Tools setup

 

Here are some of the Tether Tools products that I have been using:

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My Crazy New Customizable Camera Strap By Vulture Equipment Works

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The American-based company Vulture Equipment Works hooked me up wish a crazy new camera strap for my Phase One, although it works on essentially any camera. Sure, it may appear bulky to some, but so did another “Made in America” product, the 1967 Pontiac GTO. Also, the hooks, straps and quick-releases all have a functional purpose. This strap system is very versatile and customizable, which I’ll demonstrate to you in a future post. I love this thing. Looks like my camera is ready for battle.

Background information from the Vulture website:

Background

Somewhere around 10,000 feet, another plane in tight follow formation and a fevered rip of the shutter it hit me… “This is so cool, I need a really cool set of specialized equipment.”  Standard camera straps are just not that strong and definitely not that cool plus let’s face it, our lenses and bodies are thousands of dollars or more, so I’ve never trusted them.  I had to look no further than the C130 I was ridding in to find my inspiration, aviation cargo equipment and military special ops jump rigs, so with some time and a bunch of American ingenuity the Vulture Strap was born.

About Us

Vulture Equipment Works is an American equipment company who designs, manufactures and distributes the finest products possible for today’s imaging / outdoor professional.  Our passion lies in using only the best quality raw goods and developing highly specialized life-style gear that can last a lifetime.  Unlike most, we choose to do all of our R&D, design and prototyping ourselves, in-house at our headquarters just outside of Chicago.  This gives us complete control over the design process ensuring a true linear organic flow.  This also helps maintain our vision in the products integrity and the compatibility with the rest of our product line.  Plus we have a really tough mascot.

Vulture Equipment Works:
http://www.vultureequipmentworks.com/

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