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Camera Straps

02nd April 2014

Simple or Stylish

There were more than a few exhibitors at the Wedding & Portrait Photographers International Expo showing their accessories. And camera straps were among the most frequent offering.

Two particular offerings caught my attention: one for their simplicity and the other for their uniqueness.


CustomSLR camera straps

 


The Air Strap has a wide shoulder pad that is both lightweight breathable. The strap is easy adjustable to different lengths for a variety of carrying situations. Price is about $20.

The Glide Strap is a neat shoulder strap that’s split towards the bottom. By pulling on the camera, the strap expands for quick, yet secure access. Price is about $33.

For more information about the Air Strap or the Glide Strap, please visit CustomSLR
 


 

Hold Fast camera straps

 

For those photographers seeking a more stylish look, Hold Fast Gear‘s booth was loaded with a large number of colorful and unique accessories.

Below and to the right Matt is demonstrating the Luxury Leather Multi-camera strap. It features wide high grade leather, large D-rings, camera attachment and sliding leather harness. Cost is about $200.


Hold Fast has a lot more stylish accessories.

For more information about the Hood Fast camera straps, please visit Hold Fast
 


 
You’ll have to decide for yourself whether you prefer the simple or the stylish.
 
 
Written by Arnie Lee
 
 


 
 

Removing the Shakes

30th March 2014

Stabilizers for Shooting Video

As I was making my way through the 300+ exhibitor booths at this month’s Wedding & Portrait Photographers International Expo I was reminded how important video has become to this part of the photo industry.

For quality smooth videos, photographers rely on stabilizers to remove the shakes. At the lower end of the spectrum is the iPhone and GoPro. With proper stabilization, these cameras are capable of shooting very decent videos.

Tiffen has two accessories: one for iPhone and another for the GoPro Hero: the Curve and the Smoothee.


Tiffen Smoothee
Tiffen Curve

The “Smoothee” is for an iPhone

The “Curve” is a lightweight stabilizer for the GoPro Hero

The Steadicam Smoothee is a small single handle device with a quick-release mount for the iPhone. It sells for $150. For more information, please visit Steadicam Smoothee

The Steadicam Curve is specifically designed and balanced for the various models of the GoPro Hero. The price is $100 and is available in four colors. For more information, please visit Steadicam Curve

Both the Smoothee and the Curve are lightweight and allow the photographer to easily move alongside the subject while recording smooth videos.


For larger cameras, a solid tripod with a robust fluid head is most often used. But for hand-held applications, photographers will want to turn to a portable video rig.

One such rig is the Comodo Orbit.


The “Orbit” stabilizer from Comodo is designed for much larger cameras.

This is a lightweight, hand-held gimbal rig built for DLSRs

The twin grips make the rig easier to handle especially when shooting for extended periods of time. The grips also double as a floor stand. With its gimbal mount, the camera is free to pivot to its stabilized position. The Orbit sells for $1500. For more information please visit Comodo.

 
 
 
Written by Arnie Lee
 
 


Joby Wrist Strap

27th March 2014

Another “Handy” Accessory

Earlier this month I stopped by the Joby’s booth at the Wedding & Portrait Photographer’s International Expo. There I picked up one of their DSLR Wrist Straps.

While this is not a particularly sexy accessory, I’ve found it to be quite practical. Instead of a conventional shoulder strap which I have to slide off my shoulder in order to use the camera, the wrist strap lets me hold the camera conveniently and safely. It’s especially useful when I’m shooting from a single location and am not transporting the camera distances. The camera is there in my hand ready to shoot immediately.


The strap attaches to one of the camera strap lugs. The adjustable “loop” slides snugly across your wrist giving you a safe grip.

This inexpensive DSLR Wrist Strap is made of heavy-duty webbed material and costs about $15. For more information please visit Joby’s online website.
 
 
Reviewed by Arnie Lee
 
 


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Rogue Safari

26th March 2014

Flash Extender

The Wedding & Portrait Photography International event can be thought of as a conference of 260+ instructional classes for where photographers can sharpen and learn new skills and a huge expo where they can meet with more than 300 exhibitors displaying, explaining and selling all kinds of photographic equipment, accessories and services.

For two days, I roamed the two exhibit floors at the MGM Resort visiting with several dozen exhibitors as they showed me new camera models, innovative equipment and useful accessories.

 
In the next few articles, I’ll review a few of the more interesting finds from the exhibit floor.


 

Rogue is a maker of a variety of flash accessories. I got a hold of their a new device they call the Safari. This small unit sits atop of your camera’s pop-up flash to extend its range.

The Safari package comes with a couple of shoe mounts to fit on different model cameras. The mount slides onto your camera’s hot shoe. The Safari then slides onto the mount.

Your pop-up flash then “opens” inside of the Safari as you can see below.


Below are unretouched photos without any flash compensation. Clearly the Safari does a good job of extending the range of the camera’s pop-up flash.


Taken using the pop-up flash without the Safari

Taken using the pop-up flash with the Safari

Rogue says that the Safari works best with lenses that have a focal length of 100mm or greater. My simple tests proved equally effective using both Canon and Nikon cameras. You may want to dial down the flash compensation if your subject is close to the flash.

The Safari sells for about $35. For more information, please see www.RogueSafari.com
 
 
Reviewed by Arnie Lee
 
 
 


WPPI 2014

25th March 2014

Wedding and Portrait Photographers

In early March while still in the midst of Winter in the Midwest, I very much look forward to escaping for a few days to sun and warmth of Las Vegas to attend the Wedding & Portrait Photographers International Convention.

As its name suggests, the WPPI event is aimed at photographers who specialize in weddings and portraits.

This year the conference included more than 160 classes taught by a number of well-known instructors: Lindsay Adler, Zach Arias, Bob Davis, Jerry Ghionis, Michael Greenberg, Peter Hurley, Scott Kelby, Sandy Puc and Jennifer Rozenbaum to name a few of the 170 instructors in all. Classes ranged from practical shooting techniques, lighting, posing, using specialized equipment and accessories, building and maintaining a growing client base, marketing, advertising and pricing.

WPPI is internationally known and more than 12,000 photographers trekked to Las Vegas from 64 countries to learn from other successful pros. Interestingly, more than 50% of the attendees were new registrants this year. My observation is that more than half of the attendees were women – suggesting that women are rapidly growing the wedding and portrait photography business.

In addition to the convention, there’s a large expo where the attendees can view the equipment, accessories, supplies and services offered by more than 300 exhibitors.

As you walk around the exhibit hall you’ll see live demo shoots, discussions and displays.

 


Jerry Ghionis demonstrating lighting techniques

Bambi Cantrell discussing wedding photography

Tamara Lackey explaining the importance of time of day Demonstrating camera techniques at the Sony booth

Miller and GraphiStudio showing a myriad of album covers and photo book services


 
If you’d like the join the WPPI or if you can benefit from attending next year’s conference and expo, please visit the site WPPI Online site.

 
Please stay tuned for several upcoming articles about equipment and accessories that I reviewed at this year’s expo.

 

 
Written by Arnie Lee

 

 

 

 


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Oops. Saved Again!

26th November 2013

Why I use filters instead of lens caps

In my photography early days, I was a faithful user of lens caps. Whenever I wasn’t shooting, I would snap the lens cap onto the lens. I considered this a safe way to care for my equipment. Of course, most of us also enclosed the entire camera inside its companion leather case. Yes, we were very protective of our precious equipment. And yes again, I spent a lot of time looking for misplaced or buying replacement lens caps.

When I acquired my first SLR at age 14, I quickly fell out of the habit of using lens caps. I may have inherited this trait from my photography mentor for whom I worked while still a student. John explained that removing a lens cap required too much time when you are trying to capture the action.

Instead, I began to using a filter on the lens to protect the front glass element. The filter prevents dust and dirt from accumulating on the lens surface. And the filter is easier and safer to clean. To this day I use either a high quality UV or Skylight filter for most of my shooting.

Now that digital cameras have replaced film cameras I also notice that leather cases have all but gone out of style. I see very few them of them these days. But I do notice that many photographers still use lens caps to protect the glass in front.

I’m not here to make a political case for or against lens caps, only to suggest that filters offer more than dust protection for your lens. In addition, they can protect the front lens element from nasty scratches.

Here’s my latest proof. I was carrying this camera into the house when it slipped out of my hand and onto the floor. As you can see the filter is shattered.

Of course my heart missed a few beats as I watch the camera as it hits the floor. However, after removing the filter I can see that the front lens surface remains untouched.

In spite of the fall, the camera is working perfectly. Apparently the lens barrel took the brunt of the fall so I’ll have to repair the lens’ electronics.. But the glass is still pristine.

This isn’t the first time that I’ve had a mishap such as this. Actually, this is the third time that a filter has saved the front glass element of one of my lenses. This alone tells me that I should keep on buying filters for each of my lenses.

 

 
Written by: Arnie Lee

 

 


 

 

 

 

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PhotoPlus Expo – Redsnap

19th November 2013

High Speed Photography and More

As I was walking the aisles of the PhotoPlus Expo, an impressive photo caught my attention. It was a stop action of a glass bottle as it was shattering into hundreds of small pieces.

I was at the booth of a company named Triggertrap and they were showing off its Redsnap trigger. This device is unique in that you can use one of several sensors to trigger your camera or flash.

 

This is the Redsnap.

It accepts interchangeable sensors: laser, sound, infrared and lightning. It has three outputs to connect up to three cameras or flashes.

A sensor snap into the top of the unit. In this photo, the sound sensor is attached which was used to trigger to sample photo of the breaking bottle.


this photo from Triggertrap website

These are a pair of laser sensors. A laser sensor can trigger a camera when the laser beam is broken.

The Redsnap can also be set to take timelapse photographs.

 

The good news is that this looks like a promising product.

The bad news is that the Redsnap is not yet available. Triggertap has been raising money to build and distribute the Redsnap through a Kickstarter campaign. The goal was to raise £50,000 but they surprisingly raised £290,000.

I learned that the electronics and enclosures for the Redsnap are now being finalized. Small production batches will be available for Kickstarter contributors beginning in December and January and full production is scheduled to begin about May of next year.

Retail prices have yet to be determined. For more information go to the Triggertrap site.

It looks like an interesting accessory. I hope to review one when they become available.

Written by: Arnie Lee

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Stop Lens Cap Loss

Honestly, I’m not a big fan of lens caps. In the field, I don’t want to remove the cap, put it in a pocket for safe keeping and then be get prepared to shoot. Nor do I want to dig it out of my pocket and put it back onto the lens.

Instead I’ve made it a habit of buying a good quality UV filter for each of my lenses. The filter is to protects the lens front surface from dirt, grime and scratches. I feel a lot more comfortable cleaning the surface of the filter repeatedly rather than the surface of the lens itself. To be fair, this is my preferred way of shooting and I know that not everyone subscribes to this way of working.

So how did we get into this round-about discussion about lens caps?

At the PhotoPlus Expo last month as part of my reporting I received a Press Kit from show management. Inside were a few sample accessories courtesy of the exhibitors.

One was these gifts was the Hufa S, a lens cap holder. Last week I took a few minutes to look at this product.

This small and clever accessory is made of hard plastic that’s fully covered with a soft rubberized material. The Hufa easily attaches to your camera strap without having to disassemble the entire setup. Instead the strap slips through the slots and is ready to use in seconds.

WHen you remove your cap from the lens, you simply slip it beneath the large clip. The clip places enough pressure to hold the cap regardless of its size.

Here you can see how the Hufa S attaches to the camera strap.

You can adjust the position of the Hufa S further up or down along the strap so that it won’t interfere with your handling of the camera.

 


There are actually two models: the Hufa and the Hufa S. The Hufa attaches to wide camera straps that are often found on camera bags. The “S” model shown here is for the narrower camera straps. Each model is available in three different colors: black, red and white. They are affordably priced at $10 each.

If you’re interested in buying one, please visit Hufa Holder.

 

 

Written by: Arnie Lee

 

 


 

 

 

 

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PhotoPlus Expo – ZipShot

12th November 2013

Tamrac’s very compact tripod

For photographers who like to travel light, Tamrac has introduced the ZipShot.

 

This is a very small and lightweight tripod.

Weighing less than a pound and only 15″ long when folded, it’s easy to carry.

Alana, the rep for Tamrac is showing me how the compact ZipShot easily unfolds for setup.

If you’ve set up a camping tent that uses fiberglass shock-cords, then you’ll understand how the ZipShot works.

It has aluminum legs that stand 44″ above the ground and has a heavy duty ball head.

Alana told me that the ZipShot can be used with equipment weighing up to 3 pounds so it won’t be useful for long, heavy telephoto lenses.

She also showed me the Quick-Release accessory kit for the ZipShot.

Place the base to the ZipShot’s ball head and you can quickly attach/detach your camera to the tripod.

Price of the ZipShot (TR406) is about $59. The Quick-Release kit (A120) sells for $20.

 

 
For more information about Tamrac’s ultra-light tripod see ZipShot

 

 
Written by: Arnie Lee

 

 


 

 

Hand Grip and Shoulder Strap Combo

For much of my shooting, I’m out in the field exploring and enjoying the outdoors, nature and landscapes: you get the picture. I like to travel light so I rarely use a camera bag or backpack. As I’m walking, hiking, climbing, bending, kneeling and at times crawling, my cameras get a mighty good workout from jostling around on my shoulder and banging against my side.

Occasionally, I’ve used various camera shoulder straps. While these provide ample padding to cushion the weight on my shoulder, they do little to prevent the camera from swinging back and forth as I’m moving.

As I was wandering through PhotoPlus Expo recently, I stopped by the Joby booth where their rep Kate showed me a new hand grip/shoulder strap combo.

The UltraFit Hand Strap lets you comfortably hold the camera without having to use any finger pressure. You can carry a heavy DSLR with minimal effort and without the fear of dropping it.

You can also see the shoulder strap that’s hanging below the hand grip that Kate is holding.

Flip the camera over and you’ll see that the hand grip attaches to the camera body with a Swiss-Arca style flat plate.

For times when you want a hands-off way of carrying the camera you can screw Joby’s Pro Sling Strap to the plate. A short but strong tethering line minimizes the swing of the camera as it hangs from your shoulder.

 

The UltraFit Hand Strap with Plate sells for about $35. The Pro Sling Strap sells for about $30.

After talking to Joby and seeing it in action, I’ve already placed a set of these on order.

 

 
Written by: Arnie Lee

 

 


 

 

 

 

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