Astute followers of Zach Egolf Photography have probably already figured out that I'm a bit of a technophile. Leading the charge in that desire is Samsung, and their line of NX cameras and lenses. As I've mentioned before, I'm a big fan of their NX1100 and their prime lenses but one device of theirs has been my great white buffalo when it comes to camera equipment:Read More
Filtering by Category: Gear Reviews
Folks around these parts may or may not know that I'm a sucker for a good method of securing my gear to my body. Both in fashionality and functionality, photography gear holds a special place in my heart, and it takes a lot to impress me. A few months ago, I raved about the Peak Design Ltd. Capture Clip V2 and how great of an addition it was to my current lineup of gear. I jumped on their Kickstarter and never looked back, and despite one tiny snafu, the capture clip has been firmly attached to my ThinkTank Photo Pro Speed Belt.
Recently, Peak Design Ltd. started up a new Kickstarter, and I was lucky enough to get my hands on some pre-production versions of the items they're selling. Peak Design Ltd. are currently attempting to pre-sale kickstart (at this point in time, it's been fully funded) a new type of strap (slide), hand strap (clutch) and strap accesory (anchor links), and I've had the chance to put these items through the ringer, and put a few words on screen to tell you what I think about them!
It should come as no big shock to anyone that has even remotely glanced at a word I've said over the last few months that I'm absolutely in love with the Samsung NX1100. I recommend the NX system to just about anyone looking to break into photography based on a few reasons, which I outlined in my review.
The one thing I had qualms with, however, was the kit lens that came with the camera. I made mention that it wasn't the fastest, and when compared to the Canon L glass that I'm used to using, it was a tiny bit depressing that I couldn't get more out of that lens.
Enter the Samsung 30mm f2.0 Pancake Lens
Screwing this lens into my NX1100 completely changed the way I look at the camera. What started out as a fun little project camera has evolved into something that could legitimately become something I would use for client work. To say that the Samsung 30mm lens is a game-changer would be an understatement.
So what makes this lens so great? Read on for my thoughts on the lens, and a breakdown of the pros and cons!Read More
It's been a little while since ZEP.com picked up any new DSLR gear. There's been the occasional purchase of mirrorless gear, but for the most part, it's been all quiet on the western front. At the end of last year's wedding season, my wonderful, beautiful, amazing second shooter mentioned that she really loved my Canon 24-70L, and that she'd really like to start using it. Seeing an opportunity I couldn't pass up, I made the offer to loan that piece to her indefinitely, as long as I could get my hands on one of the newest pieces of glass to come out of camp Sigma, the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Lens.Read More
A mere two days after Christmas 2013, I wrote about where my photography future was going, and what was going to take me there. In that post, I mentioned I had received the Samsung NX1100 Smart Camera as a Christmas gift from my wonderful wife, and was planning on instantly forcing it into my day-to-day photography. Ironically, it is that very camera that has allowed me to have a resurgence of "day-to-day photography" and so, after almost a full month's worth of using it, it's time to set about with a review!Read More
gear. Longtime fans of the blog may remember my devotion to Black Rapid and the ThinkTank Photo gear. That being said, I'm starting to get a little older, and it can be tough to have that much weight resting on my back and shoulders for 8-10 hours. I began to explore the option of having some sort of belted system when, through sheer dumb luck, I happened upon Peak Design Ltd.'s Kickstarter campaign for their Capture Clip V2.Read More
I recently gained access to the beta version of SHOWit's latest product, PASS. It's important that the "beta" portion of that sentence gets pointed out, because it really wouldn't be fair to review the service in a release candidate status, because there's a chance that the software is going to change. In fact, I sincerely hope that the software developers take some of the suggestions from its users into account, because there seems to be a few things off about the tool.Read More
Hoo-rag advertises themselves to a large number of different types of folks, and I questioned how it might be applicable to photographers. Anglers use the Hoo-rag to keep sun off of their neck and face. Its moisture wicking material lends itself to keeping people in warm, outdoor settings dry and well ventilated. Runners use the Hoo-rag to cut down on the wind that might hit them in the face as they're trucking along. Snowboarders might use the Hoo-rag to block the winter chill and snow from freezing their stylish mustache.
How, then, was I going to demo this product and make it applicable to photography? Read on to find out...
One of the things that I did not get a chance to do before I reviewed the Think Tank Airport Takeoff was to actually USE the bag in a setting that didn't involve just having the bag be a storage facility. Luckily, for me, I took a trip to Naples, Florida shortly after purchasing the bag and, despite being on vacation, still felt it necessary to bring nearly every single piece of equipment that I own. I figured that the only way to get a true read on how well the Takeoff was going to work was to really put it to work, and I have to say that, without a doubt, the Takeoff held up its end of the bargain.Read More
Ask nearly any photographer what one thing they're most likely to spend money on, and not be happy about, and there's a good chance they'll tell you the item is their bag. It's bags; not lenses, not camera bodies, not remotes or triggers, that seem to constantly be "improving" and yet never seem to satisfy the average photographer. Sure, some might tell you, "Well, I love my Timbuk2 Messenger Bag" or, "I don't go anywhere without my Lowepro Slingshot!" but talk to them for a few minutes and there's probably something that bothers them about their bag. Something that just doesn't seem to fit right, or sit right.Read More
Quite a way to sell a product, isn't it? Recently, I got the idea that I wanted to start including some sort of backdrop into my work. Babies look much better in front of a solid background, rather than just in some person's living room, or something that wasn't supposed to be in the background of the photos, and...who knows....maybe one day I'll have a need for a photobooth! Originally, I picked up the CowboyStudio Backdrop Kit which came with cloth (muslin) backdrops, a frame and stands, and a few shoot-through umbrellas. Actually, I want to say it was this kit, but that's really beside the point. The kit got to the house, and while it's served its purpose, I wasn't completely happy with the backdrops. Little did I realize that the muslin backdrops were going to be as thin as they were, and that I would want to replace them as quickly as I did. The issue with the backdrops existed in the fact that if there was ANY light source behind the backdrop, it was going to show through, and a lot of that was going to have to be removed in post-processing.
The actual stand, frame, umbrellas and light stands were fantastic, especially at that price point. It was a low-cost, start-up studio light kit and, considering I had no plans to ever open a studio, it would serve its purpose. At some point in time (probably during one of my shoots), after having ironed the backdrop for the umpteenth time, I realized that I wanted to get something better.
I should take a moment to mention that I've always been a fan of the CowboyStudio products. They sell cost-effective equipment for photographers who don't make millions of dollars for their work, and with a little DIY knowledge and elbow grease, can actually produce some stunning photos. A lot of the equipment that I take with me on shoots is CowboyStudio product, and I don't think I've bought a single thing that I wasn't happy with (despite my qualms with their muslin).
With these thoughts in mind, I picked up the CowboyStudio 9'x15' Seamless Vinyl White Backdrop and added it to my photographer's toolbox. I wanted to review this product, after having used it on a few shoots, in the hopes that I could provide some insight for folks that may be searching for a similar product!
I should say, first and foremost, that this product gets two thumbs up from me. If you take nothing else from this review, know that I love this product and I am really pleased that I picked it up. I have very few complaints about it and think that it's probably one of the better items sold by CowboyStudio. So, let's break it down, shall we?
The first thing you might notice about this item is the price. You're getting 135 sq. ft. of seamless, white vinyl for a mere $55. That's pretty tough to come by these days, and an incredible deal. The item really is seamless, and that's fantastic, coming from what was more-or-less a really wrinkly bedsheet. With a little exposure adjustment, and proper lighting, you would swear you were looking at a completely white wall in any photos you take against the background. Wrinkles only exist if you fail to smooth this out when you put it up on the frame, and with the proper preparation, you'll have a background that looks like something the pros might use!
While never having used paper, I can say that this product is pretty heavy duty and, unlike paper, isn't easily ripped or torn. Since it's vinyl, you can simply wipe marks and stains off of it with a wet rag (something you cannot do with paper or cloth). This product works a lot better on hard surfaces, but can also work on carpet. On a recent shoot with a young child, we thought it would be a great idea to sprinkle glitter and confetti on him. A simple once-over with a broom, and the vinyl came clean.
What Doesn't Work?
First off, you're going to need to add a few items to this to make it a complete package. The backdrop only comes with the backdrop. I would recommend picking up the CowboyStudio Frame and some sort of muslin clips. All of the shots that I took for this review were done with an external flash and the lights in my basement, nothing more, nothing less. You could add some sort of umbrella setup, but it's not necessary.
I would probably also list the fact that this is just a piece of vinyl as a negative. It doesn't come on any sort of stable, sturdy tube, instead arriving on a flimsy cardboard tube akin to that which holds up Christmas wrapping paper. A 9' piece of PVC would work wonders, or you can just keep clipping it to the frame. There are a lot of DIY solutions to that problem, it just requires a little googling!
I really have to recommend this product to anyone who needs a backdrop, wants to experiment with backdrop photography, or just has an extra $55 laying around. It's sturdy, heavy-duty, and absolutely solves just about every problem I had with the original cloth backdrops. I may even pick up a black colored piece, just to complete the set. Pick this bad boy up and add it to your tool set at your earliest convenience!
I'm sure anyone that follows my blog remembers this little fiasco. One of the things that I never took the chance to comment upon was the nature in which the damage occurred and the subsequent reaction from one of my (continued) favorite vendors of photography equipment, BlackRapid.
To briefly summarize, my Canon 5D was attached to my BlackRapid dual strap when it tumbled into the mud and died a cruel death. It would have been incredible easy for me to place blame on a failed product (the strap) and, in fact, my initial reaction was to tweet out that I was upset about the integrity of the strap and what happened to my fallen comrade.
BlackRapid caught wind of this tweet and asked me to contact their customer relations department and explain the story of what happened. As a real quick aside, Photographers need to understand one thing: there does not exist a company that has a better social media presence in the land of photography than BlackRapid. I've never once tweeted a mention of them and not had a response, they've helped our photo walks on numerous occasions, and they're just generally good folks to have as someone that you follow on twitter.
That being said, I obliged their account and contacted their customer relations department. I was put in contact with a real sweet gal that goes by the name of Susie. Susie read my story and immediately sprung to action with a sympathetic ear. In light of the events, I never blamed BlackRapid for the death of my camera. It was a freak accident, and nothing more. Despite that thought process, however, Susie offered to replace my strap at no cost to me. I could not stress enough to her, time and time again, that I didn't fault BlackRapid, but her persistence in assuring I was pleased with their level of response was unmatched by any company I've ever dealt with in the past. Upon jokingly asking if they had a "replacement camera program", I would not have been surprised to have her respond with a resounding "YES!" (Edit: They don't)
BlackRapid gets an A+ in my book and, because of that, I cannot recommend their products and service enough. They've really done a bang-up job in supporting me through these troubling times and their products, along with an amazing customer response team, will keep me coming back to them every time I need something new that they produce.
(Article originally posted on Attention2Tech)
It seems, as a budding photographer delves more and more into the semi-professional world, that photography equipment gets heavier and heavier. As each lens is upgraded, more weight is added to the total setup. When a camera body gets bumped to the next level of professionalism, so, too, does the weight of the camera. Because of this, camera equipment can be quite the burden to haul around, especially for the more active photographer who needs their camera always at the ready. Having easy access to the camera can be the difference between snapping a shot of "The Catch" or snapping a blurry shot of a wide receiver's shoes. What, then, exists to solve the predicament faced by many photographers? What device can support the weight of the equipment while at the same time allowing near-total free range movement for the most acrobatic shots?
Enter the Black Rapid line of R-Strap camera straps.
For the purposes of this review, we've obtained the Black Rapid RS-4 Strap. The RS-4 is Black Rapid's most simplistic strap, but don't believe for a second that the simplicity reduces the functionality of the strap. At first glance, the RS-4 appears to be just another camera strap, however it's the added bonuses that really make these straps stand out from the crowd. The RS-4 sports a 60" strap (30" from shoulder to hip on both sides) with a comfortable padded shoulder. Each strap comes with an adjustable clip to ensure the camera doesn't swing too far behind the photographer.
Along with this clip, each R-Strap comes equipped with Black Rapid's Patent Pending FastenR-3 fastener. Unlike most camera straps that merely clip, tie or weave into a specific part of the camera, the FastenR-3 fastener screws into the tripod attach point allowing the camera to spin in a full 360 degrees, providing for full range of motion for the photographer. Each FastenR-3 fastener is made of solid stainless steel, giving the fastener a strong build, and providing the photographer with a sense of safety and durability. The FastenR-3 connects to the R-Strap via the ConnectR-2 connector, giving even more range and versatility to the strap.
Not wanting to be absolutely utilitarian, the Black Rapid RS-4 Strap also provides the photographer with prolonged comfort, sporting a large, padded shoulder strap. The RS-4 shoulder pad also comes with a zippered pouch, large enough to hold a few extra memory cards, or any other small-type accessory that you might need to have with you at all times.
So, enough with the specifications, how is the RS-4 Strap in everyday, practical use? To say that this strap was a blessing would be understating just how good this strap really is. For the purposes of this shoot, the strap was attached to the tripod mount of the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L II IS USM Telephoto Zoom Lens which weighs in at just a few ounces over 3 pounds. Add to that a Canon body, possibly a battery grip, a few extra batteries and a flash, and you're looking at having around 5 to 6 pounds hanging off of your shoulder at all times. The Black Rapid RS-4 helps to distribute this weight across the shoulder, taking some of the pressure out through the accompanying shoulder pad.
During a recent shoot in the snow, I trekked that exact setup through town, walking over 3 miles in the process. Never once did my shoulder feel fatigued and stressed. In addition to the comfort, the Black Rapid RS-4 allowed me easy and quick access to my setup, while letting me know that the camera wasn't going to bounce around too much as I walked. Needing to catch a few shots rather quickly, the RS-4 presented no hinderance in getting the camera off of my hip, and up and ready-to-go.
Functionality is definitely important, but I think it's also important to note what this strap is going to do in the appearance department. Getting the camera down by your hip gives you the appearance that you might actually know what you're doing with that camera. How does it do this, you ask?
You've seen it time and time before. A guy walking down the street with his blue blocker sunglasses and safari hat, fanny pack attached firmly in front of him, and his camera draped over his neck with the packed-in strap holding it in one place. In order to take the picture, he has to grab the camera with both hands and have the strap drape itself over his chest. If he's lucky, the strap won't ride up or choke him half-to-death while he does it, but more often than not, the strap is going to give him problems.
Not so with the Black Rapid RS-4 Strap. You can keep the camera safely out of harm's way, while allowing both hands to be free of encumbrance and able to do just about anything. A flock of seagulls taking off? No problem for the RS-4 strap. Just grab the camera and the patent pending technology will bring the camera front and center, ready to take the picture, but staying out of the way of any other movement. While on my last photo walk, I was even able to use the camera with one hand, knowing that the RS-4 strap was there to hang on.
I really can't say enough good things about the Black Rapid RS-4 Strap. It's functional, while at the same time maintaining a sleek and awesome appearance. I really didn't think there could be huge differences in camera straps, but this strap is above and beyond the standard pack-in strap that comes with most cameras. Black Rapid offers a versatile line of straps to fit every photographer's needs, so chances are good that, no matter what type of photographer you are, Black Rapid has a strap for you.