Let’s be honest with ourselves. We don’t always need to bring four or five lenses, two camera bodies, and a portable lighting studio with us every time we leave the house. Sometimes it makes sense to own a lightweight secondary grab-and-go day pack that offers more than just camera storage. In this article I take a look at the Mountainsmith Spectrum, a $90 split-use backpack that’s ready to rock.
Fstoppers Gear Reviews
A good camera strap is something that a lot of people don't find important until they actually try a good camera strap. I have found that getting the camera off of my neck and onto my shoulders to make a world of difference while shooting and especially the day after shooting. This becomes even more important when you are dealing with the added weight of carrying dual cameras. Enter the Clydesdale Pro-DLX from RL Handcrafts.
I have always preferred simplicity when it comes to lighting portraits. When connecting with a model or subject, especially when working without assistants, I hate having to deal with several lights or various flags, cutters, and bounce cards. This way I can work the camera and move around without having to worry about tripping over my whole setup, and my subject feels more comfortable without obtrusive equipment crowding them. Also, if the model can move around a little, I feel that I can get far more natural poses when they aren't confined by specific lighting. My favorite lighting tool to "keep it simple" with is the Westcott 7-foot Parabolic Umbrella.
As a former standard zoom lens user, I noticed that 28mm was one of my most preferred focal lengths according to the metadata in my image catalog. Seeing this choice that I've made subconsciously, as well as the obvious advantages of using primes, I finally decided to switch all my zoom lenses with primes. The Nikon AF-S 28mm f/1.8G was my final choice for a wide-angle prime. So far, it looks like I've made a good decision.
Hard drives are cool again. What used to be just a repository for data has evolved into a multifunctional device that can store data, back up your memory cards in the field without a computer, charge your phone, and even act as a Wi-Fi hotspot. The Western Digital My Passport Wireless Pro can do all those things, making it an intriguing option for those of us who desire portability and capability in one device.
There are all kinds of things designed to make the job of carrying around camera gear easier: bags, hard cases, totes, rollers, etc. But there's something we always have with us (I hope): our clothing. SCOTTeVEST took note of this and created the Revolution jacket, designed specifically with photographers in mind.
The world's fastest zoom lens for 35mm full frame cameras is the Sigma 24-35mm f/2, and it's one way to follow up from making the world's fastest zoom for APS-C. Sigma has been making hit after hit for a few years now, leaving their "budget" lens brand stigma in the dust behind them. Having a 24-35mm may seem like an odd focal-length range that wouldn't be too useful, but I have found it to be an excellent range for a lot of the work I do in editorial and family portraiture. Let's start with just how it fits in my camera bag.
Earlier this year, Pentax released the K-1, its first foray into the digital full-frame market and a camera surrounded by a healthy dose of excitement and intrigue. I've had the chance to use it and some of the new system lenses for the past month. It's a fun and highly capable system that could be just the ticket for many photographers.
I’m a huge fan of gimbal stabilizers, and absolutely love how easy it is to get dreamy, floating footage with these relatively inexpensive accessories. A lot of attention has been on products like the MoVi and Ronin, but other manufacturers have stepped up their game and are making products that are just as competitive in terms of features and price. One such item is the Moza Lite II, which I’ve been reviewing for the last few weeks.
The iconic AlienBee has been one of the most popular strobe units ever since their debut in 2001, and for good reason. Developed to be the perfect balance of price and quality (which is something that's tricky to pull off in the world of gear) their reputation spread quickly. Sure, you can always spend many, many, many thousands of dollars on studio lights in order attain top quality equipment, but it's never been easy purchasing a strobe rig when more restrained budgets are a concern. Enter Paul C. Buff.
Sometimes being a "creative" really sucks. But it's also the best thing to be in the entire world. But did I mention it can suck? Well if you feel like you're in a rut, then watch this preview, and prepare to be inspired. Today, Musicbed released their feature-length documentary, "Make," which explores why creatives continue, well, creating.
We spend thousands of dollars on the best cameras and lenses, but we often forget about the smaller accessories that come between us and our subject. Switching out your eyepiece for something better is an extremely underrated and cheap improvement you can make, and from special coatings to magnifiers, you actually have a few more options than you may have known.
As photographers, we have a never-ending, ever-perpetuating growth of photos piling up on our hard drives. Inevitably, whether that work is professional or personal, our photos end up taking space on cloud storage accounts that we keep upgrading whenever we reach the limit. But what if you could cut the size of these files in half without losing any visible quality? You could save a lot of headache, not to mention, money.
Hasselblad is touring the country (and the world) with prototypes of the new 50-megapixel X1D camera and the two lenses launching alongside it. Priced way below any other Hasselblad on the market (and in line with Pentax’s 645Z), the X1D ushers in unparalleled portability while creating a entirely new segment: the medium format mirrorless camera. Earlier this week, I got a few minutes with this interesting hybrid.
Pelican cases have long been an industry standard for top-of-the-line protection of cameras, lenses, lights, hard drives, and all other forms of fragile video or photo gear. Their new “Air” line of cases bring that same protection, but at a lower weight. I got to try the Pelican 1535 Air out and see how it performed on a travel video job.
There’s no question that if Sony wants their mirrorless system cameras to succeed, they must be supported with a vast and varied collection of lenses. Today they unveiled the FE 50mm f/1.4 ZA lens, a large aperture prime lens utilizing a Planar design that will soon be found in portrait, wedding, and street photographers’ bags. I was lucky enough to be one of the first people to see and use this lens for a day’s worth of shooting, so take a look at some sample images and my first impressions.
Today Sony finally announced pricing and shipping times for their upcoming release of the FE 70-200mm f/2.8 G Master OSS lens and teleconverters. First introduced in early February alongside the FE 85mm f/1.4 GM and FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM lenses, the 70-200mm GM will be shipping in July and cost $2,600. The 1.4x and 2.0x teleconverters designed to exclusively fit the new 70-200mm GM will each cost $500 and ship in July as well. Sony allowed me to use one of the first retail production models off the assembly line and share my images with you, so let’s dive into sample images and my thoughts on how it stacks up.
Over the past few weeks I have been touting the Sony a6300's video performance. This past week I decided to take the camera to the Mid Ohio Sports Car Course to film a track day. Oddly I ended up not using the auto focus, as the fences were proving to be a challenge with adapted EF mount Sigma lenses. On native lenses like the 70-200mm f/4 or the 70-300 f/4-5.6, this likely wouldn't have been an issue. Aside from that, the camera continued to impress me and exceeded my expectations.
KitSplit offers more than its already unique combination of a peer-to-peer gear rental platform with a traditional store-to-shooter online storefront that allows renters to compare all possible options. Can’t find the gear you need? KitSplit’s customer service will source it and find a way to get it on the site for you to rent. Too daunting or taxing on your schedule to list your gear yourself? Send KitSplit a gear list, and they’ll list it for you. You can set the prices or let them recommend that part based on availability and prices in your area. KitSplit brings full-service treatment to the business of connecting people with the gear they need.
It's all in the details. Adding elements like wind is a great option to add more life and emotion into your photographs. Studio photography and natural light photography can be very different genres. In the studio, you’re in total control of your environment and surroundings, and having an industrial fan that plugs into a wall is pretty standard in most studios. Unfortunately with natural light, you’re at the mercy of Mother Nature. But that’s OK; with this inexpensive tool you will add a little “studio flair” to your natural light portraits.
Tripods are an essential piece of equipment for most photographers. They steady your camera in order to capture the sharpest details, allow you to take exposures with long shutter speeds, make it easier to take multiple images of the same scene for composites, and help create those perfect panoramas. Like most photography equipment though, there are low end tripods and high end tripods. The offerings from Novoflex is on the high end of this spectrum with some really cool features.
The Neewer Flat Panel Reflector is a great tool designed for those looking for the benefit of something such as a V-flat or large reflector frame without the bulk of having to haul them around. The Neewer Flat Panel Reflector is basically a 3 foot by 6 foot wind sail that you can use as reflector or flag during virtually any shoot. At $69.99 the Flat Panel Reflector offers fantastic value for an innovative new light modifier to add to your arsenal.
A camera bag can really make or break your work. I'm one of those people who is terrible at packing light, so when it comes to carrying 50 pounds of gear, I want a bag to be well organized, comfortable, ergonomic, and durable, because I pretty much place my studio on my back. Enter the Mountainsmith Borealis.
Sharing your images on the web from point A to point B, in this case, from your desktop to Instagram, can be quite a hassle. You have to make a separate folder in your Dropbox, email it, or send it to yourself (there are a variety of ways), and clog up a bunch of storage on your phone. Yes, I know there several back door methods that have been discussed prior on this issue, and while Instagram has not yet made a plunge into the desktop world, we'll have to make do until then. But in the mean time, I came across this super user-friendly, free Lightroom plug-in that solidifies a solution!
Last year I shared my method of how I export my photos for sharing with clients and social media without losing quality. While that method is proven, it was always still a pain to share a separate file for full resolution, not to mention that full resolution photos can push 20 MB a piece. Thankfully, I was introduced to an app that overcomes all of this.
I am going to be completely up front with you: this is an expensive camera bag. It is, in fact, the most expensive camera bag I have ever owned, and I have owned many. Instead of buying this bag, you could easily purchase a very solid prime lens. But you know the old saying "you get what you pay for"? Well sometimes that turns out to be 100 percent true.
When I sat down to read the copy of Picture Perfect Lighting by Roberto Valenzuela my first expectation was a book that parroted much of the same content that many other photography books had already laid out many times in the past. Basic lighting tips, the exposure triangle; the usual sorts of stuff that you'd expect from a typical book on photography. To my surprise, however, Picture Perfect Lighting offers a delightfully unique glimpse into lighting that can help beginners and veterans alike.