9 Carry On Friendly Photo and Video Accessories for Holiday Plane Travel

9 Carry On Friendly Photo and Video Accessories for Holiday Plane Travel

Plane travel can be a source of anxiety for photographers. Checking bags isn’t safe for most gear and being able to skip the baggage claim carousels is always a bonus anyway – especially around the holidays. There are a lot of small items to shoot with, including high-quality mirrorless cameras, tiny lenses, and small flash gear. However, it is sometimes hard to skimp on support systems, lighting, and storage in order to save space. Rolling bags, tripods, and light stands all tend to be a pain to try and take on a plane. Here are 9 items that you should be able to take on board with you without having to sacrifice your shooting needs. I say “should” because the TSA is a fickle fish – what flies at one airport may not fly at another and, as always, different carriers will be more strict than others. These are my personal favorite items that I have air traveled with for trade shows, overseas vacations, and for smaller gigs without incident (so far!) on both large airliners and regional jets. AlienBees LS1100 Backlight Stand   This little light stand fits into almost any bag – collapsed it is under a foot and a half and extends up to 3 feet. Don’t pack this for lighting portraits of basketball players but for family get-togethers (especially if everyone is sitting around the couch) it is perfect. Think Tank Airport International V2.0 Rolling Camera Bag  This bag is specifically designed to adhere to TSA standards. It combines the soft give of a fabric body (good for inevitable overstuffing) with the protection of a hard...
First Impressions and Sample Photos from the Panasonic GX7 Micro Four Thirds Mirrorless Camera

First Impressions and Sample Photos from the Panasonic GX7 Micro Four Thirds Mirrorless Camera

Panasonic’s GX7 boasts in-body stabilization, up to 40 FPS using an electronic shutter, and Light Speed AF all inside a super stylish design with a comfortable rubber grip. One of BL’s biggest micro four thirds enthusiasts took it out for a spin – check out the results below, along with some personal observations on performance and features. First, the facts: • Sensor: 16.84MP Micro Four Thirds (2x Crop) MOS Sensor • File Format: JPEG, MPO, RAW • Video: 1080p HD • ISO Range: 200-25600 (Extended Mode: 125-25600) • AF Points: 23 • Ports: USB 2.0 • Flash: Hot Shoe, Built-In • FPS: Up to 10 (except when using the electronic shutter feature for 40 FPS) • Live View • WiFi • Weight: 14.18oz Other notable features include an impressive action-stopping 1/8000th of a second shutter ability and flash syncing at 1/320th of a second and a DSLR-esque twin-dial control system. The fully 90 degree tilting viewfinder is also a welcome feature. Manual focus is super easy with the GX7. You can touch the area on the screen where you want to zoom in for manual focus assist. There’s peaking as well. The touch screen is capacitive (responds to your touch). Besides the ability to change key settings while shooting, you can review images by swiping through them with the flick of a finger. As mentioned above, the GX7 has this crazy 40 FPS mode when using the electronic shutter. However, to use it you are limited to reduced-resolution JPEGs but it’s still a fun option to have. As silly as it may look, tilting the EVF to point the...
Nikon D610 Review with Sample Images

Nikon D610 Review with Sample Images

Court Leve, a well-known and respected photographer in Northern California, reviews Nikon’s D610 DSLR. Find out how it compares not only to its immediate predecessor, the D600, but also to the D800, D300s, D700, and D3s. The D600 was famously fraught with controversy surrounding its oil and dust build-up issues and many believe the D610 is a smoke n mirrors release put in place to prevent a formal D600 recall. Find out if the D610 is a true upgrade or merely a less expensive substitute for other full frames on the market. Nikon D610 Review with Sample Images by Court Leve Nikon’s D610 is an updated version of their D600 and includes a couple of internal improvements: • Increase in frame rate from 5.5 to 6 FPS • Installation of an improved shutter mechanism, replacing the version on the D600 that apparently was the point of much contention with regards to oil or dust on the sensor. To any Nikon DSLR shooter, the D610 will feel familiar and I was able to get it up and running without referring to the manual. The dials, buttons, and menus are all easy to navigate, are intuitive, and clearly marked. Here is how it compares to other Nikon cameras: • The D610 is considerably smaller than a D800 and a touch smaller than the D300s. • The shutter is notably quieter on the D610 compared to the D3s, D700, and D800. • Controls are the same as on other D-series cameras with the exception of the center button on playback. Instead of being able to zoom in quickly for a more detailed view, it toggles to...
10 Great Outdoor Photography Gifts Under $100

10 Great Outdoor Photography Gifts Under $100

Marc Muench, Andy Williams, and David Rosenthal are passionate about photography and teaching. They host workshops all over the world specializing in wildlife and landscape photography. They put together a list of 10 great photography gifts under $100 (and we’re smitten to be included in that list)! 10 Great Photography Gifts Under $100 reprinted with permission by Muench Workshops It’s the gift-giving time of year, so we thought we’d put together a list of some of the coolest photo gifts for the outdoor photographer that you can give or put on your own list for Santa Claus or Hanukkah Harry! We don’t receive anything for recommending these items, we use them ourselves and love them enough to recommend them to you and your friends. Share this post with the spouse, significant other, or family members of your photography friends – they’ll be very grateful! Enjoy (gift-giving) photography, – Andy, Marc, & Dave Neos Overshoes – A great invention, these super light waterproof overshoes go over your boots and keep you dry and toasty warm even when standing nearly knee-deep in icy water. Lenscoat Raincoat – A must-have for the outdoor photographer. We love the weather protection this little sleeve gives when caught out in the rain. The medium size will handle most DSLRs and medium lenses (up to 200mm). BlackRapid Camera Strap – We love the comfort and strength of these straps when we’re carrying our cameras. Try the “Classic” for most DSLRs and the “Metro” for smaller cameras such as mirrorless systems. SmugMug Photo Website – If your photographer doesn’t have their photos online, give them a stunning photo website on SmugMug. Start...
8 Detailed 80 Megapixel Phase One Medium Format Example Images

8 Detailed 80 Megapixel Phase One Medium Format Example Images

As promised in our What to Know When Renting the Hasselblad H4X Medium Format Camera post, we’ve put together a few example images from our latest 80MP addition to our Medium Format inventory. The Hasselblad H4X and the 80MP Phase One Digital Back is a powerful combination. Hasselblad full frame, bright, and clear viewfinder makes composition and focusing easier – not to mention Hasselblad’s True Focus feature, which allows you to recompose your camera position while maintaining a predetermined focus point. RAW files are about 80MB (10328 x 7760) each. For comparison, the D800’s considerably hefty 36MP produces 40-45MB RAW files (7360 x 4912). They are in Intelligent Image Quality format which is completely lossless and can be read with Capture One. They can be processed into a 16 bit TIFF, though they will only end up being half the size of the traditional RAW. The 3.2″ LCD has a 170 degree viewing angle, gradations in 16 million different shades, and 1.15MP resolution at 290ppi. Image Examples All of the following images are resized in order to fit onto the blog and also edited. Provided are also image closeups. You can download (zipped, around 815MB) all of the RAW, completely unedited files for pixel peeping purposes and to test drive the settings in Capture One. Included are the RAW files of any comparison shots done with other cameras and the edited JPGs. Do NOT use these images for anything other than personal education. Below are the basic stats of our Hasselblad H4X with the Phase One IQ280 Digital Back. Experience it for yourself, for your commercial clients, and for your portfolio.  ...
Four 35mm Lenses Compared for Night Sky Photography

Four 35mm Lenses Compared for Night Sky Photography

In The Best Lenses for Night Photography, night sky specialist David Kingham recommended Rokinon lenses due to their lack of coma and low purchase/rental price. He has compared the Rokinon 35mm f/1.4 with the recently-released Sigma 35mm f/1.4, along with the Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 and the Nikon 35mm f/1.4. See which one rises to the top! The Best 35mm for Night Photography by David Kingham  Here’s the lineup: Nikon 35mm f/1.4 Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Rokinon 35mm f/1.4 Keep in mind that this test is for a specific style of night photography that captures the stars as points of light. This requires wide open apertures and high ISOs. You can see more of this style of night photography in my Nightscapes gallery. Coma Coma is an aberration that can make stars look more like streaks at the edge of the frame when shot wide open. I was surprised to find that all of these lenses performed very well as far as preventing coma goes. Rokinon 14 and 24mm lenses blow away their Nikon and Canon equivalents but at 35mms it’s a different story. The Nikon actually performed the best, followed by the Sigma. The Zeiss performed the worst and the Rokinon in between. None of them performed poorly in this area, though, so I wouldn’t base your buying/rental decision on this alone. Sharpness I was surprised by the lack of sharpness from the Zeiss in the center of the frame. Oddly, it’s sharper on the edges than the center. Based on this alone I can’t recommend the Zeiss for night photography. Overall the Sigma had the best sharpness, followed closely by the Rokinon. Vignetting There was not...