If you don’t do anything else today please watch this from beginning to end. If you truly have a passion for the creation of images still or motion, if you believe that you can learn something every day about your passion then you must watch this.
ARE YOU VESTED? – THE LIGHT WEIGHT TROPICAL – VERY COMFORTABLE BIG POCKETS VEST FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS AND BIRDERS IN THE SUMMER
It is summer time in Washington DC and it won’t be very long before the temperatures reach into the 90’s and the humidity blesses us with 90 to 100 percent and the air will be heavy and ugly.
Okay now that I have covered the good let’s talk about the much better.
I recently wrote about the Spider Belt System that is fantastic, and the belt system addresses how to carry one or two cameras and a few accessories via their mounting system.
But what do you do about your memory cards, batteries, granola bar, bottle of water, lens cleaning stuff, and towel to wipe away the summer ugly.
The solution is easy. THE BIG POCKETS VEST.
First and most important is how extremely light weight and ventilated the vest is. For the kind of weather noted above and for all day use I have yet to find this vest uncomfortable. It handles the hot of the day and the humid of the day just so good.
Then there are the pockets. The vest is very well named. It has pockets everywhere and they are big. I can carry an Ipad tablet, my Iphone or any other phone, lenses, memory cards, batteries, wallet, lens cleaners, cable releases, a sandwich and snacks, bottles of water, etc. It has center snaps on the outside of the excellent zipper that keeps the vest from being weighted from one side or the other. Balanced. I mean you are going to love this.
What you are doing away with by wearing the vest is the bulk and weight of a backpack or camera bag. With the Spider you have gotten rid of the neck strap, and while doing all of this you have distributed your weight on your shoulders and your waist. Comfort, comfort, comfort.
Now, I would recommend buying one size larger than you normally wear. So if you wear a large get the extra large. That way if you put a 70-200mm lens in one of the mid chest zippered pockets (which I can) you will be able to zipper the vest more easily.
What is a spider really good for?
I remember when I first moved to Virginia, I encountered my first gigantic Wolf Spider. My first thought which I shall talk about was quickly superseded by my second that was what a wonderful photo op this this is. My third thought was how to capture it and my final thought was how fast it crawled up my leg.
While I am not a great fan of some spiders I really do not have anything against them.
That’s why when my partner Brian Zwit told me he wears a spider and knowing that Brian only had a Parsons Jack Russel, I found it necessary to question him about his pet spider that he carried around with him.
Of course it all made sense when he showed me his Spider. His Spider is so strong that it can carry a Nikon D800 and 70-200mm lens without even breathing heavy.
This is not a picture of Brian. It is however a picture of someone else wearing a single camera Spider belt. It has a pretty fail proof locking mechanism but at the same time gives a very quick release to the gear being carried. The nice part is that it takes the stress of your neck, back and shoulders and allows you to keep your hands free until you need to grab the camera and quickly start shooting so you don’t miss that once in a lifetime shot. What I like most of all is that it lets me have my hands free when hiking or walking the streets.
It doesn’t end there how ever. There are several versions of this terrific carry system. There is the Spider Pro for one camera, or two cameras, and you can either use their belt or the Think Tank belt, Lowepro Belt, or the belt that holds your pants up.
You can also use your existing Arca Swiss mounting system or your Manfrotto mounting system because they have adapters that let you do that. That means you can go from your belt to a tripod or monopod when necessary.
Then there is the Black Widow Belt. This is for lighter weight cameras like mine, the Fuji X-e1. It carries one or possibly two cameras and accessory like a flash. You can also use the above mounting accessories just like the bigger Pro belt.
I use the Black Widow. It is difficult to explain just how comfortable the belt is. It has an amazing waist size adjustment that fastens with a big, big chunk of Velcro. So whether you are thin or not so thin this is going to fit you. I actually carry a Fuji X-e1, 55-200 zoom, Exposure meter, and a flash. Every once in a while I’ll attach the really small Gopro Hero 3 Black video camera. I can put all of that on the belt and an 18-55 lens on my pocket and I am more than set for whatever I encounter. Life is good.
I guess the two best things are the comfort and the at the ready camera gear. Then next thing are my free hands. With hands free I can grab things, guide my self up and down a hill by holding on to trees, run down the street and not worry about a camera bouncing all over the place. I actually wear it while I’m driving.
That is what the SPIDER BELT SYSTEM is good for!
I am including some videos at the end of this so why not take a look.
First Test of Fuji 55-200 on XE1 body at 200 iso.
MY DECISION TO PURCHASE A GLIDECAM PRODUCT WAS BASED ON THE QUALITY AND PERCISION OF THEIR STABILIZER – AND BECAUSE OF THEIR IMPECABLE CUSTOMER SERVICE AND CONCERN
Should You Factor In How Good A Company’s Consumer Service Is Before Making A Purchase Decision? Yes you should.
There are a lot of excellent products in the market that are more than capable of fulfilling our needs as photographers. When we make decisions we take the time to look at all the features, the comfort factor, and the benefits.
However, one of the most important things that we should consider but usually do not is how good the support is from the company who manufactured the product and from who ever the retailer your are going to purchase from.
Can you depend upon the manufacturer to own up to a problem and not take you in circles to resolve the problem? If you cannot then you should consider not buying products from that company because using their products could impact the quality of your very important photographs and videos.
While I am not a whistle-blower, I think it is important that with my many years in the photography equipment business and as person who is called upon for purchasing advice almost every day, that I report the good and the bad when I think it may cause some serious adverse effects for someone’s important purchase.
I have been working with video for the past few months and trying to learn those things that will help others take decent video. One type of product that I have been working with is a stabilizer. See definition according to Wiki.
“What these devices do, once you calibrate them for your particular gear is give the Hollywood look of smoothness to your clips. A stabilizer essentially combines the stabilized steady footage of a conventional tripod mount with the fluid motion of a dolly shot and the flexibility of hand-held camera work. While smoothly following the operator’s broad movements, the stabilizer’s gimbal absorbs jerks, bumps, and shakes by isolating the videographer from the camera itself.”
While there are many on the market the best known and most popular are the Steadicam by Tiffen – made in Taiwan and the Glidecam by Glidecam – made in the United States.
I opted to try the lightweight units from each company. The Steadicam Merlin 2 and the Glidecam hd-1000. This however is not a review of these two products. A review will follow in few weeks and for those interested in having very smooth video footage, without the bouncing and drifting we often see. I say a few weeks because I am new to these devices and learning to balance them and walk with them does have a small but important learning curve.
While this in not a review of the products themselves it is a review as to how each company worked with me to resolve some issues that happened to arise for both products. They are different issues, but nonetheless, issues.
The Tiffin Steadicam ($600.00) after a few hours of use developed a broken lock mechanism, which is essential for holding the camera mounting plate on top of the device. This rendered the device unusable. While the unit at first appears to be well made, the lock mechanism uses plastic parts, which did not hold up. It also gives me an uncomfortable feeling about what else might fall apart.
The Glidecam HD-1000) ($368.00), while balanced, would drift when pivoted on the gimbal pole throwing the balance off. In order to correct the problem, which could be done by a user, it involved making adjustments that I was not prepared to make on my own. The reason is that my hands are not made for delicate adjustment work and my tri-focals are simply not great for that kind of work. The percentage of manufactured units that could be delivered with this issue is less than 1%. I just happened to be in that minute amount.
I emailed Tiffen about the lock problem and there tardy response was a meager one. They told me that the mechanism had 8 parts. (I did not see 8 parts.) They asked if the screw and bolt holding the lock lever was loose. It was not. They said if it could not be tightened or did not need to be tightened then it would have to be sent for repair at their factory. The factory is in Taiwan. I wrote back and said that this was a brand new product, two weeks old and that it would be nice if they would simply swap out the whole mounting plate and mechanism. I heard back from them and they said I could purchase a new plate and mechanism for $85.00 at B&H and that I must have done something to the original part. Believe me, I did nothing but use it in the correct manner as described in their instructions. This was via a phone call I had to make. They were not willing to work with me on this problem, which was really their problem.
Glidecam responded to my email in about 15 minutes and asked if I wanted them to help walk through the procedure of fine-tuning the gimbal and I explained that I would prefer not to. They understood. Remember nothing was broken, and only an adjustment needed to be made to my two-week old purchase, which someone with a bit more finger dexterity could have done in 10 minutes. I also had other questions about the Glidecam HD-1000, which I had detailed in my email to them. A very nice lady named Cheryl responded back and told me that she had turned over my information to Mr. Tom Howie who is VP of sales at Glidecam.
In less than an hour I had a phone call from Tom and we arranged via their UPS number to send the unit in for adjustment for a quick turn around. He then proceeded to go over the questions I had asked in my email and answered each one of them in a very polite and knowledgeable way and actually saved me several hundreds of dollars, by convincing me that I did not need to make additional accessory purchases from them.
I hope you are getting the gist of all of this.
It is about customer service. Each product like everything else has pluses and minuses and each product will fill someone’s needs. Could I have used either one and been happy. Maybe. But in the end the one that I shall keep and recommend will be the Glidecam because the customer service was simply outstanding as is the product itself.
I ultimately would have decided on the Glidecam anyway because I think the design is better and the quality of materials is better. It will stay in balance after adjustments far longer than the Steadicam Merlin 2. By the way the Steadicam also has gimbal adjustments, which I can tell you if you have large or pudgy fingers will prove to be a nightmare. The Glidecam gimbal would be easier to adjust but arthritis in my fingers would make it too difficult for me. They understood that.
I hope I have been able to enlighten you about one company’s very poor customer service vs. another companies above and beyond service. Then I know you will avoid Tiffen company products overall. I am not angry with Tiffen but I am disappointed. Of course that decision is ultimately yours.
What it all boils down to is you are buying customer service along with the product and you should be taking a company’s commitment to customer service or lack of into consideration when making a final decision about what to buy and where.
Youtube setting up a Glidecam part one
I went to the Tiffen page on Facebook and told about my disappointment in their customer service and who I dealt with.
It was not long before someone from Tiffen via Facebook apologized and said I should call certain people and they would arrange for a free replacement, under warranty of the defective Doveplate and locking mechanism.
Unfortunately, with freight charges I had spent 121.00 dollars at B&H on line to get the broken part because it seemed that Tiffen was not going to help. I guess as the old saying goes “better late than never”. Well the old saying is wrong. It would have been better to take care of the customer quickly and politely in a fair and correct manner. They did not. So now if I put it all together the Merlin 2 from Tiffen wound up costing me $721.00 plus time lost.
I am not telling you to avoid Tiffen and their products. But based on their performance in regards to customers with defective brand new products I would think twice about doing business with them. This of course is my opinion. But I am shelving their Merlin 2 Stabilizer and using the much better Glidecam HD1000 which has turned out to be a better product overall.
If you need a video stabilizer go with Glidecam. It is a superior product which goes along with their superior service.
BLUE RIDGE WORKSHOPS PHOTOGRAPHY EDUCATORS AT WORK
Camera Raw 8.1 is an updated Camera Raw plugin for Photoshop CS6 and contains new camera file formats but does not contain any of the new functionality, e.g., the upgrades to the healing brush, of Lightroom 5 and Photoshop CC.
Are the new features of Lightroom 5 worth the upgrade price of $79? In light of the relatively low upgrade price, I say yes for three reasons:
- Smart Previews: Prior to Lightroom 5, an image had to be accessible to Lightroom before you could edit it, e.g. if the image was stored on an external hard drive, that drive had to be connected to the computer first. Now, if you create smart previews for images that will be stored offline, you can edit the images in Lightroom at any time and, when the hard drive or other device on which the images are stored is later connected to the computer, Lightroom will automatically update the images. This means that you can virtually carry more images with you even if your laptop has a small hard drive.
- Healing Brush: Unlike the healing brush in earlier versions, the healing brush in Lightroom 5 can now be used to remove lines and irregular shapes. Previously, the healing brush was limited to “spotting.”
- Upright: Upright will automatically straighten vertical and horizontal lines in your images. While you can do this in Lightroom 4, this is a step beyond what was possible before and can really improve your images.
Also, Adobe will not be issuing any more updates to Lightroom 4, which means any bugs in Lightroom 4 won’t be fixed and new cameras won’t be natively supported in Lightroom 4. This is reason enough to pay the upgrade fee.
The words and concepts inherent in digital photography, such as pixel, RGB, color space, layer, jpg, tiff, and others, can distract us from what is really important—the content of our images. However, to get the best images, we need to know and understand some key concepts and those key concepts will be the subject of this series of articles over the next several months.
The very building block of an image—a pixel—is, perhaps one of the most important concepts in digital photography as well as easiest to understand. Without pixels, there would be no image.
The definition of pixel is simple: It is the smallest, non-divisible element of an image with a specific color value. The word is a contraction of picture, i.e., “pix” and element, i.e., “el.” To form an image, pixels are arranged in a two-dimensional grid of columns and rows. See Image 1. Because the individual pixels are too small to see, our mind blurs the millions of pixels in an image together to give us the impression of an uninterrupted flow of color and tones.
In addition to being non-divisible, a pixel can only have one color at any point in time. In other words, the entire pixel is either burnt orange or sky blue but it cannot be half burnt orange and half blue sky. The color of a pixel may change when you process the file from the camera. Depending on the adjustments made to the image, some pixels may become brighter, some darker, some more saturated, etc.
Generally, photographers specify a color using the RGB additive color model, which describes all the colors as a combination of three primary colors: Red, green, and blue. By varying the amount of red, green, and blue in each pixel, you can literally describe trillions of different colors. For example, the dark green of Image 2 would be described as 25, 100, 25 in the RGB color model.
You may see other color models used from time to time as well. For example, you can describe the same color green in the HSB (hue, saturation, and brightness) color model as 120 degrees, 75%, and 39% or, as it is usually written, simply 120, 75, 29 and in the CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) color model as 86, 35, 100, 29. However, don’t be confused. They all describe the same green color; they simply describe the same color differently. It is like saying hello in German, French, and English-the meaning is the same regardless of the language it is expressed in.
In addition to specifying a color model, you must also specify a color space for an image. While I will discuss color spaces in more detail next week, a color space is a specific implementation of a color model and defines exactly what “red” or any other color in that color space looks like by referencing a standard set of colors. This means that a red will always be the same red in every image and, if properly converted from one color space to another, in any color space . The universal color space is sRGB but you are likely to also see Adobe RGB and ProPhoto RGB when editing images.
Finally, the word pixel, however, has different meanings in different contexts. So, be careful how you use the word. For example, the pixels on a LCD display are different from the pixels in a digital camera and those are different from the pixels in an image. The first is generally composed of three separate subpixels, one red, one green, and one blue; the second is a photosite and, most sensors, measures only the red, green, or blue light striking it.
The important points are: (1) pixels are the smallest element of an image, (2) a pixel is one color, and (3) the color of a pixel is expressed using a color model and a color space. Next week, I will be discussing color spaces in greater detail.
IT WAS A DARK DAY IN CHICAGO WHEN THE CORPORATE BLADES OF THE DARK MR. K N I G H T, The news papers big “Boss.” stabbed professional photo journalists deep in their hearts. This is not the first news paper he has done this at. Very very sad.
Read the article and watch the video.
The photographers have left the building