Tag Archives: Gear

How a smartphone made me a better photographer

Posted by on March 4th, 2013

Google Nexus 4 Sample Photos-7

A few months ago I bought Google’s Nexus 4 smartphone. Since then, I’ve found myself picking it up more often than my DSLRs and I can honestly say it has made me a better photographer. True, the image quality doesn’t hold a candle to a camera like Canon’s 5D Mark III and the sensor noise is often downright ugly, but there is something very freeing about shooting with a smartphone that has changed the way I work. Continue reading

Hello New Friend Goodbye Old Friend

Posted by on August 21st, 2012

First, some very sad news. My B+W circular polarizer has taken a trip to filter heaven. I’d like to tell you it died protecting my lens from a motorcycle crash or falling on jagged rocks during a mountain climb, but the sad truth is that it met its end falling two feet off of my bed. Continue reading

My very dirty and abused Think Tank Multimedia Wired Up 20

Think Tank Multimedia Wired Up 20 Review: The Best Camera Bag I’ve Ever Owned

Posted by on July 8th, 2012

My very dirty and abused Think Tank Multimedia Wired Up 20

I know it sounds crazy but I’ve got an obsession with finding the perfect camera bag — or rather I had an obsession. After almost two years with Think Tank Photo’s Multimedia Wired Up 20, I think I may have found the one.

My history with camera bags starts with one of those ridiculously tiny backpacks that the clerk at Best Buy assures you is a necessary item when you buy your first SLR. That bag took me through my first assignment in Africa but not much further.

From there I upgraded to a messenger bag from Pac Safe for my travels through Europe. I liked the convenience and security but it wasn’t really meant to hold the weight of a camera body with several lenses and after a year or so I wore through the trigger clip that connected the bag to the strap.

My next bag was a canvas backpack from Adorama (an exact clone of the National Geographic Explorer Backpack but about 75% cheaper). It was great for packing all my gear and a change of clothes for an overnight trip, but really didn’t meet my needs in the field because it was hard to access quickly.

Then I moved to the Military OPS Lima shoulder bag from Nanue Pro. This bag had lots of room for all my gear and was easy to access but something about the ergonomics didn’t work for me and my first bag fell apart at the seams after a few months. That bag was replaced under Nanue Pro’s great warranty coverage but when my second bag began to disintegrate, I decided it was time for an upgrade. Continue reading

Barefoot Ken Bob Saxton at the 2011 Born to Run ultra marathon.

What barefoot runners taught me about gear

Posted by on May 3rd, 2012

Barefoot Ken Bob Saxton at the 2011 Born to Run ultra marathon.

Last year I wrote about and photographed something called the Born to Run Ultra Marathon; an event where supposedly sane people get together and run as far as 100 miles — some even attempt it without shoes. I started thinking about this ultra-minimalist approach to fitness again when I took up running last month.

Right away, actually even before I started running, I had a craving for gear. My wish list soon filled up with items like jackets, compression tops, shorts, leggings, sunglasses, hats, water bottles, iPod armbands, fanny packs, and shoes. Things I thought I “needed” before I could start running.

Fortunately, before I clicked the checkout button on Amazon, I remembered that none of that stuff really mattered. There is nothing in any sporting goods store that will allow someone to run 100 miles. Sure, some products might make you more comfortable but nothing you buy is going to transform you from a couch-potato into an ultra-marathon runner.

I can’t think of a single product available to runners than could benefit them more than getting up and going for the a run.  When it comes to fitness and creativity, we need to follow the advice of Nike and “just do it,” (which somewhat ironically would actually hurt the company’s bottom line).

The problem with gear is that sometimes we use it as an excuse to avoid hard work. Buying a new gadget feels really good and can often seem productive. But does it really make us better runners, photographers, or film makers in the end?

I don’t think so, or at least I don’t think it benefits us as much as actually getting out in the field and creating work does. You might argue that some technology changes so fast you can’t do without constant upgrades, but consider this; even my 5-year-old 40D can shoot something close to 4K time-lapse footage and scanned 4×5 film will compete with even the highest resolution cameras.

We need to stop using the pursuit of gear as an excuse not to create. The next time you consider putting off shooting or staying in bed instead of running, because you don’t have the right gear, remember there are people taking phenomenal photos with iPhones and runners logging insane distances in nothing but a pair of flimsy sandals.

I’m not saying gear is bad. It can be incredibly useful. Just don’t use it as a crutch. For now, I’m squeezing every megapixel out of my 40D until it bites the dust and racking up the miles in a pair of beat up TOMS and some bargain-bin gym shorts.

Nikon V1 J1

Gear News: New Nikons, 5D Price Drop

Posted by on September 22nd, 2011

Photo via Nikon

Nikon

First, some news via Chase “I can’t believe he actually found a way to make photography a viable business” Jarvis. Nikon is launching a new line of compact, mirrorless cameras know as the “1” series.  This is big news for those who travel and like to keep their gear light or those who like their big SLRs but occasionally want something smaller and more discrete.

The J1 and its bigger brother the V1 add to the growing market of small but capable interchangeable lens cameras. From the specs, it seems the “1” series will hold its own against the Olympus PEN as well as the Panasonic Lumix and Sony NEX series of cameras. I would have been really excited to see the “1” support the micro four thirds or four thirds lens format but Nikon decided to go in a different direction.

Still, the lenses are made by Nikon so there is little doubt they will be top-notch. Read more at Nikon’s website.

Canon

The folks over at www.canonrumors.com are reporting the legendary Canon 5D Mark II is going to drop as low as $2,000 starting in the United States on Sept. 25. This raises an interesting question: should I snag one of these cameras for a steal or save money until the 5D Mark III comes out?

Little is known about the Mark III (even the name is a guess) but the single feature that would make me forgo this Mark II deal would be a true live autofocus in video mode. This would improve the 5D body greatly and would hopefully be accompanied by an improved autofocus on the still side too.

Photo via Canon