Category Archives Photo Gear

A big part of the fun and excitement of going to photography conferences is finding the newest and coolest gear on the expo floor! If you weren’t able to make it to WPPI 2013 in Las Vegas this week, the Kelby Training team has you covered with video features of some of the latest gear they discovered at the expo. Here are just a few of the videos, and you can find more at the Kelby Media Group YouTube channel.

Nikon D7100 & Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G

TetherTools TabStrap and Look Lock

HurleyProGear Medusa LED

SpinLight 360

Westcott Rapid Box

Hi gang: I thought I’d do a quick video (above) for you all here on the blog that takes you through the step-by-step process of setting up a wireless remote camera — ideal for sports, for weddings, or anywhere where you can’t get a camera, or can’t be at two places at once.

If you have any questions that I didn’t cover in the short video above, just post ’em here and I’ll do my best to answer them, once I’m awake and have a cup of coffee or three. Cheers, and hope you have a great kick-off to your week.

— Scott

Our buddy, lifestyle photographer Erik Valind, was in town taping a class for Kelby Training Online and I snagged him as my in-studio Guest for a special “Holiday Gifts for Photographers” episode of “The Grid” (our weekly talkshow for photographers).

These are an entirely different collection of gifts from my “Gonzo Gear Guide” that I published here on Monday — these are all entirely new, awesome, super useful (and mostly inexpensive) yet totally cool gear for the photographer on your Holiday Gift List (except Erik apparently has the holiday gift budget of a neurosurgeon but I will say, even though some of his suggestions cost a bit more, he picked some really great values, including a lens deal that really surprised me).

You can watch our Gift Guide for Photographer episode above. Happy shopping everybody! :)

Welcome to my "7th Annual Awesome Holiday Gear Guide." I think what has made this guide extra awesome the past couple of years is that I've really tried to focus on choosing great value-for-the-money gear. As always, this year's gear guide is packed with some really cool stuff that we absolutely, positively don't need on any level, but we desperately want because that is, after all, half the fun!

The only thing better than actually buying cool gear for someone you love is having someone you love buy you cool gear (kiddingâ”kind of). So, without further ado (that's rightâ”everything up to this point was "ado"), here's this year's collection of really cool, handpicked gift ideas. (Remember my motto: It's perfectly acceptable to buy gifts for yourself if it has lots of buttons or any kind of LCD screen.)


These are my self-imposed guidelines for which products make it into the guide. It's just two rules actually. To be listed here they have to be:

  1. Products that I use myself and that I absolutely love, and now can't live without (well, I could live without them, but I just wouldn't want to).
  2. If a product makes the guide, it has to be one I would recommend to a close friend without hesitation, especially if my friend was a rich doctor (kidding).

A Large Print of One of Your Images

Giving a large print of one of your favorite images is a very personal gift, and you don't even have to have your own printer to do it. I use a lot around the holidays for this very reason. I upload an image, choose a matt, plus a simple black metal frame with clear glass, and they ship it directly to the person on my gift list. Same thing with If you want to send someone a canvas print, they kick butt at it, and people lose their minds when they receive either a framed print or a canvas. You can buy gift codes from Mpix so the photographer on your list can choose to have her own image printed and framed or mounted just the way she wants.

Artistic Photo Canvas


Snapseed from Nik Software

This is one of the most clever, fun, and powerful photo-editing programs ever for iOS (for iPad and iPhone), and there's even a Mac and Windows desktop version. If you want to give it as a gift, you can "gift" an app directly from the iTunes Store. Snapseed is only $4.99 for the iOS version and $19.99 for the desktop version, which honestly is way underpriced.

Snapseed by Nik Software

iOS: $4.99
Desktop: $19.99


Moo Cards

Moo makes business cards, but what makes them really unique is that you can upload 50 images and they'll put one image on each card. So when someone asks for your business card, you can basically fan out your portfolio and say, "Choose whichever one you like." The quality is excellent and they're surprisingly affordable. Perfect for designers, photographers, and illustrators. They'll dig it.

Moo Cards

Price: Starting at $19.99 for 50 cards


A Blurb Photo Book

Even though custom photo books are becoming a big thing these days, there's a darn good chance the photographer on your holiday gift list hasn't made one yet. If she uses Lightroom (and she almost undoubtedly does), then she can choose her photos, click on the Book module, create a custom book right within Lightroom, and upload it directly to In a few days a beautiful photo book arrives (well, as long as she takes beautiful photos), and you just pick up the cost of the book. She'll be hooked once the book arrives, and you'll be a hero.

Blurb Books - Order by Dec 16 and save 25% off your order by using the discount code KLBYVID456

Offer valid through December 16, 2012 (11:59 p.m. local time). A %25 discount is applied toward your product total. Valid for printed books only. This offer is good for one-time use, and cannot be combined with volume discounts, other promotional codes, gift cards, or used for adjustments on previous orders.

Price: Starting at $12.59 for a 20-page, 7×7″, softcover book on premium lustre paper


SmugMug Pro Business Account

If the photographer on your gift list wants a way to showcase and sell his images online, he would totally love a SmugMug Pro Business account, which lets him do both without having to have any Web design skills. Really well designed, but it's a tad pricy. Well, pricier than last year anyway since they just raised their annual rates, but you'll be a holiday hero for it.

SmugMug Pro

Price: $35/month or $300/year


Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX DG Diagonal Fisheye Lens

It's not a lens you use every day, but when you use it, it really has impact. If the photographer on your list shoots sports, weddings, or travel, she will be psyched to see this super wide-angle fisheye lens with a red bow around it. Plus, it's significantly cheaper than the Nikon or Canon fisheyes, but it's sharp and works great.

Sigma 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye Lens

Price: $830


Lexar Professional 1000x UDMA 7 CompactFlash Cards

If you have a sports shooter on your list, there are two things you can count on: (1) The faster the speed of the memory card, the happier he is (for numerous reasons he already knows), and (2) he needs more memory cards. The new Lexar Professional 1000x cards are screaming fast (it's what I use). Full disclosure: I'm one of Lexar's "Elite Photographers," so I might be biased, but I had Lexar cards even before that and, either way, for sports I'd still be using their 1000x speed cards.

Lexar 1000x UDMA 7 CF Cards

Price: Starting at $78 for 16-GB card (at B&H with Instant Savings deal until Dec. 31st).


Wacom Intuos5 touch Pen Tablet

Want to really score some points? Get your designer or photographer the new Wacom Intuos5 touch wireless tablet. They're amazing and they'll change the way he works in Photoshop forever (and he'll think of you every time he picks up the wireless pen). I use the Intuos5 touch Small when I travel (it slides right into my laptop bag), and the Intuos5 touch Medium in the studio. This is a can't-miss gift!

Wacom Inutos5 touch Tablets

Price: Smallâ”$229; Mediumâ”$349; Wireless Accessory Kitâ”$39.95


FolioBook Photo Portfolio for the iPad

If your photographer has an iPad, then she has probably been searching for the perfect portfolio app to show her work on the iPad, and there are a ton of them out there (and I've tried a bunch). But I think FolioBook is hands down the best one, and it's cheap (just $12.99). Gift her the app directly from the App Store or buy her an iTunes gift card to get it.

FolioBook for iPad

Price: $12.99


LASTOLITE 8-in-1 Umbrella

LASTOLITE came out with this clever, very handy, and inexpensive shoot-through umbrella that acts like softbox, and I'm really impressed with it. Clever design, and it's big enough that you'll look like you spent a lot more on it than you did.

Lastolite 8-in-1 Umbrella

Price: $173


Really Right Stuff BH-30 LR II Ballhead

This year I've been using a smaller, more compact ballhead from Really Right Stuff (in my opinion, they're the masters of ballhead manufacturing), and it has lightened my travel gear load while still letting me use the best ballhead on the planet. Same great features as the bigger BH-55 and BH-40 but in a smaller, lighter size. They're not cheap, but they're worth every penny. Give this to someone you love and she'll love you forever.

Really Right Stuff BH-30 Ballhead

Price: $290


Jay Maisel's DVD Collection

Jay Maisel is a living legend of photography, and the two classes we produced on location with Jay in New York have become classics, melding the feel of a documentary with a master class in learning photography. People's reactions to Jay, his work, and these classes have been amazing, and you'll get lots of hugs for giving these two DVDs as a giftâ”one she will treasure.

A Day with Jay Maisel 2-Part DVD

Price: $89.99


Some Cool Books


I would be remiss if I didn't mention our own books because they make really great gifts. Matt's book on compositing is, I truly believe, the best book ever written on the topic. Period. RC's book, The HDR Book, focuses on postprocessing in Photoshop, and it's been a megahit (and helped to make RC a household name in Photoshop and photography). I have two new books out: The Adobe Photoshop CS6 Book for Digital Photographers and The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 Book for Digital Photographers. My company produced all of these books (just so you know).

Books from Kelby Training

Prices: See website


Another Cool Book

Here's another book to check out: Moose Peterson's new eBook called Taking Flight (for the iPad) is a fantastic book for anyone into aviation photography.

Taking Flight by Moose Peterson

Price: $14.99


B&H Photo Gift Certificates

There's nobody on the planet who wouldn't love you to death (like a puppy) if you get him a B&H Photo Gift Card. That way, he can get whatever he wants (within the limit of how much you put on the card, of course), but I don't know anyone who doesn't want something from the greatest photo store on earth. You can order them directly from the B&H siteâ”they send a card and a catalog so it looks pretty substantial.

B&H Gift Cards

Price: Completely up to you


Silver Efex Pro 2 from Nik Software

If the photographer on your gift list is into black-and-white photography, this Photoshop and Lightroom plug-in from Nik Software will make him lose his mind. I don't know a single black-and-white pro not using it because it's just that good. You'll score lots of points for this one.

Silver Efex Pro 2 by Nik Software

Price: $199.95


G-Technology G-SPEED Q Drives

Photographers are constantly fighting the battle of shrinking hard drive space, especially with all the high-megapixel cameras today with their giant file sizes. This year I switched all my photo archival duties over to G-Technology drives, and I'm loving them. I use their 12-TB G-SPEED Q system, which would definitely be for someone you're very close to because they cost a few bucks, but giving one of these will change your relationship status on Facebook for sure. (That's right, I'm saying the photographer on your gift list will marry you, or if you don't get him one, he'll divorce you. I'm kidding, of course. Kinda.)

G-Technology G-Speed Q Drives

Price: $799.95-1,799.50


1.4x Teleconverter

This is a reasonably inexpensive way to make a zoom lens even longer. It increases the zoom magnification by a factor of 1.4, so a 200mm lens becomes a 280mm for a fraction of the cost of actually buying a quality 300mm lens. I recommend buying one made by the same manufacturer as the zoom lens it's going to be used with, so Nikon users would buy a Nikon teleconverter, Canon shooters a Canon, Tamron owners a Tamron, and so on.

Nikon 1.4x Teleconverter
Canon 1.4x Teleconverter
Tamron 1.4x Teleconverter
Sigma 1.4x Teleconverter

Price: Starts at around $250, depending on brand


Subscription to Light It Magazine

If your photographer is into lighting, for $20 you can give him an App Store gift certificate so he can subscribe to my magazine on studio lighting and hot-shoe flash called Light It magazine (for the iPad). Of course, you could buy him just one issue for $3, but then it definitely goes in the stocking. For $620, you can get him a 32-GB iPad with retina display and a subscription and then you win the holiday gift-giver award for sure.

Light It Magazine

Price: $19.99


The Big Stopper ND Filter by LEE Filters

If you think the photographer on your list might want to make some of those gorgeous long-exposure black-and-white images (where the sea looks like silk), or she wants to shoot waterfalls in broad daylight and have beautifully smooth water (rather than frozen water), then get her an ND (neutral density) filter. It lets her keep the shutter open longer to get those wonderful water effects. Get her an 8- or 10-stop ND filter and she'll lose control of her faculties. The Big Stopper will give her 10 stops, but it also requires the Lee System Foundation Kit filter holder, plus adapter ring, which will run you an additional $115 or more.

Lee Big Stopper ND Filter

Price: $160


Lexar USB 3.0 Dual Card Reader

Everything's moving to USB 3 right now, and the faster the card reader, the faster your images download from your memory card to your computer (and faster is better). I use a Lexar Professional USB 3 Dual-Slot Reader that has both SD and CompactFlash in the same unit and supports UDMA 7 (read my Lexar disclaimer above).

Lexar USB 3.0 Dual Card Reader

Price: $64.99


I love shooting the Atlanta Falcons. First, I get to shoot with the awesome Falcons Photo Crew — Jimmy Cribbs, Matt Lange, Lynn Bass and Michael Benford are just some of the most fun, most gracious, and most talented guys around and I have so much fun shooting with them. I always wind up learning new stuff from these guys.

Secondly, because I’m shooting for the team, they let me do stuff like set up remote cameras in insane places to get shots like the one you see above, taken during the team introductions before kickoff.

Above: Here’s where I set up the remote camera. You have to get permission from the Pyrotechnics crew to place your gear in this area, but just like everybody I’ve met that has anything to do with the Falcons, the guy was incredibly friendly and helpful. In the third quarter he even found me on the sidelines and said, “Next time you’re up here, get with me early and we’ll find a really cool place to put it!” and I about fell over (and I’m going to take him up on his offer, because I’ve got an idea where I’d like to try next time and it will definitely need approval and help from him).

Above: Here’s a close-up (these two are a little blurry — shot with my iPhone). I tried out a new mounting rig this time and I love it. It’s called an fplate from and compared to other remote mounts it’s a steal at just $55. It’s very well made, and it’s designed to have you mount a bullhead on it (it comes with different size tripod screws). I had a small challenge with my “Really Right Stuff” ballhead because the knob is so large that it hits the bottom of the plate when you try and tighten it, so next time I’m going to use a Gitzo ballhead I have that has a round tightening knob and that should do the trick.

Above: Here’s a screen cap from their Website so you can see the plate a bit better. Lightweight but solid as anything. I might have to pick up their plate that lets you mount 2 remotes on one plate. Mmmmm. Two remotes. :)

Above: Once I set the remote in place, I stand in the spot where I think the players will pause when they come out, and I fire a few shots so the Auto Focus kicks in, and then I walk back to the remote; check the focus on the LCD, and then I switch the focus to Manual mode so it doesn’t change again. I also got photographer Phil Williams (very nice guy) to help me out by acting as my “focus model” for a few frames, too! You can see me holding the Pocket Wizard remote in my hand which triggers the remote camera. Over my shoulder is my other camera, with a 15mm Sigma Fisheye lens, mounted on the end of my monopod so I can shoot up high farther down the field as the players come out. When I fire the Pocket Wizard in my hand, it fires both cameras simultaneously.

By the way: The bright green vest means tells the security guards that you’re with the team so you get extra access, like being on field during the warm-ups and stuff like that. Green means GO!

Setting up a Remote Camera
If you want to see how easy it is to set up a wireless remote camera, watch the video above from our new photography tips weekly show, “Photography Tips & Tricks” (Photo TNT for short), and my remote tutorial starts at around 7:49 seconds into the show.

One problem that burned me at another game was when I think either the camera or the remote went into “Sleep” mode on me, so I was careful to test the camera and fire a burst of shots every couple of minutes to make sure everything. Right before the introduced the players, Lynn was kind enough to lean down and listen to see if he could hear my remote camera burst off a round of shots in High-Speed Continuous mode. He gave me a thumbs up after hearing it go off (and seeing the little red light on the remote) and we were good to go.

I’ve got a number of solid shots from them coming out, but they all look pretty much like the one you see at the top (which is my favorite of the bunch).

Above: I got to take my fisheye/monopod rig out for the coin toss at center field to start the game. This is the ref announcing who won the toss (Cowboys) and you can still see the coin on the field behind him. I shot the actual toss but since I was shooting kind of blind (remember, the camera is out at the end of my monopod) in those shots I cut the head off the refs (which should only be reserved for replacement refs), so I (ahem) won’t be showing off those (cough).

Why all the focus on the remote shots?
For every game I shoot, well after the game I look at my images and do an honest assessment on how I did, what I did right, what I did wrong, and how I can improve next time. The most important word there is “honest.” I’m especially hard on myself when it comes to my photography, but I think it’s helped me to improve. Going in to this game, I felt like I was really getting in the groove so I was excited to be shooting such a dynamic team in such an important game, but as I looked at my images, I confirmed what I had felt during the game. I had an off night. It happens.

It was one of those games where I was in the wrong position at the wrong time; I missed some key plays, my timing and focus was less than stellar, and I had a setting wrong that had a lot of my fisheye shots looking kind of soft, so overall I was disappointed with everything but my remote work above, but I’ll share a few that came out OK below.

I also made a rookie mistake — I didn’t double-check my settings before the game and I shot nearly half of the first quarter with the settings Brad had used the night before at a concert. I figured he changed them back to my sports settings, and he hadn’t. It’s not Brad’s fault — it’s mine. I should have checked. It wasn’t until I saw some blurry shots I realized I was shooting at 1/320 of a second in Auto ISO. I can tell you — if it’s below 1/1000 of a second (even 1/800th), the shots aren’t going to be tack sharp. Totally 100% my fault. That won’t happen again.

Above: This one makes me laugh ’cause it kind of tells the story of how the Cowboy’s played that night.

Camera Settings
My settings are pretty much the same for most games in a dome — high ISO because of the low lighting (I know what you’re thinking, “Low lighting!!!???” I had to shoot at 5,000 ISO on my 2nd body because my 24-120mm lens is an f/4 and at f/4 with the Georgia Dome’s lighting, I have to shoot at least 4,000 if not 5,000 ISO to reach 1/1000 of a second. This is why I love day games. :)

Above: Michael Turner scores the only touchdown of the entire game to set up the Falcon’s big win. 

On my main body, with the 400mm f/2.8, I leave it at f/2.8 all night (I shoot in Aperture Priority mode) and I’m usually between 1,600 and 2,000 ISO in a dome or at night like this. My focus is set to Continuous at 9 points.

Above: A totally spontaneous, non-posed, completely natural shot of my buddy Matt Lange, a totally spontaneous, non-posed kind of guy showing off with his 600mm lens. 

The Falcons are now 8 – 0, but…
…the Falcon’s crew of photographers (led by the amazing Jimmy Cribbs) are always #1!!! It’s a real honor to get to shoot for them and alongside Mike, Matt and Lynn, and I’m thrilled for the year their team is having. OK guys, now go beat the Saints — I’ll be shooting the Bucs/Chargers game on Sunday (in glorious 100 ISO daylight shooting conditions). Whoo Hoo!!!

Trying Something New
On Sunday’s game I’m going to be trying out my new modified sports post-processing workflow with tweaks suggested by  my buddy Rob Foldy after I outlined my bottleneck a few weeks ago (link), and I’m very psyched to give it a try. If I pull it off, I’ll have more details next week. :)

And make sure you check out my other post for today for a killer “This Weekend Only Deal” from Image Wizards!