Monday
Aug
2007
27

Update on Gitzo Traveler Tripod Field Report

by Scott Kelby  |  2 Comments

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After I posted my field report on Friday about my experience with the Gitzo Traveler Tripod, I received a wave of posts, calls, and emails from other Traveler users and not a single one was having the leg slipping problems I was having.

So my problem is either (a) operator error (meaning I’m doing something wrong), or (b) there’s something wrong with my individual tripod, which admittedly could have been caused by “a.” I’ve talked with the folks at Gitzo since then, and I’m sending the tripod back to Gitzo for their tech’s to figure out what the problem is (I’m really hoping it’s not operator error. I don’t want to be known as the guy who couldn’t figure out how to use his tripod).

I also learned, after talking with Gitzo directly, that the Traveler doesn’t use the same G-lock system as my Gitzo Mountaineer tripod. It does use Gitzo’s Anti-Leg Rotation system, but it’s a non G-Lock version.

Anyway, thanks to everyone who emailed, called, or posted comments here on the blog. I really love the tripod and don’t want to give it short shrift because of user error on my part (which I have a sinking feeling that’s exactly what it is).

Friday
Aug
2007
24

Field Report: Gitzo Traveler Tripod, and Really Right Stuff’s BH-40 Ballhead

by Scott Kelby  |  22 Comments

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Here’s another field report from my trip out West: I’ll start with the Gitzo Traveler tripod. This is a kind of a weird review for me, because I’ve really become attached to this tripod to the extent that I wouldn’t want to be without it. But on the other hand, it’s got one thing that really bugs me, and it’s so expensive that I’m not sure I can justify its cost. So, here’s my report:

The Traveler is just amazingly light (even lighter than I had imagined). It’s fun to hand it to other photographers and watch them laugh and shake their heads at its light weight (even with a BH-40 ballhead attached). When collapsed, it’s as small as it is light, and I can’t imagine what Gitzo could do to make it smaller or lighter. It easily supports a heavy Nikon D2X and large 70-200mm VR Nikon lens (together that’s quite a load), although on this trip it made easy work of the Canon 5D and 70mm-200 f/4 I was shooting. It didn’t even break a sweat.

So, here’s my problem: Gitzo’s G-lock one-twist leg lock technology is just amazing making set up and tear down about a 20 second deal (I have a Gitzo Mountaineer tripod as my main tripod, which has the same G-lock one-twist leg lock system and it just rocks), but with the Traveler; one or more of the bottom legs always seems to slip on me. It’s like I didn’t tighten them enough–but I did.

I keep thinking it’s got to be my fault—maybe I’m rushing to set it up too quickly, so I started double-checking to make sure I’ve tighted all the legs, but just about every time I’m shooting, one or two of the tiny legs at the bottom always seems to start slowly collapsing as though I hadn’t tightened them fully.

This has never happened with my Mountaineer—only the Traveler. Now, it is entirely possible that there’s a defect in either my particular unit, or in the way I tighten these smaller sized G-locks, so I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt there, but then there’s the price issue. I had to have my wife buy it for me as a gift, because it sells for around $600 for just the legs, and I personally would have a hard time buying that for myself (I’m just that way—but if someone else buys it for me, then I don’t feel so bad. I know, it’s still my money, but it’s how I fool myself into not feeling bad about spending $600 on camera accessories).

So, while overall I really like it (it’s actually probably the best ultra light-weight tripod out there), and it will probably see more use from me than my much larger Gitzo Mountaineer, I’d love to see those G-lock legs work better, and I’d be more comfortable with it in the $349 to $399 price range.

Now, onto to the  BH-40 Midsized ballhead from Really Right Stuff. I’ve been a huge fan of the BH-55 ballhead (the one that generally lives on my Gitzo Mountaineer tripod), I think, if it’s possible, I like the BH-40 even more. The size is just perfect. In fact, after using it for the week, my BH-55 actually feels a little big (though if I was shooting 400mm or longer glass, you would need the BH-55 for sure).

My shooting buddy Jeff Revell had just bought a BH-40, and this was his first shoot with it as well and we were just having a BH-40 love fest from our first shoot on. We both couldn’t say enough about it. It’s so well designed and so “right-sized.” It’s not too heavy, yet very sturdy, and it’s just a joy to use with incredibly smooth movement, it locks into place effortlessly, and it even supported a heavyweight Sigma 300mm zoom without flinching, even though I doubt it’s rated to carry glass that heavy.

I can’t recommend the BH-40 enough—it is, truly, the ballhead of the gods (if there is such a thing), and one that I would buy again without hesitation even though “it ain’t cheap” at around $399. (here’s the link to RRS’s site).

Just a reminder: these field tests are just that—there’s no fancy lab testing, where I disassemble the units into individual pieces or weigh the individual carbon fibers —it’s just my personal experience using the equipment in the field–good or bad, just like it happened. I hope it helps you find some great equipment, because great stuff is a blast!

Thursday
Aug
2007
23

Thursday Stuff

by Scott Kelby  |  0 Comments

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Hi everybody! Here’s the Thursday stuff:

  • It’s been a big week for both Canon and Nikon who intro’d lots of very, very cool stuff. On Monday Canon kicked things off by introducing the long rumored 10 Megapixel 40D, and the new 21 Megapixel EOS-1DS Mark III, along with some very sweet lenses.Then today, Nikon announced their new 12 Megapixel D300, and supercharged D3, along with some (you guessed it), very sweet lenses (Fast VR supertele’s and zooms). Right now I’m shooting both Nikon and Canon gear so this has been a really great week for me!!! I’m totally psyched!!!Check out Rob Galbraith’s site or DPreview for all the details on one of the most exciting weeks in DSLR history!
  • Hey, this is cool; my Photoshop Book for Digital Photographers was on CNN. OK, it wasn’t quite as cool as it’s sounds—Mike Mackenzie (one of our in-house editors) was watching a CNN video segment called “Snap Decision,” about Rosanne Penella, who chucked her career as an attorney to follow her dream of being a travel photographer, and in the segment, shot in her studio, she is looking through my book. Now, the only people in the world that would probably notice are Mike and myself, but it still caused us to do an internal “high five.” Here’s the link to the CNN video clip.
  • If you got a sec; Wacom has a very cool video clip/music montage (shown above) on their site about their amazing Cintiq 21UX interactive pen/display for photographers and graphic designers. Take a minute and check it out right here.
  • Here’s a mini-editorial: ya know Apple has taken some bold moves in the past to move the computer industry forward, like being the first company to do away with Floppy Disc drives, and being the first to use a trackpad on laptops, and about a dozen other things? Well now, with record number of PC users switching to Macs, and Apple’s share of the laptop market at a whopping 17%, I’d love to see Apple make a bold move to help these PC users make the switch less painful, and make all of our lives better in the long run (even if it’s a little painful in the short term, just like it was when the floppy went away, which many decried at the time was a huge mistake).Anyway, I’d like to see Apple do away with the Command-key (the Apple key) and finally, once and for all remove the word “Option” from the Alt key (it says “Alt” in small letters right on the Option key already). Then, standardize the shortcuts so whether you’re using an Intel Mac or an Intel PC, the keys work the same–the Ctrl key on a Mac works like the Ctrl-key on a PC, so there would be no “Command-this, and Command-that). I await a flood of angry comments for this suggestion. :)

Well, that’s it for today. Have a great Thursday and remember; just because you’re paranoid, it’s doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you! ;-)

Wednesday
Aug
2007
22

Wednesday News Update

by Scott Kelby  |  0 Comments

It’s Wednesday everybody, and you know what that means? That’s right, it’s not Tuesday anymore. Here’s the latest:

  • Very interesting article over at the UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper on how everyone is getting their photos retouched these days—not just the big celebrities. The article is titled, “My brush with absolute perfection” and a great example accompanies the article. Click here to read it online.
  • Our buddy Jason Moore, over at Soup Questions, has an online interview with one of our favorite guys: Photoshop Project Manager John Nack. It’s a quick read, and gives some great insight into one of the most fascinating and brilliant individuals in our industry. Take a moment to read it right here.
  • Photographer and author Derrick Story just posted another episode of his popular Podcast “The Digital Story,” and the focus of this one is helping you build your own workflow with tools you already have (i.e. Lightroom/CS3 Bridge), and how to use them to get organized. Also, he’s he’s included a link in the Show Notes where you can download a free 28-page PDF titled “I’ve Taken Great Pictures… Now What?”. Thanks to Derrick for sharing this with me (and now you). Here’s the link.
  • Want to see some really professionally done commercial compositing? Then check out this deconstruction of a print ad campaign created by “Blue Object Design” for a Denver-based nightclub. They staged a simple photo shoot, then composited images from the shoot in Photoshop, using stock photos from iStockPhoto.com and some clever retouching techniques, to create the final look, which they show step-by-step. I really found this fascinating. Check it out right here.
  • Just a reminder; next Thursday (the 30th) I’ll be in Chicago with my Lightroom Live! Tour, and if you haven’t signed up yet—I hope you’ll join me. Should be a blast! Here’s the link with more info and how to register (It’s only $99 for the day; only $79 for NAPP members). See you there! (P.S. The registration is now online for my Honolulu, Hawaii stop on December 3rd).
  • How about some mid-week photographic inspiration: This week, one of NAPP member Rebecca Parker‘s images was chosen as our editor’s “Photo of the week” choice and I really like her illustrative style, which mixes photography with Photoshop effects. Very cool stuff—check out her NAPP member portfolio right here (you don’t have to be a member to view her online portfolio, but it wouldn’t hurt).
  • My buddy Jeff Revell, (who went shooting with me and my other buddy Dave Moser last week out in Arizona and Utah), posted a nice pano he shot during our trip over the Grand Canyon. I think he said it was nine individual shots stitched into one panorama, and the new CS3 stitched the whole thing together just right—first time. Here’s the link to Jeff’s site—just make sure you click on the pano to see it at a larger size. (As a side note: if you do panos, or ever wished you could, the Photomerge feature in CS3 is worth the entire upgrade price alone. It’s just about as close to magic as you can come).

That’s it for today. Have a great one everybody, and we’ll see you tomorrow (unless, of course, it’s “No Blog Thursday,” but I rather doubt it will be).

Tuesday
Aug
2007
21

New Lightroom Training DVD From Matt

by Scott Kelby  |  1 Comments

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My buddy Matt Kloskowski just released a kick-butt training DVD on Lightroom, called “Photoshop Lightroom Basic Training” (Matt is the guy behind the incredibly popular “Lightroom Killer Tips” weekly video podcast.). This 2-hour DVD takes you from start to finish, in workflow order, and teaches you how to get up and running in Lightroom fast. Highly recommended for anyone who’s ready to make the jump to Lightroom. Click here for the full scoop, or to order your copy.

Monday
Aug
2007
20

Canon 5D Field Report (followed by the news)

by Scott Kelby  |  4 Comments

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As promised, here’s the first installment of my field reports on the gear I took out West last week, and I’m starting with the Canon 5D, which was my primary camera body for the entire trip. (The shot above is from Monument Valley at sunrise–click for a larger view).

As a longtime Nikon shooter, this was my first time out with one of Canon’s higher end digital rigs and Canon L glass, and although it was a bit awkward at first (just figuring out where all the dials and buttons I use most are located on a Canon body), by the second day I was totally comfortable and the transition was easier than I thought.

My field reports are based on my personal impressions (and not loads of lab testing), so I’m going to boil these field tests down to what I liked and didn’t like, so here goes:

What I liked best:

  • The low noise. As a general rule, I don’t shoot at 800 ISO or above unless it is an absolute emergency (and I cringe if I shoot at 400 ISO), but in both of my last shoots with the 5D I’ve shot at 1600 ISO and higher numerous times (even some when I was intending to) and the noise levels are shockingly low. This pretty much blew me away.
  • I fell in love with the scroll wheel on the back of the body. It makes image review so much easier and faster. It’s a little thing, but at this point, they’re all little things (well, except the low noise).
  • The weight: I was really surprised by the light weight of the 5D, and the 70mm-200mm lens. It seemed like half the weight of my regular rig, but not at all cheap or too lightweight.
  • I liked the full frame more than I thought I would, but then again I was shooting landscapes, and that let me really take advantage of the 16mm wide angle lens (which I love).
  • The Canon IS (Image Stabilization) is just outstanding. Better than anything I’ve used on any brand. Period.
  • I like the 9-point AF system quite a bit, and the overall picture quality rocks.

What I didn’t like:

  • The thing that drove me particularly crazy was the fact that you can’t get full-screen Highlight (clipping) warnings. In fact, worse than that, to get them at all, you have to first take the shot, then push a button to switch to the postage-stamp sized view of your shot, and its so small that if something is blinking it’s just about impossible to tell if it’s an area of important detail or not. This drove me nuts. Now, I heard someone say that the new Mark III has full screen clipping warnings, but I haven’t confirmed that (if anyone knows for sure—let me know).
  • The other thing that threw me was the sound and feel of the shutter button. Longtime Canon users look at me like I’m crazy when I mention this, but it just feels kind of “Digital.” It doesn’t feel “real” and even though there’s no shutter lag, it feels like it doesn’t matter whether you’re shooting at 1/60 of a second or 1/8000, the shutter sounds the same. This could just be me, because after a day or so it didn’t bother me as much, but it definitely takes some getting used to.

Other than those two things; I have to say I’m very impressed with the 5D and I’m starting to see what all the fuss is about. I haven’t had a chance to do any serious portrait or studio work, and I’ll be interested to see how it performs there, especially how it captures skintone. I’ll continue my landscape field testing going into Photoshop World next month, where I’ll be shooting out in the desert once again (it’s a great way to lose weight).

More field tests this week, including the new Sigma 300mm zoom, the Really Right Stuff BH-40 Ballhead, the Gizto traveler tripod, and more.

Now, scoll down to the next post for a fresh cup of Monday news (that’s called spin, by the way).

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