Category Archives Photo Gear

Tip of the hat to UK-blogger/photographer/awesome guy Brian Worley who shared this tip at some point, and darn it’s a good one — it’s how to use a feature in Lightroom to find out which lens (or lenses) you use the most. Deceptively simple.

STEP ONE: In Lightroom’s Library module; in the Catalog panel on the left, click on ‘All Photos.’

STEP TWO: Press the backslash key [ \ ] to bring up the Library Filter across the top of your thumbnail preview area. Click on the Metadata tab up top (shown circled below in red).

STEP THREE: If it’s not already selected, in one of the columns choose “Lens” as the column header (also shown circled in red above), and it will instantly display the number of images you took with each lens you own (as shown above, where not surprisingly my 70-200mm f/2.8 is my most-used lens). My 14mm isn’t far behind. Click on any listing, it will display just those photos taken with just that lens. The stuff that Lightroom does behind the scenes for us is really impressive.

Thanks, Brian! Also, please check out Brian’s Guest Blog post from April of this year. Great stuff (as always).

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Best,

-Scott

P.S. Next week I’m teaching my Lightroom seminar in Raleigh (Wed) and Lansing (Friday). Come out on (it’s 100% money-back guaranteed if it doesn’t totally rock). Here’s the link for details or tickets. 

Yeah, ya do! We’re partnering with ProfotoUSA on this awesome giveaway, and all you have to do to enter is….enter.

Here’s what you get if you win:

  1. A Profoto B1X (I have one, they are the best!)
  2. Profoto Air Remote (you get one that works with your brand of camera)
  3. Profoto Softlight Reflector

The whole package is right around $2,800 and you could win it — but you can’t win if you don’t enter in it.

Here’s the link. Go enter right now (while you’re thinking about it). Hey, ya never know it?

We pick a winner at random on July 30th, 2018.

Have a great weekend everybody – see ya back here on Monday!

Best,

-Scott

P.S. I hope you win! :) 

Greeting from a train somewhere in the countryside between Bergen, Norway, and Oslo. We’re close to wrapping up 9-days vacation here (with my wife and daughter), and we’ve been having just a wonderful time (our first time here in Norway — incredibly beautiful place!). 

As you might imagine, we’re taking lots of photos (and Kalebra is shooting absolutely lights-out with her iPhone — check out her images on her Instagram account. She somehow managed to take control of all the seagulls in Norway, and they fly into position on her command. It’s eerie to see in person, but it makes for a great photo). ;-)

Anyway, with all this water I wound up pulling out my 10-stop ND filter quite a bit (though not as much as I should have), but it got me to wondering — why, after all this time, do we still have “Bulb Mode?” (The mode where you can keep your shutter open as long as you want by holding down the shutter button). 

On my Canon 5D Mark IV, normally the maximum my shutter can stay open is 30-seconds
…unless until I switch to bulb mode, and then I can leave it open all day long (well, for as long as I hold the shutter button down, or in my case, as long as I leave the button on my cable release locked). Since the main reason, you need bulb mode is for long exposures, why not just let us automatically be in an optional type of bulb mode once I choose an exposure beyond 30-seconds?

For example, yesterday I was doing a series of 2-min, 20-second long exposures. Why can’t I just set my shutter speed to 2:20 seconds? Why do we need to change modes? Beyond that, why don’t they just do away with us having to have a cable release in the first place — why not have an option to turn on so if you go beyond a 30-second exposure, pressing the shutter button waits for 5-seconds before opening the shutter to let any vibration from pressing the shutter dissipate. That does away with Bulb mode and the need for a cable release all in one. 

Now, there may already be some cameras out there that already have this exact feature (I don’t think it’s a Canon or Nikon, maybe an Olympus or Pentax), but this seems like one of those, “that’s the way we’ve always done it…’ type of things that have kept the “big boys” from doing, but perhaps there’s some technical reason why we need to have a separate bulb mode for long exposures that I don’t know, and if there is, I’m hoping somebody here will let me know. 

Anyway, this is the kind of thing you think of when you’re standing on the rocks shooting a long exposure waiting patiently for 2-minutes and 20-seconds to pass. ;-)

Here’s to a great week (and smooth flights home, wherever you may be). :)

All my best, 

-Scott

P.S. This Friday I’ll be giving the keynote at the Out of Chicago Conference, and I’m pretty psyched about it. Heard so many great things about the conference, and I’m delighted they asked me to speak there this week. Looking forward to meeting some of you there. If you’re not going – you can still go! :)

Welcome to my 12th Annual Gonzo Holiday Gear Guide (from Photoshop User magazine).

> Download the PDF version here

Believe it or not, when I first started this gear guide, Gerald Ford was still President, we were watching Happy Days on TV, and we were all driving around in AMC Pacers. Although many things have changed since then (now we’re watching Little House on the Prairie), the wholesome goodness of a carefully selected piece of holiday gear still glistens in the crisp morning air (I have no idea what that actually means).

Anyway, let’s refocus on this year’s list, which is compiled from my own gear, and it’s stuff that I can’t possibly live without, even for a single moment, and I’m hoping to pass that uncomfortable dependence on to you and your loved ones this holiday season.

My Gear guide is in three categories:

Stocking Stuffers
But you can use these as actual holiday gifts if you’re not that crazy about the person.

Great Value Gear
Stuff that’s a really good deal for the money, and even though it’s not a lot of money, they’ll still totally dig it.

Cha-ching!
Stuff you buy for the NBA player on your holiday gift list. This is the stuff that makes them burst into spontaneous tears of joy. Well, at least I would.


Neewer Professional Metal 360 Degree Rotating Panoramic Ballhead
Want to make ’em think you spent a bundle? Get ’em this awesome little ballhead, with a quick shoe plate and built-in bubble level. It supports a camera rig up to nearly 18 lbs., and if their camera rig weighs more than 18 lbs., it’s possible they have an entirely different problem that holiday gifts won’t fix. Anyway, believe it or not, it’s just $12.99, which is insanely cheap

Price: $12.99 (link)

The Joby Flash Clamp & Locking Arm
It’s kind of like a cheaper, lighter, simpler version of the Manfrotto Magic Arm, with two articulating ball joints so you can position it just how you want (it rotates a full 360° and can pivot 180° side-to-side). It comes with its own flash shoe mount, and you can attach it to all kinds of surfaces (like the back of a chair, a table, a railing, whatever—as long as it isn’t thicker than 2″). At just $39.95, it’s cheaper than it oughta be.

Price: $39.95 (link)

3-Legged Thing QR11-LC Universal L-Bracket
The 3 Legged Thing Universal L-Bracket is perfect for the landscape, nature, or outdoor photographer on your gift list who uses a tripod because it lets them change from shooting wide to tall in two-seconds flat. The problem has been that L-Brackets have traditionally been ridiculously expensive—until now. It comes in gray or really bright orange.

Price: $49.99 (link)

Moose Peterson’s New Book: “Takeoff: The Alpha to Zulu of Aviation Photography”
How do I know this is the most awesome book ever on aviation photography? Well, (a) I read the reviews on Amazon, and (b) because we worked with Moose to produce this book and he absolutely knocked it out of the park (which is a baseball metaphor, and an aviation metaphor would have been better, but it’s late at night, so we’re going with this). Anyway, if the photographer on your list loves taking photos of planes, this will help them take way better pics from this moment on.

Price: $19.79 (Kindle)
$28.32 (Paperback)

Stuff that’s a really good deal for the money, and even though it’s not a lot of money, they’ll still totally dig it.

Platypod Ultra with Multi Accessory Set
This tripod alternative has taken the photography world by storm: It fits in your pocket, you can screw a small ballhead on it, it holds your camera steady as a rock, and you can place it where tripods either aren’t allowed (which sadly is pretty much everywhere these days) or where they can’t fit. Everybody wants a Platypod Ultra. They’ll love you for it. It’s $59, but splurge a little and also get them the Multi Accessory Set (it’s awesome) for an extra $20.

Price: $59 (link)
$79 w/Multi Accessory Set (link)

Oben BE-117 Ballhead
If you want to get them a quality ballhead, but without paying $300+, check out the Oben BE-117—I love mine, and it works great with a Platypod or a tripod (or anything with a -pod at the end). It’s really well made and compact. They’ll love it.

 Price: $99.99 (link)

TetherBlock Arca
If your photographer has a home or office studio, chances are they shoot tethered, and if they do, they’ll love the new TetherBlock Arca from Tether Tools. It’s a quick-release plate for their tripod that threads their tethering cable between it and their camera, keeping them from accidentally pulling out the tethering cable during the shoot. It’s so darn clever!

Price: $99.95 direct from Tether Tools (link)

B&H Gift Card
This is always a perfect gift because: (a) B&H Photo is the greatest camera store in the world, and (b) whatever the photographer on your gift list wants, B&H has it in stock, ready to ship. They are the magical unicorn of camera stores. Get them a gift card from here and they’ll follow you anywhere.

 Price: Starting at $20 (link)

A Roll of Savage ‘Fashion Gray’ Seamless Paper
Everybody needs a great roll of seamless, and if the photographer on your list ever shoots fashion, this is kind of the official “fashion gray” of paper: Savage’s #56 Fashion Gray 107″ wide by 36′ long roll. Your photographer will love you for it, and if you’re a KelbyOne member, B&H Photo will even ship it for free if you order from our Discounts page on the KelbyOne member site.

Price: $49.99 (link)

MagMod Basic Kit
This one is for the flash user on your holiday list, and it doesn’t matter which kind of flash (Canon, Nikon, Sony, Yongnuo, Phottix, etc.) they have, this system will work and it’s pretty darn brilliant because it’s all based on magnets. You slide on their MagGrip and now their MagGel or MagGrid just slaps on/off instantly and magnetically. So clever! Your photographer will fall in love with ’em (like I have).

Price: $89.95 (link)

Elgato Thunderbolt 3 Dock
This one’s for the MacBook Pro user on your holiday list—it’s a dock with about every possible port you could want to make up for the fact that Apple took most of them away on the MacBook Pro. It has two Thunderbolt 3 ports, a DisplayPort (so you can connect multiple displays), an Ethernet port, three USB 3 ports, and headphone and mic jacks. All this, and it comes in a slim size that connects with just one plug into their laptop. They will super dig it!

Price: $299.95 (link)

WD 4TB My Passport Portable External Hard Drive
Everybody needs more photo storage, and WD’s 4-TB My Passport USB 3 portable external hard drive totally rocks at just $120. Think about it—4-TB of storage that fits in the palm of your hand. Crazy! But, it’s a really important, thoughtful gift. You’ll get lots of hugs.

Price: $119.99 (link)

Skylum Luminar Plug-in for Lightroom/ Photoshop
This is the hot new effects plug-in that everybody’s talking about, and now Skylum (previously Macphun) has a Windows version as well (and the original Mac version, too). It pretty much does everything, and these guys are on the cutting edge of interface design and effects. Great presets, and it’s the “heir apparent” to the beloved Google Nik Collection. (photo by Kalebra)

Price: $69 (link)

Perfectly Clear Complete Plug-In for Lightroom/ Photoshop
I don’t use a lot of Photoshop or Lightroom plug-ins, but when I do, I use this one. It uses intelligent image analysis to quickly fix your images. I mainly use it for portrait retouching, and it does an amazingly good job, for a pretty decent price. Totally worth it.

Price: $129 (link)

Hoodman HoodLoupe Outdoor Loupe (H30MB or H32MB)
This is the latest update of a classic, and this is probably the third or fourth time this has been on my holiday list because it’s such an indispensable tool for any photographer who shoots outdoors in direct light. It covers your entire LCD screen so you can see your images perfectly outdoors (when everybody around you can’t). It’s $89.99 and totally worth it. (There are versions for 3″ screens or Canon’s 3.2″ screens.)

Price: $89.99 (link)

Westcott 43″Apollo Orb Octabox
There’s a reason the Westcott 43″ Apollo Orb Octabox is probably the biggest selling light modifier from one of the world’s largest light modifier companies. If your photographer has studio lights, this is a killer gift. Big soft beautiful light, with a quick setup/tear down, and a price that’s right at $129.90 (and if you get it from B&H, they throw in a 40° Fabric Grid, which is normally $69.90 on its own). Hard to beat.

Price: $129.90 (link)

Stuff you buy for the NBA player on your holiday gift list. This is the stuff that makes them burst into spontaneous tears of joy. Well, at least I would.

Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM Lens
This is the lens…of the gods. It’s a super wide-angle, but it’s not big and bulky, and it’s really sharp, and it’s mega awesome, and your photographer will dedicate his or her life to somehow paying you back for this life-changing, photo-making, love-taking gift. I take mine pretty much everywhere, and I love it so. At $2099, this is why this category is called “Cha-Ching.”

Price: $2,099 (link)

Nikon D850 DSLR Camera Body
I had to include this one because I haven’t talked to a Nikon shooter who doesn’t think this isn’t the greatest camera body Nikon’s ever made. They’re literally over the moon about this one. (I’m not a Nikon shooter myself but based on the specs, and reactions from shooters I’ve talked with, this body is the real deal for the Nikon shooter on your list.) It has a 45.7-megapixel sensor; it does 4K; and it, well, pretty much does everything. It oughta—it’s $3,296.95 at B&H. Give them this and your photographer will accept a marriage proposal, or at the very least, they’ll move in with you.

Price: $3,296.95 (link)

Drobo 5D3 5-Bay Thunderbolt Enclosure
The Drobo 5D3 is a photo storage device for pros (or pro-quality photographers, or anyone really serious about keeping their images safe). I’ve been using this one for over a year and it’s been awesome (and flawless). I’d given up on Drobo years ago, but their new CEO, new designs, new technology, and most importantly, new warranty (two years on the standard 5D3, but up to five years if you splurge on either the Gold or Platinum Edition), changed my mind. Stellar gift and the price is actually great for this robotic safeguard of your images.

Price: $694 enclosure only (link)

DJ I Mavik Pro Drone ( Fly More Combo)
If there’s a hotter gift in general out there this season, I’ve yet to find it. Everybody wants a drone (not just photographers), but this is the best one ever made at this price point. It’s the“dream drone,” and you won’t find a Mavik Pro owner who doesn’t think this isn’t the greatest thing since free lm. I would get them the Fly More Combo, which comes with an extra battery and important stuff they’ll actually need. Honestly, it’s a deal for what it does (it flies up to 4+ miles, shoots 12-megapixel photos, comes with its own camera, shoots 4K video, and it’s a freakin’ drone. How awesome is that?).

Price: $1,299 (link)

Canon, Nikon, or Sony Teleconverter
This is probably the lowest-price gift under the “Cha-Ching” category, but don’t let that throw you because this is a seriously awesome gift for any photographer who shoots things at a distance—such as sports, aviation, or wildlife— because it gets them 1.4x closer to the action without losing quality. Don’t go with the 2x—stick with the 1.4x so they don’t lose too much light or quality. If your photographer is a Canon shooter, go with the Canon brand; if they’re a Nikon shooter, go with the Nikon brand; and if they use a Sony camera, go with Sony (I’m usually cool with third-party stuff, but not when it comes to teleconverters). A really killer gift without breaking the bank.

Canon Extender EF 1.4x III $429.00 (link)

Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III $496.95 (link)

Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter $548.00 (link)


This is stuff, from us, that’s cool. I don’t know what else to say. 

My Brand-New Book, The Flash Book
If you know the photographer on your wish list already owns flash, then this is the book to make them finally fall in love with their flash. I wrote this book, which teaches a system I use for getting fantastic results with flash every time. It’s for anyone who has struggled with flash and isn’t getting the results for which they bought their flash. The book is brand new—printed copies are shipping early December, but the eBook edition is available right now.

Price: $19.34 (Kindle)
Price: $20.36 (Paperback)

Photoshop World Conference 2018 Full Conference Pass
Want to blow their mind and give them an experience they’ll be talking about for years? Give the photographer on your gift list a Full Conference Pass to the three-day Photoshop World Conference 2018 early next summer in Orlando, Florida. Get the pass before April 27, 2018, to take advantage of the Early Bird special, and you’ll save $100. And if you’re a KelbyOne Pro member, you’ll save an additional $100 on Early Bird pricing. You’ll have a friend for life. Maybe longer.

Price: $599 (KelbyOne Pro Member Early Bird Pricing) Link

One-Year KelbyOne Pro Membership
If you’re already a member, you know firsthand about all the incredible online courses, the online Community, the digital magazines, the webcasts, the discounts, and more. Now you can share all that with a photographer you super dig. It’s only $199 for a full year, with full access to everything! They will devote the rest of their natural life to letting you know how thoughtful, caring, and generous you were to change their life in such a meaningful way. Plus, you’ll just look cool.

Price: $199 (link)

Well, my friends, that’s it — my 12th Annual Gonzo Gear Guide. I hope you enjoyed the gonzoness. :)

 Have a great weekend (and happy shopping!). :)

Best,

-Scott 

Above: That’s me in Copenhagen back in 2011 shooting an all-in-one 18-200mm lens (photo by Terry White).

Greetings from Denver (I’m here for my Lightroom seminar today).

Last week I did a post responding to a flood of emails, texts, Facebook comments, direct messages about which is the best lens to use for travel photography and in that post I gave my lens picks for full frame camera users. Today we’re covering crop sensor lenses, and here it’s a whole lot easier because the lens I’m going to recommend is made by pretty much every lens manufacturer. As a remember: my goal is to travel with just one lens that does it all — that covers such an awesome range that:

(a) I don’t have to carry a 2nd lens at all

(b) Which means I don’t have to carry a camera bag with me either (it stays in my hotel room, mostly empty) and I don’t’ have to worry about someone snatching my camera bag because I don’t have one with me.

(c) I can still enjoy my vacation, which is really important.

Today, I’m just covering lens for Crop Sensor bodies (since I covered full frame lens picks last week).

Nikon Shooters: Get the Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G  VR II Lens ($646 at B&H Photo). This is a very lightweight, inexpensive, not super sharp lens. Yes, it’s not that sharp, but it’s sharp enough. I have a huge 60×40 print I took with it hanging it my house and it looks sharp as anything and people always comment on how sharp the shot looks (of course, I sharpened the image in Photoshop like I do any image), but at the end of the day, the lens is pretty decent. It’s a great deal for the money, and really convenient, and don’t listen to the goobers in online forums talk you out of it — you’ll really enjoy using this lens.

Canon Shooters (like me): Get the Canon 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 IS Lens for Canon (it’s $699 at B&H Photo.). Canon makes one in this same 18-200mm sweet spot and it’s really lightweight, coming in a just over a pound. Pretty decent sharpness at longer lengths; I remember it being not as sharp all the way out wide, but still — it’s sharp enough, and the price is so right.

Sony Shooters: Sony has their own 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS Lens (around $848 at B&H), which is a little pricey compared to the Canon and Sony models. I haven’t used this particular lens myself (so I’m just going on the range), but from the research I did online, it’s sharpness seems pretty much in line with the Nikon and CanonSony lenses, in that it doesn’t have awesome sharpness (and in this low price range, I’m not sure you’re going to experience “awesome sharpness”), but again, it seems sharp enough. There is always a trade-off, on any of these low-priced, lightweight, lens and the tradeoff is usually sharpness.

 

You might want to consider…

The Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD MACRO (the Macro part just means you can focus so close with it, it’s considered within “macro” range, but it’s a regular zoom lens). This is a really intriguing range because it’s wider than 18mm and 100mm longer on the long end, and it’s available for Canon, Nikon, and Sony. The reviews on it have been pretty much like the reviews for the 18-200mms I talked about above. The price is pretty insane ($499 at B&H), and it’s not too heavy at 1.7 lbs.

Tamron has announced an 18-400mm f/3.5-6.3, but it’s not out yet, but I think I’d rather have the 16mm wide, which is more useful for travel (for me, anyway) than the 400mm end would be (great for Safari or birding though).

Hope you found that helpful. Have a great weekend, everybody!

Best,

-Scott

P.S. We released an awesome class with football photography superstar Dave Black — it’s called “How to shoot High School Football Like a Pro” and it’s an update of Dave’s classic class we did five years ago. Dave is amazing! Here’s the link to the course. 

Above: me traveling light in Italy’s Dolomites – minimum gear packed into a minimum sized rental car. 

Recently I’ve had a flood of emails, texts, Facebook comments, direct messages — you name it — about which is the best lens to use for travel photography and so I thought I’d tackle that here today.

The lenses I’m going to recommend (it’s really just one lens, but you need a variation of it depending on whether you’re using a Full Frame body or Crop Sensor body) I came to fall in love with the hard way — by traveling with WAY too much gear. So much gear that for a few years it tended to kinda ruin either a part of most of the trip due to taking so much unnecessary gear.

My goal is to travel with just one lens that does it all — that covers such an awesome range that:

(a) I don’t have to carry a 2nd lens at all

(b) Which means I don’t have to carry a camera bag with me either (it stays in my hotel room, mostly empty) and I don’t’ have to worry about someone snatching my camera bag because I don’t have one with me.

(c) I can still enjoy my vacation, which is really important.

Today, I’m just covering Full Frame (so this isn’t the longest post in history – Crop Sensor picks next week). 


Nikon Shooters: Get the Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G  VR Lens ($946 at B&H Photo). This is a very lightweight, super-sharp, freakin’ awesome lens. Jay Maisel uses it and swears by it. Enough said. It was one of my favorite lenses back when I shot Nikon.

Canon Shooters (like me): Get the Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD Lens for Canon (it’s $599 at B&H Photo. A steal!). Full disclosure – Tamron is one of the sponsors of my weekly show “The Grid” but I had this lens long before then. Other disclosure: It’s not the sharpest lens in the world, but it’s plenty sharp enough, and it only weighs 190z. I take this puppy all over the world, and I love that I never have to change lenses.

NOTE: Why don’t I use the Canon 28-300mm, which is sharp as a tack? It’s because it’s not a compact lens, and really wouldn’t work for travel. It’s heavy as anything (nearly 4lbs), expensive as anything (around $2,400), and it so old it’s a “push/pull” zoom – you don’t rotate the barrel to zoom in/out – you tug it in/out manually. Not for travel. Every time I’m at Canon HQ I whine like a baby to them about not making an updated, lightweight, inexpensive 28-300mm. It’ll happen one day, just not this day. Fingers crossed it’s while I’m still young(ish). 

Sony Shooters: Sony has the Sony FE 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS Lens (around $900 at B&H), which isn’t as long as I’d like (300mm) but is wider than either the Canon or Tamron by 4mm, and you’d think 4mm doesn’t make that much difference, and at the long end it wouldn’t, but on that wide end it actually does. So, it’s a pretty nice range, and it’s fairly light at just 1-3/4 lbs. Now, if you don’t want to spend that much, and you really want that 300mm on the long end, Tamron makes a version of that 28-300mm lens I mentioned for Canon, in a Sony mount version for $599 at B&H. Worth considering.

Warning! Don’t fall into this trap!
With any one of these lenses, you won’t have to change lenses during the entire trip. If you take even one extra lens, you’ll experience a phenomenon called the “two-lens two step” where you take a shot, take two steps and then you’ll realize you need the other lens, so you switch lenses. Then you take two more steps, “Rats! I need that other lens again…” and this will continue your entire trip. Don’t fall into this trap.

Next up, Crop Sensor picks (but not today — this post is already too long).

Hope you found that helpful.

If you’re anywhere in Irma’s path…
(like we are here in Florida), here’s hoping you stay high and dry. Thanks to everyone who has reached out on social, via email, texts or calls with good thoughts and concern. We so appreciate your good words and prayers. We hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. :)

Hope your weekend is much better than expected. :)

Best,

-Scott

P.S. If you’re looking for something really great to watch this weekend, we just released three killer classes in past few weeks. Take a look at Tracy Sweeney’s “Newborn Photography Master Class” and Viktor Fejes’s “Advanced Photoshop: The Psychology and Science behind Color Grading” and Serge Ramelli’s “Using Photoshop and Lightroom to Create Amazing Cityscapes.” You’ll love what you’ll learn. 

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