Category Archives Photo Gear

Welcome to my semi-breathlessly awaited “16th Annual Holiday Photo Gear Guide” from Photoshop User magazine.

It’s a tradition here each year where I share gift ideas for photographers based on the stuff I spent too much money on this year. You’d think with the pandemic still hanging on that I wouldn’t have much new gear but, sitting around looking through all the pages on B&H Photo’s website (I’ve memorized them all by now) had an effect on me and on my wallet, and now I’m wearing a barrel (kids, ask your folks about that one). Anyway, here are the three categories I cover each year.

Stocking Stuffers: These are the perfect gifts for people you don’t really care that much about, but it would be awkward if you didn’t get them anything.

Great Value Gear: These are gifts that fall into that sweet spot of looking like they cost a lot when, in reality, they’re really pretty inexpensive, so you look like a champ. But in reality…well, you can fill in your own blanks here. Good stuff, cheap. Well, “cheapish.”

Cha-ching!: These are my picks for the gifts you’d buy for the photographer on your list who is a personal injury attorney, anesthesiologist, or perhaps a cloud engineer (nobody actually knows what a cloud engineer does, but it has to pay a lot because it has “cloud” in the name). Before buying any of these items, the process will go faster if the bank has pre-approved you for a specific loan amount.

Just remember, giving one of these gifts by itself isn’t enough. The real magic of the holidays is when you can make others feel less adequate by taking pictures of all the stuff you got and sharing it on social media. It’s what separates us from the animals. So, without further ado, I present to you my 16th Annual Holiday Photo Gear Guide and path to financial ruin.

STOCKING STUFFERS

Spudz Microfiber Cleaning Cloth (Blue)

This is one of those stocking stuffers with which you can’t go wrong, pricewise, usability-wise, how-they-will-appreciate-it-wise. It comes with a little clip that can attach to a camera bag, a tiny built-in carrying bag, and it’s just all good. Every photographer needs one of them, or just more of them if they already have one. 

Price: $5.99 (link)

ZEISS Lens Wipes (60-Pack) 

Let’s say you feel obligated to buy someone a stocking stuffer, and you’re not that close with the person, but you still want to get them something useful, but you don’t want to spend a lot on them, because, well, you’re just not that close with them. So hey, they’re lucky to get anything, right? Get them a 60-pack of ZEISS Lens Wipes. It’s actually a really great gift because how can you go wrong for less than $6? They’ll use ’em, they’ll think of you, and then when they go to reorder them one day, they’ll realize how little you spent on them, and it will end your already lukewarm friendship. But for now, you’re a champ. Sixty wipes will last them a while, so bask in the glory till they run out.

Price: $5.99 (link)

How to Make Money While You Are Sleeping: A Photographer’s Guide to Passive Income Other Savvy Business Strategies by Rick Sammon

Rick is on a roll (stop snickering). Seriously though, Rick has written a string of bestselling books for photographers, and his latest is one that would make any photographer happy, because who doesn’t want passive income? Rick is a great writer and always shares such helpful information, so this would make an awesome stocking stuffer.

Price: Print: $14.95; Kindle: $9.95 (link)

2-Pack of Lexar Professional 1066x UHS-I SDXC 64-GB Memory Cards

I recommended SD cards last year too but, like I said then, memory cards are like batteries: you can never have enough of them. Last year’s cards were 633x SDHC 32-GB cards with read speeds up to 95 MB/s; this year’s cards are 1066x SDXC 64-GB cards with read speeds up to 160 MB/s. These faster and higher-capacity SD cards will be so welcome by the photographer on your gift list. Photographers are always putting off buying new cards, so when you buy these for them, it’s hero time. Plus, these are so inexpensive now (around $35), you can’t go wrong (and they’ll think you spent a lot more)!

Price: $35.98 (link)

Platypod Disc Accessory

This is just a handy little gadget. It’s a clever round Arca mounting plate to use with your ballhead that makes attaching and removing your camera so easy, and it just works so well. It also screws right onto a tripod or Platypod or whatever. Really smartly designed and the price is right (and now you don’t have to buy the whole Multi Accessory Kit just to get one; you can buy them individually). 

Price: $24 (link)

OP/TECH 8″ Small Rainsleeve

Rain happens. When it happens to the photographer on your Holiday list, they’ll think of you (and thank you, even if not verbally at the time, but certainly mentally), as they reach in their camera bag and pull out one of these easy-to-use, smartly designed, clear rain covers. They can keep right on shooting, and they’re so small (and so ridiculously inexpensive) that they’ll always keep one or two with them.

Price: $8.00 (pack of two) (link)
Note:
if they live in Seattle, consider the 40-pack for $160 that, for some weird reason, is the exact same price if you bought 20 of the 2 packs by themselves. (link)

Vello BL-HS1 Low Profile Bubble Level

This one is so awesome I recently wrote about it here on my blog. It’s a very small, super-low-profile bubble level that sits in their camera’s hot-shoe mount, and lets them see at a glance if the camera is level. With this handy little gadget, they’ll finally stop submitting landscape images with crooked horizon lines for the monthly blind critiques episode of The Grid. But I digress. This is such a great gift at such a great price.

Price: $11.99 (link)

Think Tank Photo DSLR Battery Holder

I so love mine! It holds four batteries of the most commonly used size for most mirrorless or DSLR cameras these days, and it keeps things neat and organized (no more digging around your bag trying to find a fresh battery). I can’t tell you how simple and awesome these are. This gift is a guaranteed hit!

Price: 4-Battery Holder: $17.75 (link); 2-Battery Holder: $10.75 (link)

Think Tank Photo Secure Pixel Pocket Rocket Memory Card Holder

I love this almost as much as my Think Tank Battery Holder, but this one is a memory card holder that works wonderfully well, and it’s so lightweight and easy to use. It’s the Secure Pixel Pocket Rocket from Think Tank and it’s what I use to carry all my extra and backup cards with me when I’m shooting. It’s not fancy; it just works. Comes in two colors. They’ll love it.

Price: $21.75 (link)

A 10′ or 15′ TetherPro Cable from Tether Tools

A few years back, Adobe reworked their built-in tethering feature, where you connect your camera to your computer so when you take a photo, instead of it just showing up on the tiny 3″ screen on the back of your camera, it appears in Lightroom on your computer so you can see it much larger, which makes a huge difference. Tethering is so much better, faster, and more reliable now that it has really become “the thing,” and getting one of these cables is what you need to get started. When you go to Tether Tools’ site, they have an online wizard that helps you pick the right cable for the camera’s connector and the computer that the photographer on your gift list uses. Once they tether, they’ll wonder how they lived without it. Tip: Don’t get the 3′ cable; it’s too short.

Price: $24.95–$56.95 (depending on the length and style) (link)

Westcott 5-in-1 Reflector Disc

This is one of those gifts that seems like it costs way more than it does, and that’s partially because what it does is worth way more than it costs. It’s four reflectors and an all-important 1-stop diffuser (for people who shoot outdoors in natural light or who use flash without a softbox but want to soften their light big time). You get a white, silver, black, and gold reflector, plus that diffuser, and it all collapses down into a small pouch that they can toss into their camera bag. Everybody needs one of these.

Price: $39.90 (link)

Lastolite EzyBalance Gray Card

This looks like a tiny reflector, but what it does is help the photographer on your Holiday gift list nail their white balance every time. It’s super small, super lightweight, and the price is right at around $40. There are cheaper alternatives out there, but this is the one they’d want. Plus, it collapses to such a tiny size (by the way, get the smallest-sized one, which is 12″, because that’s all they need). This is a better gift than it sounds.

Price: $39.88 (link)

GREAT VALUE GEAR

The Real Deal: Field Notes from the Life of a Working Photographer by Joe McNally

Joe is one of the greatest storytellers anywhere, and he does it visually with his images and just as equally with his words, and they both come together in this book that’s half coffee-table book, half stories from the field, and fully awesome. It’s inspirational, often funny, insightful, and always intriguing. What a life this guy has lived. And of course, the images are nothing short of stunning. Any photographer would love to add this book to their collection.

Price: $50 (Print edition comes out January 25, 2022, but you can preorder it for the person on your gift list) (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 and ready to ship. They’re the magical unicorn of camera stores. Get them a gift card from here and they’ll follow you anywhere.

Price: Starting at $25 (link)

A Really Small, Simple Flash (Speedlight)

If you want to get something that will make you look like you spent a bundle, this may be the ticket. It’s actually a great deal. It’s a smallish, compact speedlight that does what every other speedlight does: it emits a bright flash of light. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the big expensive speedlights but, if they’re not into flash, they wouldn’t use all that stuff anyway. They will super-dig it, and dig you. Maybe a bit too much.

Price: Canon Speedlite EL-100: $149.00 (link); Nikon SB-300 Speedlight: $146.95 (link)

Think Tank Photo Camera Gear Backpack

I use Think Tank’s Airport Essentials backpack, and I love its size, weight, and the fact that it holds way more than it looks like it possibly could. This is perfect for photographers who love a backpack-style gear bag, but don’t want one of those giant monster-sized backpacks like Mr. Erik Kuna uses, because he carries the kitchen sink with him everywhere he goes, which is great for everyone around him, but it’s heavy as heck for him. It’s okay, because he’s “strong like Russian bear,” but for the rest of us, this Airport Essentials backpack is just the ticket (and fits in the overhead of even smaller planes).

Price: $199.75 (link)

Colorado Tripod Company Highline Ballhead

A buddy of mine bought this for me this year as a gift, and I have to tell you, I’m mightily impressed with its build quality, size, and weight. Just a beautifully built piece of essential photography gear that the person on your holiday list will love like you cannot believe. Get them the medium size with the knob clamp (comes in different colors, too). They run out of stock often, so don’t dilly-dally (I don’t even know what that means, but I’ve heard old people say that).

Price: $129 (link)

The 2022 Version of ON1 Effects Lightroom or Photoshop Plug-In

This is my new go-to plug-in when I want to add a special look or effect to my images. I start doing my standard editing stuff in Lightroom or Photoshop and then I launch this plug-in to add my “finishing moves.” It has a ton of built-in presets, so they don’t have to become an expert to get great looks. It’s pretty amazing what you can do in this plug-in and they’ll fall in love with it big time.

Price: $69.99 (link)

Note: KelbyOne Pro members can save 30% off their next ON1 purchase by clicking here to grab the discount code from our Discounts section on the KelbyOne site.

Send Them One of Your Prints

If you want to send them something very personal, this is it. This gift is something that’s unique, something they can’t get anywhere else, and something that means a lot to photographers. Go to bayphoto.com or to mpix.com (two great photo labs that I highly recommend), upload your photo, choose a large size (like a 16×24″ print), and the lab does the rest. You can even have it shipped directly to them (just tell them not to open until Christmas or Hanukkah or “Scott Day”). This is a can’t-miss gift.

Price: At Bay Photo Lab choose one of their 16×24″ Fine Art prints on Hahnemühle FineArt Baryta Satin paper: $63.10 (link)

At mpix.com choose one of their 16×24″ Giclee prints: $42.99 (link)

WWII Aviation Artwork, and the Stories Behind These Beautiful Birds by Joe Glyda

Joe is a wonderful top pro photographer, a brilliant storyteller, and a Photoshop whiz, and in this book he combines all three passions to create something very special for any photographer who’s into aviation photography. Each chapter is about a specific “War Bird,” and not only are the stories absolutely captivating and info-packed, but Joe also mixes in his own work, his own family historic photos, and archival photos. Best of all, he came up with a process in Photoshop to turn his photographs of these awesome planes into art. They look like they were painted on white seamless, but they still maintain their photographic quality. I honestly don’t know how Joe did it, but it makes for a striking book with incredible art, photography, and stories. This is marvelous.

Price: $95 (link)

Camera Mode Dial Cufflinks by Cufflinks, Inc.

Got kind of a nerdy shooter on your list? I have just the thing: how about some cufflinks that look like the mode dial from a camera? Come on, it reeks of “I’m a geek and proud of it.” Imagine them strolling into the party in their freshly pressed tux and all eyes are upon them as they deftly adjust their camera mode cufflinks, and everyone gasps and swoons, and…aw, who am I kidding? Not only do they not own a tux, they don’t even rent them. Still, it’ll make them smile and then imagine themselves strolling into the party in their freshly pressed…

Price: $55 (link)

One of My Fine-Art Prints

The gallery YellowKorner sells three of my fine-art prints of classic interiors at various sizes (you can get some really nice large sizes) and styles, and I for one would be honored if you saw fit to give one as a gift. Imagine how tickled I’d be if you saw fit to give three or four? Or even three or four hundred? The mind reels, doesn’t it? Anyway, it would make a great addition to any photography collection (said the artist, so his opinion is marginally biased). If you purchase one, please post a pic on social media, and tag me in it, so I can share it as well. 

Price: From $145 (link)

CHA-CHING!

Canon RF 14–35mm F4 L IS USM Lens

I know this is going to sound hard to believe, but I don’t buy a bunch of lenses. I have my go-to lenses that I rely on, but this year I actually bought two lenses, and this one is a peach (a peach, I tell ya!). One of my go-to lenses was my 16–35mm f/4, and you may have heard me raving about this lens over the years. I’d have kept right on using it too if it weren’t for this new awesome lens, which goes wider than 16mm, all the way down to 14mm. That means I don’t have to lug my 14mm prime lens with me any longer so, when I saw that, I couldn’t buy it fast enough. So great, so sharp, and made for Canon mirrorless. It’s ranked as one of the top “wished-for” lenses at B&H. 

Price: It’s not cheap at $1,699, but at least it’s worth it. They’ll love you to death if you get them this one! (link)

Tamron SP 150–600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2

This is the other lens I bought this year, and I wish I’d bought it sooner. I got this for shooting air shows but I can also use it for daytime sports or wildlife photography, and it’s size and weight make it ideal. It has fast focus, it looks great, it feels great in your hands, it’s really sharp, and you just can’t beat the price for this quality of a lens. My hats off to Tamron for what they did with this lens. This is a top gift idea; just so great for the money. 

Price: Canon: $1,399 (link); Nikon: $1,399 (link); Sony: Tamron doesn’t make a Sony version, but Sigma does. It’s $1,499. (link)

Xencelabs Pen Tablet Medium Bundle with Quick Keys

If the photographer on your gift list does any portrait retouching, this is the tool for them
(so they’d retouch using a pen and tablet rather than a mouse or trackpad). It’s a new graphics tablet I’ve been using, and they’re really well built, they use an industry standard 16:9 aspect ratio, and they come with extra goodies, such as multiple pens and a really nice carrying case. Best of all, they’re priced right. They will love, love, love it! 

Price: Medium Tablet Only: $279.99 (link); Medium Tablet Bundle with Quick Keys: $359.99 (link)

Westcott FJ400 Wireless Flash System

I mentioned this one last year and now I have three of them because they’re awesome. Even better than I was hoping and, again, the price is just incredible for what you get. They’re about the same price as a Nikon or Canon speedlight, which are around 60 watts, eat up batteries like crazy, and have pretty horrible user interfaces. This is 400 watts, has a large rechargeable battery, and you’re literally taking a small studio light with you, wireless, anywhere you go. Can’t say enough about ’em, and had to list ’em again this year ’cause they’re one of the deals of the year. 

Price: FJ400 Strobe 400Ws with AC/DC Battery: $599.90 (link); FJ-X2m Universal Wireless Flash Trigger: $99.90 (link)

Canon EOS R6 Mirrorless Camera

This was on my list last year, but it hadn’t come out yet, so I preordered it just based on its specs. It’s everything I hoped it would be and more. Hands-down the best Canon camera I’ve ever used. I absolutely love it! It has the sensor of the much more expensive Canon EOS-1D X Mark III so the low-noise performance is insane, but it’s got all the features of Canon’s latest mirrorless line, and a price that’s actually mind-blowing for what you get. Perfect for the Canon shooter on your holiday gift list. They’ll lose their minds when you give them this! 

Price: $2,499 (body only) (link)

Nikon Z9 Mirrorless Camera

While I don’t have this camera myself, I’ve talked with friends in the industry who have shot with it, and they’re losing their minds over it. The specs on this camera are just through the roof, and while it’s probably the best camera Nikon has ever made, there are folks out there saying it’s the best camera ever made, period. It’s expensive, but it’s a top-pro camera. It’s expected to ship around mid-December so if you’re going to get the photographer on your Holiday gift list one of these puppies, you better get on the preorder list now. Warning: If you get them this, they’ll know at that moment that you truly love them. They may not reciprocate that love, but at least they’ll get a good photo of you crying. 

Price: $5,496.95 (body only) (link)

STUFF FROM US

A One-Year KelbyOne Membership

If they love online training, we have a special membership level that just focuses on the online classes, giving them access to almost 400 classes, and it goes for just $9.99 a month. Give ’em a 12-month Plus membership for $96, and they’ll love you all year. If you really want to bowl them over, get them a KelbyOne Pro membership; it has more classes (900+), more features, and an incredible worldwide community of photographers helping each other get better. It’s for accelerated learning, and they’ll have full access to everything. They’ll love you (and so will I). 

Price: Plus Membership: $9.99/month; $96/annually

Pro Membership: $19.99/month; $199/annually (link)

My New Lightroom Classic Book

This is a major update to my bestselling The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic Book, the one used in colleges and universities around the world to teach Lightroom. This latest edition has all the new masking features included in it (I held up the book from going to press until I could get all that awesome new stuff in there). But beyond just the new features, I’ve updated, improved, enhanced, and added so much to the book. They’ll learn a lot, and they’ll love what they can do with the new masking features (and I have some cool tricks on different ways to use the masking). 

Price: Print: $49.99 (Amazon shows it hitting December 17, 2021); Kindle: $29.99 (available now) (link)

Cool KelbyOne Swag

We have all sorts of T-shirts, mugs, hats, masks, and well, you name it, for the KelbyOne fan on your list, and best of all, 100% of the profits from the sales of K1 swag go to the Springs of Hope Orphanage in Nakuru, Kenya, so you’re getting a great gift and helping some great kids. Plus, you can get 20% off your first order.

Price: Starting at $15.95 (link)

As an extra-special bonus, I asked Erik Kuna to share with us some of his favorite gear for the astrophotographer on your gift list. Astrophotography is all the rage, so the odds are even higher this year that you know someone who is into shooting the night sky.

ASTROPHOTOGRAPHY GEAR GUIDE

By Erik Kuna

STOCKING STUFFERS

EverBrite Rechargeable Headlamp

Okay, I know this isn’t the coolest piece of gear, but it’s one that will definitely come in handy. There’s one thing we can count on with night photography: It’s going to be dark! If you’re hiking in or out of a remote spot, you might need a bright white light; or if you don’t want to attract bugs, you might need a bright green light; or if you want to save your night vision while still being able to see your gear, you might want a red light. Well, this headlamp has all three, plus it has a memory mode to remember your last setting. As a bonus, it comes with a red tail light so people can see you from behind. It even has an SOS mode with an attached whistle, just in case. If that wasn’t enough, it has a rechargeable battery to save on battery replacement costs. 

Price: $17.99 (link)

HotHands Hand Warmers (20 Pair)

Here’s another one of those not-so-cool pieces of gear, but this one is hot! There’s nothing worse than shooting at night when the outside temperature quickly reaches the dew point. What happens next ruins our photos: Our lenses fog up with dew and we’ve lost the night (well, at least the next hour while we try to heat the lens back up). For just a few cents, we can rubber band a piece of mind around our lens hoods. Putting these hand warmers on the end of your lens at the beginning of the night will ensure that you’ll never have to deal with this headache again. I speak from experience (a.k.a. failure). 

Price: $17.98 (link)

Gaia GPS

You show up at the parking lot with a weak cell signal, turn on your headlamp, and start the mile hike in, but how do you get there safely? Halfway to your destination, your cell signal drops and you’re lost. Worse yet, what happens when you have to hike out at 2 a.m. in the pitch black. That’s where Gaia GPS can save the day or just keep you safe and secure. The GPS signal on your iOS or Android device works off satellites and can track your location even without a network signal. Just download your offline maps, start up the app, and have it track you from your car. Now, you’ll never get lost again. 

Price: $39.99/year (link)

GREAT VALUE GEAR

ON1 NoNoise AI Plug-In for Lightroom Classic and Photoshop

As night photographers, one thing we all have to deal with when it comes to shooting everything from Milky Way landscapes to deep-space astrophotography is noise. Luckily, we have some great tools for dealing with noise in our images, even on our RAW files before we process them. ON1 NoNoise AI is one of those must-have products, wiping out noise from your RAW files, making images shot at 6,400 ISO look as if they were shot at 1,600 ISO. The best part is that you still get a RAW DNG file after it processes out the noise. Did I mention it’s super fast too? 

Price: $69.99 (link)

Note: KelbyOne Pro members can save 30% off their next ON1 purchase by clicking here to grab the discount code from our Discounts section on the KelbyOne site.

Lume Cube Panel Mini LED and Light Stand

It’s best to get the shot in one exposure, but if you don’t light paint your Milky Way landscapes, you’re probably going to end up with a black silhouette. Light painting with bright lights, however, can be inconsistent as well as annoying to other photographers. That’s where using very dim LED lights on light stands can add just enough light to balance landscape and Milky Way exposures over the 15–25 seconds it takes. The Lume Cube Panel Mini is perfect for this application. It can blend between 3200–5600K and dim all the way down to just 1% (which is where I usually have it set, with the diffusion on). Couple that with the Lume Cube light stand that folds up to fit in any camera bag, and you have the best portable low-level light-painting package. 

Price: Lume Cube Panel Mini: $59.99 (link); Lume Cube Light Stand: $59.99 (link)

MIOPS RemotePlus Camera Remote

Do you have reliable Wi-Fi control in your camera? If so, this might not be for you. If you don’t, however, this piece of equipment is worth it, especially if you’ll be using that brand-new iOptron star tracker in the Cha-Ching! section on the next page. Yes, we can use wired triggers or the self-timer, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned the hard way is that any time you have to touch the camera, you introduce shake, or run the risk of bumping the tripod out of alignment. This piece of gear triggers the camera wirelessly via an app available on iOS or Android, but it does so much more. You can program it to trigger by sound, lightning, or a laser beam for remote shooting, time-lapses, HDR photos, or timed releases. 

Price: $199 (link)

CHA-CHING!

Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 Lens

The number-one thing you need to do to create awesome Milky Way landscapes is capture light, and not bright light; we’re talking starlight! That’s where a wide-aperture lens is a must. A wide-angle f/2.8 is the best place to start. It lets in tons of light and allows you to keep the shutter open longer without star trails. The Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 is a good balance between the two, while also being affordable and accessible to most photographers. 

Price: Canon Mirrorless: $399 (link); Nikon Mirrorless: $399 (link); Sony Mirrorless: $599 (link)

iOptron SkyGuider Pro EQ Camera Mount

This is the secret weapon for astrophotography…period! If you want those great dynamic shots of deep-space nebulae or minutes-long tracked shots of the Milky Way, you need a star tracker. There are a bunch to choose from, and many are designed for large telescopes or complex rigs. Maybe you just want to use your DSLR and mirrorless gear you already have in your bag, and that’s where the iOptron SkyGuider Pro EQ Camera Mount comes in. Once you lock the polar scope on Polaris, you can track anything in the sky over minutes rather than seconds without any star trails. It’s scientifically magical. 

Price: $488 (link)

The Black Friday sales are here (well, it is Black Friday), and so are a bunch of cool deals. Here’s some I dug up from around the Web, and I included our KelbyOne deal links as well (and we’d love to have you join as a member – 2022 is going to be an incredible year of learning). Anyway, on to the deals (and I’ve got a bunch!):

Gravity Backdrops are 50% Off

These are the hand-painted backdrops I use myself. They are awesome, and they are 50% Off PLUS free shipping (and they were already a deal for this level of quality).

Here’s their link.

KelbyOne Pro Memberships (our best price of the year)

If you’ve always thought of becoming a part of the KelbyOne Online Educational Community, this is the best time ever, at our best price of the year. Just $149 for a full year, full access to everything (over 800+ courses, and thousands and thousands of lessons, plus a subscription to Photoshop User magazine).

Here’s the link.

On1 Software Plugins for Lightroom & Photoshop

They’re offering 30% off across the board on their award-winning plug-ins (I use their Effects 2022, their AI Portrait 2022, and their HDR 2022. Erik uses their AI Noise big time for his astrophotography).

Here’s the link.

Get a Black Friday Deal On Some Platypod Gear!

Everybody wants some Platypod gear, and they have a bunch of Black Friday deals.

Here’s the link to their deals.

Topaz Plug-ins For Photoshop & Lightroom (and a code for better than Black Friday pricing)

Here’s a discount code you can use that will get you 15% off Topaz Labs Black Friday prices (and that should give you the lowest price I’ve ever seen on Topaz plug-ins).

The code (at checkout) is GROSTAMI but you have to use THIS LINK to get this extra 15% off double-savings deal.

Here’s some of their bundle deals: Their Image Bundle, which include Denoize AI, their absolutely killer sharpening plug-in (Kuna swears by it) and Gigapixel AI is usually $259.97, but it’s on sale for just $84.99. Their “Everything” bundle (which includes all their plug-ins) is normally $559.96, but for Black Friday it’s $169.98.

B&H Photo Black Friday Deals

And they have a BUNCH of them!!! The best camera store in the world!

Here’s the link.

Flash and Lighting Deals From Westcott

They’ve got their deals separated into handy little categories, and they’ve got lots of great gear (I use their FJ-400s strobes and their FJ 80 flashes, along with their Rapid Box series of soft boxes for flash and studio lights. Great stuff and insanely good prices).

Here’s the link to their deals

50% Off All DXO Plug-ins (including the Nik Collection)

That’s one heck of a Black Friday deal, and some great plug-ins.

Here’s the link.

Black Friday deals at MPIX.com Photo Lab

If you’ve been wanting to make a photo book, or some Holiday cards, this is for you! (Expires tonight).

Here’s the link

Photo Mechanic Black Friday sales

It’s the “draw full size previews” champ, and choice of working sports photographers everywhere (I bought it myself, and use it daily). The deals are below.

Here’s the link.

Our “Holiday Gear Guide” Episode of “The Grid” is Here!

If you’re not sure what to buy the photographer on your Holiday Gift List, here’s a whole show packed full of ideas, with me and my guest Terry White (who always has gift ideas nobody else is covering). You can watch the episode below – tons of great ideas, from stocking stuffers on up. 

Much more coming next Monday!

Next Monday is “Cyber Monday” and Larry Becker and I are hosting our annual “Super Cyber” 10-minute only deals live broadcast at the top of every hour. We asked some of our friends in the industry to offer a crazy insane deals on their gear but just for 10-minutes only, and their deals are just ludicrous. More details here on Monday, but make sure you don’t miss it – the deals they offer are just nuts!

Have a great Holiday weekend everybody. Happy Shopping!

–Scott

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Tomorrow’s we kick off the Photoshop World Conference — the first ever virtual edition, but we’ve worked hard to make it as close to the in-person event as possible. Today we have the pre-conference workshops and tomorrow we kick things off with our opening keynote with a presentation from Adobe. Keeping with tradition, we do have a silly, (I mean awesome) opening movie to kick the event off, and we have everything from the Guru Awards to Midnight Madness, to the attendee party, and so much more. If you haven’t signed up – it’s not too late. Head over to PhotoshopWorld.com for tickets and details. 3-days, 3-full-tracks (Lightroom, Photoshop, and photography), and it’s going to an incredible educational experience all the way around. Hope you can make it.

Apparently, My R6 Was Pretty Messed Up!

Here’s a quick update on my Canon EOS R6’s persistent Error 70 issue. Even after the firmware update to the camera (which I had hoped would solve the problem), it still happened again to me numerous times while I was shooting the Oshkosh Airshow. So, I contacted Canon and they had me try the standard stuff (take the battery out, put it back in, try a different memory card. The process of elimination stuff) and finally when nothing worked they said I’d better send it in for repair (it was still well under warranty).

From the research I’ve done online, there are not many folks out there who have experienced this same issue (figures), so there weren’t many options or fixes or workarounds out there other than sending it back to Canon, so I popped it back in the original box and off it went.

Well, Canon turned it around pretty quickly (like 3-days), and they said it there were “Multiple errors causing power issues,” and they replaced the Main Board and the CMOS Sensor Assembly. So, hopefully now we’re back up and running (won’t know for a few day because of Photoshop World kicking off tomorrow), but that’s it below dressed in factory plastic and it’s ready to rock! I’m not expecting any more issue, but if somehow there is, they will hear my screaming up at the Int’l Space Station. ;-)

My New Lens Is Here!

I placed the pre-order the day it was announced, and just a few days ago I got a notice from B&H Photo (greatest camera store in the world), that my new 14-35mm f/4 RF-mount (for Canon mirrorless) was on its way, and it just arrived. It’ll be a few days before I get a chance to shoot with it, but the fact that it’s 14mm on the super wide end is what made me pull the trigger and pick it up. What a fantastic range (thought that’s probably the last I’ll use my 14mm f/2.8). Very excited about it, and more on it once I get a chance to shoot with it.

OK, my camera’s working again, and I’ve got a new lens, but first – Photoshop World – then we play! :)

Looking forward to seeing everybody this week at the conference. We have really put a ton into it and honoring the traditions and fun of the in-person event and I hope you learn a lot, laugh a lot, and make some new friends in the community. It’s going to be an amazing week! :)

Cheers,

Scott

Well, on Friday I talked about how I had to upgrade my Canon EOS R mirrorless’ firmware (which is an upgrade to the software inside your hardware to fix problems mostly, but also sometimes to add new features). Today, we’re looking at how to do that (in this case, for Canon cameras, but most cameras use a similar method to what I’m going to show you).

STEP ONE: Pop a memory card into your camera and Format that card. Remember, this is going to erase any images you have on that card, so make sure whatever you had on that card is backed up somewhere. Once it’s formatted, go ahead and pop that memory card out of your camera.

STEP TWO: Go to the Website of the company that makes the piece of equipment you’re updating (In my case, it was Canon), and download the free firmware update right on to your computer. In this case, Canon even has a big red “Firmware Update Now Available” badge right there next to a picture of the camera, so they must really want you to update it, right? Click the gray “Drivers & Downloads” to download the firmware to your computer.

STEP THREE: Connect a memory card reader to your computer, and pop that memory card you just formatted (back in step one), into the reader so it mounts on your desktop. Now take the firmware file your downloaded to your computer (see above left), and drag it onto the memory card. Don’t put it inside a folder on your memory card. Don’t drag the whole folder over there, either. Just take that one file (in this case, the file with .FIR as it’s file extension) and drag JUST THAT ONE FILE over onto your memory card. It should be right on the root level, so don’t drag it inside anything — just leave it out there on its own. I’m over-explaining this because this is the step where people seem to mess up. “Should I drag it inside that folder?” No! Just leave it right there at the root level.

STEP FOUR: Now that your firmware update file is on the memory card, go ahead and eject it from your card reader, and pop it back in your camera again. Go to the Settings menu and find the Firmware menu (shown here, where it’s under that “wrench” menu (for lack of a better term); in the 6th set of menus (seen above).

STEP FIVE: The last step is to click on the Firmware menu and that takes you to another screen asking if you want to update the firmware, and then finally it shows you the firmware it sees on your memory card (as shown above). Choose your new firmware update from the menu; click the OK button, and in just a minute or two your firmware update will be complete. That’s it. :)

Hope you found that helpful. :)

Coming Next Month…The “Outdoor Photography Conference”

We’re less than a month away from our two-day, two track, online event for outdoor photographers, and we want you to be a part of it.

Scott Kelby: Super cool guy just in general, so there’s that.  
Erin Babnik: Leading Photographic Artist, Specializing in Landscape
Richard Bernabe: Landscape Master, Contributor to National Geographic
Gabriel Biderman: Night Photographer 
Dave Black: Adventure Sports Photographer
Tom Bol: Adventure Sports & Travel photographer
Dalton Hamm: Underwater Photographer 
Karen Hutton: Landscape & Travel Photographer
Jackie Kramer: Natural World & Floral Photographer
Erik Kuna: AstroPhotographer
Elia Locardi: Internationally Acclaimed Professional Travel Photographer
Kristi Odom: Internationally Acclaimed Photographer
Juan Pons: Nature & Wildlife Photographer
Rick Sammon: Canon Explorer of Light & Travel Photography Expert
Deborah Sandidge: Landscape Photographer 
Tyler Stableford: Lifestyle Photographer 
Tracy Sweeney: Family & Underwater Photographer 
Terry White: Adobe’s Worldwide Photography & Photoshop Evangelist

We have an absolutely incredible list of instructors, and it’s going to a very special educational event. Here’s the link for details (if you sign up early, you save a bundle!). Hope you can make it.

Here’s to a great week! A happy, healthy, and creative one at that! :)

-Scott

OK, I’m still dealing with the error problem I’m getting on my new Canon EOS R6, but I think I may have a found a solution, or a culprit, or some way of moving forward (here’s the link for more on this “Err 70” problem I’m having which shuts my camera down during my shoot).

1. Could it be a compatibility issue with my new Tamron lens?

There was a compatibility issue early on with the EOS R6 camera body and certain Tamron lenses (including my new SP 150-600mm G2 lens). So, I contacted Tamron and they checked my lens’ serial number and were able to confirm it already has the firmware update that makes it compatible with the Canon EOS R6, so it’s not that. They did offer to have me send in the lens and they would inspect all the connections and such (no charge), but I don’t think that’s the issue, so unless I hit a road block and that’s the only possible solution, I won’t need to be shipping the lens to them. High-five to Tamron for the awesome customer service either way.

2. What about my Canon EOS R6’s firmware?

This is what I think the most likely culprit is. I checked my new R6’s firmware version and even though I just got the camera recently, it was still on the original 1.0 firmware. It’s now up to firmware version 1.3.1 and I found an article where it mentions the err 70 issue, and that this addresses it. I also heard from a reader who said his err 70 issue went away after he updated his firmware, so yesterday I updated the camera’s firmware to the latest (1.3.1), and I’m hoping it fixes the issue. More on this as I keep shooting with it, but I’m hopeful.

3. Another scary possibility

I also heard from a repair tech who used to work full-time as a Canon tech guy, and he said,

…the error you experience (error 70) is almost always due to a defective main board in the camera. The camera may work on and off but the problem will always return, often the problem correlates to a defective memory buffer or issues within the mainboard related to power (think EOS Rebel 70D). The only way to get rid of it is to send to Canon for service.”

I hope that’s not the case, but at least since he said that, I’m mentally prepared to send the unit back if need be, but I’m hoping my updating the firmware to 1.3.1 will have done the trick. I’ll let you know if it doesn’t.

Thanks to everyone who has offered suggestions and tried to help me figure this out. There’s not many photographers out there experiencing this issue, so while it’s not widespread, it certainly is frustrating, but I will get it figured out and get back to enjoying the R6. Outside of “Err 70” it is, hands-down, the best camera I’ve ever used by far, and I am super digging it. All the more reason why I want to get it working right. :)

Have a great weekend, everybody! Wishing you good heath and happiness. :)

-Scott

PROGRAMMING UPDATE: That TV show called “The Great Create” where I compete against another photographer, is now live. You can catch it right here.

On Friday, I gave you my initial field report on the Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 lens, which I bought specifically for shooting airshows. After shooting more with it this weekend (as one of the official photographers for the Sun n’ Fun Aerospace Expo airshow), I like it even more. Super sharp, responsive, feels great, not too heavy — I’m loving it.

However, the same issue cropped up with the AutoFocus button turning off on the lens again, but outside of that minor nuisance, the lens is just an incredible bargain for the money (here’s the link to my post on it from Friday). 

Today I’m sharing my field test on my new camera body, the Canon EOS R6, and I’m going to cut right to what it does for aviation photography (and this would also work for wildlife photography); that just absolutely blew me away. Check this out:

  1. Your point your lens in the general direction of where you see the jet in the sky (as seen here, where the jet is still WAY far away).

2. It recognizes the moving object, snaps focus, and locks right on to it (as seen here where five focus points all hit right on it), and it now tracks along with the jet as it moves. Come on — that is crazy!!! It locks on pretty darn fast, too!

NOTE: That shot above is not a keeper — the jet is too tiny in the frame, and I don’t want to have to crop in that far to get the jet larger. It’s not going to have the sharpness we’re all looking for if you crop in that much). This is just an example of how far away the jets are when I first start trying to lock focus onto one. Once the focus is locked on and tracking with the jet, then I pan along with the jet as it gets closer and closer. When the jet gets nice and big in the viewfinder, I’m already locked on, and all I have to do is hit the shutter button to start taking shots.

Above: This is an un-cropped shot and where I’m trying to get to as far as filling the frame with the jet. Now, this shot actually does need cropping but not to make it bigger. The front of the jet is too close to the edge of the frame, so trimming the back in some would help it look more balanced). But to get to here and have the jet in razor sharp focus, I start focusing and locking on while the jet is still far away and small in the frame like you saw previously. When it starts getting closer and much larger in the frame — that’s when I start shooting.

Also, to give you those two viewfinder examples above, I had to create those viewfinders myself and put my shots inside them (thank you, Photoshop), so you could get a good idea of what it looks like while you’re actually shooting with it. Otherwise, I’d have to shoot with my iPhone’s camera stuck up to the R6’s viewfinder, and well, that all sounds like a lot more work than I’m willing to do. LOL!

That’s me holding the R6 and Tamron 150-600mm from our 2nd floor team photographer’s home base at the airshow. Photo by Erik “The Rocketman” Kuna.
Above: A P-40 Warhawk — another classic WWII wonder, shot at 1/125 of a second to keep some prop blur. My panning technique ain’t the greatest, so I don’t often try to go any slower.

The biggest thing for me was…

…I got the most number of in-focus shots I’ve ever gotten at any airshow, period! It almost felt like cheating. Not enough for me to turn these auto tracking features off, mind you, but still. I showed some other guys from the team how well the tracking worked, and they were as amazed as I was (I probably sold two or three units while I was there. Canon should give me a commission).

This miracle of focus is a simple combination of just four settings on the camera:

(1) High speed continuous shooting mode (burst mode)

(2) Switching from Single Shot focus (for non-moving objects) to Servo AF mode (which is the Continuous Auto Focus Mode)

(3) Using the Large Zone AF Horizontal Auto Focus mode (great for tracking objects that move horizontally across the frame).

(4) Using the “Case 2” Focus mode, which is for tracking moving objects while ignoring obstacles that might get in the way (like another jet passing by).

Note: Tip of the hat to my wonderful techie/nerdy friends Larry Grace (President of the ISAP – International Society of Aviation Photography, and one of the top aviation shootesr out there) and my Grid co-host and serious techie wonderland Erik Kuna, as they helped me with some of my settings on this new set-up, and for aviation photography in general, so a big shoutout to them both.

I like the way you have four WWII Warbirds way up high with two more modern jets below.

I will say, when you first start shooting aviation with an Electronic Viewfinder, it’s a little weird because as you crank off a rapid series of shots, each one appears for a moment on screen inside your viewfinder. This is both a blessing and a curse (more on the blessing part in a moment), but it does take a little getting used to, as it feels almost like it’s stuttering, while you’re tracking the jets, but when you stop and review your shots, you’ll see it’s clearly not. Definitely a different experience from shooting with a DSLR, but you get used it quickly.

Above: Here’s the whole rig for reference. The lens hood makes it look big and menacing but without all the weight. It’ll still clear a crowd when you come walking up with one.

Something Else I Loved

Another great feature of the R6 (and the blessing I mentioned above) is that you don’t need to pull the camera away from your eye and bring up the images on the screen on the back of your camera. Your images, as you take them, appear right on your viewfinder, and you go back and review your images (basically, you can “chimp”) through your viewfinder, and the images look large and bright and crisp even if it’s incredibly bright and sunny out. You try this a little bit, and you’ll find yourself looking at the back of your camera less and less. It’s really a huge advantage for anybody shooting outdoors in daylight.

I did run into a problem

So I’m up on this 1-story platform out near the taxiway they had set up for the official airshow photographers, and I’m warming up doing some slow shutter speed panning because we’re shooting prop planes, and I’m excited because I haven’t really had a chance to shoot my favorite WW-II prop driven fighter/bomber, the P-51 Mustang, and it’s coming up next. Then this happens:

This is not what you want to see during your shoot, but I quickly followed the instructions because now the P-51 is taking off, and I don’t want to miss it. I missed it. Turning it on/off didn’t do the trick. I reinstalled the battery numerous times — that didn’t do it. There go two or three more passes of the P-51, and I’m still futzing around trying to get the camera to come on. All I get is this screen or a completely black screen (as if the camera is off). While I’m doing this, Erik pulls out his photo and looks up what an Error 70 is, and it says it’s a “data error,” so I pop out each of the memory cards, one by one, using the process of elimination. Finally, it fires up, and I think it’s fixed. I’m wrong. It goes right back out again. I switched cards again. No luck. Finally, I popped in a completely different new fresh battery, and that did the trick. Of course, I completely missed the entire P-51 routine and photo pass and everything, but at least my camera was working again.

It happened the next day again. It happened again on Sunday during the Warbirds demo. It happened just now as I’m writing this article (I had to double-check something in the viewfinder). I popped a different battery in, and now for whatever reason, it’s working again.

So, at this point, I feel like either:

a) Something is wrong with a number of my Canon-brand batteries (these weren’t knock-offs, except for one Erik gave me Friday afternoon but that one worked fine), or

b) There’s something wrong with my R6.

Either way, the last thing you want is your camera going down in the middle of the shoot, and just putting “Error 70” on the back of the camera, and not at least saying what the issue might be, is just this side of useless. It wouldn’t haven’t cost Canon anything extra to put “Error 70: Data Error,” or “Battery error” so at least I could also check my memory cards or battery issue, which they could have said on screen as well. That’s just straight-up lousy User Interface design.

Anyway, I’ll be spending some time this week trying to figure this Error 70 problem out. I’ll search for Firmware updates and the such, but that was pretty aggravating, to say the least, and obviously, I’m still dealing with this issue. After searching online, I see a few other people have had this same error, but not a ton of folks, so the quick answer isn’t easily found out there.

Above: The US Air Force Thunderbirds did a quick fly over in formation on their way to a different airshow in Cocoa Beach, Florida.

Back to Good Stuff

I used both super-fast UHS-II SD Lexar memory cards in the R6 and some of my older slower Lexar cards as well (not crazy slow, but not nearly as fast as those newer UHS-II cards), and I never “filled the buffer” or got any stuttering, which was great. I felt I could fire as long as I wanted without hiccuping, and I was shooting in Raw the whole time. Maybe I just didn’t hold the shutter button down long enough (LOL!), but I never had a single buffer issue the entire two days I was there.

There are lots of other great features about the Canon R6 (dual card slots, built-in focus stacking, super incredible high ISO performance, in-body stabilization, etc.), but for what I was doing (shooting jets and prop planes streaking across the sky), I only used a minimal amount of what the R6 can do. I never even swiveled out the LCD screen, for goodness sake (my single favorite feature for shooting landscape and travel and automotive). So, this wasn’t’t a full review of the camera and all its features — by now you’ve probably read and memorized all the specs — but I wanted to give you a real-world look at what it’s like shooting aviation with it out in the field.

More to come on this new rig as I get a chance to shoot with it a bit more with different genres and shooting situations. Still, I can tell you, at this point, I am absolutely in love with the combination of that Tamron 150-600mm paired with the Canon EOS R6 for aviation photography. For the killer prices of the two, their smaller sizes and weights, it’s a tough combo to beat. I’ve just got to get that Error 70 issue addressed (and I will, one way or another).

The Sun n’ Fun Aerospace Expo Rocks!

The Sun n’ Fun Aerospace Expo is one of America’s largest airshows, and it’s so well run from top to bottom and just so much fun for everybody. If you haven’t been, it’s worth the trip down (and there’s LOTS of on-site camping right in the middle of it all).

A special thanks to the awesome folks at Sun n’ Fun for having me on their official photography team this year, with a special thanks to the wonderful Joe Caccioppo and the great crew he put together. Such a great guy and team leader. So organized and helpful (he really knows this stuff inside and out). Also, the folks at Sun n’ Fun fly-in set up the photographers for success, providing a fantastic home base and lots of ways to make great shots, and I can tell you, all the show photographers sure appreciated it big time. It was a treat!

Anyway, I hope you found that field report, helpful. If you have any questions, you can hit me up here on the comments, or bop over to my Facebook page where I’ll be answering questions over there as well. Here’s to a great week — hope yours is a safe and happy one!

-Scott

Close