Category Archives Reviews

Camera reviews are among the most-broken things in photography today, and it was part of our topic yesterday on ‘The Grid’ (with our in-studio guest, the always awesome Rick Sammon joining Erik Kuna and me). It got a lot of folks talking, and a surprising amount agreeing as well (which getting two people to agree on anything these days, about any topic at all, is like squeezing toothpaste back into the tube).

We also asked our viewers how they wound up on the brand of camera they currently use, and there were some interesting stories. Give it a listen or watch below if you get a sec today or this weekend, and feel free to drop any comments here, or over on my Facebook page.

Here’s wishing you a really fun, safe, happy weekend. :)

Best,

Big Chungus

P.S. Yesterday I posted the list of classes on the Lightroom Training Track at this summer’s Photoshop World Conference in Orlando. Here’s the link if you’re into Lightroom.

Hi gang — I’m pretty excited about this one — it’s called “Grids” and I’ve been using for about a month now and I’m totally and hopefully in love — mostly because every other desktop Instagram solution I’ve used has always had a “gotcha” — some key thing that was missing that made it pretty much unusable and I always wound up going back to the Instagram App until now.

Here’s what it looks like on your computer:

Above: When you launch the app it shows you your feed, but really nice and big (much larger than you’d see on your phone or even your iPad — it’s really beautiful and the best way I’ve ever seen to experience Instagram). Of course, you can access your own profile and images (like mine above). You access things like posting from your desktop from the pop-down menu to the right of your profile photo.

PLUS: when you’re looking at your main feed, it shows Instagram Stories across the top, just like the app. But bigger.

Above: When you choose “Add New Post” here’s the posting window that appears. You can drag and drop your photo onto it, or click the Choose Photo/Video button to navigate to it. You type in your Caption here, too.

Above: You can add your caption info; tag people; add a location (it brings up a pop-up search where you type in a location like you have in the Instagram app), and you can crop your image Square, Rectangular or crop by dragging out over the area you want to appear, like I’m doing here. When you’re done, hit post. Boom. Done.

Is there anything missing?
Well…there’s just one little thing. It’s minor, but if they added this, it would be 100% — it doesn’t suggest #hashtags or show recently used hashtags like the Instagram app does. You can still type them in like always — it just doesn’t help, or share stats of which hashtag are most often used. Outside of that small nitpick — this app is gold. Gold I tell ya!

Cost: Free download for viewing Instagram on your desktop, but there’s an in-app purchase for $7.99 for posting from the desktop and other “pro” features. Worth every penny and then some!
For: Mac and Windows

I am super digging this — so happy to finally have an Instagram Desktop app that really works, and it’s free (or really cheap, depending on which features you need).

Download it here.

Hope you found that helpful (and hope you’re following me on Instagram where I share my travel photography images – I’m @scottkelby).

Best,

-Scott

P.S. Yesterday I got a new Porkpie “Little Squealer!” snare, and it sounds absolutely awesome! Saw rave reviews online about it, and they were right. Took it home last night and couldn’t stop playing it! Just the best (especially for the money). Here’s an iPhone pic of it when it came in yesterday. 

 

Hi Gang — and welcome to a totally awesome Monday! On Saturday, I shot with the Falcons Crew (three of the best guys, and lights out shooters, you’d ever want to meet: Jimmy Cribb, Michael Benford, and Lynn Bass) for the NFL Divisional Playoff game between the Falcons and the Seahawks (and the Falcons rocked it with a big win!).

I brought my standard remote camera rig (more on that in a moment), but I wanted to try something new for shooting goal line stands from really down low, which is a remote camera rig (Platypod Pro Max, 3leggedthing Airhed Neo Ballhead) but I did it by controlling the shoot from my iPhone using Tethertools “Case Air” Wireless Tethering System.

The advantage is that I can set the rig down on the ground, and then see a live view of the field from my iPhone. I can change settings, set my focal point, do a time lapse, and even fire the camera all from my iPhone. The images go straight into my phone, so I could share them almost instantly if need be.  Here’s a closer look at the rig:

Above: The Case Air is that little unit sitting on top of my camera, in the hot shoe mount. It plugs into your camera’s mini-USB port (well, on my camera anyway, which is a 5D Mark III), and that’s the whole set-up hardware wise. Then you download the free Case Air app for your iPhone. The Case Air creates its own closed wireless network which you connect to (just takes a few seconds), and then you see what your camera is seeing, right on your app.

Above: The Falcons are lining up for an extra point when I took this shot using the Case Air. It was at that moment that I realized that a 14mm lens is WAY too wide for this task. Needs to be at least a 24-70mm, which is what I’ll try next week. This way, I can keep my 70-200mm ready for a pass to either edge, and the Case Air covers the center of the field (though I’m set up off center here, I won’t be next time).

We’re generally not allowed to lay down in the end zone (kneeling is fine), and the PocketWizard Route that I use for the player intros would work here too. It’s probably more responsive than the Case Air, but without lying on the ground (which I do in rare instances), the Case Air gives you a perfect way to set-up and focus the camera before the play. I can tell you — this is probably the last thing the folks at Tethertools ever imagined this being used for, but I wanted to try it anyway.

PROS: It’s super lightweight; it’s very cleverly designed, and all connects in seconds, and in the studio and for this field test I had zero problems getting it to work. I just hooked it up and it worked. The software is great, and the whole thing is fun, and I can go straight from my iPhone to the Web. Social Media folks for teams would eat this up! Plus, it’s only $149, which is around the price of just 1 of the 2 PocketWizard Plus IIIs that you’d need to fire a remote camera in an environment like this.

CONS: It was never designed for this. It’s really for wireless tethering in the studio or for portraits on location, or for a second camera behind the bride and groom during the ceremony. Because everything’s moving via wireless, the images have to transfer from the camera to the iPhone, so if you shoot a burst of images (like we do in football) you don’t see the results right away — you see a spinning status wheel as images are coming in, so you have to wait a minute to see if you “got the shot.”

Speaking of PocketWizard Plus IIIs
My regular remote camera shoot for the intros, which is usually a no-brainer at this point…wasn’t.

Above: My standard rig (except this was my 3rd camera, so it’s a Canon 5D Mark III — usually a Canon 1Dx). PocketWizard Plus III on top sitting in the hot shoe mount. Connected to my camera’s Remote Shutter Release port via a cable. 14mm lens on the camera (perfect for this); an Oben ballhead (got it from B&H), and a Platypod Pro Max plate holding it all steady.

Above: You can see my small rig over on the right, to the left of that Falcon’s logo, which soon will be spitting out fire and smoke, which is one of the reasons why you need a remote camera — you might burst into flames.

Above: Here’s the view from the camera itself. I do lots of test shots before the players come out to make sure everything’s working. The position seems pretty perfect, and it’s firing off test shots (I can see the little light on the top of the PocketWizard, and I see the image appear on the back of the screen, so even though I’m not down there on the ground, I can see it’s firing.

Above: I have a PocketWizard Plus III with me out at the center of the field to trigger that remote camera; it’s in my Hot Shoe mount, so when I fire my camera, it automatically fires the remote. At least, that’s the way it’s supposed to work, but on Saturday it only fired once — just this one picture above, and it never fired again. I have no idea why. Maybe I knocked the remote as we shifted positions after the cheerleaders came out, and the connection wasn’t solid — I don’t know — but I only got this one shot, which is pretty much worthless. This same exact rig worked perfectly at the Dolphins game down in Miami just a few weeks ago. The shame is — the positioning was on the money (at least I know for next week, right?).

Above: This was taken with my main camera with a 70-200mm — I darkened the scene except where I put that red circle so you can see where my remote camera was positioned. Oh well, it happens.

So, as far as Remote Cameras go, it was a miss and a single. I proved the Case Air can work even in an environment I doubt it was ever designed to work in, but I used a wide lens and didn’t have the one I needed with me. Luckily, I get to try again for the NFC Championship Game in Atlanta next week.

So, that’s a little behind the scenes, and a field report on the Case Air. Here’s a link if you want more details on it (and I give it a big thumbs up overall for an affordable, solid wireless tethering system.

Hope you all have a great Monday (yes, it’s Monday and it’s going to be great!). :)

Best,

-Scott

 

 

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Above: My MacBook Pro in the photo workroom, secured with “The Ledge” and cable lock.

A couple of weeks ago I covered the Bucs home game vs. the LA Rams, and I tried out a new lock for my MacBook Pro Retina laptop called “The Ledge” from MacLocks.com (while I’m out on the field, my laptop is back in the photo workroom, and I don’t like to leave it there unattended without it being locked down).

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Above: Here’s the cable lock I keep in my Thinktank Laptop bag.

Why we need a separate lock today
The MacBook Pros’ used to have a built-in slot for attaching a lock directly to the body itself, and I used a MacBook cable lock back then, and it worked perfect. But then in 2012, with the newer, thinner MacBooks, Apple sadly did away with that locking slot on the body, so I had to find another solution, and MacLocks.com had the only decent solution I could find, which had you attaching a lightweight, yet strong, thin horizontal bar along the bottom rear of your MacBook, and on the end there was a slot where you inserted the lock (here’s the link to that review here on the blog). While it did add a long bar to the back of your MacBook, it did the job well (I still have my MacBook despite being left on its own many times). My only big complaint with this older lock was there was not a combination lock model available — you had to use a key lock.

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Above: Here’s a close-up of The Ledge — it’s really small and unobtrusive.

The Ledge is That Much Better!
Beside the fact that you couldn’t get a combination lock with the other bar method, the other downside to the “locking bar” is that bar would sometimes get caught when  taking it in/out of your laptop bag. No biggie, but it happened enough that it was a bit annoying. Not enough to remove it, and take my chances with an attended laptop just lying their begging to be stolen, but annoying enough. That’s why when I saw “The Ledge” I wanted it badly — It’s the smallest, most unobtrusive, and easiest to install MacBook Pro lock I’ve ever used (just remove one screw; pop the “Ledge” on; use the included MPB screw and you’re set). Two minutes tops. And now I can say hands down The Ledge is absolutely my favorite. It addressed my one minor gripe from the old version, and it did it in a better way than I was expecting. It’s just so small and so simple. I love simple design.

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Above: Finally — a combination lock option! Note: be careful when setting your combination — you press in a little button on the bottom (with a pen or small screwdriver) while setting the number you want for your combination (unless, of course, you want 0-0-0-0 to be your number). If at any time you let off the pressure even a tiny bit, it will choose whatever number you’re currently at, but you won’t realize it until it’s too late. Yes, this happened to me, and I had to get a replacement cable lock. It’s tricky to do with just one person, so ask a friend to help. 

You can choose a key lock or combination lock (I went with the combo lock).

Highly recommended if you worry about protecting your Mac anywhere you have to leave it unattended, even for a minute. It’s $79.95 for the Ledge with the cable lock, special little screwdriver, and slightly longer screw to attach the Ledge to the bottom of your MacBook Pro. More details at bit.ly/2dzFrd1

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Above: Here’s a close-up of combo lock attached to The Ledge.

Overall Rating
If I actually had a five-star rating-system, with 5 being best, this would be a 5-star (I gave the old version I a 4-1/2 star rating, knocking off the half star because at that time they didn’t offer a combination lock option (only a key lock) but now they do, it’s just a $5 upgrade.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars! ✭✭✭✭✭
Price: $79.95 (includes key lock cable)
Combination Lock Cable Option: Add $5.00
Works on: 13″ and 15″ Retina MacBook Pros
Available from: MacLocks.com

Hope you found that helpful. Try to stay safe and dry out there, and have a great weekend! #rolltide

Best,

-Scott

Hi Gang: Thanks to all the KelbyOne members who tuned in to catch my “Iceland Landscape Adventure” members-only Webcast on Thursday. One thing I didn’t get to cover on the Webcast was a look at the backpack I took with me on the photo trip — the Vanguard Quivio 44.

I did a quick field review for you (below) with what I liked about it; what I wish were different, what the bag does best.

If this bag looks like the one you’ve been looking for, here’s the link. It’s $169 at B&H.

Tomorrow I’ll have an update on my 9th Annual Worldwide Photo Walk, so I hope you’ll check back then. :)

Have a great Monday. Well…you know what I mean. ;-)

Best,

-Scott

P.S. Next week: I’m in Minneapolis on Wednesday September 21st, and then Milwaukee on Friday the 23rd with my “Shoot Like a Pro Tour: Reloaded.” Tickets here. Come on out and spend the day with me.

Hi gang: This weekend I got a chance to take two Canon 7D Mark IIs out for a real world field-test shooting two football games: On Saturday the Tennessee Vols vs. the Florida Gators, and on Sunday the New York Giants vs. the Atlanta Falcons at Met Life stadium in New Jersey. (Note: the two camera bodies I used were overnight loaners from Canon of pre-production demo units â” they are not the final shipping cameras â” so they’re not quite finished yet, but they’re far enough along that I could at least test them and give you, and Canon, feedback).

I’m posting some high resolution samples here (below), but make sure you watch the video above because we tackled all the important stuff you’d want to know about (of course, we talked a lot about high-ISO performance), plus we took loads of questions during the broadcast (I’m joined by RC Concepcion and Brad Moore in the studio). It’s really kind of “three guys sitting around talking about a camera” type of show and I show lots of my photos (not just sports stuff) taken with the 7D Mark II.

Above: Specs: Shot as JPEG image. 640 ISO. 1/1000 of a second at f/5.6. 560mm (400mm with a 1.4 tele-extender). If you click on this low-res preview, it will take you to the full high-resolution image you can download. I cropped-in a tiny bit to fix composition and I brightened the image 1/2 stop, but it’s still a bit under-exposed [I was shooting JPEG and used Exposure Compensation to overcome some highlight clipping I wouldn’t have even worried about if I had been shooting in Raw]. No sharpening, noise reduction, vibrance or any of that type of stuff in post. By the way, it’s killing me to post a non-sharpened image. Just sayin’.

We Covered a Ton!
We covered what worked, what I wish were different, and literally just minutes before we started taping a tech-rep at Canon called in and helped out by showing how to fix my #1 complaint about the camera for shooting sports (which we show how to address during the show above). I still had to whine about a few things (I hope Canon is listening), but I covered the stuff it did right as well. We really tried to cover all the questions we’d been hearing on social and here on the blog as best we could.

Above: Shot in JPEG mode (we explain why on the video). This one’s at 1,000 ISO at 1/1250 of a second. Same lens as above. Cropped in a bit. We also show a large print of this on the show. 

RC Totally Scores!
My favorite part of the broadcast comes around the 2/3 to 3/4 mark when RC absolutely nails why this camera is so important, and he really articulated what I’ve been trying to say about the 7D Mark II since the official announce. You’ll know when it happens because I literally high-fived him for stating it in a way I wish I had, because he really put it all on context.

Above: I used Auto ISO to shoot in the locker room before game time. That image you see above? That’s 16,000 ISO. Click on it to get the high-res version (no noise reduction in post â” and that was shot in JPEG mode). It’s shot at f/2.8 at 1/1000 of a second using a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens. You definitely do see noise on the full res image (heck, you see noise on a 1Dx at 16,000 ISO), but I was still pretty amazed that a crop-sensor camera could get this kind of performance at 16,000 ISO. 

I’ll be around today to try and answer any questions we didn’t cover during the broadcast (if you’re going to ask about noise, please watch the video ’cause we covered it to death), so just leave me a comment here and I’ll do my best (Note: I just did a field test â” not an in-depth lab report, so if you ask me pixel-peeper style in-depth techie stuff I’m probably not the right guy to answer those, but I might be able to find someone at Canon who can answer those types of questions).

Above: I thought I should at least post one image actually taken at 100 ISO, so here ya go. This is uncropped, un-anything; shot in JPEG mode. Again, click on it to see the high-res version. 

Anyway, hope this helps, and here’s wishing you your best Tuesday yet!

Best,

-Scott

P.S. We’re only four days away from my 7th Annual Worldwide Photo Walk. If you haven’t registered to join the local walk in your city this Saturday, it’s not too late. Here’s the link. 

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