Gear Review: SunwayFoto T1A20D Mini Tripod

After the trip to Forks, I realized I needed a mini tripod for those times when I forget my full or travel sized tripod. One that's small enough to carry all of the time and when height isn't all that important compared to just getting the shot. This is one of those things I'll be throwing into the bag whenever I may encounter low light, ensuring I can use whatever shutter speed I need to get proper exposure without fear of instability.

Tripod and Ball Head Maintenance: Lubricants

Cleaning and lubricating your tripod, no matter what material it's made of, will extend its life. The biggest point of contention seems to be over lubrication, so here's where I'm going to attempt giving a definitive answer for most tripods and ball heads.

New ND Filters: Switching from B+W to Wine Country Camera

Despite owning, and being quite satisfied with, my Formatt-Hitech Firecrest 100mm filter holder kit, I also like to keep a 77mm ND filter set for lightweight carry. The B+W set I previously used worked fine but had a noticeable magenta color cast that was especially evident in the 10-stop ND filter. I recently decided to give Wine Country Camera's filters a try based on endless reviews touting their well controlled color cast. Should these work out well, I'll probably switch my 100mm ND filters out for WCC.

New Tripod, Revisited. Leofoto LN-324C.

As promised in my previous blog post, I'm revisiting my thoughts on the Leofoto LN-324C Systematic Carbon Fiber tripod I picked up before going to Forks, WA. The trip gave me my first chance to use the tripod in a real world setting for photos I cared about. After putting the Leofoto LN-324C and LH-40 ball head through the roughest conditions I ever plan to use it in, it has stood up admirably. There are no conditions to this conclusion. It is an excellent tripod, full stop. The value oriented pricing only makes this combo that much more appealing.

That monochrome feeling.

High contrast scenes tend to work well when processed in monochrome format. I'm especially lucky since Fujifilm's film simulations are such great emulations of their popular film stocks. Their Acros simulation is especially good with high contrast, moody scenes and I've been processing more and more of my landscape shots with it. A few of the high contrast shots I took while in Forks took especially well with the Acros film simulation.

Early Tulips at Roozengaarde

After a day's break from the trip to Forks, Craig and I took advantage of a break in the rain to hit Roozengaarde in Skagit to photograph the tulips before the festival began. About half of the tulips were in bloom and the daffodils were still out, though they looked ready to wilt. Fortunately the weather and time of day seemed to keep most people away. This also gave me a chance to use my Leofoto tripod on different terrain. Again, things just happened to work out for us as the rain held off and the clouds helped give the photos a dramatic, almost ominous look that contrasts with the burst of colors below. Too bad the stiff breeze prevented any chance of getting a longer exposure, but that's fine. For tulips, it's all about the colors.

A Sudden Burst of Activity

Funny how things tend to happen in spurts. I spent the past week in Forks and Mount Vernon to get some camera work in. Craig and I went to Second Beach on the Quilayute reservation to photograph the seastacks just off shore. After a day of recovery, we went to Roozengaarde to get some early shots of the tulips before the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. Despite the weather forecast predicting rain for the week, we were fortunate to get some breaks in the rain that were long enough to get all of the shots we had planned for, and then some.

Review: Of “Systematic” Style Tripods, the Leofoto LN-324C

Out of the box, the Leofoto LN-324C made for an intimidating presence. Fully extended, it was clearly as tall as advertised and the weight seemed about right. Looking more closely, all the details looked right. Tearing it down exposed finely machined parts all around and a carbon weave that didn't betray it's "10 layer" claim; the weave was consistent throughout with no waviness or warping of threads and no pitting or cracks in the resin. All of the aluminum bits are finely milled with no tooling marks. Parts that may have originally been cast were finely machined to remove any casting seams and cuts into it were obviously milled. The anodizing is consistent all around and all of the included optional hardware is of similar quality. No flashes, splinters or metal shavings anywhere. Metal on metal contact points showed evidence of lubrication and glided through their movements smoothly.

The Benro B2 Ball Head Drifts, So I Fixed It

My B2 ball head has had an issue with drift since purchase, and after months of dealing with it, I felt it was now time to finally fix the issue. The G2 a high quality, low profile ball head with huge capacity and smooth action that punches well above its weight. It compares favorably against more well-known name brands even if you take out price as a factor.

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