You're familiar with how they all begin: "this video is sponsored by Squarespace." Ok, well, after that, they then feed you the next line, almost all of it verbatim, "I am not sponsored by (insert brand here). They have not paid me to do this review or told me what to say about it. This review is entirely my own and they don't know I'm making this video. I was/was not provided a sample for the purposes of this review. I am not biased in any way so you can trust what I'm about to say about this product." What they don't mention, obviously, is if they had to return that "review unit." But if you pay close attention, you may catch them using the product in later videos, especially if they were especially laudatory in their review. At least they weren't paid, right? Wrong. Payment is simply one form of compensation. That "review unit" usually comes along with an email that says, "you don't need to send this back to us." Simply put, the item itself is payment. Just because you didn't get to choose the item, the form of compensation or were given a special title associating you with their brand doesn't mean you weren't paid. They paid you with product and exclaiming otherwise is a flat out lie by Youtubers who persistently try to claim otherwise. Rarely are these items cameras and lenses; they're usually "soft goods" or accessories, like bags, lens filter kits, etc. that would likely get damaged during a thorough review period or whose cost of manufacture and/or retail price is so low that the cost of return, reconditioning and resale would consume all or more of the potential profit.
Usually, Kickstarter is a collection of scams and bad ideas for internet virgins to be separated from their money. Sometimes, if you know what you're doing, it's a source for good deals. In this case, Shimoda Designs has established itself as a reliable maker of durable, action oriented camera backpacks. Shimoda decided to use Kickstarter as a "group buy" for their new line of Action X backpacks and mine managed to arrive just after Xmas.
I've been really busy lately, traveling up and down western Washington State, hiking and photographing both beaten and unbeaten paths. It began by trying to take advantage of a streak of good weather and morphed into chasing the autumn colors as the weather got colder. Hikes include: Alpine Lake Wilderness, Denny Creek, Mount Fremont Lookout, Annette Lake, Lake Twentytwo and Artist Point. All of these on consecutive weekends, and even some weekdays, over the past 3 weeks. And in that time I think I've posted just once. Maybe twice. So, here are 3 photos from the past week.
So, I tore down my Gitzo Mountaineer GT1542 to see what's so special about it. Actually, I do this with every tripod I buy to discover its weaknesses and proper disassembly for maintenance, cleaning, and lubrication. During the process I just happen to take a close look at each part to see how well it's been made, purely out of curiosity. In this case, I was truly interested to see if Manfrotto/Gitzo does anything differently during the manufacturing process that justifies the higher retail price or legendary status.
Very simply: Does Wine Country Camera actually use the same glass and coatings between their filters? I wanted my filters to produce the same results between my filter sets to reduce post-processing time. Recently, I replaced my B+W and Haida ND filters with WCC because the results between the two would cause difficulties in post as I'd work to match the output if I used both during the same shoot.
Serious question: What’s so great about Gitzo tripods? After spending a few hours inspecting my new Gitzo GT1542 Mountaineer Series 1 tripod and GH1382QD Series 1 ball head, for every positive engineering or design decision they made, there’s an equally puzzling or outright poor one. For now, I’m going to focus solely on the knobs for the ball head. I promise I’ll focus on the other things later once I’ve gotten a better look, but the next item will be the leg angle locks.
Since finding joy in landscape photography, I made the decision to try and do as much "in camera" as possible in an attempt to teach myself the art of photography, rather than exploit the science of photography, to create a photograph. As such, I slowly learned exactly what that meant and have been on the quest to acquire the best tools for me to do so, starting with a solid tripod and high quality circular polarizers.
From there, I continued. I bought a set of B+W ND filters in 3-, 6-, and 10-stops. Then, I bought a Formatt-Hitech (F-H) 100mm Firecrest filter holder kit so I could use graduated ND filters, solid ND filters, and a circular polarizer all at once.
I know I said previously I would be following up my first look with my new Wine Country Camera (WCC) filters with a full review of their performance and it's already been a while since I said that. The reason I've been stalling is because I've ordered a set of WCC Blackstone ND filters for my Formatt-Hitech Firecrest 100mm holder and I now plan to compare the round set to the square set for any difference in performance.
So, uh, stay tuned?
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.
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.
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.
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.
This lens was once an excellent value from the inception of the X-Series system until now. Unfortunately due to Fujifilm's push to dominate in video, the introduction of the ƒ/2 lens, and the announcement of the 33mm ƒ/1, the 35mm ƒ/1.4 has lost all reason to exist in its current form. A complete redesign, implementing these features, could create a lens that outsells all of their other lenses by appealing to the widest range of users and without having to compromise.
I went out and bought the Fujifilm X-T3 on release day, which was September 20th. The spec sheet intrigued me because a lot of the bullet points revealed improvements that would improve my ability to shoot under less than optimal conditions, situations that can sometimes stump my X-T2. Mind you, this is not my review of the X-T3. That will come later when I've spent more time with it. As for the features relevant to me, they are as follows:
Nikon recently released their first full frame mirrorless cameras, the Z6 and Z7, and it seems all of the professional and "professional" photographers on the internets are having a meltdown because it doesn't have, amongst other things, dual card slots. Well, news flash, Nikon didn't design these cameras for you. I know, weird, isn't it?