Jul 292010
 

A while back, I bought the LowePro FastPack 350 as my “carry everything” bag. In truth, while it carries alot, it does not carry everything. And its bulky.

So, in an attempt to defeat bulkiness, I sought out a new bag. After much searching, I became aware of the LowePro Classified 160AW.  Having used it on and off, I have to say, so long as I don’t need a laptop on my person, I love it. :)

A short discussion had folks wondering what I put in it. So, since pictures can do a better job than words alone:

Gear I normally pack into my FastPack350
(excluding cables/chargers/etc.)

That’s one flash, a pack of batteries, a CF card holder, an extension ring, an A700 DSLR w/17-50/2.8 lens, a 50mm/1.4 lens, a 70-200/2.8 lens, an Apple iPad, and a 15″ MacBookPro.

With the exception of the MBP, everything fits into the Classified.

Nothing in my sleeve… yet.
In goes the 50mm/1.4
Next goes the 70-200/2.8, lenshood is extended!
In goes the camera with mounted lens… FYI, the camera
can be stowed away with the 70-200/2.8 mounted, in this bag.
Yep, it closes.
The iPad goes into the sleeve pocket.
The card holder, extension tube, and pack of batteries in
the outter most pocket.
And there it is. All full and happy.

Note, one of the original reasons why I opted to get a Fast Pack 350 was because a good deal of weight on one shoulder/arm/etc. can cause a good deal of strain. This is no different. There is a belt you can hook onto the main strap and one of the D rings to stabilize the bag as well as take some weight off your shoulder. I strongly recommend using it, unless you like neck/shoulder/back pain.

The FastPack 350 can hold all that and more, thanks to an extra large top pocket. The FastPack 350can also hold up to a 17″ laptop. Fits the 15″ just fine. Note, with all that gear AND the laptop, it gets heavyenough that you might still get some back pain.

Jul 172010
 

Just got the Apple camera connection kit, one piece of my new photo kit. The first thing I did was to connect the Sandisk All-in-one USB 2.0 card reader, a flash card I had, and the kit with my iPad.

The first try just didn’t work!

Apparently, the amount of power the iPad will supply through the camera connection kit’s USB port is kinda anemic. So much so that when I plugged in my photo fast 533x compact flash card into the Sandisk reader, it reported that the device required too much power.

However, a solution was found for that issue: split USB power cable for external hard drives!

So, with iPad, camera connection kit, split power USB cable, Sandisk USB reader, compact flash card, and my laptop providing extra juice, I was able to get the images transferred from card to iPad.

Lexar Dual-Slot USB 2.0 Flash Memory Card Reader RW035-001All images were raw images from my Sony alpha a700 dslr. Each one weighs in at about 12MB. Counting off as images were copied, about 3 seconds apiece, and showed up on the iPad, it came to around 4MB/second transfer speed.

Not awesome, since hooked up to the laptop, it can manage 22MB/second. To top it off, the need for secondary power would be a hassle. So, returned it to the store.

Currently, awaiting the Lexar USB dual slot(CF/SD) reader, which is reported to work with the kit without additional power.

The image at the top of the page is one of the images from the transfer. It was edited with Photogene on the iPad, and uploaded to Flickr via Blogpress.

Update July 22nd, 2010:

Well, after digging through my gear bin at home, I’ve come up with some interesting observations:

  • Different compact flash cards have different levels of power draw. If the compact flash card requires more power than the iPad wants to give it, you will see the “too much power” popup.
  • Cards not formatted properly will show up as “Device not supported”
  • This does have me thinking about the impact to battery life, for a given flash card, in my camera. I’ve been wondering why the camera had been draining faster than I remembered lately. Well, apparently, I had recently upgraded all of my cards to PhotoFast 533X cards. I’ll need to check to see if my RiData 233X cards suffer from this as well, or if they are more frugal power consumers. :)

    Jul 142010
     

    The Successful Flickr PhotographerFor the last few days, since getting the iPad, actually, I’ve been playing around with the Flickr and SmugMug applications on the iPad. Having the iPad around has been like having a little portable window into my online digital life, as well as all the information it provides. That instant on people rave about vs having to dig out your heavy laptop, open it up, and whatnot? Totally true.

    But back to what I was writing about, Flickr and SmugMug.

    Between the two, I’ve definitely been more active on my SmugMug account, with the number of images uploaded at around a couple thousand. I’ve trimmed it back a bit since, but with Adobe Lightroom having direct export to it, thanks to the SmugMug plugin, and the great user interface, it makes SmugMug a natural choice. I pay for the Pro account, so I get other features like custom watermarks and the ability to sell prints/etc at custom prices.

    Recently, however, I’ve been wanting to include more social aspects of the web into my photography and blogging. Switching to Blogger.com for my blogging platform has opened me up to using my Flickr account again. After seeing the restrictions on the free account, I also opted to go with the Pro account on Flickr.



    Being Social

    Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3One of the great things I liked about SmugMug was the intuitive interface. It allowed me to quickly setup a gallery in the style I wanted, and send out notifications that it was up and available. If I wanted, I could make it private and password protected. Each Album its own unique password/etc.

    This was great for when I wanted to keep things hidden and secret, but what about when I wanted to share and let others more easily find my images? What if I wanted to include image links in my blog?

    Well, with SmugMug, I’ve had to login, get to the share image, and get a public link or code snippet that will display the image and provide a link back to the gallery. This is then copied and pasted into the blogging program of choice. Not the smoothest of workflows.

    With the introduction of the iPad into my digital ecosystem, I’ve started to use an app called BlogPress. There is built-in support for Flickr and Picasa, where when you blog, you can insert images. However, you can only insert images as an upload from your iPad photo album to your image hosting service of choice. By default, the photo will link to your image gallery, which is fine by me. :)

    After a couple of days of working with BlogPress like this, it became quite easy to use and using SmugMug to post the same kind of image links now seemed much more restrictive.

    Granted, the ease is due in large part to the defacto support of Flickr in BlogPress. However, Flickr offers some pretty good features on their site as well:

    • Getty Image integration with a “License this image” link. Nice, considering the fact that Flickr images get “borrowed” for commercial purposes. SmugMug Pro offers a digital download option, but you kinda have to manage the licensing yourself.
    • Ability to “replace” an image(pro feature), so that you can keep your links, comments, etc. but update the image with a better one. SmugMug Pro also has this option.
    • Others can rapidly add your image to their sets and photo streams. The iPad application, FlickrStacker makes this really easy. You can also add other people as a contact or friend. In SmugMug, the only real option is “friend” or “family”. For folks you don’t know, friending can seem too intimate.
    • FlickrStacker also allows you to download images from your Flickr account to your iPad’s photo album. Awesome, since BlogPress kinda requires you to have it for upload. SmugMug’s portable gallery doesn’t allow this. I can understand why, since they have a much stronger image protection stance than Flickr. However, I should be able to download images from my own account to my iPad for showing or re-uploading…

    Room for Improvement

    I’m sure I’ll find more pros and cons along the way. Until then, some suggestions to the various app makers:

    BlogPress: Add support for SmugMug. Would really make my day. Also, add support for image captions and hover-text information for images. Item lists would be nice as well. :)

    FlickrStacker: Please consider letting me join a group from the iPad app. Just adding a group to my stacks isn’t really the same thing. ^_^;;

    SmugMug: More social aspects would be nice. You guys are still my main go-to because of your commitment to protection of images and to quality of prints.

    Blogger: Wow. Why did I ever try to host my own blog before? You guys have alot of great features that I’m learning to use every day. Being supported by various blogging apps certainly makes things alot easier.

    References:

    • SmugMug : http://www.smugmug.com  ( Coupon: XA4ljcMBEkUsg  )
    • Flickr: http://www.flickr.com
    • Blogger : http://www.blogger.com
    Jul 132010
     

    First off, the iPad is an amazing media consumption device. Whether you are talking about ebooks, images, and/or videos, the iPad rocks. For the price, however, you kind of expect it to.

    I bought the 64GB wifi iPad. Why not the 3G version? Well, because I already pay for a mobile device and saw no point in paying again just so that I can surf the web. I also happen to own a 3G to wifi converter, so I can share my wireless goodness with my iPad and that of others as well.

    The image above was taken on my dslr and was published on Smugmug with my laptop. Downloaded it to the iPad, dunked with it a bit with filter storm, and am posting it to my blog using Blogpress.

    It’s not perfect, but it is very workable. The camera connection kit is on the way, which would let me do some preliminary work on jpegs and do quick uploads online from my iPad while on the road, without hauling around a laptop… At least not until I get back to the hotel room. :)

    It is certainly no laptop replacement, but then again, I didn’t buy it to replace my laptop. I bought it to supplement my laptop and give myself more options. It can do 90% of what I normally do on a laptop, but weighs half as much, is small and thin, and has no critical moving parts. Oh, and it has a phenomenal battery life. So far, with video playback, app installs, game playing, and heavy network use, it is still able go pull 9-10 hours of usable life. That is amazing.

    Next time, remote and tethered shooting with an iPadtwist..

    Jul 012010
     

    Sony 50mm f/1.4 Lens for Sony Alpha Digital SLR CameraPreviously, I owned the Minolta 50mm/1.7 lens.  It was my favorite lens for two reasons:

    1. Dirt cheap at $75
    2. Amazing Bokeh

    The Minolta 50mm/1.7 produced great out of focus backgrounds and amazingly sharp subjects. It performed great for low light photography and was a joy to use.

    I had sold the 50mm/1.7 when I was contemplating switching from Sony to Nikon, but when I sold it, the buyer had commented it was a great lens and that I had a great camera. This left me a bit dumbfounded and lost in thought for about a month.

    That is, until I picked up the 50mm/1.4…

    Bokeh, Bokeh, everywhere I look!

    So, recently, while getting ready for shooting at a wedding, I saw the Sony 50mm/1.4, and remembered that I didn’t have a 1.x lens for the wedding. On a whim, I picked it up and made some test shots with available light. Just picked some point a couple of feet from me, with the background just 3-4 feet behind it.

    The first words in my mind were… wow, that background just went whoosh! I’m talking about a background that went from potted plants and flowers to a creamy and dreamy backdrop of color and light discs.

    @f/1.4, I would describe the ability to acquire/achieve a creamy background in your images to be very effortless.