Archive March 2011

Travel Tripod Comparisons by Weight, Cost, Length, Folded Length, and Load Capability

Posted by on Mar 30, 2011 in Blog | 1 Comment

 Travel Tripod Comparisons

Benro Travel Tripod

In my last blog post here,   I was reviewing the Benro tripod that was not working and was lamenting that I wanted to get another tripod.   Well….. after about 8 hours worth of browsing the internet for Travel Tripod data and reviews,  I came up with the the spreadsheet of Travel Tripod Comparisons below.   Note my requirements or wish list is on the lower left.   The stuff in green was what met my requirements.   The stuff in blue are the items that met all of what I wanted or was close.  I put comments next to each option.   The item outlined in red was my choice, the Gitzo GT2541

Gitzo GT2541 Travel Tripod

.  I also got a Kirk BH-3 head to go with it as I like that head.   The Travel Tripod met all of my needs AND there were nothing but good reviews about.   When I get it I will publish what I think…..hopefully it will be a good review!

Travel Tripod Comparisons

Benro Angel Travel Tripod Review

Posted by on Mar 29, 2011 in Blog | 4 Comments

This posting will be about the Benro Angel Travel Tripod Review.

We were headed to Ireland.   What a photo opportunity that would be.  But with all of the airline restrictions on carry-on and luggage weight…. I had to spend many hours trying to figure out what Photo equipment I could take.   What would fit in my luggage, what could I take as carry-on,  which lenses, tripod, monopod, both, camera bags, chargers, flash…..

It all gets really complicated.   Added to that is that part of the trip would be on Ryan Air  (Europe’s really stingy version of SWA)  they are very particular on what you can bring on board.  They even spot check weigh stuff.

I knew I wanted a tripod with me.  Its essential, I think for landscapes and macro’s.  I am really happy with the  tripod at home (Velbon El Carmagne 530 w/ Kirk BH-3 ball head)

but they have long fold lengths and are heavy compared to travel tripods.  For a steady camera platform its great.

So I searched the internet for a good travel tripod.  It had fold down to a small size, extend to nearly my eye level  ( I am lazy and getting older),  and it had to be light weight.

I found a Gitzo model, Gitzo GT1541T, that fit my needs but it was just a little outside of my budget.  In several forums I read that a good Chinese equivalent to the Gitzo’s were the Benro tripods.   And they tended to have good reviews.

I found that they had a nice set of travel tripods called “Travel Angels”.   The one that fit my needs was the C069M8B0.   It folds into a 13.14″  (334mm) length, extends to 54 in (1380mm) and only weighed 1.8 lbs (.84kg).  Yet it had a capacity of 13.2 lbs (6kg).    My heaviest set-up is a Canon 5DMk II (2lbs, .9Kg),  70-200 f2.8 lens (3.2 lbs, 1.5 Kg) and maybe a 2X tele-extender (.7 lbs, .3Kg).  So that is around 6 lbs or 3Kg.  half the capacity of the tripod.   This should work out great….. Right???  It looked just like the Gitzo except it had one more leg section and it was within my budget!

Well, when it arrived, it met with all of my expectations.   It was tiny compared to my other tripods and oh so light.  It came with a rugged canvas bag with a handle and two small D rings.   The rings match perfectly with my Crumpler’s 3 million dollar bag strap clips.   So I could clip the bag and the tripod case together to the crumplers shoulder strap.   You barely notice the added weight.   The fully extended height was a little lower than I liked.   I am lazy and would love a good steady camera platform at about 58″.    So fully extended I have to spread my legs or lean over.  But thats ok.

It has a weight hook to add stability to my camera.   I put a big D ring on the handle of my bag so I can just hang it from that.   The tripod can also be put in reverse so that you get the really low shots.

The leg sections lock by rotating locking grips.   The legs have 3 angles that lock.  So there is lots of flexibility on height.

When I got this tripod I had a Canon 50d and my largest lens was the kit zoom that came with the camera.   This tripod was marginal with that. But worked ok.

The first problem was that the tripod is so light that its is very vulnerable to tipping, vibration, or movement in strong winds.  I guess I should not blame this model for those problems as even an expensive light Gitzo would have the same issue.   There is a spring loaded hook at the bottom of the center post.  You can pull that down and hook a weight to it.   I put my smaller camera bag with a walk around lens in the bag.  It steadied the tripod quite a bit.

BUT….now….. I have the 5D MK II and I have loaded my bag with other heavy lenses.  I have found that this tripod is not so good even though my weight load is only about 50% of its capacity.

The other night I was trying to take pictures of the large moon going on.   We were traveling so I had this tripod.   The first issue is that it was cold outside.   Its a lot easier to flip a lever lock clam shell fitting, like on my Velbon, than it is to crank these twist locks down.  That seemed especially true when it was cold and I have gloves on.   I got it all set up but it took a while.   I put some weight on it with my hand to make sure the legs were locked….and they were not.  I had to hunt a bit (it was dark)  to find the culprit.  It felt tight but I tightened it more.   Tested it again….still had a problem….tightened more… done.    So  I put on the 5DMkII, the 2X extender, and the 100-400mm.  Its half the weight capacity.

I took several shots and in each one the moon was extremely smeared.  I mean the moon was at least 1 diameter too wide.   Something was still slipping.  In addition,   As I was sighting in the moon there were several times where one foot of the tripod was lifted off the ground (because I was tilting it)…..but I could not feel it or notice it.   Just too light.    Then I thought that I would anchor it to my bag which was heavy.   With the bag, I probably got the weight up to about 80% of capacity.   Then two of the legs started collapsing.   It felt like I was in a  “Charlie Chaplin” movie.

So what can I conclude about all of this.

Any small light tripod, fully extended, will not be anywhere near as good as a normal heavier tripod.   I think I hear a “DUH”!.   That was not intuitively obvious to me.

These light tripods are still lots of stops better than a monopod……as long as they are not overloaded,

Second… for me…. If its cold outside, the flip a lever lock  clam shell connections are much easier.

Finally, for this model, getting up over 50% of the weight capacity and maybe adding some cold temperatures, does not work.   I experimented with putting a load on the tripod at room temperature and each legs starts slipping with enough load but not as bad as on that cold night.  I am wondering if the cold has an affect on the joints  (the tripod…. that is)

So, in summary, you have to be careful with these light tripods, they are top heavy and susceptible to being disturbed.    As long as you keep the loading low, with smaller lenses or point and shoots,  they will do ok.   And the low weight and small folded size makes it REALLY easy to carry.   But I need another option.   I will check out the Gitzo’s and probably get a little larger one.   I’ll end up compromising on the weight and size so I can have a more reliable tripod for my needs.  But still be able to travel with it.

I will review the next one that I buy!


Note that this model travel angel has been discontinued.   But it does make me nervous about buying another.   Since the Travel Angel line was a “cheap” version of the Gitzo’s maybe the saying “you get what you pay for” comes into play.










How to sell your DSLR stuff on the internet

Posted by on Mar 16, 2011 in Blog | 10 Comments

So this posting is about how to sell your DSLR stuff on the internet

I am constantly selling stuff on the internet. Why….. because there is always a better camera, a better lens, a better tri-pod, flash unit etc. Also I just went from an APS-C DSLR to a full frame camera. So right away half my lenses would not work on the full frame camera. So I want to buy new stuff and have little or no need for my old stuff. And most importantly I don’t have enough money. Ugghh!

The way my family works is that we have weekly allowances. I budget everything. BTW that is one of the main ways you can retire like we are in our late 50’s early 60’s. But I digress.   So we have budgets for vacations and groceries and fun money, vacations, ets. And then we each get $80/week for clothes and anything else we want…without asking for permission. So I dress like a homeless person and buy camera stuff.

But that is still not enough so I supplement that budget with money that I earn by doing microstock.  I wrote about that earlier here.  And that is still not enough…. yet  (someday it will be).   I still have another resource….. that equipment that is about to be replaced!!!

My first attempt was to sell on craigslist.   That is a great internet site and I have bought and sold stuff there.  The advantage for buyers, is that you can have the camera or lens in you hands to checkout before you buy.  The problem is that you usually have to meet face to face and usually have to use cash or a cashiers check.   Any you really don’t know that other person is that you are about to deal with.  Sometimes I have met in gas station parking lots.  I felt like a drug dealer or something.  In addition, there is no auction which means there is no guarantee that you are getting.  You can set a high price and have no one buy it.  Or you can set a low price and have it sell right away but probably leave money on the table.

Here is an the  answer to ‘how to sell your DSLR stuff on the internet”… and its Ebay.   I started using ebay many years ago.  At first it was just to buy stuff.  I found that I never got screwed on a deal….never.  Then I experimented with selling stuff, mostly collectibles.  It all worked out well.   So I moved on to camera stuff.   What I found is that I could get at least as much, and sometimes a little more than the used prices that you see on Adorama or B&H.  I think the auction drives the price up to a competitive level and sometimes you get lucky with a bidder who has not done his price homework and bids the price beyond competitive prices.   I find that happens about 50% of time.   The other great advantage is that the buyer has to pay first and you never have to meet face to face.   So its very hard for a seller to get screwed on a deal.  I have bought or sold about 151 items so far  with rating is 100% (no complaints-   This is important and I will explain more later).   Based on my experience I think I have some helpful advice for those of you who are not familiar with ebay specifically for camera sales.

There is one situation that occurs more than it should.  Its not too painful…but it is irritating.  Sometimes a newbie bids on your item.  I hate newbies (people with less than 5 transactions).   Of course we all start that way but they don’t know what they are doing or they are too young or they do not have any financial resources.  But what happens sometimes is that they win a item and then you don’t get paid.   You don’t lose too much because you have not shipped anything but you do lose out on the cost of the ebay listing ( usually $1-10 depending on the value of the item).   You can get credit for that amount to re-list, but ebay makes you wait and wants to see some evidence that you tried to work it out first.  So it takes your item off the market for a while.

Ok so how do you do it?

Ebay may have this streamlined by now so all you have to do is work it through them.  But my way will work as well.   First, set up a paypal account.   they will want a credit card and a bank account routing info.  They are safe, reliable, and very convenient.  I have used them for years as well.   And,  I have found that it is a really easy way to transfer money around all over the world.   So set that up.  It took me a few days while they verified the account information and then I was good to go.

Next set up an ebay account.   They will want more of your information including your paypal information.

Ok… time to sell.

I would recommend that you start selling and buying some small stuff at first.  No one trusts a buyer or seller that has any number next to their name less that about 5.   So sell or buy some lens caps or lens wipes or a rocket blower or something.  Make sure that you pay promptly on a buy and ship promptly on a sell.  You want to get good ratings that is key.   No one is going to buy from someone with a low rating.   And a low rating is like anything less than 99%.  100% is best.

Ok…. now you have at least a 5 next to your name.

Let’s go sell a lens.

The best price from a used lens, for example, is one that is in perfect condition.  New is best….but that will rarely happen unless you bought one and immediately did not want it.   So keep good care of your lenses.   I am not a believer in uv filters for protection.  I think they interfere in some situations.  I wrote about that here.   But having said that,  if you can say in your add that you have had a filter on the lens since you bought it new, this would be a good selling point.  If you have any marks on the lens you need to mention that in your ad.  If you sell it and do not mention it you can get a bad rating and that will hurt you.   Also you will get the best price if you kept your box, packing material, instructions, warranty card, case, or anything that came with the lens.  You can also get more money if you had a uv filter or lens hood for this lens.

Now you need to take some pictures.  You need one image with the lens and all of the other goodies, then a couple of side shots, a front view of the lens and one of the rear.   Spend a good amount of time cleaning the lens as best as you can because you want to take you shots as close to the lens as possible so that your potential customers can see that the lens is in good shape.

The best images are those taken in a soft box with a white background so that the lens is completely isolated.   It makes for an eye catching photo.   Who doesn’t like a sexy image of a DSLR lens….eh!!      I have  have also just taken pictures of lenses on my nice wood dining room table.  You should do it with good lighting and a tripod.  You want the images to be tack sharp.

Its also good to find a few of your best shots where you used that camera or lens and use them as an example of that that equipment can do.

Ok…. now you are ready to list.

What price to do expect to get

Do you want to set a minimum bid,  do you want to set starting bid,   how about a “buy it now” price.   This is what I do.  First if you go to the selling page of ebay there is a spot to put in your lens and they will tell you what it has sold for.  This is just about useless as they give you a range of prices that is usually too wide.

So here is what you do.  Go to Amazon and search for your item.  Note the best new and used price.  Do the same at Adorama and B&H.  Make sure you include shipping costs  (you can use the USPS site for that) if required.  Now you have a good idea of what people can buy the item for.  Next go on ebay and search for your item again.   Narrow the search to used items and sort the items by stuff selling soonest.  If you look at the “ending soonest” bid price you can get a good idea of what you can get.  It will probably sell for @5% higher than that price.

OK….now you have a good idea of what buyers can get at online stores both used and new.  And what you probably will get if you sell it on ebay.   So the first thing I do is set a Buy Now price.   This is a price where an ebay buyer can buy it right away without an auction.  That option disappears as soon as anybody bids on it.    I set my price just a little under the lowest used price at Adorama, B&H, or Amazon  (again make sure you are including their price plus shipping and yours plus shipping).  When I say a little I mean some number less than 1%.

Next I set the starting bid price.   Based on my experience you want to find a balance between what you could live with if it sold for that low a price, against a delay in bidding if its too high.  I don’t have a lot of facts to base this on.  Its mainly based on my experience.  But the lower the starting bid the sooner you get people bidding on it.   A lot of these early bidders will be bargain hunters and they will drop out when the bid gets too high.  But some will be buyers that will stick with it and, I believe, they will start to form “expectations of ownership”.  I just came up with that  🙂   These are the buyers you want.  These are the buyers who will bid higher because they get into the frenzy of “I want this”.   I love buyers like that.   I have fallen into this trap myself.  If you price too high you will not get any bidding until the end and I think the resultant price will be less.

So what do I set.   Usually I set a price for about 30-50% of what I think I could get.  I have never been screwed by doing that.  I almost always get within 5% of what I think I can get.  Many times more than my expectations.

You can also set-up a minimum bid.   This would protect you.   Say you think you can get $1000.  So you set a minimum bid of $900.   People can bid right away on it at $100, $200, or some other number but the message that they will get is that the minimum bid has not been made.   As a buyer….it just pisses me off.  When I see an item like that I do not bid on it.   Because many times the buyer has an inflated idea of what the item is worth.   So you waste a lot of effort bidding on something that it too high priced.   So I would not recommend doing this.

Ok…… you have your pictures and your price.  You have a paypal account and an ebay account.

Let’s go list

Ebay makes this process pretty easy.   On their front page they have a sell link in the upper right.   Click on that or the “sell an item” from the drop down.  Next hit the List your item button.   It will prompt you to login if you have not done so already.  Type in the item you are selling.  Lets say its the kit lens from canon, a 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS lens.   You will see a drop down with that product on it.  Click on that.  It will auto fill a picture and a description of that lens in the sale form.  Nice huh!  Now you will note the condition.   Most likely it will be used.  Fill in the Focus type.  For this lens its auto and manual.  Technology is digital.  Camera type for this lens is SLR  (it should be DSLR but they don’t have that).  Click the Lens type.  Its usually pre-filled but for this one its a wide angle and a zoom.  Camera brand.  This example is a Canon.

Picture time !

I think that ebay will reformat your pictures, but I have found that if I pre-format my pictures  to fit within a 1024 X 1024 space and as jpegs I get adequate photos of good quality.  If you don’t know how to do this do not worry….just submit them as is.  When you hit the submit pictures button you get a browse button.  Use that to find the pictures on your computer and then upload them.   Because lenses are so expensive I find that adding lots of images and paying for the Gallery plus and picture pack are worth it.   So then you upload it.  They will appear on the pictures part of the form.  I usually delete the autofill pictures as it does not reflect what my lens is now.   Then I use the arrows to put the picture with all of the extras to show first (the box, bag, caps, hood, ect.)

Now lets describe the item

You can do this in standard or HTML.  if you know HTML go for it.  I will not get into that.   So use standard.

What you want to do now is tell them about the item.  When did you get it? How did you treat it?  What you think about the performance?  Did you buy it new or used?  Are there any dings, scratches or anything different from the new lens.  Why are you selling it?  I have found that buyers are still a little nervous buying from someone that they do not know and without a big  store name reputation.   If you have a good rating that will help a lot.  But I also think  that being overly honest and open will help the buyer think that he is buying a lens from a responsible, knowledgeable, and honest seller.

I leave the theme alone and use the default counter.

Choose how you’d like to sell your item

I am just going to talk about the Online Auction tab.   Put your starting price in  and your bid now price.  Quantity is normally 1.   Now… how many days duration.   Again, I have no facts or figures on this just experience.   Three days is too short I think to get all the bidders that you want.  If you do this because you are in hurry,  I would recommend that that you do it on a Wednesday or Thursday so it will end on the Weekend an you will get more bidders then.  7 days is ok but seems long to me.   5 days is just right because you will always capture one weekend day with that.

Decide how you’d like to be paid

You want paypal.  Put the email address in that you used for your paypal account and check the immediate payment for buynow.

Give buyers shipping details

My method may be a little more costly for you as the buyer, but I think it helps sell the item and makes shipping easier.    What I suggest is that you select, under US shipping, the flat cost to all buyers option.  I also select  the US priority mail and then I check the box for free shipping.  I also check the box that local buyers can pick it up.  No one has taken me up on that yet.

A little more about shipping.   This is the part that I used to hate the most.  I used to go to the garage to get a box.  It was usually too large which added to the weight.  I would have to get a magic marker out to cover all the commercial labels and op codes.   Hand print the address on the box.  Go to the post office.  Wait in line for 5-30 minutes.  Have it weighed and pay.

No more!!!   Now I have a collection of free priority mail boxes that I picked up at the post office and also had some delivered for FREE.    After I get paid for the item.  I log into ebay and select the print label link.   I specify what kind of priority box.  Note that there are small, medium, and large flat rate boxes.  Meaning weight is not costed so it can way 4 oz or 10 lbs and it costs the same.   Other boxes say priority but are priced on weight.  I have both because occasionally an item will not fit in the flat rate box.   If you have a light item it might be less costly to use a non-flat rate box.   Anyhow I fill out the ebay shipping form.  They work through paypal who has a USPS account.   You can add insurance, and tracking, and signature acceptance.   I do insurance if the buyer will pay for it.   Tracking is free.  I do not do signature unless the buyer requests it.  Then you can just print out the shipping label….all filled out.  So grab a box.   Pack your item well.  I mostly just use newspaper for packing.  Tape it shut.  Tape the label on.   Drive to you Post office walk in and drop it on the counter….no line waiting….and you leave.    USPS will also pick it up from your house but I have not used that.

On Handling time I try to do it in 1 day.   If you are really busy you might do 2-3 days.  But buyers want their stuff in hurry so I do 1 day.

International shipping –  you get more bidders when you do this.  And that is good.  But shipping goes up a bunch.  I usually state that International bidders will have to pay shipping costs.   Also there is no easy drop off.  You have to fill in export forms and talk to a post office employee.   In addition international buyers usually want you to lie about the value and say its a gift rather than an item that they bought.  They do that to avoid taxes and tariffs.    I don’t like doing this.   So I usually say no international shipping.

Other things you’d like buyers to know

Buyer requirements – I use this.   They offer you all sorts of options for excluding certain buyers.   These are the selections that I have used:

Block buyers who:

  • Don’t have a PayPal account
  • Have received 2 Unpaid item Strike(s) within 1 month(s)
  • Have 4 Policy violation report(s) within 1 month(s)
  • Have a feedback score equal to or lower than -1

My return policy is:

Return policy Return policy help

  • Returns accepted within: 7 Days
  • Refund given as: Money Back
  • Return shipping paid by: Buyer
  • Additional return policy details:
    There is not a mark on it now so if there is any physical damage there will be no refund

And then you get to have Additional checkout instructions.   This is what I use:

Please pay withing 3 days of winning this item. Insurance can be added to the cost if you want it. If for some reason you want to return the item the buyer will pay to ship it back to the seller and then the buyers money will be returned.  This has to be done within 7 days from the time that the item is received. Please no international bidding unless you email me first to understand that shipping for international will be paid by buyer.

I have the time limit with paypal because I have had those newbies wait like a week or more.   With this statement it gives you a little leverage with the buyer and proof to ebay in case there is a problem.   Also if they have a problem with the item they need to deal with it in a week.  They have to pay to ship it back.  And then I will return the money.   Here also I am allowing international bidding but letting them know I will not pay for that.

Next you hit the continue button.

There are some more options.  I do not use them.  You get a chance to see what the listing will look like and to edit it if you like.

You can save the listing as a template.  Do that.  It will make you listing process easier the next time for a similar item.

Hit the list your item button…..and you are off.

If you remembered something you left out you can always go back to edit it.   As the bids come in and it gets closer to the end ebay will begin to limit what you can edit.

I usually log into my “Myebay” link to check the progress and see how many views and watchers that I have.   Views don’t mean much but watchers are people who are tracking you listing and will potentially bid on your item.

The next thing that will happen is that you will get questions.  What is the serial number,  have you ever had it cleaned or calibrated,  or whatever.   Answer the questions right away and be as honest and forthcoming as you can.  I even give some photo advice if i get an indication that I am dealing with a beginner.  I think that all helps getting the best price.

Now its sold.  What do I do?

Once it it sold you will get a notice from ebay.  On that notice will be a link to send the buyer an invoice.  They also get one automatically I think.  There is space to write a message and you might want to remind the buyer that if he wants insurance he needs to add some money to then invoice or let you know so that you can add it.  Then you wait for notice that it has been paid.  You will get this from Paypal.  If I do not hear from the buyer in 24hrs I usually send another invoice or email reminder.  If I do not have payment in 3 days I tell them the deal is off and I am moving on.   There is a whole ebay process that guides and directs you to the proper things to do to resolve the issue.  I will  not cover them here.

So you get a notice from paypal that they have paid.   That money is yours now and you are free to send the item.   I do it quickly, usually within 24 hrs.   I also send and email to the buyer telling them when I dropped it off at the post office and that they should have it in 2-3 business days.

The only other thing to do is to make sure they rate you positively on the sale.   Sometimes you may have to write them a asking them to do that.

So that’s it… you have money for that next lens or camera.

Added ideas

After I posted this I got some added info to consider.   You can buy and sell stuff within photography forums.  I have not done that but some people swear by them.   A good example is at

They have a rating system so you can track the reputation of the sellers.   Also it looks like they participate in forum discussions so you can get to know the people who are buying and selling stuff.   I think its a great way to buy stuff.  If you take some of my price suggestions you will have a good idea of a competitive price.   But for selling…… I still think an auction is going to drive up the price to the highest amount.   Of course they you will not be supporting the forum community by adding more stuff to buy.   So there is another option.   There are several other forums that also have a buy and sell capability.



Blackrapid Strap Review – I love it

Posted by on Mar 10, 2011 in Blog | 5 Comments


This post is about the Blackrapid Strap Review   RS-4 and I love it

I love my Black Rapid Strap RS-4 and here is why.  Note that the image is not me.   I borrowed it from a really good review that Tan Zexun did here.

Tan Zexun Images of RS-4

When I first got a DSLR I used to carry the camera with the canon supplied neck strap.  It looked dorky.  It slapped uncomfortably on my chest as I walked.  It chaffed at my neck.  And no offense to male Japanese tourist’s but I looked like a Japanese Tourist without the racial features.  When I added a longer lens it was X2 all of the complaints that I just listed.  So I had to fix this.

What was I looking for:  EASY SAFE COMFORTABLE LIGHT WEIGHT carrier for a camera and lens. And if I can look cool at the same time….all the better.

I would get a cool camera bag.   Well….. I like bags….and there are hundreds to choose from.  I think I started with a lowepro, got another, got a larger one.   Eventually I ended up with a Tenba medium shootout bag. That was just going bag crazy.  I loaded all of my stuff, my tripod, and my laptop and it was 35 pounds.   It was like I was going backpacking.  It seems like I always have to experience the extremes before I settle into “just right”.

I ended up with a couple of million dollar crumpler bags ( the three and the six).  These are great bags, comfortable, relatively light weight…..and they made me look cool.   The 3 million dollar bag would hang down behind my butt and I had easy access to the bag.

It was safe in the bag….but you can’t take pictures in the bag…..can you.   And pulling the camera into and out of the bag was a little cumbersome.   I shoot with hoods and with a hood the 3 million dollar bag was too small.   Even the 6 million is smallish with a larger lens and hood (with hood installed for shooting).

So I read about wrist straps.  I tried several and ended up with an Optec wrist strap.   Another good product.   But now I have the camera in the bag when not in use and this strap hanging out.  It was still cumbersome getting out of the bag.   So I left the bag at home and would do my shooting with the wrist strap.  Now what was cool about this is that the camera was in my hand  ALL THE TIME!!   Ready to shoot at a moments notice.   Kinda like a gunslinger without a holster.   Gun in hand all the time……MAKE MY DAY !!!!!!

The problem was ….it was in my hand ALL THE TIME !!!!.   Talk about hand cramps……   And people would notice it and I am sure they would be thinking…. DORK….. CREEP…..

So I had to find something better…. I came across a video showing the Black Rapid Strap RS-4:







I had to get it. I mean… how cool is this…..

When it arrived at home it did not look like much….. $60 for a strap with a hook…. What the heck?

But I found it was cleverly designed,  easy to attach to the camera, it was very safe, very comfortable, very light, and very easy to get the camera in position.  Finally….. I think I looked cool with it strapped on…. Or at least as cool as a 60 year guy can looks with a camera dangling from him.   I went out for some shooting and it was very comfortable.  I tried it with my normal walk around zoom  (17-55mm) and then with the 70-200mm and also with the 100-400mm.   The padding, with the way it hung over the shoulder, was all very comfortable.   In addition there is a little zipper pocket on the strap.  It fits several CF cards and a spare battery which is very handy.

One thing I did not like was the attachment to the camera.  Its a straight male screw to the camera.  It was very sound and I would easily trust my camera dangling from it but what about tripod or monopod mounts.   I am really lazy and I do not like screwing things on, only to screw them off, to screw them on a tripod, only to then unscrew them, and then rescrew them into the strap.   I found a post for that.  Someone suggested setting up my camera stuff on the arca swiss quick disconnect system.   So I did.

I switched all of my manfrotto RC-2 Plates and clamps to Arca type.   That will be another blog post on why I think they are better.  And then I bought a 1″ Kirk arca clamp

1″ Kirk ARCA Swiss clamp

You put this on the RS-4 strap with an arca plate on the camera….WHA !! LAAA  !!!!  easy quick  on and off for the strap, a tripod,  or a monopod.


But everything is not perfect.  First the padded strap moves around if you are not careful.   Sometimes I find it behind my back and not on my shoulder.   Blackrapid gives you instructions on that… they say you need to keep tension on the strap as you bring it up for a shoot and then when you return it to a hanging position.  That works… but its not really a completely natural movement.    The second thing that I do not like is that with the RS-4 attached the camera does not sit upright because it has the arca plate, the arca clamp, and the RS-4 attached bolt.   It makes it a little cumbersome at a restaurant or cafe table.   That is not Blackrapids fault…. its my set up.   Finally,   this setup is great for walks or hikes, or strolls,  even light running….. but try climbing a pile a rocks or up a hill…..won’t work.  Gravity pulls the camera down very nicely to hit anything that you are leaning over.    The strap was not made for that.  What it needs is a tether that would attach to your waist belt for those situations… hmmmm   sounds like another Bobkeenanphoto modfication idea!

Despite my complaints…I still love it….. Its a great accessory to have…and I don’t leave home without it 🙂

Note that Black Rapid has lots of different styles.   But I like the RS-4.   Also there are other brands that do similar products like the Sunsniper.  Their product has a steel cable running through to to protect you against gyspy attacks….. I guess.

Lady Bug Macro

Posted by on Mar 9, 2011 in Blog | Leave a comment

This post is about a Lady Bug Macro shot I took today.

Lady Bug Macro


I had some fun today doing macro shots.   It was a little tough as it was overcast (not much light) and there was a breeze.   Its amazing how much stuff moves around with even the faintest of winds.   So I took this with a Canon 5D Mark II and a Canon 10omm f2.8 IS USM.   I used f16 at 1/40 shutter and ISO 1250.  I love the low light high ISO performance of this camera.   This is crop of the original.  Its probably about  40% of the original.

I probably waited around for 10 minutes for it to be calm enough to take the shot.   The next time I do this I will have some alligator clips or something to hold the flowers steady.

One funny thing…….  I would get this shot all set up with the bug facing me…. and just before I would take the shot he/she would turn around and put his back to me.    So I would re-set up on the other side…..and he/she would do it again.  This went on for 4 set-ups.  It was like she did not want me to take the shot????   Anyhow she finally settled down and let me do it.



Field Change of DSLR Lens

Posted by on Mar 8, 2011 in Blog | 1 Comment

Field Change of DSLR Lens

I hate DUST!!! Have you ever been all excited about a sunset somewhere, or a wedding, a safari with your DSLR camera. You take hundreds of shots. You change lenses. You put on fancy filters. You take multiple exposures for HDR. You fill up two CF cards. When you get home you are full of hopeful anticipation that you got some really good shots. But as you review them there are dust spot(s) and they are in places that you just cannot easily photoshop out. Its DUST!!!!

I hate Dust. So theoretically you cleaned everything before you left for your shoot… So where did the dust come from. Well…. one source is when you changed lenses. There is dust everywhere and hair, and pollen, and little bugs.

This post explains how I do a Field Change of DSLR Lens with minimum dust intrusion.

The problem is there always seems to be a need to change lenses. Even when you know exactly what you are going to shoot… will invariably see something that requires a different lens. I guess you could carry multiple cameras each with a different lens. But that’s a lot of gear around your neck or on your back.

I usually can get by with two lenses for most stuff. If they are small I stick one on my camera and the other in a bag. That even works up to my Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8 IS. Bigger than that I use a larger bag. But I still have to change the lens. And, most of the time, there is not a table or chair in site.

I checked on the internet, specifically, youtube, and found one really fast guy (he has since pulled his vid).  It looks fast but I do not think that I want to hold a 70-200 and 24-105 in one hand with just a couple of fingers between my $2000-3000 investment and the hard ground below.  But for smaller lenses its much faster than what I will suggest.

So I have developed a technique that I think keeps all of my stuff safe and minimizes the exposure to dust. I documented it on a youtube video that you can see below.



Be kind….. its my first video for my blog…..I should get better at this as I do more of these 😉

BTW I did a rough timing on this and it took about 30 seconds…not real speed…but safe… and clean enough, I think.