Anyone that’s done even minor amounts of skin retouching will tell you that using a mouse is a great way to get RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury). Ultimately a Pen and Tablet is a much better way. Generally the barrier to entry is price. Wacom are the king of this brand, with the Intuos Touch hitting almost €500.
That’s not an ideal starting price, but there are other options, and from the same company too. Wacom have a starter series called the ‘Bamboo’ range. I became familiar with them from their older Bamboo Fun. With a mix of speaking arrangements made, I felt that I really needed something for travel, rather than dealing with the frustration of using a trackpad on my older Macbook Pro.
The best option for price and size was the Bamboo Pen, which cost €65 from my local Mac store Galmac. The tablet is reasonably large, but the working area is smaller. The pen can be stored with it too, sliding into a luminous green cloth retainer on the side-perfect for travel. The USB cable is a slightly more obscure variety, so needs looking after though.
In use the Bamboo Pen feels right and is comfortable to use. Bearing in mind that I was doing 4 different talks at Focus on Imaging each day, and setting up and breaking down in 2 minutes, it performed flawlessly. It doesn’t weigh much either, so it doesn’t impact on travel weight, always a concern with low cost airlines.
The sensitivity is not as high as an Intuos, but is still more than enough to get going. You can overcome this a little by zooming in more though. Going from mouse/trackpad to tablet use takes practice. It’s key that you set the tablet to tablet mode in preferences or it can be a struggle to learn properly. In tablet mode the working area represents the whole screen (or multi screen) area. Moving to a point on the tablet corresponds to that part of the screen.
The Bamboo Pen comes with the ‘Bamboo Dock’ app, which has widgets to help you practice using the pen and getting proficient with it. Personally I rarely use a mouse these day and prefer the pen and tablet for everything. Would I recommend the Pen as a starter or travel product? Yes, without hesitation.
I recently made an order with Bessel in the UK. I needed a few bits, and have been hankering for a boom arm to use for hairlights/overhead light. I do have an Enlichrom Polystand, which is pretty amazing. I use that for my main light though. As much as I love it, I couldn’t ever justify buying a 2nd one. Bessel do a boom they call the Incline Arm Stand. There’s no direct link, it’s in the middle of the stands page at a cheap £49.99 plus VAT. Over 1/4 of the price of the Polystand, albeit with no wheels.
Being the 3rd November, everyone is waiting with baited breath to see what Canon will be announcing in Hollywood today at 3pm PST.
Of course this post is actually nothing to do with that, but people probably think it is! Nope.. it’s far more retro than that. I’m a Holga owner, and my first one was bought through the Lomography website. That means I paid over the odds for it, but I did get a nice photo book with it.
Today, they’ve a big announcement about the Lomokino. It’s a hand cranked movie camera that uses 35mm film. Not as 35mm, but rather 144 frames on a 36 shot film roll. There’s also a kit with a KinoScope, that lets you play back the developed film, again a hand cranked device.
Pricewise, you’re looking at €65 for the camera, or €89 for a kit with the camera and KinoScope. Not bad for a little retro movie making.
Everyone is on the Zacuto band wagon these days, with their finally crafted and almost jeweler like attention to detail and looks. Unfortunately that comes at a price, and for me, I simply couldn’t justify it. Fellow photographer Corin Bishop was raving about his new LCDVF, so I asked where he got it and ordered.
I’ve been familiar with the LCDVF since it was pie in the sky, with nice mockups and post on various forums. I’d put it to the back of my mind, but a recent, very low light, gig led me to reconsider my needing one. Most people get these viewfinders for video, to give a better view of the screen, and to act as an additional point of support. While the support is indeed a boon, I really wanted it so I can manually focus in entirely backlit gigs. Yes I shoot video too, but not seriously, so it wasn’t a prime motivator-but a factor nevertheless.
As part of the Galway Arts Festival, And So I Watch You From Afar played in the Roisin Dubh. Lighting was primarily from the LED parcans at the back and in the end I had to manually focus on moving people, as autofocus simply did not work. Nightmare. I’m sure there’ll be Nikon D3/s users saying it’d be a breeze for them, but I’ve a 5DII and that’s that.
I’ve been playing around with the LCDVF since it came, and I really like it. I’ve used it to do some video work and an ambeint light day shoot. It’s really bright and really clear. So bright that I have compensate in my head for what I’m seeing! Some of the images that looked okay on the screen are underexposed: Usually I can trust the screen without it. As the day was really bright, having the viewfinder made reviewing a breeze.
Verdict: I really like it. While it doesn’t have a diopter like the Zacuto, the magnification is perfect as is focus. Hard to beat for the money.
The jump from the Canon 40D to the 50D was like that from the 20D to the 30D: incremental, evolutionary, but not revolutionary. The 60D is more revolutionary. Most of the changes are for the better, but others are for the worse, especially if you have a 40D, or 50D. So just consider these before making the jump, after all, your current camera didn’t stop working just because the 60D was announced!
1. Slower frame rate. The 60D shoots at 5.3 frames per second. This sounds good until you realise the 50D shot 6.3 frames per second. If you’re shooting sports or action, this is a major step back.
2. Change of controls. For years Canon has used a back wheel and a joystick to navigate photos and menus. In their wisdom they’ve changed it, meaning long term users have to relearn their cameras.
3. Megapixels. More megapixels is more of a curse. 12 megapixels is sufficient for most things, and the increased jump to 18 is ridiculous. In addition to the extra card space required, higher megapixels means more photosites on the sensors, which tends towards more noise.
4. Shutter Life. The shutter on the 60D will wear out long before the 50D with 100,000 vs 150,00 shutter cycles.
5. Battery. Rather than the BP511 that has been the hallmark of the X0D series cameras, the 60D has changed to the LP-E6, the same battery as 5DII and 7D. While the LP-E6 does allow the camera to have ‘Battery Info’, there is a lot of cheaper aftermarket batteries for the BP511 vs few for the LP-E6.
The 60D has just been announced, and this time it’s a major jump in design and features. Some great new features, some changed features too. Here’s some of the good stuff.
1. Articulated screen. Canon have finally taken the plunge giving the 60D an articulated screen. Very useful for video, and for macro and ground level shots.
2. Better metering. The 60D has the same 63 zone metering of the 7D.
3. Video. The 60D has the same video as the 7D. Mix this with the articulated screen, and you have more versatile video options.
4. Speedlite control. The 60D, like the 7D allows you to remotely control speedlites from the on camera flash. It’s great to see this becoming a standard feature on Canon cameras. This is similar to the CLS Nikon users have had for ages. I love this on the 7D, so it’s great to see it migrating to new cameras.
5. Focus. While the 60D still has 9 focus points, they’re all cross type, with the center cross being f2.8-type (meaning that it has higher precision with lenses of f2.8 or faster).
One problem with having a 2 head Quadra kit is easy transport. I did get a nice case with the kit, and I even managed to make space for a second pack in it. But carrying this in one hand with a shoulder bag and a stands bag has proved fruitless.
As I’ve a lot of varied kit, I have a variety of camera bags floating about. Knowing I’ve a reasonably long walk tomorrow with the kit means there was no way I was going to bring the case. So I looked through my bags and found a Lowe Pro Computrekker. I don’t use it because when it’s full of camera gear and a laptop, it’s impossible to lift. But for this it’s absolutely perfect.
Strobist Info: Canon G10 with STE-2 triggering a 580EXII using ETTL, on a Lastolite Ezybox Hotshoe 60cm, held with the extension arm position to the rear of the bag. The G10 was near and was ‘good enough’ for a record shot like this.
Update: After carting this around today, this rocks. Much more comfortable. Now to figure out a way of making carrying my 95cm Octa, Striplight, Beauty Dish, Maxispot and stands easier!
As a lover and user of the Elinchrom Ranger Quadra system, I’m delighted to see there’s now a group on Flickr dedicated to them. There was 7 members after I joined last night, but now there’s 17, so a good start!
Flickr Quadra group