Too Many Bags?

SO lock down is coming to an end, hopefully will get back to shooting more football in the coming weeks, if my shoulder ever heals up. I love Pelicases and have several, however for most of the jobs that I do, all they really add is extra weight, in the case of the 1650 an awful lot of it. OK I know it carries a lot of gear, but since tearing the Rotator Cuff I really wanted to reduce the amount of weight I physically lug around with me.

For football, depending upon the level/client that can mean anything from two bodies, 3 lenses and an iPad to 3 bodies, remotes, 6 lenses including a 400mm F2.8, monopod, clamps & minipod, laptop & associated bits a mini max stool. Which when split between a Think Tank Airport Accelerator and a Pelicase 1510, weighs a lot.

So I have decided to try a different route, a Think Tank Glass Limo for the 400mm and one body with monopod & odds & sods and the 1510 with 2 bodies, 8-15mm, 11-24mm, 24-70mm & 70-200mm, two 600RT flashes, meaning that I will have much less weight on my shoulders/back hopefully my chiropractor will thank me.

The trouble is that I probably have too many bags, with a Think Tank Retrospective 5, Lowepro Stealth, Lowpro backpack, Tenba P211, plus the Airport & Glass Limo. However whilst many of them are great bags, they are not ideal for every situation. The Stealth & Retrospective are great for shooting on the move, the Tenba is great for a single body, three lenses, and the backpacks are great load carriers but harder to work with. It’s the same with the Pelicases, the 1510 is great as a footy box, plus you can sit on it at a push, but not great on wet grass or mud, the 1650 is huge and will take most of my kit, which is then impossible to lift.

Manfrotto Upgrade

I had to order a couple of QR plates for a Manfrotto head, and when I saw the price for a piece of plastic, I looked at an alternative. Not only was it 2 plates for just over the price of 1 Manfrotto plate, they are made of metal and are actually easier to attach to a camera/lens as the Manfrotto plate has a very fiddly screw.

Time will tell how they will work out.

Don’t Use Filters

I don’t often use filters, with the exception of a polarising filter occasionally, but as it was Christmas I decided to treat myself. Years ago when I first seriously got into photography (about 1980) I had some Cokin Filters, but most of them were to gimmicky to use more than once. In fact now that I think about it, I may have to have a look for them.

[UPDATE] Found them, can’t find the holders (either the A or the P) or the adaptor rings, may have to have a look on Ebay!

Damned….

Damned I’d forgotten just how big this case is. I haven’t used my Peli Case 1650 for a while, it was used mainly for storage and security in the boot of the Jeep with a couple of steel cables & padlocks. But seeing as the new inserts from A-MoDe in Hong Kong had arrived I figured that I should install it and configure it ready for use in the new year. Only downside is once it is fully loaded it is bloody heavy. I may reconfigure it to be my football box with just the 400mm, 70-200mm and the 24-70mm & three bodies, flashguns, remotes mini tripod, monopod and laptop.

They’ve arrived

New inserts from Hong Kong for the Pelicases have arrived. They are substantially cheaper than the Pelicase originals, and are not quite as well made but they do seem good value for money. I have got them for the 1510 which houses my 400mm and some odds and sods, and for the 1650 which, whilst I don’t use it at the moment is capable of holding most of the camera kit, including 3 bodies, 8 lenses & three flashgun plus still plenty of room.

Don Zeck, No idea

Nope I have no idea who Don Zeck is, but he does a fine line in lens caps for big glass. The Canon supplied lens cap for the 400mm F2.8 is basically a Nose Bag, a right pain in the arse to use and only properly fits when the Lenshood is reversed. OK most of the time not a problem, but when it is not fitted it takes up an unnecessary amount of space. It won’t fit in your pocket!

Anyhoo only available to order from the US, and not exactly cheap (although cheaper than the Canon replacement) it arrived in about 15 days, which compared to the waiting time from stuff from China is not too bad. Just have to make sure that I don’t misplace this one.

New Wheels

The wheels on my 1650 Pelicase are crap, they are the original wheels fitted by Pelican, really hard plastic right upto the point that they start falling apart. I replaced the wheels on my 1510 Case a while back with some in-line skate wheels, however the 1650 uses much wider wheels. So I ordered some skateboard wheels 50mm diameter and 30mm wide, along with some bearings. Not perfect, I need to install some spacers but already much better than the original wheels.

Upgrade Time

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Whilst I enjoy the 11-24mm F4 immensely, at nearly 2 kilos it is a bit of a lump to lug around all day when you don’t need to shoot so wide. So it was time to upgrade a 17-40mm F4 L that I had knocking about to the latest 16-35mm F2.8L mkIII. And what an upgrade it is, just need to dial in all the AF Micro Adjustments and we are good to go. I use Reikan FoCal to calibrate, it is disappointing that Canon do not support the full automatic calibration process which would substantially reduce the amount of faffing about, but hey-ho.

A little Project

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Next week I am shooting some firework displays and I want to be able to have two cameras on a tripod one on a wide & another on a not so wide, however all of the remotes that I own don’t support keeping the shutter open in “Bulb” mode so I am going to make a work around, all in it will probably cost a ‘tenner’ but it will enable me to synch the two cameras. Some of the parts have arrived from RS Components, just waiting on a couple of 3.5mm sockets to finish it.

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[Update]  All finished and working as it should. I could have installed an LED and an On/Off switch but that would have added some additional bulk & weight.

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Finished Remote Trigger

 

Wider than Wide

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Canon EF 8mm-15mm F4L

Having invested relatively recently in a very wide piece of glass in the Canon 11-24mm, I decided that as I was enjoying it so much that I would add another wide to the kit bag, very nearly the widest that I have ever owned in fact. The last real fisheye lens that I had was a Canon FD 7.5mm F5.6 back in the 1980s, I don’t think I used it more than a couple of times before recycling it. So the latest addition is an 8-15mm F4L. which will probably be used a few times a year, but I have a few ideas for it, including a fireworks display that I am commissioned to shoot in the next 10 days or so.

New Toy Time

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Having had a Manfrotto 055 since about 1981 with the standard 115 Junior 3D head, I felt that it was time to upgrade, I don’t use tripods very often, primarily because the 058 TriAut  that I purchased in 2001, is fooking heavy and because the 055 had the horrible 115 head. Anyway doing an interior shoot recently reminded me just how bad the 115 Junior head was, so I have replaced it with a MH804.

The Manfrotto 058 will likely as not remain mostly at home during shoots, but the new head means that the 055 will live in the boot of the car.

Initial thoughts on the MH804 is wow, that is so much better, but then it didn’t have to do much to be an improvement, not as solid as the MH229 that my other ‘pod has, but very definitely an upgrade.

Damned that’s wide

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Decided that it was time to go, super-wide, had a 14mm F2.8L & a 15mm F2.8, but after reading the reviews available decided that I really should have a Canon EF11-24mm F4L in the bag. Got an acceptable price for the 14mm from MPB and a 16-35mm F2.8L and went for it. Damned it is a heavy piece of glass, but feels nicely balanced on a 1Dx, would probably feel a little strange on a 5D or similar without a vertical grip.

I have to say that I am really very impressed with the quality on the test shots that I have done so far.

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New Toy Time

Canon Ef11-24mm

It’s arrived, Yay…Hopefully that will be the last acquisition for a while. I decided to bite the bullet & buy the lens that I have been hankering for since the announcement of its release.

The Canon 11-24mm F4L is certainly Canons widest linear corrected zoom lens. It is quite a weighty piece of glass. It is nice to use however the lens cap is a bit of a pain, because of the size of it, it will not fit in a pocket easily so I picked up a Lee Filters fabric cap.

Whoops, A gentle reminder

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I was shooting at football yesterday and noticed that the lens mount felt loose, with the 70-200mm on the camera, carried on shooting as I had no alternative with me, and in a couple of frames there was a definite alignment issue. As you can see in the image below, muzzy top right and bottom left.

GCFC v RPV 0022

Got home later that day & checked, and all four of the lens mount screws were loose, not just a little bit loose either. I usually remove and reinstall them with some thread-lock when I buy the lens, but I appear to have missed this lens. So tightened them all back up & then thread-locked each one in turn.  Whilst was at it I checked all of my other glass, without finding a problem, which is good news, as they are all transported and used in the same manner.

SO if you haven’t recently checked any screws that you can access are done up correctly, now is the time to do it.

Important job coming up

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SO time for sensor & lens cleaning session, sensor cleaning is relatively painless, a quick wipe with Fairy Liquid & a pan scourer, obvs not the steel type, but the nylon ones. Lenses will be polished with windolene, the only downside is that it turns crusty & when wiping off and needs a lot of canned air or the close proximity of a powerful vacuum cleaner, the kind that the EU have now banned, so fire up the 10 year old “enry”.

On the other hand, seeing as I have some of this stuff knocking about …

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Should only take about an hour to do three sensor cleans & 8 lenses (although only 4 will probably be used), including test photos & re-cleans. Then charge & condition the camera batteries (best do all of them) and charge the Eneloops and the Turbo also. Pack all the gear into the motor & actually do some work!

 

If you have a Manfrotto Magic Arm

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If you have a Manfrotto Magic Arm and it makes a horrible clunk & or grinding noise when you lock it in place then you have a problem, not an insolvable one, but a bit fiddly.

The problem seems to be a bearing that jumps out of its runner so it needs to be put back in its place.

You will need an allen key, you may need some grease as well,  if it has been doing it a while there may be bits of ball bearing floating around, so you may also need a replacement bearing set. Which are available from our friends  Manfrotto Spares in Dunsfold .

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Firstly loosen off the silver allen bolt a couple of turns, this will free up the locking handle end so that the handle can be removed by unscrewing it. Make sure that you keep the assembly together in your hands as you will otherwise be hunting for the 9 ball bearings on the floor. Once the handle has been removed you will see the three seats for the bearings.

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Simply place one bearing in each seat, and re-assemble, takes all of 5 minutes. Job done, no more grinding.

Good luck , as with most things, Don’t try it if you are not confident that you can manage it, as I shall not be answering individual requests for help (probably), and don’t try it if you are in the warranty period, also accept no responsibility for you getting bearings stuck up your nose or any other orifice.

 

 

iCap Review

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iCap Min Pro, nicely packed into it’s pouch

Having had the iCap for just over week, I thought I’d share my thoughts. Firstly it is a great idea and works really rather well, especially at football when it is peeing with rain, I have it sitting on top of my ThinkTank Airport Accelerator V2.0 which in turn is lying on top of my PeliCase 1510. This means that the laptop is at a nice working height for me whilst sitting on the MinMax stool.

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Macbook Pro all snug in the iCap

It provides great protection (in this case to a 13.3 Macbook Pro) from the rain, and it would work equally as well as a sun shade.

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iCap folded flat, in readiness for either erecting or packing away

 

The only issue that I have, and it becomes less of a problem the more I have practiced it, is folding it away to fit back in it’s little pouch. I have managed it a couple of times, but probably need to practice a few more times before being entirely comfortable with it.

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iCap folded back into it’s little pouch, honest I did manage it

U

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“U is for Umbrella, we use it in the rain, we hope that we shan’t want one, till we’re home again”

Photographing football almost certainly means at some point in the season you are going to get very wet, and as everyone knows computers & water don’t mix, so to protect the laptop whilst wiring from pitchside I have acquired a cover.

I have managed to put it up and fold it back into it’s case, I think that a couple of practice sessions with it are required before it goes used in anger (unless it pees with rain on Saturday).

Whoops

 

Canon 85mm F1.2 0019

I have always wanted another 85mm F1.2L, I had a FD 85mm F1.2L back in the old days when I was shooting with Canon F1n bodies. Had to buy it, it was too good a deal not to. Will get around to calibrating it, and getting used to it. It is a huge block of glass, AF seems pretty reasonable if not particularly fast. Looking forward to having a play with it.

 

One of the things that is really impressive is the size of the rear element, there is no wiggle room at the lens mount, in fact the electronic contacts are actually hanging out over the glass.

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All ready for next week

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I have decided that I shall run a remote, behind the goal at the last few games of the season, so with that in mind I ordered a Manfrotto Pixi Evo 2 mini tripod which looks the “mutts”. Time will tell if it  is man enough for the job,  I also have a very well used EOS 1Dx winging it way to me  & I shall stick my 15mm on it and see how we go. Coupled with a couple of PocketWizard Plus III remotes we are good to go.

I am not sure how I will shoot through the match yet, I think 2 CF Cards and remove one at half time, and then the second one post match, or if nothing interesting has happened then just leave it. The only thing that I must remember to do is synchronise all three camera bodies so that the images display in the correct time sequence._PB19768A_PB19764A

 

Think Tank

I have used Think Tank gear for a number of years and rate them very highly, not only are their products excellent, the Customer Service is beyond reproach.

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Think Tank Artificial Intelligence 13 v 3Laptop bag

Having been downsized my laptop a year or so back, I finally got around to replacing the Think Tank Laptop bag with one the correct size. Having a 13″ laptop in a 15″ case always felt wrong & seeing as the strap had definitely seen better days, it was time to upgrade.

Whilst I was there I thought I may as well get the accreditation pouches as well, seeing as I am constantly hunting through my pockets for them (especially at Brentford).

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Think Tank Credential Holder (Long & Short)

Gitzo Pod

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18/03/2018. Gitzo Travel MonoPod GM2562T

 

Having had a Manfrotto CarbOne monopod for about 18 years & an aluminium Manfrotto monopod since 1980, it seemed about time to replace, especially as the Clip Locks on the CarbOne are difficult to use with gloves on. After some research (OK I looked on Amazon) I found one that will do the job, and as a bonus will also fit in the Pelicase with the 400mm, rather than being “bungy strapped” to the outside of the case.

As with most things that are overpriced, it came in  very luxurious packaging, including a plastic holder containing an Allen key & a set of instructions. Whilst it is not as tall as either of my other monopods, it will be used whilst sitting down 95% of the time.

 

F*ck that’s wide

18/03/2018. Canon 14mm F2.8L mkII

18/03/2018. Canon 14mm F2.8L mkII

 

I haven’t had a 14mm for a little while,  the last one that I had was a Sigma 14mm F2.8 which I had on loan for a review which was Ok, prior to that I had a Canon 14mm F2.8L which was pretty poor, not sure whether I just had a poor example or whether they were all as bad. However, I decided that I should have one in my bag, so I went for the Canon 14mm F2.8 L mkII.

I will update when I have had a chance to use it in anger!

To Good To Refuse

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I  always fancied an Angle Finder going back to when I was shooting film with Canon A-1s, but they were always too expensive for the amount of use that I would get from one. One came up recently that was priced such that it was an offer I couldn’t refuse. It is in absolutely mint condition, and came with both eye-piece adaptors & original pouch. Whilst I probably will never use it it is a nice bit of kit & will live in the camera bag.

 

iPad Workflow

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For shooting football I mainly use an iPad for moving images quickly. The Workflow is quite simple and effective. The camera bodies are connected to the iPad via WFT-E6s and configured to work with ShutterSnitch. I have the cameras set up so that I can select individual frames to the iPad.  ShutterSnitch recieves the images and performs a couple of automated tasks, including a basic caption, renaming & copying to the camera roll. Continue reading

Eventually….

14/10/2017. Fulham v Preston North End. Action from the Sky Bet Championship.

It has taken a while, but I have found a second WFT-E6 at a sensible price, which now means that I can shoot with both bodies and wi-fi the images to my iPad. I cannot believe how expensive these things are new, and as I mainly use them at football, nearly £500 each was to expensive to justify.

In most situations they are overkill, the Eye-Fi mobi pro cards did the job, unless there was a lot of wi-fi interference, which on match days there frequently is. As you can probably imagine several thousand supporters, plus TV & the such like all using WiFi means that the airwaves are congested. Not a problem on most news stories, when there are just a few photographers & journalists about, however I do like the fact that I can send images direct from the camera to the picture desk, with as little or as much interaction as I wish.

It is also great when doing corporate shots, so that the client can see images as they are shot (subject to me checking them on the back of the camera first!)

That’s it, no more spending

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This year has been an expensive year, upgraded from the old EOS1D mkIV bodies, replaced all the glass, replaced flashguns, upgraded iPad, laptops & desktop machines, repaired a Quantum Turbo, serviced the studio kit, & the list goes on. So no more money is being spent on photographic equipment this year. Unless a Sigma 150-600 OS Sport comes up at an unbeatable price, or a Canon 400mm F2.8 or a 500mm F4 or…………

Just when you think it’s all over

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Having upgraded & replaced just about everything in the kit bag over the last 12 months, the Quantum Turbo decides it’s time to stop working. I have ordered a replacement cell, which will be here tomorrow & with luck that will cure the problem, as I have no plans to replace the Quantum with the Quantum 3 (over £500) when I only use it occasionally.

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Anyway it is a quite simple process, but a right royal pain in the arse, undoing the three screws was simple enough, and getting the control panel & electrics a bit of the way out was easy enough, however Quantum use a bit of industrial double sided tape to secure the battery to the case, obviously not anywhere that it is easy to reach or indeed obvious to spot.

Anyway a lot of swearing and the whole assembly is out of the box.

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I can’t really complain, I have had the Quantum since some time in the early 2000s, and although it has been used 15 years between services can’t be too bad. I ordered the replacement battery from http://www.batterycompany.co.uk on Sunday night & it should be here tomorrow (Tuesday) pretty good service & cheap £22.00 including shipping.

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** Update** Well that went well,  all reassembled and working perfectly, with no left over bits, and no rattles either. Just a full recharge required.

Another Upgrade

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Probably my least used lens over the last 18 years is the 28-70mm F2.8L which for the most part sits in my kit bag as the 16-35mm & the 70-200mm are almost permanently bolted to my cameras. Looking back in my Archive, it seemed that it was used for less than 5,000 frames. So even though it was time to upgrade, I didn’t think that the extra weight & cost of the 24-70mm F2.8L was worth it, so I have replaced it with the smaller & lighter 24-70mm F4L IS.

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Time to Upgrade

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It has been a while, the Canon 16-35mm F2.8L I have since it’s original launch in the UK, even though it has been serviced it is time to retire the old girl, also the 17-40 F4 L that I purchased as a temporary replacement is to go on ebay also.

I can’t justify a brand new 16-35mm F2.8 mkIII so I have a brand new old stock 16-35mm F2.8 L mkII.

Also contemplating replacing the equally old 28-70mm F2.8 L as it is a similar age to the 16-35mm and the 70-200mm F2.8 L (all of which were purchased in 2001 along with a pair of EOS 1D bodies).

New Toy

 

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Don’t do much macro work, probably two jobs in the last year or so, that have actually come close to requiring a macro lens, but I was able to get away with a 24-70 & extension tubes. But I decided that it was time to invest. So a 100mm F2.8 Macro lens has been added to the arsenal. For the most part it will probably seldom leave the house, but it is handy to have.

Back in the 80s

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Back in 1980 I used a Tenba P211 bag for my kit, it comfortably held a Canon A1 with MA set & 50mm F1.4, a 24mm F2, a 100mm F2.8 and a 70-210mm, with a 199A Speedlight, plus half a dozen rolls of film.

I was hoping to find a nice condition period one, but have been unsuccessful, so purchased the new Tenba P211 Classic. as a bag that can be thrown in the car. Whilst it won’t take the same volume of kit as before, due to the much larger size of the equipment, so it will hold a EOS1dx, 40mm STM, 24mm, 100mm & a 580EXII along with an iPad.

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