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October 2009 Archives

October 1, 2009

Review: BlackRapid R-Strap


BlackRapid R-Strap Turns the Camera World Upside Down

By Kim Larson

I thought a neck-strap was the only option I had for carrying around my camera until I spotted another photographer using a BlackRapid R-Strap. I was intrigued by the upside-down camera hanging at his side, and how easy it was for him to grab the camera to immediately start using it—I had to ask what it was.

It was the first version of the BlackRapid R-Strap, and I quickly went to order one myself. I’ve been happily using that same strap for two years now. The R-Strap fits over your shoulder like a messenger bag, so the camera hangs at your hip. The camera moves freely when you bring it up to your eye, while the strap stays put. And if it does happen to shift a bit, a little bumper on the strap will move the strap back into place when you put the camera back at your side.

The R-Strap has a shoulder piece that is heavily padded for comfort, and today’s versions of the R-Strap also feature pockets for holding small items. The RS-4 features a small zippered pocket for compact flash cards, while the RS-5 features additional pockets with magnetic closures for business cards and a small cell phone. I’ve never found the strap itself to be uncomfortable, even after 8 hours straight of wedding photography.


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October 29, 2009

Review: Benro Travel Angel Tripod

Big leg support with a small footprint

By Michael J. McNamara

A tripod is either a must-have accessory or a necessary evil, depending on what you’re shooting and how far you have to carry one. For travel and location shoots, a sturdy tripod gives you the support needed to maintain low-noise ISO settings, creatively blur motion with slower shutter speeds, or maximize depth-of-field with smaller apertures. If you’re on a tight budget, “sturdy” usually equates to heavy, and the benefits you get from a heavy tripod must be weighed against the hassle of carrying it, the space it takes up and the extra price you may incur for shipping it to various locations. On the other hand, smaller, lightweight tripods made of carbon fiber offer a superior weight-to-support ratio than metal models, but a decent one can cost you an arm and three legs.

A more affordable, compact and sturdy alternative is the Benro Travel Angel. This innovative aluminum model folds down to a mere 14.9-inch length, yet can be extended up to 59.6 inches tall. It’s also rated to hold a typical medium-sized DSLR with a zoom lens up to 8.8 pounds. For a recent overseas assignment, I paired the aluminum version with a Benro B-series Ballhead B-0 (this combo available as kit TRAB169 for  $231, and holds up to 17.6 pounds) as the support system for a new Panasonic DMC-GH1 camera system. Since the GH1 is one of the lightest interchangeable-lens cameras on the market (and one of the best dual-media cameras with full 1080P HD recording), I didn’t need the extra weight capacity of a larger tripod or the carbon fiber version of the Travel Angel (model TRCB169, $440 street, folds to 14.1 inches, extends to 58 inches high, and can support up to 17.6 pounds).


All Images ©Michael J. McNamara 2009

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Review: Eneloop Batteries

By Betsy Finn, CPP

Sanyo’s Eneloop batteries are a new twist on the traditional rechargeable battery; they can retain 85 percent of their capacity over a year’s time. Because of this unique characteristic, Sanyo is able to package Eneloop batteries so they’re ready to use when you need them. The question is: Does this convenience factor come at a cost in performance? Can professional photographers really rely on a battery that is only rated at 2,000 mAH (compared to the more typical 2650 mAh or 2900 mAh)?

I was curious to see how Eneloop batteries compared to standard Ni-MH rechargeable batteries. To compare their performance, I used three Nikon Speedlights with four batteries each, set on manual flash power (one as the on-camera master, the other two as remotes). One of the remote Speedlights would be powered by Eneloop batteries, the other by standard Ni-MH batteries. After doing some research online, I discovered that my Nikon SB-800 Speedlights, at full manual power, should have a recycle time of four seconds when using Ni-MH batteries, and allow for 150 shots to be fired (Source: KenRockwell.com). With that in mind as a guideline, I set out to test the 150-shot theory and see how the Eneloop batteries compared to the standard Ni-MH batteries.


Image ©Betsy Finn

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About October 2009

This page contains all entries posted to Professional Photographer Magazine Web Exclusives in October 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

September 2009 is the previous archive.

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Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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