Peak Design II (with video)

Back in 2012, I began looking for another way to connect my camera to camera straps, wrist straps, and tripods. ¬†The problem was this, if there was a strap to keep the camera safe from accidental dropping, it almost always interfered with the tripod plate. ¬†It pd3almost always involved having to unscrew something, connect something else, then redo it all over again when done. ¬†There was nothing that¬†seamlessly linked my wrist cuff, strap, and tripod plate, they all seemed to work against each other and not together. That‚Äôs when I discovered Peak Design gear, it appeared to solve all this. ¬†If it worked as advertised, it would mean no more fumbling around with equipment and no more straps that didn‚Äôt work with other products. ¬†I checked in to it and my love affair with them began. ¬†While I‚Äôve used many of Peak Design products over the years, mostly camera bags and rain covers; however, pd4it’s the products that I’ve used almost daily since 2012 that I’m writing about today. ¬†Peak Design does make some excellent bags but after back surgery, my frame is a little touchy about what is hung on it for long periods. ¬†I’ve found something that works better for my needs, but if my back could handle it I’d still be using their Everyday Messenger Bag¬†as it’s probably the best all around bag I’ve ever had and only camera bag I’ve ever missed.

Back to today’s topic, this is gear I’ve been using practically every day for the last seven years. ¬†I wrote about these products in a blog entry on June 27, 2016 called Peak Design. ¬†In that article I said, “I can‚Äôt see myself walking out of the house to shoot without a piece of¬†Peak Design gear on me,” that still holds true today! ¬†However, looking back at that article, it seemed that a video might do a better job explaining how these work. ¬†So here’s an attempt at better explaining these products, hopefully….

 

The attempted fun aside, in about a minute and a half the camera went from a shoulder carry strap, to a wrist cuff, then two separate tripod mounts, to a backpack carry using the Peak Design Capture, and ending up back on the tripod. ¬†Admittedly, there was help from my personal assistant and daughter, but that was only to avoid dead time between swaps. ¬†The goal wasn’t to show how fast it could be done but how versatile the gear integrates. ¬†As the video demonstrates, everything centers around Peak Design’s Anchors and the Dual Plate, which also allows the connection. ¬†The Anchors can be placed anywhere on camera that allows for carrying and also on the Dual Plate itself. ¬†Using a Dual Plate means there is never a thought about how to carry the camera and as shown in the video, it works on Manfrotto and Arca-type tripod heads. ¬†It simply doesn’t matter if the camera is carried on a wrist cuff, sling, backpack, and you decide to put the camera on a tripod because it’s all integrated. ¬†Back in 2012, Peak Design appeared to be the only company doing this. ¬†Their gear is so much a part of my photography life I can‚Äôt see myself without these. ¬†Using the Sling, Cuff, and Dual Plate with Capture means less time screwing around and more time shooting. Frankly, these items are as important to me as a camera bag. ¬†I say this because of how much time previously spent connecting a camera to various straps and tripods. ¬†You’ll find a Sling and Cuff in each of my bags and, although they haven’t gone bad, I keep an extra Anchor or two in there too (I replace them yearly). ¬†There are also Dual Plates on both cameras making everything easy peasy lemon squeezy.

It’s not unusual to get looks or be approached by other photographers when I’m seen wearing a camera on a backpack harness. ¬†Most seem skeptical till I tell them it’s worked for years and I’ve got 100% confidence in it. ¬†I’m not some uber rich guy who can afford to drop a camera or two… ¬†I’ve seen plenty of doubters online as well, then someone says “that looks like Peak Design” and explains it. ¬†So the word is getting out on this well built gear. ¬†My original Dual Plate and Capture were purchased in 2012 and still work perfectly. ¬†Yes, this gear isn’t cheap but buy it once and you won’t be spending money again for a long time! ¬†Currently, the Capture sells for $49.95 and the Dual Plate for $24.95. ¬†If you don’t use a tripod and have no need for the Dual Plate, you can buy the Capture with an Arca plate combination for $69.95. ¬†Click [HERE] to visit their various straps and cuffs. ¬†Below are some photos of the Dual Plate and Capture attached to backpacks and bags, it doesn’t get any better. ¬†Lastly, as stated in the video, there is no affiliation between myself and Peak Design, I get absolutely nothing if you purchase their products. ¬†However, if you do make the leap, I’m pretty sure you won’t regret it.

 

Geekoto X25 Defender Review

When the folks at Geekoto approached me about testing a tripod, at first I was flattered. However, later I was actually a little scared because I wondered what I would do if it just wasn‚Äôt very good?  Then what?  I decided that if it wasn’t very good I’d send it back with a polite, “thanks but no thanks.”  Fortunately, that wasn‚Äôt the case as this tripod was quickly a pleasant surprise!  Out of the box, the Geekoto X25 Defender tripod appeared to be a very sturdy aluminum alloy construction and surprisingly well-built considering it cost much less than my currentScreen Shot 2019-03-06 at 15.48.13 tripod.  I had everything needed to get started including a tripod plate, an allen wrench to tighten down parts, and even a decent carrying bag.  Immediately, everything on the X25 Defender was easy to understand; if you‚Äôve used any name brand tripod you‚Äôll understand every feature instantly from the leveling bubble to securing the legs; everything makes sense.  My attention was draw to features and quality that scream this thing should cost more than $150!  All the moving parts are smooth and everything locks down well with no drift in the ball head when you clamp it down for a shot.  Even the plastic on X25 doesn‚Äôt seem cheaply built!  While I‚Äôve only had it for a few weeks, it does look like it will stand the test of time.  These are just my initial observations, everything about this tripod looks very promising. 

When I took it out shooting I noticed that my height of 5 foot 9 inches tall, this thing extends beyond my height out to 75 inches.  That said, like any tripod, the higher you extend it the less stable it becomes.  This tripod does as well as any other here, possibly better.  However, it‚Äôs more stable if Geeketo 2you extend the thinner legs last and go as high you can without raising the center.  On this day I wanted to see if the X25 Defender could handle a heavier load so I put a Tamron 150-600 G2 lens on my Canon 6D for a weight of about 6 pounds and extended everything out and it was surprisingly sturdy (photo at left)!  I wouldn’t recommend using this setup in extreme wind, but the point is that for every day use this tripod does a great job, but it can handle more.  If it can handle this bulky setup, I think it proves one aspect of its versatility.  One other feature worth discussing, the X25 Defender converts to a monopod as well!  When shooting I sometimes consider whether to bring a tripod or not, at times a monopod is just more practical so I then have decide tripod or monopod?  With this Geekoto tripod both options are readily available, very cool indeed! 

In my opinion, this Geekoto tripod is much better than most travel tripods I‚Äôve owned.  When I‚Äôm at home I carry my carbon fiber tripod as it‚Äôs much more stable, however, it takes up way too much space when flying.  This tripod is somewhere between that tripod you have at home but can‚Äôt carry and the travel tripod you pack on trips because it fits in your luggage.Geeketo 1  The important item here, there‚Äôs not much compromising with this tripod, oh and it’s rated to hold 22 pounds!   This is a great entry-level tripod or an excellent travel tripod and frankly, I‚Äôve paid more money for travel tripods that weren‚Äôt as nice as this one!  All in all, the Geekoto X25 Defender packs a lot of punch with a 360 degree panoramic ball joint combined with a center tube that also swivels 360 degrees allowing you to set this tripod up in just about any conceivable angle.  At the bottom of the center tube is a clip to hang a weight such as a camera bag, something my big name tripod doesn’t even have! Oh did I mention it has a monopod build in?  That’s bang for the bucks!

Like camera bags, no tripod is perfect, there were a couple of minor things that I personally wish were different but nothing that would be a deal break.  For instance, I prefer lever locks on the legs, it’s easier to visualize if they’re locked or not.  Also, the lockdown nut for the center tube at the base of the tripod, I’d prefer a screw type mechanism.  Neither of these are the end of the world, just a personal thing…  All in all I beleive this tripod should last a long time if properly cared for and not abused.  You can purchase your Geekoto Defender at Geekoto.com or Amazon.com for just $149.98, that’s about one quarter of what I spent my current tripod.  The Geekoto X25 Defender is a great bargain and solid tripod, I would gladly recommend this to anyone not wanting to spend a fortune yet wanting quality.  My plan is to keep using if for a while and maybe write more in the future.  Everything about using this tripod was a positive experience and I look forward to seeing Geekoto’s future offerings.  Thank you Geekoto for this great opportunity!

* Photos of me were taken by my daughters Amanda and Melinda Chizek.Screen Shot 2019-03-06 at 18.21.20

The Everyday Sling, Continued…

In this post¬†I wanted to follow up on my original review of Peak Design’s Everyday Sling back in September 2016 (see The Everyday Sling¬†blog post). ¬†Back then I stated,¬†“if you have a mirrorless system and want to travel light, THIS IS YOUR BAG! ¬†People who use¬†mirrorless systems are usually trying to keep the load¬†light.” ¬†I went on to say that if I had a mirrorless camera, “this would be my bag 24/7!” ¬†Well, I meant it, and after writing that post I actually ended up purchasing a Sony A7R mirrorless camera a month later and decided to give the Everyday Sling a¬†shot as my every day bag. ¬†There were two reasons for doing this; first, I switched to a mirrorless to lighten the load due to ongoing back issues resulting from surgery in 2010. ¬†Second, the folks at¬†Purple Orange Brand Communications¬†and¬†Peak Design¬†had given me a courtesy Everyday Sling and I felt I needed to give it a shot. ¬†Plus, since I shot my mouth off about how great it was, I needed to do this! ¬†Let me say upfront that the switch was easy and I’m very happy.

bcpnet2When I received my Everyday Sling, I used it on days I wanted to travel light, usually¬†taking¬†my Canon 6D and another lens only to head out somewhere on my bike or walking. ¬†For the most part, the rest of the bag really didn’t have much in the pockets. ¬†Using the Sling now as my every day carry means that it’s obviously heavier because I now¬†carry many of the items I used to carry in the Everyday Messenger. ¬†Heavier? Yes, but still very manageble and in no way is it uncomfortable. ¬†The bag is designed to expand out and away from your body as you add contents, making it still comfortable to carry. ¬†I also find myself usuing the adjustable strap more than I did with the Everyday Messenger. ¬†The Sling seems to feel better when I wear it high on my back, so when I need the camera I rotate the bag and lower it¬†to get in. ¬†Because of the way this bag’s strap is designed it’s almost one smooth movement and takes no extra time. ¬†So what are the drawbacks? ¬†Well, if you tried this as your main bag and carried something bigger than a mirrorless, or carried 2 or 3 lenses, I don’t think it would fare well. ¬†Strapping a tripod to the bottom seems like it could be a it of a pain as well. ¬†Don’t get me wrong, this little bag will do it, I just don’t know how comfortable it would be weighing it down so much. ¬†Frankly, if you were carrying a regular size DSLR and a couple of lenses, the Everyday Messenger is the better choice anyway.

bcpnetAfter four months of carrying the Everyday Sling, I’m comfortable recomending it to mirroress camera owners who are looking for a protective bag for their camera that is full of features. ¬†While I still love my Everyday Messenger Bag¬†(or EDM), my former every day carry, that bag is now for when I’m going to travel and need to bring along extras. ¬†When I wrote about the Everyday Messenger in my post “Everyday Messenger, is the honeymoon over?” in May 2016 I truly believed I had found the perfect bag and never thought I’d switch cameras. ¬†For what I used to carry, a Canon 6D with a lens attached and two more in the bag, the Everyday Messenger¬†was perfect. ¬†However, since switching¬†to the Sony A7R, the Everyday Sling seemed a better fit, and this is true because of the lighter camera body and less lenses. ¬†Don’t get me wrong, I still love the EDM and it’s still the best bag I’ve ever owned, but it’s now my travel bag. ¬†At 54 years old I still learn something new almost every day and the lesson learned here is this; if someone asks if you’d like to try a product, you might want to take them up on it. ¬†When originally contacted about trying out a bag, I told them I was plenty happy with my Everyday Messenger, fortunately they still sent me a bag. ¬†I say this because had¬†Purple Orange Brand Communications¬†not contacted me I definitely would NOT¬†have bought the Everyday Sling, I was completely content with the EDM. ¬†Again, a HUGE thank you to Purple Orange Brand Communictions and the wizards at Peak Design for giving me the opportunity to use the Everyday Sling!

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Goodbye Canon ūüė≠

This isn’t an angry “screw Canon” sort of message, it’s actually a bit sad for me as I’ve been a loyal Canon user for eight years now. I have also loved every Canon camera I’ve owned, as well as their lenses. Most recently were the¬†EOS 6D, and L Series lenses because¬†they’ve gone with me everywhere and that is part of the problem. ¬†I learned so much on Canon’s T3i, EOS 7D and 6D, not to mention those cameras made photography fun. ¬†However, I had back surgery back in 2010 and carrying a camera bag with just a couple of lenses has gotten to be¬†too much for my lower back. ¬†I needed to find a lighter alternative, it wasn’t an easy process or decision. ¬†However, the first hurdle was cleared when my wife gave the go ahead, easy right? ¬†Just buy a lightweight mirrorless camera setup after a little research and bam, new camera on the way! ¬†Well, not so fast…

_a-wjcI’m not wanting to name¬†the brands I looked at because I’ll get slammed by every fanboy and brand loyalist on the planet. ¬†Nor do I want to have to justify my decision to anyone, this is how I found what will hopefully work for me. ¬†However, I will say this, Canon’s mirrorless systems were at the top of the list, and sadly the image quality of the new Canon M5 just wasn’t there; I really wanted a Canon mirrorless… ¬†No matter which brand I decided to go with, even Canon, I was looking at buying all new lenses so this wasn’t going to be cheap. ¬†Now, with Canon unfortunately out of the way, I began looking at every other mirrorless system out there. ¬†I found an unlikely system that was very unfamiliar to me but¬†looked very promising, I ordered it and knew I had a 30 day return policy during which time I’d shoot images in back yard with my Canon 6D and the new camera to compare image quality. ¬†If I liked the results, I’d keep the new mirrorless; if not, I’d return it. ¬†With a new ¬†mirrorless camera on the way and a plan, I felt good; or so I thought. ¬†I was really dumping my Canon 6D, I LOVE my 6D… ¬†Then I¬†stumbled upon the Interactive Studio Scene widget at Digital Photography Review¬†or DPR.¬† It’s essentially a studio photo that has images¬†taken with just about every camera out there using multiple settings shooting in JPEG and RAW allowing you to¬†compare image quality side by side in just about every conceivable way. ¬†You can even download these photos to enlarge them on your computer and knit-pick at blown up details. ¬†Hold on here, did this mean I could now compare the new mirrorless camera’s image quality with that of my current Canon 6D and never leave the house?? Yup, it did¬†and I didn’t like the results and immediately cancelled my new camera order, back to the drawing board. ¬†Ah… back in my comfort zone with the Canon 6D right? ¬†Well, not so fast…

This process of viewing images at DPR’s Interactive Studio Scene was not the end all of deciding on a new camera, but it gave me a good starting point. ¬†If I didn’t like the exact same images taken by all these other cameras compared to my own 6D, did I really¬†need to have it shipped just to take pics in my back yard. ¬†The factors I needed to consider were the actual camera weight (my reason for a new camera), availability of lenses, image quality, and costs. ¬†I looked at one camera which is probably considered the best mirrorless out there with¬†unmatched image quality; however, the uncompressed RAW files were over 80Mb in size and compressed was around 40Mb. ¬†This would require lots of hard drive space for photos, 99% of which would likely never be seen by anybody! ¬†I’m not making a living as a photographer, just a retired guy who loves to shoot guns and cameras, since 80Mb files will add up quickly I now needed to consider file size¬†as well. ¬†If I were putting food on my table from photography and quality was the only concern, I would have gone with this camera and bought bigger hard drives. ¬†So on to¬†other cameras I went and found one that looked promising; it met the above criteria and while the lens selection was nowhere near Canon’s, they did have two lenses that functioned well for¬†what I currently do with three. ¬†While I planned to lighten up my camera bag in other areas, this decision alone meant the weight of just my camera and lenses would be cut¬†in half!

sling7So, besides weight, what was I giving up or compromising? ¬†For starters, my ability with Canon compatible lenses to reach out to long distances like I had¬†with the Tamron SP 150-600 was gone. ¬†It’s not like this was a lens I carried often but it was a very nice piece of gear to have at times; it was also heavy. ¬†However, one lens I did keep in my bag that allowed me to reach out was the Canon 70-300mm DO and this I would feel in two ways. ¬†First, having this lens in my bag meant I could instantly reach out to 300mm, this was very handy! ¬†Second, and part of my recurring theme, was the weight. ¬†While compact in size, this lens weighs over 1.5 pounds by itself! ¬†I wrote about it in an earlier blog post, Diffractive What?, from September 19, 2016 and I will miss this lens… ¬†For the year and a half that I had Canon L Series lenses, I was blown away by the crispness and clarity of the images.

When the new camera arrived, I took lots of¬†shots and while it wasn’t a familiar Canon I figured I could get used to it. ¬†Feeling ok about my purchase I was on¬†to sell my Canon gear on eBay. ¬†Now I honestly felt like a traitor or as if¬†I was almost doing something wrong by selling my 6D. ¬†Seriously, Canon was easy and I¬†liked for the same reasons I liked my MacBook Pro in that it always did what it was supposed to do¬†with no hassles, it was always familiar too. ¬†Since my first Canon XSi, every upgrade was to another Canon so the learning curve wasn’t too bad. ¬†However, this time was different, I now felt like I was marching a parade with two left shoes on; I knew I’d make it, but not comfortably. ¬†I mean with a Canon, the focus system is very easy and you’ll be shooting decent pics out of the box. ¬†With my new camera, I felt like a photo failure for days just trying to navigate a menu system that could have been set up¬†a late night drunk with what HE thought was a great idea. ¬†Days of trying to navigate and find what I needed in unfamiliar places, and a figure out a focus system that made absolutely no sense whatsoever to me. ¬†So what did I buy? ¬†I settled on the

 

Hello Umpkinpay!

New Peak Design Bags are out!

CLICK TO SEE THE NEW BAGS AT KICKSTARTER!!

These bags are for non-photographers and photographers alike! ¬†If you’re interested, I’ve written two posts related to my Peak Design camera bag. ¬†The latest, posted¬†on May 30, 2016 was specifically about the Everyday Messenger entitled, Everyday Messenger: is the honeymoon over?¬† However,¬†first article called In the Bag, posted on April 25, 2016 was¬†not specifically about the bag, but¬†was related to what I keep in my Everyday Messenger. ¬†I also wrote about the Peak Design products I use everyday that make photography easier, see it at Peak Design.

I hope these posts will give you some insight in to these great products!

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