Crumpler was kind of enough to send me a review copy of their “8 Million Dollar Home” bag. The 8 Million Dollar Home will run you about $170. That’s a bit pricey for my taste but you definitely get a lot of bag for your buck.
It’s a big bag. When Crumpler contacted me I had no idea what to expect. “Sure, send me the bag,” I said, and then forgot all about it. It’s just a bag, right? This isn’t just a bag. It’s like a 3-story Barbie dream house + jacuzzi for camera gear. My first impression when it arrived was that it was enormous. My current bag is a Tamrac Pro 5. The design is about the same, zipper front, velcro + zipper closures, front pocket, lid pocket, movable dividers, etc. But the Crumpler seems about 50% bigger all around. The Crumpler’s extra space is luxurious in comparison.
It’s actually not all that enormous but it’s bigger than I would like. Of course, I don’t even bring my current bag with me anywhere anymore if I can help it. I prefer to travel light. And not just because I’m lazy. (Well, okay, maybe for that reason.) One body, one lens on the camera, often just a 50mm. Maybe a second lens in my cargo pants pocket. Maybe. It’d better be something special if I’m bringing two lenses.
It’s a shoulder bag and the strap is comfy. I only had it for a week so I can’t speak to it’s durability but it seems very solidly constructed and made of strong materials. You won’t lose it either if you get the blue and green and orange version. You can probably see this thing from space. Padding everywhere. The interior dividers can be rearranged in a bazillion different configurations. Pockets everywhere. Dual plastic clips + velcro keep the lid on. And it’s got a nice strong handle and side loops for hanging gear on the outside.
It’s a very nice shoulder bag. But the problem with all but the smallest of shoulder bags, as I see it, is that they’re not very comfortable. If you fill this thing to the brim it’s going to be heavy. And if you’re carrying that much gear for more than a short distance you’ll be more comfortable with a backpack design. Perfect for transporting loads of gear from the car to the venue but I wouldn’t want to lug it around all day on a photowalk or a hike, say.
Bags are very personal items. Always try one on before you buy.
A friend recently sent me a link to a site called TinEye which is a reverse image search engine. The idea is you upload an image or paste in the url of an image and TinEye searches for that same image across the web. Although it can’t access every website it is a handy tool for anyone interested to see how their photos are being used (especially if you’ve licensed some photos with a creative commons license and would like to see what people are doing with them). It could also be useful if you’re worried about your photos being used without your permission, although all TinEye can do is point you to where the photos are being used so you can choose whether or not to take any action.
I tried TinEye out with a couple of photos I have uploaded to both Flickr, iStockphoto,and various blogs, giving the search engine the Flickr urls and it found the photos in iStockphoto and the blogs as well. TinEye says it’s the first image search engine to use image identification technology rather than keywords or metadata so in theory it should be more accurate than other similar engines. It’s free to use and there’s no need for registration (although you can register for a free account if you wish which gives you a few benefits). You can try it out here.
If you’re new to photography or you mostly just point, shoot, and hope for the best then there’s probably a whole bunch of photo equipment whose names you recognize but whose function you’re not really sure of. Well, here at Photodoto we live to help you out so here’s a few of those gadgets explained.
Lens Hoods: I mentioned printable lens hoods recently, which are free, but a sturdy plastic version will set you back anywhere from $10 to $500 depending on the lens you want it to fit. What do they do? Put simply, they eliminate glare and lens flare caused stray light. Sometimes lens flare can be desirable in a photo but more often than not you want to eliminate it. Lens hoods usually have a completely non-reflective inner surface (for example felt) which absorb that unwanted light and prevents the flares on your photo. They come in petal and round styles with petal styles usually being more effective. Another effect of lens hoods is a deeper saturation and therefore richer colours in photos. Who needs one? Anyone who’s photographing outside, especially in sunny conditions will find a lens hood useful but they are especially useful on telephoto lenses because the smaller field of vision means the hood can be longer without obscuring the viewing angle. When should I use one? In bright, sunny conditions or to offer some protection in rain but a lot of people simply leave the lens hood on all the time. Any disadvantages? On wider lenses using a hood can cause vignetting, especially if you use a round shaped hood.
Lens Filters: There are a selection of different filters available including polarizers, UV, diffusion, colour correction, warming, and neutral density filters. They vary in price from $5 to $300 (although most cost less than $150). What do they do? Clear filters are simply glass or plastic discs in a ring frame that fit on the end of a lens and protect the lens from scratches, dirt, and other damage. All other filters are similar in construction but have a specific filtering effect, for example UV filters filter UV light and help reduce haziness. Polarizing filters increase colour saturation and enhance contrast between clouds and sky by darkening particularly light skies. They are therefore particularly useful for photographing reflections. Other filters, including diffusion, sepia, and star diffracter filters create specific effects in a photo. Who needs one? If you use a D-SLR/SLR then many people feel it’s worth protecting the lens with either a clear or a UV filter. The idea is that damaging a $15 filter is preferable to damaging a $500 lens! Other filters are fun to play with but only really actually necessary for professional photographers who require specific filtering effects. When should I use one? All the time if you’re using a clear or UV for protecting the lens (you can leave it on without any problems), other filters are for specific conditions for example polarizers are most useful for reflections or landscape shots with a lot of sky. Any disadvantages? Not really but make sure you keep the filter clean as you would the lens otherwise you’ll get smudges and spots on your photos. Also be careful not to screw them on too tightly or it can be very tricky to remove the filter when you want to!
Remote Controls: These come either as wireless or cable and range from $2 to $100. What do they do? They allow you to take a shot without touching the camera, cable remotes attach to the camera via a cable and require you to stand only as far away as the cable permits, wireless remotes vary in how far away you can be from the camera, some allowing 2 metres others over 100 metres. Some even work through walls! Who needs one? These are a useful and fairly cheap gadget so it’s worth having one but they are only really required for people who do a lot of self-portraits, macro or long exposure photography. When should I use one? For self portraits or to avoid camera shake, for example when shooting at night. Any disadvantages? Nope! These are small, relatively inexpensive, and a handy addition to a camera bag.
Diopters: These can be full diopters of split diopters and range from $10 to $400. What do they do? Like filters they are a discs in a ring that fit on the end of a lens. Split diopters have the same ring but only a semi-circle of glass so that only half the camera’s lens is covered. Diopters allow objects very close to the lens to brought into focus and therefore are very useful for macro photography. They come in different ratings from +1 to +4. Split diopters allow half the lens to focus on close objects while the other half focuses on the background allowing a greater depth of field. Who needs one? Anyone wanting to have a go at macro photography. When should I use one? Only when you want to do macro photography so you can’t leave this attached to the lens all the time. Any disadvantages? Split diopters require a bit of practice with composition to use effectively.
If you want to try out filters or remote controls before buying one Lens Rentals.com have them available to rent for 7-30 days. Let us know what other photography equipment terms leave you furrowing your brow in confusion in the comments!
Need a little amusing distraction from your work? Check out Awkward Family Photos which is full of embarrasing, and some downright weird, family portraits like the one below.