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 Thursday, October 29, 2015
General Purpose Add-Ons to Get You Over the Expedited Shipping Threshold
by Sean Setters
Has this ever happened to you?
You want to purchase something from B&H, but its value doesn't put it over the free Expedited Shipping threshold? While the item may qualify for free standard shipping, getting my newly purchased gear sooner rather than later is my personal preference (I might be a tad impatient).
With that in mind we've developed a list of relatively inexpensive items that may be less practical when purchased on their own, but instead can help push you over the Expedited Shipping threshold when bundling with other purchases.

Devek Gaffer Tape 1in x 10yd Black

1) Gaffer Tape
This stuff is a no-brainer. Gaffer tape is a photographer's best friend. It's strong, peels away without making a mess and is even reusable (to some degree). It comes in a variety of widths, lengths and colors and having a roll on hand can literally save a shoot. If we listed all the ways we've used gaffer tape over the years, this post would turn into a Potter-like epic.
If you don't have any gaffer tape, add some to your cart. If you already have gaffer tape, adding another roll to your inventory is still probably a good idea.

Canon E 77 II 77mm Lens Cap

2) Lens Cap/Body Cap
If it's been a while since you've purchased a new Canon lens, then you're missing out on Canon's new, very convenient center pinch lens caps. The new lens caps are a worthwhile investment especially if you typically have a lens hood mounted to your glass.
Don't want to shell out for the Canon-branded lens caps? Third-party center pinch lens caps are also available at a significantly lower cost.
And while we're on the subject of "caps," it's not a bad idea to keep extra body or rear lens caps on hand in case you lose one (I can't tell you how many times I've misplaced a body cap).

Vello ET 65III Dedicated Lens Hood

3) Third-Party Lens Hood
A lens hood is an excellent accessory to add to your kit if your lens(es) did not come with one. Not only can they prevent lens flare in your images, they can also help protect your lens's front element from impact. Typically speaking, Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) lens hoods are pricey. However, as lens hoods are typically easy to design and relatively inexpensive to manufacture, purchasing a third-party lens hood makes a lot of sense. Third-party lens hoods may not fit quite as well as the OEM ones and they may lack special features (such as interior flocking), but otherwise [typically] work just as well as their more expensive counterparts.
How much can you save by purchasing a third-part lens hood? The amount varies widely, but here's a good example: the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM uses the ET-67 Lens Hood which will set you back $36.00 for the OEM version; the third-party Vello hood is only $14.95.

Vello LCD SCreen Protector Ultra

4) LCD Screen Protector
There are few things I loathe more than a scratched LCD screen; that's why nearly all my electronic devices (including cameras) have a high quality screen protector in place. I specify "high quality" because there are a lot of low quality (less durable, less clear) screen protectors out there.
I've personally used dozens of screen protectors over the years with various levels of satisfaction. My current personal favorites for camera LCD screen protectors are the Vello LCD Screen Protector Ultra series and the slightly cheaper Vello Glass LCD Screen Protectors. The former is a perfectly-sized piece of transparent optical glass while the latter has a small black frame around the edge that shows branding and the protector model number (but the frame isn't distracting in my opinion).

Sensei 62 77mm Filter Wrench Set

5) Filter Wrenches
If you've ever experienced stuck filters (especially if one of them is a circular polarizer), then you'll likely already know the true value of these inexpensive tools. Filter wrenches take up very little room in your gear bag and can save you the huge headache of dealing with filters that are stuck together while you're on a shoot. If these angst avoiding tools are not already a part of your kit, you'd be wise to bundle them with your next purchase.

Giottos Rocket Blaster Dust Removal Tool Medium

6) Rocket Blower
This is another one of those must-have tools that ranks up there with gaffer tape and a microfiber cloth – the Rocket Blower. Regular use of a Rocket Blower can help keep your sensor clean of dust and debris that may impact image quality with the result of time consuming post-processing needed to remove the distracting artifacts.
Need to create high quality product images? The Rocket Blower can help you remove dust from the items so that your images look more professional. Indeed, using a Rocket Blower is Bryan's first step when creating the product images used for this site. If a Rocket Blower is missing from your kit, bundling one with your next purchase may be a smart way to surpass the Expedited Shipping threshold.

Ruggard Desiccant Silica Gel Pack - Metal Case

7) Desiccant (Silica Gel Packs)
Keeping a desiccant (or two) with your camera gear can help prevent the growth of mold and fungus which can [understandably] degrade image quality and significantly reduce the resale value of your equipment. The most well-known and widely available type of consumer desiccant is Silica Gel which usually comes in single-use packs or reusable canisters that are reactivated by heat (usually an oven).
My suggestion - buy both. Keep the reusable desiccant with your gear stored at home and throw a couple of single-use packs in your gear bags (and replace periodically) for the ultimate in moisture protection.

Delta 1 Gray Card 8x10in

8) Gray Card
If you're unfamiliar with what a gray card can do for you, Bryan's Gray Card review written several years ago is just as relevant today as it was then. The short version: a gray card can help you set a custom white balance in-camera (reducing post-processing) as well as assist in determining exposure values based on a meter reading off the card.
I'm finding a gray card to be indispensable when shooting Super Color IRs as getting the correct white balance in-camera makes post-processing so much easier. One really nice thing about the 8x10" gray card is that it can easily be stored in your camera bag's laptop compartment (if the bag has one) which helps protect the gray card while also allowing it to be nearby whenever you need it.

Vello RS C2II Wired Remote Switch for Select Canon 3 Pin Cameras

Third Party Wired Remote Switch
A Remote Switch is a simple tool that allows you to trigger your camera's shutter without touching the shutter button. It's not as handy as an intervalometer (an intervalometer can do everything a switch can do and much more), but if you don't need the intervalometer's additional functionality, the remote switch is a good item to have at your disposal.
The remote switch can prove especially beneficial if photographing young children by allowing you to make eye contact with the subject(s) while triggering the camera from a short distance away from the camera. The remote switch can also be helpful in bulb mode because the shutter can be locked for an indefinite period of time and released without ever having to touch the camera.

Oben Tripod Hammock

Oben Tripod Hammock
Full Disclosure: I do not actually own this product... yet. I ran across the Oben Tripod Hammock a few days ago and I thought it was a really interesting, novel piece of gear. The hammock is suspended by the legs of your tripod and can be used hold filters, lenses, microfiber clothes, or anything else you might need while shooting from a fixed location. Even if your tripod features a hook on the center column, you may even prefer to use the hammock for your ballast needs as it will be less susceptible to wind.
For those reasons, I'll be adding this item to my next B&H purchase that, without it, would not qualify for free expedited shipping. ;-)
So that's 10 general purpose add-ons you can use to help qualify for free expedited shipping. What do you think? Any additional suggestions?
 Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Fall Photography Tips: The Isolation Technique
I have to confess. I'm a fall leaf color addict. If the leaves have changed to their fall colors, I'm struggling to resist being outdoors 100% of the daylight hours with a camera in my hands. Fortunately, I don't have to go far from home to find some of the best color available anywhere.
Even with colorful trees being easy to find, photographing the fall color can be very challenging and one of those challenges is to create a compelling composition. Many of the most-brilliantly colored local trees, primarily old maples, are found in town, where houses and other buildings, power lines, signs, etc. interfere with the natural look I'm typically seeking. A picture of a complete tree may capture the color, but the likelihood of something undesirable being in the frame is quite high. Even in the countryside, the ideal trees can be difficult to work into great compositions for a variety of reasons including a lack of supporting elements.
One fall foliage technique I like to use is isolation of the colorful leaves of one tree with other parts of the same tree or another tree filling the rest of the frame. Find an attractive leaf or set of leaves that are in good condition and then determine what could be a good background for the composition.
Determine the focal length of your lens based on how large the foreground leaves should be in relation to the selected background. The focal length decision will also be affected by how large the selected background is and the space you have to work in with a longer focal length requiring less background area needed. The longer the focal length selected, the easier it will be to make the background blurred and of course, the vice versa is also true.
Determine the aperture used based on how much depth of field is desired with a very wide aperture capable of putting the background into a primary-subject-isolating blur. Also note that a wider aperture makes a faster shutter speed easier to obtain (at a lower ISO setting) and a faster shutter speed may be necessary to stop any wind-imparted motion of the primary subject leaf or leaves.
Don't stop with your first setup. Continue to refine the shot until you have it perfected. Then find another composition to work on.
The brilliantly colored maple tree in this picture was on the corner of an in-town street intersection with power lines and houses directly behind it. I moved in close to the foreground leaves and aligned the angle of view with the lines created by the trunks and limbs. The backlit leaves on the other side of the tree and some green grass across the street complete the composition. The result is a brilliantly colored fall photo that is, at least somewhat, unique.
While photo trips to grand landscapes with brilliantly colored trees are awesome, knowing the isolation technique can land great fall foliage images much closer to home (for many of us) and in many more locations (for all of us).
A larger version of this image is available on Flickr, Google+, 500px and Facebook. Also, if reading from a news feed reader, click through to see the framed image.
Camera and Lens Settings
200mm  f/2.8  1/15s
ISO 200
5760 x 3840px
Post Date: 10/28/2015 10:39:22 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
Zeiss Milvus 50mm f/1.4 Lens
Image quality results have been added to the Zeiss Milvus 50mm f/1.4 Lens page.
While I gave the "Most Beautiful Lens" title to the Zeiss Milvus 21mm f/2.8 Lens, the Zeiss Milvus 50mm f/1.4 Lens is not far behind it on my list. This lens feels at least as nice in hand as it looks in the pictures.
The Milvus update, including a new optical design, has been very good to Zeiss' 50mm f/1.4 in terms of image quality as well. Here is the new vs. old Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 comparison. While the Milvus 50 is not as crazy-good optically as the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 Lens, it costs far less. And it competes well in many of the other relevant comparisons:
Zeiss Milvus 50 vs Canon 50 f/1.4
Zeiss Milvus 50 vs Tamron 45 f/1.8
Zeiss Milvus 50 vs Sigma Art f/1.4
Many more relevant comparisons exist. Build your own.
B&H has the Zeiss Milvus 50mm f/1.4 Lens in stock.
Post Date: 10/28/2015 10:13:56 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
Gitzo Series 2 GK2580TQD Traveler Carbon Fiber Tripod with Center Ball Head
B&H has the Gitzo Series 2 GK2580TQD Traveler Carbon Fiber Tripod with Center Ball Head available for $899.88 with free expedited shipping. Regularly $1,099.88.
Product Highlights
  • Load Capacity: 15.4 lb
  • Max Height: 60.6"
  • Min Height: 13.8"
  • Folded Length: 16.9"
  • Leg Sections: 4
  • Weight: 4.2 lb
  • Arca-Type Compatible Ball Head
  • 180° Folding Legs
  • G-Lock Twist-Lock Legs
  • D-Profile QR Plate
Note: You can also save $60.00 on the Gitzo GM2561T Traveler 6x Carbon Fiber Monopod.
Post Date: 10/28/2015 8:45:25 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
B&H has the Induro Alloy 8M AT013 Tripod available for $66.00 with free shipping. Regularly $96.00.
Product Highlights
  • Load Capacity: 8.8 lb (4 kg)
  • Max Height: 53.9" (137 cm)
  • Folded Length: 20.5" (520 mm)
  • Weight: 2.5 lb (1.1 kg)
Post Date: 10/28/2015 8:32:19 AM CT   Posted By: Sean

If you're a lighting enthusiast like me, this is the kind of video you love to see. Karl Taylor & Urs Recher demonstrate how to use soft & [very well-controlled] hard light to highlight engraving detail on glass.
One technique that I found especially interesting in this video was the simple use of a white card to help illustrate the projection of the back light's modeling lamp.
B&H carries Broncolor equipment.
Post Date: 10/28/2015 6:20:01 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
For a limited time, B&H has the Ikan VK7i 7" HDMI Monitor with Canon E6 Battery Plate available for $249.00 with free expedited shipping. Regularly $499.00.
Product Highlights
  • 1280 x 800 High Definition Screen
  • IPS Screen with 178° Viewing Angle
  • HDMI, Component, Composite In/Out
  • 400 cd/m² Brightness/800:1 Contrast
  • Front Panel Controls
  • DSLR Scaling / Peaking / False Color
  • Tally System
  • Flexible Power Options
  • Accepts Canon E6 Type Batteries
  • VESA Mounting Holes
Post Date: 10/28/2015 5:00:55 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
 Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Zeiss Milvus 21mm f/2.8 Lens on Camera
The functionality of a product must be the highest priority, but I'll argue that us photographers, by trade, appreciate design and beauty in a product more than the general public. Since it is photographers that look at and handle lenses most, it is only fitting that a lens has a beautiful styling. I am pleased that lens makers are taking style into full account with their latest releases, including Sigma's Global Vision lines, Tamron with their latest primes and now Zeiss with their new Milvus lenses.
A few of the new Zeiss Milvus lenses just arrived and product images are usually first on the evaluation to-do list. Avoiding as much of the inevitable-with-use dust and finger prints saves lots of post processing time. I had seen the Zeiss product images distributed along with the Milvus press release, but the new Zeiss Milvus 21mm f/2.8 Lens really caught my attention immediately out of the box.
It was love at first sight. The smooth, modern, curved metal design is drop-dead gorgeous. Lenses are meant to be used for image making and ... this lens makes for a great image. Thus, I'm going to declare the Zeiss Milvus 21mm f/2.8 lens to be the new "World's Most Beautiful Lens" titleholder.
That is my opinion of course. Which lens is at the top of your most beautiful lens list?
Post Date: 10/27/2015 11:28:49 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
Canon EOS 5Ds R DSLR Camera
eBay (via AllNewShop) has the Caon EOS 5Ds R DSLR Camera available for $2,999.00 with free shipping. Compare at $3,599.00 after $300.00 instant savings.
You can also purchase an EOS 5Ds using the drop down box from this same auction for $2,649.00. Compare at $3,399.00 after $300.00 instant savings.
Note:These are likely grey market items and therefore technically ineligible for a Canon USA warranty.
Posted to: Canon News
Post Date: 10/27/2015 10:54:15 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Lens
eBay (via QuickNDone – 99.8% Positive feedback) has the Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Lens for Canon (review) available for $769.99 with free shipping. Compare at $1,099.00 after $200.00 mail-in rebate.
Posted to: Canon News
Post Date: 10/27/2015 10:35:49 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
Fall Photography Tips: Get Your Spiders Out
People seem to enjoy being creeped out around this time of the year (Halloween) and spiders are a perennial favorite source of creepiness. They happen to be my wife's biggest fear at any time of the year, so when I brought a mother wolf spider carrying a big "cluster" of babies into the house for a photo op (it was dark outside), she was not too happy. And when the spider jumped off of my white paper background and lost her cluster, I went back outside (after corralling what seemed like hundreds of tiny baby spiders).
I wasn't looking to create an award-winning photo of this spider, but wanted decent quality without much time investment. I mounted a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens to a Canon EOS 5Ds R and attached a Canon Macro Ring Lite MR-14EX II Flash. The scene was dark (even inside) and the lens shaded the subject at this distance, so I utilized the MR-14EX's focus assist lights to manually focus on the mother's eyes (all 8 of them) with the plane of sharp focus angled to include many of the babies.
As mentioned, I went high-tech with the background: a sheet of white printer paper goes with everything. With the main subject being medium-dark colored, I was able to boost the highlights slightly in post, creating a pure white background, without negatively impacting the mid and dark tones.
Spiders are a popular fall theme and that is probably the only time of the year when you can post a spider picture that gets socially shared. Find out who has arachnophobia. Dig out one of your spider pics or better yet, go create a new one. Share it and peg the creep-out meter.
A larger version of this image is available on Flickr, Google+, 500px and Facebook. Also, if reading from a news feed reader, click through to see the framed image.
Camera and Lens Settings
100mm  f/11.0  1/125s
ISO 100
8688 x 5792px
Post Date: 10/27/2015 9:17:24 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
Canon Logo
Canon has released its 3Q 2015 financial results. As usual, the Presentation Material is our preferred method for getting the highlights.
Canon 3Q 2015 Financial Results
More Information:
Posted to: Canon News
Post Date: 10/27/2015 8:00:30 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
For a limited time, B&H has an Adobe Photoraphy Plan 12-Month Subscription (for new customers) available for $99.88. Regularly $119.88.
The Adobe Photography Plan gives you access to Photoshop CC, Photoshop Mix, Lightroom CC and Lightroom Mobile.
Post Date: 10/27/2015 6:45:40 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
Datacolor Spyder5PRO Display Calibration System
B&H has the Datacolor Spyder5PRO Display Calibration System available for $139.00 with free expedited shipping. Regulary $189.00.
Product Highlights
  • Calibrate Laptops, Desktop Monitors
  • Includes Color Probe
  • 16 Calibration Choices
  • 3 Ambient Light Settings
  • Before and After Evaluation
  • Basic Display Analysis
  • Comes in a Reusable Box / Case
Post Date: 10/27/2015 6:32:46 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
Westcott Omega Reflector Kit
B&H has the Westcott Omega Reflector Kit available for $99.90 with free expedited shipping. Regularly $119.90.
Product Highlights
  • Innovative 10-in-1 Design, 38 x 45"
  • White, Silver, Sunlight, Black Surfaces
  • 1-Stop Diffusion Core
Post Date: 10/27/2015 6:16:17 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
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