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Thread: Photography Question - Dan Bihn's gadgets

  1. #16
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    I'm admittedly a bit biased against and not very experienced with flash photography, but I'd recommend your next photography investment be a good prime lens (like the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8, which is only a little over a hundred dollars).

    The kit lens and presumably your telephoto probably struggle in low(er) light conditions, and I can understand why you'd want to explore flash options. But a good prime will allow you to do a lot more with available light, produce beautiful image quality (and bokeh!), and force you to engage more with your subjects and think more about your photographs.

    I don't know if you're already well versed in the foundations of aperture, shutter speed, ISO... if you aren't, I second Miking's suggestion of cycling through everything to understand their effects. Try shooting in full manual mode making use of all the settings, and you may find that even with the kit lens you may not need the flash as often as you thought.

  2. #17
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    Warning! Once you get a f/1.8 lens all you'll want to do is take photos that look like: Name:  image.jpg
Views: 423
Size:  474.4 KB

    Completely agree! Glass is a way better investment than all the gizmos and gadgets. I salute your quest to get the flash away from the camera. On camera flash without a diffuser is awful, I cringe when I see people doing it at concerts with cheap point and shoots, knowing that they are just going to have pictures of the back of people's heads with something resembling a band in the shadows behind.

    You could also take some pointers from the movie guys and bounce lights off walls that aren't in frame or from the urban exploration guys who use cheap battery powered lights and frosted lighting gel to "paint" the light in the scene they want to capture.

  3. #18
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    Earlier today, I shot a couple of photos of my Canon 2400 Gadget Bag, with most of my gear still in it (accept the Rebel, of course). Here are a couple of photos...

    Here's the front of the bag, while open:



    Inside the main compartment, you'll see an empty cavity where the Rebel usually rests while not in use. To its immediate right is another relatively large compartment where my camcorder (Canon Vixia HV40, a tape-based HDV rig) is stored. Next to the Vixia are two smaller compartments: one hold the Canon 75-300 telephoto lens, and the other is for other pouches, lens caps and the like as needed. Inside the lid is a zippered mesh compartment holding several smaller items: a couple pencils, a pen, a small notepad, a Nikon lintless lens cleaning cloth, a spare Canon SLR battery and an SDHC memory card. In the broad front outer compartment are some owner's manuals and Canon literature as well as a Joby Gorillapod.

    And now for the back:

    [/URL]

    The awkwardly attached pouch affixed to one of the topside handles is a holster for a GPS device (DeLorme Earthmate PN40) which is too large to store inside the Gadget Bag. The outer compartments on either end of the Gadget Bag are relatively small, but can be useful for limited purposes. I have a set of compact binoculars in one end. The other can contain other accessories; I used to carry small walkie-talkies in it, but those were too cumbersome to either squeeze in or extract out as needed.

    I have a love-hate relationship with this bag, tilting toward hate. First, the love:

    It is great to have a dedicated, padded camera bag that is tailored to the storage and carrying needs of an SLR. I love the padded main compartment and the flexible dividers.

    Now, the hate:

    The plastic hooks for the Canon standard-equipment shoulder strap make noise with every step I take, a major no-no when photographing wildlife. They audibly squeak-squawk every time I move. So long at I use this bag, I must tolerate them.

    Because the DeLorme GPS and holster rig is too large for the inside of the bag, I am forced to mount it outside. Another minor source of irritation.

    The largest sources of irritation are the bag itself, though. I am accustomed to carrying a backpack with plenty of room to stash a variety of gear. This bag it already over-stuffed as it is, and can't handle any more. But the largest problem is the fact that it is an awkward shoulder bag with a crude, cheap shoulder strap arrangement. Sometimes I'll be carrying the bag on a hike (or at a job site, or at an event of some kind) and I'll have to bend over to take a photograph or to pick something up on the ground. Invariably, the bag, usually resting on either my hip or my lower back, will come sailing around to hang forward... or fall onto the ground.

    Another source of irritation is the fact that, prior to receiving this camera, bag and accessories as a gift, I would have only two rigs: a backpack and a briefcase. I would use the briefcase to carry documents and computer + accessories to formal business meetings. I would use the backpack for work-in-the-field, volunteer projects and recreation outings. Backpacks I used in the past could carry at least one point-and-shoot camera. But no backpack I can think of could fit the Canon Gadget Bag. So I found myself weaned off point-and-shoots quickly, but I also lost the advantages of carrying a backpack.

    That's why I viewed the Dan Bihn videos with such heightened interest. If there's a way to carry my gear in a large, multi-purpose backpack, that would simplify life-on-the-road significantly. I had previously shown interest in the Tom Bihn Smart Alec, but the Smart Alec isn't shaped to accommodate the new Camera Insert/Outsert. That brings me back to the Brain Bag. I could see myself carrying a Brain Bag out and about, with a Vertical Freudian Slip and/or Field Journal for taking notes / conducting my "portable office"; and it would be neat to be able to carry my SLR and accessories along with the GPS and other gear as well.

    One thing I wish I saw in these forums would be people showing what they do with their Brain Bags as far as hikes and outdoor activities/work/play. It would be doubly interesting to see exhibitions of what people do with the Camera I/O, especially in the Brain Bag. Seeing this could give me insight as to what the capabilities of these new photographic equipment carrying accessories (PECA; my new abbreviation for the I/O, quivers and various applicable pouches) and how I can plan to purchase and get the most out of them.
    Owner of: Super Ego briefcase (Black / Indigo / Steel) with Reflective Strip, Brain Cell (Steel), Horizontal Freudian Slip, various Organizer Pouches and Key Straps, and a Side Effect (Black / Wassabi) worn as a belt-style hip-pack.

  4. #19
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    RE: new lenses. I know that replacing my current lenses is inevitable. Right now, there's a noticeable gap between the wide-angle 18-55 lens and the telephoto 75-300. My first project, lens-wise, would be to find a higher-quality lens that combines the wide-angle ability of the 18-55 with a little more telephoto ability, plus having a good lens hood to keep the excess sun glare out of my photos. (I currently have no lens hoods, and what is available for the 18-55 isn't much, or so I'm told.)

    All of this is still a ways down the road.
    Owner of: Super Ego briefcase (Black / Indigo / Steel) with Reflective Strip, Brain Cell (Steel), Horizontal Freudian Slip, various Organizer Pouches and Key Straps, and a Side Effect (Black / Wassabi) worn as a belt-style hip-pack.

  5. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by MtnMan View Post
    The plastic hooks for the Canon standard-equipment shoulder strap make noise with every step I take, a major no-no when photographing wildlife. They audibly squeak-squawk every time I move. So long at I use this bag, I must tolerate them.
    Have you thought about threading the webbing of your strap through the same hole that the bag's webbing goes through on the plastic D-ring, bypassing the plastic hook all together? It looks like you would need to cut the strap off of the "tri-glide" adjuster but you could just singe the ends and pass both of them through.

  6. #21
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    Neat idea, but I would much rather get a backpack with a padded camera insert.
    Owner of: Super Ego briefcase (Black / Indigo / Steel) with Reflective Strip, Brain Cell (Steel), Horizontal Freudian Slip, various Organizer Pouches and Key Straps, and a Side Effect (Black / Wassabi) worn as a belt-style hip-pack.

  7. #22
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    Does anyone actually use a Camera I/O inside of the Brain Bag on a regular basis? Does anyone use two Camera I/Os in a Brain Bag on a regular basis? Does anyone carry a Tripod Quiver mounted on a Brain Bag? What are your experiences with these configurations? What other equipment do you carry in this fashion, other than just an SLR camera and lenses?
    Owner of: Super Ego briefcase (Black / Indigo / Steel) with Reflective Strip, Brain Cell (Steel), Horizontal Freudian Slip, various Organizer Pouches and Key Straps, and a Side Effect (Black / Wassabi) worn as a belt-style hip-pack.

  8. #23
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    I no longer carry the Camera I/O or the Brain Bag, but I used to use both when I traveled. The bags handled all my gear beautifully. On travel days, it was just too heavy to carry comfortably, and I found the setup to be too large and bulky for daily use. With much deliberation, I decided to downsize to a Synapse 25 with a smaller camera insert and iPad instead of laptop. The CIO went to eBay, and hubby now uses the BB as his EDC. I'll be one of the first in line to buy a smaller version of the Camera I/O, as it is a wonderful bag, and a smaller version would be ideal for my purposes.

    I do have a photo of all that went into my Brain Bag for travel days. I've shared it elsewhere, so forgive me if you've already seen it.


    IMG_4119.jpg by agtobler, on Flickr

    The back pocket had the Camera I/O with Canon D60 fitted with a 10-22 lens, plus a 35mm and 85mm lenses, and a little pouch full of the camera bits and bobs. I always carried the Absolute Strap, as once i reached my destination, I usually just pulled the I/O out and carried it cross body with the Absolute Strap. I once carried my camera gear that way for 8 hours and didn't feel a twinge of discomfort.

    I also carried a Brain Cell with Macbook Pro in the front pocket. Plus, lots of travel comfort items.

    My tripod worked okay if I strapped it into the spot where the water bottle is supposed to go, but it wasn't a perfect fit. I only carry the tripod for night shooting, so I usually wound up just hand carrying it or putting it in the spot where the laptop usually goes when out for a night shoot.
    MtnMan likes this.
    --Amanda

    Packing and gadget geek, collecting bags to disperse to my family.

  9. #24
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    ^ Great photo of the Brain Bag and gear next to the fireplace.

    Anyone else like to share their experience?
    Owner of: Super Ego briefcase (Black / Indigo / Steel) with Reflective Strip, Brain Cell (Steel), Horizontal Freudian Slip, various Organizer Pouches and Key Straps, and a Side Effect (Black / Wassabi) worn as a belt-style hip-pack.

  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by teresapoet View Post
    I'm admittedly a bit biased against and not very experienced with flash photography, but I'd recommend your next photography investment be a good prime lens (like the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8, which is only a little over a hundred dollars).

    The kit lens and presumably your telephoto probably struggle in low(er) light conditions, and I can understand why you'd want to explore flash options. But a good prime will allow you to do a lot more with available light, produce beautiful image quality (and bokeh!), and force you to engage more with your subjects and think more about your photographs.

    I don't know if you're already well versed in the foundations of aperture, shutter speed, ISO... if you aren't, I second Miking's suggestion of cycling through everything to understand their effects. Try shooting in full manual mode making use of all the settings, and you may find that even with the kit lens you may not need the flash as often as you thought.
    While I am open to suggestions, I have to admit I'm leaning against getting this kind of lens, at least for now.

    I currently have two lenses: the Canon 18-55 "kit lens", which I definitely want to replace, and Canon's other popular 75-300 telephoto. I would definitely want to eventually replace both lenses, but the 18-55 would be my highest priority by far. I like the wide-angle experience the 18mm end of the kit lens gives me; it really helps out when shooting photos of meetings and scenic vistas. But, to my knowledge there are no good lens hoods for this particular lens. Also I don't like the fact that the lens stops at 55mm, which means there is a significant gap between the telephoto end of this lens and where the 75-300 picks up. I want to get better glass, too, of course. Most of my current photography on the Rebel T3 is with the 18-55. It's small, lightweight, easy to handle, and is right for most photography situations. I have no idea what is available to replace this "kit" lens, but it would have to offer the same wide-angle as well as a bit more telephoto, say, something like a 15-80 or an 18-100. (I have no idea if such a lens exists.) Hopefully, my dream lens would have a switch for both auto-focus and manual, a good lens hood, and all the other bells and whistles as well as not being too bulky.

    The 75-300 is also alot of fun to use. I am annoyed by how often I'm out in the woods and I'll have the 18-55 attached and then I'll see a great wildlife shot and have to swap to get the 75-300 for a good shot. (Or vice-versa) I can see myself either acquiring another SLR or another ultra-zoom point-n-shoot someday. (I used to use a 2005-vintage Canon Powershot S2 IS ultra-zoom; it was damaged a few years ago when I fell in a hiking accident.) The 75-300 lens seems to do what I want it to do, but I am curious about what other options are out there. My current 75-300 has no lens hood, which can sometimes be a problem.

    SLRs mean better-quality photos, but they also mean more money invested and more bulk to carry. Hence my curiosity about the Camera I/O and Dan Bihn's videos.

    I'll post some of my photos later.
    Owner of: Super Ego briefcase (Black / Indigo / Steel) with Reflective Strip, Brain Cell (Steel), Horizontal Freudian Slip, various Organizer Pouches and Key Straps, and a Side Effect (Black / Wassabi) worn as a belt-style hip-pack.

  11. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by MtnMan View Post
    Also I don't like the fact that the lens stops at 55mm, which means there is a significant gap between the telephoto end of this lens and where the 75-300 picks up. I want to get better glass, too, of course.
    Two pieces of advice from somebody who could probably buy a nice used car if I sold all of my camera gear. First, the gap between 55mm and 70mm is really not an issue. It is probably no more than a step or two forward or backwards. Second, most current kit lenses, while they may not be as fast or as well constructed as more expensive lenses, are generally good performers under reasonable lighting conditions. Better lenses generally show there worth under specific conditions, usually involving low light or a need for fast apertures. Before committing to any expensive glass, I would first suggest renting from a place like Lens Rentals: LensRentals.com - Rent Lenses and Cameras from Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Sony, Leica, and more . Fast glass can be quite enjoyable and addictive, but it can also be disappointing if your shooting needs do not call for it.

    Good luck,

    --Ken

  12. #27
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    Does anyone know if the new Tom Bihn Guide's Pack backpack has the capacity and shape to fit the Camera Insert/Outsert, along with other items? I was just wondering if a Camera I/O would fit in, along with a Vertical Brain Cell and/or Cache and/or Vertical Freudian Slip?

    Also: are there other TB padded containers for the accessory pockets to fit other, point-and-shoot cameras and/or camcorders?
    Owner of: Super Ego briefcase (Black / Indigo / Steel) with Reflective Strip, Brain Cell (Steel), Horizontal Freudian Slip, various Organizer Pouches and Key Straps, and a Side Effect (Black / Wassabi) worn as a belt-style hip-pack.

  13. #28
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    I received an update from Beau at Tom Bihn's HQ. He says the Camera i/O will definitely not fit the new Guide's Pack hiking backpack.
    Owner of: Super Ego briefcase (Black / Indigo / Steel) with Reflective Strip, Brain Cell (Steel), Horizontal Freudian Slip, various Organizer Pouches and Key Straps, and a Side Effect (Black / Wassabi) worn as a belt-style hip-pack.

  14. #29
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    On Saturday, Tom Bihn's crew posted a really interesting link on the company's Facebook page:

    Slavik is a documentary filmmaker. Following a trip in which he checked three giant suitcases of film gear, he decided to figure out how to assemble a complete documentary filmmaking kit in one backpack. With the help of the Brain Bag, Camera I-O, and Tripod/Lighting Quivers, he did just that. Here's how: Complete Documentary Filmmaking Kit in One Backpack | Alaska Video Shooter
    It would seem that a professional filmmaker has taken the Brain Bag and Dan Bihn's quiver concept and ran with it. A fascinating read, with photos.
    backpack and tpnl like this.
    Owner of: Super Ego briefcase (Black / Indigo / Steel) with Reflective Strip, Brain Cell (Steel), Horizontal Freudian Slip, various Organizer Pouches and Key Straps, and a Side Effect (Black / Wassabi) worn as a belt-style hip-pack.

  15. #30
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    Forgive the necro-posting, but I have to ask about using a Tom Bihn Camera Insert/Outsert in a Brain Bag:

    What is you have a Brain Bag, and you want to use two Camera I/O's in it? Will both fit, by putting one, each, in each of the main compartments? Does this work? Do any of the smaller zippered pockets have enough room to also carry a TB Snake Charmer along as well?

    Also: with the Camera I/O's in each of the main compartments, is there any room left to also stash a Vertical Freudian Slip?
    Owner of: Super Ego briefcase (Black / Indigo / Steel) with Reflective Strip, Brain Cell (Steel), Horizontal Freudian Slip, various Organizer Pouches and Key Straps, and a Side Effect (Black / Wassabi) worn as a belt-style hip-pack.

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