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Thread: Photography Question - Dan Bihn's gadgets

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    Photography Question - Dan Bihn's gadgets

    I'm starting this thread to talk about Dan Bihn's videos on the Tom Bihn Camera Insert/Outsert, Quivers and related hardware on the Tom Bihn YouTube Channel.

    Here is my first question: in the videos, Dan makes repeated references to a photographic accessory called a "pocket wizard". He attached some gadget to his portable lighting rig, and another to his SLR camera. Forgive me if this sounds lame, but I'm fairly new to SLR photography, having received a Canon Digital Rebel T3 as a gift in the Fall of 2011. (I'm slowly learning and experimenting with it.)
    What is a "pocket wizard", and how does his remote flash rig work wirelessly?

    My second question: what kind of camera is Dan using in these videos? It looks to be a Canon, if I'm not mistaken, but I'm not sure.

    My third question: I see Dan is using a Macintosh computer, apparently running some recent flavor of MacOS X, in the background. Is Dan using Adobe Lightroom? I ask because he obviously included it in his video to establish himself as a professional photographer. Now that Adobe Creative Cloud is available for subscription, I am seriously considering signing up and downloading Adobe Lightroom CC for my own use. Is Dan using it? Is anyone else here using it?

    My fourth question: the funky carbon-fiber-style tripod that Dan is using for his flash rig... I did not understand the nomenclature he was discussing. Are there ultra-lightweight, ultra-tech tripods like this available for mounting cameras and camcorders as well?

    More questions to follow...

    Thanks in advance for anyone interested in filling in the blanks.

    -- The Mountain Man
    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.

  2. #2
    Ken
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    Pocket Wizards allow you to trigger a remote flash without using a cord. The sending unit is plugged into the camera, and your flash is plugged into a receiving unit. There are cheaper brands, but Pocket Wizards tend to work well. I have not seen the video recently, but I believe Dan is a Canon shooter. I am a Lightroom user, but will not be going to their Creative Cloud option because I do not use Photoshop, and the price for a subscription if you do not already own Photoshop is more than I care to spend on a monthly basis when I have other software options. You can try Lightroom on a 30-day trial to see if it is meets your asset management and raw converter needs. Carbon fiber is a common material for tripods because of its light weight and rigidity. It is more expensive than aluminium, but if weight is important, or if you shoot a lot in cold weather and do not have leg wraps, then it is worth consideration. Hope these brief answers help.

    Good luck,

    --Ken

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    Lets see what I can fill in for you, the "pocket wizard" is a brand name of a remote triggering device usually used for remote flashes but they also make models that can trigger the shutter in your camera as well as a flash.

    The camera is definitely a Canon, possibly a 5Dm2? Very nice, though your T3 is no slouch in the image quality department. I have an uncle who teaches photography and journalism and he recommends his students purchase the cheaper Canon T3 or Nikon D3100 until they establish a workflow and realize what is important to them before investing thousands of dollars in a camera. Probably the best thing you can do to come to terms with your camera is set up a tripod on a scene and cycle through all of your setting, shutter speed, iso, aperture etc... and see how it affects the image.

    It is hard to tell but it does look like Lightroom, a very popular, very powerful editing software. There are also many free/cheap alternatives like "LightZone" and "DarkTable" that will likely do everything you need.

    For tripods as a general rule: weight goes down, price goes up. They do make carbon camera tripods but it's often a trade off for durability, carbon is much more fragile than steel or aluminum.

    Hope this helps, happy shooting.

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    I have been considering the use of Lightroom for some time.

    During a special historic bus tour to the Gateway Arch in Saint Louis in Nov. 2012, I used my Rebel to serve as the mission photographer. I shot everything on the trip in RAW mode, then duplicated the RAW files, saving a version in Adobe's DNG format and another as JPEGs in iPhoto. I wanted to experiment with Adobe CameraRAW, using these files in Photoshop Elements at a later date. I still haven't gotten around to using CameraRAW, but I thought I would get Lightroom to build my professional skills to put on my résumé.

    Since I received the Rebel 13 months before the St. Louis trip, I have not bought anything beyond a lintless lens cloth and an SDHC card. The coming months may serve as an opportunity to build up $$$ and start buying more accessories. Up to this point, I have only the following:

    Canon Digital Rebel T3
    18-55 kit lens
    75-300 telephoto lens
    Canon 2400 Gadget bag

    note: not external flash, not other accessories.

    The camera was a birthday gift. It threw me for a loop. I carry it and the lenses in the Gadget Bag almost everywhere I go. I snap alot of scenic vistas, public events, meetings and wildlife sightings. Prior to the Rebel, I relied on point-and-shoots (most notably a Canon PowerShot S2 IS and a PowerShot A720IS) for my shutterbugging. Receiving the gift of the Rebel plus the Gadget Bag, disrupted my EDC plans.

    But in 2009 when I originally started investigating high-quality, made-in-USA luggage, I discovered Tom Bihn, Red Oxx and a bunch of other American luggage makers and began peppering them with questions. At that time, I typically carried an ordinary backapck with me everywhere I went. The backpack contained at least one camera (before I even thought of owning an SLR), flashlight, walkie-talkies, writing utensils and tablets, binoculars and other goodies that I often used for work, play and volunteer efforts. Here is an old thread containing some photos of a long-gone Wal Mart backpack I used to carry, along with some of my wares. (Looks pathetic, huh?) Since that time, I bought a Tom Bihn Super Ego for my laptop (the laptop eventually died, and has to be replaced by an iMac) and other "paperwork on the road" wares. The SuperEgo serves as my business briefcase to this day.

    So my original plans for a Tom Bihn EDC backpack were sidetracked twice; once by my need for a briefcase, then again by unexpectedly receiving a the Rebel and Gadget Bag. Fast forward to today, when Tom Bihn offers not just an all-purpose backpack but also an SLR insert-outsert for that backpack. I love the Rebel, despite its limitations. But I hate the Gadget Bag. Watching Dan Bihn's videos made me curious about the Brain Bag all over again, not to mention the Camera I/O and also questions about SLR accessories. So, here come the questions all over again.
    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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    A couple of "pocket wizard" questions:

    What is the proper search term I should use if I go shopping at B&H or Amazon, in case I want to buy one of these devices?

    Would a device like this be compatible with my Rebel T3?

    Are there any concerns about compatibility with external flashes? One thing I'm a little anxious about is getting a good external flash for the Rebel; I've never shopped for one before. Is the best place to the Canon Refurb Store, or aftermarket?

    Can a Pocket Wizard-type device be used for forcing a flash in a picture, like for fill-flash?
    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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    Volunteer Moderator Badger's Avatar
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    Doing an Amazon search using "pocket wizard" as the search term turned up nearly 2,600 results. Pocket Wizard is a name brand, and the devices that you seem to be interested in are called "remote flash triggers." It seems to me that your local camera store would be the best authority on whether any auxiliary device would work with your camera setup and which external flashes would be compatible. But don't forget that Google is your friend! I'm sure you can learn at least many of the basics just by doing some searches online or by finding a decent amateur photography website or blog.

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    I'm in a rural area, and the local camera store closed years ago. This forces me to do all my tech shopping on the internet. I have to travel at least 65 miles to get to the nearest small city, and 90-160 miles to get to fairly large cities.
    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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    If you like dealing with B&H don't forget their toll free number 800.606.6969 or the live chat feature on their website. I have always found them to be very helpful when dealing with compatibility issues, as an added benefit if you save your conversation and they do end up steering you wrong and the device you have isn't compatible with your current setup you can show them and they will cover the shipping back to them.

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    Ken
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    While equipment is needed for good lighting, technique is more important. I would highly recommend some time reading articles and posts at these two websites: http://neilvn.com/tangents/ and Strobist . It is very easy to spend a lot of money on equipment, but not improve the quality of lighting in your photos. If you buy remote triggers, are you also planning to buy and carry flash stands and light modifiers when you are out and about? I would recommend spending a bit more time researching before buying any equipment.

    Good luck,

    --Ken

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    One annoying thing about my Rebel T3 (a less-feature-laiden little brother to the T3i) is that it is difficult to force the flash to fire (for situations like fill flash). I was thinking that if I bought an external flash and one of these pocket wizards, I may be able to bypass the camera's default shortcomings and enhance my photo-taking abilities to boot.

    While I'm at it, does anyone know of some good books or DVD tutorials for the Rebel T3? I have one from Jump Start Guides, but it is only very cursory.
    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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    Ken
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    Quote Originally Posted by MtnMan View Post
    One annoying thing about my Rebel T3 (a less-feature-laiden little brother to the T3i) is that it is difficult to force the flash to fire (for situations like fill flash). I was thinking that if I bought an external flash and one of these pocket wizards, I may be able to bypass the camera's default shortcomings and enhance my photo-taking abilities to boot.

    While I'm at it, does anyone know of some good books or DVD tutorials for the Rebel T3? I have one from Jump Start Guides, but it is only very cursory.
    Why is it difficult to force the flash to fire?

    --Ken

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    From what I've been able to learn, you have to fiddle with the settings and you can only do it in one mode. It's not like you can do it at will.
    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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    Quote Originally Posted by Miking View Post
    If you like dealing with B&H don't forget their toll free number 800.606.6969 or the live chat feature on their website. I have always found them to be very helpful when dealing with compatibility issues, as an added benefit if you save your conversation and they do end up steering you wrong and the device you have isn't compatible with your current setup you can show them and they will cover the shipping back to them.
    I have also found them to be extremely helpful. I am fortunate to only live a 30-minute train ride away from Manhattan, so I can actually visit their gargantuan store :-)

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    As a matter of fact, I am on B&H's catalogue mailing list. Just got their latest one in my mailbox this morning.
    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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    Ken
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    Quote Originally Posted by MtnMan View Post
    From what I've been able to learn, you have to fiddle with the settings and you can only do it in one mode. It's not like you can do it at will.
    Most likely, a remote flash trigger is not going to be plug and play, so it might be wise to search for some video demonstrations of how people are setting up and using their equipment. This might give you a better idea of what you might expect.

    Good luck,

    --Ken

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