Camera stuff I never regret buying

Camera stuff I never regret buying


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The remarkable GOPRO HD action cameras

Buy GoPro HD cameras at GoPro.comThe first items I will list are the marvelous GoPro action cameras. These are small, compact full HD video cameras that have revolutionized film making. Many, in fact most professional film crews working on high impact, hard core outdoor sports use only GoPro when they need a camera in the middle of the action whether it be on the front of a kayak, on a helmet, a motorbike, a race car or even underwater. You see the GoPro cameras all come with a 60m waterproof housing as standard.They are very versatile with a huge variety of accessories to mount them on any surface, and like Lego you can add bits on, like a LCD screen, extra batteries etc. Or you could strip it down to its most lightweight form if you so desired.

The first and most popular in the HD series was the GoPro HD Hero. It made real in-roads into the sports camera market, boasting HD video on a small, bulletproof camera. It is still the most popular camera for those flying remote controlled aircraft and want to film from them or have a live view from the virtual cockpit streamed down to VR goggles or a TV (known as FPV flying). With the extra features such as time lapse mode and 60fps capabilities at the 720 resolution setting it was a great entry level HD action camera.

The next camera in the HD lineup was the HD Hero 2. With great improvements on the previous model it has a more user friendly LCD screen, more red indicator LEDs so you didn’t have to look at the front of the camera to check it was recording as well as higher frame rates (up to 120fps on NTSC mode). Lower light was better handled too. The photo resolution was upgraded to 11MP at up to 10fps.

The major weakness with both of those models was the curved lens port. Although rated to 60m below sea level, the video was terribly blurry underwater. So several aftermarket companies made flat lens ports you could simply screw in. It solved the problem, but GoPro did eventually release a special dive housing.

But only a very short time later, the dive housing was to become obsolete anyway, with the release of the Hero 3 series late in 2012. In the series are the HD Hero and the HD Hero 2, repackaged as the cheaper White and Silver editions. They come with great features such as built in WiFi to stream direct to computers and smart phones/tablets. The smartphone app is due for release very soon and comes free from GoPro. Also they have a 60m tested FLAT lens port for great underwater video and photo, so no need to go out and buy a separate housing.

But the Black edition is the most advanced. With impressive features such as improved low light recording, built in WiFi, 30% smaller, flat lens housing, remote control and 60fps in full HD mode this is a serious camera indeed. Also GoPro has introduced the 4k cinematic mode to this model, though at a frame rate of only 15fps it is in its infancy here, but good to test out anyway.

GoPro will not replace SLR cameras for still pictures any time soon, but as far as extreme durability, unsurpassed quality matched with the best value for money anywhere in the video camera industry you can’t go past GoPro! Go to GoPro.com now!

SLR cameras are still the BEST for still images and affordable HD video. Don’t know which model to get? This is an easy choice for me…

Buying a camera can be a difficult decision in itself, but what about all the other things that go with it? A camera is useless without a lens, and a bad or low quality one at that is a waste of money. If you want to get into professional level photography or simply want to take your photography to new levels you will need a few little odds and ends now and again. In this article I have narrowed down a list of accessories I have that I never regret buying, plus the pros and cons of each. As I use Canon EOS you will find some of these accessories apply to Canon.

What did I choose Canon for?

You may ask what is so good about choosing Canon. Well, for me it was a simple choice. Back in 2005 when digital photography at a pro level was still in its early stages (wow, we have come a long way in such a short time!) I was trying to decide exactly which camera to get, what brand and model. I did not have the funds to waste on a bad choice, so I sat down and thought hard, and did my research. Nikon did, and still does make fantastic cameras but Canon had just implemented the CMOS sensor, a revolutionary photosensor that can address each pixel individually and therefore become a highly effective light meter as well, doing away with the older handheld light meters. Also, the older CCD sensors as well as being inefficient in terms of battery drain handled pixels in chains which can result in entire rows and columns in the picture being affected by one bright point such as the sun.

 Canon EOS 60D Not only that, but Canon also offered an easy, uncluttered user interface. Nikon, by comparison was much more ‘fiddly’ in my opinion. Finally, Canon had a port for a shutter release cable, which the comparable Nikons did not have. This simple port allows so many devices to be plugged into the camera from simple push button shutter releases through to interval timers and even laser and infra-red triggers for “trail camera” applications.

I have had a few camera bodies since then and they keep improving. Now I use the EOS 60D. The major selling points for this one are listed below:

What Canon improved in this model

Swiveling screen,Live view capabilities- NEW inbuilt wireless flash control,Great power efficiency,Shutter release & accessory port,Great improved HD movie,Microphone port,

Electronic leveling,

On-camera RAW image processing + creative effects,

Custom preset mode (very handy),

Lockable mode selection dial

Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro

   The first accessory is my all time favorite lens, the Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro. This great little lens is an excellent and very cost-effective lens for all EOS cameras in the XO and XXO range (where “X” is a number in the series). The first thing you will notice is the almost silent and very fast autofocus system, which is engineered in such a way that you can actually grab it while it is focusing and manually override it. Or, once the camera has decided the image is focused, you can, while continuing to hold the button halfway down make fine adjustments without damaging it.

Another neat feature is the maximum aperture of f/2.8. This is relatively fast lens that is great for low light conditions and action shots on bright days. The large aperture also gives a great blurred background too.

As for image quality it has very low chromatic aberration (unwanted colours) and is wonderful and sharp with excellent colour reproduction and contrast.

But don’t let the term ‘Macro’ fool you, although this lens is a great Macro lens, it is also excellent for portraits as the distortion is very low, ensuring human faces are photographed the way they look in real life, without bulging or stretching. All of my macro shots on this site were taken by this lens.

PROS

CONS

Cost effective,Large maximum aperture,Excellent blurred backgrounds,Great for close-range action shots,Near silent autofocus,Manual autofocus override,

Great colour and contrast reproduction,

Great for macro and portraits,

Sharp image quality

No image stabilizer, Not suitable for EOS 5D or 1D

AP TR1C

 The next item on this list is the Apurture intervalometer, AP-TR1C. Despite the complicated name, this small item is deceptively useful. Basically an aftermarket version of the Canon RC controller, unlike the official Canon model, it comes in variations to fit all of the EOS and Powershot Pro, plus Nikon and Sony SLRs. It takes a CR-2032 button battery which the manufacturer claims will last 2 years as it draws very little power.

The interface takes a little getting used to, but once mastered is simple and effective. With it you can use several modes: Self countown timer, Interval timer, Long exposure and Frames.

I use it mostly for time-lapse as it can be set to fire a shot at intervals from 99 hours right down to one second or literally any second, minute or hour between. In this mode when the timer counts down to zero it will fire the camera then start over and countdown repeatedly until you tell it to stop.

Other than that it features a large trigger button so it can be used as an off-camera shutter release button if you require absolute steadiness on a tripod for low light, night or long telephoto pictures.

In the dark you have a handy green backlight so you can see what you are doing without blinding yourself with a torch.

PROS

CONS

Several modes,Cost-effective,Wide range of intervals,Various models fit almost all SLRs,Backlight for night use,Shutter release button with lock,

Relatively easy to use

No power-off switch.

Canon Speedlite 580 EX II

 Canon decided to improve the already wildly popular 580 EX Speedlite into a Mark II. With rainproof seals and a list of impressive improved features, this should be your first Speedlite. The reason it should be your first is it is several units in one. For example, if you want to control Canon flashes off-camera in the super convenient wireless mode, this is your answer.

Canon made the ST-E2 wireless controller which is a unit you simply lock onto the hot shoe on top and it can control multiple Speedlites from a distance, but it is a whole separate unit. The Speedlite 580 EX II has one built in! This means that, with this flash on your camera, either directly on the hot shoe or wired on can control many wireless 430 EX and other 580 EX flash units! After you have one of these you can buy the cheaper 430 EX units as fill-in flashes. Wireless flash is a great tool with unlimited possibilities, from lower price macroflash, right up to portraiture and advanced wildlife photography.

Other great features include an improved hot-shoe lock, strobe as well as a swiveling head, bounce flash (awesome for indoor photography), built in diffuser and catch-light so this handy device will be right at home in your camera kit.

PROS

CONS

Silent and fast recycling, Excellent inbuilt Master wireless features, Loads of custom functions, More efficient- Splash proof (yet to fully test this!) Built in diffuser and catch-light, Powerful output, fully adjustable strobe function, Flash bulb zooms back and forth to adjust for lens zoom A little bulky

Manfrotto Tripod

Tripods are such important tools. Despite new image stabilizing lenses making tripods partially obsolete, they will at least for the foreseeable future have uses that will not be challenged by anything else. Night shooting, time lapse and self portraiture will always need something steady to hold the camera, and a tripod is just the thing. Manfrotto has been a respected name in tripods for some time now, and the model I use, and am very happy with is the 190 XDB legs coupled with the 488 RC2 head. 

These legs are good and stable, and unlike the cheap tripods that have the braces connecting the legs to the central shaft the Manfrotto’s legs can be adjusted independently to many angles up to 90° from the vertical position. The telescopic legs are locked at the desired length by knobs that are screwed to tighten and rubber feet hold it in position. These 190 XDB legs are perfect for harsh terrain as well as indoors or anywhere else you might take your camera. The RC2 head is a rugged, tough, heavy duty ball- head that can lock on almost any angle and even includes a 360° protractor to help you find a bearing or adjust the camera’s angle to a degree. Not designed for panning video, but excellent for video applications where the camera does not have to swivel during the shot, and for all aspects of still photography you will struggle to find a better tripod head.

Come back later to see more camera stuff I never regret buying.

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