Friday, June 19, 2015

BlackRapid camera strap review

BlackRapid camera strap review

Camera straps are one of those things which have hardly changed since the birth of cameras. It's just a simple strap which goes up to your shoulder. Okay, now they are wider and made of ballistic nylon, and long ago they were leather. I have a pre-war Rolleiflex double-lens reflex camera with its original strap, it's leather and I can't believe how narrow it is (and how worn). Must be around a centimeter, under half an inch. But the camera is clearly very used indeed, so it seems the strap has held for over half a century.

About seven years ago, I found a one-man company who made a strap called the Y-strap. Unfortunately he has since closed shop. The brilliance of that strap was mostly in the simple idea that you put in on the shoulder opposite the camera, so it wouldn't slide off, and secondly that the camera was mounted in such a way that it would slide on the strap, so in less than a second you could grab it down by your hip and swing it up and fire.

This excellent idea has fortunately been continued by a slightly bigger company called BlackRapid. (Though I can't say if they knew of the Y-strap.) They make several models (admittedly some of them seem to push the raƮson d'etre thing a little), and they are all based on the same idea as the Y-strap. But they have added several features, most importantly a big, comfy stretch of padding which rests on your shoulder, so even with a heavy camera and long hours, the risk of discomfort is minimized.

I've bought two: the Yeti, which can carry one or two cameras (one on each side of the body), and the Metro, which is the "compact model" for minimal space use when traveling. I am just trying out the Metro (which of course has the smallest shoulder pad), and even with my heaviest camera and heaviest lens, it feels very comfortable. Of course I can't yet vouch for how it will feel carrying it for five hours, but I can say that it does not at all feel like I'm carrying the heaviest gear I have. And that's just with the most compact strap, so that induces trust.

I found out about this strap from a video on Luminous landscape, and it was mentioned that many of the photographers on their long-range camera expedition were using BlackRapid straps, so clearly the word-of-mouth recommendations are strong.

Note: BlackRapid likes to mount the strap via the tripod thread. But if it fits you better (for example to have the tripod thread free), you can also use either side strap mount, though you may have to use a keyring-ring as go-between. 
Note 2: Some Amazon reviews complain about the prices, but I think those are people who haven't tried them yet. The Metro I think has a quite fair price ($39). The Yeti costs quite a lot more ($99), but when you pack it out: man, it's impressive. That is solid gear, I think you really get a lot for your money. (Of course it's about equivalent of two good straps, plus extras to secure it around the shoulder, I guess in case you're photographing from a plane doing stunts...)
Also the steel bits are kewl. They seem like they could lift a car (I wouldn't be surprised), and they are even nice to look at, with semi-black anodization (similar to Apple's "Space Grey").

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Variations on a cat

I got this shot from TCGirl, her daughter had shot it with cameraphone. I quite like it, love the super-relaxedness of the cat, but maybe there was finger prints on the lens, cuz it's hazy. So I decided to do what I could do with it. I used Snapseed app on iPad (due to my M.E. which keeps me in bed much of the time, an iPad on a floor stand is a blessing for me; I've actually realized that it has become my main computer de facto.). 

So I increased contrast and sharpness, etc, and you see the result in picture number Two, no longer washed out. 

Then I decided to try the "Glamour Glow" filter which I'd used sometimes to help poor skin on models on Domai. (Typical: I paid like $130 for the suite to get the filter on the Mac, on the iPad it's included in a three-dollar editor.) 
Result: it reaches out much more, it's more three-dimensional, it's "glowing", vibrant...   Compared to it, the middle version looks weird, flat. 

But is it a bit too "pop"? (Clicking to see them full size helps.)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A nice afternoon in a restaurant

Three very good friends and very old ladies were in a restaurant.

Ida said: "The young people these days don't appreciate a good restaurant any more."

Molly affirmed: "And they are so distracted by their phone toys that their brains hardly function on their own anymore."

Nelly expanded: "Thank god that won't ever happen to us." Then Nelly knocks under the table for good luck. After a second she turns and calls out: "Come in!"

Monday, June 15, 2015

Jane Horrocks

It's all her own voice.

Wallpaper: Magna Carta

[Thanks to Google]
You know what makes a weally weally kool wallpaper: The Magna Carta (large copy).
Not only does it look great, with the subtle tones and wonderful ol' timey scribley text, it also reminds us that there was a time before anybody put on paper than that nobody should be above the law, and that the law should be for the good of the people, not just whatever the current king felt like it should be.