DJI Spark vs DJI Mavic Pro have said it before.. and I will say it again - drones are fun! Did DJI just release the most fun, most capable drone yet? Before we talk about the DJI Spark I do want to say that drones are more than fun. They are useful in creating more interesting content and accessing angles and views you wouldn't otherwise be able to capture and share.  And this is true for photos or video. See the beautiful drone footage from Croatia.  They really open up some interesting possibilities but they aren't cheap, they can be intimidating and have typically required a commitment to bring along - The DJI Mavic pro made big steps in solving that with a compact size that still offers serious performance. Now with the newly announced DJI Spark it's clear DJI sees a market for smaller, cheaper and less intimidating drones. The size and weight of the Spark is impressively small- almost exactly 300 grams or .66 lbs. For comparison the Mavic Pro is 1.66lbs and noticeably larger, even when folded.Cool Feature - using just touch and hand signals the drone can take off from your hand, rotate around you, follow you, snap selfies or group shots and perform a few other prescribed routes while tracking you. Range of course is limited with gestures and even with the app you are limited to less than 100 meters distance. Buy the Fly More Combo for $699 and you get the controller that gives you a 2000 meter range, that's more than a mile, an extra battery and charger, prop guards and a carrying case. Charging is done via USB which helps to keep this all very portable - though charging through the drone is slow at 80 minutes via USB, charging through the hub included in the fly more combo is faster at 52 minutes and is capable of charging more than one battery at a time.The DJI Mavic offers a 21-25 minute fly time - records 4k at 30fps as well as additional frame rates at lower resolutions including some for excellent slow mo - offers RAW or JPEG capture with a 28mm f/2.2 and a 3 axis gimbal correcting for roll, pitch and YAW - the footage I have captured with the mavic is just so buttery smooth - I suspect the Spark is going to be close, but some movements or in some winds footage is likely to be a little less smooth. Speaking of wind - The Mavic states a max of 24 MPh while the Spark gets a max rating of 18 mph.Your range on the Mavic is significantly increased and with that additional flytime you can feel safe in going further and higher and knowing your drone will return.  The Mavic sells for $999 which includes a remote- you can fly the mavic with just your phone but range is greatly limited, similar to the Spark and the Mavic does not offer gesture control for movement though you can do the selfie shot and simple tracking. The fly more combo gets you three batteries, a smart 3 battery charger (sequential- not simultaneously), extra props, a carry case and doodad that lets you turn a battery into a phone charger for $1299.

Which Drone Should You Get?

If you are looking for ultra portable, fun and easy the Spark will do the job. I just said on a recent video the best drone is the one you have with you and being able to always have this along is pretty sweet. But if you need to go higher, further and/or want 4K - you should consider the Mavic. And if you really don’t care about portability get the Phantom 4. The DJI Spark will sell really well. Though everyone should get the fly more kit - 16 minute flight time and an 82 minute charge time doesn’t really set you up for lots of fun. Having at least ONE extra battery is in my opinion mandatory. Additional extra batteries will cost you $49.More details and a complete spec comparison of the Mavic, Phantom 4 and Spark can be found at I'd love to know which drone you are most interested in and why - is the Spark enough for you? Leave those in the comments below. Your use of my affiliate links is my salary - Please use these links for all your purchases.BUY FROM B&H PHOTO (No Sales Tax Outside NY)SPARKSPARK Fly More Combo (recommended)MAVIC PRO MAVIC PRO Fly More Combo (recommended)BUY FROM AMAZONSPARKSPARK Fly More Combo (recommended)MAVIC PRO MAVIC PRO Fly More Combo (recommended)

Going Lighter, Faster, Further

Can the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II replace my Sony a7Rii and the panasonic GH4? I talk about the potential and possibilities of leaving behind my GH4 and A7RII - It might be grass is greener on the other side or the sheep are lighter or something but it is very appealing to me to go lighter and simpler with my gear.Watch - Ditching Sony Full Frame for Micro 4/3rds

Gear List  -

Current Gear:Sony a7Rii - 24-70 f/2.8 - 70-200 f/2.8 - 50mm f/1.4 - GH4 - Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 - MeFoto Roadtrip Carbon Fiber - Gear ? Micro 4/3rds GearOlympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II - M. Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 - M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/2.8 - M.Zuiko Digital 25mm f/1.8 Lens - M.ZUIKO Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO Lens - Optics Laowa 12mm f/2.8 Zero-D - Batis 18mm f/2.8 Lens - Follow me on Instagram

Hands-on With the Samyang Premium 85mm 1.2 and 14mm 2.4 enters the premium lens lineup with their 85mm F/1.2 and 14mm F/2.4 lenses. Getting into the Sigma Art and L lens territory these lenses are said to hold up to 50mp Sensor's and 8k video. While pricing is under the table at the moment both lenses are rumored to be in the $1000 range. Find out Scott's thoughts in our video hands-on with these lenses at Photokina in the video above. So far the 85mm will only be available in Canon EF mount while the 14mm will be available in Canon EF, Nikon F, or Sony E mounts. With a decent build quality, good specs, and sharp glass Samyang certainly made a step into the high end market.

 Samyang 85mm 1.2 Samyang 14mm 2.4
85mm F/1.2
14mm F/2.4
Aperture Range
F/1.2 ~ 16
F/2.4 ~ 22
Optical Construction
10 Elements in 7 Groups
18 Elements in 14 Groups
Special Optics
1 Aspherical Lens2 High Refractive Lens
2 Aspherical Lens1 Hybrid Aspherical Lens2 Extra-low Dispersion Lens3 High Refractive Lens
Minimum Focus Distance
0.8m / 2.6'
0.28m / 11"
Maximum Magnification
x 0.13
x 0.08
Filter Diameter
No Filter
Number of Blades
Maximum Diameter
Canon EF
Canon EF, Nikon F, Sony E
Angle of View 35mm
98.4mm / 3.87"
109.4mm / 4.31"
1,050g / 2.31lb
791g / 1.74lb

4.5 Reasons why the Sony A7R II is not ready for Wedding Photography What about the ONE card slot? Scroll down. 4.5 Reasons why the Sony is not ready for Wedding PhotographyOverall I love this camera but the thought of using it as a primary wedding camera is not something I can recommend.

  1. File size - Compressed Raw files are 40-60MBs. With the 2.0 firmware update coming in a few days this is going to grow significantly. With no option for small or medium format Raw files you end up with huge amounts of data. It would be nice to have a medium Raw option, that would quickly solve this issue.
  2. Speed - Buffer clearing can be slow, even with the fastest of SD cards. Shoot a quick burst of photos and you will be frustrated waiting to review those images.slow buffer clearing a7RII
  3. Focus point control.  The Sony A7R II Offers some awesome focus features - eye-detect, face recognition - they work and they work fairly well in many situations but there are still times at a wedding where you need to pick your focus point and you need to do so quickly and efficiently and the pad on the back and the dual dial setup is not efficient.  After two months of almost continuous use I still find it slow and cumbersome.
  4. Battery Life - The sony eats batteries like crazy. You can implement my battery saving tips for decent results as a travel and walk around camera but if you are using this as your main wedding camera it needs to be on and ready to go 100% of the time and there is not avoiding the amount of power that is going to take.  You are looking at a battery change every 2 hours. We often shoot weddings that last 10-12 hours.
  5. This is the 1/2 point.  Fast Glass. Sony has some excellent lenses. I have been reviewing the 55mm f/1.8 and the 90mm f/2.8 macro lenses and they are so sharp!! There are also faster lenses if you are willing to manual focus but we don't really have anything faster than f/1.8 that autofocuses and we don't have the 24-70 f/2.8 and the 70-200 f/2.8. Sony has promised 8 new FE lenses in early 2016 and I believe some of these will be faster lenses and the 24-70 and 70-200 bread and butter combination. - That's why I only give this a 1/2 issue.

Maybe you expected the one card slot to be on the list.  While we are strong advocates for using a system that provide redundancy and backup of precious wedding photographs I don't believe having only one card slot is a deal breaker or even a BIG issue.  I have had cards fail on me in several different cameras and I have never NOT been able to recover the images. And Sony's database, although annoying to create each time you insert a new card, does provide a good safety net.  I once removed a card while the camera was still writing and although I had to wait 15 minutes as the camera worked to recover the image I didn't lose a single image, not even the one it was trying to write when I removed the card.  I am impressed.Again, I want to stress I love this camera - it is fantastic and I can easily come up with several reasons why it does make an excellent wedding camera and so nicely pushes technology forward in the camera industry.  I will be back to share more along with some of my favorite wedding photos I have snapped so far this season with the Sony a7R II.If you are looking for the ultimate landscape camera- The Sony A7R II is awesome. Buy from Amazon or B&H Photo

Iceland packing list- FINAL

August 5th I am headed to Iceland with McKay Photography Academy - below is my in-progress packing list. Note - While it is to late to join us in Iceland there is still one spot available for next jan/feb trip to New Zealand - join us in New Zealand for what I am sure will be an amazing trip! Camera GearThink Tank Airport Takeoff Rolling Backpack - loaded with Iceland gear


Sony a7 R II - 5DS R - Tough 860 - (interested in time lapse mode and having a waterproof camera)

Lenses & Adapters -

I plan to use most of my Canon lenses on the Sony via Metabones adapter.Sony 28mm prime f/2 (49mm) - 16mm Fisheye Conversion Lens for FE 28mm f/2 Lens - Canon EF Lens to Sony E-Mount Camera Lens Mount Adapter Mark IV - 24-70 f/2.8 (82mm) - 70-200 f/2.8 (77mm) - 16-35 F/4 IS (77mm) -


Lee Filters SystemLEE Filters Adapter Ring - 82mm - for Wide Angle Lenses Filters Adapter Ring - 77mm - for Wide Angle Lenses Filters Foundation Kit (Standard 4x4", 4x6" Filter Holder) Filters 100 x 100mm Big Stopper 3.0 Neutral Density Filter Filters 100 x 100mm Little Stopper 1.8 Neutral Density Filter 150 filters - 77 and 82 sizes.Feisol Tripod - My ReviewArca SwissFotga Universal Quick Release Plate L Bracket -Pedco Mini Tripod- capture - Zoom H4n with two wired Lav Mics for vlog and guests on vlog (more about audio) NEVER USED (Smart Lav did all the work)What I would love to take - The new(ish) Rode Wireless Lav system OtherLG G4 - Still enjoying the easy manual control of my phone camera! (my review)Rode Lav + - (better vlog audio)  

Amazon Offering Unlimited Storage for $59/year!

Amazon Offering Unlimited Storage Amazon has made news with their Unlimited Photos option for Prime subscribers and they have now upped their offering and $59.99 a year (after free three month trial) gets you unlimited storage of ALL FILES.  This is extremely competitive offering that moves Amazon ahead of Mozy, Backblaze, CrashPlan and other popular backup/online storage services.The downside - Amazon's desktop app used for file transfer is extremely limited- with drag and drop of folder(s) and a single option- Cancel- once upload has begun.  Mozy, Backblaze, CrashPlan provide controls for limiting the amount of bandwidth used,  pause/resume capabilities and automatic syncing of designated folders or drives.Amazon Cloud Drive AppProfessional Photographers, proceed with caution,  Amazon's TOS states the following: You may use the Service only to store, retrieve, manage, and access Your Files for personal, non-commercial purposes using the features and functionality we make available. You may not use the Service to store, transfer or distribute content of or on behalf of third parties, to operate your own file storage application or service, to operate a photography business or other commercial service I'd still like to use this as a backup solution for my personal files but with the current simplistic upload system it isn't feasible. Will it work for you? Who/where do you backup your files?  Let me know in the comments. 

Holiday Gift Guide 2014

This is a list of suggested accessories, ideas and services. If you are looking for cameras see my recommended cameras/gear as of November 2014. If you want to see all current deals and Black Friday Deals on cameras and accessories.My Holiday Gift Guide - Compiled with the help of Roy McKee - Here is Roy's complete list of suggested gear and accessories.  Christina has her own guide this year.

Lenses - Prime and Macro

Screenshot 2014-11-25 18.37.21 A prime lens - If you don't have one you need one. I have 6 reasons you should get a prime lens this holiday season. If you are a Canon shooter I suggest the Canon 24mm (more here) in short it is a lovely focal length on your APS-C sensor Canons providing excellent quality and low light performance in a tiny package.  Want a different focal length, maybe one better for portraits? I have a Canon Prime Lens Guide.   The EFS 24mm is just $149 Buy from Amazon or B&H Photo Video
Screenshot 2014-11-25 18.36.56 Nikon Photographers I suggest you start with the 35mm f/1.8 as your first prime.  A lovely focal length on a crop sensor camera, small, lightweight but provides excellent quality and very good low light capabilities with that f/1.8 maximum aperture. Just $196. Buy from Amazon or B&H Photo Video
Screenshot 2014-11-26 09.25.42 Feeling stuck in a photographic rut or maybe you feel like the area you live isn't particularly photogenic - a macro lens is a nice escape- turn the hum drum world around you into something amazing. Macro lenses start affordable and quickly climb from there.  For the cheapest option see the extension tubes I recommend next but for a dedicated lens Canon photographers can pick up the Canon EFS 60mm f/2.8 for just over $400 (with rebates).  Buy from Amazon or B&H PHoto Video.Nikon Photographers can start with the 40mm DX lens for $275. Buy from Amazon or B&H Photo Video.Want something more serious? The Canon 100mm F/2.8 L IS is fantastic. With current rebates it is selling from $899. Buy from Amazon or B&H Photo VideoNikon photographers pick up the 90mm Tamron VC for $749 - Offering 4 stops of VC and excellent sharpness. Buy from Amazon or B&H PHoto VideoAs discussed in my macro video - many lenses are marked or sold as Macros but the only a true macro can reach 1:1 magnification and the ones I list above are true macros.
Screenshot 2014-11-26 09.22.06 Macro Extension tubes - Earlier this year I released a longer video detailing several of your macro photography options including extension tubes. This set is an affordable way to get started with Macro photography using your existing lenses. Watch my video on Macro Options. Buy the Extension Tubes from B&H Photo Video (Nikon and Canon mounts available) | Amazon



Screenshot 2014-11-25 18.42.02 LITTLE - Joby Tripod for GoPros and other small cameras (I successfully used mine with a Sony a5100)  The feet have strong magnets making this tiny tripod much larger if you have something metal to stick it on. Railings, lampposts, cars all make good surfaces. $12.99 Buy from Amazon Buy from B&H Photo video for $10.99.
Screenshot 2014-11-25 18.43.13 A tripod is extremely useful and the Dolica is an affordable entry level tripod that offers pro level features - I have a review and side by side comparison with the MeFoto below. $48.95 Buy from Amazon
Screenshot 2014-11-25 18.43.44 MeFoto Travel Tripod - There are taller tripods, smaller tripods, lighter tripods but for me the MeFoto Travel Tripod and it's slight bigger brother the RoadTrip($189) hit the sweet spot of price, portability and performance. My Travel Tripod has always been tall enough for me and more importantly fits in my camera bag and consequently is with me when needed - one of the most important features of a tripod.  $139.00 Buy from Amazon or B&H Photo Video.
TriggerTrap You have a tripod - Now give yourself an additional reason to use it and pick up the Triggertrap mobile dongle system- This little connector and cord allows you to turn your smartphone into a computer capable of triggering your camera in a variety of ways. I have a recent review of Triggertrap here. $24-34.Buy direct from Triggertrap


Simple little gifts to make life easier / cleaner

Screenshot 2014-11-25 17.23.10 Carson Cleaning cloth - Clean lenses, LCD Screens with this soft pouch handy cleaning cloth. $5.92 Buy from Amazon
Screenshot 2014-11-25 17.31.47 Giottos cleaning solution - If you can't clean it with the cloth add a little of this solution. $5.99 Buy from Amazon
Screenshot 2014-11-25 17.34.33 Giottos rocket - Blow the dust away. $8.95 Buy from Amazon


Upgrade your strap

Screenshot 2014-11-25 17.40.30 I love Black Rapid straps- A really nice alternative to the standard strap that always seems to be in my way and causing the camera to bounce around uncomfortably.  Lots more about Black Rapids here and Roy's post on DYI to use the straps with a Manfrotto Tripod plate. $40 - $75 Buy on Amazon
Screenshot 2014-11-25 17.50.06 Need to carry two cameras at the same time or one camera and a lens pouch?  The Holdfast system will do it and you will look sharp too. $200 and up. Buy direct from Holdfast. or B&H Photo Video



Screenshot 2014-11-26 08.38.43 DJI has released a new drone, just in time for the Holidays and I want one! Ready to fly out of the box - these things are amazingly stable, smart(I love watching the copters hold position or come in for a landing on their own) and offer some awesome opportunities for aerial footage. $2,899 Buy from B&H
Screenshot 2014-11-26 08.49.37 5K imac - Want to speed through photo and video editing? I do and the newest imac offering a gorgeous display is one of the fastest computers you can plop on your desk today, the fact that it comes with a gorgeous 5k display makes it extra sweet.  Base models start at $2,399. Buy from B&H
Screenshot 2014-11-26 09.03.19 For video work or time lapse photography a slider can take ho-hum footage- I am eagerly waiting for my Nebo motion slider that you can preoder. If you are in a hurry pick up the Cinetics Axis360 Pro Motorized Motion Control System and Slider. Buy from B&H


Home/Mobile Office

Screenshot 2014-12-22 23.03.35 TaoTronic Lamp - It is important to have consistent lighting in your workspace and the TT-DL01 LED Desk Lamp provides good clean light with multiple brightness and temperature settings. USB Charging port is an added bonus. $52 Buy from Amazon
Screenshot 2014-11-25 18.11.22 Cocoon GRID-IT! Organizer Case - Keep all those little bits and extra wires organized. $7 - $15. Buy from Amazon or B&H Photo Video.
Screenshot 2014-11-25 18.26.28 Think Tank SD Pixel Pocket Rocket, Holds 9 SD Memory Cards - Keep those little cards full of your precious memories safe and organized. $16.75 Buy from Amazon or B&H PHoto Video
Screenshot 2014-11-25 18.24.47 A good camera bag - ThinkTank makes a variety of styles and models and although they aren't cheap they are some of the best on the planet and they last. Treat yourself and treat your gear. Buy direct from ThinkTank


Just Fun

Screenshot 2014-11-26 08.36.10 I stuck the Fujifilm Instax Share Smartphone Portable Printer SP-1 in the just fun section but it can be quite a serious little addition to your camera bag, providing you with a way to immediately print photos and share something tangible with friends. $177.99 Buy from Amazon Buy from B&H Photo Video.
Screenshot 2014-11-25 18.00.48 Bokeh Kit - Honestly you could make this on your own but the set is affordable and gives you a wide range of options. $24.95 Buy from Amazon
Screenshot 2014-11-25 18.01.00 If you are the type of person that loves to apply a ton of filters to your images you might love the Holga lenses for your camera, available in Nikon or Canon mounts you slap this puppy on your camera and suddenly turn your expensive DSLR into an ancient crappy camera that can be lots of fun to use :)  $24.95 Additional Filters available Canon - Nikon -
Screenshot 2014-11-26 10.34.25 Thermo Lens Mug - These have been around for a few years, my mom gave me mine last year and everyone LOVES It - fun to prank people with too ;) Pretend to drop an expensive lens or pour coffee into an expensive lens or. . you get the idea. $12.99 Buy from Amazon
Screenshot 2014-11-27 23.51.48 I was one of those people that wasn't sure I needed a GoPro and a year after buying one I can't believe the amount of use I have gotten out of mine. Bike rides, zip lines, paragliding, underwater at the salmon hatchery, skiing, timelapse along california coast, playing with kids in the pool and much more. The Hero 3+ Silver offers all the features I have used at a great price - Wifi, 60FPS at full 1080 and 12MP resolution that is so impressive for such a little camera. B&H is currently offering some freebies including a spare battery and 32GB MicroSD card. Grab one quick - limited quantities. Buy from B&H

Gift Cards

Screenshot 2014-11-25 21.58.43 Amazon Gift Card - All but one of the items on this guide can be purchased on Amazon. If you're not ready to commit to gifting any one of these things, why not just nudge them in the right direction with an Amazon gift card?  Amazon is offering $25 towards a digital camera if you buy someone a $100 Gift Card.
Screenshot 2014-11-25 21.59.13 BH Photo Video Gift Card - Almost all of the items on this guide can also be purchased at B&H. You'll also get brownie points for it being a photography-specific gift card from one of the biggest camera stores in the world. Seriously, you can find just about anything at that store.
Screenshot 2014-11-25 22.00.04 Artifact Uprising Gift Card - Few things are more rewarding to a photographer than seeing their images in print. Artifact Uprising offers a range of really beautiful and simple products to help bring photos from the digital world into the tangible world easily. Better yet - why not make your loved ones a photo book from one of your adventures with them? That's a gift they'll love forever

 My Holiday Gift Guide - Compiled with the help of Roy McKee - Here is Roy's complete list of suggested gear and accessories.  Christina has her own guide this year.

Christina's Gift Guide 2014

Christina's Corner of the Holiday Gift Guide (aka - what she wants)

Christina is a professional wedding photographer and co-host on our weekly Photo Mish Mash podcast. You can see more of her work at or Instagram/Christinabernales

Stylish photographer gift ONA Bag Insert - This insert is awesome for when I'm traveling light and I want to bring along my DSLR, a few extra accessories and my daily items. At $69 it's a very well-made, versatile accessory for the photographer in your life. Buy from Amazon or B&H Photo Video
Screenshot 2014-11-25 21.09.03 ONA Presidio Leather Camera Strap - This camera strap is stylish and the leather is long-lasting and it just gets more and more comfortable over time. ONA has canvas straps, too, but leather is a classic look that will look great through the decades. $99 Buy from Amazon or B&H Photo Video.
Screenshot 2014-11-25 17.50.06 HoldFast Dual Camera Strap in Bison Leather - Are you seeing a theme here? I really dig leather goods. Like the neck strap, this dual camera strap is the most comfortable (and stylish) way to carry two cameras at once for hours on end. The bison is ultra-soft but all the leathers soften overtime and mold to your body for the perfect fit. $300 - $310 Buy from Amazon or B&H Photo Video
Screenshot 2014-11-25 21.09.49 ONA Brixton Messenger Camera Bag - This bag is beautiful functional, and like with all other ONA products, solidly built. I'd be elated to see this beautiful bag this holiday. $279 Buy from Amazon or B&H Photo Video.


Screenshot 2014-11-25 21.28.44 Lensbaby with Edge 80 Optic - This is a super fun way to get creative with those cool tilt-shift photos without breaking the bank. This is my favorite Lensbaby Optic of them all. $499. Buy from Amazon or B&H Photo Video.
Screenshot 2014-11-25 21.28.21 Lensbaby Composer - Don't want to splurge on the Edge 80? This Lensbaby Composer kit is perfect for anyone looking to get started. You can always add the Edge 80 Optic on later. And don't forget Lensbaby makes these fun lenses for just about all camera mounts! $199.95 Buy from Amazon or B&H Photo Video (Instant savings at B&H brings price down to $159.95
Screenshot 2014-11-25 21.35.33 Sigma Art 50mm F/1.4 Lens - This is probably my favorite lens ever. Its sharpness is unmatched and its price cannot be beat. They say it rivals Zeiss glass and it's true. It's the best. $949 Buy from Amazon or B&H Photo Video
Screenshot 2014-11-25 21.35.52 Sigma Art 35mm F1.4 Lens - Same as the fifty but a little wider. My second favorite lens. $899 Buy from Amazon or B&H Photo Video


Christina's Camera Picks

Screenshot 2014-11-25 21.35.18 Fujifilm Instax 210 - Fuji makes several of these but the 210 landscape version is my favorite. This is a great gift for just about anyone - friends, siblings, cousins, nieces, nephews, or significant others. These Fuji cameras bring photography back to being the tangible piece of instant nostalgia that it was during the Polaroid era. $58.49 Buy from Amazon or B&H Photo Video
Screenshot 2014-11-25 21.41.10 Panasonic Lumix GH4 - This camera is a videographer's dream. It's silky smooth to focus and offers amazing video and photo quality at a very good price. I want it. Do you want it? Cause I want it. Recent price drop to $1497 (B&H includes a few freebies too) Buy from Amazon or B&H Photo Video
Screenshot 2014-11-25 21.44.11 Fujifilm XT1 - The electronic viewfinder on this camera is as dreamy as the image quality. It looks like a vintage rangefinder without having to worry about developing any film. Definitely on my list. $1198 Buy from Amazon or B&H Photo Video
Screenshot 2014-11-25 22.07.42 Canonet QL7 GIII - And for the analog photography lover in your life. Here's a super cool, affordable fun camera. ~$50 Buy on ebay

Gift Cards

Screenshot 2014-11-25 21.58.43 Amazon Gift Card - All but one of the items on this guide can be purchased on Amazon. If you're not ready to commit to gifting any one of these things, why not just nudge them in the right direction with an Amazon gift card?  Amazon is offering $25 towards a digital camera if you buy someone a $100 Gift Card.
Screenshot 2014-11-25 21.59.13 BH Photo Video Gift Card - Almost all of the items on this guide can also be purchased at B&H. You'll also get brownie points for it being a photography-specific gift card from one of the biggest camera stores in the world. Seriously, you can find just about anything at that store.
Screenshot 2014-11-25 22.00.04 Artifact Uprising Gift Card - Few things are more rewarding to a photographer than seeing their images in print. Artifact Uprising offers a range of really beautiful and simple products to help bring photos from the digital world into the tangible world easily. Better yet - why not make your loved ones a photo book from one of your adventures with them? That's a gift they'll love forever

 See my Gift Guide for 2014

Traveling with the 5DM3, GPS, 24-70 f/2.8, Eye-Fi Card and rambling on. . . .

I recently returned from 8 days in Costa Rica/Panama and I wanted to share some thoughts- Here are the "highlights" of my ramblings in this video1.  Dual Card slots in the 5D Mark III are really nice - I shot Full RAW to 32GB CF cards (SanDisk Extreme) and small JPEG to the Eye-Fi card (16GB X2).  Using the Eye-fi's direct mode I was able to easily and without issue share selected images via the rate function to a Nexus 7.  Previous eye-fi cards/firmware I found direct mode to be buggy but it was really solid this trip.  On the Nexus I used PhotoGrid HD to create collages of 3-4 images and shared those to Facebook.Costa Rica Collage via Photo Grid HD 2. The Nexus and my 5D Mark III fit snuggly in a Vanguard 18 Bag.  I didn't always carry the nexus with me and if I wanted to keep the GPS logger attached to the camera I can remove the internal padding in the Vanguard and it fits.  Because I use a lens hood instead of a UV filter I can put the camera lens down in the bag and not get the end of the lens covered in sandy bits.   I didn't even bring a camera strap (confession I forgot it at home) but using the Vanguard was preferable.  The camera was out of site unless I was holding it.  The top zipper seam on the Vanguard makes it very easy to "drop" the camera into the bag and ZIP. . it's gone.3. I enjoy the quality and value you can get with a prime lens - said another way I have never been a fan of "do-it-all" lenses like the 18-200.  This trip has changed my opinion. . . some.   I certainly wanted nice photos but I was not willing to carry a ton of gear, either because I didn't want to look like a walking target for theives or I just didn't want to lug around a ton of gear, mostly the last.  I spent most of my time shooting with the 24-70 f/2.8 Mark II and brought along the 70-300 IS USM for longer wildlife shots.   I have since played with the new 24-70 F/4 IS with Macro mode and I would have rather taken that - the f/2.8 is only marginally useful for vacation type shots and the IS plus the macro mode would have been a welcome addition in several instances.  Another option for me would be the 24-105 - quite a nice range.  For crop sensor shooters using cameras like the T4i (650D) the 18-135 would have been a fantastic lens.  Red Frog4. I used the GPS logger from Canon (GP-E2) and it worked VERY well.  95% of my photos are already tagged.  Battery life of the unit was excellent and it was quick to get a lock.   There does seem to be an invisible action that causes the camera battery to drain. I often leave my camera on overnight and on this trip I would find the battery dead in the morning IF I had also left the GPS logger on.  The simple solution is to turn the GPS and or the camera off when you are not using it.GP-E2 Tagged Photos in Lightroom

365 Project - KISS

I mentioned in my Be a Better Photographer Tip #53 [Project 365 & Gimmicks] that I was considering starting a 365 project again (results of my last attempt a few years ago).  Well the first 8 days of 2013 were easy, traveling through beautiful Costa Rica and Panama there was something new and exciting to photograph every day.Cosa Rica SunriseNow and I am back home and although Southern Vermont blanketed by snow is no less photogenic it is a struggle to see past what is to my eyes "ordinary" AND to find the time.  Mostly to find the time.     Here is my plan with an emphasis on keeping it simple(KISS) and not giving up the whole thing if I miss a day. . or two.

  1. Take a photo each day - My goal will be to use my DLSR 98% of the time but if I have taken a cell phone photo that I am particularly proud of that can work too.
  2. Review the photos with some regularity. The back of the camera is not a substitute for seeing the photo on a big screen and inspecting the photo along with the metadata - seeing your settings side by side with the image is a great way to understand the relationship of exposure, depth of field, movement blur etc.
  3. Upload these photos with some regularity - probably to a Facebook album, maybe to Blip and anywhere else I feel like sharing.
  4. Provide a few additional challenges, themes or ideas to keep it fresh- This might seem to fly in the face of keeping it simple but you do run the risk of hitting a mental road block and giving up for lack of creativity.  Sites like provide ideas/challenges for each day, helping to keep the brain juices flowing.  Plus it is really fun to meet a challenge and then review how others approached or interpreted the same challenge.

#365Project - 1/10/13 I will be back with some more ideas soon - in the meantime pick that camera up an snap a photo, then do it again tomorrow and the day after.  You certainly aren't going to improve your photography by putting it off.  And don't hesitate to give me a shout and ask how I am doing with the challenge.  

Giving Thanks!

I wanted to take a moment and say "THANK YOU" to all those of you that have taken time to communicate with me - either a comment on a video, an email, a post on Facebook, a phone call(yep even had a few of those) and chat - it really is important to me to know that there are folks out there that not only value my opinion but are willing to take a moment and say thank you!I have had a few ask how they can really thank me and I am happy to provide some ways-1 - Use my Amazon link for ALL of your Amazon shopping - I earn a small percentage of every sale - I split those earnings between funds that help me run this blog, gear for reviews and giveaways, the more you buy the more giveaways there will be :)  Shop Amazon (Click and drag this link to your bookmarks toolbar for instant and thought-free action)  2- Use the donation link on the right - I only recently added this and folks have already started to use it - proceeds are again split and a huge thanks to those folks who have donated.3- Spread the word - let friends and family know that I am here and happy to answer photography and camera gear questions.4- Just take a moment and say thanks, leave a comment or post a photo to share. I am about to spend 8 hours in the car today, luckily I won't be driving the whole way which will give me time to answer a few emails and start working on a blog post about the very cool Triggertrap that is on my Holiday Gift List. And I have big plans in the coming months - Posts on MAKING photos (not just taking), guest posts by the wonderfully talented Christina Bernales, loads more videos and of course a giveaway or two.