Archive for the ‘gear’ Category

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A Tether Cable Bargain

January 17, 2012

We recently did an interesting test here at the studio.  I almost always shoot tethered directly into Lightroom, which means I have my camera connected via USB to my computer, and as I shoot the images are automatically imported into Lightroom and show up on my monitor, nice and big!

This requires a very high quality USB cable to transfer all the data and keep things flowing so Lightroom doesn’t hang up or crash.  I like to use the longest possible cable (15ft) so I can move around and not trip over the cable.  In the past, I have purchased these cables from photo supply sources for upwards of $65!  Students are always inquiring where to get tether cables, and I always resent having to recommend such an expensive item.

So, in the interest of saving everyone money, I went in search of a cheaper alternative.  I came across a 15ft USB cable on the Monoprice website that seemed way too good to be true.  Same specs as the expensive cables, but at a ridiculously low price…. so I purchased one to test.  Much to my surprise, when we tested the cable (using a Canon 5DMKII tethered to my iMac running Lightroom 3), the transfer times were exactly the same as the expensive cables!  We were so surprised that we ran the tests a few times just to be sure…. and no problem.  A single Raw file transfers in around 4 seconds, and we can fire a full burst of 16 shots before the buffer fills, and all the files transfer in around 45 seconds… same as with the expensive cable!

So now you want to know…. where and how much???!?

Here’s a link to the specific cable we used:

For only $1.76 each when QTY 50+ purchased – 15ft USB 2.0 A Male to Mini-B 5pin Male 28/24AWG Cable w/ Ferrite Core (Gold Plated) | USB 2.0 Cables – Mini-B 5pin Type

And the price? $2.09 !!  Shipping to Canada costs around $6, so the total cost is less than $10.  Quite a bargain compared to the $65 I have been paying.

I’ve been using the cable with no problems for over a month now, though I don’t know how well it will hold up long-term, but at that price, order a few of them!

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My Hard Drive is Full!…. What Now?

September 2, 2010

I just had an interesting experience dealing with one of the inevitable hassles of digital storage. My external hard drive (750gig) which holds all my photography was filling up! So off I went to a local computer store (Canada Computers on College Street) and bought a big spacious 2 TB drive (For a mere $109). I bought just the bare drive, as I was planning on putting it in the enclosure which houses my current drive.

So now my question was how to get all the photos and some various other stuff I stored on the drive onto my new drive. No big deal, except that I didn’t want to break all my connections in Lightroom and have to go through the process of getting Lightroom to find all my photos again. Since I have a few different catalogs (mostly for teaching purposes) on this one drive it would be a pain to have to reconnect all the Lightroom catalogs.

I thought about migrating all the photographs through the Lightroom interface, but this would involve doing each catalog separately and then copying over the remaining bits and pieces of data that I have on the drive. I didn’t like that idea!

So I decided to try a different approach. I placed the new drive in an enclosure that I happened to have lying around (this is where one of those drive docks would come in handy!). When I mounted and formatted the new drive I was careful to name it exactly the same name as my existing photo drive. To my surprise, both drives showed up on my desktop even though they both have the same name!

I then used a really handy little free program from Lacie (SilverKeeper) to create an exact copy of my very full hard drive on the new drive. The advantage of using a program like SilverKeeper to do this exercise is that it makes an exact copy of your drive, including any invisible files and directory information. The copying process took a while, so I ran it over night while I was sleeping.

In the morning I came down and unplugged both drives. Then I switched the new drive into the old enclosure. (This isn’t really totally necessary step, as I could have left it in the enclosure it was in. However I wanted to use the FireWire 800 enclosure that I had been using, since it provides faster read times than USB) after the switch I plugged in the new drive and launched Lightroom, with my fingers crossed. To my delight, Lightroom found its catalog and all the photos, no problem!

I was very pleased to save myself the hassle of having to relocate all those photos in all my different catalogs. I guess the secret to the trick is to have the new drive named exactly the same name as the old drive so that Lightroom gets tricked into believing that the location hasn’t really changed.

By the way, the ultimate solution to this issue is to purchase a Drobo. These are multi-bay hard drive enclosures that hold four, five, or eight drives. The cool thing about the Drobo is that it combines all the drives into one volume, and it does it in a way that you can actually switch out smaller drives for larger ones without losing any data. It also protects you in case of one drive failing. For those of you who shoot large quantities of photos and or video, the Drobo is a really good idea!

I just thought I’d share this solution with you, since it’s inevitable that one day you’re going to fill up your drive and have to migrate your data, and this method works well with Lightroom.

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What Lights Should I Buy?

April 30, 2008

So, now on to the second most common question I get asked!

Ok, so here, once and for all is my definitive answer… at least until some new gizmo comes along.

First off, flash!  Let me say right up front… I LOVE MY ALIEN BEES!  They’re everything I need in a studio or location flash unit… convenient, powerful, portable, reliable, and most important, cute!  I bought them originally for some location shooting… and now I hardly ever power up my old Balcar systems.

At the bottom of this post I’ve compiled a chart with my specific recommendations, and here is my reasoning for the choices:

Read the rest of this entry ?

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What Lens Should I Buy?

March 21, 2008

This is the question most often asked by my students. So I thought I should take this opportunity  to set down my thoughts on lens choices.

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Equipment Debate

March 15, 2008

One of my students just brought my attention to an online debate about the relative importance of gear in photography.  You can catch the jist of the debate here.  My Response:

 First, let me establish that I have an opinion on just about everything… I’m just built that way. Some of my opinions are highly valid, based on a mix of hard won knowledge and experience.  Some are completely worthless, based on conjecture and thin air.  But I hold them all dearly, like treasured children.  That’s the basic problem with opinions!  Now, to the debate… Of course both writers are completely correct.  In any form of endeavor there are tools that are better than others, or at least better suited to one particular aspect of that endeavor.  And a better tool will make a fine artisan better.  However, a fine tool will do nothing to improve the work of an untalented person, or even that of one who is talented but doesn’t practice to refine that talent.  The surest way to improve your photography is to take more photographs and look at more photographs.  The camera, lens, software, secret sauce, whatever… Is the last step in the progression.  Any reasonable camera is more than capable of taking superlative pictures… The same cannot be said of the photographer.  Just remember that the most important piece of equipment occupies the space six inches behind your eyes, not in front of them.  That’s my opinion!   

 

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Gear: Packing and Transporting

February 16, 2008

Here’s an interesting site from John Harrington about the equipment he uses and how he packs it all for transportation:  Assignment ConstructLots of videos about his set-ups as well! 

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