In an effort to take my blog to the next level, I’ve decided to purchase my own domain name and move my blog off of the WordPress server. With this move, I will be able to customize my blog and add additional features to better serve the readers. I’ve enjoyed providing quality photographic content for you and look forward to providing more at the new location.
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Think Tank’s Speed Freak V2.0 Beltpack–Final Impressions
I’ve been using my new Think Tank Speed Freak v 2.0 for a week now, and it quickly became my favorite camera bag. Think Tank didn’t leave any details out as far as I can tell.
Here are some of the features I like about the Speed Freak:
- This bag is very light weight. My older shoulder bag was over four pounds empty. The Speed Freak comes in just over two pounds empty.
- The Speed Freak is very comfortable to wear. I keep the shoulder strap loose across my body with the waist strap transferring all of the weight to my hips. I’ve taken a couple of long hikes already, and it’s nice not having any weight on my shoulders or back.
- When relying solely on the shoulder strap, I find it to be very comfortable and soft. Thanks to some clear non-slip coating, the bag has no tendencies to slip off of my shoulder.
- The Speed Freak is just the right size for me. Compared with the multitude of camera bags I’ve used over the past 35 years, the Speed Freak is a small bag. That is one of the features I was looking for, because I’m tired of carrying around a ton of equipment.
- Despite it’s outside appearances, this bag is very roomy inside. I can easily carry either my Nikon D7000 or D80 with a 70-300mm lens attached and two additional lenses. I am positive that I could fit a flash and another small lens inside if needed.
- The little pocket on the inside of the main compartment designed for lens caps and filters is actually a very large compartment. You could get many lens caps and filters inside.
- Although not listed as a feature, the Speed Freak comes with internal shelves for each of the three major sections formed by the two main dividers. These shelves attach to the side walls with Velcro tabs, and I assume are designed to break up compartments in order to store additional equipment. I found the shelves useful over the top of lenses to lock them down. Since this is a beltpack, the equipment inside can get bounced around as you walk or run.
- The Velcro tabs for each of the internal shelves can be folded back thanks to an extra piece of Velcro on the bottom of the shelves. A nice feature when you want to put the shelves in the down position.
- Also not listed as a feature, when the belt is deployed outside the zippered side pockets, Velcro inside each pocket closes the pocket back up.
Here are a couple features that were okay, but not major selling points in my opinion:
- The waterproof zipper on top of the bag comes in handy for accessing small stuff in the bag, but is not really big enough for getting a camera body with lens attached in and out easily.
- The Speed Freak has two adjustments for the shoulder strap and two for the waist belt to get it fit properly to your body. The waist belt does not have one touch adjustments, so it takes a little time to get the bag the way you want it. I made some initial adjustments, and then stopped two or three times during my initial hike to tweak the straps.
What I was most bummed about:
- When Think Tank designed the V2.0 Speed series beltpacks, they chose to discontinue including the Pixel Pocket Rocket for memory card storage. Although not a deal breaker, it would have been nice to have either the Pixel Pocket Rocket or the Pee Wee Pixel Pocket Rocket.
Think Tank’s Speed Freak V2.0 is an outstanding camera bag. Although a little pricy at $159.75, it is a high quality bag with a lifetime guarantee and worth every penny. I fully expect that this bag will be with me until I’m too old to pick up the camera anymore. I highly recommend any of the Speed series beltpacks for all shooters.
For more information, contact Think Tank.
My new Think Tank Speed Freak V2.0 arrived today. I’ve had my eye on the Speed series beltpacks for about six months now. They were out of stock for quite some time while waiting for V2.0 to come out. My initial impression…this is a very nice camera bag, and it should serve me well for many years to come.
The Speed Freak V2.0 is actually a little smaller than I imagined, which is a good thing. Despite it’s compactness, I was able to get my Nikon D7000, Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 AF-S, Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S, and Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Macro in the bag with room to spare. I could probably squeeze a flash and another small lens in there if needed.
This weekend, I’ll take my new Speed Freak out for it’s maiden photo shoot at one of the nearby parks or preserves. Next week I’ll post a full review and my overall opinion.
For more information on any of Think Tank’s Speed series beltpacks, click the links below.
Speed Demon V2.0 (smallest in series)
Speed Freak V2.0 (medium sized)
Speed Racer V2.0 (largest in series)
Don’t forget to check back next week for the full review. Better yet, subscribe to my blog and get an update whenever I post new information.
Some days, you just come back empty handed. I spent the afternoon at Rock Cut State Park in Loves Park, Illinois in search of a field of Thistle in full bloom and abundant with Monarch Butterflies. A field of Pale Purple Coneflowers would have been just as good.
Instead, I found a spattering of Prairie Milkweed in bloom throughout the park and one butterfly. This Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) gave me five minutes of it’s time to make some photos. Unfortunately, we had bald skies in northern Illinois today making the dynamic range higher than I like. And as you can see in this image, Mr. Butterfly is older with weathered and torn wings.
On top of all that, I got lost in the park. I was hiking in an area new to me and was experimenting with different trails. I hiked one hour out, and spent about two hours getting back. I actually wasn’t lost. The area I was in had major roads on three sides, I have a compass that stays in my camera bag at all times, and I had my smart phone with GPS and Google Maps. The trick was just finding the right combination of trails to get back to the car.
Despite the lack of images, it was a good day for a nature hike and a chance to get some fresh air. And let’s face it…even a bad day out making photographs is better than a good day at work.
So I guess the moral to this story is, if you enjoy nature and wildlife photography, always carry a compass in your camera bag and know how to use it. They are cheap, lightweight and easy to use. A compass comes in darn handy when predicting sun position for a sunrise or sunset photo. And sometimes they come in handy to help you find your way home.
Did your Nikon DSLR stop working while you were using the Infrared Nikon ML-L3 Wireless Remote Control? Don’t worry…it’s normal.
After setting your Nikon camera to Remote Control Mode using the Shooting Mode button or dial, the camera will start actively searching for an Infrared signal. That active search uses additional battery power.
In an effort to conserve battery power, Nikon has set your camera to end Remote Control Mode automatically after no operations are performed for a selected period of time. Typical Nikon default settings can be one or five minutes depending on which camera model you own. It can be real annoying. Especially when you are trying to coordinate a group shot that you have to be in.
Good news though…the time your Nikon will continue to search for an Infrared signal can be changed. Look in your Nikon’s menus for Remote On Duration. In some DSLRs, like the Nikon D3000, it will be in the Setup menu. In many of the other DSLRs, like the D90 or D7000, it will be in the Custom Settings menu. If you can’t find it, look up Remote On Duration in the operator’s manual.
Once you find Remote On Duration, you will find four possible settings; 1 minute, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, and 15 minutes. I keep all of my cameras set for 15 minutes and have never noticed any significant battery drain. Except for very rare cases, 15 minutes is ample time between images, and I don’t have to manually walk over to the camera to reactivate the feature.
If you have any questions about photography or your camera, feel free to post them below or send me a note through my contact page. I will do my best to answer them for you.
Well it took me exactly two weeks to get all of my airshow photos edited and the post production work done, but the photographic airshow is now ready over at Flickr. Out of the 1400 images, I narrowed it down to 62 that I liked. Here’s the link: 2011 Rockford Airfest Slide Show
Lima Lima Flight Team performing in their T-34 Mentors. This photo was made using the Nikon D7000, Nikon AF-S VR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 AF-S, hand held.
With the advent of the modern digital camera, keeping the camera steady in low light and with larger focal length lenses is not the problem it was back in the days of film. It’s easy to set the ISO higher or turn on Auto ISO to get higher shutter speeds. But there’s a tradeoff when using a higher ISO in that you are sacrificing image quality and picking up noise in order to keep the image sharp.
Rather than using technology to compensate for those longer exposures, that longer focal length lens, or just bad camera handling, why not adopt some tried and true handholding techniques to steady your camera? Of course, the best method would be to use a tripod or monopod. But sometimes using a tripod isn’t an option. And if you’re like me, tripods just slow you down. I tend to shoot using a photojournalistic approach, meaning I shoot fast and always on the move.
Here are a few of the techniques I’ve used over the years to steady my handheld camera.
1. With camera in hand, you should have a good solid grip, but not tense. If your knuckles are turning white, you’re holding your camera too tight. Relax a little.
2. Typically, your right hand will hold the cameras grip while controlling the many dials and buttons including the shutter release. The left hand will support the weight of the camera and the fingers will control the focus and zoom rings on the lens if needed.
3. You’re going to use your entire body as firm support and acting as a tripod. With the camera to your eye, your elbows should be tucked in tight against your body acting as two legs of the tripod. Your face will act as the third tripod leg. No chicken wings with your elbows pointing outward. If your elbows are out, not only are you going to have shaky camera work, but you will tire fast which will just compound the problem.
4. If available, brace yourself against something solid like a tree, wall, pole or doorway. If nothing is available and it won’t have an negative impact on your composition, then try sitting down, squatting, or knelling and resting your elbows on your legs. Lying down on the ground with your arms and camera out in front of you also works well.
5. Try placing your camera on a solid surface like a rock, fence post, or roof of a car. All the camera stores sell bean bags and a multitude of gadgets that cushion your camera when placing it on a solid surface. They work to protect your camera finish and also will put more of the camera in contact with the solid surface. I don’t use any of these products, but can see the benefit in using them.
6. Hold your breath while shooting. No…not until you turn blue and pass out. Prior to taking any photo, take a deep breath, let it partially out, hold your breath and then release the shutter. I’m talking about a second or two tops. At first, you will have to consciously remind yourself to do this. After a while it becomes second nature. I’ve been shooting for 35 years now, and holding my breath just happens. I know I do it, but am not aware of it.
So, next time you’re out shooting, give some of these techniques a try if you’re not already using them. They will help you steady your camera in any and all situations. Even if you are shooting at a fast enough shutter speed where blur won’t be an issue, these techniques will make you look more professional and you will feel in control.
Using these techniques and practicing will also let you eventually break one of the rules of photography. You’ve probably heard the old adage that when handheld, your camera’s shutter speed should never drop below the reciprocal of your lens focal length. Meaning that if you are using a 135mm lens, your shutter speed should be no lower than 1/135th of a second (or something close like 1/125th). Using some good handholding techniques and breath control may allow you to drop down to 1/60th of a second. For some of you…maybe even lower than that. Practicing and experimentation are the only things that will give you those answers.