Posts filed under Review

Think Tank Retrospective 7 with Macbook Pro 13" (late 2016)

Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 11.12.23.PNG

The Think Tank Retrospective 7 camera bag holds an iPad, 11" Macbook Air or something similar according to the specifications. But the new Macbook Pro 13" (from late 2016), also fits (like a glove) in the back compartment of the bag.

It does take some effort in inserting the Macbook Pro for the first time. Especially if the bag is brand new. But after inserting it a couple of times, the fabric loosens a bit and it becomes easier to insert and extract the laptop from the compartment.

NOTE: There might be some scratching involved on the laptop over time while opening opening and closing the zipper (because of the 'fits-like-a-glove' thing).

Posted on April 4, 2017 and filed under Photography, Review, Gear, Tips'n Tricks.

Entering The World Of Android Based Media Players

This is gonna be a good one. An Apple Fanboy Going Android..... WTF!?

Yep, it's true to some extent. The reason for letting myself into the Android world is a media player one. Up till recent I was quite happy with my Popcorn Hour A-110, which I bought 6-7 years ago. Happiness started to fade when transfer speeds and connections to the device started to fail. Networking was never its strongest part, even though it had a 100mbps interface. For some reason it never got above the 10Mbps speeds. Had something to do with the processing priority of the device.

Anyway, lately, larger FTP transfers failed for whatever reason, and using SAMBA transfers.... well, don't get me started on that file transfer protocol. Sending communications by pigeon-mail is faster. And since streaming over the network was not an option for the larger (far less compressed) x264 encoded movies or TV shows, I started to look for an alternative.

The alternative should be able to connect to remote media sources, and have enough processing power for the network adapter to get decent a throughput. Also some additional multimedia features were on the 'very-nice-to-have' list. These features included (but were not limited to);

  • stream various content from the web
  • not limited to just video
  • easily modifiable (apps etc.)
  • prepared for the future (4k video?)
  • xbmc (or something alike)

With this list of requirements, there were about a gazillion candidates, because every player out there tends to support this. So I needed to narrow down the candidates. I did exclude the current Popcorn Hour because of the physical size of there latest models.

Posted on December 27, 2014 and filed under Gadgets, Hardware, Personal, Review, Tips'n Tricks, Video.

Really Right Stuff L-Plate For Fuji X-T1

The Arca-style tripod heads and plates are one of my favorites. I use them now for over 4 years, and I guess I'll be using them for a long time. Especially the so-called L-plates are awesome.

The L-plates are plates which enables you to put the camera in portrait orientation on the tripod head, without putting the top of the head in an awkward vertical position, which lowers the effective height of your camera on the tripod.

For my former Nikon D300 I had a L-plate by Really Right Stuff, and now that I upgraded to a Fujifilm X-T1, I needed one for that model. This time they (Really Right Stuff - RSS) created a modular L-plate. The former D300 version was made out of one piece, but the this one allows you to remove the L-part of the plate, making the camera lighter. So you need to add that part if you intend to shoot in the portrait orientation. The good thing is that you can order the parts separately. So you can start with the base plate and get the L-part when you need it. I just got them both at the same time.

The entire kit comes with the appropriate hex wrenches and a small screw which can be used on the bottom plate as a stop, so the camera won't accidentally slide out of the ball head. Unfortunately,  there's only one stop screw available on the bottom, so the camera can still slide to the other side.

The connection of the two parts is rock solid. No movement what so ever. I just hope that it doesn't wear over time.

While the L-plate is attached to the camera, you can still access all the important parts of the camera.

There is one downside to the L-plate. You cannot use the Fuji wired shutter remote when you have the l-part attached to the bottom plate. But you can always use the Fuji smartphone app to remotely control your camera via a wireless connection.

Posted on August 1, 2014 and filed under Photography, Gear, Review.

Induro BHL1 Ballhead

A couple of years ago I bought the Arca-Swiss Z1 Monoball (with flip-lock) to support my Nikon D300 with several lenses. An excellent ballhead which would last you a life time (that's what I said at the time). And that statement is still valid, IF I was still shooting with (large) DSLR's. In the mean time I sold my DSLR and went for something a bit more compact with the Fujifilm X-T1.

Scaling down on the camera part means that I can also scale down the accessories. A smaller and lighter camera doesn't need a beast like the Arca-Swiss Z1 Monoball for tripod support. Something smaller and lighter (and cheaper) would also suffice.

Induro Ballhead BHL1

Looking around on the Internet I ran into the Induro brand. They make tripods, monopods, and (ball)heads. The one I got is their smallerst BHL ballhead (BHL1).

It's relatively small (compared to the Arca), and about 200grams lighter, while it's still capable of bearing a 20kg load. Not that my current gear comes even near that weight.

It also has the main features of the Arca-Swiss Monoball. Nice bog knobs, with variable friction setting. It also comes with a all-round camera plate (PU60), and a nice bubble-level. The latter is kinda small, so I don't know if it's very usable in the field.

I use the included PU60 plate on my Nikon P7000 P&S camera if necessary. The Wimberley P-5 is my preferred plate under my M9. The Fuji X-T1 is using a Really Right Stuff L-Plate (BXT1). I tested the PU60 on my M9, but even with the rubbery pads on the plate, I could still easily rotate the plate under the camera. This doesn't happen when I use the Wimberley P-5 plate.

This shouldn't be a problem in everyday use, but when you want to do some long-exposures, you don't want the camera to move around the plate itself.

The following photos might give you some idea of the ball head with the included PU60 plate.

The tension on the ball is adjustable (by the 'wheel' in the large knob. It allows you to maintain movement of the ball head, but when you let go of the camera, it stays in the position when you let go. The adjustment can be done with the tip of your finger. If that is hard, you can also use a small coin (or screwdriver) to adjust the friction setting.

It also features a locking mechanism that makes sure that you don't accidentally 'loose' the camera when moving around. This might happen when you loosen the plate. One condition is that the plate attached to the camera has 'stop screws' on the bottom. If these are present, you need to pull and turn the release knob. After that you can safely remove the camera from the ball head.

Posted on August 1, 2014 and filed under Gear, Photography, Review.

Fujifilm X-T1 Review

My interest in Fujifilm camera's was rekindled when they released the X-Pro1. When they announced and released the X-T1 this year I had to have one. Why, because it had everything that my old Nikon D300 doesn't have;

  • Lighter
  • Smaller
  • More Mpix (16 versus 12)
  • Lighter quality lenses
  • Capable of mounting Leica and Nikon lenses (through the use of third party adapters).
  • Tilt-screen
  • Electronic View Finder (EVF)

So my Nikon gear went on sale, and the X-T1 with the Fujinon 18-55mm 1:2.8-4 R LM OIS kitlens found a way into my camera bag, and I skipped the Sony A7(r).

Posted on March 28, 2014 and filed under Gear, Photography, Review.

Kobo Glo Illuminated Screen

The Kobo and Sony e-reader both have excellent e-ink displays. No difference on that front. The biggest difference is the fact that the Kobo Glo has a build in light.  This makes it possible to read in the dark. The following images show the difference of the screen compared to the Sony PRS-T2 with the following Kobo Glo lights settings;

  • No Light
  • Minimal Light (1%) 
  • 50% Light
  • 100% Light

The photos were shot with an iPhone under poor light circumstances. 

I have no problem with reading in the dark (pitch black) with the minimal light setting (1%). Just throw in more light if you need/want more contrast when reading in the dark.

Posted on July 26, 2013 and filed under Tips'n Tricks, Review, Gear.

Peugeot 508 Hybrid4 Review

In January of this year I learned that the taxation on lease cars would change in Juli of 2012 (taxation based on the car pollution / emission gasses). This could mean that certain types of cars would be (way) more expensive if you leased them. Since my current lease contract at the time would expire in May, I wanted to make sure that I could lease a new car under the 'old' tax rules for lease cars.

My old (lease)car was a Honda Civic 1.8 Executive (with all the bells and whistles) which I loved very much. The car was relatively small, and drove like a dream (compared to my earlier cars). Unfortunately, the Civic was no longer an option, so I was in the market for a new (and preferably) cheaper lease car.

Posted on June 1, 2012 and filed under Review.

A (slightly biased) review of the Samsung Galaxy S2 Phone

My employer decided to give its employees new smartphones. Mostly because we've been begging for them the last couple of years. Unfortunately, not the one(s) we (or perhaps I) have been asking for.

In my line of work I come across customers with wireless networks that need (some sort of) security in place. The only real question I get during those projects is; "Will it work with an iPhone or an iPad?" In my entire career, I haven't had a single question of that kind regarding Android or Windows Mobile phones.... There's no denying it; the iOS devices from Apple are huge. Even in the corporate market.

So, no corporate iOS device for me. Instead, they shipped the Samsung Galaxy S2 (listed as iPhone look-a-like) to me.

Posted on November 28, 2011 and filed under Hardware, Review, iPhone.

Billingham Hadley Small Review

After I bought the Leica M9, I was in the market to get a new camera bag for the M9. The bag had to be small, versatile, and not scream '(expensive) PHOTO GEAR HERE!!!!'. Since I owned a Billingham bag before, my eye quickly fell on the smaller Billingham bags. Especially the Hadley Small looked very appealing. After checking the internal and external dimensions on the website I purchased the bag (Black FybreNite version) through Robert White in the UK. They had the bag in stock, and it was cheaper (with shipping included) than ordering it in the Netherlands. I also included the SP50 Shoulderpad, for additional comfort.

Posted on November 14, 2011 and filed under Gear, Photography, Review.