This one is an unabashed, shameless, Gear Is Good but Vision Is Better post. You’ve been warned.
There have been a lot of quiet, but enthusiastic ripples about the new Elinchrom Ranger Quadra system, and I finally caved in. I called B&H and talked it through, then placed my order. I’d been tempted before Photoshop World and then I got to play with them, hold them in my hot little hands, and they amazed me. The picture above doesn’t give any sense of scale, but this is a tiny (no, I mean, really tiny) system. The battery and pack is about 8inches tall and weighs 3kgs, or just over 6.5lbs. The head fits in my hand and cranks out 400w seconds – which means it’s WAY more powerful than my Canon 58Os. And with built-in Skyport it’s ready to use wirelessly very quickly. Am I excited about this? Absolutely. Why? Because one of the reasons I don’t do as much work with my Canon flashes as I’d like is that – excuse my language – I find them to be a right pain in the ass. I’m still wrestling with my new Pocket Wizards, which work well when they work. And I find, after brief experiments with it, that the ETT-L stuff is more work than it’s worth. I would actually take a small unit like this on assignment where larger kits are just too large, heavy, and prohibitive.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the Strobist movement, and in the right setting I like my 580s well enough. But to have more power in such a simple, portable package, with a modelling lamp and built-in Skyport? I’m in love. I’ll let you know just how deep that love goes and if it’s going to last or just be some brief fling powered by gear-lust and infatuation once I’ve had it a while.You can see more info on the Elinchrom Ranger Quadra HERE.
A couple other housekeeping items I wanted to mention and won’t have time later this week.
1. Matt Brandon’s got a 2010 Calendar for sale over at The Digital Trekker. I haven’t had a printed calendar for years but word on the streets is some people still use these nutty contraptions. If you’re one of those people, you don’t have to admit it here, but check out Matt’s calendar HERE.
2. I was contacted recently by a Vancouver-based photographer, Andy Cotton, who has developed a really cool way of carrying your cameras. It’s called the Cotton Carrier and for outdoor lifestyle and adventure photographers I imagine this will have early adoption – it’s pretty darn cool. Other will want to use them but might have to get over the fact that it makes you look like some kind of Commando/Ninja. But it’s super cool. I’ve played with mine, like the idea and the execution a ton and am just looking for a chance to try it out. Seriously, go take a look at the Cotton Carrier HERE.
3. I got my Gura Gear Kiboko bag last week. You know I love my Think Tank bags, but if there’s one bag they don’t make it’s what I’d call an adventure bag. I wanted something for safaris and more rugged adventures, something that still fit into a tiny overhead bin (like the Embraer or Canada Regional Jets) but still be built to take abuse, haul a ton of gear, and – this was the kicker – have an excellent backpack harness that I could see myself carrying heavy loads over tougher terrain. So when I ordered my bag from the maker, Andy Biggs, himself an accomplished photographer and safari guide, I had high hopes. Man were they ever exceeded. I’ll do a review later, probably after my safari in January, but the Kiboko is incredible. Weighs less than 4lbs, carries a mountain of gear, and is clearly made by someone with control issues and an eye for details. Like I said, review to come, but if you’re looking for a great adventure bag, take a good long look at the GuraGear Kiboko bag (pictured below.)
4. Lastly, how in the world has it taken me so long to get turned out to OnOne Software and their suite of plug-ins for Photoshop and Lightroom? I knew they were out there. I glanced at the site. I kept thinking, I really need to look into this more. And I never did. And then at Photoshop World (PSW is an evil temptress) I saw a live demo that convinced me I needed to look at them more closely. I’ve played with the tools on and off since yesterday, so this isn’t a review, just a reaction – this stuff rocks. If you do any commercial works directly for clients, especially wedding or portraits, or you like to get a little more artistic with your work, the OnOne Plug-in Suite has some cool tools – I especially love the Focal Point 1 and Photo Tools 2 plug ins. Anyways, take a look at them – in Lightroom they act as an external editor in conjunction with Photoshop, but it’s pretty seemless – it goes out, you do the adjustment, it returns to Lightroom. Love it. OnOne has free demos and videos of all their stuff – find more info about them HERE.
OK, enough gear-freaking, get out there and shoot something you love.