Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays from the Windy City!

From the wife and I. And have a safe New Year! Cheers!!!

Happy Holidays!

See you in 2013!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Review of the Lowepro Photo Hatchback 22L AW

I've often said that the Lowepro Versapack 200AW is my all time favorite bag (blogposts here and here). However, that bag, because of the constant use, has seen some wear: some loose threads, straps starting to thin... So I thought it was time to find a worthy successor, if ever there is one.

And I think I have found it in the Lowepro Photo Hatchback 22L AW.

This is a nice bag. I chose the red one because the only bags I've ever had were either black or black and grey (except for the Lowepro Flipside Sport which I reviewed here) - I wanted something that had a little flair!

I'll just say what I always say about all the Lowepro bags that I have reviewed: the bag is great, nicely constructed and made up of beautiful materials. Really, you can never go wrong with any Lowepro bags. And this one bag in particular is a beaut.

So how does this bag compare and differ from the Versapack?

For starters, both the Versapack and the Photo Hatchback have the camera compartment at the bottom, while the top compartment is reserved for your personal stuff. Well, you can also put some camera gear there if you so choose. For both bags, the partition can be removed and you can use the bag as an ordinary backpack.

However, the big difference here is, for the Photo Hatchback, you don't necessarily have to give up the camera compartment even if you remove the divider in the hatchback. You see, the camera compartment is really a bag on its own and you can still stick it in the bag, or any other bag, and still not have to worry about your precious camera gear.

There is a compartment in the hatchback that can be used to stow a tablet or an 11-inch Macbook Air. Yes, you can do the same in the Versapack but, for this bag, there really is no protection because it was not really meant to hold a computer - a book perhaps, or magazines, but an iPad or a Macbook Air, well, you have to be really, extremely careful...

Another plus for the Hatchback over the Versapack? There are pockets on the side of the Hatchback where you can put a water bottle or another photography accessory - or both, one for each pocket!

Oh, and there is an all-weather cover just in case you get caught up in some drizzle! For both bags, that is.

However, there is one aspect that the Versapack one-ups the Hatchback: you can actually remove the dividers inside the Versapack and roll it down to something smaller: this is ideal if you want to bring an extra camera bag in your luggage.

Oh, and the major difference between the two bags in terms of gear access? You can configure the Versapack so you can access your camera from the side of the bag, either side. For the Hatchback, you can only get your camera from the body-side - this is more secure but, of course, it will need more effort to get, and put back, your camera gear.

So, has the Hatchback dethroned the Versapack? Yes and no... At least not yet.

I will still use the Versapack until time it can no longer hold my gear. But when time the Versapack gives up the throne of being my all-time favorite, the Hatchback will be a worthy replacement. I only wish that there is no large "Lowepro" sign at the front...

And see how it "performed" when I took it to the Christkindlemarket at the Daley Plaza in Downtown Chicago. I must say the the slim profile enabled me to sliver through the many people that wanted to enjoy the Holiday cheer in that place; I was even able to "fight" through the throngs of people that wanted the spiced wine served in a boot. Yep, the slim profile of the bag will enable you to walk the busy city streets. And your gear is also very much secured.

The wife didn't want the spiced wine, just the hot chocolate, so I had to queue again. The Photo Hatchback wasn't a problem the second time around.

This lovely couple got curious on why the wife was photographing me from so many different angles. So, I told them that I am reviewing the bag. The very nice lady said that the bag is beautiful. I heartily agreed!

And here are some more pictures of the bag. In the Daley Plaza, at the Christkindlemarket, under the Picasso.

So, still thinking about buying the photographer in your life, or buying for yourself, a Holiday gift? Consider the Lowepro Photo Hatchback AW. I'm sure s/he will like it. And get the "pepper red" color so that it will be in line with the jolly feelings of the season! Oh, and if you feel it's already too late to order this for Christmas, then this bag will be a perfect thing to have to welcome the New Year!

This bag is Highly Recommended!

So get yours here:

Special thanks to the wife for helping me with the review!

Gear used to make this post:

-- Canon Powershot G15 (Reviews Part 1 and Part 2)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Mochi-tsuki Festival at the Midwest Buddhist Temple

The wife and I visited a local Buddhist Temple, the Midwest Buddhist Temple, in Old Town. The purpose of the visit? To watch how mochi is made traditionally.

Turns out the traditional way of making mochi is a community activity and people did indeed participate in pounding the cooked rice that eventually became the mochi. Then, when the individual rice grains are no longer seen, the filling was placed inside by another group of people.

Check out the animated GIFs which I made from this adventure.




It was a fun experience and the mochi made were also sold so we got to buy some for the trip home. :)

Gear used to make this post:

-- Canon Powershot G15 (Reviews Part 1 and Part 2)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Never Neglect the Littlest Accessory - The Think Tank Photo DSLR Battery Holder 2

These are, in my opinion, the things you should purchase right after the purchase of a DSLR (or even a compact camera):

But another thing that you should very much consider, after purchasing some or all of these, is the organization of such stuff - you should not just throw things inside your bag because that would make things harder to find, especially when you're pressed for time. Also, you should not throw things in your bag carelessly because, though I think it's highly unlikely, the battery terminals may touch another piece of metal and that may short your battery out.

So, in order to better organize your batteries, consider the Think Tank Photo DSLR Battery Holder 2 - the "2" stands for the number of batteries that can be housed inside this very useful accessory.

The only thing you need to worry about this accessory is how to differentiate the unused battery to the discharged one. For me, if a battery is fully charged, then I let the brand name show. If a battery is used, then I let the terminals be front-and-center. So to speak...

If you haven't gotten a Holiday present for yourself, or if you are considering a gift for the photographer in your life, then this item would be a very useful but inexpensive gift. I'm sure s/he will love it.

(There is a version, also, that can house 4 extra batteries.)

So get yours here!


Note: As of this writing, the photo for the "2" is whacked... I already sent a message saying that the photo is wrong, so I hope that they rectify the situation right away. But don't worry, the link will take you to the correct item.

Gear used to make this post:

-- Canon Powershot G15 (reviews Part 1 and Part 2)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Never Neglect the Littlest Accessory - The Crumpler Noose

I absolutely love my BlackRapid RS-Sport-2 Slim (review) and Joby 3-Way Camera Strap (review). The freedom from the stock camera strap that came with the camera body is something that I always try to enjoy.

However, there are times when my favorite straps are not very practical: these are the times when I use a tripod.

Previously, when I needed to use a tripod, like when I shoot fireworks, I would have removed the FastenR from the tripod socket, then I would re-attach the stock neck strap. It's a very clunky setup because I would have to bring both the BlackRapid and the stock neck strap. And it was also an impractical set up because I would have to constantly remove and attach things depending on what I was trying to shoot! (Imagine shooting fireworks, then you are called inside to take someone's photos then you go back outside to shoot more fireworks.)

You may suggest that I just do away with the strap all together. However, I do not like this. I do not want my camera to be, say, 15 stories up, wind blowing, while I take photographs of fireworks and no strap for me to hold on to. I could hold the tripod but any movement I create will disturb my shots. With a strap, as long as you keep it slack while holding it, your shots won't, more or less, be disturbed.

Enter the Crumpler Noose.

This is a half-strap. You connect it to one of the strap mounts in your camera. The other end, you loop into your shooting hand. With this set up, the tripod screw mount is still free, for those times when you need to shoot with a tripod. It's so simple!

It's so simple that I am quite surprised that only Crumpler makes these. Or at least, Crumpler is the only brand I've seen with this kind of strap... Oh, there is pocket for an SD-card, though that is not as important for me.

So, when I don't need a tripod, which is about 90% of my photography, then I will use either the BlackRapid or the Joby 3-Way strap. But for the other 10%, I'm gonna use the Crumpler Noose.

So get yours here!

Gear used to make this post:

-- Apple iPhone4.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Review of the BlackRapid SnapR 20

So you got a Canon Powershot G15. Now you need some protection for it...

Now, if you look at the right column of my blog, you will find some of the most visited entries here. And the most popular of them all is my review of the BlackRapid SnapR.

I first had this particular bag last December, 2010. And two years later, it is still one of the best bag for your Canon G-something Powershot. You know why? Because the two just fit!

The main difference this time is BlackRapid rebranded the bag as the SnapR 20. This is because the company now has 3 kinds of bags: the 10, 20 and 35. (I reviewed the BlackRapid SnapR 10 here.)

The package is still composed of the bag, the main strap, the loop-buckle strap, the hand strap and the FastenR - the FastenR is the one you connect to the tripod screw mount. There are also a couple of Velcros which you use to secure the buckles in place. Oh, slight difference, the SnapR of two years ago came with three Velcro straps...

There are two pockets on either side of the bag where you could put an extra battery, a spare memory card and even your (pre-iPhone 5) iPhone.

With the FastenR in place, all you have to do is loop the loop-buckle strap to it. Then, you either buckle the loop-buckle strap to the main strap or to the provided hand strap.

After that, you're all set.

You can go about your walk, and when inspiration hits, then your camera is readily available. And don't worry if your camera suddenly slipped from your hands - the SnapR will prevent your precious gear from spilling to the ground. Trust me, this happened with me and my precious G15 (ooh... the wife will give it to me when she reads this...)

But there is another way of using the mini-strap - you can attach it directly to the camera, though you might need to use some brute strength to do so... You see, the Canon G15's strap mount is barely big enough to let the loop of the mini-strap in; and when I say barely, I mean you have to really force the loop in!

Now, why do I prefer this? As much as possible, I'd like to have the tripod screw mount free - when I use a tripod, I still would like to have a strap so that my camera won't be completely "naked". So, what I did before was use the BlackRapid strap when I'm on the go, then attach the Canon-branded strap, the one that came with the camera, when I'm tethered to a tripod. This is not a very ideal set up!

So, with the mini-strap attached directly to the camera, I can have my camera mounted to a tripod and still have the strap - win-win! When I'm done shooting, the camera goes directly back to the bag; and yes, I still have the option of buckling the mini strap to the main strap of the bag.

Oh, and if you're thinking of removing the loop from the G15, fuhgeddaboudit!!! Once it's there, leave it there!

The BlackRapid SnapR 20 is a gorgeous bag and fits the Canon Powershot G15 perfectly.

The Shy Photographer rates it Highly Recommended!

So get yours here!

Special thanks go to K. Francesca Lukjanowicz of BlackRapid for providing the bag. Much obliged!

Special thanks go to the wife, too, for taking my photos while I was reviewing the bag. These shots were made at the Really Big Halloween Party at the Navy Pier.

My reviews of the Canon Powershot G15 are found here and here.

Gear used to make this post:


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