Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Manfrotto Klyp+ Review

NB: While set in Chicago, this post is #TheShyPhotographer's first post in the Philippines.

When I got the iPhone 5s, I thought long and hard about the type of protection I would give it. I want it to be as simple as possible because I don't want to cover up the beauty of the device.

After much research, I decided on the Manfrotto Klyp+.

The Klyp+ is a nice all-around bumper for the iPhone 5/5s. The sides are covered while the front and back sides surfaces of the phone are prevented from having direct contact with, say, a table. The bumper is a great way of preventing scratches on your precious phone.

Unlike other iPhone protectors though, the Klyp+ still highlights the beauty of the 5/5s. The gold color of the phone is still visible and you can still access the different ports and buttons, especially the new finger print sensor.

However, Manfrotto designed the bumper so that only the official iPhone charging cable and earphones (or something of the same size) will be able to access the charging and earphone ports respectively. I tried using a third-party charging cable but, unfortunately, it wasn't able to clear the small opening.

There is an included tripod mount that also doubles as a stand. This gadget, after all, is made by Manfrotto. You can use this stand/tripod mount on any ¼-inch tripod. This way, you can have blur-free shots and even include yourself in the picture!

A hand strap is also included with the bumper. This makes the iPhone photography experience similar to that of using a point-and-shoot. It also makes sure that your iPhone won’t go tumbling to the ground, or to the river below if you are shooting from a bridge, in case your phone slips. The strap is another layer of protection. Note, though, that the strap will be on the “wrong” side of the phone if you use the “volume up” button to trigger the camera.

However, this is only the beginning of what this nifty iPhone accessory can do.

If you get the separately-sold lenses, then you will be able to raise your iPhone photography to a whole new level.

You get a portrait lens, a wide angle lens, and, my favorite, you get a fish-eye lens. With this set-up, you now have an interchangeable lens set up for the iPhone! You get wider shots, better portraits and lots of fish-eye fun. Below are samples of what you get from the iPhone camera, the fish-eye lens, the wide angle lens and the portrait lens respectively. The only thing changed in-between shots are the lenses. Position of the iPhone, camera-subject distance and camera angle all remained constant.

And it’s so easy to set up. Just screw the lens of your choice and that’s it. You can either use the standard camera app or use the iphone photography app of your own choosing.

Or better yet, get the Klypapp+ made by Manfrotto. With this app, you can make time lapse and stop-motion videos, aside from the standard photo and video captures.

And it still does not stop there!

Another very useful, separately-sold accessory is the LED light. Dubbed Surface Mount (SMT) LED, this constant-light accessory will aid your photography when the sun goes down or when you are in dimly-lit environments. The lamp, mounted to the bumper also, is perfect for portraiture and, most especially, when you do video interviews. And since it’s constant light, you will have a great idea of how your picture will look even before you take the shot.

Want off-camera lighting? Fret not! The LED lamp comes with a detachable base that’s also compatible with a ¼-inch tripod screw. Manfrotto thought of everything!!!

Is there anything I want changed? Well, when you use the iPhone as a phone, you know, to call, then the bumper sticks a little to your ear. I tried talking to the wife in a noisy environment and, in such situations, I push the earpiece of the phone closer. This hurt my ear a little. Another, the fit of my bumper is not perfect: the phone wiggles a little inside the bumper. Also, the opening for the charger and the earphone could be a little bigger so as to accommodate more third party accessories. Oh, and there is a slight vignetting on the corners of the wide-angle and portrait lenses, and i cannot seem to center the fish-eye lens...

However, the protection and expandability brought by the Klyp+ bumper, accessories and the Klypapp+ far outweigh those negatives making the Manfrotto Klyp+ system a must have.

The Manfrotto Klyp+ system is Highly Recommended!

So get yours here:


Gear used to make this post:

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

Friday, January 10, 2014

#TheShyPhotographer is Coming Home

After seven winters, five in Princeton, NJ and two in Chicago, the wife and I are going back to the land of our birth. She's finished her graduate degree, and post doc, in astrophysics and now she feels that it's time to go home.

For myself, it had been quite an adventure also. As a “trailing spouse” of a grad student, I needed something to pass the time.

The first was the Apple ecosystem. I never had a Mac before nor any iPods so, coming to America, I decided that that would be a nice thing to learn and get used to. Coming from Fedora Red Hat, Mac OS X Tiger was a welcome change. And I never looked back. I never missed an upgrade, back from when the OS came from a CD to now where you have to have the Mac App Store to upgrade.

I love everything Apple: the several iPods that I owned, two iPhones, and two MacBook Pros, an iPad - I lived and breathed Apple. Everything just works.

The second thing I discovered, or rather rediscovered, was photography. I shot on film a couple or so decades ago and I loved it. My dad gave me a Yashica SLR (yes, minus the “D”) and a couple of lenses and I fell in love with it. However, film was expensive, so, as a student, I really could not devote to it fully. And, as a teacher, I just did not have the time…

However, I was never without a camera. My first digital camera was a “huge” 2MP Kodak point-and-shoot and I loved the fact that all you need was a “high-capacity” 128MB card to store your pictures in. I was living the life! Eventually, that camera was upgraded also…

When our camera broke after arriving here in the US, the wife and I were wondering if we should get a high-zoom digital camera. Then, I suddenly thought, “Why not an interchangeable lens camera instead?” So after some extensive research, we decided to get a DSLR. It was either a Canon or Nikon… (For some reason, which I can no longer remember, I did not consider a Sony, though it was a Sony point-and-shoot that we were going to replace, not to mention that I love the Sony brand also. Maybe there was no Sony DSLR on display in the store that I checked...)  I decided to get a Canon, not because of the image quality it produces, I know both brands are great, but because I find the top of the DSLR, the one that houses the pentaprism, is sexier on the Canon. The one on the Nikon was more angled, and, for me, I love the curvy shape of Canon.

I attended workshops, Canon events and photoshop lectures. I read books and magazines; I read fashion catalogs, travel magazines and macro photography how-tos. I lived and breathed photography.

I even won a camera kit!

But most importantly, I felt that I have already made it somehow when camera accessory makers trusted me enough to review their products. I always feel happiest when I received a package for a review, whether it be bags, tripos, or straps, even iPhone mounts. I always felt giddy thinking of how I am going to approach the item with a keen eye, how I am going to test it and how I will rate it. Well, so far, everything I have reviewed were highly recommended.

Oh, I also learned how to do videography during the course of these reviews and how to edit them. I learned how to prepare for a scene, do a mini-story board, scout a location and direct a scene. Of course I could not have done all of these without the wife: she's the one who usually shoots the videos.

And the third best thing to happen for me during my stay here in the US is Twitter. I am a shy person (hence #TheShyPhotographer) but Twitter enabled me to open up more. Twitter enabled me to connect to other people on the web. With it, I can exchange ideas, share information and generally just talk to others. I had a blog before I discovered Twitter but with it, my blog got more hits, more readers and more followers. Twitter even defined the direction in which my blog posts are going to go. Twitter essentially molded #TheShyPhotographer.

And so, let me close this by thanking the following:
I don't know what holds for me back home. After being gone for almost eight years, I know things will look very different for me. Aside from family and friends, the first month back might make me feel like a foreigner in my homeland. But I plan to keep my photography going and, hopefully, expand my capabilities some more. And of course, I'll always have Twitter, I'll always have Apple.

I am excited.

Signing off for now…

NB: I still have some unpublished blog posts set here in the US but the next time I post here, #TheShyPhotographer will already be back home in the Philippines.

NB: I'll be posting updates on a more regular basis on the following social media sites:

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

ThinkTank Photo Retrospective 13L

First blog post of the year! And the best way to do this is to out a ThinkTank Photo bag review!

ThinkTank Photo makes great camera bags. And one of my all time favorite is the Retrospective 7, a camera and iPad bag. I like this for so many reasons but the best reasons for me are the capacity of the bag and its anonymity: it doesn't look like a camera bag.

Then, ThinkTank Photo produced the Retrospective 13L, a laptop bag. Yes, there are no camera compartments on this one. Just a plain, old laptop bag. But, as with all ThinkTank Photo bags, this ones a beaut!

The bag that I have fits a 13-inch MacBook Pro. But, it has plenty more room for other stuff, like a mouse, the laptop charger, and, but not limited to, a point-and-shoot camera. There is a front pocket where you can put an iPad, pens and some magazines. Of course, you don't need to have a laptop with you to enjoy this bag. You can use the laptop compartment for books and magazines, making this a great bag on campus or in the office.

At the back of the bag is a zippered pocket. Here, I was able to put a full-sized iPad also. However, you should exercise some caution when putting your iPad here for the pocket has no thick padding.

If there is one thing I can suggest, I wish that there is a dedicated, padded compartment for an iPad, like the one found in the ThinkTank Photo Airport Essential. I believe that, at this point in time, it is no longer inconceivable for a person to have a laptop and a tablet.

The back of the bag has a smooth cloth that will reduce the wear that your clothes might have whenever the two rub against each other. It was so nice of the designers in ThinkTank Photo to think about what we wear. :)

The wife and I visited the Chicago Public Library on The Loop while doing this review. One of the best thing about this bag especially in such a place is the silencer: with the hook-and-loop tapes on the "silent" position, the bag didn't produce any sound whenever I opened the front flap. This is a great feature to have whenever you desire silence not just in a library, but also, say, when you are in a meeting.

After the library, the wife and I went to the Art Institute of Chicago. As in all museums, if you have a backpack or a large bag, the museum people would want to have your bag deposited. However, the slim profile of the 13L means that you can bring your bag inside the museum. I prefer this because I would like to have my precious gadgets with me at all times.

And of course, being in the same line as the Retrospective Series, this bag has one of the best paddings out there. And when the weather turns nasty, the bag comes with an all-weather cover.

So what can more can I say about this bag? Well, if you don't need the camera compartment that came with the other great Think Tank Photo bags, then consider getting the 13L. This bag, just like the paintings that I viewed inside the museum, is a classic!

The ThinkTank Photo Retrospective 13L is Highly Recommended!

Special thanks to Brian Erwin of Think Tank Photo for providing the bag.

Special thanks to the photographer-wife for braving the sub-sub-freezing temperatures when we did the shoot.

#TheShyPhotographer's note: When we did the review, the wife and I were wondering why we were having such an unusually cold spell: we felt it was not normal to have daytime temperatures in the low teens. Then we had this Polar Vortex! We had a -14F temperature with a real-feel in the -30s! Now we can't wait to just be in the positive temperature zone...

Gear used to make this post:

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


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