The SK Hynix Gold S31 Surprised Us in Capture One

Essentials is a series featuring products we’re currently lusting over in quick, easy to digest posts.

Modern cameras are becoming more powerful with every new release. While this is fantastic news, it can also create problems. One such issue is the ever-growing size of both RAW and JPEG files. Long gone are the days of 10Mb files. Now, we routinely deal with file sizes in the 60Mb or higher range. Owning gear that can handle and store such large files is now something that has to be considered more carefully. Thankfully, you can buy high capacity, speedy SSD’s without destroying your bank account. We were sent the SK Hynix Gold S31 SSD, and have been putting it through real-world tests. Will the SK Hynix Gold S31 SSD help you generate a more efficient workflow? Find out in our quick review.

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A Constant Light That’s Built Like A Tank: The LitraPro LED Light Review

Photographers in search of a constant light that is well built and waterproof will want to check out LitraPro. Just make sure you’ve got deep pockets.

Beginner photographers are often intimated by stroboscopic flash. As a result, those just getting their feet wet with photographic lighting often look to constant lighting as an alternative. Consequently, we’ve seen plenty of LED constant lighting options come to market in recent years. Their overall quality has improved as well. The LitraPro is one such example. It combines a waterproof aluminum housing with a maximum light output of 1,200 lumens and the ability to use a variety of light modifiers. That all sounds great on paper, but is the LitraPro up to the task under real world conditions? Find out in our full review.

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They Finally Got It Right! Holdfast Gear Vegan Money Maker Strap Review

The Holdfast Gear Vegan Money Maker is oddly enough their best camera strap yet.

I’ve never really adored many vegan leather products, but the Holdfast Gear Vegan Money Maker is changing my mind. A staple amongst the wedding and event photography community, this camera strap is their softest and most comfortable option yet. Most vegan leather I’ve used tended to be rigid, tough, and sort of weird. But the Holdfast Gear Vegan Money Maker isn’t like that at all. I’ve been very used to their Money Maker straps cutting into my shirt or skin. The exception is their canvas option, and now the Holdfast Gear Vegan Money Maker is my favorite. Not only is this the best vegan leather camera strap I’ve used, but it’s something I may consider using more often.

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For Your Next Adventure: ProMaster SP528K Tripod Review

The ProMaster SP528K Tripod kit is exactly what most serious photographers need.

Fact: the staff of The Phoblographer is always on the lookout for new tripods. We use them a lot when we’re testing gear. And because of how much abuse we put them through, we tend to break them. None are created equal. In our discoveries for the perfect tripod, we were introduced to the ProMaster SP528K. At under $300, this tripod can get really tall – taller than I am. But the best part about it is the ball head. It’s capable of doing things that much more expensive heads do. It’s not perfect, but at the price point, I’m not sure anything can beat it–and it has us liking a lot of what the ProMaster lineup can do.

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Who Knew Tripods Could Be Cool? The 3 Legged Thing Ray Tripod Is

Essentials is a series featuring products we’re currently lusting over in quick, easy to digest posts.

Tripods are perhaps one accessory we rely on a lot but give little credit to. I mean, they’re just tripods, right? You plant it on the ground, attach your camera, and it just sits there doing its job. But did you know that tripods can be cool as well as functional? We had a chance to test out the new 3 Legged Thing Ray tripod and the new Airhed VU ball head, which are a part of the 3 Legged Thing’s new Legend range of tripods and accessories. The Ray is an ultra-compact carbon fiber tripod that not only looks great but also functions well too, while the Airhed VU is a precision-engineered ball head with a cool viewing panel. Let’s take a quick, closer look after the break.

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No More Screwing Around: Haida M10 Insert Variable ND Filter Review

Tired of screwing variable NDs on and off of your lenses all the time? The Haida M10 Insert Variable ND Filter aims to make that a thing of the past.

When it comes to neutral density filters, variable NDs are favored by many photographers for their versatility. Instead of carrying a bunch of individual ND filters of different strengths, VNDs cover a set ND range that can be adjusted on the fly. However, the way traditional variable NDs are designed (where two rotating rings are essentially conjoined) can sometimes make them a pain to remove. A filter wrench is often required. Haida is looking to change the way photographers use variable NDs. By leveraging their M10 Filter Holder System, photographers no longer have to screw and unscrew filters, VNDs included. The Haida M10 Insert Variable ND Filter works in concert with the company’s own M10 Drop-In Neutral Density and Circular Polarizing Filters. When combined, the M10 Insert VND acts as a multiplier for the M10 Drop-In ND/CPLs’ ND rating. Depending on the amount of light reduction needed, simply swap out the corresponding Drop-In ND/CPL rather than unscrewing a VND and screwing on a stronger one in its place. Sounds great in theory, but how well does the Haida M10 Insert Variable ND Filter work in the real world?

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The Century21 of Camera Straps: Woolnut Leather Camera Strap Review

For photographers wanting to add a splash of style when carrying their cameras, the Woolnut Leather Camera Strap is a handsome option.

Made from a combination of full-grain, vegetable-tanned Scandinavian leather, natural German wool felt, and metal accents, the Woolnut Leather Camera Strap is a definite upgrade over bundled branded camera straps. When it comes to straps, some photographers treat them as a style statement, while others are perfectly content using the branded one that came bundled with their camera. Some photographers tend to prefer lower profile alternatives like wrist straps or carrying clips. Having used the Woolnut Leather Camera Strap for the better part of the last few months with several cameras and lenses, it certainly falls under the style statement category. It’s nicely padded, and even when carrying heavier cameras and lenses, this padding keeps the Woolnut Leather Camera Strap comfortable.

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Get Low. Lower. Even Lower. The Gitzo Mini Traveler Tripod Review

When you need to get your camera really low to the ground, the Gitzo Mini Traveler Tripod is a sturdy but pricey option.

Tripods are a particularly useful tool when taking long-exposure photographs or working with extreme angles, and Gitzo’s Mini Traveler is no exception. Its compact design is its most significant selling point. The lighter and smaller a piece of gear is, the more likely it is that you will bring it with you. Another thing to consider is that many public places now require permits to use a tripod. Some locations have even banned them outright. The small form factor of the Gitzo Mini Traveler tripod helps you remain inconspicuous, allowing you to capture the image you envision. We’ve been testing one out for the last few months: find out how it fared in real-world use after the jump.

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Give Your Images Some Flare With The Lensbaby OMNI Flare Expansion

If you love the way lens flares lend a cinematic look to images, then you’ll want to check out the Lensbaby OMNI Creative System’s Flare Expansion Pack.

The folks over at Lensbaby are releasing yet another expansion pack to their awesome OMNI Creative Filter System today. The Flare Expansion Pack is the third expansion that Lensbaby has released for its unique OMNI Creative Filter System so far. Consisting of four brand new glass Effect Wands, the Flare Expansion Pack is designed to give photographers the ability to easily introduce unique flare effects to their images in-camera. We got to spend some time with the Flare Expansion Pack prior to the public release. Head on after the jump for details on the OMNI Flare Expansion Pack along with a sample gallery of images we created using the new Flare Effect Wands.

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Lust Materialized: Vi Vante Tiger Lambskin Camera Strap Review

The Vi Vante Tiger Lambskin takes the strength of a braided leather strap and makes it slimmer.

Lamb: besides being my favorite meat it’s also fantastic to know that it’s the leather used in the Vi Vante Tiger Lambskin camera strap. I’ve been personally using Vi Vante straps for the better part of a year because they’re honestly some of the best that I’ve ever used. It solves the problems that many photographers have had with lots of leather camera straps. It addresses the strength issue by being a strong, braided strap. It also stays nice and slim while providing this extra strength. And, most of all, it’s comfortable while being durable enough to handle even Panasonic’s S1 camera series.

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They Don’t Just Make Filters Anymore: PolarPro Apex Tripod Review

The PolarPro Apex Tripod lets you mount your camera really low off of stable surfaces and makes shooting from unique vantage points possible.

Up until recently, PolarPro was known primarily as a manufacturer of photographic filters. That all changes today with the introduction of PolarPro’s Apex Tripod and Apex Tripod Base. Both are members of the company’s Quick-Release Modular System of camera accessories. Designed with interoperability in mind, they are joined by the Belay Camera Straps and the Traverse Camera Harness. The Apex Tripod is a low profile mini tripod designed to work in just about any traversable terrain. As long as there’s enough room for you to deploy the Apex, you’ve got a stable platform from which to mount your camera. The folks over at PolarPro kindly sent over the Apex for us to try out ahead of its launch. Check out how it fared in the real world after the jump.

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Minimal by Design, Easy on the Eye: PolarPro Belay Camera Strap Review

The PolarPro Belay camera strap with its QuickDraw plate is both minimalist and almost hassle-free.

Camera straps. They’re an essential accessory that we use all the time, but often these must-haves go unexplored and unrecognized. We at The Phoblographer love camera straps, though, and we always do our best to review as many of them as we can, so, when we were asked if we would like to give the new PolarPro Belay camera strap a try, we jumped at the chance. The Belay is a new strap that is part of a new, more extensive PolarPro system that features QuickDraw plates, which allow you to quickly attach and detach your camera from each accessory, which sounds good, but as they say, the proof is in the pudding. Find out what we thought about the PolarPro Belay camera strap in our full review.

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We Broke Two Lenses with This: PolarPro Traverse Strap Mount Review

The PolarPro Traverse is the weirdest Peak Design Capture Clip competitor that we’ve seen, and we can’t recommend it.

This review has resulted in the most awkward phone call I’ve had in 11 years with a camera manufacturer. Who would’ve thought that the PolarPro Traverse Strap Mount would have broken an Olympus lens? Olympus! The camera manufacturer is probably only rivaled by Pentax and Leica when it comes to the durability of their products. But indeed, the PolarPro Traverse broke an Olympus lens and then also majorly dented the hood of my Voigtlander 17.5mm f0.95 lens. This product is meant to be a Peak Design Capture Clip competitor. And I praise PolarPro for their efforts, especially because we stopped reviewing Peak Design products for ethical concerns. They didn’t include a manual, but instead just a little section of a pamphlet. One would think that it’s supposed to function and be used just like the Peak Design Capture Clip, but one would be wrong–and it turned into one of the most perplexing and stressful reviews that I’ve done in years.

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A New Way to Attach Filters: The H&Y RevoRing Filter System Review

The H&Y RevoRing Filter System is an innovative way to adapt circular filters quickly and easily across a variety of lenses.

Every so often, a product comes along and changes the way we’ve done something. That’s precisely what the H&Y RevoRing Filter System is trying to do with how photographers use Neutral Density and Circular Polarizing filters. For many photographers, ND and CPL filters serve critical roles in their photography workflow. The problem with traditional threaded round lens filters is that they’re limited to a single filter thread. If you’ve got a handful of lenses, each bearing a different filter thread, they would each require their own filter: that can add up to quite a lot of filters very quickly. While filter holder systems alleviate this by allowing you to use one set of filters across a bunch of different lenses, they often require you to juggle a lot of different components. With H&Y’s RevoRing Filter System, the only components you have to manage are the RevoRing itself and the filters you will need. The folks over at H&Y sent us pre-production samples of the RevoRing Filter System to evaluate ahead of its Kickstarter campaign launch. Does it live up to its promise?

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Torture Test: How Will a Protective Lens Filter Affect Image Quality?

Photographers have long debated the effectiveness of a protective lens filter. But what happens when you use one that is already damaged?

At one point, it was common for photographers to slap UV filters on their lenses to reduce haze in their images. While some photographers still swear by UV filters today, they’re primarily used for protection rather than reducing UV transmittance. Today’s digital sensors are significantly less sensitive to ultraviolet light than film emulsions were. As a result, UV haze is much less of an issue when shooting digitally. Nowadays, photographers typically use UV or clear filters as a protective barrier for their front lens elements. Another point of contention is that these so-called protection filters negatively impact image quality. We’ve previously covered situations where UV filters could come in handy, but let’s find out what happens if you were to use a protective filter that’s damaged?

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Print Your Landscapes: Red River Palo Duro Baryta Fiber Paper Review

With Red River Palo Duro Baryta Fiber Paper, the details in your photos will pop.

I’ve always admired how Red River created good paper at an affordable price point, but the Red River Palo Duro Baryta Fiber paper had me scratching my head despite the great details it rendered. The best way to describe it involves thinking a bit like watching an old school movie or even a more recent one shot on film. When you watch a beautiful movie shot on 70mm these days, you see specks and grain. That’s how Red River Palo Duro renders despite having a whole lot of detail. Why does it do this? To be honest, it beats the hell out of me. And even now I’m not sure I like it. But I respect the fact that it’s so different than anything else out there. The paper is said to mimic the look and feel of one of Ansel Adams’ favorites.

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Designed for a Street Photographer: CosySpeed QUICK SALLY Review

The CosySpeed QUICK SALLY One-Hand Wrist Strap is a strap that gave me anxiety at first. But that changed later on.

When the CosySpeed QUICK SALLY came in, I had a few doubts only because of the magnet that’s built into it. Magnets aren’t good for digital cameras, but they aren’t too terrible for film cameras. Though it serves a function when using the rest of the Cosyspeed lineup of bags, some situations require more than what the Street-o-Matic or others offer to me. Most of the time, I need a backpack. And sometimes, you want both the comfort and durability that the CosySpeed QUICK SALLY allows you. Indeed, while I initially had my doubts about the strap, I was proven wrong with repeated use. 

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Who Needs Hotkeys Anyway? The Loupedeck Creative Tool Reviewed

The Loupedeck Creative Tool allows for custom workflows for all of your photo editing and content creation needs.

The Loupedeck Creative Tool promises to make editing easier and more intuitive. This builds upon the foundation first introduced with the Loupedeck and Loupedeck+. Given our lukewarm reception of previous offerings, we were skeptical when the folks at Loupedeck sent their new Creative Tool for review. While you were able to streamline your post-processing workflow using the Loupedeck and Loupedeck+, support for applications outside of Lightroom Classic never lived up to expectations. Instead of a plasticky keyboard-like input device, the folks at Loupedeck have designed a brand new device from the ground up. The Loupedeck CT features two customizable touchscreens with haptic feedback, a wealth of customizable buttons, and plenty of anodized aluminum touchpoints. Judging from looks alone, the Loupedeck CT already appears to be a huge leap forward. They’ve nailed the form part for sure, but the true test lies in the CT’s function. Has the Loupedeck finally nailed it with the Creative Tool?

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Give It Time: The Holdfast Gear HF Classic Strap Wide Review

The Holdfast Gear HF Classic Strap perplexed me at first, but then I figured it out, and it just got better.

To say that there isn’t a learning curve with the Holdfast Gear HF Classic Strap is a lie. And to say that it won’t frustrate you at first is another lie. But what starts like a lion turns into a lamb. With time, the corn mash juices of the Holdfast Gear HF Classic Strap turn into a fine bourbon that you’ll enjoy spending time with. This strap is designed to work for any photographer that wants it, but it’s also got appeal to for a photographer using the rest of the Holdfast system. Like all things Holdfast, you’re getting ruggedness, harnesses, leather, etc. Made with buffalo leather and designed with some of the best hardware I’ve ever tested, the Holdfast Gear HF Classic Strap addresses a big problem that folks have: the metal hardware of their straps wears away at the camera. While some may embrace the patina, others treat their cameras like children. Now, Holdfast has a solution, but that solution is also the trickiest part of the strap.

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Le Sigh de Photo: Odake BladeX Pro Portable External 4K Monitor Review

Photographers sick of working on tiny laptop screens will appreciate the extra real estate of the Odake BladeX Pro Portable External 4K Monitor.

One of the common dilemmas photographers run into when editing images on laptops is that they never seem to have enough screen real estate. On a desktop, you would just replace your display with a larger one, but that’s not possible with laptops. Odake is trying to help alleviate this problem with their BladeX Pro – a portable 15.6″ external 4K monitor. The BladeX Pro’s Indiegogo campaign was just fully funded, and we got to check out a pre-production sample to see if it lives up to the task.

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Fun at Home for $60: The Lensbaby OMNI Color Expansion Pack Review

The Color Expansion Pack for Lensbaby’s OMNI Creative Filter System gives you even more variety when creating in-camera effects and light distortions.

When we reviewed the Lensbaby OMNI Creative Filter System last year, we loved the in-camera effects we were able to achieve, and found its magnetic attachment system to be innovative. One thing we had hoped to see Lensbaby introduce down the line was the ability for users to make their own custom effect wands. The Color Expansion Pack is a collection of additional Effect Wands, Diffraction Films, and Colored Gels designed to work with the OMNI Creative Filter System. While the Color Expansion Pack doesn’t quite allow for the full customization we hoped for, it certainly hints at what’s possible.

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