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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Can Your Hard Drive Survive Water? LaCie Rugged Boss SSD Review

For photographers in need of a mobile backup solution without having to haul a laptop around, the LaCie Rugged Boss SSD may be the right option for you.

The LaCie Rugged Boss SSD was designed for photographers that are constantly on the go. It lets you backup, review, and manage your raw files without needing your laptop. Some of us bring our laptops with us wherever we go, but now photographers with smaller camera bags don’t need to. That’s appealing to shooting street, documentary, or travel work where you want a low profile. We’ve been impressed with LaCie’s other solid-state storage solutions for quite some time, but how well does the LaCie Rugged Boss SSD stack up during real-world use?

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Not Bad for a Content Creator: The Drobo 8D Review

The Drobo 8D is a pretty good option for the photographer or content creator who needs to have their photos, videos, and more always backed up.

My move to the Drobo 8D came after a number of LaCie drives had failed on me and caused a ton of headaches with our standard content production. Admittedly, I’ve never used something like the Drobo 8D before, though I’ve been aware of their benefits. For years, my LaCie drives had never failed on me. But then three failed within a period of half a year. Frustration finally made me move to a RAID. New photographers and content creators may not truly understand the need for one. Indeed, I was a photographer who said, “This would never happen to me.” In my defense, I’ve been a photographer who mostly worked from a laptop for the majority of my career; portable hard drives always made more sense. Most of the stuff I do goes online into the Phoblographer’s Media Library. But, there are times when I need to access other things, and the Drobo 8D has proven to be pretty great at keeping all my data secured and backed up when I’m home. Of course when I’m traveling, it’s not going with me.

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Review: Haida Red-Diamond 3 Stop Soft-Edge Graduated ND Filter

Landscape photographers on the market for a reliable graduated ND filter should check out Haida’s Red-Diamond 3 Stop Soft-Edge Graduated ND Filter

When photographing long exposure landscapes, a common challenge many photographers encounter is the drastic difference between the amount of light in the sky and below the horizon. This is where filters like the Haida Red-Diamond 3 Stop Soft-Edge Graduated ND Filter come in handy. Soft, graduated neutral density filters allow you to expose for the darker areas of your frame without blowing out what’s in the sky.

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Review: Haida Red-Diamond 10 Stop ND 100x100mm Filter

Photographers shooting long exposures in brightly lit conditions will want to check out the Haida Red-Diamond 10 Stop ND 100x100mm Filter.

We’ve been testing the Haida 10 Stop Red-Diamond ND 100x100mm Filters (3.0/1000x Density) alongside their M10 Filter Holder System. Neutral Density filters are great for architectural, landscape, and travel photography, especially when shooting long exposures during daylight hours. ND filters help to prevent your images from being totally blown out when shooting long exposures in brightly lit conditions. They essentially serve as sunglasses for your cameras, helping to cut down the amount of light that reaches your camera sensor.

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Review: Haida M10 Filter Holder System (A Quick & Modular Solution)

The Haida M10 Filter Holder System is a modular way for photographers to quickly and easily attach/detach and swap in a variety of different filters

During last year’s PhotoPlus Expo, we were introduced to Chinese filter manufacturer Haida and their brand new M10 Filter Holder System. Neutral density filters play an integral role for photographers particularly specializing in landscape, architecture, and travel photography. If you find yourself shooting with a variety of different lenses regularly, chances are most of these lenses will have different filter threads. ND filters aren’t cheap, and buying filters in multiple densities for various threads can put a huge dent in your wallet very quickly. Filter systems like the Haida M10 system are a much more cost-efficient way to go, allowing you to adapt a set of filters across a variety of filter threads.

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Peripheral Review: LaCie Rugged SSD Pro (This Thing Is a Speed Demon!)

Photographers on the go who need of hyper-fast, darn tough external storage will want to consider the LaCie Rugged SSD Pro.

When the LaCie Rugged SSD Pro arrived for review, our expectations for the Thunderbolt 3 equipped external SSD were high. We previously reviewed LaCie’s non-pro version of the Rugged SSD (which utilizes USB-C rather than Thunderbolt 3) and were impressed by its performance and durability. Thunderbolt 3 has four times the maximum throughput of USB-C (40 Gbps vs 10 Gbps), so it stands to reason that the performance gains of the LaCie Rugged SSD Pro over its non-pro counterpart would be significant. Does the addition of Thunderbolt 3 justify the US $100 MSRP premium though?

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Peripheral Review: LaCie Rugged SSD (For Photographers On The Go)

The LaCie Rugged SSD is a speedy and robust portable option for photographers on the go in need of fast and reliable external storage

When LaCie sent over their Rugged SSD for us to test out, the opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time. As a photographer that’s constantly traveling from one assignment to the next, I spend as much time working remotely on location (if not more so) than I do working from my office. Thanks to their speedy performance, Solid State Drives have become an invaluable part of my on-location workflow, which involves my having to juggle tons of mission-critical client files. Importing, managing, and backing up thousands of raw and finished images along with plenty of Capture One sessions to boot can take a long time, so every second saved goes a long way.

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Monitor Review: BenQ SW270C 27 Inch Monitor for Photographers

The BenQ SW270C Photo Editing Monitor is an affordable option that combines accurate color reproduction and large screen real estate.

For a long time, photographers that do high-end printing or those working with images that have to accurately reproduce colors (such as product, fashion, or beauty photography for example) had to shell out serious moolah for professional-grade color-accurate monitors from companies like Eizo. These monitors are often prohibitively expensive, with price tags that easily rivaled the cost of some flagship camera bodies on the market.

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Review: MOAB Entrada 300 (The Darling of Black and White Photography)

MOAB Entrada 300 makes black and white photos look great.

Printing is still a large part of running the Phoblographer, and MOAB Entrada 300 is a fascinating paper to us in many ways. Most matte papers we test have some sort of texture to them, but MOAB Entrada 300 is an oddity in this way as it is a smooth matte paper. The result is a loss of detail when compared to something like a luster or a glossy print. MOAB Entrada 300 instead has the look of something almost like Red River Palo Duro papers, which are designed to emulate the look of the darkroom. In this case, MOAB Entrada 300 is for a photographer who really liked black and white. More importantly, it’s for the person printing an image who doesn’t know where they want to place it. To that end, it’s excellent for displaying it anywhere in your home.

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Review: Vi Vante Bengal Unleashed Lambskin Leather Camera Wrist Strap

The Vi Vante Bengal Unleashed Lambskin Leather Camera Wrist Strap is a stylish option that’s soft to the touch and incredibly practical.

For fashion-forward photographers in search of a new wrist strap for their cameras, Vi Vante’s Bengal Unleashed wrist strap may be just what they’re looking for. Made of ultra-soft lambskin leather, the Vi Vante Bengal Unleashed camera wrist strap is one of the most comfortable wrist straps I’ve tried to date. Whether you’re looking to upgrade from the ho-hum camera strap included with your camera, or prefer the lower profile nature of wrist straps over traditional neck straps, the Vi Vante Bengal Unleashed Lambskin Leather Camera Wrist Strap is worth considering.

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Review: Vi Vante Tread Classic Camera Strap

The Vi Vante Tread Classic Camera Strap is for only the most stylish photographer.

After using the Vi Vante Tread Classic Camera Strap for a month or so, I’ve come to the conclusion it’s for the stylish photographer. It has its practicalities, but it’s less functional than much of what Vi Vante has in their lineup. The Vi Vante Tread Classic Camera Strap is for the photographer who first and foremost wants to flex their style, evident in many aspects of the design. From the flat profile intended to provide comfort to the red threads that run through it, the Vi Vante Tread Classic is a strap that oozes with allure. And to be honest, I’m perfectly okay with that.

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Review: Amber (A Personal Hybrid Cloud Device for Photographers)

LatticeWork enters the crowded hybrid cloud storage market with the introduction of their new Amber Personal Hybrid Cloud Storage Device

As photographers, the issue of where to store our images is an age-old challenge going back to the analog days of prints and negatives. While the shift to digital meant that most of our images now exist virtually, we live in an age where everyone has a camera in their pockets. The ever-increasing megapixel count has resulted in the continued growth of raw file sizes. Earlier this summer, we were introduced to a new NAS (network-attached storage) device called Amber from Silicon Valley-based startup LatticeWork. As the company’s cheeky marketing claims, Amber is not just “another pain in the NAS.” It aims to be a simple to set up and easy to manage hybrid cloud storage solution that leverages Artificial Intelligence to help keep everything organized and easily accessible. There are two versions of Amber available. Amber One comes equipped with a pair of 1 TB hard drives, while Amber Plus doubles the capacity of the included hard drives. For this review, we evaluated an Amber One, which was provided to us by LatticeWork. Storage capacity aside, Amber One and Amber Plus are functionally identical. Curious to know how it fared under real-world conditions?

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Paper Review: MOAB Juniper Baryta Rag (This Is Something Special)

When using MOAB Juniper Baryta Rag, we were shocked at how different it is. 

For a long time, I didn’t like much of what MOAB put out in terms of paper. But MOAB Juniper Baryta Rag really changed my mind. It is different from much of the other papers from Red River, Canon, and Epson in a few ways. For starters, this paper has a warmer color while it maintains a white look. MOAB Juniper Baryta Rag is a semi-gloss paper with a contrasty look. As a standard, we tend to use Canon Pro Semi-Gloss papers, but MOAB Juniper Baryta Rag is a pleasing alternative considering that many folks tend to find their printed images look too cold. And so if you’re not calibrating your printer and your screen often, or sharing the profiles with one another, then MOAB Juniper Baryta Rag could save you some extra work in post-production.

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Review: GNARBOX 2.0 (An Almost-Perfect Drive for Travel Photography)

Although it doesn’t yet feel like a finalized product the GNARBOX 2.0 has steadily improved since we began testing it.

While reviewing the GNARBOX 2.0, we discussed our experiences with influencers, photographers, and other members of the press. We have one big thing in common: we travel all the time, and editing on the go is an annoying process. But the GNARBOX 2.0 is trying to solve that issue by helping photographers integrate their editing into the cloud as that’s where things are headed for photographers. But for a segment of us, I don’t believe things are quite there yet. If you’re a user of Adobe Lightroom Mobile and a few other apps, GNARBOX 2.0’s apps will integrate with them and allow for simple, on-the-go editing. But photographers can also use the file and folder system within iOS (if you’re still loyal to the ghost of Steve Jobs). Still though, editing from an iPad Pro isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. More importantly, if you’re more used to using Capture One Pro, you’re going to need to edit on a laptop anyway. And after conversations with a ton of other creatives and testers, I’m unconvinced that GNARBOX 2.0 is ready for market.

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Review: Wacom Intuos Pro Creative Pen Tablet – Small

photography accessories

The Wacom Intuos Pro Small is a powerful tool perfect for creators and photo editors with limited space. 

Wacom has been synonymous with producing tablets for media creators for a long time now, and there is no doubt that their tablets can make editing photographs much easier in post-production. The company introduced their new Pro line of tablets in 2017, but only recently released the new Wacom Intuos Pro Small model. This tablet offers the main features found in the larger models but in a fun-sized, lower-priced package. After the break, we will share our experience with the tablet and let you know if this small package can deliver significant results. Continue reading…

Gear Review: X-Rite ColorChecker Passport Photo 2

X-Rite’s ColorChecker Passport Photo 2 is a reliable and valuable tool for photographers working with accurate color workflows.

Most modern digital cameras do an excellent job of reproducing the colors of the real world. However, there is arguably still some room for improvement. Most modern sensors only record red, green, and blue, and must interpolate the rest of the colors. Certain workflows, such as those implemented when photographing products or fashion for high-end commercial clients, demand accurate and consistent colors. This is where the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport Photo 2 comes in. The X-Rite ColorChecker Passport Photo 2 works with their ColorChecker Camera Calibration software. They claim it to be a reliable tool to help photographers create accurate reference images under any lighting condition. But here’s the big question: do you really need it?

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Review: Vi Vante Sheetline Luxury Black Rope Neck Strap

The Vi Vante Sheetline Luxury Black Rope Neck Strap is soft to the touch and incredibly practical.

When I was sent the Vi Vante Matador Noir camera strap I was also shipped the Vi Vante Sheetline Luxury Black Rope Neck Strap–which in many ways is the little sibling of the higher end strap. At a more affordable price point, the Vi Vante Sheetline offers much of the same durability and comfort as its leather counterpart. However, it’s softer and more comfortable as a result of their efforts with the use of rope. By far, this is some of the softest rope I’ve used and felt in a camera strap. It beats the heck out of your standard camera strap’s texture while maintaining a low key appearance. For the stealthy photographer, the Vi Vante Sheetline could be the best option on the market.

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Review: LaCie 2big RAID (the Answer to a Photographer’s Storage Woes)

LaCie’s 2big RAID is a secure, easy to use solution for photographers and content creators in need of extra local storage.

Thanks to raw files ballooning in size from the never-ending megapixel war camera manufacturers have waged, photographers have had to deal with storage issues. Many photographers end up moving files onto cheap external hard drives as a quick fix to make room on their computers, which inevitably end up getting tossed into a drawer or cabinet. Most of these external hard drives are poorly organized, never adequately maintained, and lack any sort of redundancy in the event of hardware failure. This is why RAID storage solutions like the LaCie 2big RAID have become go-to options for many creatives with demanding workloads that require large storage footprints.

For this review, we tested the 8TB model of the LaCie 2big RAID. 4TB and 16TB options are also available, and all of the models within the LaCie 2big RAID family are functionally identical save for the difference in storage capacity. And to be honest, there isn’t a lot for photographers to complain about.

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