Mar 232014
 

transporter syncI’m not quite sure what to call this product….. Transporter?  File Transporter?  Drobo Transporter? Their website is www.filetransporter.com, as is their twitter account, but they refer to themselves as Transporter, though they are now owned by Drobo. B&H does list the item as Drobo Transporter though. Confusing.

The Transporter is a device for creating your own cloud storage so that you can be free from the monthly payments of services like Dropbox and Google Drive.  I’ve watched the development of the Transporter with great interest.  The company that makes it, Connected Data, was founded by Geoff Barrall who used to be CEO at Drobo. Shortly after they launched their first product, Drobo purchased Connected Data though so whilst they sort of seem to operate as separate companies at the moment, in name at least, technically these are Drobo products and I have been dealing with Drobo support on my issue.

I recently purchased the Transporter Sync, which is the version you plug into a USB drive but you can also get a variety of other options that come with a 2.5″ SATA drive built in.  The theory is that you plug it into your router, stick it into your closet and forget about it.  It acts exactly like Dropbox, giving you the ability to drag and drop files into a folder on your computer and have them sync seamlessly across all your devices.  Including mobile devices.  The beauty of it is that you could plug a 4TB USB drive into it and you’ll have no monthly fees at all, just $99 to buy the Transporter Sync in the first place, and of course the cost of the drive.

I’ve had one of these on my “to buy” list for quite some time and now I find myself working more remotely I decided to jump right in and re-purpose a USB drive that I wasn’t using.  Setup was a breeze, it really way, I just can’t fault it.  In less than 5 minutes I had it all up and running and I was happily pushing files up to my new personal cloud.  Stoked!  Now you guys know by now that I tell it like it is…… so here comes the downer.  The very first time I went to do some work from a cafe, I tried to access my files and the Transporter tool told me my Transporter was offline.  Frustratedly I drove home and couldn’t see any problem with it at all.  The drive was running, the network lights indicated an internet connection on both the router and the Transporter and the other Transporter light indicated everything was A-OK. Restarting the Transporter didn’t work and in the end it was an unknown combination of pulling power, USB and network cables that finally got the “offline” status to change to “unsupported USB drive”.  At least though it seemed to be working again despite that particular error message.

Then it occurred to me…… why the heck should I be going through this??  This was supposed to make things easier for me!  The whole point of it was to give me offsite access to my files, what if I hadn’t been within easy driving distance?  Yes it’s great to lose the monthly fees of cloud storage, but what you forget then is that services like Dropbox and Google Drive are redundant.  They may go down for a few minutes here and there but they aren’t going to crap out on you completely like this did because they have huge teams of engineers to take care of problems should something occur.  With Transporter you are at the mercy of the technology and for me, even though I was SUPER excited about putting this device into my workflow, I quickly concluded that a regular cloud service is going to be a far better option.  At the same time, Google announced a HUGE price drop on their Google Drive storage.  You can now get 100GB for only $1.99/month or 1TB for $9.99 ( it used to be $49.99).

So I’m returning the Transporter and I’ve signed up to Google Drive for 1.99/month because it just works.

I’m still interested to see where Transporter goes in the future.  I think it’s pretty much a given that since Drobo purchased the company, the technology will simply be built into Drobos and for me that is immensely exciting.  Yep I’ve had my fair few issues with Drobos in the past but I have to tell you that since I switched to the Thunderbolt enabled Drobo 5Ds they have been just phenomenal. I swear it’s like a whole new product and I’d recommend them to anyone in a heartbeat.  I’m running two of them in my office (which I torture tested before I switched to them) and they have been amazing.  The thought of having Transporter abilities in those so that I can log in remotely to retrieve an archived photo file is exciting.  For must-have documents though, for now Google Drive will be my go-to option.

 

 

Mar 182014
 

200-400review_cover copy smallSince my review of the stellar Canon 200-400 has been very popular I’ve launched a slightly extended version with extra images as a free eBook.  The book is available in either PDF format or iBook through my website Shutter Muse HERE.

I much prefer browsing images on a tablet device and I love the way this review looks on iPads and Android tablets.

 

Dec 042013
 

ShutterMuse_Logo_Full_800x800Today I want to introduce you guys to my new photography website Shutter Muse. When I started my blog here I never anticipated that thousands of people would stop by to read it each and every day.  I’m truly grateful to all of you!  You may have noticed that the number of posts I have been putting up has declined a bit in recent months.  There’s been a good reason for this and I’m pleased to be able to revel this new website to you today.  I wanted to launch a site that was built from the ground up to bring you guys amazing content and incredible photo stories.  In the long term I know that I didn’t want to do this on my own, and it wouldn’t have made sense for other people to contribute to a blog called Dan Carr.  Shutter Muse was born.

We have big plans for this site and it’s going to allow me even more time to write, and even more opportunities for adventures.  I can’t go into too much details about the future just yet, but let’s just say I’m excited!!

To celebrate the launch of the site I’ve teamed up with the folks at MindShift Gear to give one lucky person the chance to win their Rotation 180 Professional backpack, my current photo bag of choice, and one that’s worth $400!  You can find all the details of the contest right here.

If you’re subscribed to my blog here then I would LOVE for you to subscribe to the Shutter Muse feed as well right here.   You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

So what’s the future for my blog here? Well I’m excited to start giving it a bit of a makeover. This certainly won’t be a goodbye post!  Not by a long shot.  My goal is to put my feature stories, tutorials and reviews on the Shutter Muse, and this site here will slowly transition back to being a ‘blog’.  By that I mean that it will take on the role of telling you guys exactly what I’m up to these days, where I’m traveling and what I’m shooting.  Kind of the way blogs were intended in the first place really.  A behind the scenes look at my life I guess.  And yes it’ll be a place for occasional rants like the one I had last month about the Profoto B1 :)  So please don’t un-subscribe from this blog, the new site is will actually help me fund a makeover on this one to streamline things and tidy it up a little bit.

Again, I’m so thankful to the thousands of people who stop by every day here and to those that have kindly used my links to make your purchases.  You guys are responsible for being able to keep this information online for the masses.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I hope you’ll come and join me over at Shutter Muse as well.  Here are just some of the first feature posts on the site:

Much much more to come………

Mindshift-r180-WIN

Nov 122013
 

Profoto B1 air

A few weeks ago lighting specialists Profoto put out a teaser on their website that something big was coming, something new.  Could it be…..?  Was a major flash manufacturer finally going to deliver what I’ve been waiting for…….?  In a word; no.

Profoto announced the B1 Air 500.  Essentially a D1 with a li-ion battery in it and TTL capabilities.  It certainly seems to have caught people’s attention judging by all the e-mails I’ve gotten about it.

First I have to talk about the TTL which they proudly put at centre stage.  What photographer who spends $2000 on a flash head, is going to use TTL?  Really?  I think this is a pointless feature and I wish that companies like Profoto would listen to what we actually want, and not what they think will sound the best in the marketing blurb.  *sigh*

The second thing I want to address about the B1 is that Profoto are touting it as a fast flash head when in fact it is not.  They are quoting t0.5 times which grossly misrepresent the actual useful flash duration by probably three times. Their super fast 19,000/s duration is also only at 2Ws which is a fairly uselessly small amount of power.  Next we’ll be seeing manufacturers claiming 1/100,000 second flash duration at 0.13Ws

The number we actually want to know is full power flash duration which is listed as a very moderate 1/1000 at t0.5.  From this we can estimate that the actual flash duration or close to it using t0.1 would be about somewhere in the region of 1/200 or 1/300 of a second.  Hardly anything to write home about right?  Yet all Profoto’s marketing blurb proudly tells us how fast the head is.

Now don’t get me wrong…I actually really want to try these things out.  I love the idea of being completely cordless with the battery built into the head.  What ticks me off is all the fluff and bull that they are spreading.  If they really wanted to impress then they would not have shot their BMX photo promo at night and indoors.  Those kind of scenarios don’t test flash heads AT ALL.  Anyone could have shot those images with regular speedlights.

 

The Hypersync Question

Flash manufacturers I’m talking to you now so listen up.  Here’s the deal; most sports photographers are using Pocketwizard’s Hypersync function with their strobed sport photos.  “How well does it work with Hypersync?” is the number one question I get.  People I know are downgrading their Elinchrom flash heads to the SLOWER ’s’ heads from the fast ‘a’ heads because the slower ones work better with Hypersync. So continually trying to create new strobes that have a fast flash duration is missing the trick!  We want a flash that is DESIGNED SPECIFICALLY to work with Hypersync.

For those that don’t know, Hypersync is a function that allows you to shoot at a higher sync speed than your camera would normally allow.  What this means is that the extra stop or two you gain in shutter speed allows you to more easily overpower the ambient light and to use less powerful, less bulky strobes.  For example, I rarely use my 1200Ws Elinchrom Ranger now because I use a 640Ws Einstein instead.  It’s half the power (1-stop) but I can shoot with a shutter speed of at least 1-stop faster because it Hypersyncs better than my Ranger.  My net result is a win for the Einstein for the same exposure.

With my Einstein I can sync at 1/1000 of a second with a full frame, slow, camera like the 5D Mk3.

Hypersync works very simply, it’s not magic.  It’s simply a pre-calibrated delay that ensures that the flash pulse fires during the moment when the camera shutter is open.  How well it works for a particular strobe depends on the shape of the flash’s output curve.  A flash has a small ramp up time to get to full output and then a tail off after that.  Every flash is different but these characteristics can be controlled.  It should be possible to create a flash that has an output curve DESIGNED to be the perfect partner to Hypersync.  Even if it meant the flash companies creating their own version of Hypersync…. it’s just a simple delay after all.

For action and sports photographers this is what we want.  We don’t give a crap what your crazy flash duration is when the head is turned down to the power of a baby glow worm.  We want full power performance with faster sync speeds.  The first one to figure that out will get all my money!

The silver lining

So there is a silver lining to the seemingly slow speed of Profoto B1 head.  It’s so slow that it should actually be quite good with Hypersync.  Whilst it wasn’t specifically designed for it, I’ve looked at the power curve and I think it will work pretty well.  I wish it was a little more powerful, but it seems like it might be able to achieve similar exposures to my Einstein, albeit in a package that’s 3X the price.  Hopefully I’ll get a chance to give them a try if the nice people at Profoto don’t take this article too personally!  The number of e-mails I’ve gotten this week certainly tell me that readers are interested in my thoughts.

Due to the great price point and the ability to work well at Hypersync, the number of Einsteins that people have bought after talking to me about them is quite staggering.  It’ll be interesting to see if the B1 will steal some customers or whether the price point will put people off.

Nov 112013
 

70-200deal

This is the best deal there’s ever been on this lens.  If you’ve been thinking about buying it, now would be the time.  Not only is it discounted from $2499 to $2199 but there’s also a $300 mail-in rebate on top of that!  So you can get this amazing lens for $1899!

Now when you go to B&H, it’s still going to show $2499 on the price page because this is a SECRET deal that B&H have told some of their partners about!  You have to put the lens in your cart and begin the checkout process.  When you do that, you’ll see the $2199 price at the second stage and then of course in the US you’ll be able to claim the additional $300 rebate as well.  How about that?!

Show me this deal now! Tweet this crazy deal to your friends with this button!

 

 

Nov 042013
 

Photos have finally leaked of the soon-to-be-announced Nikon Df.  The so-called full frame hybrid camera designed to pay homage to the old Nikon FM2.  The camera is reported to come with a 16MP sensor and a 39 point AF system similar to the one in the D610.  Nikon have been teasing the camera all with with a series of videos titled Pure Photography.

It will be released on November 28th.

What do you think?  Taking retro design too far?

Pre-Order

 

 

Nikon Df leaked Nikon Df leaked Nikon Df leaked Nikon Df leaked

Nov 012013
 

 

Think Tank My Second Brain Review

The guys at Think Tank Photo recently sent me one of their latest My 2nd Brain laptop bags to test and review.  This new lineup of cases is designed specifically with Apple products in mind, and sized for the 11″ Macbook Air and 13″ + 15″ Macbook Pros.  There’s also an additional Tablet version which is designed specifically for the iPad and all of the larger ones also feature a plush lined iPad pocket.

The idea behind these bags was to design something that has the perfect space for all the things you need when you travel with your laptop.  Internally, as you’ll see in the photos below, are a number of mesh and zippered pockets.  The mesh pockets are designed to be just the right size for the Apple power adapters necessary for the Macbook Air or Macbook Pro.  There’s also one that’s just the right size for an iPad power adapter and they all feature a spot for the power cord extension.  With this stuff in place there’s still plenty of room for all the extra trinkets and dongles you need such as Thunderbolt to Ehernet adapters, or USB keys.

131101_8324_dancarrKey Features:

  • Available in Black, Harbor Blue, and Mist Green.
  • Easily accessible iPhone mobile digital device pocket with plush lining and earbud pouch.
  • Front pocket with plush pouch for iPad or iPad Mini mobile digital device (product specific).
  • Organizer for pens, business cards, keys or other personal items.
  • Padded protection for your most valuable electronics.
  • Large rear pocket for documents or papers.
  • Removable shoulder strap with adjustable, non-slip pad.
  • Grab handle on top for quick pick-up.
  • Poly Ballistic fabric ensures durability while silver-toned liner provides a technical appearance.
  • Think Tank Photo’s “No Rhetoric” warranty.

I use an 11″ Macbook Air for my travel laptop, I think it’s more than powerful for the work that I need to do on the road, so my photos are of the My 2nd Brain 11.  All of the larger ones have exactly the same features though, just scaled up slightly.

Get a FREE gift when you use my links!

When you click on any of the links in this article that take you to the products in the Think Tank store you’ll get to choose a FREE bonus gift when you checkout and spend more than $50.  You’ll get to choose your bonus gift from a selection that includes things like memory card holders and Think Tank modular pouches!

I’ve taken this bag on a couple of photo trips this month and what I’m really liking about it is that it forces you to only take what you need and nothing more.  I can fit my laptop, iPad (and even my kindle as well) into the case and still have room for all the power cords, cables plus a memory card reader and a hard drive.  It’s fairly bulging by the time I’m done with it but it means I’m not tempted to keep throwing things in my bag simply because I have the space and “just in case”.  I’m a big proponent of lightening your camera gear so that you’re unencumbered in the the field, but if I’m honest I rarely (read never) roll that thinking over to my mobile office equipment.  In the past couple of years I’ve put all this stuff into a Gura Gear Chobe shoulder bag which is cavernous by comparison.  Now such a shoulder bag can serve double duty as a camera bag as well if you need that, but if you don’t, the My 2nd Brain might be right up your street.  On a plane it’s the perfect little grab bag to stuff under your seat when your bigger bag is up in the overhead locker and then you’ve got all the things you need on your flight to maintain your productivity.  I found it to be similarly useful when working in my home town as well. I often spend time writing for magazines and websites and sometimes a change of scenery is good for productivity.  The My 2nd Brain was the perfect little bag to take to a local coffee shop for a few hours, or for quick meetings with my graphic designer when working on my eBooks.  With room for a notepad in the back pocket and pens in the front as well as business cards, you can be pretty well set for most meetings.

Think Tank My 2nd Brain review

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