Lowepro Camera Bags – Win One! (Podcast 70)

Lowepro Camera Bags – Win One! (Podcast 70)

I’ve been asked many times about the type of camera bag I use. Most of you that follow the forum will know that I’m very much a Lowepro advocate. As I bought yet another Lowepro bag for my resent trip to India, and continue to be amazed about the quality and usability of these bags, I thought I’d put together a Podcast about the bags that I currently use on a regular basis. Why I use so many will become clear as we proceed.

Also, I’m very excited and proud to announce today that top camera bag manufacturer, Lowepro, will be sponsoring this Podcast for the next four weeks, and have kindly agreed to provide the same bag that I just bought, the Stealth Reporter D650AW, as a prize for the Assignment Grand Prize. This and the next Assignment’s votes will all get added to the grand total, and the person with the most votes after the next assignment will receive this amazing camera bag. If you are worried that you have not yet entered the Assignment to date, please don’t be. Many people have only been entering sporadically, and total points of any one member are not yet surpass able. One outstanding image that blows everyone away could still amass enough votes to thrust you to the top of the ranking, so please do get involved if you aren’t already shooting for the assignment. I announced the theme for the current Assignment last week, but just to reiterate, it is “Silence”. Listen to episode 69 for more details.

And here is a word from Lowepro to kick off the sponsorship:
Our trek started in a small Colorado garage over 30 years ago. Since then, we’ve been traveling the world on the backs and shoulders of the best photographers on the planet. We’ve learned. We’ve innovated. We’ve become a leader. For over 30 years, we’ve worked to develop and perfect camera carrying systems – maybe to the point of obsession. But we’ve never stopped at just innovating and improving products.

We strongly believe that we owe it to ourselves, and to our industry, to do whatever we possibly can to protect and save the environment. We take as much pride in this aspect of our business as in the work we put into our products.

Most of our bags were inspired by helpful advice from you and your peers. We greatly appreciate your artistry and input. We’ve listened carefully to your suggestions, and we’re sure you’ll find something we’ve designed that’s exactly right for you. Because wherever you go on your next assignment, we want to be right there with you.

Lowepro products are distributed in more than 90 countries around the globe through photo, outdoor, computer, consumer electronic, mail order and online resellers. For more information about Lowepro or Lowepro products, visit www.lowepro.com.

Thanks again to Lowepro for your kindness and cooperation, and more importantly, for your amazing camera bags. Now let’s hear how good these bags really are.

Five years ago I bought my first Lowepro bag, just after my bought my first DSLR, the Canon EOS D30, not to be confused with the new 30D. Of course, Lowepro SLR bags are as useful for film cameras as they are for film cameras, and some of the newer models have paid particular attention to digital, making the digital photographer’s life much easier. We’ll get to that later, but first, my first bag was a smallish rucksack type bag, the Micro Trekker 200. The bag comprises an inner compartment with moveable padded partitions that stick to the bag and other partitions with Velcro so that you can customize the bag to fit your equipment. I found this bag to be a perfect size for a DSLR with a battery grip and a long lens, like the 100-400mm, and a couple of other shorter lenses. I don’t have a photo to show you of this bag, but when we look at the next bag, you can see how the partitions work if you are not already familiar with this kind of bag. In fact, in addition to the photos I’ve shot of my own gear, I’ll put a link to all of my bags on the Lowepro Web site into the show notes. That way you can browse and see more detail later. The Micro Trekker 200 also has an outer pocket, that holds a surprisingly large amount for the size of the bag. When I use this bag, I’ll usually put all my filters and spare batteries, and a reflector in the outside pocket. If necessary, you could drop a 50mm F1.4 or 1.8 in there as well without any problems.

I actually have a funny story about including this bag, when I was travelling on an internal flight from Sydney to Melbourne in Australia. As the plane trundled down the runway to take off, the overhead compartment above me sprung open, and my tripod slid out. Luckily, I saw it coming and caught it, so it didn’t hurt me or anyone else, but then this Micro Trekker started sliding out as we continued to gather speed, bouncing along the bumpy runway. Although not particularly heavy, I didn’t want to take the chance that I could not catch this one, with my precious D30 and lenses inside, but as I stretched my arm up, I couldn’t quite reach the bag hanging half out of the compartment, because I still had my seatbelt on. So I started to push up with my legs, against the will of the seatbelt, which was now acting as a sort of fulcrum with my feet pushing heavily down, and my back applying rather a lot of pressure to the seat. I had just managed to grab the bag and lower it to safety when, and I still can’t believe this, but the back of the seat broke at the hinge. The next thing I knew I was laying down flat, with the guy behind me in the seat to the left of the one I was now lying on, looking at me rather surprised and exclaimed “Jees mate, you scared the shit out of me!”. I must admit, I was a little shaken myself. This was the first time I’d experience full-flat seats in economy class. Anyway, I waited patiently in my comfortable full flat seat until the seat belt sign went off, and went to tell the cabin staff that I’d broken the seat. At first, I was asked if I meant the headphone socket, or the ash-tray, but when I said no, the seat, they didn’t seem to want to believe me until I took her back to my seat and showed it to her. Luckily I didn’t have to pay for it, and I got moved to a nice other seat for the rest of the flight.

Lowepro Nature Trekker AW II

Lowepro Nature Trekker AW II

Anyway, moving on, my arsenal of lenses was growing, and I wanted something that could hold a little more for my second trip to Hokkaido in February 2004. It was then that I bought the Lowepro Nature Trekker AW II. Again I’ll put a link to this bag in the show notes, but I also took a few photos of my own for us to look at. Let’s take a look at image number 1296 in which we can see my bag closed with my Manfrotto tripod attached. You can change the tripod leg holder to the other side, or even the back of the bag. It also came with lots of elastic straps, to attach things, and secure the tripod etc. You can see that there are a few already on the bag but not used. I leave them here so if say I want to take my coat off while out and about, I can just tuck it into the elastic strings and forget about it. One other thing that I found very useful on this bag is the weatherproof zips. This is not only effective in rain showers, but also when coming in to a warm building from sub-zero temperatures I’ve found this to be enough to prevent condensation from forming on my gear. This was going to be very useful for my trip Hokkaido to shoot in temperatures well below freezing. Actually, now I think about it, I actually bought my Nature Trekker as a set with the optional Trekker Day Pack II. The Day Pack is another rucksack that can be used on its own, or actually attached to the outside of the Nature Trekker itself. This Day Pack is really handy if you are going away for a day or so, and want to drop in a change of clothes or something. All of these things came in very handy for my first Hokkaido trip and many trips since.

Lowepro Nature Trekker AW II with Gear

Lowepro Nature Trekker AW II with Gear

In the next image, number 1297, we can see what my Nature Trekker will usually look like on a typical day out shooting. We can see the moveable compartments that I mentioned earlier, that allow you to customize the layout of the bag. Just in case you’re interested, that my 5D with a battery grip attached and the 24-105mm F4 lens at the top, then to our left as we look at the photo we can see my 24mm TS-E lens. Below that is my 16-35mm F2.8 lens. The hood for the 24mm TS-E lens is actually at the bottom of the compartment with the 16-35mm lens mount passing through it. This allows me to fit the 24mm TS-E into a smaller compartment. On the bottom left we can see the 100mm F2.8 macro lens. In the middle is the 70-200 F2.8 lens, and to the right of that is the 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 lens. Above that is my angle finder in its pouch, and above that, you can see the 50mm F1.4. Behind the 50mm is a 1.4X extender. If I was going out to do some high magnification macro work, this compartment would probably contain the MP-E65mm F2.8 1-5x lens instead. I also sometimes leave the 100-400mm at home and put the Canon Macro Twin-Lite MT-24EX flash unit.

Lowepro SlipLock Pouch 60AW

Lowepro SlipLock Pouch 60AW

 

I often feel uncomfortable leaving the 100-400mm at home though, as you never know when you’re going to need it. This is where the Lowepro “Sliplock” accessories come in. Let’s take a look at image number 1298 which is a Lowepro SlipLock Pouch 60AW that I often use to attach the Twin-Lite flash to the outside of my rucksack when there’s no more room inside. You can see in the picture that the system is made up of a stiff flap that drops through the SlipLock loop on the bag your affixing it too, then it fits first to the Pouch itself with magic tape. Then a second flap it fixed over that from the bottom, again with Velcro, securing the pouch to the bag. I have a number of lens cases as well, that I attach to the outside of my bags when I want to take more lenses than I can fit inside. It also enables me to just build the method of carrying my gear as I feel necessary. For example, let’s take a look at image number 1299 in which we can see my smallest Lowepro bag, the Toploader 65 AW with probably my most used SlipLock accessory, the Snap Top AW pouch. I use this bag when I just want to carry my camera, with a lens, such as the 24-105mm F4 attached, and some memory cards, notepad and spare batteries etc. in the Snap Top pouch. The pouch though usually goes onto any bag I use, then when I start shooting, I slip it onto my belt. That is, either the belt of my trousers, or the waste belt of the rucksack. This way I have quick access to any little gadget I might need. I always keep my lens blower in this pouch for example, and the little spirit level that goes into the camera’s flash shoe to level my camera. I usually also have a PL filter and an ND filter in here. It’s surprising how much you can stuff into this relatively small pouch. It’s like Dr. Who’s Tardis. Note that if I want to take just one more lens with me attached to this Toploader, there are SlipLock loops on either side, so I can put a lens case on the opposite side to the Snap Top Pouch that you see here.

Lowepro Toploader 65AW with Snap Top Pouch

Lowepro Toploader 65AW with Snap Top Pouch

Lowepro Lens Trekker 600 AW

Lowepro Lens Trekker 600 AW

I have pretty much taken the SlipLock Lens cases to the extreme in the next bag that I want to look at. When I first bought the 600mm F4, I thought that I would pretty much be using just that lens, and at locations close to the car, but with my character, I couldn’t leave much at home, you know me, “just in case”. So I started to still take my Nature Trekker with a fair amount of kit, and carrying the 600mm F4 over my shoulder. This soon became very tiresome, so I started to look for another solution. Well, I was happy to see that the guys at Lowepro had come up with the goods again, with the Lens Trekker 600 AW, that we can see with all of my Lens Case in image 1300. If you look at the bag without the lens cases, again, there’s a link to this on the Lowepro Web site in the show notes, you can see that it is literally just a long tall bag, designed to fit from a 300mm F2.8 to a 600mm F4 with the camera body attached, and even an 800mm without a body attached. I must mention that to fit the Canon EF 600mm F4 into this bag with a camera body attached, I have to remove the pad from the bottom of the bag. There is still ample padding in the outer shell, so I’m not concerned about this, but I would have liked the bag to be about three centimetres deeper.

Apart from that though, this bag is, as are all the others, simply amazing. If I only take the 600mm F4 with a camera body out, I can hardly feel the weight due to the fact that like all other Lowepro rucksacks, in addition to ergonomically designed shoulder straps and a padded waste belt, to spread the weight between my shoulders and waste. The harness with this bag, as with the Nature Trekker is fully adjustable. The bag comes with a large plastic arrow shaped plate called The Pack Jack, Harness Adjustment Tool. You slide the plastic arrow down between the padding that goes against your back when wearing the bag, and the Torso Plate on to which the shoulder straps are attached. This separates the Velcro from the Torso Plate temporarily to allow it to be slipped up and down. This is how you adjust the height of the shoulder straps to best fit your body for maximum comfort and ease of carrying.

Lowepro Lens Trekker 600 AW

Lowepro Lens Trekker 600 AW

The lens cases that you can see that I’ve attached to my Lens Trekker 600 AW are, again, on the left as we view the bag, are two Lens Case 4s. These will take the 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 and the 70-200mm F2.8 lenses side by side. On the right, at the top are two 1W lens cases. The W I believe if for Wide lenses. I put my 24-105 F4 and the 16-35mm lens in these two cases. The 24-105 fits in with the hood on, although it’s a tad on the tight side, and the 16-35mm will fit in with the hood on at a squeeze, but I generally remove the hood and drop the lens in with the front element facing down, then drop the lens hood in diagonally over the back of the lens. This saves stressing the lens hood and stops the lens from flopping around. At the bottom on the right we can see the 4S lens case. The S this time is for short. This case is roughly the same diameter as the 4s on the left side, but only about two thirds there height. I use this for my 100mm F2.8 Macro lens or the 65mm 1-5X macro lens with the tripod shoe attached. This usually gives me a little height left over, that I use to store the PL filter for the 600mm F4 lens. This filter fits into the back of the lens not on the front like normal PL filters and the case is pretty big as PL filters go, but this along with a 100mm macro lens fits perfectly. A final word on this bag is that it does come with a tripod support and straps, although I’m not using them here, but if you’d prefer, you can attach a large tripod instead. Before we move on actually, let’s take a brief look at image number 1301. In this photo we can see the 600mm F4 lens in the bag, with the 5D attached.

I also should mention that the AW in many of these bags, cases and pouches names is for All Weather. They all contain an All Weather Cover. These are rubberized fabric covers that are hidden in the base or in a pocket of all of the AW cases and bags. You can actually see the All Weather Cover compartment at the base of the SlipLock Pouch 60AW that we looked at earlier. I don’t bother to use the All Weather Covers in short, light showers, as the bags are made of quite tightly woven material, but if the rain gets heavy or looks like it might be prolonged, I take the covers out and pull them over the bag. The rucksacks all weather covers are large enough to go over a certain number of lens cases and the tripod, so it’s rarely necessary to take the case out of all of the attachments.

Let’s take a look the last Lowepro bag that I added to my collection, which is the Stealth Reporter D650 AW. In image number 1302 we can see the bag all closed up. You can see that this is a shoulder bag. It has a very comfortable padded shoulder strap as well as a smaller handle for carrying by hand and a waste belt, to attach the bag around your waster if you want for added support or security. We now know what the AW stands for, but the new D here stands for Designed for Digital. In image number 1303 we can see the bag with the top open, and the gear that I took on a recent business trip to India. The camera was placed in the middle, attached to the 70-200 F2.8. The compartments again are customizable, and have padded separators that can be used to split up items vertically. That is, in most of the compartments around the center one, I placed an extender, or lens, then a separator, then another lens. The bag comes with a small bag, that you can see there with the orange stripes on it, that you can use to keep cables, battery charges and other small objects together, or I guess you could put toiletries into it as well. It also comes with a memory card case that holds up to 12 cards, and this is attached to the bag by a small strap, which I find very comforting. I’ve dropped a card case before that I tucked under my arm to shoot some swans that took off as I changed my card, and then forgot about the case and it fell to the floor. I was fortunate that the case was found later that evening by Yoshiaki Kobayashi, the Photographer I was shooting with in Hokkaido, but it meant that we both had to go back to a snow covered beach in the dark scouting around with flash-lights, and then, I was lucky to get it back. You can also see there that the big front pockets, which are padded enough to feel comfortable dropping in your precious portable storage and picture viewer.

Lowepro Stealth Reporter D650 AW

Lowepro Stealth Reporter D650 AW

Lowepro Stealth Reporter D650 AW

Lowepro Stealth Reporter D650 AW

Although I’ve shied away from shoulder bags over the last few years, since my kit got heavy, I found this to be an excellent bag for a business trip in which I was able to fit in some photography. There are two more big selling points for me, in addition to the things I’ve just mentioned. The first is that if you look at the back of the picture here, you can hopefully see a large grey flap. This is the cover for the notebook PC compartment. This is large enough to fit a pretty big laptop and its adapter and cables etc. The other big selling point for me can be seen at work in image number 1304. This bag incorporates a water-resistant top zip so that you can get quick access to your equipment. Designed for photojournalists, this bag allows for very quick access to kit, for those chances that come and go in a split second. As you can see, there is no problem getting the 5D with battery grip and a 70-200mm F2.8 lens out of the top, and grabbing lenses from either side is just as easy. This bag also has tons of pockets, including some that are very hard to find, for hidden security. Note that the guard at the Taj-Mahal found all but one of the pockets. I couldn’t fit my tripod in that pocket to sneak it in though, so we can still say he was very good at his job.

Lowepro Stealth Reporter D650 AW

Lowepro Stealth Reporter D650 AW

I should also add before we close that all of these bags are OK as airline carry-ons. I have taken all of them on airlines at least once, some many times, and I’ve never had any problems. I would imagine the airline might well at some point ask me to remove some of the lens pouches, from the Lens Trekker 600, as it is pretty wide as you see in the photo, but it hasn’t happened to date.

As usual, I’ve today only spoken about bags that I have first hand experience with. Remember that Lowepro does a huge range of camera bags, for pretty much every type of camera. From compact digital through SLR bodies, to Video cameras and Medium and Large format cameras. What ever you’re looking for, I’m sure they have something to suite your needs, and with no problems with any of the products I’ve been using, some for up to five years, I can definitely vouch for the quality and strength of Lowepro gear.

So I hoped you enjoyed and found this explanation of what Lowepro gear I use and how I use it. As I said in the introduction, Lowepro have been kind enough to donate a Lowepro Stealth Reporter D650 AW camera bag which will be the Grand Prize for the Assignment, awarded to the member with the most votes after the second assignment from now. If you have not entered the assignment yet, remember, there’s still plenty of room to catch up. Just get stuck in, and shoot for the Silence Assignment we started last week, that will run until midnight on Sunday the 18th of February. Then after two weeks of voting until the end of March 4th, we’ll start another Assignment, and the winner of the bag will be the one with the most votes from your peers at the end of that Assignment which will finish in mid-may, with voting until the very end of May.

Remember that the individual winner for each assignment will still receive an original print of their choice from my online gallery at martinbaileyphotogrpahy.com. Keith Guthrie from the UK, the winner of the last Assignment chose his print last week, which was image number 1101 of the flower fields at Farm Tomita in Furano, during my summer visit to Hokkaido in 2006. Keith chose the Epson Professional UltraSmooth Fine Art Paper for his print, and once again, I was reminded of just how beautiful this paper is. The print is amazing and is on it’s way to you right now Keith. If you enter a real stunner to the next two assignments, you could end up with the camera bag and one of my original prints.

That reminds me of one other thing I want to quickly talk about before we finish. Keith asked if it would be possible to arrange a time to meet the UK listeners while I’m back in the UK for a wedding in a few weeks time. I’m going to be busy meeting friends and family, as I haven’t been back to the UK for a holiday for six years, but I should be able to open an afternoon and evening to meet up if anyone else is interested. The problem is, I’m fully booked at the weekends, so this will have to be a weekday between January the 23rd and February the 1st. What I’d like to do, is ask for those of you that would like to meet up, is to drop me a line at info@martinbaileyphotography.com and tell me if you could make it and let me know whether you can make the afternoon, just the evening, or both. Also let me know where you’d be coming from so that I can try to find somewhere to meet that suites the majority. Unfortunately, I’m probably not going to have time to make it all the way down to London, as I’ll need to get back to Nottingham in the evening, so it will probably be somewhere between the two cities, and not far from the M1. We can probably arrange a dinner for the evening, so that we can all sit down and have a nice chat and get to know each other in person. First mail me with your availability, once again, at info@martinbaileyphotography.com. Put something like UK Listener Meeting in the Subject so that I can locate the mail easily.

And that’s it for this week. Thanks again to Lowepro for sponsoring the Martin Bailey Photography and for the amazing Camera Bag, and thank you for listening. Now get out and start shooting for the Silence Assignment! Bye bye.


Show Notes
Music from Music Alley: www.musicalley.com/

The Lowepro Web site is here: http://www.lowepro.com/
Click the “Product Finder” button to browse by type of bag or use.

Here are some links directly to the bags I’ve mentioned today.
Micro Trekker 200:
http://www.lowepro.com/Products/Backpacks/classic/Micro_Trekker_200.aspx

Nature Trekker AW II:
http://www.lowepro.com/Products/Backpacks/allWeather/Nature_Trekker_AW_II.aspx
The Trekker Day Pack option for Nature Trekker:
http://www.lowepro.com/Products/Accessories/add_ons_upgrades/Trekker_DayPack_II.aspx

Toploader 65 AW:
http://www.lowepro.com/Products/Toploading/allWeather/Toploader_65_AW.aspx
Snap Top AW:
http://www.lowepro.com/Products/Accessories/sliplock_cases/Snap_Top_AW.aspx

Lens Trekker 600 AW:
http://www.lowepro.com/Products/Backpacks/allWeather/Lens_Trekker_600_AW.aspx

Stealth Reporter D650 AW:
http://www.lowepro.com/Products/Shoulder_Bags/notebook_camera/Stealth_Reporter_650_AW.aspx

Here you can see a list of available Lens Cases and other SlipLock Cases and Pouches:
http://www.lowepro.com/Products/Accessories/lens_cases/
http://www.lowepro.com/Products/Accessories/sliplock_cases/

And here is a word from Lowepro:

Our trek started in a small Colorado garage over 30 years ago. Since then, we’ve been traveling the world on the backs and shoulders of the best photographers on the planet. We’ve learned. We’ve innovated. We’ve become a leader. For over 30 years, we’ve worked to develop and perfect camera carrying systems – maybe to the point of obsession. But we’ve never stopped at just innovating and improving products.

We strongly believe that we owe it to ourselves, and to our industry, to do whatever we possibly can to protect and save the environment. We take as much pride in this aspect of our business as in the work we put into our products.

Most of our bags were inspired by helpful advice from you and your peers. We greatly appreciate your artistry and input. We’ve listened carefully to your suggestions, and we’re sure you’ll find something we’ve designed that’s exactly right for you. Because wherever you go on your next assignment, we want to be right there with you.

Lowepro products are distributed in more than 90 countries around the globe through photo, outdoor, computer, consumer electronic, mail order and online resellers. For more information about Lowepro or Lowepro products, visit www.lowepro.com.


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PIE 2006 – Impressions (Podcast 30)

PIE 2006 – Impressions (Podcast 30)

On Sunday the 26th or March, 2006, I visited the Photo Imaging Expo or PIE 2006 at the Tokyo Big Sight international exhibition center. In this episode I’m going to relay some thoughts on the visit, based mainly on what I wanted to get from it. I am thinking of investing in a new Epson printer, and wanted to talk to someone about my options. I also watched the “Adobe Lightroom public beta 2” demonstration, and was very impressed. Before leaving, I attended a seminar about digital nature photography by Yoshiko Kobayashi, one of the top nature photographers here in Japan, whom I was lucky enough to visit Hokkaido with in February on his photographic tour that I spoke about in episodes 25 to 28 of this Podcast.

There are also a few other snippets of information in this week’s episode, but I am not going to give an in-depth report of the whole show. As the title of this episode says, this will just be my impressions backed up by around 10 images.

Also, before we get into today’s topic, I’d like to mention a new method of listening to these Podcasts that I hope will make at least some of you happy. I often receive comments from people asking me why I don’t do Enhanced Podcasts. You know, these are the ones with chapters that change the thumbnail images for you in iTunes. Until now, I’ve not been able to do chaptered Podcasts because Apple has not released a piece of software they call the Chapter Tool for Windows and I don’t have any other good reason to give up all my Windows Software and switch to the Mac OS. Last week though, I bought into a piece of technology called the PupuPlayer Pro.

Now despite the name, this is not a tool to allow you to play pooh pooh, although I’m sure it’ll do a great job if you point it at another Podcast. What it does allow to do though, is to change the images being displayed at set times, the same as an enhanced Podcast. It also allows you to stream the Podcast from my Podcast page, so that you don’t have to wait for the file to download. This will still not work the same as an Enhanced Podcast in iTunes or on your iPod, but once you’ve clicked on the new “Stream Podcast” button you can now see above the Download button for each episode on my Podcasts Page, you will see a small Window open and the episode you chose will start playing in moments as the rest of the audio file is streamed to your computer.

You will need the Adobe Flash player for this to work, but this is available for free and can be downloaded automatically if you don’t already have it. Once the audio is playing, you will see the images in the bottom right of the player change as I move on to the next one, and all you have to do to view it full size is click on the image, just like an enhanced Podcast in iTunes. The difference is that the image will be opened on my Web site. I will be going back and adding the chapter data to all of my previous Podcasts too soon, so if you have any favourite episodes that you want to listen to again in future, you will still be able to use this method.

Although the player is quite small, it’s relatively feature rich, and includes a list of all Podcasts to date, so that you can select any other to listen to, either from the list or with the advance to next Podcast and go to previous podcast buttons. It also has a volume control and timeline scrubber, and is totally advertisement free, as I’ve paid for it. I hope you will find this a useful change to the Martin Bailey Photography Podcast.

OK, so on to today’s main topic. As I mentioned in the intro, on Sunday the 26th or March, 2006, I visited the Photo Imaging Expo or PIE 2006 at the Tokyo Big Sight international exhibition center. Today’s photographs are more just for information, so I won’t be giving details on how or why I made the images as usual. If you’ve started listening to this Podcast with the PupuPlayer, you will now see that the image in the window of the player has changed to one of the Tokyo Big Sight. This is shot number 945 if you still prefer to enter the number in the field in the top page Podcast section or on the top of the Podcast page itself. I shot the building in the morning on arriving, to let you get an idea of what it looks like, but this shot was actually one I captured before getting on the train to go home at 2:15PM. The sun was around the front of the building by this time so it just makes for a better photo. Tokyo Big Sight, as in what a sight to see, rather than site as in venue, is built in and area of Tokyo that I heard called reclaimed land when this area of Japan was discussed in a documentary that I saw recently on I think the Discovery Channel. I personally prefer the term landfill though, as I’ve never quite understood this “reclaimed land” term. It kind of suggests that we once owned it in the past. Maybe billions of years ago when we still lived in the ocean it might have been our home, but since we gave up our gills in favour of lungs, I find reclaiming the ocean as our own a somewhat strange concept.

Tokyo Big Sight

Tokyo Big Sight

Anyhow, basically the whole city here with the futuristic Yurikamome railway system that runs on a road-like track with rubber tires rather than steel rails, the sewage works that looks like a UFO and also houses a health club with tennis courts, the amusement parks and even the Fuji TV company building, is all build on landfill ground. It actually makes quite a difference walking around very wide streets and open spaces, compared to most of Tokyo which is often quite cramped and crowded.

Lowepro DryZone Camera Bag

Lowepro DryZone Camera Bag

If you registered beforehand as I did, entrance fee to the Expo was 750, or about $6.50. This gets you a free photography related equipment catalog that covers everything photography, including studio lighting and photo frames, camera bags and other gadgetry.

Once inside, as I walked into the main area, the KFC booth caught my eye with the large LowePro sign. As some of you will know, I use LowePro bags with the SlipLock lens cases and pouches almost religiously as the main method for carrying around my gear. I was interested to see the DryZone bag that you can see in the next picture, which should now be available in the flash player too, and is photo number 946. The bag was sitting in the well of an artificial waterfall, and with water dropping directly on to it. This was easily the amount of water you’d get from a heavy rainstorm, but when the bag is opened, the insides are completely dry. All of my current LowePro bags are shower proof, but come with an all-weather cover that has to be fitted to the bag if it starts to rain hard, so I probably won’t be replacing these bags soon, but if I was in the market for a new bag, the LowePro DryZone series would definitely be on the top of my shortlist.

By the way, I’ll drop a list of links for all the companies or gear that I talk about today into the show notes.

Next, I approached the Epson stand. You can see this in the next image, which is number 947, from which you can also get a feel for the numbers in attendance today. I came to this Expo last year too, on the Saturday though, and got a distinct feeling there were more people here then. Most booths today looked very similar to this. A good number of visitors but not particularly crowded.

The Epson Stand

The Epson Stand

When I set out for today’s Expo, there was one thing that I expressly wanted to get out of today, and this was also discussed in a forum topic recently, and that is that I wanted to see output from both the Epson Maxart PX-5500 that uses the K3 inks, and the Colario PX-G5100. These printers, that in the west are called the Epson Stylus Photo R1800 and the R2400 respectively, both output prints on up to A3+, or 13×19 inch paper. The R1800’s list price is $549 and the R2400 is $849.99. So there’s quite a lot of difference. The thing is that the R2400 has the ability to create much richer, archival quality black and white prints. The R1800 on the other hand, produces wonderful hi-gloss prints. Now what I was worried about was how good the colour gloss output was from the R2400, as I would like to invest in this printer for it’s superior black and white, but most of the original prints from my Web site are colour, some of which are gloss, so I can’t accept lower quality than what I’m currently getting with my PM-4000PX, or the Stylus Photo 1280 as I believe it’s called in the West.

So, as you can see in next photo, number 948 I was pleased to see that Epson had provided a wall full of photos from the glossiest gloss to the mattiest matte output from both printers for me to compare. Actually that’s not quite true as the highest gloss paper from Epson is not supported for use with the R2400, so it was not available for comparison, but I was able to see that the R2400 does indeed create better black and white shots, at the same time as being able to keep a very high quality in the colour prints. I for one could not really tell the difference in the output from both printers when it comes to colour, and I’m not too worried about not being able to output to the highest gloss, as most prints when viewed in a frame are better if the gloss is held back a little. So I think I’ll be investing in an R2400 or the Maxart PX-5500 before too very long.

Epson Printer Output Comparison

Epson Printer Output Comparison

In the next shot, number 949, we can see the Canon booth, or maybe we should say campus. The area Canon used was huge. I guess they are making too much money, which is not surprising with the amount of cash that people like me throw at them each year. I first had a chat with one of the guys showing Digital Photo Professional about the fact that the new Canon Picture Styles information is not transferred to Adobe Camera RAW, and was a little disappointed in his defensive attitude. He didn’t seem very concerned about the real issues that a photographer has in not being able to simply open his or her RAW images in ACR and have the Picture Style recognized and applied, and seemed more concerned about the dangers of making the Picture Style attributes or code public. I said that I agree that simply making it something similar to open source would not be a good idea, but think that there should be some way for Adobe or other companies to work with the Picture Style. It was at this point that the guy said that Adobe still don’t recognize the EXIF data in digital images, and when I said of course they do, he said “Yes, but only for the last few versions”. It was at this point that I realized that I was wasting my time talking with him, so I thanked him for his time and walked away.

The Canon Stand

The Canon Stand

In shot number 950 up next, we can see the crowd gathered around the EOS Digital stand on the Canon booth. Much of the fuss was over the 30D soon to hit the market, but there was also a lot of attention still being given to the 5D and the 1D series DSLRs. We can also see a row of super telephoto lenses being explored at the top of this image, behind the EOS Digital stand. I remember drooling over the 600mm F4 at this point last year, but was lucky to pick one up last December, so didn’t bother to go up there today. All in all there was a lot of buzz around the Canon stand. They had an area for consumer point and shoot digital cameras as well as the DSLRs. It was also possible to take a look at Canon’s printer line-up, video technology and their digital projectors etc. I was also interested in attending one of the seminars at the far right of the Canon area, but we’ll get to that a little later.

Canon EOS Digital Stand

Canon EOS Digital Stand

I next walked to the stand directly opposite the Canon stand, which was the Adobe stand. I was just in time to watch the Lightroom Public Beta 2 demonstration, which I am very interested in, so I sat down and waited a moment or so for it to start. You should now be able to see a shot from shortly after the demonstration started if you’re listening with the new flash player, or go to shot number 951 if you’re following on my Web site. The demonstration was incredibly professional, as one would expect from a company like Adobe. At some points there was a video with hundreds of photos flashing around the screen, almost dancing as though choreographed to music. The screen you can see in the photo is just half of the actual screen used for the demo, so it was really quite impressive.

Adobe Lightroom Demo

Adobe Lightroom Demo

Things that I was very impressed with, with Lightroom itself include, the speed at which the operations were possible. I know that they probably have mountains of RAM and CPU speed in the computers that they were using for the demo, but even so, the motions were very fluid indeed. The RAW images were viewable in no time, and switching between viewing the entire image to 100% and moving between the various screen modes was very fast. I also liked the Greyscale Mixer too, which allows you very accurate control over the way your image looks in black and white using sliders for each colour. I can’t wait for the Windows version of the Lightroom beta to become available so that I can have a play with it myself.

Unfortunately there will not be an image to show you of the Apple stand, as Apple stopped me photographing it saying that there were copyright issues with the photos on the screen, even though they would have appeared no bigger than probably 50 pixels wide in my image. I’m not going to go into detail of how I feel about this, and I do respect their views and of course other photographer’s copyrights, and that’s why I’m not going to publish the one shot that I did get before they stopped me, but I will just say that I was disappointed and don’t quite understand the marketing strategy behind spending all this money setting up a stall at a trade show like this, then denying people the chance to give you free advertising.

After this, I had a walk through the rest of the Expo, and along the way made image number 952 that you should now be able to see. This is probably the only shot from the day that I really thought about from an artistic perspective. All through the Expo there are models posing for the almost invariably entirely male crowd. If I was interested in portrait photography, I would probably be at the front of the crowd anyway, so I can’t say that I find anything particular wrong with this, but I wanted to get a shot that shows the crowds and the models both. I walked up to the Sandisk Compact Flash memory stand, which I must say was really very impressive, focusing on their fasted card technology to date, the Extreme III cards, and as I raised my camera, the model with the hat on here looked directly at me. The eye contact in this shot makes for quite an interesting image I thought.

Shooting the Booth Models

Shooting the Booth Models

I walked right through the Expo to the very farthest point from the Canon booths, and there I found the Nikon guys. This photo, image number 953 gives a view of the side of the booth. Don’t be fooled by the lack of people in this shot. I waited quite some time to get just a few people in the shot, and was quite pleased to see that guy in the far right peeking around in a somewhat sinister fashion, as though following the guy in the hat walking across the center of the frame. The inside of the booth was of course teaming with photographers trying to get what for most would probably be the first look at a new D200, that we see plastered across the side of the booth here.

The Nikon Stand

The Nikon Stand

After this I wandered outside, and ate the lunch I’d picked up on my way out here. There are places to buy food inside, but I recalled last year, when I was so overwhelmed by all the camera equipment and goodies inside that I felt it a waste of time actually spending time finding somewhere to eat and then queuing to buy it. I also recall that by the time I did decide to do so, much of the food was sold out, so I’d brought my own lunch today. I spend just a few minutes outside before going back inside and going to the upper floor of the exhibition center to look around the stands up there. This floor is where the smaller companies congregate, and I didn’t really find anything that I personally was interested in.

By the time I’d looked around upstairs, it was about time to go back to the Canon stand, to listen to a seminar from one of the top nature photographers here in Japan, that I was lucky enough to visit Hokkaido with in February. This was the photography tour that I spoke extensively about in Episodes 25 to 28 of the Martin Bailey Photography Podcast. In the last photo for today, number 954, we can see the person I’m talking about, Yoshiaki Kobayashi, talking to a crowded room about digital nature photography. Kobayashi Sensei said a number of things that rang very true, like using a tripod whenever possible for Macro photography, and when you really can’t, shoot in bursts to increase your chances of getting something that works, but I really want to mention one thing in particular that I also feel very strongly about. He said that just because with the advent of digital photography and it now being very easy to correct exposure in post-processing, there is no excuse for not getting it right when you are shooting the original.

Yoshiaki Kobayashi Sensei

Yoshiaki Kobayashi Sensei

I too really want to stress the importance of doing this. Many people think that now that we can change things in post processing that we don’t have to be as careful as when we shot film. Let me tell you though, pretty much every piece of post processing you do is going to be destructive, and if you don’t get the exposure right at the point of shooting the image, sure you can raise it or lower it in your RAW software or in Photoshop, but the quality of the image will be reduced. I have tweaked the exposure myself on the odd occasion when I just didn’t have anything better, so I’m not saying you should never ever do this, but you will get higher quality results more consistently if you pay attention to the fundamental photographic skills at the time of shooting, than by messing around with your shots in post-processing.

Anyway, with that little rant to finish with, that just about wraps it up for today. I’ll include a link to Kobayashi-sensei’s Web site in the show notes too. I’ve so much respect for this guy and his work and his vision, so please drop by his Web site and take a look for yourself too.

And finally, I’d like to thank those of you that have taken the time to complete the Martin Bailey Photography Podcast’s listener’s survey so far. If you haven’t already completed the survey and you can spare 5 minutes, you can find a link to the survey in the small Podcast section on the top page or linked with a larger graphic on the Podcasts page. I’ve also posted an announcement in the forum about this, with a link, so I’ll put a link to that post in the show notes. I’d really appreciate it if you could take five minutes to complete the survey as it will enable me to learn more about you and hopefully help me to find a sponsor for this Podcast at some point.

So, whatever you’re doing this week, I hope you have a great time doing it, and keep shooting too. Bye bye.

And finally, I’d like to thank those of you that have taken the time to complete the Martin Bailey Photography Podcast’s listener’s survey so far. If you haven’t already completed the survey and you can spare 5 minutes, you can find a link to the survey in the small Podcast section on the top page or linked with a larger graphic on the Podcasts page. I’ve also posted an announcement in the forum about this, with a link, so I’ll put a link to that post in the show notes. I’d really appreciate it if you could take five minutes to complete the survey as it will enable me to learn more about you and hopefully help me to find a sponsor for this Podcast at some point. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been a listener or how frequently you listen to this Podcast. Thanks in advance for taking the time out to complete this survey.


Show Notes
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