Equipment update

Two and a half weeks at home equals a looooot of visits to the local German camera store (Foto Leistenschneider), and many reminders of what I still wanted to buy, or didn’t know about wanting to buy it before :).

Canon BG-E7 battery grip + E2 hand grip

My best friend tried to harass me into buying it from day one, because “the camera is too small” and “unhandy otherwise”, riiiighhht. I did not really buy into the battery thing either, I got a spare in one of the small bags on my backpack at any time, and didn’t see me being in a situation were a 20 second swap would cause any harm, it’s not like the camera turns off completely unforeseeable. In fact, since I wasn’t pro the extra bulk, I saw taking the grip off and adding it back as a major time consuming pain in the ass and thus a huge con.

What made me change my mind? Since I was all negative about the whole thing (did I mention it wouldn’t fit into my standard on the go bag with the grip?) no research in regards to any other features happened. Just recently I learned by accidient that it has another set of buttons and all (duh!), and after the football pictures from two months ago felt the urge to go vertical properly for more comfort.

There was still the preconception imprinted from other reviewers on Amazon and elsewhere about the hazzle of adding/removing the grip, but to my suprise that was complete boloks. I takes me less than half a minute to go from one state to the other, it is really that easy. I have to admit though that this is in part also thanks to the recently released hand grip upgrade from E1 to E2, which can now be used without a battery grip as well – the old E1 could only be hardwired to a loop on the camera and grip, whereas the E2 can also be attached to the tripod mount, meaning you can unscrew it really quickly, and screw it back on, with or without the grip attached.

Before anyone complains about not mentioning it, Canon does not recommend (in fact forbid?) you to use the tripod mount style with the battery grip attached, may it be because of different wear and tear, or because they don’t want people coming at them for the big hard platic part breaking off. Testing this thoroughly in the field with the 70-200 + extender attached, I can not share any of that sentiment. And it is really comfortable, for my big hands that is (easily adjustable).

Another complaint I red about a lot was the shutter button being too soft, or weird. My version of the grip doesn’t share any of this, the shutter button and buttons in general are great, the look and feel of the grip is great, solidly engineered, great product and the 165€ I paid are a fair price for what you get.

Lastly, you can also feed your camera with AA batteries thanks to the grip, but I wouldn’t recommend it, according to the specs and feedback that bad boy is cutting through those like a hot knife through butter!

Gary Fong Lightsphere Collapsible + Puffer

Remember Canon Rumor’s interview with Alex Johnson? In one part he talked about a new diffusor he started to love, the Lightsphere Collapsible by Gary Fong. I did some research on it that day and liked the product from what I saw, and wanted to try one. This being said I put it on my wishlist to order it from the US some day, just to realize that a few of my local dealers (Foto Koch and Calumet) are selling his products. This way I could also purchase the Puffer pop up flash diffusor, just for the giggles of trying it out (19€).

So far I had no real world situations to use both extensively, but you know me, of course I test ran the products when I got them and they seem to do what they are supposed to (not a normal assumption these days!).

Gary Fong: Lightsphere Collapsible
Gary Fong: Puffer

Delamax focusing screen with 180° cross section and micro prism ring

You have to learn through your own mistakes, it’s the only way. Sadly that was also true for my 7D’s focusing screen, which I managed to ruin during that day in San Sebastian, one problem leading to the other. I realized there was dust “on” the viewfinder, it wasn’t the lens, mirror or sensor, so all came down to the focusing screen. Trying to clean it with the air rocket resulted in a small streak of liquid adding to the disaster, trying to wipe it away with the cleaning pen ended up in the fabric of the pen falling apart leaving fluff on top of it, and when I carefully used the micro fiber cloth to at least see something again the dust turned out to be sand (no clue how it got in there, 7D and L lenses …) and scratched the focusing screen – argh! Went to all the shops, no replacement part available officially or unofficially, “luckily” Canon Germany is a stone’s throw from my parents house, result: please leave your camera with us for eight! days. Excuse me, for a plastic part that is held in place by two screws and a retainer? Amazon Prime later the only available focusing screen for the 7D (who needs one with the LCD built in, right?) arrived.

Swapping it was easy, it came with two finger gloves and tweezers, one minute later the procedure was over and the patient back alive. The screen is a tad darker and has a grainy texture compared to the original, both of which you will forget soon. The interesting part is the prism and cross section to see if your focus is right, and I have to say it is a great feature. Thanks to the mostly spot on autofocus it is not needed, but it’s a nice safety net, or when shooting in scenarios where the AF waves the white flag.

Delamax Schnittbild-Mattscheibe 180°

Lowepro Apex 60

The Apex 20 on each side of the shoulder strap are doing a good service for all the small parts, extra battery, extra CF card, micro fibre cloth, iPad adapter, USB cable, handkerchiefs, headphones, earplugs, sleepmask, bubble gums, aspirin and so on, but I wanted something about twice the size for the kidney belt straps to store filters etc. Short story: The Apex 60 is doing a perfect job, and for holding a lot of other medium sized items when you need them to be at the ready – recommended.

Kaiser Cube Studio 50cm lighting tent

A lighthing cube/tent was in order for some future product photography, mainly to add my own pictures to the reviews of new equipment I am buying, we don’t want to be stealing from others, right? 50cm was the tagline I had in mind, it had to be solid, easy to store and come with a front cover. The Kaiser Cube does it all, it folds like a reflector, making it easy to bring along if you need it elsewhere, has two backgrounds with two different colors each (four in total) and makes a rather good impression. The only thing I am worried about for the not imminent future is whether it is build to last or not, in terms of folding it forth and back, but again nothing to complain for spending 45€.

Kaiser Cube-Studio (90cm) – the 50 does not have any pictures, thus the 90

B+W 77 ND 10 stops (3.0/1000x)

This time I had more luck with the 10 stop ND filter (first try and what does a ND filter do). Definitely going to put this to use soon (would be silly to buy it otherwise, derp).

I hope the above info was useful for you, again, any more in depth questions or updates on something I left out, leave a comment below – thanks :).

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