Category Archives: Gear

The absolute best gear for photography! All of the items reviewed or suggested here have been used by me, or hasbeen recommended by people I know and trust. The best stuff might not be the cheapest, but more expensive doesn’t always mean better either. If you have any questions about which gear might be right for you, let me know, I mightbe able to help.

Over The Top Laptop for Photographers

Yesterday I posted about what I felt was the best laptop for photographers. One of the reasons I think it is so good for photographers is due to it’s compact size. Very easy to pop it in the camera bag and take it into the field with you. Today I’m looking at anotother excellent laptop for photographers, the ASUS ROG G751JY-DH72X 17.3-inch Gaming Laptop.

Weighing in at 8.4lbs, you may not be carrying this into the field much. Howevever this powerful behemoth is still highly portable, and lacks nothing in the way of features. First is a beautiful 17.3 inch full HD IPS display, backed by an amazing NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M Graphics card. There is simply nothing that this powerful pair can not handle. Watching blu-ray movies, Photoshopping, video rendering, or high-end gaming, the 32gb of ddr3  ram and 4gb of GDDR5 video ram can handle it all. With ease. Dual drive bays come stuffed with a super fast 512GB SSD for your os and apps, and a 1TB drive for storage.Asus ROG

Not only is this bruiser able to go toe-to-toe against the beefiest desktop PCs, it can do so in style. The ROG G751 retains the classic stealthy F-22 Raptor-inspired lines found on previous G Series iterations; only this time it sports an aluminum finish with an illuminated ROG logo. The G751 comes future-ready, supporting 4K2K HDMI output. Now you can connect to high-resolution screens that go far beyond today’s 1080p systems. Just plug in to experience immersive, true-to-life gaming. And with Trinity Display Technology, you can output graphics to three displays simultaneously via HDMI 1.4 or Mini DisplayPort 1.2. Watch a movie, browse the web, or game – all at once.

The service and support are still tops with the one year accidental damage warranty, and the zero bright dot guarantee for the first 30 days.

If you are a traveling photographer, or just don’t want to keep up with a desktop and a laptop, you can  have it all, AND take it with you with the ASUS ROG G751JY-DH72X 17.3-inch Gaming Laptop.




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The Best Laptop For Photographers

As a photographer and a nerd with 35 years in IT under my belt, I’m often asked what my recommendation is for a laptop by my photographer pals. The genre of machines built specifically for gaming may seem like the logical off-the-shelf solution, but that is not always the case. What makes the best gaming platform doesn’t always translate well for the needs of photographers.


While looking into a couple of potential machines for a friend today,  I learned about the ASUS NX500JK-XH72T. This is a monster of an UltraBook in a very sophisticated little .7” thin  aluminum uni-body package. What this beauty lacks in heft, it more than makes up for in must-have features and pure power.


This is a high end UltraBook mobile computer, and I believe it is the best laptop out there for photographers. Featuring the World’s First 4K2K Quantum-Dot Touchscreen Display, it has the highest resolution (3840×2160) of any laptop I have reviewed to date. Photoshoppers and video editors alike will appreciate the IPS display with 4k resolution. The NX500 delivers industry-leading color reproduction, allowing you to work with more than 16 million colors and fully utilize 100% of the RGB, sRGB and NTSC color spectrum. In fact, The color space available exceeds 108% of the larger Adobe RGB gamut!  The screen is factory color calibrated so you’re ready to go right out of the box.


With the Intel Core i7 quad-core 4712HQ processor, 16GB of 1600MHz DDR3L RAM memory and a super fast 512GB Solid State Drive, your Zenbook will start up in seconds, open large programs and files in a snap,  and have you happily editing away, right away. As if the processor, memory and solid state hard drive weren’t enough to outperform all but the most over-the-top custom gaming rigs, the NX500 is capable of handling even performing the most demanding tasks with the discrete NVIDIA GeForce GTX 850M graphics that includes a fast and ample 2GB of GDDR5 memory. Adobe Photoshop, and future versions of Lightroom will take advantage of this graphics engine and offload some of the work to the graphics processor, so large files and intensive operations can be executed with ultimate speed.


The list of impressive features doesn’t end with the marquee hardware innards. If you have ever used a backlit keyboard, you know it’s very hard to live without it. Standard on this model. The premium sound is delivered with quality and precision via audiophile caliber Bang and Olufsen speakers. That screen I mentioned earlier? Yeah, that’s a touchscreen. And not just any ordinary touchscreen. This screen features 10 points of precision. What does that mean you ask? Well, it means that with over 10 million pixels on the screen, you’ll be able to easily touch the individual pixel you need, even with big ‘ol sausage fingers. Even wifi performance has been improved. Marketed as “5G”, the 3 by 3  802.11ac wireless promises Ethernet-like speeds 3 times faster than wireless-N standards. The battery is nothing short of amazing for such a compact design too. Seven hours on a full charge and a 2 week standby time is as good as it gets today. A one year Accidental Damage warranty gives you protection against drops, spills and electrical surges. Asus has long been a favorite of mine, and I have confidence in their free 24/7 technical support line. If you ever need to send it in, they have 2-way free standard shipping for repairs.

Laptops have always been about compromises. For too long, photographers have been forced to choose from an awkward array of ill-fitting solutions. With the NX500, today is a new day. This one is for us.

List Price: unavailable
Sale Price: Too low to display.
(as of 09/21/2018 10:45 UTC - Details)

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First Shot

This is Lucy, blind since birth. She has no idea she’s blind.

Cat Portrait

Also posted in Posing

Ok Canon, Go Ahead And Announce Your Next Big Thing

Tripod Recommendations for Every Budget

Back in the summer I hosted an Exposure Roanoke discussion on tripods. The group learned several things that day: 1) I can talk about tripods for hours, and 2) For many types of photography, a GOOD tripod is every bit as important as the camera body and lens.

As a demonstration, I mounted a laser pointer on top of my camera, and attached my camera to tripods of varying quality. Watching the laser on a distant target gave a clear indication of how steady the camera was during the experiment.  With no remote shutter release, it was easy to see how much camera shake was introduced by my hand alone on the cheaper tripod. Even on the good tripods it shook a tiny bit while pushing the shutter button, so a remote release is highly recommended, or using the shutter timer feature will work as well. In all the test circumstances, the better quality tripods were far steadier than the cheap imitators.

A tripod is a very personal choice. What you need depends on how you intend to use it, and there might not be a single tripod that does everything you need it to. There seems to be an endless array of choices, and choosing the right tripod can be a frustrating experience. They all do essentially the same thing, which is to keep the camera steady when hand-holding is not practical. There are many different questions to ask when choosing a tripod: What should it be made of? How high should it be? How heavy or light do you need? How stable is stable enough? Will it work for my style of shooting? Will it support the largest lens I plan on using? How much does it cost? I weighed all these factors and researched tripods for a solid year and finally settled on the one tripod that best met my needs.

I am going to give a quick rundown on the major features and then give some specific models that you can check out.

  1. Tripod Construction Material and Build Quality.  The tripods I have experience with are either aluminum, or Carbon Fiber. I can’t say that one is better than the other, but carbon fiber is much lighter and very strong for its weight. Carbon fiber is much more expensive as well, but if you hike to remote locations, that lighter weight will be much appreciated. Quality tripods are well-built and reliable, but if things go wrong, you should be able to count on support from reputable manufacturers many years down the road.
  2. How Big (or small) should my tripod be? My advice would be that at a minimum, it should be tall enough to put your camera near eye level while standing, without extending the center column. If you plan on traveling, the total length of the tripod in its compacted form is a factor if you plan on packing it in your suitcase or stowing it in the overhead compartment on an airplane. Among the specs the manufacturers will publish is the maximum weight it will support. Cameras and lenses get heavy, pick one that will easily support the largest lens you think you’ll be using. Keep in mind that as your focal length increases, so does your need for stability. Don’t think if your camera and lens weighs 12 lbs, a tripod that says it will support up to 12 lbs is sufficient. Things can get a little shaky if you overload it.
  3. Does the tripod suit my style of shooting? My tripod has a feature that I can not live without, and that is the articulating center column. What that means is that my center column can be used in the standard vertical fashion, to give me a little extra height when needed, or, I can extend it horizontally and put my camera directly over my subject when shooting close-ups. Some models will only go 90 deg. horizontal, but my tripod will adjust infinitely within 180 deg from vertical. I can position the center column straight up to straight down, and everywhere in between. Not every tripod has an articulating center column. One other feature of my tripod is the infinitely positionable legs. Some legs will only let you spread them and lock in 3 or 4 positions, but I can put mine exactly where I want out to 90 deg., and lock it in place.
  4. What kind of Tripod Leg Locks do I need? Twist locks and lever locks are common. It is really a matter of personal choice, and one of the reasons you’ll want to try before you buy. I’ve used both, and find my current twist lock to be ideal for me. Twisties make the legs very streamlined with no protruding parts, and I can deploy and stow the tripod very quickly. I have had levers break and twisties over tighten on my cheaper tripods, so that is something to look out for.
  5. How much does it cost? A good tripod will not be cheap. A cheap tripod will not be good. As with many things in photography, there is no limit at the top end. The most basic, dependable, durable, affordable options have prices starting at around$150. There are some great choices in the $300-$800 range, and many costing much more. Those tend to be very specialized, and if you need one of those, you probably already know what you need.  If you are unable to get in to at least one of the recommended models, my advice would be to get the cheapest one you can find until you can. So many photographers I talk to have done the same as I did, start out with junk, then buy a little better, a little better, and 4 or 5 tripods later, end up with one that suits. Better to buy smart the first time. A good tripod should last 20 years or more, if you amortize the cost over that period, it may be easier to justify the sticker price.

So, all that said, through my research, I found several tripods that I can highly recommend:

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Tripod heads will be a seperate post, but here are a couple of proven winners to get you started:

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Also posted in Learning Photography