WE ARE UPDATING SOME OF THE STUFF IN OUR BACKPACKER'S STUDIO! WE ARE WORKING REALLY HARD BUT THERE IS A TON OF STUFF, SO KEEP CHECKING BACK! EACH SECTION IS GOING TO HAVE IT'S OWN BLOG POST WITH EACH ITEM HAVING MORE DETAILS!
We decided to add a video showing the backpacker's studio and how easy it is to assemble! We also take two minutes and set up a speedlight on a stand. Part two will include a demo of the gear and different light modifiers, so stay tuned!
So what is the backpackers studio (remember I am going to patent this saying so watch out you terminology robbers)? The backpackers studio is our lightweight and extremely portable studio that has helped us so much that we want to share it with you. Through our thousands and thousands of dollars of gear purchased we realized one very big thing:
LESS IS MORE!
So with this new found knowledge we put together, the backpackers studio. Everything we need to be able to take the pictures we want with as little gear as possible.
All the links you need to buy everything we use is listed. I am going to list everything we have in the bag, and I am in no way implying that this is the Golden List. This is just what has worked out well for US and we thought we would share.
If you have any questions just leave a comment and I'll answer ASAP!!!
One very big note!! We signed up for amazon and bhphoto affiliate link thingydoodlemabobbers so we will make cash if you buy from the links below (the darker gray is a link).
Our great money making idea number 11,365 (yes we've had that many more since the T-Shirt idea)
Radio Flash Triggers:
Nikon SB-28 is our preffered flash. Why?? They are cheap and powerful. We also have an SB-24 (in it's last throes), a Nikon SB-80DX (great flash if you can find cheap), an SB-800 (barely used, we should sell it and buy 3 more SB-28's) and a SB-600 (this is collecting so much dust we shoud give it away to science, their could be a cure for something in the dust. The flash is good, but NO SYNC makes it completely useless for us since we hate the slave adapters they break way too easily, but your mileage may vary).
***UPDATE: With the Yongnuo RF-602 triggers we can now fire the SB-600 without the need of a PC-PORT, this is awesome! The only thing I noticed was that the Yongnuo were not able to wake the flash from Standby mode, this could be just mine, my solution was to just turn the standby feature off!
We buy almost all of our flashes at pawn shops, craigslist and the amazon.com used department (whenever they have a good price)
An important note I want to make is that if you use radio triggers and shoot in manual mode, the brand of your camera or flash does not matter. You can fire a Nikon flash with a canon and vice versa!! The world can now be in peace at least when it comes to speedlight. You are not mated with any certain brand because of your lens investment!! YAY!!
Powergenix NiZn 1.6 Volt AA
The backpackers studio would not be complete without some batteries. Until the PMA's we where using Powerex Imedion batteries, which served us well. BUT, we were introduced to the Powergenix NiZn 1.6 volt batteries and we swear, these are the best batteries we have ever used. The main benefit over the Imedion's is the fact that they are 1.6 volts, this makes them recycle much faster than the Imedions. THAT IS AWESOME! We can not tell you how many photos we have missed because the flash was not charged. These are also slow discharge like the Imedions. We have come to love slow discharge because we don't have to charge batteries before every shoot just to make sure they are charged. These are a must have if you are looking for batteries.
Now for the downside, these are a new technology called Nickel Zinc which means....NEW CHARGER, you can't use the one for regular rechargeables with these batteries. The good news they are cheap!!! Below is the link for 4 batteries and the charger! Buy these with a quickness if you are looking for something to power your flashes!
A very big note! These are more powerful than normal batteries so if you are using older flashes be very careful! They have a lot of power that the new flashes can handle, but not so sure about the older ones. We killed an SB-28 with these!
Modifying the light is probably the most important aspect of photography. Without light, there is NO PHOTO! But light is not always in our favor, so sometimes we need to modify it. This is what we use for 100% of our Backpacker's Studio Shots.
Westcott 28" Apollo Softbox.
This softbox is always with us no matter what! I can not come up with the words to explain how useful this softbox is. It opens and closes like an umbrella and attaches to the umbrella bracket just like..well an umbrella. There is no softbox that can be setup faster in our opinion. And don't even get me started on portability!! If there is one thing that you should buy - THIS SOFTBOX IS IT! The ability to control the light this well will take your photography to another level. You can definitely buy this with your eyes closed, don't think twice. It's really that good.
50" Westcott Apollo Softbox.
The 50" is obviously bigger and less portable, but the light is spectacular!!Like it's smaller brother it opens and closes like an umbrella...a huge umbrella. Setup is extremely easy and like the 28", it also fits right into the umbrella bracket. I would start off with the 28" and then if you find it lacking in some way, buy the bigger one.
The light is beautiful, and when you are shooting more than 2 people, this is a must. Just be warned this thing is a sail in the wind! If you don't have an assistant, or a ton of rocks holding it down it will end up on the floor or very possibly in another state! Consider yourself warned!
Besides that, we love ours!
Photoflex 60 inch Convertible Umbrella
If you are on a tight budget and you can only afford one modifier, hands down this is it. This is simply the most versatile, portable and useful modifier in existence (in our opinion). The convertible aspect makes it either a shoot through, reflective or softbox mode light modifier and that just rocks. Check out our lightmodifiers part 2 video of the backpacker's studio to see it in action.
Trust us, you need this if you have nothing else!
Honl Grids for Speedlights
An essential part of the backpacker's studio. By using these grids we can get a big effect in a very small package. The grids come in a variety of sizes, we use the 1/4" the most. What the grids do is they turn your flash into a beautiful round light that can be used for some killer effects. In essence think of it as a big spot light. Very cool stuff. Just take a note that aligning the light gets a little tricky, but when you get it, it's completely worth it!
Here is a link to just one of the grids that we use the most, but there are some kits available. I would recommend them if it wasn't for that rip off of a snoot and that speedstrap we have yet to get to stay on (could be just us though). The speedstrap might be our fault, but the snoot is just a plane old rip off, I mean come on, $30.00 for a piece of 10"x10" fabric with a little velcro??? But that's just our opinion it's up to you, you wanna buy, go ahead.
***UPDATE: FORGET THE SPEEDSTRAP AS WELL, WE JUST STUCK SOME VELCRO ON THE SIDE OF THE FLASH -- WORKS GREAT!!
Gels are cheap and they do wonders. It's actually pretty amazing what a little bit of color can do to a photograph. These Rosco Swatchbooks are perfect fit for speedlights and did I mention they are cheap. Make sure you pick a few of these up, since each pack only comes with one of every color and once it's used and abused...well you get the point. We always walk around with 2 of these.
As far as sticking them to the flash...little bit of gaffer's tape goes a long way!
Manfrotto 1052BAC Air Cushioned Light Stand (NEW ADDITION TO THE BACKPACKER'S STUDIO)
What has to be the coolest thing added to the backpacker's studio as far as lightstands go, the brand spanking new Bogen 1052BAC are the sh*t when it comes to stands. Let me start by telling you that they are air cushioned, they fold flat and if that wasn't enough they stack together. So two stands stacked, is the size of one regular stand packed - OH YEAH!
Now for the downside - they are expensive. To us they are worth it, simply because we do not have the luxury of ordering from Bhphoto.com every time something breaks. So we normally buy the best from the beginning. The portability was a huge sell for us as we look for ways to make the backpacker's studio even easier to carry around.
So if you want to be like us, or think like us...buy these without worrying about the cashola. If you have a tighter budget, or simply do not bang gear around as much as we do...buy the stands below!
Click here to buy the awesome Manfrotto 1052BAC Lightstand from Bhphoto.com or as always, if you prefer to purchase from Amazon.com click here
The Apollo 28" kit comes with an umbrella bracket but to put it nicely - it BLOWS! It's a crappy bracket that has no way to tighten down the flash so the second you pick it up to get creative - arrivadercci speedlight! We highly recommend you spend the extra couple bucks on good brackets, but we understand it's not in all budgets. In any case, this is what we use:
Bogen 026 Umbrella Adapter
The Bogen 026 is one touch cookie. Made of steal, bronze and just a tiny bit of plastic this is our numero uno recommended umbrella bracket. The only downside, this sucker is heavy. But I guess we could use it as a weapon if needed. The only other downside is cost. It's pretty much twice as much as a cheapo brand at around $30.00 but well worth it in our opinion! We like to buy gear that lasts and most of the time it means a higher upfront cost, but lower in the long run....your mileage may vary though.
***Important note about these adapters: you also need to purchase the cold shoe adapter so that you can put your speedlight on it luckily there is a link right below this!
Cold Shoe Adapters
We use the Stroboframe brand because it simply rocks! But there are other cheaper alternatives, we would just hate to have to tell you we told you so!
OUR KICK BOOTY BRAND NEW CAMERA STRAPS!
Ok, so there is a small situation here. We met with two companies that had a very similar product...they both rock and it's totally up to you to decide which one is better. They do the same exact thing, so either purchase is a good one.
Black Rapid RS-7 Camera Strap
Ok, some people must be like HOW MUCH FOR A CAMERA STRAP! I know, this is totally anti-lightenupandshoot but hear us out! This thing has got to be the best invention since sliced bread for photographers. How can something so simple not have been invented a long time ago. Simply put, the camera strap rocks.
This is one of those things like TIVO, you never know how you lived without it until you get it.
No more neck pains, neck sweat or tourist looking strap. This thing dangles across your chest and this little lug attaches to the tripod mount of your camera. The camera dangles behind you, when your ready to take a shot, you simply pull it up. The strap doesn't move, but the camera does. FREAKIN GENIUS!!!
You do not understand how comfortable this thing is, you barely feel it on you.
Ok, so I'm done raving about this thing...but I have one more thing to say, if you've ever had a camera slide off your shoulder then RUN TO THE STORE AND BUY NOW...OK DON'T RUN JUST CLICK AND WAIT FOR UPS MAN!!
Here's a quick video to show you how cool it is before you buy:
Ok, so what has to be the second most important thing in our backpacker's studio besides the Camera is our business cards. When it comes to business cards we have found no better one's than the MOO cards.
They are extremely well made, thick stock and the best part is that you can get up to 50 different images on an order of 100 cards. That's AWESOME! It is a very big conversation starter and that is what is most important when you are handing over a business card.
Click on the image above to order!
Lowepro Slingshot 200 AW Backpack (DISCONTINUED SO PICK IT UP CHEAP SOMEWHERE)
The lowepro slingshot has been discontinued so you might be able to pick it up super cheap! It has served us well, but it does have a couple of downsides. The sling thing is cool, but after a long time of carrying it, it does become a pain in the booty. Also, the size is sometimes a little too small. Not for lacking space for camera gear, we just have to take another bag if we have a sleepover trip. The 70-200mm is also a problem as it is a very tight fit, besides that...a great bag if you can get it cheap.
We did see the replacement bag at the PMA's which Lowepro calls the Slingshot 202 AW. It's a little bigger so that is a big improvement, they also fixed the zippers a little, made them harder for stuff to fall out. The worst part is that like anything new on the market, a few improvements and a big price hike!
Lowepro Slingshot 202 AW Backpack
Just a few improvements, still trying to decide if it's worth it. If you know something we don't, let us know.
The stuff below is OUR personal preference but that does NOT mean your camera or lenses or whatever will not cut it. It's just what we use...so relax!!!
The link is to a Nikon D300s because the D300 is discontinued. We love these cameras, the autofocus, weather sealing and ergonomics made it our choice. But to be honest, we love just about any camera from every brand that is available. We don't buy them all for lack of room and money. So read this and memorize it, might be a famous saying one day.
I don't care what brand underwear you are wearing, why should I care what brand of camera you are shooting with.
Most used lens:
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8
Ok, we love our small portable primes, and hate carrying around this gigantic beast, but we simply love the images it produces. For our backpackers studio we try to carry as little gear as humanly possible. And so this lens wins. The downside is that this sucker is expensive. So if you are on a budget I really like the Sigma 24-60mm f/2.8 (note: I only loved this lens after it was calibrated by Sigma, but I bought it used so this might have something to do with it. It also has a slight tendency towards yellow, but easily corrected in Post)
And that ladies and gentlemen is our Backpackers Studio. We do have other stuff in it like, gaffers tape, extra flash sync cable and a flashlight. I will post all of the gear we have so that you gearheads can know it all, but this is what is ALWAYS with us, no matter where we go!!!
We've learned over the last couple of years, the lighter and less gear, the more and better photos you will take!!
Alright, buy whatever you need, shoot while it arrives, then when it arrives, go try the new gear and post some pics. We started a flickr group so that we can all post pics. Here's the link lightenupandshoot flickr group