Results tagged “camera” from spare cycles

Gearing up for AToC 2009



The Tour of California is like photo Christmas for me. As it comes at the start of the season, I usually use this time to figure out what gear upgrades I want. Last year I ended up buying a Canon 40D body. I also got AquaTech rain cover and Canon battery grip, though those purchases came after I was thoroughly drenched at the Tour of California.

I was less extravagant with my upgrades this year -- unless you count the new MacBook Pro and Lightroom 2 upgrade several months back. I was thinking of getting a Canon 5D Mark II until negative reviews from photographer Liz Kreutz plus my own experiments with it soured me on its focusing performance. So, here's the list:

The needs were simple this time around. I'll be renting a 300 f/2.8 (from -- thanks Carson B), so I'll have more glass to deal with than usual. I normally just carry all my extras in my pockets and leave my backpack in the car (it's too big to work in close quarters with others). Now I'll be shifting to a belt plus harness that will let me keep my extra lens close by.

As for the PocketWizards and Gorillapod, I've been trying to maximize the number of shots I get per stop along the route. Without a setup to fire a camera remotely, I'm forced to stand in one spot. I can still swap between two camera bodies, but the composition for one of the two will usually be compromised. The PocketWizards are known as rock-solid remotes and the Gorillapod should let me position the camera where I want. If I even get one extra shot worth selling, they will pay off well.

And the haircut? It's hard to shoot with your hair covering the viewfinder.

During the Tour of California, there was two pieces of gear that really stood out as missing from my lineup: a proper rain cover and a battery grip. Getting rained on continuously perhaps exaggerates the overall necessity of a rain cover, but having gone through the same experience at Sea Otter and elsewhere, as well as having to deal with non-functional buttons the next day, I decided that I was done with plastic bags.

If you are going the plastic bag department, I highly recommend building up a stash of Apple Store bags. They make a bag that is about the right size for a 70-200mm lens, they're double-lined, and they have a drawstring. I didn't have a big stash going into the Tour of California and soon found myself raiding plastic bags wherever I could find them.

As for the battery grip, it wasn't that I was running out of battery juice -- I usually shot with one set in the morning and would switch to a fresh set before the finish. No, it's that a battery grip adds a shutter release button for when you're shooting portrait. If you're shooting a finish portrait-style and you're lined up shoulder to shoulder with other photographers, you can really start annoying people if you stick your elbow to press your regular shutter release. I found myself going to great lengths to curve my hand around the body of my camera so I could keep my elbow at my side.

So, now I have two new pieces of gear. The first is a Canon BG-E2N battery grip, which was fairly easy to choose: the Canon Wireless E3A grip is almost 5x as expensive and doesn't even extend your battery life, all for a feature that my Eye-fi does for almost as well for $99. I'm not a huge fan of the battery grip just yet: it adds the extra shutter button but I can't reach the little rocker knob while using it. As I use that rocker knob to select my autofocus point, I find the compromise of shutter over framing a bit much.


The second piece of gear is an Aquatech SS-200 rain cover, which fits my 70-200 f/2.8 lens. I ordered mine from B&H as Amazon doesn't offer these items directly. B&H also includes the all important information about having to order a camera-specific eyepiece with your Aquatech. Choosing the Aquatech over other rains covers was also fairly easy: every pro I've seen with a rain cover uses an Aquatech. They are far more expensive than other covers and you have to purchase a separate rain cover for each lens configuration, so be prepared. Another photographer I met managed to create her own rain cover using the sleeve from a rain jacket, which would be my route if I weren't as lazy.