What’s in my bag?

Hi folks,

I’ve been revising my travel gear.

Home brew canvas camera bag with waterproof padded insert, Olympus OM-D E-M1, M.Zuiko 12-40mm lens, XUME adapter and hi-vis (not so easily lost) πŸ™‚ 62mm yellow lens cap, Op/Tech – camera strap, wrist strap and hood/hat, LOMO waterproof dry box containing Anker USB powerbank, USB LED torch, charging cable and memory card storage case, 2 or 3 spare camera batteries in waterproof cases, Garmin GPS, filters in neoprene case, thinkTANK emergency rain cover, radio transceiver and waterproof case.

I have added stick-on indicators to the battery cases to let me know the charge state of the batteries and a thin cable tie to secure the lens cap to the XUME filter adapter so that it doesn’t detatch from the adapter. I’ve ordered some zip pulls to attach to the zips to make life a little easier when wearing gloves. I’m also adding some hi-vis reflective patches to my bag after nearly getting run over at night in an un-lit country lane in the Corfu countryside!. πŸ™‚ One of which I’m going to stick over the completely naff name plate on the front of the bag. I like to think that I have a degree of “charm” and “a personallity” but not stuck on the front of my bag! πŸ™‚

whats in my bag 1s

whats in my bag 2s

whats in my bag 3s

Kind regards

leigh sig 2

Born in the USA : Gear update – a few of my latest favourite things.

Hi everyone,

Here’s a few of my latest photo gear additions from Op/Tech, Think Tank and Manfrotto.

1. OP/TECH USA 1511372 Pro Loop StrapΒ 

OPTECH HOOD CAMERA STRAP

I’ve been using Op/Tech straps on my cameras for a few years now and found them very comfortable and durable. IΒ  was attracted to this neoprene strap not only for its comfort but for its quick release system connector mechanism. This strap has great ergonomics and really helps to cushion and spread the weight. It has a dimpled inner surface not shown in the above photo which helps to avoid slippage.

2.Β OP/TECH 1301042 Secure Its x4 System Connectors

OPTECH STRAPS

These velcro strips wrap around the quick release connector to add an extra layer of security and keep things tidy and free from snagging. You only need two but you get four in a packet. Nice to have spares and also for use with the wrist strap below.

3.Β OP/TECH 6701062 SLR Wrist Strap

OPTECH WRIST STRAP

Interchangeable with the Pro Loop strap as it uses the same connector system.

4.Β OP/TECH 8001112 3.5″ Small Hood HatΒ 

OPTECH HAT SMALL

Made out of neoprene it fits snugly over my M.Zuiko 12-40mm PRO lens with the lens hood attached and gives an extra degree of protection from knocks and the elements. It is also quick to fit and remove. For even more added protection in transit it can be still be used with a conventional lens cap fitted if desired.

Β 5. Think Tank Emergency Rain Cover (Small)

think tank emergency rain coverΒ 

I’ve been looking for ages to find a quality made affordable rain cover and this really fits the bill. It is lightweight and comes in a small pouch which takes up no room in my camera bag. It attaches around the front of the lens and also to the camera hot shoe and has a large transparent panel at the back so that one can see the viewfinder, LCD screen and camera controls etc.. It also has a draw-string fastener at the bottom and is also available in a larger size to fitΒ  longer lenses.

It has room to get both of one’s hands inside. It is a very cost effective alternative to their more elaborate HydroPhobia product as it isΒ  designed for those, who, like me,Β  want to carry a small and quick and easy to attach, well made, rain cover. I bought the Op/Tech wrist strap specifically to use with this cover. It’s also nice to see a manufacturer catering for mirrorless cameras!.

6. Manfrotto XUME adapters.

XUME

I’ve had these a while now and they make changing filters incredibly quick and easy. They comprise of two parts, a quick-release lens adapter which screws on the lens and a quick-release filter holder in to which you screw on the filter. The two parts attach with a strong magnet and quickly pull apart and snap on so no need for time-consuming screwing/unscrewing the filter and risking wear and cross-threading etc..

Interestingly all of the above products are made in the U.S.A. I’ve found other products from the U.S.A like my multi-port Anker USB chargers and power banks to be reliable and really well designed and manufactured. I have absolutely no affiliation with any of the companies mentioned in this post.

Kind regards

leigh sig 2

Why I take protecting my gear from water seriously!

Hi everyone,

A friend of mine laughed when I mentioned the steps I take to protect my gear from water. He said “You’re going to a hot country, why bother?, it’s not going to rain!”. Well I’m pleased that I did. Two days in to our trip we got caught in what I can only describe as a monsoon in Corfu Town, the heavens opened up and the streets resembled small streams, we were wading through water in some places ankle-deep and got absolutely soaked to the skin but, unlike us, all my gear stayed bone dry. πŸ™‚ The day had started hot and sunny with no indication of what was going to happen.

The second occasion was potentially much worse as we got very wet on a boat trip to the extent where one could brush off the salt spray from one’s skin when it dried and salt water is much worse than rain water for damaging one’s gear. My canvas bag got pretty wet but, thanks to my efforts to water-proof my gear, again everything stayed bone dry.Β  I’ve been on boat trips in Greece, Malta and Italy before and had previous experience of this so was forearmed!. πŸ™‚

My first layer of protection is the bag itself which will keep off light showers and inside that a “water-proof” padded insert inside which I carry my camera gear and for added protection when I deem it required my camera and attached lens inside a neoprene case.

Equally importantly is protecting my spare batteries, memory cards and GPS data-logger as shown below. The batteries are in waterproof storage boxes inside a waterproof plastic case. The memory cards are inside a storage case protected by a neoprene case and, as with the batteries, a waterproof plastic case giving them three layers of protection and my Holux GPS data-logger is protected by a blue plastic latching waterproof case. If I’m 110% sure that the chances of rain are absolutely nil and to make battery and memory card changing a tad faster and/or to save a tiny amount of weight I can omit the two orange plastic case cases but they weigh so little it’s really not worth it.

waterproofing

Maybe I’m paranoid about protecting my gear from water but it’s certainly paid off on several occasions. Without the protection the thunderstorm in Corfu Town would have damaged if not ruined much of my gear and there’s always the risk of short-circuiting batteries, a risk I’m not prepared to take. Expect the unexpected!.

And my Anker 5-port USB charger, shown here simultaneously powering/charging a camera battery, my 1 Terabyte portable hard disk and mobile phone connected via a powered USB/SDHC card reader hub, GPS data-logger and spare vape battery with one charging port free once again proved invaluable. πŸ™‚

battery charging

Kind regards

leigh sig 2

 

D.I.Y camera rucksack

Hi everyone,

Thought I’d share this. I bought a cheap webbing rucksack (Β£11.99), a padded camera insert (Β£13.24)Β Β and a XXL 40L capacity fold dry bag (Β£11.90) and made myself a spacious, waterproof, lightweight camera rucksack for a fraction of the price of a shop bought one.

  1. Rucksack

Rucksack1

2. Showing waterproof dry bag closed.

Rucksack 2

3. Showing dry bag opened and padded camera insert.

Rucksack 3

4. Camera insert opened.

Rucksack 4

The rucksack also has one large front pocket and two generously sized side pockets. My SLIK tabletop tripod/chest pod fits very well in one of the side pockets. All told it afford three layers of water protection. Four layers actually if you consider that my camera gear itself is pretty waterproof πŸ™‚

Kind regards

leigh sig 2

 

I’m sold on monopods

Hi everyone,

As you will have noticed I’ve been getting in to panoramas quite a lot recently. I’ve always hated tripods as they take time to setup and collapse and have to be carried around all day by me on foot and don’t suit my style of picture taking at all. Having said all that, I have just bought and tried out for the first time yesterday, a new monopod.Β  I had one years ago and haven’t the vaguest idea where it went but somehow I parted company with it. All my panoramas have been done hand-held and it works pretty well but it’s hard not to tilt upward or downward as one moves around and although the images align well one looses real estate and therefore the image isn’t as big as it could be.

Enter the monopod, for my usage it works very well. The panoramas I took yesterday down by the river stitched together with very little wastage and I’d say the usable area was at the very least 95%. I found it best to push town on the monopod and rotate myself around the axis giving about 30% overlap in the images. I also turned on the in-camera viewfinder spirit levels and the monopod makes them usable whereas with hand-holding they don’t help one little bit. If you can hand-hold and keep both of the levels centered and do this for a series of shots then I’m in awe of your stability!. πŸ™‚

As is my way I’ve started with a pretty cheap although study model with a simple ball and socket type head with quick release plate, the same type as fits my SLIK tabletop tripod/chestpod, and free delivery (standing joke) πŸ™‚ . I’m thinking that one with the fold out legs at the bottom might be my next investment once I’ve finished putting my current one through it’s paces. I particularly like that the model I bought extends to good comfortable working height and weighs only one pound.

Another thing I’m keen to try out is to hold the camera fitted with wide-angle lens mounted on the monopod above people’s heads and use the programmable timer function to take a series of shots above the crowds. Something that would have really come in useful with the hoards of selfie-stick waving tourist and tour guides adorned with their umbrellas topped with fluffy gonks at all the tourist spots in Prague who were seemingly trying their best to decapitate me. Generally-speaking I don’t really want people in my shots, one of two maybe but not huge crowds of them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not being anti-social, in fact some of my best friends are people!. πŸ™‚

Best wishes

leigh sig 2

Cheers, a clean sweep!

Hi everyone,

What a lovely way to end the month, a clean sweep!, top 12 images and 14 in top 16 in the Olympus UK users most popular gallery listing πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ Brilliant publicity! 🍷

oly gallery clean sweep top 12 31 05 2018.jpg

Cheers

leigh sig 2

UPDATED: Travel storage for my battery chargers etc. + battery safety tips.

Hi everyone,

Regular visitors to my blog will know that every once in a while I publish an article on equipment and what works well for me. This isn’t so much about camera equipment but more about the equipment that I take with me for USB charging/powering my various pieces of photographic and other kit like my mobile phone, Holux GPS bluetooth data logger etc. when travelling. I’m heavily in to USB charging. πŸ™‚

Some while ago I came across a very niceΒ  “waterproof?” zip-up transport case for my chargers and cables etc.. The case has a lot of handy compartments.

Bottom compartments.

travelling kit 1

  1. Small wireless keyboard, micro USB charging cable and OTG micro USB adaptor + USB receiver. Works nicely with my mobile phone and makes typing a lot easier.
  2. 4 x AA USB battery charger for my Garmin GPS batteries.
  3. Anker 8 Amp, 5 port USB charger which charges 5 device simultaneously.
  4. Olympus battery charger as a mains-powered backup or to charge another battery at the same time (If I’m ever lucky enough to have a room with more than one accessible mains socket) πŸ™‚ , accepts same figure of eight mains cable as Anker charger.
  5. USB battery charger for Olympus BLN-1 batteries, really useful bit of kit.
  6. Additional waterproof camera battery storage boxes.
  7. UK figure of 8 mains lead and continental 2 pin adaptor.
  8. USB-charging Bluetooth headphone (I like my music when I’m travelling πŸ™‚ )
  9. Backup mains-powered USB charger, just in case πŸ™‚
  10. Spare lens wipes.

Top compartments.

travelling kit 2

  1. Figure of eight European mains cables for Anker and Olympus chargers.
  2. USB volt/amp meter, quite useful for checking charging.
  3. Wireless camera remote control transmitter.
  4. Small flash gun as I very rarely use flash.
  5. Wireless remote control receiver.
  6. Cable for wireless remote control.
  7. USB LED torch, surprising how often this little fella comes in handy when used with one of my various USB powerbanks.
  8. Micro USB charging cables, I always carry lots of these πŸ™‚
  9. Multi-port USB/SD/Micro SD card reader/Hub and USB power cable.
  10. OTG 128 GB Sandisk micro USB/USB drive, 64 GB Flash drive and backup SD card reader. I sometimes swap these for a 1TB portable USB hard disk but I like the option to have multiple storage backup solutions.

This case works well and stops all my gear rattling around in transit. I never carry my rechargeable camera batteries and powerbanks in hold baggage as they’re not allowed. They travel in my hand luggage in a multi- compartment, flame-retardant LIPO-safe bag which makes it much easier to explain at airport security scans.

BATTERY SAFETY TIPS.

Nearly all my rechargeable batteries including my small USB powerbanks are of the Lithium Iron type,Β  only my phone has a Lithium Polymer type battery. I feel it makes perfect sense to transport them as safely and securely as possible paying particular attention to preventing shorting of battery terminals. Which is why I always carry my spare camera batteries in small waterproof latching plastic boxes when out and about and not loose in my pocket rattling around un-protected with a bunch of keys or other metallic objects.

If anyone wants to view a very sobering demonstration of what happens when one short circuits a lithium battery then watch this videoΒ https://youtu.be/HCGtRgBUHX8Β and water does not extinguish these battery fires, Co2 type extinguishers do. I guess the take home message is “stay safe and look after your batteries and they’ll look after you”.Β I never leave battery charging un-attended and that’s another reason why I like being able to use USB charging ofΒ  multiple batteries at the same time as it minimises one’s turn around time. I’d rather be out and about taking pictures than waiting for batteries to charge up when one’s time is limited. πŸ™‚

Noticed and corrected an amusing typo: I put “carb” reader, must be my conscience kicking in πŸ™‚

PS. Anker USB charger hooked up for simultaneously charging mobile phone, Holux GPS data logger, Olympus camera battery, rechargeable AA batteries and Anker Astro 6700 mAh powerbank. I’ve got to work on my cable management. πŸ™‚

charging connected

 

Kind regards

leigh sig 2

Geotagging I wouldn’t be without it.

Hi everyone,

I wouldn’t be without my GPS for geotagging, such a useful tool for remembering where one took a shot especially when looking back weeks or months later. Actually I’ve always had a bit of a fascination with maps, I don’t know exactly why, maybe it’s something about seeing things in a different way which is probably why I studied Geographical Information Systems for my degree. πŸ™‚ Β I took my small Garmin GPS with me on my trip to Brussels and it’s pretty darned accurate. Shots taken at Mini Europe and the Atomium and their corresponding recorded GPS position. I use Geosetter free software to geotag my shots. It only takes a few minutes to geotag shots to a GPS track.

gps1 for bloggps2 for blog

Best wishes

Leigh

Isn’t she beautiful!

Hi everyone,

In addition to my most sincere thanks to Olympus, all I can add is isn’t she beautiful!. I love the titanium, reminds me so much of my favourite titanium-bodied OM cameras.

Whenever I get a new camera the one thing that I habitually forget to do in my haste to try it out is to change the viewfinder diopter correction adjustment to suit my somewhat less than perfect eyesight. Not something that I’m slow to notice and correct when everything in the viewfinder is blurred. πŸ™‚ Β This time I actually remembered to do it first and to my astonishment it was already set correctly. I can’t help but wonder did someone at Olympus look at my old camera and set this one up accordingly?, if so then the attention to detail is simply astonishing!.

Isn't she beautiful - OM-D E-M5 Mk II Titanium Limited Edition - small

Best wishes

leigh sig 2

USB, power/charging when travelling, the way to go.

Hi everyone,

Some while back I realised that USB battery charging is the definitely the way to go when travelling with my cameras and other gear. Apart from my camera equipment there are several other devices which I like to take with me such as my small GPS unit (used mostly for geotagging and time synchronisation), my mobile phone, my VX-7 amateur radio transceiver and various other battery powered devices such as my tablet. Each of these devices requires a mains powered wall charger. So, if I’m trying to charge them all at the same time after a day out and about I could easily need five wall sockets. If you’ve ever stayed in a hotel room with five wall sockets then I’m envious, you’ve obviously stayed in much better rooms than I have!. πŸ™‚ Β In addition some of these chargers are bulky, weighty and take up room in one’s case or bag and require travel adaptor plugs to fit the local mains sockets.

So here’s my solution, at the heart of things is my Anker 5-port USB charging hub. This small solid metal-cased device takes an interchangeable plug in mains lead so only one mains socket is required and has a hefty 8 AMP output across the five ports. This allows me to directly charge/power my phone and power my USB/hub card reader. To charge my Olympus camera batteries I have a very small lightweight USB charger and also a USB AA battery charger which will charge batteries for my GPS, my transceiver and any other AA battery powered device . I can also simultaneously charge one or both of my Anker USB powerbanks which in turn provides charging/powering capacity when I’m out and about. The AA battery charger and/or the camera battery chargers are also small and light enough to go into my bag and plug in to a USB powerbank and thus power/charge batteries on the go.

So I’ve completely said goodbye to wall chargers when travelling, maximised my baggage weight allowance and I don’t have to keep unplugging wall chargers and hunting for mains sockets, one working socket is all that I need. Furthermore it’s great to have the ability to power/charge devices when out and about.

If you’re going somewhere for a while where there simply isn’t a mains socket at all then the 20 AMP powerbank will power/charge gear for quite a while, I’ve run and charged my phone off of it for over a week on a single charge!. It also has three USB output sockets on it so you can if you wish plug in several devices at the same time. Another nice feature of this particular powerbank is that it has two input charging sockets so that it can charge faster, another benefit of having 5 ports on the USB charger.

Please contact me if you’d like more info on the above.

charging gear small

Best wishes

leigh sig 2

PS. One more thing, if you haven’t already stumbled across “pre-charged” AA rechargeable batteries then check them out as they hold their power up to 85% for a year I believe. I’ve never had to put this to the test but nice to know.