May 242013
 

Try a Think Tank Retrospective Bag for FREE, and if you like it, pay for it!

Think Tank Photo has an awesome promo running right now on their popular “Retrospective” bags. These are high quality bags chock full of functionality. I reviewed one of them a while back HERE with a video review. Great bags but maybe you are not sure if they would work for you? Well, the great news is now you can try one for free. You simply follow THIS link, read the details (which I am posting below) and place your order. When you get the bag you get to try it for 30 days. If you like it, keep it and Think Tank will charge you after 30 days. If you do not like it, just send it back before the 30 days and you will never be charged. Truly risk free.

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DETAILS:

What is the Test Drive program and why are we doing this?

Our Test Drive Program gives you two full weeks to test the product in real-world circumstances, giving you a risk-free opportunity to determine if it’s the right bag for you before you buy.

We depend on photographers to give us ongoing product feedback. Your input on our products influences current product updates and future product development. By offering this program, it allows our products to be thoroughly tested in the field by photographers in the widest variety of circumstances and environmental conditions. If you decide to return the bag, then all we ask that you provide us with feedback and suggestions on how we can improve the product to better fit your needs.

If you decide to keep the bag, we will then charge your credit card in approximately one-month after you’ve placed your order.

Note: ATM/Debit cards are not accepted. If you purchase a Test Drive product with a debit card, your account will be charged immediately.

When is the Sign Up Period?

The Test Drive program will run from May 15, 2013—June 15, 2013 or while supplies last.

START YOUR TEST DRIVE NOW!

May 242013
 

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Refurbished Leica M 240 Available for $6750 – Direct Link

A refurbished Leica M 240 is available on Amazon through a third-party seller “Focus Camera” who has a 97% rating on Amazon. You can see the details HERE. I am sure this will go FAST but a refurb already? Lol. Seems as though Focus Camera is keeping a 4.8 star rating out of 5 recently so looks like a safe bet. Leica refurb always come with warranty so if you have an itch for a 240, Go get it!

May 152013
 

INSANE Deal of the Day! The Panasonic GX1 for $249 at Amazon, Prime Eligible

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WOW!!! This is a giveaway and will not last long. The Panasonic GX1 is being cleared out at Amazon right now for $249. New in box GX1 Micro 4/3 body, $249. This was the main competitor to the E-P3 and while I preferred the Olympus E-P3, the GX1 was considered the comeback camera from the original GF1. If you want one, get it now at $249. They will not last!

BUY THE PANASONIC GX1 HERE for $249!

If you want a perfect lens for this camera that you will ADORE, go for this one.

May 122013
 

Olympus PEN E-P5 and all black Lenses now available at Amazon for pre-order

The new Olympus PEN E-P5 and all new accessories and black lenses are now available at Amazon and B&H photo for pre-order. THESE ARE ALL scheduled to be released and shipped by June 15th – about 30 days from now but 1st come, 1st serve. Amazon does not charge you until the item ships, not even an authorization. B&H does not charge you but may do an Authorization at the time of order. Both are easily canceled online if you change your mind. Links below:

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The best bang for the buck is to get the package with lens and EVF which saves you some cash..to the tune of $

The Silver Kit:

Amazon – Olympus E-P5 Silver with black 17 1.8 Lens and new VF-4 EVF – $1449

B&H Photo – Olympus E-P5, Silver with black 17 1.8 Lens and new VF-4 – $1449

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The Black Kit:

Amazon – Olympus E-P5 BLACK with black 17 1.8 lens and new VF-5 EVF – $1449

B&H Photo – Olympus E-P5 BLACK with black 17 1.8 lens and new VF-5 EVF – $1449

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The new EVF – VF-4

Amazon – VF-4 – $279

B&H Photo – VF-4 – $279

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The new Black 75 1.8 Lens (see my review of this amazing lens HERE)

Amazon – The black Olympus 75 1.8 Lens – $899

B&H Photo – The black Olympus 75 1.8 Lens – $899

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The new Black 45 1.8 Lens (Review Here)

Amazon – The black Olympus 45 1.8 Lens

B&H Photo – The black Olympus 45 1.8 Lens

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The new Black 17 1.8 Lens (Review Here)

Amazon – The black Olympus 17 1.8 Lens

B&H Photo – The black Olympus 17 1.8 Lens

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So who and why should you pre-order? If you know for a fact you want this new E-P5 or any of  these lenses, pre-ordering ensures you get them 1st, when they are released. Sometimes, like with the OM-D E-M5 there is huge demand and when the camera ships, they are not available as they are all shipped to those who pre-ordered 1st. Pre-ordering is a zero risk thing to do. How so? Well, you do not get charged until the item ships. For example, I pre-ordered the silver set at Amazon with the new EVF and black 17 1.8. I did this so I can review it and get it when it is released. My debit card (I do not believe in credit cards) was not charged, nor was it authorized. It will not be charged until the items ship on or around June 15th. Anytime before this I can go into my Amazon account online and cancel my order or change my shipping speed. So if I decide in 2 weeks that I don’t want it, I can cancel it – no harm.

When the camera does ship..what if it sucks? What if I hate it? What if it has quirks? Easy, I can return it for a full 100% refund. I log into Amazon, go to my account and find the order. I click on “return item” and instantly Amazon presents me with a UPS shipping label I can print or they offer me the option of having UPS pick it up from my home on the next day where the driver will have a label. All I have to do is box it up. When I return an item to Amazon, my refund is usually processed as soon as they see UPS have picked it up from me or when I have dropped it off at a UPS location. Amazon has the best return process in the business, just do not abuse it.

When a camera is returned to Amazon (as long as it is not a defect) they sell it as used at a discount, sometimes pretty nice discounts. They do not resell it as new, ever.

I have been shopping with Amazon for MANY years and have bought many items from them. I have returned a few as well from Headphones, Cameras, Lenses and other misc. items. Never an issue or problem. Always a joy.

So pre-ordering a camera is actually quite smart if you know you will want it. It makes sure you get it when it is released and that you will not be waiting in some line for your name to come up. That is how I get most of my cameras 1st :)

As I have done in the past over the last 5 years, I provide pre-order links on new cameras and lenses for your convenience and also because it helps this site to continue on. When you use those links above, I get a small percentage that helps pay for web hosting and all of the other expenses that add up to run this site (which are much more than you could know). That is the only thing that keeps this site rolling along. So thanks in advance to anyone using my links for their purchase. It costs you nothing more at all, but really helps me out. So thank you :)

May 082013
 

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The new Think Tank Mirrorless Mover Bags – Video Review

You can buy these great affordable bags direct from Think Tank Photo HERE

Take a look at the video review below of the entire line of Mirrorless Mover bags. These include the 5, 10, 20 and 30i. 

Hello to all and Happy Wednesday! It is mid-week and flying by as usual, especially for me as I always have new gear flying in and out of my house, lol. Today I have the brand new set of camera bags from Think Tank Photo, the Mirrorless Mover series. This series consists of four different size bags for your mirrorless or even Leica camera system. They are specially made for the small size/high quality camera market and these bags are all high quality in construction, have loads of features and are some of the most well thought out bags I have seen. They look great, feel great, have metal hardware and quality zippers. A magnetic folding front flap and most models have an iPhone/Smartphone holder as well as SD card pockets. They all feature a “raincoat” in case you get in a wet situation and the best part is they are pretty much dirt cheap in cost for what you get. Priced from $35 to $70 you get quite a bit for your money here and these are highly recommended by me. In fact, these now get my “Best Buy” pick for your mirrorless camera bag needs. Nothing beats them for the price, nothing. While not “Luxury Bags” with leather trim and fancy looks, these bags are much more functional in design and use, which is where it matters.

The 30i, the largest and most functional of all the bags, under $70!

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When I did the video review at the top of this page I had no idea how much these were going to sell for as they were not launched yet. I assumed the largest and most functional 30i bag would be $149. It is under $70! This bag will even hold your iPad safely and snugly inside along with your camera, 3-4 lenses, charger, batteries, cards and phone. It is also the choice for Leica users as the 30i is “Leica Size” and easily holds your M and a few lenses with accessories. All in a good-looking and super functional design for under $70.

You can see more info or buy these great affordable bags direct from Think Tank Photo HERE

Apr 012013
 

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The Leica Monochrom is IN STOCK

The Leica Monochrom is a special camera, plain and simple. It is the only camera in the world that is dedicated to B&W photography. Simplicity, Beauty and that CCD sensor that resolves with insane detail and medium format like qualities. Much has been written about the camera here on this site in my own reviews and others who have written about it (see Leica reviews here). There are many passionate users of this camera who love it to death and see it as a “desert island” camera. Most who own it never want to lose it. With that said, it is $7995 and in today’s world that is a ton of cash to lay out for a camera that only shoots B&W. But if that is what you are all about, the MM is fantastic. A work of art really. While the new M can do convincing B&W, it can not resolve the detail of the MM nor can it give you the same tonality or “look”.

It is a controversial camera but I think most agree it is a wonderful tool, perhaps Leica’s best digital camera ever.

The good news is that I found out today that many dealers received new batches of the MM and they are in stock at the links below :) All of them are site supporters so I help support them when I can!

Ken Hansen – Email him at [email protected]

PopFlash.com – He has two, even a used “like new’ one at a discount

The Pro Shop – They have them as well. Website here or you can call them at 561-253-2606

Dale PhotoDale has one HERE

some of my fave Mono shots. New ones coming soon :)

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Mar 062013
 

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COMING SOON: Leica M 240 review, Fuji X100s Review and more!

 

The new M..review is coming

Hello to all! Happy Wednesday! I know many of you come here every day for something new so I just wanted to give you an update as to what is coming in the next 7-14 days as well as let you know of some cool rare items available for purchase.

The Leica M 240 has been in my hands since the moment it arrived. I have been shooting with it non stop, taking video, testing ISO, comparing it against the M9 and RX1 and having a good time in the process, It is always fun to shoot with a new Leica, even if it is a controversial new model! I have been shooting with a 35, 50 and 75 and each lens has delivered without issues. I have been testing the EVF (BTW, the Olympus VF-2 works exactly as the Leica EVF as they are the same but it says OLYMPUS instead of LEICA..yes, I have an Olympus and have shot it on the M without any issue) and even the add-on Microphone.

Each day after shooting I sit down for 2-3 hours and write down my thoughts which will then turn into my full real world review. Warning: It will be long. There will be many samples and full size downloads. There will be comparisons and of course all of  my ramblings and thoughts on the new M and wether it is an improvement or downgrade from the M9/M9-P/M-E. Stay tuned!

One thing is for certain, I am adoring the 50 Lux on the camera. That lens never seems to disappoint.

 

Fuji X100s!

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I have a Fuji X100s on the way from Robert Jagitsch. He is a Fuji dealer and also sells Leica as well. He informed me he has a Monochrom in stock. I do not know of anyone else who has one right now so if you are looking for one, Robert is a great guy and you can message him here. He set me up with my original Fuji X100 and now the X100s. Thanks Robert!

The X100s should arrive to me in the next couple of days so when it arrives look for my 1st look video and snaps and then a full review will follow but it will come after the M 240 review. Shortly after. Then I will probably offer the X100s for sale as I already have an RX1 and new M so I really do not need the new Fuji..unless it gives me some super-duper magic that the others do not give me :) We shall see. At the price point of $1299 the X100s offers quite a bit. I am excited to see how much better it is over the X100s in operation and speed and even IQ.

 

Leica glass…Black Paint 35 Summicron anyone?

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Dale Photo has a black paint 35 Summicron for sale in silver box and it looks brand new. My guess is a collector owned it at one time and never used it. I used to own this lens and I am an idiot for selling it. Was gorgeous and the best 35 cron I have owned. Black Paint lenses are now pretty rare to find and seem to fetch a pretty penny. You can see the one dale has HERE.

 

ALL Leica glass..

Ken Hansen (email: [email protected]) told me he has just about every and any Leica lens in stock. 90 Summicron, 50 Lux ASPH, Noctilux, you name it, he should have it RIGHT NOW. You can e-mail him at [email protected]  – get your desired lens before the new M mania hits :) Remember what the M9 did for Leica glass? I do.

The Pro Shop also has just about every lens in stock. You can call them at 561-253-2606. They are also now a Pro Nikon dealer. D4 in the house.

PopFlash.com has some crazy deals going on including a basically untouched Noctilux 0.95 for under $10k. A 75 Cron for $3397 and even a 35 Lux ASPH FLE for $4497. They also still have a few RED Artisan & Artist easy slider straps available. They sold out their 1st two shipments of the black one but still have some red HERE. The red is striking on an RX1, Fuji X100s and black M. :)

 

WIN a Moncochrom by entering the I-SHOT-It premium contest

Wow, I checked on the B&W photo contest over at I-SHOT-IT today and so far the cash prize is up to $5,230 and they are also giving an $8000 Leica monochrom to the winner. The contest has under 30 days to go and I bet the cash prize gets up to $6-$7k by the time it is over. Imagine winning a Monochrom and all of that cash just by entering a killer B&W photo. I love what they are doing over there. You can check them out here or see who has entered what in the B&W contest HERE.

 

Feb 142013
 

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A Day of Deals: Fuji X-E1 and X-Pro 1 Body and Lens Discounts

I usually do not post TWO camera deals in one day but I was just informed that B&H Photo is running a couple of Fuji deals on the X-Pro 1 and X-E1 bodies and I know many of you appreciate when I point out these specials as it saves you money. When you order a Fuji body at B&H you can also bundle lenses with them at a pretty substantial discount. For example, buy an X-E1 at $999 and you can add a variety of lens packages saving up to $913 if you go all out and buy the 35, 18-55, 60mm and 18mm. They have a few bundle options to choose from. How do you see them?

Click HERE to see the X-Pro 1 and link to available bundles

CLick HERE to see the X-E1 and link to available Bundles

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When you get to those pages you will see the text “Click Here to Save up to $913.85 with Lens Bundle…” – click that to see the available bundle offers for each body.

These deals expire on March 31st 2013, so they are good for the next month and a half.

BTW, also noticed they have lowered the price of some of the Macbook Pro Retina display models…

Feb 142013
 

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Nikon V2 arrives, but the original V1 is still a steal of a deal!

Happy THURSDAY to all! I’m having a great and happy day as always and not because it is valentines day (for me, every day is valentines day) but because a new camera arrived this week for me to review and it is none other than the Nikon V2. Yea, not so “new” but new to me!  I was not originally going to review the V2 but I figured that since I almost panned the V1 (the camera I expected to hate) I figured it would not be fair if I did not review it. What if it is flat-out AMAZING and kills the V1? Lol.

After a couple of days with it I can say the IQ reminds me VERY much of the V1 in color, tone, and look. The camera has a huge grip now, is not as ugly in person as it appeared in photos and is really fast thanks to its phase and contrast detect AF. Super early 1st impressions over the V1 (which I also have here) is that it is easier to hold, has physical control dials, and is built just as well. There are indeed improvements but are they huge? NO. With that said, is it worth a $600 difference in cost over the V1? Probably not since teh V1 is still available for such an amazing price.

The V1 is one hell of a little speedy camera that has fantastic color and “feel” even with the smaller sensor (that does put out a teeny bit of grain even at base ISO). In fact, in the past I stated I felt that the V1 has a filmic like  feel at times, depending on the light. Film, even ISO 200 film had  noise and some grit. So does the V series but not too much. They are very capable cameras.

The new V2 is just under a grand with two lenses, the 10-30 and 30-110. The V1 can be had (and there are still a few in stock at B&H at this price) for $399 with the same TWO lenses. Yes, the V1, the 10-30 and superb 30-100 for $399. I bought my son one and also bought one for myself (I sold my previous V1) because at these prices it is a steal.

So would I go for a V2 for $995 over a $399 V1 set? Well, it is very early for me to say but I will spill the beans in my upcoming V2 review. I will be reviewing it with the new 18.5 1.8 lens. My very 1st indoor test shot with the V2 is below and this is out of camera in my kitchen yesterday wide open at 1.8. The two shots under it were also shot wide open with the new 18.5  – you can click any image for a larger and crisper view :)

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What I find interesting is that the V1 and two lens kit is $1149 if you buy direct from Nikon:

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but click over to B&H and it is $399 for the same kit, and if you add the 10mm you get $100 off of that as well:

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Then we have the V2 and the same two lens kit for $996.95:

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So my Nikon V2 review will be coming soon as I will be shooting all weekend with it to see how it performs and feels over the V1. There will also be side by side comparisons with full size image samples, so stay tuned.

Feb 122013
 

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Amazing DEAL on Sigma NEX Lenses – $199 for BOTH the 19 and 30mm 2.8 together, $99 each!

The most amazing deal is still going in at B&H Photo and they have these IN STOCK. Both excellent Sigma lenses for the NEX Sony E Mount system – the 19 2.8 and the 30 2.8 (which you can see my review of HERE)  – both of them for $199 total, for both together! This is a STEAL. At $199 the 30 2.8 was already a deal. At $199 for BOTH it is a VERY crazy deal. These are good lenses and even come with cases. To be clear, you get BOTH lenses with cases for $199. Amazon has each lens for $149 which comes out to $100 more, so this is a great buy everyone!

Don’t miss out. If you want to take advantage of this deal, B&H Has them listed HERE. Last time they did this they sold out quick.

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Jan 242013
 

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Last chance for the Nikon V1 closeout deals…

B&H Photo must have had loads of Nikon V1 stock as they have been clearing them out for the last couple of months now. Last time I wrote about this deal I purchased one myself to give to my Son as part of his Christmas gift. He now shoots the V1 and it has pretty much replaced his aging D2h :)

B&H has raised the price of the V1 and 10-30 combo from $299 to $349 but they have other specials as well, one of which is the “superkit” featuring the V1, 10-30, 10-100 Power Zoom (which sells for $749 on its own), the Nikon lens adapter, the external flash and a bag for $799. Yep, $799 for the entire kit including all of the extras. It was not that long ago that a Nikon V1 and 10-30 would set you back $850. Today you can get the camera, lens, power zoom, adapter, flash and bag for $799!

I know many of you took advantage of the $299 deal for the camera and one lens just like I did and now I am tempted to grab this “superkit” as it is giving so much for the money. One could buy this kit and sell it in pieces and make money it seems.

Let’s see…

Sell V1 and 10-30 for $250

Sell 10-100 for $450

Sell adapter for $90

Sell Flash for $75

Sell bag for $20

If you took it all and sold it you would make just about $85 profit. Crazy!

The reason this post says “last chance” is because I heard it through the grapevine that there are not many of these left, and once they are gone they are gone. The Nikon V2 is out and going for $850 with just the 10-30 and from what many have been saying it is a small improvement over the V1 in the IQ dept. Nikon also recently released the 18.5 1.8 lens which you can read about HERE. Great lens for this system and under $200.

For anyone looking for a nicely built and made camera that puts out sharp detailed 10MP files with great color, the Nikon V1 is currently a steal. You can read my review HERE as well as Craig Litten’s review HERE. Craig LOVES his V1 and will most likely have it with him shooting during our Daytona Bike Week workshop in March!

Buy the Superkit HERE

The 10-30 Kit for $349 is here

The V1 with 10-30 and 30-110 for $429 is also HERE.

Jan 082013
 

Fuji X100s and X20 Available for Pre-Order at Amazon – $1299

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Amazon now has the Fuji X100s available for Pre-Order at $1299. You can check it out or pre-order HERE!

Yep, $1299 for the X100S which has the same body and style as the X100 but with the new improved X-Trans sensor, new Manual focus system, new phase detect super fast AF and more. Amazon does not charge you until the camera ships and you can cancel at anytime. By pre-ordering early you can be one of the 1st to get the camera. This is how I get all of my cameras that I am interested in, just by being early on pre-order lists. Amazon also has the best return policy around so it’s never a gamble. If you are someone who is upgrading to the X100s, I would get in now!

 

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 Amazon has the X20 for pre-order as well HERE

B&H Photo also has the X20 up for pre-order HERE 

 

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Dec 182012
 

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All you want for Christmas! Nikon Steals, RX1 Shipping, Pentax, Grado, Parrot Zik and more!

Ho Ho Ho! It’s almost that time again and I am sitting here writing yet another Christmas gift post. We only have just over a week until Christmas day and I am sure most of you have completed your shopping but I am sure there are a few stragglers holding out…waiting for that deal. Maybe some of you are looking for an X-mas gift for yourself after a year of hard work :)

This week I brought home a new gift for the family from a local dog rescue. A one year old Chihuahua named “Baby” who is super sweet (but now I know why she was named BABY). My old Scrubby is still kicking and looks like he will see yet another Christmas day, so for that I am thankful.

The Rescue Dog – Shot with the Sony RX1 at ISO 6400, no flash, f/2, indoor low light. Converted to B&W with Alien Skin Exposure 4

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So to all who are regular readers here and to those who may have just stopped by this one time, I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays/New Year. 2012 Was amazing for me yet again and I am expecting 2013 to ROCK. I already have one workshop in the planning stages in an AMAZING location with Ashwin Rao and another in an even more Amazing location with Craig Litten. Craig is actually putting on this workshop and when I saw where it was and what it would consist of I knew I had to be in on it. I emailed him and mentioned that we should do a team effort and I will at least be there to join Craig and all the others who attend. These two workshops will be quite special and will be announced soon and they may be the only two I am involved in for all of 2013.

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Deals and Steals on the Nikon 1 System are still here, through December 31st

With that out of the way, let’s check out some last minute gift ideas! I will start with that amazing Nikon V1 deal, which keeps getting better. I swear that B&H Photo must have had about 1,000 of these in stock as they seem to have an endless supply. STILL in stock and at these prices they are outright STEALS:

 

 

Nikon V1 and 10-30 for $299 - WOW!

 

Nikon V1 with 10-30 and 30-110 for $399 – WOWZERS!

 

Nikon V1 with 10-30, 10-100, Nikon Lens Adpater, Flash and bag for $799 – Triple WOW!

 

 

This V1 deal is damn good and while the V1 sensor is not the best in class (that prize is taken by the Sony RX100) the camera as a whole is highly capable of superb results with fast and accurate AF and super RAW files. 10Mp means small file sizes which means manageable files and the HD video is VERY good as well. Also has a Mic input if you want super QUALITY Audio to go with that video. Take a look at my V1 setup that I am just now starting to use for videos:

The Nikon V1 and Rode VideoMic Pro – $299 for the camera and lens, $299 for the mic :)

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That is a Rode VideoMic pro attached and let me tell you, this mic is a HUGE upgrade to ANY on camera mic. The sound quality is up there with more expensive mics and it even has three settings. One that is a normal audio level, one with a reduce level and one with a higher sensitivity and if you want to record sounds from afar, this will pick it up with crystal clarity. It’s $299 at Amazon or B&H Photo.

The Nikon V1 at ISO 800 with the 10-30 Kit Zoom. Indoor no external light source besides the floor lamp behind me.

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So overall, I’d get in on the Nikon V1 deal, even if it is for a gift. The person getting it will be like “WOW, this is a $900 camera” and believe me, this is so much better than any $250 point and shoot.

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How about a steal of deal on a Pentax K-01? 

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I reviewed the Pentax K-01 a while ago and could not fault its image quality one bit. My main niggle was no EVF nor a way  to even add one because the LCD in full sunlight was awful. The IQ with the included 40mm lens was stellar though. You can read my review HERE and FYI, Amazon has the K-01 on clearance with the 40mm 2.8 lens for $449 and they have most colors available as well. Click HERE for all of the K-01 Deals at Amazon. Great camera, odd design. If you happen to like the design it is a GREAT buy right now. I was even tempted at this price but I have to stop myself as I already own the next camera on the list and it is doing just about everything I need.

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The Sony RX1 – In stock on December 22nd with free next day air shipping! 

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Amazon has the Sony RX1 coming in stock on December 22nd (ships and sold from Amazon) and they are giving FREE Next Day Air shipping with it so you can get it BEFORE Christmas. Amazon is up there with the best of any online retailer and I shop from them just about every single week. Never an issue and the best return policy in the camera business (though B&H is a close 2nd). While not a steal or a deal, I know a few of you are waiting for this one to be in stock and Amazon is taking orders NOW for a ship date of December 22nd, just a few days from today. My fave camera and yes, I own one with the EVF.

You can order the RX1 here and if you do, it will ship on December 22nd. The cool thing is Amazon won’t even charge you until it ships, not even for an authorization.

BTW, dont forget to check out the amazing RX1 shots posted at this TUMBLR page as well as the brand new Facebook Group devoted to the RX1! The group is not mine but I will participate from time to time and I expect lots of good photos and info there.

BTW, if anyone in your life is searching for the best pocket compact camera, my vote goes for the Sony RX100. You can read my review here.

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DEAL ALERT! Cool point and shoot! Great for teens or anyone who wants a small P&S! $96 deal.

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The Nikon S-01 is a very cool little P&S and in chrome/silver it looks damn amazing as well. These are marked down from $179 to $96 and are decent performers and super pocketable. Amazon has them for $96 HERE. Probably the coolest P&S this season.

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Other gift ideas that get my stamp of approval…

Being a tech guy I am in to all sorts of things besides cameras. I love guitars, headphones, audio equipment and anything “techie”. Technology is amazing and I try out so much gear it is insane. What I have kept out of all of that gear can be seen below so if you are also a tech person maybe you will enjoy reading what I have to say about these items.

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The Bella Lumiere Swan LED Lamp Black/Red – Great for video blogging, conferencing, and more.

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I have been using this lamp on my office desk for a few days and have to say that I really like it. The cool thing about this lamp is that it has three color temperatures from super cool to super warm. The lighting is soft and perfect for video blogging which is what they market it as… For example..if you use skype for video calls or conferencing or blogging this thing is great. It brightens up your face with a nice soft and flattering light, instead of harsh ugly light. I have even used this for a couple of product shot photos. It is a touch lamp and you can even adjust the intensity of the light in 3 levels per temperature just by a touch. Here are the specs and  I have the red and black on my desk and love it.

  • Excellent light for video blogging, video conferencing, makeup application, reading, and task lighting.
  • Uses 13W DiCon Dense Matrix LEDTM technology
  • 3 color temperature settings: tungsten to daylight
  • Dome-shaped diffuser accessory provides smooth softening of light
  • Touch control intelligence for convenient dimming. Modern design with a flexible neck allows ease of use

When I 1st saw this lamp I was like “yea, why would I want or need a $149 lamp when I can go get one for $15 from Ikea”? But this lamp has found a place on my desk due to the softness of light and color temperature and intensity settings. It also looks great with its bendable head that is easy to position. Amazon has them in BLACK or RED for those who appreciate good tech and light. Bottom line? If you do lots of video conferencing or Skype this lamp can come in handy.

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Headphones that I own and use and LOVE! (I’m an Audio Geek)

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Love good sound and good design? I do  and when I sit and work for hours every day I sometimes enjoy music running through my Grado PS-500 Headphones and Grado RA-1 amp. I also enjoy the Grado SR-80 and at $99 it has some of the best sound for the money easily beating ANY of the popular “Beats” headphones that are so popular due to style (but their sound lacks big time).

One set of headphones that I settled on for travel and wireless use after testing about 15 sets is the Parrot Zik bluetooth headphones. These have been causing quite the stir and some love them and some hate them. Me, I love them! I have spent quality time with them and learned how to get them to sound their best and the coolest thing is that they are WIRELESS and have rock solid bluetooth connectivity with my Apple Devices.

They are build like $1200 headphones, sound like $350 headphones and have the comfort of the Bose QC15 (but beat then for build and sound) and just about the same level of noise canceling. You can use them wired or without wire but if you try to use them with the wire and no battery the sound will be awful. Wired with battery is awesome and wireless just as good. They lean on the more Bassy side but also have some detail. They do not resolve the details anywhere near what the Grado’s do but they have a nice pleasing sound that is not fatiguing at all. The video below is of my Grado PS500’s. Love them for my serious listening…

With the Parrot Zik You can even use the special App on your phone, iPad or device and control an EQ, Noise Canceling and the Hall effects (which are awful for the sound). Overall I use these wirelessly with only the NC turned on. I love them and they have been on my head every day while I work. I love that when I am needed in the house for something all I have to do is remove them from my head and they pause my music automatically. The touch controls on the side means you can change songs or volume with swipe of a finger. These are pretty technologically advanced headphones and I have used them for music, phone calls, and meetings and movies without fail. The only thing I can say is get an extra battery as the included battery will last about 6 hours when using only NC. With the EQ and other effects you are looking at 4 hours.

The Parrot Zik headohones are NOT audiophile in quality but they are perfect for travel and causal use. Their convenience can not be ignored, neither can their beauty. If you buy a set keep in mind that you must have a charged battery in them for good sound and I highly recommend to keep the hall and echo effects OFF. This only adds sibilance and a hollow sound.

They do great with rock, jazz or acoustic and while not a master of any of these Genres, they will please almost anyone except the super demanding audiophiles. If you want a travel headphone with KILLER sound but wired and without noise canceling then check out the Sennheiser Amperiors. Light, comfy, great build and style with amazing sound. $349 at Amazon. These beat the new Momentums for Sound quality and look amazing in the blue Aluminum finish.

You can buy the Parrot Zik at Amazon HERE. Extra batteries are HERE

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HOLD FAST GEAR! Amazing quality accessories…

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Hold Fast Gear sent me out a couple of products about a month ago as a gift..they did not even ask me to review the items. I was told they loved my site and they wanted to send me a gift to show their appreciation. Of course I know this was probably a way for them to get a review but I never did review the stuff they sent, mainly because I have yet to use the main product which is a cool as hell photo belt designed to hold your lenses and accessories on a shoot, and it is BEAUTIFUL and well made with amazing Leather. They also sent me a little leather wallet that I have been using daily and it is pretty sweet. Even has slots for SD cards.

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I suggest everyone check out HOLD FAST because not only are their leather products jaw droppingly beautiful, the packaging is something to behold as well. They have a mix of straps and accessories that some will enjoy. They are on the higher end of the price spectrum  but the product is HIGH END and gorgeous. If you check them out, tell them I sent you!

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The Scarabeaus – A new way to carry your camera with German engineering and build. 

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I have had one of these for a couple of weeks, and I am the 1st to be using one. The inventor of the product wanted me to try it out and see how I like it. Well, I have been using it and have to say it is a pretty unique invention that does what it claims to do, and it does it well. The Scarabaeus is a solid German made device that attaches to your belt and allows you to carry your camera holster style. It fastens in securely so no one can snag it from your belt and it is easy for you to remove when you need the camera. This is a quality piece of engineering and while I enjoy it, I can not say I would use it with my Leica M because of the size and the possibility to ding your lens on a wall or something near you. BUT for cameras like the RX1, RX100 and Micro 4.3 this thing is super cool. No straps, no weight on your back or shoulder, just your camera at your side locked in and loaded ready to shoot.

I used this device to carry the RX1 on a full day shoot and it was pretty amazing. Most of the time I forgot I was carrying the camera as you do not even notice it there on your side (unless you have something larger like an M).

This device is perfect for the smaller mirrorless cameras and is constructed of quality materials. Made in Germany with precision. You can see their website HERE though I have to say that the site is extremely basic. Just the image above with an order link. If you would like a camera carry solution and are sick of straps this could be just what you have been looking for.

There is one con though. If you need to change your memory card or battery you will need the tool to remove the device from the base of the camera (allen wrench). Other than that it is a cool device and invention that I will enjoy using.

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Ready Cap! Put an end to losing your lens caps!

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Ready Cap is a very cool device that straps on to your STRAP and it stores and holds your lens cap when you shoot! If you are like me then you have gone through your share of lost lens caps and this is a pain especially when you have to re-order a few Leica caps :) From $14.99 you can put an end to lost caps, period.

I tried out the system and it worked for me and was simple and easy. The holder stays on your strap and just by reaching over and snapping your cap in place you are in business. You can buy any size adapter ring for any size lens cap you may have. The system comes with one size at $14.99 and each additional size is $3.99.

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So basically for $20-$25 you can be all set and never lose a cap again. Very cool idea and works as advertised. You can check out more of this at the ReadyCap website HERE!

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THE MICRO LENS POUCH! A must have to store your lenses on the cheap.

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These are cheap and amazing for storing your lenses. I have several and they are soft, protective and come in sizes to fit any lens. They are also CHEAP. Here is the popular 3 pack for under $30.

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and finally, some credit where credit is due! Great new music…

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It may sound cheesy but I highly suggest anyone that loves music..hard driving rhythms, catchy hooks and rythyms and superb songwriting that makes you want to sing along loudly ..to check out the new CD from none other than 80’s sensation RICK SPRINGFIELD. His “Songs for the End of the World” CD is so good there is not one stinker on the CD. These sound modern, not like 80’s rehashes. I like a few Springfield songs in the 80’s, hell, all of us from that generation did but I have to say this is his best music ever. It’s not just me either, read the reviews at Itunes, Amazon or on the web. At 63 Rick can still rock and create some kick ass music. If you buy the CD all of the tracks are awesome but stand outs are #2, #3, #4, #7, #8, #9, #10, #1 and #11.

I am a huge Music fan but I enjoy everything from Jazz to Bluegrass to Soul to Rock to the Classics. This is a GREAT CD. My fave of 2012. Don’t believe it? Take a listen for yourself.

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Also, do not miss the 99 Years of Leica book! It is well worth it for any Leica fan!

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