Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Lowepro Passport Sling bag

The Lowepro Passport sling bag.
Some days when you don't want to carry a lot of camera equipment because you don't need to, you want something to put it in to keep it protected when you aren't using it. Some people don't like camera backpacks. I love mine...but for some people, they don't like a camera bag pulling down their backs. One solution is have a shoulder/sling bag.

For people who don't like carrying backpacks.
This is my third Lowepro bag that I have reviewed here on my site. I just wanted to let everybody know, Lowepro isn't paying me to do this. I have bought this bag with my own money. I have never had problems with my Lowepro bags that's why I keep on buying them.

Pockets on the side for stuff to put in
The Lowepro Passport sling has a couple of pockets around the side. You can use the pockets for holding documents such as maps, flyers, brochures, etc. This is especially useful when you're walking around lets say in a zoo where you need a map in hand. The outer pocket can also hold a small water bottle. In my sample, I am using a 16 oz water bottle with no problems at all.

Enough to hold a dslr with lens attached.
The inside of the bag has a camera compartment enough to hold a dslr with a medium telephoto zoom lens attached. In my sample shot I have my Canon 50D with a 28-135 lens attached to it. The camera can be placed on its side, or with the lcd at the bottom. It really depends on which position you are comfortable with. Next to the camera compartment, you can put an extra lens, or a speedlite, whichever you need more. In my sample shot, I used a Canon 85mm f/1.8 lens.

There are 2 extra little pockets inside too.
Two extra pockets inside enable you to store 2 long items...such as a tube of lotion, lip balm, memory card readers, etc.

The side of the camera compartment has a memory card pocket.
On the side of the camera compartment you'll find a memory card pocket for carrying an extra memory card with case. Lowepro usually has these in their bags which is really useful. Both my vertex and flipside camera bags have these too.

The removable camera compartment. 
One good feature of the bag is that you can remove the inner camera compartment if you need more room inside the bag. This basically converts this into a regular shoulder bag that has no dividers inside. The inside compartment attaches to the bag using velcro strips which are easily detached.
The zipper at the end of the bag unzips for more room.
At the end of the taller side of the bag, you'll find a zipper that you can unzip if you need more room in the bag. You just unzip it and pull the two opposite sides out. This expands the bag to make it bigger. Another very useful feature of the bag.

Here's a short video of the features of the Lowepro Passport sling.

So how do I rate the Lowepro Passport sling? With all the useful features and options, Lowepro simply designed this bag magnificently. The construction is pretty good, with materials that will seem to last for a long time. The price point is pretty good for this kind of bag too. Around $45-$60 online this deal cannot be beat. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Expert Shield screen protector

What comes with an Expert Shield package...of course camera not included. 
Camera lcd screens are prone to scratches. On some newer models like the Canon 5D MK2 and 3 and the Canon 6D the lcd screen has a special coat that minimizes glare and helps somewhat protect it from scratches. Although I still would want to protect that precious lcd screen from surface scratches from rough surfaces when you put your camera down...lcd facing the ground.

Expert Shield is a company from the UK that manufactures lcd screen protectors for your phone, dslr, tablet, and other devices. I was able to get a protector for my Canon 6D and decide to review it at the same time. I wanted to see how the Expert Shield is different from other screen protectors on the market.

The Expert Shield package comes with 2 items. The screen protector which is enclosed in a clear plastic bag and an lcd wipe. One thing I was glad to see was that the Expert Shield protector doesn't come with a liquid type spray that helps you mount the protector on the screen. This is purely a dry mount screen protector. I've tried those wet mount lcd protectors on my phone before, the cling almost instantly which is a good and a bad thing. They are just a hassle to install. Installing those require a lot of patience.

First step is to wipe the lcd screen with the cloth that is in the package.
Installation is pretty simple. Make sure that the lcd is clean and dust free. Wipe it off with the cleaning cloth to remove smudges and oils that come from your face or fingers. This also eliminates dust that will show up as bubbles when you put the protector in.

Look for the side that you peel off first. Then peel of the layer.
The protector is marked with colored flags for step 1 and step 2. These flags are also used as a handle when you apply the protector in to the lcd screen.

Align the film by holding the step 2 flag with your fingers.  Then lay it on the screen.
When you take the off the film for step 1, make sure that you NEVER touch the exposed side that goes into the lcd screen. This will prevent oil and dirt from your fingers form clinging into the screen protector.

Press on one side then slowly move towards the opposite side to flatten the protector.
The protector instantly clings into the lcd screen when you lay it down. Although it is really easy to pull it up again in case you need to realign. When pulling it up, do it very carefully. The film is pretty firm though and will not bend when you realign it. The wet apply protectors are a pain when you need to realign because it sticks on to the lcd like glue when the liquid is almost dry. When you pull the wet apply ones, the film stretches...not the case with Expert Shield protectors.

Once flattened, lift and grab the step 2 flag.
When the protector is in place, pressing on it from one side to the other flattens it more. The film lays perfectly flat when you press on it.

Slowly peel the outer film form one side to the other.
Lift up the step 2 flag from one side to expose the top film. Slowly peel from one side to the other. The film should stay in place so you'll never have to worry about the protector peeling off form the lcd.

If you see bubbles, slowly push them out with your thumb towards the outside of the protector.
After peeling the top layer, you might see some bubbles that weren't visible when the top layer was still in place. To eliminate this push them out to the edges of the protector. Keep on doing this until the lcd is bubble free.
Wipe the protector with the cloth to take out the smudges.
After all the bubbles are gone, wipe the screen protector with the cleaning cloth that came with the package till the smudges are gone. This also helps to flatten the protector more.

The film attaches perfectly flat and smooth into the lcd screen.
After wiping the protector, the lcd should look perfectly smooth. I hardly even notice the film is there after applying it.
The film will show a bit of rainbowish colors when viewed at an angle.
In some angles, the protector will show rainbowish like colors. This is normal. I've seen this in wet apply lcd protectors too. The wet lcd protectors sometimes do show wrinkles in them after drying out. The rainbow colors don't show up when you are viewing photos from your lcd though, so it really is a minor thing.

Those colors never show up when your lcd is on.

Again, the colors disappear when you are viewing something from the lcd. 
Overall the Expert Shield is a great screen protector. It's less expensive than most brands. What I love about it is that it lays perfectly flat on the lcd screen. I have tried a similar screen protector to this but it didn't lay perfectly on my lcd screen especially around the corners. The installation is a breeze. I installed it in basically less than 2 minutes without the hassle of wet sprays like the wet apply screen protectors. The kit doesn't even come with a squeegee because you won't need one. The protector is cut perfectly on the corners...and it doesn't show wrinkles like the wet apply ones. One piece of advice before you mount it on the lcd is to use a dust blower to blow out the dust that settles down on the lcd screen after you wipe it off. Other than that, it is one great product!
I also have one for my iphone.
Here's a short video on the application of the product.

You can check out the Expert Shield website for any information about the product.

Update: After a couple of days of the screen protector installation, the rainbow colored patches in the film were gone. Leaving the protector a very smooth and transparent finish.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

First visit of Brookfield zoo this season

Couple of weeks ago we had a chance to go to Brookfield zoo in Brookfield Illinois. It is our first time here this year. Since we felt we are going to go here more often, we bought the yearly pass. It's a very good deal as it comes with tickets for events and tram rides, also guest passes for family and friends.

The peacock that was walking around freely in the zoo.
The zoo as usual had plenty of visitors on the weekend. This weekend wasn't any different. We came in with a bunch of friends and we basically walked around taking shots. There were animals we wanted to see indoors and outdoors.

As usual, the big cats were being lazy.
I brought my two full frame camera bodies...the Canon 5D MK2 and my Canon 6D. I equipped the 5D with my Canon 400mm f/5.6 lens, and I put the 70-200 f/2.8 IS USM into my 6D. All throughout the day I carried them in my Blackrapid dual straps.

Another lazy cat.
This was my first time carrying both teles at the same time. They really didn't bother me the whole day except when I took my jacket off but that was about it. The Blackrapid dual straps is a perfect companion on situations like this. I loved it.

The adult Giraffe that ate everything that dangled up in the tree.
I basically had to set up my camera in shutter priority mode. I put my ISO to auto so I didn't have to tinker with it the entire day going back and forth indoor and out. Lighting changed all the time from sunny to cloudy and back.

Inside the ape house.
It never really got dark until we came inside the ape house. In there my camera ISO jumped from 800 to as much as 3200 ISO. There were skylights above us but there was never really enough light all around. This is the reason why I love carrying my 70-200 f/2.8 lens because of its versatility and awesomeness in low light situations.

The trainer and the dolphin.
Now this is where the 70-200 f/2.8 lens shines...the dolphin show! Indoor where the dolphin show was, there was light coming from the gap between the roof and the stands. It had light but was kind of dim sometimes. I mostly used the 6D and the 70-200 in the show.

One of the tricks that the dolphins can do.
The 6D being superb in lowlight conditions really did well in the dolphin show. I set my focus mode to AI Servo and let my camera do the focusing while I composed my shots. I made sure I was in burst mode too so I don't miss any shots.

The photo can't even describe how high that thing was.
The 70-200 IS USM's superb focusing speed didn't let me down in this scenario. The dolphins would jump up and the USM motor locks up the focus in a fraction of a second. It even focuses faster than my eye. And what I'm using isn't even the MK2 version of this lens.

I had to set my shutter speed very high to capture these crisp shots.
The 6D paired with the 70-200 f/2.8 IS USM lens was the perfect combination. I can't imagine if I had the 5D MK3 body, how much faster it could be. But the 6d and 70-200 combination was perfect. I had the speed, sharpness, and color that I wanted for my dolphin shots.

I almost had left the sharpness of the dolphin shot as it was from the camera. 
We also went into a reptile house. There we saw a bunch of reptiles behind glass. Now shooting behind glass is a thing that I absolutely hate to do. But of course, my 70-200/6d combination was perfect for it too.

One of the reptiles inside the reptile house.

One of the female peacocks wandering around the park.

This guy was being camera shy.

This guy was showing off his swimming skills.
The seals were fun to photograph underwater too. Same thing, I used the 6d/70-200 combination for this shot. I had no problems with focusing.

One of the little guys in the ape house.
So we didn't really had enough time to go around the zoo to see everything. We got tired and decided to go home. I loaded my shots into my mac and picked out my best shots. I believe the next time we have to visit the wolves. Other than that, we did really enjoyed the zoo that day.