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Camera Gear Reviews for July 2014
Text and photography copyright © Paul W. Faust. All rights reserved.


ROUGE FlashBender Soft Box Kit

For all photographers who use a lot of flash lighting, here is a great new flash reflector designed to do just about anything you will need. It is a reflector, a soft box, and a snoot designed to use with just about any camera speedlight you may have. The reflector comes in two sizes, large and small, both having stiff, but flexable, cords that allows you to bend and shape it just about any way you need to get the light where you want it. The edges are lined with Velcro to attach the other features, but that Velcro also allows you to form the reflector into a snoot for using as a spotlight. (I love that part) The reflector attaches very easily around the neck of your flash with a stretchable Velcro strap, and it is held there very securely also.

I mentioned that the reflector has Velcro around the edges, and that holds one other piece of the kit, the soft box diffusion panel. With these two pieces the reflector acts as the back of the soft box and the diffuser is the front part creating an enclosed soft box unit. A third piece of the kit is a two-sided item that is black on one side and silver on the other, for an added kind of reflection you can use. If you want to control the reflected color even more ROUGE also has filters that you can add to the front of your flash unit. Even when all of this is attached to a flash the flash can still swivel and rotate normally.

This soft box kit is made of top quality materials and constructed the same way so I canít see there being any "falling apart" problems anytime in the future no matter how much you use it. The ROUGE FlashBender Soft Box Kit retails for only $64.95 and for all of the features that you get it is a real good price. I had to look at what they had it listed at twice to make sure I saw it right. As with the Expodisc 2, they have a very good web page that shows even more detail and I suggest that you use it. As good as this product is, their instruction page and booklet that comes with it is on the poor side. There is not really that much of it to begin with, it is hard to figure out, and the illustrations are so small and cropped that you will have to guess what they are talking about. Go to their web page to learn its set up. Itís easy to use after you learn how it all goes together and thatís just a one-time need.

Note - the flash stands shown in the illustration are NOT a part of this product. They are only there to show how the set up can be used.



ExpoDisc 2 Pro

Here is one super ďmust-haveĒ item that every digital photographer should have on hand everywhere they are going to shoot. With the color balancing ExpoDisk over your lens it will accurately give your camera the correct reading from all light sources, which gives you an exact custom White Balance (WB) for that lighting, with your camera. You just aim it towards the light source, (except at the sun), make the custom reading as your camera requires, and from then on all of your images with that lighting will have the needed neutral color required for a perfect white balance. You only need to pick that custom setting from your cameraís database and shoot away. You donít even have to screw it on and off of the lens, you just snap it onto the lens like you do a lens cap and take the reading. The disk is 77mm in size so that it either fits the largest lens you have or you just hold it over any lens smaller than that filter size. It comes with a neck strap and carrying case and can even be hung from your belt. You may also want to get a set of the portrait warming filters to use when taking a reading for even more color control.

The Expodisc 2 Pro retails for just $49.95 which is a very small price to pay for accurate color exposures every time! A price that you will more than get back in the time that you will save using this tool and no longer have to edit the images color balance later on. I do not shoot without it! Check them out at www.expoimaging.com. A fully detailed information page on this item can be found here.



Rotation 180 Back Pack

Many of my photo trips are just one day hikes to a historical or landscape location, but they all require me to take along some sort of carrying bag, or bags, to hold whatever equipment I want to use that day. The more equipment I expect to need, the more bags I have to carry. I was just sent a very nice back pack designed for short day hikes. This one though is unlike any others I have reviewed in the past. The Rotation 180 allows you to get at the camera equipment you have in it ďwithoutĒ having to take the pack off. It does this with a unique new design that lets the camera waist bag pull out from the back and swing around your side without having to unbuckle it, then swing back in when done.

The top compartment of the back pack is for any day hiking needs like dry pants & shirt, and extra shoes and socks in case you are going to a wet location, and maybe a sandwich. Basically whatever you want to take that is not photo gear, BUT, if you donít need it for those things then you have that much more room for extra photo items. The pack is light and easy to use and has more accessories you can get if needed, like a rain cover and tripod carrying strap.

I have found that there are two drawback to this pack though. The first one being that since it is mainly made for short day trips where you do not need to carry much camera gear, the holding areas are small. BUT the biggest problem I found with the pack is the design of its bottom. The bottom is curved and not flat, which means that you canít really set the pack down on the ground without it falling over. Not something youíd want to do on top of a hill or cliff with a top open because what is in it would be ďgoneĒ real fast. The point of the curved bottom I still canít figure out, but I find it to have been a ďreal badĒ idea for my needs. Trying to sit the bag down and still keep it safe can become a real hassle that I donít need. You may like the bottom - I donít.

All that aside, this is still a nice, mostly easy to use back pack for short trips with light gear. The MindShift Rotation 180 Back Pack retails for $199.99 with free FedEx ground shipping, accessories extra. See it and get more info by visiting www.mindshiftgear.com. You can also visit my blog site for an expanded version of this bags review.



Paul Faust - NPN 1680

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Paul W. Faust is a self-taught Fine Art Photographer, Writer, Digital Imaging, and Photo Stock Service professional. You can visit Paulís BLOG and see more of his articles that are not on NPN, as well as his other Photo Blog pages, and a Gallery of the Fine Art Images that he sells at www.impressions-of-light.com.


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