Lenses

MindShift Firstlight 40L Big Backpack Review

MindShift Firstlight 40L Big Backpack Review

Introduction

  • MindShift Gear (founded by the creators of Think Tank Photo) makes a great line of backpacks that work well for the adventures I like to do with my night photography.  I've been reviewing their packs for a little while now and the latest model I chose was the Firstlight 40L.  I chose the big 40L model so it would hold all my gear including a bigger telephoto lens.  I had high expectations for the bag and I was able to quickly see if it was going to measure up.
  • I'll be honest in saying that I did not buy this backpack.  I had the opportunity to review it for MindShift Gear and I was happy to do so.  That said, I'm including my honest opinions on it without restraint.  If there are areas where it did poorly, I'm not afraid to say so.
  • To test the backpack, I took it out numerous times - during in-field training sessions in Arches & Canyonlands National Parks and Monument Valley with Night Photography Workshop and shooting on my own in the Bisti Badlands.

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What Are The Best Lenses For Night Photography? Updated 2017

What Are The Best Lenses For Night Photography? Updated 2017

Several years ago, we posted an article titled "Recommended Lenses For Night Photography" that a lot of people found helpful.  Since then, a lot has changed that affects the lenses my training partner Darren White and I most like to recommend as the best choices so I decided that this original article deserved an update with the latest information and recommendations.

Background
As a night photography workshop instructor, I'm committed to getting great nightscape images.  And while we believe that the best images come from a combination of great composition, great technique, and having an eye for  great image, having good gear certainly helps to make a difference.  we think the gear is secondary to these first three items but it does help.  We get a lot of questions from our students about what gear works best and so we like to have some good answers for them.  On the approach to our workshops, we often get asked if we were to recommend one single lens, which one we would recommend to help students get the best shots possible.

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MindShift Backlight 26L Backpack Review

MindShift Backlight 26L Backpack Review

MindShift Gear (founded by the creators of Think Tank Photo) makes a great line of backpacks that appear to work well for the hikes I like to do with my night photography.  I've always thought highly of their reputation for quality gear, so with one of their premier backpacks on-hand (the Backlight 26L), I was able to put it through its paces to see just how well it would do out in the field...

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Recommended Lenses For Night Photography

Recommended Lenses For Night Photography

As students get ready for night photography workshops, they often ask the question, "If I could buy just one lens, are there any that would really help with my night photography?".  On this, I smile because there definitely is.  And the best part is the route I recommend doesn't break the bank.

In general, a wide-angle, bright lens with a minimum aperture of 2.8 would be ideal.  Good night photographs come from lots of other lenses, but in general, the low light sensitivity of an f/2.8 lens makes capturing the starry night sky a lot easier.

Improving Low-Light Capability With A Better Lens
Just like a new camera body can gain a few stops of low light sensitivity, it's well worth taking a look at how lenses can do the same.  As an example, changing from an f/4 lens (a lens with a minimum aperture of f/4) to an f/2.8 lens is equivalent to doubling the amount of light you have to work with - which is a big deal.  And a lens with an even wider aperture like f/1.4 can give you even more low light sensitivity...

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How To Focus In The Dark

How To Focus In The Dark

Focusing in the dark can be a tricky task... and it can certainly be frustrating to go to all the effort of shooting at night only to get home and find that the scene wasn't quite in-focus. When it comes to focusing at night, there are a few options that work better than others.

Option #1 - Hard Stop At Infinity
I really like it when I'm using a lens that has a hard stop on the focus ring at infinity. This allows me to more easily set the focus on infinity which works really well in most cases.  In-fact, this approach is so easy that I use it whenever I'm using a lens that allows it.  Some of my lenses however, have the ability to focus past infinity which complicates the process. Back to the simple approach, I just make sure I know which way to turn the focus ring before I get out into the dark and then use just turn the ring all the way in the correct direction. I've heard of some people taping the focus ring (with gaffers tape) but I don't typically do that...

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