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I have several of the new Pocket Wizard TT5 units. First thing that crossed my mind when I received them…”Is this going to last in the field???” A heavy flash stuck on top of a TT5. Ok, metal hotshoe with a metal foot on the 580exII. Seems secure. Then a plastic foot on the TT5??? I feel safer using the threads when working with stands. Some products like the Lastolite EzyBox use the foot as an attachment. Several months passed and so far so good. Then the other day I broke the feet off two separate units! Two of them in less than an hour! Not happy! I don’t have time to send two of these in for repairs. I called up PW tech support and they directed me to the parts department. PW has awesome support. (yeah yeah, please resist the urge to joke about the range thing…) The people I dealt with were knowledgeable and very helpful. They explained how I can change the hotshoe myself if I didn’t have time to send in my units. Sounds good to me. $20 per unit was the cost. They arrived within two days. Swapping these in was a piece of cake!

So lets begin!
First you need a pocket wizard. Your own, or a friend in need’s unit will do. A small Philips screwdriver and a new hotshoe are all you need.

Next, Turn the TT5 over and remove the 4 screws surrounding the foot. That are located at each corner around the foot. You may have to rotate the foot lock in order to see or access them.

The hotshoe and foot are a combined unit that will pop out from the bottom of the TT5. If they don’t, just push down on the hotshoe and it will come right out. Careful because there is a cable attached.

Pull the cable out from the board located between the hotshoe and foot. A gentle tug is all that is required.

Carefully attach the cable to the new hotshot unit. The cable slides into the connector. It is easy to line it up and then ease it in with your finger. It does not go very far to make a connection. Be careful not to over do it. You wouldn’t want to damage the cable end or the hotshoe connector.

Carefully push the cable back into the body of the TT5 as you reinsert the hotshoe unit into its proper place. It should fit perfectly back in place. If it doesn’t you may have pinched the cable between the hotshoe unit and the body of the TT5. Once the hotshoe is in place, screw it back together with the four screws that were removed. Add batteries and double check everything works. You are all done! Five minutes is all it takes to replace your hotshoe or broken foot on a TT5!

Here is a comparison of a new foot and one of my broken ones.

What’s the best camera in the world? The one that is with you of course! Even if you have all the hot new Canon bodies and sharpest lenses in your backpack…you can’t create an image if it appears before you. The moment is gone. You haven’t even unzipped the bag fully. It’s so easy to miss the moment.

Lately cell phones have been getting pretty capable at capturing images. They are even putting out images larger than my first digital camera! (some early fuji finepix camera I think…maybe a megapixel or two…) Samsung has even decided to take the next step. Looks more like camera with a phone built in to me… I know its not late-breaking any more, but photographer Chase Jarvis lately put out an awesome app for iphones along with a book and website/community. The Best Camera… It’s definitely worth checking out if you have ever doubted your phone as a way to create images.

I captured the image above with an EnV Touch. No fun apps…but at least I have exposure compensation! (It also handles panoramas and parallax decently to my surprise.) The landscape was captured out of a car window. My camera was in a bag by my feet. I would have never been able to get it out in time. Lately I have found myself really seeing the world differently again. I feel somewhat liberated from equipment again just knowing that if I am in the moment, I can act as long as even my phone is with me. Go make images. Capture the world and show us who we are. If you have a phone…you have an image!

Now if only my phone could trigger Pocket Wizards…

The New Leica M9 on DPReview

I miss the smooth feel of a metal button actually releasing a shutter
I miss the aperture ring and smooth focus ring on a metal lens.
I miss the smell of Italian leather on a thin and compact body when its pressed on my face.
I miss looking through a viewfinder that makes me feel immersed in a world I am creating.
I miss having a sleek little camera hanging from my side…and not getting looks of “who is he, what is he doing, and why does he have a camera that big!”
I miss the feel of being able to create images spontaneously without having to plan what equipment I can take and what will weigh me down.
I miss having a camera that does not feel digital.
I don’t miss chemical dark rooms.
I don’t miss having only 200speed film when i’ve run out of 800 and the light has faded.
I don’t miss having to load film in the worst possible situations.

I have just discovered a camera that reignites what I love about cameras.

Leica M9
Leica 35mm f/2 Summicron
Luigi half-case

No, I don’t feel like a computer guru with imaging devices anymore…I feel like a photographer!

I cannot wait to get one of my own!

It is 2009 and we are in a year of amazing resolutions! No, no, not exercise or painting the house…sensor resolution! Phase One has their P65+ 60mp medium format back, Nikon has the D3X @ 24.5mp, Sony A900 @ 25mp, and the Canon 5DmkII and 1DsmkIII @ 21.1mp. Even point and shoot cameras are hitting 15mp!!! Just a year or two ago, getting in the 20+ mp range would involve spending $20,000 – $30,000 US on a digital medium format system and lenses.

So, everyone knows this already. Why post about it? I have finally gotten a chance to experience this first hand. I have been using 5Ds since their release several years ago. I am familiar with what they can produce, how much I can stretch the RAW, and how much I have to work with in terms of printing large. The 5D is a serious workhorse that always impressed me. I’ve got my 5DmkII upon release in December 2008. It really felt like a modern and refined 5D. Fantastic quality in the images, amazing print size for a 35mm, and some great new features. Ok. Great! Until…yesterday.

I have begun shooting a new body of work this past week. When I loaded the work into Bridge, I was stunned. I myself have never seen work from my cameras that contained such detail. 21+ MP can really do some amazing things! I don’t remember shooting with other 35mm cameras that revealed such minute detail. Mosaic tiles, marble, columns, inlays, etc… all reveal themselves with intricate detail on these images! At the distance I am from these features, I am just absolutely amazed at how distinguished details can be resolved with good glass, technique, and these new sensors!

Here is one example, downsized for the web. This is a combination of 3 images left completely default in ACR and combined in Photomatix. This shot is using a 24-105L @ 105mm, f/13, 1.5s, 6s, and 20 second exposures. ISO 200, Highlight tone priority on, and all noise reduction is off, except for long exposure noise which is set to auto. I use a tripod with a spherical panoramic head. I shot with a cable release, 2 second timer, and live view on. (quick and easy mirror lock up!)

© 2009 Ancient City Photography

© 2009 Ancient City Photography

For a sense of scale, the altar with the purple cloth at the center bottom of the image is approximately 4.5 feet high. I was a couple hundred feet back.

Here is a center crop @ 100%.

© 2009 Ancient City Photography

© 2009 Ancient City Photography

Here is a corner crop @ 100%.

© 2009 Ancient City Photography

© 2009 Ancient City Photography

I am sure sharpness would be even better with a fast exposure and an uncombined shot, but I am looking at real world results for the work I need to produce. I think this is simply stunning from a 35mm camera. Adjust contrast, add some sharpening for output, and it’s just awesome. So…I wonder what we will be working with in a few years from now! Some people spend all their time looking at 100% crops for sharpness and splitting hairs…but I am impressed no matter what.

These new cameras are simply awesome.

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