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on Apr 16, 2014 in Gear Head Wed

GearHead Wednesday 14-14


Got a gear question you want/need answered? I want to help and answer it. Send your gear questions to me at Gear Questions and I’ll do my best every Wednesday to answer as many questions as I can. Some interesting and common questions this week, so thanks for sending them all! Keep in mind the answers are just my $.02 worth and you have to take what works for you and your photography and embrace it and ignore the rest. So here’s this weeks questions ….

I have been to a DLWS and then you were editing with Dell computers, but now I see you have switched to Mac for a mobile choose. I use a Mac for mobile and PC at home. My Dell is coming to end of life and I want to change to a Mac at home as well. What do you use at the office to edit with or what would you recommend. I like the new Mac Pro but it is a bit pricey.

Jerry, yeap, I was and still am a Win user. There is one Win machine left in our office and it’s the digital darkroom / asset machine. Why? One, it still works perfectly fine and two, it’s much easier to print from a Win machine than a Mac machine. Since I was only home 47 days in 2013, the Retina is by far the most used digital darkroom machine for me and it rocks. As for the new Mac Pro, I like the idea but not the price. Personally, I will more than likely get another Retina to work for my desktop. It has tons of powers and with a simple app, can disappear in the background and just do the heavy lifting.

Good Day Mr. Moose
After following your blog for a few months now, I am interested in your storage philosophy. Do you have a truck load of CD/DVD’s in a safe? A similar number of hard drives? Do you allow your work to reside offsite in a storage facility, or even in a cloud??? I am guessing you have exposed between 500k and 1 million photos in you career. Also how do you catalog them all???

-Vanilla, the digital library is coming up on 3mil images total now. The library is simple Buffalo NAS units (photo is of the rabbit hutch a few years back, now there are 5 16TB boxes). No off site, no cloud, no Dvds, all reside on the NAS units. My filing is very simple and based on our conventional files as they are still very relevant. It’s a alpha numeric system I made up back in 1981 and still use.

I am so inspired by your photography and feel really fortunate to be able to ask questions of you and tap your vast knowledge of photography. This is a gear question, albeit very specific, about aviation gear. I have read Taking Flight several times and alway learn something new with each read. In it you mention that gloves are essential for comfort at altitudes and sometimes for hand signals to the subject from the photo platform if radio or communication is out, or if there is a problem. What gloves do you use and where did you purchase them? I am getting ready to do my first air-to-air and would like to get your input.

-Patrick, thanks for the kind words! If you can find them, red colored gloves would be the best for those times when communication breaks down and you need to use hand signals. I got the ones I’m currently using from Amazon, just search on aviator gloves. My current gloves are tan Blackhawk.

A question raised this week caused me to ponder the long lenses. Mileage varies for each of us and so not asking for specific recommendations, but more on guidance on what you have found in using the big lenses over the years. Most of us cannot afford the latest VR big glass and except for maybe a special trip or planned event rental may no be the best answer or even practical. So where are the best compromises made from your experience to keep the cost where average joe can get in the game. I do not mean to limit any choices but as an example the new 80-400mm AF-S gives you auto focus and VR but is a little slow and maybe a little short on reach for birds and some other stuff, the older MF 400mm f3.5 or maybe better the MF 500mm f4 gives the speed, isolation and reach but no AF or VR or 300mm AF f2.8 with converters gives everything but the VR and all are roughly in the same ballpark cost wise except for the 400mm f3.5 which is much cheaper. So from someone who has been there and done that if the latest AF-S VR exotic (200-400, 500mm or whatever) is a real stretch – were are the wisest compromises made or ask anyway given you have used them all if you were force to shed those features what would you lose first VR, AF, reach or speed/isolation. Again knowing mileage varies, but as you have gone from the MF to the latest and greatest – what is nice to have verses what is if not must have at least really do not want to do without. Or is the total package of the latest – with AF-S, VR, better coating, better glasses just worth sucking it up. I know this has no right or wrong answer and a lot depends on who, when and where, but there are not many out there who have spanned the years and used it all such as yourself.

-Leonard, great question and one that is asked a lot of me so I know there are many with the same feelings. And I regret I have no answer for you or others along this vane. The key word in all of this to me is compromise. Compromising in my photography is just something I have never allowed myself and have pushed and sacrificed in tools and technique. Everything you mention is totally viable and if you’ve already thought of all those options, then I would think you already have your answer. All the “older” gear delivers, we know this because back when it was the latest and greatest, it delivered. I have no doubt it still can deliver the image quality but the perfect lens for ones photographs has to start here, not end here. Sorry I can’t be of more help.