As the saying goes “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” but why not make it better? That’s probably the attitude Ricoh is approaching their newest patent with, because they’re making modifications to one of the few pieces of camera equipment that hasn’t changed since the early days — the lens cap.
The patent isn’t anything revolutionary (i.e. a lens cap with air bags… there’s an idea) but the diagram does include an impact zone with small springs on either side that should add some shock-absorbency so that dropping your lens doesn’t always have to spell disaster. It’s certainly not the be-all-end-all in lens protection, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.
Earlier this month the US Army published an article warning its soldiers that the ubiquitousness of geotagged photographs these days can present a serious security risk, citing a real-world example of something that happened back in 2007:
When a new fleet of helicopters arrived with an aviation unit at a base in Iraq, some Soldiers took pictures on the flightline, he said. From the photos that were uploaded to the Internet, the enemy was able to determine the exact location of the helicopters inside the compound and conduct a mortar attack, destroying four of the AH-64 Apaches.
Officer Kent Grosshans recommends disabling the geotagging feature on your phone (or camera) and double-checking your social media settings to see who you’re sharing location-based info with, regardless of whether you’re an enlisted soldier or a civilian.
The beautiful light painting photo you see here was created using steel wool (here’s a tutorial on the technique). Basically, you fix some steel wool on the end of a rope, set it on fire by rubbing a 9V battery against it, and then swing it around to fling sparks all over the place. While it’s becoming a pretty common photo project, it can also be hazardous to your lens’ — and your body’s — health. Jon Beard, the photographer behind this photo, learned the hard way. See that thick yellow line in the upper right hand corner? That’s one of the bits of burning metal striking his $2,000 Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G lens. Read more…
Earlier this month we shared some advice from an anonymous airline baggage handler, who revealed that hard-sided “spinners” suitcases are safest if you must transport valuables (e.g. camera gear) in checked baggage. To see why, check out the video above by Delta Airlines. They drilled holes into a hardcase and installed six outward-facing cameras to document what a bag goes through after it disappears behind those black rubber flaps and before it emerges onto the conveyor belt in the baggage claim area. The video doesn’t show any abuse, but there’s a number of points along the journey where careless handlers have the opportunity to mishandle bags.
You probably already know that it’s not a good idea to include your expensive camera gear with check in luggage, but what if you have no choice? If you must, then putting your gear inside a hard-sided “spinner” suitcase with four wheels is your best bet. The Huffington Post has published an interesting interview with an anonymous baggage handler, who gives the following advice:
Hard-sided suitcases will get less damage, but also look for well-designed handles that are attached with rivets and some sort of protection around the wheels. Speaking of wheels, the best bags to get are the “spinners” with four wheels on the bottom. We like these because we don’t have to throw them when loading. We just roll them down the belly of the plane so your bag and its contents will suffer much less damage.
The handler reveals that bags are commonly subjected to all kinds of abuse due to the strict schedules the handlers must abide by.
A neat way to reuse film canisters is to poke holes in the lids and turn them into salt shakers, but some people argue that this may expose you to the harmful chemicals that leak out of film and into the plastic of the canister. It’s actually a question that Kodak has received a lot over the years, and they say it shouldn’t be a problem as long as you wash it out first:
To protect the film from contamination, Kodak quality standards require that the insides of the containers must be exceptionally clean. No “toxic” materials leach out or offgas from the containers themselves.
[...] Newspaper and magazine articles have mentioned “toxic residues” in the containers which might come from the film. There are none. The chemicals in a roll of film are embedded in the gelatin emulsion layers (about as thick as a human hair) and do not rub off the plastic film base.
[...] In summary: There are no “toxic residues” in Kodak film containers [...] if a customer chooses to use a Kodak film container for other than film storage, the container first should be thoroughly washed with soap and water.
They also state that if you (or your pet) accidentally eat some film itself, the main concern would be the film cutting your innards rather than chemical poisoning.
When we shared the practice of “rooftopping” (climbing to the tops of skyscrapers and taking pictures from the edge) a couple days ago, some commenters pointed out that accidentally dropping your camera could kill someone on the ground. Well, Reuters photographer Mark Blinch had a “rooftopping” adventure of his own recently at the CN Tower in Toronto, which just launched an attraction called “EdgeWalk” that lets you walk hands free 356m (1,168ft) off the ground. Blinch describes how the crew secured his gear:
The morning started when the tower’s safety personnel attached all manner of clips and cables to my cameras so they could fasten them securely to the bright red jumpsuit they gave us to wear. I brought up a Canon 5d Mark II with a 16-35 wide zoom, and a Nikon D3s with a 24-70. The memory card slots, eyepiece, and battery doors of both cameras were all taped down to make sure nothing fell off. I have dropped a camera maybe once or twice in my life, and I knew this wouldn’t be the time to have an accident.
If you’re planning on doing any kind of photography where butterfingers could kill more than your camera, you might want to try this method of tape, clips, and cables.
One sad truth about the photo industry is that there’s a ton of counterfeit products floating around, and unless you buy directly from a reputable source, it can be difficult to know for sure whether you’re getting the real thing. Last month we posted on how up to 1/3 of memory cards labeled “SanDisk” are actually counterfeit. Over on Nikon’s website, there’s a support page that shows photographs of counterfeit Nikon accessories next to genuine ones, with many of them almost indistinguishable from each other. Some of the counterfeit products are so real-looking that the only difference is a slightly different screw, or a slightly brighter logo. Read more…