(Must. Stop. Buying)
I guess I’m not the neck strap type. I found the strap was always in the way with my holding style, and I didn’t like the way the camera hung on the strap anyway. That left me needing a new way to secure the camera. I’m pretty sure if I didn’t secure it, I would eventually trip/hit a bump/slip and drop the thing.
Enter the Hakuba LH hand grip. Since I didn’t want the battery grip, that cut off most options for a hand strap, and the remaining options seemed expensive. At $18, it fits the cheap bill, and seems to work great after a little material trimming.
The grip attaches to the tripod mount to secure the bottom end of the strap. This changed my grip a bit – there is a small strip of plastic under the bottom of the camera (1/3 inch?) that my pinkie ends up resting on, under the camera body. It didn’t bother me much, but if you usually curl your pinkie under the camera body, it might feel weird. Outside of a few short holsterings, I walked around with the camera hanging off my paw for about 4 hours at the march last weekend. The camera always felt secure, and my hand didn’t get tired.
My old ultra pod table top tripod just wasn’t going to hack the new camera. I was tempted to just try the ultrapod II, but I’ve been wanting to get a decent sized tripod for a while anyway. The issues were price (light tripods usually start at $200), and size & weight (most “light” tripods are still over 3 pounds). In other words, I didn’t want anything I couldn’t just throw in a messenger bag. It seemed like an impossible request, but I think I’ve found a match with the Velbon Ultra Maxis (aka Ultra-Maxi-SF?).
The tripod is a bit over a pound and a half, has a usable ball head, compacts to slightly more than a foot, and expands to just under 5 feet tall. The weight limit on the head is around 5 pounds, so my 2 pound camera & lens combo is supported with ease. Legs can be a bit fussy, but once you have the lock-twist figured out, they are pretty easy to use. More importantly, they also seem to be quite strong and sturdy. At $90 with free shipping (though amazon seems to have jacked the price up $10 now) it is a steal compared to what I would have paid in the semi-pro tripod world.
I wasn’t about to pay the sticker prices for the Hoya PRO1 circular polarizer at US shops. A quick eBay search turned up some $65 options from China, but still made in Japan. I was skeptical, but it seems to be the genuine article based on the build quality. I haven’t had a chance to play with it a whole lot, but my short tests suggest it will have a bit of a learning curve.
I rarely use the flash, so I can usually get quite a few images out of a single charge. But, it is always nice to have extra juice. The SterlingTek replacement battery claims 1500 mAh compared with the roughly 800 mAh of the regular Canon batteries. It does seem to hold up longer than the battery that shipped with my camera, but I don’t know if I would say it lasts twice as long. It works great, seems to be decent quality, and at $9.95, you can buy four of them for the same price as a Canon battery.
Extra memory card
At a bit over $100 for 2gb, there are better deals around. But I picked the SanDisk Extreme III for two reasons. The first is speed – this card is consistently speedy in cameras as well as memory readers. The second is that it is rated for “extreme” temperatures. Probably not a big deal for most people, but I have taken photos in some pretty blistering heat before, and would rather just avoid any potential points of failure. Plus, if I do something stupid, like send the card through the wash, or leave it on the dash of a car window, these have a better chance of survival. SanDisk also provides some image recovery software and services, so that doesn’t hurt either.
Portable backup device
After much thought, and help from others, I decided to go the Nexto CF route. I went with this enclosure for a few reasons 1) Great reviews online of the device 2) Very speedy 3) Decent battery life. I might end up going a different route in the future, but I think a fast & portable CF backup will be useful for some time. I’ll probably write up some of my impressions about the device soon.
I tried to figure out how to have a case or insert that will work in my simple messenger bag (or other packs). I played around with some inserts from domke, but it was ultimately going to be a pain in the ass to re-fit and secure them.
I ended looking into using my Lowepro Rezo TLZ 20 as an insert. The bag is cheap (<$30), and light once you get rid of the top handle & strap. It has side loops, so you can clip it to the front sternum straps of a backpack, and a belt loop so it can go on your belt (pants or pack). But I've also found that you can fold the lid inside out and lock it to itself around the outside of the case (folded over the back). Once that is done, the case is pretty much just like a top loading insert, with padding and a bit of shape (its stiff on the sides).
I wanted a way to slap that into my messenger bag, but it has been a bit tricky. It is easy to put it in a bag, but my messenger bag is lightweight, and doesn't really have any structure to it. Once you clip some weight to the top of the bag, it sort of folds in on itself. But I think I have it figured out - I have sewn straps inside the bag to connect the belt loop and the front of the bag, then added an extra strap on the insert to strap to the other side of the bag. It does a decent job of should staying in place, but is also easy to add and remove.
I think I'm all set. I had better be, I'm broke.