08
May

Vanguard Auctus Plus Tripod Review

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Review

Since I am on the topic of thanking companies, I would like to give a very big thank you and shout out to Vanguard Photo.  I have been using Vanguard tripods for the last year, and have had such a great experience with not only the products, but also the people at the company.  The reason I am thanking Vanguard is because they stepped up huge and equipped and supported Becker and I on our trip to the Philippines along with Glazer’s Camera.  We took a couple of Vanguard tripods with us, and not only is the Alta+ 255CT tripod incredible for traveling, but it is so small it can just about fit in your pocket.  Well, it’s not that small, but it does fit on a small backpack and can easily hide from TSA 3 out of 4 times.  I am also a big fan of the Vanguard Supreme 46F hard case which held one of my light kits on the trip.  After getting it back at checked luggage in Manila, I quickly noticed the case was slightly shredded on the bottom.  Turns out, the airline tied it to the back of the plane and dragged it along the tarmac at 400 mph.  Frustrating, but none the less, the gear was totally fine and the case is still like new, except for the bottom.  To no fault of the manufacturer.

So without further ado, here is my review of the Vanguard Auctus Plus 323CT tripod.

The Auctus Plus 323CT is a solid, heavy duty carbon fiber tripod.  It weights in at 7.83 pounds without a head and camera, so it is heavy.  It’s not heavier than you would expect for a tripod of it’s size, but you wouldn’t want to climb a mountain with it.  It can extend up to 71 inches high, and has 3 leg sections.  I regularly use it for studio and most of my location work.  I have traveled several times with it packed in a stand bag which I always check.  Needless to say, it has taken quite a beating by TSA and the fine folks in the baggage department and it’s still going strong.  I love how easy it is to use this tripod, and it is really easy to make smooth, precise adjustments.  The legs adjust to 25, 50, and 80 degree angles, and the rubber feet grip terrain really well.  I haven’t needed to do this yet, but you can also take the rubber feet off, which reveals metal spikes if you need to really stick in somewhere.  I primarily use this tripod  with my Hasselblad H3D-II which is a really heavy camera, and it does not shake, wobble, or vibrate at all.  In the Philippines last month, I shot a series of time exposure portraits (without a cable trigger), each around 4 seconds, and it was so steady.  Even when the camera is tilted to shoot portraits, it’s solid.  As Gob Bluth would say, the Vanguard Actus Plus is solid as a rock.

Just this morning I had a shoot at sunrise, and I took my Auctus Plus 323CT tripod because I knew it would give me the stability I needed in low morning light.  The weight never really bothers me since I am not walking too far.  I also have an Alta Pro 283CT, which is awesome, but I always find myself grabbing the Auctus Plus.

In full disclosure, when I first started using the Auctus Plus, one of the leg connectors broke, but Vanguard quickly replaced the entire tripod for me no questions asked, and I couldn’t be happier.  It’s fair to expect just about any brand or product to have problems from time to time, and how a company handles those situations makes all the difference. I would recommend Vanguard tripods to anyone.  They are solid, reliable, designed really well, and surprisingly affordable which makes them that much more of a great deal.  If you are in Seattle, Glazer’s sells them, otherwise, you can order them from B&H Photo here.  Happy shooting.

The Vanguard Alta+ 255CT tripod with the Vanguard GH-100 pistol grip ball head.

Becker wearing the Vanguard Adaptor 48 camera bag, and using the Vanguard Alta+ 255CT tripod with the Vanguard GH-100 pistol grip ball head.

John using the Extreme Support Height Positioning Wheel on the Vanguard Auctus Plus 323CT tripod with the Vanguard SBH-300 ball head.

19
Jan

Visual Supply VSCO Film Giveaway

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Contest

We just gave away a Vanguard GH-100 Pistol Grip Ball Head, a Think Tank Urban Disguise 40 v2 camera bag, and now we will be wrapping up what I like to call “Second Christmas” by giving away two copies of Visual Supply VSCO Film.  For those of you who are not familiar with VSCO Film, it is an incredible film emulator that plugs into Lightroom and ACR to make your digital images look like film.  Another benefit of VSCO Film is that it doubles as an incredibly fast workflow for editing your digital images.  I wrote about my experience with the emulator a few months back, and you can read my review of VSCO Film here.

All you have to do to enter and win a copy for yourself is ReTweet our contest tweet with #keatley on Twitter, or like AND comment on the contest post on the Keatley Facebook fan page.  After that, you are entered to win!  One winner from Facebook and Twitter will be randomly selected tomorrow, January 20th at 4pm.  Be sure to check back tomorrow to see if you won.

Thanks to everyone for participating this week.  It’s been fun hearing from many of you, and even more fun giving some awesome gear away.

Be sure to check out more of the great products from Visual Supply, Think Tank, and Vanguard as well as follow them on Twitter for updates, and new offerings – @VisualSupplyco@thinkTANKphoto, and @VanguardPhotoUS.  Good luck everyone!

16
Nov

VSCO Film Review

Posted by John Keatley / Filed under Review

I was recently contacted by a new company called Visual Supply Co about using a film emulator they have been developing for Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw called VSCO Film.  At first I was skeptical, but decided to give it a try.

I am fortunate to work with a really incredible retoucher on most of my commercial work, but I still have thousands of personal images as well as some smaller jobs which I try to edit on my own.  Problem is, I don’t really like Lightroom, or Photoshop actions, so more times than not, my RAW images just sit in a folder.  Every once in a while I manage to process a few personal images, but it usually takes a long time, and I never really get them looking like I want.

Within the first 10 seconds of using VSCO Film, I was hooked.  It is so fast, produces the results I have always wanted, but didn’t know how to achieve, and it actually makes image editing fun again.  Now I am going through all of my personal images at the speed of light, and everything looks fantastic in 1 or 2 clicks.  I also used VSCO Film on a small job I shot this week, and it took me 10 minutes to do 23 images.  It would have easily taken me 90 minutes had I done it the old way.

Anyway, enough of that.  I don’t like sales pitches, and I don’t want to annoy you with one either.  I am willing to endorse this because I actually use it and really really like it.  Not everyone will feel the same, but I think many of you will.  I have already had several people ask me about how it works with strobe photography, so in my next blog post, I will show some images lit with strobe that I edited with VSCO Film.  I edited the following images with VSCO Film in just a couple of clicks per image.  Here is the link if you are interested in buying, or just finding out more.  Enjoy.

UPDATE:  8/22/12 – Here is another post I just wrote with some new images I edited with VSCO Film 02.

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