Sunday, November 6, 2011

The first of many B&H shipments

The first time I walked into the B&H Superstore in NYC, I felt overwhelmed by the sheer amount of inventory they had. Literally everything (except for Think Tank products...) are available there. Fast forward to mid-October, and I was gear shopping for an upcoming shoot. Naturally, I turned to the folks in Hell's Kitchen.

Considering my extremely low budget, I went with versatile products that didn't break the bank. Hence, Impact. I got an 8 foot air-cushioned Impact light stand and a 60" convertible umbrella (which Zack Arias, an advocate of working on the cheap, adores). A Photek umbrella adaptor (the Manfrotto one got nixed thanks to a top-rated customer review and the $10 premium), a Lumiquest SB-III, 4 Eneloops and charger, and a used Tiffin 62mm UV filter for my ancient Nikon 70-210 f/4 Series E lens rounded out the order. Besides the SB-III, which I thought was a bit overpriced for something essentially made of the stuff that covers binders, everything was an excellent value, and everything was at about 50% the Victoria price.

A quick rundown:

Impact stand: Fantastic.

Photek umbrella adaptor: Mixed feelings. I dislike the fact that it doesn't have a hole for the Nikon locking pin. The knob that tightens it loosens far too quickly. I had my SB-600 drop out of it. Luckily, it was only about 2 feet off the ground at the time, and it fell onto carpet. It wouldn't have taken much more than that. It's also metal, which needs to be covered in gaff tape. Excellent construction, and the tilt mechanism's great, but it ain't perfect.

Lumiquest SB-III: tried making my own out of Coroplast and failed miserably. Got the real thing, and it works way better. Still overpriced, but it can be so damn useful for field work. It fits perfectly in the pocket of a Domke F-3x, as though it was designed just for it.

Impact umbrella: versatile and cheap. A little big for 8 foot ceilings, but if you partially collapse it and it becomes much more manageable. I could definitely see a multi-flash bracket coming in handy, as one speedlight doesn't really do a 60" umbrella justice, though it certainly works. I opted for this over the 43" Westcott double fold as it was sturdier, bigger, and the same price. I didn't really need the portability. The solid shaft (instead of the hollow one in the Westcott) will contribute to its life expectancy. Probably better for full length portraits, multi-person portraits. I might get a 43" soft silver one, and a 30" convertible Impact one in the future. They're so dang cheap! I want them all!

Eneloops: haven't actually used them yet. The charger, however, has breathed new life into what I thought were dead Ni-MH batteries. Well worth it just for that. I'm sure the Eneloops are all they're cracked up to be, given the fact that they're the number one recommended Ni-MH battery brand out there.

UV filter: I was about to buy it new, but B&H automatically showed me a used copy. I paid half the cost of new, and it does its simple job as it should. It's very thick though, so I wouldn't recommend it for use with wideangle lenses. For $7, it can't be beat. Though used, it also arrived completely free of fingerprints and dust in its Ziploc bag. Very impressive.

Shipping was fast and cheap since they recently introduced the Purolator option for Canadian shoppers. It's cheaper than any Canadian retailer, and arrived in a week. You'll be happy you ordered there.

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