There are fewer and fewer things that I get very excited about these days, as far as photography equipment goes. We’re pretty close to having the “ultimate” camera bodies, the “ultimate” lenses, and amazing other tools for the astro-landscape work that I am passionate about. I could use cameras and gear from this current generation for the rest of my life, and be quite happy.
Nikon D750, Rokinon 14mm f/2.8
Slik Pro 500 tripod
30 min @ f/4 & ISO 800
So, what does excite me these days? Other sorts of specialty tools, and one other thing that I have already shared about myself: weight and space-saving improvements for use on extended adventures. If I find a piece of “kit” that weighs roughly 1/2 what most its competition weighs, or takes up 1/2 the space, then that means I can bring two of them into the wilderness, or simply go farther and remain in the outdoors longer.
That’s why I’m excited for what seems to be the next generation of timelapse motion control. I already shared that I’ve begun using and testing the Alpinelabs Radian, and now the Kickstarter campaign for their mk2 Radian device is almost complete. (You can support it HERE!) This next generation of timelapse motion control technology is bringing two major new things to the table: bluetooth connectivity for wireless control and monitoring of your timelapses, and ultra-lightweight linear motion control along a slider or dolly etc.
The use of cell phones for controlling your camera is nothing new, but it has come a long way very rapidly in the past few years. At first, it was a complete non-option for the type of stuff I do; I simply cannot have my phone be plugged into my camera 100% of the time, in fact I abhor all cables of any kind, and only use them when absolutely necessary. Another issue with cell phone control is battery life, but I have overcome that by finding a phone (Samsung Galaxy S3, Ebay, $150) that seems to live FOREVER on the particular brand of battery that is readily swappable. (Babo, Ebay, $9) In airplane mode, I can get many days of backcountry life out of a single battery, but since I now also use my cell phone as a GPS map and logger, thanks to an app called Backcountry Navigator, (Android only, $9.99) …I went ahead and bought four total cell phone batteries.
But I digress. Now, with the Alpine labs Radian mk2, (which I’m supporting on Kickstarter and hoping to receive in a few months) I hope to be able to program timelapses from my phone, wirelessly, and with the ability to disconnect or turn off my phone as soon as a timelapse is started. There are also a couple other new features that I have barely begun to ponder uses for, including actual image transfer for exposure monitoring, and completely re-imagined bulb ramping options. (Previously, bulb ramping has proven to be highly un-useful for me, and I’ve had to do sunset-to-starlight timelapse progressions using basic aperture priority and manual exposure control.)
The other thing I’m excited about is the lightweight, affordable adapter for linear (slider) motion that Alpinelabs is kicking off as well. It is belt-driven, and mounts the Radian on the side, so hopefully it will be both stable and precise. Previously, such systems were extremely expensive and hefty, and complicated to set up and program, and even if I could have afforded them I wouldn’t have ever dreamed of lugging them on a high-mileage backpacking trip. Lately however more systems are becoming available that offer compact lightweight and affordable timelapse motion control.
This is, lately, what has me the most excited about photography equipment!