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Roger Hicks
04-19-2008, 02:06
Gitzo's Reporter carbon-fibre tripods; Artisan and Artist camera straps; what other top-flight products do you like? And what useful but unglamorous products? Hood-hats from OpTech; PrintFile neg sleeves; UltraPod table-top tripods; Nova developing tanks...

'Micro-tests' of some of these appear in http://www.rogerandfrances.com/reviews%20alpha.html but I'd be interested to know what others think makes their photography easier or better or more luxurious, excluding cameras and lenses (and film, paper or other recording media).

Of course, bags could be a whole thread on their own, so maybe we should exclude those too. Or maybe not.

Cheers,

Roger

oscroft
04-19-2008, 03:13
Luigi's cases and Gordy's straps. And my cheap, unglamorous, and unbranded film leader retriever.

projectbluebird
04-19-2008, 03:36
Two indispensable tools for photography: A&A straps, and ziploc bags!

oscroft
04-19-2008, 03:42
Oh, and Sharpie pens

mr_phillip
04-19-2008, 04:45
Luigi's neck straps, Gordy's wrist straps, Giottos Rocket Airs, the Sekonic TwinMate L-208 meter, the Ilford film retriever, Paterson tanks and reels and a good supply of IXMOO cassettes.

bmattock
04-19-2008, 05:21
Q-tips and Ronsonol lighter fluid. For cleaning and clearing stuck shutters on old fixed-lens rangefinders. Q-tips also used to clean digital sensors on dSLR.

Expo-Disc for setting white balance on digital SLR. Really my secret weapon for dSLR.

Gossen Digisix and Sekonic L-358 (w/ 1 deg spot meter attachment) light meters.

Remote shutter release (wireless for digital, standard cable type for film).

Wintec WBT-200 Data-logging GPS.

Kodakcraft developing tanks and aprons.

Diafine and D-76.

Rechargeable CR-V3 Li-on batteries and 2700 mAh Nimh AA batteries.

Linux, Vuescan, Exiftool, Perl, The GIMP, Konica-Minolta Scan Dual IV and Epson PHOTO Perfection 4490.

Small set of spanner wrenches and jeweler's (Wiha brand) screwdrivers from Micro-Tools.

Accessory-shoe clip-on rangefinder.

Columbia 'Bahama III Fishing Shirt' from Cabelas. SPF 30 protection, light-weight, many pockets, ventilated, and does not look like a "I'm a famous photographer" Domke vest. Cheaper, too.

Spyderco Parrot-beak pocketknife.

Mephisto shoes when working indoors.

Any old enlarger lens to be used as a loupe.

Spare pair eyeglasses.

Shantou ERA B&W film.

eBay.

Freestyle Photo.

B&H.

aad
04-19-2008, 05:26
My Guzzi. Takes me where I want to go.

pphuang
04-19-2008, 05:34
There's a camera strap called the "y-strap (http://figitalrevolution.com/y-strap/)" that's great - it lets your camera hang to the side, but allows you to bring it up to your eye quickly without catching on your clothes. I'm also a bit fan of Tim's "thumbs up (http://www.rangefinderforum.com/forums/showthread.php?postid=784033)."

photobizzz
04-19-2008, 05:46
I use the Deluxe wrist strap from prostrap.com that I like very much.

Naneu Pro Lima & Alpha bags

Steve Litt
04-19-2008, 06:06
Kept a good quality Chamois Leather in my camera bag for years for wiping, drying packing and wrapping spare lens in pocket in when out and about.Great smell when new too!Obligatory Moleskine pocket book.Great to see Roger has a place with the experts at long last.

Regards
Steve

Ken Ford
04-19-2008, 06:20
Tilley hats!

Ben Z
04-19-2008, 06:26
-disposable hotel shower caps (instant camera raincoat).

-tiny LED keychain flashlight

-thick, fuzzy-type microfiber cloth

-Leitz tabletop tripod & small black Leitz ballhead

-Older Leitz ballhead w/reversible 1/4"-3/8" on both ends

-Cam-Cane (walking stick converts to monopod)

-Pliobond and JB-WELD (adhesives for fixing almost anything camera-related)

-Set of Leica-M top-plate tools from Micro-Tools.com

-Camlogix shutter speed tester

-Contax off-camera TTL cord (works w/all TTL and non-TTL Leicas, smaller than Nikon cords).

-Voitlander double-shoe adaptor

Michael I.
04-19-2008, 06:47
Dr. Zhou half cases,
Crumpler bags,
watson bulk loaders,
Jobo tanks,
New Balance sneakers\Redback boots(depending on weather)

ferider
04-19-2008, 07:21
- ND filters
- digital light meter with contrast scale (my favorite is a big old meter from Gossen)
- A&A straps & GMP grips

Did I say ND filters ? :)

Cheers,

Roland.

David Goldfarb
04-19-2008, 07:34
You've already mentioned Gitzo tripods, and I'll add the Arca-Swiss B2 head, which has the strength/weight ratio of a ballhead and the control of a pan-tilt head.

Op-Tech Hood Hats are great.

For large format, the Suunto Tandem Clinometer-Compass is a very handy gadget for squaring up any kind of floppy view camera that doesn't have levels, scales and detentes, and if you like to work by calculation (which I don't usually) measuring the angle of the plane of focus and tilt and swing angles. Yeah, I know this is the RFF, but sometimes my Technikas act like RFs and sometimes they act like view cameras.

Somewhat less expensive is an angle finding level for measuring tilt angles and making sure the groundglass and lens are plumb.

Sharpies. Always handy to have sharpies.

Gaffer's tape--you never know when you'll need it.

Little spring clamps--useful for attaching square filters to odd sized things, holding small reflectors, pinning branches out of the way, and such.

Ex-Officio shirts, which are cool in the hot weather, UV resistant, and have pockets big enough for a 4x5" Grafmatic.

Hama rubber 3-position zoom lens shade--very compact way to have the proper shade for a variety of lenses (or for zooms, but that's not an RF thing), if you use step up rings on all your lenses.

The Nikor stainless steel sheet film tank. I process sheet film in the Nikor tank, trays, and using tanks and hangers, and they're all perfectly good methods, but the Nikor tank is really a marvel of manufacturing and would cost a fortune to make today. Jobo makes something similar in plastic, but the Nikor holds 12 sheets and the Jobo only six. They still sell for upwards of $130, though they've all got to be at least 25 years old, and I recently saw one go for over $200 without the metal band that keeps the sheets in place (a rubber band will also work for this purpose, so it's not entirely useless).

Jobo sheet film clips--really expensive now at $5.50 a piece (for a film clip!), but totally worth it if you need to process a lot of film and don't have a lot of room to hang it up. The clip pierces the corner of the sheet with a pin, so contact area is minimal but strong enough for any format, and it holds the film perpendicular to the drying line, so you can hang a lot of sheets of any format in a small space. I've got 40 now.

John Robertson
04-19-2008, 08:29
My Leitz NATRA/NAMAS negative viewer with punch, it belonged my photographer uncle, he bought it new in the 30's. I still use it and have never found anything better for the job!! Still in its original red box with instructions and receipt.

Dave Wilkinson
04-19-2008, 08:42
My 3inch bench lathe, as I can produce just about any adaptor, hood, soft release button, etc, as I need them! :)

Dave.

benlees
04-19-2008, 08:56
You people are hardcore! Being a newbie at this I carry a pen and note pad for exposures and such so I can go back and what worked and what didn't. I like the shower cap idea!

Chuck Albertson
04-19-2008, 09:03
Tupperware square flat tubs for carrying film on trips. They can hold 16 rolls of 35mm film out of the cans. The TSA people love them when I bother to ask for a hand check of my film at airports. I bought a half-dozen from my secretary about twenty years ago, and they're still going strong.

And a Guinness bar towel, for wiping off my camera when shooting in the rain.

nikon_sam
04-19-2008, 10:10
1 1/2" paint brush for cleaning dusty cameras
Sharpies...of course
Woolrich Guide (photo) Vest
Duracell AA batteries & the freebie battery tester
Foam (Soda/Beer) Can Insulator for protecting lenses in bag
Those bargin bins full of old lens & body caps...

MikeL
04-19-2008, 10:39
A hot, leggy, assistant (my wife).

aizan
04-19-2008, 10:54
upstrap
sk grimes lens spanner
cabin light panel
mamiya loupes
wiha screwdrivers (for repairs)

vincentbenoit
04-19-2008, 10:57
A good pair of shoes.

Vincent

sockeyed
04-19-2008, 11:06
My indispensable items:

Moleskine (there are different versions and sizes to consider) + ballpoint
Digimate III (portable hard drive with memory card slots and battery)
Newswear belt bags
Rough Guide!

back alley
04-19-2008, 11:20
wrist straps - current fave is luigi's

side grip - current fave is zeiss ikon (fits zi & cle)

ball cap - current fave is rff hat

microfiber cloth - current fave is oversized pentax cloth

pain killer - current fave is oxycodone

joe

BillP
04-19-2008, 14:13
Moleskine, Mont Blanc Meisterstuck Traveller Platinum propelling pencil, good guide books/maps, a Swiss Army "Mini-Champ" on my keyring to trim the leader for my LTMs, Leica M b2b coupling rings (WHY don't they make them anymore?), a Minox monocular, a shemagh (1000 uses), Helios multifinder, Luigi halfcases, Gordy wrist-straps, Abrahamsson Rapidgrip, LowePro Street&Field Light Belt - the list goes on.

Regards.

Bill

Roger Hicks
04-19-2008, 14:21
Erik's post about the Gitzos prompts the Part 2 of my question.

What was it about these great favourites that made them your favorites?

Sometimes, no doubt, it's merely a question of its being the only thing you've tried in a particular area -- which must be true in some cases of those who have seemingly listed half the equipment they own.

Here are four versions of slightly more detailed praise, apart from seconding Erik's view of the Gitzos:

Billingham cases and A&A straps: I find it hard to imagine anyone doing it better. My oldest Billingham cases are over 25 years old, and the A&A straps would evince "They don't make 'em like that any more" -- except that they do. I assume Luigi's straps are the same, but I've never seen 'em

OpTech and UltraPod: I can't readily imagine better use of simple materials. High stability in the latter cse, superb protection in the former.

And a question: why do people use full or half cases? I'm not saying you're wrong: just that I don't understand. Why make a camera bulkier and slower to reload?

Apologies, of course, to those who have explained why they like things. And thanks -- albeit qualified, because this is going to cost me money -- to those who have inspired me to look out for the things they recommend. I confess I had to look up 'shemagh' but I fear I may need one.

Cheers,

Roger

BillP
04-19-2008, 14:33
And a question: why do people use full or half cases? I'm not saying you're wrong: just that I don't understand. Why make a camera bulkier and slower to reload?


Entirely fair question, Roger.

I have four rangefinders - M7, M2, IIIc and IID. The M7 wears the Rapidgrip, the M2 and IIIc Luigi half-cases, and the IID is naked as nature intended. For me it is less about protection than handling. I have large hands, with long fingers and find a small camera can be harder to hold. The bizarre exception to this is the IID, which to me, is the perfect balance between weight and bulk as it is.

The slower loading aspect doesn't bother me. If I am going to machine-gun a subject I'll be using a DSLR anyway. I tend to use the need to change rolls as the cue to find a cafe and enjoy a cup of tea.

The only exception to this was when I was in Seville recently. I had the M2 around my neck and the M7 in my hand or shoulder bag. When I was shooting the rapidly changing Semana Santa parades I left the half-case in my bag. Whilst I was perfectly able to use the M2 without it, I have to say I missed it.

Regards,

Bill

sfb_dot_com
04-19-2008, 15:12
Bit of a subjective this one really, but here at the moment are my luxury items and why:

Berlebach Wooden Tripod - Tactile, the thunk as the legs slide down to full extension is soo satisfying, it's just proper retro, and it's not freezing to carry either.
Mamiya Paramender 3 - Like owning a Unicorn, and it works beautifully too with the above.
Epson V750 pro scanner - The whirring noise as it scans, just gets my creative juices flowing in anticipation (it's going right now! :) )

Here are some of the cheap Goodies I use:
Cable release - I feel like a proper photographer when I'm using it
Small folding reflector - A free giveaway from AP some years ago, indispensable and always with me
Ugly Betty the 60mm Macro - A donation from Holmes over at Nikonians, it's just a great lens
Folding scissors, a Christmas cracker 'swap' - Trim the leader on film for my Leica III (Did it in the dark last week too!)

A shorter list than some I think, and it would probably be different on a different day, but this is today's list. Some great thoughts above, it's like sharing the accumulated wisdom of years. Marvellous! :D

Regards to all

Roger Hicks
04-19-2008, 15:23
Some great thoughts above, it's like sharing the accumulated wisdom of years.

That was my feeling too. Some of it, you think, "That's dead obvious" or "What a poseur" or even "Oh, dear, he's missed the point [again]." Even so, there is more than enough here to make me (and, I hope, others) think "That's a good idea. I should try that..."

I especially liked your analysis of why you like things. Thanks.

Cheers,

R.

Vics
04-19-2008, 15:33
I love Hewes reels for film development, and changing bags for safety in the field and loading dev tanks.
VS

Gastel
04-19-2008, 15:37
A scarf/shemagh- it's always seems to be bl**dy cold when I'm out!
Waterproof boots (It's always wet and see above)
A flask of coffee/hot drink (see the two above!)
Leatherman - sorts nearly every tech problem in the field
Hat, gloves, notepad, pen.
mp3 player - headphones off of these have saved many a video shoot!!
A quick wit and good nature - these have gotten me out of more trouble than enough at times, as has the sense to put the camera down and walk away!
It's maybe not the list that Roger's after; but it's what I use! And it's priceless!!! (Yes - too many apostrophes - I know!!!!)

back alley
04-19-2008, 16:13
wrist straps - current fave is luigi's

side grip - current fave is zeiss ikon (fits zi & cle)

ball cap - current fave is rff hat

microfiber cloth - current fave is oversized pentax cloth

pain killer - current fave is oxycodone

joe

i didn't notice in the op that you were asking 'why' we liked these things...

wrist strap & grips, i like them because they are comfortable, make the camera easier to hold at my side, where i prefer it. they add to my feeling of security and i think i can shoot a bit slower if i have a sturdy hold on the camera.

ball cap, keep the sun out of my eyes, no need for sun glasses, which i find hard to focus if i'm wearing them.

microfiber cloth, good for lenses, camera bodies and my own specs when in need of a wipe down.

pain killers, bad back, arthritis in my knees, ankles and walking makes it all hurt, especially in the cold.

about the use of half cases, they make life easier shooting in fridgid temps.

Abbazz
04-19-2008, 16:42
- Op/Tech Super Pro strap: nothing is better to make you think the Fuji G690 around your neck is a Canonet.
- Voigtländer VC lighmeter to put on top of the big Fuji.
- Voigtländer double-shoe adaptor to allow the use of the lighmeter and the Fuji 50mm finder at the same time. Please Mr. K, give me a triple adaptor so I can add the Voigtländer bubble level for my superwide shots!
- No name lens pouches from B&H to protect the lenses without turning into a mushroom factory.
- Domke bag to put all this stuff.

Cheers!

Abbazz

Ronald M
04-19-2008, 17:39
Do Leica cassettes qualify as non camera. Ablon and bench winder.

I that does not qualify, Focomat 1C, V35, Mac computer, KM 5400 scanner.

MikeL
04-19-2008, 18:19
i didn't notice in the op that you were asking 'why' we liked these things...


Oh yeah, do I need to explain the 'why' regarding the hot, leggy assistant?

kmack
04-19-2008, 18:23
First: the Velbon 343 tripod, very small and light, it allows you to take it places where you normally would not take a tripod. In a pinch it has, just barely, supported my Crown Graphic. Surprising stability for a small and inexpensive 'pod. The 343 is cheap enough that if it is lost or broken it is easily replaced.

Second: Majestic Gearhead, the ultra heavy weight geared tripod head. My tripod head of choice for LF when possible.

kully
04-22-2008, 04:08
Not including straps/bags.

- Peli film case. Takes 6 rolls of 35mm film, is contoured to fit nicely in a back pocket (if that's your thing) and is yellow making it super easy to find in a camera bag or amongst your clothes in a bag.

- 0.7mm permanent marker. Great for popping notes on a roll of film.

- Berlin airport security. Because they were very friendly when I asked them to swab instead of Xray my neopan1600.

Rick Waldroup
04-22-2008, 04:54
When I go shooting, I wear a hat and take a large, soft, cotton towel. I put the towel in my back pocket and let it dangle down. A towel comes in handy for all kinds of things.

Other than camera gear, these two items are always in my bag. An Olympus Pearlcorder tape recorder and a small hand-hand Casio color TV. Sometimes, when on assignment, I use the tape recorder to record my thoughts or observations or for interviews. The TV I use for frequent long delays or downtime between shooting. If I get bored, I simply pop out the Casio and watch a bit of TV.

maddoc
04-22-2008, 04:59
Permanent Marker (in red) for marking film, Porter Bag to carry all the stuff, microfiber cloth, Masuko (If I remember the name correctly ...) stainless steel tanks and reels. (Easy to load and easy to clean), Changing bag.

Roger Hicks
04-22-2008, 05:04
When I go shooting, I . . . take a large, soft, cotton towel. I put the towel in my back pocket and let it dangle down. A towel comes in handy for all kinds of things.


Dear Rick,

Are you familiar with the Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy?

A man who knows where his towel is...

Seriously, great idea. As are many others here. It's just that yours prompted a reply.

Cheers,

R.

oftheherd
04-22-2008, 05:35
...
Foam (Soda/Beer) Can Insulator for protecting lenses in bag

...

Now that's an good idea I had never thought of. Thanks!

dlove5
04-22-2008, 05:41
Softies - For taking pictures of inside the camera bag. I actually do like the ability soft releases give me to use slower shutter speeds.
Wriststrap - The kind that screw into the tripod mount give me a lot better feeling of security than the kind that use the the strap lug.
Empty film canisters - to keep tiny things like Softies in.
Monopod - Also functions as a walking stick.

Rick Waldroup
04-22-2008, 06:16
Dear Rick,

Are you familiar with the Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy?

A man who knows where his towel is...

Seriously, great idea. As are many others here. It's just that yours prompted a reply.

Cheers,

R.

Yes, Roger, I am very familiar with that. :)

And it is so true, too. ;)

sepiareverb
04-22-2008, 06:17
Moleskine notebook- small size, fits in the camera bag, stays shut.

Sharpies XF point for writing on film cassettes & in the Moleskine- writes on everything.

Domke Gripper Strap- stays on the shoulder, less hot than a leather strap come summer.

Microfiber cloth. Easy.

shadowfox
04-22-2008, 12:27
What a fun thread.

My old Wenger pocket knife is a jack of all trade and is useful in the most unexpected manner while photographing (and also to open boxes upon boxes of GAS-reducing ... uh, gears :D )

Also a 100-pack of Clear File negative sleeves for various sizes. I just ordered them from Freestyle to put an end to my negatives sprawling on the floor. I don't know why I waited this long.

And that Domke F2 I still yet to obtain... drool!

Roger Hicks
04-22-2008, 13:00
Looks like I'm going to have to investigate Moleskines. Until now I had been resistant to the idea that 'just' a notebook could cost that much. But I suppose if A&A can ask 'just' that much for a strap...

Two questions: what is the magic of these things? And, how is their name pronounced? Mole-skine? Mole-ess-kine? Mole-ess-kin? Moleskin, like the trousers?

Cheers,

R.

Roger Hicks
04-22-2008, 13:07
What a fun thread.

My old Wenger pocket knife is a jack of all trade and is useful in the most unexpected manner while photographing (and also to open boxes upon boxes of GAS-reducing ... uh, gears :D )

Also a 100-pack of Clear File negative sleeves for various sizes. I just ordered them from Freestyle to put an end to my negatives sprawling on the floor. I don't know why I waited this long.


Over the last 40+ years I've had two Wengers then three Victorinoxes, which are easier to find (though not, I think, necessarily as good); the others wore out ( = became sloppy), or were lost, or broke (not easy, but you can do it). But I keep a separate knife (a ratty old Opinel) for opening parcels, to keep the sticky stuff off the blades of my Victorinox of the moment and Leatherman of the moment (three of those in 20 years; one lost, one stolen).

For neg sleeves, also consider PrintFile: http://www.rogerandfrances.com/photoschool/mt%20print%20file.html

Cheers,

Roger

jan normandale
04-22-2008, 13:25
• Wein flash slave peanuts
• dollar store bungee cords for attaching flash units to bars, rails etc
• "S" hooks for hanging stuff from to keep it off the dirt at dirty sites

palec
04-22-2008, 13:45
Micromega grain magnifier
Schneider loupe
Kenro storage binders
Tetenal cleaning cloths, sprays and spotting pens
Moleskine notebook
Koh-I-Noor mechanical clutch pencil
and Vendetta knife

harry01562
04-22-2008, 14:02
Tilley hats!

I second that, Mr Speaker... and they make great sunshades...

Also

* M-Classic original bag

* Sekonic L228 zoom meter

* some of the great tips mentioned here

Harry

Matthew Allen
04-22-2008, 17:26
I've just been looking at notebooks as I'm after a nice pocket one for exposure and developing notes. Has any tried Ciak notebooks? They're the same price as the Moleskines on Amazon but unlike the current Moleskines they're made of real leather.

Incidentally, is anyone else put off by the gushing devotion that Moleskines seem to generate? Some of the pages that come up on Google on these things make the Leica fetishizing we see look positively restrained. I love well made things but I think it's a mistake to imbue them with mystical properties. The old 'it's just a tool' line really should apply.

Matthew

MichaelW
04-22-2008, 19:46
Mamiya loupe

Just lightbox

Recently I bought a small Moleskine daily planner. I had been put off by all the gushing (about notebooks?!) however it is practical & well designed.

Roger Hicks
04-23-2008, 02:48
Incidentally, is anyone else put off by the gushing devotion that Moleskines seem to generate? Some of the pages that come up on Google on these things make the Leica fetishizing we see look positively restrained. I love well made things but I think it's a mistake to imbue them with mystical properties. The old 'it's just a tool' line really should apply.


Dear Matthew,

That's one of the reasons I'd never considered one: until now, no-one whose opinion I respected had recommended them, and they looked like the worst kind of vapid consumerism.

But how DO you pronounce 'Moleskine'?

Cheers,

R.

palec
04-23-2008, 03:09
Dear Matthew,

That's one of the reasons I'd never considered one: until now, no-one whose opinion I respected had recommended them, and they looked like the worst kind of vapid consumerism.

But how DO you pronounce 'Moleskine'?

Cheers,

R.

Dear Roger,

My first contact with Moleskine was not by it's fame, I accidently found their City Notebook series and I've tried one. Those are cityguides I'm writting by myself, there's a very good map, street index and blank pages waiting to be filled with own experience. So far I have Barcelona, Paris and Amsterdam and consider them to be the best pieces for big cities travelling. The lined plain notebook I'm using for dev time, printing and other notes, is the result of this positive experience.

bmattock
04-23-2008, 04:33
Dear Matthew,

That's one of the reasons I'd never considered one: until now, no-one whose opinion I respected had recommended them, and they looked like the worst kind of vapid consumerism.

But how DO you pronounce 'Moleskine'?

Cheers,

R.

Well, I use them too, so you may strike them off your list now.

Mole-ess-keen-ah, I believe.

I use them because they fit in my back pocket, they have firm covers and open flat so that I can write in them with one hand and the thing on my knee if need be, they don't go floppy when sweated on, they're not that expensive when purchased online, but they cost more than wire-loop notebooks one buys at the store, so they tend not to get lost. The pages are not removable except for the last several in the back, they have a pocket for keeping business cards. I prefer the 'Ruled Reporter Notebook'.

http://www.moleskine.com

Sincerely,

A. Poseur

varjag
04-23-2008, 05:29
I use a moleskine too, or rather what appears to be a copy of it. Was only few dollars at a book store, very compact and convenient for scribing notes on the go.

kshapero
04-23-2008, 05:58
A&A camera bags. Leicagoodies' hand strap and Camera strap. T.A.'s micro soft release. Film

Kim Coxon
04-23-2008, 06:00
I used to use a notebook called an "Alwych". Cheap, just the right number of lines for 36exp film (most seem to have 16 or 17 lines per page :bang:). They are still available mailorder from the makers in Scotland. The big downside is that there is no elastic and the paper whislt fine for pencil, tends to let ink show through. Then a couple of years ago I discovered a range made by "Castelli". Nice false leather covers in a variety of colours, good quality paper and a sensible price. When these ran out (though I have now found them online) I tried a Moleskine. No they are not "just a notebook" and do deserve much of the hype.

For me, the paper quality is superb for pencil, ballpoint, rollerbal or even good old fasioned ink. The size for me is almost perfect, god number of pages (about 10% more than the others) and a very good cover with a pocket in the back for odd bits of paper/tables etc. If I only used one notebook, this would be it. However, I do sometimes need more than one and then I also use the Castelli's as I can "colour code" them.

Kim

I've just been looking at notebooks as I'm after a nice pocket one for exposure and developing notes. Has any tried Ciak notebooks? They're the same price as the Moleskines on Amazon but unlike the current Moleskines they're made of real leather.

Incidentally, is anyone else put off by the gushing devotion that Moleskines seem to generate? Some of the pages that come up on Google on these things make the Leica fetishizing we see look positively restrained. I love well made things but I think it's a mistake to imbue them with mystical properties. The old 'it's just a tool' line really should apply.

Matthew

Roger Hicks
04-23-2008, 06:47
Well, I use them too, so you may strike them off your list now.

Mole-ess-keen-ah, I believe.

I use them because they fit in my back pocket, they have firm covers and open flat so that I can write in them with one hand and the thing on my knee if need be, they don't go floppy when sweated on, they're not that expensive when purchased online, but they cost more than wire-loop notebooks one buys at the store, so they tend not to get lost. The pages are not removable except for the last several in the back, they have a pocket for keeping business cards. I prefer the 'Ruled Reporter Notebook'.

http://www.moleskine.com

Sincerely,

A. Poseur

Dear Bill,

I respect your opinion (usually); it's just that it seldom agrees with mine. And you are hardly alone in endorsing Moleskines. There's an old saying that if the biggest fool speaks the truth, that diesn;t stop it being the truth. Even then, I wouldn't categorize you as the biggest fool of my acquaintance, not by a long way.

Thanks for the pronunciation guide and further information.

Cheers,

Roger

Matthew Allen
04-23-2008, 07:05
I used to use a notebook called an "Alwych". Cheap, just the right number of lines for 36exp film (most seem to have 16 or 17 lines per page :bang:). They are still available mailorder from the makers in Scotland. The big downside is that there is no elastic and the paper whislt fine for pencil, tends to let ink show through. Then a couple of years ago I discovered a range made by "Castelli". Nice false leather covers in a variety of colours, good quality paper and a sensible price. When these ran out (though I have now found them online) I tried a Moleskine. No they are not "just a notebook" and do deserve much of the hype.

For me, the paper quality is superb for pencil, ballpoint, rollerbal or even good old fasioned ink. The size for me is almost perfect, god number of pages (about 10% more than the others) and a very good cover with a pocket in the back for odd bits of paper/tables etc. If I only used one notebook, this would be it. However, I do sometimes need more than one and then I also use the Castelli's as I can "colour code" them.

Kim

Kim,

I'm sure they're a nice product and the chances are I will end up buying one or a similar notebook from the competition. All the same the hype does seem excessive (wait, isn't hype excessive by definition?).

I find that the manufacturer's site and many of the fansites make for fairly sickening reading. Some people have placed Moleskines on a very high pedestal as though they consider that their choice of stationery somehow elevates their artistic efforts to a higher plane.

Cheers,
Matthew

Kim Coxon
04-23-2008, 07:27
Perhaps, but you could say the same thing about Leica. ;) Or indeed about the make of a pen, a watch, or just about anything else. Over 30 years I have tried all sorts of notebooks but the Moleskine has out performed all of them for very little more. I don't know about elswhere but the Challenge books have all broken their spines, The wirebound versions are uncomfortable in the pocket and the "springs" either flatten or get caught. Others are like writing on blotting paper. Either that or as I said before, there are only 16 lines which is a PITA for a 36 exp film.

I don't agree with the hype and I don't use them because some artist in the past did in the same way I don't use a particular camera make because a certain photographer did in the past. I use them because they suit my pupose the best. Some may use them as a fashion accessory or because they think it makes their words more important. Just because they do doesn't alter their quality or attributes. ;)

Kim

Kim,

I'm sure they're a nice product and the chances are I will end up buying one or a similar notebook from the competition. All the same the hype does seem excessive (wait, isn't hype excessive by definition?).

I find that the manufacturer's site and many of the fansites make for fairly sickening reading. Some people have placed Moleskines on a very high pedestal as though they consider that their choice of stationary somehow elevates their artistic efforts to a higher plane.

Cheers,
Matthew

Roger Hicks
04-23-2008, 07:33
Dear Kim,

As I said, those whose opinions I respect...

Cheers,

R.

bmattock
04-23-2008, 07:37
Dear Bill,

I respect your opinion (usually); it's just that it seldom agrees with mine.


So you say, but I find that not only do I respect your opinion, I respect you (oh, to be damned with the faint praise of someone respecting my opinion only). I also enjoy your writing, here and in print. I generally agree with your conclusions, too.

I am often struck by some of your idiosyncrasies, either as funny or irritating or a bit of both. Sometimes I comment on them, other times not. I found your comment earlier in this thread about 'poseurs' somewhat in that vein. How exactly does not determine whom a poseur might be based on their choice of accessory items to take along?


And you are hardly alone in endorsing Moleskines. There's an old saying that if the biggest fool speaks the truth, that diesn;t stop it being the truth. Even then, I wouldn't categorize you as the biggest fool of my acquaintance, not by a long way.


I will work on it.


Thanks for the pronunciation guide and further information.

Cheers,

Roger

I live to serve.

Best Regards,

Bill Mattocks, a dogsbody

Matthew Allen
04-23-2008, 08:30
Perhaps, but you could say the same thing about Leica. ;) Or indeed about the make of a pen, a watch, or just about anything else. Over 30 years I have tried all sorts of notebooks but the Moleskine has out performed all of them for very little more. I don't know about elswhere but the Challenge books have all broken their spines, The wirebound versions are uncomfortable in the pocket and the "springs" either flatten or get caught. Others are like writing on blotting paper. Either that or as I said before, there are only 16 lines which is a PITA for a 36 exp film.

I don't agree with the hype and I don't use them because some artist in the past did in the same way I don't use a particular camera make because a certain photographer did in the past. I use them because they suit my pupose the best. Some may use them as a fashion accessory or because they think it makes their words more important. Just because they do doesn't alter their quality or attributes. ;)

Kim

You certainly could say the same about Leica. I love using mine for its solid mechanical elegance, but it's not magic. I do accept though that if you enjoy using your tools (cameras, notebooks, whatever) more, the results may be better than they might otherwise be.

Bill Mattocks, a dogsbody

That reminds me - never go shooting without that most important of accessories, a dogsbody.

Matthew

BillP
04-23-2008, 08:53
I've used a moleskine for about 5 years, for work. Each one lasts about 18 months in use, and at the end of that time is still robust, no pages have dropped out, the elastic is still "working", etc. I have used ones with squared paper, and with no lines at all. The pocket at the back is great for receipts for expenses. I put in a piece of cartridge paper cut slightly smaller than the pocket to provide a divider between business and personal receipts. It works really well - when it gets "uncomfortable" to close, it's time to claim my expenses...!

The curious thing is that when I first started using mine, I was the only person I know with one. Over the years all of my close colleagues have "succumbed". I am a big believer in travelling light, and with the Moleskine when I go to visit a client I can walk in without a briefcase or conference folder and still look "professional". When I go on holiday I have a separate Moleskine which I use as a journal of my travels. I sit in pavement cafes and write my impressions and memories of the place I am in. I average 5-10 pages for a weekend break, 15-20 for a longer trip.

Hanoi:

http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1052/1474671184_70c9cc3b81.jpg

Tobago:

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2229/1968412660_6440ca34cf_o.jpg

Seville:

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3003/2351850528_feff14fa2c.jpg

Regards,

Bill

David Goldfarb
04-23-2008, 09:40
I didn't mention it, but I'm also a fan of Moleskine notebooks. I have a couple of small ones, one for photo notes and one for writing projects, and then a larger one about 5x8" that I picked up recently when I wanted a good notebook for writing longer things when I need to get something done, but don't want to carry a laptop. They hold up well.

They make a nice little six-pocket notebook that's perfect for 3x3" gel filters. I usually keep it in by Gowland 8x10" bag.

I have a leather and cloth bound book that I usually use for taking notes at lectures and talks that I attend. I think it was made by an Italian maker. I started it in 1998, and I've used about 180 pages out of about 400. The cloth part of the cover is wearing out, so I'll probably have to have it repaired someday.

Before that I variously used spirals and composition books.

I've always prefered notebooks with plain pages, no lines or grids.

BillP
04-26-2008, 13:25
Just bumping this thread, to encourage more responses. It makes interesting reading.

Regards,

Bill

anglophone1
04-26-2008, 13:50
Billingham vest
Billingham stowaway [great bag for travelling stuff, turns into great belt bag on location]
Petzl head torch
Mini maglite
Decent Compass
Leitz [actually mines a minolta] table tripod
Space blanket [great reflector taped to wall]
Ziploc bags
Laguiole knife as restaurant steak knives are never good enough.;)

Tom A
04-27-2008, 16:33
Bags: I have standardized on Brady's Ariel Trout bags. You can stuff a live trout in it and keep it in water as it has a waterproof inner lining (removable), but I use it for cameras instead (no water). It has two outside pockets for film, pipe, tobacco matches etc. No padded inserts (obviously trouts dont like it) but a Hitchhikers Guide Towel! This is used to wrap around cameras, lenses etc. For travel I usually go with 3 bodies and 4-5 lenses. Two bodies in the Brady and one around my neck. Lenses occasionally on Leica's back-to-back caps or the small Voigtlander cases with space for finders/lens.
One criteria for a bag is that it must be able to take a8.5x11 magazine without having to roll it up!
Gaffer tape - essential. I usually tape 2 filmcans back to back and my vest (I think it is an Orvis something) can hold 5 of these back to back thingies in one pocket. If you use a lightcolored gaffers tape (red/Yellow) you can write specific info on a piece of it and tear it off and stick the the filmcassette. I usually do 18-20" long taped pieces for each "two-up" and that seems to last for 40-50 rolls.

I carry either a Voigtlander Meter II and/or the small Gossen Digisix. One is in the bag and the other one on a lanyard, attached to my vest pocket by one of the D-rings.

Also a lenscleaning cloth (usually one of the freebies from Leica/Pentax etc as I keep loosing them).

No screwdrivers or Leatherman as I never check luggage on flights. The Brady bag and a small grey shoulder bag has to take it all. Clothing is secondary as I find you can always get that at the destination, but film etc is not always available. In most big cities you can find screwdriver kits, knifes etc that you can throw away or just leave behind.

Same thing with tripod's - IF i would need one, they can be borrowed or bought on location. If not judicial use of rocks, fence posts, stairs etc has to suffice.

The most important thing is good shoes! Wear them in well before going and keep the leather supple! Brand is really immaterial as long as they are comfortable!

The older I get, the less stuff I want to drag along. Clothing, shoes and cameras should be comfortable.

Camera straps!!! I use evrything from Luigi,Art and Artisans, Leica and even some shoelace looking black straps that are small and neat.

If the camera can take a Rapidwinder, it has one on it and if it cant take a Softrelease, it aint coming along!

Film I either take along what I think I will need or arrange to pick up at the destination (though there is always 20-25 rolls along from the outset in case the plane gets side-tracked).

Ade-oh
04-28-2008, 01:48
What a good thread!

First off: Moleskines are nice notebooks (pronounced 'mole-skeen' afaik) but they are a masterpiece of marketing hype. Most stationers can sell you something very similar at a fraction of the cost without the associated twaddle. Also, if you read the small print, they are quite a new product which is simply recreating the spirit (or whatever) of the great mythical notebooks of the past... blah blah blah.

Apart from cameras and lenses (and obviously film, flash etc etc), the two things I find indispensable for my photography are my Minolta Autometer Vf light meter and Lastolite reflectors.

Tom A
04-28-2008, 08:53
Moleskin's and the look-alikes are nice, but I tend to loose notebooks and pens, so I go for the cheap stuff. Usually a reporters spiral bound one (similar to a "steno" pad). It has the advantage that you can write notes and tear them off. Pens tend to get lost so I stick with cheap plastic ones and one or two of the Faber medium point permanent felt markers for writing on filmleaders and film cassettes. The "Sharpies" are fine, but i like the broader "stroke" of the Faber as I usually have to decode it in the dim light of the darkroom.

Another essential is reclosable sandwich bags. I load the up with film (no box, no container), 10 rolls in each. In the morning it is easy to grab one and stick in the bag to supplement the 10 rolls that are in my vestpocket in back to back containers. They also confuse customs guys as they see these small baggies in the shoulderbag and dont count them. Last thing you want in some countries is being labelled "pro" as that usually means a "secret service" guy following you around.

Bill Pierce
04-28-2008, 12:48
Moleskin's and the look-alikes are nice, but I tend to loose notebooks and pens, so I go for the cheap stuff. Usually a reporters spiral bound one (similar to a "steno" pad). It has the advantage that you can write notes and tear them off.

I used to carry around reporter's note pads, but for long time I've carried small cassette recorders instead. I get them from Radio Shack. They're around 4 1/2 by 2 inches and fit in a pocket. Sometimes talking into a recorder is quicker and easier than writing when you're juggling cameras. Sometimes I just hand the recorder to the subject and ask them to tell me who or what I'm photographing. You can get some pretty interesting answers.

Bill

P.S. I also tend to drop the recorders every once in a while; so, they only last a few years. Still, they're relatively cheap.

Bill Pierce
04-28-2008, 12:58
Bags: I have standardized on Brady's Ariel Trout bags. You can stuff a live trout in it and keep it in water as it has a waterproof inner lining (removable), but I use it for cameras instead (no water).

Tom -

Did you know that Billingham was the cutter for Brady. That's why so many of the Billingham camera bags look like they could hold a trout if they replaced the padded lining with a waterproof one.

We all used to stop in London for a day or so to minimize jet lag before heading off to the latest conflict. You'd go the Queen's Fishery and pick up a Brady bag. None of us looked like gentlemen fishers. And a well dressed clerk would always exhibit national pride by saying, "Mr. McCullin was here a week ago."

Bill

Tom A
04-28-2008, 14:36
Bill,I like the Brady bags. Living in Canada, you had to phone them and they would tell you how much it was (faxing was useless as they tended to turn of the faxmachine to save electricity!). Then you went to the bank, got the correct amount in Pound Sterling, bought some Western Canadian Fishing magazine and stuck the money between the pages and mailed it off!
Depending on season (troutbag testing I always assumed) it would take 3-6 weeks and my bags arrived. I always bought three at a time and I soon need to restock!
Once I talked with one of the Brady's - dont know which generation - and I asked for a slight modification. "No. dont want to do that. It is made for trout fishermen, not photographers!". I think the design goes back to about 1936 and they really hasen't changed since then. Makes me believe that fisherman are even more conservative when it comes to gear than shooters!
Only problem with them is that if you carry them day after day, they will wear out the left side of your pants - even Levi's will succumb and I estimate the lifespan of a Brady to be about 3 pair of jeans. I suspect that I have gone through about 12-15 of these bags over the years and lots of jeans!
Interesting bit of photographic trivia with Mr Billingham having been a cutter for them - that explains the similarity between the designs. You learn something new every day!

Harry Lime
04-29-2008, 04:33
- Tri-X - Even with a lousy camera it works miracles.

- Brown viewing glass, as used by cinematographers. I think Ansel A. also lugged one of these around. This is how people used to preview shots, before Polaroids or chimping. (Wratten#90)

- Sharpie

- Rechargeable batteries for everything. Cheap and good for the planet.

- Tiny, basic GPS allows me to wander aimlessly in a strange location and still find my way home (or at least to my hotel)

- Black cloth gaffers tape.

kshapero
04-29-2008, 05:27
Man, what a nice read this thread has been.

kevin m
04-29-2008, 05:44
Oh yeah, do I need to explain the 'why' regarding the hot, leggy assistant?

A refresher, with pics, sure couldn't hurt. :D

I've found a dorky hat is a great photography companion. Anything that looks vaguely Australian seems to do the trick. ;)

David Goldfarb
04-29-2008, 07:53
Another very photo-sympathetic item from the fishing catalogue is this jacket that I picked up last week--

http://www.sierratradingpost.com/p/,59273_Redington-Bow-River-Jacket-Waterproof-For-Men.html

I've worn it in the rain the last couple of days, and it is very well sealed against water. The upper front pockets are good for 35mm or MF rollfilm. The larger front zippered pockets each can hold a 35mm rangefinder with a modest sized lens or 6x6 folder (I usually carry a Voigtlander Perkeo II just for walking around) or a notebook. There is also an inside zippered pocket for a notebook. The two back pockets that are really reachable without taking off the jacket are big enough for a 4x5" Grafmatic filmholder each or two or three regular holders or a trout, and the bottom front flap pockets are each big enough for a small to medium sized lens on a Linhof board or a light meter.

If you are on the Sierra Trading Post mailing list, you get discount offers daily it seems, and I was able to get this jacket last week for about $95.

jan normandale
04-29-2008, 12:17
camera bags.. I use a Filson shoulder bag with two dome closure external pockets and side pocket. The bag is brown canvas the strap real leather w brass rivets and attachments. It's unpadded.

I have used ziplocks for camera cases and film for a long time. So I merely put a "shop cloth" at the bottom of the bag and load up the cameras. It'll take a Fuji BL G690 or two TLR's or a couple of RF's + 2-3 lenses. The outer pockets hold 135 on the left , 120 on the right. The side and rear open pockets hold batteries, doodads and print outs plus notebooks.. not a moleskine because I shop at the "dollar store"

I've never had a let down from this bag (http://www.filson.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2092394&cp=2069836.2065001.2075128&parentPage=family) ever. After 4 years of industrial shooting and hauling up to 4 - 5Kg of equipment it's stitching is still intact, the strap is still fine and the hardware is aged but performing like the first day.

But.. it needs to be cleaned ;- )