Friday, December 10, 2010

Holiday Gear Guide 2010 - Part II of II (B&H)

B&H Gear Guide

The following are products found on B&H’s web site in special collections created exclusively for ronmartblog.com readers. You’ll notice some items are offered at their lowest price of the year thanks to instant rebates and price drops only offered during the holiday season. Stock up and enjoy from the following categories:

Cameras, Lenses & Flashes ($5200 – $370)*


70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM – Lowest Price of 2010!!!

If I won the lottery I’d own everything on this list! Items that I do own from it which have been reviewed on this blog are:

  • Canon 1D Mark IV – In my opinion this is the best camera Canon has ever made and its really the only camera gear purchase I’ve made where I’ve never had buyers remorse – not even more a minute!
  • Canon 5D Mark II – This camera has redefined videography and Hollywood, but I don’t have time for video. I love it for the great camera it is and find myself using it every time I can use a tripod and for select photo shoots. See my Photographer’s Notebook and notice how many times it shows up as the camera of choice. I use the 1D Mark IV more, but I seem to capture the shots I care about the most with this one.
  • Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM – From the moment I first used it at the Olympics (as discussed in the link) I was blown away, and even now I am amazed that a lens this good is this inexpensive. I know that sounds nuts given how much it cost – especially compared to its predecessor, but it’s hard to find a piece of glass from Canon that can outperform it on sharpness, image stabilization (IS) and AF performance – at any price level (including primes).
  • Canon G12 and S95 – Honestly both are great cameras. I chose the G12 because it meets my needs well but if my wife had the final say so she’d take the S95 for its wonderful form factor. You can’t go wrong with either.
Printers & Paper ($2145 – $15)*

My printing series has been a huge hit so my guide wouldn’t be complete without some recommendations. There’s tons of great products out there and I wish I could feature more, but this is great start for printer and paper choices. Here’s a list of what I own and/or reviewed up to this point on the blog (and many more articles are still to come):

  • Canon iPF6300 – It’s probably due to the wide format, but as it stands right now this is my favorite printer – period. I love the image quality and the user-friendliness of it is second to none. Its companion the 6350 is identical in performance but offers a hard drive for caching, so you can’t go wrong with either. The iPF8300 isn’t listed simple because I haven’t used one enough to recommend it, but it’s hard to store such a beast so for most this is as big as you’ll ever want to get.
  • Epson Stylus® Pro 3880 – This thing rocks and I’ve included the 4900 in my list as the only things lacks on this printer (by design) are all available on the 4900. Sure, I’d probably love a Stylus® Pro 7900 just as much, but I’m living with the Canon iPF6300 so it is hard for me to imagine something better than it at this point. This is a great desktop printer and if you can afford it then do like all of the print masters I’ve interviewed and keep a 17” on your desk for those times when the big beasts are just too much for the job.
  • Epson Exhibition Fiber – This paper just rocks plain and simple, so if you own an Epson you owe it to yourself to put your best work on this paper (but feel free to do your test prints on Luster!). It’s also a fantastic paper for Epson’s Advanced Black & White Mode. It works with Canon papers too if you are willing to waste a bunch building a media configuration file for it. That’s expensive, but worth it since Canon’s Polished Rag has been in limited supply lately. My other favorite Epson Signature Worthy papers are featured as well – I love them all!
  • Canon Papers – All of the Canon papers listed are my favorites but I just haven’t had time to do formal reviews yet. They are coming so if you want a sneak peek into the future reviews, this is it!
Computer Products ($4239 – $50)*


Lenovo W701ds

People are always asking me for computer advice and they are surprised when I tell them that much of my work is done on my Lenovo or Apple laptops. I only use laptops with desktop caliber performance so you can rest assured that my recommendations are suitable for those 500MB Photoshop files I seem to find myself creating every time I image files these days. They are expensive, but they are machines that offer no compromises over the desktop so you can have a great experience no matter where you are in the world. Here’s my computer recommendations as well as my monitor, digital tablet, and a couple DVD & book recommendations:

  • Lenovo W701ds – This is the best photographers machine on the market – period. I love it and have managed to keep my loaner for another few months as I can’t bear the thought of parting with it. Sure my Mac (featured in the list as well) is smaller and sexier, but it’s a toy by comparison to this phenomenal machine.
  • NEC PA Series Displays – I first started mentioning this display in my Douglas Dubler interview and have been raving about them ever since I got mine. I’ll be doing a review in the future of both the 24 & 27” models as well as their accessories (included on the list).
  • Wacom Intuos 4 – I love my Intuos 3, but I lust for the 4 (this is on my wishlist too). I’ve used it and my guest blog article about it has been a popular one all year long.
  • The Adobe Photoshop CS5 Book for Digital Photographers – I have reviewed and loved The Adobe Photoshop CS4 Book for Digital Photographers as well as the CS3 version and it’s a staple on my What Photoshop Books Should I Read? article. I have the CS5 version and am reading it but haven’t had time to finish & review it yet, so I wanted to let people know this is a must own book.
Color Management Products ($1850 – $99)*


GTI PDV-2020EX

With the exception of the i1IO table for which I long for, these are products that are on my desk as I write this and that I use to improve my work. Here’s the ones featured in reviews on this blog:

  • i1XTreme – For those who are passionate about color management.
  • GTI PDV-2020EX – I love this device and have yet to meet someone who hasn’t been blown away by how great it is to view your work in this box (and that includes well over 200 people who have seen my box in real life)
  • X-Rite ColorMunki – This is the best value in town and works great. I know it is a little more expensive than non-spectro versions, but this is something that anyone who cares about their print quality should own at a minimum (with the i1XTreme being the step up). I’ll also be covering the ColorChecker Passport soon too!
Memory Cards & Readers ($90 – $33)*


Lexar Professional ExpressCard
CompactFlash Reader

When I did my “Is a faster Compact Flash card worth the extra money?” article at the Olympics I burned my bridges with SanDisk and don’t expect to hear from them ever again. Why? Because they didn’t like me telling you the truth – despite the hoopla on Rob Galbraith’s web site, the reality is that many people only care about the performance of their memory cards in their camera as that is when performance can mean the difference between getting the shot or not. Using the fastest camera’s in the business – the D3s and 1D Mark IV (both in my guide) I proved that you really don’t get any benefit from the fastest cards. It’s also common for people to not have a reader on their computer that can keep up with the latest cards, so there’s a much better value to be found in the middle of the road cards which I’ve featured on my list – they will perform faster than your camera can buffer its data and they aren’t insanely expensive. I also tossed in my favorite ExpressCard reader which is the fastest CF reader I’ve ever used and can transfer data at speeds near its claimed 133MB/sec when writing to a fast SSD drive.

Accessories ($200 – $18)*


Sennheiser MKE 400 Compact
Video Camera Shotgun Microphone

This is just a collection of things that don’t fit in any of the other categories, yet I own and can’t live without. I demonstrate the Digital Target in my ExpoDisc review (which I also recommend) and I have a very old review of the Hoodman Loupe that still basically applies.  The shotgun microphone shown is at the top of my wish list as my audio sucks in my videos and this is the perfect solution!

* = Prices as of 11/23/2010 and may include mail-in rebates. Prices subject to change without notice and are provided simply as an approximate range.

Don't forget it is Instant Rebate Season!

B&H Photo & Accessories Rebates View AllSandisk RebatesEpson RebatesTamron Lens RebatesOlympus RebatesPanasonic RebatesNikon RebatesCanon Rebates

and B&H has it’s own special offers too:

Conclusion

I appreciate B&H for helping me out here to bring you all of this info in these customized web pages and check back often as I may be tweaking them as we go for some last minute additions! I do not recommend products I do not love, so if you see it in this series then you can rest assured that I’d feel confident giving the product as a gift to a close family member or recommending that they spend their hard earned money on these products.

Happy Holidays to everyone of all faiths!

Be sure to visit Part I of Ron Martinsen’s Holiday Gift Guide 2010 on ronmartblog.com for huge savings from great companies like Nik Software, onOne Software, Photomatix, Topaz Software, and more! 

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The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity

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