For bigger things, I did a review for, I like to do a follow up after few months, to make an update on how it is to use them. And since it just has been two months I got the Surface Pro 4, today I will share with you how it is.

Stability & Reliability

For the whole time I was a part of the Windows Insider program. So the version of Windows 10 I used on the Surface Pro 4, was always the newest one from the fast ring. If you are a part of it, you know that Microsoft is releasing a new version of windows almost weekly now. I also always kept all software up to date.

In the two months, I had a blue-screen error once. I had no other errors, restarts or hiccups at all. The problem with the crashing video drivers was corrected few days after I posted my review. Actually, the only repeating problem I found is a bit strange one. When I use hibernate, after the Surface wakes up, I sometimes can’t stream video to it. It’s just crazy choppy and slow. Not sure if this is caused by the wifi driver, but a restart always solves it. But this is more of an annoyance than a real problem.

Keyboard & Pen

I thought I would not like the keyboard. I write with all 10 fingers and my normal keyboard is a MS natural ergonomic keyboard, so much bigger, angled and split in the middle. But to my surprise I really like the keyboard. It’s big enough for me to work it, it is not that bouncy and it’s very responsive. I did write quite a few articles for the blog while laying in bed with the surface on my knees and it was still fine :). The touch-pad works OK, but I got a mouse for the surface, so I prefer not to use it.

I have not used the pen for editing at all. But I did use it for taking quick notes, to mark up web pages (it was great when I was preparing the page update, just loading a work in progress version into edge and then use the pen to note needed changes right there) and I tried a bit of drawing, not that I really know how to. I got a program called Mischief, which is an endless drawing/note taking canvas, and that is a great companion to the pen. All the time I had 0 issues with it.

Both keyboard and pen magnets are strong enough to hold them in place and not even when putting surface in the bag either of them ever got loose.

Performance & Battery

I haven’t done much photo editing on it recently, but I did quite a lot of other Photoshop work, like creating flayers and similar. I was very pleasantly surprised by how it managed to keep up and even after hours of work I never heard the fan. Once I even forgot to plug in the power cord, and I haven’t noticed it at all for over three hours.

There were of course instance when it got taxed quite more. Especially when working in Ligthroom, the fans come on rather quickly. But in a more relaxed situation, having few Edge tabs open, video playing in the background, and few more apps, I never once noticed them on. Actually, mostly they turn on when you just leave the surface on and you do nothing. The system then starts to probably do some maintenance tasks and heats up for few minutes.

On average I was getting around 6 hours of battery in my use. Maybe not the best, but enough for me.

Durability & Software

In the two months I got no scratches or any other blemishes on the Surface. But since I’m always very careful with my things, that is not really a surprise :)

My favorite feature of the Surface has to be Windows Hello. It works for me 100% of the time and I have not needed to type my password once after the initial setup. This really should be standard on every single PC. Also Edge was the only browser I used, as it is great with scaling web pages on such high dpi screen.

The system boots up crazy fast, and I have not seen a real difference between full startup and hibernation.

Conclusion

I have not turned on my Nexus tablet once in the last two months. That on its own should tell you how satisfied I am with the surface as a tablet. Once one gets used to some different controls, it’s just great. On the other side, it’s also a really nice laptop. It’s so small when placed in a bag and still really powerful.

One of the accessories, I felt the need for last year, was also a way to shade the camera while shooting through a window. Doing this with just a jacket or something similar is just not effective enough and is just cumbersome. So in the end I went ahead and ordered a LENSKIRT. For what it is, its not the cheapest accessory (49usd right now) but if it helps, thats secondary.

I have tested a new version of the LENSKIRT, which corrects the quality problems I mentioned here. You can find the update here.

What’s a LENSKIRT

LENSKIRT is a cover you attach to a window using suction cups. Once that is done, you put the camera from the back into it, and tighten the drawstring to seal the back of the LENSKIRT. Like this, you completely cover the camera, and prevent any light from creating reflections on the glass.

LENSKIRT - review
LENSKIRT - review

In the package you get a LENSKIRT and a short flier with few tips on how to use it.

Build & Quality

The quality is a bit of a disappointment. The front part is from a solid material, but the back cloth feels really flimsy and cheap. It’s even partially translucent, as you can see on the previous photo. The way the LENSKIRT is sewn together looks like someone was in a hurry, and didn’t care that much. On my piece, one corner is not properly aligned and the inside of the thick front material is visible. Also the way the big pieces are sewn together looks ugly and very amateurish (as you can see from the included photo). If the price was 10 dolars, I would say I got what I payed for, but with the higher price, I was expecting much more.

LENSKIRT - review
LENSKIRT - review

The suction cups are nice and each one has a small nob on it, to make the detaching easier.

Does it work?

I had no issues attaching the LENSKIRT to glass. It takes a bit of experimenting to find a good order in which to attach the suction cups, but it does work. Also putting the camera inside is easy.

LENSKIRT works really nicely in removing the light reflections once used. Here is an example for you. Same settings, same position of the camera, same lighting inside the room. The first shot is without the LENSKIRT, the second is with the LENSKIRT.

LENSKIRT - review
LENSKIRT - review

As you can see, I got rid of all the reflections. But to show you better the inside, here is a photo with the camera zoomed out and pulled a bit back. There is a bit of a light leak around the sides, but you would not see that wide anyway, as you would see the suction cups in the shot. To get best results, the camera lens should be much closer to the glass.

Conclusion

The LENSKIRT works great on what it should do. But the quality is not representative of the price it costs. If you know you will be shooting through the glass a lot, you should get it. If no, that you don’t need one.

I have tested a new version of the LENSKIRT, which corrects the quality problems I mentioned here. You can find the update here.

For a while now I needed to replace my 10 stop ND filter. I used a Hoya 400 filter until now, but due to a small accident some time ago, when it got loose from the lens, and hit a dirt road, there were many small marks on it. It just got too tiresome to clean everything on every single photo.

This time, I wanted to go with a filter system, to allow for better flexibility and application. I started searching around, and in the end, I chosen the Formatt-Hitech filters, the Travel Filter Kit, Elia Locardi Signature Edition, Firecrest series (details on the official site here). Elia is a great photographer and a friend and I trust that he would only give his name to a quality product.

Formatt-Hitech Filters
Formatt-Hitech Filters

Whats in the kit?

So this is not just a single filter, but a whole kit. where you get everything you need to start with. The Travel filter kit consists of:

  • an aluminum filter holder for the filter size one chooses + a spacer for 4mm thick filters
  • one lens adapter in the size you choose (I chosen the 82m for the 16-35 lens)
  • ND 3.0 square filter – this is a 10 stop ND filter
  • ND 1.2 square filter – this is a 4 stop ND filter
  • ND 0.9 soft grad filter – this is a 3 stop soft graduation filter
  • filter pouch for three filters
  • gaskets for the square filters
  • replacement and shorter screws for the filter holder
  • booklet with Elias photos and tips about using the filters
Formatt-Hitech Filters
Formatt-Hitech Filters

I chosen the 100mm filters with a 82mm adapter, that I needed for the Canon 16-35mm f2.8. There are two types of filters available from Formatt-Hitech. There are Firecrest, which are made of glass, and ProStop filters, which are made from resin. I could not really find any significant difference mentioned between these to, and I chosen Firecrest for myself, as the price by the seller I ordered the kit was only very slightly bigger than the resin ones.

I also got a second adapter ring, the 77mm one, for all my other lenses. Formatt-Hitech provides two tipes of adapter rings. There are standard and wide angle adapters rings. To show the difference, here is a small diagram of the cross section.

To explain this, the wide angle places the ring behind the front element of the lens, while the standard places it in front of the lens. So for very wide lenses, the standard one would cause vignetting. They ship the wide angle ones with the 100mm holder, but I mistakenly ordered a standard one for the 77mm adapter. Still, that would probably be not problem, as those lenses are not as wide.

Formatt-Hitech Filters
Formatt-Hitech Filters

From the content of the kit, I’m missing only two things. One is a pouch for the filter holder or a rubber ends for the screws of the filter holder. The screw ends are quite sharp and I fear that just having it as it is in a camera bag, could end in damaging the bag or some other camera equipment. Secondly, some short introduction to the holder would be nice. This is my first system of this type and even though I did quite a lot of research beforehand, I still had questions. For instance, a mention about the gaskets (square sticker applied to the filter to create a better with with the holder) would be great somewhere. I seen other unboxings, where the photographers had no idea what they were. Even on the official site it took me quite a while to find a mention of them. Or if I should remove the 4mm spacer when only having 2mm filters, as putting a filter right next to the holder without the spacer, makes a very ugly sound, and I feared I cold damage the filter (I solved this by leaving the spacer and applying the gasket. Like this it fits very nicely).

This is not really a big problem, but one that could be solved very easily.

The build quality is very nice. The main part of the holder is made from aluminum with the holders from a sturdy plastic. I expect a lot of scratches to appear rather quickly, as for instance the adapter ring shows signs where the holder was attached almost immediately, but thats from the nature of the material.

Putting the adapter on the lens is easy as screwing on a normal filter and once you tighten the screws on the holder the filters hold nicely in place.

Formatt-Hitech Filters
Formatt-Hitech Filters
Formatt-Hitech Filters

I had only a little time to try out the filters in the field, so don’t take this as a review. But here are some of the first test shots. The first one on the left, is taken without any filter at 1/8th of a second. The white balance is set based on the snow on the right. The second one, is taken through the 10 stop ND filter (ND 3.0), at 131 seconds. The white balance is exactly the same as the first one had. So here you can see this green tint this filter introduced to the photo.

The last one, is the same 131second shot, but with the tint and white balance changed to compensated for the ND filter in Lightroom. As you can see, the green shift was quite easy to remove.

I will have to take many more photos through these filters to get a better feel for them, but for now, they look promising. So expect a bigger review, with many more example photos in a month or two :) And if you want to know more about long exposure photography, check out this article.

Together with the Everyday messenger bag (you can read my impression of that one here), I also got the LENSkit from Peak Design. The LENSkit is also a part of the Capture lens pack from Peak Design. The LENSkit is an attachment for the Capture clip, that allows for two lenses to be mounted on the outside of you backpack or on your belt. You can even use it to connect a strap to the lens, and just hang it form your shoulder.

The idea is interesting. It can happen often, that you need to put a lens down, while you are changing for another lens.

LENSkit
LENSkit

 
In the box you will find the LENSkit itself, two covers, two anchors that can be attached in three different points and a carrying bag.


 
The LENSkit looks like if you took two camera lens attachments, and put them back to back. Like this you can attach a lens from either side, exactly the same way you would attach it to your camera. Then the whole LENSkit can be attached to a Capture camera clip (it can rotate in that attachment) or via the provided anchors to different camera straps that Peak design makes.

If you don’t need one of the camera lens attachments, you can cover it with provided covers, so no dirt gets in there. The size of the LENSkit is almost exactly as the size of the Canon 50mm 1.8, as you can see on one of the photos here. It also looks nice with Canon L lenses, due to the red accent color :)

LENSkit
LENSkit

From playing around with it, I would probably never attach it to the bag. I just know I would hit it into the first door-frame I would pass through (happened to me few times with an attached tripod to the bag :)). But the other use, having it hanging from the belt or from the shoulder looks much interesting to me. Especially if I would, for instance, been covering an event, and had two lenses I needed to switch between often (lets say a 24-70 and a 50mm lens).

The LENSkit seems to be more suited for smaller lenses, or one bigger, if you hang it from your shoulder. I would not put two bigger lenses on it, as it would loose balance and would not be comfortable to carry. Also one small and one big work quite well.

I think that the main use here, is if you want to carry one replacement lens. That means, you would have a lens in the bottom position, and a cover in the top. When you would like to replace the lens on your camera, you would remove the cover, put the lens from the camera there, remove the second lens, put it on the camera, rotate the LENSkit and then put the cover back. Thats the main use I would see for the LENSkit.

LENSkit
LENSkit

I don’t think I would use it when shooting from a tripod. In that situation, I’m not in a hurry, and I don’t hold the camera, so replacing the lens from the bag is easy. On the other had, as I mentioned before, if I was moving around, covering an event, having a second lens on the shoulder could prove very useful, without having to carry the whole bag.

I’m looking forward to trying it out in the future, and if you want to know more about the LENSkit, you can check out Peak Design website (btw. you can use the code HDRSHOOTER for a 10% discount of all Peak Design products :)).

After a bit of delay due to incompletely written address, I finally got my hands on the Everyday messenger bag by Peak Design today.

This was not a normal purchase, but as before, I backed a Kicstarter campaign Peak Design had a few months ago. There I chosen this charcoal messenger bag, with the field pouch and the capture lens clip. So quite a lot of things to try out and get a feel for :)

So let’s look today at my first impressions of the Everyday messenger bag.

Design & Details

For a moment after I unpacked the bag, I was a bit disappointed, that the strap is aranged as one would carry it on the right shoulder. Even all the photos attached show it being carried like that. But luckily, it quite easy and straightforward to remove the shoulder strap from the bag, and just turn it around, and attach it back on. Like this one can set it up for any shoulder, and you will have the shoulder adjustment on the right side (thats in the front). Of course one has to also switch the positions of the waist straps, but thats also quite easy.

Everyday messenger bag
Everyday messenger bag

 
There are so many small details on the bag, that show that the designer team thought about different situations. Between the color coded pockets (green for empty, red for full cards or batteries), hidden phone compartment, hidden keys compartment, easily adjustable dividers (really easily), hidden cross strap and more, they thought of almost everything (maybe everything, time will tell :))

The most interesting design choice are the multiple attach points for the cover flap. They allow the bag to adjust it’s size to the content, from 13.5l up to 21.5l in volume. This removes one of the problems with most bags (not just camera ones), that even empty, they are just too big. Another very nice part, are the dividers. They are so versatile and easy to adjust, that I’m surprised that nobody used a stile like this before.

Everyday messenger bag
Everyday messenger bag

 
I’m quite happy that they didn’t skimped on the shoulder strap. It’s really wide and nicely padded. Also the length seems about right. They included an interesting locking mechanism, that makes lengthening and shortening the strap much easier.

And another very nice design choice is the flat bottom of the bag. With that, it can stand on its own, without tiping towards any of the sides. The bottom is even covered by a sort off rubber material, to prevent water damage.

Size

First impression of the bag is, that it really looks small. This is probably due to a quite unusual shape, sort of similar to a V, where the top is wider than the bottom. Additionally, the cover flap can attach in multiple positions, so it can change the size as one needs it. This does makes it smaller than a comparable capacity bag.

 
I tried it out by putting my most carried gear into it. With a Canon 70-200, 28-70 and a 16-35 attached to the Sony a7r, I was still able to close the bag to its smallest size, without any problems. This means that I can still put the pouch on top, and still have quite a lot of space.

Build quality

During the years I had quite a few camera bags. My favorites were the two ones I use right now, one by Domke and one by Think-tank. Quality vise, the Everyday messenger bag seems really similar. I found no manufacturing errors on mine, all seems to be well made. I especially like the zippers, that ale completely covered up from outside and move easily.

Everyday messenger bag
Everyday messenger bag

 
Time will tell how it fares, but I do have quite high hopes here.

The Field Pouch

Together with the Everyday messenger bag, I also got the Field pouch. This is a small pouch, that you can use to keep smaller things inside the bag. You can even use it as a small shoulder bag, if you have a camera strap made by Peak Design or attach it to your belt.

It uses the same trick as the messenger bag, so it can close in multiple positions, so being as small or as big as you need it to be.

Everyday messenger bag
Everyday messenger bag

First impressions

I’m really impressed by the bag. Still will need to see how it is in regular use, but for now, it looks really well designed, with lost of small touches, and nice build quality. I’m really happy with my purchase :)

For more about the bag and other Peak design products, check out the Peak Design homepage (btw. you can use the code HDRSHOOTER for a 10% discount of all Peak Design products :)).

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