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.


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 :)).

To continue from the Gitzo tripod review, I posted a few days ago, here are my thoughts on the Sunwayfoto XB-44 ball head and the DLC-50 Knob/Lever Combo Clamp that I use with it.

SunwayfotoSunwayfoto is quite often promoted as a cheaper alternative to more pricey heads, while still providing a comparable quality. And as I didn’t like what Gitzo was offering, and getting the RRS head is crazy pricey in Europe, I decided for this one.


The build quality is really nice. The head is massive and very nicely veighted. I noticed no degradation in the locking mechanisms and all works the same as first day I got it. Even it being a painted metal, I got no scratches on the main body, only few around the corners, where the two slits are.

It’s the same with the Combo Clamp. I did expect more scratches, as it’s painted metal, so I was really pleasantly surprised.



With the lenses I used on it (up to 70-200mm f2.8) I noticed no sagging or any other movement when once locked. When unlocked, the movement is very smooth, due to the size of the ball. It took me a little while to get used to the two knobs system (as the last head I used had no separate panning), but of course its better this way.

I seen many reviews complaining about the clamp hitting the side of the head when rotated by 90 degrees. I have not really experienced this issue, but this is probably dependent on which clamp you use. With the DLC-50 it touches the side of the head only when you point the camera straight up. Still, I don’t think this creates any problems.

The only real issue with the head I had, was with the tension wheel, which is on the main knob. What happened to me was, that by normal use, it would tighten itself over time. Like this, from time to time I was faced with a ball head locked tightly, and I was not able to loosen it at all by hand. So I had to use a coin or something similar, to loosen the tension wheel, so I can use it again. While this is really an annoying problem, it happened to me maybe once a month, so I don’t see it as such a huge problem.

Combo Plate

When I got the XB-44 head, I replaced the default screw knob clamp with the DLC-50. The reason was that I wanted a quick release for it. Looking back, this was a pointless replacement. The problem I found is, that the quick release is just not working as I thought it would.

Wit the ball head, I got a L-bracket, a normal plate and a nodal slide. One would think that if I set the lever clamp in one way while using one of those, I would be able to use any other without having to readjust the knob. This is not the case. So each time when I have to switch, I either have to loosen or tighten the clamp, as the widths are just not the same. The differences are not big, but I would have expected them to be all the same.

Additionally, it’s often quite hard to take out the plate after unlocking the clamp, and I had to loosen the knob anyway. If I would not use the safety screws that go on the bottom side of the plate, I could have just slide it out. But that it would slide it out also when only partially opened. So with these problems, it was actually pointless for me to replace the default knob clamp that was there before, as I had to use the knob often anyway.


Overall I’m quite happy with the head. The quality is great, the main functionality is great, the small problems are annoying, but are not really a deal-breaker.

For most of the last year I have been using the Gitzo GT2542 tripod, and today I thought I share with you my thoughts on this carbon fiber tripod.

Gitzo GT2542 is a 4 section carbon fiber tripod from the Mountanier series. It’s 56 cm in length, with minimum height of 15 cm and maximum height of 139cm with the column down and 167 with the center column up. I chosen this one, as I needed something more sturdy and higher, than the Manfrotto 190XproB that I used for years. One should have a tripod that is so hight, that you can put the camera at your eye level, and this one fit the requirement.


The tripod is very sturdy. It’s of course even better if you are using a lighter camera, like the Sony a7r. The manufacturers declares that the tripod is recommended for up to 200mm lenses (with a maximum of 300mm), and it my use, with the Canon 70-200mm f2.8, I did have few problems with keeping it perfectly stable at 200mm, especially for long exposures. Even weaker wind sometimes resulted in a blurry images. I had no issues with shorter focal lengths.

The leg locking mechanisms are easy to use, but they require a bit of getting used to, if you are changing from a different type, for instance the Manfrotto locks. It’s very easy to just grab all the locks at once (if your hands are bigger :)) and unlock them with one move. Of course since there are 9 locks in total, it takes a few more moves to lock them all in place. I miss that there is no way to tell, just by quickly looking, to tell if the leg is locked or not. Since there are 9 of them, it happened to me, that I missed one, and it’s hard to see which one until your tripod starts dipping under the weight. I actually thought about painting the inner side of the lock mechanisms, with some bright color, too see when they are closed, but haven’t gotten to that yet :)

The opening of tripod legs is a bit tougher, than other tripods I seen, but I actually prefer it that way. Like this, even if the leg is not locked in a position, it usually just stays as it is. You can open the tripod legs so it lays almost completely flat on the ground, with a total height of only 15cm. For that you have to remove the middle column first, as it would be in the way.

The middle column can be removed or completely inverted, to place the camera under the tripod. The lock is easy to open and the movement if fine. Same with removing it, but you will need both hands to do so. Forget about doing it one handed or with the camera attached. It’s just to many things to rotate and to hold. You can’t rotate the middle column by 90 degrees as by some tripods. Also of note is, that when you remove the middle column, the tripod is a bit awkward to carry when collapsed, as there is nothing in the middle to keep it in a proper shape.

The leg locks are very easy to open. You just pull them out, and you can move the legs around. The locks lock in three different positions, each time with a very satisfying click sound.


The tripod stood up quite well to my usage. I don’t tend to be very gentle with my tripods, so it acquired quite a few scratches all over. Still, as this material is not painted, you will not see the scratches that much.

A bit disappointing here is the hook on the bottom side of the middle column. As that is a painted metal, and quite soft also, it almost immediately acquired deep scratches and bumps. It also should have a small rubber band around it. This band should protect the tripod legs from hitting the middle column, when you close the tripod. But as it was not glued in the place, mine got lost within the first week of use. So now, I got quite deep scratches from the inside of the legs.

The locking mechanism of the legs and all other moving parts withstood my use wonderfully, all is as it was on the first day. I noticed no degradation, or any of the parts getting loose or anything similar.


Overall, this is a great tripod. It very sturdy, very durable, very easy to use. It’s also very pricey. Compared to my last tripod, it was more than 5 times pricier. It of course is not 5 times better. The difference is much smaller. You can think of it as a Ferrari of tripods. It looks great, it works great, but you don’t really need it. Still, if you use a tripod all the time, and you want that will last you for years, Gitzo will fit that perfectly.

For the exact specifications, please visit the manufacturer website here

You have probably already heard about the new program from Macphun and Trey Ratcliff. Even I already posted about it. And today, I will share with you my thoughts about this new pieced of software. You can get Aurora from the StuckInCustoms store here or from Macphun here.

First of all, Aurora HDR is only available for Mac OS currently. For me that’s a bit of a complication, as I use Windows on all my devices. But so I can take a look at this software, I borrowed a Macbook Pro and tried it on that. It was not the newest model, so it was a bit slower when confronted with 36Mpix files, but it was still usable. But let’s get back to Aurora.

When looking at Aurora, in comparison to other HDR tonemapping software I use or used, I will define it as a middle ground between Photomatix and Photoengine, with a part of Lightroom sprinkled in. What I mean with this, that it’s not as straightforward as Photoengie, but does not overwhelm you with tonemapping options as Photomatix. And on top, it offers many edits that are very familiar from Lightroom.

If you look at Aurora more, you will quite quickly see what the goal is here. It’s to take the most used edits you perform on HDR photos, and instead of having them in multiple applications, they tried to put them all into one program. This may work for your work-flow, or may not. For instance if you have a whole library in Lightroom, it quite easier just to do a mass edits there, before you even start with HDR processing. On other hand, if you are just starting with HDR, and still looking for your work-flow, this may work just fine for you.

In my personal workflow, the tonemapping software is just one step, before I go into Photoshop. I prefer the more gradual control I can get there, to a more limited set that is usually available in tonemapping software. The most important thing for me there, is the quality of the tonemapped image. In this Aurora provide very good results. You can see this easily, just by loading the brackets into the software, and moving the tonemapping slider. If you see a strong HDR effect, light inversion and bright outlines, the algorithm is not the best.


As I mentioned, Aurora offers a wide variety of possible edits. You get quite a long list, with Tonemapping, Tone, Structure, HDR Denoise, Image Radiance, Color, Details, Glow, Top & Bottom Lighting, Tone Curve, Color Filter, Color Toning and Vignette. Some are new, some will be familiar to you if you used other software. But again, as I mentioned, just from the list you can see what everything is put together in one place in Aurora.

You can of course skip any editing and just use the provided presets, but than you will miss all the fun of creating your own style.

Let’s look at few. I quite like the default tone-mapping that was applied to the images I tried. For most images I had no need to even tweak the Tonemapping, just the Tone. Here I actually had to tone down the Smart Tone quite a bit, as the default gives a too strong HDR look, compared to what I like. But going down into negative values, corrected this rather quickly. Also, the default made every single image too bright, so that had to be also corrected under tone. Additionaly, same as other tone-maping software, there is quite a lack of contrast in the results, and that has to be added. But what you get here, is already quite a nice tone-mapping result, and a good start to further edits.

Aurora HDR
Aurora HDR

I really liked that under Tone, you can find separate sliders for highlights, midtones, shadows, black and whites. I especially like the midtones slider, which is missing from Lightroom. Having these all right here, makes for much better control about the result. Next you have structure. It looks like a combination of clarity from Lightrom, with Detail extractor and Tonal contrast form Color Efex. It’s an interesting effect, which needs to be used very gently, as it’s very easy to just oversature your photo with detail.

Aurora HDR
Aurora HDR

Another very nice implementation is of the gradient filters. here its called Top & Bottom Lighting, and they added two separate exposures sliders, which makes it very easy to to balance the brightness, if your image is split along a horizon. Other edits you can do, is to de-noise your image or add sharpness, add radiance or glow. It really tries to provide a one software solution to most situations with HDR. Like this it even can be used when you goal is not really a HDR picture, as Aurora allows you just to add a single exposure as input.

Aurora HDR
Aurora HDR

Aurora also supports layers. This work quite similar to adjustment layers in Photoshop. So what you do is, you create a layer, make adjustments on it and then tweak the mask and opacity to where and how much the effect is used. This work very nice, if you have images where different parts need different adjustments. Of course if you need a more pixel based layers, if you do retouching and similar, Phothoshop is a must.


Overall I’m quite impressed with what all Aurora provides and what results it can bring. I still need more time to experiment more, and get used to it, but that will come after a Windows version is released. But for you, if you are using a MacOS computer, you should give it a try.

You can find a trial version on the website.

And to end this review, here you have 4 photos edited only in Aurora (with only some dust spots removed in Photoshop). I can imagine in all doing few more tweaks in Photoshop, or even more directly in Aurora, but in all cases, this is a very good result.

Around two weeks ago I posted about getting the Surface Pro 4, and my first impressions of it, and today I will go more into it, what I like and don’t like about the tablet.


Fist I have to note, that I had the Surface I got replaced. The fist one I received, had a small problem. The left side of the screen was not glued on properly, so the glass moved about 1mm every-time I touched it. So I had to return that one, and got a new one, without the issue.

I have the middle of the pack configuration. It has the dual core i5 processo, 8gb of ram and 256 memory. I still added another 128gb SDXC memory card for expansion.

So from the hardware side, the Surface Pro 4 is designed very nicely. The bezels are slim, the more angled edges are easy to hold, and the stand is just perfect. After a day or two with it, you start to wonder why not all tablets have a stand :)

The power cable, the keyboard and the pen all attach magnetically. This is very nice, especially for the keyboard, as it guides itself mostly in the connection, and so it’s easy to attach even in complete dark. Regrettably you can attach the pen only to the left or the right side (only left when power cable is connected), and it would be so nice if it could be also attached on the top. Its in the way if you hold the tablet in your hands and want the pen to be attached.

The screen with the very high resolution (2736×1824) is bright and vibrant. I often found the suggested brightness to be too much, and had to tone it down (you are offered: darkest, dark, suggested, bright, brighter and I often use the dark setting). The both tablets I had had a slight light bleed in the center of the bottom edge, with the second one being better. In both cases, the only time I seen the bleed was by the Surface logo by startup. In regular use, it’s invisible.

The front stereo speakers are wonderful. They are font facing, and really loud. I wish a bit that they were on the bottom edge except of the top edge, as when I hold the tablet, I sometime cover them with my thumbs. Still, I never managed to block the sound that way.

Surface Pro 4
Surface Pro 4

For me is hard to judge the pen. Even that I own a Wacom tablet, I use it very rarely, and not that much in photo editing. Still, the surface pen is nicely weighted, feels like a real pen, and I have not seen any lag (probably if I did a slow motion video of writing, there would be some visible, but thats just crazy), until I tried some huge brushes. But since I see the same when using mouse on my desktop PC, I don’t think thats really a pen issue. I ran into an issue, where the pen would stop working, while still being connected with bluetooth, but taking out the pen’s battery and putting it back in solved that immediately.

The Surface has a fan inside, which for me is on very rarely. Recently I only heard it twice. Once after an hour of drawing in Photoshop (but it turned off after few minutes) and once during Windows update. Overall the surface heats up very little. 2-3 hours of full HD streaming, and you feel almost no heat on the back.

There are two cameras on it, and I can’t care less about them. I could see them useful for Skype and thats about it. Take it how it is, if you need a photo, you will take it with your camera or you phone. Both are better. (for comparison, the camera on the Nexus tablet I had the last two years, was used once, after which I deleted the photo, and took out my phone to take a new one :))

When used as a tablet (2-3 apps + browser + streamed video) I was getting through 30-50% of battery during 3 hours of use. You of course would not get this much from it when doing processor heavy tasks, but while only drawing in Photoshop, the times were very comparable.


Regrettably, the Surface Pro 4 is delivered with an older version of Windows, firmware and drivers. So you can expect blue screens, crashes and errors until you update everything. I had them all, on both devices. But right away, there was a new version of everything, and all problems I had went away.

The most persistent one was the crashing of the Intel video drivers, where the screen will became unresponsive for few seconds and than you would get a message that the driver has restarted. For me this was solved with the latest driver update few days ago and I haven’t had it since.

Overall, if I look at the stability after all the updates, it is really stable. There are few apps here and there that like to crash randomly (note that I said apps, normal programs seem to work without a problem), but I presume thats a problem on the app side, where they not yet have been properly updated for windows 10.

Windows Hello is just wonderful. It logs me in within seconds, just by looking at the tablet. I do need that also for my main desktop now :). The start menu (or start screen in tablet mode) is very useful, where with the help of an app like Pin more, you can pin just anything, from programs, games, websites, folder to files.

It also so great to not have to limit myself to second grade mobile applications, and just being able to install anything I want. A full desktop browser is so much better than a mobile ones (and web-pages don’t try to push their mobile apps on you on every occasion). One has so much freedom again, what to install, what to use, how to use it.

Surface Pro 4
Surface Pro 4

But there are some oddities, which one has to get used to. The most are from the change of how apps are made between windows 8 and windows 10. For instance the swipe from he top, which should open the context menus, has a second application in Windows 10, where it shows the title bar. So if you do it, it can happen that you get the title bar, over the context menu. Of course, newer apps that have been updated already, don’t have these problems anymore.

Overall, I do like using Windows 10 as a tablet on the Surface. It take a while to get used to, but I already prefer it to Android or iOS. Just the ability to swipe from left to get to all opened programs, and the ability to split the screen easily, is so much better than anything they provide. Btw. I moved the task bar to the left side of the screen. Like this I have the start and back buttons right next to my thumb when holding the tablet in landscape :)


I was pleasantly surprised by the performance of this little tablet. It starts programs on par or sometimes even faster than my main desktop (I think it’s due to faster SSD in the Surface than I use). The program switching is quick, and it’s the same with apps and legacy programs.

But let’s look more into the programs I use the most. Photoshop, Lightroom and Photoengine. In all I tried photos from the Sony A7r, so 36Mpix photos. And to show you how it worked out, here is a short video, where I do random edits in all of them.

Two notes to this video. The fan came on when I started exporting from Lightroom and turned off about a minute after I closed all the programs (I put music in the video, as I did no commentary, and one could not hear the fan in the recording). Secondly, this was all on battery power.


As you can see Lightroom runs very well. It loads photos fast, and the edits are shown almost immediately. There is a little choppiness when scrolling in the library, but I noticed the same on my i7, 16gb ram desktop.

Btw. Lightroom also has a touch mode, which I haven’t even bothered with. It’s horrible. It removes all the reasons why I use Lightroom, hiding all the sliders into separate menus. It’s just horrible.

Photoengine runs perfectly. I don’t know how they do it, but it runs great on everything. It’s fast, responsive, you see the result immediately.

Photoshop can get a bit slower on the Surface. In the video I loaded 4, 36mpix 16bitt tiff files. Thats actually quite a lot. But as you can see, it still is usable, and the filters are calculated in a reasonable time.

As you can see, the tablet was still nicely responsive, with the programs closing and opening rather quickly.


Overall I’m quite impressed. The Surface pro 4 is a really nice tablet, and a fairy good laptop. And that was what I was searching for, a tablet, that I can use as a laptop if I need to. If you try one, you may find that you have to overcome few problems, and get used to few new things, but I believe it’s worth it. I will do another post about the surface, in a month or two, with an update how it working out long term.

And as a little bonus, here is my current desktop setup, with the surface, and my main PC :)

For those curious, the monitor is the LG 34UM95, the keyboard is a Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000, the mouse is a Sculpt Ergonomic Mouse also by Microsoft. There is a back light on the monitor, where I can choose the color I want, and the figure in the middle is the Smart Doll by Danny Choo :)

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