If I wasn’t already aware, I am now. My husband does a lot around here. The big things, sure, I knew I was going to be on my own with those – and I was prepared. It’s the little things that have stopped me in my tracks and left me two breaths shy of pulling my hair out. He’s great at the little things and tackles them without breaking stride. I wasn’t prepared for how all those little things would add up.
Needless to say, this has been a rough deployment and keeping up on all the things has left me very little time for photography, blogging, or myself. I had some lofty goals this year but you know what? Sometimes we have to push those back in order to get through our current season with joy. I’m okay with that.
So, what’s on the horizon for 2023? Well, I’ve given this quite a lot of thought and I’ve made a few commitments that I plan to carry through into the new year. The first is one I’ve talked about: I won’t be buying any gear I’m not confident I’ll keep for at least a year. My turnover rate was simply too high. The second is that I won’t be purchasing any NEW gear in 2023. It is definitely not lost on me (especially with my high turnover rate) that old electronics have to go somewhere when they die and if buying used gear and giving it new purpose helps to lesson the strain on the planet, that’s something I’d like to be a part of. The final commitment I decided on was not spending more than $500 on any single piece of gear. So, even when I do decide to add something to my kit, whether body or lens, it cannot exceed $500. That will certainly be tricky with the way inflation is playing out and unfortunately, I don’t think I’m going to find a Canon 24-70 f/2.8 for that price…oh well. We all have to make sacrifices.
2022 was the year I came full circle, both in life and in creativity. I finally got my health under control, and I lost 30 lbs as a result. I haven’t talked about that here really, but right around my 40th birthday in 2020, I started experiencing some symptoms and it took almost two years, a few doctors, a minor surgery, and a lot of personal research, trial, and error to figure out where the problem lay and get it all sorted out. Suffice to say, I feel like a new person. I also decluttered my life BIG TIME, including the amassed, but rarely used gear filling the drawers in my office.
I’m ready to head into 2023 unencumbered, with a heart full of joy and gratitude. I hope you’ll join me.
While I myself am an awful street photographer and frankly, the genre doesn’t lend itself well to the suburbs (a.k.a ”home”), a little over a year ago, I rented a Ricoh GRIII. I just had to. I kept hearing about it and the idea of a truly pocketable large sensor camera was very appealing to me. Yes, my phone is awesome and takes great pictures. But this isn’t about quality, it’s about user experience. I don’t enjoy shooting with my phone. I do it because it’s always with me and convenience trumps user experience, but if given the choice, I’ll always opt for a standalone camera. While the GR series may be most known for street, it’s a great fit for documenting your life.
I loved that little Ricoh. Such fun to shoot with, quick and easy to use and get the hang of. And yes, it did produce beautiful images. For all my female photogs out there, the thing fits in even my small clutch bag and well, that’s clutch. (Did I mention I’m the one with the dad jokes in our family?) Next, I tried out the Ricoh GRIIIx with the 40mm equivalent lens. I loved that too. So much. In fact, I could be quite content (for a while at least, this is me we’re talking about) with a kit comprised of just those two tiny workhorses. I know I’ve talked extensively about my adoration for DNG files. That pretty much means you shoot Ricoh (to include Pentax – yeah, they still make cameras) or Leica.
However, when it comes down to it, as much as I love both the Ricoh GRIII and GRIIIx, I cannot for the life of me justify a $900+ point and shoot camera. Certainly not for one with no weather sealing and a retractable lens that is prone to dust. There’s just not enough longevity there. So, what’s a girl to do? Because once I tried them, I knew I had to have one…but it didn’t have to be the latest and greatest.
Enter the GRII. Look up the full specs if you want but in a nutshell, it’s a 16 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor with an equivalent 28mm f/2.8 lens. It also boasts a leaf shutter and a built in flash, a feature that was sadly removed from newer models. It does lack the 3-Axis image stabilization (ie. Ricoh’s version of IBIS) found in the III and IIIx but given that I’ve never owned a camera with IBIS, I don’t think that’s a deal breaker for me. This also isn’t my only camera so I’m not relying on it to do everything.
My other reason for purchasing this camera is my desire to share my love of photography with my kids. Frankly, I don’t particularly want to hand my expensive kit to my youngest kiddo. But a $300 used Ricoh GRII? Sure, why not? (Shout out to Adorama who may not have the widest selection, but typically has the best prices of any other used retailer I frequent, including B&H and KEH).
I’ve been having a blast using this older little Ricoh to photograph the day to day. I’m sure I’ll use it until it stops working. And then maybe I’ll get a GRIIIx, which will likely be years old at that point and hopefully, much less expensive.
Do you have travel goals that revolve around photography? Yeah, me too. Traveling with three kids means I only got to knock off the tip of the iceberg in that regard, but it’s better than nothing. Recently, my family took a long weekend and spent it exploring, photographing, and eating in and around Charleston, SC. I could easily spend twice as long and still not check everything off my list.
While I didn’t get to practice as much photography as I’d like, I did try something new and paired my X-T3 with the 18-55mm f/2.8-4 kit lens. I’ve had this lens for a little while but I’ve barely used it. It was my daughter’s preferred lens and pretty much lived on her camera until recently when she stole my 50mm prime lens instead.
Charleston is jam packed with history (some of it not so great, but history nonetheless), great architecture, a relaxed and homey vibe (very southern), and great food. Honestly, I can’t wait to go back.
Camera straps are boring. They don’t do anything cool. They are utilitarian to the core. And yet…
I’ve always used camera straps. I began with just the standard strap included with my camera. By the time I purchased my second camera, I recognized that for me, the included strap just didn’t work: not particularly comfortable, always too big and bulky. And so, the hunt for my perfect camera strap began. I should preface by acknowledging that I don’t actually like straps. I find all of them to be somewhat intrusive. However, a previous (and permanent) wrist injury requires me to use straps because of my weak grip. That said, I am very picky about the straps I use, which at least partially accounts for how many I’ve had over the years.
You wouldn’t think something so simple and utilitarian would be so difficult of a search, but you’d be wrong. Everything from the style, length, fabric, type of connection, durability and ease of use comes into play. Are you in need of a neck strap that is strong enough to hold a DSLR or are you looking for a compact wrist strap for a small mirrorless? Camera straps are not created equal. I have more to say about some than others but let’s dive in.
My first foray into selecting a third party strap was this wide, faux leather strap purchased from a now defunct website. I was carting around a very heavy Canon DSLR at the time and the wider strap was comfortable on my neck but also long enough to sling cross body. Ultimately, I sold that camera and the strap went with it. It functioned well but it was kind of bulky in my camera bag.
Aqua Leather Dreamer Camera Strap (no longer available)
The second strap I tried came when I purchased my first mirrorless camera. It was so much smaller and lighter than a DSLR that I went with a simple leather wrist strap. This strap. I’ve had it for probably five or six years at this point and it’s probably my favorite. It’s so well made and unobtrusive. It never gets in the way, looks sleek and functions perfectly. It’s my preferred choice for commercial shoots when I want to switch back and forth between a tripod and handheld, or when I want to shoot at odd angles. It’s also my first choice if I’ll be taking a camera bag with me. I find a neck strap and a camera bag to be redundant. I will never get rid of this little thing. Sadly, the rolled yak leather version I have is no longer available, but I have linked a similar version.
This next strap wasn’t a bad option…I couldn’t really even tell you what it was that made me not like it. I only used it for a short time and I remember thinking that the length wasn’t a good fit for me and it lacked versatility.
The VKO Rope Camera Strap is a pretty popular one on Amazon and I do really think it’s a good option. It checked all the boxes for me: comfortable, functional, clean and streamlined and as an added bonus, I liked being able to wrap it around my wrist. Ultimately however, it did stretch out over time and then it was just too long to be practical for me. I didn’t like that the added length meant my LCD screen knocked against my belt buckle.
In an effort to find a replacement for the VKO strap, I ordered a Hyperion Camera Strap. My bad that I ordered the wrong length and it actually wound up being too short for me. That said, it’s a perfect fit for my daughter so I gave it to her. Now, as great as the strap is, I can’t really recommend it because shipping took FOREVER. Like, months. Maybe it’s just me, but when it comes to a utilitarian item, I usually need it now. It’s a great strap, but not worth the wait. (No link because I wouldn’t recommend it).
Next up is a strap I saw on YouTube (@alexonstreets) and I loved it right away. It’s sleek and streamlined, and because it’s leather, you know it will break in and get better with age. It hasn’t yet, but that’s because I haven’t really used it much. See, I purchased it for a smaller point and shoot camera I had (not enough heft for my X-T3 + lens) and then I sold said camera. But I didn’t sell the strap because I do really like it and have every intention of using it in the future. Believe me, it’s only a matter of time before my gear addiction takes hold again. Gordy’s allows you to truly customize your strap and comes in a variety of lengths, styles and colors. Shipping time was also reasonable and the quality is wonderful as well.
Last up is my newest purchase and I’ve been trying it out for several weeks. It’s functional, comfortable, and adjustable. I LOVE the quick release option. It’s smooth and doesn’t catch on clothes, which is important to me because I do have some more delicate blouses that have been snagged by other straps. (To be fair, the rolled rope straps also did no damage to my clothing). I feel like I should love this strap, but I just don’t. It’s not sleek and streamlined. It’s the second thickest of the straps I’ve listed here. It is very well made (and it should be for the price – $20 more than any other strap on this list) but it’s well, ugly. It draws attention. ”Look at that lady with that camera.” It screams ”photographer” and that’s not what I want.
I guess my dream strap would be a rope strap with Peak Design quick release connectors. Too bad such a thing doesn’t exist. If you know of one, leave a comment as I’d love to check it out! I find the rolled rope straps to be the most comfortable, especially for long periods of wear. I also never have to worry about them getting twisted. They work equally well on my bigger cameras as well as smaller point and shoots. That said, my top recommendation would be the VKO rope strap. Yes, it may stretch out over time, but at that price point, you could buy several for the same price as one Peak Design strap. And you’ll have the added benefit of blending in rather than standing out like a sore thumb.
So, there you have it: my very boring and uninspiring take on camera straps. Because it’s practical, even if it is boring.