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Review: VARAVON 523 MHD Monopod Set - 520 Monopod + 103 Video Head

Review: VARAVON 523 MHD Monopod Set - 520 Monopod + 103 Video Head

Overview : Varavon's 523 Fluid Head and Monopod System combines the Varavon 103HD fluid head and 520M monopod to give you fluid head control with the nimbleness of a monopod. Supporting up to 11 pounds of camera, with fluid dampened pan and tilt movements, the head features an integrated sliding balance plate. The plate is indexed, for quick balance resets. The QR (Quick Release) plate makes it fast to pop the camera off the set up when you need to go hand held, and pop it back on when you need a steadier shot. The fluid head features a bubble level, for precise level adjustment, and pan bar mounting rosettes on both sides of the head, the system includes one pan bar.

The monopod is made from polycarbonate to be lightweight, durable and impact resistant. It extends from 23 to 65 inches, about 27.5 to 69.5 inches including the head, giving you additional height of almost six feet. This is useful when trying to shoot over a crowd. the ball joint rubber foot, gives you solid grip on hard surfaces, even when the surfaces aren't completely level, and the rubber foot retracts, exposing a spiked foot for better grip on soft ground.

Monopod Features :
  • Supports 3/8" screw
  • Spiked foot
  • Handstrap & Folding Quick Lever
  • Width: 2.7 inches
  • Height: 23 inches
  • Max length: 64 inches
  • Diameter: 1.4 inches
  • Material: Polycarbonate
  • Weight: 1.8lb
Video Head Features :
  • Width: 3.8 inches
  • Height: 4.7 inches
  • Depth: 5.2 inches
  • Bubble level
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Weight: 2.2lb
  • Panbar weight: 0.5lb

Deal: Canon EF 24-70mm USM Lens, $38 Credit for $1,699 After Rebate + Free Shipping

Adorama offers the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Zoom Lens, model no. 5175B002, bundled with $37.98 in Adorama Rewards for $1,699 with free shipping, via the directions below. (A promotional code for the credit will be emailed to you 40 days after shipment.) It features one Super UD and two UD lens elements that minimize chromatic aberration in the periphery and color blurring around the edges of the subject. Rebate expires March 29.

To get this deal:

Deal: Canon PIXMA PRO-100 WiFi Printer, Photo Paper for $40 After Rebate + Free Shipping

Adorama offers the Canon PIXMA PRO-100 Wireless Inkjet Photo Printer, model no. 6228B002, bundled with the Canon 13x19" Plus Semi-Gloss Photo Paper 50-Pack, model no. 1686B064, for an in-cart price of $340. This $300 mail-in rebate cuts it to $40 with free shipping. The printer features a 4800x2400 dpi maximum print resolution, up to 13x19" wide-format printing, 802.11n wireless, PictBridge compatibility, and USB. Rebate expires March 31.

Press Release: Zacuto Announces New Lens Support System For Canon CP-N and Zeiss CP Lenses

The latest product from Zacuto will grab the interests for users of Canon CN-E and Zeiss CP cine lenses. Their new custom lens support provides a solid mounting to rails that prevents the lens from twisting when used with a follow focus. The new support differs from others available thanks to its ‘hook and foot’ system that allows for rapid changes while remaining very secure.

Lens supports are an essential but often time consuming and fiddly tool in a filmmakers arsenal. The Zacuto product design team recognized this challenge and has created two new innovative, quick release lens supports that fit seamlessly into any cinematographers workflow. The Zacuto Zeiss Lens Support and Canon Lens Support are fast, easy, unobtrusive and best of all, require no additional work when changing lenses.

Most lens supports require a user to unscrew a stabilization rod or remove a support band in between every lens change. A customer commented to Zacuto product designer, Jens Bogehegn, that there had to be an easier way to achieve the same level of stability without all the fuss. This sparked an idea with the Zacuto design team, who then set out to create a completely new type of lens support concept.

The Zeiss and Canon Lens Supports incorporate a ‘hook and foot’ mechanism with a quick release lightweight rod mount. The hook attaches to your rods and the foot to your lens. The two click together and then separate with the standard movement of a lens change. This innovation is completely unique to the market.

“The beauty of this new lens support design is that it behaves as if there’s nothing on the lens. You can change lenses and there’s nothing getting in the way.” – Jens Bogehegn

The Zacuto Zeiss Lens Support for CP.2 lenses and Canon Lens Support for cinema and compact primes are available for purchase now. Visit the Zacuto website to purchase, watch videos and discover more about these unique products from the design team at Zacuto. Also available through any Zacuto dealer.

New Samyang 10mm f/2.8 ED AS NCS CS Lens for Canon

We previously reported that Samyang was going to announce a new lens but no one knew exactly what it would be. People speculated that it would be a 35mm lens with auto-focus but that was shot down on Samyang Asia.

The new lens that was announced by Samyang was the release of their new 10mm f/2.8 ED AS NCS CS Lens for Canon and it is now available for pre-order on B&H Photo with a price tag of $529.00. The lens is scheduled to ship on March 25. Since there was no mention or talk of the rumored auto-focus, we'll have to keep hoping and dreaming that one day, they will add auto-focus into their lenses.

From Samyang:
The prototype version of the Samyang 10mm f/2.8 was first presented at Photokina 2012. Since then, intensive work to improve the lens and to achieve the highest possible optical quality while reducing its footprint. The result of this work is presented today lens Samyang 10mm 1:2.8 ED AS NCS CS, which in terms of performance and capabilities can successfully compete with the best wide-angle designs available on the market.

Samyang 10mm 1:2.8 ED AS NCS CS is a great tool to photograph interiors, architecture and landscapes. It offers an exceptionally wide field of view, ranging 109.5 degree and linear imaging performance. It features a wide f/2.8 aperture for shooting in low light conditions. It can therefore be successfully used in sports photography and reportage. The optical design of the lens consists of 14 elements divided into 10 groups, which include 2 AS aspherical lenses and one ED glass with a very low coefficient of dispersion. Also, the lens has gained a permanent hood to allow for its compact dimensions and to reduce weight by almost 160 grams from the prototype stage.

Samyang 10mm 1:2.8 ED AS NCS CS is the first lens produced by Samyang Optics, which uses nano-crystalline anti-reflective coating. It is characterized by lower reflectance than the shell (U) MC, and the process of applying for a better fit to the structure of the lens surface. The benefits of using nano-crystalline coatings are: much better light transmission, greater resistance to glare and higher contrast, which positively affects the optical resolution of the lens.
Product Highlights:
  • Canon EF Mount Lens
  • Aperture Range: f/2.8 to f/22
  • 16mm (35mm Equivalent)
  • Designed for APS-C-Sized Sensors
  • One ED and Two Aspherical Elements
  • Nano Crystal Anti-Reflection Coating
  • Manual Focus Design

Samyang also released a few other lenses:

8mm f/2.8 UMC FISH-EYE II for EF-M mount – pre-order at B&H Photo for $349
8mm T3.1 Cine UMC Fish-Eye II for EF-M mountpre-order at B&H Photo for $399
12mm f/2.0 NCS CS Lens for Canon EF-M Mountpre-order at B&H Photo for $399

Nikon D4S and Lexar 400x or 1000x Memory Card Issue

Nikon USA has published details on the issue of Lexar 400x and 1000x CompactFlash memory cards having problems communicating with your Nikokn D4S and how to replace the faulty cards:

It has been reported that there are a small number of a specific type of Lexar CompactFlash® (Amazon / B&H Photo / Adorama) memory cards that may have a problem communicating with your Nikon D4S DSLR camera. This article describes how to identify the problematic cards and what to do if you have one.

Identification Instructions
  1. Remove your CF® card from your camera.
  2. Look for the serial number on the edge of your CF® card.
  3. Identify if the last six part numbers (shown highlighted by the yellow X's) contain 1 of the following 2 sequences :
    • 8BAFBE
    • 8DCB61
  4. If your CF card's serial number contains 1 of the 2 sequences listed above, you must contact LEXAR support to replace your CF® card.
  5. If your card does not contain either of the 2 sequences, then your card is fully compatible.
Replacement Instructions
  1. Please contact customer support to place an RMA for a replacement CF® card.
    • US & Canada: 1-888-747-4031
    • Freephone in the United Kingdom: +44 (0) 0800 013 7411
    • Japan: 570-12363
    • All other areas: 1-208-363-5862
  2. OR contact customer service online HERE.

Samyang to Announce 35mm Auto-Focus Lens for Canon?

Samyang (also known as Bower or Rokinon or Walimex) has teased about new lenses set to be announced on March 21st on their European Facebook page. It seems that the lens (or lenses) that Samyang is going to announce will have electronic auto-focus built-in. Samyang are known for their excellent manual lenses at very affordable prices.

SLRclub reader Komabea, spotted another bit of information on Samyang’s South Korea Facebook page, where a 35mm auto-focus lens is teased. The picture above says:
  • [Samyang is] studying cine zoom lens. There are no exact launching plan.
  • A Canon mount 35mm auto-focus lens is scheduled to be launched 1st half of 2014.
  • Mirror lens for DSLR is also scheduled to be launched 1st half~2nd half of 2014.
Looks like Samyang is also working on Cine and Mirror Lenses.

Source: CanonWatch

*UPDATE* - 3.20.2014
Samyang Asia has responded on their Facebook page with "No autofocus, autofocus is rumours, fake news."

Amazon Prime Will Raise to $99. Subscribe Now at $79.

If you have an Amazon Prime account and have not heard yet, Amazon will be increasing Prime membership for the first time in nine years starting on April 17, 2014. The new price will go up from $79 per year to $99 per year while Amazon Student goes from $39 per year to $49 per year. Prime Fresh will remain at $299 per year (available only in the Los Angeles and San Francisco, CA Metro areas).

If you have not signed up for Amazon Prime yet, now is the time to do so at the $79. You'll be charged the $99 price at your next renewal which is in 2015.
Amazon Prime and Amazon Student Prime Membership Fee Changes
For the first time since it was introduced nine years ago, the price of Prime is going up. Existing Prime members will pay $99 per year on their annual renewal date and Amazon Student members will pay $49.

The Prime Fresh membership fee will remain unchanged at $299.

If you're a current Prime or Student member, we've sent an e-mail to the address on your account with the renewal date specific to your membership.

Current members will still receive all the benefits of Amazon Prime, including unlimited FREE Two-Day Shipping for eligible purchases, unlimited streaming with Prime Instant Video, and the ability to borrow books from the Kindle Owners' Lending Library.

DIY: Westcott Ice Light Using LED CREE UltraFire Flashlight and PVC

I'm sure most have heard of the Westcott Ice Light (Amazon / B&H Photo / Adorama) or seen something similar. If not, the Ice Light is a handheld LED daylight light source that offers the ability to shoot and light in tandem without the need of heavy light stands or additional mounting systems.

The biggest issue is that the Ice Light is very expensive...$500 expensive! But what if you can get an Ice Light without burning a hole in your wallet? We have a cost-effective Do-It-Yourself (DIY) alternative that would serve the same purpose as the Ice Light but at a much more affordable price.

Below is a comparison between the Westcott Ice Light and DIY Ice Light:

Lamp Type
LED Array (dimmable)
CREE LED T6 (High, Medium, Low, Strobe, SOS)
Approx. 1,000
Color Temperature
Beam Angle
72.6 degrees
up to 360 degrees
Built-In Lithium Ion 7.4v Battery or Input 100-240v AC/DC Power
Removable Lithium Ion 18650 3.7v 3000mAh Battery
Battery Life
60 mins at full power
6+ hours on full brightness
Battery Charge Time
2.5 hours
4-6 hours
Handheld with 1/4-20 inch thread (both ends)
Handheld with 1/4-20 inch thread (one end only - optional)
50,000+ hours
100,000 hours (replaceable)
Item Diameter
Item Length
17.5" (18.5" with flashlight protruding)
Item Weight
1.3 lbs.
1 lbs. (including flashlight)

As you can see, both has its pros and cons. Plus, if you're not using or ever decide you don't need the DIY Ice Light anymore, you can still use the flashlight.

Continue reading for a list of what you'll need and instructions on how to make your own DIY Ice Light. We also list some optional modifications as well as other Ice Light alternatives that we thought about.

Calumet Photo Files for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Leaving Employees and Customers High and Dry

If you ever ordered or rented camera gear from Calumet Photo, we're sad to say that they closed their doors. No notice was sent out to customers but it was posted on their Facebook page.

Some employees were shocked by the immediate closure (reading through comments, they can't even get their own personal belongings or step foot inside the store except for managers). But it seems that some current/former employees and individual store management have been detailing their time with the company. Such as issues with upper management and dwindling stock of gear.
"After 75 years of business it is with a heavy heart that we announce our immediate closing in the United States (our European stores will continue). It has been a joy to share our passion for photography with you all these years. We'll miss each other and we'll miss all of our customers. Thank you for everything."

Plenty of customers are trying to find answers as to their rentals, items in repair and open orders that were placed and employees wondering about their paycheck and benefits. No one at Calumet is answering phone calls or getting any responses through email. Even their website is no longer active. No official statement or reason was released as to why they decided to close shop immediately.

But it seems that Calumet Photo has voluntarily filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, listed as case #14-08908 in the Northern District of Illinois United States Bankruptcy Court. The filing is dated March 12, 2014 and the first meeting is scheduled on April 22, 2014. In it's filing, it listed between $50 million and $100 million in assets and $10 million to $50 million in liabilities.

The PDF of the court filing can be viewed. (courtesy of Photo Business News & Forum)

There seems to be some signs of life. Calumet has made a new post on their Facebook page stating that they are exploring opportunities to reopen select locations. No word on which ones will reopen and what will happen to customers orders or repairs at those that don't reopen.
"Stay tuned, as we are exploring opportunities to reopen select locations to keep serving our customers. We will post any updates here if there are any."

Kickstarter: Slidestrap - Simple and Modern Camera Sling Strap

London-based VU Equipment has designed a simple and modern yet functional camera slingstrap. They call it the Slidestrap.

The Slidestrap has been designed to hold your camera ergonomically against your body, but enable you to bring your camera up to eye level without the need to adjust the strap in any way. Watch the video after the jump to see Slidestrap in action.

Benefits of Slidestrap:
  • No adjustment needed between carrying the camera and taking a photo – just slide the camera up along the strap
  • Anodized aircraft-grade aluminium mounting plate slides effortlessly along the strap when required, without having to release any fasteners
  • Mounting plate ensures the lens faces down to avoid accidental knocks
  • Premium, soft cotton shoulder strap is comfortable to wear
  • Cross-body strap evenly distributes the weight of the camera
  • Slidestrap fixes to any standard 1/4"-20 camera thread and the rubber pad stops the mounting plate from slipping
Traditional camera straps either get caught up on clothing if worn across your body, bounce the camera off your chest if worn around your neck or slip off your shoulder if you're wearing a backpack or bag. Slidestrap has been designed to avoid all of these situations with a simple, effective yet stylish design.

If you want more information or interested in pledging (pre-ordering) the Slidstrap, take a look at their Kickstarter campaign:

Think Tank Photo and MindShift Gear Release New Products

There's a lot to report this month from the land of Think Tank Photo and MindShift Gear!

Think Tank Photo just launched three new products. The Modular Pixel Pocket RocketApp House 8, and App House 10 share one key feature: they can be mounted on your belt so that you can tactilely access your CF and SD cards or small or standard-size Apple tablets, respectively, without sacrificing visual focus. This is all part of the ongoing effort of our designers to streamline your workflow.

Think Tank Photo's sister outdoor company, MindShift Gear, just announced that they are taking orders on three exciting new products slated for outdoor photography.

Think Tank Photo:

Fingertip Access to CF and SD cards

The belt-mountable Modular Pixel Pocket Rocket (PPR) enables you to easily whip out your CF and SD cards and to keep them securely and conveniently at hand when shooting. It is easily secured by a sturdy hook-and-loop panel to any Think Tank Photo modular belt or to any belt. It holds six CF cards and three SD cards, as well as other small accessories, such as a smart phone or lens cloth. Key features include:
  • Holds 6 CF and 3 SD cards.
  • Belt-mount option with double security attachment.
  • Built-in neck-strap as a wearable option to readily show ID or business cards through a clear external pocket.

No more fumbling for your tablet

The App House 8 and App House 10 allow quick access to small- or standard-size Apple tablets either as shoulder bags or mounted on belts. Streamlined and secure, their small size, removable shoulder strap, and double-lock belt-mount make it practically effortless for you to carry and access your tablet and stay connected around town or when traveling. Key features include:
  • Dedicated pockets for carrying a smart phone, device accessories, plus other small items.
  • Premium materials: YKK® RC Fuse zippers, antique nickel-plated metal hardware and durable, long lasting, nylon fabric.
  • A dedicated, easily accessible smart phone pocket with soft liner.
  • An internal organizer with elastic and zippered pockets for connection cables, card readers, power cables, portable charger, pens, or other personal items.
  • 4-way stretch pocket on front for rapid access to lens caps, memory cards, batteries or other items.
  • Removable and adjustable shoulder strap with non-slip pad.
  • Double-lock belt attachment for added security.
  • Grab-handle on top for quick pickup.
  • Seam-sealed rain cover included in zippered compartment on bottom.
  • Think Tank's "No Rhetoric" Warranty...period.

MindShift Gear:


MindShift Gear, will be releasing three exciting new products for outdoor, nature, and action photographers and others who need quick access to their gear. They are en route to our distributors and retailers around the world. Those in the US can order now.

rotation180 Panorama
Designed for hikers who carry cameras, binoculars, GPS devices, nature identification books, maps, iPads, and more, the rotation180° Panorama's beltpack rotates to the front for quick gear access and without first having to take off the backpack or even stop hiking. Lightweight at under three pounds, the rotation180° Panorama backpack is available in two colors, Charcoal and Tahoe Blue. It features two tripod carrying options and an extra-large dedicated 100 oz./3 ltr capacity hydration reservoir pocket. It has additional room for a jacket, hat, gloves, lunch, and more. In exciting news, Outside Magazine just named the Panorama and Think Tank's StreetWalker backpack two of the top six camera packs for travelers.

Filter Hive
The Filter Hive is the first case designed for quick access to round, square, and rectangular camera lens filters.

It solves organizational and functional problems of conservation, landscape, outdoor action, and wildlife photographers who need quick access to filters of different shapes. The Filter Hive's padded exterior case and accordion-style removable insert holds up to six flat graduated neutral density filters up to 4x6" (100x150mm) and six round filters up to 82mm diameter, including the thick 1.5cm variable neutral density filters.

Ultralight Camera Cover
Available in three sizes for small DSLRs up to pro DSLRS, the Ultralight Camera Cover is the lightest, most compact camera cover for outdoor photography. This "skin-style" camera pouch/cover is designed for outdoor, nature, and action photographers who wear a normal or pro DSLR camera with small to medium lens out on their chest, ready to shoot. Its adjustable shock-cord on lid allows the cover to fit multiple camera and lens combinations. The Ultralight Camera Cover's orientation brings the camera closer to your center of gravity, allowing greater balance and stability during extreme action. It doesn't block the view of your feet like a bulky camera case. It also fits under any backpack. It features a weather-resistant flap cover and lightly padded front, bottom and rear panels.

Review: MoGoPod MK III Monopod + MCR-1 Belt Kit + TPD-2 Tripod Leg Stand

Overview : The new MoGoPod MK III is a unique monopod stabilizer that can be used right side up, or upside down! It's unique internal steel belt drive system adjusts the MoGoPod quickly to automatically telescope the MoGoPod to any height, and locks down with a simple twist lock.

The Markings on the MoGoPod MK III allows you to remember your favorite settings so you can easily repeat a previous setup.

The MoGoPod MK III is also the only Monopod that allows you to use it upside down. Remove the rubber foot to reveal a ¼-20 inch threaded stud, and re-locate the rubber foot at the top stage. Now the MoGoPod is the perfect quick telescoping pole allowing you new perspectives with your small cameras.

The MoGoCrane Belt wraps around your waist with an adjustable belt and the threaded compact aluminum unit lets you securely attach the MoGoPod. The MoGoCrane brings a new style of shooting. Portable and affordable, this unique take on a mini jib will definitely change the way you shoot.

The Tripod Leg Stand allows you to add a stable base made of three 8" foldable high quality metal legs with rubber ends to your MoGoPod. After using the legs you are able to fold it back up on the bottom of the MoGoPod and it will be ready in a few seconds when needed.

MogoPod MK III Features :
  • Maximum Height: 41 inches (S) / 62 inches (M)
  • Collapses to: 20 inches (S) / 27 inches (M)
  • Lightweight - Weight: 1.3 lb (S) / 1.6 lb (M)
  • Load Capacity: 5 kg/10 lb
  • Material: Anodized Aluminum for Maximum Durability
MogoCrane Belt Kit Features :
  • Only 7" inches wide
  • Wraps around your waist with an adjustable belt
  • Female ¼-20 inch threads
Tripod Leg Stand Features :
  • 8" Long Legs with Rubber Ends
  • Foldable Tripod Legs
  • Female ¼-20 inch threads

Louis Vuitton Camera Bag. Hauling Your Gear Just Got Expensive.

Have money to burn and looking for a pricey but fashionable way to carry your camera gear? How about a $3,750 Louis Vuitton camera bag? Yep, this Louis Vuitton camera bag is probably the most expensive on the market. If your gear itself doesn't scream "rob me", maybe this will help.

Product Description
A strong and protective camera bag in Damier Graphite canvas. Ideal for carrying small and medium sized cameras, with several useful compartments for accessories too.
  • (Width x Height x Depth) 15.4 x 8.7 x 9.4 inches
  • Can be carried by hand or on the shoulder in comfort
  • Secure hook and loop closure
  • Zipped front, side and back pocket on the exterior
  • Interior zipped flat pocket

Deal: Nikon Lens Rebate Extended

The Nikon instant lens rebates in the US were extend and are now valid till March 29th.

Click on the links below to purchase from authorized retailers:

Deal: New Lens and Speedlite Rebates from Canon USA

A new rebate program for select Canon "L" lenses and Speedlites has started. The program is set to expire on March 29, 2014 and is for USA residents only.

Here are some of the eligible lenses and their respective rebates:

Zoom L Lenses:
  • EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM - $150.00
  • EF 17-40mm f/4L USM - $100.00
  • EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM - $200.00
  • EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM - $200.00
  • EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM - $200.00
  • EF 70–200mm f/2.8L USM - $100.00
  • EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM - $150.00
  • EF 70–200mm f/4L USM - $80.00
  • EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM - $200.00
  • EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM - $200.00
Prime L Lenses:
  • EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM - $150.00
  • EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM - $150.00
  • EF 35mm f/1.4L USM - $100.00
  • EF 50mm f/1.2L USM - $150.00
  • EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM - $150.00
  • EF 135mm f/2L USM - $100.00
  • EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM - $50.00
  • EF 300mm f/4L IS USM - $100.00
  • EF 400mm f/5.6L USM - $100.00
  • EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM - $100.00
Click on the links below to purchase from authorized retailers:

Kickstarter: C-Cup Eyecup for Canon EOS C100

If you own a Canon EOS C100, you may be one of those who are longing for an eyecup. Light gets in the viewfinder when shooting outdoors and the hard rubber feels terrible on your forehead. There is a new Kickstarter campaign has started to manufacture an eyecup that slips right over the viewfinder of the C100.

The C-Cup stays in place and can work for both left and right eye shooters. It's easy to attach since it just slips on and is held in place because it is form fitted around the viewfinder.

Kickstarter early adopters was able to get the C-Cup for $25 which has since been sold out but you can still get it for $40.

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