Manfrotto 190XPROB Tripod

Posted by Mark

Over the weekend I had a project I needed to shoot which would require low light shots and very low angles so I decided to pass by Alghunaim Photo and pick up a tripod. There were a few tripods too choose from but only two fit my budget. The first one I checked out was the Manfrotto 290 series with the quick release ball head. The ball head is the upper part of the tripod which connects to your camera (picture near end of post). Generally you can choose I think between 3 types of heads but I like the ball head due to it’s ease of use. Anyway the 290 was pretty stable, easy and quick to operate but my issue with it was that it wouldn’t go down low enough since 38cm from the ground was the lowest it could go. It was disappointing since price wise at KD45 including the ball head I found it really affordable (for a quality tripod that is).

The second tripod I tried was the 190XPROB. This tripod didn’t go as high as the 290 series but it could go down a lot lower to around 8cm from the ground. It was also slightly smaller and lighter but not by that much. Since I was looking for a tripod that could go very low I ended up getting this one for KD35 WITHOUT the head. The cheapest ball head would set you back another KD25 on top of that price so you’re actually paying around KD60 for this tripod which isn’t cheap specially if like me you won’t be using it that much. But it’s made in Italy and really should last a lifetime so I decided to bite the bullet and just get it. After using the tripod for my project over the weekend I actually found it a bit complicated to use. Maybe finicky is the right word here. Each one of the tripod’s leg adjusts to 4 or 5 different angles and I ended up spending a lot of time trying to get all three legs to open at the same angle. If one of the angles differs then the tripod would end up being slanted. But even though I ran into that issue I had no regrets getting it since I found it very versatile specially since I was able to lower the tripod down so much that my camera was just a couple of inches off the ground. It would really be perfect for anyone wanting to shoot ants or other insects.

If you’re interested in buying a Manfrotto tripod Alghunaim Photo is the local dealer. But, you might be better off waiting until the end of the month before passing by since they’re currently out of stock on most of the items and their new shipment arrives end of the month. Their prices are similar or cheaper than Amazon’s listed price which is amazing. If you know what you want then I guess you could pass by and reserve your tripod. When I checked they had the 190XPROB in stock but only the high end ball heads (KD60 and up).


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Planning to order Canon or Sigma products online? Read this.

Posted by Mark

A reader posted in the forum the other day on how a point and shoot Canon camera he ordered online got impounded at customs. DHL weren’t able to release the item for him so he had to go clear it himself and after 2 and half hours of running around he was finally able to do so.

So I checked on this and it turns out right now the Canon and Sigma dealers have raised an issue with customs and are demanding that only they are allowed to import their brands. I am not sure if they’ve done this to stop shops like AAB Photo from taking away from their sales (and individuals are being caught in the crossfire) or if they’re actually trying to stop everyone and anyone from purchasing their brands online. Hopefully we’re not the targets and this is just a temporary measure but in any case if you’re planning to order Canon or Sigma products over the internet you should either put your plans on hold until the situation settles down or be prepared to clear the item yourself.


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Nikon D800

Posted by Mark

My Nikon D800 arrived to Kuwait a few days ago and I picked it up yesterday night on my way back home from the airport. I was hoping to have the camera with me when I went to Lebanon so I could take some pictures while I was there but the camera ended up arriving after I had already left. First impression… I’m in love. Going from the Nikon D90 to the D800 is a huge jump and it’s not because the D800 is larger and much better built or the fact it’s a 36MP full frame camera. The thing that has excited me the most so far is all the customizable options in the camera. EVERYTHING can be customized, there are just menus and menus of options and I’m loving it.

I’m going to be taking pictures all this weekend and should have a better first impression to post sometime next week but for now I’ll leave you with one picture to demonstrate how huge 36MP really is. Below is a photo I took today with a 24mm lens (thats why the image has some distortion) and below that is a 100% crop of the same image.

The amount of details the camera captures is ridiculous and each uncompressed RAW file is around 80MB in size. If you want to view the image above in full res click [Here]

I originally pre-ordered the camera from both BHphoto AND Amazon but they both had a long list of pre-orders (BHphoto I read have nearly 5000 pre-orders) but they both didn’t receive a large shipment of cameras (BHphoto supposedly got just 50!). So I decided to find a smaller less popular retailer and ended up pre-ordering from Electronic Express. I was the only one that had pre-ordered from them and around 5 days after placing my order they received just one D800 and shipped it to me. I was super lucky since there are thousands and thousands of people who’ve pre-ordered from early February and still have no idea when they’ll be getting the camera. The local Nikon dealer and AAB Photo both have the D800 in stock right now but due to the world wide limited availability their prices are still very high (around KD1,300). So your best bet right now if you want a D800 is to find a small online retailer and order it from them or pay a premium and pick it up locally.


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Fototalks 2012 – Kuwait

Posted by Mark

If you’re into photography you’ll be interested to know that The Shot Lounge is organizing the biggest photography event in Kuwait called Fototalks. The event which will be taking place on April 16th and 17th will include workshops, seminars and photography challenges. If you’re interested to find out more or to register for this even check out the Fototalks website [Here]


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An alternative to Amazon when it comes to photography gear

Posted by Mark

A friend of mine recently ordered a camera lens from the website DigitalRev (made famous by the very entertaining Kai) and had it shipped directly to Kuwait. It cost him less than the Amazon price, they included free FedEx shipping, it was delivered to him in just 4 days, he paid only KD12 customs fee AND the lens included local warranty. How cool is that?

Here are some more details regarding the whole thing:

Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G Lens
Kuwait: KD603
Amazon: KD525
DigitalRev: KD476

If he placed the order on Amazon he would have had to pay the 8% NY tax, then the Aramex shipping fee to Kuwait plus local customs and the package would have taken around 10 days to get here. He also wouldn’t have any local warranty.

On the other hand he paid KD476 to order it from DigitalRev, he didn’t have to pay tax neither did he have to pay any shipping fees. They shipped it for him from Hong Kong to Kuwait directly via FedEx and it took 4 days from the day he placed the order for the lens to be in his hands. In addition FedEx handled the customs and he had to pay only KD12 in total. Now more importantly DigitalRev will offer you warranty for your lens in Kuwait. The way it works is if the item is defective, you take it to the local dealer who will give you the estimate for the repair. You then send the estimate to DigitalRev who will approve it (based on warranty conditions).

I’m actually surprised at how easy and convenient this is. From now on if I ever need anything photography related that’s too expensive locally I’m just going to order it from them. Here is their [Website]

Thanks Cajie


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Bayt Lothan Photography Club Exhibition

Posted by Mark

Me Blogging posted about the Bayt Lothan Photography Club Exhibition and going by her pictures it looks like there are some really great work. You can check out her post [Here]

If you want to check out the exhibition yourself here is where the exhibition will be on the following dates:

April 2nd and 3rd: Australian College of Kuwait Campus
April 6th and 7th: The Avenues
April 10th and 11th: American University of Kuwait


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GOLLA Camera Bags

Posted by Mark

Before getting my Think Tank camera bag one of the brands I was checking online was GOLLA. They had some cool looking bags at decent prices and yesterday while shopping I noticed Eureka in Salmiya carries the brand. Their prices are more expensive than Amazon but if you count tax and shipping it turns out to be around the same or cheaper buying them here. Check out the GOLLA website [Here]


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Datacolor Spyder4Pro Review

Posted by Mark

Alghunaim Photo contacted me last week asking me if I’d be interested in reviewing the Spyder4Pro monitor color calibration tool. Since I’ve always wanted to try one of those tools I passed by and picked it up and then spent the weekend playing around with it.

Every monitor displays colors differently and my 27″ iMac never really felt very accurate when compared to other screens around the house. Even though there is an option built into the Mac system to calibrate the color, it involves a lot of eye squinting and results in a final calibration that I don’t trust. The Spyder takes away all the decision making from me, kinda like a little robot with a focus on keeping the colors on my screen calibrated.

First thing you need to do is install the Spyder software and connect the Sypder to a free USB port on your computer. When you run the software the first test it performs is to measure the ambient light in your room using the light sensor on the Spyder. Once it’s done measuring the light the software then asks you to hang the Spyder on top of the illustrated Spyder on the screen. The Spyder software then proceeds to perform a bunch of tests displaying various colors on the screen while the Spyder measures the results. After a few minutes the test is completed and you’re given an option to either save the new settings or go back to your previous one. You can also compare the new settings with the old one and they even provide you with a variety of pictures to use for comparison.

The best way to perform the before and after comparison is turn away from the screen while changing from one setting to the other. By flipping between the before and after I realized that before the Syder calibration my iMac screen colors were a very cool tone (cool = more towards the blue). After the calibration the colors are more balanced and even the screen brightness which was absurdly bright before is in a much more natural state after the calibration.

All is not good though since I do have a few quibbles here and there but they’re mostly the fault of Datacolor the company and not the Spyder product. My biggest issue is with the documentation or should I say lack of it. The manual doesn’t really tell you about any of the features of the Spyer and it’s also out dated. According to the manual the way to hang the Spyder onto the screen during the tests is with the help of the supplied rubber bands. But the model I got didn’t have any rubber bands and used a simpler newer method using a movable counter weight on the cable. Because of the lack of documentation there’s one feature that’s still confusing me. When connected to your computer the Spyder continuously measures the ambient room light and informs you with a a red icon if the light is different from when calibrated. What’s confusing me is what to do when the ambient light doesn’t match the one the test was performed with? Do I calibrate the display with different ambient light? Do I perform a test during the day and a test during the night? Do I switch between the different color settings myself? I have no idea what to do and the Datacolor website doesn’t even have the latest manuals uploaded yet alone answers to my questions. If you actually do end up purchasing the Spyder I would actually recommend you visit the product page on Amazon where one reviewer has a step by step guide on how to set everything up. That’s how poor the product’s documentation is.

But, even with the poor documentation I’ve still decided I’m going to purchase the Spyder4pro. The thing is it works and it works really well. Within just a few minutes after setting up to your computer you’ll start seeing results and the difference in some cases can be dramatic. It’s really something every serious photographer should have and also anyone doing any sort of design work. I highly recommend it.

Usually at the end of a review I’d proceed to place links to Amazon but in this case Alghunaim actually sells the Syper for prices slightly less than Amazon. He has three models in the store priced as following:

Spyder4expree KD38
Spyder4pro KD45
Spyder4elite KD65

The three Spyders are similar but each offers additional features than the other model. To see which one is suitable for you check out the chart [Here]

I’m going with the Spyder4Pro because it has the ambient light sensor which is missing from the Spyder4express and I also don’t really need any of the extra features from the Spyder4elite.

Alghunaim Photo is located in Baitak Tower in Kuwait City. Here my my previous post about them [Link]


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Pictures of old Kuwait houses

Posted by Mark

This is related to my previous post. A few years ago I posted a link to photos of Kuwait in the 1950′s. Well if you’re interested to see how Kuwait and the old Kuwaiti houses looked like back when they were still new then you should check out this photo set. There are around 100 photos to flip through, here is the [Link]


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Kuwait Meteorological Department Photography Contest Winners

Posted by Mark

I can’t believe I forgot to submit an entry to the Kuwait Meteorological Department Photography Contest! But, my brother did, and they just released the winners list and looks like he won with his photo pictured above. I was with him when he shot this picture in Salmiya last year during the big black dust storm. You can check out all the winners on the Kuwait Meteorological Department website [Here]

Thanks Colin


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