In this fourth and last part of my "What's In My Bag" series, I wanted to talk about some of the other things I like to carry around, things that are just simply often very handy to have with you. Most of those accessories are not specifically Fuji and work just as well with other camera systems.
The bag itself is a ThinkTank Retrospective 30. I absolutely love those bags, so much actually that I bought two of them. I first had a Retrospective 7, perfect for the X-E2 with two lenses and all the stuff I'm usually carrying around. Which is a crap ton, you wouldn't believe it. Well, it got a bit too crowded in there with the X-T1, 4 lenses, all the accessories and my private stuffs, so I upgraded to this model. The Retrospective 7 found a new life as my lighting bag, so it's now filled with most of my flashes, batteries and chargers for those. Not only are the Retrospectives very sturdy and resilient, I think they're also nicely unobtrusive and good-looking, compared to any other camera bag on the market really. The only thing I could possibly criticize are the little rubber strips under the pad on the shoulder strap, since they just tend to fall off after some time. This isn't a major problem since I don't think they actually help keeping the pad on your shoulder, it stays there on it's own without any trouble. It's just a thing I noticed.
Next I'd like to talk about those flashes of which I tend to have one with me all the time: the Yongnuo YN560-III. It's a completely manual flash, guide number 58, scaleable in third stops from full Oomph to 1/128th power. In the box, you'll find a little stand and a pouch. The flash has above all that an integrated wireless receiver. It's quite simple to use as it only has manual, multi, optical trigger and wireless trigger modes, all of which are very straight forward to control. The transmitter unit, the YN560-TX, works just like the Canon equivalent it's been modeled after, so you have the ability to control your flash settings for up to 6 groups directly from your camera. Best part? For the price of one Canon 600EX-RT together with the ST-E3-RT remote trigger, you get a whopping eleven Yongnuos. Plus one transmitter unit. Yes. That's nuts. Ok, they'll probably break after some time but honestly, I couldn't care less, I'll buy some new ones. But there's one more flash unit I own. I should have bought two Yongnuos for that price instead but I didn't. Joke's on me. I thought I'd need at least one unit with ETTL metering, I was wrong. This flash actually taught me that I'd rather work with a full manual flash, even during more hectic events, than using this unreliable, plasticky, cheap piece of... light equipment. Drum roll please.
The Fujifilm EF-42 is hands down the worst flash I've ever used. It feels like a child's toy, made out of the cheapest plastic. The Yongnuos for half the price feel sturdier and somehow more substantial, in a good way because the Fuji feels just hollow in comparison. All you need to know is that you should avoid this flash. And that Fuji should come up with their own real flash solution. ASAP. I mean, it's a bit embarrassing really, the X system cameras have come so far, with many well known fellow photographers using them for weddings and documentary style work, both of which would enormously benefit from a real, pro grade flash. How can this possibly take so long? Give us something, pretty please! Make it compact, powerful, rugged and put a WR at the end. Give it a wireless transmitter and perhaps useable ETTL. I'll take three please. But take this EF-42 thing off the shelves. I assure you, no one will ever miss it, just as no one would ever be happy they bought one. It's that bad. Let's change the subject now!
I really like that little BlackRapid strap. I got that idea from the awesome Zack Arias. Many of you will know the guy as he's practically an unofficial/official Fujifilm ambassador. He showed this with the X100 series cameras but this works just as well with the X-E2 or X-T1: get the BlackRapid SnapR 35 bag, throw away the bag as it's really not that great (or use it to stash away an EF-42 to never be seen again) and keep the strap. It's small, comes with a wrist strap and is the perfect low-key solution to carry your camera around if you don't want to take a bigger bag.
Next up: Joby Hybrid Gorillapod. It's very small so it fits easily in my bag. Perfect substitute if you don't want to take a full-fledged tripod with you all the time. The downside of this particular model is that it's almost a bit too small. I wouldn't put the X-T1 with the 50-140mm on it. I mainly use it in combination with the 35mm or the 10-24mm, which works fine. Even like that I'm probably way past its weight limit but honestly, I've never had any issues. I wouldn't attach it to a bicycle handlebar with my precious camera on top of it though. Combined with a cable release or a two second timer, this is a very handy tool to have in your arsenal. Which then brings me to the next accessories!
These are a perfect team: the Phottix Nikos timer remote and my Heliopan ND 3.0 filter. The Phottix has all the functions you could ask for in an intervalometer, plus a three year battery life. I like things I don't need to think about once I bought them. The only mentionable thing here is that you can only set a maximum of 99 frames which I think is ridiculous as the screen would easily allow more. You can also set it to just keep shooting forever though, but then you need to keep track of the time yourself. Then again, the X-T1 has an integrated intervalometer anyway, so I only use it for long exposures over 30 seconds. Oh and for some reason the big button, which would allow it to be used as a simple cable release doesn't work with the X-T1. Perhaps that's just my unit though so I would check this at the store before you buy it. Other than that though a definitive recommendation. Just like the Heliopan filters. I would suggest to never, ever cheap out on filters. Every system is only as good as its weakest link. In this context, that would often be the piece of cheap glass you put in front of your lens, lowering your overall image quality. Then just buy cheap lenses instead, saves you a pile of money. Heliopan are not the most expensive but so far I've always been very happy with them. I have one Hoya filter, which I don't like at all as it feels very cheap and flimsy in comparison. Just one thing to be aware of: the X-T1 sensor does not play nicely with variable ND filters! I've had one with me on a nice hike and tried to get some long exposure shots of a river. All I got though was some kind of weird dark circle in the middle of the frame, while the borders of the image were overexposed, negative vignetting so to say! Luckily I could return it and got a 3.0 ND instead, which works fine. Can't really explain the effect though, I would love to hear if any of you are in the know here!
The last accessory I'd like to talk about is the hand grip. The one in the picture is for the X-E2. That one actually has a problem as you can see, the screw broke! I'd rather think that was because of me over tightening the poor thing. I would still absolutely recommend it as it gives the camera a way better balance overall. It is all metal and the base is Arca-Swiss compatible which is a nice bonus. I also bought an unofficial hand grip which is an Arca-style L-plate but I didn't like it as much as the original because the grip part on the front is not rubberized. I never thought about getting the battery grip though as it's a bit to big in my opinion and you can only comfortably change one of the batteries on the go, as the second one is still in the camera body itself. Also I think that the X-T1 handles very nicely with the normal hand grip already, even with the bigger lenses.
So, that concludes this series! If there's anything you'd like to know more about specifically, don't hesitate to let me know! Also feel free to share your thoughts in the comments on great accessories you think are essential in your bag or other options to those I've mentioned. Thanks for reading, sharing and supporting me by buying a print on your way out! Just an idea!