Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Review: T3 Trailerfinder Binoculars

Using a blind for cover

So it's a wet and dull Tuesday morning at Skylarks Nature Reserve in Nottinghamshire and I'm testing out two products: the T3 Trailfinder and Macwet Gloves - however I've put them into separate posts, so if you're interested in seeing the gloves review click here. In a way the wet weather was good as it meant I could really test out the gear and see how it handles a wet day.

Striking my best 'pretend to be looking at something' pose 

Primarily I'm a photographer so, when spotting wildlife, it's normally through a lens rather than bins but the camera is put aside for my guiding and photography workshops. As a rule, I tend not to use my camera on them (unless something amazing happens, then it's out of the bag in seconds) as it's my job to get the client the images they are happy with, whether it's getting off auto or looking for kingfishers and water voles.

Now my 'Oh I've seen something' pose 

The T3 is lightweight at 742g, which means it's no bother to carry around my neck, in its bag (which can fit into pockets nicely) or fixed on to a belt. I've gone for the 8x42 model as it offers a wide enough view to spot wildlife while I can still hold it steady and direct clients to point their camera in the direction of said critter. It also comes in 10x42 and the more compact 8x25 & 10x25 models.

Adjusting the bins

Despite the day's dull, wet weather, it coped well with the rain and low light levels still giving me an excellent and sharp viewpoint of the rather soggy wildlife. Though the wildlife was a fair way off on this day, the bins can focus up to 1.5m close in, ideal if you were after species like dragonflies or butterflies.

Hanging down, the low weight is a advantage

 The eye-pieces are adjustable, as is the focus, but this is stiff enough so that it's unlikely to be knocked and come out of place easily. They come in very natural colours and don't cost an arm and leg at £139.00 from the Opticron website they are on more of the budget end for decent binoculars.

The new blue steel?  

Opticron are, as you may have guessed, an optical company so they don't specialise in photographic gear. However there's no reason why it can't be applied to cameras. The mounts are designed for scopes but I tested out a couple of their mounts with a camera in mind, namely the universal mount which as well as fences and gates can more or less be attached to anything it fits on, like trees or rock edges.

The grip was excellent even with the rain 

It saves carrying a tripod around, though of course there are limitations in that you need something nearby to fix it to so I would use this on more of a pre-planned shoot where I know there's something nearby to fix it to and is perfect for remotely triggered photography or trail cameras.

The rain was relentless so retreating to the car provided some cover

The other mount I tried out was the car window mount. Now a long lens would have been better to test this out but (rather ironically for the day's weather) I mostly do underwater photography, which doesn't merit a 500mm, so for the sake of testing I was stuck with a kit lens but 300mm + would be better in car hide situations. I was quite surprised how sturdy they are and its being on a ball head made it easy to adjust positions.

Using a QR plate as well meant it could be detached easily

I can see multiple uses for it including elderly or disabled photographers, or people with mobility issues who can still get great images from the comfort of a (mostly) dry car. Many car parks in nature reserves have lots of wildlife. Loch Garten, for example, in the Cairngorms has crested tits right in the car park!

Overall I would recommend any of the equipment I tested out as it worked well in the wet weather and is simple to use at a reasonable cost. For more equipment visit the Opticron website

Jack Perks

Facebook: Jack Perks Photography

Review: MacWet Gloves

Good grip on the binoculars 

So it's a wet and dull Tuesday morning at Skylarks Nature Reserve in Nottinghamshire and I'm testing out two products the T3 Trailfinder and Macwet Gloves however I've put them into separate posts so if your interested in seeing the Binoculars review click here.

Rain not proving a problem at all 

MacWet are a company based in the West Midlands and their gloves are for all kinds of outdoor uses like golf, fishing, clay pigeon shooting and even scuba diving but today I'm testing them with a bird watching/wildlife photography use in mind. So firstly, why use them?

Hands kept warm while waiting for the wildlife to appear 

Well on a day like today I wish I had brought my wetsuit as it was absolutely miserable! The gloves are actually measured to the person so they fit perfectly (I'm 8cm). They're comfortable and breathable so your hands don't get sweaty.

At £27.99 they are a investment for your birdwatching or photography 

Their motto is 'all grip, no slip' and it really rings true as with the increasingly bad weather it was like having a second skin on as the grip was more or less the same with them on.

Easy to adjust the dials 

They are not 100% waterproof, however my hand remained fairly dry and more importantly warm, which means I can handle the more fiddly bits on cameras and binoculars in cold/wet weather. They are made from a material called Aquatec, which is a material designed for grip and warmth when wet.

Smaller buttons easy to press 

In the past I've had problems with other gloves either being warm but not waterproof or vice versa. These gloves did a great job of keeping the wind off my hands and keeping them warm. Because they are quite thin, it means even the smaller buttons on the camera are easy to use.

Being lightweight they can be stuffed into camera bags and pockets with ease.

A velcro strap means you can fit the gloves to your wrist for a tight fit and keep out the wet this way. They come in two designs with a long cuff version (used here) which has a water resistant back and is fleece-lined. They other version is meant for warmer climates and both come in various colours like green, black and white.

Different sizes for different hands mean a snugger fit

For me as a photographer and cameraman, the main attraction is the fact that even with the gloves on you still retain dexterity and sensitivity while keeping the elements at bay. It also means that for tasks when I'd normally need to take the gloves off, like changing a memory card, battery or pressing small buttons. However, note that answering a smartphone or touchscreen may not work with the gloves on. To find out your size take a tape measure in centimetres, place the tape measure across the fleshy bit of skin just under your four fingers to give you your size. 7cm (size 7) is considered a medium women's size while 8cm (size 8) is considered a medium man's size.

Machine Washable 

The green colour is very helpful as it's surprising how much wildlife can spot the movement and colour of a hand, so when held against your face it acts as camouflage. The gloves are completely washable and doing this will keep them at their top performance.

Overall I would recommend the gloves for photography or any other outdoor use. I'll certainly give them a go next time I go fly fishing, gardening or hiking. It worked well in the wet weather and simple to use at an acceptable cost. For more equipment visit the MacWet Website

Jack Perks

Facebook: Jack Perks Photography

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Eight legged neighbours

 Wolf Spider Mother on Moss

Visiting Birdfair a couple of weeks ago I was delighted to see quite a few non birdy stalls and conservations groups such as the the Butterfly Conservation Stand and The British Arachnological Society whith some stunning Fen Raft Spiders on display. It encouraged me to get out into my own garden and see what beasties I could uncover.

Baby wolf spiders on there mothers back

Gardens can be a forgotten nature reserve but added up make the largest sanctuary for wildlife in the UK. Armed with Nikon 60mm Macro I went on a bug hunt (sorry arachnid hunt). I found a mother wolf spider with hatchlings on her back. They stay with her for protection until they hop of into the big wide world. 

 Daddy long leg spider
Depending where abouts in the country you are a Daddy long legs may be a cranefly or harvestmen but this is the spider version Pholcus phalangioides. Because of humans its colonised most of the world though can't tolerate cold weather so is mostly found indoors in toilets or houses but has the habit of eating other spiders sometimes quite venomous ones so is welcomed in some parts of the world.

House Spider 

The big girl of the bunch is this house spider who quite happily lives next to my kitchen. She does a great job of mopping up any flies that try to get into the house and moths attracted by the lights. Spiders are very clean and tend to stick to one area rather then flies which could be full of bacteria after feeding on something rotten elsewhere so spiders are great at keeping them at bay.

Fancy a cuddle?

It just goes to show you don't have to travel far to find unusual and interesting subjects to photograph.

BBC Wildlife Local Patch Reporter
Jack Perks

Facebook: Jack Perks Photography