Arizona Pics

Here is the gallery from my AZ trip. Main highlights:
Grand Canyon – what a beautiful place. I’ve never seen anything like it – the grandeur is breathtaking. We drove from Flagstaff to South Rim. The only downside – too many tourists. If this is what it is when the temperature is 30 F, I don’t want to know what it’s like in the summer.

Sedona – amazing place. I can see now why it’s called a spiritual mecca.  There is something about the view of those rocks. We went for a great mini-hike away from the crowds and it was awesome!


Review of Manfrotto 496 RC2 photographic ball head

Bogen Imaging introduced a new line of ball heads in November. They are to replace the old models as follows:

Model 492 replaces the 482
Model 494
replaces the 484
Model 496 replaces the 486
Model 498 replaces … you guessed it… 488

Today I received my 496RC2 (the 494, 496, and 498 come with RC2 quick-release plates, and 498 also comes with RC4 quick-release plate) in the mail from Adorama and got a chance to play with it. I once bought a 484 ball head when i needed something small to put on my tripod, but I returned it soon thereafter, as I found it too small and got myslef an 804RC2 3-way head.

There are few features that improve on what already is a great device. In particular, all of the heads, except for the smallest have friction adjustment, which is great – really puts this head on par with the 222 Joystick (Grip) Head.
Lock knob (as well as the friction knob) is now a little more ergonomic – fingers are less likely to slip off the surface (486 had flat edges).
All models have 360 degree panoramic rotation. The 498 model has a separate pan lock.

It seems engineers at Manfrotto put additional thought into making the head lighter without sacrificing the strength – the 496RC2 weighs in at 0.93 lbs. – lighter than 1.01 lbs of its predecessor – may not seem like much, but I am sure it will make a difference on a hike or in carry-on. The way it was achieved is cutouts on the sides

… as well as on the release plate assembly

I know I’ll be taking this head on the trips, rather than the 1.72 lbs 222 joystick.

The only one problem i may have with this head is the quick release safety – it does not stay in unlocked position (as it does on 222, for example). I would really prefer it to stay unlocked so it’s easier to operate the release with one finger.

Overall, this is a great head, and I am thinking of selling my 222 in the near future. The construction is solid (as is always the case with Manfrotto), supports decent amount of weight (496 RC2 supports 13.23 lbs). I probably would not ditch a 486RC2 head if I had one to buy 496RC2, but as a new purchase of this type of head – this is definitely a “go”.
Here are few shots of the head on its own and mounted on my 190 CXPRO4.

I buy my gear from Adorama and B&H Photo Video.

Home Gym

So, the other day, a friend of a friend was giving away this home gym.(Thank you, again!) It took 3 guys to load it into my dad’s minivan (Long Live Honda Odyssey!), and I found no better way to spend that much needed extra hour on the DST shift weekend than unloading the structure and assembling it. Just for kicks i decided to try making a time-lapse video.

Assembling Home Gym from Timur Sakayev on Vimeo.

Resources used:
1) Camera with tripod and a bag loaded with B&H photo/video/audio catalogs
2) 4 Bottles of Sam Adams
3) Muscles of my body (some of which I was not aware of until the day after)
4) 240 expletives (at an average rate of about 2 per minute) – i think i invented one or two more
5) 2 wrenches

Lessons learned:
1) Use Full Manual mode on camera for consistent settings
2) Take special care not to move tripod, in order to avoid spending 20 mins trying to get the same shot
3) Heavy items WILL fall onto your toes/ pinch fingertips if you are not careful
4) Video makes it look too easy!

comes to you from the guy who was unloading KLR 650 alone off a truck w/o a ramp.


Autumn is upon us. For everybody who wants to enjoy the foliage, whether by:
a)just walking around enjoying the view, or,
b)waking up at some ungodly hour, driving for miles, getting out in the cold, setting up tripod, breathing on frozen fingers, spilling lukewarm coffee all over themselves (but hopefully not the gear)

Foliage Network

They have great maps by region with reports, so you can see where and when the peak color will is.