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My new monster toys: AKELstudio equipment upgrade.

This week I’ve got 2 additions to my studio gear I was waiting for a long time: heavy, solid and huge Fatif studio stand and amazingly fast workstation laptop, Lenovo W700ds. Both of them are really monstrous creatures:

fatif studio camera stand  lenovo aptop atlanta photographer professional gear

Fatif studio stand:
Old, by still strong as my red pepper Ukrainian vodka I brought 8 years ago and still haven’t tried: about 180 lb heavy, 8 feet tall, it feels like an WWII cannon:-)

I was looking at this type of stands for a while on eBay (was not ready to spend the money for new one: a good camera studio stand cost somewhere from $2.000 to $21.000).
Why so expensive? I was wondering before I got mine, now I know why: so heavy, so solid built and so much easy to work with in a studio comparing to my Manfrotto tripod, it is  definitely worth its money.
I was lucky to get mine form (many thanks) Tony (TonySmithStudio.com) for a fraction of it’s original cost. The shipping from Miami to Atlanta cost me more than 50% of the price I’ve paid:-)

Have you ever sit in a tank? Ever drove one? Imagine you have¬† a small one in a studio: move it around (I’d have to remove the rest of the carpet in the studio), aim¬† on a target, park and shoot.
There is no way I can accidentally hit this stand it and move the camera off from its target. I can easily break my leg, yes…¬† but no way I can loose camera’s focus or composition anymore:-)

I remember how frustrating it was when I accidentally hit one of¬† tripod’s leg while shooting super (3x lifesize) macro: the whole composition was ruined in a fraction of a second. Now, with such studio stand it won’t be a problem: it has more then 2 times smaller footprint than my tripod, it is easy to move it when wheels are engaged, and it solid when locked.

Here it is:

fatif studio camera stand photigy product photographer atlanta

Camera can be lowered from few inches from the ground up to a ceiling in a couple of seconds. Counterweight is inside, so even my wife can do it without much effort:-)
To move stand around, base should be lifted (see below): hidden wheels gets engaged and the whole thing can be easily moved. When base is lowered, all 180 pounds is on the floor, nothing can even shake it.

fatif studio camera stand base
Fatif studio camera stand base

I a going to mount laptop on arm, opposite to a camera, already ordered Wall Mount LCD Arm.

fatif studio camera stand atlanta photographer
Fatif studio stand, camera arm

Now the second toy: Lenovo W700ds professional workstation from IBM.

lenovo w700ds dual monitor notebook

(tech details of the shoot are below)

It look nice on a picture, but still the monster: Two screens:¬† 17” (1900×1200, ¬† wide color gamut (72% Adobe¬ģ RGB)¬† and 10.6” (768×1280) retractable one. I could even get a Pantone Color Sensor + WACOM Digitizer w/ Stylus integrated into it, if needed! I do not need it, as this is my only photography workstation, all photography post production being held by¬† desktop workstation.

8 GB PC3-8500 DDR3 memory, Intel¬ģ Core‚ĄĘ2 Extreme QX9300 (2.53GHz, 12MB L2, 1066MHz FSB), dual HDD: 128Gb SSD + 320Gb 7200RPM drive, Windows 7 x64 pro.

Love this machine! With system drive on Solid State Drive,  it simply flies! (for those who does not know: SSD disk use the same technology as flash drives: meaning no spinning disks, which leads to much fast seek read/write times.)
It also has the best (IPS based) LCD matrix, something you can’t easy find on a laptops. Even macbook pro does not have such good screens.

Speaking of Mac/Apple: I do not know why, but for some reason Mac treated as a professional tool for photographers. It is almost “must have” if you do photography, right? (I’ve never seen photographer using non-mac computers before, except me).

Honestly, I will never understand this:-) It is like using Leica cameras for professional photography (especially in-studio): no doubt Leica has really nice and solid cameras (same as Apple computers or monitors), but there are much more professional and convenient cameras for professionals, right?¬† They are less stylish, true: you can’t beat Leica here (same as Apple).

For me functionality is the most important thing I need from my gear. I need hi-end functionality and usability to do a stylish photography, not the opposite. This is why I do not use Apple: prefer functionality over the style, prefer to pay for the functionality and freedom of what tools to use first, style is a secondary … I apply this rule for all my gear:-) This is the reason¬† why I did not buy the latest lenovo W701ds series: for a half of it’s original price ($4800) I am getting 99% of the performance and functionality: top of the quad core processors are very close to iCore 870 series, the rest is quite similar.

Now, back to my Lenovo.

Instead of highlighting a keyboard, it has two LED lights on the cover: when turned on, they lighting up the whole workspace: screen, keyboard and a table around. May look strange at first, but it is much easier for my eyes to work in darkness this way. I’ve tried, I’ve compared with only keyboard highlighted laptops, and I like it better.
See how it looks  in a darkness, two LED on top are ON:

lenovo w700ds dual monitor laptop photigy equipment

Well, not in a really darkness:-) I was using the same technique as I had for a recent LED lamp shot : no modeling lights for studio monolights, dark studio and 30 sec exposure. This way I’ve got combined exposure from a strobes and laptop lights in one shot.

Just in case you’ll be willing to see a lighting setup for this shot: I liked first photo of the notebook: considering¬† only 5 min was spent to¬† setup the lights, no Photoshop, everything as-is off the camera, it does not look bad. I especially like that curved reflection on a screen: diffuser panel are the best for the task:-)

photigy photography Atlanta GA lighting setup diagram

3 light sources: Paul C Buff  beauty dish through the diffuser from left-front, softbox from the right, stribbox on the right-behind. Simple and efficient:-)

Must say that for the dark studio shot (second image of the laptop) I’ve turned off left light to avoid that reflection on the screen.

This is it:-) Would be glad to hear your opinions.


Update (8/31/2010): got a support arm for a laptop, now the whole “photographic workstation” is almost done:

studio stand laptop mounted notebook support arm photography
Laptop mount on a camera studio stand

13 responses on "My new monster toys: AKELstudio equipment upgrade."

  1. Why go Mac, when PC gives you options?
    simple math

  2. Hello Alex,

    Thank You for this article, it helped me a lot with decision what to buy for studio equipment.
    I just want to buy this laptop arm holder as You posted above: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00358RIRC?ie=UTF8&tag=ak08-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00358RIRC and mount it on the similar studio stand from Manfrotto: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/4985-REG/Manfrotto_809_Salon_230_Camera_Stand.html.
    Please, is there any easy way, how to mount this holder on studio stand?

    Thank You for any advice :)


  3. Excellent photos, I love them very much

  4. Oh heck, your laptop makes my eyes water. I really love to have one. Although Mac is very expensive.

  5. I agree, I don’t use MAC (although, I like their aesthetics) I prefer the functionality and price of PCs. Thanks for the blog, I’m enjoying the info.

  6. Alex –

    Just found this page. What are you using to support your laptop? I just purchased an older salon mini-monostand and want to place a fully articulating head on it and a laptop support. However, I have found few people in my area who know what I am talking about.

  7. I love Lenovo Thinkpads too. With windows 7, ssd drives, and properly configured I am having the best computing experience I’ve ever had.

  8. Love your site, great pictures. You seem to be a very organized person, meticulous. I can tell by looking at your site. That is probably why you prefer a pc. Pc’s work great as long as you dont start installing and uninstalling stuff, and as long as you dont multitask all over. That is why pc’s are the prefered choice for corporate enviroment. Most creative people are also quite caotic and macs are more predictable, they almost always work at the same speed/rate and the same way. That is great for us Mad people. They also have some very strange features that are life savers for crazy unorganized people. I never turn on my mac, for example. That is crazy, but its awesome. lol Keep up the good stuff

    • Matt,
      Thank you for the comment, but… you are so wrong about my organization;-)
      I am constantly tweaking all of my PC (have 5 computers at home and studio), doing so many crazy thing with it… Tweaking registry, installing crazy Russian software, trial programs, removing it, installing again and again… My work-horse PC gets rebooted only once every 5-6 month, probably. It still works very well: I know how to make it work so well for me:-)
      This is the one reason I do not go with MAC; i do not know Unix so deep to do the same crazy thing with it.

      Regarding my “well organization” .. you have to talk to my wife:-))) She’ll tell you about my lifestyle and my organization, which can make crazy any “normal” person, but I am lucky to have such wife: she can tolerate my “organization”:-)
      However, our computers, our dedicated servers with all our websites are very organized: I came form IT world, and I know how to make all that stuff running like a swiss watch. This is a business, and I can’t afford any failures which can impact our client’s content.


  9. absolutely agreed with you on the mac . simply overrated.
    I am using lenovo t410 and love it.

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