Category Archives: Photography

XQD Field Backup Device (XFERMAX X8-S)

Thanks to the awesome folks at Dazuinfo, I was recently sent one of the only XQD/CFast field backup devices that just hit the market, the XFERMAX X8-S (PDF) made by DazuInfo ( I will be doing an in-depth review on it once I’ve had more time using it in the field. It will be coming with me on my expedition in a few months to hit the 7th continent, Antarctica (and last for me to have been to all 7). Being able to back up in remote places is absolutely critical for me. This capability is something that I’ve needed for quite some time, so much so that I was contemplating trying to create my own embedded Linux device to accomplish this task. Now, I don’t have to!

When this device arrived a few days ago, I put my 2TB Samsung Evo SSD drive in. Since then I’ve used it for transfers in the field, but also as a substitute for always having to have a laptop with me when I travel. The device uses 2 3400mAh rechargeable batteries. It has built-in card slots for XQD, CFast, and of course SD.

A couple people have mentioned why not use something like the Western Digital My Passport Wireless SSD and while I wanted to like the WD My Passport Wireless SSD, I have several issues with it. Below are a few reasons why the DazuInfo’s XFERMAX series are superior. While the WD does have good battery life, everything in it is proprietary and inaccessible. For example, you can’t easily replace the batteries with fresh Lithium batteries and you certainly can’t easily swap out the hard drive. This has always been a point of contention for me, and why I won’t buy Western Digital products to this day. I used to have several WD Thunderbolt RAID drive units, but they won’t work with any drive other than a WD drive. One of the ways this WD device reaches its claimed 10 hour battery life is by not having a built-in LCD forcing the user to interface with it via a cell phone/tablet and the WD App. The 3 biggest things I dislike about the WD is 1) it doesn’t have an XQD card slot built-in requiring another piece of tethered gear, 2) Requiring another device to interface with it which means another piece of gear and the WD App, and 3) most importantly you can’t easily access the drive and battery to swap either out thus limiting backup capacity.

The X8-S solves all of those problems while being smaller. The X8-S has removable batteries, a removable hard drive, both of which are extremely easy to access and it comes with an LCD to interface the device with and a built-in XQD/CFast card slots all without any other gear required. The other thing I don’t like about the WD is that for MAC users, it requires they install Paragon NTFS for MAC to attach the drive as a mass storage device. This may possibly be worked around via formatting it HFS+, but I’m not sure if that will work as WD requires Mac Users install Paragon NTFS for some reason. The X8-S is simply formatted exFAT which is universally supported. In a nutshell, it really depends on end-user needs and the WD is marketed as a “Wireless Drive” which requires a phone/tablet and for me it would also require an external XQD card reader. The X8-S transfer speeds from card to drive are also about double what the WD’s are. I don’t need any of the proprietary challenges of the WD or any of its “media streaming” capability. I only need an intuitive and openly accessible XQD/CFast backup solution that doesn’t require other gear to function.

As the Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K units are starting to hit the market, having a CFast solution in addition to XQD is amazing. Also, if you’re a Canon 1DX mkII shooter, the CFast card slot is much needed. I’ve only just begun to use this device, but color me impressed! I plan to also compare this unit with the GnarBox as well, but again no XQD/CFast slot and you need an App to interface with it for full functionality. So yeah, I’m definitely partial to the XferMax X8-S for those reasons alone. Here are a few photos of setting it up for the first time.

2016 Year In (4K) Review

Merry Christmas!! 2016 has been quite a year! I figured I’d put a short video together of imagery I photographed this year throughout North America. From Bald eagles on the Chesapeake to Puffins, eagles, coastal brown bears, and grizzly bears in Alaska with some interesting stops in California’s Yosemite National Park and Canada’s Banff and Jasper National Parks along the way. Some of these images have personal meaning to me and I hope you like them as well. May we all become better stewards of our resources.Until next year, without further ado here is a short 4K video of my 2016 Year In Review.
Eric Esterle Photo 2016 (4K) Year In Review

National Geographic Top Shot Award

Honored to have won my second National Geographic Top Shot award. Below is the winning image which is a crop of a full frame 35mm (FX) photographed with all of the bald eagle’s wings in frame. I liked the way the cropped version looked as it displayed all of the eagle’s fine details as she went in to pick up the fish out of the water (and she got it, I have 50+ images form the sequence). As always this bald eagle was photographed in the wild, all natural, with no baiting or any other nefarious shenanigans. For the gear-geeks, I photographed this with my Nikkor 800mm f/5.6 FL ED VR with 1.25TC attached to my Nikon D4S. Can’t wait to shoot my D5 with this glass!  Please feel free to follow me on National Geographic.



New Glass – Nikon 800mm FL ED VR

Nikon 800mm FL ED VR with the Really Right Stuff LCF-17 lens foot attached

Nikon 800mm FL ED VR with the Really Right Stuff LCF-17 lens foot attachedExtremely stoked to add the Nikon 800mm FL ED VR to my camera bag! I’ve attached the Really Right Stuff LCF-17 lens foot. I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited for any lens purchase. I am going to miss my 400mm f/2.8 VR gen 2, but I’ve wanted the 800mm fluorite VR lens since it was released. Having the new 400mm f/2.8 FL ED VR and the 800mm I believe would be the optimal prime solution. I am a huge fan of primes and will easily accept the focal length restraints of a prime in order to gain optimal optical quality of the highest degree. I do own and shoot zooms, but primes are where my heart is. I believe primes make you grow as a photographer more so than zooms. Looking forward to capturing and creating new art with this optical masterpiece.