Steinberger Photo Blog: slideshow photograph 1
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How to “Brick” a Sony Nex-7 in less than 10 sec…

Last week I was fortunate to spend a couple of days near Key West in the Florida Keys with my friend and marine cinematographer Ben Sampson. In addition to fishing for blackfin tuna, we ended up working on some conceptual, fashion-type underwater photography. I figured this would be a great opportunity to use my underwater housing that I bought last year for my Sony Nex-7. I used it successfully last year while swimming with sea lions off the coast of Baja California Sur, so what could possibly go wrong?


Approximately 10 feet down, I noticed a ton of bubbles coming from the housing. The knob that controls the focal length had detached itself from the housing, and salt water flooded in. Turns out, the manufacturer simply pushes the knob onto the housing. It isn’t secured at all — it simply goes into a little gear that turns a larger one. You can pull it off the housing. It also could, presumably, happen with vibration or the simple impact of landing in the water after rolling off a boat. To me, it’s unbelievable that the manufacturer could market something specifically for underwater use when it is this flawed.

My camera was completely destroyed, as was the lens. About $1,300 worth of gear. I was really pissed and contacted the seller / manufacture of the housing, and customer service responded within a couple of hours. They refunded the purchase price right away, without even asking for proof that the housing was defective or asking that I send the housing back to them. Can’t help but wonder if they’ve seen this movie before…!? Here is what they had to say:

“We can offer you a full refund for the case, but we will not be able to help you for your camera. Underwater case manufacturers cannot indemnify anyone for any loss or damage to cameras or lenses caused either directly or indirectly by mechanical malfunction or flooding of the product.”

Hopefully somebody will come out with a well-designed, professional-caliber housing for the Sony Nex camera… in the meantime, let’s just say that I wouldn’t recommend buying this one at all.

Thankfully, Ben brought his Canon 5D III and pro housing, which we ended up using to take the following shots. He definitely saved the day!



Anyway, in case you’re wondering what I ended up doing with my beloved Sony, well… it’s an artificial reef now!


PS: I took it back out of the fish tank after I took the photo… no, the poor fish are not dying because of toxic metals in the water…:)


Cheyenne River Fine Art Book

I also wanted to share the link to our very own Kickstarter campaign which went live this past weekend! As you may know we are trying to raise funds to get our book about the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation to print. Here it is:


Cheyenne River Fine Art Show

Just returned from Eagle Butte, SD where we installed a 30-piece art show at the Cheyenne River Youth Project in conjunction with their 25th anniversary celebration. The exhibition showcases some of our images from our book project. Anyway, just wanted to share some of the images from the trip and how it ended up looking once we hung the art work.

30 Canvases fresh of the delivery truck

unloading on a snow bank

unboxing and sorting

starting to look like an art show

blessing of the opening and celebration by Dr. Jim Garrett

One of my photos on a cake... that's a first!


Making Summer Memories… Boston Whaler Style

At last the aspens have shed their leaves in the Colorado mountains I call home. Temperatures have dipped below freezing, and the first snow has come and gone… a sure sign summer is over. And what a summer it has been!

Back in August, I had the pleasure of traveling to British Columbia to shoot Boston Whaler’s 2014 ad campaign. And, I had the pleasure of working with the same video crew from an earlier Sea Ray shoot: Mark and Ben, as well as Sheila and Alex, from Rackley Productions. Rounding out the crew were Traci, Kirk and Dan with Boston Whaler.

We met up with everyone at the Regency Hotel in downtown Vancouver. The next morning, we headed out with our subject boats for our first major destination: Port Renfrew on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

Early morning departure

Port Renfrew was a really cool place to be based for a shoot like this. It’s a very picturesque yet hardcore fishing port, and it had really nice cabins and a great restaurant.

Our cabins

View from our porch

The harbour

Subject boats and photo boat (the one with the pink chair in it)

We ended up shooting here for three days. Our talent caught a bunch of salmon, and we got a bunch of awesome footage. This far north in the summer made for some long days and short nights, but what a great experience.

Our photo boat and guide, Kevin

Early morning on the dock

After day three, we packed up and headed for Victoria for two days of shooting…

Mark making sure the gear is safe during our trip to Victoria

Sadly we never got to explore downtown Victoria, but it sure looked pretty from the water…

iPhone shot of the Victoria Hotel

Just as we were coming near Victoria Harbour, we encountered a super pod of orcas, a really cool sight to see…

A pod of orcas outside Victoria

Everywhere you turn, there is so much beautiful scenery…

Lighthouse near Vancouver Harbour

Anyway, after a week of shooting, I was sad to pack up and head home. Not only did we capture great images, we also had a lot of fun doing it. Here is the last shot of the week — the crew minus Sheila (who was busy editing) in Vancouver Harbor.

Our crew, Vancouver Harbour

More soon !


Renting a camera body

Recently I decided to supplement my camera gear by renting a Canon 1DX. I didn’t buy it when it first came out, as I thought it was a step backward; its resolution is less than that of my 1ds Mark III, which I normally use. But I did hear great things about the improved dynamic range, and the 12 frames a second definitely come in handy. As I was about to leave for a two-week shoot for Bayliner Boats and Sea Ray Yachts, I figured this would be a great time to try it out. Not only were we going to shoot lifestyle and boat-to-boat shots, we also were going to shoot the interiors of the bigger boats and have two days of running shots from a helicopter. In the future, maybe I’ll write a review about how the camera performed, but that’s not what this article is about. This one is specifically about my experience renting a camera body — hopefully what I learned will be helpful to someone down the road.

The week before the shoot began, I rented the Canon 1DX body online from I’ve had an account with them for about five years; I mostly rented underwater housings from them. The rental was reasonably priced: $500 for a two-week period. As the camera is valued at almost $8,000, I had to send them a current certificate of insurance. That wasn’t a problem at all; my agent took care of that. The day before the shoot started, the package arrived at our hotel outside of Knoxville, Tennessee.

As it was a brand-new camera to me, I figured I’d better check it out and shoot a few frames… which revealed that there was dust on the sensor. And not just a little. It looked like a cat sneezed on it. In all my years of shooting, I’ve never seen this much dust on a sensor. See for yourself; click on the image below to see it at full size:

test shot against blue sky


rendered black and white really shows it


just for fun, here is how Lightroom 5 visualizes spots...

To say the least, I was pissed. Here I am, the day prior to a major photoshoot, with a camera body that’s absolutely useless. So I fired off a email to the VIP department at, attaching the blue sky image. To their credit, they responded very quickly with the following email:

I’m sorry to hear you’re having some trouble with that 1DX. We had our technicians inspect that camera before it went out yesterday, but I’ll be sure to inquire about this with our shipping manager when your camera returns to our facilities. I noticed that you’re shooting a blue sky at F22, which really exaggerates any amount of dust that appears on the sensor. Are these dust spots appearing in your shots at wider apertures? Do you have access to a small blower so you can apply some air directly to the sensor? If you’re not able to get the sensor reasonably clean, would you like me to send you a replacement camera? The quickest I could have it out to you would be tomorrow morning before 10:30am. If you want to go that route, can you please let me know what address you’d like me to send the replacement camera to? Please let me know what you’d like to do and I’ll do my best to assist.

As no small blower would do anything for that kind of dust, I chose to have a replacement camera shipped. Unfortunately it didn’t arrive until after the morning session ended. So, over lunch, I checked out the replacement body; it was definitely much cleaner. But it was far from perfect… if you shoot it larger than f11, the dust never showed up. However, if you happen to be shooting interiors with a 17 tilt-shift lens, you better be at f22. And here is what that looked like:

As you can see: still plenty of dust. Which translates into many hours of retouching… hours of my life that I won’t ever get back.

In conclusion, I am not sure I’ll rent a body from them again unless they are making some significant changes in how they inspect and clean their equipment. Of course, I could’ve cleaned the sensor myself; however, if I would’ve scratched it, I am pretty sure I would’ve had to pay to have it replaced. Bottom line: The camera should have a clean sensor when it’s shipped out.

Anyway, rant’s over… lesson learned. Onward!