Holiday Gift Guide 2015 Part 3 : Video Gear

OK, I hope the food coma has subsided, and you are now ready to shop in earnest.
Just kidding.
Today, I’ll concentrate on some great new tools out there for your video making pleasure, or to gift the action storytellers on your list.

One of the most versatile, and quality products that is out there now is the Atomos Ninja Blade.

Essentially, it’s a video monitor/recorder that allows you to use your DSLR’s video sensor capabilities, and adds the features you wanted from a dedicated video camera.
Bypass the camera’s card slots and be able to record over 10hrs on an outboard drive. I’ve gone to the now affordable SSDs.Features I particularly like are the ability to use focus peaking, and highlight zebra functionality.
If you’ve been considering a vid monitor for your DSLR, this rig is an outstanding unit. An HD monitor and recorder that will record in ProRes and Avid ready files, so save time transcoding. At $500, it’s not cheap, but comes with a ton of accessories. Add a drive, cable, and some mounting accessories you probably have, and this could change the way you shoot video.
This is what come in the pelican-like case:
2 Ninja Samurai Blade Full Accessories Pack - ATOMBLDAC1-L
About $500. There is a terrific video on YouTube, that can give you a great overview as well. Just about 27 min, so not posting here.

Audio is 50% of your project. Unless it’s bad: then it’s 80%!
First off is an amazing deal at Amazon on the classic studio headphones. Sony MDRV6 Studio Monitor Headphones
Why do you want these?
Aside from the price, currently $50, these headphones give you the actual, non-affected sound. not added bass, nor treble. You be the engineer, and mix/eq later. And very easy to gift at this price.

Of course, add some external mics onto your rig, and depending what you may be shooting, the range is endless.
On the affordable quality side is the Rode Series.
The Video Mic Pro by Rode is a high quality , lightweight shotgun mic, designed for the DSLR.
About $250

A new, more compact, mic in the Rode line is the VideoMicro Compact On-Camera Mic. For only $60, this mic will do the job in a pinch. I now added this to my general bag.

Personally,for mics I use a Tram lav, TR-50, for prime interviews, and an Audio-Technica for my shotgun. Be prepared to spend a lot more for those, plus cables and probably wireless transmitters/recievers. I use Sennheiser and get along just fine. The Rode Micro is now always with me, just in case.

If you have a BlackMagic Pocket Cinema, you’ve realized that you need a good rig to get the most out of it.
Check out the RedRockMicro RetroFlex.
This kit includes a great, versatile cage, one of the best viewfinders I’ve seen and a pistol grip handle with a cable to trigger the camera.
It’ll look like a classic film camera, while giving you the handheld ease of operation. A full review is coming as well.
Honestly, I love the entireRedRock Micro line of mounts and filmmaking tools.
Start by buying some basic configurations. As you build the parts you need to customize the rig you require, you’ll find that the pieces will make up a rig tool box of sorts, you’ll reconfigure as your needs per shoot shift.

Every videographer should own one of these. Yes, you need a solid tripod, but when you are shooting in tights spaces, or on fast deal, the Manfrotto MVM500A Aluminum Fluid Monopod with 500 Head, is a monopod with the total package. Comes a fluid head on the bottom legs, and a sweet pan head, you will use this. A lot.
Manfrotto 561B monopod
Affordable quality for only $240 (pictured is the previous version, the 561B. If you can find that, you’ll save about $50.)

These are a couple of ideas for you, and who knows, maybe there will be some great deals out there this weekend. This is good gear that will serve you well, however, and bring a smile to a gifted whether you get it on sale on not.

I’ll be doing some lighting and software reviews coming up shortly.

Canon Cameras Now Come With Free Insurance!

In a bold move, you can now add piece of mind to a Canon pro camera gift this season. At no additional cost!
Canon CarePAK PLUS

MELVILLE, NEW YORK, November 24, 2015 – Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions, launched a promotion for CarePAK PLUS (which includes accidental damage protection) just in time for the holidays. Now through Saturday, January 9, 2016, Canon’s CarePAK PLUS is available at no cost to customers who purchase from a list of six professional Canon EOS DSLR camera bodies and eight EF USM lenses plus “kit” lenses on eligible camera bodies from a Canon Authorized Dealer. Providing protection from accidental damage like coffee spills to additional hardware coverage from excessive wear and tear on mechanical and electrical issues, CarePAK PLUS coverage lasts 13 months from the date of product purchase. And as an added bonus, CarePAK PLUS is transferable, meaning the customer can give the product as a gift this holiday season and the benefits will transfer.

“This complimentary CarePAK PLUS promotion was developed so photographers can focus on capturing family festivities during the holidays, or shooting professionally on assignment, without having to worry about the costs and anxiety associated with accidental damage,” said Eliott Peck, senior vice president and general manager of Canon U.S.A., Inc.’s Imaging Technologies & Communications Group. “By offering this promotion to our customers, we’re letting them know we stand firmly behind them and if it’s needed they can count on Canon’s 100 percent U.S.-based customer service.”

Eligible Canon cameras and lenses include:

EOS 7D Mark II
EF 17–40mm f/4L USM
EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM
EF 50mm f/1.2L USM
EF 16–35mm f/2.8L II USM
EF 24–70mm f/2.8L II USM
EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM
EF 70–200mm f/2.8L IS II USM
EF 100–400mm f/4.5–5.6L IS II USM

In addition, any lens included within a kit with an eligible body will be covered. For example, if a customer purchases the Canon EOS 5D Mark III and EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens kit, the lens will be covered since it is included in the box with the body (also known as a “hard bundle”).

The CarePAK PLUS promotion provides protection from kids, pets, and life including accidental damage such as drops, spills, power surges and other unforeseen events. It also includes additional hardware coverage from excessive wear and tear on mechanical and electrical issues. Those that do require a repair under this promotion will also enjoy priority service, free return shipping and support direct from Canon, never a third party. Canon’s CarePAK PLUS gives consumers the confidence that their product will be serviced by Canon factory trained technicians using only Genuine Canon parts. Customers who activate the complimentary CarePAK PLUS offer after taking delivery of their covered product will also have the option to extend the coverage for up to three years from date of purchase at an additional cost.

Details of the promotion are available at including the terms and conditions and the link to register eligible products

Holiday Gift Guide 2015 – Part 2 : The Media

One of the best deals that Black Friday and Cyber Monday offer is media.
You know, what you shoot to, store on, transmit from: SD, CF CFast,SSD, Hard Drive, Flash Drive, Etc..
Everyone needs it, and whether it’s a stocking stuffer, or a night of Chanukkah gift, this item is usually one of the best deals of the season.
Admittedly, some of the products are about to be replaced with faster units, but you need this stuff. Maybe you like to keep the card as a master back-up file. The deal coming up will easily allow you to do this. (just remember to open it at least once a year)
One thing to look for is speed of the card. Whether you are shooting video, or using one of the Mega file cameras, read/write speed is critical to keep you shooting.
My main brand is Lexar, as they have never let me down. Of course, Sandisk will also do you you right, just a matter of choice.
Her are some products to consider:
The Lexar Pro 2000x is an incredibly fast card, that even comes with it’s own reader for speedy workflow.
If you’re shooting 4K video, or a 36mg still file, this card will rock your world!
Available in 32-128 GB sizes. And regarding size, everyone has a different viewpoint: smaller to not put all of your eggs/images in one basket, upload some while shooting more, not needing to change out cards while shooting an interview or scene. lot’s of ways to go.
The 64GB goes for about $95

Going Go-Pro or other micro SD camera? the check out the Lexar Pro 1000x, UHS-II.
Also comes with it’s own reader for faster workflow.
The 32GB model is only $30!
Both cards are available in a lower priced 633x version.

Then they make the awesome Lexar Workflow Hub.
OK, this is really geared to the heavy user using multiple cars on a shoot. Download all cards concurrently to a folder, or consecutively to Lightroom, and get some other work down while that is happening. Great for a wedding, or music festival photographer. With 4 modular ports, and Thunderbolt daisy chin capability, you can customize it depending on what media type cards you use.
Maybe the drone lovers will love this 3 slot micro SD module:
I will also sometimes carry the modules in my bag separately, as each one works on it’s own.
The 1st gen hub goes for $50., without modules, and still gives you USB 3.0. The latest version with Thunderbolt jumps up a bit to $190.

And after years of not getting on board, I’ve finally feel that I can endorse the Eye-Fi Mobi Pro.
After moving to the Nikon D810, and know thing there was no wi-fi on board, this was the best solution to uploading to social media in the field. Yep, it works easily, and you get a year of cloud storage.
About $80

Scan Your memories For The Holidays : Epson V850

You are probably the chronicler of your family and friends.
Even if you make your living with photography, you’ve been called on to capture the moments in your personal life.
Chances are the request wasn’t a burden, but a joy.
Chances are your early beginnings with photography was spent taking photos of those close to you.
And who came before you in this role? A parent? An older sibling, or relative who always had that camera at family gatherings?
Someone did.
And now, as we start headlong into the season of gathering with loved ones, your skill and insights can bring a gift to your circle that is better than anything Black Friday can deliver.
Memories of a shared life.
Most likely you have access to prints, negatives, and possibly slides from generations past. Heck, it’s not that long ago that digital was not the norm.
I’d like to suggest you create a folder, a book, a site, filled with images you’ve curated of lives around you. Scanning will help you do this. And photoshop will help you restore these photos and documents.

Share it on line, hard copy, airplay, on your phone, Apple TV.
Momalonesepia3aThe first time I tried photoshop and scanning was to make a book of my mothers life when she turned 80. By reaching out to family members for photos and documents, I learned how to scan properly, and use Photoshop to repair images that had been creased, crumpled, marked up.
I had to.
It was a project of passion and love.
OK, I wasn’t great. It was my first time out.
So now, a project to keep your history alive is one I’d like to propose to you as a very special gift for those around you.
It’s been a few years since I completed that project, and the technology has had great leaps.
In looking to update my own personal history, I started to investigate the best tech gear to use.
In a review a few weeks ago, I told you about the Epson V850. Hands down the best unit for this project, and affordable. Heck you can even go a model number down, and get good results. If you invest in the top of the line you will get better software and I know, have this unit for a long time.
You know Photoshop, so if you don’t have it, get it. And get some training, or even Adobe’s own videos to learn.

So there you have it: The first Holiday Gift Guide Item that is a sweet piece of gear, utilizes content you have, and will bring a smile to those you share with, as well as yourself.

Just a thought.

The Gear That Just Works, Day After Day

As we head into another season of gifting, self gifting, replacing gear before year end, and buying new gear, your photographic spending dollars are precious.
There will be coming reviews of gear I’ve found to be useful additions, or worth checking out, but first….

Let’s talk for a moment about the gear that just works day after day, all the time, trusted parts of the kit.

I’m only going to discuss the equipment that has stood the test of a daily grind, and not the goods that have the simple joy of trying a couple of times, and relegating to a closet or storage, or ebay.
We’re talking cameras and the things that carry them.

First up is the subject of camera bags. Continue Reading »