Real World Review – Tether Tools Case Relay – Long Term UNINTERRUPTED Power!

What photo problems makes you dive down the rabbit hole of possible solutions?
How many times have you late night googled a range of terms to find the right answer to a specific problem?
Too many times to count, for me.
One of the recent trips down the information highway was road mapped by a constant issue: Portable, uninterrupted power.
You know that you have many, many batteries for each of your devices: cameras, speedlights, smartphones, tablets, etc.
And all of the chargers needed to keep them topped off. A basket full, right? Ok, we all need a lot of power.
Specifically, I was on the hunt for a system that allowed me to do an overnight time-lapse. The trick was having enough power to keep the camera on during the process!
Without interruption.
Sure, you can switch out batteries, but you’ll have a glitch in your sequence.
After a ton of research, I found the most cost-effective, and portable solution:

The Case Relay System from Tether Tools.

It’s a simple concept-a dummy battery inserted into your camera, leading to a unit that, not only prevents any electrical overcharge but also has a battery enclosed, and a connector to another higher capacity battery.
Even if you need to change the large battery, the internal battery keeps the shooting going as you change batts.
This is especially critical in video productions.

They make battery adaptors for most of the cameras out there. Personally, I use Nikon, Fuji, Sony (for Atomos+ Fotodiox FlapJack light), Canon video, and BlackMagic Pocket Cinema adaptors. I’ll tell ya, these cameras can all use a bigger battery. More so on the mirrorless and video cameras.

Not just for continuous on time lapse either. If you are running a photo booth, or covering a loooooong event, you need this system.
And a new item recently released, allows you to access a D-Tap battery, giving you double USB, outlet. No, it’s not USB 3.0, but you’re just looking for the power.

At a price of $100 for the main set-up, and a range of prices for the coupler (dummy batts) is from $30-$40.
You may want to either get into their velcro strapping system, or work out something on your own to hold the whole set-up while in use.

This system has become a permanent addition to my imaging tool kit, I have all of the adaptors for the cameras, and use a solid phone charger to power them.

This simple concept makes it a great product. Coupled with solid design, tech, and sweet price point.
It always comes down to problem/solution.

Continuing their goal of improving the tethered experience, they just came out with Case Air, which is the first camera controller to truly rival CamRanger. Plus smaller and cheaper.

Wireless tethering made easier.

I first became aware of TetherTools while searching for a proper table to add to a support for tethering my camera to laptop (another late night google hunt). They have the best solutions I’ve seen, plus the right add-ons to make the system complete.
Obviously, they are speaking with photographers and know the needs of the community.
Ye, I’m a fan. And great customer service as well.

Good people, making solid products.

Real World Review – Why I Depend on Lexar

It’s something that you don’t want to think about: Media Cards.
Pop it into your camera, and shoot.
Because I don’t want to think about it, I have chosen one brand to use, and stick with it. Lexar
Yes, you can scan over Ebay and Amazon, and find all kinds of brands that may be cheaper, but this is about your images. What better insurance than to rely on a dependable product?
OK, why Lexar?
A few reasons:
they make the top pro speed cards, which is essential when you need to shoot a burst, and your camera can handle a good size buffer. Like sports, or music. If your card is too slow, you’ll be waiting for the images to write to that card, and you’ll miss that shot.
Trust me, I’ve done that. Honestly, sometimes using older cards and just slide one in, and pay the price. The pulsing light on the back of the camera, telling you the files are writing to the card, is the WORST!
So I always upgrade to the fastest speed, when I can.
They support you with every card, and include a code for media card recovery software. I’ve only used it once, but that’s enough.
Most importantly, memory and memory management is their business. Period. That means they depend on their products as much as you do.

Here is the super fast SD card, with 300MB/s, and it even comes with it’s own speedy reader, if you are not on the Thunderbolt HUB. See below.

And if you shoot video, especially 4K, if you don’t have speed, you have nothing.

I recently moved to a new video camera after 5 years, the Canon XC-15. This thing is so blazing at 4K, it has heat dissipation vents, and records at 305MPS @ 4K! And you do need the new CFast cards to take advantage of that 4K. Lexar has you covered.

Yep, from CF, to SD, to Micro SD, to XQD (let’s see what happens there) to CFast. With speeds allowing you to capture RAW, ProRes, and 4K video. You get read transfer speed up to 540 MB/s and write transfer speed of up to 445 MB/s, speeding up your post production workflow.
And here is a shot of the new rig:


I go from using the audio add-on module, to walking the trade show floor with this Rode. That is a Fotodiox ring light I use, which has a dimmer, battery operated, and saves me using a cold shoe on top of the camera.

And getting to workflow: I’m a massive fan of the Lexar HUB system. The modular set-up has allowed me to grow with my gear, and speed up the post production process. When I first got into the system, it was mainly CF cards. Then SD’s came in heavy, and I picked up more modules, depending on the system I was shooting. Of course, the micro SD GoPro needs, brought another module in.
And now CFast.
Here is my luxurious desk at my hotel in LAs Vegas at CES in Jan..

The beauty of this system is that it has a Thunderbolt flow-through, and on the road, this little tower lets me download up to 4 cards concurrently. Remember, not consecutively, concurrently! Big time savings. And when I add the SSD module, I get 512 GB of storage. I leave my RAID at home, and just save on that drive, and 1 external HD. Paranoid? Maybe, but don’t want to lose anything. Cheap insurance.

I will reveal something about me here, that does color some of my choices: I produce commercials for a living, and the cameras we use range from RED to Arri Alexa. Now all I’ll be doing on those sets, imaging wise, is some behind the scenes materials. The heavy lifting camera crew uses the full tilt packages. And Lexar CFast cards are what they use in Arri. When I have a million dollar commercial I’m producing, and the camera dept. is using a certain brand, I feel good And it’s confirmation for my choices as well.

There you have it: Lexar fast media cards, and the Lexar HUB make my life simpler.

Let’s be honest, there are some other players out there.
I just know that Lexar is always high quality products, that I can depend on. One less choice I have to make everyday.
Kinda like wearing pretty much the same things everyday (yes, I have multiples of the same thing, not wearing one set all the time. that would be gross).
It just works.

Real World Review : All About Remote Control

There are so many way to control how you press the shutter on your camera, I had to do a deep dive into the world, and try to make some sense of it all.
3 of the units reviewed here: CamRanger, Case Air, and Pulse. The 4th, Manfrotto Digital Director, is way bigger and shown later in the post. (quarter there for size ref)

Like most gear reviewed here, the mission to find the best in a category comes from a need.
Problem > solution type of situation.
Now, you may wonder, “what the heck do i need to add anything else to the camera?” My self timer works just fine, thank you very much.
I wanted to take a shot of me holding a product, and didn’t want to self timer it. I’m an adult and no need to run back and forth to the camera.
I was brought up with a shutter release cable, and now can do all I need, and more, via devices and apps.
There are other things you may want to do that can be sooo much better controlled remotely.
Continue Reading »

Holiday Gift Guide 2016 – Part 5 : The Light Modifiers

It’s a constant search for the Holy grail of the best light modifier. We’ll just talk about the speedlight range here.

Since not a whole lot new has come on the market since last year, that should adjust your thinking. I’m sure you’ll want to try at least one of these units, and perhaps add them to your wish list.

Except this cool tool, from Lastolite – The EzyBounce.
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What’s cool about this is the size and ease of use. It’s a 6 panel white reflector, with hinges at each of the panels, that are stiff enough at those points to stay where you configure it. My hope is that it stays as stiff as it is now, after continual use.
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Connecting to your speed light by a heavy duty rubber strap, with holes and pegs to keep it tight on the light.

And when you are done, it folds flat, and easy to stash.

For only $30, you really need this in your bag.

Next up is a new addition to the bag for the last year, MagMods MagSphere.

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It does get you into a system of magnets, set in silicone, holding modifiers, and does a great job of it. The light is soft and beautiful, and they have come up with a whole line-up of tools, to expand your creativity.

Simple, and it pops on your speedlight for an overall soft spread of light. I will admit that sometimes picking it out of my bag, some other metal things want to come with it, due to the magnets, can’t avoid that.

About $50

Next up is one of my all time favorite mods to give me that Ring Light look. The RoundFlash . This thing packs small, pops open easy, is lightweight, and most importantly, does the job. Pop it open, put your speedlight into the hot shoe, poke the speedlight head thought the top port on the back of the unit and you are good to go.

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Only $113. Yes, there are imitations, like a lot of stuff, but get the original, you’ll be happy you did.

here is a sample shot from Comic-Con 2016, using the RoundFlash, and a Nikon D810, 24-70 2.8 lens

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More gift ideas to come……

Real World Review : i1 Filmmaker Kit – Get Your Color Right!

Oh, sure, you can buy the right cameras, lenses, microphones, grippage, etc., for your video productions
Then you get into post.
Make sure that the video files you are ingesting have been treated to the standards of the industry, from the time you start shooting, to your editing workflow.
You know what they say: GIGO (garbage in, garbage out). How do you make sure that your imaging files are looking right from the beginning?
Pretty simple, actually
The folks at X-Rite ,familiar to you all as making a great color portable color chart for your stills, have come out with a great kit for your video needs, the i1 Filmmaker Kit. With a video color chart and a monitor calibration tool, this needs to be part of your workflow.
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First of all you should get in the habit of shooting a color chart at the start of all of your shoots.
This Color Checker Passport Video tool, is a portable, easy to pack chart.
Just take a shot of it, with the main lighting of your scene, and you will be able to start from a right place when you begin to edit.
Having a standard to start from, makes your creative choices true choices, and not fixes.

Then you get into the monitors you’ll be working with. As a point of fact, even with high-end monitors, they shift in color.
To say nothing of the light in the room you are working in. Yep, changing ambient light will affect how you are seeing the video.

What you should do first, and on an ongoing basis, is correct your monitors.
X-Rite has made tools, and software that make it super easy.
The i1 Display Pro is a calibration device that easily hangs over your monitor, and when you start the software, it will lead you by the hand in making sure your monitors are showing a true color.
Here is a great overview on why you should calibrate:

So, here’s all you do to calibrate your monitor
install the software
Plug in the USB Display Pro
Adjust the counterweight so the device hangs over the monitor flat, and start the software. It will cycle through all of the colors and tones, and calibrating them to a standard you can choose.
It will then show you a before and after, so it’ll be clear what has been adjusted.
Plus it will schedule your next calibration. Just a good thing to make part of your workflow.

And that’s it.
Simple, right?

I know it’s not the sexy new lens, or trick new bag, or perfect mounting gear.
It may seem like putting a new roof of your house: you need it, but you only see it when you go outside.
Here, you’ll see it inside and when you get your video workflow on point.

I’ve used this type of product for my stills that matter, for years, and this is the perfect tool for the worker.

I have to tell you that I just replaced my monitors. After 8 years of hard work, they died within a week of each other. The biggest color revelation for me was when the new monitor  was placed next to the old. Holy moly, what an extreme difference! This just illustrated to me how much we (I) don’t realize when our monitors are out of whack.

Cost is about $300, but the amount of time your will save in your workflow is well worth it.

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    Among Friends
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    Crossing-over

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  • Howard Greenberg Gallery
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