Why 2 Phones, Not 2 Phone Numbers

I thought it was a crazy idea: who needs 2 phones? One is working just fine.

Then I realized how it could make sense. Social media for one part. I know, I maybe so late to the party. Years ago at CES, I saw people with 5 phones, and used each to post for specific sponsors and clients. Looked like a nutty proposition. The early days of influencers.

After years of covering CES and other events with DSLRs and full up video cameras, then moving to mirrorless and smaller vid cameras, this year I decided to go with only shooting video on mobile for trade show coverage, and a mirrorless for, well, I had to have that format in my hands. Old habits. And I love the Fuji X-T3!

Here is the rig: Beastgrip, Rode VideoMic NTG, Samsung Note 10+.

This is why, after looking at many options, is the working set-up.

Of course the main component is the mobile device.

The Samsung Note 10+, has a key feature that keeps getting used – the stylus! They call it the S-Pen, and it is not just a stylus. It has some cool tech inside that allows you to control the phone by BT. 12mg of RAM makes sure you have fast working vids. The size of the screen, the high quality of the image, and the ability to have a removable 1TB micro SD card, all led me to this device. After years of using an iPhone forever, this Note 10+ provided the specific features I needed. (hot tip-since you can add a microSD, no need to but the heavy internal storage model.

A fast backtrack first: After shooting a concert in NYC, I was on a plane to Asia, and needed to do some initial editing. As it’s first test, I backed up the files to the Micro SD card and put that card into the Note 10+.

With the advantage of the Adobe Lightroom app loaded, the edit and adjustment process became a breeze, due to the large, beautiful screen, and the all important stylus. Battery life was great, and of course, always carry an extra batt pack to keep working. Once done, the images could be immediately uploaded to my social channels. All from a mobile device.

OK, that was why the initial selection of the Samsung Note 10+. One other small note – I do not use a SIM card, as I depend on wireless. Works like a champ, and yes, I have a second phone.

So this becomes a great editing device, but there is more.

As you can see on the video rig, The large screen is helpful, and the BeastGrip has cold shoes to add things like mics, and lights if you desire. A LumeCube is a great addition, and keeps the footprint small. Honestly, the zoom-mic feature of the Samung Note 10+ is pretty sweet if you don’t want to add an external mic. Video quality is outstanding, and the ability to adjust the resolution up to 4K is helpful.

It’s the dang stylus that was the huge sell for me. and Samsung announced a new more affordable version of that device coming soon w/stylus. Apple seems to have missed the boat on that, unfortunately.

Here is a sample vid: No extra titles have been added yet, nor the #s. Pretty much straight out of the smartphone, and went right to Instagram. The RAW stuff. Click to view. Down rezzed for posting here.

Why BeastGrip and not a gimbal? Trust me, I thought the gimbal would be the winner, and had put a special cold shoe ring on the DJI Osmo 3 to make that happen. The issue was the mic wires impeded a smooth, unfettered, gimbal move, defeating the purpose of the gimbal to begin with! So gimbal best with phone alone, but not what I was looking for.

The build on BeastGrip is just right, and is customizable. I would like an additional grip part on the left side, but with all of the 1/4-20’s (tripod sockets) on this, I’m good for now.

For external audio, there are so many choices. With a mobile device, you have to be a bit more clever in the setup. For CES2020, the newly released Rode VideoMic NTG, was the call. The feature set is crazy good, as a shotgun, with the ability to monitor as you record, and a built in clipping light, all worked out. Another good choice is the Rode Wireless-Go for the lavalier mic choice.

I do reserve the higher end Sanken mics for the bigger video rigs, with Sennheiser AVX wireless system in play.

So back to the initial thought: Having one mobile device dedicated to the video, allows you to go live, capture for later, shoot vertical easily, post with no problem, and ALWAYS BE IN TOUCH ON THE ACTIVE MOBILE DEVICE! And seriously, since a lot of this coverage is social or online, the high quality of the Samsung Note10+ works perfectly.

Yes, we are now seeing more feature, story telling content being shot with mobile devices. A master cinematographer using those tools can create magic. This post is only about event coverage. (or is it?)

Separation of uses, with one phone for calls, and the other device for a full working creation tool.

And with no SIM card, there is no need for additional line charges. Bonus!

Another tool I bring with me now is the LaCie Boss,

This a Swiss Army type of SSD storage, that allows me to transfer, and save files, between multiple devices on the fly. With a built in SD slot and all the cables you may need for transferring materials to and from any device, winner right here. Plus if you have a card reader, your can transfer any card you like! I have the 1TB model and it holds all the video, too!

And yes, it’s true that if you make a purchase using the links above, it does help support this site. Thank you in advance!

Best Travel Accessory!

So you just got those amazing BT earbuds/ headset, and you not only sound good, but you look good, too!

Now you are starting some travel, maybe for business, maybe for vacation, and it would sure be cool to use those sweet wireless headphones on your flight.

But if you are getting on a plane, you either need to hard wire your over-ear headphones, or not watch an airplane movie with ear pods.

OK, found a great solution that I had to use a few times before recommending: AirFly by Twelve South, a blue tooth transmitter!

It’s a simple deal: pair your head set or AirPods, plug the Air Fly into the headphone 3.5mm jack on the plane, push a button, and Voila! you are wireless! Good for about 20 hours with the pro.

Thankfully, Delta has a USB port at your seat, so I could charge my phone while flying.

The true story is that I was on my way to a much needed vacation, and was struggling with my Air Pods, and a video on my phone. Yep, it was not a great combo. As people in my row started to get up, the AirPods got loose and flew around the plane. I resorted to the crappy airline wired earbuds, and had to keep unplugging them as my row-mates got back to their seats.

I was determined to find a solution, and still be wireless.

Enter the Air Fly and some sweet over ear headphones. All charged up, I plugged in, pressed the button and the rest of the cross country flight was sorted from an audio perspective!

For you audiophiles, you may ask about latency. For the rest of us, that means a delay between the sound from the source to the headphones. With movies, no issue. Once I used DirectTv which is a kind of live feed for news, it was a bit more apparent. Truth is after a few minutes, even that minor deal went away. maybe the brain just adjusts.

If you fly, this is one heck of a great item to pack. I keep it in my headphone case to make sure I have it. And if you are looking for a cool gift, this works.

Even the Apple store sells it, so it had to pass their test as well.

I have not had a extremely long flight, like NY to Asia this year, yet, but I will have it with me on that when i do.

You can also get a version that allows 2 people to use the same audio feed.

Need to charge?

Uses the new standard of USB C cable.

I did make sure my headset and air pods were paired before I took the trip. Did a test on the laptop. Then once airborne just pressed the button on the AirFly and it was good to go.

There is a big CES wrap-up, with insights and some gadgetry coming, but waiting on some samples to add in.

Lot’s of wireless chargers, ear pods, headphones, security, phone cases, some cool lighting, and the biggest news is that the previously talked about developed tech, is coming into AI play and into your life.

Holiday Gift Guide 2019 – Part 3 – Photo Books to Give and Get!

Still getting last minute discounted prices on sooo many things. Just about every camera store has deals coming almost daily.

In other categories, let’s look at a gift that never gets a software update: Photo Books!

This also seems to be the year of great reprints, so keep an eye out for those Maybe a commentary on new photography, maybe the book market is finding it’s level.

I’ll go through the previous faves here. As I mentioned, some things don’t  need updating, but do go out of print so have a watch put on those. Not everything gets a reprint!

One of my new fave companion books to Photographers Playbook, is PhotoWork: 40 Photographers On Process and Practice.

The good folks at Aperture have developed an easy to digest format, of asking 40 fine art photographers the same questions, such as “ How do you know when a body of work is finished?” This is a book of exploration, and no photographs are presented. A thought starter. Everyone can use some inspiration. about $18.

In the reprint arena one of the great choices is, Subway by Bruce Davidson

 A portrait of the lifeblood of NYC, told in a brooding color love letter, that captured a time, and a culture that makes the melting pot, an overused phrase, a visual reality.

One of the most iconic music photos was taken by Art Kane in 1958.

This year, a book chronicling that shoot was published, and I still go back to it for the stories, and the set up. For the music lover, story lover, and the curious. There is a limited edition copy with a print, but I understand it’s not a print of the final image. Book only about $60

Douglas Kirkland is not only one of the most prolific celebrity photographers, an amazing talent, teacher, and perhaps the nicest man in the business, he has a body of work that is unparalleled.

A gift that you can share across a broad spectrum of people in your sphere, A Life in Pictures, a Douglas Kirkland Monograph, should be in your library.

There is a great series from Aperture in their educational series.

With insights and revelations from major artists like Mary Ellen Mark, Larry Fink, Todd Hido, Alex Webb, and Dawoud Bey, these are affordable softcover books to help inspire. On the site it says a lot are sold out but I’ve found them on Amazon easily. You should click the link to see their other offerings

I won’t go into the more esoteric, and small run books, as it would it be a shame if I recco and you can’t find.

 There is one book I love to gift and just got 10 more copies in to hand out, and that’s Family Of Man.

It’s the most well attending photo exhibit ever, and tells the tale of the human condition, by 256 photographers from around the world. Sure, the show opened in 1955, and the world has gotten a ton smaller, but there are truths there that still hold. A classic gift. Truth is, I found this book in our family bookshelf when I was 8, and it changed my life, and brought me to a life of photography.

Amazon just told me that I’ve made 18 purchases of this book, with multiples in each order.

There will be one more gift guide, as this year, Christmas and Hanukkah intersect so there is time to get more gifts! Next up will be some bits and bobs that you may have missed.

Holiday Gift Guide 2019 – Part 2 – Can You Hear Me Now?

I’ve said it before: Audio is 50% of your video. Unless it’s bad, then it’s 80%!

It’s true that people can consume marginal video if the  sound is good. If sound is bad they are gone. Solid gone.

This part of the gift guide has some options you should consider to increase the peace on your video’s sound.

Rode has become quite the player in the easy to manage mic choices.

This year they introduced the Rode Wireless GO mic system which makes a wireless recording so easy, you can’t ever leave home without it.

With a 2 small footprint modular system, you only need to simply pair once to get a wireless lav system in production.

Designed like 2 squares about an 1 inch each, they easily attach to the subject, which could be you narrating, and the mic input on your camera. Or with some adaptors, your smartphone.

No question, this has become the go-to solid consideration for your vlogging needs.

If you don’t want the wireless option, yet still require the lavalier, the RODE SmartLav (with adaptors not included-keep all of it in a small bag), works great on smartphones, and hard wired into you camera.

Below is an older vid, check the connectivity, but still gives you a good idea on the how to use the mic. A great option, even with a DJI Osmo 3 Gimbal as you cover events.

And this mic, the Rode VideoMicro is always in my bag, as it plugs fast into my camera and give a higher quality directional mic-ing, and gets that nasty on camera noise out of the picture. A great compact solution.

You can use it with the above system, and honesty get a more discreet mic-ing option.

For monitoring all of your video need there is no need to break the bank as the Sony professional over ear headset is only about $100. The choice of pros, these deliver a flat sound, not colored by bass or high end to give you the best, honest, depiction of the sound you are gathering.

When you do start to go higher end on your audio capture, one of the best new mixers out there is from CEntrance. Whether you are podcasting, want cleaner audio on your DSL or Mirrorless, this unit is super clean and the design is minimal, so the rig you build is manageable.  The Mixerface R4 has a microSD slot so you can get the insurance of another copy of the record. I always want the insurance. You get 2 XLR inputs, and super easy connection to a smartphone

For microphones, I prefer the Sanken COS 11D for a lavalier, and an Audio Technica for the shotgun. You should listen for yourselves at a brick and mortar to ensure you are getting the sound you like. And if you order the Sanken, make sure the plug is right for your wireless system, and you can handle phantom power with your rig.

Then you have another higher end wireless options for more professional work. After years of rocking the Sennheiser G2 system, I moved to the Sennheiser AVX system and it integrates perfectly with the CEntrance mixer. I have purchased addition batteries, as depending on the event length, you may burn through them, Always have extras! Yes, it comes with a lav in the kit, so maybe you now have a spare. I’m still in the Sanken camp.

The next step is the mounting to a camera.
I would suggest researching which fits your camera system, and you mic system of choice. I found a half circle solution, but your choice may vary.

Once you have recorded the flat “raw” sound, perhaps a gift of tutorials on basic sound mixing will make your productions gain that extra quality to send it over the top.

 Heck, we go to Dolby movies for a reason, right?

OK, maybe went off on an expensive tangent here, but sound is very important to all of us.

The next Gift Guide will go a little simpler.

And the deals are still coming into my email, so there is still time.

Holiday Gift Guide 2019 #1 !

Black Friday has come and gone, Cyber Monday is in the rearview, Green Monday is a recent memory.

 The deals will continue, however, as there is a shortened shopping season.

So, let’s start with some ideas for your photo video gift giving, or your end of year purchases for you self. Self Santa, as it were.

First up is a product from Peak Design that should be in every photographers check list:

The Tech Pouch has been been one of the best designed travel accessory bags I’ve used in the past year. OK, ever!

With multiple pockets, pouches, and great overall design, this bit of kit will keep all of your cables, cards, readers, adaptors, etc, all in one place, and organized. I even add a little Lexon Bluetooth speaker to get my Spotify playlist going as I prep. and affordable at about $60. USD

Next up is another product from Peak Design, and that is the Everyday Sling 10L.

With a bit of structure, this bag holds just the right amount of gear fro a great walkaround for the street photographer. A couple of design notes that I think are particularly useful, are the zipper opening TO the body, instead of AWAY from the body (more secure), and the battery pouches in the lid. Those even have a discreet color code so you can divide full and used batteries at a glance. I have even put an iPad with keyboard in this. Pencil goes in zipped pouch. Plus straps on the bottom let you carry a travel tripod, or, as i mainly use it for, a compact umbrella! Only $120 at Amazon!

Here is a full link of camera bags that honestly haven’t changed much from last year. You can never have too many camera bags! But you knew that.

For some fun right out of the box:

DJI Osmo Mobile 3, for some smooth smartphone footage. Now that it folds, there is no reason not to have it with you at all times. Others have a bit of an issue with the length. Nice solve, DJI!

Super easy to use, and now you will have those tracking shots you always hoped for.  Perfect for vlogging, This unit will also quickly go from horizontal to vertical for fast social posting. And classic DJI simplicity of operation. Only $120! Check it out-

For the more serious filmmaker, I’d suggest Filmic Pro app as a great addition. DJI has excellent software, but this app is a step above for mobile filmmakers.

Back to DJI, the Action Cam, which is now getting heavily discounted to compete with GoPro is a solid action cam, with a built in FRONT Monitor!!  So, that’s what I look like!

Add on a cage from PGYTECH, an audio adaptor for an external mic, the Rode video micro mic (and you will use this mic on your other cameras, trust me), and you have a portable communication unit in you hand. Uses all GoPro standard mount connectors, so easy to find a variety of mounting options.

Just used this for some 4K slo-mo (8x) on holiday, in the ocean, and the footage was pretty sweet. About $300

This is not a commercial for DJI, but they just make solid products. The Pocket Osmo is an interesting entry, as it’s a one piece, # Axis gimbal camera system, that is tiny. It’s fun, easy to use, and can be operated remotely with an added Bluetooth base. I know , once i had this, I added filters, holders, extension poles, etc,. See how it feels for you and how you use it to know what accessories you may want. Also, about $300 for the basic unit.

For all of the gatherings you will be attending, nothing beats instant photos that can be handed out. Best cameras out there come from Fuji, and the are the Instax series. Covered here before, here is that link again.

One of the biggest surprises for me this year was the HoldFast Moneymaker strap system.

An issue I always had with BlackRapid camera straps was the movement and hang of the cameras when going for a 2 camera shoot, (which is most events). Even when I had a single, I found there to be too much slide on my body.

At PhotoPlus Expo this year, I tried on the HoldFast MoneyMaker strap, and fell in love. The best fit, great design, quality leather build, and it looked good. Highly recommend, just make sure you look at the site and check for the correct size. One size does NOT fit all. And that’s a good thing.

And when you are on the road, in the mountains, are going light, you now have 2 choices to back up your media cards on the trails, without needing a computer.

A name you know and love, LaCie, introduced the Boss recently, and I’ve taken it for a test run. A full review is coming, but this SSD portable back-up system saved me a few times on my past trip. The ability to not need a computer to copy and back-up my media cards, view and edit them with my smartphone if need be. Even copy off to another drive, or flash drive. Sounds simple, but it needs to work and be foolproof.

This comes with all cables needed, even if you use a iPhone, or Android device.

1 TB unit is about $450. on Amazon

Another player in the field is Gnarbox. Now on V2, this does the same actions, and has a more futuristic body covering. At almost twice the price, this is another option for your on the road backup. About $900 at Amazon

For you, or your giftee, this is another tool in the bag that may not bring experience right out of the box, but in use will prove it’s value.

Stay tuned, more holiday gift guide coming!

Yes, a lot of links to Amazon. I do get a tiny bit of you shop through these links. Same price to you. And usually the best price.


Upcoming Events

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  • Feb. 23rd – 27th, 2020
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  • Jan 10th- Feb. 29Th , 2020
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  • p. 212-414-0370
  • Annenberg Space for Photography
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  • 2000 Avenue of the Stars, #10
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  • Getty Center
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  • November 20, 2019 -January 18th, 2020
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  • Peter Fetterman Gallery
  • New York, New York!
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