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.

Pre Gift Guide: Black Friday/Cyber Monday Photo-Video Deals

We all have year end buy targets for what we love, and tools we need. I know some things I usually look for are deals on media cards, SSD drives, bags, maybe some glass, and usually something that may just be for fun, but may spark some new ideas.

As i said, will be adding new Black Friday ads when they come in.

Some pretty sweet camera bags from Peak Design, one of my daily go to bags. From the Messenger to the Sling, these are part of my life. And brand new ones, that are unfortunately not on sale.

Before going through the multiple days of the annual Holiday Gift Guide, you have a little more time to shop before year end, and just want to share some Black Friday/ Black Week/Cyber Monday links that may be of interest to you.

BTW, this years gift guide will have some real world reviews after using products for a year, and what may be worth your investment.

So……..

First up is a software package you probably use everyday, Adobe Creative Cloud. At a 40% discount til 11/29, you may want jump on this. Honestly ,don’t use it all of the apps, but use enough to make it the best investment for your workflow

Then here are some great brands with deals this week:

Lume Cube– small powerful LED lighting system, also has deals today. Good news is that it’s also new product, not just clearing old stock.

Adorama– you know, you love em.

B&H Photo/Video – they have the goods as well!

MagMod Light Modifiers – Silicon, magnetically connect, nice soft light

Tether Tools – 2 main things here- all of your tethering needs from stands, tables and cables, and a must have is the Case Relay Power System. 1st stop for all tethering good.

And of course Best Buy, Amazon (have found good deals on card readers, sometimes media cards, hard drive, minor accessories for mobile vlogging), MACSales for, well you know, MAC stuff. And RAID drives, refurbished computers. Sometimes NewEgg for your computing needs as well. Manfrotto, who has been scooping up so many companies, will be having deals on a lot of the brands that they own.

DJI is having a great sale on a few items, although some are discontinued items. Most times, the biggest deals aren’t on the latest gear, but this one has ActionCam, which I love, and some Mavic-ness, although the new Mavic-Mini (not on sale) seems to get in under FAA regs, weight wise, so could be useful.

I’ll keep adding as I see them, and the holiday gift guides are forthcoming!

Best Choices For Instant Prints – 2019

OK, I usually post the holiday gift guide closer to Turkey day, and the flurry of Black Friday offers.

I just wanted to share this list now as it’s a product line that you want to take to all of the parties and gatherings leading up to that.

Instant prints. As old as the first Polaroid by Dr. Land. He’s gone, it’s gone, and I have fond memories of those products.

Oh sure, you can share your digital images all of the place, but nothing replaces the feeling of having the photo in your hand. And having it with reliability.

Fuji has now come in and, I feel, own the category. The range of products that they have, with all of the connectivity, gives you a huge range of choices on how to share. .

You can have a range of print sizes, from an Ultra Wide to a square, or the compact mini. And the devices you can get can with be a camera that prints solution, or a printer that connects to your smart phone ( or BT enables camera) to print right from the photos you take on them.

I started with the Mini InStax, and it looked cool, although I sometimes had to adjust the flash with a piece of tissue to blunt the intensity.

Then I moved to the Square unit, that also allowed me to preview the exposure AND save the image onto a removable Micro SD card. Some folks feel that it’s really a digital camera that prints. I disagree, and use it as an instant print camera. The micro sd just gives me a copy of the image. Larger image than the mini.

Up next is the LiPlay. Now this camera is small, has great exposure options, some fun filters, and even allows you to put an audio clip on the photo. How? It lets you record a 10sec message, and then prints a QR code onto the image, which the viewer can scan and hear.

The newest addition is now in my bag at all times. It’s Mini Link printer. Period. Compact, connects easily to your smartphone, prints multiple copies of one image if desired, and also has cool filters. I did want o be able to use it with my other Fuji cameras, and needed to disconnect from the phone to pair it with the X-T3, for instance. Perfect for the parties, walkaround, and any kind of sharing. Have a look at some of the features. Super good.

Yes, there is the ultra wide, and honestly I bought one of the years ago, in it’s 1st iteration. Loved the size of the prints, not as much the lack of control of exposure. New one is much better

So there you have it: Fuji has the best reliable cameras out there for sharing your digital photos, IRL. I use them, and love them. Yes, I’m a huge instant photo nerd. Still have a some of Fuji peel apart instant film, used with my 4 Leaf adapted Polaroid 110B. But that s a story for another day

Buy the instax film in bulk on black Friday and give your friends and family something they will keep and maybe get some fridge love. Or desk love.

I promise to send out the black friday deals on that. Amazon is usually great for that. Only watch out is expiration dates.

One more note: I have seen most of the other options out there. Not impressed. Kodak is introducing a Zink camera/printer that has promise, but 1st gen, exposure was an issue, and form factor is a bit odd. I know that Impossible Project is no longer impossible, but the cost of the film is out of wack. Perhaps when that calms down, it will be a more level playing field.

The Weight Is Over : Nikon Adds DX Mirrorless To The Line-up

sorry about the pun. But it’s true.

Nikon has heard loud and clear from their customer base that they need a good reason to upgrade from their smartphone.

Here you go. The New Nikon Z50! A well priced , about $850 body only, this DX option to give you the high quality Nikkor lens designs, in a small form factor. And that entry level price is just right.

Before we go into the company PR release. a little bit about my experience with the Z series. For years I was all Nikon. Love the glass, love the ergonomics. The load was heavy and I switched. To Mirrorless. Sure, Medium format comes in when needed, but needed to get my back some relief.

Then Nikon intro’d the Z7. Let’s be honest, my old glass did fit but the classics like 70-200 was a beast on that body. Then one day, I was out still shooting the Z7 for a tech event, when I found myself at Webster Hall seeing a pop singer that was so sugary, I couldn’t stay for the whole set.

I did however, shoot some images with the Nikon Z7 that was in my bag. I wasn’t Super close, but the images i was able to make, even with a crop, were amazing! The quality of the full frame sensor held so beautifully, that I almost questioned my previous choices.

It does all come down to the right tool for the right job. I believe no one system will do everything you need. I will say though, when you prep for a gig, you know which gear you will grab first, that will never fail you, that is a total extension of you.

I shoot on the street, at events, concerts, and yes, happy snaps as well. Use a diff camera for each.

This weekend, I’m shooting my daughters very small wedding. Pretty much parents only. What am I taking? I’ll let you know when I do the final pack!

MELVILLE, NY (October 10, 2019 at 12:01 A.M. EDT) – Today, Nikon Inc. announced the next Z series mirrorless camera, the DX-format Nikon Z 50, along with two new companion NIKKOR Z lenses, the NIKKOR Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR and NIKKOR Z DX 50-250mm f/4.5-6.3 VR. The new Nikon Z 50 takes full advantage of Nikon’s larger Z mount, providing creators of all types with the most innovative optical system for superior image and video quality. The compact and lightweight Nikon Z 50 was made for unique individuals seeking a camera that has the speed, portability and style to keep pace and share their creative storytelling and imagination, especially when paired with the new ultra-compact 16-50mm zoom and the slim 50-250mm telephoto zoom lenses.

“The new Nikon Z 50 is a small yet capable camera that brings the best of the Nikon Z series to all kinds of creators to discover, share and engage,” said Jay Vannatter, Executive Vice President, Nikon Inc. “The new NIKKOR Z DX lenses expands the Nikon Z series to provide new creative tools for those looking to take their photo and video passions to new heights.” 

When a sudden case of jet-set wanderlust strikes, or if there’s an idea that just has to be shared in 4K video, the Nikon Z 50 is the unobtrusive companion that promises to help deliver content that truly stands out. This is Nikon’s first DX-format mirrorless camera, delivering a more compact lightweight system to those upgrading to mirrorless or discovering the Nikon Z mount system. The new Z 50 offers an ergonomic design, intuitive operability and the steadfast reliability Nikon is known for, but in a slimmer, lightweight and attainable body. Taking advantage of the Nikon Z mount, the Z 50 produces stunning image quality and provides optimal performance for any type of content creation, from still photography to high-quality 4K video.

SMALL ON SIZE, BIG ON FUN: The easy-to-carry, compact and lightweight 12.9-oz body of the Nikon Z 50 is designed with intuitive controls and an agile yet durable magnesium alloy frame. It’s effortless to carry while vlogging a vacation, hiking the backcountry or exploring a new part of town. Since it’s mirrorless, users can activate the silent shutter function for truly low-profile shooting in sensitive situations.    

TELL YOUR STORY, BEAUTIFULLY: A DX-format 20.9-megapixel CMOS sensor delivers superior image quality, sharpness, color and tones to document it all, even in low light. The EXPEED 6 image-processing engine helps to achieve excellent low-light performance and the highest standard sensitivity in its class1 for still-image shooting – ISO 51,200– so users can capture high-resolution photos in challenging lighting conditions, like concerts or night street photography.

HIGH-SPEED PERFORMANCE: The camera quickly locks focus with a 209-point Hybrid AF System that enables broad coverage of approximately 87% of the frame horizontally and 85% vertically. It’s also the first Nikon DX-format camera to employ Eye-Detection AF, which makes portrait photography simple by recognizing and instantly focusing on a subject’s eyes, even if they are moving. What’s more, with fast 11 fps (with AF/AE) continuous shooting, users can keep up with fleeting moments and never miss a moment of the action.

FLIP-DOWN SELFIE SCREEN: The Nikon Z 50 features an easy to use interface with a 3.2-inch flip-down LCD touchscreen that’s ideal for selfies and vlogging. The LCD features familiar soft keys and icons, while intuitive controls make storytelling simple. Selfie Mode automatically disables all but essential controls while the LCD is flipped down, which makes it easy for the photographer to turn the camera on themselves and capture flattering photos and videos without worry of accidentally changing settings.

Not sure about this. Flip DOWN?

EPIC VIDEO FEATURES AND NEW CREATIVE OPTIONS: Sharp, vibrant 4K video is just the beginning – Experience built in 120p slow-motion, time-lapse and interval timer as well as in-camera video trimming and 20 Creative Picture Controls. These Creative Picture Controls and Special Effect modes instantly transform an image or video footage, while Scene Modes automatically adjust settings to optimize performance for beginners. For smooth footage, the camera also incorporates additional built in stabilization while shooting Full HD or 4K video.

SHARE BETTER CONTENT, INSTANTLY: Built-in Wi-Fi® and Bluetooth connectivity along with support for the new SnapBridge2 version 2.6 app allows users to seamlessly share still images and videos with friends, families and followers. In addition to automatically sending gorgeous images to one’s phone, users now also have the ability to easily transfer video to their smart device quickly. The latest version of SnapBridge also supports RAW image transfer and advanced remote capture functions.    

THE NIKKOR Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR & NIKKOR Z DX 50-250mm f/4.5-6.3 VR – NEXT GENERATION DX-FORMAT NIKKOR LENSES

The new NIKKOR Z DX 16-50mm standard zoom and the NIKKOR Z DX 50-250mm telephoto zoom lenses are designed to complement the new Z 50, striking the balance of small size and sharp optics. The NIKKOR Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR lens is a slim zoom lens that lets users capture a wide variety of scenes, from beautiful landscapes to candid portraits. The compact telephoto NIKKOR Z DX 50-250mm f/4.5-6.3 VR lens allows anyone to go the extra distance and capture far-away subjects, like city skylines or birds in flight. When paired with the new lenses, Dual Detect Optical VR is enabled on the Z 50 to help control the effects of camera shake when shooting.

Both the new NIKKOR Z DX lenses unleash the potential of the Nikon Z mount, using the superior design flexibility made possible by the large-diameter and the 16mm flange focal distance to deliver outstanding optical performance and sharpness in a deceptively compact form factor.

In addition to achieving incredible image quality, the new NIKKOR Z DX lensesare optimizedfor video capture when paired with the Z 50, making them must-haves for emerging content creators. Both lenses promise reduced focus breathing, a customizable control ring for smooth control of aperture or exposure compensation, as well as fast and quiet operation. Additionally, the new lenses offer in-lens optical Vibration Reduction (VR) technology to allow for smooth recording, with camera shake compensation equivalent to 4.5 stops3 and 5.0 stops3, respectively.

Beyond these two new lenses, Nikon Z 50 users can enjoy greater variety in imaging expression by mounting any of the current lenses in the NIKKOR Z lineup. A vast selection of traditional F-Mount NIKKOR lenses is also available to shooters via the Mount Adapter FTZ, with many lenses retaining functions such as VR and AF.

Price and Availability

The Nikon Z 50 will be available in November 2019, in several configurations including body-only for a suggested retail price (SRP) of $859.95*, a one-lens kit with the NIKKOR Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR lens for a SRP of $999.95* or a two-lens kit with both the NIKKOR Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR and NIKKOR Z DX 50-250mm f/4.5-6.3 VR lenses for a SRP of $1349.95.

For more information on the latest Nikon products, including the new Nikon Z 50, NIKKOR Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR, NIKKOR Z DX 50-250mm f/4.5-6.3 VR and the full Nikon Z mount system, please visit www.nikonusa.com.