New Year, New Media Cards – Time To Upgrade!

You got the new camera body, and now all of your media card collections may not be completely usable.

If you are shooting large files and/or video, you definitely need to change it up, and upgrade. Speed is the name of the game.

Kinda why you changed to the new cameras, correct?

Before you consider your options, remember that we have gone from CF cards, in the beginning of digital to SD UHS-I cards, to UHS-II cards, and all of the capacity and speeds that those cards could be manufactured with.
Now, after trying a few other formats for high speed (like the failed XQD format), high capacity media card, the imaging industry seems to have come to the conclusion that CFExpress cards are what we need.

Have to agree.
To take advantage of the newer video capabilities and 40MP plus stills files, you need a media card that can handle it.
Here is a size comparison:

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My Perfect Traveling Podcasting Set-up

Sure, I have a rig at home that serves me well, and during the pandemic became my weekly go to.
Now that I’m on the road more, I needed a more portable set-up and here is where I landed.
And why.

The Mainstay is the Zoom PodTrak P4

With the capability of 4 mics, a jingle pad, ability to do remote interview via phone, sweet pre-amps AND battery powered, it is the jam.
Most of the time I will use 2 mics
If in someone’s office, I use the Shure SM58s and 2 Manfrotto PIXI tripods, along with 3.5 mm headphones. The high quality, and yes affordability of the mics, make it the go-to.
The tripods, and I’ve tried a bunch, are the perfect size and height. I do add the mic holders.

Now the Zoom PodTrak P4 has one drawback as it doesn’t have a ¼-20 tripod socket
So, I use a phone holder with a tripod hole, and add another Manfrotto Pixi tripod to give me good eyeline and access to the mixer

The earphones are the inexpensive kind I buy in minor bulk, so interviewees can keep them.

In my office, I use Sony 7056, but on the move, prefer a less intrusive set.

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Fuji Introduced New Camera Bodies This Year: How I Chose the One to Purchase!

It was a great problem to have this year: Updated cameras, and a few great choices in the X-T5 and the H2/H2s

Before I let you know what I bought, and why, let’s rewind to why I went with Fuji to begin with:

After a lifetime of being a Nikon photographer, starting with a Nikkormat, I have used Nikon on assignments and when it was film, it was a F3, FM, and always a back-up totally mechanical classic F in the bag (as insurance, cashed that policy only once, and worth it!)

Then I went into the digital realm all the way up to Nikon D810.

There was a point that having 2-3 camera bodies, the holy trinity of lenses (14-24, 24-70, 70-200, all f/2.8 plus a 20mm), speedlight, batteries for all, etc., etc. my backpack was getting heavy!
Sure, the ThinkTank Airport Roller was/is a great carrier, but many events I would photograph made a roller a non-option. Some places even went so far as to ban roller bags!
Time to lighten the load.

I researched mirrorless, and tried the Sony NEX. Added a Leica lens, and it was fine. But not as practical as I wanted. And the available lens range at that time wasn’t robust.
A documentary photographer I respect recommended the Fuji line -up.
Started with the X-T1, and I was all in. The ergonomic design and the analog feel to the Shutter Speed/ISO/and f/stop spoke volumes to me as I didn’t have to dig into digital menus to set my camera.

Plus, Fuji was the first company I saw that would do firmware updates to the bodies and lenses on a fairly regular basis, eliminating the need to upgrade the camera, and simply update the firmware. Other camera companies did start to follow suit later. Smart move.
Plus, I got back into shooting primes, which was a great discipline to re-discover.The Fuji glass is high quality and love em.

Fast forward to my going with Fuji all the way up to the X-T4.

Yes, I earlier picked up the H1 as the IBIS in the body was a great upgrade. Although the analog controls were eliminated.

So, when the H2/H2s bodies were announced, myself, like all fuji shooters, were asking “Where is the X-T5, and will it have some of the same features?”

Some points-

Yes, and no on the features. Yes, to the 40MP sensor as in the H2, (updated as well)
No, different video capabilities. No battery grip possible on the X-T5. That alone started me thinking about the audience for the X-T series.
Tilt screen on X-T5, Fully Articulated on H series
Good news is that the battery for the last X-T4 is the same for either of these
H2 series, def a little heavier, with a deeper grip as well.

Another main difference are the media cards. Remember when we went from CF to SD? the SD UHS-I, and UHS-II?
Well now that you are asking a camera to shoot large files, Stills and Video, you need a card that can keep up with it, and that is a CF Express card.

I know: who wants to start investing into new media cards? You have to evolve.
I was shooting the US Open in Aug/Sept and the speed I needed to fire off the camera to nail the shot was def hampered by the speed of my cards.

OK, this is where I started to peel off from the X series for the next purchase.

The H2 has much more versatile options for stills and video, as in what kind of files you can save, like RAW and ProRes.
You can record to and external unit, like an Atomos V, with 12-bit files
If you are shooting for long takes or continuous, like an interview, you can get a fan that screws into the H2 body.
One hot tip is if you move the LCD screen away from that back of the camera body, you are removing n big heat source
Full size HDMI port as well.
You can pixel shift on the H2 with an ability to create a file 4 times the sensor pixel size.

And one the biggest point for me, was future proofing. There is a grip available for either the H2 or H2s, that will be incorporating a new feature called Cam-to-Cloud
Currently on the timeline as on the H2s first.
What is it?
Basically, with the grip added, the higher end wi-fi will be able to transfer one camera or multiple cameras images to a folder in the cloud as they are shot. This grip is called the FT-XH File Transmitter Grip

Even if you run out of battery, or turn the camera off, the upload will continue once you get power and turn the camera on again
Imagine you are shooting an event, get back to your studio or hotel, and have to ingest all of your media cars to even begin to edit.
With this system, you can start your edit immediately.
Or perhaps you have 5 photogs covering the same event. If they all have this system, all of their images/video are uploaded to a folder and whomever is doing the edit can begin while photogs are packing up. Actually, way before that.

A system developed between Adobe and Frame IO, I have seen it in action, and it works.
They are still tweaking it, and not supposed to launch till Spring 2023 and only for the H2s to begin with, although the same higher end wi-fi grip will also fit the H2.

Now the Fuji system taught me the best ways to assign functions to buttons on the camera based on how I shoot, and where my fingers sit.

And didn’t love a couple of button placements on the H2, so assigned those a different function based on my use.

Onto the image quality: The X-T5 and the H2 have the same sensor so not a big diff.

The mechanical shutter on the H2 can shoot up to 1000 raw files in continuous mode as opposed to about 20 in the X-T5
This is a huge diff for me, and also where the CFExpress B card comes in. If you want the speed, you need media cards that can handle it.

This year, I shout the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade with the H2, Last year it was the X-T4
Def saw the difference, especially when I wanted to crop.

Straight RAW files out of the cameras had more depth than the X-T4, and made a difference.

So, you can guess which camera I went by now.

The Fujifilm H2. May add the H2s, and the grip.

Very happy with the purchase, and if you are looking for your year-end gear purchase
I highly recommend this camera.

BTW, there are some lenses out, and I’m working a bit with the 30mm Macro, as we all need a macro, right?

In case you are wondering, I do still have the D810, and all of the NIKKOR lenses, which I sometimes add to the mix with a Fringer adaptor. But rare.


A couple of closing notes: There are a few top level camera systems available to you.

I went with Fuji based on my needs and the way I shoot. To shift systems is a huge expense, and I considered it all carefully. Very carefully.

I imagine you will as well.


Holiday Gift Guide #4 – Audio!

Ok, let’s talk about audio.
You know that it’s 50% of your content, unless it’s bad. Then it’s 80%

Yes, this list hasn’t changed a lot from last year, except for one big addition:

As I’ve gone more mobile, my podcast choices for audio have changed, primarily on the portable mixer. Yes, the Sound Devices MixPre 3II is amazing, but the Zoom PodTrak P4 has so many great needed features, that I’m going to a single post on my fave mobile set-up with choices.

And when you want to go more mobile, and connect directly into your camera ,  or to a portable mixer the Rode Wireless Go II. With a receiver and 2 wireless mics, you can quickly hook up your subjects for an interview situation. In NYC, I’ve seen the local news station using these as they cover the local beat.

Another solid choice is the Deity Duo,

looking like many mini mics on the market, but this one has another trick up it’s sleeve: you can either have it just forward facing, OR have it pick up from behind as well, so you can capture the interviewers questions as well.


And if you can sit down with your subject, get a couple of the classic Shure SM58

Add in 2 Manfrotto PIXI tripods, best solution I’ve found and your set. When you buy the Shure mics, you’ll get the mic holder you need. What i like about this tripod is the height it sets the mic at. Perfect!

Let’s go more pro, if you want to get some of the best:
Sennheiser receiver/ transmitter system has been in my kit for years,

For lav mic I prefer the Tram tr50

or the Sanken COS 11-D

It’s funny, as i think the Tram is more popular on the west coast, and the Sanken on the east coast.
If you live in a major metropolitan city, like AL, Chicago or NYC, I would suggest going into a local vendor to actually hear the mics to make your best choices

If you are going into podcasting world in a studio or stationary place, a perfect mic is the
Shure SM7B

Couple it with the best headphones Sony MD 7506, around $90
Yep, that good for the best price. Nice and flat so you can mix as you like. Get one for each of your guests

what do you plug into for your podcast?
If you are going to be stationary, I’m partial to the Rodecaster Pro.

Yes, there is a newer version, but the original still does everything i need and more. Plus they do firmware updates, so a great unit at a reduced price.

which mixes, records, and exports to my fave podcasting platform, Anchor. Once you export to this , it will send your podcast to all the majors.

If you are on the move, and really only have need for no more than 3 mics, the MixPre 3II is a great choice, with a small form factor and high end pre-amps,

plus support with upgrades to the firmware when needed. While I love this mixer, I use jingle pads (added sound buttons) on all podcasts, so it does require editing and mixing after a recording. Super high quality, however.

Pack all of that into an Orca bag , that you can get from 16×9 suppliers. Your size needs will vary, so choose the bag based on the gear you’ll transport and use.

More guides coming!!

Holiday Gift Guide #3 – Phone Stuff!

The phone as a camera has taken over any need for a point and shoot camera. The camera brands have known this for years. The improvements keep on coming, and you just have to make sure you are charged up ALL THE TIME!

As we all start to become one with wireless charging, the options are pretty darn massive!

I will say that MagSafe has been a game changer, where a magnet in a phone and/or a phone case will connect your phone to the charger in just the right place to charge.
I have run through a few charging mats or circles that you have to be quite specific in where the phone is placed, so you don’t end up with a dead phone, thinking you had charged it enough.
At least with MagSafe, the phone locks onto the proper place, so charging can begin in earnest.

Here are some tested chargers, that you may want to add to the gifting list.

Twelve South The HiRise 3

Built in watch charger with the ability to use a bracelet type of band, Charger area for the phone that magsafe, and a useable angle.
The feet are grippy, and I will admit, when I first started to us it, it was way too slippery.

Till I took off the clear plastic and the feet were able to grip the surface. And they are non stick!
Even on wood there are no marks. Of course, like most, you charge your airpods on the base as well

Then we have the Mophie.

More angle choices for the phone, the watch charger is not included, but if you have a watch, IOS or Android you must have a charger cable, somewhere, right?

Weighted base so you can be secure in moving the phone around to get the optimum angle.

Looks great in black.

One thing that irks me a little is that both of the above chargers need an additional item to work, or to work fully: The HiRise needs a USB adaptor to plug in to the wall.
The Zagg needs a watch charging cable. Now I had an extra charger block for the HiRise, and had a watch charger from previous chargers.
I like them both for different reasons, but wish they put everything you need in the box.

And since you will probably be entertaining more this holiday season, your guests may need a charge.
The best looking, and functional one I have seen is made by Zens.

With a clear surface so you can see all of the charging elements, it matches form and function.

2 phones can go in it, and there are tiny LED lights in the back, so you know it’s charging!
It can take a watch charger, but if this is primarily for guests, they probably won’t need to charge their watch

For Travel,  it’s the mophie 3-in-1 for the win.

Quality product with a lot of power, especially for the phones (yep, the like a more powerful charger)

When I’m on the road, I don’t want to take a chance of waking up in the hotel room and having a dead phone. Or watch.

Plus, it looks deluxe, and works the same.

On cases, I’d recco a simple case from Speck. After trying a few, the speck has a great selection and have no issues on wireless charging.

Many times, there are sellers with knock-off cases right outside Apple store. Great prices but, if you’re going to buy, I’d try it out by going back into the Apple store to make sure it charges.

And a surprise for me this year, is this product from Zagg: Gear4 Ring Snap 360

For the folks who are, or were, hooked on pop sockets, and since the pop socket interferes with wireless charging, this item is perfect:

Magnetic, so it connects securely to your phone through a case, and the inner ring allow you to use it as a kick stand, horizontal or vertical, with enough stiffness to support the phone.

And the best part is that you can remove it simply from the phone for charging. Best phone accessory stocking stuffer!

There you have it! Sure, many choices out there and more coming next year!

Stay tuned for the next Holiday Gift Guide!



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