Photography & Cinematography tips, DIY videos & more!

22Apr The Ultimate DSLR External Battery Solution


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Want to make it for yourself? 

Click here to buy the External Battery
Click here to buy the Dummy Battery (5d, 7d, 70d etc.)
Click here to buy the Dummy Battery (t2i, t3i, t4i etc.)
Click here to buy the Cheeseplate
Click here to buy the Coldshoe Adapter
Click here to buy the Adhesive Velcro
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Over the last 4 or so years that I’ve been recording on Canon DSLR’s, i’ve been on the hunt for a way to increase the dismal battery life of the cameras. Using LP-E6 or LP-E8 Batteries, I can barely get 1 hour of run time while shooting video.

That is until now! And it couldn’t be better!

What I did was purchase an XTPower 10000mah external battery on Amazon, which has both 12v and 9v outputs. Canon DSLR’s generally need around 7-8v’s power, so this works perfectly.

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Next, you need a dummy battery (also called a coupler) that goes in your camera and connects to the Anker. Here’s links for dummy batteries for the 5d, 70d, 7d and also for the t4i, t3i and t2i. You may also need a cheap connection plug (5.5mm x 2.1mm) to connect the battery cable to the dummy battery, you can buy them here.

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The external battery also includes a dc cable that will connect to the dummy battery, so that’s it. You now have yourself a BEAST of an external battery.

I’ve done some tests using this battery and the run time is well above 8 hours of battery life.

Stay tuned for a new blog post where I’ll give some tips on how to mount this battery on your camera or rig.

Products Used:

26Nov Download Technicolor Cinestyle

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01Nov Dolica AX620B100 Tripod Review

Click here to buy the Dolica Ax620b100 Tripod

If you’ve been following my blog lately, you’ll know that I recently reviewed my favourite travel tripod (the velbon ultra maxi L) which I’m incredibly happy with. It’s lightweight, versatile and quick to set up.

I’ve now found what I believe to be the best cheap tripod that you can buy for under $50, the Dolica AX620b100. Now don’t let the word ‘cheap’ fool you, this tripod is built well!

I bought the tripod off amazon after reading the reviews (there were a lot) and I’ve found it to be a real find. It’s got some nice flip lock legs, a good metal ball head and it’s pretty light to travel with.

Anyway, the best way to find out more about this is to watch my full video review, or check out the other reviews on amazon :)

05Oct Hide your mic with the Rode Invisilav

Click here to buy the Rode Invisilav

I’ve always been a big advocate for using lavaliere microphones. I find them convenient, easy to use and they always produce great sound. One thing I’ve never really liked is having them in shot.

Over the years I’ve tried different ways to hide them, including a cheap DIY way using velcro (see the video I made here), but it seems that I now have found my solution.

I got in a set of Rode Invisilavs (the 3 pack). They’re essentially a piece of moulded rubber, which allows for you to insert 2 lav mics and connect it to your skin under your shirt. It works great.

As you can see in the video above you can’t see the invisilav when you’ve got it on, something I love. The tape that comes with it sticks fantastically, but it absolutely sucks trying to get it on! I’d recommend getting some cheap wig tape to stick it on, works better and is much easier to get it on and off.

One more thing, the Sennheiser G3 Lav mics which I and a lot of others use does fit with the invisilav. A tight squeeze, but fantastic news!

27Sep Cheap video monopod with feet

I’ve been a big fan of monopods with feet ever since I tried one out in NY at B&H a few years ago. There are quite a few options out there for them, including a few from manfrotto which seem to be the most popular, as well as some new offerings from Benro. They all have pretty similar features: twist lock legs and 3 feet.

Unfortunately they’re all pretty expensive. In fact it seems that adding a set of feet really increases the price quite a lot.

Until now, I found a fantastic video monopod which looks like it’ll do the job just as well. As you can see in the video above, it looks pretty similar to the manfrotto and bento monopods, but comes in at less than half the price of either of them.

Throw a video fluid head on it and I think you’ve got yourself a great package.

You can find this cheap monopod on Amazon or on eBay.

26Sep My favorite Tripod (Velbon Ultra Maxi L Review)

If you’ve been watching my videos for a while, you’ll know that I tend to go on about my Velbon Ultra Maxi tripod a lot.

I love this thing!

For me it’s been a game changer. I never think anymore that I don’t want to take a tripod because it’s too heavy or too bulky. The Velbon tripod is incredibly light, small and quick to get set up.

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Have a look at the video above to see just how quickly the twist lock legs can go up and go down.

I’ve paired it up with an awesome fluid video head from Velbon (FHD 52Q) as well. It’s not super heavy duty, but works just fine for a dslr or micro four thirds camera.

Guys I can’t recommend this tripod enough, go out and buy one if you’re in the market for a lightweight tripod.

:) Chris

26Sep Cheap, good quality ball heads

If you’re looking for a good quality, budget friends ball head for your photography gear, I think I’ve found a winner.

This ball head comes under a few different names (as many photography things do). These include Manbily (i think a take on Manfrotto) and XCSource.

They’re great quality, all metal construction, and come in very cheap. If you’re lucky you can find these for under $20.

These are perfect for sliders by the way as well.

26Sep Awesome SD Card Sale on now [DEAL]

 

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If you’re in the market for some new storage for you cameras, Amazon is having a pretty good deal on a range of SD cards at the moment.

I think they’re getting rid of some old stock, which will be making way for this years models, but you can definitely get some great deals on what I think are still good items.

For me the Sandisk Ultra SD card has always worked great for me. It might not be as fast as some of the extreme cards, but it runs perfectly in my DSLR’s for both stills and photos.

If you are shooting in higher bit rates, you can check out the Extreme range of SD Cards which are also on sale as well.

 

 

22Sep Cheap iPhone Tripod Mounts

Click here to buy the cheap iPhone tripod mount

One thing that I always bring along with me in my camera bag are these cheap iPhone Tripod mounts. They’re essentially a spring loaded clamp that lets you connect your iPhone to a regular tripod or monopod.

I’ve used them a lot lately, especially for taking time lapses, because they’re just so small and convenient. I’ve always got my iPhone with me so it’s easy just to bring the mount as well.

I highly recommend them, but make sure you get a good quality one. I’ve had a few break on me in the past.

This is the one I use currently.

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find-price-button iPhone Tripod Mount

 

18Sep Fotga Fader ND Review

Click here to buy the Fotga Fader ND (and read the reviews)

I’ve been using the Fotga Fader ND for a while now, and it has turned out to be a fantastic piece of kit for sunny days, especially for the price.What the Fader ND does, is allow you to adjust the amount of light that comes into your lens by simply turning the filter.

This can come in handy on sunny days while filming, especially if you want to shoot at a wide aperture.Using this Fader ND means that you can continue shooting at the correct shutter speed, but also keeping that shallow depth of field.

The Fotga Fader ND (also goes under the name NEEWER), is one of the cheapest that you can get on the market, but as you can see in the video above, it actually works quite well. It does lose a little bit of sharpness when using a tele lens, but overall i’m very happy with it and can recommend it for someone looking to get a new fader nd.

If you want to purchase it, you can click here (amazon).

16Sep Canon 70D Autofocus performance in Low Light

I tested out the Canon 70D in low light on my holiday in Spain and I’ve got to say it performed fantastically. It really is fantastic, especially paired up with the 18-135mm STM lens which i’ve been testing out lately.

I’ve always found that the best autofocus test is while in low light and i’m happy that the 70d still worked great. I used both spot focus (where I pointed on the lcd touch screen) and also face tracking and they both worked great.

I’ll be releasing a new video in the next few days about the low light performance in general.

Click here to see the current price of the 70d

And click here to see the current price of the 18-135mm STM lens

21Aug Sennheiser G3 Wireless Lavalier Review

Click here to see the price of the Sennheiser G3 Lavalier mic set

I’ve been using these Sennheiser G3 wireless lavaliers for 3 or 4 years now and I can’t recommend them enough.

They consistently perform flawlessly, which makes recording audio so much easier. As I often am a one man band, setting up a lav mic on someone is just a lot easier, and stress free, than having a separate boom operator.

They’ve also held up well, even after years of throwing them around.

Check out the video above for a little tip I give on keeping the cables safe.

 

12Aug What’s in My Camera Bag – Travel Edition

Camera Bodies
• Canon 70D
• Canon XA10

Lenses
• Canon 18-135 STM
• Sigma 30mm 1.4

Filters
• Fader ND
• UV Filters

Monopods
• Velbon Ultrastick

Tripods
• Velbon Ultra Maxi L

Batteries
• EzoPower 10000mah Battery
• 70D Batteries
• XA10 Batteries

Microphones
• Sennheiser EW100 G3 Wireless Lavalier
• Audio Technica AT2020 USB
• Rode Videomic Pro

Data Storage
• Lacie Rugged Firewire

Computer
• Macbook Air

 Miscellaneous
• iPhone Tripod Mount
• Transcend 520 JetDrive
• Apple TV
• HotShoe Extension Bar

05Aug Download the Canon EOS Utility Software without the CD

EOS_Logo

The EOS Solutions disc that comes with every Canon DSLR contains a useful suite of tools.

Click below to download the Canon EOS Utility Software. 

Select your Camera Model:

Canon 1D X
Canon 5D Mark III, Mark II

Canon 70D
Canon 7D
Canon 60D
Canon 6D
Canon Rebel Series (T2i, T3i, T4i)
Canon SL1

28May Rode SmartLav Lav Mic

Click here to buy the Rode SmartLav. 

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I just got in the new Rode SmartLav and I love it! This little guy will travel with me everywhere from now on.

The Rode SmartLav is a lavalier microphone that is specifically made to be plugged into your iPhone (or Android) and will allow you to get really good quality audio.

As you’ll see in the video above, it’s not completely perfect, there is a little bit of hiss, but for the cheap price, this really is a great mic.

Check out my video review above and if you want to pick one up, they’re on sale for 13% off at the moment.

23May My Camera Backpack

Click here to buy the CaseLogic Backpack.

I’ve been using this CaseLogic SLRC-206 backpack for around 3 years now and to the day it’s still my favourite backpack for my DSLR camera and equipment.

The bag has held up really well, even with a lot of international travel over the years which I think is a testament to the good design of it.

What I love about this bag is that it does feel relatively compact as you can see on the video when I put it on, but it also stores a tonne of gear, including 2 camera bodies (or one dslr and a video camera), multiple lenses, audio gear, tripod and a laptop.

Definitely recommend this one!

19May Cheap Quick Release Plates

Buy the cheap quick release plates here

Over the years I’ve used a number of different quick release plates, from Manfrotto to Velbon. I’ve found that for something that is relatively small, they really are quite expensive. The Manfrotto 577 Plate costs about $50 at B&H.

So I’ve been using these cheap quick release plates for all of my equipment now for quite some time now.

You can pick them up online from about $11 for a set which is really affordable, and this allows you to use them on each of your cameras and equipment.

For instance, I use them them on my tripods, monopods, shoulder rigs and sliders.

They really are super useful and now, super cheap!

 

13May My favourite Interview/Handheld Microphone

Buy the microphone here

I’ve been using the Electro Voice RE50B for quite some time now, about 4 years I think. Since then it’s been used a lot and still is standing strong. This thing is tough!

If you’re looking for a reporters/handheld microphone for interviews, I really can’t recommend this microphone enough. I really love the sound that it produces. In the video above you can hear the difference from my $600 Sennheiser G3 Lav to the Electro Voice, it really is a smoother sound.

The mic is an industry standard across most news networks in the States, here in Australia and in many other countries, and you can see why. It’s tough, has a built in wind filter, little to no handling noise and most importantly it has an awesome sound!

Read the reviews on B&H or Amazon (http://amzn.to/1kVnMV6) and you’ll see just how good a rap this mic gets.

10May Want a travel monopod? This is the one for you!

As you probably know already, I use monopods a lot, often as quick and portable alternative to tripods. My favourite lightweight tripod is the Velbon UltraStick R50 monopod. It’s super lightweight, portable and it has one of the most ingenious locking systems I’ve seen.

I’ve been using it for nearly 2 years now and definitely feel that’s it’s also going to hold up against the abuse of a travel tripod.

Velbon also make a lighter version called the UltraStick L50, which is also a great alternative as it’s also cheaper.

Buy the monopods here

09May This Is the Best USB Voice Over Microphone

Click here to buy the Audio Technica AT2020USB Mic

Voice over microphones are super important for production, as a lot of the time, the majority of your vocals will actually be VO. I’ve used a number of different VO mics, including the Rode Podcaster (which I wasn’t super impressed with), but I’ve got to say that the Audio Technica AT2020USB mic is the best Ive come across.

The Mic is really well built, it’s got a really good amount of weight to it and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to break any time soon.

One of the best things about this mic (other than it’s fantastic sound) is the ease of use when setting it up. I literally just plugged it into my macbook and it worked, as simple as that. It really is a lot easier than dealing with XLR cables and mixers when you want a quick and easy set up.

So that’s that, you can pick this microphone up super cheap at Amazon, and from now on will have beautiful voice over sound!

07May Hot Shoe Extension Bar, you need one of these!

Click here to buy the Hot Shoe Extension bar

I’ve been using Hot Shoe Extension bars for a while now, because they’re amazing! They give you the ability to add a lot more things to you camera, which can really come in handy often when you’re using your dslr.

These cheap extension bars allow you to add pretty much whatever you want to the top of your dslr. For instance you could add a shotgun mic, flash, led video light, external audio recorder or even a wireless mic set.

I highly recommend them!

03May Using a Monopod as a boom pole!


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Want to make it for yourself? 

• Click here to buy the monopod
• Click here to buy the hot shoe tripod adapter
• Click here to buy the videomic pro
• Click here to buy the 3m cable
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I’ve recently come up with this idea on how to make an affordable, lightweight and small boom pole out of a product most of us having lying around.

A monopod!

Monopods can be bought incredibly cheap off Amazon, sometimes only around $15, and as you will see in my upcoming video, they can be transformed into a very usable boom pole as well.

All you need is the monopod itself, a hot shoe tripod adapter and a shotgun mic (I recommend the Videomic Pro from Rode to keep it portable) and you have yourself one awesome little travel boom pole!

You might also want an extension cable to connect it to your external recording device or camera. The 3 meter one from Rode does the job perfectly.

02May The Best CHEAP Tripod Bag

I’ve been using this fantastic 100cm tripod bag that I bought off Amazon for a while now. Before this, I always found it a little bit difficult travelling with all of my long camera equipment. This included things like my boom poles, tripods, sliders, monopods etc.

It can be a little bit difficult to keep all of this equipment together as well, as bags of this size and shape aren’t super common or super cheap. So once I picked up this bag I was really happy and not looking back.

This bag will also fit in a few light stands as well!

If you’d like to pick it up, you can purchase it here on Amazon.

 

01May Use Lens Pouches to protect your lenses

Looking after your lenses is critical for DSLR shooting. If you scratch your lenses, there’s nothing you can do about it other than buy new lenses. So today I’ve got a tip on how to look after your lenses.

What I do to protect my lenses is to store them in lens pouches. These neoprene cases, which you can purchase on Amazon for only a few dollars, do a fantastic job at protecting your lenses from dust and scratches. Add that to my CaseLogic backpack and you have a very solid and protective case.

I’ve made a video to show you how I do this above.

01May Tip: Use Step Up Rings On Your Lenses

Step Up rings are a fantastic way to accommodate one filter on multiple different lenses. They are a metallic ring, which allow you to use larger filters on your smaller lenses.

A good way to use step up rings is when you only have one filter (say a variable nd) and you want to use it on multiple lenses. This not only saves you owning multiple lenses, it also saves you money.

You can buy sets of step up rings for cheap online, and these will allow you to add your filters to all of your lenses.

Definitely a recommended tip!

01May The best eBay monopod!

Watch my review of this $60 monopod that I found on Amazon. It is just such a great find!

I really think this $60 Video Monopod is as good, if not better than the Manfrotto Video Monopod or Benro Video Monopod. It’s incredibly well built, and also has fantastic twist locks. It’s alloy body is really lightweight, but the 15kg weight limit really allows you to load up your rig when you’re on the move.

I bought the video monopod with feet off Amazon, but you can also find it on eBay.

01May How to hide a lavalier microphone with Velcro!

I’ve come up with this idea that seems to work fantastically to hide a lavaliere microphone!

As you can see in the video above, I use a few pieces of adhesive velcro to attach my Sennheiser g3 wireless mic system to my skin.

This works fantastically as the velcro adds a layer of protection to protect against that horrible clothing rustle noise.

Really does work fantastically, and I’m very happy with the results especially after not having a great time with the Rycote Undercovers (read my review here).

01May Rycote Undercovers Review

I’ve been using these Rycote Undercovers for a while now. The main idea with the Rycote Undercovers, is to protect your lavaliere from wind noise, hide the lavalier under your clothes and to also protect the mic from clothing rustle.

Do they work?

Well in some ways yes. The sticky 3M backing thats on the under covers works well, and has a strong hold for one time.

The real let down though with these under covers is the felt material on top of them. It is too small and not made well enough, so it does produce a lot of clothing noise.

I use the Sennheiser g3 wireless mic system and i find the mic capsule to be too big to work well with these.

Overall, i was a little disappointed, and probably wouldn’t be buying them again.

23Apr Editing Video Off A USB 3.0 Flash Thumb Drive

I’ve been using thunderbolt and firewire external hard drives to edit off for a while now. Although they generally have a lot of storage space, and ‘ok’ speed (firewire->thunderbolt generally tops out at 60mbps), I have had too many die on me to place all of my trust in them.

So since then I have been looking to move to solid state storage.

There are a number of firewire or thunderbolt SSD hard drives on the market, including some from LaCie, but these are incredibly expensive for really quite small amounts of storage space.

So I turned my attention towards storing and editing, off usb thumb drives. A little crazy? Well, it works!

I did a bit of research and found that the fastest and best performing USB 3.0 thumb drive is the Sandisk Extreme 64gb flash drive. It performs both read AND write at about 180mbps. So I picked one of these up.

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The verdict? It’s AMAZING. The speed of this thumb drive is through the roof, and because it has no moving parts, it is much less susceptible to being damaged by knocks.

Is 64gb big enough? Well we’ll see. For the majority of video work that I do, the projects don’t generally reach 64gb for approximately 5 minutes of video so for me it seems perfect. For larger projects I’m going to be looking into getting a PNY Turbo High Performance USB 3.0 Thumbdrive. It’s speeds are a little slower than the Sandisk, but it’s much cheaper and packs 128gb of space, huge!

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So that’s that. For the majority of my edits when I’m out on the road I’ll be editing off a usb thumb drive.