June 2017 Newsletter
Is time speeding up or what? Seems like only last September…
Hi all and welcome to our latest newsletter! Apologies for the gap in newsletters...again. Busy Busy
It happened again. As soon as I start to plough my resources into the website, the blog and our YouTube channel, the practical, hands on work gets in the way of the online work.
Thinking the start to the year would be slow, I began planning the way forward with some new projects. Things such as making the Wedding Photography Blueprint 2.0 free to all by revamping it a little. Then adding it to our YouTube Channel and main website bit by bit.
However, just as I was getting into it, and on top of everything else going on, calls and jobs came in. It hasn’t stopped until now (start of May 2017). In fact I only have a week or so before I have more meetings and possibly more work.
Note: I am putting this down to the sheer amount of effort that I put in during the early days of my business in the UK. This is some of the stuff I will be covering in future business videos so make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel.
I have shot promotional videos for a local campsite:
…a shooting school for their huge, international event in June:
…plus a Nordic Walking company and golf course. I have shot numerous properties in and around Weymouth and taught a few one to one courses which have been fab!
I also recently did a "very short notice" video. I received a call at 9pm for a 10am start the next morning. It was for our local helipad/Coastguard which was great fun to do and could lead on to more work in the future.
To cap it all, I have just been asked to do the aerials for a music video being produced by an American promo company. They are coming here next month after sending them a demo reel I quickly put together for them (see below).
I got to meet some wonderful, talented people so far this year and have made a few friends and business contacts along the way. I have also shot a ton of stock photos and video clips. These all now need to be edited and uploaded to various agencies…
I love my job
In fact I was only thinking the other day how
lucky happy I am doing what I do and what I have been doing for around 37 years. Yes, I hit 50 this month. I still get that excited, geeky feeling when I am researching new cameras, equipment, software etc. Then I daydream about what I can do with it that will not only help how I do my job but also make me stand out from my competitors.
More on some of that to come later in the year perhaps. Here are some changes I have made recently.
I still find it hard to believe that after 37 years I still love photography and imaging in general as much as I do.
Lately I have been using any free time to learn new techniques or practice and hone old skills such as time-lapse and hyper-lapse photography. You can see some of my efforts below but I am going to be spending more time in the future trying to perfect these…
The cameras used above were the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and Panasonic GH5. As I mentioned earlier, I have just won this new job helping to film a music video for an American company next month. It is off the back of the video above so it is worth expanding your horizons and practising whenever you can!
Shooting long time lapses can be incredibly boring. Especially in the middle of the night, but I have got to meet some very interesting people whilst doing them as it inevitably attracts attention. I am going to be doing a full tutorial on time lapse and hyper lapse photography soon. Watch out for that…
New Camera Releases
It has been an exciting year so far with regards to
...with many being introduced at NAB 2017. It seems that Moore’s law time period of 18 months has long gone. I can barely turn on my computer these days without some alert of an impending product launch!
…and therein may lie a problem.
It seems to me that major manufacturers like Canon, Nikon, Sony etc are all too keen to capitalise on this surge of interest in the photography world. Maybe they are releasing products that are not quite ready.
The most obvious being the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV which pi**ed a lot of people of with its lacklustre video features. It is almost laughable that they would stifle such an amazing camera for the sake of not wanting to discourage sales of their high end video cameras.
Message to Canon…
Guess what, I have not and have never had any intention of buying your high end video cameras. However, I WAS endeared to your standard EOS range of cameras having owned the D30, 10D, 20D, 40D, 1D Mark II, 1D Mark III, 5D, 5D Mark II and now the 5D Mark IV . Sadly I think you may now have lost me as a future customer for good.
There are a LOT of great cameras out there now…
You seem to be way behind the times with regards to listening to your customers. Don’t get me wrong, the 5D Mark IV is a superb camera and perfect for my stills business (and short video clips). Also, I can live with the 4K video but only as and when I don’t have my other, better equipped video cameras with me (such as my Samsung Galaxy S7 ; )
Why oh why did you not address these video issues? You could simply add focus peaking, zebras, HDMI out for 4K and a codec from this century to go with the amazing dual pixel autofocus? I am pretty sure these additions wouldn’t harm your high end video camera sales…
As I said, I have never bought a high end Canon video camera and most likely never will (although your latest release looks pretty nice : )
There are better options out there these days from companies such as Sony and Panasonic with more to offer (for me anyway).
For example, I recently bought the Panasonic GH5. Whilst it has its own shortcomings such as "hard to work with" autofocus (but which does work if you have the time to figure it out), is an incredible video and stills hybrid camera. I am possibly about to buy another Panasonic “higher end” camera at the end of this year.
The video features it has knocks spots off the 5D Mark IV and a lot of other cameras in this price bracket. The 10-bit, 4K video quality is outstanding AND they took out the low pass filter!
Panasonic could have whinged about the GH5 hurting their high end camera sales but they see right through that old chestnut. They understand that that portion of the market, the higher end users, will still happily pay more for better cameras.
…but I really do love the 5D IV for stills and the video image quality is amazing once you, and if you can be bothered to, work on it. It has already more than paid for itself so not all bad. It was so close to being perfect though…
When it comes to high end video cameras, and if my work heads in the right direction, I would look at the Ursa Mini Pro, Sony FS7 II or the upcoming Panasonic EVA-1...
Update 2021: I bought the Panasonic S1H (STUNNING!)
The GH5 was also released too early but to get around that, Panasonic promised a series of firmware updates throughout 2017. These would add new features and functionality to this already superb camera.
For example, an update this month saw the increase in 1080p video quality to 4:2:2, 10-bit internal recording which is huge. As are the files though. It also added the same to anamorphic recording as well as addressing a couple of minor issues.
Future updates will add more features including a higher quality, 400mbps, ALL-Intra codec to improve the 10-bit video.
Go Pro Karma drone, exploding Samsung Galaxy...too early
Then you had the Go Pro Karma drone which, after a (too) long-awaited release, literally fell out of the sky and had to be recalled. This allowed the DJI Mavic to enter the market (albeit with its own teething problems) and steal the show with a much smaller, put-it-in-your-pocket design and superb video quality.
…and let’s not even go there with exploding Samsung Galaxy devices (which I had on pre-order).
I think that perhaps companies are falling prey to and paying too much attention to "YouTubers" and other reviewers. These people are sometimes too quick to slate cameras for not having exactly what they want.
I can guarantee that a large number of these people, and the numerous commenters that get involved, will never even buy that product. Or at least use it long enough to fully understand the workings (as they desperately try to get their video out before any other ‘Tubers).
Maybe the cynic/conspiracy theorist in me says that many of the commenters are paid trolls from competitor camps?
NAB 2017 at Vegas introduced such a huge and wide variety of beautiful new products it was almost overwhelming. It would be so easy to spend, spend, spend if you were at one of these shows. I myself have to show some restraint when new products are announced. Alas, I have been this way since the age of 13 when it comes to photography gear so I guess I won’t change now : )
New Photo/Video Gear
Some of my camera and video gear is over a decade old and couldn’t produce what I need any more. Because of this, I spent a few months going through everything, selling off some old kit and upgrading/buying new stuff. I still have a 5D Mark II (with around 25,000 shots taken) for sale (£650 UK).
Having used the GH4 for a few years, I was, much like most people with the GH4, looking forward to the new GH5. The heritage of the GH4 and image quality for video meant that I pretty much trusted Panasonic not to disappoint. Therefore, I pre-ordered it as soon as I could.
I was one of the first people to get a copy on release and right off the bat, I was blown away. I have used the GH5 on enough jobs to cover its cost three times over so far. My clients have been more than pleased with the results.
This camera is incredible considering its small form factor and low cost relative to cameras with similar specs. You can see more on the GH5 below including the full review:
I have now used this camera for a good amount of time, as well as using it on professional paid jobs. I can say that it performs incredibly well!
Superb stills with great autofocus using Olympus, Panasonic and Canon glass. Amazing video, super cool slow motion, time lapse and stop motion. Full 4K HDMI out, focus peaking, zebras and so many more features make this a contender for camera of the year I reckon.
I now have a few tripods, all of which I use. I have a really heavy duty Manfrotto, fluid head video tripod which I use for a lot of my jobs (photo and video). It is big, heavy and as steady as a rock for those pro jobs that require it.
I also have a smaller Manfrotto photo tripod for all my stills work (mostly weddings, property shoots, time lapses and so on). Again, this gets heavily used.
I also have two much smaller tripods. One superb Gorilla Pod which gets used for a multitude of things such as positioning Go Pro cameras in crazy places, holding small LED lighting and so on. I also have a teeny, tiny Manfrotto table top tripod which is one of my favourite things. It is so versatile and gets used a lot.
However, on a recent job I shot for video, I simply didn’t have the right tripod that I needed.
I was trekking around the grounds of a large clay pigeon shooting school in Dorset and had a large camera case with me. I thought the huge Manfrotto would suit this job best so I also lugged that thing around…bad move. It was so heavy it became a pain to carry, set up, fold away etc I barely used it in the end.
The other tripods wouldn’t have helped much either so when I got home, I did some research…and bought a new one…and a new video head to go with it.
Sirui seems to be the hardest word
Oh my lovely new Sirui monopod, where have you been all my life?
This isn’t just any monopod with a standard base, this is a super-monopod that is perfect for so many jobs I do and which works perfectly with the GH5 and its dual image stabilisation.
This is the Sirui P-324S Monopod with Stand
I have already used this on a couple of jobs and it is amazing. Especially when coupled with a camera that has decent image stabilisation like the Panasonic GH5 or the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II.
I chose this particular model based on much research and many reviews that I read.
It has the largest spread of its "feet" for a monopod of this type. This means it will actually act like a traditional tripod when required (especially when at its lowest height) for some cameras and situations. However, it folds right down to a standard monopod for super-easy transport...I love it!
It is quick and easy to set up and use and the base has a tilt/swivel feature that is so useful.
I used this for the first time on an ongoing job I have at a local college where I was filming all day with it. I had the GH5 on my new Manfrotto video head and was amazed at how stable the footage I was getting was. It looked as though it was on a standard tripod but had all the benefits of a monopod such as being very flexible in what it can do, easily carried, quick to operate and much lighter.
I could easily do super slow shutter speed photography with this and the GH5’s stabilisation systems…
Anyway, full review here: https://www.all-things-photography.com/tripod-overview-and-review-of-sirui-p-324s-monopod/
Zoom H6 Audio Recorder
As my work now involves a lot more video work, I have been concentrating on my audio a lot more. I am always looking for ways to improve the quality. The Panasonic GH5 was released with a superb audio interface that has 2 XLR inputs and powers directly from the camera. However, I needed a bit more.
Weddings I am shooting this year will need great audio (even as a stills photographer looking for audio for the slideshow) as did the recent shoots at the helipad and shooting school so I started researching for something better suited.
The Zoom H6 has been around for a while now. After comparing this to other models such as the various Tascam’s on offer, I finally opted for the Zoom H6.
This is a wonderful, handy field audio recorder with up to 6 XLR inputs. One for input from the wedding DJ’s mic, one or two lavaliere mics, a shotgun mic and camera based backup Rode VideoMic Pro.
The reason I chose this recorder is that it can also be interfaced through my PC for use with screen recording programs or any other software that requires audio input. Very handy.
Review coming soon.
Rode NTG4+ Mic
When I recently sold my old Sony PMW EX1, I foolishly let my Sony shotgun mic go with it. I say foolishly as it was a great shotgun microphone that produced high quality audio. Still, every cloud has a silver lining as this meant more geeky research for me. Finding the Rode NTG4+ mic was a blessing in disguise.
I won’t go into too much detail as many people here don’t shoot much video. However, the main reason I chose it was because it has an internal, rechargeable battery that lasts for many, many hours. Plus it can work off phantom power (it will draw and use power from the camera).
Guess what…review coming soon ; )
Up until late last year, I was still using two very old camera bags. One smallish sized rucksack from Lowepro and large one from Tamrac. The Lowepro had seen much better days and the Tamrac (Expedition 8 I think it was) had a zipper that was broken in two places. Dangerous for my gear.
Once again, I took to the web and found a great rucksack/bag that loaded from the rear, the bit that goes against your back. The reason this appealed is because of an accident I had last year where I picked up the Lowepro and swung it over my shoulder without checking to see if it was done up. It wasn’t.
Imagine my horror as my lovely £1,800 EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM lens bounced down the concrete esplanade in Weymouth! Along with it, my £550 Panasonic 14-140 lens too.
Then imagine my delight as miraculously, neither lens was damaged except for a dink on each on the lens caps and shades…
This new Lowepro Flipside 400AW allows me to swing the bag round to my front, whilst still attached around my waist, dive in, grab and change lenses and then swing it back around once done. Not for everyone but I like it.
My other new bag was actually a prize from an online store for an honest review I did of the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV…nice and thank you Calumet!
This is now my "go to" bag/case. It is incredibly sturdy, tons of room, and expandable pouch big enough to hold a weekends worth of clothes. It also has the obligatory, and very smooth, rollers for pulling around.
Very happy with this case and I will no doubt review that too.
Ok, I am going to leave it there for now with a promise that I fully intend to do more newsletters in the future.
I am going on a huge road trip next month and would like to do some "newslettery" things whilst I am on it so please let me know the sort of things you are looking to learn or read about in the comments below.
Until next time!