DIY Video and Photography Projects

Varavon Slidecam EX Premium Video Slider with Counterweight Flywheel Pulley System
November 18, 2014


Just received a review unit of the new Varavon Slidecam EX Premium Video Slider that uses a weighted belt driven flywheel pulley to eliminate hard starts, hard stops, and offers consistent motion throughout your slide. Even if you have unsteady hands, it’s pretty hard not to get smooth shots.

A video posted by Emm (@mrcheesycam) on

To be fair, Varavon is not the first to implement such an idea. Other sliders on the market like the Shark Slider or Cinevate’s latest ‘Hedron’ slider are using the same principle. The way Cinevate talks about the function of using a spinning weight with the slider has been described as ‘inertial dampening’.

The spinning weight requires a gradual start and slowly builds up speed, and as you near the end of your movement, the spinning weight has to gradually come to a halt. The spinning weight will also ensure the motion across the slide is fairly consistent. Varavon has taken one it’s higher end ‘EX’ model video sliders and has incorporated this feature. The results are very smooth and I should have something to show towards the end of this week.

varavon slidecam ex premium slider
find-price-button Varavon Slidecam EX Premium

A quick reminder that Varavon’s website pricing changes this Friday. Right now you can save hundreds of dollars off many items listed on their new website. The Birdycam2 3 Axis gimbal is currently discounted -$375 OFF regular price and many of the Armor video cages for the GH4, Sony A7s, BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera are discounted, as well as external battery power solutions to keep your cameras running all day. So before the weekend, make sure to check out the website at Varavon.com for a list of all the current deals.

varavon armor sony a7s varavon birdycam2 gimbal stabilizer varavon wirecam

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Bower 16mm T/2.2 Cine Lens and Vanguard Auctus 323AT Tripod Deal
November 18, 2014


Here’s a couple of eye-catching deals available right now with Instant Savings of up to $200 dollars off. The first of which is the Bower 16mm T/2.2 Cine Lens. As many of you know this is the same as the Rokinon brand lens, but the Bower brand name has knocked off $180 dollars off it’s retail list price now down to just $299. The Cine versions offer built in lens gears and a de-clicked manual aperture ring and is available for various camera mounts including Sony, Canon, Panasonic, Fuji, and more (find it here)

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find-price-button Bower 16mm Prime Cine Lens De-Clicked Aperture

The next instantly discounted item is the Vanguard Auctus 323AT Aluminum Tripod. These legs can be used with your favorite video fluid head, reaches a max height of over 70″ inches, and holds up to 39 pounds of weight. Could even be used as solid support for your sliders. Originally priced at $349, currently discounted an additional -$200 OFF, Now Just $149 (here).

vanguard tripod
find-price-button Vanguard Auctus 323AT Aluminum Tripod

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Homemade Custom Mini Gimbal for Panasonic GH4 or Sony A7s
November 17, 2014


Over on my Instragram feed I posted up a few images of my homemade custom mini gimbal that I use for my Panasonic GH4 camera. A couple of comments on the feed wanted a bit more information, so I thought I would post this to the blog.

A photo posted by Emm (@mrcheesycam) on

I’m constantly tweaking this homemade gimbal, but here’s a video giving you a bit more insight about just how compact the system is and how well it’s been working despite how ugly it looks.

The main part of the gimbal started with this 2 Axis Carbon Fiber Gimbal frame for small cameras. I had to modify it to be a 3 Axis gimbal buying random bits and pieces as well as add the controller and motors.

2 axis gimbal frame
find-price-button 2 Axis Carbon Fiber Gimbal Frame

The controller is the latest Basecam 32 bit board with dual IMU sensors.

32 bit alexmos basecam control board DIY gimbal
find-price-button Basecam 32 Bit Gimbal Control Board Dual IMU

The motors are from DYS which are small but powerful enough for the cameras i’m working with.

cheesycam diy gimbal dys gimbal motorsdys gimbal motors cheesycam homemade gimbal
find-price-button DYS Hollow Shaft Brushless Motors

I also purchased my own wiring, crimped each terminal, and purchased each plastic dupont connector. So unless you have the time and patience, it’s not something you whip up in a few hours. It could take you several days (or months like me).

The PID settings are my own custom configured, which still needs some work. It’s as compact as I can make it while still allowing access to the HDMI output for a monitor, and to quickly change out SDXC cards. The top bar is a #PVGEAR carbon fiber 15mm rail using all quick clamping accessories so that I can take it apart and rebuild it in under a minute. To keep things light i’m using a compact Venom 35C 3S battery to shed weight while giving me ample runtime.

venom 35C 3S battery mini gimbal cheesycam
find-price-button Venom 35C 3S 11V Compact Battery

In the example (below) I was testing the GoPro FLUX (twixtor-ish) fake slo-motion option in the GoPro Studio software. I was literally running behind my daughter and you can see how well the horizon stayed level.

In this next example (below) we decided to take our newly ‘inherited’ dog out for his first Electric Longboard experience.

While it’s certainly not ‘dirt cheap’ to build your own gimbal, I created this for a few personal reasons. Firstly this allowed me to better understand these systems building one from basically scratch. There’s nothing like learning hands on and running into all the problems. Secondly, I wanted something small for the pure convenience of traveling when I want to keep my tools as compact and portable as possible. There was just nothing in the market available for under a few hundred bucks so I figured I would build my own.

For interior shots, the fisheye lens combined with this stabilizer has worked wonders (you Real Estate guys would love it). It’s also perfect for guys who want to use a small stabilizer while inside of a car (drifting, racing?). And just to show you how compact the system is, here’s what the entire system looks like when it’s thrown into a small hard case (including GH4 camera, GH4 Battery Charger, Rokinon Fisheye Lens, and Gimbal Battery Charger). It’s pretty much everything you need when you arrive at your shoot.

custom mini gimbal in hard case

I still don’t consider myself an expert in any way, but I think i’m a little more knowledgeable about how these things work. While I don’t have all the answers, i’ve always been open to try and help with what little experience I have so far. If you have any, leave your comments below.

Oh and just in case any of you want to dive into Electric Skateboards to match up with your Gimbals, i’ve owned quite a few over the last 5 years. Here’s one I recommend for it’s lightweight, long battery life, and inexpensive price.
Yuneec Electric LongBoard
find-price-button Yuneec E-GO Electric Longboard Skateboard

I try to bring my collection of boards wherever I go, and even have one for light off-road use. Here’s a few other examples of these boards in use for either follow shots, or as a replacement track dolly.

A video posted by Michael sato (@satostudios) on

A video posted by Emm (@mrcheesycam) on

A photo posted by Rik Cordero (@rikcordero) on

A photo posted by Emm (@mrcheesycam) on

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Canon 7D Mark II Arrives for a Field Test
November 17, 2014


Today the new Canon EOS 7D Mark II DSLR arrived at the office via B&H for a field test. For shooters looking for the ‘Best Bang for the Buck’ the Canon DSLRs lack many desirable features compared to the GH4 or Sony A7s, but many people will still agree the Canon DSLR color profiles are hard to beat which makes it difficult to move away from.

Yes, there are thousands of people staying busy shooting on Canon DSLRs. For wedding and music videos the 60p slo-mo feature is a must have, but to get that Canon shooters have been stuck with just 720 resolution. The only reason the new Canon 7D Mark II is so interesting today for these shooters is because they finally have the option of true 1080p 60fps. For shooters looking to stay with the Canon color profiles and workflow, the only Canon DSLR(ish) camera to offer 1080/60 is the latest Canon C100 Mark II selling for $5500 dollars. The new Canon 7D Mark II now puts this feature in reach selling for $1800 dollars.

My goal is to put it side by side to the a Canon 5D Mark III 720/60fps (upscaled to 1080) vs Canon 7D Mark II 1080/60fps. Of course when compared to a 5DM3, you do lose that sweet Full Frame sensor. Worth it? We’ll just have to find out after testing it this week. Obviously there seems to be a boat load of shooters working with at least the original Canon C100 so I would have to say this camera could be a perfect compliment.

Canon 7D Mark II
find-price-button Canon EOS 7D Mark II – via B&HPhoto

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CAMETV 7500 with GH4 + Rokinon Fisheye Lens
November 14, 2014


A few weeks ago I showed both the CAME-TV 7800 and only a short glimpse of the 7500. The 7800 is ready to go out of the box, while the 7500 needs a bit of assembly. I finally had time last night to put it together and set it up for my GH4 with Rokinon Fisheye Lens.

A video posted by Emm (@mrcheesycam) on

The camera and lens combo i’m using was too light and didn’t sit far enough forward. I needed to add a QR base plate system to add more weight and allow the camera to be pushed more forward. Because of the plate I had to remove the top bar and relocate the Camera IMU sensor. After recalibrating the sensors and balancing the camera, she seems to be responding really well.

CAME-TV 7800 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizer
find-price-button CAME-TV 3 Axis Gimbal Stabilizers

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DJI Inspire 1 Quadcopter – 4K Video Lightbridge HD Dual Remote Operator Gimbal
November 12, 2014


Whoa. I got news of the latest DJI Inspire 1 Quadcopter and my mind was blown when I read just a few of the specs. DJI is clearly miles ahead when it comes to offering advanced features for consumers looking to jump into aerial filming / photography.

Product Highlights
* Capture 4K Video and 12MP Stills
* 3-Axis Gimbal Stabilizes Camera
* Up to 1.2 Mile Radio Range
* GPS-Based Stabilization System
* Optical Flow Sensor for Indoor Flying
* Works with DJI Lightbridge Ground System
* Live 720p HD Monitoring with Lightbridge
* Retractable Carbon Fiber Arms
* Unobstructed 360° Shooting
* Dual Transmitter Operation Supported

Obviously I have no hands on experience with this thing of beauty so i’ll let you just read the following announcement information.

DJI Inspire 1 Quadcopter

DJI Inspire 1
The Inspire 1 is brand new quadcopter capable of capturing 4K video and transmitting in a HD video signal to multiple devices straight out of the box. With its transforming design, 4K camera integrated with enhanced version of Lightbridge HD downlink, DJI’s most advanced technology comes together in the Inspire 1, create an easy to use, all-in-one flying platform that empowers you to create the unforgettable.

DJI Inspire 1 4k Video

Key Features
Advanced, Ready-to-Fly DesignImagine holding the future in your hands. Designed to be powerful while lightweight, flexible while providing the stability you need, the Inspire 1 is DJI’s most advanced

Aerodynamic, Transforming Design
Carbon fiber arms give you the strength to maneuver in the air, and they transform, moving out of the camera’s way at the flick of a switch. So you now have a full 360⁰ unobstructed view, allowing you to capture shots independent of the direction you are flying.Every part, every component of the Inspire 1 was engineered to be durable and lightweight. The body’s aerodynamic design cuts through the sky and further enhances your control over the aircraft. This ensures long flight times and a long flight life.

powerful remote dji inspire 1

New 4K Camera and Gimbal System
Get crystal clear images with DJI’s most advanced camera to date. The Inspire 1 shoots 4K video at 24-30 fps, or 1080p at 24-60fps, and captures photographs at up to 12 megapixels. The 1/2.3 inch CMOS sensor brings out the best of whatever you’re shooting, and the 94⁰ wide-angle FOV lens allows you to compose your shots perfectly.Holding your camera, DJI’s years of expertise in camera stabilization has been poured into the Inspire 1’s 360⁰, 3-axis rotating gimbal. This ensures your photos and video are clear and stable in almost any filming environment, even when performing daring maneuvers or flying in less-than-ideal conditions.

DJI Inspire Quadcopter Multicopter 4K camera gimbal indoor

Live HD View
A real-time feed from your Inspire 1’s camera is displayed in 720p HD on your mobile device, giving you a perfect view of what the camera sees to setup your shots.This is made possible by the revolutionary DJI Lightbridge system, which can transmit video from up to 2km away.

Powerful Remote Controller
Take absolute control of your Inspire 1 in the air with DJI’s most sophisticated remote controller to date. Featuring dedicated buttons for photo and video capture, a gimbal
control dial, an integrated rechargeable battery and more, it’s easy and intuitive to fly.For an even greater level of precision, use a second remote controller and fly with a friend. With two people controlling the same Inspire 1, one person pilots the flight path while the other aims the gimbal and camera. Each user can have their own screen to see exactly what is being shot in real-time. By working in tandem, you’re capturing shots that are more complex shots and artistic than ever before.

DJI Inspire 1 4k Video

Modular Gimbal and Camera
Inspire 1’s gimbal and camera can be removed from the aircraft for safe transport and future upgrades.

Fly Indoors and Without GPS
Indoor flight has always been a true test of skill for
all levels of pilots. DJI’s new Optical Flow technology uses a specially designed camera as well as sonic waves to bring simplicity to flying indoors. This technology allows the Inspire to hold its location, stop when the controls are released, and respond to your commands even when GPS is unavailable.

Smart Power Management System
A fully integrated smart battery powers your Inspire 1 and virtually manages itself. When in flight, your remaining battery power is shown live, letting you know how long you can continue to fly. Advanced algorithms calculate the distance of your aircraft and estimated time to return home, letting you know when it’s time to come back.The battery tracks the voltage of each cell, the total lifetime charges and discharges, and the overall health and battery status. All this helps you keep your Inspire 1 in the air and flying for years to come.

Full-Featured App
Download the free mobile app to your phone or tablet, and you’ll see what your Inspire 1 sees while taking control of its camera and flight settings.Everything from manual camera controls to flight telemetry and even auto takeoff and landing are just a tap away, with more functions and updates coming soon.

The new DJI Inspire 1 is available with a single remote or dual remotes and you can find more information or order the product (here).

dji_inspire_1_1097629
find-price-button DJI Inspire 1 Quadcopter 4K Video via B&HPhoto

find-price-button DJI Inspire 1 Quadcopter 4K Video via Adorama

[Is it me or does it look like they added Props to the head of a Battle Droid?..]

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Panasonic LX100 Time Lapse American Force Rims BTS Vegas Desert
November 12, 2014


While the guys from SatoStudios setup a shot to catch the sunrise behind some of these trucks sporting American Force rims, I decided to throw the new Panasonic LX100 on the ground and ran the internal Time Lapse setting. Once you end your timelapse, it can automatically create a video file for you. Here’s a sample from the camera.

I’m still lovin’ everything about this camera, features, and quality. Definitely one to have in the bag for the traveler who wants the best photo and video camera in a compact system.

panasonic_lumix_dmc_lx100_digital_camera_1082158
find-price-button Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 – via Adorama

find-price-button Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 – via B&HPhoto
find-price-button Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 – via Amazon

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Adorama NYC Retail Store Black Wednesday Secret Sale Coupon
November 12, 2014


I’m from California and although i’ve ordered products from Adorama, i’ve never set foot in the actual retail store. If you’re out there in NYC (New York), you may want to stop by today between 4pm-10pm for some type of ‘Secret Sale’ event happening.

Adorama Secret Late Night Sale

That’s about all the information I have, but I do know you need a coupon to get in on whatever deals they are offering. You’ll need to DOWNLOAD AND PRINT THIS PDF (or maybe just show it on your iPhone screen?). The coupon is only good in the retail store, not online. Anyways, just thought I would put this information out there for all my NYC homies.

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Seaport Digital Painter’s Pole Adapter for Camera or Accessory Mounting
November 11, 2014


If you want a long pole to boom a microphone, hold a GoPro 10 feet in the air, or hold an LED light above a subject, you can’t beat the simplicity and price a good Painter’s Pole from your local hardware store. All you need is a simple adapter to mount to standard 1/4-20 tripod mounts. The SeaPort Digital Painter’s Pole Adapter is a solid piece of gear that makes this task easy.

Having the Seaport Digital Painter’s Pole Adapter means you can quickly go from a long pole to a short one depending on the mood you’re in. I’ve used adapters like this in the past with 10-15ft Painter Poles and small cameras. Great if you want to get your GoPro HERO4 up high and above the crowds while using the WiFi app to see and control the camera. Use it for Photography Light Painting, or ultimate ‘Selfies’ I won’t judge – that’s your prerogative.

In this old video, I place my Canon S100 up 20′ Feet in the air using a telescoping Unger Pole. If you have clever ideas on how to use Painter Poles, leave some comments. Oh and if you don’t want to look like a budget guy, wrapping it in a fancy textured Carbon Fiber Sticker always helps too.

Endless ideas and fun – find it (here).

painters-pole-adaptersa1501-view-2-2
find-price-button Seaport Digital Painter’s Pole Adapter with 1/4-20 Male Thread

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128GB Sony SDXC Card Just $69 Bucks
November 11, 2014


Thanks to Scott for pointing this amazing deal out. Typically priced around $1/GB this Sony 128GB SDXC card is on sale now for just $69 bucks. That’s just a little over half price off which is a steal on this card. I have several of the 64GB cards which I use to shoot ProRes on the BMPCC (can’t do RAW), so they are decently fast. This just might be what I need to throw in my new Panasonic LX100 to stack up some all day 4K videos. The deal literally ends today in less than 12 hours so (FIND IT HERE).

Sony 128GB SDXC Card
find-price-button Sony 128GB SDXC Card

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40% OFF Switronix PocketBase for the Pocket Cinema Camera
November 11, 2014


Still looking for a power solution to run your BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera? Here’s a deal on the Switronix Pocketbase that uses two Canon LP-E6 batteries to give you hours of run time. Ok, so I do own this product and I wasn’t an overall fan of paying $150+ dollars (kit with batteries), but if you knock off 40% then I guess there’s not much to complain about.

dvestore sale pocketbase

Starting today here’s a special deal to get 40% off the listed price from a few different PocketBase bundles. Head on over to to the DVEStore.com website and use promo code: PB40 during your checkout to get 40% off (click here)

hands-on-whitePBASE-on-rails
PBASE-product-photo-set_21
find-price-button 40% OFF Switronix Blackmagic PocketBase External Battery Power – use Promo Code PB40

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DIY Retractable Compact Camera Holster Hand Held Stabilizer
November 10, 2014


When i’m traveling, i’m always carrying some type of compact camera with me. Whether this be a GoPro, a Sony RX100, Fuji X100s, or my latest favorite the Panasonic Lumix LX100.

The one thing I’m not a fan of is trying to find a pocket to place them, or having to wear camera straps. I decided that a camera holster would be ideal, but wanted to make sure I never left my camera behind on a table. So here’s a little DIY idea I had, and managed to work with a local machine shop to get it made.


[video shot with iPhone 6 + audio recorded with Aspen Mics HQ-SPK to iPhone 5]

The camera actually ‘docks’ into a special belt hoster, but for safety (in case you miss your dock) there’s an attaching rope. The rope works with a retractable coil that has enough force to prevent the Panasonic Lumix LX100 from hitting the ground (which is far heavier than a Sony RX100 or Gopro). If that’s not enough, the rope is made from heavy duty Kevlar that is incredibly durable from wear and tear. Don’t believe me? Check out this video (here).

With the strong pull-force of the coil it actually makes hand-held shooting more stable as it appears to add more weight or mass to the camera. Using a string to stabilize a camera is not a new concept, but what those other products lacked was a way to actually dock and hang the camera safely. This prototype unit has an integrated dock that locks the camera from falling as you walk or run.

The retractable cord is not just all show, it’s functional as well as it helps guide the camera dock back into the cartridge. Without this you would have to turn your head to line up the camera dock. The pull-force literally pulls the camera towards the dock and with practice you can reattach your camera while blindfolded.

It’s faster than any Rapid Strap, more compact, and will not swing around as you bend over. Of course right now it’s only designed for small cameras, but that makes it perfect for my travels. It’s not an actual product, but if there’s interest from the community i’m sure something will come out of it. What do you guys think about something like this? Leave a comment below.

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New Varavon Storefront Grand Opening – Lower Prices Ends Nov 21st
November 10, 2014


Big big news! Varavon has completely redesigned their main website with a new storefront, and to celebrate the official launch they are offering huge price drops on their most popular items! Exciting times to grab yourself some high quality manufactured gear, but the bad news is that you got just until Nov 21st.

Here’s just a few examples of what you guys are probably interested in the most. If you were ever on the fence about the popular Birdycam2 3-Axis Gimbal Stabilizer, this first time ever price drop goes from $2375 down to just $1999 (click here).

Varavon Birdycam2 Gimbal Birdycam 3 Axis Stabilizer
find-price-button Varavon Birdycam2 3-Axis Folding Gimbal Stabilizer

If you’re not familiar with the Varavon Armor Cages, they are machined from a single block of metal. Amazing build quality and design. Their entire Varavon Armor Cage series for the BlackMagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera (BMPCC), Panasonic GH4, and Sony A7s drops from $$350 down to as low as $200 dollars (found here).

Varavon Armor Cage GH4 Sony A7s BMPCC
find-price-button Varavon Armor Cage Series for GH4, BMPCC, Sony A7s

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Aspen Mics HQ-S Lav Mic Sound Tests via thePodcastersStudio.com
November 10, 2014


Still haven’t found a good affordable LAV Mic to improve the audio in your videos? A few weeks ago I shared some information about the AspenMics lavaliers, and i’m not the only to say it’s great sound for the money. Here’s another recent review from Ray Ortega of ThePodcastersStudio.com testing out the $50 dollar AspenMics HQ-S LAV mics recorded to an Edirol portable audio recorder, and a few other samples using his iPhone as a portable Audio Recorder.

You can read his entire written review along with more information over on his website ThePodcastersStudio.com.

AspenMics.com offers affordable yet high quality lav microphones which are perfect for budget videographers, and you can check out the entire product line of different Lav mics at http://aspenmics.com.

aspen mics hq-s stereo mono sennheiser iphone android lav mic
find-price-button AspenMics – Affordable High Quality Stereo Mono Lav Microphones

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Big Balance Gimbals – PhotoPLus Expo 2014
November 9, 2014


Big Balance is a company that has been showing off a few gimbals over the last few years, but until now the products have not been available for purchase. While i’m not sure when these products will be ‘officially’ available, they continue to show off a few new additions at the recent 2014 PhotoPlus Expo.


via YouTube Rik Cordero

If I would have to choose one i’m most interested in, it would be the Gibbon pistol grip style 2-Axis Gimbal for cameras like the GH4. With the newly developed dual handle addition, the Gibbon becomes a full 3-Axis stabilizer offering much more stability when walking or running. Many of the products shown in the video aren’t yet available on the website, but there is additional information on other products over at the main website at http://bigbalance.com

GORILLA-560X380-PRODUCT-PAGE-SHOT02
find-price-button Big Balance Gimbal Stabilizers

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Tascam DR-70D Audio Recorder w Stereo Mics 4 XLR Inputs
November 5, 2014


Simple add-on for better sound. @tascam #DR70D #GH4 Slim w/ 4 XLR inputs. Can be mounted top or bottom.

A photo posted by Emm (@mrcheesycam) on

The Tascam DR-70D is designed to compete with the Zoom H6 and includes new features such as 4 channel recording with independent level adjustment, 2 built-in mics on the front and 4 XLR combo inputs with phantom power, stereo 1/8″ input with plug-in power and more. Slimmer than the Tascam DR-60D, two built in stereo microphones to act as a stand alone recorder, and now with 4 XLR inputs – it’s the perfect bolt on audio solution for DSLR cameras. Can be mounted to the bottom of the camera, or mounted to the top via shoe mount, or above a cage.

I want to say that Adorama is the first to get this product in stock, is listed at $399 $299 and offers FREE OVERNIGHT SHIPPING. I literally got this product Next Day FREE after placing my order. If you’ve borrowed someone’s DR-60D, then you’ll be sold on the DR-70D. Check it out below

DR-70D_p_user-700x319
find-price-button Tascam DR-70D

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