DIY Video and Photography Projects

S1A1 Single Axis Motion Control Add-on for Shark Video Sliders
September 3, 2015

Here’s a look at the new S1A1 (single axis) Motion Control System that can be added to the iFootage Shark Slider and expand it’s functionality. With the S1A1 Motion Control add-on you can now wireless control the movements of the Shark Slider and also program the system for advanced Time Lapse functions.

To keep this video somewhat short, I’m not going to show you instructions on how to program the S1A1 unit. Instead i’m just showing you some of the features and how it performs. Check out the video below.

At slow speeds the motor is near silent which means you can use it for live interviews without interfering with audio. If you’re looking for that slider shot and work as with a minimal crew, the S1A1 can be programmed to ‘loop’ and will continuously travel back and forth. If you have specific points along the slider that it needs to travel, you can record your movements and play them back to repeat once, or loop infinitely.

For advanced timelapse the S1A1 can be peformed to do a slow crawl, or move at set intervals and exposure times. A wireless receiver can also be used to trigger your camera’s shutter so that it is in sync with the S1A1 System and does not move during your exposure.

The menu is a bit confusing (at least it was for me), but once it’s been explained, it’s pretty easy to navigate. And because that instructional part of the video could be lengthy, i’ll post up a separate video on how to enter those features in to the software. If you’d like to find out more about the Shark Slider and the new S1A1 Motion Control System, please visit (click here).

shark slider motion control motorizeds1a1
Learn-More-sm iFootage Shark Slider + S1A1 Motion Control System

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Azden SGM-250 Shotgun Microphone vs Rode NTG-2 Shotgun Microphone
September 2, 2015

Azden recently reached out to me about their new SGM-250 and SGM-250P Shotgun Microphones. Both microphones are said to be ‘Handcrafted in Japan’ and use the same high quality mic element; the main difference being the SGM-250 runs on battery or phantom power while the SGM-250P runs on phantom power only.

microphones-web-1024x280  sgm-250-acces-edit

Now they’ve done a pretty good job explaining their new product and really dug into the technical specs of their microphones. They also have some excellent video and sound examples placed on a dedicated page found at

I’m not going to do any technical examples, but I did do a simple test that should be fun for you guys to engage with. Azden has designed this microphone to be in the same space as microphones such as the Rode NTG-2 or Sennheiser MKE-600, so here’s a basic example of the SGM-250 compared to the Rode NTG-2 Shotgun microphone.

I thought this would be an interesting test as we all have difference preferences when it comes to sound. Let you guys decide which microphone sounded better, and also to see how many of you can correctly guess which microphone is which. So leave your best guess in the comment section below!

For more information about the Azden SGM-250 and SGM-250P Shotgun microphones, visit their product page (found here).

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Zhiyun Upgraded Z1 Evolution Handheld Gopro Gimbal
September 2, 2015

If you’re not familiar with the Zhiyun Z1 GoPro Gimbals, you can take a look at some previous articles here and here. The New Z1 Evolution GoPro Gimbal is pretty much the same gimbal with the same performance, but they’ve added a few changes to improve over previous models.

One upgrade is the new bracket design that requires only one set of screws regardless if you have the Gopro Bac-Pac or extra battery mounted or not. The second addition is a 1/4″ threaded mount under the handle. This makes it easier to mount to a variety of extension poles, monopods, suction cup car mounts, etc. They’ve also added an AV output for Xiaomi yi action cameras so you can use an external monitor.

z1 gimbal evolution

Z1 Evolution Features:
Power switch on the side of handle.
GoPro chargeable directly from gimbal power
7-12 hours of extended battery life
Optional external Remote Control
1/4inch screw port on the bottom.
Smart design allows mounting camera and back-pac without changing screws.
Adapt to Xiaomi yi camera. Support for Xiaomi yi camera’s AV output.
Four-way joystick,adjust the angle at will.
Special 3.5mm headphone jack to output AV signal for external monitor screen

- Heading Following Mode – Pitch and roll locking, smooth heading rotation that follows the direction of the gimbal handle.
- Heading and Pitch Following Mode – Roll locking , smooth heading and pitch rotation that follows the direction of the gimbal handle.
- Locking Mode – Heading, pitch, and roll locking.

Zhiyun Z1 Evolution GoPro Gimbalz1 evolution gopro gimbal
find-price-button Zhiyun Z1 Evolution 3-Axis Handheld GoPro Gimbal

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Rokinon 85mm T1.5 Cine Lens vs new Rokinon XEEN 85mm T1.5 Cine Prime
September 1, 2015

I just received the new Rokinon XEEN Cinema Prime Lenses this morning. Very smooth focus and iris gears along with nice build quality. Not as heavy as I thought it would be. The 85mm is just a few ounces heavier than Canon’s 85mm F/1.2L II.

Rokinon XEEN Cine Prime Lenses

Since I also have a Rokinon 85mm Cine, I decided to do a quick test. Nothing technical, just a side by side comparison between the common Rokinon 85mm T1.5 Cine Lens (non DS) vs the new Rokinon XEEN 85mm T1.5 Cine Lens. These tests were performed at ISO 800 on the A7RII in SLOG at 1080p.

Under the same conditions the new XEEN lens has better color, contrast, and sharpness. I even tried stopping down the older Rokinon 85mm Cine as it seemed a bit washed out, but it didn’t have much of a difference except to underexpose. I guess this has to be attributed to the new ‘Nano Coatings’ that are highlighted in the new XEEN specs.

Now the only flaw with this test is that my Rokinon 85mm Cine is not the ‘DS version’ which is said to have better coatings than the ‘Non DS’ version of Rokinon Lenses. A true test would be to compare an actual DS version lens to the new XEEN lens. I’m going to try and get my hands on a set of DS version lenses to see how close they are to the XEEN, and if there’s any difference between a DS Lens versus a Non DS Rokinon lens.

85 Cine Lens
Rokinon 85mm T1.5 Cine Lens (non DS)

85 XEEN 1
Rokinon XEEN 85mm T1.5 Cine Prime

85 Cine Lens 2
Rokinon 85mm T1.5 Cine Lens (non DS)

85 XEEN 2
Rokinon XEEN 85mm T1.5 Cine Prime

find-price-button Rokinon 85mm T1.5 Cine Lens (non DS)

xeen 85mm
find-price-button Rokinon 85mm T1.5 XEEN Cinema Prime

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New Atomos Ninja Assassin 4K HDMI Recorder Monitor
September 1, 2015

Can’t afford the Atomos Shogun 4K HDMI Recorder? There’s now a slightly more affordable product recently announced – the Atomos Ninja Assassin 4K HDMI Recorder / Monitor.

atomos ninja assassin 4k recorder

It’s a slightly stripped down version of the Shogun, and the DVEStore has a fun and informative video with Top 10 Reasons why you’ll want your own.

Click through the banner below for more information about the new Ninja Assassin and the differences between the more expensive Atomos Shogun.

Learn-More-sm Atomos Ninja Assassin 4K Recorder / Monitor

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Panasonic V-Log L Gamma Profile Update for GH4 Cameras
September 1, 2015

Looking for more dynamic range and a flatter profile on the Panasonic GH4? The new V-LOG L Gamma Profile Update adds up to 12 stops of Dynamic Range, putting up closer to what you can get with the Canon 5D Mark III, or Canon 1DC, but unfortunately it’s going to cost you $99 bucks to add it.

Vlog Update for GH4 Cameras

Adds V-Log L Gamma Profile to GH4
Wide Dynamic Range of up to 12 Stops
Improved Color Matching with Varicam
Similar Characteristics to Cineon
Same LUT and Curve as Standard V-Log

There’s a bit of a process to update your system, and it looks like the purchase of the VLOG L Gamma Profile is for one camera only. I use the GH4 so often, I guess $99 dollars isn’t a lot to ask, but I do own (3) GH4 cameras which sucks for me. They should have at least come up with some type of ‘bundle discount’ or allow each registered customer to use a serial key more than once.

panasonic GH4 VLOG Update

Oh well, it is what it is. The GH4 has been a reliable camera and i’m most likely going to update all the cameras regardless. The new VLOG L Gamma Profile is available for pre-order now (click here).

Panasonic GH4 V-LOG Update
find-price-button Panasonic V-LOG L Gamma Profile Update

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The new Sony A7RII In Stock
August 31, 2015

I’m sure some of you have already read the reviews, and i’m still working on a short review myself on the Sony A7rII but I can tell you right now this camera is worth every penny. It’s been tough to find and out of stock, but today it’s available via B&H (click here).

I had the opportunity to shoot with the Sony A7RII this weekend, and really put it through a full day of shooting. The 4K video will shut down if you push the recording times past 15 minutes, and then if you keep pushing, the time before it shuts down again gets shorter and shorter.

I was very worried about this, but I really wanted to see how it could hold up and volunteered to shoot a full wedding. As much as possible I left it on the 4K video setting. For most clips I shot no longer than 5-7 minutes, and it worked perfectly all day. Working off a V-Mount battery, I even left the camera running without powering it down most of the day. There were only a few times I switched to 60p for slo-motion, but other than that it was 4K all day.

I used the same Metabones adapter I typically use on my Sony A7s, and even that had absolutely no hiccups with the Canon 24-70mm, 24-105mm, and 70-200mm. I know a lot of people are waiting for the new A7s II, but after a full day shooting I wouldn’t hesitate to sell off my Canon 5DM3 and Sony A7s camera for one of these right now.

The new A7rII is priced higher than an A7s, but there are so many features that make it worth it. First if you want dynamic range, it seems to better than the A7s. If you like shooting with SLOG (especially during the bright day), the A7rII minimum ISO is only 800 while the A7s is at an unmanageable 3200.

The A7RII has IBIS (in body image stabilization) and I no longer have to pick and choose lenses with Image Stabilization. I feel confident throwing anything on and handholding the camera or using a small shoulder rig. The new Sony A7rII also shoots 4K internal to SDXC cards, while the A7s requires you to output via HDMI to an expensive 4K Recorder.

Build quality on the A7RII is also way better than an A7s with a larger hand grip and a very solid hot shoe. The lens mount is also much more solid than on the A7s (no wobble). Don’t get me wrong. It’s not perfect and still has issues like a very short battery life, but for a Sony mirrorless hybrid in this class, it’s the best Sony has ever put out.

Today the Sony A7R II is currently in stock at B&H (click here)
find-price-button Sony A7R II 42MP Camera 4K Recording 5-Axis IBIS


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Quick Tip Pop Up Diffusion for LED Lighting – Use a White Hamper
August 27, 2015

Your LED light kit didn’t come with a softbox? No worries, here’s a quick tip. If you want wide wrap around soft diffusion, try throwing a White Pop-Up Hamper over the LED Panel (don’t try this on lights that get hot!). Doesn’t look professional, but i’ll let the results speak for themselves.

pop up hamper diffusion light led panel
Harsh Shadow no Hamper (left) and Soft Shadow with Hamper on LED Panel (right)

You can see how it really diffuses the light and gets rid of harsh shadows. It’s fairly cheap (compared to a real softbox), easy to travel with, and fast to setup. Not to mention it’s practically a universal fit for most lights. Here’s another example on an F&V K4000 LED light (practically a 1×1 panel) and shooting through the bottom of the hamper by placing it horizontally.

fv4000 hamper over 1x1 led light panel

There are mesh hampers, but I chose the white Nylon fabric type. The Nylon fabric is pretty similar to the ’silk’ you find on a real softbox (normally a ballistic nylon). The spring frame opens up the fabric and holds it a good distance from the light, so good at diffusing. (tip: the further away your light modifier is from the light source, the softer the light). So if you want to play with this idea, here’s the exact ones I purchased a while back and have used them over time.

white pop up hamper
find-price-button Pop-Up Hamper (choose white)

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