DIY Video and Photography Projects

Quick Tip: Organizing and Managing Rechargeable Batteries
July 17, 2015

Do you have a pile of rechargeable batteries? As simple as this tip is, I find it incredibly useful for managing my rechargeable batteries. One problem I have is ‘how to quickly determine’ the amount of charge is left on a pile of batteries I have thrown together. Normally before I work on a project, I find myself just throwing them on the chargers overnight. This is a waste of time, wasted energy, and also uses up the cycles on your batteries. By organizing them in cases, and adding a quick sheet of two sided colored paper, now I’m feeling a lot more organized and can manage my batteries better.

These rechargeable batteries I have should hold an 85% charge even after sitting on the shelf for one full year. Now once they are charged up, I can place them on the shelf and pick them out as needed. When we’re out in the field, it’s easy to determine which is charged and which needs to be charged when we return. If you want to add a piece of colored paper to , you can just cut an index card and use colored markers.

These AA / AAA / 9V Battery cases were provide courtesy of (found here).

find-price-button AA / AAA / 9V Battery Safety Travel Plastic Hard Cases


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Varavon Sony A7s Armor II Cage External T-Power Batter and Varavon Armor Shogun Cage
July 15, 2015

Optimizing the Sony A7s camera for best performance means working with an external battery because the stock internal batteries suck. Getting the best means adding a 4K HDMI recorder like the Atomos Shogun, because it can’t record it’s highest quality internally.

sony a7s camera kit
find-price-button Sony A7s Camera
Atomos shogun recorder
find-price-button Atomos Shogun 4K

To run a camera system with these add-ons, you’ll need a cage system for mounting these accessories. While there are many options for putting a kit together, in this video we’ll be taking a look at the Varavon Sony A7s Armor II Cage, Varavon T-Power A7s Battery Kit, and Varavon Armor Shogun Cage.

The Sony A7s Armor II Cage features a Top Handle, Audio and HDMI Locks, Leather Hand Strap, cold shoe mount, (3) 15mm Rod Clamps, (1) 15mm Carbon Rod, and several threaded mounting points. For more information on this kit, visit the product page (here).

Sony A7s Armor II Cage Varavon
find-price-button Varavon Armor II Cage for the Sony A7s

The Varavon Armor for Atomos Shogun features a one piece cage design, HDMI locks, XLR audio shock protection, threaded mounts, rubber dampers, and optional battery or solid state drive brackets. For information about the Varavon Armor cage for Atomos Shogun visit the product page (here).

Varavon Armor Atomos Shogun
find-price-button Varavon Armor Cage for Atomos Shogun Monitor Recorder

The Varavon A7s external Battery Kit comes with a High Capacity Cell, A7s Battery Coupler, 2.1-5.5 Cable, and Charging Adapter. This battery hit will allow the Sony A7s to run more than 4 times longer than standard sony batteries. For more info visit the product page (here).

Sony A7s Battery Kit T-Power Varavon
find-price-button Varavon High Capacity Sony A7s Battery Kit

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Sony ECM-AW4 Bluetooth Wireless Microphone System DEAL
July 14, 2015

The ECM-AW4 Bluetooth Wireless Microphone System from Sony is a complete battery-powered Bluetooth wireless microphone system. It plugs into virtually any kind of video camera, DSLR, or recording device that features a 3.5mm mini-jack microphone input, and has a talk-back function that allows the camera operator to communicate clearly with the subject. The mic has a range of up to 150 feet.

sony bluetooth mic sony bluetooth microphone system

This mic system allows a subject and a device operator to communicate, eliminating the need for a separate intercom system. In this way the camera operator can act as a director, giving direction or suggesting interview questions to the onscreen talent, even if they are out of ear shot. A 3.5mm headphone jack is provided on both the transmitter and the receiver to facilitate this feature.

For mounting or wearing the microphone and receiver, a belt clip and an arm band are included. The arm band enables you to attach the transmitter to a subject that is wearing clothing that cannot accommodate a belt clip. An included carrying pouch will help to protect the transmitter.

Sony ECM-AW4 Bluetooth Wireless Microphone SystemSony WIreless Mic Deal
Learn-More-sm Sony ECM-AW4 Bluetooth Wireless Microphone System


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CAME-TV CAME-SINGLE RAW Uncut Unedited Footage
July 13, 2015

People have been asking to see some video footage from the CAME-SINGLE, and so I thought I’d throw something up. It’s not pretty, but that’s exactly what I was going for in this example. Here you’ve got over 4 minutes of Raw footage, uncut, unedited, no slow motion, and no image stabilization. I’ve also included a BTS video showing the gimbal in use.

Single handed gimbals are great, but this means you have to be extra careful as well. Two handed operation will always allow you to be more stable. So in my setup i’ve added a 15mm rod adapter under the handle, a 15mm rod horizontally, and two 15mm handles.

Even though i’ve added extra handles, there’s several instances to which the gimbal was in extreme angles (low mode) and time where I only operated with one handle. The gimbal still performed pretty darn good. For those who are familiar with using alexmos gimbals, you’ll notice there are no ‘twitches’, ‘micro jitters’, and the horizon (roll) did not drift. It stayed level after the entire time even after panning, tilting, and low mode shooting.

In any case, hopefully this footage has been helpful. The CAME-TV CAME-SINGLE gimbal can be found at their website (found here).

find-price-button CAME-TV CAME-SINGLE 32 Bit Gimbal with Encoders

A few people have asked, so here’s the basic setup I used for my handles. First, I attached a Pico Plate under the handle, and this lets me attach a 15mm Rod.

kamerar pico plate

I used PVGear 10″ Carbon Fiber Rod (super lightweight).

And finally I was able to my 15mm Handles to each side.
smallrig 15mm handles came-single gimbal

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CAME-TV CAME-SINGLE + PilotFly H1 + NEBULA 4000 Comparisons
July 10, 2015

Here’s a video going over some of the feature of the new CAME-TV CAME-SINGLE, PilotFly H1+, and Nebula 4000 3-Axis Gimbal Stabilizers. Let me start by letting you know there are no sample videos from these gimbals. So you don’t have to waste your time here.

At this time, I see no reason making a comparison video for each one since each of these are very capable of providing very stable footage. It depends highly on your camera + lens choice, PID tuning, and balance. So regardless which gimbal you choose, you can technically end up with similar results. In this video i’m mainly going over the design and features of the CAME-SINGLE and PilotFly H1+.

Starting with the NEBULA 4000, it’s definitely outdated compared to the other two and not as easy to balance. But if you’re on a tight budget, the Nebula 4000 has gone down in price and many used systems for auction (here).

If you’re looking for something more current, and running the latest gimbal software, your best bet would probably be between the PilotFly H1+ and CAME-SINGLE, so let’s first go over some of the similarities.

pilotfly h1 vs came-tv came-single came single gimbal

Gimbal Controller
Both gimbals are running 32 Bit Dual IMUs and full 3-axis stabilization. Both offer an On/OFF button and a separate button for you to change modes / profiles. You can customize your profiles through the Basecam software.

Accessory Mounts
Both the PilotFly H1+ and CAME-SINGLE have a threaded mount under the handle for you to attach the system to a monopod, which is handy when getting elevated shots. The H1+ has a single 1/4″ thread while the CAME-SINGLE has both a 1/4″ and 3/8″. The CAME-SINGLE also has one more 1/4″ thread on the side of the handle for mounting an additional accessory such as a monitor.

Travel Case
The Pilotfly H1 comes with a soft custom foam cut case. The CAME-SINGLE comes with a medium sized custom foam cut Hard Case.

Physical Size
Comparing the physical size of the gimbal frame, the CAME-SINGLE is capable of supporting larger cameras than the H1. So if you have a compact camera, the Pilotfly H1+ looks like a great option. If you want to play around with different camera and lens combinations, the CAME-SINGLE would be more flexible. The CAME-TV is about 14 ounces heavier than the PilotFly H1+.

CAME-SINGLE (left) vs PilotFly H1+ (right)
CAME-SINGLE GH4 A7s Gimbal PilotFly H1 Gimbal GH4

CAME-SINGLE Gimbal PilotFly H1 Gimbal

Inverted Mode
The PilotFly can be used ‘inverted’ (upside down), while the CAME-SINGLE cannot be used inverted. The handle must remain below the gimbal frame.

PID Tuning
The PilotFly has Bluetooth built in so you can change the PID wirelessly with an Android device. The CAME-SINGLE does not have bluetooth, and needs to be reprogrammed using a USB cable to a computer or Windows Tablet.

Balancing Adjustments
The PilotFly H1+ requires a hex tool to make adjustments while balancing, while the CAME-SINGLE is completely tool-less and also offers a quick-release camera plate.

Battery Power
The PilotFly H1+ has an internal rechargeable battery which should be fine if you don’t need to fly all day and have the down-time to recharge. This could be a problem if you can’t afford to set the H1 aside to recharge during the day. The CAME-SINGLE uses (2) 18650 rechargeable batteries, and allows you to swap them out as needed so you have no limitations. The system comes with (4) batteries so you’ll already have one spare set.

Joystick Controls
The PilotFly H1+ only offers a Single-Axis Joystick so you can only control one axis (Pitch, Roll, Yaw) at a time. The CAME-SINGLE offers a Two-Axis Joystick so you can choose to control two different axis (Pan + Tilt, Tilt + Roll, Pan + Roll, etc.).

Brushless Motors
The CAME-SINGLE has encoders built in with the motors. This is similar to how the DJI Ronin tracks it’s motor positions. This feature is new in 2015 for Alexmos based gimbals, and the CAME-SINGLE has this already built in. The ability to quickly change camera position on the CAME-SINGLE can be handy in the field, especially when you need to adjust your horizon. To adjust the horizon on the H1 would take a bit more effort. The software for gimbals with encoders could only get better for more stable systems. Since the PilotFly H1+ does not have encoders built in, future firmware improvements cannot be applied to the H1+.

My Thoughts
Overall the CAME-SINGLE has more advantages except for the fact that it’s 14 ounces heavier, and cannot travel as compact as the PilotFly H1+. Essentially you can achieve similar results between both. For those working with smaller and lighter camera setups, the H1+ may be more appealing. Keep in mind that smaller setups can be used with either system, if you don’t mind the size difference. Larger camera setups should definitely look more towards the CAME-SINGLE.

CAME-TV CAME-SINGLE 32 Bit Dual IMU Gimbal w/ Encoders
PilotFly H1+ 32 Bit Dual IMU Gimbal




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FotoDiox Sharkcage for BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Cameras
July 8, 2015

FotoDiox Sharcage for BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Cameras

Fotodiox might be best known for making just adapters to mate just about any lens to any camera body. They also offer a nice line of LED lighting products, and camera accessories. This year at NAB 2015, they’ve expanded their products to include a line of ‘Sharkcage’ Camera Cages. Here’s a look at the FotoDiox Shark Cage for the BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera.

At NAB2015, they mentioned they will have cages available for cameras like the Canon DSLR, BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Cameras, Samsung NX1, Panasonic GH4, and Sony A7s. The BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera Sharkcage is available now, and other cages shown will be available at the FotoDiox website (here).

fotodiox sharkcage shark cage blackmagic pocket cinema camera
find-price-button FotoDiox Sharkcage for BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Cameras

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Volta Dual Battery Charger with Interchangeable Battery Plates
July 6, 2015

If you’re like me you probably have a half dozen different battery types hanging around. Having so many different cameras and different accessories adds up to a mess of battery chargers. So here’s an unboxing of the Volta Dual Battery Charger which not only can charge two batteries but can also charge different types of batteries simply by swapping the charging plates.

Quick Overview
The Volta Dual Battery Charger features interchangeable battery plates, an LCD display, and it has smart charging capabilities.

Interchangable battery plates make this charger a perfect solution for charging many types of li-ion batteries for both video cameras and DSLRs. The unit also has a USB input on its side, so you can charge a mobile device at the same time.

The charger will auto-detect the battery voltage to prevent overcharging, and a backlit LCD display shows you the current charge status. You also have the ability for a high current charging mode that will charge your batteries faster, helping to ensure that you are never stranded with a dead battery.

A few years back, there was a few other brand dual chargers with interchangeable plates such as the Pearstone. That has since been discontinued. You may still be able to find the Watson Dual Battery Charger, but that will start at around $80 Dollars (found here).

That’s what makes the new Volta Dual Battery Charging system interesting as it starts at just $35 Dollars from the reputable F&V Light company (found here)..

volta battery charger sony npf canon nikonVolta dual battery charger
find-price-button Volta Dual Battery Charging System with Interchangeable Charging Plates

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CAME-MINI2 Gimbal Update with Roll Motor Protection Clamp
July 6, 2015

The new CAME-TV CAME-MINI2 Gimbal seems to be getting very positive reviews, but the one issue people may have had to worry about was internal wires tangling up on the Roll motor. So to prevent this problem, CAME-TV has updated the MINI2 with a special Roll motor clamp.

Some of you who may have received the gimbal recently may already have this, but for others who received earlier units this video is for you. So here’s a little demo on how to install the Roll motor clamp on the CAME-MINI2.

If you use your MINI2 gimbal in inverted mode, you may have to play with the final position of your roll motor clamp so that you still have some degree of rotation. I found that placing it on the side of the motor works pretty good for using the gimbal in both under slung and inverted modes. For more information about CAME-TV’s latest tool-less adjustment mini gimbal, check out the product page where there’s a few CAME-MINI2 videos (here).

came-tv came-mini2 gimbal came mini gimbal cametv mini gimbal mini2 gimbal
find-price-button CAME-TV CAME-MINI2 (v2 Tool-Less) 3-Axis Mini Gimbal Stabilizer

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