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More new drones continue to flood the market as more cities continue to ban them

By technical editor Matt Allard:

The number of new drones coming on to the market continues to grow rapidly. At NAB this year we lost count of the new products we saw and it’s no wonder: by 2020 it’s estimated that the commercial drone market will be worth $1.27 billion US according to a report by marketsandmarkets.com. It seems everyone wants a slice of the pie, but as that pie gets divided up, the number of places where you can actually fly a drone is getting smaller and smaller.

Tokyo, where I live, has just banned drones in all the 81 public parks across the city, and anyone caught flying one can be fined 50,000JPY ($420 US). This comes after a drone carrying radioactive sand was flown onto the roof of the prime minister’s residence as part of a protest over the Japanese government’s nuclear energy policy. According to The Japan News, Tokyo’s metropolitan government said that the drones are being banned because they pose a danger to park visitors.

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Similar legislation is being enacted all over the world and it’s gradually getting harder and harder to fly a drone legally. Despite this, a new company called Lily has entered the market, with what they call a ‘Throw and go’ drone. As the name suggests you don’t need a controller as the Lily uses a tracking device that you carry with you or wear on your wrist in a waterproof casing.

Lily always knows where you are and where to position the camera as it uses GPS and computer vision to follow you at up to 25mph (40km/h) and keep you in the center of the frame. The tracking device can be mounted to anyone or anything, enabling you to fix it to a car, animal, or even a stationary object for a fixed hovering shot. The tracker features a accelerometer, barometer, GPS, microphone and vibration motor. The drone itself is also waterproof and can take off and land in water as the body is sealed and the motors are insulated, although the manufacturer suggests: ‘We recommend that you rinse the motors thoroughly after each saltwater exposure. The motors are subject to corrosion over time.’

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There are no manual controls at all, so what you can actually shoot with the Lily is somewhat limited. Think of the Lily as an aerial GoPro, that offers a bird’s-eye view of the world rather than a human perspective.

Action sports people are sure to love the Lily as you can throw it in a backpack, take it up a mountain, deploy it, and ski back down without having to worry about controlling it. The Lily will fly for up to 20 minutes at a height of between 5ft (1.75m) and 50ft (15m) and will work at distances between 5ft (1.75m) to 100ft (30m) from the user. The tracking device will send you pulse vibrations when the battery is running low. And if you don’t take the hint, Lily will land itself before running out of battery.

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For me the major oversight with the Lily seems to be the lack of safety features. Collision avoidance and what happens in the event of a mechanical failure are two key issues when flying a drone, and according to Lily:

‘Currently, Lily does not have any obstacle avoidance capabilities. We have found that most outdoor activities do not need obstacle avoidance because Lily can follow the user’s path. But again, there are no guarantees that Lily will not hit anything while it is following you. If Lily is about to hit an object you can press the middle button on the tracking device and Lily will stop, hold its position, and continue to film you.’

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A Lily Companion App will be available for iOS and Android devices that will allow you to change the camera settings, create custom shots, and edit and share your content.

The inbuilt camera has the following specifications:
Video Resolution: 1080p 60 fps / 720p 120 fps
Video FOV: 94º
Video Format: H.264 codec, .mp4 file format
Photo Resolution: 12 MP
Digital gimballing
Image stabilization
Fixed focus

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Lily will be available in early 2016 and will retail for $999 US. A pre-release special offer sees the price discounted to $499 US if you pre-order now.

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Posted on May 15th, 2015 by Matthew Allard | Category: Drones | Permalink | Comments (0)

ARRI ALEXA Mini configuration video: Abel Cine and Snehal Patel showcase the various combinations

By site editor Dan Chung:

The highly anticipated ARRI ALEXA Mini should be available to lucky pre-order customers in the next few weeks. As the time approaches Abel Cine have published a video with ARRI’s Snehal Patel where he walks us through the different available configurations. Especially interesting are the handheld and gimbal setups which allow the camera to be kept nice and small.

Transvideo's StarliteHD - a version will be sold be ARRI that can control the ALEXA Mini

Transvideo’s StarliteHD – a version will be sold be ARRI that can control the ALEXA Mini

The lightweight side battery plate which we first saw at NAB makes an appearance in the video. I think this will be an essential accessory for many gimbal operators. Also shown is Transvideo’s Starlight monitor which can now control the camera menus over SDI – a major plus if you are running on a gimbal.

Posted on May 15th, 2015 by Dan Chung | Category: Arri Alexa | Permalink | Comments (0)

C-Box – A SSD based alternative to using CFast cards

By technical editor Matt Allard:

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CFast 2.0 is rapidly becoming the new media standard for today’s 4K cameras. Cameras that already use CFast include the Blackmagic URSA and Arri AMIRA, with the URSA Mini and Canon C300 Mark II joining soon. Not only is CFast very reliable and compact, but it can also sustain write speeds of around 450MB/s and data-transfer speeds of over 500MB/s. Like most new technology, the cost of CFast 2.0 cards is currently high compared to SD or CF cards. A Sandisk Extreme Pro 128GB Cfast 2.0 card current retails for around $499.99 US, while a Sandisk 128GB Extreme Pro UHS-I SDXC U3 Memory Card is only $99.00 US.

Sandisk 128GB Extreme PRO CFast 2.0 Memory Card

Sandisk 128GB Extreme PRO CFast 2.0 Memory Card

For my professional use the price of CFast 2.0 is in line with other media I use. SxS Pro+ cards can retail for over $1000 US. I mainly shoot compressed formats so a single card can last many minutes. For users shooting RAW on cameras like the Blackmagic URSA things can be very different and much more costly. Recording 4K RAW on a URSA will only give you 7 minutes of record time using a 128 GB CFast 2.0 card. CFast 2.0 cards are currently only available up to 128GB with the exception of a 256GB card made by Lexar that retails for $699.95 US.

Event shooters require long continuous record times and again may require a lot of CFast cards, which can quickly eat into the budget. For these users there is now an alternative:

A Kickstarter campaign by a company called C-Box System has an interesting solution. Called C-Box it features a dual-SSD bay which interfaces directly with your CFast camera by attaching into the CFast ports. It does not require any modification to your camera but will only work if your using a camera that has dual CFast slots. Also be aware that you will have to have the media bay door open to use the C-Box system.

You will have to have the cameras's media door open to use the C-Box system

You will have to have the cameras’s media door open to use the C-Box system

The C-Box is not an external recorder, instead it is a way to record your camera’s highest quality footage directly to SSDs. External recorders require the camera to which they are connected to send a video signal which then must be encoded by the recorder. Most professional-grade external recorders will only handle up to 4K resolution footage and with a limited number of frame rate options. With the C-Box system you can record all of the frame rate and resolution options that your camera offers natively for internal cards, directly to external SSDs.

Samsung 1TB 840 Evo-Series SATA III Internal SSD

Samsung 1TB 840 Evo-Series SATA III Internal SSD

One of the main benefits of using the C-Box is that you can record up to four times longer when using 1TB solid state drives in place of 256GB CFast cards. A Samsung 1TB 840 Evo-Series SATA III Internal SSD retails for $449.00 US.

The C-Box can be powered from of any Anton Bauer or V-Lock plate via a standard 5V output. You can even use mobile phone battery packs via USB to power it. The C-Box system comes equipped with a standard 2.1mm x 5.5mm DC female power port.

The SSD drives are half exposed to the elements

The SSD drives are half exposed to the elements

The C-Box looks to be an interesting option for certain shooting situations where the camera is in a fixed position, such as at an event or in a studio. I would be very hesitant to use it in a run-and-gun situation out in the field. Not only do you have to keep the media door on your camera open, but you have to mount the C-Box somewhere on your camera. From the initial design that I can see, the actual SSDs are only half protected by the C-Box and would be very exposed to the elements. The C-Box may well save you money in the long run but you will have to initially factor in the cost of buying the system, two SSD drives, and a powering solution.

It is always good to see people looking outside the box and coming up with interesting solutions to problems. While the C-Box is an interesting solution for several applications right now, the cost of CFast cards will continue to come down and the capacity will continue to go up.

The C-Box system will retail for $499.95 US + shipping and according to Kickstarter will be shipping in August this year if they meet their funding goal.

This from C-Box System:

Product Statement:
There are some incredible cameras coming out with great technical specifications and at competitive prices, but many of them require very expensive CFast memory cards. Depending on the size and length of your project or video, using readily available solid state drives and the rig friendly C-Box, you could save thousands of dollars in cost of media alone!

Key Benefits and Features:
Truly Uncompressed Footage! This is not an external recorder, it is a way to record your camera’s highest quality footage directly to SSDs. External recorders require the camera to which they are connected to send a video signal which then must be encoded by the recorder. Most professional-grade external recorders will only handle up to 4k resolution footage and with a limited number of frame rate options. With the C-Box system you can record all of the frame rate and resolution options that your camera offers for internal cards, directly to external SSDs.
No Camera Modifications Necessary! The C-Box does not require any internal modification of any kind to your video camera. It’s truly “plug and play.
Easily Attaches to Modern Rig Setups! With a standard quarter-inch screw thread, you can hook your C-Box to any tripod, lightstand, ball-mount, or magic-arm with that size thread.
Use Any SSD You Want! Sustained write speeds for solid state drives varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, and we’ll happily suggest our favorites; but you are welcome to use any SSD you want on the C-Box system. We do not require anyone to buy proprietary drives from us.
Have Confidence in Your Data Rates! As of this Kickstarter’s launch, the fastest CFast card we could find boasts a maximum sustained write speed of 440MB/s, compared to over 500MB/s boasted by numerous solid state drive manufacturer’s highest-performing products.
Draw Powered From Your Anton Bauer, V-Lock, or Wall-Mount Power Supply! The C-Box system comes equipped with a standard 2.1mm x 5.5mm DC female power port. Use this with any 5V 2A power supply and you’re ready to go. We recommend using at least 2 amps of power in order to ensure proper powering of device and all connected drives.

Dual-SSD Bay! Plug in two of your favorite SSDs to take advantage of the advanced data-management options on CFast cameras which feature two CFast ports.
Your Camera Can’t Tell the Difference! This means you can manage the C-Box system directly through your camera’s normal memory management interface. No need to handle multiple interfaces before shooting takes.

Save Thousands! We encourage you to go and look at the price of current CFast cards and compare them to the cost of current top-of-the-line solid state drives. At the time of writing, we calculate a savings of $4000 or more when using the C-Box system and two 1TB solid state drives compared to the cost of equivalent storage space in high-performance CFast cards.
Longer Record Times! Record up to 4 times longer before needing to swap media with the use of 1TB solid state drives in place of 256GB CFast cards.
First Wave C-Box Systems Arrive in August 2015! For those of us who have already pre-ordered select CFast cameras, this means a ready-to-shoot rig arriving all around the same time.
“Have You Tested That Thing?”

Of course! I’m bringing to you a product that I will be using, and I wouldn’t bring anything on set I’ve not thoroughly stress-tested. When you receive yours I recommend you do the same so you can know the full potential of what this thing is capable of; I’m sure you’ll be impressed!

A Little Info From The Stress Tests:
During continuous filming sessions over an hour long (average of 3 hours of continuous activity), my SSD of choice – the Samsung 850 Pro 1TB – reached a maximum temperature of approx 30 degrees cooler than the specified safe operation range posted by Samsung. Additionally the same SSDs ran cooler in the C-Box system than they do inside of the Blackmagic Cinema Camera (2.5K version).
Not a single frame was dropped or corrupted at 4K uncompressed raw 60fps when the camera was recording in dual card mode (Samsung 850 Pro 1TB)
Not a single frame was dropped or corrupted at 4K uncompressed raw 30fps when the camera was recording in single card mode (Samsung 850 Pro 1TB)
I’ve successfully powered the C-Box system via a 5V 2A cell phone charger, 5V USB port in a Lanparte V-Lock plate, 5V DC port in a Lanparte V-Lock plate, Blueshape’s D-Tap to 5V 3A USB cable on an Anton Bauer plate as well as a Lanparte V-Lock plate, and even off of a 5V 2.4A USB port designed for iPads on a mobile backup battery (rated 22,400mah it powered the C-Box system for over 10 hours of continous activity)

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Posted on May 13th, 2015 by Matthew Allard | Category: CP+ show, External recorders, RAW shooting, Storage | Permalink | Comments (4)

Olympus officially announce the M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f2.8 Micro Four Thirds wide angle zoom lens

By technical editor Matt Allard:

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Until now there hasn’t been a fast Micro Four Thirds ultra wide angle zoom lens available. The Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm f4 lens was really the only choice, but many BMPCC and Panasonic GH4 users felt that the f4 aperture was not fast enough.

Olympus have answered this need their new M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm (14-28mm equivalent) F2.8 lens. They also announced a 8mm (16mm equivalent) F1.8 Fisheye Pro lens. Both lenses effectively replace the older Olympus 7-14mm f4 and 8mm f4.5 lenses that were released in 2004 and 2005 respectively. Not only do the new lenses both have faster apertures, they also have better weather sealing to protect from the elements. The new lenses join the existing Olympus “Pro” series line that include the 12-40mm f/2.8, 40-150mm f/2.8 and upcoming 300mm f4.

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The M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm F2.8 is sure to be of interest to a lot of Micro Four Thirds users as it is a whole stop faster than the popular Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm f4 lens. The ED 7-14mm F2.8 is said to offer fast, smooth, and quiet autofocus. The lens also falls under Olympus Movie and Still Image Compatible (MSC) designation which should help with fast-moving subjects and video applications. It features a rounded seven-blade iris. It can also be operated in manual focus, which is engaged by pulling back the focus ring to reveal a distance scale. Video shooters will appreciate the hard stops at the end of the focus range – most AF lens focus rings spin continuously which makes them harder to use.

A built n lens hood makes adding a variable ND filter very tricky.

A built n lens hood makes adding a variable ND filter very tricky.

When used for video the 7-14mm f2.8 has a similar issue to other ultra wide lenses with bulbous front elements. There is no filter thread the built-in petal style lens hood that cannot be removed. If you want to use a variable ND filter there is no easy way to mount it. There may be third party solutions in time, but right now nothing is available.

The M.ZUIKO Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO Lens will retail for $1299 US and will start shipping in June. The M.ZUIKO Digital ED 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye PRO Lens will retail for $999.99 Us and will also start shipping in June.

M.ZUIKO Digital ED 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye PRO Lens

M.ZUIKO Digital ED 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye PRO Lens

This from Olympus:
Today, Olympus is pleased to announce the availability of two new premium M.ZUIKO DIGITAL PRO lenses. The M.ZUIKO Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO is an ultra-wide-angle zoom lens with a 35mm equivalent focal length of 14-28mm, while the M.ZUIKO Digital ED 8mm Fisheye PRO, the world’s first with an f/1.8 aperture, features a minimum working distance of just 2.5cm and offers excellent bokeh with wide-angle macro shots. Both lenses are equipped with Olympus’ legendary weather sealing, providing peace-of-mind while shooting in extreme weather conditions with an OM-D® camera.

The M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO is the ideal lens for wide-angle shooting needs in any condition. This premium lens includes weather sealing in 11 locations, enabling use in rain and snow, or even on the beach, where other lenses may not be able to withstand ocean spray or dust penetration. At 534 grams, or just under 19 ounces, the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO is about 45 percent lighter than similar competitor products, eliminating heavy equipment that may slow the user down.

The lens also includes premium close-up shooting capabilities, thanks to the minimum working distance of just 7.5cm, offering extremely sharp capture capability, even at the very edges of an image. Three Super ED lenses, one ED lens and two EDA lenses help to minimize peripheral chromatic aberration, while the ZERO (Zuiko Extra-Low Reflective Optical) Coating aids in minimizing ghosting. The lens also boasts an L-Fn button with 27 assignable functions and a Manual Focus Clutch with built-in Focus Distance Meter. The M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO lens comes with a fixed lens hood and pinch-style lens cap LC-79 for added protection.

Hobbyists, photo enthusiasts and professionals alike will be captivated by the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 8mm f/1.8 PRO Fisheye lens’ 180-degree diagonal angle of view. Like the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO, this lens includes dustproof and splashproof construction, for unlimited wide-angle adventure. The lens is also compatible with a custom dome port for use with an Olympus underwater housing.

The M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 8mm f/1.8 PRO Fisheye lens is constructed of 17 elements in 15 groups and can capture high resolution at the very edges of an image, even at the maximum aperture of f/1.8. ZERO Coating minimizes optical flares and ghosting. The lens also comes with a fixed lens hood and a pinch-style lens cap LC-62.

Both of the lenses’ compact size, brightness and weight reflect Olympus’ mastery of precision engineering. When used in conjunction with core OM-D technologies, like 5-axis image stabilization, the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO and M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 8mm f/1.8 PRO Fisheye open the user up to new possibilities for long exposure hand-held shooting.

Underwater Lens Port, PPO-EP02
The PPO-EP02 glass dome lens port is a great accessory to the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 8mm f/1.8 PRO Fisheye lens, enabling the user to capture the widest shot possible underwater with the OM-D E-M5 or OM-D E-M1 underwater housings. The PPO-EP02 is 15 percent smaller and 30 percent lighter than Olympus’ previous lens port model, the PPO-E04, allowing for more compact and lightweight underwater shooting. Also, the hood section can be removed to reduce waves for over-under shots. (Rear Cover (PRPC-EP02) and Front Cover (PBC-EP02) are bundled).

U.S. Pricing and Availability
The M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO lens will be available in June 2015 (black) for an estimated street price of $1,299.99 (US) and $1,599.99 (Canada).

The M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye PRO lens will be available in June 2015 (black) for an estimated street price of $999.99 (US) and $1,249.99 (Canada).

Posted on May 12th, 2015 by Matthew Allard | Category: Blackmagic design, Lenses, Olympus, Panasonic AF100, Panasonic GH2, Panasonic GH3, Panasonic GH4 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Canon release the latest incarnation of their budget 50mm f1.8 EF lens for $125.00 US

By technical editor Matt Allard:

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The Canon 50mm f1.8 has always been the ultimate budget prime lens and a great choice for those getting into photography or videography for the first time. Despite its plastic feel and build quality, the lens was very capable of producing nice images.

The older 50mm f1.8 II lens

The older 50mm f1.8 II lens

The new 50mm f1.8 STM lens

The new 50mm f1.8 STM lens

Canon have now announced a new version of the 50mm f1.8 which includes STM (stepping motor technology). STM can be found on quite a few new Canon lenses and is a new design of focus motors, which along with a new iris mechanism, are designed to eliminate (auditory) noise during video recording. This is great news for those shooting video but it does come at a cost. STM lenses use the same direct connection to the lens focus group, which means manual focus has to be implemented using a focus-by-wire arrangement whereby moving the focus ring by hand sends a signal to the motor to move the focus group. This can make manual focus very difficult to do as there is normally a delay between you moving the focus ring and the motor moving the focus elements. A similar type of technology can be found on a lot of mmirrorless camera lenses such as the Sony FE 70-200mm f4 and 28-135mm f4.

A new focus ring placement and metal mount are just some of the improved features

A new focus ring placement and metal mount are just some of the improved features

The lens has been redesigned and features a new focus ring placement as well as a metal mount that is said to provide additional stability and ruggedness compared to its predecessor. Canon claims it is the most compact Canon EF 50mm lens ever, at just 1.5 inches in length.

Both auto and manual focus are available

Both auto and manual focus are available

The new 50mm f1.8 is composed of six elements in five groups, and features an optimized lens placement and Super Spectra Coating (SSC), that is claimed to provide less ghosting and flaring than the previous model. The new lens features a seven blade circular aperture, improved from the predecessor’s five blade non-circular aperture. This should help to deliver a sharper image and more pleasing bokeh. The minimum focusing distance for the lens has been shortened to 1.1 feet from 1.5 feet with a maximum magnification of 0.21x, allowing for closer operation.

The lens will retail for $125.00 US and be available at the end of this month. A optional ES-68 lens hood is available for $26.95 US.

This from Canon:
Canon U.S.A., a leader in digital imaging solutions, is proud to announce the new lightweight and compact Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM standard lens. Featuring a large maximum aperture of f/1.8, this single focal length lens (which has an effective focal length of 80mm when attached to an EOS camera with an APS-C sensor such as the EOS Rebel T6i) is ideal for creating portraits with beautiful, soft-blurred backgrounds. It’s also ideal for low-light photography and night scenes. Now incorporating Canon’s proprietary STM stepping motor technology, this new lens supports Canon’s EOS Movie Servo AF* (autofocus) function to provide smooth and quiet continuous AF during video recording, as well as when capturing still photos.

“Canon’s optical heritage of creating high-quality lenses is something we are very proud of ,” said Yuichi Ishizuka, president and COO of Canon U.S.A., Inc. “Regardless of skill level or budget, all photographers and videographers should have access to superb creative tools that enable them to capture not only beautiful images but images that tell the story of their lives. This new Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens, will provide photographers and videographers with outstanding images they will want to share for years to come.”

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Posted on May 12th, 2015 by Matthew Allard | Category: Lenses | Permalink | Comments (0)

Think Tank Photo Airport Helipak review: The perfect way to carry your DJI Phantom?

Guest post Slavik Boyechko:

I fit an FS7 rig alongside my Phantom 2

I fit a Sony FS7 rig alongside my Phantom 2

The best part about the DJI Phantom range of quadcopters is how light and small they are – you can bring them along practically anywhere. I’ve been carrying around my Phantom 2 around Alaska for over a year now, using a hard case. It’s been great, but also limiting. The hard case adds weight, and you have to carry it in your hand rather than on your back, which makes even a mile-long hike tiring.

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That’s why I was excited to try out the new Think Tank Airport Helipak, designed specifically for DJI Phantoms (it even fits the new Phantom 3). It’s super-lightweight, fits within US national and international airline carry-on specifications, includes a laptop sleeve, and the padded dividers can be moved around to fit your custom needs.

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The customisable dividers mean you can use the Helipak for more than just carrying a Phantom. It’s the same durable quality as Think Tank’s other Airport bags, so you can depend on this bag to carry a variety of other gear too. On a recent shoot, I fitted in a Sony FS7 rig along with a Phantom 2, three batteries, an FPV system, several charges, three Canon lenses for the FS7, and a bunch of little accessories.

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The only downside is that you have to take off the Phantom propellers to fit it into the bag. With my hard case, I can leave the propellers on and be ready to fly at a moment’s notice. But after putting them on and taking them off a few times on this shoot, I found it only added about 30 seconds to setup and breakdown, so was not a big issue.

The Helipak is water resistant, even glacier water.

The Helipak is water resistant, even glacier water.

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For anyone who wants a great carrying solution for their Phantom quadcopter, this bag is a no brainer. And as a bonus, it’s suitable for a variety of other rigs. At $240, that’s a great deal.

You can find out more about the Airport Helipak and where to order it on the Think Tank Photo website. It is also available for $239.75 from B+H Photo.

Posted on May 11th, 2015 by slavik | Category: Camera bags | Permalink | Comments (1)

Filming the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake – Pete Pattisson shoots for the Guardian on the Sony a7S

Guest post by Pete Pattisson:

When a massive earthquake struck Kathmandu, where I live, on April 25, my immediate reaction was simple: get out the house now. Those of us who live here have always feared a major earthquake, and I knew straight away that this was it.

In the hours after the quake, it felt like the whole city had come out onto the streets, some for safety’s sake, and others just to see what had happened. Everyone remained tense and jittery for days, as we were hit by dozens of aftershocks, many of which registered as major earthquakes in their own right. Many thousands of people spent night after night outdoors, too afraid to sleep inside, and dozens of the city’s ancient temples, monuments and traditional buildings were destroyed.

Every home in Barkobot, Sindhupalchowk district, has been either severely damaged or completely destroyed, but villagers claim they have yet to receive any government aid, despite being only an hour and a half drive from the capital, Kathmandu.

Every home in Barkobot, Sindhupalchowk district, has been either severely damaged or completely destroyed, but villagers claim they have yet to receive any government aid, despite being only an hour and a half drive from the capital, Kathmandu.

However, Kathmandu has survived relatively unscathed; those of us who live here expected worse. Out in the rural areas, it’s a different story. Here, most people live in mud and stone houses, and village after village suffered massive damage. I visited one, just a couple of hours from Kathmandu, where every single house was severely damaged or totally destroyed. One man, who had just lost his house and his daughter, asked, in stunned grief, “What has the world come to?”

In the days after the quake, I made a number of short films for the Guardian and contributed photos, stories and reports for their live feed. I had never done live feed reporting before, but it was incredibly satisfying to email a piece and within minutes show your interviewee their quotes online, where the whole world could read them. Mobile phones really come into their own in these circumstances and, with a 3G connection (wifi was non-existent or not working), I could file reports and photos taken on the phone from most places.

How do you best make a short film for online news in a disaster zone? I wanted to try to do something different to the big broadcasters, but through lack of imagination (or just lack of time) I think I ended up producing films which were fairly traditional in terms of structure and content (in fact the only innovative footage I have seen was shot on a drone – a perfect way to show the scale of the destruction). The priority for me was just to film something, edit it and get it published quickly.

Dil Bahadur Shrestha dig out their belongings from what remains of their home in Harredada, Sindhupalchowk district, Nepal.

Dil Bahadur Shrestha dig out their belongings from what remains of their home in Harredada, Sindhupalchowk district, Nepal.

This was not easy. It took most of the day to travel outside Kathmandu, find a story, shoot it and then return, get it translated, edited and filed. In the first few days there was almost no power or internet, and in these situations power is everything; without it you simply cannot operate. One night I had to drive to seven different hotels until I found one with both. Most nights I was up to 3 or 4am.

A family collects water at a makeshift pump in Sindhupalchowk district, after a major earthquake struck the country on April 25, 2015.

A family collects water at a makeshift pump in Sindhupalchowk district, after a major earthquake struck the country on April 25, 2015.

My whole set up was incredibly light. It was just me, a small rucksack of kit, my scooter and my interpreter. I’m reluctant to talk about my kit – it seems a little indulgent when so many people have lost so much – but perhaps it will be useful for some of you. I used the Sony a7S, which I just find fantastic. It’s small and unthreatening, but very powerful. Since I wanted to take photos too, it was the ideal tool. Audio was with the Rode VideoMic Pro and Sony UWP wireless mics. As far as possible I tried to use the wireless mics, but in sensitive situations, I just don’t think it’s appropriate to fiddle about fixing a wireless mic onto someone. In these cases, the Rode proved adequate. Most of the time I just used the Sony 28-70mm kit lens, which I find does a great job. I generally didn’t take a tripod with me. I think in these situations having a small, light kit makes a huge difference. You may not have the most stable shot possible, but telling an authentic story is what matters.

Within a week, the earthquake had slipped off the pages of most international media (with the exception of the Guardian and the outstanding reporting of their South Asia correspondent, Jason Burke), but the relief effort is only just beginning. How does a village where every home has been destroyed start again? How does a country with hundreds of such villages recover? It’s going to take a long time, but what’s been inspiring is the number of citizen-led relief efforts. Where the government is perceived to have been slow to act, Nepalis have mobilised huge amounts of resources to help each other. If you want to help one of these groups, I would strongly recommend the work of Teach for Nepal. You can donate to them here.

Pete Pattisson is a freelance video journalist. You can find out more about his work on his website.

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Posted on May 8th, 2015 by Pete Pattisson | Category: Journalism, Sony a7S | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tenba Packlite- the completely collapsible, self-stowing camera bag

By technical editor Matt Allard:

When I am travelling there are a lot of times when I want to pack a bag away into a suitcase or larger bag to be used once I arrive at my destination. This is often problamatic as I don’t want waste valuable space having an empty bag taking up room inside another bag. Tenba seem to have come up with an interesting solution called Packlite. The bag system consists of an outer bag which you then fill with the company’s BYOB inserts. Both can be packed away to take up minimal space.

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Tenba claims Packlite is the world’s first completely collapsible, self-stowing camera bag. Packlite bags take up almost zero space and have virtually no weight (under half a pound), but when you pull the bag out from its self-stowing mesh pocket and drop in a Tenba BYOB insert, you have an instant, super lightweight camera bag complete with a quick-access top zipper and a side mesh pocket for a water bottle.

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This from Tenba:
Photographers and filmmakers often travel with a bag, backpack or rolling case filled with 1-2 camera bodies and anywhere between 4 and 8 lenses. But what happens when you get to your location, whether for work or holiday, and you only want to walk around with a much smaller kit consisting of one camera and a couple of lenses? The Packlite bag is the answer.

Shown with an optional BYOB insert

Shown with an optional BYOB insert

Packlite bags come in four sizes to pair up with each of Tenba’s BYOB inserts. They can carry everything from the smallest mirrorless camera systems in the Packlite 7, to mid-size mirrorless in the Packlite 8, a DSLR with an attached 24-70mm 2.8 in the Packlite 10, up to a pro body with a 70-200mm 2.8 in the Packlite 13.

The bags can be stowed inside any larger camera bag, or even clipped to the outside, so you always have a smaller, lightweight camera bag option wherever you go.

The Packlite bags are available from $19.95 US up to $28.95 depending on what size you choose. More information can be found over at the Tenba website.

Posted on May 7th, 2015 by Matthew Allard | Category: Camera bags | Permalink | Comments (4)

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