27Jan Sony LA-EA4 E to A-mount adapter Audio test

Tamron 28-75 sony a7s (1 of 2)

I finally got my hands on an A-mount lens to test with the Sony LA-EA4 adapter. The Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 is a lens that’s been around for quite awhile and it’s been released for a number of camera mounts including, Sony (A-mount), Nikon, Canon, and Pentax. The Tamron 28-75mm won’t blow your mind, but I managed to pick this up used on ebay for $160 which makes it an extremely affordable f2.8 zoom lens to test with the Sony a7s and LA-EA4 adapter.

The first thing you’ll notice when testing out the LA-EA4 adapter on the Sony a7s with an A-mount lens is the auto focus system is very snappy. It isn’t always accurate in low, but it gives the Canon 6d’s center focus point a run for it’s money.

Secondly you’ll notice the sound. When using the LA-EA4 adapter, a small motor spins up everything you focus the camera and this is a somewhat noisy experience. I’ve read a lot of complaints about how loud it is, and I don’t disagree. It’s much much louder than a USM lens on a Canon body, but it’s about the same volume as a cheap kit lens or non USM zoom. Don’t take my word for it though, here’s an audio sample.

That “pop click” sound at the beginning of the sample is the power switch, followed by the drive screw engaging and the rest is the sound of the focus system from infinity to shot. It’s not unbearable, but if you are trying to shoot incognito, it’s a problem. The sound is also a little jarring. I know that there isn’t anything wrong with the focus system, but a sound like that coming out of a camera still makes me think that there might be something dangerous going on.

Tamron 28-75 sony a7s (2 of 2)

The Sony a7s is a tiny little camera, even when compared to the Canon 6d, but with the LA-EA4 adapter and the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 lens, you give up the size advantage. The body is still petite, but now it’s about the length of a 6d with a Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 lens attached which makes sense. With the LA-EA4 adapter attached you are adding an SLT mirror and turning an a7 body into a Sony a99.

Sony LA-EA4  E-mount adapter (3 of 4)

While the LA-EA4 adapter will set you back around $350 and does bulk up the a7s body, it also gives you a lot more lenses to choose from. The Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 is a good example, but the Minolta 50mm f1.4 is also a bargain at a used price of $150, as are many of the Tokina zooms.

I think for film, i’ll be using my Canon lenses for the most part, but if I want to use the extreme low light power of the Sony a7s for photography, this is an affordable way to pick up a few lenses without braking the bank.

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26Jan Eluktro Pro Brand 1TB SSD $379

Eluktro Pro ssd

Eluktro isn’t a brand I’ve heard of, but the reviews look good and they are offering a very decent price on their 1TB SSD drives. Right now you can find a Eluktro Pro 1TB SSD for $379 with free Amazon prime shipping. Mushkin seems to be it’s closest priced competitor at $389. Both offer a 3 year warranty as well as very similar specs which leads me to believe that the only real difference between these drives is a new label and a slightly different firmware.

Intel and kingston did a lot of this in the early days of SSD drives. It seems others are following the same model.

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26Jan Monoprice 2.4Ghz Wireless system Audio tests & the Aspen Lav

Aspen Mic monoprice wireless (5 of 5)

I had a little bit of time to test the Monoprice 2.4Ghz wireless system this weekend and it works. The design choices, connector types, and labels aren’t exactly straight forward, and it seems as though the volume controls only affect the headphone output, but for a price of $89, it works.

One of the major questions that I wanted answered about the Monoprice wireless system is “Does it provide power to the lav plug?”. The Monoprice wireless system does provide power to the lav port, and I was able to use a 4 pole (TRRS) to 3 pole (TRS) adapter plug to get things working.

Aspen Mic monoprice wireless (1 of 5)

The powered lav mic I used for this test is the Aspen Lav with a 4 pole adapter to 3 pole adapter. While the Aspen mics aren’t ultra high end, there is a very noticeable audio quality difference between the Aspen Lav and the included Monoprice lav mic. As I suspected, the audio quality of this unit is mostly tied to the included low end Lav mic.

Here is the Included Monoprice Lav mic. 

Here is the Aspen Lav with adapter using the Monoprice wireless system.

Both samples were recorded through the Monoprice wireless system via the Zoom h1 which was set to an input level of 16.

There a few things to note about the test. First the Monoprice system’s output level is fixed. For that reason I went with an input level of 16 on the Zoom h1 so that it was in the range of gain you’d get out of the lower gain setting you’d use on a DSLR camera.

Second, if you listen closely to the Monoprice mic test at the very beginning you’ll hear a slight digital hiccup. There are 5 wifi networks in the area I was testing and the units were only 4 or 5 feet away from each other. In the short amount of testing I was able to perform, I only heard this digital “hiccup” a few times and I didn’t actually notice it until I listened to the recordings. However, this is probably a red flag for those of you living/working in a highly congested wifi area. I wouldn’t consider 5 wifi networks “congested” and I’m getting a few digital hiccups, how well would this work if there were 7 or more in the same space?

Last but not least, there does seem to be a low, but noticeable digital static sound in the noise floor of the recording. I was traveling most of the weekend so I didn’t have a chance to do more testing, but in the initial tests it does seem to be there. It’s low enough that you could easily remove it with a noise gate and it’s not as noticeable as the low price Audio-technica 88w units, but it does seem to be there.

Aspen Mic monoprice wireless (3 of 5)

As for the Aspen Lav, the mic is smaller than a Sennheiser lav. As you can hear in the test above the audio quality of the Aspen Lav is more crisp and less muddy sounding than the Monoprice lav. I’ll post some more audio tests of the Aspen lav recorded directly into the Zoom h1 in a feature post.

Aspen Mic monoprice wireless (2 of 5)

If you spend a little extra, Aspen also sells the adapter + mic as a kit for $64 on amazon. The adapter allows you to plug the mic directly into the Monoprice system or use it with your cellphone for remote audio recording. If you already have a nice Lav in your collection you can buy the adapter for $14.

If I get some free time this week, i’ll post some more tests of the Aspen Lav, as well as the Monoprice system. For now though, hopefully this post answers a few of your questions.

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23Jan DSLR FILM NOOB Podcast Episode 3

New podcast logo 3 (1 of 1)

Episode 3 of the DSLR FILM NOOB podcast is up, this episode Jon joins me for some more Windows 10 talk, Adobe development halt on 32 bit operating systems, Canon’s OEM battery issues, the amazing Stedman pop filter, Rode’s wireless system announcement, and more. You can find the show notes here. You can find the show on itunesSoundcloud, or under the podcast tab above. Video coming soon.

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22Jan Stedman PS101 Metal Pop Filter Review

Stedmen wind screen (1 of 3)

In the past I’ve used cheap nylon goose neck pop filters and I really haven’t had anything to complain about. In general I bought these filters, placed them in front of a good microphone and thats pretty much it. I know they prevent breath from hitting a mic’s diaphragm and they’re a good way to keep a singer from getting to close to the mic, but I never actually spent any time looking any further into other filters. Dave sent me an e-mail recommending I check out Stedman PS101 metal mesh Pop filters so I figured I’d give it a try. Here is the rather impressive test.

An open flame seemed like the best way to test Stedman metal mesh Pop filter’s resistance to blasts of air. I gave it a try against one of my cheap nylon goose neck pop filters. The Stedman really seems to do a very good job of deflecting incoming air and by “good job” I mean that I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t seen it. After all the filter looks less substantial than a window screen.

Stedmen wind screen (2 of 3)

When you look at the Stedman filter head on, it doesn’t look like it would really stop anything. The metal mesh has what seems to be wide open holes across the surface and little else. The test, however, was extremely convincing. The Stedman filter has really impressed me.

Stedmen wind screen (3 of 3)

As I move forward with the podcast, the Stedman filter will definitely be something I use exclusively on the Rode Procaster. I listened to the audio from the last show (recorded with the stedman & procaster) and I’ve been really enjoying the way the Procaster handles my voice.

By the way, the DSLR FILM NOOB podcast finally made it up on itunes so if you haven’t already, check it out, you can also find it on Soundcloud, or under the podcast tab above.

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21Jan RodeLink 2.4Ghz Wireless mic Kit

RX_OnCamera

It looks like Monoprice isn’t the only one getting into the 2.4Ghz audio transmitter game. Rode just announced the Rodelink wireless film kit, the setup includes a Rode Lav and 2.4Ghz audio transmitter/receiver kit with camera mounting and locking audio cables for $399.

Filmmaker Kit_Lav

Here are the specs for the Rodelink units:

  • Series II 2.4GHz digital transmission
  • 128-bit encrypted signal
  • Up to 100m range
  • One touch pairing
  • OLED digital display
  • 3 level gain control
  • Omnidirectional lavalier microphone
  • AA Battery or USB Power

The Rodelink looks pretty nice and I’m guessing a large chunk of the $399 price tag is the included lav mic. The 128 bit encryption is an decent feature, I hadn’t really thought much about someone monitoring an outbound wifi signal. Also “Up to 100m range” is an interesting statement, the Monoprice units only claim a max transmit distance of 164 feet or 50 meters. I suspect the Rodelink might be using a transmitter that’s larger than 5 miliwatts, if so, I wonder what battery life will be like. A higher watt transmitter could explain why they mention “USB power” in the press release.

The Rodelink wireless film kit is up for pre-order on B&H and it looks like they’ll be shipping in mid march. I wonder what other companies will be releasing 2.4Ghz wireless units in the lead up to NAB this year, it should be an interesting year for wireless audio.

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21Jan DSLR FILM NOOB Podcast Episode 2

New podcast logo 3 (1 of 1)

This Episode Richard and I discuss Rumors of a Sony APS-C camera with image stabilization, the soon to be released Olympus E-M5II, todays Windows 10 pricing announcement,  the FAA Drone agreement with CNN, why Sony continues to keep 4k internal recording out of the Sony a7s (original rant here), and more. You can find the show notes here, you can subscribe to the RSS show feed here, and you can find all previous episodes here. A video version of the show will be coming soon.

Post show discussion on editing with PNY thumbdrives and the ultra compact USB 3.0 SSD drives from Transcend and Samsung. Also I finally managed to get my hands on a RODE Procaster mic setup and this is the first show I’ve tested it out on, so let me know what you think of the audio compared to the previous shows done on the Audio-technica 4073 boom mic.

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20Jan $89 monoprice 2.4Ghz Wireless mic system just showed up

Monoprice wireless

Just made it back home from Pittsburgh last night and had a chance to grab the mail this morning. Among other things, the $89 Monoprice wireless system showed up for review. I have a few lav mics laying around and I’ll try and get some test audio up towards the middle of the week. Very interested to get some more samples.

Monoprice wireless 2

In typical Monoprice fashion, the box is just large enough to safely ship the transmitter and receiver. The rest of the included cables are crammed underneath and there is a small leaflet of an instruction manual included.

I’m interested to find out if the mic jack provides power for condenser lav mics and how much of a difference that might make in audio quality. If the weather holds up, i’ll also attempt to test transmit distance as well as the battery life. Might even try and test audio quality against a VHF lav system in the same price range (the old 88w).

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20Jan Logitech C930e webcam

Logitech C930E (1 of 4)

The few times i’ve actually needed a webcam, i’ve ended up using my laptop. So the Logitech C930e is kind of a first for me. I own a lot of cameras, but a professional webcam was not one of them.

In my hunt for the C930e I wandered around the internet, looked at a few reviews and sort of perused the webcam market. I know that back in the early 2000’s Logitech was well known for their keyboards and low end webcams, but it was kind of a surprise to me that they still dominate the same market.

Logitech C930E (2 of 4)

There are three basic versions of Logitech’s 900 series webcams, the 910, 920, and 930. These three cameras represent the “consumer” grade version, “advanced user”, and “business class” models. From what I’ve gathered, the major differences appear to be in the lens angle (78 degree versus 90 degree field of view), ability to “video call” at 720p versus  1080p, and the 1/4 20 threaded tripod mount.

There are less obvious differences like the UVC 1.5/SVC (H.264) compliant codec in the 930, consumer “fun” features in the 910 and 920 , auto white balance, and linux support. While those are probably important things to consider for some, the only thing that really swayed me over to the Logitech C930e was the 90 degree field of view and the 1/4 20 mount.

Logitech C930E (3 of 4)

These webcams are pretty light and my monitor is very tall so the 1/4 mount seemed like a good idea. After all i don’t want the webcam up a few feet above, looking down at me like some kind of disapproving parental figure from the top of a 27 inch monitor.  Having the 1/4 mount gives me the option of attaching a weight or small tripod stand to hold the thing in place at chest or eye level.

Logitech C930E (4 of 4)

You’ll probably start seeing the Logitech C930e in action in a few more weeks as I move the podcast from audio only to video/audio on google hangouts. Should be interesting to see how well a $110 webcam actually works.

On a side note, if any of you guys have any tips or tricks to setting one of these up (ie settings and so on), let me know. I am new when it comes to webcams, so I’ll be learning as I go.

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17Jan Used Gear Watch: Audio Technica 4073 boom mic $270

Audio technica 4073

I’ve been a fan of the Audio-technica 4073 boom mic for years and it’s often overlooked by filmmakers. The 4073 has a very strong signal, a lot of reach, and a very crisp clear sound. It’s popularity in ENG work has made it so common that you can usually get the mic for a good price on the used market. New, the Audio Technica 4073 will set you back around $700, but right now there are three 4073 boom mics on ebay with a buy it now price of $270. They look a little beat up but the 4073 is a work horse even with a few bumps and bruises. I’d buy one right now if I didn’t already own two.

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