20Jun Panasonic HX-A500 4k POV camera for $399

Panasonic 4k pov

Many were expecting to see a 4k Gopro Hero 4, but it looks like Panasonic is going to beat Gopro to the punch with the release of the Panasonic HX-A500 POV camera. The HX-A500 uses a very similar design to Panasonic’s HX-A100 released last year with a new small 1.5 inch monitor added to the dongle.

Seems as though Panasonic is really staying ahead of the competition in the low price 4k market. First the GH4, then the FZ1000, and now the HX-A500 POV camera. There isn’t really much competition yet in the 4k consumer market which could give them a big jump over Canon, Nikon, and Sony. If Panasonic can offer 4k recording in a $400 device, it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing others do the same.

Not sure yet how well the new “1/2.3″ Back-Illumined MOS Sensor” will perform, but i’m guessing it’ll keep up with the Gopro’s slightly smaller “1/2.5″ Back-illuminated CMOS Sensor” at the very least. Hopefully Panasonics 4k efforts will push other manufactures to join in the game. We probably don’t really “need” 4k at this point, but it seems like it’ll become the next “must have” spec over the next year or so and I’m fine with that. 

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19Jun Canon 5d mark III $2575 sale

Canon 5d mark III body 1

Yet another Canon 5d mark III ebay sale. Right now you can pick a possibly gray market 5d mark III body for $2575 with free shipping. I’ve ordered cameras from these sales in the past and had pretty good luck, but many times they require a signature for delivery. Also note that a lot of these sales are cameras that were originally packaged with a kit lens (24-105 f4). It doesn’t effect the camera but you do end up with a half empty box. If none of that is a problem for you, it’s a great way to get a good deal on a new 5d mark III body.

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18Jun Lightroom 5.5 update now supports GH4 & Sony a7s

Lightroom update

The latest version of Adobe Lightroom was released this morning. Looks like we now have full support for the Panasonic GH4 as well as the soon to be released Sony a7s. If you are already a Lightroom user the update is free to download and it’s also available via Adobe cloud. Still no sign of Lightroom 6, but I’m glad we finally have full support for the GH4, Panasonic’s included software is definitely not a easy editing environment to work with.

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18Jun Crucial MX100 512GB SSD Speed Test

Crucial MX100 512GB SSD drive (1 of 3)

The Crucial MX100 512GB was only released a few weeks ago and I’ve already seen it on sale a few times for as low as $199. That puts the MX100 at about 39 cents a GB compared to the current average price of around 48 cents a GB, making it one of the most affordable SSD drives on the market. This price savings comes from the use of 16nm flash which is smaller than the 20nm flash used in previous models. The reduction in size means more memory can be produced from a single wafer, which intern reducing the cost per GB.

Crucial MX100 512GB SSD drive (3 of 3)

While I don’t really “need” any more SSD drives the Crucial MX100 512GB pricing tempted me enough to the pull the trigger on a single drive. The drive itself is actually a little thinner than normal 2.5″ drives at a thickness of 7mm. Thankfully Crucial was kind enough to include a spacer for laptops that have the more common 9.5mm drive enclosure.

Crucial MX100 512GB SSD C speed test

Speed tests on the new Crucial MX100 512GB drive look very impressive for the price. In crystaldiskmark sequential reads are just under 500MB/s and writes are a very respectable 474MB/s. The 16nm flash seems to be just as fast as 20nm offerings that use the same Marvell controller.

Crucial MX100 512GB SSD Samsung s test

Testing the Crucial MX100 512GB drive with Samsung’s Magician software, the MX100 looks even better. Sequential reads are at 525MB/s and sequential writes are at 477MB/s, put the Mx100 in the same category as the Samsung 840 EVO (tested here) with rapid mode turned off. The Samsung 512GB 840 EVO runs $249 and the MX100 is currently selling for $219 (with sale prices as low as $199), if you don’t plan to use Samsung somewhat experimental “rapid mode”, the MX100 saves you around $30 to $50 for about the same performance.

Crucial MX100 512GB SSD drive (2 of 3)

I’ve only been using the drive for a few days. Once I’ve had the MX100 running for a month or two I’ll post some more results. I experienced a little bit of a slowdown in performance after a few months with the previous generations of Crucial drives (m500 series), so I’ll be keeping an eye out for that.  I’m sure well seem more 16nm flash SSD drives hitting the market soon which should lead to even more price competition.

SSD drives are finally starting to look like an affordable storage option. Hopefully the trend will continue.

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13Jun Panasonic GH4 is back in stock at $1698 on B&H

Panasonic 35-100mm (4 of 4)

Just a quick heads up, the Panasonic GH4 has been out of stock or marked up to around $2000 for the past month or so. However, right now B&H has a few in stock at the normal price of $1698. If you want one, you might want to move fast, supplies are limited.

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12Jun Sony A7S v.s. 5d mark III low light test

Sony a7s

I’ve posted a few things about how Amazing the low light performance is on the new Sony a7s (here and here) but the video below really drives the point home. Sony really made the right choice move to a lower megapixel sensor and focusing in on lowlight and dynamic range performance. I rarely need 22MP, but I often find myself wishing I could crank up the iso just a little higher.

The difference between the Canon 5d mark III and the Sony a7s in this test is really jaw dropping. At 6400 iso the Canon image starts to get a bit mushy, while the a7s holds together very well. By 12800 iso the a7s image quality really starts to pull ahead and the noise pattern starts to get ugly on the 5d mark III. At 51200 iso the Sony a7s still looks good, although it’s slightly over exposed, and even at 102400 iso the image still looks pretty decent.

Low light performance on the a7s is remarkably good, it’s a shame Sony didn’t include 4k internal recording. This camera could have been epic.

UPDATE: Taking a closer look at the video on a proper screen, the 5d seems to be out of focus. Much of the “mushy” I was seeing this morning is likely due to that. I only had a 1280×1024 screen when I posted this, thanks to Dave for point that out.

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12Jun Varavon GH4 Cage hits the market at $270

Varavon Panasonic Cage  (2 of 4)

The very sexy Varavon Panasonic GH4 cage I saw at NAB has started to show up on ebay even though there is no sign of it on the official Varavon site. It appears they’ve added a nice looking top handle and an HDMI locking cable to the design and raised the asking price from the estimated $200 at NAB to $270.

Varavon GH4 cage

The Varavon Panasonic GH4 cage is one of the best looking GH4 cages I’ve seen so far. The prototype I played around with at NAB was a very nice form factor and didn’t seem to interfere with any of the controls or interface options. It also raises the GH4 up off the QR plate so you don’t run into any issues with the flip out screen. I might have to pick one of these up.

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12Jun Panasonic Lumix FZ1000, 4k for $897?

Panasonic fz1000

The announcement for the Panasonic FZ1000 happened at midnight last night but it’s been bouncing around the rumor mill for a few weeks now. The Fz1000 looks like it’s designed to compete directly with the Sony RX10. Both cameras are crossover “all in one” super zoom hybrids and both cameras share the same sensor. Where the Panasonic FZ1000 moves things forward is in it’s very impressive zoom range (25-400mm f/2.8-4 35mm Equivalent) , it’s ability to record 4k internally just like it’s bigger brother the GH4, and, of course the price.

At an MSRP of $897, the Panasonic FZ1000 is $400 less than the Sony RX10 and it brings many of the features from the GH4 to the table. With a very attractive EVF, flip out screen, and most of the key video features like focus peaking, (UHD) 4k recording, clean hdmi out, and zebras, the FZ1000 looks like a pretty attractive camera for the price.

Panasonic fz1000 -2

Here’s a quick look at the specs.

  • 20.1 megapixel 1″-type MOS sensor
  • 25-400mm equiv. F2.8-4 Leica lens
  • 5-axis ‘Power OIS’ stabilization
  • XGA OLED electronic viewfinder with 2.36M dots
  • 3-inch fully-articulated LCD with 920K dots
  • 4K (3840×2160) video at 30p, 100Mbps MP4
  • 1080p at up to 60p, 28Mbps (MP4 or AVCHD)
  • 120fps quarter-speed 1080p
  • 3.5mm microphone socket
  • Clean HDMI output
  • Zebra pattern and focus peaking
  • Wi-Fi with NFC

Where I’m a little skeptical on the FZ1000 is the 1″ sensor. I understand that Panasonic is using the same sensor as the Sony RX10, but it would have been great if they could have lowered the MP count and increase the low light performance. Also shooting on a 1 inch sensor is a far different experience in terms of DOF when compared to APS-C or even an M4/3 body. At the same time $897 is a really good price for something that records 4k. As a video camera it’s nearest 4k capable competitor the Sony AX100, is more than twice that price and as a stills camera the Sony RX10 is a $400 price jump. Hopefully a camera like this will put some pressure on other manufactures to start including 4k as a standard feature. Canon are you listening?

Even with the shortcomings of a 1 inch sensor, the Panasonic FZ1000 is going to make a very attractive option for those looking for an all in one device. I’m sure it’ll sell out fast. You can get on the preorder list at B&H or on Amazon, like the GH4 I think the FZ1000 will probably see a price jump once the initial stock runs out.

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11Jun HMN sound & Sennheiser ME-2 Lav mic audio testing

HMNsound Lav (2 of 2)

I’ve been testing and using the HMN Sound lav mic for the last few weeks (earlier post here) and I’ve been pretty happy with the results. The shelved version of the HMN lav sounds very similar to the $140 Sennheiser ME-2 Lav mic I normally use. At $79 however, the HMN lav is a bit more affordable than Sennheiser’s offering and it leaves me wondering if the ME-2 is really worth the extra $60.

HMN sound Lav test (1 of 2)

Placing the two lav microphones side by side, you can see that the HMN Sound lav (left) is slightly wider and slightly shorter than the Sennheiser ME-2 (right). Both microphones have a brass outer shell casing. This is easy to see on the ME-2 thanks to all the use it’s seen, but I actually had to scrape a little paint off the HMN to find out what it was actually made of. Both microphones also use a very similar tie clip and the cable size is pretty much the same.

All of the sample tests have been converted to a 192 kbps mp3 format for easier download. This first test is the HMN Sound lav plugged directly into the Zoom h1 field recorder.

This next test is the Sennheiser ME-2 plugged directly into the Zoom h1 field recorder.

HMN sound Lav test (2 of 2)

For the last test I’m using the Azden ULT dual wireless system. I have the HMN Sound lav plugged into the left channel and the Sennheiser ME-2 plugged into the right channel. The receiver is feeding the audio directly into the Zoom h1.

I’ve listened to this last one a few times and to my ear it sounds as though the shelved HMN might have a slight advantage over the ME-2. The sound difference is very subtle and i’m having trouble deciding which one I actually like more. 

Sometimes tests like this really boil down to personal preference. Both microphones sound good, but the HMN is roughly $60 less than the Sennheiser ME-2 and audio difference seems pretty minimal compared to the difference in price. Take a listen to all of the audio samples and let me know what you think.

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10Jun Canon 6d + 24-105mm f4 $1899 combo deal

Canon 6d body (1 of 1)

I still have and use the Canon 6d on a regular basis. It’s a great full frame stills camera and a pretty decent video camera (minus the moire issues). If you are in the market, seller “beststopdeals” on ebay has a very attractive combo deal. Right now they are selling the Canon 6d body with the Canon 24-105 f4 lens for $1899 with free shipping.

If you get a great price on the Canon 24-105mm f4 you are looking at around $600. Subtract that from $1899 and you are paying about $1300 for a 6d body. Want to upgrade in the future, you can always sell off the 24-105mm and you’re left with a very good deal on a full frame (almost) Canon body.

This particular seller is listed with a US address, but many of these Ebay deals are selling gray market cameras. They also often require a signature for delievery. I picked up my Canon 6d and one of my 5d mark III bodies in a similar sale and had no problems, but if either of those things bother you, spend the extra and order from Amazon or B&H.

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