02Mar Canon 5d mark III price drop, 5d mark IV on the way?

Canon 5d mark III

Canon announced official $300 price cuts on retail 5d mark III and Canon 6d bodies over the weekend and it seems to fall in line with the extremely low 5d mark III ebay prices we’ve been seeing over the last few weeks.  There were a lot of grumblings about the Canon 5ds possibly being the only new 5d branded camera coming this year, but I wonder if Canon simply wanted to give each camera it’s own time in the spotlight. After all the 5ds won’t actually start shipping until the end of june.

Canon could have waited until NAB to announce the 5ds if it were the only new camera they had coming. Instead, they decided to announce it at the beginning February. I’ve talked with Mitch from planet5D quite a bit on the podcast and he seems to be leaning towards a video oriented 5d body coming sooner rather than later.

Canon Rumors has already started posting some possible specs for the next 5d body:

  • 18mp Full Frame CMOS
  • ISO 100-204,800
  • 61 AF Points (all crosstype)
  • 12fps
  • Dual CFast
  • 4K Video Capture

There are a few things to note in this possible spec list. First and probably the most interesting for me is an 18mp Full frame sensor. A smaller megapixel count means larger pixel units, which means better low light performance. This seems to be reflected in the expanded ISO range. The second point is 4k video capture. I find myself shooting 4k video more and more on the Panasonic GH4, but when I need to shoot in a low light setting I end up moving to the 5d mark III or Sony a7s which are both limited to 1080p. While I don’t “need” 4k low light shooting, I kind of want it to round out my kit and i’m already knee deep in Canon lenses.

I think we’ll definitely be seeing a 4k 5d offering from Canon and hopefully the price isn’t as extreme as the 1dc. I think my threshold for a new Canon body is $4000, any more than that and I’ll stick with what I have.


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27Feb DSLR FILM NOOB Podcast Episode 12

Episode 12 of the DFN podcast, Mitch from planet5D joins me to discuss Azden’s 330LT wireless audio system, Saramonic audio adapters, Transcend memory cards, Canon 5d mark IV rumors and more.

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You can find the show notes here. You can find the show on itunes hereSoundcloud, or under the podcast tab above. You can also leave questions on reddit at r/dslr.

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26Feb Aspen Lav and JK MIC-J 044 lav are basically the same

Aspen Lav vs JK lav (1 of 1)

On the left we have the JK MIC-J lav mic and on the right we have the Aspen lav mic. They both look very similar and from a distance it’s hard to tell them apart. The included foam filters are the same for both, as are the tie clips, but there are slight physical differences between the two. I’ll start with those before we get to the audio tests.

First, look at the capsules. You can see that the Aspen lav mic on the right has a slight pinch in the capsule before it tapers off and the mic is slightly longer than the JK MIC-J lav mic. The Aspen lav mic has a slightly thicker cable which makes sense, as it’s wired up a bit differently.

MIC-J (2 of 3)

The JK MIC-J lav mic comes with a Sennheiser style “screw in” sleeve adapter, while the Aspen lav mic comes with a plain jane 3.5mm connector. The cable that comes with the JK MIC-J lav mic is a bit longer, but feels slightly cheaper than the Aspen lav mic.

Most of these are minor differences, but the wiring is notable. The Aspen lav mic and JK MIC-J lav mic are both equipped with a stereo plug, but the Aspen lav is wired so that the audio is fed to both the tip and the ring (left and right channels), while the JK MIC-J lav mic only feeds audio to the tip (left channel).

This isn’t an issue when using a wireless system like the Sennheiser G3, but if does mean that if you are recording audio directly into a Zoom h1, the JK will only supply audio on a single channel, while the Aspen will provide audio to both channels. On the flip side, the Aspen lav has a slightly weaker signal than the JK MIC-J lav mic. I suspect that the slight difference in output level is due to the wiring difference.

Above is the recording from the Aspen lav mic fed directly into the Zoom h1.

And this is the JK MIC-J lav mic fed directly into the Zoom h1.

Aspen Mic monoprice wireless (1 of 5)

I’ve listened to these two mics numerous times and other than the slightly weaker output from the Aspen lav mic, they sound basically identical to my ear. The JK is $29 and the Aspen is $54, other than the tin case and wiring difference, these mic’s are pretty much the same.

So if you want the tin case and find the wiring difference beneficial, spend an extra $25 on the Aspen lav mic, otherwise you may as well by the cheaper JK MIC-J lav mic for $29. Take a listen to the audio samples above and let me know if you disagree/agree with my conclusion. My ears are a bit older so I could be missing something, but I doubt it.

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25Feb Transcend 128GB SDXC card speed test

Transcend 128GB card (1 of 1)

Right now the Transcend 128GB UHS-3 SDXC cards are down to $69. That makes them a pretty decent price for that capacity and claimed speed. The prominently displayed “ULTIMATE” logo on the package proclaims greatness and the “UHS-3″ label is supposed to guarantee a minimum continuous speed of 30MB/s. While Sandisk has taught me to distrust overly enthusiastic adjectives, I still felt the Transcend 128GB SDXC card was worth a look.

Sandisk Extreme Pro 95MBs

First let’s take a look at the competition. This is the test result in CrystalDiskmark from the Sandisk 32GB “extreme pro” SDHC card. At $39.95 a piece the extreme pro’s cost per about $1.25 a GB, which makes them substantially more expensive than Transcend’s 55 cents a GB pricing. For that price you end up with Sequential read speeds of 78MB/s and write speeds of 71MB/s. While it’s not the 90MB/s and 95MB/s that’s advertised, Sandisk does use the modifier “up to” in the description. Even though it’s a ways off from the mark, these read/write speeds are still very respectable.

Transcend 128GB Speed test 1GB writes

Looking at the Transcend 128GB UHS-3 SDXC cards, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the write speed hit 63MB/s. That’s actually higher than the advertised 60MB/s label and the 86MB/s read speed is closer to the advertised speed than the Sandisk card.

The Transcend 128GB UHS-3 SDXC cards might actually be the first card i’ve tested that surpased it’s write speed label. It doesn’t write as fast as the extreme pro, but it also doesn’t make the claim of 95MB/s writes.

I think I’ll be sliding this card into my regular rotation. If the Transcend 128GB SDXC card doesn’t fail or drop out after a few months, I might even buy a couple more. I’ve had pretty good luck with Transcend cards in the past, but I have heard a few horror stories from others. That might be why Transcend is now offering “lifetime warranties” and “free recovery software”. With these speeds, it might be time to give Transcend a second chance.

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25Feb Saramonic SR-AX107 XLR DSLR audio inteface

Saramonic SR-AX107

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a new audio interface on the market so the Saramonic SR-AX107 is a refreshing site. The built in +20dB of gain is a little more than Beachtek’s DXA-SLR and a bit less than the gain provided by the Riggy RM333. It’s interesting that they’ve included an isolation transformer into the design and of course the XLR inputs can supply phantom power.

The Saramonic SR-AX107 design also looks pretty interesting. Large volume knobs on the front, cold shoe mounts on either side, Beachtek style thumb screw, and all of the switches in an easy to get to location.

Saramonic SR-AX107 with camera

At a retail price of $199 the Saramonic SR-AX107 seems to be offering a pretty good bargain. This is the first XLR audio adapter interfaces i’ve actually been excited about since the release of Tascam’s DR-60D. I might have to get one of these in for a review.

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24Feb Azden 330LT UHF Stereo Wireless system Audio test

Azden 325 UPR stereo wireless system (1 of 6)

While I’ve been using this set for awhile, I haven’t really published any audio tests so here’s the first. The audio track below was recorded directly into the Panasonic Gh4 as well as the Canon t2i running magic lantern. I’ve noted this in the audio recording and i’ll also say it right here. For whatever reason the Azden 330LT UHF system is a bit sensitive. If you have both receiver channels turned on, but only one transmitter turned on, you’ll get a horrible crackling noise. If you have both transmitters and receiver channels turned on, you wont have an issue. If you have one receiver channel turned on and one transmitter, you’ll also be fine. So make sure you only turn on both receiver channels if you are using both transmitters.

Take a listen to the audio and what i’m saying will make a little more sense. While the Azden 330LT UHF system isn’t quite as clean and clear as the  Sennheiser G series units I normally use, the audio is still what I would consider decent to good depending on your standards. The noise floor is hanging out around -45db or so and with a noise gate or light noise filtering, it’s completely gone.

Other than converting the audio to MP3 format there hasn’t been any changes made to the Azden 330LT’s audio. Also note that this audio was recorded with the included Azden lav mics which aren’t fantastic. When I put together the full review I’ll demonstrate the unit with the nicer lav mics I normally use as well as the included lav mics so you can get an idea of the difference in quality.

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24Feb DSLR FILM NOOB Podcast Episode 11

DSLR FILM NOOB podcast Episode 11 is up. Devin from impulsenetworks.tv joins me to discus the JVC 4k super35 LS300 price drop, Veydra primes, Sony a7s android app, Dual battery chargers, camera rigs, and more.

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You can find the show notes here. You can find the show on itunes hereSoundcloud, or under the podcast tab above. You can also leave questions on reddit at r/dslr.

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23Feb Azden 330LT UHF Stereo Wireless system – First impressions

Azden 325 UPR stereo wireless system (1 of 6)

I normally use Sennheiser G series wireless units, but I’ve always been attracted to the idea of a dual channel receiver system. While I’m not as excited about the all plastic build of the Azden 330LT UHF system, it is really nice that the system only requires one dual channel receiver on camera instead of trying to find room for two Sennheiser mounts.

Azden 325 UPR stereo wireless system (2 of 6)

The Azden 330LT UHF receiver is a bit on the bulky side, but again you only have to deal with a single unit which makes setup very easy. Looking closer at the receiver it has the option to turn on/off either channel when not in use, this saves on battery power, which helps when running on 2 AA batteries. The Azden receiver can also be powered by a 6 volt barrel plug if you have a battery system and it’s nice that Azden gives you those kinds of options.

Azden 325 UPR stereo wireless system (3 of 6)

Azden’s 35BT transmitters are a pretty standard affair, plastic build, a little chunky, and the controls are only slightly easier to use than the Sennheiser G series units. The transmitters are powered by 2x AA batteries and volume adjustments are actually made with a plastic screwdriver which is a little wanky. Build quality overall is about the same as the Shure FP units that were released last year. It isn’t amazing but it isn’t horrible, just middle of the line thick plastic. I don’t think you’d have a problem with durability as long as they aren’t abused.

Azden 325 UPR stereo wireless system (5 of 6)

The included Lav mics are kind of junky and almost comically over sized. Early on I tried to use them, but honestly they kind of suck. While you can use them to record audio and they do work, the included Azden lav mics are something you’ll want to upgrade whenever your budget allows. There’s a reason you can buy these chunky lavs for $20, because that’s about what they are worth.

Azden 325 UPR stereo wireless system (4 of 6)

Azden does provide a nice case for the 330LT UHF system and plenty of connectors. The kit includes a 3.5mm to dual XLR adapter as well as a stereo cable so that you can plug it directly into your DSLR. The system is pretty handy for interviews and it’s nice that you don’t necessarily need an XLR adapter system to get this thing up and running. While I’m not a huge fan of the build quality, the dual channel capability of the 330LT UHF system make it pretty handy.

Azden 325 UPR stereo wireless system (6 of 6)

I’ve been using the 330LT UHF system for a number of jobs and I’ve been carrying it around in the provided case. You’ll notice there are no labels on the package and that’s because I took them off after the first shoot. While the box is great, have a big flag on the case that screams “dual channel wireless system” makes it an easy target for theft. I still have it, but the first project I took it on, someone got all the way to the parking lot before someone stopped them and asked them what they were up to. A black box is definitely more discreet than a brightly labeled box.

I’ll have some more on the 330LT UHF system once I have a chance to put together a full review. Spoiler, i’ve been using it for 6 months and I haven’t put it on ebay, so it’s not to bad.

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23Feb Should the Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 lens be the next on my list?

Oymplus 40-150 f2.8 pro

I have two lenses left on my M4/3 list to buy, the 60mm f2.8 macro and this beast born of Olympus (that sounds epic), the 40-150mm f/2.8 lens. Although I have the Panasonic 35-100mm f2.8 in my collection, I always find myself wanting a little more reach and when i’m pulling focus I really enjoy the hard stops I get on my Olympus 12-40mm f2.8. While the Panasonic 35-100mm f2.8 has IS, the fly by wire system makes it a bit trick to pull focus.

With the 40-150mm your 35mm equivalent on this guy is 80-300 and with the optional 1.4X Teleconverter you’re looking at about a f4 112-420mm full frame equivalent zoom range. I know that might seem a little extreme, but once you get used to shooting with that much reach, you start to really rely on it. Plus the 27.6 inch minimum focal distance on this thing would be fantastic for extreme closeups.

Currently i’m debating on either a Second Panasonic GH4 body or the Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 lens. I’m hesitant to invest in a second GH4 until I see whats coming from Panasonic and Olympus at NAB and I don’t really “need” the 40-150mm f2.8, but it would be a nice addition to my kit.

The only negative comment I’ve found about the Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 lens in reviews is the $1400 price tag and that’s usually followed by something like “it’s well worth the price”. Have any of you had a chance to shoot with this guy?

I know this lens is consider very large when compared to other M4/3 lenses, but its only 6.3 inches long which is only slightly longer than a Tamron 24-70 full frame lens. When shooting video I’d most likely have the Olympus locked down on a tripod but do you think I could get awhile with this for hand held photography without image stabilization? My Canon 70-200 f2.8 IS is a beast to shoot with when the image stabilization is off but the Olympus 40-150mm is significantly lighter and shorter than that monster.

I’m kind of thinking out loud here. I might have to see if I can get a loaner in for review or rent one to decide if I really want to spend $1400 on the Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 lens. It really does look like a sexy lens.


21Feb Watson Pearstone Duo LCD battery charger

Watson double charger (5 of 6)

A number of you asked about the battery charger I mentioned in the last podcast. Basically the tick is to buy one of the cheaper Watson or Pearstone versions for $39 or $19 respectively and then pick up the battery plates you need for the batteries you use. Depending on the battery charger you select this will save you between $40 and $60 compared to the normal option.

The battery plates are easy to change out and the charger is made pretty well. I’ve been using mine for more than a year now without any issue. As I mentioned in the podcast, some people have reported a high pitch hum coming from the Pearstone version. I’ve never had a problem with mine, but it could be that the frequency is just to high from me to pick out. So keep that in mind if you are sensitive to coil hum. Other than that $19 + maybe $10 for a hand full of battery plates and you’ll get a great price on a pretty decent charger.

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