Archive for category Reviews

Sony HDR AS100 action cam

Today a review from the Sony HDR-AS100 action cam.
As you know from me I will give you my opinion, no resolution charts, no pixel peeping, just the way I use it and my opinion.

 

As most of you know I love to be active during my free time and one of the things I love to do is mountain biking (or just biking), we live in a nice area for biking and often I’m asked online if I can show some of the routes I bike, one could of course do this by taken some photos (which I normally also do) but it’s more fun if you can see the video right? So it was time to get a so called Action Cam, now one thing I noticed from myself is that although I claim to be not brand loyal I went to the store and asked not for an action cam but for a GoPro Hero4……

 

In the past I bought a GoPro because everyone told me it was the best action camera out there, and to be honest it was a very nice camera although I had to add a lot of extras like the display and still I could not really see what I was doing in bright sunlight (by the way this is all a non issue with the new generation), also when we watch a movie and you see action cam sequences the first thing we say is “GoPro” now this is actually quite good for GoPro, it means they did their work and marketing VERY well, it’s a bit like GoPro for a lot of people is the same as action cam so if you buy one… it’s not an action cam but a GoPro… so also with me.

 

The store I bought my camera was Tuerlings in Tilburg, they helped us out with the Scott Kelby Photowalk this year and they sold the GoPro’s so I thought it would be nice to buy it from them. Now one thing I have to say about Tuerlings, this is the kind of shop you want to buy gear, their staff is very knowledgable and friendly and they really give you a VERY good and solid advice, as I was about to find out.

 

As soon as I told the salesperson about what I wanted to do with my GoPro/Action cam he immediately said that I would be much better off with the Sony HDR AS100. At first I was a bit stunned… Sony? as an action cam? I’ve been shooting Sony photo cameras for a while now but I never (to be honest) even looked at their action cams. Thanks to Tuerlings I got the guarantee that if I did not liked the camera I could bring it back, no questions asked, and exchange it for a GoPro. Well in that case…..

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The camera itself
I hate to bore you with all the specs but here we go :
Very good Zeiss lens
Up to 50mb/s video (XAV S or MP4)
120 AND 240 fps action freezing motion video (slow motion that is)
Natural and vivid colorsettings
GPS
Wrist remote control and display
Splash water proof
Easy menu
Stereo sound
Wifi and NFC
Underwater color balance
170 degrees lens without steady shot and 120 degrees with steady shot
Steadyshot
1920×1080 at a max of 60 fps
720P at a max of 120 fps
800×480 at a max of 240 fps
Microphone input
HDMI output
Several Photo (13.5MP) options like interval, burst, time-lapse, motionshot LE,

 

The camera itself is very small and compared to the GoPro’s I actually like the form factor from Sony a lot more, the menus are really easy to navigate, although I would have liked to have format a bit more easily accessible. The main thing I love about the Sony is the splash water proof, this means you can just use the camera without it’s housing on your bike (car or whatever) without the fear of it getting wet, and because there is no casing the sound and image quality is optimal, one thing I don’t like is the way the microSD card is mounted, this can be either way and one would expect that it would only fit one way. Also I had some trouble finding the right MicroSD card, but when I got the correct one in the mail from Tuerlings it actually worked right away, so beware of this make sure you buy a card with the camera.

 

Battery life is ok but nothing more, on the other hand I think it’s a limitation of all cameras that run with tiny accupacks, I get app 2 hours out of a battery with GPS and wifi enabled, with wifi off it should last a lot longer, GPS I don’t want to turn off because I actually love this feature. It’s great to see where you biked and in the Sony software you can even overlay the GPS information in the video, the quality of the video does take a hit (hardly noticeable on most material)  but it looks pretty cool so let’s hope they will fix that later on.

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The image stabilization is a BIG BIG advantage.
Of course you can do this later in Premiere or Final Cut Pro but to have it in camera is in my opinion always best, especially when filming a few hours of material. Now you can always argue if image stabilization is the reason to buy the Sony so let’s see if there is more…. because there is.

 

We already talked about GPS but what’s the most important thing about a camera?
Of course…. the image quality.
And I can be very very short about this one, the Sony is absolutely awesome, the GoPro might have 4K in the most expensive version but the dynamic range and color rendition of the Sony really surprised me, now I have to be honest that I did not have the opportunity to compare the two next to each other but also when you read reviews online the Sony wins hands down on pure image quality and I can only say that for an action cam I was pleasantly surprised about the quality.

 

The vivid color mode is… well ok vivid, I like it and I use it for my bike rides, however if I want serious image quality I will switch to the natural looking color setting which is indeed much more natural of course and is easily tuned in your editing software. Most of all however I am impressed by the dynamic range of the camera and it’s ability to operate at very little light, again I don’t have a GoPro4 here to compare but the Sony does incredibly well in low light situations. I made a small video tour of our studio handholding the camera and using image stabilization and the on board microphone which you can see here, and trust me… the studio was pretty dark.

As you can see the Sony did really well and this was actually one of the reasons we wanted to get a new action cam, my old GoPro was very bad in low light situations.

 

As expected it’s best to choose the setting 50 (or 60fps) for recording anything with movement, I tried a few videos on 25/30 just for testing and the image jumps around way too much, on 50/60 it’s very very smooth and the added image stabilization almost gives you the idea that you are seeing a glide cam, the next clip is actually me riding my bike with the camera mounted on the handle bars (not the perfect place for shocks, realize that parts of this route are off road and VERY bumpy. The video is sped up but you get a pretty good idea I think about some of the tricky lighting situations and the overal image quality. I did had to compress the heck out of the video so don’t mind the lack of detail, we had a very slow connection where I uploaded this (even slower than in the studio) and the video was never intended to be used for a review, but I do like to show it because you can see the way the Sony handles the lighting and stabilization.

 

Cases and holder
When I posted online I got the Sony the first few responses were mostly from people telling me I made a huge mistake and I would never ever be able to get all the accessories that GoPro has etc. Well I can be very short in this regard…. even if I couldn’t…. who cares…. as long as you can find the accessories and mounts YOU need, in my case the car and my bike, it’s ok right?

 

What people often don’t realize is that GoPro indeed has a huge amount of mounts and accessories, but don’t worry…. Sony sells a convertor which makes it possible to mount your Sony action cam on the GoPro accessories.

 

The wrist remote
This I really really love.
With the Sony package I got a wrist remote was included, at first you might think “well let’s skip that one” especially because the Sony is (like most other modern Sony cams) compatible with my iPhone app for Sony and shows you the image on your smartphone (also Android) however you have to start the app, make connection etc. The wrist remote works like a charm, connection is made in seconds and you can see what the camera does and start/stop recording all from your wrist. Because most action cams don’t have an LCD display (which also doesn’t really make sense) it’s always hard to adjust them exactly the way you want it. I used the LCD backpack on my GoPro but never really liked it, it did make it easier but especially in bright sunlight it was hardly visible and it was still a matter of guess work. The new GoPro’s have way better integration with remotes and smart devices but I absolutely love the wrist control.

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Conclusion
The Sony action cam is awesome, the image quality is in my personal opinion incredibly good. I love the added GPS and the wrist remote/LCD screen, the image stabilization rocks (well actually it prevents that) and overal the package is incredibly well thought out and very very nice. The included software is ok, for people not familiar with editing software like final cut or premiere it will be more than adequate and adding GPS information is loads of fun.

 

Overall I’m incredibly happy I went for the Sony instead of the GoPro, the 4K from the GoPro did got my interest (we own a 4K projector) but in the end I thought the other features from the Sony were more important for what I’m using the material for and I’m glad I did.

 

Many thanks to Foto Tuerlings in Tilburg for giving me the right advise, if you live in that are make sure to check them out.

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http://www.sony.net/Products/actioncam/en-us/?j-short=ActionCam

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Triggertrap review

Let me start of by saying I’m not really the kind of person that works from a tripod, but… as many of you probably recognize I’m always traveling with one and not using it, UNTILL that day you don’t travel with one… and you need it, that’s the story for me with tripods. It’s also the reason why at the moment I’m looking for a good carbon one…… well actually the reason is my Triggertrap, sounds weird right? until you read this review.

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I’ve been seeing very positive reviews on the Triggertrap all over the net so I was very curious to test one out myself, because I’m shooting Sony I was very happy to hear that Triggertrap actually had a version for both my A7r and A99 (well done Triggertrap), now don’t get me wrong I LOVE shooting Sony but one of the frustrations is that a lot of companies simply don’t have accessories for Sony, take for example Camranger, this is a product I’m very interested in and I’ve been bugging them for years now to support Sony, the answer is always…. “next time we see each other”… and that’s well…. still not working (great product by the way) so back on topic…. Triggertrap does have a Sony version, and as soon as I got them in I started testing.

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Sony RX100 MKIII review part I

One of the most fun things to do is test new cameras, and although the RX100 MKIII has been on the market for some months it never caught my eye. Let me first explain why…

 

I’m very happy with my Sony A7r, in fact it’s the best camera I ever used, it’s small and it delivers a stunning quality. However there are always situations where you don’t want to bring a camera but you do want to take pictures sometimes, normally I will use my iPhone and although the images are great (for a phone) it’s exactly as I said, they are ok for a phone….. And yeah I know there are some amazing shots online made by iPhones and I can pull that off too… if the situation is 100% right, but in most cases it simply is not the case, so you will need a “little” bit more power. Because the last few months we’ve been traveling around a lot the idea of a small iPhone alternative camera grew and grew and during Photokina I did start “shopping around”. I always loved the Fuji cameras so the X30 would have been a good option, however I’m also very much in love with the dynamic range and looks of the Sony cameras and thats when I found the RX100 MKIII, of course I knew they were there but I never held one, and it was a bit of a shock to see how small they are….

 

Here you see it next to Annewieks iPhone with Mophie case.
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Leaf Credo 50 user review

One of the things I absolutely love to do is testing new gear, especially when it gives the photographer totally new options which were not possible before.

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As you probably know I’m shooting different systems.
I always tell people that I will use DSLRs for when I don’t really can control the lighting, or if I need higher ISOs and Medium Format when I can use strobes or if there is more then enough ambient light. The simple reason for this is that Medium Format (although a superior format) is not really usable above ISO400 (some even ISO200). But this has now all changed.

 

Sony makes some amazing sensors and since a while they also have a 50MP semi Medium Format sensor, I say semi Medium Format because in reality it’s a crop sensor for Medium Format, now is this a bad thing? no not really but personally I love to use a full frame sensor, that being said….. man does this sensor rock.

 

When Leaf asked me to test this back the idea was that I could use it for a few days during a session and had to send it back, however I got so attached to the back that I kept sending them images and they let me keep the back for a much longer time, actually ALL the images you saw appearing online from our trip through Denmark were all shot with this back and that’s something that I would not be able to do with my Credo60 for the simple reason that I would also need a DSLR for the higher ISO material and traveling with 2 cameras is… well just a bit awkward sometimes so I often opt for the DSLR, however seeing that I can now easily shoot up to ISO3200 and even ISO6400 makes a HUGE difference.

 

Now there will be many reviews about the technical stuff and the specs so I thought “let’s make a much simpler user based review”, I will do this from both the viewpoint of a DSLR user and a MF user.

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Tonality from MacPhun video

One of the things I always love it playing with new software, being it plugins or apps, it’s always nice to see if a piece of software can give you a boost in workflow or simply give you a new/better/faster way to make your images stand out.

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Now there are some great BW converters out there, I love Alien Skin Exposure, SilverFx and DxO filmpack so when the guys from MacPhun asked me to testrun their newest app called Tonality (in base a BW convertor) I was very curious what they could add to the market with their app, but after some weeks of test-driving Tonality I can tell you that it ROCKS, the interface is very easy to understand but most of all the options you have to really custom make the look you want for your image is awesome. I’m 100% sure you’re gonna love it.


As with all MacPhun software it’s for Mac only, it will work as a plugin in for Lr, Photoshop but also as a standalone.


You can order it here :
https://secure.avangate.com/order/checkout.php?PRODS=4626017&QTY=1&AFFILIATE=59677&CART=1


Congratulations to our buddies at MacPhun for releasing another awesome app.

 

And here is my video on Tonality Pro.
As you can see I don’t use the layers option, this is something I do use in Photoshop, but if you want it in the software it’s there.

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IceLight review

Today a small review on a speciale piece of lighting kit, the Westcott Ice Light.
Let’s first look at what it is…
Annewiek called it my short lightsabre and I have to be honest, it does remind me of one :D
Here you see one in action in the shot.

Chantal Juni 25 2014 161 1

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California Sunbounce

I love to play with light, being it ambient light, strobes big or small or whatever as long as I can tell my story I’m happy.
I always tell people that we as photographers are story tellers and light is our language, one can of course just put some words together to make oneself clear but one could also work like a poet and really play with the words. For photographers this translates in just using light to show something, or play with light and create something beautiful.

 

On location it’s not always handy to bring strobes and when you already have a  great looking set and model and plenty of light it’s often even better to just go for the natural light, but…. that being said I always like to work with accents, fill in etc. In the past I’ve used different reflectors for fill in and some extra accents but I never really was super excited about what I could do with them creatively…. that was until I got a California sunbounce from a friend, this thing is awesome.

 

I’m using a larger version and actually only use the silver side to really throw some light in the scene, in fact they are so powerful that one day by accident (yeah Frank) I pointed it inside the studio from outside and Annewiek came running out to see what was going on, the whole studio was brightly lit :D, they are for that matter also not perfect for your models, often the models feel a lot of heat in the burning sun and looking into the light… well it’s not something you will do for pleasure (so counting down 3-2-1 open eyes) will work pretty well.

 

The thing I love about the California Sunbounce I use is that it’s very easy to travel with and assembles pretty fast, but most off all when it’s in the sun…. it REALLY bounces the light. Of course I can write 1000’s words about it, but what about just showing some images I shot during the workshop at Great Fosters in the UK, all were shot with Natural light and the California Sunbounce. You’ve seen the images before but I wanted to tell you a little bit more about the Sunbounce and these images show my point best I think.

 

All images are 100% natural light, and as you can see the pop and accents the Sunbounce give really mimics the way I would normally use strobes in these situations, but Annewiek likes this a lot more :D So if you’re shooting a lot with natural light and travel light, check out the California Sunbounce products.

9 Juni 2014 Marie 0025 1

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