Pentax Optio WG-II + Final Cut Pro X – Review

posted on 2012.07.04, under bugs, Gear, insects, Macro, Reviews

I shot these photos on the new Pentax Optio WG II with GPS.   The he camera dazzled me and we had a great three days.  After 3 days I imported the photos and video into my Mac Book Air, via Aperture 3.

The water proof, macro, high-speed video (+ dozens of other features,) Pentax camera did a good job.   With a little bit of help from Aperture 3 and Final Cut Pro X, the images became presentable.

It is not a DSLR.  The camera is compact and affordable.  It is, what it is.  The camera really does a GREAT job with macro shooting, including several built-in LED lights for the “1CM” mode.   The high-speed mode is spectacular, offering an equivalent of 120 frames a second.  Water proof, hell yeah!  It worked perfect in the thunder-storm I was caught in yesterday.

The camera is light compared to the DSLRs I am used to carrying.  I carry a camera all the time, and with this dedication I also expect the camera to perform to pro-levels.  The Pentax is not a “pro” camera although it is a viable tool for a professional.  It is a versatile tool with a special place in my heart because of its variety of macro modes- including high-speed shooting and built-in LED lights.  This makes getting photos while 1 centimeter away from your subject easy.  Shooting insects at a distance of 1 centimeter at 120 frames a second is good stuff!  Play back on the camera’s LED is beautiful.

The video is web friendly and the photos are acceptable for basic capture.  There is no raw mode and the images are far from Canon 5D material.

I used Final Cut Pro X for the first time.  I edited, from the field, on a 2012, 2GHZ, i7, 8GB, 1600 MHZ, 13 inch Mac Book Air. I have owned more than 20 Macs since 1984.  I have been chained to a 17 inch lap top for 4 or 5 years (traveled to 70+ countries).  This 13 inch Mac Book Air, FCP X and Aperture 3 combination is AMAZING.  I have directed/produced/edited more than a thousand projects including 3 feature films and dozens of TV shows, this set up it the bee’s knees.  Don’t hesitate to make the switch to the Mac Air and FCP X.   I watched tutorials on youtube and was able to pick it up in a day.

Back to the Pentax – If you love macro photography, this camera is a must.  The slow motion feature is a treat.   If you love cameras and want a small affordable camera that does it ALL, this is the camera for you.  The video was cleaned up in FCP X.  I was not happy about the footage at first, but with minor tweaks in FCP X, I think the piece turned out nice for 680×480.

The photos below were captured with a Samsung Galaxy note.   I was shooting this grasshopper and he decided to on board the camera.







posted on 2012.03.03, under Canon 5D Mark II, portraits, Reviews, Uncategorized

Shot with the Canon 8-15mm lens.
I really don’t like the distortion around the edges and regret using this lens.
I own this lens but rarely use it.  It is not a “sharp” lens.



Glidecam HD-1000 review

posted on 2011.07.22, under Reviews

I don’t own the Glidecam HD-1000, but while shooting at the CrossFit Regionals in Manchester, England, I ran into a fellow filmmaker, Ágúst Sigurjónsson and he was kind enough to give me a quick interview and share some footage he shot with the Glidecam HD-1000.  This was his first time using the Glidecam and he was already pretty comfortable with the gear.

My biggest concern when using this type of device for verite, documentary style shooting is access to the cameras features, while rolling.  Most importantly, is the access to the focus ring especially when shooting at low aperture.

The first video is my interview with Ágúst Sigurjónsson and the second video is some test footage with the Glidecam HD-1000.

Meeting the “Philip Bloom” Community

posted on 2011.07.15, under HDR Photos, Photos, Reviews, Time Lapse, Video

Yes, an entire community has formed around this cat, Philip Bloom.  I was in the UK shooting the CrossFit European Regional ( you know I love CrossFit) and I just happened to be flying into London at 2pm, the same day Mr. Bloom was having a party at 6:30PM.

This particular meet up was focused on HDR time lapse photography.

Philip was extremely generous with his time and one on one attention.  The crowd was large.  It felt like there were 100 people, but it was probably  more like 60.  Most of the people were young men carrying tripods and Canon cameras.  Everyone was nice.  Even the guy who “knew everything” (there is always one of these guys) was nice.   The community around Philip is a genuine geeked out cine posse.

I did not exchange more than 50 words with Philip, but it was still worth the 4 hours of my life.   I met good people and Philip was great.

Here is a quick video I threw together.  The footage shows Philip walking us through an HDR time lapse.   The video is about 12 minutes of a candid one shot.

Yes, if Philip is in your hood, you should go see him.  You can’t miss him, he will be the biggest presence in the room and have the funny accent.

I met a great lad named Chris Watts and this is his video from the “meet up”.

And a couple photos from the event.  If you want more photos of gear that was used at the meet up, click here.  Thanks Phillip!





World Largest Apple Store and the best portable hard drive

posted on 2011.07.10, under Canon 5D Mark II, Gear, HDR Photos, Reviews

I enjoy going to Apple stores.  In every city I go to, I just like to visit the local Apple Store.  This particular store surprised me. London Covent Garden Store, is the largest Apple store on the planet.   Well, that’s what the employees tell me, and it is huge.  The employees at this location were extremely nice and open to taking photos. If you are in London, you must check this place out.

On a side note, it is a shame that Apple stores do not sell this hard drive – Lacie 1TB Little Big Disk, which in my experience is the best portable video editing drive around.  Nothing comes close, and I have owned and used at least 50, 1 TB portable drives.

I have not used Thunderbolt yet, although my laptop has the port.  I am not sure if I will use Thunderbolt drives if they are not compatible with my desk top, which does not have a Thunderbolt port.

Zeiss 50mm Makro from Duclos Lens


Yes, this lens is good.  Yes, it has a look that is obviously different from the Canon glass.  Click here to see the price list from Duclos.  This is a Zeiss, lens made for Nikon cameras that has been modified for Canon EOS.

The lens has no auto focus, and at f/2.0 getting sharp focus is lucky, I mean a skill that needs to be worked on.  I have been shooting in AV mode 50% of the time (aperture priority mode) when using this lens.  Normally, I shoot all manual exposure settings and auto focus when using Canon lens.  But, I wanted to free mind up from exposure concerns and give the focus ring my complete attention.

Video is coming very soon.

I shot these three people on the streets of Vancouver, Canada.

photo stats
Canon 5D
Zeiss ZF Nikon Mount 50mm 2.0
I don’t know what the f-stop was when I shot these.  I am going to guess around 4 – 5.6

A bit of history on the subjects.

The guy on the left was sitting at Starbucks on Robson in Vancouver.  Actually, there was a beautiful woman sitting in a chair and I started to snap some photos of her, then this guy rolled up and sat with her.  So, I snapped a few photos of him too.  He was a bit shy, yet photogenic.  He is a filmmaker/animator in Vancouver.

The guy in the middle was sitting at a Tim Horton’s next to three police officers and still offered to sell me hash or marijuana in 10 dollar increments, “really good stuff”.  He was a nice guy, a bit difficult to understand.  The police seemed to be aware that he was peddling produce, but were non-reactive.  I did not buy any weed, but I snapped a few great photos of the lad.

The lady on the far right, was watching a giant monitor on a Vancouver street.  The screen was being watched by thousands of Vancouverians as they watched their beloved Canucks get whooped in game 6 of the Stanley Cup.  I asked her if I could snap a few photos and she graciously accepted.




posted on 2011.06.13, under Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 7D, LUMIX, Reviews, Video

A friend of mine turned me on to this little gem of a camera.  This is a light weight, solution to DSLR shooting.  The LUMIX GH2 and its accessories are so easy to carry around compared to 7D or the 5D.  You can have three lens, 5 batteries and two GH2 cameras, in 1/4 the room you could have the equivalent in Canon gear.   Now, the picture quality is not the same, but it is the light weight solution.

I also think the Sennheiser MKE 400, when used properly is an excellent mic.  When pointed directly at the subject at 0-5 feet in range, the results are above adequate.

This is a simple shooting set up with results that I have not seen matched for its size.

This site - has some great photos that were snapped with the GH2.



Gitzo Tripod Head

posted on 2011.06.08, under Gear, Reviews

Yes, I would like to give this bad boy a test drive.  I watched the video, it just doesn’t give me enough information.   The video is more like a movie trailer.  I don’t want hype, I want to see usefulness, applicability, functionality and real world application.  Instead, this video just peaks my interest.  If the head was only $300, peaking my interest, it would be enough to make the purchase.  But the head is $10,000.  So, I have to say – hey Gitzo, send me one of these heads so I can test drive it and make you a real world video.