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.






Canon 24mm, the “GO TO” lens

posted on 2011.11.25, under Canon 5D Mark II, Gear, HDR Photos, landscape, Lens, Photos

The Canon 24mm lens is the most reliable and versatile lens I own.  I like the 16-35, as a “go to” lens, and it is a great lens, but the 24mm has a unique look.

I get great video and photos on both the Canon 5D and the 7D with the 24.   For shooting in low light, it can’t be beat.

Here is a Thanksgiving landscape shot in Benicia, California.

Canon 5D
ISO 100
HDR – 8 photos




The best portable hard drive

posted on 2011.09.01, under Gear

I have more than 60 portable hard drives.  45 of these drives are fire wire, the other 5 were given to me.   There is only one great portable drive, and it is this drive -

I know this is a bold statement,  but I see people giving other portable drives props on the internet and they just don’t compare to this LaCie

When choosing a portable drive, you don’t want a FAN.  A fan on a portable drive is a bad sign.  It means that the drive is going to crash sooner rather than later.  The drive will stop working and the drive will die.  I have never had a LaCie portable fail on me and I have taken these drives to 60+ countries including the harshest places on the planet

Unfortunately the APPLE store sells some the industries worst 1TB portable drives.  You will need to order this drive from B&H.

If you are doing work that is valuable to you then use this drive - LACIE 1TB


Ancient Church Video

posted on 2011.07.19, under Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 7D, Gear, Lens, Video

Just up the hill from my Dad’s house in Ushi, Armenia, there is an old 13th Century Church.  It was a church, and I guess it is still a church.  It is busted up a bit, but considering it is 700+ years old, it looks pretty cool.  I was the only one around during filming.  It was a bit eerie.

I shot hand held using mostly the 16-35 on the Canon 5D. There are two tripod shots and one or two shots with the Canon 70-200.  I spent about 90 minutes hiking up/down the hill and filming.  I spent another 90 minutes assembling, another 90 minutes rendering/uploading to youtube on my lap top.  I am guessing a total of 270 minutes on a short 1 man production like this.

Here is a video showing the equipment I took up the hill with me.

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.

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.

Gear and Geek photos – “the other guys rig”

posted on 2011.06.05, under Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 7D, Gear

If you like to look at gear, and see what the “other guys” are rocking, then this photo bonanza is for you.  These are pictures of gear, I snapped at a recent Phillip Bloom gathering in London.  More video and pictures soon.