Beer Lab Review in Nimmanhaemin, Chiang Mai!

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This is my 3rd week in Chiang Mai, Thailand and mostly I’ve been eating out at Western/American places along with a bit of Thai food since I cannot have spicy Thai food everyday.

One of my new favorite places to go at Nimmanhaemin district in Chiang Mai, Thailand is the Beer Lab.  This place has a great selection of your favorite beer from all over the world including America, Europe, Asia, and much more.  They do have some nice selection of draft beer on tap and I got to try out some nice German unfiltered beer.

Now since I have my family here with me on my trip, I usually like to go to places that also serve food and boy am I glad I found the Beer Lab.  They don’t have a big selection of food but they serve some great steaks to go along with your beer.

Price is definitely one of the highest you will find but the atmosphere is definitely worth it and this is a place for those of you who want to have a good time, not those of you backpackers on a budget.

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This is the page with all the current draft beer.

 

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On my first day, I tried one of the steaks, I think this is the Prime Rib.  Now, I ordered medium rare and I do recommend ordering medium if you actually want medium rare as it was a bit too rare on the sides.  But overall very good steaks!

 

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In my last trip to Barcelona, Spain, I drank a lot of Voll Damm, which is Spanish beer and I was so glad they had it here so I can try it without a trip back to Spain.

 

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Beer Lab is huge with lots of seats.  They get busy starting around 8PM and if you are coming with a family, just come early around 6-7PM and there’s plenty of seats including a few air-conditioned seats inside.

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They’ve got literally beers from all over the world.  They don’t have my favorite American beer like Blue Moon, Sierra Nevada, or Anchor Steam but the selection is great along with plenty of draft beer to enjoy.

 

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They’ve got some excellent cocktails also, this one is “Lady Lychee” served with dry ice to keep it cool so you can enjoy it surely and slowly.

 

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My daughter had a blast playing with the dry ice from the cocktail (obviously).

 

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My daughter Peony ordered the burger, which she rated 7 out of 10, which is really good score since she is a tough food critic and has pretty high tastes for an 8-year old (mostly because her father spoiled her with good food).

 

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On my second trip, I ordered the other steak (I forget what it’s called) but I loved it.  This time I ordered it “medium” and came out a perfect American “medium rare”.  So juicy and yummy.  not quite up to the standards of America but for Thailand, very very good and delicious.

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I also got to try some of the special cocktail of the month, the Ghost Rider which has fireball coming out of some fruit.

Overall, I would highly recommend the Beer Lab for anyone who wants to enjoy some young vibes/atmosphere in Nimmanhaemin, great beer selection, and bar food to go along with it.   Oh yeah, they also do accept American Express which is great for me since I hate using cash in Thailand as my U.S. banks charge me $8 surcharge every time I take money out of the ATM.

Note: These reviews are purely my own opinions, I find reviews on Trip Advisor are sometimes not very accurate and filled with fake reviews.   But I do agree review of Beer Lab on Trip Advisor seems pretty accurate on this one, which is how I found this place.  I will try to keep updating my blog often with my own experiences so you can find more good places to eat in Chiang Mai.

I used my Nexus 6P for all the photos in this blog post, I love my 6P!

Rimping Supermarket in Chiang Mai!

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If you need to get some international/western food such as some pasta, beer from Europe, or even Korean noodles/snacks, one of the best places to go in Chiang Mai is Rimping supermarket.  They have about 6 different locations throughout different parts of Chiang Mai (including one inside MAYA mall near Nimmanhaemin Rd.) and they have great selection of freshly baked bread (I get the baguette every morning for my sandwiches which is baked fresh every morning but make sure to go before noon as they sell out quick and they don’t make them in the afternoons), fresh fruits, and fresh meat if you like to barbeque your own steaks.

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You can also find many American/international household items.

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They have great selection of ham, prosciutto, sausages from Europe and locally made.  My favorite is the spicy Bangkok Ham, which is ham with Thai peppers inside, makes great for spicy sandwiches, I eat it like every day it’s so good.

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Cheese selection is also very good, they sell all types of cheese from Europe and locally made to satisfy your cheesy appetite.  I usually pick up a few blocks of mozzarella cheese and shred my own for making pizza at home.  They do sell shredded mozzarella too but they are usually not fresh and best to buy blocks as it’s also much cheaper.

For pizza dough, you can make your own dough or you can grab the mediterranean frozen all-purpose dough.

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Pet food?  Yes, I grabbed a bunch of dog food for my dog here, they mostly got Pedigree for American brand but they have enough selection to keep your pets happy.

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If you are into fish, you can find great selection of fish here also.

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Want to cook your own steaks at home?  No worries, grab fresh beef just like in America.  Prices are not bad considering dollar goes a long ways recently in Thailand.

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Of course, if you love fruit like durian or any local Thai fruit, Rimping sells the most fresh fruit.  Even local Thais prefer buying them at Rimping due to freshness.  I can’t stand the gaseous smell of durian back at home in the U.S. but durian in Thailand is super fresh, there’s zero gaseous smell and surprisingly now I enjoy eating durian.

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Of course, all Thai groceries and 7-11 have selling hours for alcohol.  You can only buy alcohol between 11AM to 2PM or 5PM to midnight.  Best way is to always get more alcohol than you need in case next time you get stuck at 2AM needing to get some and finding you can’t buy it.

And also be aware of Buddhist Day, the day you cannot buy any alcohol during that whole day!  It happened to me once a few years ago in Bangkok and I had the most sober day of my life.  It doesn’t mean you can’t drink alcohol that day, they just don’t sell any so just stock up the day before and you should be fine.

The Food Factory at Kad Farang!


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For those of you who want to try some fusion food, one of my favorite places to go in Chiang Mai, Thailand is Kad Farang, which has a lot of restaurants made for westerners.   This place isn’t as touristy as downtown and many of the local foreigners who live here go.

Anyways, today I checked out The Food Factory, which sells Thai/European fusion food.   Surprisingly, I ordered the Thai style spaghetti with seafood which I really liked.  While many spaghetti dishes served in Thailand are a bit on the thick side, this dish tasted really light while giving me some spicy flavor of Thai food.

As someone who lives in the U.S., I do enjoy Thai food ofte  but not prefer to eat it on a daily basis as your stomach needs some time to get used to.

This spaghetti dish was perfect for the occasion, also the seafood was very fresh, not the frozen type.

Also if you are trying to find a place where they sell both westerner and Thai food, this place may be perfect as your Thai wife will be able to enjoy good Thai food while you enjoy some fusion food that is easy on your stomach.

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Lastly but not least, having air conditioning is certainly one of my requirements to a good restaurant since my body is not used to this weather.  The Food Factory has great AC and it’s really a hidden gem that is literally hiding at the back part of Kad Farang.  So definitely give this place a go when you are fiening for Thai European fusion food.

Google Maps doesn’t have a location of this place as it’s brand new but it’s right next to Thin Thin Pizza in Kad Farang.

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Smoothie Blues Chiang Mai – Best Breakfast in Nimmanhaemin!

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Looking for American-style breakfast on Nimmanhaemin Road in Chiang Mai, Thailand?  If so, you may want to check out Smoothie Blues.  While the name of the place sounds like they only sell smoothies, I found out in my recent stay at Nimmanhaemin area that Smoothie Blues sell a ton of other stuff like American style breakfast, Mexican breakfast, sandwiches, salads, and much more.

This is probably my 3rd year visiting Nimmanhaemin and I am so glad I found a great breakfast such as Smoothie Blues.   On my first day, I ordered a breakfast Panini, which was absolutely delicious with taste you wouldn’t believe you are in Thailand.

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I didn’t order the below breakfast burritos (will try next time I go) but it does look pretty delicious.

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They had pancake with scrambled egg inside which was very interesting, most dishes also serve with small salad.

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Don’t like heavy meal?  Then try their breakfast oatmeal with fruit which is definitely one of the best in Chiang Mai.

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Smoothie Blues is located in the center of Nimmanhaemin Road right next to 7-11 so it is really easy to find.  (Click Here for Google Maps)

Also, just another tip for travelers in Chiang Mai, a lot of restaurants with 5 stars on TripAdvisor are mainly filled with fake reviews or tourist traps so I would not rely on TripAdvisor to find good food.  Unlike my experience with Yelp back at home in SF Bay Area, TripAdvisor has been pretty much hit-and-miss every time as many restaurants I checked out were nowhere near what TripAdvisor indicated.

Best way to experience Chiang Mai is really to try different restaurants yourself.  And an easy way to tell if a restaurant is good is to see how many customers are eating there when you enter.  Just avoid any restaurants that are empty or you just have a bad feeling about it.   Some of these places are tourist traps and all they care about it making money.   But Smoothie Blues is definitely worth every penny and I highly recommend to check them out if your tastes buds are of a sensitive westerner like myself.

What’s In My Bag! – 4K YouTube & Timelapse Gear!

As someone who travels overseas at least once a year, I have to be very strict about what I bring while bringing all the camera gear I need to keep making 4K videos for my YouTube channel and timelapses.

In this “What’s In My Bag” series, we take a quick look at everything that’s in my main camera bag and explanation of why I brought them with me to Thailand.

My Bag

Case Logic SLRC-206 Bag – Great camera/laptop bag that fits a bunch of lenses, cameras, and up to 15.4″ laptop.

My main 4K camera setup for YouTube

Sony A6300 – First, for 4K video production, I brought my new Sony A6300 mirrorless camera, which is an excellent 4K camera that can do 4K and 1080P 120FPS.  This is touted by most YouTubers these days as the best 4K camera under $1000 and I have to agree.

Speedbooster Ultra for Sony E-Mount – This allows me to re-use my existing Canon lenses and also brings down the aperture by one full stop, essentially converting the A6300 into a full-frame camera.

Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 Lens Canon Mount – This is my favorite lens of them all, with a nice zoom range from 18 to 35mm, it also offers constant aperture of F1.8, which works out great for most situations, especially in low-light situations along with nice bokeh.  Couple this lens with the Speedbooster and you get near F1.4.

Ninja Flame – Now, to enhance my video editing capabilities, I have also brought my new Ninja Flame, which allows me to record in ProRes422 straight to SSDs.  A lot of people buy the Ninja Flame for advanced color correction but I found that it is most useful for giving me the least uncompressed video files for faster editing and rendering.  In other words, with the Ninja Flame, you can edit your videos faster since your computer doesn’t have to uncompress data like normal H.264 format.  And since A6300 has a flip LCD that only goes down and up, Ninja Flame works great as full HD monitoring camera also, which I really love.  Now, this setup is rather bulky and I would not ever want to carry it around with me, this is really for my main stationary setup in Thailand.

Sennheiser EW112P Wireless Microphone – I’ve used this microphone for over 3 years now and this is one of the best, portable and wireless microphones great for getting perfect sound out of noisy environments.

My 4K Vlogging Setup For Travel

Panasonic GH4 – For vlogging and making 4K videos on the go, I cannot really use my Sony A6300 as it has no flip-out camera if you wanted to see yourself while filming yourself.  I used to use the Sony RX100-M4 for vlogging until it broke after a small fall and have switched to my Panansonic GH4, which is a great sturdy camera with excellent 4K abilities.

Speedbooster for GH4 – I use a Speedbooster on my GH4 also which allows me to use Canon lenses, brings aperture down by 1-stop, and also keeps auto-focus and aperture control.

Tokina 11-16mm F2.8 – I love using this wide-angle Tokina lens as you get super-wide selfies along with constant aperture of F2.8.  You won’t find a faster lens for this much wide-angle lens and works great for vlogging.

Rode VideoMic Pro – This is a portable microphone that will make your audio 10 times better than using the onboard mic.  Not the best but it does the job for vlogging.

Joby GorillaPod Focus with Ballhead – An awesome portable tripod that will also balance your camera acting as somewhat camera stabilizer.   I love this tripod since it lets me hang my camera on my shoulder while traveling, allowing me to carry one more camera on the airplane without taking up more space in your camera bag.  I ran out of space for my vlogging camera in my bag so with this, I am easily able to carry it with me while traveling.  Most high-profile vloggers like Casey Neistat swear by this so you will definitely want one for vlogging on the go.

My 4K Timelapse Setup

Canon 6D – Canon 6D is a full-frame camera capable of great timelapse shots.  It does not have 4K video recording but for timelapses, you can do 4K easily since you use the photos not the videos.  The 6D has equal of better low-light performance than its sibling Canon 5D Mark III, which costs 3 times more.  For doing timelapses, I simply load on Magic Lantern software, which is still light years ahead of Sony or Panasonic’s built-in timelapse features.

Sigma 24mm F1.4 – I bought this ultra-fast Sigma 24mm F1.4 lens which works great for sharp photos with lots of Bokeh on my Canon 6D.  I can also use this lens with my Sony A6300 and Panasonic GH4.

Canon 50mm F1.8 – This $100 lens is absolute must-have for all Canon cameras and Canon-compatible mounts.  I don’t use it for video much but I do use it all the time for timelapses at night.

Miscellaneous Stuff

Variable ND Filters 72mm & 77mm – ND filters are basically sunglasses for your lenses and you will need them when making videos in bright sunlight if you want to get nice bokeh while keeping your aperture at the lowest F stop possible.  My main lens Sigma 18-35mm, 24mm, and Tokina 11-16mm use these ND filters so I can be flexible when shooting in bright outdoors.

SmallRig Camera Cage – If you want to attach external monitors and microphones, you will definitely want to get a cage.  I use a cage mainly to protect the HDMI output when using an external monitor as they can get damaged easily and very expensive to fix.  It also protects your camera well so definitely recommended.  This one also works well with many different brands of cameras.

Samsung T3 Portable SSD – This is a great portable SSD that is fast, no external power required and also fast read/write speeds through one single USB 3.0 port.  I have the older T1 but Samsung has new T3 out now.

4K Editing Laptop

 

If you want to edit 4K videos on the go, you will need the latest Intel i7 processor-equipped laptop to efficiently edit and render your videos.

MSI Ghost GS60 Pro 4K – I love this 4K laptop.  Not only does it have 4K screen but plenty of CPU/GPU power to handle all of your 4K video editing needs.  Best of all, this is the lightest/thinnest 4K laptop on the market today or at least when I bought it last year.  The new ones have even better processors and graphic cards and I think this is the best bang for your buck for editing 4K videos on the go.  Also weighs less than 4 pounds, making it very portable.

Microsoft Sculpt Mouse – For editing videos, it’s good to have a mouse that has the ability to scroll let and right.  Any mouse will do but I really like Microsoft mouses.

Tripods

These are tripods I brought with me in my other big bag along with my clothes.

Manfrotto Tripod 055X Pro – This is a heavy-duty tripod for my main camera setup to hold my Sony A6300, Ninja Flame, and microphone.

Fluid Head 502 – Probably the best video fluid head you can buy and MKBHD has one he probably uses on every one of his videos.

Manfrotto BeFree Tripod – This tripod I like to carry when I need something a bit lighter and also fits in my backpack.

Sirui T-025X – This is an ultra-portable tripod that weighs 1.7 pounds, see full review of it here.

I also did bring my camera slider for sliding timelapse shots.  For that I use my Edelkrone Slider along with Action Unit.

Overall, I did probably bring too much stuff with me but I always want to be ready for action and make the best 4K videos and timelapses even when I am on vacation.    If you have any question about my travel 4K camera gear, I’d be happy to answer them.  Fastest way to get a response from me is just tweet me @zedomax.

How to Take High Speed Golf Swing Shots with Canon 6D!

In this example, I simply used a prime lens with my Canon 6D, ISO set to 100 and dial set to Aperture priority at F1.8 using my 50mm F1.8 lens.

Today was a bit too sunny so at ISO 100, it worked out perfect at the camera automatically set the shutter speed high but if it’s cloudy, you can raise the ISO to make the camera shutter faster, which will result in crispy, high-speed golf swing shots.

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(Can you see the golf ball in the air?  That is power of DSLR.)

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My one wish is that one day Android smartphone cameras can do something similar but at current state of affairs, that is simply not the case.  That is why I still carry my Canon 6D and 7D cameras with me for these special occasions.

Sony A6300 Unboxing!

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I just picked up a brand, new Sony A6300, this is the new Sony 4K mirrorless camera that retails for $1000 USD.  This is probably the best 4K camera of the year for your money.

My first impressions on the Sony A6300 is that the body is super light.  Now, the build quality is very poor, made up mostly of plastic and feels like a toy.  Now, this is probably not a camera recommended for rugged professional use in the field, you will not want to ever drop it or use it in any kind of light rain.

The reason why this sticks out to me is that because I started with Canon DSLR cameras (7D, 60D, and 6D) and the build quality of Canons are amazing in comparison to the A6300.  They are also weather resistant and can handle light rains no problem.  Also recently my new $1000 Sony RX100M4 broke with a drop from my pockets, leading me to believe that Sony’s don’t have good build quality.

But other than that this is an awesome camera with an APS-C sensor along with support for UHD 4K.  None of the Canon DSLRs (except the newer $6000 Canon 1DX Mark II) support 4K, which is a huge downside for people like me who shoot in 4K mostly.

I will have a full test but based on my short time with the Sony A6300, the low light performance incredible in comparison to my daily driver Panasonic GH4.  I’ve always had trouble shooting in low-light or near complete darkness with the GH4 as it’s not the best on the market for that purpose and ISO maxes out at 6400.

The Sony A6300 has low-light performance very similar to their higher-priced $3000 Sony A7Rii, which I wanted to get but the price wasn’t right.  This is exciting for indie video/film makers/YouTubers as you will now be able to take advantage of low prices for professional-grade 4K videos.

Not only that, the Sony A6300 offers S-Log2 and S-Log3 for the highest dynamic range.  If you want to take advantage of the flatter profiles, you can also pick up Atmos Ninja Flame, which allows you to monitor your S-Log2/S-Log3 in real-time.  I have actually pre-ordered the Atmos Ninja Flame so I should have an unboxing/review of that also.

For lenses, the Sony A6300 uses Sony’s standard E-Mount, which allows you to mount any Sony E-Mount lenses.  If you own Canon or Nikon lenses, you can grab a E-Mount adapter or Metabones Speedbooster to use your existing lenses.  I am picking up a Metabones Speedbooster for Canon to E-Mount, which will make the Sony A6300 APS-C into a full-frame camera.

I love my Canon 6D, which is a full-frame camera and the low-light performance is amazing but only thing it doesn’t do is 4K video, which I need.  With the new Sony A6300, I am hoping to be able to achieve great low-light photos like my Canon 6D along with much better low-light videos than my Panasonic GH4.

Also, I recently broke the HDMI output port on my Panasonic GH4 and the Sony A6300 supports HDMI monitoring while recording in 4K (but the liveview will turn off).  This was a huge feature for me and for people who use external monitors since the A6300 does not have a flip-out screen (rather flip up and down).

Overall, I am very impressed at what Sony has to offer for the price of just $1000.  I don’t really like the cheap build quality but then again, I would rather pay less than pay hundreds more for better build quality.  Of course, you can just get some insurance like I did and not worry about dropping it.

I should have a full review after I play with it, you will find most of my future videos on my YouTube channel made with this new 4K camera so stay tuned!

Get the A6300 on Amazon – Link

Get the A6300 at B&H (New York) – Link

I recommend to get the body only and get a prime lens, do not get the crappy kit lens otherwise it’s like getting a great car with shi++y rims.

Time Square New York City with Canon 6D + Tokina 11-16mm!

As some of you may know, I LOVE making timelapses, which is probably one of my favorite hobbies when I travel.  In my recent trip to New York City, I took probably around 3000 photos for my NYC timelapse (which I will have up soon).

Here are some of the photos I want to share from that trip mostly taken with my Canon 6D and Tokina 11-16mm lens (I know, this is not the correct lens for a full frame camera but I am trying to work with what I have so at 16mm, pretty much no vignetting).

You can click on the photos to download the larger version which you can use as free wallpaper up to a 4K widescreen monitor!
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Jelly Fish Free Wallpapers w/ Canon 6D + 40mm at Academy of Sciences, SF!

The other day, I took my daughter to Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.  I normally do not like to make videos/vlogs when I got out but I LOVE to take my trusty Canon 6D with me to take photos.  I recently picked up a pancake 40mm lens, which is the widest you can go on a full-frame camera like the 6D without spending a gazillion dollars or getting fisheye.

I really love this lens because it’s a bit wider than my 50mm also it’s super lightweight and great for just making your DSLR into almost a compact camera.  The only thing I realized with this 40mm is that you don’t get the depth-of-field as you can with 50mm F1.8 as you are limited to F2.8.  I would probably take the 50mm next time but 40mm is not bad at all for close-ups.

I took these photos in RAW mode then did a bit of tweaking in post but I was just having fun out there.  You can use them as wallpapers if you want up to 4K monitor (as I sized them up to minimum 4K), simply click on the photos to download them in large format (do right click->Save As).

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MWC 2016 – What’s In My Bag! #MWC16

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CES 2016 was a lot of fun and I got to bring my livestream rig which I got a ton of complements on.  The only thing bad about livestreaming was that setting up took forever and carrying it around the show floor was a drag. Plus, it was hard for me to actually enjoy the show and doing things live can become hetic, stressful.

So for MWC 2016, I will be bringing a different rig so I can make some nice cinematic 4K videos, perhaps enjoy myself more.  And I know some of you wanted a video of my new rig for MWC 2016, so here’s what I bringing:

First, I will be bringing my sturdiest tripod, the Manfrotto 055. It’s heavy tripod but it is super stable and I will be able to get all my shots as steady as I can.

For smooth lateral and horizontal pans, I will be using the Manfrotto MVH500AH fluid head.

I also have the Manfrotto 502 head too which is nice but it weighs twice more than my MVH500AH plus MVH500AH is good enough for my purposes.

For camera, I will be using my Panasonic GH4 along with speed booster and my Sigma 18-35mm lens.

That’s my basic setup but if I want to do some sliding shots, I can go head quick release my camera, mount my Edelkrone motorized slider then snap my camera back in.  I am using a bunch of quick release plates so I can do this quickly on the go at MWC 2016.

I love my Edelkrone slider with action module which is an automated motor unit that you can use for sliding your camera easily. You can also do some nice target sliding while it’s moving laterally.

Now, I’ve also hacked up my own 15mm rod rig that allows me to position the camera to the side.  What this allows me to do is get a shot that’s vertically above my subject.  Using this, I can do some over-the-head shots.

When I am done shooting all my slide shots, I can go ahead and put everything back into my bag then I can quick reattach the camera, fluid head, and tripod.  What I realized through my recent trip at CES is that you want to keep your camera and tripod out of the bag as they weigh you down the most.  Instead, if you carry your tripod and camera with you, you can easily balance your tripod on your shoulder, which feels a lot lighter than having more things in your bag plus you can set the tripod down on the ground when resting.

That’s all I am carry for MWC 2016 so hopefully I will be able to make you guys some nice cinematic 4K videos of Galaxy S7, LG G5, HTC One M10, and much more.  Other than that, I am bringing my MSI Ghost GS60 4K laptop for 4K editing and Zoom H4N for voice overs for the video.