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.

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.

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.

 

My $10,000 4K DIY YouTube Video Studio!

This is my 9th year making YouTube videos and over the years I have upgraded my video recording equipment countless times.  Earlier this year, I wanted to make a dedicated studio in my house for doing green screen videos.  Well, what started as a small project ended up into my regular 4K YouTube studio, which I feel is essential to YouTubers who want to get serious making videos on a consistent basis.

Before this, I would spend hours just setting up the camera, setting up my tripod, and having camera equipment all over my office, which I still do sometimes but makes everything time-consuming and inefficient.  Having no studio for your YouTube is like being homeless and setting up your shopping cart in a different parking lot every night.

Anyways, for those of you who want to make your own YouTube studio (whether in 1080P or 4K), here’s my suggestions.

First, you will obviously need a room or space that’s dedicated to all your camera equipment.  I used my small guest bedroom and was able to make a full 4K studio out of just half the bedroom, which also has a full bunk bed with a futon.  If you have a small bedroom/guest room, definitely consider using it.

Second, you may or may not need a green screen but I feel like it’s a great way to put anything you want in the background or even just make it look super clean with white or black background.  I actually use a blue screen since I usually wear a green shirt but you can grab green screen on Amazon for around $20.  Don’t get the pop up ones as they are not big enough, but grab the bigger cotton ones.

Third, you will need good lighting whether you use green screen or not.  I highly recommend grabbing some soft boxes on Amazon for about $25 each. (or $40 each w/ legs) Also, get the 5500K LED light bulbs as you will save 10 times more energy than using  fluorescent light bulbs.  Trust me, having soft boxes on cost a LOT of money in electricity, use LED bulbs and you will be able to use them 24/7.

For mounting, you may want to consider mounting them up in the ceiling if your space is limited, I used this flashmount and also ceiling mount.

Lighting is probably one of the most important aspects of your video so have enough lights.

Fourth, you will obviously need a camera.  If you don’t need 4K, I do highly recommend going with an entry-level Canon cameras (such as Canon T5i) as they do great 1080P videos and also you can re-use the lenses you buy later on and strap them on Panasonic GH4 (which I did) or even Sony cameras with an adapter.  Try going with a camera with interchangeable lens as that will allow you to have flexibility (such as wide-angle lens for small room or macro-lens for super close-ups) and also you will be able to re-use them when you upgrade to a 4K camera.  Or you can also go with an entry-level 4K camera like the FZ1000, which is a great 4K camera I use as my 3rd camera.

If you want to go all-out with 4K and multiple cameras, I highly recommend the Panasonic GH4, which is awesome 4K camera and you can setup multiple cameras without going over $5000.  You will also need some lenses too and if you already own Canon or Nikon lenses, you can grab Metabones Speedbooster.

Here’s my current setup I showed in the video:

2 Panasonic GH4 Body Only – $1500 each – $3000 – I paid $1500 when I bought it but the prices are dropping and you can grab these for like $1000 each.  These are simply the best 4K cameras if you are on a budget and if you need multiple 4K cameras, these may be the best in the business.

Panasonic FZ1000 – $700 – I wanted to add a 3rd camera without breaking my bank so I bought this as a 3rd camera.  It isn’t the best quality 4K but with good lighting, this can do just as well as more expensive cameras.  Since my studio is indoors and I have good lighting, I got this to get the 3rd angle but I will eventually get another GH4 as the FZ1000 doesn’t support HDMI monitoring simultaneously while recording.

Sigma 10-20mm – $450, this is a great wide-angle lense. This isn’t the best lens out there but for using as my main wide-angle view from a very short-distance setup, this works out to be perfect.

Sigma 18-35mm – $799, almost every serious YouTuber has this lens, you can put it on a Sony camera, Red, GH4 using an adapter,
this is what I primarily use for shots from the top. You can get super, clear and crisp videos.

Speedbooster – $599, this is an adapter that reduces your focal stop by one for the GH4. This will give you much wider angle from the same lenses used. They also have it for many other different cameras.

Manfrotto Tripod – $160 – Any decent tripod will do, I am just using an old video tripod I am not using anymore but grab any Manfrotto tripod for the job.

2 Manfrotto Magic Arms – $128 each – $256 – Magic Arms are great way to attach your cameras anywhere and set them to any angle you want.  I initially used two magic arms instead of tripods for all my videos few years back and I still use them now!  One of them is being used for my top-mount camera and the other one mounts my FZ1000 to my light stand for the 3rd angle.

Studio FX Camera Slider $110 – These cheap camera sliders are not recommended as sliders but I recycled them and mounted it on my ceiling so my top mount camera can be slided.

Pad Prompter (Teleprompter) – $399 – I don’t always use the teleprompter.  For example for unboxing videos I don’t need to script anything but for things like news, reviews, or anything that I write a script beforehand, the teleprompter comes in handy as you will be able to make those 5 takes into just one. Also, if you are not good in front of the camera, a teleprompter will help you look
more professional.

Zoom H4N – $199 – Having a dedicated audio is definitely something you should consider and also this one allows you to use Phantom-powered shotgun microphones.  I use this in-between my camera and my Audio Technica shotgun microphone so I can monitor my audio while recording, make a separate audio recording backup just in case things go wrong.  Also, I do a lot of voice overs and having a dedicated audio recorder makes it easy to do that.

If you want to also feed your camera with the audio, don’t forget to grab the Sescom cable as otherwise it will mess up the audio in your camera.

Audio Technica AT875R – $169 – This is a pretty good shotgun microphone.

Elgato Game Capture HD60 – $174 – If you want to do live streaming through YouTube in 1080P and use any camera that has HDMI output, you can use the Elgato Game Capture HD60, which does up to 1080P 60fps.

AverMedia ExtremeCap U3 – $169 – If you want to have TWO cameras for live YouTube, you will need another capture device.  Since you cannot use two Elgato game capture at the same time (yes, I’ve tried it), I got the AverMedia for my 2nd camera so I can have two cameras working simultaneously on my live YouTube videos.  (You can see an example of my live YouTube video here.)

I use XSplit broadcaster for my live YouTube videos, highly recommended!

2 22-inch 1080P monitors – $100 each = $200 – If you want to monitor your video while recording (and you have a camera that supports HDMI monitoring WHILE recording such as the GH4), definitely grab some cheap 1080P monitors instead of buying high-priced field monitors.  I initially used one of those cheap field monitors but a simple 22-inch monitor gives you much better results at even lower cost.

MSI 4K Laptop $3000 – If you want to do YouTube live streaming or want to include screen recording in 4K in your videos, make sure you have a powerful laptop/computer to process/encode your videos in real time to YouTube.  I paid $3000 for mine but you can grab for much less around $2000 or even just build your own powerful PC rig for less.

Total Cost for 3 cameras and various camera equipment: $10375

Total Cost for everything:  Probably around $12000 including miscellaneous camera parts not mentioned here.

Now, this particular setup is really just intended as a reference.  If you absolutely need 3 4K multi-camera setup with 1080P YouTube Live features, this is probably a really good setup I think for around $10K.

However, if you are just starting out, you should be able to setup some soft boxes, skip the green screen, get a decent 1080P camera and a tripod.  And maybe you can shop around for some used equipment on eBay and pay fractions of the price.  I think you should be able to do most of it for a few hundred bucks with some creativity.

As a final note, there isn’t a magical solution to your YouTube studio, it all depends on what you are trying to accomplish and how much you are able to spend.  But, I think it’s a great idea to invest at least a few thousand bucks on getting the right equipment if you are serious about making a living on YouTube. (And for those asking, yes I pay my mortgage with my YouTube earnings.)

For me, it was about accomplishing things like multiple camera angles, 4K video recording, green screen, decent audio with monitoring/voice overs.   I initially started with a desk and a cheap pop-up green screens but over the months, I added more and more equipment.  This is still a work in progress but for those of you who need something similar for your YouTube, I hope it helps!

 

 

 

World’s Smallest & Lightest Tripod! – Sirui T-025X!

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Before my trip to Thailand and South Korea this summer, I wanted to bring my tripod for photos and videos.  I do own a trusty Manfrotto BeFree Travel tripod, which I love by the way.  But that one isn’t exactly the most portable tripod in the world and also is very heavy.

After days of research, I found the smallest and lightest tripod you can buy in the world, the Sirui T-025X.   This tripod consists of carbon fiber for the main material, resulting in just 1.7 pounds of weight!  Not only is this tripod the lightest in the world, it’s also the shortest tripod in the world measuring at just 11.8 inches when folded.

Having a tripod less than a foot means it will fit in most backpacks.  Whenever I carry it around, it adds just little bit less than 2 pounds.  For days when I have to walk all day long, the weight savings and the ability to pack it in my backpack beats any other travel tripod out there.

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The Sirui T-025X tripod extends to 52″ full using knobs that can quickly extend with half a turn.   For a guy like me at 5′ 9″, this is actually the perfect height since that’s usually my shooting height.  Also add a few inches for the Manfrotto LP128 Fluid Head I use with it.  The tripod does come with a tiny fluid head that’s good for horizontal motion but I don’t recommend that unless you don’t need vertical motion and fluid motion of a Manfrotto.  (My usual fluid head is Manfrotto MVH500AH but I got the LP128 since it’s a little bit smaller and lighter.)

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Sirui T-025X also can be adjusted to three different angles for the legs, lots of room for many different angles.

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As this tripod isn’t super stable due to its lightweight design, you may find it a bit wobbly for motion shots where you need to move the camera.  But it is rated up to 8.8 pounds of equipment and I have put on my Canon 7D and Sigma 18-35mm lens on just find but you should be able to put bigger zoom lenses if needed fine.

For additional stability, the tripod comes with a little hook where you can hook up additional weight.  I just put some water bottles in a plastic bag to get more stability when needed but I usually use my Canon 24mm F2.8 pancake lens, which is light enough to use without.

Overall, this is a fantastic tripod for those of you with a camera bigger than a smartphone or compact DSLR and you want to have stability of a tripod.  I do also own Manfrotto monopod but I hate the fact that monopods don’t fit in my backpack and you always need a dedicated hand for it even when not using it. (But it is great for small spaces where you cannot put the legs of tripod down.)

I’ve actually tested this tripod for my last 4 or 5 videos on my YouTube channel, and the tripod has held up pretty good.  If you need the lightest, most portable tripod in the world for travel, I would definitely go with this.  Sirui also sells metal version of this tripod for $100 cheaper and it weighs just a tad more, shouldn’t be bad either.

Get the Sirui T-025X tripod here – Link

Get the Sirui T-005KX tripod here – Link (The cheaper metal version)