I'm Not Going, Final Episode: I Get By with a Little Help from My Friends

Special note: a tragic helicopter accident in New York City this week claimed the lives of five people excited to see and photograph Manhattan from the air. Our hearts go out to the families and friends of the victims and the pilot who managed to make it out alive. 

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Three Days with a Pile of E-Mount Lenses, an a6300, an a6000, an RX10 III, an iPhone 6s+, and a Couple of Bags: What Better Way to Stress Gear than at a Presidential Nominating Convention?

It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, but this time (unlike in April) I wasn’t official press. Forget about a tripod or monopod - Secret Service rules prohibited even selfie-sticks. Forget about a lot of glass, especially long, fast glass: not only would everything have to be hand-held, but those same rules stipulated no backpacks and no bags bigger than 18” x 13” x 7.” And then there were the closed-door meetings where even if I had been press, no press were allowed. Traveling small, light and unobtrusive were the orders of the week. Heads-up: this is a post about gear -- not politics -- but if you don’t want to see photographs from the Democratic National Convention in Philly (along with protests) you’d better stop reading here.

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Finally! iPro Case for iPhone 6s+ is Shipping, Enables the Full Monty!

I left a Pelican 1510 full of Sony bodies and prime lenses at home as I flew to Vegas for NAB 2016 (don't get me wrong: I LOVE them), vowing to repeat my NAB 2015 party trick of filming all my interviews and taking all of my pictures with an iPhone. But it was only after I arrived that I finally got my hands on the updated iPhone 6s+ iPro case, cornerstone of Schneider Optics' iPro lens system. And then some. 

Of COURSE there are compromises when using an iPhone as your sole imaging device (more on that in a moment). But at a venue like NAB, they are far outweighed by the benefits -- at least for me. Incredibly small, lightweight and unobtrusive, the iPhone allows me to focus on the people with whom I'm speaking. 

I just didn't want to put it in a rig like I did for the cover of my eBook Apple's iPhone: The Next Video Revolution. At NAB, bulking it up like that would defeat the whole purpose. 

So I was stoked when NAB bud Niki Mustain of Schneider Optics snagged a just-shipping iPro case for the iPhone 6s+. I already had all the other gear I'd need to rock it - three iPro lenses by Schneider (Super-Wide, 2X and Macro), RØDE Videomic Me, Manfrotto's Pixi mini-tripod with integrated push-button locking ball head, and Aputure's not-yet-released-but-based-on-people's-reactions-Aputure-should-get-on-it Lightning Up micro-LED panel.

  Apple iPhone 6s+, iPro case, iPro 2x lens, Manfrotto Pixi mini-tripod, RØDE Videomic Me, Las Vegas NAB 2016

Apple iPhone 6s+, iPro case, iPro 2x lens, Manfrotto Pixi mini-tripod, RØDE Videomic Me, Las Vegas NAB 2016

I've already posted some shots from NAB, and next week I'll be posting videos. But videos are also where those compromises are really felt.  I did an interview with Blackmagic Design bud (and Americas President) Dan May, but I REALLY could have used shallow depth of field. I also took no chances with audio, relying on a really great combo of gear (a TASCAM DR70-D field recorder and a pair of RØDElink Filmmaking Kits, packed in a little Domke bag). To be fair, I only used the RØDE Videomic Me once, and while it was credible, it wasn't nearly as good as my larger setup. Then again, acoustics at NAB are ALWAYS horrible -- it's just the nature of the beast.

PS: If anyone has a truly outstanding over-the-shoulder solution for one-man band hybrid video/stills shooter, let me know. Seems to me this is a hole in the market -- and I've looked at a lot of bags!

Pricing and availability:

  • iPhone 6s+ Amazon
  • iPro Lens Trio Kit for for iPhone 6 Plus [6s Plus not yet listed, though Schneider shipped last week)  [B&H|Amazon
  • Manfrotto Pixi Mini-Tripod  [B&H|Amazon
  • RØDE Videomic Me  [B&H]
  • RØDElink Filmmaking Kit [B&H]
  • TASCAM DR70-D  [B&H|Amazon
  • Domke F-5XA (black)  [B&H|Amazon

Leica Partners with Chinese Smartphone Manufacturer Huawei

Last July I published the eBook "Apple's iPhone: The Next Video Revolution" on Amazon. It's still a great resource (yeah, of course I'd think so) if you want to understand why smartphones are shaking up the imaging business and why they're going to get even bigger. Still, with news coming from Zeiss and now Leica about entering the smartphone space,  I feel a need for an update.

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