Saturday, September 24, 2016

Auto Glass Claim Experience

I use Gekko as my auto insurance.  I am just too lazy to find out what's out there from others.  I don't need all the hassles just so I can save perhaps a few dollars or a few thousand dollars.  I am too lazy to do that.

Even Gekko lists a 1-800 number for glass claim but when I called it just directs me to download the mobile app.  From there you just do your claim on your mobile.  I don't think you can even do it on their website.  If you are inept with apps, mobile phone or in general techno averse, good luck with that.  I don't think you can even file a glass claim over the phone.  It seems to me Gekko even does away the call center at least for glass claims.  I remember I used to call them.

The world just keeps moving on.

Friday, September 09, 2016

Cinema Mount Mark II audio cable extension

I asked support about the audio cable extension.

Specifically, I asked does it serve the purpose of the RODE SC7 or SC4 cable.  Their answer is an unequivocal yes.  I can use the supplied cable for that.
So I bought the RODE VideoMicro without buying the TRS to TRRS cable.
And you know what it does NOT work.  Apparently the male of the cable is TRRS but the female is not a TRS to TRRS receptacle.  Or that's just a faulty cable or they don't know what they are talking about.  A disappointment for sure.  I was hoping to use the iPhone and the Rode VideoMicro to shoot something tomorrow now I just can't even the eBay seller promptly shipped the order so I can receive it on time.  Alas, I'd have to shoot the Rode with my D810 for still and video now.

PS:  Now I suspect the audio extension cable is really just an extension for TRRS to TRRS only.  Why?  Because the mount is kind of blocked it needs a rather slim jack without the bulk so as to plug the jack in, if the TRRS is any bigger it won't be able to properly plugged in.

I ordered the RODE SC7 TRS to TRRS patch cable.  And it works with the iPhone with or without the extension cable supplied with the Cinema Mount Mark II audio extension cable.  Like I expected you really need to use the extension cable as the opening is kind of small and even if you don't run the SC7 through the hold you can't mount the iPhone flat on the mount as like I said it's more like an enclosure and there is just no front room to accommodate the budge of the SC7 plug.  So again, the provided audio extension cable is just like what its name says it is an extension cable of TRRS to TRRS.  If you were to plug in a TRS it simply won't work even you can plug in everything.

After using the setup for a few weeks.  My initial assessment still holds true.  It's quite tiring to mount the iPhone.  It's difficult to access the mic/headphone jack, lightning jack, the volume control because it's more of an enclosure.  It's troublesome when one recorded a clip and wants to listen the audio using a headphone, you simply have to remove the iPhone from the mount to unplug and plug back the jack.  The tripod mount hole is on the wrong side, it should really be underneath the lens.

All in all, even without using the Beastgrip Pro, I think it's a better design, I would like the option of tightening the grip like the cinema mount mark ii and a lower price.  I guess I can keep dreaming.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Cinema Mount Mark II, a first look

The thing with iPhone photography and videography is it is different things to different people.  Filmmaker, Sean Baker did it because of budget constraint and yet you can do it for a myriad of reasons, like you got nothing better to do with your life.

I have to say the CMM2 is pretty well built.  My point of reference is Nikon, Canon and Hasselblad kind of cameras and also the mini ball head sold on eBay shipped directly from China.  The CMM2 is definitely not as well built as the aforementioned cameras but it's head and shoulder above the almost disposable mini ball head.

That being said is the CMM2 well designed?  Well it depends.  I like certain aspects of it and I think some are just inherent to what it is, a cage, a grip, an add-on.

Part of the appeals to shoot with an iPhone is it's supposed to be convenient.  Not so much when you add a cage even the CMM2 is not gigantic.

Is it easy to mount the phone into that thing?  Not really.  I definitely need to fiddle with the vertical mount as the thing is screw-on tight with springs for tension, not just spring grab mount the phone.  Plus the clamps or jaws are on the right side not so centered.  I am a bit bothered by it.  The fact that it's screw tight gives you more confident to how unmovable and secure the phone is when mounted.  But at the same time the moves aren't exactly buttery smooth when you need to adjust the mount vertically and horizontally.  The horizontal movement is mostly for aligning the phone camera to the hole of the mounting plate.

There is a cutout on the right side of the cage to let you pass the mic cable, but it's not like fully open access.  I have the iPhone SE and it's not too easy to attach the lightning cable should you want to sit the phone flushed to the right of the cage while attaching the phone to portable power,  I mean you don't really want to anyway.  The phone is just easier to operate if it doesn't sit flushed to the right of the cage.  Because I can't and I shouldn't flush-right mount the phone to the cage, then it's quite iffy and fiddly to mount the phone correctly so it's easy to access and the lens is dead on center to the opening of the lens opening of the mounting plate.

The cold shoe is not exactly easy to mount, A quarter would be a bit too big or even a nickel to turn the screw down.  Maybe a dime would be ideal (yes, just confirmed).

The cage comes with a wide angle/macro lens attachment.  It mounts on a 37mm mounting plate which can be adjusted horizontally and vertically freely to line up with the phone's lens.  And hence the curse of too much freedom.  If you are anal about a perfect alignment you may be a bit concerned as you can only eye ball the alignment.  For the most part it works and works well enough.  The mounting plate has some play to it but then again it is not bad enough to worry about.  I mean even a Nikon mount and a mounted Nikkor can have some play to it, at least some.  If the attachment is mounted off center the image suffers that I am pretty sure as I witnessed some myself: it's off center to be bad when you watch the video but not off center to render total blackout or visible vignette to notice right away.

Even I keep referring it as a cage but it's actually quite an enclosure.  Access to the phone is sufficient but not like an cage you almost have open access to the phone mounted inside.  You can't remove the lens side of the enclosure at all meaning you can't use the grip with your own lens attachments.

The filter holder works and the blue and gray graduated filters are nice additions to the setup.  If you shoot open sky landscape it helps to bring the sky closer to the exposure of the earth or the foreground.

The mic extension is not a TRS to TRRS cord.  It's really just an extension ... I think.  It looks and feels like a quality cord.

Maybe, just maybe, the Beastgrip Pro is actually a bit better if you absolutely don't consider the price.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Cinema Mount Mark II and Beastgrip Pro

I don't know why or the etymology of "Mark II" in general.  Since when "Mark II" means version 2 or something?  The first time I saw this usage was from Canon's first most popular full frame  EOS 5D, its subsequent versions are all called Mark something.  And I take it it means version.  Nikon has its own somewhat confusing naming scheme, for its flagship models like Nikon D3 or Nikon D4, their minor upgrade or refinement naming is by appending the letter "s" at the end.  So the model looks like plural but it is not.  Any major upgrade actually merits a jump in the number, like the latest Nikon D5 is the successor of the Nikon D4.

What the heck am I talking about?

I have never used the Cinema Mount or the Beastgrip Pro.  But I am somewhat fascinated by them, enough to open this post that is and enough to place an order on the former.  It is almost an impulse buy, or not, considering I have been eyeing them for a long long time.  The actual buy is I think always impulsive.

I am quite sure Beastgrip Pro is a "better" product in the sense that it got a cooler website, better PR ... but there is always a but, the pricing is just a bit off for my taste and wallet.  I actually saw the Cinema Mount in the wild some time ago and its owner seemed quite happy with it.  Currently the Beastgrip Pro is asking for close to $170 for the cage and a wide angle lens while the Cinema Mount Mark II is fetching for less than $90 with a wide angle lens, a filter holder and 2 graduated ND filters which I am a sucker of I think, and some other goodies like an mic extension cord (I think it's more than just an extension, it probably allows regular mic jack to be plugged to the headphone jack of an iPhone but I can't be sure) and lens mount unscrew thingy ... YouTube reviews on the Cinema Mount Mark II are almost non-existent except for 3 or actually 2 because one is just a duplicate of another.  You know one thing always leads to another.  The holy grail of lens adapter for iPhone is the Moondog lab anamorphic lens adapter which sells for $175.  Then you need to have some software to actually edit the footage like Final Cut Pro X which costs like $300 ...
The friendly web page with user friendly spelling just seals the deal for me.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Nikon D700 and D810

Again if you look for scientific analysis this is not the place.  The below is a matter of opinion from an amateur shooter.

AF-C is important to me, I want fast accurate focus tracking.  On paper the D810 seems or actually states that it is using the same AF as the D4, which I assume is superb.  I don't own a D4 or D4s, but being a flagship or the last flagship camera, I can just assume it's superb, right?

My experience with the D810 is that, the AF is accurate but AF tracking is not so hot.  In comparison, the D700 seems track better at least when I am using the D9 or dynamic 9 points at shutter priority.  I tried the Group Focus in D810 and it isn't that hot either.  The D700 files just look sharper, cleaner and more in focus in most of the time than the D810.  It's not that I don't have any good files from the D810 but there is something about the D700 that I like.  The files are smaller, the processing time is shorter, images look sharper from NEF to JPEG ...

Again further shooting is needed to re judge the camera.

I got the D700 in early 2015 and the D810 in early 2016.  The same AF-S 70-200 VR is mounted.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

iPhone videography . . .

I found it quite strange and unusual that I could not find anywhere a comparison between the Cinema Mount and the Beastgrip Pro mount for mobile phones.  I just couldn't find any comparison between the two.

The moondog labs seem to be the only company that manufactures an anamorphic lens or adapter for the iPhone.  Yet I couldn't find a review or in depth review of the quality of the lens.  Most would say it's a good lens but how about corner sharpness, close focusing, color fringing and the like?  There seems to be quite a number of versions now, mainly for different models of iPhones, for different cases, or grips.  Or the 37mm thread version which should fit most of the 37mm mounting plate out there.  However it defeats its somewhat universal mounting purpose when one actually has to buy a 37mm mounting plate for the BeastGrip Pro mount.  That's a bit strange to me.  Again I could not find any review on that.  Or why it couldn't use the generic lens mounting plate that comes with the BeastGrip Pro other than my obvious guess, it doesn't fit or fit as well as the specially made mounting plate for the Moondog Labs anamorphic lens adapter.

On top of that, I also wonder how does a 37mm thread anamorphic lens align?  For the clip on or lock on version I can understand.  It's so machined that the horizontal is aligned properly.  But if you were to screw on an adapter chances are you do have to fine tune the horizontal alignment separate from the screw mount.

I just wish Moondog Labs would do a better job explaining all these.  They do a pretty decent job explaining the de-squeezing part though.

I personally own an Optex 1.33 anamorphic adapter.  It's impossible to focus in most cases and the edges are all fuzzy.  For the most part if you are into arty stuff or don't care about sharpness, it could be perfectly fine.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016


Sign of being a failure

You taking the same intro course over and over again.  As you simply couldn't finish what you started.  It's like a bad dream or an infinite loop you can't wake up from or get out.  You need a hard reset but you are hesitant to do it.

If you don't make the choice, somebody will make it for you.  It probably doesn't make any difference.  Or it probably does.  But in the end everybody dies so it doesn't really matter.


There is some advantage of being such a failure.

You don't get to wake up in the middle of the night thinking that you are such a fraud.  That never happened to me.