How to Use a Canon Camera as a Webcam (Podcast 766)

How to Use a Canon Camera as a Webcam (Podcast 766)


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I’ve recently been using my Canon EOS R and EOS R5 for Zoom meetings as the image quality is so much better with the shallow depth of field, but as there are a few steps required to get this working, I figured I’d share what I do with you today. I do have a good Webcam, as well as the camera in my iMac Pro, which are both suitable for zoom, but sometimes I feel that it’s worth going a little further and using my Canon cameras. We’ll talk about the key components necessary to get started and move on to a few nice-to-haves as well.

Canon Webcam Utility

Of course, we’re going to assume that you already have a Canon camera, and I’ll center this discussion around what I know. If you own a different system and use different software, feel free to share that in the comments for the benefit of any other non-Canon users. To get started with a Canon camera though, you are going to need the EOS Webcam Utility which is available for both Mac and Windows. You can do this without the software, and we’ll touch on that, but there is an important reason for using the Canon software, and that is because it’s the only method I’ve found that completely stops the camera from falling asleep while you broadcast.

Once installed, there is no configuration, you’ll just find the EOS Webcam Utility listed as a camera for selection in Zoom or whatever system you are using. If you don’t see it, ensure that your camera is on and connected to the computer via USB. The Utility works with over 40 Canon cameras, and according to Canon also allows you to record your video internally in the camera while broadcasting. I’ve never needed to do this, but there are situations where that would be very useful.

EOS Webcam Utility in Zoom
EOS Webcam Utility in Zoom

Unfortunately, there seems to be no mechanism to switch between two EOS cameras. If you connect two cameras, the EOS Webcam Utility uses the first camera detected and ignores the second. If you switch the first camera off and select a different camera, then go back to the EOS Webcam Utility, you will be able to use the second camera, but it’s not exactly what I would consider a smooth switch.

Using Straight HDMI Signal

Before we move on, you can also see the option for the OBS Virtual Camera in this screenshot, which is what I would choose if I was using my video capture card that accepts HDMI signal and feeds it to my computer. This does enable me to use the HDMI signal from the camera, and if necessary, you can put an HDMI switcher between the camera and the video capture device, and that allows you to switch between multiple cameras, but this only really works if you are not going to use either camera without touching it for more than 30 minutes. There is no way that I’ve found to stop the camera from going to sleep while feeding out HDMI. The longest you can set the Power Off timer to is 30 minutes, so even if you disable the options to turn off the display after a certain time, the camera will go to sleep after 30 minutes.

Power Saving Settings
Power Saving Settings

Now, you can, of course, reach over and press the shutter button every so often to keep it awake, but I generally find that I forget to do that, and my video turns off, usually when I’m not looking. For this reason, I only use direct HDMI when I’m actually handling at least one of the cameras, such as when I’m showing a technique through the camera. Another important thing to note there as well, is that if you use the HDMI feed from the camera, you can set the camera up so that it includes the screen overlay in the HDMI feed as well, which is very useful in a teaching situation.

Canon EOS R5 Screen with Overlay
Canon EOS R5 Screen with Overlay

Note that to get the overlay displayed on your output HDMI, on the Canon EOS R5, you’ll need to go to the Shoot menu 8 and select HDMI display, then the next option seems a little confusing to me. The icon that shows both a camera and a computer display will prevent the camera’s settings from being displayed on the computer over HDMI. They are only displayed on the camera. If you select just the computer display icon though, the menus are displayed on both and are included in your HDMI feed.

I’m not aware of any combination of setting that will enable you to record the screen with controls when connected directly to the computer over USB. If you want to record the controls you’ll need a video capture device. The device I chose is from Basicolor and it seems they make a variety of these video capture devices. The price range is pretty wide, and generally increases with the resolution that the device is capable of passing through and feeding to the computer, and these are not always the same. They may be capable of passing through 4K video but only send 1080p resolution to the computer over USB. If you buy one of these ensure that you check the specs before you make your final decision.

Video Capture Device
Video Capture Device

Use a Power Adapter

Another consideration is power supply. I generally get about 50 minutes to an hour from a single battery when it’s constantly providing a video signal, so rather than interrupting your call or broadcast to pop your battery out, it’s better to use a power supply. I have two. One that provides power through the USB port, which is a Canon adapter and costs over $100. The second is virtually the same as the Canon ACK-E6 Adapter Kit which also retails for more than $100 but I broke down and grabbed a $20 adapter from Amazon.co.jp which seems at this point in time to do just as good a job. As you can see in this image, the ACK-E6 basically provides power through a mockup battery that is wired to the power supply.

Mockup Battery as Adapter
Mockup Battery as Adapter

There is a small rubber flap on the side of the battery compartment that you can bend outwards to feed the cable through so that you can go ahead and close the battery compartment while you’re using the camera.

Battery Adapter Cable Opening
Battery Adapter Cable Opening

Autofocus with Face Detection On

You’ll need to put the camera into video mode, which you do on the Canon EOS R5 by pressing the Mode button followed by the Info button, and by default, this will put the EOS R5 into Movie Servo AF mode. I also like to check that Face Detection mode is selected, so that the camera will follow you as you move around the screen. This is especially important when you select a wide aperture as the depth of field is so shallow that you’ll quickly go out of focus if you move away from the plane of focus. On the EOS R5 the easiest way to get into Face Detection autofocus mode is to his the Focus Point Selection button in the top right corner on the back of the camera, and then hit the M-Fn button next to the shutter button until the Face icon is selected, as you see in this screenshot. In this mode, the camera will do a great job of keeping your eyes in focus as you move around.

Face Detection Autofocus
Face Detection Autofocus

Auto-ISO

I also find it useful to turn on Auto-ISO while shooting video for streaming as this will keep you relatively well exposed, even if the light changes. I sometimes use an LED video light if I’m streaming after dark, but during the day, if I have my curtains open, the camera still does a great job of getting my face bright. My other dedicated webcams can’t do this. They just go supernova on the light from the window and I go into silhouette. This is another reason why I like to use the EOS Webcam instead of my regular webcams.

Using an External Monitor

You can also use an external monitor if you have one, and I find this especially useful as it forces you to look towards the camera as you check your appearance, and that is good for staying engaged with the people on the other end of the call or meeting. Here I shot a quick photo of my setup with my video monitor attached to the flash shoe of the EOS R5 but pointing forwards so that I can see myself as I stream.

Canon EOS Webcam with Monitor
Canon EOS Webcam with Monitor

Another thing that I generally do is move my display as close to the line of sight of the camera as possible, and then put my zoom screen in the corner of the computer display, and make it as small as possible, so that I am forced to look close to the camera while speaking. Your line of sight still goes away from the viewer though, so when I want to virtually make eye contact, I look directly at the lens of the camera.

It’s not a great photo, but you can also see that the background of my video is significantly out of focus due to the shallow depth of field of the camera. When using my 50mm F/1.2 lens I like to open it up completely for super-shallow depth of field. This looks so much better in a streamed event than having everything tack-sharp, which is, of course, what happens when using the small sensors in regular webcams.

There are benefits to dedicated webcams, of course. They are easy to set up and because they are so small or even embedded into the computer just above the screen, it’s easier to get close to the line of sight of your viewers. There are also some high-end webcams that will follow you around if you stand up and move around, as you might in a product demonstration or presentation. I still use my regular webcams for casual calls and meetings, but when I want to provide professional-looking video, like when teaching at events and camera clubs, I take a few minutes to set up a Canon camera, or two, to make a good impression. We’ll wrap it up there for today. I hope you find this useful. If you do, please consider supporting the podcast as well as gaining access to a range of other benefits by joining our Patreon community. Thanks very much to Christian and Blazej, our latest contributors, and to the others that are already helping to keep the wheels on the MBP Wagon.


Show Notes

EOS Webcam Utility for Mac and Windows: https://www.usa.canon.com/internet/portal/us/home/support/self-help-center/eos-webcam-utility

Music by Martin Bailey


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A Stroll in the Jindai Botanical Park (podcast 761)

A Stroll in the Jindai Botanical Park (podcast 761)


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Last Friday I spent a few hours in the Jindai Botanical Park, my local park, and the reason I moved to Chofu in Tokyo eleven years ago. I took a gimbal that I use to steady my Canon EOS R5 and a new 7″ monitor that I’ve bought for it, partly to test my setup, but I also have wanted to provide some video footage of the Autumn leaves for some time now, so I made my visit into a little project to make a video, basically taking you along with me for “A Stroll in the Park”. I edited the video relatively quickly after getting home on Friday, and then on Sunday, with a rough idea of what I wanted to do for music, I spent a few hours creating what I think is a relatively relaxing piano track that I timed to perfectly match the length of the video. I also set the tempo to a relatively steady pace, as I wanted it to complement just walking through the park.

Here is the resulting video, which I hope you enjoy, and we go on for the Podcast today to explain some of the things I did to make the video and I’ll talk about some of my favorite photographs as well.

So, let’s talk about the process and the photos, etc. as well. First up, here are two photos of the gear that I took with me, out on my table in the studio as I prepared, and packed it into my bag. I also attached my tripod to the bag before we left. As you can see, the gimbal doesn’t really fit into my current bag, so I’m thinking of options that will better suit this type of gear, but for the purposes of this little project, I was fine with just dropping the gimbal into my large vest pocket when not in use.

The Jindai Botanical Park has a number of car parks nearby, and I select which one I use based on what I want to do. The large car park near the main entrance is generally fine, but as you pay by the hour, it can turn out quite pricy. We were in the park for just under three hours, and the car park cost $8 or ¥800. If we want to have a walk through the little group of shops or visit the water garden at the other end of the park, there are some private car parks that charge ¥800 for a whole day, so if I know I’m going to be in the park for more than three hours, I generally park in a private car park near the Jindai Temple.

On this day though, we parked near the main entrance and walked through to the pond where there is a little pagoda that my wife and I generally visit first when we get to the park and enter through the main gate. I sat on one of the benches there and set up my gimbal, so that is where the video starts. I then shot some footage as we walked through the park, along the brook that fills the pond, and across the quaint little stepping stones that I included in the video, then on through one of the main rest areas to the area where the maple trees are that turn yellow and red at this time of year.

I didn’t use what I call the rolling legs technique to steady the video more than the gimbal would already do, for two reasons. The main one being I didn’t want to look like an idiot while on a walk in the park with my wife. If I was on a professional job, I would have bent my legs and walked as steadily as possible, but it wasn’t a professional job, it was a walk in the park. And that is the second reason. I really just wanted the video to feel like you were strolling along beside me, and as you’ll see, the gimbal does a great job of steadying the center of the frame, so you don’t feel nauseous, but the edges of the frame move with my footsteps, so you can see that we’re walking.

I edited the footage to a number of clips that lead us through the park then walk through the maple trees while filming, to give you a feel for the atmosphere. I love this area of the park and don’t think I’ve visited in any season without walking through there, and I think the video helps you to understand why. Once I get to the end of the path, I turn around and come back to the center, but then I packed away the gimbal, and spend another hour or so shooting stills and video with my 100-500mm lens, mostly zoomed all the way to 500mm. All of the footage while walking through the park was shot at around 35mm and I zoomed out to 24mm while walking through the maple trees to show a little more of the colorful canopy.

We’ll look through a number of stills that I shot now, and if you watch the video, you’ll notice that most of them are the same framing as the clips shot from various positions along the maple tree path. In this first shot, we see some of the yellow maple leaves but can also see some patches of orange, which I’ve not noticed in the past. I wondered if the conditions this year would give rise to some hybrid colors if that’s possible, so I’m going to try to go back in a week or so before these leaves fall if only to check.

Mellow Yellow
Mellow Yellow

At 500mm with this lens, my widest aperture is ƒ/7.1, and that was what I shot all of today’s images at, so I won’t keep repeating this. There are also only two that were not shot at 500mm, so I won’t repeat that either. I did most of my exposure manipulation with the ISO and shutter speed, and this was shot at 1/400 of a second, at ISO 400. Once I’ve found some leaves that appeal to me, I start to look at their background and see if there is an angle that I can shoot from that gives me a pleasing background.

When Canon first announced the RF 100-500mm lens, there was the usual spate of complaints that you see online, and one of the main ones was that the aperture at 500mm was too small at ƒ/7.1, but as you can see from this and the rest of the images today, at 500mm ƒ/7.1 provides plenty of smooth bokeh, both in the background and foreground. Complaining about this aperture shows nothing more than a lack of understanding of depth of field.

This next image is a contrast from what I usually shoot. These leaves were in the shadows underneath some brightly lit leaves, but I really like how they fell into almost complete darkness and showed only as silhouettes against the patches of lighter bokeh in the background. This sort of shot is one of the few times that I don’t use my usual expose to the right technique. I could have exposed to the right then darkened this down, but it’s not necessary to get good image quality. I dropped my ISO to 160 for this at 1/200 of a second.

Kouyou Silhouettes
Kouyou Silhouettes

I used the same ISO and a shutter speed of 1/160 of a second for this next shot, where the orange leaves were getting a lick of light, and you can see the darker leaves from the previous shot just poking into the bottom of the frame here.

Forest Fire
Forest Fire

You’ll notice in the video that the contrast between the shadow areas and the spots that get lit through gaps in the canopy can be quite great, and this is one of the reasons that I like this spot. I like to work with extremes, as they provide creative opportunities. Without the shadows, the highlights wouldn’t work in many of these images.

The following image though is all about the contrast between the colors yellow and green.

Yellow in Green
Yellow in Green

I sampled 10 of the key colors from this image automatically in an application called Spectrum that I use when I’m curious about the colors in an image, and really like the color palette from this image. We can also see in the second screenshot here that all of the colors are neighbors on the color wheel, and neighboring colors are generally complementary, but there is enough contrast in the colors to separate the elements out.

We’re back to more of a light and dark contrast in this next image though, as I once again play with the shadows and highlights in these beautiful leaves and their backgrounds. Notice too how I have positioned the batch of leaves just left of center over a darker area of the background, to give them the separate required to appreciate their form. This image was one of the two that I pulled back from 500 to 428 millimeters to get the framing that I wanted. With my shutter speed at 1/160 of a second, I also increased my ISO to 640 for this exposure.

Red Spots
Red Spots

I have to admit though, and long-time listeners may also recall, that I do have a soft spot for the yellow leaves that we see in this following image. Especially with the dark background, I’ve enjoyed shooting this kind of image at this location for probably around fifteen years now, even when I lived in the center of Tokyo, and sometimes drove out here to Chofu to visit this park. I also pulled back a little for this photo to 451 millimeters. I dropped my ISO to 100 for this, with a shutter speed of 1/250 of a second.

Black and Yellow
Black and Yellow

Between all of these shots, I was, of course, switching into video mode, and I left my little RODE mic on top of the camera the whole time so that I could capture the ambient sounds. There is also one point in the video where you hear the large temple bell, which I believe rang out at noon. I always find the sound of these big bells very soothing, so I was happy to have included that in the video.

Next, we see some of the deep red leaves that are at the start of the path through the maple trees. Again, I enjoy the contrast between the dark patches in the background and the out-of-focus other red leaves. We’re back to 500mm for this and the rest of the images, and my ISO was at 250 and my shutter speed was also 250th of a second.

Kouyou
Kouyou

The following image may be worked better towards the end of the video, but I do like the light and dark areas of this image, with the dark tree trunk separating the two sides. You’ll notice how in the video, with this, and many of the cuts, I focussed on a patch of leaves in the foreground before moving the focus out to the red leaves. I enjoy the out-of-focus areas of images and like to play with that when shooting video as well. I’m still focusing with the focus ring on the lens mind. I haven’t invested in a focusing setup for the gimbal, as I’m generally doing OK with the lens, although you’ll probably notice that I did shake the camera a little a few times in the video.

Yin & Yang
Yin & Yang

This final image is a reflection on the surface of the brook that runs through the park. For this, I focussed on the silhouetted maple leaves against the patch of red, but as you’ll see in the closing scene of the video, there were many layers to this image as I focussed through to eventually settle on the leaves sitting on top of the water, before fading to black for the ending credits.

Koyou Reflections
Koyou Reflections

Since DSLR cameras became video aware I’ve been shooting what I call moving stills, which are generally around 30-second clips framed like photos, but when you look closer they are moving. There is one section in the video where the leaves are so still, if it wasn’t for one leaf rotating on a thread of a spider’s web, you’d think it actually was a still photograph, but everything in the video is video, with no stills.

I’ll put B&H links to the main gear used in the show notes for this episode, and will follow up soon with an episode dedicated to talking more about the Weebill-S gimbal and supporting kit that I’m using with this. I also have a bit of information on what to avoid when buying a gimbal for the Canon EOS R5 and EOS R, so stay tuned for that if you are interested. All in all, it was a fun little project, and I enjoyed the entire process, and I hope you enjoyed joining me for a stroll in the park.


Show Notes

Canon EOS R5 Body: https://mbp.ac/EOSR5

Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens: https://mbp.ac/rf24-105

Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM Lens: https://mbp.ac/100-500

Zhiyun-Tech WEEBILL-S Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer: https://mbp.ac/wbs

FeelWorld LUT7 7” 3D LUT 4K HDMI Monitor: https://mbp.ac/fw7

Rode VideoMicro Ultracompact Camera-Mount Shotgun: https://mbp.ac/rvm

Music by Martin Bailey


Audio

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The Universe in Three Drops of Water (Podcast 759)

The Universe in Three Drops of Water (Podcast 759)


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Over the last week, I’ve been on safari. Not in Africa, or even a cheesy safari park, but in three drops of water on a microscope slide. I spent multiple hours looking at a number of slides with drops of river water on them from the Tama River, which runs just five minutes from our Tokyo apartment. The experience was, to a degree, relatively life-changing. I was amazed by not only the number and variety of organisms found in just a few drops but possibly more intriguing was their resilience.

Not only did they seem to be perfectly happy to live in a glass jar for around four days before I put them back in the river, but they also seemed to be mostly fine with being tapped off their root or scraped off of a piece of reed, and sandwiched between two pieces of glass for hours at a time. They just kept going about their business, rummaging around, eating, and crapping, regardless of where they were.

I actually emptied the four jars of water and various organisms back into the river last Sunday, and I’ve spent most of the last week creating a video, which I’ve embedded into this blog post below. I’d have completed this a day sooner, but DaVinci Resolve decided it would be a good idea to delete four days worth of editing while I had breakfast on Thursday, and the rest of Thursday was taken rebuilding what I’d lost, so this has taken longer than necessary, but I’m happy with the results. The video is the main content for this week, but I did want to share a few photos with you as well, and talk about some of the creatures that I met on my microscope slide.

I’d also like to warn you before you look at the video, that it may actually disturb some people to know what is in plain old river water. I found the majority of the organisms attached some plant life that was put into my sample jars, and the majority of what I saw was, in my opinion, as cute as can be. But while looking at some cute plankton, we were occasionally visited by what looked like, in comparison, I giant almost transparent anaconda snake, with lots of little four-toed legs.

I’ve put two warnings in the video, shortly before the anaconda enters the screen, and I mention how long it will be there as well if you want to overt your eyes. I personally found it fascinating, like the rest of the organisms, but I imagine some people will not be overall happy with the visit. In fact, even the plankton going about its business might disturb some people, so only watch if this sort of thing interests you. Anyway, here is the video, starting with an explanation of the project and a bit of footage of fetching the samples, followed by around 30 minutes of footage through the microscope. As you watch, keep in mind that there are two main types of plankton. Phytoplankton, which are plants, and zooplankton, which are animals. Pretty much everything in this video falls into these two groups of plankton.

I hope you enjoyed the video. Let’s also take a look at a few of my favorite photos from the project, and I’ll explain some of the challenges faced as well. First up, here is a light field photograph of a Nematode otherwise known as a roundworm. These are very common, and can exist in both water and in soil, and are also able to live in acidic substances such as vinegar. They can be parasitic, and some species will bore into the soles of human feet if you walk barefoot in a river or on soil with Nematodes in it. I’m including this shot mostly to start explaining the difficulties of photographing plankton.

Nematode
Nematode

Because this was light field, with light being passed directly through the microscope slide, there was quite a lot of light to work with, especially as I’ve customized my microscope to add more light via an additional LED ring light around the original single LED light, but still, to try and freeze this Nematode, which tend to wriggle around all the time, I increased my shutter speed to a 1/500 of a second. With this shutter speed, because of the higher light levels, I was able to use an ISO of 6400, which is good compared to most of the following examples I’ll share.

I then switched to dark field microscopy, which, as I explain at the start of the video, is a technique that can be used by placing an opaque disk between the light source ant the subject, and adjusting the size of the disk, the distance of the light from the slide, and the diaphragm that controls the diameter of the light, so that the light spills onto the subject from the sides rather than passing directly through it, as in the previous image.

Rabbit Rotifer with Phytoplankton
Rabbit Rotifer with Phytoplankton

What you are looking at here is a Lapadella, a type of Rotifer, which in my Japanese Plankton book translates as a Rabbit Rotifer, probably because the two-toed tail that you can just about see in this image looks like rabbit ears. You’ll see that better in the following images, but I wanted to include this to show how dark field microscopy illuminates the surrounding phytoplankton, and in my opinion makes for much more pleasing images. There is also less to clean up. With the previous light field image I had to clean up the background quite a lot, but this image is pretty much straight out of the camera, with just a simple tone curve applied to increase the contrast a little. Also, to try and freeze this Rotifer as it swam around, I tried working with 1/1000 of a second shutter speeds, which required ISO 20000 to get this exposure, so I was starting to push the limits a little here.

For this next image though, I changed to the 40X objective lens, to get a closer look at the Rabbit Rotifer, but with that, because of the lower light that the lens collects at this magnification, the ISO jumped up to 51200 at 1/1000 so I had to run this through On1’s NoNoise AI software to clean it up. That still produces a usable image, but definition drops slightly using these settings.

Rabbit Rotifer
Rabbit Rotifer

I’m also fighting with the poor image quality that I get with my camera adapter, as well as the very shallow depth of field. I have been overcoming these restrictions by doing a lot of focus stacking, but for moving subjects, focus stacking isn’t possible. I got lucky with this next photo, as this creature, which I believe is a type of Copepod, stayed very still for a while as I shot a 39 frame stack. Shortly after I finished my stack he swam away at speed, so I was very lucky, but the stack also recorded trails in the debris that flowed past the organism as I made more frames, which I thought was quite effective as a photograph as well.

Copepod
Copepod

Because it was stationary though, I was also able to reduce my shutter speed to 0.3 seconds and use ISO 400, so the image quality is greatly increased with this settings and the focus stack. This was one of just a few images that I was able to shoot like this though, with the majority of the rest being single shots, struggling with shutter speed and ISO settings trying to make the most of what I was being presented with.

Having learned from the first few days that I really needed to get my ISO down lower than it was going, I reduced my shutter speed to 1/250 of a second, and accepted a little more subjected movement over grain for this next image, in which I was able to get three Rabbit Rotifers in the frame together.

Three Rabbit Rotifers
Three Rabbit Rotifers

They are providing a top, bottom and side view, so this is one of my favorite shots that really illustrates this beautiful life from.

In the next image we can see the outlined lorica which almost look like little wings, but it’s actually just the outer shell of the Rotifer being caught by the light and actually continues down to the base of the foot.

Rabbit Rotifer in Open Space
Rabbit Rotifer in Open Space

Still at 1/250 of a second shutter speed, my ISO was a 20000 for this shot, Once again here I ran this through On1 NoNoise AI to bring the grain caused by the large dark portion of this image under control.

This final shot is another of my favorites, shot with the 40X objective, the Rabbit Rotifer was stopping still for a few moments at a time, so I reduced my shutter speed to 1/125 of a second, and got a few shots where it was still, and relatively clear. There are also a couple of air bubbles which I was intrigued to find that the plankton has a very hard time with. The surface tension of the air is impenetrable despite seeing the Rotifer interact with the air a few times. It’s like a solid wall to them.

Rabbit Rotifer with Air Bubbles
Rabbit Rotifer with Air Bubbles

I don’t really have anything that I’m all that happy with of the Mouse Rotifer, which appears frequently in the video. They are slightly smaller than the Rabbit Rotifer, but their behavior is just like little mice, scurrying around in their environment, eating the algae on the phytoplankton. Anyway, we’ll leave it there for now. Please do watch the video when you have time. If you are listening to this you can jump directly to the video on Vimeo with the short link https://mbp.ac/universe.


Show Notes

Check out the video on Vimeo here: https://mbp.ac/universe

Music by Martin Bailey


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MBP Patreon Program and Benefits In Detail (Podcast 758)

MBP Patreon Program and Benefits In Detail (Podcast 758)


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One of the benefits that I’ve included in our new Patreon program is a monthly Question Time live event in which patrons get to ask me anything photography related, but as we are just getting started, I figured I’d kick off the first Question Time by fully explaining the new Patreon program, walking you through each of the tiers, and the respective benefits. Here is the video, which I recorded ad-lib rather than reading this out, but if you prefer to read, my notes follow after the video.

I know that some of you will also be wondering why I’ve started the Patreon program now, after sixteen years of Podcasting and blogging, so I’ll start by explaining that. For most of the last sixteen years, I’ve been happy to provide content completely free of charge, mostly because since 2008 the Podcast enabled me to run my Tours and Workshops, which have been selling out for up to two years in advance for most of that time. When I incorporated Martin Bailey Photography K.K. in November 2010, my tours were the center-pole of the business, and have remained the largest slice of revenue by far. I was happy to do the Podcast for free because for various reasons it was leading to a percentage of the audience sitting on a bus, boat, or jeep with me, in some corner of this amazing planet that we live on.

And then the pandemic struck, and my tours are all on hold. I haven’t been able to run a tour in 18 months now, and we have just made the heartbreaking decision to postpone the 2022 winter tours out to 2023 as well, meaning I’ll have gone over two years without any revenue from my tours, and it’s becoming hard to justify spending one or two days each week working on the blog and podcast when it’s not directly putting food on the table.

As I said a few weeks ago, I promised that the Podcast itself would always be free, and I am keeping that promise. If you come to the Website to listen to a Podcast and view the images without a Patreon contribution, the posts will have an audio player and the images in a gallery. If you subscribe in a podcast player like Overcast, you will also be able to see the images and they change as we progress through the episode, and that will remain completely free of charge, as promised. If, however, you would like to view the full text with images laid out in article form, from now on this is going to require a small monthly contribution, but this is only a part of all of the benefits that I’m making available, and I’m going to move on to explain all of those in a moment.

Before that though, I want to explain that the Patreon program is not about me begging for money. I’ll get through the pandemic, but I have to prioritize my time, and I feel that there is value in what I’m creating. From the fact that some people were already paying contributions to support the podcast directly from the website, I know that there are people that appreciate what I do and want to support that. At a basic level, I’m really just giving people that want to help a way to support what I do. This was not an easy decision, but I feel that it is the right way to move forward, and these payments show me that some people appreciate what I do, and that will keep me going by enabling me to justify the amount of time I put into the podcast each week.

Support & Unlock

It was not an easy decision but I’m also trying to strike a balance between the Podcast and the development work that is taking up so much of my time, so these contributions, your support, is incredibly valuable to me as I take my business into the future. It’s because of this, that I made it a common goal of all of the Patreon levels that I created, a simple statement, Support the Podcast. This isn’t a material benefit. That alone doesn’t provide you with any more than knowing that you are supporting my efforts, but some of you are already showing that you are willing to do that, and I’m incredibly grateful for that.

There are two more benefits in the first tier named Support & Unlock which are Unlocking All MBP Blog Posts and Unlocking the MBP Community. I already covered the blog posts, but to recap, this makes all of the posts available in full, with the text and images laid out for you to follow along with. I also know that some people simply prefer to read, and the Support & Unlock tier allows visitors to do that. It opens all posts throughout the site, while ever you have an active contribution. The MBP Community is a new forum that I’ve built on the Discourse Civilized Discussion system. It’s a great system and the conversations are just getting underway, but as members join it will be a great place to discuss all things photography. The Support & Unlock tier is just $3 per month to help me out, unlock over 750 posts and gain access to the new MBP Community, and there are no long term commitments. If you decide you no longer want to contribute, you can stop at any time.

MBP Community Discourse
MBP Community Discourse

MBP Member Tier

The next tier up is the MBP Member, which includes the same benefits just covered, and also includes a high-resolution Monthly Desktop Wallpaper that I send out each month and the ability to send in text-based questions for the monthly Question Time event. This tier also includes access to the Question Time archive which will hopefully build into a valuable resource as people start to get involved. The MBP Member tier is $5 per month.

MBP Pro Tier

This next level is the MBP Pro tier which in addition to the previous tier benefits includes the previous two years of Monthly high-resolution desktop wallpaper and access to the MBP Post eBook Library in which all of the eBooks for posts for the last two years can be opened in a rich reader, with a download button to grab a copy of the book for offline reading. The eBooks are all 4K resolution so they look great even on large computer screens and 4K televisions.

MBP Pro + Mini Landscape Prints

This tier also enables the patron to join the monthly Question Time even in-person to ask questions live, or if the patron has an image that they’d like me to critique, we can take those during the question time as well, and of course, access to the Question Time archive is also included. There is also an exclusive MBP Pro lounge in the MBP Community that is restricted to this level of Patron and higher. This tier costs $10 per month.

MBP Landscape Mini-Prints
MBP Landscape Mini-Prints

The next tier is the same as the MBP Pro tier but includes a 4 x 6″ Mini Landscape Prints fulfilled by Patreon for every three months that you remain an active contributor. Soon I’m going to add some Wildlife and Flower print options as well if landscapes aren’t your thing. These Mini-Print levels are $12 per month.

MBP Pro + Merchandise

The next tier has the same benefits as the previous MBP Pro tier, but there are rewards in the form of merchandise for people that continue to contribute for three months, six months, 9 months, and 12 months. Here is a gallery of the merchandise, with each quarterly reward running in the order with which they are shipped. This tier is $18 per month.

MBP Mentorship Tiers

The last two tiers include everything from the previous tier, including the merchandise rewards for staying onboard for each quarter, but these tiers are actually full-blown mentorships. They include one-to-one discussions of 40 minutes and 60 minutes respectively each month, and based on those discussions I’ll be developing custom assignments and providing advice and mentorship tailored for each individual mentee. I have one lady on the 60-minute track already and I’ve been able to help her a lot with a project that she’s working on. Because these top two tiers require 40 and 60-minute sessions as well as time to create customized assignments each month, I am limiting the number of people that I take on these tiers to eight and seven mentees respectively, for a total of 15 mentees, to ensure that I will be able to assign the time necessary to run these tracks should I actually fill them.

So, that’s an outline of the benefits of each of the six tiers available on the Patreon program. We currently have six patrons on board, so a huge thanks to Karl, Peter, Mary, Gudjon, Richard, and Bryan for your support! You can check the details of each of the patron tiers at https://mbp.ac/patreon and if you value what I’m doing here it would be great if you could show your support and jump onboard one of these tiers. If you’d like to become a mentee and get private tuition to help take your photography to a whole new level, please sign up for one of the two mentorship levels.

OK, so I go into more detail and provide visuals as well in the video, so please check that out, but we’ll wrap this up for today, and hopefully, as we get more participation from the patron community, these Question Time videos will become patron-only, as planned, rather than a way for me to spread the word.

Freebie Post

This post is unlocked for non-Patrons as it is a sponsored post or advertising Martin Bailey Photography products. If you found it useful and would like to unlock all other posts please click the button below. Thank you for your support!

Become a Patron!

 


Show Notes

View details on our Patreon page: https://mbp.ac/patreon

Music by Martin Bailey


Audio

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Devices To Make a Photographer’s Life Easier (Podcast 725)

Devices To Make a Photographer’s Life Easier (Podcast 725)


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Today I’m going to talk about five pieces of kit that I use that make my life as a photographer easier. These aren’t necessarily anything special, but occasionally I find things that I had not been aware of to that point, and after using them for a while, I can’t imagine going back to the time that I didn’t have that particular item. Everything I’m going to talk about today falls into that category. Some are video-centric rather than still photography related, but as a photographer in the broader sense, these items are no longer far from my camera or laptop bag as I work.

One other thing to mention before we start is that because I live in Japan, sometimes what’s available to me is different to what you’ll be able to get in your home country. I’ve tried to find something similar on B&H Photo or Amazon.com, but it wasn’t always possible. When that’s the case, if you like what you’ve seen, do a search for it yourself in your own market, and if you find anything worth sharing, please leave a comment on this post.

I’m going to start with two battery power related items that sometimes work in tandem for me, but both are incredibly useful. The first of them is a dual battery charger that I use to charge my LP-E6NH batteries for the Canon EOS R5, and was using it for the regular LP-E6N batteries before the R5 came along. The battery charger that comes with the EOS R5 is slightly smaller in area than my dual charger, but it’s almost twice the thickness and weighs more, and it’s only able to charge one battery.

Dual Battery Charger
Dual Battery Charger

The dual charger enables me to charge two batteries at the same time, and although that seems like a no-brainer, the old dual battery charger for the Canon 1 Series camera batteries had two slots, but would only charge one battery at a time and that was with a regular electricity supply. The important thing to note here is my dual charger runs on USB power, and that is a huge benefit for the traveling photographer. At a push, I can charge my batteries with power from my laptop, although I generally use a small USB power block and charge from an electrical outlet, or use one of the USB ports on a rechargeable battery pack that we’ll also look at shortly.

Although it’s not the exact same model, I found something very similar to my dual battery charger on Amazon.com and it also states compatibility with the Canon EOS R5 LP-E6NH batteries, but it’s important to note that if you are considering buying something like this, you’ll need to check for support for your camera’s batteries. I’ve only checked for the EOS R5 at this point. Either way, you can see the model I found on Amazon.com.

The other big benefit is that with batteries set into the dual charger, I can actually plug in a USB cable and use those batteries to charge something else if I was in a fix. I’ve never had to do that, but I have used a rechargeable battery pack to charge my Canon batteries while on the bus during my tours, and that can be a lifesaver on long wildlife photography days. The rechargeable battery is the second item that I wanted to recommend, and it’s amazing because it not only enables me to charge multiple devices multiple times with a single charge, but it has a wireless charging port built-in.

Rechargeable Battery Pack with Wireless Charging
Rechargeable Battery Pack with Wireless Charging

I can simply place my iPhone on top of it and get a wireless charger when I travel. Space is often at a premium when I travel, so I try to find items that give me the most bang for the buck as it were, and I’ve found myself relying on this battery pack more than I ever thought I would. I can plug it into a USB port or a small USB adapter, and charge its internal battery pack at the same time as charging my phone. When you are looking for one of these though if you intend to fly with it, ensure that the one you get is within the limits that you are allowed to carry on to a flight.

Generally when I arrive at a hotel, one of the first things I do after starting my image transfer is setting up a charging station using this battery pack. What’s more, because it is also charged by the time I leave my room again, if necessary I can use it to charge my phone while I’m away from electricity or even plug in a USB cable and charge other devices. As I mentioned, I can also charge my camera batteries using the first item that we looked at, so it can be a bit of a life-saver power-wise.

Unfortunately, I was not able to find anything with similar features to my rechargeable battery. There were lots of them that had good power batteries, and multiple USB charging ports, but no Wireless charging. There were also some with wireless charging but they weren’t very powerful, so I’m going to leave you with the idea, and hope that you’ll be able to find something similar in your own market.

Filter Wrench

The third item that I want to mention is a filter wrench, as these have saved the day for me and for my tour clients a number of times. I actually first got a pair of these made of relatively flimsy plastic as a freebie with a photography magazine around 20 years ago, but they flexed too much and were slightly on the small side, so last year I found this metal pair with full rubberized grip and they work very well.

Filter Wrench
Filter Wrench

The idea is that occasionally, especially when going in and out of cold conditions, you can end up with a filter stuck to your lens, or if you nest filters, you can find that they cannot be parted. If that happens, you simply attach one of these clamps to the filter, and the second to the end of the lens or second filter, and then twist the clamps to loosen and then remove the stuck filter. I always keep these in my camera bag and have used them many times. I found something similar to the ones I have on B&H Photo here.

RØDE Wireless Go Mic

The next two items that I wanted to talk about are really for videographers rather than stills photographers but It thought these were worth a mention, as I know many photographers work with video as well as stills these days, and I have found these little mics to be invaluable. First, I wanted to show you the RØDE Wireless Go clip-on mic system. At just under $200 this isn’t the cheapest way to mic up a subject, but it’s not deal-breaker expensive either, and I personally think it’s worth every penny.

RØDE Wireless Go Mic
RØDE Wireless Go Mic

The reason this makes a photographer’s life easier is because your quality audio is embedded directly into your video, and that saves time later. Although I’ve used this method a lot, I have also captured audio separately to get the best quality, and the extra steps that it requires to synchronize the audio and then the extra care required to keep it in synch as you edit the video can all mount up time-wise.

As you can see in this next photo, the set includes a windshield for the mic. In fact, it comes with two, as they can fall off relatively easily because they just clip into the top of the Transmitter. This system is incredibly easy to use though. You just turn them on and they pair in a second or two. They are small, both around 45mm square, and weigh just 31 grams each. If you need a more concealable mic, you can buy a lavalier mic that plugs into the transmitter as well. Both the Transmitter and Reciever have clips on them so that they be attached to pretty much anything, and the clip fits snuggly into the flash shoe of a camera as well, so you can mount the Receiver to the top of the camera and then plug in the TRS cable to the mic input of the camera.

RØDE Wireless Go Mic with Windshield
RØDE Wireless Go Mic with Windshield

The kit comes with two USB-C cables as the units contain rechargeable batteries and can also be charged while in use if you need extended battery time, although they’ll run for up to 7 hours on a single charge, so I’ve never had to do that. As you can see from the above photo, there is a dB button that toggles the output pad between 0dB, -12dB, and -24dB to tailor the output levels to your needs. I’ve found that -12dB works about the best in most situations, but it really depends on the working environment. Apparently, you can use up to 8 kits in the same location, and they will automatically pair accurately to their partner unit, and they will work for up to 70 meters or 230 feet, but I’ve not tested that myself.

RØDE Wireless Go Mic System
RØDE Wireless Go Mic System

You can find the Wireless Go system on B&H Photo here, currently retailing for $199. Here’s a photo of the entire system with the box so that you can see everything that comes in the kit. There is also a warranty card so that you can register your purchase and get a two-year warranty. The same goes for the next item, which is a second mic from RØDE that I have also fallen in love with.

RØDE VideoMicro Mic

A close relative to the Wireless Go Mic is the VideoMicro, which is a tiny little shotgun mic that I’ve found to provide audio quality that you’d usually expect to hear from much larger and more expensive mics. It uses a cardioid polar pattern to focus on sound coming from the front while reducing sound coming from the rear. I’ve used three RØDE video mics over the years and found them all to be excellent, but for the size and price of the VideoMicro mic, at less than $60, you really can’t go wrong.

RØDE VideoMicro Mic
RØDE VideoMicro Mic

I have found that I simply don’t pack the larger video mics when I’m heading out unless I am heading out specifically to shoot video, which is rarely the case. I do enjoy shooting video occasionally though, and having the ability to drop such a high-quality mic into my bag without taking up any real room to speak of, makes this a very welcome addition to my kit bag.

RØDE VideoMicro Mic with Windshield
RØDE VideoMicro Mic with Windshield

The VideoMicro comes with a good-sized windshield to reduce wind-noise when used outside, and a Rycote Lyre suspension-style shock mount that’s easy to clip-on and helps to minimize the transfer of vibration and operation sounds from the camera. If you turn dials that make a clicking sound, I’ve found that the mic does still pick them up, but I haven’t been able to detect any other operation sounds at this point. The shock mount has a built-in camera shoe mount with a 3/8″ thread, so it can be attached to your camera or a boom pole if necessary.

RØDE VideoMicro Mic with Box
RØDE VideoMicro Mic with Box

You can find the RØDE VideoMicro on B&H Here. As I mentioned it is currently listed at just under $60 which is a steal for a mic of this quality, and the size really matches how I want to work right now. Just so that you can picture the different use for these two systems, I am using the Wireless Go for the spoken word with me or a subject in front of the camera, and the VideoMicro is in my case more for collecting ambient audio. I tend to do a lot of what I call Moving Stills, where I’m shooting a scene and just want to capture the ambient sound along with the video. This system would work just as well for a subject relatively close to the camera though.

Comparison Test

I recorded a few seconds of audio with both of these mics and embedded it directly into a video by plugging the TRS cable into the Mic In port on the Canon EOS R5. I then extracted the audio and will play it for you now so that you can hear the difference. First, I’ll play the RØDE Wireless Go Mic, followed by the RØDE VideoMicro Mic.

<< PLEASE LISTEN TO THE AUDIO WITH THE PLAYER AT THE TOP OF THE POST >>

As you have heard, the WIreless Go is slightly richer, but with a little processing both mics really are stellar performers, so I wanted to include them in this round-up review of pieces of kit that I wouldn’t like to be without. We’ll wrap it up there for this week though. I hope you found that useful. If you decide to buy any of these products please use our links, as that helps to support the blog and podcast at no extra cost to you.


Show Notes

These are affiliate links. Although the price of these products to you is unchanged, you help to support the blog and podcast by using these links.

Dual Battery Charger on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3q3UWfl

Filter wrench: https://mbp.ac/fw

RØDE Wireless Go: https://mbp.ac/rwg
RØDE VideoMicro: https://mbp.ac/rvm

Music by Martin Bailey


Audio

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Download this Podcast as an MP3 with Chapters.

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