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Sennheiser MKE 400: Best Microphone for Creators

Sennheiser MKE 400 Mobile Kit with iPhone

High-quality audio is critical to making videos people want to watch. You can always edit around a bad shot, but if the person on screen is indecipherable, your audience isn’t going to stick around to see how your opus ends. The built-in microphones found on DSLRs and smartphones pump out pathetic sound, but you also don’t need to have a Michael Bay budget to get into good gear. The Sennheiser MKE 400 Mobile Kit delivers satisfying sound at an affordable price, making it an excellent entry point into the world of better audio. So read on and to find out how this Sennheiser microphone will elevate your audio and help your projects sing.   

So, what is the Sennheiser MKE 400 Mobile Kit?

Sennheiser’s MKE 400 Mobile Kit contains an updated MKE 400 shotgun microphone (which was first released way back in 2008), a metal clamp with integrated cold-shoe that holds your phone and the mic, a desk-top tripod that doubles as a handle, a fuzzy windscreen for blustery days, and two locking 3.5mm cables—one to attach to a DSLR, mirrorless camera, or field recorder; and the other to connect the mic to a smartphone. For a relatively affordable retail price of $229.95, the MKE 400 transports beginners away from their built-in phone or camera microphone and into the world of more professional sound recording. At only 3 ounces, the mic’s also a compact, lightweight option for vloggers or journalists in the field who want to use their phones to broadcast live, or who want a feature-rich mic that won’t bust their budget. 

The Sennheiser shotgun mic’s narrow, supercardioid polar pattern picks up audio from whatever direction it’s facing while rejecting sound from off to the side. This makes it excellent for recording interview subjects or speakers.

The Sennheiser MKE 400’s design

Sennheiser MKE 400 on a Blackmagic cinema camera

Is the Sennheiser MKE 400 ready for its close-up?

Is the Sennheiser MKE 400 ready for its close-up? Brian S. Hawkins

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ProsCons
Won’t weigh down your rigFront audio jack is awkward
Protective metal housingMic mount can’t tilt
Versatile phone-clampTripod lacks a bubble-level
Captures clear, focused audioAudio-gain is easy to accidentally engage

I’ve worked with a lot of microphones over the years, and I was immediately struck by the 5-inch, 3.2-ounce Sennheiser MKE 400’s compact size. It never got in the way when I attached it to either my iPhone 12 Mini, using the included clamp, or my $2,500 Blackmagic Pocket 6K Pro cinema camera (which has a similar design profile as a DSLR). I like to keep my rigs lean and I was happy that the microphone didn’t add any uncomfortable bulk or get in the way of my having a solid grip on the camera. 

The barrel-like metal housing with its integrated windscreen and internal shock mount gives the shotgun microphone a clean and professional look while protecting the capsule from damage in the field. Shock mounts help prevent handling noise from spoiling your sound by floating the microphone in its holder using thick, rubber bands. Often, they’re located on the outside where they’re more susceptible to wear—I like the added protection provided by Sennheiser’s design. 

On the right of the microphone’s battery compartment are the 3.5mm headphone jack and volume rocker button. Switches for the three-step input volume, and an included 80Hz cut-off, are positioned next to the on/off button on the mic’s left side, and I had no problem reaching them when out on shoots. The 80Hz cut-off decreases low-frequency response, which helps reduce sounds like crowd noise, traffic, and other rumbles that might muddy up your recording. 

I did find the input volume switch a bit too easy to slide, and twice when shooting I accidentally knocked it, cutting the mic’s volume. Thankfully, I wasn’t recording anything with critical audio, but it’s definitely something to watch out for.  

Curiously, Sennheiser placed the 3.5mm output jack at the front of the microphone, and I had to be careful about accidentally letting the cable fall in front of the lens on my iPhone 12 Mini. The cable’s a nice shade of blue, no doubt, but it’s not something I want cluttering up my video frame.

The microphone’s jack has threads to screw and lock the cable in place, which I love. Sennheiser smartly included a TRRS cable for use with phones—so you can make calls with the mic plugged in—but I was disappointed that the company didn’t provide an adapter for modern iPhones, which no longer have 3.5mm inputs. At the very least, I’d love to see some sort of locking mechanism for third-party adapters; the Lightning port on the phone doesn’t provide the tightest grip, making it a point of potential failure in the audio chain. 

Sennheiser included what might be the absolute best phone holder I’ve ever used—and I have a box with literally half-a-dozen holders that failed me over the years. Made from aluminum, the unit features not only a cold-shoe connector for holding the mic, but also industry-standard 1/4-20 threaded holes for mounting to tripods, monopods, and all sorts of external arms and plates. It also has a spring-loaded clamp that locks securely into place. This holder is rugged and clearly designed with professionals in mind. 

The included desk-top tripod comes from Manfrotto, a leader in the field, and the fuzzy windscreen for outdoor use is a nice extra that did a good job cutting wind noise when I shot outdoors.

Sound quality

I’m a jerk. On a recent interview shoot, I decided to pit the more humble Sennheiser MKE 400 shotgun microphone against Sennheiser’s flagship boom microphone, the $1,200 MKH 50P48. This supercardioid microphone is used industrywide by recording engineers in TV and film and costs about four times as much as the MKE 400. I knew it wasn’t a fair fight, but putting the Sennheiser microphones side-by-side is a great way to really hear what the budget shotgun does well and where it falls short. 

Sennheiser says the frequency response of the MKE 400 is 50Hz to 20,000Hz, but that doesn’t really tell us how the mic sounds. In my real-world test, I found the Sennheiser MKE 400 to be thinner sounding than the more nuanced MKH 50—not at all surprising. However, I was very happy with how clearly the MKE captured natural-sounding dialogue from the person being interviewed. The directional mic also did an excellent job of rejecting some of the room noise (like a distant air-conditioning unit I couldn’t turn off) and the sounds of traffic from outside the building. 

I also mounted the mic to the video camera I use for hand-held shooting—this time without the high-end competition—and spent a day filming in my neighborhood. I spoke to people on streets busy with traffic and pedestrian crowds and found the microphone did an excellent job of keeping the subject’s voice separate from the natural sound around us. It doesn’t completely isolate it (no mic will do that), but the conversation seems to hang above the ambient noise instead of getting lost in it. A robust mid-range combined with the 80Hz low-cut does a good job of increasing clarity without becoming harsh or tinny sounding.

Finally, even though I’m not a vlogger, I pretended by attaching the microphone to my phone facing myself, and then I walked the neighborhood again while giving a tour to my nonexistent audience. From only a few feet away, the microphone picked me up loud and clear. I had to set the input volume to its lowest level (-20dB), which also helped prevent background noise from seeping in. So, as vlogging equipment the Sennheiser MKE 400 was great. However, once done, I promptly erased the narration; it was terrible, and I’m never going to have a career as a host on a TV travel show.

The rest of the specs

Sennheiser MKE 400 and an iPhone 12 Mini
The Sennheiser MKE 400 shotgun mic doesn’t just phone it in. Brian S. Hawkins

The Sennheiser MKE 400 runs on two AAA batteries, which Sennheiser claims will last 100 hours—this is actually a downgrade from the original 2008 model of the MKE 400, which the company estimated would last 300 hours on a single AAA battery. 

I left the shotgun mic on for four days straight, recording about 15 hours of audio in that time, and the two AAA batteries never ran out of juice. I did get a low-battery warning at about 96 hours. Audio quality was consistent throughout the entire run. That’s impressive. However, I wouldn’t recommend using the mic in this way. Best practices really dictate changing batteries before a shoot; why risk dropping audio at a crucial time just because you were too cheap to spend extra on batteries? Do yourself a favor and keep a couple of packs in your kit.  

The microphone features a convenient auto-on/auto-off function. When it’s attached to DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, it turns on and off when the camera does. It also worked well with my iPhone 12 Mini whether I used Apple’s native video app or my video app of choice, Filmic Pro. The on/off button itself needs to be held down for a couple of seconds to turn off the mic, which helps prevent accidental shut down.  

So, who should buy the Sennheiser MKE 400 Mobile Kit?

If you’re new to external camera microphones, the Sennheiser MKE 400 is a great choice for your first shotgun mic. It compares favorably in price and quality with similar mics by companies like the VideoMic by Rode (or RØDE, if you enjoy hunting for special characters), but when you throw in all the extras included with the mobile kit, there’s a lot of bang for the buck. This compact, durably built directional microphone is also an excellent choice for anyone who wants to keep their video kit compact. Journalists and documentary-makers will love the shotgun mic’s simple, all-in-one design and ability to pull voices out of crowds—it’s great for on-the-street interviews. And finally, its flexibility and portability will appeal to anyone needing vlogging equipment, especially folks who like to take their show on the road by streaming live from their phones.

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Amazon UK Prime Day 21-22nd June 2021 – Adobe Photography Plan Only £79.99

Amazon UK Prime Day 21-22nd June 2021 - Adobe Photography Plan Only £79.99

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Amazon Prime Day is happening on the 21-22nd June 2021, and there are a number of great deals available for photographers, with lenses, cameras and accessories available. We will be monitoring the deals available, and sharing them here. Let us know what you spot!

Click this link to see all the offers that Amazon Prime day has to offer!

 

Latest Photography Deals

 

Best Smartphone Deals

 

Best Photography Deals – Lenses – Sony

 

Best Photography Deals – Lenses – Olympus

 

Best Photography Deals – Cameras – Sony

  • Sony DSC-WX500 (18.2 MP, 30 x Optical Zoom, Wi-Fi, NFC) – was £275, now £194
  • Sony HX400 DSCHX400VB.CEH Bridge (Electronic View Finder, 20.4 MP, 50x Optical High Zoom, Wi-Fi, NFC) – was £349, now £279
  • Sony RX100 VI Compact (1.0-Type Sensor, 24-200 mm F2.8-4.5 Zeiss Lens, 4K Movie Recording and Flip Screen) was £825, now £699
  • Sony RX100 III (1.0-Type Sensor, 24-70 mm F1.8-2.8 Zeiss Lens and Flip Screen) was £419, now £352

 

Best Photography Deals – Cameras – Panasonic

 

Best Photography Deals – Cameras – Canon

 

Best Photography Deals – Cameras – Nikon

 

Find more Camera Prime Day Deals here!

 

 

Amazon Prime Day

More great deals and offers that you can take advantage of during Amazon Prime days:

Audible Prime Day Offer

Get 3 months of Audible for 99p, exclusively for Amazon Prime members*. Offer is available until 22nd June 11:59pm BST. Membership includes an unbeatable selection of new releases, best sellers and Audible Original audiobooks and podcasts.

*Offer is not available to existing Audible members or those already participating in an Audible free trial.

Get this Offer from Amazon UK

 

Save 30% on selected products from Amazon Warehouse exclusively for Prime members            

From June 21, 2021, 12:00 am to June 22, 2021, 11:59 pm, Amazon Prime customers get 30% discount of selected products from Amazon Warehouse. The discount will be automatically deducted at checkout. All participating products can be found in this link. The offer cannot be combined with other promotional offers.

Save 30% on Amazon Warehouse

 

Amazon Music Unlimited: 6 months free Echo Dot bundle

For a limited time, your readers will get 6 months of Amazon Music Unlimited when they buy an Echo Dot 4th Gen. £7.99/month after. Prime members only. Renews automatically. Terms apply. This promotional offer is valid until 22 June, 2021.

Deal period 3 – 22 June

Echo Dot Bundle

 

Amazon Music Unlimited: 4 months free

Deal period: 02/06/21 9AM – 22/06/21 9AM (BST)

4 months FREE Unlimited access to 70 million songs. For a limited time, your readers will get 4 months of Amazon Music Unlimited for FREE. Play any song on demand and ad-free. Keep listening with unlimited skips and listen to all your favourite music offline. £7.99/month for Prime members only. Terms apply.

Get this Music Deal on Amazon UK

 

Kindle Unlimited

Promotion: 3 months for £0.00, targeted to all Prime members. Excluding current active subscribers

Deal period: 02/06/21-22/06/21

Enjoy 3 months of Kindle Unlimited for £0.00. Start reading, with over 1 million titles, audiobooks, comics and selected magazine subscriptions. Exclusive for eligible Prime members. Terms and conditions apply.

Get this Kindle Deal on Amazon UK

 

Prime Wardrobe

Promotion: £15 off first Prime Wardrobe order using the promo code PRIMEW15

Deal period: 21/06/21 and 22/06/21

Prime Day makes Prime Wardrobe even better. Customers can get £15 off their first ever Prime Wardrobe order using the promo code PRIMEW15 if they decide to keep eligible items with a value of £100 or more. Terms and conditions apply

Amazon UK Prime Wardrobe

 

Prime Video Channels

Promotion: 99p/month for the first 3 months

Deal period: 01/06/21-22/06/21

Between 2nd and 22nd June, 2021, you can promote to your audience the subscriptions to Starzplay, Hayu, Shudder, Crime + Investigation Play, Acorn TV, History Play, and Sundance Now for 99p/month for the first 3 months.

Prime Video Channels Offer

 

Baby Wishlist

Promotion: 15% discount on top of Prime Day Deals with Baby Wishlist promo code LIST15

Deal period: 01/06/21-22/06/21

How to save an additional 15% on already discounted deals on Prime Day in three easy steps:

  1. Create your Baby Wishlist now!
  2. Start adding products to your baby wishlist – make sure you have everything on the list before Prime Day starts.
  3. On Prime Day: Look out for Baby Top Deals and add them to your Baby Wishlist. Then add all your products to your cart and go to check out, where you get 15% discount with code LIST15.

Amazon Baby Wishlist

 

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Support this site by making a Donation, purchasing Plus Membership, or shopping with one of our affiliates:
Amazon UK,
Amazon US,
Amazon CA,
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It doesn’t cost you anything extra when you use these links, but it does support the site, helping keep ePHOTOzine free to use, thank you.

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Best Prime Day Camera Deals for 2021

Best Prime Day Camera Deals 2021: What to Expect


Best Prime Day Camera Deals for 2021 1

It’s finally Prime Day, which means it’s time to score the very best new tech in Amazon Prime Day deals, including Prime Day camera deals. This is an ideal opportunity for anyone who wants to land a new digital camera, whether you’re looking for the latest GoPro to capture live action, an easy point-and-shoot, or a more serious DSLR option for professional-level shooting. Whether you’re looking for something easy to carry around in your pocket or something more professional for your Youtube channel content, these Prime Day camera deals will have the right camera for you.

There’s no shortage of cameras in these Prime Day sales, so you’ll want to be aware of your options. In fact, with the large number of Prime Day camera deals, we completely understand if you feel overwhelmed. Not to worry — Digital Trends has your back. Our team of trusty deal hunters has searched high and low to bring you only the very best Prime Day camera deals, and we didn’t stop there. We’ve taken the time to look at both the best digital cameras and the best DSLR cameras.

Best Prime Day camera deals

Should you buy a new camera on Prime Day?

Prime Day provides perhaps the best opportunity to invest in new gadgets because it’s the day when Amazon tends to discount the latest technology. Hence, Prime Day is a perfect time to snag a new camera. In our experience, you won’t find a better deal on a new camera at any other time this year, including on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. The discounts on those days will be comparable, and maybe even not as good, so if you wait, all you’ll be gaining is many months without the high-quality photos, convenience, and video that a new camera can provide. This should be great news if you’ve already been scanning the options and have a camera in mind, or if yours is a little old and you’re in need of an upgrade.

The deals on Prime Day can even surpass Black Friday and Cyber Monday because Prime Day is solely an Amazon event. Only Amazon Prime members can take advantage of Prime Day deals, so your competition for the very best camera deals is limited. At the same time, other retailers are aware of Prime Day and might offer comparable deals, so keep your eye on the competition to make sure you’re getting the best discount on a camera.

Also, it’s a good idea to be aware of Lightning Deals. This is when Amazon suddenly drops the price on a hot piece of tech. These flash sales can be drastic — and when they are, you should jump on them — but at other times there’s more smoke than fire, and the discount is not so great. So keep a keen eye on these: You want to take advantage of the best deals, but you don’t want your enthusiasm to get the best of you and overpay for a camera.

Also, keep aware of the version you are buying, and know that an updated one will definitely be coming at some point. If it’s important to you to have the very newest camera, or if you’re buying a camera to give as a gift much later in the year, you might want to wait. Prices on the current cameras will drop again once the new ones emerge, and if you wait for Black Friday, you might be able to score a discount on the newer camera.

How to choose a camera on Prime Day

The wide selection in these Prime Day camera deals can be a little daunting, so it can help to set out the features and price range that are most important to you. That way, you’ll make sure that you come away from Prime Day with the right camera for you.

The best place to start is Digital Trends’ guide to the best digital cameras, best DSLR cameras, and best point-and-shoot cameras — here, our intrepid camera investigators and reviewers take you through all the top cameras and how each one could serve you best. There are so many potential advantages to a new camera, ranging from higher definition and larger sensors to size, to professional-level shots and video for all your commercial ventures, or the very best content on Youtube, TikTok, and more.

There’s also ease of use to consider. Not everyone is a pro when it comes to digital cameras — this might be a camera for a younger person or a beginner photographer. Digital Trends guide to the best digital cameras has a camera for every budget and need, so there’s no way you’ll come away from these Prime Day camera sales without a version of the camera you want.

The first consideration should always be your budget. You don’t want to overspend on Prime Day, and you want to walk away with the very best camera you can afford. A good strategy can be to set your Prime Day camera sales budget ahead of time and then make sure not to exceed it. There are Prime Day camera sales ranging from the very affordable Olympus Tough TG-6 camera to the professional-level Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, which could be as much as 10 times the price.

Secondly, it’s a good idea to scan for the brands you know. There will definitely be impressive discounts on camera names you recognize, like Nikon, Canon, Sony, Fujifilm, GoPro, and Olympus. It’s not that you have to stick to these brands, but we know that a new camera is an investment that you want to enjoy for years to come. There are a great deal of lesser-known brands out there who don’t necessarily have the same reputation for quality, reliability, and service. While we want you to save as much as possible on Prime Day, we definitely don’t want you coming away with an inexpensive camera from a less reputable producer that will need to be replaced soon. If you find a deeply discounted camera but we haven’t reviewed it or covered it, you might want to take a beat. You should feel free to explore, but we recommend checking out our guides and reviews and going with what you know.

For most people, the choice of a camera is going to come down to function — what it can do and the features it offers.

If you’re looking for a top-tier overall camera, you should browse these Prime Day camera sales for the Fujifilm X-T4, which offers huge versatility in a lightweight format. It’s got a 26-megapixels APS-C sensor; that’s a lot of camera for this little build. If you’re interested in something heavier, browse these Prime Day camera deals for the Nikon D780, a refined DLSR with an on-chip phase-detection autofocus, which upgrades its performance in both live view and video modes. If going mirrorless is your priority, scan for a Canon EOS R5, which has great resolution, excellent autofocus, fast performance, and advanced 8K and 4K video. Now that traveling is once again an option, you might be looking for a smaller, point-and-shoot digital camera, like the Sony RX100 VII, while the kids might get the most out of the Olympus Tough TG-6.

Or maybe you don’t want a digital camera at all; maybe what you really want from these Prime Day camera sales is a classic, inexpensive, film camera like the Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic. It could be available in these Prime Day camera deals as well; there’s really something for everyone.

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Photo Series Captures the Spectacular Beauty of the Icelandic Wetlands

Photo Series Captures the Spectacular Beauty of the Icelandic Wetlands

Photo Series Captures the Spectacular Beauty of the Icelandic Wetlands 2

A photographer has captured a largely unseen side of Iceland’s landscape in an attempt to raise awareness for the restoration of Icelandic wetlands in the process.

Ellert Grétarsson, based in Iceland, is a nature and landscape photographer and the author of two photography books. His current project documents the Iceland wetlands from an abstract aerial view with the aim of promoting the importance of preserving and restoring this ecosystem.

Photo Series Captures the Spectacular Beauty of the Icelandic Wetlands 3

Grétarsson tells PetaPixel that it is estimated that up to two-thirds of all greenhouse gas emissions in Iceland come from drained wetlands. Thankfully, the restoration of wetlands in Iceland is a considerably fast and cheap way to reduce greenhouse emissions, which in turn is set to have a positive effect on the biosphere, birdlife, and also will improve aquatic resources.

Having already photographed Iceland for many years, Grétarsson longed to capture it from above to showcase the beauty of nature and the land, and began shooting with a drone well before aerial photography had become as commonly used as it is today.

Over the last few years, the topic of wetlands restoration had risen in importance in Iceland, which has resulted in the establishment of the Icelandic Wetland Fund, which caught Grétarsson’s attention. The concerned areas hadn’t been photographed much at the time — “maybe because generally people find them kind of repellent and believe there is nothing to see there,” he says — which further fuelled Grétarsson’s devotion to the matter.

Photo Series Captures the Spectacular Beauty of the Icelandic Wetlands 4

Photo Series Captures the Spectacular Beauty of the Icelandic Wetlands 5Photo Series Captures the Spectacular Beauty of the Icelandic Wetlands 6

The more he explored these areas, the more he realized that they possess spectacular natural beauty and are filled with “abstract and all kinds of forms and patterns.” Not just interested in photogenic locations, Grétarsson also considers himself a conservationist, after having worked in this field for many years.

Photo Series Captures the Spectacular Beauty of the Icelandic Wetlands 7Photo Series Captures the Spectacular Beauty of the Icelandic Wetlands 8

With his work, Grétarsson wants to evoke emotions in people and remind them about the relationship and connection that humans share with the living world.

“It is important to understand what a privilege it is to be able to enjoy clean air and escape into pristine nature without going far from home,” says Grétarsson. “This unspoiled nature is constantly under threat because of the acts of humans and their short-term thinking. Pristine nature, however, equips us with valuable resources which we are morally obligated to preserve for the coming generations. We must distinguish between waste and utilization.”

With this particular wetlands project, Grétarsson used what he describes as his “old, faithful” DJI Phantom drone, which he says he hasn’t upgraded to the smaller Mavic model because Phantom can withstand stronger winds.

“And, we have a lot of wind in Iceland!” says Grétarsson.

His latest camera of choice is the mirrorless Canon EOS M6. As a photographer who also regularly photographs caves, Grétarsson opted for the smaller and lighter mirrorless camera instead of carrying heavy equipment and can still utilize his older Canon lenses, he says.

Although the overarching goal of the project has been to raise awareness and start a discussion of wetlands restoration, Grétarsson is also open to the idea of turning the body of work into a photography book — the third one under his belt — or an exhibition.

“It depends on the reaction I get from my work,” explains Grétarsson.

More of Grétarsson’s Iceland-based work can be found on his website and YouTube channel.

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Let Your Photography Make You Happier and More Content

Let Your Photography Make You Happier and More Content

How often do you go back and look through old photos, even ones that did not make it into your portfolio? And how often do you really spend time with those photos, not just scanning them? It can be more valuable than you think, not just for your photography, but for your happiness and for finding deeper meaning. 

Coming to you from Alister Benn of Expressive Photography, this insightful video discusses the idea of using photography to relive experiences and to remember the joy you felt in those moments and promote happiness. It can be easy, particularly when you do photography for a living, to lose sight of this and to look at it as nothing more than a means to a (financial) end. However, we all first got into it because we loved creating photos. I personally catch myself scrolling through my favorites album on my phone and daydreaming about past happy moments all the time. Not only do those pictures serve as an easy way to relive those moments, regularly scrolling through them helps to keep the memories fresh in my mind. It does a lot of good for my happiness. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Benn.

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Save 69% on inPixio Photo Studio 11 Ultimate (discount applied at checkout)


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Watch a Woodpecker Methodically Demolish a Wildlife Camera

Watch a Woodpecker Methodically Demolish a Wildlife Camera

Watch a Woodpecker Methodically Demolish a Wildlife Camera 9

The Nizhne-Svirsky Nature Reserve in Russia has shared a video that shows a local black woodpecker methodically destroying a camera trap that was hidden in the trees.

In a post on Facebook, the Nature Reserve writes that the black woodpecker “easily” discovered the camera, despite its camouflage and spent several days attacking the camera as if it were a part of the tree.

Black woodpeckers are large woodpeckers that live in the forests of the northern Paleartic and is the sole representative of its genus in the region. It is closely related to the pileated woodpecker of North America and the lineated woodpecker of South America. Like other woodpeckers, the black woodpecker feeds by using its bill to hammer on dead trees in the hopes of pulling out ants or beetle grubs. It also uses this same skill to bore out holes in trees for the purposes of nesting. The species has a neck that has been specifically designed for this task and are quite strong, especially for its size.

The bird is sometimes considered a nuisance as they sometimes damage power lines, poles, and houses. In this case, one example of the species targeted the plastic housing of a wildlife camera trap.

In the video, the black woodpecker can be seen popping in and out of frame as its loud pecks can be heard through the camera’s microphone. According to the Nature Reserve, the “vandalism” — as it is cheekily referred– was attributed to the bird’s desire to remove any human interference with the personal life of the animals in the region.

Vandalism in the reserve! The black woodpecker decided that there should be no interference with the personal life of animals and birds on his site – and destroyed the camera trap. Zhelna easily discovered the camouflaged device, and for several days methodically picked out the hole she liked. Researchers who arrived to check the camera trap had to state with regret that it would not be possible to get new frames from this place for a long time.

In reality, the woodpecker may have chosen the location due to the softer nature of the plastic versus the surrounding tree and possibly mistook the camera trap for rotting bark, behind which a possible meal lay hidden.

Watch a Woodpecker Methodically Demolish a Wildlife Camera 10
The aftermath | Nizhne-Svirsky Nature Reserve

The Nizhne-Svirsky Nature Reserve says that due to the damage, it is likely that it will be some time before the camera can be replaced and a view of that particular region can be restored.

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11 Things Every Photo Studio Needs

11 Things Every Photo Studio Needs

We spend a lot of time talking about camera gear and lenses, but of course, a photo studio needs more equipment than that — a lot more, in fact. If you are outfitting a new studio space or looking to add a bit to yours, check out this great video that discusses 11 things every photo studio should have. 

Coming to you from John Gress, this awesome video discusses 11 things every photo studio should have. Sure, things like clamps and c-stands are not as fun to discuss and purchase as some exciting new lens, but the difference quality accessories can make in your work life is huge. As Gress mentions, one thing I think every studio should definitely have is a set of v-flats. As far as photography equipment goes, v-flats are very cheap, but they give you a lot of bang for your buck, providing quite a bit of versatility for controlling lighting and doubling as easy, clean backdrops. If you are looking for more, I have also written about six things I have in my studio that are not photography-related but that make working far easier and more enjoyable. 

Check out the video above for the full rundown from Gress.

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10 Safety Tips For Photographers When Traveling

10 Safety Tips For Photographers When Traveling

Here’s a quick list of 10 tips to help you keep your camera safe while on holiday so you can enjoy yourself and not worry about your photography kit.

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Landscape and Travel

 

Mexico

 

 

1. Make A Checklist

Before you leave for the airport make a list of all the equipment you’re taking with you, writing down the serial and model numbers, too. It’ll also help if you take photos of your equipment for your records.

 

2. Check Your Insurance

Make sure you have the right insurance just in case your equipment’s stolen or damaged. If you’re unsure if your equipment’s covered, read your policy or ring your insurer. 
 

3. Put Your Equipment In Your Hand-Luggage 

Camera gear is fragile so don’t pack it in the case you plan on checking in at the airport. If you do, you run the risk of equipment getting damaged. Do remember to check the size and weight restrictions on luggage with the company you’re travelling with as airlines tend to have different rules/restrictions when it comes to luggage you can carry-on. 
 

4. Don’t Take Trips On Your Own

If you’re planning a few day trips don’t go alone. That way, when you’re framing up your shot, your ‘buddy’ can watch your camera bag and any other equipment you have.

 

5. What’s Your Bag Look Like?

Don’t use a bag that screams: “Look! I have a very expensive camera in here.”

 

Rome

 

6. Don’t Put Your Bag Down

Even when you’re taking a photo don’t leave your bag on the floor and never leave it unattended. When you’re in busy locations such as markets, carry the bag on your front as if it’s on your back, there is the chance that someone could access it without you knowing. You may think you look a little silly but that’s better than finding all of your gear’s gone.

 

7. Carry Spare Memory Cards

Don’t just take one memory card with you as if it’s stolen or lost that’s it. Always carry a spare in your bag and keep one locked away in your hotel room too, just in case.

 

8. Try To Fit In

Having confidence and looking like you know where you’re going (even if you don’t) will mean you’re less likely to be bothered. Try to blend in rather than stand out as a tourist. 

 

9. Put Your Equipment In A Net

You can buy safety nets which you place your equipment in and then you fasten the net to a solid object that’s fastened down.

 

10. Use A Safe

Most rooms have safes that will fit memory cards, chargers, a smartphone or a small DSLR body in. If you have lots of kit or there’s no safe in your room, ask at reception to see if they have them available at the desk. Just make sure you make a note of everything you hand over and take images so you have proof if anything goes missing. 

If you have any tips for photographers heading off on holiday, add them to the comments. 

 

Mexico

 

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An Abundance of Good Cameras

We’ve reviewed 28 full-frame digital cameras so far at Photography Life. Every one of them has gotten at least four stars. In the abstract, that sure seems like too much – but when I look at each camera again, I can’t help but think every single one deserves it.

This is how I see things:

  • 1 Star: Unusable
  • 2 Star: Bad
  • 3 Star: Ok
  • 4 Star: Good
  • 5 Star: Excellent

Maybe you could argue with some of those categories, but it’s hardly the “4.9 stars is great, 4.5 stars sucks” scale the internet can be known for. Yet almost every modern camera is at least good, and most are closer to excellent.

Let’s take the Panasonic S1R as an example. It’s a mirrorless camera that I reviewed a couple years ago and gave 4.2 stars, which is one of our lowest scores for a full-frame camera. What does it do wrong? It’s heavy (about as heavy as a DSLR) and expensive when bought new ($3700, though these days it’s more like $1700 used). Other than that, it’s an amazing camera, with best-in-class image quality and loads of great features. Surely it at least qualifies as “good.”

That’s the low bar. Almost every other full-frame camera – at least those released after it – matches or beats the S1R overall or in terms of value.

Spencer-Cox-2019-245-09-55-_1011663
Panasonic S1R + LUMIX S 24-105/F4 @ 24mm, ISO 100, 25 seconds, f/6.3

If my argument isn’t clear, let’s consider a different camera instead. Nasim recently published a review of the Nikon Z6 II with basically the one criticism that it isn’t ideal for photographing fast action like birds in flight. And what were half the photos in the review? Birds in flight. Great photos like this:

Nikon Z6 II Image Sample #33
NIKON Z 6 II + AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR @ 500mm, ISO 320, 1/4000, f/5.6. Copyright © Nasim Mansurov.

Does that look like a camera that can’t photograph birds in flight? Well, compared to its rivals, it is a bit behind. The differences could matter if you’re a sports or wildlife photographer. But clearly, they’re not fatal.

If you’re willing to consider buying used or refurbished, today’s abundance of good cameras becomes even more obvious. When I was first starting photography, I paid about $1000 for the Nikon D5100. Today, $1000 on the used market can get you a Nikon D4 in good condition. (See my article on used cameras killing entry-level cameras.)

Part of what inspired me to write this article is a post I saw on Fstoppers a few weeks ago, which compared Fuji medium format against Pentax medium format. Somehow, I had completely forgotten about Pentax medium format! I looked up the Pentax 645D – a 40 megapixel, medium-format DSLR – on Fred Miranda and eBay to see the prices out of curiosity. Less than $2000! Last I knew, that camera cost as much as a car ($9400 when it was first released – more than $11,500 with inflation).

I guess it makes sense that such a heavy camera with “just” 40 megapixels would go down in price considering the competition. But… just take a moment to consider the competition. In about a decade, tons of ordinary cameras on the market got so good that they outpaced an $11,500 medium format DSLR.

I expect this sort of thing in the computer market. A decade-old computer might not be able to run modern software in the first place, and even if it can, it’ll be much slower than something new. But a decade-old camera doesn’t have those issues. It doesn’t get slower or buggier with new updates. If you could photograph a wedding with the Nikon D750 ten years ago, you can photograph a wedding with it today.

Minimalism-1
NIKON D7000 + 105mm f/2.8 @ 105mm, ISO 1250, 1/100, f/3.5

I find myself writing a lot of comparison articles like “Nikon D780 vs Nikon Z6 II” or “Nikon Z7 II vs Canon EOS R5” because, well, that’s what people are searching. And in all of those comparison articles, I always think to myself, both of these are incredible. There’s hardly anything you couldn’t photograph with either of them.

I could compare the Nikon D3500 and Nikon Z7 II and come away saying that you’ll be hard-pressed to notice image quality differences between them with good technique and print sizes under 16 x 24 inches. Heck, a few years ago, I took one of my favorite cityscape photos with the D3500, and try as I might, I can’t find any issues with its technical quality. It holds up in a wall-sized print, and I have no regrets about photographing it on the D3500 rather than some other camera.

D3500-Sample-Photo-21
NIKON D3500 + 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 70mm, ISO 100, 1.6 seconds, f/6.3

Some of you are probably yelling at me right now that all of this is fine for amateurs and hobbyists, but professionals need better gear. Ok, that’s fair. How about the Canon 1DX II? (If you’ve forgotten the features, it shoots 20 megapixels, 16 FPS, and 4K video.) It’s selling for about $2200 used these days. The famous workhorse Nikon D4? As I said a moment ago, it routinely goes for less than $1000 used on Fred Miranda.

No matter what genre you shoot or what your budget is, there’s an abundance of good cameras.

That’s not to say there aren’t differences between the cameras. If I believed that, I wouldn’t be spending so much time reviewing gear. But wow, I’m starting to wonder if we’ll ever see a sub-4-star interchangeable lens camera again at Photography Life, unless we start deliberately deflating our ratings. The only differences now seem to be in what areas the camera is best specialized, not whether it’s good or bad in the first place.

All this is to say, go out and take photos! It’s great to see so many amazing cameras today, and there’s no excuse not to use them to their fullest.

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