Recent Posts

Pilotfly Stabilizer, A Cautionary Tale

David Salahi Gear 0 Comments

I’ve had some bad experiences with buying stabilizers directly from manufacturers in China. In a previous post (see sidebar) I commented on the problems I had trying to order a stabilizer from CAME. I eventually canceled that order and purchased a Pilotfly H1+. After receiving that unit I posted about the vagaries of balancing it and in another post I discussed the problems I had when the unit’s parameters got scrambled.

Now, after just eight months of very light use my H1+ has failed completely—it won’t power on. I chatted with Pilotfly on their Facebook page and they recommended that I return it for repair. To Taiwan. And, of course, there’s no warranty.

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iPad error message

Android or iOS?

David Salahi Gear 0 Comments

Over the years, I’ve owned several Apple products starting with the Apple II. But I’m not an Apple fanboy. I believe in using the right tool for the job. Later, I needed to run CP/M so I bought a Franklin and have since had a number of Windows PCs. In 2004 I decided that the iPod was the right music player for me and I eventually had three of them over the years.

My first smartphone was the original Droid and when I bought my first tablet I went with the Motorola XOOM, both Android devices. But when I was ready for a new tablet I got an iPad 3 and I later bought an iPad Air. I’ve been pretty happy with both iPads (with some misgivings; see below)—until yesterday.

Trouble in Apple Paradise

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X Theme for WordPress is a Powerhouse

David Salahi Website Design 5 Comments

I was recently introduced to the versatile X theme for WordPress by another web designer and was immediately impressed by its power, attractiveness and flexibility. The theme makes it easy to create the sort of open, graphically rich websites that are so popular today. At the same time, it plays well on everything from small smartphone screens to large desktop screens. And it’s highly customizable so tweakers like me can get down and dirty with the settings and the code to get things looking just the way we like. I’ve been so impressed by all the functionality and flexibility that I decided to convert both this blog and my business website to X.

Website built with the X theme for WordPress

The X theme comes with a slew of plugins including a visual drag-and-drop page builder that allows anyone from the casual designer to the hard-core coder to quickly create attractive sites.
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Panasonic GH4 Special Microphone Needs Special Extension Cable

David Salahi Gear 0 Comments

I wanted to use my Panasonic GH4 microphone, the DMW-MS2, as a boom mike so I did a little test recently, attaching it to a boom on a light stand. This mike is designed to be mounted on the GH4 hot shoe and I’ve used it that way numerous times. But I had a situation calling for a boom mike so I thought I’d try it out that way.

The microphone itself has a cable that’s only 8” long and the cable terminates in a 1/8" plug. Obviously, I would need an extension cable for the boom situation so I got one out and plugged it in. I was surprised to find that the microphone didn’t work properly. The reason is that the microphone has a non-standard plug which communicates some additional information between the mike and the camera. This allows you to configure the mike dynamically to any one of four modes: shotgun, super shotgun, stereo, or lens angle tracking. Those are nice features but they come with a cost. I wrote about a related problem previously. In that post I explained that you can’t connect the DMW-MS2 to an analog preamp.

So, I was aware of the special nature of the microphone but in this case I figured it would work because I wasn’t connecting to a preamp. Instead, I’d be connecting (almost) directly to the GH4. There would just be an extension cable in between. Wrong.

Normal microphone with regular 1/8" stereo plug

Normal microphone with regular 1/8″ stereo plug

Panasonc microphone with special 1/8" stereo plug; note the extra ring

Panasonc microphone with special 1/8″ stereo plug; note the extra ring

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Matching Color Temperature Using the Panasonic GH4

David Salahi Gear, Tips & Techniques 1 Comment

Aputure Light Storm LS 1c bicolor LED light panel

Aputure Light Storm LS 1c bicolor LED light panel; you can see the two different LED colors in alternating rows

Aputure Light Storm LS 1c controller; top red number is power level; bottom number is color temp (multiply * 100)

Aputure Light Storm LS 1c controller; top red number is power level; bottom number is color temp (multiply * 100)

The first time I set up my new LED panel for a shoot I realized I didn’t have a good procedure worked out for matching the color temperature of the ambient light. My new panel is the Aputure Light Storm LS 1c which is a bicolor panel. I chose it partially for the ability to set any desired color temperature between 3200K and 5500K. I like having the flexibility to dial in the color temperature to match the ambient light without having to bother with gels. I had figured it would be easy to do with the new panel but I hadn’t actually thought through the workflow.

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Excerpts from a Dance Show

David Salahi Uncategorized 0 Comments

These are excerpts from a dance show I shot in December 2015. The entire show was about an hour and fifteen minutes long with a total of 30 dances/songs.The footage was shot on a Panasonic GH4 with a Panasonic 35-100 mm f2.8 lens from the back of the auditorium about 200 feet from the stage. Shot in 4K with the Cinelike D profile. ISO was at 1000 for most of the show. Edited & color corrected with Premiere Pro CC, reframed to HD (1920 x 1080); uses some of the Red Giant Universe transitions.

The dance show was staged by LonDance, a dance studio in Laguna Niguel where I recently started taking lessons. In addition to being terrific dancers the instructors are also excellent teachers. And they’re unfailingly patient—especially important for an uncoordinated student like me!

Pilotfly H1+ Gimbal Stabilizer Demo Footage

David Salahi Gear, Video 0 Comments

Here’s some test footage I shot in Laguna Beach, CA with my Pilotfly H1+ stabilizer. The camera is a Panasonic Lumix GH4 with the Panasonic 12-35 mm lens at 12 mm. Optical stabilization in the lens was turned on. I shot in 4K and in a couple of clips I zoomed out to full HD in post (i.e., started at full 4K resolution with the shot cropped; then, zoomed out to contain the whole frame as shot, scaled down to 50%).

Bad Parameters Can Disable Pilotfly H1+ Gimbal Stabilizer

David Salahi Gear 2 Comments

To fully utilize the Pilotfly H1+ 3-axis stabilizer you really have to invest some effort in learning its features as well as its support software. And, in the process you have to read between the lines and take care not to break anything. As I delved into my H1+ I discovered that it’s all too easy to make a change that can end up disabling your device. My failure to heed the warning below led to a week of downtime with my H1+.

Save profile warningRead More

Switching from Carbonite to Acronis True Image

David Salahi Software 0 Comments

I recently decided to switch from Carbonite to Acronis True Image as my backup solution. I had been using Carbonite for several years and it has saved my system on several occasions. However, as I’ve previously written, I’ve had problems with both its functionality and the user interface. Recently, I upgraded from Windows 7 to Windows 10 and was hoping to use Carbonite to assist with the transition. Frequently, when I reinstall Windows (something I do once or twice a year) I’ll find that there are files somewhere on my C: drive that I forgot to backup before reinstalling Windows. (Almost all of my data is on other drives but Windows and some apps insist on storing preferences, customizations and other info on the C: drive.)

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