I’ve been really working on my Youtube channel lately!

Hey, it’s been a while. I’ve been working intensely on my Photography Banzai Youtube channel since around August 2017. I’m trying to see if I can really make something special out of it. Partly because I haven’t had much contracted software development work lately (freeing up time), but also because it is one of those projects I’m passionate about improving on to see where it might go in the future. It’s one of my hopes it will expand in reach significantly.

Since I started the channel in January 2011, it has had over 1.5 million views, though the public number is around 1.4 million due to me cleaning up the channel of past content I felt wasn’t that great, unrelated to the theme, or generated traffic in a negative way.

The one thing about my effort on Youtube is that the work I’ve put in has consistently given back. I can’t say that about every passion project I’ve worked on. It isn’t a whole lot in the grand scheme of things, but it is at least consistent. I’ve neglected this channel at times over the years, but the work still gives back little by little. That’s something positive and something I’ve been trying to work more with. I look at some of my past content and cringe a little bit, but producing without remorse is something I’m okay with. I want to push forward with this and improve each step of the way.

My favorite new video is a somewhat simple video from a technical standpoint, but it includes an interview with David of Camera Craft (my local camera shop).

“Used camera equipment… is it worthwhile to go with used gear?”

I pushed my boundaries a bit here by doing the interview. I have collaborated on my videos once or twice in the past, but this one has a professional vibe to it.

For the lone talking part, I utilized a cheap roll-down window shade as a simple white backdrop. I bought that shade a month or two ago with the intention to use it for situations like this. It stays up on one small empty wall I have available. My challenge right now is a mixture of limited space to film, the cameras/lenses I have on hand, and the shade’s width not being ideal (I had to trim it to 44″ or ~112 cm). My Nikon D750 and Fujifilm X100F are really not ideal for doing these types of videos. I can’t easily get proper focus on myself, which wastes time and adds various issues to the process. The D750’s WIFI app is almost useless and the X100F’s app just barely has enough to make it kinda-sorta work. The issue with Fujifilm’s app is that in video mode the camera won’t allow me to control focus at all. At the very least I wish it would let me select an area to keep focus on (eg. where my face stays in the frame). All that said, I used the Fujifilm X100F for this even though it isn’t ideal because at least their app allows me to see what is being filmed and to start/stop recording. Moving forward, I’m going to research camera bodies to see if there is a decently cheap option available that check all of the boxes I need checked. Maybe even an all-in-one digicam is the best route in this case… not sure. I’d want 4K, a true flip-screen, a quality WIFI app that has solid video features, and probably a few other aspects I can’t think of off-hand. 1080p at higher than 60fps would be great as well.

“Promaster AXIS Stabilizer Review”

I put a lot of effort and techniques into this video. There are a ton of multi-cam scenes as well as ones with vocals while outside. All of that resulted in a time consuming edit process. Plus, I want to do more videos outside or generally on-location somewhere in the future, so that was a good starter. Again, each step in the process is helpful. This video had a lot to it.

“DIY video slider made from legos.”

I love “Macgyvering” situations by using what I have on-hand, so this video was fun to make. Everything came together nicely for the video and it wasn’t extremely time consuming to produce, which is ideal. The mixture of novel creativity and fun are some of the reasons it is one of my recent favorites.

“My mobile hands-on filming setup (v1 and v2)”

This was another simple yet fun video to produce. Lately I’ve been filming hands-on video content at my local camera shop. I’ve only done it three times as of writing this article, but I have already learned a lot. My first attempt was pretty bad given my choice of equipment that I had available. My second and third attempt have been a lot better. This video goes over those two setups and shows how the quality improved.


So far, the view numbers on my new videos are not looking great, but quality and content wise I’m happy with what I’ve been able to produce thus far. I have a lot of ideas, such as documentary work as well as getting out more for on-site, but those of course are especially time consuming and challenging. One step at a time.

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SD Card Speed Test Roundup October 2017

I’ve done previous articles here (first) and here (second). A decent amount of the cards here will be the same. The goal was to round up as many cards as I had on-hand to do benchmark testing on. I also did a bracketed camera test with the Nikon D600.

Here is the companion video on Youtube.

I used a Transcend USB 3.0 card reader for this test.

Here are the steps I took to setup the benchmark:
Make a bootable USB drive with Ubuntu Desktop on it. In my case I used version 17.04.

Download an ISO.

Download the USB bootable drive tool.

Run Rufus and have it create the bootable drive with the downloaded ISO image.

At that point you can reboot your computer with the USB drive attached and get into Ubuntu. Once loaded, you have to find the Disk Utility. It wasn’t quite as easy for me as in past articles. Partly because I haven’t used Ubuntu for a long time and they also hid the utility for whatever reason. I was able to search the available programs and bring it up. They also hide the benchmark functionality inside a “burger” menu (the icon with three lines in it). Talk about a step backward in user interface design… anyways.

Here is a published Google Sheets document with all of the results.

Take note that I have a second test below this big benchmark table where I used the Nikon D600 to calculate approximate write times for a 3-photo bracket.

The results with my affiliate links to the cards on Amazon (or at least the closest match I could find, some of these cards are very old):

Card Avg Read (MB) Avg Write (MB) Avg Access (msec) Benchmark
8GB SanDisk Extreme HD Video SDHC 30MB/s* 40.6 19.9 1.31
8GB Eye-Fi Pro X2 SDHC 20.1 16.8 1.07
32GB SanDisk Ultra Class 10 SDHC I 30MB/s 46.6 7.8 1.29
64GB Patriot LX Series CDXC Class 10 92.9 15.5 0.93
2GB Crucial SD Digital Media 10.9 3.4 1.81
32GB Transcend SDHC Class 10 23.6 6 1.04
32GB SanDisk Ultra PLUS SDHC 1 Class 10 40MB/s 46.4 8.3 1.29
4GB Transcend SDHC Class 6 24 6.6 0.74
8GB Kingston SDHC Class 10 Ultimate X 120X 22.9 8.8 1.38
64GB Transcend SDXC I 400x 60MB/s 94.2 18.1 0.75
16GB Promaster SDHC Class 10 Code 5933 33.8 11.4 1.36
4GB SanDisk SDHC Class 2 12 5.9 1.79
4GB Kingston SDHC Class 6 23.7 8.8 0.9
64GB SanDisk Ultra PLUS SDXC 1 Class 10 75.6 48.5 0.65
1GB Kingston Elite Pro 50x SD 11.9 7.6 1.73
4GB SanDisk Ultra II SDHC Class 4 15MB/s 18.5 14.3 0.96
16GB Transcend SDHC Class 10 15.3 5.3 1.39
16GB Samsung SDHC Class 6 21.8 8.9 0.79
8GB Transcend SDHC Class 10 20.4 7.3 1.42
16GB SanDisk SDHC I Class 4 47.6 4.6 0.73
32GB PNY Performance SDHC Class 4 24 5.8 0.76
Here is a chart to see of the benchmark speed data (click):
Here is a chart for average access times (click):

Here is the data compiled from the real world test using the Nikon D600 and a 3-photo bracket (RAW + fine JPEG at approximately 90 MB total):

Card Approximate Write Time (in seconds, Lower is Better)
8GB SanDisk Extreme HD Video SDHC 30MB/s* 4
8GB Eye-Fi Pro X2 SDHC 7
32GB SanDisk Ultra Class 10 SDHC I 30MB/s 10
64GB Patriot LX Series CDXC Class 10 8
2GB Crucial SD Digital Media 26
32GB Transcend SDHC Class 10 7
32GB SanDisk Ultra PLUS SDHC 1 Class 10 40MB/s 15
4GB Transcend SDHC Class 6 11
8GB Kingston SDHC Class 10 Ultimate X 120X 8
64GB Transcend SDXC I 400x 60MB/s 11
16GB Promaster SDHC Class 10 Code 5933 7
4GB SanDisk SDHC Class 2 16
4GB Kingston SDHC Class 6 13
64GB SanDisk Ultra PLUS SDXC 1 Class 10 3
1GB Kingston Elite Pro 50x SD 14
4GB SanDisk Ultra II SDHC Class 4 15MB/s 7
16GB Transcend SDHC Class 10 26
16GB Samsung SDHC Class 6 11
8GB Transcend SDHC Class 10 8
16GB SanDisk SDHC I Class 4 78
32GB PNY Performance SDHC Class 4 18
Here is a chart to see of the camera speed data (click):

That’s it! It took a long time to compile and write/produce. A newer card doesn’t necessarily mean a faster card, at least in the case of write speeds. My favorite brand of card is Transcend mostly because they have been very reliable in my personal experience. Though, from the results the ones I have bought from them are not top performers. I’ve been shifting to cheaper cards in general over the years, which is part of the reason some of the newer cards don’t compete with the older ones. If I were to buy expensive new cards, the results would likely be very different. I just don’t need extremely fast cards with my 24 mega-pixel cameras that shoot a maximum of 1080p video.

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Yongnuo 100mm f2 Lens Details

I recently made a video about firmware v1.03. There are improvements in auto-focus performance, especially in live-view mode.

Here is a link to full sized example photos on Flickr:

You can pick this lens up on Amazon here.

Here is a crop of one 100MM@f2 photo at 100% without additional editing:

I’d personally consider that is producing a nice amount of detail, especially without any editing. There are a large number of factors involved from the distance to the subject to others like hand/shutter shake.

The Youtube review:

Notes I wrote up while making the review:
– From the manual it lists the lens as having 9 aperture blades and a minimum aperture of f19, which is confusing because both of my cameras go to f22.
– Minimum focus distance is 0.9 meters or around 3 foot with a 0.14 times magnification. This isn’t a lens you will be getting close focus and high magnification with!
– The lens comes with caps but no lens hood. It does have a 58mm filter thread, which is a standard size.
– The lens has a nice weight to it at around 449g. It is sized around 76x83mm (3×3.25in).
– The lens exterior is a mixture of metal, plastic, and rubber. The back half is a plastic similar to the Nikon 50mm f1.8g lens, but the front is a substantial feeling metal. The filter thread is metal and is high precision machining.
– The lens comes with a USB port intended to be for adjusting the lens or adding new firmware. I recently tested v1.03 firmware!
– The lens has a built in DC type motor for focusing. It’s louder than Nikon’s silent wave motors by quite a bit.
– Most lenses in this focal length and price point are manual focus. Keep that in mind.
– The lens has a switch on the side in a standard spot to cycle between MF and AF.
– This lens does not have quick shifting capability, so you must use the switch to do manual focus. When the lens is in AF mode, the focus ring rotates freely, but does nothing. In manual focus mode you can feel the focusing elements being connected with the focus ring. The focus ring will not stop when you reach the limit on either end of focus, but there will be more resistance to rotation. This is the standard way lenses of this era work in manual focus mode.
– So far in my testing, autofocus is pretty average, but not as good as say the 50mm f1.8g that I have. The lens will get to nearly being in focus quickly, but locking sometimes takes a bit of time. Without focus beep or indicator in the camera on, it’s sometimes hard to know. I do a decent amount of focus and recompose and have had the lens try and fail to focus when I shift the camera (thinking that I had gained focus already. Focus accuracy appear to be good once it gains focus. I’m hoping for firmware improvements. The focus does feel consistent once I adapted to how the lens focuses. I was getting much better with it on the 3rd outing).
– Manual focus is not bad on this focal length and maximum aperture. The ring has a nice grip and is smooth to rotate.
– To put things into perspective, my old Sigma 100-300mm f4 lens is much less consistent at focusing than this one.
– I did take the lens out at night to a local park (D600) and didn’t have any focusing issues within my expectations. Not bad!
As of v1.03 firmware, live-view focusing on the D600 and D750 seems pretty decent in my testing so far. If you are having troubles, upgrade your firmware!
Exposure issues:
– The lens appears to not communicate properly with cameras about exposure. Maybe it’s partly because the lens reports f22 minimum aperture when the manual states f19 as minimum? It’s hard to say, but something needs to be fixed.
– With the Nikon D750 I have to apply around +2 to +2.67ev to match the exposure I was getting with my Nikon 50mm f1.8g lens.
– With the D600 I have to apply around +0.7 to +1.0ev to match the exposure I was getting with my Nikon 50mm f1.8g lens.
– I’m really hoping that the lens receives a firmware update to improve the situation. It’s not a show stopper, but a hassle for sure.
Image quality details:
– I’m liking image quality so far. I see a nice amount of detail even at f2.
– I feel like they optimized this lens to be strong at wider apertures with a much less dramatic improvement at smaller apertures. That’s totally fine with me in this case.
– Out of camera RAWs seem a bit low contrast at times. Easily fixed in post.
– The lens would probably be helped a lot by a hood. It’s odd they didn’t include one.
– Will there be lens profiles for this? I don’t stay current on Adobe stuff, but Acdsee doesn’t have a profile.
– I plan on using this lens with the D600 more than the D750. When I double up on cameras like having a wide plus telephoto. This will kinda-sorta replace the Sigma 100-300mm f4 when I feel 100mm is enough.
– USB firmware updates will be the difference between a quirky value lens and a good lens.
– I’m liking image quality from the lens. I’ll simply say the rendering is appealing outside of its tendency for lower contrast.

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It’s been a while! (Cosplay Photos)

Hey, it’s been a while! I’ve still been taking photos as usual, but this website hasn’t seen updates in a long time. A lot of my photo updates go on my Cosplay Banzai Facebook page (recently rebranded) due to convenience. Personal websites, in my experience, don’t get much traffic with articles like this. Most of this site’s traffic are my old Pentax equipment reviews.

Here are a few photos I took at a local cosplay photography meetup. The meetup is usually centered around photos with horses that we have available, but we still mostly just take photos of the cosplayers by themselves. It’s really just a big group of friends hanging out and enjoying a mutual hobby (while we also eat, drink, and have a bonfire). Stuff like this is what it’s all about!

Now on to the equipment talk. The equipment I pull out when I’m serious is still Nikon DSLRs.

Cameras and Lenses (use both at once most of the time):
Nikon D600 with a 50mm f1.8g lens:
This was attached to my backpack’s strap lugs directly across my chest.
An easy to use setup with that great normal focal length. It’s extremely dependable and easy to get nice portrait or full-body photos.

Nikon D750 with a Sigma 100-300mm f4 lens:
This was attached to a shoulder strap by the len’s tripod mount.
I had bought this lens to see if it would give me a certain look I was going for. For the most part it did. Both the camera and lens were pretty unfamiliar to me. I’ve had the lens for a decent amount of time, but didn’t have any big uses for it until this event. The camera body was a last minute thing due to a local shop that had a good deal on it used. Auto-focus was at time hit-or-miss, which I’m not too surprised about given the age of the lens (It doesn’t even focus in live-view). Excluding how many photos I had to discard due to auto-focus, the sharpness and qualities are pretty great. Zoom it out to 300 at f4 and you will get some unique isolation of subjects. I just wish there were current 100-300mm f4 lenses being sold, because I’d probably consider one in the future. I know Sigma has a 100-300 f2.8, but it isn’t cheap and it’s probably too big to easily handhold (not cheap compared to what I paid for this used lens). Overall, I’ll probably keep it around, but still wish the auto-focus was more consistent. Part of it could be my technique that I will be working on. The lens is pretty front-heavy.

Light modifiers:
All I had with me were reflectors (5-n-1 with diffusion). The photo above with the vibrant blue sky was using the largest one for diffusion of the sun and the smaller one for fill light. It worked out nicely thanks to the help of two friends than held them while I took the photos. Huge reflectors are a challenge to use, but do things that are hard to accomplish with anything else. My 5ft tall reflector worked out nicely, but I’m thinking I should have gone even larger.

A few improvements I’d make:
I’d like to pick up a quality double camera strap. It would make it easier to manage the two cameras I think. The issue is that good ones are not cheap! I’d also consider a larger 5-n-1 diffuser/reflector. Blocking out daylight sun is a great use for them when I perfect spot is not in the shade. I also need to work on properly using that Sigma 100-300mm lens. As I had mentioned, it isn’t ideal due to how old it is, but I think some of my issues were due to how front heavy it is (that’s one think I can improve on).

The nice thing about this photo meetup is that I can take my time and try to grow as a photographer. Conventions are usually not ideal for that.

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