Review: Bescor MP-360 Motorized Pan & Tilt Head

Bescor MP-360 Video Motorized Pan Head

I have been on the lookout for an affordable motorized rotating head for my real estate video work. Previously, I had bought a TurnsPro V1-B, which is excellent and feature rich, but it’s payload capability is not enough to hold a full frame DSLR camera and lens, or even a 1.6x crop sensor camera like the 80D, which I owned at the time of purchasing the TurnsPro V1-B, you can read my views on the V1-B here.

Since buying the TurnsPro, I have bought the full frame Canon EOS 6D mkII and EF 16-35 F/4L, which is heavier than the EOS 80D and EF-S 10-22mm USM, being a full frame camera, so I definitely needed a more robust motorized rotating head. And, I took a punt on the Bescor MP-360, which is a modified version of the MP-101, the difference being that the 360 rotates 360° while the 101 stops at 340°.

Let’s get the bi-product of the modification out of the way, the degrees switch no longer does anything, so when auto rotate mode is activated, it will continuously rotate until you stop it, or the batteries run flat. If you need to auto stop the rotation after 45, 90 or 340°, buy the original Bescor MP-101 instead.

The MP-360 is powered by four AA batteries, which seem to have a more than sufficient life in the unit, I have used it on three real estate shoots, 70 to 100 90° pans, and I’m still using the original set of Amazon AA batteries. Rotation speed is between 40 and 90 seconds for a full 360° using the included wired remote, an automatic 360° rotation is the same as the faster remotely controlled speed of 40 seconds.

In addition to rotation, the MP-360 can tilt +/-15°, which for my use case is redundant, but might be useful for leveling out shots for stills. Using the remote, it is possible to pan and tilt at the same time.

When recording video during rotation, I would definitely recommend using 60fps, if your camera allows. I tested using 30fps and 60fps, using 30fps, the rotation seemed a little jittery, and very noticeable when using the 40-second rotation. While using 60fps, it is buttery smooth, even when using the faster rotation speed. Using the slower 90-second rotation, the jitter is lessened, but still noticeable using 30fps.

Your camera connects to a fixed plate via a 1/4in screw mount and to a tripod via a 1/4in screw hole. The unit can also be powered by 6 volt DC adapter, which is not included, I would think a generic multi-voltage adapter would work just fine, obviously making sure it is set to 6v DC power before plugging in.

Finally, we come to the reason I could not use the TurnsPro V1-B, the payload carrying ability and the MP-360 works brilliantly in that regard, it can hold a camera and lens weighing in at up to six (6) pounds, which should cover a large range of cameras and lenses, with the exception of larger mega-zoon lenses.

Review: Canon EOS 6D Mark II +16-35mm F/4L Lens

Canon EOS 6d Mk II + EF 16-35mm F/4L

After a lot of deliberation about upgrading from my Canon EOS 80D and 10-22mm USM lens to a full frame camera, I decided on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, but that didn’t work out well for real estate due to the lack of pop-out articulating screen, however, we still have the 5D, which we use for portrait work. So I dropped another $2,000 on a Canon EOS 6D Mark II as I had bought the 16-35mm F/4L lens for $1,000.

With that explanation out of the way, in use, the 6D Mark II feels like a larger, full frame version of the 80D, a plus point for me as it’s very familiar, allowing me to start shooting without the learning curve. For a review of the Canon EOS 80D, which also applies to the 6D Mark II, being a full frame 80D, click here.

The largest difference over the 80D is the higher ISO performance, I can now shoot at 800 ISO for interior shots, giving me very clean, noise-free photos, whereas the 80D, anything beyond 400 ISO shows significant signs of noise, especially in the shadow areas. With the 80D, I had to shoot on a tripod, however, with the 6D Mark II, I can boost the ISO to 800 or even 1600, coupled with the image stabilization of the EF 16-35mm F/4L, I can shoot handheld if I choose, although I still shoot on a tripod.

In all honesty, both the 80D and 6Dm2 work just fine in real estate as I shoot five bracketed shots on a tripod and merge into HDR in post processing. That said, I do prefer the higher ISO performance on the full frame 6Dm2, at ISO 800, I can see zero grain or noise, even in the shadows, so I won’t be going back to the 80D, except in an emergency situation, where I can’t shoot with the 6Dm2 for some reason.

A downside of having a full frame sensor is that it creates more Bokeh wide open at F/4 with the EF 16-25mm F/4L, I could shoot at F/3.5 with the EF-S 10-22mm on the 1.6x crop sensor 80D and everything would be in focus. With the 6D2 and 16-35mm F/4L, at 16mm, F/4, items closer to the lens are a little out of focus, which I don’t like, forcing me to stop down to F8 to make the foreground bokeh go away.

I decided to go with the EF 16-35mm F/4L (Mark I) and save money because the EF F/2.8L Mark III is double the price at $2,000. And I knew that I would not be shooting at F/2.8 in real estate as the photos need to be 100% in focus, if F/4 creates some out of focus areas, the F/2.8 would only make that worse.

At the time of writing, the EOS 6D Mark II is selling for $1,900 and the EOS 80D is selling for $1,100, plus $1,000 for the EF 16-35mm F/4L and $600 for the EF-S 10-22mm USM. That’s a difference of $1,200, which, if you are a professional, making money from your kit, is not a lot of money, I would finance the extra $1,200 or finance the whole cost to get better results, the full frame sensor makes shooting simpler.

Net Neutrality: A Response From Kansas Senator, Jerry Moran!

Fight For Net Neutrality

Back on December 14, 2017, Ajit Pai’s FCC voted 3 – 2 to roll back the Open Internet Order, allowing cable companies and telcos to ‘self-regulate’ themselves. I believe, like many people in the United States, that this is a disastrous idea for the health of the Internet. The Open Internet Order was implemented because the likes of Verizon and Comcast were discriminating against and promoting certain types of traffic, the biggest of which was Comcast slowing Netflix traffic until Netflix paid for a ‘fast-lane’ to people’s homes.

I filled out a web form on after the repeal of the Open Internet Order, which sent an Email message to US Senator for the state of Kansas, Sen. Jerry Moran, and this is his response to me.

Dear Mr. Lewis:

Kansas communities, schools, and families depend on internet access for news, commerce, communication and information. I appreciate knowing your thoughts about the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) 2015 “Open Internet Order,” also known as the network neutrality order.

As a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, which oversees FCC functions, I am particularly interested in ensuring a fair regulatory environment for all internet actors. I believe the federal government must ensure a fair and open internet that is not blocked or slowed, and I agree that individual websites or online services should not be discriminated against.

However, I did not agree with the FCC’s 2015 “Open Internet Order,” which abruptly decided, on a partisan vote, to apply outdated, utility-style regulations to the internet. This inappropriate regulatory framework was intended for monopolistic telephone companies in the 1930s, and it has already proven to deter investment in rural broadband deployment.

On December 14, 2017, the FCC voted to reverse the 2015 “Open Internet Order,” restoring the “light touch” regulation of the Federal Trade Commission from previous decades while improving transparency requirements for providers. Now, Congress must pass long-term, bipartisan legislation governing the internet in a transparent and consistent manner; rather than subject to change from one administration to the next. This is an issue of great importance that requires a thoughtful, transparent debate which results in a fair and open internet.

I am grateful for the opportunity Kansans have given me to serve them in the United States Senate. Please let me know if I can be of service to you or your family in the future.

Very truly yours,
Jerry Moran

I take exception to the clear bullshit statement in the third paragraph. In America, cable companies are allowed to carve up the country, where they do not directly compete in many areas of the country, sponsored by state congresses and city government, I would call that a monopoly, wouldn’t you? So, the utility style ‘Open Internet Order’ is the perfect regulation for these companies. We need internet as much as we need electricity or telephone in the modern age, people without internet will be severely hindered.

The idea that a Republican would want to create bi-partisan legislation to protect Internet users is absolutely laughable. And, we cannot rely on the Democrats to have a backbone, they will cave in, because, just like the Republicans, they are being ‘bribed’ by the same big business interests. We, the people need to keep fighting, vote out these congresspeople and senators who are beholden to big business interests and vote in progressives who want to fight for the interests of every day Americans.

Embarrassed And Ashamed!

Paramount, Live, NYE 2018, The Cotillion

I’m all for accountability and this time, I have to hold myself accountable for my actions, even though I don’t remember said actions. Last night, on New Year’s Eve, the wife and I went out to The Cotillion to see The Astronauts and Paramount, two 80s cover bands. And at the end of the night, I was abusive towards the band, yelling “you suck” and “you f**ked up”, they did screw up with the countdown to New Year, they completely missed it by almost two minutes, but they didn’t deserve that verbal barrage.

I sincerely apologize to Paramount and The Cotillion for my actions, there is no excuse for me acting like a dick, and I feel like the worst person in the world right now. Regardless of what they did or didn’t do, this behavior is not acceptable in any way, shape or form. I have zero recollection of the events of those minutes, I remember standing up and feeling disoriented, the next thing I remember is being in the car.

I didn’t find out about my despicable actions until my wife told me what I did this afternoon. I was already feeling pretty terrible, throwing up, which makes me think there is more going on than simply being hungover, I rarely vomit from alcohol overindulgence, not that I felt I was drunk, I still feel terrible now almost 24 hours later. I feel physically and mentally sick, hearing about my actions from last night.

From this point, I’m not making excuses, I am just trying to piece together what happened, I was certainly not drunk, minutes before all this went down, I felt fine, I had a bit of a buzz going on, and I was happy.

I was drinking regular Coors, which I have never had before, and over the course of five hours, I drank 6 Coors and a single Wichita Brewing Company IPA. Not enough to get me drunk, the previous week, I drank six Newcastle Brown Ales and two Strongbow ciders, albeit, at home, which was of a much stronger alcohol value than what I drank at The Cotillion without any issues, in fact, it only gave me a slight buzz. This makes me wonder whether it was an ingredient in the Coors that I had a reaction to.

Another possibility is; because I was not drinking light beers, the sugar level is much higher; and with me being diabetic and not having taken my meds that day, that could have had an effect on me. My outburst and blackout came so suddenly, I felt fine, then I lose 10 minutes of my life. I was previously a very heavy drinker and have been in some sorry states, but I have never blacked out like this, and that scares me.

I am ashamed and dismayed by my actions, I have had anger management issues in the past, but I have worked hard to correct this. If this is the effect that alcohol now has on me, I’d rather just stay away from alcohol altogether. Again, I apologize to The Cotillion, Paramount and anyone I offended by my actions.

Tires Plus, More Like Tires Minus, Terrible Service!

Tires Plus, East Wichita, What A Massive Fail

Out of the last seven days, my car has spent three days in the shop at Tires Plus, N Rock Rd, Wichita, KS. What’s the big deal you might ask? it’s not unusual for a car to spend three days in a repair shop, and normally I would say, no it’s not. But, in this case, they tried to fix the issue cheap and dirty style, while not presenting me with a complete fix option, this led to a reoccurrence of the issue, only worse.

Let’s start from the beginning, Christmas morning, I woke to find that my front passenger side tire was flat, I tried to put some air in the tire using my emergency 12v compressor, which failed to inflate the tire even slightly. We took our second car to visit family on Christmas day, and I put the spare ‘donut’ on the car the next day, before leaving for my appointment with Tires Plus on the 26th of December.

I went to my Tires Plus appointment as planned with a view to having the oil changed, getting the puncture fixed and having them look at the issue of my Handbrake not fully releasing. While the car was sat in the parking lot, the handbrake completely locked up both rear wheels, according to the Tires Plus representative, which I accepted as fact as this happened to me about this time last year.

After about 3 hours, I was told that the car was ready and the handbrake was working fine. I pay the $110.75 for the service, walked to my car, got in, starting the engine, noting that the handbrake was in the release position and drove off. Upon arriving at my mother-in-law’s, I pull the handbrake as her drive is on an incline, at first it doesn’t move, I think that it’s just a little tight after adjustment and I pull a little harder and I hear a loud PING, the handbrake lever goes slack, once again locking the rear wheels.

I called Tires Plus and they basically said, it was my responsibility to get the car back to their shop. Luckily I have a premium AAA membership, so the tow didn’t cost me anything, however, if I didn’t have AAA, that would have cost me hundreds of dollars to have the car towed. As you can imagine, I was not in the best of moods, somehow I kept my cool while handing my car key to them for the second time in five hours.

Fast forward about 21 hours, I get a call from Tires Plus just before 5pm, only to be told that they hadn’t had time to look at my car, asking if they can keep my car for another day. Obviously, I was not happy with this situation, but what can I do? I can’t drive the car, my only other option would be to call AAA and have it towed to another shop, so I begrudgingly agreed to let them keep the car for another day.

Day 3, I got a call saying that my right rear brake caliper was damaged causing the problem. Previously, the left rear brake was dragging, so I thought it was odd that the right rear caliper was the issue. I’m not a mechanic, so I took their word for it and had them fix the issue at a cost of $340.68. So, again, I pick up the car, handing over more hard-earned cash. I tested the handbrake was working in their parking lot and it was; however, this evening, I cannot move the handbrake lever, and I don’t want to force it!

When I picked up the car on Thursday evening, their rep admitted that initially, they tried to fix it ‘cheap and dirty’ and that didn’t fix it. Their rep said ‘most Kansans don’t use their handbrake’, recommending that I not use my handbrake. Continuing he said ‘if I continue to use the handbrake, the other rear caliper would fail as it’s the same age as the one that failed’. Knowing this, why did they not recommend that both calipers be replaced at the same time? I would have been happy to pay to maintain a safe car.

I had been a loyal customer for five years, spending around about $3,500 for tires and oil changes. That has now come to an end, I feel like my family’s safety has been compromised by Tire Plus’ actions.

I just went out and tested it again, 3 hours later and it seems to be working again, although I only engaged the handbrake one click for fear of locking up the wheels again. Frankly, I don’t feel like the handbrake, AKA emergency brake is reliable, I want to know that it will work 100% of the time, just in case an emergency braking situation arises as I use this car to transport precious cargo, i.e. my family.

I will never tell anyone to not use a service or shop at a specific store, but I will express and explain my displeasure when I receive poor service, I believe that we, as consumers should spread our experiences, especially, bad experiences to warn others of potential issues with services and shops.

Update [Jan, 2 2018, 12:10]: I just noticed that Tires Plus didn’t replace my windscreen wipers as requested and charged. Not only did they fail as described above, they also straight up robbed me of the $23 it cost to replace my wipers. I’m definitely done with this company, absolutely disgraceful.

Update [Mar, 6 2018, 16:41]: There’s more incompetence to report from Tires Plus, I have just got my car back from the body shop after a collision two weeks ago and I asked them to have a look at why my ambient interior lighting was not working and they said that someone had removed the center console panel next to the hand brake and pulled out the connector which linked the cup holder to the foot well illumination, this would tally with the time I noticed the ambient lighting stopped working.

Ignore Me, I Went Camera Mad, Despite What I Wrote!

Canon EOS 5D4 & EOS 6D2

Just a couple of weeks back, I wrote that I won’t be investing in a full frame camera in the immediate future. You can probably guess what happened by the title of this article, yup, that’s right, I spent big on full frame gear, $8,500 worth, including the 5D4 and the 6D2, three lenses, lighting and backdrops.

First, while in Best Buy, I impulse bought the Canon EOS 5D mkIV, 16-35mm f/4L, 24-105mm F/4L and 85mm F/1.8 USM prime lenses. the 5D4 came with a BG-E20 battery grip, which after testing it, I decided that it is something I won’t use, it makes the whole camera too bulky and heavy in my opinion, I’d rather carry a spare battery, and pop it in when the first one runs out, the 5D4 is already a chunky camera.

A few days later, I took the 5D4 and 16-35mm out to a real estate shoot, quickly realizing that it was not the best camera for real estate. Nothing to do with image quality, the quality of the photos were amazing, however, it’s not the most practical for getting into the corner of rooms to maximize the ultra-wide angle of the lens, I am unable to see the display or look into the viewfinder, so that’s a huge issue for me.

This is how I ended up buying the Canon EOS 6D mkII, which does have the articulating screen that I have grown to love in the Rebel T3i and EOS 80D. As I had spent $1,000 on the EF 16-35mm F/4L, I wanted to make use of it, and although it will work on my 80D, it won’t really be ultra wide angle anymore with the 1.6 crop factor. It’ll be more like 25mm, which is not anywhere near wide enough for real estate.

I used the 6D2 yesterday for a real estate shoot, and I like it’s smaller form factor, the articulating screen and the ability to shoot at ISO 800 with virtually no digital noise in the photo. ISO 800 on the 80D produced far too much noise for my liking, which means I had to shoot at ISO 400 maximum with a much slower shutter speed, which in all honesty is not a problem as I shoot HDR on a tripod with a 2-sec delay.

In addition to the cameras and lenses, we also invested in lighting and backdrops for portrait shoots. We bought two Neewer 660 bi-color LED panels, Neewer green screen backdrop kit, plus additional blue, black and white muslin backdrops and a further Neewer 700w softbox set for a softer lighting effect.

Most of these purchases are for my wife’s attempt at launching a photography career, I only need the EOS 6D mkII and EF 16-35mm F/4L for real estate. The plan is to do some free shoots for friends and family to build up a portfolio for her website when I get around to creating it. Right now, there is nothing to put on the website as she has only done two shoots and one of those I wouldn’t use for a portfolio website.

I am being supportive of my wife’s efforts, she has a lot to learn, but I’m confident she will get there quickly with practice. My wife isn’t very confident of her abilities, she had done a photography course back in the film days, and she was under the impression that those skills didn’t apply in digital photography. I explained that the exposure triangle has not changed since the dawn of photography. Although, I believe she has not retained that information from 20 years ago, so it’s like starting over.

If we can make our money back in 2018, I would call that a successful year, although it’s not essential to make the money back, it’s extra cash we had available, so it’s not do or die, but it would be nice to see maybe, a small profit at the end of 2018. Final note, who would have thought that my wife would be the one using the better camera? but, the better camera for real estate, is the 6D2, so it makes perfect sense.


Saturn Vue Accident Damage, Dec 11, 2017

Yesterday evening, while my wife was driving her father home from the doctors office, she was involved in a car wreck, no-one was hurt and damage was relatively light, however, it will cost us as the damage is likely to be more costly to repair than the value of the car, which in insurance terms is a financial write-off.

The cause of the wreck was one driver following too closely to another car and when the car in front braked abruptly, the following driver veered into my wife’s lane, trying to avoid rear-ending the first car. That avoidance action resulted in this driver sideswiping my wife’s car causing the damage shown above.

To add insult to injury, the driver that caused the chain reaction left the accident scene, luckily I had my wife take photos of the other vehicles license plates to show the police. The moment you expect people to do the right thing is the moment you find yourself royally screwed, bottom line, TRUST NO-ONE.

Wichita police took 3 hours and 40 minutes to arrive on scene, leaving my wife, father-in-law, other driver and her family standing on the side of the road until nearly 10pm, the initial 911 call was made at 6:15pm. I tweeted my displeasure at Wichita Police and their response was, “Minor accidents can also be reported online or through the WPD app.”, so why didn’t the 911 dispatcher impart that information instead of having people wait on the side of the road in a dodgy area on a cold December evening?

Now, we play the insurance game, call the other drivers insurance company, then take the car to the shop of their choosing for evaluation, then we wait for them to check it over and report back to the insurance company, at which point they will decide whether it’s more profitable for them to fix it or just pay out the current value of the car, which isn’t much at this point, Kelly Blue Book suggests about $2,000.

Assuming it’s written off and the pay out is $2,000, we’ll still need to add another $4 – $6,000 to that amount to buy a car with similar reliability and performance. We were considering buying another car anyway as the Saturn is increasingly suffering from bodywork and electrical issues that are costly to repair, not related to mechanical performance, it’s a cheaply made car and 176,000 miles has taken it’s toll.

To Full Frame Or Not Full Frame?

Canon EOS 6D mk II (Full Frame)

So, wifey has decided she now wants to be a professional photographer, she had her first paid gig, worth a whopping $50 a few weeks back and it went fine, a few teething problems, but the photos were delivered successfully. My wife wants to do people photography, portraits, events, that sort of thing. I want to stick to real estate, I’m a grumpy bastard, I don’t like people enough to do portraits and groups.

Right now, for my work, I use a Canon EOS 80D with an EF-S 10-22mm USM lens, which gives me great results, however, that lens is way too wide for portraits and the other options I have are kit lenses, the 18-55mm and 55-250mm, non-STM lenses, which are not the best quality lenses, definitely not falling in the professional category, by any stretch of the imagination, so I have been weighing up our options.

One option is to jump in with both feet, shelling out $4,000 on a Canon EOS 6D MkII with EF 24-105mm F/4 L, EF 85mm F/1.8 USM and 16-35mm F/4 L lenses. The second option is to buy some L glass, namely the 24-105mm, and EF 85mm USM for my crop sensor EOS 80D. This brings the cost down to $1,100 and because these are full frame lenses, a full frame upgrade in the future would be easier on the wallet.

I’m very dubious about spending $4,000 on camera gear, we have just spent $998 signing up for a local chapter of BNI, which is a referral marketing system, whether that is a good investment, I have no idea. But I am reluctant to invest another large sum of money on something that may generate zero business, we have spent over $4,000 trying to launch my wife’s real estate career, which has yielded zero ROI.

If I am thinking purely as a photography enthusiast, I would go ahead and buy all the kit we need, which is really what wifey’s needs, as I am happy with my current 80D/10-22mm USM setup. As my wife is only working part-time right now, there is not an inexhaustible supply of money, I have just cleared close to $70,000 of debt using my inheritance from my late father’s estate, I refuse to lean on credit cards again.

I guess I could just skip getting the 16-35mm F/4L lens, which would save $1,000 and I could continue using the 80D/10-22mm combo for my real estate work. No, I think I will just get the two EF lenses and use them on my 80D, that is the most sensible path, at least until we start seeing a constant stream of work coming in. As a business venture, it’s already $998 in the hole, let’s not 5x times that amount!

I want to support my wife in this venture, but I also have to be sensible, I cannot sacrifice our family financial stability, throwing good money after bad, our living costs will be rising considerably in 2018.

The Battle For #NetNeutrality AGAIN!

If you're not freaking-out about net neutrality right now, you're not paying attention

In February, 2015 when the FCC made Internet Service Providers title II common carriers, I said that the battle may have been won, but the war is far from over. And as soon as Donald J Trump was elected president, and he nominated Ajit Pai as FCC chairman, the writing was on the wall for net neutrality.

The question has to be asked, how can Ajit Pai, a former Verizon lawyer, who has lobbied for the repeal of net neutrality ever since it was enacted be allowed to become FCC chairman? I would think that would be a massive conflict of interest, but this is Trump’s America, where rules and laws don’t seem to apply.

The FCC is due to vote on the repeal of net neutrality on December 14, 2017; and we know how that vote is going to go. It would take a congressional vote to overrule the outcome of the FCC vote, which I doubt will happen as the majority of congresspeople have received large ‘contributions’ from cable companies.

24 million comments were left on the FCC website, this includes 7 million ‘fake’ comments from bots, the majority of which are identical and use stolen identities. I suspect that, however, I cannot prove, the major cable companies instigated these fake comments for the repeal of net neutrality and title II.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, has disregarded the 17 million legitimate comments in favor of the net neutrality rules, not to mention ignoring the 50,000 net neutrality complaints filed with the FCC. What a surprise eh? a former Verizon lawyer pushing ahead with his agenda regardless of what every day American’s want.

Why should you care about net neutrality? well, without net neutrality, ISP’s could slow or block websites and online services that they don’t agree with; or even block competitors. Traffic prioritization is another possibility, big websites that pay the ISP’s could be put in a ‘fast lane’, which, in reality, would mean, that website gets the current speed, while smaller websites would be slowed to the point of being unusable.

We could even end up with a tiered Internet service, where you would have to pay extra to access, say streaming media services outside of your cable companies streaming service, or pay extra for social media access. Not to mention the possibility of ISP’s selling your private usage data and blocking VPN’s.

Before title II net neutrality regulation, Comcast deliberately slowed Netflix, forcing the media streaming service to pay up to give their customers using Comcast as their ISP access to streaming HD content.

Bottom line, without title II, ISP’s will be able to run roughshod over customers as competition is non-existent. The cable companies have carefully carved up the country, so they don’t compete with each other. Many cities have done exclusive, long-term deals with ISP’s to stop competitors from coming in.

Don’t believe Pai’s claims that deregulation will create an open market. How is this possible when exclusive deals have been done in cities and municipalities, blocking new players from entering the market. If we had a true open market, where ISP’s compete with each other, we wouldn’t have to worry as the competition would keep ISP’s honest, as customers could up and leave for better service.

You can call your congressperson through, leave a message urging your congressperson to support an overturn of the repeal of the Obama era net neutrality regulation.

Addendum: Not directly related to net neutrality, however, it’s another example of how telcos have screwed us over. It was promised in the 1996 Telecommunications Act that every home in America would have 45Mbit symmetrical fiber Internet for $20 by 2005. That was 12 years ago and the majority of homes have zero access to fiber. The kicker, every day Americans have already paid for this in their taxes, Telco’s were given a massive subsidy to make this happen and today, you cannot get $20 internet, let alone fiber.

Review: Sony RX100 V For Live Music Photography

Foo Fighters Live, Taken With Sony RX100 V

1,024 x 576 1:1 crop, photo cropped from 5,472 × 3,648

In the summer of 2017, I made a return to live music after eight years away and I wanted to document my live music gig experiences with photos and video. Previously, I had bought a Canon Powershot SX730 HS for this reason and felt massively disappointed by its low light performance. This disappointment led me to buy the Sony RX100 V, which costs a cool $1,000 for what is still a point and shoot camera. This is within $100 of what I paid for my Canon 80D DSLR, which I am barred from using at live shows.

The Sony RX100 V does succeed where the Canon SX730 HS failed, low light performance is much better with it’s 1.8 aperture when zoomed out to 24mm, which reduces to 2.8 when zoomed into 70mm. I simply set the aperture to 2.8 so I would not have to deal with the variable aperture as I zoom in and out.

Even when set at 2.8, the Sony is better than the Canon, which, even at it’s widest has an aperture of 3.3, which drops to 6.9 when zoomed into the maximum extent, that’s a light loss of over two stops. This is a definite win for Sony, but to be fair to Canon, there is a $600 price difference between the cameras.

Not that this matters in live music photography, the Canon does win on shutter speed, ranging from 15 seconds to 1/3200 of a second, while the Sony has a 30 second to 1/2000 of a second range. I feel that having a higher shutter speed is more useful for most than a super slow shutter speed, which is why I give this one to Canon, but in this use case, it really is irrelevant as I’ll be shooting at 1/15 to 1/125.

At the recent Foo Fighters gig I attended at Intrust Bank Arena, I found a setting of 1/100th of a second, 2.8 aperture and 800 ISO worked well. Not having to push the ISO to the maximum of 3200 like on the Canon SX730 HS, means cleaner shots, much less noise, still nowhere near DSLR territory at the same ISO, but it is a much smaller 1.0-inch sensor, compared to the APS-C size sensor in my Canon 80D.

Where the Canon most definitely wins is zoom range, from 24mm to 960mm, whereas the Sony is limited to 2.9x zoom from 24mm to 70mm. In a venue like Intrust Bank Arena, that can become a problem if you want anything more than a wide shot. The 40x zoom on the Canon SX730 HS allows you to get up close and personal with the band, if you have a steady hand, as hand movement is also exaggerated 40x.

Focus is a major issue with the Canon SX730 HS, in constantly shifting lighting conditions, the Canon missed focus repeatedly, sometimes it would take half dozen attempts to lock onto the subject. The Sony RX100 V is much better, I hit focus nine times out of 10, even with changing lighting. While shooting continuously, it would hit focus shot after shot despite the constant movement of subjects and lighting.

The Sony allows for me to shoot in RAW format, giving me much more control in post-production in Adobe Lightroom, something that is lacking in the SX730 HS, which only shoots in JPEG.

The Sony also has a popup OLED viewfinder, which is a nice feature allowing for a more traditional shooting experience. However, if you are an eyeglass wearer, in my experience, it has some issues. When you pop up the viewfinder, you have to pull out the focusing lens to focus on the OLED screen, I found that while attempting to get close enough to see full viewfinder coverage, my glasses would push it back in, and suddenly, all you can see is a blurry mess, it would be nice if that could be locked into place.

I am unsure whether I would recommend this camera for live music due to it’s limited focal range, but if you are in a smaller venue where you can roam and get closer to the stage, I’m sure it will work very well based on my experiences so far. I will find out just how good the Sony RX100 V is when I go to see Papa Roach at The Cotillion on December 3, 2017, where I will have the freedom to roam around the venue.