Review: Swann AllSecure650™ 2K Wireless Security Kit

This is not a camera story per se, but I bring this up as many folk who read Australian Videocamera do have a fair amount of expensive gadgetry and other stuff in the homes and home offices / studios etc.

Over the last few weeks, the local Constabulary has been advising us locally that there has been an swathe of attempted car thefts and nickin’ of stuff from unlocked cars that are not garaged and secured.

My Monaro is safely tucked to bed each night inside the locked garage, but the other car is kept parked out the front. The one drawback with the garage however, is at the back it is open to the world and there is a LOT of stuff in there, plus there would be easy access to the back shed containing the current build of the Hornby HO model railway that will one day get completed.

Sure, we have Dougie the Doggy, but he is inside at night so not much use there, I fear.

I have mentioned in the past that I have in place a number of Swann stand alone security cameras that sense movement via infra-red. Now these are all well and good inside the house, but outside is a different story. They record to internal memory you see, so unless you take the option of also recording to the Cloud, if one of the Beagle Boys actually sees it and simply trousers it, then it becomes of little use.

So, I decided to chat to Swann about an upgraded system that would fit the bill.

They came back with a suggestion of the AllSecure650 2K Wireless Kit, and after checking the specs and ease of install, that is the way I went.

The major advantages to me are the wireless aspect and the fact it records to a base station.

Let me explain. A lot of security systems use BNC cabling to get the video and audio signals back to a recording device, which really is nothing more than a glorified DVD player using a hard disk as against DVD discs. Smarter units use Ethernet cables in the same way you might connect a printer to a router, or indeed, even your router to the modem.

This means that you must manually lay cables between cameras and the base station (recorder) and this usually entails crawling through rooof spaces and drilling holes etc – or paying a licenced contractor to do that for you.

There have been Wi-fi based units around, but the major issue with these was getting power to the cameras; with the cabled ones, they draw their power from the base station via the cabling.

The 4 cameras that came with the AllSecure650 2K Wireless Kit use batteries to power them. I am guessing that Swann has been able to do this as battery technology has improved in leaps and bounds over the last little while. I have had these cameras in place now for around 7 weeks now and each camera still has over 60% charge in it which is excellent.

A very clever feature is that Swan actually supplies one extra battery for you and what makes this smart is that the base station containing the recording stuff, also doubles as a charger So this battery sits snugly inside its compartment snoozing away until needed when a camera yells out it is running out of electricities.

You simply swap them over and recharge the unhappy one.

The whole thing was dead simple to set up. Swann supply mounting brackets, screws and rawl plugs too, as well as templates for the drill the holes if you decide to go that way. You can monitor the cameras on an HDMI based screen if you wish – simply plug it in via the cable and choose an HDMI port on your telly you can switch to if needed.

Another option, which I have taken, is to install the Swann app on your phone and use that for 24-hour monitoring, with the app letting you know if the cameras have been triggered. You can then view the scene in real time on your phone no matter where you are, as long as in mobile range of course. And the app can reside on multiple phones too.

So, there you have it. A simple straightforward security system for a price that doesn’t break the bank – and might even reduce your insurance premium – that is simple to setup with little time needed to do so.

And here is a tip; for certain people, usually those on a pension of some description, there is a government AUD$400 rebate available, so maybe this is a good idea for elderly parents or grandparents for example as a Chrissy pressie?

Jus’ saying…

The Swann AllSecure650 2K Wireless Security Kit sells for AUD$1099.with 4 cameras or AUD$899 with 3 cameras. Extra cameras are AUD$269.95. These prices seem to be pretty stable between Bunnings, JB Hi-Fi, Officeworks etc.

Review: Elgato Key Light

One thing all cameras need, whether they be video, still, smartphone, dashcam, action camera or pinhole even, is light. That’s what allows the image to be created.

And how that light can be setup, manipulated, coloured and so on has been the content of probably millions of articles and thousands of books and even probably more than that in lectures.

But if the source of the natural light available is not playing the game – too dark, too shadowy, or even too bright – we need ways to tamper it, tame it, and even substitute it.

In the science of lighting, the most basic is what is known as 3-point lighting and those three points are called key, fill and back. By placing these three light sources at strategic points around the subject, each illuminates a separate dimension of the subject to create a greater representation of height, width, and depth in the resultant imagery.

This diagram shows the most basic lighting setup.

Elgato has released a specific light designed to act as a key light and whilst it is aimed it seems, specifically at vloggers, it can be used in many other locations as well, and has some rather nice features.

In concert with its sibling, the Elgato Ring Light which I reviewed back in September last year the Elgato Key light supports Wi-fi letting you control its settings right from the desktop of your PC or Mac.

Using the Elgato Control Centre app, you can turn the light on or off, change the brightness, the colour temperature or even have it synched with other lights. Featuring a 2800 lumen output from 160 LEDs, you can change the brightness from a very bright right down to a very subtle glow, through color temperatures ranging from 2900 to 7000K.

In my testing the diffusion was utterly glare free and I could see no hot spots or other deviation.

A major advantage of using LEDs of course is the heat generated factor is minimal and power usage is much less than standard lighting systems.

To set the Elgato Key Light up is simplicity itself. The power source is a 240v adaptor that thankfully has a long lead (about 3 meters) that plugs into the LED panel. This in turn is screwed onto a vertical extendable arm. The connection point is a ball joint allowing large freedom in choosing angles to point the light. The actual screw fitting is a standard ¼” thread so the Elgato Key Light can actually be mounted on any tripod or bracket supporting this size (or with an adaptor of course if that is needed).

The base is a familiar Elgato clamp style for attaching to a desk or benchtop.

To connect the Elgato Key Light to your Wi-fi network you press the rocker switch to the right and hold for around 10 seconds until the light flashes, then switch it the left and use the Elgato Control Panel to detect and connect.

The only issue I found is a common Wi-fi based peripheral problem; as the IP address is used, if you are using non-fixed IP addresses in your network which is common, if you reset the modem / router, it may allocate another IP address so you’ll have to reconnect.

The Elgato Key Light is available for around $329.There is a Key Light Air available as well which I have not seen, and that retails for around $219.

You can get more information on the Elgato Key Light at the Elgato website.




Review: Elgato Low Profile Mic Arm… and magnets. I talk about magnets.

Cast your mind back to primary school. Remember the first time you saw a strange horseshoe shaped piece of red metal that was grey at the ends? And then your teacher – Mr Phillips or Miss Smith or Mrs Ellicot – threw some metal filings on to a piece of card paper, placed the horseshoe object underneath and lo! Wonderous patterns suddenly appeared.

Of course, you and your classmates all gasped!  It was magic! How could this be?

We now know this is called “magnetism”, and even if we don’t know WHY it does what it does, we at least understand what is happening.

A few companies in the film and video making biz have successfully incorporated the properties of magnetism into their products, with to me, the most notable being DJI which is using it very successfully as an “attachment” medium; that is using magnetism to connect two or more devices together. The Action 2 used it extensively.

SmallRig also uses it to cleverly attach Allen keys to its rigs, so you don’t need to go hunting for one to assemble or dismantle or even remove a camera from the rig Zhiyun has done the same thing with a screwdriver on some of its gimbals.

Which leads me neatly onto the Elgato Low Profile Mic Arm.

I reviewed the Elgato Multi-Mount system back in July last year. This is a series of articulated arms attached to an upright with a clamp at the end to attach it to a desk or benchtop. The cleverness is the adaptability at the end to being to connect a mic holder of various types, tablet holders or even cameras as well as the option to add further different length reticulated arms.

Conversely, the Elgato Low Profile Mic Arm, whilst having standard ¼” thread at the end – and is supplied with a pair of adaptors for different sizes (¼ ” – 5/8” and ¼” to 3/8”) – it is primarily designed for microphones as the name suggests.

Again, there is a standard bench clamp – more on that in a second – and the Low Profile Mic Arm slides onto a vertical spigot allowing full 360° rotation. It has to be said this was a very tight fit and needed a bit of bash file persuasion to nub down correctly, but thankfully, was easily again removable for transportation to somewhere else.

A clever feature of the clamp is a button on the windy handle thing (called a ratchet apparently) that allows you reposition it after tightening so that it isn’t jammed up hard against something or otherwise difficult to get to.

The horizontal arm that extends from this has a joint halfway along allowing 180° rotation in the horizontal plane in the vertical axis will go from full vertical (90°) to 60° below the horizontal giving lots of flexibility.

As mentioned, on the end of this is a standard ¼” thread on a ball joint that has a range of 90° (vertical) to -90° (straight down).

It is thus relatively easy to set this up so that the mic is at head height no matter you are sitting or standing. I used the Elgato Wave:3 that uses a USB-C connector without issue.

So where does the “magnetism” thing come in you ask?

One of the banes of anyone involved in audio and video is cable management. We are all familiar with the site of extra cable being wound around the boom and mic stand, I am sure! What Elgato has cleverly done is create compartments in the two arms of the Elgato Low Profile Mic Arm in which the cable can be fed and thus kept out of sight.

Access to these compartments is via a pair of magnetically attached “lids” covering the top of the arm. Simply lift this off, run the cable through and pop it back on again.

Very nice and well thought out.

The Elgato Low Profile Mic Arm can be bought for around $150 – a bit less if you shop around. You can get more information from the Elgato website.






Review: Hollyland Lark C1 Wireless Mic Kit

I’ve looked at a few Hollyland products in the past – the Solidcom M1 system, Lark M1 wireless mic package and the MARS T1000 Comms System. I have been impressed by the quality of the products and their overall usability in general.

Yesterday I received the newest addition to the stable, the Lark C1 Wireless Mic kit.

Housed in a small case that doubles as a charger and battery, the Lark C1 components consist of a receiver unit that plugs into your smartphone or tablet and a pair of small clip-on wireless mics that come pre-paired.

There are a few permutations of the Lark C1 kit; you can get either Android (USB-C) or iOS (Lightning) versions and these can be either twin mic like I received, or single mic. There is also a range of colour schemes if that sort of thing is important to you. Mine came in black with yellow highlighting.

The unit comes most fully charged, and to top it up, simply plug in the supplied USB-C cable to the charge unit and connect it to a suitable USB port.

The receiver has a pair of LEDs – one for each mic – showing the current status of each (constant blue for connected and flashing blue for disconnected), and a single push button for pairing if required – the mics are pre-paired out of the box but if for some reason that pairing is broken, it only takes a couple of seconds to get them back and operational again.

The mics themselves are a bit more generous with controls having an on/off switch, status LED, a pairing button that doubles as a noise cancellation button and a USB-C charging port. The LED status is the same as the receiver with added ability to flash red when the battery is getting low and show green when noise cancellation is on.


I admit to being initially tricked as for the life of me, in the documentation I could not find out where the Lark C1 stored files it has recorded. My error was due to thinking it would work along the same lines as the Sennheiser Memory Mic.

But in fact, Hollyland has made it a lot simpler than that.

You see, the Lark C1 is just a mic system; it needs host software to record with. Depending on your device (and this includes some tablets and even Action cams such as the DJI Action 2 and 3) these apps and devices include the built-in camera, Voice Recorder (Android) TikTok, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

On the Hollyland website there is a complete table listing of all compatible phones and the apps that will work. Click here to go there.

Therefore, in use, it’s simply plug the receiver into your phone and wait about 2 seconds for it to be recognised, turn on the mics, wait under second and then start talking. I used the native Voice Recorder app on my Samsung A71 without a hitch. I also successfully tested it on a Samsung A7 tablet.

With the noise cancelling system, again, a simple approach has been taken. Noise cancelling is either off, weak or strong. In technical terms, when set to weak, noise will be reduced by -1db and when strong by -14dB.

The range is excellent too. I tried it from every room in the house with the phone / receiver in my office and it stayed connected every time. I then ventured outside with the full house between me and the unit and then went back another 20 metres with still with no loss.

Hollyland say you can get up to 200 metres range with line of sight which is more than adequate for most circumstances this system will be placed in.


Each of the mics is said to work for up to 8 hours before a re-charge is needed, but Hollyland has put some thought into the receiver side, as with a pass-through USB-C port on it, you can also charge the receiver when it is use by simply plugging a cable from it to the charging station. And then of course you can also top up the mics as needed, saying during a break in recording. The specs say that all up, you may get up to 32 hours’ worth of recording out of a charge.

LarkSound App

I found the companion app called LarkSound – which you have to download from Play Store – to be a valuable adjunct. With this running, you can tell at a glance how much juice is left in the mics, what level noise cancellation value is set, the volume levels via a meter (and you can increase or decrease the volume) and whether the audio is to played on the device’s speaker whilst recording.

You can also get the serial number of each component here, which you do need should you ever have to contact Hollyland Tech Support.


If you do a lot of smartphone audio recording and feel you need better quality audio as well as far more flexibility, then you are exactly the market the Hollyland Lark C1 aimed at.

Sound quality is excellent, you have the choice of your own app / device to record with, the wireless range is more than adequate for most uses and the price, at AUD$315 from Amazon Australia, is not a budget buster. If you want seriously good audio for your vlogging, podcast, small / short film production or other projects where a simple but very effective system is needed then the Hollyland Lark C1 is worth your consideration.


Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro and SanDisk Pro-Blade Ecosystem

Just over a week ago I reviewed the SanDisk Pro-Blade Ecosystem and discovered its minor quirks and an … ahhhm… omitted entry in the user notes.

But all in all, I thought the concept was a brilliant one, and still do.

Now, in my further playing investigations, I have discovered something else. I alluded to this in the original article, but only now managed to get around to testing it.

Will the SanDisk Pro-Blade Ecosystem work as an external SSD for a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro?

And the answer is yes, but again with a weird quirk.

I had formatted the drive for Windows as per the finally discovered documentation covering this area that is missing from the user notes (thank you Norman at SanDisk Tech for this – ), and connected the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro to the Transport unit containing the Mag (the actual drive).

And damn it, the camera would not see it in the installed media on the main screen in the LCD.

However going into the bowels of the camera’s OS, and the area covering storage, it DID see the drive as unformatted. So, in for a penny and in for a pound, I used the camera to again format the drive.

It took around 30 seconds for the 2TB and then lo! It was there, and I have a tasty 5 hours + of storage available.

Why it needed a camera format (both were set for NTFS) I have no idea, but what the hell, I don’t car, it worked and Windows can still the SanDisk when it is plugged in to the USB-C port.

Footnote: It is imperative in both cases you use the USB-C cable that comes with the SanDisk Pro-Blade Ecosystem. From my experience, other 3rd party USB-C cables may not work, but your mileage of course may vary.

Image: The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro inside a SmallRig cage and the SanDisk Pro-Blade Ecosystem. If you are interested in the cage I reviewed it here and they are available for a wide range of cameras from the Videoguys.

The mounted light is an Aputure AL-M9 (reviewed here) available from Kayell.

Review: SanDisk Pro-Blade Ecosystem

The concept is stunningly simple in its execution.

Imagine a “memory stick” on steroids capable of holding 1TB and with units available up to 4TB. To get data on and off it, there is an aluminium cradle affair that looks like, and is about the same size as, say a 10K mAh Powerbank.

This means you can have a couple or more of these “memory sticks”, and safely have data such as video or mass numbers of stills backed up safely from the camera / camcorder medium. To add icing to the cake, the Mags are hot swappable too.

This is called the SanDisk Pro-Blade Ecosystem, comprising the Pro-Blade Mags (the memory sticks) and the Pro-Blade Transport (the cradle). Also included (optionally) is the Pro-Blade Station which can carry 4 Pro-Blade mags at once, simultaneous offloading and super-fast speeds up to 3000MB/s read and write.

The Pro-Blade Transport in contrast can “only” read and write 2000MB/s.

It’s not only technically very impressive, but looks the goods too, all stylish and science-fictiony in ribbed gun metal.

The Mags start at AUD$329 for the 1TB units, the Transport is a further $149. The Station will be released in a few weeks, and we’ll have a price then.

One area this will be of interest to many is the ability for this unit to be plugged directly into a camera such as the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera Pro 6K. Instead of having to swap out drives when they are full (which does not take long in RAW); you can just switch out a Mag and replace it with a new one on the fly.

But before you race out the door to get one (I can imagine any number of people that will be dribbling over this), there is a catch and a ‘gotcha’.

The ‘gotcha’ first. Unless I am as blind as a bat, nowhere in the documentation I got is there mention that ALL SanDisk products are preformatted as the Mac OS. This means that if you try and get it working on a Windows PC, it simply will refuse. The fix to that is here.

And that catch is that USB 3.2 Gen 2 x 2 is needed to be able to read / write at maximum speed.

My workhorse desktop is a 4-year-old Dell XPS, and while this will read the likes of Samsung T5s and T7s, it wouldn’t have a bar of the Pro-Blade. Sure, you get the customary beep when connected, but while showing in Disk Management under Windows 10, it will not mount as a working readable / writeable drive.

4 years in the life of a computer is a long time, so I wasn’t overly surprised, if not a tad disappointed. But not to worry, my 12-month-old Gigabyte Aero laptop will no doubt be up to date enough?

Nope. Same result.

I had to interrupt the proceedings to go into town, and as an afterthought, took the Pro-Blade Mag and Transport with me. One of my errands was next door to the local Hardly Normal, and so popped in there to see what they had on display that would read it (without going to the exorbitant costs of some of the gaming machines on show).

None of them is the short answer.

It took my wife’s up to date iMac she uses for creating music with Logic Pro to finally break the impasse.

And now that it has been broken, the Pro-Blade system IS impressive. There is not really a lot you can say about it really, as it does exactly what it says it’ll do. And bloody fast at that!

But even then, it is still only running at ½ the capable speed as far as I can tell, with not even this mighty Mac giving the full USB 3.2 Gen 2 x 2 support.

You see, USB 3.2 2×2 supports 2 lanes of data going at 10Gb/s both ways to reach the maximum speed of 20Gb/s. Macs however (and still many PCs) can only support one lane of data flow through USB 3.2 2×2 cables and devices though and so you will only get USB 3.1 Gen 2 speeds on a Mac i.e. 10Gb/s via one single lane.

I do stand to be corrected if I have missed something by the way.

Now I don’t pretend to be a technical person as such. I get the gist of most stuff but prefer plug ‘n’ play to going back to the bad old days. In my researching of all this, I was fortunate enough to get sent a chart of info by Ray Shaw from Cybershack that gave me serious assistance as per below, so thanks Ray.

  • USB-A 1.0 1.5-12Mbps half-duplex (< half-speed both ways)
  • USB-A 2.0 480Mb/s half-duplex
  • USB- A 3.0 5Gb/s. half-duplex (has a Blue tongue and likely on PCs post-2010)
  • USB-C 3.1 Gen 1×1. 5Gbps half-duplex (PCs post-2015)
  • 3.1 Gen 2×1. 10Gbps (full-duplex approx. full speed both ways. PCs post-2018)
  • 3.2 Gen 2×2, 20Gbpps (full-duplex likely on PCs post-2020)
  • 4.0 Gen 2×2, 20GB/s (full-duplex. PCs late 2021)
  • 4.0 Gen 3×2, 40Gbps (full-duplex) but rare
  • Thunderbolt 3, 40Gbps and backwards compatible with USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 (or may require a dongle/dock
  • Thunderbolt 4, 40Gbps and backwards compatible with USB-C 4.0 and 3.2 Gen 2

The end result of all this is that I have decided to bite the bullet and buy a new computer to future proof at least the next 4 years. These days that is a mammoth task in itself with so many permutations available, even if you discard laptops and all-in-ones.

Last time I bought online (the Dell), and after trawling around the displays at hardly Normal, JB Hi-Fi and Officeworks etc, I have decided to revisit that method (at least 3 people assured me that I only needed 8GB RAM for video editing).

It turns out a PC (no monitor or keyboard) to match all the specs needed is going to cost about $3299.

So, this turned into a slightly expensive review!

Review: Kyno Asset Management

In our quest to find the perfect – or as near to perfect as possible – clip manager to catalogue and tag the thousands of video files, stills and images we have created, shot or otherwise obtained over the years, our journey took us to Kyno, available for both the Mac and the PC.

At AUD$229 to buy with one year of updates and licences for three computers (for one person), it is not a deal breaker for the individual by a long shot; a “premium” version for the corporate types is still only AUD$509 (again for one year). Updates after this period are at your discretion and are AUD$115 and AUD$245 respectively per annum.

The Interface

The main interface is like the usual File Manager / Finder style work area with a Devices section showing all of your internal hard drives, external USB drives, plugged in SD cards and the like plus an extra section for Jobs.

The Workspace area is automatically set up – under Windows it is your username but can be any folder you also wish to drag in to that section.

Jobs contains all the current background tasks Kyno is running.

When you select a folder in devices, you can display files by either thumbnail, list or detail. Thumbnail is the default, List displays all the details of all files in a list mode and Detail shows a single file inside Kyno’s own video player. A filter button lets you select exactly which files are to be displayed.

A nice touch is to filter by file modification, useful for those who don’t remove files from SD cards or you are not one of those who clean up files very often.

A second button lets you sort by different criteria, and we found that the list view is the best way to use this option, letting you see the sorting options much more clearly, such as clip length for example.

Detail mode is the most – well – detailed, with not only the ability to play clips, but display all of the metadata attached to a file. You can also transcode or export a file from Detail view and perform various other options from a drop-down menu.

On the right-hand side of the clip player, there is a separate tabbed section. The Metadata tab lets you add your own metadata such as a description, date shot, take number, angle, camera used and any tags you’d like to apply to the clip. The Content tab shows a visual multiple thumbnail overview of the clip’s content. The SubClip tab shows any subclips you have created from this clip and the Tracks tab contains metadata from the tracks in the file.  Finally, the Histogram tab shows the clip’s Histogram in real time as the clip is played.

Note that subclips are only shown AFTER they are defined in Kyno, not ones you have created in your NLE. Bummer but there you go. (But I understand the limitation subclips in NLEs offer making this option almost impossible)

One nice touch is that when an SD card is inserted, it is automatically detected and when opened, is in a “drill down” mode meaning that all files on the card are displayed, not just the ones in the root directory. For those unfamiliar with folder hierarchies on SD cards, this saves a whole lot of clicking around to find the files you are after.

The “drill down” mode can actually be added to any device or folder listed in Devices if you wish, which is a major bonus.

Files can be renamed either individually or in a batch mode using presets, and the destination of renamed files changed to a folder you designate. This alone I reckon is worth the price of Kyno!

The Player

The clip player in Kyno is pretty straightforward with a few extra features. In and out points can be set, and you can enable looping between these when playing back in the player. You can also zoom into a clip using the mouse or trackpad to check the quality of your footage.

If shooting slo–mo footage, the player can be set to play back the footage at your final project settings. Eg if you have shot footage at 120p, you can play it back at 24fps to see exactly how it will look.

You also have a zebra and wide screen filter available to check footage. Markers can be set with titles and descriptive text and then used as navigated points, mark issues, still points to export and much more.


Transcoding (converting) couldn’t be easier. Simply select a file or files, right click and choose convert form the drop down menu and select a preset. Presets are listed in different categories making it nice and easy to choose the one you want. Transcoding works in the background.

Once you have chosen to transcode a file or files, these will then appear in the jobs section of the workspace. If you have set in and out points in a clip, these will be honoured during the transcoding process and the file trimmed accordingly.

I found this useful for GoPro recordings especially, where there is a lot of “head and tail” footage you don’t want.

Output folders and filenames sent for transcoding can all be individually specified.

Other Functionality

Just the basics alone mean Kyno is super powerful, but there is other stuff too. You can create export lists of files with timecodes, marker points and subclip info included directly from Kyno into Excel format so that another editor can quickly go through the clip to quickly find the points referenced, and there is a client reporting section built right in for example.

A BIG feature in my book is the ability to select a clip, whether it be image or video, complete with any meta tags, and send it straight to either Photoshop for editing or into the media pool of Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve. You can also play back clips in Kyno that have been encoded with Blackmagic RAW.

This feature alone is a damn fine reason to switch to DaVinci Resolve or of course, Adobe Creative Cloud if your prefer that workflow style.

 If you are an AVID Media Composer user with Kyno 1.8 Premium Edition, Avid Media Composer workflows are supported through ALE export as well as copy and paste for markers between Kyno and Media Composer.


As always, we recommend that you download and have a play with the trial version of Kyno and see how it fits in with your workflow.

For the social media / videoblog folk, I suspect the freebie MYNC is more than is necessary, but if you need a bit more – or a lot more – grunt that this offers, Kyno is a well-constructed, easy to learn and use and extremely powerful piece of software for clip management with a very affordable price tag.

You can get the trial version at



Memory? Who needs memory? Well your camera will soon. And lots of it.

As we speak, Dr David Smith is reviewing a Blackmagic URSA 12K camera for  Australian Videocamera. Yep, that’s right, 12K. Makes my little(?) Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro sound tiny, doesn’t it?

We hope to have the full review available shortly, but the major reason for this piece is to highlight an issue that is going to be more and more front and centre as camera and optics technology goes forward.

Recordable memory.

Not that long ago, a 256GB SD card was classified as “yuge” and cost a pretty penny. The trouble is, if I put one of those in the BPCC 6K Pro and shoot at maximum resolution, I’ll get around 16 minutes. And it costs around $350 for the 128GB version that is fast enough to record at the full 6K in Blackmagic RAW.

As this camera also supports CFast cards, how do they compare cost wise then? A bit more expensive as it turns out, although you can get them up to 1TB (which’ll set you back over a grand!).

The best option then seemingly is to go for an external SSD. But not all USB-C drives are equal as it turns out.

Thankfully, Blackmagic Design has a useful section of their website detailing exactly what SSD’s (and SD and CF cards) are supported. Sadly, and my mistake, I only discovered this after the fact, and blew some $ on a non-supported Samsung drive instead of the supported Samsung T5 1TB unit. Never mind, that now acts as a storage drive for the Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Pro and is doing a Stirling job there

So I got the T5 (seems I was lucky to find it though as they seem as rare as rocking horse poo), and it set me set me back just over $130 on special, and while is adequate, for general purpose shooting, is not usable at the full 6K Blackmagic RAW 5:1 up to 50 fps, being limited to 6K 2.4:1 Blackmagic RAW 5:1 up to 60 fps and lower. Trap for the unwary; it is easy to think that if you cannot find a T5, a T7 will suffice. Not so. Blackmagic tells me there are reports of “issues” with these at present.

For the full beans, I was pointed to a LaCie Rugged SSD Pro at around $600 and this is doing a champion job.  Being small. I am currently working out a way of adapting a phone holder to contain it and it’ll then mount on the Miller Air 75 Solo tripod nicely.

As I stated at the start, as the tech of cameras gets better and better, having to use this amount of memory for recording is going to become the norm. My suggestion therefore is if you are about to fork out hard earned cash for SD cards or the like, go as high in capacity as you can as in the not-too-distant future, you are going to need it. 128GB will be as laughable in a year or so as 16GB is now.

Oh and for reference, the test files David Smith shot for his review – and these are JUST test files – amounted to 900GB!

First Look: Zhiyun Fiveray FR100C

In fishing parlance, if you have a love of all things gadgety, and can’t resist buying that new brightly coloured lure, the new gizmo to remove a fish hook or the latest contraption to help you tie a hook on without jamming the point through your finger, then there is a name for you.

A Tackle Rat.

I wonder if there should be such a title for the same sort of folk who inhabit the film and video making world?

A Gadget Junkie? Think of a name and I’ll work out a suitable prize for the best one. Let me know at

But we all love a good gadget, and the latest to cross my desk is yet another product from Zhiyun called a Fiveray, also known by the not so sexy moniker FR100C.

Fiveray is a high powered and very portable LED fill light that comes chock full of party tricks and is a great tool for those who film live interviews or do still photography especially. It also makes a pretty damn good camping light just quietly, although it is NOT waterproof but it rated IP20., in other words, “the product is touchproof and will be resistant to dust or objects that are over 12mm in size. However, it has no protection whatsoever against liquids and will be susceptible to damage if it comes into contact with sprays of water”.

The Fiveray is powered by an internal Lithium battery and rechargeable by either USB-C or external 24v / 5A power supply. (This is an optional extra).

There are sadly no real figures given as to battery life under different conditions as with so many possibilities under so many potential circumstances, any indications would be wildly wrong in reality. All the manual tells us is that under maximum power you’ll get around 31 minutes.

Now that may seem like a copout, but when you discover the full potential of the Fiveray, you’ll see what I mean. So a complete physical description is in order.


The Fiveray is about ½ metre long and 50mm on each side and has a solid feel about it weighing in at almost 1Kg.

The body on one side is dominated by a frosted white lens-cum-light shade and on the other by no less than 6 cooling fans.

On the fan side and below them (with the Fiveray in the vertical orientation that is), is a control panel made up of a small, coloured LED screen and rotary switch with a central on/off switch. On the side next to the control panel are the pair of charging ports. And on the bottom, a standard ¼” threaded hole for light stand or tripod mounting.


Everything can be controlled from the combination on/off and rotary switch. And by everything, that means a LOT of things, thus showing of the versatility of the Fiveray.

Surrounding the rotary switch are four small labels – DIM, MAX, CCT and HIS. Taking these one by one:

DIM: A single press of the DIM button allows you to enter the brightness adjustment interface, also known as CCT mode. Here you can then switch between Brightness and Colour Temperature.

HSI:  Again, a single press enters the HSI full colour mode interface and here you are able to switch between Hue, Saturation and the Full Colour Interface.

MAX: This just does one thing – switches between the maximum power mode on or off, and that is a whopping 20708LUX!

CCT: A single press enters the colour temperature interface where you may switch between Brightness and Colour Temperature. The Colour temperature range is 2700K to 6200K.

In every process, the LED screen informs you of what mode you are in and the current settings as they change as well as the current battery level.


Okay, technical specifications and guff are all very well, but where can the Fiveray pay for itself?

I can think of a number oof places where having control over light such as this useful, especially in portrait and product photography for example. Being portable means you are not bound to a studio and 240v power. And with Power Stations being so affordable these days, carrying top up power around is not an issue anymore.

It can also be used for background lighting, with the options of different colours easily accessible letting you experiment quickly with different colurs and brightness to get just the “right look” – for still photography or video.

Something I did not think off until I saw it on the Zhiyun website was that with the ¼” thread, it is potentially easy to mount the Fiveray to a gimbal and using long shutter times and exposure, you have a fabulous way of “light painting”.

There are brighter people than me – pardon the pun – who much more understand lighting than I, and I am sure they will think of a myriad more ways it can be used.

Fiveray retails for AUD$399 for the base unit at AUD$499 for the “Combo” which also ships with a a240v charger, USB-C Cable and carry case.


I am very much looking forward to having a serious play with this under a variety of circumstances. I can see many, many uses for the areas I dip my toes into the water with, and the Fiveray is already one of those few items I think you should keep with your base camera / camcorder kit at all times.

If I had one criticism at this stage, it is simply this is definitely a product screaming out for an app to drive it from a smartphone. Fiveray v2 perhaps, or maybe there is Bluetooth embedded and a firmware upgrade may pop that into existence sometime in the future?

Speaking of firmware upgrades, to upgrade the Fiveray with any new updates (always wise to check out of the box), it uses the same firmware upgrade tool that Zhiyun gimbals use.

For more information and to purchase, go to

PS: It also comes in white.

PPS: Zhiyun has JUST announced a giveaway!


Fiveray Light Stick * 5 for lucky winners!

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If I was a buying a new camcorder today, what would I get?

Australian Videocamera has been going for 15 years and over that time, as well as in the preceding years when I was the Managing Editor of Videocamera magazine, I have road tested many, many camcorders and cameras.

Some were memorable such as the Canon XHA1, Panasonic HC-WFX1M and the Sony Z1, others not so and they will remain nameless.

But let’s use the Sony Z1 as a sort of benchmark here. I choose the Z1 as, for me at least, it was a ground breaker at the time in terms of the jump from SD to HD, and also allowing DVCAM.

It was also Sony’s first attempt at making a pro level camcorder that appealed to the consumer. “New” features at the time offered a 3CCD system giving 30, 25 and 24fps and there was a special CineFrame mode that “replicated the look of film production” according to Sony.

Recording was to the venerable MiniDV cassette which meant you needed a Firewire (IEEE1394 or iLink) port on your computer to ingest footage, but back then, circa 2005, this was not an issue and indeed, on many Macs it was standard.

Sure it had a fixed lens and cost over $7K in Australia, but nothing else even came close on the market at the time.

I never owned a Z1 although I did use one on one of my many east-west-west driving crossings of Australia at the time. But I knew a lot of people who bought Z1s and some like Australian Videocamera’s senior writer Dr David Smith still use theirs as they were then, and still are now, that good.

It took a while to dig out the specs of the Z1 (mainly because there were two versions, the Z1U and Z1E for USA and “Europe”), but if you are interested, I found them, and a review here.

So the question I wanted to ponder– and in fact answer – is what camcorder I would get today that I consider at the top of its game, the same way the Z1 was in 2005?

As I say in the opening paragraph, over the years I have been privileged to review many, many camcorders and cameras. The only major manufacturer no longer represented here in Australia is JVC, more the pity as they made some fine camcorders in my opinion, but we do have of course Sony, Canon and Panasonic as the staples with Red on the sidelines as a more niche manufacturer.

Blurring the lines though is the fact most dSLRs and mirrorless cameras from the likes of Fujitsu, Nikon etc operate quite nicely as camcorders with inbuilt 4K capability.

So you’d think I’d pick one of these? Well no.

My pick having had an extensive play with it over the last 6 months or so is a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro (BPCC6K)

As the BPCC6K has a standard EF mount I can use my 70-200mm zoom and nifty 50mm from my Canon 5DS and of course, there is a HUGE range of EF mount lenses from a number of manufacturers, not just Canon.

And the bang for buck you get from the BPCC6K for your $4K is enormous.

Firstly there is a Super 35 high resolution sensor giving an image up to 6144 x 3456, dual native ISO and whilst you can record to either SD or Compact Flash cards, with one of the recommended units, you can record direct to portable SSD drives (I use a Sandisk Extreme Pro Portable 1TB.

You get an adjustable 1500 nits HDR touchscreen, built in ND filters, 13 stops of dynamic range and a monstrous number of shooting resolutions along with associated metadata such as project, scene number, take and special notes. A 3D LUT can also be embedded in metadata of Blackmagic RAW files.

Another feature I love is the ability to control the camera from my Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Pro and the associated software.

Ergonomically everything is in the right place and easily accessible. I found the whole camera easy to come to grips with and if there is something that stumps you, the 150-odd page manual covers every aspect in detail.

If there was one thing that is a minor negative, it is that the “pocket” part of the model’s name is a little misleading. Unless you have a bloody big pocket. And this camera is not light at 1.2Kg (without lens) as I discovered shooting fireworks on Australia Day.

But everything else to my mind ticks every box in what makes a great camcorder and I suggest if you are in the market for one, go and have a look and a play if you can.

If the 4K price tag is just beyond reach, there is also the “standard” 6K version for a tad over $3K or the 2K model for $2K, so all bases are covered.

Oh and did you know that Blackmagic Design is an Australian company? That also accounts for something in my book.

You can get all the info and specs etc at