Photography/Videography tips for the Outdoors

Planning to take an outdoor excursion sometime soon? While you’re trying to decide whether to take your Hasselblad H5D-60 or your best Nikon camera, we have a few tips and pointers for you to consider before and during your trip.

Types of Cameras

The first question on everyone’s mind is what kind of camera should you bring?

  • DSLR camera— For the best high-quality stills and sometimes videos.
  • Action camera — For capturing the best quality videos in-action.
  • Camera drone — For getting unique and unparalleled videos and stills.

adult, blur, cameraAccessories

There’s really no limitation to what you should bring, but this question should correlate to how much value you place in your camera. Taking an expensive camera is always going to be a risk, but you’re also going to get the best shots.

  • For some people, this is a no-brainer. Of course, you’re going to take the best camera you have. That’s why you should take every precaution to protect it.

 

In the Outdoors

In order to maximize the power of your particular set of optics, in the case of DSLRs, you’re probably going to want different lenses or filters. Whether one breaks or you want a different type of shot, having backups in the wilderness is always handing.

  • Click here for the best Tamron DSLR lenses
  • Click here for the best Nikon DSLR lenses
    • Check out the beginner’s guide to the best Nikon lenses
  • Click here for the best Sigma DSLR lenses for Canon
  • Click here for the best Sigma DSLR lenses for Nikon

 

You also shouldn’t try to point and shoot. Sure you might get a pretty good looking shot but the key to photography and somewhat in videography is patience. This will mean more time spent to get fewer pictures but at the same time simply shoveling pictures into your memory card is unnecessary.

  • Try not to aim into the sun. Use your camera’s natural lighting abilities.
  • Playing with the onboard may create some interesting (or funny) effects!
  • Take pictures at different times of the day.
  • Try different exposures (short vs. long).

 

Overall

Taking pictures shouldn’t detract from your overall trip, which is why too much photography can be a problem. An action camera can solve this problem. Simply attach it to your body and just start rolling.

In general, your first priority is to keep the camera or machine safe from the elements and secure around or near your body if possible. Especially if you’re carrying a camera that’s not so easily replaceable, pictures are second in priority in the outdoors.

Nikon D850 Review

In the market for a stellar full-frame DSLR camera? Look no further than the brand new Nikon D850. With gorgeous image quality and unrivaled AF capture, the D850 is one of the best SLR cameras on the market today.

The D850 replaces the top-tier D810 as a top of the line, high resolution, full frame offering from Nikon.

Specs

Let’s take a look at just a few of the key specifications on the D850:

  • 7 megapixel BSI CMOS sensor
  • 0 fps continuous shooting
  • 153-point autofocus system
  • 2″ high-res tilting touchscreen
  • 4K Ultra HD video recording
  • ISO 64-25,600
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth built in

Image Quality

The D850 represents Nikon’s first back-side illuminated full-frame sensor and no optical low-pass filter. It also provides 45.7 MP shooting at high speed, faster and sharper processing, and excellent AF even in super low light conditions. You can shoot up to 7 fps at 45.7 MP, so this camera is supremely versatile. The effect of all the bells and whistles and updated tech is stunning image quality and a seamless shooting experience.

The video quality is also stunning: the D850 is the first Nikon to shoot 4k from the full sensor width. It also lets you shoot slow motion sequences — record 4x (shoot at 120p, playback at 30/25p) or 5x (shoot at 120p, playback at 24p) slow-motion at 1080p. Or, record time lapse sequences in 4K UHD – an excellent option for astrophotographers.

Focus Shift Mode offers options to capture excellent DOF shots in high resolution. Advanced Scene Recognition System ensures optimal exposure, and Picture Control System helps you do less post processing. Again, this camera is nothing if not versatile, making it an excellent option for anyone from wedding photographers to wildlife photographers.

To understand just how great the image quality is, a comparison of the D850 with the D810 (which was already an excellent camera) illuminates some of the huge advancements Nikon made with this new model. Obviously megapixels is a big one (45.7 versus 36.3 on the D810), but ISO range (64-25,600 versus 64-12,800), autofocus (153 points with 99 cross type points versus 51 AF with 15 cross type), and shooting speed (7 fps in all formats versus 5-7 fps) are pretty significant too.

 

Speed

Speed is key in the D850. Not only does it offer fast shooting, but it also has faster processing. Autofocus is both fast and accurate. Capture up to 51 consecutive shots in 14-bit RAW or up to 170 frames in 12-bit lossless compressed RAW. The attention to detail and speed makes this – yes, we’ll say it again – incredibly versatile. Whether you’re shooting a wedding, a sporting event, or wildlife, the D850 ensures you can focus on the shot and not have to worry about the mechanics.

The AF on the D850 comes from Nikon’s flagship D5, a smart decision on Nikon’s part to ensure the highest-end camera they have can match speed of their beloved sports camera. Continuing with the speed (and D5) theme: the D850 can expand to 9 fps with the MB-D18 Multi Battery Power Pack.

Also related to speed: the amount of memory available means you don’t have to worry about switching out cards in the middle of a shoot. The D850 has both an XQD and SD slot. It also has excellent battery performance, boasting a battery life rated at 1840 shots.

Body

The D850 looks much like the D810, but it’s more comfortable to hold and has a few added features. New body features include a tilting touch LCD, touch sensitivity, and no more built-in flash. The removal of the flash means a new viewfinder and extra magnification (0.75x). It is 35.4 oz with a battery and XQD card.

Bottom Line

The D850 is a worthy successor to the D810 and is worth upgrading to no matter which camera you’re coming from. It retains so many of the excellent things that the D810 feature, plus it has some serious upgrades and borrows some key components from the D5 and D500. It doesn’t cost much more than the D810 and is still priced well for a full frame DSLR. This might be the best DSLR on the market right now, so if you’re considering it, we say go for it.

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Olympus TG-Tracker Review

Careful not to mistake the Olympus’ TG-Tracker for your average range finder, because they look pretty similar. The TG-Tracker is an action camera ideal for hunting. Why? It’s got some unique features that separate it from action cameras you’ll take snorkeling, snowboarding, or off-roading. Here are other action cameras that are more rounded in terms of capability.

What should you want in an action camera? If you’re a hunter, the first thing you’ll probably think of is camouflage, but that’s not always the case.

  • Durability
  • Battery Life
  • Camera Quality
  • Systems

Let’s explore some of these categories and find out why the TG-Trackers is the ideal hunting action camera.

Durability and Design

The TG-Tracker doesn’t look like your typical action camera. Its interface is actually on the side and flips out backward. You hold the camera much like a range finder instead of on a selfie stick where its pointed back at you. You can still mount the TG-Tracker on a stick, but it’s not quite the ideal selfie taker.

It might not be a tank, but it sure is built like one. The TG-Tracker is built to endure the occasional drop or mishandle, but that doesn’t mean you should actively look to destroy it! The most important thing you can do to extend its lifetime is to use it responsibly.

Camera

Don’t let the odd design of the TG-Tracker detract from your thoughts about its camera. It wields an impressive 4k quality at 30FPS camera which is the best you can get for any action camera. Whatever you plan on viewing on your hunting trip, the TG-Tracker will capture it all for a pretty affordable price.

The TG-Tracker’s camera can see 204 degrees in front of itself, about 24 degrees wider than most adventure action cameras. It isn’t panorama but it gets pretty close. It’s ideal for spotting and capturing things that might be outside of what even you can see.

Systems

The TG-Tracker’s systems are what are going to appeal to most hunters. Aside from the high-quality camera, it comes equipped with various outdoor-focused sensors such as GPS, eCompass, accelerometer, thermometer, and a barometer. There are few if any other action cameras that come equipped with these features. To have all these sensors on one device will lessen the load on hunting trips or outdoor excursions in general. 

If you’re trying to be efficient with your energy and the terrain you travel, the TG-Tracker has a log feature that will record your movement and even data on your environment for your future study.

Overall

If there was a camera built exclusively for living in the outdoors, the TG-Tracker would be it. It’s not cheap, but it isn’t terribly expensive either. Its versatility in terms of available features will appeal to hunters and outdoorsman alike. The TG-Tracker compares not too unfavorably with the GoPro HERO5 in terms of overall capability. Both cameras are built for the outdoors but the TG-Tracker can probably handle a little more punishment.

Regardless of comparison, anyone who purchases the TG-Tracker with the intent to capture nature in its prime is going to be satisfied.

Garmin VIRB Ultra 30 vs. HERO5 Action Cameras

You may recognize the brand Garmin by their exceptional fitness trackers (Click here to see comparisons of Garmin fitness trackers). We’ll be looking at the VIRB Ultra 30 and how it shapes up to a similar competitor, the HERO5. Both action cameras are top of the line when it comes to quality, looks, stability, and reliability.

The HERO5 is the face of the current action camera industry but that shouldn’t count out the VIRB. These two cameras actually shape up pretty well when compared to one another. Both are not exactly cheap and easily replaceable, but they’ll be worth your while if they’re well kept and maintained.

That being said, let’s get into the review.

Camera

Winner: Tie

Both cameras are capable of 4k/30FPS quality settings. This is the best setting on action cameras on the market. It’s going to eat up battery more quickly than lower settings, but we’ll leave that up to you to decide.

The quality settings are nice, but they won’t do much good if you can’t get the perfect shots. That’s why both cameras employ similar stabilization systems to prevent the camera from shaking during a rickety ride.

Style

Winner: HERO5

You’d think looks and style won’t factor into a purchase, but you’d be surprised how many people judge a book by its cover. The VIRB and the HERO5 are both great machines, but the HERO5 is overall a smoother and more intimate design. It’s nothing personal, but if you want to have the sweetest looking action camera in the wilderness, the HERO5 is going to show that you’re pretty serious about capturing the best sights the world has to offer.

The HERO5 doesn’t have any of the excess buttons or designs along the top or front of the camera. It’s as simple of an action camera as you can get with all the perks of being a high-quality device.

Systems

Winner: VIRB

At first, we thought the HERO5 has this category in the bag but upon further inspection, the VIRB actually surprised us. The VIRB actually has a variety of systems including GPS and performance monitoring sensors that measure speed, elevation, heart rate, and probably the most unique of all—G-Force. We imagine that the VIRB is being used by a variety of aviators from wing-suiters to fighter pilots, hence why this measurement is included.

The HERO5 has none of these features. It makes sense that Garmin, a noted GPS and fitness tracker producer, would include these features on its action camera. If you’re looking to combine photography/videography with your exercises, then the VIRB is the camera for you.

User Experience

Winner: Tie

You’ll be surprised to find that despite the various buttons on the VIRB, it’s actually voice-controlled (to a certain extent) like the HERO5. Both cameras require at least some finger contact to manage the videos on the back screen, so voice control only goes so far.

The HERO5 is going to be simpler to use due to the fact that it only has one button. That being said, both cameras try to minimalize the excessive button pushing as much as possible.

Overall

Winner: VIRB

Whoa, some camera actually beat out the HERO5? The VIRB is definitely not as well known as the HERO5, but we hope this review gave you insight as to the VIRB’s capabilities. Simply put, it’s your ultimate outdoor action camera. With other cameras, we can understand how you might be careful with them and be

Simply put, it’s your ultimate outdoor action camera. With other cameras, we can understand how you might be careful with them and be hesitant to take them into the most extreme conditions. Not the VIRB, because this little machine was built to handle mother nature in all her forms.

DJI Mavic Pro Review

The Mavic Pro is an interesting design by DJI. This drone and the Spark are DJI’s newest drones and as a result, have plenty of fancy features and programs for their users. These various features make the Mavic Pro one of the more diverse drones on the market for people looking to maximize a drone’s photo and video taking capabilities. Click here for the list of best camera drones of 2017.

The first thing we would like to note about the Mavic Pro is its ability to fold up to about the size of a water bottle, making it compact and easier to carry for traveling. It can be a hassle to carry the drone with its wings fully extended out in the wilderness, thus DJI looked to solve this problem.

This drone really marks a transition from hobbyist drones to professional drones for DJI.

Camera

As with most drones at this level, the Mavic Pro is fully capable of 4k/30FPS quality setting. With twenty-seven minutes of flight time, you shouldn’t worry about getting all the best angles and videos with what you have.

Lately, DJI has been implementing hands-free technology, and the Mavic Pro shares this capability with the spark. When you have the Mavic Pro focused and turned towards you, simply make a frame with your fingers and you’ll get a quick selfie. It’s pretty intuitive but if you’re still wary, don’t worry, the drone still comes with a controller.

Systems

In addition to slight voice control, the Mavic Pro has a number of systems to keep it in the air shooting for as long as possible. What’s great about the Mavic Pro is even if it’s moved beyond visual range, it has the ability to detect obstacles and slow down to avoid them. Furthermore, with the push of a button, it returns home to you.

Despite its sci-fi look, the Mavic Pro is a user-friendly drone. Its price might initially deter beginners but the combination of FPV glasses and a highly interactive controller will give you proper control over it.

Performance

The Mavic Pro is fast, which is unusual for a non-racing drone (for a list of best-racing drones, click here). With a top speed of around 40mph, it can get to where you want it to go quickly. If you’re looking to take a majority of your shots quickly, then the Mavic Pro can get the job done in no time.

Overall

At first glance, the Mavic may appear to just be a bigger Spark. However, its speed and battery life for example clearly separate it from DJI’s other drones. Don’t let those two features be the deciding factors, however. It still has the greatest camera on the market and its smart onboard features give you a wide range of options for capturing your outdoor (or indoor) adventures.

Parrot BEBOP 2 Review

While the DJI Spark may have all the fancy features, Parrot’s Bebop 2 is a fully immersive drone for the pilot still used to the look and feel of an actual controller. While most professional and hobbyist camera drones will have their FPV cameras under their belly, the Bebop 2’s is on its nose.

We like the Bebop 2 as an all-around hobbyist drone on our list of the best camera drones of 2017. It’s not too expensive and doesn’t have too many capabilities beyond what is needed by the pilot/photographer. Nevertheless, its main weapon—the HD camera, still packs a punch.

Camera

The Bebop sports a 1080p/14MP camera that is capable of taking pictures or videos at a wide angle. You can see this for yourself if you held the drone in your hand and watched its camera move at extreme angles. The 1080 camera isn’t 4k, but it’s still high definition. You’ll be able to tell the difference between it and a mini drone whose highest setting might be 720p.

When using the remote control, you can use the Cockpitglasses to see through the eye of the Bebop 2. This fully immersive experience will provide you with an up close look at whatever you’re looking to take a picture of. If you’re looking to get the best shots possible, using the Cockpitglasses is going to be the ideal solution.

Systems

The “Follow-me” feature that is not unique to the Bebop 2 is one of its best features. If you’re hiking or climbing, the Bebop 2 will simply follow you. That way you can put away the controller and get back to enjoying the world around you. The one downside is that you will have to purchase it from Freeflight Pro App—the app built for Parrot Drones.

Performance

With a flight time of nearly 25 minutes, the Bebop 2 is better than most mini-drones that compare with it. While you might be keeping smaller drones closer to home. The Bebop 2 is just the right size to take with you into the outdoors. Sure, 25 minutes is probably not going to be the duration of your entire trip, but you don’t have to fly it all in one sitting.

The Bebop 2 has an astounding maximum range of about 1.25 miles, which doesn’t seem like much until you actually test that distance.

Overall

If you’re not looking for all the flashy systems that come on drones like the Spark, then the Bebop 2 is the next best thing. It’s by no means a mini-drone which is why it is ideal for indoor and outdoor activity.

YI Action Camera Review

If you’re looking for a good action camera that isn’t as expensive as the GoPro HERO5 or the Garmin VIRB Ultra 30, then you’re in luck. The YI action camera is here to alleviate your worried wallet and still provide you with a quality piece of optic gear. You probably don’t hear about the YI that often because GoPro really does dominate the market.

However, the YI has certainly made a name for itself among its happy users. Why? We’ll let it speak for itself.

Camera

The YI is fully capable of 4k/30FPS quality. Let’s face it, this is the first thing that everyone looks for on any action camera these days. If you’re concerned about battery life, there are lower quality settings which won’t get you the coveted HD videos and photos but they’ll be the next best thing.

Like the more high-end action cameras, the YI employs a three-axis stabilization technique in order to keep the camera from bouncing around. Shaky videos and blurry shots will be a thing of the past with the YI and others like it. What makes the YI different is that you can get all these perks for a relatively cheap price.

Systems

With an interactive touch screen, you can edit photos and videos on the back of the camera. You won’t have to worry about the tedious nature of computer editing software when you can do pretty much what you need on the go. The camera has built in Wi-Fi to allow you to share what you’ve captured to sites like Facebook and YouTube.

The YI lacks the diverse shooting methods that make cameras like the HERO5 so popular. It’s not a huge loss that the YI doesn’t have features like slow motion because it makes up for it in having 4k quality in the first place.

Style and Design

This action camera is even smoother and less bulky than the HERO5 and the VIRB. Literally, it’s like a box with a camera lens sticking out of it. If you put it in its watertight case, not to worry. The YI fits just as nicely and overall is a pretty neat looking camera to behold.

Its touch screen also features Gorilla glass, a toughened material that will resist scratches and scrapes that are more likely to scuff the exterior of the camera.

Overall

The YI is seriously underrated and we would like to see it in the hands of more happy outdoorsmen and women. It’s got just about every spec to make it a premier action camera. Of course, 4k/30FPS shouldn’t be the only deciding factor in your decision to buy the YI.

Regardless, we know the YI is going to satisfy the customer looking to take it into the wilderness and capture all the right moments.

DJI Spark Review

We all like to imagine we can use the Force every once in awhile. Now our imagination has quickly become reality with DJI’s newest and smallest drone yet, the Spark. You can hold it up with one hand, but that’s not even its most exciting feature as a mini-drone. Watch this video from DJI to see what we mean.

 

 

Systems

That’s right, this drone is motion controlled. It recognizes certain hand movements according to its user that allow you to position it where you want in the sky. With yet another gesture, in the form of a frame, you can take a picture with the camera pointed at you. That being said, it’s probably the most advanced and user-friendly drone on our list of best camera drones.

While you’re certainly able to fly the drone with your hands and a controller, the Spark also slightly autonomous. What we mean by this is in the absence of clear control over the drone, its sensors will pick up obstacles in its way. Another one of its systems will recognize airports and stadiums and warn you to stay away.

Camera

The Spark’s camera is built into the nose of the aircraft. What is interesting about the Spark is its employment of a 2-axis system. While the drone itself turns or arcs its body, the camera will remain stationary. Other drones employ similar axis systems but few, if any with a camera built into it. This gives the pilot shake free pictures and videos.

The highest quality setting on the Spark is 1080p at 12MP, which isn’t the best, but still great for non-professional use. What the Spark lacks in the highest quality cameras it makes up for in versatility. Sure, you’re not going to get shots similar to dedicated DSLR cameras, but you’ll be able to shoot from angles and views far beyond the range and capability of any hand held camera.

Its camera has multiple shooting methods that work in tangent with hand movements. The 1080p camera will compensate for factors such as light and shadow to get you a quality picture or video. If you plan on flying the Spark outside of hand range, then be prepared to divert more control to the actual controller.

Performance

With a flight time of only sixteen to seventeen minutes, it’s not the type of drone to take out into the wilderness unless you have adequate backup power. You’re probably going to be maximizing its hand gesture features and the drone’s sensors don’t reach for miles. That being said, the drone still comes with a smart controller with a built in video transmitter. This will allow you to fly the drone outside of the hand gesture recognition area.

Overall

It was difficult for us to find anything bad to say about the Spark. Its hand gesture recognition software is still state of the art, so you can’t completely wield the power of the Force with this drone. That mean’s no crazy flips or tricks just by moving your hand in weird motions.

Nevertheless, the drone utilizes a variety of tools and software that are easily learnable, making it the ideal hobbyist drone.

Check out the price here!

DJI Phantom 3 vs. Autel Robotics X-Star

If you’re trying to decide between the Phantom 3 and the X-Star Premium, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. We realize that these two drones are some of the most popular and well-known on the market. We’ve decided to size them up against one another to see what, if anything, tips the balance in favor of one over the other.

These are both hobbyist drones and for good reason—they’re both excellent drones for hobbyists and budding professionals. However, as you’ll see in our comparison, there are some small but notable differences. We’ll look at a couple of categories that will help you narrow down your choices. Click here to see our additional list for the best camera drones of 2017.

Let’s get into the drones.

Camera

Winner: Tie

Both drones utilize an ultra HD 4k camera, perhaps the best camera to go on a drone besides an actual action camera or DSLR camera (we don’t recommend attaching your DSLR to the drone, it’d be too heavy!). Both cameras can rotate from their take-off position while the drones themselves can obviously turn. This will give you a greater field of view and different viewing angles with overlapping planes.

A UHD 4k camera is not going to come cheap, that’s why the prices are so high for these respective drones.

Here are our reviews the best action cameras of 2017. If you’re also in the mood, click here for the best DSLR cameras of 2017.

Performance

Winner: Phantom 3

While the Phantom 3 has a slightly lower battery life than the X-Star, it has almost twice the operational range when unobstructed.

The Phantom 3 also has two additional modules that enable you to track it whenever it moves out of your sight. You’ll be able to see through its eyes through the drone’s smartphone app. However, if you’re looking to maximize the Phantom 3’s operational distance, it can be difficult to position it just by what the drone sees. That’s why it has built in GPS and positional modes to make sure you always know where it is.

Autel Robotics X-Star Premium Drone with 4K Camera, 1.2-Mile HD Live View & Hard Case (Orange)

Looks and Style

Winner: X-Star

Aside from being a fantastic shade of orange, the X-Star also has four glowing lights under each propeller, making it visible during nighttime flying. If you want to have the sweetest looking drone in the sky, the X-Star is your machine. You’ll definitely stand out as the pilot of this awesome drone as you take some of the greatest shots imaginable with its ultra HD camera.

The X-Star also comes in white. On the X-Star the color looks just as great. No offense to the Phantom, but the X-Star just has a sleeker, built-for-the-sky type look.

Overall

It was difficult to make a final decision on these drones, since they’re so closely related and matched. We know you’ll be happy regardless of which drone you choose. Both the Phantom 3 and the X-Star are on the border between a hobbyist and professional drone, but both are remarkably easy to fly. The trick with both is that you’re going to have to test their limits. That doesn’t mean fly them into a hurricane, but there are a number of precautions you can take in order to extend the life of the drone.

HLS Action Camera vs. GoPro HERO5

The HLS and HERO5 seem like opposite ends of the spectrum for comparing action cameras. However, there are some notable differences and similarities between the two that we believe you should be aware of. On our list of best action cameras (click here for the guide), we have the HLS and the HERO5 in different categories but both are at the top of those respective categories. Regardless of who comes out the winner of this match, both cameras are going to satisfy the amateur or the professional.

Camera

Winner: Slight Tie

Both action cameras employ a 4k camera at 30FPS, the highest quality you can get on the market. However, the HERO5 has a massive advantage in recording time, nearly twice the HLS’s. You’ll be at the controls of the HERO5 for a lot longer than the HLS. Make no mistake, both cameras are going to capture awesome pictures and videos. However, if you want to have a more reliable camera for extended periods of time, the HERO5 is going to more favorable one.

Both cameras have different resolutions. Not that you’d want anything less than 4k quality, but sometimes it can help save battery. This will be especially handy for longer trips.

The Elements

Winner: HLS

It was difficult to find a clear difference between these two cameras, but we decided on the HLS due to a number of stats. It can operate in the water beyond the range of the HERO5 and is more rugged in general. Because it is far cheaper than the HERO5, the camera itself and its accessories will still cost less than a single purchase of the HERO5. If you ever need to replace the HLS for major malfunctions, it won’t cost you too much if at all if you choose an additional warranty plan.

The HLS has been proved on the same harsh terrain and conditions that the HERO5 is made for. Whether it be snow, rain, sleet, or underwater, the HLS is just as reliable as the HERO5.

Systems

Winner: HERO5

The HERO5 is by far the simplest action camera on the market despite its price. The HLS may be cheaper but a number of features that comes with the HERO5 are too great to ignore. For example, voice control and a single button to control recording are revolutionary that most other brands simply don’t have.

The touchscreen on the HERO5’s back also makes handling your videos much simpler than using buttons on the side. The ability to edit those videos on the spot is a feature that clearly separates the HERO5 from the competition.

Overall

Winner: HERO5

The HERO5 is the winner in our minds but not by a huge margin. The HLS is a reliable camera with its one clear advantage being the price. However, GoPro is a proven brand and the HERO5 is the crown jewel of the action camera fleet. Both cameras are built to handle the elements and still get amazing shots. But the HERO5 simply has stats on top of the ones it’s known for to extends its recording time and the ease of which you handle it.