Shopping blog postings

Shopping Postings - Page 1

Earliest: December 13, 2003Latest: October 4, 2020Total: 69
October 4, 2020

Clip-on Microphone

Sometimes you need a quality microphone for your iPhone. That?s why every iPhone videographer should have a clip-on microphone in their utility bag.

Getting quality audio is critical to any videographer game plan. The clip-on microphone can help get the best possible audio when the standard camera audio just won?t work.

Last month I purchased the Ultimate Lavalier Microphone for Bloggers and Vloggers Lapel Mic Clip-on Omnidirectional Condenser for iPhone on Amazon. This has come in handy several times when filming.

Five Things I Learned

  1. Super cheap $10 for 2 microphones. No excuse to get one for those just in case moments.
  2. This microphone has the TRRS audio jack which is supported in every iPhone that Apple has made. It also works on an iMac audio port.
  3. This means you can use an old iPhone as an alternative audio source for your videos. Have an old iPhone 5s? Why not put it to use?
  4. Sound quality is good. I tested against various audio clips and found it to be good.
  5. The nice thing is that you can put the microphone in places where the iPhone may not fit. This gives the videographer the flexibility to record audio from a speaker when the iPhone can?t easily be placed.
August 9, 2020

Magic Arm with Clamp

One of the cool camera accessories that I recently purchased was the Fomito 11 inch Inch Articulating Magic Arm + Super Clamp for Camera, LCD Monitor, LED Video Light. (Otherwise known as a Magic Arm) I have found this to be a really cool camera tool.

A magic arm is basically a tool that has a clamp on one end. and a tripod mounts on the other end.

I have found it serves two useful services:

  1. It gives you the power to extend your tripod by having having a second camera on the tripod.
  2. Mount a camera and then angle the camera any way that you want.

Tripod Extension

Magic Arm Church Desktop
Magic Arm on a tripod at Church
Magic Arm Church Mobile
Magic Arm on a tripod at Church

This camera tool allows me to control two cameras on a tripod.

Previously I had two cameras set up to record a church event on two tripods. This was a problem because it involved managing both tripods, it also means that at some point I would have to move two tripods so they wouldn't get in the way. It was also difficult to manage the content between the two tripods.

Now with the Magic Arm, I can better manage two cameras. One camera controls the wide shot and the other controls the close-up shots. Now it happens on one tripod.

Production Tip: Having a second camera is great for filler shots or with audio as some camera handle audio better than others.

Mount Anywhere

Magic Arm Tree Desktop
Watching a birds nest with the Magic Arm
Magic Arm Tree Mobile
Watching a birds nest with the Magic Arm

The nice thing about the magic arm is that you can mount it anyplace. Even in a tree. The grip is very strong and can hold an iPhone or a GoPro for hours. ( I wouldn?t put a DSLR on it. )

However, the magic arm isn?t safe for wet conditions as I suspect over time it could get rusty or the joint may not work well. If you are doing this for a rainy, damp environment. You'll probably better off with a Joby GorillaPod.

Magic Arm is Great to Have

I highly recommend getting one of these for your photography toolkit. It can come in handy for a variety of reasons.

There are different manufactors for the magic arm, I found the Fomito 11 inch Inch Articulating Magic Arm + Super Clamp for Camera, LCD Monitor, LED Video Light best for my needs. The Pluto Magic Arm with Clamp over at B&H looks good.

You never know when you need to have a second camera mount on a tripod. The magic arm is a great tool to have, just in case you need it.

December 8, 2019

Amazon Pricing

This weekend I was looking around Amazon - checking for deals on Lighting Cables. I wanted to get a couple of cables for my car and backpack.

Amazon Basic are great cables to have as secondary cables. They are cheap and reliable.

However, this weekend I noticed something interesting- check out these screenshots:

Amazon Select Size

Basically, I'll pay $23.99 for a 2-Pack. However, if I buy 2 1-packs it will cost $19.90.

Certainly pays to think about what your ordering - and pay attention to prices when you want multiple items.

I also notice that prices on mobile were a bit cheaper than shopping on desktop - interesting!

January 13, 2019

CShells 2019

Back on October 2006, I blogged about getting CShells storage containers. It was a quick blog of the advantages of getting CShells

Not Familar with CShells?

These are great containers to safely hold CDs or DVDs. They are strong lightweight covers that are more durable than a standard CD case.

They are great when giving someone CDs or DVDs as a gift.

Time to Order Again

I have been running low on my supply at home. As we have been giving CShell’s with CDs/DVDs out for various birthday events.

I was very happy to see that BuyCShells.com was still in business. I purchased 50 pack of classic clear for $18.60 plus $17.25 for a total of $35.85. That comes out to $1.39 a CShell.

A 100 would have cost $54.69, including ground shipping, which is $.55 a CShell. This would have been a better option - and probably the quantity that I would order for the next time.

Just A Good

I compared the case to the ones that I ordered in 2006 and they are the same quality. It's nice to know that 13-years later that they aren't cheap versions of a classic storage container.

November 4, 2018

Flickr Price Changes

Last Week Flickr announced some major changes with the Flickr service. Basically, the FREE plan is going to get limited. Here's the information from Flickr website:

Free accounts will soon be limited to 1,000 photos or videos. Flickr isn't Flickr without the contributions and participation of our free members, and we remain committed to a vibrant free offering.

If you are a free member with more than 1,000 photos or videos, you will have ample time to upgrade to Pro (for 30% off your first year) or download your photos and videos.*

Free members have until January 3, 2019, to upgrade to the Pro Plan. After that date, if your Free account has more than 1,000 photos you will not be able to add anything. On February 5, 2019, Flickr will start removing files.

Slight Problem For My Account

flickr Account

Currently I have 209,701 images in my Flickr account! This is using about 60% of my 1TB allowance.

I haven't decided if it's worth spending $49.99 to save 208,701 files. I did check out some of the other services such as iCloud and Google Drive and Flickr is at the right price point.

It's possible that I might purchase the Flickr Pro Plan just to buy some additional time to back up the files and find a good long-term solution.

My primary usage on Flickr is sharing daily photos that I take of my daughter. I have albums created each month to highlight her going to school every day.

Cloud Pricing

Some of the current cloud pricing.
August 6, 2017

Stop and Shop Self Checkout Belt

Today we did our weekly shopping at Stop and Shop in Framingham, and decided to use the self-checkout since the lines were smaller.

As part of the checkout procedure, you ring up the merchandise and then put it on the belt where it gets weighted to verify the item. The item then moves to the bagging area. You are not allowed to touch the product when it's on the verification belt.

We purchased several Kool-Aid small packets, and we noticed that several packets were going under the rollers in the bagging area.

We informed the cashier assistant and they told us that we could go get another one or she would take the item off our order. It seemed weird that she didn't attempt to retrieve the item. We opted to have the item removed from our order.

A few minutes later we were stopped because of a coupon error. While waiting for the self-service cashier, we looked at the checkout belt, and wondered if it could be moved.

Turns out it can be lifted, and it was easy to get the merchandise. I got it, and we rung the item back in.

Loading Area Map
Map of the Loading Area at the Self Checkout. Simply lift the area between the black belt and the loading area to retrieve items that might have fallen in.

Not sure why they don't know about lifting the bagging area belt. There were several other items that fell through, including a Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing envelope.

July 8, 2017

Monopod as a Tripod

One of the nice things about the Arespark Self-portrait Monopod is that it has a tripod mount on the bottom of it. I just happen to have a small tabletop tripod that I thought might be interesting to try out.

I wondered if it would work - would the mini table top stand be strong enough to hold the Arespark Self-portrait Monopod... and it does! Although not 100% stable, but good enough to keep an iPhone Plus camera steady.

Monopod Grass Photo

This is a very handy combination. If you need a tripod to keep a shot steady when you're going to be sitting for a long period of time. For example. I found this handy when filming a gymnastics routine.

The Arespark is at a perfect height when sitting down. I can use the Tripod combination to have a nice steady shot for a long period of time without having my hands tired.

Igadgitz

I purchased the "iGadgitz PT310 Mini Lightweight Table Top Stand Tripod and Grip Stabilizer for Digital Camera" for a recent Disney trip. It works great as a table mount tripod and as a camera stabilizer. Currently cost $15.99 on Amazon.com

This worked really well to take videos walking down Main Street USA. Also useful when you want to take night photos and need a stable shot. Travels well as it only weights 180 grams. Works really well with any camera type including DSLRs.

Arespark Self-portrait Monopod

This is an awesome Selfie Stick as it can extend to 50 inches. Perfect for any shot that you need an extended reach. This currently costs $17.99 on Amazon and certainly worth having in your collection.

I like using this when I need to get shots well above my head.

January 8, 2017

Disney/Amazon Shopping Ideas

Here's a quick list of eight things to stock up on for the trip to Disney World. So if you're on Amazon.com and looking for ideas on what to get before your trip, here's some things to think about.

I have found these to be useful things to purchase before a trip:

  • USB External Battery Charger - If you plan on using your phone for taking pictures and video, you'll need to charge up your device at some point during the day. Having a USB External Battery charger will extend your smartphone battery life. Note: many DLSR cameras can also get recharged using a USB device.
  • Microfiber Cleaner - Clean up your phone and DSLR screen. Makes sense to have a nice clean cloth for your trip.
  • SD Card Reader - If you have a DSLR camera, it's a good idea to backup your card at night. You can use a WD My Passport or an RAVPower Filehub. Download and backup the data on the SD card. An RAVPower Filehub useful when you want to post some of your quality photos to your favorite social media.
  • PURELL Hand Sanitizer - Travel Sized Jelly Wrap Portable Sanitizer Bottles are a great thing to add to any travel bag. The Jelly Wrap makes it easy to attach to any bag.
  • Portable Universal Wrap Electronics Accessories Travel Organizer - Keep all your cables and power chargers in one place. Sure you could use a ziplock bag, but with the travel organizer, you can label the cables so you know exactly what your bring. In addition, you'll know if you're missing any cables when you're packing up.
  • Portable Poncho - Buy a nice looking travel poncho just in case you need it.
  • Nylon Laundry Bag - You may have to do some laundry while on vacation. Don't be caught short going to the laundry area without a laundry bag! (Wash the bag with the laundry so you can bring the clean clothes to the room.)

What about a Wide Angle Lens?

One of the things I was considering purchasing was a Wide Angle lens for my iPhone so that I could take nice wide angle photos.

I decided not to get a lens because I found that Affinity Photo does a great job in stitching pictures. I simply take 3 or 4 pictures simultaneously and then stitch them together when I get back home.

In addition, I could always just use a Pano shot if I want to capture more of the photo. (Note: You don?t need to do a full range in a Pano shot. You can stop it at any point. The image won?t end up in the Pano folder on your phone, but you?ll still get a nice picture.

Winter Snow
Example of stitching multiple photos.

Apple iPhone 6s Plus Pano photo size is 11,668 x 3,884. My example created a 11,277 x 2,498, slightly smaller than a Pano, but the quality is very good compare to a typical Pano rendering.

I didn't want to have to carry around the extra lens and connect it whenever I wanted to use it. It's one less thing that I wanted to carry, and one less thing that I could lose.

December 11, 2016

Wrist Information Center.

In the 1980s there was a catalog parody of the LL Bean catalog. It was a book called "Items from Our Catalog" and featured a lot of weird things.

When I was in college, I took interest in one of the things called "Find-the-Function" Wrist Information Center. I photocopied the page and had it on my bulletin board in my dorm.

I don't recall the reason why I picked this item, of everything in the catalog. It was a pretty weird product.

A quick read of the product description, and all I could think about the Apple Watch. Here's a scan copy of the document, complete with tape and all...

Wrist Information Center2

You can find the "Items from Our Catalog" book on eBay and Use Bookstores, it makes for a funny read.

December 4, 2016

Waiting at Limited Supply Sales

Waiting for Toys R Us

I have some practical tips if you're ever in the case of having to wait for a store opening to buy some products. This is most common during Black Friday / Saturday. It can also occur when a store announces that they have stock of items in high demand.

Never know when it's Black Friday

Earlier this week Toys R Us announced that they had limited stock available of Hatchimals and NES Classic Edition. These are two of the hottest toys of the 2016 Shopping season. They would have available limited number of stock on December 4th, 2016.

Social Media spread the word about the new inventory, and everyone got word that Sunday was the day to get the products. Nobody knows if they would be available again in retail stores this Christmas season.

You could get Hatchimals and NES Classic Edition on eBay and Craigslist, but you would be paying a premium for them:

e Bay Deals
People were buying Hatchimals and NES Classic Edition and reselling on eBay and Craigslist at a high mark up.

Get Committed

When I heard of the opportunity of getting a Hatchimal, I really wanted to jump on the opportunity. I knew that there would be a huge line. I figured, that I I was going to go, I would get their super early to ensure that I would get my hands on a Hatchimal. The doors were scheduled to open at 8am.

I arrived at Toys R Us at 3:24 am and I was the 8th person in line. The first person arrived in line at 7:30 pm.

I took notes on what people brought, and what seemed to work while waiting for the doors to open 4 hours later:

Essential Items to Bring

Note, most of these focus on the cold weather because, in New England, that usually when these limited supply sales occur.

  • Folding Chair - Something comfortable to sit on. If you don't have a chair, some people resorted to flipping over a shopping cart and sat on that.
  • Blanket - Keep warm!
  • Umbrella, Hat, Gloves - The Touch Screen Gloves are very useful.
  • USB Charger - Useful if you have any electronic devices.
  • Book or other Entertainment item - Keep yourself busy while waiting. Some people brought books.
  • Smart Phone - One person left his phone at home and really regretted it.

Additional tips

  • Keep Drinks and Food to a minimum. You don't want to leave to go to the bathroom.
  • Bring a Buddy, and you can tag team between waiting in line and warming up in the car.
  • Listen to the information provided by the store employees. You may want to share some information later on.
  • Communicate with Social Media. Find out what the lines are at other locations.
  • Talk to people around you, as you may learn something interesting about the sale or other items for sale.
  • Bring an extra chair or blanket. You may help someone that didn't come prepared.