An Affordable Way To Get Your RPAS Pilot Certification – Advanced Operations In Canada

I just got my RPAS pilot certification in advanced operations and let me tell you that the process isn’t overly complicated but, the knowledge required is extensive and the costs associated can quickly get out of hand. I am writing this blog hoping to help anyone get through the process successfully at a low cost. There are two components to getting the license- the Transport Canada (TC) small advanced exam and a flight review. You will need to study for the exam and find a TC accredited flight reviewer. I gave myself 4 weeks to go through the process and wanted to spend the least amount of money possible studying for the exam. Disclaimer: I am not affiliated in any form to the apps and services offered in this blog. I just want to share how I got my license at a low cost.

TC Small Advanced Exam – $120 study material + $10 test.

The online exam is 60 minutes and consists of 50 questions. The curriculum is very difficult and extensive. A majority if the material pertains to airplane & helicopter pilots therefore, it is not relevant to drone operators. For this reason, you will need some type of study material as you won’t have time to search for every answer on the test.

Study Material

I first looked into drone schools and quickly discovered that it is a very lucrative business. There are a lot of package options and some can quickly cost over $1000 for just the study material. I decided to research apps and self-study guides instead. I settled on an IOS app called Flight Ready. The cost is $120 cdn for the basic and advanced courses, offering over 15 hours of study material, 5 simulated Transport Canada exams, and over 550 study questions. The app is constantly updated and can be used on your phone while being offline. I ended up with a very solid base knowledge after spending 20 hours on the app. I highly recommend this app instead of another expensive online course (covers 80% of the TC test).

TC Exam

The exam is hard- I was prepared but failed the first time around. TC is well aware of the low success rate therefore, you have the option to try again 24 hours later. So don’t feel bad if you don’t succeed at first. I am not allowed to give you any specific questions but approximately 70% of them were related to RPAS regulations, airfoils, aerodynamics of wings, motors, airspace & air communication, weather fronts, and thunderstorms. The other ~30% seemed quite random.

Here are some tips for the exam:

  1. Don’t waste any time on the questions you don’t know. You can come back to them at any time during the exam, so quickly pass to the next one. I ran out of time the on my first try…
  2. Refer to your notes. Write as many notes as you can while studying and know where to look to find answers. It will be super useful once you go back on those hard questions.
  3. Have the regulation page open in your browser. It is another useful reference tool.

The Flight Review – $200 Flight Review + $25 License.

You will need to do your research to find a flight reviewer near you. There are not a whole lot of options out there and many charge a minimum of $200. This test is relevant to your drone operation and will take about 1 hour. I suggest Jason at BCUAV for a flight review on Vancouver Island, BC. I had a very positive experience with Jason. He is very professional and provides the right material for you to succeed at no additional cost. Beware that some drone schools and flight reviewers will ask you to take a preparation course and a radio course which cost a pretty penny, but they are not necessary. Of course feel free to take them if you want but, know that you won’t gain much more info than what I am about to share with you.

I suggest investing in the Drone Pilot app – $50. This app will help you plan & pass your review and will be useful for future flights. The app hs a lot to offer such as flight plans, procedure lists, airspace, NOTAM, and more. It is customizable and constantly upgrading into better versions.

What You Need To Know For The Flight Review

  1. Be a competent drone operator. Go out with your drone and practice flying it doing square patterns and figure eights both facing you and way. Practice your manual take off and landing.
  2. Know your drone. Read the manual and figure out the max flight time, max speed, max altitude, max range, return to home RTH and/or any type of fail safe functions, and any other limitations.
  3. Write operation procedures for fly away, lost link, incident and accident situations.
  4. Know the emergency numbers. The main one to know is the aviation emergency number 1-877-992-6853.
  5. Write a flight plan. Look at the nearest air space, find their classes, their working frequencies and emergency numbers. Look at the NOTAM and write down any pertinent information. Check the weather forecast for you flight time and make plans accordingly. Scout the location online before and note any hazards.
  6. Brief your staff before you fly. Brief your visual observer and other staff involved in the mission. Lay out roles, safety procedures, and any other considerations for your flight plan.

Operation Procedure Example

Horizontal Fly Away
-First attempt to reconnect the controller to the aircraft by moving closer, re-starting the control unit, and/or re-starting your control software.
-Wait to see if the Fail Safe RTH function is activated. It is an automatic function that will get triggered after 3 seconds of losing the link with the control unit. The drone will automatically return home using the RTH function data entered. The drone will hover for 10 seconds waiting for the pilot’s instructions if the control unit re-establishes contact with thedrone. The pilot needs to immediately bring back the drone for analysis and inspection. The incident needs to be recorded as a near miss or an incident.
-Initiate the crash stop procedure if there is no immediate risk or danger. Stopping the motor in air will require both control unit sticks to be pushed to the bottom inner or outer corners and held. Another way to initiate this function is to push the left stick down and hold. Make sure to warn visual observers and bystanders.
-Call the aviation emergency number 1-877-992-6853 if there is any threat to aviation or public safety.
-Determine or estimate the drone altitude, direction, heading, speed and range. The Mavic Air has a maximum battery life when flying of 21 minutes. The maximum speed is 8 m/s (28.8 km/h or15.5 knots) in P mode and 19 m/s (68.4 km/h or 36.9 knots) in S mode. The estimated maximum distance with a full battery is 9.6 km (5.18 nautical miles) in P mode and 22.8 km (12.3 nautical miles) in S mode.
-Call aerodromes if there is a risk to fly in restricted air space. Have at the ready your name, contact info, description of aircraft, your distance from the aerodrome, the direction and heading of the drone, estimated maximum range left, speed, and altitude.
-Retrieve the drone for analysis and inspection. Write an incident report and TC document or near miss report.

All in all, it took me 3 weeks to study for and pass the exam (two attempts). My total cost was $415 all in. Hopefully the information in this blog will help you succeed as well!

Photo Management. My personal workflow for beginners.

Are you like many people out there who enjoy taking photos? Some of you might be new to photography and find yourself in a very common situation where you have way too many images on your camera or phone. The next logical step is to put them on a computer, the cloud, or somewhere else but you are not too sure how… well let me help you by explaining my personal photo management workflow.

I take thousands of photos a year and have developed a system to manage and safely store them. It took a while to find and buy the right gear, so I am hoping that I can save you some time and money.

First thing you will need is a photo software program for you computer. There are a lot of options on the market that offer a free trial. So fear not, you will find one that works for your wallet and level of knowledge. Why a photography software program? Well, they will help you visualize, manage, edit, and erase your images. I personally use Adobe Lightroom Classic. It has been my favorite and primary platform for a decade. Here are a few options for you:

  • Mac OS Photos: Free with your Mac operating system. Good file management but very limited editing capability. The positive is that you can add plugins for editing.
  • Adobe Lightroom Classic: Part of the the photography plan. It includes Lightroom, Lightroom Classic, Photoshop, Cloud storage and more. Subscription is $10 US/ month.
  • Luminar 4: An excellent photo management and editing platform. A one time purchase!
  • Capture One: Professional grade software for file management and editing. This is a solid software program at a premium price.
  • Picktorial: Affordable and is an advanced file management and editing software program for Mac users. It won’t break the bank and will work like a charm.

At this stage you will need to create a folder structure that make sense for you. I personally have a primary folder for the year, then sub folders for different events. I will have an ongoing “Best of” images for personal use throughout the year.

The next step is to backup your photos so that if your hard drive on your computer breaks down, you’ll have a backup of all of your favorite and important images. There are two ways to do this- you can buy and use a external hard drive or store your photos on the cloud. I personally do both, that way I have multiple copies of my photos. The Adobe photography plan offers cloud space with the subscription. There are also a lot of free and paid options out there, just make sure to use a reliable one as the company might suddenly go out of business and leave you with a short amount of time to transfer your photos somewhere else.

The last stage is to archive your photos. Now what is the difference between backing up and archiving photos?

  • Backing up photos is an ongoing process. I usually shoot lots of images and put them in a folder on my computer for editing and deleting. Occasionally, I don’t have the time to do it all and have to leave the folder alone for a bit. I will also introduce more photos and folders throughout the year. I backup those folders as I go on my devices and leave them on my computer for future use until the end of the year. That way if something goes wrong, I’ll have a copy of them. The down side is I have more files that I need as I haven’t deleted all of the bad ones and it takes way more room that it should.
  • Archiving photos is the final backup at the end of the year. I do this when I know I am done editing and deleting most of the images I imported to my computer. I will then have a well trimmed collection of images for the year. This is when I copy my year onto my devices for the last time. I will overwrite the folder as the one from my computer only has the files I want to keep and I no longer need the previous larger ongoing backups. This allows me to have a reasonable size of photo folders on my external hard drives. I can always bring back a folder or some images to my computer if I need to do more work.

Here’s a list of my devices.

  • NAS Qnap T451+: A network attached storage unit. This unit is my own personal cloud. It has room for 4 hard drives and can run different RAID combinations. This is the perfect solution for a small business with multiple users. It can work at home for the family as well. I use this unit for ongoing backups and archiving.
  • Western Digital My Book: A simple but efficient hard drive. I use this one for ongoing backups and archiving.
  • LaCie Rugged Portable Hard Drive: A solid unit that can run RAID 0 and 1. Mine has a Thunderbolt 2 and transfers files at a very good speed. I can edit 4K video from it. I use this unit when I am on the go for immediate backups. I don’t keep files long-term on it.

I hope this will help you create an organized and efficient backup and file management system.

Godox S2 Bracket – Bowens Mount Review

The Godox S2 bracket for Bowens mount is a must have if you want to expand your light modifier capabilities. It will work with almost any Speedlite and the full Godox light lineup that don’t already have Bowens mount.

The quality is excellent and it is well built. It hold a Speedlite V860 II-S perfectly and securely. I have tried to dislodge the flash once secured in the S2 and doesn’t matter how hard I shook the unit it did not budge. It mount well on the light modifier but must say that there is a little play. But once again it look like it would take a lot to break to dismount the bracket. There is a another hole for an umbrella but you’ll need another screw to hold it in place.

The S2 cost around $30 and weight 680 g. It will fit the Godox AD 400 Pro, AD 200 Pro, V1 Round Head Speedlite, and all of the Godox Speedlite line up. The website mention that it is possible to fit 2 TT 350. The S2 version is smaller than the S1 and fit a wide range of light. I highly suggest this unit if you are in the market for a Bownes mount bracket.

PerGear :

You can buy the S2 bracket here :

Luminar Flex – 6 Reasons Why You Should Buy

Use promo code MANUEL at check out for a discount

  1. Compatible and non destructive – 1:24
  2. Customization – 4:15
  3. AI capability – 5:50
  4. Lots of filters – 7:19
  5. Layer base environment – 8:22
  6. Image cleaning capability – 9:44

How To Shoot Tethered With The a7III In Lightroom Classic CC.

Lightroom Classic CC have been my go to platform for years now. I have done commercial tethered work with my Canon setup in the past without any issues. But I did find myself a little at lost the first time I tried to shoot tethered with my a7III. It seems like the two didn’t want to communicate or at least find one another… So I did some research and found a solution that involve downloading the free Imaging Edge Software. Let me take you step by step.

  1. Get the Imaging Edge software from the Sony a7III page.
  2. Go to Menu/Setup 4 on the a7III and set to USB Connection to PC Remote.
  3. Create a new folder for the photos and make sure it is empty.
  4. Double check that no software is using the a7III. Open Imaging Edge and connect and power on the a7III to the computer using the cable provided to charge the camera.
  5. Once connected to the Remote software go to the menu Remote/setting and click Display Preview with the selected program. Choose Lightroom Classic. It will prevent the Viewer software to open every time you take a photo.
  6. Then go to Remote/Save Folder and choose the folder you created.
  7. Open Lightroom Classic CC and go to File/Auto Import. Click Enable Auto Import. Choose the folder you created as the watch folder and destination folder. Add Metadata if desired.

That’s it you should now be able to see your images you take in Lightroom. The Remote software will be the one to use for taking the images and Lightroom will be the one to review and edit. Hopefully this will save you time!

5. Remote/setting and click Display preview with the selected program.
7. Open Lightroom and go to File/Auto Import.

Want To Use Your Canon Speedlite With The Sony a7III? Take A Look How!

You might be in the same situation as me and migrated from a Canon DSLR to a Sony mirrorless camera. I personally decided to make the move because I could still use some and my Canon equipment and did not have to worry about buying thousands of $$$ of brand new gear. So I have been slowly buying native lenses and lighting equipment. I also found a way to keep using my working horse Canon 580 EXII Speedlite using Godox products. I would like to share my setup with you.

First I purchased a Godox XPro-S TTL wireless trigger. This allows me to control several units at the same time via a 2.4G signal when I mount it to my Sony a7III. I want to mention that this combo works fine and the Xpro-S is compatible with the a7III, Godox does not advertise this on their website… The other piece of equipment needed is a receiver like the Godox X1R-C for the Canon Speedlite. (X1 R for receiver – C for Canon). Now I have a trigger that can communicate with my Canon speedlite. I can change anything from the modes to the zoom range straight from the XPro-S trigger mounted on my a7III. The downside is the Canon Speedlite has to be used as a slave. If you are happy with that you can still use your older Speedlite from your older setup for around $50 cdn. Keep in mind that I payed close to $500 cdn when I purchased my 580 EXII years ago.

I also purchased a Godox V860II-S speedlite that can be mounted on my Sony a7III or used as a slave if I trigger it using the XPro-S. It is very easy and affordable to setup a Godox lighting environment. I am very pleased so far and my experience has been very smooth. I highly suggest Godox products if your are in the market for solid lighting equipment without having to break the bank!

Godox XPro-S Review- 3 Ways To Use The Trigger

Take a look at all of the specs on the Godox official website.

The Godox XPro-S is a well built and easy to navigate trigger. There’s a lot you can do with it and it can command many flashes and modelling lights at the same time. There are 16 groups and 32 channels to setup your lights and it can control them up to 100 meters away. It supports all flash modes- M, TTL, Multi. This unit is light and a must have to setup a great Godox environment. Take a look at my current Godox setup here. I highly suggest this $80 cdn trigger for anyone looking to expand their lighting capabilities.

Manfrotto XPro A4 Fluid Monopod Review

The Manfrotto XPro A4 Fluid Monopod with fluid tech base is a solid piece of equipment. It is tall, sturdy, and pans very smoothly. It is on the pricier end but worth every penny in my opinion. I used it for shooting wildlife and with my flash as a light on a stick. I am also looking forward to bringing it on more trips and commercial shoots in the near future.

Let’s take a look at the specs. Feel free to take a look at the Manfrotto website for more details.

  • Weight – 1200 g or 42.3 oz
  • Min height – 68 cm or 26.7 in
  • Max height – 192 cm or 75.5 in
  • Safety payload – 8 kg or 17.64 lbs
  • Top attachment – 3/8″ and 1/4″
  • Front tilt – 19 deg to -19 deg

The fluid tech base is a nice addition to this kit. It provides a very controlled way to tilt the monopod and can be removed if desired. I placed my Canon 7d with the Canon 100-400 L lens on it as a test to see if the monopod would bend when using it horizontally fully extended. There was no give and it can be used to get different perspectives safely.

I highly suggest the Manfrotto XPro 4A if you are in the market for a solid monopod.

Sony a7III, ILCE-7M3, Firmware Version 3.01. What’s New??

Sony step up their game with the firmware update version 3.0. with great features like real-time Eye AF for animals and time lapse Interval Shooting function. Unfortunately a lot of users had issues with this update. I personally did not have any problems and enjoyed the new features. In any case Sony came out with a revised 3.01. a more stable version and there is no new features with the 3.01 update according the Sony website. So you can click on this link if you wish to get the new update.

Let’s have a look at the improvements from version 3.00 (04-11-2019) and 3.01

  • Adds real-time Eye AF for animals
    • It is not possible to detect human and animal eyes simultaneously
    • Eye detection may not be possible and depends on the environment, animal type, and movement of the animal
  • Allows you to operate the real-time EYE AF by half-pressing the shutter button or by pressing the AF-ON button
  • Adds the Interval Shooting function
  • Allows operation with the wireless remote commander RMT-P1BT (sold separately)
  • Allows you to assign the [MENU] to a custom key
  • Allows [MENU] tab operation with the Fn button
  • Improves the overall stability of the camera

Luminar 3.1 Composite

I was looking forward to try the new Luminar version 3.1. The improved Accent AI Filter 2.0. and the performance upgrade was on top of my list to test. I did a composite combining 3 images and let me know that everything went smooth without a glitch. The software responded well and fast while working with a few adjustment and image layers. I created a quick time lapse tutorial video on how I created the image.

Interested in Luminar 3.1

The Update Deal will be available April 25 through May 14.
• Luminar 3.1 can be purchased for US$60 (US$50 with coupon code: MANUEL) instead of US$70
• Luminar 3.1 + Photography 101 video course by SLR lounge (worth US$99) bundle can be purchased for US$69 (US$59 with coupon code: MANUEL) instead of US$169
• Luminar 3.1 + Aurora HDR (worth US$99) + Photography 101 video course by SLR lounge (worth US$99) bundle can be purchased for US$129 (US$119 with coupon code: MANUEL) instead of US$268

Picktorial 4 – What’s New?

I was excited to try the Picktorial 4 since I received an email a few weeks ago letting me know it was in the making. I really enjoyed working on some images in the previous version and was impressed with the Digital Asset Management / library and the editing capabilities with some local adjustments. It was at time and still is a solid alternative to Lightroom. This is why I was looking forward to see what type of improvement I could find in Picktorial 4.

There a new pricing model offering 4 different options.

  1. It’s FREE! Well you won’t have access to all of the features…
  2. Pay $69.99 to get the full version. You’ll only get the maintenance updates.
  3. Subscribe to an annual Premium Plan for $4.99/month. You’ll get full access to version 4 maintenance updates and upgrades.
  4. Pay $9.99 monthly and cancel anytime. You’ll get the same advantage as the Premium Plan without the commitment.

I tested version 4.0.0 and 4.0.3 and made a video base on the 4.0.3 version. First let’s say that the software is fast and responsive. There will be some updates in the near future to iron out the bugs. All and all version 4.0.3 is working great and worth trying if you haven’t already.

One area that stands out right away is the work on the library. It is now possible to choose a square or regular thumbnails preview. The customization is getting better. The searching engine is refined and give you a world of possibilities to find specific images. The experience of creating folders, moving images and searching for them is up to par or above the competition.

Batch processing have been introduce for Metadata and Adjustments. It is now possible to enter a caption to hundred of photos in just a few steps. Same thing apply to adjustments made to images. They can now be copy and paste in Batch.

An Assistant Viewer Split Screen options have been added. Just split the screen when looking or editing images. It will allow you to take a close up view of your local adjustments as well as a global fit to screen preview of your image.

I would recommend Picktorial 4 to anyone looking for a fresh alternative to Lightroom or Apple Photos. Give it a try it is FREE!!

Photolemur Holiday Deal – A Great Last Minute Gift!

Main Offer: ( for every one who is not the Photolemur user yet )
Photolemur family license ($55)
Three styles + Holiday style ($48)
Cityscape photography eBook ($99)
Coupon for Picaboo printed Christmas cards with your own photos ($50)
Pixbuf Pro 1 Year subscription ($48)
500px pro 3 months subscription ($119)
Total worth – 419 $
Price for the Holidays – 49 $!! 89%OFF

Upgrade Offer: ( for users, who own v2 and want to upgrade )
Photolemur upgrade license ($15)
Three styles + Holiday style ($48)
Coupon for Picaboo printed Christmas cards with your own photos ($50)
Pixbuf Pro 1 Year subscription ($48)
500px pro 3 months subscription ($119)
Total worth – 281$
Price for the Holidays – 19$!! 93%OFF

Luminar 3 – Library, Editing, A Solid Lightroom Competitor!

Use Coupon Code: MANUEL and save $10

Luminar 3 offers the well anticipated library!  A way to sort, rate, edit, and export your photos for a one time purchase.  Forget the subscription model and take advantage of one of the best softwares on the market. 

Any Lightroom user will be able to navigate and immediately take advantage of the library.  The interface is similar and offers most of the features found in the Adobe counterpart.  Luminar 3 works with catalog, create a new one, or it works with multiple catalogs at once.  Only time will tell how big your catalogue size will grow after editing many images.  Changes made to folders will be reflected on the main folder on the hard drive. 

The library is a great environment where you can organize your images in many ways.  Use flags, ratings and color labels to manage your photos.  It is possible to choose several images to give them ratings and color labels.  The process is simple and flawless.  Another possibility is to create an album.  Group some of your favorite images or some you will work on in the future.  Send the images that don’t make the cut to the trash.  You’ll have another chance to go have a look in the trash file before you say goodbye for good.  

Editing hasn’t changed a whole lot since the last update in late 2018.  Skylum introduced the AI Sky Enhancer filter among other changes.  You can still use Luminar as a plugin.  A version without the library will open and let you work with the filters before sending the image back to the software it came from.  There will be other upgrades in performance sometime in early 2019.  Other than that, you’ll get the same solid editing platform!

Luminar 3 – Pre-Order Now And Save Lot’s! Coming Dec.18.

Use Coupon Code: MANUEL and save $10

SPECIAL OFFER: Luminar 2018 AI Sky Enhancer + FREE Luminar 3 with Libraries

It’s your double win! Get Luminar 2018 with the all-new AI Sky Enhancer now and update to Luminar 3 with Libraries for FREE. Plus, you get a bunch of exclusive extras worth US$222!

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Hurry to get your hands on a free eBook by Rocky Nook! Master your techniques, find inspiration, and hone your craft in order to create best-looking images!

4) Daniel Kordan: Awesome Landscapes Tutorial (US$80 value)

Need to brush up your skills? We’ve got you covered. Watch extensive tutorials by Daniel Kordan and create truly jaw-dropping landscape images!

5) Manfrotto, Gitzo, Joby or Lowepro: US$20 Gift card with US$120 purchase (US$20 value) ​Looking for extreme savings on your favorite gear? Save US$20 on any purchase over US$120 from our friends at the Vitec Group.

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Sony A7III – Leaving Canon for Sony!

Well it was a hard decision but I decided to migrate from Canon to Sony. I received a Sony A7III mirror less camera early fall 2018 and let me tell you that I am very pleased so far.  I am still using my full frame Canon lenses at the moment, thanks to the few adapters options available.  So I decided to write about my setup in case you are looking to do the same.

Lens adapter.  There is a few options on the market for Canon users.  I personally purchased a Sigma MC-11 EF mount converter.  It cost me around $300 Canadian for the adapter.  There is more options on the market like the Metabones around $600 Canadian or the cheaper Fotodiox converter.  In any case the Sigma version works great for me and I would recommend the investment if you are looking to buy some time with your Canon lenses. 

Batteries.  The new Sony NPFZ100 battery is very good compare to his predecessor the NPFW50.  It look like they improve the capacity quite a bit.  I personally used my camera to film an event 2 days after I got it and I did not run out of power.  I probably film about 2 hours of footage on a single battery.  I was looking to buy another battery or some third party and quickly changed my mind after looking at the price tag.  Instead I bought a dummy battery and a PowerBank from Anker.  This give me roughly the equivalent of 5 batteries for $50 Cdn!  Review my setup here.

Flash.  Godox is a well trusted affordable flash company.  They produce speedlite for a wide range of camera body including the Sony lineup.  The V860 II-S is one of their most powerful option and only cost $225 cdn.  The V means that the flash comes with a powerful Li-ion rechargeable battery.  The S means it’s for Sony camera and yes it will work with the A7III.  Read about the V860 II-S here.

Monitor. I use the well price 4K Feelworld F6 monitor.  I have been very impressed with how light, bright and well built is the unit.  The best part is you wont break the bank as the monitor is just $250 cdn.  It is pack with features like the Zebra, focus assist and guide lines.  Feelworld my first impression.

Cage.  I went ahead and purchased a SmallRig cage for my A7III.  I will be filming quite a bit with it and wanted to have a comfortable setup.  I really like the built and how I can handle the camera and all of it’s accessories.  More details about the rig here.

Artlist – Get 2 Extra Months With One Year Subscription!

Are you are looking for a good, affordable source of music for your videos?  Well search no more because Artlist is the solution for you!  $199 US for a one year subscription and two extra months if you use this link!!

I decided last year to look for some music I could use on my commercial videos and my Youtube channel.  I have been creating my own music for some time but never had the time to create new songs to fit a project with a tight deadline.  So it was time to dig into Google and look for a another solution.  I found several blogs and reviews and it looked like Artlist and Soundstripe were the best two options in my price range.  After listening and searching both sites I decided to go with Artlist.

The best part about Artlist is that you can use songs downloaded with a valid license on any type of tv/video projects: personal, commercial, Youtube, you name it.  The license can be used indefinitely.  So there you have it, download a song and use it as much as you want for as long as you want!

They have lots of songs, artists, and styles to choose from and there is new music every week.  Looking for a genre of music is easy.  You can choose the style of mood,  video theme,  genre,  instrument or look at other people’s playlists and featured artists in the spotlight category.  Once you find a song you like you can add it to your favorites list and then place the album or artist in your folder and download it.  Artlist will send you an email with download links with different format options.

I decided to subscribe and work with Artlist and I don’t regret my choice at all.  The songs are high quality and the artists are fantastic.  I looked into other companies but I couldn’t find the quality, quantity, or flexibility at this price range.  I hope this information helped answer your questions about Artlist!

A7III Firmware Update 2.0 – What’s New?

Sony lunched a new firmware update for some of their mirrorless camera including the A7III (ILCE-7M3) on the 10/10/2018.  There has been a few very interesting changes worth writing about.  The first thing that comes in mind is the Focus areas that were previously greyed out when using an adapter, like a Sigma MC-11, are now available.  You can use your Canon lenses and have all of the AF options available! 

The update is not to hard to install.  Make sure to have a full battery, download the software and follow the online instructions from the Sony website.  Look online if you have any issues there is lot’s of Youtube videos on how to install the update.

Benefits and Improvements from the latest update

  • Support of “SEL400F28GM”and “SEL24F14GM”
    • Optimization of the optical image stabilization performance, and addition of a new image stabilization mode of the lens (Mode 3)(Only “SEL400F28GM”).
    • Addition of a Function Ring(Lens) to the menu.
      Note: For the SEL400F28GM lens, the APS-C S35/Full Frame Sel. setting is assignable to the Function Ring in addition to Power Focus.
    • Addition of [Aperture Drive in AF] setting in the menu.
      *Using the lens “SEL400F28GM” or “SEL24F14GM”, when [Silent priority] is selected, the sound emitted by the aperture drive will be reduced. This is useful in shooting conditions where camera.
      noise should be kept to a minimum. Note that Auto Focus may become slower when [Silent priority] is selected.
  • New features:
    • [AF Track Sens] can be assigned to a custom key.
    • When used with the LA-EA3 mount adaptor, all focus areas are supported.
      Note : Focus Area options added : Zone, Expand Flexible Spot, and Lock-on AF.
      Bracket shooting is available during silent shooting when [File Format] is set to [RAW] or [RAW & JPEG] and [RAW File Type] is set to [Uncompressed].
  • Other improvements:
    • Improvement of the performance and the overall stability of the camera.
    • Better reproduction of the gradation of RAW pictures.
      Note: Imaging Edge software needs to be updated to benefit from the improvement in the RAW processing.
    • When shooting with a flash in an environment with flickering light sources, the stability of the exposure is improved.
    • Improvement of managing continuously shot images as a group.
      Please refer to the HelpGuide for updated function usage.

Previous Benefits and Improvements

The following benefits and improvements are also included in this update

  • Resolves a “blinking pixels” phenomenon at the bottom edge of the image during XAVC S 4K (PAL 25p) recording (depending on the combination of camera settings)
  • Resolves an issue where the touch panel could occasionally become unresponsive
  • Improves the overall stability of the camera

Skylum Black Friday Sale!! Luminar, Aurora HDR, Photolemur.

It is the time of the year where you can get some amazing deals on photography gear and editing software.  Skylum is a great editing software company who produced Luminar, Aurora HDR and Photolemur.  Click on the banner if you are interested to take advantage of the great deals.

Luminar 3 is coming and there will be a free update for their brand new library sometime in December.  I personally use Luminar as a plugin with Lightroom CC Classic.  The feature and filters make my images pop so much.  I highly suggest that you take a look at this video on the new Sky Enhancer AI Filter.

Luminar Black Friday - 728x90

Aurora HDR have been my editor of choice for all of my HDR images.  The software is pack with filters and you do the minor adjustments or go the long run and tailor your photo straight in the application.

Aurora Black Friday - 728x90

Photolemur 3 is a great one click AI wonder for those who want to spend less time editing and more time shooting.  It works as a plugin for most software or as a stand alone app.  Great little investment!

Godox V860 II-S. 5 Compatibility tips for the A7III

The Godox V860 II-S flash is compatible with the Sony A7III mirroless camera.  There is some minor issues that I have found and so far I was able to work my way around.

1 – Compatibility with the A7III
2 – Shutter Speed
3 – Flash menu compatibility
4 – AF assist beam
5 – Issue with live view display brightness

  1. The flash is compatible with the A7III for the most part.  This will lead to the next few points…
  2. The shutter speed is limited to 1/250 sec. when the flash is power on.  To change that you’ll need to use the high shutter speed mode on the flash.  Then you’ll be able to reach 1/8000 sec.
  3. The options in the Flash Menu on the A7III are working for the most part.  Two of the flash mode options are greyed out.  Other than that the flash exposure compensation seems to work on the camera and the flash independently.  Meaning that you can setup the camera at +2 stops or the flash at +2 stops.  Then you’ll have +2 more stops of light for your image.  Now if you choose +2 in the camera and the flash it seems to add the two and create a +4 stops of light.  So it look like you can add the two…
  4. The AF assist beam feature on the Godox V860 II-S is not compatible on the A7III…  The feature is suppose to fire a quick pre-blast of light to help to camera focus in low light situation.  I haven’t seen any pre-flash in my test…
  5. One major issue is with the live view display when the flash is power on.  The A7III have an option to have the Setting Effect On or Off.  When On the live view will show you the changes made with the settings on the screen, changing the brightness of the scene.  When Off, the brightness stays the same and there is no changes to the live view when changing settings.  The problem occurs when the Setting Effect is On and the flash is power on.  The setting is then switch to Off and there is no way to see the changes made to the exposure, which quickly become a problem when using the flash as a fill flash.  The solution is to go to Custom Key and set Shot. Result Preview to one of your button.  This feature brings back the Setting Effect On when activated.  That way you can now see the changes made to the exposure of your scene with your flash turn On!

So far those are the issues that I have found.  I hope that there will be a firmware update for the Godox flash at some point soon.  It seems that the Sony A7III firmware 2.0 did not fix any of those issues…  I will add to the list if I find more issues.

Godox V860 II S Overview

Are you looking for an affordable flash for your brand new a7III?  Well don’t look any further because I might just have the flash for you!  I recently purchased a Godox V860 II-S on camera flash for my a7III and let me tell you that I am very pleased so far.  It cost a total of $225 cdn and it is a fraction of the price than the equivalent Sony top of the line flash.  Powerful, well design and easy to use, this flash is definitely a must for my kit.

The V860 II-S is made for Sony camera, S for Sony, C for Canon, N for Nikon, etc.  The V means that it comes with a Li-ion battery instead of the TT version who use AA batteries.  The big advantage of using the Lithium battery is the recycle time of 1.5 sec at max power vs 2.6 sec with best AA on the market.  Also you’ll be able to shoot over 600 bursts vs 230 with AA.

The flash is pack with features and modes that you would expect from the big brands.  TTL, Manual, and Multi Strobe.  It can be use as a master or a slave if you have more than one or use a transceiver.  The features includes flash exposure compensation, flash exposure lock, 1/8000 sec. high speed sync, second curtain sync, just to name a few.  It is very powerful with a guide number of 60m or 190ft and covers a 20-200mm range.

So far I feel like this unit is as well built as my Canon Speedlite 580 EXII.  Time will tell if it is the case as my Canon flash is suited for a multitude of weather and never had any issues no matter what type of scenario I found myself into.  All and all I think this is a very good purchase for $225.

Stay tune for my future review on the V860 II-S.  The next step for me is using this flash in many environment and occasion as possible to give you a solid review!

Sony A7III – Cheap Power Bank Setup That Last Hours!

The next generation battery for Sony mirrorless cameras is known to be better and more reliable.  The NP-FZ100 battery is a major upgrade from the NP-FZ50 model.  Most photographers and videographers will no longer need to carry half a dozen batteries in their bag anymore.  The only unfortunate part is that the NP-FZ100 costs about $120 and there are not many third party brand options on the market yet.  I did some research when I was waiting for my A7III to be delivered and only found options north of $100…  There are now a few more options on the market and the prices are slowly going down, but I needed a more affordable option now.  I came across one photographer who uses power banks instead of batteries.  It looked like I could get more power for way less money, so I decided to invest in this setup and let me tell you- I don’t regret it!

First, let me run you through what you need and the cost for the whole setup.  I purchased a Anker PowerCore 13 000 battery for $41.99 (CDN),  a Andoer A7III dummy battery $51.99 (CDN),  a SmallRig Switching Plate 1598 $10.99 (CDN),  a cold shoe mount $4 (CDN),  and some velcro $7 (CDN).  The whole setup cost me $116 (CDN)- $4 cheaper than a new Sony NP-FZ100!  The kicker is the Anker PowerCore 13 000 provides me with 13 000 mAh of power compare to the NP-FZ100 – 2280 mAh.  So that’s about 5 times the power for more or less the same price!

The video shows how to setup it up and what it looks like once mounted on my SmallRig A7III cage.  I will say that I don’t even notice the battery pack and I can film for a few hours worry free.  I usually use this setup for video or gigs that don’t require me to be mobile a whole lot.  I work with the the normal battery when I shoot outside.  The best part is that I can recharge my NP-FZ100 battery a few times via USB to the camera with the Anker PowerCore 13 000 if I don’t use it to directly power with the dummy battery.  I did a few overnight gigs where I didn’t have access to power and the Anker power bank was  enough to keep my A7III and Feelworld F6 monitor going the entire trip.

I highly suggest you look into this affordable setup as it might save you from running out of power at an unfortunate time.

Luminar 2018 AI Sky Enhancer – Quick Look And Review

I was very curious about the new AI sky enhancer filter in the updated version of Luminar 2018.  Most of my time editing landscape and lifestyle photos is spent making sure the sky looks great.  Could the new filter can save me some time?  Well I tested it and in most case it can save me some time but it is not perfect yet.

The filter works best with clouds and blue sky or a well overcast sky.  The results on sunset and sunrise images is decent but could be a little more vibrant and less dark.  The algorithm for the blue hour need some work.  By the look of things the filter darken and add saturation to the blue, orange, yellow and red cast, add some contrast and play with the highlight of the clouds.  There is a gradient or mask that is well apply to the sky portion of the image.   I will say this filter is a good starting point and combine with the other filters will create some fantastic images.

These are the best type of images to use with the filter.

The filter did not perform all that well with these images.

Luminar Update – AI Sky Enhancement Filter.

Skylum is releasing a new version of Luminar on November 1st. The update will include the new AI sky enhancement filter at will be free for current 2018 Luminar users.

You can expect to see changes to any type of skies found in your images. Add depth, definition and details. Just adjust the slider to the desired effect! At least it’s been the case for the previous AI filters.

So I hope you are as curious and excited as I am to try the updated version in November 1st.

Also Luminar library is coming soon. Click here for