Photography / Buying Guide

Top Media Tech Picks from B&H Product Experts

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As they say, a company is only as great as the people within it. The product experts at B&H exemplify this adage daily, in the personal attention they offer every customer interaction, as well as their depth of knowledge and passion for practical solutions.

“Many people don’t realize, it’s not just knowing the tech that’s important; the sales reps behind the counter get customer feedback about the items that serve people best,” explains B&H Sony Specialist Yisroel Ybgi. “So, their recommendations are not only based on what it says in a spec sheet.”

We asked several B&H Product Experts about their top gear picks while sourcing quotes for our catalog’s inside front cover. Here are just a few of their favorites.

Fit a Power Zoom in Your Pocket with the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX90V/DSC-HX80

For customers seeking an inexpensive camera with a power zoom, Ybgi recommends the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX90V, featuring a Zeiss Vario-Sonnar 30x Optical Zoom Lens. “This is the smallest power zoom camera with an electronic viewfinder, making it ideal for a user to just slip it into a pocket,” he says.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX90V Digital Camera

Given its 35mm focal-length equivalency of 24-720mm, and Sony’s proprietary ClearImage Zoom technology, which effectively doubles the lens’s reach (60x) while maintaining image quality, Ybgi finds the viewfinder offers users a big advantage. “When you’ve got that much zoom, and it is even slightly sunny outside, the glare on the LCD screen is going to be an issue, he explains. “The viewfinder will let you see what you’re photographing, and it also helps you to stabilize the image.”

Built-in GPS makes this camera ideal for scouting and location photography, and a control ring on the lens barrel can be customized for a host of different options, serving as a focusing ring in manual focus mode. Ybgi points out that customers willing to forgo GPS and manual focus can further economize with Sony’s sister model, the Cyber-shot DSC-HX80. “I went through all the menus to look for differences and these two models are almost identical,” he says.

What’s more, “Sony is one of only a few manufacturers to offer a selfie screen with 180-degree movement in these high-powered zoom pocket cameras,” Ybgi adds. “So, people are not only going to use it for the zoom; the zoom is one convenience, the other is being able to include yourself and your friends in pictures.”

Gain Control of Your Smartphone Photos with the miggo Pictar Camera Grip for iPhone

When it comes to mobile devices, “Phone cameras have gotten so good that you almost don’t need a DSLR anymore,” says B&H Mobile Products expert Joseph Weichbrod.

Yet, mobile photographers seeking a firmer grasp on their image-making experience can certainly benefit from Weichbrod’s pick: Miggo’s Pictar Camera Grip for iPhone. “There are other phone grips on the market, but they’re basically just something to grab onto,” he says. “The Pictar Camera Grip gives you very much of a real camera feel, while also allowing you to use other accessories.”

miggo Pictar Plus Camera Grip for iPhone

This ergonomic grip features five external control buttons that give you greater control over your photos when paired with the accompanying Pictar app. The shutter button features a half-press mode to lock focus and exposure, as well as full press for immediate shutter release. Other controls include an exposure compensation wheel, as well as a zoom ring, selfie button, and smart wheel that can be programmed to suit specific needs. In addition, a 1/4"-20 threaded hole on one side of grip can attach to a tripod or other support, and the cold-shoe mount along the other side can accept a constant light source or microphone attachment.

The Pictar’s current offerings are specific to iPhone, with separate versions for standard-sized phones and the iPhone Plus. As a newly released product, “It’s sort of the first of its kind,” says Weichbrod. “It’s a good hybrid of your phone and a real camera that gives you a completely different experience. Since you have a really good camera already in your pocket, why not make the most of it?”

Record Mobile Audio with the RØDE VideoMic Me and smartLav+ Mics for Smartphones

As any fan of mobile media will tell you, capturing good audio with a smartphone is no easy feat, yet it’s a growing trend in our increasingly mobile world. One product line that brings versatility to this niche is Australian audio innovator RØDE. B&H Pro Audio expert John Pace notes, “RØDE is ahead of the pack, and they always have been. They tend to be there first. They are much more comprehensive in this area than other brands; they really solve problems that you’re going to run into.”

Two standouts among RØDE’s stable of mobile microphone gear are the VideoMic Me directional shotgun mic and the smartLav+ lavalier condenser mic.

Designed to fit a wide range of Android and IOS devices, the Video MicMe only picks up audio in the direction you want to record, actively canceling out sound coming from the rear of the device. A 1/8" headset output jack on the back end allows you to listen in as you record, while a supplied furry wind shield helps to keep your audio clean when shooting outdoors or in windy environments.

RØDE VideoMic Me Directional Mic for Smart Phones

Calling the VideoMic Me, “a Lilliputian version of a shotgun mic,” Mr. Pace notes, “its main intention is to capture a wider range of sound, such as a group of people that may be at a distance.”

While a full-sized shotgun mic can record decent audio from up to 12 feet away, Mr. Pace recommends staying within a four-to-six-foot radius with the VideoMic Me. “But, if it’s connected to your phone and you’re shooting with that phone, and everybody’s in a group, it’s made to order,” he says.

For those new to the audio arena, Mr. Pace recommends making a shotgun mic your first purchase, “Because it’s going to be able to cover any situation you come up with. If you just have a lav, be it wired or wireless, you’ve got a mic for a single person.”

Yet, if recording a single voice is your goal, the sensitive, omnidirectional condenser capsule of RØDE’s smartLav+ easily clips to your clothing to capture sound equally from all sides of the mic. It works with most audio recording apps, to provide hands-free recording of speeches, interviews, dictations, and more.

RØDE smartLav+ Lavalier Condenser Microphone for Smartphones

The smartLav+ is equipped with a Kevlar-reinforced cable, strain tested up to 10kg to help ensure reliable performance, and it uses a gray-sleeved TRRS connector to connect into your smartphone or tablet's headphone input. For smartphones lacking a headphone jack, such as the iPhone 7, Mr. Pace recommends adding the Apple Lightning to 3.5mm Headphone Jack Adapter to the mix.

Apple Lightning to 3.5mm Headphone Jack Adapter

And for intrepid mobile reporters, RØDE offers an alternative solution for multi-person interviews. The smartlav+ Two Person Interviewer Kit for iOS Devices includes two smartLAV+ condenser microphones, an SC6 Dual TRRS Input and Headphone Output for smartphones, a pair of Polsen HPC-A30 closed-back studio monitor headphones, a Foam Pop Shield, Mic Clip, and a small carrying pouch.

RØDE smartLav+ Two Person Lavalier Interviewer Kit for iOS Devices

“RØDE really has the whole thing covered,” says Mr. Pace. “And, it’s all so tiny that you can travel with everything you need in your pockets. You’re not tethered to a cameraman, you’ve just reduced your crew to one. The camera will capture it, the mic will record it, then you just upload it to the server and they download it on the other side in post. Within moments, what you’ve shot can be on the air,” he adds. “You don’t necessarily have to broadcast live anymore.”

Boost Your Lighting with the Godox AD200 Pocket Flash Kit

“The key to a great photograph is the right lighting, which is almost never present when you need it,” says Matt Emond, Lighting Specialist; B&H Web Merchandising. “This is why having the right lighting equipment at your disposal is so crucial for any photographer.”

For those seeking to improve their photography by taking control of their lighting while watching their budget, Emond recommends the recently released Godox AD200 TTL Pocket Flash Kit, due to its all-around functionality and compatibility with nearly all camera brands.

Godox AD200 TTL Pocket Flash Kit

This single-light kit features two types of lamps that attach to the front of the unit, giving you the option of two different qualities of light. A speedlight head outputs the standard look of an on-camera flash, which can be modified using a large variety of standard shoe-mount flash type modifiers. The bare bulb head features a removable flash tube, which not only handles heavy use far better than the confined flashtube in on-camera type flashes, but is also perfectly suited for a wide array of beauty dishes, reflectors, softboxes, and umbrellas.

Unlike typical hot-shoe-mounted flashes, which typically have an estimated equivalent output of roughly 60-80 watt seconds, this free-standing light source packs 200 watt-seconds of power, adjustable in 8 steps from 1/128 to 1/1. Similar to other professional-level, battery-powered strobes, it uses a proprietary 14.4 V / 2900 mAH Lithium-Ion Battery Pack, which can provide 500 full-power flashes with recycling times of 0.01 to 2.1 seconds.

Godox Lithium-Ion Battery Pack for AD200 Pocket Flash

“The AD200 is great for customers who need a light that is battery powered, compact, affordable, and can work with their camera’s TTL and/or high speed synch functionalities,” Emond says.

In addition to the two types of flashtubes mentioned above, the Pocket Flash Kit comes with a battery pack, charger and cable, and a light-stand mount, which can also accept an umbrella. To get the most of the unit, Emond recommends using an optional light stand and some type of diffuser, such as these softbox options from Godox.

Impact Air-Cushioned Light Stand

While the AD200 is non-camera specific, to wirelessly trigger the flash, you’ll also need the Godox X1T-C TTL Wireless Flash Trigger Transmitter corresponding to your camera brand. And, for more complex lighting setups using other manufacturers’ wireless-enabled lights, Godox also offers the optional X1R-C TTL Wireless Flash Trigger Receiver, as well as the X1C TTL Wireless Flash Trigger Set.

Godox X1T-C TTL Wireless Flash Trigger Transmitter

In summary, Emond affirms, “Never has a flash provided a level of functionality equaling the AD200 at such a great price. There are very few options offering even some of this flash’s features, let alone all of them.”

Ignite Your Wireless Lighting Potential with Nissin’s Di700A Flash Kit

Anyone seeking an affordable yet flexible hot-shoe-powered strobe should heed B&H lighting product specialist Manzell Lyles’ advice to consider the Di700A Flash by Nissin, which offers manufacturer-specific flashes for Canon, Fujifilm, Micro Four Thirds, Nikon, and Sony camera systems.

Nissin Di700A Flash for Canon Cameras

Powered by 4 AA batteries, this flash has a recycle time of 0.1 to 4 seconds and can support high-speed, 1st- and 2nd-curtain sync modes. Its rotating flash head provides a 360° of coverage and tilts from -7 to 90°, for full range in bouncing light.

Says Lyles, “The Di700A offers more output power than the typical built-in flash, so it’s a great option for people whose built-in flash does not have the range or power for their needs, as well as for amateur and advanced photographers who will be using the flash off-camera to get more creative with their lighting.”

In addition to being more economical than the corresponding dedicated flashes offered by most camera manufacturers, the Di700A benefits from the Nissin Air System’s wireless technology, which uses 2.4 GHz wireless radio transmission rather than optical wireless, for less susceptibility to angle and obstacle limits.

“Radio remotes do not require line-of-sight transmission, allowing you to trigger the flash in a separate room or from behind an obstacle, for more creative light placement,” Lyles explains.

Wireless use of the flash requires the Nissin Air 1 Commander compatible with your camera, which can trigger the flash up to a distance of 98'. Both items are also offered together in the Nissin Di700A Flash Kit.

Nissin Air 1 Commander for Canon Cameras

Featuring eight channels and three groups, the Air 1 Commander allows users to set up numerous flashes with different settings and modes, all from the commander unit. For multi-flash setups, the Air 1 is cross-compatible with all versions of the Di700A flash, regardless of camera brand. Additionally, Nissin recently unveiled the Air R Receiver for Canon, Nikon and Sony systems, which can be used to trigger your camera manufacturer’s dedicated flashes and Nissin Di700A models wirelessly.

Nissin Air R Receiver for Canon Flashes

In comparison to other options, Lyles points out, “To wirelessly trigger most manufacturer-made flash units, you’d have to use the built-in flash as a transmitter. This would only work for certain camera models, and it usually has a limited range—often 30 feet or less. It also requires line of sight between the flash sensor and the flash output.”

All these factors lead him to conclude, “With the Nissin Di700A Flash kit, you get a lot more flexibility with less cost.”

Capture Aerial Selfies with the DJI Spark Quadcopter

Aerial imagemakers seeking a small, hassle-free drone that incorporates the latest technology at an affordable price need look no further than DJI’s Spark Quadcopter. “The Spark comes ready to fly out of the box,” says Kareem Wilder, B&H Consumer Video/Aerial Imaging expert. “Its size is very portable, with foldable propellers, allowing you to travel with it easily.”

DJI Spark Quadcopter

Featuring an integrated camera with 2-axis stabilization, this compact quadcopter is capable of recording 1080p 30 Full HD video, and 12MP still photos. With a top speed of 31 mph, and up to 16 minutes of flight time, the camera on this diminutive drone offers users a choice of four smart video modes for capturing dynamic footage that rockets skyward, flies backward and up at an angle, spirals upward, or circles around a given subject.

The unit’s FaceAware technology can detect your features before it lifts off from the palm of your hand, allowing for an interactive experience when the drone is in flight. “In Gesture mode, you can direct its movement with your hand and signal it to take photos by raising your arm or framing a rectangle with your fingers,” explains Wilder. “It’s great for aerial selfies.”

The Spark is available in two different packages: Standard, which includes the drone, 3 packs of propellers (2 propellers per pack), a battery, a charger, a micro USB cable and a storage box, or the Fly more combo, which adds a remote control, two extra batteries, a charging hub, 5 packs of propellers, and a prop guard.

“An optional DJI Care Refresh protection plan, which covers the drone from accidental damage for one year, provides you with peace of mind at an affordable cost,” Wilder says.

Be a Broadcasting Ninja with the PTZOptics 20x-SDI Gen2 Live Streaming Camera

For broadcasting enthusiasts who seek a flexible solution for capturing and streaming videotaped meetings, conferences or other events, B&H Pro Video expert Richard Babitsky recommends the PTZOptics 20x-SDI Gen2 Live Streaming Camera.

PTZOptics 20x-SDI Gen2 Live Streaming Camera

“This is a great low-cost PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) camera, which can be operated in a wide range of applications by users with varying degrees of experience,” he says. “It’s ideal for an individual or a facility looking to operate single or multiple cameras from a distance, either by interfacing the cameras with physical switchers or working directly from a laptop or desktop.”

In addition to live streaming, this camera can work with a multitude of systems, including HDMI, 3G-SDI, LAN, or composite output, as well as video through IP. The unit can also be controlled through a computer, a dedicated joystick remote or the provided IR remote.

Babitsky finds PTZOptics Gen2 cameras to be a particularly attractive option for budget-minded houses of worship or school newsroom-type builds. “Manual exposure control makes this an ideal solution for use in low-light scenarios,” he points out. “When setting up the camera to capture a school play, manual settings can be adjusted to the exposure on stage, helping to reduce noise in the shadows.”

And since the PTZOptics website features how-to videos on various system configurations, “Technically, almost anyone can get up and going with this system without having a background in video production,” Babitsky says.

“All told, the flexibility of this camera system for various installation needs—from a single PTZ camera live stream setup, to its compatibility with the latest Newtek Tricaster systems for more sophisticated productions—makes this camera a fantastic solution at a fairly low price point.”

NewTek 3Play 440 Instant Replay System with Control Surface

Play Anywhere with the Lenovo 15.6" Legion Y720 VR Ready Gaming Laptop

For gamers on the go, B&H computer products expert Joseph Rosenfeld recommends the Lenovo 15.6" Legion Y720 as a great laptop choice. “Whether you’re a casual user or an enthusiast, this laptop can play any current AAA game at high settings in Full HD (1920 x 1080).

Lenovo 15.6" Legion Y720 Notebook

Powered by a 2.8 GHz Intel® Core™ i7-7700HQ Quad-Core processor and 16GB of DDR4 RAM, the Legion Y720 has the hardware required for efficient multitasking, quick loading, and fluid gaming. And players seeking to up their game will appreciate the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card, which makes it easy to plug in your virtual reality headset for an immersive experience.

“This specific model has both a 5400rpm 1TB hard drive and an 128GB PCIe SSD for fast boot-up and overall system responsiveness, offering ample storage for all your favorite games, photos, videos, music and other items,” Rosenfeld says.

A Thunderbolt™ 3 port allows users to hook up to additional monitors, connect external hard drives, or an external GPU for optimal graphical performance. Up to six devices can be daisy-chained from a single Thunderbolt 3 port.

Rosenfeld highlights the built-in wireless adapter for Xbox One as a particularly cool feature that can’t found elsewhere. “When using an Xbox controller, there’s no need to purchase a separate accessory,” he says.

“At the end of the day, this is a great choice for any gamer,” says Rosenfeld, “as well as for photo/video editors, and it comes at a great price point.”

Go Wired or Wireless with the ASUS ROG Strix Wireless Gaming Headset

For equally affordable gaming headphones, B&H computer products expert Christopher Hall recommends the ASUS ROG Strix Wireless Gaming Headset.

ASUS ROG Strix Wireless Gaming Headset

“What’s nice about these headphones is that you can use them wired or wireless,” Hall explains. “They’re really scalable, so for VR they work equally well seated or in a room-scale environment where you’re going to be moving around in space.”

This makes them a perfect complement to virtual reality headsets such as the HTC Vive. “That’s the best room scale VR experience available right now, and these headphones work perfectly with that setup,” he adds.

HTC Vive VR Headset

The headset is compatible with Mac and Windows PCs, as well as with mobile devices, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. It comes with a combo 3.5mm wire for use with a cell phone or tablet, a Y-cable to plug into a computer, and a USB dongle to use your gaming headset without wires. Foldable ear cups and a detachable boom mic make the headset easy to pack up and carry wherever you go.

Additionally, ASUS Sonic Studio software offers users a virtual 7.1 surround sound experience, without the bulk and expense of discrete drivers. “It’s immersive audio quality for people whose ears can tell the difference,” says Hall.

All told, for customers seeking a good VR experience, the ASUS ROG Strix really shows its value as a complete package with a VR headset, without breaking the bank.

This is but a sampling of the memorable items shortlisted by our B&H product experts. To learn more about our Photo Mavens, Computer Crackerjacks, Pro Video Virtuosos, Lighting Leaders, Pro Audio Aces, Mobile Maestros, Entertainment All-Stars, Camcorder Connoisseurs, Surveillance Czars, Optics Evangelists, and A/V Intelligentsia, visit these links to read their profiles, or flip to the inside front cover of our catalog for some insightful quotes. And, for your own personalized session with a member of our team, pay us a visit in our New York City SuperStore, or simply log onto your computer or pick up the phone for an inspiring chat!

2 Comments

I ordered the little sony and yes it is really small with a nice zoom--had a lot of fun with it. smallest one I ever saw and it takes nice pictures better than my Nikon compact zoom or my Canon compact zoom--thanks for the recommendation 

Hi Ruth, so glad to hear that we could offer you this recommendation and that you like your new gear. Happy shooting and thanks for reading Explora!

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