Latest StoriesPhotography
    Tested From Home: Using an iPhone or DSLR as Webcam

    While working from home, Norm experiments with different camera setups for Zoom meetings, podcasting, and livestreaming with OBS Studio software. Here's how you can get much better video quality than your laptop's built-in webcam by using either an iPhone, Canon DSLR or mirrorless camera, or camcorder, and the pros and cons of each. You can get great-looking video even without a capture card!

    Behind the Scenes: Using a Vintage Color Meter!

    Tested Producer Joey shares his experience using a vintage 1985 Minolta color meter as part of his everyday production kit, and how a color meter helps prevent color bleed or color crossover in filming. Joey talks about his workflow for measuring color in different parts of a location or when designing his garage studio, and how well this 35-year-old piece of hardware holds up!

    Tested From Home: Joey's Production Studio!

    While working from his home office, Joey shows us his setup and gear recommendations for filming in your own studios and workshops! Here's how Joey makes use of his kit of LED lights, microphones, and digital camera for Tested videos, and tips to make the most use out of your own spaces!

    How Adam Savage Is Filming Himself in Self-Isolation

    We shot this piece last month before going into shelter-in-place, in which Adam shows his custom-assembled lightweight iPhone stand he put together to film himself during weekend builds. But now that he's alone in the cave all the time, this rig is proving essential for Adam to document his builds in isolation as well as livestream every week. Hope it helps in giving you inspiration to make your own cameraphone rigs!

    Slow Mo Guys VR and The Room: A Dark Matter Review!

    We chat with Gavin Free of The Slow Mo Guys to learn about their new VR mini-series that lets you watch their experiments in stereo VR180. Joey and Gavin compare notes about the interesting production challenges of filming and editing immersive video, and we marvel at the custom Phantom Flex 4K rig The Slow Mo Guys put together to capture their experiments. Plus, Norm reviews The Room: A Dark Matter, which is one of the best puzzle games made for VR headsets!

    Show and Tell: Relio² Desktop Lighting System

    Tested Producer Joey is back to share a his experiences with a new lighting system designed for desktop and studio use. He's been using the new Relio², a self-contained package of modular LED lights that precisely replicate natural lighting though laboratory calibration. Here's why not all LED lights are created equal.

    Testing: DJI Phantom 3 Pro Quadcopter Drone

    Earlier this year, DJI released its third-generation Phantom quadcopter. The Phantom line is perhaps the most well-known ready-to-fly quads you can buy, and the Phantom 3 Advanced and Phantom 3 Professional models are significant upgrades to the last generation. These quadcopters are amazing devices; they combine aerial, sensor, and imaging technologies to make a user-friendly remote-controlled flying camera that would not have been possible a decade ago. That ease-of-use is partly what makes these ready-to-fly quadcopters so compelling. While hobbyists have been building RC multi-rotors for fun and sport, the low barrier to entry offered by RTF quads has exploded the market for new products--not unlike the first years of the modern smartphone. And the rapid pace of DJI's product iterations, along with the proliferation of quadcopter-produced photos and videos--further bootstraps a fast growing community of new flyers.

    So to answer one frequently-asked question: yes, the Phantom 3 line is a significant and worthwhile upgrade to the Phantom 2. Our first Phantom was last year's Vision+, which amazed us by being easy to fly, incorporating a built-in stabilized gimballed HD camera system, and tying flight and sight together with an integrated FPV video feed. All three of these features are markedly improved in the Phantom 3. Let's go over the changes in depth.

    First, the new flight system. The Phantom 3 looks a lot like the Phantom 2, with only a slightly bigger airframe (it will fit in many existing Phantom 2 cases). But the brushless motors, DJI speed controllers, and 4S battery system that power it under the hood are new, and grant the quad more power. It's not that the Phantom 3 flies a lot faster than the Phantom 2 (16m/s max speed vs 15m/s max) or can ascend and descend quicker; that power manifests itself as improved stability and control during flight. Unlike DJI's Inspire 1, the Phantom 3 doesn't fly like a hovering tank--it feels nimble and responsive, even when taken to heights where the motors are fighting winds. And that's power you can take for granted--it wasn't until I switched back to the Phantom 2 for a day that I realized how rock solid the new quad is by comparison.

    Key to the Phantom's flight system is GPS-stabilization. In the Phantom 2, this allowed the quadcopter to calculate where it should be in positional space, automatically adjusting its motor power in real-time to compensate for external forces. We've demoed this before by dragging a flying Phantom by its landing struts to simulate wind and feeling the motors "fight back". Phantom 3 taps into both GPS and Russian GLONASS satellites for a wider range of coverage, though that accounts for faster satellite acquisition moreso than increased positional accuracy. More notable is the Phantom 3 Advanced and Professional's (I've been testing the latter) use of an ultrasonic and visual positioning system for low-altitude stabilization. This is the same system that was introduced in the Inspire 1--a combination of sonar and downward-facing camera to stabilize the quad when it's lower than 10 feet above ground. This is tech that other RTF quads simply don't have.

    Adam Savage's One Day Builds: Space Camera Shroud!

    This week's One Day Build is all about space cameras! Adam shows off a few of his favorite vintage cameras and camera replicas from NASA missions, and collaborates with fellow space obsessive Anthony Kovacs to make a shroud for the venerated Nikon F3. It's a day of cut and sew to make a beautiful replica camera thermal cover, just like the beta cloth ones used by Space Shuttle astronauts!

    Tested: iPhone 11 Pro vs OnePlus 7T Cameras

    The new iPhone 11 Pro adds an ultrawide camera to its back, complementing the standard wide-angle and telephoto cameras. Ultrawide lenses aren't new to smartphones, and we compare the camera systems on the iPhone 11 Pro to the three cameras on the new OnePlus 7T. The iPhone's ultrawide has a frustrating limitation, and the OnePlus 7T's cameras have a unique mode that's very impressive.

    Shooting and Editing VR 180 Video with the Z Cam K1 Pro

    We go behind-the-scenes of the production of our recently-released Tested VR series with a look at the shooting and editing workflow. Joey explains how we used the Z Cam K1 Pro to document the makers' workshops and builds, and how he processed and edited that video in Adobe Premiere. Making VR 180 video is an interesting production process!

    Tested: Insta360 EVO Convertible VR180 Camera

    We test the new Insta360 EVO, a camera that can switch between shooting in 360 video and 180-degree stereoscopic video for virtual reality headsets. Here's a quick primer on why 180-degree VR video is compelling, and how compact cameras like the Insta360 EVO will let you capture great-looking VR video without complicated post-processing.

    Creating Blast Effects in Toy Photography

    Toy photographer Johnny Wu stops by our studio to demonstrate another of his practical effects for miniature photos. This time, he shows how he uses sparklers to create fiery action behind his subjects, evoking battle scenes to dramatic effect! (Sparklers and fireworks are inherently dangerous and we do not recommend attempting this at home. Flour is also extremely flammable!)

    How To Create Snow Effects in Toy Photography

    We're back in the studio of Johnny Wu (aka SgtBananas) to learn about his process for creating convincing snow effects in his photos. It's a simple practical effect you can replicate at home! We also chat about figure posability and what Johnny looks out for when finding new toys to photograph.

    Tested: Tilta Wireless Follow Focus Lens Control System

    Joey tests the Tilta Nucleus-Nano, a wireless follow focus system for controlling the lens on his Panasonic GH5 camera. This lens control system was made to work with Tilta's handheld gimbal rig, and Joey explains how he would use this kind of lens control system in a professional production, and why the price for this wireless follow focus is noteworthy.