Hunt is over for now

Server’s been up and running happily since the last post. So, it was the enormous VM data volume that was causing the problem.

A different hunt has ended as well (for now, of course), completely unrelated to Proxmox: the hunt for a decent camera. Like most people these days I’ve been recording videos on my phone, which is generally enough. Then, my kids started doing sports and I started sharing the videos with family, which made me remember some feedback I received at a much younger age: my videos were not stable enough. I switched to my previous phone, a OnePlus 7T, which vastly improved video stability compared to my current iPhone 12. The videos produced by the OnePlus had better color saturation as well, but it turned out the microphone was flaky, as the left channel muted and un-muted every few seconds. As a temporary solution I recorded with both phones and combined the OnePlus’s video with the iPhone’s audio in kdenlive, but that was a garbage solution.

My next upgrade was a gimbal and a small cage for the iPhone. An add-on lens and external mic improved the video and audio quality to the point that I don’t use the OnePlus anymore, but I wasn’t able to use the entire feature set of the gimbal. There are several buttons and a joystick on the grip, and while I could use the joystick to adjust the pan and tilt, that left button and accessory panels unused. There’s a list of DSLRs and mirrorless cameras on the manufacturer’s site, so I figured I’d slap my Nikon D3100 on it to see how it works. Spoiler alert: it didn’t. At least, not very well. My main goal here is to shoot video, and the D3100 has three things working against it. Maximum video length is 10 minutes, but the things I record can last over an hour; the built-in mic is abysmal and there’s no provision for an external mic; and I can’t use my favorite lens because it’s enormous and heavy, not to mention it has manual zoom. Twisting the lens to zoom while it’s on a gimbal is super awkward, and the only other lens I have for the D3100 is a 35mm prime, which I wouldn’t use for video from stands at my kids’ sporting events. Therefore, it was time to upgrade.

I started out patiently, perusing eBay and placing bids on Nikon mirrorless bodies, as I’d be able to use my existing lenses along with lenses specifically for the mirrorless body. My patience ran out when I was outbid on 8 or 9 different auctions, so I switched brands. I’d heard good things about Sony mirrorless bodies on a Linux podcast that has a professional photographer as one of its hosts, so I started looking for Sony kits that were on the gimbal’s compatibility list. As I’d run out of patience I looked for kits with “buy it now” enabled with a maximum price around what I was bidding. Within a couple hours I found an A6400 with the 16-50mm kit lens and two batteries for about $150 less than my maximum bid, so I snapped it up. I slapped it on the gimbal, attached the control cable, and went to town. Picture quality puts both phones to shame, and the audio quality is … exactly the same because I used the same mic. First test was during the family Christmas gathering, and the videos were met with positive feedback.

The 16-50mm lens left me wanting a little more, though, so after a mishap with a used 18-200mm lens (focus didn’t work at all), I settled on an 18-100mm with electronic zoom. Finally sat that on the gimbal and balanced it, and it’s perfect. Zoom works fine using the gimbal’s control knob too, but it’s not going to set any speed records. Not going for full-on NBA “I need to zoom on this guy shooting a 3-pointer yesterday” shots here, of course. First game is tomorrow, and I can’t wait to see how it performs.