These couple of months saw a few additions to chez クドウ. All of these have their uses, so they weren’t purchases on a whim. Well, that’s what I’d like to tell myself lah.

With the impending Japan trip[1], I had thought about a second vidcam apart from my 550D. The first time I saw the GoPro ads, I knew that would be the dream addition of my photography/videography gear.

“So, you are base jumping off the Sky Tree issit?”

Of course not, the GoPro also has its uses for the sedentary man, yo. Luck would have it that in the week preceding to Black Friday, a mate gave me the heads up of Amazon UK selling the Hero3 Black Edition. Suffice to say, the saving made was fantastic – better than an eBay purchase even.

“Why not the Hero3+?”

According to a few reviews, there were grumblings amongst users regarding the 3+. Hence, as opposed to waiting for the 3+ to have its act sorted, I went for the cheaper Hero3, which still has the same hi-res specs up to 4K, but only slightly heavier and thicker. Luckily, I don’t have vernier scales appended to my hands to make me go, “Aaaargh – why you so big one? Should have bought the 3+ meh…” Verdict? I thought the GoPro is a superb piece of kit.

As the camera is devoid of a viewfinder or screen (you need to buy it as an add on if you must), by downloading the GoPro app I can use my iPhone as a remote and screen which connects to the GoPro via a wi-fi connection. If you look at the right bottom photo of the remote, you can see the image is somewhat desaturated colour-wise. I had chosen the Protune option with the quality at 1080p at 24 fps. This means to get the colour corrected, I need to do this in post on iMovie. Check out the following video taken at the Peak District last month.

My only criticism is the speed the Hero3’s battery runs out, especially with the wi-fi switched on as I painfully learnt during that first outing with the Hero3 in the Peak District. The plan is to buy possibly two more. I shouldn’t be using the GoPro throughout as it’ll be used for choice shots. I’ve yet to try out the time lapse mode (Shibuya crossing, yo!) and will need to check out more GoPro tips on YouTube.

The next item is my new old Sigma 24-70 mm f/2.8 lens which I bought off a friend. I could have bought a Canon one but for a similar spec lens at a fraction of the Canon price, this was somewhat of a no-brainer. Furthermore, with this being secondhand, it’s a fraction of a fraction of the Canon! I watched a YouTube vid comparing the Sigma with its Nikkor, Canon and Tamron counterparts, and the Sigma came out last mostly because of its slower speed in the auto focus category. The tester nevertheless did praise the Sigma for its price, and it’s really bang for your buck especially with what it can do.

My first short outing with the Sigma churned out shots with surprising lovely clarity and colour. I’ve to say I would have had some better shots if I had made my way into town a little earlier before the sun fell down. The Sigma is a tad heavy despite its overall plastic built, obviously due to the glass. Looks like my luggage for the Japan trip will get a tad heavier as I may use it as the sole lens. Prolly the old 50 mm f/1.8 will tag along. We’ll see.

Last but not least – my ESP LTD ST-213 HSS M has finally arrived. Yup the MAMICASTER or 「マミカスタ」 has reached these shores after all these while, and I now own one of the thirteen that was brought over by ESP UK. The 2013 ESP catalogue had it listed and I was told earlier this year, that worldwide stocks of this model had virtually sold out. Which explained why there was nothing on eBay, let alone online guitar stores.

マミカスタ is virtually a Strat-styled guitar with vintage-styled hardware (nope, no Floyd Rose for me) with a H/S/S pickup config. The body’s made of alder and she has a maple neck. She’s made in Vietnam, costs £262 and sounds like a £500-£1000 range guitar, I kid you not. The pickups are ESP-Designed and are not microphonic. The sound and playability is very impressive for this price.

Nitpicking would find that the fret edges are jutting out a tad in parts but I plan to have it set up by Steve after the new year, together with some modifications (from Seymour Duncan pickups, Gotoh Magnum machine heads to a new black pickguard) which will later prepare it for the paint job she’ll get in this MAMICASTER project. Can’t wait!

[1]Bloody well must happen weh.