A Short History – Cameras at Ultimate Reloader

Before Ultimate Reloader existed, I had just upgraded from my very first reloading press (A Lee Pro-1000 setup for 44 Magnum) to a new reloading press. The hours and hours I spent online shoveling through forum posts was painful, and I finally decided what press I would buy (Hornady Lock-N-Load AP). The decision wasn’t easy, and that painful process was a big part of the motivation for me personally to start this blog.

Early Videos – Getting Started (2007)

But before I had the blog, I started shooting videos of my Lock-N-Load AP that were aimed at filling the “gap” in straight-forward product info for progressive reloading presses on YouTube at the time. The camera that I started off with was a Sharp MiniDV camcorder that would record at DVD resolution (480p).

Screen capture from first camera - Sharp MiniDV Camcorder - (2008)

While this camera was nothing fancy by today’s standards, it was sufficient to document what I wanted to communicate – how the press works, and what features are included. I did want to show everything on the press, and I recall one video where I strapped a head lamp on, and climbed up a step stool with the camera and pointed it into the case feed bowl to show the brass being picked up. Nothing fancy, but it got the job done!

Entering the “HD Era”

Shortly after I started uploading videos to YouTube, affordable HD cameras became available to consumers. I was starting to get tired of the “realtime” download of video data that was a reality with my Sharp camcorder, so I started looking at HD cameras with SD card storage. After another agonizing search online on photography sites and forums, I decided to pick up a Panasonic Lumix FZ-28. This camera was packed with features, including HD video recording (720p). The image quality was good, but the audio was actually not as good as the Sharp Camcorder.

Screen capture from Panasonic FZ-28 camera (2009)

This camera featured an optical image stabilizer, and an amazing 18x optical zoom with Leica brand optics. It would shoot some truly great photos even at max zoom as seen here:

Image taken with Panasonic FZ-28 camera at max zoom (18x) - Image Copyright 2009 Gavin Gear

I bet you didn’t think you’d ever see flower photography here on Ultimate Reloader did you? 🙂

Another thing that I added during this era of video shoots was a lighting system. For these videos, I used halogen lights with diffusers. Some of the videos turned out great, but I later learned that whitebalance would be critical for consistent good results for color representation.

Going HDSLR (2010)

After making videos with the FZ-28 for a while, I realized that I needed better audio quality, and also wanted to extend what I could do with still shots. Again, I agonized for quite a while, but ended up buying a Canon EOS 7D camera. This camera had an aux-input capability (can use external microphones), and is very capable when it comes to both still photography, and video.

Screen capture from Canon 7D Video (2011)

About this time I also upgraded my lighting to daylight-balanced fluorescent softboxes. These lights put out a lot less heat, and are very even and diffuse. This helped greatly in the studio. I also experimented with various still photography techniques, yielding much better gun shots than I was able to produce previously, such as this S&W 629 shot:

Smith and Wesson 629 - Shot with Canon EOS 7D and fluorescent lights - Image copyright 2010 Gavin Gear

What I did not have with the Canon 7D was good audio level control. This meant I had to use an off-camera digital sound recorder. This setup would capture great sound, but required a lot more work in post production to sync up the sound and video. I also had to build a powerful video editing PC to cope with the heavy-duty file format produced by the 7D (the video editing PC sporting 24GB ram, hyper-threaded quad-core, etc, etc).

True Hybrid DSLR (2012)

This year, I’ve added a new camera. This time I bought a Panasonic GH2 which sports many of the features for video that are lacking on the 7D such as audio level control, continuous autofocus, articulating LCD screen, and much more. I’ve already posted one video (in THIS post) where you can get a preview of what this camera is capable of. I will be building a complete rig around this camera, including a cage/rails, external monitor, digital recorder, and other features.

Screen capture from GH2 video - intro - shows face-tracking autofocus

It’s great to be able to rely on autofocus, it’s been a while since I’ve been shooting with that feature! Another thing I like is the dynamic range of the sensor. You can see in this screen capture the level of detail without “crushing blacks” or “blowing highlights”:

Screen capture from product shot with Panasonic GH2

I’ve got some exciting news to share here on Ultimate Reloader shortly, but in the mean-time, look forward to more videos on this site because it’s going to be a lot easier for me to bring you high quality content. More efficiency means more videos both for Utlimate Reloader, and for Northwest Gun Magazine.

Thanks everyone for your support over the years! It’s been fun bringing you all of this content, and we’re just getting started!

OK, perhaps that wasn’t a “short history” – the title here may be a bit misleading. Stay tuned!




5 thoughts on “A Short History – Cameras at Ultimate Reloader”

  1. Great story. I have been thinking about using video to create some cooking video’s for my Wildgamefeast blog as well as YouTube. My site is full of “how to cook game recipes,” but I’d like to use video as well. It would be great to see some pictures of your lighting setup.

  2. Ultimatereloader.com ROCKS! Keep up the good work. This site, and your reviews are the main reason I selected the LnL AP for my first press. Without your videos, I would not have been able to see the details of setup and function. As you know, without that, it makes the decision much more difficult. Well done.

  3. Gavin,

    Thank you for your determination to continually improve the visual and audio of Ultimate Reloader. Your quest brings so much credibility and enjoyment to your reviews.

    Thank you for your dedication !

    I would like to see reviews of the following:

    Mr. Bullet bulletfeeder. ( this bullet feeder feeds cast bullets using a hard lube
    Dillon 1050
    Dillon case trimmer
    Dillon swager
    Ponsness Warren Auto Drive
    Mec 9000 w/ AutoMate
    Magma Master Caster
    Magma Star bullet lube sizer w/ heater and bullet feeder
    Ballisti-cast Mark IV manual Casting Machine
    Balisti-cast Mark VI lube sizer w/ heater and bullet feeder
    Lee 6 cavity bullet molds
    I believe a review of these machines is appropriate to go hand in hand with the numerous progressive reloaders already on this extremely informative site

    Where did you purchase the track used in your loading bench to secure the many different machines to your bench.

    Keep up the great work

    Joe Claflin

  4. Gavin. Thanks for all of your hard work to provide such a resource. Your site helped me immensely when I was doing research on what equipment to purchase. I’ve been reloading for the last year on a Hornady LNL AP, which has been an excellent piece of equipment. Watching your detailed videos helped me with my purchasing decision. I’ve referred several people to your site who were looking to start reloading and didn’t know where to begin.

    Keep up the good work, and again thanks for the time and effort you’ve put into this site!


  5. Thanks Gavin,

    Very helpful info as always.

    I’ve had problems ordering gear from the states in the past so have been looking for Australian distributors of dies.

    I found one site, http://www.camp-hunt-shoot.com that ship from Australia, but they don’t have the part I need in stock right now.

    Can you recommend someone in Australia?



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