I am helping out another friend to set up a budget Micro Four Thirds kit, and I found this Yongnuo 25mm F1.7 selling for about USD100 (actually less, it is RM385, so more closer to USD90). Unlike most other budget 25mm primes for Micro Four Thirds that are manual focus lenses, Yongnuo included AF capability and I think this sets Yongnuo apart, hence I decided to purchase this lens. I was genuinely curious to see how a budget prime 25mm performs, thus I made this quick review! And boy oh boy, it was awesome to be able to go out and shoot again, after almost half a year living in total isolation. 

I have made a video review here too (click to YouTube video). 

I really like the bright 25mm  marking on the lens, making it quite easy to identify, especially in the dark. Olympus/OM Digital Solutions, please learn from this. 
I have had a dramatic encounter the past week due to a new wireless microphone setup and I have decided to not use it after that incident. I shall keep the brand and model of the wireless microphone hidden for now, maybe I had a lemon unit, I don't know, but the experience was quite unpleasant and that I'd rather work with wired setup, no matter how inconvenient it can be. 

The video I made where the wireless microphone failed and I decided to record everything with E-M5 Mark III's internal microphone instead. 

About a few months ago, just before the lockdown, I was given a wireless microphone that includes two transmitters and a receiver by a friend. It was a gift with no strings attached, and the friend was genuinely concerned for my video-making, as dealing with long cables on shooting locations tend to be risky and anything can happen, worst case bring me tripping the cables and cameras falling down, you get the idea. The wireless microphone was kept inside the box for quite a while, because I am one of those people who is quite hesitant to change - if the old method works, why bother doing something different?

In my latest video on Low Light Shooting with Olympus, I was walking around holding the camera and lens with one hand, so surely a cable connecting the camera to a microphone would have been cumbersome. Usually, my typical video setup is having the camera on a tripod, so that is more manageable and safe to manage. Considering the risks, as well as having better convenience using the new wireless microphone for this particular shoot, I decided to give the wireless microphone a go.

I tested the wireless microphone briefly at home and everything worked well. I did not pay close enough attention to the audio recording quality, I just made sure the connection works, and I can hear my own voice from the playback. So I went out with the wireless microphone, arrived on location and filmed an entire video, which took me close to 3 solid hours outdoors. To be fair, the pairing was fast (took less than 2 seconds for the transmitter to connect to receiver after powering on) and everything worked without a hiccup. I reviewed/playback each clip through the E-M5 Mark III's speakers, which were tiny and not good enough to judge sound quality, but good enough to tell if there was sound, and the words that I was speaking. Everything seemed to work fine, and I was indeed happy. 

Until I arrived home and transferred the footage. Oh my goodness, the audio levels were all off. My voice was severely distorted and clipped. I could not figure out what went wrong, until I saw that the volume setting on external microphone (camera setting) was set to +4. I thought that must be it, I have screwed up somehow and the +4 volume caused severe clipping. I even attempted to rescue the sound by cleaning up in post, to no avail. Although I was frustrated, I did not give up. 

The next evening, I went out again. I intend to redo the entire recording, with proper volume settings. And hopefully it works this time. What could possibly go wrong right?

Second night out - the receiver module refused to turn on. I pressed the power button and nothing happened. The wireless receiver decided to act up, and practically died on me even before the shoot began. I tried resetting the wireless module (the reset pin) and nothing worked. It was not running out of battery either, I have charged it the morning earlier. How can a device fail in the field just like that?

The other solution - I plugged in the lavalier microphone (which came together with the wireless microphone) directly into the camera, and guess what? It only recorded one channel (right channel was muted) and for whatever reasons, even through E-M5 Mark III's lousy speakers I can tell the audio sounded really bad. 

My mistake? I did not bring my old microphone setup as a backup. Always, always have a backup. And have backup to that backup. 

What did I do in the end? Still persistent and did not want that evening go to waste, since I was already out and I had what I wanted to say all in my head planned out already, I went ahead and recorded the entire session with the E-M5 Mark III's internal microphone. It did not come out as good as I wanted, but the audio quality was acceptable, and was miles better than the first attempt with the wireless microphone with severe sound clipping. 

The next morning, being curious, I tried to turn on the dead wireless receiver, and surprise, it decided to switch back on. Everything worked fine, but hey, it has failed me once, it may fail me again, and I was not going to risk it further. 

Still curious, I decided to do more extensive tests recording my voice indoor with the wireless microphone setup. Here is the weird part. I have dialed down the camera's volume setting to -5, yet there was still noticeable clipping in the audio. The recording level was low, the volume was soft because of the reduced -5 level, yet when monitoring the volume meter/levels, without peaking or showing the bars reaching the red zone/limits, still within very safe zones, the audio sounded broken, distorted and just plain rubbish. I tried both transmitters, they gave me same results. I tried the microphones on board the receivers, with the included lavaliers, my own lavaliers, they all came out severely distorted, without reaching high volume levels. 

Not only was the audio distorted even when I had the volume set to -10 level (yes I tried), they sounded heavily processed, like there was some bad noise reduction and compression going on, while boosting the mids of my voice unnecessarily. It just sounded really, really bad. 

This was not really a cheap product either, retailing at about USD200, I'd expect it to be more reliable, and give somewhat decent quality recording. I understand proper high quality wireless microphone usually will cost multiple times more, but I just wanted something that works! Is that too much to ask for?

My friend Matti Sulanto has strongly suggested me to use a wireless microphone setup since we last met in person some time 2 years ago, and I wanted to take his advice up badly. But after this trauma, maybe I shall just stick to basics and work with wired connection for a bit longer. 

Yes I have trust issues. Do you really blame me?

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