Many more canyons to explore


Just a few weekends back, I did a little scouting in the local mountains. I am always on the hunt for more potential streams that might hide a river king. This particular photo shows the confluence of several intriguing streams, deep in mountains outside of LA. Just need a little more time to hike down!

Local waters scouting trip

Good looking water out there


Just need to put in the effort to find its denizens


Perhaps on a later trip?


Local SoCal San Gabriel creek. Can't wait to go back! Looking for wild trout.

ELE Explorer K RexSO Action Camera Review: Better 4K EIS at a lower price?


Almost exactly two years ago (has it been that long?) I reviewed ELE's first major action camera, the ELE Explorer. I really enjoyed using it, and even more so enjoyed using it's big brother, the ELE Explorer Pro several months later. I felt the Explorer Pro actually rivaled the very popular GitUp2 camera, surprisingly!
Fast forward to 2018. My ELE Pro stopped working after a few hard landings (my fault, not the cameras) and I don't use the ELE Explorer anymore, as its been outdated for some time. However, ELE (Elephone, such an interesting name), has since come out with a brand new action camera, the ELE REXSO Explorer K. Key feature that got me excited? 4K 30FPS footage, STABILIZED! Alright, let's see how this new, budget-priced camera works. And, how does it compare to the other brand-new 4K stabilized camera that I just reviewed, the ThiEye T5 Edge?




Specifications:
These are straight from the Elephone website. REXSO is a new "sub-brand" of ELE. A little while back, I thought ELE renamed itself as MGCool (or a sub-brand), however recently it seems to be back to ELE again. It's hard to keep track of all these different brands!

General
Model: Explorer K
Chipset: HiSilicon HI3559 (seems to be a new one, haven't seen it widely used in other action cameras)
Sensor: Panasonic MN34120 (notice this the same as the popular GitUp 2 image sensor)

Display
Screen size: 2.0inch LCD
Screen resolution: Resolution 320*240

Power
Battery Type: Lithium battery
Battery Capacity (mAh): 1200mAH
Charge way: USB2.0
Working Time: About 90 min at 1080P 30FPS
Charging Time: 2 hours

Primary Info
Wide Angle: 170 degree
Camera Pixel: 16M/12M/8M/5M
Lens Diameter: 18MM
Video/Image/Audio
Decode Format: H.265/H.264
Video format: MP4
Video Resolution: 4K@30fps/2K@60fps/1080P@60fps/1080P@30fps/720P@120fps
Microphone: Double Mics

Functions
WIFI: YES
WiFi Distance: 10M- 15M
Waterproof: YES
Water Resistant: 30M
Night vision : support
Anti-shake: Six-ais Electronic image stabilization (And this works on not just the 1080p, but also the 4K!)
Aerial Photography: support

Dimension and Weight
Product weight: 64.5g
Product size: 59*41*21.3mm

Package
1 x Waterproof case
1 x Bicycle Bracket
1 x Back clip
1 x fixed base
1 x clip
1 X Switch Support 1
1 X Switch Support 2
1 X Switch Support 3
1 x J-shaped Mount
1 X commutator
2 X Helmet pedestal
2 x bandage
4 x ribbon 2 x 3M Adhesive Tape
1 x wire cable
1 x USB Cable
1 x Cleaning Cloth
1 x User manual

Storage
Max External Card Supported: 128G
Class Rating Requirements:at least a U3(90MB/s) microSDXC memory card 32GB-64GB

Language
English, France,Espanol,Deutsch, Portugues, Italiano, Chinese,Traditional Chinese, Japan, Russian,Korea, Polski, Vietnam



Performance:
I have taken the ELE REXSO Explorer K out on a variety of recent outdoor trips, hiking, offroading, rock hounding, snorkeling, and more. Conditions ranged from quite sunny to a little overcast. The photos and video you will see below is untouched - stock settings, EIS typically on, no post-processing of the colors or contrast. 
The camera menu is pretty easy to navigate. There isn't a ton of settings, unlike the ThiEye T5 Edge, and it appears EIS is on by default (which doesn't bother me, but I couldn't find a way to turn it off if I wanted to). I never encountered any issues with the camera freezing or crashing on me, unlike the T5 Edge (happened once with it). I did end up splitting my 4K quadcopter footage into loop segments, making it easier to edit (rather than one big, slow file). The video footage on 4K with EIS is quite sharp and detailed, comparable to other popular 4K cameras. It actually looks better, more natural, than the Thi Eye T5 Edge. Additionally, the EIS is better that the T5 Edge. I'm quite pleased with the 4K footage on the Explorer K and will likely keep using it for some time. 
I also tried out the time-lapse mode -- with adjustable video/second. Looked just fine! Finally, I did extensive comparison of the 1080p footage to other popular cameras - the T5 Edge, T5E, and Firefly 8S. I don't know what it is with both the T5 Edge and the REXSO Explorer K, but the 1080p footage is not impressive at all. Both the T5E and the Firefly 8S surpass them in terms of 1080p detail and quality. It seems some of the more affordable 4K EIS cameras sacrifice 1080p video quality in their quest for better 4K EIS options. 
Photos are crisp and detailed on the Explorer K, no complaints there. Colors came out fairly natural as well. There is an older ELE app available for remote control of ELE cameras, but I'm not sure if this particular subbrand, REXSO, works with it.
Lastly, people tend to ask about audio quality - even though 99% of the time I use these action cameras in their waterproof cases. The REXSO Explorer K has very poor audio, near impossible to hear yourself on it.
Don't get the wrong impression - the REXSO is definitely a better 4K EIS camera than the other budget alternative, the T5 EDGE. It is easy to use, is at an excellent price point, and has great 4K footage.



Sample Footage:


















Conclusion:
ELE has another winner on their hands with the REXSO Explorer K action camera. It seems to be better off than its nearest budget 4K competitor, the ThiEye T5 Edge, not just in terms of 4K EIS footage, but also in terms of a very affordable price. It's not a camera to rely on for 1080p footage or for audio recording, but otherwise it's an excellent, affordable action camera for 4K footage, and demonstrates just how far these cameras have come in a few short years. 
Buy ELE  Explorer K REXSO action camera online: http://bit.ly/2DteDsr

ThiEye T5 Edge Review: New Action Camera with 4K EIS


Last year (is it already 2018!), ThiEye jumped onto the action camera scene with the excellent T5E camera. Fast forward to this new year, and they've released yet another budget 4K camera: The T5 Edge. It's not the same camera - it has a different image sensor, offers Voice Control, and, perhaps most excitingly, supports Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS) at not only 1080p but also 4K, 30fps. 


Yeah, that's one of my new bass lures for 2018. Expect a review soon.



Specifications

Videos
Resolution 4K 30fps, 2.7K 30fps, 1080P 60 / 30fps, 720P 120 / 60 / 30fps
Distortion Correction Support
Gyro Stabilizer (EIS) Support 4K & 1080P
Auto Low Light Support 1080P 60fps, 720P 120 / 60fps
Loop Recording 2 / 3 / 5min, video auto cyclic covering
Time lapse Video 1 / 3 / 5 / 10 / 30 / 60 second interval
Slow Motion Select the slow motion mode and capture slow motion footage at 720P 120fps
Screen Off Off / 30s / 1min / 2min
Auto Shutdown Off / 1 / 2min
Format MP4
Codec H.264
Photos
Resolution 14M (4320*3240) / 10M (3648*2736) / 8M (3264*2448) / 5M (2592*1944)
Long Exposure Off / 1 / 2 / 5 / 8 / 30 / 60s
Photo Burst Off / 3 P/s / 7 P/2s / 15 P/4s / 30P/8s
Self-Timer Off / 3 / 5 / 10 / 20s
Photo format JPG
Hardware
Waterproof 197 feet(60m) underwater with waterproof case
LCD Display Built-in 2.0 inch Ultra-HD IPS screen
Lens 170° super-wide view, 7G lens
Storage Micro SD / SDHC / SDXC (Support up to 128G, UHS-1 U3 required, sold separately)
Audio Input Microphone
Audio Output Speaker
Connection WiFi (iOS & Android App), Micro USB, HDM
Image Sensor MN34112

Others
Dimension 60 * 42 * 23mm (L x W x D)
Battery 1100mAh, 3.7V
Color Black
WiFi Control Yes
Voice & Remote Control Support
Language English / Simplified Chinese / Traditional Chinese / German / Italian / Spanish / Portuguese / French / Japanese

 Performance


I've used the T5 Edge in a variety of settings and it's performed well. The EIS definitely makes the footage more stable. However, the EIS could use some significant refinement - it's not at the level of GitUp or SJCam for now. Hopefully future software updates will fix this, as there was occasional shaking artifact and jello, even with EIS. 
The included waterproof case is snug and fits the camera perfectly. The menu is easy to navigate, and playback on the app or the camera itself is a breeze. The included bluetooth remote works quite well, and offers remote control features. To use the Voice Command option, you need to speak into the bluetooth remote, after its synced to the camera. Commands include "Action Start Vieo", "Action Stop Shooting", "Action Photo", "Camera Turn Off." These are only for English-and I doubt the software will pickup heavy accents very well.
There is also several of the usual accessories included with the camera, various mounts and so on.
The image sensor is the same as one of the Eken models, but different from the T5E model.







Sample photos from ThiEye T5 Edge Action Camera (unedited)








Comparison to T5E Action Camera


I really liked the T5E when I reviewed it several months back. However, the T5E doesn't have EIS, and thus I didn't use the 4K as much as I would have liked. The difference in terms of stability between no EIS and EIS on the T5Edge is quite striking - see the video below. 
Photo quality and video quality are otherwise fairly similar at 4K, but at 1080p the T5E is definitely ahead in detail. I do prefer the somewhat more saturated colors found on the ThiEye T5 Edge photos and video on stock settings over the T5E at 4K. Battery life and compatibility with the ThiEye Action Camera app are similar, no major hiccups. The Image sensor is also different on the T5 Edge. 




Conclusion
ThiEye T5 Edge is an upgrade over the prior T5E, mostly in terms of its EIS feature, although the EIS is far from perfect-in fact, it's quite weak. The different image sensor on the T5 Edge seems to produce more natural, less washed out footage over the T5E, although the difference is slight in 4K. At 1080p, the T5 Edge actually lags behind the T5E. The Voice Control and Bluetooth Remote are also both nice, but not features I'll probably use that often. Overall, this is another interesting action camera from ThiEye, with room to improve on the EIS feature. It's definitely one of the more affordable options for 4K EIS at this time, but I think the ELE Explorer K REXSO actually beats it and is cheaper. Take a look at the review video below and let me know your thoughts:



Important links: 

Buy ThiEye T5 Edge online: http://bit.ly/2lZfSUu (4K EIS + remote control + voice control)

Newport Harbor Intex Kayak Fishing Trip for Bass



Back to the bay (Newport), for a fishing trip. This time, took the Intex Explorer Kayak K2 out, an inflatable kayak. It performed excellently out in the protected saltwater environment. We landed 10+ fish, all chunky spotted and calico bass on a variety of lures. The kayak was comfortable, stable, and didn't leak during the entire trip. Check the video below!

Check out that sun bathing whale of a seal!





Creekin' for Local Wild Trout

Hello, local wild trout stream in San Bernardino Mountains


It's been too long since we last met


Taking out my beloved el cheapo Rosewood Collapsible Fly Fishing Rod


Simply gorgeous little pool


Hookup!


Tiniest trout I've ever encountered at the end of my fly line


Good to have been back


Best Southern California Hiking and Wilderness Exploration Blogs: Crashed Planes, Forgotten Canyons, Hidden Ski Runs, and Lost Hikers


Exploring the wonderful outdoors through fishing trips is my primary way of seeking adventure in the local mountains and lakes. However, I also hike quite a bit, and enjoy reading about others who share a similar passion for escaping the urban sprawl of Southern California through wilderness treks. When I come across a good outside blog or similar site, I will often keep coming back to it, pouring through pages of remote hikes and discoveries with eagerness. Some of my favorite, non-fishing blogs and websites to peruse are below for you to enjoy as well:

Joe Idoni hikes to all sorts of airplane and helicopter crash sites. His writeups have intriguing backstories, information on on the particular planes involved (often Cold War relics), and fantastic photos with wreckage starkly contrasted to harsh, desert environments. I've hiked to the crashed plane in Vincent Gulch (video here) but otherwise can only dream of seeing these tragic wrecks on remote hikes. Highly recommended! 

Like it? Check out the Wreck Chasing community: http://www.wreckchasing.com


Ever spotted a distant slope that looked perfect for a ski run, but it appeared to be completely accessible, in the local mountains? I've seen plenty, and while I don't ski (for now), I really enjoyed reading the excellent trips on Sierra Descents that are situated in the local Southern California mountains. Check out one of my favorite trip report(s) here, and hold as Andy Lewicky takes you into the San Gabriel back country to a truly hidden gem:

Let's not forget hiking! While it may not be as adrenalin pumping as dropping into a near vertical, virgin ski slope (couloir?), hiking is my passion and has its own rewards. Hikin' Jim, a helpful hiker that often posts on local hiking forums (San Gab Mt Forum, r/socalhiking), has a wealth of information tucked away on his blog. His hike into the depths of Whitewater Canyon is impressive to read and accompanied by excellent photos (as well as some of the best CalTopo maps around)

Now, I explore plenty of local canyons while looking for finned friends, but I have never dropped in using rapelling and other technical gear. The exploits of local canyoneers is awe inspiring, and one of the most talked about it Scott Swaney, a legend in such circles. He has explored many local San Gab and San Bern canyons, but his current track to conquer countless Death Valley canyons is nothing short of amazing. Read the OutsideOnline writeup, then check out his RopeWiki page about Death Valley with the map of all the places he's been. Feel like dropping into a 400ft canyon?

Unfotunately, with so much adventure to be had outside, mishaps do occur, and can be fatal. The recent case of the lost Joshua Tree hiking couple illustrates such tragedies. But what about those that are never found, year after year, seemingly swallowed by the vast expanses of desert? Tom Manhood, a veteran Search and Rescue operative, has some of the most detailed and extensive writeups about search, (often on his own) for the remains of those that society has long stopped looking for:
http://www.otherhand.org/home-page/search-and-rescue/the-hunt-for-the-death-valley-germans/ VERY long but fascinating, and horrifying at the same time. Excellent example of how to get lost in a very, very dangerous place. Never underestimate the elements)


Lastly, have an itch for buried treasure? http://www.treasurenet.com
All sorts of local hikers and miners post here, with their "treasures" including many from Southern California. I need a metal detector! 

Late Fall Trout Creek Exploration



Despite my familiarity with many local Southern California streams, there are countless others that I have not yet explored in detail, or even ventured to yet. Of these, I was able to fish two (loosely using the term fishing, as you'll see) just a few days ago. 

Gotta love that cold late fall sun

These particular creeks are absolutely raging in the spring during snow runoff. Both, reportedly, have a variety of trout; and I've caught trout in the lower reaches of one. Thus, I headed out with eager expectations.
Supposed to be a creek here

However, upon arrival, it was clear that fishing wasn't going to be the major player in this trip. Both creeks were dismally low, with barely a trickle of water running in the first one. Both were nearly completely covered in fall leaves, choking pools and riffles alike. In the first creek, I spotted perhaps 1-2 pools at best that might hold fish, and the largest one didn't yield a single strike.


Really a fantastic little canyon

Water?

The second creek definitely had larger pools, including a beautiful 3ft deep one with excellent cover. However, it too was barely running, and previously innudated rapids were high and dry. Made several casts with a dry fly / dropper rig, but also failed to hook anything save a couple of leaves. I spent another few minutes scanning the pool from above - also appeared lifeless.


This area had 4ft of water last time...

Southern California trout fishing, at least for wild trout, is full of highs and lows - this was a low as far as fishing is concerned, but still a successful trip in getting outside, getting a workout while bumbling around massive boulders and steep drops, and also checking off another couple of spot on my mental trout fishing list. This is par for the course while fishing in local SoCal mountains - lots of planning, "blue lining" on maps, scouting out old reports, and then finally making the trip - boom or bust!


More water, just not enough

The best part? I was outside, in beautiful, crisp, clear fall weather, high in the mountains, away from traffic and crowds. I'll take that anyday!

Micro Fishing Lures Update: Video Reviews!




Hi all! Remember the Micro Fishing Lures post from several years ago? I've added a little update to my collection of such lures, this time in the form of several videos, see above.

They still catch fish!