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If you have a DSLR camera that you bought within the last three years or so, chances are you can shoot high definition video with it.

And that’s pretty great… you can get into video for the price of a still camera. Or can you?

It’s never so simple.

While the camera might be the same, almost everything else is different.

From the tripod to the lighting, video calls for equipment that is totally different than for photography.

For instance, I thought I could get away with an old Manfrotto tripod I wasn’t using anymore because it was heavy and just put on a cheap fluid head I bought from eBay. No, I could not do that. Yes, it would marginally work but for smooth pans, the legs of the tripod – without spreaders common to video tripods – were unstable and so my shots were unstable as well. In addition, that setup was hard to level. With a video head, you can level it in a flash.

I bought a dedicated video tripod and immediately noticed the difference. I relegated the makeshift tripod for locked-down shots on a second camera until I eventually bought a second video tripod.

If you have strobe lights or flashes for your photography, you’ll know at once you can’t use those for video. You need a continuous light source. There are many options – from cheap Chinese LED lights to HMI, tungsten and fluorescent lights.  There is a world of lighting to choose from.

For me, I chose two Chimera triolet lights with softboxes, which are tungsten but can accept fluorescent bulbs, a Chimera birdcage lantern, and later, a Lowel Omni and Pro-light, both with accessories. I also have a couple of LED lights that have worked well when I don’t need a blast of light.

One thing to remember: LED lights stay relatively cool while tungsten gets very hot. You can’t use your old softboxes and umbrellas with them unless they are heat resistant. The good news? You can use your old lightstands.

One thing photographers never have to deal with is sound. Your DSLR has a little microphone built in. Don’t ever use it. The old saying goes, audio is 60 percent of video and that’s pretty true. Your viewers might be able to forgive shaky footage (hey, it’s a style, right?) but lousy audio? Uh-uh.

Beachtek and Juiced Link both have pre-amps that you can attach a microphone. Those rigs then can feed directly into the camera’s microphone input. That will give you pristine sound directly into your memory card and you don’t have to sync sound in post.

That only works for me a little bit because I use two cameras in most of my shoots. My two cameras, the Canon 5D Mark II, have a 12-minute recording limit. If I hook up, say, my Juiced Link Riggy on one camera, what happens when I have to restart the camera because of the time limit? I’ll likely lose a bit of audio. It’s okay if I’m using one camera – all’s good. But two, and it makes me uneasy.

My solution, previously, was to record separate audio on a Zoom H4N. Now, I use a Tascam DR60 but it is virtually the same premise. These two recording devices have XLR inputs and have phantom power. What’s phantom power? It’s where the microphone doesn’t have its own source of power and needs to rely on the recording device. A simple switch on those units allows you to use microphones that  need power.

I started out using Rode Video Mics on my cameras but I soon learned the audio wasn’t the quality I wanted. Now I use those on my cameras but only to record scratch tracks so I have pretty good audio to synch my sound in post production.

Does synching audio in post  sound intimidating? Don’t worry, it’s easy. You can do it by ear, which I did at the beginning, but better yet is a program called PluralEyes 3 that will knock your socks off with how fast it syncs sound to your pictures. It’s worth every penny.

And finally, microphones? I use two kinds and I use two kinds on almost every shoot I produce. One, a shotgun mic and two, a lavalier. A shotgun is a directional mic that you’ll most likely see on a boom pole or C-stand. A lavalier is a little lapel mic that attaches to your talent. For my money, I like the sound of the shotgun. But you never know which mic will be better for your purposes. I always record two sources of audio because of all the things that can go wrong, you can’t fake sound.

So in a nutshell, if I am picking essential items to start in video, I would pick a dedicated video tripod and fluid head (monopods are nice, too, but make sure it is also a video monopod); continuous lighting that works best for your situations; and an audio kit that allows you to get clear, beautiful sound.

There are so many other add-on items – monitors, Steadicams, sliders, etc., that can add convenience and production values to your videos – but you need these essentials and you’ll be well on your way to making a quality video.

 

By Diana Lundin

Diana Lundin Photography
Curious Cat Productions

By David Mao:

Although I wouldn’t go so far as to call myself a professional photographer, I have certainly come a long way since I purchased my first DSLR. I have gone from once only marveling at the wonder that was manual focusing, to now having shot engagement parties, graduation portraits, composite headshots, and many other formal events.

Along my journey, I have undergone the seemingly never-ending cycle of equipment upgrades, as have the millions of photographers before me. There are a variety of reasons why one may wish to upgrade his or her photography equipment: sharper images, better contrast and saturation, creamier bokeh, faster aperture, different focal length, etc. But if you haven’t realized already, photography isn’t cheap—good glass will burn massive holes in your wallet. Luckily for me, I have received a lot of help from more established photographers about how to save money throughout the process. Today, I’m writing this post to pass on the knowledge to those of you who are where I was when I first started, and are thinking about taking the steps toward bringing your photography to the next level.

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Good Glass is Forever

Okay, not really. But for most people, I would recommend investing in quality lenses before upgrading the camera body. There are many reasons for this. For the same amount of money, better glass will result in a significantly larger improvement than will a better camera body.

Lenses also hold their value better than do camera bodies. Camera bodies, especially entry-level DSLRs, are often replaced. Canon releases a new iteration of their Rebel series DSLRs ever year, and replaces their higher end DSLRs, such as the 5D series, once every 4-5 years. Compare that with their lenses—the current Canon 35 L lens was released in 1998 and the Canon 135 L lens was released in 1996. Both have not undergone a single change in over 15 years. With that, it makes sense to invest in a lens that most likely will not be outdated in a couple years rather than a camera body. The resale value of a lens (more on that later) holds better for that reason. Once you have a solid arsenal of lenses, you can upgrade your camera body. But watch out! Many people upgrade their crop-sensor camera bodies to full-frame bodies. Some lenses, such as the EF-S lineup for Canon and the DX lineup for Nikon, only work on crop-sensor camera bodies, so keep that in mind if you ever plan to upgrade to a full-frame camera body.

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Find Your Focal Lengths

Before purchasing lenses willy-nilly, I recommend you take some time to think about what you want to shoot and find the corresponding focal lengths. Are you mainly planning on doing portraits? If so, you should start off with a 50mm or higher prime lens. Both Canon and Nikon’s 50mm f/1.8 is a great starting prime lens for portraits, especially on a crop sensor camera body. Are you planning on taking photos of your children’s sports games? If so, you might want to invest in a telephoto zoom lens. Landscape? Probably a wide-angle lens. Play around with the focal lengths of your current lenses. If you have a kit lens, set it to 18mm and see if you like it. Do you want it wider? Or do you want a longer focal length than your kit lens can provide? I would recommend you go to a store and try out a lens to see if the focal length works for you before investing hundreds of dollars in a purchase.

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Prime Lenses versus Zoom Lenses

This boils down to two factors: what you want to do with photography and how much money you’re willing to spend. Unless you primarily do events in which moving around is difficult, I would recommend you start off investing in prime lenses. For the same amount of money, prime lenses offer exceptional quality when compared to zoom lenses. To illustrate why, say Canon has $500 to spend manufacturing a lens. Zoom lenses are much more complicated—they need a ton of moving parts and tubes for their zoom capabilities. Because of that, Canon would have to spend a good chunk of the money into making sure those parts work. Compare that to a prime lens—because they don’t zoom, these lenses are much more simple. Therefore, Canon would have more money to spend on the glass itself. There is general consensus that for pure image quality, you cannot match a zoom lens to a prime lens counterpart. So unless you’re willing to spend 2-3 times the amount for a high-end zoom lens, a prime lens will deliver much better quality photos. I personally shoot with all prime lenses—my primary go-to lenses being the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art and the Canon 85mm f/1.8.

 

Buying and Selling

I recommend two paths to take in order to save money when it comes time to purchase your equipment. The first is to use Greentoe.com. I have saved hundreds and hundreds of dollars by using this site. For example, several months ago, I purchased a brand new Canon 6D for $400 off the retail price!! Also, their staff and customer service is truly top notch. I have started threads recommending the company on photography forums, and have seen only positive feedback from the community. The second, if you would rather save more money, is to buy used gear. Now this is definitely more risky than buying new equipment from Greentoe, but you can save even more money. There are several great sites to buy and sell equipment that I strongly recommend over typical buy/sell sites like Craigslist and eBay. Photography-on-the.net and Fred Miranda both have great marketplaces for used equipment, as well as excellent forums for photographers of all levels. Their communities are full of knowledgeable and established photographers. I purchased my Canon 6D, tripod, and high end lens filters from Greentoe and several of my lenses, used, from photography-on-the.net.

Those are the basic tips that I have! Hopefully you’ve found them to be helpful. If you have any further questions, feel free to reach out to me on my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/davidmaophotography or at davidmaophotography@gmail.com.

 

Happy shooting!

We sat down with Alex Munoz this week to discuss his thoughts on camera lens calibration.

Here is an interview of Alex from Alex Munoz Visual Arts in Los Angeles, CA.

Stay focused!

I am sure you have had that experience before: you took a great picture with either a new lens, or one you’ve had for a while, and later you notice how the image is out of focus. The higher the actual resolution of your camera sensor, and the lower the maximum aperture, the more likely this is going to happen. Without going too much into the technical details, let’s just say that the increased resolution on your camera, combined with the shallow dept of field at lower apertures, contributes to actually noticing an out of focus image. Incorrect focusing would have ruined he image below.

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Hit the spot

There are many reasons for having out of focus images, such as the photographer not focusing properly, camera shake, subject movement, lens flare, or incorrect focus adjustment. While all these issues are very common, this post will detail how to correct a lens through micro adjustments, if it is focusing improperly. Sometimes you can read online reviews about lenses, and how the reviewer claims that a lens is not sharp at its largest aperture (open widest), but how it becomes sharper as it is being stepped down (aperture is becoming smaller). Often this is the result of a focus misalignment, and not a design flaw or defect of the lens.

Now keep in mind, and you may know this already, the wider the aperture, the shallower the depth of field. Stepping down a lens then will increase its depth of field, and observing a sharper image is often the result of the lens having more parts of the image in focus. Yes, there are other factors at play that may reduce clarity and sharpness on wide open lenses, but don’t be surprised when I tell you that very often a micro focus adjustment can significantly improve the sharpness of these lenses. So what is micro focus adjustment and how can it be done?

Tack sharp

Many modern DSLR’s and mirrorless cameras offer micro focus adjustment. What this basically does is applying a minimal correction to the focus acquired by the camera in combination with the lens. Commonly these micro adjustments range from +20 to -20 steps. Because micro adjustment is made at the highest possible aperture, doing this reliably can be a challenge. There are however tools out there that make it very easy. I am personally using the SpyderLensCal, but there are other solutions out there as well.

All we have to do is take an image and look at the ruler on the right side. If the sharpest point on the image is on the 0, we are properly calibrated, if it is at any number below that, our lens is front focusing, and if it is above that, we are acquiring focus behind our target. All we now have to do is either increase, or decrease our micro focus adjustment values inside the camera. The picture below shows how that looks on a Nikon D800 before adjustment and where the lens is focusing in front of the automatically determined focus point:

before.jpg

 

After our adjustments we take another image and get the following result:

after.jpg

 

As you can see, the lens is now calibrated and focuses as good as it can (in this case it’s actually tack sharp wide open), meaning that images will be as sharp and detailed as possible with the optics inside that particular lens. Please make sure that you repeat this procedure for all your lenses, as each lens has to be adjusted individually. You may find that some lenses focus perfectly, whereas others cannot be adjusted properly at all. In such a case, you have to send your lens to an authorized service center, as they are able to calibrate or fix these problematic lenses internally. Newer lenses from Sigma also allow you to use a USB dock (sold separately), which then can be used to calibrate the lens internally as well, without the need to send it to a service center.

Can you see me now?

Next time you think your lens is not sharp enough, consider checking whether you are not spot focusing, and whether your lens needs a micro focus adjustment. Out of all the lenses I use professionally, I had only one lens that I was unable to calibrate myself, and with my other lenses, micro focus adjustment has made a huge difference whenever the lens was not calibrated properly.

 

-Alex Munoz

Alex Munoz Visual Arts

Would you like to name your own price on new cameras, TVs, appliances, baby products, and more? Well then look no farther!

Greentoe provide’s you with a great new way to shop online. You just need to select your product and name your price. Then we check with our certified retailers to see if they will meet your price. The first retailer to agree gets the sale and ships your product!

Name Your Price

There is no catch and no service fees. Your offer price even includes taxes, shipping and includes a 14 day return policy. We save you time and money.

t3i giveawayToday, we are pleased to announce that we are giving away a FREE Canon Rebel T3i DSLR Camera with EF-18-55mm IS II Lens Kit!

 CLICK HERE TO ENTER

We sat down with Matt Harris this week to discuss his views on the Canon 60D.  

Here is an interview of Matt from Soul Studio 7 in Los Angeles, CA.

 

When people ask me what DSLR I recommend, i usually recommend the Canon 60D.

I do also love the flagship 5D and 7D as well as the entire line of Canon Rebel’s.

The 5D and the 7D (having been used on thousands of photoshoots and video productions
worldwide over the past 4 years) are certainly industry standard for professionals, and the Rebel line
is perfect for amateurs, hobbyists and even pros alike.

But the 60D is the best value in terms of camera functions and price, for my money, it’s a fantastic mid-range DSLR.

Here are some of the features that make the Canon 60D stand out:

—————-

1. THE SWIVEL SCREEN

It bright and accurate and pops out, rotates, flips from front to back, it’s awesome.
If you flip it forward you can hold the camera and shoot video of yourself or photos
of you and your family while holding the camera and framing the photo accurately.
Now that I’ve been spoiled with this feature, it’s pretty tough to go back to using a
DSLR where the screen is fixed and static.

2. THE WHITE BALANCE

It’s ok to leave your camera on AWB or “Auto White Balance”, that will ensure that
the colors of your photos will be balanced no matter what lighting condition you are in.
AWB corrects for tungsten light, or fluorescent, or daylight etc…

But sometimes I want to experiment with different white balances for different lighting set ups
and play with different color temperatures just for fun, and the Canon 60D has all the tools i need.

Not only does it have the typical settings like shade, cloud, daylight, tungsten etc.,
the Canon 60D also gives us an actual color temperature display so we can dial
in the exact color calculations from an iPad or light meter.

3. THE ERGONOMICS

The Canon 60D just feels good in your hands, it’s that simple. The handle sports a tactile
black rubber grip and seems to relieve my hand from sweat and fatigue. The camera body weight is
just right, not too heavy and not too light, but enough to make you feel like you’re holding
something sturdy. Drop proof? I don’t know or care to find out, but my guess is that it would
hold up to a few drops. The Canon 60D is not advertised as “weather proof” but it does hold up well
on the beach, in the desert and in light rain, although that’s not a guarantee, just my experience with it.

4. THE PHOTOS & VIDEO

I shoot a lot of video, the Canon 60D shoots the exact same 1080p video as the higher priced 7D and
the lower priced Canon Rebel line. The video is professional and the camera can be manually focused and
manually color balanced and exposed. The photos from the camera are, as expected, top notch. I personally
don’t use the photo scene selections very much, but they are handy to have when you want to quickly dial in the best
settings for sports or for shooting flowers or whatever.

5. THE CREATIVE FILTERS

The Canon 60D offers creative filters in your menu to process your photos in camera. This does not effect the original
image of course, but makes a duplicate. While some might prejudge the mere thought of these presets as cheesy,
I can honestly say they are a blast. There’s a grainy B&W look with three variations, a “toy camera” cross processed sort of
look with three color tint options, a soft focus filter perfect for portraits or dreamy hazy looks, and lastly a “miniature” look
similar to the blur effect in Instagram. I often mix and match these filters and play with my photos in camera, they’re a lot of fun and
Canon really got these filters to produce a nice look on your images. Don’t skip past this feature on the 60D!

6. MANUAL AUDIO

Lastly, manual audio when shooting video. What a game-changing feature for a guy like me who runs-and-guns a lot of video
shooting. You can plug a nice shotgun mic, a boom or a lab right into the 60D and get pro audio, incredible!

—————-

So there you go, that’s my Canon 60D push. All of the Canon DSLR’s are strong, and many have different features from one another,
you really can’y go wrong. But if these features I layed out seem worthwhile to you, then check out the Canon 60D!

-Matt Harris
Soul Studio 7, LLC

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There is a new concept making waves in the e-commerce world. A site called www.greentoe.com launched and now consumers finally have the ability to name their price on products. For thousands of years, mankind has been haggling/negotiating. Priceline.com did this with travel services. However, no one, until now has provided this service for consumer products. At Greentoe.com, consumers can name their price on electronics, photography equipment, baby products, appliances, and music equipment. Before Greentoe.com, consumers will spend endless hours scouring the web trying to find a better price only to realize that most sites are selling the same product for the same price. But, now that you “haggle” directly with a vast network of certified retailers, the power is going back to the consumer. It is a very simple process: you goto the site, find the product you want via search or drop-down menus with filters, you choose your price, you enter your credit card and the first retailer to meet your offer makes the sale. It is that simple.

Greentoe has seen tremendous traction and interest both from shoppers and retailers. Shoppers save time and money, retailers increase sales and find new customers. They both like the concept because retailers need compete with Amazon on price. But, until now, didn’t have a way to accept a lower price than what is on their website. Consumers, can save time by not having to drive around from store to store dealing with salespeople and they save money because they can offer below retail and actually get the deal they wanted without the hassle.

The founders of Greentoe (Joe Marrapodi and Andrew Kurland) have a vision where this new concept will revolutionize the way people shop for everything. They are expanding the product categories to computers and video games in the next few weeks.

You can learn more at www.greentoe.com or watch this 1-min video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-01TEtneVU.

Thanks,

Joe

CEO/Co-Founder

 

 

 

Here is our first “Guest Photographer Post” by BETH YORN.

 

I have fallen in and out of love with all sorts of point and shoot cameras over the years. My first favorite was the Panasonic Lumix LX3. An affordable camera that was rumored to pack the same punch as its expensive Leica counterpart. How was this possible? Panasonic body, Leica lens. I loved this camera and when I go back and review the photos I took with it over the years I am still wowed by the crispness, color and the quality of the photos. But technology gets better and every year another company is tempting me with the newest flashiest camera. My problem with the LX3 was always the zoom, or lack of. I could never quite reach that image in the distance. So onto the Canon G10. Wow, what an awesome camera. I have taken amazing photos of the moon with this camera. Yes, THE MOON! One shot was in Hawaii. They had a stargazing station set up with a big telescope on the beach. I wondered, could my G10 actually shoot through a telescope? Low and behold, it sure could. This camera was with me for a long time, until I dropped it down the side of a mountain. I brushed the dirt off and tried to ignore the scratches on the LCD screen but it never was the same. I was excited to upgrade to the G11 but to be honest I hated the flip screen in the back. The G10 was a solid piece of equipment and as Canon continues to promise more upgrades and higher mega pixels with flashy new features I just get more and more frustrated. The quality of the camera just suffers. At the end of the day I just want my old G10 back. So now what? Im at a crossroads. It is an exciting time…. which point and shoot can I be tempted by next? And in a year will it end up in the same basket with all my old point and shoots? Right next to my underwater camera, the one that I bought for vacation in Thailand. A waste? Never. That running man photo with the fish will forever make me smile.
Beth Yorn is also the owner of: www.ebelljewelry.com
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LX3OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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We are proud to present a new series of blog posts.  The official “Greentoe.com Guest Photographer Blog Posts”.   Greentoe.com has commissioned well known photographers to post on the official Greentoe.com blog.  The content will range from personal stories to product reviews to handy tips on how to be a better photographer.   We would like to thank all of the guests for their time.

Have you heard of Greentoe.com?  Well, you soon will.  Why?  Because, it is one of the coolest new e-commerce sites to hit the scene in a long time.  You may ask, “What is so cool about e-commerce?”  After all, it is 2012 and there are billions of e-commerce sites out there.  The reason that it’s awesome is because it is the only site of it’s kind where you (the consumer) pick the price you want to pay for the products you want to buy.  All the other 4.8 billion sites dictate the price of products.  They tell you what is on sale and when.  Well, with greentoe.com, it is actually the opposite.  You pick the product you want to buy and then you name the price you want to pay for the product.

Currently, Greentoe.com’s focus is consumer electronics including cameras, televisions, appliances, and computers.  Just in time for Holiday shopping.  Talk about great timing!  The search feature on greentoe.com is great.  You just type in the product you want.  Then, it returns results with product shots, product reviews, and it even scans the web for the lowest price.  But, that’s not all it does.  It gives you an idea of what you should offer as a “What we think” price.  Where else can you name your price for a product and have free guidance to go along with it?

Between Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus and others, there are literally thousands of cameras to choose from.  With Greentoe.com, you can sort by brand, resolution, LCD screen size, price, and whether the lens is included.

If you are putting together a home entertainment system, you can choose from brands like Bose, Coby, Denon, Harmon Kardon, and LG Electronics.  So, pick your favorite brand, pick the price you want to pay, and there you have it, an epic and booming sound system.

School is back in session.  The time is right for getting a deal on laptops from brands such as Acer, Fujitsu, HP, Panasonic, and Samsung.  Greentoe.com incorporates expert and user reviews all right at your fingertips.  Being able to name the price you want to pay is the main function of Greentoe.com.  But, the one-stop shop for reviews surely saves time.  Don’t forget the old saying – “Time is money”.

The holidays are around the corner and who has time to drive around town looking for the best price?  No one.  With traffic and gas prices at almost $5/gallon, you will save money, time, and feel comfortable that you were able to get the best deal possible.  The best part is you can track your offers in the “My Offers” section.  So, you can do your holiday shopping for all your friends and family.

With a huge selection, a very easy to use navigation, slick product shots, reviews, and price information, Greentoe.com is around to stay.  So, whether you are buying a , a Samsung , an LG Dryer, an HP Laptop, or maybe even Beats by Dre headphones, Greentoe.com is the place to go.

“Are you different?” What makes someone or something unique? I suppose at this point you might be wondering, “How exactly is GreenToe.com different from all the other online retailers?”  It’s a natural question to ask – after all, look what they all have in common: they’re all websites, they all list thousands of items for sale, there are reviews, you pick which item you want…and voila!  A few days later it arrives at your house in a nice, recyclable cardboard box.  All you have to do is agree to pay the listed sale price, a little shipping, and you’re golden.

That’s the way the online retail world works these days.  Sadly, it’s a far cry from the good old days where you could walk into a store and negotiate a better price according to the timeless economic principle of supply and demand.  As everyone knows, when supply is high and demand is low, you’re going to get a good deal.  I’m talking anywhere from 20%, 30%…even 50% percent off.  If a storeowner had an item he needed to unload, something is better is than nothing, after all.  Great deals are happening all the time, all around the country.  You just have to do the legwork – and have a little bit of luck to find those deals.

And that is what makes Greentoe.com different from all the others.  You don’t have to be at all lucky – or do any legwork.  Greentoe.com has come up with a way to pair up sellers with products that need to go with buyers who are looking to find a great deal.

Whereas the other online retailers charge a set price, at Greentoe.com, YOU name the price you want to pay for the product you want to buy.  Then Greentoe’s system automatically notifies our vast network of brick & mortar retailers to see if anyone who has your item is willing to part with it for the price you listed.  Sure, those retailers want to make as much profit as they can but, at the same time, sometimes it’s more important for them to clear up a little space on the shelf.  So you never really know how low an offer you can make until you try.

Greentoe.com has taken the best of both worlds.  It pairs the convenience of online shopping with the price flexibility of in-person negotiation.  The best part is, in Greentoe’s system, everyone wins.  You get the best deal you can and the online retailer gets to unload merchandise that he’s at risk of taking a loss on.  Plus you get to do this all from the comfort of your own home.  No driving all over the city, spending time you don’t have, and paying for gas you’d rather not.  No uncomfortable in-store negotiations.  No more wasted time.  Just log on to Greentoe.com, find the item you are interested in from our huge catalog, and make an offer.  It costs absolutely nothing to try.  You have nothing to lose, only time and money to save.  Check out greentoe.com today.