Brad Bennett’s favourite things of 2021

Happy Holidays everyone, and I hope 2022 is great for all of us! I also wanted to say thanks for reading MobileSyrup and my content <3.

There was a ton of great gear this year, and I got to test out a lot of it. Honourable mentions this year are definitely going to the iPad mini and the OnePlus Buds Pros. I’d be remiss, not to mention my ongoing saga of jacket tests. And finally, I got to test out some cool cars this year so shout out to the Polestar 2, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and the Taycan again.

Without further ado, these are my top things from 2021.

Film cameras

Near the end of the summer, my girlfriend Alex and I started dipping our toes into the world of film photography. Alex got a pretty sweet manual Pentax SLR, and I found a Canon point and shoot, both used 35mm film, and we were off to the races.

Since then, I’ve acquired quite a few point-and-shoot cameras, and it’s been fun to have a small camera with me all the time that’s not my phone. The intention is to get an SLR someday, but for now, learning the weird nuances of these cameras has been fun enough. For instance, the Canon camera has an odd long exposure mode that will only activate automatically when you turn on the timer and leave it on a flat surface untouched.

If you’re interested in me chronicling the film photography journey, make sure to follow me on Twitter to see some of my best snaps.


When you start photography, there is a lot to learn that it’s hard to grasp all of the advice and techniques that people offer. Well, a few years later than I’d like, I finally started buying lights and stepping up my photos that way, and it’s been a game-changer. More lamps, more studio lights and more RGB have all amounted to me taking better pictures in darker places because I don’t need to rely on the ambient lighting in a room as much.

Finding different ways to light people for videos has been incredibly fun. Looking back through the podcast episodes on YouTube, you can see how my understanding of lighting and framing through lighting has grown over the year. I’m in no way pro yet and still have a ton of learning to do, but my appreciation for good lighting grows every day, and I’m hoping I can grow as much in lighting in 2022 as I did in 2021.

MacBook pro

At the pandemic’s start, I was using a base model 2016 MacBook Pro. However, since it looked like we would work from home for the next year, I decided to build a PC and invest in it instead of a laptop. Thus, I haven’t had a competent laptop for the last few years. Sure I could blog like a pro on that machine, but the photo and video editing were impossibly slow, and the battery on it didn’t last long anymore.

When Apple launched the M1 machines, I almost jumped but decided to wait. I had a feeling that Apple would redesign the machines to go along with the new chips soon enough. So when the new 14-inch MacBook Pro dropped, I decided to go for it. My first unit (10-core 14-inch base model) wasn’t powerful enough or glitched and didn’t work well at all. My replacement has more RAM and storage, and it’s been a lot better.

So far, the standout features of it to me are the SD card slot, the super colourful screen and the speakers. macOS could do a few things to catch up to Windows 11, but I’m happy to be back in the Mac world for now.

Xpan mode

OnePlus has let me down this year. There are no doubts about it. The company’s phones have been very buggy, and the move over to ColorOS and Android 12 has been choppy and embarrassing.

Still, I pick up my OnePlus 9 Pro all the time now since it has an excellent XPan camera mode. You can read more about it here, but the gist is that it takes an extensive photo that looks more like a movie frame than a regular square photo. Hasselblad also developed a slightly tweaked colour science for XPan mode that is richer and warmer to me than the regular photos, so they look great without editing.

Hopefully, OnePlus can solve its software bugs moving forwards, and the next phone also has XPan mode.


I never really thought about drones as flying cameras until this year, and it’s been a real switch for me. Even tiny drones like the DJI Mini 2 can take awesome images, and big drones like the DJI Mavic 3 feel like cheating; they’re so fun to use.

Drone laws are a bit of a pain in Canada, but with a bit of practice, anyone can fly, and anyone can fly the Mini 2 since it’s under the legal weight limit. Hopefully, we’ll have even more drone coverage on the site in 2022!

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