Yet another review right before NAB. Busy week between shooting and getting ready, then off to the show ! See you there.
Yet another review right before NAB. Busy week between shooting and getting ready, then off to the show ! See you there.
Click on image for full size frame
Real image from real job in progress right now. 1080p24 ProRes 422 (record on ninja2 via HDMI ) vs AVChd 24 on C100. Winner is ? You tell me ! both images are keyed using Ultra Keyer in Premiere Pro CC 7.2. Do you see any real difference ? Look hard. Guess what, on a still frame there is no real difference. When playing I can see some compression artifacts in the AVChd version but they are small. Both key equally as well. Impossible ? no. The green means that the AVChd codec isn't working nearly as hard as if it had an image filled with detail to compress. The codec is working easy and produced some great results for what it was even with 4:2:0 color space. This of course comes back to what I say a lot - get it right in camera and even a 8bit 4:2:0 GOP codec can be ok. Its only when you start pushing that codec with extreme color corrections, too much detail and motion that it can fall apart. Under these circumstances 422 intraframe codecs may do better. may do better, maybe not. I'm not totally sold that just because its more bits that it will produce a better image automatically. In fact given the GOP efficiency it might not matter.
Sometimes I think I see some very minor differences in the skin tones. I think the ProRes has a bit more gradation than the AVChd....sometimes. I can see the noise in the image is a bit cleaner in ProRes vs some compression artifacts in the AVChd. This is watching the images on a 42" LG screen closer than I should be looking.
Do you know what I'd like to see ? a short GOP h.264 codec of say 5 frames, 4:2:2 and 10bit. Certainly possible in the spec, you just have to set your encoder to do it. With this sort of compression at 150-200mbits I bet it would make for very reasonable file sizes and outstanding quality. You could even push it to 12bit for RAW recording. Anyone tried it yet ?
I've been talking about these lights for a while and using them on jobs, getting to know them. Above I'm mixing in the quad 48 LED emitter with an HMI while using a dual 24 emitter as a back light. How can you use an LED light as a back light from 10 feet away ? well because these lights actually are focused and throw the light a pretty decent distance. They aren't like the common panel light with simple wide angle LED's of various grades of quality. Below is a look at what makes them work from the inside :
You can see the LED emitters and the nice photograde polycarbonate lenses that diffuse the direct sources a bit. You can also see the big custom anodized heat sinks. These lights are made from modules of 12 LED's to make 12, 24 and 48 emitter units. The circuit boards the LED's are soldered into are are made not of typical fiberglass but METAL ! Your read that right, medical spec product here. This greatly adds to sinking the heat the LED's make. The boards themselves are glued with a special heating conducting silicone glue that's VERY expensive but does the perfect job in securing things and conducting the heat away. Mil spec product like is never cheap, but it always works great.
While LED's get billed as "cool" lights, they do in fact make heat. They typically emit heat towards the back of the unit. If you don't get rid of the heat you burn the LED's out rather quickly. So heat management is important to LEDs and thats why these lights are made so well. These units have no fans which is a major boost in keeping a reliable life thanks to this mil spec fabrication. The heat sinks will get warm during operation, but never hot.
Next are the CREE high CRI of 94 LED's. They aren't cheap to say the least, but that's what it takes right now to create an LED light of true cinema quality. If you take high per unit cost X 24 or 48 emitters you can see how the price of these lights gets up there.
The benefits of high CRI is important. While you can filter out green with gels ( minor light loss ) or camera white balance ( sometimes ) you run into problems with mixed sources. If you mix sources the only option is minus green gels in 1/8, 1/4 or 1/2 values.
The other place CRI makes a difference is in gelling the lights to other color temps. These lights are 4300K. That might seem odd but that was done because these LED's have the highest CRI possible right now and thats the color temp they are made in. Going to 5200-5600K would drop the CRI. I have a 5600K LED that if you gel it to 3200 goes pretty visible green because of its spikey performance. That's a CHEAP ebay light. Using a 4300K light also works perfect in a lot of office environments lit with overhead florescent lights. Often all I'm using in these situations are diffusion. 4300 also means minimal light loss when going to 5200 or 3200. SInce these lights have throw to them gelling doesn't hurt very much. Even when using correction gels I still have these lights dimmed to 50% or 75% !
I love the compact size. 2 of the dual lights with power supplied and AC power cables are easy to travel with including airline friendly case. I could easily put 3 lights into a case and still be under 50lbs. If that matters, this is a big deal.
Another thing I like are the dual ball swivel locks on the back. They make positioning and aiming these easy. Yes light a fresnel light they do need to be aimed to hit what you want to light up. Here is a look below at them on a shoot I did a few days ago for a national sports network at Lambough Field.
In the background of the camera shot there its all 3200K tungsten. In the foreground there was a mix of tungsten and 6000K daylight. We went direct with the 4300K which got the background a little bit warm but still nice. The daylight that was spilling into the talent was simply washed away. You can see how these lights are throwing from 6-8 ft back from the talent. There's not wasted light being dumped all over the place like panel lights... not that I don't have some panel lights and have uses for them too !
The entire power draw is an amazing 60W per light. This easily could of been a dual 500 or 1K tungsten & gel shot or 400W HMI's. They are also dimmed to about 80% for better balance with the background.
These lights have a XLR4 DC 12V input for alternate power options. I haven't gotten around yet to getting some Anton Bauer plates with XLR4's on them but I will eventually. a 120W Hytron will run these for 2 hrs straight. Given the nature of live shots, we could shoot all day just turning them on when needed. Without the warm up of HMI's you can go live at a moments notice if you get the call.
Above : Another ESPN shoot at Lambau Field With Bob Holzman as talent, Chris Hibben on camera. I have the quad 48 working as key, and the 24's as fill and hair light. The big flex fill is bouncing back in some good light and blocking out some bad light. Went live quite a few times during the day with Packers updates.
Another nonobvious feature of these lights are the internal driver boards. They make 250fps safe light. Try that with cheap LED's and even some of the expensive ones and you won't be happy, you'll have flicker. While shooting high speed isn't something you do everyday, its nice to know these can play in the mix up to a reasonable point.
The problem has been that most people expect these lights are $300 because of the cheap panel lights coming out of China. The problem is the parts in these lights cost more than that, never mind labor, machining, anodize and powder coating, and even, well, how about some profit so the lights can stay on and bills get paid ? Of course the question I'm going to ask - what would you be WILLING to pay for quality like this ? Post a comment and let me know, maybe there are one or two left you can have for yourself !
I know its been a while ! Check out some crazy cheap vintage lenses on my C100 and see if they measure up.
The Canon 24-105 F4 L is a pretty common lens. Canon had a bundle deal with the C100 and lots of others have picked this lens up along the way from their DSLR gear or other deals. So while I've worked with the lens before, this was my first time operating with it for the better part of the day rather than it being on some one else's rig.
First, yes its optical performance from wide to maybe 70mm is good, even wide open.
Next this is the first time I've had an IS lens and operating without a rig. Usually I've run into this lens with proper camera support that runs the gamut of gear. It was also me hand holding this lens. Now in the past I've used my rokinon 14mm cine on a 60D plus LCD VF with great success. Never had a problem keeping that setup steady and it was critical for making a lot of B roll on a project last year when the big camera couldn't work. I also work with the OM 50mm often in similar config for shooting close ups like in my soon to be released short film. That said, I'd never go past 50mm. Today I'm out shooting at 80-105mm, IS on, and getting really good shots. Shots I have no right to be getting even though I'm pretty steady to begin with. Oh I hear the I told you so's starting already. Honestly I've never had a need to shoot hand held like this before and I wasn't using a full size camera. I've always had some sort of camera support or lens combo that I could work with. So here I am shooting panning shots of a car driving down a country road at 105mm and, well, it looks _almost_ as good as if it had been shot on a tripod...or maybe a tripod that wasn't the best. There are points where you can see the IS sort of max out and then catch up, but by and large if I had tried this shot w/o IS it simply would not of been usable hand held. So I'm something of a convert now to IS for SOME shooting situations. I'm considering adding an IS / AF lens to my collection with the upcoming C100 continous focus upgrade simply for reality / doc shooting. For my normal type of work, this really isn't something I'd ever worry about.
Thats all the good about the 24-105. Now what I find unacceptable. The lens goes seriously dark at the 105 long end. Its not a 1/2 stop, its more like 1 to 2 stops dark. Marked as an L lens with constant F through out the zoom range this is a real misrepresentation. No surprised there are so many of them up on ebay. Its a good starter lens, but no one deserving an L designation. Ok, its got some rubber rings on it for weather sealing. That's great, that's valuable for some shooters, but its not a critical feature for everyone. If I can come into it for $500 on a canon deal I'd consider possibly keeping it but I think there are other options. One option is the canon 17-55 F2.8. Much better match for typical shooting on a S35 size sensor, an extra stop of light never hurts and makes for better bokeh.
The AF on this lens also tended to hunt around. I was never thrilled with my now gone Tamron 17-50 2.8 ( see the review ) and how it was slow for AF. Perhaps the AF upgrade to the C100 will make the lens better, but in simple shooting condition - head and shoulders shot, outside in overcast light, distant simple sky and field background the lens hunted around. I manual focused every shot because it was way faster. Sure that F4 doesn't help but I had a high enough ISO in daylight this should not of been an issue.
There you go. A lens with some real pluses and minuses. If the pluses like weather sealing are critical to you, the focal length range works for what you do, you shoot a lot of bare bones hand held and the slower F4 doesn't bother you this might be an ok lens. Me, I'm gonna try the Canon 17-55. Anyone care to say how their experience with this lens is ?
As I posted a week or so ago the C100 didn't fit my other rig on the baseplate I had. I did some searching. No I did a LOT of searching. Google image search turned up any number of images but I was being picky.
1. The C series cameras has a high lens center point, so you need a very low baseplate to make all your parts work like matte box and follow focus
2. I wanted a baseplate that had 2 points of locking contact per rod - this stops the rods from turning when you have a single rod attachment like monitor connected
3. great build quality if possible
There were a number of baseplates out there that could work. Some required a bridge plate to mount on adding another $75-$150 to the price. They also shipped from China with 2-4 weeks of shipping which wouldn't work for something happening this weekend !
Google search revealed this baseplate : Berkey Systems - it was made specifically for C series cameras, had 2 points of grab on the rails, all METAL construction, looked great in the pix, had a bottom that worked with my QR tripod plate or Arri baseplate with 17mm offset.
Downside ? one guess, it was pricey compared to the China imports, but !
I contacted Berkey systems. The owner of the company replied to my email a couple of hours later, answered my questions and even gave me 2 video clips to cover me. That's customer service ! Now Berkey Systems probably doesn't come to mind like a few other companies that make camera support gear but they have been around for 20 years ! A lot of what they make is grip gear for gags - rods, rails, joiners, corners to create practical rigs for on set use. However they also have nice collection of camera support items as well.
In emailing with Brian Berkey he talked about how they go through at least several versions of a product to get it right. This baseplate is a perfect example. It will grab your C series camera not just with the 1/4" and 3/8" threads, but also the 2 locking pins in the base. It fits like OEM gear should ! The fit and feel here are simply great. The top plate is held down with 6 allens so you can change it out, or the 1/4 or 3/8 screws if they every get damaged. You can access BOTH of the attachment screws from the bottom of the unit. The 2 grabbing screws are in fact Allen bolts they custom make. Berkey Systems supplied a ball head Allen driver with the baseplate to make adding this to any camera easy.
Once you mount the base plate onto the C series camera, its simply love. It fits, its not too big, not too small, it has just enough heft to let you know its there. Using high grade aluminum you'll see the details they added to this. For example each side of the plate can add either a 15mm rod clamp or Arri Rosette compatible mount.
Add a 15mm rod for building a cage, adding a monitor or whatever other gak you need. The Arri compatible rosette is another option for grips or handles. They are easy to add or remove with the supplied Allen bolts. If you look close you can see there is a relief in the machining of the side mounts. This means even if your bolts get loose, the mounts will still stay locked in place and not let you down. Its this sort of mil spec durable thoughtfulness that lets this thing ask the price it does. Really its not out of line with a few other top end companies asking about the same !
Once I slipped my stainless steel rods through from my old rig, then slid on the follow focus and matte box it was magic. My old set up didn't really make the rods 100% parallel. I always had this odd fight to slide stuff on or off, up or down the rods. This base plate is dead perfect parallel. My matte box mount bracket and follow focus slipped up and down the rods when loose with perfect ease. No more pulling and tugging ! I don't often praise a praise a product like this, so you know this is the real deal, something special and made in the USA.
Finding out that they are based near Minneapolis MN a couple of hours from me was bonus. Given my choice to send my money anywhere, I choose to send it close to home and get some totally first class camera support ! I'm perfectly happy with this product, which happens how often ? right... just get one for your C series camera and you wont' think twice about money more than well spent.
This is just a frame from some test shooting I did this weekend in Chicago. Quite simply put, this camera performs amazingly well in low light. I'm not even close to showing you what it will do with this shot. All I'll say right now is that I've used a lot of cameras and shot a lot of film and nothing makes images this clean at these light levels. I have a rough cut put together right now of the footage from this weekend and hopefully over the next couple of days I'll finish it up. The hard part will be getting some music youtube's copyright droids won't flag. That part has gotten pretty tiring while I see copyrighted material being monetized all the time and you know the poster digitized the content from VHS.... oh well, Iet me stay focused on shooting more tests. There have been several surprises in this process of getting to know the camera. The first is that the factory preset for C log artificially floats the black levels at what amounts to NTSC black level of 7.5 IRE to 13 IRE. Its more than annoying, its wasting precious gradation in an 8 bit format. I'm tweaking out a new Log setting to get around this. Back to work for me now !
This is the last week for the Canon C100 $1000 off deal. I came upon this very interesting comparison of a C100 recording to Ninja2 in ProRes vs 5D mk3 recording 14bit RAW via ML. Are there differences ? yes if you really look. I suspect some of them are simply due to the zoom lens on the 5D having a bit more flare going on. Other than that they are near identical to the casual viewer. All interesting as I consider what my next camera upgrade will be.
I have a shoot I'm doing prep for. I need to mount some GoPro's on racing mountian bikes. I've been doing testing with a few 3rd party mounting options to get better angles. We all like cheap, some of these were cheap, some weren't.
First up is this 200mm ( about 7" ) extension bracket. While the plastic seems similar to what the real GoPro stuff is made from, it flexes. In any use where vibration is a problem, like say bikes taking bumps and jumps this just won't work. It vibrates around too much. Its possible there are some uses for helmet mounting that might be ok, but certainly not for my purposes. It did get the camera to good positions for shots when in use. Bottom line : get the more expensive aluminum ones which really don't cost that much more.
Here are some samples from that bracket.
Next up is this clamp. I have a real black maffer clamp with ball head I use to mount GoPros and it works great. This mount looked much smaller and better able to grip round surfaces. It looked metal. Its not. Its plastic. While that wasn't so bad because it did offer what seemed to be good grip, the mounting point wiggled around pretty badly. I tried to tighten the mounted screw in it which helped a little bit, but still wiggly. I also tried a commerical grade plastic cement which had no effect. Bottom line, its junk and don't waste your money. Its rare for me to say this about a product but this one is useless.
As much as we think we are on the cutting edge of things lets go take a look back nearly 50 years to what is the first interactive graphics / drawing app. Its worth watching because it does some stuff we STILL don't have in apps like AE. Also consider that the cmputer running this was probably in the range of 1-4MHZ of processing speed on a big mainframe. Your smart phone would of been the world's faster super computer back then ! There are a couple of videos to check out from back then too.
In part 2, 3D !
Part 2 of my tests on the new GoPro Hero 3. Low light had always been the enemy of the Hero 1 so lets see how well the Hero3 does. Some surprising results.
What do you do when you have a GoPro Hero 1, Hero 2 and brand new GoPro HERO3: Black Edition ? Have a camera shoot out of course ! I'm still working my way through this but here is the first quick test. We took Josiah Winteroff's blue BMW M3 out for a spin with all three cameras mounted side by side on the roof. Tried to aim them all the same but the Hero1 was a bit off. Eitherway it still worked out ok.
The WiFi control and monitoring app for the Hero3 and Wifi back equiped H1 and H2 is great. It makes changing camera settings so much easier and faster. Monitoring itself though has an easy 4-5 sec lag which is fustrating. It means make an adjustment... wait... wait... there it is. Good ? not quite, fiddle around, wait... wait... Ok got it. Its way better than nothing but for setting cameras up you just might want to consider having a small monitor with HDMI in. That said, the Wifi app is still great and I'm happy to have it for everything else including starting and stopping cameras. The other thing I'll add is that setting up the Wifi on the units is a bit tedious. You really have to RTFM the first time or two until you have the drill down. Using the GoPro aka Cinestudio computer app is part of the deal. Once you make it thru the setup, connecting is normally pretty reliable and takes 5 to 10 secs for camera to iPhone to connect. This is a great app to justify you next iPad purchase !
Last week had me shooting near Charlotte NC with Brad Keselowski in his shop doing a bunch of product endorsements. Shoot ran fine. I want to thank Steve Kahn of Edit On The Hudson for helping me out on the first rate crew and gear. I used a FS700 for this shoot with my Rokinon 35 1.5 Cine on the front for most of the shots. Mounting this required me to pick up a fotodiox EF to NEX adapter which worked fine. Second camera was one of my 60D's with OM 50 1.5 + Kenko 1.4X extender doing close ups.
So what about that FS700 ? well we had tons of lights - my HMI's and LED's handled the job easily, plus a couple extra rental LED lights. This lighting was not at all challenging for the camera. The images where nice and sharp, no moire or aliasing to be seen.
Was there anything I didn't like ? Yes. In several setups Brad had a yellow shirt on. The camera completely blocked it up into solid color. Reading the red channel it was 255 ! Not happy. I looked at the blue and green channels and saw they still had gradation in them. So I ran those shots thru Resolve 9 for fixing. I used the RGB channel mixer to borrow some luma from the blue and green channels, applied a soft circle wipe and qualifier to limit the effect to his shirt, pulled down the highlights a bit and now I had something looking like a shirt rather than a yellow blob. On one level I'm happy the camera simply didn't burn it out to white but on the other I wish it had handled it better. The problem was we had Brad for a very limited amount of time and I just couldn't go digging into menu's to mess with knee point, slope and maybe saturation levels. We just had to get shots done !
Its nice having 2 XLR's on the camera. The camera oddly gives you the choice of PCM 48K 16bit or compressed audio... not sure why you'd want compressed audio in this day and age. Sound otherwise was ok. Wish it had 24bit and AES input as options.
Media and Codec
Uses SD cards, I'm happy. in 24FPS the data rate is 24mbit/sec which is about the same as canon. The only difference was at the end of the shoot where both cameras rolled together, the 60D had shoot 30G of media while the FS700 had only shot 12G. That was weird but it looks ok. I guess Sony has a better encoder. A 32gb SD card means a lot of shooting space.
The down side here was MXF. I like simple QT files from Canon, I don't like folder based MXF. Its just a problem format. For some odd reason Prem Pro CS 6.0.2 on MY machine didn't open the files. On another machine running the same software, but 10.7.5 rather than 10.8.2 CS 6.0.2 they worked fine. I dearly wish this camera wrote either QT or single file MXF without the folder structure nonsense that 10.8.x may be messing with.
Would I buy this camera ? maybe... I need to spend more time with it get a better sense of how it works and get some better tweaked settings.
If you have a GoPro camera or three like me... well charging has always been a down fall. Its silly to use camera's as a charger, but thats exactly what I've seen the GoPro crew itself do. They can afford using a camera to be a charger.... Most of us have another idea. Poking around on amazon I found a known name - Wasabi Power to be offering a GoPro battery charger AND 2 batteries for... $20. I'm in.
So far so good. The charger seems to work ok. I'm going to try out the batteries tomorrow and see if they hold up.... and GoPro should seriously get their act together on battery charging offer this charger and something that holds 4-8 batteries at a time.
First I want to say THANK YOU to Mitch for doing a nice simple shoot out and that got solid results. You can see for yourself, but the news is this : the 6D moire's and aliases about the same as the 5Dmk2. Sometimes its a little worse but with a slightly sharper picture and sometimes its better. The Mk3 does better, but not by huge amounts.
Again Canon thinks we're a bunch of dumb schmucks who'll pay anything for one of their video capable large sensor cameras that makes video images with out problems. HELLO ! we are not stupid.
Here is my bet. Come Jan or Feb there will be a 70D based on all the clearance sales going on with the 60D. the 70D will basically be slightly better video but basically not acceptable when compared to the competition. I'd love to buy another canon camera... if it was right. The GH3 is interesting, but I don't think its quite got the dynamic range. However for the price, its shipping now, it does look very good it may be my next purchase. The BMD camera looks great... but that sensor is smaller than I'd like and many people would like. I may have one here to play with in the future.
Meanwhile I'm getting a lot of work at the moment which is great, but of course I'm making very little progress on editing those video reviews I shot a week or so ago and I have a couple new tasty lenses I want to share with every one. More news tomorrow about the doc I worked on Return To Pearl.
Here you go ! Lots of shots actually taken with the lens including a side by side of where I shot this.
I'm sure you all know I'm a big fan of the Tascam DR-680 recorder. Its a great unit for the price, even if the price was double what they wanted for it. Now another name out there is JuicedLink. Its not exactly a name that inspires quality pro product but in fact I found this review out there that was pretty surprising. Its done by the founder of Juicelink so its a bit of a blatent ad for their product, but I think its ok because their product does way better than what anyone would expect. It compares a bunch of audio devices from recording audio direct on a dslr to a SD 702. The DR-680 is in the mix along with a Zoom h4n and of course their mixer feeding a dslr directly. The comparison results are pretty clear to hear even with youtube compressed audio. The results are about 6 or 7 minutes in, but listening to the testing setup isn't bad either because its really a pretty solid test with some surprising results.... that the DR-680 has VERY quite preamps and compares very closely to the 702, and that using the JuicedLink mixer direct into a dslr also does very well. Their secret ? gaining the audio up in their mixer so that you have to reduce gain in the dslr to minimum. Their preamps are a LOT cleaner so this seemingly odd gain structure actually works ok. After this test... they really need to change the name of their company to something that sounds more professional.
I don't think I've ever met a lens that was too wide for me. My current widest lens is 17-50 2.8 Tamron and that had me looking for a wider lens. I decided to check out the Rokinon 14mm 2.8 after having a positive experience with another one of their lenses, the 35 1.4.
This is also a great timelapse lens. I shot some stars at night and the down town city shots with it. Its wide enough to get a big chunk of the sky in, or tall buildings across the street.
Its a fun lens to shoot with when you need to be minimal. Put on your LCD VF and get your shots.
Ya I know I've been a bit disgraceful in not getting this done. Its been a long daunting project and I sat on it for 2 months because I expected to have a 24 1.4 lens in my paws to add to the testing collection. Well that part didn't work out, but the rest of the review did. I finished my edit on it today and want to sit on it for a day for final clean ups before letting out. Some surprising results, at least for some as 30 year old vintage glass goes against modern multicoated ashperics ! Stay tuned.
Tascam DR-40 Audio Recorder
This week I got around to gathering up all the DaVinci Resolve Series Videos onto one page for quick and easy reference. They are here and in the menu's above under software.
|What's missing in Creative Suite CS6 Master Collection ? Catalyst is ! its become Muse which is available as far as I can tell only through Creative Cloud. Now I know most video folks aren't touching hardcore web authoring apps, but there are days I do. As much as video is a big component of what I do from shooting to editing to finishing, it still has to be delivered. To that end I'm delivering most projects to the web. Being able to produce interfaces or sites that integrate video content has become important to what I do. I had messed around with Catalyst but never quite got anything done with it as I hit some short comings in the product. I hoped ( expected ) that 2.0 would fix them. Alas its been snatched out of my hands. If you want it, you have to go to the cloud.|
Lets get to something from my vintage vs new lens shoot out I did a few weeks ago - A review on the Samyang / Rokinon 35 1.4 Lens.
A good review on what might well be a must have for using DaVinci Resolve. Check it out !
Huh you just said ? If you look at monitors all day and have concerns about color accuracy of the monitors then check this out. Now what about your eyes ? They can be fooled in surprising ways. This video produced by Flanders Scientific ( the folks that make high end color monitors ) have the explanations for questions like what your screens all look different.
I think the near universal opinion has been "Thats nice but its a good year late.... and what about clean out HDMI ?" I'd say that pretty much sums it up.
Don't get me wrong, the 5D IS a great camera. The MkIII has lots of great new features to like and will make production with it better. Its just not quite the mark every one was expecting Canon to hit after the C300. As has been pointed out, Canon has by overpricing the C300 is now in competition with itself the wrong way. We know Canon could make dslr's with video quality completely on par with the C300, but will they ? The problem is, their competitors have no such hang ups. In the words of the late Steve Jobs "If you aren't prepared to cannibalize yourself, your competition is." Well said.
Also let me point out that the MkII is now cheaper. If you put that antialiasing filter into the camera, its probably just as good as the new one if not better with the exception of low light performance. If you need those extra 2 stops the new camera has, well go it. If it doesn't matter, then your old camera is still perfectly good.
The next installment of our look at Davinci Resolve will be out tomorrow !
In other news some server problems have kept me from getting any updates out over the last few days.
Last, another project I've had on the burner for a while now has been a bit stuck. I've been wanting to do a lens shoot out but have not been able to get a model for the shoot. Crazy I know as usually thats not a problem, but it has this time around for some reason. So I am working on it !
Its funny how I never got around to talking about this lens. It was the first lens I got along with the 70-200 2.8.
Yes ! I shot this with a Vivitar 24mm F2.0 lens that I got for $25. Looking on eBay I see its going for more like $250+. I got a bargain for once, and a really nice lens ! Its entirely possible you may come into this lens nearly as cheap. Before you plunge big dollars into something with a C name on it, consider what else is out there. Many a vintage lens will still make a wonderful image. This was shot in a little inlet on Lake Winnebago, WI.
The next image was shot with a Vivitar / Tokina 400mm 5.6. Maybe not quite as sharp as I'd like, but I was hand holding it at 125th shutter or so and high ISO. Even still it held nice contrast on severe back lighting. Ok, truth be told I did pay around $100 for the 400mm, but even still a bargain compared to alternatives.
The point is I got into dslr imaging because I was intrigued with making high quality video ( and some stills ) for cheap. I'm thrilled I DIDN'T spend thousands on gLamour gLass and found some great lenses that work just fine. Ok, Ok, yes, yes, that gLamour Luxury glass will do better, no doubt but I'm just not making images were clients will ever know, care or see the difference. Its nice not to be gear poor for a change ! Seriously, quit pixel peeping and make some great images.
Vivitar 24 F2.0
Vivitar 400 5.6 Hand Held at about 250th, 5.6
Vivitar 35-105 3.5
I've been working on this project for a month or so dropping a few hint pix along the way. This is my new support for my 400mm lens.
Its wood you might say ? well why not ? The top is mahogany while the 60mm rod slider is brazillian cherry inlaid with maple. All the hardware went vintage being hand made in brass. I though why not go steampunk retro vintage ! Really this was much more interesting then a hunk of aluminum. Whats more, if you ever have to work in the cold, I"ll take handing wood over metal any day. Besides I think a fine vintage lens deserves an equally fitting accessory. It goes back to a time when cameras where made completely out of material like this.
What makes this unique is the lateral adjustment though. Until you have mounted a lens at 1 Ft (.3m) long you won't understand. Its pretty easy to have the camera body mounted slightly off and with a short normal length lens its not a big deal. With a big lens like this though a tiny bit off means remounting the camera body to get it perfectly straight. With a lateral adjustment though I just move the support over which is much faster and easier way of working.
Will I make one for you ? maybe. drop me an email.
Images shot using OM 50 1.4 and when needed a 14mm Opteka Extension Tube
Finally here ! no picking on me for how long it took. I've just been busy ! Anyway this is a look at the lens I use for a major portion of my shooting, especially interviews. I also graded this in DaVinci Resolve which was a real pleasure. In fact this was one of my learning projects for Resolve which is part of why it took me so long. I was learning, making a few mistakes along the way, and then, suddenly, it was done :) !
Take a look.
Hmmm... looks interesting, doesn't it ? Big reveal in a day or two... just need time to make some pix !
What are extension tubes ? A very affordable and simple way of getting marco shots using the lenses you already have. Here is a quick review and tutorial on using extensions tubes. The set I'm using is from Opteka but these are identical - Vivitar Macro Extension Tube Set (Set of 3) for Canon
Here you go - a hands on review of Matrox's MAX faster then real time H264 encoder technology. I'll reveal some unexpected great surprises about this hardware like the drivers which continue to expand the MAX encoder's abilities like noise reduction that doesn't hurt encoding speed.
UPDATE I added screen shots of different encodes to the video showing the MAX encodes vs Apple software encodes. Its quite a difference.
I've been using Color on and off for a couple of years. It's a solid tool that draws from other grading apps but yet is still a 1.0 app. It has its short comings like random failures to render clips in its que, even when it seems to process them.
Ok, last straw today with the Asus P246Q monitor. I had messed wtih its internal adjustments and gotten most of the red out, it was looking ok. A week ago I got a QFX4000 card for the mac. it has a displayport and DVI. I'm running the asus on the displayport connector. when the mac goes to sleep, the monitor actually crashes its OS. I mean the mac doesn't see it connected, you can't even power it up. you can power it up if you leave it plug pulled disconnected from power for a minute or two, then it will go. I can't deal with this. it coulda / shoulda/ oughta of been a great monitor, but its a POS - good hardware with really BAD software and bad factory calibration.
UPDATE 1 : I this monitor from Amazon.com. I'm well past their 30day return policy. if I want to loose 20% I can return it. I put in an RMA request with ASUS we'll see what happens. When I got this thing I pealed off the warranty deal by accident. its some stupid bit of paper label on the bottom of the screen that feels like part of the packing. I scraped it off... then saw what it was. Who knew ? Ths is just beyond all stupidity right now : bad product, screw the customer.
if ANYONE has a contact at ASUS who can do something, I'd appreciate your sharing it with me. Maybe the need some public shame to fix this.
Update 2 : Well I may of gotten color fixed on this thing. it looks like the real problem is that the setup or as they call it offset for red is just too high. When looking at some dark grays I saw red, and then got the idea to pull down the offset. Much better ! that along wtih some other adjustments has this looking better.
Another note : if you try to power up the display with a displaport cable attached to a mac QFX 4000 ( my exact setup ) the monitor crashes and become non-responsive. its like its just completely failed. lets see what Asus has to say.
Update 3: If I remove the displayport cable, the monitor will start up. @#!@#@!#!!! ASUS claims 48hrs to get a RMA, came and gone already. I've done more tweaking with the monitor, and updated to Lion 10.7 today, we'll see if there is any progress. Now I have some video reviews to edit !
I know I never seem to have a long enough lens, even with a 400mm monster in my case. My next shorter lens is a 70-200 2.8 Tamron, which again I always seem to want a little more reach with. Enter the 1.4X converter. this turns 200mm into 280mm of reach. The trade off is a 1 stop light loss, and some image degradation according to the pixel peepers.
What might of worked so well for NTSC / PAL years ago just doesn't fly these days with LCD panels. The beloved bars will only give you the most basic go / no go idea of if a monitor is even in the ball park. Unless you have super calibrated eyes there are so many things that change with LCD's it isn't funny. They very often have non-linear gamma compared to CRT's, and can have color shifts as well, never mind maybe a screen might have different R,G and B curves.
The price of the panel may have no bearing on how good it is, to whit :
a $500 Asus P246Q 10bit panel is just plain red, and has a brighter then linear top end as shown by the Spyder3 Elite ( another piece of highly probablamatic gear). I have been messing with this panel now for a month with no love.
a $150 Vizio 17" monitor from costco was near perfect. Go figure this one out - dead on color and when running the MXO2 eyeball calibration routine, it showed all gray steps from black to white right out of the box. It required the most minimal of adjustments, and would of been fine as is. I'd recommend this as a location monitor if you want something cheap you don't have to worry about, and need something pretty accurate.
Eventually I'll get the Asus calibrated to the point I can trust it, or I may just spend a lot of cash on a couple of apple 27" monitors. They have great images, are IPS panels, but have one major flaw - glossy screens that make using them in most normal environments a problem, hence the reason I went with the Asus that had great reviews for 1/2 the price. Time will tell whether I should of taken my own advice and bought it right ( read more expensive ) the first time around. Given that you never really know what you get when you buy a panel, sometimes the cheap ones are great, and the expensive ones not so great. I'm not splurging on a Flanders this year.
Most of the LCD loupe's out there have eyecups that are too small. An eyepeice cushion is the solution. Most interesting is camcushions.com which is actually another company we all know, Letus. For $5.40 ( plus shipping ) you can have a very nice eyepiece cover that will make things much better. I picked up a couple of microfiber ones in gray. While I'm sure some folks may find a red eyepiece cover on their RED camera is not being a fashion slave, I opted for the neutral gray color. its a 100% improvement over the skimpy ( but better than most ) rubber eye cup. The cushion has a slot in the middle that you slide the rubber cup into with a bit of fiddling.
Just brought to my attention today is a super cool new app for the iPhone.
Whats the big feature ? Variable Fame Rates including 24FPS !
It also lets you set 2 focus / exposure zones and has VU meters !
Add in some framing guides and grids. Not a bad deal for $2.99
If you have a HD capable iphone ( and I'll guess iPad ) this can certainly give you a B cam option when you need it. I'd certainly not pretend you'd want to shoot anything too serious with an iPhone but we all know some one will try :)
Monitors monitors on the wall, who's color is most accurate of all ?
There is yet another LCD VF entering the fray from KinoTehniik. but please read the specs -
" Super crisp 24bit 3” screen with 840×400 resolution "
ah, hello ! thats SD 16:9. How sharp can that be ? Thats fewer pixels then the LCD on the back of the camera has. If you can't focus or be happy with a LCD loupe on the back of the dslr's back, how are you going to be happy with this ? if you complain that your external 5-9" LCD goes to SD during shooting and you can't see critical focus, do you have any plans of thinking this will work ok ? Lets get real, 840X480 isn't even close to cutting it. Give me a real 1280X720 native or better LCD and we can have a conversation involving me parting with my money. I've used the RED viewfinder, and while some may complain about it, its still way better then any of these offerings. Stick with your LCD loupe for now.
For years I've wanted a really dumb stupid simple LCD mount - a VESA plate with a 5/8 pin on it. Not rocket science, its barely garage level hacker. I made one plate like this a while back using the cheapest VESA plate I could find for about $15 in walmart plus some 5/8" rod. Now there is finally what everyone has been looking for.
Its available from Film Tools in 75mm and 100mm version for $40 each. Well cheaper then most other stuff out there at well over $100, but still more then just a bit pricey compared to even a baby plate. Did I even say you can drill holes in a $15 baby plate and you're good to go ? and before you even ask, why couldn't they make ONE version with both hole sets.... pass the 2X4 please. GRRRRR !
FINALLY ! I have to admit this review has been delayed due to a number of things from simply being busy at work to some personal events I had to deal with. Well here it is, and I'm going to talk about some things you won't see mentioned in another reviews of this product. I know that because I've read most of them. The fact is I did buy this product based on those reviews and in some places I'll agree, and in others, well I'll get to them in a bit.
Shot on my iphone...
What started out as a pretty simple series of tests got a lot more complicated. I completed another round of tests using a simple chip chart. Now I need to make one disclaimer here, the chip chart I got my hands on was not a great one. It wasn't one of those expensive official 10 stop charts, but rather a printed one that came with an old copy of On Location. Before you all get excited about this, please consider what I needed for these tests : a way to generate some cleanly stepped values for highlights. In this purpose you'll see the chart did just fine. It also let me look at some other more interesting things that the camera is doing, especially comparing the output of the hardware scopes to what the codec records.
Shot, edited, just need to write it up. More surprises about what the canon cameras are doing in terms of video out vs what the codec is recording to card.
Santa UPS just delivered my new canon 60D !
Can't wait to go shoot some test material. Its great to have a matching body to my 550D now. More to come... also in the works is a lens review on the Vivitar 400 5.6. Its a big heavy cool piece of glass!
Is the Sony F3 camera the one for the rest of us ? Lets define who the rest of us are ! Ok, to some one with a F23 or F35, its dirt cheap. How many folks around here have one of these ? how many rentals houses for that matter ! How many productions that most of us normally or will ever work on are using one ? small market. Is it some one looking at a RED ? The F3is $1k less. for a body, maybe less at street price. However it doesn't have4K res, its HD only. It does have S-Log which I assume...
I got a Letus Carbon Fiber View Finder in today. Ok, technically last week, but my first one had problems. It had a stripped out screw hole that was part of the mount. Today, fedex dropped off a replacement, with quick release. Its worlds better. I'm gearing up for a review, but so far this looks pretty good. Letus was good in taking care of exchanging the bad one I first got.
Meanwhile I'm trying to get caught up watching Fringe and Mad Men... such is life.
Reviews at the speed of the net ! So I got the new firmware loaded up. It was simple enough IF you follow the directions to the letter. I missed something the first time around but got it the second time. 1080 out of the camera looks great ! Super sharp. There is some moire and aliasing, but nothing a little diffusion filter wouldn't kill. Maybe even the case lens will just take a little edge off of it. I was running the camera bare. Either way, skin tones look great, camera looks way...
Go get it ! Things added and fixed include : 25fps / Pal frame rate. No 24, but if you aren't doing sync sound, simply interpeting the 25FFPS mov at 24FPS and live with the 4% slow down works for me ! Live Feed Output YES ! finally you can see video while the camera is just on, as well as recording. Feed video to a wireless transmitter, or just plug a LCD monitor in to see what you are really getting. Live Feed with On Screen Display Shows battery, time recorded, recording status. Perfect...
Hot after Premiere Pro's update yesterday, Adobe has released AE 10.0.1 ! The new release adds the following : ____________________________________ There were several fixes and improvements for RED (R3D) import and workflow. The Apply Color LUT effect can now use .3dl files with floating point values or 3DMESH/Mesh keywords, or those saved from an ASSIMILATE SCRATCH system (i.e., that have SCRATCH in the comments at the top of the file). QuickTime (.mov) Files from JVC solid-state cameras...
Panasonic released these pics today of their up and coming camera first shown at NAB. Probably a move to steal a little bit of Canon's big PR this week. Either way its a look that they are on their way to a shipping product. The body is small compared to most video cameras in the pro realm, but its bigger then a dslr, has XLR's, a movable LCD of unknown quality. I'm betting a sharper picture then dslr's, and no aliasing/ moire problems. We'll see when they get here. Now the...
You want it ! This also includes an update for Adobe Media Encoder (AME ). There was also the hint that an AE update was soon to be out as well. Updated & Improved Several improvements to RED (R3D) import and workflow. See the last section of this post for details. QuickTime (.mov) files from JVC solid-state cameras can be imported. Added sequence presets: Canon XF MPEG2 720p30 and Canon XF MPEG2 720p25. Premiere Pro CS5 (5.0.2) can export MXF files containing MPEG-2 essence items that...
Canon Goes All Ultra Resolution On Us ! Canon is has announced the largest CMOS image sensor made at 205X205mm - thats 8X8 inches ! Thats view camera size ! Its Ultra light sensitive due to its size. Price ? you can't afford it, trust me if the 1D comes in at $5k or so as I recall. A 35mm sized sensor is literally a postage stamp on a near full sheet of paper in comparison. Click HereNo Specs on actual pixel count, but I'm sure there much bigger then typical pixels on a chip. Who cares,...
Ok, stop laughing... all of you ! for everyone who has never shot tape at all, never mind beta SP, you can just skip this little lesson in history. When your P2 / CF/ SD card becomes yesterday's door stop, you'll not notice history repeating itself ! Today is a landmark of sorts around the studio. Beta SP is officially going away. Several months ago, I went through several large boxes of beta tapes and loaded them to hard drive via my laptop with aMatrox MXO2 plugged into it. I...
A Long Time FCP Editor Goes with Adobe Premiere Pro I am an early adopter. I started with Media100 back in the mid 90's around ver 2.6. I cut tape before that, and still did for a few years during the transition to total NLE based editing. When it seemed like Media100 was running out of gas, the company wasn't doing well, and I had a 3 camera project to edit, I switched for the first time. I used Premiere 5.0 to edit the job. It went well for the most part, and it got the job done....
Video Review of the G3 Wireless Mic System is Online This video will let you hear the G3 in action with the supplied ME2 mic and a Sanken COS-11. Audio was recorded on a Tascam DR-680, video shot on a EOS 550D. Check it out ! Sennheiser G3 Wireless Mic Review from Steve Oakley on Vimeo. Sennheiser G3 Wireless Mic Review
This isn't supposed to work, but it does. I was able to tune a G3 RECEIVER to 475.375MHZ manually to match a Lectro 195 transmitter, and guess what ? it works ! The G3 receiver was happy to see the 195's pilot tone, and open up. Sound worked ! This means that G3 receivers can be used as spare or backups for 195 transmitters if you can get every one tuned the same. It did seem like the audio performance wasn't quite as good, but it worked. OTH, using the G3 transmitter would not get the lectro 195 reciever to work. If I had time to fiddle I could probably of turned off the pilot tone on the 195 and gotten it to work.
DR-680 Hands on Review : Field and Sync Tests UPDATED : Feb 14, 2012 The DR-680 from Tascam is being offered at a very irresistible price. It claims to be a full 8 track recorder for under $660 street price. The question is, it worth adding to your gear ? Does it really perform or is it overspec'd and under performing in reality? Here is my take. First you can check out my video review of the device. I used it to record my sound while shooting on a EOS T2I. I went a full 12 minutes...