Archive for the Photojournalism Category

Some ENG setups with the GH4 and 2 digital audio recorders

Posted in Audio, Photojournalism, Reviews, Video with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 11, 2015 by William Hooks

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DR-70D DAR below GH4 camera on tripod

DR-70D DAR below GH4 camera on tripod

MS (mid-side) microphone capsule option on Zoom H6 DAR

MS (mid-side) microphone capsule option on Zoom H6 DAR

side view showing connections for digital audio recorder positioned below camera

side view showing connections for digital audio recorder positioned below camera

above-camera setup for DR-70D using 12" rail on hot shoe, and 2 wireless Audio Technica mic receivers

above-camera setup for DR-70D using 12″ rail on hot shoe, and 2 wireless Audio Technica mic receivers

DSCN2364The idea here is to be able to record to one or more cameras and record audio separately =dual system audio, later aligning the sound and video files while editing. I use Red Giant Plural Eyes Express for this job, it’s easy and automated.

I’ve shown two audio options, one with wired lavalier mics into inputs 1-2 on the Tascam DR-70D DAR connected below the camera and the other with the DAR mounted on an adapter above the camera, connected to wireless mic receivers.

The other DAR (Zoom H6) is used here as a hand-held microphone close to the subject, recording backup tracks; one could easily add a shotgun mic track here, for example, or one of the lav tracks if desired. I sometimes use the MS mic capsule in this setup because it’s simple to pick up my interview questions and the corresponding answers with that mic, place close to my side and less than 2 feet from the subject out of frame.

I power the Tascam whenever possible with external sources- either AC or when not available, by use of a brick battery via USB port with 5v delivered to the 15′ extension cable, then to the dedicated recorder USB cable. This is due to the lackluster internal battery life from the DR-70D.

Be sure to download the Tascam ‘s reference manual online if you get this unit- the supplied documentation is pathetic.

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Battery options for powering the GH4, lights, Zoom H6, and monitor

Posted in Captain's Personal Log, monitors, Photography, Photojournalism, Reviews, Travel, Video with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 20, 2015 by William Hooks
Switronix P-tap to GH4 power cable

Switronix P-tap to GH4 power cable

Switronix P-tap to 4-pin power cable

Switronix P-tap to 4-pin power cable

LP90S battery as counterweight, connect to GH4 with power cable on shoulder rig

LP90S battery as counterweight, connect to GH4 with power cable on shoulder rig

closeup of battery, P-tap connection and second P-tap port located on mount plate

closeup of battery, P-tap connection and second P-tap port located on mount plate

The Zoom H6 digital audio recorder is powered from the accessory USB port on the battery, shown above.

It’s a good idea to not allow these batteries to be uncharged for long periods because of their self-discharge property; I mark them each time they’re charged, and aim at less than 6 months before recharging.

And double check to ensure that the terminals of the P-tap connector are properly aligned to the corresponding terminals of the battery plate- if not, there’s risk of short-circuiting the cable (I’ve done it – ONCE).

DLC MB-3 Matte Box added to GH4 system

Posted in Photojournalism, Reviews, Video with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 31, 2015 by William Hooks
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One of the 2 included cowls is shown, interposed between lens and matte box to eliminate stray light

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Here 3 of the 4 provided flags are added to further eliminate stray light from the front of the rig

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The series-stacked filter holders are seen at the rear of the matte box; these are spring loaded, making for secure and easy use of glass or resin filters

DSCN2170 DSCN2171 This matte box is very inexpensive for its construction quality and feature set, lightweight, and flexible in use: the flags are optional as well as the light-protective cowls between the lens and box, and the filters can be rotated within their holders just as on my larger all-metal Benro matte box. I got mine for $140 at Samys Pasadena, CA.

I also configured a shoulder rig from additional components including an offset rail system, and can run the GH4 and one other item such as an on -camera LED light from P-taps on large Li ion batteries. I use a Switronix power cable to connect the camera.

This option provides additional power to run the camera where there’s no AC outlet available, and because the Switronix battery has USB out it’s convenient to run my Zoom H6 audio recorder from there.

One version of shoulder rig using JAG35V2 handles

One version of shoulder rig using JAG35V2 handles

Highly recommended - Switronix XP-L90S V mount battery

Highly recommended – Switronix XP-L90S V mount battery

Battery on rear V-plate attached to the rig via 15mm rods

Battery on rear V-plate attached to the rig via 15mm rods

Full cinema rig configuration with HDMI monitor, whip/follow focus, Zoom H6, AudioTechnica wireless lav system and rear brick battery with D -taps to camera, light, DAR or monitor

Full cinema rig configuration with HDMI monitor, whip/follow focus, Zoom H6, AudioTechnica wireless lav system and rear brick battery with D -taps to camera, light, DAR or monitor

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with 35mm T1.5 Rokinon EF cine lens

with 35mm T1.5 Rokinon EF cine lens

First followup review of Panasonic GH4 DSLM camera

Posted in backpacking, Captain's Personal Log, Photography, Photojournalism, Reviews, Travel, ultralight techniques, Video with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 11, 2015 by William Hooks

These are my observations after using the camera for a few weeks.

First, I found that operating the nonprotruding video actuation button was not optimal and ended up adding a $10 Vello 2 ft wired remote. This also allows use of very slow shutter speeds and facilitates macro imaging, and I use it for interviews so that I can stay where I’m interacting with the subject- the same as I already do with my H6 Zoom audio recorder.

With a 64GB U3 rated card I’m getting more than 80 minutes per clip at 4K resolution. No more interruptions to reset the camera for interviews…..

Second, after renting the 18-35mm f/1.8 EF Sigma I think this lens will be excellent for general use especially on a rig with follow focus, but too large and heavy for backpacking and [currently] doesn’t support AF; so I will most likely buy the Panasonic 12-35 f/2.8 and 35-100 f/2.8 eventually, and continue to rent this optic.

Third, I’ve settled on Custom settings for the main 3 dial positions= C1 for 4K DCI/24 ‘Cinematic’, C2 for 4K UHD/30 ‘Broadcast’, and C3-1/ C3-2/C3-3 for ‘highest quality ‘ 1080/60 moderate slow motion, ‘smoothest’ 1080/96 slow motion, and 1080/12 undercranked fast motion. NOTE: this camera allows 1080p in slow-motion 96 FPS whether in 30 or 24 cinema modes.

Fourth, as a walkaround lens I ‘m using the Pana/Zeiss Summicron 15mm f/1.7 – a tiny, ultralight lens simulating 30mm perspective in full frame terms. Sharp, easy to maintain relatively great DOF (nice for rapid event action), beautifully integrated with the camera’s capability, easy to carry long distances, and wide without distortion.

Fifth, the Metabones EF to MFT Speedbooster will be a keeper for me as I have 2 Canon FF lenses and it opens the entire Cine and still collection to the camera, as well as lenses from Rokinon /Zeiss/ Olympus/Voigtlander in particular. The ‘free’ additional stop from the adapter has been very welcome in keeping the ISO settings in the optimal range. I find that linking the baseplate/rail system onto the removable Metabones tripod mount provides the clearance I need for attaching the Rokinon 14mm T3.1 and 35mm T1.5 lenses, which have large front elements.

An added bonus is that as long as the adapter is attached, the camera sensor is completely shielded from damage while changing lenses.

Sixth, I’ve evolved a minirig for ENG and light EFP use consisting of an aluminum form-fitting cage, JAG 35 top handle/tripod base plate,carbon fiber 15mm rods, and RedRock Micro spuds/attachment points.

I will be using a $12 basic Nikon F to MFT adapter for AI-S Nikkors for the immediate future, and rent the F/G to MFT Speedbooster when needed.

Entering the 4K universe: Adding the Panasonic GH4 mirrorless camera

Posted in backpacking, Photography, Photojournalism, Reviews, Travel, ultralight techniques, Video with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 25, 2015 by William Hooks

Today I made the quantum jump to begin creating video content in 4K Ultra HD, using the Panasonic GH4 mirrorless camera.

Porque`?

Aside from allowing capture at 4 times the resolution of 1080p [called QFHD or quad-full HD], these are some of the advantages I hope to enjoy while exploring this approach to filmmaking:

Strikingly affordable for its capability- including very inexpensive SD cards at U3 designation

Adaptability of lens mount- can use PL=positive lock, Nikon, Canon, Leica, Zeiss, Sigma, Panasonic, Tokina, Rokinon optics….with excellent Metabones adapters available for Nikon and Canon (the 2 with which I have most past experience)

Very manageable file sizes with compressed 4K/ optional uncompressed 4K: no significant complication of basic postproduction workflow in Adobe Premiere Pro. In fact, it allows expansion of editing choice because of ‘zooming’ into shots to achieve true 1080p derivative shots when needed, after completing of shooting

Practical video capture for very long periods exceeding 29 min US limit (as multiple files), with appropriate media

2 included Cine picture profiles: Cine Like D (flat somewhat like LOG ) and CineLike V (vivid) for relatively painless color grading

Electronic viewfinder (excellent when it’s too bright to see the touch screen, for example) and tilting touch screen control of many functions, very user- friendly features

Small form factor with very light weight and bulk-great for POV, aerials (or just mix files from GoPro Hero 4 and later!), backcountry applications and covering events where mobility may pay substantial dividends- and less stress on monopod heads.

Native monitor features dedicated to video production such as zebras, focus peaking, Synchro Scan, Variable Framer Rate for fast motion and slow motion; timelapse can be created in-camera; stop-motion animation;STMPE timecode; 10-bit option for 4:2:2 HDMI output,luminance and master pedestal level control, advanced audio control and color bars.

Silent control of settings during capture

Fantastic slow motion at up to 96 FPS in Full HD

WiFi control

Option of adding a very capable interface unit beneath the camera, the YAGH, incorporating 2 XLR inputs and 3G-SDI connectors for output

Extraordinary battery life, capture all afternoon on one charge

Highly customizable function buttons

There’s more.. but I ‘m not even going to start on the ‘stills’ side.

So the next journey begins. I rented a Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 and Nikon F mount Metabones Speedbooster for the weekend.

What I’ll be using tomorrow, for multicam interviews in the Palm Springs area

Posted in Photojournalism, Reviews, Travel, Video on August 12, 2014 by William Hooks

Canon 5DIII, 70D cameras with Zoom H6 DAR and backup Tascam DR-60D (need 3 XLR inputs if possible, for 2 wired lav mics and a boomed shotgun).

The Manfrotto 2 camera rail makes it easy to shoot with both cameras from nearly the same vantage point on one tripod. Be sure to crank the mounts so they don’t rotate!!

I could also attach other items to the rig with Mafer clamps, for example, instead of using an articulated arm to mount the digital audio recorder.

2-camera rail interview setup_front (1)

2-camera rail interview setup_front (2)

2-camera rail interview setup_front (3)

2-camera rail interview setup_front (4)

2-camera rail interview setup_front (5)

Better living through audio

Posted in Photojournalism, Video with tags , , , , , , on July 21, 2014 by William Hooks

This is my setup for basic narration, VO and podcasts.

Thanks to Sam Ash music for the free On Stage desktop mic stand! It’s nice that I could ride a bike to your store, if my bike hadn’t been stolen a couple of years ago…..

AT 8004L dynamic mic on stand_3 ft XLR

Audio Technica M 40X headphones

Basic VO setup

REI Ultrapod supporting Tascam DR-60D DAR

VO components