Archive for rigs

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

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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.

Variations on a theme- a way to do both ENG and basic EFP on a monopod

Posted in Captain's Personal Log, Photography, Photojournalism, Reviews, Travel, Video with tags , , , , , , on June 29, 2014 by William Hooks

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This setup allows use of 4×4″ Tiffen ND filters, I have a 3-stop and a 4-stop which fit into the matte box for preserving wide lens apertures. That way, shallow DOF is covered for EFP and occasional ENG applications.Of course, all the other benefits of the matte box apply such as making lens changes fast and easy, and virtually eliminating flare.

The configuration is compact, secure, and very adjustable along the medium-length carbon fiber rails. Critical focus in bright light is achieved with the Hoodman Custom Finder.

As an option, I can add the Manfrotto DSLR remote controller for rack focus and faster ergonomics in starting and ending clips.

The Benro components are much better suited to this kind of arrangement on a monopod than my RedRock Micro components, especially the baseplate assembly. The RRM lacks screw threads for connection to the QR fo the monopod.

Functionally, it’s a little imbalanced from frontloading and the tilt is not as smooth as the pan, but overall I feel that the versatility of the rig more than compensates for these considerations.

It also travels relatively well, because the matte box can be broken down further for packing.

This is not going to yield the degree of camera movement possible with a shoulder rig, but I find it much better for longer ENG recordings since the monopod, and not my arms, support the system. It’s also easy to combine both, if a multicam shoot is desired.

Additional observations about the Tascam DR-60 D digital audio recorder

Posted in Music, Photojournalism, Reviews, Travel, Video with tags , , , , on June 24, 2014 by William Hooks

After a period of use with and without my other DAR (Zoom H4N) employed as a stereo microphone source, I have more comments about the Tascam recorder. The key words I ‘d use to describe my experience with it are EASY and INTUITIVE.

It’s much easier to access the SD media card than with the Zoom model, because of the simple rubber cover which also reveals the AC adapter/USB port.

Ability to easily and rapidly isolate and monitor whichever channel I wish with headphones, or a mix, or CAMERA IN, and to lock the XLR cables to the inputs, are welcome changes from the H4N.

I use the rapid, intuitive ‘delete recording file’ process routinely, and this is much easier to do than with the H4N- yet another example of using dedicated buttons instead of submenus to make the recorder user-friendly. These buttons are very quiet to operate, and I so far don’t see a need for getting its remote control unit.

The DR-60 is very compact, and lighter than the H4N; I can easily carry it all day and it mounts well onto rigs and monopods/tripods with option to mount cameras directly atop it. The bracket for camera attachment is easily removed if the location on a rig suggests it to be necessary.

The real-time Equalizer function is very helpful to preview the treble/bass mix of a track and therefore, evaluate the outputs of various microphones relative to this recorder. It’s a simple matter to avoid proximity effect with shotguns, for example using this method (this is of course not an issue with omnidirectional mics).

I’ve found that the sound quality is very good using the H4N as a stereo mic input into the 3.5mm Ch3/4 input or as an XLR connection. So both recorders can very effectively be used together, even if there are no stand-alone microphones available.

What do I wish the DR-60 could have or do? First and foremost: at least one more dedicated XLR input, even if it were requiring a slightly larger recorder.DSCN0682

Second, I ‘ll use the H4N for most multitrack recording because of its additional capability in this mode compared to the Tascam.

And it will be used as an audio interface to my Cubase LE6 digital audio workstation on my notebook-a feature not offered by this unit.