[•] Frankenstein Video Rig

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A Frankenstein Video Rig consists of a mix of camera parts that are not from one specific manufacturer. Here is a Sony A7II mirrorless camera with the 28mm Canon FD lens adapted via a Metabones FD to E mount adaptor.

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On top for pro res video recording is the Atomos Ninja 2 recorder connected via HDMI cable. It is an excellent combination for video and stills and probably my favourite full frame mirrorless camera on the market.

The cage is by SmallRig and the add on is the SmallRig monitor mount that can fix the monitor in any fixed angle position.

Lightweight and very run and gun for video. Perfect for travel videography. Easy to add a couple of 15mm rods and follow focus if you wanted to expand the rig further.

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5-Axis SteadyShot INSIDE Stabilisation otherwise known as IBIS is on this camera making it a perfect combo with legacy glass. Overall performance is amazing and if you want further information on the Sony A7II just go to the home page and click the Sony A7II link.

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Regards,

[•] p 🔺 z r 🔺 h n

 

 

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[•] Building a video rig on a budget and eliminating issues Part II

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Welcome to Part II

Testing the completed build. The important part to building a video rig is testing each component either for failure or preventing breakage. You must be able to trust your gear when running and gunning. Cold weather and metal can loosen and I’ve had top lights simply slide and jump out and fall to the ground and hot weather sweaty hands can easily drop a setup. That 1 metre off the ground can do some serious damage.

I don’t know if people realise but getting into video and camera work takes a huge amount of your time and add on top of that video editing . Many years ago all you had to worry about was battery life and recording time limits. Was fun watching 45 minutes go quickly in an interview hoping the last 5 minutes people would end a sentence so you could jump and and ask for a tape change. How good are SSD’s now videographers are so lucky.

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Many years ago all you had to do was put a tape into the camera and hit record and tweak the white balance, exposure and contrast in edit. Now the whole process is much more complex with more options in the way your footage looks and feels. LUTS known as Look Up Tables offer endless styles to your footage and can be put directly via the Atomos Assassin and can save time editing if shooting in a particular LUT. The other option is to shoot in a flat profile like S-Log for Sony or V-log for Panasonic that extends your editing leeway even further.

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Cable Management – Most cables i like have a 90 degree bend to decrease the likeliness of breaking the connection. If its a straight out cable you’ll find being careful wont cut it and using gear and a combination of fatigue will result in breaking something. Also zip ties or cable holders help reduce breakage. The GH4 and Sony camera are notorious for micro HDMI ports and break very easily it was a breath of fresh air when the GH5 came out with a standard HDMI port.

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Power Supply – FOTGA DP500III V-Lock V-Mount Battery Power Supply System Plate can be found on eBay or Amazon prices vary depending on extras like a dummy battery specific to your camera. Mine came with a Sony A series dummy battery and the GH4 one is still on it way. So this issue I had was limited battery on the Atomos Assassin and the chance to set up unlimited & uninterrupted power supply is very appealing. The battery is a V – Mount Power- U 95Wh/14.4V and There are a few other choices with more ranges 130Wh 150Wh 190Wh 260Wh and they extend battery time even further. For now the 95Wh suits my needs but never worry about battery life ever again with this setup.

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Vertical grips are from a previous camera rig setup salvaged from the Edelkrone Modula 5 which is discontinued I only wish the actual ends of the grips had 15mm fixings to reduce the weight further but they are very sturdy with the whole piece connected across the two 15mm rods. Both handles can be angled back and forth or point down depending on the way you shoot. Overall the rig is quite balanced. No rattle test was done and SmallRig will win many hearts in this category. Carbon fibre 15mm rods would even take the weight down a little further.

SmallRig shoulder pad is awesome there’s two types I preferred the straight off the back as this setup reminds me of using the Canon XL2 video camera but this setup is far more comfy and well made. Really nice soft padded and fabric you would find on camera bag straps. Very clever. Only thing is don’t expect to hold this setup onto your chest if you wanted that holding position. The aluminium is like a point even though there is some padding but maybe some talk to Smallrig they might come up with another version that collapses the back with a locking mechanism that goes flat and then returns to original position if putting the camera back on the shoulder.

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Only thing missing now is the follow focus to this setup. This is a bit of a stretch as the anamorphic focusing is at the very end of the lens. Using the SLR Rangefinder is another hurdle but hopefully the Fotga DP500III QR A/B Hard Stop Follow Focus works as it is possible to switch the wheel on both sides of the unit. Maybe a Part III will be added and include filters.

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The tripod I’m using is pushing the limit with weight so I can only recommend stepping up to something bigger like the Manfrotto Nitrotech N8 Video Head with 535 Carbon fiber tripod. but if you have to get a tripod its at the top of the list to not skimp as you want to be confident it wont tip over when working in the elements.

If this has helped give some insight into the joys of video camera work feel free to comment. If you have found a solution to this never ending problem give a shout out below in the comments.

 

 

Regards,

[•] p 🔺 z r 🔺 h n

 

 

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[•] Building a video rig on a budget and eliminating issues

 

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The main goal of any video rig is definitely the budget. There are other challenges to mention but lets find out the issues of building such a rig.

So far I’ve been hit and miss but hopefully after you read this you’ll be pointed in the right direction for your own build.

Doing a test build helps prevent you going too far back to the drawing board. You can learn a lot from watching TV shows like American Chopper when you see them build a bike. In some ways it makes sense to do a test build in my case for a camera rig but if you get it too wrong would you punch through a wall like on American Chopper 😉

Starting with the Panasonic GH4 currently in my opinion the best 4K video camera/recorder for value. The problem is utilising the HDMI output with a recorder which will add to the cost. Lucky the prices of external recorders have come down a little and for me I was lucky to pick up a discontinued Atomos Assassin for $895 on the Christmas sales. (Previous Post is available for reading on Atomos Assassin)

Here are some of the hiccups I have found along the way. Cages.. Cages have become maybe my nemesis. Since hitting the scene the last few years SmallRig offer a range of cages but for every camera upgrade you will have to upgrade the cage to suit. In the test build I did start with a C- cage that SmallRig used to produce/manufacture but I found out the hard way it didn’t work. The problem was that the cage twisted with the added weight so it was shelved and replaced with the proper GH4 SmallRig cage. I do like this cage setup and as full coverage allows for rosettes and handle mount to both sides.

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The SmallRig handles are excellent I can’t fault them and they make a range that are fully CNC machined to a premium version with leather grips for added comfort. Some bolt on top of the cage for a permanent build and some use like I have with a clamp making it quick and easy for removal and great for packing up a kit for travel.

The Matte box on the end of a kit is the most difficult to choose. Bright Tangerine make the best that I’ve seen but the premium price will push many of us out but if you get the chance have a look at their selection online website they look amazing. After some more searching I stumbled on the JTZ DP30 Carbon Fiber model and its worth a look and prices are not insulting. Build quality is very good and they offer the swing away mechanism for lens changing in the way its constructed. There’s a few options and I wanted to future proof my build by choosing the “4×5.65” version or you could go with the “4×4” version to lower cost even further. I went with the wider filter as I didn’t want to be restricted with using wide angle lenses.

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The main reason I choose the JTZ matte box was the top handle as I have not seen any other matte box on offer that has an ergonomic edge over any other brand. I just see myself holding the rig more from the top.

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If you are wondering what the lens setup i’ll start with the Metabones FD to MFT mount adaptor then Canon FD 35mm concave lens and then the SLRMagic x50 Anamorphot adaptor and last add on the end the SLRMagic Rangefinder.

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Anyway for now the next step is power setup/management and to eliminate potential follow focus issues and find the right filters to install into the matte box.

This for me is a bit like building a motorcycle. Would you watch a TV show with cameramen building a camera rig in a garage all sweaty and covered in tattoos? Maybe.. Maybe not. lol

Prices as of Jan 2018

Panasonic GH4 Body: $1220
SmallRig GH4 cage: $115
SmallRig Handle: $118
SmallRig Rods: $19
JTZ DP30 Carbon Fiber 4×5.65″ Matte Box: $666

 

Regards,

[•] p 🔺 z r 🔺 h n

 

 

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[•] SLR Magic Anamorphot 2x 50 Anamorphic with SLR Rangefinder

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Video Here:

 

The SLR Magic Anamorphot 2x 50 is a anamorphic lens adapter designed for cinematography. Increases image resolution and detail by squashing / compressing the image horizontally by a factor of 2x to allow maximum utilisation of the cameras’ sensor, especially those of “full frame” dimensions.

Anamorphic lenses therefore require subsequent stretching, in post-production or at projection. Intended for use with shooting at 4:3, bringing the intended output to a standard 2.39:1 wide format with a higher resolution than simply letter-boxing the image in camera. The lens features an adjustable dioptre for “sweet spot” adjustment controls on focus, “near” and “far”.

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This SLR Magic anamorphic adapter also offers unique effects such as horizontal flare and streaks from light sources and ellipsoidal bokeh (great with the use of the optional +1.8 diopter), for cinematographers wanting a characteristic filmic look. Depth of field is also affected, as in practice when using an anamorphic lens a longer focal length is required in order to achieve the same angle of view. Therefore anamorphic lenses produce a shallower, more cinematic depth of field than a the same lens without the adapter.
This SLR Magic anamorphic adapter also offers unique effects such as horizontal flare and streaks from light sources and ellipsoidal bokeh, for cinematographers wanting a characteristic filmic look. Depth of field is also affected, as in practice when using an anamorphic lens a longer focal length is required in order to achieve the same angle of view. Therefore anamorphic lenses produce a shallower, more cinematic depth of field than a the same lens without the adapter.
The adapter has a 77mm front filter thread and a native 62mm rear thread. As such it is only suitable for lenses which have a front element size of 50mm or less. Limitations of close focusing is helped with the use of dioptres which further enhances image. resolution and sharpness on close / medium distance applications.

PLEASE NOTE: Due to the additional weight of the Anamorphot adapter and extra strain placed on the taking lens the use of of lens support is essential at all times.

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Regards,

[•] p 🔺 z r 🔺 h n

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[•] Canon SLR Verse Leica M Rangefinder

SLR Vs Rangefinder

The fight between the ever popular SLR and the sleek Rangefinder.

SLR camera’s are well known for displaying digital readings in the viewfinder. Many people are too busy with their face hard pressed to the viewfinder watching and altering the shutter speeds and aperture that it distracts the emotional connection to just take a photograph. It is as reminiscent to watching a timer count down from 4000 to 0 and thats a long time spent watching that in shutter speed.

So with all this information flooding our eyes which include; white balance, multiple focusing points selection, custom controls and picture styles people get too lost with the basic’s of taking that photograph. You see it all the time the brain is flooded and half the time you see people just looking at the back of the screen and the emotional connection is lost. (Chimping was invented by the digital SLR)

Photography through a Rangefinder is a different story and that story have been un-altered for about 100 years. Looking at the design its quite simple and clear that a rangefinder connects you to the camera at your finger tips physically therefor it emotionally connects you to taking a photograph.

This is what I have found most enjoyable with photographing with a Leica compared to a SLR or newer digital SLR. The biggest light bulb moments I see with people when they first use a rangefinder they say “I am instantly connected” but when you ask them why? they just say that it “just feels right”…..and like the old saying “Can’t put my finger on it” and making a physical connection thats where it become’s far more emotional and spiritual. So you can see why a Leica photographer would call themselves a purist photographer.

When I picked up the Leica that connection was instantly changed and it was felt as I flipped, rotated and spun the camera in my hands . Looking closely at the design I said to myself those German’s have done it right. There’s a lot of thought that goes into designing a camera and technology doesn’t always have to take over completely and it doesn’t need too. We need to take a step back from the advanced technological side before worrying about the extra features in the next camera and what it has because you loose yourself from the basic purpose of just taking a photograph.

I have always loved photography since I first picked up a camera and admit both styles of camera’s compliment each other in many ways. Its a good feeling just take a photograph with the basic’s and there’s nothing wrong with that even though it might cost an arm a leg and an arm for that new Leica M. But to many that price point is a problem so where do we all find our selves.. Back at the beginning lost in the world of wasting time on the cheaper alternative 😉

Feel free to comment on your thoughts of SLR verse Rangefinder.

Camera’s in the photograph;

Canon F-1New with FD 50mm 1.2L
Canon F-1 with FD 85mm 1.2L
Leica M7 with 35mm Summicron ASPH F2
Leica MP with 50mm Summicron F2

Photo taken with a Canon 5D Mark III with 24-105mm F4 L lens 😉

 

Regards,

[•] p 🔺 z r 🔺 h n

 

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