Category Archives: Camera Gear

The “Creative Mindset” – Part 1

One of the key characteristics of the creative personality is boredom.

Creatives simply grow tired of current trends faster than the typical consumer. And they likely work harder than the typical consumer to stay on the cutting edge of that question-“Yes, but what is next?”

It never ceases to amaze me how many people suddenly realize their interest in a specific look, color, or pattern- after years of hard work in the industry to make that trend “stick.” (Remember that Cerulean Sweater scene in Devil Wears Prada?) It is no accident every baby nursery in the U.S. is currently painted in Grey and Yellow/Turquoise Chevron.

The real curiosity is that every mother thinks they have landed on this look entirely of their own creative ingenuity. (More on this later)

Obviously, there are trends to art and fashion just as there are in current tech.

This is the key- Understanding where the Creatives are heading gives you a major advantage in scouting out the appropriate gear, before the rush begins. This was the case several years ago with the adaptation of Nikon/Canon, and then Leica lenses to the EPIC, and other camera systems. (Several lenses I had purchased for under 200 now sell for 3-5x that on Ebay.)

A good example of this type of trend? Anamorphic lenses.

J.J. Abrams gets a LOT of flak about his lens flares.  And just look at that production quality:)

But he started a trend. One that was visibly different than any other Director/Producer, and one that built Bad Robot into a major player in Hollywood- eventually leading to his placement on Star Trek, and now Star Wars.

Studio Executives saw something “different” in his films, and likely could not put their finger on what made his stuff look so unique. Now- everyone knows, and is has almost become a joke. Flares are mimicked everywhere. And to the creative, that equals boredom.

Fortunately, trends in film also move somewhat slowly. This is especially the case as the Development/Production cycle for a film may take a year or two.

Here are a few more recent trends worth mentioning:

1. Teal/Orange.

The “strongest” visual color contrast pairing available on film, the dynamic look lent itself primarily to action films- and the trend was so overplayed it became visually nauseating, at least in my estimation. See Tron, Iron Man, Transformers. (and more examples) Fortunately, it may also be close to played out in 2015.

 

2. Tilt/Shift Photography.

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Though more commonly used in photography, the technique certainly gained prominence with the ability to adapt Nikon/Canon lenses to digital cinema cameras. The significant change to the depth of field caused such a drastic visual difference, it was jarring, but also quickly became a sort of Youtube novelty. And a little bit does go a LONG way.

See it used (correctly) in Social Network’s Boating Scene:

 

3. POV shooting. GoPro has made it’s mark.

As headache inducing as they may be on a large screen; 1st person video games, handheld “Prosumer” cameras, and the extreme sports world have all done their part in ingraining this singularly unique perspective of the world into our consciousness. (I will cover much more on DRONES later.)

Action shots are more intense, immediate, and personal, even if at the sacrifice of picture quality and resolution. And GoPro is always hard at work making significant advances in higher resolution cameras for this type of application.

I cannot say enough about the standard of quality and price point for such a compact camera: 4K 30 FPS, WIRELESS Audio/Video output and camera control, stereo onboard mics) Great stuff from such a small camera.

For whatever it is worth, this trend may be just gaining steam on the big screen. Look for much more of this type of footage in 2015, and likely over the next few years. With such intense brand loyalty, it appears GoPro may be just getting started.

(By the way, you HAVE to see this: The Ultimate POV Shootout. This could certainly snap a less extraordinary man’s neck!)

 

There are other trends out there-and we may cover several more next time- But the key is this: Once a trend has been spotted, prices and availability of gear do not tend to go back down.

Anamorphic and Tilt/Shift lenses can be difficult to obtain, and the prices are soaring. They used to be nearly useless, and often sat on Ebay for quite some time- relatively unnoticed. Not the case now.

It all comes down to the following:

1. Know your gear. Be vastly curious about “what else” your camera is capable of; Tech is evolving quickly.

2. Stay on top of what gear is being introduced, and what it allows you to DO that you could not before. (think MOVI!)

3. Specifically seek out challenges: what has not been done yet? Do not be afraid to seek out the especially difficult stuff FIRST. Show even a glimpse of what could be possible, and others will come along to simplify the process. Remember- if it were simple now, everyone would already be doing it.

and finally:

4. Don’t be afraid of a little boredom.

 

My next post will include a few trends I am currently interested in, and links to some of the best methods for staying up to date on gear that can make it all happen. It may just be worth checking it out for yourself.

 

See you soon!

-Stephen

Discovering the Canon 400mm R-SET F4.5

Every once in a while, something really cool will make it’s way to my desk. Most people know of my fondness for older lenses, so it was a nice surprise to find this on my desk this week:

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A friend’s Grandfather had passed away and left him with this Canon 400mm r-set f4.5. Fairly good condition, considering the age.

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Oddly enough,  I was not able to locate much documentation of the lens online- (so let me know if you are aware of any additional information on it!)

Here are some additional photos you may find interesting.

The bellows first caught my attention. They were in great condition, and were easily removable from the lens itself, so they could probably mount well to other lenses as well. They extended a good 8-10 inches:

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Loved the nice smooth 15 Blade Iris! (Notice the mount type- likely a Canon FL?)

And removable filter tray:

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And check out the Lens sight/viewfinder on this thing! Along with the long metal hood, it certainly added quite a bazooka-like look to the lens:

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So what’s the fun of having a lens if you don’t at least try and mount it to Dragon? I do not happen to have a Canon FL-EF lens mount adapter on hand, but the lens was heavy enough that a few packets of post-it notes brought it to the proper height to line it up for at least a peek:)

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And there you go- lens was in focus, and easily covered the sensor at 6K FF. This is a Scarlet Box, around 16 feet away:

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I may do additional tests or get it up on an actual lens projector, (after the purchase of a $10 Adapter) if anyone is interested. Feel free to make me an offer on the lens as well, if it fits your collection. Owner is definitely looking to sell.

Thanks for reading,

-Stephen

 

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Yes, Please.

You NEED to take a good hard look at this lens:

Why? Because it is changing the look of cinema. Really. It is a Wide Angle, T2.8, Full Frame Zoom. Yes- it even covers the Epic Sensor in 5k, and still shoots sharper than you can imagine. I must admit have been wanting this *Back ordered* lens for quite some time.

The Duclos Team has taken a good thing and made it even better- with it’s custom Cinema Mod, adding solid geared rings and a PL or Nikon mount. (They also managed to send the Ebay price of these Tokina lenses through the roof.) And it is so small! Just look at how beautifully it works with the Epic-

Ever since the Redrock Adapter became popular, the general consensus has seemed to be: Shallow Depth of Field= Professional. But when you have a camera capable of capturing 5K worth of usable resolution, it seems such a waste to use it all on Bokeh.

-Nothing demonstrated this better than seeing the images of Africa by helicopter in District 9. I believe that ever since than, audiences have started changing their opinions about what looks professional.. and projected in 4K, this lens is simply gorgeous. Just set it to infinity, and run around with the record button on.:) Here’s a Duclos Example-

With the Tokina 11-16, you open yourself up to an entire world. One with very wide, very sharp images. It works great for Timelapse, Nature, Architecture, and you can take it ANYWHERE. Think of it as cinema’s version of the GoPro. Although- you throw your Epic out of an airplane at your own risk.

As an added plus, it easily houses a set of Lee filters to the front with minimal vignetting, even at 11mm!!!

For Further info, here is an Evin Grant post about modding the Lee holder to fit Glass Filters-

http://reduser.net/forum/showthread.php?58313-Great-filter-solution-for-the-Duclos-11-16

There are also a ton of examples if you search Duclos or Tokina 11-16 on Vimeo.

Enjoy!

Stephen B.

Skater Dollies- Part 1

Though not a new piece of Technology, I am in total awe of PS Technik’s Skater Mini Dolly. Discovering this demo reel only further reinforced the versatility and solid design of the Mini Dolly in my mind- and why I would own one if my wallet were suddenly 5 thousand dollars fatter.

5 THOUSAND Dollars??? Reading around the forums, most users seem to be equally astonished at the price. Sure, it’s precise, but isn’t it basically 3 skate wheels and a mount?! It also happens to be the most original concept on the market- and it looks like what you are paying for most is the concept. (And a highly patented one at that.)

Surely there has to be something even *close* with a slightly less demanding price tag?? For several years, the answer has been NO. Although on DVXUser, a guy named Texanite was briefly selling his DIY version. Unfortunately, he had so many requests to build one, he eventually called it quits (somewhere around Skater #10.)

It looked like this:

But where there is demand, there is eventually supply. I was browsing Ebay the other day, and ran into the junk-crap-cheapo *ahem.. * ..Indie version for 120.00.

Pictured here:

I don’t usually go for cheap junk, but it does still appear to be the only alternative to selling a kidney for the PS Technik Skater. (What’s a Kidney go for these days anyway??) And with the diminished size of the Epic, it just may work- at least for something. Either way, it could serve as a good jumping off point if I were able to improve upon the original design- or just end up using it as a rolling Hi Hat.

From first glance, there are definitely design issues. Without a proper reference, the degree marks look only slightly more than useless- and the wheels are at the end of the spokes instead of in the middle like the PS Technik, so weight may be an issue. Also, the wheels will be unable to rotate a full 360 degrees, and from the look of the triangular design, aligning the wheels for certain movements may throw off the balance enough to topple the rig:) But it got my interest enough to seriously consider trying it out with some well deserved Christmas bonus cash. (Well deserved because I had to lead music for our Christmas Service with Strep Throat) Anyhow.. It does have a 7 Day return Policy..

Ordered. If there is any useability to this at all, I will certainly document it here.

Keep ya Posted.

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