Canon XF405 Review – Sample Footage and First Impressions

 Cinematography, Gear  Comments Off on Canon XF405 Review – Sample Footage and First Impressions
Oct 262017
 

With the introduction of the new Canon XF405, XF400, LEGRIA/VIXIA GX10 – as well as the whole of Sony’s new line – one can assume that the fastest growing market for news and documentary shooting is coming in the form of 4K (UHD), handheld 1” sensor-size cameras. It is not that we haven’t had them before, but they certainly have been getting better and more feature-rich with time. When it comes to affordability… well, it totally depends on who you are talking to and the model you choose.

Canon XF405 camera

If you are an independent filmmaker looking for an all-round shooting device that can produce a bit of a cinematic look thanks to a slightly larger sensor than those traditionally found in these type of cameras, or if you’re a broadcaster looking to equip news crews with a versatile and affordable piece of equipment, then the Canon XF405/400/LEGRIA GX10 might be the right cameras for you. Sound tempting? Then read on for my full Canon XF405 review.

Before continuing, it is important for me to make it clear that the image coming out of the camera I tested may be slightly different than that of the final product.

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Sony a7R III Announced Along Sony 24-105mm f4 and 400m f2.8

 Gear  Comments Off on Sony a7R III Announced Along Sony 24-105mm f4 and 400m f2.8
Oct 262017
 

Today is a Sony announcement day that sees the unveiling of the Sony a7R III and 24-105mm f4 zoom, and the announcement of an upcoming 400m f2.8 G Master lens.

Sony a7R III

The wait is over: Sony has finally unveiled the first in the new generation of the A7 series. As always, the Sony a7R III comes at the vanguard of the new announcements – ahead of the A7 and S models – and this time brings a host of improvements to existing features and a few new surprises.

As expected, the new Sony a7R III brings a high pixel-count sensor, with its 42.4MP of resolution once again making this the model aimed primarily at professional stills photographers. The camera’s back-illuminated Exmor R and BIONZ X processor make this model capable of capturing 10 still frames per second, for a buffer of 76 continuous compressed RAW or JPEG images. ISO is available from 100-32000, and Sony claims that noise has been reduced by up to a full stop.

All of this with the advanced autofocus capabilities we have come to expect from this line’s R model, thanks to its 399 phase-detection AF points across 68% of the image, in addition to 425 contrast-detection points. Sony also claims that the camera’s Eye AF performance has been improved when the subject is moving, backlit or looking down.

What about video?

Just like with the II, the new Sony a7R III is capable of recording internal 4K in both full-frame and Super 35mm modes. As you may remember from some of our camera tests of the previous generation, the A7R II offered a better 4K image in crop mode, so it remains to be seen whether this will still be the case with the a7R III (take a look at some comparisons here, and our review here). It’s worth mentioning that the camera also supports proxy recording for easier editing of high-resolution videos, particularly useful when dealing with the relatively processor-intensive XAVC codec. Additionally, one of the biggest improvements to the video capabilities of the camera is the ability to achieve an increased resolution of 5K in Super 35mm mode thanks to an oversampling of a 15MP section of the sensor.

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Sony a7R III Mirrorless Digital Camera Body

Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS E-Mount NEX Camera Lens

Why the Brush Tool Has a Weird Purple Line in Photoshop CC 2018

 Technique  Comments Off on Why the Brush Tool Has a Weird Purple Line in Photoshop CC 2018
Oct 242017
 

If you’ve started using Photoshop CC 2018, you may have noticed a strange purple line following your brush around as you’re using it now. That line is called a “brush leash,” and here’s a helpful 6-minute video by retoucher Pratik Naik about what that purple line is and how you can use and customize it.

Basically, the purple brush leash is meant to serve as a guide for the Smoothing feature of the Brush Tool. Turning Smoothing down to 0% removes the purple line and restores the brush tool to the original version.

You can also turn off the brush leash in the Cursors panel of your Preferences.

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How to Use the Foreground to Create Depth in Landscape Photos

 Technique  Comments Off on How to Use the Foreground to Create Depth in Landscape Photos
Oct 242017
 

Sometimes a beautiful landscape scene doesn’t look as good on camera as it did to your eye, but that’s because translating a 3-dimensional scene into a 2-dimensional space is challenging. Using strong foreground elements in your composition is one way to create depth and counter this problem, as shown in this 8-minute tutorial from Nature TTL.

There are a huge number of different rules and compositional guides you can adhere to, but one lesser-known rule is the “Rule of Odds.”

This suggests using an odd number of objects in your foreground, as the eye tends to find itself being drawn to the middle one. This means that you can use objects as stepping stones, drawing the eye into the image.

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PolarPro FiftyFifty Review – A New Way to Compose Your Watersport Shots

 Gear  Comments Off on PolarPro FiftyFifty Review – A New Way to Compose Your Watersport Shots
Oct 162017
 

The PolarPro FiftyFifty is the latest gadget for the GoPro HERO 5: a dome for split shots over and underwater. Read on for sample footage and my impressions.

Having used GoPro gear for the last few years, I am constantly amazed by the evolution of the cameras and their accessories. I recently got my hands on the PolarPro FiftyFifty, a dome shaped-accessory that allows you to achieve shots above and below the water surface simultaneously.

Now you may ask, why would I need a dome? Couldn’t I just hold the GoPro half way over and under water? There are two reasons why this isn’t a good idea. First, the GoPro’s tiny lens makes it difficult to accurately hit that half/half position. Secondly, there’s the small detail of physics blurring your image: the surface tension of the water, in addition to the air and plastic front lens creates a contact angle with a water surface curvature, acting like an optical element. If this happens directly on your front lens, it blurs a lot of your recorded image. However, if this phenomenon happens further away – hence the dome – then it occupies only a small portion of the image, and you get a clear split shot.

The PolarPro FiftyFifty

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Looking Through the Viewfinder of a Hasselblad XPan

 Gear  Comments Off on Looking Through the Viewfinder of a Hasselblad XPan
Oct 022017
 

The XPan was the first Hasselblad camera to 35mm film and was able to shoot ultra-wide panorama negatives. Photographer Jordan Lockhart decided to mount an action camera to his XPan to capture what it’s like to frame the world and shoot with this unique camera.

“It took us a while to figure out a proper way to make this work but we eventually found out a decent solution, which I hope will give you a taste of why I love this camera so much,” writes Vincent Moschetti of OYWFO, who made the 6-minute video above showing the experiment. “We used a roll of Kodak Portra 800 which seemed like the perfect film to use on this rainy day and explore the city of Tampere in Finland.”

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Phantom Flex VEO 4K-PL Exclusive Hands-On

 Cinematography, Gear  Comments Off on Phantom Flex VEO 4K-PL Exclusive Hands-On
Oct 022017
 

Vision Research has recently introduced a new Phantom VEO 4K-PL, which like its older brother Phantom Flex 4K, can shoot up to 1000fps at full 4K DCI resolution, but in a smaller and more compact body.

What is the Phantom VEO line?

They say that when you touch a Phantom camera you go straight to heaven. At least that’s how I feel. Vision Research is a company that started out with high-speed cameras for military testing and analysing car-crash impacts, only to later turn its eye to the film industry with its revolutionary tech. In 2014, Vision Research introduced the mind-blowing Phantom Flex 4K camera, capable of 1000 frames-per-second at full 4K DCI resolution, in what many would consider the best quality 4K RAW compared to RED and even ARRI. Last year, Vision Research introduced the VEO line, a more compact version of their film industry cameras that continue the trend set by the ARRI Mini and RED – that smaller is better. Less weight and a more compact design mean more possibilities, such as the use of stabilisation platforms and even UAV. In comparison, the Phantom Flex 4K body weighs an incredible 5kg without ANYTHING on it. Add a lens, follow focus, rods, viewfinder, batteries, monitor and you can easily accumulate a weight that not many gimbals can handle.

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GlassMak Artist prototype portable makeup mirror system – IBC 2017

 Gear  Comments Off on GlassMak Artist prototype portable makeup mirror system – IBC 2017
Sep 242017
 

The GlassMak Studio is a transportable make-up mirror light developed for make-up artists and hairdressers to use on location.

Developed and manufactured in Paris, the GlassMak Studio is designed for professionals in the TV, broadcast and film industries looking for a rugged, color accurate illuminated mirror.

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A Look at Blackmagic’s URSA Mini Pro Mirrored SSD Recorder Add-On

 Cinematography, Gear  Comments Off on A Look at Blackmagic’s URSA Mini Pro Mirrored SSD Recorder Add-On
Sep 212017
 
 URSA Mini Pro Mirrored SSD Recorder

Blackmagic Design has listened to customer requests and developed an SSD recorder for the URSA Mini Pro, which was announced earlier this year. This allows users to to get fast recordings on to larger-capacity media. It attaches to the rear of the URSA Mini Pro and enables you to mirror recordings in the same codec and format that is recorded internally.

The URSA Mini Pro Mirrored SSD Recorder connects via 2 SDI cables to the camera. However Tim tells us that it records the files as original data in the chosen format and not via an SDI stream.

For productions that require multiple sets of rushes, such as for sending to archive or a post-production facility, the new URSA Mini Pro mirrored SSD recording capability allows for a much faster workflow than needing to create copies of sometimes very large files or long video clips.

The choice of using SSDs was due to the low cost and wide availability of the medium. The SSD recorder works in the same way as the Blackmagic Design Hyperdeck, and recommends the same high-speed drives to use in the recorder. It mounts directly onto the camera, and is designed to be used exclusively with the URSA Mini Pro.

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The New Cmotion cPRO Wireless Hand Unit Offers Ultimate Focus Control

 Gear  Comments Off on The New Cmotion cPRO Wireless Hand Unit Offers Ultimate Focus Control
Sep 212017
 

We took a look at the new Cmotion cPRO lens controller, a feature packed, professional hand unit for professional focus assistance with Camin integration.

We saw a very interesting and affordable low end wireless focus control solution with Tilta’s new $399 Nucleus-N yesterday. Today we’re looking at state of the art high end stuff. Here’s what Cmotion had in store during IBC 2017.

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Here’s the First 8K Timelapse Shot with the Nikon D850

 Gear  Comments Off on Here’s the First 8K Timelapse Shot with the Nikon D850
Sep 072017
 

The new Nikon D850 lets you create 8K timelapses using the 45.7-megapixel sensor and the built-in Interval Timer. If you’ve been wanting to see what 8K shot with the camera looks like, today’s your lucky day: we got our hands on the first 8K timelapse short film shot on the D850.

The 2.5-minute video above was captured by photographer and Nikon Ambassador Lucas Gilman in Iceland using a pre-production D850. If you somehow have an 8K-capable screen, be sure to select the 4320p/8K quality option in the video to watch it in its full glory.

Here’s an illustration showing how much more resolution 8K has than 4K, Full HD, and SD:

Gilman says he chose to test the camera’s 8K capabilities in Iceland due to the movements that can be seen everywhere in the landscapes and due to the microclimates that provide a huge amount of visual diversity even in a short amount of time.

The project was challenging though: there’s only a single sunrise and sunset you can capture each day, and each 3-4 second sequence in the video above took hours for Gilman to plan and shoot. He was planning to shoot night scenes as well, but Iceland’s days were 20 hours long while he was in the country.

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Olympus E-M10 III – Sample Footage and Exclusive First Impressions

 Gear  Comments Off on Olympus E-M10 III – Sample Footage and Exclusive First Impressions
Sep 062017
 

Johnnie had a chance to be one of the first to get his hands on the new Olympus E-M10 III and test its video capabilities.

Finally, a short family summer vacation. It is time to pack, leave work behind and slow down to the point that only the necessary body organs are working (brain excluded). But wait, whom am I kidding? The courier just rang the door bell, bringing a small package containing the shiny new Olympus E-M10 III. Now, as a workaholic, my options are limited: cancel my vacation and risk an immediate divorce, or pack my production bag and search for a story to shoot while on vacation. Knowing from past experience that mixing a family activity and work is a bad idea, I decided to leave behind my ambitions of a big production and scale everything down to the minimum. My simple tourist setup consisted of this small new Micro Four Thirds camera, the extremely cheap Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ pancake kit lens and my trusted Heliopan Vari ND filter. THAT’S IT – no tripod, no slider, no gimbal, just pure simplicity. And enough to be reassured that there is no substitute for having fun when filming with a small camera, no matter how good its bigger brothers may perform.

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Matthews Grip Goes Mobile – MSE Rover Smartphone Cage

 Gear  Comments Off on Matthews Grip Goes Mobile – MSE Rover Smartphone Cage
Aug 232017
 

With the Rover smartphone cage system, grip manufacturer Matthews Studio Equipment enters the world of smartphone filmmaking.

 

With its 50 years of experience in the manufacture of grip equipment, Matthews Studio Equipment has become synonymous with industry-standard, quality products. Matthews’ new Rover smartphone cage system first made an appearance back in February for an unsuccessful Kickstarter campaign. Despite this brief setback, MSE went ahead with product development, bringing their pedigree in the industry into the new era of smartphone filmmaking.

The core of the Rover system are the two aluminium brackets that hold your phone in place. The system has been designed to work with most popular smartphones models and 3rd-party lens systems.

The cage itself is attached to a frame made of rods, which makes it possible to customise the placement of various accessories. In addition to a repositionable cold-shoe mount and fourteen 1/4”-20 mounting points (which Matthews calls Points of Freedom), the system also includes a tripod mount so you can attach a plate and go from sticks to handheld in no time.

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Sigma Cine High Speed Zoom Line – Sample Footage & Review

 Cinematography, Gear  Comments Off on Sigma Cine High Speed Zoom Line – Sample Footage & Review
Aug 172017
 

In this guest review, DP and Director Thomas Schweighofer takes a look at the Sigma Cine High Speed Zoom line during a documentary shoot with a RED EPIC-W Helium 8K. Please also read Graham Sheldon’s extensive review of both Sigma zoom lenses, which we published a few months ago. 

I recently had the chance to shoot a documentary project in the US featuring Austrian musician Dominic Muhrer and American Superstar Joshua Ledet. In order to achieve a better image quality in this particular project, I wanted to get my hands on some of the new Sigma cine primes, but at that point in time it was just too early to get a set. Instead, the folks at Sigma contacted me and told me to test their Sigma Cine High Speed Zoom cine line. I agreed but, being so used to shooting with primes, I didn’t expect too much. 

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How to Maximize Your DJI Spark Dynamic Range in Postproduction

 Gear  Comments Off on How to Maximize Your DJI Spark Dynamic Range in Postproduction
Aug 172017
 

Amongst the drones available on the market in 2017, the DJI Spark is surely not amongst the top ones in terms of files quality. The sequences it creates are quite difficult to color grade in postproduction and thus it makes it hard for videographers to mix the clips with footage from another camera. However, there are ways to improve what you can get out of Spark’s videos. Casey Faris gives us one of the tricks he uses to maximize the dynamic range of the images.

The DJI Spark is without a doubt an incredibly attractive product to get into aerial photography and videography. But its price comes at the cost of more advanced features found on the Phantom and Mavic, such as log footage. The sequences produced by the Spark are very contrasty, sharp, and quite saturated. It’s not a bad thing for average users, but it’s far from ideal for those who want to color grade their footage.

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Review: The Laowa 15mm f/2 FE Zero-D is a Fine Lens at a Fair Price

 Gear  Comments Off on Review: The Laowa 15mm f/2 FE Zero-D is a Fine Lens at a Fair Price
Aug 102017
 

A few weeks ago Laowa sent me a copy of their first lens dedicated to Sony’s full frame E-mount system, the 15mm f/2. This lens is meant for landscape and astrophotographers who want to capture as much of the beautiful night sky as possible; which means wide and fast.

Last year, I was able to get a copy of their 12mm f/2.8 for Canon and used it on my Sony a7R II with a Metabones adaptor. I was quite surprised how much I enjoyed the lens. A lot of what was great about that lens can be translated over to this one as well.

First, let’s talk about the physical design and characteristics.

Physical Characteristics

Since it was designed for a mirrorless system, they were able to pack in a very wide lens with a fast aperture into a compact system. They’re able to keep things slim thanks to a shorter flange focal distance and by staying clear from fancier things like autofocus or stabilization. What you’re getting is glass and metal. The 15mm is built like a tank. I don’t feel like I’m using a plastic toy. That does mean that it is a bit on the heavier side, but still pleasant to use (500g or 1.1 lbs).

The aperture ring can click in one stop increments from f/2 to f/22; or can be declicked — great for you video buffs. I did a quick video to show off the smooth transition between exposures as well as to see how things look at f/2. You can certainly see some vignetting going on here but this is wide open on a very wide lens, that’s going to happen with these kinds of specs. The bokeh is actually quite pleasing if you want to get super close to your subject like I did here. That’s not going to happen often, but at least you can see how that turns out.

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DJI Spark Review – Is it Really Suitable For Professionals?

 Gear  Comments Off on DJI Spark Review – Is it Really Suitable For Professionals?
Aug 012017
 

As a professional filmmaker and DJI Mavic shooter, Tamás Kiss wanted to test the capabilities of the tiny new DJI Spark drone, so he took it to the challenging Icelandic climate to put it through its paces. Here’s his DJI Spark Review, that confirms a lot of the observations I made during my hands-on session with the tiny new drone. – Introduction by Sebastian Wöber.

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A First Look at the Canon 6D Mark II Camera, by Alex Cooke

 Gear  Comments Off on A First Look at the Canon 6D Mark II Camera, by Alex Cooke
Jul 082017
 

Canon recently released both the 6D Mark II and SL2 cameras. The 6D Mark II was particularly anticipated, as it is Canon’s cheapest and lightest full-frame DSLR. Here’s a helpful and practical first look at the newest DSLR in the Canon family.

Kaiman Wong recently had a chance to play with the new Canon 6D Mark II. With 45 cross-type AF points, a fully articulating screen, improved burst speed, and dual pixel autofocus, it’s an intriguing option for those looking to break into the full frame world. Of course, it’s missing features to distinguish it from the 5D Mark IV, most notably 4K and a second card slot.

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New Nebula 5100 Slant Gimbal and Other Accessories from Filmpower, by Fabian Chaundy

 Gear  Comments Off on New Nebula 5100 Slant Gimbal and Other Accessories from Filmpower, by Fabian Chaundy
Jul 012017
 

Filmpower — the company behind the popular Nebula gimbals — have announced the new Nebula 5100 Slant 3-axis gimbal, a new line of shotgun microphones and a wireless follow focus system.

Nebula 5100 Slant

A couple of years ago, the Nebula 4000 from Filmpower was one of the many popular choices among a new breed of affordable 3-axis gimbal stabilisers for DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. A few incarnations later, the Nebula 5100 (covered HERE) offered amazing battery life, time-lapse support, unlimited rotation on all axis and strong encoded motors that needed very little balancing. The newest model, the Nebula 5100 Slant, has already been announced, coming only a few months after the original 5100 and offering some interesting structural improvements.

The Slant part of the name refers to the new design of the roll-axis arm, which now sits at a 45-degree angle from the camera rather than totally perpendicular behind the screen. According to Filmpower, not only does this improve the overall rigidity of the unit, but it also allows for a heavier total payload: the 900g Nebula 5100 Slant can take camera systems up to 3.2kg — a whole 700g more than its predecessor. Additionally, the new design allows for a clear view of your camera’s rear LCD monitor for easier use.

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How to Improve the Sound of Your Speech in Premiere Pro, by Alex Cooke

 Technique  Comments Off on How to Improve the Sound of Your Speech in Premiere Pro, by Alex Cooke
Jun 232017
 

You can have the most visually stunning videos, but if you sound like you’re talking to your audience from two rooms over, they won’t be engaged by your work. Here’s how to get better-sounding speech in Premiere Pro.

Part of being a good video editor means getting your sound editing skills up to speed. Premiere Pro borrows some tools from Audition, Adobe’s audio editing software, to give video editors the ability to improve their sound within the program.

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