Saturday, June 09, 2012

Quick Links

Canon EOS 7D Firmware Version 2 Coming Soon | CanonRumors
There's been rumors of a Canon 7D firmware update appearing over the last couple of weeks, and CanonRumors now has what appears to be complete - unofficial - details of the update, which includes lots of things for still photographers, and even something for video shooters:
During EOS Movie shooting you will be able to manually adjust the audio recording levels to one of 64 levels, whilst the sound volume during playback can be set to one of 11 levels. During movie recording noise from the aperture is reduced and the camera also has an automatic wind cut filter.

Jag35 Street Runner Review | Rick Macomber | Vimeo
Rick has put together a nicely shot review of this camera rig:
The Street Runner is a new affordable rig from the folks at Jag35. It's very similar to it's bigger brother, the Field Runner, which has two front grip handles, a top handle and a slightly different configuration. The Street Runner rig can be customized to fit your needs. You can add more parts and accessories to it down the road. As is... it's the perfect light weight rig for budget minded shooters using DSLRs or small HD camcorders. Look. I know it's not as cool as some of the beefier more expensive rigs. But everyone must begin somewhere. And this rig will help get you up and running without breaking the bank!

Getting ready for Euro 2012 “Four layers later the final conclusion” | Philip Jonhston | HD Warrior
Philip has posted a series of short pieces explaining issues he's encountered putting together a video using multiple image and video sources:
Finally after a lot of investigation it looks like we are ready for our first Euro 2012 web insert tomorrow. The Canon C300 will shoot the chroma key inserts and Final Cut Pro 10 will be used to edit various footage from multiple sources. Due to using Matrox MX02 FW 2.5 I have had to forgo external monitoring.
The graphic above is 4 layers, the Euro 2012 logo, the blue background, iPad coaching App insert and Scott the presenter via chroma key all done with FCPX.

Top ten Reasons Why Film Makers Screw Up In High Level Negotiations | Chris Jones | Blog
Tips on better negotiation:
3. Because I allowed them to lead the negotiations.
If you allow them to set the time, date and location for negotiations, you have already allowed them to win the first round. You may choose to do this as a tactic, but don’t let it happen by default. If you do allow this, when you enter the room, you will most likely find that they have set the agenda and they will run the negotiations completely.

Some Thoughts On 3D | rian johnson | Tumblr
Interesting article about 3D that talks more about what 3D might be, rather than what it is:
Looking through this portal, I could imagine what Scorsese described - true depth neatly contained in a frame, feeling the shape of a face, or the scope of a landscape. The reality of stereoscopic dropped away and my mind opened to an understanding of what an organic sense of depth applied to a moving picture would feel like. And he’s right, it’s the next step. It would really be the future of cinema.

Autodesk Digital Entertainment Conference | AutoDesk
AutoDesk is having a series of live webinars and on demand programs in 17 days (I couldn't find a quoted date on any page, just a count down....)
Meet the Experts: Autodesk & Blitz Games Studio
9:30 AM to 10:30 AM
Sony Pictures Imageworks presents MEN IN BLACK 3
10:30 AM to 11:30 AM
Autodesk Smoke is Changing. Everything.
11:30 AM to 12:30 PM

Around the Globe with DP, Zach Zamboni

The next Pub Night at Rule Boston Camera is Tuesday June 12, 6:00pm to 8:00pm and will feature DP Zach Zamboni. RSVP:

Friday, June 08, 2012

Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Pancake Lens

Canon announced a new, lost-cost pancake lens along with the T4i. Specifications are listed below:

This EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Pancake Lens [$199.99] from Canon is a welcome addition to Canon's line-up of EF lenses--a light, inconspicuous "normal" lens. At a featherweight 4.6 oz, this is the lightest lens (along with the 50mm f/1.8 II lens) in the EF family. It's less than one inch long, so it will never draw unwelcome attention to you when you're shooting in public. A bright f/2.8 maximum aperture allows you to shoot under pretty much any lighting conditions, and the sophisticated lens configuration, including one aspherical element, guarantees high image quality from the center to the edge of the frame. The optimized coatings used in constructing the lens greatly reduce ghosting and flare, and deliver superb color balance.

STM functionality provides quiet, smooth and continuous autofocus during video operation. The circular aperture formed by 7 diaphragm blades combined with the wide aperture can give you beautiful bokeh--the out-of-focus background areas of your images. This 40mm lens will give you a view equivalent to 64mm when used on a camera with an APS-C sensor, and is able to focus as close as 11.81". If you're looking for a "normal", everyday lens, this is a good place to start.

  • Newly developed STM technology for smooth and quiet continuous AF while shooting video.
  • Lightweight and unobtrusive 4.6 oz lens is less than one inch long
  • Bright f/2.8 aperture for shooting under all light conditions
  • High image quality from the center to the periphery thanks to its advanced lens configuration including an aspherical element
  • Optimized coatings that minimize ghosting and flare while providing exceptional color balance
  • A circular aperture (7 blades) for beautiful soft-focus backgrounds
  • Short minimum focusing distance of only 11.81"
  • Mounted on a camera with an APS-C sensor, this lens offers a view similar to a 64mm lens in 35mm format

B&H: Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Pancake Lens [$199.99]

Canon Announces T4i

Continuous AF during HD Video Recording
For the first time in a Canon EOS DSLR, the EOS Rebel T4i includes Canon’s new Movie Servo AF for recording video. When used with Canon’s new EF and EF-S STM lenses, the camera can provide smooth and quiet continuous AF while recording video. This technological breakthrough enables the new EOS Rebel T4i to achieve AF while still retaining a DSLR camera’s signature background blur and image quality, producing stunning videos of parties, events, summer vacations or graduations.

When shooting video with Canon’s STM lenses, AF also remains silent, helping ensure you only capture the sound of the scene being recorded. The EOS Rebel T4i features a built-in stereo microphone, a first for the Rebel line, that includes an attenuator function to reduce audio distortion in extra loud situations.

Canon also announced two new STM lenses, the EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens and EF 40mm f/2.8 STM lens.

Estimated delivery is end of June.

B&H: EOS Rebel T4i Digital Camera (Body Only) [$849]
B&H: EOS Rebel T4i Digital Camera with EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens [$1,199]
B&H: EOS Rebel T4i Digital Camera with EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II Lens [$949]

The full release:

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Quick Links

Don't Mean To Be Alarmist, But The TV Business May Be Starting To Collapse
| Henry Blodget | Business Insider
Interesting suggestion that television is in the same place as newspapers was a few years back...i.e. heading for doom...
We still consume some TV content, but we consume it when and where we want it, and we consume it deliberately: In other words, we don't settle down in front of the TV and watch "what's on." And, again with the exception of live sports, we've gotten so used to watching shows and series without ads that ads now seem extraordinarily intrusive and annoying. Our kids see TV ads so rarely that they're actually curious about and confused by them: "What is that? A commercial?"

Anatomy of a video file | Bryan Hastings | Macworld
A look at MPEG4 and AVCHD:
AVCHD (pronounced by its initials) stands for Advanced Video Coding High Definition. It arrived on the scene in 2006, is more fully featured than MPEG-4 and is rapidly gaining broad acceptance. Think of AVCHD as a kind of MPEG-4 "Plus’’. That’s because AVCHD is a container format that includes the MPEG-4 format, but tosses a lot of other stuff into the mix, like coding for audio, writing to different media including DVD and Blu-Ray discs, and Digital Rights Management, such as copy protection.

DV101: Raw Deal: What Does It Mean to Record Raw Imagery? | Jay Holben
| Creative Planet Network
And a look at what RAW means:
raw describes data that is recorded without any image processing or compression. After the analog-to-digital conversion happens at the camera’s sensor, you are recording the “raw” data from the sensor’s photosites.

OWC SSD in 17″ MacBook Pro | Vincent Laforet | Blog
Vincent recommends going SSD and replacing your CD/DVD drive with something like this: OWC / Other World Computing Data Doubler Optical to SATA HD Converter Bracket Kit for Mac Laptops with 240GB SSD and Optical Drive External Enclosure [$325.99] and $20 rebate through June 30.

Now that I think about it, that might be a pretty good idea; given that the DVD drive in my MacBook doesn't work any more!
I’ve removed the optical drive (what’s a CD/DVD anyway these days!?) and replaced it with a 256GB SSD from OWC (technically there is 240GB of writable space – the other 16GB is allocated for real time redundancy and error correction). So now my computer has two drives – a 256GB SSD, as well as the original 1TB, 7200 rpm drive that came installed in the laptop. In an ideal world I would have two SSD drives in there.

Stereo3D Toolbox 4.0 | FxFactory | NoiseIndustries
FxFactory 3.0.4 includes support for new versions of Stereo3D, both Pro and regular:
The advanced stereoscopic 3D post-production tool now supports Final Cut Pro X through a newly redesigned on-screen UI. The new version is a free update for existing customers. Compatible with Final Cut Pro 6, 7 and X, Motion 3, 4 and 5, After Effects CS3, CS4, CS5, CS5.5 and CS6.

John Schwartzman, ASC teams with director Michel Gondry to create an eye-popping look for the vigilante adventure The Green Hornet | Iain Stasukevich
| American Society of Cinematographers
This is from last year - and the movie wasn't that great - but they evidently shot it using a lot of "old" techniques, and this article describes some of them:
Schwartzman accentuated Reid’s alter ego with complex lighting cues. In a scene at a Chinese restaurant that’s filled with background extras and waiters buzzing between the tables, the camera dollies in on Reid as the ambient lights dim and a spotlight appears overhead. As he launches into a soliloquy, everyone else on the set freezes. At the end of his monologue, the camera dollies back, the lighting returns to normal, and all the players resume their actions.

Introducing Adobe SpeedGrade CS6 | Eric Philpott | Adobe
Adobe's new color grading tool SpeedGrade has it's own blog:
Welcome to Moving Colors, the new SpeedGrade blog! SpeedGrade CS6 is a new addition to Adobe Creative Suite and Creative Cloud and gives you professional color grading tools to take your visual storytelling to the next level.

Color grading used to be the domain of a select few, in part because of the high costs of the technology. But that has changed. Now you can do sophisticated color correction and look design on a laptop if you want to.

Why You’re Broke and Other Video Professionals Aren’t | Kris Simmons
| Dare Dreamer
Tips on marketing yourself:
Success Principle #3 – Get Religious About Staying In Touch With Your Network
I’ve worked with hundreds of videographers since 2007 and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that someone has their marketing toolbox in place, they network all the time but when I ask what they are doing to stay in touch with their network week in and week out, all I hear are crickets chirping on the other end of the phone.

New part numbers reveal Apple to refresh most of Mac lineup at WWDC
| Neil Hughes | AppleInsider
Everyone thinks Apple will announce some new hardware next week at the WWDC, but what?
A total of 14 new Mac models arriving next week would mean that Apple may upgrade an uncharacteristically large number of its computers at once. At present, a total of 20 different Mac models, not including build-to-order options, are listed in Apple's store among its five product lineups: MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Mac mini, iMac and Mac Pro.

A man who won't forget Ray Bradbury | Neil Gaiman | The Guardian
When Bradbury found out that he wanted to be a writer, he invited him to his office and spent half a day telling him the important stuff: if you want to be a writer, you have to write. Every day. Whether you feel like it or not. That you can't write one book and stop. That it's work, but the best kind of work. My friend grew up to be a writer, the kind who writes and supports himself through writing.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Rokinon 14mm Wide Angle Lens

I like wide-angle lenses. Whether using video cameras or still cameras, inevitably I find that I need to get further back to get the image I want. And sometimes, you can't physically move back far enough. I think I also like the somewhat distorted point of view you get.

I better admit up front that my favorite lens is Canon's 16-35mm L lens. It's a great lens - particularly if you have a crop sensor camera like the Canon 7D. Solid, smooth, and it produces a great image. I love this lens.

But at $1,600 it is expensive. What about something a bit cheaper?

Samyang has a reputation for making good quality, inexpensive lenses. But you might not have heard of them because they aren't sold under the Samyang name here in the United States. Instead, they are sold under a variety of names including Rokinon and Bower.

I already have another lens from Samyang, the 35mm f/1.4 lens, which at $499 is a good deal itself. But I recently got to play with the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 lens, which at $399 is even cheaper!

The first thing that stands out about this lens is that it’s a lot smaller than both the 16-35mm zoom lens, and the 35mm f/1.4 as well. Of course, given that it’s not a zoom lens, and it is designed for APS-C sensor cameras, that probably should not be a surprise. The second thing you notice about this lens is that the front of the lens curves out well in front of the outer barrel of the lens. This means that you can't easily attach a filter in front of the lens.

The lens seems to be well made and the manufacture of good quality. It may not have the feel of some Canon L lenses, but then some Canon L lenses feel cheapish. This lens feels solid. The focus ring is smooth, and the aperture ring has very distinct detents, thought it's not too stiff. But if you want to adjust the aperture while shooting video, that might be a problem.

The front element of the Rokinon lens.
You can see that it curves out beyond the barrel of the body of the lens

In Use
I think I'm getting old; or maybe too dependent upon automatic focusing in my camera. I found this lens to be much harder to manually focus than pretty much any other lens I've used. I'm not sure why that is. I really had to use the distance scale, and check by zooming - in video mode - a lot. Depending on how you are shooting, and what external monitoring options you have, this may or may not be an issue for you.

The focus ring turns through about 270 degrees from .28 meters to infinity, which may work well with a follow-focus.

Comparing the 14mm with my 16mm zoom lens, those 2 extra mm add a surprising amount of area to the image. This can be seen in the example below taken with both lenses. It's not huge, but it's noticeable.

Canon 16mm (top) Rokinon 14mm (bottom)

If you don’t already have a wide-angle lens and are looking for one on a budget for shooting video, this lens seems like a good choice. Don’t forget that Canon has a 14mm lens, with auto -focus, that is $2,199. That’s well out of my price range. Of course, that lens fits Canon full-frame sensor cameras (like the 5D), while the Rokinon is for APS-C cameras, like the 7D.

The image quality of the Rokinon is very good, and for an APS-C sensor camera, it gives you a pretty good wide-angle. For video use, having the manual aperture control is attractive for those who use their Canon EF mount lenses on other cameras with an adapter, like the Sony NEX-FS100.

But since I already have the Canon 16-35mm lens, this lens really had to have some significant advantage for me to consider adding it to my lens collection, even if it is only $400. At that price, it's certainly attractive, but I'm not sure the difference is quite enough.

As a still lens, I have to attest that I prefer auto-focus lenses. This lens, for some reason, really made that clear to me. Or maybe my eyes are going.

But perhaps the biggest issue for me is the inability to attach an ND filter in front of the lens. This is a problem for those shooting with a DSLR that lacks ND filters. Sure, you can use a matte box if you're shooting on a tripod or a large rig. But for run and gun shooting, a matte box is a problem.

This lens would work great for some things, and not so well for others. I recommend it if it will fit with the way you shoot and work.

NOTE: The review unit was loaned by B & H Photo Video.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Lensbaby Composer Sweet 35

I bought one of the original Lensbaby's - now called the "Muse" series [$149.95] - several years ago. I think that was before we were using DSLR's to shoot video and still thought of them as just "still cameras" And as a still effects lens, the Lensbaby can be a lot of fun; it provides a very ethereal, unworldly feel to an image.
Lensbaby Muse

The problem with the Muse model is that it uses a flexible tube that you push and pull against to create the effect. That's mostly okay for stills, where you can push it into place, hold it still for a second while you take a picture, and then let go....and try again if it didn't work out. But for video, that doesn't work quite so well. Actually, that flexible tube can be pretty stiff to hold in place even while taking stills.

Lensbaby then followed the original series with the "Control Freak" series [$309.99], which use three metal rods to keep the lens in position. An improvement - I'm sure, I haven't actually used that model - but those rods look like they make operation a bit slow and tedious.

Lensbaby Composer "Sweet 35"

Then they released the Composer series, which uses a ball and socket mechanism to move the lens. This may not give you quite the flexibility in the movement of the front mechanism relative to the plain of the sensor, but it's much faster and easier to use. The Composer is available in two types; as the "Double Glass Optic" [$299.95] model or the "Sweet 35" [$399.95] model. Though it's $100 more, the "Sweet 35" model is the one to get; if only because it has a built-in 12-blade diaphragm (with the other model, you have to insert a different aperture disc to change aperture.)

The Composer series is very nicely built compared to my original model, which was very plasticky. I like the moveable turret which lets you adjust position of the lens and keep it where you want it to be. The aperture dial is easy and clear to operate and the focusing ring is smooth; though focusing with this kind of lens can often be a bit trial and error to decide what should actually be in focus (or you can have nothing in focus and have a very ethereal effect!) Moving the lens while shooting is possible, and the motion can be pretty smooth, but I found at the extreme end of movement that it sometimes hung up a little causing the lens to shudder a bit.

The Lensbaby is a special lens that may not be everybody's cup of tea. If you're shooting video, avoid the Muse series entirely. I think the Composer with the Sweet 35 is the best choice with it's stability and built-in aperture diaphragm.

Note: The unit used in this review was loaned by B & H Photo Video.

Monday, June 04, 2012


I just saw a review of the Sony MDR-V55/BR DJ style Headphones:
Review: Sony MDR-V55 DJ Headphones | Cam Curran
In terms of comfort, the MDR-V55s fare well enough, but in the end, any pair of on-ear headphones has the tendency to make you pretty hot after a few hours, not to mention some slight pain on the outer ear. They're highly adjustable however, and rugged in a way many DJ-style headphones can only aspire to; these are not a flimsy set of plain ol' plastic-and-foam cans.
From the description, I'm not sure I'd like them. I've already had a bit of experience with Sony headphones over the last few years:

The first high-quality headphones I ever bought were a pair of Sony MDR-7506 [$99.99] that I bought in the late 1990's. They weren't cheap then, but they are still going strong (they have been repaired with Gorilla glue, and the outer cover of the headphone pads have peeled off.]

I like the sound quality of the MDR-7506's, they are light, and even though they completely enclose your ears, I don't find them uncomfortable; they don't make my ears hot and sweaty.

Sony MDR-7506

Several years later, looking for a replacement, and something that would work with my iPhone, I bought a pair of the Sony DRV150iP Headphones [$49.88]. These have a remote control for the iPhone, and you might be deceived into thinking they are of the enclosed-ear design of the MDR-7506. You'd be wrong. The headphone pads push against your ear, which is something I find uncomfortable very quickly.

The remote control for the iPhone is a big plus, and a great convenience, and the sound quality is good, but I find them very uncomfortable for my big head and my sensitive ears. So while I use them occasionally, it's not for long periods of time; often I use them just to make a phone call.

Next came the Sony MDR-XD200 Stereo Headphones [$34.99]. I bought these because they were cheaper than the MDR-7506's, and had an enclosed ear design, so I hoped they would be an improvement over the DRV150iP's. I was wrong again. Audio quality is okay, maybe a little bassy, but though they cover the ears I find that my ears get really hot and sweaty in them, again making it impossible to wear for long periods of time.

They also have an incredibly long cable. This is either a bonus if you like to walk long distances away from your computer/iPhone, or they are a pain because they get tangled up and get in the way.

So I've given up on finding a replacement for the MDR-7506's. Fortunately, Sony still makes them. So I'm buying replacement covers for the old MDR-7506 and saving for a second pair. The reality is; if you find a pair of headphones you like, you have to stick with them.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Quick Links

CHART OF THE DAY: The Explosive Growth Of The iPad | Jay Yarow
| Business Insider
Pretty amazing chart showing the growth of the iPad vs the iPhone and iPod. Of course, when you think about it, it's probably unsurprising that the iPad sales are faster and higher than the iPhone...the iPhone establishing the business, but being a specialized and more expensive choice.

Three choices | Oliver Peters | digitalfilm
Olivier looks at Adobe, Avid and Final Cut Pro and offers his interpretation of which environment will appeal to which users:
In closing, remember this is just a simple way to present the options. There’s nothing that says you can’t mix and match After Effects and/or Pro Tools with EDIUS, Media Composer, Vegas, Media 100 or any other variation. My world is headed primarily to an Apple/Adobe witches brew of applications.

RAW 1080p is Coming with the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, but Can You Afford the Hard Drives? | Joe Marine | No Film School
The problem with RAW, no matter what camera, is what to do with all that data?
Thankfully, the camera shoots more than RAW video, as it can also shoot slightly compressed DNxHD and ProRes — but what if you do want to shoot RAW? Just like with DSLRs, most of the RAW video available in higher-end cameras is slightly compressed, as bitrates can exceed bandwidth. To keep costs down, the RAW in the BMCC is completely uncompressed RAW video, which means, you’re getting bit for bit everything that is coming out of the A/D convertor (which takes the information from the sensor and translates it into digital values).

Sony NEX - FS700 vs FS100 | Digital Logic | Vimeo
Hani from Digital Logic and Mick Jones from LitUp Digital discuss and compare the Sony NEX FS700 vs FS100.

A Saturday Rumpus List of Writers In Unsuitable Employment | MICHELLE DEAN
| The Rumpus
An unusual list of career choices:
1. Kurt Vonnegut managed a car dealership for Saab. At this link you can find the letterhead to prove it. He tried to learn car mechanics, but the Saab people felt he had no talent for it and kicked him out of their classes.

Litepanels Debuts 1×1 LS LED Panel Lights | Vision Wrangler | Cinescopophilia
Litepanels new LED panel:
The Litepanels 1×1 LS offers many of the features found in the popular 1×1 Mono panel fixtures, but at an entry-level price. The 1×1 LS maintains the same high quality, full spectrum soft light as Litepanels’ other 1×1 LED panel fixtures while removing the more studio-specific components to focus on the needs of location productions.