I'm prepping for my trip to NAB, but I thought I could squeeze in this quick test of the new Aputure DEC LensRegain vs the Metabones Speedbooster S Version. Both of these adapters offer a wider field of view when used with smaller sensor cameras (i.e. Micro Four-Thirds cameras or Sony E-Mount). Since they concentrate more light to your sensor, all of your lenses will end up having faster apertures as well. For instance my Canon EF 100mm F/2.8L Macro shows as an F/2.0 when using the DEC LensRegain.
Besides the slight difference in field of view, the Aputure DEC LensRegain in my opinion performed very well. Lines look straight, image seemed sharp from middle to corners. There's a good number of cheap focal reducers on the market that can't seem to get the optics right. I can't say it's any better than the Metabones Speedbooster S Version, but I can say that the DEC LensRegain performed far better than some cheap adapters i've tried.
And while certainly cheaper than a Metabones adapter, it does have a trick up it's sleeve. The DEC LensRegain is actually a wireless follow focus system for Canon EF Lenses too. And If you've never heard about the DEC Lens Adapters, take a look at this video I made from the original (non focal reducer) version.
After using it for a while (and after the NABShow) i'll do an official review of the DEC LensRegain, but if this was something you were already looking for and were just waiting for some samples, I can say the optics itself look really good.
Heads up readers, during the NAB2016 Show next week keep an eye out on these particular IndiPRO Tools power cables for an additional discount. These cables offer a custom Mini-Tap to Dummy battery that can keep your Canon or Sony cameras powered up from a V-mount or Gold Mount battery. The cable is regulated inline to ensure your camera is operating at the correct voltage (as v-mounts are typically 14V+ out).
The difference between these cables as opposed to a standard D-Tap is the custom Mini-Tap which splits into two additional power option. (Other cables pretty much hog the entire D-Tap port). Once connected to your v-mount battery, you will still have an option for an unregulated D-Tap out to power up an additional accessory + a USB 5V out. That's three possible accessories you can power from a single battery without an expensive distribution system.
Now FilmPower has added new features to the ROXOR and also new gimbals in this line of handheld stabilizers. One interesting product is the new 360VR Camera + Gimbal. For anyone looking to dive into 360 VR Videos, this camera could be a fun start while at the same time adding stabilization. The second ROXOR added is now a 'Pro' version which has more manual controls over exposure along with a 3.5mm mic input. These new products will be shown at NAB2016, and we'll be stopping by to get hands on with these new products soon.
If you're not a fan of the new BlackMagic Design Micro Cinema Camera, this video is most likely going to bore you. So you may want to skip this post. But if you're currently shooting with the BMMCC (and as obsessed as I am), i'm pretty sure you'll find this post super helpful - especially the part where I share a little of my DIY Remote Handle setup.
First let's talk a little about 'Why this BlackMagic Design Micro Cinema Camera?'. Simply put, it's under $1K and offers RAW video up to 60p. And it's incredibly tiny! No other camera offers this, and I love the color science. But it's not an easy camera to operate handheld as there is no screen and the menu is deep for changing small settings.
Originally frustrated with the handling and controls of this camera - my combination of parts and custom button mapping has allowed me to just grab this camera and shoot. It's now a camera I can enjoy shooting with. There's obviously no right way to rig a camera, and this is just how i've assembled it for my personal taste. For those asking, the 15mm rod above my BMMCC is held in place with a Pico Plate (below).
If you're looking to really run small, you can opt for using native Micro Four-Thirds lenses (instead of my Full Frame Rokinon Cinema lenses) or even the Veydra MFT Cinema Primes. You can also shrink your monitor down with something lighter, thinner, and smaller like the SmallHD 501. That would really make this BlackMagic Design Micro Cinema Camera a super portable system.
Rigged BMMCC size compared to Panasonic DVX100a
There are some benefits to using the BlackMagic Design Video Assist as a monitor though. I can set the internal recording to RAW, but if I decide to shoot in a lower format like ProRes, I can do that from the BMVA (without having to change in camera). Or I can record simultaneously RAW (in camera) and ProRes LT (in BMVA) for some quick proxy files to share or have a backup.
By the way, the Video Assist monitor doesn't add any controls with it's touch screen. It simply works as a Monitor and an HDMI Recorder. You can't communicate with the BMMCC.
Obviously they wanted to use small batteries on this camera to minimize the weight for Drone use, but I'm very happy with my Sony to Canon LP-E6 mod. It's a great way to add extra run time without adding an external battery system like a V-Mount. And I would hate to have to use their breakout cable which is a mess, and then have to input a 12V source. With my mod, it feels like i'm just using a bigger Canon battery, and i'm still using 7V.
The battery mod also allows me to power both camera and one extra accessory at 7.4V using my SWIT battery. Instead of using the 12V input on the Video Assist monitor, i'm using a Canon LP-E6 dummy battery to use basic 7V. (I really did put a lot of thought into this setup).
Hopefully the video explained how i'm creating changes in the camera in a way you can understand. When you join the two wires together from the analog PWM input, it sends a signal to change a setting. This works on many of the options, but not everything. For some items (like iris, focus) you'll need true PWM. The other 'con' if you will is that you can't go backwards. Not really a big deal as it's still much easier than diving into the menu for every small change.
I really wish BlackMagic Design would expand these PWM options to include changing FrameRates and changing from RAW to ProRes. That would really complete this camera, and many companies can create simple remote handles to control almost every aspect. They allow the use of S.Bus which means you can expand even further from the 4 basic analog inputs and control up to 18 more settings through a single channel input.
In any case, i'll stop rambling and hopefully this post has been helpful to other BMMCC shooters. If you're thinking about picking one up, it would be great if you consider DVEStore.com as they were the ones who put this camera into my hands to study, spend countless hours on, and share this information with you guys.
Oh and BTW, i'm far from done. I'm already designing an entire rig around this camera based on my setup, including a remote handle to operate some of the settings i've show in this video. A complete rig that will allow other BMMCC shooters to just add a camera + monitor and start shooting with similar ergonomics as a camcorder. So if this is something you're interested in seeing, simply like or share this post. It will let me know if it's something I should spend some time on.
I'm not one of those guys who'll preach that you should be shooting your next movie on an iPhone, but like many other people I take more photos and videos through my Smartphone than with any other camera. Whether it be for personal use, or for keeping up with this blog, I use my smartphone camera everyday.
I'm sure many of you have tried cheaper wide-angle and fisheye lenses which just ends up with crazy distortion and overly soft images. But if you're serious about maintaining the quality from your Smartphone, this new Ztylus Z-Prime Lens Kit (sent over for me to test) promises to offer excellent optics.
The Ztylus Z-Prime Lens Kit offers two different high quality lenses. A Telephoto lens which gives you more zoom, and a wide angle which is especially handy when shooting in Video mode as the iPhone really starts to really crop in. The wide angle lens here is not a fisheye, it's rectilinear with little to no barrel distortion.
As far as I know, this is currently the biggest discount available for the Ztylus Z-Prime Lens Kit. I know it's not for everyone, but it might be worth sharing this article with your friends and family who are serious 'iPhoneographers' as they might appreciate this limited time discount.
The Azden SMX-30 is a unique Video microphone as it physically has two microphones built into one body. There is a directional shotgun microphone for focused mono sound, and a pair of microphones spaced 120 degrees apart used for a wider stereo pickup. When it comes to video microphones, you would typically carry two different microphones.
Originally I thought the dual microphones may have been just a gimmick, but the Azden SMX-30 really does sound good when used in either mode. The system also includes some features found in more expensive video microphones such as +20db Gain Booster (preamp), -10db Pad (attenuation), low pass filter, and a sturdy shock mount.
I'm not going to dive into scientific data on this mic as I personally don't feel I need to. For me personally I think it sounds darn good (comparable to other mics), build quality is great, and most of all it's features make the SMX-30 very practical.
Being able to switch between stereo and mono on the fly is incredibly handy when switching between capturing focused dialogue (i.e. interviews) or ambient sounds of the environment. That makes this a great mic to have when traveling.
With an auto power on/off setting, you never have to accidentally record video with no sound and you don't have to worry about powering your mic off before packing it away in a bag. You can get additional information over on the B&H product page (here)
The Canon LP-E6 batteries were designed to fit inside of Canon DSLR cameras, so they don't really come in larger capacities. Sony batteries on the other hand come in a variety of capacities if you want extra run time. Well I wanted extra run time on the new BlackMagic Design Cinema Camera but didn't want to use the ugly and huge break out cables that is required for running external power.
Now I don't recommend this for people who don't really know what they're doing when it comes to batteries and soldering, but if you have the basic knowledge this little MOD can give you extra run time on your new BlackMagic Design Micro Cinema Camera. The dummy battery and Sony Battery Plate are very basic and once you open them up, they just have two wires inside (red + black).
Once you merge those two plates together, you have a working adapter that sends the 7.4V voltage from your Sony NPF-970 battery to a Canon mount. Now Sony batteries come in different capacities so I don't necessarily have to use the bulky one in the video, but it's a good idea how much power I can run if I really wanted to.
Before I merged my two parts together, I added some heavy epoxy putty on the inside to make it more solid. I also plastic welded (melted the two parts together) along the sides. It's a pretty solid adapter and the wires are glued inside so they don't move. Now I like to experiment, but if you guys decide to try this out, just know you're doing this at your own risk...
Just testing some different color grades using RAW footage from the new BlackMagic Design Micro Cinema Camera. This was shot in compressed 3:1 RAW on a Sandisk Card in 60p and then conformed in FCPX. I originally thought you couldn't shoot RAW in 60p on this camera, but that was because I was trying Full RAW. If you set it to RAW 3:1 (compressed RAW), then you can definitely do 60p.
The camera is a bit quirky without an LCD screen or Grip, so you need to add a few things to it to make it functional. But in such a small package it's amazing to get 60fps 12-bit RAW Video for under $1K. No other camera offers this. I can only imagine the quality people will get flying this on Drones (as it was originally intended for). Or even just used for car mount projects as this camera is tiny but packs incredible quality.
The BMMCC is very sharp, but my images in the video (above) are soft because I forgot to bring a good ND Filter and needed to stop the Panasonic 20mm lens down to F/16 (max). This lens is typically sharp around F/2.2 or so, and stopping it down (from bright daylight) really makes the images soft (Most lenses will be softer when at it's widest aperture or stopped down). I'll have to go out and shoot again, this time with a better lens and ND filter.
Obviously the #BMMCC #Blackmagic #MicroCinema camera is not designed to be as sensitive in low light as the Sony A7s, but at ISO 1600 it's not too shabby. As long as you can get your exposure set properly and push everything down in post, noise shouldn't be too much of an issue. It's when you shoot underexposed and then decide on trying to push up the Shadows, Mids, or Highlights that you'll see a big problem. Instead you should be setting your exposure so that your know in post you will be pushing down your Highlights, Mids, and Shadows. If you can't set your exposure, you'll have to light your scene. Personally I think I would stick to ISO 800 as much as possible, but here's a test at ISO 1600 where I felt I was still shooting underexposed, and you can see some of that noise.
BTW, if you have a decent set of headphones or speakers listen to the Stereo Audio recorded by Azden's new SMX30 which is two microphones in one! So handy to be able to switch from a directional microphone for focused sound, or to Stereo to capture natural ambient sound. Unlike a mono audio track, you can actually hear the people walking from one side to the other, or cars driving by.
Varavon's offering up to 70% OFF on select items on their website. They offer a wide variety of camera products from Camera Cages, Cable Cam systems, Gimbals, Sliders, Battery Solutions, and more. They also offer many accessories such as their Magic Arms, 15mm rails, clamps, grips and handles. You can browse their website at http://Varavon.com