Equipment Reviews

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[Note: This is not another tutorial on simply using LightRoom. It's actually a much faster method that only uses Adobe Lightroom to create a custom Preset.]

Let me start by saying, the best way to edit the CinemaDNG files from the BlackMagic Design cameras is to use Davinci. Of course these RAW files are nothing but still images, so if many of you favor Adobe Lightroom for editing pictures, here's a little tip on how to save it as a preset to use in Adobe Camera RAW.

I tend to like the workflow and layout of Adobe Lightroom, especially on how well it can clean up noise if you have grainy footage. I think it's much faster [and better] than trying to run 'noise reduction' software once it's laid out in your video timeline. The problem is that Lightroom can be pretty slow to export your images once you're done editing. So this technique will allow you to make changes to one CinemaDNG file and apply it to all the files through the Camera RAW app.

If you shoot RAW with a Canon DSLR + Magic Lantern, you may already be familiar with using Camera RAW. If you haven't done this already, now you can start your edits with Adobe Lightroom, and finish the entire sequence of images through Camera RAW.

Summary of Steps
Step 1) Take one RAW image into Adobe Lightroom, tweak your settings, and then export to DNG.
Step 2) Open your exported DNG image in Adobe Photoshop and this should bring up Camera RAW.
Step 3) Save the preset and close Camera RAW.
Step 4) Now open all of your BMPCC RAW images in Photoshop (should launch Camera RAW) and Load the Preset.
Step 5) Make sure to 'Select All' and synchronize to apply to all frames.
Step 6) Save Images > Export to Folder

Once you have all of your color corrected images saved from Camera RAW, you can easily bring them into your video editor similar to a Timelapse project. Depending on what format was used during the export process (JPEG, TIFF), you will still have some lateral to color correct / grade within your editing software.

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The BlackMagic Cinema Camera can run a short time with it's internal battery, but it's really designed to use external power. I've shared a few options on this blog, but here's another option to power the BMCC off of a 14V battery adapter using Sony BP-U60 / BP-U30 batteries. If you already have these batteries from your Sony EX-1 camera, this is a great little add-on.

This battery adapter has a 1/4-20 threaded screw to attach to many rigs or cages, or can be mounted to the optional 15mm clamp. If you don't have batteries, you may want to look into the adapter plates that are bundles with a battery charger. You can find these products via eBay following the links (below).

Sony BMCC BP-U30 BP-U60 battery adapter wall charger BlackMagic CInema CameraBlackMagic Cinema Camera 14V Battery Sony BP-U60 adapter
find-price-button Sony BP-U60 BP-U30 Battery Plate 14V for BlackMagic Cinema Camera

Sony BP-U30 batteries BlackMagic Cinema CameramVp2MjLn2FYklJnCLkpFYVg
find-price-button Sony BP-U30 / BPU60 Batteries

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You've probably heard the news and seen the images, but here's a closer video look at putting together the new Shape Cage for the BlackMagic Pocket Camera. The BMPC simply drops into the Shape Cage and is locked in place by a rear sliding metal cover. So even if your system is completely rigged up, the camera can be removed from the cage.

Access to all buttons, menus, battery door / SD card, and ports are easily accessible. A very solid cold shoe above the Shape BMPC Cage can be used to mount heavy accessories (monitors, evf, audio) or to add a Shape Candy Handle. The SHAPE Cage for Blackmagic Pocket Camera can be purchased with or without the bottom 15mm rail adapter.

For more information about Shape products, check out their website at https://ShapeWLB.com, or follow the links below for information about these specific products.

Shape BMPC BlackMagic Pocket Cage
find-price-button Shape Cage (only) for BlackMagic Pocket Camera

Shape Cage BlackMagic Pocket Camera Shape Cage BMPC Shape Cage BlackMagic Pocket Camera Rig
find-price-button Shape Cage for BlackMagic Pocket Camera + Top Handle + 15mm Rail Base

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If you love building and tinkering, here's a look at another fun little project idea from ServoCity.com. They've added a new low friction channel slider that has very low tolerance, can accept a decent load, and that slides over their lightweight aluminum channels. In this video they have assembled a drive system that pulls the carrier through the channel, to work as a video slider.

These aluminum channels can be purchased in various lengths if you're looking for longer or shorter runs, and the motors can be swapped out for faster or slower RPMs depending on your project. The overall design allows these motors to pull quite a bit of weight even vertically, but if you're looking to carry heavier camera systems, just make sure to look into the channel slider that wraps around all four sides (here).

Slider_Kit_with_Phone_MountSlider_vertical_with_phone_mount

Now if you're looking to do some tinkering of your own, I highly suggest taking a look at the dozens of videos showing you step-by-step on how to build these projects at the Servo City YouTube Channel.

For more information about the Slider Kit A, take a look at their Channel Slider Kit product pages which shows examples and a list of parts required to assemble.

ServoCity YouTube Channel
ServoCity.com Precision Building Systems

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It seem like every time I post a video stabilizer review, I often receive the same question - 'How can you adjust focus?'. Typically i'll just answer this question by replying with a text comment, but i'm sure it's still not very clear. Hopefully this article can help visualize a few ways focus can be achieved when a camera is balanced on a stabilizer, thrown on a video crane, or other device where adjusting the lens would be cumbersome or impossible.

One option to adjust focus (without physically touching the lens) can be by use of an electronic follow focus system. In the video below, Vimeo member Nicholas D shares how he's setup his camera on a SteddiePod Stabilizer with a Cinematics USB follow focus [Thanks Nick]. The USB systems will be limited, as they will only work with certain cameras (mostly Canon) and only with compatible auto focus lenses - not manual lenses.

Barber Tech SteddiePod
find-price-button
Barber Tech SteddiePod
Cinematics USB Follow Focus
find-price-button
Cinematics USB Follow Focus

An alternative could be to use dedicated Wired or Wireless electronic follow focus systems attached to the outside lens gear. The benefits to these systems is that they can be used with pretty much any lens that supports manual focus. The throw can be remapped for shorter or longer focus movements at the dial, and higher end systems allow to you store focus points. The full wireless systems are helpful when you need another person to manage focus so that the camera operator can move about freely.

If you plan to work with a Wireless Follow Focus, Camera Motion Research has announced the new Radian Pro kits that will send a Wireless HD Video stream via HDMI to a remote monitor. There are ways to achieve this through a DIY solution, but the Radian Pro claims to use a more commercial version transmitter / receiver that can transmit through a broader range of channels for longer distance, low latency, and clearer image. The Radian Pro is available in both a Unicast or MultiCast version (multiple video streams).

For myself, I may not use a WFF for every project, but I do use Wireless Video when operating on longer cranes/jibs or even just to share a feed for others to view (so they aren't hanging over your shoulder). Add a remote Pan/Tilt head to this combination, and you'll be able to man a camera from a distance away while focusing and zooming. Great when you have to leave a camera somewhere you can't be seen like on stage, or perhaps even at a church during a wedding, or in the middle of a racetrack.

Sorry for the lack of great examples, but hopefully this article is somewhat helpful and gives you ideas of what you can do with such tools. Remember that these are not limited to just these types of Stabilizers (a.k.a Steadicam). These are the same tools that can be used on those amazing Brushless Motor Camera Gimbal Stabilizers everyone has been recently obsessed about.

radian1rp10
find-price-button Camera Motion Research Radian Pro Wireless HD Video Kit via HDMI

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For those of you shooting with the BlackMagic Design Cinema Camera [or looking into the Production Camera 4K], here's a quick and closer look at F&V's new BMC Cage. Assembly is pretty simple, and the final product fits nicely around the BMCC without obstructing any of the ports, doors, buttons, or screen.

At approx. 1/2" thick frame, the cage is rock solid and thick enough to mount accessories to any of the available 1/4-20" or 3/8" threaded holes over the top and along the sides. The frame can be adjusted to a wider setting if you need additional clearance around the sides. Unfortunately neither the Base or Advanced Kits come with a set of 15mm rails, so you'll need to provide your own.

Although there are cheaper BMCC cages available, I would say the build quality of this new F&V BMC Cage is at a very professional level, could easily match any of the more expensive brand names, yet the F&V BMC Cage Base Unit starts at just $369. More information about the BMC Cage (found here).

F&V BMC Cage BlackMagic Cinema Camera Cage img_2729 img_2692
find-price-button F&V BlackMagic Design Cinema Camera BMC Cage

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One way to make your videos a little more interesting is to simply move the camera. Although that sounds easy, performing smooth camera movements handheld can be very tricky. While there are many tools available to do this, nothing is more simple, straightforward, or as easy to operate than a Video Slider. Here's a look at the new 'Duzi', which is the latest, most affordable, and lightest video slider coming out of the Cinevate product line.

On the surface, the Cinevate Duzi is simple, but that's primarily what we want. Something easy to setup, easy to move around, and doesn't get in the way when it's time to shoot. The Duzi is crafted from CNC machined aluminum and stainless steel, with the exception of the solid 19mm Carbon Rods.

Cinevate Duzi Cheesycam Review
find-price-button Cinevate Duzi Portable Video Camera Slider

The carbon rods not only shed weight, but offer near silent operation when tracking with 8 precision roller bearings. These carbon rods never need to be oiled, and the open design makes it easy to clean and wipe down no matter what conditions you take the Duzi into. Duzi's end blocks offer 1/4-20 threaded holes and 5/8 inch thru holes to support dual stands. A middle cheese plate below the Duzi allows tripod mounting. For additional information, check out the Cinevate Duzi product page: https://www.cinevate.com/store2/camera-movement/camera-sliders/duzi-camera-slider.html

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3 Three Axis Brushless Gimbal Camera Stabilizer Motor Controller
Greg writes in and shares this newly listed item [thanks Greg]. It's yet another three axis brushless motor gimbal camera stabilizer. I know there's been a few comments about other systems online, and some I think are already up and running. I myself haven't had the time to spend on these types of systems, but the specs on this product state that the gimbal has already been micro adjusted, the system is ready-to-run, supports decent sized cameras like the 5D / D800, and comes complete with the brushless gimbal controllers (BGC) for just under $700 bucks.


brushless camera stabilizer gimbal kitbrushless gimbal ready to runcheap brushless gimbal stabilizer for video camera
sku_100083_5sku_100083_13sku_100083_3find-price-button 3 Axis Brushless Gimbal Camera Stabilizer

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So GoPro has recently announced a new HERO3+ Black Edition Camera and the main questions are "how much of a difference is the new camera?", and "is it worth the upgrade?" Physically, the camera is basically the same with the exception of the new housing. This means the new HERO3+ camera will still work with previous accessories that you might already own.


YouTube member GearAddix

I'd have to say most everyone was already very happy with the image from the original HERO3, but somehow GoPro managed to deliver even better quality from the new HERO3+. Audio was also greatly improved in the new HERO3+, and the video below shows some of these examples.


YouTube member GearAddix

If you don't currently own a GoPro, the new HERO3+ Black Edition is the camera to get. For those who already own the Gopro HERO3, judging from this very basic side by side HERO3 vs HERO3+ image quality and audio test, do you guys think these differences are worth the upgrade?

[UPDATE March 14th, 2014]
GoPro Releases new Firmware for Hero3+ Black - more Manual Controls.

gopro hero3 plus blackgopro hero3 vs hero3 plus white
find-price-button GoPro Hero3+ Black / Silver

Hero_top_image
Shipping Now - Purchase the new GoPro HERO3+ Black Edition

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