Don't think I ever posted any footage samples of the vintage 85mm F/1.2 on the GH2, so here it is if you're curious. Old lenses are a great alternative to getting DOF on a budget. There's a variety of different adapters to mount just about any lens type to any camera. For a list of old Vintage lenses, check out the eBay auctions. Just make sure you choose the right adapter for the Lens you choose to fit your camera body.
Here i'm using an FD adapter without glass to make this 85mm F/1.2 work on the Panasonic GH2. At F/1.2 there's a soft glow, but step it down to F/1.8 and it's plenty sharp. They will never be as sharp as true lenses designed for Digital, but that's the whole allure about them. Sometimes they give off a really vintage feel. Oh and I didn't bring an ND filter out so the shutter speed was quite high on this footage. Might look at bit jittery...
The Panasonic GH2 seems to have an almost cult-like following. Die hards from previous GH1 models are lovin' the upgrades the GH2 brings to the table. The great thing about these Micro 4/3 cameras aren't just the ability to adapt any practically any lens, but also the quality of Video they provide. Unfortunately it's still a tough camera to find, and always out of stock. This slow availability of cameras is not helping them gain more market share, which I see was a problem with the Nikon D7000. Still, if you have to have the Panasonic GH2 (as of yesterday), there's a few listings at the big auction site, with a very minimal markup.
Once you've picked up your GH2, you'll want to get a wide angle lens with good aperture. Best bang for the buck is Panasonic's 20mm Pancake lens F/1.7. Great lens, fast, and sharp. I just purchased one (I know i'm late) and it's been a top performer for photography. I'm still not a fan of Panasonic's focusing for video, but the quality of this wide lens is exceptional.
I love me some RedRock Micro gear, but unfortunately i'm just one of those poor souls who can't afford even their entry level stuff. As seen in the image below, this is just one bundle in the line up of RedRock Micro's Nano rigs called the Running Man. Pretty solid piece of gear that doesn't look quite overkill. Light weight, sturdy, sets up fast, and packs down small. Nice little stabilizer for the frequent traveler. You can find the Running Man rig here: Redrock Micro nano - RunningMan
Having a few spare parts around the studio, just decided to mount the Calumet Mini Tripod / Handle to a Manfrotto 361 Shoulder Brace for Monopods. The bearing on the shoulder support spins freely, but by adding a handle under the camera, you can keep it steady. It's also handy having the handle break out into a Tripod to rest the gear down (gotcha on that one RedRock..JK).
Would be an interesting travel brace for a smaller camera like the GH1, GH2, Sony NEX, or A55. I don't know..all for fun...
No audio in this video, I had nothing to say. Just playing around. Testing a 3.5" LCD to see if it will hold up as a remote viewfinder or Electronic View Finder. It displays 960x480 pixels, and adjustments can be made to contrast and brightness. I tried other small LCD's but none of them had the pixel count required to focus. The lower pixel count LCD's are only good for framing a shot. This one seems to be pretty good at setting focus and had better color and contrast than the other mini LCD's. Input is through basic composite cables, but the GH2 doesn't do live view recording unless it's through HDMI. The Canon cameras will output with Composite cables during recording, but I don't have my Canon cables with me today, so i'll have to test later. It's also just a 4:3 aspect ratio, and may not be able to convert a 16:9 signal correctly. Could be something pretty cool for the GoPro, but we'll see where I end up with this thing.
The Opteka CXS-1 is a fairly inexpensive ready built video camera shoulder support rig. Besides the obvious mount for the camera, the stage has a few extra mounting points if you want to get creative and add some extra accessory brackets. The Opteka was designed for cameras up to 20lbs (so they say), but no matter how much or how little weight you place on the stage, the shoulder support is not a 'complete hands free' solution as stated on the box. I think the claim to be a 'complete hands free solution' is a bit misleading. There's no possible way this thing will hang over the shoulder without using hands to support it. The shoulder pad only meets the top of your shoulder, and doesn't go completely behind like the $24.00 dollar shoulder support.
As you can see though, with a counterweight added, the contour of the shoulder pad will eventually allow you to balance a Camera like the GH2 (as seen in the video). I'm using my DIY counterweight from my other rig just mounted to an already existing slot in the rear of the shoulder pad. The slot allows me to slide the weight left and right to level out the balance too.
The build quality is pretty nice, especially for the price using all metal components with an anodized finish. If you're a first time DSLR shooter with light accessories or have a lightweight camcorder, this type of stabilizer should suit you fine. It's also one of the better looking 'cheap' shoulder supports out there. There is only so much horizontal offset and vertical height adjustments, so depending on your frame, you may not be able to get the camera to the 'exact' position you need. Quick release adapters, battery grips, or DSLR's with variable LCD's should help correct some of that lack of positioning. You can choose to use just two of the hex bolts instead of three if you want to get a bit more 'inset' or 'offset'.
No padding on stage
The handle can be removed and inserted directly into a camera if you're looking to shoot without the shoulder support. The stage is also not 'padded' so if you're experiencing some slippage, you'll need to DIY some type of cushion to the stage. Cork or a rubber pad should suffice. Being that the shoulder pad is an all metal build, it would be very easy to drill some new accessory mounts for your portable audio recorders or wireless receivers. There are a few large clamp knobs that should allow you to break it down into a few smaller pieces if you need to pack it up for traveling. Overall the Opteka is a great lightweight stabilizer for the price, and you'll be hard pressed to find something that looks as polished in it's price range.
I have to say this was a hard camera to track down. It's pretty much sold out and on back-order everywhere you look. Luckily, a good guy over in Berkley, CA ended up with 1 too many from pre-orders and sold it to me. Quality is great for something this small and definitely the menu's were easier to figure out than the Sony A55. I love all the manual controls, buttons, and dials that make setting up shots fast. I'm not big on Follow Focus stuff as you can tell from all my old videos, but this thing takes a while to get the lens in focus. You end up spinning the focus ring around a bit more than a Canon lens, so having a Follow Focus system mounted is a huge help to ease those many rotations. Maybe it's just the stock 14-42mm lens I have with it, and i'll try out some different ones soon.
First few minutes out of the box, and it got fitted onto a set of Cinevate rails, with Cinevate Follow Focus, and Cinevate Cyclops LCD View Finder. Couldn't plug in the Rode Videomic directly as Panasonic decided to use a 2.5mm instead of standard 3.5mm wth? The Cyclops View Finder was an excellent way for me to magnify the LCD without having to place sticky metal frames and keeping the ability to swing the LCD around. All still in experimental phase people.....i'm learning...
Above is the only example I know of showcasing a Hollywood Lite Camera Stabilizer. When I first mentioned the stabilizer on this blog, the auction sold lighting fast from this article: https://cheesycam.com/hollywood-lite-video-camera-stabilizer/. This is a discontinued type of stabilizer that is designed to support cameras up to 4 lbs. I can't imagine it was very useful in the old days of heavy cameras, but with all the new lightweight Canon T2i's, Sony Alphas, and Panasonic GH2's coming around, it's seems to be relevant once again. Now i'm not saying it will fly a 7D, but for those GoPro Video makers, or iPhone Video junkies this might be an inexpensive solution. Cody left a comment and wanted to share that another thought to be extinct Hollywood Lite stabilizer shows up online again. On auction now and up for another day.
I posted about this Hague Mini Motion Camera Stabilizer earlier in my blogs, but I just thought I'd share with everyone what a Canon T2i looks like when balanced on the Hague. Now that high quality HD Video cameras are smaller, the Hague MMC is one good option. This stabilizer will only fly the weight of a Canon T2i with 18-55mm kit lens and nothing more. You can find the Hague MMC on eBay (click here)
Mini Camera Stabilizer
One stabilizer that pretty much resembles the Hague MMC but which is a bit cheaper is the MidX (found here).
Other Small Video DSLR Camera Stabilizers
If you're planning on Flying something a bit heavier, the next best option would be the Flycam Nano. You can see how well this stabilizer flies in this video (click here). This is what I feel the best bang for the buck. It can easily fly a Canon 5D Mark II or Canon 7D with a Tokina 11-16mm lens. You can find the Flycam Nano online (click here).
The Flycam Nano
One feature that the Flycam Nano lacks is what are called 'fine tuning knobs'. These knobs are available in some stabilizers for you to quickly and easily get your camera in balance. You simply turn the small knobs and the camera will shift slightly left / right, or shift slightly forward and back. If you need to be quick about getting a camera ready to fly, the Glidecam HD series are the best bet. For small cameras similar to what the Flycam Nano can fly, you'll want to look into the Glidecam HD1000 stabilizer. You can find one of my demo videos (click here). The Glidecam HD1000 is the smallest of Glidecam stabilizers under the HD2000 and HD4000 which can all be found online (click here).
If you're looking to beef up your Camera by adding a battery grip, LED light, or Microphones and need something to carry more weight, the next step up (price wise) would be the Glidecam HD2000-HD4000 stabilizers. You can find the different Glidecam HD models available here. They are all basically the same design, just different sizes to support different weight cameras. You can probably get away with the smallest one, but if you plan on adding something like an LED video light (like this one) , you might want to get the larger Glidecam HD2000 or HD4000. I personally own several different stabilizers, but here's a BTS video with the HD4000 (click here).
In your search for Glidecam stabilizers, you might run into the Pro versions. These will also work great and the difference in the Pro series of Glidecam stabilizers is mainly the lack of 'Fine Tuning Knobs'. They will balance fairly heavy loads and if you don't require the fine tune knobs you can find many of these used for cheap prices (click here). Getting back to the Glidecam HD series of stabilizers, you can find more information about how much weight each stabilizer can carry, along with prices following the links below.