- To read reviews from photographers before editing your photos
- Knowing how to determine a good photography review
- Handling the elements of photography quite well after learning from a review
Every photographer who writes reviews each have their own way of dealing with it. Some reviewers are more concerned with giving warnings to others just how bad these products are, while there are some who would prefer to highlight the good side of an object so that others would purchase it.
But how do photographers review a product? Three things: knowing the type of equipment, knowing how to handle the elements, and knowing how to sustain or maintain the process.
- That Type of Equipment – Let’s start with knowing what type of equipment to use. So if your concern is knowing how do photographers review a product? Then you better start considering the type of tools used. First, they will tell you how effective this tool can be, or vice versa. After which, they will explain further what makes this gadget awesome, either in its function or immediate value.
- Handling the Elements – The question of “how do photographers review a product?” can be answered with how well they handle certain elements in photography like color, texture and light. Unless a reviewer tackles these elements, then you are not getting something out of it. Knowing how to handle elements most of the time spells the difference between mediocre images and quality photos.
- A Work in Progress – And, of course, a review is not considered good if it does not offer any alternatives. So how do photographers review a product? By giving options as well after dissecting that particular tool. This recommending aspect in a review is always the element why a review is considered helpful.
So there you have it, we hope it answers your question of “how do photographers review a product?” Most of the time they give their assessment and after which offer recommendations before they close out on their reviews.
- Action cameras in the 60s-90s
- The GoPro era
- Post GoPro era
The first person point of view video shots came as early as the ‘60s and as you have pretty much thought, these were DIYs. Basically, the idea was to mount a camera on a helmet so as to take a unique point of view and get a more stable shot. In the ‘70s, people might still remember that Steve Mcqueen was probably the first person in Hollywood to ever don a camera mounted in a helmet. Although it was duct-taped into his helmet, it’s still the thought that counts. In the ‘80s and ‘90s, everything started to change as cameras started to become smaller and more compact. More and more first person point of view videos were being made. You could say that this was the dawn of the action video recorder.
Then came the new century. During 2002, the first GoPro was born. It was an analog type camera called Hero 35mm 0001. The need to capture images while surfing was the main driving force to the invention which is now known as GoPro. As the years passed by, the GoPro Hero eventually became digital and has constantly improved to what you see in a GoPro today. With new innovations such us WiFi capabilities, LCD touch screen, 4K resolution and others has made this action video recorder a giant in the world of video capture.
As of today, the action camera market is booming and you can see a lot of brands available. GoPro has a lot of competitors but is still widely recognized as the industry leader. But, Polaroid and Sony have slowly been rising up to the challenge to take that throne away from GoPro. So, if you are one of the proud owners of a GoPro, or any action camera for that matter, you are now well aware of what started it all and how it evolved.
- Wedding presets enhanced with Photoshop Lightroom presets
- Presets to use on a daily basis for your wedding pics
- Enhancing the luminosity of your wedding pics via Photoshop Lightroom
Enhancing the color, saturation and luminosity of your wedding pics is the main concern of these Photoshop Lightroom wedding presets. Judging from its intention, it is safe to say that Lightroom covers all the needs of your wedding photos.
These Photoshop Lightroom wedding presets concern itself with taking care of the overall composition of your wedding photos. It doesn’t only enhance one aspect of your photo, but transforms your wedding pics after your heart and style.
The uniqueness of these Photoshop Lightroom wedding presets come in the form of its three main jobs as far as enhancing your wedding pics.
First stop, the color. It matters at times if you can manage the color of your photos because too much of it darkness the atmosphere of your photo and the lack of it puts your photo at a disadvantage because it looks anemic. With Photoshop Lightroom wedding presets, however, the color of your picture has its perfect blend always.
The saturation. This has something to do with the management of light. Light can either make or break your photo because it dictates the overall composition of it. Lightroom deals with light by providing adjustments to its saturation level, so you can present them with the right amount of brightness to it.
And lastly, its luminosity. The aura of your wedding pic is as important as managing its color and light. If you have a photo-editing app that can enhance the aura of your photo, then that’s making your photo images more lifelike than those usually found on glossy posters.
With these three features alone, you can already conclude that these Photoshop Lightroom wedding presets are the ultimate solution to your wedding pics. You can already imagine the effect it would bring to your viewers the moment you post them on your website or social media page.
- Easy to use and experiment photo-editing tools for your B & W photos
- A collection of stunning presets for the enhancement of your black and white photos
- Black and white photo editing even for beginners
It’s fun to experiment with your photos, especially when you have the tools to do it. When we talk about experimenting with photos, though, more often than not, you talk colors, shades, and the saturation of such hues on your photo. Seldom do you mention black and white (B&W) pictures as far as experimenting goes.
But with Lightroom, black and white photos can be enhanced or experimented on in the same way with that of colored photos. And Lightroom uses presets in order to enhance such photos. B & W photography made easy with presets, courtesy of Lightroom.
The popularity of black and white photos may have gone over the years, but it has enjoyed its resurgence of late when Lightroom came into the scene. This photo-enhancing app is using black and white photos again, and it has paid dividends since a number of photographers, including social media users, are digging the genre more than when it was first used so many years ago.
B & W photography made easy with presets in Lightroom fashion. It has a collection of the best black and white presets you can use for your photos, complete with all the tools in enhancing the saturation and even the luminosity of these black and white images.
Be a part of the resurgence of this black and white photography. This B & W photography made easy with presets in Lightroom mode can be your resource in churning out black and white masterpieces. Experiment with it so you can come up with photos that bring back the glory years of photography when iconic stars posed for them. Use every tool in Lightroom for your black and white images and be a master of that genre.
Dig the web now and download these Lightroom presets for your B & W. You will never run out of effects despite using only two colors. B & W photography made easy with presets in Lightroom is the only the way for you to become a part of these black and white revolution in photography, while you’re having fun experimenting with it.
Your photos online are in need of enhancement. You can’t just post your photos immediately after taking that shot and expect people to like it. That is already outdated. You can now enhance your photo posting with this list of free Photoshop actions online.
Yes, stop wasting your time and get the most out of your cool photos. This list is Adobe’s way of enhancing your images in a professional way because it has a language built in that enables you to record tasks as “actions” while you can replay the process automatically.
Aside from this list of free Photoshop actions, it also has a list of free Photoshop brushes also for specific enhancements on your photos.
From “Vintage Light Leaks” to “3D Maps” to “Retrofilters”, this collection of Photoshop actions will bring out the best of your ordinary photos. For every feature, for every texture, and even for every mood, it has all the tools to create such effects.
You can download these Photoshop actions readily online. So convenient that you can make the necessary adjustments as soon as you have it on your PC or Mac.
You don’t have to seek the services of a professional photographer anymore for your party or wedding photos, these Photoshop actions will take care of it. It will even enhance your photo more than you can imagine.
I have to admit that Adobe Lightroom has become the most amazing and brilliant tool for us, amateur photographers and hobbyist. I can really feel the big difference between Photoshop and Lightroom since I was able to use Photoshop years before Lightroom was introduced.
However, I also want to make it clear that Lightroom is a replacement of Photoshop, because it’s not. Photoshop is one of the best photo editing application ever made, but in today’s great demand for photography, we can’t work on manual editing. We need something like Lightroom that can help us finish the editing process in time. Photoshop still contains a lot of features that were not offered by Lightroom. Moreover, you can use both programs if you subscribe to their creative cloud subscription plan. If you haven’t installed the program yet, read more tutorials and guide on how to install presets by sleeklens.
Lightroom provides a lot of features, it includes: creating and using presets to one or more images at once, great copy and paste settings, fast importing and exporting images, organize and manage images in one collection, smart previews, loop and grid views, ability to create slideshows, Lightroom mobile and web versions and more. Moreover, Adobe Lightroom is a non-destructive image editing tool. It preserves the original file setting of the image. So for example, you made changes in an image, yet you cannot undo it, you can always view the original settings in the catalog of Lightroom.
Another great feature of Lightroom is its ability to create Lightroom presets. Presets can be compared to filtered images, however, presets can be applied to one or more images at once. Presets can be downloaded for free or paid if you don’t have an idea on how to create one. But, if you have enough skills to make a collection of presets, you can earn from it by sharing it to the world online. Presets are basically one of the reasons why photographers can save more time in editing their images.
Last year, Adobe released its fifth version of Lightroom that contains a lot of useful and new editing tools and features. It includes pet eye tool, slideshow, auto preview, face recognition, web and mobile versions, improved graduated, spot, healing and radial tools, and HDR merge tool. These sets of new features are said to provide greater assistance to photographers who want to have a more advanced images. In this article, we will have a thorough review of the most exciting new feature of Lightroom: HDR Merge in Lightroom.
But before we discuss and review the features of Lightroom, let’s try to define HDR and how does it work in Lightroom. Basically, HDR simply means high-dynamic range which contains a wide variety of exposure setting. Both digital and DSLR cameras have its own HDR support features to control the exposure level. But the main question here is, how does HDR images affect the quality of the image? Normally, raw images from the camera are good, but it doesn’t have what it takes to be considered as perfect or outstanding.
HDR photographs can also be taken even without the help of the advanced cameras available in the market. It can also be captured using smartphone cameras, old model cameras and etc. You can convert these images into an HDR quality with the use of Adobe Lightroom. However, in Lightroom 5, the company makes it more interesting since even panorama images can be merged with HDR images with the help of HDR merge tool. Although there are a lot of Lightroom 5 Tutorials available in the program, HDR merge is one of favorite tools used by photographers.
Overall, HDR merge in Lightroom 5 is one of the best feature added to the program. Aside from the fact that it will provide great satisfaction to its users, it can also help them merge images easily thus helping them save time and effort.
When you hear about black and white photos, of course the first thing that comes to mind is photos that do not have colors. While this is the traditionally accepted definition of black and white photos, with the advent of technology, there have been developed different types of black and white photographs.
1.Traditional black and white photographs – These are produced by removing all colors from photographs. They are the easiest to make as there is often not that may controls to manipulate and adjustments to make. They are very easy to create in both Lightroom and Photoshop. In Lightroom, you can use some of the Lightroom presets that are found online to create them. In photoshop, you just have to choose black and white under the image menu.
2.Monochrome black and white images – These differ from black and white in that their blacks are much deeper than in traditional black and white images and photographs. They often have very few grays on them with dark blacks being the dominating color on them.
3.Grayscale – These black and white helmet cameras images use more grays than blacks and are often much lighter than their monochrome counterparts. They also show a lot more detail than monochrome black and white images and are therefore usually the preferred type of black and white followed by the traditional black and white photographs and images.
4.High, medium and low contrast black and white images – These are black and white photographs whose contrasts have been adjusted. The contrast can be adjusted up to create high contrast black and white images or adjusted down to create low contrast black and whites. There images are often created with the aim of creating a “shocking” effect and in that way help the pictures and the details they contain therein to stand out.
Creating Black and white images in Lightroom
There are several ways of creating black and white images in Adobe Lightroom. The first one is obviously through the use of Lightroom Presets. There are literally millions of black and white lightroom presets floating around the internet, you just have to know where to look. Websites such as Lightroom presets and infoparrot showcase a huge collection of black and white presets for your own use.
To learn more about creating black and white images and photographs using Adobe Lightroom, please see the video below.
Quick Overview About Lightroom
Adobe Lightroom is a well-known reliable photo editing tool and image organizer developed and created by Adobe Systems for both OS X and Windows operating system. The program contains a lot of exciting features that allow users to view, modify, manage and organize their collection of images. However, the program is not a file manager like what most people think. It doesn’t have the capability to operate on imported files. Lightroom only accepts files that are recognizable.
Mastering Adobe Lightroom is not that simple. It requires good creative skills and knowledge to understand the whole program. In addition, users need to read more tutorials as the package of Lightroom doesn’t contain any video or training tutorials. Adobe Lightroom is also known to be a professional application as it is really intended to help pro photographers.
Adobe Lightroom is a very strong, powerful yet user-friendly image editing tool. It is also known to be a non-destructive program which preserves the original setting of raw images from the camera. So users need not to worry about destroying or damaging their files during the process. The good thing about this program is that it was built to modernize every photographer’s image workflow. Unlike Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom doesn’t require manual editing since it contains presets or filtered images that can be applied to hundreds of images in just a few clicks.
I have been using the program for quite some time now and I can say that It did help me a lot with my editing task. I am also very satisfied and contented with the features and services it offers. That’s why during my free time, I try to reach out to people, especially amateur photographers who want to understand and use Adobe Lightroom. As what I’ve seen from amateur photographers, they really have a hard time understanding the program as they still don’t have enough knowledge on how to create presets, organize images and navigate the panel.
Adobe Lightroom is the better version of Adobe Photoshop. However, there are some things that Lightroom is incapable of making such as removing, adding and modifying image items on 3D and etc. Learning and understanding the program can be hard but worth it. Get more information and Lightroom tutorials on the sleeklens Lightroom presets website.
Mastering Adobe Lightroom can be very frustrating. It is not that easy to become proficient in using Lightroom presets and other useful editing tools. Moreover, there is no introductory lightroom video tutorial which orients users on how to install and use the program. Buying and downloading the software is not enough, users need to know the basics first before deciding to utilize it. One of the unique philosophies of Adobe System is to release and sell adobe products but leave all training and analysis to users for them to appreciate the efficiency of the product by themselves.
There are only few certified experts of Adobe Lightroom who have helped amateur photographers who want to try out the features and services of Adobe Lightroom. But, there are still other ways to learn how to use the program; online Lightroom tutorial. The opportunity to learn online both online and live teaching is very exciting since users get to meet other people with the same goal.
With Adobe Lightroom being a non-destructive program, users don’t need to worry about destroying the original setting of the image. Moreover, Lightroom has a file protection feature which is built to protect file settings. Again, with the software’s ability to preserve the original image pixels of the file, users don’t need to be alarmed about everything. Their original file will be saved in the safest place in Lightroom.
Generally, Adobe Lightroom is one of the best editing tools in the market. With its ability to organize images, create wonderful presets, and preserve image settings, there is no doubt why people choose to use the program instead of other popular software. There are a lot of Lightroom tutorials scattered online, just pick up the best site that can teach you everything about lightroom and Photoshop, from making customized presets, tagging, keywording, and changing metadata.
Here’s a video on how to install Lightroom presets from Sleeklens on Mac and PC:
Adobe Lightroom is the best photo editing tool for most professional photographers since it helps them in several ways, such as in organizing, processing, sharing, printing and healing images. If you are a hobbyist or serious and professional photographer, Lightroom can help you save more time in editing hundreds of images.
The photo editing program promotes a healthy way of modifying images since users can rest while editing images. Unlike Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom doesn’t require manual editing unless it the image needs minor tweaking. The program contains default Free Lightroom presets or most commonly known as filtered images that contain specific color styles that can be applied to images.
There are a lot of photo editing programs and software available in the market; however, most of it requires more time and effort in editing since users need to edit images manually. Most photographers choose Lightroom because they know they can enjoy their profession while in the process of editing their images. In addition, in terms of pricing and efficiency, Lightroom has the most reasonable one-time package price. The program is basically intended for people who put more dedication in beautifying images. Knowing that Lightroom is a non-destructive tool, you don’t need to worry about destroying the original setting of your image, Lightroom will preserve it just for you.
Personal Review of Lightroom
I have been long using 3 programs of Adobe; Photoshop CS5, Photoshop Elements 10 and Lightroom. But among these 3, I appreciate more the features and services of Lightroom. I feel that every time I use it, I feel relaxed and motivated in creating wonderful images. I highly recommend that you use lightroom, I’m sure that your creativity skills will continue to improve and develop. Moreover, you can share your ideas and styles with other people.
To get more free Lightroom presets, you can either check Pinterest or Behance. Both platforms contains several high-quality and useful presets for Lightroom.
I do love talking portrait photographs; it is so much fun and cool but sometimes I am frustrated by the amount of time I spent behind the computer editing photos rather than behind the camera shooting. Luckily for me, I found the best Lightroom presets for portraits and design resume that I could use on my photograph.
When I’m started using Lightroom presets for my photograph, I’m surprisingly amazed, how Lightroom preset could really help for me, my friends keep asking me that “What am I using at the moment? What my favorite Lightroom Presets are for portraits? “I feel very satisfy and relaxed taking a shoot because I know that my Lightroom presets could really help me.
Now, are you interested in saving time? Want to find out how easy is to edit with Lightroom presets? You’ve come to the right place; I am here to help you successfully. Below are the best Lightroom presets that surely will work for you.
#1: Soft Afternoon Lightroom preset. This preset is beautiful for spring, autumn, winter and summer photography. I use this one because I know the results will be great and awesome. This Lightroom preset will give your photographs with flat light a gentle afternoon glow to give a beautiful dreamy feel. Also, it will add a gorgeous soft afternoon glow effect to your photography and will soften harsh – light photographs.
#2: Golden Colouring Lightroom Preset. This Lightroom preset is one of the most popular presets; it’s designed to give your photographs a spectacular dreamy and gentle glow. It works on – Animal portraits, nature, spring and autumn photography. This Lightroom preset will add a soft golden tone to your photographs, can reduce the cool tones in your photograph, and gently increase the brightness and contrast.
#3: Whipped Cream Lightroom Preset. This Lightroom preset is perfect for spring, winter, autumn and summer photography. This will give your flat colour photographs the punch need, and will create beautiful creamy, warm, airy photographs. Also, give your photographs that finishing touch.
Enjoy saving time while editing using with Lightroom presets.
Learning how to use the basic panel in the latest versions of adobe lightroom is a great way to turn raw and dull to a more stunning and lively images. Some fresh images don’t need a total makeover, it only needs some basic and simple adjustment to really glow and shine. In this article, we will discuss a lot of things related to editing images and how to use lightroom’s basic control panel.
These two major settings are very significant in producing the finest images.
First Setting: Treatment
Starting from the very basics of lightroom called “develop module”, you have to choose two options to treat or modify an image, and it is either changing the color of the image to black and white or adjusting the major colors to make it livelier. If you don’t have the skills and talent to modify images, then lightroom is for you.
Second Setting: White Balance
After learning the basic treatment setting, let’s move on to the next setting in lightroom basic panel; the white balance setting. This specific and major setting in the develop module is mainly responsible for the overall color accuracy of every image. Basically, you only need to adjust the right white balance setting to produce a dynamic image.
The latest versions of lightroom comes with several white balance ready free presets which follow the original white balance setting on mobile devices and on cameras. The upgraded presets are shade, flash, fluorescent, tungsten, daylight and cloudy. The only disadvantage of these presets from the latest version is that it overpowers the original setting of the image.
Adobe lightroom is also a great tool for beginners who want to explore and try out their skills in editing images. For more information about lightroom, watch the video about how to install the latest version of lightroom on mac and other devices.
Touted as the “Olympic” camera (as it’s dropping just before the Olympics next year), the new Canon EOS ID X has been announced. Replacing the 1Ds Mark III and 1D Mark IV with an 18 megapixel full frame sensor, it’s predominantly aimed at sports and studio photographers, yet the video stats are pretty interesting: dual CF card slots, three image processors, 1080 HD video at 24p, 25p or 30p, two new compression formats, a impressive recording time of 30 minutes (AGM results can now be filmed on a dslr?! :-) ) and many other great improvements.
The EOS-1D X will cost around £5,299.99, though this has yet to be confirmed.
I’m going to be talking about using music in your video productions that are headed online – DVDs, Broadcast and Mobile are very different and require different sets of rules/licences. That said, there are quite a few misconceptions about using commercial music in your video productions going online – and no one seems to talk about it.
Coming from an online broadcaster background, when producing clips, my team would have to make a record of what music we used, including artist, record label, duration used and the like.
PRS and Music Licences
When producing the first of my biking videos (yes, DSLRs can be used in sports!), I was unsure as to what the rules were for using background music on YouTube. I phoned up PRS for Music, a UK organisation that “exist to collect and pay royalties to our members when their music is exploited in one of a number of ways – when it is recorded onto any format and distributed to the public, performed or played in public, broadcast or made publicly available online.”
I called up PRS for Music and asked them about using commercial music in my biking videos. From the outset, I was very happy to pay them some money – I saw on their website that they have a limited online music licence that starts at £107 + VAT – very happy to pay that just so I can use the music I want in my productions.
After talking to one of their representatives, once I mentioned I was producing short clips for YouTube and wanted to use music as background music to moving images – they said that they have a blanket licence with YouTube, meaning that you can use what you want when you want.
Now, to me as a music user – that sounds great, but I do wonder if the music industry is missing a trick here. I’d be quite happy to pay for a licence or on a track by track basis. What if YouTube had a reporting/pay function when you upload a video for music rights. Sure, some people may not use it, but broadcasters and video producers like myself would use it simply for accountability.
One thing PRS did mention was that if the music publisher didn’t like how I used the music, they can ask YouTube to remove the audio track (I’ve seen an example of this, so know it to be true). Now, I would happily have paid a licence just to ensure that my video would remain untouched by publishers hands – wouldn’t you?
So here’s a few tips that I’ve recently formulated. Credit music when you use it, usually at the end in form of credits (song title, artist, album/single name, label, copyright date). Also, I would tend to use music that isn’t widely known i.e. something not in the charts. This can serve two purposes. One, the music is less recognisable and less likely to cause anyone problems, and two, for the sake of longevity, using music that is popular will significantly date your video.
And one thing that you should always try and do – contact the artist or label and ask them whether you can use their music. Honesty is the best policy, and if they say yes, you’ve got something in writing regardless. If you’re approaching unsigned artists, they are usually very happy for you to promote their music and get exposure. Smaller independent labels may be similar.
There are two other things you can do. Contact a local music producer (you may even have one in your social circle already, or family) and partner up – they allow you to use their music in exchange for you to make their music videos – its that kind of collaboration that if balanced right, can make for a great creative partnership. And not forgetting, if all else fails, make your own music. There are a few programs out their that let you put a few loops together – such as Apple’s Soundtrack Pro – just be careful, this tool is in the hands of a lot of people, so go buy the extra loops just to be better assured that you’re not using the loops everyone else is using.
What are your thoughts about using music in your video productions online? Is it a fair system? Do you have any tips or advice to share? Say it in the comments.
I believe I’ve got one of the first Zacuto Z-Finder Jr.‘s in the UK from Creative Video. Now, first and foremost, I’ll be doing a proper video real-world-review of this new Z-Finder soon, but I just wanted to share my initial thoughts with you on why I got it.
I had a shoot coming up at the weekend and was in need of a viewfinder. It was a road bike event (or “sportive”). From previous shoots, I knew that just using the DSLR’s screen was not going to cut it (see the reflection of my face in it in the photo below).
The reason for the reflection is obvious. The sun hits the screen and bounces off. A viewfinder was needed, and I went on the hunt for a suitable product. I know there’s the Hoodman HoodLoupe and the LCDVF, but they each come with their downsides (the HoodLoupe attaches with straps around the body – not strong enough for outdoor run and gun, and the LCDVF comes with a magnetic bond – and cameras and magnets scare me!).
That left Zacuto and their Z-Finder. Now, the old Z-Finder (the V2) didn’t sit well with me due to the on-body adhesion, but when I heard about the new range of Z-Finders, I had found my loupe.
Little real-world problem here though. It was Wednesday and I needed to get the loupe before the weekend. Luckily, Creative Video had the Z-Finder in stock, but only the Jr., Zacuto’s basic loupe. I simply couldn’t wait for the pro versions of the Z-Finder. I was desperate, I didn’t want another can’t-manage-to-see-what-I’m-focussing-on moment. I ordered and it arrived just before the weekend’s shoot.
One immediate thing to mention about the Zacuto Z-Finder Jr. if you’re considering a purchase, is the mounting bracket that connects the loupe to the camera body. It sucks, big style. Reading the instructions (which were sent to me via Twitter by Mandy @ Zacuto – thanks Mandy!), it shows you how to attach the mounting bracket to the camera and then how to fit the Z-Finder Jr. No matter how much I adjusted, tightened and fiddled, I couldn’t find a way of securing the Z-Finder for prolonged periods of use. I’d bring the viewfinder up to my eye and see that it was wonky. I do wonder if using the mounting bracket actually damages the screen (the rubber seal has warped quite a bit).
The solution? A Gorilla mounting frame and baseplate. Not available in the UK yet, but get them as soon as they are available. That should give you a rock-solid fit without resorting to the adhesive.
Also, being my first loupe, I wasn’t aware of how problematic fogging-up of the lens can be. For that reason, I’d probably get one of the Pro versions (which have an anti-fog coating on the lens) – which are now in stock in the UK – hurrah!
I’ll be doing a video review of the Zacuto Jr. in a few weeks time, once I’ve had a decent amount of use of it to warrant a proper review – that’s only fair -right?
Disclaimer: Not that it matters, but this is my own personal Z-Finder Jr. bought with my own money and this article consists of my own opinion and experiences – this isn’t endorsed by Zacuto in anyway.
Have you got a Z-Finder Jr.? How are you getting on with it?
We’re running a meetup on Thursday 22nd April 2010 at 7:30pm at St Christopher’s Inn, 121 Borough High Street, London SE1 1NP. It’s for anyone in and around London to come, share knowledge and experiences and enjoy a drink or four.
If you’re interested in attending, please head on over to our meetup page, sign up to the group and find out everything you need to know about the meetup.
As it’s our first meetup, it will take the form of a social with a drink, meeting people and sharing ideas.
If you have cameras/rigs with you, please bring them along (we don’t accept responsibility for any damage, loss or spillage of beer on your very expensive lens!). There might be opportunities to learn how to use them better -share the wealth!
We’re looking for sponsors to support the meetup, which can range from putting some money behind the bar, to covering the meetup room hire. In exchange, you’re welcome to conduct a 10 minute talk promoting your company or service and handout promotional material (that’s fair isn’t it?). Please go to our meetup page and click on the sponsors button on the left for more details.
I’m so excited for this week. This will be my first time to vegas and I’m really looking forward to WPPI. Many of you may know this, and some may not, but I left stillmotion about a month ago to set off on my own way, so this will be my first show on my own. It’s going to be a big jump for me this year. I’ve already started booking weddings and corporate work, and I’m looking forward to collaborating with people i’ve become good friends with.
For those of you who don’t know what WPPI is, essentially its a huge gathering of photographers from all around the work who shoot portrait and wedding photography. While there, photographers have the chance to take classes, check out new products and services, and meet people from all around the world.
Now you might be asking, why would a cinematographer go to this show? Well, to tell you the truth i don’t even know why I am going. my original plan was to go to NAB in April, but after a couple conversations with friends in the industry, I decided it might be a worth while experience to go to WPPI as well.
So I have my flight to Las Vegas booked, and my room booked as well. I haven’t decided on a return flight. I’m thinking on going on one of my own little adventures again, maybe to California after WPPI (if only i could drive, that would make things 10 times better!).
I’m looking forward to reconnecting with some awesome people I’ve met before, as well as new people. I have no idea what to expect from this, but I sure hope it’s a lot of fun.
I can’t stop thinking how lucky I have been to date. I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to work with and be mentored by some of the best in the industry (even now on my own, the amount of support from everybody is insane), and now I’m privileged to go my own ways. I’ve learned so much over the past six years I’ve been doing cinematography (which started off more as videography) and I’m just so thankful.
So over the next couple months, a few things will be happening. First off, i’m in the beginning stages of forming my new company. I don’t have a name yet, but i’ll be sure to come up with one eventually (finding a name that I like is so difficult!). Second, i’m working right now with some awesome people to form a brand and create a beautiful and modern portfolio/blog. Lastly, I’m booking dates this year for weddings and other shoots.
I’m really looking forward to what is in store in the future – to think that i’m only 16, and I have already been able to experience so much so far in my life, it’ll be crazy to think what will be coming up down the road. I don’t even know, maybe it’ll be going to the University of my dreams in California. Or maybe something else. Whatever it might be, I’m so excited!
I’m on the verge of believing that a Video DSLR could be the best thing to happen to the moving picture since the invention of TV itself.
When we first heard about these new stills cameras that shoot video we were sceptical, but the results seemed tangible. We waited and watched, and really liked what we saw.
So, a few weeks ago we decided that a Video DSLR would be our next camera purchase along with a few choice lenses. We had heard from others that there could be some limitations to these cameras, but our concerns were unwarranted, as we saw just how many other event filmmakers were embracing the bokeh and filmic wonderment that is the hybrid DSLR. The bottom line is this; if like us you are used to shooting in full manual, then the transition to DSLR is a breeze.
We have since fallen in love with the tapeless workflow and soft creamy background that our 7D gives us. We also think it creates a number of new opportunities for our workflow, business value and business development.
The great thing about the 7D is that it’s a stills camera. At the moment, when we are out filming with the 7D, we have the element of surprise. The majority of subjects being filmed, are unaware that they are the focus of our attention, mainly due to the fact that its looks like just a stills camera. This gives us the ability to snipe those natural reportage shots, in the moment, when people appear at their richest.
With this in mind we started a new project. We decided we would use the 7D exclusively to shoot our new web series called “My First Year”. This idea came about after seeing our good friends and their newborn son, and just how much the new baby would grow and change over this coming year. Already he was 5 weeks old and so much had changed. So we decided to make a video series for his first year of life. Showing him and his family, the challenges they face with a newborn and of course a little humour in there as well.
We also thought this was a great chance to play with our new toy, the 7D.
The plan was simple, spend a day with the star of the show and his family and just film them doing their thing. We wanted to keep the shots it as natural as possible, so the 7D was perfect. Its small size meant everyone was instantly at ease. A large video camera, even our small Sony FX1 is too big for some. Most of the family were so comfortable with us filming, that they had no idea they were the focal point. That’s got to be the beauty of using a stills camera for film, hasn’t it?
For the early episodes in the series we will be shooting using the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX DC HSM lens. This particular lens is designed for the cropped sensor of the 7D which means your focal length is a true 30mm. It’s also a bargain at about £350. The other reason we selected this lens is because wide open it creates a lovely shallow depth of field without being too tight. This helps draw the viewer into the world of baby Joshua and possibly how he sees the world. The popular canon 50mm f/1.4 with the 7D crop would be far too tight for this particular shoot.
As the series progress’s and baby Joshua becomes more aware of those around him the DOF will increase and our lens choices will change to reflect this. Also camera movement will play a big part.
Who ever said that size wasn’t important? In this case, small is better! Another big plus point for the 7D is its size. The 7D can go places no other camera can. I’m hoping to really put its weatherproofing to the test later in the series but for now the form factor helped achieve one shot I really wanted. The fridge shot! During shooting it was Joshua’s feeding time so I followed Dad to the kitchen where he showed me the milk which is kept in the fridge. So we talked about a point of view shot.
We placed the 7D at the back of the fridge and the baby’s milk bottle in front of it. This made for a great shot as the opening of the fridge door took us from darkness into the shot itself. A fantastic reveal.
With the help of the 7D we have also been able to clear up one of life’s major mysteries. Does the light go out in the fridge when you close the door? I can confirm this is a yes.
As this was a documentary piece the colouring was to be as natural as possible. On our 7D we use a modified custom picture profile based on the ‘Faithful’ look. I’m not sure why people insist on using the ‘Neutral’ base profile as this doesn’t give very true colour representation and needs to be fixed in post. Have a read of the user manual page 65 for a better explanation. I say just get it right in camera as much as you can. The less fiddling you have to do later the better. All we do to the profile is knock the contrast all the way down as this gives you more latitude later and take the saturation down 1 or 2 notches. We leave the sharpness at about 3. The reason for this is it applies sharpening BEFORE compression so just sharpens the good stuff. If you knock this down and put it back in post then your also sharpening ISO noise and compression artefacts.
Highlight Tone Priority wasn’t used in this piece as it was all shot indoors with very few chances for highlights. However there are a few scenes where I wish I had it on. There are some who are concerned that HTP brings noise into the shadows. This is true but by the time you compress it out for the web or Blu-Ray, any noise is lost and even then the only way I noticed it was when taking screenshots and comparing them in Photoshop. When the image is moving the benefits far outweigh any negatives.
At the moment, we do all our editing in Sony Vegas. Its quick, it’s easy and it’s powerful. We add just a touch of saturation and bring back the contrast. We corrected a few scenes using NewBlue FX (their Color Fixer Plus is pure voodoo!).
We always shoot in full manual, 7D or otherwise. In our opinion, full manual is the only way to really achieve the best look. If your still using one of the creative modes then it’s not that hard to make the change and it’s well worth it.
So we’re heading towards celebrating our one-year anniversary together and I haven’t looked back, not once. We’ve had our up’s and down’s, we have even shared a few heated situations together, but with all that said and done – every minute I’ve spent so far with the 5d mark II has been a pure and utter pleasure.
I run a creative media solutions studio called Clearhead Media by day and on the weekends I am a self-employed photographer. In the spring of last year I found myself taking bookings to shoot weddings. I ended up booking a wedding every weekend for the next four months. I couldn’t have been happier. Who wouldn’t? Yet I had a big concern. My concern was how my gear would hold up. Would it be good enough? Good enough for the level of work I wanted to produce?
Luckily I had been putting some money aside for new gear and with all these weddings now booked in, I decided to go for it and purchase the Canon 5d mark II.
I had purchased the camera along with a 24-105 f4 and 50 f1.8. Both decent kit lenses that would cover all areas I needed to start with. I had bought this camera just to shoot the weddings. I knew of the video function on the camera, but it hadn’t even occurred to me to shoot video with it.
A couple of weeks passed and I had the chance to test the camera out on a few photo shoots. I also had a go at shooting some short video clips with it around the office. The image this camera was producing completely astounded me.
We had been shooting all of our corporate and promotional films with a Sony Z1 and spending out to hire 15K HDCAM’s with all the bells and whistles for larger shoots, such as commercials.
I started to shoot some side by side comparisons of footage with the 5d mark II and the Sony Z1 and from there on in I haven’t looked back. We have been shooting all of our productions on the 5d mark II and now the 7d ever since (you can head across to our website if you’re interested in having a look at some of our productions).
What I wanted to talk about today was a shoot I did in January, ‘run and gun’ style.
In January myself and good buddy @paulleaning were asked by a local artist Niki Edwards (Comic Dot Boy) if we could put together a quick music video for him for the release of his latest EP. He didn’t have a budget and needed it to be turned around in two days. He asked us if we were up for the challenge – we agreed.
The weather at that time had been awful, relentless slushy snow and drizzle. With this in mind we did a few test shots inside, but realised quickly that we wanted to produce something outside, somehow taking advantage of the opportunity to use the snow.
We scouted a few locations, finally coming across an abandoned wood cabin in Ashridge.
With a good mile trek to get to the location, we decided to shoot low profile ‘run and gun’ – if you like. We picked up the 5d, tripod and a tracking dolly and headed off. With the shoot being very short notice and needing a quick turnaround, there wasn’t much time for much planning. Once we reached the location, we took ten minutes to take a look around the location, planning a few shots and bouncing around some ideas between us.
Shooting with such a low profile setup was refreshing. We’d usually kit out the 5d with rails, follow focus, external mic, zacuto z-finder and a field monitor. However not wanting to carry any more gear than we had to actually made the whole process feel very organic and comfortable – both in terms of us shooting the video and the reactions we managed to capture from the artist.
One piece of equipment we used on the shoot was the Hague Tracking Dolly. Being able to create cinematic tracking shots on a ‘run and gun’ shoot can be extremely difficult. However, with tracking systems such as the Hague or glidetrack, creating these shots is so easy and prove invaluable to a production.
For the majority of the shoot we shot with the 24-105 at f4 switching to the 50 f1.4 for close ups. Both extremely versatile kit lenses gave us the ability to shoot in fully manual mode at 1/50th second with an ISO of 400 maximum. We generally shot at at around ISO 200.
Just a couple of tips I’d give from my experience on the day. If you are shooting in cold conditions, fingerless gloves can be great for intricate work on a dslr, however not essential. Also keep a lens cloth handy to make sure you keep a constant check on condensation and water drops on your lens.
After shooting for around an hour we packed up and headed home. I then converted all the raw footage into Pro Res using MPEG Streamclip, dragged all the files into Final Cut Pro and synced all the audio from the Pro Res footage with the master audio track using Plural Eyes. Now that all the audio was synced, I spent the next few hours editing the video together, exporting and uploading the completed music video to Vimeo.
So that was Broadcast Video Expo 2010. I didn’t attend last year, so found it useful to gauge where the industry is at. Predominantly there were two camps – 3D and Video DSLR – the latter obviously something that excites me.
I talked to quite a few guys at the show, some exhibitors and some visitors and the mood felt very upbeat. The newbies to DSLR filmmaking were full of intrepedation, liking what they were seeing and wanting to know more. I was in a queue for the show this morning with the 7D around my neck and instantly it became a conversation started. “Been shooting for long with that?” one attendee asked. Another asked me about what it was like to edit. He was an Avid editor, who was moving more and more over to Final Cut Pro and loved the possibilities available to him to do the occasional shooting with DSLR cameras.
I was also fortunate to bump into some old colleagues, and their sole reason for attending the expo was to find out more information regarding shooting on dslr cameras.
Let’s not forget, there was a big showing of RED cameras, with various companies showing accessories and workflows and the like, but to me, the excitement was focussed very much on the Video DSLRs at the show.
I attended the cinematography on dslr workshop hosted by Den Lennie and Drew Gardener, which served as a great overview of the field. Drew shared his experience from shooting still to moving images and is currently producing a DVD to share with others his experiences and techniques.
I’m cutting some videos I shot with the 7D at the show, including a piece with Den talking about F-Stop Academy and the buzz surrounding DSLRs. I also got the opportunity to ask some of the exhibitors about their products and what we can expect from them in the future. I’ll be putting those videos on the website as soon as humanly possible. Canon and a few others were very interested in letting us know about future product launches and filming other demos, so there should be a steady stream of video content coming up in the future.
If you’d like to contribute to videodslr.tv, please contact us – this isn’t a dictatorship – the more people that get involved with the site will benefit the community at large. Anything we decide to include into the site will be fully credited – you can be assured of that.
For over year and a half now, public interest in the new field of the so called “HD-DSLR video” has been certainly overwhelming. And a little bit over the top most of the time, if I may say so.
Canon wasn’t the first brand to present a DSLR camera with HD video functionalities, nor the most imaginative once they did, but one has to agree that it’s been the company with a better overall vision of this niche market so far.
To this day, five Canon DSLR cameras (out of a total range of seven inside the EOS sub-brand) are capable of shooting HD video (the 500D, 550D, 7D, 5D Mark II and 1D Mark IV) and it’s not unreasonable to think the rest will be updated including HD video capabilities at some point during 2010.
This review aims to help users squeeze all the video functions available within their Canon DSLRs, bearing in mind this could be a very powerful video tool but -at the same time- a limited one in many ways.
Not even Canon was aware of the potential hidden under the case of their first HD-DSLR product (the EOS 5D Mark II) when it was unveiled, back in September 2008. Developed in order to respond to major agencies and newspapers demands for a new tool allowing their photojournalists to shoot good pictures and some additional HD video coverage for their media websites –hence those damn 30fps-, no one could expect the excitement and the huge level of attention low-budget filmmakers, DOPs and little production companies all around the world would devote to it. And that was only the beginning.
Don’t get me wrong. Canon’s marketing departments did count on some minor agitation in the video world and their engineers were already prepared to develop firmware updates allowing -or to be more accurate “unlocking”- manual control and 24/25p shooting modes from day one. But it was no big deal.
Typical clean and boring demo footage from Canon Japan was all you could see for the first few days after the launching. There were no ads focused on videographers at all. No one was paying too much attention to it. After all this was (and still is) a photo camera.
And then, out of the blue, came Vincent Laforet and “Reverie”.
Laforet, a well-known french-american photographer borrowed a pre-production camera from Canon USA to test it and decided to spend his own money in the making of a video using a bunch of lenses, a couple of models, a fancy car, a little classic lighting, some aerial shooting of NYC by night and lots of little gadgets. He edited those clips adding a kinda confused plot, a glossy grading and some timeworn Moby’s musical background and the result was an “in your face” HD video which shocked half the internet users in less than a week.
Canon USA got the short movie quickly transferred to the company’s own site and it didn’t take much longer before it actually collapsed due to so many downloads. The wave kept rising and “I didn’t know a DSLR could do THAT!” became the commonplace sentence of the quarter.
While we could argue for ages about its doubtful taste, “Reverie” turned out being the best (and probably the cheapest) commercial Canon could ever dream of, so Mr. Laforet clearly deserves every penny he earns as advertising photographer (just one of his many successful facets).
From then on, the japanese manufacturer has tried to be a step ahead the rest. First releasing an entry level DSLR with video features (EOS 500D), then unlocking manual control on the EOS 5D Mark II, later on releasing three new HD-DSLR cameras (with some noticeable improvements as 24/25p and 50/60p (720) in the EOS 7D, 1D Mark IV and 550D).
Eventually Canon launched -in mid march 2010- a firmware update for the EOS 5D Mark II which unlocked 24/25p features. It also included new histogram display for shooting movies in manual exposure, the addition of shutter-priority (Tv) and aperture-priority (Av) in movie mode and improved audio functionality that allow users to set sound record levels manually using a sound-level meter displayed on the LCD screen. The audio sampling frequency was also increased from 44.1KHz to 48KHz, providing the audio signal typically required for professional or broadcast material.
On the other hand, Canon always kept this advances and updates to the minimum in order to optimize mass production. This “little by little” strategy rises the sales and the life of a camera like the EOS 5D Mark II and helps setting differences between the EOS ranges (“Full HD” 1080/20p in the -already dated- EOS 500D being the most ridiculous example of that policy).
Shallow depth of field is, obviously, the main reason behind that “film look” everybody loves about HD-DSLR video. The size of an APS-C sensor like the one used on the EOS 7D and 550D (with a crop factor of 1,6x) is pretty close to a Super 35mm frame or a S35 sensor. On the other hand the EOS 5D Mark II’s full frame sensor is equivalent to a Vistavision Frame. The APS-H sensor of the EOS 1D Mark IV (with a crop factor of 1,3x) stands in the middle of the other two (with no equivalence in film). Such sizes allow a richer tonal range, a better bokeh and a much better behaviour with high ISO speeds than videocameras with sensors of 1/3rd, 1/2nd or 2/3rd sizes.
Electronic noise, however, does appear sooner or later with all digital cameras. Specially in the darker areas of the image. There are several reasons why this noise might be noticeable:
High ISOs: We can expect clean images in most situations up until 800 ISO in the EOS 7D, 1600 ISO in the EOS 5D Mark II and 3200 ISO in the EOS 1D Mark IV. But with good lighting conditions you can reach even higher ISOs without notable flaws.
Overheating can also cause thermal noise and a general diminishing of the image. And that’s something you won’t be able to distinguish in the camera LCD without an external viewfinder. Therefore it is advisable not to shoot continuously over long periods of time. Besides, the EOS 7D and 1D Mark IV will automatically turn off the video shooting in such cases no matter how important and unique those images might be so… watch out!
Canon includes some preloaded gamma curves (called “picture styles”) on each one of its DSLRs so the user has -to a certain extent- the final say on the eventual look of the in-camera images before shooting. Chances are not nearly as many nor as amazing as in their -already dated- range of XL/XH prosumer camcorders (which will be replaced this year), but then again these happen to be photo cameras. Good news are each style allows little changes in sharpness, contrast, saturation and color tone so you don’t have to be stuck in their basic curves for long. Those preloaded styles are:
Standard: According to Canon this style is “set to produce the vivid colors and contrast level that people tend to prefer for general photographic subjects. It provides the optimal sharpness for printing image without post-processing and makes it possible to produce beautifully finished prints for a broad array of subjects, from snapshots to sports shooting, with no retouch”. In the real world that means high contrast levels and pretty saturated images (specially in the reds). While it’s true that most photographs will benefit from this look (which is the default one on any EOS camera) whenever you’re shooting video this might be your worst nightmare. Such contrast produces stacatto and aliasing pretty often. Besides, moiré and even maze artifacts are inevitable on any detailed texture from a colourful subject.
Portrait: It does adjust the color tone magenta-to-yellow close to red range and adds brightness. Canon claims it’s better to reproduce the skin tone of women and children. In my experience, this style is something to be avoid at all times (at least when shooting caucasian faces). Otherwise, every skin will look like pig skin. Period.
Landscape: Basically rises saturation and changes brightness on blue and green colors independently, turning them deeper (blues), brighter (greens) and more vivid. As moiré in Canon DSLRs is specially critical within reds we might get away with this one, but being extremely careful on avoiding too much detail within our landscapes. This style also uses a stronger sharpness than any other, so please turn it down or you’ll host an aliasing feast in your videos.
Neutral: By far the most appropriate style most of the time. Contrast and saturation settings are moderated, so there is less risk of overexposure and color saturation compared to other styles. Manually reducing contrast down to “-4” and saturation down to “-2” you’ll be the closest you can to a general all-purpose style without creating curves on your own. Richer detail is retained as data, so corrections can easily be rendered later on post.
Faithful: Pretty close to the standard style, only less contrasty and maintaining the color taste near the actual subject. Can be quite useful whenever the original colors of a scene must be accurately expressed.
Monochrome: Obviously, the ideal one for black and white images. Sharpness is set relatively strongly (beware). Sepia, blue or other toning effect is applicable to create a monochrome image in that color. Also, red, green or other filter effect can be applied to control the color. Using them in a proper way (and avoiding too much sharpness) this might be another good style.
In addition to the six preset styles, three more Picture Styles can be registered through connection to a personal computer. And some more can be applied in post (with such uninspired names as “studio portrait”, “snapshot portrait”, “nostalgia”, “clear”, “twilight”, “emerald” and “autumn hues”).
Or you might create your own curve with the Picture Style Editor software, which allows you to control color freely using numeric values. Needless to say, some know-how and some dexterity are required as well as an appropriate color management throughout the process. There’s a growing online library of custom styles available wherever there’s a HDSLR forum so you might want to test some of them too.
Debate still rages about the exact nature of the motion perception process, but these days it is generally agreed that what makes us perceive motion in place of a rapid succession of still images is a psychological effect, known as the phi phenomenon, an optical illusion in which the rapid appearance and disappearance of two stationary objects such as flashing lights are perceived as the movement back and forth of a single object.
At low spatial frequencies, the human visual system’s temporal contrast sensitivity function (CSF) is roughly bandpass, whereas at high spatial frequencies it is low pass [Robson 1966; Koenderink and van Doorn 1966]. This implies that at low spatial frequencies the visual system is more sensitive to high image speeds, and at high spatial frequencies it is more sensitive to low image speeds. For example, the visual system can detect much larger frame-to-frame displacements in images that are dominated by low spatial frequencies than it can for images dominated by higher spatial frequencies.
The perception limit of our human visual system is delimited by a maximum amount of 43 to 45 images per second. Film cameras (rolling at 24 fps) depend on the shutter angle to get as close as possible to our human vision. A 180º angle is the average choice in most cases (however, this is never a strict rule to follow, for there are many other considerations a DOP has to bear in mind in order to obtain the kind of image and motion required by the director).
We must “translate” these shutter angles to shutter speed values and that can be done with the following simple formula:
Frames per second X 360º / desired shutter angle = shutter speed needed.
For an instance, if we are shooting at 24fps we have to calculate 24 X 360 / 180 = 48 (meaning the shutter speed will be 1/48).
Therefore, a shutter speed of 1/50 (there’s no 1/48 available) is the closest one to our vision allowed by a DSLR (whenever we shoot at 24/25 fps, 30 fps will require 1/60 shutter speed instead).
With such sensor sizes, any faster shutter speed will produce stacatto while slower speeds will increase motion blur significantly. So, unless we want our video to look like the first 20 minutes of “Saving private Ryan” or -on the other side- like a cheap phantom’s movie we must stick around the 1/30 and 1/125 values.
There’s yet another reason to be careful about shutter speeds. The frequency of the electrical system varies by country but most electric power is generated at either 50 or 60 Hz. So if you’re not working with professional lighting equipment the only way to avoid flickering is by shooting at 1/50 or 1/60 shutter speed (depending on the country you’re shooting at).
Some Canon EF lenses incorporate an image stabiliser to prevent camera shake from spoiling the shot. Once its turned on the IS will keep stabilising during the whole video shoot. But just as well as with ENG video lenses, the IS must be disconnected when attaching the camera to a tripod in order to avoid jumping images while panning.
As with most CMOS sensors, those of Canon DSLRs do record each individual movie frame not as a single snapshot of a point in time but by scanning across the frame either vertically or horizontally. As a result not all parts of the image are recorded at exactly the same time though the frame is stored as a single still on the CF card. This produces predictable distortions of fast moving objects or when the sensor captures rapid flashes of light.
Partial exposure seems to be the biggest issue with the rolling shutter of this cameras so whenever there are flashes or ER vehicles around be aware those lights might lit up part a third of your frame while the rest remains in the dark.
As for the jello effect it is noticeable in pretty fast pans but it’s no big deal generally speaking. So skew can be avoided and i’ve found no wobble so far.
In case you can’t go for another take try correcting this effects with the “Rolling shutter” (by The Foundry) plug-in for After Effects applying a correcting factor of 0.56. That’ll more or less do the trick.
Heads and Tripods
Most people are looking for a good priced fluid head to use with this kind of cameras. Manfrotto HDV Pro Fluid Video series (which are friction plate designs instead of true fluid heads) have become very popular and have earned a reputation of very cheap and quite reliable heads. I’ve briefly tested the 701HDV, 501HDV and the 503HDV models so far.
I was quickly done with the first two. The 701HDV is not strong enough to operate with heavy lenses and/or rigs. And there’s no way to pan smoothly with the 501HDV. Not at all. Besides, tilt, lock and drag functions are uncomfortable and uneasy to manage fast and properly. And then there’s that terrible spring-back (enough to ruin any decent pan). To be honest, it got on my nerves.
The 503HDV is quite a different beast. First of all, it’s wider and sturdier and therefore has a much better mount plate for a DSLR body. The tilt, lock and drag functions are much easier to manage (situated on the left side of the head) and fast enough to operate with.
Unfortunately, the pan drag control sits under the camera support plate and it can be a bit tough to reach and a little nightmare to adjust, specially once the camera is mounted.
One of the best features on this head is the four-step counterbalance spring for camera balance. Bearing in mind there are (significant) weight differences within the EF lenses range (conformed by more than 60 lenses) this counterbalance spring is extremely useful.
Another useful feature is the leveling bubble which includes a LED light powered by a disc battery. I can’t even recall how many times did i thank Manfrotto for having that little light in dark enviroments.
The telescopic arm is strong enough and easy to attach and remove (you can move it to the left side or even add an extra arm for LANC remotes purposes). But even being a sturdy head, there’s a bit of spring-back on the 503HDV too, only you can easily deal with it.
The only way to avoid spring-back completely is using a multiple tube tripod. Manfrotto offers a kit with the 525PK tripod, which is ok. It’s major disadvantage is the lack of height once extended. On the other hand, those thick legs are light and strong at the same time thanks to their combination of magnesium and carbon fiber which made them a real “built to last” product. And –believe me- your back will appreciate their lightness. So i definitely think if your looking for the best quality/price ratio on a video tripod this product is a something to be considered.
Now, if you can spend your money on a true fluid head go for the Sachtler FSB-8. You won’t be disappointed. It’s extra weight capacity (extending the payload range to 19.8 lbs (9 kg) is perfect to use with all kinds of gadgets attached to your camera allowing you to adjust the center of gravity with ease. It provides a 10-stage counterbalance as well as five steps of drag (plus 0) for both tilt and pan. Speedbalance and Sideload technology allows for quick mounting and un mounting and combined with any of the tripods offered with it by Sachtler it becomes a bliss to use right after the unpacking.
Zacuto, Arri, Red Rock, Chrosziel, Cavision and Genus (among others) manufacture rigs for HDSLRs. All those solutions are mostly ok, although quite expensive for what they’re worth. The basic parts of those rigs are usually:
Matte Boxes: Not essential for every shoot, but indispensable to avoid IR pollution with ND filters. The cheapest ones are dangerous for filters, which might get several scratches during use. Among the reliable ones (such as the ones from the already mentioned brands) the main issue is their huge size (too big for most EF lenses). Genus and Red-Rock are the main exceptions in this case, and their DSLR models suit perfectly Canon lenses.
Follow-Focus: By far the most important part of a rig for DSLRs if you want your focus puller to survive the shooting without killing himself or anyone else. It has to be used gently not to force the lenses’ torque too much. Arri has the most unbelievable ones, well build and very accurate –hence their also unbelievable prices-. On the other hand, the Red-Rock follow-focus is not trusty enough. IDC’s one is a plain and simple disaster.
Finder: Must provide a good magnification and has to be easy to adjust properly in order to see the whole LCD frame. Here Zacuto’s Z-finder stands out as the best one. It has a 3x magnification and a fine diopter adjustment wheel with a pretty wide range.
A portable video camera dolly offers silky smooth tracking camera shots without any of the hassles and constraints of traditional video camera tracking and dolly systems. Glidetrack offers the wider range of portable rails for that purpose, the Glidetrack HD being ideal to use with DSLR cameras. It’s available in compact 0.5m length, standard 1m length and extra 2m. lenght. It can be used as a somewhat strange rig too.
Kessler Crane’s CineSlider is the best portable dolly around. Much more versatile than other models in the market though a bit more expensive too.
We attended the grand opening of Planet Video Systems’ new showroom on Wednesday 3rd March 2010 at Pinewood Studios, UK.
There was a lot on offer and many experts to show customers the latest advances in technology. For us Video DSLR users, there were a couple of items on show, including the Rotolight (a simple, but powerful LED ring light to go around a shotgun mic or on its own hot-shoe mount) and a Holophone (a 5.1 surround sound microphone).
Planet Video Systems are Apple Solution Experts in creative, audio and video and had a range of Apple products, from MacBook Pros to iMacs running the latest Final Cut Studio packages. Experts were on hand to show attendees what they could achieve in post, providing demos on how to use Color to grade footage, to a Final Cut Studio ‘mini masterclass’ with Apple trainer Jonathan Eric Tyrrell.
All in all, a great launch, good food and plenty of expertise being shared at Pinewood Studios.
When high school student Mark Klassen discovered an opportunity to win a grant to supply the rest of his media arts course with video production equipment, he jumped at the chance. For Klassen, it was an opportunity he just couldn’t turn down.
“I’m always excited to take on projects where I can jump on board and work together to turn words on paper into a vision and take that vision and turn it into reality – this was the perfect chance for me to do exactly that”.
The school video started off as a concept created by Klassen’s teacher Eric Moccio and fellow student, Evan Perusse. Moccio has been teaching students for a couple of years now the essentials of video production. Students learn about lightning and camera techniques, how to edit, and ultimately distribute videos. The course had gained more popularity, the class had expanded and the need for more equipment was becoming an obvious necessity.
After Moccio had found out about the opportunity to win a grant, he got in touch with Klassen and asked if he would like to be involved.
“I’d been busy editing for the past couple weeks and hadn’t shot much so I immediately jumped on the thought of shooting/directing a short video. ”
“I was given three things, the contest rules for the piece, the script they had created, and the date contest submissions were due. From there on creative freedom was left up to me to storyboard and shoot what I had envisioned for the concept. ”
Klassen is no stranger to video production. His first encounter with video was back in 2004, where he would lend his time to local organizations and volunteer his talent to help and learn in any way that he could. One evening he was asked if he could help prepare and monitor audio on a shoot that the video department of the organization was doing and he gladly accepted.
“After that, my initial desire to pursue film/video was ignited.”
“From there I continued to volunteer doing video for the organization, as well as take on small projects of my own. I mainly shot weddings, but I did the odd family event, music video, and corporate gig”. Klassen was shooting standard definition on prosumer and professional cameras, with just a camera, a tape and a tripod.
“It did the job, but the imagery was not flattering at all, and it was pretty much boring. There wasn’t a lot of area for me to invest in equipment because of my age, and lack of finances so I couldn’t go out and purchase things like 35mm adapters and high definition cameras to expand my horizons. ”
His break came when some of Klassen’s friends who did photography, showed him their camera – a Canon 5DMK2. Mark was smitten.
“I picked up a 5D and shot a promotional piece for a local photographer. I had no idea what I was doing with the camera, as it was the first time I had ever touched a 5D, but the video that came out of the camera was stunning, and easily blew away some of the cameras I used previously. ”
The school video was produced differently to some of Klassen’s other projects.
“I usually spend more time in the planning and scripting stages but this time, the only planning I was required to do was story boarding and gathering the equipment. ”
“I find that when I’m involved less in the scripting and other parts of planning like scheduling and budgeting it can take away from your vision and how you want to portray your piece because you start focusing more on the things like locations, talent, and time and you suddenly have less capacity to carry out your vision making it difficult to get that to come to life. ”
Mark was acting as both director and director of photography (DP). This was a perfect mix for Klassen, as it was a small production. The students shot throughout the day, starting in the morning and ending late in the afternoon.
“It was a surprisingly quick shoot, and I think the planning I did do, as well as Eric and Evan’s planning helped make things run extremely smoothly.”
The group used mostly natural light, not only because of the short turnaround time, but also due to the high ISO of the video dslr they were using, there really wasn’t any need to hire expensive lighting.
“We also used tripods, a boom, and a monopod. Some of the unique tools we were privileged to use were created by my friends at Cinevate Inc.. We were able to use the Pegasus Heavy Lifter to add motion and more life to some of the shots as well as a shoulder-mount rig that easily converted into a rig (minus the shoulder pad) that allowed me to use their Durus Follow Focus with a selection of my favourite Canon lenses. I prefer to shoot with primes, but still resort to telephoto lenses at times”
When the team hit post production, they started off with the Canon 5D MK2 workflow that Klassen had known for months. Dropping all the footage into Final Cut Pro, Klassen converted the files into ProRes LT clips, with a frame rate conversion to 29.97fps. After allowing that to convert overnight, he began the process of rough cutting each scene and slowly putting together sequences of shots to create the story.
“I do most of my work in Final Cut Studio, so once the video was done, I threw the audio into Soundtrack and mixed everything together from the voiceovers to the added foley and music.”
“Once that was done, I began to color correct with the basic filters available in Final Cut as well as Tiffen’s DFX software to correct and grade the shots the way I envisioned.”
With a completed final edit uploaded to YouTube, Mark and his class could only sit and wait to find out whether they had won the grant for their class.
When asked whether he had learn anything new producing the high school video, Mark demonstrates that he is always learning.
“Yes! Never use the mic input on cameras with auto gain control. It’s also a good idea to have someone around to do more of a producer role regardless of the size of shoot because they can manage time, something I’m not the best at!”
So what’s next for Mark? Probably owing to his ability and willingness to learn more about the craft of producing exceptional HD video, he was snapped up this past July by video dslr based StillMotion.
“Working with StillMotion I’ve had the opportunity of expanding my knowledge and learning at an award winning international cinematography company. I’ve been traveling around North America shooting weddings I had never dreamed of shooting and meeting awesome couples as well as shooting corporate and commercial work.”
Klassen has been keen on developing his filmmaking skills and in February of next year, he’ll be back at school after a full semester co-op with StillMotion.
“My goal is to complete high school and then attend a film school somewhere in the US, maybe in Florida or California, as long as its warm all year round. As for now, I’m continuing to work hard, do what I love, meet awesome people, and learn as much as I can.”
Mark is currently planning and working on developing a new video production business, doing what we loves. “I’m excited for this year, I’ve met so many awesome people, and I’m excited to do a lot of my own projects, as well as collaborate with a bunch of people in the industry.”