Are These Custom-Made Aaton-Inspired Wooden Trigger Grips for Movie Cameras the Best That Money Can Buy?

Every so often I wonder if I should invest in more substantial rigging and especially grips for my hybrid cameras instead of playing it close to the bone with minimalist, stripped-down cages.

I take a look at the grips currently made by cage and accessories makers, shrug my shoulders, and tell myself “Well, maybe later,… sometime.”

And then I came across Ruben de Boer of Element, a one-man enterprise making beautiful-looking wooden grips with or without buttons and cables to suit a range of contemporary cameras and, had I the funds, would have placed an order immediately. 

Some other companies do make wooden grips in a similar shape but all appear to have been inspired by one of the most revolutionary, most inspirational range of movie cameras ever, those designed and made by the late Jean-Pierre Beauviala of Aaton.

M. Baueviala’s cameras were intended to feel as if they were a cat reclining on one’s shoulder, silent in operation and as ergonomically sound as possible.

I never used an Aaton but watched one in use while working as a production assistant on some feature films when very young.

Aaton film and digital cinema cameras with wooden grips

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Adobe: What’s new in Camera Raw: Adobe Camera Raw 11.3 | May 2019

https://helpx.adobe.com/camera-raw/using/whats-new.html

“The May 2019 release of Adobe Camera Raw (version 11.3) rolls out a new feature – Texture slider, adds support for new cameras and lenses, and fixes issues.”

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Philip Ruddock, Mayor of Hornsby, surveys photographs by local artist Nathalie Hartog Gauthier during opening of her photography exhibition at Wallarobba Arts and Cultural Centre, Hornsby, 4th May 2019. Before applying Texture, the fabric of the Mayor’s jacket was less clear than it is here and the details of each framed image less distinct. I could have applied Clarify or Sharpen for a not dissimilar effect, but Texture works without adding the artefacts that the other two options often carry with them.
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Texture effect applied at 100 to casual portrait shot with Panasonic Lumix DC-S1R camera and Panasonic Lumix S Pro 50mm f/1.4 prime lens wide open. Raw file processed in Adobe Camera Raw 11.3 followed by Alien Skin Exposure X4 with Copper preset to emulate the chemical copper toning I sometimes applied to prints for magazine reproduction during my magazine editorial portrait photographer days. Using Texture is as if I had stopped the lens’ aperture down one or more stops, now focussing on more than just one of the subject’s eyes. My interest in the Panasonic Lumix S1R is primarily as a portrait camera for producing really big prints to gallery standard, and Texture may well further enhance the possible sense of looking into the subject’s actual eyes when standing face-to-face with a big blow-up of the photograph.
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Same raw file but with both Enhance and Texture applied, then blue and copper split-toning applied in Alien Skin Exposure X4 to resemble another way I often chemically toned ultra-close-up portraits for magazine editorial clients. This look strongly reminds me of shooting full-face close-up portraits on my 4″x5″ sheet film cameras using Polaroid Type 55 positive/negative film.

Commentary

Just for fun and to see how far one can go with this approach, I added a Polaroid Type 55 film simulation and frame and am sharing the image here at 100% uncropped, making for a 6.3 MB 60% quality JPEG file. Best downloaded and viewed at 100%. 

Adobe has updated its Adobe Camera Raw engine plug-in for Photoshop and Lightroom to version 11.3 with a brand new feature, Texture.

Until now many photographers needing a little extra detail from their raw files have chosen to sharpen or add clarity via ACR but now they may wish to explore the creative possibilities of the Texture slider.

Like sharpening and clarity, the texture feature can be used in a negative or positive manner, applied overall or in selected areas of the image.

I have applied texture to both the images above, at a setting of +50 to the top image and at +100 to the lower image, and I can see its expressive capabilities already.

Intriguing!

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DPReview: CP+ 2019 Panasonic interview: ‘We’re proud of our cameraness’

https://www.dpreview.com/interviews/0078977575/cp-2019-panasonic-interview-we-re-proud-of-our-cameraness

“The CP+ 2019 trade show in Yokohama, Japan, gave us the chance to speak to most of the major camera makers. Panasonic put forward an extensive team to discuss the company’s move into the full-frame market….

… it’s clear that Panasonic wants its S1 and S1R to appeal specifically to professional stills photographers. When it comes to video, the company’s plans seem less well-developed. For now, at least, it seems that Panasonic sees the GH series as its main video/stills camera platform.”

Commentary

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Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 wide angle zoom lens for Micro Four Thirds cameras. This is the very first zoom lens by any maker that provides the most necessary focal lengths for documentary photography and video, and it doubtless will feel right at home on a Lumix GH5, GH5S, G9 and the coming GH6 as well as the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K.

If by “cameraness” Panasonic means that one can pick up a Lumix S1 or S1R, feel at ease with it and start shooting good photographs or movie footage right away, then I agree with the company’s use of that word.

Here is an event where I tried out the S1 and here is the other event where I tried out an S1R, both times shooting decent photographs almost immediately after the most cursory inspection of the cameras’ controls.

Of course, that ease of use is based partly on my years-long familiarity with Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds Lumix cameras and partly on Panasonic’s even longer history of constantly improving its cameras and lenses all by itself and in collaboration with Leica Camera AG.

Cameras and lenses by both companies share DNA and it was inevitable, in retrospect, that their long partnership would deepen into the L-Mount Alliance, pleasantly drawing lens maker Sigma in to the equation along with its wide range of top-class prime and zoom lenses for cinematography and photography.

When Panasonic staff members asked me for my first impressions of the S1 and S1R at a couple of touch-and-try events in Sydney earlier this year, my first thought was that both would be very usable cameras if I were still working in magazine editorial portrait and documentary photography where 35mm sensors are king.

That is no mean achievement for the first version of any new product range, and I look forward to seeing how Panasonic’s current S-Series cameras and their successors develop.

If I need to get back into 35mm sensor photography and video, I know where to go.

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DPReview: Fujifilm XF 8-16mm F2.8 WR LM Review (video)

There’s no doubt that the Fujifilm XF 8-16mm F2.8 is a beautifully built lens. It’s also quite heavy, and at £1750 / $1900 it’s a pretty serious investment. Is the expense worth it? Chris and Jordan take to the hiking trails of Alberta to answer that question….

Commentary

Fujifilm’s Fujinon XF 8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR ultra wide-angle zoom lens is beautifully built and delivers beautiful results, but it may not be the best solution for everyone needing ultra-wide focal lengths.

Its size and weight demand mounting it on a vertical battery-equipped Fujifilm X-T3 at the very least with the now-discounted Fujifilm X-H1 providing better balance than the slightly smaller and lighter X-T3.

If the X-H1’s OIS-equipped replacement, the X-H2, is in Fujifilm’s production pipeline then it may be wiser to wait for that to appear sometime late this year or more likely early next if the Fujinon XF 8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR is an important lens in your gear kit.

My experience with the XF 8-16mm f/2.8 proves it to be an excellent solution for architectural photography where street furniture, trees and other buildings dictate using the widest focal lengths to get closer to your main subject and bypass non-removable visual noise.

I have used it successfully for documentary photography in the middle of dense crowds, though there were times I would have preferred the lens had optical image stabilization built-in for when the light dropped and slow shutter speeds were necessary to support deep focus via smaller apertures.

In bright sunlight, photographing landscapes was a pleasure and the lens lapped up fine detail but its lack of provision for attaching screw-on filters meant I was unable to try it out as a video lens and I am not in the market for large, heavy and expensive third-party filter adapters or even larger and costlier matte boxes.

If you need an ultra-wideangle for documentary photography and video then I highly recommend the Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R which is small and light enough for use with an ungripped X-T3 and would work well on an X-Pro2 with a Fujifilm VF-X21 external optical viewfinder sitting on its hotshoe.

If a range of wide-angle focal lengths is necessary as well as portability and stabilization then I recommend the Fujinon XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS lens especially it is stopped down below f/5.6 and preferably f/8.0, and this lens will not eat into your savings anywhere near as much as the otherwise excellent Fujinon XF 8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR.

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  • FUJIFILM VF-X21 External Optical ViewfinderB&H
  • FUJIFILM X-H1 Mirrorless Digital Camera Body with Battery Grip KitB&H
  • FUJIFILM X-T3 Mirrorless Digital CameraB&H
  • FUJIFILM VG-XT3 Vertical Battery GripB&H
  • FUJIFILM XF 8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR LensB&H
  • FUJIFILM XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS LensB&H
  • FUJIFILM XF 14mm f/2.8 R LensB&H

PBS: American Masters: Garry Winogrand: All Things are Photographable (video – regional restrictions apply)

https://www.pbs.org/video/garry-winogrand-all-things-are-photographable-tdq83s/

“Discover the life and work of Garry Winogrand, the epic storyteller in pictures who harnessed the serendipity of the streets to capture the American 1960s-70s. His “snapshot aesthetic” is now the universal language of contemporary image-making. …”

Leica Q (Typ 116) digital camera with 24.2 megapixel 35mm sensor and Leica Summilux 28mm f/1.7 Aspheric lens, perfectly suited to the snapshot aesthetic.

Commentary

American documentary photographer Garry Winogrand was called “the central photographer of his generation” by photography curator, historian, and critic John Szarkowski and this documentary movie  provides some insights into how and why he earned that accolade.

Winogrand was a key member of the generation that established the snapshot aesthetic as applied to photography in public as a genre in its own right, alongside Joel Meyerowitz, Lee Friedlander, Tony Ray-Jones and others, all relying on Leica M-Series rangefinder cameras and often the 28mm focal length.

Now that street photography has become even more established as a genre and in some manifestations as a cult, practitioners would do well to study its beginnings at the hands of artists like Winogrand and his colleagues back in the 1960s and 1970s, starting with Garry Winogrand: All Things are Photographable.

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DxOMark: Panasonic Lumix DC-S1R sensor review

https://www.dxomark.com/panasonic-lumix-s1r-sensor-review/

Panasonic has chosen a new high-resolution 47.3MP CMOS sensor for the Lumix DC-S1R—one that challenges the class-leading sensors in the Sony A7R III and the Nikon Z 7. Intriguingly, it combines attributes of both of its rivals (with some nuances) and achieves near-identical performance results overall.

With its combination of high pixel count, low noise, and exceptional color sensitivity, the Lumix DC-S1R is likely to appeal to the most demanding studio photographers….

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Panasonic Lumix DC-S1R with Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm f/4.0 zoom lens.

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  • Panasonic Lumix DC-S1 and DC-S1R cameras, lenses and accessoriesB&H

David Thorpe: Panasonic’s Lumix S1 and G9 Digital Double Act

“The S1 and the G9 Panasonics are a truly unique digital double act. How do the Full Frame S1 and Micro Four Thirds G9 stand up against one another? Is bigger better? Or is nimbler nicer?”

Commentary

Top video reviewer David Thorpe always cuts to the heart of the matter when it comes to mirrorless digital cameras and lenses, a trait no doubt formed by decades in the trenches as a Fleet Street photographer.

In this video review comparing Panasonic’s Lumix DC-G9 Micro Four Thirds mirrorless camera with the recently-released Lumix DC-S1 35mm sensor mirrorless camera, Mr Thorpe opts to continue daily carrying his G9 but appreciates the differences and similarities in both.

Links

  • David ThorpeJohnny and Max – review
  • David Thorpe – Panasonic’s Lumix S1 and G9 Digital Double Act – video
  • ePHOTOzine – Panasonic Lumix S1 Full-Frame Camera Review By David Thorpe – video with gallery of sample photographs

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  • Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera B&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-S1 Mirrorless Digital CameraB&H

Do Not Bend: The Photographic Life of Bill Jay [video]

“”The fate of photography in this country is at stake. And that is more important than my opinions, or your opinions of me.” Bill Jay – Creative Camera 1969….”

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The New York Times: The First Female Photographers Brought a New Vision to The New York Times [paywall]

“As revolutions go, this one got off to a quiet and unassuming start in the early 1970s. It was achieved slowly, one female photographer at a time, each hired by The New York Times for her talent with a camera and her desire to practice the best journalism possible.

The men who hired the first of those women quite likely weren’t thinking about altering the prevailing concepts of photojournalism. But over time, as more women were hired and gained acceptance, they began to push successfully for publication of images that were different, for the truths they saw in people and events, for assignments that had once been denied them and for assignments that had not been envisioned before….”

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