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

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….

panasonic_lumix_s1r_02_1024px
Panasonic Lumix DC-S1R with Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm f/4.0 zoom lens.

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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

Photoism by Mastin Labs: Which Film or Preset Should I Use? A Guide by Mastin Labs.

https://www.mastinlabs.com/photoism/articles/which-film-or-preset-should-i-use-a-guide-by-mastin-labs

Mastin Labs’ Kodak Everyday Original is now available for Capture One Pro. Will Mastin Labs’ other film simulation preset packs also be migrated over to Capture One Pro, one of the most popular top-quality raw image processing applications?

“Film is a 127-year-old medium with many contributors throughout its history. Unlike digital capture, film stocks were not made to accurately reflect reality, but to offer different aesthetic choices to the photographer.

Factors such as the culture where the film company was located and who was available at the time as test subjects greatly determined the characteristics of each film stock. This is one of the reasons that Kodak films render colors differently compared to Fuji films (for example.)…

PLEASE NOTE: Any film can technically be used for any subject or lighting condition, but if you pair the right film with the right subject, you’ll get ideal results….”

Commentary

I follow either of two essentially different paths when processing my raw stills photography files, based on available time and emotional effect.

If time is of the essence and I must quickly process a collection of selects from a project, in effect a set of proofs ready for client viewing or social media, then I always choose to apply film simulation aka emulation presets through software like DxO PhotoLab and its siblings DxO FilmPack and DxO ViewPoint, Alien Skin Exposure X4, Capture One Pro equipped with film styles from 1style.pro, or several other such options including film emulation look-up tables aka LUTs.

My choice of host application and film emulations depends on what films are available which combination and it can vary a great deal.

If there is plenty of time for slower, more thoughtful processing and experimentation with a range of possible looks, then I will spend some time in products like Skylum’s Luminar and Aurora Pro exploring their many highly original, unconventional filters and controls to follow in entirely new image processing directions.

Most of the time, though, time is of the essence and I would rather be creating new images rather than editing older ones.

Capture One Pro is one of the two raw processing applications I am most likely to turn to when time is limited, beside DxO PhotoLab and its plug-ins, and it is good to see film simulation presets specialist Mastin Labs supporting it now.

Kirk Mastin’s presets are rather pricey compared to others, but I have read nothing but praise for them from photographers working digitally as well as in analog photography.

I have yet to try Mastin Labs’ first collection for Capture One Pro, Kodak Everyday Original consisting of presets based on Kodak Ektar 100, Kodak Gold 200 and Kodak Tri-X 400 as well as tone profiles, custom white balance settings, and 35mm and 120 roll film grain simulations.

The analog films upon which this set is based are not necessarily my first choice though I shot Tri-X film in 35mm, 120 and sheet film formats for many years during my magazine editorial photography and corporate photography careers.

The Mastin Labs presets I am more likely to want to use these days are included in their other collections – Fujicolor Original, Fujicolor Pushed, Ilford Original, Portra Original and Portra Pushed – so I hope that we will see these collections released for Capture One Pro in future.

Meanwhile, there are other ways of achieving acceptable analog film simulation or something similar in a number of host applications including Capture One Pro itself, and the list of links below points to some of them.

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  • Phase One Capture One Pro B&H

The Beat: NAB 2019: PolarPro’s New Peter McKinnon Variable ND Filter

NAB 2019: Polar Pro’s New Peter McKinnon Variable ND Filter

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PolarPro Variable Neutral Density Filter, Peter McKinnon Edition.

“Polar Pro is slowly becoming one of my favorite companies. As with Aputure and Blackmagic Design, it seems they’re doing this crazy thing where they listen to their customers and make products that actually help people. So, that being said, the new “Peter McKinnon” branded filters are, quite frankly, super dope….

The filter is a fused, quartz glass, variable ND filter with apparently the lowest refractive index currently available….

The stop indicators are pretty rad, and they can really help you get the shot you want — perfectly exposed and consistent (as all things should be)….”

Specifications

  • Available in 2-5 and 6-9 stop variations.
  • Preset stop range eliminates any chance of cross polarization.
  • Zero vignetting down to 16mm focal length lenses.
  • Pure Fused Quartz ensures superior optical clarity over any glass on the market.
  • Includes a DefenderSlim cover for fingerprint-free installation.

PolarPro Variable ND Filter, Peter McKinnon Edition

Commentary

Variable neutral density filters aka VNDs are a mainstay of independent documentary movie production and the best are anything but cheap.

Given that one or two VNDs can replace five or more fixed density value neutral density filters, prices of the best VNDs compare well with those of sets of fixed NDs, so sticker price shock should not be a consideration if one is going for the best and most versatile production kit, one that will last for years through thick and thin.

PolarPro’s QuartzLine range of UV filters, fixed density ND filters and Circular Polarizers has been quietly satisfying the needs of drone operators, photographers and videographers with its brass traction-framed filters, and the company recently came to my attention with advance mention of a new concept in VND filters.

That new type of VND was shown off at NAB 2019, was covered by The Beat, and has been selling like crazy direct from the PolarPro online store.

I have never had the pleasure of using or seeing any PolarPro products in real life, but from what I have read they are outstanding.

I have been researching possible replacements for my ageing VND, a Genustech 77mm Eclipse ND Fader that was the most-recommended when I got back into moviemaking, and have decided to standardize on 82mm filters with step-up rings to help minimize vignetting when using them on wide lenses.

I began replacing my aluminium step-up rings with the excellent knurled brass traction frame step-up rings made by Breakthrough Photography a while ago, and have some Breakthrough Photography fixed ND, UV and CPL filters with which I am well pleased.

I discovered that brass filter frames are far less prone to binding than aluminium ones, and that knurled frames are better than non-knurled, the more knurling the better.

It was a little disappointing to learn that PolarPro’s Peter McKinnon Variable ND Filter comes with aluminium frames rather than brass ones but I am hoping for the best with their performance in the field and am waiting for reviews by well-qualified professional users to appear.

I am impressed that PolarPro has chosen to issue its VND in two densities, 2-5 and 6-9 stops, a wise move given the high base ISOs of many contemporary hybrid cameras.

Aurora-Aperture followed a similar path with its 1-7 and 4-11 VND pair while SLR Magic took another path again with its SLR Magic 82mm Self-Locking VND 0.4-1.8 plus 86mm Solid Neutral Density 1.2 Image Enhance Filter Kit providing a range of 1.3 to 10 stops with both filters combined.

The question now is going to be which pro-quality VND brand to opt for – PolarPro, Aurora-Aperture or SLR Magic?

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  • Aurora-Aperture FiltersB&H
  • Breakthrough Photography Filters and accessories – B&H
  • PolarPro QuartzLine Filters B&H
  • SLR Magic Neutral Density FiltersB&H

Panasonic: Lumix AF Guidebook [PDF guidebooks for Lumix S1/S1R and GH5/GH5S/G9 cameras on getting the best out of autofocus]

https://www.panasonic.com/global/consumer/lumix/technologies/af.html

panasonic_lumix_dc-s1_08_1024px
Panasonic Lumix DC-S1 with Panasonic DMW-BGS1 Vertical Battery Grip and  Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm f/4 Macro OIS lens.

LUMIX uses advanced technology to achieve high-speed, high-precision auto focusing. This guidebook allows you to utilize this auto focusing effectively at a higher level….

The LUMIX features an AF Custom Setting function that lets you finely adjust the directivity of the AF in response to the subject and situation. Here, we present the recommended settings and hints when making the setting….

External levers, buttons, and a Joystick Controller enable intuitive operation while using the finder. Users who are familiar with touch operation can seamlessly change the size of the AF area and shoot the subject by simply pressing the shutter of the touch monitor. Here we present more convenient auto focus settings designed for maximum operating ease….

Introducing original Panasonic technology for achieving high-speed, high-precision auto focusing….

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Lumix G9 Pro, Lumix GH5 and Lumix GH5S at Pa`nasonic Japan’s website. Where is the professional successor to the pro flagship rangefinder-stye GX8?

Commentary

With a number of pundits asking whether Panasonic has got it right yet with the company’s unique approach to autofocusing, it is timely to look deeper into the autofocus capabilities of Panasonic’s new S-Series 35mm sensor Lumix cameras and its established Micro Four Thirds sensor-equipped Lumix GH5, GH5S and G9 cameras.

It is reasonable to assume that Panasonic is currently working on its M43 cameras’ successors, and I would love to see the company produce a GH6 that combines the best of all three of them for stills photography and video, with the very best autofocusing that technology can offer.

Although I would love it if all manufacturers made lenses equally adept for use with manual focusing and autofocusing, equipped with the hard stops and manual clutch focus that have proven so effective on some Fujifilm X-mount and Olympus M.Zuiko Pro lenses, the fact is that autofocus will always play a part in using almost all lenses made nowadays.

Even back button focus in manual mode relies on good autofocusing capabilities on the cameras on which it features, so their autofocus needs to be the best possible.

If autofocus on Panasonic’s current camera generation remains lacking then best to study how it can be tailored to obtain result close to what you need rather than waiting for DSLR-quality autofocus in a future generation.

I was impressed by the Human Body Detection and Face/Eye Detection features of the Lumix S1 and S1R when I briefly tried them out at two public events in Sydney, so I hope that Panasonic will continue to improve the cameras’ autofocus via firmware updates, and radically improve autofocus in it coming generations to the point where it matches if not surpasses that of the best current DSLRs.

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