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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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

panasonic_leica_10-25mm_f1.7_zoom_00314329_1920px_80pc
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

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

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

polarpro_variablend_01_1024px
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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  • 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….

NRR2018160585_00-thumb-1500x790-5556776
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

PhotoJoseph: LUMIX S1 & S1R Battery Grip BGS1

“The LUMIX S Series S1 and S1R have an optional battery grip, the BGS1. This is a tour and explanation of how to use it and what it can do!…”

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.

Panasonic accessories for Panasonic Lumix S-Series cameras

Commentary

Panasonic’s accessories for its new S-Series 35mm sensor cameras received little attention during the two public launch events I attended earlier this year, yet they and especially the DMW-BGS1 Vertical Battery Grip displayed the same carefully attention to detail and keen listening to professional users’ lengthy lists of features requests as the Panasonic Lumix DC-S1 and DC-S1R cameras themselves.

Since buying into Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds system with the Lumix with the Lumix DMC-GH4 some years ago, I have considered vertical battery grips essential items to be bought with any new camera, if the manufacturer has thought to provide one, and this applies to the DMW-BGS1 Vertical Battery Grip as well as several other S-Series accessories.

I am especially impressed by the fact that Panasonic has included the Panasonic DMW-EC6 Eyecup in the list of accessories for the S1 and S1R.

I have had to rely on third-party rubber eyecups made by JJC and Guerrilla for Fujifilm X and Panasonic G cameras, except for my Lumix GX8 where an optional long eyecup was made available by Panasonic, due to wearing eyeglasses and needing to block out laser beam sunlight or harsh indoor lighting.

Both these accessories will come in handy when using both cameras for video, portrait and documentary photography.

I had a chance to try out the vertical battery grip on a Lumix S1R with 50mm f/1.4 lens and it made the camera much easier to use when shooting vertical/portrait orientation with the camera’s very welcome 3:4 aspect ratio, perfectly matched to the average single magazine page.

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Fringer: Fringer EF-FX Pro II is released

https://www.fringeradapter.com/blog/fringer-ef-fx-pro-ii-is-released

fringer_ef-x_pro_ii_01_1024px
Fringer EF-FX Pro II adapter for mounting Canon EF-Mount lenses on Fujifilm X-Mount cameras.

Main improvements of the 2nd generation of EF-FX Pro include

– Redesigned aperture ring for more convenient operation

– New MCU (more powerful, more resources for firmware update)

– Better light absorbing design

The functions and performance of gen1 and gen2 are the same….

Fringer EF-FX Pro II lens adapter for mounting Canon EF-mount lenses on Fujifilm X-mount cameras

Commentary

sigma_18-35mm_f1.8_dc_hsm_a_02_1024px
Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art zoom lens for APS-C sensors and for adapting to M43 with Metabones SpeedBoosters, lens available in Canon EF or Nikon mounts.

Gaps still remain in Fujifilm’s native X-mount lens collection for the company’s APS-C sensor format cameras such as the X-T3, X-H1, X-T30, X-Pro2 and the rest so some cinematographers, wishing to take advantage of Fujifilm’s recently upgraded video capabilities, have been exploring adapting third party lenses like Sigma’s 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art zoom lens.

With Smart Adapter and Speed Booster stalwart Metabones missing in action when it comes to adapting Canon EF-mount lenses popular with moviemakers, space was created for formerly unknown adapter makers like Fringer to enter the fray with its Fringer EF-FX and Fringer EF-FX Pro smart adapters.

If I were contemplating doing the same as several cinematographers of my acquaintance, I would choose the Pro version given its built-in aperture ring and better yet, Fringer’s EF-FX Pro II with its much-needed hardware and firmware improvements.

I have just one Canon EF-mount lens remaining in my collection, a Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM kit zoom lens suffering from the far-too-common detached internal ribbon connector problem that renders it completely unusable so have been treading water on an EF-to-X-mount adapter until I can afford Canon’s over-priced repair bill for this problematic though popular lens.

I have been considering investing in a Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 zoom lens but was not quite convinced by Fringer’s EF-FX Pro version 1 adapter.

canon_ef_24-105mm_f4.0_l_is_usm_01_1024px
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4.0 L USM zoom lens, prone to the all-too-common aperture control ribbon cable failure that can apparently cost a small fortune to have fixed in Australia. Bundled as a kit zoom lens with some Canon DSLRs and popular amongst videographers despite not having the most amazing optical or mechanical qualities.

The imminent release of the Fringer EF-FX Pro II may well tip the balance.

A Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 with smart adapter would give me access to one of the documentary photographer’s and photojournalist’s most-needed focal lengths, 18mm in APS-C which is equivalent to 28mm in the 35mm sensor format, as well as one of the most useful focal length ranges for documentary moviemaking.

On the other hand, Fujifilm’s Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 R LM OIS has its uses for stills and video and adds optical image stabilization to both, a benefit I do not have on any of my current Fujifilm lenses.

And then there is the coming Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS zoom lens, to be released sometime late this year according to rumours, with its highly useful additions to the wide and long ends of the scale.

Time to do some number crunching and crystal ball gazing, methinks, and hope for the best.

Native glass often proves to be the best solution given third-party adapters can have their downsides.

The upside of EF-mount lenses adapted for use on APS-C and Micro Four Thirds cameras such as those made by Fujifilm, Panasonic and Blackmagic Design is that they can be pressed into maximum service and prove their value in a wide range of applications.

Imagine a Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art, or a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM zoom lens for that matter, really proving its value for shooting Blackmagic Raw cinematic video on a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K, Super 16 HLG video on Panasonic’s MFT cameras, Super 35 HLG video on the Fujifilm X-T3, and documentary stills and portrait photography in a number of different sensor formats.

As a self-funded independent documentary photographer and video-maker, obtaining maximum value from minimum expenditure is a constant battle especially in this economic climate when the Australian banks are all-too-ready to screw-over regular folks like us, wrecking our plans and financially throwing us to the wolves, hence all this rumination over how to get the most out of my gear while spending as little as possible to add extra functionality.

Focal lengths longer than 85mm in equivalence would come in handy right now for portraiture on my Fujifilm APS-C cameras, as would a stabilized zoom lens with equivalent focal lengths from 36mm through to 157.5mm for handheld Super 35 video.

I could do with something similar for my M43 cameras, providing equivalent focal lengths of 48mm through to 210mm for portraiture and video as well as macro product photography.

Add a Metabones Speed Booster to my current Metabones Smart Adapter and even more focal lengths would become available on those cameras as well as a Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K, the cheapest option now available for cinematic raw video.

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