Paul Leeming of Leeming LUT One Presenting at Getting to Grips with Lenses Event in High Wycombe, Bucks on Saturday 21st April 2018

https://mailchi.mp/9dfd2da97b22/gtc-workshop-getting-to-grips-with-lenses?e=a9ac9ddccc

“This interactive workshop will explore the world of video & motion picture lenses, from the perspective of camera operators, cinematographers and filmmakers. We will look at the current state of the industry, with opportunities to get hands-on with the most popular current zoom and prime lenses. We will also discuss anamorphic lenses, lens adaptors, budget cine zooms, and how continual increases in sensor resolution are affecting the lens market….

… Paul Leeming: DoP In conjunction with Formatt-Hitech, Paul will show how modern filters can work best with the new breeds of zoom and prime lenses….”

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Australian director/cinematographer Paul Leeming of Leeming LUT One fame with his Panasonic Lumix GH4 rigged for shooting feature films.

Links

STC Optical & Chemical: Screw-In Lens Adapter for Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro Lens

http://shop.stcoptics.com/product/screwinlens/

“This adapter is made by STC with precise CNC machinery, designed for Olympus M.ZUIKO 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro Lens to utilize UV, CPL or ND filters while providing increased protection to the front lens element. The lens adapter includes two parts assembled to fit a 105mm screw-in filter.

It is delicately made by aluminum and sandblasting the adapter surface of interior side to reduce significantly reflection and flare. The tenon design can fully integrate with the tulip lens hood without vignetting. STC ultra slim UV, CPL and ND 105mm filter opens up opportunities for photographers to create more vivid, expressive and evocative images….”

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  • Formatt Hitech 165mm Firecrest Elia Locardi Signature Edition Travel Filter Kit for Olympus 7-14mm f/4 LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO LensB&H
  • Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4 ASPH. LensB&H

Formatt Hitech Releases Firecrest Ultra, the Ultimate Colour-Neutral IR-Cutting Neutral Density Filters for Stills and Video?

British-based filter maker Formatt Hitech has released what may be the ultimate collection of circular, square and rectangular neutral density filters for cinematographers and photographers, Firecrest Ultra ND Filters.

The Firecrest Ultra collection is, according to Formatt Hitech, “the pinnacle of photographic filter technology” due to their perfect flatness, colour neutrality, clarity, sharpness and extreme effectiveness at cutting infra-red light pollution. 

The Firecrest Ultra Patrick Di Fruscia Signature Edition Pro Essentials Kit, one of several current kits aimed at photographers. Will Formatt-Hitech be adding kits for cinematographers?

Infra-red pollution of video colour rendering has proven to be a persistent problem in recent years, with long established, popular brands and professional filter product collections failing to cut IR passing through their filters and hitting sensors to the detriment of accurate colour rendering.

According to Formatt Hitech, “we have had photographers do exposures of over 10 minutes with no IR pollution at all” so one hopes that cinematographers trying out the new Firecrest Ultra filters will experience the same benefits.

Firecrest Ultra Kits for Photographers

Format Hitech has released the Firecrest Ultra collection in a range of sizes as aluminium-mounted circular, square and rectangular ND and graduated filters as well as six sets of kits specified by five well respected landscape and travel photographers.

These photographers include Colby Brown, Elia Locardi, Joel TjintelaarKen Kaminesky and Patrick Di Fruscia.

As landscape and travel photography are not my thing, I asked cinematographer/director Paul Leeming of Leeming LUT One fame for his advice on the best Firecrest Ultra kits for cinematography.

Our Firecrest Ultra Filter Kit Recommendations

  • Base kit for 400 ISO cameras like the Panasonic Lumix GH5 – 82mm diameter circular filters in ND 0.6, 1.2, 1.8, 2.4 (2, 4, 6 and 8 f-stops reductions).
  • Extended Kit for 1600 ISO cameras like the Sony A7S II – 82mm diameter circular filters in ND 0.6, 1.2, 1.5, 1.8, 2.1, 2.4, 2.7 (2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 f-stops reductions).
  • Complete Kit for Feature Film Cinematography – 4×5.65″ filters in every stop.

The Xume Filter Adapter System

Paul Leeming uses and recommends the Xume magnetic circular filter adapter system for easy, fast and safe on-location filter swapping. The Xume system was created by XumeAdapters.com, now defunct, then sold to Manfrotto.

Of all the brands of aluminium and brass step-up rings I have tried, those made by Breakthrough Photography have proven to be the best and are unique in their top quality machining and easy-handling traction frame.

You will need to purchase enough Xume adapters, holders and caps for all of your video production lenses and filters, more items than are contained in the Xume Pro Kits, to get the best out of the system.

Standardize on 82mm or 77mm filters, place step-up rings on all your lenses, then attach adapters to each step-up ring.

I recommend brass rather than aluminium step-up rings to avoid binding and use brass step-up rings made by Breakthrough Photography, Heliopan or Sensei especially if they are knurled for better traction.

The Variable ND and Other Alternatives

I have been aware of colour, sharpness and other problems with some of the most highly recommended ND filter sets for some time and have held off investing in a base kit for my Panasonic cameras until something better comes along.

Working in the documentary genres, the time required to carefully white balance off colour checkers or cards is not always there.

Breakthrough Photography’s brass traction frames are a boon for those of us with damaged hands and fingers and are safer to handle in the field than smooth or slightly knurled aluminium frames.

Screw-on, screw-off filter swapping in the field can be dangerous especially with the smooth-sided filters that were standard before Breakthrough Photography came out with its innovative traction frame.

I have some Breakthrough Photography ND filters and they have proven outstanding insofar as colour neutrality and sharpness go, but enquiries about their degree of protection against IR pollution remain unanswered.

There is this statement, however, on the Breakthrough Photography X4 ND product page:

… the X4 ND maintains a very well controlled and flat transmission all the way throughout the visible spectrum and into IR.

In contrast to our GH5 base kit recommendation, Breakthrough Photography’s X4 circular neutral density filters come in 3, 6, 10 and 15 stop reduction values or, under the ND.number naming convention, ND 0.9, 1.8 and 3.0 with the last value between ND 4.0 and ND 5.0.

I’ll stick with f-stop reduction values and forego the arcane ND1number, ND.number and NDnumber naming conventions so 3, 6, 10 and 15 stops it is.

Breakthrough Photography’s Dark CPL & X4 GND Kickstarter campaign earlier this year saw the addition of 100mm and 150mm X4 Square filters: “X4 ND Square is available in 1-stop through 10-stop densities, as well as 15-stop.”

A Stopgap Solution for Documentary Cinematographers?

My stopgap solution in the absence of a full set of fixed ND filters was to rely on the most heavily recommended variable ND filter of the time, the Genustech Eclipse ND Fader with its 2-8 stops reduction range.

Nowadays the most recommended variable NF filters appears to be the 1.3-6 stop reducing SLR Magic Self-Locking Variable Neutral Density filter.

SLR Magic recently announced its 1.2 IEND filter for stacking on fixed or variable ND filters to bump exposure reduction up to 10 stops along with added IR colour control, so purchasing this in combination with SLR Magic’s variable ND filter may be a wise investment for documentary moviemakers always on the move.

Links

Help support ‘Untitled’

Clicking on these affiliate links helps us continue our work for ‘Untitled: Stories of Creativity, Innovation, Success’.

  • Breakthrough Photography X4 Solid Neutral Density FiltersB&H
  • Formatt Hitech Firecrest Colby Brown 100mm Signature Edition Premier Landscape Filter Kit with 100mm Firecrest Filter HolderB&H
  • Formatt Hitech Firecrest Elia Locardi 100mm Signature Edition Travel Kit with 100mm Firecrest Filter HolderB&H
  • Formatt Hitech Firecrest Joel Tjintjelaar 100mm Signature Edition Long Exposure Kit #1 with 100mm Firecrest Filter HolderB&H
  • Formatt Hitech Firecrest Joel Tjintjelaar 100mm Signature Edition Long Exposure Kit #2 with 100mm Firecrest Filter HolderB&H
  • Formatt Hitech Firecrest Ken Kaminesky 100mm Signature Edition Master Kit with 100mm Firecrest Filter HolderB&H
  • Formatt Hitech Firecrest Patrick Di Fruscia 100mm Signature Edition Pro Essentials Kit with 100mm Firecrest Filter HolderB&H
  • SLR Magic 82mm Self-Locking Variable Neutral Density 0.4 to 1.8 Filter (1.3 to 6 Stops)B&H – has 86mm front filter thread.
  • SLR Magic 86mm Image Enhancer ND Filter (4 STOP)B&H – works with variable and fixed ND filters that have 86mm front filter threads.
  • X-Rite ColorChecker Passport PhotoB&H
  • X-Rite ColorChecker Passport VideoB&H
  • XUME 82mm Lens Adapter and Filter Holder Pro KitB&H

Breakthrough Photography Launches Latest Kickstarter Campaign for a Set of Innovative Top Quality Glass Filter Solutions

Breakthrough Photography, the small, independent San Francisco-based maker of some of the finest glass photographic filters and step-up rings, has just launched its latest Kickstarter campaign. I am a customer of theirs and I only just found out about it, by sheer accident. Companies of all shapes and sizes are increasingly relying on social media to get the advance word out on new product launches and existing product updates, as well as apparently creaky old email lists, and it SIMPLY DOES NOT WORK, especially when Kickstarter Campaigns featuring earlybird discounts are involved. I don’t know what the answer is but surely this ain’t it. 

That aside, Breakthrough Photography’s campaign was launched mere minutes ago at the time of writing, and two out of four pledges are already gone, testimony to the quality and popularity of the company’s products as well as their unique solutions.

I became a Breakthrough Photography customer for two reasons. The most urgent was that I needed a screw-on ND, CPL, and UV or protection filter solution that fingers and hands damaged by an accident at an unsafe state government workplace could attach and detach while minimizing risk of dropping. Breakthrough’s traction frame was the answer.

The second was that I was becoming tired of the myriad of subtle and coarse variations in colour and sharpness I was seeing in other quality brand filters I owned and had paid plenty for. Having to do custom white balances every time one changed a filter was getting beyond a pain.

Graham Clark of Breakthrough Photography does a great job of illustrating these problems in his Performance Gallery and other informational assets on the website but one thing rarely if ever pointed out is that his filters are excellent for video as well as stills photography.

I now add the cost of a Breakthrough Photography UV filter and step-up ring into my new lens budgets, and as the variety of the video work I take on expands, will be factoring in the new square and rectangular filters and filter holder introduced in this Kickstarter Campaign that has already broken through its $50,000 goal with 31 days to go. I will be replacing non-Breakthrough brand filters and step-up rings as finances permit.

I have said it a few times already elsewhere on this site and others, but Breakthrough Photography’s trademark brass CNC-machined traction frames are sheer bloody genius. That and the company’s filter colour neutrality and sharpness should be an inspiration to other top-quality filter makers.

Breakthrough Photography’s screw-on filters and step-up rings are not the universal answer though. I use mirrorless cameras and many lenses in the Fujifilm, Olympus and Panasonic lens systems have filter diameters in sizes for which Breakthrough does not cater.

I hope that will not always be the case. At the moment I rely on second-best UV and protection filter brands for these lenses and multi-brand, multiple step-up ring kludges for lens filter diameters that Breakthrough does not make filters or step-up rings for right now.

Those second-best filter and step-up ring solutions are made of aluminium, not the far superior brass, and tend to bind and cross-thread. Brass is always better and brass traction frame best of all.

Breakthrough Photography’s current missing diameters include 37mm, 39mm, 43mm and 46mm. I am hoping Mr Clark will see fit to add those diameters to his offerings soon. Potentially dangerous kludges have no place in a working professional’s kit.

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Image Credits:

Header image made from screenshot of Breakthrough Photography’s Kickstarter campaign page then processed with Affinity Photo and Alien Skin Exposure X2.