Breakthrough Photography Lives Up to Its Name with Breakthrough Magnetic Filter System for Circular, Square and Rectangular Filters

Breakthrough Photography, makers of my preferred UV, circular polarizer and fixed value neutral density filters due to their high optical quality, excellent materials, innovative design and top-quality manufacturing, has come up with yet another breakthrough innovation, a magnetic filter system consisting of Magnetic Adapter, Magnetic Wheel, Magnetic Adapter Rings, X100 Holder for square and rectangular filters, Magnetic Filters in a range of types, densities and flavours, all of which is complemented by the company’s brilliantly designed and made knurled brass step-up rings. 

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Breakthrough Photography Magnetic Adapter and Magnetic Dark CPL Filter

While other camera accessories makers already have products linking the word “magnetic” with the word “filter” on the market, Breakthrough Photography has attached the two in a way that nobody else has, creating a system potentially attractive to moviemakers and photographers especially if working on location in challenging conditions.

Xume, formerly an independent camera accessories company before selling itself to Manfrotto, was the first magnetic filter system I encountered through Australian director/director of photography Paul Leeming of Leeming LUT Pro who relies on them for his narrative feature and event documentary cinematography work while I came across magnetic H&Y Filters while researching for this article, but those companies’ systems work differently from Breakthrough’s.

Breakthrough Photography’s Magnetic Filter system appears much better suited to my own needs as a one-person, self-funded, documentary moviemaker working in challenging conditions on location and I already know the Breakthrough Photography brand and its products, and recommend them without hesitation.

Breakthrough Photography Magnetic Filter system

At the moment Breakthrough Photography is offering a range of magnetic filters and its Magnetic Adapter, with a Magnetic Wheel being released soon partially to tackle wide-angle lens filter vignetting that has been demonstrated by early users of the system.

I am looking forward to learning and seeing more about the Magnetic Filter system and am seriously considering investing in it for my own work, though I would very much like to see Breakthrough Photography expand its ND filter densities to fill the gaps in its current 3-stop, 6-stop, 10-stop and 15-stop range.

At the moment I am not entirely convinced of the ease, speed and safety with which the filters can be attached and especially removed, with naked and gloved hands.

Speed, ease, safety and radically extending customer reach

The safety issue is the one that convinced me to buy into Breakthrough Photography’s knurled brass-framed weather-sealed screw-in filters and I hope to see safety and ease demonstrated with the Magnetic Filter system soon in videos and in hands-on reviews by experienced on-location cinematographers and photographers using it with and without gloves.

Breakthrough Photography’s focus is, however, primarily on landscape photographers and it appears to be considered incidental that cinematographers also use their products, with no known hands-on review of Breakthrough Photography products by the latter in existence.

More is the pity, as many Breakthrough products would be invaluable to moviemakers, especially the Magnetic Filter system, but the infrared pollution cutting capabilities of the company’s ND filters have not been tested beyond 700 nanometers.

Effective IR-cutting is important to Blackmagic Design camera users and even more so to what is potentially their most popular camera to date, the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Cameras 4K.

I would venture to suggest that the potential moviemaking market at all levels is many times larger than that of landscape photographers wanting to blur moving water or darken skies, and the folks at Breakthrough Photography would be wise to thoroughly test their CPLs and NDs for infrared-cutting beyond 700 nm given sensors see differently from the human eye, send Magnetic Filter system kits out to cinematographers for testing and hands-on reviews, and focus their marketing on moviemakers as well.

Links

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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.

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

  • Breakthrough PhotographyB&H
  • H&Y FiltersB&H
  • XumeB&H

Mitomo PR: True ND [Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera and Infrared Pollution]

“Accurate Transmittance and true neutrality TRUE ND is a clear glass coated with metallic alloy film on both sides. Manufactured under strict quality control, TRUE ND will offer you accurate transmittance and true neutrality. Troublesome infrared will also be filtered out by its flat spectral curve up to 750nm. TRUE ND is simply how ND filters are supposed to be….”

Mitomo True ND fixed neutral density filters – “a clear glass coated with metallic alloy film on both sides” – in densities from 0.3 to 2.1 aka 1 stop to 7 stops.
Mitomo True ND fixed neutral density filters – 4″x5.65″ and 6.6″ x 6.6″ aka 100mm x 150mm and 160mm x 160mm.

Commentary

I have been researching possible solutions for the infrared pollution problem inherent in Blackmagic Design’s cinema cameras which have little to no built-in protection against it, especially the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K aka BMPCC 4K.

So far there appears to be three different most viable solutions – IR cut filters mounted on the camera itself, screw-on IR cut filters to go on the front of the lens and IR plus ND (neutral density) filters screwed-on or mounted in front of the lens.

I have ruled out small IR plus ND filters mounted on the back or camera side of the lens as they are difficult to use and swap without getting dirty when in the field shooting documentary video though they may be more viable under controlled on-location or studio conditions.

It appears that some makers of ND filters do add IR cutting to their filters and some do not, complicating things just a little.

As I come across different brands of IR cut solutions I plan on adding them as link articles like this one.

My preferred IR-cut plus ND solution is either an IR-cut filter on the camera itself or as fixed or variable ND filters on the front of the lens.

As a self-funded independent documentary moviemaker affordability is key but I do not wish to sacrifice quality or portability.

Links

  • Blackmagic DesignBlackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K
  • MitomoTrue ND – “Manufactured under strict quality control, TRUE ND will offer you accurate transmittance and true neutrality. Troublesome infrared will also be filtered out by its flat spectral curve up to 750nm. TRUE ND is simply how ND filters are supposed to be.”
  • MitomoTrue ND catalog – PDF

Image Credits

Header image concept and hack by Carmel D. Morris.

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Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K

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

  • Blackmagic Design Mini XLR Cable for Video Assist/4K, Set of 2, 19.5″, HYPERD/AXLRMINI2 – B&H
  • Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4KB&H
  • DJI Ronin-SB&H
  • G-Technology G-DRIVE R-Series USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C mobile SSD, 500GB, 1Tb or 2TBB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO LensB&H – highly-recommended professional-quality standard zoom lens with manual clutch focus.
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f/4 IS PRO LensB&H – excellent travel zoom with longer reach though slower fixed maximum aperture, and manual clutch focus for accurate and repeatable manual focussing.
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO LensB&H – this and the 25mm and 45mm f/1.2 prime lenses below are highly recommended as top-quality, fast lenses for video production with manual clutch focus for accurate and repeatable manual focussing.
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 PRO LensB&H
  • Sachtler System FSB 4 Fluid Head with Sideload Plate, Flowtech 75 Carbon Fiber Tripod with Mid-Level Spreader and Rubber FeetB&H
  • Samsung T5 Portable Solid-State Drive, 250GB, 500Gb, 1TB or 2TBB&H

David Thorpe: Big and Bad, Little and Good.

http://m43blog.dthorpe.net/2018/06/14/big-and-bad-little-and-good/

Equivalence. It’s the bugbear of anyone who reviews Micro Four Thirds lenses. You are being conned says the incoming mail. Your f/1.4 lens is really an f/2.8. And your so called shallow depth of field is commensurate with f/2.8, too, not f/1.4. It’s an argument I’ve heard so many times and while factually true, is pointless and irrelevant. The only rational response is -so what?…

Put simply, a native Micro Four Thirds lens is just that. A native Micro Four Thirds lens. It isn’t a Full Frame lens. It won’t fit a DSLR and if it did it wouldn’t cover the whole frame. I’ve tried more and more to describe lenses according to their angle of view since that is universal. If you know what angle of view you want, you can choose a lens to get it. Thus, I know that I like as a standard prime a lens with a moderate wide angle, around 54° horizontal. A quick calculation at Points In Focus Photography tells me that for a Micro Four Thirds sensor it would be 17mm, for FF 35mm and for Medium Format 55mm. Easy.”

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Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 with Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 Aspheric zoom lens. David Thorpe has adopted the G9 as his prime stills camera for professional work and uses and range of Olympus and Panasonic lenses.

Commentary

The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 Pro, Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 Pro and Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro.

Former Fleet Street newspaper photographer David Thorpe is in my humble opinion one of the best and most useful writers and reviewers on Micro Four Thirds cameras and lenses though it is a pity that camera and lens makers don’t give him the credit and access to review gear that he deserves.

Mr Thorpe comes from a 35mm and 120 roll-film single lens reflex (SLR) background during the analog era whereas I have always relied on rangefinder and view cameras and prefer digital cameras that give me some semblance of those unique ways of seeing and photographing.

The other big difference between Mr Thorpe and I is that I rely on all my cameras, to varying degrees, when making photographs as well as videos and video is better served by fully manual lenses or at least manual clutch focus lenses such as those made by Fujifilm in APS-C X-Mount format and Olympus in M43.

As a result there are M43 lenses, especially small, light and relatively affordable prime and zoom lenses, that I quite like for stills photography but that are ruled out for serious video production, and more specialized M43 lenses such as those made by Veydra in their Mini Prime range, and those made by Olympus under their M.Zuiko Pro brand.

“… I can understand and agree with every reason put forward for those big, expensive optically superb f/1.2. And yet, in my heart, ever since I bought into Micro Four Thirds I’ve retained my original reasoning. Put an Olympus 17mm f/1.8 on a Panasonic GX9 body and go out street shooting in Soho. Now go out with a 17mm f/1.2 on the front. What can I say? Little and good, big and bad….”

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Shooting video only? Veydra Mini Prime 6 Lens Master Lens Kit with 6 Lens Case (MFT Mount, Meters). I would swap the 19mm lens for the 85mm lens and have some Veydra Mini Prime Fuji X-Mounts on hand when needing to use some of them on Fujifilm cameras.

Not quite, insofar as hybrid street shooting goes.

Although I have been tempted by the idea of the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17mm f/1.8 given its focal length is my own perfect all-in-one go-to, in reality this lens is apparently a little too compromised for documentary video production, according to a number of pro video reviewers.

I have yet to lay my hands on one for serious try out and review, but the first thing to consider is the practicality of attaching fixed or variable neutral density filters to its 46mm filter diameter via a step-up ring.

I have standardized on 77mm and 82mm diameter variable and fixed NDs in order to keep down costs, but need to maintain a selection of step-up rings to fit those NDs on a range of lenses.

Experience has taught me to stick to brass step-up rings to avoid binding, preferring brands that knurl the outside of their rings for best grip in challenging conditions but then that narrows brand choice down to Breakthrough Photography, Heliopan, PolarPro and Sensei Pro.

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Heliopan 37-58mm Step-Up Ring (#789), which then needs to be attached to a 58-77mm or 58-82mm step-up ring to allow attaching variable or fixed ND filters for video production. I recommend knurled brass set-up rings by Breakthrough Photography for the purpose.

Of those only Heliopan makes rings for smaller filter diameters like 46mm but they don’t step-up to 82mm; for that you will need to attach a 77mm to 82mm step-up ring for which I would automatically choose the one made by Breakthrough Photography.

Compromises, compromises.

The same goes for other small M43 lenses some of which may be more suitable for video production such as Panasonic’s Lumix G 42.5mm f/1.7 Aspheric Power OIS with its 37mm filter diameter, the Lumix G Vario 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II Aspheric Mega OIS with its 46mm filter diameter, the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 with its 46mm filter diameter and manual clutch focus, the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm f/1.8 with 46mm filter diameter but no manual clutch focus and the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm f/1.8, again with no manual clutch focus but with a 46mm filter diameter.

Some made by Olympus, some by Panasonic. some with manual clutch focus, some without, none with wide filter diameters and all needing one or two step-up rings to get them to the magic 77mm or 82mm filter diameter, the latter of which I have chosen as my new default given better ND filter choice in that size now.

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The Olympus M.Zuiko Pro lens line-up as of late October 2017.

Links

  • Breakthrough Photography Step Up Ring
  • David Thorpe – Big and Bad, Little and Good.
  • Digital Trends – Olympus M. Zuiko F1.2 Pro lenses prove there’s life left in Micro Four Thirds – “Naturally, these lenses are fantastic for portraiture. The sense of depth they give at f/1.2 is like nothing else we’ve ever seen on the format. In fact, the remark that kept coming to mind was, “This looks like film.” It is probably the first time we’ve ever felt that way about Micro Four Thirds…. Olympus’ goal with the F1.2 Pro series was to craft a specific quality of blur, which the company calls “feathered bokeh.”
  • Digital Trends – Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm F1.2 Pro review – “… until now, there hasn’t been a fast, wide-angle prime that really targeted high-end and professional users. The Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm F1.2 Pro changes that, combining the largest aperture of any wide-angle lens available for the format with exceptional build quality.”
  • Digital Trends – Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm F1.2 Pro review – “… [the] Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm F1.2 Pro, however, is a technically excellent lens that may also just be special enough to inspire you emotionally. It highlights the impressive move that the Micro Four Thirds system has made into the world of professional photography.”
  • Digital Trends – Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm F1.2 Pro review – “… the 45mm is perhaps the most exciting entry in the series — everything about it is finely tuned for portrait photography… In fact, it is our favorite portrait-length lens for the MFT system.”
  • Olympus GlobalM.Zuiko Pro
  • Points in Focus – Depth of Field (DoF), Angle of View, and Equivalent Lens Calculator
  • PolarProStep-Up Rings
  • SenseiStep-Up Rings
  • Veydra

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Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17mm f/1.8 lens with lens shade, also available in black. Great for stills photography, not so much for video?

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

  • Heliopan step-up ringsB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2 LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17mm f/1.8 LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm f/1.8 LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm f/1.8 LensB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix G 42.5mm f/1.7 ASPH. POWER O.I.S. LensB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II ASPH. MEGA O.I.S. LensB&H
  • PolarPro step-up ringsB&H
  • Sensei Pro step-up ringsB&H
  • Veydra 19mm T2.6 Mini Prime Lens (MFT)B&H
  • Veydra Mini Prime 6 Lens Master Lens Kit with 6 Lens Case (MFT Mount)B&H
  • Veydra Mini Prime Fuji X-MountB&H

A Quick Look at Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro Prime and 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro Zoom: They’re out of this World!

A mini photo expo at a local shopping centre provided an opportunity to briefly try out two Olympus M.Zuiko Pro lenses, the just-arrived Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro prime lens and the older Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro zoom. 

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro at about 10.5mm, my favourite scene-setting aka establishing shot focal length equivalent to 21mm in the 35mm format.
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro

With the ending of the major photography trade show in Australia, chances to see and try before you buy have become even more rare than they have ever been, so I was grateful for the small display of mirrorless cameras and lenses at one side of the expo opposite the two DSLR makers.

It was good to see Fujifilm’s X-E3 again and I caught up with the new Sony Alpha a9 camera so many colleagues have been raving about, but the star of the show for me was the Olympus table.

Panasonic was mysteriously absent and all the poorer for it given how beautifully its Lumix cameras go together with Olympus’ M.Zuiko Pro lenses for cinematography and photography, especially given their unique manual clutch focus option.

I also managed to pick up and sight through the amazing Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4.0 Pro telephoto lens. Photograph via cellphone.

Super wide-angle lenses present something of a quandary when it comes to filters, given they often have wide convex front lens elements that prevent easily attaching screw-on filters.

Using such lenses for video presents even more of a quandary, especially for solo operators working in documentary moviemaking who must travel light, are self-funded and must watch their budgets.

Travelling light, working handheld and keeping your camera rigs small, neat and discrete rules out traditional moviemaking standbys like matte boxes holding large, costly square or rectangular filters which are fine for feature filmmaking and slower, more deliberate approaches.

The Olympus M.Zuiko Pro lens line-up as of late 2017, early 2018. More fast primes please, Olympus!

Luckily several optical filter makers have turned their efforts to the problem of attaching filters to convex-fronted lenses like the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro, though until recently all such filter adapter solutions have only worked with big slide-in glass or plastic filters 100mm, 150mm or 165mm square or wide.

And then, I came across a hitherto unknown camera filter and accessories maker by the name of STC Optical & Chemical in Taiwan, and discovered they are offering a screw-in lens adapter for the M.Zuiko Pro 7-14mm f/2.8 and an adapter for Panasonic’s own 7-14mm lens, the slower Lumix G Vario 7-14mm f/4 Aspheric zoom, also with a convex front element.

I have yet to come across any hands-on reviews by cinematographers of the STC Olympus 7-14mm filter adapter but have been researching the availability of high quality 105mm UV, circular polarizing and ND filters in density values suitable for moviemaking.

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

It appears that options are rather limited insofar as 105mm diameter filters go, especially in regard to ND filters which are dominated by the Formatt Hitech brand in different product ranges and very different price points.

Options are further limited regarding 105mm diameter versions of the fallback filter for run-and-gun documentary moviemakers, the variable ND, with just two turning up in my search at B&H today, the Aurora-Aperture 105mm PowerXND 2000 Variable Neutral Density 1.2 to 3.3 Filter (4 to 11 Stops) and the Formatt Hitech 105mm Multistop Neutral Density Filter rated at 1 to 6 stops.

Given the brightness of sunny days like today, a 6-stop maximum density is not dense enough and will need to be supplemented with fixed, single value ND filters, abnegating the utility value of variable NDs in the first place.

I have no firsthand experience with Aurora-Aperture products but 4 to 11 stops ND seems more useful.

Another possibility, or more appropriately hope, is that STC Optical & Chemical may choose to supplement its current 105mm 6-stop ND filter with more.

One typical fixed neutral density filter set contains 2, 4, 6, 8 and sometimes 10 stops, while another comprises 3, 5, 7, and 9 stops.

STC might choose to produce a 105mm version of its STC Ultra Layer Variable ND16-ND4096 filter, possessing an eye-popping range of 3.5 to 12 stops, or the STC Ultra Layer Variable ND2-ND1024 filter’s slightly shorter 1 to 10-stop range, with this filter also currently only available in diameters up to 82mm.

What is the answer?

If I can find the answer to the variable or fixed circular ND filter set question for the Olympus M.Zuiko Pro 7-14mm f/2.8 filter, then the lens and its filter solution will go straight to the top of my documentary video hardware wish list followed by the M.Zuiko Pro 17mm f/1.2, 25mm f/1.2 and 45mm f/1.2 professional-quality prime lenses.

I have made enquiries about their relevant products to STC Optical & Chemical and will report back here soon.

Of STC’s current Olympus Screw-In Lens Adapter packages, I am tempted by the adapter plus UV filter for stills photography, the circular polarizer for architectural photography and city scenes in video, and the 6-stop ND with the hopes that 2, 4, 8 and 10 stops ND filters will be appearing soon.

Or I may opt for either of STC’s Ultra Layer Variable NDs if they become available in a diameter of 105mm.

Links

Tech Notes

Location photographs very quickly made with Panasonic DMC-GX8 using Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro and Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro lenses with raw files processed in DxO PhotoLab with DxO FilmPack as a plug-in, applying colour negative film simulation presets along with minimal other processing.

Image Credits

Header image concept and hack by Carmel D. Morris.

Help support ‘Untitled’

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

  • Aurora-Aperture 105mm PowerXND 2000 Variable Neutral Density 1.2 to 3.3 Filter (4 to 11 Stops)B&H – a versatile range of 4 to 11 stops.
  • Breakthrough Photography 105mm X4 UV Filter (Brass)B&H
  • Breakthrough Photography 105mm X4 UV Filter (Titanium)B&H
  • Formatt Hitech 105mm Multistop Neutral Density FilterB&H – ranges from 1 to 6 stops, falling short of the ideal daylight upper end of 8 to 10 stops.
  • Fujifilm X-E3 Mirrorless Digital Camera – B&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro – B&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro – B&H
  • Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 8-18mm f/2.8-4 Aspheric LensB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm f/4 Aspheric LensB&H
  • Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless Digital CameraB&H