Regular readers may have noticed I have written posts about Australian cinematographer/director Paul Leeming and his Leeming LUT Pro look-up tables for top-quality video production for some years, so I will not repeat any of that here right now, save to say that Mr Leeming’s LUT sets are currently the best and they continue to become even better with every new version.
As Paul recently wrote in his Facebook Group page (edits applied by me):
… I’ve spent the last six months developing a new methodology to make these the most accurate LUTs ever. That methodology, which takes into account all the edge cases I’ve seen here (S-Log2 gamut issues, green tints etc), is now being applied to all cameras.
Like a fine wine, it takes time, because I have set stupidly high standards for myself. I want these LUTs to be the be-all and end-all of accuracy. And honestly, with Athena and Pro II, I’m done for accuracy. There’s nowhere else to go.
Athena is my new go-to for actual work, since it’s a brighter starting point with a gentle S-curve built in, so that I can simply apply it and get to work colour grading creatively. But Pro II remains as the no holds barred Rec. 709 standard, bang-on for luma and colorimetry, baseline LUT.
My long term goal is to get all cameras upgraded, then move to some really high end Super Quickie packs based on the Athena series as the base. These will probably be paid, but it won’t be much, maybe 5-10 EUR. But they’ll be perfectly harmonised for Athena and fit like a glove.
Then I also want to provide Rec. 2020 LUTs for all cameras, but to do that I need a Rec. 2020 setup, so I’m waiting on the release of the LG CX 48″ TV / monitor, which will be Rec. 2020 compatible and OLED for perfect colorimetry and luma….
… [I] forgot to mention all the NEW cameras that will be added to the inventory too, like the original Mavic Pro, the Phantom 4 Pro, etc.
I have just downloaded the Leeming LUT Pro set for Fujifilm X Series, comprising the F-Log, Eterna Cinema, Pro Neg Std and HLG for Rec.709 LUTs, and am looking forward to shooting some fresh footage with F-Log in particular to try this latest version out.
I am also looking forward to the coming updates of the Leeming LUT Pro set for Panasonic G Series cameras.
“Paul takes a first look at the Panasonic S1H. Is this simply a full frame GH5S or is there more to this DSLM? Perfect camera for vloggers or a real cinema competitor?”
Things have been quiet over at Panasonic Australia it seems since the release of the Lumix DC-GH5 and I have not heard a sound from the company’s PR people, so have not had any extended hands-on time with the Lumix DC-GH5S, Lumix DC-G9, Lumix DC-GX9, Lumix DC-S1, Lumix DC-SiR or the recently released Lumix DC-S1H.
So I am grateful for Paul of extrashot for this first look at the S1H, especially in the light of Netflix certifying the camera for use in Netflix 4K Originals productions.
I look forward to more in-depth reviews of the camera for use in movie productions appearing soon.
Panasonic’s longtime weak point has been its depth-from-defocus (DFD) Contrast Detection Auto Focus (CDAF) system that many users would prefer was actually Phase Detection Auto Focus (PDAF), but is this a big problem given potential users of the Lumix DC-S1H are more likely to use manual focus with it, as illustrated in the product shot above?
DPReview – DPReview TV: Panasonic S1H First Look – “Jordan takes a first look at the new Panasonic S1H and wrestles with the moral struggle of cheating on his beloved GH5. Click below to download some ungraded sample clips from the S1H, including 6K footage.” – video
Leeming LUT Pro – “Leeming LUT Pro™ is the world’s first unified, corrective Look Up Table ( LUT ) system for supported cameras, designed to maximise dynamic range, fix skin tones, remove unwanted colour casts and provide an accurate Rec709 starting point for further creative colour grading.” – some reviewers have been commenting adversely upon the skin tones rendered by Panasonic’s S-Series and GH-Series cameras, but applying Leeming LUT Pro restores excellent colour to their video output. Paul Leeming is currently working on LUTs for S-Series Panasonic cameras so keep on eye his website.
Australian feature film cinematographer/director Paul Leeming has released the first camera profile correction look-up table in his Leeming LUT Pro set for Fujifilm X-Trans sensor-equipped cameras, for Fujifilm’s F-Log logarithmic shooting profile, with Eterna Cinema, Pro Neg Std and HLG for Rec709 LUTs to come.
This is a significant and long-awaited event given that Fujifilm has finally delivered on its longtime promise to radically improve its cameras’ video capabilities with the Fujifilm X-T3 and X-H1, with the coming X-H2 hopefully improving on the X-T3 as a moviemaking hybrid mirrorless camera in Super 35 format.
Super 35 has long been the feature film format of choice for narrative and documentary production, and the arrival of improved video capabilities on Fujifilm’s X-T2 cameras was a relief after the disappointment of the X-Pro2’s video support.
Leeming LUT Pro for F-Log on Fujifilm cameras with X-Trans sensors
Even the recently announced X-Pro3 appears to have 4K Super 35 video features that may prove good enough in a pinch when more video-oriented cameras are unavailable.
The Leeming LUT Pro expose and correction methodology is based on exposing to the right aka ETTR followed by correction via camera-specific look-up-table files in one’s nonlinear editing suite or colour grading software of choice.
The ETTR method’s most vocal proponent was the late Michael Reichmann who was in favour for its use in photography and videography, and although he and many other photographers constantly lobbied camera makers for auto-ETTR in their Live View-capable cameras, to no effect so far.
Why camera makers continue to ignore the necessity of optimal exposure is anyone’s guess.
For that reason I am grateful that Paul Leeming has applied himself to solving the problem of correct exposure followed by correcting colour via Leeming LUT Pro, with the added benefit of making footage shot on a variety of affordable cameras usable in the same timeline without excessive shot matching work.
The ideal, maximum possible dynamic range and realistic colours, using Leeming LUT Pro and Expose-To-The-Right (ETTR)
Uncorrected camera maker luma and colorimetry
Luma curve and colorimetry levels corrected with Leeming LUT Pro
In the light of camera makers’ tendency to fudge their camera’s video output as illustrated above, exposing to the right appears to make footage appear darker than one may be accustomed to, but Mr Leeming has made available other, secondary, LUTs to quickly and easily raise footage low values, as explained below.
As usual, the LUT will “darken” the footage, which really just means it will make the curve perfectly LINEAR. Examine the attached image using your waveform scope in your favourite editing software, and you’ll see what that means, with the exposure steps forming a perfect “X” shape in linear fashion. This is of course ETTR, so if you under-expose your image, it will look darker.
The LUT(s) don’t make the image darker. The LUT(s) correct the manufacturer luma curves to be linear. In most (but not all) cases, this results in the image “appearing” to be darker, but it’s not affecting anything, nor clipping anything, nor adding additional noise that wasn’t in the shot to begin with.
Don’t forget, you also have the Apollo Pro Quickies to use after the corrective LUT in case you want to brighten the image without clipping the highlights or adding any more shot noise. But when you can, please ETTR and save yourself the problems (and give yourself the cleanest possible log image to begin with).
If your shot after LUT application has its highlights not reaching 100% IRE, then you underexposed it. Use the zebras as per the guide to see where the clipping point is. Expose just shy of that and you’ll maximise sensor dynamic range and minimise shot noise.
If you HAVE underexposed or simply want a brighter image post-corrective LUT, try following it with one or more of my Apollo Pro Quickies, which are expressly designed to lift the shadows in a natural way without clipping the highlights.
Stills frames from feature film shot by Paul Leeming, ungraded then graded with Leeming LUT Pro
Ungraded, straight out of camera footage. The sort of non grading currently popular in Australian TV commercials.
Graded with Leeming LUT Pro. Cinematic and filmic, and far more emotive.
Settings for shooting video Fujifilm cameras for processing with Leeming LUT Pro
Pro Neg Std, Eterna Cinema, F-log or HLG
H265 recording format
DR100 for all profiles
Highlight tone 0
Shadow tone 0
Noise Reduction -4
Zebra level 100%
Quick and dirty Leeming LUT Pro for Fujifilm F-Log tryout with Fujifilm X-H1 F-Log footage
Ungraded, out of camera footage from Fujifilm X-H1 with F-Log.
Graded footage from Fujifilm X-H1 with Leeming LUT Pro for Fujifilm F-Log, plus a LUT from Leeming LUT Pro Quickies and colour correction.
I shoot documentary stills and video rather than make narrative feature movies, so often work alone under challenging conditions as in this example.
The Fujifilm X-H1 had a vintage Zeiss Jena Pentacon 50mm f/1.8 MC Auto prime lens attached to it via a Gobe M42-to-X-mount adapter with no neutral density filter, and I fudged on setting a custom white balance as I was more concerned with understanding the creative possibilities of this lens for video than in getting technicalities perfect.
An adapted 50mm lens on an APS-C/Super 35 camera equates to 75mm in the 35mm sensor format, which is one of my favourite focal lengths for documentary photography and video.
I have been throughly enjoying trying out this lens and its companion, a Panagor PMC 28mm f/2.8 wide-angle prime lens that Paul Leeming kindly gave us.
These sorts of vintage prime lenses are rare and overpriced here in Sydney, at least ever since camera stores like Foto Reisel with their secondhand gear cabinets closed down.
Fujifilm Super 35/APS-C hybrid cameras capable of shooting 4K and Cinema 4K F-Log video as well as in other picture profiles: X-T3, X-H1 and X-Pro3
Fujifilm X-Pro 3 with MHG-XPRO3 grip and Fujinon XF 35mm f/2.0 R WR prime lens.
Fujifilm X-H1 with VPB-XH1 battery grip and Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR professional zoom lens.
Fujifilm X-T3 with VG-XT3 Vertical Battery Grip and Fujifilm XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS zoom lens.
The Luminous Landscape – Expose Right – This once-essential website is now paywalled, though a limited number of free page views is permitted before paying for access.
The Luminous Landscape – Optimizing Exposure – “In 2003 I wrote a tutorial titled Expose Right. To my knowledge this was the first generally available essay that discussed the realities of digital exposure, as opposed to that required for film. Since then the technique described has become known as ETTR (Expose To The Right)…. A live-view histogram-based auto-exposure system is all that needed to generate the best possible exposure from a technical perspective.”
Wayback Machine – Optimizing Exposure: Why Do Camera Makers Give Us 19th Century Exposures With Our 21st Century Cameras? – “In digital photography, exposing to the right (ETTR) is the technique of adjusting the exposure of an image as high as possible at base ISO (without causing unwanted saturation) to collect the maximum amount. So – here we are, more than a decade into the DSLR revolution (and the new century) and camera makers are still using 25, 50, even 100+ year old exposure technology in our latest cameras. Why? I really can’t say, but they should be taken to task for not delivering the best image quality that their cameras are capable of and thus get the optimum performance out of the digital image sensor.”
“If we consider the zoom range and fixed f4 aperture in the FUJINON lenses in this segment, to me, the most reasonable option is XF16-80mm. From wide-angle to a medium telephoto zoom range makes this lens ideal especially for street and travel photographers. Even for general architectural shots (no ultra-wide angle), the lens has high-end features that will satisfy anyone who wants to work with a single lens. Let’s look at the other details….”
FUJIFILMglobal: Huseyin Aldirmaz x XF16-80mmF4 R OIS WR / FUJIFILM
Each year I always look forward to the Sydney edition, as it were, of Fujifilm Australia’s People with Cameras event and that anticipation is no less eager this year with the event coming up for tomorrow, Saturday September 7th, 2019.
I will be carrying my trusty Fujifilm X-Pro2 and a handful of Fujifilm Fujinon prime lenses, along with an X-H1 kindly loaned by Fujifilm Australia’s PR folks.
I have been enjoying the many virtues of the X-H1, and am hoping that an X-H2 is on the horizon for release early 2020, if we are lucky.
The X-H1 in combo with my X-Pro2 is a powerful kit when engaged in documentary work and portrait photography.
The X-H1 is, of course, the better option of the two for top-quality video using the Pro Neg Standard, Eterna Cinema or F-Log profile depending on taste and need, and I highly recommend using Paul Leeming’s settings below when shooting with the X-H1, X-T3 or X-Pro2, as well as their other cameras.
When shooting video, or stills for that matter, always best to expose to the right aka ETTR in order to avoid burnout at the shoulder end of the exposure scale.
Paul Leeming’s video settings for Fujifilm cameras:
Pro Neg Std (best option on the X-Pro2), Eterna Cinema, F-log (or HLG for the X-T3)
H265 recording format
DR100 for all profiles
Highlight tone 0
Shadow tone 0
Noise Reduction -4
Zebra level 100%
I have been hoping a lens like Fujifilm’s Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR would turn up for quite some time since acquiring my first interchangeable lens Fujifilm camera, a standard zoom lens offering better quality than the Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 R LM OIS kit zoom which has, however, proven surprisingly good for its class though the latter is not everything I might wish for.
The X-Pro2 and X-T3’s lack of in-body image stabilization ruled out considering the Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR, a lens that appears better suited to a gripped IBIS-equipped X-H1 than the two smaller cameras.
My time in DSLR-land with the Canon EOS 5D Mark II and its Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM kit zoom lens taught me the value of lenses with optical image stabilization and a bit extra on the long end of the focal length scale when shooting documentary stills and video.
The in-development announcement of the Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR came as a pleasant surprise to many of us who had been hoping for a one-lens replacement for several prime lenses when weight and size would be an issue and Hüseyin Aldırmaz’s report on his experience with a pre-production copy looks promising.
Now to the Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR’s release and falling into the hands of well-qualified non-Fujifilm Ambassadors for some in-depth reviews so we have some idea of whether this is the all-purpose standard zoom lens we have been waiting for.
I was lucky enough to spend a very short time with a pre-production model of the Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR at last Saturday’s Fujifilm People With Cameras event in Sydney and can report that the lens feels good and solid with fast autofocus and good balance on the Fujifilm X-T3 upon which it was mounted.
I was asked not to save any photographs or video shot with it so my assessment is limited.
Thanks to the ever-keen eyes of the folks at Fuji Rumors, I have now added some reviews of pre-production versions of the Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR to the links list below.
Enjoy, until the first in-depth reviews of the production version of this lens start appearing.
Bill Fortney – The New Mid-Range King! – “I will cut to the chase and tell you now it will replace the 18-135 as my standard middle zoom. In fact for my upcoming trip to the UP of Michicgn and Acadia N.P, it and the 10-24, and 100-400 will be my three zoom package. “
Fujifilm South Africa – THOUGHTS ON THE FUJINON 16-80MM F/4 – Anton Bosman – “For professionals who are looking for an all day carry around lens and for the traveller who is looking for a compact carrying kit, yet they still want the ability to create images that will hold their own against the best on any platform. For videographers there is good news, the lens has very little breathing.“
Ivan Joshua Loh – XF16-80mm. – “If you are looking for a zoom lens; this could be it. Of course there is the XF18-135mm lens but I would go for the XF16-80mm. I would prefer a wider advantage than a tele. I would not use this lens professionally as the optically on a different level when compare with XF16-55mm F2.8”
jonasrask|photography – Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4 R OIS WR first look preview – “The XF16-80mm f/4 R WR OIS is without a doubt one of the new Fujinon XF classics. It is a phenomenal performer with great image stabilisation, and good IQ throughout the zoom range. Especially at 50-80mm. It’s sharp and has good looking out-of focus rendering. It focuses very fast and precise, and the build quality is fantastic.”
Leeming LUT Pro – production of Paul Leeming’s LUT pack for Fujifilm XF cameras is currently under way.
“This is a ‘lite’ review of the Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera (BMPCC) 6K. I say lite because there is no way anyone can do a proper, in-depth review of a camera in a few days or even a few weeks. To properly review a camera you need to spend a lot more time with the camera than I have so far….”
Australian cinematographer Matthew Allard ACS of video industry bible News Shooter has just published a lengthy, in-depth though “lite” hands-on practical review of the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K and it makes for useful reading especially for those who own a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K and are considering replacing it with its Super 35 sibling.
Blackmagic Design has pulled one out of the hat with both cameras, making them the currently most affordable cinema cameras, but not without a number of compromises.
Mr Allard has the longterm experience as an on-location news and documentary cinematographer working around the globe to write well-qualified reviews like this one and I look forward to the non-lite version of this review for even more invaluable insights.
Meanwhile Australian cinematographer/director Paul Leeming has obtained his own BMPCC 6K and as a seasoned BMPCC 4K owner is even better qualified to opine on both cameras.
These are some of Paul’s initial thoughts on the BMPCC 6K:
Let me say right off the bat, this camera is going to be my A cam simply for the fact that there’s no Speed Booster glass to degrade your lens!!! No matter how good the Speed Boosters are from Metabones (and the new BMPCC4K one is quite good), it just can’t hold a candle to the quality of the lens on a native mount. Not to mention that the 6K is smooth and sharp across the entire frame, and downscaling that to 4K is going to give incredibly clean images. Look into the very corners of this frame and you can clearly see the benefits.
This still only has my Blackmagic V4 1.5 LUT applied, plus a small amount (25%) chroma noise reduction done in Resolve to get rid of some of the tiny BRAW fringe issues that that format seems to have. Hopefully, being their own format, they will eventually figure out how to do that better without NR being required. The clip was shot 6K at Q5 quality.
Some out of the box things I like – the screen is more neutral (second gen I’m guessing, same as the later 4K’s) and I like the locking body cap which I haven’t seen anyone mention before anywhere.
Paul shared some notes on the rig illustrated above:
[Blackmagic] Pocket [Cinema Camera] 6K
8Sinn Pocket 4K cage, rod riser and handle
Shoot35 Cine Follow Focus
Ultrasync One timecode generator/receiver
Atomos Ninja V 4K monitor/recorder
Smallrig arm for Ninja V
Hawk-Woods Mini V-Lok 98Whr battery and plate
Sigma FF Cine 50mm T1.5 prime lens (EF mount)
Samsung T5 SSD 1TB
Leeming LUT Pro – “Leeming LUT Pro™ is the world’s first unified, corrective Look Up Table ( LUT ) system for supported cameras, designed to maximise dynamic range, fix skin tones, remove unwanted colour casts and provide an accurate Rec709 starting point for further creative colour grading.”
How to Expose To The Right (ETTR) to maximise your camera’s sensor dynamic range 🙂 I also create highly accurate Rec709 corrective LUTs (optimised for these ETTR principles) which you can buy from here: https://www.LeemingLUTPro.com
Paul Leeming has made a quick and dirty video to show how to set your camera for ETTR – expose to the right – when shooting video.
ETTR also applies to obtaining optimum exposure and thus optimal image quality for stills photography and is best achieved with zebras rather than blinkies.
Now if only all digital camera makers would equip every camera with fully programmable zebras for photography and video.
Leeming LUT Pro has been released for a range of popular mirrorless, drone and action cameras, so Paul Leeming is working on his Leeming LUT Pro Fujifilm combo pack.
Mr Leeming has just purchased a Fujifilm X-T3 Super 35/APS-C hybrid camera in order to dig deep into Fujifilm cameras’ video settings and capabilities.
Cameras currently supported by Leeming LUT Pro include those made by Blackmagic Design, DJI, GoPro, Panasonic and Sony, with a list of which camera models are included now available at the Leeming LUT Pro web page.
The use of LUTs aka look-up tables for camera-matching profiles, dynamic range curve correction and creative looks is supported by a number modern nonlinear editing and colour grading applications including Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Premiere Pro, Apple Final Cut Pro, Avid Media Composer, Cyberlink PowerDirector, DaVince Resolve and Resolve Studio, Grass Valley Edius, HitFilm, Magix Vegas and a number of third-party colour grading plug-ins.
Several external recorders and monitor/recorders connected via SDI or HDMI are also supported by Leeming LUT Pro including those made by Atomos, BlackMagic Design, Convergent Design and Video Devices.
The news that Leeming LUT Pro will soon be supporting Fujifilm cameras is particularly welcome given that the Fujifilm X-T3 and X-T30 are proving to be excellent and affordable Super 35 video production cameras whether used standalone or connected via HDMI to external monitor/recorders.
Fujifilm X-T3 with VG-XT3 Vertical Battery Grip and Fujifilm XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS zoom lens.
Fujifilm X-T30 with Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 R LM OIS zoom lens.
Using Leeming LUT Pro
There appears to be persistent and widespread confusion about how best to expose video with no end of theories flying about and pundits purporting to know which theory is currently the best or the trendiest.
Mr Leeming has throughly researched the technical aspects and limitations of a range of current and recent hybrid camera sensors and has delved deep into each manufacturer’s colour science in this longtime RED camera owner’s quest to derive the best and most photorealistic colour from every camera.
I have watched him test cameras at the Unititled studio and have noted the thoroughness with which he does it, well-qualifying him to issue PDF manuals on how to best set-up each camera, how to best expose and how best to use LUTs in NLEs and colour grading software.
Correct exposure is achieved via exposing-to-the-right aka ETTR, a principle originally promoted by the late Michael Reichmann of The Luminous Landscape aka LuLa for digital stills photography but equally applicable to digital video.
The aim of ETTR is to adjust “the exposure of an image as high as possible at base ISO (without causing unwanted saturation) to collect the maximum amount of light and thus get the optimum performance out of the digital image sensor” according to Wikipedia’s entry on the technique.
I am currently awaiting before and after samples and other supporting images for current Leeming LUT Pro combo packs and when received will be publishing articles on each and how they work, so please come back to Unititled soon!
“This video demystifies use of Rec.2020 HDR footage on a Rec.709 timeline in Final Cut Pro X 10.4.x, especially for Panasonic GH5 & GH5S users who shoot in HLG. I don’t own a SONY camera, but the same workflow shown in my video would apply to Sony Rec.2020 HLG as well. Leeming LUT offers a Sony HLG to Rec.709 LUT….”
Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 with Panasonic DMW-BGGH5 Battery Grip and Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 Aspheric Power OIS zoom lens.
Panasonic DC-GH5S with DMW-BGGH5 battery grip and Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 Aspheric Power OIS zoom lens.
“… Neutral Density Filters are a necessary tool for exposure control, but does their price tag really affect their quality? Today Griffin sits down with 23 ND filters that range in different price tiers from $5 all the way to $580 to see! Today we hard tested 23 ND filters for their color and image quality, flare resistance, and their usefulness in timelapse situations. We test a range of ND’s [sic] from a set of general purpose ND3 filters, to Variable Density Filters, to heavily graded ND10 filters for their use in time-lapse photography. While every type of ND filter has it’s own use, we mainly set out to see if the price tag really affected image quality, and whether variable ND’s were much worse than single glass ND’s. …”
Independent moviemaker and Panasonic Lumix brand ambassador Griffin Hammond’s documentary production insights and training have proven invaluable over the years since I invested in Lumix Micro Four Thirds cameras primarily for video.
The previous incarnation of the recently rejuvenated Indy Mogul YouTube channel not so much but that looks set to change now that it has been taken over by Ted Sim of the Aputure moviemaking equipment company and Griffin Hammond himself.
I don’t know anything about Mr Sim, Aputure and its products at the moment but Mr Hammond is a different story, having finally met him at the last SMPTE Sydney trade show after following his video work online for some time.
Clearly it is past time to look into Aputure’s products if I can find a local stockist for them.
Meanwhile, back to neutral density filters, both fixed and variable.
Variations in sharpness, colour casts and the dreaded X were considerations when I was searching for the best and most economical neutral density filters to buy when I got back into digital video and photography a few years ago.
I had used sets of square and rectangular high-end cinema filters for attachment to movie cameras via matte boxes years before, but no longer have the sorts of budget to afford such things nor the desire to cart them all about any more.
When I started looking into screw-on fixed and variable neutral density filters the most recommended brand at the time was Singh-Ray but the company’s VND cost a fortune and was out of reach.
Instead I settled on Genustech’s Eclipse Fader VND after reading a number of recommendations by independent documentary and music video cinematographers and opted for the 77mm version along with a set of aluminium step-up rings to common sizes.
The Genustech Fader acquitted itself well through a number of small projects but recently I began looking for replacements, whether fixed or variable NDs or both, that had the least possible colour cast and the maximum sharpness.
I am also considering making 82mm filters my standard for maximum versatility given some current and future lenses I may add to my kit have wider front elements than did my limited selection of starter lenses some years ago.
Australian cinematographer/director Paul Leeming recently showed me the stripped-down travel version of his Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K kit and how he attaches his 82mm Formatt Hitech Firecrest Ultra fixed ND filters via the Manfrotto Xume magnetic filter adapter system for fast easy and secure filter swapping.
Vignetting at the widest focal length is a consideration with the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art zoom lens with Metabones Speed Booster attached though Mr Leeming assured me that, for the feature film he recently shot on the larger version of his BMPCC 4K rig, the vignetting was acceptable.
I continue to research the options but have now settled on the 82mm filter diameter and step-up rings made of brass rather than aluminium, which has a tendency to bind when screwing them on and off in the field.
I may well choose another brand of variable neutral density filter, bearing in mind factors like colour cast, sharpness, the x-effect at maximum density, the absence or presence of a self-locking device, and, now that cameras are appearing with higher base ISOs when shooting HLG footage in particular, a maximum density in the 10 or 11 stop range.
I may also add a set of 82mm fixed value neutral density filters for the other cameras I use and will most likely stick with Breakthrough Photography brand fixed NDs for that as I am rather fond of the company’s beautifully designed and made knurled brass-framed UV, CPL and ND filters.
Other screw-on circular fixed and variable neutral density filters and step-up rings
Genustech Eclipse Fader Variable Neutral Density (ND) Filter, once the most recommended variable ND and still one I keep in my documentary moviemaking kit. This VND gives you 2 to 8 stops of neutral density.
Aurora Aperture PowerXND II VND: “The PowerXND-II 128 is a 1-7 stop variable ND filter while the PowerXND-II 2000 is a 5-11 stop variable ND filter. With both filters users can control light reduction from 1 to 11 stops, making them highly versatile tools for general photography and videography applications.”
SLR Magic self-locking 82mm Variable Neutral Density VND Filter.
SLR Magic 86mm Solid Neutral Density 1.2 Enhancer Filter, 4-stop, to go with SLR Magic 82mm Variable Neutral Density Filter. The VND gives you 1.3 to 6 stops of density and adding the Enhancer to the front of it adds an extra 4 stops of density, totalling 10 stops. The Enhancer also adds extra ultraviolet and infra-red filtration.
SLR Magic 82mm Fixed Neutral Density Filter, 3.0, 10-stop. SLR Magic recently released fixed ND filters to complement the company’s highly-regarded VNDs.
Formatt-Hitech Firecrest Fixed Neutral Density (ND) Filter, available in a range of filter diameters from 39mm to 127mm and a range of densities from 1 stop to 16 stops.
Breakthrough Photography Magnetic Wheel and Magnetic Filter. The company had a Kickstarter campaign for this new filter attachment system but it does appear to have reached the Breakthrough Photography online store yet.
Sensei Pro brass knurled step-up ring. I prefer these to the company’s aluminium knurled and unsnarled step-up rings but knurled aluminium is better than unknurled in my experience.
The XUME magnetic filter attachment system was invented by an independent moviemaker then sold to Manfrotto. It appears that XUME products are not available in every territory where Manfrotto is distributed, including Australia. I would love to see and try them out myself before investing in equipping every lens with XUME adapters.
Xume filter adapter attached to step-up ring attached to lens.
ND filter attached to filter adapter via filter holder.
Lens cap attached to adapter, step-up ring and lens.
Paul Leeming’s Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 in 8Sinn cage with Scorpio handle and XUME magnetic filter holder system.
SIMMOD Variable Neutral Density 0.4-1.8 Filter. I recently came across this brand while researching the utility value of locking rings on VND filters.
SIMMOD Variable Neutral Density 0.4-1.8 Filter with a range of 1.3 to 6 stops.
SIMMOD Variable Neutral Density 0.4-1.8 Filter with a range of 1.3 to 6 stops. Note the locking ring.