Gobe is an Australian Lens Adapter and Filter Company That Plants Five Trees for Every Purchase Made

Cinematographer/director Paul Leeming of Leeming LUT Pro dropped by yesterday and very kindly gave us two vintage M42-mount manual-focus prime lenses, a Panagor MC 28mm f/2.8 and a Pentacon 50mm f/1.8. 

Both lenses are in excellent condition and are a reminder of how useful such lenses are for shooting video with recent and current generations of hybrid cameras equipped with focus peaking. 

This morning I googled adapters for these lenses and an Australian camera accessories company came up in the search results – Gobe Corp Pty Ltd, headquartered in Byron Bay. 

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Gobe M42 to Fujifilm X-mount lens adapter.

I don’t know anything about Gobe’s products other than what is published in their website so cannot make any recommendations right now, but am pleased to note that they state that they plant five trees for every purchase made of their their products.

I will now be looking for hands-on reviews of Gobe products, especially of their fixed and variable neutral density filters, UV filters and lens adapters.

Links

  • Camera-wiki.org – Panagor– “[Jaca Corporation] are most famous for their Elicar and Panagor brand lenses, made by a variety of Japanese lens manufacturers which included Komine and Kino Precision.”
  • Gobe – website
  • 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. Multi-camera shoots are now much easier, because you are starting with a common, colour-matched baseline, meaning much less time trying to match cameras in post before starting your creative grading.
  • WikipediaPentacon – “The name Pentacon is derived from the brand Contax of Zeiss Ikon Kamerawerke in Dresden and Pentagon, as a Pentaprism for Single-Lens Reflex (SLR) cameras was for the first time developed in Dresden. The cross section of this prism has a pentagonal shape. Pentacon is best known for producing the SLR cameras of the Praktica-series as well as the medium formatcamera Pentacon Six, the Pentacon Super and various cameras of the Exa series.”

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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.

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

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  • 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
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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.”

https://creativityinnovationsuccess.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/
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?

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  • 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
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  • Veydra Mini Prime Fuji X-MountB&H

Aurora Aperture Inc.: PowerXND Mark II – The Best Variable ND Filters 1 – 11 Stops – Kickstarter Campaign

“… Schott B270® glass and high quality polarization film from Nitto Denko are used to build the PowerXND-II. Combined with a proprietary post-bonding polishing process the filters are able to meet high resolution demands of 4k/8k video and the high pixel density of modern day camera sensors. Multilayer nano coatings are utilized for light reduction, thus minimizing color shift. The PowerXND-II features high color accuracy on par with the benchmark of fixed ND filters….

Aurora Aperture PowerXND Mark II Variable Neutral Density Filters

Commentary

blackmagic_pocket_cinema_camera_4k_bmpcc4k_06_1024px_60pc
The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K by Blackmagic Design has dual native ISO like other contemporary cinema cameras and video cameras such as Panasonic’s Lumix DC-GH5S, with both base ISOs being rather high, demanding a wider range of densities in fixed or variable neutral density filters. The BMPCC 4K also requires IR-cut filtration whether built into NDs used with it or as a separate filter stacked on top.

Several days after its Kickstarter campaign launch on June 14, I accidentally come across this one for what looks to be a very promising new development in high-quality variable neutral density (VND) filters by California-Based Aurora Aperture Inc., makers of the PowerXND 2000 VND filters series.

The PowerXND 2000 VND filter with its 6mm thin frame is available in filter diameters of 37mm, 39mm, 40.5mm, 46mm, 52mm, 55mm, 58mm, 62mm, 67mm, 72mm, 77mm, 82mm, 86mm, 95mm, and 105mm.

That 105mm diameter and 6mm thickness sounds like a possible solution for STC Optical & Chemical’s Screw-in Lens Adapter for Olympus 7-14mm F2.8. for the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro wide-angle zoom lens with manual clutch focus.

My chance discovery of Aurora Aperture’s current campaign happened too late to take advantage of the Large Early Bird (67-82mm) $US 150.00 pledge for one PowerXND-II 128 and one PowerXND-II 2000 in any size including  67mm, 72mm, 77mm or 82mm.

I would have chosen one PowerXND-II 128 and one PowerXND-II 2000 in 82mm diameter to account for the native and adapted lenses with wider filter diameters that are appearing nowadays for mirrorless hybrid APS-C and Micro Four Thirds cameras including the amazing Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K by Blackmagic Design.

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Fujifilm X-H1 with Fujinon MKX 18-55mm T2.9 cinema zoom lens, with 82mm filter diameter.

Formerly I standardized on 77mm filter diameters in conjunction with Breakthrough Photography’s excellent knurled brass step-up rings but now I am upgrading to 82mm with step-up rings also made by Breakthrough Photography for use with lenses like Fujifilm’s MKX 18-55mm T2.9 and MKX 50-135mm T2.9 parfocal zooms.

Major time zone differences between where I am now – Sydney, Australia – and where many of the most interesting Kickstarter campaigns originate – the United States and less so the United Kingdom – also mean that one often misses out on early bird specials for popular products such as those by Aurora Aperture Inc.

The moral of the story? Hope that you are going to hear about exciting new products like this one early enough despite the reality of time zone differences then leap in fast to catch the earlybird offer because it will be gone within hours if not minutes.

One thing that Aurora Aperture Inc. does not cover in its press release and other information about the two PowerXND Mark II Variable Neutral Density Filters is their infrared cutting capabilities, especially important in the light of the coming Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K which does not have built-in IR-cut filtration and thus requires the use of neutral density filters with IR-cut capability, or special extra IR-cut filters to add to the filter stack on your lenses.

I enquired about this and Jeff Chen of Aurora Aperture Inc. replied thus:

Regarding the IR cut capability, we don’t have specific IR cut functionality in our filters. It’s something in our development plan and we have done some prototyping so far. We may release a line of products later this year with IR cut capability and certainly the BMPCC and BMPCC 4k are the target cameras for the products.

Good and bad news then for users of Blackmagic Design’s amazing Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K aka BMPCC 4K and its BMPCC predecessor – good in that a solution may be coming but bad in that we shall have to forgo Aurora Aperture’s current Kickstarter campaign and hope that another campaign for IR-cut capable versions of these two otherwise very attractive VND filters may eventually turn up.

Or, pledge to both versions of the PowerXND Mark II filters, IR-cut-less and IR-cut-equipped.

Given that many independent moviemakers relying on cameras by Blackmagic Design, Fujifilm and Panasonic are not exactly flush with cash, better perhaps to wait it for now if you use cameras that do and do not require an IR-cut solution.

Alternatively RAWLITE’s IR-cut OPLF may offer the optimal solution thus freeing users of the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K up to use non-IR-cut VNDs like these from Aurora Aperture.

Links

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  • Aurora Aperture filtersB&H
  • Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4KB&H
  • Fujifilm MKX18-55mm T2.9 Lens (Fuji X-Mount)B&H
  • Fujifilm MKX50-135mm T2.9 Lens (Fuji X-Mount)B&H
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  • Fujifilm X-T2 Mirrorless Digital Camera Body with Battery Grip KitB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO LensB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5S Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H

David Thorpe: A Look At The Laola [Laowa] 7.5mm f/2 Ultra Wide Lens – COMMENTARY

“It’s wide, it’s fast and it’s tiny! Laowa’s 7.5mm f/2 is a very credible addition to the ever expanding armoury of Micro Four Thirds lenses. Is it a credible buy instead of a native Micro Four Thirds wide-zoom? It’s cheaper, that’s for sure. But does the IQ match up?…”

The Venus Optics Laowa 7.5mm f/2.0 super wideangle prime lens for Micro Four Thirds cameras, equivalent to 15mm in the 35mm sensor format, great for architecture, cityscapes, close-ups, interiors, landscapes and ultra-wide scene-setting establishing shots.

Commentary

This morning I had to jump into action to shoot a small series of architectural interior photographs to send off to a potential buyer of our house and soon-to-be subdivided property in one of the most prestigious suburbs in Sydney’s upper north shore.

Our plan has always been to sell our house only if the subdivision takes far too long to complete, subject as such things are to the vagaries of bureaucracies and the availability or lack of it of consultants and tradesmen, as a last resort.

With almost every cent of our savings spoken for and the final cost of the last stage of the subdivision process of unknown cost depending on when a tradesman can be persuaded to arrive to take on the final stage and what he finds when he starts digging, we have had to suspend all new photography and video production hardware and software purchases and it really grates.

I have been wanting some wider focal lengths than 12mm (in Micro Four Thirds) or 16mm (in APS-C) both of which are equivalent to 24mm in the 35mm format, for quite some time, for architectural photography and moviemaking as well as scene-setting shots in photoessays and movies.

The optimum super wide-angle lens solutions for each or just one of those two mirrorless sensor formats that I use are neither clear nor obvious.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.9 Pro wide-angle zoom lens with STC adapter for 105mm diameter circular screw-on filters.

Choose a zoom lens and compromise on optical distortion and vignetting?

Compromise again on a variable instead of fixed maximum aperture zoom lens knowing that I find variable maximum apertures irritating when shooting video though acceptable enough when shooting stills?

And what do you do about superwide zoom lenses and some superwide prime lenses with convex front elements that make attaching protective, UV or ND filters really expensive, bulky or next-to-impossible?

One possible stop-gap solution might be an affordable, small flat-fronted manual prime like the Laowa 7.5mm f/2.0 rectilinear superwide lens.

There is nothing so annoying as shooting a figure walking through a cityscape and the lens is turning all the parallel straight lines into curves, morphing from straight to bent and back as you follow your subject.

Laowa 7.5mm f/2.0 superwide prime lens for Micro Four Thirds cameras.

The Laowa 7.5mm f/2.0, equivalent to 15mm in 35mm sensor terms, is wider than my preferred go-to superwide focal length of 10.5mm in M43, 14mm in APS-C or 21mm in 35mm format, and the Laowa has a very small filter diameter of 46mm, necessitating finding an alternative to my preferred range of top-quality knurled brass step-up rings made by Breakthrough Photography.

The smallest knurled brass step-up ring that Breakthrough makes is 49mm, but at least the company does make a 46mm X4 UV protection filter.

My second-choice brand in knurled brass step-up rings, Sensei Pro, does not appear to make a 46mm diameter step-up ring either so I am limited to my third-choice, the non-knurled but thankfully non-binding brass Heliopan, made in Germany.

It will be a two-ring solution, consisting of the Heliopan 46-77mm Step-Up Ring screwed into a 77-82mm Heliopan, 77-82mm Sensei Pro or 77-82mm Breakthrough Photography step-up ring.

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.

The lengths we sometimes must go to in order to safely attach affordable screw-on neutral density filters!

Will the Laowa’s small size permit fitting focussing fingers in behind all three parts of such an ND filter solution?

Is its optical correction enough to avoid the dreaded straight-to-bent-and-back morphing parallels?

Or do I need to consider other superwide M43 lenses such as the narrower and slower SLR Magic 8mm f/4.0 prime or Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro superwide-to-wide zoom, both of which present other ND filter-attaching problems?

Why aren’t these things straightforward and easy to solve?

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro standard zoom lens is a terrific lens but needs to be supplemented with wider or longer primes or zooms for non-standard shots or subjects.

I managed to produce an acceptable set of interior photographs with my  Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro zoom set at 12mm, my least favourite focal length for architectural and interiors photography, but at least it got the job done.

When it comes time to produce a complete set of images of this house and land once the final work is done and the council approvals – fingers crossed – come through, then I will have to do it with a much wider lens to get the feel of really being there in the interior or in the landscape rather than peering at it from a slight distance.

I would rather spend more money on Micro Four Thirds lenses and accessories right now than on APS-C gear as I need to have a well-rounded video and stills kit based on Panasonic’s Lumix Super 16/M43 cameras rather than Fujifilm’s Super 35/APS-C cameras.

Panasonic has really hit the moviemaking mark whereas Fujifilm is still playing catch-up from well behind in the video stakes and seems to have lost interest in producing more moviemaking-ready manual clutch focus primes and zooms.

Fujifilm’s X-Pro2 and X100F digital rangefinder cameras are unique in their feature sets and affordability compared to Leica’s wonderful but incredibly expensive digital rangefinders. I love making fly-on-the-wall documentary photographs with rangefinder cameras and have done so since my early days in analog photography.

Fujifilm’s strength is in stills photography with my preferred camera series being the professional digital rangefinder X-Pron (n standing for a number) and the compact digital rangefinder X100n, both of which allow me to create photographs with image design and timing that continue to elude me in EVF-based cameras like Panasonic’s.

If Fujifilm comes out with a top-quality, non-compromised EVF in the X-Pro2’s successor than I may well add one for use with prime lenses longer than 35mm and wider than 18mm, as well as all zoom lenses, making for a classic two-camera, longer plus wider prime lens kit for immersive documentary photography.

Meanwhile Panasonic goes from strength to strength with its EVF-based, DSLR-style video stills hybrids cameras, though I do have a very special fondness for its Lumix GXn rangefinder-style series with its unique tilting EVF that allows me to photograph in the style of my beloved, long-lost Rolleiflex twin lens reflex cameras.

Links

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  • Breakthrough Photography 46mm X4 Brass UV FilterB&H
  • Fujifilm XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS LensB&H
  • Fujifilm XF 14mm f/2.8 R Ultra Wide-Angle LensB&H
  • Heliopan 46-77mm Step-Up Ring (#149)B&H
  • Heliopan 77-82mm Step-Up Ring (#130)B&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO LensB&H
  • Sensei PRO 77-82mm Brass Step-Up RingB&H
  • SLR Magic 8mm f/4 LensB&H
  • Venus Optics Laowa 7.5mm f/2 MFT Lens for Micro Four ThirdsB&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.

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  • 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

News Shooter: SLR Magic Circular Fixed ND Filters Review – COMMENTARY

http://www.newsshooter.com/2017/10/26/slr-magic-circular-nd-filters/

“The most common option for shooters using still photography lenses on digital cameras that don’t have in-built ND is to use a variable ND filter, but often this can lead to compromises in image quality. Using fixed ND filters often results in better overall image quality, but it does come at the cost of convenience….”

Commentary

The esoteric arts of creating top quality neutral density filters have come to the fore again in recent months with Breakthrough Photography’s Dark CPL & X4 GND Kickstarter campaign and Formatt Hitech’s release of their new Firecrest Ultra range.

I have been relying on one of the most highly recommended variable ND filters for some time, the Genustech Eclipse ND Fader, and it has proven itself well enough in the field though its technology is now somewhat behind the times.

I default to relying on Breakthrough Photography’s excellent brass traction-framed step-up rings as well as their brass traction-framed X4 UV filters and have been pleased with their performance.

But I have resisted investing in a set of circular fixed ND filters in the range of strengths I have been considering – 2 stops, 4 stops, 6 stops, 8 stops and possibly 10 stops for shooting time lapses in the way that Griffin Hammond demonstrates.

As much as I really like Breakthrough Photography’s optics, its manufacturing quality and especially its brass traction frames, I find the company’s circular fixed ND values of 3, 6 and 10 too limiting for video and 15 stops may not be necessary unless using a high base ISO camera like the Sony a7S series.

I need to shoot video run-and-gun as well as fixed-camera, with one, two or three cameras as needed, and that means more than one set of NDs or one variable ND.

The solution Matthew Allard writes about here – “I would buy a variable ND and several fixed ND filters – probably 0.9, 1.2, 2.1 and 3.0.” – has merit and I am now seriously considering buying my own SLR Magic fixed-plus-variable ND set.

Whether 2, 4, 6 and 8 stops or 3, 5, 7 and 10 stops, or something else again, the idea of combining such a fixed ND set with a matching 10-stop maximum variable ND filter is tempting.

Links

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  • Breakthrough Photography 62mm X4 UV FilterB&H
  • Format Hitech Firecrest UltraB&H
  • Genustech 82mm Eclipse ND Fader FilterB&H
  • SLR Magic 82mm Circular Fixed ND Filter – B&H – coming soon
  • SLR Magic 82mm Image Enhancer Pro FilterB&H
  • SLR Magic 82mm Self-Locking Variable Neutral Density 0.4 to 1.8 Filter (1.3 to 6 Stops) – B&H
  • SLR Magic 86mm Image Enhancer ND Filter (4 STOP)B&H
  • Xume Magnetic Filter Adapter SystemB&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

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  • 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