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

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

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PolarPro Variable Neutral Density Filter, Peter McKinnon Edition.

“Polar Pro is slowly becoming one of my favorite companies. As with Aputure and Blackmagic Design, it seems they’re doing this crazy thing where they listen to their customers and make products that actually help people. So, that being said, the new “Peter McKinnon” branded filters are, quite frankly, super dope….

The filter is a fused, quartz glass, variable ND filter with apparently the lowest refractive index currently available….

The stop indicators are pretty rad, and they can really help you get the shot you want — perfectly exposed and consistent (as all things should be)….”

Specifications

  • Available in 2-5 and 6-9 stop variations.
  • Preset stop range eliminates any chance of cross polarization.
  • Zero vignetting down to 16mm focal length lenses.
  • Pure Fused Quartz ensures superior optical clarity over any glass on the market.
  • Includes a DefenderSlim cover for fingerprint-free installation.

PolarPro Variable ND Filter, Peter McKinnon Edition

Commentary

Variable neutral density filters aka VNDs are a mainstay of independent documentary movie production and the best are anything but cheap.

Given that one or two VNDs can replace five or more fixed density value neutral density filters, prices of the best VNDs compare well with those of sets of fixed NDs, so sticker price shock should not be a consideration if one is going for the best and most versatile production kit, one that will last for years through thick and thin.

PolarPro’s QuartzLine range of UV filters, fixed density ND filters and Circular Polarizers has been quietly satisfying the needs of drone operators, photographers and videographers with its brass traction-framed filters, and the company recently came to my attention with advance mention of a new concept in VND filters.

That new type of VND was shown off at NAB 2019, was covered by The Beat, and has been selling like crazy direct from the PolarPro online store.

I have never had the pleasure of using or seeing any PolarPro products in real life, but from what I have read they are outstanding.

I have been researching possible replacements for my ageing VND, a Genustech 77mm Eclipse ND Fader that was the most-recommended when I got back into moviemaking, and have decided to standardize on 82mm filters with step-up rings to help minimize vignetting when using them on wide lenses.

I began replacing my aluminium step-up rings with the excellent knurled brass traction frame step-up rings made by Breakthrough Photography a while ago, and have some Breakthrough Photography fixed ND, UV and CPL filters with which I am well pleased.

I discovered that brass filter frames are far less prone to binding than aluminium ones, and that knurled frames are better than non-knurled, the more knurling the better.

It was a little disappointing to learn that PolarPro’s Peter McKinnon Variable ND Filter comes with aluminium frames rather than brass ones but I am hoping for the best with their performance in the field and am waiting for reviews by well-qualified professional users to appear.

I am impressed that PolarPro has chosen to issue its VND in two densities, 2-5 and 6-9 stops, a wise move given the high base ISOs of many contemporary hybrid cameras.

Aurora-Aperture followed a similar path with its 1-7 and 4-11 VND pair while SLR Magic took another path again with its SLR Magic 82mm Self-Locking VND 0.4-1.8 plus 86mm Solid Neutral Density 1.2 Image Enhance Filter Kit providing a range of 1.3 to 10 stops with both filters combined.

The question now is going to be which pro-quality VND brand to opt for – PolarPro, Aurora-Aperture or SLR Magic?

Links

Help support ‘Untitled’

Clicking on the links below and purchasing through them or our affiliate accounts at B&H Photo Video, SmallRig or Think Tank Photo helps us continue our work for ‘Untitled’.

  • Aurora-Aperture FiltersB&H
  • Breakthrough Photography Filters and accessories – B&H
  • PolarPro QuartzLine Filters B&H
  • SLR Magic Neutral Density FiltersB&H

Kim Cruz: Panasonic 25mm 1.7 vs 42.5mm 1.7 for B ROLL- watch before buying!

“Which lens is better for b roll? Which is better for the buck? Today we’ll look at 2 highly acclaimed lenses from the M43 system in this Panasonic shootout for B ROLL!…”

Commentary

One of the many joys of Micro Four Thirds hybrid mirrorless cameras is their range of price points from affordable through to high-end and the same is true of lenses, making the M43 sensor format attractive to those of us just breaking into stills and video as well as more experienced practitioners.

While I often write about flagship M43 cameras and lenses here, I also use and value lower priced M43 gear for its affordability, smaller size and weight and its usefulness for discrete photography and b-roll video especially in multi-camera set-ups.

New vlogger Kim Cruz has recently produced some short, sharp videos about some of these affordable choices.

Lest one succumb to the commonly held belief that M43 sensor photographs cannot look as good as those from larger sensor cameras, I recommend trying out DxO PhotoLab and its companion applications for processing your M43 raw files.

I received a Panasonic Lumix G 25mm f/1.7 Aspheric prime lens with my Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 camera as part of a promotion at the time and often use it for available darkness stills and video as well as in conjunction with the GX8’s wonderful tilting electronic viewfinder aka EVF when emulating the look of my former Rolleiflex Twin Lens Reflex cameras.

Other small Micro Four Thirds prime lenses for stills and video

Links

Help support ‘Untitled’

aurora-aperture_powerxnd_2000_variable_neutral_density_filter_46mm_01_1024px_80pc
Aurora-Aperture 46mm PowerXND 2000 Variable Neutral Density 1.2 to 3.3 Filter (4 to 11 Stops)

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

  • Aurora-Aperture 37mm PowerXND 2000 Variable Neutral Density 1.2 to 3.3 Filter (4 to 11 Stops)B&H – Top quality variable neutral density aka VND filters are a great choice for fast-moving documentary cinematography as opposed to a set of fixed density neutral density filters. Small, narrow filter diameter lenses like the ones discussed by Kim Cruz in these videos can benefit from having their own native-sized VND filters attached when shooting video due to the size and weight of stacking up step-up rings to attach 77mm or 82mm ND or VND filters.
  • Aurora-Aperture 46mm PowerXND 2000 Variable Neutral Density 1.2 to 3.3 Filter (4 to 11 Stops)B&H
  • Chiaro brass UV protection filtersB&H – I recommend brass filters for lens protection as they are not susceptible to binding like many aluminium-framed filters. Chiaro makes an excellent collection of brass-framed UV filters in filter diameter sizes from 37mm through to 122mm.
  • Heliopan 37-46mm Step-Up Ring (#745)B&H – I use a variety of brass step-up rings made by Breakthrough Photography, Heliopan and Sensei Pro. Brass step-up rings are best to avoid binding but they cost and weigh a little more than aluminium step-up rings. I like Breakthrough Photography’s step-rings the best due to their unique heavily-knurled traction frame but the company does not make all the sizes you may need such as 37mm, 40.5mm and 43mm.
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17mm f/1.8 LensB&H – Filter diameter = 46mm.
  • Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 25mm f/1.4 ASPH. LensB&H– Filter diameter = 46mm.
  • Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 ASPH. POWER O.I.S. LensB&H – Filter diameter = 67mm.
  • Panasonic Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 II ASPH. Lens (Black)B&H – Equivalent in 35mm sensor terms to the 40mm “perfect normal” focal length, this pancake lens is better suited to stills photography than video but is a much-loved focal length for many movie directors and stills photographers. Filter diameter = 46mm.
  • Panasonic Lumix G 25mm f/1.7 ASPH. LensB&H – Filter diameter = 46mm.
  • Panasonic Lumix G 42.5mm f/1.7 ASPH. POWER O.I.S. LensB&H – Filter diameter = 37mm.

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.

Help support ‘Untitled’

blackmagic_pocket_cinema_camera_4k_bmpcc4k_06_1024px_60pc
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

RAWLITE: OLPF + IR-cut for BMPCC, BMMCC and BMCC 2.5K

http://rawlite.com/

“The ultimate upgrade for your Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera and Blackmagic Cinema Camera 2.5K (MFT)….

… Due to their size and image quality the BMPCC and BMMCC are widely recognized as great digital cinema camera’s [sic]. It’s now possible to get the most out of them by taking away their main weaknesses: moiré and IR contamination.

The RAWLITE IR-cut OLPF incorporates low pass layers that control the prevention of moiré. The original glass of the BMPCC and BMMCC does not have such layers….”

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Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K by Blackmagic Design, which apparently will need third party infrared-cut aka IR-cut filtration or the IR-cut OPLF solution provided by RAWLITE.

Commentary

When cinematographer John Brawley mentioned that he was investigating an IR-cut solution made by RAWLITE on the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K forum at EOSHD, I made a mental note to research the problem of infrared pollution in Blackmagic Design’s cameras and possible solutions.

I talked to a rep about the olpf at NAB and they said that they tend to not put filters on their cameras and if they do its always minor because they are obsessed with image quality. Kind of a shame in terms of IR pollution. I remember having to put my Hoya IR cut filter on every freaking lens I owned because the original pocket had such bad IR pollution. I think this cam will have the same issue. … David Altizer

Given that users of the coming Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K will need to use fixed or variable neutral density filters on lenses attached to the camera, as it does not have built-in NDs like its URSA stablemates, it would be great if all NDs came with IR-cut capability, but they do not.

As a self-funded documentary moviemaker working fast and alone on location, variable neutral density filters are a more viable option than fixed value NDs and the last thing I want to do is add yet another layer of glass and filtration on top of my VNDs as Mr Altizer describes above.

Accordingly RAWLITE’s solution may be the bee’s knees provided it produces a version for the  Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K in time for the camera’s projected release in September 2018.

Time will tell.

Links

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’.

  • Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema CameraB&H
  • Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4KB&H
  • IR-Cut filtersB&H
  • Tiffen Hot Mirror filtersB&H
  • Tiffen Water White IRND filtersB&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

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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

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 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
  • Fujifilm X-H1 Mirrorless Digital Camera Body with Battery Grip KitB&H
  • 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

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

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

Help support ‘Untitled’

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

  • 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.

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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

Blackmagic Design Announces Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro Digital Cinema Camera Plus More, Available Right Now

Innovative Australian movie and television production hardware and software company Blackmagic Design has announced an exciting new high-end digital movie camera, new colour grading hardware and the addition of two Linux distribution versions of its industry-essential high end colour grading and video editing software in its free and paid variations, DaVinci Resolve and Davinci Resolve Studio. 

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Blackmagic Design CEO Grant Petty announced the immediate availability of the URSA Mini Pro 4.6K digital cinema camera in three lens mount versions, two new colour grading hardware control surfaces in the DaVinci Resolve Micro Panel and the DaVinci Resolve Mini Panel, and the availability of DaVinci Resolve and DaVinci Resolve Studio in Red Hat and CentOS link distributions.

The URSA Mini Pro 4.6K replaces and advances beyond previous URSA cameras, the URSA and URSA Mini in their 4K and 4.6K versions. It comes in versions for three industry-standard lens mounts, B4, EF and PL, and upgrade schemes are available for owners of its predecessor cameras.

Blackmagic’s URSA Mini Pro 4.6K delivers on the promise of its URSA ancestors and is now, on the basis of specifications, an attractive and affordable camera for independent moviemakers wishing to move beyond current hybrid stills/video cameras and video camcorders into the realm of feature film quality CinemaDNG raw and ProRes image recording, trading their one-person operator status for a small crew.

The addition of the much-requested built-in ND filters boosts the allure of the URSA Mini Pro 4.6K for run-and-gun documentary videographers, while moviemakers working on less frenetic projects may wish to continue using high-end third-party neutral density filters sets attached by screwing on or via matte boxes.

Meanwhile, many independent moviemakers are wondering what has happened to the long hoped-for update to 2013’s Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, the only affordable Super 16 raw movie-shooting small Micro Four Thirds-lensed pocket camera on the market, able to be used with none to minimal rigging and without external monitor/recorder.

URSA Mini Pro 4.6K

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A Basic Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 4.6K Kit

Just a little bit bigger than the legendary Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, a basic Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 4.6K kit that may need the addition of some added extras like the Shoulder Mount Kit, spare battery pack, ergonomic hand grip, follow-focus device, more fast SD or CFast cards, matte box and more.

DaVinci Resolve Micro Panel

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DaVinci Resolve Mini Panel

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DaVinci Resolve and DaVinci Resolve Studio 12.5 for Red Hat and CentOS Linux

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Image Credits:

Header image by Carmel D. Morris with apologies to CrepusculumA.