Indy Mogul: ULTIMATE BUYER’S GUIDE to ND Filters

“… 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. …”

Breakthrough Photography’s brass traction-framed ND and other filters 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.

Commentary

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Paul Leeming’s stripped-down Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K aka BMPCC 4K rig with 8Sinn cage, Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 zoom lens, Metabones Speed Booster, Kenko aluminium step-up ring, Xume magnetic filter attachment system and Formatt Hitech Firecrest Ultra fixed neutral density filter.

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

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 filtersB&H
  • Formatt Hitech Firecrest Ultra filtersB&H
  • Genustech filtersB&H
  • Heliopan step-up ringsB&H
  • Sensei Pro step-up ringsB&H
  • Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art Lens for Canon EFB&H

Noam Kroll: Battle Of The 4K Mirrorless Cinema Cameras – Blackmagic Pocket Camera 4K, Canon EOS R, Fuji XT3

http://noamkroll.com/battle-of-the-4k-mirrorless-cinema-cameras-blackmagic-pocket-camera-4k-canon-eos-r-fuji-xt3/

“Several new mirrorless cameras were released or announced in recent weeks, including Blackmagic’s new Pocket Cinema Camera 4K, Canon’s EOS R, and Fuji’s XT3. All three cameras are clearly of interest to many filmmakers right now, so I wanted to share my two cents on them below.

… I have however, done some tests with Blackmagic’s new RAW codec, and will be sharing the results here on the blog this week.

But with regards to the new releases from BMD, Canon, and Fuji, what I’m going to outline below are simply my first impressions. I’ll aim to do follow up articles on each camera in more depth in the future, so if that’s something you would like to see, please let me know!…”

Commentary

Noam Kroll is one of the most-trusted sources for good, hard, reliable facts, insights and opinions on independent feature film moviemaking.

I am very much looking forward to reading his coming hands-on articles about the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K, Canon EOS R and Fujifilm X-T3 mirrorless hybrid stills/video cameras for use in movie production.

Links

Help support ‘Untitled’

Clicking on these affiliate links and purchasing through them helps us continue our work for ‘Untitled’.

  • Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4KB&H
  • Canon EOS R Mirrorless Digital CameraB&H
  • Fujifilm X-T3 Mirrorless Digital CameraB&H

MindShift Gear: MindShift Gear’s “Exposure” Shoulder Bags Offer the Ultimate in Durability and Weather Protection for Outdoor Photographers

https://www.thinktankphoto.com/blogs/news-events/mindshift-gear-s-exposure-shoulder-bags-offer-the-ultimate-in-durability-and-weather-protection-for-outdoor-photographers

“There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear. MindShift Gear’s new Exposure shoulder bags are storm-resistant carrying solutions for the active photographer in virtually any outdoor environment. Built with high performance waterproof sailcloth panels, strategically placed storm flaps, water-repellent DWR fabric, and a sturdy Tarpaulin bottom; the Exposure protects camera gear from the elements and withstands the rigors of adventure photography. And, with its cross-body stabilizer strap, the Exposure moves with you while you’re active or is removable for more causal environments.  A waterproof rain cover is included when it’s time to put the camera away and hunker down….”

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MindShift Gear Exposure 13 and Exposure 15 storm-resistant shoulder bags for outdoor photographers and moviemakers using mirrorless and DSLR gear.

MindShift Gear Exposure 15

Commentary

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Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K (BMPCC 4K) with Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro zoom lens with manual clutch focus, great for manual focussing. I like the longer image-stabilized Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f/4.0 IS Pro travel zoom for available light daytime walkabout for video and stills supplemented with faster M.Zuiko Pro f/1.2 prime lenses for available darkness work.

Just when I was contemplating what lenses and accessories might be needed to effectively carry and operate the amazing new Blackmagic Design Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K aka BMPCC 4K, this press release arrived from camera bag and backpack maker Think Tank Photo.

Think Tank’s MindShift Gear brand is specially intended for outdoor adventurers who photograph and make movies in all sorts of weather and all kinds of locations, through thick or thin, whether in natural or in my case urban environments.

The game-changing, to use an already overused cliché, BMPCC 4K portable cinema camera does not appear to be weather-resistant so may need transporting in the field in weather-resistant, storm-resistant bags and backpacks along with the equally sensitive equipment needed to make the most of its high end video production capabilities.

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Røde NT-SF1 Soundfield microphone, core of Røde’s ambisonic hardware and software system and potentially great supplementary audio-recording and post-production solution for shooting video with the BMPCC 4K. Will the final version of this microphone be mountable on top of the BMPCC 4K?

Shooting and carrying out initial post-production or DIT (digital imaging technician) duties on BMPCC 4K video footage in the field has certain workflow and hardware demands, and if choosing a shoulder bag rather than backpack then the bag itself should be large enough and protective enough for 15-inch portable computer, SSD or HDD drives and other media, audio recorders and microphones, lenses, color checker or grey card for white balance, small grip items and a portable video tripod as needed.

Accordingly, it would appear that the MindShift Gear 15 may be the best choice of the two MindShift Gear Exposure shoulder bags when using the BMPCC 4K.

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Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K (BMPCC 4K) dimensions, imperial, camera only.

At 7 inches wide and with a sloping 5-inch rear touchscreen display, the BMPCC 4K has an unusual shape and size as well as accessory demands, so I will be putting that hypothesis to the test in another article where I look at its actual dimensions as well as an ideal kit of accessories, supplies and lenses for mobile indie documentary work in the field.

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’.

  • Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4KB&H
  • MindShift Gear Exposure 15 Shoulder BagB&H
  • Think Tank Photo – please use this affiliate account link when browsing the Think Tank Photo and MindShift gear websites and if purchasing direct from them.