Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mailbox: unboxing the DFocus V3

Just received my DFocus V3. First impressions: light, plasticky but solid, nice rotation with dampened friction. The big question with this product is, as far as I'm concerned, how it will stand the test of time. I'd be interested to hear from others how this thing holds after thorough use. I'll be posting a review after I've used it a few times.

Unboxing the DFocus V3 from Filmersblog on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mailbox: budget timer remote for GH2

I don't know why it was relatively hard to find a cheap intervalometer for my GH2. I was searching the forums but noticed people were spending $45 and up for a device that shouldn't cost more than 25,- (which is exactly what I paid for my remote for the Canon 550D) And they seemed to be really happy with that deal..! Was Panasonic stuff more expensive or was it just the GH2 stuff that was more expensive? Because apparently the remote that works on the GH1 doesn't work on the GH2, so I was made to understand.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mailbox: close, but no cigar

So I got myself a Pentax 6mm f1.2 for 14,99 and I'm dying to mount this thing on my Panasonic GH2. Today I got one step closer but there's about one millimeter between me and happiness. One millimeter of metal.

My C-mount to micro 4/3 adapter arrived and it's another ring like they've been showing up regularly here lately. There is a guy who does reviews of adapter rings but the only thing I can say is that it's black metal and fits my camera. But it doesn't fit my Pentax CCTV lens and that's not the adaper's fault. There is something unusual about the design of this lens and so you must modify it.

Monday, March 28, 2011

In review: Varizoom VZ-LSP shouldersupport

I thought I wouldn't use it anymore after I bought my beautiful, modular Gini rig. But the Varizoom VZ-LSP has held its ground and remains my first choice when shooting with my Sony EX1R.
The biggest advantage over the Gini rig is weight, or the lack of it I should say. The second biggest advantage is the abdomen support. The rig just sits on your abdomen and takes away a lot of strain from  the arms.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

free Final Cut Pro tutorials

I have been following FCP-guru Larry Jordan for many years. He has a voice that holds somewhere between a therapist, a hypnotist and a grandfather- very easy to listen to. Besides that, he is a knowledgeable guy with who knows how to get a message across. Even though I subscribed to his newsletter, I somehow never knew Larry had his own YouTube channel with lots of mini-tutorials. Do you know the best way to output HD to DVD? Just one example of some very valuable -and very free!- tutorials:

Saturday, March 26, 2011

My first night with the GH2

Just me, my dog and the GH2 with Panasonic pancake 20mm 1.7 during our daily (nightly) walk around the block. All of this is literally within 100 meters of my home.
It just shows to prove (or proves to show??) that the beautiful stuff is all around. But the touchscreen focus makes this possible. I would not have even attempted a lot of shots without it (or the swivel lcd for that matter)- too much hassle, can't judge focus from unusual angles.

All handheld (smoothcam filter), no grading... dancing with light!

My first night with the GH2 from Filmersblog on Vimeo.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Hands-on with the Sony NEX FS100

This really is the new type of marketing: ask a filmmaker to talk about designing a new camera and then have him sell it to his peers. I mean, the camera certainly looks promising but some comments, like "look, a headphone jack so you can monitor your audio- something we really really wanted..." (is it, really??) and "a peaking function that help you with focusing- really exciting!" (yesss, it's the latest in focus technology!!) set off my alarmbells. (And notice how they flash good ol' Philip Bloom for a sec, just for 'street credibility')

Aside from this being an obvious sales pitch, I wouldn't say no if someone shoved a FS100 in my hand for the upcoming birthday...

NEX FS 100 Video Blog from Den & James on Vimeo.

Mailbox: 15,- multicoated UV filter and 2,- step-up ring

46-52mm step-up ring with 52mm LCW variable ND filter

Luxury problem: you have several camera's and want to be able to use your lenses and filters on both of them. Enter the world of adapter rings, step-up rings, stacking and threading.
I was particularly looking for a solution to mount my 55,- LCW variable ND-filter, which I bought for my Canon 50mm 1.8, on my Panasonic pancake 20mm 1.7 The step-up ring cost me less than 2,- and thus saved me over 50,- A great solution.

Lumix pancake with Kenko multicoated UV filter

I paid 350,- for the Panasonic pancake lens and needed to protect the glass with an UV-filter. The Kenko seems to represent good value for the money: 15,- for a multicoated piece of glass. I'll post some tests later to show the affect on picture quality.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sony's answer to the Panasonic AG-AF100?

Will be around 6000,- Here's a list of the features. Another one to research, boys and girls. Here we go again!

Follow Focus on the way

I've ordered the D|Focus V3 and today I received an update that the unit is shipped. An acquaintance has had the V2 for a while and told me it is 'pretty good', especially considering the price. I figured the V3 must be better, perhaps even 'almost good'. I was looking at two Follow Focus options:

-The CineFocus R2 for around 430,- (including   shipping from England)
-The D|Focus V3 for around 160,- (including shipping from Finland. This price is only for businesses, for non-business customers you must add 24%)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

extremely short review revised

About a week ago I did an extremely short review of the small Vibesta Clamp (aka Vibesta Clamp small). I contacted the reseller,, and they sent me a new one. This one works and is what I hoped for. In combination with the articulating arm this is one great addition to my toolkit. It's small, easy to setup and holds a camera without a problem. It has two threads, one 1/4" and one 3/8". For unboxing or other types of short, simple video's I won't have to set up my tripod anymore. I can connect my camera to a shelf and get a nice birdseye view. At 24,- it's not cheap but cheaper than the nano clamp by Manfrotto. Very handy.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Buying camera's abroad

The world is our shopping mall: we don't visit the shop around the corner to buy our new camera but scour the internet to find the best deal. We research our new camera over the internet, find the most information on American websites and... wind up buying in China via eBay :-| (it 'd be interesting to see how important eBay has become for the Chinese economy...)

Monday, March 21, 2011

The one and only FlyCam

I've seen these things more and more. Remote controlled helicopters with camera's. And people using their iPhone as a controller for all sorts of flying devices, some of them also equipped with built-in camera's. This particular machine is probably way beyond budget for most of us but I am sure that in the near future we can get flying HD for the masses! Meanwhile, enjoy the ride with the one and only 'fly-cam'.

FreeFly Cinema Behind the Scenes from tabb firchau on Vimeo.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

babysitting or videoproduction...

I got suckered into re-editing my assignment 3 times, buying several types of dvd-packages that were rejected and I am now designing and printing dvd-covers which I vowed never to do again. And between every step sits around 2 weeks, which means that this assignment has been lingering for months and I haven't received a penny so far.

I thought I had my bases covered: in the contract I noted that 'the customer has a right to one editorial round' (one re-edit) and that I will deliver one master dvd. 'Customer is responsible for DVD-box and design, if desired.'

Saturday, March 19, 2011

35 mm adapter deals

A friend and colleague just snatched a Redrock M2 35mm adapter off eBay for just a few hundred bucks. That's only a fraction of the original retail price. Everyone's so hung up on DSLR's and the likes that some very nice -and practically new- pieces of gear have become 'outdated' at a rapid pace. Well, at least to some...
Others have a lot invested in their 'traditional' camera's like my friend's EX1 and are waiting for 'the generation after the DSLR's', which would be something like the Panasonic AG-AF100. But if you don't have the money yet or are waiting for something like the Red Scarlett, you can get that 35mm look for just a few hundred euro's, as opposed to spending thousands on a DSLR plus accessories. There's a lot of 35mm adapters out there and prices are getting better every day.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Sony HVR-Z1U (+ tripod) for sale

I don't intend to use these pages for classified ads but it just so happens a female friend asked me to sell an immaculate Sony Z1 for her. This camera has extremely low hours, 150 hours tape run, and looks like it came straight out of the box. A great camera, a workhorse that is NTSC/PAL switchable and shoots HDV and DV (DVCAM and mini-DV).

The camera comes with a Kata bag, a Manfrotto 755B tripod with Manfrotto 501 head, 10 Sony HDV tapes (factory sealed), 2 cleaning tapes, a Sony HVL-20DW2 camera light and 4 NP-F750 Li-ion 4000mAh batteries (replacements). Manual, component & composite cables, remote control and ac adapter/charger are all included, as well as the training DVD  'A Complete Guide to the HVR-Z1U' with over 100 minutes of instructions and tips.

Extremely short review of Vibesta Clamp 'small'

The Vibesta clamp fell apart the first time I used it
It sucks.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Frozen fingers refuse service (part 2)

A few months ago I wrote about my fingers practically being frozen during a shoot out on the water. A few days after this shoot I noticed someone who was wearing gloves that were designed to allow control over equipment like phones or... camera's! It was my new discovery for shooting in the cold: filmers' gloves. (photographers probably have known them for ages) The fingerpart of the gloves can be removed to allow control over the buttons and scrollwheels. I bought a pair but regretted not buying the ones whereby you can also remove the thumb. The thumb is crucial! (but I was cheap and didn't want to spend the extra 20,- for a removable thumb)
For those who might need a pair: this store sells the ones with removable thumbs for a special price. Even including shipping across Europe it's still 10,- cheaper than the 35,- they ask here in Holland. Within Germany it's only 5,- shipping.
Get them while it's cold!

Magic Lantern update: Live View via HDMI!

The wizards from Magic Lantern have done a lot of 'magic' for us Canon 550D/T2i owners, but now a new release of ML has succeeded in realizing what to me was a great omission: being able to use all the nice features of Magic Lantern AND being able to focus via my Lilliput monitor at the same time. I have just downloaded and installed the latest ML update and HDMI-out works!
There is even an experimental peaking function which, at this point, is too 'rough' to be useful. But it shows that anything is possible as long as you put enough time and energy into developing the software. Kudos to everyone who has made this possible! (I will make a donation.)

Out of focus
Experimental Peaking Function

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mailbox: a 6mm 1.2 for 14,99!

I read about the possibilities of adjusting a Pentax 6mm f1.2 to fit the Panasonic GH2 and use it in crop mode. That's a wide, fast lens and that usually means big bucks. In this case the writer mentioned a 9,99 pricepoint and that's a deal even the most deprived of filmers can afford.
There were more great deals to be found for this lens, the author said, but, as these things go, word spreads fast and many of the really cheap 6mm's were gone in the blink of an eye. But with a little bit of searching on national eBay-sites, I found a German seller who was selling a whole batch of them. It wasn't 9,99 but at 23,- incl shipping still a decent deal. These lenses are B-stock which means they could have imperfections.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Review: cheap power

I really like the fact that the latest generation of accessories like lights and monitors facilitate the use of camera batteries. Many of us have a lot of spare batteries for their camera(s) and it is nice to be able to click one onto a light and have more power than AA-batteries can provide. Ever since I own a LED Z96 light, I have used it with my Sony L-series batteries. In the meanwhile, I have sold my Z1 but I kept one heavy duty L-series battery and the small NP-F570 that came with the camera. (which I alway considered useless since it wouldn't last more than 45 minutes) After I received my led-light, this little battery started a new life and has served me well.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Mailbox: power from Germany

Just for the name you should get this one: the Voltcraft Steckernetzger├Ąt. (The German language sometimes sounds like good pastry or juicy sausages) It's less than half the price (26,-) of the overpriced Panasonic ac adapter and I can hereby confirm that it works perfectly in combination with the DC Coupler.

Conrad Electronics went totally nuts with the foam and box (it's an adapter, not a Swarovski egg) but at least they take their packaging seriously.

I know why I bought this!

A few days ago my C-shaped bracket arrived from mister Ming in Hong Kong and I had no idea why I had ordered it. There was nothing wrong with the product, as a matter of fact, it was a neat, solid little contraption, but I was positive this item was heading straight for the bottom drawer, not to reappear for many years to come.
But then  I started to play with it, disassemble it, and there suddenly was the solution for mounting both a lamp AND wireless receiver to my Sony EX1R. Why didn't I see that right away? Who cares! I'm one happy shooter and I still have half of the bracket left! Seems like this story is to be continued...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I owed you one

The day before yesterday I showed off my new prime lens collection minus one: the Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 25mm f4. So here goes: she's got the stage all to herself. The Lego trainset was still out on the floor so I put on my conductor's cap back on and blew the whistle. It's not quite as smooth as a Konova slider, but a lot longer! Here's to boys and their toys...

I owed you one: back on track from Filmersblog on Vimeo.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Mailbox: an adapter for my prime lenses!

Now I'm finally able to mount my set of prime lenses both on my Canon 550 and the Panasonic GH2! Received my M42 to micro 4/3 adapter and it mounted to my camera and to the 5,- Raynox 25mm without a problem. Awkward that I paid 5 times as much for the adapter than I did for the lens...

Friday, March 11, 2011

Mailbox: a strong arm

I received another package from mister Wong Mai Ming today from Hong Kong. (no relation, no business interest) Whereas the day before yesterday I had no clue as to why I bought the item (a C-shaped bracket), today I am very content with my new purchase.

It is an all-metal articulating arm which is definitely not a cheap copycat of a product. On the contrary, I believe this is exactly the same product that is being sold by major US companies for much, much more. I have owned and been a fan of the Manfrotto Magic Arm for many years and I think it should be part of everyone's kit. Whether it is for mounting a camera, a light or whatever in unusual places, this arm does the job.

Now there is this baby version, about 30 cm long. Twist one knob and it secures all joints. Combine this with the nano clamp and you are very close to owning a Magic Arm mini. Cheesycam has a little video on the articulating arm. This 'baby' sells for 79 to 99 dollars in many places, but I paid 44 dollars including shipping. Great deal.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

My new prime lens collection

So you have a new set of lenses and the first thing that comes to mind is to take out the Lego trainset, strategically place assorted Toy Story, Teletubbie and other fantasy figures around the tracks and start filming. So that's what I did. I actually left out one lens that is part of this 'set': the Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 25mm f4 because I couldn't find it. So I owe you one.
No grading, no CC. Everything shot on a Canon 550D.

My new prime lens collection from Filmersblog on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Mailbox: why did I buy this?

What was I thinking when I ordered this item from mister Wong Wai Ming in Hong Kong? Perhaps I thought I could use it as a handheld stabilizer for low-angle shots. Maybe it was the solid, friendly round design that charmed me. Or the coldshoe mounts- I'm a sucker for coldshoes. (After a year of owning it, I still haven't mounted a second coldshoe on my Sony EX1R for my wireless receiver...)
Maybe I had the ludicrous thought that I could add the C-shaped bracket to my Gini-rig. Perhaps I wanted to use it for parts. Or was it just the fact that it was only US $12,80 including shipping from China?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sharp lens, watch the cut

Finally able to play with my GH2, Canon 50mm 1.4 since I received my FD to micro 4/3 adapter yesterday. This a very sharp lens and so is the subject matter. Shot at 720P, no grading, no injuries.

Sharp lens, watch the cut from on Vimeo.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Mailbox: an adapter for my Canon FD 50mm!

From somewhere between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, a Russian Israeli by the name of Alexander Shkolnikov sent me a brown envelope containing a black metal ring. Today it dropped on my doormat in Amsterdam, I opened it, photographed it and connected it to my GH2. A small chain of events which, because I chose to write about it, will not go unnoticed. (And that was my contemplation for the day.)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Stop! Adapter madness

I have 20+ fixed adapters lying around and none of them output 8.4v. I have one 'universal adapter' that outputs from 1.5v to 12v in steps of 1.5. No 8.4v option. Panasonic charges around 55 euro's for their 8.4v AC adapter. Why 8.4v?
I went to several different electronic stores and they roll their eyes when you say you're looking for an adapter that outputs 8.4v. "No, we don't carry that. It's a very unusual output voltage. Why do you think Panasonic made one different from all the others? So you'd have to buy theirs! Har har har!"

Saturday, March 5, 2011

On the job

Live from Zwolle, central Holland. There goes my weekend- all day 2
camera shoot for training institute.

Lav mic went off the air 15 minutes into recording... 20 minutes
later and 5 channels later it worked again, thank god.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Greedy & ignorant

That headline applied to me just yesterday. I walked by this giant thriftstore and there is all this delicious junk, used furniture, surplus inventory and entire households lying around like a huge yardsale. And there in a corner is a neat glass display that contains jewelry, porcelain, watches and other 'precious objects'. I naturally gravitate towards the case and instantly spot the familiar and most desirable black metal shafts: 'lens alert!'

Thursday, March 3, 2011

True 24P out of the Panasonic GH2

24P out of the GH2 is wrapped in a 50i container, if I have read well. Now I'm not the most technical of persons. As long as it works I don't have to know how or why. But luckily for me and and many others like me, there are users and consumers very much involved in the inner workings of the soft and hardware that make up our cameras.
They know that these camera's can do better and they set out to prove it. Now someone has been able to figure out a way to record true 24P through HDMI onto an external recorder. It's a big deal, not necessarily because you get a much cleaner image but because it opens the door to many more possibilities on the GH2: the camera is not the impenetrable vault everyone thought it was. Here's the thread discussing this new development:

Extra install instructions for new Konova Slider

Just received some install adjustment instructions for the new Konova slider. Apparently this does not ship with the 4 bearing slider, at least it didn't with mine. So for all you new Konova slider owners, just print or copy and paste the jpeg.
Obviously they didn't get to printing the new set of instructions yet, neither did they employ a translator. (Except for 'Good' and 'Bad') But hey, considering the economic shift to the East, maybe we should all take up Korean and Chinese. That's a market of 1,5 billion people- 20% of the world's population, and growing.. Can you imagine the amount of movies that are just waiting to be produced?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Zooming in on a Follow Focus

Cinefocus R2
I've got several nice camera's, a beautiful Gini rig, a Lilliput monitor, a sleek set of lenses... so what's missing? A follow focus system. I love the touchscreen focus feature on my GH2 in combination with the pancake 20mm 1.7 but that's not going to work with my old prime Carl Zeiss and Meijer-Optik lenses.
My lenses have fixed gear rings so I could focus manually, I mean literally, by getting my right hand to the lens but I just don't see that happening smoothly. Try to keep a relatively heavy rig balanced with one arm while turning the focusring... nah, I don't think so. And even the follow focus is not going to solve the problem of having to let go of one handgrip. But it will be easier to access and make fine focusing a breeze.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

McDictate Speech: godsend for documentary makers

A few years ago I finished my first feature documentary which I directed and for which I did the camerawork. My 70-year old mother did the research and together we edited the film. (along with a very capable film and documentary editor) We co-produced this no-budget doc and although it was selected for the Dutch Film Festival and aired on a major Public Broadcaster, we did not even break even. But I'm not complaining- the film is here and here to stay.
Since there was no money, we did everything ourselves: preproduction, production and in postproduction we were thankfully assisted by aforementioned editor.

Filmersblog is going English

To regular visitors it won't come as a big surprise and parts of the content of this blog were already in English, but now it's officially formal, final & approved by the Board of Trustees and the shareholders committee: filmersblog is going English.  It wasn't an easy decision because I started this blog primarily aimed at the Dutch market and I wanted to create a unique place for Dutch video and filmmakers.

But since half of my visitors are from all over the world and the language of filmmakers is a) visual and b) English, there really is no use going on in Dutch. For those who want to continue reading the articles in Dutch -or any language other than English- there is a translation button on the blog. (and if you have questions and/or would like to communicate in Dutch, you can always contact me personally)
The blog remains the same in sharing its passion for solid gear, good deals and videoproduction in general. Bless you.