Saturday, April 30, 2011

Photos by the filmlens

Took the Taylor & Hobson (actually: Taylor, Taylor & Hobson) out for a spin yesterday and came back with a lot of under and overexposed pictures. Like all these XS (that is: extra small) buggers it's a tough lens to handle and taking stills with the GH2 is still a bit of trial and error. I don't know if I somehow changed a setting but the LCD screen is pumping from dark to light (in 'M' mode) and I don't know what's causing it.
Anyway, some of the photos have that really sweet swirley bokeh. Love it or hate it...

Friday, April 29, 2011

Mailbox: filmlens super comat f1.9 Taylor Hobson

I received another interesting lens today, from Salem, Oregon, USA: a filmlens, 1 inch f1.9 super comat by Taylor, Taylor & Hobson. It's mechanically in great shape, aperture and focus rings run very smoothly, lens looks fine. It's obviously old and has some cosmetic dents and scratches but that only adds to its character. Just wondering: is it possible to get a ND-filter on this one? I'm going to start taking pictures and report back soon!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Video with the 60,- Vivitar zoomlens

I've been taking some photographs with the Canon 550D/Vivitar 70-210 and it was time to shoot some proper video with it. After some failed attempts at recording moving images (shaking portable tripod, forgetting memorycard, no LCD viewfinder) I finally got around to taking along my heavy Manfrotto sticks and all the necessary accessories.

Canon 550D and Vivitar series 1, 70-210mm f3.5 from Filmersblog on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mailbox: 3,- lens gear twist jar opener

a very small jar opener on a very small lens
A few months ago I watched a video about a great find by Tony Carretti in a GH2 Vimeo group. He ran across some US $3,99 twist jar openers that you could use as a type of focus-gear. I contacted my father in the States and sent him out on the hunt for these little devices. It took him 3 stores to find a place that had them in stock and he was finally able to send them to me. Everything great, except that he grabbed size Small. I am not going to tell him after all his efforts but I was a little disappointed when I opened the envelope and found these diminuative pieces of rubber... These were not going to fit my lenses.
But at second thought, the small rubbers (!) actually came in very handy. I've purchased several small to extra-small C mount lenses in the last month and the big jar openers would not have worked on them. These little guys are ideal; without them some C mount lenses would be impossible to focus during shooting. I'll get myself some extra jar openers when I visit the States this summer and make sure they are Large.

Twist jar openers XS

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Footage of the Cosmicar-for-Bolex 25mm 1.4

Here's a little something I shot in the park with my recently acquired Cosmicar-for-Bolex lens. Excuse the shakes, it's all handheld. The second shot of the bike is with the 1:1 crop. Really like this lens: sharp, nice bokeh and colors. Obvious vignetting when stopping down. Really looking forward to shooting downtown with this lens (including a tripod). But when?! Anyone out there want to pay me for 2 weeks of carefree test-shooting?

Panasonic GH2 + Cosmicar 25mm f1.4 from Filmersblog on Vimeo.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Beautiful budgetlens: Vivitar 70-210mm 3.5 (series 1)

Last year I paid 65,- for this lens, including the original leather lenspouch, ND-filter, manual and shipping from the States. This is one heavyweight lens, especially after working with all these 50mm lenses. It's a zoomlens with a macro-function. Here are some pictures with the Vivitar mounted on the 550D: beautiful color, saturation and bokeh, sharp but not harsh. Jeez, I sound like a wine-connaisseur... (click on pics for large view)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Crap or class? The 4,- Meyer-Optik Domiplan 50mm 2.8

I've read opinions on this lens ranging from 'pure crap, avoid' to 'suprisingly nice lens'. The nice thing about lenses is that there is no absolute truth to how good or bad a lens is. Aside from its technical and build qualities, everyone can have an opinion on how well a lens works for them.
In my case, for 4,- I really can't go wrong with the Meyer-Optik Gorlitz Domiplan 50mm 2.8. 4 euro's money doesn't even cover the material that it's made from. It's a very short lens and it is not the most easy glass to handle -it's easy to inadvertently change aperture while focusing- but I like the fact that it's light and compact. Anyhow, here's a few snapshots I made with this ultra-budget prime lens. (click on photo for large view)


Friday, April 22, 2011

Mailbox: Mamiya-Sekor 50mm 1.2

I need another prime 50mm lens like I need a hole in my head. Actually, there's a hole in my wallet- and it needs to be stuffed. A modest hole because I paid 18,- for this lens. I found it on an online marketplace and even though the seller lives in another part of Amsterdam, I asked him to send it to me because I'm short on time. The guy sends me a crushproof, customized cardbox filled with newspaper and the lens is wrapped in bubble plastic in a beautiful leather pouch. And a screw-on sunshade is also included. It is heartwarming to see how people can take pride in their merchandize, no matter the value. It makes the lens even more special.

Why did I buy it? Because I saw some great photo's people had taken with it. (I know, the lens doesn't make the photographer, or filmer, but it can be inspiring...) And because I liked the look. It was cheap. I'm not just buying mind you. I'm shooting a lot of pictures. Most of it is crap but there are some beauties. I'm learning a lot about photography; skills that I can apply to my videowork as well. It's interesting to see how much these two are alike and yet completely different. Got some great shots with my Vivitar Series 1, 70-210mm, f3.5. A beautiful budget lens. Will post them soon.

Mailbox: television lens, Cosmicar 25mm 1.4

I'm going a little nuts with the lens business. A buying frenzy has taken possesion of me but I promise this is the last one in this series of C-mount 16mm lenses. (there's just 2 more coming from the States- a birthday present from my wife! although she doens't know it yet...)
This Cosmicar-for-Bolex lens is a 25mm 1.4 version and in absolute pristine condition. It produces this wild, swirly bokeh. Can't wait to shoot video with it on my GH2.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Great film, no money

I am Innocent
In december 2008 my filmpartner and I decided to make a film on a Nigerian young man who took on the fate of his village on his shoulders. He left his hometown, his brothers, sisters and ailing father to embark on a journey of which the outcome was uncertain. His goal: money for a pump, drinking water for the people his village. His travel budget: 5 dollars.
This very naieve yet very determined boy learned the ways of the world quickly: he got sick, exploited, incarcerated and abused. After traveling three continents, he found a new home in Holland. Together with a former boxer turned lawyer his luck started to turn and a remarkable story of succes unfolded. The young Nigerian by the name of Innocent boxed his way to money and recognition. But would he remain focussed in his quest for the world boxing title or would the very same fame he pursued all these years be the cause of his downfall?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pics by a 4,- lens: the Petri 28mm 2.8

I walked out yesterday with the Canon 550D with the 4,- 28mm lens mounted to it and realized too late I had forgotten my LCD viewfinder. Since 'summer' has hit Amsterdam a few days ago, light is bursting through every crack of the city and overexposing everything and everyone. Nobody's complaining, mind ya... We usually don't see this weather before June.
But it was impossible to judge exposure without an LCD viewfinder. And I didn't have the right size ND-filter. Here's nonetheless a few pics I took (click on them for larger size).

On the waterfront

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The next 4,- lens

As mentioned in a previous post a few days ago, I bought 6 lenses for a smashing total of 25 euro's just to see what these 'dump-priced' lenses are capable of. I am new to the 'wonderful world of lenses' and I am very attracted to the whole concept of aesthetic subtleties, the way one piece of glass treats light differently than the other and how that affects sharpness, color and bokeh. (the 'bokeh' phenomenon in and of itself is worth an essay all by itself: the mystical word, the way it occurs, the followers and haters of its varying appearances...) But also: the build of the lens itself. The differences and similarities between the way they were manufactured 10 or 50 or 100 years ago. And how old, useless lenses become hot items.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Same lens, different camera: Panasonic GH2 & Canon 550D compared

I did a practical comparison between the Canon 550D and the Panasonic DMC-GH2. I took along five prime lenses and a tripod and set up both cameras with comparable settings, composition. Alternated camera's with the same lens. Everything was shot in 720p because for all practical purposes that's what I use most. Canon was set to ISO 100 and the Panasonic to 160. Mounted with the Carl Zeiss 25mm and 20mm f4 I upped both to ISO 200. Both were wide open, white balance was set to 6000K. Shutter at 50. Canon sat higher on the tripod because of a batterygrip, therefore a somewhat different perspective which is not solely due to difference in 'cropfactor'.(Canon 1.6 vs Panasonic 2.1)

Canon 550D/T2i & Panasonic DMC-GH2 comparison from Filmersblog on Vimeo.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Coming up: Panasonic DMC-GH2 & Canon 550D compared

I shot some footage with the Canon 550D and the Panasonic GH2 using several different lenses from my recently purchased prime lens collection. Tomorrow I will post my findings in the form of a short video on the blog. For starter's here's a frame from both camera's.



Saturday, April 16, 2011

4,- for a prime 50mm 1.8

There's fewer and fewer of these little secondhand shops; usually run by elderly hobbyists that make a few (extra) bucks by selling vintage stuff. This store in Amsterdam specializes in old photographic equipment and (8mm) filmprojectors. I believe this shop is one of the few in Europe that has a generous stock of spare light bulbs for 8mm projectors.
He also has boxes full of lenses, old Pentax camera's, spare caps, straps, filters and one giant 35 mm projector (100 kilogram?) that will most likely never leave the shop. And it's all crammed up till the ceiling and organized in a way that only the proprietor will ever understand. And sometimes even he has no idea...

Friday, April 15, 2011

Mailbox: ziptie gear rings

I received my gear rings today from Simple as can be. I got them in four sizes: S, M, M+, L. 4 plastic gear rings and 5 zip ties. (2 for the L gear ring) An invoice but no instruction sheet. These are budget gears but I find 10,- for a plastic ring still quite a bit of money. I understand we are paying mostly for research & development but still... if they were 5,- a piece it would have felt right and I would have bought ten or so. For the material and shipping it wouldn't make a difference.

S, M, M+, L

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Mailbox: is there a lens in this envelope?

I bought a 25mm f1.2 CCTV lens for 35 euro's and when I had to sign for an envelope, the last thing I thought was in there was a lens! This thing is so small and yet so light sensitive- how do they do that? It came with an adapter plus an adapter-for-the-adapter?! I tried mounting it with the two adapters but it wouldn't focus. When I just used the big adapter ring, it worked. The focus ring has no stop for infinity so you can just turn it around infinitely(!). On the aperture ring it just says 'open' and 'close' and there is a hard stop on both ends.
Vignetting is obvious when you open the lens up and disappears in crop mode on the GH2. I think for such a toy lens it produces nice images. Here's a few test shots I made. I'll try to post some night shots as well.

25mm 1.2 CCTV lens from Filmersblog on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Final Cut Pro Ten (skip 8 and 9)

Yes, it's here, it's 64-bit, it's black, it's a lot of what people had hoped for and it's $299,- (available in June!)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Best budget LCD viewfinder?

I've not been very satisfied with my viewfinder for my 550D/T2i, mainly because it keeps falling off the metal frame. And the metal frame itself also fell off, but maybe I should have let it dry longer before I first used it. Still, the loop clicking onto the frame by way of magnets is not a very solid solution.
But this little guy seems to have covered it right. The viewfinder is held in place by a click-system, it is a screenprotector, 3 x magnification, diopter adjustment, flip the viewfinder up for normal view (but with sunshade) and what seems to be allround good build quality. Shipped home for US $65,- Nice.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Bicycles: part 2

We made it to the coast. A beautiful day for biking


Great word, actually: bicycles. (Before the bicycle was the 'monocycle') I only know the bicycle; I'm from Holland. We are a nation of bicyclists. As a matter of fact, as I am writing this, I am wearing my racerbike-outfit. In 20 minutes time I'll be on my bike riding 70-80 kilometers to the coast with a few friends.

Just came across this trailer for a doc about how bikes change a nation. Shot with a Canon 550D/T2i and a Panasonic HPX-170. These guys had next to no budget, travelled out to Nicaragua and shot what looks to be a beautiful story. Read more about the gear and the way they pulled this off.

The Bicycle City. Trailer from Greg Sucharew on Vimeo.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A new & stable FCP on April 12?

About 6 months ago I bought a new Mac Pro, upgraded to the latest Final Cut Studio and was ready to start enjoying my lightening-fast editing monster. It's not been the ecstatic ride I was looking forward to, to say the least.

Final Cut Pro has crashed on me more in the last 6 months than in a few years before. What is it: the software, the hardware? Is it FCP or Snow Leopard, the combination? Is it my videocard, the memory?

Friday, April 8, 2011

35 euros: 25 mm f 1.2 lens on the way

I was looking for experiences from others in regards to mounting my 6mm f1.2 lens to my Panasonic GH2 when I came across another CCTV lens, a 25mm f1.2 including adapter and shipping, for only 35 euros. Pictures that were taken with the lens looked really nice and the seller told me I could mount this directly to my GH2. No drilling, shaving or machining! So I ordered it, out of curiosity. Will post footage as soon as I have it! Here's some still images made with this lens:

Thursday, April 7, 2011


I survived last night, a film/edit session for a large corporation. After a week of soulsearching with an external organization around 20 managers were given the assignment to make a film about leadership.
My task was to help them shape their ideas, give basic camera instructions and edit their footage. We started brainstorming at 9 am, they came back with footage at 4 pm and I had finished my film at midnight. My 3 colleagues were less fortunate and edited untill 5 am. (disaster: my roommate in the hotel had just finished rendering the film at 5 am, was about to go up to the hotelroom when he discovered a text error. It took another hour to re-render...)
The viewing and evaluation took place this morning. My team was extremely happy with the film- as were the others with their films, for that matter.So I'm back home, tired but content. Looking forward to a shave.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Edit marathon

Here we are in à hotel in Amsterdam: 4 editors waiting for 4 film
teams to return with their assignment. A job for a big corporation.
Hopefully we'll have a film at 3 AM!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Who needs new camera's anyway?

Often we're so caught up in the peripheral stuff that we spend too little time doing what we should be doing: filming. I am the first one to plead guilty. One of these peripheral things is this blog. And the gear, the technical stuff, the gadgets. It gobbles up disproportionate amounts of my time.
And then you see something that was shot on a Canon HV20 (I could have sworn it was a DSLR) and it looks stunning and blows away footage shot with the newest gear 5 times the price. And I think: I still have a HV20 lying around and I have always used it for B-roll. If I would have explored more of this camera, I could have done so much more with it. Many of us have too many options, it distracts from the core. It is is true, it is cliché and it needs to be repeated like a chant: less not only is more, less will bring you more. So here's something shot with the 'obsolete' Canon HV20:

MACRONATURE from monso on Vimeo.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Who needs dvd's, anyway?

For the first time in years(!) I have to deliver a video on dvd. Yes, I have burned the occasional dvd but almost all of my work is delivered as webfilm, in quicktime. This client wants 25 dvd's, too small a number to go to the shop so I burn it myself. Real old-fashioned handmade dvd's.
I burn 25 of them and test a few on my standalone dvd-player (which has become obsolete since I got my WD Mediaplayer 2 years ago). I also play them on my Mac and Windows PC. All is well.
I give the dvd's to my client, who gave it to hér boss to view it at home. He returns the dvd saying it doesn't play well: the lower thirds with his name & title are cut off horizontally. I ask for the dvd so I can check if it's bad. I insert it into my dvd-player and it plays fine, as expected. Then I decide to try to recreate the problem and all becomes clear when I set the dvd-player to display 4:3. It cuts off the picture exactly where he told us.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Just came across a stunning piece of photo/video journalism. A trailer, a pitch, a teaser or whatever you want to call it, for a 'crowdfunding' project; a term that has reached my eyes for the first time today. People on the internet decide whether or not they find your project interesting enough to donate money to, starting at US $10,-.

Sin & Salvation in Baptist Town-by Matt from on Vimeo.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Gear rings on the cheap (relatively speaking)

I never understood why a focus ring has to cost ridiculous amounts of money. Even the rings from the manufacturer of my budget follow focus, DFocus, makes focus rings that cost 30,- albeit that one size supposedly fits all (lenses). But ideally you don't want to mess with taking them off and readjusting them to a new lens every time you go out for a shoot.
So you basically want effective and affordable gear rings. Enter Half Inch Rails with their zip-tie solution. 40,- for a set of 4 gear rings. Just placed an order.

HIR Zip Tie Focus Gear from Sam Morgan Moore on Vimeo.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Byebye trusted mate

After years of great service the time has come to say goodbye to a great travelmate, a trusted partner and protector of my greatest assets. We have crossed great distances together, withstood the rains, kept eachother company in trains, planes and automobiles but now are roads will separate.
It feels somewhat blasphemous to let him go and I would love to keep him until he meets his final resting place, but this house is too small for him and all of his colleagues. One of them has to go. The Petrol PCUB-1N camerabag will start a new life elsewhere and will assist his new owner for many years to come. Bye bye, trusted bag. You have served me well. May good care carry you far into the future. And may you carry great camera's in return.