Why is M43 “Ready to Rumble”?

As a professional image-maker, I want to say that my objective is to deliver images to my clients that satisfy their needs and help to communicate the message that they want delivered. It may not be common knowledge, but client-guided, copy/headline writers more often than not drive what visuals will be created. Based on this, a lot of pre-planning (creative, stylistic and production) is done to capture the image(s) as quickly and competently as possible. While changes can and do occur on set, the objective is to deliver an image(s) that matches or exceeds a client’s imagination and expectation.

I also want to convey that I am not a gearhead, but a guy who uses gear professionally to create visual images. I have been a commercial shooter for over 44 years and shoot in manual focus more than 70% of the time. I want my gear to get out of my way so I can concentrate on the job at hand. If I am interrupted by my gear, I am distracted from the final image. I like seamless operation and stuff that just works. And though I like improvements in image quality as much as the next guy or gal, the quality of the pixels has been so good for so long, that discussions about “A” being better than “B” is time better spent improving creativity, craft and/or technique (all three, perhaps?).

With the above sentiments in mind, why is M43 “Ready to Rumble”? Simply stated, because it helps to facilitate (in a highly compact and light-weight form) image creation that satisfies the most demanding profession requirements….

Now to address the images I posted last week –

It might seem counter-intuitive, but the in studio set up was shot in high resolution capture on the Lumix G9 (using the Olympus 17mm f1.2 @5.6-7.1) and the outdoor shots were shot using the comparatively heavy Canon 5Ds and the Canon L135 f2 (@4.5-5.6). I have found over the last 10 months or so that the Lumix high resolution capture is equal to or higher quality than the Canon 5Ds in many situations. I think this is influenced by the fact that M43 auto focus lenses are corrected optically so there is no manual “clean up” on RAW import – also, the native lenses are very good, especially the Olympus Pro primes. As the 5Ds is what one might call a bit “grainy” because of the ultra small photo-sites – the G9 high res capture tends to deliver slightly less noise and equal to or better color than the 5Ds when compared at the same settings. Note, as well, that the Lumix file is 80MB and the Canon one is 50MB.

This first BTS photo is just for setting the scene, so to speak – shot on the G9 at 1/30 sec, f2.8 and ISO1250. (At this point in time, the stills in the studio are done and we are ready to record some video of the Polaris RZR UTV.)RZT_BTS_1045023Below is another image (a final client select) that I will use to examine the final results. It was shot on the Lumix G9 using an Olympus 17mm f1.2 Pro lens at f6.3 (1/6 sec; ISO400).POLARIS_RZR1000_Portrait_FL_1034967_WEBWhat follows are several 100% crops from the 80MB file (10368px w x 7072px h) using a 1000px w x 800px selection parameter to isolate the images displayed.Crop_ONECrop_THREECrop_TWOCrop_FOURYou may notice in a couple of the images that there appears to be some smudging of detail and some noise based banding, quite possibly a result of noise reduction or some other digital artifacting that occurred on capture or import. Based on over 20 years of experience, none of this will show up in any form of actual reproduction – especially since most of the images will be down-sampled by as much as 3 times (though final large format prints in the 5 foot range and up might require a bit of touch up to mask the problems. I know things like this cause much consternation online – discussions I generally don’t understand because it can and sometimes (often) does occur with every digital camera made.

 
Next is the Canon image from outdoors (50MB) and its 100% crop. Note that the ISO is 400, but the shutter speed is 1/500 at f4. Yes the noise is slightly less than the G9 in studio (where the lighting conditions are far more challenging), but the file is also substantially smaller.POLARIS_OUTSIDE_DRIVER_3-4_SIDE_VIEW__J7A0374_FPOOutdoors_100p_CropNow, please understand that I could have shot the studio shots on the Canon, but after testing, it did not perform as well as the Lumix G9 in those lighting conditions. I went with the tool I determined to be the best for the job. And outdoors (single capture) the Canon filled that requirement (remember, the G9 is only 20MB in single capture mode).

 

In conclusion – “Is M43 ready to rumble?” The answer is yes. While the format may have been started to attract consumers, it matured to a level where challenging professional work can be handled with seamless ease. Is M43 the perfect tool? No, but it is sometimes.

As there are no perfect tools, in general, but rather a range of tools available that can satisfy a wide range of shooting applications performed by an even more diverse group of individuals who think and see differently, M43 has capabilities not duplicated in other equipment offerings. Pick the tool that is right for you and don’t let internet chatter send you down the endless path of technical one-upmanship and false-equivalency.

 

Observations, questions and comments are most welcome!

All images ©2019 by Bill Deuster. All rights reserved.

Is M43 dead or ready to rumble?

Full frame sensor or a little M43 sensor – that seems to be a pressing question and I want to offer my own not so humble take on this subject. FYI, I have not learned to speak Sony yet, so please accept my apologies for not keeping up to date on technology. 🙂

 
As a Canon shooter for a very long time – early 1990’s on film – (and coming from a view camera background), I first stumbled on Lumix about 9 years ago when the Canon 7D I had purchased simply could not deliver the quality of video I needed to offer the clients I had at the time. I quickly purchased a GH2, liked what it offered and have never looked back. Besides several lenses (mostly Canon TSE upgrades) I only supplemented my iDsIII and 5DII and III with a 5DS, but have purchased and used every iteration of the GH series up until now (GH5 and GH5S – two each). To my surprise, I even fell in love with the G9 and have since purchased two. I cannot wait until I can reasonably justify the purchase of the Lumix 10-25 f1.7 as it looks like a terrific lens for both still and motion imagery.

 
But the reason for this post is to toss my silly opinion into the ring that M43 is dead. That M43 has no future. That only discontents and social misfits use M43 (well, not really).

 
I want to offer my perspective as a product shooter with many years of studio experience (still and motion capture) – as to the comparative qualities I have realized from using both systems side by side for over a year. FYI, (shameless plug) – much of my work may be seen on the homepage of my website, billdeuster.com – just let the slideshow run. Note that the video on my site is entirely shot on GH cameras while the still images in the slideshow are a mix of Canon and Lumix cameras and a broad range of various lenses.

 

First, I want to offer (below) a specific set of images that I have just completed for a client. The images below were shot with two different cameras – one Canon and the other a Lumix. Take a look and see if you can tell which is which (please don’t cheat and look at the exif data). Also note that the studio shots were shot with high end LED fixtures (ARRI LC7 and LC5 fresnels, Hive C100 and Litepanels Sola 4+ and Sola 6C), because I also had to capture UHD video from the same set. In the old days I would have shot only stills and used my extensive Elinchrom flash system to light the subject – not so much any more….POLARIS_RZR1000_NIGHT_FL_1034960_FPOPOLARIS_RZR1000_FRONT_SO_DARK_1035052_FPOPOLARIS_OUTSIDE_DRIVER_3-4_SIDE_VIEW__J7A0374_FPOPOLARIS_RZR1000_REAR_CLOSE_UP_1034997_FPOPOLARIS_OUTSIDE_SIDE_VIEW_J7A0368_FPO

You may be surprised by the results that I will announce in a week or so, and I will go into more of the set-up and shooting details in a future posting (in a about a week). May even add a link to some of the video, if there is any interest.

 
I will leave you with this – in my studio, the demise of M43 is not anticipated and I have no intention of letting my Canon go either. Both systems are invaluable to my image creation and light years ahead of the equipment I used even as far back as the late 1990’s when I shot on Kodak DCS 520’s and 560’s.

 
Stay tuned – and feel free to comment to begin a discussion – thanks for looking!

 

Edit – brain fart! – changed “large format” sensor to “full frame” sensor_09/24/2019

Replaced original images with watermarked images – 09/27/2019

 

All images ©2019 by Bill Deuster. All rights reserved.

Sachtler Tripod DA75L spreader adjustment

I got an email today (Thanks Benji) that asked if I might describe the process of how to remove and reattach the spreader on the Sachtler DA75L tripod (that comes bundled with the FSB8 fluid head).

I will attempt to do so with a little help of close-up pics of the spreader parts that allow you to remove/adjust the spreader form the way it is assembled when you receive it new from Sachtler. First lets look at the “line art” that Sachtler includes with the product –

This is what I looked at when I got my set up. A bit “sketchy” in terms of pertinent information if you ask me. But there are hints as to how to begin to make adjustments. (BTW, the tripod doesnt actually look exactly like this, so bear with me.

First lets look at the screw that you need to loosen (to the point where it can be removed, but dont completely remove it). And DO NOT remove all the hardware/screws that the left hand drawing suggests that you remove. That makes working with the spreader very difficult and sets you up for a potential loss of those parts.

Once you have completely loosened the screw, turn your attention to the opposite side of the spreader to tripod leg connecter (front of the connecter/leg) –

As seen in the above photo and the right hand illustration in the first picture, you have two holes on the face of the plastic spreader to leg connector. By pressing into this hole, you can pull apart the connecter to release it completely from the leg. See how, in the picture below, that the connecter begins to separate when you push a tooth pic (or something a little stronger) into the hole.

Once you have it separated you can remove that portion of the spreader from its leg. Obviously, if you want to remove the entire spreader, you must do all three legs. Reattaching the spreader requires one to reverse the process until it is reattached (one exception is that you simply snap the plastic connector back together by lining up the two channels and stops – you dont need to press into the holes to do this). Once you have the connecter re-connected, you insert and tighten the screw that you originally loosened to begin the process.

I hope this is helpful to those who might be as confused as I was when I originally opened the package and realized that my new tripod would not go much lower than 40 inches from the ground.

As a reminder, here is a full length image of the Sachtler DA75L tripod and FSB8 fluid head. This may help you put some of this into perspective. Please note that when the tripod arrives from Sachtler, the spreader is securely attached to the bottom of the top/first/main leg section. That would mean that the legs could not spread nearly as wide as in the photo below, nor could they move up the leg at all. By moving the spreader form the bottom end of the top leg section, the spreader connecters are free to move up and/or down the main tripod leg sections the way they can in the photo below.

Your comments/questions are welcome!

All images and copy ©2010 by Bill Deuster. All rights reserved.

First impressions of the Cool Light CL-LED256

I have looked at this light for a number of months and considered other competitive units that are available (Switronix, Ikan, Lowel, Litepanels, Bescor, Rosco and others) and after reading some recent commentary on Cinema 5D (please forgive me, but I have been unable to re-find the thread after several searches) I purchased the CL-LED256 (256 LED array, 5600K, spot with Sony battery mount).

I must say that I am quite impressed overall. It comes packaged in a nice soft case, the cable, dc power supply and XLR connecter are first rate and the filters are decent as well (more on this in a bit). The removable barndoors are solid and functional and the filter tray is excellent. I really like that the unit has three separate switch banks as well as a dimmer – all of which are solidly constructed. It is made of powder baked aluminum (in black) and, though compact, it has an overall solid feel.

The included stand adapter is OK but I prefer the Lowel adapter pictured in the images below.

This is the Cool Lights CL-LED256 (5600K Spot) with all three light banks turned on – shot with Elinchrom RX monolight strobes.

This is the Cool Lights CL-LED256 (5600K Spot) shot from the rear with the XLR DC adapter connected. Note the long dimmer knob on the bottom right of the fixture.

This is the Cool Lights CL-LED256 (5600K Spot) with the Sony battery attached.

This is the Cool Lights CL-LED256 (5600K Spot) that shows the master and bank light switches. Note the Lowel 5/8 inch light stand adapter.

This is the Cool Lights CL-LED256 (5600K Spot) from the front with the diffusion filter and open barndoors.

Someone on Cinema5D wanted to see the light in action (I know, in some moving image footage) and so did I. So here it is, the light illuminating its own DC power supply and other accessories.

I am actually quite excited about this light, its battery operation (dont have run times yet but will update this as I gain more experience), its solid compact build, the fact that it is 5600K and that it has three light banks as well as dimming capability. It is not really a camera mount light (though some might use it that way) but it is a great little mini spot.

The only observation at the moment that I have is about the filters that come with it. They are good, solid filters, but to my taste, the two minus green filters have about 500K too much amber added. I find that I prefer to use a Rosco 1/2 minus green (#RO3313s). It does lower the K to about 5000K but it matches so much better with the florescent lights that I use and the green is gone (I also filter my florescent lights with Rosco 1/4 or 1/2 minus green filters).

Comments or questions welcomed.

All images and copy ©2010 by Bill Deuster. All rights reserved.

Making of “C clamp sculpture”

Over the last ten days or so I have finally had time to put together some snipets of footage that are captured on my Canon 7d using the Sachtler FSB8 fluid head, Shoot35 CINEfocus mounted on their DSLRmount and rods amd a few seconds of footage using the Kessler CINEslider.

I picked a “subject” that I could easily set up and reposition so I could concentrate my efforts on getting long focus pulls, quick slides and smooth pans. The three C clamps clamped together made a willing subject and had no shyness for its purpose. 🙂

Here is the link  http://vimeo.com/12881945 to Vimeo to see the piece. I welcome comments and observations and am happy to answer questions on how the equipment was used. For your convenience, I am including, here, the production notes from the end of the film so you can more easily read them.

The focus (pun intended) of this short is to acquire, edit and display FF/pan/slider footage that relies on the the Shoot35 CINEfocus (V1), Sachtler FSB8 fluid head and Kessler CINEslider.

All the scenes, in one form or another, are designed to demonstrate pulling focus, pans or slider moves. Since I have only used this equipment a few times (just acquired) and have not done any kind of video work for over 25 years, I thought this might help folks who, like me, are trying to understand the subtle operations of this type of equipment – and to see that it needn’t be intimidating to use.

I am not trying to convey that this piece demonstrates my technical acumen. On the contrary, it is full of weaknesses. But it left me with the hope that, with practice, I might get skilled enough to deliver solid, consistent results that will contribute to a decent production at some point in the future.

I am inviting constructive observations and will be happy to answer any questions about the equipment. Please feel free to contact me.

©2010 by Bill Deuster. All rights reserved

Canon 7D Car Mount Using Woods PowerGrips, Foba CombiTubes, Manfrotto CrossArm and Giottos Ball Head

I have been researching and building my camera car mount system for many months. I have shot a fair amount of footage (to be posted at a later date) using different combinations of the parts that will be described/shown here and am quite pleased with the capabilities that I now have to mount a camera almost anywhere on a car and get acceptable to very stable footage.

The parts that make up this system are as follows –

10 inch Woods PowerGrip cup (rated to hold up to 175 lbs) with an aluminum platform that has two holes – one threaded for 1/4 20 and one threaded for 3/8 16.

10 inch Woods PowerGrip shown with a Manfrotto 131DDB tripod crossarm.

Two 4 inch Woods PowerGrips that have a 3/8 inch 16 threaded stud that is 5/8 inch long.

Shown mounted with a Foba Combi Tube attached. Note that the system for securing the camera is based  on 3/8 inch 16 threaded studs to which a Combi Tube may be attached.

The Manfrotto 131 DDB tripod crossarm to which I can mount my Giottos MH 1300 657 Ball Head (modified with a Giottos 621 quick release plate that came with my CINEslider).

This actually shows the entire camera mount system for this application – main 10 inch cup with two additional 4 inch cups with securing Combitubes. Also shown is the 6 inch cup with the flip handle to which the camera tether attaches.

The final part is the Giottos MH1300 Ball Head. It originally came with the 657 slide plate system, but I preferred the 621. It is rated to hold up to 20 lbs. Note the tether holding the camera strap.

Giottos MH1300 ball head shown on my custom car mount system attached to a Manfrotto 131DDB which is attached to a Woods PowerGrip 10 inch cup. Canon 7D is mounted to the head.

I have found from testing that the camera can bounce/jiggle quite a bit if the mounting system is not secured to the glass on my RAV 4. There are several places that the sheet metal is rigid enough on my RAV 4 to mount a cup and get acceptable results, but wider angle lenses are usually needed to accomplish this. The glass and the most rigid sheet metal perform the best with the widest range of lens choices.

My system from behind without the camera mounted.

Front view of my car mount system with Canon 7D mounted on the Giottos head. Remember that this system is made up of many parts and a camera may be secured to a car in an infinite number of ways.

This shows the 6 inch Woods PowerGrip (3/8 inch 16 stud, Giottos MH 1300 head attached) holding the Canon 7D. The 6 inch cup with the flip handle has a tether that secures the head/camera in case of a cup failure.

One of the things that came up during my research was the idea of securing the camera with a tether independently of the camera cup mount. Note in the photograph above that a tether attaches the camera to a Woods PowerGrip 6 inch cup with a flip handle. This cup is rated to hold up to 70lbs as is the 6 inch cup that holds the Canon 7D. The photo above also shows how versatile the cups are. I have used the 6 inch cup that holds the ball head on the hood of my RAV 4 and gotten acceptable footage at speeds up to 50mph.

One additional thing about the Woods PowerGrip cups. These cups are quite ingenious. They have a red line on the pump that hides when the cup is fully secured and visible when the cup has lost suction. Note the image below. The red line is showing and it needs re-pumping to secure the cup. Note, as well, in the image showing the camera mounted to the side of the RAV 4 I can see all the pump buttons from my side mirror. This is not by accident. It allows me to see if a cup might be losing vacuum and needs some attention to re-secure it to the vehicle.

Photo of the 4 inch Woods PowerGrip with the pump red line showing. This means that the cup has lost vacuum and needs attention.

This photo shows a 10 inch Woods PowerGrip cup that needs re-pumping to secure it to the surface. Note the red line showing on the pump cylinder.

The 10 inch cup has a release lever. It has so much suction power that you cannot remove it by hand when the vacuum is solid. The smaller cups have a nub on the outer edge of the cup that you lift to deplete the vacuum and remove the cup.

I will post more on this topic in the future as well as footage captured using this system. Until then thoughts and comments are welcome.

All images ©2010 by Bill Deuster. All rights reserved.

 

 

Sachtler FSB8 Fluid Head with DA75L Tripod

I am going to express, here, my first impressions working with the Sachtler FSB8 fluid head and the prepackaged aluminum tripod (DA 75L). This is an item I learned about on Cinema 5D from the well-informed and helpful Yoclay (thanks Yoclay!) I purchased it from B&H as a package ( http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/610342-REG/Sachtler_0772_0772_FSB_8_Tripod_System.html ) when the package for the FSB6 and carbon fiber tripod package went up over $200.00 in just one night (I was originally going to purchase the FSB6 with this CF tripod). After rereading the posts by Yoclay on Cinema 5D I realized that, for my long term needs, the FSB8 head and packaged tripod were actually much more suited for my needs.

Here are the pics –

Sachtler DA 75L Tripod with the FSB8 fluid head on top.

Closer view of head mounted on the tripod with the handle.

Close up of the operational controls of the Sachtler FSB8 fluid head.

I will start with the out of box first look experience. To say I was looking forward to putting this head and tripod to work quickly would be a bit of understatement. But, initially, I was not so happy. And until I deciphered the cryptic line art for dismounting/adjusting the mid-level spreader I thought I might have made a mistake. You see, the spreader initially comes fixed to the lowest points on the main legs. This limits the leg spread so the lowest the tripod can go is about 4o inches – not good or acceptable. But I went to the B&H site and re-read the specs and it said it would go much lower. B&H has proven over the years to be the poster child for excellent service and truthful sales and technical advice (at least for me and I have purchased hundreds of items and many tens of thousands of dollars of equipment from them over the past ten years) so I went back to the instructions which didnt seem to offer a way of changing the spreader in any way.

To make a long story short, I did discover a way to remove and reattach the spreader in a way that allowed the legs to spread  way out and lower the height to meet my needs. I am not certain I have it all correct yet, but what I have settled on can be seen in top photo and seems to work very well.

As I come out of the still end of the business (shot video for about 6 years back in the late 70’s thru the mid 80’s) and am very much rooted in the making of a still photograph, working with a tripod primarily designed to capture moving picture footage is quite eye-opening. But, once I fixed the spreader, I quickly came to appreciate the thoughtful design attributes of this package.

First the tripod is light and rock steady. It has stainless spikes at the end of the legs (for softer, spongier surfaces like sand or ground that might be moist or carpet over thick padding), but Sachtler has included red rubber feet that quickly attach/detach from those spikes and provide exceptional stability and grip on a harder surface like concrete, tile or wood.

The FSB8 head is mounted on a 75mm ball and rests in a 75mm bowl on the top of the tripod. It is fixed/leveled on the tripod with an M10 metric thread (similar but not compatible with a 3/8_16 thread) The head has an illuminated bubble level that has already come in handy.

The FSB8 head has a number of precise and functional adjustments. On top is the quick release plate that I have come to really like. Instead of sliding in from the back like so many quick release systems, you can place the plate with the camera rig mounted to it directly down on the head and hear it “snap” into place. You then tighten the red clamping screw to secure the plate with camera rig attached. To detach you loosen the clamping screw and press the red “release button” on the back of the head. Now, simply lift the rig off the head.

As you can see from the pictures above, the plate is quite long. This allows for a quick balancing of the weight of the camera rig so that the drag adjustments and the spring counter balance systems work properly. If you will look to the top left scale that controls the vertical drag of the head you will see some numbers in white – the scale goes from 0 to 5 with 5 being the highest amount of drag. While it isnt visible, a “zero” setting is allowed and this is what you set to get the basic balance of the attached rig by sliding the release plate back and forth. Once you get your basic balance, you turn this dial back to the amount of drag that you want.

Depending on the weight of the rig, you can set the counterbalance dial (marked 1 thru 10) to allow a camera weight anywhere from 2 to 20 pounds. It seems to be quite sensitive and the system does work. I have found that one must play with it a bit to get a sense of how to quickly get a usable head balance and a functional counter balance for silky smooth vertical moves.

The last adjustment is the horizontal or pan drag settings. Once again, the scale goes from 0-5. I should note that with any of the three settings (horizontal or vertical drag adjustments or the spring counter-balance system) one needs to move the head thru a full arc to get the new setting to engage. One will hear a noticeable but quiet “click” that indicated that the new drag or spring setting has engaged and is now functioning.

As my previous post indicates, I have recently purchased and received the Shoot35 CINEfocus and DSLRmount. It is mounted on the Sachtler head. Everything works quite well together and I am working on a simple video that will show the capabilities of both. I will post it when I complete it.

I should note here, as well, that all the lock-down/adjustment knobs are strong and secure – very well made from what I can tell. All in all a fine fluid head and tripod system!

I look forward to your feedback!

All images ©2010 by Bill Deuster, all rights reserved.