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Author Topic: Camera equipment and HD filming for newbie  (Read 16305 times)
adrjork
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« on: August 05, 2012, 10:19:28 PM »
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Hi guys, my purpose is to setup a DSLR equipment to shoot and color-grade a film in 2K (starting from HD filming), but I'm not an expert (so be kind Wink).

The style of filming should be similar to Sokurov's Mother and Son (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrpmxX158Kw) and Bartas' The House (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Se21qssHAag): stable, long and meditative takes with natural/low light (...light that comes in through the window into a room in the morning... or ...the woman looks out the window simply waiting...)

I hope to receive your advices to decide - step by step - the right equipment for this purpose.

THE CAMERA: 5D3 vs D800
Canon 5D Mark III has a very good un-sharped image quality (perfect for color-grading) also with low light, but the videos are 8bit 4:2:0 compressed with H.264 codec (not ideal for editing with FinalCut or color-grading with DaVinci). On the other hand, Nikon D800 has a clean HDMI-out that can be connected to the Decklink Shuttle2 for Uncompressed 10bit 4:2:2 videos, but Nikon's HDMI-out is 8bit only and someone says that probably Nikon's moiré issue is not definitively solved. The question is: which is the most important factor here? The image quality, or the codec? Someone says that Canon's H.264 8bit 4:2:0 later converted into Uncompressed 10bit 4:2:2 is very similar to Nikon's Uncompressed 8bit recorded in 10bit 4:2:2 by Shuttle, and that the most important thing is the Canon's video quality. Someone else says that there is a huge difference between the codecs, and that there isn't a really appreciable image quality difference between 5D3 and D800. What is you opinion guys?

THE LENSES: PRIMES vs ZOOM, STABILIZED yes/no
Many guys using cheap DSLR for filming uses Zoom lenses. Probably because for cheap Canon's crop cameras (like 550D), EF-S lenses are almost all Zoom. But almost all guys that uses full-frame cameras prefer Prime lenses for image quality and lightness. The question is: stabilized lenses or not? About this point there are different opinions: someone says that IS is important also using Prime lenses on tripod when panning, while someone else says that no-IS is good even on steadi. I must simply say that no-IS is really cheaper than IS, but I'd like to know your opinion guys!

FOLLOW-FOCUS and AUTO-FOCUS
In film-style it's important to control the focus with narrow DOF. Many guys prefer to use completely manual lenses to control focus and aperture. They say that controlling focus directly on the lens' gear isn't good because the hand on the lens adds vibrations, and for this reason they prefer to use a follow-focus, that must be - they say - a really good follow-focus. So... Zacuto, that is really expensive. It seems that follow-focus is needful (specially Zacuto). Do you think so, guys? Is it so needful?
Nobody speaks about auto-focus: there are AF lenses and no-AF lenses; well, I know that here we are speaking of manual filming, but perhaps, when you set a narrow DOF and set the focus on the actor's hands, could be useful to follow automatically the subject with the AF? Is in your opinion a fundamental feature for my kind of filming?

LIGHTS and REFLECTORS
Even if the style of my favorites filmmakers (then the style I'll try to emulate) seems so "natural" - almost documentary - I suppose that a led-light and a reflector panel could anyway be useful. I don't know. Is it so needful for the kind of filming I described to you? And if so, one led-light and one reflector panel might be enough?

FILTERS vs MATTEBOX
There are two solutions about filters: threaded round filters mounted directly on the lens, or square filters mouted on a mattebox. The first solution is cheaper, even if implies many filters (with few step-up rings you can use a single set of filters for all your lenses with a single-size hood). The second solution (mattebox) is more expensive, even if implies only a set of square filters, and it is often unhandy and bulky. But I suppose that mounting-unmounting filters directly on the lenses all the days could damage the lenses, while a mattebox could be the solution that extends the life of your lenses. Do you agree with me, guy? Or do you think that threaded round filters are an agile solution that can't damage the lenses? (My cheap solution could be: lens > step-up to 77mm > filter > protector > hood.)

Thanks for your help and your advices, guys! Wink
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Jim Pascoe
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« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2012, 07:26:05 AM »
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Firstly I think this may be the wrong section to be asking in, and secondly perhaps the wrong forum altogether.  You might be better trying a forum that specialises in movie making.

I have just started making short films with a GH2 and so I am no expert, but I think your questions are so fundamental that you really just need to take the plunge as cheaply as you can and learn what you need most as you go along.  Why waste a load of money buying stuff that you may never use.  That film in your link was made in 1997 so the stuff you are asking about did not even exist then.

I just had a look at 'Mother and Son', and to be honest which gear to use will be the least of your worries.  If money is an issue do what I have done - buy a used GH2, get a couple of old manual focus Nikon prime lenses with an adaptor (or anything similar), get a good tripod with fluid head.  Then, spend your time and effort learning how to create mood in your shots.  For this type of stuff, as far as I can tell, you will not need IS or AF or zoom lenses but you will need a lot of creativity!  Auto focus is useless for shallow depth of field stuff if the subject is moving because it will hunt in and out.  If a follow focus rig is too expensive and you cannot manually focus smoothly, just make sure your subject stays in the plane of focus.  In this sort of film everything is under your control.

Jim

PS I have learned nothing about colour grading yet so you probably know a lot more than me in this regard, but I do feel perhaps you are trying to run before you can walk judging by the questions about equipment.  I can say that editing with Final Cut is fantastic!
« Last Edit: August 10, 2012, 07:43:19 AM by Jim Pascoe » Logged
fredjeang
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« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2012, 09:13:04 AM »
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Mmmm adrjork.

I think you are way too much worry with equipment. Way too much.

Remember, in the Zacuto's camera blind tests, Francis Ford Coppola and many more prefered the GH2 output, against cameras like the Arri or Red.
I don't think FFC could be considered as a non trained eye.

You could also see what world wide motion advertising director can do with some i.phones.

And it's interesting because a great director or photographer would accept to work with a 1000 bucks camera and reduced equipment without problem, but would not accept to work with average talents, would pay attention to details such as location, furnitures and even natural light way before thinking about grading, matte boxes etc...it tells a lot where you should priorize. To me, you are too much concerned on "what's the best equipment prod-post prod to make it good"...and the reality is that to make it good, equipment has very little to do, so you ask a good question but trying to get answers on the wrong place: gear, softwares, grease and bolts.

Check those guys here, all serious filmakers: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dogme_95
Or here, worked many times without tripod, reduced lightning etc..: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Luc_Godard

People like Recuenco with ww recognition are using very little if not zero special effects or compositing and most of the imagery is produced in real on set. Cast is key, locations too. Location is as important as cast. Watch all the making-of here, you'll learn a lot more than in those website for newbees filmakers: http://www.eugeniorecuenco.com/makings.html

and oh yeah: recuenco works with expensive cine cams and crews, but also with a 5D2.

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smthopr
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« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2012, 11:51:41 AM »
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Please consider this advice:

Get yourself a used Panasonic HVX 170, and a fluid head tripod and learn to make movies. Easy to edit, zoom lens included, manual focus and iris possible. Good sound quality. Small and not too expensive. Image quality acceptable for theaters. Not the best, but good enough if anyone wants to see your movie in a theater.

After you've used it for some small projects, you'll know what you need. If you want to continue with filmmaking. Even with a free camera, it gets really expensive!

Here's a trailer for a small movie where all the stuff in Washington DC was shot with this little camera and a crew of two:)

www.brucealangreene.com/firstdogtheater.html

Hope I have that link address correct:)
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Bruce Alan Greene
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fredjeang
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« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2012, 01:06:10 PM »
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Yes, Bruce is right. Listen to Bruce adrjork, a reliable source.

A 3000 bucks camcorder like this Pana is a great choice.
A hacked Gh2 captures more details than a F3 ! but there is a huge "but": it's 8 bits and can easily bands on subtle transitions. It's an unforgiving camera in many aspects.
Then the connections suck.

Learn to do great content with a cam like this Pana and then you'll see, if you keep going, you'd have more experience and will be able to choose according to your needs.

Bruce: great link. Enjoyed very much. Wish you the best with the movie.



« Last Edit: August 10, 2012, 01:08:51 PM by fredjeang » Logged
adrjork
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« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2012, 01:47:26 PM »
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Great results, Bruce! Really amazing, congratulations!

And thanks for all your advices guys!

P.S. The Recuenco's makings are wonderful! Thanks fredjeang!
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smthopr
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« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2012, 03:53:42 PM »
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Thanks for the kind words guys.

The movie was released 2 years ago. I think it's available at iTunes, Netflix, amazon, and wall mart . And 200 pirate web sites!

Kids 4 to 12 and dog lovers really like it:)
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Bruce Alan Greene
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Morgan_Moore
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« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2012, 01:29:48 AM »
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THE CAMERA: 5D3 vs D800

Not great filming cameras for the $, you should consider FS100 and GH2 to

THE LENSES: PRIMES vs ZOOM, STABILIZED yes/no

You linked to slow steady films shot on tripods or dollies, IS lenses will add nothing, but price and plasticy feel of modern glass
Id go for old primes
IS is useful for reality shows

LIGHTS and REFLECTORS
To me LED are attractive only when you do not have access to mains power, tungsten or flouro are worth checking too
Reflectors - yep loads and good grip to keep them in place
With stills your reflector only needs to be still for 1/125 of a second, with motion it may need to be still for many seconds - wobling reflectors cause shadows in motion shots that look terrible

FILTERS vs MATTEBOX
If you have a selection of lenses with different diameters you can soon get in a tangle with round filters and spend a lot of money and lose time on set
Time on set is all in movie making

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Sam Morgan Moore Cornwall
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adrjork
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« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2012, 04:23:32 PM »
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Thanks Mr. Moore, only a pair of doubts:

1. REFLECTORS:
For video purpose, is your advice to avoid reflectors, or to surely use well gripped reflectors?

2. LIGHTS:
I've read on GH2 manual that flouro lights could give some problem, then tungsten remains but this kind of lights get hot, isn't it? And perhaps they require a lot of power, while led should be cool and should work with less power. I'm really a newbie with lights argument, so I need for some advice. When should I use lights? And do I really need light for the kind of image I have in mind? Well, I've in mind something like a "poetic"-documentary style, between Bartas' The House HERE and Sokurov's Mother and Son HERE. Bartas seems to use mainly natural light, and perhaps some artificial light for close-up portraits (but I'm not sure because - as I said - I'm really a newbie about it). Sokurov certainly uses DaVinci in post, so it's difficult for me to understand if he adds artificial lights in his shots. In my projects I surely will use a color-grading software, but I don't know IF I should use lights, WHICH kind of lights, and HOW MANY lights. (I can only suppose that perhaps I should use 3-point lighting to define the subject from the background, something neutral as 5600K... Isn't it? And if so, which is a good kit?) What is your advice?
Searching by myself for a 3-point lighting kit, I've found THIS iKan 3x led 5600K kit; but somewhere I've found THIS lowel kit; THIS lowel DVcreator 55 kit; THIS osram+manfrotto kit; and as single lights I've found THIS lupo 4x55W, and THIS fotodiox led. Well... I do not know where to start... 3 lights? 3 lights + reflector? 1 light only + a reflector? No lights, only natural light? Lights that get hot? Lights that require low-power? Lights to obtain flat images for my color-grading purpose? ...
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Morgan_Moore
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« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2012, 05:54:16 PM »
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Well gripped reflectors are IMO critical for shooting on a budget.

Video lighting.

It is all horrible, over priced and unwieldy if you are used to running around with a couple of QFlashes like I am.

Ive bought it all and like none of it!

Led is generally just a bit weird in colour, but a very good solution if you do not have access to power, you get most lumens per watt which is what you need on batteries

But Leds are big packed down compared to a DEDO DL4 and a lasto shoot through, with led you dont get lumens per dollar or lumens per meter cubed and if you are after a soft source you do not get much light area per $

Fluro seems, I dunno, too heavy and big, the color is OK - my main problem with my flouro light is it is too big (even in my van) I dont think you get many lumens per KG or Cubic Cm and you dont get a large light area per $

But its cool (wont fry you or the talent or burn the place down)

Tungsten, its hot and its yellow, and draws current, and non dimmable in general

Not sold? neither was I

Well I had some Arri 800 lights and got rid of them.. error .. ended up buying again

Now tungsten wins like this..

with CT blue the colour is the best for skin, you can take the CTblue off and balance in a yellow environment like a conference hall

The lights pack down small, you get Lumens per Meter Cubed and Lumens per KG

You also get lumens per dollar - tungsten is cheap

Go get some redreads, and some shoot through scrims and get used to burning your hands!

This packs down small, is cheap and lightweight and has a large surface area, a total winner if you are on mains voltage..

My keylight.. http://www.sammorganmoore.com/backlot/soft-daylight-source

BTW I have not mentioned HMI lighting, starts at about $3k per fixture.. out of my range

S







 

« Last Edit: August 12, 2012, 06:00:36 PM by Morgan_Moore » Logged

Sam Morgan Moore Cornwall
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« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2012, 06:12:23 PM »
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Another thought is quantity of lights..

You might do a shot running from room A to room B (unlike stills!)

in this case 3 redheads ($1k) or a nice Kino ($1k)..

well you can see that you can light 2 or three spaces if you have to with a three head kit..

in general Id say Led is OK for the one man interview (but I still prefer 2 dedolights and a lastolight)

Fluro is OK for an interview, nicer light than LED and good in small rooms due to heat

as soon as you get into a bigger or multiple space Tungsten starts to come together..

S
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Sam Morgan Moore Cornwall
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adrjork
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« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2012, 09:41:13 PM »
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My god...

Mr. Morgan Moore, I must say that I should deeply study lighting matter. Do you advice me to buy some handbook about lighting for digital cinema? Does it exist something like that? Because I know nothing about kelvin, perceived watts, tungsten vs led, etc.

And again I'm not sure if I really need lights or reflectors for the kind of filming I have in mind.
Please, look at these 6 screenshots: SCREEN_1, SCREEN_2, SCREEN_3, SCREEN_4, SCREEN_5, SCREEN_6. In which one you can say that artificial lights are used? Or lights + reflectors? Or only reflectors? Or nothing at all, but natural sunlight?
For example: the last two seem to be deeply post-graded and distorted, but the original takes seem totally natural, isn't it?

So, to replicate this kind of takes, which "minimal" (and agile) kit you recommend?

Thanks really so much!
« Last Edit: August 12, 2012, 09:51:46 PM by adrjork » Logged
Morgan_Moore
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« Reply #12 on: August 13, 2012, 12:37:26 AM »
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honestly that lot all looks to be natural light or light we cannot afford (big lights outside replicating daylight)

no books, go shoot

S
« Last Edit: August 13, 2012, 12:41:21 AM by Morgan_Moore » Logged

Sam Morgan Moore Cornwall
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Bern Caughey
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« Reply #13 on: August 13, 2012, 10:42:29 AM »
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Convincingly simulating natural light is one of the more difficult tasks in photography, & while the fundamentals of lighting are the same for stills, & motion, the needs, & tools, can be very different. I'm a huge fan of natural light, but maintaining continuity generally means having tools to emulate, or supplement, it.

Stills photographers have a go it alone mentality, whereas motion is generally much more collaborative. There's much to be praised about the first approach, however I suggest you embrace the latter. Most DP's have big holes in the schedule, & a good one could bring a lot of value to your project. Consider yourself the Director, & let the DP fulfill your vision. This doesn't mean you can't operate the camera, some Directors do, though usually not for the entire project, but your focus should be on the actors' performance, & the story.

When choosing a camera there's a lot to be factored. As you hope to utilize natural light, high ISO, & DR, would be among my first considerations for this project. And while a 5D3 has great high ISO, it requires stopping down a whole stop more than S35, & two stops more than m4/3, to maintain the same DOF.

422 is better than 420, but not a deal killer. You'd see a bigger leap using a 10-bit or better, over any 8-bit camera, but these don't come cheap (F3 with Recorder, Scarlet, etc.) unless your willing to use a much smaller format.

And once you've choosen a camera the question becomes how are you going to support it. Anyone experienced in this field will tell you not to cheap out on the sticks, & more importantly, the fluid head. You first need to know how much your camera will weigh, then choose the appropriate head, with some overhead factored in so it's not straining.

Due to their flat mount I have numerous Manfrotto heads for use on Sliders, monopods, or such, & for awhile used a 504HD on sticks, but have moved onto Satchler as my primary head. This has made a huge difference in my operating as I can much better stick the end of moves.

Next up is how are you going to monitor. While a lupe over your camera's LCD is alright for some simple work, it's not great on sticks, or when reviewing footage with the team. You'd be better served by an external monitor, or even an EVF.

Tungsten is the gold standard in artificial light, & the most affordable, but often not practical due to heat, efficiency, & CT. If your filming nudes in winter they'd be a good choice, & in many of your examples I'd CTO the windows instead of gelling the tungstens, however in my daily work I'm much more likely to use daylight sources (Kino, & HMI).

LEDs are indispensable for some work, & there are some remarkably bright units coming to market, but color reproduction is not their strength. If absolute color is not important, or your using them just as a catchlight, then they can be useful, but unless your building a large array I don't see them as that useful for this project.

If you interested in the color issues read the Solid State Lighting Project, & be sure to view the tests. These are a great solution for insomnia.

Solid State Lighting Project
www.oscars.org/science-technology/council/projects/ssl/index.html

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adrjork
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« Reply #14 on: August 13, 2012, 07:14:33 PM »
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Well guys, I'm so happy with all your answers! Thanks!

About the monitor: I've read that outdoor - with sunlight - the lcd monitors have some issue to be visible, and on the other hand an EVF - if continuously used - could damage the eyes (same thing for the loupe). So my question is: why don't use an angle finder mounted directly on the camera's viewfinder? It's cheap and doesn't occupy the lcd monitor. Could it be a good solution?

About the fluid head: the weight is an important parameter for me, for this reason I've asked the question about the mattebox: without mattebox, the camera + a follow-focus + a lens + round filters can't weigh more than 3,5 Kg, that means that I can continue to use my old and tiny 128RC-headed Manfrotto tripod (that declares 4 Kg load capacity). With a mattebox I have to buy something stronger (so, money again). Anyway I have to be sure about a thing: Mr. Morgan_Moore says:
FILTERS vs MATTEBOX: If you have a selection of lenses with different diameters you can soon get in a tangle with round filters and spend a lot of money and lose time on set Time on set is all in movie making
That's right, but let's say that I have time, and I'm just worried about lenses life, so my question is: could mounting-unmounting filters directly on the lenses all the days damage the lenses? Or not? Longer life of lenses with mattebox? Or it's the same?

About the camera: I agree with Mr. Bern Caughey (thx for your reply) when he points the difference between 8bits vs 10bits, but actually doesn't exist a 10bit camera under 10K $! FS700 perhaps only after the promised 4K upgrade, but it will require a Gemini 4:4:4 to record the uncompressed 4:4:4 10bits signal, so 8000 € (FS700) + 9000 € (Gemini) to obtain a damn big format for the happiness of my external storage! Well at that point a Scarlet and Redcode seem a cheaper solution Wink! Only Blackmagic Cinema Camera seemed the huge solution with its 12bits CinemaPNG format, but its sensor is so cropped (no wide angle) and so clumsy in low-light that the whole camera seems nonsense. Well, FS100 seems a good 8bits solution but it costs 5500 € + 1000 € for the Atomos Ninja2 (to capture 4:2:2 ProRes, avoiding tha AVCHD). Now, Mr. Morgan_Moore, you advice me FS100 and GH2, but it seems to me that there is a big difference between the sensor size of the two cameras! Is in your opinion the video produced by FS100 and GH2 comparable? When you advice to me these two cameras, do you imply something like the Ninja2 or not?

Thanks to everybody!
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Morgan_Moore
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« Reply #15 on: August 13, 2012, 07:38:11 PM »
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When recording motion the mirror is up and therefore the pentaprism in the dark

Film people like the glass finder, but unless you got £120k you aint having one

Viewing your image. there are two choices, either someone is pulling focus using witness marks (pre planned and mesured ) or someone is focussing off a digital screen

Now, most EVFs are 480 px, so with a 1080 camera you are seeing one pixel in four.. how are you supposed to focus I have no idea

There is one high res evf from alphatronic or similar name

So lets say you do want to focus off the screen then you need higher res,

ShallHDDp6 and TVLogic are the mintors on a budget that offer 720 (still not 1080 but beggars cannot be choosers)

As for viewing in the sun (in fact almost all outside) you need a sunshade

This is what sold the SmallHD to me the very nice sunshade

BTW the communication between the monitor and the camera body is crucial, the mini HMDI on DSLRs sucks, the large and better positioned Big hdmi on the FS100 is better, much better, ideally you want SDI which is only on more expensive cameras F3 etc

Daylight monitors do exsist with high 'nit' value and special coatings on the glass

Transvideo is the brand and.. they cost big bucks .. $2k for a 3 inch 280px

S

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Sam Morgan Moore Cornwall
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« Reply #16 on: August 13, 2012, 07:52:01 PM »
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You will note every post I mention the FS100,  - I own a 5d2 and had a 7d too and have a D3 for stills and an H1

I can promise that DSLR is a total pain for motion..

moiree
soft
HDMI lead falling out
no sound solution
Hdmi lead falling out

Did I mention the HDMI lead?

I did not buy the FS because I had some desire to spank cash, but because of my total frustration with DSLR motion shooting

at the other end Ive just bought a sonynex5n, which seems about as good as a 5d for motion and cost the same price as a serious coffee


S
« Last Edit: August 13, 2012, 07:53:39 PM by Morgan_Moore » Logged

Sam Morgan Moore Cornwall
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adrjork
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« Reply #17 on: August 15, 2012, 09:54:37 AM »
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I don't understand... What about DSLR's HDMI lead? Wink ahahah...

So, if I correctly understand, the DSLR strategy for video is: video-mode; focusing with the pentaprism during pause; marking the follow-focus; then recording (only LCD + focus-marks)? Is it so?
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« Reply #18 on: August 15, 2012, 10:08:09 AM »
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DSLR use mini hdmi coming out of the side of the camera this would go to a monitor (screen) or EVF (small screen)

If you knock this the connection breaks and the camera stop recording losing the shot

The positioning means you knock it all the time

some people zacuto, smallHD sell a widget to help this

There are various ways to focus.

Before you roll you get very good 1:1 zoom in on the rear screen or monitore

You can check and roll for a static shot

For a moving shot you can mark the lens or white ring on the follow focus and pull focus to marks during the shot

If you are using calibrated cine lenses the mesures on the side of the lens will match the distance - such lenses and calibration costs ££££$$$$

Or you can try and judge focus from the screen, either on the screen on the back at about 480px 1/4 what you are recording

Or using (via the HDMI lead) a monitor of higher resolution like the SmallHD dp6 which is 720p

The 5dmk2 only puts out 480pixels of info - so however good your screen you are judging from minimal data, the 5dmk2 also goes dark for two seconds before recording!

Cameras like the EX1 and FS100 you can focus check (onboard screen only) while rolling, but the centre area only which is not much use for some shots composed off centre

Focusing on the moving subject is still in its infancy for narrow DOF cameras..

S


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« Reply #19 on: August 15, 2012, 10:11:27 AM »
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The FS100 has a kit lens with auto focus, not a pleasant lens, 18-200 3.5-5.6 with a horrible plastic feel

It can hold focus on an acvancing subject very very well in the right conditions.. https://vimeo.com/26393362

S
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