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The philosophy of buying universal camera accessories

By technical editor Matt Allard:

I recently caught up with Newsshooter contributor Clinton Harn to discuss his philosophy on investing in equipment rather than cameras. Cameras have a limited shelf life but non camera specific accessories can last you a lifetime. By acquiring equipment that can be used on any shoot or any camera you can maximise your investment. Lights, audio, batteries, matte boxes are just a few of those items.

Clinton also runs through his top gear picks of 2014 and there is not a camera among them. With so many new cameras coming and going it is so important for shooters on a budget to buy equipment that will last for many years to come.

A list and links to all the equipment we talked about is available on Clinton’s Vimeo page.

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Posted on January 3rd, 2015 by Matthew Allard | Category: Audio, Batteries, Camera support systems, External recorders, hard drives, LED lights, Matteboxes and filters, Monitors, Rigs, Storage | Permalink | Comments (3)

First image of Movcam’s new FS7 shoulder rig design

By site editor Dan Chung:

The Movcam FS7 rig

The Movcam FS7 rig

Movcam have just sent us an image of their upcoming rig for the Sony FS7. There are no further details at this point and it looks like we will have to wait until after Christmas for further info. So far it appears the rig has many of the design traits from the company’s popular FS700 rig – VCT release plate compatibility, additional ARRI style rosettes and a wrap around cage.

Interestingly they have opted to keep the original Sony handle and build 15mm rod clamps around it. It also looks like Movcam have made their own V-lock battery and power distribution solution that fits in the same place that Sony’s XDCA-FS7 expansion pack would otherwise go. Another nice touch is the PL mount support that appears to be built-in. As soon as more details emerge we’ll be sure to publish them here on the blog.

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Posted on December 24th, 2014 by Dan Chung | Category: Camera support systems, Sony FS7 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tilta’s new FS7 rigs and V-lock battery plate

By site editor Dan Chung:


The Tilta FS7 rig

The Tilta FS7 rig

Rig maker Tilta have sent us details of their new Sony FS7 setups which will go on sale very soon. These aim to transform the camera into a full cinema rigs and at first glance make the FS7 look quite a lot like a much more expensive F65.

The Tilta VCT compatible baseplate

The Tilta VCT compatible baseplate

The core of the FS7 rig is a VCT compatible baseplate. It looks similar to others now on the market, following the contours of the FS7’s original built-in shoulder pad but offering a larger, more comfortable surface. What is more unique about the Tilta is a front and top plate that wrap right around the front of the camera but still leaves the original Sony handgrip and controls in place. There is also a nice looking lens bracket that can secure a PL mount lens adapter.

The Tilta FS7 rig wraps around the original handgrip

The Tilta FS7 rig wraps around the original handgrip

The lens adapter support

The lens adapter support

Another part of the kit that may interest FS7 owners, even if they don’t buy the other parts, is Tilta’s new FS-T01 V-lock battery plate. This attaches to the rear of the camera in the same place that Sony’s own XDCA-FS7 v-lock extension pack would otherwise go. If you don’t want or need the additional ProRes recording, RAW SDI output and other connections, but still prefer a larger battery for longer run times and better balance then this looks like a great option.

The V-lock battery plate attaches to mounting points on the top of the camera

The V-lock battery plate attaches to mounting points on the top of the camera

I believe the balancing the camera on your shoulder is massively important for long days of factual shooting. If you are going to add lots of metal parts to your rig that make it very front heavy then you should be looking to move the centre of gravity forward – like Zacuto do with their VCT plate, or adding a lot of weight at the rear to keep the setup balance. If you choose the latter option then the Tilta battery plate could be very handy.

Keep a lookout at Tilta dealers or on the company’s website for more info and availability.

Below is the detail of kit options from Tilta:
KIT 1(ES-T15):
Sony FS7 quick release baseplate (BS-T10)(SONY VCT-U14 plate ) Front bracket (PL mount support adaptor included)
Top handle plate, 15mm*200mm rod*2
weight:720g

KIT 2(ES-T15-A):
Sony FS7 quick release baseplate (BS-T10)(SONY VCT-U14 plate )
Front bracket (PL mount support adaptor included)
Top handle plate, 15mm*200mm rod*2, 4*4 lightweight matte box, 15mm follow focus with hard stops.

KIT 3(ES-T15-B):
SONY FS7 quick release baseplate(BS-T10)(SONY VCT-U14 plate )
Front bracket (PL mount support adaptor included)
Top handle plate, 19mm baseplate&12’’dovetail plate (19mm*450mm rod*2 included) (TT-C06/07), 4*5.6 carbon fiber matte box(MB-T04), single sided cinema follow focus(FF-T05).

KIT 4 (ES-T15-C)
SONY FS7 quick release baseplate (BS-T10)(SONY VCT-U14 plate )
Front bracket (PL mount support adaptor included)
Top handle plate, 19mm baseplate&12’’dovetail plate (19mm*450mm rod*2 included)(TT-C06/07), 6*6 carbon fiber matte box(MB-T06), dual cinema follow focus(FF-T04).

Accessories:

Model No.: BS-T10

SONY FS7 quick release baseplate BS-T10(SONY VCT-U14 plate ),15mm*200mm rod*2 ,
Weight:325g

Model No.:FS-T01
V-lock battery plate FS-T01 (can be attached to the rear of the camera
Weight: 200g

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Posted on December 18th, 2014 by Dan Chung | Category: Camera support systems, Sony FS7 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Varavon’s Wirecam gets ready for launch

By site editor Dan Chung:

The Varavon Wirecam

The Varavon Wirecam

We took a look at Varavon’s wirecam system at IBC in Amsterdam earlier this year. The fully featured cable cam system will finally be released around the 19th of this month. It combines the remote controlled Wirecam sled with the company’s Birdycam brushless gimbal to create fully stabilised aerial moves – gimbals from other companies can also be used. The Birdycam also serves as a remote head which can pan and tilt as the camera travels down the wire.

To show off what the system can do Varavon have released a short video. Interestingly it also shows the DJI Ronin being used instead of the Birdycam in some shots.

HOW TO USE WIRE CAM (VARAVON) from GFILM on Vimeo.

The MSRP is expected to be $8900USD. For more info and to order keep an eye on the Varavon website later this month.

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Posted on December 18th, 2014 by Dan Chung | Category: Brushless gimbals, Camera stabilsation systems, Camera support systems | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Newsshooter.com 2014 Christmas gift guide

By Matt Allard and Dan Chung:

The entry level GoPro Hero is one our selections this year

The entry level GoPro Hero is one our selections this year

Christmas is almost here and at newsshooter.com we’ve put together a list of presents that we would happily see under the tree this year. Even if your loved ones aren’t keen to buy these for you you can always treat yourself. All but one can be had for under $150:

Ray’s wooden balls
Kinogrip’s wooden handgrips have proved popular with shooters looking for a good grip and a retro feel to their rigs. Sadly these aren’t really at stocking filler prices, but for $89 craftsman Ray Thomas also makes a lovely KinoBall grip that sits on the other side of your rig and gives extra stability. It is carved out of your choice of wood and attaches via an ARRI style rosette to most brands of rig. If you don’t have an ARRI rosette adapter then there are several inexpensive ones online that work well with the KinoBall. You can find out more on the KinoGrip website.

The KinoBall grip

The KinoBall grip

Rycote covers
The Rycote overcovers, Undercovers and Stickies are a great addition to any audio kit. They are designed to conceal lapel microphones by attaching them to clothing or skin, and then covering them with a fuzzy pad. They are far more discreet than other fluffy mic covers. They also go a long way to avoiding wind and fabric noise, beating conventional foam covers found on regular lavalieres. So far we have found no better solution. More details on Rycote’s website.

Airboxlights
LED lights have rapidly become normal for lighting interviews and although convenient they are pretty harsh when not diffused. Traditional soft boxes are available but they can be time consuming to attach and can be expensive. Enter the Airbox from inventor Tom Guiney. He had the genius idea of making inflatable soft boxes that create a large diffused light source but also pack down small in seconds. They come in various sizes for small and big LEDs up to 1×1 panel size. Prices start at a Santa friendly $30.

A 1x1 Airbox

A 1×1 Airbox

Make ugly into beautiful! Airbox Inflatable Softboxes for LED panels from Thomas Guiney on Vimeo.

Blackmagic Design Mini Recorder
Do you have a thunderbolt enabled Mac? Want to use it to input signals via SDI or HDMI? Then Blackmagic have a great little solution for you. Their UltraStudio Mini Recorder allows you to feed HD-SDI and HDMI signals from you camera directly into your Mac. You can then record or monitor the signal in your favourite editing software. Better still, when combined with Scopebox from Divergent media it can turn your Mac into a useful on set monitor with waveform, vectorscope and audio level meters.

The Blackmagic Design Mini recorder

The Blackmagic Design Mini recorder

GoPro’s budget Hero
GoPro’s Hero4 4K Black edition may be the camera catching all the headlines this year but the company also launched the ‘budget’ HD only GoPro Hero model at the same time. This is a stripped down version of popular action cam with higher resolutions, wi-fi control, ProTune and high frame rate options removed. Even so it is still capable of 1080 25/30P and 720 50/60P video capture and comes with the waterproof housing that the cameras are famous for. With a price tag of around $140 an extra GoPro is always a useful gift.

Nori Squarebounce reflector
The Nori Squarebounce is an essential piece of Matt’s kit. With all the fancy new lighting gear we frequently cover on the site it is worth remembering that in some situations all you need is a simple reflector to light your image. The Squarebounce is a new take on the traditional photographic umbrella. Instead of the regular umbrella shape it opens into a flat square reflector in a choice of gold, white, silver or black surface. Not only is it easier to hold than a conventional pop-up reflector it can also keep the rain off you in a shower. Find out more on their website.

The Nori Squarebounce umbrella

The Nori Squarebounce umbrella

Lastolite white balance perfection
Getting correct white balance is made much easier with this nifty device from Lastolite. The Lastolite Ezybalance uses the same pop-open design as their reflectors but has a 18% gray surface on one side and white on the other. It is more convenient to stuff into you camera bag than a traditional balance card and is more accurate than the old TV news trick of using a sheet of white paper which is likely to have a slight tinge of green, blue or yellow. The grey side is great when shooting flat picture profiles or log curves, where judging correct exposure can be difficult. Having an accurate way to do this on the go is invaluable.

Lastolite Ezybalance

Lastolite Ezybalance

Tiny Pelican cases
These small Pelican 1060 cases are great for wireless mics, lavalieres, GoPros and chargers. They come in several sizes and colours with some have clear lids too. We prefer the ones with clear lids so you can see what is inside in a hurry. They are fully immersible in water, crush proof and dust proof so you can rest safe in the knowledge that your gear is protected in the harshest environments.

The Pelican 1060 with clear top

The Pelican 1060 with clear top

Gruv gear V-Cart Solo
One on the main problems of being a one man band is it transporting all your gear around. When moving large amounts of lighting and kit a great option is the V-Cart Solo from Gruv Gear. A multi versatile cart with a weight capacity of 500LB (226KG) it transforms into three different configurations and folds up for easy storage. Because of its ultra tough construction you can pile all the equipment needed for most shoots on the one cart. This strength does have its downside – it weighs in at 25LB (11.3KG) so we wouldn’t recommend it for air travel. For more information go to the Gruv gear site.

GruvGear carts

Gruv gear carts

Redrockmicro cable organisation
Sometimes the simplest items are the most useful. Like most other shooters we were guilty of having a spaghetti like cable mess on our camera rigs. That is no longer the case – Redrockmicro have these great little microTie organizers that can hold up to three different cables securely to a 15mm rail. For more information go to the Redrockmicro store.

Redrocks cable organisation for 15mm rods

Redrocks cable organisation for 15mm rods

Convergent Design ultra thin SDI
SDI cables usually are made out of thick material which can get in the way, or be difficult to attach in a tightly set up camera system with external recorders and monitors. Luckly Convergent Design have made their own ultra thin SDI cables that are 36″ in length. These should be thin enough to snake their way into the most compact of rig builds. For more information go Convergent Design.

Thin SDI cables from Convergent Design

Thin SDI cables from Convergent Design

Atomos coiled cables
Are you worried that your recorder or monitor HDMI cable might snag and break? An Atomos coiled HDMI cable might be just the answer you are looking for. Developed in house their flexible coiled HDMI cables come in 30 and 50cm lengths and in various combinations of micro, mini and full sized HDMI. The cables stretch and then stay in place without pulling like traditional flexible cables.

Dont get your HDMI in a tangle

Dont get your HDMI in a tangle

Kessler quick release system
Getting your camera on and off your tripod, monopod, slider or jib quickly and securely is essential in news and documentary shooting. The Kessler Kwik system is the best solution I’ve found for smaller cameras right up to the C300 and Red Epic in size. A plate is attached to the bottom of the camera that snaps straight into the receiving Kessler Kwik release receiver. The receiver currently retails at $139.95 and Kessler make a range of compatible camera plates. Many other makers camera plates also work but its worth checking if your particular one is compatible if you are thinking about buying just the receiver.

Kesslers Kwik release system

Kesslers Kwik release system

Rigwheels magnetic mount
Perfect for GoPros, small LED lights and compact cameras the Rigwheels Rigmount Sport magnetic mount is a small ball head with a magnetic attachment system that can mount to a suitable metal surface instantly. It uses rare earth magnets to achieve its high holding power and is a great alternative to the a regular suction cup. Once attached to the surface it doesn’t lose its grip over time like a suction device. I use one of these routinely for GoPro car shots. Having a flat base means it can be used as a mini tripod too. $49 well spent.

Rigwheels innovative magnetic mount

Rigwheels innovative magnetic mount

Rode iPhone lav microphone
Rode’s tiny $79 smartLav+ is a great addition to any kit. It is a high quality lapel mic that attaches directly to your iPhone and some Android devices. Sound is recorded on your device and then synced later in post with your video. You can use it as an inexpensive replacement for a wireless mic system if you are a student, on a tight budget, or trying to keep a low profile. Pros may prefer to use it as a backup to their wireless systems, or in situations when you have multiple subjects to follow. The downside is that there is no easy way to monitor your recording levels on the iPhone when you have placed it on your subject – The smartLav+ is pretty much set and forget.

The sound quality is improved over the original smartLav and it works with the Rode REC app which turns your iOS device into a fully functioning audio recorder. It comes with a mic clip and windshield included. Given how small and easy to carry it is to carry around I keep mine with me at all times.

Polycarbonate PL lens caps by TLS Optics
Cine lens users will appreciate these lovely new rear lens caps for PL mount from TLS in the UK. They come in a range of bright colours and also clear – allowing you to rapidly identify which lens you want to use. There is also an airtight O-ring seal in the cap that keeps nasty dust and grit out of the rear of your lens. Unlike other PL lens caps I use these have a positive twist-on action and don’t fall off. I got a clear cap an NAB and would love to see a few more under my tree this year. Check them out on the TLS website.

TLS PL lens caps come in a range of colours

TLS PL lens caps come in a range of colours

G-technology G-Drives
One thing that you can never get enough of is disk space. G-technology make drives aimed at video professionals and offer fast transfer rates, top level construction and good looks. Their G-Drive EV and G-Drive mobiles are extremely popular with cameramen and editors on the go. Connection options include Thunderbolt, USB 3.0 and Firewire. A welcome gift under any videographers tree.

A G-Drive mobile with Thunderbolt

A G-Drive mobile with Thunderbolt

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Posted on December 12th, 2014 by Dan Chung | Category: Blackmagic design, Camera support systems, GoPro, hard drives | Permalink | Comments (0)

Zacuto solutions for the shoulder mounting the Sony FS7

By site editor Dan Chung:

Zacuto have today published a video that demonstrates their shoulder mount solutions for the Sony FS7. From the moment I received my FS7 it was clear to me that the built-in Sony shoulder pad wasn’t far enough back on the shoulder to get proper balance. By adding a Zacuto VCT baseplate or QR shoulder pad and extending the EVF forward, the camera becomes a much better balanced setup that can be comfortably used for hours.

In the video Steve Weiss and Jens Bogehegn demonstrate a couple of new ideas which make sense if your budget allows. Firstly by adding their upcoming Gratical HD EVF and Axis arm you can get a much greater clearance for wide angle lenses and Matteboxes than you would with the stock Sony one. This is thanks to the Gratical’s narrower width. They then reposition the Sony viewfinder as a confidence screen at the rear of the camera which also allows for easy menu setup. Using the Sony screen at the rear doesn’t add much weight and could be really handy in situations when you are working with a director or client.

The only downside of this setup is that you can’t activate the magnification of the Gratical from the handgrip in the same way you can when using Sony’s finder. Zacuto tell me they are working on a solution that adds solution that allows you to magnify the Gratical’s image by pressing a button that is connected to the USB port on the EVF.

Also mentioned in the video is a new version of the Z-finder that is designed to work on the FS7 with a ‘flip-up’ function much like the original Sony. It has the advantage of being shorter than the stock Sony EVF loupe and this allows the camera to be moved further back on the shoulder and still get your eye right into the finder. This looks similar to the BMPCC Z-finder I’m currently using on the FS7, but with the added functionality of the flip-up.

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Posted on December 4th, 2014 by Dan Chung | Category: Camera support systems, Sony FS7 | Permalink | Comments (4)

Inter BEE 2014: Cinemax spiral slider dolly with lift, swivel and forward and backwards motion

By Technical Editor Matt Allard:

Japanese company Cinemax have shown what they are calling “The World’s first high performance dolly with lift, swivel and forward and backwards motion.” Designed to use a small footprint the Katana allows the operator to get crane shots as well as letting the camera either move forward or backwards creating a sense of depth.

Katana Spiral Slider Dolly

Katana Spiral Slider Dolly

The Katana is an interesting concept and it would be interesting to see how it performs on location. Equipped with V-groove bearings it was very smooth and easy to operate from the limited time I had using it. It can also be used as a Cross Slider Dolly by being placed on optional leg attachments or on two tripods.

Screen Shot 2014-11-26 at 3.08.52 PM

The Katana weighs in at 12kg and has a range of motion of 90cm vertically and 64cm horizontally. The maximum load is 7kg making it suitable for a wide variety of cameras. The Katana kit does not include a tripod, fluid head or counter weights. They are sold separately.

You can find out more at Cinemax

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Posted on November 28th, 2014 by Matthew Allard | Category: Camera support systems, Dollies, Interbee, Jibs and Cranes, SIiders, Tripods and monopods | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kinogrip offers wooden handgrip with IR trigger solution for Sony a7S

By site editor Dan Chung:

KG_CB-A7S

We have previously featured the lovely Kinogrip wooden handgrips on Newsshooter. Styled like the handgrips of yesteryear, they are handmade in the USA by Ray Thomas and come in different styles to fit a range of cameras.

The IR box and wooden handgrip on an a7S rig

The IR box and wooden handgrip on an a7S rig

The Sony a7S has become an overnight success story and many shooters have started to rig the diminutive camera to be used on the shoulder. To allow the use of their wooden handgrips with the a7S Kinogrip have come out with an IR adapter that controls the trigger of the a7S. It is housed in a small box that can be attached to a rig by means of a 15mm rod clamp or 1/4-20 thread. The IR adapter is powered by a single CR2032 button battery and I’m told that once set up it should function as reliably as a wired trigger.

The rear of the IR box showing the 15mm spud with 1/4 20 thread for mounting

The rear of the IR box showing the 15mm spud with 1/4 20 thread for mounting

I asked Ray to explain how it works and also why he went for an IR solution over one that uses Sony’s dedicated Multi connector:

“A little info on the A7S trigger box and why I went with an IR solution rather than a hard wired one. First is cost. The IR box was an existing design that was easily adapted to the A7S. This allows me to keep the cable cost down. A built from scratch wired option would have put individual cable cost close to $200 (about $85 of that for the raw Sony Multi connector). Second is reliability. Normally I would prefer a hard wired solution but the Multi connector is basically a mini-USB (with some extra pins added by Sony) and IMHO is not the most robust of connections. In my testing I found the IR receiver on the A7S to be wonderfully sensitive and I tried several positions for the IR transmitter box – it was dead reliable. Never failed to fire. I had a similar setup on a Canon DSLR and it was finicky about transmitter placement.

KG_A7S_rig6

“The IR transmitter is a simple piece of kit. It’s just a 1.25″ X 1″ X .5″ black box with a 2.5mm cable port. A short pigtail cable plugs from the grip to the box. Standard cable length will be 8″ but the customer can specify longer or shorter lengths if needed (at no extra charge). The box has an attached 15mm spud to make mounting easy. I use an off the shelf 90 deg. rod clamp to attach it to my rig. It also has a 1/4-20 tapped hole if one prefers to mount it that way. The box can be left on the rig permanently. The 2.5mm plug is much more durable than the Multi connector for repeated plugging and unplugging. Once set up it works just like a wired connection. Everything is powered by a user replaceable CR2032 button battery. The battery should provide thousands of actuations before needing replacement.”

The new walnut version of the Grenoble handgrip

The new walnut version of the Grenoble handgrip

Also new from Kinogrip is a new walnut version of their Grenoble grip which we have featured previously. It is modelled on the old Aaton handgrip and looks very nice.

Pricing will be $120 for an individual a7S IR box with pigtail cable and $499 as part of a grip package. For more details visit the Kinogrip website.

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Posted on November 14th, 2014 by Dan Chung | Category: Camera support systems, Sony a7S | Permalink | Comments (0)

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