Panasonic AF100 Initial Thoughts:

•January 12, 2011 • 2 Comments

AF100, Novoflex Adaptor, Nikkor 24mm f/1.4

Ok, so here’s my initial take on the Panasonic AF100.  I want to point out the way I’m approaching this review.  I’m coming at this from the DSLR perspective (not from something like a Red) and more of a bottom up approach, if you will.  I’ve shot with the 5d/7d on and off for a few months now.  Not a ton but enough to know they really make life difficult on any project other than the most basic of shoots.  These cameras put out a fantastic image but their ergonomics leave much to be desired.  The AF100 really seems to be a direct replacement for the DSLR cameras. So far I really think its a great little camera and fairly well designed.  I like being able to have a full screen video output.  As opposed to the windowed view of the 5D output that changes over to SD when you record.  Yes, I know the 7d maintains the HD output but it’s still windowed.  Being able to have a viewfinder wile using the video output is great (as opposed to the 5D that kills the lcd and vf when you hook up the external monitor).  It probably seems odd to be pointing out these simple things that are really expected in a video camera but when there taken away there not so simple anymore.  I don’t expect it to be any better than the 5d/7d in terms of image quality.  The AF100 just integrates into a production environment the way a moving images camera should.  One thing it does have over the 5d/7d, as far as image goes, is its ability to shoot variable frame rates in 1080.  Shocking since the $40K HPX3700 can’t do that!   I think some people have questioned why the camera is not P2 or one of Panasonic’s better codecs.  My guess (and it’s only a guess) is Panasonic went with SD cards from purely an economical point of view.  They are obviously targeting this camera at the DSLR market and making you spend another $1,100 in p2 cards prices it right out of the market their going for.  Another feature to be excited about, audio inputs!  No more having to sync audio in post!  Having a headphone jack is nice (I can hear again!)  I hate to keep saying it but it really just takes the 5d/7d and puts it into a hvx/ video camera style body with normal video features we have had for years and expect.  It takes away most of the frustrations of dealing with the DSLR cameras.  I’m really not trying to rip on the 5d/7d cameras.  I own a 5d and do really enjoy shooting certain things with it.  Lets face it though, it’s a still camera and had just about zero thought put into using it in a video environment.  The most difficult choice or issue thus far, is glass.  Ideally you would use PL mount cinema glass but I can’t see people using such an inexpensive camera and then paying $500-$900/ day or more for glass.  I’m sure there are those people out there that will be able to, but for most people I think it’s going to be still lenses.  My Nikkor glass works well with an adaptor but unfortunately Nikkor Lenses are “backwards”.  By “backwards” I mean their focus barrels rotate the opposite way of just about every film/video and canon still lens I’ve run into.  It may seem silly but after training your brain to do something a certain way for 10 years it’s hard to flip a switch and do the opposite.  I really think the perfect setup is going to be the Birger mount/ adaptor for Canon EF lenses coming out in February with a set of Canon L series primes.  The Birger mount is supposed to control the iris and allow auto focus through the camera.  Canon lenses are better than Nikon glass because they focus in the right “video/film” style direction.  Using the primes will keep the camera relatively small and compact.  I’m really excited about this setup.  I think it’s a great shallow depth of field solution for projects on a limited budget.  Hopefully in the next couple of weeks I will have a finished project to post and have a few more thoughts on the image itself.

Marines Spec Spot

•July 12, 2010 • Leave a Comment

A wile back Chris Folkens and I did this spec spot for the Marines.  We shot over at Resolution Digital Studios on their large stage.  It was a great spec to pull off with limited resources.  We used the Red One, my 15-40 Optimo and a 100mm Arri Macro.  Edge light came from two 1200w HMI pars.  The front light came from a 400w Joker with a chimera flown out over talent with a c-boom rig.  It was a fun spot to shoot.

Get A Job

•July 8, 2010 • Leave a Comment

This Blog has been long over due for a post.  In the next couple of weeks I will do my best to get some posts up on a few recent shoots.

I spent much of early June shooting a feature called “Get a Job”  for director James Reed.  It was a fun script with an entertaining cast.  We shot the project on the Red with Zeiss Super Speeds.  Budget was tight so we kept everything to a minimum.  It’s nice to keep things small and mobile so long as the script allows for it.  This one was a pretty good match for that style of film making.  One of my favorite scenes is early on in the film when our main character goes to interview for a job (hence the title).

The Scene was shot at an architectural firm on the south side of Chicago.   The Conference room was extremely tight.  We shot wide open and ND’d the windows to help our background.  For lighting we keyed with a couple of small Joker HMI’s and filled with a 2ft Kino Flo.  On the Close ups we were able to work a frame of diffusion in nice a close for a soft key.  For such a small room the scene played out quite nicely.

Here are a couple of other stills from the film.

Day one on Diversion, shooting anamorphic on the Red.

•February 26, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Today was the first day on “Diversion” a short film directed by Chris Folkens.  It’s been quite a wile since I had done any exterior work down in the loop.  It’s quite the interesting place to shoot.  Not only for the obvious reasons but for things like having to hold wile a couple of workers move a condor into place to dust the snow off the hair of a 30ft tall statue…  One of the things that always intrigues me is the way the light plays off of the different buildings and surfaces.  I wish we could have worked a bit more of it into the shots but on a low budget short it feels like your always moving and light speed.

We are shooting the project on the Red One with anamorphic lenses brought in from Clairmont Camera in Los Angeles.  Wile I typically love the look of the format I can’t say I have much love for the Clairmont Lenses or Clairmont themselves.  The lenses breath quite a bit, more horizontally than vertically which almost creates a weird warping effect.  I’m also not much of a fan of the look of the lenses but more on that later.  The advantage of the Clairmont lenses is they are fairly small and light weight and also relatively inexpensive compared to some other options.  We’re on steadicam and handheld for most of the project so the size and weigh were important.  Shooting anamorphic certainly seems to becoming more popular with independent filmmakers with the advent of the Red.  Unfortunately availability hasn’t caught up with demand.  Few rental houses have anamorphic lenses and the ones that do are booked up quite frequently.  Going thought the paperwork process to be able to rent through Clairmont was no easy task either.  By far the most difficult rental house I have ever had to deal with.  Surprisingly the Red side of things worked great.  Simply switching over to the 4k Ana setting was just about the only difference.  The camera automatically un-squeeezes the image in the viewfinder, monitor and video outputs.  Post gets a little bit more complicated but there seems to be a few work arounds.  I’m actually really interested to see what Red brings to the table in terms of anamorphic lenses.

Overall I’m pretty happy with what we captured.  Here’s a quick frame grab from the day.

Red One, 4K Anamorphic, Clairmont 50mm, T4

great last day!

•February 7, 2010 • Leave a Comment

well kind of, it was our last full day in the park.  We still have tomorrow morning before we make our way up to Bozeman to fly home.  We started the morning in Lamar Valley which is where we have spend the last 4 days on the look out for wolves.  They have been in the area and close enough to see but not exactly a great photo op (see Facebook video’s).  Today we headed out to the area again in the morning but after a few hours decided to head to another part of the park.  A fellow photographer had given us a tip on some Red Fox we have been on the look out. After waiting nearly two hours we had a pleasant surprise. A bobcat, one of the more elusive animals of the park came down the side of the hill headed right towards us.  There are tons of photos but for now heres the few I could grab quickly.  Not something you see every day!


Images captured on a Nikon D3s/ 600mm w/ 1.7 TC

Nearing the end of a great trip.

•February 6, 2010 • Leave a Comment

It’s been a tough couple of days.  Of course even a tough day here is better than a great day anywhere else.  We’ve been here for close to a week now, down to just a couple of days left.  The weather has been mostly over cast or snowy for most of the trip.  The upside is the wildlife tend to be a bit more active in these conditions.  The down side is the lack of opportunity for dramatic landscape work.  This trip seems to be the bison/ coyote photo op.  I usually hope for more of the rare species but as usual they evade us.  I am pretty happy with some of the bison/ coyote photo’s.  I finally feel like I have captured a few shots I have been after for a couple of years.

The last couple of days we have spent a majority of our time chasing a pack of wolves in what some call the American “Serengeti” Lamar Valley on the north east end of Yellowstone National Park.  We spend most of the day watching from quite a distance.  Hopefully we’ll get lucky in the next day and a half.  I would love to return home with something a little closer than you see below.

We’ll see what tomorrow brings…

The day that came down to the last hour.

•February 3, 2010 • 1 Comment

We got up extra early this morning to head out to the far north east end of the park.  There have been several wolf sightings near there in the last few days.  Unfortunately sometimes you win and sometimes you loose.  The day was pretty much a loss from a photographic stand point due to a blizzard most of the day.  We missed the wolves when they finally decided to show them selves around 11am, fairly late in the day for wildlife.  On the way back in for the evening we managed to get a few images.