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Rick Wise
costs
on Dec 9, 2009 at 10:32:37 pm

I'm researching the possibility of shooting a low-budget feature with either a Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 or a Canon 7D or 5D. A couple of questions:

--has anyone found a source to buy the Panasonic GH1 body alone? Everywhere I look it's coupled with a slow zoom that is too slow for our use

--has anyone found and actually used a great support rig that takes the weight off the forearms for extended hand held shooting when the camera is fully equipped with follow focus and a fairly heavy lens such as the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 zoom? (I've looked at a lot of support systems online but would like some reports from actual users.)

Thanks in advance,

Rick

Rick Wise
director of photography
San Francisco Bay Area
and part-time instructor lighting and camera
grad school, SF Academy of Art University/Film and Video
http://www.RickWiseDP.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/rwise
email: Rick@RickWiseDP.com


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Robbie Carman
Re: costs
on Dec 9, 2009 at 11:30:02 pm

Hey Rick

My personal feeling is to stay away from the GH1 for heavy cinematic use for a couple reasons.

1. Crop factor the micro four thirds sensor will extend your lens reach by a factor of almost 2 compared to 0 for the 5DMKII and 1.6 for the 7D. So that 16-35 L will become a whole lot longer on the GH1 and not be nearly as wide or long as expected.

2. Personally I'm not sold on low bit rate AVCHD. I believe (please don't quote me on this) GH1 is a bit rate of 35 Mb/s @ 1080p24 where 7D for example is around 50 Mb/s

Only real advantage of the GH1 in IMHO is that files can be used natively in FCP and other supported apps.

Your right lots of different support rigs. We've been using the Zacuto Marksmen and Precision Shooter these are pricy rigs but include follow focus, counter weights etc. They're very balance and comfortable.

The other thing you'll want to consider is the Zacuto Z-Finder. Which makes focusing a lot easier. And no I don't work for Zacuto they just make great stuff!

Robbie Carman
----------------
Colorist and Author
Check out my new Books:
Video Made on a Mac
Apple Pro Training Series DVDSP




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Rick Wise
Re: costs
on Dec 10, 2009 at 12:02:58 am

Robbie,

Thanks for the news. About the Zacuto support systems: they don't look very comfortable. They look as if you end up with considerable weight on your arms. Good to hear that's not the case.

As for which camera, I am guessing the 7D is generally better than the Panasonic and not that much more expensive. However, the one huge advantage of the G1 is the flip out LCD viewer. That makes it possible to put the camera very low or very high and still see what you are doing.

I would love to see a shoot out between these three cameras and something like the Sony EX1 or 3, or one of the Panasonic HD prosumer video cameras. I image someone will do that eventually.

I see that Canon is coming out with a full 35mm size HDSLR soon, for a mere $5,000 or so for the body. Who needs a budget?

Rick Wise
director of photography
San Francisco Bay Area
and part-time instructor lighting and camera
grad school, SF Academy of Art University/Film and Video
http://www.RickWiseDP.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/rwise
email: Rick@RickWiseDP.com


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Robbie Carman
Re: costs
on Dec 10, 2009 at 12:25:41 am

Rick

Zactuo stuff is comfortable simply because its so adjustable. As far as the flip out LCD on the GH1 its nice. But at the end of the day having an external monitor is a great choice. The Small HD DP 1 is fantastic and right now they're running a deal with a free hood. for like$900 with free shipping.

As far as comparison for with EX1 EX3 there are lot of shotouts on the web, but think about this one thing. Those cameras cannot compare with the DOF and varity of lens choice that are possible with DSLR systems

best-

robbie

Robbie Carman
----------------
Colorist and Author
Check out my new Books:
Video Made on a Mac
Apple Pro Training Series DVDSP




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Matt Gottshalk
Re: costs
on Dec 10, 2009 at 3:13:49 am

Besides the Zacuto, which I do use and love, you should check out the Cinetech Hipcam rig, which has a rod with a spring that attaches to a heavy belt around your waist, taking most of the weight off of your arms:

http://www.cinetechonline.com/HC01.html





McGee Digital Media Inc.
24P HD Production and Post
http://www.mcgeedigitalmedia.com


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Chuck Spaulding
Re: costs
on Dec 10, 2009 at 4:03:36 am

Hi Rick,

There are several threads on different sites discussing various camera supports, everything from DIY, RedRock Micro, to Zacuto, After looking at all of these I decided I couldn't/wouldn't spend more for the support than I did for the camera. I also knew I was not going to build one myself from scratch.

So I went in search of alternatives which I have shared in the several posts.

I decided to take pictures of my setup so people could see what it is and how it works. What I discovered is that I'm not very good at photographing products but here it is nonetheless.

http://www.frameyourart.net -- I don't know how to embed the image into this post?

This is a shoulder mount system which includes an accessories box, an adjustable back support, a counter wait (not shown), two hand grips, a telescopic support arm (not attached in picture), a CAVISION LCD swing away viewfinder, 15mm Carbon fiber support rods with quick release, and a 4x5 Matte box.

I have placed the accessories box under the camera to give it some additional height but it can also be attached on the back shoulder pad. The camera support can be adjusted to accommodate a larger camera like the EX1, the handles can be adjusted with the push of a button and the telescopic support arm is spring loaded and can be adjusted to rest comfortably on your stomach or waist. As an alternative to that you can attach the counter weight to the back pad and the 7D requires very little support.

Not only is there a substantial price difference between this setup and a Zacuto for example, but there's probably a bit of an ideological difference too. The aforementioned products are more configurable in the way a photographer might want to use it, this set up is probably what videographers are more accustomed to.

So I don't think choosing the right camera support is simply about price, although this setup is less then half the cost of a comparable set up from from Zacuto or RedRock, but about how you want to work. Clearly the 7D would benefit from either type of solution, and as you can tell I've approached it from more of a digital cinema perspective, which I'm not sure is the right approach. It works incredibly well in a production environment but it "hinders" the "gorilla" aspect of shooting with the 7D. I find myself detaching the camera from the support, removing the matte box (if I don't need filters) and holding the camera by the support rods. People don't pay attention to that and think I'm taking stills.

Since I've chosen this route the next thing is a follow focus, but I'm not going to pay $1200...

The shoulder mount is from Shape and there are several models to choose from:
http://shapewlb.com/en/products-camera-supports.php
I have the Spider II, which has an adjustable camera platform. This is important for me because I also use this support with the EX1. If you don't need that then you save even more.

The LCD viewfinder is here:
http://www.cavision.com/viewfinders/MHE52.htm

The swing away support for the viewfinder is here:
http://www.cavision.com/viewfinders/MHE52C2SA.htm

The Rod Support and Quick Release is here:
http://www.cavision.com/rods/RS15IIMQR.htm

The Matte Box is here:
http://cgi.ebay.com/PROAIM-Matte-box-For-15mm-rails-DOF-Wide-angle-lenses_W...
OK, this one requires a little explanation. I got this off of eBay, its a knockoff from India and it was so cheap, $240 that I thought I would take a chance on it. Out of everything that I ordered, it arrived first, the build quality is surprisingly good and it bolted up to everything else perfectly.

I think everything totaled around $900. Still a bit pricey, but so far I'm happy with everything I purchased and this would have costs significantly more elsewhere.

I'm not trying to talk anyone in or out of anything, just trying to provide some choice.

Anyway for others who are experimenting and looking for ideas I hope this helps.




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Rick Wise
Re: costs
on Dec 10, 2009 at 10:03:40 pm

Chuck,

Thanks so much for all the detailed links. (But i think you put up the wrong link for a picture of your rig. That link takes one to a "frame your art" page.) Did you decide on the Cavision viewfinder of the Zacuto because you like it better or because of price?

Rick

Rick Wise
director of photography
San Francisco Bay Area
and part-time instructor lighting and camera
grad school, SF Academy of Art University/Film and Video
http://www.RickWiseDP.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/rwise
email: Rick@RickWiseDP.com


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Chuck Spaulding
Re: costs
on Dec 12, 2009 at 7:14:14 pm

Hi Rick, sorry about the wrong link, that's where I'm hosing the picture: http://www.frameyourart.net/7D2.jpg

I'm not particularly price sensitive on most things, but when I began shopping around I was blown away at how expensive some of this stuff was and quickly came to the conclusion that much of this equipment is overpriced. Some have argued that is not the right conclusion to make, that you get what you pay for etc., and they might be right. Nevertheless it started me on my quest to see if I could build a quality hand held support for less so I came up with what I have. This might not be the right reason or way to go about building a good shoulder mount but I feel like I have a quality product that works well for my needs at a more reasonable price.

As far as viewfinders go the CAVISION is a very good viewfinder for much less but it lacks a diopter, the Z-Finder is a very good viewfinder but it doesn't swing out of the way. I wear glasses so I was leaning towards the Z-Finder but for me the perceived value just isn't there so I went with the CAVISION [which I think is over priced too]. I'm glad I did because what I'm finding is that after checking focus, I swing the viewfinder out of the way quite often. Which kind of indicates that I don't like shooting with this style of viewfinder on a shoulder mount anyway. I think its good for handheld without any support but on a tripod or shoulder mount I'm going to try a larger LCD monitor to overcome the fact that the LCD on the 7D does not articulate, if it did you might get away with just using the built in LCD.

Sorry for rambling but I'm really not trying to talk people into simply buying the same products I do, I just wanted to give people as much information so they can make an informed choice that's right for them. Good luck.






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Rick Wise
Re: costs
on Dec 13, 2009 at 1:03:19 am

Chuck, thanks for the update and the pictures. I agree that price does not always mean the best for the job. Thanks again.

Rick Wise
director of photography
San Francisco Bay Area
and part-time instructor lighting and camera
grad school, SF Academy of Art University/Film and Video
http://www.RickWiseDP.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/rwise
email: Rick@RickWiseDP.com


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Una Real
Re: costs
on Dec 10, 2009 at 11:44:17 pm

Hey Robbie,

This may be taking you too literally, but if you're talking in truly cinematic terms the GH1 only has a crop factor of about 1.35x vs a 35mm Motion Picture camera. When you read an article on the shooting of a feature film, and you read the DP talking about a 50mm lens, the GH1 is only 1.35x cropped from what he's talking about, not 2x, which is what it would be in reference to full-frame still photography. So a 40mm lens on the GH1 would actually be closer to a cinematic 50mm than a 25mm.

You're giving too much credit to the GH1's measly 17 Mb/s bit rate - so it's even more horrendous than you thought. However, I think good GH1 footage looks much more cinematic than the 7D.

FYI - the GH1's AVCHD is not native to FCP.

Cheers,
Una


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Robbie Carman
Re: costs
on Dec 11, 2009 at 4:14:03 am

[Una Real] "This may be taking you too literally, but if you're talking in truly cinematic terms the GH1 only has a crop factor of about 1.35x vs a 35mm Motion Picture camera. When you read an article on the shooting of a feature film, and you read the DP talking about a 50mm lens, the GH1 is only 1.35x cropped from what he's talking about, not 2x, which is what it would be in reference to full-frame still photography. So a 40mm lens on the GH1 would actually be closer to a cinematic 50mm than a 25mm."


I totally get crop factor and how it works I was comparing the GH1 and quoting crop factor of photographic 35mm frame/vista vision (not a Super 35mm frame which is quite a bit smaller) in my comparison the micro four thirds sensor that the GH1 uses is smaller than APS-C which has a crop factor of 1.6 or APS-H which is 1.3 so Micro four thirds does indeed have a crop factor of 2x.

I haven't done the math compared to a Super 35mm frame size (which is something like 25mm x 19mm) but I suspect your numbers are correct

Just for reference check out this good article on micro four thirds and specifically the bit about crop factor.

http://www.camerapedia.org/wiki/Micro_Four-Thirds

Where I screwed up in that post was suggesting that the Canon lens would work with the micro four thirds sensor, I don't believe this is possible, I think you can only adapt a four thirds lens.

As far as the AVCHD and FCP you are indeed correct - I should have clarified this what I meant by native is that you can mount a card shot with the GH1, open log and transfer in FCP and transcode to ProRes. Opposed to current Canon workflow of transcoding outside of FCP with Compressor or MPEG Stream clip (although they guys a Glue Tools are working on a Log and Transfer plugin)

Thanks for catching me on these things and sorry for not being more clear in my original posts

Robbie Carman
----------------
Colorist and Author
Check out my new Books:
Video Made on a Mac
Apple Pro Training Series DVDSP




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Stuart Hooper
Re: costs
on Dec 11, 2009 at 4:50:37 pm

The GH1 seems to get a bad rap sometimes due to posts based on suppositions from folks who don't actually own the camera.

Most have already been corrected above, but on the lenses, one of the advantages of the micro 4/3 system is that is can be mechanically adapted to almost any lens ever made. It is true that Canon EOS lenses have no aperture ring and so much be used wide open on a GH1, but older Canons and Nikons and Leica and PL mount Cine lenses...many things, are very popular on the GH1.


Some general observations:

The 17 mps codec is definitely something that needs to be watched out for in high motion or high detail situations, but it is not a deal breaker. All these DSLRs have the potential for image artifacts, and some prefer the 7D which is harder to break, some prefer the GH1 which seems to better avoid severe aliasing and moire.

The lens selection is truly marvelous, but the crop factor does make finding very wide, very fast lenses a little difficult.

The portability, exposure histogram, and articulating LCD, continuous record times and potential for autofocus make the GH1 the DLSR more suited to event and run and gun work, though many would argue no DSLR is ideal.

I own a GH1 and hope to be purchasing the 7D soon. Both have strengths and weaknesses and offer some amazing abilities.


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George Socka
Re: costs
on Dec 31, 2009 at 2:22:32 am


Semi relevant thoughts:

I have no problems editing 5D2 footage directly in Premiere Pro CS3

Totally agree that the huge costs of the current DSLR video accessories are off the wall. Especially if that stuff is made in China, although I have not looked that closely.

Is follow focus overrated? Years of shooting with "real" video cameras have made me appreciate auto focus, but in the end focus is mainly locked off anyway. The few dramatic scenes where focus changes from a near to a far performer may be justification, but in the film world (so I hav ebeen told) that is all shot with a stand mounted camera, not something hung off somebody's shoulder. A 5D on a tripod can easily be refocused with just the focus ring.

Nobody has addressed zooming, which every real video camera has done since Vidicon (sp) days. I would love to see that implemented on one of the DSLR rigs. The half inch rails people might be onto something good - just connect their focus thing to the zoom ring.


George Socka
BeachDigital
http://www.beachdigital.com


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