Archive for the 'Stills' Category

13
Apr
17

ProLights Lumipix Batten

Looking at lights like this makes me wonder if we will soon see the demise of the gel industry altogether. I must admit that I hope we don’t, having spent years learning about CTO, CTB and the ever-amusing oddball amber (162) and seedy pink (748) amongst the plethora of other coloured gels available. I guess we will all get used to dialing in a colour on the back of the lights rather than correcting them at the front with giant sweetie wrappers and no doubt it will be easier, cheaper, and more accurate this way. I can’t help feeling we are likely to lose something of the craft of lighting along the way.

 

Still, far be it for us to stand in the way of progress, so we are fully embracing the new LED technology and it’s minimal need for gel. A good example of this is the new Lumipix batten from ProLights. This is a 12 bank LED light batten with the ability to produce more than 16 million colours without having to use a single sheet of gel. And I thought there were only 7 colours, well that’s how the rainbow works isn’t it?

ProLights LUMIPIX16H LED Batten

Not only will the Lumipix display lots of pretty colours but it will allow you to do all sorts of combinations and effects with them. I feel that this has been designed with the stage in mind rather than the big (or small) screen. They would be perfect for concerts and that type of show with in-built microphones and adjustable sensitivity to allow for music mode where the lights will respond to music themselves. Also full Dmx control is available right down to the individual LED’s so you can change colours and make pretty patterns to your hearts content.

But before you tune out its not only rock bands that can use this, you image-makers may find them useful too. In our world we would think of them less as a disco light and more of an all-purpose flood or fill light.

ProLights LUMIPIX 12 x 3w RGB:FC LED Batten - A

Rather nicely they have a flicker-free operating frequency of 400HZ to allow for relatively high speed filming, and a LCD display user interface so you can play with the settings without having to put it through a complicated control desk.

IP33 protection and a maximum power consumption of 40W will keep the gaffers happy. You folks will also appreciate the minimal 3.2 kg weight and the robust aluminum body designed to disperse heat and also protect the lights.

Interestingly these battens are also capable of being “pixel mapped” This term describes how a bitmap or image can be displayed pixel by pixel on a series of lights thus creating a video screen of sorts. I presume this would be used for displaying simple moving patterns or images.

However, I can’t help thinking that this feature could be employed to make the ultimate big HD screen experience. As each unit has 12 x LED lights, I calculate that 158 ½ units side by side would do one line of a HD display and about 170 thousand units stacked up would complete it. What an impressive screen that would make, being 150metres wide, however, you may have to watch it from outer space. Anyway we don’t quite have enough of them for that and even with the minimal 40 w max power draw per unit it would still draw 6912000.00 watts in total that’s over 30 thousand amps.

As far as specifications go each unit has 12 tri colour High-efficiency CREE LEDs giving a LUX of 1360 @ 1m, the optics give a beam spread of 19 degrees. Several DMX selectable configurations are available (2,4,6,7,9,18 or36) for advanced or basic controlling. A tough aluminum body to aid with heat dispersal and a controllable fan for forced ventilation will prevent over-heating.

Each unit has twin brackets for hanging that can also be used for floor positioning.

A power output has also been built in to allow for up to 10 units to be joined together using the one 230-v supply (less distro required)

So all in all this is a very nicely thought through product with some great features and I will give it a 7 / 10 for my Brucie Coolness Rating, only slipping slightly because its too difficult to ride home with on my bike for parties.

 

Cheers all BB

 

28
Mar
17

Profoto Air Sync & Air Remote

The Profoto Air Sync and Profoto Air Remote are basically the same as each other with both having 8 channels, 300 m range, 10 to 140 hours battery life transmit mode fast /slow, 30 hours battery life receive mode, 30 min auto power off, and integrated antenna.

The difference is that the Pro Air Sync will only trigger a flash i.e. just fire it like a sync lead but without the lead. Whereas the Pro Air Remote also lets you control the flash so you can change its power setting and modeling light function.

Just to slightly confuse you the Air Remote also comes in a TTL version for Canon and Nikon (TTL = Through the lens). This means that the remote will transmit TTL information to any Profoto flash with TTL Air Support and this will allow for fully automatic point-and-shoot shots. It can also be used in manual mode (without TTL) or Hybrid mode that allows for you to shoot first with TTL and then switch to Manual mode to make adjustments, and that’s good because TTL is often inaccurate.

All Profoto Air Remotes can be used with non Air equipped flash systems by using 2 units, one on camera and one connected to the sync socket of the flash, just like a pocket wizard system. However this will not allow for the control of flash power, modelling light, or TTL operation. It’s worth noting that you can mix Pro Air Sync and Pro Air Remote to achieve this.

Profoto equipment we have that supports Air and or AirTTL operation:

Profoto B1 Air & Air TTL

Profoto B2 Air & Air TTL

Profoto B3 Only the Air

Profoto B4 Only the Air

Profoto D1 Only the Air

Profoto 7A Neither is supported

Profoto 8A Only the Air

Profoto Acute 2  Neither is supported

Profoto Air Synch & Remote

 

Broncolor

 Broncolor used to be simple, they had a RFS (Radio frequency Sender) that controlled power and synced the flash and that was about it. It was a bit fiddly as you had to alter a “trimpot” underneath the unit to change channel and double check that the pack was on the same channel, also the packs (Grafit etc) had a weak aerial that was either missing, forgotten, or broken. The Scorro packs we stock now have this aerial built into the handle.

Broncolor also did a little gizmo called an IRX (Infra Red Sender), an infra red sync trigger that came in surprisingly useful from time to time, particularly in areas with radio restrictions.

Broncolor has now upgraded the RFS to the RFS 2. It operates like the Profoto Air Remote and controls the power & more on any RFS equipped Broncolor Flash, like a Broncolor Scorro for example. An additional RFS 2 Receiver can be used to trigger non Broncolor equipment by attaching to the sync port with a short cable.

The Broncolor RFS 2 has 40 channels compared to the Profoto Air’s 8. I would think this is an advantage once or twice every millennium.

Broncolor

Pocket Wizard

Pocket Wizards are a third party wireless sync trigger and either the Pocket Wizard 2 or Pocket Wizrd 3 system will trigger any flash from any camera provided you have the correct cables to connect.

Connect one pocket wizard on to the hot shoe of your camera (or connect it to the sync socket using a small lead) and attach another one onto the Flash (again connecting to the sync socket with a small lead). Check they are both on the same channel and away you go.

Easy, just be careful that the correct size leads are supplied for the flash.

Historically Profoto used the larger jack and Broncolour used the smaller one but they are both changing this around to keep us on our toes. Here at Pixipixel, we ensure you’re supplied with the correct cabling, even if it means providing both sets for your shoot.

Pocket wizards however also have a few tricks up their sleeves that you don’t find on the brand specific triggers from Broncoor and Profoto.

Firstly, the Pocket Wizard 3 units will automatically switch to transmit or receive depending on what they are being used for, a very clever feature. The Pocket wizard 2’s came as a transmitter, receiver, or a transceiver; they can do both but you need to select which.

The Pocket Wizards claim to have the longest range of 300m and that’s pretty impressive as I can’t even see a camera at that range.  But it gets better, you can also use pocket wizard units as “repeaters” i.e. you could put one at a half way point 300m from the camera (transmitter unit) and a further 300 metres away from the flash (receiving unit) thus extending the range to 600 metres and this can be extended even further.

Based on rough calculations it then follows that, with the circumference of the world being approximately 400 thousand metres it would take approximately 133,333 pocket wizards to transmit a sync signal the long way round the globe from camera to flash, and lots of AA batteries too.

Ok I know that’s silly but I had a customer who used to put flashes up at the top of huge sporting stadiums and the like and use this “Repeater” facility to trigger them from his seat in the stands so it can come in very useful.

The same guy also used to make use of another function available on pocket wizards and that is the ability to be powered via a USB port on the unit. This is great if you have to set up the pocket wizards say 24 hours before you are going to use them, this can happen more often than you would think. During my years living in Melbourne, for “Carols By Candlelight”, lights had to be set up in the rigging and subsequently could not be accessed for a day so the pocket wizards would go flat by the time the sing-song got going. Attaching an external power source via the USB allowed for them to be left on and not go flat.

The other great use for pocket wizards is the ability to use them to remotely trigger a camera rather than a flash. A special cord is required to do this and it’s called a Trigger cable; it comes in Canon or Nikon. Useful when the camera has a high viewpoint up on a boom, for example. Another scenario could be when shooting two cameras at the same time.

A few motor sports guys will have a camera on the opposite side of the track to themselves and trigger it at the same time as the camera they are holding this enables them to shoot both sides of the can and also get some heroic selfies. The test button has a two stage action just like the shutter release button on the camera, so a 1/2 press wakes the camera and starts auto focus and more. A full press will release the shutter.

And don’t forget you can attach one to a light meter for remote triggering of the flash during that initial setup stage. This is particularly useful if you are setting up and doing the pre light on your own.

Pocket Wizard do a range of TTL units specific to Canon or Nikon, but we do not stock these.

Sync Leads

Old school sync leads should not be forgotten. They are still a great way to trigger your flash from camera or light meter. They don’t run out of battery power, and they don’t interfere with the guy in the next studio. They are uncomplicated enough for your average photographer to understand.

In fact the only real problem with a sync lead is that they get trodden on and so get damaged quickly like an iPad lead.

We include sync leads with all flashes hired out to our clients, as they will save many a problem just by being there as a backup. I would hope that most photographers and good assistants would have a spare sync lead in their own kit.

As an aside if you ever want to test a sync lead just power up a flash and plug in the sync then “short out” the other end of the sync lead with a paperclip or your keys etc and if the synch is in good condition it will fire the flash, you won’t blow yourself up as the trigger circuit is separate from the flash circuit in modern flashes. Perhaps best not to do this if you can see “Balcar” written on the flash and you are stood in a puddle.

Synch2

Synch

Also don’t forget that most packs or mono blocks have a slave cell so in a multiple pack shoot often you only need one pair of triggers and then use the slave cell on the other packs to trigger them to fire. As light travels at the speed or er..light, the tiny delay is not likely to cause any problems unless some serious high speed or short flash duration stuff is going on.

Coolness rating of sub zero, ok that’s mean, but lets face it sync systems are never going to be exactly cool are they? In terms of usefulness then the pocket wizard system has to be a high scorer unless you are a die hard Profoto or Broncolor shooter. Now if Pocket wizard would just incorporate the TTL capability for both Nikon and Canon into the Pocket Wizard 3 then I would have to rate them as icebox cool.

 

cheers all

 

Written by Bruce Lindsay

16
Feb
17

Canon 1DX mark 2

canon-1dx-mkii_option-2_2

This is one blog that I’ve not been looking forward to writing. As a proud owner of a 1DX myself I am gutted that the Mk2 has even been produced to be honest. But as I can’t stop progress, I knew it would happen sooner or later. Inevitably, the Mk2 is better than the original as you would expect.

For those of you in the know, Canon name their cameras in the reverse order numerically so the lower the number the better the camera, hence the 1 series denotes this as Canons flagship model. If I am to be honest I believe the 1DX was a photojournalist’s camera, built to be used every day in whatever environment and whatever weather the operator found themselves in, from the touchline of a rugby match to the fence outside Buckingham Palace these cameras are built to work and to work hard.

We’ve received so many enquiries about the Mk2 that we couldn’t disappoint you any longer. I do love this about Pixipixel, we are a rapidly growing company but still listen to you folks, our customers, and respond to your requests, so keep on telling us what you want.

Anyway on with the blog (and remember this is hurting me more to write than it is for you to read). As I said above the 1DX mk 2 is the new Canon DSLR flagship, it may not have the resolution of some of its “lesser” siblings like the 5DS or 5DR but it has (almost) the ability to shoot in the dark and for me that’s more useful than massive files. I’m pleased to say, that although the pixel count has increased significantly (now 20.2mp) this miraculous ability to shoot using higher ISO’s in gloomy, dull or dark situations is as good as ever, in fact its better.

The Mk2 has improved video capabilities too now allowing for 4k 60p capture, making it a genuine option for you moving image folks. 120p can be achieved in full HD for your slow motion creativity and truly amazing AF tracking keeps the subject pin sharp. A new touch screen allows for easy accurate focus and this works seamlessly with all Canon EF lenses.

1dx-mkii_option1

If shooting faster than a Gatling gun is your bag then look no further, the Mk2 can shoot at 14 fps with full AF / AE tracking or up to 16 fps in live view. This is thanks to the new DIGIC 6+ processors and a new mirror drive system. If you use the latest Cfast 2.0 media then a burst of 170 uncompressed 14-bit RAW images can be captured almost before you knew you were trying.

I find it hard to believe that Canon could have improved the auto focus over the Mk1 but they have. Now with 61 selectable AF points (including 41 cross type and 5 dual cross type) and advanced A1 Servo AF III + and improved EOS intelligent tracking you really don’t have much of an excuse to miss that vital sharpness. Even when you choose to shoot at f8 all 61 points are at your disposal including 21 cross type sensors. She really is an impressive focusing beast. I could take my glasses off and still get everything sharp I reckon.

A built in GPS system with automatic time-zone updates is a neat inclusion (should you ever get lost or lose your watch) and lightning fast Superspeed USB 3.0 and Gigabit connectivity via Ethernet or the optional WFT-E8 WiFi adaptor caters to numerous workflow styles.

Brucie coolness rating has to be a well-deserved 10 out of 10 as you would expect from a Canon top of the line body, as much as the little green monster inside me wants to mark it down I really cant. Ok so I’m jealous because its better than my camera but you needn’t be because we got it in for you, yes YOU so pop in and let your inner paparazzi have some fun.

 

Many thanks BB

06
Oct
16

KOTM- Cambo Actus DB2 View Camera

Brucie Blogger is back with Kit of the Month!!

Actus DB eh so what do you think the DB stands for?

cambo actus.jpg

Well, I presume its “Digital Back” and nothing to do with “the canine’s orbs” as I first thought. Having said that the latter would also suffice as a good description, as this really is the DB’s when it comes to modern view camera offerings.

 

The Actus DB2 has evolved from Cambo’s Actus series of view cameras that are designed to be used in conjunction with mirror-less cameras and DSLR’s. The new DB2 can still be used with a DSLR on the back but as it is equipped to take a Phase one IQ3 100 mp back I don’t suppose we will see a DSLR attached very often. In fact,we are not going to rush out and buy an adaptor for DSLR’s unless one of you has a mega hire needing it and then perhaps we could have our arms twisted.

camboa2.jpg

Despite my vintage, I came into photography towards the end of the view camera era, I remember selling off the ones we had in Australia while they still had some decent value and recall being gutted as I wanted to play with one more myself.

Great quality tilt shift lenses by Canon and Nikon and have gone some way to replacing them but can only go so far, nothing can really compete with the ultimate image control that a good view camera can deliver.

 

So Cambo has been clever by coupling a modern take on the view camera with today’s megapixel top end digital backs and they seem to have done a lovely job of it too.

 

 

camboa3.jpg

Small size and a beautiful mover

 

 

 

 

mradams.jpg

Not exactly a compact Mr.Adams is it?

The first thing you notice about the DB2 is its size, far from sticking out like, well like the DB’s it’s rather diminutive, fitting nicely into the palm of your hand. It’s a far cry from the cameras used by Mr. Adams and his counterparts back in the day.

 

But don’t let its size fool you this really is a well-equipped camera featuring.

 

 

360 degrees of front swing

19 degrees of front tilt

27mm of rear shift vertical

40mm of rear shift horizontal

150 mm maximum extension with standard monorail

295mm with long monorail

445mm with macro monorail

Available in a range of colours so long as you want anodized black that is.

 

All very impressive but what does that mean for your photography, well the highlights are below.

 

View camera movements allow for selective sharpness / selective un-sharpness

Rear shift movements for stitching wider angle images.

Focal plane shifts to increase file size

Image centered landscape / portrait selection

Built in macro extension.

camboa4.jpg

So as a view camera you can see that the DB2 really is a great piece of equipment but when you couple it with one of our IQ3 100mp digital backs from Phaseone then it becomes a truly awesome camera system. You now have a medium format, full frame sensor view camera with a resolution of 100 mp (more if you start stitching frames together) coupled with all the versatility that you could ever need.

 

Now one thing I recall about using view cameras in the past was having to check my focus by using a loupe on the rear glass and that was a pain, to say the least. Well, I’m pleased to say that those days are well and truly gone. My very expensive loupe has retired, now only making an occasional appearance to aid in the removal of splinters and the like, thank goodness. Today we have it much easier, by using the live view mode on the IQ3 back and viewing at 100% we can get that focus absolutely perfect.

 

But if that’s not quite easy enough for you how about using the WIFI ability of the IQ3 to give you live view on your iPad making the most of its large screen. Shutter release and full control over the back can also be accessed via this WIFI system thus removing any risk of camera shake spoiling your results, so that’s the cable release gone from your kit bag too.

 

So calling all the photographers who need the versatility of a view camera and the resolution of a modern top end digital back we now have you covered, dust off your Sinar lenses or hire ours and GET SHIFTING.

 

10 out of 10 for the BCR this camera is lovely and with the IQ3 on the back and some sexy glass on the front it’s even lovelier, come in and give it a go and please don’t forget to show us your beautiful moves (and tilts too).

Cheers all BB

 

camboa5.jpg

 

04
Jul
16

Introducing Genevieve

Now it’s quite an unusual name Genevieve especially in the present day, I don’t think I have ever met one to be honest. I recall an old film about a car race back from Brighton and I happen to know Sainte Genevieve (Saint Geneviève de Loqueffret )is the patron saint of Paris. I didn’t know that she is said to have saved the city from Attila the Hun and an outbreak of ergot poisoning (very nasty) not to mention being appointed as the guardian of the “consecrated virgins of Paris” so the name has some interesting and amusing history but it is still very unusual.

So having said that, I would like to introduce you to the newest Genevieve in London, She hails from Belgium which is very nearly Paris in my book, so it will suffice as a introduction and she is most definitely without any doubt whatsoever UNUSUAL.

 

Now Genevieve is a big girl she is quite heavy, but tall with it and she is delightfully quiet so you can take her home to meet the folks and she won’t embarrass you, but none of that is what makes her unusual. She is unusual, because of her power and she has heaps of it, she puts a 1970’s female Soviet Block weightlifter to shame and without the steroids!

 

Ok, I’ve had my fun and before I put you off Genevive all together, I should point out that she is a truck, a 4 x 4 wheel drive truck and she carries with her a 100kva generator!

 

Yes, Genevieve is our shiny new Mitsubishi Canter generator truck and you won’t find another lady like her in London.

genevieve 1

So lets start with Geneviève’s body, as I said she is a Mitsubishi Canter truck so has constant four wheel drive, high ground clearance, locking hubs, heavy duty axles and off road tires in fact many councils use the Canter as a base for their snow ploughs so she is a tough go anywhere kind of girl. She weighs in at about 6.5 tones so she’s not exactly anorexic and requires a taco (no not as in like a burrito) as in a tachograph! But don’t let that put you off, we can always find a driver if required and a spark (electrician) for that matter.

 

One quick glance inside her shapely rear end reveals the mother of all generators producing 100 Kva at your demand for anything from charging your IPhone to bringing Frankenstein’s monster back to life. With more outlets than Costa Coffee you won’t be short of places to plug into whatever you are using in fact she has:

One each of 125 and 63 amp single phase outlets and a brace of 32 and 16 Amp ones too. If you are after 3 Phase then she is equipped with a power lock and a 125 amp socket. Ok so no USB port but you can plug your phone into the cigarette lighter like everyone else.

genevivepower.jpg

 

A modest amount of storage is available for kit at the very back but if you need 100Kva then I don’t think this will be enough room for everything you are running still it’s better than a poke in the eye!

genevieve load.jpg

But by far the most impressive thing about this lady is how quiet she is, I had Toby start her up for me yesterday and even with the rear service hatch wide open I swear she made less noise than a little Honda 2Kva generator and they are renowned for being quiet.

 

So if you like your women tall well built, adventurous, powerful and silent then Genevieve is the girl for you. Why not give us a call and arrange a date?

genevieve2

The only improvement I would make is a huge set of bull bars and a winch but I’ve spent too long down under so ignore me, she is a perfect 10 as Kevin Bloody Wilson would say (those easily offended should not look up Kevin or his music)

23
Mar
16

Something slightly different-Sunlight

Sunlight

sunlight1.jpg

I don’t know about the rest of you, but everyone here at Pixipixel is well and truly over winter. Short cold and dull days are not exactly the stuff of great photographs or location shoots are they? This has however given me an idea……….

As a departure from my normal rambling “Kit Of The Week” blogs I’m going to try something a little different, more along the lines of a how to guide, and what better place to start than how to recreate sunlight?

So please don’t take this the wrong way, I know many of you will be well versed in this but you never know you may pick something up even if it’s only a nice tan.

Firstly a small bit of Brucie theory:

Sunlight (I’m talking about a bright blue sky sort of sunlight not an overcast miserable day) is a hard light. You can see this if you look at your shadow on a bright day, it will be well defined with hard edges and a high contrast between it and the surrounding ground, in fact often exactly what we try and avoid as image makers. So why is this?

 

Ok, so back to photography basics for a moment, a hard light is produced by a small light source like the sun!

Yes I know the Sun is big (1392000 km across ish) but it is also a long way away, so to us it appears fairly small in the sky. This would be different if we stood on Mercury, but we aren’t so stop being awkward.

Now with the light source being small and far away the light rays that “hit” us are reasonably parallel to each other and this is what gives us the hard edged, high contrast shadows that we associate with summertime. With me so far?

 

So it makes sense that to recreate sunlight we either need to find a massive flaming orb and install it at the center of our solar system and pray for a break in the clouds or use a small light source in the studio itself. I know which option is easier, but exactly which light source should we use?

 

Now up until this point I’ve been thinking in general terms but obviously you moving image types are going to need a continuous light, whereas us stills guys can use flash or continuous. This is no big deal because we have numerous options for everyone.

 

Starting with us stills guys and looking at flash lighting we have a couple of options. Firstly and most simply a bare head will work fine, provided it is positioned at a reasonable distance from the subject. The trouble with this is that the light rays will be scattered causing a more diffused effect and also any stray light will bounce around the studio, becoming unwanted ambient light and further softening the effect. A small reflector or even a snoot will greatly help with this, however a purpose built modifier will yield much better results.

 

Both Profoto and Broncolor produce Fresnel lensed attachments for their lights and these help to bring those pesky light rays under control and more parallel to each other creating a beam of hard light (much the same as a lighthouse). This is a great starting point and works very well. The Broncolor attachment is called a “Flooter” and the Profoto version is the “Fresnel Spot”.  Both are fairly large so will need to be positioned at a distance from the subject. Very small versions are available such as the Broncolor Picolite Fresnel Spot Attachment but they are best used for tabletop macro sort of work, also we don’t carry them at the moment, so best you forget I ever mentioned them.

 

profres.jpgbronpico.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happily this Fresnel approach works well, but it can be done better and both the big names in flash have specific light shapers for this, they are radically different to each other but both work superbly.

 

Profoto have the “Hard Box” this is essentially a T shaped tube with the flash head inserted into the bottom, it decreases the size of the light source and eliminates unwanted stray light giving a light rich in contrast and very similar to sunlight.

prohard.jpg

Broncolor have gone down a different path with their “Satellite” reflector. It’s a highly polished disc reflector into which a standard head is fired this reflector concentrates the light giving the daylight effect, it’s a bit like burning ants with a magnifying glass back in the schoolyard and must not be left in the back of a car on a bright day (I learnt that one the hard way myself).

bronsatt.jpg

Both the Profoto and Broncolor solutions work better if the flash heads protection glass is replaced with a special purpose one. Just to confuse us the Profoto frosted dome should be replaced with a clear one and the Broncolor clear dome should be replaced with a frosted one!!

breisepara.jpg

The next method to consider is the use of a parabolic reflector, now these “Para” reflectors are designed to bring those light rays parallel again and do a far better job than a spherical reflector, I won’t go into detail why but it’s all to do with internal angles of reflection and is also probably why rugby is a better game than football!!!

Briese make a really magnificent version specifically designed for the recreation of sunlight, it produces a spectacular fresnel like light that is also very enveloping and it can be used with flash or continuous lights.

sphericalvparabolic.jpg

See how I made the move from flash to continuous so smoothly…….. I think that’s called a segway. I’m getting the hang of this I think??

 

Ok so you moving image people have been very patient with me again, thanking you, now it’s your turn.

 

Nothing changes as far as light modifying is concerned between flash and continuous, I am pleased to say so all that stuff about a small light source with parallel rays of light giving a hard light is still correct.

You can use numerous lights to give you the “sunlight” look. Traditionally an 18k hmi Fresnel has been the go to fixture for film crews looking to recreate sunlight but with recent improvements to lights we no longer always require so much power. A good alternative is the Arri max 12K or the Arri m90 9k both of which have the unique MAX reflector giving a light quality similar to a fresnel but without the lens.
maxref.jpg

With the extra power delivered by the Arri Max range of lights you can afford to use diffusion to “take the edge off” so for an exterior shoot often an 18k or 12k unit will be used with a 9k through a scrim (1/2 stop) as a fill. In studio the smaller Arri M series units often will be employed and Kino’s or LED’s used to fill in.

The Alpha 18K K5600 is another very powerful light that could be employed to recreate daylight/sunlight, with its clear front it will give a slightly less hard light than a Fresnel but it comes with a Fresnel lens too if you need to harden up a bit so it gives you some options.

 

It’s worth mentioning at this point that despite recent improvements to cameras 18k is still the goto strength required to override sunlight, yes the Arri max range will give you the equivalent oomph at a slightly lower power rating but the sun is the sun and its not getting any duller just because the chaps at Arri are getting smarter. Film crews use 18k for one very important reason, clouds, if they appear and you don’t want to hear “cut” then you need the power of 18K to keep shooting. From what I understand this is not going to change no matter what improvements are made to cameras, well not until the sun goes super nova anyway and I think we will be safe from that for a couple of years yet.

 

Now one last thing to consider is the good old inverse square rule (remember that) it states that the strength of a light is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from its source. Now when you think about the Sun itself, it is so large and so far away from us that any exposure drop over say the length of a room is negligible, therefore a larger light positioned further away is going to give you more consistent light levels across your set than say a smaller one positioned closer. Now I don’t think I am contradicting myself as a large light positioned at a greater distance becomes a “smaller” light source just like the sun and hence retains the hard light characteristics.

tattoo.jpg

(I had to include this pic as it proves the inverse square law can also apply to people’s intelligence in relation to the distance from a tattooist shop.)

 

Ok so that’s how to recreate sunlight, easy eh it’s all about recreating the same characteristics in your light that would be present in real sunlight and in a studio when you don’t have real sunlight to work with it’s an extremely useful thing to be able to do, but once outside in the real sunlight is it a redundant skill, does it still have a use? Well to the uninitiated you would think that bright sunlight at lunchtime on a nice day would be about as good a light as you could get and it certainly is hard, high in contrast and powerful but that doesn’t really help us as photographers does it.

 

Bright sunshine is (somewhat counter-intuitively) not great for us image-makers. The high contrast nature of this light can cause us problems with tonal range and correctly exposing our subject and the background at the same time. Think about a beach scene on a bright summers day, you want to take a nice picture of the kids running out of the surf so you grab your snapper and shoot only to find that.

You have a beautiful blue sky and silhouettes for children or nicely exposed children and a washed out sky. “Damn it I spent a small fortune on this camera and  I can’t even get a snap of the kids!”

So how do we get round this problem?

Simple, you overpower the sun!

Now you can stop short of creating a small fusion reaction in your speedos to do this, as the sun is surprisingly easy to overpower (well for us stills guys it is anyway).

 

Essentially all we need to do is to meter for the background exposure and then add in some fill flash to light our subject. This flash needs to have the same characteristics as the sun to keep the feel, but we know how to do that now don’t we? Using flash for this is easy as we don’t actually need a particularly powerful flash, we as stills people only have to overcome the sun for a fraction of a second and flash equipment is good at that, it has the ability to push out large amounts of power (light) for very short amounts of time.

 

For you filmmakers however it’s a different story, yes the theory of exposing for the background and then filling the subject is the same but you need this light on for the full duration of each frame and for the entire shot. Therefore you need a lot more punch to do the same thing as us stills guys, traditionally an 18k Fresnel or similar is used for this (try running that off 4 AA’s) oh and if the kids are running any distance you’re going to need more than one to “keep them in sunlight”.

 

At this point I realize how lucky I am to be a stills guy, it puts me in mind of watching the odd orchestra walk through the green channel back in my former life, I always wondered if the double bass player was jealous of the flautist at airports.

 

That’s all folks,  let’s make this year’s summer brighter than last year by everyone using artificial lighting lots n lots. Perhaps we can bluff the sun into shining a bit more!!!!

Now before I go, the shrewd folks amongst you are probably jumping up and down screaming what about colour temperature but that’s something for a future blog I think as it’s a subject all on its own and depends a lot on what sort of sunlight you are simulating, be it midday or evening and so on I’ll get back to you on that.

Likewise if you are trying to recreate a diffused sunlight (overcast) look then we need a chat about scrims and so on, again that’s for another day.

 

I hope you all learnt something if only how to brighten up a miserable English “spring” day, or how to avoid work by reading a verbose and slightly silly blog?

Cheers for your time…… Now get back to work!

 

Merry Lighting BB

07
Mar
16

KOTW- Phase One 100mp IQ3 Digital Back

1q3 back.jpg

I’ve been thinking back……… I went to live in Australia in 1998 and about a year later my parents turned up for a visit and moved into my spare room for 3 months!!!!! Now I love my Mum and Dad but 3 months in the same house was a big ask, I think my old man realised this as he got me a sweetener in the duty free shop on the way over.  My first ever digital camera.

 

I was chuffed, not being heavily into photography in those days I didn’t really understand much about cameras and a Fuji finepix 3 mega pixel sounded good. It didn’t take me very long to realise that it was in fact pretty blinking useless, it had the tonal range of a zebra crossing and enough shutter lag to go make a coffee before it would take a picture. Anyway half of it is somewhere on the slopes of Mt Hotham with my mountain bike derailleur and will never be seen again, no great loss.

 

Since those days I’ve had the opportunity to get hands on with some seriously nice cameras and over the years have watched with some amusement the ever growing pixel count, I’ve waxed lyrical to students about the benefits and drawbacks of squeezing more and more pixels onto a sensor and what it can do to tonal range and low light performance and so on. However nowadays our mobile phones have more in the way of mega pixels than many cameras do and lets face it they take very acceptable photos. So what’s left for us photographers? How do we set ourselves apart from the smart phone paparazzi? (could we christen the term I-pap here I think it has a nice ring to it.)

 

Well firstly our skills as image makers should do the trick I would hope, but what about equipment? Can that still play a major part in setting us apart as professionals? Well yes of course it can, a decent DSLR is always (I hope) going to give you some advantage over a smart phone and a medium format system should give you some advantage over the DSLR this is very much the “pecking order” amongst us photographers. So if we are going to aspire to be top of that order what should we be saving up for?

Well funny you should ask, because I think I may just have an answer for you!

It’s not a cheep answer sorry,  but on the bright side you can hire it and I think you know where from……..

 

So if having the ultimate digital image is important to you, then you need look no further than the splendid Phaseone XF camera system with the incredible new 100 mp IQ3 back. I did a brief blog about the XF camera a while back and talked about its superb new AF system making it as useable as a DSLR but I want to concentrate on the back today as it really deserves a blog all of its own.

So the first and most obvious feature of the IQ3 is the resolution, we have hit the magic 100mp mark because 60 or 70 mp just didn’t cut it eh! Still the more the merrier it would seem and 100 is a nice round number to work with but does it really help? Yes, of course it helps, the sensor in this back is 2.5 times bigger than the one in even the most high end DSLRs and this allows room to fit in all the pixels without reducing them in size and hence keep the dynamic range nice and high and maintains an exceptionally wide angular response. This combination of quantity and quality as far as pixels is concerned make the IQ3 back “quite literally the best of all worlds when it comes to digital image quality”.

 

A rather nice review is on the Phaseone website, penned by Peter Eastway who was lucky enough to take an XF system on a recent trip to Antarctica. Now Peter used to be one of my customers down under, so I know he knows what he is talking about he is a truly great photographer and a jolly nice bloke to boot. You can read his review here.

 

Better Photography Review

Now all the technical stuff is covered thoroughly on Phaseone’s website so I wont get too bogged down in that but here are the headlines to wet your appetite.

100 mp:

(We covered that)

15 stops of dynamic range:

(That’s more than Ansel Adams) With an unrivalled 15 stops of  dynamic range the IQ3 retains unmatched details in both shadows and highlights.

Phaseone colour:

Phaseone are renowned for accurate colour rendition. They claim this is a passion of the company and they have been working on it for over ten years now so not surprisingly the IQ3 will not disappoint when it comes to colour.

16-bit Colour depth:

With the introduction of 16-bit colour depth and the CMOS ISO flexibility the IQ3 gives a natural texture and tonal feel similar to the textures and tonal feel of analogue photography.

ISO from 50 – 12800:

The IQ3 has a remarkable base ISO of 50 and due to the expansion of CMOS technology and the newly updated Capture One software   it offers exceptional creative freedom right across its ISO range to  12800 whilst retaining excellent noise suppression.

60-minute exposure:

Not only does the IQ3 offer up to 60 min exposure times but it does this without any compromise to ISO flexibility.

Electronic first curtain shutter:

This greatly helps reduce vibration and allows for less mechanical dependency, this is even more important than normal when you are dealing with a 100 mp back. Nicely this function is worry free, automatically activating when mirror lock up or vibration delay modes are used.

 

phaseone xt.jpg

I think its safe to say that this back is simply superb, however Phase One have designed it as part of a complete system and it really shines when matched up with the magnificent Phase One XF body and some of their 100 MP ready lenses.

As a medium format camera system today I don’t believe it can be beaten.

Now for my coolness rating, BCR of 10/10 maximum marks, I think the only way to make this cooler would be to take it to Antarctica but as Peter Eastway has already done that I guess I’m out of luck again.

 

Please visit the PhaseOne site for full technical details here:

PhaseOne Technical Details

Cheers BB




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