Category Archives: Lenses

Polar Pro Launches New Drone Accessories – NAB 2016

Our friends at Polar Pro continue to dominate the industry with their always evolving professional grade product line and innovative ideas. And with a recent appearance on ABC’s Shark Tank, their business has lept tremendously with a $1 million investment by Mark Cuban and Robert Herjavec.

At this year’s NAB Show, we checked out Polar Pro’s latest drone accessories for the DJI Phantom 3, DJI Inspire 1, 3DR Solo as well as the Trippler – a compact tripod / grip / pole combo for action cameras and mobile phones. With my frequent forays into electric longboarding, the Trippler has instantly become my go-to accessory for capturing the moment.

inspire 1 filters
product information button runplayback Polar Pro DJI Zenmuse X3 Filter 3-Pack

phantom 3 filters
product information button runplayback Polar Pro DJI Phantom 4 / Phantom 3 Filter 6-Pack

phantom 3 lights
product information button runplayback Polar Pro LED Light Kit for DJI Phantom 3 Quadcopter

phantom 3 landing gear
product information button runplayback Polar Pro Landing Gear for DJI Phantom 3

phantom 3 gimbal lock
product information button runplayback Polar Pro Lens Cover / Gimbal Lock for Select Phantom 3 Quadcopters

phantom 3 gimbal guard
product information button runplayback Polar Pro Gimbal Guard for Phantom 3 Professional / Advanced / Standard

solo lights
product information button runplayback Polar Pro Headlight and Taillight Kit for 3DR Solo Quadcopter

solo prop guards
product information button runplayback Polar Pro Prop Guards for 3DR Solo Quadcopter

trippler
product information button runplayback Polar Pro Trippler 3-in-1 Tripod/Grip/Pole

How I turned my Ztylus iPhone into a DSLR Killer

Ztylus has been releasing some of the best iPhone accessories for quite some time and their latest product, the premium Z-Prime Lens Kit is no exception. The Z-Prime claims to be a professional grade solution for serious photographers. But I’m mostly into video so in the clip above, I pair it with the Varavon Birdycam Lite to see if a Ztylus equipped iPhone could produce professional DSLR-style results. In short, I was blown away.

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Ztylus Z-Prime Telephoto Lens for iPhone 6

Both the wide and telephoto lens contains 5 glass elements in 4 groups that enable corner to corner sharpness with ultra low distortion. Packaged with the two lenses is the iPhone Metal Series Case, a lens carrier, a pouch and lens cloth. Once again, Ztylus has reinvigorated the power of the iPhone. Be sure to click the banner below to receive 25% off all Ztylus products with our special RUNPLAYBACK referral code.

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Ztylus Z-Prime Lens Kit for iPhone 6

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Varavon Birdycam Lite 3-Axis Camera Gimbal

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product information button runplayback Dot Line SMARTbracket Smartphone Tripod Adapter

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Custom Fancier 717 Quick Release Adapter Base

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WF717 Replacement Quick Release Plate

The 24 Hour Shootout Survival Kit

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Last week Arbor Day Pictures aka Nancy Mitchell, Hannah Mitchell and myself participated in YPSI24, a 24 hour shootout competition where we won second place amongst 40+ entries. It was an awesome experience to witness so many filmmakers of all levels express themselves using a variety of video techniques within experimental and narrative storytelling.

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However, with a 24 hour time limit and a 3 person crew including myself (2 of whom were acting on camera), it was vital that I assemble an equipment package that worked for our story. Too much gear and I’d risk a lot of unncessary setup and breakdown time. Too little gear and I’d lose the visual storytelling that was essential for characterization. We were super honored to win an award and it may not have happened without our 24 Hour Shootout Survival Kit. So here’s how we did it.

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THE STORY
A few weeks before the shoot, we bounced around some preliminary ideas, some that either proved too difficult or too time consuming. Finally, the night before YPSI24, Nancy assembled all of our initial ideas into a creepy story about supernatural revenge. Next, I fleshed out the summary into a rough, 5 page script which would be our blueprint for the day. We all agreed that the concept would remain loose in order to incorporate the YPSI24 “ingredients” that we would be given. Creating a script as a guide for our shotlist/schedule was definitely a critical part of our planning.

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THE SUPPORT
For Camera A support I went with the heavy duty yet light and portable 8.5lb ProAm Heavy Duty Tripod Legs which are typically built for jib cranes but work great with a Manfrotto fluid head and Konova K3 slider as they can hold up to 80 lbs. It even has a super convenient mid level spreader for added stability and adjustable rubber or spiked feet for all kinds of terrain. At $120 shipped, the ProAm Heavy Duty Tripod Legs are an exceptional deal for the quality.

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product information button runplayback ProAm USA PROAMFT Pro Tripod Legs & Bag Kit

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product information button runplayback Manfrotto MVH500AH Fluid Video Head with Flat Base

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product information button runplayback Konova Slider K3 100cm (39.4-Inch)

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THE LIGHTING
Lighting was very minimal as we were mostly daylight dependent. For the ending interior shots we used a pair of budget friendly ePhoto 600 CN600HS LED Lights with Kayo Maxtar V-Mount Li-Ion Batteries. The Kayo Maxtar is a new addition to my kit and one of the best V-Mount battery options out right now. Fully charged, the Kayo can power these lights for up to 6 hours straight. Very impressive!

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ePhoto 600 Led Dimmable CN600HS Video Photography Light

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Kayo Maxtar 177Wh(12000mAh/14.8V) V Mount Battery

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THE SOUND
To keep our sound kit as light and simple as possible, I went with the Zoom H1, Rode Micro Boompole, Rode VideoMic Pro, Aspen HQ-S Lav Mic, P&C Handgrip and an audio extension cable. Our rule was that whoever wasn’t on camera would be the Sound Recordist. With some easy to remember sound recording basics and having a kit this simple ensured that no one would have to be a pro to capture quality sound.

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product information button runplayback Zoom H1 Ultra-Portable Digital Audio Recorder

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product information button runplayback Rode Micro Boompole – 3-Section Boom Pole

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product information button runplayback Rode VideoMic Pro Compact Shotgun Microphone

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AspenMics Lavalier Microphones

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product information button runplayback Dot Line P&C Handgrip

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THE CAMERA A KIT
Having some early success with the latest Panasonic V-Log color profile, I decided to use my workhorse GH4 mounted with a Metabones Canon FD Speedbooster and classic Canon FD glass – 20mm, 28mm, 50mm and 35-105mm. This combination would create a vintage, lived-in look that I thought would be perfect for a horror film.

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I kitted out my GH4 shoulder rig with a Varavon Armor Cage, Aputure V-Screen field monitor, Fotga follow focus, Ikan Tilta V-Mount Plate and a Kayo Maxtar BP-GL175 Li-Ion Battery. With the Kayo, I was able to power the Aputure monitor and use it as a counterweight for the GH4. There’s also a convenient USB port located on the side which kept my iPhone charged at every location.


product information button runplayback Panasonic GH4 4K Video Recording

Metabones Canon FD Speedbooster GH4
Metabones Speedbooster Canon FD Lens to M43 Adapter

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Varavon Armor II GH4 & GH3 Cage

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Aputure VS-3 V-Screen 7″ IPS Field Monitor

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Fotga DP500IIS Follow Focus

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ikan Tilta TT-C12 HyperDeck Shuttle Mount with V-Mount Plate

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Kayo Maxtar 177Wh(12000mAh/14.8V) V Mount Battery

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THE CAMERA B KIT
Our story included many scenes of walking through the woods so I wanted to incorporate gimbal tracking shots without having to spend any time balancing or breaking down the Camera A Kit. For this situation I went with the Ikan Fly-X3 Gimbal paired with the Xiaomi Yi Action Camera aka the $80 Chinese GoPro. Since these walking shots would include both Hannah and Nancy in the shot, it would leave me as the Sound Recordist. The Ikan Fly-X3 doesn’t have a 1/4-20 thread so I rigged a Joby GorillaPod to the handle and fitted it with a Rode VideoMic, Zoom H1, an audio extension cable and a pair of lightweight Auvio Headphones. With the shotgun mic I was then able to capture realtime location sound while also performing stable gimbal shots while walking backwards through the woods. Trust me, it’s not as easy as it sounds.

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product information button runplayback Ikan Fly-X3 Plus 3-Axis Smartphone Gimbal Stabilizer Kit with GoPro HERO3/4 mount

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Xiaomi Yi Action Camera with Wi-Fi

Joby Action Clamp GorillaPod Arm
product information button runplayback Joby Action Clamp with GorillaPod Arm

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Auvio Black Ear-Cup Foldable Headphones

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Another interesting rig we built was an Indy Mogul style DIY 3rd person POV action camera backpack. Designed with cheap PVC pipe from Home Depot, we mounted an Oben Mini Ballhead and the Xiaomi Yi on the rig to create the over the shoulder look during the “search” scenes in the woods. With the Xiamoi’s Wi-Fi app, I would be able to monitor the shots while giving direction to Nancy. We wanted to present an unusual sense of vertigo during these scenes since her character would become more desperate as day turned to night.

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product information button runplayback Oben BD-0 Mini Ball Head

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THE CAMERA C KIT
For a 24 Hour Shootout, it would be tempting to use the DJI Phantom 3 Professional as a shortcut for production value but we didn’t want to go that route. Our initial thought was that an aerial would take up valuable time that we could put towards characterization. Also, because of the hazardous weather conditions on the shoot day, flying a drone would prove too risky. However, nature was on our side when we had a small 10 minute window of clear weather. It was a tricky manuever as I had to fly through a 10 foot clearing in the trees towards a height that revealed just enough of the forest without showing any residential homes or highways. I fitted the Phantom 3 with a Polar Pro Polarizer Filter to prevent glare off the water and was able to get the shot in just two takes. However, flying the drone back to home point was nerve racking as I clipped a few small branches due to the wind and unstable GPS lock. Luckily I had Nancy and Hannah as my spotters on each side of the clearing to prevent the Phantom from going down into the water. The shot was definitely worth it as it created a vast sense of exploration for the Alice character, establishing the forest as a kind of supernatural playground.

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product information button runplayback DJI Phantom 3 Professional Quadcopter with 4K Camera and 3-Axis Gimbal

polarprofilters
Polar Pro DJI Phantom 3 Professional Filter 6-Pack

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THE POST PRODUCTION
We finished our last shot at about 11:30pm and after ingesting all the footage in Adobe Premiere, post production began at 12 midnight. By this time, I was exhausted but not completely tapped out. I knew that once I got past the hump of assembly I would go into creative mode, driven by pure adrenaline. With the help of a large iced coffee I finished assembly by 2:00am and edited straight until 9:00am. The GH4 V-Log setting was especially helpful in color correction for each clip. After dropping in the Panasonic Varicam 35 LUT, I simply adjusted exposure within Lumetri Color and did my best to match the Xiaomi Yi and Phantom 3 footage.

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As the sun started to rise and the 10:00am delivery deadline looming, I did a few last touches and exported the file onto a flash drive. Since the YSPI24 rendevouz was a half hour away, I wasn’t able to do a final preview. At this point, I was completely delirious and just grateful that we completed our film.

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THE EXPERIENCE
YPSI24 was an insanely inspiring good time. From the cordial and energizing meetup with our fellow filmmakers to the hack-a-thon like shooting experience to the final screening at the 500 seat venue, YPSI24 reminded me of why I got into video in the first place. It wasn’t to win awards or make commercials. It was to tell a story using a language that didn’t require an army of people pontificating about the laws of Cinema. It’s a relief to know that the DIY spirit that’s shaped both my personal and professional life has never left me. Hashtag #setlife is not enough. Old traditions and new technologies are not enough. It’s the communal experience of being vulnerable with people that I care about which matters most. Check out our 2015 YPSI24 short “Always Alice” below and remember to always stay inspired!


Always Alice (2015 YPSI24)

Flying the iPhone 6 with Ztylus Lens on a Varavon Birdycam Gimbal

So after unboxing these Ztylus iPhone lens accessories, I wanted to take it out on the field for some test shooting. And for the sake of overkill, I mounted an iPhone 6 with Ztylus smartphone case and the 4-in-1 Revolver Lens onto the Varavon Birdycam 3-Axis Gimbal using a Custom Fancier 717 Adapter Base and the Dot Line SMARTBracket Smartphone Adapter. The combination of all these parts gave the iPhone 6 just enough weight to fly on the Birdycam.

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Ztylus Metal Series Camera Kit for iPhone 6

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Varavon Birdycam2 3-Axis Camera Gimbal

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Custom Fancier 717 Quick Release Adapter Base

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WF717 Replacement Quick Release Plate

SMART_BRACKET
product information button runplayback Dot Line SMARTbracket Smartphone Tripod Adapter

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Ztylus 4-in-1 Revolver Fisheye Lens for iPhone 6

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Ztylus 4-in-1 Revolver Fisheye Lens for iPhone 6

Next we shot some stills using the 4-in-1 Revolver. First we used the fisheye lens which captures a hefty 180 degree field of view.

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Ztylus 4-in-1 Revolver Wide Angle Lens for iPhone 6

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Ztylus 4-in-1 Revolver Wide Angle Lens for iPhone 6

The wide angle lens is great for capturing that extra field of view without having to stand across the street.

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Ztylus 4-in-1 Revolver Circular Polarizer Lens for iPhone 6

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Ztylus 4-in-1 Revolver Circular Polarizer Lens for iPhone 6

The circular polarizer lens cuts glare and reflections from the sun to allow natural colors to show along with great saturation.

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Ztylus 4-in-1 Revolver Macro Lens for iPhone 6

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Ztylus 4-in-1 Revolver Macro Lens for iPhone 6

My favorite is the macro lens as everything looks fascinating when its macro right? Stay tuned for the next part where we’ll try some night shooting with the Ztylus LED Ring Light Attachment. If you have any questions, hit me in the comments below!

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Ztylus LED Ring Light Attachment

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Ztylus iPhone 6 Case + Revolver Lens + Ring Light Unboxing

Back in October, I had the chance to preview the Ztylus smartphone case with 4-in-1 Revolver Lens as well as a prototype of their LED Ring Light. I finally received the final retails versions and I must say they look and feel way better than the prototypes at PhotoPlus.

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The case provides full body aluminum protection and includes an integrated foldable aluminum kickstand to allow you to position your phone in a variety of positions for optimal viewing.

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Ztylus Metal Series Camera Kit for iPhone 6

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The kickstand can be removed to attach a revolving 4-1 lens accessory that includes a polarizer lens, wide angle lens, magnetic macro lens and an extreme fisheye lens. With the flip out design, it makes it easy to choose a lens and lock it into place for those spontaneous picture moments.

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The LED Ring Light is my favorite accessory as it allows you to illuminate your subjects in extremely low light situations. Additionally, it can be detached to give even more options of lighting your subject to create some really advanced smartphone photography. With adjustable temperature controls, 1/4-20 thread mount and various diffusers, this is definitely a useful accessory for multiple shooting environments.

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Ztylus LED Ring Light Attachment

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Stay tuned for Part 2 where I take the Ztylus out on the field for some run and gun, videography and photography. Also click the banner to receive 25% OFF ALL ZTYLUS PRODUCTS with our special RUNPLAYBACK referral code. Hit me in the comments if you have any questions.

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Atomos Shogun 4K Recorder 6.2 Firmware Test with the Panasonic GH4 & Sony A7S

After my first impressions with the Atomos Shogun 6.2 Firmware Update, we decided to do a Steadicam field test with the new features on both the Panasonic GH4 and Sony A7S. Using the same Canon FD lenses and Avid DNxHR 4K codec, I was able to get great results that showcase the advanced performance of both cameras when paired with the Atomos Shogun. Click the video above to compare the results.

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product information button runplayback Atomos Shogun 4K HDMI/12G-SDI Recorder and 7″ Monitor

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The Panasonic GH4 was outfitted with a Metabones Canon FD Speedbooster to maximize focal length while using my custom CineLike V color profile would require very minor grading in post. With the Atomos Shogun 6.2 Firmware Update, I was also able to utilize the 4K to HD downconvert to allow passthrough to an HD monitor on the Steadicam sled. This proved to be a valuable feature since my AC could use the Shogun to easily focus and access all the features on the touchscreen.


product information button runplayback Panasonic GH4 4K Video Recording

Metabones Canon FD Speedbooster GH4Metabones FD speed booster GH4 4k adapter
Metabones Speedbooster Canon FD Lens to M43 Adapter

A7S

The Sony A7S was fitted with a Metabones E-Mount to Canon FD adapter which retained the full frame focal length while the S-Log color profile and native 3200 ISO required using a Tiffen ND 1.5 Filter and a custom LUT in post. The 3D LUT feature on the Shogun was helpful to quickly preview the color grade and assist with focusing. I can see this being a great feature for client preview since those unfamiliar with S-Log can sometimes get thrown off by the flatness.

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product information button runplayback Sony Alpha A7S Mirrorless Digital Camera

metabones
product information button runplayback Metabones Canon FD to Sony NEX Camera Lens Adapter

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product information button runplayback Tiffen 77mm Neutral Density 1.5 Filter

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This is also the first time I’ve used the Avid DNxHR 4K codec which uses a 4:4:4 color space for high quality color correction and finishing. I had to download and install the codec from the Avid website to make it compatible with Adobe Premiere Pro CC. While I can’t tell the difference between DNxHR and ProRes just yet, it’s always good to have options for the different flavors of NLE.

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Overall, I’m very pleased with the new Shogun firmware and how easily it adapts to the quirks of both the GH4 and A7S. While it’s no surprise that the GH4 performs consistently everytime, I was definitely pleased with the amount of dynamic range the A7S is capable of, especially when paired with the Shogun. Next, I look forward to testing out the Shogun’s new firmware features at night.

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PVGear also just announced a full metal cage system that protects the plastic housing of the Atomos Shogun, locks down and protects fragile HDMI Ports, and provides several mounting threads for additional accessories that are often used with the Shogun. To further protect the Shogun Audio Input Cable, PVGear has designed a custom block that surrounds and protects the cable from accidental damage. I’ve always felt the Shogun housing feels very fragile and a bit exposed so this will definitely become an essential part of my rig. Look for the PVGear Shogun Cage to start shipping this April.

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Cage for Atomos Shogun 4K Recorder

Shooting with the Panasonic GH4 and LG G3 in the Dominican Republic

A few months ago I had the opportunity to shoot overseas in the Dominican Republic for Project Picture Day, a non-profit organization that creates school pictures for children in under developing countries. The clip above chronicles our journey through Cienfuegos, Santiago.

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Photo Credit: Jennifer Campos

The Panasonic GH4 and LG G3 became my tools of choice for the portability. For a more detailed explanation on how I used the LG G3 on this shoot click here. I realized early on that it was best to travel as light as possible and to only bring the essentials to avoid attracting too much attention. According to our local hosts, DSLR-style cameras are common items targeted by opportunists on motorcycles.


product information button runplayback Panasonic GH4 4K Video Recording

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product information button runplayback LG G3 32GB Smartphone (Unlocked, Metallic Black)

SMART_BRACKET
product information button runplayback Dot Line SMARTbracket Smartphone Tripod Adapter

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Photo Credit: Jennifer Campos

For on camera sound I used the Rode VideoMic and for the interviews, the Aspen HQ-S Stereo Lav Mic and Zoom H1 were a perfect combo. Everything was contained in my Lowepro Pro Runner which fits into most carry on compartments and can handle a lot of abuse.

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product information button runplayback Rode VideoMic Pro Compact Shotgun Microphone

aspenmics
AspenMics Lavalier Microphones

zoomh1
product information button runplayback Zoom H1 Ultra-Portable Digital Audio Recorder

lowepro
product information button runplayback Lowepro Pro Runner x450 Rolling AW Backpack

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Photo Credit: Jennifer Campos

Since our goal was to capture candid moments with school children, I wanted to appear as if I was just another photographer shooting stills. The GH4’s built in EVF is surprisingly sharp and detailed and was perfect for shooting in the carribean climate of Santiago. Without the need for a huge rig or a field monitor, I could quickly and easily build out my camera to shoot spontaneous moments.

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Photo Credit: Jennifer Campos

I’m really pleased with the work we accomplished in the Dominican Republic. To shoot for a positive cause that can directly influence or inspire children is a feeling that’s very different than any other job and I look forward to doing it again. Please visit the Project Picture Day website for more information and hit me up in the comments if you have any questions!

Shooting “Water Weight” with the Panasonic AF100

Four years ago, I wrote and directed an independent feature film titled “Starla”, which I’ve recut into a 35 minute short film called “Water Weight”. Narrative filmmaking can be incredibly demanding but with the right gear and skilled crew, it can also be one of the best experiences of your career. I wanted to revisit the making of the film by having my good friend and Director of Photography, Clayton Combe discuss his experiences working on set with a small crew and the Panasonic AF-100, which at the time was touted as a “DSLR Killer”. Here’s what Clayton had to say about shooting “Water Weight”:

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For the first two weeks of April 2011, I had the pleasure of working as DP for “Starla,” a narrative feature by director Rik Cordero. Now, Rik has recut the film into “Water Weight,” a 35-minute version that pares the story down to its bare essentials. From the film’s conception, it was designed to be shot quickly and on a minimal budget; most of the scenes required only two actors at a time, and locations (while visually diverse) centered around only two geographical places. Our speedy eleven-day schedule and small crew meant that we had to use as much available light as possible, and we rarely did more than two takes except for action- or effects-oriented shots. Prior to “Starla,” I’d shot several music videos and commercials on my Panasonic AF100, and it seemed like a good fit for the feature. Little did I know just how perfect it would be.

(A disclaimer: the then-unique features of the AF100 can now be found in many other cameras with better resolution, dynamic range, and low-light performance. But at the time, it was on the cutting edge of small-body-large-sensor-low-price camera technology. Today, we’d probably shoot this film on a Canon C500 or Sony FS7.)

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product information button runplayback Panasonic AG-AF100A Digital Cinema Camcorder

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My basic rig was built around the Zacuto universal baseplate, with 15mm rods supporting matte box, follow focus, and a 90-degree-offset Anton Bauer mount on the back (like an ENG camera). I monitored with a 7″ Marshall with SDI pass-through to video village. This rig could be switched between tripod build and shoulder-mount in about twenty seconds, and was light, comfortable, compact, and well-balanced. However, by removing the Bauer plate, switching to the 5″ Marshall (incredibly lightweight), and adding the camera’s removable ergonomic handgrip to the side, I could build the AF100 more like a stripped-down Red Epic, allowing much more flexibility in small spaces. With my Canon 7D rig this would have meant I couldn’t monitor, since my AJA SDI converter needed battery power, but the AF100’s many video outputs mean this small build worked great for jib, steadicam, and car rigging as well.

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This small configuration was the element that made possible several shots that move through spaces in unpredictable ways, which was an aesthetic choice Rik made very early on in pre-production. The best thing a camera can do is allow you to make your director’s vision a reality, and the AF100 had my back at every turn.

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product information button runplayback Zacuto Z-UB3 Universal Baseplate Version 3

marshall
product information button runplayback Marshall Electronics M-CT7 7″ Camera Top Monitor with Canon LP-E6 Plate/Battery/Charger

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A large part of the film takes place outside in bright sunlight, and because we didn’t have the time or manpower to fly large diffusion frames or fight sunlight levels with big lights, I frequently had to use the sun as a key light. Paired with a polarizer, the AF100’s built-in ND wheel made exposing for the sun simple. I also used varying strengths of Tiffen Black Pro Mist in front of the lens, to soften the highlights and give the image a little more filmic look. I rated the camera at 200 ISO for most exteriors and 400 ISO (its native speed) for most interiors, pushing one stop to 800 ISO for a few shots. Even at 800, the image was fairly clean, and what noise was there wasn’t too bad-looking.

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product information button runplayback Tiffen 4 x 5.65″ Black Pro-Mist 1/4 Filter

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I shot the film using my Canon FD prime lenses, mounting them on the AF100 with a Micro 4/3rds to FD adapter. With the optical adapter I used for these lenses on the 7D, I’d have to stop down a bit to avoid blooming, so I’d almost forgotten how gorgeous this glass is wide open. I’d recommend Canon FDs to anyone for lower-budget work; the lenses and adapters are cheap and the image quality is fantastic, very similar to a cine lens.

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product information button runplayback Metabones Canon FD Mount Lens to Micro Four Thirds Lens Mount Adapter (Black)

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Because of the low budget and short post-production schedule, I chose to achieve the film’s look in-camera, rather than rely on color grading. My beloved Panasonic painting tools made this process quick and painless, and I was able to fine-tune the image as we shot, as well as avoid the problems of grading footage that’s been compressed. If you get the picture close to what you want before it’s encoded onto the cards, you’ll end up with less work trying to hide compression artifacts in the graded image. It leaves less room for post-production changes, but Rik knew what he wanted it to look like beforehand. Nowadays, most cameras can record to an external card to avoid high compression, but that option wasn’t feasible at the time.

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“Starla/Water Weight” is a diverse mix of aesthetic styles, but the AF100 handled all conditions beautifully and allowed us to create images that exceeded the director’s expectations. They say out of the trio of money, time, and quality, you can choose two; but the AF100 (along with a few talented, passionate people and a lot of planning) got us as close to achieving all three as I’ve ever been.

How to De-fish GoPro Footage in Adobe After Effects CC

A few days ago, I explained how to do a basic de-fish of fisheye footage using the default effects in Adobe Premiere CC. While fisheye lens distortion is definitely a stylistic choice, in some cases, the fisheye look is just not suitable for the scene. Since the GoPro has a fixed fisheye lens, the easiest way to get around it is to do an advanced de-fish using Adobe After Effects CC. Here’s how you do it.

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First import your GoPro footage into After Effects and under the Distort video effect, choose Optics Compensation. Under Field of View or FOV change the number to 75.0 and select the checkbox under Reverse Lens Distortion. Next, change the FOV Orientation to Diagonal and for Resize choose Max 2X.

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You will notice an immediate de-fishing of your GoPro footage as the horizon lines begins to straighten out. To get the maximum field of view, select your footage in the timeline and under Transform, change the scale to 75.0%. This will scale down your footage to reveal the maximum horizontal plane.

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Although you gain horizontal width of your image, you lose the vertical space because the image is squeezing inward to de-fish. To solve this, just drop in a 2:35 letterbox matte to give the footage a widescreen look. Throw in some color correction and warp stabilization and your raw GoPro fisheye footage will appear more cinematic and pleasing to the eye. If you have any questions please hit me in the comments below.

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product information button runplayback GoPro HERO4 Black Edition 4K Video Action Camera

Polar Pro GoPro Frame 2.0 Neutral Density and Polarizer Filter Test

Back in October at the PhotoPlus Expo, we stopped by the Polar Pro booth to preview their latest Frame 2.0 Neutral Density and Polarizer Filters. We decided to test out these lightweight filters on the DJI Phantom Vision+ Quadcopter and GoPro HERO3+ with a flight over the historic Paterson Great Falls in Paterson New Jersey.

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The Polar Pro Neutral Density Filter was very easy to install with a secure push-in design that fits over the bare GoPro lens like a glove. Although the filter is made of lightweight glass, you may require a counterbalance depending on your drone gimbal. As seen in the video above, the Polar Pro ND Filter slowed down the shutter speed for more natural motion blur and eliminated the annoying GoPro rolling shutter and wobble. Additionally the ISO seemed to bump up a little more to reveal a more detailed image.

polarpro_polarizer

According to our tests, the Polar Pro Polarizer immediately showed an improvement in color saturation and reduced some of the reflective glare over the water. There was also an improvement in overall sharpness and clarity which worked great for the overcast weather we were shooting in.

polarpro_powerpole

The guys at Polar Pro are making some of the best GoPro accessories out there and we look forward to testing out the new Polar Pro Power Pole (a battery powered monopod with dual USB ports) next. Stay tuned!

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product information button runplayback Polar Pro Glass Neutral Density Filter for GoPro HERO3 and HERO3+

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product information button runplayback Polar Pro Glass Polarizer Filter for GoPro HERO3 and HERO3+

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product information button runplayback Polar Pro PowerPole Battery Integrated Pole for GoPro HERO Cameras

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product information button runplayback DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ Quadcopter with Extra Battery Bundle

How to Quickly De-Fish Your Fisheye Footage in Adobe Premiere CC

Rapper Joell Ortiz and I recently collaborated on a promo spot for New Era titled “Home of the Authentic”. Our goal was to shoot a few of Joell’s childhood stomping grounds in addition to capturing soundbites about his love for his hometown of Brooklyn, NY. Our locations were mostly walking exterior scenes so we decided to shoot on the Panasonic GH4 with the Rokinon 7.5mm 3.5 fisheye mounted on the Varavon Birdycam 3-Axis Camera Gimbal. Although I love the fisheye look, it felt a little extreme for a promo video. However, I knew that I would be able to de-fish the footage in post without slowing down my workflow. Here’s how I did it.

defish

For those using the latest version of Adobe Premiere CC, there’s a quick trick to de-fishing your footage when using lenses like the Rokinon 7.5mm or action cameras like the GoPro. Simply create an Adjustment Layer and place it on a layer above the fisheye footage. Next, go to Video Effects > Distort > Lens Distortion and drag that onto your Adjustment Layer. Under Curvature, enter -20 and you will instantly notice that the footage has been de-fished or straightened out. Your mileage may vary when inputing the Curvature settings but somewhere between -20 and -30 should be your sweet spot. If you have more de-fishing tricks hit me on the comments below.


product information button runplayback Panasonic GH4 4K Video Recording

rokinon
product information button runplayback Rokinon 7.5mm f/3.5 Ultra Wide-Angle Fisheye Lens for Micro 4/3

varavon birdycam
Varavon Birdycam2 3-Axis Camera Gimbal

Shooting the new LG G Watch R with Eric West

Recently, I had the pleasure of working with actor, artist and musician Eric West on a promotional series for the new LG G Watch R smartwatch. Composed of 3 short episodes, Eric and I made our way through Brooklyn and Manhattan, capturing his day to day activities and how wearable technology seamlessly integrates into his life.

The LG G Watch R has a lot of cool features such as voice recognition – great for hands free texting and emailing, fitness tracking with a built in heart rate monitor and a high resolution circular POLED display where you can customize the watch face with a large variety of colors and designs.

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product information button runplayback LG G Watch R

I shot Eric with my go-to Panasonic GH4 and Metabones Canon FD Speedbooster setup along with a Canon FD 20mm f2.8 and a Canon FD 35-105mm 3.5 for macro shots of the G Watch. For exterior shots I used a Tiffen 77mm ND 0.9 filter and also placed Sensei 72-77mm step up rings on both lenses for convenience. It was a fun, easy shoot and capturing Eric as he discovered the benefits of wearable technology in real-time was inspiring.


product information button runplayback Panasonic GH4 4K Video Recording

Metabones Canon FD Speedbooster GH4
Metabones Speedbooster Canon FD Lens to M43 Adapter

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product information button runplayback Tiffen 77mm Neutral Density 0.9 Filter

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product information button runplayback Sensei 72-77mm Step-Up Ring

Behind the Scenes of the Joey Bada$$ “No. 99” Music Video

A few weeks ago, rapper Joey Bada$$ and I collaborated on a music video for the single “No. 99”, an uptempo Hip Hop anthem reminiscent of a 1990’s classic. Our goal was to create a voyeuristic, gritty street video with many scenes of chaos sprinkled throughout. Realizing this would require two shoot days and multiple locations, I came up with a simple gear list that would get us through our many setups.

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Dual GH4’s with Metabones Canon FD Speedboosters were used. B Cam was mounted with a Canon FD 35-105mm f3.5 for mediums and closeups while A Cam used the Canon FD 20mm f2.8 with the ePhoto R640 18” LED Ring Light rigged to a custom shoulder mount. To power the ring light we used a Switronix XP-L90S Lithium Battery with a Fiilex D-Tap Cable.

Metabones Canon FD Speedbooster GH4
Metabones Speedbooster Canon FD Lens to M43 Adapter

ephoto
ePhoto R640 18” LED Ring Light

switronix
Switronix XP-L90S V-Type 14.8VDC Lithium Battery


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Fiilex Coiled D-Tap Cable (1.9′)

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P&C Shoulder Rig Handles and a Honu GH4 Cage with a top handle were used to mount the ring light across three points with velcro straps. Since the camera had to sit in the middle of the ring, this was the most efficient way to rig it. From there we ran the Fiilex D-Tap cable to the Switronix battery inside of our Camera Operator’s jacket, giving us a power source that would last all day. And since we were going for a voyeuristic, run and gun feel, this would be our main camera setup for every scene.

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P&C Shoulder Rig Handles

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Honu 2.0 GH3/GH4 AND SONY A7/A7R Video Cage

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Honu Top Handle

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To shoot Joey and a mob full of his crew performing, we utilized the Varavon Birdycam 3-Axis Camera Gimbal with a Rokinon 7.5mm Fisheye for our C Cam while shooting from the back of a cargo van. Since the road at our main location was littered with potholes, the Birdycam eliminated almost 95% of the shakiness.

varavon birdycam
Varavon Birdycam2 3-Axis Camera Gimbal

rokinon
product information button runplayback Rokinon 7.5mm f/3.5 Ultra Wide-Angle Fisheye Lens for Micro 4/3

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We also incorporated the DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ Quadcopter mounted with the GoPro HERO4 for a few scenes that would simulate footage from a news helicopter. Our location in Willets Point, NY also known as the Iron Triangle has a very post-apocalyptic appearance and is filled with auto repair shops and scrap yards – a feast for aerial shooting.

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product information button runplayback DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ Quadcopter with Extra Battery Bundle

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product information button runplayback GoPro HERO4 Black Edition 4K Video Action Camera

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Occasionally we would require some fill or backlight so we used the F&V K4000 LED Light Panel. This worked great with the ring light and helped to enhance all the background action. Any additional fill on Joey came from the prop torches he was wielding. A run and gun yet highly organized effort made this a great shoot to work on. By minimizing our gear list, we were able to get more setups and candid moments. Check out the full video below and let me know what you think!

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K4000 Daylight LED Studio Panel

SLR Magic’s Anamorphic Adapter On Sale For $529.00 At Adorama

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I’ve been a big fan of shooting anamorphic with the Panasonic GH3/GH4 for quite some time beginning with the rare Panasonic AG-LA7200 with 14mm pancake lens combination. From focusing to transcoding, it’s an intense workflow that’s not really suited for run and gun shooting. However, in controlled environments, it’s very fun to use. Here’s some clips I shot with my Panasonic GH3 and LA7200 anamorphic setup.


Asher Roth “Turnip The Beet” Music Video


Action Bronson & Party Supplies “Blue Chips 2” Trailer


Chris Miles “Bounce” Music Video

It seems the anamorphic look is making a comeback with the new SLR Magic Anamorphic Lens Adapter which is currently on sale for $529 at Adorama. The lens offers a very unique feature – a built in adjustable diopter to help with focusing. As with most anamorphic lenses you’ll be getting sweet horizontal flare and streaks and in increase in resolution by maximizing the image on the camera sensor.

Check out this clip by Roger Sieber which features the SLR Magic Anamorphic Lens Adapter with a Canon 28mm f1.8. After selling my AG-LA7200 months ago, I think this adapter might reel me back into anamorphic shooting. What do you guys think?


“Crystallized GH4 Anamorphic Test


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product information button runplayback SLR Magic Anamorphot 1.33x 50 Anamorphic Adapter

Panasonic GH4 + Metabones Speedbooster + Adobe Premiere Color Correction

I’m often asked about the color settings I use for my Panasonic GH4 + Metabones Canon FD Speedbooster combo. I did a few extensive tests and these are the settings I came up with to create a “lived-in” look with the least amount of noise in low light situations. I’ve included a few of my selected works that prominently feature this color correction.


Amalgamated Bank & Rock the Vote Present: City of the Sun

I try to steer away from film-style effects in post unless the concept explicitly calls for it. Also that out-of-the-box, sharp digital look isn’t my cup of tea.


Live In Levi’s (60 Second Spot)

GH4 COLOR PROFILE
Cinelike V
Contrast: 0
Sharpness: -5
Noise Reduction: 0
Saturation: -2
Hue: +2
Highlight Shadow: Standard
i.Dynamic: Off
i.Resolution: Standard
Master Pedestal Level: +10
Luminance Level: 0-255

RGB CURVES
Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2014

ADOBE PREMIERE PRO CC
I used to combine a bunch of different color correction filters like Three-Way Color Corrector or Fast Color Corrector with RGB Curves until I realized I could achieve the best results using only RGB Curves which makes matching footage with various exposure levels a piece of cake. This is my typical starting point for RGB Curves for a standard daylight scene. Remember to apply this effect to an adjustment layer to maintain the look throughout your sequence.


Nico & Vinz “Am I Wrong” Music Video (Official U.S. Version)

Master: I’ll either do an S curve for overexposed footage or a reverse S curve for underexposed. You’ll want to dial in carefully here as the keyframes can be pretty sensitive.

Red: I play with this curve to dial in scenes that are tungsten or too warm.

Green: I don’t touch the green curve too much unless there’s too much green in the shot.

Blue: I also like to bring the bottom left Blue keyframe up slightly to bring some color into the shadows and dark highlights. Dial this in for scenes that are too cool.

I also like to add a little post sharpening (20-30 is the sweet spot) to punch up the details. Follow these settings if you dig this look and if you can push it even further, please share your settings in the comments below.


Migos “Bando” Musical


product information button runplayback Panasonic GH4 4K Video Recording

Metabones Canon FD Speedbooster GH4Metabones FD speed booster GH4 4k adapter
Metabones Speedbooster Canon FD Lens to M43 Adapter

Metabones Canon FD to Micro Four Thirds Speed Booster

One of the first things I bought after receiving my Panasonic GH4 was the Metabones Canon FD to Micro Four Thirds Speed Booster. The Speed Booster is an adapter that allows full frame lenses to be mounted to Micro Four Thirds mirrorless cameras. Not only do you gain a (sort of) full frame view you also increase the lens’s aperture by a full stop. There’s more affordable Speed Boosters available online but Metabones is made with such a high build quality, its difficult for me to try anything less. Optics are a big deal and you don’t want to skimp on quality glass.

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Panasonic GH4 + Metabones Canon FD Speedbooster + Canon FD 35-105mm 3.5 lens

I chose the Canon FD Speed Booster because Canon FD lenses, to me, are true modern classics that have an excellent overall mechanical build and feel “lived in”. By some careful bids on ebay I was able to amass a wide variety of lenses for under $300.

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Canon FD 20mm 2.8, 28mm 2.8, 50mm 1.4, 35-105mm 3.5, 80-200mm 4.0

The Metabones Speed Booster makes the GH4 feel like another camera all together, especially shooting in 4K. There’s a real sense of appreciation when putting an SLR lens on a mirrorless body without altering your field of view. It’s pretty liberating to be honest. As someone who likes shooting with manual focus, this is a must have and since I have a few Canon FD lenses, I’ll probably pick up another one for a B camera. This is the first video I shot using the GH4 + Metabones combo:


Jared Evan “Charlie Brown” Music Video

Metabones Canon FD Speedbooster GH4Metabones FD speed booster GH4 4k adapter
Metabones Speedbooster Canon FD Lens to M43 Adapter