So, here’s what I am working on. This is a “work in progress” but I’m liking where it’s going. My aim is to create a truly useable kit for the F3 that will turn it into an ENG type camera. Now I’m not suggesting that the F3 is a good camera for news or that type of fast moving thing. But for documentaries it has a big place and the easier I can make it to use, the better. The rig is made up form all kinds of bits and pieces.
1: This is an old Canon J16x8x2 SD broadcast lens, which becomes a 20 to 320mm f4 zoom lens. It works OK, fine when wide but a little soft in the corners at the long end.
2: New metal body HDSDi Cineroid EVF attached with a custom bracket (5)
3: Genus GMB-P ENG camcorder adapter with 15mm bar support. This has the quick release wedge needed to work with the VCT-14 tripod plate.
4: My B4 to F3 adapter. Watch this space, in production very soon.
5: Custom made (by me) PMW-F3 ‘H” plate. This attaches to the two 1/4″ threads on the top of the camera body and gives you lots of 1/4″ threads along the entire length of both sides of the top of the F3. To this attaches a custom fully adjustable viewfinder mounting system.
6: Custom made shoulder mount. On production units this would be a little shorter, it’s a bit tall on the prototype. It features an adjustable soft shoulder pad and mounts for the cheese plate and VCT-14 adapter.
7: Genus cheese plate.
8: IDX V-Lock adapter plate. But you could also use an Anton Bauer plate.
9: DSM V-Lock battery (98Wh). Will run the rig for over 4 hours.
10: VCT-14 quick release plate.
The balance point for the rig is just slightly forward of the centre of the shoulder pad, so it’s really nice to handhold. A slightly bigger battery or a Convergent Design Gemini on the back would give near perfect balance.
So, what do you think, would you by this lot (excluding lens and EVF) as a kit? I’m looking to do a small run of kits, no idea of the price yet. More pictures below, click on the thumbnail for a high-res image.
So here is my current set up. As you may know Genus are making the 3D rig that I designed, so I get to play with the latest Genus bits and pieces. This is my F3 with a pre-production universal riser and base plate. The base plate will fit most camcorders and incorporates mounts for a pair of 15mm rails. Up front I have a Genus Wide 4×4 matte box. I’m really pleased with this light weight matte box with added top flag, it is a good match for the Nikon DSLR lenses that I will be using and is much, much lighter than my old Petroff matte box. It fits lenses up to 105mm diameter so I will need a bigger matte box for many PL mount lenses (and bigger filters) perhaps I’ll get one of those nice TLS Raven Matte Boxes. For smaller lenses though the Genus 4×4 is really nice. Behind the matte box I have a Genus Superior follow focus. This is a silky smooth FF unit and on this lens it’s driving one of Genus’s clever flexible lens gears. This is a little bit like a hose clip, a thumb screw tightens it up so that it fastens snuggly around the lens. It will fit a much larger range of lenses than a traditional rigid lens gear. The lens in the pictures is a Tokina ATX-Pro 28-70mm parfocal zoom. This is a great lens, plenty sharp enough for HD video and it doesn’t telescope when you zoom. Breathing is minimal. To match the lens to the camera there is one of Mike Tappas (MTF) excellent Nikon to F3 adapters.
Underneath the lens I have a pair of hand grips from the Genus shoulder mount kit. The shoulder pad is right at the back behind the camera. For a little bit of extra convenience I have a Genus GAP adapter plate that allows me to use a quick release VCT-14 tripod plate.
The only thing left to sort is a loupe for the LCD screen. I’ve experimented with a Hoodman DSLR loupe that I have and this almost works. It doesn’t cover the full width of the LCD, but does allow me to use the LCD as a viewfinder when using this shoulder rig. I guess I need to get the Hoodman Hood Riser and Hood Strap to make the loupe fit the LCD correctly. I’ve read elsewhere that it does not fit the F3, but my experiments with the loupe alone suggests it will fit. Anyone else tried it yet? I’d rather go this route than getting a Cineroid viewfinder.
The tripod is a Manfrotto 509. This one of their new silky smooth “bridge” style heads. The 509 is a mid weight head with a pretty high payload capability, true fluid action and variable counter balance. I’m going do a separate write up on the tripod, it’s really rather good, especially considering the price!
I have been asked to show how I mount my NanoFlash on my EX3 so below are a couple of pictures of the full rig with some details of some of the various items that I use.
1. This is my Petroff 4×4 matte box with bellows hood. I love the old fashioned style bellows lens shade as you can adjust it in and out very quickly to eliminate stray light. A french Flag can be added if desired, but I find in most cases that the bellows shade is fine. Stray light causes reflections both between filters and within the lens, this can reduce contrast in the image so a good lens hood is essential for getting the best pictures. The Matte Box has 2 rotating filter holders. I often use some very gentle blue or grey grads to help with bright skies.
2. The standard EX3 lens. This lens is a remarkably good lens. Keep it between F8 and F2.8 for best results. The sweet spot is F4. Never use the Iris at F16 or F11, your pictures will be soft due to diffraction limiting. This is not a lens fault but something that would happen with any lens and 1/2? sensors (it’s even worse with smaller sensors). The beauty of the standard EX lens is that it incorporates automatic chromatic aberration correction which means no nasty blue or purple fringes around areas of high contrast.
3. SxS Cards. Even though I was one of the first people to work out how to use low cost SD cards with the fabled Kennsington Adapter I still use SxS cards. The reason is simple: reliability. If you look around the forums you will find lots of people having issues with SD cards. For example a wedding videographer that lost a large part of a service he had shot. If he had used SxS then that just would not have happened. I am a professional and my reputation is vital. That reputation could easily be destroyed if I came back from a shoot with nothing but corrupt data because I had tried to cut corners.
4. Kata Camera Glove. Protects the camera from everyday knocks and bumps as well as unexpected rain or dust.
5. The Cheek Pad. I know many EX3 users don’t fit these. It looks flimsy, but in use it’s strong enough and it really helps to stop the cameras tendency to want to tilt to the left. It makes the camera much more stable and really is worth trying.
6. Convergent Design NanoFlash. This incredible little box allows me to record from the HDSDi output at upto 160Mb/s long Gop. At 100 Mb/s you can’t tell the compressed from the uncompressed. By shooting with this I can grade and color correct my footage, make dubs, go multi generation without seeing any drop in quality. It also means my footage is accepted for HD broadcast by the BBC and the majority of other HD broadcasters. The EX 35Mb footage is good, don’t get me wrong but the 100Mb is sweet. It uses inexpensive Compact Flash cards and by recording to both SxS and the Nano at the same time I can be sure that even if I were to get a card failure I have a backup.
7. IDX V-Lock batteries. One of these will run this rig for around 5 hours. I am also looking at getting some of the Swit EX batteries with the Power-Con/D-Tap out to run the EX and NanoFlash, but by putting the battery out behind the camera the overall balance of the rig is improved. In fact without this larger battery the matte box tends to make it very front heavy.
8. Quick release shoulder pad. This is a home brew affair that incorporates a shoulder pad the V-lock battery adapter and NanoFlash or Radio Mic mount. It can be removed without tools in seconds. Perhaps one day I will get some Zacuto rails or similar, but they are rather expensive and this setup works very well for me.
9. Sony ECM-680S. This is a nice Stereo/Mono switchable gun mic. It is great for capturing nice stereo ambience and effects sound. Flick the switch and it becomes a useful interview mic.
10. DM accessories EX3 reinforcement plate. This is a MUST HAVE item. It provides you with a much stronger tripod fixing with both 1/4? and 1/2? threads as well as a host of other threaded holes for various applications. It makes the camera feel so much more solid on a tripod. I really can’t recommend it enough. below this is a cheap, Indian made Matte Box rail kit. It works, but again I could really do with some Zacuto rails or similar.
11. Chamois leather viewfinder cover. Much nicer against your skin than hard rubber. Also absorbs sweat and moisture which helps prevent the viewfinder from fogging. Another option is a small sweat band.
Most Recent Posts
- Super Slow Motion 480fps Lightning.
- The Grand Canyon, shot with an FS700.
- Canon Launches new C100 AVCHD s35mm camcorder.
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- Cineroid HDSDI EVF (EVF-4MSS) review.
- Juice Designs EX1R Baseplate.
- Manfrotto 509 Tripod Head
- NEX-FS700 In Depth Review.
- Review of the Sony PMW-200
- Sonnet QIO Review. Very, Very, Fast Offloads.
- Sonnet SDHC to SxS Camera Adapter.
- Sony FS100 and F3 Video Review
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- Tilta BS-TS03 Shoulder Mount Review
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- alisterchapman on 50 Megabits for the masses, the new Sony PMW-200.
- alisterchapman on The Grand Canyon, shot with an FS700.
- alisterchapman on Alphatron EVF-035W Video Review.
- alisterchapman on Uncompressed 240 fps possible with FS700 and Convergent Design Gemini. Tested!
- alisterchapman on Adaptimax Lens Mount Adapters for PMW-F3, Canon and Nikon.