by Gunther Machu | 21st February 2017
Nothing screams “action cam footage” more than the stuttery, stroboscope-like motion caused by the high shutter speeds used to compensate for high exposure on sunny days, making it particularly difficult to match to other cameras. Read on to see how you can fundamentally change the viewer’s perception of your action cam footage with the use of some GoPro ND! One of the first things you learn as a filmmaker is to use the 180° rule for your shutter speed, a techinque based on the shutter mechanism of old film cameras which effectively means that you should always use a shutter speed equal to double the reciprocal numerical value of your frame rate in order to achieve a smooth motion sequence (e.g. a shutter speed of 1/48s when shooting at 24 frames per second). The resulting motion blur of moving objects in the frame creates a smoothness that is an intrinsic part of the “cinematic look”, and it has a huge impact on the viewer’s experience. This, however, poses a problem when using small action cams like GoPros: their fixed aperture (around f/2.8 in the Hero5 Black, for example) means that the only way to correctly expose the image is by adjusting shutter speed and ISO. F/2.8 on a bright sunny day in snow-covered mountains means the shutter speed can easily drop down to the neighbourhood of 1/2000 – 1/3000s, which translates to zero motion blur even for the fastest action scenes. To bring the shutter speed down, you need to use heavy neutral density (ND) filtration. In our example above, this would be a 5-stop or ND32 filter (32 = 2^5). This reduces the shutter speed from ~1/3000s to ~1/94s, which is close to ideal for a typical action sports frame rate of 50fps. Now, a quick online search for GoPro ND reveals that ND8 and sometimes ND16 filters are what’s mostly available, which is clearly not enough for our example above. PolarPro GoPro Hero5 Black cinema series filters Here’s where the PolarPro GoPro Hero5 Black cinema series filters come into play. The set includes an ND8, ND16 and ND32 filter as a replacement for the front lens element (the HB5 lens cover), using multi coated glass in an anodized aluminium frame. You basically unscrew the original front lens cover on your GoPro Hero 5 Black, and replace it with the PolarPro GoPro ND filter. The result is a nice, flare-free concept that works very well! I did have a little trouble, however, when fitting the GoPro ND as the tolerances are very tight, and you could almost break your fingers while attaching them. I have contacted PolarPro with regards to this problem, and they replied that all orders would be replaced with new filters automatically and free of charge, as there was indeed a tolerance issue. That is some really good customer service! For my skiing video above shot in Flachau, Austria, I mostly used the ND32 filter, and the ND8 on the cloudy shots, which was not enough to produce motion blur. For these scenes, I should have used an ND16 – see if you can spot it! As you can see, the filtration creates a nice motion blur, which in my opinion completely changes the character of the action cam sequences. The GoPro ND makes the footage look organic, helps the subjects stand out from a more blurred background, and on top of that the H.264 encoder has an easier job of distributing the limited bandwidth of ~60Mbit/s in the image to reduce macro-blocking. It certainly does not scream “action cam footage” any longer! Since there are no exposure aids on the GoPro, it can a bit difficult to decide which ND filter to use. I used the manual shutter option and set it at 1/100s in order to match my 50fps, and tried different filters until I got a nicely-exposed image, judging only from the LCD back screen. I then swapped the shutter option back to AUTO, and set the max. ISO to 800 to allow for some automatic exposure compensation by the cam. Using the linear field of view and the Karma Grip (which I reviewed in an earlier post here) offers the additional advantage of spending almost no time in post with image stabilization or optical correction issues. I did use the Protune flat settings, however, so I did add some saturation and contrast. All in all, I can highly recommend the use of ND filters on your action cam as it truly changes the viewing experience and makes it much easier to match action cam footage with other cams. The PolarPro ND filters are just one option, with others including filter sets from Freewell, Holaca, Sandmark and others. In any case, make sure you choose filters that use high-level multicoated anti-flare glass! Figure 1 and 2: Nice, cinematic motion blur created by the heavy ND filtration. A new world of GoPro imaging opens up! GoPro settings for the video above: 2.7K 50p, linear field of view (no fisheye!), max ISO 800, Protune flat, lowest sharpness. The cam was used in conjunction with the GoPro Karma Grip Gimbal, and the time lapse sequences were shot using my Sony A7S II. The PolarPro Cinema Series Filters are available here: US: LINK EU: LINKRead more
by Jakub Han | 18th October 2016
The new Genus Gopro Hero5 cage is hitting the market, and will allow you to extend the possibilities of your GoPro by adding more mounting options as well as a filter thread, while preserving access to all controls on the GoPro. Furthermore, GoPro just released a new firmware for Hero5 cameras, so make sure to keep your camera up to date. It’s only been a few weeks since GoPro released their new Hero5, and already various accessories from other manufacturers are becoming available. While previous GoPro cameras since the Hero3 have had the same dimensions and you could share accessories such as cages between them, the new Hero5 is a little bit bigger due to its waterproof design, which is why the release of a new cage for this model was expected to hit the market soon. Genustech has come out with a new GoPro Hero5 cage, made of aluminium and providing various additional mounting points. The specifications of the cage according to the Genustech website are as follows: Weight: 99g / 3.5oz without camera and 215g / 7.5oz with camera Cage dimensions: (L x W x H) 80mm x 60mm x 38mm 1/4-20 : 9 threaded holes 52mm Filter Thread built into the cage Screw-free design on back plate CNC Aluminum housing for 360 degree protection, back plate with rear mounting option Accessibility window to allow for HDMI output and USB external Power Mounting position for the cage allows the camera lens to be centered optically with a tripod or other camera mount The cage comes with few accessories, such as: GoPro Hero 5 Black Cage Body Back Plate GoPro Mount Adaptor Hot Shoe Mount 52mm Lens Cap Spare 1/4” Screw Small Carry Pouch Keep Your GoPro Up to Date While on the topic of GoPro, it’s worth mentioning that they have just released firmware upgrade fV01.20 for both the Hero5 Black and Hero5 Session. You can take a look at the update details and download it from the GoPro update website. The main highlights of this update are: Enabling Auto Upload to GoPro Plus Adding key performance and connectivity improvements Enabling front screen navigation with camera buttons Do you normally use cages with your GoPro? What feature do you think would make for a perfect GoPro cage? Let us know in the comments below!Read more
by Olaf von Voss | 20th September 2016
GoPro has just announced their new action camera, the GoPro Hero5 Black. Although not totally revolutionary, there are a lot of very nice improvements, such as a waterproof construction, a touch display, voice control and GPS. The GoPro HERO5 Black Being the original action cam brand, GoPro has managed to improve this new model in terms of usability and ruggedness. It features a new waterproof construction (up to 33′ or 10m) which makes the optional housing of previous models obsolete. You will need some sort of cage in order to mount the camera, though. GoPro Hero5 Black without the need of a waterproof housing! The sensor seems to be the same as in the previous model, the Hero4 Black. So all in all, it’s more of an evolution than a revolution we’re witnessing here. It has not one but three microphones built-in in order to be more efficient at reducing wind noise, as it automatically selects the best audio stream by switching between the three microphones. A big step up in terms of usability is the new voice control capability of the GoPro Hero5 Black camera. It enables the user to remotely control the camera through a wide range of voice commands such as ‘GoPro, record!’ or ‘GoPro, switch on!’. You’ll need a special remote control for that, though, which is then connected to the camera wirelessly. If you’re not into voice control, maybe you’ll like the new one-button control system, which seems to makes controlling the camera super easy, without getting confused about which button does what. Even though the older models just had two buttons, I was getting confused all the time… Another nice feature is the newly-introduced image stabilization, although it’s not optical but software driven. Alongside the launch of the GoPro Hero5 Black, there is a whole new software ecosystem of GoPro services and cloud-enabled storage. The goal is to make it very easy for users to capture, edit and upload their footage right off their phone while being in the field. The GoPro Hero5 Black will be available on October 2nd and it will be $399.99 and the also new GoPro Hero5 Session is set to $299.99.Read more
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