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 Sebastian Wöber | 8th February 2017
DJI just introduced a set of useful Mavic Pro accessories. Their smallest and most versatile drone, the DJI Mavic Pro has recently started shipping and received some very positive reviews both by amateurs as well as professionals. The foldable little aerial platform is probably the drone market leader’s most successful product ever. The New Mavic Pro Accessories Detail of Mavic Pro with new Propeller Cage Propeller Cage without Mavic Pro The Propeller Cage DJI introduces two new Mavic Pro Accessories that shield the Mavic Pro’s propellers, providing an extra measure of safety and protection during flight. The Propeller Cage mounts on the Mavic Pro’s arms and completely encircles a set of slightly smaller 7728 Quick-Release Folding Propellers, while the Propeller Guard only places a barrier around the propellers. New, smaller Mavic Pro Propellers, to fit the Propeller Cage The Propeller Cage is probably ideal for those starting out with flying and want to avoid hurting someone. With the additional weight of the Propeller cage, unfortunately the Mavic Pro’s maximum flight time is reduced from 25 to only 12 minutes. Mavic Pro with new Propeller Guard attached The Propeller Guard The second flight safety accessory is the propeller guard. As mentioned it only places a barrier around the drone which also seems like a great protection. Unfortunately there’s no word on reduced flight time, but I’m guessing that it’s also considerably less than when flying without the protection. The other new Mavic Pro Accessories Mavic Pro Advanced Battery Charging Hub There are some more small Mavic Pro Accessories: The Advanced Battery Charging Hub for Mavic Pro is a charges up to four Intelligent Flight Batteries in a single session. The batteries will be charged in sequence according to their power levels, from high to low. It’s also compatible with the Phantom 4 series 100W charger that can further reduce the charging time. You need the charger itself in combination with the hub. Mavic Pro Drone Sleeve Accessory There’s also a “Drone Sleeve” that helps you store the Mavic Pro in a smaller form factor and protects it from dust and scratches. The downside of the new Mavic Pro Sleeve of course is that it won’t hold the other Mavic Pro accessories that you just bought. DJI Mavic Pro ND Filters New Mavic Pro ND Filters by DJI Other Mavic Pro accessories include a new remote controller monitor hood and DJI ND Filters which can be easily attached to the camera gimbal, allowing you to control the camera’s exposure better in bright environments. This is often very important in order to keep the shutter speed to a cinematic 1/50th of a second. Other Mavic Pro ND Filters We have been testing the Freewell Mavic Pro ND Filters recently and found them pretty good. These are more expensive, but there are more filter options and the Freewell Mavic Pro ND Filters also incorporate a slight IR cancellation to make sure the filter quality is clean and they come in a nice case. We will have a review coming up soon and hope to get a hold of the DJI version as well. Make sure to check out our Mavic Pro Review where we compared the drone quality to other drones and download our free Mavic Pro LUTs for color grading your footage. All products are available immediately on the DJI Website: ND Filters – $35 Drone Sleeve – $7 Smaller Propellers for the Cage – $9 Propeller Cage – $159 Propeller Guard – Available at a Later Date Battery Charging Hub Advanced – $55 Remote controller monitor hood – $19Read more
by Adam Plowden | 23rd September 2016
We get hands on with the Panasonic FZ2000, a compact bridge camera with great video functions. It’s the first of its kind with a 1 inch sensor, built in ND filters and 4K DCI recording on a super zoom lens. We talked to Mark Baber from Panasonic, who explained a little more about the camera. Also, make sure to check out the footage we recorded directly on the Panasonic FZ2000. The Panasonic FZ2000 was one of the many announcements by the Japanese manufacturer at Photokina 2016. It has a 20MP 1 inch CMOS sensor with a zoom range of 28-480mm at f/2.8 – 4.5. It shoots 4K video internally in both DCI and UHD resolutions, which is a feature many filmmakers will be pleased about. Although it has a fixed lens, the FZ2000 has built-in ND filters (a feature usually exclusive to video and cinema cameras) which means a shallow depth of field at wide apertures can be used even in bright sunlight. It can also output 4K 24p in 10bit 4:2:2 via HDMI to external recorders like the Atomos Shogun Inferno, giving greater colour depth. The inclusion of 10bit in both this camera and the GH5 is pushing the boundaries of mirrorless and DSLR technology, meaning other camera manufacturers will now need to keep up. Both CINELIKE D and CINELIKE V picture profiles are included in camera, with the V-Log L picture profile to be available as a paid upgrade, ideal for grading in post production. At wider angles, the 5-way optical and digital stabilization works very well to compensate shake and movement. This of course struggles to keep up at the telephoto end. For many video shooters using a DSLR or mirrorless camera, this combination of features in a small camera body is a very good reason for not buying a video or cinema camera. The fixed lens can be seen as a downside, but the zoom range and wide aperture (even at f/4.5) gives a shallow depth of fiend on the larger 1 inch sensor. Here are the detailed specs of the Panasonic FZ2000: 1 inch 20MP sensor 4K DCI at 24p @ 100mbps 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) at 23.98/24/25/29.97p @ 100mbps. HD recording in 23.98/24/25/29.97/50/59.94p @ 200mbps (All-I), 100mbps (IPB). 1.7x crop in 4K 10bit 4:2:2 4K via HDMI output. 8bit 4:2:0 4K internal recording to SD card. High bitrates of 200mpbs in MP4 and MOV formats. Flat profiles (CINELIKE D/CINELIKE V) included. V-Log L profile to be available as a paid upgrade. ND filter stops – 1/4, 1/16, 1/64 and auto. 5-way optical and digital stabilization Fixed 24-480mm f/2.8 – 4.5 lens Internal focus and zoom lens elements. ISO sensitivity of 125 to 12800, expandable to 25600. Mini-jack microphone input. EVF and touchscreen display like the GH4. The Panasonic FZ2000 is available to pre-order from B&H now. What do you think of this camera? Could it be the next addition to your kit bag?Read more
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