Archive for the ‘ MODIFICATIONS ’ Category

C-Cup: Improving the C100 Viewfinder

Any C100 user is all too aware how frustrating the EVF is to use on the camera, mostly because it feels as though Canon purposefully designed the eye cup surround to be uncomfortable as well as impractical. I’ve posted before that I’ve resorted to various attachments to make using the EVF a better experience but none of the solutions have really been designed to do the job properly, that is until now!

I was recently contacted by Andrew Miller who asked me if I’d like to try out a prototype C100 eye cup he’s been working on. The prototype works very well indeed and transforms using the C100’s EVF in to a much more useful and pleasant experience. As well s being very comfortable the C-cup also fits the face nicely and blocks out surrounding light sources.

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If you’re interested in using a C-Cup on your own C100 then you need to head over to Andrews C-Cup  Kickstarter page and back the project. If a minimum of $8,500 is pledged within the next 29 days then the C-Cup will be available to all. It would be a real shame if this product doesn’t come to market as it really works well.

Visit the C-Cup Kickstarter page

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Miller Tripod to Kessler Quick Release Modification

One thing that really bugs me when shooting is having to change mounting plates on my cameras to make them work with my tripods, sliders, jibs etc. In the past I’ve used Miller Tripods QR system which allows you to use the same tripod plate from the Solo DV20 head on other bits of kit.  Then when I started using DSLR’s I became a fan of the Manfrotto 394 quick release plates and fitted them to everything that I could.

When I started shooting on the C300 and C100 I wanted to use something more heavy duty than the Manfrotto system so reverted to the Miller QR plates for a while. The  Miller system works well but it has a few drawbacks such as having to slide the plate into the mount from the back which isn’t always possible. The Miller QR plates are also not flat on the bottom so they can’t be mounted to everything.

Miller QR

I eventually decided to try out the Kessler Quick Release system and after using it for a few months I absolutely love it. The Kessler system allows you to attach the camera from above and once the bright red release latch engages you know the camera isn’t going to fall off, then there’s also a cam operated locking lever that fully secures the camera in place.

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Kessler provide various plate sizes depending on the usage you have in mind, I have them fitted to my cameras, the bottom of my Stealth slider, and one on the base of my pocket jib traveller. I fitted the receiver plates to my tripods and one to my mini ball head so that I can swap my cameras between any tripod, the slider or the jib without swapping plates. I can also mount my slider or the jib to any of my tripods so whatever configuration I opt for it works without any messing around swapping plates.

One thing that I wasn’t so keen on though was the fact that I had to mount the Kessler receiver plate on top of a Miller tripod plate to then fit that into my Miller Solo DS20 tripod. Setting up that way works okay but it’s one more thing that can work loose and also adds a little more bulk and likely more flexing when the camera is mounted. A much better solution would be to mount the Kessler receiver plate directly to the tripod head.

The Miller receiver can be easily removed from the DV20 head by removing the four bolts that hold it in place. As you can see though this doesn’t offer any way to then mount the Kessler Kwik Release so an adapter plate is going to be needed.

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If you’re good at working with metal it would be a fairly easy process to create a rectangle plate that has the four required holes to bolt it to the head and at least one threaded hole int he centre to allow the Kessler plate to be mooted to that. I don’t have the required tools to do such a job myself but I discovered a work around using the Miller 313 QR system.

If you look at one of Millers 313 Quick Release plates you’ll notice that it’s basically identical to the one fitted to the solo DV head, but in order to make it fit on other devices Miller have attached a metal plate that has four threaded holes in the corners to allow the plate to be bolted to it and a pair of threaded holes in the middle. This plate is perfect for creating an adapter for the tripod.

Unfortunately there are some modifications that you need to make though. The four holes in the corners of the adapter plate are threaded and don’t have the countersunk recesses required so that the heads of the bolts sit flush inside the plate. I modified mine by drilling out enough metal to allow the bolt heads to sit flush. Be careful with this though, if you go all the way through it won’t work. The holes near the recess on one end of the plate do cut through the side slightly but not enough to cause any problems with strength.

You’ll also need to use a smaller drill bit to remove the threads from the remaining part of the small holes in the corners so that the bolts can be inserted and then tightened in to the threads in the tripod head. Please note that these modifications render the plate unusable with the 313 QR plate any further.

No modifications are required to the tripod head itself though, please don’t make the mistake of doing anything to your tripod head!
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Whether you make a plate or take one from a Miller QR system once it’s in place you just have to bolt the Kessler Kwik Release to it. For maximum strength and durability it would be best to have an additional threaded hole cut into the plate so that the Kessler Kwik Release can be attached at two points. For now I’ve stuck with just the one and mine has been rock solid but I’d still like to have another thread cut in at some point.

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So there you have it, the Miller tripod looks like it was created with the Kessler system and it’s super solid and more compact than the original Miller plate. A Miller 313 plate is around $190 so it’s probably not worth buying one just to do this, plus it’s a non reversible modification for the 313.

If you do have a spare Miller 313 plate though or you can have a plate made up it works really well. With Kessler receiver plates on all of my kit mounting cameras to supports or even supports to supports is always easy and reliable.

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The Kessler Kwick Release systems can be found at Kesslers website

The Miller 313 QR plate is available from B&H Photo

The Miller DS20 Tripod is available from B&H Photo

 

 

Bluestar Eye Cushions – a little bit of luxury for your face!

I’ve been using Bluestar Eye Cushions on my cameras and viewfinders for a few years now, they are one of those little luxuries that once you’ve tried you just can’t live without. Using a camera without an eye cushion now feels like wearing shoes without socks!

Bluestar make a wide range of sizes for various viewfinders, they come in three materials, natural chamois, Microfibre & Fleece. The micro-fibre option comes in eight colours which is very handy if you need to quickly identify cameras. The fleece eye cushions come in four colours and are the most gentle on the skin, great if you like to snuggle in to your camera!

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Hoya Lens Hood with Fader ND filters

I’ve been using a couple of Fader ND filters with my prime lenses for a while now, the Fader ND’s are useful because they allow you to adjust for bigger lens apertures in daylight conditions without the need to keep swapping filters.

One thing that is a bit annoying when using Fader ND’s though is that it’s no longer possible to attach the Canon sun hoods that are supplied with the lenses.

While I was out shooting some external pickup shots yesterday I experimented with using a Hoya Screw in Rubber lens Hood on my 50mm 1.2 and 35mm 1.4 lenses. It’s quite strange using these on the fader ND because to adjust the level of ND you end up rotating the entire lens hood, it works well though!

Hoya hood on 35mm (Canon 5D mk2)

The Hoya hoods are able to be set in two positions allowing you to use them with a range of lenses from medium wides out to zooms.

Unfortunately the Hoya hoods only go up to 77mm which means they can only be used on lenses up to 72mm in diameter because the Fader ND’s step up a size. Both my 35mm 1.4 and 50mm 1.2 have a 72mm thread so the 77mm Hoya Hood work well on those. On the 35mm the hood needed to be in it’s closed down setting so that it didn’t appear in the shot on my 5D mark2.

Hoya hood on 35mm (Canon 5D mk2)

My 24mm 1.4 and 70 – 200 2.8 are 77mm so with a 77mm fader ND fitted the hoods won’t work on those as the required diameter is then 82mm. The 24mm would likely be too wide for the sun hood anyway, plus the Fader ND’s are not recommended on long zooms so you probably wouldn’t want to use the hoods on either of those lenses anyway.

By far the best feature of the Hoya hoods has to be the red line on the end – full on L series looks for just a few $! ;)

Buying in the US: B&H sell the Hoya hoods for around $25.

Buying in the UK: Warehouse express sell the Hoya hoods priced from £12 – £40 depending on size.

If you’re looking for Fader ND filters they can be purchased from B&H for $62 – £139 depending on the lens diameter you need.

Steadicam Pilot – broken bearing

I opened my Steadicam case today to find some rather strange looking metal pieces laying loose in the bag. I’d not noticed any issues before but these parts had obviously come from somewhere so I decided to give everything a good check over.

It didn’t take me long to notice that one of the bearings in the upper of the two parts of the arm had failed. I’m not sure when this happened, I didn’t find any of the actual balls from the bearing which would lead me to think that it must have failed whilst in use, although I can’t remember actually sensing it go.

Tiffen UK have been extremely helpful and very quick to respond to my request for help. Ill be sending it for repair next week.

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** UPDATE 30-09-09 **

My Steadicam arm arrived back from Tiffen today, just a few days after I sent it to them for repair. I’m really pleased to report that it’s as good as new. The guys at Tiffen have been incredibly helpful, I can’t express enough how nice they have been to deal with and what fantastic support they gave me.

Thanks Tiffen!