Reviewed: Shoot35 CINEfocus r3

The Shoot35 CINEfocus r3 is the latest incarnation of Shoot35’s follow focus offerings. 

I reviewed the original (r1) CINEfocus back in 2009 and although that version has worked really well over it’s lifetime the latest incarnation is a totally new design with a host of features that promise to make it more precise, more flexible and easier to use.  So lets start by opening the box and seeing what goodies are waiting inside…

 
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Senal SMH-1000 Headphones Review

When B&H Photo got in touch with me recently and asked if I’d be interested in reviewing the Senal SMH-1000 headphones I was intrigued, at first glance they appear to be almost identical to the Sony- MDR-7506 which are often regarded as an industry standard in the film and recording industries.

senal_smh-1000_vs_sony_mdr-7506_1

Read the full review to see how they stacked up against the Sony’s and also the Sennheiser HD25 II’s that I’ve been using more recently.

 

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Canon EOS C300 Firmware 1.1.1.1.00

Canon have just announced the release of firmware version 1.1.1.1.00 for the EOS C300.

EOS_C300_EF_Mount_body_CN-E85mm_T1.3_LF_Rear_3_4_Prov

Firmware Version 1.1.1.1.00 incorporates all the functions and modifications listed below:

EOS C300 Cinema EOS Camera & EOS C300 PL Cinema EOS Camera
1. Fixes a phenomenon where the previous Firmware Version 1.1.0.1.00 offered incorrect color balance.
2. Ability to move the magnification viewing area around the LCD using the MAGN Function.
3. Support for a 1440×1080/35Mbps recording mode.
4. ISO up to 80,000 has been added.
5. Added functionality to support the optional Canon GPS Receiver GP-E1.
6. A Key Lock menu setting has been added which now makes it possible to lock all operations, including the START/STOP button.
7. Using the optional Canon WFT-E6 Wireless File Transmitter, the camera’s remote-control application allows two users to access the same unit via a Wi-Fi® link providing simultaneous camera operation and control and metadata input simultaneously.
8. [Lens Exchange] and [ND+/ND-] have been added as functions that can be allocated to any assignable button.
9. A new Wide DR Gamma setting provides an expanded dynamic range of 800%.
10. Flicker Reduction has been improved.

EOS C300 Cinema EOS Camera only
11. Provides Push Auto Iris and One-Shot AF operation.
12. A new AE Shift function and the selection of various light-metering modes are now available when used with some Canon Cinema lenses (EF mount) and Canon EF Lenses.
13. Ability to assign the two control dials to operate either Iris or ISO sensitivity independently.
14. Peripheral Illumination Correction Data has been added for seven (7) Canon Cinema lenses (EF mount) and fifteen (15) Canon EF Lenses.
15. A function has been added to enable continuous focus and iris setting on a subject in the middle of the screen when one of the two EF STM lenses** is attached.
**[EF-S18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM], [EF-S18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM].

 

There’s certainly some useful additions in there, my favourite has to be the ability to move the magnification viewing area around in the LCD, a small thing that will make life a lot easier.  Just as a note, the lens needs to be switched to manual focus otherwise the viewing area remains locked to the centre.

Also features like one shot AF and Iris could be useful at times although it has to be said that I rarely use those on the C100 which has had them since launch.

It’s great that the C300 now also gets the [Wide Dynamic Range] picture profile, I really like that profile on the C100 but have rarely used it because I wanted both the C100 and C300 to produce similar results. I’ll do some testing over the next day or so to see how they match up.

Also of interest is the new [Lens Exchange] function. The C300 has been reported to be prone to failure when some lenses are removed while the camera is powered up so I always power mine down when swapping glass. By pressing the assigned [Lens Exchange] button for 1 second the C300 will switch to a mode that still allows lenses to be swapped without fear of damage because power is removed from the lens contacts. The main benefits of using the lens exchange feature over switching the camera off are that time code will continue to run and it’s also much faster. There’s almost no delay either going in to Lens Exchange mode and or coming out of it.

Here’s more detail from the updated C300 manual.

lens_exchange

 

 

Timelines in Final Cut Pro X

I’ve been using FCPX as my main editing application for over six months now and with the improvements that Apple have added via updates it has really grown on me. There are a few things that I would like to see improved but in general I think FCPX has made editing for me a much better experience, it seems to get out of the way and allow me to be more creative.

One of the things that takes a little getting used to with FCPX is the way apple have messed with our minds when it comes to naming conventions and how we manage our projects. What used to be Projects in FCP7 are now referred to as Events, and what used to be called sequences are now projects… not one of apples best moves in my opinion.

When using FCP7 or Premiere Pro you get used to creating sequences or timelines within your project but in FCPX the projects are separated from the events and are saved in separate folders. There is however a way to restore some normality to working with timelines in FCPX by utilising Compound Clips for your working timelines.

Compound clips are stored within the FCPX events much like timelines would be with FCP 7 and most of the functionality is the same as it would be in a project. The only exception is that it’s not possible to export an XML file from a Compound Clip, but then it’s a really easy and fast process to copy the contents from a compound clip to a project if you need to do that.

Watch this video from Richard Taylor at FCPX.TV for a great explanation.

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.

kwik_system-3

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.

photo 1

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.

photo 3

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.

photo 4

 

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