80:8 Photography : Video : Sound : Bands : Portraits

product review

Spider-webs & waterfalls

spider

This is my second shoot with the BMCC – and it continues to impress. What do I like about it? The image is sublime. It’s what I expected from the new dawn of HD footage. Although I’ve been using DSLR’s (Canon 5DII) and small-chip camcorders (Canon XF-100) for the last few years, they always seem to be missing something. The image from the 5D is of course gorgeous, but it breaks down so easily when doing any grading. The XF, I use mainly for stock, live gig footage and anything where I need ‘easy’. Again, it’s image is very nice. But is ever so ‘video’.

So, neither of them do ‘cinema. What is that? I dunno really. I guess it’s just an image I really like & yes, I do love the image from the BMCC. Even the noise…looks like proper grain.

I’ve only used Pro-Res HQ so far, but even that is a revelation when it comes to grading. It is just so robust when compared to the codecs of the 5D and XF. For instance, most of the shots were seriously underexposed (we’ll talk about this later) so I had to really push the exposure in some cases to +2 stops. And it still looks pretty delicious.

Music video’s and personal projects are my bag at the moment and that’s where the frustrations of the camera are actually benefits. It slows me down, it allows me to concentrate and to consider how the camera actually responds in different conditions. If I were a run ‘n’ gun documentary dude I probably would have thrown it through the window by now.

Now, why were all the shots underexposed? The BMCC doesn’t feature any levels or scopes, just a bit of peaking. The screen is large and bright (although terribly reflective) so when in a relatively dark space, such as the sombre, ancient forests of Northumberland where full daylight rarely reaches, you see something that looks very nice. So you hit record. Then, you get home and start logging the footage and you see a load of mud 😦

However, given that Pro-Res HQ is very robust you can then really push it…God knows what raw is like – too scared to try it at the moment (my 1Tb Lacie FW drive, all of sudden seems rather lightweight).

Let’s put it another way : In learning how to use the camera, I really screwed up the exposure this time. Despite that, I still got this:

If this were a paying gig, bacon would be saved.

Stuff used:

– Camera : BMCC (EF Mount), 1080P Pro-Res HQ, Film (log) mode, mostly 800 ISO
– SSD : SandDisk Extreme 240Gb (no dropped frames as yet)
– Lenses : Canon 24-70L (at F2.8 all the time) & Canon TS-E 45L
– Support : Sachtler Ace Tripod & Glidetrack Shoot + Manfrotto MVH502
– NLE : FCP 7
– Grading : Magic Bullet Looks

Music by kind permission of Matt Wilson : https://soundcloud.com/mattwilsonmusic

Location : Roughting Linn Waterfall, Northumberland.


80:8 Gear review // Motorcycle Tyres – Maxxis SuperMaxx Diamond & Peroni Gran Reserva

Band and Music photography it says on the tin. Well, the photography is moving more and more towards video and er, well, apart from that I’ve got no other excuse for sticking up a bike tyre review. Apart from, of course, to give the GoPro Hero 3 a quick whizz in a suitably Top-Gear-esque kinda way. If nothing else, the video will provide a nice rolling view of the fields and hedgerows of the Scottish Borders finally bursting in verdant life. All the detail on the video is included in the YT description, so enjoy! Also many thanks to Andy down at Border Bikes for fitting the tyres and persuasion.

A review of my favourite garlic press will be coming soon 🙂

maxxis

As a slight point of interest, the still above was taken from a segment of 4K video. The GoPro only does 4K at 12FPS so it’s not really video – more like rapid burst stills, but I have to say I’m seeing why there is all the fuss about it. The ability to take a still from any frame and have quite serious quality is incredible and scary at the same time.


Holy Cow : Scottish Borders Brewery

Here’s yet another fabulous pint from the Scottish Borders Brewery – Holy Cow. Had a swift one down at the Allanton Inn a couple of days ago and to be honest, I could have stayed for a few more, booked a room, perhaps for a few days or a week and then drained the barrel myself. Delicious. It’s not just a simple session beer, but something more complex, a little dry and with a deliciously bitter aftertaste. But very drinkable all the same. It’s quite the perfect pint with a handful of peanuts, some good conversation, a sensible newspaper followed up by a small doze in the afternoon with a damp labrador at your feet. I’m not sure what they have down in the water or the hops at the SBB, but they are doing something right. If this stuff ever sells in bottles I’m there. If you like good proper beer for taste, flavour and complexity, then this is it.


Latest Gear Review : Zacuto Z-Finder Pro

OK, it’s hideously expensive for a magnifying glass. But like most things, you probably do sort of get what you pay for. First of all, if you’re serious about D-SLR Videography then you NEED something that will allow you to focus accurately. Us still photographers are so used to auto-focus through the optical view finder that it can prove to be a bit of shock when you realise that when shooting video, the mirror is up and you have to rely on the LCD screen. Which is tiny, so unless you’re shooting a still object, it’s all rather overwhelming.

Enter the loupe. It magnifies the screen and you stick your eye to it, just like a proper pro-vid cam. Of course it kinda makes you look like some sort of Borg/Terminator/cyborg dude or a complete ar*e, depending on your definition of cool, but it does work. Why is the Zacuto especially good? Well, it’s strong and easy to use and clip on and off. This doesn’t sound like a big deal but when you’re mixing it in the mosh-pit and having beer thrown over you, or the lead singer about to stage-dive on your head then something easy to use and robust is vital. I expect to use mine every weekend  for five years before it falls apart. On that basis it’s cheap. If however, you use it every six months…Then get something cheaper like a Hoodman Loupe.

Here’s the review:


Sharpness and the Luddite DNA

So sharpness. Another trick – diffuse the background by careful choice of aperture and throw the foreground into sharp relief. Here we have Ellen, aspiring model on her portfolio shoot, showing how this can work perfectly. But then, in periods of introspection, I wonder can images be too sharp? Where’s the mystery of the blur, the subtle softness hinting at perhaps an illicit grabbed shot that harks back to the very time and place the iris closed upon the camera eye? Another reason for the rise in popularity of light leaking plastic camera’s perhaps. There’s something organic in the way these devices capture an image , a hint of chance, a sense of you don’t really know what’s going to happen. Like comparing French wine from some mysterious little clump of vines deep in the Languedoc with that of a Californian wine-box merchant.

Perhaps as technology increases, there is a luddite DNA in all of us that craves uncomplication, a little time to breathe and the sheer joy of a dandelion clock being blown.


80eight Gear Review : Glidetrack Shooter SD

Well, not so much a review as an absolute vote of confidence for a fabulous product. The Glidetrack Shooter is an absolute must-have if you are thinking about exploiting your D-SLR’s movie making capability. It’s small but big on impact and versatility. The video review isn’t really a review – there’s plenty of those knocking about –  but it shows you exactly what kind of big-budget looking effects you can achieve with it. From shoulder support to mini-dolly I would say it’s virtually indispensable – mine is being used all the time. I even use it for stills atop my tripod as it allows lateral movement and framing without having to move the tripod itself. Great if you’re into pano’s. Highly recommended and when it’s on your shoulder with a D-SLR glued to your eye and a video-mic on top, all of a sudden it starts making sense. Made in Scotland, just up the road from 80eight in The Borders and you know what? It’s a high quality, precision engineered product. It makes you feel good just owning it.


Apple Mac or PC ? Do you REALLY need to ask?

I admit it, I do love, or rather deeply admire Apple products. I really wouldn’t use anything else for my photo, design and video work. OK, the initial cost of ownership is perceived to be high but if you are trying to run a business I would say over a three of four year period you recoup the costs easily when compared to buying a cheaper PC. There is also something more subtle about a Mac and OS-X, the Mac operating system, in that it’s unobtrusive, simple and elegant and both lets you do exactly what you want to do, but is also strangely encouraging of anything vaguely creative – whether it be writing, photography, design or whatever.
I bought my first top of the range iMac four years ago for £1000. In those four years it never broke, never locked up, didn’t get slower and never needed a rebuild. All my time using it was spent doing what I wanted to do – not keeping it in good health and tinkering with it. I bought a new 27″ iMac a few months ago as my old machine was starting to struggle with editing HD video from my Canon 5D and here was another great, if not amazing benefit – that of migrating from one machine to another. With a Mac simply boot them up, connect them with an ethernet cable, let them talk to each other and a few hours later, your new machine is an exact replica of the old one. It’s incredible, it’s easy and very reassuring. I could also bang on about all the free stuff you get, how great they look etc, etc, but you know all that. All I would say is think past the initial purchase price, divide it by four (years) and think how valuable your time is – is it spent better on sorting problems out, or simply doing your stuff?