PhotoPlus Expo: combi straight and curved slider from ProMediaGear

By Contributing Editor Chuck Fadely

The folks at were showing their PMG-DUO sliders with a looping motor drive.

The innovative sliders are made from a solid block of aluminum and feature a straight track on one side and a curved track on the other.

ProMediaGear PMG-DUO slider

They’re very strong, reasonably light, and well made. A 32″ slider without motor is $600.

The friction motor drive can do both video and time lapse speeds.  It can be set to loop back and forth for interview footage.  The reversing point when looping back and forth is not smooth, but since the additional cost of the motor drive unit is only $500, we’ll forgive them.

The company makes a variety of machined aluminum photo equipment from their home in Chicago.


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Posted on November 1st, 2014 by Chuck Fadely | Category: Uncategorized | Permalink | Comments (0)

PhotoPlus Expo: Defy shows new G2x gimbal for mirrorless cameras

By Contributing Editor Chuck Fadely

Defy was showing a new, unannounced addition to their line of gimbals: the G2x.  It has a payload of 3 lbs, supports small dslr’s and mirrorless cameras like the Sony A7 and Panasonic GH4,  and is easier to balance than their G2 gimbal. It works inverted without adjustment.

defy g2x

It folds flat for transport without having to readjust and the handles double as a stand. It includes a throttle for pan and tilt and batteries.

It will sell for $2495 US from Defy and expected to be available towards the end of the year.

Posted on November 1st, 2014 by Chuck Fadely | Category: Brushless gimbals | Permalink | Comments (0)

PhotoPlus Expo: Think Tank Photo announces new Perception bags for mirrorless cameras

By Contributing Editor Chuck Fadely

Mirrorless cameras are hot at the 2014 PhotoPlus Expo show. Think Tank Photo bags are extremely popular with news shooters and at the show in New York they were showing showing new backpacks made specifically for smaller mirrorless camera systems like the Sony A7 and Panasonic GH4. The Perception Series is described as the love child of the older Shape Shifter and StreetWalker series of backpacks, with pouches inside to hold bodies and lenses.

The Perception Pro backpack in taupe

The Perception Pro backpack in taupe

Prices are from $130-$180 in black or tan and ship next month. You can see the range over on the Think Tank Photo website.

Here is more info from Think Tank Photo:

Think Tank Releases Six Perception™ Premier Daypacks

SANTA ROSA, CALIF. – Think Tank Photo introduced its smallest, lightest backpacks, the Perception™ series.  Designed specifically for mirrorless systems, the Perception series will become the “go-to” pack for photographers looking to add flexibility to their workflow while using a smaller system along with a laptop and tablet. It’s an all-new and advantageous way to carry smaller camera systems and is ideal for travel and city walk-arounds.

The Perception series comes in two colors, black and taupe, and three sizes.  The smallest size, The Perception Tablet™, accommodates a mirrorless system and an iPad Mini. The largest size, the Perception Pro™, holds a 15″ laptop and a 10″ tablet, plus one mirrorless body or small DSLR with a small to medium zoom attached (lens hood reversed).  Plus, the largest size fits four to five more lenses or a large GoPro® kit.

“Our designers took inspiration from Think Tank’s award-wining and popular Shape Shifter backpack, which includes protective features to enclose and secure camera gear, but with the Perceptions it is scaled to a smaller form factor,” said Think Tank Photo’s CEO and lead designer Doug Murdoch.  “For the first time mirrorless system users have a backpack designed specifically for them that has Think Tank’s commitment to innovation, workflow, and quality.  The fitted backpack straps accommodate either male or female body types.”

Key Features

  • Cinch cord pockets provide flexibility for gear.
  • Dedicated laptop/tablet compartment.
  • Interior organizer provides quick access to pens, business cards and keys.
  • Extra space to fit a jacket, food, water bottle or additional gear while on the go.
  • Breathable padded airflow harness with adjustable sternum straps.
  • Removable waist-belt.
  • Tripod-carry on the front of bag allows for access to gear even when tripod is attached.
  • Stretchable side pockets hold water bottles or compact umbrellas.
  • 600 denier twill fabric feels soft yet durable matte finish.
  • Top pocket with plush liner for smart phones.
  • Specially designed divider holds a pancake lens or small accessories.
  • Seam-sealed rain cover included.

What Fits

Perception Tablet: Mirrorless camera, iPad Mini, GPS device, smartphone, radio, headlamp, knife.  Examples:

  • Fuji XT-1 with 18–55mm f/2.8–4 attached (hood reversed) + 35mm f/1.4.
  • Canon Rebel T5i or Nikon D5300 with 18–55 kit lens attached + 50mm f/1.8.
  • GoPro Hero 3, batteries, memory cards, cables, charger, remote, etc.

Perception 15: Fits a 15” laptop + 10” tablet (iPad), plus one mirrorless body or small DSLR with a small to medium zoom attached (lens hood reversed) plus 1–2 additional lenses, or a medium GoPro kit.  Examples:

  • Sony a7 with a 28–70mm f/3.5–5.6 attached (hood reversed) + 55mm f/1.8 ZA.
  • Canon Rebel T5i or Nikon D5300 with 18–55 kit lens attached + 55–250 f/4–5.6 (or 55–200).
  • 1–2 GoPro Hero 3, extra housing, mounts, batteries, memory cards, cables, charger, remote.

Perception Pro: Fits a 15” laptop + 10” tablet (iPad), plus one mirrorless body or small DSLR with a small to medium zoom attached (lens hood reversed), plus 4–5 more lenses or a large GoPro kit.  Examples:

  • Sony a7 with 24–70mm f/4 ZA attached (hood reversed) + 70–200mm f/4 + 35mm f/2.8 + 55mm f/1.8 ZA + F60M flash.
  • Canon Rebel T5i or Nikon D5300 with 18–55 kit lens attached + 70–300mm f/4–5.6 + 50mm f/1.8 + 100mm (or 105mm) macro + flash.
  • 1–5 GoPro Hero 3, extra housings, mounts, batteries, memory cards, cables, charger, remote, suction cups, chesty, etc.


Exterior: For superior water-resistance, all exterior fabric has a durable water-repellent (DWR) coating, plus the underside of the fabric has a polyurethane coating. It is also constructed with 600D twill, YKK® RC zippers, 320g dry-flow air mesh, nylon webbing, and 3-ply bonded nylon thread.

Interior: Removable closed cell foam dividers, polyurethane backed liner & dividers, 200D polyester, laminated non-woven backed nylex liner, 2x polyurethane coated nylon 190T seam-sealed rain cover, and 3-ply bonded nylon thread.

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Posted on October 31st, 2014 by Chuck Fadely | Category: Camera bags, PhotoPlus Expo | Permalink | Comments (0)

PhotoPlus Expo: First look at C100 Mark II with Canon’s Chuck Westfall

By Contributing Editor Chuck Fadely

We got our first look at the new C100 Mark II, an update to the immensely popular Canon C100 cinema camera.

The new viewfinder, lifted from the C500, is great. The viewfinder now works if you wear glasses and the image is big and bright enough to really use.  The LCD screen now pivots around so you can see it from the side of the camera during interviews, and will flip so it faces forward if you need to do a standup in front of the camera. Face-tracking autofocus should make those standups look sharp.

The Canon C100 markII

The Canon C100 markII

The DIGIC 4 processor adds 1080/60P that the original C100 lacked (but no 4K); is supposed to give clean images up to 100K iso, and also allows you to downconvert footage from one card to the other, during or after a shoot.  This is a feature I use all the time on the Canon XA25 to be able to send clips over a cell connection and is really valuable.  No WiFi on the new C100, though.

They’ve added some buttons – it’s up to 17 programmable buttons now.  They’ve added a mic to the body so you can still get a scratch audio track when you take off the top handle.

It’s the same basic camera and same sensor as the original C100 but the viewfinder alone makes it a tempting upgrade. That viewfinder and the more flexible LCD make this much better suited to run-n-gun shooting and one-man-band interviews than its predecessor.

The camera will ship in December at $5499 US.

In the video above, Chuck Westfall from Canon USA walks us through the new features.  The official Canon info is in our previous post.

Posted on October 31st, 2014 by Chuck Fadely | Category: Canon C100, PhotoPlus Expo | Permalink | Comments (0)

PhotoPlus Expo: Sony launches professional service program in U.S.

By Contributing Editor Chuck Fadely:

Sony just launched their Imaging PRO Support Program for the U.S. at PhotoPlus Expo in New York.  This is a service and repair program for professionals using their stills cameras.  Like Canon and Nikon, Sony will now provide expedited repairs, loaner gear, and support for working pros in the U.S.

The invitation-only program costs $100 a year and requires ownership of at least two full-frame bodies and at least three Sony Zeiss or G Series lenses, as well as proof of professional status.

The U.S. pro service program joins previously-announced programs in parts of Asia and will be joined in 2015 by a program in Europe.

You can see the Sony info here:

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Posted on October 31st, 2014 by Chuck Fadely | Category: PhotoPlus Expo, Sony, Sony A7, Sony a7S, Sony DSLR | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mobile videojournalism: Japhet Weeks shoots NYC Climate march protests on iPhone for AJ+

Guest post by Japhet Weeks of AJ+:

The iPhone setup in use

The iPhone setup in use

AJ+, the new digital oriented news outlet from Al Jazeera media network, were at the People’s Climate march in Manhattan recently shooting entirely with mobile devices. We also covered the Flood Wall Street protest and UN Climate Summit the same week and I believe we were the only news organization to use all mobile coverage from the events.

Here is the gear I used:

3x Apple iPhone 5/5s. Each phone had a different carrier: Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile
Manfrotto monopod
Small Rode shotgun mic for input into camera to capture ambient sound.
Audio Technica wired lav mic for interviews.
On board iKan LED light for indoor interviews and night time shooting.
Housing for iPhone with wide-angle lens adaptor – allowing the iPhone to attached to a monopod
Bracket for mounting a Rode VideoMic Pro shotgun mic and LED light.
Two external battery packs for the iPhones. Battery life is a problem for whole day shooting – you will need extra power.

And here are some of the results:

Audio Issues:
With this setup the biggest issue was audio. Initially I planned to use two apps to record the video – Filmic Pro and ProCam. Both allow monitoring of the audio input, but it transpired that both were too buggy to be dependable. ProCam seemed fine at first, but on playback the audio didn’t sync up with the video. Filmic Pro tended to crash. In the end I went for the native camera app, which didn’t allow audio monitoring but was more stable.

Since I wasn’t able to monitor audio, I would fire up ProCam first to test that the iPhone was recording audio through the shotgun mic or lav, then I would go back into the native camera app to record. As this method wasn’t foolproof I would quickly play back the interviews to make sure the audio quality was OK. I’m going to keep looking for better apps that allow you more control of image and especially sound.

The Audio Technica lav mic I was using performed extremely poorly in the wind even with the windshield attached.

Pictures and editing:
The size and weight of the iPhone rig and the monopod allowed me to move fast and get close to the action. This meant I got images that other journalists were simply unable to get. When the polar bear character was arrested at Flood Wall Street I was able to extend the monopod and shoot over the heads of NYPD officers. The weight and size of the phone made this possible.

Before transmitting footage, I edited it, either in the native camera app or in iMovie. This allowed for faster transmission as the bytes were smaller.

Transmitting footage:
Prior to being in NYC, I had experimented with different methods of transmitting what I shot. I tried DropBox, YouTube, Vimeo and email before finally discovering that the best method was sending via Slack’s mobile app, which allowed us to transfer uncompressed footage back to the team in SF.

To ensure the best data coverage I used three iPhones each with a different carrier. These were Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T. I consider this essential for mobile video journalists (MoJos) because different networks work differently in different situations. So many users in one place can cause networks to overload and data rates can drop massively. For this story I found Verizon performed consistently well in New York, even in large crowds.

I was shooting and transmitting video at 1080P. Initially I thought that sending over LTE would require us to compress video to 720P, but in practice the network allowed relatively fast transfer speeds and we were able to send Full HD files. This was surprising considering the numbers at the event.

The beauty of this setup is that it allowed me to shoot and send almost in real-time. This is something that set AJ+ apart from many of the other news organisations at the Climate March and Flood Wall Street.

The ability to transmit video quickly from the field also allowed us to publish moment-of, not just day-of, exclusive footage. There were activists live streaming and journalists snapping pictures on their iPhones, but AJ+ was the only news organization I saw shooting exclusively on mobile.
Shooting on an iPhone doesn’t give you creamy, cinematic shallow depth-of-field look of DSLR, nor super zoom range of a traditional news camera, but what it does give a journalist is the ability to shoot breaking news, file quickly, and then keep shooting. The lightweight set up gives you access to things you wouldn’t be able to get with larger cameras. The rig can always be broken down and made smaller, making the camera even more unassuming.

Things aren’t prefect yet though. The iPhone needs better, more stable professional apps for shooting video that have proper audio monitoring. Hopefully this will be resolved soon enough.

The possibilities for shooting news exclusively on mobile are really exciting and the technology needs to be pushed further.

Japhet Weeks is a senior producer with AJ+ in San Francisco.
Before that he covered political turmoil as a VJ in the Middle East and Russia.

Posted on October 31st, 2014 by Japhet Weeks | Category: IPhone, Journalism | Permalink | Comments (0)

Go Creative Show: Gone Girl DP Jeff Cronenweth talks about his cinematography

By site editor Dan Chung:

jeff cronenweth

This week our partners at the Go Creative Show feature one of my favourite DPs – Jeff Cronenweth ASC. His collaborations with director David Fincher include Fight Club,The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Social Network and most recently Gone Girl. His characteristic style has muted colour palette and uses of longer lenses with shallow depth of field to focus attention.

Host Ben Consoli talks to him about his career, working with Fincher and also his commercial and music video work. They also discuss the pros and cons of digital film-making.

Click below to listen in:

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Posted on October 31st, 2014 by Dan Chung | Category: Go Creative show | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kesslercrane Second Shooter open for orders again – plus new Magnalink Pan Mount

By site editor Dan Chung:

Second Shooter from Kessler Crane on Vimeo.

Kesslercrane will today open orders for their second batch of the Second Shooter digital servo motion control system. It attaches to their range of sliders to give repeatable motion control for live-mode, looping, time-lapse and stop-motion. The system, that was originally known as UniDrive, can control up to three axis depending on the configuration. The difference between Second Shooter and other inexpensive systems is the use of a digital-encoded motors for more precise control and repeatability.

The Kessler Second Shooter 3-axis kit

The Kessler Second Shooter 3-axis kit

A basic single-axis kit comprising a slider motor and controller starts at $699.95 (without motor mount or slider) and moves up to $1399.90 for a three-axis system with pan and tilt head, controller and slider motor.

The live looping ability of the Second Shooter should prove very useful for interviews and can be combined with the Kessler Parallax. Once set up correctly a B-camera can then be left unattended filming a repeating parabolic move while the operator mans the A-camera.

The end result should be similar to Redrockmicro’s excellent One Man Crew. The Kessler has the advantage of being more adaptable – being able to do straight moves as well as parabolic ones, but the Redrock is a simpler setup in a single unit.

The Magnalink Pan Mount

The Magnalink Pan Mount

Also recently launched is an add-on mount that magnetically attaches the Second Shooter controller to the pan mount via the magnets. This makes the complete Second Shooter setup a bit more friendly for fast single-person operation as you can pick up the whole thing and move with it without trailing wires.


I’ve decided to go with the Second Shooter and Parallax due to the versatility and also the fact I already own Kessler sliders that are compatible. Hopefully I’ll get it soon and be able to put it through its paces.

Head over to the Kessler website for more details.

Posted on October 30th, 2014 by Dan Chung | Category: SIiders, Timelapse | Permalink | Comments (0)

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