Sunday, February 27, 2011

Review: Glidecam CamCrane 200

JB's review: So I got  ahold of Glidecam's CamCrane 200.  This is a simple, tripod-mounted crane that will create basic jib arm type shots.  The action is smooth, and gives the camera a "floating" feel.  There's no pan or tilt function on the head, but you can always upgrade this area.  Otherwise, you simply mount your camera or rig to the head, and move 10' from floor to ceiling.  It's fairly silent, and much sturdier than I expected for a prosumer level device.  It's important to balance the rig properly with the appropriate amount of weight.  Glidecam recommends a 3-1 ratio of camera weight to counter-balance weight, so I used Boa bags & weights for about 38 lbs of counter-balance.  The provided fine tuning weights are an excellent choice to get that "floating balance point."  While the price point was a great entry, I had to upgrade my tripod to a heavy duty Manfrotto, that was more expensive than the actual crane (there's also a Cartoni for $529).  It's important not to skimp on your legs, and make sure you have a tripod that can handle the weight.  My only other complaint is the instructions are terrible, and I did better building the crane just using my horse sense.  I recommend this system if you want more production values for simple HDSLR projects like music videos & commercials.  For under $700, it's affordable, but make sure you also have a heavy tripod.

< Shipping contents.

< CraneCam shrapnel.

< You insert the brass bearings into the boom poles.  I had to pound mine in like a monkey.

< The vertical support unit is built with solid & heavy aluminum.  This should provide plenty of strength for the small size of HDSLRs.

< A balanced CamCrane 200 with mounted Canon 60D.

< A very simple mount: the Manfrotto 486 ball head attached easily to the CamCrane's mounting plate with the included 3/8" bolt.  Using the ball head to control my shooting angle gave me awesome versatility and diversity with shots.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Frankenrig: The shoulder-mounted, battery-powered 5DMKII

Here's a little gear porn for the weekend.  My very own 24 lb., shoulder-mounted, battery-powered Frankenrig.  So proud of my lil' monster.  We sat down with Thor to talk about his upcoming movie project.  He didn't give us much, but didn't complain either.

< Canon 5DMKII, 24-70mm f/2.8L lens, Redrock Micro shoulder rig, Redrock follow focus, Ikan v5600 monitor, Zoom H4N, DXA-SLR, Switronix Powerbase-70 battery, Rode NTG-2 mic, LitePanel Micro, articulating arms (x2).

Cables: Hosa XLR Y-Splitter, XP-DSLR-C p-tap cable, DR-E6 DC Coupler, P-tap to Ikan cable.

< With names.

< The cable on the monitor was loose, but I tied it up.  Thor seems unconcerned.  The camera and the monitor are battery-powered by the Switronix Powerbase-70, and the sound gear is running on simple batteries.  Thor runs on the sound of his enemy's breaking bones.

< Thor sat stone-faced for 2 hours while I shot him in his grandeur.

< The cine arm gave me more flexibility with where to position the monitor.

< Very important to have these port saver adapters from the camera's mini-HDMI out to the monitor.  It blocks the focus a bit, but well worth not having the hassle of a broken HDMI cable stuck in your camera.

< Mount the fluid head plate to the 3/8" hole in the bottom of the Redrock Micro shoulder rig.  I don't feel this in my shoulder at all.

< Attaches in seconds to the Manfrotto 504HD fluid head on Manfrotto 535 carbon fiber sticks.

< From shoulder-mount to fluid head tripod in seconds.  Just make sure your tripod head can handle the 25 lb. rig.

< My new favorite fill light.  The iPhone 4 and the "myLite" app.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Review: GoPro LCD BacPac

JB's review of the GoPro LCD BacPac.  This is a great addition to an already great camera.  This add-on LCD screen finally gives the user a view of what the camera is shooting.  It can also playback the video with sound and/or pictures.  The BacPac snaps onto the existing GoPro HD Hero camera, and with a simple firmware upgrade for the 1080p cameras, it can remove the guesswork from blind, old school Hero cameras.  It reminds me of the Canon 60D, with its much-needed swiveling LCD screen.

For $79, the BacPac is a fairly affordable upgrade that brings this tiny camera to another level in weather-proof sports cameras.  If you love your GoPro Hero, you'll likely freak out with this new addition.

< This is the size we're talking about.

< The BacPac connector.

< Once hinged, the LCD gently snaps right into the Hero camera Bus port.  It adds very little weight to the Hero camera.

< You press the new button for 2 seconds, and you'll enter LCD menu.

< Some of the sample menus from the LCD menu.  This is a great way to understand what the different settings are when you're in the field.

< The new waterproof door (provided) needs to be clipped on.  Make sure you follow the directions on replacing this.  I used the STANDARD waterproof door.

< The LCD BacPac & Hero camera ready for underwater or mountain terrain.  Also shown is the tripod connector (black).

 < GoPro + BacPac in recording mode.  Your video mode is displayed in the upper left.

< GoPro + BacPac in playback mode.  It's very handy that the on-screen display shows the resolution and frame rate.

< A cool tiny speaker for your video playback.

< Shooting video in the weatherproof case.

< GoPro gives you a set of new case doors, and operating manual.