Focus and Light Test #1

In one of many, I set up a quick lighting and focus test on my anamorphic rig. I have been shooting a lot with it, but there are still some things that I need to work out. The biggest issues are the flares and the focus. For awhile I have been shooting just on my 45-175mm zoom at f/4.0 because I wanted to be ready to shoot at a moments notice with few issues. But I want more bokeh for certain shots and the right kind of flares for others.

The 42.5mm, as I have said before, is the absolute bare minimum you can use on the Elmoscope. Vignetting really bothers me and it is really noticeable when using the OIS on the lens, as the vignette moves with the internals. These were shot with the OIS off as you could still see the movement even with a slider. Really frustrating. I wish I had a camera with IBIS so I could see if it had a better effect.

Overall… I’m not sure I am happy with the flares on these. Occasionally the flares from this rig look perfect. But some of these just look weird to me. I may have to switch it up with the Isco Ultra Star and see if I like that better. I have certain looks and certain feelings I want to convey. That, and the fact that these lenses react so drastically different in certain lights makes me feel I have a lot more to learn. Therefore, more tests.

JSD Labs: Zhiyun Smooth II, iPhone 7 Plus, and Mavis in Yoyogi Park

A few weeks ago I got a deal on a new Zhiyun Smooth II, the updated version. I had read, though I forget where, that it has really strong motors that let you use clip-on lenses on big phones. While the DJI phone gimbal seems to have good features, I had also heard that people had issues adding extras on their phone. I jumped on this one while I had the chance.

That said, the Smooth II does not lack in features at all. In fact, in this video I only used a small fraction of them, the main being the basic stabilization modes. I’ll try to do some more tests on it when I get a chance, but overall I am very impressed with this gimbal. It’s super solid and takes the same batteries as my Beholder, which is a bonus. The only issue I have with it is that it’s almost too light. For added stability (and more shooting options) I had it attached to a monopod for most of this video.

The big test for this video, however, was Mavis. I wanted to see how hard I could push it during touch and go shooting. Some of the shots pulled out of this session are absolutely amazing. However, there is still a learning curve and process that must be followed to use it correctly. Sometimes you forget that you have a fully manual control and that you have to change the settings manually for each shot. I tried to use the auto settings a few times, or had it set on target mode by mistake, leading to fluctuations of shutter speed or whatever. It was also kind of hard to see the screen in bright light sometimes. I think that with a polarizer filter and slowing down a bit I could consistently get clean shots with this rig. The Smooth II is nice and stiff when using the screen, so working with settings on the fly is easy.

Only issues I encountered overall were using the zoom lens with having the gimbal on the monopod and leaving some setting on Mavis in target mode. The vibrations are too much for the zoom OIS and it was hard to get a clean, steady shot while moving and using the zoom. No issues otherwise. I hope to see how far I can push this setup. Editing and color grading was surprisingly easy for most shots. The 100 MB/s files Mavis gives you have plenty of information to work with. Don’t let your shots get too dark, though. But I think that goes without saying for any kind of mobile video.

Big shoutout once again to Jesse of Ice Block, who let me tag along as he shot some b-roll for his upcoming feature, The Library. Here is the video he shot that day:

Finally, once again the music was made in the Novation Launchpad app. It’s a fantastic app for making worry-free music on the fly.  I have built up a cache of clips to use for future videos and even went and bought some of the sound packs. It’s fun and easy until I can get around to making more 100% original music.