Was asked to film with Sean of strangerskateboards.us while he was in Tokyo for his new drop. We did everything on the fly pretty quickly, but it was a lot of fun to do. We filmed in Shibuya for a few hours and I came back another day to do some pick-up shots. I used the same setup as this video with a few changes. It was super easy to just go out and shoot with such a compact setup, but I want to improve it more.
It’s always fun to have actual content to make. Sometimes just having the gear isn’t enough. Hope to get my rigs into a studio situation soon for some more commercial and promo work!
4K UHD 60fps 4K, CINE-D
Converted to 24fps
Voightlander 40mm f/1.4 Leica M mount
Pentax 85mm f/1.8 M42 mount
Blue Kowa 16-H 2X Anamorphic Lens
Filmed in Shibuya, Tokyo.
Music is: While I’m Away by Equalibrum
Finally getting around to filming some new videos. Hit a few snags with life but more content should be rolling in relatively quickly from here on out.
I emailed Valdas of Aivascope to see if he’d let me try out his new and improved Aivascope. The video I did of the first one did well (a lot of people seemed to use it or stills from it to sell them…) and I’m still a fan. I only sold mine because I needed something I could use for anything and more often at night.
Well, that’s where this new version comes in. It was purported be be much sharper and better at fast apertures than the old one. And as you can see in the video above, that is VERY true. It gave me a chance to try one of my new favorite lenses, the Voightlander 40mm f/1.4 Leica M mount lens.
This lens seems to work with just about any setup I throw at it. I have more videos coming with this lens and another baby I picked up, the Canon 50mm f/18 L39.
The whole video was shot at f/1.4 and around ISO 800 pretty much. There might be a few shots at ISO 400 or f/2.0. The area of Tokyo we were in was very bright and had lots of lights. The Aivascope handled everything, especially the closeups, very well. The only issues I had were some flare ghosting by the custom variable diopter I thew together and a few shots where I forgot to turn off digital stabilization. It’s not bad overall and I’m still happy with the video. It really shows what the Aivascope can do. It doesn’t flare like the old one, but you still get some nice ones in the right light. The only thing I’m not sure sure about is the “D” bokeh, but it could grow on me.
As for the variable diopter used in this video, I made it from the focusing diopter glass on a Bell & Howel 2X anamorphic. The anamorphic part is cracked, so I picked up the lens super cheap. I designed my first ever 3D parts, and with some sanding they fit in a Pixco helicoid perfectly. Bam, a super sharp variable diopter for small anamorphics. It works on anything and REALLY surprised me with it’s quality, especially compared to the Focuser 8. Any aperture, any focal length. It’s only kryptonite is bright lights, they ghost in the elements and I can’t find out if I can fix that. It works, sometimes. Others… it looks really cheap. But for the 85% of shots where it’s super good, it’s still worth it.
I have to return the Aivascope in a few weeks, but I’ll try to get a few more videos done with it. I was planning to do an iPhone video with it, but iOS 12 bricked my phone. I’ll get a replacement soon and give it a shot.
I was lucky enough to get in on the first batch of the Rapido TehcnologyFVD-16A variable diopter. When this came out I was already in the market for a single focus solution, and Rapido just happened to have something that was exactly what I wanted and a few extras I didn’t know I wanted. I ended up getting the full set to make my anamorphic combo look like a monobloc lens. It’s not flawless but it’s very, very good.
I have the parts to use my Isco Ultra Star with this setup as well. I will shoot a bit with that after I finish practicing and tweaking with the Moller setup. Right now the only thing I’m missing is something in between the Moller and the Ultra Star, and then I’d have the anamorphic trifecta.
My Helios 44-2 isn’t in the best of shape. I like the atmosphere it gives, but it was a bit of a pain to set up in the Rapido Rear Metal Jacket. My Moller 32/2x isn’t so perfect either. But I absolutely love the look the combo gives. The best part with this new setup is that my shots look exactly the same with FVD-16a as without. I will push it a bit when I do some tests with my Ultra Star and my Leica Nocticron soon. But I hear that it also performs well with fast apertures.
I did have some slight issues with vignetting at first. But that was mostly caused by the original Rapido Moller clamp than the FVD. I ordered a new one from Jim and it works a charm. Before that I hacked together another clamp that let me set the Moller in the Helios a bit more and it worked well.
I had been filming on and off with the rig tweaking things and testing settings. Some plans fell through last Saturday and I was in the area anyway, so I decided to check out the Youtube Japan Hanami in Yoyogi park. I have been to a few of the early ones, and it’s not really my thing. (not really a Youtuber or drinker) I had some friends there and it was a good opportunity to film people without anybody freaking out. (Didn’t really work, my setup attracted all kinds of attention.) I didn’t stay long, but I got enough video to get a good run-and-gun feel for the bare rig. Everything was shot handheld with a monopod. I also had a Tiffen VND and a Marumi +1 diopter for a few shots. The only thing I wish I had was a matte box… I went ahead and bought a cheap basic one for this rig. I’ll get another really good one later.
I am so happy with the Rapido FVD… it’s exactly what I wanted. It destroys the SLR Magic Rangefinder in almost every way. It’s so much cleaner, sharper, and works better with fast lenses. The only thing I wish it was better at is that the focusing was smoother. Also, my current setup goes a tiny bit beyond infinity. Not sure if it’s my weird lens combo or the FVD itself.
I have a lot more practice to do with this setup, so I’ll most likely be uploading things shot with it and the Isco very soon. I also have some other projects coming down the line as well. Look forward to it!
Anamorphic Mode 60fps 4K, VLOG
Converted to 24fps
Helios 44-2 58mm lens with Rapido Rear Metal Jacket
Möller 32/2x Anamorphot with Rapido Full Metal Jacket
Rapido Technologies FVD-16A
Marumi +1 diopter
I have been gushing about the Cosmicar since I got it. I saw one image that caught my eye a year ago and it never left me, so I found it again, and discovered it was caught on the Cosmicar 75mm c-mount. I searched for other pictures and videos about the lens, and at the time there wasn’t much. In fact, I think there were only 2-3 videos shot using the lens on Youtube at the time and they weren’t great. I saw the potential, though. I showed a few samples to a photography friend of mine and asked if there were any lenses he knew of that could achieve the look. Things like the Zeiss Pancolar, the Helios, and Jupiter came up, but I already knew about those. I’m not sure, but something seemed off and magical about the Cosmicar, so I decided to get one.
Lucky me, I found a seller on ebay with a few early copies with perfect glass but had body blemishes/fading. $60 shipped to Japan. Best purchase of the year. (outside of my GH5)
I started taking photos with it and was ecstatic that it was everything I hoped it would be. Very little to no vignetting on the GH5 sensor. Shockingly sharp at f/1.4. FANTASTIC BOKEH. Makes the highlights bloom just the right neon color. Perfect. There’s some photos on my Instagramaccounts shot with it and I used it a bit in my 180fps slow motion video too. It’s a permanent part of my lens collection.
But what about Anamorphic? It’s too long to use on my 1.33x lenses. The actual body is too long to use on the Möller 32/2x. You can use it in ETC mode, but you lose some of the good parts of the edges when you do. The Isco Ultra Star fit the picture nicely. Almost no vignetting, super clean, easier to use than the Möller. Small enough to go portable. Not crazy on flare but has that perfect oval bokeh.
I shot a test of myself just to see how it would look, and we have a winner.
The only issue with the Cosmicar is it doesn’t have round aperture blades. As soon as I have the resources, I’m going to look into the possibility of doing a swap. It’s fine, as most of the good DOF shots are benefited by the full aperture.
I already had a shoot day booked with my friend Jennifer Liza, a model in the Tokyo area. She was down to try some weird lenses and I took the Cosmicar/Ultra Star combo into the city. We went to Shinjuku and Akihabara to find some good places and lights.
The only problem I had was doing any kind of scenery. A few shots in the video, especially in the beginning, have more vignetting than most and for some reason the video files fall completely apart when trying to color correct. No tripods were allowed in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Tower, so I had to hand hold with a mini rig in a surprisingly crowded area.
Everything else came out great. With a little bit of work, I think this is a viable rig for a big project. I almost want to shave the front off my Ultra Star just to try to get rid of that little vignette completely, but it may just be the fact that the rear of the c-mount lens just barely works vignette free as is. Either way, this is a real-deal setup that I will keep even as I start focusing my collection down. These types of videos are helping figure out what I want to work with in the future. I have definitely found something special. Here’s to the future!
My first real music video in awhile, and my first music video as JSD. Pretty excited to get it out there and the reception has been great!
Jerell wanted something quick and gritty, and he was thrilled with the result. After he told me what he wanted, I knew the perfect setting: Minato Mirai in Yokohama. We filmed half the video in Shinjuku and half at Minato Mirai. I had planned to try and film more in the Cosmo World amusement park, but they closed on days we needed to film and closed early the day we were there. It’s all good, as we got plenty of good footage regardless.
I filmed the video with a special setup using special settings on the GH5. I wanted ALL-I 60p 10-bit video, and my camera can only do that in 1080. Didn’t bother me, as I was going to use an anamorphic lens anyway. I used my Aivascope 1.75x anamorphic lens with the Focuser 8 diopter. Normally it’d be really difficult to use this setup at night, but I discovered that if I use my Voightlander 17.5mm f/0.95 lens in ETC Mode on the GH5, I can get much better images at even f/1.2 with the Aivascope. That lens loves small sensors.
I’m glad I got to help him out with his first real music video. I’ll be working with him and his crew more in the future. Next time we’ll take the quality up a notch. Looking forward to it!
I had been thinking of ways to make use of the SLR Magic Anamorphot-50 outside of it’s basic look. I had already done some tests in DCI Cinema 4K with it, which with the Anamorphot gives you the same aspect ratio as a 2x lens in the GH5’s Anamorphic Mode. I was already trying to think of tests using 1.33x lenses for landscape and wide shots to mix with 2x shots for focused areas or people. I really wish I had access to another GH5 to do some real testing of this kinda stuff. But done right, the Anamorphot performs well.
I have a small collection of orange filters that I had been getting cheap on Yahoo auction for a year now. I had a few ideas on how to use them , and this is my first one. A lot of people complain about the strong blue flares on the Anamorphot-50 and how contrasty and out of place they can be. Well, I think I fixed that. Now they’re a nice golden color… but so is everything else. Not that I mind, I think for some projects this would work well.
The area I was filming in is one that I came across during my previous photo walk wanderings. It’s a great area and the trails remind me of the ones I grew up around in America. Nice and clean, beautiful views, quiet, and well maintained. The only issue I had was that the higher I climbed, the windier it got. Had I any other camera without excellent IBIS it may have been difficult to shoot with such a light setup.
The only disappointment from this shoot was that the Iron Glass Helios 44M is useless wide open on the Anamorphot. Even though the Anamorphic disc inside the lens brings the minimum to a f/3.5, the Lens Turbo II brought it to a f/2.5. I shot some tests in Shinjuku wide open a few days ago and they were all unusable. I think I shot most of the Golden Afternoon video at f/4 on the lens. With the Animorphic bokeh filter and the Lens Turbo, I don’t even want to think about the math to figure out what I was actually shooting at.
I didn’t have my regular M42 adapter with me, so I just shot as-is. I want to try more to see if I can get a decent image wide open. I was really hoping for that orange/blue/violet hinted image. You can still see a bit of blue/purple in a few shots. The aperture changed the colors slightly depending on how far I was stopped down. I’d love to try an amber Helios with a blue filter someday.
Shooting 400mb/s gave me a lot of information to work with. I did play around with a few shots to see how many colors I could bring back, but that’s for another test. When shooting raw photos, I could get about 80% of the original colors back.
More fun projects coming soon!
Specs: Panasonic GH5, C4K 24fps 400mb/s ALL-I M42 Lens Turbo II Iron Glass Modified Helios 44-M 58mm Kenko YA 3 orange filter
Filmed at Konandaisaezurinooka Park in Yokohama, Japan.
I use to watch a lot of Youtube. Use to, as in I have been so busy lately that I am really far behind and had to unsub form a few channels just to keep the backlog down. I found Luis from one of the many skate channels I watch and noticed he was coming to Japan. Checked out his videos, really liked them, and hit him up on instagram to see if he needed any help filming here.
He responded and we hit it off well. We started planning some shoots and I met him at his first big event in Japan at Mortar Skate Shop.
This shoot had some issues. I am still getting use to the camera/gimbal combo and it’s limitations. I won’t get into the details, but I wish I had filmed it differently. It was a lesson learned and he was still happy with the overall result. It’s still a great little edit.
We continued working together, and eventually planned a music video shoot for his friend Jerell (coming soon). We have already shot it, but I have been too busy to edit it. I can’t wait to get that project out there.
The big project that we’ve been doing is a short film called “Tokyo Dreams”. I won’t give too much info on it now, but we have already filmed HOURS of footage and still have a bit to go. It’s one of the biggest projects I have done in years and the video is looking to be some of the best stuff I have ever shot. There’s a little preview in his most recent vlog.
There is also an edit I did when we went to the Tokyo Motor Show. This is usually a dead time of the year for me and I never get to go, so it was a blast, even if it was only for a few hours. I’m a car nut, so it was a visual fun fest. The only issue I had was the crazy and drastic changes in lighting EVERYWHERE. Every booth and stage had a completely different lighting setup, making it hard to transition quickly. I used the Beholder DS2A gimbal with the D2S arms and I got just as many stares as the cars. It did a fantastic job getting shots over the crowd and nice, steady moves. I’d like to try a wider lens at the next car show I film. I need that Olympus 8mm f/1.8… I absolutely love some of the shots I got and they are totally going in my reel. 4k 60fps on a gimbal with the GH5 truly is a force to be reckoned with.
Then last, for now, is a short skit we did called “INTERVENTION”.
VLOG with the short as the intro:
This is how you should do it. Get together with a bunch of friends and make something stupid for fun. We filmed this thing in about 3 hours, as I had to make last train and Jerell had to fly out in the morning. Because I was juggling camera, direction, lighting, and audio, it’s not perfect. But it was crazy fun to try to make something like this so quickly. Everybody did a great job, given the circumstances. Poor Jerell was tackled down like 6 times and was covered with orange juice by the end. We got lucky with the location working as well as it did, as the first one we tried had way too much traffic.
We filmed on the GH5 with a Super Takumar 50mm f/1.4 lens and my Möller 32/2x Anamorphic. (The same setup as this post.) For the chase stuff I was riding a bicycle and with the rig on my Beholder DS2A. This was also my first time trying the anamorphic mode 400MB/s ALL-I mode. It destroyed my 64 GB card capacity halfway into filming and I had to dump it onto my computer. But at least I know that spending big bucks on a superfast SD card was worth it. We only shot like 30 minutes of video, but the project was over 70 GB. Crazy stuff.
To all the new people coming from Luis’s channel, Hi! I am JSD. I make things. Right now I am focusing on video, but I have a lot more to share with the world. Look forward to it!
I have know the singer of the band Eupholks, Koike, for a few years now. He asked me to film some of his live shows, so I decided to give it a shot. The first time I tried to do a 2 camera shoot by myself… and it didn’t go well. More people showed up than expected and my b-camera was blocked partially or fully for most of the show. So, I acquired some help for the next one and figured… why not do it in anamorphic?
At first I was going to try some kind of 2x/1.33 hybrid, with the wide shots being 1.33 and the close up being 2x. I don’t have a good single-focus setup for 2x yet, so I decided just to borrow an SLR Magic Anamorpot and do the full thing in 1.33.
I couldn’t get anybody with a GH4 or GH5 to help me, so I decided to try using my Panasonic G7 along with my GH5. I set them to the same settings for video, color, and white balance. The G7 was on the Beholder DS2A with the Panasonic 12-35mm 2.8 and the little 1.33x, and on the GH5 I had the Leica Nocticron 42.5mm 1.2 in ETC mode with the Anamorphot. I also got to try out the Video IS lock on the GH5 for the first time, which works very well once you learn how to use it.
Unfortunately, filming didn’t go off without a hitch. Jesse, who was helping me film, had the G7 on the gimbal in the back. I didn’t show him how to check if it was recording properly and he missed the first 5 minutes of the show. The G7 didn’t like the combo of low light and the anamorphic, and would hunt occasionally when the lighting was low.
Yeah, I decided to do the whole show in auto focus on both cameras. If I’m gonna experiment with weird setups, why not see how far you can push them? If I could have changed anything, I would have put the Near/Far ring of the Anamorphot on a follow focus. When the camera is barely close enough to get focus with the combo, the auto focus can give up sometimes.
Overall I think they came out good. I kinda like the slow creep into focus the Nocticron did for a few shots, and I think it fits the overall show anyway.
I am looking forward to doing more stuff with Eupholks and other bands. I would love to somehow do a 3-camera anamorphic shoot if I can find the right people and gear.
Becoming impatient waiting for Panasonic to release the firmware update with full resolution Anamorphic mode, I decided to take Friday off and try to get some good shots around Yokohama using the 6K Photo mode. It didn’t end up going as planned, but I decided to upload a few shots anyway.
In order, the shots were filmed at Yamashita Park, Osanbashi Pier, the Landmark Tower Sky Garden Observatory, and Ishikawacho Chinatown.
As luck would have it, it ended up being one of the hottest, or the hottest days of the summer. It made it hard to move around, focus (mind and lens), and it was really hazy overall. Not ideal conditions when trying to get your best shots. I think many of them came out great, but double focusing the Ultra Star got tedious when every shot was so different. I had issues with vignetting that I couldn’t see because it was so bright out. I wanted a good variety of shots, but I also knew I couldn’t do a long video. 8K is a pain in the ass to render and the file sizes are huge.
I kept my gear light, using a video tripod, rails, and external mic. I had originally planned to do 5.1 surround audio, but my mic setup failed for whatever reason. I apologize for the on camera audio. I was filming with the GH5, the Panasonic 45-175mm f/4-5.6 lens, and the Chinatown shots were done with the Panasonic Leica 42.5mm f/1.2. Most of the early shots were done with a variable ND, and the shots inside the Landmark Tower observatory were with a CPL. Any landscape shots were done at f/8, closeups at f/4, and all night shots were done at whatever f-stop to keep the shutter speed at 50, about f/2.0-3. I used 1+ and 3+ diopters for close shots.
Yamashita Park had lots of great places to film. I will definitely go back when I have the chance. And yes, All Star by Smash Mouth suddenly started playing while filming. They also played I Try by Macy Gray, making me think that the park’s music CD was from 1999.
Osanbashi Pier apparently shakes just enough to not be compensated by Dual IS. It was constant the entire shoot but I didn’t notice until I got home to check the shots. After Effects Warp Stabilizer did a good job eliminating it, but had I known I would have done the shots handheld.
Landmark Tower’s Sky Garden was great. It cost 1,000 yen just to enter, but they had no issues with me using a tripod. (Many Japanese tourist sites don’t allow them) The glass reflection, however, was really difficult to deal with, even with a CPL. I couldn’t get the lens close enough to the glass to eliminate it, and the glass is so thick/layered that even then there were still reflections. Some of the shots I took with my iPhone right up against the glass had reflections.
The shots in Chinatown came out great. I would have filmed more but I was already super tired by that point. I also had limitations, as if I wasn’t careful I got heavy vignetting with the Isco Ultra Star and the 42.5mm lens. I need a bigger variable ND if I’m going to use that setup. I tried to film a guy making candy, but his lights were so bright that I had to stop down to f/5.0, and it gave ugly dark corners.
The next challenge was working with the damn H.265 files. I repackaged them in Handbrake (who decided to change the dimentions on a few videos for no reason), and they worked OK in Adobe Premier. I have a pretty fast computer that can handle 4K stuff with zero issues. But it was like I was in 2008 with HD files on a 2006 computer. Press space bar, wait 5 seconds, it plays. The edit took far longer than it should have. And that was after rendering all the shots at 1/8 resolution. The rest was no-nonsense, I imported it into After Effects for color correction (something I am still not good at) and then it came time to render.
After researching if there was a better way to render 8K video and failing in all attempts, I decided to try just slightly reduced settings from my early experiment that I rendered using GoPro Cineform and just hoped the file would be under 128 GB.
After 3 hours of rendering, I was left with a 3 minute and 19 second, 42 GB large, 9984×3744 sized video. I’m listing it as 8K, as Youtube will only support up to 8K right now.
Overall, I guess I’m happy with it. I think the shots could be cleaner. I think if I brought more gear and my square ND set I could have got better overall compositions. Double focusing is not an ideal process for getting perfect shots on the fly, and some of them are not as clean as I’d like. When Panasonic offers the full resolution 6K Anamorphic mode, hopefully it won’t be in that god-awful H.265 format. Until then, I think I’m done with the 6K Photo mode.
I need to get more hard drive space. This is going to be a data nightmare year.
So, after a deal with a very dangerous group of individuals, I have finally acquired a GH5. This wasn’t planned to happen for a few more months, maybe even a year… but hey… GH5.
Not having a GH5 is not the reason for the lack of updates. I was very sick over the past few months. Last year a had a bout with vertigo that came back with a vengeance this year. Makes it hard to focus on anything. This was compounded by a list of other problems I won’t mention here. I am much better now. That’s all that matters.
I will go more in depth into GH5 ownership as I go down the road. For now, let’s talk about the two videos I posted recently.
One of the huge differences between the G7 and the GH5 is the 6K photo mode uses the actual full sensor, where the 4K photo mode on the G7 did not. Another big difference is the use of H.265 for these video files, which are a pain in the ass to deal with. However, once the files are properly re-wrapped in Handbrake, you get a massive 4992×3744 video file. When doing my first batch of tests on the first sunny day in awhile (the weather has been horrible since I got the GH5, pushing back planned videos) I shot a few “6K” videos. Of course I had to do it with an anamorphic attached. After all was said and done I had 20 seconds of 9984×3744 pixels at 14.1 GB. The only codec that seemed to be able to handle it in Adobe Media Encoder was the GoPro Cineform RGB 12-bit preset. I was using the Isco Ultra Star and the Panasonic 45-175mm zoom, a combination I use for no-nonsense sharp images. It was a successful test, but I think I can do better. I may clean out my work drive and try a short edit of sorts to see how far I can push it. I may even get out the Zoom H2 and do 5.1 surround audio too. Wow.
On to the next…
I picked up a copy of the Möller Anamorphot 32/2x awhile ago, but didn’t get much of a chance to shoot with it. This is a very special lens. I wanted one after hearing you could just screw a 40.5mm step ring on the front and use it as/is. Well, this was the start of a few issues I had with mine. To keep it short, I ended up having to file down the inside of the step-ring to get it to fit right, and even then it took awhile for me to get the confidence to put anything on the step ring. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work to well with the Aivascope Focuser 8. It’s just a bit too long. It does, however, work perfectly with my set of 52mm Nikon diopters. The filter ring also doesn’t rotate when you are focusing, a rarity among anamorphic projection lenses. If you get the custom Redstan clamp for it, it’s a completely trouble-free lens and is incredibly easy to use.
The above video was shot entirely at f/1.4 and double focus. You can use it at 1.2 as well, but my only 1.2 lens is too wide to use the Möller in Anamorphic mode. It’s such a sharp lens… just unbelievably impressive. I am, however, lucky that I can even use it in this state.
When I was cleaning up the lens and getting ready to black out the edges, I had the filter ring completely removed to get at the edges better with my paint marker. However, the lens was set at infinity. And with the top lock collar also removed, a bit of pressure on the top of the lens pushed down the focusing part and the front element…. popped up. It was a nightmare getting it aligned properly again. But as you can see above, I did eventually get it right.
Lastly… having 60fps at 4K is pretty amazing. I will thoroughly abuse this feature. I will also have fun with the other high frame rates… but I already hit a roadblock with those. More on that later!