Tag Archives: Chinatown

Aivascope PRO 1.5x Anamorphic Lens test, quick update

(vimeo)

OK, so it’s been awhile. It’s been a weird year of ups and downs and I just don’t even know where to begin.

So, let’s begin with the Aivascope Pro 1.5x single focus anamorphic adapter. After asking nicely, Valdas of Aivascope graciously lent me one of the test copies of his new lens. I was excited to give it a try and looking forward to shooting as much as I could with it. Well, first came the rainiest early summer I can ever remember. Then, I got sick. Really sick. I was in doctor’s offices and hospitals in and out most of the summer. Instead of having the lens for a month, I had it for 3 and only shot with it 2 days or so. Both were really tough in the heat and I really shouldn’t have been out shooting in my condition, but I had to do something with it. It was driving me crazy.

I did two days in Chinatown with a similar rig. On the first day I tried the Voightlander 40mm f/1.4 lens. I had everything rigged on the Ronin-S the best I could and it did a decent job. I had fun filming but I had several issues keeping the rig stable because of the weird design of the Aivascope Pro and lack of a place to support the lens. But the BIGGEST issue was that the Aivascope Pro does NOT like fast apertures at infinity. You get really bad blooming and CA in the highlights.

You can see how bad the highlights are. This is at f/1.4
Same lens, a bit later, at f/2

It looked fine at closer focus, though. I was unhappy with the stability of my rig as well, so I waited until I felt decent and the weather was good to try again. This time I decided to use the Sigma 30mm f/2.8 as the taking lens. I also got the dual handles from SmallRig for the Ronin-S. This combo fixed 100% of my issues from the first shoot. Everything was sharp, clean, and stable. The only downside is that at f/2.8 with this modern lens is that everything looks a bit sterile. I threw in a few shots from the first day so I could have a bit more bokeh in the edit.It flared about the same on pretty much every lens I tried with it, but some lights randomly make it flare, some don’t.

Unfortunately things didn’t go well after the second day shoot and I never got around to editing this until now. I kinda wish I shot more, but hey. I’m happy with what I have. It’s better than nothing.

My final thoughts on the Aivascope Pro are this: It’s clean, it’s heavy, and it does what it says it does. It is NOT an Iscorama replacement. It is a completely different lens altogether. My main issues with the lens are the weight and the lack of a good place for support on the lens itself. It’s almost as heavy as the Bolex 16/32 with the FVD-16A on it. The only place you can support the lens is on the rear thread clamp. I tried to work around this on my rig by putting my follow focus under the lens on the focus gear. That helped a lot on the Ronin.

Speaking of the Ronin-S, it did a fantastic job. I am very happy with it’s performance and heavy rigs. Just balance, calibrate, and it’s always ready to go.

If I could afford to keep it I would definitely do so. It’s an excellent tool with it’s own look and strengths. But I’ve had a Bolex 16/32 1.5x for over a year and I barely use it, so it just didn’t seem like a smart buy for now.

Tech specs:
Panasonic GH5
4K UHD 60fps 4K, CINE-D
Converted to 24fps
Sigma ART 30mm f/2.8 MFT lens
Voightlander 40mm f/1.4 Leica M mount
Aivascope PRO 1.5x Anamorphic
DJI Ronin-S gimbal
IKAN Live Air Wireless Follow Focus

Filmed in Yokohama Chinatown, Japan.
Music is: Pick Up the Phone by Equalibrum

Yokohama in 8K – A Panasonic GH5 6K Photo Mode Anamorphic Exercise

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.