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
When the newest GH5 Firmware update came out, it claimed to improve the stability of the VFR. To me, in hope, that was fixing some of the issues that I had earlier with the high speed modes beyond 120fps. We did do a few 120fps shots in Tokyo Dreams and I really didn’t see what everybody was complaining about. I had a few editors not even know it was shot in HD next to the 4K footage. So, with firmware version 2.2 in hand, I set out to Maihama Skate Park in Tokyo to practice skate filming and see if I could break the 180fps mode on the GH5.
I think using the VFR mode well is to know it’s limitations and strengths. Some of the best and cleanest shots were done with a good DoF. I used the 42.5mm f/1.2 Nocticron when I could, and even tried a few shots on my beloved 75mm Cosmicar f/1.4 c-mount lens. I always had the shutter at 180 and used a variable ND until it got too dark. I saw next to no issues with the footage frame wise, but I did not try to push any of the colors in editing. All in all I think I will be doing more slow motion at 180fps and not worry about any problems that seem to keep people from using it. The next step for me is to try and rack focus while filming fast motion. It’s kinda scary, as you could easily end up with nothing in focus, instead of most things in focus.
I am still slowly learning how to film skating properly. I don’t skate, so what I can do filming-wise is limited. I’d love to learn how to be a skate filmer and get to chase on a board, but I can’t risk getting injured or breaking gear right now. Maybe soon?
I was very lucky to get some great skaters for this video. Special thanks to everybody who helped out! And I’m sorry if I filmed you and it’s not in the video. I most likely screwed up the shot somehow.
Skaters in order of appearance:
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.
One thing that I learned since getting into anamorphic is that fast apertures and anamorphic adapters do not mix. Most adapters will rarely work faster than f/2.0, with a lot of them going around 2.8-4.0. The fastest full anamorphic lens ever made is the Panavision 50mm f/1.0. Well, I think my 17.5mm f/0.95 has it beat.
My anamorphic is an unbranded 1.33x from the 90’s. While it may look like something from the Century Optics line, it’s more similar to the Sony VCL-W169. I have modded it a bit and it now has a filter ring, and have cleaned the class inside and out. I personally think some of the shots I get from it are better than the Century Optics stuff I have seen online. But as of now I have only tested it against the SLR Magic Anamorphot. Against the anamorphot it has it’s minuses and pluses, one of the big positives is that mine is smaller and doesn’t really vignette at all with the Voightlander. At night you can’t even really tell there is any vignette at all, especially in 4K.
I had been wanting to shoot a real test with this combo for awhile. I had done some test shots comparing it to the SLR Magic (may post those later) and various other things, but I really wanted to wait until I could get it on a GH4 or GH5. Got tired of waiting and my friend Yumiko was free to help with shooting, so I figured I’d go ahead and do one.
I shot at mostly 200 and 400 ISO, with maybe one shot at 600. I had planned to shoot the whole thing at 60p, but I had some issues with flickering at a shutter speed of 100 at random times, but I think it depends on the lights (It was really odd and random) so I may do another one all at 60 fps later. The under-cranked video was done at shutter speed 2 and then sped up in post. I also experimented with interpolating the 30 fps video to 24 fps, which worked nicely.
Used a +0.50 diopter for most of the shots of Yumiko. I think I used a +1.0 one time and then a +3.0 for the flowers at the end. I used a variable ND filter for the under-cranked video.
I told her we’d only be an hour. I didn’t want to spend all night composing a few shots. I wanted to see what I could do run-and-gun and then evolve what I learn for projects later. The +0.5 diopter really is magic… It’s what makes most of these shots possible. But even with it’s razor-thin focus, shots without the diopters can be just as sharp after a few meters or infinity. My only regret is that I didn’t go the extra mile and set up the Beholder for this rig. I didn’t give it much thought at the start because I had orignally planned to shot 60fps and thought it wouldn’t be and issue. Walking with that rig wasn’t too bad either way.
Lastly, I tried Speedgrade for the first time. I am usually horrible at color correcting, but I think I’m finally getting somewhere in Speedgrade. I decided to try it out to help simplify my workflow and it worked very well. I’ll do a few practice videos this week and watch a few tutorials to see if I can improve even more.
I have been shooting a lot lately, but nothing really complete. Just really trying to master what I have, or at least figure out how to get the best out of it. Might have to change a few things to get where I really want to be. Stay tuned…