blackmagic production camera 4kJust a month on from firmware version 1.8, and just a week on from version 1.8.2.

Firmware 1.9 has been released for the Blackmagic Production Camera 4K, improving the sensor calibration and adding histogram, audio levels and time remaining to its features.

It seems every other article I write at present is related to Blackmagic Design, they weren’t kidding when they promised more regular, substantial updates to their cameras firmware.

Some say that the Blackmagic cameras exclude a fair amount of staple features that any camera should include; version 1.9 shortens that list.

A swiping action activates the new heads up translucent display, which features a histogram, audio levels and time remaining on the memory card.

Blackmagic 1.9

Firmware version 1.9 has also improved sensor calibration, which is said to improve the image quality and potentially solve some issues users were having such as fixed pattern noise. To what extent this has been fixed we will see. Without having a unit back in for testing we don’t know for sure. However trusted shooter James Miller has tried out the new firmware update, and has positive remarks on the image quality.

Blackmagic stated that a uniform numbering system for their firmware meant consistency across all their cameras, so expect a similar update soon for both the Pocket and Cinema cameras.

So, what’s next, formatting of cards? Write your wish lists below!

All credit is given to author cinema5D » NewsTim Fok

walimex-pro-cage-6

I love my Wooden Camera Quick Cage, but the cost of shooting with one is pretty steep. A complete WC cage setup that can be use with or without rods will set you back $839 (cage + extra plate for non-rod use) which is pretty painful.

Recently I discovered the Walimex Pro Cage which I’ll be reviewing in the upcoming weeks. In short, this is a killer, super strong, flexible alternative to the WC cage. For the same setup mentioned above, you’ll pay $608 or $399 for the cage without rod support. You could also pick up an entire shoulder rig system from Walimex Pro for $899 which is close to the price of the WC cage system. Oh, and you can also add on a ton of different accessories from Walimex Pro.

All that said, the Wooden Camera Cage performs better in some ways, but the Walimex Pro cage also has some great tricks up it’s sleeve. Stay tuned for a full review soon and in the meantime, check out these sexy A7s photos with the cage:

walimex-pro-cage-5 walimex-pro-cage-4 walimex-pro-cage-2 walimex-pro-cage-1 walimex-pro-cage-3 walimex-pro-cage-6

The post Walimex Pro Cage: Great Alternative to the Wooden Camera Cage appeared first on DSLR Video Shooter.

All credit is given to author DSLR Video ShooterCaleb Pike

This is a rolling shutter comparison between the new Sony A7S, the Arri Amira, Panasonic GH4, (Canon C300), Canon 5D mark III and Canon 1D C. In the first part in this series of tests we compared the usable dynamic range of the A7S and found that it comes surprisingly close to the dynamic range of the Arri AMIRA (find the dynamic range test here).

Rolling shutter is a phenomenon where straight vertical lines look bent on moving objects, or a “jello effect” appears when the recording device itself is in motion. It is a common issue with CMOS sensor cameras that read out a frame line by line over a certain period of time. A sensor with a global shutter however reads out the entire image at once, avoiding the rolling shutter effect altogether. A severe rolling shutter can be disturbing in certain shooting scenarios.

c5d_lab_logopsd2What is the cinema5D test lab?
At cinema5D’s new testing lab we accurately measure and evaluate the performance of cameras. As a source for reviews about cinematic cameras we strive to provide objective comparisons and share insights to help you choose the right camera for your projects.

The test lab has been developed over the past 6 months. We are using precise imaging tools, techniques and software to measure each camera’s performance. The following test measures one of several attributes we test about a camera sensor. Stay tuned for more.

IMG_384820The Sony A7S is a stunning new compact camera that currently makes a lot of headlines due to its amazing lowlight capabilities. In this regard it outperforms any other cinema camera we know and therefore offers interesting new applications.
See Johnnie Behiri’s comprehensive video review on the A7S HERE.

Some of the strengths include not only lowlight performance, but also the high resolution OLED viewfinder, a strong cinematic picture, full-frame coverage, ease of operability, 50p mode, crop-mode and more.

In this scientific test we take a look at the aforementioned rolling shutter phenomenon in comparison to several other very important cameras. The C300 needs further testing and will be added soon.

Let’s take a look at the results:
rs_chart_a7s

Interpretation
Over the past weeks several people reported a severe rolling shutter on the Sony A7S. Many people disliked the strong “jello effect” that appeared when shooting with the camera handheld without any form of stabilization like a handheld rig. Some claimed it was more severe than on any other camera out there.
Our test results show that the A7S’ rolling shutter in full frame HD mode is severe, but we also found that the Canon 1D C performs similarly in 4K mode. Among DSLR style cameras in our test the GH4 in 4K mode performed best and is more or less on par with the A7S’ crop mode, and the 5D mark III coming in right behind that.
As expected the Arri AMIRA has an outstanding shutter readout speed almost looking like a global shutter.

rs_grabHow did we test?
On the left you can see a framegrab from the A7S video file used to determine its rolling shutter. We used a rotating test chart framed identically with all cameras. The amount of horizontal offset between the first and last line of pixels determines the severity of rolling shutter which we measured in milliseconds. These are approximate values (Precision is limited by our method of testing as it involves a slight amount of motion blur).

Stay tuned for more tests which we will publish over the course of the next two weeks. In our upcoming tests we will compare actual resolution (sharpness), lowlight performance, line skipping issues, moiré and will also give you an insight at codec performance and color reproduction. We will certainly try to include more cameras in the future.

Please share your opinion and thoughts on these test results in the comments.
Disclaimer: We’re not getting paid to do these tests. If you consider buying a camera please help us continue our efforts and investment by simply buying your gear through our links to B&H in USA and Marcotec in Europe. Thank you!

All credit is given to author cinema5D » NewsSebastian Wöber

To clear up any confusion, the dovetail is part of the cage and cannot be removed, but you can still mount any quick release you want. Check out the video for a closer look at the Varavon Armor Cage for the Panasonic GH3 / GH4 cameras.

There is an optional base with 15mm rails available at the website, but you could easily add the entire Varavon Cage to the top of any 15mm baseplate – as you would with a bare camera body. Here are some additional images, but for more information about the Varavon GH3 GH4 Armor Video Cage, check out their website (click here).

Varavon-1  Varavon-2

Varavon-3  Varavon-5

Varavon Armor Cage FH3 GH4
find-price-button Varavon Armor Cage for Panasonic GH3 / GH4 Cameras

All credit is given to author CheesyCamEmm

pdmovie wireless remote focuspdmovie receiver focus video

If you’re looking for an affordable yet feature packed Wireless Follow Focus system then you may have seen the PDMovie Remote Air. Available in a few different packages, B&H currently has at least one of the PDMovie Wireless Follow Focus kits in stock, and here’s an overview video via iKan Corp.

Different bundles are available for Single Channel (1 motor), Dual Channel (2 motors), and packages with Standard Motors and High Torque motors. Find out more details about the PDMovie Remote Air WFF at B&H (click here).

PDMovie Remote Air Wireless Follow Focus iKan FF WFF
find-price-button PD Movie Remote Air Wireless Follow Focus Systems

All credit is given to author CheesyCamEmm

If your camera (i.e BlackMagic 4K) or external video recorder (i.e. Atomos Ninja) requires a Solid State Drive for capturing, here’s a good deal. Included with your purchase is a 10 Year Warranty on this 480GB Sandisk Extreme Pro SSD deal today (click here).

Sandisk Extreme Pro SSD
find-price-button 480GB Sandisk Extreme Pro Solid State Drive

[Tip:] If you’re running out of space on a MacBook Pro, you can also take advantage of the fast SSD speeds to make your own Thunderbolt External Drive to edit video with using an external adapter (article here).

All credit is given to author CheesyCamEmm

3 Ways to Retouch Fly-Away Hair

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Introduction

I really enjoy portraiture. When it's done well, it is very satisfying and tells a lot about the person in the photo. However, there is always a little element that is a constant problem for me: fly-away hair, frizzies, or whatever you call them. They're the strands of hair that stick out from the person's head and make your photo look a little messy. Especially with corporate or fashion photographs, they're practically unacceptable and must go.

I'll be showing you three techniques that will give you options when tackling those pesky follicles while keeping the final result natural-looking. As with any retouching, it's a balancing act of taste vs need while keeping it realistic. If you go too far, then you'll end up with "helmet hair" which often looks fake.

Retouching an image is supposed to be done well and subtle enough that the viewer doesn't notice it. A lot of that comes from producing the shot properly in the first place, but the rest comes from good technique and application. So, having your subject well-groomed or using a hair stylist can be really helpful in reducing the amount of time and effort needed to fix hair's errant ways. For the rest, use these three techniques.

Technique #1: Clone Stamp Tool

Clone Stamp is the Captain Obvious choice for removing heretical hair in Adobe Photoshop. Simply sample the clean area and then brush over the hair and make it go away. However, if you've used this tool before, you'll notice that it has short-comings.

Its main strength is also its main weakness: it copies exactly what you sampled, pixel-by-pixel. This can be a problem with textured backgrounds or variations in color or luminosity. However, with evenly-lit and evenly-colored backgrounds, the Clone Stamp is awesome.

Nasty fly-away hair
Even though I used a very small brush size, re-sampled repeatedly and closely, and used the Lighten blend mode, the Clone Stamp Tool couldn't handle the gradient.

You can further refine your cloning and reduce problematic color/luminosity variations by using different Blend Modes for the brush. I use only three different modes:

  • Normal
  • Darken
  • Lighten

The Normal mode works most of the time, but sometimes it's too exacting and can be a problem with backgrounds that have a slight texture. Using the other two modes can make my changes literally hair-thin. 

Blend modes

I use the Darken blend mode to retouch lighter hair that's against a darker background. I use the Lighten blend mode to retouch darker hair against a lighter background. The effect stops once the hair reaches the same luminosity and color value as the sampled area. It will leave the areas that already match untouched, so your corrections are only a couple pixels wide even if your brush size is many times larger.

Technique #2: Healing Brush Tool

The Healing Brush is a more refined version of the Clone Stamp tool. It copies the color, luminosity, and texture from the sampled area over to the target area. It then applies some math and very seamlessly blends the two into something that looks natural.

The Healing Brush is great for removing blemishes, pimples, unwanted facial or body hair, sensor dust, etc. It works better than the cloning technique mainly because it isn't an exact copy, but smoothly blends the target and sample areas with the target's surroundings.

Use this tool for backgrounds that are a little more complex or textured -- wherever the Clone Stamp is failing. You can also use it to clean up mistakes the Clone Stamp has made while preserving the texture. I use it for hair that crosses the face or is on clothing so that I can be rid of it without losing the complexities of the skin or fabric.

Again, you can utilize the Blend Modes to further refine your retouching.

Unfortunately, the blending prowess of the Healing Brush is also a shortcoming. It doesn't do well when your target area is too close a hard line, such as the edge of someone's head. You'll get a blurred bleed and it looks messed up. In this case, the Clone Stamp tool may be better suited, adjust the brush's hardness to match the transition.

Blurred bleed produced by the Healing Brush
You can see what happens when the Healing Brush can do when it gets close to a high-contrast edge. This can happen even if your brush is tiny.

Brush Settings

So, now you know two tools that zap away errant hair and when to use them, but we'll go over some common settings I use that get the job done. Through experiment and experience, I've figured that these tend to produce the best and controllable results.

I use a Wacom tablet for maximum control and flexibility, but this will work with a mouse, too. If you don't own a Wacom and you're doing retouching, then buy a pen tablet. They start at about $80 (USD) and last a long time. Mine is six years old.

Clone Stamp

I usually keep the default shape settings, a circle, and use it at 100% Opacity. I vary the brush's hardness, but rarely go over 80%. In fact, I use this brush at 0%, 20%, 50%, and 80% increments as I've found it covers most of my needs. Of course there are times that I'll use a different hardness setting, but that is case-by-case. And with the pen tablet, I can vary that further with pen pressure.

Like I mentioned earlier, I utilize different Blend Modes when I need to. Appropriately matching these different settings to your situation will result very good cloning and a faster workflow.

Healing Brush

A lot of people would tell you to use this brush with a soft edge. I'm going to tell you to do the opposite. Keep it at 100% Hardness all the time. Additionally, change your brush's shape (Roundness) to a narrow ellipse between 20 and 30%. I also angle it and change the direction, depending on my needs.

Adjusting brush parameters
You can change the angle to adapt to each situation.

What these settings do is help the Healing Brush work better by forcing it to re-sample more often and more randomly than a soft-edged circle. Since the Healing Brush automatically applies blending, you really don't need a soft brush. The results have been very natural as well as a greatly reduced risk of that edge blurring I mentioned earlier.

Finally, keep your brush size only slightly larger than the area you wish to correct, especially with fly-away hair close to the edge of someone's head or if the background changes color or luminosity too greatly.

Technique #3: Surface Blur

While this technique is mainly independent of the other two, it does incorporate the others for maximum efficacy. It is a really quick way to remove nearly all that fly-away hair with a single filter effect with some basic masking. Aside from the processing bottleneck, it is faster than going over each hair with either the Clone Stamp or Healing Brush.

Unlike Gaussian Blur or the other blurs, Surface Blur doesn't blend the edges beyond it's threshold setting. Surface Blur considers something an "edge" when there is a significant change in color and/or contrast. So, things like skin, clothing, and other fine details will be smoothed, but not the edge of someone's face -- or the main mass of hair.

Gaussian Blur and Surface Blur compared side-by-side
Gaussian Blur, left, just blends everything together. Surface Blur, right, keeps edges defined.

Surface Blur is a great way to clean up a hair edge when you have a gradient background -- where the Clone Stamp would struggle. It will do a nice job maintaining gradual tonal changes while keeping hard edges well-defined. Give it a go when you have an image with a graduated background.

Let's get into the steps for using Surface Blur to clean up hair in your images.

Back to the begining again
Here is our sample head. Lots of little stray hair and the Surface Blur technique will do a lot of the work for us. (ISO 200, f/8, 1/160sec, flash comp +1.3)

Step 1: Create a New Layer

Drag the layer onto the "Create New Layer" icon (Cmd+J or Ctrl+J) so that you don't affect any previous retouching you've done. You can convert this new layer into a Smart Object (Layer > Smart Objects > Convert to Smart Object) to be able to change your settings without having to reapply the filter from scratch. Converting to a Smart Object is optional.

Step 2: Apply the Surface Blur

Go to Filter > Blur > Surface Blur in order apply it. You'll see a preview of the effect at its current settings.

The Surface Blur filter has two sliders, Radius and Threshold. The Radius determines the amount/strength of blurring. The Threshold determines the tolerances of what the filter considers to be an "edge." Going too low with the Radius will give you a halo and going too high with the Threshold will make you lose your edges.You'll need to adjust the sliders so that the fly-away hair disappears due to the blurring, but the main body of hair and hard edges remain quite sharp. This will take some experimenting and will vary from image to image. However, I've found that a Radius of 40 pixels and Threshold of 20 pixels gives me great results.

Adjust Radius and Threshold controls for the Surface Blur tool
As you can see, a lot of the stray hair is gone while the main body of hair is intact.

Once you've gotten the settings pretty close, apply it and evaluate the results. A lot of the isolated hair should be gone or mostly gone.

Before and After Surface Blur
After applying Surface Blur, the hairline has been cleaned-up significantly. The stragglers can easily be handled with the Clone Stamp Tool. (230% zoom)

Step 3: Clone Stamp Clean-up

There are times when the Surface Blur gets the job done, but often you'll need to tackle the few that got away. With a soft-edge brush, Clone Stamp those escapees by sampling very close to the target area to avoid noticeable color variations. I keep my brush no higher than 50% hardness.

Clean up with Clone Stamp after the Surface Blur filter
Sampling very close to my target area, I got rid whatever the initial Surface Blur missed. However, I made sure to try to keep it natural-looking. (230% zoom)

Try not to make the hairline too clean because then it will look unnatural. You can do a second round of Surface Blur at lower settings if it could use a little more general refinement.

Step 4: Create a Layer Mask

Now it's time apply the effect only to the outer hairline. Create a Layer Mask on your layer with the Surface Blur by clicking the "Create Layer Mask" icon. Invert the color of the mask from white (visible) to black (invisible) with Cmd+I (Mac) or Ctrl+I (PC). This will hide the effect.

Create Layer Mask
Create a Layer Mask and then invert (Cmd+I or Ctrl+I) it to hide the effect.

Now, with a hard-edged brush (about 80%) reveal the effect by painting on the mask with white. Limit the revealing by only brushing over the hair that need to go away. You don't need to be very precise because the Surface Blur should maintain the edging of the main body of hair.

Paint on layer mask to reaveal effect
This is what the mask should look like. (100% zoom)

Step 5: Add Noise

Surface Blur usually removes all the noise (grain) in an image. This lack of texture can ruin the effect by being too smooth. We'll need to add noise in a dosage that matches the rest of the image.

Add noise to match retouched area to rest of image
I zoomed in to 330% to show in more detail the differences between that retouched and un-retouched areas. This is difference is visible at 100% and will be more obvious with high-ISO photographs or under-exposed images that have been brightened.

Make sure you're working the image of the Surface Blur layer and not the mask by clicking on the thumbnail of the layer. Go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise.

Select image not mask
Make sure the layer's image thumbnail, not the layer mask, is highlighted. Otherwise, you'll be adding noise to the layer mask.

In the Add Noise dialogue box, turn on the Gaussian and Monochrome settings. Adjust the slider until the noise pattern and density closely matches the rest of the image. While not entirely necessary, this small detail does an excellent job hiding the retouching you've done.

Turn on Gaussian and Monochrome settings
For this image, I applied 3% Noise. It's not perfect, but is the closest match. At 330% zoom it's really good and when we zoom-out to 100% you won't notice it.

Conclusion

Lots of errant strands of hair before retouching
Before retouching
Final image nice clear hair without fly-aways
After retouching

When you have a great portrait, sometimes fly-away hair can really be a pain. While cloning and healing are great, they do have limitations. Using them in conjunction with the Surface Blur technique can not only improve your retouching results, but also cut-down on the time and tediousness of either technique alone.

With practice, you'll be able to evaluate an image and quickly decide which of these techniques will be most effective in removing fly-away hair.


All credit is given to author Tuts+ PhotographyDaniel Sone

This is the second episode in The Studio series of videos I’m doing (watch episode one here). In this edition we are going to take a close look at several grip and lighting tools I use in the studio and on the road. This is the kind of gear that you don’t always think about, but you always end up using.

If you are overwhelmed with all the stuff you feel you need, don’t be. Start with something like the Manfrotto Nano clamp (I swear by that thing) and you can build up your kit from there.

Studio Grip Gear

The post The Studio Part 2: Grip and Lighting Accessories appeared first on DSLR Video Shooter.

All credit is given to author DSLR Video ShooterCaleb Pike

The R-300 light is one of my quick go-to lights used off camera on a set of stands. Battery power (or AC adapter), lightweight means I can go with lightweight stands, and compact for traveling. The R-300 can surprisingly match (if not better) the larger heavier 1×1 600 Panels (see this article). Recently F&V introduced a new Softbox Kit for the R-300. If you’re wondering how much of a difference the softbox has, here’s a video showing a few examples.

Notice the multi-shadows when the R-300 is just bare LEDs, and still a bit with the milk diffusion filter. Taking a look at the Softbox examples removes the multi shadows and softens the light. Using the honeycomb grid controls background spills and the image appears to have more contrast while still diffusing evenly across the plane.

FV r300 softbox screengrab

For me, this is quite a significant difference, enough to deem this new Softbox as a ‘must-have’ modifier for the R-300. I’m looking forward to really testing it out on the next interview piece. You can find the R-300 LED Video lights and Softbox Kits over at the F&V website (Click Here).

hdr-300_set_up_1hdr-300_front_side_1_1_shadow
find-price-button R-300 LED Video Ring Light

r-300 led light softboximg_0394
find-price-button Soft Box and Bracket for R-300 LED Ring Light

All credit is given to author CheesyCamEmm

The R-300 light is one of my quick go-to lights used off camera on a set of stands. Battery power (or AC adapter), lightweight means I can go with lightweight stands, and compact for traveling. The R-300 can surprisingly match (if not better) the larger heavier 1×1 600 Panels (see this article). Recently F&V introduced a new Softbox Kit for the R-300. If you’re wondering how much of a difference the softbox has, here’s a video showing a few examples.

Notice the multi-shadows when the R-300 is just bare LEDs, and still a bit with the milk diffusion filter. Taking a look at the Softbox examples removes the multi shadows and softens the light. Using the honeycomb grid controls background spills and the image appears to have more contrast while still diffusing evenly across the plane.

FV r300 softbox screengrab

For me, this is quite a significant difference, enough to deem this new Softbox as a ‘must-have’ modifier for the R-300. I’m looking forward to really testing it out on the next interview piece. You can find the R-300 LED Video lights and Softbox Kits over at the F&V website (Click Here).

hdr-300_set_up_1hdr-300_front_side_1_1_shadow
find-price-button R-300 LED Video Ring Light

r-300 led light softboximg_0394
find-price-button Soft Box and Bracket for R-300 LED Ring Light

For EU customers, check out the F&V EU website (click here)
fv r300 led ring light
fv light softbox led light
find-price-button Shop F&V (EU) Website R-300 LED Video Light

All credit is given to author CheesyCamEmm