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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lightworks NLE - Free Beta Online Now


was one of the first NLE's on the scene, and has stood the test of time. Its not a household name in NLE's for most folks, yet its been used to cut hundreds of hollywood features including recent ones. It really got a lot of its fame from having moviola type hardware interface back in the day. Thats long gone, its evolved and grown. Its now also open source. Unlike other open source NLE's which are often bad iMovie knockoffs, this is the real deal, an NLE with 20 years of service. 

You can get the free XP 32  / Vista 32 / Win 7 32 & 64 version online with registration here.. OS X and Linux versions coming soon. Also dig that they are supporting Matrox Video I/O hardware out of the box, Decklink and DVS to follow.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Vivitar 35-105 Lens Re-Review : Video Now

I wasn't happy with the tests I ran on the lens a few months ago, mainly due to the Lee resin filter I had on. This time I went and redid the same tests, and used a new Schneider 4X4 ND .9 EF81. I should have it up some time this week. 
I also checked out the 60D's 720p60 mode as well.. video is now up !

Vivitar 35-105mm F3.5 Lens Test2 + 60D 720p60 from Steve Oakley on Vimeo.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Vivitar 400mm 5.6 Lens Review & Video : UPDATED

Review of a Classic Lens, the Vivitar 400mm f5.6 With Video

vivitar 400mm 5.6 lens front closeup
Once upon a time, only pro's could afford long fast glass. Serious amateurs though craved for long lenses too, but could only afford a fraction of what serious pro's would pay. Enter the slower speed long lenses. With 400 ASA film, you could certainly get great shots, with grain, while the pro's got the same shots on 100 ASA film. These days reasonably priced longer f2.8 lenses are common due to advances in glass making and manufacturing. This has left a lot of these old and slower lenses collecting dust, or selling for very cheap.
Here are some shots from the lens:

Vivitar ( Tokina ) 400mm f5.6 Lens Test from Steve Oakley on Vimeo.

vivitar 400mm f5.6 llens wide
f5.6 would hardly get most people's interest these days. However, if you take a look at the really long glass from Canon and Nikon, like say their 600mm lens, its a 5.6 to at a hefty $6k price. Now I'm not going to pretend here, those lenses are ultra sharp, use LD glass, and the best focus motors around. They are for serious still shooters. Video however doesn't require the same level of ultra sharp thats shooting stills does. In fact a somewhat softer lens can help reduce or eliminate moire and stair stepping seen  dslr video. Autofocus is a non issue as well for video.
Taking into consideration that the APS-C sensor has a 1.6X crop factor, that really turns a 400mm lens into 640mm, still at a now very respectable f5.6. The APS-C sensor also is using the sweet spot of the lens in the center. Any CA or vingeting in the corners of a full frame sensor are generally not an issue with APS-C.
With those thoughts in mind, lets check this one out. There are  plenty of odd brand lenses out there, but I've found most older vivitar glass to be good. While I'd be a little cautious about real off brand glass if you couldn't try it out first, this one seemed interesting. 
Its serial number indicated that Tokina actually made it. That was one big plus for starters. Next it was multicoated. Any lens that isn't is going to have flare and lose contrast. Unless you are really going for a retro look, make sure its multicoated. 
The lens I got looks like it came out of the factory box practically. Its not uncommon to find super clean glass like this when its one thats off most people's radar. After all, who'd want a big heavy made of metal 180deg focus turn manual lens thats on the slow side ?
WHile this lens is made in several different mounts, I got this one with an OM mount. A cheap adapter for OM->EOS and I was off and running.
First, the iris ring is different. Its marked and operates in both direction. The center is 5.6 and you can turn it left OR right to stop it down. I suspect that one way was for stopped down shooting, the other was auto iris mode where the camera closed the iris down when it shot a frame off. My lens may of had a minor mod so it stops the lens down in both directions. It doesn't bother me since it only goes to f22.
This thing is heavy. Forget any idea of hanging this on the body without support. If you are shooting bare bones, use the built in tripod collar. If you are on rods, you need to have a lens support for sure. I'd highly recommend that your lens support have a strap on it that loops over the lens to lock it into place or the weight of the lens could very easily twist things sideways during handling. This lens demands respect for good handling.
The focus ring is slightly stiff, or perhaps what I would call firm. That's a perfectly good feel for a long lens where its easy to knock it out of focus. Its got a nice long 180 deg focus rotation. A minor downside is that it only focuses to 13ft / 4m. If you need to get closer, consider an extension tube or two. The focus is also in the normal direction for video / film glass.
vivitar 400 5.6 iris ring close up


At first f5.6 might seem to be a problem limiting this lens to sunny day work only. We'll talk about that shortly.  Consider how with a long lens like this DoF is  very shallow to start with. I'm often at F8 or F11 when I can. Here are some quick numbers on DoF so you can see what I mean. 
400mm F8 @ 13ft, DoF 1"
400mm F8 @ 20ft, DOF 3" 
400mm F8 @ 40ft, DoF 1' 2"
13 ft will let you fill 50-70% of the frame with a cat's head.
20 ft is a head and shoulders shot, a very tight one.
At 40ft, you are shooting a waist up shot of some one or a bit less. 1' is just enough to hold focus on them so that their body is sharp. Your background will drop out quite nicely. 
400mm F8 100ft 7' 8"
This will get you a full body shot, with just a little bit of play room. You'll still have shallow enough DoF even in bright sunlight, but with some safety margin here.
vivitar 400mm 5.6 depth of field lens mark
So that F5.6 really isn't the limitation it seems to be. Considering that you can go to ISO 1250 on the 60D / 7D / 1D / 5D you can start to approach some lower light situations that would of not been possible 25 years ago with ISO 400 speed film, even pushed one stop to 800. This isn't a shoot under  dim streets lights lens ( unless you can live with ISO 2400 ) but it can work in bright city areas, or places where you 'd be lighting to F5.6 or F8 anyway. 
Also know you need a real tripod and head to work with a long lens like this. My Vinten 6 works ok, but a manfrotto 500 series head will never be smooth enough. With a long lens like this, even small movements translate to big image changes, so pan and tilts need to be slow and controlled. Fast pans will bring rolling shutter effects into maximum effect, for better or worse. WInd will also be something to deal with as well.
Of course I'm saving the best part for last, the price. You can pick these lenses up for around $100 or sometimes less because no one wants them. That, for now makes them a steal. 
Next, I want to find a good 1.4X converter to add in for 560mm ( 900mm APS-C to full frame equivalent ) at a modest F8. Sounds like fun !

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sony Shows off more F3 Material on its UK launch

Here you go....
Sony pmw_f3_launch_promo from Mike Saunders on Vimeo.
It looks video-y to me. I'd expect more from a $16K camera. Maybe they didn't let anyone tweak these cameras on the shoot, or the color grading was flat. The F3 does look very sharp, and no moire or other problems to be seen with that sharpness. Might kick RED around if you don't care about 4K RAW at all. However, slapping a HDcam SR deck onto it could hardly be called cheap. Sony also showed a prototype memory HDcam SR recorder too, no price.
Here is another F3 test video.
compulsion - teaser from Jason Wingrove on Vimeo.
Have you had enough yet ? here is one more. whats interesting is that the Sony video uses some of the same shots, but they are graded flatter... and can I say boring ? well yes I can can't I :)

Convergence - Short Film shot on Sony PMW-F3 from Martin Scanlan on Vimeo.

Will I get one of these  cameras, or the panasonic ? only if I get demand for it. Right now my new 60D I'm trying to find even a few hours to go shoot tests on is calling me. What little I have gotten with this camera has been impressive. I wanted to shoot some tests when I was in Chicago a few days ago, but that was just impossible. Maybe I'll go take a trip down again in a few weeks.

Sony Shows Off Surprise New S35 NXcam in the UK today

Here is a little tease of this little camera. uses the sony mount and a PL mount adapter.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Featured on has a cool article featuring me & my Matrox hardware as the cover story. Direct link here


steve oakley cover story matrox mxo

60D In The House !

Santa UPS just delivered my new canon 60D !

Can't wait to go shoot some test material. Its great to have a matching body to my 550D now. More to come...  also in the works is a lens review on the Vivitar 400 5.6. Its a big heavy cool piece of glass!


canon 60D box

Sunday, November 14, 2010

End Of December's Music Video : Words Cannot Express is finally done !

I finally finished. check it out in HD on vimeo
HD version ->

End Of December : Words Can Not Express HD ver from Steve Oakley on Vimeo.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Sony Announces The New F3 Super35 Chip Camera For The Rest of Us

Is the Sony F3 camera the one for the rest of us ? Lets define who the rest of us are ! Ok, to some one with a F23 or F35, its dirt cheap. How many folks around here have one of these ? how many rentals houses for that matter ! How many productions that most of us normally or will ever work on are using one ? small market. Is it some one looking at a RED ? The F3is $1k less. for a body, maybe less at street price. However it doesn't have4K res, its HD only. It does have S-Log which I assume...

Read More "Sony Announces The New F3 Super35 Chip Camera For The Rest of Us"

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Canon 100 2.8 Macro Lens Test vs Tamron 70-200 2.8

A month or so ago I got to try out a canon 100 2.8 Macro lens. Its a nice piece of glass to be sure, and I put it up against my truly great Tamron 70-200 2.8 as some sort of comparison. 
You can see the HD Vimeo Version HERE
The canon lens is a very good performer as could be expected. It focuses from infinity to nearly inches in front of the lens which is great. Even more amazing is that this is an internal focus lens ! Most macro lenses extend themselves like crazy in order to accomplish this task. The big downside is that the focus rotation of the lens is incredibly short, less then 90 deg as I remember. This means that when focuses close, wide open, where DoF is under an inch, almost breathing on the lens will mean the difference between being in focus or not. In the test video, I left some of my focus searching in there so you can see how tight it is. Realistically, canon should have at least 180 deg of focus rotation in a practical lens. I'm not saying you can't get the hang of this glass, its just very very touchy !  
Canon 100 2.8 Macro Lens Test VS Tamron 70-200 2.8 using 550D from Steve Oakley on Vimeo.
I now brought out my very close focusing Tamron 70-100 2.8 not expecting too much. To my surprise, at 200mm I got shots quite close to what I was getting with the canon 100 2.8 macro. The Tamron lens doesn't focus nearly as close, but when working its closest distance at 200mm, its about the same as the canon at 100mm at 2 feet or so. Its very impressive to say the least. I could not quite get as close with the Tamron, but I'm not complaining  either. With an extension tube I could easily match the canon. Check out the test video and see for yourself.

Music Video Nearly Done !

I finally got that music video done ! here is an SD version peak on Vimeo. I'll have an HD version next week, and maybe some behind the scenes video as well.
Some quick details : this was shot mainly on my 550D + Tamron 17-50 2.8, the magnificent Tamron 70-200 2.8, Vivitar 28 1.9, OM 50 1.4 and Vivitar 400 5.6. I also have a bunch of shots in there done on one of my GoPro HD's as well - can you guess which shots they are ?

End Of December : Words Can Not Express from Steve Oakley on Vimeo.

Letus Hawk ViewFinder / Magnifier

I got a Letus Carbon Fiber View Finder in today. Ok, technically last week, but my first one had problems. It had a stripped out screw hole that was part of the mount. Today, fedex dropped off a replacement, with quick release. Its worlds better. I'm gearing up for a review, but so far this looks pretty good. Letus was good in taking care of exchanging the bad one I first got. 

Meanwhile I'm trying to get caught up watching Fringe and Mad Men... such is life.