Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Cinema Mount Mark II and Beastgrip Pro

I don't know why or the etymology of "Mark II" in general.  Since when "Mark II" means version 2 or something?  The first time I saw this usage was from Canon's first most popular full frame  EOS 5D, its subsequent versions are all called Mark something.  And I take it it means version.  Nikon has its own somewhat confusing naming scheme, for its flagship models like Nikon D3 or Nikon D4, their minor upgrade or refinement naming is by appending the letter "s" at the end.  So the model looks like plural but it is not.  Any major upgrade actually merits a jump in the number, like the latest Nikon D5 is the successor of the Nikon D4.

What the heck am I talking about?

I have never used the Cinema Mount or the Beastgrip Pro.  But I am somewhat fascinated by them, enough to open this post that is and enough to place an order on the former.  It is almost an impulse buy, or not, considering I have been eyeing them for a long long time.  The actual buy is I think always impulsive.

I am quite sure Beastgrip Pro is a "better" product in the sense that it got a cooler website, better PR ... but there is always a but, the pricing is just a bit off for my taste and wallet.  I actually saw the Cinema Mount in the wild some time ago and its owner seemed quite happy with it.  Currently the Beastgrip Pro is asking for close to $170 for the cage and a wide angle lens while the Cinema Mount Mark II is fetching for less than $90 with a wide angle lens, a filter holder and 2 graduated ND filters which I am a sucker of I think, and some other goodies like an mic extension cord (I think it's more than just an extension, it probably allows regular mic jack to be plugged to the headphone jack of an iPhone but I can't be sure) and lens mount unscrew thingy ... YouTube reviews on the Cinema Mount Mark II are almost non-existent except for 3 or actually 2 because one is just a duplicate of another.  You know one thing always leads to another.  The holy grail of lens adapter for iPhone is the Moondog lab anamorphic lens adapter which sells for $175.  Then you need to have some software to actually edit the footage like Final Cut Pro X which costs like $300 ...
The friendly web page with user friendly spelling just seals the deal for me.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Nikon D700 and D810

Again if you look for scientific analysis this is not the place.  The below is a matter of opinion from an amateur shooter.

AF-C is important to me, I want fast accurate focus tracking.  On paper the D810 seems or actually states that it is using the same AF as the D4, which I assume is superb.  I don't own a D4 or D4s, but being a flagship or the last flagship camera, I can just assume it's superb, right?

My experience with the D810 is that, the AF is accurate but AF tracking is not so hot.  In comparison, the D700 seems track better at least when I am using the D9 or dynamic 9 points at shutter priority.  I tried the Group Focus in D810 and it isn't that hot either.  The D700 files just look sharper, cleaner and more in focus in most of the time than the D810.  It's not that I don't have any good files from the D810 but there is something about the D700 that I like.  The files are smaller, the processing time is shorter, images look sharper from NEF to JPEG ...

Again further shooting is needed to re judge the camera.

I got the D700 in early 2015 and the D810 in early 2016.  The same AF-S 70-200 VR is mounted.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

iPhone videography . . .

I found it quite strange and unusual that I could not find anywhere a comparison between the Cinema Mount and the Beastgrip Pro mount for mobile phones.  I just couldn't find any comparison between the two.

The moondog labs seem to be the only company that manufactures an anamorphic lens or adapter for the iPhone.  Yet I couldn't find a review or in depth review of the quality of the lens.  Most would say it's a good lens but how about corner sharpness, close focusing, color fringing and the like?  There seems to be quite a number of versions now, mainly for different models of iPhones, for different cases, or grips.  Or the 37mm thread version which should fit most of the 37mm mounting plate out there.  However it defeats its somewhat universal mounting purpose when one actually has to buy a 37mm mounting plate for the BeastGrip Pro mount.  That's a bit strange to me.  Again I could not find any review on that.  Or why it couldn't use the generic lens mounting plate that comes with the BeastGrip Pro other than my obvious guess, it doesn't fit or fit as well as the specially made mounting plate for the Moondog Labs anamorphic lens adapter.

On top of that, I also wonder how does a 37mm thread anamorphic lens align?  For the clip on or lock on version I can understand.  It's so machined that the horizontal is aligned properly.  But if you were to screw on an adapter chances are you do have to fine tune the horizontal alignment separate from the screw mount.

I just wish Moondog Labs would do a better job explaining all these.  They do a pretty decent job explaining the de-squeezing part though.

I personally own an Optex 1.33 anamorphic adapter.  It's impossible to focus in most cases and the edges are all fuzzy.  For the most part if you are into arty stuff or don't care about sharpness, it could be perfectly fine.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016


Sign of being a failure

You taking the same intro course over and over again.  As you simply couldn't finish what you started.  It's like a bad dream or an infinite loop you can't wake up from or get out.  You need a hard reset but you are hesitant to do it.

If you don't make the choice, somebody will make it for you.  It probably doesn't make any difference.  Or it probably does.  But in the end everybody dies so it doesn't really matter.


There is some advantage of being such a failure.

You don't get to wake up in the middle of the night thinking that you are such a fraud.  That never happened to me.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

AF and MF

Minolta may not be the first manufacturer that does auto focus but that's the company I remember them of in the late 80s.

As an amateur I shot color negative and had them developed in 3R, or 3x2" prints.  For the longest time, that's how I judged my pictures.

You asked your subjects to remain still before you pressed the shutter release button.  Rarely, if at all, did I shoot any moving subjects because you and your subjects should remain stationary when taking pictures, that's just a given.  Auto focus was not even germane to what or how I shot.  A focusing screen with split, micro prism, and the ground glass is all I need.  The choice is just whether is a horizontal or a 45 degree split.  Actually it wasn't much of a choice.  My first Ricoh came with a 45 degree split while Nikon came with a horizontal split focusing screen.

My first auto focus camera was the Nikon F5, a camera imported from the future, as proclaimed by their marketing folks.  F5 was supposed to have the latest and greatest AF, at least that's what I was led to believe.  But through out almost its entire life I never put it to the test; I was using my old manual focus lenses and years later when I shot with my first AF lens, the 24-85 f/2.8~4, it was never ever for any action photographs anyway.

In short, I have never shot any action using a manual focus lens.

I am sure it can be done.  Maybe just not by me?

I guess what I am trying to write is for the sake of "money saving" does it make sense to buy a MF lens to shoot action?

I have been using my 80-200 f/2.8 and beginning last year the 70-200 f/2.8 VR for the majority of my action shots.  I almost use AF-C and 9 points exclusively.

My longest lens is the MF 300mm f/4.5 which I used a handful of times and maybe once on the velodrome.  I like the color rendition.  I did have one shot that I quite like, not the kind of fast action shot.  But definitely not stationary, it's in focus and has the emotion pull of the moment.  The 300mm on a DX sensor seems longish but on a FX sensor well not that long.  It's subjective but if I am going to get a tele photo lens, it's going to be at least 400mm.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Ethics in Photojournalism

Last year, I was at Red Hook.  There was an accident.  A rider crashed.  I took a few pictures of it.  A bystander said "Come on man!" to express his disapproval, I guess.

There were designated volunteers and EMS on scene for incidents like that.