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Old July 15th, 2012, 04:42 PM   #1
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Cine Accessories for GH2? Suggestions?

I've been using my GH2 for a while on short film projects, mainly as camera on tripod and the 17mm pancake. I've also used a few Nikkor lenses, however I'm finding my results are hit & miss and that fundamentally people must be doing something different to get such high quality out of their GH2.

So I did some reading (this forum, the internet, etc). Found out about the 'Hack' and applied that and that was a big boost (woot!).

However some of my reading covered things like Matt Boxes, ND Filters (in matt boxes, or a screw on the lens) etc, etc, etc. And for those we start talking $$$ for rails etc, and I don't have a ton of cash to start buying stuff if its not going to work well with the GH2.

Budget: Ideally I'm not cheap but a lot of stuff has pricing in the thousands for each component... and for mechanical things I would assume there are cheaper options where I can get a whole set-up for the price of the camera.

So any recommendations?
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Old July 15th, 2012, 06:07 PM   #2
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Re: Cine Accessories for GH2? Suggestions?

Lights. Lots of them, and things to hold them in place and modify their output color and intensity. This doesn't have to be expensive, do some research on "hardware store" lighting kits. IIRC Shane Hurlbut describes quite a few such buys.
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Old July 15th, 2012, 06:26 PM   #3
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Re: Cine Accessories for GH2? Suggestions?

I do have a rode mic NTG-2 and a 316w LED Light Panel

More trying to figure out a rail system and mattbox which is compact but functional on the GH2
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Old July 15th, 2012, 10:36 PM   #4
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Re: Cine Accessories for GH2? Suggestions?

Graeme....I'm going to say something you won't like, and don't take it personally.

I have rail systems, one I bought and a bunch of special purpose one's I made. I have a slider, steady rest. Jib/Crane and a ton of other things but the only thing you really need is the camera and tripod and a lot of practice.

I spend twenty times more time testing, improving techniques, watching video's and figuring how they got the shot, more practice and testing, than I do shooting for real.

Before you start buying, get to know the camera, lens and your own taste (I'm not artistic, I'm a bull in a china shop and have to adjust my shots accordingly).

Equipment won't make up for experience and that will only come with a lot of quality time with the camera.
If you have to BUY something, take Kevin's advice. Video is just capturing light and lights make good video after you figure out how to use them.
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Old July 15th, 2012, 11:06 PM   #5
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Re: Cine Accessories for GH2? Suggestions?

Graeme,

If you are going for a cine look, I recommend a follow focus paired with a fast manual focus lens (none of the Lumix electronic focus lenses will work well with a FF). Focus pulls are very much a "cinematic" look - and if that is what you are going for, I would definitely recommend a setup like that. It's much easier to reproduce smooth focus pulls with a FF compared to operating the lens barrel manually.

You'll need a rail system to mount the FF. It doesn't have to be big or expensive. Just a basic DSLR platform to mount 6" rails so you can attach a FF. I spent some time using a Redrock Micro Follow Focus Blue with my GH2, and it really opened up a new world of possibilities.

To take that setup a step further. Perhaps consider a shoulder rig that can also accept a FF. Focus pulls during handheld shooting can be very dramatic depending on the look & genre. On my Redrock shoulder rig, I was able to mount the FF knob in a way where I could reach it from one of the handles while shooting. There are a few other ways to do this with remote control FF and cable driven systems. None are cheap.

A matte box is nice for reducing lens flare, but isn't a huge necessity at first if you have a lens hood. They do accept drop in filters, which is convenient. But you can usually get filters that will screw on to the lens thread. (except with certain lenses, such as the Lumix 7-14mm, that doesn't have threads.)

If you don't already have one, at least pick up a screw on ND filter - it's almost impossible to get shallow DOF outdoors without one since without one, you'd have to close your iris to expose properly - even at the lowest ISO. That is a must have.

Good luck,
Angelo
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Old July 16th, 2012, 07:11 AM   #6
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Re: Cine Accessories for GH2? Suggestions?

I have to agree with Don. There are some forums that seem to be just about accessories - cages, lights, rigs, hacks, vintage lenses, sliders, etc, etc. These are all good but complicate your shooting.

Just learn to use your camera with manual settings, use good lights and off camera mics. Compose, shoot, adjust, compose, look.
Shoot a lot.
Try and make money with your camera and see how quickly you need to set and move. How quickly conditions change from inside to out, from static to motion, from wide to close. It makes me laugh some of the things that people put on their cameras and then post a shot of the dog in the backyard.
To get a "cine" look you need to shoot shallow DOF, preferably around 1/50th shutter. Use primes, don't zoom. Grade your footage in post - that will change your "video" into "cine" in a remarkable way.
Anyway, have a go and see what happens.
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Old July 16th, 2012, 01:21 PM   #7
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Re: Cine Accessories for GH2? Suggestions?

I, too, agree. The most important element is contrast. When you watch a film or TV drama you see carefully orchestrated ratios of light to shadow, focus to blur, far to near distance, opposing primary and secondary colors, loud and soft dynamics in volume and dialogue, etc. Nail that stuff before worrying about the rest.
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Old July 16th, 2012, 06:50 PM   #8
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Re: Cine Accessories for GH2? Suggestions?

Graeme,

Everyone is entitled to their opinion - but don't let anyone talk you out of buying the tools required to make the type of cinema that YOU want to make. I think it's goes without saying that the fundamentals should be your #1 priority. But there comes a point where additional cinematic tools are required to achieve certain looks.

Like Don said, "Equipment won't make up for experience". I couldn't agree more. However, if your aesthetic vision requires a look that you can't achieve with the tools you have - there is no reason to avoid investing in the appropriate accessories that will help give you the look you want.

I am not trying to bash the previous responses, but to preach fundamentals and ignore Graeme's question defeats the collaborative purpose of this forum.

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Old July 16th, 2012, 07:09 PM   #9
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Re: Cine Accessories for GH2? Suggestions?

I agree with you, Angelo, but I think the phrase, "I'm finding my results are hit & miss and that fundamentally people must be doing something different to get such high quality out of their GH2." Is what led people down the technique vs. equipment path. I think what may be perceived as quality is more shot composition, ND filters, color grading, sharpening, etc.
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Old July 16th, 2012, 09:17 PM   #10
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Re: Cine Accessories for GH2? Suggestions?

Angelo, don't get me wrong because I agree completely with you. My point is he doesn't know what he needs. We can't tell him because we have no idea what he's doing.

To avoid unnecessary purchases (Which we've all made) he needs to pin his goals down. That takes some time. Why buy a shoulder rig when he needs a steady cam. Why buy a Gels when he needs lights..
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Old July 16th, 2012, 10:06 PM   #11
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Re: Cine Accessories for GH2? Suggestions?

One thing I wouldn't do is get cheap stuff. There's an old saying, "buy cheap, buy twice". When I first started I made a DIY dolly/track, boom pole, and steadicam. I also borrowed someone cheaply constructed crane. All that stuff caused more problems than solutions. The dolly wheels would stick to the track and squeak, plus the platform to hold the tripod was massive and I had to carry the pvc pipe tracks on the roof of my car, the boom pole picked up lots of noise from the cable rubbing on it and hand movements, the steadicam was heavy and rather worthless for smoothing out bumps. I now have a Glidetrack, internally cabled K-Tek boom pole and Rode Blimp, and Steadicam Merlin. Even these relatively pricey items are not without their faults. Always save and get the best equipment you can.
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Old July 17th, 2012, 01:15 AM   #12
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Re: Cine Accessories for GH2? Suggestions?

The key question is how to achieve a cine look.
Graeme is using a tripod and 17mm pancake, so I immediately gather that he is lacking or failing to achieve the shallow DOF which is the PRIMARY element of a "cine" look.
No-one is preaching, but suggesting that he needs to understand the fundamentals before wrapping his Gh2 in a cage, with matte-box, jib, hacks and expensive EVF's.
To achieve the cine look use a fast prime which was suggested - thats all he needs to get started.
Learn the manual controls of shutter v aperture v iso.
I reiterate that a good grade in post will achieve a more cinematic look, than a FF rig or matte box.
Then start getting all those sexy add-ons and go for it, and like Patrick said - don't go cheap - and I say that in hindsight as I have a bagful of chinese knock-offs which fell apart after a few months.
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Old July 18th, 2012, 05:04 PM   #13
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Re: Cine Accessories for GH2? Suggestions?

See what you started Graeme!

In all seriousness, you guys all raise good points. I guess I was just giving Graeme benefit of the doubt that he had his basics covered, which was why he was inquiring about more advanced tools of the trade.

Graeme, maybe a better approach would be to share some of your work with the group to better determine if and how these additional accessories would help you - and maybe make recommendations based on whatever deficiencies you feel your footage has.

It's just an idea, but I generally think people on the group should share more of their work. Especially in this type of circumstances.

Thanks,
Angelo
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Old July 19th, 2012, 11:44 PM   #14
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Re: Cine Accessories for GH2? Suggestions?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Graeme Hay View Post
I've been using my GH2 for a while on short film projects, mainly as camera on tripod and the 17mm pancake. I've also used a few Nikkor lenses, however I'm finding my results are hit & miss and that fundamentally people must be doing something different to get such high quality out of their GH2.
The people who find it easiest to get high quality results out of their GH2 (or Canon DSLR, or Nikons) are the ones who've worked behind the viewfinder of SLR type cameras before getting into video. People who in their line of work (or total involvement in hobby) learned the essential elements of photography, lighting, and all that goes with it.

So here's my suggestions: Two or three lenses that work fully with the GH2 and it's features;

1- the Leica DG Summilux 25mm f1.4 (likely the most flexible overall "normal" perspective lens made for the M4/3 cameras). This lens will give you all Depth Of Field options, shallow for selective focus and deep for overall sharpness and everything in between. Plus excellent low light performance. ($549 at B&H when they get more in)

OR

A slightly lower cost option - the Lumix 20mm f1.7, a slightly "wide" normal perspective that does most of what the Summilux does.

2 - the Olympus Zuiko 45mm f1.8. A "portrait" perspective short telephoto that is exceptionally sharp with good color and contrast, and at the wider apertures gives excellent shallow DOF for selective focus. (About $399).

3 - the Olympus Zuiko 12mm f2.0. An outstanding wide angle with very good color and contrast. (About $799)

OR

A less than half that cost option, the Lumix 14mm f2.5 (will remind you of your 17mm pancake some), an exceptional wide angle performer with good color and contrast. The f2.5 aperture is a fair low light performer and this lens I find to be quite sharp. (About $300 or so).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Graeme Hay View Post
However some of my reading covered things like Matt Boxes, ND Filters (in matt boxes, or a screw on the lens) etc, etc, etc. And for those we start talking $$$ for rails etc, and I don't have a ton of cash to start buying stuff if its not going to work well with the GH2.
Matte boxes got their start in early Hollywood much of the time for "masking" in front of the lens for composite work (had to rewind the film or run it through again for second and third, fourth sections, for vignettes and some special filters etc).

I used a couple versions with Hasselblad and Mamiya RB 67 camera in still wedding work for in camera montages before digital came along.

But now with digital imaging and non linear editing they are not so necessary, a decent lens hood or even a collapsible rubber lens hood does most of the lens shading necessary, and if that's not enough I often have an assistant hold a clipboard in the right position to act as a "french flag" and shield the front of the lens hood from direct sunlight (or I sometimes do it myself).

I just got in the Leica DG Summilux listed above and it comes with a very decent and seemingly effective lens hood!

ND filters...YES!

If you're going to be doing much outdoor work you'll need these. Right now I'm having good luck with the Polaroid ND Fader, but you will need something to be able to keep from having to use high shutter speeds or extremely small apertures in outdoor daylight.

As far as the rest goes, I advise some of the lenses above, learn to use your gear to get exposure and image quality that pleases you, and as much as possible avoid the "tinkertoy" approach.
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