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Are the NLE wars beginning to heat up?

by on Jul.04, 2017, under Reviews


Avid Media Composer First allows you to begin using the Media Composer platform at no cost.

Choice is good, and if you’re a video editor you just got one more. Avid, whose nonlinear editor Media Composer is widely used in the film and television industries, recently released a free version of its software called Media Composer First.

On the surface, this appears to be a similar approach to the one taken by Blackmagic with DaVinci Resolve, which has evolved into a creditable NLE in addition to its legendary color grading tools. The full version of Resolve Studio sells for $299 (down from $995 a few months ago), while the basic version of Resolve can be downloaded for free. While there are differences between the two, the free version includes most of the same tools as the Studio edition, making it a very attractive platform.

Avid appears to be taking a bit of a different approach, however, as Media Composer First comes with a number of limitations. The most notable is that it only supports projects up to 1080 resolution, which will likely to be a stumbling block for many editors today. It also limits the number of video and audio tracks you can use, the number of bins in a project, and its desktop display LUT is limited to Rec.709. In fact, if you compare features, the free version has a fair number of limits across all functional areas.

So, why would anyone use Media Composer First? The full version of Media Composer sells for $1299 (or as a subscription for $35/month), so cost is obviously one motivation. However, what’s likely more important to many editors is access to the Media Composer platform. This presents a cost effective way for beginners to use and learn a piece of software that will be very important if they want to work in film or television.

If neither Media Composer nor Resolve work for you, the other 800 pound gorillas in this space are Adobe Premiere, available as part of Adobe’s Creative Cloud, or Final Cut Pro X for Mac users, which sells for $299.



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Fotodiox's DLX Stretch adapters feature a built-in extension tube for macro photography

by on Jul.03, 2017, under Reviews


Accessories manufacturer Fotodiox has launched a versatile new series of lens adapters for mirrorless camera users. The Fotodiox Pro DLX Stretch adapters not only allow you to mount off-brand lenses onto several major camera mounts, they also feature a built-in variable extension tube for macro shooting.

The DLX Stretch is a regular DLX lens adapter with one major difference: it features a barrel that turns to extend the distance between the lens and the sensor, endowing the set-up with the macro shooting capability of an extension tube. It isn’t clear how great the extension is for each of the adapters, but total distance will be dependent on the type of lens used.

The new adapters will be available for Sony E, Micro Four Thirds and Fujifilm X cameras and will come in a choice of 24 permutations to suit a collection of eight lens mounts—Canon EOS, Canon FD, Contax/Yashica, Leica R, Minolta MD, Nikon, Olympus Zuiko (OM), and Pentax K. If your particular lens mount doesn’t have an aperture control ring, the adapter will throw that in as well.

In addition to the Sony adapter video above, you can find demos for the Micro Four Thirds and Fuji X mount adapters here.

Finally, in conjunction with this adapter release, Fotodiox has also introduced a range of filters for the DLX Stretch that drop in to the rear of the barrel and stay in place using magnets. Three ND filters—an ND4, ND8 and ND16—come with the kit, and feature their own leather case.

All of the Fotodiox Pro DLX Stretch adapters cost $130. For more information, visit the Fotodiox website.

Press Release

Fotodiox Pro Launches Multi-Functional DLX Stretch Lens Adapters

Fotodiox Pro, creator and distributor of several lines of specialty solutions for videography, cinematography and photography, has announced a brand new addition to their extensive collection of innovative lens adapters: The DLX Stretch, a new series of 24 multi-function lens adapters for Sony E-Mount, Fuji X-Mount and Micro Four-Thirds mirrorless cameras.

The DLX Stretch is the latest in Fotodiox’s ongoing commitment to creating and manufacturing the largest and most flexible library of lens adapters in the photo and cinema industry. Each DLX Stretch packs three levels of creative functionalty into a single lens adapter. Vintage and modern lenses can be mounted via eight different lens mounts.

A built-in helicoid allows adjustment of the overall length of the adapter for close-focus macro style shooting or backfocus adjustment. Plus, the specially-designed rear section of the DLX Stretch houses drop-in magnetic Neutral Density filters. Each kit includes ND4, ND8, and ND16 glass filters in a leather case.

“When we created the DLX Stretch, we set out to “stretch” what shooters expect from a lens adapter,” said Bohus Blahut, marketing director for Fotodiox Pro. “Today’s mirrorless cameras are amazing, but they suffer from too few native lens choices. The DLX Stretch adapters bring those choices back. Additionally, the DLX Stretch offers amazing imaging flexibility with its built-in macro-focusing helicoid as well as our revolutionary drop-in filter system for rapid-fire filter changes. With DLX Stretch lens adapters, you can get more done with a single lens than ever before.”

DLX Stretch adapters are available for the following lens mounts: Canon EOS, Canon FD, Contax/Yashica, Leica R. Minolta MD, Nikon, Olympus Zuiko (OM), and Pentax K. Select models of the DLX Stretch also include additional aperture control for lenses that lack an aperture control ring. They are available now at FotodioxPro.com.



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Ask the staff: wedding season weirdness

by on Jul.02, 2017, under Reviews


Weddings: They’re a cornucopia of creative possibilities, I find them incredibly rewarding and I’ve never had a ‘bad’ wedding as a photographer. That doesn’t mean everything always goes according to plan, though.

It was June of 2012, and I had been blackmailed into photographing my first wedding.

‘If you don’t want to take photos,’ I was told, ‘then we just won’t have any photos.’

One of my best friends from high school was getting married in his backyard with around a dozen of their closest family members, and they were adamant about having a photographer they knew personally, rather than a stranger. So it was really quite a friendly blackmailing.

What the heck, I thought. I quoted them the princely sum of $250, and everything was set. Then, just a day or two before the wedding, my car sprung a substantial coolant leak. No worries, my 30-year-old motorcycle would get me there. Probably.

Thankfully, the universe had decided enough was enough, and the day proceeded without incident after I toweled off a bit.

And then it rained on the big day, and though my Yamaha got me there just fine, I arrived slightly behind schedule and absolutely soaking wet. Thankfully, the universe had decided enough was enough, and the day proceeded without incident after I toweled off a bit.

I don’t shoot weddings full time, but I do at least a few every year. I find them creatively challenging as well as rewarding, and so far, there’s not been a ‘bad’ wedding for me as a photographer. That doesn’t mean there aren’t always a few hiccups along the way.

And so, now that wedding season is upon us, we polled ourselves as a staff to find out what sorts of ‘challenges’ we’ve all faced over our years of photographing weddings, and some themes began to emerge.

‘Uncle Bob’

A common tool of choice for an Uncle Bob – an older, preferably double-grip DSLR.

Without fail, most photographers that have shot even a handful of weddings have a story of the affable yet oblivious Uncle Bob. You will know him from the prominence of the large camera dangling from his neck, possibly with his own speedlight attached.

Uncle Bob will good-naturedly ask you what camera you’re shooting with (‘and why is it covered in black tape?’), what aperture you’re using, pronounce ISO like ‘eye-soh,’ and occasionally suggest that you are just doing it wrong.

But while some of us have encountered Uncle Bobs that are more tenacious or hover-y than others, many are friendly, genuinely curious, and if you gently suggest that you need to concentrate and will catch up with them later, you should find yourself in the clear.

Unfortunate urgings of the bridal party, audacious acts of the guests

Many couples will have some idea of the sorts of photos and moments they would like the photographer to capture throughout the day. One of our staff, however, was instructed by the bride to ‘not take any photos showing the front of my face.’ Challenge accepted.

The majority of weddings these days seem to involve a good deal of drinking, and indeed, some guests will refuse to attend without an open bar. An open bar is just common decency (in the U.S., anyway). This is not something that is generally taken advantage of by the photographer for obvious reasons, unless of course the bride and groom confront you and insist that you ‘get wasted.’ One of our staff encountered this from a very stubborn couple, and we surmise that the inevitable crooked horizons were corrected in post.

I was instructed by the bride to “not take any photos showing the front of [her] face.”

A common complaint: friends and family holding up phones, tablets and phablets at just the right spot to ruin a photo. The most egregious example of this was a guest getting up and blocking the aisle just after the bride passed him. The photographer missed the father giving his daughter away, but that’s alright, average attendee, you have it in Apple Photos forever.

And finally, there’s the group shots, where inevitably a family member will stand behind the hired photographer with a phone or compact camera, and snap away. This ordinarily wouldn’t be too much of an issue, except it’s the cause of many an eye-or-face swap in Photoshop, just to make sure everyone’s looking into the right lens.

How does this get worse? Occasionally, that family member’s camera will be in Auto mode and fire the flash with every shot, which will trigger any pre-set optically slaved flashes the photographer has set up. This will ruin the hovering family member’s image, drains flash batteries unnecessarily, and confuses the family being photographed; an upgrade to radio triggers helps prevent these sorts of situations, but flashes from a competing photographer are still awfully distracting.

The unpredictable, or just plain weird

This is a pig at a wedding I attended as a guest, photographed (poorly) with my phone. Any guest was welcome to go and say hello, the pig was very friendly.

And sometimes, there’s just the crazy, random happenstances that don’t really fit into any sort of reliable pattern or theme. As above, sometimes the wedding venue is adjacent to a restaurant that grows its own food, and there is a pig. This obviously isn’t a grievance per se, that pig was adorable in his own way.

Thankfully, gear failures weren’t all that common for us, but one of our staff had an autofocus motor die just as the bride and groom began their walk back down the aisle.

Another time, a group of groomsmen grew demonstrably angry when the photographer would not sit with them at the reception and drink heavily instead of taking photographs.

A guest videographer at one destination wedding set up an enormous ladder to film video from at the back of the group, which would have been less of a problem were he not wearing a kilt. Underwear status remained carefully unconfirmed.

Everyone’s got stories

In a follow-up post, we’ll be polling some full-time freelance and wedding photogs on some of their more…interesting experiences, so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, do you shoot weddings full-time or on the side, or have attended a wedding and borne witness to an unusual event? Let us know in the comments, and maybe we’ll feature your story in a follow up as well!



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