Thursday, February 15, 2018

Fujinon MK Lenses

I have been keeping an eye on the new MK series of lenses from Fujinon since Cinegear last summer.  These are a wonderful blend of size, performance and cost. I recently gathered a few shooter friends together to try these out.  We took over the green screen stage at Video Resources in Santa Ana California.  I was able to get the pair of lenses from FujiFilm HQ for the week.  We tried them on my Fs5, an A7s and with the help of a new DuClos adapter a Sony F5.

I grabbed the 18-55mm and the 50-135mm as a kit. What I like about these lenses is they weigh less than my Canon 70-200mm  ƒ2.8 zoom and are super sharp and super responsive.  I do a lot of focus pulling and the short 90 degree barrel throw on a DSLR lens has always been a problem for me.  These lenses have almost 200 degrees of focus barrel rotation - Yay!!!  The rotation is also smooth with just the right amount of tension so you don't blow by your marks (like I always do...).

Both lenses are the same size with the gears in the same place so a fast lens change is even faster.  There is a back focus adjustment, just like our old B4 broadcast lenses as they are parfocal and can hold focus throughout the full zoom range.  In addition there is also a macro adjustment for closeup work.  

I found the lenses very easy to set up.  Even adding the Duclos FZ adapter is pretty simple - you'll need a jeweler's screwdriver and a flat clean surface to work on.  It takes about 3 minutes to swap the e-mount plate for the FZ mount.  You might want to have some tiny shims on hand in case your lens is a little worn.  

I was curious to see how these would work on an A7S when mounted on the eMotimo pan/tilt head - they worked great!  They are very light and balance well. Also the eMotimo focus motor had no trouble with the lens at all.

Over all, the range of the two lenses in the set seems about perfect.  You can check out the detailed reviews of the Fujinon MK line from: ProAV or Philip Bloom.  For us, we needed to get them in our hands and see how the work with our rigs.  The draw here is outstanding Fujinon design and quality combined with accessible pricing.  Each lens comes in just under $4000 UDS.  For a range of 18mm to 135mm across a two lens set, I think this is a pretty fantastic deal.

Until next time, good shooting and editing and grading,

Friday, February 2, 2018

Davinci Resolve 14 Studio

Do I really have to say FANTASTIC again... Yes!!!

I have been working with Davinci Resolve since 2009 - I think that was version 7'ish...  I was coming from Apple Color and that was a toally different workflow.  In an earlier post I raved about version 9 as being the first point I felt comfortable in Resolve.  Then as things progressed BMD rebuilt the GUI and added things like basic editing, better audio control and generators. Then came version 12 where they seemed to have found the right balance between grading and editing.  Then... 14!  Now the editor is really nice and zippy.  There is on-board audio sweetening. And, the whole engine got a rebuild from the ground up.  i.e. Zippy.

I'm running Resolve 14 Studio on my 2009 Mac Pro tower and on my 17" MBP.  It works well on both - although the tower has 24 gigs of RAM (soon to be 48) and 2 GPUs.  I have been trying HD, UHD and 4K DCI in ProRes and 4K RAW from my Fs5 + Shogun.  Everything is working.  The CDNG RAW is a little more daunting but I can play it back and work with it and not have to decoding which is really helpful.  These have just been test with the RAW and I'd likely use a proxy workflow on a real project to save space and time.

I am so impressed with the Editor that I have started to edit many of my projects directly in Resolve.  It's a very fast editor both with responsiveness and the workflow.  I can do most all my work in the suite:
  1. Adobe Prelude to transfer with verify
  2. Window burns from Resolve of all the dailies
  3. Rough edit and window burn out for approval
  4. First color pass and basic cleanup
  5. Notes
  6. Final edit
  7. Full color pass
  8. Audio
  9. Bobs your uncle
  10. Deliver
For backing up I can output an XML and DRP file to the project folder and then everything is in one place should I need to pick up the project in a year or two.

With the addition of the Fairlight audio engine you are pretty much set for audio.  I have had to occasionally go out to Adobe Audition to do some heavy lifting for audio cleanup but not that often.  I like the basic audio controls you have in the editor window and then the Fairlight window is where all the goodies are.

And of course the Color section is, well, FANTASTIC.  Like most people I started using Resolve to do smooth color correction and grading.  This feature has improved with every update.  It's now far more powerful and feature rich than ever.  I'm still a newbe when it comes to real correction and grading styles.  Like most shooters that edit, I make it look good, maybe throw a LUT on it and call it a day.  But when I have to go deep, the app is ready and waiting for me.  With my upgrade to the Studio version, I have the on-board de-noiser, all of the real time EFX and the film grain filters.  As I move into more work on Web series project that have a style this is super handy.

In the new world of collaboration, Resolve 14 is set for playing well with others.  You can share projects with team members on the network and / or system.  I haven't had a chance to use this yet myself but hope to soon.  The demo I saw last fall at the Blackmagic Design showcase was awesome.  I'll update this post as soon as I have some more experience with this feature.

Now, lastly, the Delivery page is brilliant.  I now can choose from a variety common output settings for things like YouTube, Vimeo, Premiere Pro, Final Cut, etc. and be spot on.  Also you can build your own presets for frequent operations you preform like window burns and specialty codecs for TV stations and other internal web systems.   
Love it!  (and yes, I'm a giant fan boy!)

Hope this gets you interested in Davinci Resolve.  You can download the free version and start using it and then move to the full studio version for only $299 when you're ready.  I have a lot of clients that want to try a cut of their project on their own and I suggest they use the free version and then send me the cut and I can start from where they left off... Pretty Cool!

Until next time, good shooting and editing and grading,