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Cold Weather Supplies!

This time of year we carry some great expendables to help you in the cold and snowy weather. Two main items are “Setwear Cold Weather Gloves” and “Bag It” all weather bags. The Setwear gloves are built to keep you warm with Thinsulate C40 lining and a seamless index finger design for sensitivity. They are padded for comfort, but form fitting to eliminate snagging. The Bag It bags cover a variety of studio equipment such as taco carts, studio lamps, camera dollies and makeup tables in bad weather, protecting them from slush and snow. They are made of strong 6mm plastic and are very versatile. It’s a cost effective way to protect your valuable equipment. Stop in to Production Outfitters to see for yourself! Gen Andrews, Production Outfitters (and Rentals, too)

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Sony PMW-F3: Back to Back Events

Yesterday, we here at Rule Boston Camera were graced with the presence of Sony’s new Super35-style HD camera, the PMW-F3. We hosted our own event about the camera as part of our weekly Learning Lab Series, and then the New England chapter of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) held their own meeting about the camera and its technology here in the evening. Sony was kind enough to bring a prototype of the F3 as well as an SXRD 4K projector to show off their new tech. Each event had its own personal flair, but both offered interesting insights into Sony’s new large-sensor offering. I recommend reading Mike Sutton’s blog post for a more complete and more technical feature description, but I’ll highlight some of the important parts that were featured during Wednesday’s presentations. The morning Learning Lab event was led by Sony’s Peter Crithary, who took us through the functions of the camera and showed us some truly breathtaking short-form pieces shot by people at USC and Stargate Films. Right off the bat, I have to say the footage looks beautiful. Even with 35Mbit/sec XDCAM EX internal recording, the images hold up well to color grading and compositing. When the camera is attached to an external recording device, though, like an AJA KiPro, Convergent Design’s NanoFlash, or Sony’s own HDCAM SR deck, the imager on this thing really shines. No noise, great depth of field, impressive dynamic range—it has it all. Don’t forget that your lenses can make all the difference in the world! And with the appropriate adaptors, the F3 can use a variety of prime or zoom lenses that are large enough to cover the super35 imager. Peter’s presentation gave us a ton of information on what the camera can do and how it can be applied to the typical, or sometimes not-so-typical, workflow. Not only does it make pretty pictures, it also gives you functionality to boot. For the absolute highest-possible recording quality, he recommended recording to the internal SxS slots for an off-line version, while simultaneously taking advantage of the 4:4:4 Dual-Link SDI output (with a firmware upgrade, available soon) to an HDCAM SR deck for your on-line edit. Both versions will be in perfect sync and the workflow is totally seamless. You can also take advantage of the additional SD/HD switchable SDI port to run an on-set monitor for your client without the need for headache-inducing distribution amplifiers. You can even apply the Look Up Table (LUT) settings you plan to use in post-production color grading in the camera itself, allowing the DP and the client to see it in its (almost) final form—without affecting your 4:4:4 master. Amazing! This is far more than many people will actually take advantage of, but the scalability here is definitely notable. He also highlighted features like 3D Link, where you can connect two F3’s and with one cable, can control both simultaneously for perfectly-synced 3D shooting.  Check out Peter’s Learning Lab session in its entirety on vimeo:  http://vimeo.com/channels/rulelearninglabseries. While Peter’s presentation was a little more practical, aimed at the average user, Hugo Gaggioni took the reigns at the evening’s SMPTE event and spoke more on the technology behind the F3. He took us all the way back to the 70’s and 80’s when CCD imagers were first developed and discussed the transition to new CMOS technologies up to and including future 4K sensors along with the new Super35mm chip in the F3 itself. While not necessarily for the layman, his presentation was packed with fascinating information on how we got to be where we are now—and how the new chips coming out of Sony’s new manufacturing plant are changing the way we shoot HD, 3D and 4K. The people in attendance even got a sneak peek at some of the new technology Sony will be unveiling this year—very exciting stuff! The Sony F3 often seems to come up in conversations about the Panasonic AF100 and Canon’s line of DSLR’s. While the size of the sensor on each of these suggests they are all in the same class, this is hardly the case. Each one is designed to fit a certain set of needs and a certain budget. The F3 is in a slightly different price range than the offerings from Canon and Panasonic, but again, the functionality and feature set far outstrip its competition. On the flip side, however, at $16,000 list price, it is much cheaper than both the Red One and Arri Alexa, another set of cameras the F3 is bound to be compared to. What you must do is really evaluate the needs of your shoot and decide which of these cameras best suits your demands and budget. We were assured that the camera is on schedule to ship in February. We’re all excited about what this camera can do, and I hope you are, too! Peter Brunet, Engineering Technician

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Whiteout Wednesday!

The forecasters were all gloom-and-doom; the iso-bars were tightening; and the snow shovels were being sharpened (are you supposed to sharpen snow shovels?) – a storm was predicted for Wednesday and it was going to be a biggie. Would Rule Boston Camera stay open? Well, John Rule has many mailmen counted amongst his ancestors so there would be no question that we would definitely be open. But employees like myself who travel from thither and yon face the dilemma of how to get here. So I had the brilliant solution – never leave! With a sleeping bag under one arm and a blow-up mattress under another (I have fragile bones – like a bird), I settled down in the Learning Lab and hunkered down for the night. I can’t describe what happened that night but let’s just say the spirits of Brighton are restless… and loud (“I’m tryin’ to sleep here!”). I emerged the next morning, white and shaken, but ready to handle the phone calls and shovel some snow. Many of my co-workers also braved the elements and a certain survivor’s camaraderie emerged: we swapped tales of digging and scraping but were ready to take on whatever Mother Nature could throw our way and still do business. And then we had a big snowball fight. Winter do your worst!

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In the Showroom: The AF100

With the new Panasonic AF100 Camera being shipped, and the new Sony PMW-F3 on its way, lots of questions have arisen, especially by filmmakers who don’t actually know much about lenses.  I know…seriously?  However if you’re like me and want a simple explanation of what goes with what, here it is below.

We’ve recently established a relationship with Birger Engineering, a well-known company right down the road from us in Boston, and, as of February 10, we’ll start carrying their Canon EF to Micro 4/3 Adapter.  Their Birger F-Mount adapter will shortly follow and after that you’ll be seeing adapters for the Sony PMW-F3, which is a native PL-mount, and also the Arri Alexa camera.  Don’t forget we’re having an event this Wednesday, January 19th featuring the Sony PMW-F3, currently, only one of two in the entire country.  If you have questions you’d like to ask Sony directly, this will be the event to come to! So, what next?  Well, please make sure you are stocked on accessories.  We are obviously seeing a delay in the AF100 inventory due to high demand, but note that we now carry stock of SanDisk CF and SDHC Cards, SxS-1 and P2 as well as batteries, chargers, headphones and more.  If there is something you’d like to see more of here, email me at Brooks@Rule.com, and let me know!  I’ll happily add more to the inventory if I’m missing something.  Tune in for more new things to be expecting- the countdown to NAB is on now that the New Year has begun, and it’s never too late to start tracking what you’ll see. Below, we have some pictures of an AF100 we recently set up for a client, including the Zacuto Fast Draw, with an extra Zwivel Arm, 4.5 M-F Threaded Rod, 10” Arm Extensions, 77mm step-down ring, Genus 4×4 Matte Box, Arri M-FF1 Follow Focus, Zacuto Zip Gear with stops, Vibesta 8.3” Magic Arm, Canon 24-70mm L-series lens and a Convergent Design Nanoflash.  Accessories?  In this case, Panasonic VWV-BG6PPK batteries and single slot Panasonic charger, Panasonic 32Gb Gold SDHC Cards, SanDisk 32Gb Extreme CF Cards (Class 10) and a Canon Adapter that will be announced shortly. As we were setting this up: One thing to note: When using a non-Panasonic lens with an adapter, go to Menu>Other Functions> Lens Check and turn it “off.” Otherwise you’ll see black. Michelle Brooks, Inside Sales Rep

(Above) Panasonic AG-AF100 with Arri MFF-1 Follow Focus, Zacuto Fast Draw Kit Canon 24-70mm LF/2.4 Lens and Genus Matte Box (Below) Same set-up with C.D. Nanoflash and Vibesta Magic Arm.

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Zeiss CP.2, ZF.2 and ZE at Rule Boston Camera

Rule is now a Zeiss Authorized Dealer so I thought I would take some time to write about some of the new lens options we will be offering in Sales and adding to our existing lens cache in rentals. Available for sale is Zeiss ZE, ZF and Compact Primes CP.2. First are the Zeiss CP.2 Compact Primes, which are available in PL, Nikon F and Canon EF mount. These are true Cine lenses, with proper focus and iris gears, flare suppression and consistent front diameters (114mm except 50mm Macro 134mm).  They feature calibrated lens scales,  a 14 blade iris and are coated to ensure color matching and rendition. The CP.2’s cover full frame so they can be used on a Canon 5D or Nikon 3Ds in addition to the new Sony F3 and Panasonic AF100.  The lenses have interchangeable mounts but this is a bit misleading as you would need to own a collimator to properly align them and shim them. It can be done, but the recommendation is for a service center to do mount changes especially if this business is your livelihood and accuracy is everything.  However, the ability to do this can save you quite a bit as a mount swap is a fraction of the price of an adapter and offers more precision.  Something to keep in mind — if using with EF or the F mount, you will want to use a lens support system since these lenses are much heavier than DSLR primes. The CP.2’s are not a replacement for Ultraprimes or Cooke S4’s as they do not have a lens data relay system or linear iris scales, and they are not consistent in regards to their widest aperture T-stop ratings.  The widest focal length is 18mm and the longest is 100mm, so you may need to supplement with an ultraprime if you favor telephoto like a 135mm or 180mm.   CP.2’s are affordable and attainable which can’t be said for most 35mm Cine lenses.  They make a worthwhile investment if you shoot a lot of commercial or feature work.  If you own an AF100, F3, 1DS Mark IV, you will want to look at these lenses.  I suggest renting them, and I think you will be surprised at the build as well as the uniformity in size and consistency. Focal lengths and stops are 18mm t/3.6, 21mm t/2.9, 25mm t/2.9, 28mm t/2.1, 35mm t/2.1, 50mm t/2.1, 85mm t/2.1, 100mm t/2.1 and a Macro 50mm t/2.1 . The lens focus throw / rotation is approx 300 degrees.  Some of the focal lengths seem odd but I assume this is due to them covering full frame and when used in Motion Picture 35 and S35 there is a crop factor to contend with.  The lenses can be purchased individually or in various sets. Zeiss CP.2 Compact Prime 25mm t/2.9CP.2 cut in half showing quality of the build. No plastic parts here! Next is the Zeiss ZF.2 lenses for Nikon DSLR’s.  A Canon version of these lenses are in the works.  They come in F mount and are intended for use with Nikon DSLR cameras.  As you probably already know, many are simply using a Fotodiox adapter to use the lenses on Canon 5DMKII, 7D, T2i and IDsMKIV cameras.  The great thing about the ZF.2 lenses is that they feature a manual Iris ring — manual allows for more control.  Mind you, this will click to engage, so if you plan on racking iris during a shot you will want these detentes de-click by Duclos lenses or another service center to make them more Cine friendly.  These lenses also do auto exposure (if using Nikon camera) by simply closing down to f/16 or f/22 (which ever is marked in orange on the lens) and putting the camera into program AE.  Focus data is not transmitted to the camera.  The main difference between the ZF and the new ZF.2 is that there is a chip in the lens mount that transmits maximum aperture data, aperture range, and exit pupil location as EXIF data.  It does nothing more, but if you shoot Nikon DSLRs its good to have that metadata embedded into your stills.  Not any use for video, unfortunately.  The lenses are affordable and offer a quality build.  They do not feature consistent front diameters, weight or even apertures, but they are fast, lightweight and affordable.  Current focal lengths available are 18mm f/3.5, 21mm f/2.8, 25mm f/2.8, 28mm f/2.0, 35mm f/1.4, 35mm f/2.0, 50mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.4 and on the macro end 50mm f/2.0 + 100mm f/2.0 . These lenses are a mix of Planar T and Distagon T lenses with all the super wide, wide and Macro’s being Distagon’s and the standard and telephoto being Planar’s. Zeiss ZF.2 85mm f/1.4 Last on the list is Zeiss ZE lenses for Canon DSLR’s.  These are the least adaptable, but, if you shoot with Canon’s they make a lot of sense as they have electronic exposure control. The properties of the lens are almost exactly the same as the ZF.2 lenses minus the manual apertures. Zeiss ZE 50mm f/2.0 Macro lens Mike Sutton, Senior Account Manager Twitter: @MNS1974

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The New Sony PMW-F3

Sony’s most anticipated camera is finally just around the corner with delivery expected mid-February.  The F3 is a dream camera for most in that it offers a large sensor like DSLR’s but with the feature sets and ergonomics of a professional HD camera.  The F3 features a Super 35mm-sized sensor and a PL mount adapter.  On the surface, the camera appears to be no more than an EX1R with a large sensor, but, under the covers, it’s actually so much more.  Its numerous features will mean more to some than others, but, it’s fair to say that Sony has a winner on its hands for both entry level shooters all the way up to seasoned professionals.  Beyond the sensor’s increased low-light capability is a huge increase in noise reduction and the forethought of keeping the flange depth (in relation to the sensor) accurate and in-tune for use with most professional motion 35mm Cine Lenses.  Great features like over crank and under crank are present (1fps-60fps), and the camera features the same amazing 3.5″ viewfinder as the EX1R.  Even with this great viewfinder, it’s advisable to use an on-board monitor since the depth of field is shallower than the EX series and focus will be much more critical.  A good monitor with focus assist is key if not pulling tape on each shot. Photo: F3 camera body with PL mount adapter. I noticed online via various forums, blogs, etc., a lot of confusion about the mount on the F3.  The F3 features a removable PL mount but the camera has its own F3 mount as well.  Many people have asked why there is a zoom rocker on a camera that comes with a PL mount.  The zoom control is specifically for the F3 mount on the body which, in the near future, will be able to control S35mm F3 mount zoom lenses which Sony has plans to bring to market in the near future.  These zooms are the 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 (manual focus and zoom), 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 (auto), and the 17-50mm f/2.8 (auto). These lenses are not due until the end of 2011 and price is TBD.  This is still very encouraging and something that cannot currently be found in the DSLR arena.  S35mm zoom lenses, even in a new F3 mount, are a solution that opens up the use of smaller crews and less external components (microforce, etc.).  Sony has the ability to make lenses like this due to their acquisition of Konica / Minolta.  Outside of the F3 mount the camera comes with a PL mount.  It’s not a dummy mount in that it has the ability to transmit Arri Lens Data and Cooke/i data to the camera body.  These data pins are located in the 12 and 3 o’clock positions inside the PL mount. This metadata is passed onto the SxS cards during recording so you have the ability in post to review lens information (think Canon EXIF data with Aperture but with motion pictures).  Sony also has an F3K bundle which features three of its own PL lenses (35mm, 50mm & 85mm) all f/2.0 with 95mm filter diameters.  I think this is a very clever choice to have a bundle with these primes because they are fast, consistent and can be purchased for a lot less than most PL mount cine glass.  Canon and Nikon users are not left out as Nikon (G and DX will all work) and Canon FD lens adapter to F3 mount are available from MTF Services.  Birger Engineering also has plans to release a Canon EF mount with full protocol control.  I think most users will be looking at Zeiss CP.2 PL lenses as an affordable solution for owning, and lens renters will be looking at Cooke S4, Arri and Zeiss PL mount lenses to take full advantage of the amazing sensor on the camera. Photo: F3 with PL mount. Notice the data pins at the 12 and 3 position in the mount. The Sony F3 uses SxS cards just like the rest of the Sony PMW series of cameras.  The camera records MPEG-2 Long GOP which is also used by the rest of the XDCAM HD cameras in Sony’s professional line.  The bit rate is selectable between the 35 Mb/s @ 1920 x 1080 or 1280 x 720 in HQ mode or 1440 x 1080 if using 25 Mb/s SP mode at all the standard frame rates we are accustomed to with Sony’s CineAlta line of cameras (1fps – 60fps).  This was smart on Sony’s part as it allows you to inter-cut with other Sony professional cameras in the line if needed. The camera features two SxS slots which can hold up to two 64GB SxS-1A cards for a total of 200 minutes of continuous recording time without having to offload (well beyond DSLR capabilities) A great feature of the F3, which also has some lack of clarity on the web, is its ability to output Dual Link 3G SDI 10bit 4:2:2 and RBG.  This is an optional feature available in April via a software unlock (price TBD), and it will allow you to use several different recording options like a CineDeck, HDCAM SRW5500/2, Codex, Astro HR-7502, S.Two, direct to AJA Kona 3G (ideally with CineForm DDR), etc.  You can also use a NanoFlash or a KiPro Mini if you just want to bypass the SxS or as a secondary or primary (with SxS as a backup). With 3D being popular in the past few years, Sony has wisely added a 3D system link option that will allow you to lock-up timecode, genlock and other controls with a single cable — simplifying the process.  This is really smart because it allows you to use simple side-by-side 3D rigs without the need for external devices, etc.  3D focus, zoom, iris can all be done with a Preston HU3 and 2 x MDR-2 units with 6 motors via 3D tweak in the Preston hand unit. When Sony puts out their own S35 Zoom lens with built in servos this process will be even easier as you can use a Varizoom and other simple electronic controls for FI+Z.  It’s also important in that the F3 has an 8pin remote terminal so you can use standard remote units like the RMB150 controller.  I mention this with 3D as it is possible to use one remote to control two cameras with an 8pin adapter cable. The 3D link option will be available in April and price is TBD. Overall, the Sony F3 is destined to become one of the most talked about and popular cameras of 2011.  With the Panasonic AF100 and the Sony F3, it is safe to say a shift to large sensor cameras by manufacturers is a priority.  Sony and Panasonic have been paying attention and both reacted with two quality products that directly address a number of features and requests that we have all had with DSLRs.  Ergonomics, proper audio (XLR connections with monitoring), proper waveform/vector, recording length, codecs, etc., have all been addressed affordably.  The camera comes with a PL adapter, Stereo Mic, Windscreen, IR remote, Shoulder strap (not sure why), manual, CD-ROM with drivers and digital manual and warranty.  The F3K comes with the same supplied accessories with the addition of the PL lens kit featuring a 35mm, 50mm and 85mm lenses. The camera does not come with batteries or a charger.  Luckily, it uses the Sony BP series of batteries so if you already have an EX1 or EX3, you’ll be all set.  These batteries and charger will be sold and rented at Rule along with the Sony PMW-F3 camera.   We’ll be hosting a Learning Lab for the F3 on Wed, Jan 19th 2011 at Rule Boston Camera. Mike Sutton, Senior Account Manager Twitter: @MNS1974