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Azden

The Azden brand goes along with Rode and Sennheiser, but they seem to have filled a gap that has been left open for awhile by the mainstream brands.  Juiced Link and Beachtek have both produced small sound mixers, that leave some to be desired, but Azden has housed their own in a more sophisticated, small box that operates in the same fashion, but gives the user more control over their levels, as well as includes a jack for headphones in addition to the dual XLR inputs, and the L and R channel level controls. Azden also covers a FMX 42/42a 4-channel portable mixer, which offers 4 XLR inputs and 2 XLR outputs plus a mini plug output, adjustable input level monitor level, and adds a 10-pin  and mini plug camera return. These sound mixers run from $400 for the smaller dual channel mixer to $840 for the larger 4 channel mixers. Another unique product is the Azden dual receiver/transmitter kit. Running at $750, this price is highly competitive with buying two Azden or Sennheiser kits at around $599 each.  This dual receiver allows you to mic two people and run separate channels into one receiver, rather than using two receivers and two transmitters. Michelle Brooks, Inside Sales – brooks@rule.com

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Sachtler ACE/FSB4 Quick Comparison

Many people question the wisdom of buying an ACE over a Sachtler FSB4, so I thought I would hopefully put some of those questions to rest. The Sachtler line is well known for their FSB4 and FSB6 tripods, which are the go-to tripods for smaller and standard camcorders.  These tripods fit cameras anywhere from the Canon XF-105 to the PMW EX3. FSB4 holds 8.8 lbs, weighs 10.7 lbs, and also has 5 steps of counter balance and 3 grades of drag but also contains a spring loaded counter balance, which the ACE has, but as far as the actual “fluid drag system” the ACE has its own patented name for its fluid drag, which does not allow for a technical comparison between it and the Sachtler FSB4, because there are no numbers to compare or info on how the heads are made exactly, that is Sachtler patented information. The Ace, which was introduced last year, also holds 8.8 lbs, weighs 9.7 lbs., and its price point of $535 makes getting a professional tripod more do-able for those on a budget.  It features 5 steps of counter balance and 3 grades of drag. The biggest difference between the two? The ACE’s head is made of plastic (glass fiber composite) , while the Sachtler FSB4 is aluminum.  They are similar in weight, hold capacity, height, and style.  You’ll feel the drag function more smoothly in the FSB4 than the ACE. The latest update is that the ACE now is being offered with carbon fiber legs, in telescopic proportions.  That mean 10.2″ min height, no spreader, and only 5.1 lbs. for the legs.  These legs will also be available for tripods such as the FSB 4.  The Carbon Fiber version will run somewhere around the price of the aluminum Sachtler, which is $899. Michelle Brooks, Inside Sales – brooks@rule.com

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The Ultra-Flexible SYMPLA System from Manfrotto

Manfrotto recently released the Sympla rig, which they call the “system moving platform.”  The name is quite fitting considering how many different variations of this rig are available.  Let’s go over the separate pieces, which include: HDSLR Clamp-On Remote Control: There are two versions of this — one with iris, shutter, ISO and focus point control, and the other with just focus point control.  The first one mentioned attaches with a Manfrotto rosette to the side of a Manfrotto Tripod and acts as a 2nd arm to the tripod, putting together a studio setup environment for the camera. Sympla Variable Plate: This is a fancy name for a Manfrotto baseplate which is actually similar to any Manfrotto quick release on the market that uses a 501 tipod plate.  It will fit most Manfrotto video and photo tripod heads, making the mount interchangeable. Sympla Shoulder Pad: This actually is not padded, but many people think it is very comfortable despite that fact.  It leans on the shoulder and allows a weight to hook on the back with a 3/8″ screw. Sympla Adjustable Handles: These are not 15mm rod mounted. They are handles custom to the Sympla rig, so you won’t be able to move or interchange them with handles on any of your other rigs.  They go straight down and the angle is adjustable at the very top of the handle. Sympla Flexible Mattebox: This mattebox is perhaps the coolest of it’s kind and the coolest on the market!  It is called a universal mattebox, but it is universal in more ways than one. It has 4 “lengths” — lengths equaling from the camera on out.  This mattebox is made of a thick flexible rubber, which holds shape when you bend it and adjusts to the way the light falls without changing your entire setup.  The mattebox pushes in to become smaller or pulls out to become longer.  It does include step down rigs and what is called Nuns Knickers, or a Shade to go between the camera and the step down ring to ensure that no light gets in. Fig Rig: The Fig Rig is a steering wheel that goes around the camera.  The lens sits through the steering wheel to balance the weight, and the shoulder pad is turned upside down to lean against you instead of going over you. Lens Support: Lens support is a sloped piece that sits under the lens to support it.  This is actually a nice way of doing it, as you don’t have to screw anything in. That being said, it’s a nice way to focus your DSLR while it’s attached to a rig, or think of it as another way of putting a tripod in a studio-like setup.  The focus is accurate and not painfully slow.   I would recommend this if you’re looking to operate a little differently than what you are used to with more flexibility — especially when you are shoulder mounted. –Michelle Brooks, Inside Sales, brooks@rule.com

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Bags named Petrol

A question I get a LOT working at Rule is, “How do you guys choose your bags?”  The answer is: carefully.  When a new line or an interesting item comes on the market, we either take it is as a demo, or we stock it and try it out.  If it’s good, we order more.  If it’s bad, we never order it again. With bags, a lot of us here shoot.  We have our preferences.  We also rely a lot on our client’s referrals for what they use and are happy with.  I’m focusing this blog on Petrol because it’s not a new line of bags, but they’ve made several new developments feature-wise that I appreciate, that other companies have not yet adapted. The first nice thing, is the inclusion of a line of LED lights on the inside of the bag.  Night shoots, especially in the fall go after 5PM a lot of the time.  Packing up is often done in the dark, even if shooting isn’t.  Being able to open up your bag and see where things go without holding a flashlight in the other hand is an immediate bonus. The other is that Petrol makes really nice lighting bags.  They’re not cheap.  But if you’re looking for a bag that is SIMPLE, with wheels, and not overdone, Petrol makes a good one similar to the size of the Arri 3-piece light kit, except in soft-case, hard-foam form.   They also make a C-Stand bag, which comes in handy because, let’s admit it, C-stands are usually tossed in the van or truck un-cased, and they are awkward to carry around while trying to carry other equipment. An interesting addition to the Petrol line is the Cambio bag.  Prognosis is still out on this. Petrol is trying to be creative by putting a pull-out tripod on a bag, excluding the need for a tripod.  This is something that might seem dinky at first, but if you’re traveling up a mountain and now need a tripod and you’ve got one, this might seem like the best idea ever.  In everyday situations though, it’s always better to plan out your shots AND your equipment. A customer favorite is the Deca-Lightweight Audio Bag and the Deca Eargonizer.  These are well-designed sound recorder bags.  I pair everyone who is using more than just a sound recorder with one of these bags.  For example, if you are using a pair of wireless lavs with a sound recorder or mixer, this bag just makes sense. It’s organized with clear material in the right places and balanced with pockets for EVERYTHING so that you’re not fumbling around trying to separate wires and cords. That is a quick summation! In another few weeks, we will be stocking the Petrol PC104, the PC302, the Decashell Cam Backpack and the PM805.  The Decashell Cam Backpack is of specific interest, as it looks like a normal day backpack, yet holds a lot of gear.  It is mostly black with only small labels, so it will not draw attention to the equipment if you are going overseas!  Also feel free to email rulesales@rule.com, or any of our sales reps for more information. Michelle Brooks, Inside Sales, brooks@rule.com

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Tripod FAQs

The Manfrotto 701HDV, MVT502AM Tripod System with Carrying Bag is an LW tripod system kit for camcorders or DSLRs up to 8.8 lb. This System combines the 701HDV Pro Fluid Head with the new MVT502AM tripod.

This system is the smallest folding length of any Manfrotto to date.

Specs:

  • closed length: 29.53 in
  • maximum height: 61.42 in
  • minimum height: 27.76 in
  • load capacity: 8.82 lbs
  • weight: 8.38 lbs

The 504HD, 546BK has an aluminum crown head with a built-in 75mm bowl. The tripod’s telescopic mid-level spreader holds the tripod together and its sturdy feet connect to the legs without any problem.

Specs:

  • Maximum Height: 65.94 in
  • Minimum Height: 17.32 in
  • Load Capacity: 19.84 lbs
  • Weight: 13.89 lbs

Sachtler-Ace: Well, what’s different about the Sachtler Ace? It’s the only tripod with its own webpage (www.sachtler-ace.com) and includes a thrilling demo reel with the tagline “You only get one shot so make it count.”  Sachtler broke the $500 price mark range with a tripod that was ergonomical as well as affordable for the student, independent filmmaker, etc.

It includes a 5+0 counterbalance, 90-75 degree tilt range, 8.8 payload range.

Specs:

  • Weights: 10 lbs.
  • Height min: 22.4”
  • Height max: 68.1”
  • Transport Length: 34.3”

Now, I’m going to list the main comments, questions, and concerns that I get all the time from customers about tripods.

  1. I need a light tripod.  I can’t carry a heavy one. Now, I am 5’2″ and weigh under 100 lbs.  I get it.  But, the fact is that while you don’t want to break yourself, if your camera needs a heavier tripod, you’ve got to figure out a way to manage it. For example, you might get a tripod bag with wheels (Kata makes a great one) or bring another person along to carry it.  Do not fail in this area to get a tripod made for a 5D when you have a heavier camera or a lighter camera loaded up with accessories.
  2. What is the tripod that folds up the smallest? Most tripods do not fold up smaller than 34” long.  That’s the norm. Now, folding up length is different than standing minimum height.  But to answer the question, as far as I know, the one that folds up the smallest for travel is the Manfrotto 701, 502MVK at 29.9” long. 
  3. What is the difference between the FSB4 and the Sachtler Ace? Two main differences. Made of different materials at different parts. Different heads.  The FSB4 Head is the FSB4, the Ace is the ACE head.  These are made of different materials.  The FSB Head is made of aluminum, whereas the ACE head is made of aluminum and the silver bar in the middle is well-machined plastic.  The arm is shorter on the ACE than the FSB4. Ace has 3 grades of drag, FSB4 has 5. This affects the “fluid” feeling.  FSB4 has leak-proof fluid damping and a 10-step counterbalance system. ACE works at -30 where FSB4 works at -40 degrees.  ACE weighs 8.7 lbs, FSB4 weighs 9.7.  Spreader on the FSB4 is sturdier than on the ACE.
  4. I want thick legs.  Can I get thick sturdier legs with my head? Rule of thumb, the thicker legs that you see on Sachtler Video 18 heads, etc. normally fit with 100mm ball heads, which are definitely more expensive than 75mm heads, ranging more in the 2K-10K and up range.  Some manufacturers like Manfrotto make the 546BK legs, which are slightly thicker, and are generally wider than Sachtler legs that go with 75mm bowl heads. But if you want the thick, heavy legs, you need to go up to 100mm bowl, because the legs must also balance with the head to really control pan/tilt correctly with your camera. 
  5. Can I get a 75mm to 100mm bowl adapter? Yes.  Manfrotto, Sachtler, and Vinten all make 75 to 100mm bowl adapters. Except the way they are worded, only Kessler really has it right in their name for it because you are in fact going down in size, from 100mm to 75mm.  You cannot make the bowl bigger, from 75mm to 100mm because a 100mm adapter does not fit in a 75mm hole.  Plus, a 100mm head on 75mm legs wouldn’t make sense because it wouldn’t be supported or balanced.  These adapters range in $32 for Manfrotto to $154 for Sachtler.
  6. Can I use a photo tripod with my camera to make my camera go sideways? If you want.  But don’t take your hand off it because it’s going down to the ground if your camera is over 6 lbs!

Michelle Brooks, Inside Sales

brooks@rule.com

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New Firmware Upgrade for Sony HXR-NX70U

The Sony HXR-NX70U, released last June 2011 has a new firmware upgrade now available to end-users that offers:

• Selectable zoom speed for the rocker zoom

• Dual recording  (simultaneous recording) to both internal memory and SDHC card

• Additional frame rates of 1920×1080/30p and 1280×720/60p

• Expanded focus and histogram button are now assignable buttons.

• An added menu feature, “Last Scene Review” for playback on the camera.

• Face Detection Box on the video output can now be controlled by the Display On/Off button.

• The Display On/Off overlay the zebra and histogram display on the video output.

You can access the firmware upgrade here:

http://pro.sony.com/bbsc/ssr/micro-nxcamsite/resource.downloads.bbsccms-assets-micro-nxcam-downloads-nxcamfirmwareupgrades

This upgrade is currently offered for free on the Sony website as a download when their camera is hooked up via USB, but if the user does not wish to upgrade via download, they can send the camera into Sony for a technician fee to have the upgrade done at Sony’s service facility, which for New England is located in Teaneck, New Jersey.

If you wish to do this, you can contact the Sony Support Center at 800-833-6817 Mon-Fri, 8:00 am – 8:00 pm. ET, excluding Holidays.

These are your options for Sony Service via Sony:

Sony Service Center

Sony Electronics Inc.

123 W.Tryon Ave.

Teaneck, NJ 07666

Phone: 201-833-5300

E-mail: TeaneckService@am.sony.com

Sony Service Center

Sony Electronics Inc.
2706 Media Center Dr.

Ste.13
LosAngeles, CA 90065

Phone:323-352-5000

E-mail: LAService@am.sony.com

The Sony HXR-NX70U was announced a year ago in April 2011, and literally made a splash at last year’s NAB in Las Vegas when Sony had it sit in a shower to demonstrate it’s unique water-resistant design.  The “chiihuahua” camera is another in Sony’s Prosumer NXCAM line, all of which record onto SDHC cards with an AVCHD codec, and carry a list price range of $2K-6K, including the well-known HXR-NX5U, HXR-MC50U, and soon-to-be released palm-sized HXR-NX30U, which features a built in projector, will list for $2,500 and will be available June 2012.

Michelle Brooks, Inside Sales

brooks@rule.com

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TV Logic’s New Electronic Viewfinder

At tonight’s Pub Night, we’ll be introducing an exciting new Electronic Viewfinder made by TV Logic and distributed by Alphatron that will be available at NAB 2012.  You can see the basic specs below, and more information will be released monthly. EVF 035W-3G Electronic Viewfinder, available Spring 2012. Made by TV Logic and distributed by Alphatron. Stats: 3.5” Display 960×640 HD-SDI loop through HDMI in/out 1080P Headphone Jack Focus Assist Each month between now and then we will release updates with new product features.  TV Logic and Alphatron came up with the idea for the new EVF at last year’s NAB and have spent this year working together to develop and fine-tune it.  Rene van der Reiden of Alphatron describes the relationship between Alphatron and TV Logic as, “a good combination with many factors, so this combination hopefully will be very successful in the time to come.” We encourage you to ask us questions about this new product!  We’ll channel them to Alphatron in order to get answers and to let them know what kind of feedback we’re hearing from our customers about the product so far.  The EVF035W-3G Viewfinder will not be available through TV Logic or Alphatron online.  The product will only be available through product resellers.  The list of resellers has not been announced yet, but Rule Boston Camera is one of them, and we look forward to answering your questions and telling you more about the viewfinder.  The EVF will list for a price of $1,395 which is also Minimum Advertised Price.  As a company that has had good experiences with TV Logic products in the past, we agree with Rene’s statement that, ‘what is important is how they handle problems and how they support you.  We have been working with them for the last 4 years and have an excellent relationship not only business to business, but person to person. Here, we are very excited because we know a little more than everyone else does and it will be a brilliant product, I’m sure.  It’s [a company to customer] win-win.’ -Michelle Brooks, Inside Sales, brooks@rule.com If you have further questions, please contact either our Sales Team here at Rule Boston Camera or myself at 617-277-2200 or email us at RuleSales@rule.com.

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Shoemount Anyone?

With all of these shoulder mounts getting put together, most of my customers are finding that they need more than one shoe mount. And with all of those extra screw holes in the FS100, might as well put them to good use, right? So here you have the top shoe mounts that I’ve found to be most useful. I’m well aware there might be others out there that are working excellently, and if so I would love to add them to this collection.  I would also love feedback about which of these works best for you, the customer. So please, if you read this and so desire, email me at Brooks@Rule.com these three things: 1.    Which would you buy for the price and usability? 2.    Is this an item that would be useful for Rule to stock? 3.    Which would you find yourself using the most?

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Recent Steadicam Workshop with Zephyr & Scout

At the recent Columbus Day Weekend Steadicam Workshop with Peter Abraham, I was intrigued by a couple of things.  First off, the people that I spent those two days with were AWESOME.  You literally walk away feeling like you are best friends (check out the photos at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rule-Boston-Camera/46957103796?ref=ts). Next to that, I got to use the new Steadicam Scout for the first time, which will be the replacement for the Flyer eventually.  The Scout is the first one in the country to be used in the workshop, so it was great getting a firsthand look at it, and seeing the differences and changes that so many people are going to want if they decide to update their Steadicam.  First off, instead of only having the ability to rig weights at both ends of the monitor, there is a screw-in spot in the middle, behind the monitor.  This gives you some added weight, and works well to balance out the 24 lb. capacity if you go up that high on top.  You can also slide the monitor backwards and forwards, which also works to balance out the weight.  Speaking of the monitor, it’s a new model, one not seen yet, and for being standard definition as well as glare proof, I was really pleased with the image and would buy it that way easily. Many people have asked me my preference- Scout or Zephyr.  Well, after using both, they are different tools.  The Zephyr is definitely a bit heavier, but also is a nice feel, and a bit more robust if you’re using something like the Sony PMW-320, which is what we had on it.  The Scout is a nice middle range.  Heavier than the Pilot, lighter than the Zephyr.  The Pilot vest is also being redone, and there is a kit available to update yours if you want to.  The current Pilot vest is mostly Velcro and if you’ve ever tried to get it off while shooting- well don’t.  It’s like popping the packaging bubbles that your camera comes wrapped in.  Loud. The new kit gives you clips, etc., to make it a little more like the Zephyr and Scout vests. And last, here are some tips from Peter Abraham himself (who by the way, shot Notorious B.I.G.’s first music video, and if you haven’t appreciated slight differences in Steadicam operators’ work, you will after watching this video). Sand- Get a can of air and spray the Steadicam every so often to blow off the gimbal.  You won’t be getting sand out easily if you let it build up.  If you’re walking on sand and don’t want to kill your ankles, get metal screening from Home Depot or Lowes, and lay it down on the sand for support. Shooting with DSLR- get a thin foam sheet from any fabric store, cut a small rectangle and screw in the camera to the Steadicam plate through that.  You won’t wear down the bottom of the camera, or scratch your Steadicam plate, and it won’t move around on you or come loose. Self Adhesive Velcro- This stuff is magic.  Keep your ends on your vest tied down with it, use it to attach a water cover, keep a roll with you at all times. Michelle Brooks, Inside Sales Representative