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C500 MK II Cinema Camera – Leading the Full-Frame Charge!

It’s here! The new Canon C500 MK II, the long anticipated sequel to the C500 and (current) successor to the ever popular C300 MK II. This time, it’s Full Frame! Canon fans have been waiting a long time for this update to the Cine series, so how does it stack up?

Right off the bat, the C500 II is leading the charge into the Full-Frame Cinema Camera landscape. This camera offers Full-Frame 5.9K RAW recording internally to the new CF Express media. Additionally, it will record 4K S35 RAW, alongside 4K S35 and 4K Full Frame XF-AVC. Did I mention it shoots 4K? It shoots a lot of 4K. 

For high-speed and XF-AVC modes, there is a crop employed, depending on your settings. Below, I’ve outlined the main differences, crop-wise, between RAW and XF-AVC formats. My findings have it at about a 10% crop between modes. 

Color-wise, the C500 II brings the same tried-and-true Canon color science, with options for Canon LOG2 and LOG3, as well as the same methods for adjusting between color profiles and matrices. I’m still partial to “Production Camera.” The color is very Canon-like, with dependable skin tones and great highlight retention. Canon’s biggest advantage was always its built-in color science and this is no different. 

For high-speed options, you’ve got 60fps at 5.9K RAW and 4K formats — and up to 120fps for the 2K cropped modes — similar to the C300 II. Canon cameras have traditionally struggled with high-speed options, and it would have been nice to see some better, non-cropped options in the C500 II, but it’s also no huge shock that there aren’t any.

The new camera also includes a few new expansion units — the most useful of which adds an additional 2 XLR ports, V-mount power options, and lens control. It builds out nicely, and it doesn’t add too much bulk to the body — but it adds the increased real estate to throw it on a shoulder more comfortably — aided by the counter weight of a larger battery. Large batteries may be the way to go with this one, as the camera sure does use a lot of power. Nothing unexpected, though, as we’re seeing all the new full-frame cameras slurp down batteries without a care in the world. Price of admission, it would seem.

The new LCD screen and menu layout are a welcome change from the C300 II, and it feels right at home with C200 users. A single cable connects the screen to the front of the camera, ditching the audio bundled to LCD that has been an issue with the previous cameras. Overall, the build quality is rugged, and if past cinema cameras are any indication, people will be putting that to the test. 

For outputs, we’ve got a 4K HDMI, a Monitor SDI out, and a 12G 4K SDI out, in addition to the video terminal for the LCD/EVF. One small issue is that when recording in 4K formats, the SDI out is stuck to outputting 4K. Most wireless transmitters and on-board monitors don’t accept a 12G 4K image, limiting users to using the Monitor Out for on-camera routing. Not a huge issue, but not having the ability to spit out a clean and overlay/LUT signal at the same time to two places will get on the nerves of the DIT. I expect this will be addressed in a future firmware update. 

Using the camera is easy, as one would expect from Canon. While the menu system is a lot longer than with previous Canon cameras, it’s still as easy as ever to find what you’re looking for. 

Overall, we expect this camera will meet the needs of the full-frame minded shooter, with plenty of S35 modes as well. While the XF-AVC looks great, it’s the Canon Raw that really sings. And while it’s compressed, it’s still a pretty hefty workflow at around 32 minutes per 512GB card. It’s helpful that this camera can occupy both higher budget shoots with RAW workflows, and more traditional C300 II style shooting with XF-AVC — looking great in either scenario.  Reach out to Rentals by email or phone at 800-rule-com (800-785-3266) to take it for a spin. Canon’s Ryan Snyder and Paul Hawxhurst will be here on March 18th from 10am-12n for a hands-on overview. Click here to RSVP. It’s FREE!

-Alex Enman, Engineer

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The New Vega Upgrade for Ready Rig Is a No Brainer

With a simple install and immediate results, the new VEGA upgrade is a no-brainer for rental houses and owner-operators alike. Owner-operators, click here to follow Ready Rig’s simple upgrade instructions.

The improved stability and weight control make the upgrade worth every penny. For any gimbal job, add a Ready Rig with VEGA to your order for improved stability and weight control. The VEGA absorbs unwanted motion to capture smooth and fluid shots with the controls at your fingertips. You’ll love the improvements in this motion tool — made by industry professionals for industry professionals!

Take the VEGA for a spin and let me know what you think. To book it, reach out to Rentals by email or call 800-rule-com.

Dylan Law, QC/Logistics & MoVI Tech

 

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Spots Available! Hands-on Internship for Spring Semester

CALLING ALL STUDENTS! Join Rule Boston Camera for our Spring Semester Internship starting in January and ending in April for 2 days a week of high-level training and hands-on access to the latest film and video equipment and technology.  You’ll learn the basics from our team in the Quality Control Department with exposure to the in’s and out’s of Rentals and Engineering along with demos of the latest and most popular gear from our tech team.

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Interested? Send resumes to Dylan Law at law@rule.com. This is an unpaid internship.

Click here to see our Interns in action.

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Analog Is Alive and Well with the ARRICAM ST

Despite popular belief, analog acquisition is alive and well in 2019.

The continual re-birth of photochemical filmmaking has given us at Rule the great joy of keeping our film cameras on hand for new generations to discover. After a long pause we are finally able to bring a new (to us) film camera into our offerings.

The ARRICAM ST (short for Studio) is the flagship culmination of ARRI’s long history in building beautiful motion picture cameras — with the ST combining features from the ARRI 535B and the Austrian Moviecam Compact into one elegant camera system. It is a whisper quiet film camera (under 20dB) with all the bells and whistles one would expect from a studio camera.

One of my favorite features of this particular ARRICAM ST is that it has a 3 perforation Super 35mm movement. This allows you to frame for 1.78, 1.85, and 2.39 while using 25% less film. Less film means longer takes on the same 400′ and 1000′ loads as well as a significant cost savings in processing, prep, and scanning of your film. While not as aggressive a savings as shooting 2 perf, 3 perf affords you more flexibility for choice of aspect ratio and still leaves you some wiggle room for reframing when shooting for a 2.39 aspect ratio.

My second favorite feature is the programmable speed control box on the side of the camera. By working in conjunction with the electronically controlled spinning mirror shutter, the speed control box can generate speed ramps from anywhere within 1-60fps at the push of a button. The ability to “slow time on a dime” is something incredibly special when imaged on film. Cue up your favorite Wes Anderson film for reference.

I’m admittedly quite personally biased to shooting film. While many will find good reasons to disagree, I feel that nothing quite matches the characteristic response of a spinning mirror exposing emulsion. Film after all has the built-in “film look” that many of us try to desperately mimic with every digital cinema camera that races down the track. Film negative has unparalleled highlight handling, smooth motion cadence, and fine organic texture. Film is even more forgiving to focus pulls.

If you haven’t had a chance to experience the guilty pleasure of shooting film, perhaps the ARRICAM ST can be the muse for your next project and your first photochemical romance.

-Adam Van Voorhis, Equipment Manager

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The ALEXA Mini Goes Full Frame with the LF

If you’re reading this, you’re probably a camera nerd — and if you’re a camera nerd, you’ve probably heard of this company called ARRI. They’re from Germany. They’ve been around for like, 100 years or so. Us camera nerds know that when ARRI announces a new camera, it’s a big deal. They make cameras that have an enormous impact on how our industry operates — and the new Alexa Mini LF is no different.

Full frame video has been increasing in popularity over the years — it’s hard to say where it started to pick up steam, but the Canon C700 Full Frame and RED Monstro Vista Vision are certainly the big cameras that hit the market first — followed closely by the Sony VENICE and ALEXA LF. We knew these cameras were coming, as lens manufacturers had been posturing for a full frame cinema option for years. 

When ARRI released the ALEXA LF, the baby brother of the large format ALEXA 65, we knew that full frame was an official part of cinema. While the ALEXA LF is a wonder of engineering, it is still packaged in the heavy and bulky ALEXA-style body. Great for large scale shoots and multiple operators, but not so great for the everyday indie or commercial setups. This is where the ALEXA Mini has found its footing, with its small scale lending itself well to gimbals, drones, and operators of every stature with its democratizing 5lb body.

Enter: The ALEXA Mini LF. The full frame, 4.5K capable, 5.7lb ALEXA. When going through the specs, one can find themselves wanting to use words like “full frame monster” and “game changer” — or other buzzword camera nerd affectations. There is no need. It’s an ARRI ALEXA Mini LF. Enough said.

The Mini LF can do all the things it’s family members can – but with some added resolutions. Below, a list of the various options for SUP 6.0:

 

The camera’s size has also remained mostly unchanged, with a few updates on body design to accommodate the newer Codex Media.

 

 

Speaking of media, ARRI has chosen to abandon the CFast format (thankfully) and has moved to the newer Codex Compact Drives. Some will say this media choice is expensive – and that’s because it is! Very much so. Coming in right around $2,400 bucks per 1TB card, they’re up there, but no more so than any other professional recording media. Have you met my friend, the RED Mini Mag? Or how about the Sony AXSM cards? Those run over $4,500 per TB!

ARRI is being aggressive with its promotion for this camera, same as the ALEXA LF — listing it’s dynamic range as higher than “any production camera.” A bold claim, but anyone who’s shot with these cameras can attest to its authenticity – these are the closest to film DR you’re going to get. 

ARRI has also chosen to remain with their Alev III sensor, assuring that the same ARRI Color Science that has won so many awards over the years is maintained at their higher resolutions. Other updates include higher usable sensitivity with lower noise, new internal ND filters, improved timecode and audio connectivity, two built-in microphones, and a brand spanking new Viewfinder – the MVF-2 HD OLED EVF. 

This new model has a 4” flip out monitor, and a newer flexible cable to cut down on wear and tear. The camera is packed full of small improvements which really proves that ARRI listens to their users and is always tweaking their designs to best serve their customers. It gives every camera they make a sense of true professionalism. 

The big draw, of course, is the full frame image. There’s something I’ve always loved about the field of view you get when shooting full frame — there’s just something about it. Perhaps it comes from years of taking still photos, or maybe my early career shooting with the 5D (MK II, so you know I’ve got that OG DSLR street cred. Where my AF100 folks at?) Regardless of why, the full frame immersion paired with the ARRI look is a match made in heaven. I very much look forward to seeing some of the amazing films and content produced with this camera — it’s a game changer, and a full frame monster.

Missed the ARRI ALEXA LF and Mini LF along with Signature Primes and accessories at our September Pub Night?  Click here for event photos.

– Alex Enman, Engineer

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Optical Support Jackal Rickshaw is the Perfect Tool

Ahhh… dreams do come true! The Jackal by Optical Support is the perfect tool for our clients and our local production market. From the easy travel case to the quick adjusting wheel base, the Jackal has it all and more.

Rickshaws have been on film sets for many years now and come in all shapes and sizes. We do a large amount of Flowcine Black Arm work at the shop, and the team at Optical Support jumped on the opportunity to help us combine both worlds.

We are very excited for our clients to take the Jackal for a spin. It’s ready for any Handheld, Easyrig, MoVI, Ronin, Steadicam, and Black Arm jobs you may have. And, if you rent the Jackal in September, you’ll get 25% off the regular rate. Click here to learn more or contact rentals@rule.com or 800-rule-com.

-Dylan Law, QC/Logistics & MoVI Tech

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Roll into Fall with 25% Off the Jackal Portable Camera Rickshaw

Rent the Jackal Portable Camera Rickshaw at 25% off in September!

The Jackal rickshaw from Optical Support is a lightweight, portable camera rickshaw that’s perfect for gimbal, handheld and Steadicam use.

With a jockey wheel for precision tracking and two wheel fast mode, an extending axle for stability, adjustable footrests, camera accessory mount for mounting stabilizer systems, and a compact design that allows for quick packing into one handy case — you can rent it all-month-long at 25% off!

Click here for our Jackal product page and here for our fancy flyer! The Jackal rents for $225/day LESS 25% discount in September. Watch our video motion test with the Jackal below and read Dylan Law’s blog post on the Jackal here.

 

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The New Feature-Rich Cinevate Horizen Sliders

(UPDATE! Rent a variety of our Sliders + Jibs — including the Cinevate Sliders — at 25% in March! Click here for details.)

You cannot reinvent the wheel, but Cinevate tried to do just that with the new Horizen Slider series. Cinevate states “We combined your feedback with our 13 years of manufacturing expertise to create our most intensively designed product, ever.”

At first I was skeptical because what can you really modify on a slider to make that much of a drastic change? I soon found out — a lot. The major feature that separates this slider from any other is the newly designed adjustable resistance control. This system actually runs off of a magnet which creates a completely silent, fluidic operation.

When first using the Horizen I noticed this right away. My biggest problem with sliders is adjusting the tension because you can never get it just right. The camera never seems to glide seamlessly unless you are controlling the slider with a motion controller, which can be easily integrated when using this slider. Since the resistance control is now magnetic, you will never have to deal with this problem again.

Besides being the best feeling slider I have used, the Horizen comes with a whole bunch of other awesome features. It natively supports both 100mm and 75mm ball heads. It also has multiple ways to mount it, whether it be on a tripod with its new center mount or with two stands on both sides. If you want to ditch the stands and go lightweight, there are quick-stow, all-terrain legs that come attached with it. This slider is also filled with a ton of mounting options for accessories like monitors.

With a payload of 100 pounds and the option of 3 or 5 feet, the Cinevate Horizen slider is ready for whatever your situation may call for. Click here for product details on the 3-foot slider and here for the 5-foot slider — both are available to rent. See what you think and let us know.

-Alex Lopez, Quality Control Technician

 

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LiteMat+ Plus 8: Large, Soft, and Light

LiteGear has taken a stronghold in our rental inventory and the LiteMat+ Plus 8 is a great new option for any job. LiteGear stands out with their low-profile design and incredibly soft and color-accurate light. Mounting their products is a dream come true for any DP/gaffer/grip. The LiteMat+ Plus 8 has all these features and packs a serious punch when it comes to output.

The form factor of this light makes for a great, large source and minimizes the amount of lights you may need for your setup. I had a chance to work with the +8 the other day and it was the perfect fixture for the job. It was as easy as putting on the SnapGrid and tossing the light up into the ceiling.

If you’re a fan of LiteGear or interested in trying a new light with a large source — this is the one!

Dylan Law, QC/Logistics & MoVI Tech
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Meet the Extraordinary Zeiss Otus Lenses

What does the perfect lens look like? Is there even such a thing? We have a lot of philosophical lens conversations here at Rule. We’ve always had an affinity for vintage glass, and all the gritty imperfections that come with them. There are, however, plenty of shooting scenarios where a vintage look isn’t appropriate. Those modern, cutting edge, sharp-as-a-tack shoots. We’ve always had sharp glass, but the Zeiss Otus Primes (avail in 28mm, 55mm, 85mm) are a cut above.

As we work within the film and photography world when it comes to glass, there has always been a clear division between the two. Lenses that were very sharp, but not suited for on set use. Lenses that were geared and friendly for all our film accessories, but weren’t really that crisp — and if they could be both, they were pretty pricey. In this way, the Zeiss Otus series is a bridge between worlds. An expensive stills lens, and an affordable cine lens. Whichever way you decide to group them, the fact of the matter remains – this is extraordinary glass. 

The Zeiss Otus series was designed over a 3-year period, deep in the underground Zeiss bunker — somewhere, I assume, in the Alps. Zeiss made one thing clear upon announcing their new “affordable” lenses — they would not be compromising quality, in any regard. Did you know there are 6 elements in the construction of these lenses that are more valuable than gold? Vibranium unconfirmed. The body is a beautiful machined metal, and the overall feeling one has when shooting with them is a profound sense of modernity. These are the lenses of right now, and they’re great. 

Using these, I’ve found myself saying things like “Wow, the GH5 looks great!” “Wow, this FS7 looks great!” It took a second to realize that this lens is just a very nice addition to any camera. We can get into the weeds all day long about sensors, debayer patterns, relative sharpness, crispening — but at the end of the day, it comes down to the thing you put on the front of the camera. They are, on one hand, larger than every stills lens I’ve ever used or even heard of, which can be a bit of a bummer for compact shooters. They are no bigger than a Canon 24-70, though, and the weight trade-off is certainly warranted. Speed is also a consideration, as our 28mm, 55mm, and 85mm are all f1.4. While some lenses can achieve an f1.2, I find that to be an aperture I seldom use. I’ll trade a stop for the improved performance, no questions asked. 

In addition to freakish clarity, the Otus primes handle chromatic aberration with ease. Edges I found ringed with purple with my Canon L series glass were made pure and clean with the Otus. Even the edges of frame are well-defined and are not only very sharp, but match the sharpness of the entire frame. They are extremely reliable in their projected image, and certainly deliver on the promise Zeiss made — they’re the new standard. 

For me, I’m finding them to perform as a budget-friendly option to the Zeiss Supremes – and that’s an enormous credential to boast. So, if you’re looking for the Lens of The Future (or, perhaps, today), give rentals a call (or click here to email), and come check these things out!

– Alex Enman, Engineer