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Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens review

I have owned the 100mm Macro IS for approximately a month now and have used it mostly for nature video and still work. Although this lens is labeled and intended for Macro work it is a fully functional 100mm lens for telephoto use as well. The lens features Canon’s new Hybrid image stabilization which provides 4stops of stabilization correction which allows for hand held work were normally only a tripod would do. The lens is an L series but unlike most is made of a durable black plastic instead of a metal body. Do not let this fool you as the lens is very durable and I think it might be used on future lenses because of its weight, thermal properties, and for cost. The lens still features a weather sealed ring to mate up with your 5DMKII, 1DMKIV, or 7D. Another great feature of this lens is that it has life-size close-up capabilities, something that would require the life-size adapter in the past with other macro lenses. The fast 2.8 aperture is great for documentary work and in the field where bringing in additional light may not be an option. The aperture features 9 blades in a circular pattern that provides a consistent bokeh. The lens features a three position focus limiter to allow for quick AF if you are not in manual mode. Reducing the range of focus that the lens has to hunt for makes the USM work within a split second to achieve subject focus, which can save your shot. I sometimes find myself using this feature and once I am within range switching over to manual focus. A great feature of this macro lens is adding the 2x extender which then gives you 200mm but retains the minimum focus distance. I used this last weekend to shoot macro footage of a Praying Mantis eating an aphid for a project I am working on. I knew I needed to be within 8 inches of the subject to achieve the framing I wanted but the 2x extender made it happen without sacrifice. Because the lens is fast at 2.8 the lose of a stop was still well within the perimeters of the light that was available. For video use the 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM is well matched in color and consistency to the typical lenses used. I found it matched nicely with the 16-35, 24-70, 70-200. Some post correction was required when inter-cutting with the 85mm 1.2, and the 600mm but overall it was minimal. This is a still taken with the 100mm f/2.8L Maco IS USM lens at Lake Fairlee Vermont dusk, wide open 2.8 ISO 200 from a deck approx 100meters from the waters edge. Using the lens as a telephoto instead of a macro. 1″ Tree Frog taken with same lens but using it as a Macro instead of telephoto mode. Overall I think if you require a macro lens the 100mm f/2.8L IS USM is the route to go over the 50, 60, 65 and the 180. Canon only has two L series macros, the 100mm and the 180mm, but the 180mm is f/3.5, does not feature IS, requires a tripod and is much heavier than the 100mm. It is a great lens to have in your kit and I recommend you test one out when you have the chance as I have found myself using the lens as my standard 100mm tele for non-macro use. Michael Sutton Senior Account Manager Twitter: @MNS1974

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Grandpa Rule sees the Future

There is a lot of family lore about my grandfather, John T Rule II, who was an author and Professor of Mathematics at MIT and Dean of Students between 1956 and 1961. He was good friends with Dr. Edwin Land (the founder of Polaroid) and in fact, together during World War II they invented the first 3D bomb-sighting mechanism which greatly improved the Allies’ reconnaissance and bombing efficacy. And this is the really interesting part: Earlier, in 1939, Grandpa and Dr. Land had collaborated on the very first commercial use of polarized 3D when they created the “In Tune With Tomorrow” film for the Chrysler Pavilion at the 1939 Worlds Fair (mentioned here as the no. 9 milestone in 3D Movie history). So as I was researching this subject, I stumbled across this piece that he wrote for the October 1953 edition of the Atlantic, actually posted on the Internet! In it, he discusses the then current state of the nascent 3D industry, decrying it’s tendency towards sensationalistic gimmickry, and cautioning that badly done 3D would negatively impact the box office. He advises that 3D done artistically and in service to the creative goals of the Director will create an experience unmatchable by home televisions, thus stopping the theater industry’s steady drop in customers. Wow. People say that the more things change, the more they stay the same…it’s hard to believe that he wrote this 57 years ago. My favorite part of this article is at the end where he proposes that feature films should be released first on TV with Pay-per-view before going to theaters! He’s talking about Pay-per-view in 1953! It boggles the mind. John Rule

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Waiting for Alexa

As a rental house, we have supplied the lineage of ARRI cameras for close to 30 years.  The transition from film to digital cinema has introduced many players into the camera production game, but for the most part ARRI has been in the digital shadows with the limited mainstream success of their D-20 and D-21 cameras.  The Alexa is the first ARRI Digital Camera that holds great promise for a wide range of cinematographers and a variety of productions.  Our Rental Department is  very excited about the release of this new camera system, and we anticipate the camera quickly becoming the first choice for commercial as well as feature productions.  Its compact design, light-weight and well-conceived accessories along with its affordable price will serve to make it a versatile tool right out of the box. The Alexa is the ideal camera for both the rental house and the shooter because it takes all of the same lenses and accessories which former ARRI cameras used.  The Super 35mm chip size will afford a level of DOF and Field of View familiar to cinematographers.  The Alexa offers multiple options for recording images.  Commercial productions will be attracted to the camera’s ability to record Quicktime/ProRes files to two onboard SxS cards for an easy post workflow.  The Camera also has the ability to record ARRIRAW files to a third party solid-state recorder which will be an attractive option for features demanding the full potential of the 35mm sensor. We will be receiving our first two cameras hopefully as early as this August (yes, next month!).   We’ll quickly offer them to the rental market and host a session in the Learning Lab to detail the production potential of the camera. Brian Malcolm, General Manager

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13 High-Speed Phantom Cameras Used at 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa…

Eight Vision Research Phantom v640 and five Phantom HD cameras are currently being used in South Africa to shoot the 2010 World Cup Soccer Tournament.  I watched a few games already, and noticed that the slow motion was used very frequently — and not just for replays of the latest goals, shots or fouls, but also to show the audience dancing, singing and enjoying the show.  I  specifically liked the close-up shots of the athletes’ faces in slow motion with muscles rippling under the skin, showing all the effort and emotion and delivering quite a new visual quality… Zbigniew Twarog, Chief Engineer

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Phantom HD Gold at Rule…

…the first high-speed HD camera arrived at Rule yesterday.  With up to 1000 frames and 2K resolution, it’s quite easy to use, especially with laptop and controlling software (although more difficult with on camera controls).  It requires some learning! This camera has firmware v.661.  It is controlled by v.687 of Phantom Camera Control (PCC) software (on laptop) now. The newer software is available – v.689, but we have to make sure, that it works properly. There have been some issues reported.  We’ll keep you posted! Zbigniew Twarog, Chief Engineer

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Hummingbirds with the Canon 5D Mark II

I had brought my Canon 5D MKII along this memorial day weekend in anticipation of taking some set stills, but found myself on a small nature shoot. The subject was two hummingbirds who were hanging around a feeder that was put out. I put a Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L series lens on my camera and had hoped to at least get a few out of focus pictures of these very fast birds. Instead I decided to put the 5DMKII into video mode and the shutter speed at 4000 making the appropriate adjustments to aperture and ISO settings. I waited frozen for a few minutes and then one flew up to the feeder and then banked off into the sky within seconds. I decided to throw the lens into macro mode and go even closer, knowing they would be back for the sugar water to fuel the pace at which they were flying. Within 4″ of the lens the female flew into frame and decided to stay a while completely ignoring me (frozen still with camera). She stayed for over 60 seconds and flew out of frame making for the perfect shot. I had never thought of using the 5DMKII for nature work (video) in the past and this experience made me rethink a few things. I had shot nature footage before with long lenses on my Aaton XTR cameras, and the Arri SR2, etc but it was always a lengthy process and required a lot of gear to make it happen. I had also shot stock footage of turtles, frogs, cranes, and other water animals with XL2’s, SDX900’s, etc but it too wasn’t the same as this experience. Being able to stealthily whip out the 5DMKII and within seconds start shooting hardly seemed like work. Getting to the shutter speed, ISO, F-Stop, and Depth of Field preview all took seconds to accomplish. I highly recommend a follow focus and basic support, as the camera is front heavy with most lenses and hand-holding can become very fatiguing fast (especially the the heavy lens, battery grip, and other accessories). Outside of that setups were a breeze and really allowed for a lot of freedom to rapidly adjust settings. In the future I would definitely bring a Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens and maybe the 185mm f/3.5L Macro USM which would have yielded much better results. A tripod or mono pod couldn’t have hurt either. 😉 Mike Sutton Senior Account Manager Rule Boston Camera 617-227-2200 x 206 sutton@rule.com