Shoulder Mount v1.1

Today I finished some upgrades to my first attempt at a shoulder mount.  This new version includes separate rail-mounted hand-grips (thanks to some mt biker who left his bar-ends in my basement). The grips can be adjusted on the rails, or turned on the rod they are attached to.  They are extremely light weight.

The mount sits on the shoulder, and is adjustable for length, but not height.  It attaches to the rail mount under the camera with a simple wing nut, and can be removed easily, though as you can see in the photos, you can leave it on while it’s on the tripod, and it works fine.  Nearly all parts of this mount are recycled.  The large square pieces of aluminum are cut-offs from my stalled steadicam project.  The tubes are from an old tripod.  The shoulder ‘pad’ is a piece of the old foot rest in my Eskimo Salto kayak may she R.I.P.

Shock mount for boom pole

Shock Mount adaptor

So I finally made the first usefull thing with my new machining skills and tools.  My good friend Aaron sent me a boom pole that he got free for some reason, and finally got around to making an adjustable adaptor to mount my DIY shock-mount on the pole.  The shock mount is 4″ ABS pipe, cut off in the middle, and some elastic shock cord from an old pair of pants.  

The top of the boom pole has a 5/8″ threaded rod poking out of it, so I machined up some 1/2″ aluminum, added a thingy to adjust the angle of the shock mount, and voilla!  I actually made something usefull!  Probably not going to get it anodized, since it’s not exactly fine craftsmanship.  It works though.



Canon 5DMkII makes me want to accept 30P

Seems like Canon will not be coming out with any sort of firmware upgrade to get 24P out of the 5DMkII.  It also seems like RED is pushing back it’s promised deadlines (which they also promised not to stick to, so it’s hard to blame them).  

This makes me really want to think more seriously about the 5DmkII for video.  There are now workarounds for all the main shooting issues (manual f-stop – twist the lens, or use manual nikons, manual ISO with * button to lock it down, manual shutter speed -  They might not be pretty, but they work.  The only real stumbling block is the 30P shooting mode.  If I can just convince myself that the 30P isn’t so bad, then I’d jump on the bandwagon.  The upsides are many- most importantly, big sensor, and great low-light performance.   Now instead of obsessively reading (which replaced my obsessive reading of I can read and other 5D sites.

For run-n-gun documentary work, it looks just amazing- you could get away with just a few lights (or none at all with some natural light), a small audio kit, and you’re good to go.  You could fly a very light stabilizer rig to help with the handling issues-  Here’s some footage from switzerland-  they are just using a hand-held glidecam, it’s not perfect, but it’s not too bad for being so damn portable.

Come on canon, or hackers!  make my day.

Video/Film Sensor Size Chart

After looking these up on wikipedia too many times, I decided to make just one chart that lists all the sensors size of the various DSLR, and video cameras out there, or coming soon.  I actually never understood that Super 35 (s35 on this chart) is the size of regular 35mm movie camera film, and is significantly smaller than full frame 35mm film.  I didn’t even go down below 1/2″ sensor size, because it’s just too depressing to see how small the sensor is on my HVX200.
Sensor Size Chart

Nebtek HD70

After spending a LONG time hemming and hawing, comparing the various options for HD on-camera monitors:

Carrion (amazing picture, great price, but heavy and larger size)
Panasonic (very nice, but equally very expensive)
Marshal 7″ (not bad at all, not very bright, heavy)
Totevision (questionable build quality, so/so picture)
IKAN 8000HD (crap picture, all plastic, very cheap, not really fair comparison)
Varicam/Swit (garbage)

I finally bit the bullet and bought a Nebtek HD70 for on-camera monitoring (and for future use in my yet un-built stabilizer). The picture is AWESOME- heads and toes above the Marshal 7″. It’s bright, and with a hood, works fine even in full sun-shine. They have an edge enhance mode that really makes pulling focus in a 85mm f1.4 nikon a snap. It has underscan, blue gun, bars, and various PAR modes (though I pretty much only use 16:9. There are multiple holes for tripod mount plates, or for other attachment methods, so it should work great on a stabilizer. The power and video i/o are in the back, and can be turned so they point sideways. It runs on 12v, or 7.2v through a smaller connector. It’s got an all metal case, feels quite tough, and has BNCs w/ loop-through. I paid just under $2k for it.

Now the bad-
I got it with the Panasonic battery adaptor (I have an HVX200) and my non-panasonic brand batteries didn’t work until I added a few strips of gaff tape to the battery mount to ensure contact with the electrical connectors. Nebtek said that both the adaptor and the off-brand batteries are made from molds of the panasonic items, and they use those molds far past when they should- thus the parts don’t always fit right. I’m not very happy with that answer, but with the tape it seems to work just fine.

It eats batteries pretty quickly, I’m using 5600mah units, and I get about 2 hours of use out of them. Not so great when they take ages to recharge. So I might be looking into a different battery option. Not sure yet. Price and weight of AB or IDX system is daunting.

Finally, when my camera is in HD mode, if I am WAY overexposing the frame, the monitor will freak out and think there is no video signal. It’s not really a big deal, since you’d never actually shoot with those settings, but it’s annoying when you are setting iris, or moving into a brighter area and you loose your picture till you dial back the iris. I guess I could look at it like a “feature” It’s lake a hard stop for when you blow 100+ IRE. Nebtek support has been good, and is working with me on this, so it’s still unresolved.