The Case for Field Monitors

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I’m a convert.

Not to any particular religion, but instead to the idea that a field monitor is the most important piece of equipment you can have on a video shoot after the camera, a lens and some kind of support.

This represents a sea change in my worldview. As a still photographer for decades, until recently I thought the bane of my video production existence was audio. But a Zoom H4n, a shotgun, a couple of lavs and a wireless system later, I’ve changed my mind.

And that’s because while I took for granted my ability to obtain tack-sharp focus every time, I’ve learned the hard way once again that assumptions are the mother of all screw-ups.

Turns out it was easier to focus in the good old days of film, manual lenses, split image rangefinders, and coarse microprisms on ground glass than it is today through on-board electronic viewfinders (EVFs) and LCDs.

There’s a reason why third party EVF’s and monitors are so popular.

I recently had the opportunity to review a 7.7” diagonal field monitor, and it was a revelation (no religious undercurrent intended).

Why?

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Is Depth Of Field Affected By Focal Length? A Practical Test

The fact that the depth of field varies depending on focal length seems pretty straightforward, doesn’t it? Matt Granger however says that wide angle lenses don’t necessarily have a smaller depth of field when compared to longer telephoto lenses:

To understand any of this, you have to know what depth of field is: (Yes, this is very basic) Depth of field is basically the depth of your image that is in sharp focus, it is usually about 1/3 in front of your focus and 2/3 behind it.

In his video, Matt conducts a test to prove his point: He takes the same shot with the same framing and only changes the focal length and the position of the camera. The aperture was kept the same – f/2.8 – throughout the shoot. Of course when changing the focal length of your lens you’ll have to physically move the camera if you want your final result to have the same crop.

Here are the results:

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The Westcott Eyelighter Will Give Wonderful Eyes. In Camera

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One of the holy grails of beauty retouching is perfect eyes. Actually, getting good lighting on the eyes would probably be one of the first things you would lean in a beauty retouching workshop, maybe after perfecting skin. One of the “secrets” to getting good light on the eyes is getting a slight moon-shaped highlight on the bottom of the eye. Dave Piper covered that a while back on his eye’s retouching tutorial, but what if you wanted to get this in camera?

I just stumbled upon this great lighting modifier over at Neil van Niekerk’s Tangents blog. It is called the The Eyelighter and only does one thing, but it does it well: It provides a light that gives an arched reflection in the eye.

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“COOPH Apparel”: Clothing That’s specifically designed For Photographers

There are many photography- related products and accessories out there but what COOPH announced today is something special that hasn’t been there before (at least not in my knowledge): Clothes that were specifically designed for photographers. Yes, you read that right, now you can get yourself a beanie with a pocked that’s dedicated to hold a lens cap or perhaps a shirt with an integrated lens cleaning cloth?

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Accepted Model Release Mobile Apps for Stock Photography

If you are a stock photography shooter, or if you are currently building your collection with the intention of getting into stock photography – model releases and property releases are a critical part of your workflow.

Model release mobile apps make it much easier to obtain and manage your releases – but to make sure that your images are accepted into a stock photography collection, it is important to use model release and property release apps that are approved by stock agencies.

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In this article, I will share all of the model release mobile apps for stock photography that are currently approved by Getty Images – one of the worlds largest stock photography agencies.

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Elinchrom’s New ELC Pro HD Strobes (And Richard Terborg Getting Poked)

We saw many new flashes in Photokina, one of the units that we thought was worth mentioning are the new ELC Pro HD units. We talked with Richard Terborg, Elinchrom Ambassador, to get the inside on those strobes.

They come in two flavors: 500WS and 1000WS, both in a new streamlined body. The strobes are pretty much what you have come to expect of mid-range strobes but they do have some interesting features worth considering:

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How Many Hot-Shoe Strobes Are In A Monoblock?

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This is an interesting question. On the Red corner we have hot shoe strobes: they are (relatively) cheap, small and portable and recycle pretty fast, but they need lots of AA batteries. On the Blue corner we have monoblocks; They are big and more cumbersome but they give A LOT of light.

So whats the trade off, when are you better getting several small hot shoe strobes and when are you better off using one big light? This is not a trivial question to answer especially since hot shoe strobes measure in GN, while monoblocks measure in Watt-seconds. now with TTL monoblocks this becomes a really interesting question.

Neil van Niekerk did an empirical test trying to answer that question. His comparison addresses the power aspect while leaving convenience, price, light shape and modularity out, but even at that it gives a good idea about how to begin dealing with the trade offs involved.

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Yongnuo’s YN600EX-RT Now Selling, Looks Remarkably Similar To Canon’s 600EX-RT Flagship

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Earlier in august this year Hong-Kong based company YongNuo announced that they are releasing the YN600EX-RT – A Canon compatible strobe.

Some Canonistas, especially off camera flashers (AKA strobists) were pretty excited about this announcement. Mostly because the strobe was said to be compatible with Canon’s new 2.4GHz RT radio system that their 600EX-RT strobe features.  The RT is a pretty awesome TTL triggering and strobe control system working on radio rather then on IR. But, Canon’s strobe sells for about $499 while the new Yongnuo which appeared on eBay today only sells for about $185. Roughly a 1:3 ratio.

DIYP are the last to be blamed with lack of frugality, but looking at the images that popped up on YongNuo’s sites got me thinking. Look at the two photos on the top. See any resemblance (aside the obviousness of the names). The strobe on the left is Canon’s 600EX-RT flagship, and the right one is the new YN600EX-RT.

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The GaffGun Straighten, Tapes and Secures Cables In Seconds

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If you ever had a set with lots of cables you know how important it is to have them all secured. Even with the best insurance plan you really don’t want anyone stumbling over one of the ‘bumps’. In the ‘good’ scenario, they will stumble curse a little and continue, in the medium scenario they will fall. And in the worse scenario they will take down your $20,000 lights.

So what do you do? You get down on your hands and knees gaff like crazy. Sadly, Gaffing a cable to the floor, while classified as grantwork, is not an easy task. It involves tapping small bits of gaff on the cable and then going back and reapplying gaff to the whole thing.

And this is what the GaffGun is here to solve. The GaffGun is somewhat of a packaging tape dispenser on steroids. You drop a Gaffer roll in the thing and simply roll it on the floor. It has rails to guide the cables and securely gaff them to the floor. This means that it is almost trivial to run cables in a straight line.

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