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Latest additions 2/6/12

Shooting accessories You will Want

With the growing popularity of HDSLR camera designs, a wide range of accessories have rapidly become available. HDSLR cameras are relatively small and light weight. This has allowed designers to think smaller than is usual for HD and movie cameras.



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Movie Mount for iPad2.

11-26-11


Makayama Media B.V. has created a much-needed accessory for the iPad 2. It’s a shell frame that mounts your iPad2 to any tripod. That’s fine, but it goes further than that.


Two plastic hot shoe seats —one on top, and one at the upper right of the screen— allow you to mount lights, mics or anything that fits.


But the top feature is the easy-to-use converter lens holder, a sliding mount that places any 37mm conversion lens right over the iPad2’s camera.


Click on the image for our extended review of this major new iPad2 accessory.




Major Color Printer Price Update
6-30-11


Scroll down to our Samsung CLP-325W color laser printer review to see the deal currently in place on Buy.com. Link provided. It’s at the bottom of the page.


11-25-11


On Black Friday 2011, these were being sold for $80 at Buy.com. At that price, you would be insane not to buy one. The toner alone costs 1 arm plus half a leg. Meaning: keep your eyes peeled daily. This is being used as a “loss-leader” and shows up from time to time at ridiculous prices.




CineGear Expo Hollywood.

June 3-4, 2011


Every year, Paramount hosts the CineGear show in which every single significant film-making tool in the universe is on display.




Q1A: What were the best things you saw at the show?


Cmocos
(si moe’ cose or “smoke us”).


Best looking. Smartest. Coolest.


An articulated arm that moves a camera through a volume of space. In other words, a motion control head/platform that programs moves, then repeats them endlessly.


What makes it extra cool is that it’s made out of six basic modules, four of which are identical.


You got your base, four 90° arm links and your camera head. Put them all together and hook them to a laptop, and you can program a camera move in several different ways:


  1. 1.Hand-move the camera from here to here to here to here, then play it back. Then edit the move, adding and subtracting tweaks, smoothing and timing adjustments, then run it again and again and again.

    If you’re shooting with a RED Epic (and who isn’t these days?), the data of your move is packaged into the camera’s memory along with the shot.

    Later, that data can be used with a computer graphic or multiple takes can be used to catch different elements for compositing. Tiger, hapless security guard and explosion can all be shot from the same camera move at different times.

  2. 2.Put your camera here: click. Then put your camera there: click. Now run the move from click to click. Simple keyframe programming. The camera moves in a straight line while all the elbow knuckles keep out of its way.

  3. 3.Then you get creative. I leave that up to you. The system is as flexible as the arm. It’s a device that generates ideas rather than limiting them.


The whole arm/pan head weighs about 34 pounds (15 kg) and is precise to about 1/20 of a millimeter. Now when the tiger attacks the guard, causing him to drop the grenade, it all makes sense.




UVS1 Previsualization Window


UVS1 showed a new previsualization device for virtual sets.


It’s a hand-held (think: light weight disconnected steering wheel with a screen where the air bag sits) controller with buttons and knobs that let you  move it in a volume of space while viewing a virtual set in real time. You can do big camera moves, hand-held viewfinding, and shot setups while the whole thing stays accurate to the real world through an overhead optical tracking system.


Why is that important? Well, UVS1 is Universal Virtual Stage One on —where else?— the Universal lot in Hollywood. A HUGE green-screen stage with its own overhead camera-tracking system. As you shoot, you can see the instantly-composited virtual set plus live actors, plus motion-capture actorbots all in a projected, theater-sized HD picture at a “work print” level of fidelity. There’s no question about “getting the shot” or not.


This new position-precise viewfinder lets the DP walk around the stage and set up shots with speed and accuracy, previsualizing the shot as he/she goes. The data is tracked, memorized and played back into the articulated camera head instantly. Whatever the DP found is now captured as a real element.


Off set, the projection screen shows what the final shot will look like in real time. Cut and it’s already work printed, so Next!


Once master shots are grabbed by the camera, full quality renderings can happen at whatever time it takes to do full reality. A lot can be seen in the real-time workprint-level display. It just gets better with the full render.




Tiny 4K camera from JVC


How about a 4K pocket cine camera? When you shoot 4K, the image is twice as wide, twice as tall as HD, meaning four times as much area. Does it make a difference? You betcha.


JVC had a prototype of a coming $5K 4K cam on display, and it was SMALL! This is huge. A good-looking camera that beats the snot out of any film camera? Maybe. And certainly eventually, but probably not with V 1.0, due to show up in about a year. The camera above was playing back the 4K image live.


Still, it was no larger than any fairly small HD cam, and the pictures dropped jaws.


The images (on a 60-inch 4K montor) were amazingly sharp and well-toned. It easily filled my POV compared to the comfort spread of a theatrical projection. You can see every stray hair on the model’s head and she’s not that big in the shot.


Oddly, it holds four SD cards at once, and each records one quadrant of the full image. If one card fails, a quarter of the screen is gone. Bit rate is in the 125K megabit range.




These tools echo the dominant theme of the show. Digital and cinema are the same thing. Digima? Cinital? Cigital? Dinema?


We’ve been “filming” without film for a long while, now, but this year the corner has turned more strongly. There’s no going back. Film; RIP. Besides, the ergonomics of film gear doesn’t really fit with today’s young filmmakers, as Jonah noted at right.


Long live Digima!


The Next Big Thing

Will be quantum computing in which you merely suggest a story direction to the computer and sit back while all possible movies about that subject are generated in real time without the need for writers, actors, cameras, lights, directors or editors. Quantum computers work in multiple universes at the same time.


The hard part will be sorting through the infinity of results for the one special gem that will open big next weekend. Producers will continue to exist, since they bought the computer in the first place.




GoPro Hero HD. REVIEWED!


Sports has its own unique HD cam. The GoPro HD is just $300 in its fullest standard kit, and that includes camera, waterproof crash housing and a bunch of mounting hardware that attaches it to your surfboard, skydiving helmet or race car windshield.


Such a DEAL! But where are the edges?


Where does it sing and where does it croak?


Check the only review we’ve seen that finds them both.




Steadicam® for iPhone?


Smoothee™ from Tiffen turns out to be one of those accessories you won’t want to live without.


If you have an iPhone. Or iPad Touch with a video camera in it.


This turns an iPhone 4 into a credible 720p30 shot-maker. It’s a real Steadicam® brand stabilization platform simplified, light and capable.


UPDATE: Soon to be available for the GoPro Hero cameras. We are working with the prototype even as we speak. Another Must-Have moment from Steadicam.




Your Next Color Printer?

Samsung CLP 325W

2/1/11 UPDATE June 4, 2011

√  micro review.


UPDATE June 30, 2011 with stunning new pricing. Scroll to bottom.


We have always been leery of color printers that claim quality, cost little and promise much. Along the way, we’ve found some gems, only to discover that when the third or tenth month passes, the thing has become nothing but trouble.


If printers were sailboats, you’d say they were a hole in the water into which you poured ink.


And the price of that stuff is right up there with liquid platinum.


I bought a Canon iP2702 at Fry’s last year for $30. Decent printer for general stuff. Makes nice pictures, too. Replacement ink for it costs $35. It came with ink. Something is wrong with the math.


Now Samsung has come up with a new math-challenged color laser printer, and is touting it as delivering great looking glossy photographic prints.


Glossy? I’ve never had a glossy laser printer. Konica-Minlolta had one for $500 in 2005, so did HP for the same bucks. Those could be clones of each other. Even back then the verdict was “Not Quite Inkjet Quality.” I’ve heard no clamor about color quality since. How will that memory hold up to the new Sammy? No glossy paper included to test this idea. We tried it with HP’s greeting card glossy stock. The toner image was matte in contrast with the paper’s gloss. Ug. Printing quality in general still hovers around the “Not Quite Inkjet” mark. With chroma and density build-ups on a page, the limitations of laser printers shows up. Minor banding, inappropriate tonal shifts, gamut limits—all make their appearances to some degree. Some glossy stocks simply refuse to take toner. Experimentation may eat up your time if you have no previous color laser printer experience.


Color Laser Paper from HP costs about $29 for 250 sheets of only slightly weightier stock. Reasonable enough. 100 sheets of their Inkjet glossy is $24 but it’s double weight. Paper for either type of printer seems comparable. 100 sheets of Samsung’s glossy paper is priced at about $22. HP has a ream of killer Laser heavyweight for about $15.


The Samsung CLP 325W is targeted at a $200 price point. That means somebody will sell it for $150 when it debuts. √ exact price from Tiger Direct. $200 at Staples.


Details claimed:
  1. BulletPolymerized Chemical Toner √ if they say so.

  2. Bullet17 pages per minute BW

  3. Bullet4 ppm color √ exactly

  4. Bullet256 MB memory

  5. Bulletwireless operation via WiFi √ No iPad support. Yet.

  6. Bullet130-sheet feeder

  7. Bulletsmall footprint

  8. Bullet23.4 lbs (11 kg)

  9. Bulletblack cart outputs 1500 std letters seems close to real

  10. Bulletcolor carts output c. 1000 pix seems optimistic

  11. Bullettoner is c. $39/each ($150/set?) said Samsung. BS. Actual prices closer to $55/each color and $62 for the larger Black toner. “Starter” toners that come with it are only about 70% of the capacity of replacement cartridges. REPLACEMENT master drums (at the 20,000 print point) are about $120.

       

        Thus, your next wildly optimistic 1000 color prints will set you back about

        $227 in toner alone (23¢ ea.). Since the $150 printer and “starter” cartridges

        with a nice, fresh virgin master drum are, by the same standard, ready, willing

        and able to pump out 700 more images, why replace toner or drum at all?


        I don’t think Samsung has done the math. In a few months, these puppies

        will be out the door for less than that replacement master drum.

UPDATE 6/16/11: Amazon will sell you CMY cartridges for $38 each, $113.50 for all three. Black’s cheapest price is hovering around $43. The set still out-costs the full printer. We shell sea.


  1. Bulletquiet √ Okay, it could have been much louder.

  2. BulletGood looking. √ Cute ish.

  3. Bullet2400 x 600 detail √ Detail is surprisingly good.

  4. BulletMac / Windows / Linux ready. √ Mac use is a piece of cake. No proof of life for Linux.

  5. BulletPlain paper, envelopes, transparencies, card stock. √ Some card stock can be too much for it, causing paper jams. When that happens, you have three optional places to clear the jam. Our first card stock jammed. Seems good for what we would call “lightweight card stock” not the heavier stuff.


Photos from Samsung have included white top and black top versions. The black top looks rather meaner. Do we have a choice? No. In the USA, the 325W is black on black.


Sam’s hype:


  1. One Touch Wi-Fi Setting automatically configures — and protects — your wireless network for you.” Noted earlier. No printing yet for the top wifi-endowed items in my office; the iPhone and iPad. Ahem.


  2. Samsung’s AnyWeb Print software lets you go hunting and gathering on the Web. You can utilize the CLP-325W to easily select, drag, and drop content from different web pages onto a printable scrap board in your browser window, all while you surf the web.” Windows ONLY!


  3. Also, with toner particles that are smaller and more uniform in shape than traditional toner particles, you’ll be impressed with accurate colors and beautiful, glossy printouts. √ Images are finely detailed, well-shaded and clearly reproduce subtle variations of shadow and highlight tonalities. Color gamut seems about 90-95% of inkjet results from same files. Good for photographic proofs and in some cases, finished deliverables.


  1. In Ready Mode, the CLP-325W features a First Page Output Time (FPOT) of only 14 seconds for black and 26 seconds for color, satisfying your need for speed.


  2. Samsung CLP-325W is engineered to be whisper quiet, generating a noise level of just 45 dBA (Color) and 47 dBA (Mono) while it’s printing. That’s less than the gentle hum of a running refrigerator!” √ Well... If I whispered that loud, you could hear me down the hall. That being said, I often hear the refrigerator from down the hall.


  3. Samsung CLP-325W features an easy-to-reach power button right on the control panel, so you can switch to an energy-saving standby mode at the push of a button.” You? Can? Switch? So much for energy savings that lurks within. In reality, it goes to sleep on its own, so you don’t have to follow Samsung’s power-button activity drill.





UPDATE: As of May 1, 2011, our predicted price point has been met.


This is now a $150 printer when you buy it from Amazon, Circuit City, Tiger Direct and others.


Bad news: Samsung customer service is apparently far below standard. We made an inquiry about a problem, so far, no reply, no help, no satisfaction four weeks later. Try their website for yourself here. Samsung, you are no Sony.


Bottom line. The longer we’ve owned it, the better we like it. For most pages and photos, the printer delivers quality results better than most color laser printers. Your cost of printing is going to be $0.21 to $0.25 each color page until the toner is gone. If you replace it, the price per page goes UP, not down. Buying a fresh printer is cheaper than replacing toner. See the note at the bottom of the page.


Of course, that all depends on which cartridge goes flat first. So far, our yellow toner is shrinking quickest, black slowest. If you only get, say, 350 prints out of that ‘starter’ toner set, the cost per page went to about $0.43 per. If you get the full 700 pages, then they were about a quarter each.


We need a consumer protection agency to look into printing. Big time.


Recommendation: Buy it. Especially if you find an equivalent to the deal immediately below.




BIG PRICE UPDATE: Today, June 30, 2011, the CLP-325W is selling for $130 through Buy.com. Here’s the link: http://www.buy.com/prod/samsung-clp-325w-wireless-color-laser-printer/q/loc/101/219379433.html


The price here is for a brand-new printer with basic color cartridges good for c. 700 prints in color and about 1000 sheets of black only.




UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: Now it is August 5th. Buy.com’s price has soared all the way up to $134.99. Five bucks above the “unbelievably” low price seen above. Shipping included.


Newegg.com has it for a flat $133, but charges extra for delivery (UPS 3-day = $2).


My copy of this printer has now been on and printing the occasional full color image for the last 88 days. It’s a winner.




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