Super Fast m4/3 Optic
Noktor 50mm f/0.95 

Noktor calls this lens a “Hyperprime.” When Stanley Kubric needed a lens this fast to shoot a scene in Eyes Wide Shut, he had to borrow it from NASA, but now you can leave the astronauts’ toys alone and get one for yourself for $750. Providing you have the 4/3 body to marry it to.

What this means in HDSLR terms is exactly what it meant to Stan. Candlelight dances, birthday cake overexposures and cats’ eye performance. 

We hope the chartreuse ring is just for show pre-production, since it could play havoc with a reflection from a clear filter. Just saying.

Interesting notes here.

8 elements in 7 groups. M4/3 mount. Delivering April 15. Price $750 preorder.

Super Wide Optic
Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 
2/22/10   Updated 4/15/10

HDSLR wide lenses have tended to be luke warm instead of being ultra-wide-angle. Canon’s 10-22mm zoom is about equal to Nikon’s 10-24mm wide zoom, but as of now Sigma’s 8-16mm rectilinear zoom takes the front row seat.

Sure, there are wider fisheye lenses, notably Nikon’s 10.5mm, corner to corner DX prime, and it’s a great lens by any measure, but until today, the widest angle HDSLR view in a rectilinear wide lens was the 109° field of view, corner-to-corner that Nikon or Tamron’s 10mm setting could deliver to a Nikon DX format image chip.

The Sigma at 8mm sees 121+°, corner-to-corner.

15 elements in 11 groups. All popular mounts. Delivering April/May. Price announced 4/15/10- $1200 US. 
Read about it from Sigma, directly.

Accessory of the year (2009)

Steadicam Merlin
Manufactured by The Tiffen Company

Perfectly suited to work with 1-5 lb (1-2.3 kg) HDSLR body + lens combinations, the $850 (MSRP) Steadicam Merlin smoothes out hand-held shooting while adding less than a pound (0.4 kg) to the camera supported weight. 

It can be supported by arm strength or with a body vest ($1600 US) and will hold cameras up to 7.5 lbs (3.5 kg). The full rig, $2450 US, can be used continuously for long periods of time. With a Canon 7D or Nikon D90 mounted, our personal experience is that over two hours of shooting, taking a short break, shooting again is fairly easy.

Steadicam Merlins work through the principle of balance and momentum, as do all Steadicams, balancing the combined weight of camera and rig a small fraction of an inch above a supremely low-drag six-way gimbal. The thing that looks like a ball above the handle in the image at right.

As your hand moves, the camera is disconnected from all wiggles, directionality, twisting and upset. When people try it for the first time, their eyebrows shoot up, because the sensation is both unexpected and completely intuitive. 

You hear a lot of “Oh! So THAT’s what it is!” Most people have a different mental picture of it in mind that it instantly transcends.

A set of weights attach to the balance arm and a base with numerous mount points clips to the top of the Merlin rig, and/or to a mounting plate attached to the top of a tripod. In practice, this gives you a quick-disconnect system to move gracefully between flying and tripod modes.

Originally designed to accommodate video and small-footprint HD camcorders, the Merlin is perhaps designer Garrett Brown’s most elegant achievement. It follows his original low-mass stabilizer, the Steadicam JR which appeared back in the 1980s and continues to be sold for around $800 MSRP. The JR has a high-brightness video screen and works with cameras in the 2-4 lb range.

The Reflections loop on our Home page could not have been made without it.

Accessories We Want


Before I became aware of this product, I wished for it. The details between wish and reality were surprisingly close. A three-wheeled flat camera mount for tabletop use. 

In every detail between dream and functioning product the Omni-Tracker is greatly improved over my musings. The wheels are elastomer (high tech plastic) rolling in ABEC 7 bearings (no drag) and pivot in circular, lockable hubs. 

It dollies cameras up to 45 lbs on any flat, smooth surface. Operative word: Any. Suddenly the world becomes a series of planes, ramps, table tops, surfaces and strata, ripe for exploitation.

Tip: For rough surfaces, protect the wheels with a layer of removable tape. You’ll have to get the circumferential match exactly right to avoid bumps, though.

The wheels can be aligned or twisted to cause the dolly motion to follow straight or curved paths. Fine adjustment allows you to create a “focused” move that keeps the camera pointed at a distant pivot point. In practice, a focused dolly move orbits a subject, keeping focus distance constant while appearing quite a bit more visually interesting.

The current model is the Slim-Line Pro ($895 US) and will mount any tripod head with a 3/8-16 thread. The surface of the SLP has mounting points for additional accessories.


Click on images to link.

Latest additions 2/6/12

hdslr 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.




Light Lights


One of the great benefits of shooting with an HDSLR stems from its DSLR heritage of accessories. There are professional light panels with LED light sources made for motion picture production, and you can spend every penny in your lighting budget on them, and do good work with them.

Then again, there are the Gadget.Brando.Com offerings that will double (or more) your output per dollar spent. Illustrated above is a cordless unit with 126 LEDs in a 10 x 13 array, minus the extreme corner four lights. It delivers 5400K light and comes with diffuser and 3200K filter. Conveniently, it attaches to your HDSLR camera via the hot shoe, but the articulated arm allows it to be taped virtually anywhere. Power is through 6 AA cells or by snapping in a Sony NP-series rechargeable battery.

Three similar models are available. the 126 LED version for $65, the 160 LED version for $86 and a 183 LED set with dimmer and rechargeable 3-hour battery plus universal charger complete for $160. The light head on the largest is 15 x 14 x 6 cm (6 x 5.5 x 4 inches).

A tiny variation with a mounting clip is available from Gadget.Brando with 76 LEDs for small object or Obie light use (close up fill to compensate for camera shadowing). It costs just $39.  A 70 LED variant with built-in rechargeable battery, charger and reflective barn doors costs $59.

But there is one more trick up Gadget.Brando’s sleeve, a modular LED panel that contains 60 LEDs in a frame that clips to other identical frames so you can build panels left + right and up + down with exotic shapes and sizes. Each unit is self-powered, rechargeable and comes with its own universal charger for $72.

Hmm. That means an array 3 x 3 would cost $648 while a 5 x 3 would set me back about $1080. A 2 x 2 plus a 1 x 2 plus a single (7 units) would give me a portable key light, a half-power fill and a back light for on the go shoots for just $504, and it would travel flat in my pack.

Just. One. More. Thing.

If you have never shot with a ring light, you don’t know what you have missed.

The one from Gadget.Brando is a full circle of 48 LEDs with a shooting range of around a meter when used as the primary light source. It’s made for large-diameter objectives up to 67mm diameter and comes with step up rings for lenses as small as 49mm in diameter.

A Ring Light casts no directional shadow. But this one can switch off the left or right half of the ring to provide a model-light effect on close ups.

Perfect for certain portrait lighting effects, the LED Ring, AC power supply, six step-up adapter rings and battery box (2 x AA) is just $58. Yes, you could rotate it on the front of your lens and obtain a split lighting with top/bottom light.

Plus one last thing. Gadget.Brando.Com charges only $3 to ship any order. From Hong Kong.

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