Blog

A Pancake Lens for Pancake Day?

A Pancake Lens for Pancake Day?

It’s pancake day! And, to enter into the spirit of this most gluttonous of holidays, we’re asking how you like your pancakes…

A conformist sugar and lemon?
A radical banana and maple syrup?
A down right anarchic Nutella and whipped cream??

Well, here at Spectrecom Studios we’re partial to a slightly unorthodox pancake combo of zoom, aperture and focal length…

Yep, you guessed it – we’re talking about the pancake lens.

The pancake lens is the perfect starter lens for a camera rookie looking to expand their skill set. Admittedly it does look a little unimpressive but, as we regularly reassure our camera boys, size isn’t everything. The shorter lens is a lot lighter than standard kit lenses and is great for balance, allowing you to focus better in close up photography and footage.

The Canon 40mm pancake lens is simple to manufacture because, unlike a standard zoom, which is comprised of 10-20 elements, this lens only has six elements. In Layman’s terms, you can achieve a high image quality for a much lower cost.

Unfortunately you can’t consume this particular pancake in place of every meal for the next 24 hours… nor is it advisable to pour condiments all over it… BUT we still like to think it’s worth celebrating this Shrove Tuesday.

Take a look at the Kit/Camera’s we have available here at Spectrecom Studios.

Kit Room Review: External Video Recorders

Kit Room Review: External Video Recorders

Over the last few years, external video recorders have become common in many video production shoots. Its original purpose was to bypass the internal memory of a camera; providing a less compressed video signal, which in turn makes footage cleaner and easier to grade. In Layman’s terms, by plugging a small box into your camera, you can achieve a superior broadcast quality video recording.

Even though most new video cameras now record in a high bitrate and broadcast spec video codec; one can not deny that the benefits of an external recorder are multifaceted.

Uses of an External Recorder

1) Back Up

An external recorder gives you an additional backup, recorded simultaneously with the camera’s inbuilt recording.

2) Awkward Recording

An external recorder is great when the camera is mounted in an awkward location, i.e. on the end of a jib, mounted on the ceiling, or on a car rig.

3) Edit Ready

An external recorder will ensure that all your footage ends up in the same post-production friendly, desired codec (like ProRes), ready for edit. This means if you’re shooting a large multi-cam event, it will save a considerable amount of time, saving all footage on the external recorder. Trust us, your editor will thank you!

All three of the recorders we offer, can record directly to a ProRes format.

4) Multi-cam Events

An external recorder can be used much like a video deck when shooting multi-cam events. You can record your program feed out of a vision mixer; or go the whole hog and have many recorders to record all your camera feeds independently too, all from the gallery.

5) Recording for Long Periods of Time

Most recorders can take large SSDs or hard drives, proving useful when recording for lengthy periods, like live music performances. Here at Spectrecom, we have used one of our recorders for a 48 hour live broadcast for Skittles, and a 12 hour broadcast for Kenco.

Spectrecom Studio’s offer three different recorders:

  • Convergent Design Oddessey 7Q

This brand new, high end recorder is useful for recording 4k ProRes or 4k raw as well as HD. Perfect for getting the best from an Arri Alexa, and recording raw from a Canon C500, Sony F55, F5, FS7 or FS700. The Odyssey is also a superb monitor in it’s own right, so can also be used as a directors monitor.

  • Atomos Samurai

This is a compact HD SDI recorder, this can record in either ProRes or DNXHD format. A recent firmware update gives the Samurai’s monitor some extra functionality such as screen overlays like peaking, false colour and zebras – very useful for helping judge exposure and focus. We’ve had ours for several years now, and we’ve used it on all kinds of projects – from documentary work in Spain, to recording in our studios.

  • Atomos Ninja Star

This brand new recorder, is the smallest, lightest HD ProRes recorder available. Perfect if you don’t want a large recorder getting in the way on a shoot. It’s so light you could even use this on a drone, to record high quality ProRes straight from a GoPro. One drawback of the Ninja Star’s size is that it lacks a monitor – but the lack of monitor means it’s batteries last an exceptionally long time. As it’s a HDMI recorder, we can also supply a Atomos connect SDI to HDMI converter, which tucks neatly on the back, if you wish to use this with an SDI signal instead. We’re impressed by this little device – with clear and easy to use controls, it makes a great recorder. This is the perfect recorder for making a camera like the C100 broadcast spec.

So whether you need a high end 4k RAW recorder, or a small, compact HD recorder to tuck on your camera, we’ve got the right tool for your shoot.

 

Written by Salome Williams. Salome is currently in her first week of work experience here at Spectrecom Studios. If you would like to apply for a work placement please email workexperience@spectrecom.co.uk. Please note you must be over 18 and need to be studying in the field of Film/TV.

Kit Room Review: Sound Kits

Kit Room Review: Sound Kits

It’s all too easy, when compiling a well-stocked kit room, to forget about audio equipment. While a bad image can be re-shot or replaced with better footage, a badly recorded interview or piece to camera is much harder to rescue, which is why, at Spectrecom, we like to make sure our stash of sound equipment is up to date and fit for purpose.

Sennheiser MKE 600

With this in mind, we recently purchased two Sennheiser MKE 600 shotgun microphones. These are the type of microphones you would find on the end of a boom pole but are just as useful for recording live music, or interviews.
Sennheiser are widely regarded as the industry standard when it comes to microphones and we wouldn’t be surprised if this new mic replaced the ever-present Sennheiser 416 as the microphone of choice on set (not only is it cheaper, it also has better sound response – what’s not to like?).

Sony ECM-77B Lavalier Microphone

As well as the two Sennheisers, we’ve also bought a couple of Sony ECM-77B Lavalier Microphones. These ‘tie clip’ microphones are used to capture contributor audio when you can’t have a boom mic in shot. Unlike radio mics, they’re wired, which means they’re perfect for studio use (particularly panel shows) or static interviews.

As well as the new mics, we’ve also treated ourselves to a couple of new boom poles and some Rhode blimp V2s to encase the microphones (that’s the wind shield you see around the mic on a boom). We spoil ourselves!

NB: Rhode (a camera accessory maker) has come on leaps and bounds in the last few years and we’ve been really impressed with its new blimp V2 – exceptionally well made and easy to use, its a big improvement on the old design, with everything constructed to be ‘quick release’ – meaning no tools are needed to adjust the blimp on set.

If you’d like to know more about our kit room offerings, or would like to make use of our expertise on a shoot or project, contact us today and we’d be happy to help.

Kit Room Review: Zeiss ZF.2 Prime Lenses

Kit Room Review: Zeiss ZF.2 Prime Lenses

Here at Spectrecom, we understand that lenses are just as important as cameras when it comes to getting the best possible production value from a shoot.

Now that large sensor cameras are in common use for TV, film and corporate video production, prime lenses have become the popular choice amongst DPs and camera operators, as they offer better low light performance, cleaner and sharper images, and produce a more cinematic style of image.

With this in mind, we recently purchased our own set of Zeiss ZF.2 prime lenses.

The Zeiss lenses are incredibly sharp, suitable for HD and 4K filming. They are solidly made (metal construction), with the sort of superb engineering that is usually reserved for pricey cine-style lenses – these fully manual Zeiss lenses also have a very smooth focus ring, which helps make your focus pulls even more accurate and easy to repeat – which is a welcome time-saver on set.

These lenses are all colour matched, and optically match the Zeiss CP2 lenses, which we also have available for hire.

Our Zeiss ZF2 prime lens kit includes 6 lenses and all the common focal lengths. We’ve compiled a set that is far broader than those offered by most rental companies and we include an extremely wide lens, as well as the longest lens in the series. This means the set is usable for any type of shoot with almost any shot requirements.

We highly recommended using these lenses with our C300, our new C100, our Sony FS700, and our Sony FS7.

Contact us today for more information and rates of hire.

Further information:

Lenses include:
15mm f2.8, 25mm f2.8, 35mm f1.4, 50mm f1.4, 85mm f2, 135mm f2

The kit comes ready to use in a custom peli flight case, and each lens has Canon EF adapters pre-installed on the back of each lens, so they can be used on a large variety of cameras – Canons, Sonys, or even Arri’s Alexa & Amira and Red camera (if supplied with a canon mount).

Spectrecom Studios – Kit Room Reviews: Canon C100

Spectrecom Studios – Kit Room Reviews: Canon C100

The Canon C100

While 4k technology is spreading like wild fire, there is, undoubtedly, still a need for great quality, cost effective HD video production.

For most productions 4k is not only too costly, but also somewhat superfluous when the majority of clients are not yet using 4k computer or tv screens…

Enter stage right, our brand spanking new camera, the Canon C100.

The younger, better-looking brother of the Canon C300, this small, compact, HD camera is, perhaps, most popular for its ability to take a wide variety of Canon photography lenses, making it both versatile and more cost effective – Great for studio or location work.

With a fantastic HD output and the same image sensor as the C300, this new camera is producing stunning image quality whilst maintaining a large sensor ‘cinematic style’ aesthetic.

It’s great in low light, its lightweight body is perfectly suited to jib or crane work and it records into a highly efficient video codec, meaning file sizes are kept down and, as a result, more material can be captured.

If you haven’t guessed by now, we’re pretty big fans…

Our Spectrecom C100 camera comes as a kit, with a Zacuto baseplate, 15mm rods, shoulder mount, LCD loupe, batteries, cards, card reader, as well as two zoom lenses – a Canon 17-55mm lens and a canon 70-200mm lens.

And, if you’re looking for other lens options, we have a wide variety of prime lens kits available for hire, as well as matte boxes and monitors.

To conclude, we like this camera because it produces great image quality in a compact body and offers a fantastically cost effective alternative to the C300.

All hail the Canon C100.

Kit Room Reviews – DJI Ronin

Kit Room Reviews – DJI Ronin

In this new series of blog posts we will be introducing you to some of the newest additions to our kit room and compiling a selection of reviews from various sources to give you a complete overview of the newest filming equipment on the market.

First up is the newest innovation in camera stabilisation technology…

The DJI Ronin

The Ronin 3-Axis Stabilised Handheld Gimbal System (catchy…) is DJI’s first handheld gimbal to support cameras of both mid and relatively high weight.

This essentially means that a camera can be moved fluidly around a space, handheld, whilst maintaining near-perfect stability.

Although this is not a new concept, with the steadicam having been around for some time, the Ronin offers electronic stabilisation over mechanical which allows for multiple person control and unbeatable precision.

For us, the benefits of the Ronin are endless. Timesaving aside (once the camera is configured, the Ronin can be ready to shoot in as little as five minutes), the dynamic qualities and production value achieved by using the Ronin are unsurpassable and the extra movement that can be achieved will revolutionise both studio and external shoots.

This new demand for smooth, single shot movement follows an evolutionary development from cinematic, slow shots made possible by portable slider technology, through to a recent resurgence in the ‘on-the-shoulder’ style of film-making, popularised by directors such as Darren Aronofsky. Now the trend is falling towards a more dynamic style of shot, and the fluid motion of the handheld gimbal is flavour of the month

Most recently, the technique has been used to great effect in the new Alejandro Iñárritu film ‘Birdman’.

The system can be used with various cameras including the C100, C300 and the FS700 – all of which we supply in-house so if you would like to use any of the equipment listed above for your shoot, contact us today for more information.

See the DJI Ronin in action in this short film…