Stop motion unboxing of the Aputure AL-MX

Had a great deal of fun making this stop motion film, unboxing the Aputure AL-MX ūüôā This is a great small light useful both for video and photo!

Buy the APUTURE Amaran AL-MX at Amazon here: https://amzn.to/2JU9yIl

Music and sound effects by: Epidemic sound

 

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MITAKON SPEEDMASTER 35MM f/0.95 MK II for photo and video, (Fujifilm X-T2)

Most photographers have one time or another lusted for exotic lenses like the¬†Leica Noctilux-M 50mm f/0.95. But for most people, it stops there. With a price tag of 10.000$, it’s out of most people’s reach.

But you can get the Mitakon 35mm f/0.95 MK II for a fraction of the price, if you own a Fuji X,  Sony E or EOS M mount camera. Shenyang Zhongyi Optical and Electronic Company (ZY Optics) makes this wonderful  lens, with the seldom feature of an f0.95 aperture. The design and look is not so different from the Noctilux either.

The first version of the Mitakon 35mm f/0.95 did not get so high praise in reviews and feedbacks online. But with the MKII version, they have both reduced the size and weight (680g to 460g), and gotten the sharpness wide open up a notch or two.¬†Zhongyi claims on they website that they have¬†improved the image resolution by 30% compared to the previous version, so don’t go looking for the older MK I version if you are on the look for purchasing this lens.

There is also no denying that this is a wonderfully designed lens. I really like the matte black Finish and vintage and robust design. It really matches great with the look of my Fujifilm X-T2.

So what is all this f0.95 all about? First of, it’s the ability to soak up a lot of light, because the aperture is so large. Aperture¬†f0.95 gathers a hole one stop of light more than a f1,4 lens. This again helps you maintaining a higher shutter speed, especially in low light situations. But for me personally, the best benefit is all about the way, and the quality of the out of focus parts of the image. The bokeh from the Mitakon is, in my eyes, really beautiful and smooth. I know this is a personal thing, so for others it might not be, so you be the judge yourself.

Theoretically the The f-number is calculated by dividing the focal length with the diameter of the entrance pupil (effective aperture). Be aware if you shoot video that this is not the same as a T-stop, even though I have heard Zhongyi claiming the lens also has a T0.95 rating. A T-stop is an f-number adjusted to account for light transmission efficiency. The exposure should then be just the same if you change from one focal length lens to another with the same T-stop. The same would not apply for an f-stop rated lenses, when changing focal lengths.

Here is an example of the soft and gradual transition between in focus and out of focus areas (Bokeh)

There is a¬†focus scale helping with the focus distance, and depth of field calculation. But for street photography at 0.95, this could be difficult. You really need to be looking at the screen or in the viewfinder when focusing this lens. I also recommend using focus peaking or magnification if your camera has this feature. But for a 0.95 lens, it’s much more easy to nail the focus than you would expect. The perceived depth of field is more or less the same as a f1,4 lens¬†on a full frame camera. And that’s doable manually focusing. (Please, no depth-of-field & perspective discussions on crop vs full-frame:)

The focus ring is amazingly smooth, and with just the right amount of dampening. I just love this when shooting video. The Fujinon lenses (that have “by wire” focusing) does not have this feel and dampening. The Mitakon is a dream to manually focus. And you have no other options either, as this is a fully manual lens. There is no autofocus, or other electrical connections. From my Fujifilm X-T2, it reads f1.0 in the exif data no matter what aperture you have selected.

Speaking about the aperture ring, it’s de-clicked and has a continues operation of the aperture blades. This is great when shooting video. These 2 features means that there is no audible clicks when operating it (picked up by the mic), and there is a¬†continues smooth change in the depth of field and exposure. Great when shooting video. My only complaint about the aperture ring, is that it sometimes is to easily moved, especially when focusing, out of it’s position. I sometimes find my self adjusting it back to f0.95, and an aperture lock feature would be great if they ever make a Mark III version. This lens stays at f0.95 in 99% of all my shooting. Because why would you shoot at any other aperture on a lens this fantastic wide open? ūüôā

I have put together a small package of video samples with the Mitakon 35mm below. All shots are at f0.95, using the Fujifilm X-T2 and a B+W variable ND filter (You definitely need an ND filter if shooting outside at f0.95). The clips have been color corrected in FCPX, and a LUT applied for my personal touch. (Skip to 1:15 if you don’t want to see the footage of the lens it self with overview info) Remember to select 4K in the video menu! (Link if you prefer to watch directly in YouTube:¬†https://youtu.be/bqEyLHb1kaM)

Optically speaking, I have done no shooting of charts, brick walls or alike to check for its optical performance. Sure, it has some vignetting and some chromatic aberrations shooting wide open. But i have seen non that bothers me so far in my real world usage of this lens. In fact, i like vignetting, as i often use it in my editing anyway. The sharpness I must say I was surprised how sharp it actually is. I was expecting a lot less sharpens and local contrast. My only finding is that the sharpness seems to drop just a tad when shooting extremely close to the minimum focus distance (35cm). The lens is, as most lenses, sharper in the center, and the sharpness falls of towards the edges when shooting wide open.

Shot thru a glass window @ f0.95 (Fujifilm X-T2, post processed)

Prices are approximately $530 as we speak. You can check out the product at Amazon here: http://amzn.to/2GfmkAe

Christmas bokeh @ f0.95 (Fujifilm X-T2, post processed)

Ok, so what if you don’t have a Fuji X, ¬†Sony E or EOS M mount camera? Don’t feel left out! If you shoot a¬†Sony E-mount full-frame mirrorless camera there is the Mitakon Speedmaster 50mm f/0.95 availible from¬†ZY Optics. If you shoot a Micro Four Thirds system, there is also the 50mm equivalent¬†Mitakon Speedmaster 25mm f/0.95

@ f0.95 (Fujifilm X-T2, post processed)

Closest focus distance @ f0.95 (Fujifilm X-T2, post processed)

Mannequins thru a glass window @ f0.95 (Fujifilm X-T2, post processed)

Double flip @f0.95 (Fujifilm X-T2, post processed)

The happy pig РOslo @f0.95 (Fujifilm X-T2, post processed)

King Olav V @f0.95 (Fujifilm X-T2, post processed)

Bus shelter @f0.95 (Fujifilm X-T2, post processed)

Overall I’m very happy with the Mitakon, and I would easy recommend it if your shooting style does not require auto focus. I’m going to end this small review with a list of my personal pros and cons!

Pros:

  • Excellent picture quality for a f/0.95 lens
  • Bokeh is stunning
  • Feels solid, full metal body and mount
  • de-clicked and continues operation of the aperture (con if only shooting stills )
  • Good sharpness and local contrast for a f/0.95 lens
  • ¬†Smooth and well damped¬†focus ring.

Cons:

  • de-clicked and continues operation of the aperture (pro if only shooting video )
  • Aperture ring sometimes accidentally moves out of the selected value
  • Vignettes quite much wide open (Easily fixed in post processing)
  • Some chromatic aberrations shooting wide open
  • Flares when shooting directly at a light source

Buy the MITAKON SPEEDMASTER 35MM f/0.95 MK II at Norwegian JAPANPHOTO.NO here: http://bit.ly/2DxsfPi

Buy the MITAKON SPEEDMASTER 35MM f/0.95 MK II at Amazon US here: http://amzn.to/2GfmkAe

When you buy thru the links you support me as i get a small commission from Amazon. You pay no extra!

Thank you for the support, and feel free to comment or ask questions. If you like my stuff, consider to follow me on YouTube 

ūüôā

SUNDAY DRIVE, Volkswagen Passat GTE Hybrid (Fujifilm X-T2 + Zhiyun Crane)

Finally got the time to put together som clips i shot this summer, from a sunday drive in a Volkswagen Passat GTE. All shots with the Fujifilm X-T2 with Fujinon 56mm f1,2. I used the Zhiyun Crane as a stabilizer (Gimbal).

Edit is done in Final Cut Pro X (10.4) and using TravelFeels LUT (ABBYS)

Mini review of the Aputure AL-H198, shot with the Fujifilm X-T2.

Light is, no matter how you look at it, the most important part of a photograph or a film.  The ability to control the amount, intensity, angle and color of light is a great tool for any photographer/videographer. I have tried my hand at flash photography many times before, but the ability not to see all the changes when moving, diffusing and flagging the light is really frustrating.

The ability to directly see the changes when moving and diffusing the light is one of the great advantages of using continues lighting. Thats why i bought 2 Aputure AL-H 198 led lights. I wanted to see what kind of output, and what possibilities i could have with these smal LED lights.

The AL-H198 has, as the name implies 198 LED lights. The beam angle is quite wide, with a 60 degree angle. The light output is rated at 3430 LUX at 0,5 meters. The light is compact at 151 x 100 x 56 mm, and can be used as an onboard camera light. But the light can easily also be used as a fill light or a rim light. The light is probably strong enough as a key light for a headshot/half body shot without a diffuser, but suffer from low output if you need to diffuse the light (As you normally would on a key light). But if you are close enough, you can easily light small objects as you can see next.

Here is a test video i made using two AL-H198 led lights. The video was shot with my trusty Fujifilm X-T2. Shot at 1080, 60fps, edited in FCPX. For camera movements, i used a cheap rolling dolly skate. Remember to turn up the volume up and select 1080 resolution!! 

This is just a quick and dirty test, shot on my kitchen counter. There are some shadows on the wall, and the backdrop is a bit to close etc, i know. But this gives you an idea of what you can achieve. The mixed color temperatures was deliberately;) Next of I need to get some more modifiers, so i can flagg and control the light better. The key light was at full power in the video. The shutter speed was 1/120 sec, at f2.8. For a correct exposure i was at approximately iso 400-800 (Depending on the lights placement)

The clips are lit as follows:

clip 1: From left one AL-H198 bouncing light back from a gold reflector. From right, one light shooting thru a diffuser (50cm, round)

Clip 2: From left one AL-H198 bouncing light back from a silver reflector. From right, one light shooting thru a diffuser (50cm, round)

Clip 3+4+5: From left one AL-H198 bouncing light back from a gold reflector. From right, one light shooting thru a diffuser (50cm, round)

Clip 6: From left, one AL-H198 bouncing light back from a gold reflector +tungsten filter. From right, one light shooting thru a diffuser (50cm, round)

Here is a basic overview, of the pretty simple setup. (Thanks to Online Lighting Diagram Creator by QHphotography.com)

 

In the package get a decent quality, small, padded bag, with velcro and double zipper closing.

At the back of the¬†AL-H198, you find the brightness adjustment wheel, that also function as a power switch. It would be preferable with a dedicated power switch, so you don’t mess with the light intensity when turning it off temporarily. But at this price point, I think it is fair. There is also a handy battery indicator, and a connection for Sony NP-F batteries (Here shown with NP-F550). You can also open the lid, and power it with regular AA batteries! ¬†(NP-F or AA batteries are not included)

In the case you also find a small ball head, adaptors, diffuser¬†and tungsten filter. The filters snap on easily on the small knobs on the front (Only one at a time). The¬†AL-H198 also has a clear plastic front over the LED’s, protecting them from a direct hit. Remember that there also is a¬†AL-H198C model¬†available. The “C” stands for color, and is a color temperature adjustable version. It can be adjusted from 3500 kelvin, to 5500 kelvin. But remember that you have much lower light output, as you then have 50% of each color temperature LED’s. The¬†AL-H198 model is a fixed daylight temperature model (5500K), but can easily be color corrected with a gel. (Or the provided tungsten filter, but not sure how accurate the color is)Overall I’m satisfied with the lights. They are more powerful than I expected, but as mentioned earlier, not something to light up a complete scene or use as a key light. (Except if you connect several together, as you actually can!). The plastic feels kinda cheap, but still seems sturdy enough for most people’s use. My plan is to add an Aputure HR672S in the future, and use the two¬†AL-H198 as a¬†fill, rim or backlight.

Thanks for dropping by, and remember to follow my blog and YouTube to keep up with new stuff in the future!

Buy from Amazon: Amaran AL-H198

Vang i Valdres – Fujifilm X-T2 & Zhiyun Crane

My last blog post took a lot of time and effort to put together, but the response from you guys have been awesome. There has been a lot of comments and sharing of the blog post on my experience with the Fujifilm XT-2 and Zhiyun Crane. Thanks a lot!

I have started my own (small) business and the blog have been somewhat put to side, as I can’t share all of the work I’m doing these days. I’m now an FAA (equivalent)¬†registered drone pilot (At the Norwegian “Luftfartstilsynet”). The time and effort going in got starting a small business is quite high. Especially considering I have 2 kids and a full-time work in addition. Hopefully I can share more of the work I have been doing at a later stage, when the work is published by my client.

I still had some time this Spring to film a little in the gorgeous Valdres area, here in Norway. Unfortunately I haven’t had the time to finish the editing before now. I have been playing a lot with¬†Black Magics video editing program DaVinci Resolve, and the learning curve has been steep. I have made a lot of editing mistakes, and had to do them over again several times. Unfortunately, some of the clips a had to give up and scrap, because I didn’t achieve the look I was going for in the editing process. Selective color adjustments are very sensitive if your mask is not precise enough, giving you a lot of flickering in these areas. But working on this film has made me more confident in using DaVinci in my films for my clients. So much that my latest client film has been color graded in DaVinci, before finishing up the edit in FCPX.

Here are some clips shot with the Fujifilm X-T2 and Zheyun Crane. Shot in 1080 60fps, mostly slowed down 50%. Remember to select 1080 for optimum YouTube quality ūüôā

Remember to follow me on YouTube for future films: https://www.youtube.com/user/Kjetilkm

Shooting video with the Fujifilm X-T2, Zhiyun Crane and Blackmagic Video Assist.

Shooting video on DSLR’s and mirrorless cameras has become more and more popular in the resent years. The video quality has been improved immensely, and¬†is not just an extra feature that the camera had in the spec sheet anymore. The video quality and auto focus capabilities has come a long way.

I¬†recently updated my trusty Fujifilm XT-1 with the new X-T2, and my reason was mainly for the purpose of the new excellent video features. The X-T1 was really not a great video performer, even though the photo aspects of the camera was awesome (Read about my initial thoughts on the XT-1 here). Fujifilm has really upped their game in the video aspect,¬†and¬† you can really tell they have put in a lot off effort into the video features. After filming with my Phantom 4 quadcopter for some time now,¬†and playing arround editing videos, I¬†‘m really¬†intrigued. I love the creative¬†possibilities video can give you in a¬†whole other way than shooting stills.

The XT-2 features excellent 4K UHD video (3840 x 2160) at a great 100 Mbps. The X-T1 continues autofocus (AF-C) was really rubbish, but on the X-T2 it’s¬†vastly improved. From other tests I have seen, it’s on par (?) with the highly¬†regarded Sony¬†A6500¬†autofocus. Since I already had a lot of Fujinon glass, the choice for me was obvious on what camera to choose.

Looking at shaky video really makes me¬†nauseous. Even though the style these days is to have some movement in the shots giving you more of a third person view, I like it smooth.¬†And Shooting video handheld won’t give smooth movements, at least when you are used to “perfectly” stabilized shots from a drone. The need for a stabilizer was obvious, and I knew already before buying the X-T2. After a lot of research, the Zheyun Crane seemed like a highly praised piece of machinery. And I assure you, it does a great job. But i doesn’t come for free! There is a pretty steep learning curve, and just slapping the camera on it¬†and run down the street won’t give you anything¬†to showcase to¬†Quentin Tarantino.

Here is the X-T2 mounted on the Zhiyun Crane, supported by a small Manfrotto 209 tabletop tripod.

First off, you need to perfectly balance the camera in all axis (Not like in the picture above). If not, the gimball motors have to work much harder, decreasing their¬†lifetime, and also increasing the chance of¬†bumpy and¬†jittery shots. Then there is the walking technique. It’s time to bring out the ninja in you, as the ninja walk really helps even out that¬†z-axis up/down wobbling. Also side to side movement will show up in your shots if you are looking closely, so it takes some practice. Turning the crane to inverted mode can help the sideways motion. But you can be sure the gimbal does a great job at keeping the camera level.

Following is my latest film, from the¬†small and¬†charming streets of Trevi in Italy. It’s shot with the 23mm f1.4, 18-55 f2.8-4 and the 56mm f1.2. Edit is done¬†in Final Cut Pro X. (Remember to select HD – 1080, and turn on the sound).

The X-T2 has kept the dedicated iso, shutter and exposure¬†compensation dials¬†on top. And they fixed the previous “lock issues”. Now the dials are turning freely with distinctive clicks¬†when the center locking pin is up, and you lock the dials completely by pushing them down. Works like a charm.

One of my “cons”on the X-T1 was the problem with quickly changing focus points. The 4-way button on the X-T1 wasn’t protruding enough making them easy to find without moving you eye from the viewfinder. Now there is a dedicated small joystick that has a great feel and feedback.¬†The joystick as placed between the 4-way buttons and the Q-meny.

The¬†rear screen is a 3″ screen, featuring¬†1,040,000 dots. The screen is ok, but¬†not¬†racer sharp and in my opinion would do with an update from the previous model. But they have updated it with a dual hinge screen making it possible to tilt¬†up/down, and to the side (Or both simultaneously). The digital viewfinder is still as awesome as its predecessor, its HUGE and¬†virtually no delay in the image display, especially in boost mode (100fps).

Here is my first test of the Zheyun Crane, down at the docks in Oslo. It’s recorded in 1080 at 60fps , and the final output is in¬†30fps (Hence the slow motion). I made the rookie mistake of choosing a shutter speed that didn’t match the artificial lights frequency, so excuse the random flickering. Shot with X-T2 and the 23mm f1.4. ¬†(Remember to select HD – 1080, and turn on the sound).

For video, I find the rear screen to be a bit small and hard to see when moving the¬†crane around. That’s why I invested in the Blackmagic Design Video Assist. It’s a 5″ full HD screen with a built-in recorder. That means I can record directly from the uncompressed HDMI¬†8-bit 4:2:2 HDMI¬†output signal to a high quality 4:2:2 ProRes or DNxHD file, up to¬†1080i 60 fps (In camera recording is 4:2:0, MPEG-4, H.264). When you shoot 4K and record in camera, the Video Assist can still monitor the 4K signal (downsampled to 1080). This is a question many have had online, and even my dealer couldn’t tell me if it could. So,¬†it’s confirmed, it can!

The monitor has all the features you cold ask for in a monitor (At least for my needs), like zebras, focus peaking, preview of LUT’s, histogram and false colors just to mention some.

The Video Assist features bot HDMI in and out, and the same with SDI. You can record or monitor the HDMI signal in at the same time as the signal is transmitted to another device if you need it. The Video assist has a touch screen to operate the menus, and the sharpness from the 1920 x 1080 display is astonishing .

The Blackmagic Video Assist records directly to SD cards, and I prefer that in comparison to expensive SSD’s. The only downside I have found so far with the X-T2/Video Assist¬†combo is that the X-T2 only outputs F-log files externally, and in 4K. I was really hoping for F-log in 1080 resolution externally (Fuji, are you listening ūüôā But in stead I use the¬†PRO Neg.Std picture profile, and set the highlight and shadows at -2. This gives you the flattest picture possible, for¬†a bit more leeway in¬†post production. It’s important not to clip the whites or crush those black levels, as they’re not possible to recover. If¬†you’re familiar with shooting still¬†Jpeg’s, you know what I’m talking about.

Here is one more video I made from Oslo. All shot with the XT-2, 23mm f1.4 and the 14mm f2.8. It’s recorded in 1080p at 60fps.¬†(Remember to select HD- 1080, and turn on the sound).

I’ve connected the Video Assist to¬†the Crane with a small clamp with a magic arm (Ebay). My clamping option is not optimal, and I’m still looking at other options.¬†But hey, it does the job! There is a dual handle available to the crane, but I’m trying to stay as light and portable as possible. One¬†important step to think about is that your HDMI cable needs to be light and flexible. If not you’re going to impact the gimbal movement and “pre-balancing” will be a pain. I use a Sanho Hyperthin Micro to HDMI cable, and it works great.

The Zheyun Crane also features a joystick allowing you to control the gimball movement. This is great both when moving around, and when stationary, giving you butter smooth movements. You can also control the gimbal from the Zhiyun app remotely.

The Crane comes in a great case for transportation and storage. There are 4 Li-ion batteries (3.7 V, 2000 mAh) included, and a USB charger. The battery life is rated to 6 hours per pair of batteries. I havent timed my usage vs battery level, but the batteries last for a very long time. The Crane weighs 0.95 kg (2 lb) without the batteries, and can handle a camera weight from 0.35 to 1.2 kg  (0.8 Р2.65 lb). With the new software installed you can have a camera up to 1,8 kg.

Ok, lets move back to the X-T2. The camera now has dual SD-card slots. That’s great when shooting video, as you quickly run thru a lot of gigabytes!

On the left side, you find a 3,5mm microphone jack for an external microphone, micro USB 3.0,¬†a¬†micro-HDMI and a¬†2.5mm for the remote. On the battery grip VPB-XT2 (accessory) you find a port for the 9 volt¬†charger that charges both the 2 extra batteries in the grip simultaneously, and a jack for you headphones if you need to externally monitor the sound. The maximum video time without the grip is 10 minutes, and with the grip it’s 30 minutes. Apparently it has to do with battery temperatures, as shooting 4K demands a lot from the¬†batteries and processors. Many other cameras, like the Sony RX100 are¬†widely known for overheating quite fast when shooting 4K. I’ve had no signs of excessive heat/overheating with my X-T2.

The Fujifilm X-T2, Blackmagic Design Video Assist and a table dolly.

When¬†using autofocus in video, you have to think about what the autofocus is going to do. No matter what camera you use, autofocus wont alway get the job done. If your focus is going from close and suddenly to something in the distant, especially if you have a small depth of field, the focus shift is going to be sudden and not very cinematic. I have found manual pre-focusing before the shot works best if I have situations like this. The only exception¬†is if I’m¬†using the 56mm f1,2. This lens is quite slow focusing, and when playing back in slow motion, the focus transitions can look quite cinematic. When using the autofocus on medium to distant subjects, as tracking people, I have found the autofocus to be very good.

There are basically 2 main modes in video mode, the selected focus point (Area), and closest subject (Multi) if shooting 4K. If shooting 1080, you can also use the face detection. There are also 5 preset AF-C custom settings, where the tracking sensitivity, speed tracking sensitivity and zone area switching is different. The 6’th choice is custom, so you can tweak the 3 mentioned parameters as you like. Check out this site for more info.

Fujifilm has announced 2 new software updates. As a matter of fact, Fujifilm is really good at listening to the users feedbacks, and adding new features and tweaks. The new software has made iso adjustments possible when filming, live histogram when filming, and tapping the focus button is going to make the camera re-focus. I missed those 3 features as of now. There will also be support for computer tethering via Wi-Fi in version 2.10. The Fujifilm phone app is very slow to connect, and requires a lot of buttons to be pushed. So I hope the new tethering solution will be better and compatible with phones, tablets and computers (?). The new software 2.00 was released March 30 2017, and version 2.10 in late May 2017. There is a whopping 33 new features coming in the new updates.

In video mode, there is a 1.04x crop when shooting at HD 1080, and a¬†1.17x crop in UHD 4K (Effectively¬†1.725x crop relative to full frame, as the native crop is¬†1,5 crop). I have no problem with these relatively small extra crop’s when entering video mode.

As a stills camera, the X-T2 is still up in the top of the APS-C mirrorless cameras. The Fuji colors are like no other camera I have used, and the fact that the Fujinon glass¬†has such great image quality makes this a great camera both for video and stills.¬†The sensor is now a 24 Megapixel APS-C X-Trans III CMOS¬†, compared to the old¬†16 megapixel APS-C X-Trans II CMOS sensor. Still I think the Fujinon glass holds up nicely at this high resolution, even wide open. I can’t say the same for my Nikon glass on a D800 or D600.

hope you enjoyed my thoughts/mini review on this “threesome combo”, or the individual components. I know there are a lot of questions floating online about these products, and I hope I have spread some knowledge on a few of them.

Buy Fujifilm X-T2 from Amazon

Buy Zheyun Crane from Amazon

Buy Blackmagic Video Assist from Amazon

 

If you’d like to keep up with my video stuff, be sure to subscribe to my¬†YouTube¬†channel!

 

Frost – Scenic 4K view from Norway

Was lucky and got some nice morning mist back i January. I fired up my Phantom 4 drone, and captured this video.

The temperature was -10¬įC, so my hands was pretty stiff after these flights. The video is from the H√łre¬†(Vang) and Beito/Lykkja ¬†(√ėstre Slidre) area in Valdres, Norway.

Remember to select 4K to get the best possible quality!