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Tuesday, 23 November 2010 18:18

Camera Companions

Written by  Debra Kaufman
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In recent years, the proliferation of new digital cameras has focused attention on resolution, workflow and image quality. While the RED, Vision Research Phantom, ARRI ALEXA and Canon 7D Mark II cameras all have their fans and uses, the advent of 3D stereoscopic moviemaking has upped the ante as filmmakers struggle to find the perfect cameras for the left/right-eye pair. Camera accessories — everything from lenses to 3D rigs — are the crucial gear components needed to support chosen cameras, and they can make the difference between a problem-plagued production and smooth sailing.

1Feat_CamAcc_Fujinon_3D_Synchronous_Control_System_JPGAny filmmaker looking to save time and money while avoiding the distractions of problematic gear would do well to carefully pick their camera accessories. Savvy producers do exactly that, and P3 Update looks at some of the latest products piquing everyone’s interest.

Anton/Bauer, a provider of batteries, chargers, lighting and other key mobile power supplies for film/video professionals, offers the DIONIC HCX and Tandem 150 Modular Power Systems. The DIONIC HCX’s features are compelling: a 120-watt-hour capacity, built-in motion-detection sensor and an innovative “deep sleep” feature that increases battery life by reducing lithium-ion battery self-discharge when the battery isn’t in use. Weighing 2.4 pounds, the DIONIC HCX can withstand high instantaneous current draws and offers an LCD real-time fuel gauge that shows up to nine hours of run-time when used under low-power load conditions.

The fully automatic Tandem 150 Modular Power System weighs 2.5 pounds and allows the user to simultaneously charge a battery and power a camera by separating the Gold Mount device from the power supply. “Green” enthusiasts will like its solar panel that can charge any battery in the Anton/Bauer product line.


Band Pro introduced the wide and short Ruby 14–24mm T2.8 zoom from Focus Optics. The new Ruby offers full coverage even for the F35 sensor. Weighing three pounds and measuring 138mm long, the Ruby has a front diameter of 110mm and will accept a 102mm screw-in filter. The lens works on all 35mm PL-mounted cameras, including the Sony F35, ARRI, RED and Canon D7, as well as on the Canon D5 with an adapter. Focus direction is reversed to go in the traditional cine direction, and the lens offers focus travel of 126 degrees. Additionally, Focus Optics’ anti-backlash design ensures complete accuracy of focus marks.

Element Technica recently came out with the ultra-small Neutron 3D rig, which is designed to mount lightweight 3D camera packages for stereoscopic video capture from smaller jibs, Steadicams, portable cameras and point-of-view positions. The Technica 3D Neutron rig is the solution for providing 3D imaging from the smallest form factor, with the ability to mount the smallest 2/3- or 1/3-inch imager HD cameras, such as Silicon Imaging’s SI-2K MINI and the Iconix.2Feat_CamAcc_Fujinon_PL_Family_JPEG

Like its popular big brother, the Quasar 3D rig, the Neutron rig provides the same simplicity of assembly and operation; ability to integrate with standard stereoscopic production controls; and the ease of changing camera configuration quickly between side-by-side and beam-splitter modes. Like the Quasar, the Neutron can be configured into both over/through and under/through beam-splitter modes.

FUJIFILM Optical Devices U.S.A., Inc. (formerly Fujinon), a manufacturer and distributor of optics and lens assemblies, offers a Synchronous Control System and 3D lenses for HD and SD projects. The company has four new B4 mount lenses designed for 3D HD productions: the HA23X7.6BEZD-T5DD with a 23X zoom and a focal length of 7.6–175mm (15.2–350mm with 2X extender); the HA16X6.3BEZD-T5DD with a 16X zoom with a focal length of 6.3–101mm (12.6–202mm with 2X extender); the HA18x7.6BEZD-T5DD with a 18X zoom with a focal length of 7.6–137mm (15.2–274mm with 2X extender); and the HAs18X7.6B 3BZD-T5DD with an 18X zoom and focal length of 7.6–137mm with no 2X extender. All four lenses include the company’s Inner Focus, Zoom Limit and Quick Zoom features with an optional 16-bit encoder.

The 3D Synchronous Control System, which includes the ERD-10A-D01 Zoom Controller, HJ-303A 06A Synchronizer/Focus Controller and two SA-206H cables. It synchronizes the left and right lenses to zoom and focus in unison, a key feature for 3D productions.

FUJIFILLM also offers four PL zoom lenses. The two most recently added are the 24–180mm T2.6 and 14.5–45mm T2.0. The two additional PL zooms are the 18–85mm T2.0 and 75–400mm 2.8–T3.8.


K-Tek introduced the Norbert Camera Accessory Mounting System, a versatile accessory management system that allows the user to attach production tools to a DSLR camera without compromising the camera’s integral shoe mount. The Norbert base frame is machined from black anodized aluminum, and it has numerous threaded holes in 1/4x20 and 3/8x16 sizes and 23 standard shoe mounts that allow the user to customize the Norbert system. The frame attaches to the camera via a handy quick-release mechanism, and additional threaded holes on the base accept tripod-mounting brackets.Feat_CamAcc_K-Tek_Norbert

K-Tek’s optional Dual Handle Kit has two elbow brackets that attach easily to Norbert for handheld use. Twin ergonomic, foam-covered, graphite handles allow it to be maneuvered to any position or angle desired. Also available separately, the handles can be attached to any side of Norbert, allowing the user to grip the system from above or even hold the camera upside-down or sideways. An optional, adjustable camera-mounting plate enables use of Norbert with cameras with long lenses and/or external battery packs.

Lightcraft Technology offers the Previzion, a real-time visual effects system that attaches to a camera and simplifies the tracking and visualization of complex VFX shots. The combination of Lightcraft’s Airtrack electronic rotary gyros and Intersense 1200 optical tracking system provides a precision tracking solution for determining a camera’s position when shooting complicated camera moves for green screen or visual effects work, even for handheld and crane shots. This data can easily be used to render background elements in their correct alignment for later compositing operations. When used with the complete Previzion real-time visual effects system, the camera and camera operator control the composition of all the elements, and the operator can see the live-action green-screen plates, virtual backgrounds and animated characters combined together in perfect registration while composing the shot. Previzion has been used on the ABC series “V” and the recent 3D feature film Alice in Wonderland.

OConnor debuted its O-Grips Handgrips to the market in June. O-Grips are constructed of a solid titanium core for durability and reliability, and feature single-handle ball joints with a maximum payload capacity of 44 pounds (20 kg) for use with smaller and larger cameras. These professional camera handgrips are also capable of fitting all three standard-rod systems (15mm and 19mm Studio and 16mm LWS) with a single, easy-to-use O-Grips bridge. The O-Grips are modular and “infinitely stackable” for custom applications. They can also be configured to create double or multi-joint handles. Each grip is fully adjustable and capable of a half sphere of articulation.

Another feature that appeals to camera operators is the ability to perform tool-free adjustment and locking of the O-Grips with one hand while operating (most) shoulder-mounted camera systems. A 3/8 stainless-steel top screw and 3/8 bottom thread enable the addition of different accessories and attachment at many points on a camera system.

Petrol Bags offers the Cambio convertible equipment bag/camera-support system. Cambio is a carryon-sized, smooth-rolling camera carrier that transforms into a lightweight support system for small video camcorders, allowing users to travel lighter. The Cambio has a wide U-shaped opening for easy access, and enough room for a camera, tripod head and other important accessories. Petrol’s proprietary sliding pipe system (SPS) secures the camera and keeps it in place. The bag’s interior is also fully padded for maximum equipment protection.

Within the Cambio is an expandable (up to 56 inches/142 cm), rigid, nickel-plated, center steel column for cameras weighing up to 9.9 pounds (4.5 kg). Cast magnesium lever clamps ensure fast and sure column adjustment. The bag is equipped with a patent-pending frame-and-axle support trolley with integral handle and camera platform with 75mm ball-head-mount adapter. An optional lightweight micro-fluid head allows for quick attachment and conventional pan and tilt movements.

Thales Angenieux, which provides high-performance broadcast and film lenses, has a line of Optimo lenses that can be used on DSLR cameras. The company’s well-known Optimo 15-40, Optimo 28-76 and Optimo 24-290 lenses can now be easily mounted onto a DSLR camera without the need to remove the camera’s reflex mirror. Canon EF and Nikon F mounts can replace the PL mount of the lens so it can be attached with a very precise flange. The bottom line: The user can take advantage of the complete optical capacity of the lens.


Other recently introduced Thales Angenieux lenses include the 14x4.5 HD video wide-angle lens, which offers a focal range of 4.5–634mm (9–126mm with 2X extender) and an aperture of f/1.8 (4.5–41mm). It weighs 4.6 pounds and is available in semi-servo and full-servo versions, as well as with 16-bit digital connection for zoom and handle connection. Also new is the WA 0.75x wide-angle adapter for use with the company’s Optimo 15-40 35mm film lens and Optimo DP 16-42 lens. The adapter provides a fish-eye effect for both lenses by extending their wide-angle field of view. Additionally, Thales Angenieux also redesigned its website to make it easier and faster for users and resellers to find detailed information on the company’s line of professional lenses, and to locate the nearest dealer and/or service location worldwide.        

uniQoptics introduced a full set of 18–100mm Kenji Suematsu Signature Series Prime lenses, the Razor 7D Series Primes for the Canon 7D camera, and a double aspheric wide-angle adapter for 110mm-diameter Prime lenses. Built in California, the Kenji Suematsu Signature Series Primes were created with the company’s development partner Hyperion Development. The prime set includes a range of focal lengths (14–100mm), covers up to a 43mm image circle, has accurate focus marking and true T1/9–T/22, and overall low distortion and no breathing. The Prime set is also convertible to the Canon EOS.

Feat_CamAcc_UniQoptics_lens_setThe Razor 7D Series Primes bring a high-speed digital optical design for uniformity across the sensor, with no distortion or breathing. Professional cinematographers will also appreciate the uniform diameter focus and iris gears, and single-window scales. A new 0.7x wide-angle, double-aspheric lens adapter includes a quick-release mount that slips over a standard 110mm front-lens diameter and increases the field of view by 30 percent.

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