The Best of SD and DV Camera Accessories
Whether it's fashion or video cameras, your accessories can make or break your look. SD and DV cameras, the workhorses of commercial, feature and broadcast work, are often overlooked when accessorizing. Here's a quick look at some of the latest gadgets available for SD cameras, from pro-level DV cameras to mid-range (under $60,000) SD cameras.
New Specialty Lenses
Every season seems to bring out a new series of lens, but here are three new lenses that are of particular interest to SD cameras.
To get the most image out of your SD camera, try using Fujinon’s new HJ118x7.BRM HD lens. Wait, you say – an HD lens for SD production? According to Abel Cine, the U.S. distributor for the Fujinon HJ18x7.6 BRM HD lens, many filmmakers who use the Panasonic AG-SDX900 for shooting features use the HJ18x7.6 BRM HD lens to get the highest optical quality for a film out. While the specs on the lens are excellent, the real news is its $13,500 price – which is about $6000 less than the next least-expensive HD lens on the market.
New lenses are fine, but adding new capabilities to old lenses will make your wallet smile. Century Optics now makes the TC-16LC-85 1.6X Tele-Converter, which can extend the telephoto range of the 18X/19X Canon IF Pro and 19X/20X Fujinon Pro Classic lenses. Just attach the TC-16LC-85 to the front of the lens, and you are set. According to Century Optics, the TC-16LC-85 requires no exposure compensation and works well even in low light.
If you’ve always wanted to include a super small mini-DV camera into your production, but just couldn’t live with the depth of field issues, Century Optics has just announced a new $279 2X Tele-Converter for mini DV cameras. Using a 62mm thread, the 2X Tele-Converter for mini DV can attach to Sony’s PDX10 and TRV-950, the Tele-Converter provides outstanding results with Sony PC330/109/105, TRV series, Canon Elura, Optura and ZR series as well as JVC GR-DVM90, when used with the appropriate step-up ring. According to Century, using the 2X Tele-Converter with the Sony PDX10 DV camera will increase its typical 43mm telephoto position to an 86mm focal length.
The miracle of video taps and high-resolution monitors has created a whole new filmmaking process. Unfortunately, cameras on cranes, Steadicams, and other moving sources are often too difficult to monitor. Luckily there are two wireless solutions- at both ends of the price spectrum- to solve this problem.
On the high end, the Nucomm CamPac is a miniature microwave camera transmitter that mounts directly onto the camera. Looking like an elongated ice cream scoop, the CamPac can transmit broadcast quality to a variety of different receivers. The component, composite or SDI output of the camera is converted into a 4:2:2 MPEG-2 stream, sent to the receiver, and then decoded into your preferred recorder’s video format. According to Nucomm, the CamPac has a range of about half a mile. The price for the CamPac- not including the required receiver – is a cool $30,000.
Indies on a much tighter budget can still get wireless video previews thanks to Laird Telemedia’s WaveShot. Using Sony or Canon camera batteries as power, the $495 WaveShot broadcasts a composite signal via a UHF band. Looking halfway between a dorsal fin and a construction cone, the WaveShot transmits video images up to 300 feet away to any UHF ready monitor. Just attach the composite output of your camera to the WaveShot and then tune into the image on one of the six unused UHF TV channels in your area. According to Laird Telemedia, the WaveShot uses a new FastPan technology that – unlike other systems – allows smooth transmission of the video image during rapid camera panning. The WaveShot comes with standard mounts, but you can also attach it to Steadicam harnesses, remote cameras- just about anything using the included industrial Velcro.
Too often video cameras are left without the same level of control or feedback that you’ll find in most professional film cameras. Two products can help you take back that control to more precisely view and implement focus on high-end video cameras.
The first is the new ZFinder Extension Viewfinder from 16×9. This cine-style viewfinder replaces the standard video viewfinder, getting the image closer to the camera operator’s eye. Connecting to the camera’s viewfinder, the ZFinder Extension Viewfinder uses the same kind of leveling arm that you’ll find on most 35mm cine cameras. According to 16×9, the viewfinder boasts a sharp image, has 4X magnification, and will work with a variety of full-size video cameras. The total length of the eyepiece is less than 13 inches, and it adds about 2.5 lbs to your camera rig. At $3500 for the complete system, it may be just the thing to bridge the gulf between professional video cameras and traditional film camera operators.
For those needing a more precise follow-focus system, the $2000 BENZ 4000 Master Handset is a three-channel wireless controller designed specifically for ENG and EFP video. Used in conjunction with Canon, Fujinon, and Angenieux ENG and EFP zoom lenses, you can use the BENZ 4000 Master Handset to remotely control zoom, iris, and focus. You can control the focus either using an internal drive servo or a Heden external motor such as the $2850 Heden Power Dwarf Motor M26VP. In addition to the handset, you’ll need a receiver, which can either be powered by an external 12V source or directly using the lens port. Prices for the receiver range from $1000 to just under $2000 for a complete receiver kit. Wireless freedom, however, does not mean lack of precision. According to BENZ, the 4000 Master Handset allows operators to adjust the focus over 65536 steps, as well as infinitely adjust the speed of the zoom.
Camera Hot Shoe Goodies
If you haven’t filled your camera’s hot shoe up with anything yet, Fisher Light and Battman have two interesting tools to add and enhance your current camera set up.
The new Mini LitePanel from Fisher Light is literally very cool. Using LED technology, these daylight-balanced panels provide a soft light that can be mounted on a camera or stand – just about anywhere you need a portable soft light. According to Fisher Light, the 5600k head is flicker free, offers 80 foot-candles at two feet, and is three times more efficient than a traditional tungsten light. Thanks to the use of LED light technology, the Mini LitePanel is practically heat-free, and is dimmable from zero to 100 percent. The Mini LitePanel comes either separately for $795, or in a double light kit that contains about 32 items (including carrying case, power supplies and multiple power adapters) for $2195.
If you are tired of your LCD monitor draining your camera’s precious battery power, you may need Varizoom’s VZ-702M aka the "Battman," a lithium ion battery kit that provides extra power for on-camera batteries. Just add the Battman between your LCD monitor and the camera’s hot shoe. The center weight of the battery won’t stress the shoe mount, but it will provide an additional two hours of power. Best of all the Battman kit – which includes a charger, AC power supply, car adapter and one Li-Ion battery with LED life indicator- will only set you back $79.