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Gear Review: Zeiss Compact Prime .2 Cine Set

20 09 2011

Stock Photo from Zeiss who owns Copyright

Make: Zeiss

Model: CP.2 Set

My use: I ordered the 7 lens set while at UNC-Greensboro.  Primarily, this lens set was to be used for the Panasonic AF-100; however, the lenses were also perfectly compatible with the 7d, 5d and RED One.  In fact, I got the Canon mounts on the lenses, as adapter rings on the AF-100 or RED One would sustain the weight better than on a DSLR.

Average Price: $26,700 (for 7 lens set; they are sold in a 5 lens set or individually as well)

My thoughts: To date, these are my favorite lenses that I have used.  They are compact, precise and an excellent quality of glass.  At UNC-Greensboro, we had a set of RED Pro Primes with the RED One package which included a 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, 300mm and 18-85mm zoom; these Zeiss CP.2 blew them all out of the water.  Not only are they smaller and easier to handle, but more precise in measurements and calibration.  The 7 lens set includes an 18mm, 21mm, 25mm, 28mm, 35mm, 50mm and 85mm prime lenses and two sturdy, well-padded hard plastic carrying cases with rollers.  Though the price sounds high, in terms of good lens cost, it’s actually very reasonable.  If I had the cash on hand and one lens set to buy, it would likely be these wonderful cine lenses.  Though I love Cookes S4s and ARRI Master Primes, these little guys can stand their own and are a fraction of the cost.  If you’re shooting regularly and have the cash on hand, these would be a wonderful investment.

Technical Specs from the Manufacturer (for 35mm Prime as representational of other 6 prime lenses included): 

Mount Interchangeable PL
Focal Length 35mm
Aperture T2.1
Elements/Groups 9/7
Front Lens Diameter 114mm
Minimum Object Distance (M.O.D.) 12″ (0.3m)
Length 3.15″ (8cm)
Weight 2.2 lbs (1kg)

Bottom Line: If you are ready to make the jump to professional grade cine glass, but want to do so at a fraction of the cost in regards to some of the competitors, then I highly recommend the Zeiss CP.2s.  In a perfect world, going with the 7 lens set complete with carrying cases, is a great buy.  But, these are still expensive lenses for small companies and individuals and can be bought separately and built into a nice set over time.  Either way, you will not be disappointed in the sharpness and quality of the image these lenses produce.  Furthermore, you won’t be breaking your back to lug these primes around on set.

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Gear Review: Lowel Rifa-Lite EX 500w Soft Light

30 08 2011

Stock Photo from Lowel

Make: Lowel

Model: Rifa-Lite EX55

My use: I’ve used these lights on an array of projects and ordered two of these during my tenure at UNC-Greensboro.  I used them primarily for a key light for interviews and green screen shoots.  Chances are, I will buy one for my personal kit in the near future.

Average Price: $488.50

My thoughts: I love this light.  Absolutely love it.  It is compact, easy to carry and works as a wonderful soft key source for interviews and green screen shoots.  In larger productions, it’s useful for bringing up the ambiance or a small fill.  The light is soft, flattering and has a nice warm tinge (which I prefer).  I bought these lights primarily as replacements for what I was using Kino-Flo lamps for work.  To me, Kino-Flos have always burned a little cool (the 3200 lamps) and never match properly with the rest of a tungsten set.  Now, to be honest, I do love Kino-Flos under certain conditions, especially if time is of the essence or for small doses daylight fill, but for interviews and the like, they are hard to control, burn cool and bulky.  With a Kino-Flo you need to mount on C-Stands, plug the header in the ballast and then the ballast into the wall, which is just a pain in the butt in a small office or the like.  The Lowel Rifa 55 comes in a carrying case that contains the head with folded chimera, stand and power cable; furthermore, it’s about two feet long.  Setting these up takes no time at all and the tungsten filament, though it does get hot, provides a pleasant glow.

Technical Specs from the Manufacturer: 

Rating 500 watt maximum
Socket (Lampholder) 2-Pin
Lens (Condenser) Not Applicable
Reflector (Mirror) Silver interior softbox
Mounting Fits any standard 5/8″ stand or stud
Yoke Not Applicable
Cable 4′ Captive cable, 120V power cable, line switch, 120V Grounded Edison Plug
Focusing Not Applicable
Weight 2.5 lbs (1.1 kg)
Dimensions Collapsed length: 24″ (61 cm)
Face: 21 x 21″ (53 x 53 cm)


Bottom Line
: If I’m traveling light and shooting interiors, then chances are I have one or two of these instruments with me.  They are a versatile, compact soft light that provides a beautiful warm glow, perfect for interior interview setups, lighting talent on green screen shoots and easy-to-tuck away fill/ambient lights on larger sets.  For the price, you can’t beat it.





Gear Review: K5600 Joker Bug 800w HMI

14 08 2011

Copyright K5600 - Joker Bug 800w Kit

Make: K5600

Model: Joker Bug 800w HMI

My use: I ordered two of these during my time at UNC-Greensboro’s Office of Online Learning.  At the time I ordered these, the division didn’t have any HMIs.  We rarely had large lighting setups, so extremely powerful HMI instruments weren’t needed.  However, I did want to build a small HMI arsenal, and wanted what we ordered to have some punch, so I went with the 800w version of the Joker Bug (K5600 also produces 200w and 400w versions).

Average Price: $6,390 per kit

My thoughts: For the type of work we used our HMIs on, the Joker Bug 800’s were a perfect fit.  They pack a sold punch lumen-wise, but are small enough instruments in regards to electrical pull that you can plug them into standard wall outlets.  One of the nicest attributes of these instruments were the compact case in which they came.  The small hardshell case was on rollers, stackable and contained everything you needed for the light: head, ballast, header cable, 4 lenses and barndoors.  Being PARs, these little guys really dished it out, and with the various lenses that include Super Wide, Wide, Medium Flood and Frosted Fresnel, you could easily shape the output for your desired look on set.  With a little diffusion, these instruments were also a wonderful exterior fill, and compact enough to not break your back on location.

Technical Specs from the Manufacturer: 

Light Fixture
Rating 800 Watts
Socket (Lampholder) G22
Lens (Condenser) 4- included: Super Wide, Wide, Medium Flood, Frosted Fresnel
Mounting 5/8″ Stand mount
Weight 6 lbs (2.7 kg)
Dimensions 13 x 9 x 4.25″ (33 x 23 x 9.1cm)
HMI Ballast
Rating 800W, 110 – 240V AC, 50 / 60Hz
Cable 25′ VEAM 1/4 turn twist
Weight 8 lbs (3.6kg)
Dimensions 10 x 9 x 3.5″ (25.4 x 22.8 x 8.9cm)
Kit Weight 41 lbs (19kg)


Bottom Line
: These are extremely versatile small wattage HMI instruments.  If you are a smaller production company or a freelancer that doesn’t do too many large scale productions, then I highly recommend these units if you are looking to build a small HMI arsenal.





Gear Review: ADAM A3x 50w Studio Monitors

11 08 2011

I try to keep this blog fairly varied between movie reviews, retrospectives, lists and my own personal projects.  One thing that I have not covered very extensively, however,  is gear, which is definitely of interest to those of you practitioners out there.  Through my freelance work, and more so through my positions at UNC-Greensboro and Novant, I have had the ability to use a wide array of motion picture and audio production gear.  So, I have decided to put my two cents into a series of equipment reviews to help those of you who might be considering some of these items.  This series of reviews, which will be ongoing, will not detract from the film reviews and other facets of the site, but rather, be incorporated into the mix.  With that introduction out of the way, on we go to the first review:

Adam Professional A3x stock photo

Make: Adam Professional Audio

Model: A3x

My use: I ordered these as my primary monitors for my workstation at my current position with Novant Health.  I use them daily and they are an integral part of my system.

Average Price: $329 per speaker

My thoughts: Though my primary income comes from visual production, audio quality is very important to me.  I have been a musician for over 10 years and for several years played with a band on a semi-professional level (about 50% of my then income was from the band and, yes, it did pay the bills).  So, having the background of a musician has definitely led me to be a little more audio savvy than your regular cameraman.  When I came on board here at Novant as a Multimedia Specialist about three weeks ago, they let me more-or-less order the workstation I wanted to use.  For audio monitors, in scouring over a lot of various manufacturers and models, I came across the Adam A3x and was intrigued by reviews and it’s size.  I ordered two on that intrigue and they arrived about a week later.  These really are tiny little studio monitors, as you can see by the dimensions in the below manufacturer specs.  However, the sound these speakers put out is amazing.  In listening to Pandora through the day while I work, songs come on that I have heard on the radio for years.  However, theses little guys seem to dig so deep into replicating the mix that I find I hear nuances to the songs that I have never noticed before.  Furthermore, the stereo spectrum these speakers emit is beautifully produced and the highs and lows of various pieces are emitted much better than a lot of much larger studio monitors I have come across over the years.

Technical Specs from the Manufacturer: 

Low Frequency Driver 4.5″ (114mm) Carbon Fiber Woofer
High Frequency Driver X-ART Tweeter
LF Amplifier 25W RMS
HF Amplifier 25W RMS
Crossover 2.8kHz
Frequency Range 60Hz – 50kHz
Maximum Sound Pressure Level (SPL) 106dB, Peak
Connectors 1 x XLR Input
1 x RCA Input
1 x RCA Stereolink Connector (2 Jacks)
1 x Power Input
Input Impedance 10 kOhms
Controls and Indicators 1 x Power Switch
1 x Gain Control
1 x Tweeter Gain Control
Shielded No
Dimensions (HxWxD) 10 x 6 x 7.5″ (252 x 150 x 185mm)
Weight 10.1 lbs (4.6kg)

Bottom Line: These are extremely high quality, versatile mid-range studio monitors.  They sound amazing and pack a huge bang into a little casing.  I would recommend for any small work space, home office or home studio that needs clean audio with punch and clarity.








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