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    Thread: Film making on a budget... a build...

    1. Banned JacksSenseOfRejection's Avatar
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      02-21-2012 05:25 PM #1
      **** UPDATED: 2/29/2012 ***

      Shooting video professionally has it's perks. I have access to a lot of equipment and have free reign of it's use.

      My rig for work looks very similar to this (I use a different loupe for work)



      However, I thought I would make a thread for film making on the cheaper side of things. The goal here is to be able to shoot videos on a budget, but have the same versatility of the rig pictured above.

      Let's start with cameras, sure you can go with the Canon t3i, but canon lenses can be expensive and where's the fun in going the direct easy route?

      I started having this idea after playing with my Olympus Pen E-PL2. It's a mirrorless Micro Four-Thirds camera with the capability of changing lenses.



      I bought mine for $600 out the door (right before the model change to the EPL3). Camera, kit lens, an 8GB SD card in addtion to the kit 1GB SD card, a lens filter kit, an extra battery, an a camera bag.

      The kit lens is "OK" nothing special, and not really suitable for shooting cinema type movies. We'll get to that later, first lets move onto the other equipment.

      Let's talk sound. With the advancements of consumer cameras, it's easy to get a good looking HD image on the cheap. What really kills the look and feel of a movie can fall onto the shoulders of the audio quality.

      Again we will sort this out with a limited budget in mind. First things first, the microphone.



      The Rode shotgun mic has become a pretty standard sight in the indie scene lately. It's cheap (it can be had for $150) and has good sound quality and comes with some built in gain controls and runs off a 9-volt battery. It outputs to 3.5mm stereo and not XLR, which should help make things a bit cheaper when it comes to options for where to record our sound.

      Now the problem with my EPL2 is that it does not take audio-in. Which means that we have to record the audio into something else. Not a huge problem, because the mic will probably not be mounted to the camera for the most part.



      The Zoom H2 recorder is a great little audio recorder that falls into the small budget scale (can be found for ~$100-$150), runs on AA batteries. With some extension cable for our Rode Shotgun, this combo makes for a compact and easy to use recording setup. The H2 has gain control, built in mic, and the ability to record from the input mic and the built-in mic together (note: this will give you 2 mono tracks), or just from the shotgun.

      Now that we have our base equipment needs (a way to video, and a way to record audio) lets move onto modifying them to work together...on the cheap.

      First let's tackle that lens issue with the EPL2. Olympus M43 lenses can be pretty damn expensive, but luckily the camera is capable of mounting OM lenses with the assistance of an adapter ring.



      Fotodiox makes a really nice OM to M43 adapter (can be had for $25). It looks OEM and feels solid.

      Now that we have a way of mounting lenses...



      Everyone one loves shooting 50mm, so why not us? I got this OM 50mm 1.8 lens for $30 on ebay. Near perfect glass (some dust inside, nothing noticeable).



      Ok so the camera is ready to shoot... ok... maybe not ready ready... not yet. What about audio? Pro boom poles can be expensive.

      A quick trip to the hardware store...



      An aluminum painter pole with PLASTIC end, 3/8" by 2" HANGER bolt, two 3/8" - 16 (or coarse thread) hex nuts. (~$15)

      Use a drill to tap a small hole into the plastic end. Thread one of the nuts onto the bolt side of the hanger bolt. Use that nut to tap and embed the hanger bolt into the plastic using the guide hole.

      Use the second nut for adjustment and tightening so the Mic doesn't flop around.

      Just run some extension cable from the mic down to your H2 recorder and you're all set.

      Now back to the camera. The Oly EP2 is a very small, compact, and light camera. All these things mean that your video is going to be shaky. Sure you can mount it to a tripod, that works great. But you might want to add some dynamic handheld shots to your video.



      This is a fold-up 3x LCD hood loupe, it's on sale right now at amazon.com for $52.50 shipped. This will help stabilize your shots and take some strain off of your eyes since you'll be squinting at that 3" lcd otherwise.

      The camera is still small though, and you'll want to really have a good grip on it to stabilize and feel at one with the camera.



      P&C Pistol Grip for DSLR cameras. Makes holding your camera a bit more intuitive like an old school super8 camcorder. (About $20)

      *** UPDATE ***
      *** UPDATE ***
      *** UPDATE ***

      Just got my camera goodies from Amazon.




      The setup feels really good. The handle has a nice soft rubber feel to the finish. And the loupe is great.

      Now that we have our rig coming along nicely, we need to worry about memory and file storage.



      Centon 64GB Class 10 SDXC card, I got a good deal at Woot.com. $60 shipped, that's less than $1 per GB.

      I'll shoot some test footage this weekend with the rig so there will be some examples of the stabilization.

      Approx cost of set up: $1,075

      Note: I approximated on the expensive side to account for sale prices ending and varying costs etc.

      *** END of UPDATE ***
      Last edited by JacksSenseOfRejection; 02-29-2012 at 06:57 PM.

    2. 02-22-2012 12:36 PM #2
      Great thread! I've been thinking of doing something like this and you may have pushed me over the edge.

      Out of curiosity why did you chose to use an external sound recorder over something like the SEMA-1?

      The SEMA-1 is about $100 cheaper, and you won't run into sync issues with sound. It even comes with a small stereo mic.

      It should also be noted that you can buy an EPL2 brand new for $400 if you keep an eye out, used I have seen them as low as $200.

      Finally, this really applies more to me but I thought I would make it known to all.

      If you are planning on buying a lens adapter to use older MF glass then think about options before you buy. I currently have lenses in the following mounts that I would like to use:

      Canon FD
      Pentax Screwmount (M42)
      Leica M
      Leica Screwmount (M39)

      Now I could buy 4 separate adapters, but that would be costly and take up more space. Or I could do the following:

      Leica M to Micro 4/3ds adapter
      Leica Screwmount to Leica M adapter
      Canon FD to Leica M adapter
      Pentax Screwmount to Canon FD adapter

      Now you may be saying "well you still need 4 adapters anyway" and that is true. But the difference is that the bottom 3 I have listed are typically $10 instead of $20 for the M43 adapter, they are also much thinner. Taking up way less space. I now also have a system that I can build off of. Just leaving the M43 adapter affixed to the camera. And then choosing one of the three adapters from that point on.

      If any of that made sense

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      02-22-2012 01:10 PM #3
      Quote Originally Posted by yel0wsn0 View Post

      Out of curiosity why did you chose to use an external sound recorder over something like the SEMA-1?

      The SEMA-1 is about $100 cheaper, and you won't run into sync issues with sound. It even comes with a small stereo mic.
      I had the H2 recorder already from a different project. Also with the H2 you can have someone working audio with a boom, and not be tethered to the camera.

      And with the H2 you do have, though a bit limited, control over the gain.

      And it's handy to have 2 audio sources, the boom, and the in camera audio, in case you need to patch the audio together.

      In the past I have used boom audio and camera audio to fill in gaps.

      I suppose if you wanted, you could run the SEMA-1 in addition to the Rode on a boom. This way your camera audio will be obviously better. (I might look into getting one to give it a shot).



      Quote Originally Posted by
      It should also be noted that you can buy an EPL2 brand new for $400 if you keep an eye out, used I have seen them as low as $200.
      Definitely a good note, as the price I quoted was when I bought my EPL2 which was the beginning of this past summer. So the price hadn't dropped that far down yet.
      Last edited by JacksSenseOfRejection; 02-22-2012 at 01:13 PM.

    4. Member dieselraver's Avatar
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      02-22-2012 03:54 PM #4
      can i be an extra for your next "movie"

      cool thread!

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      02-22-2012 04:37 PM #5
      Haha, maybe, might not be as exciting as you're imagining it

    6. Member twerked's Avatar
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      02-28-2012 10:04 PM #6
      correct me if i'm wrong, but i thought all micro 4/3 cameras have a 2x crop factor because of the sensor. so that 50mm lens has a 35mm equivalent focal length of 100mm..if you want a more 'true' 50mm you'd need a 25mm lens?

      i got a fotodiox m43 to canon fd adapter for my panasonic gh1, and i'm using some lenses from my old canon ae-1 on my panasonic gh1. one of the lenses is a 135mm, so when it's on the camera it's like shooting at 270mm. i also have the 50mm f/1.8 kit lens from the ae-1 and i picked up a 28mm f/2.8 lens off of ebay. i really like them, the only problem is without the image stabilization like in the kit lens, shake is VERY noticeable, jello-ing occurs very easily. so i'm pretty much using them when only on a tripod

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      02-29-2012 12:10 AM #7
      Quote Originally Posted by twerked View Post
      correct me if i'm wrong, but i thought all micro 4/3 cameras have a 2x crop factor because of the sensor. so that 50mm lens has a 35mm equivalent focal length of 100mm..if you want a more 'true' 50mm you'd need a 25mm lens?

      i got a fotodiox m43 to canon fd adapter for my panasonic gh1, and i'm using some lenses from my old canon ae-1 on my panasonic gh1. one of the lenses is a 135mm, so when it's on the camera it's like shooting at 270mm. i also have the 50mm f/1.8 kit lens from the ae-1 and i picked up a 28mm f/2.8 lens off of ebay. i really like them, the only problem is without the image stabilization like in the kit lens, shake is VERY noticeable, jello-ing occurs very easily. so i'm pretty much using them when only on a tripod
      Correct because of crop 50mm isn't true 50mm. I chose the lens because of the cost and the nice bokeh and focal depth. Pretty glass shouldn't be passed over because of the crop factor. Nor should you hemorrhage money for a full-frame camera so you get a 1:1 ratio. Besides the 35mm OM lens is 2.8 and I'd rather the faster 1.8 classic lens.

      It's really not important. Use the lens that works for the shot. That's the key.

      Jello-ing can occur even with stabilized lenses shooting on DSLR and the like. It's not so bad unless you're Michael J Fox. I've never had huge issues with it, as long as I get a good stance while shooting. You really have to have an unsteady hand or shake the camera to get the jello effect.

      But that's the whole point of the pistol stabilization that I'm working on in the above post.

      I see a lot of novice video shooters so worried about "jello-effect" or the sturdiness of their rig that they forget to frame the shot correctly, or use their surroundings in a way that benefits the composition of the piece.
      Last edited by JacksSenseOfRejection; 02-29-2012 at 12:35 AM.

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      02-29-2012 12:40 AM #8
      ^ ya, i was just saying, if someone buys a 50mm for a micro 4/3, expecting a 50mm, 35mm eq. focal distance, they're going to end up with essentially 100mm lens. the shortest focal distance i've found (without getting the panasonic pancake lens for stupid amounts of money) for the fd mount is the 28mm. i think there's a 24 or maybe something a tiny bit shorter, but the 28 works fine for me.

      and jello-ing isn't usually too much of an issue for me; especially when shooting at 60fps. i just noticed it can happen a lot easier with these lenses at 24fps. and there are some things i can use to try and fix it in post if i absolutely have to. i just try to avoid fast pans/movements..if there is any fast movement, i'll shoot 60fps.

      and i stumbled across your pistol grip a while ago. i had an old light bar i had bought in a craigslist deal and it had a screw in handle. it just so happens to fit the tripod screw hole in the camera. whoo hoo! it's been really great, i just want to find something now that i can hold the camera from a grip above the camera, for better low angle shots.. primarily following skate lines. i know there are those full on rigs you can get, like in the op, but kind of on a budget. i think one of those handle things for a shop light could actually work...

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      02-29-2012 12:54 AM #9
      Quote Originally Posted by twerked View Post
      i think one of those handle things for a shop light could actually work...
      Get low

      http://www.amazon.com/Opteka-Profess...neral_recs_101



      $30 not bad. And has a "hot shoe" type mount for mic or light.

    10. Member twerked's Avatar
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      02-29-2012 08:49 AM #10
      Quote Originally Posted by JacksSenseOfRejection View Post
      Get low

      http://www.amazon.com/Opteka-Profess...neral_recs_101



      $30 not bad. And has a "hot shoe" type mount for mic or light.
      winner winner, chicken dinner. thanks

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      02-29-2012 06:46 PM #11
      Quote Originally Posted by twerked View Post
      winner winner, chicken dinner. thanks
      Haha, no problem. I saw it the other day suggested to me by Amazon.com, so I didn't have to look too long. I like that it has 2 rails on either side for mounting extras. Always nice when a rig lets you expand.

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      02-29-2012 06:57 PM #12
      Thread updated

    13. Member twerked's Avatar
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      02-29-2012 09:48 PM #13
      Quote Originally Posted by JacksSenseOfRejection View Post
      Haha, no problem. I saw it the other day suggested to me by Amazon.com, so I didn't have to look too long. I like that it has 2 rails on either side for mounting extras. Always nice when a rig lets you expand.
      nice, i didn't even notice that at first glance. next thing i want to get is either a glidecam or a follow focus ring. there's one that uses friction, as opposed to a gear, that i'd like to get. i put one of those 'livestrong' type wristbands around my focus ring, and it makes manual focusing a lot easier, smoother and precise. not to mention being able to easily feel the difference between the zoom and focus ring. i'll take some pics of my setup and show you what i mean.

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      02-29-2012 11:24 PM #14
      Quote Originally Posted by twerked View Post
      nice, i didn't even notice that at first glance. next thing i want to get is either a glidecam or a follow focus ring. there's one that uses friction, as opposed to a gear, that i'd like to get. i put one of those 'livestrong' type wristbands around my focus ring, and it makes manual focusing a lot easier, smoother and precise. not to mention being able to easily feel the difference between the zoom and focus ring. i'll take some pics of my setup and show you what i mean.
      Might want to check this out

      http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/...r-follow-focus

    15. 03-01-2012 10:28 AM #15
      Awesome thread, I think I'll pick up that Zoom.

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      03-01-2012 03:51 PM #16
      Quote Originally Posted by spoolin215 View Post
      Awesome thread, I think I'll pick up that Zoom.
      It's a handy device. I use it's big brother the H4N for work, and the H2 for personal projects.

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      03-01-2012 10:31 PM #17
      Quote Originally Posted by JacksSenseOfRejection View Post
      that's awesome. they've gone well over their goal, so i guess production/orders should be soonish? i lost the bookmark, but there was one i saw that was like $100 or something...but at the time it wasn't released yet. i had been thinking about one of the d-focus setups, which i think i could rig up to be friction vs a gear...

      i do need some sort of audio recorder, but since most of the stuff i'm shooting now is music videos and skate videos..it hasn't really been a pressing issue.

      i picked up some stuff from craigslist today. a case, a tripod mount/extra hot shoe extender thing (i don't know what the proper term is), mini-tripod, bower digital flash and a canon eos rebel g body; all for $65. the case is better than what it had looked like in the pictures. it's one of the ones with the little foam cubes you punch out to fit your gear..and none of them had been removed yet. the only problem is the foam on the lid isn't quite long enough to support my lenses when it's closed, so i just added some foam underneath them to keep them from bouncing around.

      anyways, i took a pic of the new stuff and the rest of my gear (minus my tripod..i need a new one):


      on the far left, is my pistol grip. then the 'new' flash. in the case, long skinny metal thing is the 'extender' below that is the mini tripod with bendable legs. the two lenses parallel to each other, the one on the left is a zenitar wide angle/fisheye 16mm/f2.8, the one on the right is a tou/five star 28mm/f2.8 fd lens. the one by itself is a makinon 135mm/f2.8 fd lens. the round thing next to is is some color filters that came with the wide angle. silver camera is my dad's canon ae-1 with the canon 50mm/f1.8 lens. my dad already had the makinon from when he used the camera. the black camera is the gh1. haven't shot much lately, but i'm working on a few music videos for friends

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      03-01-2012 10:47 PM #18
      ^^^

      Great buy!

      I'm currently putting together a remote location "dummy" rig for work. We need to shoot video of people documentary bios, but we don't have the budget to fly to all of them. So I was tasked with putting together an easy to use HD video "bento box" as we called it.

      The camera had to be HD, and able to record an ext mic source. We also needed a lapel mic, a place to put the camera, and it all needed to fit in a case so we can ship it out. My budget was under $350.

      Here's what I pieced together:

      Toshiba Camileo X200 - $199.99

      http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc..._1080p_HD.html

      Sony ECM-CS10 Lav Mic - $30.28

      http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...icrophone.html

      Pelican Case - $20.19

      http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...with_Foam.html

      Transcend 32 GB Class 10 SD Card - $38.95

      http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...SDHC_Card.html

      Davis & Sandford Minipod3 - $9.99

      http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...op_Tripod.html


      Approx Total: $299.40 before tax

      All in all, I think it will be a nice set up to mail to people and have them video tape themselves.

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      03-01-2012 11:41 PM #19
      ^ that's cool. i hope the people send it back..or are they destined for one way tickets? ha

      OT: i'm not sure what to do with the rebel now...i'm thinking pinhole camera/experimental film camera....i really need to get to building a dark room

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      03-02-2012 12:03 AM #20
      Quote Originally Posted by twerked View Post
      ^ that's cool. i hope the people send it back..or are they destined for one way tickets? ha
      They have to sign a release that our lawyers write up.

    21. 03-08-2012 11:35 AM #21
      The H2 doesn't run XLR, correct? Any input on an XLR to mini adapter? They are pretty cheap, and I just remembered that I have a decent XLR shotgun mic. I also have a Sennheiser mini that I've been running on my T3i, but so far I'm not totally crazy about it. it's only marginally better than the cameras natural mic. Although I guess if I put it on a boom...

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      03-08-2012 11:58 AM #22
      Quote Originally Posted by spoolin215 View Post
      The H2 doesn't run XLR, correct? Any input on an XLR to mini adapter? They are pretty cheap, and I just remembered that I have a decent XLR shotgun mic. I also have a Sennheiser mini that I've been running on my T3i, but so far I'm not totally crazy about it. it's only marginally better than the cameras natural mic. Although I guess if I put it on a boom...
      Correct the H2 does not do XLR. You could get a XLR to Stereo Mini adapter. Just remember if that mic needs phantom power, it wont get it from the stereo mini jack. Make sure your mic is battery powered.

      Sennheiser makes some decent mics. I don't have much experience with their mini shotgun, for the one shoot I used it on it worked. But I wasn't really using it for high quality sound, just ambient recording.

    23. 03-08-2012 03:00 PM #23
      yeah both of my shotguns are battery powered

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      03-22-2012 11:59 PM #24
      got that xgrip get low thing on the way from amazon

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      03-23-2012 05:18 PM #25
      Quote Originally Posted by twerked View Post
      got that xgrip get low thing on the way from amazon
      Awesome.

      I think I'm going to order this..

      http://www.amazon.com/CowboyStudio-S.../dp/B0036NMQ7S




      For $20, it's worth a look.

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      03-23-2012 10:52 PM #26
      the pics of the chick wearing it are hilarious. it perfectly goes around her boob.

      do you have any experience with that led light panel that's in the 'related products' thing? or any suggestions for one?

      i just rehacked my gh1. bumped the bitrates for mjpeg recording at 720p/24fps @ ~75mbps in 4:2:2 color space. regular avchd is 1080p/24fps and 720p/60fps is ~50mbps. i think i'm going to tweak the mjpeg rate down a bit, with the 16gb card, i can shoot ~2 hours of the avchd 1080p/24fps footage. in mjpeg mode with that high bitrate, i can shoot about 4 minutes. i also 'unlocked' the video iso to the 3200 max (usually limited to 1600). pretty impressive low light performance, especially if using the gh1's default 'smooth b&w' setting. it cuts down on a lot of the noise and where there is noise it's really not that bad. the gh2 you can apparently go up to 12800 and in b&w the grain is very close to film.

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      03-23-2012 11:51 PM #27
      Quote Originally Posted by twerked View Post
      the pics of the chick wearing it are hilarious. it perfectly goes around her boob.

      do you have any experience with that led light panel that's in the 'related products' thing? or any suggestions for one?

      i just rehacked my gh1. bumped the bitrates for mjpeg recording at 720p/24fps @ ~75mbps in 4:2:2 color space. regular avchd is 1080p/24fps and 720p/60fps is ~50mbps. i think i'm going to tweak the mjpeg rate down a bit, with the 16gb card, i can shoot ~2 hours of the avchd 1080p/24fps footage. in mjpeg mode with that high bitrate, i can shoot about 4 minutes. i also 'unlocked' the video iso to the 3200 max (usually limited to 1600). pretty impressive low light performance, especially if using the gh1's default 'smooth b&w' setting. it cuts down on a lot of the noise and where there is noise it's really not that bad. the gh2 you can apparently go up to 12800 and in b&w the grain is very close to film.
      LED panels are ok. They're not very powerful in my experience, and you have to balance to the light which is either going to be really white without the yellow gel or really yellow.

      As for hacking the firmware of your GH1, remember you can up the ISO limitations but not the sensitivity of the sensor. That being said, if you're don't care about grain, color shift, and video fragments, go for it.

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      03-24-2012 12:02 AM #28
      yeah, the gh1 can shoot up to iso3200 in still mode, but it's maxed to 1600 in unhacked video mode. i doubt i'll actually use it much, especially now that i can use the one lens that goes to f1.8. and if i do use it, i'll just shoot in that b&w mode. i'll shoot some random footage at 3200 and post it up just for sh!ts n giggles

    29. Banned JacksSenseOfRejection's Avatar
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      Dec 5th, 2006
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      Brooklyn, NY
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      5,349
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      1986 Volvo 240
      03-24-2012 12:32 AM #29
      Quote Originally Posted by twerked View Post
      yeah, the gh1 can shoot up to iso3200 in still mode, but it's maxed to 1600 in unhacked video mode. i doubt i'll actually use it much, especially now that i can use the one lens that goes to f1.8. and if i do use it, i'll just shoot in that b&w mode. i'll shoot some random footage at 3200 and post it up just for sh!ts n giggles
      Yep, definitely post it up so we can have a look. I'm all for hacking firmware if you have the means and don't care about warranty.

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