Freitag, 1. Mai 2015

A better Grip for the Fujifilm X-E1/E2

As an user of the Fuji X-E1 I was annoyed by the rather weak ergonomic design (let's call that retro, which has established itself as a more modern term ;) ), whereas I really love the camera for its many positive aspects.

Because most available mountable grips for the camera were either too small or too expensive in my opinion, I decided to design my own, which should provide a more DSLR-Like feeling, and finally realized that through Shapeways. You may find it on my Shapeways shop.

Have fun,
Björn :)

Mittwoch, 21. Januar 2015

Important video editing Addons for Blender


If you are goingt to attend to more complex video editing with Blender, you will most likely find yourself confronted with certain limitations of Blender's capabilities.

Fortunately there are ways to come by the most problems with the help of some nice Addons! Because finding those Addons turns out rather difficult, I am going to name some of the most obvious limitations in Blender followed by the Plugin that provides a solution.

3D Lookuptable editor

Dedicated NLEs provide a way to manage your video material before adding the clips to the timeline. Blender does not allow this, but using the SunTools Addon you are able to view and trim your clips before adding them and you can even sort out clips that are not usable by hiding them in the file manager.
It works with one Blender Window but is actually designed to be used with a dual monitor setup: Duplicate the Window in Blender's info header so that you end up with two windows, each showing your timeline setup. Now you can add a file manager section to one of them and use that window to pretrim your clips and then add them to your main timeline in the other window using the operators in the plugin.
There is also an option to insert those trimmed strips as a metastrip with combined audio and video.

There is also an amazing Addon that provides the capability to tag your footage and define in- and outpoints using a slightly different approach.
It enhances your workflow significantly by making you able to manage your media in a more semantic way. And there is also a video tutorial!

Trimming strips and navigating through the timeline is not really comfortable. For example there are many situations which demand for a way to move and trim clips quickly and precisely in relation to each other and to the playhead (for example if a clip should start exactly after the previous one ends).

The SunTools Addon provides a second section called TrimTools.
It enhances the efficiency of trimming and cutting clips in the timeline by providing operators to trim a clip's starting- or endpoint to the current playhead position.
You can also select a video strip and it's according audio strip simultaneously and use a snapping operator that works in analogy to the Blender's one, moves the strip so that it's endpoint matched the playhead, not it's starting point.

There is also the very useful Jump to Cut addon. It moves the playhead to the nearest start- and endpoints of clips in the desired direction. It is a good Idea to assign this functions to shortcuts via Blender's user preferences. Simply hover over a button of the plugin and add the python command shown in the tooltip to new hotkey.

My setting is: Q to jump left, W to jump left and Shift+Q and Shift+W to trim the start and endpoint to the playhead using TrimTools. Those addons play together very nicely!

Then there are the sequencer extra actions. It's a great toolset which adds essential functions. The Wiki Page speaks for itself!

The color grading and compositing features in the VSE are rudimentary while Blender comes with a great nodal compositor that cannot be used in the sequencer directly. What a pity!

This addon tries to unleash Blender's great grading capabilities by offering a way to grade sequencer clips in the nodal compositor.
(Because the initial developer is not active in the thread anymore, the recent download links are found on the last pages.)

The most NLEs provide an intuitive way to transform clips in the canvas.
This unique Addon adds exactly this functionality to Blender! Personally I have been waiting for such a feature for a long time.

The video tracking features of Blender are exceptional and we may use them for proper video stabilization!

And then there is something much more experimental:
The LUT Editor is capable to use Blender's features as a 3D editor to edit 3D Lookuptables. The caveat is that you have to recompile Blender to use the addon...

Generally it is a good idea to assign those important functions to shortcuts. It will take some time to understand how to use those addons efficinetly, but it the end there is a chance that you will gain a very intuitive and fast workflow!

Now have a try and enjoy experimenting! ;)

By the way:
I don't like the idea of disturbing your reading experience by showing annoying ads on my Blog. Yet, writing articles takes a meaningful amount of time, so as you can read in the right column of my blog, if you would like to say "thank you" for the hopefully useful posts, you can easily do this by making your next Amazon purchase using the links provided in the "Note" box. It won't cost you anything more, but helps me keeping this blog running! Thanks! :)

Freitag, 12. Dezember 2014

Physicist's everyday

Inspired by my study of physics and enriched by a touch of self-irony the idea of this little comic strip crossed my mind :)

In English: Tidiness is for the dumb ones because the genius DOMINATES OVER THE CHAOS!!!

Dienstag, 2. Dezember 2014

RJ Lens Turbo Review

Probably most of you are familiar with the principle of Focal Reducers. If you are not, you might find this short explanation very inspiring.
Whilst the first product of this kind, the metabones speed booster, conmes up with a rather high price tag, there are already some lower-end alternatives and I have decided to go for one of those myself. The product I have picked in the end is the Speed Booster / Lens Turbo from RJ because you can find many positive reviews and it offers two special features: The
first is an aperture control ring for Nikon G lenses which is essential if you are going to use modern lenses. The second thing is the tripod mount shell which comes with the adapter and is important if heavy lenses will be used.

Those facts imply that the RJ should be a good pick, alright? So let us go a bit further and take a look at the actual performance and build quality of the adapter!

1. Build quality
The Adapter consists of a massive metal body that feels well made. There are some reports about other products revealing a misaligned flange distance as soon as you try to focus to infinity which is a major problem and renders the adapter unusable. 
But the RJ is different: As soon as a little screw, found at the side of the mount, is loosened, you are able to align the optical unit and adjust the flange distance.

There is one important thing to mention: The aperture is controlled mechanically by a little stick which is connected to the aperture Ring. The length of that stick is also adjustable with a little screw and you should alway check that length before you mount a new lens to the adapter. I did not when I mounted my Tamron 17-50mm lens and unfortunately the stick's protrusion was so large that it scratched the inner mount of my lens!

This inconspicuous pin turned out to be nasty!
Turn this to keep the heck in check!
Mounting the camera and lens on the adapter turned out to work very well: The RJ mounts very precisely with little play.

2. Image Quality
After we have seen that the adapter is well made, it is time to face the most important aspect: The image quality.
You can find many sample images from the adapter in the internet and examining them will most probably lead you to an impression that correlates with my findings: The adapter produces quite sharp images even at wide apertures. Yet, at higher aperture values there will appear a special kind of lens flare in the shape of a blue spot in the center of the image if there is a light source in front of the camera. This is not an issue in real life if you are not a landscape photographer who is dependent on small apertures, but should be mentioned. There is also a slight green cast introduced by the adapter which does not pose difficulties also, because it may be corrected in post very quickly and even on many cameras on set.

Yet, while the most Sample Images tend to look very promising, tack sharp from corner to corner, I have encountered serious edge softness with my copy on Micro Four Thirds cameras. Though the image center appears really sharp, there is a noticable decease of resolution in the corners, coming along with strong vignetting and distortion!

This issue is most present on short focal lengths with my Tamron 17-55mm, but still a bit noticeable with longer lenses.
After I had written to the RJ support regarding the Image quality, they recommended to try the flange distance adjustment. Unfortuntely I was unable to achieve an improvement by doing so and in consequence I decided to write an other email to ask about the fact that the most images in the web appear to be flawless and get an explanation if either I could have gotten a bad copy or there is a general problem with the quality of their adapters.
I have written to them two times and haven't gotten an answer in over one month. I guess that it is up to you to decide about the integrity of that company for yourself.
As you see on those samples, the adapter is unusable for serious use on mft cameras for which it is constructed and advertised.

So is it all bad in the end? Fortunately not because the adapter DOES produce a really decent image in the center and I found out that my Black Magic Pocket Camera, thanks to it's Super16mm Sensor, does only cover the sharper center of the Image so that the RJ Speed Booster turned out as a superb match for that camera! My Tamron gains one full stop of light and an usable amount of wide angle on the BMPCC. That is the reason why I am still satisfied with that product in a certain way.

But would I buy the RJ again or even recommend it to somebody?
No, I wouldn't because I feel cheated due to the lack of optical quality and the "unreliable" support. In the end this experience implies the conclusion that it might be worth spending some more money to get a reliable product from a more trustworthy company.

By the way:
As you can read in the right column of my blog, if you would like to say "thank you" for the hopefully useful posts, you can easily do this by making your next Amazon purchase using the links provided in the "Note" box. It won't cost you anything more, but helps me keeping this blog running! Thanks! :)