BRENT LESTAGE PHOTOGRAPHY: Blog https://www.brentlestage.com/blog en-us (C) 2022 BRENT LESTAGE PHOTOGRAPHY, LLC mail@brentlestage.com (BRENT LESTAGE PHOTOGRAPHY) Wed, 19 Oct 2022 23:07:00 GMT Wed, 19 Oct 2022 23:07:00 GMT https://www.brentlestage.com/img/s/v-12/u743488497-o364028065-50.jpg BRENT LESTAGE PHOTOGRAPHY: Blog https://www.brentlestage.com/blog 120 90 Bolex-Rolex: An Unusual Pairing of Swiss Precision Timekeeping Tools https://www.brentlestage.com/blog/2022/10/bolex-rolex-an-unusual-pairing-of-swiss-precision-timekeeping-tools

The venerable Bolex Rex-5 16mm motion picture camera was and still is a mechanical timekeeping marvel, engineered to intermittently pull 16mm double-perforated motion picture film through a precision spring-wound movement at highly-accurate frame rates ranging from 12-64 frames per second. It combines a versatile 3-lens turret with an improved 13x reflex viewfinder (on later production models such as this), making this compact hand-holdable design a go-anywhere, battery-free, professional filmmaking machine.

Pictured here with the Bolex is the Rolex GMT-Master II (reference #16710) automatic watch in stainless steel with a bi-directional rotating “Pepsi” bezel. First issued to Pan Am Airways flight crews in the 1950’s, this later model GMT-Master II is an Officially Certified Superlative Chronometer accurate to +/- 2 sec. per day, and can track three separate timezones simultaneously at a glance.

Also seen here is a Vintage Rolex Submariner (reference #5513) automatic diver’s watch from 1979 in stainless steel, featuring a unidirectional rotating bezel and Rolex’s patented Triplock winding crown for waterproof operation to depths of 200 metres. This highly-desirable example features a well-patina’d black Mk III maxi “Lollipop” dial.

Lastly, a Rolex Submariner Date (reference #16613) automatic diver’s watch seen here in 18kt gold and stainless steel. Known as the “Bluesy” with its striking, radiating blue dial and beautiful gilt text, this Submariner Date is an Officially Certified Superlative Chronometer accurate to +/- 2-sec. per day, and is waterproof to 300 metres.

Both the Bolex and Rolex are striking examples of precision tools designed to gauge and to later recall life’s precious moments by giving form and meaning to time in different ways. In all their complexity, one message is clear —Time is fleeting. Use your time wisely.

~ Brent

Ed. note - My fascination with these two iconic Swiss brands dates back to the early 1970’s when I became aware of the power of film and enamored with the life of adventure promoted by notable explorers, artists, scientists and athletes of the day. The camera and watches are from my personal collection.
 

 

 

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mail@brentlestage.com (BRENT LESTAGE PHOTOGRAPHY) 16mm Bluesy Bolex Bolex Rex V Bolex Rex-5 Bolex-Rolex GMT-Master II Pepsi Rex-5 Rolex Submariner Swiss Timekeeping https://www.brentlestage.com/blog/2022/10/bolex-rolex-an-unusual-pairing-of-swiss-precision-timekeeping-tools Tue, 04 Oct 2022 05:15:00 GMT
Canon EOS R5 Ultimate Cinema Rig https://www.brentlestage.com/blog/2022/9/canon-eos-r5-ultimate-cinema-rig

In my seemingly never-ending quest for the perfect mirrorless hybrid stills/video camera, I have found, at least for the moment, nirvana in the form of the Canon EOS R5 camera and the following plethora of cinema rig-building accessories.

I use the R5 and 5DS R for stills, and I wanted the R5 to perform a dual role. For video, I shoot mainly interviews and related b-roll, and have tried to keep my approach to capturing subject-matter simple. It’s a bit ironic that, in order to arrive at simplicity, I’ve had to navigate a lot of the complexities and idiosyncrasies of this camera to actually make the end-result seem natural and effortless.

The R5, at its best, is a high-megapixel full-frame wonder-of-a stills camera, with incredibly responsive eye-detection autofocus and impressive low-light performance; at its worst —a hot running, power-hungry, fidgety, unbalanced quasi-video gadget. Arriving at a place where this camera can intuitively and ergonomically perform well as a reliable professional tool in the video domain required some trial and error. Building a lightweight versatile cine-style rig was key.

What follows is a brief description of my component choices and how/why I use them, in order to help you gain insight in designing a rig and camera system that may best suit your needs.


Base & LWRS

The SmallRig Camera Base Plate w/15mm Rod Clamp and SmallRig 4" aluminum rods offers the most flexible system versatility, provides a flat, balanced footprint and, when combined with the SmallRig 15mm quick release base adapter, gives the operator instant on/off camera attachment.

This is the heart of my rig system build-out.

Cage, Top Handle & Accessories

Beginning with the SmallRig CF half-Cage, I added a basic SmallRig NATO rail adapter to accommodate a Nitze Lil Stinger NATO handle w/quick-release. All told, in this configuration, there are over 40 mounting points to add various accessories. A SmallRig wooden handle attached to the 15mm rods completes the Base/LWRS via an Arri rosette clamp. Worth noting is that the wooden handle is more than just for good looks. It provides extra purchase in wet conditions and is warmer than steel or aluminum when used in colder environs.

On-Board Video Monitor

I chose the Atomos Shinobi 5” 4K HDMI Monitor. It is very sharp, bright and lightweight, and offers an extensive array of touchscreen features (focus enhancers, scopes, frame lines, anamorphic de-squeeze, LUTs, etc.). I have also added the Atomos Accessory power adapter to enable powering from my on-board battery and use a coiled Micro-HDMI to HDMI cable for mounting versatility when on/off the SmallRig monitor mount/EVF bracket.

It is important to note that the Shinobi comes in two flavors; HDMI and SDI. Get the SDI version should you need to add a piggyback client monitor output from this device. Also important to note is that the SmallRig CF Half-Cage provides one of the most solid (and essential) locking mechanisms I have encountered to-date to secure your tiny, Mini-HDMI cable end to the camera.

Power

It was important to me that the entire rig be powered by a single power source that wasn’t too large or too heavy. The CAME-TV mini v-mount batteries offered the best solution, include (2) D-Tap and (1) USB outlets, and provide 99Wh and 6875mAh, which can power the entire rig for about 5-hrs continuously. I keep (3) batteries in rotation.

Adapting to this powering option is via a Nitze power distribution/v-mount quick-release adapter mated to a  Niceyrig battery mounting cheeseplate. The Nitze houses (2) D-Tap and (2) DC jacks. Cabling is via a coiled D-tap power cable w/LP6N dummy battery (shown in blue) to power the R5, and a short DC TRS power tap cable for the Atomos Shinobi monitor.

Lens Accessories

I use the Schneider-Tiffen Series 9 filter adapter and Rubber Wide-Angle Lens Hood on all my Canon RF lenses (shown above with the Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L IS USM), mainly because I had already invested in Series 9 filters. With the 15mm rod system, of course, you can add a matte box and/or follow focus system of your choice.

Sound

I use a Tentacle Sync E MkII time code sync box w/quick-release mount (read my separate blog/review) for all of my important sound recording needs. The accessory quick-release is an elegant aluminum mounting bracket solution for your cage or rig, and it takes the place of the standard Tentacle-included Velcro option providing a surer connection to camera. Tentacle provides a short 3.5mm audio cable with their Sync E’s, but I prefer a 3.5mm coiled audio time code cable (shown in red) for extending my mounting options.

So, that’s it for the moment. The thing about these rigs is that they constantly change with one’s needs. After much trial and error, however, I feel that this route is proving the most useful. Stay tuned!


~ Brent

 

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mail@brentlestage.com (BRENT LESTAGE PHOTOGRAPHY) Atomos Shinobi Brent Lestage Blog Canon EOS R5 Cinema Rig Canon EOS R5 Video Cine Rig SmallRig Tentacle Sync https://www.brentlestage.com/blog/2022/9/canon-eos-r5-ultimate-cinema-rig Tue, 27 Sep 2022 20:48:47 GMT
EyeDirect - It’s Personal https://www.brentlestage.com/blog/2022/9/eyedirect---it-s-personal

Why are visual media content creators and, especially, documentarians still conducting off-camera interviews with invisible hosts? I ask this rhetorical question out of annoyance with the often unchallenged conventions and ‘standard practices’ used that are neither motivated by common sense nor objectivity.

The off-camera news-style interview so commonly used accomplishes two basic things; it provides an opportunity to include a host, reporter or interviewer into the visual story conversation; and it supports the illusion of an invisible imaginary wall separating actors from the audience —a performance convention known as the ‘Fourth Wall.’ Conventionally, it is deemed unacceptable for an actor or most subjects appearing on-camera to look directly at the camera lens (thus breaking the Fourth Wall), for fear of this illusion being destroyed.

However, in non-scripted drama, or especially when this technique is used in interview situations that are of a deeply personal, revealing nature —or when there is no chance of the audience ever seeing who is actually conducting the interviews, I find it to be extremely ineffective and annoying.

Haven’t you ever wondered why someone you were watching onscreen was speaking to a person offscreen who was never mentioned or seen, and not directly to you? It feels unnatural and impersonal, right? The logical alternative to this would be to get the subjects to look and speak directly to the camera lens. However, this is much easier said than done, as inexperienced non-actor/subjects get noticeably uncomfortable revealing their most personal, intimate thoughts to you while looking into the psychological abyss of a glass lens.

Enter the “Interrotron” —a two-way teleprompter-based interviewing device that transplants an interviewer’s face directly in front of the camera lens, first employed effectively by filmmaker Errol Morris’ in 1997 on his Oscar-Winning documentary THE FOG OF WAR. This new technique was innovative and, in a sense, revolutionary. However, the physical set-up added a new layer of complexity and was cumbersome, as it required the use of an additional camera, two teleprompters, cabling and power.

Fast forward several years to another filmmaker-inspired incarnation of the Interrotron —the EyeDirect. This simple and uncomplicated device does just what the Interrotron does, but in a smaller, more portable package. Utilizing a mirror box and prism instead of an additional camera, teleprompters et al, setup time is reduced considerably and ease of use enhanced.

The effective use of this technique is extremely powerful —one that I personally feel should be used far more frequently than it is. Finally, there can be a direct and personal connection between the subject and audience, as this example demonstrates.

Full disclosure: I am an owner-operator of the EyeDirect system.

~ Brent

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mail@brentlestage.com (BRENT LESTAGE PHOTOGRAPHY) Brent Lestage Blog EyeDirect Folding Mark E Filming Interviews Interrotron Telepromptor https://www.brentlestage.com/blog/2022/9/eyedirect---it-s-personal Tue, 27 Sep 2022 14:52:15 GMT
Tentacle Sync E MkII Review https://www.brentlestage.com/blog/2022/9/tentacle-sync-e-mkii-review Tentacle Sync E - Content - Standard SetTentacle Sync E - Content - Standard Set

These tiny sync boxes are incredible problem solvers. With their built-in rechargeable batteries lasting 35-hours on a single USB charge, you can mount them anywhere and cable them to virtually any device with an audio or time code input (including phones). They sync via Bluetooth to an app you install on your phone/tablet or can be jammed to an external time code device or recorder employing SMPTE time code (like my Sound Devices 633). Just set and forget —it’s that simple!

The Sync E’s provide audio timecode out on CH-1 and have a built-in reference mic audio out signal via CH-2 when using the provided 3.5mm TRS audio cable. Tentacle also sells other accessory audio and time code connecting cables to adapt to virtually any camera.

The synching software that Tentacle provides (Tentacle Sync Studio) makes synching files as easy as dragging and dropping them onto the main sync window. You can then export the file pointers to your NLE of choice as XML (Adobe Premier Pro or Final Cut Pro) or as AAF (Avid Media Composer), or export them as media (self-contained QuickTime movie clips). So versatile is this system, especially in creating Multicam Clips, that you could literally sync a hundred different cameras together in an instant! Of course though, you’d need a hundred Tentacles! ;-)

Believe me when I say that these are indispensable tools. As a production sound mixer, I spent many years in the trenches dealing with sync sound solutions, and my weapon of choice when dealing with DSLR or mirrorless video has always been the professional double-system digital sound recorder with time code for capturing primary audio. Even professional camcorder designs often do not measure up to matching the same high-level signal to noise ratios and recording redundancy options as the professional digital recorder.

Now with the Sync E’s, mostly gone are the days of trying to get usable sound directly into these cameras with their tiny, noisy and fragile inputs. Mirrorless/DSLR/Hybrid cameras, by nature, are designed to be smaller, lighter and less cumbersome than professional cinema/video camcorders. This is the beauty of their design. Therefore, there are quality trade-offs and compromises inherent to their audio circuitry and input design. Bypassing camera audio in favor of recording to a separate professional digital recorder is always preferable.

However, that is not to say that it is always practical. There will likely still be instances where you must send audio to these cameras. In past attempts, I achieved fairly good results sending a useable wireless reference audio feed to camera via a tiny Sennheiser AVX wireless camera microphone system —but I always, always, ALWAYS recorded redundant double-system sound on my primary recorder.

The Tentacle Sync E’s are a superior solution for synching audio with frame accurate time code. No more setting audio levels, monitoring battery condition, listening for dropouts… no more cumbersome mounts and specialty cables to deal with. Do yourself a favor and order the Standard Set. Time is now on your side.

~ Brent

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mail@brentlestage.com (BRENT LESTAGE PHOTOGRAPHY) Audio Time Code Solution Brent Lestage Blog Tentacle Sync Tentacle Sync E Tentacle Sync E MkII Review Time Code Time Code Sync https://www.brentlestage.com/blog/2022/9/tentacle-sync-e-mkii-review Tue, 27 Sep 2022 14:23:20 GMT
Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM Lens Review https://www.brentlestage.com/blog/2021/4/canon-ef-400mm-f/2-8l-is-usm-lens-review
As a portrait/headshot photographer, it’s not often that I get to use lenses greater than 200mm, so when I had an opportunity to try the venerable Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM Super Telephoto lens, I was awestruck.

This lens is a BEAST! It has a front element that measures nearly 6.5-in diameter, weighs just shy of 12-lbs, is built like a tank and is fully weather-sealed. This is a lens designed for sports and wildlife photography and the associated rigors of professional use.

Since it’s release, the EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM has undergone two revisions... a version II and III —both improving on size and weight reduction, as well as improved lens coatings and sharpness. However, of the three incarnations, this original version is my favorite —mainly due to its no-compromise construction. It’s the kind of iconic exotic lens that says, “no matter what you are attempting to photograph, under virtually any environmental condition, I will not fail you.”

Yes, you can handhold this lens (if you have Olympic weightlifter arms), and it fares well on a sturdy monopod but, for ultimate control and stability, you will certainly welcome a tripod —preferably with a large load rating and a gimbal head (WIMBERLEY or equivalent). And, since the front element is so large, the use of 52mm drop-in filters are a must.

You should also exercise caution using this lens in direct sunlight in order not to; A.) permanently blind yourself, and B.) melt your camera’s mirror and/or imaging sensor and internal components. So, ALWAYS REMEMBER TO USE THE LENS CAP when not in use.

The images you can get with this fast, tack-sharp (edge-to-edge) lens are nothing short of amazing. The background separation and 3D image quality makes virtually every subject pop. Autofocus is very fast for a lens this size and with such a massive amount of glass to move. Rounding out its many useful and desirable features, Canon’s Internal Stabilization makes this fast lens even more versatile in low-light conditions.

If 400mm comes up short for your needs, I suggest adding the Canon EF 1.4x Extender II, increasing this len’s focal length to 560mm (full frame) @f/4. I do not recommend the 2x extender, as image softness is more noticeable and you will lose another stop of light.

For use in portrait photography —specifically environmental portrait photography, this lens would be considered “special purpose”, cumbersome and somewhat cost-prohibitive, but I feel that it yields a quality like no other —with amazing background compression and separation.

I highly-recommend giving this incredible lens a shot! (pun intended)

~ Brent

 

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mail@brentlestage.com (BRENT LESTAGE PHOTOGRAPHY) Brent Lestage Blog Canon 5DS R Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM Lens Canon Lens Review Canon Super Telephoto https://www.brentlestage.com/blog/2021/4/canon-ef-400mm-f/2-8l-is-usm-lens-review Sun, 11 Apr 2021 20:44:56 GMT
Mini Review: Canon EOS 5DS R https://www.brentlestage.com/blog/2020/10/review-canon-eos-5ds-r
The 50.6 megapixel monster —Canon 5DS R.

Offering what amounts to medium-format quality in a DSLR body is a truly remarkable accomplishment. For those seeking extra “pop” or who like to crop, this camera delivers. The full-frame sensor captures massive amounts of detail due to its pixel density and low-pass filter rendered neutral.

With all those pixels crammed together, the trade off is that the camera does suffer a bit with low-light sensitivity and noise at high ISO’s but, there are few situations (if any) requiring me to venture above 1600 ISO (the 5DS R maxes out at 12800 ISO). Because I shoot mainly in the studio at low ISO (100-400) and have complete control over lighting and exposure, working at high ISO with its associated noise is pretty much a non-issue.

On the subject of DSLRs vs. the increasingly-popular mirrorless designs, I am not shy about admitting that I often prefer the former when it comes to shooting stills —especially in high-pressure situations. I like looking through glass. The 5DS R’s optical reflex viewfinder is big and bright, and I appreciate seeing all the glorious detail while enjoying zero lag, superior battery life and a camera body that doesn’t heat up like a kiln-fired brick.

Despite its massive file sizes (max. image resolution is 8688 x 5792), the 5DS R still cranks out shots at 5fps continuous and offers a quiet, responsive, vibration-free shutter and a robust, weather-sealed, magnesium-alloy body. Married to Canon’s top-of-the-line L-Series glass, you have a perfect Hi-Rez combo.

Finally, the 5DS R provides USB 3.0 compatibility for fast performance when tethering, and a reinforced tripod plate to provide for secure attachments to all professional support systems.

Since the introduction of Canon’s latest R-Series mirrorless cameras and, with the R5 currently replacing the 5DS R, one can find some really great deals on this body (new or used).

Your subject awaits!

~ Brent

 

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mail@brentlestage.com (BRENT LESTAGE PHOTOGRAPHY) Brent Lestage Blog Canon Canon 5DS R Canon EOS 5DS R Review Portrait Photography https://www.brentlestage.com/blog/2020/10/review-canon-eos-5ds-r Thu, 08 Oct 2020 03:25:55 GMT
7Artisans 35mm f/2 Lens Review and Comparison https://www.brentlestage.com/blog/2019/10/7artisans-35mm-f/2-lens-review-and-comparison

Recently, I had the opportunity to compare the Chinese-made 7Artisans 35mm f/2 to the Leica Summarit-M 35mm f/2.5 lens.

Based on the Zeiss Sonnar design and affectionately dubbed the ‘Chinacron’ (after favorable comparisons to the Leica 35mm Summicron), the first thing about the 7Artisans that struck me was its solid build-quality and heft. Weighing in at approximately 230 grams, it is made primarily of brass and aluminum and comes in a nice matte black finish.

With its Leica M-mount designation and mechanical linkage, it meshes seamlessly with all Leica M rangefinder focusing systems. All reference marks are engraved and paint-filled. The detents on the aperture ring are firm and click lively into place. The focus ring is well-damped with good throw, and is permanently-mated to a metal thumb lever. Lastly, the lens front accepts threaded 43mm filters and offers 6-digit Leica encoding on the rear lens mount (more on this later).

An immediate observation I had with this lens is that it actually sees more 40mm than it’s stated 35mm focal length spec —which I actually prefer using on my M8, as it gives me a 50mm standard prime FOV via its 1.33x cropped sensor —Great for walk-around shooting or environmental portraiture.

Edge-sharpness wide-open at f/2 may suffer a tad, but I believe it is what gives this lens a vintage feel. At smaller apertures, edge-sharpness becomes insignificant. In fact, when stopped-down to f/4 and beyond, it performs nearly identically to Leica’s world-class 35mm Summicron —hence its ‘Chinacron’ moniker. I strongly feel that the 7Artisans exhibits more 3D pop and better bokeh than the Leica Summarit. Overall, this lens has character!

When files are imported into Capture One, the EXIF lens data displays ‘Leica Summicron-M 35mm f/2 ASPH’ —an ID/correction feature which can be menu-enabled or disabled via my M8 prior to shooting. I recently learned that 7Artisans has discontinued 6-bit encoded versions of this lens, explaining that the Summicron-applied correction is inaccurate. While this may be true, I actually believe it has more to do with the 7Artisans lens being falsely identified as a Leica product. Personally, I prefer the 6-bit copy over the newer non-coded version, if for nothing more than having the option of applying auto lens correction (accurate or not).

As for the Leica... I found the 35mm Summarit-M, well... clinically boring. Sure, it is a beautifully-made lens. It is more economically-priced than its Summicron sibling. It is sharper overall. It’s engraved markings are easier to read and slightly more useful than the 7Artisans. It is also slightly smaller (it takes 39mm filters) and lighter (220g) —but, image-wise, I feel it offers nothing remarkable over the 7Artisans for all practical purposes.

In fact, when choosing between these two great lenses, it really made no sense for me to pair this particular Leica lens with my M8. Any gains in edge-sharpness are negated by the 1.33x sensor crop, its maximum aperture is a third of a stop slower @f/2.5, and it costs 4x more (used) than the 7Artisans! So, for my purposes, I chose the 7Artisans as a fast, versatile, affordable prime (see comparison shots and sample photos below).

~ Brent

Leica Summarit-M 35mm f/2.5Leica Summarit-M 35mm f/2.5

7Artisans 35mm f/2 w/Leica 6-bit encoding
Leica Summarit-M 35mm f/2.5 (Leica M8)
7Artisans 35mm f/2 (Leica M8)
Leica Summarit-M 35mm f/2.5 (Leica M8)
7Artisans 35mm f/2 (Leica M8)
Leica Summarit-M 35mm f/2.5 (Leica M8) 7Artisans 35mm f/2 (Leica M8) Bartender (Leica M8, 7Artisans 35mm f/2) Morning Window (Leica M8, 7Artisans 35mm f/2)
Leica M8 w/Leica Summarit-M 35mm f/2 lens, rectangular hood and UV/IR cut filter Leica M8 w/7Artisans 35mm f/2 lens and generic vented hood

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mail@brentlestage.com (BRENT LESTAGE PHOTOGRAPHY) 7artisans 35mm f/2 brent lestage blog leica m8 leica summarit-m 35mm f/2.5 lens review and comparison https://www.brentlestage.com/blog/2019/10/7artisans-35mm-f/2-lens-review-and-comparison Mon, 14 Oct 2019 20:37:52 GMT
Leica M8: Less Can Be More https://www.brentlestage.com/blog/2019/9/leica-m8-less-can-be-more For me, great photography is a communion between the subject and the photographer. You have to give something in order to receive. You have to be present in the moment —open, thoughtful, reactive. Some of the best photos I have ever seen are representative of this process. They are like great paintings.

New product sales reps and photo-tech influencers would like you to believe that they are advancing the craft of picture-taking by taking the “guesswork” out of the equation by offering photographers a million menu options, lightning-fast autofocus and ultra-sensitive ISO’s. I argue that the guesswork they are referring to is actually, in essence, the rewarding process of Photography itself.

In this brave new world of endless and unnecessary upgrades, you are constantly exposed to marketing hype which attempts to convince you that you need more when, in reality, you don’t. Planned obsolescence merely serves to line the pockets of corporations whose very existence now depends upon this paradigm.

Inspiration comes from understanding and overcoming limitations. What some would view or dismiss as irrelevant older camera technology simply don’t understand what Photography actually is about. Understanding limitations rewards creativity.

The Leica M8 is a 10+ year-old digital M-series camera (actually, Leica’s first) that, as I write this in late 2019, still manages to excite, inspire and reward users. It lacks just about all the bells and whistles inherent on virtually every digital camera made today. But, this little block of magnesium alloy and brass, uncluttered —with just a simple shutter speed dial and rangefinder, is a creative thinking person’s camera.

In the hand, it is a joy to behold simply because it is just about as uncomplicated as a digital camera can get —a testament to Leica’s minimalist design philosophy. And, to the eye, the images this camera produces, with its modest by today’s standards 10.5MP Kodak CCD sensor, are beautiful, film-like and organic.

The M8 has no live-view, gets noisy above 640 ISO, and its RAW buffer is abysmally slow. But, the beauty of the M8 is that it forces you to think more about the shot —to take it all in... and become a more contemplative photographer, rather than just a spray and pray documentarian.

Some of the best things in life are simple, and some of the best moments in life can be captured with less. The Leica M8 is proof of this.

~ Brent

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mail@brentlestage.com (BRENT LESTAGE PHOTOGRAPHY) Brent Lestage Blog Leica Leica M8 Review Leica M8: Less Can Be More M8 https://www.brentlestage.com/blog/2019/9/leica-m8-less-can-be-more Sat, 21 Sep 2019 03:15:46 GMT
Abstract: The Art of Design (on Netflix) https://www.brentlestage.com/blog/2018/7/abstract-the-art-of-design-on-netflix It’s not often that a documentary series about art and design can leave me wanting for more, but the Netflix series Abstract: The Art of Design did just that. The series explores more than just the great work of artists and designers the likes of Platon, Christoph Niemann and Paula Scher, among others. It masterfully exposes their talents, methodologies and motivations. This isn’t the kind of documentary that stands still. Expertly produced, photographed, sound recorded and edited, ABSTRACT inspires. Check out the Season One official trailer here.

~ Brent

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mail@brentlestage.com (BRENT LESTAGE PHOTOGRAPHY) Abstract: The Art of Design Art Brent Lestage Blog Christoph Niemann Design Documentary Netflix Paula Scher Photography Platon https://www.brentlestage.com/blog/2018/7/abstract-the-art-of-design-on-netflix Fri, 27 Jul 2018 20:41:16 GMT
Fujifilm XT-2 Mini Review https://www.brentlestage.com/blog/2018/7/Fujifilm-XT-2-Mini-Review I have a confession. I love cameras. And I have used quite a few of them throughout my career. Problem is, nowadays it’s hard to find a standout. Everything seems so... vanilla.

As a longtime Canon user, I had downsized my multi-purpose stills/video shooting package to the venerable 5D Mark IV and a handful of fast L-Series lenses, and seemed quite satisfied until... I had an opportunity to try the tiny, yet formidable Fujifilm X-T2.

I was excited. For the first time since owning one of the first digital Leica models, I wanted to take this camera with me everywhere. There was so much to like - It’s diminutive size and weight, the intuitiveness of its control layout, retro styling, fast and compact lens choices, the organic film-like image quality, etc.. Needless to say, after shooting with it, I must say that I am duly impressed.

What I Like.

The color science. Fujifilm has always been a leading innovator and supplier of still and motion picture film. With tried and true film simulations like Provia, Velvia, Astia, among others, they have mastered the many different tonal “looks” photographers desire. I find it refreshing that, in an age of non-committal RAW imaging, my straight-out-of-camera JPG images need virtually no enhancement.

The intuitive camera body. Featuring a bright, detailed and massive EVF, it makes composing/framing and confirming focus/settings a breeze. Dual card slots, physical dials and controls, programmable function buttons and custom menus round out its professional, weather sealed body.

The lenses. Fujifilm has apparently been hard at work perfecting their optics. The X-Series "R" designated lenses are fast, compact, built predominately of metal and have manual aperture rings that click sure and true in thirds of a stop. My favorite Fujifilm X-mount lenses are the 16mm f/1.4 R WR, 35mm Mitakon Zhongyi Speedmaster II f/0.95, XF 56mm f/1.2 R primes and the XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR zoom lens. 

Digital Cinema. What applies to the JPG color science mentioned above also applies to video. The UHD 4K images are exceptional! Adding to its long list of motion picture functionality, and combined with the exceptional Fujinon MKX 50-135mm T2.9 Cinema Lens, variable frame rates, time-lapse and a Fujifilm LOG profile for increased dynamic range, I now have a capable and unobtrusive storytelling machine in miniature. Sure, there are Arri’s and Red’s... they have their well-earned places on larger productions but, for less demanding corporate interviews and b-roll, Fujifilm knocks it out of the park!

Firmware and Support. Finally, Fujifilm has a demonstrated track record of standing behind their professional users, offering stellar product support and free feature-laden firmware upgrades and enhancements uncommon in this competitive industry. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

~ Brent

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mail@brentlestage.com (BRENT LESTAGE PHOTOGRAPHY) Brent Lestage Blog Fujifilm Fujifilm MKX 50-135mm T2.9 Fujifilm X-T2 Fujifilm X-T2 Review Mirrorless XH-1 X-T2 https://www.brentlestage.com/blog/2018/7/Fujifilm-XT-2-Mini-Review Fri, 27 Jul 2018 18:38:52 GMT