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  • Sony FS7 on DJI Ronin-M? Yes, you can!

      Looking online about this setup did not give you much detail so I decided to get a try and succeed to balance and use such setup. Please find below my detailed explanation. This is not in the DJI Ronin-M specifications, but if you have a setup already balanced before turning on the motors, it will work as only a little energy is needed to fight the movements.

      First, my assignment was for the Auto Show at Shanghai 2017 where we should quickly go for few stabilizes motion shot, to more details and static shot on tripod. I wanted to get a very simple way to switch from one to another without the need of any tools; the camera chosen by my client, Renault innovation was a Sony FS7.

      I successfully tested the full size DJI Ronin with a Sony FS7 before, but the size of the gimbal and its weight is a killer if you don’t have a way to support it with an Easyrig backpack or similar. This is heavy and not practical in a fair environment. With the smaller Ronin-M, you can get inside cars and keep shooting for way longer time.

      The first question was to pick up the right lens. I assume that only wide shot will be done this way and so pick up the great Sony SEL1018 10 to 18mm crop sensor lens which is also a perfect match with the 18-110 Sony cine lens. It saves a lot of space in my bag and it cover an amazing range altogether. The SEL1018 is about 250 grams, and quite short, the lens do not extend, cover the equivalent of a 15 to 27mm full frame and is stabilized. It’s also not to expensive considering all of this. The maximum aperture is 4 (only) but it’s not a problem as I prefer to get more things in focus in a wide shot.

      The second challenge was to get the camera body stripped at maximum and able to go back to a regular shoulder ENG in less than a minute without any tools.

      To support me, the great Smallrig team offered me few items to get this working. I have put the item number and I strongly suggest you gave them your preference when trying to build the same rig.
      I built my setup using their long NATO rail that I simply screw to the large 3/8″ hole after removing my camera handle.

    The screws needed a small adaptor to fit a 1/2″; that’s the only trouble for now, but Smallrig is working on modifying this to let a NATO rail go on top of FS7 directly.
      I also used their handgrip (#1963) with a locker on a rosette (#1272, #1255) to change orientation when going from gimbal to ENG style.

      I put another small NATO rail (#1195) on top of their Ronin frame (#1704) so I can use the same handle on camera or on the Ronin. I use 2 others of their lockers (#1816) to hold the Sony screen and the second one for the camera hand-grip and remove the DJI’s one.

       I just needed a 90 degree rosette adapter (#1592). I have to change also the locker on the Sony extension arm as I felt the screw was not getting in completely.

       This is not perfect as one arm is a bit longer than the other, but it’s completely manageable. The operator can start stop the camera and have all recording information in front of him.

      I also screw on my Vinten tripod plate (#1700) to a Ronin compatible (#1759) to not have to remove the plate from under the camera when going one setup to the other.

       As you can see, the Sony preview monitor can be seen by the Ronin operator and put back very quickly with a simple NATO to 15mm rod (#1245).

       The screen can be adjusted as it’s already designed. Her is side by side during the interview session.

       As I owned the Sony FS7 Mk2, the square rods still fit a 15mm round shaped and still hold firmly, the older version is also compatible.

      The third and last challenge was to balance it all. I order a copy of the Cinemilled.

    I have to put the camera the very end of it.

      I also have to extend the Ronin-M vertical 15mm (#1766). I did not need to get extra counterweight using a large SWIT battery.

     &nbsp The weight of it was enough to get it perfectly static even without powering the motor. These batteries are actually very nice as they are compatible with Sony, meaning that you can have the remaining time accurate on your screen; they also last about 500mn!

    They do not get too much out of the camera body.

      The final result is just fantastic, all fit in a bag, footage is great and both camera setups are possible without any large downside. (Ok, you can’t put it in briefcase or reverse mode).

      Feel free to contact me if you need such setup for you next video project in China mainland or Hong Kong.

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  • what’s inside a Cine SSD DJI, Can you use a simple SSD instead?

    Always wondering what’s inside a DJI cine SSD and if you could get you way around it?

    Not sure you can do that!

    After opening it, you will find a Samsung SSD, connected to a sub board with a proprietary board to restrain from using your own system

    source .. FCC

    For now, this is what you can find online. Here is real life experience.

    If you take out only the SSD, you will find very close aspect of a Samsung EVO series SSD, it’s exact ref is HPV-1280 for the 128G version

    Here is my finding with the exact drive

    It’s not soldered to the SSD, but just a plug to connect both together, so if a bit a glue do not refrain you, here is how to open it

    But the main idea is to save few buck as the price of a 960 M2 EVO is half the price of the DJI one .
    The exact EOM denomination is PM961 at samsung and the potential 960 EVO retail counterpart. you can find more details and pricing there.

    The best is to be able to use the Cine SSD as a support for your cheaper SSD.
    For example, you buy only one CineSSD, and switch SSD drive in between flight inside.
    It will save you a lot of time as you don’t need the station anymore to read it, you just need a very cheap M key SSD reader to any standard you like (ref: Sata M SSD PCI-E M key NVMe M.2)

    In order to test it, I bought 2 extension M.2 cable and it’s look like this.

    You just slide the old DJI memory into.

    It fits perfectly and I can now start some extensive testing.

    Of course, I’m checking if this is working well with the original drive on the DJI cineStation

    YES, Great, I can read my footage like this, no data drop, the drive is working fine.

    Here is the setup on the Inspire side.

    I just taped it for the picture purpose, no way it’s safe to fly like this.
    and… YES, working too, every data rate I have choose working just fine.

    But, I’m using the original SSD from my CineSSD.. Switching to another drive is just showing some funny text after starting “SSD identification fail”, same thing if you try to format it…
    Any idea what should be my next step?

    If you like to support this project, you can pick up few options from this list. You can also choose any google ad. on this page and click one, it will send me a little bit of money from them! Thanks either way for your support

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  • Zacuto Gratical Eye Findings and thoughts

      Investing in a EVF is a interesting choice; either it’s by comfort as your camera do not offer a decent one, either it’s by obligations on your side when your eyes start to make close object not so sharp anymore.
      For me, that was the second one but I realized that I should have bought one sooner. The Zacuto Gratical EYE OLED is my first one, so i can’t compare only to the one you can have on camera as the fixed one on c300 or the Sony lens piece on the ex3 or fs7.
      In any case, the advantages of owning one are now obvious and I will buy another this again and again if you ask me.
      The main characteristics of the Zacuto is how to get extra shooting information on the bottom of the image simultaneously, being OLED picture quality, and very lightweight as power supply is provided separately. There is also only one button for all menu access to keep it sturdy and simple.

    The advantages of any EVF (that you owned) :
    – Better stability during shooting as your eye give you a extra connection point with your camera body.
    – Picture is consistent with any camera you are using and don’t get fooled by too bright or non contrasted camera monitor.
    – Shooting outside under any condition is now possible, big time.
    – Getting the picture in a full eye helps you checking your frame. No distraction from reflection or client remarks looking at your monitor.
    – Better look in front of the client making small rig looking better for situations where it matters

    Disadvantages of any EVF :
    – It need an external power system and will add weight on your shoulder.
    – It may use the only signal output of your camera and a signal converter may be needed, or, in a case of Sony fs7, the HD output can’t be working when using 4k output in HDMI. You will need to connect your evf to a down-converted signal from the 4k recorder with, maybe, a slight delay on the picture.
    – Usually located on the left side of the camera, it needs to be attached securely without blocking the existing screen and buttons which could be challenging.
    – Some low or high level shot position are not easy to get due to the limitation of your EVF support. You need now to follow the camera with your eyes attached on and your entire body in case of large pan for example. The EVF support design should be an important part of your shopping.

    Specifics advantages of the Zacuto OLED EVF Gratical Eye :
    – Very lightweight and do not brake the balance of the camera. It allows also a light EVF support system that you can easily re-position with friction. I have used some SmallRig part to get it done.
    – Having two mounting points with Arri rosette is perfect.
    – The screen quality is great and picture is very detailed.
    – It do not use too much power, it can run for hours on a V-lock 90 Wh battery.

    Disadvantages of the Zacuto Gratical Eye
    – The eyes cover is full plastic and not comfortable.
    – They designed a lens cover that you should push with your head to open it but it’s not convenient. Also this cover is not holding firmly in the eyecup, so it will be soon on the floor.
    – The power meter display can’t be adjusted and it’s start blinking red if it sensed a lower voltage even if it’s not so low. I have to turn it off. I guess a firmware may be able to add a meter threshold level should be done.
    – I also found annoying that it can be powered by a lower 7.4V and always need to add a heavy and large V lock pack on my rig.

    How to make it work?
    – I bought the Cineroid eye cup cover and it’s almost a fit to get better and smoother sensations. The only downside was shooting in a dusty place and it was impossible to clean it and i kept putting my head in this dirty cover.

      The focusing ring can’t be locked and very easy to have fully fuzzy screen. I would love to see a way to lock it. This is not something you adjust everyday usually.
    -The unique button is too easy to touch and it happens often to push it by mistake when moving the evf position. I would prefer to get it a bit protected behind some metal bars.
    – The absence of power switch forces you unplug it or keep it on all the time. A small switch as you can have on sounddevice mixer should be possible to add in the mk2 model.
    -The provided sdi and power cable are not well designed; one is 90 degrees plug and one is a straight one. When you plug both it makes the rig too big and very easy to break the power cable.

      I bought a 90 degree Lemo plug and change this myself, note that you will also need to reverse the female plug to get the right angle.

      As you can see, It’s quite a easy mod and will save a lot of space in your bag and avoid to see it destroyed when hitting something or having to unplug it every time to move your camera back in your bag.

      The EVF system is actually 2 part I put from SmallRig where I also change the Arri locking to a smaller and shorter one to avoid hitting the rail when moving it. It’s also easier this way to dismantle and put in a bag.

      The second part is an articulating system quite strong to hold this Gratical Eye. I suggest to put a rotating spot from the top of the camera, but if you do not have space, another one from the bottom is also possible.

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  • Best of 2016 #2 Canon C300/C100 top plate

    #2 Top plate for Canon EOS C300/C100 from SmallRig

      As the Vinten extra plate is a must have for vinten AS perfect balance owner, this top plate accessory fro Smallrig is the best top plate you can have to protect and upgrade your C300 camera.

      I have first tried the WoodenCamera plate but it felt short compare the this higly inspired from SmallRig. It comes with 2 side mounts that goes in both sensor marker and gives you a solid 3 point link for this plate. It let you mount many accessories or keep original handle in a much better place.

      It also makes super easy to break down the camera in a bag without unscrewing anything. As I’m doing rental, this top has been protecting my investment ever since I installed it. One major default from Canon being how loose the handle screw always gets and ends damaging it. If your hot shoe screw is gone, it’s a nice way to repair your camera.

      You need a small Nato rail and this amazing Smallrig locker which lock perfectly the Canon screen system, no more wobble, no more constant screwing to keep it firmly lock.

      The handle can come behind and also makes the camera a bit smaller in your bag. I went with smallrig handle to get better shooting angle and versatility, it can easly been adjusted depending on your shooting condition and can be used on other camera as well.

    As you can see in this picture, this is a right setup for a Prores external recorder when you need to go on the shoulder or on stick quickly.
      I have also designed a specific ARRI rosette with both side locker to get the camera handle right along my body and not too much on the side.

      I have been working with Smallrig in developing and reviewing some of their product and few items has been given to me for free. It did not mean I’m working for them or my review is biased in any way. I choose freely to talk about these item without any review or comment from them. It shows how great a company can do when listening and including customers in their development process. Not everything is magical but here is a list of their best items.

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  • The best of 2016 from SmallRig #1 The universal DSLR cage !

      The end of the year is always a quiet time and a perfect moment to look back at your office worktable and check what went on it, what stay in a drawer and what you actually have on your camera rig. I’m always asking myself if I had to do it again, what will be my choices. Here is the first of a series of post about my best of this year!

    #1 The universal DSLR cage, one to rule them all.
      I hate the idea of buying a cage for a DSLR system; unlike for a video camera, with a limited possible model, there is so many DSLR and with a very short lifespan that putting a lot of money in one model seems a complete lost.

    With this particular model, you can almost fit any dslr, from a low profile Sony A3000 to a larger Canon 5D markIV, even better, you can split it to design a very unique camera accessories support (see below in this article).

      The cage is composed of different basic elements with plenty of mounting point to be able to fit any model. the side arm have 2 different length and the vertical one, 3!. As it’s still a 15mm rod compatible system, any other bran can be mixed to keep this cage up to date, or keep your favorite EVF holder.

      I was, for example, able to create a perfect fit for a A7S with the battery grip which is quite unique. The Sony A7S is well known for it’s very short battery life and having the grip is a must have if you want to shoot long interview where the subject may take few time to start be comfortable and you can’t ask him to wait for you at this time.
      The cage in action somewhere in mainland China.

       On top of that, I was able with a small drilling to add a third mounting point to support the Metabones adapter and get a very strong holding cage. I have been looking for other cages, and never found one able to offer both.

      Removing the batteries, card or plug the preview monitor or sound input was also possible. With so mounting points, getting the monitor in any angle is easy.

      On one photography assignment, I was in need of a cage to get the poorly designed Canon WFT module and keep the grip available in both portrait and landscape mode; this cage also get it all.

      You can even go further and with 2 screw, add your flash swapping system and get a very compact system for event with automatic file transfer.

      If you want to go further, you can even use it on other larger camera and get solid mounting points where it not possible as on my Panasonic HPX 250.

      I have been working with Smallrig in developing and reviewing some of their product and few items has been given to me for free. It did not mean I’m working for them or my review is biased in any way. I choose freely to talk about these item without any review or comment from them. It shows how great a company can do when listening and including customers in their development process. Not everything is magical but here is a list of their best items.

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