Exactly one month ago my RafCamera Kinor-16SX-2 to MFT adapter with screws arrived. I got it for free from Rafael Pankratau of RafCamera, because the bayonet lock version of that same adapter didn’t fit my LOMO 16 OKS 3-10-1 f/2.1 10 mm. But the simpler version with screws fits as a glove! The lens is fastened securily with three allen screws, using the attached allen key. Rafael explained to me that the bayonet lock version isn’t a adapter which fits all 16 OKS prime lenses, as it has a removable back which may be adjusted with three screws. The simpler version is safer for use with the OKS primes (and possible for OPF zooms) since it has a longer inner space due to the absence of the removable back. RafCamera is really a realible company who cares about its customers, giving support beyond what can be expected. As I am planning to buy a LOMO 16 OPF 12-1 f/2.5 10-100 mm in the future, I was anxious that there would be a problem with the fit of that zoom lens with the RafCamera adapters. So I expressed my concerns with Rafael at RafCamera, and he immediately offered to send me the simpler version of the adapter free of charge! I have heard others being treated with equal care as myself, so there seems to be a company policy going on here. And I won’t hesitate to buy a whole set of adapters if necessary to fit my future OKS primes set. The only complaint I have is that there was still some residues from the anodising black lacquer which rubbed off on my fingers, so I had to clean and polish the adapter with household toilet paper and some linen cloth before I could attach it to the lens. It has two grooves to chose from, when inserting the lens to the adapter; I chose the one which makes all important information on the barrel visible from above. After turning on the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera and looking at the screen, I immediately could see a sharp image coming from the lens, so the flange distance seemed to be o.k. from my initial ocular check. A week later, on February 8, I took some images with the lens inside our apartment, using the Fancier FC-270A Tripod and FC-02H Fluid Head, partly with the Cobra dolly, as well as the camera and lens mounted to the Flycam HD-3000.
The result was eventually entitled Mirrors, as these figure a lot in the movie, both direct and more indirect or discrete. There are regular mirrors seen in several shots, but there are also a lot of reflections seen in glass and windows. Also, one of the subjects of the movie is my Kinor-16SX-2M, which originally housed the OKS 3-10-1; in the movie it is seen with its lens mount open where its reflex mirror shutter is vaugly visible. Mirrors was filmed, edited, colour corrected and graded by yours truly. Music by courtesy of Jonas Olsen, a filmmaking friend of mine which has given me permission to use samples of his original music; you will hear more of him in my future projects. The film is 6:57 minutes long and was originally published on YouTube on 1 March 2017, to be republished one day later. It was filmed in my apartment which is situated in Kungsladugård, Göteborg, Sweden. Everything on the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera was captured on CinemaDNG RAW. General camera and lens settings with ISO 800, White Balance 6000K, Shutter Angle 172.8º, and 24 fps. F=10 and f/2.1 to 32. Although sound was recorded, because there were no ambient sound that was usable, everything was deleted in the edit. The RAW footage was edited, colour corrected, graded and rendered on Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve 12.5.4. Colour correction was made manually with no LUTs, using a basic colour correction in Resolve’s Camera RAW feature, adjusting with a final grade with the aid of color wheels while checking the scopes to create a more balanced RGB profile in the highlights, midtones and shadows. Image stabilisation of the footage was only performed once, in the dolly shot. The output blanking (cropping) was set to 2.40:1 aspect ratio. The final result was rendered using the DNxHR HQ (8-bit 4:2:2) video compression codec and two cannel PCM audio codec wrapped in QuickTime and Ultra HD 4K 3840 × 2160 resolution. Exported thus, it was finally uploaded to YouTube, enhancing the image with a Saturation of +1 with no additional image manipulation to retain the vibrant flavour of the original footage. Copyright © 2017 Gorilla Film Studios.
LOMO 16 OKS 3-10-1 prime lens with the RafCamera Kinor-16SX-2 lens to MFT camera mount adapter (with screws): When mounted to the MFT mount of the BMPCC, through the adapter, the flaps (thumbs grip) of the focus ring goes all the way around the barrel, underneath it, which would make it ankward to use if and when applied to a base plate with 15 mm rods. I will buy some kind of follow focus gear ring for the lens in the future and plan to apply it with superglue to the focus ring, and fasten the edges with the thumbs grip, using its screws; I don’t want to take away the flaps as they are quite practical when using the camera and lens in a run-and-gun fashion, to easily pull focus with the left hand thumb. However, the lens, being a 10 mm, vignettes quite heavily on both sides (not just the corners) and there is obvious barrel distortion (but that should be expected from a 10 mm lens); it almost looks like a fish-eye. But the viewing angle is great, giving opportunity to take very wide shots. Either cropping 2.40:1 or zooming in post, or both (as I did with the test movie), does the trick with the vignetting. It seems that infinity focus is found before the infinity symbol hits the mark, rather somewhere at the 1 meter mark. When I push focus beyond 1 meter the image loose focus again. I checked the lens with my Kinor-16SX-2M and here infinity corresponds with the infinity symbol. This could be a sign that the flange focus distance (FFD) is to far off on the adapter. However, dropping a question on the BMCuser forum, the Ukrainian camera technician Dimitry Shijan comforted me stating that this nonalignment of the focusing markings is to be expected with the OKS line of leses, when used together with RafCamera adapters, and that wider lenses need more precise shimming. He reccomended me to try to add 0.1 mm or thinner shims from foil or Oracal tape. I tried to undscrew the three allen srews which holds the lens in place inside the adapter, and pushed it out just a tiny bit, perhaps one milimetre or so, or less. But the focus was entirely off as I could only focus up to a couple of metres from the lens; as Dimitry states, it cannot be moved more than 0.1 mm from the adapter.
Strangely enough, considering that the OKS 3-10-1 is a dedicated cinema lens, the aperture ring is clicked in stop increments of 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11 and 16 f-stops. There is also a f/2.1 marking, but on my lens it doesn’t halt on the red dot that is reserved for the f-stop clicks; it stops somewhere in between 2.1 and 2.8 (2.4?). The aperture ring also continues somewhat beyond f/16, to a point equivalent to f/22 or 32 even, i.e. up to two stops more. Watching the footage and in particular the early shots through the window, with the ND filters mounted on the front of the lens, there seems to be a consistency between the f/11 + NDx4x2 (i.e. f/32), f/16 + NDx4 (i.e. f/32), and the maxium stepped down iris. This seems to confirm that the maxium aperture of the lens indeed is f/32 and not 22 which I initially surmised. So, when watching the movie, remember when the aperture or iris is specified to f/22 it actually or probably should read f/32. So in conclusion, it seems that my lens works with f/2.4 to 32, or a dynamic range of almost 8 stops. Now, Dimitry Shijan again assured me, conserning the clicked aperture ring, that the OKS 3-10-1 and OKS 3-15-1 may easily be declicked by unscrewing the rear coil element or ring which holds two small metal balls and springs (see image below), which now may be removed to be able to declick the iris ring. The proper tool to unscrew the coil ring on the OKS 3-10-1 should be the lens Spanner Wrench tool or something similar, like a filter unscrewing tool. According to Dimitry, this ring is very thin and usually easy to unscrew. Another benefit from unscrewing the rear coil element of the lens is that this also helps to fit 10 mm and 15 mm OKS lenses to the RafCamera bayonet adapter (which I also own). The other OKS lenses are declicked, according to Dimitry, by unscrewing one small screw in front of the lens and removing the small ball and spring. However, I don’t find the clicks of the aperture ring to be particularly harsh but rather quite soft or smooth; it feels like the aperture ring is situated in a borderline between being clicked and declicked, and I find it quite possible that one wouldn’t notice a continuous stepping down or up of the aperture as anything else than smooth. So I will probably leave it as it is, at least for now.
As said, during the test shoot I took care to check the neutral-density (ND) filters that comes with the OKS line of lenses (I have a complete set with various colour filters as well), one NDx2 (one f-stop reduction) and one NDx4 (two f-stops reduction). I even combined both ND filters (NDx4x2) to stop down a total of three f-stops. Unfortunately, I didn’t clean the filters well enought (they were very dirty out of the box, and I did a basic wiping using my glasses cleaning cloth). In the film, this is seen as bright geometric flecks, resembling iris flares a bit. Also, the lens itself was smudged on its rear element, but unfortunately I didn’t notice this until shooting throgh the window on the exteriors, and that was one of the last scenes that I shot in the film. I did remove the smudge or stain, although not entirely, but well enough not to be noticed in the final takes. However, in all the scenes following the exterior shot, the smudge is clearly seen in some takes in the left upper thirds of the image, looking almost as a a flare (which it is not). Other than that, the lens performed well. It exhibits barrell distortion, which is visible in some of the scenes (in particular during the dolly shot). Although the OKS 3-10-1 lacks some of the “character” that I have become used to with the Meteor 5-1, presenting a more neutral look, it may best be described as exhibiting both a soft and a sharp image at the same time. The result is very filmic. Moire is more visible with the OKS 3-10-1 compared to the Meteor (seen in the straight lines produced by the covers of the aligned DVDs and Blu-rays), but the image never becomes analytical and razor sharp, providing a pleasent look. The field of view is impressive, simulating what my eyes see. Combining the OKS 3-10-1 with the Super 16 sensor of the BMPCC makes everything look larger than it does actually; it gives an intimacy to the footage. Although I didn’t do any dedicated test of the shortest focus distance, I would say that it is approximately 0.5 metres, perhaps somewhat less than that, as I was quite close to the subject (the book shelf, DVDs, and skull); although I lost focus in a few shots, most where quite sharp. As a bonus, the lens produces some beautiful vintage lens flare, as well as shimmering of strong light sources. Aside from vignetting, I’m quite satisfied with the lens; I have to clean it better and its filters though.
Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera: This test movie has not just captured my first actual aquaintance with the OKS 3-10-1. It is also a low light test of using natural light with interior shooting, inspiried by my previous thoughts on using daylight without any tungsten lighting. And again, I must state that I am quite satisfied with the result in this respect. Some of the shots are somewhat dark, especially in the corner of the room; these have been exposed on the skull, which reflects the sun poignantly, almost as a reflector. In all scenes where the skull doesn’t figure, the deepest corner of the room is perfectly lit and exposed. The camera produces quite a lot of noise in the shadows, which looks grainy. The good thing is that the grain or noise is quite random, which very litte fixed pattern noise visible; I only detected a slight fixed vertical pattern during the first part of the dolly shot, where the shadows are very dark. So, the overall look of the grainy shadows enhances the organic and filmic look of the footage. However, this digital grain is mostly seen in the original RAW footage as the compression algorithms of DNxHR and YouTube cleans out the noise in the image unintentionally, as well as almost all of the visible moire. Also saturation and colour boosting of the image in post adds noise, which can be mitigated with colder colours (which I did with this film). Reflectors whould had lighten up the corners and shadows well enough to prevent to much noise. The thing is that I like the contrast or play between light and shadows in the footage, which is quite filmic, creating a noir feeling to the movie. In a way, I belive that the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera behaves much as a regular film emulsion Super 16 camera, when it deals with light, probably slightly better. There are arguably much better low light handling DSLR cameras out there, but if you want your camera to behave as a film emulsion camera, the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera is the answer to your needs (as are mine).
Flycam HD-3000: I loaned a Flycam HD-3000 from my friend Jonas, who though it would be fun to play around with, but in all honesty I’m not particularly fond of it after trying to balance the BMPCC (with the RafCamera adapter / LOMO OKS 3-10-1 prime lens combo) and more or less failing. The first try to balance it was a sheer disaster. If I would have followed the 2-3 seconds drop rule I wouldn’t have managed to get the Flycam stable sideways and forward/backwards on the baseplate; I had to sacrifice optimal balance between the camera/baseplate and the bottom weights of the Flycam, to get it stable enough 360 degrees around the gimble, with a drop time of less than one second. I made a second try at balancing it and managed (after throwing away some weights at the bottom) to raise the balance a little bit closer to the top; I now managed to clock the drop time to 2 seconds. But it was still damn hard to get that proper balance 360 degrees around the gimble, adjusting the positon of the camera; it’s just impossible to get it well with the BMPCC. Also, one of the screws used to adjust the sideways balance falls off, from my loan example, so you have to use a combined mode of adjusting by pushing the entire base plate to the sides and using the loose screw as a stopper. Although the balance was slightlly off, it had to do for the shoot. Doing some dry tests (no recording) with the camera and OKS 3-10-1 was consistent with my experience of the Flycam from the actual shoot. It rocks to the sides to the point that I cannot lift the fingertips of my left hand from the pole, holding them at the gimble. What’s worse is that the quick realease plate is entirely made of plastic. When screwing in to the botton of the BMPCC, the plastic plate bends; I’m afraid of drawing the screw to tight, not to break it, resulting in a quite loose mount. When fastened to the quick release, it wiggles quite a lot. I was constantly worried that the camera would fall of the plate and hit the floor. In conclusion, the build quality of the Flycam HD-3000 is really bad. That said, I still succeded in pulling off quite stable shots, at least without the microshakes. However, the floating feeling of a steadicam is lacking; it more resembles handheld shots, but that is probably mostly due to the ankward position where I had to hold the stabiliser quite high and away from the body. The only shot where I held the Flycam in a proper steadicam manner was the last continous shot between rooms, where I walked backwards from the living room to the kitchen, which has that typical floating sensation, although the image rocks somewhat.
Fancier FC-270A Tripod and FC-02H Fluid Head, with the Cobra Dolly: I shot several scenes with the BMPCC and OKS 3-10-1 mounted on my Fancier Tripod and Head, and one scene with the tripod mounted onto my foldable Cobra dolly. I have described the tripod and fluid head elsewhere on this blog, but I have almost never mentioned my dolly before. A quick description of the Cobra: The dolly consists of three extensions which correspnds to the legs of the tripod, with the ends of the tripod fastened to the dolly with clamps that are fixed with plastic knobs. Each section or leg ends in a wheel, which rotates 360º around its axis. It is partly made of aluminum and partly of plastic; the legs are of metal whereas the center piece and handle, as well as wheels and clamps, are entirely made of plastic. When folded together, the legs are secured with locks and the dolly is carried in its handle; it takes very little space when stored. When prepared for dolly shots, to carry the tripod, two of the legs are locked up and spread out where they lock into place. The dolly is a simple and cheap design, but quite rugged nevertheless. I have owned it for a decade and during the last year it has been used quite extensively by my filmmaking friend Jonas (who also loaned me his Flycam in return); it holds well together. The only drawback are its wheels, which are made of hard plastic. The good thing is that it is possible to remove them, using a wrench; I will purchase a set of rubber wheels. However, the plastic wheels consist of two parts with a space in between, which has prompted Jonas to make his DIY dolly tracks made out of plastic tubing, where the wheels may be fitted; however, experience has shown that they easily derail when handled to hard. On my wooden floor, the wheels reacts to every gap and joint, or even micro-dirt on the floor, creating jerkiness which translates into the camera; I had to stabilise the dolly shot in post. Also, when rolled quite fast the plastic wheels create lots of noice; however that was never a issue during this shoot as I made a extremely slow dolly shot. When it comes to the Fancier FC-02H fluid head itself, it behaved generally well during the shoot, although panning seems to have been performed with varying results, as some slow pans seems ultra smooth and one other ended up being quite jerky. However, these variations are probably due to my own lack of skill and experience. I am very satisfied with the Fancier tripod and head, and will be more pleased with the Cobra dolly that I am today, after some modification to the weels.
Workstation and Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve 12.5.4: When it comes to editing, I basically have repeated my modes of working from my previous projects. At least when it comes to the editing process itself and modes of trimming, although I have perfected my skill a bit more. I have developed the look of my end credits with superimpositions of layers of texts, as well as stills. The end credit which features the logos of Blackmagic Design, CinemaDNG, LOMO and RafCamera, is composed from four different stills that have been joined over a empty text clip with a white background, using compositing with the option set to “normal” in the Inspector. I have zoomed them into the proper size and aligned them together using x and y controls. I did something similar with the end credit featuring two photographs of the Flycam and Fancier tripod mounted upon the dolly. However, I noticed that images, such as logos, with a background colour (such as white) need a greater field of margin around the logo, as the compositing creates ugly vertical bars to the right of the logo. As I noticed this after my initial upload to YouTube, I actually had to take the first version of the Camera Test Movie III down, correct the compositing in the Inspector, making the images larger around the graphics and crop them somewhat at their right edges in the timeline, and do a second upload one day later. For the first time I also ventured into simulating slow motion effects using the optical flow feature of DaVinci Resolve 12.5, lowering Retime Speed to 55% when opening up the clip, applying a gradual decrease of speed, also known as speed ramping. I applied slow motion to the very first and final clips of the movie. I based this working on a YouTube tutorial by MiesnerMedia (see below). I was stunned how simple it is to use this feature, just by right clicking on the clip and opening Retime Curve, and setting the Inspector to the preferred retime process (i.e. optical flow, which is the superior mode of creating slow motion effects in post). This soon became handy as I noticed that optical flow eats processing power from the GPU, combined with other grading tweeks, which created lagging in the timeline; I had to raise the speed 5% after a while to remove the lagging.
The biggest change of direction for me in my DaVinci Resolve workflow, however, lies with my colour correction and grading. This was prompted by a comment made by one BMCuser forum member, who claimed that the Camera Raw panel is working with the full 12 bit linear RAW CIE colour space data before debayering, and that “downstream” grading controls are only working in 10 bit video color space after debayering. He recommended not only to set Exposure index, Shadows and Highlights adjustment, Color Temp, etc., in the Camera Raw tab, but also to use the Color Boost and Saturation controls, which work independently of any grading nodes, applying all changes to all nodes. This represents the first stage colour correction before the actual colour grading using colour wheels and curves, etc., the logic being that the closer you are to a fully corrected, balanced neutral image in RAW and before debayering, the more range you will have for creative grading “downstream” without causing artifacts. In my previous projects I have ignored the Camera Raw tab entirely (with one exception) and done all color corrction and grading using colour wheels only. Intuitively, I find it to be a more sound approach to make basic adjustments before debayering, as I have found it hard before to create vibrant colours using colour wheels, and found the Saturation there to be a bit lacking. So this time I did a basic colour correction in Camera Raw, raising Saturation (+100) and Color Boost (+20) to get more vibrant colors, as well as doing a basic adjustment of Gain and Gamma, streching out the RAW Log profile. Following this, I tweeked everyting using the colour wheels. Finding that I can manipulate the RAW colours before debayering, the result is much more convincing. The colour are vibrantly strong and lustral. However, the noise levels have also been raised, although it looks quite filmic and grainy. Also, the overall image looks much more warmer than I have been used to in my previous gradings. This prompted me to change the Offset into a more bluish-greenish direction, to create a bit more colder look. Similarily, manipulating the Lift, Gamma and Gain wheels, I was drawn into the more colder spectrum, raising the blues and balancing them against the greens (leaving the reds a bit higher in comparison).