Today’s professional cinema cameras offer very high quality for historically low prices. Unfortunately, the high-quality gear one needs to work with cinema cameras have not followed the same downward price trend. Customers have had to choose between established brands that have traditionally catered to the Hollywood and television markets, whose gear often costs more than the cameras the customers were using and the cheaper, less functional gear that was designed for consumer or ENG cameras. Movcam aims to fill in the gap between the two by offering high-quality gear at non-Hollywood prices.
Lightweight Camera Supports
If you are operating a cinema camera, you probably plan on using it with a number of additional accessories. It is not uncommon to see a camera rig outfitted with a matte box, follow focus, external monitor, external recorder and extra battery. Your camera may be able to support one or two of those things, but what one really needs is some sort of rod support system. Movcam offers a variety of lightweight supports that are designed around industry standard 15mm mini or 19mm rods. All Movcam support systems are made of high quality machined aluminum and will more than likely last longer than the camera you are using with them.
The Lightweight Support for HDSLR cameras is ideal for HDSLRs as well any other small camera system. It is built around a pair of 8-inch (20.3 cm) long, 15mm diameter rods, is tripod mountable and comes with a quick-release plate.
If you are using a larger camera or are planning on upgrading to a larger camera in the future, then the Lightweight Support for Panasonic AG-AF100 & Sony NEX-FS100 might be for you. It comes with two sets of 15mm rods, one 12 inches (30.5 cm) and the other 8 inches (20.3 cm) in length, as well as a quick-release plate and a shoulder pad for extra support.
For something a little different, give the Camera Cage for Sony F3 a try. This apparatus includes a lightweight support with dual 15mm rods 12 inches (30.5 cm) in length, as well as a shoulder pad, top mount and top and side handles with multiple ¼”-20 and 3/8”-16 threaded holes for mounting accessories like monitors and recorders.
Since Movcam uses industry standard size parts, you can add and customize Movcam’s Lightweight Supports in any way you choose. Want to add a shoulder pad to the HDSLR base plate? Simply add extension rods, a clamp adapter and shoulder pad. You aren’t just limited to Movcam’s products either, as many other manufacturers use the same standard.
Follow Focuses and Gear Rings
Once you have a support system to mount it on, a follow focus becomes an essential accessory for working with any cinema camera. The large sensors on cinema cameras produce a very narrow depth of field and this makes focusing a much more difficult and delicate task. A ½-inch (1.3 cm) turn of a lens barrel may move the focus point of your scene back 3 feet (0.9 m). Even if your camera has the ability to autofocus, it will have trouble keeping up with moving subjects unless you adjust your lens to a smaller aperture, thereby eliminating the shallow depth of field that sets cinema cameras apart. Rotating a lens barrel by hand can also introduce a significant amount of vibration on top of being somewhat awkward to do in the middle of a shot. A follow focus system can solve both of these problems.
Movcam’s Mini Follow Focus MF-2 is a high-quality dampened follow focus that mounts to any camera support system with 15mm rods. It features a sliding base that allows it to tightly grip a lens via industry standard 0.8 pitch gear teeth. The MF-2 also includes a Flexible Gear Ring which enables it to interface with lenses that do not feature 0.8 pitch gear teeth. It also features a focus marking scale to help position the lens to the correct focusing distance. Camera vibration due to focus pulling can be virtually eliminated with the use of a focus whip, allowing for precise focusing.
Movcam’s Mini Follow Focus MF-1 shares all of the same features as the MF-2 and also includes a variable focus lock system, which allows you to lock the start and stop point of the follow focus instead of simply marking them. This comes in handy when working with many autofocus still lenses that allow the focus barrel to spin past infinity, which can ruin any focus marks you may have left.
Movcam’s Studio Follow Focus is designed for large film, HD, ENG and cine-style lenses and mounts onto either 15mm or 19mm rods. It features two focus wheels which allow the focus puller to stand on either side of the camera. It also comes with interchangeable gear drives for lenses that use 0.5, 0.6 or 0.8 pitch teeth, interchangeable arms with 1x, 1.5x and 2x speed ratios, and includes a speed crank which helps with very large lenses that may take over a full rotation of the follow focus to move between focus points.
Matte boxes are a commonly overlooked but essential piece of any filmmaker’s tool kit, and serve two important purposes. The first is allowing a filmmaker to use and quickly adjust high-quality filters. For example, if you want to shoot with a wide-open aperture and your camera does not include built in ND filters, a matte box allows you to switch quickly between different ND filter strengths, or even adjust the placement of a graduated ND filter. You can also use color filters to help give a scene a specific mood and save a lot of time color correcting in post production. A good matte box also does more than just hold filters in place, as every extra piece of glass in front of a lens increases the chances for unwanted reflections. Reflections and glare from off-axis light can result in obvious artifacts such as lens flares, or have a more subtle effect like reducing the contrast of a shot and softening the image. This is why the second function of a matte box is to prevent ambient off-axis light from entering the camera lens. Movcam has a selection of matte boxes that allow you to achieve both of these goals easily.
The Movcam Mattebox MM1 is a high quality matte box made of carbon fiber and aluminum. It mounts onto any 15mm mini rod support system and includes a swing-away bracket to make it easy to switch between lenses. It has one fixed and one rotating 4 x 5.65" filter holder, and works with wide-angle lenses with up to a 14mm wide focal length if you are shooting on Academy 35mm film, or a digital camera with an Academy 35mm sized image sensor. The MM1 comes standard with both a French Flag and expandable side wings to help control flare. It also comes with a rear rubber bellows that accepts lenses with a 114mm outer diameter. An additional step-down ring from 114mm is required if you are using a lens with a smaller outer diameter. Movcam’s Mattebox MM1A features all of the elements of the MM1, with the addition of a 15:19mm bridge plate adapter.
The Movcam Mattebox MM2 is similar to the MM1 but is made of high quality ABS materials instead of carbon fiber. It mounts onto 15mm mini rods, includes a swing-away bracket, features one fixed and one rotating 4 x 5.65" filter holder, and includes both expandable side wings and a French Flag. It works with wide-angle lenses with up to a 16mm wide focal length (Academy 35mm). A step-down ring from 130mm is required if you are using a lens with a smaller outer diameter. The MM2 can also be used as a clamp on a sunshade, utilizing the 130mm rear clamp with appropriate step-down rings.
The Movcam Mattebox MM3 is for the more budget-minded filmmaker. It mounts onto 15mm rods via a clamp bracket instead of a swing-away bracket and accepts slightly smaller 4 x 4" glass filters. Despite its low price, the MM3 still includes both side wings and a French Flag. It is compatible with wide-angle lenses with focal lengths of up to 18mm (Academy 35mm). A step-down ring from 104mm is required if you are using a lens with a smaller outer diameter. The MM3 can also be used as a clamp on a sunshade, utilizing the 104mm rear clamp with appropriate step-down rings.
If you are planning to use more than two filters, the Movcam Mattebox MM5 is for you. The MM5 is made of carbon fiber and will mount to either 15mm mini or 19mm rod supports via its swing-away bracket. It accepts up to three 5.65 x 5.65" glass filters via two rotating and one fixed filter holder. It works with lenses with up to a 12mm wide focal length (Academy 35mm). Like all Movcam matte boxes, the MM5 includes both side wings and a French flag. An additional step-down ring from 114mm is required if you are using a lens with a smaller outer diameter.
If you are starting from scratch, Movcam also offers a number of kits that have been customized to fit different needs. These range from kits designed for specific camera models such as the Canon C300 or Sony F3 to those designed for specific purposes such as these HDSLR shoulder kits, which are designed to help you work ENG style with small cinema cameras. The HDSLR Shoulder Kit 1 comes with the Lightweight Support for HDSLR cameras, dual handgrips and a shoulder pad. The HDSLR Shoulder Kit 2 adds an offset shoulder bracket to the mix, enabling more centered camera positioning, and the HDSLR Shoulder Kit 3 comes with the offset shoulder bracket and the MF-2 Mini Follow Focus.
With cameras changing so quickly, it is best to get gear that will grow with you. Since all of Movcam’s gear is built around industry standards, you will have no trouble upgrading and customizing your gear to fit any demands you may have in the future.
Checked out this article. Prices are just not there unless you have a major studio budget. With the Ikan Tilta rig coming in around 1700, these are more than double to get all those features. Curious as to why these, in the article at least, are referred to as budget friendly options.
The article is a spotlight on the Movcam line of products. There are other brands out there with a variety of offerings including lower cost options but the heart of this article was in this statement:
"Movcam aims to fill in the gap between the two by offering high-quality gear at non-Hollywood prices."
They are not the lowest cost option out there but definitely do a great job offering quality products more affordably than a lot of higher end brands.