Camera, Light, Projector and Sound Rental in Milwaukee & Chicago

            Renting cameras, audio, lighting & grip for Milwaukee, Chicago, and the surrounding area.

Archive: Jul 2013

  1. Canon 50mm Prime Showdown

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    We recently added the Canon 50mm f/2.5 Macro prime lens to our rental inventory.  Naturally, the first thing we did was take a picture of Kyle’s eyeball.  The second thing?  We compared it to the Canon f/1.4 50mm prime lens.  We wanted to know if it was safe to leave our 50mm f/1.4 behind when we have enough available light and the Canon macro lens in our bag.  And since the price difference isn’t huge, we think a comparison of these two lenses isn’t completely out of order.  Here’s some of the obvious and not-so-obvious pros and cons of each lens:

    1) Up close, the 50mm macro is fantastic.  The 50mm f/1.4 is great for people, but if you want a closeup on a baby or pet, or are shooting anything smaller than about 9″ across, you’re really limited without the macro option.  The 50mm f/2.5 at close focus distance is 1:1, perfect for coins and jewelry. On a crop-factor camera, you’ll have even more apparent close-up power.

    2) The 50mm f/1.4 is a much better available-light lens.  1 2/3 stops more speed makes a big difference in the dark.  On a crop-factor camera, f/2.5 is “good enough” for portrait work, but being able to go into f/2 or beyond gives you more versatility as a portrait lens.

    3) For everyday shots, the 50mm f/1.4 obviously, clearly, blatantly outperforms the f/2.5 macro.


    Sample shot from the Canon 50mm f/2.5 macro at f/2.8.  Click to enlarge.


    We tested both lenses with a Canon 5DmkIII body on a tripod at f/2.8, and focused on an object at the end of a hallway. We brought RAW images into photoshop with identical settings and saved them as high-quality JPEGs.

    The biggest differentiator is sharpness.  Looking at the 1:1 comparison crops, the 50mm f/1.4 is much sharper.  Even in our video tests (2MP resolution), you can see a slight difference in sharpness between both lenses.  Note, in both images you can see artifacts from digital sharpening, but it’s the same amount for both shots.

    The f/1.4 performs better in other areas, too.  In our tests, vignetting was much less noticeable on the f/1.4.  It has two fewer elements, which means that even at the same apertures, it lets in a bit more light.  Our guess is about 1/6th of a stop at the center and almost a full stop in the corners at f/2.8.


    Canon 50mm f/1.4 at f/2.8

    Sample shot from the Canon 50mm f/1.4 at f/2.8. Click to enlarge.

    The only place where the 50mm macro might be said to have an edge in our sample shots is in geometric distortion.  When putting the shots over each other, you can see a slight barrel distortion in the 50mm f/1.4.  The additional glass in the macro may be helping to square up the optics, making it slightly more rectilinear.  This makes the macro seem the tiniest bit wider, at least in the corners.

    In our high-contrast scene, both lenses seemed to perform reasonably well, without much ghosting or fringing, and a small amount of  chromatic aberration.

    For video shooters, both lenses seem to breathe about equally.  Our opinion was the breathing was pretty natural, and certainly acceptable for a sub-$1000 lens.


    One-to-one crops for pixel peeping

    The upshot?  It looks like we’ll be taking both 50mm lenses along on our shoots.  The macro features are too awesome to leave at home, but the better optics of the f/1.4 make it a much better choice on almost anything more than 18 inches away.  Want to make the comparison for yourself?  You can rent all our 50mm lenses for your own tests!

    Posted by Jon Kline

  2. Canon 50mm Macro f/2.5 Prime Lens

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    Get up close and personal with the Canon EF 50mm f/2.5 macro lens. 1:1 magnification makes it a great option for shooting small things, from babies to bumblebees. It’s quite popular with wedding shooters who need to get detail shots of flowers and rings, and a great addition to any lens kit when you know you’ll need details and inserts.

    The Canon 50mm macro shows very little distortion, and outperforms most zooms for sharpness. Pixel peepers might want to check out our Canon 50mm lens comparison post. This lens covers full frame, and accepts 52mm front filters.

    Rental Prices

    $24 for 1 day
    $48 for up to 3 days
    $72 for up to 7 days
    Call or email for availability.
  3. Chauvet Moonflower DJ/Dance/Concert Lighting

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    Get your party started with this classic moonflower effect from Chauvet.  Pulsing red, green, and blue dots liven up any dance floor. Programmable by DMX, or set it to sound activated mode for simple operation.  Looks great on its own, but even better with a little atmospheric fog or haze.

    This is the updated LED model with very low power consumption, so it stays cool. A perfect match for kids parties and anything with disco or on rollerskates.  Ask for a stand or truss if you need to mount it above the action.

    Rates start at $14 for one day.  Call or email for availability.

    Suggested accessories:

    Extension cords, stage lighting, small fog machine

  4. Radian Time Lapse Motorized Pan/Tilt Head

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    Use the free app on any iPhone or Android device

    Create killer timelapses with your DSLR or other camera and the Radian by Alpine Labs.  You program the Radian with your iPhone or Android device.  It makes precise motorized adjustments and automatically triggers your camera’s shutter for each exposure.  When you’re done, you have a beautiful timelapse sequence with even panning or tilting motion.

    The Radian supports speed ramping and bulb ramping, giving you smooth starts and stops, and exposures through lighting changes like sunrise and sunset.  You can program a whole playlist of actions, allowing you unlimited creative control, without requiring you or your phone to be there.  It’s a motorized head and intervalometer in one. We include the shutter release cable for the Canon fullframe cameras like the 5D mark III, but you can use a different cable to trigger your 7D or Nikon camera as well.  Usually, we use the intervalometer function of Magic Lantern to give us supreme control.

    Just load the free Radian app onto your smartphone, create your timelapse program, connect your phone to the Radian and upload your settings.  Then you can disconnect your phone and Radian does the rest!

    Runs all night on a single charge.  Uses a micro-USB charging port.

    Rental Prices

    $24 for 1 day
    $48 for up to 3 days
    $72 for up to 7 days
    Call or email for availability.

    Suggested accessories:
    DSLR, tripod

    Sample video we created with the Radian:

  5. Sigma 24-60mm f/2.8 EX DG IF zoom lens

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    Our Sigma 24-60mm f/2.8 lens is a full-frame midrange zoom with impressive f/2.8 speed and good all-around performance in an EF mount.  It’s about as sharp as the 24-70  f/2.8L from Canon, but not as crisp as the updated 24-70mm f/2.8L II.

    This lens has 77mm front filter threads.  It close-focuses to 15 inches.

    This lens and the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 pair nicely together, with the same maximum aperture, filter sizes, and weight, plus complimentary zoom ranges.

    Rental Prices

    $24 for 1 day
    $48 for up to 3 days
    $72 for up to 7 days
    Call or email for availability.

    Suggested accessories:

    Canon DSLR

  6. Teleprompter – 10″

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    A teleprompter (also called a prompter or autocue) rental will let your subject read their speech or script directly to camera.  The easy-to-read 10″  display can be configured any way you like.  It’s lightweight, easy to transport, and sets up in minutes.  You will need to provide a laptop with a VGA output and teleprompter software, or you can rent one from us for $24/day.

    Don’t be fooled into using cheaper models that use an iPad or tablet computer.  For professional results, you really want a dedicated display with easy-to-use controls.  If you’re looking for a larger prompter with better readability, we suggest our 17″ teleprompter.

    The standard configuration requires AC power, but we offer a battery pack that provides about two hours of run time for $10/day.  If you don’t want to set up, configure, and run the teleprompter yourself, ask us about hiring a trained teleprompter operator.

    Rental Prices

    $89 for 1 day
    $178 for up to 3 days
    $267 for up to 7 days
    Call or email for availability.

    Suggested accessories:

    battery pack
    video camera

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If you haven't found what you're looking for, try the search box above, or call (414) 939-3653. We have way too many clamps, cables, and widgets to list everything. And we have new stuff coming all the time, too!