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

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

Archive: Sep 2013

  1. Back focus, focus, and the Blackmagic Cinema Camera with EF mount


    We recently sent out the Blackmagic Cinema Camera (BMCC) with EF mount on a rental and the DP had some questions about back focus.  We thought this was a good time to go over some basics, and explain why certain cameras and certain lenses behave differently when it comes to focusing.

    In an ideal optical system, you could focus on any object you want at any distance.  Lenses in the real world have to follow the laws of physics, though, so they have a limited range of focus.  Most lenses are capable of focusing from some near distance to infinity.  Some specialty lenses trade that infinite focus point for more close focus distance, like a microscope, for example.

    bmcc-blackmagic-cameraThe distance between the camera sensor and the back of the lens is called the flange distance.  This distance is important for multiple reasons.  If it’s set to the expected distance, the lens will behave as expected.  The focus range will be what the manufacturer intends.  If it’s too short, the lens will be able to focus “past” infinity, which is an inconvienience for video shooters, but not really a big deal for photo shooters.  If it’s too long, the lens won’t be able to focus to infinity at all, and only able to focus on very close objects.

    For photo lenses, it is common practice with Canon’s EF mount to mount the lens a little closer than “perfect.”  This is because EF mount cameras and lenses have been made by dozens of manufacturers with widely varying tolerances.  This way, all the lenses can focus to infinity on all the bodies, even if they are a little bit off.  The least forgiving lenses are the wide angle lenses, and manufacturers like Tokina (who makes the 11-16mm f/2.8) fudged the distance a little bit short to allow for variances between camera bodies.  Most higher end photo lenses even let you focus past infinity intentionally, allowing for an even wider tolerance in manufacturing.  For photographers, this was no big deal.  The numbers on the focus ring were a little bit off relative to real life, but nobody was using a ruler to focus, because autofocus was much more accurate anyway.

    When Blackmagic designed the BMCC, they designed it to match with Canon’s cinema lenses.  These lenses are pricey, and made to much more exact measurements than Canon’s photo lenses, even their L series.  Most of the high-end lenses with EF mounts have very precise focus marks on the barrel.  They stop at exactly infinity.  Then, they released it to the public, and realized that certain lenses are really meant to mount much closer to the camera sensor.  Oops!  Plenty of wide-angle lenses that worked perfectly on cameras like the 5D mark III couldn’t focus to infinity on the BMCC.  So they performed a recall, and every lens mount they made afterward was adjusted to allow for the wider tolerance of photo lenses.  This is how our BMCC is set, to the manufacturer’s revised specifications.

    So now, cinema lenses on the BMCC work, too, but their focus marks are off.  No big deal, right?  Well, kinda.  If you’re using prime lenses, nothing else changes.  If you’re using zoom lenses, you’re now up against a back focus problem.

    The back of this Focus is in focus.  Don't confuse this with back focus.

    The back of this Focus is in focus. Don’t confuse this with back focus.

    Zoom lenses are incredibly complex optics, and the flange distance becomes even more important.  The lenses need to hold a point in focus at multiple focal lengths, as you zoom in or out.  If the flange distance is off, your image can be in focus when zoomed in and when you zoom out, you will lose focus.  Your focal plane will shift significantly.  For photographers, this was never a problem, since you just zoom and refocus.  For most high-end video cameras, you can just set the back focus manually for each lens.  For video on budget cameras like the BMCC, it can be a concern.

    The upshot is that if you want to use zoom lenses, and you want to be able to keep focus during your zooms, you probably don’t want the BMCC.  Unless you’ve tested all your lenses on the body and you’re okay with whatever level of focus drift you get.  And chances are, if you’re happy with the way a budget wide lens like the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 performs, you’re not going to like the way the Canon CN-E cine zooms perform on the same body.  And even if you like the way one copy of a lens performs on the BMCC, you might not like a different copy of the same lens.  Or you may rent a BMCC from us and it may work very differently even if you’re using the same lenses you always use.  The flange distance is a compromise, and some lenses feel it worse than others.

    If you’re thinking about renting a BMCC and shooting with zoom lenses, please stop by and check it out, with the lenses you’d like to be using.  We’re happy to help you figure out your rental before you make a reservation, but we can’t give you a refund if your lenses don’t work with our camera.




  2. Ikan 9″ Field Monitor VX9e

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    Ikan 9" Field MonitorThe Ikan Vx9e is a 8.9″ high definition field monitor, great for use with any HD-SDI or HDMI camera, including the Canon 5D series as well as the BMCC.  The monitor features focus peaking, false color options, and 1024×600 resolution for easy focusing and exposure.  It features a loop-through HD-SDI connection to connect to video village without complicated coverters, spitters, or extenders.  You can even convert from SDI to to analog component in the monitor.

    We use this most with the Canon 5D mark III, so we rent it with the BP-E6 battery plate, but we can also convert it for use with our V-mount battery kits, or Sony or Panasonic camcorder batteries.  If you’re shooting with a DSLR, we recommend you rent a cage for easy mounting options.

    We include the monitor, hard case, four BP-E6 (Canon) batteries and a charger, short BNC cable, short HDMI to mini HDMI cable, and a mounting arm.

    If you’re looking for a more budget-minded monitor, we offer the 7″ Lilliput monitor with HDMI only.

    $69/$138/$207 for 1/3/7 day rentals.  Call or email for availability.

    Suggested accessories:

    Additional batteries, camera cage, BNC cables

  3. 8TB eSATA/USB 3.0 External RAID Drive

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    This RAID-capable enclosure features eSATA and USB 3 connections for fast data transfers.  The two 4TB drives offer 8TB of RAID 0 or 4TB of RAID 1 storage.  Use RAID 1 (mirroring) for critical data or RAID 0 (striping) for speed.

    If you’re transferring from SSD drives, REDmags, XQD cards, or other high-capacity media, you’ll be glad to have  a large, high-speed storage solution.  We find this one is a great performer without breaking the bank.  Typical sequential write and read speeds over eSATA in RAID 0 are above 225 MB/s.

    Please note, we can help with questions when you place and order or pick it up, but we’re unable to help you with file transfer problems on set.  We suggest hiring a qualified DIT to make sure your data is safe and your filesystems are configured properly.  Milwaukee has several, and we’re more than happy to recommend one.

    Rental Prices

    $78 for 1 day
    $156 for up to 3 days
    $234 for up to 7 days
    Call or email for availability.
    Suggested accessories:
    Power strip, Mac or PC
  4. Canon 20-35mm f/2.8L Lens

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    The Canon 20-35mm f/2.8L lens is a wide angle zoom that works with full frame as well as crop factor cameras, and fits every camera Canon has made since the mid-1980s.  What’s more important is that it makes great pictures and video.  The L-series designation means sturdy all-metal build and fast USM autofocus for stills shooters.  Sharp even at f/2.8, by f/5.6 we’d be happy making landscape prints that were six feet across.

    We love this vintage lens for a stack of reasons.  First, everybody loves 20mm and 35mm focal lengths.  Second, the bokeh on this lens is fantastic.  The weight is much more manageable than similar wides, like the beefy Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8. As an added bonus for video shooters, there is little-to-no breathing on focus pulls. This wide lens has the least distortion of any Canon zoom in this range, particularly at around 24mm where edges get perfectly square.  If you are shooting portraits or architecture and want a wide zoom, this is definitely Canon’s strongest offering.

    Shows subtle vignetting at f/2.8 on the wide side.  Almost completely even by f/4. It has 72mm front threads.

    Rental Prices

    $34 for 1 day
    $68 for up to 3 days
    $102 for up to 7 days
    Call or email for availability.

    Suggested accessories:

    Canon DSLR
    Filter Kit



  5. 55″ 4K UHD TV

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    Rent a 55-inch ultra high definition TV for special events. presentations, trade shows, or as a featured screen on-camera or in the studio.  The UHD TV features five HDMI inputs and smart connectivity with YouTube and other streaming services.

    With brighter colors and higher resolution than a projector, you can count on this display to give your presentations and videos maximum impact.  Widescreen UHD displays can increase traffic at conventions and trade shows, help keep your audience engaged, and make your product or service look its best. The slim screen fits almost anywhere, and the TV is lightweight enough to set up and take down easily.

    We include a remote and power cable.  Delivery to Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay or Chicago is available for all of our A/V and event equipment.

    Rental Prices

    $99 for 1 day
    $198 for up to 5 days
    Call or email for availability.

    Suggested accessories:
    Bluray Player, Laptop

  6. Zeiss ZE Planar T* 50mm F/1.4 EF-mount lens with Duclos Lenses Cine-Mod

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    This is a Zeiss ZE Planar T* 50mm f/1.4 lens, with an EF mount. The iris is electronically controlled, but the focus is fully manual, and a focusing gear has been added by Duclos Lenses cine-mod process.

    The combination of Zeiss optics, all-metal construction, and a focus gear make this lens a killer choice for video as well as product photography where precision is paramount.  The standard gear pitch will match with any follow focus.  If you’re a video shooter going for a cinema-style look without breaking the bank, this lens should be the first one in your kit.

    Advantages over the standard Canon 50mm photo primes include hard focus stops, longer focus barrel rotation, and sharper optics edge-to-edge, especially in the middle of the f-stop range.  Nearly all reviewers rate the Zeiss above the highly coveted 50mm f/1.2L (as well as the 50mm f/1.4), and for video shooters, the difference is even more pronounced. Close-focuses to 1 1/2 feet.


    Rental Prices

    $39 for 1 day
    $78 for up to 3 days
    $117 for up to 7 days
    Call or email for availability.

    Suggested accessories:
    Canon DSLR

  7. Back to School Bonus

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    film-student-discountAre you a film, video, or photography student?  We used to be, too, so we know what it’s like!  That’s why we’re making it easier and more affordable than ever for students to rent equipment.

    Bring your student ID, and we’ll give you 20% off any rental that includes a camera body!  Whether you need it for a day or a week, for a midterm or a final project, you don’t have to be stuck with whatever’s left in the back of the campus closet when it comes time to make your masterpiece.  Plus, we’ll help you figure out the new gear, including a one-on-one camera 101, where we go over the hows and whys of your particular camera. To qualify for the discount, you must be a current student at an accreddited college, provide proof of insurance, and reserve at least five days in advance.

    With camera packages starting under $100, you don’t have to be held back by technology on any budget!  Contact us today to reserve your rental!




  8. 6×6 Frame Scrim Jim 72″

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    Suggested accessories:

    A Scrim Jim is the lightest 6’x6′ frame you can find.  Perfect for when you’re traveling light and need to work with available light.

    Comes with frame, two clamps for stands, and a travel bag. You’ll need a butterfly/rag to use with it, available separately.

    Rental Prices

    $24 for 1 day
    $48 for up to 3 days
    $72 for up to 7 days
    Call or email for availability.
  9. Audio Field Mixer DV Promix 3

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    The DV Promix 3 mixer lets you connect up to three different XLR audio inputs to your audio recorder or camera. The mixer has switchable gain, low-cut filters, and +48v phantom power for each channel.

    This field mixer is lightweight, easy-to-use, and runs on two 9v batteries.  The LED meters let you watch audio levels even in bright sunlight.  Supports line and mic level XLR outputs and a 1/8″ stereo mic level output for consumer cameras and audio recorders.

    We rent ours with an included lightweight sling bag for easy portability.

    Rental Prices

    $39 for 1 day
    $78 for up to 3 days
    $117 for up to 7 days
    Call or email for availability.

    Suggested accessories:

    Audio Recorder
    Additional 9v batteries

Can’t Find It?

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!