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

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

Archive: Dec 2013

  1. The Rokinon 85mm T/1.5 EF-mount Cinema Lens Review

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    I’ve been using the Rokinon as the 85mm in my prime lens kit since it came out earlier this year, and it’s been getting noticed a lot lately.  Here’s where I like it, where I don’t, and when it gets used the most.

    The Best

    The 85mm is about as fast as you could reasonably need in any lens.  There are 85mm f/1.2 lenses made by Canon and others, but the 1/3-stop difference isn’t as important as other lens features.  The lens is sharp enough for 1080p even wide open, and starts approaching near-perfect sharpness for stills around T/2.8.  It’s actually a pretty nice photo lens for portraits if you don’t mind the manual focus.  Bokeh is very pleasing, and a bit more circular than the Canon f/1.8, but not as perfectly round as the Canon f/1.2L.  It also flares a bit less than the 85mm Canon f/1.8.  The flares are also much more cinematic.  If your goal is JJ-Abrams-style intentional flares, this lens really does well.

    The standard lens gear is much nicer than aftermarket gears or traditional cine-mods.  There is nothing to slip or drift, and pulling focus is always smooth and natural.  It also has hard focus stops at near focus and infinity, so you don’t have to re-mark your follow focus like you would for photo lenses.

    As most video shooters know, precision control over exposure is welcome addition.  The de-clicked aperture allows you to easily fine-tune your iris without even thinking about how many stops you’re going in either direction.  I found that taking the numbers and clicks out of the equation completely allowed me to focus on making the image look better, not what F-stop I thought should look best.

    The Worst

    If you’re looking to shoot more stills than video, the 85mm f/1.8 from Canon is probably a better choice.  The autofocus and superior sharpness wide open make it a better lens for portraits at f/2.  If you’ve got budget, the Rokinon can’t come close to the 85mm cinema primes from Canon and Zeiss.    It’s an unfair comparison, of course, since you can buy a complete set of Rokinon lenses for less than the cheapest cinema lens from Canon.

    The lens does breathe a bit on focus pulls.  We didn’t mind it much in our testing, but it’s much more noticeable than a Zeiss 85mm CP2, for example.

    If you’re the type who wants all of your prime lenses to match, Rokinon can’t help you yet.  With a big gap at the 50mm spot, there’s no way you can make a complete Rokinon prime kit.  The reality is, at this price point the Rokinon lenses probably won’t be a perfect match for color, anyway, so switching to a 50mm cine-modded Zeiss Planar T* isn’t a big deal.

    When I Use It

    For budget DSLR video shoots, a full set of cinema primes can be out of reach, and zoom lenses often don’t have the speed for indoor shoots.  I have been loving the 85mm T/1.5 on a Canon 5D mark III for interviews, where the focal length is perfect and the limitations of the lens hardly matter.  The T/1.5 really lets backrounds fall off a lot faster than f/1.8 lenses.  It’s also a great lens for getting more candid moments at parties and events indoors, where you need some reach from your focal length and still need to be able to expose in near-darkness with only available light.

    Posted by Jon Kline

  2. Five Predictions for Video Production in 2014

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    The Future - Mimi and Eunice

    At the end of every year, Mason Resnick at Adorama does his photography predictions for the next year.  It inspired me to start our own annual tradition, and make this list of video predictions for 2014.  This is where I predict the industry will be headed in the next 365 days.

    4K Heyday

    This will be the year that 4K hits critical mass.  The hurdles (media, processing power, and sensor sensitivity) have all been cleared, and it’s only a matter of time before all broadcasters start accepting 4K content.  If you’re on the fence about selling your EX1 or HMC-150, now’s probably a great time to sell.  With the PXw-Z100 available already, we’ll likely see a 4K offering from either Panasonic or Canon in the $5,000-$8,000 range before the end of 2014.

    The Prosumer Video DSLR

    At first blush, making a DSLR specifically for video seems a little silly.  But being able to pack a large sensor in a tiny package has made a huge difference for film-style shoots.  The Canon 1Dc is the only DSLR camera with professional-level video functions right now, but I predict we’ll see another one under $3,500.  I think the most likely is a Canon 7D-series camera with the “C” designation, shooting 4K video on a 1.6x crop sensor.  We may even see an 8.3MP or 8.8MP DSLR, whose sensor and pixels are engineered for perfect QHD or 4K, with far better low-light performance over “traditional” DSLRs.  Canon spent most of the last few years trying to keep their DSLR market from eating their video market, but 2014 will be the year they start to compete head-to-head.

    Lytro in Motion

    Shoot now, focus later.  The Lytro light-field camera is basically a cool novelty, taking still pictures using complex techniques in a miniaturized system.  2014 will include the first announcement of a light-field video camera system. It will be well-hyped, unstable, impractical, and expensive, and probably not actually available to a consumer for many years.

    LED over HMI

    The engineering challenges that faced LED lighting are starting to be overcome.  2013 saw LEDs take over in the studio and stage markets.  2014 will be the year for Arri to offer an alternative to a 575w HMI, in a format that’s durable enough for everyday location use, passively cooled, and color-accurate enough (90+ CRI) to use on high-profile projects.

    Magic Lantern will Change or Become Irrelevant

    The developers on the Magic Lantern team have completely changed the way Canon DSLRs are used for video.  Their features have been basically required for pro-level shooters using the 5D mark 3 or 7D.  Lately, they’ve been focused much more on building out esoteric features, not creating stable releases.  2014 will be the year the group either splinters off into two groups with significantly different objectives, or pro shooters move en masse to a newer, more stable platform (see the Prosumer Video DSLR above).  Amateurs will likely continue using ML for the next decade, but they’re not the ones who make generous PayPal donations.

    Posted by Jon Kline

  3. Lighting Your Event for High Impact

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    If you want your event to be more than just people in a hotel conference room, event lighting can add that extra punch! Modern LED lights are easy for non-technical people to set up. Those same easy-to-use lights are also popular with DJs, churches, and parties.


    LED lighting can mix red, green, and blue light to make custom colors.

    For corporate events, we can use LED lighting and dial in colors to match branding and logos. This helps make event spaces seem more welcoming and draws the eye, as well. Using colors as accent lights helps tie the room together, and can make the branding materials feel much larger than they actually are.  The light fixtures blend red, green and blue light to make custom colors easy, and the lights are cool to the touch, so they’re safe to use on the floor or in tight spaces.  Our most popular lights for this are the Chauvet 4-Bar Minis and the American DJ Mega Go Bar lights.

    For larger events in and around Milwaukee, we suggest you hire one of our lighting professionals to help with the design and setup of the lighting system.  For smaller events, you may be able to rent the lights and set them up yourself.  This is a great option for office holiday parties, kids’ parties, and small sales events.  We can go over the equipment with you when you pick it up, so you can set it up quickly and get great lighting effects.

    For parties, a changing lighting effect can add energy to the room.  If you want to keep it simple, our Dance Club Light Kit is just $80/day and is really popular for first-time renters. Using the sound-active mode built into many of our rental lights is a great way to simply and easily make the lighting respond to the music.  For more advanced lighting control, we suggest adding a DMX controller for DJs to your lighting.  This will allow you to set “scenes” and “chases,” letting you customize your light show.  You’ll need to run special DMX cables, or you can make setup a little easier with our wireless DMX transmitter/receivers.

    If you’re lighting a small staged event, like a play or church performance, you may want to use lights in a different way, letting you light different scenes and control levels and blackouts.  We offer a basic DMX controller that allows you to set your lighting in advance and run the show easily, without much training.

    If you’re looking for new ways to make your event look great, give us a call at (414) 939-3653 and we can help you make your event lighting plan.  We’re more than happy to go over your options, whether your event is for 12 people or 12,000.

    Posted by Jon Kline

  4. DMX Dimmer Pack Leviton D4DMX

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    dmx-dimmerThe NSI/Leviton D4DMX is a DMX-512 device, most useful for controlling stage lights for theatrical performances, small stages, and houses of worship.  Compatible with any devices that can be dimmed, it is a useful way to add DMX features to a “dumb” stagelight.  Easy one-touch control of DMX channel and a simple readout make setup a breeze.  Operates in 1, 2, or 4-channel mode and the basic chase modes can be used without a DMX controller.  1200 watts/channel, 2400 watts total.  Please specify whether you’ll be using a 5-pin or 3-pin DMX configuration.

    $35/$70/$105 for  1/3/7 day rentals.  Call or email for availability.

    Suggested accessories:

    DMX Controller, DMX Cables, Wireless DMX Adapters, stage lighting

  5. DMX Light Controller Leviton MC 7008

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    dmx-lighting-boardThe NSI/Leviton MC 7008 is a DMX-512 controller, most useful for controlling lights for theatrical performances, small stages, and houses of worship.  It has three operating modes: two-scene preset with 8 channels each, single-scene 16-channel, and memory scene operation.

    It has two user-programmable 32-step chase patterns, 8×8 individual control channels in 2-scene mode, a tap sync button for easy chase rate adjustments, and dual split cross faders for easy and even scene transitions.  It also has a master slider and blackout button, must-haves for theatrical use.  Ours in 5-pin, but can be converted to 3-pin DMX using an adapter.

    $50/$100/$150 for  1/3/7 day rentals.  Call or email for availability.

    Suggested accessories:

    DMX Cables, Wireless DMX Adapters, DMX dimmer pack, stage lighting

  6. Behringer Headphone Mixer/Distribution Amplifier

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    Split, amplify, and control volume levels on up to four sets of headphones with Beringer’s Stereo Headphone Amplifier. Individual volume controls allow you to split a signal between multiple listeners or even multiple cameras and control volume levels individually, all without worrying about matching impedance or other issues.  One stereo 1/4″ input and 4 stereo 1/4″ outputs can be converted to 1/8″ using adapters.  This is a powered unit, requiring an AC adapter (included).

    Rental Prices

    $8 for 1 day
    $16 for up to 3 days
    $24 for up to 7 days
    Call or email for availability.

    Suggested accessories:

    Headphones, audio recorder

  7. Five Holiday Gift Ideas for Shutterbugs

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    Having a hard time finding stocking stuffers for the photographer on your holiday shopping list?

    Stop sneaking on their Amazon wishlist and give them some FUN gifts they didn’t even know they wanted! Perfect for pros and hobbyists, you can’t go wrong with these gift ideas.

    1. Lens adapters for their iPhone or Android

    Lens adapters for phone cameras have improved a great deal in the last few years. We like this wide angle/macro lens from Xenvo because it’s useful and works with most devices.

    Starting price: $39


    2. Handmade camera straps

    Create a custom camera strap from a company that’s been making amazing guitar straps for years.  Get the vitage look with a product made locally in Chicago. They are fully adjustable, made with upcycled seatbelts (as the backing) and stable to boot. Pick your pattern and let creative sparks fly!

    Price: $35 and up


    3. Subscription to PDN

    “Keeping up with industry news” may or may not sound completely riveting. But this magazine is RIDDLED with the latest photographic work AKA inspiring visuals. A monthly magazine to keep your Shutterbug in the know of the latest technology and workshops coming to your area. Available in both digital and print forms, it’s great for the iPad or to cutout images and keep around the studio to fuel creativity.

    Price: 12 issues (one year) of Photo District News Digital $45/Print $65


    4. A Fashionable Camera Bag

    Photographers are often too practical for their own good, repurposing bags to carry their camera gear. Pick out something stylish that they’re sure to keep their camera equipment safe for years to come.

    Price: $39 and up

    Our Favorite: Canvas MOACC Bag

    4 ½. Pelican Urban Elite U160

    Okay, so your favorite Shutterbug isn’t into the whole “looking fashionable with a camera” thing (see #4), but wants a new, reliable camera bag. The Pelican Urban Elite U160 is a waterproof, aluminum-spined, crushproof case with plenty of room for all accessories. Note: does not come in sexy Italian leather.

    Price: $219


    There ya have it! Leave your shutterbug with a smile on their face and have a very Merry Christmas from all of us at MKE Production Rental. Let us know how your giving goes by tagging us on social!

  8. Clamps and Plates

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    We offer a variety of clamps, adapters, plates, and other grip equipment, including

    • Pony clamp (aka A-clamp or spring clamp, in 1, 2, and 3 inch sizes)
    • Cardellini clamp (aka Matthewlini)
    • Mafer clamp (aka super clamp)
    • Kupo clamp (aka Justin or Alli clamp)
    • Plate with baby pin (aka baby plate, wall plate, or nail-on-plate)
    • Plate with Junior receiver
    • Junior to baby adapter (aka butt plug)
    • Magic arm (aka Israeli, friction, or articulating arm)
    • C clamp with baby pins
    • Pipe clamp with junior receiver
    • O-clamps
    • Safety chain
    • Speedrail
    • Other grip and rigging equipment

    Call or email for pricing and availability.

  9. Canon 5D mark III Event Photographer Package

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    The Canon 5D mark III is built on Canon’s 22.3MP sensor and DIGIC 5+ processor.  It’s the ideal camera for event photographers, with an incredible AF system based on the flagship Canon 1Dx.  The focus improvements and low-light sensitivity make it the clear choice over the mark II for events indoors and at night.  The dual memory card slots allow for instant backup recording of images.

    This package has been very popular with Milwaukee’s event and wedding photographers, who use it both as a primary camera or as a backup.  You can pick up on Friday afternoon and drop off on Monday morning for just the one day rate.

    We include four Canon batteries, a charger, an on-camera flash, two 32 GB Compact Flash cards, one 64 GB SDXC card, a camera bag, and wireless remote.  Use your own EF-mount lenses or rent some of ours.

    Rental Prices

    $129 for 1 day
    $258 for up to 3 days
    $387 for up to 7 days
    Call or email for availability.

    Suggested accessories:

    Lenses, Alienbees, additional flashes, photo tripod

  10. The Top 5 Still Photo Lenses for Video

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    I get asked all the time, “what’s the best lens to shoot video on my camera?” Once you’ve shot for awhile, you’ll realize this is a silly question. Most projects are much better with a collection of a few lenses, whether they are zooms or primes.

    Every time I choose a lens, it’s based on what’s appropriate for the project, the shot, the camera, and the budget. But since there are thousands of reviews for photo lenses, and almost none of them talk about shooting video, I thought I’d make my personal top five list of still photo lenses for Canon video shooters. For those projects where cinema lenses just aren’t affordable, finding the right photo lens can still get you amazing results.  This list isn’t scientific, and it’s not comprehensive, but these lenses should definitely be on your radar, especially if you’re shooting on a Canon 5D mark III or Canon 6D.

    5. Canon 50mm f/1.4

    Canon EF 50mm 1-4

    Canon makes four 50mm prime still photo lenses, and this one strives to strike a balance between good and affordable.

    Why it’s great for video

    The shallow-depth-of-field look is why DSLRs really exploded for video around 2010.  While f/2.8 usually looks just fine, shooting at f/1.4 could make an interview in front of a trash pile look beautiful.  Perhaps more importantly, the two extra stops of light mean you can realistically expose in places you otherwise wouldn’t dream of shooting.  Wide open around 1600-3200 ISO, you can expose for faces watching a projection screen or people lit only by candles.  It’s tiny and lightweight, and not intimidating for the shooter or the subject.  The 50mm focal length is natural, elegant, and cuts with anything.  It also beats the sharpness of any of Canon’s zoom lenses.  It’s a useful length on a crop factor camera, too, especially as an interview/portrait lens.  At a little over $300 new, it’s the most affordable lens on this list.

    What’s not so great

    It’s not a do-everything lens, so you’ll need at least one lens on either side of the 50mm focal length for just about every shoot.

    4. Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS macro

    Canon-100mmf-2-8-macroThis prime lens is found most often in wedding photographer’s bags, but  I’ve seen it on more than one video set, as well.

    Why it’s great for video

    Shoot without a macro lens for long enough, and you’ll get to the point where you realize you absolutely, positively, must have one in your kit for certain situations.  While Canon’s 50mm f/2.5 macro can work in a pinch, the 100mm focal length of this lens lets you put a little more distance between the camera and the subject, making lighting much easier.  The 50mm also doesn’t look great beyond a few feet, but the 100mm f/2.8L IS makes a great lens for portrait-style work, interviews, and events.  The stabilization means you can even shoulder-mount the camera in a pinch, although I suggest a monopod or tripod for extended shooting.  This lens, like almost all Canon prime lenses, has simply fantastic optics and sharpness.

    What’s not so great

    I find 100mm a less desirable focal length than 85mm and 135mm, usually.  The price seems a bit steep when compared to non-L-series primes.  It’s probably Canon’s slowest prime lens over $1000.  If you decide to go with a prime kit instead of zooms, you’ll have more lenses in your bag, although the rest of them will probably be smaller and much more affordable.

    3. Canon 24-105mm f/4L

    canon-24-105mmThis lens is basically the kit lens of Canon’s fullframe lineup. While many shooters will trade the zoom range for the extra stop of light in the 24-70 f/2.8 IS, the 24-105 is the most popular Canon fullframe lens currently in production.

    Why it’s great for video

    DSLR video is strongest in scripted narrative and music videos.  Documentary work really pushes the DSLR farther than it might want to go.  This lens makes it possible to actually follow around a subject, get in the car, get out of the car, and keep rolling the whole time.   Image stabilization and a perfect zoom range for “walking around” make it incredibly popular, and bundle prices have pushed the white box version of a new lens under $700.   The L on the barrel might even make you feel a little better when you’re trying to justify shooting your whole movie on a single $700 lens.

    What’s not so great

    Jack of all trades, master of none.  The range is practical, but doesn’t go as far on either end as you might want.  The f/4 aperture is too slow for dark interiors.  Sharpness is acceptable, but color fringes and softness creep into the image corners on the longer end of the zoom range.  It also doesn’t maintain a continuous exposure level through zooming.  Even though the readout stays at f/4, I find that zooming from 24mm to 105mm effects my exposure by a stop or more.

    2. Tokina 11-16 f/2.8

    Tokina-11-16If you’re a still photographer who wants to dabble in video, this will be a frustrating lens.  Not as sharp as most wides, and relatively slow focusing compared to other lenses.  But for video shooters, it’s one of my top recommendations.

    Why it’s great for video

    The focal length range is fantastic.  It looks almost identical at 11mm on a crop factor camera as at 16mm on a full-frame camera.  The perspective is exaggerated, but distortion is kept to a minimum (this is no fisheye).  This lens loves to be moved around, and I often put it on a jib or slider for really engaging camera moves.  The f/2.8 speed means you can use it indoors, even in low light if you don’t mind pushing the ISO a bit.  This is a hugely popular lens for indie music videos.  There is no image stabilization, but that’s forgivable on a lens this wide.  The sharpness issues that bother me at 22 megapixels don’t even factor in to 1080p video.  It’s also the first “affordable” lens you should buy for a micro 4/3rds-size sensor with an EF mount, like the Blackmagic Cinema Camera.  I nearly put the Sigma 20mm f/1.8 on this list instead, but I think the added usability of the Tokina on crop-factor cameras earns it a spot on my top five list.

    What’s not so great

    On fullframe cameras, the imaging area of the lens doesn’t reach the edge of the sensor past 16mm.  The focal flange distance varies from copy to copy, and some of them don’t properly focus to infinity on all camera bodies (see the Blackmagic Cinema Camera).

    1. Canon 70-200 f/2.8L IS

    Canon-70-200-2-8-isCanon has always excelled at making long zoom lenses.  It’s what helped Canon win market share back from Nikon as the world shifted to digital.  The current version of the 70-200 f/2.8 IS is basically the pinnacle of human engineering, and a likely contender for eighth wonder of the world.

    Why it’s great for video

    Still photographers have the luxury of shooting at faster shutter speeds to control shake and blur.  Video shooters don’t.  The image stabilization is critical for handheld, but I’ve even seen it help on tripod shots.  Combine that with amazing lens speed, a very convienient zoom range, and industry-leading sharpness for a near-perfect lens.  If you’re shooting DSLRs in a studio setup, you’ll want two!

    What’s not so great

    The price.  The newest version is upwards of $2,300, and you’ll still need a lens or two in the middle of the zoom range.  It’s also not particularly portable.  At least it will keep almost all of its retail value, if you take good care of it.  The 70-200 f/2.8L IS original can be found for a very good price, and for video shooters, the upgrade to the II model is probably not necessary.

    What lens is on your must-have list for video shooting?  Leave your thoughts in the comments.

    Posted by Jon Kline

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!