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

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

Archive: Feb 2015

  1. The Dress

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    By now, you’ve seen the pictures of “the dress”… the black and blue or gold and white dress, all over social media. Of course, what’s interesting about this isn’t the way you see it, but actually trying to understand what everyone else sees. This is all about the biology of image perception.

    As a cinematographer, it’s something I deal with every day. If we look at the image from a purely scientific standpoint, the photograph of the dress has these two colors in it (give or take a few shades on each side).


    Which are, in approximate human terms, a steely blue and a medium brown.  But the interesting part is not what color is there, but what color we see. Our eyes are correcting images all the time, it’s why a white sheet of paper looks white, whether we’re in sunlight or candlelight. Our brains make a correction automatically. We also correct for overexposure and underexposure, using the rest of the image to make assumptions about what things look like, depending on our expectations.


    In the checkerboard above, the squares marked “A” and “B” are the same color. Yet “B” clearly looks brighter. That’s because our mind is cancelling out the effect of the “shadow.” The dress picture is doing a similar thing to our minds, but because the image is really mis-exposed, we can’t agree on which way the correction should go. It’s also playing with our expectations of color a little bit.


    Let’s make the “white” squares a bit yellow and the dark squares just a touch bluer. Then imply the light that is coming from the right side is golden sunlight and the ambient light is cool blue light from the sky. Now we’ve taken this illusion that was previously just brightness and added a color component. A and B are not only the same brightness, they are the same color!

    To see a yellow and white dress: imagine staring at a white and gold dress, on a sunny day. The sun is in front of you. The shadows cast by the sun tend to be a little blue. So white things in the sun are golden, and white things in the shade are blue.  When the camera takes an underexposed picture in this case, it could look just like that image.

    To see a blue and black dress: imagine you’re indoors. The lighting all around is very yellow, and behind the dress the room is very bright.  When you take a picture, the camera is overexposing, making the image far too bright. This is what the people who see the black and blue dress see.

    Photographers often use photoshop tools to correct exposure and color balance errors in their photos. Using just basic curves and color balance tools, it’s easier to see how people might be see the dress “the other way.”


    Personally, I assumed white and gold dress when I saw it. Of course, I assumed wrong! But, if you only learn one lesson here, I hope it’s that camera settings and lighting matter!

    Posted by Jon Kline

  2. Blacklight

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    Make your party, dance, or event glow with an LED blacklight rental.  This UV light looks great at weddings, a DJ booth, or anywhere you want a wash of ultraviolet blacklight.  Since it’s LED, it stays cool and is safe to use all night. Controllable via 3 DMX channels, it’s easy to control dimming and strobe functions.

    Output on each of these blacklight LED panels is moderate, we suggest using one unit for every 100 square feet you’d like to cover. This type of light mounts best overhead to truss or pipe, one lightweight pipe clamp is included.

    Rental Prices

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

    Suggested accessories:

    • Truss Kit
    • Extension Cords
    • DMX Controller
  3. Canon 40mm f/2.8 EF STM Prime Lens

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    Canon’s tiny 40mm f/2.8 lens gives full-frame coverage in a lens that’s less than an inch thick. The STM designation means it’s ready for autofocus in both photo and video. It accepts 52mm filters, and close-focuses to one foot.

    While primes like the 50mm f/1.8 and 35mm f/2.0 are faster, the 40mm f/2.8 is a great lens choice when you need a small size, or video autofocus.

    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
    Filter Kit


  4. Get a Great Deal on Camera, Lighting and Grip Rental (No Matter Where You Rent it From)

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    Here’s a question that doesn’t get asked often enough: What’s the best way to get a great deal on the equipment rental for my short film, pilot, web series, or other low-budget project?  The answer isn’t complicated.  It also might surprise you just how much you can save!  Here’s where I suggest you start when you’re looking for a great deal renting cameras, lighting, and grip.

    1. Be insured.  You may only be spending $500 on rentals, but you could still have $10,000 in gear. Having insurance in place before you call sends the message that you take your responsibility and your job seriously. You may be able to “piggyback” on someone else’s policy, if they’re willing to sponsor you and take on the risks of your production. Otherwise, you can usually get some short term rental insurance starting around a few hundred dollars.

    2. Try to keep your large grip/camera/lighting/etc. order with just one or two companies. That includes a production van. It may seem like you’re saving money buy renting a $19.95 U-Haul van instead of a grip van, but the bigger your order with one rental company, the bigger a discount you should be able to get.  If your order is split between the rental companies with the cheapest prices on each item, none of them will want to give you a discount, and you’ll spend all day collecting gear.

    3. Establish a track record with the rental company. Show that you’re reliable, punctual, organized, and responsible. A lot of the cost of managing an order is due to the little things, like chasing down missing parts, staying late for customers that can’t show up on time, etc. If you’re the easy customer, the discounts come easier, too.

    4. Follow, interact, and show appreciation for the company in social media. The person running those accounts might throw you a discount or promo.  Want the people in the rental shop to know your name? Write a nice review on Google, Facebook, or Yelp, mention their names, and you can be sure they’ll hear about it. Word gets around, after all. If you’re their friend, it’s easy to get the friend prices!

    5. Be up front when you’re shopping around. If someone at a different company quotes you a better price, mention it. They may match the price, or let you know that the competition isn’t including the same things with the rental.  Being honest about shopping around also helps us help you, since we’re often borrowing inventory from other shops to fill out your order. And we’ll know if you cancel your order at the last minute because “the shoot was cancelled” and then take your business to another vendor. Film communities are close-knit, and we hear about that kind of behavior. That’s an easy way to get your name on the secret list of people we never give discounts to.

    The best way to get a discount is to ask for one! If you’re ordering more than a few items, or you’ll be renting for more than a week or so, it’s never inappropriate to ask.

    Posted by Jon Kline

  5. PocketWizard Plus III Transceiver

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    The PocketWizard Plus III is a remote flash trigger system with 32 channels, four zones, and up to 1600 feet of range.  These wireless flash triggers can also trigger your camera remotely, and will work with any other PocketWizard system.

    The PocketWizard family of products will work with Canon, Nikon, and most other common camera and flash types, but you may need a specific cable. Be sure to confirm you’ll have the right cable for your particular camera and flash configuration. We have a lot of cables and adapters available for rent in our shop and can connect almost anything, if you bring your camera and flashes with you when you pick up. We want to help you go over your setup and be sure you have everything you need. Like most PocketWizard units, the Plus III doesn’t support TTL.

    Two AA batteries are required with each PocketWizard unit. We rent the PocketWizard units individually. Of course, you’ll need two or more to transmit and receive.

    Rental Prices

    $27 for 1 day
    $54 for up to 3 days
    $81 for up to 7 days
    Call or email for availability.
  6. Sony PXW-Z100 4K Camcorder

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    sony-pxw-z100-cameraRenting a Sony PXW-Z100 is an easy way to elevate your workflow to true 4K (4096×2160 resolution at up to 60 fps).  The camera uses Sony’s XVAC 4:2:2 10-bit intra frame format, the same as the PMW-F55 CineAlta camera.  The camcorder features a G lens with 20x optical zoom and three control rings, dual XQD memory card slots, and 4K HDMI and 3G/HD-SDI interfaces.

    In our tests, PXW-Z100 excels at certain types of projects.  For nearly all ENG and EFP-style productions, it’s the perfect choice, matching well with Sony’s other cameras in HD and SD resolutions, but offering true 4K resolution as well, all in a package a single operator can handle.  The Z100 is basically the big brother of the FDR-AX1, which offers matching picture profiles and similar controls.  All of the must-haves for a ENG/EFP camera are included, like XLR inputs, ND filters, and familiar Sony camcorder layout.  The newly updated sensor features back illumination for acceptable low-light performance, on par with the larger sensor of the Sony EX3.

    This is our go-to camera for educational and corporate videos, live events, and greenscreen/white screen/chroma key shoots.   4:2:2 10-bit color makes for the cleanest keys we’ve ever seen in a broadcast camera. We continue to see the PXW-Z100 and the FDR-AX1 replacing the Sony EX1 for lots of field and studio production.  For events with super-sized digital displays, this is the best choice for i-mag as well as a great camera for pre-recorded content.

    One of our favorite features in the new Z100 is the Wi-Fi control, allowing remote focus, zoom, iris, and record controls, using a smartphone or tablet.  We have a tablet with Wi-Fi available for rent, as well.

    We’re pretty sure we’re the first rental house in Milwaukee (and even Wisconsin) to offer the PXW-Z100 for rental.

    We include two batteries, a charger, dual 64GB XQD N-series memory cards, one 32GB S-series memory card, and a shotgun microphone.  We also include a Sony XQD USB 3.0 card reader.  Don’t be fooled by other online renters’ low rates, they don’t include memory cards or a reader!

    Rental Prices

    $295 for 1 day
    $590 for up to 3 days
    $885 for up to 7 days
    Call or email for availability.


    Suggested accessories:
    HD-SDI monitor, Tripod, extra XQD cards, extra 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!