We’re proud to be a sponsor of the bimonthly filmmaker meetup and lecture series MARNmovies in Milwaukee. MARNmovies VI will be all about developing, producing, and selling your web series.
TV networks are constantly looking online for new talent and ideas. Join us to learn how to develop and produce content that will get you noticed without ever leaving Wisconsin. Our presenter, Justine Stokes, is the Director of Television Services at UW Oshkosh. She has over 15 years of experience in directing and producing television, short films and documentaries.
We follow her presentation with screenings of local short films. Bring your short film on Blu-ray or DVD and share with our audience!
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.
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.
This 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.
This 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.
If 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).
Canon 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.
We added the Red Epic camera to our rental lineup to meet the growing needs of our customers in Milwaukee. It’s our most expensive rental body, and one of the most popular, but it’s not the perfect camera for every job. Since many of our renters are more experienced with DSLRs like the Canon 5D mark III, we wanted to mention some of the big differences between DSLRs and shooting on the Epic.
1) You’ll really, really want an Assistant Camera Operator. Changing lenses is more difficult on a cinema camera than a DSLR, and you’ll probably have multiple accessories attached to the body. Plus, you’ll have an extra set of eyes on equipment and someone to help you with the new menu. If you’re shooting full days, we suggest at least two assistants, or one assistant and a DIT. If you’re renting a Red Epic and need an operator, assistant camera, or tech, we’re more than happy to recommend someone.
2) Budget more time (and money) for post production. Redcode Raw is great, but any raw workflow is slower than a traditional video workflow. You’ll also need lots more storage than you’re used to.
3) It’s bigger and kludgier. Of course, compared to a Betacam, it’s actually pretty small, but if you’re used to DSLRs, it’s not nearly as easy to move around. One of the great advantages of a DSLR is how easy it is to “shoot from the hip.” It’s hard to get that spontaneous feeling from a larger camera like the Epic.
4) It can be a bit loud sometimes. On long takes, the fan may kick in depending on the camera’s temperature reading. The computer will do what it can to avoid running the fan on high speed during takes, but be prepared for glares from the sound department if you’re only a few feet from the talent and running takes longer than a few minutes. The second generation of fans has addressed this problem somewhat, but you’ll need to check with the rental house to find out which fans your Red Epic is using.
5) Almost all DSLR accessories and support are either too small, too consumer, or simply outclassed. At a minimum, you’ll want the Red touchscreen monitor and some respectable camera support. If you’re on a tight budget, you might find some cost savings with photo primes that have been cine-modded. Our Nikon lens set won’t compete with a set of Cooke S4s, but will still be able to get crisp images, even shooting 5K. You won’t need to triple your insurance coverage, either.
6) You’ll attract more attention. Set up a 5D mark III in the middle of downtown Milwaukee and no one will even notice. Bring a Red Epic and suddenly people stare. If you’re shooting doc style and trying to be unintimidating, I suggest you tape over the logo and keep your rig as small as possible. If you’re working on something narrative, this probably isn’t an issue.
If you’re used to a DSLR, the Red Epic will seem like a huge leap forward. Just make sure you’re ready for it!
Anyone can say they’re the best place to rent a projector in Milwaukee, but we want to back it up with facts. Here are some things to consider before booking your projector rental.
Our projectors start as low as $64 for a day
1) Is the projector rental company really local? What if they send the wrong projector, forget the remote, or the lamp burns out? What if there are technical problems, or the box is damaged in transit? Lots of companies pretend to be local, but some companies send your rental from as far away as Los Angeles! When you pick up from a local business in Milwaukee, you can test the projector right there, and make sure you have the adapters and cables to connect it to your system. Plus, you support a local business. It’s a win-win!
2) Are you getting the right projector? You can look at a catalog of projectors online, but that’s not the same as having a professional help you choose your projector rental over the phone, in email, or even in person. Your amazing presentation or video won’t matter if your audience can’t see it.
3) Are you renting new technology? Lots of rental houses have projectors in inventory from 3, 5, or even 8 years ago! Remember what your TV looked like eight years ago? We replace every video projector in our rental inventory every two years. Every one of our projectors are easy to use, with modern connections and a bright, sharp projection. We have HD and 16×9 projectors and screens, too!
4) Are you paying the right price? Most companies don’t publish their rates, and expect you to haggle over the phone with one of their sales reps. We believe that publishing prices is better for our customer. We’re also pretty sure we have the most affordable projectors in Milwaukee. If you find a better deal on a projector rental, please let us know! We even offer a $10 discount if you combine a projector rental with a screen rental, making our low prices even better.
Are you ready to rent a projector or screen? Send us an email, give us a call, or choose from our online catalog. You can even pick up your projector from our downtown Milwaukee office the same day!
The Sony DVD/Bluray player is a popular renter with our projectors and screens. Sony makes the most reliable DVD and Bluray players in the world, which is why theirs are the only ones we offer for rental. The deck supports HDMI as well as component and composite outputs. It will play movie DVDs, DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, Bluray, and recordable Bluray discs (BD-R). The included remote makes it easy to run the show from a distance.
$25 for a day or $50 for up to five days. Or add this DVD/Bluray player to your projector rental for just $10!
Call our Milwaukee office to make your projector rental reservation today! (414) 939-3653
This is our entry-level video projector. It’s rated at 2700 lumens, bright enough to light a 10′ screen in the dark, or a perfect match for our 80″ screen with the lights on. This projector is smaller and quieter than most models. The DLP technology provides rich contrast and is 3D ready. The projector has a 4:3 native aspect ratio and 1024×768 native resolution, ideal for presentations from a computer. If you’re looking for a projector just for movies and video, we suggest renting a widescreen HD projector.
This projector rental has amazing connectivity, including HDMI, VGA, S-video, and composite video. We also include a Mini Displayport adapter to connect to many Mac and windows laptops. There is a small speaker, but you’ll want to connect external speakers if you have an audience.
If you have a particular connectivity question, bring your device to our office and we can test your projector rental before you leave. We can adapt nearly any video source to work with any projector.
All of our projector rentals include a hard case, so they’re easy to transport without worries.
We’re pretty sure this is the most affordable projector rental in Milwaukee. They tend to get booked in advance, so give us a call today to secure your reservation!
Think you don’t have an eye for photos? Use these simple hacks to get better pictures instantly.
Even pros take some bad shots… it’s okay.
Put some tape over the bottom of the screen. This will force you to reframe. Often, when we take pictures, it’s tempting to put the thing we’re focusing on right in the center. By covering part of the screen, you’ll push the “center” to the top of the image, without even thinking about it.
Move to the light. If you spend $3000 on a camera, it can almost see in the dark. If you spend $300 or less on a camera, you’re going to need more photons. Pictures outside in daylight are usually crisp and clear. Photos inside or at night tend to be blurry. Before giving up, try to move things closer to a light source. And if you’re inside and your photos are blurry, put your subject near a window or outside.
Turn off the flash. Flash would look totally natural if we walked around with headlamps on all day. Notice how professionals almost never point the flash directly at someone from right over the camera? You shouldn’t either. If your flash doesn’t rotate to bounce off nearby walls, just turn it off.
Don’t be a square. We see the world from angles, not always straight on like a game of Super Mario. Don’t let your subjects face the camera directly. Tell them to point their feet slightly away from the camera and they’ll look slimmer, and you’ll look like a better photographer!
Take more than one. Don’t ever stop after just one picture. You’re not paying to develop the film, so don’t be stingy! Even the pros need a lot more than one shot to get it right.
Ready to take your shooting to the next level? We can get you started with a Canon T3i rental!
Looking for a video camera or camcorder? If you’re an amateur and don’t aspire to be a cinematographer, you probably want a camera that will handle exposure, focus, and other adjustments for you. We suggest you start by looking at camcorder or sport camera… and this post is for you.
We’ve broken these down by price, but before you figure out your budget, remember to leave some room for accessories. A few memory cards, an extra battery, a carry bag, and a decent tripod or camera mount are all important parts of any camera system.
Camcorders (sometimes called palmcorders), differ from sport cameras in one key respect. They offer a zoom lens. They are usually designed to be handheld or mounted on a tripod. Most of them aren’t meant to get wet or be dropped, either.
First things first, you get what you pay for. Anything around this price is going to be a bit difficult to use, and not give the greatest image when compared to the bigger-budget cameras. We feel the Sony HDR-CX-220 is about the only camera worth looking at in this price range. Plan on spending another $100 on memory cards, batteries, a bag, and other accessories. Mediocre in low light, and pretty close to impossible to use with manual settings. If you want to set up a camera to record sporting events in adequate light, this might just do the trick. If you’re shooting indoors on a stage or general indoor lighting, your footage will end up grainy and not so easy to watch. It’s still light years better than most older consumer camcorders. And this camera, like every one on our must-have list, doesn’t need tapes or other difficult media. Just feed it memory cards and save yourself time at the computer later. If you have a standard definition camera, this will seem like a real upgrade in both image quality and ease of use. Just remember, you’re not going to win awards with any camera around this price point.
The Canon Vixia HF R40 is our favorite in this category. You’re still going to have the limitations of the budget camcorders, but at least you get a touch screen, wifi, and some improved optics. If you’re shooting in daylight, this camera will get the job done. Indoors and in low light, you’re going to see some noise. This camera has enough built-in storage for about 30 minutes of video, but a 32GB memory card will only cost you about $20 and record for an extra two hours.
This is the point in pricing where you can finally start to get the image quality in line with some older professional cameras. Our favorite in this category is the Canon Vixia HF G20. Even grandpa should be able to get an adequate image out of this camera, most of the time. It’s designed for the amateur but offers some features for the aspiring professional, including the option of full manual settings. Your extra money is being spent on a much higher quality sensor, a better lens, and a near-pro feature set (despite being crammed in a consumer-looking camcorder body). If you’re an amateur trying to record indoors, or a young filmmaker who wants to dabble with manual controls, this is a great option. Most organizations, clubs, and groups we talk with end up going with the HF G20 for recording concerts, dances, and other performances, since it looks and sounds good, and can be operated by almost any volunteer. If you invest in a fluid-head tripod, you can get very watchable footage without much practice or technical know-how.
This category of camera is all about action. Usually designed to be worn, strapped, or clamped to something, they tend to be resistant to water and other hazards. They use wide lenses, which means that things up close will look great, with a lot of perspective. Things far away will look impossibly small. Mount the camera on your head and even your feet will look small! These are the cameras to use while skydiving and snorkeling, not for a dance recital. Sound varies between mediocre and terrible, but that shouldn’t matter for your motorcycle ride or deep-sea dive, anyway, right?
If you’re thinking about getting a sport camera and don’t need high framerates, the Go Pro Hero 3 White Edition is easily our favorite option under $200. With wifi, the best image in its class, and the huge library of Go Pro mounts and other accessories, this sport camera stands out. And when your buddy leaves it at the bottom of the lake, at least it was only $200!
A recent price drop on the Go Pro Hero 3 Black Edition brought it to around $330. If you want to use the money you save to buy some accessories, we suggest a 32GB micro SDHC card and extra batteries. Video from this camera is used on major broadcast networks and in commercials, and is some of the most incredible footage we ever see. The only downside is the price drop means a new one is probably on the way. Our crystal ball says the Go Pro Hero 4 series will be here in time to put under the Christmas tree.
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.
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.
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!
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